Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Parmesan Roasted Yellow Squash

Is it true what they say?  They say your taste buds change every 7 years?  Isn't that how it goes?  My husband is so good about always re-trying things he hasn't liked in the past, I on the other hand, TRY to be good about it, but not always so willing. 

As I had mentioned the other day on Facebook, the gardens are producing, the farmers markets are in full force and I am trying a few veggies and fruits I haven't liked ever before.  I picked up this yellow squash, and was hell bent on trying it, no matter what.  So it sat on the counter for the first day, then the second day, and the third.  On the fourth day, I touched it.  I thought about how I could cook it, that might mask the flavor of the squash.  Then I decided to just embrace the squash, I mean yellow is one of my favorite colors, so that part was easily accepted, it was just the word after it that kept me from moving forward!  As it ended up, I probably covered up some of the flavor unintentionally but, hey, I ate 4 pieces.  (applause please) HA!

I just took some basic ingredients and gave it a try.  It must have worked, it got me to eat it.  This will make a great side dish, and the crunch on top is great!

1lb yellow squash cut into round slices
2 T olive oil
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1/4 tsp. black pepper (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper!  Put squash in a Ziploc bag, add in olive oil and toss to coat all the pieces.  Next, toss in the breadcrumbs, garlic, powder, Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper and toss again, until the pieces are coated, or mostly coated with the mixture.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Spray your lined baking sheet with nonstick spray.  It will help the bottoms crisp up and turn golden brown.  Lay the squash out in a single layer and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown! 

What a great side for any meal!  Maybe even the non-squasher will like it too!  I did!


Monday, August 25, 2014

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Let just answer the question you are thinking about.  Yes, they ARE good, and they ARE easy and yes, you have what you need so finish reading and get to it.

Oh wait.  That isn't what you were thinking?  You were thinking you want me to ship?  HA.  

I was needed a break from my fruits and veggie recipes.  I needed chocolate.  We all know how that feels.  It was in a, "don't ask why, just GET ME, some chocolate" kind of way.  I also hit a peanut butter sale last week.  Yes, I do that, I hit a sale and stock up and then realize there were 3 jars in the pantry that got pushed to the back.  As if you can ever have to much peanut butter anyway. 

I wanted to make little ones.  You know, portion control.  I burn more calories putting one in, chewing, reaching for another, chewing again, etc.  If I made big ones, it would be one motion.  Not near as much exercise.  Makes complete sense to me.  Frankly, as long as I can self justify, I am good. ;)

So yea, about those cute little ones.  PAIN IN THE BUTT.  I mean, if you are into tedious, OCD, minuscule kind of work, go for it.  But I would rather accidentally cut my legs shaving then deal with that nonsense.  Do the big ones.  People will want more than one bite anyway, consider it a favor to your eaters! You can do them with the peanut butter all covered or so that you can see the layers.  As you can see I did both, not by choice, but out of sheer torment on those little babies!

Here is what you need.  Seriously, they are easy and kind of fun and are going to be making an appearance this year for Christmas cookie gifts!  This made, um......crap, I didn't count.  OK let me think about how many I ate, err, "sampled", how many I gave away and how many are left.  Be right back..........

Useless, I think it made maybe 30-36 small ones and 12 big ones.   This can easily be halved for a smaller batch.  But they freezer beautifully, so why would you only make half?!

Here is what you need....

36 oz. of chocolate.  (I used milk chocolate chips)
2 T vegetable oil or shortening
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 T. butter (softened)
1 cup confectioners sugar (icing sugar, powdered sugar)
1 T vanilla extract
cupcake liners, size if your choice kids

In a microwave safe bowl add in your chocolate and shortening/oil.  Microwave 30 seconds at a time and stir,  Don't do it longer, or you will burn your chocolate.  Just trust me.  While it is melting, in a second bowl mix the peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla with a hand mixer.  Line your cupcake or mini muffin tins and go to town.  I used a small cookie scooper for the chocolate and another for the peanut butter but you could just use a teaspoon for the peanut butter.  One scoop of chocolate all around, then bang your pan on the counter to level and even things out.  Next, spoon or scoop in the peanut butter, in the center if you want it covered or use the back of a spoon to smooth it totally out for a layered look and then repeat with chocolate on top.  Bang that baby again!  Use the back of a spoon if you need to, to smooth the tops over or get more coverage. 

Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.  These freeze like a dream and what a great little something sweet when you need it, a Ziploc full in the freezer!!  WOOHOO!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Turkey Tetrazzini Bake

Another leftover remix for dinner tonight!  This week we had chicken Parm with short pasta, we had a mini Thanksgiving dinner, we had mushrooms left from the farmers market, and by the end of the week, the sauce was gone, the chicken was gone,  so were the fixings for my T-giving dinner and I am cooking up the carcass of my turkey now for stock.  Here is what was I had left.  I had a bit less than a pound of pasta, mushrooms, chicken stock, and turkey.  Isn't it obvious?  There is only one problem.  My pasta wasn't spaghetti or angel hair like traditional tetrazzini calls for, and it was already cooked, how would I be able to tell you how MUCH pasta to use?!

