“Christmas” Cookies? We Don’t Need No Stinking Christmas Cookies!

Chocolate Chip Cookies – makes 3 dozen

1/3 cup margarine or butter

1/3 cup shortening

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp Vanilla (OK if you add 1 teaspoon more)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

6 oz (1 cup) chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional), such as pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 F

1. Cream the sugars with the shortening and margarine

2. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix well

3. Add the flour, salt, and soda. Mix until combined. The dough will be stiff.

4. Mix in the chocolate chips and nuts.

5. Drop rounded tablespoon of dough on ungreased cookie sheet.

6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Tops should be slightly brown.  Overdone cookies are sneaky – the tops will look OK but the bottoms will be black. If that happens, just scrape the burnt stuff off with a butter knife. It’s happened to me many times (hey, I was busy watching the game on TV and/or drinking beer).

7. Cool on racks, then store in airtight container or plastic bag (what I usually do).

If you want that festive seasonal look, substitute 1 cup colored M & Ms for the chocolate chips. They make M & Ms for almost all holidays so you’re covered.

Thanks for the kind words for my healing. This is what I traded the Frankenstein fixator for:

My new boot

My new boot

Below is something to dance to while cookie baking. It is from Elvis’ 1957 Christmas album. It is in MP3 format.

04 Santa Claus Is Back in Town

Post-hospital pantry scrounge + Motor Maid dreamin’

We are so grateful for our neighbors’ kindness.  Tough times, we help each other.  While I was in the hospital recovering from the bike accident, Mr. Mike was coping with the biggest flood to hit this area since 1983, thanks to Hurricane Isaac.  Twenty inches of rain in 48 hours created havoc for Black Creek.  Floodwaters rose to within 2 feet of our front door – and we’re on stilts!! My cooking is limited to what’s on hand, and what I can do seated in front of the stove, because my walker doesn’t allow much mobility.  But hey, you have what you need…between pantry scrounging and using recipes found while reading magazines in the hospital, we’ve been eating OK.  Here are two:

cheese tortellini w browned butter + spinach

Pantry scrounging turned up cheese ravioli, which worked fine in place of the tortellini.  We had one very ripe tomato, a holdover from pre-accident shopping.  I did not use frozen peas because we made a tossed salad – other veggies needed to be used up.  However, the flavor was surprisingly good.  And it was easy to make with a broken wrist.  The next night I used this recipe:

black bean & zucchini chili + chili stuffed peppers Note: recipes came from Real Simple

More scrounging revealed a zucchini and red peppers were in desperate need of attention.  There were black beans and enchilada sauce in the pantry, so the above recipe inspired our scrounge chile stuffed peppers.  No meat was defrosted, so I just ignored it and used the beans, zucchini, onions, and enchilada sauce.  Chili spices were added to the enchilada sauce, a quick simmer, and then stuffed it into the pepper halves.  They were baked according to instructions.  Very tasty.  Remember – what you need is what you got.  It is right in front of you.  Thanks to all who sent well wishes for my recovery – I truly appreciate them and believe they do speed recovery.

Now, here’s another look at MMs in Spartanburg SC.  I’m dreaming of next year’s convention in Bend Oregon!

on display at host hotel

It takes all kinds

Parking garage tune-up

another display bike

Dot Robinson’s pink Harley. Now ridden by her granddaughter

MM history. Previous uniforms.

Spartanburg dealer BBQ

9/11 memorial ride with first responders, MM participants

It’s Hot – Let’s Use What We Got

Back in the harness…hot and tired after preparing food for 1700 + young’uns at Oak Grove Elementary.  The heat also means an abundance of produce, perfect for quick meals.  What follows are some links to recipes which take advantage of the fresh veggies and are easy for us tired oldies ready to put our feet up with a cold one.

Eggplant Involtini is from Cooking Light.

Eggplant Involtini

 

Baked Italian Style Cauliflower

The cauliflower recipe also is from Cooking Light.  I did the final cooking in the microwave instead of the oven.  The cauliflower wasn’t as browned as it would be from the oven, but it still had good flavor.

