Buffalo Fries!

I like most anything with the flavor of Buffalo hot sauce on it...wings, shrimp, chicken tenders, so why not fries?   I thought it might be a good idea so I came up with this recipe for them.  It worked well.  These are not burn your mouth up hot, but they are pretty spicy!  Here is what you will need:
3-4 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut in long sticks or wedges
3 Tbs. butter, melted
1/2 cup Buffalo hot sauce (I used Texas Pete)
1 Tbs. dry Ranch dressing mix
Cajun seasoning (I used Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning)
black pepper
ranch dressing
blue cheese dressing
I a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, hot sauce, and dry Ranch dressing mix until combined.  Place the potato wedges in the bowl and toss to coat all sides well.  Let them sit for a bit to absorb the sauce a little.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Spray well with nonstick spray or brush with oil.  Place the potato wedges on the baking sheet in a single layer leaving room between the pieces so they cook well. Sprinkle lightly with the Cajun seasoning, if you want to kick them up. It has red pepper in it, so go easy with it.  If you want a milder flavor just sprinkle with salt and pepper.
 Place in a 425 degree oven.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Turn each fry and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until done.
Place on a serving plate and serve with ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing for dipping! 

Fabulous Fruit Dip!

There are several different recipes for fresh fruit dip, and I think all of them are good, but this one is one of the best. 

Here is what you will need:

Cream cheese, whipped cream, strawberry yogurt, brown sugar, and red food coloring.
Soften cream cheese, with mixer whip together cream cheese, brown sugar and yogurt, fold in whipped cream and add a drop of red food coloring.  Mix together and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

8 oz. softened cream cheese (can use light cream cheese)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup strawberry yogurt
8 oz. whipped cream
1 drop red food coloring
Fabulous Fruit Dip!

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! 

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!  

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! 

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!

Traditional Southern Macaroni and Cheese!

I had a shocking revelation about macaroni and cheese about a year ago.  I was talking to a woman I worked with at the time and she was telling me about her mother's macaroni and cheese and that she always made the cheese sauce and put it in the casserole and baked it.  I guess I looked at her like she had horns or something, because she went on to say, "you know nobody does that anymore...bakes it in the oven and all of that".   Then I went on to say that I  still did.  I thought everybody did. She said no you don't, nobody does that anymore.    Did I mention that this woman didn't really like me and this might have been the longest conversation we ever had and it was going downhill fast...lol?  I once again told her that I did bake my mac and cheese in the oven and I even put eggs in it.  Her final words to me on this subject were that I was a little different and everyone knew it.  Okay, I see how this is going now. 
So I replayed this conversation to my mother, because I knew I would get my idea that people still make macaroni and cheese the proper way reinforced.  However, when I told her what was said, she said nobody does that anymore.  Does what?  Nobody makes a sauce and bakes it in the oven and all of that she said.  WHAT?  She goes on to tell me that she stopped doing that when the grandchildren were little, because they liked it just as well made on the stove and served right from the pan.  THE GRANDCHILDREN!  They were children.  What did they know about the future of the traditional macaroni and cheese?   How had I missed the fact that my own mother had stopped doing it the right way? The youngest grandchildren are a set of twins that are 19 years old!   This travesty of the mac and cheese has been going on for over 20 years right in my own family and I didn't notice?     I told my mother that Paula Deen still makes her macaroni and cheese the right way.  She said,  'you do know that is just a tv show, right'?  So I said, 'Well, why do I still make mine this way?'   My mother said, well you are a little different.  Are we seeing a trend here?  lol  I do tend to get a little passionate about my causes I guess...oh, well!
Different or not, I am on a mission to get people to make the macaroni and cheese the way it is supposed to be made.  No blue box, no dump the stuff in the pot on the stove and eat it...but make it the dish it should be.  The dish your grandmother made or your great- aunt or even Paula Deen on the show. It's really not a hard thing to make and the results are well worth it.
Here is what you will need:
2 cups elbow macaroni (or penne), milk, half and half, salt, pepper, butter, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Velveeta cheese, Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, salt, pepper,  garlic powder and flour.

