Down Home Kid Friendly Chili!

For years now, I have always prepared a big pot of chili or some other soup to have on Halloween.  When we had kids to get ready for trick or treating, mine and usually somebody else's,  it was just a convenient meal to have when we got back from festivities and the smell of a big pot of chili just made it seem like part of what Halloween smelled like to me along with dried, falling leaves and children with chocolate on their breath.   The smells of a holiday always stick with us so much more than what we actually see or do.   That's why I think  food brings back the most memories for people. 
This chili recipe is very kid friendly, because it's not terribly hot and spicy and it gets a touch of sweetness from a little brown sugar.  You might think that's odd, but it makes it taste amazing.  Try it and you won't make it again without it.   This can be all thrown in the slow cooker and cooked all day or you can make it in a soup pot and have it ready in an hour.  Either way works great and it just gets better as it sits. It's even better the next day.    Also, if you like the heat and spice and you aren't cooking for children or  those who are heat sensitive, like my husband, feel free to spice it up.  I add hot sauce to mine in my own bowl because I like hot.   Here is what you will need: 

2 lbs. ground chuck
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced small
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis, like Rotel or Pace (use mild if you don't want too much heat)
1 can Hunt's Chili Fixins
1  15 oz. can tomato sauce
2 cans chili beans, undrained  ( I like the Ranch beans)
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. chili powder (may add more if you like spice)
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
dash of cayenne ( to your taste)
1/2 cup brown sugar  (this makes it so much better)
3 cups water  (use 2 if cooking this in the slow cooker)
Brown the ground chuck with the onion and green pepper. Drain the excess grease.  If you are cooking in a slow cooker, add the brown ground beef to the slow cooker and proceed from there. 
Add all of the other ingredients in the order listed.  Bring to a low boil, then turn to low and simmer for about an hour.   Stir this every now and then because it has a tendency to stick at first.  After it cooks for 45 minutes or so, add a little more water if needed or depending on how thick you like your chili. 
If preparing in the slow cooker, set to low and let it go for 6-8 hours.  You won't need as much water added in the slow cooker. 

Down Home Kid Friendly Chili! 

Pumpkin Bread with Cinnamon Honey Cream Cheese Spread!

So many of you have been asking for pumpkin recipes and it is that time of year.  While I like most things involving the use of pumpkin...pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin roll, I think pumpkin bread is one of my favorites which is why I am starting with it.  This is a really moist pumpkin bread recipe and is wonderful just by itself, but if you want to kick it up to a whole new level, make the 'Cinnamon Honey Cream Cheese Spread' to slather on it...oh my, it is good stuff!   It's perfect for breakfast or a late afternoon snack.

This recipe makes two big loaves of bread or I made one big loaf and four mini loaves to share with other people.  You could make eight mini loaves for little gifts or to place in a gift basket with other sweets or a gourmet coffee or tea sampler.  Wouldn't that make a nice inexpensive gift for those folks you want to show some gratitude for during the holidays?

Here is what you will need for this pumpkin bread and the cream cheese spread:

1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
4 eggs, beaten
3 cups sugar
3  1/2 cups all purpose flour
1  1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1  16 oz. can pumpkin
1 cup nuts, chopped  ( walnuts or pecans work best)

Cinnamon Honey Cream Cheese Spread
1  8oz block of cream cheese, softened (I used light)
3 Tbs. honey
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the oil, eggs, water and sugar,  Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.   Add the pumpkin and the wet mixture (eggs, oil, water, sugar).  Blend just until the dry ingredients are wet.  Stir in the chopped nuts.

Grease 2   9" x 5" loaf pans well.   Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans.   Bake for 1 hour.   A pick inserted into the middle should come out clean. 

Or you can do mini loaves.  I did one large loaf and 4 mini loaves.  The mini loaf pan only needs to bake about 50 minutes. 

To make the cream cheese spread, blend the softened cream cheese with the honey and cinnamon.  Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

Pumpkin Bread with Cinnamon Honey Cream Cheese Spread! 

