Monday, December 30, 2013

City Chicken a.k.a. Mock Chicken Legs

This post is mainly a marker; I haven't actually made these yet, but my mother-in-law does every year, and since they're a family favorite, I figure I should record the recipe for posterity. Next year, I'll watch her make them and add more details, but for now, she offered this:

4 lbs. veal (special order from the butcher)
4 lbs. pork boneless roast, also special ordered, because the butcher cuts it up for mock chicken legs, though Grandma cuts them further.)
Put on sticks (the butcher from Festival Foods throws these in with the the price of the meat), alternating pork and veal.
Dip in egg, roll in saltine cracker crumbs (w salt and pepper)
Brown in Crisco in roaster (This is the most time-consuming part, as this recipe makes about 50 "legs."

Place in roaster (covered) with 1 large diced onion over the tops, in oven at 350 degrees for an hour and 15 minutes or so (50 legs takes that long, apparently) Poke with a fork to check for doneness. Transfer to another pan to keep warm so that you can make gravy from leavings in bottom of pan.

Finally, have a family feast!

Stay tuned for updates next year! :)

Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole

Last summer, my niece and her kids stayed with us for some days during which I was tutoring in the morning, and this recipe seemed like a great idea; you make it the night before, let it cook all night, and let your guests eat it when they wake up. They loved it. I made it again last night for my daughter and her friends (who had a college-friends-catch-up sleepover) so I took a few pics and thought I'd share the recipe.


1 24-oz bag of frozen hashbrowns 
1 lb. cooked bacon or sausage (I used one package of regular breakfast sausage in a tube.), drained
2 cups of grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

Optional ingredients:
1/2 cup diced green onions 
1 green pepper, diced 
1 cup diced diced mushrooms (my addition, required, if you ask me!)

1 dozen eggs
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried mustard (optional)

First, cook and drain the meat, crumbling the bacon if that's what you used.

Layer the hash browns, meat, veggies, and cheese 2-3 times, ending with cheese. My crock pot is big, so I just made two layers.

Whisk eggs, milk, and seasonings together

and pour evenly over the stuff in the crock pot.

Set to low for eight hours, checking after seven hours but making sure the eggs are cooked. This recipe can burn around the edges if you let it go too long. Here's what mine looked like after seven hours:

I served it with ketchup, and it was fantastic. YUM

I just realized that this recipe would be perfect to make at our family reunion next summer; it can easily be prepped ahead.

For a printer-friendly copy without the pictures, click here.

I found this recipe here.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Turkey Tetrazzini

Years ago, I started Mrs.4444 Cooks, inspired by the one and only Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. I actually got to meet her once, in the lobby of BlogHer '09 Chicago, and I'm happy to confirm that:

*That she's every bit as down-to-earth as she seems on her blog (and on her cooking show).
*Her husband is a smokin' hot gentleman.
*Her boys are adorable little rascals who reminded me of puppies playing together (They were bored 4-5 year-olds at the time, and I didn't blame them.)

Anyway, although I don't get to Ree's blog very often, I am "friends" with her on Facebook, and she shared some tempting after-Thanksgiving recipes, so I thought I'd give one a whirl.  I liked it very much, and Mr.4444 proclaimed it "wonderful," so I thought I'd share it here.

This recipe reminded me of my Chicken Spaghetti recipe in the way that's it's prepared, so if you've made that, this one should be a snap. I'll warn you, though; this recipe is not for anyone in a hurry. I estimate that I was in the kitchen for an hour and a half, as there are a lot of ingredients to prep (or maybe I'm just slow):

Yes; that's stuffing on that plate with the turkey.
No, I didn't use the stuffing, and that was far more than enough turkey, too.
The containers in the middle-back hold frozen turkey broth; I had to thaw it.
Here's a handy photo of the ingredients after prepping
(click to make it nice and big):

Here's a list of the ingredients, in order of use:

4 Tbls. butter
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 pound of mushrooms (the best part, IMO!), cleaned and quartered 
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
1/3 cup flour
4+ cups turkey or chicken broth
1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened 
3 cups shredded or chopped turkey
1 cup finely-chopped black olives
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
4 slices of cooked, chopped bacon
1 cup grated Montery Jack cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

After you prep everything, put the pasta on to cook. When it's done, drain it and set it in a very large bowl (I use my biggest Tupperware bowl.).

Heat a large skillet to medium-high and melt the butter. Add the garlic and saute for a couple of minutes.

Add the mushrooms. At this point, I must interject to advise you that the best way to clean mushrooms is to wipe them with a clean, dry cloth.

See? Nice and clean and not slimy! Oh, and yes, I rebelled against the quartering advice and cut some of them in sixths and even eighths!

