Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Grandma Smith's Meatloaf

I call her mom (OK sometimes Ethel or...OK, maybe even pirate hooker once or twice), everyone else calls her Grandma, Mema, Nana Moo, and "ama".  Let me tell you a bit about my mom.  She grew up in the town they still live in, her father the county attorney and her mother a stay home mother.  She had 2 sisters and 2 brothers, all of whom have sadly passed away.  She had a cow.  She milked it AND rode it around town.  Yes, they lived in town with a cow.  And people shake their heads at society today?!? HA!  (had to mom)  She went to school, and college, she was a ....you ready for this?  Lingerie model for a few years, can you say HOTTIE?  Or should it be more like "scandalous"?  She fell in love with a tall, dark, handsome soldier from a foreign land, Philadelphia.  He was her boyfriends roomie in the hospital! WHAAAT?  He was stationed at the Army-Air Force base in Lincoln, NE.  She was a teacher, she intended to be a lawyer, but, life had other things in store.  Ten "other" things to be exact.  During her 82 years of life, and probably most of that as a mother, she became famous for her meatloaf.  Seriously though, I should call and make sure she isn't pregnant, the woman obviously doesn't know how it happens, and I want my info to be accurate....

Anyway, a fun little briefing on my mom.  Marlene is her name.  Actually, her name is Mary.  There was a typo on her birth certificate, and so, she is Marlene who was supposed to be Mary.  Her stripper name.......oh nvm, I forgot I wasn't going to tell that part.

Btw for anyone who is going to tell me that last comment was disrespectful, has NO idea the relationship I have with my mom.  She would shake her head and say "CAH-RIS" yes in 2 syllables and then just laugh..  So no worries.  My mom and I butt heads on a regular basis, but at the mature age of 83, even on the phone I can tell when she wants to say something, but just knows to zip up.  I do the same.  ALTHOUGH I am a bit more persistent, hopefully by the time I am her age, I will have matured.  I love her with all of my heart, and I will embarrass her, make her laugh, make her wonder if I was really switched at birth and her biological child is out there somewhere, and hug her and did I mention love her, forever!

As a kid and young adult I hated meatloaf.  I swear, if it wasn't meatloaf it was roast every Sunday.  And God bless you mom but those roasts, were so dry, even the poor bay leaf on top was screaming for a drink.  Her recipe doesn't call for ketchup but I was sure she always used to put it on top.  I also think she used to triple this recipe because there is no way one loaf pan of meatloaf would cover 12 mouths!  One of my sisters, #3, had her write her recipe out and  then gave each of us kids, a towel she had the recipe printed on.  How cool??!?!

This meatloaf has only a few ingredients, and it may be close to some of your recipes, or seem like it would be a little blah, but it has great flavor and even if it didn't, it is my moms, you better love it too!  My brother Jimmy,  dreams about this stuff, he is coming next weekend and I think I will surprise him with a meatloaf!

Easy as it is, here it is!

3 lbs ground beef (I use VERY lean since the sausage has a lot of fat)
1 lb pork sausage
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cups saltine cracker crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  She says to basically mix it all together, being careful not to over mix, making the meat mixture tough.  I say saute your onions first, you do what you want.  Toss it all in a bowl, and get your hands in there, just like my mom did.  Mix to combine, place in a loaf pan and bake 1 hour.  I actually think mine took about 20 extra minutes.  Like I said I swear she used to put ketchup on top but, it isn't in the recipe.

So, from my mom's 7X10 kitchen to yours.................enjoy this special recipe that she nourished us with for years and years.  Love you ma!


PS,  Phone verification, yes, she did put ketschup on top.  I KNEW it!  I don't like it that way so, no harm over there!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

BEST Taco Salad

Let's talk taco salad.  I mean, most are about the same old same old.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE, LOVE taco salad.  I have a few stipulations.  No beans, no onions and no beans, in case you already forgot.

Oh wait, HEY everyone!  How rude of me to not greet  you properly, this taco salad just gets me all confused inside, and I can't think straight.

OK, but seriously, other than my daughter in law joining our family and the beautiful twin grand littles she carried and birthed, this taco salad is right up there with the top reasons I love her so much.  She is kind and has a heart the size of Texas and all that mushy stuff to, but this salad.  Have I mentioned I LOVE her taco salad?

She made it for me yesterday.  A lot of it.  Which is exactly how much of it I ate.  This is not your ordinary taco salad, or, at least to me it isn't.  It is the BEST which is why I named it that!  It has a couple of unexpected flavors that just work beautifully.  You might think to yourself, "really, in a TACO salad??" and the answer is yes.  Just do it, try it, now!

