Monday, January 31, 2011

Gingerbread - the trusted food of skiing the double blacks

Ok, so I didn't do any blacks but I learned how to ski this weekend.  I can usually pick up things pretty quickly and water-skiing was a piece of cake for me.  People kept telling me, "Oh it will be easy and you will get it right away."  So I was pretty confident to get it....boy was I wrong.  I think this blog should be called "Pizza" since I did that on my skis the majority of the time.

Brad and I drove to Gatlinburg, TN this past week for 4 days.  He completed his first semester (doing very well) and we wanted to get out of town.  So we arrived to Gatlinburg on wednesday night to find fresh snow on the ground.  The next morning we got up and drove to Ober Gatlinburg.  We got in our skis and then I thought we were going to the bunny slope as he took me up the ski lift, but found myself instantly on a green.  What on earth?  I couldn't even stop and had no idea what I was doing.  But I tumbled all the way down the  mountain as 4 year old were flying past me and screaming for me to get out of the way.  I got to the bottom and was upset that I couldn't do it and told him I wanted the bunny slopes.  Even that was super hard for me.....

At one point, I got so frustrated and he was being so patient with me.  He was great and tried to tell me how to do it but I was so frustrated that I.......well yes this is hard to confess for me.....I might have shed a few years.  But the sun was in my eyes and the snow was on my face too!  Ok, so I cried and laugh about it now.  But after 3 LONG hours of falling, tumbling, telling him how much I wanted to go home and eat a hamburger, I finally got it!  I actually made it down a green without falling!  Before that, I took a tumble into a ditch.....wipeout for sure and tumbled up a mountain (how do you do that again?)  One time I fell under the ski lift and a group of guys on the ski lift above me asked how the snow felt?  Then the girls behind them said they liked my pants and I said, "thank you and they look better covered in snow." 

So I recovered and went out the next day.  I thought I would NEVER EVER do a blue because it looked super hard.  But he managed to talk me into it and I made it down after a few tumbles and one time flying down the mountain backwards......ok, thank goodness we didn't have a camera.  I was flying down the mounatin backwards, screaming and laughing the entire way with my fingers in the snow trying to get myself to stop.  I could hear people yelling, "Just fall".  I finally fell and laughed so hard! 

So our first ski trip was success after I was about to quit.  I took Grandmother's Gingerbread and we had that for breakfast so it is now my breakfast of champions!  Until next year.....

Friday, January 21, 2011

Another Grandmother recipe - Gingerbread

Grandmother sent me a card in the mail with an article from "The Corpus Christi Times" dated Feb 23, 1960.  The title of the article was "Prize-Winning Gingerbread has Red Pepper in It."  At the top of the page has a handwritten description of the reason for the recipe....
"About 1939, this was one of the first things Grandmother Raymond taught me how to bake was this gingerbread and I've used it all these years."  So you know it has to be good.  I wish I could make this smell into a candle!

2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 egg, beaten
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
1 cup boiling water

Mix first four ingredients together.  Mix dry ingredients together and mix with others.  Grease 9x12x2 inch pan.  Slowing pour boiling water while stirring.  Mix well and pour into pan.  Bake 45-55 minutes at 375 degrees.  (Make sure to check it because it took mine a good hour to cook)

Classic and delicious!

Grandmother's Zucchini Bread

Emily and I were so blessed to grow up with great grandparent's.  From my very first memory of grandmother, she was in the kitchen and everything she made was golden.....even the Honey-Buns she had were better than at our house.  She always had a full refrigerator stocked full and even had about 14 freezers in the garage full of ice cream, peaches, and pecans.  Emily and I were both able to live in Lubbock for a while with my grandparents and it was one of the best seasons.  I can remember her teaching me how to cut an onion, peel a potatoe and can salsa.  She would make the best cornbread and dressing at thanksgiving.  She would never measure anything but just threw it into a pot.....maybe that is where I get it from too!  Grandmother also has the beauty of a strong woman, the grace that everyone wants, and the kindness that wraps you up in a hug.  I always loved bringing friends to her house because they would all get greated with a HUGE hug.  Whenever we left her house, she would stand outside of the front door and wave to us. 

