Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our New Years Eve Dinner Tradition Continues: Easy Apps for your New Years Feast

My hubby has to work most holidays. I had him home this year though for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Since he's a 3rd shifter, we developed this tradition of having New Years Eve dinner so everyone could participate. I sometimes don't even make it to midnight although I try!

I wanted to get some ground sirloin for raw beef and onions but it was almost $6.00/lb! I purchased a bag of shrimp instead for $7.00 (about a pound) Most shrimp has been crazy expensive because of the whole Gulf tragedy.  Prices are through the roof especially since it's a holiday. I  boiled the shrimp in Old Bay seasoning and some salt. (I used uncooked shrimp.) I brought water (2 cups) to a boil. I added the shrimp and boiled for 3 minutes. I then removed them with a slotted spoon to a ice bath and cooled them. The ice bath stops the shrimp from cooking. Off to the fridge until I serve them.
In the crock pot I have meatballs going with those canned cranberries no one will eat and some chili sauce. The meatballs are made in the crock pot and have three ingredients: one can of cranberries, one jar of chili sauce (Heinz) and 1 20 oz. package of pre cooked meatballs. Set it on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Stirring occasionally.

Boiled Liver Pate'

I grew up eating liver and onions and love this easy dip or pate'

1 cup liver (I am using beef)
2 hard boiled eggs
2 pieces of bacon crisped with the grease
1 onion diced and softened
1/2 cup Mayo
garlic salt salt and pepper for seasoning.

Boil the livers for 10-15 minutes. Cool and add the liver to the food processor with the egg, bacon,
softened onions (fried them in bacon fat) and Mayo. Stir to combine and cool. You could go fancy and put in a form but we are just spooning it out on crackers.  Serve with crackers or Pumpernickle bread. ( I forgot to add the onions til the end but it still turned out great.

Franks' Buffalo Chicken Dip

1 container chicken drained found in the tuna section of the grocery
1 cup Franks' hot sauce
1 cup blue cheese dressing
1 container Treasure Cave blue cheese
1 pkg. cream cheese softened.

Add all of the ingredients to a casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve warm with crackers.

It's been a difficult year with plenty of illness. I am praying for a better year and for my daughter's heart issues to be resolved in April. I hope you all enjoy your night and have a safe New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Day 3 of Hamogeddon: Split Pea: The Hambone is Connected to What?

This is the final day of our Hammageddon. I can't bear the sight of ham until Easter. I did freeze bags of ham so I can pull it out for breakfast and dinner though. Right after my hubby finished carving the ham, we froze the ham bone. Looking at it you would think there was much more meat than you actually end up with. The meat is dark and tough but becomes tender with the boiling.
Here is my Easy Split Pea Soup

1 ham bone with meat attached
6-8 cups of water
1 pkg split peas rinsed and sorted
2 large carrots chopped into coins
3 medium potatoes peeled and diced
2 bay leaves
1 TSP salt
chicken bouillon or chicken stock mix
salt and pepper

We love the soup here. We only have it twice a year. I added much more than the 6-8 cups of water. As a result it wasn't as thick. But by the magic of refrigeration, it is really thick and perfect today.
Add the ham bone, Bay leaves, water, and salt. Boil for one hour and remove the ham bone. At the same time add the chopped veggies. Slice the ham away from the bone and be sure to discard any fat. Chop into bite sized pieces and return to the soup. Be sure to stir the soup too as the peas may stick to the bottom of the pot. Towards the end of hour two add the chicken bouillon. I am not measuring but I'd say it's about 2TBSP. Taste for salt and pepper and serve with your favorite crackers. Even better the 2nd day!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Day 2 of Hamogedden: Crock Pot Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Today I am making something easy for dinner, crock pot scalloped potatoes and ham. I found it is helpful to make sure your crock pot is plugged in! It's ok though because this recipe cooks in 3 hours. I parboiled the potato slices first for 5 minutes. Parboiling is easy. Just slice the potatoes and add them to the boiling water. Drain and place in a buttered crock pot. Here is what else you add:

