Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Savory Scalloped Potatoes

Delicious scalloped potatoes

8 medium red-skin potatoes, scrubbed, "eyed," and cut into 1/8" to 1/4" slices
3 T. butter
4 T. onions, finely chopped
1 T. minced garlic
1/4 c. flour
salt & pepper to taste
1 c. chicken broth (or vegetable), room temperature
3 c. heavy cream, warmed to room temperature
1/3 c. sour cream
1 c. crushed cornflakes
2 T. butter

Boil potatoes for about 5 minutes until just before fork-tender.  

Saute onions and garlic in butter until translucent, then add flour, salt, and pepper.  Stir constantly until flour has cooked and is smooth, but not browned.  Add broth, stirring over heat until well-mixed.  Add heavy cream, stirring constantly until it just begins to thicken.  Add sour cream

When potatoes are ready, carefully drain and line prepared 10x13 pan with half.  Pour half of sauce over, then top with remaining potatoes.  Spread remaining sauce over potatoes.

If you prefer a topping, crush cornflakes, then toss in melted butter.  Spread on potatoes.

Cover and bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until potatoes are done and slightly browned.

Luscious, rich, and satisfying--wonderful for our Christmas dinner.

What's cooking in your Savory kitchen?


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Forfend Fast Food: Weeknight Chili

Luscious, quick, pantry-based!

Weeknight Chili

2 pounds of ground beef
2-3 cloves of crushed garlic (to taste)
1 can of Rotel with cilantro and lime
1-2 T. chili powder
1 can of dark red kidney beans, undrained
1 can of whole kernel corn, drained
4 cans of tomato sauce

In large stock pot, brown ground beef then remove from pot and drain.  To pot (with meat bits) add crushed garlic and soften a bit before adding chili powder, then Rotel.  Saute until tomatoes are soft.  Add meat back to pot and add kidney beans and tomato sauce.

Simmer for 30 minutes.  Serve with Martha White Sweet Yellow Corn Bread, sour cream, and shredded cheese.  Serves a bunch.  Keeps for a while in refrigerator.  Freeze in individual serving containers for lunches or quick suppers.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pantry Shopping: Red Quinoa Sloppy Joes

Well, it's "pantry-shopping" time of the pay period here on the farm and this is what I selected:

red quinoa
tomato sauce
Rotel tomatoes
buttermilk cornbread mix

The idea was for quinoa sloppy joes on cornbread.  Since they turned out tasty, here's the recipe:

Red Quinoa Sloppy Joes

1 cup red quinoa, washed, rinsed
9-oz. can Rotel with lime and cilantro (may run through blend until smooth)
1/2 package onion soup mix (or more, to taste)
1 cup water
1/2 t. salt
29-oz. can tomato sauce
4-oz. can mushrooms, drained

In a large sauce pan, bring quinoa, Rotel, onion soup mix, and water to a boil.  Cook until quinoa is translucent and germ ring appears, when it has nearly absorbed the liquid.  Add salt, tomato sauce, and mushrooms and simmer until heated through.  Serve over toasted buns, chips, or cornbread.  Serves 4.

The chewy texture of the quinoa gives it some "tooth." What's your favorite quinoa recipe?

So, what's cooking in your Savory kitchen?


Monday, August 12, 2013

Canning Can-Do: Italian Sauce

Italian Sauce will be great
on a cold winter evening!
I've been steadily canning plain tomatoes, but, since we eat a lot of spaghetti during the winter, I decided to put up some Italian Sauce.  Bear in mind that, if you add meat, you MUST process it in a pressure canner.  We don't mind the seeds in our spaghetti sauce, so I do not remove them.

Italian Sauce

1.5 gallons tomatoes (run through blender)
6 cups finely chopped onions
1 finely chopped sweet red pepper, seeded
9 T. minced garlic
2 T. Italian seasoning
2-3 T. salt (to taste)
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
2-3 T. olive oil

Place olive oil in a stock pot until hot.  Add everything but tomatoes and bay leaves and cook until onions are clear.  Add tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer until reduced by nearly half.