One of my favorite kitchen items is her original Sunbeam Vintage Mixer.  I have had it for about 5 years and have loved it.  For those of you who have been a roommate of mine, you know how special this mixer has been.  It works so well and I feel like I'm a little better cook when I use it.  One of the beaters broke about a year ago and it was my sweet boyfriend (now husband) who found a replacement so I could still use the mixer.  The first time I brought him to meet my grandparent's, grandmother made a zucchini bread and my husband almost ate the entire loaf.  Needless to say, I got a handwritten note on fishing paper of the recipe.  She knew my husband loved to fish so she wrote the recipe on a paper with a fishing border and said, "I just thought this paper was neat."  There is NOTHING like a handwritten recipe or note.  I have made this multiple times and it doesn't stay long in our house. 

Grandmother - we love you better.  Thank you for being a beautiful example for us.  We love you!

3 eggs, beaten
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cups chopped walnuts ( I usually leave the walnuts out)

Mix eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla together.  Mix flour, soda, baking powder, salt together.  Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in a mixer (it's always better in Grandmother's Mixer so you are welcome to come to my house to use it).  Stir in the zucchini.  Grease and flour 2 bread pans.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 35-45 minutes or longer until done.  Remove from over and put some butter on top of the crust and sprinkle sugar on top.  Yummy!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Today it snowed.....not just a sprinkle or a puff but it actually snowed and started around 3pm.  So this morning I had already wanted to make homemade pizza and had the dough rising when my hubby got home.  We both ran outside to play in the snow....actually he bombed me with snowballs and I tried to throw some but it didn't quite work out. But we came inside and I started the process of the pizza.  I like HUGE pizzas and not a fan at all of thin crust.  I have tried to make pizzas in the past with "pizza crust" recipes but they are always too bland and thin for me.  So I wanted to try a sweet yeast dough recipe that I have for rolls.  If the rolls are good, surely the crust will be too right?

I first had BBQ chicken pizza after my best friend, Erin, made it for me when I was in Physician Assistant school.  It changed me life - ok, maybe that's a little much but I LOVE this recipe.  Then my BFF, Kelli, has requested it as well.  So here we go.

The Crust:
1 1/2 cups milk (scalded)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Crisco
1 envelope yeast
1/2 cup warm water
4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Scald milk first.  For those of you who are like me and have no idea what "scalding" was, it basically means heat up just before the milk boils.  Remove pan from heat and add baking soda and sugar.  Then add the Crisco.

Warm water and add yeast.  Mix and let sit for about 5 minutes. 

Mix flour, salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl.  Add the yeast mixture to the milk mixture but it has to be cool so give yourself some time to let the milk cool to room temperature.  Slowly mix together.  Then here comes the fun part.  Dump some flour on your countertop and place your mixture onto countertop.  Get flour all over hands and clothes as you knead the flour into the dough.  It should be smooth and pretty when done.  Place dough in a greased, clean bowl and cover with a towel.  Place in a warm spot and let rise until doubled (about 2 hours). 

Punch dough down after it has doubled and divide into 2 sections.  (You can also divide into 3 or 4 sections if you don't want a HUGE crust like mine was.  Then you can use the rest for Sunday night rolls.)  Place one section on counter again and roll out until it forms a circle.  I tried last night to do that cool "throw the dough in the air and spin it around" like all those chefs on TV does.  I had to laugh as my husband was in the next room probably wondering what his crazy wife was doing.  Dust your flat pizza stone with cornmeal and then lay the dough on top.  Cover again with a towel and let rise again for about an hour.

Ok, now onto the pizza...

1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 chicken breasts, thawed and cut into 1 inch strips
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
2 cups Mozzarella Cheese
Fresh parsley, oregano, garlic
salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

Heat olive oil in skillet.  Add garlic, oregano, salt and pepper along with chicken breasts.  Cook until chicken is done and keep until later.

Get your amazingly risen yeast dough out.  Place your fingers softly in the dough in the middle to make a "crust".  Add 1/4 cup BBQ sauce.  Then layer chicken, zucchini, onion and cheese.  Sprinkle parsley and pepper to make it look fancy.  Brush olive oil over crust to shine it up.  This is a picture right before it went to bakin'. 

