Tag Archives: recipes

Stephen King + beans & franks.

Lately I’ve been on a Stephen King mini-obsession & devouring one book after another. I have read his novels in the past & used to own a ton of hardcovers; my introduction to King began with a tattered copy of Pet Semetary that I was lucky enough to find at a flea market when I was about 13 years old…it literally terrified the crap out of me & still sends shivers up my spine to this day. It is one of my favorite books of all time. King is typically classified as a horror genre author, and yes, most of the novels I’ve read do have that scary/horror/creepy element to them, however they are well-rounded stories & not just horror. I think there is probably a big slice of readers out there who are missing out on an excellent author simply because he is classified as “horror” & those people don’t like scary stories/don’t want to be scared. That’s how I am…I don’t particularly care for out-and-out horror or sci-fi books usually but I discovered that King is so much more when I just gave some of his other novels a chance after Pet Semetary. In other words, more people should try them…they’d probably end up liking them. I personally really enjoy his writing style, language, character creations, plots, etc.

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This is exactly what my much loved, tattered copy looks like, minus the creases & blemishes. This book will send shivers up your spine!

One of the things I like about his writing is how he includes minute, everyday details, such as what a character had for dinner. It makes the story more realistic & also gives me inspiration for the kitchen! I’m currently reading Salem’s Lot, one of his classics. In the chapter I was just in, he tells you that the characters are having traditional “beans and franks” for dinner, and gives you clues about the ingredients and the process (and I quote: “It was Thursday night, and the meal was traditional–beans and franks. Bill Norton grilled the franks on the outdoor grill, and Ann had had her kidney beans simmering in molasses since nine that morning.”, chapter 5), which is uber-helpful when you’re like me & go scouring the internet for some old-timey similar sounding recipe. Many of the recipes I found said to use navy beans but I wanted to do it Stephen King’s way. I also have a great interest in trying “classic” recipes from other areas, and from the way it sounds, this is a traditional New England-area dinner/meal; and King should know since that’s his home territory & also the place setting for a majority of his books.

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This is the version I'm reading via ebook, one of my most favorite inventions ever.

So, after searching and searching I finally found a recipe that I’m going to try. It’s the one I felt was closest to how King described it & the website claims it’s old. I haven’t made it yet so I can’t reveal any results or opinions on the recipe process or outcome, but I figured one more blog/link to this traditional dish couldn’t hurt & possibly would make it easier for others to find…others like myself, who enjoy going off on food whims suggested by horror novels (despite my speech earlier about King being much more than a horror-genre author, Salem’s Lot is a “scary story”). I’m not sure what sides to have with this–and Mr. King provided no suggestions!–but some sort of toast and/or rolls sounds good…that way you can sop up any juices. Of course veggies are always good, or fruit, or even salad.

I found the recipe on the Pioneer Woman’s site…I enjoy her recipes, have made a few before, and I also really like how she explains everything in detail accompanied with photos. The only thing I’d tweak is the fact that she uses navy beans; I’m planning on using kidney beans, simply because that’s what King described & I’m trying to maintain “authenticity”. Personally, I think either bean would be okay & it comes down to your preference as well as what you have on hand (again, for me, kidney beans win because I’ve already got them)…either or. I would retype the recipe & make my blog look all efficient and thorough and nice…but alas, I’m lazy & let’s face it: her blog looks 20x better than mine ever could, so I’ll just link it. You can find a (undoubtedly good) recipe for Traditional New England Beans & Franks here. If you make ’em, stop back but here & lemme know how they turned out & what you thought! Like all bloggers–well-known or unknown–I love feedback and comments.

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Note: this photo is *not* from the Pioneer Woman's site, I just liked it & decided to use it.

And after you try the recipe, try some Stephen King too…I highly recommend any of these:

*Pet Semetary (!!!)
*The Shining (!!!)
*Carrie
*Misery
*Dolores Claiborne
*Cujo (!!)
*Green Mile series
*IT (!!)
*Needful Things
*Rose Madder

The (!!!) indicate my favorite-favorites; also, many of these have been made into movies or mini-series so if you’re not a big reader there is always that option, just remember that most movies don’t include every last detail from the book & may not be quite as good. Just saying. I can, however, guarantee that The Shining and Pet Semetary are excellent books AND movies. And of course the list of his works is about triple the size of my list above, so you’re bound to find something you like. Just try it.

