7 November, 2013  |   3 Comments

Crocked Shrimp Dip

This recipe, from Ann Hodgeman’s Beat That cookbook, wins raves and recipe requests from all over the land.

The cucumber slices and water crackers didn’t make anyone’s fingers greasy, and the shrimp dip topping was light, whippy and exactly the most non-offensivest of fishy that you want in a dip. We make this dip in two parts, The first, the shrimping. The second, the blending and the third, the melding. The melding is my favorite part, because I have to do nothing.

Dottie's going in for the crocked shrimp dip.

This recipe only serves to reinforce my belief that a food processor makes nearly any food better. I think it has something to do with hoisting it out of its storage space and back and forth again.

First Day Ingredients
2 cups water
1 cup dry white wine (I use Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc)
2 lemons, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 poun raw medium shrimp, unpeeled

Second Day Ingredients
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 small scallions, minced (including a good 3 inches of green)
Salt and ground pepper to taste

Water crackers and cucumber slices for serving

First Day Directions
Mix the water, wine, lemon slices, chopped garlic cloves, peppercorns and mustard seeds (basically, everything except the shrimp) in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring the mix to a boil and let it boil for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low — and add the shrimp (still in their shells). Simmer for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the shrimp cool in the liquid for about 20 minutes. Put the whole mixture in the fridge overnight.

Second Day Directions
Drain and peel the shrimp. Take out that food processor, and add the cream cheese, anchovies, butter, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Process the mix utnil smooth. Drop in the peeled shrimp and pulse to chop it finely, you want some shrimpy texture in that dip.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, stir in the scallions and season with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill it overnight.

Third Day Directions
Let the shrimp sit for an hour at room temperature before serving it with water crackers and those thinly sliced cucumbers.

5 November, 2013  |   Comment

Peanut Butter Cookie Day!

Peanut Butter Cookie Closeup

One of the reasons I’ve been writing on the internet all this time is that I like having a recipe repository of all the stuff we eat for my kids. When they’re all grown, they’ll be able to have the exact recipe I used for their favorites. (And know what to avoid.)

Please give this child a cookie.

I shared my Brokey Peanut Butter Cookie recipe a few years ago. The recipe (and relative brokeyness) still stands.

It is exciting, to think that my kids can access that culinary history. My mom could sometimes make the same thing twice. But outside of the comforting sameness of lasagna-flavored Hamburger Helper, the flavors of my childhood reside only in my brain.

Sometimes I have deep thoughts, and sometimes I make peanut butter cookies.
It’s peanut butter cookie time.

We eat these a log.

Helen Jane’s Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe 

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter (that’s one stick), soft
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cookie sheet

Mix peanut butter and butter in large mixing bowl until smooth.
Then add all the other ingredients. Blend until smooth.
Put the cookie dough bowl into the refrigerator for 15 – 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.

When properly chilled, spoon batter onto cookie sheet with a Silpat or a piece of parchment paper on it.

Flatten cookies with the criss cross fork print which we all take to mean “peanut butter cookie.”
Bake for 10 minutes.

And don’t tell Dottie you’re going to take her peanut butter cookie away.

29 August, 2013  |   1 Comment

Mama’s Favorite Cookies – Dark Chocolate, Dried Cherry and Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

Cherry, chocolate chip, oatmeal cookies

These are my favorite cookies.
Right now.
They’re good for lunch-packing, snack-time and Helen’s Zass.

Cherry, chocolate chip, oatmeal cookies

Okay, maybe they’re not so good for Helen’s Zass.
But they are delicious.

Anyway, dark chocolate, dried cherries and oatmeal all in a cookie made of my favorites. The kids love them, I love them and I hope you love them too.

2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup dried cherries
2 cups dark chocolate chunks and/or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cherry, chocolate chip, oatmeal cookies

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Using beaters or a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until it’s light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and keep blending until it’s one harmonious mass. Turn off the beaters.

In a big bowl, put the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and oatmeal. Stir until blended through.

Turn the beaters/mixer to low and add the flour/oatmeal mixture slowly to the batter until barely blended. Or use a big wooden spoon, your choice.

Remove the bowl from the mixer, and stir through the chocolate chunks and dried cherries until mixed all the way through.

Put a spoonful or a scoopful of cookies on a baking sheet in the manner that one does. Wet your fingers and flatten the scoop a little bit. Leave enough space between them to flatten out a little, but I end up putting 12 cookies at a time on each baking sheet.

