Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Tribute to My Gram & Her Pickled Beets

Last week my Grandma Walters passed away. Grandparents and grandchildren share a very special relationship, and this was very true for my Gram Walters and I. She wasn't just my Grandma, but my friend, confidant, shopping buddy, and cooking mentor. My Gram was an extraodinary cook. She is the main reason I wanted to learn to cook once I got married - Grandma lovingly cooked for my Grandpa, her children, and Grandchildren as long as she was physically able to. Every dish she made was an effort of love. 

I decided to devote the next several recipes on my blog to to my Gram as a tribute to her. I just spent the last hour or so going through the family cookbook that the Walters women put together a few years ago and browsing through some of Gram's cookbooks that I inherited. It is bittersweet to revisit the memories of my Gram, and remember sitting in her kitchen surrounded by the smells of her home cooked food. I hope you will enjoy learning a little bit about Grandma as I share more of her best loved recipes and honor the life of the woman I was so blessed to call my Gram. 
This photo is of my Grandma and her four children (my Mom is the toe head on the bottom left) at one of their summer vacations to the lake. My Mom says one of her best childhood memories is the week they spent swimming, fishing, looking for frogs, roasting marshmallows and drinking soda (Grandma and Grandpa did not buy soda except on special occasions). 

Back to the food!
Here's a list of Gram's recipe that were previously posted:
Crab Salad
Three Bean Salad
Monkey Bread
Creamy Cucumber Salad

I have also added the label "Gram's Kitchen" to her recipes so that they can be organized all together. 

Today I am going to share Gram's Pickled Beets. These beets were almost always in Gram's fridge. She would serve them with just about every Sunday dinner and I never passed them up. They are sweet, tangy, and get better the longer they sit in the fridge. 
Gram's Pickled Beets
Printable Version
2 cans drained beets
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
Sprinkle of caraway seeds (I didn't have these on hand, so substituted celery seed - bad idea!)
3 or 4 cloves
1 onion, sliced very thin
Boil vinegar and sugar together for five minutes. 
Pour over drained beets and add remainder of ingredients. Let set overnight. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Creamy, Cheesy Bow Tie Tuna Pasta

I borrowed this recipe from Megan at Food and Whine and renamed it to include the words "creamy, and cheesy" because this pasta dish is super duper creamy and cheesy, not to mention easy and yummy! With a whole can of cream of mushroom soup, a dollop of sour cream, and lots and lots of melted cheese, this pasta dish is my new favorite! I loved the crunch of the green onions and the subtle tuna flavor but I am going to keep playing with it and add in some different veggies next time instead of the red pepper, like some fresh mushrooms and diced tomatoes. Thanks to Megan for letting me take and take from her cooking repertoire!
Creamy, Cheesy Bow Tie Tuna Pasta
From Food and Whine

Printable Version

3 cups bow tie pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
2 green onions, sliced
1 can flaked light tuna in water, drained
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, minced

Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add in the red pepper and garlic and saute for 3 minutes.
 Add in the remaining ingredients. 
Cook until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted.
Remove from the heat and combine sauce with the pasta. 
Garnish with minced basil.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Egg in a hole

I don't know I have gone almost 30 years on this Earth without ever knowing about Egg-in-a-hole, one of the simplest and cutest egg and toast breakfasts in existence. It's an egg over easy cooked in a hole that you make in toast, then fry in butter and salt and pepper. Apparently Egg-in-a-hole is a traditional English breakfast and goes by several others names like Frog in a pond, Egg in a basket, Bird's Nest Egg and many, many others that I just don't feel like listing. It's my new favorite thing because as I've mentioned before, I looooove eggs and looooove breakfast. 
Egg in a hole
Discovered on TK

Printable Version

1 piece of bread, the thicker the better
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat a skillet over medium heat and melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan. Cut a circle (or square, or triangle, or heart) out of the center of the piece of bread.
Butter both sides and the cut out with the remaining butter.
Place bread in the pan and crack an egg right in the center of the hole. Toast the small cut out in the pan. 
Fry egg and toast until the egg is white, then flip and cook other side until desired doneness. Pepper and salt to taste. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Elephant Ear Cheesecake

If you like Elephant Ears you need to make this dessert. My friend Amy shared this recipe with me and .2 seconds later I made them. I really couldn't wait - this dessert is that good. It's like two elephant ears filled with sweet cream cheese. I brought it over to a friend's house where people were hanging out and when our friend Mack took his first bite he said, "This is like an explosion of pleasure in my mouth. Thank you for bringing these." I asked him to repeat himself so I could quote him for the blog. Make these ASAP!
Elephant Ear Cheesecake
Thanks Amy!

