Showing posts with label recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recipes. Show all posts

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Southern Style Catfish Dinner

We did our best to spoil Jonah while he was home, with lots of family time and good home cooking.  He keeps assuring me not to be nervous about his being in the Middle East, but what can I say, I'm nervous and I just wanted to fill him up and wrap him up in our love...We Love You Jonah!  

Jonah is not one to miss the opportunity to have his favorite meals cooked, so he requested our favorite Catfish Dinner.  This meal is so simple because I totally cheat and let Zatarain's do most of the work - I just stand there and turn the catfish while the red beans and rice simmer on the stove.

For the catfish, I start by rinsing it in warm water and then I dip it in Zatarain's Fish Fry (notice a theme, we love us some Zatarain's!)  I shake the excess off and then I place them in hot oil to fry.  It is REALLY important to make sure the oil is hot and bubbly - otherwise, when you place the catfish in the oil, it will absorb the oil making for really greasy yucky fish.  You want the oil to fry the fish, not marinate in it.  Since I'm always cooking large quanitities, I always get my ovens heated to about 200 degrees and get some cookie sheets ready.  After the catfish browns nicely on both sides, I place it on the cookie sheet and then pop it in the oven while I fry the next batch.  I repeat this until it is all fried up.  This helps in two ways, 1.  It keeps the fish nice and hot.  2.  It also keeps the fish from absorbing oil as it cools, taking away the crispness...we want it to have a crispy outside and a juicy middle.

Before I even start frying the catfish I get 3 or 4 boxes of this simmering on the stovetop.  (I usually fry the catfish in an electric skillet).  This is one of those convenience meals that we all love and I have no interest in looking for a replacement that is homemade.  Whenever I make catfish, I also make Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice - it's against my religion not to, or at least the family laws of dinner.

I also always cheat and buy that HUGE bag of hushpuppies they sale at Sam's Club.  I just throw them on a baking sheet and bake at 400 for about 10 minutes.

As far as the okra goes, I prefer to shake my own with cornmeal and fry it up but Jonah loves the breaded okra so I cheated here too and picked a bag of that up.  Once the catfish was done frying and staying hot in the oven, I added the okra and cooked it up quick.  It is done in about 10 minutes.

This meal is easy, the hardest part is just moving catfish to and fro from fryer to oven - and even that is simple.  It does take a while to cook, but that is only because I am usually making so much.  


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Spanish Rice, Re-fried Beans & Burritos - Ole'

This is the first time I've made these burritos.
It won't be the last.

At least three times during dinner, Faith told me how much she loved this meal.  A little later while cleaning up the kitchen, she stopped me to let me know (again) just how much she loved dinner, when will I remake it???...and I won't be surprised if her poetry assignment tomorrow ends up being somehow related to our meal tonight.  It was that good!  I just love that sweet girl, {and burritos}!

So the burritos are Pioneer Woman's and absolutely, fantastictly delicious!  You can find the recipe here, or if you have Netflix you can watch The Pioneer Woman Collection, Food & Football.  I followed the recipe the way it was laid out in the television episode, I did not make individual plates of burritos.

I paired her burritos with my Spanish Rice and my cheater version of re-fried beans.  So on to my recipes, I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we did!!

My good friend Laura gave me a delicious Spanish Rice recipe sometime back in the 90's.  I've had that little recipe card ever since, but along the years I've tweaked it just a little bit.  The original is wonderful as is, but I can't have a recipe in my possession very long before I begin personalizing it so here is my version:

Spanish Rice:

4 Tbs. Veg Oil
2 Tbs. Butter
1/2 large onion diced (or small onion)
5 cloves garlic minced
1/2 green pepper diced
1/2 red or yellow pepper diced
3 cups Basmati Rice (uncooked)
1 Tbs Cumin
2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
1 box Chicken Broth
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 small package mixed frozen veggies
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Saute onions, in butter/oil over medium heat until translucent.  Add minced garlic and rice.  Saute' until rice is slightly brown.  Add peppers and seasonings, saute until well blended.  Add chicken bouillon, chicken broth, tomato sauce and frozen veggies.  Stir again until well blended, then cover and turn heat down to low.  Cook for about 30-40 minutes or until rice is done.  At the very end, stir in the cilantro.

*The addition of frozen mixed veggies is because that was how our favorite Mexican Restaurant in Front Royal used to make them...and to be honest, it was something we didn't like when we first moved there.  It grew on us because now we always want them prepared that way, funny how a little thing like that can help you remember a place you loved, once you've moved away.

