Friday, July 29, 2011

Seasoned Potato Wedges

Dinner tonight is a sure crowd-pleaser! Everyone in the family will eat Joe's Sloppy Joes - what a blessing! Tonight they're made with ground turkey and a bit of barbecue sauce. On the side, I'm serving Seasoned Potato Wedges, which our Oldest Girl will certainly not be eating. Well, other than the one little one she has to eat in order to score dessert! But trust me when I say that unless you hate potatoes, you'll adore these scrumptious wedges.

Seasoned Potato Wedges

1/3 cup all-purpose flour 
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
1 teaspoon paprika 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 large baking potatoes (about 2-3/4 pounds) 
1 cup milk 
1/4 cup butter, divided

In a resealable sandwich bag, combine the flour, Parmesan cheese, paprika, salt and pepper. Cut each potato into eight wedges; dip in milk. Place in the bag, a few at a time, and shake to coat. Place on a greased, foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons butter. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 20 minutes. Turn wedges; drizzle with remaining butter. Bake 15-20 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender and golden brown.

We dip them in ketchup and sometimes the kids use ranch.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Homemade Ice Cream

Though I am not a big fan of ice cream, my family loves the stuff. Since we don't have an ice cream maker, I have experimented over the years with sherbets, sorbets, and other recipes that don't require a maker. Today I found the perfect solution: a method for making ice cream without a machine! You can use any recipe you like using this method. Sure, it's a little time-consuming, but if you love ice cream and don't want to invest in an actual ice cream maker, this is perfect!

I can't wait to try this out!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sunday Night Review

By request, I made calzones for this Sunday night. It's one of those things I serve that everyone loves, more or less because they can customize it to their own taste. My general routine for feeding my college people calzones is to make a double batch of pizza dough the day before. Sunday morning at church I try to find everyone I can who usually comes on Sunday evening to give them a list of calzone fillings. They mark what they want, making sure their name is on the paper. Then, on Sunday afternoon, I make up as many as I can ahead of time. To keep track of who belongs to which ball of dough on the baking sheet, I use cake decorations. A single orange star for the Tennessee fan, brown jimmies for the UGA soil expert, a blue star and a white star for the guy with the sweet blue and white Mustang, purple because it's her favorite color, etc. The fillings this week were green pepper, chicken, onion, pepperoni, ham, spinach, cheddar cheese, mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese.

For dessert I made Tiramisu and they practically licked the bowl clean!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Stretching Leftovers

For dinner Thursday night, I made pork tenderloin in a simple marinade of garlic, rosemary, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. It's one of my absolute favorite marinades for pork! After feeding my family, plus a friend who had come over to babysit the little ones (praise the Lord!), I had about a four-inch section of tenderloin leftover. Not much, but I rarely throw anything away! I'm glad I kept it because today I needed a simple dinner to come together quickly for Handsome and me. I ended up doing two different things.

#1: I NEVER fix sandwiches for Handsome for dinner. He eats sandwiches every single day for lunch: I know the last thing he wants to see on his dinner plate is a square of bread staring at him. But ... he had Dairy Queen and ice cream for lunch, so I bent my rule a bit. His dinner was indeed a sandwich: sliced pork tenderloin, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, fresh spinach, and Swiss cheese. He loved it!

#2: I didn't want a sandwich. I made pasta with my portion of the pork tenderloin. I mixed angel hair pasta, spinach, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cubed tenderloin, freshly ground black pepper and feta cheese. I loved it!

I love taking bits of leftovers and remaking them into something delicious.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Polenta Parmigiana

I mentioned a few posts ago that I had plans for a polenta dish ... well, I finally got around to making it! It was fun, adventurous and in my opinion yummy! Handsome liked it despite the fact that it's not really his cup of tea. Naturally, the children did NOT like it, though I really hoped they would. It was a nice meal-in-one, since there are so many veggies in the marinara sauce. Salad and bread round it out nicely.

Basically, I just combined a few of my favorite elements into one dish. I made Braised Venison (cooked with onion, garlic, rosemary and balsamic vinegar), Marinara Sauce, and White Sauce (with Parmesan) and served them over a dish of creamy polenta.

If you're not familiar with it, polenta is a dish similar to grits, as it's made with cornmeal. It's creamier, though, because the corn is more finely ground. Here's the recipe I used to make this dish the other night:

Creamy Polenta

1 cup yellow cornmeal
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

Bring the chicken stock and milk to a boil in a large saucepan. Very slowly whisk in cornmeal, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Reduce heat and continue whisking until liquid is absorbed and polenta is thickened. Add Parmesan, with salt and pepper to taste.

I used this simple version because the other elements in my meal had so much flavor. If you were serving the polenta as a side dish you'd probably want to punch up the flavor by adding in fresh herbs, cheese, or pesto.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Thank You!

I wanted to post a quick message to all of you who've bought cookbooks:

Thank you so much!

