pantry raid?

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Sundays are always our last chance to be lazy.

Football, napping, napping while the game is on, going for a drive, vegging around the house–all prime Sunday post-morning activities.

So who in their right mind would want to slave over a hot stove on such a deliriously delightful time of ease and respite?

I wanted something delicious and homemade for dinner, but I didn’t want to have to work too hard at it.  I went on a scavenger hunt in my pantry, consulted my self-made cookbooks, and wound up only one item short of glory.  Hubs offered to go to the store to acquire said item, and we were in business, proverbially speaking.

All of the recipes before you can be made and ready within an hour, and most of the items are what one normally might keep around the house.

(Or,  as one of my best friends, Jenny,  said infamously:  you gotta use what you got to get what you want. )

And what you want is something quick, healthy, and yummy that didn’t take much work.

And what could be better than a spicy bean soup and cornbread on a cool autumn night?

(My hubs loves, loves, loves Jiffy bread and he loves, loves, loves beans, so this made him quite happy….then again, there are very few foods he doesn’t eat…!)

**NOTE:  the longer the soup simmers, the better, but you can go ahead and enjoy it after just 1/2 hour of simmah time!**

Have fun doing a pantry-raid for the following:

SPICY TEXAS BLACK BEAN SOUP

1–All good things start with onions, olive oil, and garlic, so do it up right and saute 1 red onion, diced and 5 cloves of garlic in a little bit of olive oil.  I suggest sauteing the onion first, then adding your  garlic midway through so your garlic doesn’t burn.

2–Add to this 5 cans of black beans, undrained. Believe me.  Just go ahead and dump the little ones in.

3–Add 5 T. minced jalapeno peppers, 2 1/2 tsp. chili powder, and 2 1/2 tsp. cider vinegar to the mix.  Stir it up nice and good now.

4–Get your soup to simmer, covered, for at least 30 minutes. Taste and check the seasoning, add a smidge of salt and pepper if you think it needs it, cumin might also be a good one to throw into the mix.

NOTE:  Thirty minutes is the minium amount of time required to acquire such grand and spiced yum yum time.   I, however, let the stockpot sit on the stove for about an hour.

NOTE NOTE:  If you prefer, shall we say, a brothier soup, add a can of chicken stock or a can of veggie stock to the mix halfway through your allotted cooking time.

5– If you have bowls you can warm up in the oven, get’em on in there and get’em out when it’s time to dish up.  Dress it up with whatever you like on your beans:  I used strips of Pepper Jack cheese and sour cream, other ideas are cheddar cheese, monterey jack, tortilla strips, crushed Doritos, crushed Fritos, green onions, etc.  Remember, this is made from your PANTRY RAID!

(fyi, I tried my best to photograph the meal for feeding farley fans, but me and the camera just weren’t working that day; I posted what I could to give you the main idea.)

CORN PUDDING CORN BREAD

1–Get out a large mixing bowl, open up a box of Jiffy bread mix and beat in 2 eggs and 1 stick of melted butter to the mix.

2–Mix in 1 small can of corn and 2 regular cans of creamed corn, along with 1/4 cup milk and  1/2 of an 8 oz. carton of sour cream.

3–Bake this for 1 hour at 350. “Please resist the urge to sneak a peek and pop the oven door open, because it will delay your baking….” says the voice of experience…..(ahem).

The consistency, when poking in a toothpick, should be clearly baked and custardy, not runny or liquidy.  If the latter is your case, then crank up the heat to 375 and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

it was so good.

Not like I’m trying to be vegetarian, but this is a great meatless meal and my husband didn’t complain about the lack of meat in this dish. He loved it, and even I, who am not usually a fan of beans–it’s a texture thing– loved this meal.  It was cozy, warm, fairly quick, totally easy, and mostly delicious.

Now you have my permission to go on a pantry raid and make this meal! Let me know how it goes for you.

 

Enjoy and happy eating!

perfect man food.

