Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Dinner

 Well, I certainly hope everyone has had a wonderful Easter weekend.
We had a quiet day, which is always nice. Hubby took Kikkoman and Petey out for a long (for them) walk in the sunshine (and snow) and they just loved it. Moki was very sad that she didn't get to go, but she will get a turn later. Kikko is really doing very well off leash and Hubby was happy to report that, even with the distraction of several other dogs and kids, he listened well and, eventually, did as he was told. So, yay there..
Teenager went over to her sister's yesterday, which is at least part of why our weekend has been so quiet. :) She is over there getting use to the newest member of her sister's family.. Ruby, a baby pot bellied pig. Very cute little thing, but she is very young and is still learning what she is and is not allowed to do. 
We're still waiting for Hubby's unemployment to end. There is possible hope being dangled in front of us right now, and in many ways, that is much worse then the not knowing anything at all. But I have a really good feeling about this week. 

Anyway, for our "Big Easter Feast" I always make a roasted chicken. This year Hubby requested a BBQ chicken, so to tie into that theme I made a pickled potato salad, corn on the cob, bread sticks and (for hubby..) pop biscuits, pickled deviled eggs and a blueberry lemon dump cake. I will also be pulling out some pickled beets from the pantry.

And not on to the recipes:
BBQ Roast Chicken

1 5 lb whole chicken
1/4 a medium onion roughly chopped
Your favorite bbq sauce. I used a hickory one
1/2 c water

Place chicken in your roasting pan. Insert chopped onion into cavity. Slather with bbq sauce. Make it as messy as you like. Add 1/2 c water to the bottom of the pan. Cover and let roast for @ 1 and a half hours until chicken is done and juices run clear. Carve as desired and move to serving plate.

Bread sticks

I so cheated this one the most by far. I used a package of Arrowhead Mills pizza crust mix and followed the instructions on the back for making bread sticks instead of pizza crust. I coated with olive oil dded a little salt and some parma.

 (Pictured on plate above.)

Davina's Pickled Potato Salad

5 small to medium potatoes, diced, boiled and drained
1 pint bottle pickled potatoes or turnips, drained
½ medium onion, diced
4 hard boiled eggs, diced
3 dill pickles (or 7 baby pickles) diced
4 stalks celery, diced (optional)
4-5 cloves pickled garlic, diced (or “plain” diced garlic)
salt and pepper to taste
mustard, regular and/or spicy

So after boiling potatoes and eggs and allowing to cool, dice everything as finely or roughly as you'd like and combine everything into a large bowl. Mix to combine. Make this with spicey mustard and even horseradish if you'd like, or leave it mild and mellow. Add in some dill or other herbs.
Let refrigerate over night for best results.

Red and Yellow Pickled Deviled Eggs

I have to share this little experiment we did. A few days ago one of our friends was asking if we ever did pickled eggs. We never had, and neither of us had ever tried eating them. So this got us thinking about it and I boiled 3 eggs. 2 of them we stuck in a pickle jar that we'd just removed the last pickle from and the third one I stuck in the jar of pickled beets. We haven't pulled the "traditional" ones yet, but yesterday I pulled the one out of the beets. Oh that was a good egg. It was a beautiful color and the flavor was wonderful. Slightly sweet but nothing over powering. And the flavor of the yolk...  I will admit, I've never been a fan of egg yolks in hard boiled eggs. The flavor and texture just turn me off. But with this egg, I liked it. I wished I'd had more. So when I was boiling eggs for the potato salad, I made a few extra and I put them into the beets. This is what lead us to our red and yellow pickled deviled eggs.
I took the eggs out of the pickle juice and out of the pickled beet juice, sliced in half and harvested the yolks. To the yolks I added some mayo, a little bit of pickle juice and some dill. Return mixture to eggs and top with additional dill.