Pack into hot jars, add lemon juice, and process in water-bath canner as follows:

Size                Lemon juice            Processing time
Pint                    1 T.                    35 minutes
Quart                  2 T.                    40 minutes


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Canning Can-Do: Saucy Salsa

It's worth the work!
Salsa is a favorite treat in our household, so, of course, I thought I'd try canning a few jars.  We prefer ours a bit on the sweet side, so we add a bit of lime juice.  Here's what we came up with:

Saucy Salsa

10 c. tomatoes, finely chopped
5 c. sweet red peppers, seeded & chopped finely
5 c. finely chopped sweet onions
3 large seeded jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
1 c. cider vinegar
0.5 c. lime juice
4 T. chopped garlic
1 T. salt (or to taste)
2-3 T. minced cilantro

Aren't they lovely?
Combine in non-reactive stock pot and cook until onions are clear.  Seal in hot half-pint or pint jars and process in water-bath canner for 15 minutes.  Yield:  7 pints

Monday, August 5, 2013

Relishing Your Food: Piccadilly Dill Chow Chow

Last week I wrote about my latest batch of chow chow, but realized that I was ignoring the dill-lovers in the family.  I was a bit nervous about it, but both the dill-lovers in the house have added it to several sandwiches!  So, here's my take on Piccadilly piccalilli:

Dill chow chow is a bit greener
than regular chow chow!

Piccadilly Dill Chow Chow

1.5 c. chopped green tomatoes
4 c. chopped cabbage
2 c. chopped onions
2 c. sweet green pepper, chopped, seeds removed
0.5 c. pickling salt
4 c. vinegar
2 T. sugar
2 T. minced garlic
4 t. pickling spices
3 T. brown mustard seed
2 T. dill seed
1 t. turmeric
1 c. water

Mix vegetables together and place in gallon jar.  Dissolve salt in 8 cups of warm water; pour over vegetables and let stand in a cool place overnight.  Drain, and press dry.  Tie pickling spices, 2 T. mustard seed, & 5 t. dill seed into double coffee filters.  Warm vinegar and add sugar, garlic, turmeric and spice bags into vinegar; simmer for 5 minutes, add vegetables and remaining spices (1 t. dill seed, 1 t. mustard seed) into vinegar and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove spice bags, then seal in half-pint jars, leaving 0.25" headspace.  Process in boiling water-bath canner for 10 minutes.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Relishing Your Food: Chow Chow

The melange of vegetables really shines
in this less-sweet version of the classic relish.
In my childhood, purple hull peas were frequently part of the menu.  When you eat as many as we did, you need a little something to spice up the flavor.  My grandmother often made what we called Chow Chow, but is known in many other places as Piccalilli.  Since you rarely see it in the grocery, and I'm in canning mode this summer, I decided to try making some of my own.  I do not have my grandmother's recipe so I turned to one of my favorite cookbooks:  Blue Ribbon Recipes.

Hint:  Give yourself a break and use your
food processor to chop the vegetables finely.

Chow Chow Relish

1.5 c. chopped green tomatoes
4 c. chopped cabbage
2 c. chopped onions
2 c. chopped sweet red pepper, seeds removed
0.5 c. pickling salt
3 T. mustard seed
2 T. celery seed
1 T. pickling spice
1 t. turmeric
4 c. vinegar
1.5 c. sugar

Mix vegetables together and place in gallon jar.  Dissolve salt in 8 cups of water; pour over vegetables.  Cover with dishcloth or coffee filter and let stand in a cool place overnight; drain, pressing out liquid.  If too salty, rinse and drain again.  Tie spices (except for ground turmeric which you add directly to vinegar) in cheesecloth or coffee filter.  Add to vinegar and 1 c. water; let simmer 5 minutes.  Add sugar; stir until dissolved.  Add vegetables; simmer 15 minutes.  Bring to a boil; pack into hot jars leaving 0.25" headspace.  Process 10 minutes in water bath canner.  Makes 5-6 half-pints.