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The great Stephen King...I've always thought he looks like my Dad, haha...and he does.
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Meatball Cups outta thin air……

This evening I found myself in the kitchen, mentally twirling the recipe carousel in my mind, searching for something I could make for dinner. I had 1 lb. of ground beef to work with. I’ll spare you all the boring details of what ideas were turned down because I lacked the ingredients (yes, I am way overdue to go actual grocery shopping)…eventually I landed on meatball cups.

What the hell is a meatball cup?! You ask.
A meatball cup is a fun way to convince your kids to eat meatloaf! It is a cheap go-to if you have a small amount of meat (like 1 lb,) & a big taste for meatloaf! It is an American classic with a modern twist & an interesting title that makes people wonder “What the hell is a meatloaf cup?!”. Simply put, it is meatloaf smashed into a muffin tin.
Here we go:

Meatloaf Cups
1 lb. ground beef (or more; 1 lb, only yields about 10)
breadcrumbs
1/4 c. milk (or water)
2 eggs (or egg whites)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder
BBQ sauce (ahem, KC Masterpiece Honey bbq sauce is my recommendation) or ketchup, whichever you prefer
1-2 muffin pans, depending on how much meat you’re using.

Now first we need to get a couple things straight:
1) ground beef shrinks
2) you should basically make this meatloaf in the way you typically would. The only difference comes with the shaping-instead of making a mound of raw meat you’ll be separating it into portions. My meatloaf recipe varies depending on what I have on hand (although apparently I manage to keep good form: I’ll never forget the time my Aunt complimented me by saying that my meatloaf “actually held together” & that hers never did) so just do what you’re used to.

Anyway…for me, I throw my raw beef into a bowl, then I add a couple eggs (or just egg whites…a good thing to keep on hand is:
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I know, it’s more of a “rich people” food but it comes in handy if you’re like me & forget to buy eggs but then you need one here or there; I have no idea how much this stuff is or where it can be found, this is courtesy of our house-mate), I add my spices-usually garlic & onion powders, seasoned salt, regular salt & pepper-then I start mixing it all together. If it seems a little “off” I’ll add a touch of water (or milk) here & there as needed. I also just eyeball the breadcrumbs…I could be wrong about this but the breadcrumbs serve to suck up the grease and to stretch the meat, so I add enough to cover those jobs but not so much that I’ll end up with a loaf of bread in the end.

Still with me? For some reason this post seems even more discombobulated than my posts usually do; Maybe because it’s been a lot of stop-go-stop-go. Thanks for hanging in there!

Okay, now once you’ve gotten your hunk of meatloaf mixed, take a normal dinner-ware sized spoon, scoop out some meat mix & start filling those muffin cups. Some meatloaf cup recipes end up putting mashed potatoes on the top but I’m going the quick & easy (read: lazy) route today; we’ll be topping these with BBQ sauce. Remember: ground beef shrinks (unless you can afford the fancy-schmancy lean beef…kidding, kidding) so don’t gip your eaters with the cups. I managed to get (almost) 11 & a couple were on the smaller side but hey, everybody ate dammit. You should end up with something like this:

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Yes, I did bbq all of them...

Next I pour some BBQ sauce into a measuring cup-so I don’t make a mess & the whole bottle plops out & drowns the meat-cups-and use the same spoon I scooped with to put enough sauce to cover each top. For those of you obsessed with measurements, I’d figure it’s about 1-2 Tbsp, if that. Place in a 350° oven for…about 30 minutes. I’m truly sorry; for me, cooking is something of a second nature now & I’m always forgetting to jot important info like times & measurements down so that I can input them on the blog. I just cooked mine until they were done, checked on them a couple times. You end up with:
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Ta-da! The dinner I pulled out of thin air.

A closer look at the meatloaf cup:
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They were delish! Granted I wish I would’ve had more meat so we could’ve had more cups, but the basis of this recipe was working with what I had on hand (I still have not been to the store! I definitely don’t get the Mom-of-the-week award this week…)

On a side note, I’ve heard of people using sour cream in their mashed potatoes to make them creamier. I happened to have a half a tub left so I decided to try it out as opposed to throw it out.
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I honestly didn’t notice a taste or texture difference, however because you can’t taste the sour cream, that’s exactly why you should sneak it in if you have it on hand…everyone can use some extra vitamins & all that, so just sneak it in there without telling anyone . 😉

Thoughts are welcome, ALWAYS.

