Friday, December 30, 2011

Comfort: Hamburg, Celery, Potato Soup

This soup is one that my mom used to make when I was a kid. Talk about "comfort food". And I have been needing this comfort (a lot going on). I think she used to make it when she had celery that needed used up quickly. That's the reason I made it.....

Plus, I got to use my new garlic slicer. OH MY GOODNESS!! This is a must have kitchen gadget.

Just look at the thin garlic slices you get. And they cook up gorgeous. I can see this being used as a pizza topping....are you with me?

I had a package of celery hearts that needed to be used quickly. That is what happens when you spend ten days in Arizona and leave food in the frig.....

Three main ingredients in this soup: hamburg, celery, and potatoes. How can something so simple taste so great? Make this on a cold winter's evening, and you will see what I'm talking about.

I hope you love this as much as I do.

Hamburg, Celery, Potato Soup

1 lb. hamburger, or ground beef of your choice
1/3 c. chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 (32 oz.) carton vegetable broth
2 tsp. beef soup base
3 c. water
1 bunch sliced celery hearts (leaves included)
7 small potatoes, cubed
Sprinkle with white pepper to your liking

Brown ground beef, onion, and garlic together (drain if necessary). When ground beef is done browning, add Worcestershire sauce, vegetable broth, soup base, water, celery, potatoes, and white pepper. Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer and cover. Simmer for 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

J.I.T. You Know What That Means! Pumpkin Cheesecake

J.I.T. (just in time), (I hope!). Yes, this is the eve of Christmas Eve, which means many of you will be attending feasts tomorrow, and the next day. So, take today to make this wonderful cheesecake. It turned out fantastic!

I used the traditional graham cracker crust but I added instant coffee granules and chopped walnuts. Walnuts + Pumpkin = Pure Bliss. But adding coffee to the mix? That equals PURE BLISSEST! (Is that even a word?)

The coffee flavor mixed with the pumpkin, cream cheese, and spices makes this cheesecake rich. And the crust is not the only place that coffee was added. It was added to the topping too. So the cheesecake is sandwiched between heavenly coffee.....

In the oven it goes....

Right out of the oven.....

Okay, I have a very important question: Does anyone know of any tips or tricks on how to get a smooth cut on a cheesecake?

The ones you see in bakeries and grocery stores have such a smooth cut, they almost look like they were baked that way (jealous!).

Plated and ready to go to my Christmas feast tonight. And look, I get to use my new cake plate that I bought from Sax Thrift Avenue.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you; The ingredients in the cheesecake had to be modified to the ingredients I had in my frig.
This is the recipe I created:

Pumpkin Cheese Cake

crust
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
4 1/2 TBS butter, melted
3 TBS sugar
1 TBS instant coffee granules (dissolved in melted butter)
1/3 c. chopped fine walnuts

pumpkin filling
2 pkg. 8 oz. each cream cheese, soft
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 (15 oz.) can pure pumpkin
3/4 c. cottage cheese
1 1/2 tsp. brandy extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. salt
4 large eggs

cream topping
3/4 c. sour cream
1/4 c. cottage cheese
3 TBS sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. instant coffee granules

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a 9" by 3" springform pan, with fork, stir graham cracker crumbs, melted butter with coffee, and sugar until moistened. This can be done in a separate bowl too.
Tightly wrap outside of pan with heavy-duty foil to prevent leakage when baking in water bath later. Bake crust 10 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
Pumpkin Filling: In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat cream cheese until smooth; slowly beat in cottage cheese, extract, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Add eggs one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
Pour pumpkin mixture into crust and place in large roasting pan. Place pan on oven rack. Carefully pour enough boiling water into pan to come 1 inch up side of springform pan. Bake cheesecake 1 hour 20 minutes or until center barely jiggles.
Cream Topping:
In a mixing bowl at medium speed, beat sour cream, cottage cheese, sugar, coffee granules, and vanilla until blended. When cheesecake is done, remove from water bath, pour on the topping smoothing it to the edges evenly. Return cake to water bath and bake 5 more minutes.
Remove cheesecake from water bath to wire rack; discard foil. With a small knife, loosen cheesecake from side of pan to help prevent cracking during cooling. Cool cheesecake completely. Cover and refrigerate cheesecake at least 6 hours or overnight, until well chilled. Remove side of pan to serve.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What A Great Friend: Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies

These sugar cookies came from a wonderful friend of mine, Michael Ann over at The Big Green Bowl. And I'll tell you why I like our friendship. Michael Ann is a very straight forward type of person, and the more we chat, the more I find out that we have tons of things in common. Make sure you visit her blog because she has a lot of great stuff over there. And she is also an awesome writer, definitely my idol.....She has a writing blog called Thinking in My Head. You will have to check that one out too.

