Sunday, January 25, 2015

Hearty Slow Cooker Breakfast Sludge

     Before we go any further, let me make one thing very clear: this recipe looks like shit. Literally. It looks like something scraped out of a diaper. At second glance it also resembles fake vomit. Possibly real vomit. However, it smells wonderful and tastes great. On a cold day, you can't go wrong with a steaming bowl of this stuff. It's hearty and warm and filling. Maybe just close your eyes while you eat it.
Hearty Slow Cooker
Breakfast Sludge

  • 3 cups oats, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 very ripe bananas, sliced
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (chunky or creamy as you desire. We used creamy)
  • 21 ounce can banana cream pie filling
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  1. Coat a slow cooker (at least 2 quart) with nonstick cooking spray (coat the inside of the slow cooker. The bowl specifically. Don't spray all over the outside. Unless you want to)
  2. Chuck all the ingredients in there and stir it up.
  3. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
Good times!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ham and Pea Soup

     Peas are a bit of an oddity with The Wife. Normally, she'll pick the peas out of most anything she's eating and wouldn't eat them as a side dish. However, if I make ham and pea soup, she goes batshit crazy over it and will eat it with gusto. This particular recipe is super simple and can be pressure canned for later use. Just remember to consult The National Center for Home Food Preservation to make sure you don't accidentally poison anyone. As always, notes are in blue.

Ham and Pea Soup
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Home Canning Cookbook
Ingredients (Yields 4 pints)

  • 5 cups frozen green peas (you can use fresh if you'd like)
  • 2 cups finely chopped ham 
  • 3/4 cup celery
  • 1 teaspoon salt (Use the full teaspoon if your ham isn't salty. We dropped it to 1/4 teaspoon since our ham was super salty)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  1. Add 3-1/2 cups water, peas, ham, onion, celery and seasonings in a 4-6 quart pot. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer, covered for about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Blend until smooth (If you've got steady hands, you can do it in batches in a blender. We used our immersion blender since I'm likely to spill everywhere trying to transfer scalding hot soup)
  3. If you plan on eating this right away, stop here. If you plan on canning this for later use, carry on:
    Heat soup back to the boil Ladle hod soup into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Secure lids and process in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure. 60 minutes for pints and 75 minutes for quarts. 
  4. Before serving and pressure canned food, make sure to boil it at least 10 minutes before you try to eat it.
    Optional: If you're not a fan of thick soups, thin this out with 1/2 cup of milk per pint when you go to serve. 
Good times!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ham & Bean Soup

     I think I may no longer be completely terrified of pressure canning. I've done it a half-dozen or so times and haven't caused any notable damage. I haven't poisoned anybody yet, which is a real surprise. It's a good thing I'm comfortable with it, because it was a great way to use up some of the HUGE surplus of ham from the holidays. For not having many ingredients, this soup was surprisingly tasty. I have no regrets canning a gallon of it. You can serve this up right after it's done, or pressure can it for long term storage. Just be careful if you do. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Ham and Bean Soup
via Better Homes and Gardens Home Canning Cook Book
  • 2 pounds dry navy beans (about 4 cups)
  • 1 meaty ham bone
  • 1 cup chopped ham
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 12 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  1. Rinse beans. Add to 4 quarts water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cover for one hour. 
  2. Add ham bone, ham, onion and one teaspoon salt (we omitted the salt because the ham we used was plenty salty on its own). Tie peppercorns and bay leaf in cheesecloth and add to mixture (or do like we did and load it into a tea ball and hang it in off the edge of the pot)
    Sometimes I'm so clever it hurts.
  3. Simmer, covered for 1 hour.
  4. After 1 hour, remove spice bag/ball and ham bone. Cut off meat and dice. Use about 1-1/2 cups meat. (Use more if you want. We didn't because the ham was so salty and it would have thrown off the flavor of the soup).
  5. If you plan on serving the soup, you're done. If you want the soup a bit thinner, cut it with about 1 cup of water per quart of soup. From here on out these steps are for pressure canning the soup. 
  6. Keep soup hot. Pack hot soup into hot jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Adjust lids. Process in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure. Process pints for 75 minutes, quarts for 90 minutes. This recipe will yield 4 quarts, but is easily halved. 
  7. Before serving from a processed can: add 1-1/2 cups water to each quart of soup. Boil, uncovered at least 10 minutes before tasting or serving. As always, it's a good idea to consult the fine folks at the National Center for Home Food Preservation for detailed information on pressure canning. Check the site especially if you've never pressure canned before. Not only can you accidentally poison everyone if you screw up, you can also burn the shit out of yourself or explode your kitchen. Remember, we're trained professionals working in a controlled environment. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Too Damned Easy Sausage Gravy

