Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Quick Breads

Many of you are probably asking "What are Quick Breads?"  Well, they are breads that are made without yeast.  Instead they use leavening agents such as "Baking Soda" or "Baking Powder" and some even use both.

Quick breads are even an American original.  They date back to at least the mid 1800s when baking soda and baking powder first commercially produced.

Some products that are considered "Quick Breads" include loaf breads like banana, pumpkin and zucchini. They also include muffins, biscuits, pancakes and waffles.

There three common ways to make quick breads.  Combining all the wet and dry ingredients separately and then combining before baking is one way.  This method is used in making muffins, pancakes and corn bread.

Another is to cream the butter (fat) and sugar together and then adding the other ingredients.  The main thing to remember using either method is to not over work the dough.  This is used more for cakes than anything else.

The last method is cutting the fat into the dry ingredients.  This is done by using a food processor, a pastry blender, two forks or even your hands.  Biscuits and scones are the main products that use this method.

Depending on the method and type of quick bread being made, the dough or batter will have a different consistency.  Pancakes and the banana type breads have a more "pouring" batter.  Muffins are more of a "drop" batter.  While chocolate chip cookies are a "soft" dough and sugar cookies use a "stiff" dough. The difference between all 4 is the amount of liquid to the dry ingredients.  The more equal the two are makes for the pouring batter.  Where as the greater the dry is to liquid gives you the stiff dough.

So this week I have two of the more traditional quick breads.  Both recipes are from the early 20th century and have been passed down for several generations.  They come from different people that eventually made it to my mother.  The reason they get passed down or along is because they taste great.  First is "Pumpkin Bread" and it is followed by "Pecan Bread".  Do take the time and try these.  And look for other quick bread recipes to add to your baking desires.

In the meantime, "Happy Cooking" until next week.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Over the Top Biscuit & Gravy Sandwiches

Over the Top Biscuit & Gravy Sandwiches
(3-6 servings)

Ingredient List:

1 lb. Bulk Breakfast Sausage (your choice on type or brand)
4 Tbsp. Butter
4 Tbsp. All Purpose Flours
1 Tsp. Black Pepper
2 Cups Milk (whole, 2%, 1%, it’s your choice)
3-6 Biscuits, prepared (see note)
3-6 (4 oz.) slices Ham, warm (your choice on type)
3-6 large Fresh Eggs, fried (your choice on doneness)


In a sauté pan over medium heat, crumble and cook sausage until done. Drain any grease and then add the butter. After the butter has melted, start to whisk in the flour and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Next, add the pepper and milk while continuously stirring with the whisk. The mixture will slowly start to thicken. Continue cooking for 3 or 4 minutes after it has thickened for you. If gravy is too thick, just add a little more milk. If it is to thin, turn it down to medium-low and let it cook a little longer. Make sure you continue to stir it occasionally. Slice a biscuit in half horizontally and place the bottom on a plate. Repeat with remaining biscuits. Top each biscuit bottom with a slice of ham followed by an egg. Place the biscuit tops on each and ladle sausage gravy over each and serve.

Note: Try using my food blog recipe for Sweet Potato Biscuits recipe. If not, any biscuit will work.

Note: You can substitute several pieces of cooked bacon for the ham if you desire.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Fried Egg Quesadillas

Fried Egg Quesadillas
(2 servings)


1 tbsp. Unsalted Butter or Canola Oil (or combination of each)
2-4 large Fresh Eggs (depends on how many you want/need on your Quesadillas)
2 (10 inch) Tortillas
½ cup Shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
1 medium Haas Avocado (see note)
¼ cup Salsa (optional) (your choice on type)
¼ cup Green Onion, sliced


In a large saute pan over medium heat, add butter or oil. When hot add one egg at a time and break each yolk. Fry eggs on each side to desired doneness and set aside. Take a tortilla and sprinkle one half with a forth of the cheese. Top the cheese with half the slices of avocado followed by one of the eggs. If using salsa, spread half of it on the other half of the tortilla. Top the egg with the green onion and another forth of the cheese. Fold the half of the tortilla with the salsa over the half with the egg. Place the tortilla in the saute pan and heat for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove tortilla from the pan and slice into 3 wedges to serve. Repeat the process with the second tortilla.

Note: Cut the avocado in half and remove pit. Using a spoon, scope each half out of skin in one whole piece. Slice each half into thin slices for sandwich.

Note: Fro those that need meat in their Quesadillas, you can add cooked bacon, ham or sausage to it. I would add the meat before adding the egg.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Breakfast Sandwiches

Since tomorrow is Christmas Day, let me wish all of you a "Merry Christmas."  May the good lord bless you and help with your "Culinary Skills."

This week we're talking "Breakfast Sandwiches" as I'm one of those who believe breakfast is the most important meals.  It is what starts you off for a good day.  I know I've mentioned it before but you need to make time in the start of your day with some nutrition in you.  It really does make a difference in how your day goes.

For those of you that have trouble getting your day started, breakfast is difficult.  The fun thing about breakfast sandwiches, many of them can be made ahead.  You can make them the night before, just heat it up in the microwave and carry it out the door with in the morning.  You could make a batch of them and freeze the sandwiches for quick easy future meals.