I'm already enjoying the fresh summer taste!  What about you?

What's cooking in your Savory kitchen?


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sweet Accomplishments: Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Few things are more satisfying than baking bread.  This recipe is one of my favorites!

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

1/4 c. boiling water
2 T. honey
2 T. salted butter
1/4 c. milk
2 1/4 t. instant yeast  (saf-instant brand)
3/4 c. warm water (100-110 degrees)
1 1/4 c. sifted white flour
2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1-2 T. olive oil

Add boiling water to honey and butter, stirring until dissolved.  Let cool until 100-110 degrees.

Sprinkle yeast over warm water in mixer bowl and mix just a few turns until dissolved.  Add milk mixture and start mixer on low.  Gradually add white flour, then 1 1/4 c. wheat flour.  Beating until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Gradually add remaining flour, finishing by hand, if necessary.  Turn out onto lightly floured board and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Knead for 10 minutes, then turn in oiled bowl.  Let rise until double in size (about 1 hour).  Punch down while forming into a loaf, and fit into a prepared loaf pan.  Allow to rise until double again (about 30 minutes).  Preheat oven to 375 degrees during the last rise.  Loaf is done when it sounds hollow inside.  Remove from pan immediately and cool away from drafts.

Yield:  one loaf
Based on recipe from Blue Ribbon Recipes

Friday, June 28, 2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

I Could Become a Southern Vegetarian . . .

I was so excited when I learned that Amy Lawrence and Justin Fox-Burks (the lovely folks from the Chubby Vegetarian blog) had garnered a cookbook deal!  I enjoyed the blog and, I now confess, I had admired Amy's home-made treats from across the lunch table.  They looked tasty.

As much as I'd like to move meat to a peripheral role in my diet, most of the many vegetarian recipes I have tried have tasted a bit, well, weedy.  From the way Amy described the recipes, it sounded like the remedy.

In early May, my own personal copy of The Southern Vegetarian landed in my mailbox.  The writing, of course, is engaging, and the recipes reflect the creativity and variety we've come to expect from the Chubby Vegetarian.  The pictures are deliciously rich, too.

The test

My May schedule precluded any serious cooking, so I merely drooled over the recipes until the first of June.  Since I'm a meat-lover, I tried their "mushroom meat" recipe.  It is a combination of mushrooms, eggplant, and onion which are finely chopped and then roasted.

A food processor is recommended, and would have made short work of the prep, but my work bowl had suddenly gone MIA, so I did all the work by hand.  I mixed the chopped vegetables with the seasonings and spread them in a pan lined with the southern equivalent of parchment:  aluminum foil with cooking spray.

After roasting at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, the smell was amazing, but the vegetables were more mushy than I would have liked.  I ended up roasting them for nearly an hour, especially to get the onions browned.  On my next batch, and I do plan to try it again, I will mince the onions (finely), and cut the eggplant and mushroom into smaller pieces to improve texture and reduce cooking time.

The verdict

Mushroom meat was tasty on toast, and I found I could not resist nibbling on it while it was cooling.  I can see it replacing meat in lasagna and casseroles.

What's next on the list to try?  Perhaps Oyster Mushrooms Rockefeller, but I'm looking forward to working my way through the book.  You should, too.

What's cooking in your Savory kitchen?


Monday, March 4, 2013

Savory Fundraiser Spaghetti Sauce

Savory Fundraiser Spaghetti Sauce
We're having a spaghetti benefit dinner at church so the Resident Dragon has been cooking meat sauce all week.  The recipe takes a little time, but it makes a large quantity.  The original was a bit too highly seasoned for me, so I've adjusted it.  Enjoy.

Savory Fundraiser Spaghetti Sauce

3 lb. ground chuck (I prefer 90/10)
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1 button garlic, minced
1 T. salt
1 t. black pepper, freshly cracked
1 T. chili powder
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1 t. Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
4 cups tomato juice
15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 can water

Brown meat, drain off fat.  Saute vegetables, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add seasonings and continue cooking for about 2 minutes.  Add tomato juice, sauce, and meat, and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Serve over cooked pasta.