**Updated** Tastes like home in my mouth. And it will yours too.

Some of my tried & true recipes have been passed down from my mom’s side of the family.  Things like potato salad, sausage gravy, green beans, chicken & dumplings.  Since my paw-paw (whom they originated from), nanny, & mom are all gone now these recipes have become even more sacred to me and I’ve made a point of keeping them in rotation so my kids will grow up remembering them.  Hey, I’m kinda crazy when it comes to food okay?

So the other day I saw 2 different pins (on Pinterest, just in case you’ve been under a rock for the past year) but I believe they’re the same link/recipe.  One says something about “crock pot chicken & dumplings”, one says something about “cracker barrel chicken & dumplings”.  It looks like the same picture on both so I said what the hell & went with the crock pot one.  However my subconscious likes to stress me out so I didn’t get the urge to make it until it was too late to do in the crock pot.  Of course.  So I put my big cook panties on & decided I’d try to convert it to a stove top recipe.  The entire time I was expecting failure.  Seriously…the whole time.  And then they get done & with the first bite I knew that it would be my new go-to chicken & dumplings recipe.  I felt a twinge of guilt towards my “family tradition” but I can’t help it…these fuckers are goooooood.  They taste like home in my mouth.  So despite the fact that I’ve already posted like 65,000 blogs today, I wanted to make a post about this one before I forgot all the steps I had to convert & tinker with.  I am one of those cooks who does “pinches” & “dashes” so I’m gonna attempt to be as clear & understandable as possible but if I cause confusion please leave a comment & I’ll try to clarify.  Obviously I’m not a raging popular blog so I’ll have plenty of time to answer you.  Now, whaddya waitin’ for–get to cookin’!!

PS: all of the pics are at the end; I didn’t want to confuse things even more by interjecting photos everywhere!

Delicious Home Tasting Chicken & Dumplings from Pinterest or Cracker Barrel but who really cares because they’re so damn good

First, the HOMEMADE CREAM OF CHICKEN SOUP.
You will need:
4 T. Butter
4 T. Flour
2 c. Liquid (broth, milk, water)

Throw all your butter into a saucepan or skillet over med-high heat; melt completely. Toss all the flour in then stir with a whisk to combine with the butter. It should end up resembling a pliable, soft, play-doh like mixture. Let this cook for a couple of minutes then begin to add your liquid. Now: this is the part that requires patience & concentration. You must add the liquid a little at a time. What type of liquid you add is up to you; the first time I made this I was low on milk so I did half milk/half water; the next time I did 3/4 chicken broth/1/4 milk. It’s totally up to you, just make sure it’s 2 cups. Anyway…I always add just a splash of liquid at first then whisk everything together; as you’re adding the liquid the “play-doh” is soaking it up & expanding. Splash, whisk, splash, whisk…you get the idea. Once your mess mixture starts to resemble a soupy liquid it’s generally pretty safe to dump the rest of your liquid in, whisk & cook for a few minutes. Variations on this are easy too: for cream of celery just toss some finely chopped celery in with your melting butter; for cream of mushroom add finely chopped mushroom to your butter; for a stronger chicken taste sprinkle some chicken bouillon in. You just made homemade cream of chicken soup-take that, Campbell’s!!

Alrighty…once you’ve made the soup just set it aside. If you’re more organized than myself, you could actually do this next step before making the soup but…eh, whatever.

The Chicken
You will need:
2-4 lbs. Boneless, skinless chicken
(You can use any type you want, I prefer breast because you don’t have to trim the fat; also a little chicken goes a loooong way in this recipe so if you don’t have much that’s a-okay)
2 T. Butter
2 c. Cream of Chicken soup (what you just made)
1 c. Chicken broth
1 onion, diced

What you do:
Place the chicken in a pot, cover with water, dump some salt in & bring to a boil. You can move on to other tasks while the chicken is boiling but don’t forget about it…you don’t want it to start falling apart. Thoroughly cook the chicken, reserve the water (which is now homemade chicken broth!), and place the chicken aside. In another large pot combine over medium heat the 2 cups of soup you made earlier, 1 cup of chicken broth (yes that’s right: get it from the reserved “boiling” water!), the onions & butter. Whisk all ingredients until thoroughly blended, then add the chicken pieces. Cook this mixture-stirring occasionally-for about 20 minutes/while preparing dumplings to blend flavors.

