So I was craving...
It's been delightfully nice, moderate weather - I mean, in my neck of the woods we should have had at least ONE snowfall by now, but even a couple days ago all I needed was a sweatshirt? When the wind finally kicked up I needed some winter style comfort food! Chicken Pot Pie was at the top of my list.
Don't ask me why – I haven't made it in years. A whole bunch of Googling and I found two recipes that if put together would make me happy. So that's what I did. I really liked all of the Veggies in this one from Taste of Home. But I also liked the more classic style from Ree Drummond (the Pioneer Woman). Basically, I used the method of Ree's with the ingredients from Taste of Home – I used Pioneer Woman's pie crust recipe (no commercial pie dough in THIS household, unless it's an emergency wink ) AND her choice of heavy cream in the filling...
I'll tell you right now that I made a MAJOR GOOF! WHEN you make this (or any other version), make your pie crust dough FIRST? I was so excited to get started poaching my chicken et al that it didn't occur to me that my kitchen would be too hot to make a proper pie dough. And trust me – with a stick of butter to each cup of flour, you do NOT want your kitchen too hot! I had to wait an extra day for my lusciousness!!!! Well worth the wait!!! Check out how even when I cheated and used a food processor to combine the butter with the flour, it is remarkably marbled cheesey
[This photo is darkened a LOT as it is still raw dough - but I wanted you to see all those bits of butter? THAT'S what makes a perfect crust (the blackish spots are the flecks of thyme used in Ree's recipe]
Nitty Gritty: I poached a whole chicken, and after I moved it to a bowl and waited for it to cool a touch, I boiled the diced potato and sliced carrot in the broth. Scooped those out, and after shredding the chicken from the bones threw the bones back into the stock to simmer a bit. Measured out the stock, and yes, I reluctantly added a bouillon cube to enhance the flavor – normally I would have added a bunch of veggies, but, well... Then in the same pot, the onion and celery are sauteed in the butter that was called for, and well, just a dab of bacon grease? Hey – you can make it as healthy as you want. Me, I was looking for “comfort food”! Here's after the flour and seasonings have been added and cooked together a bit -and as the stock gets slowly added back...
Everything else pretty much gets dumped in.
[You caught me - YES, I added some crumbled, cooked bacon!]
Stir it all together, add the cream...
It thickens quite nicely, especially after it cools.
Okay - my one real complaint? Neither recipe called for mushrooms, and that is quite a shame. I admit I didn't think about shrooms until it was too late in the process? SO - in the search for the umami of my choice, I generously added some Worcestershire sauce, which made my palate very happy.
I made one 10 inch deep dish pie, and a smaller one that I wrapped well and froze. Both recipes offer guidelines for baking in the future... Good food, delectably tender crust - and another meal ready for the next round! And folks - it's really NOT that complicated wink

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 17 November 2015 - 20:02:08
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Did I mention it has bacon?
Actually, the classic recipe calls for guanciale, which is pancetta made from a different cut of meat – or for us “Mericans”, unsmoked bacon. Of course there are differences between the three, but for the purposes of this recipe I'd suggest letting your budget be your guide (and regular smoked bacon would be okay, too). There are other flavors involved and honestly, the differences won't really show... So this is hearty and satisfying with a kick of heat, AND it can be done in about 30 minutes?!? YEP!!! So you'll be trying Amatriciana soon, right? This is a somewhat rustic, quick cooking (fresh) sauce flavored by “bacon”, onions and garlic, tomatoes and basil... The source of heat is what seemed to be a minuscule amount of black pepper and red pepper flakes, but they did their job nicely! Crisp the meat, toast the seasoning, saute the onion and garlic (all in one pan)... Add the hand crushed tomatoes (I used a pair of kitchen scissors to coarsely “chop” while in the can)... This first picture is right after I added the tomatoes, straight from the can...
While that simmers for a whopping 20 minutes, start the water for your pasta. Bucatini is the classic choice, but whatever you've got would be okay. I specifically purchased bucatini, simply because it's fun! It looks like slender spaghetti, but it's hollow in the center and plumps up nicely. Slurping is optional wink. And it cooks fairly fast - the brand I used recommended seven minutes, and I pulled it in five (after tasting) to finish its cooking in the sauce.
(after only 20 minutes)
Even with that little bit of cooking see how rich the sauce looks once you stir in the Romano?
Use a little pasta water to loosen it up, then drop in your drained pasta and toss until it is all well coated, adding more pasta water if needed (I HATE those photos with a little sauce on a mound of pasta – make it ALL flavorful)!
I really, REALLY enjoyed this, and it's perfect for a weeknight meal. Cut back on the pepper if you must, but for a quick meal, this is quite excellent!

