Country Fried Chicken

Country Fried Chicken

Country Fried Chicken

My mom made the worlds best fried chicken. Or at least she did to me when I was a kid. I wonder sometimes if I would like as well the foods I enjoyed when I was a kid since my tastes are oh so sophisticated now *snorts and laughs*. But seriously, as our tastes mature and we try more, the things we loved as kids just don’t seem appealing anymore. In some cases, that’s a good thing. As much as I joke about Twinkies and Cheetos, I wouldn’t want a steady diet of them but when I was a kid, I could have happily eaten them for every meal. In other cases, maybe it’s not such a good thing. Like I said, I loved my mothers fried chicken. But now, as a middle aged mom, I make it my way and it’s what my family and I are used to. Would I like mothers now with it’s simple coating of flour, salt and pepper? I don’t know and that strikes me as kind of sad. She also made really good lasagna but I make that differently too. I remember once asking her, after I was married and made it myself, why hers always tasted like it had boiled eggs in it. She replied simply, “because it does.” I thought then and still wonder where she found a recipe for lasagna that used boiled eggs in the filling. And while I wouldn’t make it that way myself, I remember loving it when she made it. Maybe I didn’t know any better… maybe it was because it was a rare treat, maybe it was just because it was made by her.

This chicken is years in the making. For years, my coating was too heavy, too greasy, too hard. FINALLY though, I learned what I was doing wrong. Basically, I was trying too hard. I was trying to make fried chicken into something fancy when it’s not. It’s simple country food, homey and comforting. It’s fattening, it’s bad for you and it’s oh so good. Fried chicken can frighten so many people but if you don’t fall into the ‘trying to hard” trap, it’s easy as can be. Just watch your oil temp (buy an instant read thermometer if you don’t have one) and don’t overcoat. Contrary to what one would think, extra coating won’t make it crispier. It just makes the coating hard and tough.

You know the drill…

Country Fried Chicken

  • 5 lbs chicken pieces (we like boneless skinless thighs and breasts and occasionally wings if I can find them on sale)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons Janes Krazy Mized Up Salt (can be found in most grocery stores. I prefer this one because it uses larger salt pieces thus isn’t as “salty” tasting as other seasoned salts)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons of franks Hot Sauce (optional and amount will vary depending on what level of heat you like)
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup butter flavor Crisco (optional, but it gives a nice flavor)
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, herbs, spices and salt. Stir well.
  2. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs and hot sauce. Beat until well combined.
  3. In a large pan or dutch oven (I use my 8 quart dutch oven and it works great. You can get a deep level of oil but with no worry of bubbling over and less splattering.), pour vegetable oil to a level of about 2 inches. Add in the Crisco if using (or another cup of oil) and over medium heat, heat oil to 340 degrees.
  4. While oil heats, take each piece of chicken and coat in this order- dredge first in the flour, then in the egg mixture, carefully shaking off excess liquid, then dredge again in the flour. Set each piece on a rack that is set over a piece of waxed paper for easier cleanup.
  5. When oil is hot, put chicken into pan carefully, starting with dark meat pieces like thighs and drumsticks. Turn the heat up to medium high for about 2 minutes, just long enough to bring the oil back up to temp, because adding the chicken can lower the temp drastically, causing the chicken to soak up too much oil. Don’t crowd your pan. Let the dark meat pieces cook for about 5 minutes, then if you have room in the pan, add a piece or two of the white meat.
  6. Cook the chicken, turning two or three times during cooking, until it is golden brown and an instant read thermometer inserted into a piece of chicken (NOT touching a bone if it’s not boneless chicken) reads at a temp of approximately 180 degrees. Remember that white meat cooks quicker than dark and that just because a thinner piece is done, that doesn’t mean a thick piece like a large breast will be. Make sure you check thicker pieces inner temps too.
  7. Drain on a paper towel covered plate and serve piping hot…or warm…or room temp…or cold. I mean, really… it’s fried chicken!!

