Saturday, December 20, 2008

Gingerbread Men

My brother and I used to make these with our elderly neighbor, Mrs. Rawls. She was like our grandmother. Of course, we didn't really make the dough, she did. But we helped cut them out and we also definitely helped with the eating. These are really soft, chewy and delicious. After Mrs. Rawls passed away, my mother always made these at Christmas. We have continued the tradition in our household and deliver them to hometeaching/visiting teaching families and other friends each year.

1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
3 cups flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves

In one bowl, sift dry ingredients (except sugar) together. In another bowl, pour boiling water over butter. Add sugar and molasses. Mix liquid well. Add dry ingredients to liquid and stir until combined in a ball. Wrap in plastic and chill. Cut with cookie cutter shapes. Bake 10 minutes in a 375 degree oven.

Ice with a glaze made of hot water, 1 tsp. of butter melted, and powdered sugar. Decorate as you like.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Billy Abel's Seafood Gumbo

We make this in Louisiana alot, especially at Christmas when it is cold. I learned how to make this gumbo from my father, Billy, when I was a teenager. Yes, I liked to cook even then. It is not too difficult and it really is good. Serve over rice with some good crackers or crusty bread and you will need nothing else for a meal. This is the Billy Abel family recipe -- in Louisiana, almost everyone has their own way of making gumbo -- some people make it with chicken and sausage or turkey, others add oysters and crawfish, etc. While they are all usually good, I like ours the best.

2 lbs. shrimp tails with shells on (if your shrimp have heads attached, use 4 lbs.)
4 - 5 gumbo crabs
1 tin canned crab meat (lump, white, or claw)
1 large can of diced tomatoes
2 ribs of celery
1 medium onion
1 bell pepper (I leave this out for my family because they don't like peppers)
1 cup oil
1 - 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 gallons water
1 lbs of chopped okra (frozen works well)
2 bay leaves
1 tbs. gumbo file' (optional if you are not able to get it - it is dried, ground sassafras leaves)
1 1/2 tbs. liquid crab boil
2 tbs. salt
(Note -- you can use 3 tbs. of powdered crab boil instead of salt and liquid crab boil)

In a 10 - 12 quart stock pot, put in water and crab boil/salt. Bring to a boil. Add defrosted shrimp and gumbo crabs - bring the water back to a boil. Turn water off as soon as it boils again. Cover pot and let shrimp and crabs sit for 5 minutes. Remove shrimp and crabs from the seafood stock you just made and let them cool -- do not discard the liquid from the boil -- this is the critical element in your gumbo! Bring the stock up to a simmering boil

While the shrimp/crab is cooking/cooling, rough chop onion, bell pepper, and celery. In a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron), saute' the onion, pepper, and celery in 1 tbs. of oil. When the veggies are soft, add to the stock pot of simmering liquid. Also, add the canned chopped tomatoes, the canned crab meat, and bay leaves. Do not clean the skillet -- you will use it later to make your roux.

Peel the shrimp as soon as you get the chance. Large tails can be cut into smaller pieces if you desire. Do not add to the stock until the last minute.

With the stock cooking away with the veggies, you will now make a roux to thicken the stock. Using the cast iron or other heavy skillet, put in one cup of oil and enough flour to make a thick paste (1 1/2 to 2 cups). Using a metal spatula, cook the roux until it is a dark color - about the color of a dark paper bag. Darkness of roux is an individual thing. You can make it darker for a stronger tasting gumbo. Do not let the roux burn or you will have to start over.

When the roux is almost as dark as you want it, it is time to add the okra to the stock. Finish the roux to the desired darkness. Then, spoonful by spoonful, add the hot roux to the hot stock. This will thicken the gumbo. Add as much as desired. If you don't use it all, you will have a thinner gumbo. This is how some people like it.

Finally, after the thickness is how you like it, add the shrimp and the gumbo crabs back to the pot. Sprinkle with the gumbo file' as you serve it over rice.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Crawfish (or Shrimp) Pasta

This is a really easy pasta dish that is sure to please.

