Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Water Chestnut Meatballs

Water Chestnut Meatballs

2 cups soft bread crumbs
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound pork sausage
8 oz. can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup milk
16 oz can sweet and sour sauce (about 2 cups)

Combine everything but the sweet and sour sauce and mix well. Form into 1" balls, place in greased baking dish and bake at 350 F for 20 to 25 minutes. Gently stir in the sweet and sour sauce and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

I couldn't find a 16 oz. can, so I bought two 12 oz. bottles instead. We used all of one and part of the other. Interestingly, although both labeled "sweet and sour sauce," one was more orange (a duck sauce type) and the other more red (tomato based). I actually really liked the combination. You could also make your own sweet and sour sauce. Here's one recipe I found from a quick Google search - The Best Sweet and Sour Pork Meatballs. You'll have to decide yourself if it's really the best!

This is meant to be served as an appetizer, but I think it would taste just as good over rice. In fact, I decided to serve it with fried rice, and while both tasted fine by themselves, they were just as good mixed together.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Picnic Options

For some reason, coming up with picnic ideas is always a challenge for me, probably because I don't really care for the normal tuna or ham sandwiches. So, here are some of the things we've tried this year. They've all actually been quite delicious.

Beef, Cheddar and Chutney Sandwiches
The inspiration for these came from here. We had some shredded, cooked brisket and I was looking for a way to serve it cold. Mixed with some mayonnaise, mustard and mango chutney, it was something new and different, and we liked it.

Turkey Wraps
This is something we have fairly frequently, and they're quite simple to make and easily transportable. Place some turkey, chopped tomatoes, lettuce, possibly some cheese, drizzle with Ranch dressing and roll up. Then wrap in some plastic wrap until ready to eat.

Grilled Peaches
I imagine the better your peaches are to begin with, the better they'll taste after being grilled, but even though these weren't the best tasting peaches, we still enjoyed them and it was a great change from our normal picnic fare. Just brush cut peaches with a bit of oil, place on grill for 4-5 minutes, then fill center with a bit of cinnamon-sugar-butter. Yummy!

Maybe I should change the post title to Barbecue/Picnic options, because here's another grilled lunch that we enjoyed. We've had shrimp and vegie shish kebabs before, but this time we served them with grilled polenta. 

The polenta kind of fell apart, but it was still delicious. We tried it again at home using my new grill pan, and it still fell apart. It stuck to the ridges of the grill and was difficult to turn. 

Maybe it just needs a better spatula or more oil to prevent the sticking. (Here's the marinade we used on the shrimps and scallops.) Someday we'll have to try it again.

And here's the marinade I used on the pork chops and  mushrooms we grilled this weekend.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon steak seasoning

I thought I had some steak seasoning, but couldn't find it, so I used some poultry seasoning instead, along with a dash of red pepper flakes. This site has a recipe for do-it-yourself steak seasoning that we may try some time.

Alaskan Smoked Salmon

As a way to help us prepare and get more excited about our Alaskan cruise in a few months, we picked up some smoked salmon. Anyway, it's been fun discovering new recipes and experimenting with different ways to try it.

The traditional Bagels and Lox:

Added to scrambled eggs:

In a pasta dish: Saute a bit of onions, garlic, chopped tomatoes and spinach in olive oil. Stir in cream cheese, smoked salmon and cooked pasta. Garnish with Parmesan cheese when serving.

Smoked Salmon Pizza: Spread cream cheese on a pre-baked pizza crust. Top with garlic powder and smoked salmon. Bake for a few minutes, then top with chopped chives and capers before serving.

Smoked Salmon Dip: Combine 8 ounces cream cheese, 1/4 cup cream, 1 green onion, thinly sliced, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 dash Tabasco, 4 ounces smoked salmon, and 1 avocado, mashed. Serve with cucumber, celery or crackers.

The dip also made a great filling for an omelet.

To my recollection, this is the first time I've had smoked salmon, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. If anything, I thought it might be like jerky. However, it was quite moist and I liked it. Wayne even said it's the best he'd ever had. So, that's pretty good. For the record, the packaging was pretty deceptive. I figured the piece of fish inside would be as big as the package, but it was about half the size of the box. At least, next time I'll know what to expect!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bake Sale Cookoff Recipes

Time for another post showcasing recipes from the Old-Fashioned Bake Sale Cookbook. As usual, these are all quite delicious.

Oatmeal Brownie Gems

You can't go wrong with M&M's and brownie mix, and adding oatmeal gives the illusion that maybe these bars are a bit healthy!

