Archive for the ‘Recipe Included’ Category

Football, Commercials, and Food…Oh My

FootballI’m not gonna lie; I’m not really excited to watch football on Sunday.  I know it’s the big game, but there’s not a team that I typically go out of my way to cheer for, so I’m not that into it.  But, like millions of others, I’ll still be glued to my TV.  Why?  Well for the commercials, of course.

Truth be told the commercials and the food are my favorite part of Super Bowl Sunday.  I mean, honestly, how many other sporting events do you watch where people run to the restroom during the game so they can make it back to watch the commercials?    One of my favorites is from a couple of years ago about the cowboys who herd cats.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve watched and forwarded that commercial; it reminds me of raising children.

Budweiser has to be the master of Super Bowl commercials.  Many of them are touching, and have caused even the toughest in the room to sit in silence after it’s done.  Especially the one that aired after 9/11 when all the horses paused and put their heads down in view of the Statue of Liberty; that was powerful stuff.  But one of the funniest they had was the donkey who wanted to pull the wagon.  I still laugh every time I see it.

And of course there’s the food.  Ah, the food.  It’s kind of like a holiday from sensible eating.  One of my favorites (definitely on the spicy side) is jalapeño cheese dip served with a toasted baguette. Oh, my.  I got the original recipe from my niece and tweaked it a bit over the years.  It’s always a hit and people often want the recipe.  It’s cheesy, spicy, and served on bread, how can you go wrong?

I guess I’ll cheer for Seattle, but I’m really there for the commercials and food.  Don’t let me down, Budweiser.  Let the grazing begin!

Jalapeño Cheese Dip

2-8 oz packages of cream cheese (softened)

½ C mayo

½ C sour cream

2 C shredded colby-jack cheese

2-4 oz chopped jalapeños

Shake of onion powder

Shake of garlic powder

Shake of red pepper flakes

Cayenne pepper to taste (about ¼-½ tsp)

With an electric mixer beat the cream cheese until all the lumps are out.  Add the remaining ingredients except the co-jack and beat well.  Stir in the cheese until it’s completely mixed and scoop into a greased pie dish.  Bake at 350° for about 40 minutes or until the top is just starting to brown.

While it’s baking, slice a baguette diagonally as thin as you can without tearing the bread.  Spray a baking sheet with no-stick spray (or mist with olive oil) and place bread in a single layer on the sheet.  Drizzle/mist with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  Bake at 350° until it’s toasted.

 

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Those Other Three Words

Sliders(Previously posted)

So the Hub and I got invited to a Super Bowl party this year and I’m so excited.  Now, it’s not like we’re trolls who never get invited to parties, but this invitation came with three of my favorite words, “Pot Luck Supper.”  Oh…my…gosh, POT LUCK!

Before you nominate me for geek hall of fame, let me just tell you a few things.  First, I was raised on a farm; daughter of a couple of farm kids.  We came from up north where pot lucks and hot dish were as common as snow in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  And I’m Lutheran.  Seriously, it’s like pot lucks were woven into my DNA before birth.  I never stood a chance.

The Hub doesn’t share in my enthusiasm.  He does enjoy cooking, but if it were up to him we’d just stop at the convenience store and grab some chips and salsa on the way there and call it a day.  Not me.  As soon as the invitation is received I’m consulting cook books, checking my computer’s recipe folder, and perusing my old-timey recipe box for just the right dish.  It’s not just willy nilly.  There has to be some thought to my dish.  Who’s the crowd?  What else do I think will be there?  Main dish, dessert, or appetizer?  See, it’s a lot to deal with.

I finally settled on a dish that’s one of my favorites.  It’s kind of an amalgamation of a couple recipes I like, cocktail meatballs crossed with sliders and sloppy joes.  I call it Sweet and Sour Sliders.  I’ve made it a few times with great success.  I’ll pass along the recipe, just in case you need to add a secret weapon to your collection.  Then when you get to hear those three little words, “Pot Luck Supper,” or “Dish to Share,” or even “App to Pass” you’ll be ready.  Eat lots and talk loud, my fearless football friends!

Sweet and Sour Sliders

3 pounds ground beef

1 egg, beaten

½ C fine bread crumbs

1 T garlic powder

1 T onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a large bowl mix the ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste, until combined.  Divide meat into 24 balls.  Put the meatballs on a half sheet pan and flatten gently.  Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes or until they’re as done as you prefer.