Roasted Corn on the Cob

Shuck your corn getting all husks and hair removed.  Place on a piece of tinfoil large enough to wrap your corn. Add butter and any seasonings you'd like. (We usually add a smidge of salt, some pepper and a little garlic) Wrap securely in foil and place in oven at 350 for about 20 minutes.
I realized after dinner that I forgot to put corn on the plate before taking pictures.. Actually, we forgot to even put it on the table. opps..  But we were all so full without it, we really didn't mind, and it means we'll have it for later! (Hubby is an Indiana boy, so he could sit and eat corn all day if I'd let him... of course, I'm a mix of Idaho and Nebraska so I'd likely join him, though I'd stop for tators once in a while.. hehee)
So here is what the finished corn looked like:

Lemon Blueberry Dump Cake

Mix cake mix according to package directions, adding a wee bit of lemon extract. Add more or less depending on how lemony you want your cake.
Pour into greased cake pan and add dollops of blueberry pie filling throughout the cake. Bake according to directions. You may need to add some additional bake time to allow for the pie filling. Allow to cool and serve with whipped cream or cool whip.

Now, I also made some pop biscuits for Hubby and the Teen. I pretty much did this just so I could try making those silly biscuit bunnies that have been all over Facebook this past few weeks. so glad we didn't have super high expectations.

Here's what they looked like going into the oven...

And this is what they looked like when they were done. We decided they looked more like deranged and angry cats then bunnies. Oh well.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Name that Chicken!

So Friday afternoon I started thinking about what we were going to do for dinner. I knew it was going to involve chicken. I had a package of chicken pieces thawing in the fridge. But I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it. So I took to the internet to look for ideas.
I found a recipe that sounded good, but was going to need a little bit of tweaking as I didn't have quite everything called for, and there were a few herbs and spices that Hubby HATES so I couldn't use those.  So, it wound up taking a few turns.
It turned out pretty well though. Hubby loved the sauce, and when we were discussing names for this recipe, the Teenager replied with, "Food, the good kind" as her submission... lol

I made a bit more then I'm going to give you ingredients for. I made a lot so I can take it a bit easy tomorrow and not have to cook so much.

1 4-lb chicken, cut into pieces (or approximate values for thighs or drumsticks, etc..)
1 tsp salt
2-3 tbsp oil (I used a red pepper infused olive oil)

1 c chicken broth or stock
1/2 c white wine (or more stock)
1 small onion, sliced
2 tbsp dried mushrooms

14 oz can crushed tomatoes
2-3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp basil
1-2 bay leaves
2 oz diced jalapenos

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and fry chicken pieces until browned. Lightly season chicken with salt while frying. Remove and set aside.

To skillet, add chicken broth, white wine, onion and mushrooms. Saute onions until soft. Liquid will reduce some and that is ok.

While onions are cooking, combine tomatoes, garlic and basil.  Once onions are soft, add tomato mixture to the onions and add bay leaves. Return chicken to the pan and add jalapenos.

Cover and let simmer for about 40 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Onions and tomatoes will caramelize a bit. This makes them delicious..


 Serve with buttered rice and salad.

Bonus note:  Ok, so I have this lovely 14 inch cast iron fry pan. I love this pan. But I don't have a lid for it. I really need to go find one, but for now, I don't have one, and until Hubby gets back on the lists of the employed, I'm not going to be getting one soon.. But, I have a work around for this. Hopefully this will be an obvious hint for most of you, but I know there is always one :)

And a contest... of sorts...

We couldn't agree on a name for this dish, so I've decided to open it up to suggestions! Some audience participation as it were.. So, what would you call this dish?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Oatmeal Cookie Day!

So, apparently today is national oatmeal cookie day. We have one of those, maybe two.. I've noticed some of these things wind up with duplicates because someone wasn't paying attention.. anyway, as luck would have it, I've been planning on trying to come up with a cookie recipe to use up some of our supply if bottled carrots. They made such lovely dog cookies that they really just needed a wee bit of tweaking to make decent people cookies.
So here is my first ever attempt at cookie recipe creation. It might go through some refinements over the next few months, but it's a pretty good start, and it's pretty simple.

Oatmeal Carrot Pumpkin Cookies

3/4 c pureed carrots
3/4 c canned pumpkin or home made pumpkin puree
1 c certified gluten free oats (I am using Bob's Red Mill brand)
1 egg
1 1/4 c sugar
1/2 c coconut flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients and mix well, adding chocolate chips last.