Makes 3 quarts (closer to a gallon).

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Dragon's German Comfort Food

Just yum.
Even though the days feel like spring, the nights are still cool enough that I long for something substantial for supper.  Fortunately for me, the Resident Dragon enjoys cooking.  Since we're both Scot-Irish-German, our comfort foods usually include potatoes.  This is less a recipe than an idea.

Onions, chopped
Garlic, minced
Seasoning Salt
Italian seasoning
Baked potatoes, cubed with skin on
Summer sausage or kielbasa

Slice sausage and saute until done and browned.  Remove sausage, but add onions to the sausage pan, and saute until clear, adding garlic at the very end.  Add potatoes, seasoning salt, and Italian seasoning to taste.  Cook until potatoes are well-coated and browning.  Add cooked sausage back and warm through.

Experiment by adding cooked vegetables, switching out your meat & spices, or adding sweet potatoes!

Make in large quantities and keep in refrigerator to enjoy after that long day at work!

What's cooking in your Savory kitchen?


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Great Recipe Site

Veggies rock!
Congratulations to Amy Lawrence and Justin Fox Burks!  Their Chubby Vegetarian blog is featured in a Meatless Monday over at Mother Earth News.

They are also up for a Homie at as Best Recipe site!

Take a look at their wonderful site, then hop on over to and cast your vote!


Easy Recipe: Sausage Grits Scramble Cup

Who says you have to eat out?
The Resident Dragon has gotten on the home-made fast food bandwagon with his version of a Krystal Scrambler.

The easy directions

He prepares grits according to the package directions.  He uses some of my baked sausage, and scrambles eggs.  Then he layers them in reusable containers (bottom to top):


Be sure to leave extra room for the breakfast to swell as it warms.  He stores them in the freezer, then pops them in the microwave for 2-5 minutes depending upon how hot you want them, and the power of your microwave.

He added some sausage gravy . . .

The analysis

The Krystal version is about $3.  While I have not calculated the exact savings, consider that grits cost no more than $1 per pound (which is a lot of grits), eggs are about $0.15 each, the sausage about $0.50, and the cheese about $0.50 for an estimated cost of $1.55.

If you don't care for grits, consider substituting an underdone, semi-mashed baked potato.  Bacon or ham could stand-in for the sausage, and you can prepare your eggs any of several ways.


Easy, portable, delicious!
Do not waste your hard-earned money on instant grits, or oats, or things like that.  Go real; they really do not take any more time than the instant and the real costs much much less.

The verdict

With a little planning, you can enjoy the convenience of fast foods from your own kitchen while saving your hard-earned pennies!

So, what's cooking in your Savory kitchen?


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Easy Recipes: Breakfast sandwich and chocolate

Just because the sun is up
does not mean my brain is, too!
I confess to two morning cravings:  something chocolate, and a hot something which contains meat.  Since I have a McDonald's across the street from work, that means a Sausage McMuffin (370 calories) and a Chocolate Chip Frappe (size depending upon the kind of day I'm expecting--760 calories for the large) for a daily cost of about $5.  My pocketbook and my waistline demand that I do something to reduce both cost and calories.

Let me say that I will NOT get up and cook breakfast.  I might warm it up, but even scrambling eggs is too much for my mental capacity at that hour.  So, I'm going back to an old strategy:  home-made fast food.

The sausage muffin is easy enough.  

Baking sausage allows the grease to drain.
I bake Odom's Tennessee Pride mild sausage patties until done, then pop them into the freezer in an appropriate container.  While the cost of making English muffins is minimal, I usually just buy Thomas' English Muffins on sale for about $0.50 each.

In the morning, I pop the muffin in the toaster, and the sausage in the microwave.  Instead of cheese, I add a dollop of home-made preserves (usually peach) to the toasted muffin before wrapping the warm sandwich to eat on the trip to work.

My chocolate fix

Instead of the frappe, I fill my Thermos travel tumbler with Swiss Miss hot chocolate and it stays HOT until mid-morning.