1 lb. crawfish tails (or shrimp, peeled and deveined)
1 lb. Velveeta Cheese
1 can Rotel tomatoes, diced
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tbs. butter
1 lb. rotini pasta (we like the multi-colored pasta) cooked

Saute onion and garlic in butter until soft. Add crawfish tails (or shrimp) and cook for two minutes. Add tomatoes, soup, and cubed Velveeta. Stir until smooth and cheese is melted. Stir in pasta. Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top with a crispy french bread and salad.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

This is a recipe Rebecca learned from one of her friends and taught me. It is really easy and quite a tasty dessert. We recently entered a decorated version of this cake at the Southeastern Louisiana University Homecoming cooking contest. It won second place. We chose to do this cake because the homecoming theme was "Southeastern Sitcoms" and all entries had to relate to a sitcom. Our cake was called "Pheobe's Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake" based on the "Friends" episode where Pheobe made Monica make endless batches of chocolate chip cookies trying to recreate her grandmother's recipe. In the end, they found out that Phoebe's grandmother used the recipe on the back of the Nestle's chocolate chip package.

One Yellow Cake Mix (any brand)
1/2 cup of oil
2 eggs
1/2 bag of chocolate chips

Mix the cake mix, oil, and eggs together into a thick batter. Add chocolate chips. Bake in a greased 9X12 pan or 12" round cake pan at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until brown

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Potato Soup with Andouille

It is getting cooler at night and it makes us yearn for soup! This is one of our favorites. I often make this soup with bacon instead of andouille. Andouille, for those not from Louisiana, is a smokey cross between bacon, ham and sausage. Look in your specialty meat section.

5 lbs. white potatoes peeled and diced
salted water just to cover potatoes
One quart half and half
1 stick of butter
one onion diced
1 lb. andouille sausage, diced (bacon may be substituted)
1/2 cup flour

Boil potatoes until just before fork tender. Add half and half to potatoes and water. Bring up to temperature.

In a separate skillet, brown andouille (or bacon) until rendered. Add butter and onion. Sautee onion until soft and translucent. Add flour to andouille, butter and onion mixture. Cook for a minute or two until flour is light brown.

Add the flour, andouille, butter and onion mixture to the potato, water, and half and half mixture. Stir until creamy.
Add salt and pepper to taste.


Top this soup with grated cheddar cheese or sour cream. You can serve it in a bread bowl for a special presentation

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Beignets (French Market Doughnuts)

These are a little work, but worth the efforts. For an easier way, you can use the Cafe Du Monde mix but the results are not as good You can order mix at http://shop.cafedumonde.com/originals.html.

1 tbsp yeast ( 1pkg.)
3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup milk
3 1/2 all purpose flour
2 tbsp. shortening
vegetable oil for frying
powdered sugar

Combine the yeast, water, and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (You could also make this in a food processor, or the old fashioned way, by hand). Let this sit until frothy, about 5 minutes, then add the salt, egg, and milk. Mix on low speed, then add half of the flour until it starts to come together, then add the shortening. When the shortening is incorporated start adding the remaining flour, a little at a time until most of it is incorporated. Knead the dough adding just enough flour as necessary to make a non-sticky, smooth silky dough. Place the dough into a large oiled bowl, loosely cover and let rise to double in size. Punch it down and turn it onto a floured surface and roll out into a rectangle that is about 1/2″ thick. With a very sharp knife working at a diagonal to the rectangle, cut into 2″ wide strips. Now cut into diamond shapes by making diagonal cuts in the opposite direction. Let the cut beignets rise for 20 minutes. Fry the risen beignets in 2-3 inches of oil at 350 degrees until golden brown. Drop fried beignets into a paper bag with powdered sugar. Shake and put on a plate.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Buttermilk Pancakes

Growing up, my mother made these many Sunday nights for supper. Often, the missionaries would come over and have these pancakes with us. They are easy to make and rise up so light and golden. This is a good way to use your extra buttermilk after you make pralines (see candy section)

6 eggs
4 cups buttermilk
3 cups flour
2 tbs. sugar
4 tbs. melted shortening or vegetable oil
3 heaping tsp of baking powder
1 heaping tsp. baking soda

Beat eggs slightly, add buttermilk. Sift in dry ingredients. Do not over mix or the pancakes will not be as light. Pour batter on griddle to desired size. Let pancakes bubble up and turn. Brown on second side. Serve with homemade maple flavored syrup (see recipe below).

You may want to half my mother's recipe. It was meant for a crowd.