Posted by Linda :
Monday 02 November 2015 - 22:39:09
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THIS is a keeper!
There are a lot of times that I cook for family and/or friends, and once in a while for a crowd - but most of the time it's me, myself and I. As much as I've enjoyed some choices, by the third or fourth serving I can get a little bored? Well, with THIS one I enjoyed the first batch so much, I'm making another next week! Fresh pasta, a quick sauce, spinach and ricotta – what's not to like? This recipe is delightful! The author talks about rotolo (which honestly, I'd never heard of) and “cannelloni on steroids”, but I liken this to a mini manicotti. Whatever you want to call it, all kinds of fresh flavors are combined – and it's easy!!!
Well, it's best if you can make your own pasta. I used this recipe as a guideline - but while I've used the well and fork technique, this time I simply pulsed it in the food processor. It works!l! Now, I DO have a pasta machine that hadn't been used in a while – so I wasted a bit of dough (I knew I'd still have plenty) rolling it back and forth through all the settings to remove any dust or such that might have accumulated. Always a good idea! If you haven't tried rolling your own pasta (it CAN be done with a rolling pin and patience), you really should – it's slow going at first, but all of a sudden you have something that YOU somehow, amazingly, MADE YOURSELF! And it tastes SO GOOD!!!!!
Oh, and if you don't have a pasta machine or don't feel like rolling, there are lots of places you can buy fresh lasagna sheets (for real, ask your favorite pizza plus place if your grocer doesn't have them) – but I had fun in this part wink If THAT doesn't work for you, boil dried lasagna noodles JUST long enough to be able to roll them? So you cook the sauce – MAYBE 20 minutes total from chopping onions to finished product...
You blend the ingredients for the filling – honestly, the hardest part is wringing the water out of the spinach...
I trimmed my pasta sheets to about 4+” x 6+” - there's no need to be precise, just consistent?
Place a mound of the filling on your pasta, spread it evenly, roll and seal the end with a dab of water. Wait a minute or two for the seal to bind, then cut into thirds. Please use a very sharp knife and hold carefully so that you don't MUSH your mini pasta rolls!
You'll ADORE how they look standing up in that beautiful sauce!
Ooops! The recipe tells you but I didn't – save a bit of sauce to drizzle over your “rolls”? I added just a splash of wine to thin it out a bit, but that's totally up to you wink Bake, add cheese, bake some more. AWESOME!!!
I opted for a 9” pie plate and it worked really well. I don't think I had my oven quite hot enough – I didn't get that “money shot” of the cheese being all ooey gooey?!? But trust me?
This is absolutely delicious!!! If it was TEN times more complicated I'd still make it again – but how wonderful that this can be done on a week night?!? ENJOY <3

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 20 October 2015 - 22:12:47
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I had to ask a friend about this...
See, all the recipes I'd ever seen for kugel were sweet, and this recipe for Spring Zucchini Kugel was savory. To further confuse me, why “spring”, as zucchini isn't plentiful until late summer, at least around here... My question to Stacey was “is this actually a kugel, or just a recipe using 'noodles' and matzo meal?” “This kugel is a savory one. Mom used to make both, mostly sweet. Mike's mom would make savory.“ I still didn't have an answer about the time of year, but I proceeded . First off, you need a lot more zucchini than you think! I had five small ones, so I figured I had half a batch. Sauteed, drained and squeezed dry, I had a mound about the size of a baseball. I used an 8'x8' glass pan, and you'll see I could have used more... After you make all your strips (I used the 'as seen on TV' Veggetti ), you saute them for a bit.
While the zucchini is draining and cooling – you want to wait a bit so you can give a good squeeze (or dozen) to remove as much moisture as possible, mix your eggs and matzo, zest and herbs (I used dried, and it worked just great). Eventually add your “noodles”.
Spread in a heated, oiled pan, smooth the top and bake. Be prepared, it shrinks a bit more!
This was great warm, and even cooled – I grabbed a piece for a quick breakfast the next day? Hey, it's got eggs wink
But see how thin it is? I used the measurements for a half batch and it was actually over-seasoned, but not in a bad way. Extremely flavorful! Mint and basil are an amazing pairing once you get over your fears, lol. Use up all that zucchini and enjoy a great side dish as well!