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Although the colors of the Blue Ridge mountains have been proof of fall’s arrival for a few weeks, I really didn’t believe it until this past weekend:  it finally got cold enough to turn on the heat.

I love the smell of the heat going on for the first time; it definitely heralds a change of season, since our falls are susceptible to frequent boats of Indian summers.  There are certain and pleasant aromas I will always associate with fall, like the heat going on for the first time, leaves burning, pies baking, and pot roast, um, roasting.

Hubs and I decided to pop in a movie, warm up, and feast on autumn’s premiere main dish.  Then we decided not to be selfish, and promptly invited my mama over to sup with us.

Now, while I do enjoy my mama’s pot roast, mine is one of the few things I make that I prefer to hers.   Why, you ask? Answer is simple:  caramelized onions and beer!  Two ingredients that are supposed to go with meat, in my point of view.

And it ain’t just for Sunday dinners anymore, kiddos:  this is prime man food, it is, and I dare you to find a man who disagrees…….well, ok.  There might be some vegetarian/vegan/allergic-to-beef men out there. If you encounter one of those, well, grab some other man and he is sure to confess that yes, this pot roast recipe is the roast to end all other roasts.

NOTE:   If you don’t have a Dutch oven, a roasting pan will do fine.  Be sure to still brown the meat first and then transfer all that is delicious and good into said roasting pan.  If you can’t find a cover for your roasting pan, a large tent of aluminum foil will suffice.  If you don’t have a Dutch oven and are in the market for one, may I suggest the following: Martha Stewart’s 5.5. quart Dutch oven, available at Macy’s.   It’s a great size, easy to clean, and (if you click on the link) happens to be on sale at the current moment.

NOTE:   …while your meat should turn out sweet and tender, the deliciousness is really in this gravy.

POT ROAST WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND NEWCASTLE

a lot of adaptation occured from the original Cooking Light recipe, found here

1–Melt 2 T. butter in decent-sized saucepan over medium heat.  Add in 12 cups of onions (I use yellow, but white will work—this is about 1.5 lbs onions) and 1 1/2 tsp. sugar. You will need to stir this quite frequently, so that they turn a lovely golden shade of caramel.

butter always makes it better

yeah, it's a ton of onions, but it makes the flavah!!!

2–Preheat your oven to 300 while you are tending to the onions.

3–Take a 3.5–4 lb. pot roast and season the sucker with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. (You can use whatever type of meat you usually use for  pot roast, really, but we used bottom round, since that’s what was on sale.) Pop that baby in your Dutch oven (already Pammed/oiled/buttered/fatted up) and be sure to brown on all sides…..this should take up to five minutes.

thyme

4–Now comes the greatness!  Pour all of the onions on top of the meat, along with 1 bottle of Newcastle beer,  1 1/2 cups beef broth, and a generous sprinkling of salt, pepper, garlic powder and whatever your taste buds dream up.   I have used a bay leaf before, but as my father-in-law will tell you, I am not a fan—we tried 1 T. fresh thyme leaves this go round, and it offered a nice flavor to the gravy.

NOTE:  you must use Newcastle as your beer, or at least one very similar to it. I haven’t dared try Guiness—too dark, I think—but you need a nut brown ale to recreate the flavor if you can’t get Newcastle.

the one and only

5–Keep the roast covered tightly for 2 hours.  You can turn it halfway through, which I usually do, as per my mother’s advice…….but I completely forgot to this time.  And you know what? Didn’t make a bit of difference.

before the mixing and the lidding and the roasting

SO…….

When your roast is done, let it sit on the carving board to breathe a bit while you get the gravy going.

GRAVY FOR POT ROAST

1–In a small bowl, combine about 2 T flour with 1/4 c. water and blend well.

2–Put the Dutch oven on a burner so that all the leftover goodness comes to a boil. Pour in your flour mixture and whisk well enough to give your triceps a fab workout or to get all the brown bits scraped up from the bottom of the pan……whatever happens first.

