Monday, January 31, 2011

Meatballs and Onions in Paprika sauce

Meatballs and Onions in Paprika Sauce
by: the seat of my pants

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
2 eggs
1 c dried bread crumbs
1 t garlic salt
1/2 c milk

2 c beef stock, divided
1 large sweet onion, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks, then separated
3 T sweet paprika, plus a bit more to garnish
2 T flour
1 c sour cream

Combine all ingredients until well combined, form into 1 inch meat balls. Place on a try and broil until brown, turn repeat.

Place meat into a large skillet with a lid, scatter onions over the top, add 1 1/2 c of the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 3o minutes. Remove lid, return heat to high, and allow liquid to reduce as you prepare a slurry.

Combine the remaining stock with the flour, whisking until smooth and no lumps remain.

Reduce heat to medium, sprinkle the paprika over the meat, then stir in the sour cream. When mixture is hot, stir in the slurry, let mixture simmer until thickened, stirring as needed.

Serves 4 - 6, along with with mashed potatoes or side of choice.

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

By request with:
Beat the winter blues @ Goodbye City, Hello Suburbs!

This post will be shared with:
Make it with Paprika @ Couscous and Consciousness

Hearth n Soul @a moderate life

Tuesday Twister @ GNOWFGLINS

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cranberry Pine Nut cake squares

When I looked around at how much food Honey and I waste, I was aghast and ashamed. I never (repeat never) wasted food when the kids were at home. I had no idea how difficult it can be to cook less food. I continue to have a difficult time shopping for less food and using it all. One of my goals that goes along with my defining word, enough, is enough waste already!

When I made Cranberry Liqueur this past holiday season, I was left with all those happy cranberries. They have been staying in the refrigerator, and really are such good tenants that I almost forgot they were there. But now I was hearing a faint whimpering sound. It turned out to be not only the cranberries but a large handful of pine nuts as well. So I sat out to find something to make that would use these two ingredients and give me something good to serve Honey when he gets home for his meal break.

Cranberry pine nut cake squares
adapted from: 1 mix 100 cakes
written by:  Christine France
350 degree oven

This recipe book calls for super fine sugar. An ingredient I would not have in my kitchen unless I made it myself, because we use organic evaporated cane juice crystals. But I have found at least one answer to that little problem. I cream the butter (cold from the refrigerator) and the sugar together and then proceed with the recipe. Most of the recipes in this book are a one bowl style, and adapt very well to small changes. The original recipe called for fresh raspberries, but I knew the cranberries would make a nice substitute. 

3/4 c cold butter cut into small pieces
3/4 c sugar

1 1/2 c flour
1 T baking powder
3 eggs
1 t vanilla
1/4 c whole milk or half and half

1-2 c chopped "happy" cranberries (chopped cranberries left over from making Cranberry Liqueur)

approximately 2/3 c pine nuts*

Cut butter into small pieces, add to large mixer bowl along with sugar. Cream together on med/low until mixed well, turn up to med/high and cream until sugar begins to break down.

Scrape sides of bowl, down to the center, leaving creamed mixture in a pile in the center of the bowl.

Add remaining ingredients listed, flour through half and half. Start mixer on low until ingredients are mixed, turn speed up to medium and beat approximately 1 minute. Stop mixer, add cranberries, mix on low to stir in.

Spread batter in prepared 9X13 pan, sprinkle pine nuts over top. I prefer the nuts on top so that they can bake to a golden crisp texture.

 Gently "pat" the surface of the cake to help the nuts stick to the batter.
Bake 35 minutes, or until tests done in your oven.

Serve with a small scoop of ice cream (to spread like frosting over the top), whipped cream or just plain. Enjoy.

Recipe rating:  It's Ok. (tasty but not special)

*You may also stir half of the pine nuts into the batter and scatter the remainder over the top.

As always thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello.
I appreciate your time and your comments.

This post will be shared with:
Hearth n Soul @ a moderate life.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Vanilla Rolls, Girl Scouts and door to door sales, oh my!