Printable Version
2 tubes of Crescent Rolls
2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place one tube of the crescent rolls in the bottom of a 9X13 came pan. Seal the seams - do not work the dough up the sides.
Whip together the cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar, almond extract, and vanilla. Spread over the dough in the pan.
Place the other tube of crescent rolls on top of the cream cheese mixture. 
Mix the 2 tablespoons of sugar with the 2 tablespoons of cinnamon and sprinkle on top.
Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes, then cut into squares with a sharp knife. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sweet Corn Risotto & Cooking Gifts from a friend

By sheer coincidence, on the day that I was planning to make Elizabeth's Sweet Corn Risotto for dinner, I received a wonderful package from her in the mail that was full of cooking gifts! It was such a lovely surprise and perfect timing because my hubby left this weekend for a 6 week rotation an entire state away! Elizabeth's package cheered me up and the new goodies (along with her blog) inspire me to keep on cooking fun and new things! 
It's going to be hard for me to wait on using the gifts til the hubs is around, but I know he would love Harry and David Parmesan Flatbread. I can't wait to open up the Cherry BBQ sauce, from Brownwoods Farms, a company in Michigan (where Elizabeth and I are both from). It will taste amazing on some grilled chicken! I browsed through the Easy Appetizers book and think the Cream of Mushroom Soup will be the first recipe I try. The Olive Oil is from a winery in Napa Valley so there's no doubt it's gonna be gooooood stuff!

Thank you Elizabeth, for the thoughtful, generous gift and for being my cooking blog friend!! Thank you also for posting the Sweet Corn Risotto Recipe, which is an Elizabeth original and is so delicious! It's creamy, sweet, filling, comforting, and perfect for when my hubby is gone and I can eat all the vegetarian dishes I want without feeling guilty!
Sweet Corn Risotto 
From Dutch Oven

Printable Version

3 ears of corn
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup Arborio Rice
1/4 cup white wine
2-4 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook the corn through whatever method you prefer (I cooked mine the Siggy Spice way so it would be extra sweet and yummy). After it is cooked, allow it to cool and cut off the kernels. Reserve for later.
While the corn is cooking heat the oil and butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add in Arborio rice and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring the entire time. Heat the chicken broth in a separate sauce pan. Add wine to the rice and stir continuously, letting the rice absorb the wine. Add the chicken broth one ladle at a time. Let each ladle of broth become absorbed by the rice, stirring often. Repeat until rice is al dente and creamy (about 20-30 minutes).
While rice is cooking, puree 1/2 of the corn with the milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
When rice is al dente add the puree and the remainder of the whole corn kernels. Stir in Parmesan cheese and serve immediately. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

30 Things to Make Before I Turn 30: German Potato Salad

It's been over an month since I crossed an item off of my 30 Things to Make Before I Turn 30. I've been making pretty steady progress on the list, but with 6 months and 10 items left before the big 3-0, I knew I needed to get crackin. 
Here's an updated version:

30 Things to Make Before I Turn 30

1. Cornish Hens [Check!]
2. Homemade Salsa [Check!]
3. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
5. Cheese Souffle 
6. Blueberry Pie
7. Homemade Marshmallows
8. She Crab Soup (Famous in the area where we live!)
9. Beef Pot Roast [Check!]
11. Monkey Bread [Check!]
12. Yeast Bread
13. Sweet Potato Soup [Check!]
16. Scones [Check!]
17. Beer battered fish [Check!]
18. Homemade Granola [Check!]
19. Rack of lamb (Thanks Cheryl)
20. Pasties (Recipe from A. Chris)  [Check!]
22. Lasanga [Check!]
23. Eggplant Parmesean
24. Fettucine Alfredo (Recipe from Mary) [Check!]
25. English Muffins
26. German Potato Salad  [Check!]
29. Chicken Braised in Red Wine
30. Bean Burgers (Recipe from Margaret) [Check!]