When I found this recipe, I contacted Michael Ann with the ideas I had to make changes to this cookie....
Here is where the straight forward comes into play, and I just love her for setting me straight. She told me to make the original recipe first to taste the cookie and then decide on the changes. I took her advice, and I'm so glad I did....What a wonderful cookie. I found out that these are best eaten warm right out of the oven. And then my review of the cold cookie is this: make sure you have a cup of coffee or a glass of milk, because these are awesome dunkers.....

I didn't have any store bought colored sugar so I used course cane sugar and green food coloring to make my own. Worked perfectly!

I also used a large cookie scoop which meant a longer baking time (mine took 15 - 17 minutes). I also had to flatten the cookies a little before baking. If you notice in the picture above, my first batch (without flattening them) look like puffy half moons.

This sugar cookie has the best flavor and texture, and definitely lives up to the name "old fashioned".
Make sure you remove them from the oven right when the edges start turning a golden brown.

Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies

1 c. butter, soft
1 c. powdered sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 c. salad oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. dried lemon peel (McCormick makes it, California lemon peel)
4 1/4 c. bread flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cream of tarter
Colored sugar for tops

This batter needs to sit in the fridge for several hours (I left mine in over night).

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars. Beat in eggs one at a time until light and fluffy. Add oil, vanilla and lemon peel. Beat until well-mixed. In another large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and cream of tartar. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat until well-blended. Wrap and chill dough for 3-4 hours.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Use a cookie scoop (or drop by heaping tsp. then roll into balls) and set about 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with colored sugar. Do not flatten the dough. Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Let sit on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. Store in airtight container or freeze.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Arizona for Christmas

Yes, I am in Arizona as this is being posted....blue skies, palm trees, sunshine, warmth.....This is my first ever warm Christmas. I don't think I'm going to know how to act. Maybe if I wish real hard Christmas will pass by without me even knowing.....Can you tell I'm not a Christmas person? Don't get me wrong, I love the meaning of Christmas and everything it stands for, but the material side of it can leave for all I care.

Mountains, hiking, taking pictures, and site seeing....I don't know if I will be able to handle all this vacation time.

This is Bisbee, Arizona. Such a cute, cute town. It is built right into the side of a mountain. One grocery store, tons of gift shops, walking hills and steps, and shopping galore.....

I am deathly afraid of spiders, but lizards, they are cute. Say hello to my little friend.....

I am going to try and post while I'm in Arizona, but I'm sure it's okay if I miss a few....
If I don't see you before the holiday, have a very Merry Christmas! From my blog to yours....

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Not Photogenic: Crab Salad

Have you ever tried taking pictures of something that is just not photogenic?

Everything I tried with this sandwich didn't work. I tried different angles, different lighting, standing on my head, doing summer salts..... okay, scratch the last two. I didn't try those, but maybe I should have.

My son loves sea food, and while I was at the grocery store browsing I ran across a sale on canned crab. 2 cans for $5.00, so I bought 4. Three cans of crab and one can of baby shrimps. I brought it home and threw together a crab salad for sandwiches.

Crab Salad

3 (6 oz.) Reese all white crab meat, drained
1 (7 oz.) Reese tiny shrimp, drained
2 celery hearts stalks, finely chopped
2 TBS sweet minced onion
3/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. ranch dressing
2/3 c. crushed seasoned croutons
black pepper to taste

Mix all together and fill a pita half. We topped ours with fresh arugula.
You could also add a splash of lemon juice if you'd like.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Are You A Side Person? Vegetable Salad

Usually for a holiday family meal there are the side people and the main course people. More than likely the parents or grandparents provide the main course staples (turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, and veggie), and the rest of the family is in charge of filling in the rest.

So, if you are a side person, I am here to help you out. This salad would be a perfect side for your holiday meal(s).

I don't think I have ever had a broccoli salad as creamy as this one.