Honey-lemon carrots & spicy sweet potatoes

 

These two recipes come from Women’s Day.  The sweet potatoes can be cooked on the grill and pair well with grilled pork chops and chicken.

 

Mom's new cat, Jack the Ripper

Mom’s new cat, Jack the Ripper

 

 

 

Smothered Gator Means Successful Hunt

Alligators are plentiful around this part of the South.  I was surprised to learn there are an estimated 5,000 gators in a reservoir near our state capital 100 miles from here.  We’re competing for the same habitat, and I’m not sure who is winning.  Haven’t seen one in the creek yet (it’s too shallow) but one was killed in a pond about 1/4 mile from here because he was considered a “pest”.  Gator tail is considered good eating.  To me it “tastes like chicken”.  Kinda chewy though.  Thought you’d enjoy a gator hunt story and a recipe for smothered gator. Recipe comes from The Shadows-on-the-Teche Cookbook.

First Time Gator Hunters Successful_2012

 

Smothered Alligator

2 onions, finely chopped                     1 bay leaf

¼ cup cooking oil                                ¼ tsp basil

1 bell pepper, finely chopped             Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup celery, finely chopped              ¼ cup finely chopped parsley

2 pounds alligator meat, cut into       ¼ cup finely chopped shallots

chunks

 

Saute onions in oil until golden brown; add bell pepper and celery and sauté until tender.  Add meat and seasonings and simmer for 40 minutes.  Add parsley and shallots about 5 minutes before serving.  Yield: 6-8 servings

 

If you prefer to BBQ your gator tail instead of smothering, marinate in wine for a couple of hours before grilling.

 

Green and Brown Wild Things: Bacon and Broccoli Mac & Cheese

OK – first things first.  The macaroni & cheese recipe was part of my trip preparation: use up perishables and buy as little food as possible pre-trip.  The recipe comes from April 2012 Cooking Light.  I made some modifications to the ingredients because scrounging is perfect for using things up.

Bacon & Broccoli Mac & Cheese (serves 2)

1.5-2 cups broccoli florets

4 oz spaghetti, broken in half (recipe calls for rigatoni but I didn’t have any)

1/4 cup chopped onion

3/4 tsp all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp butter, or thereabouts

1 cup + 2 Tbsp milk (1 or 2%)

1 oz American cheese, cut into cubes (recipe calls for reduced fat; in reality there is little difference for American cheese)

1 thinly sliced green onion

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1 slice bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 oz (1/4 cup) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Steam or microwave broccoli until crisp-tender (I microwaved mine). Cook pasta to the al dente stage, drain and keep warm. Heat butter in pan (could be the same one used to cook pasta) and saute chopped onions until they are soft; sprinkle flour over onion mixture, cook for about one minute, stirring constantly. Now this is a challenge with a small amount of roux, so plan on adding the milk soon after adding the flour to the butter.  Gradually add the milk and heat mixture until it reaches the boiling stage.  Stirring with a whisk is recommended. Cook for about one minute until slightly thick, then remove pan from the heaat.  Add American cheese and stir until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients, adding broccoli and pasta last.

Per serving:

Calories: 413; Fat 13.3 g; Protein 19.6 g; Fiber 3.8g. Calcium 317 mg; Sodium 772 mg

Roux with onions sauteed in butter first

Add milk to roux and heat until thickened

Add American cheese and stir until melted

Add bacon and green onions

 

Finished

Finished; tastes better than it looks

Now the green thing: We were surprised to find a green frog under my luggage rack when stopped for the night Sunday.  The little guy traveled over 200 miles in 90+ degree weather!  I captured him and put him in the garden next to the motel.

