February 18, 2011

Taking a minute....

I apologize for not posting...we have had a tragic event in our community that involved the loss of a great young man, and a good friend to my daughter.  It didn't feel right to continue as usual.  I will resume this Sunday. 

February 6, 2011

Radish Sandwiches

My 'hip' 70's mother riding me around on the bike she grew up riding
at my Grandparents farm in Piqua, Kansas.  I love this photo.

Recently, I have been perusing the multitude of Mommy Blogs on the web.  It made me take a minute and ask myself how I ended up making a living in the art of cooking....
My mother will tell you she is not a great cook and she has no idea where I learned to cook.  
I might have thought that too without some deeper thought.  
I mean how can I forget the Lint Pork Chops? No, not Lent, Lint.  I guess she had tried a new recipe, but those chops were gray and looked as if they had been rolled in the lint fresh from the dryer.  It was very funny, one of the few times my dad was able to see the lighter side.
Despite the occasional dinner disaster, I find I have been influenced by her more and more. As a child, she somehow infused useful household tidbits into my spongy little brain, such as putting egg shells down the disposal to sharpen the blades.  Or praying to St. Anthony for any lost item.  (It actually works!)
My mom was a 70's mom.  The days of liberation.  Canned soup casseroles, frozen dinners, and Hamburger Helper.  An era telling women to get it in the oven and get out of the kitchen.  It was a competition to try the latest recipe on the back of the soup label.  Dinner time was a difficult marriage in the kitchen...old fashioned scratch cooking was betrothed to Women's Lib sprinkled with pepper.

My dad came from a  family of passionate yellers, loud laughers, and BIG eaters.  Fried chicken, fried okra, and fried potatoes were mainstays on the menu.  He was a very demanding man and when it came to cooking, his mom was a hard act to follow for his bride.  There wasn't enough grease in the world that would fill him up.  My mom, on the other hand, was raised in a quiet, simple, mild mannered family eating small meals made up of simple foods, small portions of meat, homemade bread, fresh or home canned veggies, either from their garden or another local farmer. 
Well, that recipe, 1 cup of Betty mixed with 1 large order of Barry, was a souffle waiting for the fall.  Eleven years later, she kindly asked him to take his appetite elsewhere. (I am happy to report that they are both happily RE-married to much better dinner partners.)
Anyway, my sweet momma might not have been cooking out of Julia Child's cookbook, but what she did phenomenally well was raise a garden right in the middle of suburbia. She grew tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, name it, she grew it.  She even made jelly from bitter crab apples that grew from the tree my brother and I spent our summers climbing.  Her simple upbringing out in the middle of Kansas brought about the best things in a meal; the freshest garden goodies we all long for!  
BLT's with fresh tangy tomatoes right out of our garden were the highlight of our summers.  To this day, she and I will eat homegrown tomatoes on a plate with salt and pepper until we have heartburn and canker sores.  She still has all the equipment for canning tomatoes, making jelly, & pickling cucumbers and she continues to make a little something every summer.  
You know that wonderful salad we pay $12 for with hot bacon dressing? She did that way back then.  Wilted Lettuce Salad.
The garden thing is a family thing.  My mom has four sisters that have all been blessed with the green genes as well.  All of us kids, the sons and daughters of the five, spent our summers feasting on fresh garden bounty produced by our industrious parents and grandparents.  One of our favorite summer treats was Radish Sandwiches.  Oh how I can almost taste it now...fresh baked white bread from Grandma's oven, smeared with oleo (the old name for margarine), layered with sliced red radishes fresh from the dirt, sprinkled with a little salt. There was never enough bread to go around! 
I remember fishing with my Grandpa and bringing back the catch of the day, cleaning and preparing them for our mothers and Grandma to make for dinner.  

Maybe my mother didn't teach me how to make a bechamel sauce, but she did teach me the best part of the meal, the sharing of it.

These simple yet rich and decadent memories embedded on my heart are the ones that I have found give me the inspiration to gather my family together to share love, laughter, and great food.

Thank you Mom for the gift of yourself and your talents and for the forever blessings of our family.
I love you.

Wilted Lettuce Salad

1-2 Fresh Heads of Leaf Lettuce from the garden if possible
3 slices of bacon crumbled reserving 2 Tbsp of the bacon grease
2 green onions chopped
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Wash & prep lettuce.  Tear into smaller pieces.  Sprinkle with sugar,bacon and green onions.
In the same pan the bacon was cooked, drain all but 2 Tbsp of the remaining grease.  Turn on medium heat
and add salt and vinegar.  Cook until it's sizzling and bubbly.  Remove from heat and pour over lettuce.
Serve immediately.  Olive oil can be substituted if bacon is not preferred.