Here is what you need:
1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
1 head of lettuce (this will obviously vary so just close your eyes and pick one)
1 medium cucumber
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 bottle Catalina dressing
1 lg back of Nacho Doritos

Get out a large bowl, you are going to need it.  Chop your lettuce and slice your cucumber.  I like to slice the cucumber in half rounds.   Cut your tomatoes in half and toss them in as well, add in meat and combine.  Add in 1/2 cup shredded cheese and mix again.  Start adding in the Catalina dressing a little at a time until you reach the amount you think you want. (usually about 10 ozs)  Now crush up half the bag of Doritos and add them in along with the rest of the cheese.  Let chill about 2 hours before serving.  NO, it does not get soggy.  I know someone is going to ask, so just to clarify!  And don't skip the cucumbers, they are divine in this.  I think grilled chicken or ground chicken would be fantastic too!


Monday, September 21, 2015

Peanut Butter Pudding

Hello everyone!  Long time, no see, I know.  I wish I could share with you all that has been going on, but without permission from family, I can't do that.  What I can say is that I appreciate every good thought, every good vibe, every prayer, every little private message, and tweet, and Instagram message.  Knowing I have this troop of friends I have never met, sending positivity our way, is a gift that I consider a blessing.  Thank you to you all for sticking around a dead silent page, and still visiting the website regularly anyway.  My greatest thanks for that.

That being said, I decided to remake a recipe that I used to have up on the website.  I paired it with edible chocolate bowls and it was a hot mess.  It looked like a pile of vomit in a brown bowl and let's just face, it was NOT so delicious to look at.  Oh, that whole chocolate bowl fiasco...  ESPECIALLY for a woman who is terrified of balloons.  Stop laughing............OK,  don't.

I got this recipe from Miss Betty of the YouTube channel Betty's Kitchen.  She is a sweet southern belle who makes great family friendly dishes and her channel is one I have enjoyed for a long time.  She is so meticulous when she cooks for y'all  (HA, I had to get a y'all in there).  My channel would more along the lines of, chop it, dump it, "if it burns eat it anyway" sort of a thing.  Make sure to check her out.

This pudding is my husbands dream in a bowl.  No, I am not kidding.  OMG.  My puppy is under my desk and I just felt her breeze over my toes...let me get the cardiac kit.

Anyway back to heaven in a bowl.  Yes, if you love peanut butter it IS.  I would not personally recommend chunky peanut butter but, the world is your sandwich.  Make sure to take a little taste of this while it is warm.  Then prepare for a life changing moment.

Here is what you need:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 T. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup half and half
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium sized pan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Gradually whisk in the milk and half and half.  (NOTE : IF you do not have, half and half on hand, use 2 cups of milk.  I do it often!)  Place over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly.  When it begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and boil for one minute, continuing to whisk baby!

Remember that part about reducing the heat to low, or you WILL be eating this burnt and I won't feel bad! HA!  Remove from the heat, and whisk in the peanut butter and the vanilla extract.

Keep whisking until your pudding is smooth.  Pour the pudding into a dish and cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap touches the top of the pudding all the way around!

If you don't you will get that funky skin that some people find appealing (insert barf noises) that is especially gross when it is the color of peanut butter.  Chill until chilled. (teehee)  2 hrs. should do it!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Tomato and Mozzarella Bruschetta

Tis the season.  The season for fresh veggies, straight from the garden, straight from the farmer's market, straight from a friendly neighbor or co-worker!  I have waited for this this very time of year, ALL year for this reason!

This very simple bruschetta, which you probably will notice isn't a traditional bruschetta, is one I have been making my family for years.  We love this stuff and while I adore traditional bruschetta, this one, will probably blow you right outta your socks.

As far as the tomatoes, I used cherry tomatoes, it is what I picked up at the farmers market but please feel free to use slices of tomato.  I just think the cherry or grape that yu halve are easier to eat.  For the cheese, there is no reason you can't use the shredded variety, but come on, take a look at this photos, do you see the thick winter coat of mozzarella on top?  Nothing can beat that.  I don't care for my mozz to be be browned on this particular dish but just a personal preference, feel free to let yours go until browned on top.

Get a nice life of french bread or a baguette.  Either one gets the job done.  I used a large loaf, as I was serving these as a side dish.  If you are using them for an appetizer, use a smaller loaf to accommodate your needs. 

Here is what you will need to pick up:
10 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes
1 loaf of french bread or a baguette
8 oz. ball of fresh mozzarella
olive oil
Italian seasoning

Cut your bread in slices the thickness that you choose.  (I made 8 of these but you could easily get 10 if you are doing the large slices like I did with this amount of tomatoes).  Preheat your oven to 400.  Lay your bread out on a baking sheet  Now, drizzle each piece with a little olive oil, flip it and do it again.  Do this with each piece.  Sprinkle on some dried Italian seasoning, just go with your gut on this one, a little bit of salt and pepper, do NOT forget that part and place in the oven for 5-7 minutes, until golden and crusty!  While that is happening, half your tomatoes and put them in  bowl.  Add a SMALL drizzle of olive oil, salt, and some Italian seasoning.  This is all to taste friends.  Mix to combine and let sit while bread finishes.

