Monday, February 23, 2009

Evolution of a Pot Roast

Beef Stew Made with Leftover Pot Roast

This couldn't have been an easier supper. I chopped the leftover pot roast, potatoes, carrots, and celery, added a can of tomato wedges with their juice, and a small package of frozen peas. I heated it through and served it with cheese toast.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Another Comforting Macaroni and Cheese

I have heard, seen, and read a lot lately, about cooking on a budget, frugal meals, and so on. Yet, I often see recipes with ingredients that don't meet my personal Home Economist criteria. For example, I don't see any reason that macaroni and cheese necessarily has to involve several different expensive cheeses to be delicious. I made this one with commercial brand extra sharp cheddar and evaporated milk. I will line it up in a contest, with many fancier versions. It is my belief that if you care enough, handle your food preparations carefully and with love, and use the best ingredients available to you, your food will be delicious.

Macaroni and Cheese

8 oz. macaroni
8 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, or any cheese of choice, hand grated. Reserve 2 Tbsp.
4 Tbsp. butter (use margarine, if necessary or desired)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (to taste)
3 Tbsp. flour
1 can evaporated milk
1 can tomatoes with chilis (Rotel)

Preheat oven to Betty Crocker temperature--350 degrees. Generously butter a 2 quart casserole dish. Cook macaroni in boiling, salted water, until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat until tender but not brown. Take your time with this. Add mustard and cayenne, and salt to taste, if desired. Taste to make sure the onion is tender enough because you really don't want crunch here.

Add the flour and stir until well combined and starting to bubble. Slowly add the milk, stirring all the time. Add the tomatoes and stir until blended. Stir in the cheese until fully melted.

Stir in the macaroni, then pour into the prepared casserole. Sprinkle the top with the reserved cheese, and also a sprinkle of paprika for color, if desired.

Bake for 25 -30 minutes until bubbly. Serve and enjoy.

You may notice my recipe does not call for "crust". I know many recipes call for bread crumbs, and combinations of cheese on top, for a crunch. My mother never did that, therefore, I don't either. We like our Macaroni and Cheese creamy, melty, and gooey, all the way.

You may also notice the repetition of the word, stir. Stirring, and staring at what I am stirring may be my favorite kitchen action. Stirring is contemplative and soothing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Valentine Roses

Some years hold more romance than others, when you have been together as long as my husband, Pritchard Parker and I have. I'm glad this was one of the more romantic Valentine years. I had been trying to decide, for a few days, what I wanted to cook for a special dinner, thinking of all Pritchard Parker's favorites. Then he asked me out. Yes. Yes! I did want to go out and celebrate. So we made our plans. Friday, the 13th, the day before Valentines, he gave me some beautiful roses. I gave him chocolates. On Saturday, we went downtown to our favorite Indian Restaurant, for a delicious buffet lunch. Then we walked and walked, browsing in bookstores, newstands, art galleries. The weather was cool (45 degrees), breezy, and drizzling rain. Very romantic. Couples were everywhere, doing exactly what we were--celebrating relationships. Love was in the air and I am so happy that I had a boyfriend. I loved the day so much, that I felt a little sad the next day.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pork Pie with Apples and Cheddar

With extra pulled pork, I made a pie. I placed the first of two piecrusts into my favorite pie plate. I put 4 cups of pulled pork into a mixing bowl and added 2 cups of leftover homemade applesauce. I also chopped a couple additional apples and stirred those in.
I poured this mixture into the prepared crust and topped with about a cup of shredded cheddar cheese. I covered that with second crust, crimped the edges together, brushed with half & half, cut a few slits for steam to escape, and baked at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Monday, February 9, 2009

First Meal of the Year

2009 - The Year of Hope

My first meal of the year was a Southern Traditional one: Pulled Pork, Collard
Greens, Hoppin' John, Jalapeno Hushpuppies.
For the pork, I started with a 7 pound Boston Butt, which my husband, Pritchard Parker bought for only $7.42 It served us meals all week. I trimmed off the excess fat, rubbed it on all sides with Spice Rub for Pork, let it sit on the counter for about an hour, then placed into the Crock Pot, with nothing else. I let it cook overnight, on low, about 16 hours in all. It smelled divine and drove our Jack Russell, Jill, nuts. It was falling apart tender, juicy, and delicious.
Spice Rub for Pork
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. smoked paprika
Hoppin' John
1 lb. dried black-eyed peas (soaking not necessary)
1 large onion, chopped
3 (at least) large garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
3 cups cooked white rice
1 can tomatoes with green chilis (Rotel)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
Sort through the black-eyed peas. You will be looking for stones, clumps of dirt, peas you don't like the looks of, or any other foreign matter. Rinse thoroughly. In a large Dutch oven, combine black-eyed peas, onion, garlic, and bay leaf. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer gently until beans are tender but not mushy, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, adding more water if necessary. Add rice, tomatoes, salt and cumin. Simmer about 15 minutes until heated through. Serve with hot sauce, such as Texas Pete.
Jalapeno Hushpuppies
1 1/2 cups cornmeal mix
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 or 2 fresh jalapeno peppers seeded and minced
1 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, mix and stir until well blended. Let the mixture stand while you heat about 1/4 cup oil in your big black skillet, over medium high heat. Drop batter by heaping tablespoon into the hot oil, working in batches. Brown on first side, flip and brown the other side. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in oven while you cook the remaining hushpuppies.
Collard Greens are a subject in and of themselves and will be covered in detail at another time. Stay tuned if you are a Collard fan like we are.