While the cost of the muffin sandwich is about the same, the cost of the drink is the real savings:  $2-$3 per day.  Over the course of a year, that's a savings of about $720 for 20 workdays per month average.

Calorie-wise, the muffin, sausage, and preserves are about 320 calories, and the chocolate is 220 calories.  That's a saving of 590 calories per day or 1.5 hours of weeding!

A savory start to the day!

Saving time, money, and calories is a great start to any day!  Enjoy your favorite fast food flavors without the fast food cost.

What's cooking in your Savory kitchen?


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Great Gadgets: Getting the Cook into Hot Water

New life for an old appliance!
My name is Nancy and I am a chocoholic.  I enjoy it at all times of the day, but, especially, at the beginning.  Because I'm just not up to heating up a pot in the morning, I've reconciled myself to instant which means 

I'm in need of hot water.  

  • I tried tap water, but that did not dissolve the powdered milk in the mix.  

  • I tried the microwave, which heated the water, but made the cup hotter than shuttle heat shield tiles during re-entry.  Ouch.

  • I considered having a hot tap installed, but they are expensive.

  • I could pick one up at a fast food place, but then I'd feel obligated to order a biscuit, which can become expensive.

  • I really got myself into a stew about the hot water until the light bulb in my mind began to glimmer dimly.

What appliance is tailor-made to heat water?  

The coffeemaker!

So, I dragged out our Black & Decker Versabrew, which has only been used for company since neither the Resident Dragon nor I really drink coffee.  It seemed happy to escape from its remote cabinet prison.  Without even installing a filter, I plugged it in, filled the carafe, and poured it into the reservoir.  In seconds, it began hissing at me, and steamy water streamed (okay, dribbled) into the carafe.  I grabbed a mug, a spoon, and the cocoa mix, and, within minutes, was enjoying a satisfying cup of hot chocolate.

Since its hot chocolate-making utility had given it some claim to valuable kitchen-counter real estate.  I began looking for other uses for the coffeemaker.  The first that presented itself was upon the demise of the iced-tea maker.  (Yes, I know, but I got it for Christmas.)  The death of the gadget did not end the dragon's desire for iced tea.  After a few instances of steeping tea leaves in a boiling pot on the stove, the coffeemaker finally got my attention.

Why not?  

It does make hot water . . .

So, I filled the carafe and dumped it into the reservoir.  Then I took 4 family-size tea bags and (don't tell the Resident Dragon!!!) two green tea bags and knotted the strings together before dropping them into the carafe.  The knot prevented the strings from slipping through the lid into the carafe.  I placed the carafe (and tea) under the coffeemaker basket (sans filter) and walked away.  When I returned, I had perfected steeped tea concentrate--enough to make a gallon!

(Don't forget to compost the used tea bags!)

So, the long-neglected coffeemaker earns its claim on the kitchen counter by making hot chocolate, tea, instant soups, instant oatmeal, anything that requires hot water.  And, sometimes, we even use it to make coffee.

What's cooking in your Savory kitchen?


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

TMN Turtle Burgers

Assembling the turtles!
Today's recipe is from our guest blogger, James.  As a child, he really, really liked Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  He even dressed as Donatello (his favorite turtle) for one Halloween.  He has long since outgrown his devotion to the turtles, but recently created this fun recipe for all of those adult (secret) TMNT lovers!

Delicious Turtle Burgers

1.5 lbs. lean ground beef 12 hot dogs 1 small block of sharp cheddar 32 bacon slices medium thickness, not thin sliced, not thick sliced 1 cup Worcestershire sauce 2 tbsp. Montreal-type seasoning 1. Mix ground beef in a bowl with Montreal seasoning and Worcestershire sauce. Salt and pepper to taste; I used 1 tsp. and 1 tsp., respectively. 2. Mix thoroughly and let sit. You don't want a dry, tasteless burger.
3. Lay out 4 pieces of bacon side by side on a piece of parchment. Trim any excess fat, you want the slices to be fairly straight. Push together any holes.  Be as compulsive as you like, you have to open holes for the "turtle appendages, anyway.
A finished turtle!

