Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pea and Pepperoni Salad

I had some peas left over from the Tuna Casserole I made earlier in the week, and I remembered a great recipe for pea and bacon salad . . . only I don't have any bacon, so I'm going to use another cured meat I do have on hand -- pepperoni. This is a very simple and flavorful recipe, another go to side that you can't really screw up.

The ingredients are --

Bacon, or Pepperoni, or Ham, or whatever you've got
Ranch Dressing
Cheese (small cubed or shredded cheddar is good)
Celery (if you have it, I don't)

I microwaved the Pepperoni slices (about 30 seconds -- it doesn't take long) until they were crispy like bacon, then mixed the ingredients together and chilled. I don't even like peas, but I like pea salad!

When is a Walmart a Dollar Store?

When it has Nestle Baking chips for a buck! I avoid Walmart like the plague, but I was in there with a friend and I couldn't resist grabbling these Nestle chips -- Semi-Sweet, White Chocolate, and Butterscotch to make Hello Dollies.

Alpha Bits Cereal - M J not Included

A while back I got a box of Post Shredded Wheat at the 99 Cent Only Store and on my last trip I picked up a box of Alpha Bits!!!

Enjoy this bit of retro goodness!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Beer Braised Cabbage and Potatoes

Okay, I admit, I didn't really know what braising was until I did it (sort of), and the word popped into my mind, and it sounded good, and I researched it.

Braising is a form of cooking using dry and wet heat. The classic example would be pot roast, a way to tenderize a tough piece of meat.

I'm not sure this recipe for Beer Braised Cabbage and Potatoes technically qualifies, but I'll let you be the judge, it is so delicious you won't even miss the meat, at least I didn't.

I started by microwaving in water some chopped potatoes (skin on, large pieces), until they were beginning to get tender -- about 6 minutes. While the microwave was doing its thing, I heated a pan full of butter, onions and a little garlic (and some balsamic vinegar 'cuz I just love that stuff), which always smells wonderful. Then I added beer (how much is completely up to you, but about 4 ounces to begin with), and some green cabbage with a little red for eye appeal. I added the potatoes and kept simmering, and adding beer as necessary as it cooked down. Salt and pepper to taste, and when the potatoes are still a little firm, you are ready to serve.

You can also cook the potatoes in the oven first if you like, or even make this whole dish in the oven . . . braising seems to be whatever you want it to be, and after a few beers on St. Patty's day, who is going to argue?

I served this with the beer bread I made, and it is really good -- definitely a keeper.

Green Beer Bread for St. Patty's Day!

In honor of St. Patrick's Day I decided to cook some easy favorites, but I didn't want to go to the Dollar store, so the caveat was that I only use what I have kicking around.

My one regret is that I didn't put the green beer in the beer bread to make Green Beer Bread, but there is always next year!

Here is the super simple beer bread recipe --

3 cups flour
    3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
    1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 (12 oz.) can beer
    1/2 cup  melted  butter
  Preheat oven to 375F. Mix dry ingredients and beer. Pour into a
 greased loaf pan. Pour melted butter over mixture. Bake 1 hour,
 remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.

I used melted margarine and it worked fine. There are so many variations to try by adding onions, cheese, nuts, fruits, you name it . . . but this is the basic recipe.

Now let's see if the Swedish Chef (I mean Leprechan Brother) approves!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Classic Tuna Fish Casserole

Some people like tuna fish, and some people don't -- and I fall into the latter category. It is just too, well, fishy for me, and my mom who falls into the former category sort of ruined it for me with her love of mayonnaise.

She would slather on the Best Foods, with a some pickle relish and call it lunch. I called it revolting, but my mom never bothered to be bothered by my reservations. To this day, she wouldn't think twice of offering me a heaping helping of Charlie the Tuna and Best Foods.

She also would proudly attest to the fact that the first meal she ever cooked for my father was tuna casserole.