February 1, 2011

Lies, Lies, Lies and Chicken Pot Pies!!

These are the best biscuits I ever made!
Okay, so I really am bad at blogging.  Well, I kind of have a good reason...Dell.  My computer has been acting up.  It just shuts off right in the middle of everything.  Extremely frustrating.  Anyway, I think we will promise to do this...Post the Frat Menu on Sunday Night along with a recipe or two.  Then, if possible, I will add recipes during the week. 

Here's the Menu

Lunch-Chop Chop Chicken Cobb Salad with Potato Soup
Dinner-Roasted Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Green Beans, Homemade Rolls
Lunch-Chicken Salad on Croissants, Fresh Fruit, Chips, Yogurt
Dinner-Brie & Brisket Quesadillas, Cucumber & Onion Salad
Lunch-Grilled Ham & Cheese, Tomato Soup
Formal Dinner-Chicken Marsala, Spinach & Berry Salad, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Garlic Bread
Lunch-Crepes with Fruit Compote, Sausage Links, Fresh Fruit Salad
Dinner-Meatball Subs, Corn, Green Salad
Lunch-Boneless Chicken Wings, Baked Fries, Fresh Veggies and Dip
Desserts-Double Chocolate Chip Cookies ~ Cream Cheese Brownies ~ Fresh Made Eclair

Last week we had some great food.  Chicken Pot Pie was a huge hit. 

We made this completely from scratch! This ain't no canned soup recipe!
 Frankly Friends, I am having a devil of time posting recipes! You know why?  Cuz I never use the darn things! This one is particularly hard since I wing it every time.  But here's my best effort...

The chicken ~ you can use any kind of chicken you want, but my favorite way to make this is by using fresh skinless chicken breast on the bone that has been cooked in a pressure cooker.  It cooks fast, retains lots of flavor and leaves you with a nice chicken broth.  The meat falls right off the bone.  Many folks prefer the dark meat, so use the whole chicken if you like.  It's much less expensive as well.

The biscuits ~ I used a recipe from Country Living that you will find below.  I recommend doubling it so you have enough for the topping as well as for some butter and honey! I also recommend making the biscuits first.  Only roll out 1/2 the dough and leave the rest for topping the pot pie. See if you can get someone else to make the biscuit dough while you work on the filling.  Don't forget to lower the oven temp down to 400 after baking the biscuits.

Classic Biscuit Recipe
The following recipe is the best recipe for biscuits I have ever made.  It is from Country Living Magazine


1/2 cup(s) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour (sifted twice before measuring)
1 tablespoon(s) baking powder
1 teaspoon(s) salt
1 cup(s) cold buttermilk
2 tablespoon(s) cold buttermilk
1 tablespoon(s) melted butter


  1. Heat oven to 475 degrees F. Cut butter into small cubes and freeze 15 minutes. Stir dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Cut in butter using either a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers until mixture resembles a coarse meal.
  3. Stir in buttermilk using a fork just until dough forms. Knead 3 to 4 turns on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- by 10-inch rectangle. Cut out biscuits using a 3-inch cutter (gathering scraps until all dough is used).
  4. Place 2 inches apart on a baking pan. Brush tops with melted butter.
  5. Bake on top shelf of oven 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The Filling
Oven 400
4 tbsp butter
1 large onion chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
5 carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch slices on the bias
1 cup mushrooms, sliced thin
4 cups shredded chicken
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cups skimmed broth, divided
1 16 oz bag mixed veggies or...
1 cup frozen corn or corn cut off the cobb
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup chopped frozen or fresh green beans (not canned!)
2 cups milk, or cream

Into a large saucepot, add butter, onion, celery, & carrots.  Cook until onions are soft.  Add mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are tender.  Add the chicken, cook for 1 minute, add the water and bay leaves. Let this simmer on low while you make the roux.
In a bowl, add the flour, poultry seasoning , salt and pepper.  Slowly pour about 1/4 -1/2 cup of the broth into flour while stirring with a whisk until it makes a thick paste or roux.  After the roux is formed, slowly add the remaining broth stirring until there are no lumps and it is liquid.  While stirring the chicken mixture, add the roux to the pan.
Now add the remaining veggies and milk or cream. Cover and cook on low until it thickens.
Pour filling into a buttered/sprayed baking dish.  Top the filling with 1 inch balls of biscuit dough with a small space in between.  When baking, since the filling is fully cooked, once the biscuit topping is brown, it's done.
Should be about 15 minutes.



We made this completely from scratch! This ain't no canned soup recipe!