Drop by spoonfuls onto your baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes

Remove to a wire rack or plate and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container, refrigerator or freezer.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St Patrick's Day Pot Roast

So today is St Patrick's Day. My family never really did much to celebrate this day. I do have some Irish in me, but, growing up, we never did much more then maybe put some green food coloring in things.
After I grew up and went out on my own, I started doing a bit more. I'm still no fan of corned beef, but I love colcannon and some lightly steamed cabbage wedges with my roast beef. And I loved soda bread. There are oodles of recipes for gluten free soda bread, but this year I gave it a skip. Since I married 10 years ago, I only make colcannon on the years my hubby's not home for the holiday, as he can't stand it. Doesn't like me messing up good potatoes by putting "weeds" in them. We do compromise and sometimes I will make potato cakes or something instead. I do occasionally make colcannon and the like for myself anyway, but this year I'm going fairly simple. This is partially due to our financial situation right now, and partially because I accidentally glutened myself earlier this week and have been dealing with massive headaches and fatigue all week, so simple is better..
So our Sunday dinner on this holiday weekend, is going to be a very simple pot roast.

3.5 lb beef shoulder roast
1/2 c beef stock
1/4 c Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c sherry
1 small onion, chopped
additional seasoning as desired
cabbage wedges, mushrooms, optional
*additional root veggies if desired

I started by putting my roast into my roasting pan and adding a nice dry rub of salt, pepper and, by request, some steak seasoning.  Then added my liquids around and to the bottom of the pan.
Sometimes I will brown my roasts first, today I didn't because I was honestly just feeling too lazy to do it.. :)

Then I quartered several potatoes, cut up some carrots and a small onion and added them to the pan. Add as many root veggies as you'd like to fill the pan. I then scattered about 2 handfuls of dried mushrooms, crumbled, to the top.
I will be adding a small wedge of cabbage to the top of this later, but that won't need nearly the cook time that the rest of this all will.

I placed the lid on the pan and put it in the oven at 300 degrees and let it cook for about 3 hours or so. I put the cabbage in for about 10 minutes at the end.
When everything is done, remove veggies to serving plate and move roast to it's serving plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes or so. While meat is resting, you will have time to make gravy from the drippings! Place about a tablespoon of corn starch into a small bowl and add a small amount of the liquids from your pan. Whisk together until starch is fully dissolved. Add this back into the pan and place your roaster over medium heat. Whisk together and bring to a boil, stirring frequently until it has thickened.
Slice everything up and serve.

Pot roast with potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Covered in onions and gravy. Yum!
Hubby thought this was one of the best roasts ever. The Teenager wasn't home this evening, so we will be waiting on her input until later.. unless hubby goes back for thirds.. or fourths... He skipped the steamed cabbage and just had cole slaw.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Experiment gone to the dogs...

We have a bunch of bottled carrots that I did a while back. It was the first time I'd done bottled carrots and we had quite a few of them. My hubby LOVES carrots, so I wanted to set as many by as I could while we had access to a large quantity. I pickled some and they turned out lovely. Everyone loves the pickled carrots. However, for some reason I still haven't figured out, the "regular" bottled carrots turned out rather bitter. And kind of mushy.
I hate to just toss the lot of them, so every once in a while I will pull a pint or two out and try to find something I can use them for. So far I haven't had much luck, but I decided that it was time to try again. Money is tight so I need to see what I can do with what I have, and that includes those silly, stupid bitter carrots.
I had an idea about doing a carrot soup. I wanted to try it on a small batch so as not to waste other items if it went south. I'm glad about that, because it so very much did not work. I was going for a creamy carrot ginger flair, but even after adding honey, and then more honey, it was still bitter and I decided I'd had enough of messing with it for the day.
But I still hate to just throw things out. Especially when I can still make use of something. And we have dogs who would just love it if I made them some carrot ginger treats.

