Thursday, July 29, 2010

Comfort Casserole

Recipe: Hungry Jack Casserole
Source: Recipes Shared book (courtesy of my Aunt Janet)
Ingredients: Kid friendly
Party in the Tummy Scale (1-10): 7 (depends on who in the family you ask)

Every family has a casserole dish that has been passed down and is made when a baby is born, a child comes back home to visit from college, someone is feeling under the weather or just needs cheering up.  This is my family's casserole.  My Aunt Janet obtained this recipe from who knows where, and in the early 70's it fit the bill for her four young and hungry kids.  My mom used to eat it at my aunt's house all of the time, and when my mom got married the recipe was given to her.  This was a staple dish, and a favorite of my brother and I growing up.

The meal is nothing fancy, and the ingredients are simple, but it fills you up and warms your belly.  It got its name because the original recipe called for Hungry Jack biscuits, but it works with any brand.  This was one of the first dishes I made for R when we got married and it was a hit with him as well.  The original recipe calls for ground beef.  I use ground turkey, which my dad thinks should be a crime punishable by law.  God forbid I use a healthier meat and mess with the recipe... shoot me now!  The BBQ sauce you use makes a big difference in flavor as well. 

I switched the recipe up a bit tonight... hence the note after the "Yummy in the Tummy" score.  I had the idea this afternoon of adding some cut up hot dogs into the ground turkey mix to see if the kids would actually eat the filling and not just the biscuit topping.  Worked like a charm!  R didn't like it as well though... "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" was his philosophy.  Verdict... hot dogs optional, depending on who you are feeding!

Hungry Jack Casserole

1 lb. ground beef
1  16 oz. can pork and beans
1 tsp. salt
1 T. dried minced onion
2 T. brown sugar
3/4 c. BBQ sauce
1 can biscuits
1 c. grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Brown beef in skillit and drain.  Add beef back to skillit and add next five ingredients; heat until bubbly.
Pour ingredients into a two quart casserole dish. 
Cut biscuits in half and place cut side down around the edge of the casserole dish. 
Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.

Notes: This recipe freezes and travels well.  I like to use a stronger flavored BBQ sauce to enhance the flavor a bit more.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Breakfast for Dinner!

Recipe: Dutch Babies
Source: Recipes Shared book (courtesy of my good friend Ann T.)
Ingredients: Already in your pantry
Difficulty: Beyond easy
Party in the Tummy Scale (1-10): 8

I decided tonight that DB and I were going to make Dutch Babies out of the Recipes Shared book.  Not because I have gained 5 pounds in month, and not because we had donuts for breakfast today (and throughout the day really... who am I kidding).  I decided to make these because I had all of the ingredients on hand, and... I have had this recipe for 8 years now and have never actually made it but always wanted to.  Tonight was the last night of our girls weekend as well, as R and Bub come back tonight and I figured we might as well go out with a bang.  DB just turned three, and when I announced that mommy was making a giant pancake for dinner, her little green eyes lit right up!

I have known Ann since I was 21 and working in advertising, which some days seems like forever ago.  She got this recipe from her mother-in-law who is a domestic goddess.  I knew this had to be good.  Ann threw one of my bridal showers, and has since gone on to open her own amazing stationery boutique that I happen to work at one or two Saturdays a month.

Back to the recipe...

How simple are these ingredients?  Really... that's it!

Whip it all together, stick it in the oven and it turns into this...

Which looks kind of cool, but not all that spectacular on its own...

That is, until you fancy it up!

Then, your plate will quickly turn into this, and you will be happy.

Very happy.

Dutch Babies

4 eggs
1 c. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. milk
Fresh lemon juice, powdered sugar, maple syrup, berries, etc.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
Put all ingredients into a blender and mix until well blended.
Pour batter into a greased Dutch Baby pan (a round ceramic dish).
Bake until pancake is puffy and golden brown, approximately 15-20 minutes.
Top with lemon juice and and powdered sugar or butter and maple syrup.

Notes: I did not put everything in the blender.  I just put it in a bowl and whisked it really well.  I also did not have a really large, round ceramic dish, so I used a large, oven safe saute pan.  This took about 25 minutes to turn golden brown for me, and once it did, DB and I added strawberries, maple syrup and powdered sugar to ours!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

First and Favorite

Cookbook: Recipes Shared
Availability: At my house only!
Shelf Factor: Will ALWAYS have a spot on my cookbook shelves!