Crock Pot Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

6-8 potatoes sliced and parboiled
1 small can or 1 1/2 cream of chicken soup
4 oz. sour cream
salt and pepper
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup ham cubed

Mix the soup and sour cream, and cheese together. Add the drained potatoes to the crock pot with the ham. Stir the soup mixture with the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on high for 3 hours. Season again before serving.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Day One of Hamogeddon

All we will eat for the next few days is ham. Tonight I am making a homemade ham and pineapple pizza. The crust is from the grocery store. A local pizza place portions out one pound crusts and sells them frozen for a buck. All I have to do is thaw or a few hours  and try to make a pizza without ripping the crust. It's not as easy as they make it look on TV. I end up moving it in a upward/downward motion and have gravity help me stretch it out.

 I place it on a jelly roll pan that I grease and put a handful of cornmeal on the pan too.
Today I cut up a small green pepper, used a can of drained pineapple chunks, a 8oz can of tomato sauce, 1/4 cup pizza cheese, and 1/4 cup ham chunks. Feel free to season your sauce with oregano or what ever spices you like. I placed the sauce and cheese down first and added the toppings on top of that. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-13 minutes. Serves 4.

Ham! How Long Do I Bake This For?

My brain isn't working too well today! We have a Cook's bone in ham shank and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how long to bake it! It's a 12 pound ham shank with a bone. Baking is 20-25 minutes a pound. I make the same glaze every year to put on top of the ham. Instead of basting it at the end, I baste mine every hour or so. Right now it's covered with tin foil because I didn't want it to get any darker. I also cut lengthwise and then crosswise because the skin is tough and hard to get the cloves in. Doing this makes for a prettier ham anyway I think.

Easy Ham Glaze

Equal parts: 
Ginger Ale
pineapple juice 

Mix together and baste your ham every hour or so. It caramelizes so you may have to cover your ham after hour two with tin foil. Also put a bit of water in your roasting pan so the juices don't burn to the bottom of your pan. I put cloves in my ham too with some extra pineapple rings. The rings are delicious when baked.
picture of hams of the past

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Let the Christmas Day Prep Begin! Homemade Eggnog

There is nothing that says Christmas to me more than eggnog. Especially spiked eggnog! I made this last year  for the first time from Alton Brown's recipe. It is very easy to make and very inexpensive. I have everything on hand. I have to make devilled eggs later and will post the pictures here. I make the same sides pretty much every holiday. Except it is ham for us on Christmas instead of a turkey.
Here is the recipe. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and hope you are enjoying the day with your family!


4 egg yolks
1/3 c sugar plus 1 TBSP
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 ounces bourbon
1 tsp Nutmeg
4 egg whites

Separate the egg whites from egg yolks. Be careful not to get the yellows in with the whites because they will not fluff. With a mixer, beat the yolks until they become pale yellow. Add the 1/3 cup sugar and mix until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the milk, heavy cream, and Nutmeg into a sauce pan. Heat on medium heat until just before the boil. Remove from the heat and slowly pour the hot mixture into the egg yolks stirring with a whisk. *This is important or you will have scrambled eggs. This is called "tempering." You can now add those eggs into the sauce pan. Use a candy thermometer and make sure to heat to 160 degrees. Remove from the heat and cool in the fridge.
Beat the egg whites. I add a pinch of cream of tartar. The bowl must be clean and free of soap residue. They will eventually form soft peaks. Reserve until the eggnog is cooled. I helped mine along with some ice cubes. Fold in the egg whites and add the bourbon. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Easy Christmas Gift: Chocolate Bark 3 Ways

white chocolate peppermint bark

My co-workers and I exchange presents every year. What is better than the gift of candy? Nothing! (Except cookies lol) Here is the very easy chocolate bark recipe I made and it's relatively inexpensive. I made white bark with peppermints, marbled bark with peanuts, and peanut butter and chocolate bark. All were made within a hours time or less by using the freezer and microwave. I also made a home made double boiler which is a pot of boiling water with a glass bowl above it (not touching) If microwaving, begin at 30 second intervals and mix after each time.
microwaved chocolate
Here's what you'll need for the peppermint bark:

Peppermint Bark
1 package white chocolate chips
1/4 tsp oil (makes chocolate glossy and prevents scorching)
12-15 starlight mints or peppermints crushed
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
double boiler or glass microwavable bowl.
tin foil and a sheet pan is helpful but not necessary 9x13 piece

If using the double boiler method, warm chocolate in a glass bowl on low. Stir constantly and add the oil. Melt until the chocolate is glossy and no more chips are visible. Add the extract and remove from the heat. Use a spoon to spread the chocolate over the foil. Sprinkle the peppermints on top. Cool in the fridge or freezer and break apart when ready to serve.
cute containers from the dollar store

Marble Bark

1 pkg almond bark chocolate (or white chocolate chips)
1/2 package chocolate chips
1/4 tsp oil
nuts of your choice (I used peanuts)crushed.

Again use the same melting method above. I broke the big pieces of almond bark apart and melted them int the microwave for this one. Melt the chocolate chips separately. Spread out on a 9x13 piece of tin foil or larger with a spoon. Add the spoonfuls of chocolate on top of the white chocolate. I made around 9 mounds. Use a skewer to make lines up and then back down and across. This will give you a swirl pattern. Lastly add the nuts. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before breaking.
marble bark 

PB and Chocolate bark

1 pkg. chocolate chips
1/4 tsp. oil
2 cups PB
1 cup confectioners sugar
tin foil for spreading

As in all of the above recipes melt the chocolate and stir in the oil. Reserve one half of the chocolate and keep it on the double boiler to stay pliable but turn the heat off.
In a separate bowl, mix the confectioners sugar and and peanut butter. Add water if necessary to make the peanut butter spreadable.
Spread one half of the chocolate over the tin foil. Freeze until set. Add a layer of the peanut butter and freeze again. Cover with the remaining chocolate and put in the fridge until it sets. Break apart and enjoy or gift.
This was the only bark left from the side of the tinfoil without the 2nd layer

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Shrimp and Onion Enchiladas in Rojo Sauce

I love enchiladas! One of my favorite memories as a kid was to go to a restaurant named Acapulco on Milwaukee's south side and have a combination platter. The first thing I would eat was the delicious enchiladas.
I had a taste for shrimp but didn't want to make the Verde crema sauce with it. I decided on a red sauce. You can search at the top of my blog to see how to make your own rojo sauce from scratch but today I used a packaged La Prefadia sauce. It was semi-homemade. I used 100/200 count shrimp for this recipe. Tis the season for shrimp to be priced through the roof. This was around $7.00 for the package. Since they were cooked, I defrosted them in some cold water, draining and refilling until defrosted. I wanted mega cheesy enchiladas so I went with a pepper Monterrey jack cheese.
Corn tortillas will break up on you if not first
warmed. I fried mine for a minute or two on each side in some corn oil. I then drained them on paper towels.
Place a small amount of shrimp and a TBSP of onion on each tortilla and a pinch of cheese. Lay half of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Roll the tortillas and lay seam side down. Cover with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Here I used an entire 8oz. bag. Bake until warm 20-25 minutes.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Salted Fudge Pie

I saw a variation of this pie on facebook. The other one was a salted caramel pie using caramel Baileys but I used what I had on hand and made it fudge. It is basically a mousse pie. Yum! All you need is 6oz chocolate chips, a chocolate ready made pie crust, 8oz heavy whipping cream, 1 TBSP sugar 2oz. Baileys, Hershey's syrup and a sprinkle of sea salt for the topping. I made this for under $3.00.
Use an electric mixer to beat the cream and sugar into stiff peaks. Fold in the Bailey's. In a double boiler melt the chocolate. (Tip: make your own double boiler with a sauce pan filled half way with water and a glass bowl (bigger than the sauce pan) so it sits above the heat.) I also added a tsp of oil to make the chocolate more liquid. Let the chocolate cool slightly and fold into the whipped cream. Place in the chocolate pie crust and stick in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Will This Thing Fit? Turkey Dumpling Soup