Vegetable Salad

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1 head broccoli, broken into florets
1 c. diagonally sliced celery
1 c. diced cooked ham
1/2 c. golden raisins

Dressing
2 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 TBS minced onion

Mix all ingredients together with a whisk and pour over the vegetable mixture. Toss well.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Just A Country Bumpkin: Chicken Gizzards/Noodles over Mashed Potatoes

This is a favorite meal in my house, and I have been making this for years for my children. They love it!

I was raised in the country and my mom used to serve this too. Back then, this was considered a cheap meal. You know, the one income family......

I don't have a recipe for this, but I will try and walk you through it the best I can.

I posted this meal on my Facebook Fan Page and received quite a few YUCKS!.....but if you make them the way I do, I know you will love them.

I realize December is suppose to be filled with Holiday goodies, but I would really like to take time out to share this with you.

Okay....her we go.....

First you have to wash and clean the gizzards. Place them in a large dutch oven.

Cover them with a good amount of water. Probably about two to three inches above the gizzards.

Bring them to a boil (and watch the pot closely, because if they boil over you will have a huge mess. Believe me, I know....).

Turn them down to simmer, cover and simmer for 4 hours.

Add chicken soup base to the water that is already there (to your taste), (I put in 3 to 4 TBS). Uncover after 4 hours and bring them back to a boil. Add your noodles (the amount you will like) and cook to package directions. I like to use the old fashioned noodles in this dish. There will be quite a bit of liquid, but we just tip the ladle to drain when we top our mashed potatoes.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do. A salad on the side is excellent with this, or one of my favorite veggies to serve with this, sliced beets.


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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Definitely A Santa Cookie: Snickerdoodles

This is definitely the perfect Santa cookie. They are soft, chewy, buttery, and full of flavor.

This is for sure going in my FAVORITES box.

I am stuck on using bread flour in cookies. The flour totally changes the texture of a normal cookie. It's amazing how different they are.

And I am in love with this picture......Isn't it funny how a blogger will take twenty or more pictures of their food and fall in love with just one?

This recipe is linked to:

Snickerdoodles

(I doubled this recipe)
1/2 c. butter, soft
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. bread flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt

For sugar mixture
2 TBS sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Mix flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in a bowl. Mix into wet ingredients until smooth. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and roll in cinnamon sugar mix. Bake for 14-16 minutes (mine took exactly 14) or until cookie turns slightly golden.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Who Doesn't Like Favorites? Tagged

Ha! I love being included in the fun.....

Michael Ann at The Big Green Bowl tagged me in a favorites game.

I'm suppose to post my three favorite recipes. Did you notice that I said "MY" favorite recipes? My family doesn't count in this one....it is all about ME.

I am liking this game, and I'm so glad that Michael Ann included me. Do you want the truth? This gives me a chance to create a post. I have fallen so far behind on my blog posts that I can barely see that light at the end of the tunnel. Oh my!!!

So a huge "thank you" goes out to you Michael Ann....

These dark chocolate zucchini muffins are the bomb. I am a huge dark chocolate fan, and these muffins are the darkest chocolate you can get.....

The fresh raspberry bars are one of my favorites too. The tart of the lemon and sweet of the raspberries make your taste buds explode into excitement. An experience you will never forget.

Chicken salad is a weakness of mine, but this one is something special. It has honey in it. The honey and toasted pecans make this chicken salad rich. And it makes me keep going back for more....which that's not a good thing, right?

Tag you're it!!



Show us what you got.....

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Friday, December 2, 2011

An Addition: Pumpkin Bread (cream cheese filling)

Do you remember the Starbucks clone pumpkin bread recipe that I posted last week?

Just click on the green words and it will take you to the recipe.

Anyway, I placed an addition in that bread.

I placed half the batter in a bread pan.

Swirled in a cream cheese mixture.

Topped it with the rest of the bread batter, and swirled in more of the cream cheese mixture.

Topped it with chopped walnuts and baked it. And yes, I was holding my breath the whole time, and chanting, "I hope this turns out, I hope this turns out...."

This was going to a family Thanksgiving meal, and I wanted it to be perfect. And it was!

Since I gave you the link to the bread recipe, I will just place the cream cheese mixture here.

Cream Cheese Mixture For Bread, Muffins, Cupcakes, etc....

1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, soft
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 TBS light brown sugar

Mix all together with a mixer.

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