Well friends, I did as I am often advised to do in moments of questions, I "googled" it.  My niece Jessica's famous last words to me.  I found that pasta usually double in weight, so I am going to go with that.  Know, that you might need a wee bit more, or a wee bit less, but do as I do, throw some butter, salt and pepper on those leftovers and call it the cooks treat!

This really turned out fabulous, like, really fabulous.  With a couple of extra ingredients, we fed 2, and had 2 portions left for my hubby's lunch bag!

I imagine this would freeze beautifully.  Seriously, make 2, and bank one in the freezer!

For the sauce you will need:
3 T butter
4 T flour
12 oz. can of evaporated milk
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray with nonstick cooking spray, or butter a casserole dish large enough for your mixture, I used a 10 inch round, with 2-3 inch sides. 

In a medium pot, melt your butter and sprinkle in your flour.  Whisk together for 1 minute, until the raw flour taste cooks off.  Add in  your chicken stock and whisk until smooth.  When smooth add in evaporated milk and Parmesan cheese.  Let simmer until thickened.  Ok, back up, not TO thick.  Let it remain a little "loosey goosey" since the pasta will absorb some while in the oven. 

Now for the rest of the dish you will need:
12-16 ounces short cut pasta, cooked
1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots mix
1 cup mushrooms, sliced  (use a can or fresh)
2 cups cubed or shredded turkey (use chicken if you like!)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Into your already prepared sauce, add in pasta, peas and carrots, and turkey.  Mix until combined.  Pour into casserole dish and sprinkle the top evenly with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.   Bake for 25-30 minutes. 

Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving, or don't.

One of my favorite dishes.  This came together like a beaut!


Monday, August 18, 2014

Stone Fruit Crisp

Evening friends!

I am so ready for fall!  SO ready!  My mind is on crumbles, and crisps and cobblers, oh my!  I found some nice fruit the other day and undoubtedly knew what I had to do with them!  The plums, the peaches, just beautiful.  My husband had been mentioning that I hadn't made a dessert lately and how "good it sounded".  You know wives that is code for, "please make it now".  And with a face like his, how could I say no?!?!

You can use other stone fruit in this as well, I just used peaches and plums.  It came out delish, and with a scoop of ice cream on top.... get outta here!  Perfect crumbly, crunchy top, sweet fruity bottom, the texture was awesome and so was the flavor!

By the way, on a side note.  When I typed out "fruity bottom", my head started singing, "apple bottom jeans and the boots with the furrrr"

I don't like fruit, remember?  Yea well, I ate this.  (insert awkward silence where you all are gasping in shock) I KNOW!

4 plums, peeled and sliced
4 peaches, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar (more or less depending on the sweetness of your fruit)
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix ingredients together well.  Pour into a casserole dish that has been buttered or sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Crisp Topping:
1/2 cup flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened.

Using a fork, mix all ingredients until well combined, and it becomes crumbly and holds together when you press it together in your hand.  Sprinkle over the top of the fruit, covering the entire top.  Place on a cookie sheet in case it bubbles over and bake for 45-55 minutes.  Let cool 10 minutes before serving. 

Enjoy this fruity goodness over some ice cream!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Crabby Macaroni Salad

Am I not.....HILARIOUS?  I know, it was a sad attempt at humor.  This has been one the craziest days I have had for awhile, and frankly, I am so tired, I am on cup of coffee number 2, just to get the job done kids!

The truth is, this is another "for the love of hubby" recipe.  He has been asking for some sort of seafood macaroni salad for awhile.  He has been oh so patient, for more than I would have been if I were waiting for something from him.  Finally he said in this cute little desperate voice, "Honey, I know you are really busy but could you write up some sort of salad with crab and pasta in it for me and use black olives"?  Easy enough.  I just picked up some of the great farmers market finds I had from the weekend and went to town. 

I am not a huge fan of mayo based salads, but I guarantee you will love this one.  It makes me so happy when my husband requests something and I am able to create it for him just how he likes it.  Nothing makes me happier than to hear his "insert moan" and then "Christine, Christine, Christine, hits another one OUT OF THE PARK"!   Love is grand isn't it?

This is going down as a Simmerman family staple.  I hope it is enjoyed by yours too!

16 ounces shell pasta (or any very short pasta), cooked and cooled
10-12 ounces crab meat, real or imitation
10 ounce can of black olives, chopped
1 med-lg bell pepper, chopped fine
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered. (use a large regular tomato if you want)
1 cup Hellmann's Mayo (or best foods)
1 T chives
1/4 tsp,. garlic powder
2-3 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste

You can add the pasta while it is still slightly warm if you wish.  Otherwise, mix all ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving!

