This is a blog for people to discuss what they are eating. There is a theory that by journaling eating habits, people will eat healthier. I am trying to cook more at home and feed my family a wider variety of foods. People can just read or join as co-authors. Topics don't have to be recipes with nice photos. You can write about eating habits, special diets, culinary cultural differences, etc.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Stuffing that I Like

Okay, lets begin by saying that everyone on the planet loved my Granny's dressing. Raw, cooked, everyone LOVED it. When she passed away the hunt began for something approaching her style of dressing. I guess my aunts have pretty much got it down by now. But... I have a confession to make... I couldn't STAND my Granny's dressing. I thought it was fairly nasty, actually. Too dense, too much sage, and I don't know... I just never liked it. Does that make me a bad person? Maybe, I don't know. What I do know is that it made me find some other way to make it. So I did. And here is my little tutorial for my style dressing/stuffing:

1/2 of an 8" skillet of cornbread, crumbled (recipe follows)
1 6 ounce box of chicken or turkey flavored Stove Top Stuffing bread crumbs
1 15 ounce can chicken broth
1/4 cup butter (olive oil, margarine...)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 to 1/2 cup whole kernel corn (fresh, canned, frozen, whatever)
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 Tablespoons or more minced green chili pepper

Put everything into a large bowl, mix thoroughly. Spread into large casserole or baking dish (about 9x13 inches or so).

Do not press the stuffing hard into the pan, just smooth it out evenly.

Bake at 375 degrees until the corners get browned and crunchy (I like the crunchies). About 30-40 minutes.

As you can see, this stuffing is nice and light and fluffy. The additions are wonderful and give plenty of texture and taste. *Tip: use whatever additions seem good to you. Dried apples and walnuts; almonds and cherries or blueberries... whatever sounds good or maybe is a "traditional" flavor in your area.

This is my most favorite mix, tho. I love the sweet-tart of the cranberries, the heat of the chilis, the nuttiness of the pecans and the down home flavor of the corn which helps brighten and freshen the flavor of the cornbread. I think it's a fairly nice combo of "American" flavors.

Okay... here's the cornbread recipe. And damn if I don't make good cornbread (even if I do say so myself)

1 cup all purpose flour
2 cups fine yellow cornmeal (white if you just have to...)
1/4 cup sugar (or more to your taste)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
4 eggs
2 T oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 to 1 cup regular milk
1 cup pork cracklins (chicharrones), crushed if they are large ones

In large bowl mix all dry ingredients. Make a well, drop in the oil and eggs. Beat the eggs slightly (don't beat them into the flour/meal yet). Add the milk, both kinds and whisk until smooth. Add the cracklins*. Let the batter sit while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees or 400 (depends on if your oven burns hot or low). Put a tablespoon or two of butter and of oil into an 8 inch cast iron skillet and put it in the oven while it preheats. When the oven is hot, remove the skillet and swirl the oil around to coat the sides. Add the batter all at once and return to the oven. Bake for half an hour or so or until a knife comes out clean. (push the knife blade in about halfway between the edge of the pan and the center)
*If your cracklins are especially hard, you can soak them in the milk for a while before adding them and the milk to your batter.

This recipe makes damned good cornbread. Try it with honey and butter for dessert. Keep out a little bit of batter and add dried blueberries to it and make cornmeal muffins... anyway... this is better for making stuffing if you keep a batch in the freezer for a few weeks before you make it. But then... every southern cook keeps cornbread in the freezer, don't they?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Minorcan Christmas Candy

I have made this coconut candy every Christmas for the past two decades (or longer). It is the one special treat that all my friends and family ask for. I have never met anyone who did not like it, even if they thought they didn't like coconut. There is some kind of magic that happens during the cooking. The flavor is sweet, but not overly so; buttery, although there isn't any butter in it; and the flavor of the coconut is just divine. It isn't hard to make, just a little time consuming.

3 to 3 1/2 cups shredded, fresh coconut (about one and one half pound of nutmeat)
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup fresh milk
3 tablespoons white corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract *optional

Combine the coconut, sugar, and milk in a large, bright, heavy bottomed saute pan or Dutch Oven. Do not use a dark pan, which makes it difficult to see the colour of the candy as it cooks. I use a stainless steel Dutch oven myself.

As you can see, I sort of bypass the whole grate your own coconut thing and purchase it in the frozen fruit section of my local grocer (this was purchased at the Jinlong Oriental Market, but you can find it at your local mega-mart, too). Frozen works just as well as fresh for this confection. But make sure you do not try it with the sweetened flaked coconut that you use for making cakes.

Anyway... stir over moderate heat until the sugar is dissolved, then stir in the corn syrup. See? You push the coconut away from a spot on the bottom of the pan and look for sugar granules. If you don't see any, then its time to add the corn syrup.

Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring often to prevent burning. Turn the heat to low, cover, and cook 2 minutes to dissolve any crystals that may have formed on the side of the pan. Uncover and stir constantly until the candy is thick, 20 to 30 minutes. Do not cease stirring for a moment. Keep the mixture moving around in the pan.

If it begins to turn the least bit ivory colored, stir in 1 tablespoon cold water and continue cooking very slowly. If it turns golden it will still be good. It just isn't right. The candy is ready when a teaspoonful dropped onto a waxed paper-lined tray stands with no syrup running from the edges. At this point you can add the vanilla, if using. I prefer not. It isn't really "traditional"

Not ready.

Ready. See? No syrup in the bottom of the pan.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper-lined trays. If the candy should become too hard to drop, stir in a tablespoon cold water and stir over medium heat until liquid enough for dropping. Cool the candy. Store in cake tins in layers separated by waxed paper sheets.
This candy improves with age up to 2 or 3 weeks and remains in excellent condition for several weeks.

Okay... the recipe instructions say this candy will remain in excellent condition for up to 3 weeks. I don't know, I've never had any last around here that long. I generally end up making 2 or 3 batches of this stuff because my guys usually eat it up so fast I can't get it into the gift bags quick enough. That's okay, at least I know it's good when they do that.

By the way... if this stuff doesn't firm up after you drop it out you can chill it and cover it in chocolate (that almond bark stuff if you want) and voila Almond Joy! Also... I have added things like grated lime or orange peel to this. A very nice option is to make chocolate cups and fill them with the coconut and decorate with almond slivers and drizzled chocolate or any other little thing that strikes your fancy; candied ginger, maraschino cherries (well drained), preserved pineapple... but everyone's favorite way to have it is straight up coconut only. That's my favorite way, too.

A Little About the Minorcans in Florida

The candy got firm... but not firm enough to package well. So... I dipped the bottoms in chocolate and dang!!! This stuff is terrific! I used a mix of semi-sweet and dark chocolate chips for the coating.

Better than any store bought Almond Joy or Mounds. I just love this stuff.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Foods odds and ends

Friend of mine holding a Beach Staple.. the wonderful Funnel Cake!

It's been eons since I posted anything on here so I figured we can bring it back with the holidays around! Just the other day hubby did a few dishes and arranged it in the plate all cute and asked for the camera.. LOL It's funny HE'S thinking of the blog and he doesn't even write on it! Anyway.. as I was checking the camera.. I noticed a few pics from back in July when we went to Ocean City, New Jersey!

Mmmmm... Pizza from Mack and Mancos

The first one was the beach pic. Outside of pizza from Mack and Mancos.. my favorite is definitely the Funnel cake (there are several locations you can get this). Other beach goodies are salt water taffy (usually everywhere on the boardwalk but we usually go to Fralingers), Johnson's Caramel Popcorn and fudge from The Original Fudge Kitchen.

Seafood Spaghetti

Back at home I do my normal stuff. This sucker I call Seafood Spaghetti though this time it only consists of Shrimp and Sea Scallops (my favorite over Bay though I never turn down those :p ) in a scampi/Japanese sauce + cheese.. yes.. I never said it was healthy.. I usually crave this sucker around 3 am when I'm watching anime :p

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Rice

Hubby's dishes are next. He made me a sweet and sour chicken. Most of it was from a dry mix we found but he did it all. Was so cute.. he did the whole thing.. arranged it on the plate and yelled for the camera.. LOL!! It was quite yummy though even after making it.. he insisted he can do better with his own recipe and quite frankly.. I agree.. he cooks spectacular.. just need to find a good recipe for it. In the meantime though, dry package was just fine.

Lemon herb marinated/grilled chicken

Hubby again cooking. This time it was chicken breast marinated in a Lemon herb mix I found in Wegman's with Rice and brocoli with cheese. I didn't mind that the chicken was a little overgrilled but it was still moist and yummy :)

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Brownie Pops!

Sounds weird, but they're really tasty and easy to make.


1 brownie mix

candy bark (or almond bark - whatever it's called in your area)

candy sprinkles

lollipop sticks

Make brownies and slightly underbake them unless they're the fudgy ones. Cool a little bit, trim the edges and cut into small squares. Roll the squares into balls and place on a wax paper covered sheet cake pan (you need the small edges to keep them from rolling off in case of an accident). Put a stick in the middle of the balls and freeze. While the balls are freezing (don't go there......) melt the candy bark in a crock pot. Dip the frozen balls in the candy bark and tap on the side of the crock to remove the excess. Dip in candy sprinkles if you want. Put back on the wax paper to let the candy bark harden. Enjoy!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dinner and a Fruit problem..

