Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bacon and Broccoli Salad

This salad is so good, the flavor sometimes haunts me. I crave it, just like a pizza or fries. I just love this salad.

For Salad:
10 slices bacon
1 bunch fresh broccoli (about 3-4 stalks), cut into bite size
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup raisins

For dressing:
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sunflower seeds

1. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the broccoli, onion and raisins. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar and mayonnaise. Pour over broccoli mixture, and toss until well mixed. Refrigerate for at least two hours.
3. Before serving, toss salad with crumbled bacon and sunflower seeds.

OPTIONAL ADDITION: This salad is also excellent with once can of mandarin orange slices added. My hubby requested it this way next time, and he doesn't even like mandarin oranges!

Strawberry Spinach Salad

This is superb. Simply divine. Don't be skeptical of the ingredients list, just step out in blind faith. Trust me, it will be worth it in the end.

2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced onion
10 ounces fresh spinach - rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
1 quart strawberries - cleaned, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Cover, and chill for one hour.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries and almonds. Pour dressing over salad, and toss. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Pineapple Angel Layer Cake

Delicate. Light. Just the right amount of sweet with a tad of tropical.

This is a perfect ending to a filling meal, summer meal, or a diet meal.

  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, in juice, undrained
  • 1 pkg. (4 serving size) vanilla pudding
  • 1 cup thawed Whipped Topping
  • 1 angel food cake
  • fresh strawberries for garnish
  1. Mix pineapple with its juice and the dry pudding mix in medium bowl. Gently stir in whipped topping.
  2. Cut cake horizontally into three layers. Place bottom cake layer, cut-side up, on serving plate; top with 1-1/3 cups of the pudding mixture. Cover with middle cake layer and an additional 1 cup of the remaining pudding mixture. Top with remaining cake layer; spread top of dessert with the remaining pudding mixture.
  3. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Top with strawberries just before serving.

Angel Food Cake, from Scratch

Angel food cake is a deliciously light and mildly sweet cake. The storebought versions are good, but I think every one ought to taste a homemade version at least once before they die. It does require a lot of eggs-but please. Don't just throw away the yokes (as they are not used.) Save them. Use them. FREEZE them, for heavens sake. But please, don't just throw them out. Thank you.

What you need:

*18 egg whites
* 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
* 1 pinch salt
* 1 1/2 cups white sugar
* 1 cup cake flour
* 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350.. Sift cake flour and confectioners sugar together 5 times and set aside.

2. In a large clean bowl, whip egg whites with a pinch of salt until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar while beating, and continue to beat until very stiff. Add vanilla.

3. Quickly fold in flour mixture. Pour into a 10 inch tube pan (don't grease).

4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.

5. When cooling, oddly enough, you need to turn the cake upside down so that it doesn't lose its height. You can do this by inverting the pan onto an upturned metal funnel. When you take it out of the pan, you will need to gently scrape the sides of the pan with a butter knife to loosen the sides but the bottom should pop right out with a hearty thump.

Mac and Cheese

A few months ago, my sister and I went out together and her teenage daughter graciously took care of my two eldest children until they could be picked up by Papa on his way home from work. Only about an hour...but one to look forward to anyway.

On the drive there, five year old Corynn said "Mama. Will we get to stay for SUPPER? Because Samantha makes the best supper ever!"

Curious, I asked what the best supper ever would be classified as.

"Oh you know...those noodly things. With the cheese?!"

At that moment I thought to myself. "Golly. My all-American children haven't ever had macaroni and cheese BEFORE?! That is just SAD."

I don't get the box mixes from the grocery but homemade versions never really floated my boat. But that has now changed.

I vowed at that moment, that I was going to conquer the macaroni. As I tested things, I realized that my palette rejects the crumb topping on some mac and cheeses. I also realized that when it comes to mac and cheese, LOTS of cheese is a must. Finally, I discovered that creating a white sauce turned cheese-sauce was way better than just mixing up cheese and letting it melt.