Frog under Triumph luggage rack

Frog under the luggage rack

Frog just visible under luggage rack

And the brown thing: We were on highway 259 in OK, descending into a valley after a steep climb over a 2800 ft mountain (yes, OK has mountains, check the map).  Mr. Mike was riding ahead of me.  As I rounded a curve, an adult brown bear was standing at the side of the road! I’ve seen deer, moose, coyotes, foxes, armadillos etc while riding, but this was a first for me.  Shades of Wild Kingdom!  Immediately I slowed down (he was a couple hundred feet ahead) and laid on the horn, which is the same technique used for a dog chasing your motorcycle.  The idea is to slow just as they get close, then accelerate away from the animal.  Well, fortunately I didn’t have to execute the near stop and acceleration move because the bear ambled from the edge of the road to a shrub about 10 feet away, all the while looking at me.  Sorry, no photo.  Perhaps the car behind me was able to get one.  Next, more things you can’t plan for.

Onions – To Your Health & Flavor

Spring onions, shallots, or just plain old yellow onions are featured in many recipes as we move into warmer weather.  The link below describes onion’s role as a flavor enhancer for foods.  Several recipes are included.  Text color is a little light but you should be able to read it – I wish mag publishers wouldn’t use fancy font colors.  Stick to black.

FNM_Sp12Onion

The almost Cajun trilogy

The almost Cajun trilogy

Have onion haters in the family?  It likely isn’t the flavor causing the “yuk” reaction, it is onion’s texture.  In my mass quantity days students will ask to have onions removed from recipes.  When you do this the flavor is removed as well, which students don’t like either.  The solution?  Mince or puree the onions (run through the buffalo chopper or food processor) or use onion powder.  “Yuk” texture gone, flavor intact.

BBQ Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Salad – No Scrounging Necessary

BBQ pork tenderloin with pineapple salad

BBQ pork tenderloin with pineapple salad

 

Occaisionally the moon and stars align.  Last Saturday I actually had ALL the ingredients listed for this recipe!! It is from May 2012 Women’s Day.  You’ll need:

1 1/4 lb pork tenderloin

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp ancho or other chili powder (I used ancho.  It has less heat than other chili powders)

Kosher (or flake) salt and pepper

3 Tbsp lime juice

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 small pineapple, peeled, cored, cut into small pieces or 1 15 oz can pineapple chunks in juice, drained

1 red or green pepper, thinly sliced

1 jalapeno, seeded (optional)

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

2 cups leaf lettuce torn into small pieces or baby lettuce

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Either line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or spray the sheet with no-stick spray.  Combine the sugar, chili powder, 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper.  Rub pork with spice mixture and transfer to the baking sheet. Roast until internal temperature is 145 degrees F, 18 – 22 minutes.  I prefer non-pink pork, so I roasted the meat for about 40 minutes.  Your choice.  Let pork rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

While pork cooks, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Add the beans, pineapple, bell pepper, jalapeno, cilantro, and lettuce.  Toss to combine.

Slice pork tenderloin into half inch slices.  Place pork on top of salad mixture.  Leftover salad (if any) is even better the next day.

Serves 4

Main ingredients

 

Pineapple salad

Pineapple salad

 

Pork with salad. Deglazed pan juices on pork

Nutrition analysis: 348 kcal, 8 g fat, 784 mg sodium, 37 g protein, 8 g fiber

Don’t overlook “mundane” reads such as Women’s Day.  They actually test their recipes, unlike some food mags.  Until next time, happy scrounging!

What to do with cabbage ’til St. Pat’s Day returns: Irish-Bohunk Cabbage

Cabbage love is shared by Northerners and Southerners alike.  We may disagree on politics, who’s number one in college football, and guns but we do like our green cabbage.  Stuffed, fried, in soup, and just plain ol’ boiled it is on the national menu.  A few years ago I had lunch at a buffet restaurant in Vidalia, LA.  Boiled cabbage practically needed its’ own staff to replenish the supply!! The cook was vague about her special cabbage recipe, so it’s a good excuse for a bike ride to The Killer’s old stomping grounds.  By the way, he just married for the 7th time.Cabbage is plentiful and cheap around these parts now, which is perfect for us scrounging people.  The following is a Southern Bohunk casserole which honors our shared Irish roots and my bohunk father.

Since last week I’ve been a substitute lunch lady at elementary school’s child nutrition program – back in my mass quantity groove!  Feeding 1,500 hungry young’uns breakfast and lunch has me falling asleep easily at night!

