Monday, July 17, 2017

Adventures in Pesto Making

Today, I decided to use some of my abundant home-grown basil to make pesto. I have never made pesto, so I searched the internet for recipes. Since I didn't have pine nuts, I decided to use heart-healthy walnuts, an alternative that often popped up in my search. I adapted my recipe from Basil-Walnut Pesto.  If you want to try the original recipe, go to the website. Mine just has a little more olive oil and another clove of garlic.  There is an interesting story about the walnuts I used in this. My father-in-law, who passed away 15 years ago, cracked and picked out these walnuts himself. They have been in my freezer ever since, and are still good. How amazing is that! I think Lee Ed might have smiled down on me today. Or he may have complained, Why on earth is she wasting my walnuts on that? They should go in some chocolate fudge.  Either way, I thought of him fondly, and all the food and recipes he and my mother-in-law Elaine shared with me over the years.
Ingredients 
Two cups of basil leaves, tightly packed.
1/2 cup walnuts
1/3 cup, plus another dash or so, of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese 
     Using a food processor, blend the first five ingredients together until it reaches the consistency you like, then add the Parmesan cheese and blend for another 10-20 seconds. Stop and stir the ingredients in if they want to stick to the sides of your processor.




I ended up with a pint of pesto, which I divided into two half-pint jars. I put some olive oil on top of one and put it in the freezer, and kept the other in the refrigerator.







I actually used a couple of tablespoons of this green goodness immediately for lunch. I chopped up some chicken breast, browned it in a pan, threw in about a cup zoodles (zucchini noodles), and a handful of asparagus. Then I added the fresh pesto and a couple of tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt for a lo-cal chicken fettuccine. Delicious!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Beef Summer Sausage

Since we raise our own beef, we are blessed to eat a variety of meat, and the steak seems to disappear first. That leaves us with an abundance of hamburger, which is extremely useful in numerous recipes, of course. I make cheeseburgers, chili, spaghetti, lasagna, vegetable-beef soup, hamburger gravy, Hamburger Helper, and the list goes on and on, like the shrimp possibilities recited by “Bubba” Blue in Forrest Gump. Recently, I wanted to try something different and make summer sausage out of our own meat. I remember my in-laws used to make it from deer meat, and I suspected our beef would be just as tasty, or even better! So I did some research – extensive minutes spent scrolling through recipes on Pinterest – and found a recipe that looked good and easy with a minimum of ingredients. The original recipe was published as  “Beef Summer Sausage” from Amy Engberson's blog Little Dairy on the Prairie.

I adapted it just a touch, because I did not have garlic salt, and I forgot how much pepper to put in.

Ingredients List:

4 # lean ground beef
¼ cup Tender Quick
2 T. Liquid Smoke
1 t. granulated garlic (or garlic salt)
Pepper according to your taste. The original called for two teaspoons, but I probably used less than one.

The Process:


          I started with 4 lbs. lean ground beef. I added ¼ cup of Tender Quick, which I bought at the Amish store and mixed it together. I wore rubber gloves and mixed it up literally by hand. I put that mixture back into the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, I added 2 generous tablespoons of Liquid Smoke, a teaspoon of granulated garlic, some freshly ground pepper (I didn’t measure it, but probably less than a teaspoon). Again, I folded it all in using gloved hands. Then I divided it in four pieces and shaped it into logs in plastic wrap. I just used my hands to squeeze it out into the shape I wanted. We like the bigger snack crackers, so I made them to fit.



Then I unwrapped them and put them on my broiler pan. I popped them in the oven for four hours at 225 degrees. The whole house filled with the smell of that garlicky smoky goodness. They came out beautifully, and I couldn’t wait to slice of a piece or two and taste it. Yummy! Perfection with our favorite cheese on a cracker. I will definitely be making this recipe again.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Noodles