Add the salt and cook some more (2-3 minutes)

Pour in the wine and cook 5-7 minutes, until about half of the liquid has evaporated.

Next, sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and use a whisk to mix it in.
(Congratulations; you have made a "roux," which is a flour/fat mixture used for thickening sauces.)

Then add three cups of the broth, and cook it a few more minutes to thicken it a little. For what it's worth, I couldn't get mind to thicken much at this point, but I had added four cups of the broth, instead of three. It didn't turn out to matter, though.

Next, reduce the heat to low and cut the cream cheese into small pieces, adding it to the roux.
Stir to mix it in well. This is about how much it will melt in.

Then add the remaining ingredients: turkey, peas, bacon,

and cheeses.

Mix well. At this point, pour it all over the spaghetti in a very large bowl and mix it well.  Add the extra cup (or more) of broth now, as you want it to be nice and moist, as the spaghetti is going to soak up some of the broth. When I made this, I used four cups of broth, plus another 3/4 cups.

Top with breadcrumbs and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly and the top is browned.

For what it's worth, this recipe made enough for me to generously fill three 2-quart casserole dishes. I cooked one for Mr.4444 and me and froze the other two without putting the breadcrumbs on the ones that I put in the freezer.

The only thing I might do differently next time (and there will be a next time) is maybe add finely-chopped celery to the mushrooms/garlic. Sorry I don't have a photo of the finished product; I was too busy eating!

Fall Pumpkin Dip

When I first saw this recipe (shared by a friend) I thought Why would I make that? It's terrible for you! But then I remembered that pumpkin is a vegetable! So I made it. It's delicious!

16 oz Cool Whip
1 small can of pumpkin puree
1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Whip together and chill. Serve with gingersnap cookies or graham cracker sticks.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Easy-But-Popular Taco Dip

I couldn't get away without taco dip at our annual Halloween party; everyone loves it.
It couldn't be easier to make, really; I even hesitated to post it here for that reason,
but I figured my kids might want the "recipe" some day, so here goes.

1 pkg cream cheese, softened
1 pkg sour cream
1 pkg taco seasoning of your choice
Your favorite taco sauce
Shredded cheddar cheese (about a cup)
Toppings: chopped lettuce, more cheese, diced tomato, slided black olives

I doubled these ingredients for our party.

First, blend the sour cream, cream cheese, and taco seasoning until smooth.

Spread the mixture out over the pan of your choosing. 
Since I'd doubled the recipe, I used a large serving tray, 
which is about the size of a big cookie sheet. 
The dip base was about 1/2" deep.

Drizzle some taco sauce over that (about as much you like).

Then spread it around evenly.

This is Wisconsin; we love our dairy products, so I sprinkled some cheese on next.
Some people put it on top, but I don't like it when it falls off of my chip; 
I like to sprinkle it where it'll stick a little.

Add chopped lettuce and any other toppings you like.

Some would say that black olives are a must, but you can do what you like.
You can also sprinkle a little more cheese on top
and even drizzle a little more taco sauce if you like.

Chill for at least an hour. If you want, you can make it the night before
and keep it covered in the fridge,
 but hold off on chopping the toppings until shortly before serving.

Serve with Tostitos.

Brain Hemorrhage Shots

As many of you know, we have an annual Halloween party. 
I generally abstain from alcohol; it just doesn't agree with me, for the most part, 
though I do enjoy the rare Baileys on-the rocks. 
That said, our party guests enjoy shots, 
so this year we decided to make the eye-appealing "Brain Hemorrhage" shot. 
I found the directions here. 

Peach Schnapps
Baileys Irish Cream
Blue Curacao
Grenadine (Buy a small one; you don't need much.)

The directions said to first fill a shot glass half-full of schnapps and to then "carefully" add Baileys until it's nearing the top. This is what it looked like when I wasn't careful enough;

The photo below shows the shots I made, 
in order of learning curve (from left to right).
I learned that using a spoon to carefully drop the liquids in 
resulted in the best look.

This is not a shot recipe for careless people who lack patience;
take your time.

Getting back to the directions....
After the Baileys, spoon the blue Curacao in carefully.

Then drop 3-4 drops of grenadine in.
(I used a tiny plastic shotglass to do this.)

The more careful you are, the better they look.

Partygoers who drank these were pretty grossed out by the texture of the "brain bits" in them
(which is half the fun, right?)
though not grossed out enough to spit them out.

"It tastes about like you'd expect a brain hemorrhage to taste."

I'm pretty sure no one drank more than one.

For what it's worth, I made these shots more than an hour before we needed them,
and they stayed just as gross-looking until we served them.