Voila–you have gravy.

Easy!
Delicious!
Man food!
Fit for women, too!
And kids!

Serve over egg noodles, or alongside a great heaping helping of mashed potatoes, sit down with the one you love, or at least like enough to get through an evening with, and enjoy!

 

 

 

the south does it better

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When you are married to a band director, and when it’s autumn, you will always feel like you have more free time than your spouse, no matter what you do for a living.  Marching band season puts high demands on my man’s time.

Today was hubs’ first completely band-free weekend in months–MONTHS I SAY!!!– so we had major plans.

And I had a major surprise!  My plan was to fix my hubbsy a delicious make-ahead breakfast so we could laze around a little longer in the morning.

The breakfast you’re about to check out is simply mahhhhvelous, dahhhling.
It comes from Charleston, South Carolina, or inasmuch inspired.

(In the spring of 2005,  Etsuko (my former college roomie) and I headed on down to the syrupy Southern goodness of Charleston, South Carolina, hunting for seafood, fried green tomatoes, and more seafood.  Our visit to the luscious city proved to be a culinary extravaganza, indeed. We ate at Hyman’s every day for lunch, and I think we went back for dinner at least twice.)

scallop po'boy at Hymans

At the Cafe Cafe, you will eat the one of the most delectable breakfasts you can get in the South.   Eating this strata is like eating custardy bread pudding for breakfast–rich and heavenly.  This is serious, syrupy Southern goodness. Even though it’s a French-toast base, well, the French ain’t got nothin‘ on the South.

I swear my house smelled like Thanksgiving or Christmas morning while this was baking.  And then it tasted like Thanksgiving or Christmas morning in my mouth.  And then the hubs thus loved the breakfast lazy surprise and therefore declared we will eat this again on the following occasions:  1.  when we have special overnight/out-of-town guests   2.  when it’s a holiday   3.  when we are snowed in and 4. when we have  friends over for our next brunchy double-date.

(You, however, should make this whenever you like.)

A word to the hungry: you can make this up to 24  hours ahead of time,  or in as little as 2 hours ahead of time.

Another word to the hungry: this is quite rich.  I mean it’s right up there with Bill Gates rich.  Hope Diamond rich.

Hunker on down with your  coffee and eat this baby up:

FRENCH TOAST STRATA WITH APPLE CIDER SYRUP

1–Grease/Pam up a 3 quart rectangular baking dish (I use my lasagna dish, which you can get here)

2–Chop up a loaf of French bread into 1-inch cubes, (they can be a little bigger and nothing will get hurt, promise) Put half of the cubes in the pan.

3–Dice up  1 package of cream cheese (8 oz of Philly’ll do ya good) and sprinkle amidst the French bread cubes.  Cover the cheese with the rest of of the bread.  Sprinkle the whole mess with 1-2 tsp. cinnamon (depending on your taste).  You could most definitely do a fat-free, or reduced fat version if you are watching calories—but what the heck are you doing reading through this recipe if you are watching calories? Hmmmmm?

4–Mix up in a bowl the following:  8 eggs, 6 T melted butter,  2 1/2 cups half & half, and 1/4 cup maple syrup. Stir that sucker up good and pour over your bread mixture
**NOTE–I split the half/half mixture between half&half and skim milk**

5–Smush the mixture down with a spatula so everything gets all good and soaky and then cover with plastic wrap until ready to bake!

6–In a 350 degree oven, bake the strata, uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until golden, puffy, gotta-get-your-fork-ready.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving and voila! Get your apple cider syrup and eat this up.

APPLE CIDER SYRUP

*You can use this syrup on your Aunt Jemima waffles and pancakes if you choose, but if you decide to dollop it on your strata, get this going a good 10-15 minutes before the strata is due*

1–Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and 4 tsp. cornstarch in your small saucepan.

