Sunday, November 14, 2010

Homemade Apple Mini-pies

Chop 3 apples (Granny Smith), add 1 TBS water, and simmer on medium low until the apples get tender. Add sugar, a touch of flour and your spices and cook on medium until the mixture thickens (like pie filling)

Roll out your dough and cut into 5" circles...Put about 2 tablespoons of filling on one half of the dough, fold over and "fork it" seal the edges. (you can cheat and use pie crust premade or go for the gusto and make your own)

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 with powdered sugar

TRY to get these on a serving platter BEFORE your family comes to "test" them :)

Braised Short Ribs


Braised short ribs, step one...

Next, work on your caramelized carrots, celery and onion, step two

Mix together Red wine with fresh sprigs of rosemary and thyme, along with a head (10-12 cloves) of fresh garlic, and a hint of oregano and basil

Pour wine mixture over glazed veggies and let simmer until the liquid reduces..

Here' the wine I used...on sale at Lowe's grocery store and great for cooking!!!

Cook until the liquid is almost fully absorbed...You'll know by the smell that it's ready...

Vegetables should ALWAYS be sauteed or caramelized in olive oil... :)

Pour the condensed mixture over your browned/braised short ribs....

Pour enough low sodium beef stock (or chicken stock) over the ribs and veggies just to barely with aluminum foil and cook 2-3 hours at 300 degrees....(Cooked version coming up in 2-3 hours....LOL)

After the meat has cooked a good 2-3 hours (lean toward the 3, trust me, it is worth it), strain the veggies for noodle topping and boil the remaining juice until it thickens. put this juice over your short ribs and noodles. 

This is how your strained veggies should look, note if you don't want veggies over the noodles, you can freeze this mixture and thaw when you want to add some quick great flavor to a short-cooking roast...

I've served it here with sauteed Escarole and egg noodles....mmmmm...


JoAnna's State Champion Chili

JoAnna’s “State Champion” Chili Beans
(serves about 6-8)

1 ½ -2 pounds lean ground beef (ground chicken, turkey or venison will also work)
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium sweet banana pepper, chopped (or use any mildly hot pepper from your garden)

Brown ground beef in a stockpot until almost done, drain and add all chopped peppers. Return to heat and cook (on medium to medium high) for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. To the beef/vegetable mixture, add the following:

28 oz. can diced/chopped or whole tomatoes
15.5 oz can pinto beans
15.5 oz can light red kidney beans
15.5 oz can chili beans (mixture of pintos, etc.)
2 - 15.5 oz cans dark red kidney beans
15.5 oz can tomato sauce
5 TBSP catsup
3 TBSP garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)
3 TBSP chili powder
1 TBSP cumin powder
2 TSP black pepper
2 TSP salt
1 TSP cayenne pepper
1 TSP sugar

Stir all ingredients well and cook on medium for about 30 minutes, turn down to low and let simmer another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Leaves just a touch of heat in your mouth. If you like it HOT, increase the cayenne pepper to 1 TBSP.

(for a great leftover idea, take the leftover chili, spread it into a lightly greased baking dish,spread/pour in one can of drained yellow corn and cover with a boxed Mexican or plain cornbread mix and cook according to cornbread directions)

Creamy Garlic Chicken Pizza

If you want to make entirely from scratch, please see my note: Deep Dish JoAnna style for a good dough recipe, otherwise, use prepared to save time:

Prepare pizza dough mix per package directions and fit into your pan. Chilled pizza dough works too...


2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 tbsp. minced garlic (can substitute garlic powder)
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. half & half
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese (good if fresh)
1/4 c. parsley

In large saucepan, melt butter. Saute garlic over medium heat for 1 minute (until garlic tender). Remove from heat. Stir in flour, blend until smooth. Return to heat and gradually add half and half. Stir in cheese and parsley. Heat until sauce thickened and smooth.

1-2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
As much mozzarella as you like...
Lots of fresh basil and parsley

Put sauce on the pizza dough and evenly put the rest of the ingredients on top. I tend to put cheese on both the top and bottom of the ingredients then sprinkle basil and parsley on top.

Cook at 425 degrees for about 12-15 minutes.

