Saturday, August 25, 2012


My Everyday Pan
When I got married over 43 years ago, I had to make do with some hand-me-down pots and pans from my mother and my mother-in-law.  Since I was a fairly new young cook, it was good move.  Christmas a few years later, my husband gave me a set of ‘Magnalite’ cookware. It was heavy and durable, except the large skillet soon became warped, but I still have it and still use it from time to time.  When our first two children married, we bought them each a set of ‘Magnalite’.   The pots and pans we used in the restaurant were very much like ‘Magnalite’, except being restaurant quality. 

Recently, I have added some new pans to my collection.  The first one was called an ‘Everyday Pan’.  The name says it all.  You could use it every day.  If I only had one pan in my kitchen, this is the one. 
Kielbasa with Apples & Carrots

Lots of time I use it to make a one dish meal.  Saute’ meat, add a few vegetables, maybe some beans, pasta or rice.  That’s a great way to use up leftovers.  Sometimes, I use it to fry bacon and then fry up some hominy in the drippings.  It can also go from stove top to oven for more cooking or to keep warm.  I used it the other day to make chicken marsala.  Everything cooks up nice and cleans up well. For serving the family kitchen style, the Everyday Pan can go from stove to table for easier serving.

I love cooking, so I don’t need expensive things to turn out a nice dinner, but adding this pan has made cooking more fun as I can imagine a taste and be more creative.

When my husband bought that set of cookware 40 years ago, I thought I would use every piece really often, but I never did.  Some pieces got used a lot, while others just sat there.  I would never buy an entire set of cookware again.  I would be more selective and choose the ones that would do the best job for what I want to cook.  My cookware would not even be of the same brand.  I have a sauté pan by Paderno, made in Canada, that I picked up while in Nova Scotia a few years ago.  I have several pieces of Caphalon.   The way I cook now is a lot different than it used to be, as I learn new cooking skills and add new tools to my kitchen!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Meatball subs

You will need ½ to ¾ oz. meatballs (1 oz. will work).  I buy frozen, but you can make your own.  Heat meatballs with pizza sauce (whatever your favorite sauce, I use either Dom Pepino pizza or homemade pizza sauce).  I usually buy the 6” hoagie or sub rolls.  Cut a pocket into the roll just deep enough to hold you meatballs.  Today many of them are already sliced.  Wrap foil around you roll folded back like a boat-with the cut exposed-to hold it together. Put chopped raw onions and hot chopped peppers into the roll first.  Then, fill your roll with meatballs and sauce.  Top with mozzarella cheese or what 450 F.  until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. 
We made meatball subs in the restaurant.  Before we served them, we would go to a couple of other restaurants where they were served.  I’ve always enjoyed meatball subs.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hot Dogs and the fixin's

Today I was thinking about Memorial Day and what to fix. To think about this holiday always brings me back to hot dogs and all the fixings.  When I simply want a hot dog it would be with chopped onions and mustard.  Of course you have to decide how to cook the hot dogs.  Most of the time they are boiled in the kitchen, but this is a special day that marks the real start of the grilling season. I say the real start because we have already been cooking outside this spring as the weather has been beautiful. There are do's and don't's when you cook a hot dog. Do let a grilled dog get a little brown on all sides, turning them with tongs so you don't break the skin and never split or stick them with a fork. Making holes in the skin causes the juice to run out and you end up with a dry dog.
This special day calls for special toppings for the grilled dog and there are so many ideas. Most kids like ketchup on everything and to them it's as special as it gets. For special times, nice thick creamy coleslaw is delicious.
The kraut dog is good especially if the dog is cooked in the saurkraut.
Sometimes I like chili, cheese and onions. That's the way I order it from The Varsity in Atlanta, GA or at Hard Times Cafe in Frederick, MD.
Today at, I found new ways to serve a hot dog. How about wrapped in bacon?

