Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Homemade Corn Dogs

I know we'll be making this one's one of Chris' favorites!

I'm gonna try this one with no eggs, so we'll see if it turns out as good...maybe I can make Julie's and then add the egg and make the rest??

2 cups flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cup milk
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
8-10 hot dogs (we use chicken hot dogs)
vegetable oil for frying

1. Preheat fryer to 375 degrees, or heat oil over medium high heat until hot.
2. Dry hot dogs with paper towels and put on stick, set aside. (I don't put them on sticks, I just turn them with a fork).
3. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bowl.
4. Combine milk and egg yolk into dry ingredients, mix until smooth.
5. Dip hot dogs into batter, then place in hot oil, turning it after about a minute to cook evenly.
6. Cook for just a few minutes until golden brown on all sides.

Orsini's Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs

This is Chris' write up of his Grandma's recipe (her parents were from Italy, though she was born here...but his Grandfather was born there)...

You will need a LARGE Stock pot (think BIG! here)

About a half hour after adding the meatballs to the sauce, you can try the sauce...we love to dip fresh Italian bread into it! It takes all of our strength to not taste the sauce until the meat is cooked through!!!!!!

Also, we have gone through the recipe (as is) twice now, and the measurements do seem to be pretty right on! So, if you follow it exactly, it should be just right!

Ingredients for sauce:
2 lbs spare ribs with bone
6-7 stalks celery
4-5 cloves garlic (or heaping tsp minced)
3 whole cloves
1 1/2 lg onion
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 1/8 cup fresh basil

87 oz tomato sauce
45 oz tomato paste

Directions for sauce:
1. Cook up all ingredients except the tomato sauce and paste for about 1 1/2 hours.
2. Strain fluid through sieve - keep stock! (this is the base for the sauce!) Work remaining ingredients through sieve into the stock. Scrape the underside of the sieve to get all the strained veggies into the stock!

3. Pick pork meat off the bones and add back into the stock. Add tomato paste and sauce.

Ingredients for Meatballs:
3 lb ground beef
4 eggs
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup Peccorino Romano cheese, grated
1 onion, grated, with juice (wipe off grater with piece of plain white bread, adding small bits that fall off while wiping)
1 1/2 cups PROGRESSO Italian Bread Crumbs
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (we freeze ours and grab as needed)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (we freeze this too)
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Directions for meatballs:
1. Mix all ingredients together in mixer.

2. Roll them out into approximately 1-1/2 inch balls. Add to the sauce.

3. Cook for about 1 hour or until done.

4. And, no sauce would be complete without the tasting session! Fresh Italian bread to dip!

These are Chris' notes, before we added the amounts to the above recipe...but they may still come in handy...

NOTE: You probably want to know "how much stuff do I use?" Well, that's mostly a function of taste. For the sauce, you need to use enough water to cover everything and to make sure you get a good base. For the pork bones, a pound should suffice. As far as the parsley and basil, I have no idea. A quarter cup should be enough. I don't really know. You can also add oregano if you like. This is MeMe's recipe. Since she doesn't like oregano, it isn't in her recipe.

Now for the meatballs. Go easy on the lemon zest. Maybe a Tablespoon or so for 5 pounds. Fresh zest goes a long way. This is meat, not lemonade. For the cheese, a good half cup for 5 pounds of meat. Any less would be a sin against the taste buds. Garlic? Lots. Parsley and Basil - see note about the sauce. Not 1/4 cup but maybe a couple of tablespoons. Salt and pepper to taste. Now, for the bread crumbs. Make SURE that you use Progresso - it does make a huge difference in taste! You need to make sure the meatball texture is slightly firm - you want it to hold the shape of a meatball! Add as much as you need.

ALSO - we have made this eggless for Julie, but it's definitely NOT NEARLY as good! We had to add ketchup and applesauce instead of the eggs in the meatballs, and DO NOT USE ITALIAN BREAD CRUMBS AS THEY HAVE EGGS!!!!!! We had to use plain with some Italian seasoning!!!!