Toffee Brownie Bars

As you can see, it takes about a year to make one recipe from each section, so in January we were back to brownies. This version is similar to our Four-Layer-Dessert with a crust topped with brownie topped with chocolate and nuts. You can find the recipe here.

Captivating Caterpillar Cupcakes

Remember, this is a bake sale cookbook, and there are going to be eye-catching recipes. This is one of them. Basically it's an ordinary cupcake, but decorated to look like a caterpillar crawling on the grass. Although it took a bit of patience during the decorating step, the most difficult part of this recipe was finding star-shaped nonpareil decors! 

Brownie Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Instead of jelly bean caterpillars, the next cupcake recipe used Reese's Pieces for decoration, and had a little peanut butter surprise inside to catch the buyers' attention! To make the filling, combine 1/3 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup cream cheese, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 egg. Form the mixture into 18 balls and place one in each of 18 foil baking cups. Then top with prepared brownie batter and the candies before baking.

There's the surprise filling!
Pumpkin Bread
11/22/14 - plain with cream cheese
7/18/15 - with nuts and preserves
3/19/16 - with raisins and cream cheese frosting
6/10/17 - with nuts and raisins and ice cream

This recipe comes with quite a few variations. We've been waiting a long time for the one topped with ice cream! However, when I make pumpkin bread in the future, I think I'll stick to my niece's recipe.

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

When I decided to make them for Father's Day this cookbook must have been where I recalled seeing a recipe for Cinnamon Roll Cookies. Although I used a different recipe than the one in this book, they're actually quite similar, and if we make them again we'll probably use the other one, because it adds a cream cheese frosting drizzle.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Dutch Oven Barbecued Meat

This is a recipe you won't soon forget if you ever try making it yourself. Make sure you're a meat lover before attempting to do so!

Start by seasoning 3 pounds of pork, 3 pounds of beef, and 3 pounds of chicken, then brown them in hot bacon grease or vegetable oil. After that stick the pot in the oven (300F) for 2 1/2 hours.

By then the meat should be cooked. Remove any bones (we skipped that step since we used boneless cuts) and cut or shred into bite-sized pieces. Then add 1/4 cup of liquid smoke and a quart of hickory-smoke-flavor barbecue sauce. Turn the oven down to 200F and bake for another hour.

Serve over rice with cornbread on the side. 

This makes a lot! We'll be eating leftovers for a while, but that's okay. We've decided that although the original recipe called for hickory smoke barbecue sauce, really any barbecue sauce would do. If we ever do this again, I'll try a different flavor. (We're still fans of KC Masterpiece original!)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Authentic Quiche Lorraine

For some reason I thought Quiche Lorraine was made with Swiss cheese, but last Christmas our son volunteered to make a real French dinner (they had spent the previous school year in France), and here's the recipe he used. We all loved it! (The ratatouille he served with it not so much, but it was still good.) Because my brain still had my old belief engrained in it, I looked up the recipe again as a way to use up Swiss cheese. It was actually okay with that, but I'll try to remember we can use Mozzarella cheese as well.

Quiche Lorraine

1 Pâte Brisée (pastry crust, see below)
1 c. cream
3 eggs
1/3 lb. bacon (diced and cooked)
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 c. (not packed) grated mozzarella cheese

Line pie pan with uncooked pastry crust. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk cream and eggs until smooth. Mix in pepper and bacon pieces. Stir in cheese last. Pour filling into crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes (top should turn golden brown). Serve warm.

Pâte Brisée

1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar (increase to 1 1/2 for sweet recipes)
1 stick cold butter (not margarine)
3-4 Tbsp. cold water

Mix flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in butter until the butter chunks are about pea-sized. Add water a little at a time, mixing just enough to make a dough. Roll out on floured surface. Place (or press, if too moist) into pie dish.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Colorful Kielbasa

Colorful Kielbasa

1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted
1-1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound smoked kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas
1 jar (4-1/2 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, combine the soup, water and butter; bring to a boil. Add kielbasa and rice. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 18 minutes or until rice is almost tender.
Stir in peas and mushrooms. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is tender and peas are heated through. Sprinkle with cheese; cover and let stand until melted. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Wayne said this would be a good recipe to use the canned ham in our food storage.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Cookie Fail

We still have some butterscotch chips that need to be used. (I guess I could just throw them out, but that would cause too much personal anguish.) A few months ago we tried Chewy Oatmeal Cookies, but I wanted something different. Since we prefer chocolate over oatmeal in cookies, Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies looked promising.