How do you top your hot dog?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Hamburger & Gravy

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Old Fashioned Pot Roast

When I was  young,  I walked into my parents house after school and the aroma drifted to my nose and I was immediately hungry and salivating.  I guess this was my comfort food, as it always made my day better.  It can be a very simple meal or very elaborate.  It's always a very versatile dish, and could be changed into other things if there were any leftovers.
I like chuck roast as it is easy to work with and has so much flavor. Of course the flavor comes from the fat, which is why you don't ever cut it off.  If meat is free of fat, it becomes dry and bland when cooked.  Did I tell you that price plays a big part in the selection of chuck roast?  Generally it is a low price and many times this cut of meat is used make delicious ground beef.  
Put the chuck roast in a big dutch oven, cover it with water, add a small handful of salt (maybe 2-3 tablespoons, which can be adjusted later), 1 large onion cut in to eighths, 6-8 garlic cloves.  Cover and simmer for several hours ( this was about 2 1/2-3 pounds, so it simmered about 3 hours).  The last hour, add some small peeled potatoes, carrots and celery.  If I would have had some very small onions, I would have added at least 6. Check the broth for salt, cover and simmer.  When the vegetables stick fork tender, it's ready to serve.
Serve with a salad and butter bread.
I love a dish that is versatile.  Add whatever I want and it always turns out good. Gravy is good on the pot roast.  I put a cup or two of coffee in mine.  When I did that one time, our son was over to dinner and he asked what the secret ingredient was that he was tasting.  "It's not bad Mama, but I can't tell what it is," he said.  I leaned over and whispered, "it's coffee!"  Well, you should have seen his face, a look of total surprise.  Then he leaned toward me and asked, "Does Dad know?"  To say my husband hates coffee, would not be true.  He absolutely detests it.  He says, "Good and coffee don't belong in the same statement."  I love coffee and so do our children.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Minestrone Soup

I had some leftover zucchini and squash dish. What to do with it? Okay, I will turn this into soup.
I cut some sweet Italian sausage into very small slices, sautéed it in a little olive oil and added some more chopped onions, about 1/8 cup chopped orange peppers, and 5-6 minced garlic cloves. Added about a quart chicken broth, more seasonings—fennel seed, oregano, basil, marjoram, and Italian seasoning and about a cup of macaroni noodles—letting it simmer until the macaroni was almost soft, then put in some spinach. Check for salt and serve with lots of shredded asiago cheese.
My husband wants me to remember how I made this. I don’t really measure anything. Sort of go by feel and taste.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Italian style Zucchini and Squash

Zucchini and squash are favorites of mine. They are easy to cook and very versatile. My oldest daughter loves them both with onion sautéed in a skillet with olive oil until tender. While she was here during Thanksgiving week, I quartered the squash and zucchini then sliced it into small chunks and cooked it with onion and salt in my everyday pan and took out just enough for her. Then I added some diced tomatoes, fresh minced garlic, fennel seed, oregano, basil, marjoram, and Italian seasoning and shredded some fresh asiago cheese. I served this as the vegetable to accompany most any meat.
It does not take long to cook and the calories are very low. Tomatoes are rich in vitamins and lycopene, which is good for the eyes and the heart.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Slippery Pot Pie

  This has been a family favorite for generations.  My mother made it.  My mother-in-law made, as well as her mother and her mother's mother and so on.  Some of our ancestors were from Germany and some settled in Pennsylvania; hence, Pennsylvania Dutch. 
    You can buy a whole chicken for this or you can do as I do and use the chicken parts that your family don't like such as necks, wings, back bones and giblets.  I save them in a large ziploc bag in the freezer until I have enough.  If your chicken was previously frozen, then cook off the parts and freeze the broth and chicken for another time.  It will keep well in your freezer for about 6 weeks.  
    This is what the recipe calls for.
1 large chicken
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced (I don't always put them in, because I don't need the extra carbs)
1 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cups diced celery
1/2 teaspoon pepper
salt to taste
Cover chicken with water and cook in large pot, until tender.  
Remove chicken from broth and set aside to cool and debone.  ( if you refridgerate broth for several hours or over night, fat will rise to the top and is easy to remove.)
Add vegetables to broth with salt and pepper.  When the broth is boiling, add the pot pie dough.
Pot Pie Dough
4 cups all-purpose flour (I use unbleached)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups milk (This is where you can get rid of some milk that might be out of date by a few days)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 beaten egg
Mix ingredients and knead into a firm mixture.  divide in half and using a rolling pin roll first half out on lightly floured surface.  Cut dough into squares 1 1/2 inches or smaller.  Drop squares into boiling broth, repeat with rest of dough.  Cook until dough is puffed and tender.  It is served as a stew. 
Vegetables that go well with this is cole slaw, pepper slaw, peas, carrots, broccoli, or Salad. I sometimes add carrots or peas to the pot pie when cooking.  My children don't like peas very much, so if they are here for dinner, I won't.
My husband, children and grandchildren say the best part is the dough.  I will admit that the dough is delicious, but I love all of it equally.
If you don't like chicken, beef is good as well.  I heard stories of my grandfather-in-law (Brant) hunting for squirrels or rabbits for pot pie.  I have also had ham and bean pot pie at the fire hall.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Polynesian Sausage Dish