If you have my cookbook or have been following this food blog long, you know that I advocate eating breakfast foods at times other than just your first meal of the day.  A quick recap for new readers.  Most everyone enjoys eating breakfast foods but have a difficult time doing it up right in the workday morning. Having breakfast meals at the evening meal, for example, gives you the time to enjoy these specialties and help your food budget at the same time.  That's because these type menus are less expensive compared to traditional evening meals.

The blog has a fair number of breakfast recipes available on the "Breakfast Recipe" link above.  Be sure to check them out.

I've a couple of breakfast sandwich recipes this week.  Because of the holidays, many people have guests (family or friends) staying with them.  This usually means one must offer more than just the big holiday meal to them.  So I have a couple of recipes that are not your normal breakfast fare.  Thought your guest might like something a little changed up.

The first is for "Fried Egg Quesadillas"  and they work well in a Panini or George Foreman grill.  If you don't have one of those, the recipe actually does it in a saute pan.  As with all the recipes I offer on this blog, I encourage everyone to change up some of the ingredients to make it fit your tastes and lifestyle.

The second recipe is taking a traditional dish and adding some excitement to it.  This one is a knife and fork sandwich as all sandwiches don't have to be held.  "Over the Top Biscuit and Gravy Sandwich" is again flexible with ingredients.  So change it up if helps meet your flavor profile better.

My hope is that you will get into breakfast more no matter the time of day, whether you guests or not, with roof-mates or even just by yourself.  Enjoy these and all the other recipes on this blog as you continue to cook.  Again, "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Cooking" until next week.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Greek Layered Dip

Greek Layered Dip
(12-18 servings)


8 oz. Cream Cheese with Chives & Onion, room temperature
8 oz. Hummus (your favorite brand & style), room temperature
1 large Fresh Cucumber, peeled, seeded & chopped
3 large Plum Tomatoes, seeded & chopped
1 (2 ¼ oz.) can Sliced Ripe Olives, drained
4 oz. Feta Cheese, crumbled
¼ cup Green Onions, sliced


Spread the cream cheese in the bottom of a 10 inch serving dish (quiche, pie, etc.). Next, spread the hummus over the cream cheese covering all. Then sprinkle the cucumbers evenly over the hummus. Sprinkle evenly the tomatoes next followed by the olives and feta cheese. Garnish the dish with the green onions and serve with pita chips, crackers or vegetables.

Note: You could double this recipe using a larger low-sided serving dish or make two different dishes of the dip for larger crowds.

Note: I like Kalamata olives more than the black ones. So I will use these instead. Just chop or slice pitted ones for this recipe.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper & Artichoke Dip

Roasted Red Pepper & Artichoke Dip
(about 2 cups)


1 (7 oz.) jar Marinated Artichoke Hearts, drained
½ cup Roasted Red Peppers, drained
3 oz. Cream Cheese, room temperature
½ cup Sour Cream
¼ cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
Assorted crackers, chips or vegetables


Place the artichoke hearts and red peppers in a food processor, cover and coarsely chop. Add the cream cheese, sour cream and parsley to food processor and mix until just blended. Place in a serving dish and garnish with a little more parsley. Serve with your favorite crackers, chips and/or vegetables.

Note: You can serve this immediately at room temperature or refrigerate up to a day ahead of time.

Note: To double recipe, repeat the process twice and then mix the two batches together. If you have a large food processor, you may be able to do in one batch.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

New Year's Eve Party Time

It seems most people do some partying on New Year's Eve.  A lot of people go to commercial establishments such as bars or clubs.  Some go to house parties.  Probably most stay home and do a little celebrating with family members (spouses, children).

We use to do our partying with the children early.  Letting them think they were staying up til midnight.  It worked until they got too old and understood time and how clocks worked.

Whether it was an early celebration or an on-time one, we made some special dish, snack or treat.  It seems everyone tries to bring in the New Year with food and drink.

There are several good drink recipes on the "Drink Recipe" link above.  Check it out in case you don't have something special already lined up for that night.

But this week, I'm talking food for that New Year's Eve celebration.  If you are staying home or needing to take an item to that party you're attending, I've got a couple of easy dishes.

The New Year's Eve parties are usually snacking events as apposed to full dinners.  So it's always fun to try and figure out a dish that is relatively easy to make, works well for people standing around trying to balance food and drink at the same time and doesn't break the bank.

Dips are one way to go.  They are usually easy to throw together (even if they have to be heated).  Using a chip, cracker or vegetable chunk is also easy to do while standing and talking.  Lastly, most dips and there accompanying instruments of dipping are reasonably priced.

This week I have two dip recipes that are served cold or at room temperature and don't need cooking.  The  first is easy to throw together using a food processor.  It's a recipe for "Roasted Red Pepper & Artichoke Dip."  There is no chopping.  You just put the ingredients in the food processor in steps.  There are enough different types of chips out on the market now that we're not talking your usual potato chip type.  Actually, the different types of chips, the new age crackers that are available and of course healthy vegetables all work well with this dip.

The second dip recipe is for a "Greek Layered Dip."  This takes a little more work but is still very easy to put together.  It's colorful, fairly healthy and goes better with the chips and cracks.  However, some vegetables would work well here too.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy them even if it's not New Year's Eve.  They work well year round.  I wish everyone a great and "Happy New Year."  Thank you all for your support of my food blog this past year and in the year to come.