They actually turned out nicely, but the butterscotch flavor was still noticeable. I had the brilliant idea to switch the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips and try the recipe again. Instead of being a chocolate cookie with butterscotch tidbits, it would be a butterscotch cookie with chocolate tidbits. Doesn't that sound like a reasonable alternative?

It mixed up just the same, but as you can see, they definitely did not bake up the same!

We did eat these cookies, but we didn't share them as I had originally planned. Maybe I'll try it again with peanut butter chips instead of butterscotch. That would be better received in our house.

Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup butterscotch chips (or peanut butter chips?)

Sift together the flour and baking powder; set aside. Melt the butter and the chocolate chips together and stir until smooth; set aside. Crack the eggs in a large mixing bowl, add in the sugar and vanilla. With the electric mixer on medium speed, beat the mixture for 5-10 minutes, or until pale and creamy. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Fold in the melted chocolate followed by the butterscotch chips. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls, about 2 inches apart, and a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes in a 350F oven, or until dry and cracked.

Left: the beaten egg mixture
Right: cookies before baking

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Wayne likes Chicken Cordon Bleu, but sometimes that's just too much for a weeknight dinner. However, I did have chicken, ham and Swiss cheese that needed to be used before Sunday, and fortunately Google came to the rescue.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Saute chopped onions, chicken and ham in a bit of butter. Stir some flour into some chicken broth and add it along with a touch of cream to make a white sauce. Then stir in some Swiss cheese and rice and heat through. If desired, place in a casserole and top with bread crumbs and bake it, but I didn't desire to do that extra step.

Note that Wayne would still prefer the real thing, but I thought this was just fine as far as casseroles go!

Saturday, May 13, 2017


Elizabeth made bagels for breakfast when we visited them last month, and they were quite delicious, and inspired me to try making my own someday. We have some smoked salmon that I want to use, and while searching for ways to do that, the number one suggestion was with bagels and cream cheese. So, let's "kill two birds with one stone" and try making bagels to serve with smoked salmon!

Elizabeth used the recipe from her Bread Bible cookbook, and I found it here. The only problem is I don't have malt powder, and I don't want to go to the store. I read several other posts - including here and here and here - and decided that I'll try substituting honey. I've never had an authentic New York City bagel, so I'm sure I'll never know the difference. The other trick is to let them sit overnight in the refrigerator. There may be some more things to try, but that's what I'm focusing on today. We'll see how it works!

I liked the idea of he overnight rise, but I'm thinking I allowed too much time between removing it from the fridge in the morning and the boiling step, because they kind of fell. I need to try again and go right from the fridge to the pan to see if that makes a difference.
Homemade Bagels

for the dough:
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey (or malt syrup)
1 teaspoon dry yeast
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons gluten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

for the water bath:
2-3 quarts water
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon baking soda

Whisk together water, honey and yeast, and cover with a tea towel and leave until the surface is covered with froth.

Put the flour, gluten and salt into a bowl, add the yeast mixture and mix until it starts to come together, then turn on to a clean work surface (no need to flour), and work and knead the dough until smooth, bearing in mind it will be very stiff. Cover and leave in a warm place for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until about doubled in size.

Line a baking sheet with lightly greased baking parchment or use a silicone mat. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and punch the air out of it. Divide into 6 balls. To form the bagel, roll into a ball, stick your thumbs through the center to create a donut shape and work until the hole is a couple of inches in diameter. Place each bagel on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate between 18 and 24 hours, then remove from the fridge about half an hour before cooking.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add the honey and baking soda. Also preheat the oven to 425F. Add a couple of bagels to the boiling water (don't be tempted to overcrowd them). Boil for 30 seconds, then flip over and boil for another 30 seconds. Drain on the rack and repeat.

If desired, dunk each bagel into a seed topping, then put seed-side down on the baking trays. Bake for 7 minutes, then flip over and bake for another 7 minutes or until golden. Cool on the racks.

We tried an Asiago version at Jeff's request. They weren't as pretty as Elizabeth's but they still tasted great!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Roasted Red Pepper Spread

Elizabeth makes a yummy sandwich spread, and when she made it again on our last visit, I made sure to get the instructions. She combines 2 roasted red peppers, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, several garlic cloves and salt and pepper to taste in the food processor and mixes it all together. Then she makes sandwiches using the spread on Costco torta rolls with sliced chicken and spinach leaves. You can add cheese if desired as well. Delicious!

We first had it on the picnic lunch described here. What a great memory!