Friday, September 30, 2011

Scalloped Potatoes (au gratin) & Fruit Pizza

If you know my family, we LOVE to have people over for food!  Whether it's for a weeknight dinner, a Sunday lunch or just coffee (or ice cream, lol), we enjoy spending time with others.  Since my pastor's wife is out of town visiting her family, we decided to invite our pastor over for dinner.  Yes, we know our pastor.  One of the blessings in going to smaller church (not mega-church), is that you actually KNOW your pastor and his family.  We've actually had them over quite a lot in the 3 years they've been here.  So I've had the chance to make many different meals.  One favored (and often requested) meal is scalloped potatoes (also called potatoes au gratin).  Since I like cheese so much, I use a lot, but you can adjust your recipe to your family's personal taste.  I also use ham, but this can be a vegetarian dish if you want to just leave out the meat.  This is a great recipe for using up any leftover holiday ham pieces, or you can just purchase a ham steak.  I also am including a great recipe I found for Fruit Pizza.  A simple dessert that is very pleasing to the eyes, and taste buds alike! :)

Scalloped Potatoes & Ham

6-8 medium sized russet (brown) potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 (1 lb.) ham steak or 2 c. leftover ham pieces, cubed thick or thin (according to preference)
8-16 oz. shredded cheese (cheddar or one of many blend options)
salt, pepper & garlic salt, to taste
1-2 c. milk
1 stick margarine/butter

1. Place the potatoes, cubed ham, cheese and seasonings in a large bowl.  Mix well with your hand.

2. Empty the mixture into a greased 9x13" baker or casserole dish.  Slowly pour the milk evenly over the mixture.  Take the stick of butter and cut little slabs of margarine/butter and place sporadically over the mixture.

3. Bake for about 1 hour in oven.  I use 375-400 degrees, depending on how fast/slow I want it cooked.  You may also want to cover with aluminum foil for the first 45 mins., then remove foil for the last 15 mins.

Makes about 6 servings.

Fruit Pizza

  • 1 (18 ounce) package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries (halved), blueberries or raspberries, carefully rinsed
  • 2 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
  • 1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained

  • 1. On a pizza stone, press cookie dough into a 12-in. circle. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.

  • 2. In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread over crust. Arrange the strawberries/raspberries/blueberries, kiwi and oranges over cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate for 1 hour.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Heather's Homemade Fried Chicken & Gravy

Since we have a visiting pastor from another country, I decided yesterday to make an all-American dinner of fried chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, veggies and bread rolls.  It turned out very well, and even received accolades of "opening my own restaurant" and "making my own cookbook".  I may one day.  Meanwhile, I can proudly say that this recipe is totally my own!  I was craving some good fried chicken one night when my husband and son were busy at church.  With my new-found love of "tweaking recipes" and trying my own hand at spices, I was quite successful.  So, I decided to add my name to it. :)

You can easily double/triple/etc. this recipe.  I quadripled the flour/spice and milk/egg mixes to accommodate about 12-14 chicken breasts.  Obviously the gravy recipe would change as well.  Oh, and I ran out of white flour, and used wheat, which worked out great! :)

Heather's Homemade Fried Chicken & Gravy
2 chicken breasts, boneless/skinless
1-2 c. oil
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. milk

Flour & Spice Mix:
1/2 tsp each: paprika, chili pdr., season salt, garlic pdr., onion pdr., parsley
1/4 tsp each: salt, pepper
1/4 c. flour (wheat or white will work)

1. Preheat oil in skillet, on medium-high heat.

2. Add all ingredients for Flour & Spice Mix into small size bowl.

3. In separate bowl, beat together egg & milk.

4. Take a chicken breast and dip in flour/spice mix, then dip in egg/milk mixture, then back in flour/spice mix, turning to coat. Place in skillet.  Repeat with additional breast.  Set aside remaining flour mix for gravy.

5. Cook approx. 30 mins. or until cooked (no pink), turning over about halfway through.  Once completely cooked, remove chicken pieces from pan and drain on paper towel-lined plate.