I've had so many people buy a cookbook only to contact me later with requests for more as gifts for family and friends. It means a great deal to know that not only are y'all enjoying the books, you want to share them with others. It's also amazing to see how many times God has orchestrated events that have allowed me to share my books with people I never imagined. One example happened just today: I parked in our downtown in a spot I never intended to be, but it led to an encounter with a friend and the sale of at least 6 more books!

So, again, thank you! And keep the orders coming!

My biggest fans! Yes, they're both reading the cookbook. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Party Snacks

Friday night we had a get together with our college folks - a photo scavenger hunt. This was the third one we've done, and everyone seems to love it. We put crazy stuff on the list like a rotary-dial telephone, a walrus and a Disney VHS tape, along with fun bonus pictures such as "I can't believe we all fit in there!" Anyway, this year we made the finish line a surprise and they had to follow hidden clues to get there. When they arrived, we had snacks set out for them to munch on while we waited for each team to make it to the finish line.

We had eaten dinner earlier that evening, so I really just wanted to have popcorn and sweets. I made Mint Chocolate Softies and Key Lime Bites, Watermelon Sorbet, and provided a few seasoning mixes (Italian Parmesan, Cinnamon Sugar, and Spicy) for people to sprinkle on their popcorn. For punch, I mixed Fresca and orange juice and stirred in scoops of orange sherbet.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday Night Review

Last night I made one of my family's favorites for dinner. It's really easy to throw together, and is pretty cheap, too. The recipe makes a full 9 x 13 dish and I fed 10 with it - even have a bit leftover for lunch today! I also made my standard focaccia recipe. All in all, a hearty cheap meal that everyone likes!

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

1-26 ounce jar pasta sauce (I use my homemade stuff)
1-16 ounce box pasta (rotini, penne, shell, etc.)
3 cups cubed/shredded cooked chicken
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Stir in pasta sauce, chicken and mozzarella. Pour mixture into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. In a small bowl, stir together bread crumbs, Parmesan and butter. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes, until heated through and topping begins to brown.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Women Walking Worthy - July Meeting

I mentioned the other day that I signed up to provide food for the July meeting of WWW. Well, I had 5 young women from the college ministry to help me and we had a lot of fun! Monday, Katie came over and helped me prepare some things ahead of time. Tuesday, Kim came early and helped me at home, then went with me to the church. Hope, Pam, and Tiffany met us there and helped with all the last-minute things. Naturally, I forgot to take my camera for pictures, but here was our menu:

Sliders - With cheese, lettuce, tomato, bacon, ketchup and mustard to go on them! I thought the onion was a bit strong, so I'd go lighter on that next time.

Corndogs - We used this recipe, but I found the batter too thin. I made the classic mistake of adding all of the liquid called for instead of holding some back just in case! You can always add liquid to batter, but you can't take it out. (And, no, I didn't have flour there to thicken it.) Otherwise, fabulous recipe!

Bacon Potato Salad - I modified the recipe slightly by using 2 green onions instead of a cup of white onion, apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar, and Dijon mustard in place of the yellow.

Fruit Flower Garden - Watermelon, kiwi, pineapple, blackberries, grapes, strawberries. We fashioned some of the fruits into flower/butterfly shapes, and placed them in a pretty platter lined with green leaf lettuce and parsley.

Lemon Cream Dip - This couldn't be easier! Marshmallow creme, cream cheese, a touch of lemon extract and a drop of yellow food coloring.

Funnel Cakes - The recipe was perfect! I made "mini" versions so everyone could have some.

Beach Scene Cupcakes - We topped the cakes with a flat layer of icing, dipped them in graham cracker crumbs and completed the beach with fruit leather "beach towels" and cocktail umbrellas.

Strawberry Lemonade Punch - Just like my Strawberry Limeade Punch, with lemonade concentrate instead of lime.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sunday Night

I needed a simple supper this week for my college people. I picked up a deli tray from Kroger with mesquite turkey, buffalo chicken, and smoked ham, plus three kinds of cheese. Unbaked dinner rolls from the bakery made perfect fresh sandwich buns. Lettuce, tomato, and all the usual condiments completed the main course. I picked up a couple of bags of chips, too. One of the college girls came over Sunday afternoon to help me get everything ready. We baked the rolls, sliced tomatoes, prepped lettuce, baked my "secret recipe" chocolate chip cookies (it's in the cookbook!), and made chocolate-covered pretzel rods. All those require is melting chocolate, dipping the sticks in (or in or case, drizzling the sticks with the chocolate) and then sprinkling with various colored sprinkles, jimmies, sugar, etc. We had a little melted white chocolate leftover, and we decided not to let a good thing go to waste: I drizzled it over the cooled cookies. Yum! I was glad we had plenty of food because we had a larger crowd than usual (besides my family, we had 12). What a blessing!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Food Overload

*** Don't forget to get your copy of the Barefoot in the Kitchen cookbook! Email me using the envelope button over to the right and send one on its way to you! ***

I have several food projects/recipes that I'll be tackling over the next few days:

Last night I made a new blueberry muffin recipe using some fresh blueberries that a friend gave me from her mother-in-law-'s blueberry bushes. They were amazing! I'll definitely be making them again.