Cheater Re-Fried Beans
1 10 to 12 oz can re-fried beans (but honestly I usually have either made my own or I use what is left out of the larger 28 oz can from making burritos *or whatever else I'm making*
3 standard size Ranch Style Beans or 1 Large Ranch Style Beans can
1/2 cup shredded cheese
Just heat it all up together, until thick and bubbly.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Refreshing White Cake with Lime Curd & Whipped Cream Frosting

Jonah will not be here for his birthday, so we celebrated with a surprise party while he has been home during his pre-deployment leave.  Jonah LOVES key-lime pie. I knew that making enough key-lime pie's for everyone to enjoy would be a tall order and I wanted to bake him a birthday cake.  So, I started thinking about ways to incorporate the two.  This cake is what I came up with, I'm going to share exactly what I did but also how I would tweak it for the next time I make it...and I will make it again, it was delicious!

When baking a cake from scratch, always prepare the pans by spraying with a non-stick cooking spray (or liberally grease with shortening) then flour the pan as well.  I just spray it, then add about 1/4 cup flour and shake it until the bottom and sides are coated well.  I do this over the sink so that all the extra flour doesn't end up all over the floor.

You whip the butter, shortening, sugar and eggs for a VERY long time (using a stand mixer) before adding the rest of the ingredients.  This imparts a very creamy whipped batter that helps the cake rise well while baking.

Kitchen helpers and pranksters are an important part of this cake.
I follow this model of 2, 9 x 13 inch cakes whenever I'm baking a birthday cake for a crowd.  

Next time I will bake the cakes the day before the event.  The cakes were still warm when I spread the lime curd over the tops and in the middle.  I would have more between the two layers + whipped cream between the layers but due to the heat from the cakes, I couldn't pull this off. 

*we didn't have 21 candles*
*Jonah wants me to point out that it is not his glass of wine*

Less than 24 hours later - there wasn't a crumb left.  Yum!

Whipped Topping - Can be found here.

Lime Curd - 
4 limes
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick butter (no substitutes)
5 - eggs at room temperature (4 if using extra large)
dash of salt
Zest one of the limes all over and let that sit in the sauce pan - I zest over the saucepan.
Juice the limes making sure you have at least 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
I cut the butter into cubes and add that to the sauce pan along with all the other ingredients.
Cook on low allowing all the ingredients to melt and blend.
Cook below a simmer for about 10 to 20 minutes until it begins to thicken. Stir constantly.
 It will thicken more as it cools.
I did this twice for enough curd for the cake size I made.

*Once the first cake was turned over (because it was still warm) I poked holes in the cake and poured the hot curd over it.  This allowed some of it to seep down into the cake. 
I repeated this for the second cake.
Next time I will allow the curd to cool and just put a thick layer between the cakes OR I'll do it the same way but because I will have cooled cakes I would add a liberal amount of whipped cream between the layers.  

White Cake - 
2 sticks butter - softened
1/2 cup butter flavor Crisco
3 cups sugar
5 eggs (room temperature)
3 cups all purpose flour (I was out of cake flour)
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 and prepare your pans.
Cream together the butter,shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy.
 I use my stand mixer and the whisk attachment.
Add eggs one at a time, making sure each one is well incorporated before adding the next.
Now, let the mixer keep beating at a low speed while you get the dry ingredients ready.
Sift together:  flour, baking powder, salt. (using a different bowl)
Mix together:  (in a separate dish) milk, buttermilk, and vanilla
Alternating between the two add dry ingredients then wet ingredients.  Once mixed together well (do not over mix) spread into pan.

* I did not double this, I made up two separate batches, one for each 9 x 13 inch pan.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, then bake for additional 10 minutes until done but watch closely.  The cake is dense and can be tricky to figure out if it is ready.  Be sure to test it with a tooth pick (or I use a skewer) to see if it is baked through before removing from oven.  What is nice about a dense but tasty cake is that it holds up well when stacked AND it pairs well with the tart lime and whipped cream.

*Once assembled frost it with whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

~March Daybook~

Outside my window - Gorgeous, just gorgeous.  We hit 80 degrees and in our excitement we decided to pretend it was 90 degrees and time for swimsuits, backyard water hose fun, and ice cream,...
in March...
because after a week of wet weather, and the week prior was a long trip driving, and the week before that was an ice and snow...well, you get a little heady when the weather is warm, sunny and perfect.
So out comes the swim suits and on goes the water works. 
Plus,  nothing says good weather like a cup of Blue Bell ice cream either, it just feels like Summer.