I like to use this scoop – it’s something I used a gift certificate for — and initially thought would be a silly purchase. Since we use it for a small ice cream scoop AND a cookie scoop AND a muffin scoop, I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth out of it. You might too.

In my oven, I needed to bake each sheet for 12 minutes, turning the pans from front to back 6 minutes in. Your oven may vary.

Cherry, chocolate chip, oatmeal cookies

I hope these cookies make you as happy as they make me.
(And the rest of our silly, silly family.)

After School

21 February, 2013  |   28 Comments

Sweet Dude Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

My friend’s having a rough time lately.

She’s going through a rotten breakup, her job is really hard on her and worst of all of it is that she’s physically attractive.

The world has very little sympathy for the good-looking.
Also: Humans are weird.

Humans like ME are weird in that some of us have a strange compulsion to cook for the people we love.
(No matter how hot they are.)

Compelled, I made that friend this breakfast hash.
And I think it helped, a little.

My specialty love-cooking meal is breakfast.
(See: Pancakes, Sticky Baked French Toast, Eggy Pie)

Cooking breakfast for someone is an intimate act.
It’s a meal cooked for you by only someone that wakes up in your home.
A treat saved for the closest.

This recipe serves four.

Sweet Potato Hash for anytime breakfast

Sweet Dude Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

1 large sweet potato
1 red bell pepper
1 small onion
4 links chicken apple sausage
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
4 eggs
Canola oil
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste

Cut the chicken apple sausage into a 1/2 inch dice.
Cut the bell pepper into a 1/2 inch dice.
Mince the onion, fine.
Peel the sweet potato. Cut it into a 1/2 inch dice.
(A 1/2 inch dice is smaller than you think it is.)

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a cast iron pan over medium high heat. Add the chicken apple sausage and saute until browned (about 4 minutes). Add the onions and pepper and toss until wilty (about another 3 minutes). Remove the mixture from the pan.

Put the pan back on the burner and add another 2 tablespoons of oil.

Add the sweet potato dice to the pan and let it fizizzle and heat until the corners of the tiny dice are browned and the inside of the sweet potato is well cooked. Because of the size of my pan, I did two batches. Each took slightly longer than it seemed it should, clocking in at about 6 minutes of browning time each. Add the sausage, onions and peppers back the pan and toss, toss, toss all together with the parsley, salt and cayenne pepper until well-warmed and incorporated.

In another pan, preferably a non-stick one, MAGICALLY IF AT THE SAME TIME, heat it up and fry up all 4 eggs, as you are wont to do.
Here are some great instructions for frying eggs.

Serve up the sweet potato hash in shallow bowls with a fried egg atop each bowl.
Sprinkle with coarse salt and serve with love.
(Like all breakfasts should be served.)

Why am I posting this recipe?
I’m posting this recipe because I support ONE Moms.

The sweet potato is serving as the mascot for their cause. Packed with nutrition and blessed with the ability to grow in many places, the sweet potato is literally saving lives. That’s a real, life literally. I only needed ONE sweet potato to feed 4 people. It’s chock full of vitamins. It’s a lifesaver.

You can sign the petition asking for our representatives to make a measurable commitment to reducing chronic malnutrition for 25 million children by 2016 at http://www.one.org/us/food/

Here’s a list to all the other ONE Sweet Potato Day participants.
Get your Convolvulaceae on.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burritos from This Week for Dinner
Truffle Sweet Potato Frites from Savory Sweet Life
Sweet Potato & Chicken Sausage Stew from Chefdruck
Honey Sweet Potato Biscuits from Food for My Family
Sweet Potato Burgers from Cutie Booty Cakes
What’s Gaby Cooking and Sweet Potato Day
The Mission List and Sweet Potato Day
World Moms Blog and Sweet Potato Day
Go Graham Go and Sweet Potato Day
Cranberry Sweet Potato Crumb Cake from Barbara Bakes
Bourbon and Marshmallow Sweet Potatoes from Boston Mamas
Documama and Sweet Potato Day
Sweet Potato Bread Pudding from Eat the Love
Lamb Shanks with Sweet Potatoes and Sausage from Kitchen Gadget Girl
Sweet Potato Love To Help End World Hunger from Love That Max
Celebrating Sweet Potato Day with Mom Trends
Sweet Potato Chili from Righteous Bacon
Cooking Sweet Potatoes for Picky Eaters from Rookie Moms
Sweet Potatoes and Global Health from Third Eye Mom
Indian Spiced Sweet Potato Kielbasa ONE Skillet Bake from Tickled Red
Oh My Sweet Potato Apple Bake from Bowl Licker
Sweet Potato and Peanut Gratin from Non-Reactive Pan
Sweet Potato Fries from When You Wake Up a Mother (also found on Million Moms Challenge)

