Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cheese Grits

This is a Paula Deen recipe with some modifications. The ladies in my Bible study LOVE them so when it's my turn to bring food, they know what it'll be!  I think they think I only know how to make this dish and nothing else.  LOL

1 cup grits (I use quick)
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
4 ounces cheddar cheese, cubed or shredded (1 cup shredded)
3 tablespoons margarine
garlic powder to taste (the recipe calls for 2 cloves crushed)

Bring water to a boil. Slowly add the grits while stirring and continue to stir 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook, stirring often, until the grits are thick and creamy. Remove from heat and stir in the salt. Add a large scoop of grits to the eggs and stir well. Stir egg mixture into grits. Add cheese and margarine. Stir until completely melted and combined. Stir in garlic powder. Pour into greased casserole dish. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes

I thought I’d share my “recipe” for fried green tomatoes in case some of you non-southerners might not know how to make them.  It’s so incredibly easy!

Feel free to skip to the recipe but if you would indulge me…

I don’t really remember my mom making them much (though from the south, she didn’t cook southern food often) but I do remember my Grandma Bonner making them once.  Though she lived in CA most of her life, she grew up in Oklahoma.

During one of my visits with her, she decided that we would go visit one of her brothers (Uncle Bud or Kenneth…not sure which) who was going through cancer treatments.  As it is with most cancer patients, most food just didn’t sound good to him.  But he or someone who was helping take care of him told Grandma that he was craving fried green tomatoes.

So she acquired some green tomatoes and set to work.  I’ll never forget when he removed the towel from the plate.  He was clearly excited that she had made fried green tomatoes and after eating a couple, exclaimed, “I’m so glad you sliced them thick!  Just the way I like them!”

I don’t know how she made them (I was likely too young to help) but I will never forget her doing that for her brother. 

The type of green tomatoes is important.  You don’t want to use green ones that are on the verge of turning orange…they are too “mushy.”  You want to use the smaller hard green tomatoes.

green tomatoes, sliced to desired thickness
self-rising white cornmeal 
oil (I usually use canola)   

Place the tomatoes in the water.  Drain.  Dredge in cornmeal.  Place about ¼ inch of oil in a skillet.  Heat on medium.  Place a single layer of tomatoes in the skillet and fry for several minutes, until brown.  Turn, fry until brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Salt/pepper if desired.   

You can freeze these before you fry them.  Place the coated slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  Freeze completely, move to a ziplock freezer bag.  You can either thaw them completely or fry them at a little lower temperature frozen.  They are a different consistency than fresh but they do in a pinch during the winter when you need a taste of summer.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Broccoli and Rice Casserole

A friend had given me some cream of celery soup but I didn't really have any recipes for it.  I came up with this recipe when we were having company one night.  It turned out great and our friends really liked it!  It's a combination of my grandmother's recipe and my own creation.

14 oz. frozen broccoli florets, cooked tender-crisp and drained
1 ½ cups cooked rice (I use brown) 
1 can cream of celery soup 
½ cup milk 
1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded (6 oz.) 
1 sleeve Ritz crackers (or generic, which is what I use) 
¼ cup melted butter   

Combine broccoli, rice, cream of celery, milk, and cheese.  Pour into greased casserole dish (2 qt. I think).   Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.    Crush crackers and toss with butter.  Cover casserole with crackers and bake 15 minutes or until golden brown. 

You can, of course use all "light" ingredients.  You can replace the melted butter with the spray margarine.  Simply crust the crackers, spray a couple times, toss, spray, this a few times.  Works great!

You can also substitute cream of chicken or mushroom for the cream of celery.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cloth Diaper Information

When I started this blog, I didn’t intend to only share recipes (though I know my readers are enjoying them!).  So today I’m breaking from my recipe rut to share some information regarding how we do cloth diapers. I shared this information over the weekend with a Christian Forums website I’m on.  Most of you won’t be interested but I thought there might be one or two folks that are.  Besides, it's part of my "home" so I guess it fits on my blog.