I am thinking - I'm thinking a lot about Jonah's deployment to the Middle East.  
I am grappling with the fact that Benjamin came off the bus screaming bloody murder yesterday that it was "THE WORST DAY EVER"!
Once he settled down, we learned he just really REALLY needed to go to the bathroom.
Once his bladder was better he instantly forgot it was the worst day ever in order to show me the newspaper.  He was absolutely over the moon excited to see this, his teacher gave it to him:

I had not told him I submitted it to the newspaper's photo contest so he was very eager to know "how they got the photo" "why is Faith in the paper" and most important "where is my picture". 

I am wearing - Sparkly shoes (because I love them), boyfriend jeans (with sparkles too, on the pockets - it's Texas ya'll) and a black knit top.  We had lunch at Ben's school today and then we took Samwise on a walk at the park so I needed something to accommodate everything. 

I am creating - I'm still working on the cross stitch and I'm also working on a little Easter crafting...

I am going - I am going to plan a birthday party for Benjamin, just working out the dates right now before I send out invitations. 
 I am going to have a hard time saying goodbye to Jonah when he leaves all too soon. 
I am going on a nice weekend get away with our whole crew, still living at home, and Samwise.  I cannot wait for that.
*he is just the best dog ever*

I am wondering - Why this book was not shoved in my hands the moment Benjamin was diagnosed:

*affiliate link*
Carrie Cariello has been an amazing find for me, I first learned of her writing when the blog post:  'I Know What Causes Autism"  came through my facebook feed.
While Jack and Benjamin are not exactly alike, there is enough alike for me to nod my head and make Pete sit and listen while I read another chapter out loud.  It helps us being  new to this diagnosis (not new to Benjamin) understand and relate, it has been a balm and the best book I've read on Autism.  
I should state that I have not wasted my time trying to figure out what caused this, I spent so many years feeling guilty over the traumatic brain injury that I just don't have the emotional stamina to go through that again.  
I also love who Ben is, and I'd rather spend my time trying better to understand him and help him navigate the world (and the world navigate Benjamin).  
So, I've not spent any time educating myself on the causes.  I read one article that resonated with me and I've left it at that.  Something about toxemia/pre-eclampsia and an Autism link, if there is one so be it and if there isn't so be it... but the link was enough for me to be satisfied that I need not look farther..the end 
(and yes I had extreme Toxemia/Pre-Eclampsia, help syndrome and all the other scary words within Ben's pregnancy so I'm just happy he and I are both here today).  
Ben is how God made him and we are lucky that he is ours.

I am hoping - Everything works out okay regarding school next year.  We are thinking about a lot with regards to our homeschoolers.  More on that later.

I am learning - To exhale, I'm not very good at it.

I am pondering - Lent.  This has been an absolute wipe out and a real pointing out of just how terrible I am at sacrifices that I set.
...... and I'm not so great at sacrifices life throws at me either but when I have to do it, I am better at rallying. 
 We've never, not in many years missed Stations of the Cross...but we have this year and every single Friday so far. 
 It isn't because we've forgotten, but we've not allowed life to slow down enough to really submerge ourselves into this meditation and discipline.  
I'm shaking my head at what bad examples we've been to our children and am already considering how to address this for next year.  
This year has been a fail, it is good to know God loves us anyway.  I still want to try harder...because I love Him enough to make the effort.

In my kitchen:  They strong armed me into making the Tator Tot Casserole.  Ugh!  
They love this so much and it is one of the recipes my mother - n- law passed on to me because my husband loved it so much growing up.  
I used to beam with pride when I made it for everyone and loved watching them scarf it down.  Then I got educated about healthy eating and my shame was the Tator Tot Casserole I had so lovingly prepared all those years. 
 I tried to make a healthier version, I tried to just quit making it all together...but no they were not having it.
My family LOVES this dish and the combination of Jonah being home coupled with "I'm going to the Middle East Mom" was enough to bring this dish to our table, just the way they love it.  
They are still trying to manipulate me into making Tuna Ring too.... which is an entire post for another day...what a colossal fail that was.
*recipe at bottom of post*

A favorite quote for today -
*or better yet, don't insult anyone at all*

My husband recently had an experience where someone described a person as having "The Autism" in a derogatory way.  It was stunning to him, so this quote means a lot to us right now.

A peek into my day - 

We are playing Catholic Trivia, all the time now.  We don't even use the game board.  I am so happy Jessica shared these because the whole family loves them and we are all learning a lot.

One of my favorite things - 

See that smile on Linus's face, total love towards Jonah.  He came to share with the cub scout troop and let them ask questions.  It meant so much to Linus and just made my heart swell.  Jonah has being a big brother wrapped up. It is also a testimony to Marine training, Marines give back.