Maple Flavored Syrup

4 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups water
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
1 tsp. maple flavoring

Combine sugar and water and bring to a boil for one minute. Cool a bit and then add flavorings. Delicious served hot or warm. Refrigerate unused amount. It will crystallize in the fridge. Microwave on next use.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Betty Jane's Pork Chops and Rice

So easy and so good. Mom Pack taught me this one-dish meal. Becca loves the rice -- she would eat that and leave the pork chops. But, they both are good.

6 pork chops (your favorite cut)
2 cans beef broth plus enough water to make 4 cups total liquid
2 cups rice
Your favorite seasoning (I use Tony Chachere)

Season pork chops and place in a greased 9X12 casserole dish. Cook in the oven on 375 degrees uncovered for about 20 minutes -- until the chops are about half done. Remove pork chops from the pan. Pour liquid into the pan and stir drippings and liquid together. Add rice and distribute it evenly in the pan. Top with the half-cooked pork chops. Cover tightly with foil and cook for 40 minutes at 375 degrees until the rice is fluffy and done. Serve with a salad and your meal is complete.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Spinach Artichoke Dip

When I have to bring a dip to a party, I often use this one. It is easy and always a hit. This recipe is my interpretation of a dip served at Chesterfield's restaurant in Hattiesburg, Ms.

2 one 1b. packages of frozen spinach
1 lb. Velveeta Cheese
1 can Original Rotel Tomatoes diced
1 can artichoke hearts in water, drained
2 tbs. butter
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup mozzarella cheese (or 1/2 cup Parmesan)

Press three cloves of garlic (or chop if you prefer). Using a four-quart pan, saute garlic in butter until soft. Add Rotel tomatoes and Velveeta Cheese cubed. Stir on med-low heat until cheese is melted. Add spinach and artichoke hearts. Pour mixture into a small casserole dish and top with mozzarella or Parmesan cheese. Bake until bubbly and hot. Serve with tortilla chips or your favorite crackers.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lima Beans honoring Sadie Belle Forsyth

These lima beans are Beth's absolute favorite meal. I think she has very fond memories of her Grandma Forsyth making them. Beth said her grandma would always send her with a mason jar full of beans to take home because Beth liked them so much. I make them in the spirit of Sadie Belle though I don't have her recipe -- I use my mother's recipe for red beans substituting the lima beans for red beans.

1 one lb. package of dried large lima beans
1 small onion
1 smoked ham bone, ham hock or other smoked seasoning meat
salt and pepper to taste

Using a 6 qt crock pot, fill with it to the 1/2 mark with water. Pour in beans. Let soak overnight. Add onion, sliced into four pieces, garlic cloves pealed and left whole, and seasoning meat. Add water until 1 inch below top. Cook for 5 - 6 hours on high. When beans are soft, it is done. To make creamy, take out about 1/2 cup of beans and smash. Add back into the beans and mix around. Salt and pepper to taste. (I do not salt the beans before cooking because the seasoning meat is very salty. It will provide most if not all of the salt.)

Serve over long-grain rice with french bread or corn bread.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Chicken with a Brick

This cooking method is modified from Rachel Ray's 30 minute meals show. It works great and is so easy. Beth says it is the most delicious and moist chicken she has eaten at home. By the way, she is not really a bone-in chicken fan but she likes this.

4 chicken breasts (bone-in with trimmed skin)
Your favorite grill seasoning (I use Montreal Grill Seasoning by McCormick)
1 tbsp olive oil
Two heavy skillets or fryer pans (one needs to be slightly smaller than the other)
Two garden bricks covered with aluminum foil or four heavy cans of foods (for weight)

Heat largest skillet until it is screaming hot. Add oil to cover bottom of pan. Season chicken breasts with steak seasoning. Place skin side down in pan. Cover with aluminum foil. Put second skillet on top of chicken and foil. Put bricks (or cans) in the top skillet. This weight causes the chicken to have maximum contact with the pan surface to seal in juices and make a really crispy outside. Cook under weight for five - seven minutes on medium high (depending on size of chicken pieces). Remove bricks and pan and flip chicken and repeat method above for the other side.

Finish in a 400 degree oven (uncovered) for twenty minutes. This will be the best baked chicken you will ever eat. Serve with smashed potatoes and your favorite vegetables.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hickory Chicken

This is one of our easy family favorites. It is adapted from a restaurant Beth and I used to frequent (no longer in business). It makes a great meal to bring to someone who needs it. I think we need it tonight (with Amanda Scott and her kids visiting). I am heading home from work right now to make it.