"Happy Cooking" until next week.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Whole Frosted Pecans

Whole Frosted Pecans


1 ½ cups Granulated Sugar
½ cup Sour Cream
1 ½ tsp. Vanilla
1 lb. Whole Pecans


Mix sugar and sour cream together in medium sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Continue to boil for 5 minutes stirring constantly. Remove the pan from heat and add in the vanilla and pecans. Stir mixture until pecans are well coated. Pour out onto waxed paper in a single layer and let cool. Separate pecans after mixture is cool and enjoy.

Note: You could use pecan pieces or even other nuts of your choice.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Easy Fool-Proof Fudge

Easy Fool-Proof Fudge
(servings-9x13 dish)


1 (12 oz.) bag Chocolate Chips
1 can sweetened Condensed Milk
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 cup Nuts, chopped (your favorite)
1 ½ cups Mini Marshmallows


In a large microwavable bowl, combine the chocolate chips and milk. Microwave for 5 minutes on high. Stir mixture until chips are melted. May need a little more time in microwave depending on your microwave. Add vanilla, nuts and marshmallows and stir to combine well. Pour mixture into a 9x13 baking dish lined with wax paper. Refrigerate and chill for two hours before cutting into pieces to serve.

Note: If you can't have nuts or don't like them in your fudge, omit them.

Note: For a thicker fudge, use a 7x11 or 9x9 pan.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Getting Ready for the Holidays

The Christmas and New Year holidays are upon us again.  Many are saying "How'd they get here so fast" or "I have no time to get anything done."  Well, if you are one of these people, take a deep breath and get organized.

Figure your guest count.  Determine how many meals you need to plan.  Make a list (not your Christmas gift one either) of what needs to be done.  Get rid of any items you truly don't have time to do.  Now put the list in order by days of what you need to accomplish on each one.  Big tasks look and are much easier when you break them down.  Then just worry each day about what you need to be doing that day.  If you attack each day this way, the big day or days will be a piece of cake for you.

Besides the meals to satisfy the company that will be dining with you during these days.  What else to you want to do special for the holidays?  Do you want to make holiday treats or breads (sweet or savory) for guests and/or give to special friends to enjoy?

Unless you have lots of time or start early in November, I'd limit the number of different types of items.  Each year I make different jellies, jams and salsas early for holiday gift giving too.  I like doing 3 or 4 different specialties that I do well.  All though I will add an item or two if they are quick and easy at the last minute.  I also like to add a new item each year to help with the variety.  If it is a big hit, then I'll bring it back the next year and drop something else.

I usually ask our children what their top two desires are for this season.  Surprisingly it does change over time.  This year for the first time I can remember, all four had the same item as their top one.  That item was My Favorite Thumb Print Cookie (V).  The recipe says 2 dozen for what you'll get out of it.  But the scoop that I use gives me around 2 1/2 dozen.  I also double the recipe when I make it and get about 5 dozen cookies per batch.

There are already several good holiday recipes on the "Desserts & Baking Recipe" tap above besides this one.  Be sure and check them out.  Also great ideas for those holiday meals you're planning too.

Let's talk candy for the holidays.  I think most people shy away from this because they think it is too difficult. Not always true.  What it does take is having the right equipment for the recipe.  The most important one is probably a "candy thermometer" to make sure you reach the correct temperatures required for a particular recipe.  Another is following the recipe and it's instructions.  If you have everything ready before you start and have the equipment needed, candy can be fun and easy.  Not to mention the bonus of having to taste your results before you let others.

Just to give you a taste of the ease and fun that candy making can be, I've got two recipes for you this week. I'm starting you with ones that don't require any special equipment.  They are both easy to make (fool proof all most), taste great and will give you the desire to try more recipes.  The first is "Easy Fool Proof Fudge."  The second one is for "Whole Frosted Pecans."  Please give them a try and share your results with friends and family.

"Happy Cooking" until next week.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Drop Biscuits

Drop Biscuits


8 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, small cubes at room temperature (see note)
2 cups All Purpose Flour (see note)
2 tsp. Baking Powder
½ tsp. Baking Soda
½ tsp. Kosher Salt
¾ cup Buttermilk


Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the cubed butter and blend into mixture using your hands. Crush the butter cubes between your fingers. Similar to making pie dough. Slowly add the buttermilk while you continue to mix the dough. Don't overwork the dough. Now drop the dough onto a greased or sprayed baking sheet by a spoon. The drop biscuit should be about the size of a peach. The dough should make 12 biscuits. Place baking sheet into a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Note: Try using lard in place of the butter for this recipe. Use 4 ounces of lard for the 8 tbsp. of butter.

Note: Substitute cake flour for the all purpose flour to make a lighter biscuit.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Sweet Potato Biscuits


2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tbsp. Baking Powder
1 tbsp. Sugar
½ tsp. Salt, fine
¼ tsp. Baking Soda
¾ cup Milk (recommend whole milk)
1 cup Sweet Potato, baked & mashed
8 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, frozen
¼ cup Heavy Cream


Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another large bowl, mix the milk and sweet potato until well combined. Next grated the butter using a large holes of box grater. Toss with the dry mixture until butter is coated. Now add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix lightly until dough forms a shaggy mass. Turn mixture out onto a floured surface and knead until it comes together. The dough will not be a smooth mixture. Pat dough into a circle and using a floured rolling pin, roll to a thickness of ¾ inch. Cut into 3 inch circles with a biscuit cutter (see note). Gather leftover dough and redo until you have 8 biscuits. Place biscuits on a baking sheet and brush tops with the heavy cream. Bake on middle rack in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown.