Holiday Potato Puff!

We do love our potatoes in this part of the south.  You won't find a holiday meal that doesn't feature some type of potato dish.   This potato recipe is a good one for big meals, because it can be prepared the night before or morning of and then baked just before serving.  This is also a good potato recipe for anytime of the year, not just the holidays.  It's like taking mashed potatoes and kicking them up several notches.  Here is what you will need for these decadent potatoes:

9-10 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tsp. salt
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup half and half (can use milk)
3/4 cup butter
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup chives, chopped (optional)

Place peeled and diced potatoes in a pan covered with water. Add 1 tsp. salt to water.  Cook until tender. Drain well.  Place them back in the warm pan with the cream cheese.  Mash potatoes with the cream cheese until smooth. 

In a saucepan, melt together the butter, cheese and half and half (or milk) until smooth.  Pour into the mashed potatoes and fold in the beaten eggs.  Add the black pepper, seasoned salt and garlic powder.  Blend all together until smooth. 

Pour into a casserole dish that has been sprayed well with nonstick cooking spray.  Sprinkle the top with a little more seasoned salt or a little paprika.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until slightly puffed and golden brown.  If you like sprinkle with the chives right before serving.  This is always a hit and there usually isn't a bite left!
You can prepare this the night before or the morning of your dinner, cover and refrigerate.  Take it out and allow to stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking.
Holiday Potato Puff!

Old Fashioned Egg Custard Pie!

I have had so many requests for a recipe for the egg custard pie.  I guess  a lot of you, like me, grew up with these pies being served by your mother or grandmother.  For me, it was my great aunt that made this pie at least what seemed like once a week.  It's actually a simple pie to make, but there a few key things you have to know about making it and getting it to turn out right. 
Here is what you will need for the egg custard pie:
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust
 egg white, beaten
3 whole eggs plus one egg yolk, beaten
¾ cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ½ cups half and half or can use whole milk, scalded
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Separate 1 egg and set the white aside.  Mix eggs, sugar and salt.   Scald the milk and then set it off the heat to cool slightly.  Pour and blend the scalded milk into the egg mixture.  Add the vanilla.
Line a pie plate with pie crust or if you are using a frozen crust that works also.  Brush the beaten egg white over the pie crust including the edges.  This helps to keep the crust from getting soggy.
Place the pie plate on a cookie sheet or pizza pan.  Pour about half of the egg custard in the pie shell.  Now, carefully place the cookie sheet in the oven and then slowly pour the rest of the egg custard into the shell.  If you try to fill the shell before placing it in the oven, it will slosh out over the edge as you put it in the oven, no matter how steady your hand is because the filling is rather thin.  You might have more than a regular pie crust will hold, so you can pour it into a little ramekin and bake it separately.  You could also use a deep dish crust, but that does not give you the traditional looking custard pie so I don't.
 Sprinkle the top of the pie with the nutmeg.  As I have mentioned before, I am not a big fan of the taste of nutmeg used in dishes, so I actually use pumpkin pie spice to sprinkle mine with which contains a slight bit of nutmeg, but also has cinnamon and ginger and is a much milder taste.   Traditionally, nutmeg is used though.
Bake for 30 - 35 minutes.  Usually 30 does it but ovens do vary.  A knife inserted in the middle should come out clean.  Cool and serve at room temperature.

Traditionally this was not served with whipped cream, but I think whipped cream makes everything better, so I add it! 
Old Fashioned Egg Custard Pie!

Sugar Cream Pie!