Grand Marshalls of the 2010 Atlanta Homecoming - Clifford and Virginia
Today I made some comfort food for Clifford and Virginia Grubbs. My relationship with this sweet couple goes back to before I was born – our parents were friends and neighbors. Then I was born, and a month and 10 days later their daughter Kathy was born. Kathy and I were classmates and have been friends for longer than I can remember.  Since Virginia is recuperating after a hospital stay, and Clifford needs to put on a few pounds, I decided to make baked chicken, mashed potatoes, noodles, green beans, sweet potato hot rolls (the recipe is already included in a previous post), and zucchini bread (because we have an abundance of zucchini). 
As I made the noodles, with no written recipe, of course, I reminisced about the ladies who were responsible for my noodle-making skill. First, my sister Dianna gave me her mother-in-law Nellie Bealmer’s recipe years ago. Then, my mother-in-law Elaine Harvey demonstrated many times the process of rolling the dough out and cutting the noodles. Later, my daughter Vanita shared that her husband’s grandmother, Nanny (Lois) Weber, always added a pinch of baking powder and a little bit of melted butter. I love cooking for people I love.  I also enjoyed remembering all of the women whose cooking skills were passed down and went into making the noodles.  Thanks, ladies! Virginia called soon after I returned home from delivering the food to them and said the food was delicious. She said Clifford especially enjoyed the noodles and rolls. As my mom would have said, “That made my day!”

Noodles

You will need: 3 eggs (you can always reduce the number of eggs and the flour for a smaller amount), milk, flour, baking powder and melted butter for the dough.  You will also need chicken broth. I also use Amish noodle seasoning for some extra flavor.
My eggs were beautiful big brown eggs, raised by my grandson Lance

Process: Crack the eggs and reserve half of the shell. Fill the shell with milk three times (one for each egg you use. If you use two eggs then just two.) Beat the eggs and milk together, then add about a tablespoon of melted butter and a pinch of baking powder. Stir in enough flour to make a stiff batter. I tried to measure this time so I could tell you how much. I put in two cups of flour. 
 
You can see zucchini in the background, too.
Then I added more flour to the cutting board and kneaded it in. Just keep adding the flour as you knead it until it is not sticky. Do not overwork the dough, though, or your noodles will be tough. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Using a rolling pin, roll out the noodle dough thin. I just did a third of the batch at a time, so it would fit on my cutting board.
 
I cut it into thirds, then piled them on top of each other and cut that in half. Lastly, I cut the noodles. You can make them thin or thick, whichever you prefer. I like to try to cut them thin, because they puff up. Put them on a cookie sheet to let them dry a little before cooking.
Boil chicken broth in a large pan. I used about two quarts, then added a little more as they cooked. I added about a tablespoon of the chicken noodle seasoning.  Drop the noodles in a handful at a time. Boil them, but watch them and stir them occasionally to keep them from sticking.
My rolls are raising in the background.
 Cook the noodles for about 30 minutes. Sneak one out and taste it to see if it is done.  This sounds like a long and difficult process, but it is so worth it. Most importantly, do not forget to add the love during the whole process! I am sorry I did not get a picture of the final product, but when the potatoes were mashed, the rolls were hot out of the oven, and the green beans perfectly boiled, I put the food in containers, packed them up, and drove off so the "Meals on Wheels" would arrive warm. The bonus for me was a good visit with two of my favorite people and a hug goodbye when I left.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Beef Stew

     When my daughter Vanita was recuperating after surgery this past November, she said, “When I get better, your beef stew sounds good.”  Recently, my son suffered from an illness that had him down for a week, which is unusual for him. When I asked him if I could do anything, he responded, “Kristy is taking good care of me, but I told her if I wanted anything, it would be your beef stew.”  I made a big batch for both of them last weekend paired with another comfort food, a  loaf of “Mama Bread,” my mother-in-law’s sourdough recipe.  The meal was even delivered to them, so they did not have to leave their warm homes.   The phone rang that evening, and my son exclaimed, “Best beef stew ever!” Vanita also called to thank me for the meal, saying it was as good as she remembered. I was happy, because I thought the memory might be better than the actual food.
     Taken from a Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook I received as a wedding present, this “Old-Time Beef Stew” is a family favorite comfort food. It was my go-to meal for a child on the mend.   What made this batch even more special is that it was prepared with our own Angus beef, and the carrots and onions were from Blaine’s garden and stored in the refrigerator in the garage since summer.  The most important ingredient is to stir in some love and concern for the person who is recovering. 