4 chicken breasts
your favorite barbeque sauce (we are partial to Kraft Hickory Smoke)
1-2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese (to your liking)
4 slices of smoked baked ham from your deli
1 red tomato cubed
1/4 cup green onion tops sliced

Cook chicken breasts in your favorite way (I use my electic panini griddle but you can grill or pan fry it). Place grilled or cooked breasts in a casserole dish. Baste chicken breasts liberally with barbeque sauce. Sprinkle each breast with a layer of grated cheese. Next, put one slice of ham on each breast. Baste ham with more barbeque. Top each ham covred breast with the remaining cheese. Bake only until cheese is melted in a 375 degree oven -- 5 minutes tops. Plate the chicken and top with tomato and green onion. Serve with baked potatoes and steamed brocolli for a great combo.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Little Grandmother's Rolls

This recipe is from the kitchen of Dorothy Blalock who we called Little Grandmother (she is deceased now and was my father's mother). She was very famous for her yeast rolls. My Aunt Edna taught me how to make these. This makes about 12 dozen rolls -- they freeze well. The recipe can also easily be cut in half. Also, the dough can be frozen in roll-sized pieces and can be proofed later.

Step 1:
1 ½ Quarts Milk (6 cups) (heated to a temperature to 120 degrees -- microwave works well)
Note: be sure to use a thermometer – liquid too hot will kill the yeast
1 Cup Crisco Shortening (Melted to liquid state - below 120 degrees, not hot - can be done with 1 -2 min in microwave)
1 Cup of Sugar
2 ½ Tablespoons of salt

Mix the above in a large bowl till sugar and salt are well dissolved

Step 2:
In another bowl, add to 2 Cups hot water (110 degrees) 2 Tablespoons of sugar and 4 packets of yeast (or 4 tablespoons yeast if using bagged yeast from Sam’s - my recommendation). Wisk together and let stand until it foams to double in size.

After yeast mixture doubles, add it to the liquid mixture in the first step

Step 3:
Add one five pound bag of all-purpose flour one-fourth at a time to the liquid mixture, stirring with a large spoon. Then, add cupfuls of flour and mix with your hands until mixture is soft but not sticky. It will take about ½ of another bag of all-purpose flour (2 ½ lbs.), depending on the moisture in the air, etc.

Step 4:
Separate dough into four parts and knead by hand until the dough has a silky consistency – hang in there is your are doing it by hand – may take 5 minutes per part. If you have a large stand mixer, need with the dough hook for about 5 minutes each of the four parts. You may need to add some flour if the dough get sticky – but do not over flour or the dough will get too dry.

Combine all the dough back together (kneading into one large ball after all four parts have been kneaded). Place the dough ball back into large bowl that has been greased with shortening.

1st Rise: Let rise double ( about 45 minutes to an hour in a warm place) \
note: Cover with wax or kitchen parchment paper during rising stages

2nd Rise: Punch down dough after the first rise and let it rise double again (another 45 minutes to an hour)

Step 5:
After second rise, form dough into biscuit sized disks and place on cookie sheets - four across and 5 down. Can also do clover-leafs in muffin tins or crescents by rolling a circle and cutting in pie shaped wedges and then rolling them up.

After forming, let rise again until double (about 45 minutes). Bake at 375 degrees until golden. Be sure to rotate pans in the oven so that bottoms and tops will brown evenly.

This really is easier than it sounds – especially with a mixer.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Crispy Bread Dough for Rosemary Bread, Pizza, Bread Sticks

This rustic bread recipe is my go-to dough for many purposes. It makes an excellent rosemary/sea salt loaf (close to Macaroni Grill's). It is also great for pizza dough. I also use it to make bread sticks. The recipe comes from New Orleans' famous Commander's Palace restaurant.

1 1/3 cup warm water (110 - 120 degrees)
1 tbs. (or packet) yeast
1 tbs. olive oil
3 - 3 1/3 cups bread flour (all purpose can be used)
1 tbs. salt

Combine water, yeast, and oil in mixer bowl. Be sure to dissolve yeast well. Let it stand for about five minutes to proof -- it should look foamy. Add salt. Add flour one-half cup at a time with mixer with dough hook. Depending on the day, the flour will vary. Knead as necessary. The dough should become firm but elastic. It should have a silky look. You can easily knead this by hand also.

Let rise for about 1 hour until double in size. Shape as needed.