Tator Tot Casserole:
Brown 2 lbs ground beef with one yellow onion.  Put in 9 x 13 casserole

On top of this spread out 2 cans (sometime 3) of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup.  
Don't preach to me about this soup.
 I've made my peace with it.
 There is nothing better in this recipe.

because let's be honest, the very making of Tator Tot Casserole means you've stepped off the healthy menu for the main course, so just go with it...your kids will thank you and sing your praises.
 I have 3 adult children who have not had any bad thing happen to them because of this casserole or
Cream of Mushrooom Soup
 the fact that I used twizzlers liberally to keep them happy and quiet in the grocery store 
*think about it, 6 small boys and a pregnant Mommy, twizzler were my bff*
They are all fine, and healthy, and love twizzlers and tator tot casserole.
I'm so grateful that the scary news media about all the ways parents mess up their kids with food came out after many of my kids were over the age of 15.  
New parents have enough anxiety as it is.  
I do support 'real' food for children, but every once in a while this kind of meal is fine!

About 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese or cheese blend

Then layer the Tator Tots and be generous with them.

Another cup of shredded cheese over top and then bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.


and beware, they will manipulate you into making it over, and over, and over turn it on them...promise it when...
they come back from the Middle East
they get their bedroom clean
they make straight A's

work it Mama!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

St. Patrick's Day

Sugar Cookie Recipe can be found here:  Best Sugar Cookies

We are not Irish, Pete can claim a little, but our combined heritage is definitely German.  Does that keep us from celebrating St. Patrick's Day - no way...we are good Catholics after all!

The way I prepare Corned Beef and Cabbage for my large family is by using my roaster as if it was a crock pot.

Corned Beef and Cabbage:

2 large marinated corned beef cuts from Sams
2 large green cabbages
10 yukon gold potatoes cut in half length wise
2 large yellow onions chopped up in chunks
2 long neck beers - preferably a stout beer and of course Guiness if you have it.

I place all in the roaster, pour the beer over top and place the heat at 250 and let it cook all day.  I check it on and off to turn the cabbage if it is drying out.  One hour prior to eating, I turn the heat up to 350.
This imparts the most tender corned beef ever, it practically falls apart.

Next day...

Reuben Sandwiches:

leftover corned beef sliced thin
Swiss cheese slices
Thousand Island dressing
Bubbies Saurkraut
Rye Bread

I heat the corned beef slices up by sauteing them in a pan with a little butter.  Once heated up, I cook the Reuben's they way you might make grilled cheese:

butter the rye bread, place it on the skillet
add corned beef
add sauerkraut
1 tbs of Thousand Island dressing
add Swiss cheese
place buttered rye bread on top
cook both sides until evenly browned

Serve with chips and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Crock Pot Beef Stew

I can't believe I've never shared my Beef Stew recipe - we love it.  It might be that the large amounts of red wine lulls my children into believing their eating heaven, but since the alcohol cooks out I don't think I can claim that so it must be that it is good - and it is.

It also smells good, Samwise thinks we should dismiss the naughty dog getting up on the counter to get a little bit closer to the aroma of beef cooked in a savory gravy and just let him have a little, but no we are keeping him on his kibble, sorry Sam.   Your whole house will smell amazing when you cook this, trust me.

I meant to share the recipe first thing this morning...but,  first thing this morning I was heading to the Dr. to get Linus all checked out.  A lingering cough and fever meant time to go visit our favorite pediatrician.  (our family alone might be supporting a new wing with our current status of being there constantly).  After saying hi to everyone there because we all feel like family now, we settled in to find out we needed antibiotics, cough syrup and ear drops.  The trifecta of illness, poor guy.  We also have a sympathy cougher who is in it for the cough drops. So if you come around us you might worry we've got some plague going on between the real coughing and "I want cough drops" coughing. 
 We are not contagious.

When we headed to our pharmacy Ben announced to a random stranger that "Linus has pneumonia, and I have Autism" thank you very much.  

Did I mention that through out this whole day I've received texts and phone calls from my high school Freshman.  The school nurse even called, we are on a first name basis with her thanks to previous high schooler being a frequent flyer in the nurses office.  This high schooler would very much like me to bring him some cold medicine because his nose is running.

 I let her know I was doing my best.  

The rain began pouring in earnest, Linus is sick.  The journey from the parking lot into the school (when raining, windy and cold feels like a 100 mile journey) has to be done with 3 bundled up children and one who has a hard time staying with me, I've already used up 2 passes today getting to and from the Dr. then pharmacy...and lunch, we got lunch.  So, I finally texted to my runny nose boy that he would have to wait on the medicine and we can discuss once he is home just how horrible I am.  No reply to the text.  Did I mention there is a winter storm warning.

