Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gift Ideas

This year I am working in more of my gifts reflecting us and our values. One way I have found to do that is by making homemade foods/ mixes for friends and family. I work hard to make sure we eat most of our meals around the table together. I try to use whole ingredients, etc. Here are some recipes that I have tried and will be giving. One way you can prepare them is in a quart mason jar, but they way I have decided to prepare them is in a quart Ziploc bag. Then, I am putting each bag in a Christmas lunch sack with the recipe inside. Tie it off with a tag and you have a cute presentation. I will post a picture later.

Alphabet Country Soup Mix in a Jar
(one bag of beans will make 4 batches)

1/2 cup split green peas
1/2 cup barley
1/2 cup lentils
1/2 cup raw rice
2 tbsp. parsley
2 tbsp. onion flakes
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
2 tbsp. beef bouillon
1/4 cup alphabet noodles
Twist macaroni noodles

Layer peas, barley, lentils, and rice in 1 quart jar, pressing down after each layer. Then layer parsley, onion flakes, salt, lemon pepper and beef bouillon just around the edges, then also putting the alphabet noodles just around the edges of the jar (so the alphabet noodles can be seen by the gift receiver. Then fill the rest of the jar with macaroni, being sure to press down as much as possible.

Instructions for tag:
Empty contents of jar into a large pot, then add:
3 quarts water
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 cup shredded cabbage
2 cups of tomatoes
Simmer until vegetables are tender.

Potato Soup Mix in a Jar

Ingredients for Jar:
1 3/4 cups instant mashed potatoes
1 1/2 cups dry milk
2 tbsp instant chicken boullion
2 tsp dried minced onion
1 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp tumeric

Combine in bowl and add to quart jar, sealing tightly.

For Potato Soup place 1/2 cup of Potato soup mix in bowl, then add 1 cup of boiling water. Stir or whisk until smooth. Serve immediately.
Hearty Bean Soup Mix in a Jar
(each batch makes 8 bags of soup mix)
1 pound dried navy beans
1 pound dried pinto beans
1 pound dried Great Northern beans
1 pound split peas
1 pound yellow split peas
1 pound dried black-eyed peas
1 pound lentils
1 pound pearl barley
1 pound dried red beans

In a very large container, combine navy beans, pinto beans, great Northern beans, split peas, yellow split peas, black-eyed peas, lentils, barley and red beans; mix well.

Divide evenly into 8 jars, pressing down on mix and secure lid.

Attach recipe to jars for gift giving.

Hearty Bean Soup Mix:
2 quarts water
1 ham hock
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced

Soak 2 cups Hearty Bean Soup Mix in enough water to cover, for 8 hours or overnight.
In a large soup or stock pot, bring 2 quarts water and ham hock to a boil. Reduce heat then simmer for 20 minutes. Remove ham hock. Add soaked beans, salt, pepper, diced tomatoes and green chiles, onion and garlic. Bring to a boil again, skimming foam off the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer hearty bean soup for about 1 hour, until beans are tender.

Red Beans and Rice Mix

1 T. dried bell pepper flakes
1 T. dried minced onion
1/2 t. dried minced garlic
2 t. seasoned salt
1 bay leaf
1 t. sugar
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. celery seed
1 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. crushed red pepper

Red Beans and Rice Mix
2 C. dried red beans
1 C. uncooked long grain white rice

In a small bowl, combine seasoning ingredients. Place in a small, sealable plastic bag or container. Fill a pint canning jar with red beans. Fill a sealable plastic bag with rice.

Recipe to attach:
Red Beans and Rice Mix
2 C. red beans (included)
1 ham bone
Seasoning mixture (included)
1 C. uncooked rice (included)
2 C. water
1 t. salt
1 pound spicy smoked sausage, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash beans. Place in a Dutch oven; cover with water and soak overnight. The following day, add ham bone and seasoning mixture. If necessary, add additional water to cover the beans. Cook, partially covered, over medium-low heat 3 to 4 hours.

Barefoot Contessa's Roasted Turkey Roulade

Every year we fry a turkey for Thanksgiving, and then we bake a turkey breast. A couple of weeks ago, I was watching the Barefoot Contessa's show and I saw her make this recipe. It was a recipe that I knew I had to try as as soon as I saw it! It was heavenly. It was also very easy. You could easily make the dressing without stuffing the turkey breast. This is a recipe that I will be doing again.

3/4 cup large-diced dried figs, stems removed
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup Calvados or brandy
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups diced onions (2 onions)
1 cup (1/2-inch-diced) celery (3 stalks)
3/4 pound pork sausage, casings removed (sweet and hot mixed)
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
3 cups Pepperidge Farm herb-seasoned stuffing mix
1-1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 extra-large egg, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 whole (2 halves) turkey breast, boned and butterflied (5 pounds)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Place the dried figs and cranberries in a small saucepan and pour in the Calvados and 1/2 cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage, crumbling it into small bits with a fork, and sauté, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, until cooked and browned. Add the figs and cranberries with the liquid, the chopped rosemary, and pine nuts, and cook for 2 more minutes. Scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon.

Place the stuffing mix in a large bowl. Add the sausage mixture, chicken stock, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir well. (The stuffing may be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator overnight.)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place a baking rack on a sheet pan.