2–Stir in 1 cup apple juice, 1 T. lemon juice and cook and stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly! When it gets thick and bubbly, cook it for at max 2 more minutes.

3–Off heat, add 2 T. butter and stir in.

 

Yeah. Like I said, hope diamond rich, but well worth an extra lap or two in the pool.


Enjoy and happy eating!

baked apple dumplins

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Since July 10, I have been experiencing an identity crisis of sorts.

You see, I changed my name when we got married.

I didn’t want to drop my middle name, and  I didn’t want to lose my maiden name, so I just decided to add Farley on—having four names is a little muffy-buffy for me, I’m sure it’s pretentious, but hey, this is what I went with.

Now that it’s nearly November, the kids at school are more used to calling me Mrs. Farley, and I’m (strangely) more used to answering to my new name–the change has been quicker than I thought.  Some still call me Miss Frazer, since that’s how they met me, but it’s becoming odd to the ear to hear my old name—even though I had that name for so many years.

Yesterday afternoon, the hubs went out for a bit and I decided to be utterly domestic and sweet and bake the boy something good.  While I was covered in flour (from the yumminess on which you are about to feast your eyes),  there came a knock on my door.

I answered it, and standing in front of me was a door-knocker for a local candidate (November IS coming, you know).

“Is Miss Frazer there?”

I hesitated.

Technicially, it’s Mrs. Farley’s house now… I think to myself.

“Sorry….Miss Frazer doesn’t live here anymore…”

And thus our campaigner walks away.

And I can get back to feeding Farley!

So, as I am growing more familiar with recent changes in nomenclature, I recognize I am still good ole Miss Frazer somewhere on the inside.  Kind of like the following recipe:  you can call it what you like, but it’s all the same.  Some of the potential names included:  Inside-Out Apple Pie,  Apple Swirls,  Deconstructed Apple Pie.

But I went with……………..(enter proverbial drumroll)

BAKED APPLE DUMPLINS

1–Peel, core, and chop up about 2 cooking apples (I used Rome) and set aside–enough to make about 2 cups.

romes, pre-game

romes, nakey

2–Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

3–In a decent-sized bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, and 1 tsp. salt.

4–Add in 1 stick of butter, cold–cut it in till it gets to look like fine crumbs. Had I a pastry cutter, I would totally use it….but I used the fork method instead.

check this baby out, miss paula deen!

5–When your flour mixture is lookin super crumby, add in 1/3 cup milk at room temperature. Stir in and mix until it just comes off the sides of the bowl–may require some effort, but I believe you can do it!

6–Take your dough and place it on a floured surface, knead it about 5 times, and roll out to a 9 x 11 rectangle.

** I use this wonderful baking mat from Bed, Bath and Beyond that you can bake on, roll out dough on, basically do anything on (ahem) and it features a lovely ruler alongside the top and bottom of the mat, so you know precisely how much that 9 x 11 is, if you’re spatially-challenged, like me. Also helps in keeping a counter clean.**

7–Add your apples into the mix and sprinkle with 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon!!!

8–Roll up the pastry jelly-roll style, and cut into slices 1 1/4 inch thick.  Place in a round cake pan (that you have pre-Pammed or greased, of course).

9–In a small bowl, mix up 1 cuppa water and 1 cuppa sugar to make a sugary syrupy sensation and pour on top of your apple slices.

10–Bake for 45 minutes and sprinkle 1 tsp. sugar over the top of your dumplins for 15 minutes more.

Don’t resist the urge to eat them immediately, but do give it a second to cool off, you know, so you don’t burn your tongue and all.  Farley loved’em.

…so delicious, and easier than pie.  Literally.

Enjoy and happy eating!

adam sandler serenades me in the kitchen…i mean…

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Farley hasn’t met a food he doesn’t much care for (except for maybe cauliflower), and while we go out for Thai and Indian, and grab sushi whenever we can, I daresay my hubs is a comfort-food man.

He also does not typically support ‘meatless dinners.’