Get your mozzarella sliced if using fresh and just feel the excitement in the air.  My mouth is literally watering while I type.  When the bread is done, top each one with the tomato mixture until it is all used.  Lay a piece of mozz on the top and put back in the oven until the cheese is melted and/or browned to your desired taste.

This is so good.  Just so simple and so good.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Cotton Candy Cupcakes (No Fail 7 Min Icing)

And when I say "no fail" I mean it.  I have failed at this frosting for so many years I had given up. Always gritty, never done in even 15 minutes and just a complete regret every single time I tried.  Well, as a kid my requested birthday cake was always angel food with "sticky frosting" aka 7 minute frosting.  My mom made so many of those through the years she could probably make it in her sleep now.

I always wanted to learn to make it, but  just never could.  During some online research I so saw someone use a different technique, so I used my moms recipe with a new technique and WA-LAAAA....  Complete and total perfection.  You will never go back to your old fashioned way again after you read my way.  What will really be embarrassing is if you all already do it my way, and I am that far behind the cool kids!

I used just a regular cake mix for these cupcakes, because I wasn't concerned about the perfect cake underneath, my mission was a vessel to carry this dreamy, fluffy, sweet frosting.  I love cotton candy flavored things so don't let that deter you, you can use any flavoring you want or none at all.  My granddaughter loved the idea, and so we had to make them pink and blue like cotton candy, we added sprinkles to our cake and let's be honest, does it get more dreamy or perfect for a 6 year old than cake with sprinkles and pink frosting?  After I iced them and photographed them, we had this moment...

Oh my they are so much fun.  Nobody told me being a Nonna was going to be like this.  Joy, love, craziness and fun!  They are kid approved.  The icing makes perfect mustaches, and then you get bubbles baths afterward.  SCORE!

For the cake I used a white cake mix and simply added in 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste and 3 T. colorful sprinkles.  Bake according to package directions and let cool completely.

7 Minute Frosting
4 egg whites
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup water
1-2 tsp cotton candy extract if making that flavor.

Create a double boiler situation using your stand mixer bowl or other metal bowl for the top.  Add in all ingredients EXCEPT the flavoring.  Make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl directly.  Whisk until it becomes warm and if you put some on your fingers you feel no sugar, which will mean the sugar has been completely dissolved.  When that happens if you are using your stand mixer, put it on the mixer and let it rip for 7 minutes.  If you are using a hand mixer, get at it for 7 minutes.  If you try to do this by hand, I suggest you head over to www.mentalhealthhelp.com.  It might take 6 minutes, it might take 8 minutes, but when you achieve stiff peaks you are there.  At that time pour in your extract or flavoring and let it rip another minute.

If you choose to color your frosting I suggest using gel paste, the liquid will thin your frosting.    This recipe should perfectly frost 24 cupcakes, or a 2 layer cake.

There is no better icing to use to recreate cotton candy.!  Nothing but pure sugar, sticky messes, and fun1


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sofia Snacks (Pumpkin and Carrot Dog Treats)

Well, it is no secret that my George and I have added a new member to our family recently.  Sofia Isabella Matilda Simmerman is the missing piece to our family that finally completes us.  Yes, I know, that name.  Well when we got her,  we went to IHOP and had a late dinner and discussed names.  My choices were...


George's picks were dumb.  No not really, I just had to be smart to him.  He like Isabella and call her Bella.  He wanted Gia, and I said it sounded like a doggy stripper name.  He wanted and wants all kids or dogs in our family named George, or Georgette, must like George Foreman.  BUT he did like Sofia WITH an F.  So he said, because yes, (hangs head in shame) we give our dogs entire names.  Ya know so when they are bad, you can confuse them with your real kids and they are instantly part of the family sort of a thing?!  And that is the story of Sofia Isabella Matilda Simmerman.  Because he knew how much I liked Tilly.

I know what you are thinking.  "That is 2 minutes of my life I can never get back".  Right?  I agree.  Well anyway as you may or may not know I do have a dog treat recipe on my blog already it is called, Lucy and Ava's Favorite Peanut Butter Tookies, make sure to check those out as well!  Those are 2 of my niece dogs who are like my kids, Ava has sadly passed away but Lucy still loves them!  Well it was obvious that I would need to create a "Sofi Snack".  When I say it in my head it sounds like "Snofi Snacks".  Weird.

My granddaughter has one more week left out here, so we are trying to get all of our special cooking time in before she leaves until next summer.  I told her we needed special treats for Sof and she agreed.  She made you a video because she wanted to tell you what she was doing.  It is on my FB Fan page!  She is a doll from the inside out.