For rosemary bread, chop a tablespoon or two of fresh rosemary and knead into the dough. Form into two loaves on a cookie sheet and let rise to double. Paint with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt if you like. Bake at 425 degrees until brown and hollow sounding when tapped.

For bread twists, roll into a rectangle, cut into strips, dip in melted butter, and twist. Spinkle with garlic salt. Let rise on cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees until brown.

For thin pizza, divide into three balls. Press onto pizza rounds. Add your favorite toppings and cook at 450 degrees.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ronnie's Oven-Baked Chicken Cordon Bleu

This really barely qualifies as a recipe but it is more an easy method of making this dish. My family loves this for dinner. I made this today for Betty Jane and Blair as she recovers from knee-replacement surgery. Hope you try this one. It is easy.

6 chicken breasts beaten thin like a cutlet (use a mallet or base of a heavy pan)
6 slices swiss cheese
6 slices of ham
2 eggs beaten with a tablespoon of water
1 cup (or more) of italian seasoned bread crumbs
6 toothpicks

Prepare your stations for breading. Lay out a chicken breast and place one slice of ham and one slice of cheese. Begin at largest end and roll the breast, ham and cheese. Secure with a toothpick. Dip each rolled breast in egg and then bread crumbs. Place the six breasts in a greased casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 - 35 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove foil and cook the last 5-10 minutes to get a crispy crust on chicken. Serve with baked potatoes and a vegetable for an excellent meal. Be sure to warn your guests of the toothpick or remove before serving.

Mini Muffalettas

These were introduced at BethFest 2000 (Beth's annual birthday bash). We took the ingredients in muffalettas and put them on small rolls and heated them in the oven. This is a party favorite. Who doesn't like a hot sandwich?

1 lb. black forest ham sliced deli thin
1 lb. genoa salami sliced thin
1 lb. provolone cheese sliced
olive salad mix http://www.cajungrocer.com/boscoli-italian-olive-salad-mix-p-506.html
1 dozen pistolettes or other french-type roll

Cut rolls leaving one side attached. Put bread open-faced on a cookie sheet. Brush bread with olive oil from the olive salad mix. Put on a slice of ham, salami, and provolone cheese. Top with olive salad mix (or leave off if you like-- I usually do half with and half without for the uninitiated). Bake at 425 degrees until crispy and cheese is melted. Close sandwiches and put on a platter to serve.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Betty Jane's Raisin Bars

This is a Pack family favorite and now one of my favorites, too. Very simple to make and better than you can imagine. The Blair Pack kids say that they came home from school many days with the smell of boiling raisins. They could hardly wait for the warm finished product. If you don't really like raisins (like me) you will still like these for some reason. I can't explain it.

Put one cup of raisins covered with water to the one cup mark in a pot and bring to boil. Turn off burner and let them cool. This re-hydrates the raisins.

Put raisin water mixture in a mixing bowl.

Add 1/2 cup oil
2 cups sugar
1 egg

Mix wet ingredients

Sift in dry ingredients as follows:

1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp. cloves

Mix until wet and dry ingredients are combined. You can also add nuts to this (1/2 cups) but the Packs prefer it without nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes in a 9X 12 glass pan. It will be cake-like but moist like brownies.

While hot, cover with a glaze of powdered sugar and water -- mix to about the consistency of a thin gravy. Pour over warm raisin bars.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Muffaletta Pasta Bake

This is a dish I adapted from the famous sandwich from New Orleans. I simply replaced Muffalatta bread with pasta.

1 lb. penne pasta

1 lb. grated mozarella cheese

1 lb. smoked ham (black forest is best) cut thick

1/2 lb. genoa salami cut thick

1/2 - 1 cup (depending on your preference) olive salad mix (http://www.cajungrocer.com/boscoli-italian-olive-salad-mix-p-506.html to order)

toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions. Cool. Mix in cheese, ham and salami cut in inch squares, olive salad mix, and half of cheese. Put in a casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese and sesame seeds. Bake until cheese is melted and center is hot.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Doris Abel's Brownie Recipe

This is my mother's brownie recipe. It really is a no-fail, crispy on top and soft in the center brownie. She was well-known in our area for them.