When I asked for recipes you all would like to see for the holidays, I had a request for this Sugar Cream Pie.  I have to admit, I was a little stumped.  I asked my mother about it and she was also not sure about a recipe for it.  Once we started to research it, I realized why we didn't know right off, this is more of an 'above the Mason Dixon' line pie than a 'below the Mason Dixon line' pie.  Actually, some of the information I found on it referred to it as a 'Hoosier Pie' or said it originated in Indiana or maybe Illinois.  Well, that explained it. 
Even though Indiana and Illinois border Kentucky just to the north, from my experience, when you cross that Ohio River, there are definite food differences and even cultural differences.  There are also some similarities, especially with the northern Kentucky area due to some of the same folks settling in those areas.  
No one seems to know or agree where the Sugar Cream Pie came from or who brought it to the Indiana area,  some say the Amish, but others say it couldn't have been because it was being made before the Amish came to the area.   This is known as a 'desperation pie' much like the south's Chess Pie is.  It was a pie made out of what you had on hand.  The original Sugar Cream Pie recipe does not have eggs in it, although there are a few recipes you will find that have eggs added.  One of my mother's friends found this recipe in one of her very old cookbooks.  Here is what you will need for this pie:
1  1/4  cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 pint cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 9 inch unbaked pie shell
cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling the top
1 Tablespoon butter
Sift together sugar, flour and salt.  Stir in 1 cup of cream to make a smooth paste, add the remaining cup of cream.  Beat lightly, stir in vanilla.   Pour in the pie shell.  Mix 1 tsp. cinnamon with 2 Tbs. sugar and sprinkle the top of the pie.  Dot with butter.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat and bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.  The top of the pie will bubble and brown some.
COOKING TIP:  Place the pie shell on a cookie sheet before filling.  This pie might boil over slightly and it will catch any boil over.

Sugar Cream Pie!

Southern Tea Cakes!

Tea Cakes with Butter Cream Frosting!
Tea Cakes Plain!  
The term 'tea cake' has different meanings in not just different regions of the United States, but in different parts of the world.  However, in the southeastern region of America, the tea cake is a big sugar cookie with a cake like texture. 

When I asked my mother if she had a good tea cake recipe, she looked at me like I was a little crazy and said "Why?".  I told her that I get requests for these several times a week and I didn't really have a good recipe.   She sort of sniffed ( like only Mama can do) and said,  "Well, I know about tea cakes, but I wouldn't call it a recipe.  It's just a plain old cake like sugar cookie that poor country folks made for something sweet when they didn't have anything else.  Believe me, I have eaten my share of them back in the day."   I told her that some people say they remind them of their grandmothers or great aunts or  even mothers and want to make them.  Of course, Mama's response was classic Mama,  "They must have better memories of being poor than I do, but we can make some for them."   I take it that Mama was not a tea cake

However, as with most baked goods, she can make a delicious tea cake.  I had to tell her that even though she thinks tea cakes are ho hum, my husband and I loved them and just about fought over the last one of the ones she sent home with us.  Isn't it funny how the simplest recipes are sometimes the best?  Here is what you will need:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
2/3  cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Beat eggs and stir in oil and vanilla.  Blend in sugar until the mixture thickens.  Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir into the oil mixture.   Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Press each cookie flat with the bottom of a glass that has been dipped in sugar.  If you moisten the bottom of the glass with oil before dipping in the sugar it will give you extra crunchiness.

Bake 8-10 minutes.  Do not over bake.   Makes approximately 3 dozen tea cakes.

You can fancy these up by frosting them, but they are good just plain also.  This butter cream frosting is really good on them and can be tinted or just left white as this was.

Butter Cream Frosting

8 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup shortening ( used Crisco)
1/3 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla or almond flavoring (the almond is really good for frosting the tea cakes)

Beat powdered sugar, butter and shortening in a large bowl.   Beat milk and flavoring of your choice.  If it's too stiff beat in more milk a few drops at a time. 

This recipe makes a huge amount of frosting so if you are just making it for the tea cake, you can cut it in half.  It will keep in the refrigerator for several days though. 


"Old Fashioned Rice Pudding"

Rice pudding always reminds me of my childhood.  I had a great aunt who made rice pudding what seemed like once a week, but it might not have been.  She made it the old fashioned way with long cooking rice, eggs, sugar and whole milk and she always sprinkled the top of each dish with fresh grated nutmeg.  For some reason, I have never cared for the taste of nutmeg much and I always thought about asking her if she could not put the nutmeg on mine, but I knew that would be rude so I didn't.  Instead, I would just discreetly scrape the nutmeg off the top.  Actually, my aunt wouldn't have cared if I had asked her to leave the nutmeg off.   She would have gladly, but children were raised so much differently back then. 