Easy?  Definitely!  Delicious?  DEFINITELY!


Monday, August 11, 2014

Easy Baked Beans

More beans.  Are you KIDDING me?  You know how I feel about the "musical fruit", but it summer, this is America and we all know, no summer bbq or picnic is complete without them!  I have succumbed to the pressure of my family to learn to make them.  I can recall my dad eating them out of the can, cold, and oh, yuck.  My memories were validated when I was at my parents a couple of weeks ago and my dad wanted cold pork and beans and hot dogs for dinner. 

I have said it before...  Even though there are foods I don't particularly care to eat, I love knowing how to make everything I can.  While I can down a couple spoonful's, just to be polite, I don't like actual onion in mine, so I go with onion powder.  Get the flavor, but none of the sliminess.   I also like my bacon not real crispy in baked beans, that is my preference, you go with yours!  These are awesome to make ahead, I mix mine up sometimes a day or 2 in advance, put the bacon in before baking and there ya go!

*omit the bacon for a great vegetarian side*

3- 15oz. cans pork and beans (I use the cheapo brand, use your favorite)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2T ketchup
1T yellow mustard
1T molasses
1/2 tsp. onion powder
4 strips of bacon, diced. 

Preheat your oven to 350.   In a skillet, fry up your diced bacon.  It doesn't need to be super crispy, but if it is, that is fine too.  Get it fried up and drained on a paper towel.  In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix to combine.  Add in bacon and pour into a casserole dish that will hold your mixture, I used about a 3 quart and it was obviously plenty big.  Pour the mixture in and bake uncovered 50-75 minutes.  It will thicken a bit as it cools. 

I hope you enjoy this simple recipe, that just gets better the longer it sits!  Warm, cold, steaming hot, I have seen these eaten every which way!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Banana Poke Cake with Cream Cheese Brown Sugar Frosting

Once again, I apologize for this spotty, at best posting schedule.  My parents need raised, my grandchildren moved to town, and my sister from Cinci was here for a week, and, and, and....   I swear when September hits, I will be back on schedule.  I appreciate all of you who have stuck around and continue to support me here, and on social media!  Make sure to join me on those if you haven't!  I love your comments here on the website, please keep them coming!

So, back to the raising of my parents.  Pffftt.  My mother has the audacity, after raising 10 kids, and living 81 years, to have an OPINION!  Can you believe it?!?  I spent a week, a couple of weeks ago and needed to run for some groceries.  My mom needed her bananas, for her ritual cereal and banana breakfasts.  She sent me with a list and as I perused the produce section, which by the way in my hometown grocery store is like the size of your living room, I saw a bargain bin!  YES!  An entire bag of bananas for .69!  I nabbed them up, continued my shopping and headed for home.  When I walked in with my finds, my mom gives me this "look".  It was a look I have seen often, one of disappointment and, oh wait, let me clarify I never actually did anything to get that look in my younger days.  Do you believe me?  Anyway I got this, "Chhhrriisssss, those bananas are way over ripe".  Excuse me Marlene?  I can remember a day, she would have just cut out the dark spots, saved them and used them for banana bread and eaten or fed us the rest of the banana.  Kids are grown, and diva queen wants her bananas a little "green"?!?  (for anyone who at this point thinks I am serious, please know, in my family, we tease, we laugh and we joke, I adore my mother and she deserves whatever she wants!) 

So the point is, I took my bag O' bananas and I brought them home.  Hmmppfff.  This cake was born from them and I think you will agree, she can keep her GREEN bananas!  Overripe ones always turn into something amazing too!

Don't ask how I know this, but this cake freezes like a dream and I kind of liked eating a piece half frozen!

2 cups flour (all purpose)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup softened butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 very ripe bananas, mushed to perfection
1 box instant vanilla pudding

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.  Combine all ingredients EXCEPT flour.  When all ingredients are well combined, add in flour just until mixed.  Pour into prepared cake pan and bake 40-50 minutes.  When a toothpick comes out clean it is done!  Let cool completely.  Using the round handle of a spoon or whatever else you can find with a round end, (I shutter at what people might use), poke holes all over the cake.   Prepare pudding per package directions and slowly pour over the cake.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes while you prepare the frosting!

Cream Cheese Brown Sugar Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
3 T butter, softened
1-2 T milk.

Combine, cream cheese, vanilla, brown sugar and butter.  Beat for 3-4 minutes, until creamy and smooth.  Add in milk according to how you like your frosting.  Less milk for stiffer, more for thinner.  Spread over cake and sprinkle with nuts of your choice, IF you choose!  Enjoy!