Saturday, March 25, 2017

Mashed Potato Balls

We're just about finished with the appetizer section of the Columbia Restaurant Cookbook, and these mashed potato balls were quite delicious. Making them is quite a complicated process, so I don't know how often we'll have these, but at least it's one recipe where the result is worth the effort.

Mashed Potato Balls

First you need to make some picadillo and some mashed potatoes. Combine the seasoned mashed potatoes with an egg and form them into balls, about 2" in diameter. Take a ball, dent it, add some picadillo, and reform the ball around the meat mixture. Then roll in fine dry bread crumbs Ipanko) and fry until golden brown. Delicious!

I decided to serve it with more of the picadillo, over rice, and fried plantains. It was a delicious combination.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Salad with Chicken and Grapes

The original plan was to have a Chicken Caesar Salad for dinner, but when the neighboring table at lunch ordered Chicken Salad and I remembered we had grapes in the fridge, I changed my mind. However, because we did eat out for lunch, I felt something lighter than our regular recipe might be better. This recipe was the inspiration, although I made several changes. 

Sour Cream Balsamic Dressing

1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon water
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

cooked chicken
chopped celery
chopped pear
toasted, chopped pecans

Combine dressing ingredients. Combine salad ingredients. Toss together and serve.

While this was fine, it wasn't our favorite. I need to remember that I don't care for balsamic vinegar. If we try it again, I need to reduce the amount of vinegar. Or maybe I should try this recipe - Curried Cashew, Pear and Grape Salad, or this one - Pear and Bleu Cheese Salad, although they wouldn't be main dish salads.
We did try the Curried Cashew one the next day. I liked it better; Wayne preferred the first one. I'm thinking maybe it was the Dijon mustard instead of the balsamic vinegar that we didn't care for. I guess we'll keep on experimenting.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Thousand Island Dressing

Growing up, we often just mixed ketchup and Miracle Whip together, maybe adding some chopped pickles and/or hard-boiled eggs, to use as dressing on our salads. I haven't done that recently, and when we needed Thousand Island Dressing for Reuben Sandwiches, to use up the St. Patrick's Day corned beef, I decided to 1) make my own, and 2) find a real recipe. So, this one comes from our tried-and-true Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook.

Thousand Island Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chili sauce
2 hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped
2 tablespoons green pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients and mix well. Store in covered jar in the refrigerator.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Green Pea Soup

We don't have this very often, but I was surprised to discover there wasn't a post for it on this blog. Time to rectify that! There was a ham bone in the freezer, it's a bit chilly today (comparatively speaking), and I thought it would be nice to have Green Pea Soup for my St. Patrick's Day lunch, so I'm making it for dinner tonight. Our recipe comes from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that we received as a wedding gift. I don't know how the recipe or taste compares to the Andersen Pea Soup I remember getting on vacation as a kid, but it still brings back good memories.
Split Pea Soup

1 pound (2 1/4 cups) dry split green peas
8 cups water
1 teaspoon chicken base
1 meaty ham bone
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 bay leaves
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped

Combine everything but the carrots and celery in a large pot; bring to a boil and simmer for an hour. Remove the ham bone and bay leaves. Add the carrots and celery and cook for 30 minutes or until tender. By then the bone should be cool enough to cut off the meat and return it to the soup pot. If you want the soup to be creamier, use an immersion blender in the pot before adding the ham back in. That's the way we like it. Serves 6-8.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fluffy Tapioca Pudding

Many years ago we canned a lot of apricots. Some of them were overripe so I turned them into apricot sauce, which we liked to use in my version of the Fluffy Tapioca Pudding found on the back of the box. Basically, I substituted some apricot sauce for some of the milk.

Apricot sauce isn't something we have in our pantry anymore, but when I wanted to use up some peaches in the freezer, this seemed like a good recipe to try. It was!

Here's the original recipe, which I doubled for our family of 8:

Fluffy Tapioca Pudding

1 egg, separated
6 Tbsp. sugar, divided
3 Tbsp. MINUTE Tapioca
2 cups 2% reduced fat milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat egg white in small bowl with electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Gradually add 3 Tbsp. sugar, beating until soft peaks form.Mix tapioca, remaining sugar, milk and egg yolk in medium saucepan. Let stand 5 minutes.

Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to full boil. Remove from heat. Quickly stir egg white mixture into hot tapioca in saucepan until well blended. Stir in vanilla. Cool 20 minutes; stir. Serve warm or chilled. For creamier pudding, place plastic wrap on surface of pudding while cooling. Stir before serving. Store leftover pudding in refrigerator.

My apricot/peach version substituted apricot sauce or peach pureƩ (made using a blender or food processor) for the milk, or a portion thereof; just use 2 cups total liquid. Also, almond extract instead of vanilla is a great variation for peach desserts.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Birthday Cupcake Kit

It's March! That's a birthday month in our family - a grandmother (no longer with us), my mom, a son, and two grandchildren - along with two nephews, four nieces, a brother-in-law and who knows how many cousins.
It's also the birthday month of Relief Society and as I was preparing a lesson on the history and legacy of Relief Society, I thought it would be nice to have a treat to pass out. However, it's also Fast Sunday, and providing a source of temptation would not be nice. Fortunately, I remembered the cupcake-in-a-mug phase and decided that a little cupcake "kit" might be just perfect. We'll see what everyone else thinks, but I enjoyed the test sample!

I found a recipe at the Table for Two blog and modified it for mass production. Technically, I guess that defeats the whole purpose of a single-serving cake, but I like being different. Besides, if you make up a big batch of mix to keep in the pantry, you can satsify your chocolate/sweets cravings even faster!

Moist Chocolate Cake in a Mug

3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Combine ingredients and store in a closed container. (This was enough for 12 individual packets.)

Mix 1/2 cup mix with 1/3 cup milk and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Pour batter into a 14-oz mug. If desired, add 1 tablespoon of add-ins (such as Nutella, peanut butter, chocolate chips or berries). Microwave for 70 seconds.* If desired, drizzle with fudge sauce, frosting, or powdered sugar. Allow to cool a bit before eating!
Not the prettiest portrayal of the cake, but I think it's a cool picture anyway.
*The original poster had a 950 watt microwave; it turns out that's the wattage of the one I used as well. If yours is different, you may need to adjust the time.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Cornmeal Crepes

One month several years ago, the visiting teaching message was on the idea of “stirring up in remembrance.” The night before her visit, my visiting teacher had made cornmeal crepes for dinner. She noticed that the cornmeal settled to the bottom of the batter very quickly, and that before making each crepe she had to stir it to mix it back in. Gospel truths have a tendency to do that also. We need to constantly be doing things – prayer, scripture study, attend meetings, serve others – so our grains of testimony stay sprinkled throughout our daily lives. It’s too easy for them to slip down and be overcome by the “busyness” of the world.

In case you ever want to turn this thought into an object lesson, I found a recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe for you to use:

Taco Enchiladas with Cornmeal Crepes


Cornmeal Crepes:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups yellow or white cornmeal
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk

Taco Meat:
3/4 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
2 pounds ground beef or ground turkey
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 (8-ounces each) cans tomato sauce
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced fine (optional)
2 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese

1 can black olives, drained and sliced
Sour cream

For the crepes, combine all of the crepe ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Spray a 10-inch nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat until the skillet is very hot. Give the crepe batter a quick stir with a wooden spoon. Measure out 1/4 cup batter and pour into the hot skillet, tilting the pan to coat the bottom evenly. The skillet should be hot enough that you should hear a sizzle when the batter hits the pan but not so hot that it burns the crepes. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute and then loosen the edge of the crepe with a rubber spatula and flip, cooking for another 30 seconds or so. Transfer the crepe to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter, giving the batter a quick stir before each crepe to distribute the cornmeal and lightly spraying the skillet with cooking spray when needed. Stack the cooked crepes on top of each other. The crepes can be made up to 2 days in advance. Cool the crepes completely before storing in the refrigerator, enclosed in a ziploc bag or covered in plastic wrap.

For the taco meat, cook the onion, ground meat, garlic, salt and pepper in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently to break the meat into bite-size pieces, until the meat is cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Drain the excess grease. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, coriander, tomato sauce and jalapeno, if using. Simmer over medium heat for 8-10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Lay a crepe flat on a clean work surface or plate. Place about 1/4 to 1/3 cup meat mixture on each crepe, sprinkle with a tablespoon or so of cheese and roll up. Lay seam side down on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining crepes, meat and cheese. Sprinkle the tops of the crepes with remaining cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is golden and the crepes are heated through. Serve the crepes with the olives, sour cream, salsa and any other garnishes you prefer.