Thursday, December 23, 2010

Really Easy Granola

Melissa Campbell, who just moved from our ward, taught me to make granola -- it is really easy and quite tasty. I modified her recipe as I only observed her make it and did not write down the proportions -- I also mixed and matched recipes I found online to come up with this one I really like. Granola-making is a good way to rotate your oats in your food storage -- while oats last a long time, they lose their taste quality after a few years. I used some 10 year old canned oats with really good results. For Christmas, we put granola in quart jars and wrapped them with ribbon. It made a nice homemade gift that is different from the usual cookies.

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar (light brown)
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon

To be added during baking process:
1/3 cup whole almonds (you can also use other nuts)

To be added after cooled
1/3 cup raisins (or cranberry raisins)
1/3 cup other dried fruit to your taste (optional)

In a a saucepan, melt the honey, brown sugar, salt, and oil. Do not bring to a boil as it will turn to candy. In a large mixing bowl, mix your oats and cinnamon together. Then, with a spatula, pour and mix the liquid mixture into the oats -- a little at a time. Make sure all the oats are well coated. Pour the granola mixture on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with baking spray -- make sure that they are in an even layer. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the almonds on top. Mix with a spatula and distribute evenly again. Bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and mix again. Bake for five more minutes (you can omit the last five minutes if you like your granola chewy and lighter).

Let cool. Using a spatula, loosen the granola. When fully cooled, add your dried fruit (raisin, craisins, etc.) and mix. Put in a sealed storage container. This will store for 2 weeks on the counter -- up to a month in the refrigerator.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Stuffed Bell Peppers, Abel style

Green peppers grow very well in our climate. These were utilized by my family for this favorite dish. We always served them with mashed potatoes to utilized the resulting gravy to its fullest potential.

5 - 6 medium bell peppers (any color will do but we always used green)
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground meat
1 1/2 cups rice after cooked (day-old is best)
1 small onion diced
1 tsp garlic powder
2 eggs
1-2 tbs milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tbs ketchup with more to top the peppers

Cut the bell peppers at the top and removes seeds and core. It will be like a little bowl. You may have to trim the bottom is the bell pepper won't sit up straight. Place in a baking dish.

In a bowl, mix the ground meat, rice, chopped onion, garlic powder, eggs, salt, pepper, and 3 tbs ketchup. Mix well. If the mixture seems dry, add 1 - 2 tbs. milk (or water). Fill the bell peppers with the meat mixture. Place back in baking dish. Top the bell peppers with ketchup (a somewhat thick coating). Then, sprinkle 1/2 tsp. of granulated sugar on top.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 35 - 40 minutes until done.

Doris' Southern Biscuits

This is nothing fancy -- my mom made biscuits every week when we were growing up. The ingredients were simple. No Bisquick-- but she did take the help of self-rising flour. We would eat these with tomato gravy, molasses and sour cream, or homemade strawberry jam. When they were day-old, she would split them in half, butter them well, and bake them until crisp under the broiler in the oven. They were even better like that.

2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup shortening
2 tbs. sugar
3/4 cup milk (whole or buttermilk is best)

Combine the sugar and flour. Cut the shortening with a pastry cutter or two forks into the dry mixture. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in milk and fold the flour from the sides into the well. Don't overwork the flour. You do not want to activate the gluten as it will make them tough. Also, you may not use all the flour depending on how humid the day is. The dough will be somewhat sticky but you can pull flour from the sides as you form the biscuits. Just pat them into the size you like. Put them on a baking sheet and punch a fork into them twice to make vent holes. Bake at 400 degree until light and golden.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Shrimp Mirliton

This is a special request by Michael Wyatt. It is an Abel family favorite. My mom used to grow mirliton's in our backyard. When they were ripe, we would harvest them and have this awesome dish. Another name for mirliton is chayote squash. It is available in many markets. It is also a traditional Christmas dish in Louisiana.

6-8 mirlitons depending on size
6 tbsp butter
1 medium onion diced
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 lb of shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 can chicken stock
4 eggs
1 -1/2 cups Italian breadcrumbs

Boil mirlitons with skin on until tender (a knife should be able to be inserted easily). Cool mirlitons. Peel and seed -- cut in half and remove seed and stem. Dice and put aside. Next, saute onion and garlic in all the butter. When translucent, add shrimp. Cook until pink. Add chicken stock and diced mirliton. Beat eggs and temper them with liquid from the stock. Add tempered egg mixture. Add breadcrumbs until somewhat thick, like a loose dressing. Place mirliton dressing in a casserole dish. Top with more breadcrumbs or parmesan cheese. Bake until set, about 30 minutes on 375 degrees. We love to serve this with prime rib or grilled steak.

Note: Be sure to boil the mirliton before you peel them. Mirliton are very acidic before boiled and will literally cause your skin to peel if you work with them in their raw state.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Simple Mini Tart Pastry

I made these for my neice Lauren's wedding shower this evening. They are really easy and very versatile. Bake them before filling and fill with your favorite pie filling. Or fill them with your favorite savory quiche recipe. I also fill them with crawfish etoufee to make mini crawfish pies.

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour

If using a mixer, cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the flour and mix on low speed until a smooth dough forms. You can also do the same thing by hand.

Roll dough into half-inch balls and place in mini-muffin pan. Using your fingers, shape the balls to evenly cover the indentation in the tart pan. Another easier alternative is to use a tart plunger, available at most cooking stores. Just dust the wooden plunger with flour and press the dough ball into the tart pan.

If you plan to fill them after baking, bake until golden brown at 375 degrees for about 8 - 10 minutes. Cool on rack.