Tex Mex BBQ Pork Burriotos

Here's a great quick meal for busy evenings! This is one of our kids' favorite meals!

1 cup of Lip Smackin' BBQ Pulled Pork
1/3 cup salsa
3 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp cumin
1 can black beans
2 cups rice (prepared)
sour cream, guacamole, optional
6 tortillas (burrito size)

1. Make Lip Smackin' BBQ Pulled Pork (we freeze this in 1 cup containers to use for this meal later).
2. In saute pan, heat pork bbq, salsa, lime juice, and cumin over medium heat until hot.
3. In each tortilla, spoon pork mixture, black beans, rice, sour cream, and guacamole in the center. Wrap like a burrito (roll up half way, tuck in sides, roll the rest of the way.

Lip Smackin BBQ Pulled Pork

This is a simple recipe that I found and we make a lot! I've served it at lots of different events and everyone LOVES it and people always ask for the recipe...and then tell me about how they made it and everyone loved it!

1 boneless pork shoulder (3-4 lbs)
salt and pepper
1 large onion, sliced
16-18 oz GOOD barbecue sauce (we like to mix Emeril's Kicked Up and Sweet Original together) - it's nice to have sweet and a little touch of heat
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1. In crockpot, layer the following ingredients, as follows: 1/2 onion, pork, remaining onion. Add salt and pepper. Put in about 3 cups water. Cook on high for 6 hours.
2. Remove pork (toss out water and onions).
3. Using 2 forks, pull pork apart.
3. Place pork back into crock pot. Add bbq sauces and vinegar.
4. Heat on low for about 1 hour or until hot.

Italian Bread Dipping Oil

This is OH SO GOOD!

Ingredients for spice mixture:
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder

Ingredients for Dipping Oil:
1/4 tsp garlic, minced
pinch fresh parsley, chopped (we freeze ours and grab as we need it)
pinch fresh basil, chopped (we freeze ours and grab as we need it)
1/2 tsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Combine spices and store in a spice container.
2. In a small bowl, combine garlic, parsley, basil, cheese, red pepper, and olive oil. Sprinkle about 1/8 tsp spice mixture into oil mixture.
3. Enjoy with fresh Italian bread!

1. Mix together above spices and store in a spice container.
2. In a small bowl,

Diana's Breakfast Pizza

A friend from MOPS, Diana, made this last year...and it was outstanding! I've been meaning to make it, but with Julie not able to eat eggs now, I don't seem to ever get around to it! :-(

Pizza dough
10 eggs
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
4 green onions
handful frozen spinach, thawed and drained
salt and pepper
cheddar cheese, grated

1. Make pizza dough the night before and place in refrigerator over night. Remove from fridge one hour before making pizza, leaving it on the counter to warm up and rise.
2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In large bowl, whisk together eggs, then add red and yellow peppers, onions, spinach, and salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.
3. Using a large rectangle pan/stone (coated with olive oil if not a stone!), spread out pizza dough. Bake for about 10 minutes. Then, pour egg mixture on top and bake for an additional 40 minutes.
4. Sprinkle with cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes until cheese is melted.

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Lemon Dressing

I know this sounds weird, but it is SO refreshing on a hot summer day!!!

Juice and zest of 1 Lemon
2 T. white wine vinegar
1/3 c. sugar
1 T. olive oil
1 bag baby spinach leaves
1 bag baby lettuce leaves
1 lb strawberries
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup almonds, glazed almonds, or pistacios

1. Zest and juice lemon.
2. Combine everything together for dressing.
3. Mix spinach and lettuces together.
4. Slice strawberries, and put on top of greens.  Add blueberries.
5. Top with dressing and almonds.

Gourmet Beef Stroganoff

My step-father-in-law made this for us once out of a gourmet cookbook and it was awesome! We made it too, with just regular button mushrooms, and it was awesome!

