Sunday, December 22, 2013

Strawberry Holiday Salad

Every Thanksgiving and every Christmas, our family has a pretty set menu: turkey, green beans, dressing, sweet potato casserole, and strawberry salad. Sometimes we jazz it up with biscuits or muffins. If we're feeling really adventurous, the green beans will become the green bean casserole that I've previously referenced. But for the most part, our menu is set. We've figured out what tastes good. Strawberry salad is our traditional pseudo-dessert. It gets served alongside everything else, so you can eat it as a side dish if you want, but pretty much everyone eats it as dessert. After a lot of rich food, it's sweet enough but not too sweet, and it satisfies everyone's urge for a palate cleanser after turkey and gravy. An hierloom recipe in our house, for good reason.

Strawberry Holiday Salad

2 boxes strawberry jello
1 box frozen strawberries (do not defrost)
2 mashed bananas (you can also slice the bananas if you like your bananas chunkier)
1 1/2 cup boiling water
1 small can crushed pineapple

Stir jello and water together until jello is dissolved in boiling water. Add frozen strawberries, stir until strawberries are all separated. Add pineapple and bananas. Pour into 3 qt pyrex  baking dish, refridgerate until set.

Serves: 6-8

Quick Sour Cream Rolls

These are addictively tasty, and they're fast to make. The one caution I would give is that they're buttery. So if you usually serve your biscuits in basket with a bread-cloth (this is how I was brought up, and is a staple for serving biscuits or muffins in the South), your bread-cloth may get stained with the butter in these rolls. So better to serve these with paper towels that can soak up any buttery residue instead of ruining a breadcloth on these tasty, tasty, TASTY rolls.

Quick Sour Cream Rolls

2 1/2 cups bisquick, DIVIDED (I always use bisquick, but you can use the biscuit mix of your choice)
8 oz sour cream
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine 2 cups of the biscuit mix with the sour cream and butter. Stir well. Place the rest of the biscuit mix into a small bowl, and use it to flour your hands as you roll out tablespoon-sized balls from the mixed dough. Use two lightly-greased muffin tins (VERY lightly greased, as in, I usually don't actually grease the muffin tins because I don't need to. But if you really want to grease your muffin tins, err on the side of VERY LIGHT), and deposit three balls of dough per muffin cup.

Bake at 350F for 15-20 min, or until tops of rolls are golden brown. Turn them out of the muffin tin, and serve immediately.

Serves: 4-5. The yield here is 1 dozen rolls (two muffin tins' worth), but I'll guarantee you that everyone you serve will eat at least two of these things.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mom's Pork Chops

The 'mom' in the title is actually my grandmother, from whom this recipe comes. It's simple, but tastes good and makes a great accompaniment to mashed potatoes on a night when you don't want to spend that much time making dinner.

Mom's Pork Chops

3 bone-in pork chops (you can use 2 or 4, just one chop for each person you intend to serve)
1 tbsp butter
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp prepared yellow mustard (whole grain mustard also works, but I prefer a smooth kind)
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce

Salt and pepper pork chops, then brown on both sides in butter over medium-high heat. Remove from pan. Using same pan and remaining butter, brown onion. Add next four ingredients, and stir to make a sauce. Add the pork chops back in, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes. Serve pork chops immediately with gravy for rice or mashed potatoes.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Egg Noodles

These are the perfect noodles for chicken noodle soup. I was surprised how easy they were to make. It really does take both cups of flour, even though that sounds like a lot. The first time I made this I tried to half it and soon realized that the whole recipe doesn't make as much as you'd think.

Egg Noodles

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
2 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup water

Make a well in center of flour, Add egg yolks, egg and salt; mix thoroughly. Mixture will be crumbly, with pea-sized crumbs. Mix in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is stiff, but easy to roll. Knead for about 5 minutes adding additional flour if necessary to make a dough that is not sticky. Dough should be relatively stiff.

Divide dough into 2 or 3 equal parts. Roll dough, one part at a time, into a thin rectangle layer on well floured board. Don't skimp on the flour here, you'll need it to get the noodles off the board later. Slice dough into 1/4" thick noodle-shaped strips. Place cut noodles onto a clean towel to dry, for about 1 to 2 hours. (Drying keeps the noodles separated when you add them to your broth to cook)

Extra noodles can be frozen for future use.