I'm especially excited about tomorrow morning's Coffee and Cream Doughnuts! I actually don't like sweets first thing in the morning, but these sound so good ... I think I'll make some bacon to round out the meal nicely.

Of course, we have our usual Sunday night crowd, though I've opted for simple sub sandwiches, chips, and chocolate-drizzled pretzel rods.  Mainly because ...

... On Tuesday night is our monthly ladies' meeting, and I'm in charge of the food! I have a great group of girls helping me (college people) and it promises to be lots of fun. We're using a beach theme and I can't wait to see how everything comes together!

I'll also be making a batch of spaghetti (marinara) sauce this week at some point. I have a cool idea swirling around in my noggin involving it and polenta, and I'll let you know how that turns out.

Anyway, that's a summary of a few food-related things going on in my life. What are YOU cooking this week?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pizza Burgers

 I made the brave (crazy?) decision last week to allow my two oldest kids to each choose a menu that they would help prepare this week. The experiment actually turned out really well! The Boy is the one who chose our pizza menu for Sunday night, and today I'll be sharing about the menu our Oldest Girl chose. She combined two of our family's favorite foods and decided on Pizza Burgers. As a side, she wanted to make Creamy Parmesan Pasta. The burgers were a definite hit, and though we decided the pasta could have used more sauce, we really liked it, too.

Pizza Burgers

1 pound ground beef (85/15 for burgers)
1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 hamburger buns

In a small skillet, saute the green pepper, onion and garlic in a drizzle of olive oil until veggies just begin to soften. In a large bowl, combine veggies, beef, salt, pepper, Parmesan and 2 tablespoons marinara. Divide into four patties and grill/fry on stovetop until they reach desired doneness. Just before they're done, top with marinara and mozzarella, cover until cheese is melted. Serve on buns.

I used string cheese, cut in slices, since I was out of shredded mozzarella.

If I'd had pepperoni, I would have chopped some up and added that to the beef mixture. You could also sub Italian sausage for all or part of the beef.

I'll share the Creamy Parmesan Pasta recipe tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Frozen Hawaiian Pie

I was a picky child. Bless my Mama's heart, I was a very picky child. Though I don't have it now, I did have a sweet tooth then. I loved most any dessert Mom made, including this pie. I would have sworn I hated pineapple since I had no idea it was a major ingredient in this yummy concoction! By the time I found out I liked it too much to give it up on principle. It was a sad day in our home when, while grocery shopping, my mom left her recipe book in the cart - never to be seen again. Years later, I found a similar recipe and tweaked it to match Mom's and life was good once more. Here it is!

Frozen Hawaiian Pie

14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
16 ounce container frozen whipped topping, thawed
20 ounce can crushed pineapple
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups shredded coconut
2 9-inch graham cracker pie crusts

In a bowl, combine milk and whipped topping. Gently fold in pineapple, nuts, lemon juice and coconut. Pour into crusts. Freeze until firm (at least 4 hours). Remove from freezer 20 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"Monday" Recap

I know, it's Tuesday. But yesterday with a bit crazy because of Independence Day, so here we are today instead. Sunday night, I made pizza for our usual crowd. Of course, I used P-Dub's pizza crust and then made four different combinations of toppings. Basically, I used whatever I had in the fridge and got creative!

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger - marinara/BBQ mixed, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, bacon, beef, and onion

Supreme - marinara sauce, mozzarella, onion, green pepper, mushrooms, pepperoni, beef

Cheese - marinara sauce, Havarti, cheddar, mozzarella, Italian seasoning

Spicy - marinara/salsa mixed, onion, green pepper, crushed red pepper, pepperoni, habanero-flavored cheese, mozzarella

The BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger was so good I ended up making another one, too! The Spicy wasn't as hot as it could have been. It would have been better with more peppers, for sure, but I was working with what I had.

Dessert was a simple ice cream pie. I crushed Oreos in the food processor, then mixed them with melted butter and pressed the mixture into a pie plate. (15 cookies, 1/4 cup butter) I spread softened ice cream into the crust and topped it with chocolate syrup. Simple! I made two different ones, using coffee ice cream and cookies and cream. Both were delicious!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Turkey Ranch Quesadillas

My kids are picky in weird ways - they will eat spinach but not rice, cottage cheese but not potatoes, pineapple but not beef ... In short, the stuff that other kids live off of, they won't touch! Some of those choices are good, and some are not. I guess I just do what every mom does and hope for the best! The recipe I'm sharing today is a guaranteed hit with my kids. It combines many of their favorite ingredients so they're sure to gobble it up!

Turkey Ranch Quesadillas

4 thin slices smoked deli turkey
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons Ranch dressing
1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves
Half and apple, your favorite, cored and thinly sliced
4 flour tortillas, fajita size

Spread Ranch dressing on two tortillas, sprinkle with half the cheese. Cover with spinach leaves, layer with turkey, apple slices, and remaining cheese. Top with remaining tortillas. Heat a medium skillet over medium hat. Add quesadilla, cook for 3-4 minutes per side, until heated through. Cut each quesadilla into quarters and serve warm.