That time has come for me to make turkey dumpling soup. Immediately after the Thanksgiving feast, I freeze the carcass and save it for soup. I bring a huge pot of water to the boil, salt it (1tsp), add an onion, and then place the whole turkey carcass in it. After going for a hour on medium low heat, I turn the carcass around so the other half can render it's deliciousness into the broth. I also add two chopped carrots.
I next remove the carcass from the broth very carefully with two spoons. It is falling apart and let it cool. Once cooled I pick at the carcass and make smaller chunks of turkey to put back into the soup.
For additional flavor, I add two tablespoons of chicken bullion and skim the fat off of the top of the soup. The soup is kept at a continuous boil.
For the dumplings I mix 1 cup flour, 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, one egg and 1 1/3 cup of milk. Pour in the milk gradually, you may need more or less. Today I had to add in a bit more flour.

Drop in by tablespoons over the boiling soup. Move the heat down to low and and cover for 15 minutes. No peaking! The dumplings will float to the top and be perfect. Taste for seasoning and serve with crackers.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Left Over Day One: Turkey Shepherds Pie

The day after Thanksgiving we usually nosh on left overs. By the time I went to make dinner, there was only a few things left. Mostly dark meat, stuffing, mixed veggies, sweet potatoes, regular mashed, and some gravy. Out of that I made Shepherd's pie.
layer 1 turkey, mixed veggies and gravy

Shepherd's Pie

2 cups turkey pieces
2 cups mashed potatoes
2 cups sweet potatoes
2 cups stuffing
2 cups gravy
1 cup mixed veggies or whatever veggies you have on hand
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. On the stove top heat the gravy and pull apart the turkey pieces. Add mixed veggies or whatever leftover veggies you have on hand. Season with salt and pepper and place gravy mixture in a 9x13 Pyrex.
layer 2 stuffing

Step two add the stuffing and distribute throughout the casserole.

Step 3 cover with mashed or sweet potatoes or both. Don't worry if you have holes. Cover with cheddar cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes.

layer 3 sweet potatoes and regular potatoes

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Turkey Day! Cajun Injected Turkey, Sweet Potato Muffins, ...Delish!

We got a late start today. I blame it on the Butterball webpage. I swear it said my turkey would take 4 1/2 hours to bake?  No frying this year. The oil was just too expensive this year so back to the old fashioned way of baking. Here are some of my favorite recipes. Hope you are enjoying your holiday at home with your family. I am thankful to have my hubby home for the first time in years on Thanksgiving!
The Best Ever Stuffing

I make my stuffing on the side:)

2 large bags of Brownberry Stuffing with sage
3 stalks celery cut lengthwise into thirds and diced
2 apples diced
1/2 onion diced
1 16oz container chicken broth
1 stick of butter
giblets chopped and browned

Add the stuffing to a huge That's a Bowl. In a large sauce pan add the chicken broth, celery, onions, and apple and bring to a boil along with the butter. Fry the diced giblets in a small frying pan with some butter then add the  cooked giblets to the stuffing. Pour the broth  in small batches over the stuffing and have someone help you mix. Refrigerate covered until ready to bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until heated through. 
Hubby went a bit crazy with Emeril Essence

Cajun Turkey Injection

1 cup chicken broth
4 TBSP hot sauce
3 TBSP Worchestershire sauce
1 TBSP cayenne pepper
1 TBSP salt
1 TBSP garlic powder

Normally we inject the turkeys the day before but we got really busy. Mix all of the ingredients and inject your turkey. Injecting makes for a moist turkey and delicious. In years past we have injected with Gran Marnier, pesto, even cranberry sauce juice. 
Sweet Potato Muffins
2 large sweet potatoes roasted at 350 degrees for a hour
1 can of large sweet potatoes drained
1/4 cup brown sugar 
1/4 cup milk 
1 tsp. Nutmeg
a pat or two of butter
salt and pepper
marsh mallows

I was debating making a crust on these of just plain graham crackers and butter. I opted for the standard marsh mallow. These are perfectly portioned out and bake with the rest of your sides for 25-30 minutes. 