2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 large eggs
3 /4 cup oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup nuts of your choice

Sift dry ingredients together. Mix in eggs, oil and vanilla. Fold in nuts. Grease a 9X12 pan and spread mixture. It will be thick like cookie dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

These are excellent with or without icing. You can make mint flavored icing with peppermint extract and green food color, chocolate, cherry flavored with pink food color, or just plain vanilla white icing to go on these. Or just dust them with powdered sugar.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Italian Stuffed Artichokes

In Hammond, Louisiana we have many people of Italian descent. They share their recipes which they have adapted from the old country. I share one of my favorites that my mother learned from one our neighbors Mrs. Fresina. I made some today -- prep time maybe 10 minutes. The cooking takes about 45 minutes.

4 whole artichokes
1 cup italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese finely grated
1/2 cup romano cheese finely grated
Olive oil
one half lemon

Using a sharp knife, cut off the stem at the base. This will make a flat surface so your artichoke will sit upright. Next you will cut off the top pointed part of the artichoke. Using the sharp knife, lie the artichoke on its side and cut about 1 inch of the top off -- removing most of the pointed tips. This will remove most of the prickly points on the artichoke. Next, you want the artichoke to open up or bloom. Turn it bottom side up and hit the base with the palm of your hand. This will cause it to open up and give lots of room to stuff the artichoke.

In a large bowl, mix the bread crumbs and two cheeses. Then place an artichoke in the bowl and fill it with the crumbs and cheese. Stuff it as full as you can. If you run out of mixture, make more. (this may happen if your chokes are large).

Place the stuffed chokes in an eight quart pot with a lid. Put about one inch of water in the bottom of the pot to steam the chokes. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the stuffed chokes. Bring water to boil, reduce heat to medium low, and cook with lid on for about 45 minutes or until the leaves pull off easily.

Serve with marinara for dipping.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sensations Salad

Cindy Abel Pack found this recipe -- I may have changed it a little. But, it is really a great salad.

1/3 c. salad oil
1/2 c. olive oil
2 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp. vinegar
2 cloves garlic, pressed
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. Blue cheese, crumbled
Ground black pepper to taste
1 c. Romano cheese, grated finely (parmesan can be substituted)

Mix first 8 ingredients thoroughly then mix in Romano cheese. Use on your favorite greens -- we like hearts of romaine. Slivered almonds in the salad make this especially tasty.

Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe is popular at pot-luck dinners, etc. We got it from Beth's scrapbooking friend Holly.

½ Cup Milk
8 oz. softened cream cheese
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 cup finely chopped onions, sautéed
½ tsp salt and pepper (to taste)
15 – 18 small flour tortillas
2 cans green enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded cheddar-jack cheese (or your favorite)
1 can of chopped black olives (4 oz.)
1 can of chopped green chilies (4 oz.)

Mix cream cheese and milk until well blended. Add chicken, onion, seasonings, most of the cheese, olives, and chilies. Spray two 9X12 pans with cooking spray. Pour a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pans. Arrange chicken mixture in tortillas, rolling each up and placing in pan seam side down. Spoon enchilada sauce over the top of both filled pans of enchiladas. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and cover pans with foil. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until bubbly and hot. Serve with sour cream and salsa and chips!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Chicken Artichoke Soup

This is adapted from an oyster artichoke soup served at Crescent City Grill in Hattiesburg, Ms. Cindy Abel Pack makes this but she substitutes chicken for the oysters. I have made a few more changes from the original to make it less expensive, healthier, and easier to make (for example, I use cream of chicken soup and one cup of cream instead of the 5 cups of heavy cream it originally calls for).

1 stick of butter
1/4 cup each of onion, bell pepper, and celery chopped
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 cup flour
2 cans of cream of chicken soup
5 cups of water
4 cubes of chicken bouillon cubes
3-4 chicken breasts cut into cubes
1 pint of heavy cream
1 can of artichoke hearts in water cut into quarters

Saute first five lines of ingredients until soft. Add flour slowly stirring constantly. Do not brown the roux but cook it for 2 minutes. Add 5 cups of water, cream of chicken soup and bouillion cubes and stir until smooth. Bring to slow boil. Add chicken breasts. Let chicken cook until done. Bring heat to medium low and add artichoke hearts with juice and cream.

It will have a velvety consistency and be the hit of gathering where it is served.

Ronnie’s Crawfish Etoufee

This is probably my easiest but most requested dish. We use frozen crawfish tails (Louisiana tails are best). You pronouce the dish eh-two-fay. It is as cajun as it gets.