When I was about 10, I was real hungry for money. I wasn’t greedy but I was kind of needy. I had equipment I wanted and needed to buy, because my Girl Scout troop was going to Jamboree. I loved scouts and at that time in my young life, I wanted everything to match. There was a flashlight in my Dad’s toolbox, and  I could take it to camp, but I wanted the little green one with the Girl Scout logo on it. Also it had a 90-degree bend right at the top and it was really comfortable in my kid sized hand.

I already babysat, and had for years. I started my babysitting apprenticeship right at home, about age seven. I could do everything needed for kids younger than me, and there were plenty of them at my house. I went on to work paid gigs at age 10, even though sometimes I was a bit scared when it was real dark outside and there was nothing left to do. You know after the little ones were sleeping and I had already done the dishes to keep busy.

One day I noticed a little advertising to sell Watkins products. Door to door sales the ad stated, ordering customers on every street. It also mentioned, "no investment necessary". Well that was all I needed to hear, count me in! Let me just say this about that, door-to-door sales are not easy. But I kept at it, going down the block, around the corner, and onward, day after day. I did not get rich, but I learned at age 10, sales were not in my future.  So I did what every kid does, after a while I hounded family and friends. I made enough to get some equipment and then I let that wonderful opportunity go.

But I loved the vanilla extract. To this day, vanilla is still my favorite flavor. When I hear the phrase “plain vanilla” I think, no way. Vanilla is like a smile in your food. It is pleasant, familiar and each time you taste it, you are happy again. 

While out thrifting one day I found this great book, and brought it home. Seeing the book brought back some great memories of my “career” in sales and of going to Jamboree with my Girl Scout logo equipment. Ah the life and times of a 10 year old.

Today lets make Vanilla Cream rolls. I must tell you up front, these are not in any cook book, only an idea or experiment. I wanted something special (you could probably substitute different and that would be OK) and so, they are several techniques and recipes combined to make a very special sweet roll treat. Something very vanilla. My thoughts on coming up with this project went something like this:

Take sweet tender vanilla flavored yeast dough, spread lightly with butter, then sprinkled with sugar and a splash of vanilla, rolled and cut, then lay in a pool of cream, vanilla and sugar. When baked the cream will form a delicate vanilla caramel sauce. After baking let rest a few minutes before turning out of the pan so the cream sauce is on top. 

Lets see what we can do.

Vanilla sweet dough

2 1/4 t yeast
3 c flour
dash salt
1/3 c plus 2 T sugar
4 T soft butter
3/4 c plus 1 T milk
1 T vanilla
1 egg

Load ingredients into ABM in order given, process on dough cycle.

Vanilla Cream Sauce

1 c whipping cream
1/3 c sugar
1 T vanilla

Combine together in a 9X13 pan, stirring well. Set aside.

Vanilla Sweet Rolls

completed dough 
soft butter
small amount of sugar
dash of vanilla

Roll dough into a 9X13 rectangle, spread lightly with butter, sprinkle lightly with sugar, splash a bit of vanilla over to moisten. 

Roll dough up starting from the 13 inch side. Slice into 12 rolls. 

Carefully pick up and place in the cream mixture. Let rise until double in a warm spot, 45 - 90 minutes depending upon the warmth of your kitchen. 

Bake 350 for 30 minutes or until rolls are done. 

 You can see the cream sauce bubbling up between the rolls. The smell is so heavenly!

Let rest in the pan 10 minutes, turn out onto serving tray, letting cream sauce cover rolls. 

Having eaten one, once cooled, they are a bit vague in flavor even with the amounts of vanilla used in each step. This would be a very delicious roll with a bit of cinnamon in the dough and the vanilla cream sauce. But not bad as experiments go.

Recipe rating:  It's Ok. (tasty but not special)

As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello.
I appreciate your time and your comments!

This post is shared with:

Hearth n Soul @ a moderate life

Make it with Vanilla @ Couscous & Consciousness

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Half Moons Soup with roasted onions and garlic

I had noticed the theme of “one word” around blogtown for a couple of years now. It is not new, but it is new each time it is presented. New again because when you first saw it but did not take action, it went off your radar. Then when you read about it again and made a decision to act, it became new for you. New because you did something, you came up with your word.

