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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Strawberry Fruit Pizza!

 Not long ago I worked in long term care for a couple of years.  Each month we would have a big birthday party celebration to honor all of the residents who had birthdays that month.  My mother and my Aunt Mary, were so kind to bake and donate all sorts of sweets...cakes, cookies, cupcakes and this fruit pizza, to serve at these parties.  Needless to say, the residents looked forward to these days and didn't fuss over their lunches too much on that day, because they were saving room for their sweet treats.  Anyone who has ever worked with the elderly knows if they won't eat anything else, you can usually get them to eat something sweet.   The staff looked forward to it about as much as they did also.  I have had several staff members say to me lately that they are dying for a piece of my mama's fruit pizza.  So I am posting this recipe for them! 

Here is what you'll need:

1 roll refrigerated sugar cookies
1 8oz cream cheese (softened)
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup refrigerated whipped topping
1 tsp vanilla flavoring
1 (15 oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 (3 oz.) pkg. instant vanilla pudding
3-4 bananas
approximately 4 cups large strawberries, sliced
1 pkg. strawberry glaze

Leave the roll of cookies out of the refrigerator to soften a bit.  Spray a pizza pan with baking spray, then pat the roll of cookie dough on the pan to the edges.  Bake as directed on the package minus just a few minutes of cooking time...just until the cookies are starting to brown.  Remove from oven and cool completely. 
With an electric mixer beat the cream cheese and confectioners sugar together, beat in the whipped topping, then add the vanilla and mix.  Spread this mixture over the cookie crust to the edges.

Next mix the pineapple (don't drain) with the instant pudding until well blended then spread over the cream cheese layer.  Slice the bananas and place in a single layer over the pineapple.  If you are making this ahead of time, you might want to squirt some lemon juice over the bananas to keep them from turning dark.  If you are serving  within a few hours, this isn't really necessary though.
Slice strawberries in half and arrange over the bananas with the large ones in the center and fanning out to the smaller ones on the outer edges.   Cut the end off of the strawberry glaze just enough to drizzles it over the whole thing starting in the middle and working your way out to the edges.  If you have a squeeze bottle, you can put the glaze in it and use it to squirt it on the pizza. Works beautifully!
Voila...strawberry fruit pizza! 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

BBQ Meatball Sliders!!!

I think I now have a favorite sandwich!  This will rank in my top 5 for sure!  These little "BBQ Meatball Sliders" are perfect football food or really anytime food!  They are great with a nice bowl of homemade soup also!  The homemade meatballs are to die for and you will be surprised how easy this all is to put together. I made these start to finish in less than an hour.   Here is what you will need!

1 1/2 lbs. ground chuck or ground beef
1 egg
1 /2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs (can use plain)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 Tbs. milk
2 Tbs. bbq sauce (whatever your favorite is)
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
dash of hot sauce (optional)
2 cups BBQ sauce (again whatever you prefer)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
dash hot sauce (optional)
8 slices Swiss or Provolone cheese
1 pkg. mini sub rolls (contains 8 rolls)

In a mixing bowl, combine ground chuck,  egg, Italian bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, milk, 1 Tbs. BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, black pepper, garlic powder and a dash of hot sauce.  Mix this together until everything is incorporated, but do not over mix it.  If you over mix meatballs, they get too tight and sort of come our dry and tough. 

With a cookie scoop or tablespoon scoop about 2 Tbs. for each meatball and roll into a nice round ball.  You don't want huge meatballs for these, because the buns are small and they will be hard to keep on the bun.  This should make about 16 meatballs.  Place them on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with a little nonstick spray.  I like to use Reynolds nonstick.   Place in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 -25 minutes, carefully flipping them over halfway through cooking.  They do best on the top rack of the oven.

In a large skillet over medium heat combine the 2 cups barbeque sauce, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder and a dash of hot sauce if you like a little kick.  Add the cooked meatballs to the skillet, everybody in the pool,  and toss them in the sauce to coat them all over.  Bring this up to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or so covered.  This allows the sauce to thicken and really infuse the meatballs with the flavor! 
To make your sandwiches place two meatballs on each mini sub roll and top with a slice of cheese.  Run under the broiler in the oven or microwave to melt the cheese.  You can add whatever you like to these...onion, pickle, even some slaw would be good. 
This will make about 8 sandwiches this size or you can use the Kings Hawaiian Dinner rolls or Sarah Lee Dinner size rolls and only use one meatball per slider and it will make 16 smaller sliders.  If you are serving these for a party, you could also put the meatballs and sauce in a slow cooker on low and let each guest make their own slider!   These are absolutely delicious, so make plenty!!!

Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken!

I first saw this recipe on a country music website, of all places,  and I had my doubts that it would actually turn out like a rotisserie chicken should so I didn't try it for a while. However, one week they had whole chickens on sale at Kroger and I decided to go ahead and chance it.  Boy, was I wrong.  It turned out amazingly good. As good as any chicken cooked on an actual rotisserie!