3 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup beef stock or store-bought broth
1 pound piece beef tenderloin, trimmed, sliced 1/4 inch thick, and cut into
1-inch pieces, or 1 pound filet mignon, cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup thinly sliced shallots
3/4 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and halved, or quartered if large
3 tablespoons sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh dill
Buttered wide egg noodles

1. Melt 1 ½ tablespoons butter in a 1-quart heavy saucepan over moderate hat.
2. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes to make a roux.
3. Add stock in a slow stream, whisking constantly, and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, for 3 minutes. Remove from
heat and cover to keep warm.
5. Pat beef dry and season well with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon butter
and 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat
until foam subsides. Add beef in 2 batches and cook, turning once, until
browned on both sides but still pink inside, about 1 minute per batch. With
a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate.
6. Add remaining 1 tablespoon each butter and oil to skillet and heat until hot
but not smoking. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden
brown, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally,
until liquid mushrooms give off has evaporated and mushrooms are browned, 8
to 10 minutes.
7. Return meat, with its juices, to skillet and stir to combine, then transfer
to a platter.
8. Reheat sauce over low heat, then whisk in sour cream, mustard, dill, ½
teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (do not let boil). Pour sauce over
beef and serve over noodles.

Olive Garden's Marinara Sauce

OH MY GOSH! I can't believe I haven't posted this one yet! This is our standby, I don't have time to cook, but I want something that tastes like I've been cooking all day!

This is our version of Olive Garden's Marinara Sauce. It took us about 8 years, but we've finally figured out all the ingredients! And it's AWESOME!!! Pair this with your favorite kind of pasta, a loaf of Italian bread (we get ours from the walmart day-old cart for about $.60 a loaf! and freeze it til we need it! Then just microwave to thaw!), and some Italian dipping oil and you've got a better-than-restaurant-quality pasta dish for practically just pennies! LOVE THAT!!!!

This also makes a GREAT pizza sauce and dipping sauce for stromboli!!!!!!!!!!!

3-4 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic, minced
about 1/8 cup diced onions (we freeze ours and pull out just what we need!)
little fresh parsley (we chop and freeze, pulling out what we need!)
little fresh basil (we freeze and then smash, pulling out what we need!)
1 large can petite diced tomatoes (30 oz I about 1/8 cup diced onions (we freeze ours and pull out just what we need!)
1 lb pasta (any shape - we use Barilla's mini penne b/c it's easy for the kids)

1. Put oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onions, parsley, and basil (we just add about a Tablespoon of each). Cook until the onions start to get tender (if onions were frozen, this only takes about a minute!)
2. Add tomatoes and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Cook pasta according to directions on package.
4. Spoon marinara over pasta, sprinkle on Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Cheeseburger Pasta

OK, so this is a pasta dish that tastes just like a McDonald's cheeseburger...need I say more? :-)

1 1/2 cups uncooked penne pasta
3/4 lb lean ground beef
2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
14 oz can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp dill pickle relish (I didn't not add this)
2 Tbsp prepared mustard
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 tsp steak seasoning (we used Montreal Steak Seasoning)
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated
2-3 green onions, optional

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Drain pasta; add to meat mixture.
2. Stir in the tomatoes, relish, mustard, ketchup, and steak seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
3. Sprinkle with cheese. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand until cheese is melted. Garnish with green onions if desired.

Olive Garden's Tuscan Garlic Chicken Pasta

I found this recipe online and tucked it away about a year ago. I finally got around to making it a few weeks ago and it was awesome! Chris LOVED it! He wanted me to make it again the next day!!!

I can't wait to make it again soon!