Note: If you don't have a biscuit cutter, there are other items you can use. Try donut cutter, cookie cutter, a glass or any type of item that you believe will work. Be sure to flour these items before cutting so dough doesn't stick. If you don't have anything, you could always cut the biscuits free hand. I'd make the dough into a square or rectangle and cut into square biscuits using this method.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A little Biscuit History.

Biscuits are an American staple, especially in the south.  However, they really originated with the Roman Legions.  The Romans carried them as part of their food previsions.  They were a hard dry disc that didn't spoil easily.  The word comes from the Latin words "bis" and "coctus" that mean "twice" "cooked."

Now just as history and society has evolved since then, so to has the "biscuit."  In England, a biscuit refers to a cracker, small cake or cookie.  Those are not the type of biscuit I'll be talking about today.  I'm going to talk about the "American version of the biscuit."

The "American Biscuit" was a product of Southern Plantations.  It is a leavened product.  The European original was and is an unleavened biscuit.  Baking soda and baking powder are key ingredients to the leavening of the American biscuit.  Other key features of the American biscuit are the use of buttermilk or sour dough as an ingredient.

Typical American biscuits are rolled out dough that is cut into circles, placed on a baking sheet and baked. American biscuits can be savory or sweet depending on other ingredients added.  The sweet ones are usually used for dishes like strawberry shortcake.

Biscuits can be eaten at any meal or with almost any food.  But the most common way to use them is in a southern dish of "Biscuits & Sausage Gravy."  Of course this dish is now served everywhere in the USA, not just the south.

Another southern variation of the biscuit is the "drop biscuit".  The drop biscuit is a fast and simple recipe that takes little time to make.  The batter doesn't have to be kneed or rolled.  Notice I said batter not dough.  It is about the consistency of a quick bread batter but a little less runny.  You do need to watch the amount of milk used; too little and they fall apart, too much and they have no shape.

The drop biscuit is just that.  Using a spoon, you just drop some batter on a baking sheet to the size desired. Space the others and place in an oven to bake.

Both types of biscuits are habit forming.  So enjoy whichever one you have at the moment.  Remember to try them as a base to top with another product, like toast with jelly or jam or as a tool to make a sandwich (breakfast ones are best).

If you're not up for making your own from scratch, you can always buy refrigerated ones in the tube or frozen ones too.  If you haven't tried them before, give them a chance soon.

This week's recipes are for a simple "Drop Biscuit" and a seasonal one "Sweet Potato Biscuits".  Have a great week and "Happy Cooking."

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Argentinian Salad

Argentinian Salad
(4-6 servings)


3 tbsp. Water
2 tbsp. Fresh Lime Juice
1 ½ tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Black Pepper
2 Green Onions (scallions), thinly sliced (white & green parts)
2-3 tbsp. Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 (14 oz.) can Hearts of Palm, sliced ½ inch thick
1-1 ½ cup Fresh Tomato, chopped
1 medium Fresh Avocado, chopped


In a medium bowl, combine the water, juice, oil, salt and pepper with a whisk. Using a rubber spatula, mix in the onion and cilantro. Now fold in the hearts of palm, tomato and avocado to mix well but not destroy them. Chill 2 hours before serving. Gently toss just before service. If serving as a first course, place on a lettuce leaf lined plate.

Note: You want the hearts of palm, tomato and avocado to be roughly the same size pieces after slicing/chopping.

Note: You could use cherry or grape tomatoes in this recipe. Just half them if you do use them.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bacon Beef Burger

Bacon & Beef Burger
(6-8 servings)


1 ½ lb. Fresh Ground Chuck (no leaner than 85/15)
12 oz. Smoked Bacon (not cooked), ground (see note)
as needed Seasoned Salt
as needed Garlic Powder
as needed Onion Powder
as needed Black Pepper
6-8 slices Your Favorite Cheese
6-8 Buns, grilled (your choice)
as needed Condiments (your choice)


In a large bowl combine the beef and bacon not over mixing. Loosely form into 6 or 8 patties and refrigerate at least 1 hour before cooking. Be sure to make an indention in the center of each patty so they don't ball up on you during cooking. You can grill, fry in a pan, use a Panini grill or stove-top grill plate to cook the burgers. Top burgers with the cheese just before they are done to melt. Remember to grill or toast your buns before topping with the burger. Enjoy your favorite condiments with the burger.

Note: Ask the meat department where you buy the bacon to grind it for you. They should do this at no charge. If you don't want to do that, then just use your food processor to grind the bacon.

Note: You could use bacon pieces that come in a jar (Hormel makes these). The burger will still taste great but with not as much bacon flavor as using the raw ground bacon.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Three Years for Cookbook

This food blog, "Cabana Boy Cooks," that I write weekly (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) really began with the idea of writing a cookbook for new and inexperienced cooks.  I wrote the cookbook and then during the process with the publisher, I started the food blog.

The cookbook, "More Than Your First Cookbook," was released three years ago this week.  That was a major event for me because I wanted (and still do) to help people that were unsure of themselves in the kitchen.  One of the pieces to this effort of mine was that with each new year, came new individuals needing that help.  Every year a new class of graduates move out into the world on their own.