Old-Time Beef Stew

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut in 1 ½-inch cubes (this does not need to be exact)
2 tablespoons shortening or olive oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
1 or 2 bay leaves (optional)
1 tablespoon salt (I do not use that much)
1 teaspoon sugar
½ t. paprika
¼ teaspoon pepper
6 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 potatoes cut in chunks
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 

In a Dutch oven, thoroughly brown meat in the shortening or oil, turning often. Add 2 cups of water (I usually add some leftover coffee as part of the liquids and a few sprinkles of brown gravy mix for extra flavor) and next nine ingredients. Cover; simmer for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Remove pay leaves. Add vegetables, cover and cook for 30-45 minutes, or until they are tender. ( As an alternate cooking method, I often use my pressure pan.)

When it is done, slowly blend 1/3 cup cold water with the 3 tablespoons of flour. Stir into the stew mixture. Cook and stir 3 minutes longer. Serve in bowls, preferably with hot rolls or bread. Makes 6 to 8 servings. 

     Enjoy our family favorite! Now, tell me what comfort food would you ask your mama to make?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Adventures in Pasta Making - Chapter 1


 
I had been thinking about making my own pasta and mentioned it a time or two to my daughter Vanita, who is good at filing those requests away for future special occasions.
 Still, I was surprised on Mother’s Day when my three children showed up with a basket full of pasta making supplies.
 
 
There was a cookbook, ravioli maker, pasta machine, and various cutters. My son said it was a “win-win” situation, since they hoped to be sampling some of my pasta in the future.
I read the book Making Artisan Pasta by Aliza Green and bought Hodgson Mill Extra Fancy Durum and Golden Semolina Pasta Flour. I decided to try Chicken Fettuccini as my first dish with flat noodles.

Here is the basic Three-Egg Pasta Dough recipe:
3/4 pound Pasta Flour or unbleached flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 egg yolk
2 to 3 teaspoons tepid water

Now, I am not going to write all the specific instructions after that, because there were eight steps to mix the dough, and then six more steps for using the pasta roller.

Put the eggs in the center of the "volcano" of flour and incorporate the flour into the eggs.
This is what it looks after kneading more flour in for about five minutes.
Then the dough and I had to rest for about 30 minutes.


The first rolling of the pasta!


This is the drying rack. Is that impressive, or what?
 
Then I made my sauce using a recipe from The Pioneer Woman on the Food Network.  Yes, I used a whole stick of real butter and a cup of heavy cream!
Chicken Fettuccine

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Fettuccine Noodles
  • 1 stick Butter
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a saucepan or skillet, warm butter and cream. (I added grated garlic - at least a teaspoon.) Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Grate Parmesan cheese and place half of it into a large serving bowl. Pour warm butter/cream mixture over the top.

Drain pasta and immediately pour it into the bowl.
Toss a couple of times, then sprinkle in the other half of the Parmesan.

Toss to combine, thinning with pasta water if necessary.
 


I browned chicken breast and added that to the mix.



It was rich and creamy and delicious. The process from start to clean up took about four hours.  I think I will try ravioli next.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bread Machine Hamburger or Hot Dog Buns




Ingredients:
1 cup water
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup wheat flour
3 cups unbleached white flour
1 tsp. salt
1 packet yeast or two teaspoons of bread machine yeast

Preparation:
Add ingredients to the bread machine in the order given and set on dough cycle. When cycle finishes, punch down and let rest for a few minutes. While the dough is resting, prepare a cookie sheet by spraying it with cooking spray and lightly sprinkling it with corn meal. Pinch of a circle of dough and flatten it. Remember that your final product will be about twice as big, so do not make it too big. Place each circle on cookie sheet, spray tops with cooking spray or brush with butter or egg white wash, whichever you prefer, and let rise until double, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until browned. Slice and enjoy. 

Note: You can make smaller party size shapes, or elongate the dough for hot dog buns. This recipe makes 8-10 large buns.  You can make it totally with white flour, or add more wheat flour if you want. Wheat makes a heavier bun that might take more time to raise.