Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Frightfully Good Dirt Pudding

My middle daughter had a assignment to write a recipe for a Halloween project at school. She wanted to make something with cookies in it, but wasn't sure what recipe to use. We came up with Dirt Pudding. It's a standard dessert that kids love and I daresay adults do too (but don't want to admit it!). My daughter said she was allowed to make the recipe to bring in with her written one, so we did. And wouldn't you know, that bowl came back completely empty!

Dirt Pudding
3 5 oz. boxes of cook & serve chocolate pudding
9 cups milk
3/4 package of Oreos
1 small package Gummi Worms
1 small package white ghosts, or other marshmallow decoration

Make pudding according to package directions. While that is setting and cooling, scrape the white icing off the Oreo cookies. Discard (or eat some, like I did). Place chocolate cookies into a large zip lock bag. Crush cookies until only small pieces remain, but not to crumb texture. Place cooled pudding into serving container. Sprinkle cookies over surface of pudding. Decorate as desired. Makes enough to serve approx. 20 3rd graders and a few sneaky adults. Enjoy!

"Put "eat chocolate" at the top of your list of things to do today. That way, at least you'll get one thing done."
-Author Unknown

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Breaking News: Boiled Peanuts are Healthy!

Finally some good news about food! Now, since they don't sell boiled peanuts up here in the North, I've got to find me a good mail order source :)


Friday, October 26, 2007

A Mess of Greens

Talk about down home food! Greens are one of those basic, easy to make, goes with anything foods. If you've never had greens, try them just once. You have too :) After all, you wouldn't have a whole section of the country making them on a regular basis if there wasn't something to them!
I have made greens enough times that I don't really use a recipe. Every person I know who makes greens frequently says they have developed their own version- how long they cook the ham hock, how much spice they add, what kind of greens they use (kale, collard, or mustard or a mix, like I do) and how long they simmer the greens once they are added. This is my version. Hope you like it!

Southern Greens

1 large bag mixed greens or at least 5 bunches of mixed greens
1 ham hock or smoked turkey wings
red pepper flakes, to taste
1 teaspoon ground pepper
Cider vinegar

Place the ham hock or turkey in a large pot, add enough water to cover the meat. Add seasonings. Heat on high until boiling, then turn down the heat to medium high. Cover and cook for at least an hour, adding water if needed. Meanwhile, wash greens throughly. If using bunches of greens, strip leaf down thick stem by gripping end of stem and running your hand down. Add greens to pot. Greens will cook down a lot, so don't worry if it seems like a lot of greens to add. Cook greens on medium (soft boil) for another 1-2 hours, stirring as needed. Add more seasoning, if desired. Before serving, chop any ham or turkey meat and stir into greens. Remove remainder of ham hock or turkey. Serve with cider vinegar.

The liquid created when boiling the ham hock is called pot likker (pronounced like "liquor") and is eaten along with the greens by dipping cornbread into it, like a gravy. It's very good!

"Only a Southerner knows how many fish, collard greens, turnip greens, peas, beans, etc., make up "a mess."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Coke-Butt Chicken

Coke-Butt Chicken is an odd name, I know. It's really called Beer-Butt Chicken but we didn't have any beer on hand (not really fond of the stuff) and Coke does such a great job of it anyway, why not? This recipe is one of my husband's specialties. He was the one adventurous enough to substitute the Coke for the beer and to figure out how to grill it so it turns out crispy on the outside and sweet and juicy on the inside. As you can tell, I had to get a picture of the chicken during dinner since everyone went at it so fast I didn't have time to grab the camera as it came off the grill! I made homemade greens and iced tea to go with the chicken. Very satisfying.
Coke-Butt Chicken

1 small roaster chicken, cleaned
1 can Coke, about 1/4 drained
1 sprig fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
1 sprig fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

Place spices into Coke can. Insert Coke can into bottom of chicken and place chicken on grill with Coke can in upward position. Turn grill on high for about 10 minutes then lower to low heat, checking about every 10 minutes to be sure the chicken is not burned from the grease on the coals. Grill about 1 hour. Remove Coke can and serve.

