Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Down Home Corn

This corn is so creamy and delicious.

3 cups frozen corn
4 TBS butter
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. cornstarch
1-2 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a large skillet or 2-quart saucepan over medium heat; stir until mixture just comes to a boil, making sure the cornstarch dissolves completely.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the mixture simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until it thickens 6-7 minutes longer.  If you want a creamier consistency, pulse several times with an immersion blender to break up some of the corn kernels. 

Serves 6

Source:  The Dinner Doctor - Anne Byrn


Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Crunch

Sweet Potatoes

2 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup light brown sugar)
8 TBS butter, melted
1/3 cup milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Pecan Crunch Topping

3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
3 TBS butter, melted

Peel and quarter the sweet potatoes.  Place them in a saucepan, add cold water to cover and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat, cover the pan, and let simmer until the potatoes are tender, 20-25 minutes.  Drain the potatoes, then mash them with a potato masher.

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish with vegetable spray.

Place the mashed sweet potatoes, sugar, 8 tablespoons of melted butter, milk, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until just combined, about 2 minutes.  Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top with a spoon or spatula.

Make the pecan crunch topping:  Place the pecans, brown sugar, flour and 3 tablespoons of melted butter in a small bowl and stir with a fork to combine.  Scatter the pecan mixture evenly over the top of the sweet potatoes.

Bake the sweet potatoes until the pecan topping begins to brown and the potatoes are bubbly, 25-30 minutes.

Serves 8

Source:  What Can I Bring?  Cookbook - Anne Byrn


Mashed Potatoes

You can make these potatoes the day before and refrigerate them until you are ready to put them in the oven.  

8-10 large potatoes (4 cups mashed)
1 cup sour cream
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
2-3 TBS milk
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender.  Drain potatoes and return to hot pot.  Mash with a potato masher. 

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, sour cream, cream cheese and garlic powder.  Transfer to a greased 2 quart casserole dish.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 50-60 minutes.

Servings:  10-12


Thursday, December 22, 2011


I received this recipe from a family that owned a Greek restaurant in town.  It has become a Christmas family tradition.  Don't let this intimidate you.  It is really not that difficult. 

1 lb. filo pastry sheets (40 sheets) - thaw according to package directions
1 lb. butter, melted (4 sticks)

3 cups ground walnuts and 1 cup chopped walnuts, mixed together
2 TBS sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

3 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 slice of lemon (I use 1 tsp lemon juice)
1 stick cinnamon (I use 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon)

1 cup honey

Make the syrup first so it has time to cool.  Bring sugar, water, lemon and cinnamon to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the honey and bring to a boil again.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Put a drop on your thumbnail, if it doesn't roll off easily, it is done.  Cool.

Mix the walnuts, sugar and cinnamon together.   Divide the nut/sugar mixture into 9 piles on your work surface. 

Melt the butter.  Brush the bottom of a 9x13 pan with melted butter.  Line the bottom of the pan with a sheet of filo.  Brush with butter.  Add 3 more sheets, brush each sheet with butter.  Once you have 4 buttered sheets in the bottom of your pan, sprinkle nuts over the top.  Cover with 4 more filo sheets (butter each sheet).  Sprinkle with nuts.  Continue with 4 buttered sheets and a sprinkling of nuts until all are used up except the last 4 sheets.   Now, top with the last 4 sheets, brushing each with melted butter as before except for the top sheet. You don't want to butter the top sheet because your knife will stick to it making it difficult to cut.  

(See diagram below).  Cut lengthwise to make 1 1/2" wide strips.  Then make diagonal cuts 2 inches apart.  After cutting, now carefully brush the very top filo sheet with melted butter.   If you have any remaining butter left over, pour over the top.  (I don't usually have any leftover because I butter each sheet generously). 

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until deep golden brown.

When golden brown, remove from the oven.  Immediately, pour the cool syrup over the top until all the syrup is absorbed.   Let cool and cut through again to allow the syrup to be absorbed.

I think this tastes best if you let this sit for at least 24 hours and serve at room temperature.

** Remember:  9 piles of nuts - Use 4 sheets of dough for each layer.  Butter the top layer after it has been cut.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies

These cute Gingerbread boys are sure to liven up any Christmas cookie platter. 

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup dark (full bodied) molasses
2 TBS vinegar
5 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves

Cream butter; add sugar gradually.  Beat in egg, molasses and vinegar.  Combine the dry ingredients and blend in.  Separate into 3 flattened discs of dough, wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator.  Chill several hours or over night.  Roll 1/8-1/4" thick on powder sugared surface*; cut into desired shapes.  Place on greased cookie sheet (or parchment lined sheet...then you don't have to grease). 

Bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes, depending on size and thickness of cookie.  Make sure you don't over bake them.  I prefer these cookies a little thicker and softer, rather than thin and hard. 

Makes about 4 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cookie cutter used.

Royal Icing:
2 egg whites
2 cups powdered sugar

Beat egg whites and gradually add powdered sugar.  Beat til soft peak forms.  This may take about 10 minutes or so at high speed.  Place icing into pastry bag with a small tip. 

* When rolling and cutting out cookies, my Mom would always use powdered sugar instead of flour to dust the rolling pin and counter.  This way the cookies don't get tough and dry because of the additional flour.  They get sweeter from the sugar.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wrapped Chicken

This is very good served with mashed potatoes or rice and green beans.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts - sliced into 1/4" thickness (cut to make 8 pieces) 
(Or purchase the chicken already thinly sliced)
16 pieces dried beef
8 pieces of bacon

8 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 cups cream
2 can cream of chicken soup

Place 2 pieces of dried beef on top of a thin piece of chicken.  Roll up chicken.  Roll bacon tightly around chicken.

Place a little bit of soup in bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Arrange chicken rolls in pan.  Mix sauce ingredients together and pour over chicken.

Bake covered in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake another 35 minutes or until done.


Potato Fans

When you want something other than a simple baked potato, this recipe does the trick.

4 medium potatoes, peeled
2 TBS butter, melted
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 TBS Parmesan cheese
2 TBS breadcrumbs

Set potato on a large spoon and slice potato into 1/8" slices (do not slice all the way through).  Place potatoes into a bowl of cold water.  Meanwhile, mix paprika, salt, pepper, cheese and breadcrumbs together.  Set aside.  Drain potatoes and place in a greased 9" pan.  Brush with melted butter and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.  Sprinkle potatoes with seasoning mixture.  Bake another 20 minutes or until done.

* If you are short on time, instead of baking the potatoes the entire time in the oven, microwave them until almost done, sprinkle with seasonings and then place in the oven until browned.


Gingerbread Cake

A delicious fall dessert.  This is an absolute favorite at our house.

2 1/2 cups flour
1 TBS instant coffee
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 cup molasses
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 inch square pan.  Sift together the flour, coffee powder, spices, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  Cream butter and brown sugar with mixer until light and fluffy.  Add egg one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add molasses and beat about 2 minutes, scraping bowl often.  With mixer on lowest speed, add sifted dry ingredients in thirds alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Scrape sides of bowl frequently and do not overbeat.  Pour into baking pan and bake until gingerbread tests done with a toothpick, about 50-55 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  Top with applesauce, lemon sauce (recipe below), canned lemon pie filling, caramel, whipped cream or other favorite topping.  I like mine warm with a little butter.  Mmmmm...

Lemon Sauce:
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup cold water
2 TBS lemon juice
4 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp shredded lemon peel
yellow food coloring

Combine sugar, cornstarch and cold water.  Cook and stir until thick and bubbly.  Cook 2 minutes more.  Stir in shredded lemon peel, lemon juice and a few drops of yellow food color.

Source:  More Family Favorites - Mary Beth Roe (QVC)


Monday, December 5, 2011

Chickpea, Ham and Swiss Chard Soup

A satisfying good-for-you soup that warms the tummy on a cold winter day.  Serve with a crusty bread drizzled with olive oil. 

3 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large carrot, diced
1 (6-ounce) piece smoked ham steak, diced into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 small bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and sliced into thin ribbons
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
2 (16-ounce) can chickpeas or (black-eyed peas), drained & rinsed-mash some if desired
1 (15-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1 lb mushrooms, cut in large chunks (optional, this is my addition to the recipe)
Grated Parmesan, for garnish

Add the bacon to a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. Fry until crisp, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve. To the same Dutch oven, add the onion, garlic, and carrot, and sauté until the vegetables are tender, roughly 4 minutes. Add the ham steak and red pepper flakes and adjust the seasonings with salt and black pepper, to taste. Add the Swiss chard and sauté until it begins to soften.
Stir in the chicken broth, chickpeas or black-eyed peas, and the canned tomatoes with their juices. Cover pot and bring the soup to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for 30 minutes; adding the mushrooms the last 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if necessary. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese and bacon.

Source:  Modified from Pat and Gina Neely - TV Food Network