Friday, April 13, 2012

Texas Toast French Toast

This is a delicious family loved recipe.  It's a break from the normal Saturday morning pancakes.
8 eggs
12 oz canned milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
12 slices Texas toast
Whisk eggs well.  Add the rest of ingredients and whisk until well blended, making sure that sugar and salt dissolve.  Pour egg mixture into a sheet cake pan.  Place Texas toast slices in egg mixture, rotating to coat well until all liquid is soaked up.  Sprinkle each side with cinnamon.  Bake on a lightly greased griddle at 350 until golden brown on the outside and puffy in the middle. Serves 6.
Serve with lots of butter and maple syrup.  Jellies or honey are also good.  Perhaps some slice fruit with yogurt for a healthy breakfast.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cooking like Grandma

Cooking can be fun and relaxing. Recipes can come from a book or from the imagination of the cook. When creating a new dish, my family will ask, “What is it?” It is simply, “Mother’s or Grandmother’s imagination!” This is the way my grandmother cooked all the time and if you asked what was in the dish, it was ‘a pinch of this and a dash of that…...’ I never saw a cookbook or even a loose recipe at Grandma’s house. I spent my summers with Grandma and even stayed a whole school year. I do tell the ingredients in my dish, but usually after everyone has tried it, in the event I put something in that they are not fond of. This is a way of getting them to like something they never liked before. Another way of cooking is to start with a recipe and make it your own by adding or subtracting ingredients or simply adjusting the ingredients to our liking. Some recipes are changed because of being too fattening or contains an ingredient someone can’t have or simply to please the taste buds.
I especially like to use ‘Grandmother’s imagination’ when I run short on meat. Making a one dish meal is a way of stretching 2 servings of meat to feed 3-4 people or 4 servings to feed 6-8. Cooking like this does not take a lot of time. I can usually have something like this ready well within the hour. I pull out my favorite pan, called an ‘every day pan’ because you can use it pretty much every day. If I only had one pan in my kitchen, this would be the one. However, a skillet or a Dutch oven will work as well. I put just a tablespoon or two of olive oil in the pan and sauté meat that has been cut into strips or bites or ground or chopped and then add what I might compliment the dish that day; which could be onions, peppers (yellow, red, orange or green) and garlic. Often, I put celery, carrots and potatoes. If the mood strikes I might deglaze the pan with red or white wine, mostly, it’s either water or chicken broth and the amount is based upon whether I want to make a soup or a stew or just a main dish meal. I might add some rice or pasta to the dish to thicken it or to make it go further if it seems a little small for the amount of people. Adding one or two cans of beans, like cannellini, great northern, pinto or kidney will make a more nutritious dish as you add more fiber. Most recipes call for the beans to be drained of all liquid, I just dump the whole can into the pan. I always add the beans last and heat them through. I don’t like mushy beans.
Sometimes I add spices to this kind of a dish.  If I want Italian, add Italian spices and a can of diced or crushed tomatoes.  Mexican you would add taco seasoning and serve with cheese and sour cream.  To become Cajun, add Cajun spices and the meat would be sausage.
Sides are not a problem with these dishes as they can be very simple since you already have a lot of vegetables in the main dish. Buttered bread (store bought or homemade) is the simplest. My family love corn bread. A side salad will go nicely or Cole slaw. For dessert, if you have room, ice cream or simply pound cake.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sausage and Steamed Vegetables

Last night was one of those last minute 'What to Fix for Dinner' kind of days.  Breakfast sausage won out over all the other things in my freezer.  Besides, my family loves sausage of most any kind.