That made the cookbook viable for years to come in helping people with the foundation for fun and skill in the kitchen.  The 125 recipes in the cookbook gave a good basis to get started cooking.  Then the food blog became an extension of the cookbook with now close to 300 recipes on it.  The blog also offers more instruction and knowledge on cooking.

I want to take this opportunity to say "Thank You" to all of you that have purchased my cookbook.  Many of you bought it for yourselves.  But as many offered it as a gift to someone special to you.  My hope is that all of you that have the cookbook are enjoying and using it with some regularity.  Also that it has helped you in one or more areas of your cooking expertise.

Those of you that follow my food blog, even if irregularly.  I would like to offer you a big "Thanks" too.  If you like what you see on the food blog, please share the link with others.  I'm still committed to helping people by offering cooking information and recipes that I find interesting and tasty.

As the holiday season is approaching, I'd like to remind everyone that the cookbook makes a very good gift for someone needing a little help in the kitchen.  The cookbook is available in the following locations.

Maryville, Missouri - at the Nodaway News Leader offices (I write a column for that paper).

St. Joseph, Missouri - Hastings Bookstore.

Sioux City, Iowa - Pickerman's (soon to have 2 locations).

Rochester, Minnesota - People's Food Co-op.

If you know me, I always have some cookbooks with me (and will sign them).

The cookbook is also available on-line at my website (www.barrybeacom.tateauthor.com), Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  At all three of the on-line locations, the cookbook is available as a download as well as in book form.

On Wednesday and Thursday this week I have a burger and salad recipe.  The burger recipe is "Bacon Beef Burger" and combines raw ground bacon with ground beef.  The salad is called "Argentinian Salad" and uses "Hearts of Palm" and well worth trying.

"Thank You" again for your support and encouragement.  "Happy Cooking" until next week.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
(12 servings)


4 cups White Bread, cubed
1 cup Pecan Pieces (optional)
4 large Fresh Eggs
3 extra Egg Yolks
1 ½ cup Milk
1 ½ cup Heavy Cream
¾ cup Canned Pumpkin
1 cup Sugar
¼ tsp. Salt
1 tbsp. Rum or Brandy
¼ tsp. Grated Nutmeg
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
¼ tsp. Ground Cloves
2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces


Dry bread cubes on a sheet pan in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Place the bread cubes in a greased 9x13 baking dish and sprinkle (if using) pecan pieces equally over the cubes. In a large bowl, whisk together all the remaining ingredients (except butter) and pour over the cubes. Be sure to let the dish sit for 10 to 15 minutes before placing in the pre-heated oven. Just before going into the oven, dot with butter pieces. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until center is set but not dry. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Note: I'm not a raisin person, but you could also add a cup or two of them to the dish. Before sprinkling over the bread cubes, be sure to place them in a bowl and add hot water to them for one minute. Drain and then sprinkle over the bread cubes and nuts (if using) before adding the liquid mixture to the dish.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Basic Bread Pudding

Basic Bread Pudding
(6-9 servings)


6 slices (day out) White Bread, torn into pieces
1 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted
3 large Fresh Eggs
2 – 2 ½ cup Half & Half
¾ cup Sugar
1 tsp. Pure Vanilla (not imitation)
½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
¼ tsp. Salt


In a greased or sprayed 8x8 baking dish place the torn pieces of bread and top with melted butter. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and then add remaining ingredients while continuing to whisk mixture. Pour the mixture over the bread. Using the whisk, push down on bread to coat with mixture and let sit for 30 minutes to soak in. Place the baking dish in a pre-heated 350 oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until center is set. Don't over bake as dry bread pudding is not desirable. Serve warm with ice cream, whipped cream or just a little half & half. You can cut into pieces or just spoon freely the bread pudding.

Note: To this basic recipe you can add additional ingredients. Some like to add raisins, dried cranberries or cherries and even nuts. Use your imagination and enjoy.

Note: You can double recipe for a 9x13 baking dish. Just increase the time to 60 to 75 minutes or until center is set.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bread Puddings

"Bread pudding," in some form, probably dates back to just after the invention of bread making.  It's creation is linked to the poor and frugal people that couldn't afford to waste anything. What to do with stale bread was the question.  Those bread puddings and other dishes created with that stale bread are vastly different from the bread puddings we know today.

Each culture developed bread pudding based on their culinary ways of the time.  Different regions used different ingredients and seasonings to come up with what met their taste palate.  Stale bread and milk was the two main ingredients.  Then they would add those regional favors consisting of fats and sweeteners. Later, fruits, nuts and the like worked their way into the bread puddings.

Today, bread puddings have evolved into a much more classy dish.  In the middle ages custard was invented.  It's the integral part of today's bread puddings.  Eggs were the addition to the milk and other ingredients that transformed the dish.

In North and South America, Europe and several other countries, bread pudding remains popular.  Bread puddings are both savory and sweet today.  But it is as a dessert that you see it most.

The two recipes I have for you today do not have a sauce.  However,  that has become very popular when serving bread pudding in restaurants.  Their are many different types of sauces you can use.  Some common ones include liquor based, caramel based, fruit based (including lemon), chocolate based and vanilla based. But you can also just serve the bread pudding with whipped cream or ice cream.  Personally, I like mine served warm.  I've just never become a fan of cold bread pudding.

