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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Homemade Spaghetti sauce

I know it is much easier to open a jar of spaghetti sauce, and there are some really good ones on the market.  The store bought sauces are great if you are short on time, but if you have a day at home give this homemade sauce a try.  Part of the key to this sauce is cooking it on low most of the day.
Start out with a couple of onions and peppers.  The red pepper adds a little sweetness to the sauce.  Also, add about 3 pounds of ground beef.  I am making a large pot of sauce so I can freeze some for another day.
Chop your onions, and then add to your pot.  Add some olive oil to the onions and sweat them. Boy was I glad my onion glasses worked today.  No tears for me.
Chop the two peppers.  The colors are just so pretty.  If you want garlic you can add it at this time too.  I never used garlic because my mother never used it.
Add the peppers to the pot.  Stir and see if you need to add a little more olive oil or not.  Let those cook for a little bit to soften.
They look just right!
Add the ground beef to the peppers and onions.  I guess now is a good time to mention for our young cooks that you should always wash your hands after handling raw meat.  This is a good habit to get into as you are starting to cook. Drain any fat off the meat when it is browned.  Remember the turkey baster?  Great way to remove the excess fat from the pot.
Now for part 2.  The tomatoes.  My husband likes Hunts and Publix had them on sale this week buy one get one free.  That is why we are having spaghetti.  I use two large cans of crushed tomatoes.  No big pieces of tomato in my sauce.  Two large cans of tomato sauce.  And three small cans of tomato paste.  Now if you do not want to make a huge pot of sauce you can use smaller cans. But still use the same ratio.

All the cans of tomatoes have been added to the meat, peppers and onions.  Stir well especially to break up the paste.
Now for part 3.  The seasonings.  I use salt and pepper, Italian seasoning, chili powder, parsley flakes and bay leaves.  The bay leaves came from my mother's tree so they are fresh and home grown.  Just like a lot of things I make I just keep shaking until it looks right.  But I do have a trick.  I put the seasonings in and let it cook for several hours and then I take out a small cupful and try it to see if there is anything missing.  Sometimes I have a taste tester but I had to do my own today.  I would start with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the seasonings and about 3 bay leaves.  Do not eat the bay leaves! That is if you are making a big pot like mine.  I probably put close to a tablespoonful of the seasonings.  It is easier to add than to take away.
Seasonings added.
My taste test this afternoon.  I ended up adding a little more seasonings after I tried it.
When you are ready to eat cook your pasta according to the package directions. I like to use angel hair pasta.  It is a nice thin pasta.
The finished product.  Add some parmesan cheese on top and pair with the cheese muffins and you have a great meal.
Plus I have two big bowls for the freezer for another day.  Lasagna night be in our future.
I hope you enjoy your dinner and find that the homemade sauce is worth the effort.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sausage Balls

To continue the party foods theme, today I chose to make sausage balls.
Three very simple ingredients make these wonderful sausage balls.  I like using one pound of hot and one pound of mild and mix them.  I also use the Heart Smart Bisquick.  This does not change the taste at all.  I use Colby-Monterey Jack cheese just because I like it.  You can use whatever type of cheese you like.
I bring out the big guns to mix these up.  I find that it is much easier to let my mixer do the work.
I cut the hot and mild sausage packages in half and use one of each in each recipe.  I usually make a double batch when I make them and put them in the freezer to use when I need them.
Add one cup of Bisquick at a time and mix.
After the third cup of Bisquick is added and mixed...
Add the two cups of cheese and mix.
This batch is fully mixed and ready to roll into balls.
I roll them and put them on a cookie sheet so I can put them in the freezer for a couple of hours.
When all of this batch is rolled start over again with the second batch.
This is both batches rolled and ready for the freezer.  As you can tell the balls start getting bigger the closer to the end.  I really get tired of making all these balls.
I had to bake a couple of them to taste to make sure they were fit to eat. :) If they are not frozen I bake them at 375 for about 15 minutes.  If they are frozen they take about 20-22 minutes.

Sausage balls Recipe

3 c Bisquick
1 lb sausage
2 c cheese

Mix together well and then roll into balls.  If you do not use them right away freeze to be used later.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wedding/party mints

With wedding and shower season upon us I have had request for my mint recipe to be shown here.  So today I am going to show you how to make your own mints for a party, shower, or wedding.
I am going to show you what is needed for one recipe of the mints.  If you are going to make them for a party you will need to make many more recipes.  Cream cheese, powder sugar and peppermint extract is all you really need to make these delicious mints.
You need to have softened cream cheese.  The recipe calls for 3 oz of cream cheese.  If you are making more you can use the 8 oz blocks and use the fat free or lite version if you prefer. To that start by adding 1 c of powdered sugar.
You will need to use your hand mixer and be very careful because if you don't you will have powdered sugar all over your kitchen.  Add another cup of powdered sugar.  Also add between 1-2 1/2 teaspoons of peppermint extract.
You will add a total of 3 cups of sugar.  If you want to add color to the mints you can do this now.  I decided to add some pink.  This is a gel color I had. You can use food coloring and I think it might mix better.
Mix well.  As you can see it is a little speckled.  I think the liquid food coloring would have mixed better.
Completely mixed. Ready for the molds.
Before you put the ball of mint in the mold you need to roll it in a little sugar to keep it from sticking.
I chose this mold today.  It is just a simple flower mold.  Walmart, Hobby Lobby and any other craft store have different types of candy molds.  Usually they will have some wedding and baby ones.  If you want something more specialized try a cake store.  We have one here in town that has thousands of different kinds of molds.  These molds can be used with the chocolate wafers as well. But that is for another day.
Roll the mixture into a small ball.  The size of the ball depends on the size of the mold.
Drop in the sugar and roll around.