This rice pudding tastes so creamy and decadent and pretty much like it did back then, maybe even slightly better if I do say so myself, but this recipe is so easy and uncomplicated you won't believe it.  You don't have to cook the rice for half an hour or bake it for 45 minutes or any of that.  Here is what you will need:

1 cup quick cooking rice, uncooked (I used Minute Rice)
3 cups milk, divided
1 can sweetened condensed milk (like Eagle Brand)
1  5.1 oz. box of instant vanilla pudding
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Bring 1 cup of milk to a boil in a saucepan.  Stir in rice and raisins if you are adding them.  Remove from heat and cover.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Prepare pudding by mixing with the other 2 cups cold milk and the can of sweetened condensed milk.  Whisk until smooth and it starts to thicken.  Whisk in the vanilla and the cinnamon.

Mix the rice into the pudding mixture and pour into a 1 1/2 quart dish.  Sprinkle with either nutmeg or a little more cinnamon.  Let it cool for 5 minutes.  You can serve this immediately or chill and serve cold.
Serve topped with whipped cream or a little shredded coconut
Old Fashioned Rice Pudding!

Nana's Hot Wings!

Someone wrote to me and asked for a hot wing recipe that wasn't hot.  Now to most people who make and eat hot wings, this might not make sense, but to me it made perfect sense and I knew exactly where to get that recipe.  My mother, who can do wonderful things to a chicken, decided one day that she was going to make hot wings.  I was very skeptical of this undertaking, because my mother has these Gaelic taste buds that cannot tolerate anything the least bit spicy.  She and her sisters all have this problem.  To me, it's a problem, because I love spicy food and the hotter the better.   I guess the Irish skipped right over me and I got my taste buds from my father's side of the family.  

I am thinking my oldest niece worked on this hot wing recipe with my mother originally which might have been a good thing for the spiciness factor.  Anyway, when she presented her first batch, I was not real excited.  Then, when we ate them, I had to admit that even though they weren't all that hot, they were dang good.   They were wonderful!  I should have known not to underestimate her.  

Now, wings are like so many other things, everybody has their own ideas about them and the way they like them. Some like them breaded, some fried and then sauced, some like them with no breading but fried plain and then sauced.   There have to be hundreds of ways.  This is the way we do them and this is a great recipe for those who don't want them really hot.  Of course, you can heat them up if that is what you like and I do make mine a little spicier, actually a lot spicier.   Here is what you will need:

20 chicken wings, cut in three pieces, discard the end piece (you can sometimes find these already cut this way)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
oil for deep frying

3/4 cup Frank's Wing Sauce
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. chili powder

For Hotter Wings:   Use 1 cup Frank's Wing Sauce or use Texas Pete's which tends to be  a little hotter and add 1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper or more to your taste.  If you want tongue torch hot, add a few drops of habanero sauce, but be careful with it.  

Once you have your wings cut up into pieces,  place them in a bowl of salted water, cover and store in the refrigerator overnight.  This brines them and they will cook up much better.  When you get ready to cook them, drain them and rinse.  Mix flour with salt and pepper in a Ziploc bag and shake the wings in the flour to coat.  Deep fry the wings until the are brown on all sides in oil.  We use canola oil, you can also use peanut or vegetable oil if you prefer.   Remove to a paper towel lined platter.

In a saucepan mix the butter, wing sauce, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1 tsp. of chili powder.   Warm until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved.  

Place wings in a 9x13 baking dish and pour the sauce over all.  Make sure all of the wings are covered.  Place foil over the dish and bake for 45 -50 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.  

Serve with celery sticks, carrot sticks and your favorite dressings, usually bleu cheese or ranch.

Applesauce Cake with Buttermilk Glaze!