The Dumplings
You have 2 options here: use Bisquick, or follow the recipe listed below. You could also cut up refrigerator biscuits if you’re crunched for time or just lazy as hell. I promise you that rolling out dough is SO SO worth it & really doesn’t take long at all. You can absolutely taste the difference over fridge biscuits & you will be super glad you took the time to do it. If you opt for Bisquick they always have their biscuit recipe on the box, just follow it & jump back in here for the rolling part. If you’re going the distance for your dough you’ll need this recipe:

You will need:
2 c. Flour
3 t. Baking powder
2 T. Sugar
1 t. Salt
1/3 c. Oil (veggie, canola)
2/3 c. Milk

What you do:
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Measure out oil & milk in separate measuring cups, then gently add milk to oil. DO NOT STIR. Add oily-milk to the bowl of dry ingredients; using your hands gently mix together. Try to get it mixed up thoroughly yet in as few moves as possible. I know this is confusing but the more dough is handled the tougher it gets. After mixing pat into a giant ball; I usually stick mine in the freezer for a few minutes just to firm it up a bit. Now for the rolling:
-Sprinkle some flour on a clean, flat surface (ie: your kitchen table).
-Place your dough ball on top then knead a couple of times, sprinkling a tiny bit of flour as needed if it has stickiness.
-Sprinkle a tiny bit of flour (this should be abbreviated to S.T.B.F., lol!) over your rolling pin & start rolling out your dough. Make it as thick or as thin as you want (mainly because I never measured my dough thickness, I just always eyeball it) but keep in mind the dough will puff up once it becomes a dumpling. In other words you don’t want dumplings the same thickness as a porterhouse. Or maybe you do. Again, your call.
-Use a pizza cutter (genius, right?!) to cut horizontal & vertical lines, forming little rectangles. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can use a small cookie cutter like I did last time (a little star!). Or, you can make small strips. Your preference.
-Gather up your uncooked dumplings & place on a plate; repeat these steps until all of your dough is used.

The Final Result
Finally, you’re at the finish line! Increase the heat on the chicken/soup mixture to medium-high; remove the chicken pieces. While you’re waiting on the soup to get a little hotter shred all of your chicken & set aside. Some recipes call for you to put it back in the pot but this is my recipe & I say set it aside because it’s easier to cook your dumplings. You should be seeing the occasional heat bubble in your soup pot; when this happens start adding your dumplings one by one all around inside the pot. After you add a whole “layer” of them wait a minute then stir gently to make sure they’re not sticking. Cook for a few minutes until they’re puffed up, probably 5-6 minutes. You probably don’t have any free space to add more dumplings so remove the cooked ones (I always just dump them in with my shredded chicken) with a slotted spoon, then repeat the process until all dumplings have been cooked. Finally, gently re-add all the dumplings & chicken, stir to mix it all in with the soup, and let it cook a few minutes so the mouth watering yumminess can blend together. To be fancy like me you can sprinkle some parsley on top after dishing into serving bowls.

And wah-la, you have the best chicken & dumplings ever. After you come down from your chicken & dumpling euphoria, let me know what you think! Oh, and you’re welcome. 😉

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Fancy C&D with rectangles dumplings & parsley.
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Homemade cream of chicken soup.
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Shredded chicken.
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Dumplings as they're cooking.
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Cutesy star dumplings! They were the perfect thickness too.

Mozzarella Chicken & Rice Skillet

This recipe was passed on to me from my best friend in the world, and she found it on the Kraft website under the “1 Bag 5 Dinners” section (which I recommended to her!). I made it tonight & it turned out delicious! Give it a try…even if it doesn’t seem like your thing…it ends up being a one-pot belly-warming dish that’s excellent for chilly nights.

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Ingredients
1 T. oil (I used olive oil)
4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I only had 3 on hand & I cut them into bite sized pieces)
1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of chicken soup
1 soup can of milk
2 c. fresh (or thawed frozen) broccoli
1 1/2 c. instant white rice, uncooked (I goofed here but it turned out okay…I prepared my rice according to the package but it didn’t affect the recipe at all)
3/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese (or more to your liking if you’re a cheese lover like we are!)