Irish-Bohunk Cabbage (serves 2)

1 lb green cabbage, 1″ slices

1 to 1/2 cup chopped onion, to your taste

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt or celery salt (I use Penzeys celery salt)

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 1/2 teaspoons Polish seasoning (I use Penzeys), made from salt, black & white pepper, sugar, coriander, garlic, mustard, marjoram, mace, and savory

6-8 oz lean ground beef (80/20 is fine)

8 oz stewed or crushed tomatoes

Splash of balsamic vinegar added with tomatoes, optional

1/4 cup shredded cheese ( your choice, optional)

Cook the meat, onions, green pepper and garlic in a 12″ skillet until the meat is browned (slight crust) and vegetables are tender.  Drain any accumulated fat.

While the meat cooks, put the sliced cabbage in a 2 quart covered casserole and microwave about 5-7 minutes on high until the cabbage is softened but not mushy.  There is no need to add water.

Reduce the skillet’s heat to low and add the spices and tomatoes to the meat mixture. Stir while the mixture reduces slightly, 1-2 minutes.  Remove skillet from heat.

Take about half the cabbage from the casserole; set on a plate (or casserole lid; I am lazy about washing dishes).  Place half the meat mixture on the cabbage in the casserole.  Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of cheese (if using).  Put remainder of cabbage on the meat, then layer the rest of the meat mixture on the cabbage.  Add 2 tablespoons cheese (if using).  Cover casserole and return to the microwave and cook for about 10 minutes on high.  Let set covered for about 2-3 minutes.  Be careful when removing the lid – there will be lots of steam (and steam burns are no fun, believe me).  Enjoy with beer (Guinness or PBR suggested) and crusty bread.

 

Onions and peppers chopped in 1/2″ pieces.  Crush garlic to release allicin before chopping

 

Browning ground beef and vegetables

Cabbage and ground beef layers

Plated cabbage casserole

Spices and Shoes – You Can’t Have Too Many

I have a thing for spices, sort of like a thing for shoes (yeah, I like shoes).  The spice collection now occupies a kitchen cabinet and is creeping into another one.  Penzeys catalog descriptions make even sumac berries appealing.  If you haven’t checked them out, the address is www.penzeys.com (No, I am not related to Penzeys nor do I have no stock in the company)

Spices have been used for thousands of years as flavorings and preservatives.  More recently health benefits are linked to spices such as tumeric and cinnamon.  I learned that spice mixtures such as the one described in the article below (Food & Nutrition link) mitigate the effects of grilling – you know, the cancer potential from eating grilled foods.  Well, don’t let the food police scare you off – enjoy cookout season and try a new spice combination.  I’m going to try the Moroccan Sliders – try them and let me know if you like them.

Food&NutritionMag_Spring_2012_not your mothers spice

Penzeys includes recipes in their catalog

Macarons? We Don’t Need No Stinking Macarons. Biscuits Rule!

Whitney Miller

Whitney Miller, southern belle

Women in designer duds standing in line for macarons?  For cupcakes?  C’mon people, macarons and cupcakes are delicious, but it’s only food and we Americans are overfed anyway.  Now biscuits and cornbread are life essentials.  Biscuit making is an art, but I’ll share a recipe that minimizes  airborne flour and exact proportions.

Miss Whitney is a lovely young lady.  As long as I’ve known her, she has always demonstrated serenity and confidence.  And she flashes that beautiful smile, no matter how challenging the task.

I like this recipe because she clearly describes how to make the biscuits.  There are lots of recipes out there missing a few cogs, if you know what I mean.  Follow her recipe and enjoy great biscuits with any meal.  They make awesome strawberry shortcake too.  Don’t fuss with adding butter, sugar, or some other ingredient that doesn’t belong.  Stick to the basics.  When you are comfortable making biscuits using Whitney’s method, then you can try making them with a rolling pin and biscuit cutter.

Note: I have no financial interest in this book.  However, I do wish her success with her cooking endeavors.  Go to www.rodalebooks.com for more information.

Whitney’s biscuit recipe

Biscuits

 

Note the shaping technique, rounding.  It is the same one used for yeast rolls.

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