Deep Dish Pizza



3-3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 pkg. active dry yeast, fast rising
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. hot water
2 tsp. honey
1 tbsp. olive oil
a little bit of cornmeal for the pan

1. In large bowl (use electric mixer if available) add 2 1/2 cups flour, yeast and salt. Stir to blend thoroughly. In small bowl combine HOT water, honey and oil until blended.

2. Add water mixture to flour mixture. Mix to blend, then beat at medium speed until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Stir in about 1/2 more flour to make soft dough.

3. Turn dough out onto floured board or pastry cloth. Knead until dough is smooth and and small bubbles form just under surface (8-10 minutes), adding just enough flour (up to 1/2 cup) to prevent dough from being sticky.

4. Turn dough into a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (30-40 minutes).Put dough onto a lightly floured surface, punch dough down, cover with inverted bowl and let rest 10 minutes.

5. Roll dough out and place in greased, deep dish pizza pan or a metal Large Pie Pan (I find that if you lightly sprinkle some cornmeal on the bottom it keeps dough from sticking and browns the bottom nicely). Stretch dough to fit pan.

1 sm. onion
1/2 clove garlic
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1 bay leaf (take out before using sauce)
Pinch of pepper
Salt to taste
2 tbsp. sugar

Toppings: (feel free to use your own)
Ground, cooked beef
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
Mozzarella cheese (or a cheese blend of monterrey/cheddar, etc)

Dice onions and garlic, fry lightly in oil. Season with oregano, basil and pepper. Stir in tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, salt and sugar. Let simmer on low for about 20-25 minutes (or until sauce is thick).

Place mozzarella slices on the bottom, then cover with meat and vegetables, sauce, and another layer of meat and vegetables. I always like the pepperoni to be on top so it cooks well. Cover with shredded mozzarella then put a little bit of sauce (spoonfuls) over the cheese topping and bake at 450 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is nicely brown and bubbly.

This is NOT Diet Food and I hope I didn't leave anything out!!! <3JLH

Chicken and Dumplings-homemade dough or canned biscuits?

So today i'm going to make chicken and dumplings the "easy" way, by using frozen ready-made dumplings.  I'm going to stick to my basic onion, celery, broth base, but instead of making my own from scratch dumplings, I'll be substituting pre-made.  I wonder how the family will react?  Will they even know these are "cheater dumplings"....well, I guess I will find out.

My normal recipe for the best chicken and dumplings (including a dumpling dough you can also use as biscuits), can be found here:

I'll post pics (and comments) tonight of the "cheater" way...


Chicken and Dumplings

This will serve a family of 6 well...and you'll have some leftovers :-)

3 Chicken Breasts (skin and bone in)
1 peeled and chopped carrot
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
(chopped meaning the size of a green pea or so)
6-8 chicken bouillon cubes (or 3 if using large ones)
Ground black pepper to taste
3 teaspoons salt (leave out if your bouillon has salt already in it)
Water to cover all ingredients (see note below)
*I add some random seasonings like garlic, do it the way you like it* 

Put all of these items into enough water in a large stockpot to thoroughly cover the ingredients with about 2 inches of water over them (7-9 cups water). Cook on high to medium high long enough to cook the chicken breasts thoroughly without overcooking. (about 20 minutes of full on boiling)...

(Meanwhile, go make the dumplings)...

(Makes about 20 biscuits or enough for 6-8 biscuits and dough for dumplings)
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
14 tsp baking powder (yes, 14 teaspoons)
2 tsp baking soda
9-10 tbsp margarine (or butter, softened to margarine consistency, OR Crisco)
1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cup regular milk (or 2%, not skim)

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl or food processor. Cut the butter/margarine into bits and either pulse it in the food processor or rub the margarine and flour mixture between your palms until it crumbles and falls into very small pieces. All the margarine/butter should be completely mixed in before adding milk. Add milk in half portions and mix together just until a ball forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it TEN more than that. Add flour to your surface if the dough is sticking, but don't knead it too much. Roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thick and cut out 6-8 biscuits by using a biscuit cutter or a 2" rimmed glass. Put these onto a non-greased pan and set aside. Roll the remaining dough out pretty thin for the dumplings and cut them into 1 inch squares using a floured butter knife or a pizza cutter (easiest).