     I wasn't always a fan of biscuits and gravy. In fact, I didn't even know it existed until I went to college and they served it at the cafeteria. Biscuit and gravy day was one of the few weekdays I would get up early. Now I make it at home and don't have to get up early to do it. I don't even have to wear pants. This particular recipe has some heat, as I use plenty of seasoning. It's good on biscuits, crescent rolls, eggs, hash browns, or just about anything breakfasty. It's super fast and easy to make and really dresses up a tube of store-bought biscuit dough.

Too Damned Easy Sausage Gravy

  • 1 pound country sausage
  • 3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne 
  1. In a medium saucepan, brown sausage. Do not drain the grease.
  2. Lower the heat to low and add all the other ingredients. Stir until dry ingredients are totally incorporated into the milk. Adjust the milk/flour ratios if the consistency needs work. Just remember you may have to adjust the seasonings to account for increased flour and/or milk. 
  3. Once it's the consistency you like, take it off the heat and get it on some biscuits!
Good times!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sour Cream Cranberry Coffee Cake

     Coffee cake holds a bit of nostalgia for me. When my mom would have company over, she'd eventually ask if anybody wanted "coffeeanne." At least that's what I heard as a child. What she was talking about was a spot of dessert. She was serving coffee and a light dessert. That dessert was usually a coffee cake. The coffee cakes were almost always the packaged Entenmann's ones. I can't have coffee cake without thinking of a group of adults at the kitchen table, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee while eating coffee cake. Nostalgia aside, this is a moist and tasty coffee cake. The cranberries give it a hell of a zing. I would be happy to serve this with my next coffeeanne. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Sour Cream Cranberry Coffee Cake
via Taste of Home Everyday Light Meals

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) reduced fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (we used sweetened, since it's all we had in the house)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (I figure vegetable oil is close enough. That's what I used, anyways)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (The Wife suggested we use the frozen cranberries lurking in the back of the freezer before they achieved sentience and attempted to take over the house)
  • Topping
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  1. In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. In another bowl, combine the egg, sour cream, applesauce, oil and vanilla (why did they specify these ingredients and not just say "the next five ingredients? Do they think we're stupid? Probably. Screw these people.) Stir into dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold in berries. Pour into a 9-inch square baking pan (we used a 9"x13" Pyrex dish) coated with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. For topping, in a bowl, combine the brown sugar, oats and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter. 
  3. Bake at 350F (180C Gasmark 4) for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (ours took the full 45 minutes).
Good times!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Stuffed Cabbage Soup

     I love my close, personal friend, Rachael Ray to death. However, her cutesy language has got to stop. Like this particular recipe. She calls it a stoup. Stoup? What sort of shit is that? Is it soup or stew? It's really thick soup? Then it's a damned stew. Get over it. Just stop this sort of nonsense. Look, it's a bowl full of cabbage and beef. When you're sitting on the toilet howling in despair, you're not going to be coming up with cutesy names for what's going on in that bowl. No stoups there, my friend. With that out of the way, I'm calling this soup. It's a good, hearty soup. You will enjoy it. That is an order. As always, notes and changes are in blue. 