My recipe tomorrow is for "Basic Bread Pudding" and it's simple and easy to make.  The nice thing about the recipe is that you can change it easily to fit your taste or available ingredients.  Be sure to use your imagination and come up with a signature dish that family and friends will crave.

Here are some ideas for ingredients to try.  The most popular are raisins and nuts (pecans probably top this list).  Try using some dried cranberries or cherries, fresh blueberries, diced apples.  You get the idea.  Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, pumpkin spice and even ground cloves put a little zip in the bread pudding. Orange or lemon zest is nice too.  As I stated earlier, just use your imagination and taste-buds.

The second recipe (Thursday) this week is a seasonal bread pudding.  With Thanksgiving coming up in the USA the end of November (28th), I thought "Pumpkin Bread Pudding" might be something new to try this year at the big dinner.  Give it a try and see what everyone thinks.  It might become a mainstay for future  years.

Both recipes just call for white bread.  But please don't limit yourself to just that.  Different breads are going to add different results and flavors.  So again, experiment with this recipes.  Now some breads aren't a best choice for a sweet dish, but follow your own tastes.

I hope you enjoyed today's blog and found it helpful.  If you're not sure about bread pudding and trying a recipe right now.  Check out some of your favorite restaurants and sample some of their bread pudding. You just might get hooked.  "Happy Cooking" and see you next week.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sauerkraut Soup

Sauerkraut Soup
(6-8 servings)


3 slices Bacon, diced
1 lb. Sauerkraut, rinsed,drained & chopped
1 medium Onion, fine dice
3 tbsp. All Purpose Flour
7 cups Beef Stock, hot
1 small Apple, peeled, cored & grated (your choice on type)
1 tbsp. Caraway Seeds
to taste Salt
to taste White Wine (optional)


In a 3 qt. sauce pan, fry bacon over medium-high heat until done. Add the sauerkraut and onion to bacon and fat rendered. Saute mixture until it starts to take on color. To this stir in the flour and cook about 2 minutes. Now add the beef stock, apple, caraway seeds and salt. Simmer covered for 20 minutes over medium-low heat. Adjust seasoning and add a little wine to taste (if using).

Note: You could use a blender, food processor or immersion stick to make a smoother soup.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cilantro Chicken Soup with Pasta

Cilantro Chicken Soup with Pasta
(8-12 servings)


10 cups Water (can use chicken broth but water is less expensive)
2 whole Carrots, small diced
2 stalks of Celery, small diced
1 small Yellow Onion, small diced
1 Bay Leaf
2 tsp. Minced Garlic
½ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Black Pepper
2 cups Cooked, Chopped Chicken (can be white, dark or a mix of chicken)
8 oz. small Pasta (your Choice)
3 tbsp. Chicken Base (less if you use chicken broth) (adjust to your taste)
1 bunch Fresh Cilantro, chopped


Put the first 8 ingredients into a 6 to 8 quart pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook for 30 minutes. Add chicken and pasta to the pot and continue another 15 minutes. During the last 5 minutes adjust seasoning with the chicken base and then add the cilantro. You may need to add a little more water after the pasta cooks. It depends on how thick you like your soup. Make final adjustment to seasoning and remove the bay leaf before serving.

Note: I don’t peel my carrots when I use them in soups and casseroles. You may want to for looks, but you don’t need to for taste. It’s more of a personal preference and it saves time as well.

Note: Leftover chicken of any source (rotisserie, baked, fried, etc) will work here. Just remove the skin and bones, chop to bite-size and add to soup.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It's Soup Time Again

The weather has been cooling down now for a few weeks.  I don't know about you, but that cool weather makes me desire hot and hearty soups.  I like soup all year-round but there is something about having soup on a cold day and how it makes you feel so much better.

I've got about a dozen soup recipes on this blog already and another dozen in my cookbook.  One of the nice things about making soup.  They're not that hard to make.  Yes, some take a little more time than others because of the prep work involved.  But many soup recipes are very compatible to the "Slow-Cooker" or "Crock-Pot."  So don't be afraid to give it a try.  Master your favorite soup and you always have a signature dish to fall  back on with guests or family.

Don't forget to try your own variations to a recipe.  That helps in making it that signature dish for you to be known for at mealtime.

This week I start with a recipe for "Cilantro Chicken with Pasta" tomorrow.  This dish is very close to a chicken noodle soup recipe in the cookbook.  But I  love cilantro and so I added a bunch to the soup.  Depending on how much (or little) you like cilantro, the amount can be adjusted up or down.  I'd recommend adding a little garnish of cilantro to the bowls just before serving.

A while back I did a blog week on using rotisserie chicken (leftover) in dishes.  This recipes works very well for that leftover rotisserie chicken.

The second soup this week is one that might scare you when you hear it.  It's "Sauerkraut Soup" and it is very tasty.  My first experience with it was on our honeymoon in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  There is a German restaurant there (mentioned in the Oktoberfest blog last month) that serves it.  I have to say I was blown away by it.  So please give it a try.  This recipe for the "Sauerkraut Soup" comes from Germany.  So any of my German followers, please let me know if it compares to what you have in your country.

My wife had me buy a sled for this year's snow.  She wants to take our granddaughter sledding this winter.  When we bought it, we both said it probably won't snow now because we're ready.  Haven't seen any yet and I'm not complaining.  Won't bother me if it is not able to be used this year. Although I believe my wife and granddaughter will be disappointed.