So on a night where I might have otherwise torn open a box of Fruit Loops (definitely meatless) and gone to town…..well….things have changed.  I have a hubs to feed–and a non-vegetarian hubs at that! Grades are due for us tomorrow–we are both teachers in the same school–and that left little time for me to cultivate a “culinary extravaganza” for this evening.

I stuck to my tasted-and-true:  sloppy joes.

(I have strands of Adam Sandler in my head just typing this for you–humming away in my head am I)

It is definitely easy to pop open some pre-made, sodium-rich glop to shove onto your browned beef….but how appealing is that, really?

Hamburger and sugar syrup do not belong together.

I am on a mission tonight to break them up. Just call me the other woman, why don’t you.

May I present to you an alternative , super FAST, DELICIOUS, HEALTHIER, and EASY way for you to make from-scratch sloppy joes that are definitely sloppy? Oh, and that won’t pickle your arteries with salt? (lovely).

(adapted from Rachael Ray)

SLOPPY JOES

(does not require a fancy name)

 

1–Heat a large skillet over med-hi heat.   Add 1 T olive oil and 1 1b. ground beef, and spread it around the pan to break up into teeny teeny pieces.

2– In another bowl, stir up 1/4 cup brown sugar and 2 1/2 tsp. steak seasoning. Make sure to get rid of any sugar lumps!  Add this to the meat mixture and combine.

3–When you see your meat is browning nicely, throw some onion (1 medium one chopped) and red pepper (1 small one, chopped) into the mix.   Bring the heat down to medium and cook for about 5 minutes.

4–Stir in 1 T. red wine vinegar, 1 T. Worcestershire, 2 c. tomato sauce (NOT pasta sauce! Just tomato!) and 2 T. tomato paste. Stir it all up, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 5 more minutes.

Totally easy, totally weeknight do-able, totally yummy!

We spooned it up onto hamburger buns with a slice of cheese.

(Moral of today’s story: you don’t need to mess to much with a sloppy joe).

See you tomorrow for a slice of cinnamony baked goodness!

Enjoy and happy eating!

a real cabbage patch kid

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Are you a………………………cabbage eater?
(I mean, an outside-of coleslaw cabbage eater?)
I approach a risky food with you today…..red cabbage.
I myself didn’t even touch it until, oh, about three months ago?

I get this feeling that there are plenty of adults who are still afraid of this delightful, beautiful veggie.

(It’s seriously beautiful…….once I cut into it, I was in awe of the gorgeous, intricate design  of the interior)

So yes, I decided to be a grown-up and stick my fork in a teensy smattering and give a taste.  And I am not the only previous non-cabbage eater that this dish has changed:  our dear, darling friend Frankie, a.k.a,  Frankster,  once joined me in the ranks of “cabbage?-no-thank-you.”  And he, too, converted.

Now, my Nana, who happens to be blessed with both Italian and German heritage in beauty and in cooking,  sometimes showcases a big bowl of red cabbage at her dinner table.  As a child, I’d never eat the stuff–it was purple!

After my first make of the Sweet Cider Chicken, hubs and I agreed that while delicious, it needed something not-so-sweet to ‘balance the palate,’ as they say.  I thought of the great red cabbage I’d had back at The Bavarian Chef and thought I would try to replicate it.

This side dish has a sweet-and-sour tang to it, and while I normally wouldn’t serve it alongside chicken, it proved to be a perfect balance to  the sweetness of the honey mustard and cider vinegar in the marinade and sauce.

**make sure you use either white vinegar or red wine vinegar to help preserve the supah pretty reddish purple color**

Here’s how:

SOMETHING LIKE MY NANA’S GERMAN CABBAGE

1–Take a 3-4 lb. head of red cabbage and shred the sucker. (Should make about 10 cups).