So, without further adieu here is the recipe:

Crock Pot Beef Stew:
 You must begin by cooking a Bottom Round Roast 80's style.  Drop it in the crock pot, set on low and add 1 package Lipton Onion Soup Mix and 1 can cream of celery soup.  Cook all day, make sure it is a really large roast so that you have leftovers.  The gravy that cooks from this is what you want for the stew.  So once the family has enjoyed a good dinner of roast, put all the leftover roast back in the gravy in the crock pot so that you can start over the next day making stew.

If there isn't much left, add braised stew meat another can of cream of celery and another package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix  - this isn't an exact science.

1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes in juice
1 Tbs. Worcestershire
1/2 Tbs Lawry's Seasoning
Fresh Chives - however much you like, we add about a cups worth
4 large cloves garlic crushed
1 cup red wine (or more when nobody's watching)
1 small bag frozen chopped veggies
4  potatoes chopped up

Cook on high for about 4 hours, then turn to low.  If it seems too dried out, add more wine.  Do Not Add Water!

Absolutely delicious!

Friday, January 30, 2015

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

~Capturing the context of contentment in every day life~
~Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter~

My 1980's crafting is coming right along, and I love, love, love it.  I cannot wait to see this as a stocking.  
Moving the sewing room  or rather, losing the sewing room, seems to have been the way to go.  I'm already getting much more done.  I finished Faith's curtains and am just working on the tie backs, if the light in her room was decent I'd share some photos but for now this will have to do.


While we are not going to be caught complaining about gorgeous 70 degree weather, we have been a little sad to not see snow this year.  When we heard all about the Blizzard Juno, we decided to make our own fun with some homemade play dough and watching Frozen.  So of course I was out of blue food coloring and the snow had to be green, we added sparkles though so it still glittered like snow.  They had fun and it made them very happy.
Faith is also happy because we've come to a compromise about 'hair'.  She wants to start fixing it herself, which seems to translate to not fixing it at all *sigh*.  Every other day, I still get to fix it. 
 This was a 'she' fix it day.
*Play Dough Recipe at bottom of post*


I love these vintage ecards.

Samwise will probably fill the funny forever with all the material he provides.  Yesterday Benjamin needed to take a shower.  Samwise was determined to go INTO the shower with Ben.  Once I finally convinced him Ben would be fine, he stood outside the door of the shower and cried, I mean really cried.  Such a funny guy.


Jessica always has great inspiration for celebrating the Liturgical Year.  I got the idea for baking star cookies for the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas (January 28th) from her and the kids were thrilled.  This recipe was shared by my good friend Laura (who has a birthday soon and I hope she lets me bake her a cake again this year)

Best Sugar Cookie Recipe:
*I double this*
1/2 cup butter, softened (make sure to use real butter)
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar 
*do not use the baking soda, cream of tartar but instead use 3 teaspoons baking powder*
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream together the butter, shortening and sugar.  Beat it for a long time - you want it to be really, really light.  Add the eggs one at a time and incorporate well after each add.  Add the vanilla.  Mix together the flour soda, tartar (or baking powder).  Then add to butter mixture slowly.  Don't mix too much after all the flour is blended in.

Roll dough out on a well-floured surface.  Keep it thick about 1/2 inch.  

Bake at 425 for 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned.  Immediately move to a cooling rack.

Play Dough:
4 cups flour
4 cups water
2 cups salt
4 tsp cream of tartar
food coloring of your choice

Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan and cook over medium heat stirring constantly.  It takes a while and is hard to stir but it will form a ball.  Once ball is formed, knead it until it is smooth play dough.  My kids especially like to play with it while still warm.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Country Potato Salad

As I shared in last week's 'menu', on Saturday we enjoyed BBQ and nothing goes better with smoked ribs than a good country potato salad. I also smoked a turkey using the same method for smoked chicken, the only difference is that I put it in the oven at 325 to cook for about an hour at the end just to make sure it was cooked throughout the bird (it was over 25 lbs). 
I don't think I've ever met a potato salad I didn't like and everyone seems to have their own variation (I also love mustard/olive combo's) but this is what I do the most and thought I would share it.  

Country Potato Salad
10-15 red potatoes chopped up and then boiled until tender (drain off water)
3 boiled eggs, peeled and diced
1 yellow onion diced
2 pickles, chopped up
1 cup mayo
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
salt/pepper to taste
1 Tbs dill weed
1 tsp. celery salt
paprika sprinkled over top

Mix all in a large bowl and chill before serving - sometimes I add chives as well.
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