Well, have a great time trying the soup recipes and "Happy Cooking" until next week.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sour Cream Raisin Pie

Sour Cream Raisin Pie


2 large Fresh Eggs
1 cup Sugar
1 ½ cup Sour Cream
½ cup Evaporated Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
½ tsp. Cinnamon
½ tsp. Nutmeg
1 ½ cup Raisins (see note)
1 unbaked Pie Shell (see note)


In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients, except the raisins & pie shell, until well combined. Next fold in the raisins and then pour mixture into the pie shell. Place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until browned. Cool and serve.

Note: You can place the raisins in a strainer and pour hot water over them or in a pan of hot water and then strain them. This does need to be done before mixing in with the other ingredients.

Note: You can use a refrigerated pie shell, frozen pie shell (thawed) or make your own pie dough.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Upside Down Pumpkin Dessert

Upside Down Pumpkin Dessert
(12-20 servings)


3 large Fresh Eggs
1 (15 oz.) can Pumpkin
1 ½/ cups Sugar
2 tsp. Cinnamon
½ tsp. Ground Ginger
½ tsp. Ground Cloves
½ tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1 (15 oz.) can Evaporated Milk

1 box Yellow Cake Mix
8 tbsp. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, melted
1 cup Pecan Nuts, chopped


In a large bowl, combine and mix well the first set of ingredients (eggs through milk). Then pour this mixture into an ungreased 9x13 baking dish. Now crumble the cake mix over this mixture. Then pour the melted butter over the cake mix. Place the baking dish in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes. Just after removing from oven, sprinkle the chopped nuts over the dish. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

Note: You can skip the nuts in needed or use a different one that meets your taste or budget better.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Desserts for Holiday Season.

It seems hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us.  This year has gone way too fast.  But here it is - November with "Thanksgiving" and "Hanukkah" just a few weeks away.  "Christmas" and "New Year's" are just around the corner.  I'm sure most of you are like me and not ready for this season.

Well it's not too late to plan and execute for the dinners and parties of the season.  Take a sheet of paper for each event and start making notes.  Are you hosting or being a guest?  If you're hosting, how many are you expecting?  What type (sit-down & pass the food, buffet) of meal do you need to plan?  If you're a guest, what do they want you to bring?  Get the menu together and start on items that can be made early.  Don't leave everything to the last minute.  Remember, if you have guests coming - let them bring a dish to help.  That way they feel a part of the gathering.

This blog is full of recipes that can help you with some part of this season.  Look it over and pick out a few to compliment your own traditional dishes that are required.  It's always nice to have some new items to balance all those favorites of family and friends.

For this week, I'm offering 2 desserts you might want to try during the holidays.  The first is an "Upside Down Pumpkin Dessert" and goes well with Thanksgiving.  I like about anything pumpkin and it's a shame that we don't use it more throughout the year.  It is available year-round.

The second is one I've not tasted.  I don't like raisins and especially cooked raisins.  But this is my grandmother's "Sour Cream Raisin Pie" and everyone that has eaten it, absolutely love it.  My grandmother died back in 1962.  Since than my mother has kept a tradition alive making this recipe she grew up on as a child on the farm.  If you like raisins and have never tried this type of pie, I'm told you're in for a treat.

I entered another "Chili Contest" a few weeks back.  I didn't win with the judges but those eating wiped my pan clean.  I know a judge.  So this week I'll get some feedback.  Based on the input, I'll do some tweaking for the next time.  I make a chili with beans and one without.  It's the without one that I enter in contests.  This was only the second time in a contest.  I'll keep you informed as I do more in the future.

Again, get started on your holiday planning and "Happy Cooking" until next week.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Apple Jelly

Apple Jelly
(4 half pints)


5 lb. Apples (see note)
5 cup Water
3 cup Sugar
¼ tsp. Crystalline Ascorbic Acid


Wash apples and remove stem & blossom ends. Cut apples into wedges (no need to core or peel) and place in the water of a large sauce pan. Over medium heat, bring apples to a boil and gently cook for about 20 minutes or until very soft. Line a colander with 2 layers of cheesecloth and suspend over a stainless steel bowl (china bowl works too). Place the cooked apples into the cheesecloth and let drip several hours or until apples are dry. This should yield 4 cups of apple juice. If need to be press apples to yield more juice but do it through a new piece of cheesecloth. In a stainless steel pot, combine the apple juice, sugar and ascorbic acid and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Heat to 220 degrees or until mixture sheets on the back of a metal spoon. Remove pan from heat and spoon off any froth before filling jars within ½ inch of top. Make sure the jars have in sterilized and are warm before adding mixture. Wipe rims with a clean cloth and pour the melted wax on top to a thickness of 3/8 inch (approximately) and let cool. Once cooled, put lid on jar and store in a dark cool place. After opening a jar, please refrigerate.

Note: To seal with paraffin wax, please be careful. Place a small to medium sauce on the stove top with an inch of water in it. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Place a disposable foil pie pan on top of the sauce pan. Cut one slab of wax (4 in a box) into several pieces and carefully place them in the pie pan. The heat will melt the wax. Once all the wax in the pie pan has melted, carefully pour over the apple butter in the jars. Repeat the process until all the jars are sealed.