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Semi Homemade Sweet & Fruity Wine

Semi Homemade Sweet & Fruity Blackberry Wine

Semi Homemade Sweet & Fruity Blackberry Wine

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big drinker. I like wine sometimes, Baileys in the Winter as well as hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps in it. And I admit to a liking for any of the vodkas made by Pinnacle Vodka. I have simple tastes there too though- toss some of the whipped cream flavor into Orange Crush and I’m happy hehe. Problem is, even with booze, though I don’t drink it, I get caught up in ideas surrounding it, especially nowadays with so many cool sounding things out on the market. I have a bunch of stuff gathering dust because it sounded interesting but if I drink hard liquor, I’m likely to be snoring within ten minutes.

So, since I like to play with my booze :-P, a few years ago I decided to see what I could do to make inexpensive wine a bit better.

I’m so far from a wine snob it’s kind of laughable. I have been known to happily drink Mogen David. I draw the line at Boones Farm though… had enough of that back when I was too young to know any better. Point being, I like sweet wines. Dry wines are too..well… dry for me. I love to use them in cooking and love the flavor they impart there but other than an occasional glass of Cabernet, I prefer my wines sweet. Not being able to afford a wine making kit complete with five gallon jug, locks, etc etc, I make my own with bottled wine. And EVERYONE who has ever tried it has loved it. it’s sweet, fruity, full flavored, NOT DRY, inexpensive for what you end up with and has a bit more of a kick than “normal” wines because of the brandy I add to fortify it.

This is more of a technique than a recipe but I will post it in recipe format. make this this week and by the time Labor Day hits, you can strain it out and have a nice sweet glass of wine over ice while you grill out.

You know the drill. Erhmmm, get to bottling??

Semi Homemade Sweet & Fruity Wine

  • 1 gallon jug (just writing jug for wine tells you how NOT seriously I take wine since jug wine is so maligned lol) of decent but inexpensive red wine (I use either Gallo Burgundy or “Sweet Red Wine” which isn’t really sweet, so I’m not sure from where the name comes. Burgundy makes a heavier wine, the sweet red a lighter one)
  • An empty 750 liter bottle  (because once you add the additional ingredients, you have too much for the gallon bottle and need another bottle. You could of course just drink about 3 glasses then you’d have enough room 😀 )
  • 1 1/2 lbs frozen blackberries or raspberries (I have done both; the blackberry is what is in this photo)- make sure they are frozen, not thawed
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 ounces brandy (an airline bottle is the right size)
  1. Pour about 1/4 of the gallon of wine into another container. Or drink it. I won’t judge… though it could make continuing this process rather interesting hehe
  2. Use a funnel and pour the sugar into the gallon wine bottle. Now take your frozen berries and shove them down into the bottle. This is boring and makes your hands purple but short of pureeing the berries which makes it difficult to strain later (trust me; I tried), it’s the only way to get them in there. but this is why you leave them frozen. Can you imagine shoving mushy thawed ones in there? Lol.
  3. Now pour the brandy in there.
  4. Cap the bottle back up tightly, shake it well and store it in a cool dark place.
  5. Go back once a day for the first week to shake it to keep the sugar mixed.
  6. Let this sit for about 3 to 4 weeks. Strain through a coffee filter set into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl (this takes a while so be patient) then taste it. if it’s not sweet enough for you, add about another half a cup of sugar then cap it and set it back in a cool place for another week. After that, pour some over ice and enjoy.
  7. This makes a great spritzer also. Just mix 1:1 with some club soda or 7-up.
  8. This can also be made with white wine and something like peaches, nectarines or pears. But I personally didn’t care for it as much. You may however.

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Quick & Easy Three Meat Red Beans & Rice

Quick & Easy Three Meat Red Beans & Rice

Quick & Easy Three Meat Red Beans & Rice


I like shortcuts. Always have. The problem for me in using shortcuts in real life, like say driving, is that I have absolutely no sense of direction. I’m that person who takes the same route to places every…single…time. Because if I don’t, I also become that person who is later saying “Honest, I MEANT to take three hours to get back home. I was looking at all the houses in this neighborhood. It was totally my plan to drive past each house 46 times before I got back onto the main road.” I have to take a route about 10 times, then I have it down pat and won’t change even if they have torn the road up, closed it down and are using dynamite to fix it. Better dynamite than lost in the desert for 40 years. I’m pretty sure the Jews back in Old Testament days wandered the desert for 40 years because someone suggested an alternate route.