This applesauce cake is good just by itself, but the buttermilk glaze just takes it to another level.  This cake is moist and smells so good baking in the oven.  It's not a rich dessert, but you can add a scoop of ice cream to it to make it a little more decadent.  This makes a good coffee cake.   There are quite a few ingredients, but it's really easy to make.   Here is what you will need:

1  1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup oil or shortening
2 eggs
2 cups self rising flour
2 tsps. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup chopped nuts ( walnuts or pecans work well)
1 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease either  a Bundt pan or a 13x9 inch baking pan.

Cream together the sugar, butter and oil (or shortening) until fluffy.  Add the eggs to the creamed mixture.

In another bowl mix flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Stir in nuts and raisins, if you are adding them.
Add the flour mixture and the applesauce alternately to the creamed mixture. Add vanilla.   Bake for 50 to 55 minutes.  A pick inserted into the center should come out clean.  Cool completely before inverting onto serving plate.  

While the cake cools prepare the buttermilk glaze.

Buttermilk Glaze:

1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix and stir the first four ingredients in a saucepan on medium heat until it comes to a rolling boil.  Boil for 1 minute stirring continuously.   Add the vanilla.  Remove from heat and let sit to cool.  The mixture will thicken as it cools.  When it has cooled, stir well and pour over the cake on the serving platter.  This is a glaze so it won't be thick like icing, but should be thick enough to coat the cake.  Make sure your serving plate has some room around the edges to catch any glaze that runs off..

Applesauce Cake with Buttermilk Glaze! 

Beef Stroganoff!

Beef Stroganoff is definitely one of our family favorites.  It's not exactly a southern dish per se, but it is a dish we have been making and enjoying in our southern family for a long time.  It's not a difficult recipe to prepare, but it does take time.  However, it is well worth it.  A lot of recipes call for round steak and I have used round steak, but I prefer to use sirloin due to the reduced time it takes for the meat to get tender.  If you do use round steak, use the top round and plan on simmering the meat for at least 45 minutes to an hour.  I also usually use canned cream of mushroom soup and a can of beef consomme in this, because it gives the best overall results.  I have made it without and I always go right back to using it...because it's better.
 I find it funny when I get comments about using canned soups or mixes...usually from people who probably don't do a lot of cooking in the real world by the   I am here to tell you that I do use canned soups and mixes of all kinds at one time or another, if they make something taste good.  I do not use convenience items when they compromise the taste of a recipe or the real, from scratch, is easy to make and much better.  I am not an ingredients snob, however.  I am from the south, where we eat meat from cans and 'cheese' that is so processed it is shelf stable and will probably be good that way for  And in some recipes there is just no substitute for Velveeta.   I buy a big ole 2lb. hunk of it about once a month.  I knew a southern family that loved it so much they named one of their kids Velveeta! 
So, if you are put off by a can of cream of mushroom soup in a recipe or a taco mix, you might be in the wrong place or you can leave it out if you want.  Whatever floats your boat.  I won't judge you for not using it, don't judge me for using it.   I rarely get these comments, because 99.9% of the folks who read my blog are reading it because they eat and cook a whole lot like me and my family or they are here to learn some new recipes or cooking tips and not to be a fake food critic.  
Now that we got that out of the way, here is what you will need to make this luscious beef stroganoff:
2-3 lbs. of sirloin steak or top round
1 cup flour seasoned with 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, and 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 Tbs. minced garlic
3 Tbs. oil (I use Canola)
2 Tbs. butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can beef consomme or beef broth ( I prefer the consomme)
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
2 cups sour cream
parsley for garnishing
wide egg noodles or rice
Cut the beef in strips about 2 1/2 inches long.  Dredge in the seasoned flour.
Brown the beef in the butter and oil combination. Remove to a plate and saute the onion, garlic and mushrooms.  Add the beef back to skillet. Add the mushroom soup, beef consomme, water and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring to almost a boil, just to bubbling and then turn down to simmer and cover.  Simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring often to be sure it doesn't stick.  Using a nonstick skillet is best for this because it does have  a tendency to stick if you don't stir it every now and then. 


