Monday, March 24, 2014

Homemade Greek Seasoning

A while back I got this wild idea to make "Mediterranean Nachos."  (Look for them in a future post!)  I knew I wanted to top them with lots of yummy, seasoned chicken.  The obvious choice was greek seasoning.  Everyone I know in this part of the country has a bottle of Cavender's Greek Seasoning in their cupboard.  I don't know if it's because it's made in Northwest Arkansas, and maybe that makes it  kind of a regional thing, but around here it's an all-purpose seasoning.  The two quintessential Oklahoma all-purpose seasonings would have to be Cavender's and Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning.  You folks up North may have your Old Bay, but these two are like salt and pepper in Oklahoma.  I went to season my chicken and horror!  No Cavender's.  Oh the humanity.  Then I remembered the Mr. Devilish Dish took the entire bottle to tailgate to season the hamburgers he was grilling.  I could have made a trip to the store, but that would require putting on a bra and not wearing my pajamas so I decided to whip up my own seasoning instead. I was very pleased with the result.  Great flavor and so fragrant.  Try a sprinkle of this the next time you are cooking chicken breasts.  I still love me some Cavender's, but there's a certain satisfaction involved in creating your own spice blend.  It's easy and your kitchen will smell great!

Whether you're out of your favorite Greek
seasoning, or you just like to blend you own;
give this a try.  Oompah!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Creamy Garlic Salad Dressing

Little Devil LOVES salad.  When she was little, she liked salad, but not salad dressing.  Which really grosses me out thinking about it, because without the big blob of salad dressing it's really just rabbit food.  But she would eat a big bowl of greens and fresh veggies just like ol' Bugs Bunny.  Now that she's older she likes dressing with the salad, but she's picky about what kind.  Typically she only likes it when we make our own.  Whether it's a creamy homemade ranch, or a tangy vinaigrette, if it's homemade, then she's sure to love it.  A while back I made this Creamy Garlic Salad Dressing.  It's thick, and rich and something like you'd get at an old fashioned steakhouse.  It was such a big hit, she requested I make it again the following week!
Homemade Creamy Garlic Salad Dressing,
you can't beat it!

Creamy Garlic Salad Dressing
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 green onions finely chopped (white and green part)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, shake ingredients together until well-combined.  Let refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

Prep Time:  Approximately 10 minutes     Cook Time:  0 needs to chill

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Green Chile Verde

Every year for our wedding anniversary, Mr. DD and I try to follow the guidelines of what the traditional gifts should be.  For example the first anniversary gift is traditionally paper.  I gave him a book about Oklahoma Football and he gave me a Martha Stewart Cookbook.  Some years are easier than others.  Sometimes the traditional gifts are a little odd and we have to be creative.  For anniversary number seven (wool) I gifted him 7 pairs of wool socks.  This past year was 19 years and one of the suggested gifts was chili peppers.  So I made him the cutest gift basket with a bottle of 19th Anniversary Ale, a copy of Chile Pepper Magazine, a really cute green chile-themed flour sack towel and a few packages of Santa Fe Snack Mix.  The running joke for years has been that he always out does me with gifts.  This year he says, "Happy Anniversary, we are going to Santa Fe for Valentine's Day.  Our nephew and his girlfriend will be flying in to spend the weekend with us."  So yeah, once again my cute little gift basket idea was completely overshadowed by the fact we were visiting my favorite place on earth.  It turned out to be a Santa Fe themed Christmas around here too.  We gave our nephew and his girlfriend some Made in New Mexico food products and she gave us a New Mexico Chile Cookbook.  I spent the entire month of January cooking with green chiles in anticipation of visiting Santa Fe.  One of the recipes we tried was Green Chile Verde.  It's a very simple dish, made with pork and just a few ingredients.  But lots and lots of flavor.  If you're looking for a dish that has all of the flavors of New Mexico, this is it.  Even if you don't get a trip there for your anniversary,  you can pretend by making this wonderful stew!

Green Chile Verde,
the taste of New Mexico!

Here it is before the cooking takes place.
You can see from the finished product how
rich and dark the broth gets.
Some people give trips to Santa Fe.
I give cute little gift baskets.
Try this traditional green chile. 
You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Berry-Best Muffins

So you all know me well enough by now to know that tailgating is a serious part of my life.  Football, baseball, golf.  Heck I've even tailgated a Ghost Hunting Tour.  There is pretty much nothing I won't cook some food and fill an ice chest with beer for.  I'm convinced that is why tailgates were invented on vehicles.  An impromptu place to set up a spread and enjoy time with friends.  Every once in awhile, Oklahoma Football actually has an 11:00 a.m. game.  Not often, because television usually dictates game time, but occasionally we get to tailgate for breakfast.  The only complaint I have is I am not a morning person, so it's hard for me to get things set up early enough for people to enjoy themselves before kick-off.  One thing I will not complain about is how awesome these muffins are.  You can use blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries or a combination of berries.  Our favorite is cranberries.  Not only do they match the Crimson and Cream colors of OU, the tart cranberry flavor pairs great with the sweet cake-like muffin.