1 1/2 cups flour, plus
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons Italian herb seasoning
3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 fluid ounces vegetable oil, divided
1 lb penne pasta
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 red pepper, julienne cut
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 lb whole spinach leaves, stemmed
12 fluid ounces heavy cream
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1. Preparing the chicken: Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, black pepper and Italian herb seasoning in a shallow dish.
2. Dredge chicken in the mixture, shaking off any excess.
3. Saute the chicken in batches, in a large, nonstick, ovenproof skillet -- with enough oil to coat -- over medium-high heat for about two to three minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crisp.
4. When finished, transfer the skillet to a preheated oven at 350 degrees F. Cook for approximately 15 minutes or until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
5. Preparing the pasta: Cook pasta al dente (or according to package instructions).
6. Drain and set aside until needed.
7. Preparing the sauce: While the pasta is cooking, heat 1/2 to 1 fluid ounce of oil in a sauce pan. Add the garlic and the red pepper and cook for approximately one minute.
8. Slowly add remaining one tablespoon of flour and stir to combine.
9. Next, add the white wine and bring to a boil for about one minute. Add the spinach and the cream and bring to a boil. The sauce is done cooking when the spinach becomes wilted. Complete by stirring in the parmesan cheese.
10. Preparing Tuscan Garlic Chicken entree: Partly coat the pasta with the sauce, transfer to a large bowl (or individual dishes) and then top with the chicken, the remaining sauce and the extra parmesan cheese. Serve and enjoy.

Stir Fry on the Grill!

We LOVE shish-kabobs, but I hate the darn sticks! :-)
So, I bought myself a whopping $7 grill basket from Bed Bath and Beyond and decided to make my shish kabobs into a stir fry for the grill instead!
It turned out great!

Olive Oil

I know, that sounds dumb, but you can really use any combination of the above and make it according to your own family's likes. For us, I used chicken breasts, cheap steak, shrimp, onion, green pepper, mushrooms, and OF COURSE pineapple! Nothing better than pineapple cooked on the grill with all the veggies! It's a little touch of sweetness in an otherwise savory meal...awesome!

For our seasonings, I used Weber's Veggie Seasoning, Weber's Smokey Mesquite, Garlic Powder and Garlic Salt. A little Crushed Red Pepper would be awesome too, but my 5 year old doesn't like spicy AT ALL :-( Bummer!

1. Cut up all the meat and veggies/pineapple into bite sized pieces and place in grill basket.
2. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on some seasonings (again, as little or as much as you like) and mix around.
3. Place grill basket on grill, over high heat, and cook until meat is cooked through and veggies are tender. Mix with large, long handled metal spoon occasionally.

This is what it looked like before it was cooked, all in the grill basket! Totally worth the $7!

Easy Baked Potato Soup

This is a pampered chef recipe that is super easy and awesome!

I need to get a better picture of this one...but here goes anyway:

8 large potatoes
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp garlic, minced
salt and pepper
4-8 cups water
up to 8 tsp chicken bouillon
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
about 1/4 diced onion (my own addition - really enhances the flavor!)
about 1/4 cup sour cream
pre-cooked bacon pieces
cheddar cheese, grated
green onions, sliced

1. Peel and dice potatoes. Place in large pot, cover with water, and boil for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain.
2. Place potatoes back into large pot. Add milk, garlic, salt and pepper, and mix with hand mixer until smooth mashed potatoes.
3. Place pot back on stove over high heat, adding 4 cups water. Whisk together until smooth. Add remaining water until it's soup like consistency (sometimes I use all 8 cups, other times I use much less, so watch and pour/whisk about a half cup at a time). Add 1 tsp chicken bouillon for each cup of water used.
4. Add carrots, onions, and celery and cook for about 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently, until vegetables are soft.
5. Remove from heat and add sour cream. Mix until well blended.
6. Pour into serving bowls. Sprinkle cheddar cheese, bacon, and green onions on top.

Chocolate Chip Waffles

Who doesn't like chocolate chip waffles?!

2 cups milk
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp canola oil
~1/4 - 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Combine all ingredients in large bowl, and mix until well combined and smooth.
2. Cook in waffle iron according to directions from iron.

PB&J Waffles - egg free!

The kids wanted peanut butter and jelly for breakfast and I felt like making waffles...not sure I decided to try to make peanut butter waffles and put jelly on top! The kids LOVED them! Since the little ones still don't eat peanuts (they are allergic to eggs so we don't push the peanuts!) I used soy butter, which is similar. I notice a difference since I grew up on peanut butter, but the kids don't seem to notice or care!!!!