We use the Diaper Service Premium Quality Chinese Prefolds with the Prorap covers. LOVE this combination! Prefolds with a cover are the cheapest option. And, IMO, the easiest. I also have several snappis and much prefer them to diaper pins. They make diaper changing faster and easier.

I have two sizes of diapers (small, dark green edging; and large, blue edging). I have all sizes of covers except the newborns.

I usually use disposable through the first month or two, then cloth while at home. I do use disposable when we go out. If I don't have any, I have 5 pocket diapers that I use (these go on just like a disposable diaper so they're easy for a nursery worker to use). And oftentimes I'll double-diaper (for toddlers) when we leave the buys a little extra time for the nursery workers or if we're running errands.

I double diaper at night when they get to be older (15 months or so). I usually use a large diaper with a small one in the middle or a doubler (I only have one good one--came from by a SAHM and has hemp in it).

I have bought my diapers from and the prorap covers from different venders, depending on price.

The only times my girls have had diaper rash was when they were in disposables for a day or longer. NEVER from cloth diapers. I do, however, have to change cloth diapers more often than if they were wearing disposable.

My favorite diaper pail is a Lowe's 5 gallon bucket with a lid. I think the combo cost less than $5 and when the lid is on the pail properly (not tightly closed, just nothing sticking out of it and the lid set on top), my nursery does NOT smell. I had a fancy diaper pail before and hated it. Hubby came up with this idea and it's wonderful!

I dump the solids in the toilet and place the diapers in the pail dry. When a diaper is extremely messy, I dump what I can in the toilet, and soak in a bucket over night. This really isn't a big deal.

I place the diapers in the washing machine (I do covers too but have had people say not to do this--my covers are still going strong after two kids) and soak for an hour or two (sometimes overnight). Drain, then wash on the longest cycle.

I either hang them out to dry or place them in the dryer, making sure they get a total of 60 minutes of heat (I have a 60 minute setting but 20 of it is cool-down so after 40 minutes, I turn the dial to 40 and let it run until it stops).

I use wash cloths for wipes when I'm home (buy wipes for the diaper bag).

I don't "fold" the diapers, I just stack them in a clothes basket and put my wash cloths, covers, and pocket diapers in another basket (both of these fit under my changing table--plastic crates work well too). I have a little box on top of my changing table that holds diaper cream and snappis. I keep diaper pins on hand but very rarely use them (unless I can't find a snappi!).

Well, that's a wrap!  Sorry, couldn't resist.  

Friday, June 10, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Candy

I love the recipes I have that remind me of a special person in my life.  Recipes out of a cookbook are fun too but I love being reminded of neat memories of the dear one who gave me the recipe.  This is one of those.

This recipe came from a neighbor of ours (Gladys) when I was a child in California.  Her husband died when I was in the 4th or 5th grade.  I think she had at least one child but they didn’t live locally so my mom became her adoptive daughter and helped her with the things a grown child would.  It was a wonderful lesson in loving your  neighbor!    

When Gladys had to sell her home and move to a retirement center, she gifted my mom with a beautiful teacup and saucer with a teapot that matches.  These are still among the items my mom cherishes and we used the teacup at a recent family tea party.  It was the start of a beautiful collection for my mom and birthed in me a love for bone china.   

I honestly don’t remember how or why we got the recipe.  She must have made it and we liked it, thus she gave us the recipe (isn’t that how recipe sharing usually works?). Her original calls for chunky peanut butter but I prefer creamy; it also calls for “oleo,” the early term for “margarine” (something I had to ask my mom about the first time we made the recipe).   

For those of you who live locally, you may have had the peanut butter bars at Cater’s Market (I’m uncertain of the exact name)…this recipe reminds me of those bars.  I’m not saying they’re as good but they’re similar.   