6-8 small carrots
1 small yellow squash
1 red bell pepper
olive oil or butter
fresh ground pepper
basil (my seasoning of choice when it comes to carrots)
12 little links or breakfast sausage (3 for each person)
1 leftover baked potato (since the little ones aren't fond of fried potatoes)
sliced onions and sliced peppers

Peel carrots and sliced them about 1/4 inch thick and place them in the bottom of the steamer pan.  Then wash and slice squash about 1/4 inch thick and lay them over the carrots.  Wash and clean red bell pepper and slice 1/4 inch thick and layer them over the squash.  Place steamer pan over boiling water, cover and adjust heat to med-high.  Steam until desired tenderness.  Place steam vegetables in serving dish, season as desired, (this is when I use the olive oil, salt, pepper and basil).  Cover to keep warm until serving.
Cook the sausage in a pan or skillet (I used my every day pan) over med heat.  I had one leftover baked potato, so I cut it into small cubes and browned it with some onion and peppers in the every day pan after the sausage was cooked.  Simply move the sausage to the edge of the pan to stay warm and put the potatoes, onion and peppers in the middle, then season with salt and pepper.

I was really looking for something low-calorie and lots of vegetables. Dinner was very colorful.  Since my husband does not particularly like squash, I didn't know how the steamed vegetables would work.  However, he told me it was a nice mix of vegetables and they went well with the sausage.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Warmer weather means Deviled Eggs

My husband loves deviled eggs, more than that, he loves my deviled eggs.  I use very little mayonnaise and plenty of yellow mustard.  Over the years I have made deviled eggs for friends and church groups and even in our restaurant. These are the ingredients I use:

9 eggs that are not too fresh
1 teaspoon of mayonnaise
yellow mustard (French's is the one I prefer)
fresh ground pepper

I don't use really fresh eggs as they don't peel very well after cooking.  Then your eggs look like the dibbets on a golf ball.  Place older eggs in a pan of cold water covering the eggs by an inch, place over medium high heat and bring to a simmer.  Turn the heat off and cover with a lid for 15 minutes.  Drain the water, cool down with cold water and peel the eggs.
Cut eggs in half so they will be oval in shape.  Remove the yolks to a small bowl, using a fork, mash with to taste salt, add the mayonnaise, fresh ground pepper, and enough mustard to make it the consistency you desire.  Fill the hollows of the egg whites with the yolk mixture.  Sprinkle with paprika, chill and serve.

You can vary the proportions to your own taste.  If I am serving them today, I use less mustard.  If I am serving them tomorrow, I use more mustard.  Good deviled eggs don't need pickles and relish.  I save those for the hot dogs and hamburgers.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Chicken Parmesan

Tonight we had Chicken Parmesan.  My family loves Italian and Parmesan is a favorite dish.

1-1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt & pepper
1 cup flour
1 egg, beaten with a little water
1 cup grated cheese, Parmesan, Romano, asiago (I use asiago and grate it myself)
1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
marinara sauce (I make my own)
olive oil for frying
mozzarella cheese, shredded

Lay chicken breasts flat on cutting board and slice to make thinner portions.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  You will need 3 containers; the first one for the flour, the second for the beaten egg, and the third for grated cheese and bread crumbs mixed together.  Dredge chicken in flour, dip in beaten egg, and roll in cheese and bread crumb mixture, then place the finished pieces on a cookie sheet.
Heat a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, add chicken without crowding.  Put enough marinara sauce to cover the bottom of baking dish or pan. When chicken is brown on both sides, place in baking pan with marinara sauce and ladle a little more over the top, then sprinkle a generous amount of shredded mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 375, 30 to 40 minutes till cheese is bubbly and starts to brown slightly.

For my homemade marinara sauce:

1 29 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup diced onions
1/4 cup red wine
6-8 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

Place all ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer 30 to 40 minutes while you assemble the chicken Parmesan.

