Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What is Comfort Food?

I hear people talking about "comfort food" all the time.  So, what is it?  Truth is, it's something different to everyone, but the meaning is in the first word - COMFORT - to soothe, console, or reassure; to bring cheer to. Truth is, that to some, comfort food brings memories of childhood; grandmother's biscuits, mom's mac-n-cheese, or dad's famous BBQ.  Others it means bringing friends and family over for good food and good company.  For me, it's both.  I love inviting people over for dinner and I love cooking good old fashioned comfort food like fried chicken and mashed taters.  With the recent Alabama weather, damp, dreary and dismal, I thought that a good hot meal of comfort food would be just what the Doctor ordered for me and John.  

Sirloin Roast with garlic and rosemary, mashed potatoes and fresh green beans with bacon and garlic.

I bought the sirloin roast at Sam's Club (I am now a member!) rubbed it down with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, chopped up some fresh garlic and rubbed it in too, sprinkled with a little pepper and topped it off with 3 fresh sprigs of rosemary.  And slid that puppy in a 425 degree oven for 10minutes, reduced the temperature to 375 degrees and cooked for 20 minutes for a medium rare!  Yum-Yum!  

Little tip:   NEVER salt beef before cooking.  Salt is used as a way to cure meat and therefore pulls moisture out of meat.  Salt once it's on the plate, not while it's cooking!

And for the green beans. . . . I cut up two slices of bacon and 3 garlic cloves and tossed in the pan until the bacon was crisp, added the green beans and let saute for about 10 minutes.  I like to scar my green beans. . . I like the caramel taste.  Added a tablespoon of water, put a lid on and let them cook for 10 minutes, added lots of salt and pepper.

And Mashed Taters. . . . well, you can cook those however you like, but I like a little butter, salt, pepper, and my secret ingredient. . . . cream cheese!

Here are the befores. . . . 

AND the AFTER. . .. . 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Alabama Football and Peach Pie!

Peach Pie is as Southern as Alabama Football.  Sorry Auburn fans, but I'm a Bama girl all the way.  For the first Bama game, I had no real plans other than a birthday party for my sister at 3 at my dad's house.  I couldn't help but to think, my dad can't eat birthday cake and well, since he played a major roll in bringing me my BEST friend, I thought I'd make him a SUGAR FREE PEACH PIE!  As hard as it is, I am writing this blog as I watch  the Tide roll over Kent State AND bake a peach pie. 

My family is the most important thing to me and their health and well-being is at the top of my list.  I am always on the lookout for recipes that can accommodate my dad's diabetic diet and I will share MANY more as time passes on, but this will go down in history as my first reduced sugar recipe. 


Peaches, of course!  About 8 large peaches, peeled and cut into 1" chucks
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 Cup of Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
dash of ginger
dash of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp of Corn Starch
1 Tbsp COLD water

Put all ingredients EXCEPT water and corn starch in sauce pan and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Bring peach mixture to a rolling boil and mix water and cornstarch.  Pour 1/2 of the cornstarch mixture into the boiling peaches and cook for a few minutes.  You may not need the other half.  The juice of the peaches should coat the back of a wooden spoon.  Turn off peaches and let rest.  They will continue to thicken.  Start you pie crust.  This may seem difficult and if you are not brave enough to tackle pastry dough, feel free to use the refrigerated pie crust for a 9" pie pan; you will need TWO, one for the bottom and one for the top!


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, chilled
1/2 cup ice water

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Grate butter into mixture and blend until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Cut the dough in 1/2 and roll dough out to fit a 9 inch pie plate. Place crust in pie plate. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Once peaches are cooled, pour into pie plate and top with other crust.  Roll and pinch the sides to form a rope looking border, or use the back of a fork, it doesn't have to be perfect, it'll look GREAT no matter what!  Cut a few slits into the top crust and slide in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes then increase temperature to 400 degrees and cook until golden.  For a shiny crust, lightly beat an egg white and brush over the top of the crust when you increase the temperature.
When I pull this baby outta the oven, I'll post a picture!!
Enjoy! and ROLL TIDE!!



Friday, September 2, 2011

Taco Bake Thingy. . . . .Thinking of naming is "Tacos Again?"

I had heard about this website called Pinterest.  I looked it up and started playing with it; I was hooked!  It's like a giant bulletin board for all your great ideas!  I saw on my friend Ashley's board, a picture of a taco bake, but there was no recipe.  I thought, pft. . . .I can make that!

However, the night didn't start out as I planned. . . . .