When it comes to cooking though, I love shortcuts. When you have six kids waiting for food approximately 15 times a day, you have to come up with ways to feed them quickly. Sometimes this means taking old tried and true recipes and *GASPS* using things that are a bit more processed to speed things up. Case in point is this recipe for red beans and rice. Mind you, I love making them the old fashioned way; letting my dry beans soak overnight, making a 45 minute slowly browned roux and so on and so forth. Thing is, I have learned over 38 years of cooking (I started cooking when I was about ten) that sometimes, when you use shortcuts, you end up with a meal that is just as tasty as the old fashioned way. These beans are one of those times. Canned beans and a quick roux that’s made in the microwave (yes, you can do a roux in the microwave. Have I steered you wrong yet?) make this a weeknight meal that you don’t have to fuss much over. This is very meaty, filling and tastes fantastic.  This doesn’t have a ton of extra ingredients. Between the meats, the veggies and the Cajun seasoning, this is extremely flavorful.

You know the drill. Git to cookin’.

Quick & Easy Three Meat Red Beans & Rice

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 4 15 ounce cans red beans, 2 cans drained, 2 with liquid left in them
  • 1 lb fresh andouille sausage, casings removed, crumbled (buy the real thing, not smoked andouille. I found mine at Whole Foods Market)
  • 1 lb chorizo sausage (the Mexican style, not the hard Spanish style.)
  • 1 lb ham, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons good quality Cajun seasoning (check the ingredients; most use a TON of salt & it is the 1st ingredient. McCormicks makes a good one.)
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce (I use Franks. I like that it isn’t just hot but has a distinct flavor)
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 2 cups white rice, made according to the directions on the bag
  1. Make your roux- in a large glass bowl (one that you know can handle time in the microwave, combine your flour and oil. Stir well. Microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes, uncovered. It should be a nice light brown by this point and have a yummy nutty smell.
  2. Stir well, making sure to get the sides of the bowl. Microwave again for about another 1 to 2 minutes, watching through the door the whole time to make sure it doesn’t burn. By the end of 6 minutes maximum (unless you have a low wattage microwave, in which case the process will take longer), you should have a nice dark brown roux..
  3. Carefully add your vegetables (and garlic) to the roux and stir well. Put back in the microwave and saute for about 3 minutes. Slowly stir in about 1/3 cup of hot water.
  4. In a large pot, over medium high heat, brown your meats, one type at a time. Do the ham first, then the andouille, then the chorizo. The reason for this is that chorizo has a stronger taste and you don’t want the other meats picking up it’s flavor but instead  keep each meats distinct taste.
  5. Pour the roux mixture into the pot. Stir well, then add the beans, Cajun seasoning, tomatoes and hot sauce. Stir again, cover pot and simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently and lowering heat if necessary to prevent sticking. You can simmer this for as little as 30 minutes if you’re in a hurry or as long as a couple of hours. It’s a very forgiving dish. It’s also amazing a day or two later, reheated.
  6. Serve over bowls of rice, garnished with onions.

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Fresh Fruit Salad With Honey/Lime Syrup & A Creamy Mascarpone Topping

Fresh Fruit Salad With Honey/lime Syrup & A Creamy Mascarpone Topping

Fresh Fruit Salad With Honey/lime Syrup & A Creamy Mascarpone Topping



It’s funny the things that you associate with certain words. Forevermore, the words fruit salad will make me think of a toy guitar my four year old had when he was a toddler. He could press certain buttons on it and it would play snippets of songs, one of them being “Fruit Salad” by The Wiggles (I STILL have no darn idea who The Wiggles are!) Warning… watch this at your own risk. Brain cells WILL melt and leak out of your ears.

 

That guitar disappeared one day (my theory is that I was sleep walking one night and gleefully broke it into a bazillion pieces and hid the body… I mean, pieces. and I thank God quite often for that unsolved kidnapping, murder, run away… whatever.