Chicken Marsala

This is one very, very delicious chicken recipe. Served with simple sides like mashed potatoes and green beans, it really does taste like a million bucks. Definitely a 'serve it for company' kind of meal!

Chicken Marsala

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
4 small boneless chicken breasts (two large breasts butterflied in half)
3 tbsp unsalted sweet cream butter
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small sweet onion, finely minced
12 oz white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 1/4 cups Marsala
1 cup chicken broth
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup heavy cream (milk is also acceptable)

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and pepper. One at a time, coat both sides of each chicken breast with the flour, and set aside. Reserve any flour that doesn't stick to the chicken, you'll use it later.

In a large non-stick saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 1 1/2 tbsp of the butter with the olive oil. Working in batches, cook the chicken about 2 1/2 minutes on each side, or until there's a nice golden-brown sear. The chicken doesn't have to cook all the way through, if your chicken breasts are too thick to get done in that time it's okay. Remove the chicken to a plate for a moment.

Add the remaining butter to the pan to melt, then add the onions. Saute until the onions are translucent (this shouldn't take long), then add the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms saute until they've not only softened, but have begun to caramelize on the edges. It should smell really nice and almost beefy at this point, and the mushrooms should have rendered back out most of the butter/oil that they soaked up when they first began sauteing.

A little at a time, stirring constantly, add the flour mixture that you didn't use to coat the chicken to the mushrooms and butter in the pan to make a roux. Leave it long enough to cook the flour in the roux (about 2-3 minutes tops), then add the Marsala and chicken broth to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits and stirring them into the sauce. Add the oregano, stir, and allow the whole thing to simmer for a moment. Return the chicken to the pan, cover it, turn the heat down to low, and allow the whole thing to simmer for 30 minutes.

When you're ready to serve, remove the chicken to your serving bowl. Add the 1/2 cup cream to the sauce, and turn the heat up to high. Stir and simmer for five or so minutes to allow the sauce to thicken, then taste and adjust seasonings. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the serving bowl, and serve immediately.

Serves: 4


Not really sure why this one is called Johnnycake (a perversion of journey cake, perhaps?), but it's a recipe that my family has had for a long time. It really goes well with soup.


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350F. 

Mix the dry ingredients. Cut in the shortening. Add the milk all at once. Stir until moistened. Pour into a greased 8x8 baking pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out smooth. 

Serves: 4-6

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Deconstructed Ratatouille

This medley of roasted vegetables is easy to make and tastes just like summer to me. It gets its name and flavor inspirations from the classic French dish, but instead of the Julia Childs casserole approach, this version goes for a fast and laid-back chunky style that makes for a no-fuss side dish with tons of flavor. You can play with what vegetables and herbs you add here; I didn't use any eggplant because I dislike the texture, but half an eggplant with the seeds removed would fit in just fine. I used rosemary because I have a huge rosemary plant next to my kitchen door, but if you've got fresh basil or marjoram or parsley or thyme those would work also. The key for both vegetables and herbs is fresh. This dish is supposed to taste like it just walked out of the garden, dusted off its pants, and sat down at your dinner table.

Deconstructed Ratatouille

1 squash
1 zucchini
1/2 sweet onion
6 oz white mushrooms
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Begin by chopping the squash, zucchini, onion, and mushrooms into approximate 1/2 inch cubes. It doesn't have to be perfect, you're just going for bite-sized chunks. Dump them all into a bowl and pour a little less than a tbsp of olive oil over them, just enough to coat all the veggies when you stir them around well. Line a 13x9 baking pan with tin foil, and spread the vegetables into a layer on top. Sprinkle rosemary, salt, and pepper evenly over the veggies.

Cook for 1 hr uncovered, stirring every 20 minutes. When you take it out to stir at the 40 minute mark, add the tomatoes so that they only cook the final 20 minutes (tomatoes don't take nearly as long as the other veggies to roast). The roasting time here is flexible depending on how big your vegetables were and how you cut them, so just use your best judgement. The juices at the bottom of the dish should be mostly evaporated and the veggies should be soft and have that characteristic roasted look to them. Remove from oven and serve.

Serves: 3-4