I got home from work and did the chillaxin thing for a bit and pondered the taco bake.  After a well thought out plan in my head, I was off to the kitchen to conquer the taco bake! (recipe will follow)  I had discovered earlier in the day that I had pink eye (later found out that you get it from your pillow. . . .yuck!. . . Washed Pillow!) so I wasn't feeling like a million $$.  I started the homemade cornbread and thought that jalapenos and onions would be a nice touch, so I chopped them up and added them to the cornbread.  I am a Southern girl, so we pre-heat the oven with our pan inside with Crisco to melt and heat so that the cornbread gets a wonderful crust by pouring the batter into HOT grease.  I delegated this job to my 9x13 Pyrex dish.  When the oven was preheated, I pulled out the pan and placed in on the stove.  WHAM. .  . .EXPLOSION!!!  My Pyrex dish burst into a zillion pieces, hot grease splattered all over the place, including on me (I'm fine, no damage done!).  We clean up the mess and move on.  Shortly after, when the SECOND dish is preheated, I pour the batter into the pan and cook cornbread! 

I then start my taco meat, deciding that jalapenos would be a nice touch again, add some garlic and onions and Cayenne pepper and taco seasoning; Dang this is gonna be good!  DING!  Cornbread is 3/4 of the way done, I pull it out of the oven and I am hit with steam in the eyes!  OUCH!  That hurt!  I put down the cornbread, step away from the oven and rub my eyes!  STUPID DOESN'T DESCRIBE HOW I FEEL!  Remember those jalapenos that would be a nice touch, so do I!  My eyes are on FIRE!! 

Rest of the dinner preparation goes on without a hitch!  We eat and Oh My GOODNESS!  It was delicious!  I'm getting hungry as I write this!!  Everyone LOVES it!  As a matter of fact, it made John's 'you can cook this again' list!!

As we sit and digest, John decides brownies would be a good finish for the evening.  I take charge of the task, realizing I don't have any brownie mix, I google it!  Found it!  Seems like a reasonable recipe.  A little flour, butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla flavoring, baking powder and salt.  How hard can that be?  I follow the recipe with precision because I have NEVER in all my years cooking, made brownies from scratch!  As they cook, they smell delicious!  DING! Brownies done!  I pull them out of the oven and they are swimming!  HUH?  How'd that happen?  I sit and ponder with a sagging feeling of DEFEAT!  This does not happen often, I am a master in the kitchen. . . I can cook anything. . . .except scratch brownies!!  I POUR them into the garbage disposal. . . .flip the switch. . .NOTHING!  MY GARBAGE DISPOSAL QUIT WORKING!!!  Oh My Goodness, what am I going to do??  This is TRAGIC!!!  (Find out there is a button on the bottom that has to be flipped occasionally, sticking energy efficient stuff!)

So since, the Taco Bake Thingy was the only successful part of my night, I shall share it!

Place 2 tbsp oil in a 9x13 baking dish and place in oven at 425 degrees to preheat.

While preheating dice 1 medium onion, and jarred jalapenos to taste. make corn bread according to directions and add 1/2 the onions and jalapenos. Mix well and when oven is preheated, pour batter into pan and bake for 15 minutes.

You will need:
2 lbs hamburger meat
Other 1/2 onion
Diced jarred jalapenos to taste
2 cloves garlic sliced.
Cayenne pepper to taste
Taco seasoning pack
1/2 cup water
1 small can whole corn kernels, drained
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese
Sour cream

Cook hamburger meat, onions, garlic, salt, cayenne and jalapenos until done, drain and add taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water. Simmer 5-10 minutes. Make sure meat mixture is juicy. May need more water.

Spread meat mixture over cornbread. Then corn, then cilantro, then cheese. Bake in oven for 10 minutes.

Serve with lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream!!

This feeds 4-6 people depending how hungry. 

Let Me Explain. . . .

Okay, If you know me at all, you know that I LOVE to eat and therefore, LOVE to COOK!  Sometimes, my creativity gets the better of me and I create something new.  I feel that food is the universal way to bring family and friends together and that we could all use a little break from the everyday boxed up, non-gourmet, crap that we all find ourselves cooking all week long.  I know, for a fact, that it doesn't have to be that way and that even the easiest meals can be "spruced" up a bit. 

I have always wanted to open my own restaurant, but with physical limitations and monetary restrictions, that seems impossible at times, so this is my brilliant idea for the alternative.  I won't get rich doing this, but what good is a recipe if it isn't shared.  A friend of mine, Linda, told me onetime that sharing a recipe is like sharing a part of yourself.  BINGO, Linda, you got it! 

I also know, that in these hard economic times, eating out as much as we would all like to, isn't always a possibility, so treat yourself and your family to a gourmet meal at home.  It's really easy, I'll show you!

So, please, let's have dinner!!