But fruit salad like this will only disappear one place… into mah bellah. It is yummy to the max and if you don’t use the mascarpone cream (though why you wouldn’t is beyond me 😛 ) it’s even more or less good for you. I mean… it’s fruit… and limes (which are also a fruit 😛 ) and nice natural honey. Ok, ok, so there’s sugar in there too! Sue me! But seriously, this is a great alternative to a fattening dessert. And it can be made fairly quickly so it’s great for an impromptu bring to work or a bbq dish. If you make it ahead of time, the fruits pick up a lot of flavor from the syrup, but the oranges will also take on a purplish tinge from the berries so if you don’t want that, add the oranges about 30 minutes or so before serving.

You know the drill…

            Fresh Fruit Salad With Honey/Lime Syrup & A Creamy Mascarpone Topping

  • 6 cups fresh mixed berries
  • 1 cup seedless green grapes (obviously, you can use another color but you’ll already have dark berries, thus why I did green grapes for contrast)
  • 2 oranges, sectioned, white pith removed
  • 2/3 cup lime juice
  • zest from 2 limes
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 8 ounce container mascarpone cheese, room temp
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a medium pot, combine the lime juice, lime zest, honey, 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then lower heat and simmer for one minute. Cool completely.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the fruits. When syrup is cool, pour over the fruits and toss GENTLY. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to one day.
  3. For mascarpone cream, combine the mascarpone, sour cream, vanilla and 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Keep stored in fridge until ready to use. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the fruit into a serving bowl. Discard (or drink lol) the remaining syrup.
  4. Top each serving with a dollop of the mascarpone cream.

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Spicy Ginger Lime Thai Pork Tenderloin

Spicy Ginger Lime Pork Tenderloin

Spicy Ginger Lime Pork Tenderloin

I was talking with a blogging friend of mine yesterday, comparing future posts. When I mentioned I would be using this recipe I came up with for a grilled pork tenderloin, her response to me was “is there anything you can’t cook?”. Being a woman with the brain cells of an eggplant, I wasn’t sure what she meant and asked. Her response (Beyond “Duh Janet”) was that I ran what I called a baking blog but I didn’t  do just baking posts and certainly didn’t seem to be a food blogger who knew how to cook one type of food and that was it.

My response? That yes, there were things I can’t cook. I make a truly atrocious dish of boxed mac and cheese. I am utterly incapable of following the directions on the box and always end up with either a soupy or a gritty mess. Though how one makes something with a gritty powder into something that ISN’T a mess is beyond me anyway :-P. My husband, who can’t cook a lick, manages fine however. Go figure. I also am horrid at decorating layer cakes. I can make a homemade cake with the best of ’em but when it comes to decorating/frosting it, I am fairly sure that my 4 year old son could do better.

I also reminded her that I have six kids (though admittedly, three are grown and married) and that at one point in my life, I was cooking for 5 kids, three of them teens and a husband. When doing that, you learn to make a variety of things sheerly out of self defense. I was scared that if I didn’t have a constant supply of food ready, they would turn on me and I would wake one night to find my legs being salted and peppered, and two teen boys and a girl along with two little boys standing over me with napkins around their necks.

So I cook. Many different things. Not just baking, though that is the favored thing in a house that still has two teen boys (the ones who were little in the above mentioning), a 4 year old and a husband. Not to mention, at the moment, 2 stepkids, my daughter and three of my grandkids. yeah, baking is a definite favorite.

But this pork loin went over well too. When the mongrel hordes settled down, there was less than one loin left out of four. I think they liked it. I don’t blame them. It WAS pretty awesome. 😀

I had been trying to figure out for a few days what I wanted to do with this pork loin and I finally got fed up waiting for an idea to pop into my head and just went to the cabinets and fridge and starting pulling things out. I tend to do some of my best cooking that way actually; when I stop trying to do things by a recipe and just…cook. This spicy, but not too much so, a little bit sweet, tangy and with the perfect balance of saltiness. All in all, just yummy. And you can’t get much easier than combine some ingredients, put the meat in them, marinate and cook.