First, I need to say, I do not have exact measurements for this. I was experimenting an had planned, if this worked at all, to do a "proper" batch tomorrow and take measurements, and pictures, etc. But after this failed today, I thought that it would be good to show how I still managed to turn it into something positive.

So, for the "failed soup", I used:
1 pint bottled carrots
1/2-1 cup of rice milk
1 tbsp of canned pumpkin
1-2 tsp pureed, bottled ginger
2-3 tbsp honey

(I was going to use some broth and other things, but it just wasn't going there and I wasn't going to waste things I might need later..)

To this concoction, I added:
2-3 tbsp powdered whole eggs
@2 cups quick cooking oatmeal

Mix this all up and place by spoonfuls onto a baking tray or stone.

I let these bake for about 15 minutes.
Then let cool. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

Little one on the left is Gir, Moki in the middle, and her son Petey on the right

Kikkoman up front on the left, Gir, Moki, and Petey not looking at me. He'd the shy one..
Be followed around, stared at, beggered and pestered by a seriously happy bunch of doggies.
Kikkoman was following me around trying to get a second one while he was still holding his first in his mouth. They are still watching me now wanting more...
It's (false) break up season here, which means melting, which means mud. 4 dogs = blankets on furniture..

I think they approve. So, just keep this in mind. You cooking failures can almost always still be turned into a win with a little creativity.
(I will also admit that I tried these.. and they're not bad. A little more tweaking and they'd be pretty darn good cookies for people, too.)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Enchilada Casserole

Ok, this one is NOT healthy or diet friendly, but it is good and one my family enjoys. Some of the ingredients change based on what I have to hand and if I've thought about it far enough in advance to have made some of the other options.. (sometimes we will add sliced olives, or left over rice or shredded chicken, or make a proper cheese sauce instead of one from a can, but sometimes, we just go with it... ) This is a go with it night. We will be serving with a big cabbage salad with this tonight so as not to completely clog our arteries all in one go. A nice spanish/mexicali rice would also go well with this. One of these days I will need to work out a gluten free sopapilla recipe or something to go with this as well.

1 lb ground beef (or turkey/chicken)
@ 1 1/2 tbsp McCormick taco seasoning
1/3 -1/5 onion, diced
3 tbsp taco sauce
16 oz can of refried beans
15 oz can of nacho cheese sauce
14 oz can of diced tomatoes
4 oz jar of diced jalapenos
about 16-18 corn tortillas, sliced or torn
shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

 Brown your ground beef, adding the onions and taco seasoning. While it is cooking, place beans, cheese sauce, tomatoes and most of the jalapenos into a bowl. Save a few of the peppers for later use.  Once the meat is done, add it the the mixture in the bowl. Stir to combine and add taco sauce to adjust the heat to where you want it. We're sticking with fairly mild tonight, but heat it up to where you're comfortable.

Lightly spray a 9x12 or so baking dish. Place a layer of tortilla strips on the bottom of the pan.

Add a coating of enchilada sauce.

Dust with cheese. I would normally add a bit more cheese then you are seeing here. Remember, we're still in food storage mode.

Spoon the filling mixture into the pan and spread evenly.

Top with another layer of tortillas, sauce and cheese.

Add a second layer of filling and then cover again with a final layer of tortillas.

Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over this top layer of tortillas, cover in cheese and sprinkle with remaining jalapenos.

Bake for about an hour. Lets stand to cool then serve with rice or salad or veggies

** UPDATE **
Just wanted to let everyone know how good this is.. Teenager had 2 HUGE servings of this last night. Hubby and I kept it to one, but had salad. And the left overs were demolished for lunch the next day.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tomato Bacon Soup, 2 versions