I chose German Potato Salad as the next recipe. For some reason I'm really craving potatoes lately. Oh, who am I kidding, I'm always craving potatoes. I originally added German Potato Salad to my list because of my potato passion and because I loooooooove potato salad, especially versions that are different from the ho-hum mayonnaise engulfed version that you see in big tubs at the grocery store. German Potato Salad is a delicious deviation because it combines crispy bacon and sauteed onions with boiled potatoes and is dressed with vinegar, salt, and sugar. It's acidic, sweet, savory and served warm. Hubby and I ate this for lunch because it's so filling and because we kept going back for more.  
Hot German Potato Salad
(Makes 8 servings - if you go to the link above you can recalculate the recipe for whatever number of servings you need)

6 potatoes, peeled
4 slices of bacon
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon flour
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
3 1/2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, but still firm, about 25 minutes. Drain, cool, and slice thin.
Place bacon in a large, deep skillet and cook over medium high heat until evenly browned. Drain, crumble, and set aside, reserving drippings in the skillet.
Saute onions in the bacon drippings until they are golden brown.
In a small bowl whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, celery seed and pepper. Add to the sauteed onions and cook and stir until bubbly, then remove from the heat. 
Stir in water and vinegar, then return to the stove and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for one minute. Carefully stir the bacon and sliced potatoes into the vinegar/onion mixture, stirring gently until the potatoes are heated through.
 Serve immediately. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Strawberry, Lime, and Coconut Popsicles

I scored the most adorable popsicle molds when I won a giveaway from CSN Stores and decided to make my first popsicles "adults only. We had fresh strawberries in the fridge so I mashed them up with fresh lime juice, coconut rum, vanilla rum, and a little seltzer. I wasn't exactly sure how much I would need to fill the molds, so I ended up with extra. I couldn't let such goodness go to waste, so made the leftovers into cocktails for hubby and I. 
The hubs isn't a huge fan of strawberries (he's crazy, isn't he?!?) but he really liked the drinks and popsicles. The lime and seltzer balance out the sweetness of the strawberries. You can taste the coconut but you really can't tell it's alcohol. My first popsicles were a yummy success and even though summer is just about over (tear!), I am going to keep the feeling alive with popsicles all year round
Strawberry, Lime and Coconut Popsicles
An Ashley Original

About 8 fresh strawberries, cleaned 
The juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup coconut rum
1/4 cup vanilla rum
Mash the strawberries in a bowl. Add in the lime juice, rum, and a splash of seltzer. Stir to combine. 
Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 2 hours or until ready to enjoy. 
Use the leftovers for yummy drinks by pouring the strawberry/lime mixture into cocktail glasses and adding in a splash more of the rum and seltzer.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Spaghetti with Beef, Smoked Almonds, and Basil

This summer I bought a really expensive package of spaghetti imported from Italy on suggestion of my friend, fellow foodie, and super Mom, Anne. I kept waiting to use it because Anne said that the pasta was the best she'd ever had.
I decided to go with Giada De Laurentiis' Spaghetti with Beef, Smoked Almonds, and Basil. The combination of beef, almonds, and fresh basil was intriguing to me and I knew my hubby would be happy that this recipe calls for two fresh steaks. I had never bought Herbes de Provence before and although it's expensive, it's lovely! It brings in flavors of Southern France - rosemary, lavender, marjoram, thyme. If you use Herbes de Provence, please share with me your favorite recipe!

My hubby raved about this pasta. He liked the sauce and of course the steak.  I wasn't so in love with it. Although I really like fresh basil, I felt like that overpowered the other ingredients. I could barely taste the smoked almonds. This was not my most favorite Giada recipe - I'd take her Mushroom Ragu, Balsamic Brown Butter Ravioli, or Pasta with Basil Pesto over this one any day of the week. 
Spaghetti with Beef, Smoked Almonds, and Basil
From Giada De Laurentiis

Printable Version

1 pound (1 inch thick) beef tenderloin steaks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling, plus 1/4 cup
1 pound spaghetti pasta
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3/4 cup chopped smoked almonds
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Place an oven rack in the upper 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450. Place the steaks on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the Herbes de Provence on both sides of the steak and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes for medium-well. Let the steaks rest for 10 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.
In a food processor, combine the diced tomatoes, basil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Process until the mixture is coarsely chopped.
Place the cooked pasta, tomato mixture and smoked almonds in a large serving bowl. Toss well and thin out the sauce with a little pasta water if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and chopped basil. Slice the steaks into 1/4 inch slices and serve alongside the pasta. 
**Note: The steaks can also be grilled over medium-high heat on a preheated grill pan or gas or charcoal grill for about 5 minutes on each side.


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