You know the drill….

Spicy Ginger Lime Thai Pork Tenderloin

  • 1 package (about 3 pounds) pork tenderloin (tenderloin, not just regular loin)
  • 1 bottle Kens Lite Asian Sesame With Ginger And Soy
  • zest and juice from one lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Nam Pla (fish sauce, and don’t worry, it doesn’t taste fishy at all… think of it as a strange version of soy sauce if it makes you happy)
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  1. In a large bowl or 2 gallon ziploc bag, combine all ingredients other than the pork. Stir well to combine or if in the bag, close the bag and squeeze it to mix ingredients. Take out one cup to use as a basting sauce then add the pork to the remainder of the marinade.
  2. Marinate in the fridge (I suggest setting the bag into a bowl to be safe in case the bag leaks) for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
  3. When ready to cook,  preheat grill to medium hot.  Your coals should be totally covered in gray and you shouldn’t be able to hold your hand close to them for more than three or four seconds before you have to pull away.
  4. Oil your grill grate by brushing it with a bbq brush that has been dipped in oil.
  5. Place the pork directly over the hot area. Cook the pork until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of one of the loins registers about 145 degrees. Turn a few times during cooking, basting each time with the reserved marinade.
  6. Transfer to a platter, cover with foil and let rest for ten minutes before slicing.
  7. If you want to serve this with what sauce is left, make sure you bring the remaining sauce to a boil first to prevent cross contamination.

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Raspberry Coconut Sweet Rolls With Orange Cream Cheese Icing

Raspberry Coconut Sweet Rolls With Orange Cream Cheese Icing

Raspberry Coconut Sweet Rolls With Orange Cream Cheese Icing


What kind of idiot bakes in 90 degree weather, while living in a house with a central air unit that hates to go below 80 degrees inside when it’s hot outside!!? What kind of idiot I ask you!!??

Erhmmmm *looks sheepish*, that would be me.

I can’t help it! It’s a sickness. Many many food bloggers have it. We tell you and ourselves that it is all because we love you and want to create yummy things for you to drool over but in reality we’d bake anyway. Like I said, it’s an illness.

And ill is what I’m going to be if I keep shoving these sweet rolls into my chubby mouth. But oh my gosh, I’m rather proud of myself here. These are delicious! You get a tender sweet roll with a touch of coconut flavor in it, then the raspberry/coconut filling with it’s tang and mild crunch, then the rich creamy orange cream cheese icing. When this idea first came to me (lying in bed, trying to get to sleep. Many ideas come to me then. I’m strange.), I wasn’t sure how it would work. I was afraid that all of the flavors would clash with each other but they don’t do that at all. As a matter of fact, this will be going down as one of my favorite ways to make a sweet roll.

You know the drill. Git to cookin’.