Lay the butterflied turkey breast skin side down on a cutting board. Sprinkle the meat with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Spread the stuffing in a 1/2-inch-thick layer over the meat, leaving a half-inch border on all sides. Don’t mound the stuffing or the turkey will be difficult to roll. (Place the leftover stuffing in a buttered gratin dish and bake for the last 45 minutes of roasting alongside the turkey.) Starting at one end, roll the turkey like a jelly roll and tuck in any stuffing that tries to escape on the sides. Tie the roast firmly with kitchen twine every 2 inches to make a compact cylinder.

Place the stuffed turkey breast seam side down on the rack on the sheet pan. Brush with the melted butter, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and roast for 1-3/4 to 2 hours, until a thermometer reads 150 degrees in the center. (I test in a few places.) Cover the turkey with aluminum foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Carve 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve warm with the extra stuffing.

Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

This was my Thanksgiving sweet potato side this year. The taste of the roasted potatoes gave a nice contrast to the other sides more traditional to Thanksgiving. It would be a great side dish to pork tenderloin or grilled chicken.

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, toss together sweet potatoes, parsnips, bay leaf, oil and salt and pepper and then transfer to a large roasting pan. Roast, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown, about 1 hour; discard bay leaf. Meanwhile, whisk together juice, honey and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced and thickened, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in pecans and set aside.

Transfer vegetables to a platter, drizzle honey-pecan mixture over the top, garnish with parsley and serve. Add salt as needed.

Spicy Chicken Tomato Soup

At work a couple weeks ago, the operators asked me to eat some soup that they had made. In fact I tried to come home and duplicate it. It's not quite the same, but it's a good start. Here's the basis that I used, but this is one you can very creative with.

Serves 8.

  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) Chicken Broth
  • 3 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 2 cups (or more) assorted vegetables (I used frozen green beans, frozen corn, fresh carrots, fresh potatoes)
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) tomato puree
  • 1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes and green chilies
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Directions
  • In a 5-qt. slow cooker, combine the first 13 ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. (I had to cook longer to get the carrots and potatoes soft enough)

Sliced Barbecue Pork Tenderloin

I also made BBQ Pork Tenderloin for the Ark/LSU football game. This was very easy and the flavor was good. I had buns out so that people could make sandwiches, but everyone just ate the meat alone. You could do either.

This is a recipe to serve 4, I doubled it.

BBQ Sauce--

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, (optional)

  • Whisk together all ingredients.

    Pork Tenderloin--
  • BBQ Sauce (recipe above)
  • 2 pork tenderloins, 12 to 16 ounces each
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

  • Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Divide Quick BBQ Sauce between two bowls. Use one for basting the raw meat; reserve the other for serving with sandwiches.
  • Place pork on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Brush generously with sauce. Roast, basting occasionally with sauce, until an instant-read thermometer registers 150 degrees, 18 to 25 minutes.
  • Thinly slice pork; serve on rolls, accompanied reserved sauce.
  • Oven Baked Beans

    • I made these for a get together we had over the weekend for the Arkansas vs LSU football game. I got lots of compliments on the flavor of these. I will definitely be making these again!

    Serves 8

    • 8 bacon strips, diced
    • 1/2 large onion, chopped
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup ketchup
    • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 teaspoons prepared mustard
    • 4 (15 ounce) cans pork and beans (I used Bush's Original)

    1. In a skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels to drain. Saute onion in drippings until tender; drain. Stir in the brown sugar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and mustard until blended. Stir in pork and beans; heat through.
    2. Transfer to a greased 3-cup baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly and mixture reaches desired thickness.

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    THANKSGIVING !?!?!?!

    Well, I can't believe it! Two weeks from today we celebrate Thanksgiving. We will celebrate twice this year. Once with Clay's family, and then with my family on Saturday. I haven't decided what to serve at the meal for my family, or what to make for Clay's family's Thanksgiving. so, I have a question for everyone? What must you have at the thanksgiving table. For me, turkey and dressing are a must! However, after that I am okay with switching things up. What will you be serving this year?

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Mexican Pizzas

    8 (6 inch) Flour Tortillas, cooked into crispy tortillas
    1 cup refried beans, prepared
    1 pound ground beef, chuck, raw
    1 package of Taco Seasoning
    salt to taste
    pepper to taste
    4 tablespoons salsa
    1 cup Mexican Cheese Blend, grated, prepared
    1/2 cup Roma tomato, fresh, small chop
    4 teaspoons cilantro, fresh, rough chopped

    1.To make Crispy Tortillas: Place all 8 tortillas directly on the oven rack of a 350 degrees F oven and bake for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve on your work surface.
    2.Heat the 1 cup of refried beans for 1 minute in the microwave to get hot and reserve for the recipe build.
    3.Season the ground beef with salt and pepper and saute for 8 minutes in a non-stick pan, drain, mix in taco seasoning, and reserve hot for the recipe build.
    4.To build 1 Mexican Pizza: Place 1 crisp tortilla on work surface.
    5.Evenly spread tortilla with 1/4 cup hot refried beans.
    6.Evenly top refried beans with 1/4 of the cooked ground beef.
    7.Top ground beef with second crisp tortilla and evenly spread 1 heaping tablespoon of salsa over the tortilla.
    8.Evenly top the pizza sauce with 1/4 cup grated Mexican cheese blend and 2 tablespoons chopped tomatoes.
    9.Repeat steps 1 through 5 for remaining 3 servings.
    10.Place all 4 pizzas, at one time, in 350 degrees F oven on a cookie pan/flat pan, and bake for 2 minutes to melt the cheese. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro evenly over the top of each pizza. Serve each pizza whole.