Boil the macaroni in salted water for the time it says on the box and drain.  Some recipes say to rinse it off, I don't do this.  I think it removes the flavor.  Also don't under cook it because if you do the macaroni will soak up all of your sauce and you will end up with dry mac and cheese.

Put the macaroni back in the pan with 1 Tbs of butter and let it melt and coat the macaroni.
Now we make a cheese sauce which I like to do in the microwave.  It is much easier to do and doesn't stick or burn.  Melt 1/2 stick of butter in the microwave and then add 1/4 cup of flour to that.  Blend the flour into the butter with a whisk and microwave for about 30 seconds. 
 Add 1 cup half and half, 2 cups milk, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce.  Whisk well and microwave for about 3 - 4 minutes.  Whisk again to remove any lumps and then add 8 oz. of Velveeta cheese.   Microwave for 2-3 more minutes until the cheese is melted and whisk again until smooth. 
Beat 2 eggs in a bowl.

Put the macaroni in the cheese sauce and gently mix, then pour the eggs in and mix.  Make sure the cheese sauce and pasta are not too hot or it will scramble your eggs.  If it is still hot, you can temper your eggs by adding a little of the hot cheese sauce a spoonful at a time to the eggs and mixing to bring them up to temperature.  After you mix, pour 1/2  into a 2 quart casserole dish you have sprayed well with cooking spray.
Lay about 3-4 slices of Swiss cheese on this layer and then cover with 1 cup cheddar cheese.  Pour the other half over this and lay 3-4 slices of Swiss cheese over and the other 1 cup cheddar on top.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes or until it is bubbly and just starting to brown on top.
This sort of results in the best of both worlds of macaroni and cheese...it's creamy and custard -like because of the addition of the eggs.  That is southern macaroni and cheese!
2 cups elbow macaroni or penne
1 cup half and half
2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick) plus 1 Tbs.
1/4 cup flour
8 oz. Velveeta cheese ( you can use American, but nothing beats Velveeta in this)
2 eggs, beaten
about 4-6 slices Swiss cheese
2 cups cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce (optional)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (may sound strange but it adds a hint of flavor)

Country Chicken Pot Pie!

Chicken Pot Pie is such a warm and comforting dish.  It does seem that there are different ideas about what a chicken pot pie should consist of.  Should it have just white meat chicken, a flaky crust or a more substantial doughy crust, just potatoes and carrots or tons of all types of vegetables?   Therefore, this recipe can be adapted to what your family likes in a chicken pot pie.  I am going to give you what we like in ours and you can add or take away what you like.   Here is what you need:

3 cups chopped, cooked chicken breast meat (3-4 chicken breasts)
3 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups carrots, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1 cup green peas (optional)
1 cup niblets corn (optional)
5 cups water or enough to cover the vegetables by an inch
3 Knorr chicken bouillon cubes ( can use 2 Tbs. chicken bouillon powder)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp. curry powder (optional)
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup half and half or cream
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1 pkg. refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts)

Dice your cooked chicken in bite size pieces.  You can cook the chicken however you like it.  I like to roast mine in the oven with salt, pepper and Lawry's poultry seasoning (best stuff for chicken ever) and a pat of butter.   You can also boil them.  I like the flavor roasting them in the oven gives them for this and other 'casserole' type dishes.   Sometimes I go ahead and roast several at a time to have later in the week for other dishes.  It's a real time saver.

Place the water, bouillon cubes (can use an equal amount of canned chicken broth) in large dutch oven or pan on the stove.   Add the potatoes, onion, celery and carrots and the seasonings.   Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer and cook for about 30 minutes.  Add the peas and corn.  If you don't care for peas and corn, you can add extra carrots and potatoes or if you like more vegetables you could use 2 cups of mixed vegetables. Sometimes I just use the celery, onion, potatoes and carrots.  Cook for about 15 minutes more.