Raspberry Coconut Sweet Rolls With Orange Cream Cheese Icing

  • Sweet Roll Dough-
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 1 cup milk, warmed (about 110 to 115 degrees)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 1/4 cups to 5/12 cups flour (you can use bread flour or all purpose- I use bread flour when making almost any yeast dough)
  • Filling-
  • 12 ounces raspberry preserves
  • 12 ounces fresh raspberries, rinsed, drained and gently blotted dry
  • 1 7 ounce bag sweetened grated coconut, toasted at 350 degrees until light brown
  • Icing-
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temp
  • zest of one large orange (about 3 tablespoons zest)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 150 then immediately turn it off. The purpose is to have a nice warm oven to proof the dough in but not to have it too hot. Butter 2 9 inch round cake pans (or one 13×9 inch baking pan) and set aside.
  2.  In a small bowl, combine the yeast and warm water. let sit for about 5 minutes to activate the yeast.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle hook (can all be done by hand but it makes it a bit more work and work scares me 😛 ), combine the milk, extracts, sugar, salt and butter. On low speed, mix just until combined.
  4. Pour in the yeast mixture and again, mix just until combined. Change over to the dough hook, then add 2 1/2 cups of the flour. Beat on low speed until it is a shaggy mass. Add another 2 1/2 cups of flour and mix on low speed for about 2 minutes. Feel the dough and if it it is still very sticky or tacky, add about another 1/4 cup of  flour. You want the dough to be just a tiny bit sticky, not enough that it sticks to your hands or fingers. By the same token, you don’t want dry dough because that equals dry finished product. Either way, beat on low speed until the dough is smooth, silky and has come away from the bowl in a solid mass, about 5 minutes.
  5. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Knead for just a minute (that is the reason you did all this in a stand mixer, so you didn’t have to knead by hand) then put into a greased bowl, turning it so that all sides are greased.
  6. Cover with a damp cloth and put into the previously preheated, now nicely warm oven. Let rise until it has doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
  7. Punch dough down and then turn out onto a lightly floured board or counter. Roll it into a rectangle that is roughly 28 by 12 inches.
  8. Spread the dough with the raspberry preserves. Then sprinkle all but 2/3 of a cup of the toasted coconut on top of the preserves. Then place the fresh raspberries on top of that.
  9. Starting at one of the long ends, carefully roll up the dough into a tight log. Don’t squeeze too hard though or you’ll squeeze out the preserves.
  10. Cut the log into 16 large rolls. Place them in the prepared pan(s) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Again allow the dough to rise in a warm place (NOT the oven) until doubled in bulk, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, make the icing- In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, orange zest and orange juice. Beat at medium speed until smooth.
  12. Add in the 2 cups powdered sugar and at LOW speed (unless you like being covered in sugar), beat until smooth and creamy. Add  in another half a cup sugar if the icing is too thin to spread. Cover and set aside.
  13. Bake the rolls at 350 degrees until they are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Set on a wire rack to cool completely.
  14. When cool, frost with the cream cheese icing (if you haven’t already eaten most of it straight from the bowl 😀 ) then sprinkle with the reserved toasted coconut.

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Insanely Cheesy And Creamy Mac & Cheese

Yum
Insanely Cheesy And Creamy Mac & Cheese Once upon a time, I made atrocious mac and cheese. It tasted ok, but the texture was kind of grainy and gritty. Every once in a while, I would hit it and it would be good but those times were few and far between.

For years, I had seen recipes for it that used eggs to make a sort of cheesy custard but something about using eggs in mac and cheese just seemed weird to me, not to mention that, even to ME, it was like “whoaaaaa… like mac and cheese isn’t fattening enough as is without adding a bunch of eggs to it?” But I kept running into recipes with them in it and the photos I saw always looked good so I broke down and tried it.

I’m sorry I waited so long.

And looking back and thinking in a logical cooking way, it makes sense. Make an egg custard and put cheese in it and you’re going to have something delicious. I do it when I make Pastitsio (the love child of Greek mac and cheese and Greek lasagna) so I don’t know why I hesitated in this. Adding the eggs to the milk and cheese one might normally use to make a white sauce for M&C simply gives you a smoother, richer, better textured final product. If you’ve never used a custard base for pasta, don’t be nervous. If you remember to temper your eggs, you’ll be fine. All that means is to beat a little of the hot milk/cheese mixture into the eggs to heat the eggs up. That way they don’t immediately scramble when you add them to the milk. After that, it’s a breeze. You’ve got this!   For the life of me, I don’t recall where I got the un-changed up recipe originally. I had it hand written on a piece of paper with no info.

You know the drill… in this case, it’s go make some outrageously cheesy and creamy mac and cheese!

Insanely Cheesy And Creamy Mac & Cheese

  • 2 lbs macaroni
  • 20 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated (don’t use the preshredded)
  • 20 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, freshly grated (don’t use the preshredded
  • 2 lbs Velveeta, cubed
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (use whole for this or 2%. There is really no use using skim or 1%. I mean… really… with all the cheese?)
  • 4 eggs, well beaten
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

 