Add the sour cream to the sauce at the very end.  You need to temper the sour cream before adding it by adding a little of the hot mixture to it and mixing it in to bring the temperature up.  If you don't temper it and add it cold to the hot mixture the sour cream will 'break' and will not mix in smoothly.  Warm it back up, but do not let it boil or get too hot. It should be nice and smooth and creamy.  
Serve over wide egg noodles or rice and garnish with chopped parsley. Served with a salad, bread and of course, sweet have an amazing dinner that will become a family favorite!


Chicken Fajita Soup!

I love fajitas.  I actually love most Mexican food and as you have probably figured out if you have read many of my recipes,  I just love food in general.  However, those that I cook for the most do not like a lot of things that I crave.  Fajitas would be one of those things, so I don't make them much.  It's just too much trouble to do for one person.  I usually just get them when I go out.   So I got this idea of putting the fajita fixings into a soup, because for some odd reason, my husband will eat things in soup form that he would never touch otherwise.  I know that makes no sense, but this is what I have to work with y'   So this chicken fajita soup was born.   It doesn't take all day long to cook, it's inexpensive to make and it's actually very healthy.   It's a winner!   Here is what you need to make it:
2 lbs. chicken tenders or 3 nice size boneless chicken breasts
1 small or 1/2 large green bell pepper, diced
1 small or 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
1 small or 1/2 large yellow bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 Tbs. butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 pkg fajita mix ( I used Old El Paso)
juice of 1 lime
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1  15oz. can tomato sauce
3 Knorr chicken bullion cubes
2 cups frozen corn niblets or 1 can, drained
4 cups of water
2 Tbs. chopped jalapeno pepper (optional depending on how much heat you like)
dash of Tabasco sauce (optional)
4 flour tortillas, cut in strips and deep fried for garnish
shredded cheddar cheese
chopped green onions
sour cream
diced avocado
1/4 cup cilantro (optional)
Heat the olive oil and butter in a dutch oven or soup pot.  Add the chicken tenders, peppers, onion, and garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper and saute until done. 
Squeeze the juice of the lime over the chicken and vegetables and then sprinkle the fajita mix over all.  This is what the Old El Paso mix looks like in your Hispanic foods section of your store.
Add 4 cups of water, bullion cubes, Rotel tomatoes, tomato sauce and corn. If you are adding the jalapeno and Tabasco add it now.  Bring to a low boil, then turn down to simmer and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour for best flavor.
For the garnishes, I like to cut the tortillas in about 1/2 inch strips and deep fry them in oil.  They fry quickly so you have to watch them close.  Take them out to a paper towel covered plate to drain and spinkle with a little salt as soon as you take them out. You can also just buy the tortilla strips already prepared, but there is no comparison to those you fry at home fresh!   It's best to just put the other garnishes out in bowls and let everyone garnish to their own liking. 

Chicken Fajita Soup!

Farmer's Pork Chop Skillet!

This dish just is Fall to me. It's also a one pan meal so it's easy to prepare and the clean up is even easier.  It's a hearty dish that is great for filling up men and teenagers too.  Here is what you'll need for this recipe:
5-6 boneless loin pork chops  ( about a 1/2 inch thick)
4 medium size potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 cups of baby carrots or 3-4 regular carrots, peeled and cut in thirds
1 medium size onion, sliced and separated into rings
1 envelope of pork gravy or chicken gravy mix
2 cups water
1 cup flour
black pepper
seasoned salt
just enough vegetable oil or canola oil for frying the pork chops
Season the flour with salt, pepper, and seasoned salt (about 1/2 tsp. each).  Dredge the pork chops in the flour and shake off excess.  You are not trying to achieve a thick crust, just lightly flour.  Pour oil (about a 1/4 cup) in a skillet or dutch oven that has a lid. Heat it hot enough to brown the chops on both sides.  Sprinkle the pork chops with just a little bit more seasoned salt.