Remaining flour/spice mix
Additional 1 c. flour
1 tsp. chicken bouillon
salt & pepper, to taste
Drippings from cooking chicken, drained of grease
1-2 c. milk

In separate pre-heated pan, add flour/spice mix remains and additional flour, browning for about 1 minute on medium heat.  Add drippings, milk, bouillon and salt/pepper, stirring continuously with wire whisk.  Heat until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Serve over chicken, with mashed potatoes or other desired side dish.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tres Leches (3 Milks Cake)

Last night, at church, we had a fellowship (food!), after our evening service, in honor of our visiting international pastor.  Despite it being a last-minute planning of who-brings-what, it turned out wonderfully!  We had albondigas (spanish meatball soup), beans, rice, papitas (fried potatoes), enchiladas, fresh tortillas, green chile, cream cheese salsa and chips, other assorted items, and tres leches!  It was truly a feast!  Both for the eyes, but also for the taste buds.  Most everyone was impressed with my tres leches cake, and so here I provide the recipe.  Obviously, I don't keep recipe "secrets". Oh, and this is a very simple "gringa" (white girl) version.
: )

Tres Leches
1 yellow/vanilla box cake, prepared as directed on packaging, let cool
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
cups whole milk or whipping cream
1 8 oz. container of whipped topping, thawed
some cinnamon to sprinkle on top

1. Prepare cake as directed.  I actually used additional milk in place of the water called for in cake batter. Bake per directions, then cool completely.

2. Mix together sweet. cond. milk, evap. milk and whole milk/whipping cream.

3. Poke a bunch of holes (using fork or something the size of a pencil) all over the cake.

4. Slowly pour the milk mix over the entire cake, allowing it to soak up the milks.

5. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours, again, allowing cake to soak up milks.

6. Before serving, top with whipped topping and sprinkle with some cinnamon.  You could also replace the cinnamon with fresh berries on top.

Now I was actually able to double up this recipe with 2 box cakes.  Then I added about an additional cup of whole milk into the milk mixture.  Worked great!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Frito Pie (Chili beans with corn chips), English & Espanol!

Yesterday we had the privilege of picking up an international pastor from the airport.  He is from Panama, which is mostly Spanish speaking.  As we met up with him at the baggage claim (which took DIA a VERY LONG time to get the baggage delivered), we had quite a bit of time to try a small amount of Spanish on him, and his small amount of English on us.  Needless to say, it was quite interesting indeed.  Just standing there with a person from another country reminded me of our own adventure in another country.  I will never forget standing at the baggage claim in Mumbai International Airport.  A very nice Indian girl helped direct us a little, since she is from there, but lives in the US and knew English very well.  Later on, I regretfully realized that I wished I had gotten her name and number.  But alas, hindsight is 20/20.

So, once we finally retrieved our pastor friend's luggage, we headed home, into the sunset (literally!).  Since I knew we needed to have dinner ready for his arrival, I decided on Frito pie as the dinner of choice.  Something that can easily be made ahead of time, and thrown in the crockpot for awhile to simmer and wait for us.  Needless to say, he was very satisfied, and even asked for the recipe.  I decided to type it up, so that I could just run it through Google Translate.  So, thought I might as well post it here to share as well, both in English and Spanish.  Pardon any translation blunders that may occur...obviously, not my fault! :)

Chili beans with corn chips – Frito Pie (in English)

3 cups beans, sorted and rinsed
1-2 pounds ground beef
2 tablespoons bacon grease
1-2 cups canned or fresh tomatoes, or tomato sauce
4 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 ½ teaspoon cumin powder
2 ½ teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon red cayenne powder

Presoak beans overnight.

Precook ground beef, drain out grease.  Then, add all ingredients in pressure cooker.  Cook for 45-60 minutes.

Add salt to taste.

Serve with Frito corn chips (or other corn chips), cheese, cilantro, onion & fresh diced tomatoes.