These really are the Berry Best!
I toted them to tailgate in a giant OU picnic basket!
Blueberry and Cranberry Muffins
for the breakfast tailgate!

You will not be disappointed.
This is my all-time favorite muffin recipe!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fat Tuesday Shrimp & Grits

Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday," and it refers to the last night of indulging in rich, fattening food before the Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday.  I can't think of a richer dish to indulge in either, and nothing says the South like Shrimp and Grits.  This recipe has a variation of my Grits Souffle and uses instant grits.  Although when I use instant grits, my husband likes to quote the guy in My Cousin Vinny and say, "No self-respectin' Southerner would use instant grits." Instant or not, this recipe is definitely Mardi Gras worthy, so as they say in New Orleans, "Laissez les bons temps rouler," or "Let the good times roll!"

Go ahead!  Indulge!
It's Fat Tuesday!

The Grits Casserole ready to bake.
The rich, thick shrimp mixture ready to top the grits.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Let the good times roll!

Fat Tuesday Shrimp & Grits

3 cups water
3 1/2 cups half and half
2 cups instant grits
1 (8 ounce) carton Mascarpone cheese OR 1 (5 ounce) package grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less if you like spicy or mild)
8 slices bacon, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 pounds medium fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning (I like Slap Ya Mama or Tony Chachere's)
additional green onion, chopped for garnish (green parts only)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9x13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.   In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups water and 3.5 cups half and half to a boil over medium heat.  (Keep an eye on this so the half and half does not burn.)  Add the grits, and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook until thickened, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in Mascarpone, egg, salt and cayenne pepper.  Spoon into prepared casserole dish and bake until set, approximately 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove and place on a platter lined with paper towels.  Crumble when cooled, if necessary.  Leave the bacon fat in the Dutch oven.  Add bell pepper and green onion.  Cook and stir until soft, about 3 minutes.  Sprinkle with flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add chicken broth and heavy cream; stir well until combined.  Continue cooking this mixture until thickened, approximately 5 minutes.  Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are pink and firm, approximately 3-4 minutes.  Season with Creole seasoning.  To serve, spoon a serving of prepared grits onto plate.  Top with shrimp mixture.  Garnish with crumbled bacon and chopped green onion.

Prep Time:  Approximately 25 minutes     Cook Time:  Approximately 1 hour total

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lasagna Rolls

So Little Devil has been house and dog sitting while a friend is out of town.  I think she's enjoying the "freedom" of having her own place for a week.  Who wouldn't enjoy it when nothing there is your responsibility financial or otherwise, besides feeding a cute lab mix named Ludo?  We haven't seen much of her this week.  She dropped by to get some clothes the other morning and the only thing I said was, "Lasagna Rolls for dinner." She stopped in her tracks and said, "See ya tonight."  It's not hard to get the family around the table with this yummy, Italian entree.  It's simple to prepare, requires just a few ingredients and  the finished product looks darned fancy. 

An easy, but IMPRESSIVE entree...
Spread filling over cooked lasagna noodle.
Begin at one end of the noodle and roll up.
It should look like this.
Place in casserole dish seam side down and
cover with marinara sauce.
Serve and enjoy!
Easier than regular lasagna, but just as tasty.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dad's Favorite Peanut Butter Cookies

It's National Peanut Butter Lover's Day today, which for me is every day. Given a choice I'll pick Reese's Cups over just about any candy bar out there.  Honestly they could leave the chocolate off and I would be totally fine with that.  My dad's favorite cookie is Peanut Butter.  I'm definitely my father's daughter, because that's my favorite too.  I was pretty excited when I met my husband and found out that was also his favorite.  I grew up in a house where a peanut butter sandwich was always an option.  Didn't like what mom made for dinner?  Peanut Butter.  Need a midnight snack?  Peanut Butter.  One time we were visiting my in-laws, when we lived out of state.  It was pretty late and everyone was in bed.  I was starving and I thought I'd sneak down stairs and make a peanut butter sandwich.  Imagine the horror when I searched every cupboard and found his family did not have a jar of peanut butter.  The next morning I asked him if they were really Russian spies that had infiltrated the United States posing an a normal American family.  He replied, "What in the world would make you think that?"  I said, "They have to be Communists.  Every family in America has peanut butter in their house."  We always have peanut butter on hand, mainly so I can make these cookies any time the craving strikes.  This is the way a Peanut Butter Cookie should be made.  Soft, chewy and not one bit gritty.  Go on an make yourself a batch.  Do it for your country.  It's American!

The All-American Peanut Butter Cookie
My dad's favorite.  My husband's favorite.
My favorite.
The Line-Up.
Be sure to use real butter and shortening.
Don't try to substitute or your cookies
will not have the perfect soft, chewy texture.
Cream together butter, shortening and sugars.
Add eggs.
Add vanilla.
Add peanut butter.

Combine dry ingredients and add to peanut butter mixture.
Roll into tablespoonful-sized balls.
Flatten cookies using fork to make a criss-cross pattern.
Happy National Peanut Butter Lover's Day!
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