"That outdoor grilling is a manly pursuit has long been beyond question. If this wasn't firmly understood, you'd never get grown men to put on those aprons with pictures of dancing wienies and things on the front and messages like 'Come 'n' Get It'"
-William Geist

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Virginia's Best Apple Pie

I've got it bad. Real bad. Ever since we got back from Winchester, VA, I have been so very homesick. Again. So to help combat yet another attack, I used the apples I got at the Virginia Farm Market and made an apple pie. And it couldn't be just any old recipe. I had to use a recipe from my Virginia cookbook, "Best of the Best from Virginia". It uses the basic ingredients of a regular apple pie, but changes the way they are used so the pie comes out scrumptious. The employees at the Farm Market recommend combining sweet apples with tart for the best taste. They are right, it comes out perfect. And I feel a little less homesick. Just a little.....

Virginia Apple Pie
4 cups sliced apples
1/2 cup melted butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 (9-inch) unbaked pastry shells

Pour melted butter over sliced apples and soak for a few minutes. Combine sugar, flour, and spices. Coat apples with sugar mixture, pour into pastry shell. Cover pie with top shell, crimp edges. Cut slits into top pastry so steam escapes during baking. Brush top of pie with beaten egg. Bake at 400 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until brown and apples are tender. Serve warm with ice cream.

"Home is not where you live but where they understand you."
-Christian Morgenstern

Monday, October 15, 2007

Favorite Crockpot Chili

I woke up this morning with the idea that today I had to make chili for dinner. It had been a nice autumn weekend with temps in the 60's and the thought of a warm bowl of chili just felt right. I have a recipe that I've used for a while now and it always turns out great. I like my chili hot, but because of the kids and also my husband's sensitive stomach, I have to tone down the heat a bit. So, when I serve this chili, along with the cornbread, I add a lot of hot sauce. Yum!

Crockpot Chili

1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
2 16 oz. cans kidney beans (I've also used Pinto beans)
2 14 1/2 ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, coursely chopped
2 gloves garlic, crushed
2 to 3 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt

Brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic, drain if needed. Place all ingredients into crock pot. Stir once. Cook on low 10-12 hours or on high 5 to 6 hours. Makes 6 servings.

"Whenever I meet someone who does not consider chili a favorite dish, then I've usually found someone who has never tasted good chili."
-Jan Butel, author of "Chili Madness"

"Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili."
-Alleged dying words of Kit Carson (1809-1868) Frontiersman and Mountain

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Chicken Pizza Primavera

I love pizza. I like take out, but if I'm motivated enough, I make pizza at home. This recipe is my favorite. I found in a few months ago and I've made it twice. It turned out great both times. The only changes I made to the orginial recipe was using Asiago cheese spread instead of shredded Asiago. I thought the spread turned out better since it melts evenly and has a sharper taste. It offsets the Ranch dressing well, too. I also used frozen loaf wheat dough instead of 1 (13.8 oz.) can of refrigerated pizza crust. I like how it tastes, like homemade pizza crust. But either way, it would be very good.

Chicken Pizza Primavera

1 loaf frozen wheat bread dough (follow package instructions for thawing)
1/4 cup Asiago Cheese Spread (Sam's Club is a good source)
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
3 Tablespoons light Ranch dressing
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into bite size pieces
1/3 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup torn fresh baby spinach or same amount frozen spinach, drained well
1 1/2 cup finely shredded cheese blend
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray 12 inch pizza pan or baking sheet. Spread dough out on pan, leaving extra around the edge for a crust. Lightly brush dough with olive oil. Drop teaspoons of Asiago cheese around dough evenly. Sprinkle garlic salt over dough.

Bake dough for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Spread Ranch dressing over crust. Top with chicken, bell pepper, onion and spinach. Sprinkle cheese blend and parm. cheese over top.

Bake 9 to 12 minutes longer or until cheese melts and pizza is hot. Cut into wedges.

"Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."
-Dave Barry

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Weekend in Winchester

I know I promised to not rub any vacations in anyone's face, but this was really just a weekend thing. No Aruba, Europe, or Arctic excursion. Just a simple trip to Winchester, VA. I missed going to the Virginia Farm Market this year so my husband suggested we take a trip and off we went (ok, it wasn't that simple, but it worked out :). I never knew that Winchester had so much to do! We always just drove through on our way to another destination. But I'm glad we stayed this time. Winchester is full of surprises.

Our first stop was the Virginia Farm Market. They have the best apples and their apple cider is like sweet nectar. It has always been my favorite. They also have a corn maze, a wooden train, and a tractor and old firetruck for the kids to play on. They sell Virginia hams, homemade muffins and ice cream, and too many other things to list here.

Our next outing was to the Historic Downtown District. This was a Civil War museum right in the middle of the Historic area. They also have outdoor cafes, a couple of wine stores, a soon to be opening Patsy Cline museum, a few craft stores and the Shenandoah Discovery Museum. We took the kids to the Discovery Museum which was packed full of interesting interactive displays and activities. Fun while learning is always a good thing!

As much as I wanted to get more food pictures from our trip into this post, this is as close as I got. These turtles live at Wilson's zoo, an surprisingly little zoo located on several acres of land. They had minature horses, bears, goats, exotic birds, deer, monkeys and more. We had the place to ourselves and just took our time strolling through and talking to the animals.

Poor Mr. Hogg here has a face only his momma could love, so we spent extra time talking to him and showing him some attention :)

On our last night in Winchester, the hotel was practically empty (as opposed to the noisy crowd that was there the night before), so we got the pool to ourselves. What a treat! We swam and played for almost two hours and it got to the point that even my kids had to admit it was time to go back to our room to get ready for bed.

We also visited the Apple Blossom Mall which was a nice surprise. Just enough stores but not too big. And we all agreed that they had the best Chinese food we've ever tasted in the food court. Yum!

All in all, Winchester is perfect for a long weekend getaway. Just a quiet little town with interesting sights and plenty of great places to enjoy and lots of fun. Go if you get the chance! (I sound like a tourist brochure, don't I?!)

“The alternative to a vacation is to stay home and tip every third person you see."

“Vacation is what you take when you can't take what you've been taking any longer."

Friday, October 5, 2007

Heat Wave In October?

Where ever you are, I sure hope it's cooler than where I am. Ugh! It's been in the 80's all week and tomorrow is going to be 90 degrees. Can you believe it? In the North East in October. I might as well move South again....it's cooler there I think :) It's a strange thing to see a Fall sky but feel like you are in the middle of a heat wave in July.

All this heat has my mind wondering to cooler things, like ice cream, sweet tea, and anything air conditioned. And swimming in a nice pool.... ahhhh. Everyone is still wearing shorts and sandals. I have my winter sweaters all washed and ready to go but I can't imagine when I will be able to use them. And to top it off, a local radio station has been playing Christmas music all week. I'm so confused......

"What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance."
-Jane Austen

"If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?"
-Steven Wright

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Crabby Sandwich

Every once in a while, I love to make imitation crab sandwiches. I know, it's not the real stuff, but who can afford the real stuff anymore? It's also not something my kids like. I usually get a "Ewwwww, how can you eat that Mom?" out of it. So I make it for my husband and me. We love it. This time, I made a large bowl of it and ate some when my husband was out of town (yes, he was gone again!) and there was enough that we could share some more when he got home. This is another recipe that is easy to alter to taste. Gotta love that!

Crabby Sandwiches
4 cups imitation crab
1 cup mayo (I use Miracle Whip)
2 tablespoons red onion
1/4 cup finely diced celery (optional)
2 tablespoons spicy mustard (I used Peppadew Mustard Sauce from Sam's Club. That stuff is awesome!)

Mix all ingredients. Toast bread and serve with lettuce. Also good with slice of swiss or provolone cheese. Or you can eat it right out of the bowl, like me!


"Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant ? I'm halfway through my fish burger and I realize, Oh my God... I could be eating a slow learner."
— Lynda Montgomery