1 stick margarine or butter, melted 
1 cup creamy peanut butter 
1 cup graham crackers, crushed finely (1 of the 3 packets in a box is about enough—8 or 9 full sheets)—I use my food processor for this but a heavy duty ziplock bag and wooden spoon would work as well. 
2 cups powdered sugar 
1 cup milk chocolate chips (if I have more, I use about 1 ½ cups), melted   

Stir together the butter and peanut butter.  Add the cracker crumbs and sugar and stir well.  Spread into a 9x13 pan.  Allow to cool and harden a bit, then spread the chocolate on top.  If you’re in a hurry to get it done and don’t mind the chocolate swirled a bit into the peanut butter, you can spread it on immediately.  Allow to harden.  Cut into bars and serve.   

I’ve made actual “cups” by spreading some chocolate into the bottom and on the sides of a paper muffin cup.  Place the cup into a muffin pan (so it will hold its shape).  Let them cool and harden.  Fill with warm peanut butter mixture, allow to harden.  Cover with more chocolate.  Cool/harden completely.  To serve, peal off the paper cup.  This requires a lot more chocolate than the recipe calls for.   

You can also spread the mixture into the pan, let harden, cut into small pieces, then dip each piece entirely in chocolate.  I’ve tried different shapes before and discovered very simple shapes work best (squares, circles, hearts).  Again, this will require more chocolate.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Roasted Vegetables

This is my mom’s recipe.  She usually makes a huge batch once a week, then heats up leftovers throughout the week.  It’s a delicious, healthy way to get in those necessary veggies!

You can use any veggies…these are what my mom uses 
yellow and zucchini squash
potatoes (red ones with skins on are yummy) 
green peppers 
tomatoes (they give a little juice in it and it is great for reheating!)    
You can use any veggies—her friend Angela uses turnip roots, beets, etc.    

Wash vegetables and chop up.   Line a black iron skillet with foil.    Drizzle olive oil or Canola oil over vegetables.  Add Italian Seasonings, Ms. Dash's or sea salt. Butter buds are also good (the shaker kind).     

Bake on 400 degrees. (can do 350 degrees).  Check every 15 minutes and stir the pan. Takes approx. 30 minutes to cook.   Reheats beautifully!!  

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mandarin Almond Salad

I made this last night and since my head of lettuce was huge and there was no waste, I made double the dressing and added several strawberries (they were yummy!). When red leaf lettuce cannot be found, you can use green leaf (but it carries a more bitter flavor, in my opinion) or romaine. A friend of mine uses baby spinach leaves and it’s delicious!

If you want to use less oil, use some of the light syrup out of the canned oranges and omit the sugar in the dressing.

Be sure to use white vinegar the first time you make it. I didn’t have any so I used red wine vinegar last night and I have to admit it wasn’t as good. I also didn’t have parsley or red onion but I didn’t miss them that much.

Chicken is also good in this.

This is something you want to use immediately. Since I was making it for just the two of us, I didn’t add the nuts or dressing to the large salad bowl. Instead we added those ingredients to our individual bowls. That way we have leftovers that won’t be soggy or mushy.  When having company, you can do the individual items ahead of time and toss together just before serving.

Candied Nuts:
3 tablespoons sugar
½ cup slivered almonds (I have used chopped pecans and walnuts before and they are good too)

Melt sugar over low heat. Stir in almonds until coated. Quickly spread onto wax paper. Cool, then break into small pieces.

NOTE: I’ve found that I like the texture better when I combine the nuts and sugar and cook over low (low-medium, if you’re standing right there stirring the whole time) and stir until the sugar melts enough to stick to the nuts.

¼ cup oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon parsley
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon sugar

In a jar, mix ingredients, cover tightly and shake well.

1 head red leaf lettuce, washed and torn
1 can mandarin oranges (drained)
1 small red onion (chopped)

Combine lettuce, oranges, onion, and almonds in large bowl (glass or plastic). Shake dressing and pour over salad. Toss and serve immediately.