Add the peeled and quartered potatoes, carrots and onion rings.  Sprinkle all with a little salt and pepper.  Stir together the gravy mix and water and pour over all.  Cover and simmer on low for 1 hour.  The juices will thicken and the pork chops will be fork tender.  Spoon the gravy over all of the vegetables and serve.

Farmer's Pork Chop Skillet!

Redneck Fried Rice!

Fried rice is definitely not a southern dish, but it almost should be or in this case could be.  I mean it's rice, it involves butter and oil and frying and it has eggs.  Doesn't that almost seem southern?   This version even goes a step further and includes not only pork but bacon, which is why it got it's name.    When I first made the rice, I sent some to my son and his girlfriend.  When I asked what they thought of it, they said they liked it. 
  My son, who has taste buds that Gordon Ramsey would be amazed by, asked if the ham in it was country ham.  I told him it was just baked ham diced up small.  He said there was another meat flavor in there, other than ham.  Then it dawned on me that I had sauteed the ham in bacon drippings.  He picked that right out and said that was the flavor that really made it good.  Of course, bacon grease makes anything  I said, 'it's sort of the redneck's fried rice' and it just stuck.  
This recipe is very versatile, you can add a few peas, small diced carrots or chopped mushrooms if you like.  If you don't have bacon drippings on hand (obviously I always you can fry 4-5 pieces of bacon until crisp and use the drippings to saute your ham.  Sprinkle the crumbled bacon over the rice before serving.   Here is what you will need for the basic recipe:
2 cups rice (cook it according to package directions and for best results chill it before frying)
1 cup ham diced small
1/2 cup sliced green onion, including some of the green blades
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 Tbs. bacon drippings
2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. Canola or vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 Tbs. sesame seeds
dash of black pepper
dash of seasoned salt
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. Teriyaki sauce
2 eggs
Using a wok or deep frying pan, saute the ham in the bacon drippings.  Make sure your ham is diced small so that it cooks up with the rice and blends well.
Add 1 Tbs. oil and 1 Tbs. butter to the pan. Add the rice, the green onions and minced garlic. Sprinkle all of the seasonings, sesame seeds and the soy and teriyaki sauce over all.  Continue to turn and fry in the pan.
Make a well in the center of the rice and add the other tablespoon of butter to it.  Crack the eggs in the center and scramble.  When the eggs start to set, begin to mix them in with the rice. This should be cooked on fairly high heat without scorching it.  If you need more oil add a little more canola or vegetable oil. 
Take your spatula and sort of press down on the rice and let it get a little crispy on one side, then flip it and do it the same on the other side.  I have spent a lot of time in Japanese hibachi places studying this  That's it!  You now have 'Redneck Fried Rice'!   


Kerry's Cherry Pie!

Cherry pie is my husband's birthday pie.  When his mother was living, she always made him a cherry pie on his birthday.  The first year his birthday came along after his mother's death, which was sudden and very hard on him, I told my mother that his birthday would be a reminder of his mother being gone, because she always cooked his favorite dinner and made his cherry pie.  Every year since then, my mother has made that cherry pie and cooked that dinner, if not on his exact birthday, one day during the week of his birthday and he really looks forward to it.   Last week was his birthday, so he got his cherry pie.  Here's what you will need to make it:
pie pastry for two pie crusts  (you can use refrigerated or make your own)
1 can cherry pie filling
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. almond flavoring
1/4 stick of butter, melted
sugar for sprinkling the top
Mix sugar, water, and cornstarch in a pan and bring to a boil, add the cherry pie filling and cook just until it bubbles.   Add the almond flavoring.  Place pie pastry in pie plate.  Pour cherry filling into crust.  Cut the other crust in 1/2 inch strips and lay in a lattice pattern over the top of the pie.  Crimp the edges with your fingers or with the tines of a fork, trimming the crust around the edges. Brush the lattice crust with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.  Place on a cookie sheet and in a 300 degree oven for 1 hour.
This type of pie does best with the lattice crust so that it doesn't bubble over and also cooking at this lower temperature for a longer time keeps it from bubbling over and making a messy looking pie.
Cherry Pie!