Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve preparations

I was up early and in the kitchen this morning, trying to finish up some dishes that can be made ahead for Christmas. By 8:30 a.m., I had cooked bacon for Pea Salad, and made some extra bacon for Brussels sprouts tomorrow. I made a batch of peanut butter balls and put them in the fridge to harden.

I ran other errands mid-morning and have spent most of this afternoon cleaning. Once I mop, I am calling it done.

Yesterday afternoon I made sweet potato crumble (it's in the fridge covered and waiting to be baked) and a double batch of Chex Mix. I aim to enjoy time with my husband, children and in-laws tomorrow, so do-ahead dishes are a must. Tomorrow I just need to bake the ham, prepare the potato casserole (in the slow cooker, of course!) and assemble the dishes. I hope you are having a restful, happy Christmas season. And please try some of my favorites soon!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Honey pecan spread

I was introduced to this terrific recipe by my former sister-in-law. She would whip this up a couple days before Christmas so we could enjoy it on plain bagels or toast on Christmas morning. It is so easy and delicious. In a web search, I found numerous variations, including this one that includes cinnamon.

The version I love is three ingredients. I just made a batch this afternoon to enjoy on Sunday.

You'll need:

8 ounces cream cheese (fat free is fine)
2-3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Blend the ingredients in a bowl; cover and refrigerate until needed. You can use this spread on any bread, but I love it on toasted plain bagels.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Frank's + Rotel, a happy pairing

I came up with this recipe in my never ending quest to devise new recipes for dinner. I’ve seen similar recipes that use tortilla chips, but I decided to use flour tortillas and layer then in lieu of noodles for “Mexican” lasagna. This recipe wasn’t that much of a stretch from family favorites like enchiladas, but the best addition was Ro*tel tomato sauce, a newer offering I notice in local grocery stores. I have long used Ro*tel products, like the seasoned tomatoes, but the sauce is a newer addition on local shelves. The sauce comes in two varieties, original and mild. Both are delicious and worth trying, if you love Mexican dishes.

I have a tried-and-true enchilada recipe I make, that incorporates cream of mushroom soup. I used that basic idea when making this recipe, as well.

You’ll need:

1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
6-8 flour tortillas
1 can Ro*tel tomato sauce (original or mild)
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, or a blend of Cheddar and Monterrey Jack

In a 9x13-inch baking dish, spread a couple of tablespoons of the tomato sauce. Add 2-3 tortillas, tearing to fit the pan. Top with 2-3 spoonfuls of cream of mushroom soup, one-third of the ground beef and one-third of the cheese. Top with half the can of tomato sauce, then repeat layers two more times. I had a few extra tortillas, so I topped the whole casserole with the tortillas and cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until the casserole is bubbly and browned.

I served this dish with rice, diced jalapenos and Frank’s RedHot. It comes in multiple varieties, but the original is still my favorite.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Beef with mushroom gravy

My husband and youngest sons are meat lovers, so I fashioned this dish especially for them. The dish is a cross between beef stew and beef stroganoff, with homemade cream of mushroom soup. It is easy and delicious.

Beef with mushroom gravy

2 pounds beef stew meat
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup red wine
1-2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
2 cups cream of mushroom soup (or one 14.5 ounce can)
Chopped parsley to garnish

Heat oil in a medium skillet. Season the meat with salt and pepper, then dredge lightly in flour. Brown the meat in the skillet.

Move the meat to a 6-quart slow cooker. To the skillet add the red wine and worchestershire sauce. Blend completely, then pour over the meat.

Add the cream of mushroom soup. I defrosted a container of homemade cream of mushroom soup. Please try my Magnificent Mushroom Soup recipe, if you want a great homemade version!

Blend all the ingredients and cook on low for about 8 hours.

The meat is so tender and flavorful! I served this with pasta and green peas. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Faye's Favorite Cranberry Dish

My mom has swooned for this dish for more than a decade. We first tried this recipe in 1998, after it appeared in the Coalfield Progress' annual gift and recipe guide. Many thanks to Barbara Younce of Haysi, Va., for sharing this gem. It is sweet and tart (very tart!) with a delicious, crumbly oat topping. We made this one for Thanksgiving and I may try it again for Christmas. My husband is a huge cranberry fan!

Cranberry-Apple Casserole

3 cups peeled, chopped apples
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar

Combine fruits, flour and sugar and place in a greased, 2-quart casserole dish.

3 packs instant oatmeal, cinnamon spice flavor (or 1/2 cup oatmeal, plus 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup chopped pecans
Combine all topping ingredients until crumbly and combined. Spoon over fruit. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Crunchy, sweet holiday goodness

This is one of the best sweet potato dishes I have tried, and a family favorite for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It comes from Gracie Steele of Clintwood, Va., who shared this recipe in The Coalfield Progress' Christmas Gift Guide in 1998. The potatoes are silky and sweet and the topping is nutty and crunchy. It is a great textural change and a delicious holiday treat.

My daughter made this dish while we were in Norfolk for Thanksgiving and it was quickly devoured. She made a second batch a couple days later, with similar results. The recipe calls for pecans (which Hannah doesn't like). You could substitute walnuts or other nuts, or leave them out entirely.

Sweet potato casserole

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar (white or brown)
Dash salt
2 eggs
1/2 stick margarine or butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix ingredients well and pour into a baking pan.

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or other favorite nuts)
1/2 stick margarine or butter
Mix toppings ingredients until moist and crumbly. Sprinkle on top of sweet potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.