 

While burgers are cooking, mix:

1 C ketchup

2 T sugar

1 T vinegar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 T mustard

1 onion sliced very thin

1 green pepper sliced very thin (optional)

Remove burgers from the oven and place in a large Crockpot.  Pour the sauce and onions (green pepper if you’re using) over the top and cover.  Heat on low for several hours before serving on Hawaiian dinner rolls.

The Flexitarian Next Door

Veg

You may have heard the term “Flexitarian” tossed about in the last decade or so. In case you are not familiar with the meaning, a flexitarian is not a vegetarian.  It refers to a person who eats a primarily vegetable/fruit diet that is supplemented with grains and legumes and, yes, still eats meat…occasionally.  That is the key differentiator from a vegetarian.

Although the name has gained a little momentum in the last few years, most people still do not know what a flexitarian is/does. In fact, a large portion of the population is already living as flexitarians with no knowledge that there is a name for it.  Many people favor a diet that limits meat consumption strictly for the health benefits.  That makes a lot of sense, since red meat has long been attributed to a host of health issues when over-consumed.  However, there is no proof that a person must completely sacrifice their favorite steak or burger, totally eliminating red meat.  Just practice a balance and make that the sporadic treat.

Another great benefit of the flexitarian lifestyle is the ability to practice social responsibility. If you have a diet high in fruits and vegetables, you have the option to purchase large quantities of these items locally—at least seasonally.  We live in Minnesota.  We are not going to find many fresh vegetables grown locally in the winter!  But we sure can do our part the other seasons when we don’t have to look too far for great fresh foods that are supporting local growers.  And the same can be said for your occasional meat/fish option, just look a little closer to home.

Still not sure a flexitarian diet would work for you? Try this great meatless soup.  I swear you won’t miss the meat!

Southwestern Meatless Chili

1 cup wheat berries—find by rice/lentils at supermarket or at whole foods bulk store

1 can/bottle beer-I use light                           1 can tomato soup

1 green bell pepper diced                                1 can creamed corn (14.75 oz)

1 sweet red pepper diced                                 1 can tomatoes w/chilies (14.5 oz)

3 stalks celery-with leaves-diced                   1 can black beans-rinsed

½ onion diced                                                   3 T dry ranch dressing mix

Big pinch of red pepper flakes                       2 T dry taco seasoning mix

 

Soak wheat berries overnight with at least two inches of water covering them. In a soup pot sauté peppers, celery, and onion until softened.  Drain and rinse wheat berries and add them to the pot with the remaining ingredients.  Simmer covered, stirring often, over low heat for about 1-2 hours.  (You could also put all ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low all day.)  To serve, add a dollop of sour cream, broken tortilla chips and shredded cheese.

 

Maximizing the Farmers’ Market

Salad Spinner

Although I’m not much of a summer person, I do love all the farmers’ markets and road-side stands that pop up.  There’s not much better than that fresh-from-the-garden food that is only available to us in Minnesota for a limited time.  So while that time is here, let me introduce you to one of the most used tools in my kitchen, Sally the Salad Spinner.

Don’t let the name fool you, Ol’ Sal is a true multi-tasker.  For example, when you buy fresh greens, they need a really good bath.  If you put the greens inside the basket of the spinner and fill the whole thing with cold water, you can swish them around and get all the sand and goop (yes, that is the technical term!) off the leaves.  Give them a couple rinses and repeats and then just lift out the basket, dump the water, and spin away the excess moisture.  Perfection!

How great are fresh summer berries?  They’ll tell you not to wash berries until just before eating.  Pshaw.  As soon as I get home I give mine a bath.  The trick is you need to dry them completely before putting them away in the fridge.  I pop them in the spinner, swish ‘em around in the nice cold water, and then shake out the basket carefully to remove as much water as I can.  Then I put them on a baking sheet lined with paper towel and leave them on the counter.  Spread them all out into a single layer, shake occasionally to dry all sides, and store in a paper towel-lined container that is not tightly sealed.  Mine usually last a week to two weeks.  If I can keep the caboose out of them.

 A couple other tidbits of info:

  • You don’t need to buy expensive vegetable/fruit spray to wash them. In a spray bottle mix one part white vinegar to two parts water. Spray fruits or vegetables completely, let sit for about thirty seconds, and rinse well. And no, you will NOT taste vinegar! Also, if you use this to clean berries it will extend shelf life.
  • Freeze your extra berries after they’re washed and completely dried. Flash freeze in a single layer first on a baking sheet/plate. Once solid, bag and label them and store in the freezer.
  • Make sure you wash the outside of your melons before you cut them. Even if they’re organic, you never know what’s been crawling around them! Once your knife moves from exterior to interior, it’s too late.
  • Store greens in a paper towel inside a zip-top bag. If the towel gets damp, replace it. Squeeze out as much air as you can before putting away again in the fridge.
  • When you get celery home, wrap it in paper towel, then tightly in aluminum foil. It will keep for weeks like this in the fridge.