First, spray your slow cooker liberally with cooking spray.  This really makes clean up easy.  Next take foil and make balls a little smaller than base balls and line the bottom of the crock.

Wash your chicken inside and out and remove that weird bag of stuff they stick inside it (yuck) and discard it.  If you are leery of handling a raw chicken, invest in a some latex gloves.  Sprinkle the chicken inside and out with Lawry's poultry and chicken rub, pepper and garlic powder.  Dot with about a 1/3 stick of butter and put some sprigs of fresh rosemary on top.  The rosemary is optional but it makes it smell so good cooking.  Put the top on and cook 8 hours on low or 4-5 on high depending on how your slow cooker cooks. They all seem to vary.  I usually do mine about 4.5 hours on high.  Carefully remove from slow cooker and place on cutting board.  Let it rest 10 minutes before you carve it or you will lose a lot of the juices and your chicken will be dry.

This is one of the best ways to cook a whole chicken I have ever found!  

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cheesy Southwestern Corn Dip!

I am always looking for different dips and appetizers to make for parties and family gatherings and such.  We have our usual family favorites that always show up, but it's good to surprise everyone with something a bit different sometimes.  That's how some of them become family favorites.  This "Cheesy Southwestern Corn Dip" is a little different, but if you try it I think you will find out it's going to be a huge hit!   It's easy and doesn't take long to bake and I usually have most of the ingredients on hand!   Here is what you will need:
1 (8oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup  shredded Mexican cheese (Monterrey Jack and Cheddar)
1 (12 oz.) bag frozen Southwestern corn (can substitute canned Mexican Corn)
2 Tbs. minced pickled jalapeno peppers
dash of hot sauce to taste ( I used Tabasco)
3 green onions, diced including some of the green tops.
In a mixing bowl, mix the cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese and the Mexican cheese.  You can just use shredded cheddar if you don't have the Mexican cheese blend.
Cook the frozen corn according to the package directions.  Drain well in a colander to remove all of the liquid it produces.  

This is the corn I used.  You can use canned Mexican corn.  Just drain the canned and you don't need to cook it.  The frozen needs to be cooked to remove the moisture it produces or it will make your dip watery.  I like this frozen brand.
Add the corn, jalapenos, and hot sauce to taste to the cream cheese mixture and stir it all together.  You can make this as hot and spicy as you like be adjusting the hot sauce and jalapenos. 
Spray a 1 1/2 quart ramekin or casserole dish with nonstick spray.   A deep pie plate works well for this.  Evenly spread the dip in the dish and place in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
It should be just browning and bubbly. 
Garnish with green onions and serve with tortilla chips or Frito scoops!  This will go fast!  Make a double recipe if you have a bigger group! 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fried Potatoes!

Fried Potatoes, like so many foods we call 'fried' in the South, are really not deep fried per se.  They are skillet fried and they are so good!  These potatoes can be served at any meal.  They are great for breakfast with eggs and biscuits and gravy, some country ham or bacon and they are equally good for supper with pinto beans, collard or turnip greens and cornbread! 
Fried Potatoes have a different texture than say, French fries or typical hash browns.  They are soft and yummy on the inside, because you sort of steam them first, but they are crispy and browned on the outside from frying them uncovered at the end.  Not all sides will brown or crisp as you can see.  One key to good fried potatoes is to use the right potato and to not move them around too much in the pan.  
Here is what you will need:
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 Tbs. bacon drippings
5-6 large Russet potatoes (baking potatoes work best)
1 medium sweet onion, diced (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
You will need a large skillet with a top.  If you use nonstick, you can use a bit less oil.  If you use cast iron, you will a bit more oil.  Either works fine.   Heat the oil and bacon drippings on medium high heat.  It needs to be hot enough to sizzle.  
Peel, wash and diced the potatoes.  The number of potatoes you use really depends on how many you are cooking for and how much they eat.  A good rule of thumb is one potato per person, if they are large potatoes, and in my family throw in an extra one or two, because they love some fried potatoes.
Carefully slide the potatoes into the skillet.  That oil will pop so be careful. If you are adding onion, add it now also.  I don't use the onion in my fried potatoes, mainly because my mother never did and my family doesn't like it.  I, personally, think it's  a nice addition.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I like a lot of black pepper on these.   With a spatula, lightly toss the potatoes to coat them all with oil.  Cover with the skillet lid and reduce the heat just slightly.  Cook covered for about 12-15 minutes.  Check them about halfway to be sure the bottom isn't getting too brown.  This steams the potatoes and softens them.
Uncover them and with a spatula, start to turn them in sections so the underside is more on top. Sprinkle again with little salt and black pepper to taste. Turn the heat up a bit and let them fry uncovered for about 10 more minutes.  Turn them one more time and let them go about 5 minutes or until they are all tender and browned enough.  There is no real rule of when this is.   It's up to what you think and how brown you like them.  You don't want to cook them so long they get hard or steam them covered so long they fall apart.  Also, do not turn them too much.  We turned these three times basically.
When they are done, I turn them out on a paper towel lined dish.  Serve immediately!