Well they were married over 55 years, so I guess there was something he liked about my mom, but somehow I doubt it was her cooking.

Anyways, there were some cans of solid chunk white Starkist Tuna Fish in the breakroom cabinet at work, and they had been there for possibly years. We are moving our office, so it was time to clean out the cupboard. I couldn't find an expiration date on the cans, so to utilize them safely, I decided I'd have to cook the hell out of them. 180 degrees will damn near kill anything, right?

So the solution was Tuna Casserole -- and I got the rest of the ingredients from the 99 Cent Only Store, including a lasagna pan (a pack of two for a buck!) to cook it in.

Here's the list --

2 cans Tuna Fish
1 package Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 package pasta
1/2 can sweet peas
Bread Crumbs

First cook the pasta, until it is "al dente" about 6 minutes in boiling water. Drain, and pour into bottom of pan. Next mix the soup with the peas and the tuna fish. Add water (about a 1/4 can) until a desired consistency is reached. Spoon that over the pasta, and top with bread crumbs and cheddar cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about a half hour or until the top is browned.

Feel free to add any other seasonings, or stuff you might like -- onions, or herb mayo (I added too much water, so I thickened it up with the Garlic Herb Mayo I had left over) -- you get the idea. You can't really screw this up.

As I had the fear of botulism in me, I cooked my casserole to within an inch of its life, hence the browned cheese shreds -- but it did cut wonderfully the next day after a night in the fridge. My co-workers actually ate it and thought it was pretty good, even if I had terrible flashbacks and just couldn't stand the tuna fish-y-ness of it all, I tried to be as cool as could be . . .  but I will admit, I enjoyed throwing away the leftovers. Take that, mom!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mama Mallace's Fruit and Nut Mix

This is some good stuff, right here. Every now and again the 99 Cent Only Store will have these, and I buy them when I can.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fruit 2 Day and Pom Drinks

I picked up these 2 drinks for 39 cents each at the 99 Cent Only Store. The Fruit 2 Day has 2 servings of fruit in the 6.75 oz. with real fruit bits. It does taste pretty good, the pomegranate blueberry flavor is nice, but the fruit fragments are a little weird.

If you check the label, you'll see the first ingredient is apple juice, but all and all it is not bad.

Any speaking of pomegranates, I got this Pom brand chocolate iced coffee that is pretty tasty too. No pomegranates, but the Pom brand was built on pomegranate juice, and has branched out into all sorts of beverages. I added some Kahlua to this drink, and now it is really yummy!

Mariana Dried Fruit -- Pineapple and Cranberries

My favorite dried fruit is apricots, and you can usually find Champion brand at the Dollar Store, but these bags of Tropical Pineapple and Cranberries are pretty sweet too!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Post Shredded Wheat

Sometimes the simple things are best, and it doesn't get much simpler than Post Shredded Wheat.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mardi Gras Slaw!!!

Purple, Green, Gold (well, orange anyways) this basic slaw is perfect for Mardi Gras!

I used green cabbage, purple (red) cabbage, carrots, and added chipotle mayo to garlic rice wine vinegar for a smoky, hot, and sweet tangy taste!

Not another King's Cake, but a K Cake!

Today is Fat Tuesday, and it would be aproppriate to make another King's Cake, but I don't like to repeat myself, and a co-worker specifically requested a Bonnie Butter Cake with French Silk Frosting for her birthday.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sausage Balls for Brunch

Well, you know I love my balls, and I always try to make something resembling brunch, as I'm lounging around about noon on Sunday in my jammies.

I get kinda hungry, but I want something easy, so I debated between pancakes, and an omelette, but then I said balls to that, when sausage balls popped into my head.

You can't get much easier than sausage balls, as they only have 3 ingredients -- sausage, cheese, and Bisquick (or the Dollar Store version). The hardest part of making sausage balls is waiting for them to bake in the oven, as you smell and crave their deliciousness.