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 13 October 2015 - 19:01:48
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What a Deal! And an enjoyable meal (or two)
My neighbor Laura is a shopper – seriously, if there's a deal to be found, she knows about it! This past week she found chicken drumsticks at $.39 per pound. But, uh, they came fresh and loose in a FORTY pound container? Laura bought TWO, and several of us received the benefit in the form of ten pound bags. And these legs are HUGE (about a pound each?)! I had no idea what I was going to do with them, my freezer didn't have enough room for the whole gang... I'd love to grill them, but that's way too many to do at one time for little ol' me... So I found a compromise.
I really liked the concept behind this recipe for Spicy Orange Chicken - good flavors, pretty much everything on hand, and here was my idea: instead of fully cooking them in the Crockpot, I cooked them almost 3 of the 4 hours, froze half, and finished the rest on the grill cheesey
The orange/garlic/honey/sriracha sauce is delightful!!! Here it is just as it started to simmer... Cooked until it was thick enough to use as a baste, you don't want to skip this step!
Be extremely careful if you follow my route and grill – there's enough sugar in this sauce to burn to a crisp in merely seconds if exposed directly to the flame. I loved their picture of the finished product, so I stir fried some pepper and onion strips. Rice would be a great accompaniment, but I didn't need the carbs tonight, lol.
Moist, tender, flavorful – and just enough heat to keep it interesting wink [Note: as I had so many legs, I used some of the meat to make sandwiches for lunch - a little mayo, lettuce, toasted bread... and this sweet and spicy meat was definitely a star!]

Posted by Linda :
Thursday 01 October 2015 - 13:48:06
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Calling all Harry Potter fans
My niece Ris is in her junior year of college and shall be spending this next semester studying in Spain! I wanted to send her off with something silly, yet unique and maybe even thoughtful? I think I found just the thing when I stumbled upon a collection of recipes based on the Harry Potter series wink Now, I've admitted my lack of J.K knowledge in the past, and while it hasn't improved at all, who could resist Chocolate Frogsquestion? Step One: I bought the detailed molds she mentioned from Amazon; and Step Two: I MADE a batch! I liked the idea of the pretzels for crunch, so that's how I started.
They floated, but if I had waited, my molds would have overflowed. After about 10 minutes at room temp, I used a chopstick to push them down – a couple times – before I put them in the fridge.
Using this mold with the addition of pretzel bites, a single batch made enough for three+ trays, or over two dozen frogs!
I had some 3x5 plastic bags, so a frog went into each, packed into a simple container... And of course she gets the molds, recipe, a couple boxes of gelatin and one of Dark cocoa (I used “regular” cocoa for my batch) – I truly hope she can find sugar, milk and vanilla, or my baking gal is gonna be lost, lol! Bon Voyage – oops! Tenga un buen viaje!!! Love you, Lady <3 ps unless I messed up my conversions, personally I would add a bit/bunch more sugar. the pretzels add texture but do NOT crunch frown your call, as always...

Posted by Linda :
Monday 07 September 2015 - 19:08:48
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Too much BACON?!?
Yes, I know, it's shameless. But the fact is, I had about a half pound of bacon that needed to be used pretty soon, and since it had already been frozen I preferred not to freeze it again. Oddly enough, in the peak of summer I didn't have any tomatoes – the local crop didn't fair very well this year. So much for BLTs... My next thought was a standard: Carbonara! In case you don't know, this is a quick and delicious pasta dish - cook some chopped bacon (or better yet, pancetta) while you heat your pasta water, whisk some eggs, cheese and seasonings together, cook the pasta and marry them all together - seriously, maybe 30 minutes effort. This one has been a “go to” recipe for years, but see, I didn't have any mushrooms, or milk, or parsley? Heck, I didn't even have linguine or fettuccine, but I knew spaghetti would work just fine smile And I DID have a package of chopped spinach... Spinach and bacon are a great pairing, so I Googled. The one I liked the best was from Clair Robinson on the Food Network. Again, I didn't have fettuccine, let alone SPINACH fettuccine, but her technique relied more on the flavoring of the bacon fat than others and that suited me just fine! Thirty minutes later I was dining.
Perhaps a little heavy for this heat wave we've been having – but I discovered something! This version of Carbonara was actually quite good fresh from the fridge! So for the majority of my meals I enjoyed a bacon flavored pasta salad with spinach – not bad for an improv, huh cheesey