The timing was perfect when I noticed it on Sidewalk Shoes. Pam writes a delightful, friendly, down to earth, comfortable, this is me and I’m OK with it, blog. I read Sidewalk Shoes regularly and Pam always has something good to say or something good to eat. I read her blog and many others over coffee, a nice relaxing way to start my day.

When you look around for a few years or 40, we each are all at a different, but same place. That same place would be “in progress”. Where I stand in progress would be different spot than where you stand in progress. But you see, we really are all in the same place. We are all in progress.

Meaning, we are all in the progress of living. 

There are duplicate patterns as well as the sharing of sameness. You could live across the street or across the country and the matching patterns would still exist. There are the early years where we upsize, and the middle or later years where we downsize. Or possibly the troubled years where we might have to downsize for cash. It does not matter there will be a shared sameness. The sharing of sameness has been around forever, just a few short years ago downsizing was called “the empty nest syndrome”.  And I do believe upsizing was referred to as, just starting out.

But back to one word…….

Picking one word can be hard. This one word will help define your life for one year. So you will want to remember it, and use it daily. This is not like more work, so have no fear. Also, don't worry, it's not like there are one-word police on patrol, ready to write a ticket,  so your safe to play along. But still, picking that one defining word is important. And it is all about you, your next year and what you want to happen. Fun stuff, and I was so ready this time! My word is enough, as in…….

worried enough, stop because more won’t help.

worked hard enough, go home to your life. 

haven’t played enough, go and have some fun.

warm enough, fed enough, and comfortable enough, be proud of your accomplishment.

Whew, all of that is going to be nice. I have only worked about 40 years to get here, but enough complaining already! Evidently I was not ready before, because if I had, I would not be here today. Either that or I was real busy upsizing and having my babies! I guess I was finally ready, and for that I am  thankful.

This also relates to my kitchen. Some days I like involved recipes, some days, meh not so much. 

On those meh days, my favorite throw together meal is soup. The only negative side is that often times I don’t write it down, when it is gone, it’s gone. However I did decide to play with some ground beef and meatballs for a bone broth soup with tomatoes, celery, carrots and barley. I often reach for these ingredients, they are pantry staples and I love them together in soup. Soup makes a great meal, for us, for my lunches and for just me when Honey is on the late shift.

I think meat balls can be overrated, especially for soup. Often times when you brown them they get flat sided. After that they’re not balls, so you might as well take the easy route and make this.

Half Moon Soup with roasted onions and garlic

1 # lean ground beef
2 eggs
2 slices bread, crumbled
1/2 t salt
fresh ground pepper
herb or herb blend of choice (I used some homemade Bay Leaf Seasoning)
1/3 (approximate) c milk

1 - 2 large onion2, 1/2 inch dice
4 – 8 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
olive oil

Break eggs into large bowl, beat. Crumble bread and scatter over eggs, pour on the milk. Crumble the raw beef, season with salt, pepper and herbs if desired. Stir with a fork until well mixed. Allow meat mixture to stand for about 3 – 5 minutes while preheating the broiler.

Using a medium ( 1 T size) cookie scoop, scoop meat into “half moon” scoops and place on a prepared baking pan. Broil until brown, 5-8 minutes.

You may also turn over and brown other side if desired. 

Remove the cooked meat from baking pan, scatter onion and garlic over sheet into a single layer.

Drizzle with olive oil. Broil 4-5 minutes, stir, rearrange and continue to broil until golden brown. If you want a rich roasted onion flavor, use both onions and roast longer.

In a large crock pot, place the following:

1 c pearl barley
4 ribs celery sliced
4 carrots, diced if large, sliced is slender
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
the cooked meat
the roasted onion/garlic mixture
beef bone stock/water to within 1 inch from top of crock
and if desired, one of the following:

1 bunch kale, remove ribs, diced 1/2 inch OR
2 c green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces OR
1 c frozen green peas OR
3-4 c chopped green cabbage

Cover and cook on high for 4 – 6 hours or until done.