After researching a few recipes, then researching flavorings, herbs and spices that were safe and perhaps even beneficial to dogs I came up with this perfect Pumpkin and Carrot recipe.  These turn out EXTREMELY crispy, and should last a good while.  Put them in a Ziploc, and find every reason to treat your puppy and doggy friends!

I use these as Christmas gifts as well.  I make a ton and friends and family who have dogs, all get a special pretty bag of treats for their pets.  Yes, I said Christmas, it is coming friends, and fast!

Here is what you need for your Sofia Snacks

15 oz pumpkin puree  (NOT PIE FILLING)
1/2 cup finely grated carrots
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp cinnamon
2 T. dried parsley
2-3 cups whole wheat flour  (and some for rolling out)

Now, this isn't difficult.  Toss it in a bowl and mix with a hand mixer or a stand mixer or your trusty wooden spoon.

We rolled these out and cut out shapes.  Maddie wanted an "I"  and then a heart and then an "S" for Sofia.  For bigger dogs you might use bigger shapes or you may roll in a ball and smash down with a cup to flatten or use a bone cookie cutter or, roll into a long thin snake and just cut off pieces.  I rolled my dough I would say, umm....Oh Lord, I hate guessing, it gives me the shakes.  I would say 1/4 inch thick.  Maddie's were like 3 inches thick. ROFL  (not really, kinda) There is like, 5 million ways to do this.  Do what tickles your fancy.  The world is your sandwich, make it how you like it!  Place until ungreased cookie sheets, yes I said sheets, because this made 4 huge bakery size cookie sheets, FULL.  You might consider halving the recipe is you only want a small batch.  Maddie kept saying, "Nonna, I am losing my cookie energy".  I said, "me to Maddie, I think Nonna made to much".  She replied, "Nonna, I think you are NOT a genius". HA!  I think she hit that nail on the head, but we have plenty of family dogs to share with.  Preheat your oven to 350 and let bake 35 minutes.  If you get all of your treats on to two pans, place them in the oven, and when the timer goes off, keep them in the oven and turn it off.  The more dried out you can get them the crispier and the longer they will keep.

Maddie and I hope that your dogs enjoy these treats.  Maddie kept telling me her tummy was SO hungry for pumpkin pie every time she would smell it.  I had to agree.

Please spend time in the kitchen with your children and grandchildren, you will memories to last a lifetime.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sausage and Cheese Breakfast DIp

 I always start these notes off the same way.  I need a new introduction.  Good evening, I will start with that tonight!  I hope you are all anticipating your kids going back to school, here, school starts tomorrow.  School shopping done?  Get those supply lists and get to shopping!  I miss those days, although I always do a little shopping for Maddie my oldest grand little and send it to her.  We get to shop together this year since she is here, but, sadly will be leaving in about 10 days to go home to NJ.  WHY did I even bring that up?  I am going to be sad beyond sad to say goodbye to her but I know she is happy, healthy, and full of joy and what more can you ask for them?  Anyway we will do some shopping soon and send her off with it all!

I have had this breakfast casserole running through my brain for a good 2 months now.  I tried to make it really difficult and different, and the reality is, none of that made it better.  I stuck to some old standbys that everyone usually has on hand and it turned out perfectly.  I mean, like REALLY freakishly delicious and I would never argue with freakishly delicious!  Serve this with little toasts, OR.......add some salsa to the cream cheese mixture and serve with tortillas!  Umm-hmmm....  GENIUS, my sentiments exactly.  I will make it for my darling Geo that way next time.  He will think he is in heaven.  As if being married to me isn't heaven in and of itself.  Pfftt.

Enjoy this easy, quick make ahead dip, that you can serve for any breakfast or brunch.  I don't know anyone who wouldn't love "chips" and dip for breakfast!

1 lb. ground pork sausage, browned and drained (yes, use turkey sausage if you want!)
2- 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese
1 T. chives
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (divided)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
cocktail bread, or unsplit hotdog buns, cut into little slices like bread

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  In a bow combine, browned ground sausage, cream cheese, chives, and 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese.  Mix until completely combined.  Pour into a small casserole dish, I used about a 9 inch one and it was perfect.  Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheddar and Parmesan cheese on top.

Pop it in the oven for 20-30 minutes.  Let it get bubbly and the cheese melted.  I can't say "bubbly" with thinking of Steel Magnoilia's "gooold and bubblah".  Anyway...

After you have sliced your bread or gotten your cocktail loaf out, just place it on a baking sheet in a single layer and put under your broiler for a minute or 2, flip and do the same.  Just get it golden and crispy.  You can certainly just use plain toast cut into triangles.

This can EASILY be made the night before and popped in the oven in the morning.  Breakfast dip.....does it get better?!