Stuffed Cabbage Soup
via Rachael Ray 2,4,6,8 Great Meals for Couples or Crowds
A 30-Minute Cook-Book

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground meat loaf mix (a combination of beef, pork and veal) (veal? Sorry, I was getting the mahogany trim in my Lear jet varnished and didn't have the opportunity to pick any up. I guess we'll just have to go with all 73/27 ground beef. Just remember to drain it!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander (screwed up and only used 1/2 teaspoon. No harm done)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika (I loves me some smoked paprika. I used about a tablespoon)
  • salt and pepper (why do people insist on adding salt to dishes that use canned goods? There's plenty salt going on right there. I did use a few grinds of fresh black pepper)
  •  1 bay leaf (by now you should know my stance on bay leaves)
  • 1 onion, chopped (We went with a sweet onion)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler into strips, then finely chopped (I think they meant "grated." That's what it sounded like to me, so that's what I did. I'm not a real chef. I can't be bothered with frippery like that)
  • 1 pound Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced (I just used regular old green cabbage from my garden, because that's the sort of shit we rustic types do. Just pluck a bastard from the garden and chuck it on a plate)
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (I used two 14.5 ounce cans. Didn't drain the liquid either)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup white rice
  • handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped (omitted)
  1. Heat a deep pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and meat. Brown the meat (draining grease if necessary. It was for me because I used cheap-ass meat. Ask for it by name)
    You can never go wrong with quality "miscellaneous service meat"
  2. Season the meat with the allspice, coriander, smoked paprika, salt (if you're a fan of high blood pressure) and pepper. Then add the onion, carrots, garlic and bay leaf. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften, then add the cabbage to wilt slightly. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and stock and bring to a boil. 
  3. Add rice and reduce to heat to a simmer. Cook for 16-18 minutes until the rice is just tender. Stir in the parsley and dill (if using). Discard the bay leaf (see? Even Rachael Ray knows bay leaves=DEATH)
Good times!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cinnamon Raisin Sweet Rolls

     Let me come out and warn you right off the bat that this recipe is a P.I.T.A. There's a bunch of steps, and rolling and brushing and separating and dividing. It also takes like 3 hours start to finish including rising time. I will also tell you these things are the bomb-diggety, yo. They are just wonderful. They are soft and chewy and gooey and frosted and wonderful. I mean holy shit, wow, are they good. They just are a colossal pain in the ass to make. Totally worth it, though. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Cinnamon Sweet Rolls
via Taste of Home Everyday Light Meals

  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 package (.25 oz) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup sugar, divided (I realized that I have no recollection of including the 1/4 cup sugar. I did not realize it until I re-read the recipe. That tells me it probably wasn't necessary. Or maybe it was and I just forgot. Who knows.)
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (omitted)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring (omitted)
  • 4 tablespoons butter/margarine only if you're following my changes
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten, divided
  • 1-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • For Glaze
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a saucepan, cook potatoes in 1-1/2 cups water until very tender. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of cooking liquid. Mash potatoes; set aside 1 cup (if you have extra, find some use for it. My suggestion is loading it on a spoon and unceremoniously launching it at your spouse)
  2. In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm reserved liquid. Add 1/2 teaspoon sugar; let stand for 5 minutes
  3. Add the milk, honey, oil (if using), salt, butter flavoring (or butter), sugar, 2 cups flour (screwed up again here. I totally didn't add any flour in this step. I added it all at once later. No harm done as far as I can tell), and potatoes. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes (or just throw the dough hook on the KitchenAid and let it do the work). Place in a bowl coated with non-stick cooking spray, turning once to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 90 minutes.
  4. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into an 18"x13" rectangle (my rectangle was 20"x14" because I'm a total badass). Brush with some of the egg whites.
  5. Combine brown sugar, raisins and cinnamon; sprinkle over dough to within one inch of the edges. Roll up jelly-style, starting with the long side. Pinch seam to seal. Cut into 18 slices (we ended up with 16 slices because I didn't feel like measuring. I just started cutting shit in half). Place cut side down (technically if you're slicing dough, everything except the ends is cut on both sides) in two 9" square baking pans (I willfully ignored this and used to regular baking sheet which resulted in these wonderful round rolls). Brush with remaining egg white, Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  6. Bake at 350F (180C, Gasmark 4) for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown (we went 23 minutes and were very pleased). Cool on a wire rack.
  7. Combine glaze ingredients and drizzle over cooled rolls. 
Good times!