Serve with spaghetti and grated cheese, we also ate Caesar Salad with this.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Swiss steak

Tonight's dinner will be swiss steak.  Since it's just my husband and 2 1/2 year old granddaughter, I can make it the way I like.  Others in the family have an aversion to onions and peppers, so I usually can't add as much and have to chop them finely enough they can't tell they are in the dish.
I am only making a small amount, maybe

3/4 to a pound of top round steak
1/2 cup onions
1/4 cup orange bell peppers cut in thin strips
6 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 cup red wine
one 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
salt, pepper and paprika to taste
For me 5 mushrooms sliced

Dredge thin slices of steak in flour, place in a sizzling pan with olive oil, and give it a sprinkle of salt and fresh ground pepper.  I use an every day pan.  If there was only one pan in my kitchen, the every day pan is the one I would choose.  Brown meat on both sides and remove to a plate and keep warm.  I sauteed my mushrooms with a sprinkle of salt and pepper at this point, as I need to keep them separate--my husband does not like them--and remove them to a small dish and keep warm.  Add more olive oil and saute onions and peppers with a sprinkle of salt and fresh ground pepper, remove to dish with steak.  Quickly saute minced garlic, then add the wine to deglaze the pan, simmer for a minute or so.  Slip the steak, onions and peppers back into the pan, add paprika to taste, give a stir and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, I put a cover on for the last 5 or 10 minutes.  
While I was cooking the swiss steak, peeled and cut 3 potatoes and put them in water with a little salt to cook till tender.  When they are tender I drain the water and mash them with butter and milk, adjust the salt and add fresh ground pepper.
With this I could have a salad, but since I have peas and pearl onions leftover from last night, they will be wonderful.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Memorable Beginning

My interest in food comes from Mama and Grandma.  I remember as a small child coming to the kitchen just to watch food being prepared.  When times were good, food was plentiful and many dishes would be made and filled the table.  More often than not, the cupboard was nearly bare.  That simple fact did not stop Mama from putting something on the table to enjoy as well as to keep us from starving.  I remember hearing it said of Mama, "Your mother can make dinner from nothing!"  It truly seemed that she could.  I remember having beans and biscuits a lot.  Beans went on the stove in the morning and that would be lunch and supper.  The only meat was a hunk of fat back thrown into the pot of beans as it was cheap and seasoned well.  If there was self-rising flour, lard and buttermilk we would have biscuits with the beans.
I remember the landlord saying to Mama that she could have tomatoes from his garden.  When she started to picking the tomatoes they were green and we had fried green tomatoes.  Once they were ripe we had sliced tomatoes in a sandwich of either sliced white bread or biscuits, and occasionally a piece of fried fat back.  Then she would make fried ripe tomatoes or tomato gravy or maybe a tomato salad.
I also remember that winter we had just potatoes to eat.  Then it was baked potatoes, boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes or potatoes roasted in the coals of the fireplace.  Mama got creative so it did not seem like we were eating the same thing over and over.
When I went to stay at Grandma's house, she showed me how to make biscuits.  One day I decided I wanted to make biscuits all by myself, after all I had watched so much I figured I knew how.  So Grandma was willing to give me the chance.  I made the biscuits and Grandma stayed right there with me, but she did not say a word.  The biscuits tasted really  good, but Grandma said the were 'too short', meaning I put too much lard in them. Grandpa seemed to enjoy them.
I make biscuits today and still think about that experience so long ago.  Grandma made biscuits at every meal, but I only make them on occasion.  My family prefers scrambled eggs and sausage gravy with the biscuits, but I go back to my childhood and eat them with jelly (preferably pepper jelly) or honey mixed with butter or -my favorite-Grandma's Molasses stirred into butter.  Since this does not fit with a real healthy diet, it only happens about once a month.
Cooking is a passion for me and I am still learning about new foods and new techniques.  The Food channel is about all the TV for me.  I subscribe to several cooking blogs and research new recipes online.
Cooking is not my only passion.  God keeps me busy.  Once I asked for a challenge and He has been challenging me ever since.