1 stick of butter
1 small onion chopped (you can also add 1/2 cup bell pepper and 1/2 cup celery to form the Louisiana trinity of cooking - my family does not like anything but onion)
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 lb. crawfish tails (shrimp may be substituted though not as good)
1/3 c. flour
2 cans chicken stock
Cajun Seasoning and Liquid Crab Boil (if available) otherwise use salt and cayenne pepper.

Sautee onions, garlic, and other optional vegetables in butter until soft. Add 1 lb. crawfish tails and cook for two minutes. Add 1/3 cup of flour to thicken. Cook flour for a minute. Add two cans of chicken stock (I sometimes cheat and use water with chicken bouillon). Season with 1-2 tsp. of Tony Chacheries or other Cajun seasoning and ¼ tsp. liquid crab boil. Cook until smooth. Serve over rice.

Ronnie’s Low-fat (just kidding) Macaroni and Cheese

This is Hilton Boover's (my brother-in-law) favorite. It must be made for every family occasion. Ironically, I am not a big fan of mac and cheese. But, this is the old-fashioned, southern funeral/church social version.

1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese
1 lb. mild cheddar Cheese
1 quart half and half
1 cup of milk
1 stick of butter
½ cup all purpose flour
Salt to taste
1 lb. of dry macaroni boiled al dente in salted water

Start by making a béchamel (white) sauce. This is begun by melting the butter, stirring in the flour and cooking the flour and butter mixture for a minute or two. Then, add the half and half and stir with a whisk until the sauce is brought up to nearly a boil and thick. It should be the consistency of loose gravy. Add milk (about one cup) until this consistency is achieved. To complete the sauce, add one pound of grated sharp cheddar cheese and ½ lb. mild cheese gradually until smoothly combined (save the other mild cheese for the topping). Add salt to taste. Coat a 9X12 pan and a smaller gratin pan with non-stick spray. Combine cooked noodles and finished cheese sauce. Put combined sauce and noodles in both pans. Top with reserved mild cheddar and cover with foil. Bake until hot and bubbly.

Quick Cinnamon Rolls

These cinnamon rolls are great and easy (from the LDS Friend magazine). While waiting for Beth to go into labor, Mom Pack and I made these every day we waited. Beth was 9 days overdue, so we got really good at this recipe. For Memorial Day weekend, I taught Jenny Pack Martin how to make these. She was excited so I thought others would appreciate it.

1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons yeast
1/2 cup oil
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 1/4 cups sifted flour
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
3/4 cup raisins

1. In large bowl mix 1/3 cup sugar, yeast, and oil with warm water until dissolved. Cover and let stand in warm place 15 minutes. (Yeast will grow rapidly.)
2. Blend eggs into yeast mixture. Add salt to sifted flour, then gradually add to yeast mixture to make soft dough.
3. Knead dough 5 minutes on lightly floured surface. Roll dough into rectangular shape about 1/4″ (.6 cm) thick.
4. Brush dough with melted butter. Combine cinnamon and sugar, sprinkle over dough, then sprinkle on nuts and raisins.
5. Carefully roll up dough, and cut 1″ (2.5 cm) slices with string or knife. Place in ungreased rectangular pan. Let rolls rest 10 minutes.
6. Bake at 425° F (218° C) 10–15 minutes or until golden brown. Frost with sugar glaze while warm.

Sugar Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup hot water
1 teaspoon butter
Mix ingredients until well blended. Spread over rolls.

Julie Wardell, “Kitchen Krafts: Quick Cinnamon Rolls!,” Friend, Jan 1984, 17

Best Pralines Ever (and they are made in the microwave)

Pronounced prawleens -- these New Orleans confections are easy to make and popular with everyone. Ang and Tommy Forsyth requested this recipe and I posted it on their blog -- I share it here to make it more available for others.

2 c. sugar
¾ c. buttermilk
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter
2 c. pecans
1 tsp. baking soda (added in the last step)

Combine all ingredients except the last one, soda. Cook in the microwave on high (be sure to use a large bowl that is microwave safe) for three cycles of four minutes, stirring between each four minutes (for a total of 12 minutes cooking time - the mixture wil bubble up). After the three cycles, stir in baking soda and cook two more minutes on high. Beat the cooked mixture until it begins to look smooth and thicker. Then drop by spoonfuls on greased waxed paper or on aluminum foil.

Be sure to store in an airtight container.