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 05 September 2015 - 22:29:23
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Easy? Yes, but...
Prepared in five (count 'em – FIVE) minutes, and ready in about six hours, while you patiently wait. That's right folks, another batch of popsicles! The flavor du jour is White Russian (grownups only, please) wink Instant, sugar-free pudding mix, some milk, a cup of booze... yep, it seems that easy. I used full fat milk unlike the fat-free suggested, and I meant to throw in a dash of cream – I would have used half n half if I had planned ahead. I'm not going to eat a bunch of these in one sitting, and it's my belief that if you are going to make something, make it the best way you can. I haven't found a practical substitution to the instant pudding, but I'll let you know when I do.
But wait... Twenty-four hours later and they still hadn't frozen – I suspect that was because I used the 100 proof vodka that I had in the house (the recipe didn't state what proof to use). So I tasted, let them thaw in the fridge, and here's what I did to fix: I dumped it all back into a big bowl, added 4 ounces of strong coffee and 4 ounces of the cream I had intended in the first place. I needed to dilute the alcohol, but wanted to keep, even accentuate the coffee flavor – the vodka level was just fine, lol. Make sure you stir well to avoid any icy bites. MUCH better!!! Actually, I liked it a little better than before? I had extra which I froze in a paper cup, and I didn't have to worry about the little I lost in emptying the molds...
As the recipe for the Black Russian variety is exactly the same except that it uses chocolate pudding (which isn't very authentic), my next batch I might use a less potent vodka and I'll fill the molds halfway with the white/vanilla style, freeze, and then add a layer of the black/chocolate! But for now, we have creamy, slightly boozy... Now wait a sec! I remembered I'd bookmarked a page that included a recipe for ”magic shell”...
And my work here is done wink

Posted by Linda :
Thursday 06 August 2015 - 17:55:52
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My favorite foods... TOGETHER
I was very impressed with this recipe for Potato Bacon Cheddar Tart. Like the guy in the video says, the hardest part was the layout of the bottom.
My bacon was wider than his and it was a little difficult to keep it in a circular pattern while not overlapping it too much, but it wasn't too difficult and the bottom came out great. I think the key is to just remember nobody is going to see the bottom and to have a nice even layer.
I added diced onions to mine and I really liked that addition. I cut my potatoes as thinly as in the video, but I still had a few firm potatoes, The next time I make this dish, I would cook it for 3 hours rather than the 2 1/2.
I greased the lid and it's a good thing I did, because the bacon did start to stick a little, so whatever someone uses to weight it down, I would recommend greasing.
The flavor was amazing and worth the effort. The dish fed six people easily and we still had leftovers. I enjoyed this recipe and it was a hit with the family. I will be making it again in the near future.
[Submitted by Francis Farmer]

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 29 July 2015 - 03:13:33
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Ok, THIS recipe made me buy Popsicle molds
Over the years I've seen lots of recipes for popsicles. Some seemed interesting, so I tried them the way my Grandma made frozen treats – with an ice cube tray! I fondly remember a blend of orange and pineapple juice that was served in cubes and held with toothpicks (two per cube, as I recall). Those I made, and enjoyed. There was another from my youth – pudding made with either twice the milk or half the milk. Neither version brought back satisfactory memories. Some I found online turned out more like slushies, some froze so hard they simply wouldn't break apart and were oddly flavored ice, and then the creamy ones were SO delicious – but they wouldn't freeze into a solid form. I was about to give up, but then... Key Lime Pie POPSICLESquestion? Not only did it SOUND delicious, the recipe used a balance of water based ingredients (lime juice) with enough creamy stuff (I'll let you read the recipe) that it just MIGHT freeze and still be eatable? I bought some molds, and as they say, the rest is history, lol! Zest and juice some limes and blend with the rest of the ingredients – it definitely doesn't look like water, yet it's more fluid than some that included whipping in the process. I didn't have quite enough juice from my limes, so I rounded up with lemon juice - I liked the slight tartness.
These are the molds I chose – there are LOTS of types out there! I liked these as the end result could be portable – I could make several batches, and not risk losing any necessary parts.
Yes! The finished lime popsicles are coated with graham cracker crumbs! Just like what the pie crust is made of!!!!! See?
Some parts of preparing food require science. Baking is definitely one, and after my experience I'd suggest that freezing may be as well. Now that I know the balance between water and fat, as I've found that to be critical in this process, I'll be sharing more frozen summer(?) treats. Yes – you definitely need to make some room in your freezer!

Posted by Linda :
Thursday 09 July 2015 - 02:32:53
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