  1. Cook your pasta, drain well and set aside.
  2. While it’s cooking, combine your cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Pour your milk into a medium, preferably non stick, pot. Over medium heat, bring the milk to a simmer.
  4. Add in the Velveeta cheese and stir constantly until smooth and completely melted.
  5. Take about 1/2 cup of the hot milk/cheese mixture and SLOWLY drizzle it into the bowl of beaten eggs, whisking with a fork constantly. When you have it all tempered, slowly pour the egg mixture back into the milk mixture, again stirring constantly.
  6. Butter a 4 to 6 quart baking dish (this has been edited since I first posted this as I have been told by people that that wasn’t big enough. So I came to check because I wasn’t sure why they were saying I said 3 quart and saw that I, in my idiocy, didn’t realize I had typed 3 and not four. I’m so sorry!!) and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Don’t use a smaller one… this makes a LOT of mac and cheese. Pour half of the pasta into the dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and layer the sliced butter all over the top.
  7. Sprinkle half of the cheddar/jack cheese mixture over the top of the pasta, then pour half of the hot milk/cheese mixture over the top. Repeat this layering one more time.
  8. Bake at 350 until mac and cheese is bubbly and lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

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Peaches And Cream Jello Salad

Peaches And Cream Jello Salad

Peaches And Cream Jello Salad



I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m old! Yep, compared to many bloggers, I’m old. I have six kids, three grown and married and have 7 grandchildren. The bulk of food bloggers are working on their first child, if that.

Why do I mention my old fart status? Jello. That’s why. Back in the stone age, when I was a kid who played with T-Rex bones for fun and dodged falling pterodactyl poop, jello was the dessert of choice. That and canned fruit, though that may have just been my mother who bought that…every…single…payday. Lots of canned fruit. LOTS. I still don’t care for canned fruit. Jello however, I still like. Though I have this bad habit of stockpiling it like there’s going to be a run on jello and then I end up with, no lie, about 50 boxes of jello. And we won’t mention how many boxes of pudding mix that I buy thinking it would be a quick dessert and then never make. And brownie mixes. And…and…never mind. Just suffice it to say that I hope you aren’t wanting to buy gummy candies anywhere anytime soon.

This started out as a creamsicle salad, which, while yummy, isn’t what I wanted. I hate being a conformist. EVERYONE makes it with orange jello. I’m a rebel.

Or something.

I made it with peach jello. And cheesecake flavored pudding mix.

It’s yummy. You need this. This is creamy and peachy and jello-ey (yes, that is now a word) and very refreshing after you’ve spent an hour or so watching your body shrink as you drip sweat over a red hot grill. It’s also so easy that anyone can do it, even my husband.  Ok, maybe I’m stretching the truth there.

Peaches And Cream Jello Salad

  • 2 3 ounce packages cheesecake flavored instant pudding mix (you can sub vanilla or maybe white chocolate if you want to)
  • 1 3 ounce package peach jello
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups chopped fresh peaches
  • 16 ounces cool whip
  1. In a large bowl, combine the pudding mix and jello. Pour the boiling water over it and stir until smooth and well blended.
  2. Stir in the heavy cream and stir until combined.
  3. Fold in the peaches.
  4. Fold in the cool whip.
  5. Chill until firm, about 2 hours.
  6. Serve. Eat. Burp. Ok, you don’t have to burp if you don’t want to.

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New York Cheesecake With Triple Berry Sauce

New York Cheesecake With Triple Berry Sauce

New York Cheesecake With Triple Berry Sauce


I’ve always gotten a kick out of the regional competition between different parts of the country when it comes to food. Being born and raised in Chicago, I saw a lot of it there. Chicagoans will tell you that you can’t get sausage as good anywhere but there… and they would be correct. They will also tell you that the way they make hot dogs is the best… and they would, again, be correct. Then there’s pizza. While Chicago is known for deep dish, believe it or not, a native Chicagoan will tell you that Chicago is more known for thin crust pizza. And yes, it’s better there. I didn’t have deep dish pizza until well into adulthood. Go figure.