Simple, tasty and enough to invite the neighbors or some family or both.

As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello.
I appreciate your visits and comments.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Swedish Saffron Bread

Many years ago I had the privilege of attending a small gathering at Wild Oats, our small town organic market. The cook/speaker was cookbook author Tom LaCalamita, and he prepared an assortment of food from his upcoming book, Pressure Cookers for DUMMIES - A reference for the rest of Us! Mr. LaCalamita is an easy going friendly speaker and cook. That last part is important, because he is just like us. A home cook who cooks for his family and enjoys good food.

Now some 15 years later, Wild Oats is gone, absorbed by a large grocery group. Our town is not as small and I have more Tom LaCalamita books. As it turns out, the man loves bread. A nice coincidence, because I love baking bread.

I have been wanting to cook (something, anything!) with saffron, and when Sue of Couscous and Consciousness began her Make it with .........Mondays series, she started with saffron. Having never cooked with this ingredient, I thought I would start with bread.

Swedish Saffron Bread
from:  The Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook
by:  Tom LaCalamita

2 1/4 t yeast
3 c flour
1/3 c sugar
dash salt
approximately 1/2 t saffron threads, crumbled to make 1/4 t powdered saffron
3 T soft (room temp) butter
1 egg
3/4 c PLUS 2 T milk, warmed to room temp

ingredients needed before baking:
1 egg
1 t water
6 blanched almonds - if desired
6 raisins - if desired

Load ingredients into ABM in order given. Process on dough cycle.

When dough cycle is complete, divide dough into half on a floured surface.

Squeeze each piece into a rope approximately 14-16 inches long. Cross the pieces of dough in a large X on a prepared baking sheet.

Coil up each end of the dough toward the center. Let rise again until doubled in bulk, 45 - 90 minutes depending upon the warmth of your kitchen or proofing area.

When dough had doubled, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Make the egg wash by beating together the egg and water. Carefully "paint" the dough with the egg wash, and arrange the raisins and almonds.

To be honest, there was not a photo of how the bread was to be decorated, and my mind could not establish a pattern with 4 dough coils and the 6 almonds and 6 raisins. And then I realized, I'm not Swedish! So this is my way, 3 raisins on each coil and sliced almonds over all. Then it went into the oven...............

Recipe rating;  Oh Yes! (will make again)

As always thanks for taking a moment to stop by.
I appreciate your comments and your visiting!

This post is shared with:

Make it with Saffron @ Couscous & Consciousness

Pennywise Platter Thursday @ a nourishing gourmet

Friday Potluck @ EKats Kitchen

Tuesday Night Supper Club @ fudge ripple

Monday, January 10, 2011

and then there's Barbara!

I received a lidded food container for Christmas. It was filled with a buttery cheese spread, made by Barbara. The recipe for this delicious spread had been safely carried around by her, for years and years. She indicated to me when I made my copy, that the copy she held, had even survived a fire.

Now let me tell you, Barbara is a wonderful woman. She has worked hard her whole life and still in retirement works hard. She does all that she can for her neighbors in our little community and enjoys keeping her granddaughter before and after school. Like I said, busy busy busy.

Years ago Barbara worked at a restaurant call:

Portland's favorite restaurant-lounge...across from the Lloyd Center. 

She thought it was about 1958, and probably her first job as an adult. In those days the waitresses wore a uniform consisting of a short skirt with lots of petticoats, and a garter belt. That garter belt held a working cap gun.....

All dinner entrees came with creamed spinach, and if you did not eat your spinach the waitress got to "shoot" you with her cap gun. Yes ladies and gentlemen those were the days! I hear tell that even though creamed spinach was on every plate (yes, every plate). But the story goes that not every diner enjoyed it. Either that or they loved the fun the waitresses had with the cap guns. Honestly, knowing the Barbara I know today, I'm pretty sure she had a fun time with that cap gun as well.

The Pantry closed many years ago, but it must have been a popular restaurant. You can find a copykat recipe for their Chicken Bisque Soup,  here.