Here. Let me show you. Here is how it is done.

(PS. Pardon the awful pictures. Odd colored ham doesn't really make ME salivate. It was just the lighting, which STINKS in my house in the middle of winter. When I make this again, if I remember, I will update the photo into something so visually appealing you will be drooling over the keyboard.)

You'll need:

About 12 oz. Macaroni

.....Prepare as directed and set aside.

~1 small onion, chopped
~2 T. butter

....Saute the onion in the butter until it is translucent

~1 T. flour

....Add to onion and butter mixture and stir until flour is coating onions and turning golden.

~1 2/3 c. heavy cream (yeah. you CAN use regular milk, but WHY?!?)

....Slowly add cream (or milk) to the flour-y mixture of onion and stir. Allow to boil over medium-high heat until thickened.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and if you are feeling exotic, sprinkle some cayenne pepper in there too.

now, brace yourselves....

3 cups shredded cheese. ( I like to use a variation of cheeses and that variation almost always includes jalepeno cheese. It really enhances the flavor.)

If you like creamy creamy macaroni and cheese, add the full three cups of shredded cheese to the prepared white sauce...let melt ( always stirring), add to the pasta and cook for just a moment or two more, until it is all melded and the pasta re-warmed. Then feel free to snarf.

If you like baked macaroni with a bit of a cheesy crust here and there, add two cups of cheese to the white sauce and stir until melted. Mix with cooked pasta (which is now in an oven safe pan) and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Bake until golden on top in a 350 degree oven (about 15 minutes)

Creamy Corn Casserole

This is an interesting mix of cornbread and spoonbread. VERY moist, not at all like cornbread, and yet: definitely has a taste LIKE cornbread. OK. I don't know how to explain it. All you have to know is that it is good, right?

I'll never forget: (uh oh, MEMORY ALERT!): It was our first year of marriage. I was a new wifey and had a new home to call my own. If it was nice, it was all me. If it was awful, it was all my fault. I chose to make it nice, although marrying an obsessive compulsive clean guy sorta forced me into that box.

I married not knowing a LICK about cooking. In fact, as a joke, I was gifted an egg boiler thingy because I didn't know how to hardcook eggs. Yeah. Come to think of it, maybe it WASN'T a joke...

Well, had had a few run-in's with food flops (like, every night) but I was determined to fulfill all my womanly roles, and one of them was entertaining. I invited my parents' over for supper, and then worked tirelessly to find some good (infallible) recipes. I cooked, I cleaned, I primped and primed. We sat down to eat after I spent a good portion of time fluttering about the kitchen and on the menu was....THIS. I don't remember what ELSE there was (I mean, sheesh. It WAS six years ago!) but that isn't important anyway. The fact that I remember THIS just goes to show you how...memorable a dish it is.

We sat. We ate. We visited. And then. Moment of truth: I got up to go refill something and as I stepped into the kitchen I heard Dad quietly say something to my mother.

My Dad, southern boy born and raised, said "Now THAT is what cornbread is supposed to taste like!"

No. He didn't say it to ME---that is what made it so special. Because anyone can say "Oh, this is DELICIOUS" out of kindness for your hospitality. And if anyone is going to conveniently and extravagently exaggerate, it will be your dear Dad. The fact that he said it to Mom out of admiration and not to make me feel good was what...made me feel good!

I walked back to my seat just a wee bit puffed up, sat just a wee bit taller, and smiled just a wee bit bigger. A "SCORE" was just what I had been needing after so many strike-outs.

It has been a delicious standby ever since.
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 (8.5 ounce) package dry corn bread mix
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14.75 ounce) can creamed corn
  • 1 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and lightly grease a 9x9 inch baking dish.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. If you really like sugar, you can sprinkle a wee bit on top too. That is one of my secret tricks. But keep it a secret, will ya?!?
  3. Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is golden brown.
This is EXCELLENT served with chili, soups, or beef cuts. I usually make it with a meat the first night, and then crumble it on the bottom of our bowls and ladle chili on top. yum.