SaladAnd my favorite salad to spin up in Sally?  A couple of cups of spring greens, blueberries, strawberries, tiny sprinkle of feta, some pecans and Ken’s fat free raspberry pecan dressing.  Oh yes, summer is definitely here.  Enjoy!

My Body Needs A Reboot

vegetable-cutlets

It has come to my attention that I may not be as young as I think I am.  This has been rudely pointed out to me by a nagging case of “Trigger Finger” that locks-up the middle finger of my right hand.  The very first thing they tell you is that it’s more predominant in women over 40.  Really?  Do you have to just come at me like that? How about easing into it a little?  Tell me it’s because I do so much hand/craft work, or too much keyboarding, not the age thing right out of the gate.  Geesh.  So, when I started thinking about what to give up for Lent this year, it seemed like a glaringly obvious answer; I need a reboot.

With computers, a reboot will cure many an ill.  I’m hoping that will be the case for me.  My initial sacrifice was going to be no alcohol for Lent.  It’s not like I’m in need of an intervention, but let’s be honest, Mama likes wine.  Well… it’s only 46 days.  And it is supposed to be something that is really a sacrifice.  Actually, the traditional Lenten sacrifice is forty days because Sundays are excluded as days of celebration.  Aha!  A free-day once a week…this is sounding better.

Then I thought, hey, while I’m at it, why not really make this a worthwhile month-and-a-half?  I’m a huge believer in the healing powers of food.  We already eat a lot of vegetables, but maybe I could focus on some that are known to reduce inflammation and help my finger.  Hmm…okay…

In doing my due diligence, I found out that there are a few foods that the arthritis folks say could help:

  • Olive oil
  • Citrus fruits, berries, and cherries
  • Carrots, squash, sweet potatoes (orange hued vegetables)
  • Whole grains
  • Ginger
  • Pineapple

I like these foods, so incorporating them into my reboot shouldn’t be a big deal.  I’m also going to try to do better at getting to bed early.  I am by nature a morning person—much to The Hub’s dismay.  Usually my brain is going a hundred miles an hour before my feet hit the floor in the morning.  Since I am most productive and creative at this time of the day, it shouldn’t be wasted lying in bed.

And of course the other piece of the reboot has got to be activity.  Since it’s been below zero most days in Minnesota this winter, there’s been no running outside.  That’s no excuse to not use the equipment we have inside.  I need to do at least 30 minutes of something most days of my reboot to really make the most of it.  After all, it won’t be long and we’ll be sleeveless, complaining about the heat!

 

Vegetable Cutlets…Mix and match your faves!

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 C corn
  • 1/2 C peas (frozen is best, canned may be too soft)
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/3 C Panko crumbs
  • 1/3 C bread crumbs
  • salt, pepper, and whatever spices you like

Peel potatoes and carrots.  Cut them into 3-4 pieces and put them to boil until fork tender.  Sauté onion and garlic in the olive oil until slightly browned.  Drain the water and run potato and carrot through a ricer or mash them gently into a mixing bowl.  Add in the egg, corn, peas, onion, and garlic, stirring just to combine.  Roll the mixture into 25-30 balls.  In a bowl combine the bread and Panko crumbs.  If the crumbs are not already seasoned, this is a good chance to add some extra flavor.  Squish the balls down a little and dip into the crumbs, pressing a bit to make sure they pick up the crumbs.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with non-stick spray.  Place the cutlets onto the sheet and bake at 375° for ten minutes.  Remove from the oven and carefully flip the patties over; bake for another ten minutes.  Enjoy!

 

Those Other Three Words

Sliders

So the Hub and I got invited to a Super Bowl party this year and I’m so excited.  Now, it’s not like we’re trolls who never get invited to parties, but this invitation came with three of my favorite words, “Pot Luck Supper.”  Oh…my…gosh, POT LUCK!

Before you nominate me for geek hall of fame, let me just tell you a few things.  First, I was raised on a farm; daughter of a couple of farm kids.  We came from up north where pot lucks and hot dish were as common as snow in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  And I’m Lutheran.  Seriously, it’s like pot lucks were woven into my DNA before birth.  I never stood a chance.