Now, back to your cooked chicken stock.....Remove the chicken breasts from the stock and let cool long enough for you to handle the chicken. Remove all meat and tear into bite-portions, putting these into a bowl to be added back to the stock after the dumplings are done. (take the boiled skin and cut it up for your pets to have a nice treat :-)

After you've removed the chicken and prepared it for adding back to the stock, go back to your stockpan and make sure the heat is set so that it is still boiling. Add dumplings (about 10 at a time) and stir as they start to plump up. Continue adding 10 at a time, then stirring, to keep the dumplings cooking. After you've added the last of the dumplings and stirred, cover your pot and let it cook about 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the torn up chicken. The dumplings will continue to cook as the pot gets to "eating temperature".

Now...with your oven set to 450 degrees, cook the biscuits for 7-9 minutes until nice golden on the tops.

Serve the chicken and dumplings with the biscuits and a nice salad :-)

Enjoy...and remember to invite your Grandma over for dinner every now and then... 

<3 JLH

Friday, November 12, 2010

Help give Balloons to Kids within the Children's Miracle Network

Please check this out, do a couple of activities,and help me raise "balloons" for sick children by clicking the link below this image.... :)  Thanks for participating, and feel free to share after you've done your part!!!

Eagle Brand® Signature Recipe Contest

Limit one entry per person/e-mail address, per recipe category. The Eagle Brand® Signature Recipe Contest ("Contest") begins on October 15, 2010 at 12:00 p.m. noon Eastern Time ET and ends on January 10, 2011 at 11:59 a.m. ET ("Contest Period").

You Can Enter By Mail: Eagle Brand Signature Recipe Contest, C/O Cohn & Wolfe, 200 Fifth Avenue, Floor 7, New York, NY 10010.

My Favorite Set of Kitchen Knives (a must have)

I love this set of stainless steel knives, it's wonderful for alleviating stress in the kitchen, while offering quality knives that are easy to sharpen, clean, and store.  Recommended for every kitchen where humor is part of the "flavor"...

The Ex 5-Piece Knife Set with Unique Red Holder Designed By Raffaele Iannello

In addition, this is a hilarious pen holder, geez!  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spicy vodka sauce for pasta

1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto (or very finely chopped cooked bacon if you do not have prosciutto)
3/4 cup vodka (can go up to 1 cup, depending on your taste)
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup half-and-half cream 

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion, celery, and garlic in oil; stir until soft. Add prosciutto (or cooked bacon) and vodka. Simmer until almost all liquid is gone.
2. Add tomatoes, cayenne, and herbs. Simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Stir in half and half, and heat for 3 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water until done. Drain. Serve sauce over noodles.

Chicken Parmesan, my way

4  boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (pounded to 1/4 in thick)
1/2 cup italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 egg
dash of salt and pepper
flour to coat chicken, seasoned with garlic, oregano, and pepper
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Red sauce of your choice
Shredded Mozzarella cheese

1. Flatten chicken to 1/4-in. thickness. In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and basil. In another bowl, beat the egg with salt and pepper. Coat chicken with seasoned flour, then dip chicken into egg, then coat with crumb mixture. In a large skillet, brown chicken in butter and oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.

Take cooked chicken and spoon about 2 tablespoons of your fav. red sauce over each piece and cover with shredded cheese. Sprinkle on some parsley for an added touch.  Broil on high until Mozzarella starts to brown.

Serve with pasta and veggies...yum!!!

Banana Nut Bread

This is a wonderful bread to make for your family and something to do with those bananas that are turning brown in your fridge...

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup butter or margarine (can use Crisco as well)
2 cups sugar
2 cups mashed overripe bananas (about 4-5 bananas)
4 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I like pecans, but they're harder to find shelled)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees . Grease and flour two 9x5 inch loaf pans.
Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter or margarine and sugar until smooth. Stir in the bananas, eggs, and walnuts until well blended. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture, and stir just until blended. Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf pans.
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes until a knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let the loaves cool in the pans for at least 5 minutes, then take out (put on cooling rack if you have one) and cool completely. Wrap in aluminum foil to keep in the moisture. 

I like to serve this by putting a slice of the bread on a plate, covering with vanilla/cherry ice cream, caramel or chocolate and some sprinkles to make it like a banana split, but in cake form :)