Press the ball into the flower in the mold.
Completed mold.  If you are making them for a party you will want to have more than one mold to use. They are relatively inexpensive so you could purchase 3 or 4 to use.  When the mold is full pop into the fridge for a few minutes.
Now if you want to make some mints and do not have molds do not worry.  Line a cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment paper.
Roll the mints into a ball, roll in sugar, and place on the cookie sheet.  Then dip a fork in the sugar and like you were making peanut butter cookies make an indention onto the top.
When the sheet is full pop it into the fridge for a few minutes for them to get firm.  You will have to store them in the fridge until you are ready to use them.
Take the mold out of the fridge and pop out the mints.  You can turn the mold over and press on the back of the indentation and they should pop right out.  Store in an air tight container and keep in the fridge.
I hope you enjoy making and eating these mints at your next party.

Party Mint Recipe

3 oz cream cheese
3 c powdered sugar
1- 2 1/2 t peppermint extract
color gel or food coloring if color is desired
1/4 c sugar for rolling

Mix softened cream cheese with one cup of powdered sugar at a time until completely mixed.  Add the extract and color if desired.  Roll into small balls and roll in sugar.  Press into molds or use fork to press to make a coin sized mint.

Enjoy your party.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

As we spend time with family and friends today grilling out and having fun  take a moment to remember those past and present that have made this day possible.  Let's thank those that protect and defend the way of life that we take for granted each and every day.  Let's also thank those families that have had to stay behind and celebrate holidays and family events without loved ones that are serving in foreign lands.

Now on to dinner.  I thought I was going to have a guest chef today showing us how he made his delicious pork shoulder.  But he informed me that he would not share his recipe with me or my blog because it was "a family secret recipe". So no pork shoulder for you sorry.
Speaking of ancient family secret recipes I don't know if you have tried Bush's grilling baked beans but if you haven't you really need to try them.  I like the Southern pit barbeque flavor.  All I have to do is add a little Dreamland sauce and pop them in the microwave for a couple of minutes to heat and they are as good as mine but with a lot less work involved.  Check them out.  Publix has them buy one get one free this week.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pioneer Woman Steak Sandwich

I found this recipe about two years ago and it has become a family favorite.  It was originally from the Pioneer Woman but I have made some modifications to it.
What you will need for this delicious sandwich are the following: cubed steak, green bell pepper, onion, butter, Archies or some kind of steak sauce, bread and cheese.
Melt a little butter in a skillet.
While the butter is melting slice a medium onion or two.  (I like onions)
Add the onions to the melted butter and add a couple of tablespoonfuls of steak sauce.
While the onions are "sweated" a little cut the pepper in strips.  You don't have to have peppers if you don't like them.  If I don't have them on hand the onions alone are fine.
Add them to the skillet as well to cook down a little.
Now it is time to cut the cubed steak.  You will want to cut this in strips against the grain.  If you cut it along the grain it will fall apart.  It would probably still taste good but it will be very messy.
You don't have to have small strips and they don't even have to be the same size.
Take up the peppers and onions and put them in a bowl for a few minutes while we brown the meat.

Put some more butter and steak sauce in the skillet to melt.
Layer the meat around the pan so that it can be browned.  When brown on one side turn to brown the other side.
Make sure there's no more red.
Add the peppers and onions to the meat and let cook together for a few minutes.
Slice your bread in half.
Butter both pieces of bread.
You will want your bread toasted.  I use my griddle pan on the stove top.  You could put it in the oven to toast.  Toasting the bread makes it really tasty.
Nice and golden brown.  Ready for the meat.
You will want to layer the meat and veggies on the bread.  Can you tell which one is mine with all the peppers and onions?
Now top with cheese.  I used mozzarella cheese this time.  I have also used provolone cheese as well.  Really whatever is your family favorite is great.  I put it in the oven for just a couple of minutes to melt the cheese.
The cheese is all nice and gooey.
Top with the other piece of bread and cut in half.  You will not be disappointed in this sandwich.

Steak Sandwich Recipe

1 large onion
1 large green bell pepper
2 to 3 lbs cubed steak
1/2 c steak sauce I use Archies
2-4 deli rolls

Slice onion and peppers and cook in 1/4 stick of butter until soft and light brown.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Slice cubed steak against the grain.  Season with seasoning salt.  Heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in the same skillet until melted.  Add meat in a single layer.  cook one side until brown, then flip and cook until brown, about a minute on both sides.  Add 1/2 c steak sauce and 2 tablespoons butter.  Add cooked veggies.  Stir to combine.  Butter halves of bread and brown.

To assemble, lay bottom half of roll on plate.  Place meat mixture to bread.  Add cheese is desired and pop in oven for a couple of minutes to melt.  Top with the other half of roll, cut in half and devour.

Hope you enjoy your dinner.