4. Weave in 4 more trimmed pieces perpendicular to the first 4. You should have a fairly solid square with fringe on all sides.  This will be the crunchy and delicious shell.

5. Repeat this 3 more times to make 4 bacon lattices.  <Lattices, not just for gardening or microscopic steel composition anymore.>
6. Heat the oven to 450F.  Do it now, it will be ready just about the time your turtles are complete.
7. Take the ground beef and make 8 patties. 3" in diameter and 3/8" thick.  They need to be thin enough to cook through, but thick enough to hold the heavenly center.
8. Put a slice of cheddar between 4 patties and top the cheddar with the other 4 patties.  Now this is a bunless burger!
9. Make sure the ground beef encapsulates the cheese fully. Set aside.  You can't let all that ambrosia go to waste burning on the pan.
Which one is Donatello?

10. Cut all the hot dogs in half making 24 pieces. Take 16 of the pieces and cut toes in the rounded end. Take 4 pieces and make a pointy tail.  I made 2 slices in the rounded end. If you want to get technical, it is 3 fingers and 2 toes, Cowabunga!
11. Put one burger on one lattice and wrap it up.  The bacon will curl, so you can flip them over if you want a flat shell.  I left them belly up!
Our guest blogger!
12. Push the hot dogs through holes in the lattice. All turtles have only 4 legs, 1 head, and 1 tail.  Be sure to not break the cheddar seal. Toothpick them in place if you like.

13. Repeat steps 11 and 12  to make the other 3 turtles.

14. Transfer the turtles to a cookie sheet and place them in the oven for 30 minutes.  Watch an old episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on VHS or run around the house like Shredder.

15. Check to make sure the bacon is not burned. If it is NOT, then give them 5 
more minutes to think about what they have done, or run around the house like shredder some more. It helps if you have a sweet cape and helmet. Limber up before you try any kicks.

16.Pull them out and make sure the ground beef is done. If it is, enjoy!

Bacon is the half shell, TURTLE POWER!

Cowabunga!  I hope you've enjoyed our little turtle celebration.   

What's cooking in your Savory kitchen?


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Easy New Year Recipe: Cuban Sandwiches with Leftovers!

Happy New Year!
New Year's is a really low-key event in our household.  We no longer have any interest in joining mobs of loud people to ring in the new year, so, usually, it's just a quiet evening at home with family and a few friends and a super simple menu.  After the rich, luscious food and the requisite endless cooking from Thanksgiving through Christmas, New Year's Cuban Sandwiches are a welcome respite for the cook.

Here on the farm, the Resident Dragon usually mans the griddle, taking custom orders from each celebrant.  Options include type of bread/bun, types of leftover meats (usually turkey and ham or pork), and types of cheeses.

New Year's Cubana Sandwiches

  • Bun or leftover large roll
  • 2 types of leftover meat
  • 3 types of sliced cheese
  • Favorite mustard
  • Favorite pickle

Here's a great opportunity to
enjoy your summer's pickles!
The basic sandwich:  Slice the bun in half length-wise and smear with favorite mustard and apply a pickle.  On top, layer cheese, meat, cheese, meat, cheese, pickle, and bun top smeared with mustard.  Smash until bread is slightly flattened, then grill on both sides until bread is toasted, cheese is melting, and meat is warm.  Slice in half and serve with chips or fries, and your favorite beverage.  The combinations are endless, but here are a few we like:

Bread and butter pickles
add a little sweetness!

  • The Resident Dragon:  French roll with spicy brown mustard, dill pickles, turkey, pork shoulder, cheddar, muenster, and swiss.

  • The Dragon's Lady:  Onion roll with sweet mustard (recipe below), sweet pickles, turkey, ham, muenster, muenster, and muenster.

Sweet mustard:  To taste, add brown sugar to prepared mustard and allow to blend for 24 hours.

What a tasty way to clean up those leftovers from the old year and begin the new on a creative note!

From our kitchen to yours--

Happy New Year!