You are looking at a very poor scan of the copy I have.....

But this story is about Barbara and the delicious cheese spread. Since being given that little container of cheesy goodness, I have come up with a lot of reasons to have bread with my dinner. It is that good. But don't stop there, it would also be wonderful as a topping for a baked potato, or tossed with hot pasta.

On grocery shopping day I hope we remember to pick up some french rolls, because I want to slice one down the middle, spread  it thickly with this butter and run it under the broiler. What I might serve it with I haven't a clue, but I already know I will be having some delicious, buttery, cheesy bread for my dinner.

When Barbara started at The Pantry, this cheese spread was already a favorite of the patrons!

Cheese Spread
adapted from:
THE PANTRY Restaurant ~ Portland Oregon

1 pound butter
1/2 pound Sharp Cheddar Cheese - grated
1/4 pound Romano cheese - grated
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t paprika

Have all ingredients at room temperature. Combine ingredients with a stand mixer, starting out slowly and increasing speed. Mix/whip until fluffy.

To use and enjoy: Spread on sourdough or French bread and toast under the broiler. Generously season a baked potato, or toss with some freshly cooked pasta. Use it to butter asparagus and then quickly run the spears under a broiler to finish the dish to perfection........but really the possibilities are endless!

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

As always, thanks for stopping by to visit.
I always appreciate your taking the time.

This post shared with:
Hearth n Soul @ a moderate life

Tuesday Night Supper Club @ fudge ripple

Tuesday Twister @ GNOWFGLINS

Tasty Tuesday @ Who is Dr Laura?

weekend cooking@beth fish reads

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chicken Paprika, and a story of how cooking makes friends

I work in senior housing. While helping a client with paperwork, the phone at my desk rang, here is that conversation.

Me: "Kenilworth Park Plaza, this is Melynda"
Caller:  "do you know how to make swiss steak?"
Me: "yes I do"
Caller: " I have some chuck steak, and I have a kitchen tool to pound it with"
Me: "you will want to cut the meat into 3 inch square pieces, because when you pound them, you will have a 5 inch square, then you can dip it into flour and brown it in a skillet, then proceed with the tomatoes and onions"
Caller: "it's a crockpot recipe"
Me: " you can brown it for extra flavor if you want, or you can follow the recipe, browning is always good"
Caller: "oh, ok, thanks"

With the call ended, my client said her goodbyes and stated she had to catch a bus, to run some errands.
I replied, that I needed to get home and get dinner started. At that point my client said, "it seems you have lots of help with dinner at home".

I chuckled a bit and said, "Grace, that was not someone calling from home, that was another tenant right here in the building". Grace thought that was pretty funny.

Chicken Paprika
adapted from: The best recipes in the world
by, Mark Bittman

Garlic salt and fresh black pepper to taste
1/4 c lemon juice
1 pound chicken breast meat, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces

Sprinkle the meat with the lemon juice, garlic salt and pepper. Let sit while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1/2 c flour

Heat butter and oil in a large pan on medium heat. Drain excess lemon juice from chicken, toss meat in flour, shake off excess, place in a single layer in the pan.


Brown gently on medium low until golden, turn. Do not overcook. Remove to platter when cooked.

1 onion diced
1 T olive oil
1 T Hungarian Hot Paprika, or 2 T sweet paprika

After sauteing, I like to add a teaspoon of water, and steam for a moment to sweeten and soften.

Add oil to skillet, saute onion until tender. Sprinkle with paprika, toss to mix. Add chicken back to skillet, gently toss to coat with paprika..

 1 c sour cream
1/2 c chicken stock

Stir together until smooth, pour over chicken, mix gently to coat. Cover and cook on low for about 7 minutes to heat well, however do not let boil.

 Delicious! Serves 4 - 6

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

As always, thanks for stopping by.

This post will be shared with:
cookbook sunday@coucous and consciousness

Special Edition Tackling Bittman @ girlichef

Tackling Bittman @ Couscous & Consciousness

Pennywise Platter Thursday @ the Nourishing Gourment