Other parts of the country will arguments over other foods, such as where in the south you can get the best fried chicken or the best shrimp and grits (both foods dear to my heart…and stomach), where the best bagels are available (from all accounts that would be New York but never having been there, I can’t say) down to even where you can get the best coffee (Seattle ostensibly but again, I couldn’t say)

One thing most people won’t argue about though is where one can get the best cheesecake. New York wins that. While, like I said, I’ve never been there (*sobs* I’m so travel deprived) I’ve tried enough cheesecake to be pretty certain which is the best. And a thick, dense, creamy New York style cheesecake is hard to beat. Though *she says with a sheepish grin* I DO have a liking for those creamy French style Sara Lee cheesecakes. Don’t judge!

You need to give this one a try next time you get a hankering (yes, I just said hankering…what of it? 😛 ) for cheesecake. It is, as I mentioned above, thick (boy, is it thick), dense and creamy. Plus, with the quick berry sauce on top, it goes from wonderful to “omg, back away from this cheesecake cause it’s all mine!”.

This is fairly quickly put together. It takes a while to cook and then to chill but it’s worth the wait. Mine took longer than the recipe said it would by about 50% time wise but that could be my oven, who knows. This originally comes from Cooks Illustrated and I really didn’t chance much other than I added 2 tablespoons of flour (I have bad luck at times with cheesecakes that don’t contain a touch of flour so I just put a bit) and I added the lemon and orange zests. The berry sauce is also mine but there’s nothing fancy about it though it looks it. All it is is berries and some softened up jam. I prefer uncooked berry sauces over cooked because 1) they’re easier and 2) you don’t lose the fresh flavor of the berries by cooking them. I also opened the door for a minute at the stage of turning the oven down to 200 because when researching this recipe, I read a LOT of reviews saying that theirs burned but those who said they propped the door open for a minute didn’t have that issue. I love the mild citrus flavor they added but feel free to omit them if you’re more a cheesecake purist.

You know the drill… git to cookin’.

New York Cheesecake With Triple Berry Sauce

  • Crust-
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 ounces graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (I used about 2 cause I like graham cracker crusts a bit sweet)
  • Cheesecake-
  • 5 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • zest from one lemon
  • zest from one orange
  • 1 tablespoon good quality vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Triple Berry Sauce-
  • 4 cups fresh mixed berries
  • 1/2 cup good quality berry jam (I used Smuckers Triple Berry Preserves)
  1. Spray a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray. Set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. To make the crust, combine the crumbs and the sugar. Stir to combine. Then pour over the melted butter and stir well until it’s evenly moistened. Pour the crumbs into the prepared pan and using the bottom of a glass, press them onto the bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan. Place in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes or so, until they are lightly browned. After you take it out, turn the heat up to 500 degrees (yes, you read that right)
  3. For the cheesecake- in a large bowl,  using a hand mixer (I have tried a stand mixer with this recipe and it simply doesn’t get the bottom of the bowl well enough and you end up with lumps of unmixed cream cheese), beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy with no lumps. Scrape the bowl once or twice during the mixing.
  4. Add in the sugar and flour and beat until combined, about one minute. Scrape the bowl again, then add the lemon juice,  zests, sour cream and vanilla. Beat at low speed until combined. Add the egg yolks, then beat until combined. Add the eggs, 2 at a time, and beat each time until well combined.
  5. Spray the cheesecake crust with cooking spray (yes, the crust… ), set the crust on a baking sheet (in case of drips) then pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes at 500. Then turn the heat down to 200 degrees. Prop or hold the door open for about 45 seconds or so so heat goes down a bit quicker then close it back.
  6. bake at 200 degrees for about an hour and a half (like I said up there, mine actually took closer to 2 hours but that may be my oven so check yours at the 90 minute mark.
  7. You want this to come to 150 degrees on an instant read thermometer. It should be set except in the center 2 inches or so of the cheesecake. It’s ok if it is VERY slightly jiggly there. It will firm up during the cooling process.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Using a butter knife, run it along the edge of the pan between the crust and the pan. This will help loosen it up. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.
  9. About an hour before serving, pour your berries in a medium bowl. Gently fold in the softened jam or preserves (you can soften it simply by giving it a good stir before using it). When ready to serve, either spoon the berries on top of the cheesecake or serve in a bowl alongside it.

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