5 December, 2012  |   7 Comments

Helen Jane’s Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore Recipe

James was on a business trip this week and I had a busy work-lady list.  This means dinner needed to be 1. A slow cooker recipe that 2. Children would eat. I added one more requirement 3. It must heat up well for leftovers for a late returning manfriendhusband.

Enter slow cooker chicken cacciatore.

This crock pot chicken cacciatore cooked all day while I worked.

This slow cooker chicken cacciatore uses lots of ingredients, but most of them were in my pantry and freezer already.

I sautéed mushrooms to serve on the side/stir into the sauce. I kept the mushrooms out of the slow cooker as I did not want to be arguing with toddlers over mushrooms in their dinner.

(I’m already pushing it with the parsley.)

Browning the chicken skin is a pain in the behind, but is key. The skin still becomes flabby and gross in the slow cooker, but the extra flavor the browning imparts to the chicken is worth it. The flour from the dredging also melts into the sauce and makes it even meltier. Meltier. I read that word in a book somewhere.

Dottie attacked it with her sturdy little arms.

Helen Jane’s Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore Recipe

1 chicken, cut up
(I used 4 on the bone chicken thighs and two large breasts, cut in half)
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1 red pepper
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine (I use Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc for all my white wine cooking needs. Also for drinking. Don’t tell anyone, but it’s a Napa Valley secret.)
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14.5 ounce can tomato sauce
(optional: 6 white mushrooms, stems trimmed and cut in quarters.)
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley for serving
Lots of Parmesan cheese for serving

Turn the slow cooker on either low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

Heat the olive oil in the saute pan.

Pale and dredgy.

While you’re waiting for the oil to heat up, mix the salt and cayenne pepper in with the flour in a large plastic baggie or a big bowl. Dredge the chicken in the flour.
Brown the chicken in the oil.

This browning part takes a hot minute (or 20 minutes) so you can prepare the rest of the sauce while the chicken browns.

Cut the red pepper and the onion into pieces bigger than a dice, smaller than a matchstick. A half matchstick? A large dice? I cooked them this way so the children could still remove the offending pieces from the sauce if they needed to, but that they’d still be small enough to incorporate.

Peppery and oniony.

Chop the garlic nearly to a mince.
Open the cans.
Open the wine.
Get out the oregano and the additional salt and the bay leaves and the red pepper flakes.

Remove the chicken from the oil in the pan. Carefully, carefully put the onion and red pepper into the hot oil. I don’t want you splattering yourself with hot oil because that’s exactly what I did and it hurt like hurt.

Stir the oil, onion, red pepper mixture until well-mixed.
Add oregano and bay leaf.
Frizzle the veggies in the saute pan for 5 minutes or until they are translucent and nearly a little brown.
Add garlic. Stir through for 30 seconds.

Now carefully add the wine, stir through for 2 minutes, or until the alcohol burns off (you’ll smell it as it rises to the angels).

Add the two cans of tomatoes to your pan and cook through for 5 minutes.

Now scrape the pan contents into the warm slow cooker.
Place the chicken on top of the sauce.

Walk away, son.
Walk away for either 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.

When you return, stir it up.
Scoop the sauce over those browned thighs and breasts. If you wanted to include the mushrooms, enter the mushrooms into the slow cooker now. (I don’t like to add mushrooms until the end of my slow cooker time because they can get a little slimy in a crockpot.)

When it’s all cooked through, remove the bay leaves and serve on a large, deep platter. I remove the skins from the chicken pieces as I can — as they’re pretty unpleasant to come across. I sprinkle it with chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese.

We served it with spaghetti, but I also love chicken cacciatore with buttered egg noodles.

While I was putting dinner on the table, the girls were doing this:
The girls were watching Busytown Mysteries. That is one of the most goddamn sexist television shows I've ever seen.

It almost made up for those arguments about the parsley. Grin.

Happy slow cooking!

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