The Hub doesn’t share in my enthusiasm.  He does enjoy cooking, but if it were up to him we’d just stop at the convenience store and grab some chips and salsa on the way there and call it a day.  Not me.  As soon as the invitation is received I’m consulting cook books, checking my computer’s recipe folder, and perusing my old-timey recipe box for just the right dish.  It’s not just willy nilly.  There has to be some thought to my dish.  Who’s the crowd?  What else do I think will be there?  Main dish, dessert, or appetizer?  See, it’s a lot to deal with.

I finally settled on a dish that’s one of my favorites.  It’s kind of an amalgamation of a couple recipes I like, cocktail meatballs crossed with sliders and sloppy joes.  I call it Sweet and Sour Sliders.  I’ve made it a few times with great success.  I’ll pass along the recipe, just in case you need to add a secret weapon to your collection.  Then when you get to hear those three little words, “Pot Luck Supper,” or “Dish to Share,” or even “App to Pass” you’ll be ready.  Party on and GO BRONCOS!

Sweet and Sour Sliders

3 pounds ground beef

1 egg, beaten

½ C fine bread crumbs

1 T garlic powder

1 T onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a large bowl mix the ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste, until combined.  Divide meat into 24 balls.  Put the meatballs on a half sheet pan and flatten gently.  Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes or until they’re as done as you prefer.

 

While burgers are cooking, mix:

1 C ketchup

2 T sugar

1 T vinegar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 T mustard

1 onion sliced very thin

1 green pepper sliced very thin (optional)

Remove burgers from the oven and place in a large Crockpot.  Pour the sauce and onions (green pepper if you’re using) over the top and cover.  Heat on low for several hours before serving on Hawaiian dinner rolls.  Garnish with olives, extra onion, cheese, pickles….

Beating the Craft out of Winter

driftwood

So I find myself floundering a bit lately.  Maybe it’s some sort of mid-winter funk, but whatever it is I need to snap the heck out of it right now.  I was trying to decide what to write about for this week.  The next thing you know I’m surfing for wool patterns (craft porn) and cruising the Martha Stewart website.  Ugh, I tell ya, I need some focus.  Now.

I think it has something to do with a stunting of my creative outlets.  Since we made our move to a smaller house, I have most of my crafting gear tucked neatly into storage.  We’re only renting this place for a year until we decide where exactly we want to put down the firm roots.  That means there’s no point in unboxing everything and reboxing it months later.  Yes, we are that crazy.  So, one bedroom is used to hold tidy shelves of bins.  Lots and lots of bins.

Meanwhile, back at the dining room table, I find myself kind of pining away for my gear.  There’s some great stuff that would surely pull me out of these winter doldrums; paints and canvas, yarn, and bags and bags of old sheets and wool blankets.  They call to me like an evil temptress.  But as only a dog hears the dog whistle, only I hear their tempting siren song.  Oh yeah, they’re good like that.  The Hub doesn’t get it.  He can’t hear the whistle.

I try to drown the luring call as they beckon me.  I wander from white room to white room in my funk; meh, colorless, empty walls.  I did take some time to look up ‘ways to beat your winter blahs’.  They tell you to do things like get up early and stay hydrated.  Please, if I get any more hydrated I could float down the hall to the storage room.  Maybe I’ll just have to give in.  What harm could one little bin do?

sheet

And for everyone getting ready for the “Big Game” next weekend, here’s a favorite recipe of mine.  The best and easiest Beer Bread ever.  What’s football without food?  Go Broncos!

Rocket’s Beer Bread

12 oz beer (I use light, you can also use soda—ginger ale is very good!)

3 C self-rising flour (or make your own, use 1 C all purpose flour, 1 ½ tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp salt)

3 T sugar

1 stick butter (use real butter, not oleo, you’ll thank me)

Optional flavorings—I use a tablespoon of chives, some onion and garlic powder, maybe a few red pepper flakes or a smidge of cayenne powder if I’m feeling evil

 

Mix beer, flour, flavorings, and sugar together.  Pour into a 9” X 5” X 3” loaf pan.  Melt the butter and pour it over the top.  The whole stick.  Yes it is a lot.  Yes it is delicious.  Bake at 375° for about 50 minutes.  Cool completely out of the pan on a wire rack. Cut with a very sharp knife, not a serrated/bread knife.  Goes great with dips…if you can wait that long.