Note: To sterilize jars, you can place them in boiling water for a few minutes. USDA guidelines suggest 15 minutes of boiling for the jars. Be sure to use only clean equipment when making jellies or canning other products.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Rhubarb-Cherry Jam

Rhubarb-Cherry Jam
(8 - half pints)


5 cup Fresh Rhubarb, diced (see note)
4 cup Sugar
1 (21 oz.) can Cherry Pie Filling
2 (3 oz.) pkg. Raspberry Jello Mix
as needed Wax, melted to seal jars


In a medium sauce pan, bring the rhubarb and sugar to a boil and continue 10 minutes. Add the pie filling and return to a boil continuing for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the dry jello to the mixture. Combine well and then fill half pint jars to within ½ inch of top. Make sure the jars have in sterilized and are warm before adding mixture. Wipe rims with a clean cloth and pour the melted wax on top to a thickness of 3/8 inch (approximately) and let cool. Once cooled, put lid on jar and store in a dark cool place. After opening a jar, please refrigerate.

Note: You can use frozen rhubarb in this recipe. Just thaw before using but include the liquid from thawed rhubarb.

Note: You can use blueberry pie filling to give a different flavor profile for the jam too.

Note: To seal with paraffin wax, please be careful. Place a small to medium sauce on the stove top with an inch of water in it. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Place a disposable foil pie pan on top of the sauce pan. Cut one slab of wax (4 in a box) into several pieces and carefully place them in the pie pan. The heat will melt the wax. Once all the wax in the pie pan has melted, carefully pour over the apple butter in the jars. Repeat the process until all the jars are sealed.

Note: To sterilize jars, you can place them in boiling water for a few minutes. USDA guidelines suggest 15 minutes of boiling for the jars. Be sure to use only clean equipment when making jellies or canning other products.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jellies & Jams.

Jelly and Jam making can be fun and quite tasty. They are both similar and different in their processes for making the finished product.  Today's blog will not be a full in-depth course in making jelly and jam but a good introduction.

There are already a couple of recipes on the blog.  One is for Apple Butter (V).  Another is for Green & Red Pepper Jelly (V).  The green & red pepper jelly gives you both a different heat level and color for presentation.

Let's get on with jelly and jam making.  Starting with equipment, you'll need heavy stainless steel pots or kettles.  They will need to be size appropriate to the batch size you will be making.  It would help to have a scale, candy thermometer, ladle, funnel, canning jars (1/4 pint, 1/2 pint & maybe pint) and proper lids.
I use paraffin wax to seal my jars.  That was how I was taught by my mother and grandmothers.  Some people today don't believe this method to be the safest way and suggest canning lids, filling jars almost full and doing water baths for jams (jelly doesn't need one).  You can go whichever way you feel most comfortable.  You do need to be careful when melting the wax.  It is flammable so you need to pay attention.  I've never encountered a problem or even heard of anyone who has either.  You do need to keep them in a cool dark place.  If it gets too hot the wax will have a problem.
Another piece of equipment you may want is a jelly bag and stand for your jelly making.  If you don't have one, cheesecloth, a colander and a stainless steel bowl will work just fine.
In making jelly, you need to extract the juice from the fruit (reason for paragraph above).  You then combine sugar (amount depends on the fruit) and another ingredient or two depending on type of jelly you're making.
Jams use fruit pulp instead of juice.  This makes a thicker heavier spread.  It still takes sugar and a few other ingredients again depending on what fruit you are working with in the recipe.
You need to be a little more hands on with jams.  They can stick, scorch or burn easier than jellies.  So you need to stir more and watch your pot.
Measurements need to be accurate when making both jelly and jam.  Some say that recipes should be for no larger of a batch than to fill 4 half-pint jars.  I usually double that amount and have not had any problems once again.
It also helps to be organized and start early (especially with jelly) when making these types of recipes.
This week the 2 recipes are for "Rhubarb-Cherry Jam" and "Apple Jelly."  The rhubarb-cherry one is a favorite of mine.  Well enjoy trying one of these or the ones mentioned at the start of this blog.  "Happy Cooking" until next week.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Apple, Fennel & Sage Covered Pork Chops

Apple, Fennel & Sage Covered Pork Chops
(6-8 servings)


8 (3 to 4 oz.) Thin cut Boneless Pork Chops
as needed Salt & Black Pepper
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
1 Leek, (white & light green part only) thinly sliced
1 bulb Fennel, halved lengthwise, cored & thinly sliced (crosswise)
1 medium Fuji Apple, halved lengthwise, cored & thinly sliced
8 small Fresh Sage Leaves, coarsely chopped
1 cup Hard Cider


Season the pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large saute pan over high heat, bring the oil to almost smoking. Cook chops until browned on both sides turning only once (1-2 minutes per side). Remove chops to a platter and keep warm. Using the same saute pan, add the butter and reduce heat to medium. Add the leeks and cook for about 3 minutes or until tender. Now add the fennel and apple continuing to cook an additional 4 minutes or until softened. Next add the sage and cook for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper, remove to a plate and keep warm. Pour the hard cider and any meat juices from the platter holding the chops to the saute pan. Bring to a boil over high heat until it thickens (about 4 minutes). Place the fennel mixture over the pork chops and top everything with the sauce and serve.

Note: If you don't want to use hard cider, just substitute plain apple cider.

Note: You can use other types of apple in this recipe too.

Ideas for Future Efforts