So, yesterday, one of my friends on facebook let me know about a project who was looking for non-gmo recipes for a cookbook. She thought it would be something I might be interested in submitting a recipe for.
It did sound pretty cool and I gave it a little bit of thought. I don't have a lot of money right now to work on some fabulous new recipe so figured I'd look back at some I've done in the past. Something simple and basic, but a little bit different. This one came to mind, though it would take a little bit of tweaking to ensure it would meet the non-gmo standard.
Of course, this time of year, up here in Alaska, good fresh tomatoes are hard to come by. Most of the hot house ones we get right now are just bland and tasteless, which is why we rely so much on canned tomato products particularly during the winter. So I had to sit down and to some calculating and some wiggling.
I do tend to grow my own tomatoes and peppers during the summer, and some years I have gotten very good yields. The last 2 years have not been quite so forthcoming, due to infestations of aphids, spider mites, and a flying foster dog who somehow managed, repeatedly, to overcome any and all barriers set in order to invade my growing window and kill about half my plants this last summer. I was so happy when that little dude got adopted.. lol
In the years I have good yields though, I have bottled or frozen my "spare" tomatoes. This is really the best method for ensuring that your food is safe, non-gmo, pesticide free, etc.. just make sure that you start with good seed.
Barring that, though, get the best product you can. If that means canned, well, I do it all the time because Alaska is, well, Alaska and some times, if you want variety, you take what you can get, especially for long term storage, but, always get the best you can.
Not a whole lot of pictures for this one.

Now, for the story behind this recipe:

A while back, Hubby was working on the slope and he came home from one hitch and wanted me to try making Tomato Bacon Soup. He'd had something similar up at work and thought it was good and something I should add to the menu rotation if we could figure it out. Well, we succeeded and he loves it.
I am going to include 2 versions of this recipe. First will be the original, and the second will be the non-gmo recipe submitted one. There are some differences, but both are very good.

So, here's what went in to it the first time:

1 can (large, but not huge family size type) Crushed Tomatoes in juice
1 can (regular) Italian style diced tomatoes (the kind with basil, garlic and oregano)
4 fresh tomatoes chopped, seeds, juice and all
6 green onions
a bit of green bell peppers
couple sprigs of fresh thyme (cuz I had it, if you don't have it you can use dried)

6 strips of thick cut pork bacon
6 strips turkey bacon

Put everything except the bacon in a pot and let bubble and boil til it all cooks down nicely. Run that all through the blender to puree it good and smooth.

I then split it into 2 batches (I am on a low salt diet and don't really like pork much, so I did the turkey version for me and pork for him. You are free to do as you want.) and then started frying up the bacon. I chopped it all up into small pieces and fried it til just crisp then added it and the fats to the soup. Stir well. I then let it sit until dinner time (about an hour and a half or so) then reheated to eating temperatures and served with garlic bread. It is good. I would probably add a bit more onion and bell pepper and maybe some mushrooms to it next time, but hubby thinks it's perfect the way it is. This is definitely going to be something we add to the regular monthly menu. 

And the second, up-dated, non-gmo version (always remember to check labels and verify the status of your ingredients)

For this recipe you will need:

2 quarts diced, seeded tomatoes - fresh or bottled (if bottled, make sure they are non-gmo. I do my own bottling of tomatoes I grow every year.)
6 green onions, chopped fine
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
basil, garlic, oregano and thyme to taste
salt and pepper to taste

6-8 strips of bacon, organic and uncured, pork, turkey or a combination of the two.
* optional:
additional onion
more diced tomato

Place everything except the bacon into a large pot and cook over medium heat. If using fresh tomatoes, you may need to add a little bit of liquid. (Stock or a nice cooking wine would add a nice flavor. I always have some home made chicken stock on hand.) Let this come to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let it reduce by about a third, to a half, depending on how much liquid you had.
Allow to cool slightly and run it through your blender or food processor. You are looking for a smooth pureed texture. Return to the pot.

While the tomatoes are reducing, chop your bacon into rough pieces and fry until just crispy. If desired, add your mushrooms, and/or other items and cook those with the bacon.
Add the bacon, and, if desired, the bacon drippings, to the tomato puree. Return to simmer and allow flavors to come together.

Let soup sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, March 1, 2013

House warming tasty bits.