To Pin this recipe, hover your mouse over any of the photos.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Creamed-Spinach Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Poached Eggs

If you know me, you know that when I get stressed, I cook, 
and this recipe kept me so busy that I didn't even think 
about the party we're having at our house next weekend 
or the five million things I have to do for it. 
Nope; all I thought about was Why isn't Mark making me breakfast? That's his thing!  
making my man happy.

Mr.4444 came home from a business trip Friday with eight packages of Portobello mushrooms; 
some whole, some sliced, some other variations, which a customer had given to him. 
That's a lot of mushrooms! 
Naturally, I turned to Pinterest and found this first of many gems.

This recipe is not for those in a hurry or those who don't like a lot of steps. 
The first step I took was to make the suggested Hollandaise sauce. Who knew it was so simple? Eggs, butter, lemon juice, and a little bit of cayenne pepper. 
And the process is so pretty!

Thanks, Pioneer Woman, for the awesome blender recipe!


(I included the box of quinoa in my photo, but you could serve this over something else.
Don't ask me what; I'm not that creative in the kitchen.)
If you're interested in a printable, text-only version of this recipe, click here.

Ingredients prepped:

(Mr.4444 was so proud of me!)
BTW, the lemon juice for the Hollandaise is missing from the photo above

The bacon gets chopped when it's raw.

The recipe I used called for half an onion, but I went with more like 1/2, 
as I couldn't imagine using that much.

I've never cooked with Portobellos before. I had to Google to learn a little first, 
like the fact that if you don't scoop out the "fins," they can make things mushy. 
I also learned to use the point of a spoon, not the side of it, 
to dig out the fins; it really does make a difference. 

I included two extra pieces of mushroom below, 
because the recipe called for dicing up the stems, but mine didn't have any to speak of.
I guess this could be important if you don't happen to have a ton of extras, as I did.

Another bit of research I did recommended scoring the tops of the mushrooms, so I did;
just lightly slice over the skin.

Now, when I followed the next steps, I had my laptop open
 and had to keep scrolling down through the steps, which I found frustrating, 
so, for your cooking ease, I created a snapshot of what to do, instead.
You should be able to click on it to see it bigger, if necessary.

The only note I would add is that you can feel free to add a little more fat, 
if you need to, to step two.
Oh, and add a "generous pinch" of salt to the gravy before adding the spinach.

Scoop into mushrooms (brushed with olive oil).
Doesn't this look amazing?!

By the way, this filling (and even the eggs) can be prepared the day before
and reheated when you're ready for them, according to Meseidy (Mah-say-dee)
of The Noshery, where I found this recipe.

Pop the mushrooms into a 400-degree oven on a cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick spray.
As you bake those for ten minutes, poach two eggs.
We like to poach our eggs in a big pan, so that they can cook at the same time but not touch.

After ten minutes, the mushrooms should look something like this:

Place on a bed of whatever you like; I chose quinoa (my first time!)
Place poached eggs on top,
pour Hollandaise sauce over that,
and top with remaining bacon.

Mr.4444 proclaimed this dish "fantastic,"
but he was still hungry when he was finished.
I was completely satisfied.
This dish is somewhat rich; eating more than one wouldn't have worked to fill Mr.4444 up,
though we've decided to double the eggs next time.
I'm not sure what I'd add to make it more filling.
Any suggestions?

How to Prepare Portobello mushrooms

I found this recipe via this pin, and I highly recommend The Noshery; it's my new favorite cooking blog!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Homemade Pesto

Does this look amazing, or what?!

It tasted amazing, too, with its wonderful mix of flavors and textures; I just love pesto, and when it comes to recipe payback for the amount of work put in, this one really packs a punch. It's made with six simples ingredients that bring plain pasta to life and make you feel like a gourmet cook! I found this gem, years ago, in my The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook.

1 cup packed with basil leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts (or walnuts), chopped finely
1/3 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (and no, you can't just use the canned stuff--the horror!)
1-2 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp salt

One method is to throw everything into a food processor and chop until it meets your pesto-texture preference. Another way is to simply chop the basil and nuts and then mix everything together. Then mix it with freshly cooked pasta, use it on homemade chicken pesto pizza, or whatever your heart desires. This recipe freezes beautifully; I packed a frozen container in our camping cooler and served it a few days later. If using that method, allow it to thaw to room temperature before mixing with your pasta. (There is no need for it to be hot when you put it on hot pasta.) If it's too cold and you don't have time to let it get to room temperature, set it in a pan of warm water while you boil the pasta.

This year, I used my own basil, grown in my garden. Next year, I plan to plant several plants and whip up enough to freeze and give as gifts--It's that delicious. I'd love to hear how you like it! :)