If you are baking with a filling (quiche, pecan pie, etc), bake until filling is set at 375 degrees.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Oreo Cookie Truffles

Becca found this recipe somewhere and decided to give it try. They are really easy and quite tasty. Serve as treats, for a party, etc. You might get hooked.

1 package OREO Cookies
1 package PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
8 oz of chocolate almond bark or other chocolate for melting

Crumble eight of the cookies finely and save for later. ( You can use the food processor or you can crush them in a resealable plastic bag using a rolling pin.) Crush remaining cookies to fine crumbs. Add cream cheese to crumbs in food processor and mix until well blended. Roll cookie/cream cheese mixture into balls. Dip
balls in chocolate and place on aluminum foil or wax paper. Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs before they harden/

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pizza on the Grill

We finally got our grill out of storage (because we finally have a beautiful new wooden deck to keep it on). So, I have been grilling quite a bit lately. My family was in the mood for homemade pizza -- which we like a lot. But, it has been so hot and electricity so high, I didn't want to fire the oven up to the 450 degrees needed. I remembered watching someone on Food Network grilling pizza on the outside barbecue. It intrigued me. So I tried it. The result was excellent. Here is how I did it.

I made a pizza dough using my go-to dough at my link on this blog:

I separated the dough into five equal pieces. Using two baking sheets, which I coated liberally with olive oil, I stretched the dough to the desired size -- I made oblong pizzas to fit my grill better. I then coated the top of the pizza dough rounds with olive oil.

I fired up the grill to the high setting.

When the grill was nice and hot (and brushed clean), I put three of the pizza dough rounds on the grill. They instantly began to bubble. I cooked them (with the lid down) until done on the bottom side (about 3-4 minutes). I then flipped them and dressed the browned side with my pizza toppings (this had to be done fast -- I turned the grill down to low while I did this). I then cooked them on low for about 3 - 4 more minutes until the cheese was bubbly. Because my grill is not huge, I had to do the last two pizza rounds separately.

The result was excellent. Far closer to a brick oven than a conventional oven because you are cooking over actual fire.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pita Pizza

Beth reminded me of the easiest, quickest meal that everyone loves, pizza made on a piece of pita bread. We do this on any night we are too exhausted to do anything in the kitchen. It is always a hit and takes no time.

Pita Bread Rounds for as many pizza's as you are making (white or wheat)
Mozzarella cheese, grated (quantity to your taste)
Some type of pizza sauce (marinara, white sauce, garlic infused olive oil, or pesto)
Toppings (your favorites of any kind)

Place Pita rounds on a baking tray. Spread your sauce on. Cover with desired amount of mozzarella. Top with your favorite toppings. Bake at 400 degrees until crispy.

Our favorite combos are:

Pesto, cheese, pepperoni
Olive oil, garlic powder, Italian seasonings, and cheese only.
Red sauce, cheese, ham, and mushroom

These also make great appetizers. Cut into small pieces and serve!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Besto Pesto

I have avoided making pesto in the past because I had trouble paying the price for basil at the grocery story. Then, I decided to grow my own! I could have used seed (which I did for my dill and oregano) but instead I bought one small plant at Lowe's Home Improvement. My basil bush grew huge. A few weeks ago, I harvested a couple of bunches, used a few ingredients I had hand and made a great pesto! Yesterday, we had a great pasta salad with black olives, grape tomatoes, and bowtie past with the pesto. The perfect compliment to "crock pot baby back ribs" (see the recipe on this blog).

1 cup packed fresh basil
1/4 cup walnuts
3 -4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup good extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Using your food processor or blender, pulse the walnuts and garlic cloves until they are like a corn meal consistency. Next, add basil and pulse until it is well incorporated. Next add in the Parmesan and pulse a few times fot mix it up. Drizzle olive oil as you process. Taste. Add Salt and Pepper as you like. This will store in the fridge for a 3 - 4 day. Or for 3 months in the freezer. Use it on pizza dough for a great homemade pizza. Boil some bow tie pasta and add ask much or as little as you like to the hot pasta. Put in some of the pasta water and it will make a wonderful pesto cream sauce. The possibilities are many.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Baby Back Ribs Quick and Easy

I used to hate fooling with ribs. I was brought up that you had to boil them first to get them tender. Then you had finish them on the grill and put the sauce on. It was too much trouble to do very often. I read a couple of alternative ways of making ribs and came up with a hybrid of all those recipes. These taste as good as my family's favorite ribs from Zea's Restaurant in New Orleans (of course it doesn't hurt that we use Zea's Tai sauce on them sometimes!) So here's how I do it.

First I make a rub --

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup Tony Chachere's or other Cajun seasoning (McCormick's Season-All would work also)
1 tbsp. garlic powder

Mix dry ingredients together

Next, use two to three full racks of baby back ribs -- leaner is better. Cut into four slabs each. Coat each slab with dry rub and layer in your crock pot. You can fill it up to the top. You should use all the dry rub in the above recipe for full flavor on three racks. If you do only two, you would use about 2/3 of rub, etc. Once you have all the ribs in the crock pot, pour a Coca-Cola over the ribs for moisture (you can substitute Dr. Pepper if you like).

Cook on high for about four hours. The ribs will be tender and delicious -- but there is one more step for perfection.

To finish them off, remove the ribs from the crock pot and place them on two baking trays. Put your favorite barbeque sauce on top and then broil them on high for about 4 -5 minutes until the sauce is set and somewhat browned.

Most people who eat these think you slaved forever. But, you won't even have to pull out the grill. (You can grill them instead of using the broiler, if you prefer)

Good Luck!