My first cookbook is, and always will be my favorite.  My mom made it for me when I got married.  I was lucky enough to have four bridal showers,and at two of them the guests were asked to bring a favorite recipe for me, the bride-to-be.  My mom then painstakingly put this book together with a lot of work, love, creativity, memories, and embarrassing photos.  It is a book I will always hold dear to my heart, but I will never know if my mom came up with the idea out of her love for me, or out of sheer terror that I may kill my soon-to-be husband within our first year of marriage with my atrocious cooking.  I prefer to leave the answer to this question a mystery.

Even though I have had this book for almost 8 years now, I still haven't made every dish.  This week, I will pick a couple of family staples and try some recipes that I am not familiar with.  But for now, let me share some of the contents of this book with you...

The first page of the book is R's (my husband) famous, secret bean dip.  His mom shared one of her coveted recipe's with his dad's secretary way back when in order to obtain this.  Randy has since taken full credit, and since I believe very few recipes should be "secret" (especially one this good), I have shared it with everyone who asks.  The photo at the bottom of the page was taken on the first family trip I ever brought R on.  My mom took the photo and didn't realize that at that very moment, R and I were discussing the possibility of marriage one day.  I love that she unknowingly captured this.


This is the BEST meatloaf recipe.  This is also the WORST photo of the best meatloaf recipe.

My beyond adorable (still!) Godmother holding a very little me.  She decided to share an "old 70's recipe".  Hm... don't know if I'll be trying this one this week... or ever.

Why... WHY was this photo ever saved by anyone? 

One -year-old me with Gram.  The recipe written below in her frail handwriting is for her fruit salad that was served every Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I was never a huge fan, but the rest of the family was!

Twenty-something me with an eighty-something Gram.  You can see little changed over the years.  I only knew her with one type of hairstyle, and one style of glasses... the Jackie O. style.  Very fitting for her, as she was very classy and always put together.  She wouldn't even let me, her granddaughter, in her house if she didn't have lipstick on.

Not all are recipes for food, but are still just as special.

I had to laugh at my mom's note here.  We did have this dish a lot while I was growing up.  Little did my mom know though that I used to douse the chicken in Ranch dressing because the chicken in this casserole is so darned dry!

My mom wrote a lovely note to me here.  This note though does not undo the damage that was done by putting me in this bridal shower bonnet get-up that is on my head.  Mothers... no matter how cute you think it is or how great of a photo you think it will make, don't do this to your daughters.  Love you, mom!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Stash(es)...

I'd like to start this blog off by showing you (any of you???) where I stash my addiction. My addiction started out small... on our kitchen counter. Then it got moved to a more spacious shelf. One shelf turned into two, and it then became clear that my addiction would need its own space... it deserved its own set of shelves.

As my husband and I were bookcase shopping, he asked me if I would make him a deal.  He asked me to agree that by buying the "cookbook bookcase", I would keep all cookbooks on the shelves.  Not by the shelves, or beyond the shelves, but every cookbook I owned would have to stay on the shelves.  If they didn't fit and I wanted a new cookbook, I would have to get rid of one on the shelves to make room.  Of course, at the time I agreed.

I did try to keep my end of the bargain with that bookcase. I purged. I rearranged. I jammed those books in so tight I could barely get one out. If you came to my house, whether you were a friend, family member, neighbor, or the UPS man, you were offered a cookbook to take with you so I would have more room on the shelves.

Then... a few things happened. First, my Gram passed away at 93. My gram who I loved dearly was an organized, clean, hoarder. She kept everything. A matchbook from every hotel or restaurant she had ever been to. If you sent her anything in the mail, and I mean anything... she was keeping it. Therefore she kept her recipes and cookbooks which I was given, and there was NO WAY I was not holding onto those. Second, my parents moved and didn't have enough space at the new house to take all of my mom's old cookbooks. Drat.  I guess I had no choice but to take those too.

Now... I have this... a few shelves in our office to put more cookbooks on. Looks harmless really. In fact, my husband hasn't even noticed yet. Wonder how long it will take him...

I hope you will tag along as I delve into this deep, dark, dust bunny filled, calorie laden world otherwise known as my cookbook collection.