What to do
Heat oil in large skillet on med-high heat. Add chicken (I also tossed in some onion powder & paprika…I’m a spice lover), cook 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove & cover to keep warm. Add soup & milk to skillet, blend well with whisk, bring to a boil. Stir in rice & broccoli; top (or stir in the pieces) with chicken. Cover & reduce heat to low (if you opted to cut your chicken into pieces occasionally stir the mixture so it doesn’t stick/burn). Cook 5 min.; sprinkle with cheese. Remove from heat; let stand 5 min. or until cheese is melted.

Variation
You can use whatever fresh/frozen vegetables and cheese you have on hand. Peas sound like a good choice!

Information to take note of
From: Kraft Recipes
Yield: 4 servings
Cook time: 35 minutes

Leave me a comment & let me know how you like it!

Homemade Starbucks: Iced White Chocolate Mocha.

I’ve always been a coffee drinker and as everyone knows Starbucks has the best coffee around…that’s how they get away with charging so much for it. My first Starbucks love was a Grande Mocha Java Chip with Extra Chocolate. Mmm-mmm good! If you’ve never tried it then you definitely should. My new Starbucks love is a Grande Iced White Chocolate Mocha with No Whip. I’d tried the hot white chocolate mocha & it was pretty good but I’m not into drinking hot coffee during the day in summertime. My Sister was the one who told me about the same thing but over ice. It was love at first taste! It’s good with or without the whip but I’m not a huge fan of whipped cream anyway so I usually do without. My new “relationship” with the IWCM (iced white chocolate mocha) was becoming pretty costly so I started searching for recipes to make something similar at home. I needed a way to feed my addiction without starving my wallet.

Long story short all of the recipes I tested were okay, but didn’t taste like what I was looking for. A lot of recipes I found probably would’ve tasted the same as Starbucks but they called for white chocolate syrup, and the prices for that stuff are not cheap. I wasn’t about to spend money on something that may only get used once & then shoved to the back of the cabinet. I had to let my idea simmer awhile…drift to the back of my brain until a solution made itself known. Eventually it did…I was grocery shopping the other day & it hit me: Why not use white chocolate chips?? I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it sooner. Chips just made more sense…not only are they cheaper for testing purposes but if it didn’t work out I could use them in something else. I also felt like real white chocolate would taste better than syrup. To the baking aisle I went. I feel my end result (after my FIRST test run!) was about as close to Starbucks as I’m going to get at home. Maybe it would be exact if I used their brand of coffee. The following recipe is just how I do mine; feel free to tweak yours however you want & keep tweaking until you get it right for you. Everyone likes their coffee their own way. If you try it out & enjoy it let me know!! Leave a comment! Constructive criticism? Leave a comment! I’d love to know if anyone actually comes across this blog & tries my recipe. =]

You will need:

**1 KCup of coffee or “iced coffee”, or a regularly brewed cup of coffee. (I have been using KCups for iced coffee but it really doesn’t matter, use what you prefer.)

**Ice
**1 bag white chocolate chips
**1/4–1/3 c. Milk or evaporated milk (depends on how milky you like your coffee. I usually use 1/3)
**Cream/sugar just in case you need it.

—First, brew your KCup/cup of coffee the way you usually do. The KCups for iced coffee tell you to brew over ice but I don’t. If you put a little less water than usual it will give it a slightly stronger coffee flavor; you have to remember that you’re going to be putting it over ice which does melt and will water it down a tad. I usually stick mine in the freezer for a few minutes just to help take some of the heat off.
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—In a small saucepan (on the stove, med-high) dump about 1 to 1/2 handfuls of the white chocolate chips & 1/4–1/3 c milk. Stir together until completely melted & combined. I am particular about certain things & one of them is making sure the chips are entirely melted; otherwise you have little white remnants floating around which, to me, is just plain gross.
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—Almost done! Add ice to your cup of choice (I usually use a travel cup because they’re a bit taller), as much or as little as you want. Keep in mind that if you only add 1 or 2 pieces you’ll probably have to add more in order to have “iced” coffee, unless your coffee is pretty cooled off by this point. Mix your homemade “white sauce” into your coffee TO TASTE…meaning…a little at a time, tasting after each addition to see if it’s at a sweetness level you want. If you use all of your white sauce & it’s still not how you want it then feel free to add cream &/or sugar.
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—Pour this final concoction over the ice, give it a good stir, and sip away! You can top it off with whipped cream if you want. It’s your creation…customize it!