Let the potatoes rest and peel and slice them. Place into a large bowl and add the brown sugar, milk, and nutmeg along with the salt and pepper. Mix with a mixer. Butter each of the muffin tins and add a large spoonful of potatoes. Roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Egg Bake Breakfast for Dinner & No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake, Cranberry Relish...

For dinner I made breakfast. I got this recipe off of facebook for crock pot eggs and hash browns along with sausage. I thought the amount of eggs, cheese and milk was excessive so I cut those down by half. (Feel free to make it with 1 cup milk and 12 eggs) I actually only sprinkled cheese on the top and it turned out delicious. Is it just me or do you see a smiley face in these eggs?

Anyhow...here is the easy recipe:

6 eggs beaten
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup milk (I used fat free)
1/2 tube sausage like Farmland
1/4 cup cheese shredded
1/2 pkg store bought hash browns

Brown the sausage and drain off the fat. Beat the eggs, add the milk. Butter the inside of the crock pot or use PAM. Add the hash browns  to the bottom of the crock pot. Pour the eggs on top of that. Add in the sausage and season with salt and pepper. Cook on low 6-8 hours. This is a perfect dish for Christmas morning or Thanksgiving morning.

Winner Cranberry Relish

1 pkg Ocean Spray Cranberries (Wisconsin Represent!)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 orange sliced

Bring the water and sugar to a boil. Be sure to stir until dissolved. Add in the cranberries, turn heat to low. Listen for the popping and stir occasionally for 10 minutes. Squeeze the juice out of the orange pieces and add them whole. Cool and chill until the big meal.

No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 can pumpkin
2 tsp. pumpkin spice
1 pkg Philly cream cheese softened
2 cups Cool Whip
1 graham cracker crust

Having the pumpkin spice on hand saves you from putting in all of the individual spices. If you don't have this add: 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. ginger....Add these to the pumpkin and the softened cream cheese. Blend with a mixer. Fold in the Cool Whip and place into a graham cracker crust. Chill and serve cold.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My First Crock Pot Whole Chicken

I have a little three quart crock pot and had a 5-6lb chicken. I knew the chicken wouldn't fit in there right away. I cleaned it under cold water and removed the giblet pack. Then I placed it into the crock pot and put tin foil over the top and the lid over that.

For seasoning I used salt, pepper, Rosemary, Thyme, and garlic. I also put a few tablespoons of lemon juice over the chicken. I let it cook on high for 3 hours or so and the legs were ready to move. Then I was able to stuff the whole chicken into the pot. I put it on low until I came home from work. The total cooking time was well over 8 hours. The chicken was fall of the bone and very moist.

I removed the chicken very carefully and used some of the juice to make a gravy. The gravy was very easy to make with some flour and butter browned and then the liquid whisked over it.

I thought it was a good idea if you don't have the two hours to waste for it to cook in the oven but not if you are a crispy skin fan. I don't think I could have lifted it out to put it under the broiler to crisp it up.

The pot pie idea will be a good one for that Thanksgiving turkey. For the gravy save the juices from the turkey. Combine two TBSP flour and 2 TBSP butter. Brown for a minute or so to cook out the flour taste. Add the turkey juices and stir to remove the lumps. The gravy will thicken pretty quickly. Lastly add the left over peas and carrots and season with salt and pepper. You could serve this over left over biscuits or even over stuffing.