Believe it or not, I'd never had a sausage ball until I moved to the South, and a co-worker brought some in one day. They were gone in a flash, and I've loved them ever since.

Here is the full recipe, for a big batch of around 3 dozen balls, just in case you want to feed the family, and/or friends:

1 pound sausage
2 cups bisquick
1 pound cheddar cheese

I had on hand:

a 7 oz package of Brown & Serve Turkey Sausage (10 links)
a 3/4 cup (3oz) package of Sargento shredded cheddar cheese,
a package of "Country Value" all purpose baking mix

I cut the recipe to roughly a fourth, using

5 links sausage,
3 oz cheese,
and 1/2 cup baking mix

First I turned on the oven to preheat to 350 degrees.

I microwaved the sausage links for 2 minutes to soften them, but not cook them entirely.

As the sausage cooled slightly, I mixed the cheese and baking mix together.

Then I cut the sausage into small pieces (probably the most effort of this recipe) and added them to the mix.

I washed my hands (safety first!) and got to manipulating the mixture. It was a little dry, so I added a bit of water, until it formed a sticky dough.

Now form walnut (or thereabouts) sized balls, and place on a cookie sheet (I put them on foil for easy clean up) and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

As a happy coincidence, that is just about the time it takes me to write a blog post.

My mixture made 13, or a baker's dozen of balls.

So excuse me while I burn my mouth on some hot sausage balls!

Since I'm in a Southern frame of mind, and I'm out of LoSo V-8 for Bloody Mary makin' I decided to wash down my sausage balls with Clayton and David Organic Raspberry Sweet Leaf Ice Tea. I admit I bought this simply because I liked the design of the can. I've never warmed up to iced tea, even with my tenure in Nashville, where Sweet Tea is the drink de rigueur.

The raspberry iced tea might be good mixed with vodka, though, but it is a little too early in the day for me to start drinkin'. In fact in Nashville you can't buy liquor, or wine on Sunday, and beer between the hours of 3 am and noon.

Hamper McBee, what do you think about that?

Bull's-Eye BarBQue Sauce with GUINNESS!!!

Who doesn't love Guinness? Even horses love a pint!

The fabulous Zenyatta enjoyed her Guinness in the afternoon, and as her trainer, John Shireffs says (at about the 8:30 mark in this 60 Minutes piece) It's gotta be the Stout!

I prefer my Guinness on tap, but I'll drink from a bottle, even a bottle of BarBQue sauce.

I snatched up this Bullseye BarBQue Sauce with Guinness from the 99 Cent Only Store, faster than Zenyatta in the homestretch, and it is delicious.

Being a borderline vegetarian (I know, I know), I decided to enjoy my sauce simply on the wonderful wheat sourdough bread I got last week.

I can't really taste the Guinness, but it is a wonderful sauce, and perfect for straight dippin'

It has 0 grams of fat , and is not too high in sodium at 360 mg, so I can get 'sauced' guilt free!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It's National Cold Cuts Day!!! Rejoice!!!

I don't eat a lot of meat, but I do enjoy a good cold cut. They are usually some sort of processed meat like product, with a lot of salt.

My favorite is good old fashioned Salami. A couple of slices on the wheat sourdough I got last week, with some mustard is a good, quick solid lunch.

I got this Hormel Hard Salame at the 99 Cent Only store, which sometimes has Hormel Pepperoni as well.

Maybe you like bologna, or ham, or pimento loaf, but chances are you are consuming something that has by product o' beef, or pork, or chicken, or all three (like many hotdogs), and are more than happy to slap that crazy concoction between a bun or a couple of slices of bread.

But I'm not here to bring up the horrors of the processing plant, I'm here to celebrate National Cold Cuts Day!!! Listeria be damned, full speed ahead. Head Cheese, anyone?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pita Chips and Focaccia Sticks

Ummm, honestly these looked better than they are. But that said, they aren't bad.