Place it in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 20 or 25 minutes.  Keep it in until the crust is brown.  Let it cool 5 minutes and cut with your super cool pizza cuter.  Yummy.

The husband told me it was one of the best meals yet.  yeehaw!

"Insert Town Name Here" Clam Chowder

Yummy!  I am in love with seafood and soups.  I always remember mom making soup when we were growing up and then I was addicted to chowder in bread bowls when I moved to Nashville.  Everytime I make clam chowder, I never use the same recipe but so far, they have been pretty good.  This is the basic recipe and you can make it as unhealthy or healthy as you would like. 

2 cans of clams
2 cups of shrimp (small kind you find in the frozen section at Walmart)
2 cups of cubed potatoes ( I love to use red potatoes but you can also use the brown ones)
1 cup of diced onions
1 cup of diced carrots
1/4 cup butter
4 tablespoons of flour
2 cup Half and Half
2 cup Milk
Salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, parsley and some cajun seasoning to taste

Drain juice from the canned clams into a pan and add onions, carrots, potatoes, pepper, oregano, garlic and cajun seasoning.  Cook until tender.

In another pan melt butter.  Add flour and use a whisk to mix together.  Make sure the flour is whisked together so at the end, you are chewing on balls of flour...I know....gross!

 Then add half and half and veggies from skillet.  Simmer stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.  Add clams and shrimp and cook another 10 minutes.  Add more pepper or spices.  Serve with oyster crackers or toasted french bread.  YUM!

Like I said, I have done many variations of this.  I have used half milk and half cream and then have used all milk and then a can of cream of mushroom soup which was pretty good.  Have fun experimenting!

Chicken Pot Pie!

Well I have never made Chicken Pot Pie from scratch but I recently got married 4 months ago and my husband LOVES chicken pot pie.  I wanted to surprise him one night after he got back from class so I tried to find a good recipe.  I, like so many other people, are HUGE fans of The Pioneer Woman so I found her crust recipe and then put about 4 recipes for the "pot pie" part.  So here we go!

The crust recipe:

1 AND 1/2 cup of Crisco
3 Cups floud
1 Egg
5 Tablespoons cold water
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

With a pastry cutter, cut into flour the Crisco.  I have LOVED doing this ever since I found a pastry cutter because before then, I was getting carpel tunnel trying to use 2 forks.  Continue to mix until it looks like coarse crumbs.  Add an egg, the water, vinegar and the salt and mix together.  ( I cheated and used a mixer).

Then divide the dough in half.  (The original recipe says to divide it into thirds but I like a lot of crust so I used it all).  Put it into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to thaw.  Go rest your feet, your pretty hands, and write a blog.  Now remove the dough and lay it on a floured surface.  Roll it using grandmother's rolling pin until it is a circle.  Ok, mine NEVER looks like a circle so I pound it, roll it, cut and paste it until it looks like a semi-circle.  Using one end of the dough, carefully start rolling it onto the rolling pin until it is wrapped around the rolling pin like a burrito.  Then pick it up and carefully place it into your deep dish pie pan.   Crimp around the sides to form a pretty pie crust design.  Now you are ready for the filling.

Chicken Pot Pie Filling

Boil about 3 chicken breasts and then shred into inch size pictures.  (You can also buy a Rotisserie chicken from the local Kroger or HEB and shred that as well)

Butter or olive oil
2/3 cup onion
2/3 cup carrots
2/3 cup celery
1.5 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup flour
1 can chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp oregeno, garlic, pepper, salt, other random seasonings that you have

Add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a skillet and heat on medium high heat.  Add diced onions, carrots, celery and spinces and cook for a few minutes until tender.  Add 1/4 cup of flour and stir constantly for a few minutes.  Now add chicken broth, frozen peas, and the beloved heavy cream.  Stir for a couple more minutes. 

Now grab those spices again and spice it up.  If you know me, you know that I have a TON of spinces and like to add alot!  Sometimes it isn't so good but this is one where you can add alot.  Pour mixture into the casserole dish.  Cover with the other half of the dough and crimp edges to make another pretty edge.  Cut 4 slits on the top.  Bake for 35 minutes at a preheated 400 degree oven.  Allow to cool about 5 minutes before serving.  Delish!