Los frijoles con totopos de maíz (en espanol)

3 tazas de frijoles, ordenados y enjuagados
2.1 libras de carne molida
2 cucharadas de grasa de tocino
1-2 tazas de tomates enlatados o frescos, o salsa de tomate
4 cucharadas de chile en polvo
2 cucharadita de ajo en polvo
2 ½ cucharadita de comino en polvo
2 ½ cucharadita de cilantro en polvo
1 cucharadita de orégano
½ cucharadita de pimienta de cayena en polvo de color rojo

1. Remojo los frijoles durante la noche.

2. Cocine la carne de tierra, drenaje de la grasa. A continuación, agregue todos los ingredientes en una olla a presión. Cocinar durante 45-60 minutos.
Add salt to taste.

3. Servir con chips de maíz Frito (o de otros chips de maíz), queso, cilantro, cebolla y tomates frescos cortados en cuadritos.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mexican Hamburgers

Okay, so here is Erin's request for my tasty Mexican Hamburgers.  The green chile is versatile...either use it in this recipe, on top of scrambled eggs and potatoes, or just in a big bowl with a warm tortilla.  Perfect for anytime!

You'll need the following:
green chile (a nice big potfull, recipe below)
tortillas (1 per person)
hamburgers (1 - 1 1/2 per person)
refried beans (1/2 c. per person)
cheese (as desired)
lettuce/tomato/onion garnish (optional)

Green Chile Recipe
1-2 Tbsp. oil
1-2 lbs. diced pork
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. chicken bouillon
1 can (12-16 oz.) chili-ready tomotoes
1 package frozen green chile mild or hot (or desired amount of fresh)
4-6 c. water

1. Heat pan to medium-high.  When hot, add oil for a minute, then add in diced pork (carefully, since oil may splatter).  Brown for about 5-10 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook for about 1 minute.  Add in flour and stir well, for about 1 more minute.  Now add remaining ingredients, bringing to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 45 mins.

2. Cook thoroughly desired amount of frozen hamburgers (or fresh), approx. 1-1 1/2 per Mexican hamburger.

3. Have beans warm and ready.

4. Warm up tortillas, then place on plate.  Spread a serving of beans on half the tortilla.  Sprinkle on some cheese, then top with a cooked hamburger pattie.  Fold over tortilla.  Add generous amount of green chile and cheese, and any other desired garnish.  Serve and enjoy! :)

Indian Chicken Soup

Well, seems as though sickness (aka: a cold) has decided to visit our family again.  It's been awhile, thankfully.  But lo, the hubby and I are sick.  And one of my favorite comfort foods for the cold is chicken soup!  Many months ago I was going to make some, and felt inspired to tweak my recipe to reflect an Indian dish.  It's probably not really "authentic", but it's pretty good.

Indian Chicken Soup
3 chicken breasts, boneless/skinless
1 tsp. each ginger/garlic paste
1/2 onion, chopped
1 pkg. frozen mix veggies
some cabbage, chopped (optional)
1/4 c. chicken bouillon granules
1 tsp. each: turmeric, cumin, garam masala
1 bay leaf
1 serrano chile, de-seeded and chopped
1-2 tomatoes chopped
handful chopped cilantro
5-6 c. water

Combine all ingredients in pot, bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium/low and simmer for about 45 minutes.

(Chicken can either be:
~ cubed before cooking
~ or, you can pull out the cooked chicken pieces, cut up and return to pot before serving.)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Perfect Pintos

Everybody loves to have a good bean recipe under their belt, and after much research, including combining and tweaking recipes, I have finally got mine!  Sorry for the delay, but here it is!

2 c. dried pinto beans, sorted and rinsed.
1/2 c. onion
1/2 c. tomato
1-2 serrano chile, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. each: oregano, cumin pdr, pepper
1 tbsp. chili pdr.
1 tsp. dry cilantro or handful fresh cilantro, chopped
6 c. chicken broth (or 6 c. water & 1/4 c. chicken bouillon)
1 tbsp. bacon grease (optional)

1.  Soak beans overnight, or use quick method (bring to boil, turn off heat and let rest for 1 hour). Drain.
2. Add all ingredients into pressure cooker.  Use per manufacturer instructions.
3. During the last 20 mins., prepare about 1 cup rice, as directed on package. (makes about 2 c. cooked rice)
4. Once beans and rice are cooked, stir rice into beans and serve with desired garnishes (cheese, lime juice, etc.)