2–Stick the shreds in a nice, roomy saucepan with 2 tsp. vegetable oil and 1 large onion, thinly sliced (or 1 1/4 c. onion), and cook until  all is wilted.

shredded red cabbage

3–Then you gonna add about 3 tart apples, diced up, 2 T. and 2 tsp. water, 2 t. salt, black pepper to taste.  (My apples were Granny Smith and my onions were leftover yellows—you surely could use white—but I would stay away from Vidalias since we’re trying to go sweet and sour and not sweet plus more sugar, capeesh?)

4–Let it simmer for 25 minutes or so, partially covered.

5–Add in 2 tsp. caraway seeds, 1/2 tsp. ground cloves, and 1/2 tsp. ground allspice. Simmer for about 10 minutes, partially covered.

6–Mix in 1/4 c. white sugar and 1/2 cup. vinegar (either white or red wine, your pick!) and simmer about 10 more minutes. *at this stage in the game, you could elect to mix in cornstarch, pinch by pinch, until the cabbage and liquid reach a thicker, saucier consistency, or you could elect not to–you have the right to vote on this, kiddos!*

I do suggest taking out a slice of cabbagey yummness along the way to taste for seasonings and adding more if you so choose

This makes enough to feed at least five folks.

Enjoy and happy eating!


punky is sweet, and so is her chicken

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Leaves change hues, I need a jacket, and we’re trading the grill for the oven since we’re too pansy to cook in the cold night air:  it’s for sure fall at the Farley house. 

I should let it be known that usually, when it comes to feeding Farley, he likes to partake in some of the cooking at home.  He happens, as per stereotype, to be the one who grills and I am the one who marinates.  (Well, I myself don’t actually marinate, silly, I am in charge of making the marinades!)

Above you see a lovely bespeckled marinade that I have been working on that proves to be quite tasty and delicious.  This one came about when Farley called me–he was still at work; I’d just gotten home–to see what I could come up with for the chicken we planned to grill….and then changed our minds to baking once we got too chicken to stand outside (…get it?…chicken….ah, so punny!)

Mustard typically serves as the base for most of the marinades made at casa Farley.   For this dish, I wanted to incorporate some fall flavors, and used a very sweet honey mustard–usually reserved for the dipping of chicken fingers or pretzels.  And it was AWESOME!!!

Here we go, kiddos, to the moistest, tastiest, and sweetest chicken you’ll ever lay your lips on:

PUNKY’S SWEET FALL CHICKEN

1–In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of sweet honey mustard, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, and 2 T. olive oil.    Add to this 1 T. garlic powder, 2 tsp. dried rosemary, 1 tsp. oregano, 1/2 tsp. ground sage, and salt and pepper to taste.  You could also sprinkle some dried basil into the mix, or whatever suits your fancy. WHISK WELL!!!

2–Take a (sanitary) taste–if you want it a little more herby, go on, load up!

3–In a rather large zip-loc bag, Cover three or four chicken breasts with the yummy mixture.  Let marinate for at least an hour (I did 2).

4–Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until done!  (Once, the chicken breasts were pretty thick, so we baked them at 375 instead….and they weren’t a bit dry, just so you know.)

5–OPTIONAL—instead of throwing away the reserve marinade, boil the sucker in a small saucepan.  Once boiled,  it’s safe to eat.  Pour on top of chicken when finished.  

**NOTE:  we use a digital meat thermometer to check for doneness every single time we cook meat.  Chicken is edible and moist and safe at 165 degrees.   Bed, Bath and Beyond sells a terrific, reliable, and easy-peasy tool.  It’s the Oxo Good Grips Digital Leave-In Thermometer and I rely on this for all my meats now.  You can buy it here

or click on the link below:

http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?SKU=16758434

This dish was so mmm mmm tasty that I forgot to take a finished-product picture! Dear me! So I will be sure to post a finished-pic the next time I make this, which is sure to be soon.

…wondering what to serve as sides?  We did mashed potatoes, buttered and parslied carrots, and sweet and sour red cabbage.  Check tomorrow’s post for the latest recipes!

Enjoy and happy eating.