Add the can of cream of chicken soup and stir in until it is incorporated.  If you do not like to use canned soups, this can be left out, just taste for salt because it might need a little more. The soup does enrich it and give it a really good flavor. 

Add the 2 Tbs. butter to the pan and stir.   Stir 2 Tbs. cornstarch into the 1/2 cup cold half and half or cream and stir until it completely dissolves and is smooth.  Pour into the vegetable mixture and stir.  Bring up to a boil and it will start to tighten up and thicken some.  Turn the heat down to low and add the chopped chicken breast in.  Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed.   I do add the pinch of curry to this, but it's optional.
Lay one of the pie crusts in a 2 1/2 to 3 quart casserole dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. 

Place the casserole on a cookie sheet or large pizza pan and fill with the pot pie filling. This should be juicy.  The two crusts soak up some of the liquid.  Not enough liquid is what makes some pot pies too dry.  Leave some room in the dish, because this will bubble and can bubble right over the edge.  The cookie sheet helps save your oven if it does and makes it easier to move in and out of the oven.   You might have a little filling left over.  I usually do.
Make a little individual pot pie to have for lunch one day or if you have children, make it their 'special' pot pie in a ramekin or small baker.

Cover the top with the other crust and seal
around the edges.  With a sharp knife, make
some cuts in the top crust for venting purposes.
You can brush the top with an egg white which makes it brown nicely and look prettier.  Place in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the top is nice and brown.

Country Chicken Pot Pie! 

My Silky Chicken Noodle Soup!

When someone in my family is sick or under the weather, I make soup.  I am sure I have an old Jewish grandmother in me trying to get out or something.  I usually make chicken soup or potato soup and sometimes clam chowder.  This soup has gotten my son through everything from a bad cold, numerous strep throats, broken fingers to broken hearts.  Yesterday, I had a call for the soup so I got my big soup pot out and got to cookin'. 

You know how they tell you that you have to boil a big ole whole chicken for good chicken soup?  It's not really true.  You can use chicken breasts and other seasonings and still get a good chicken soup.  Here is what you will need:

4-5 chicken breasts
10 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 Knorr chicken bouillon cubes
2 packets Swanson Flavor Boost Chicken Flavor
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 tsps. Lawry's poultry and chicken rub
3 stalks celery with leaves
1 whole onion
8 oz. wide egg noodles
2 cups half and half cream

Take 4 -5 chicken breasts, 10 cups water, 3 stalks of celery with leaves still on and an onion cut in half in a stock pot or dutch oven.  Add 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper.  You can use boneless chicken breasts or bone-in, you will just have to remove bones after it cooks. 

Add 3 Knorr chicken bouillon cubes and 2 Swanson Flavor Boost chicken packets.  If you don't have Knorr and use the small bouillon cubes you will need to use about 6 of those.  Knorr is really best.  If you don't have the Swanson Flavor Boost use 2 extra Knorr bouillon cubes.  If you have homemade frozen chicken broth you can add 3 cups instead of this bouillon.  Sometimes I make broth and freeze it ahead.
Bring this to a boil and then reduce to simmer.  Simmer for at least an hour.  Remove chicken to a plate to cool.  Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer.  Pour the clear broth back into the stock pot and add 1 can of cream of chicken soup.  Whisk with a wire whisk to break it down and bring this to a boil. 

Add 2 tsp. Lawry's Chicken and Poultry Rub, if you don't have this (you must get some because it makes all the difference in the world), but you can substitute 1 tsp. poultry seasoning and 1 tsp. curry powder.

Once it boils add 8 - 10 oz. wide egg noodles.  I usually add about 1/2 of a 16 oz. bag. Shred or chop the chicken into bit size pieces and add it back to the pot.  Bring it back up to a boil then turn it down to low and cover so the noodles and chicken just simmer for about 20 minutes. 
At the end add 2 cups of half and half cream.  That is the silky in this soup and it makes it so delicious and smooth.   Do not let the soup come back to boiling once the cream has been added.  It should be kept on low heat.  If you are feeling really decadent, you can use 2 cups of cream instead of half and half, but the half and half works just as well.