So, a few weeks ago a friend asked if I would make some gluten free snacks for a house warming party they are having this weekend. I agreed to do so and thought of this as an excuse to spend the weeks in between trying some of the fancier recipes I've put off trying.. gluten free eclairs, puff pastries, and the sort.
Then Hubby got laid off. It's been 3 weeks now and still nothing has presented itself. Lots of work in his field is coming... in April. That's great and all, but work, and a paycheck, NOW would be even better.
Anyway, this rather put the kibosh on some of my ideas, but I still wanted to do something for them, so I pulled out a few things that we'd already tried before, and then tried a few modifications on them. I won't be posting recipes today, because I used recipes that aren't mine, but I will post the links to the recipes along with notes as to what modifications were made.

So, first up, Thursday I spent making pop tarts, both a sweet, with some of my home made jams, and a savory version. For the savory version, I cut the sugar down to a third of what was called for and added about 2 more tablespoons of butter to the dough, and added some garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. For the filling, I used shredded chicken, refried beans, and nacho cheese sauce to make a chicken enchilada filling.
I cut them all this time with a biscuit cutter for uniformity in size and shape.

Then, for dinner we had nachos :)

Friday, I started off having allergic sneezing fits. *sigh* That is always the case when you have big plans. Anyway, once I got to the point where I had things under control enough to see what I was doing, I started in on pretzel dough and kringle dough. Both are yeast doughs and have sit/rise times, so, all told, I spent about 6 hours cooking today (and of course, Teenager now wants to know what is for dinner.. sheesh.. can I have a 10 minute break?? Someone needs to take out the trash and unload/reload the dishwasher so I have room to do any more cooking today... hrm.. we still have taco meat left over.. maybe nachos again tonight...)

Pretzel dough
My family LOVES pretzels and we had just found our favorite soft pretzel recipe shortly before I had to make the switch to gluten free, so finding a good GF soft pretzel recipe was a MUST. This recipe right here is the best one we've come across so far. They don't hold up well for long, but that is really rarely a problem as few of them last more then a day or two.

We decided to try things a little different with this recipe for this weekend. I'd been trying to come up with a good meat roll type item for this and the idea hit me earlier this week that I needed to try it with pretzels. So, pretzel piggies were born.

 I used the cheese flavored little smokies for this. We don't have them very often, but this seemed like a good time to pull them out. I took a little bit of the dough, rolled it into a ball then flattened it into an oblong disk.

Wrap the little smokie up and seal the edge.

 When your tray is full, wrap in plastic and let set for the second rise time.

Then on to the soda water bath.. 

Then back onto the tray to go into the oven.  Brush them with an egg wash and sprinkle with a little course salt.
Pretzel Piggies!

Next up are the kringles.
I did two of them, one following the instructions at the original site here. I opted for a cinnamon sugar and walnut filling for this one. Word of warning, sometimes the dough decided to be.. uncooperative.. This one fell apart on me while moving from the table to the pan. It still tastes wonderful, it just doesn't look as pretty as it could have... good thing I'm slicing them up anyway.
not so pretty kringle

For my second kringle, I decided to try a chocolate nutella one.
I added 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and a dash of cinnamon to the dough.

And I got this.. lovely, lovely dough..

Which behaved itself much better for it's transfer, after being spread with a filling of nutella and brown sugar and cinnamon.
It got a little more cinnamon sugar over the top then into the oven it went.

Not much to look at at this point, but, oh did it ever smell nice.. It got set to cool, as had the other one, then it was time to add a little glaze and slice them up..

yummy gooey

cinnamon walnut swirly...

 So we have a nice plate of kringle...

And a nice pan of pretzel piggies and hand tarts (there is another layer under what is seen here...)

Here's hoping these will be as big of a hit at the housewarming on Saturday as they have been here at the house. I know I will be making pretzel piggies again in the future.


We had left over pretzel dough, which was planned... Hubby wanted me to try deep frying them.. so, I did..

First I formed them into bite sized bits and let them go for their second rise. Then they went into the soda bath and then into the fryer.

This is what came out. They formed a nice crunchy crust with a soft center. They aren't as pretty as the ones at a certain burger establishment that my husband adores, but, they were just as tasty (says he, I've never had their pretzel bites..)
We are trying to keep a few of these around for a few days to see how they will hold up, but I'm not sure they will last the night.