2 cups milk
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp canola oil
1 large spoonful peanut butter

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing until well combined and smooth.
2. Cook in waffle iron until ready.
3. Top each waffle with jam/jelly.

Crock Pot Roast Beef and Gravy

I made this one time just because I had a bunch of old steak that was getting freezer burn, and it was so good we've made several times since! The steak literally FALLS APART! And the flavor is outstanding!

3 lbs boneless round steak (I don't think it really matters what cut, go with CHEAP!)
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
2 cans (10 3/4 oz each) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 cup water
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)

1. Cut steak into six serving-size pieces; place in a 3 quart crock pot. Combine soup mix, soup, and water; pour over beef.
2. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until meat is tender. Serve with mashed potatoes, if desired.

IF DESIRED? We think mashed potatoes with a meal like this is a necessity! :-)

AWESOME Grilled Veggies

My step-father-in-law created this little recipe, or at least the idea.
We make these a lot in the summertime and they are so good! It's perfect with some grilled bbq chicken!

4-6 potatoes
1 large onion, sliced into wedges
1 green pepper, sliced
1 cup green beans
olive oil
garlic powder
garlic salt
mesquite seasoning
***Time saver!!! - I use the Reynold's foil bags!!!! They make clean up and set up SUPER easy!

1. You can omit this step, but if you have a rice cooker or a microwave cooker, it will reduce the grilling time by A LOT! This was an awesome tip I found somewhere! I peel and slice all of my potatoes and place them in my microwave rice cooker with a little water and cook them for about 5-10 minutes (I check them at about 5 minutes and add time accordingly) until they are just tender.
2. In the foil bag, dump the potatoes, onions, green peppers, and green beans. Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil on top. Sprinkle with seasonings. Fold up the top to lock in all the moisture while cooking.
3. Grill over high heat for about 15 minutes until everything is tender, turning over once in a while.

The ABSOLUTE BEST Breakfast Sandwich EVER!

OK, so I know those are very strong words, but I believe they are true! Chris agrees!

I got the inspiration for this from Panara Bread's new breakfast sandwiches, which are also great, but I think I took them to the next...and top...level! LOL!!!! I could eat these all day everyday!

2 slices Asiago Cheese Bread (I buy day old for super cheap at Walmart)
1 egg
1 slice pepper jack cheese
2-3 slices thinly sliced deli ham
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Toast 2 slices Asiago bread.
2. Meanwhile, put about 1/2 cup olive oil in a small frying pan. Heat until hot and then add egg. Cook for about 1-3 minutes on the first side, while spooning hot oil over the top. Then, flip the egg over and continue cooking the bottom for another minute or so until it's as done as you like it.
3. Put a little butter on the bread, top with egg, salt and pepper, ham, and pepper jack cheese.

A few more pics!

Breakfast Banana Splits

I found this idea online, somewhere, and the kids, they LOVE LOVE LOVE this for breakfast now! They are super easy, totally healthy, and the kids think they are super special treats!
You can mix and match these however suits your kids. We've done with bananas/grapes/strawberries and we've done bananas/grapes/blueberries, bananas/mandarin oranges so far. The kids love them all!

Vanilla yogurt (or you could use a different flavor) - about 1 small container per banana split, but I buy the big vanilla containers
fruit of your choice
marachino cherries (if desired)

1. Cut fruit into bite size pieces.
2. Layer fruit, yogurt, and granola. I usually do fruit/yogurt/granola/fruit/yogurt/granola/cherry.
3. Enjoy!

Chocolate Croissants

So Chris brought home this idea from France...once he even brought me some home, fresh (well, 12 hours old or so by the time he flew home!) from France!
But, who has time to make croissants?! Luckily, Pillsbury! LOL!

1 can Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (refrigerated)
about 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Unroll and separate crescent rolls.
2. Put about a dozen or so chocolate chips on one crescent roll. Fold one corner over to another and then seal all the edges.
3. Repeat for other crescent rolls.
4. Heat according to directions on the package.