Spaghetti and meatballs with salad

It's funny when I check my camera and there are pictures of food in it and I go "oh yeah I never blogged about this.." LOL! There goes hubby again putting salad dressing on a salad he is ACTUALLY GOING TO EAT! Okay.. he admitted he doesn't eat a lot of salad (he calls it rabbit food).. and so I tried something different and bought one of those make it yourself salad dressing mixes thing from Kraft since I got tired of my salad dressings spoiling in the fridge because I'm the only one that eats salad around here.. this time I can make it fresh. So I tried out the Good Seasons Salad Dressing & Recipe Mix, Basil Vinaigrette and he ADORED IT! For the spaghetti and meatballs I used prepackaged meatballs that are freezer kept and use whatever I need (just nuke it up and add to the sauce). It's one of my quickest dinners to make (though I do make him get the pot for me since it's the same pot that crowned me back in November...)

Mmmmm... Fruit smoothies

Being upset that the fruit supply has been downright sucky and uber expensive lately I've decided to try something different.. I went down the aisle that had canned pinneapples (though I admit.. chunks is better than crushed for this.. the crushed was more.. I don't know.. fibery? Is that even a word?) and went to the Fruit puree section and got assorted fruit drinks for this. I like the mango/pinneapple the best though I have tried the pinneapple with bananas and strawberry, and pears, etc.. it's not the same thing but I'm trying to add more fruit to my diet.. I can drink this stuff every day of the week.. so maybe this helps.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

My Version of Niku Jaga

My dear friend Bunny shared this recipe with me quite some time ago. It quickly became one of my family's very most favorite things to eat. You may notice that my version does not look quite like the one in the recipe she sent me. This is because we can all agree on the beef and potatoes, but the other items are considered optional for my guys. That's why I give them a plate of things to choose from to add to their bowl:

This time it was chopped re-constituted dried mushrooms, steamed green cabbage, braised celery, braised white onions, green peas (for me!), and cooked somen noodles anointed with a bit of dark sesame oil to keep them from sticking (Thomas wanted the noodles instead of potatoes).

The recipe calls for dashi soup stock, of which I had none. So... what I did was simmer the trimmings from the cabbage, celery, and onions with some shredded seaweed that I had on hand. It made a passable soup stock for this dish. I've seen some recipes that say you can use plain water, but I don't think I'd like that. I've also used plain veggie stock or plain beef stock when making this dish. It works also. Also, most recipes say to just slice the beef thinly and add it to the stock to cook. Since I was using a tougher cut of beef I sliced it thin and precooked it by browning in a bit of canola oil first then proceeding as per the recipe on That's the reason my broth is darker than other versions. I just added the stock to the pan I'd browned the meat in, using those yummy bits on the bottom of the pan. But they just added to the flavor.

To serve I just filled up the bowls with the beef (and potato) and broth and let the guys choose the accompaniments they wanted. I was low on veggies when I made this (just 4 little taters) but the accompaniments are usually varied anyway, depending on what I have. I have served this with snow peas, thinly sliced carrots, plain egg omelets sliced thin, kale or other greens, water chestnuts... whatever I feel like at the time or the guys ask for... use your imagination.

This soup is so easy to make. It's like a beef stew, so works great for winter, but isn't as thick so also works for summertime, too.

P.S. Don't laugh at me Carol, I know the way I make it isn't strictly traditional, but it works for my family and it's still the basic dish. I think so, anyway. :-)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chicken (or pork) Enchiladas Verde

Served here with refried beans and guacamole, yummy yummy.

4 cups shredded, cooked chicken or pork
1 32 ounce jar (4 cups) salsa verde, divided (I recommend Herdez brand)
8 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese (or use a mix of jack, queso, cheddar)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
16 6-inch corn tortillas
1/2 medium white onion, sliced thin

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix the meat with 1/2 cup of the salsa, 1 1/2 cups of the cheese, 1/4 cup of the cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread one cup of the salsa on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Microwave tortillas until soft and pliable (about 30-45 seconds). For those of you who are not concerned with your fat intake, you can do it the old fashioned way and dip the tortillas in hot oil until they are pliable. Don't let them get crunchy.
Use about 1/4 cup of the meat mixture per tortilla. Roll them up and lay them in the baking dish.
Drizzle enchiladas evenly with 1 1/2 cups of the salsa, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Lightly spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray, cover dish and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with onion and remaining cilantro, let stand for a few minutes, and serve with remaining salsa verde, and optional sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo.
Optional sides are refried beans, rice, green salad...

You may have noticed that mine is not actually green. It is red. That's because I cooked my pork loin in a New Mexico style red sauce. Then I used the leftovers for this dish. I did use the salsa verde, but the red sauce kind of over powered the color. The dish is delicious. And very easy. The original recipe actually called for using the meat of two store bought rotisserie chickens. I haven't tried it that way, but it would make it really easy (and quick).