Monday, January 9, 2012

Brunswick Stew

During the Christmas/New Year holiday, I was visiting with my oldest son, Caleb. While driving in North Carolina, we passed a Smithfield Restaurant and he told me they had the best Brunswick Stew. Flash back to the mid 80's (LAWD!!). I recall my first encounter with Brunswick Stew, prepared by my then mother-in-law, Bonzie. She was an amazing cook and introduced me to all sorts of new food experiences. I believe my love for cooking might have stemmed from fond memories around her table.

There seems to be some debate over where the stew originated. The honor is claimed by both Brunswick, GA and Brunswick County, VA. Some claim the stew is of German origin. But the dish is popular throughout the American South including the Carolinas where it is often referred to as hash and served over rice. The stew was created using wild game; rabbit, squirrel and venison were some popular options. Modern Brunswick Stew is generally pork or chicken based.

So here is my first attempt at preparing the stew. I froze half of the batch of stew for a meal later on. I opted to use a slow cooker and pork as my protein because I had it on hand. I also purposefully used simple, basic elements (no seasonings)in order to tweak the recipe. Of note, I used a sweet Barbecue Sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's). However, when I make it again I would opt for a Barbecue Sauce that is less sweet, it made the stew a little too sweet for my taste. I would also add garlic powder and a touch of cumin for the smoky flavor. Otherwise, I enjoyed the stew and will be making it for Caleb and his family on my next visit to North Carolina! Enjoy!

Easy Slow Cooked Brunswick Stew
Cook Time: 8 to 10 hours on low setting

1 1/2 lbs Boneless Pork Shoulder, trimmed and cut into 4 pieces
3 medium sized red potatoes, cubed (I left skin on)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (15 oz) can chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups frozen baby lima beans
1 1/2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce (don't use one that is too sweet)
Combine pork and remaining ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 to 10 hours. Remove pork and shred with two forks; return to slow cooker.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chunky Potato Soup

Potato soup is an easy go-to recipe for cold winter nights, or a lazy Sunday lounging in your PJs. It is also convenient when I have forgotten to thaw out some meat for dinner, because I usually have the ingredients on hand in the kitchen. This recipe calls for bacon, but recently I have been making it without bacon and the results are just as delicious. I substitute a 1/2 stick of butter for the bacon and then the soup can be suitable for vegetarians as well. Also, if you want to "fancy it up", feel free to add whatever toppings you like, such as cheese, green onion, crispy bacon, etc. I like it "Plain Jane". I can't believe I just said that I like anything "Plain Jane", y'all know I'm all about "fancy-ing things up". But the flavors in this simple dish are rich and delicious on their own. Enjoy!!

Chunky Potato Soup
Makes 6 (1-cup) Servings
6 slices of bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 (13&3/4 oz) can chicken broth
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, cubed
1 cup milk
4 cups peeled potatoes, cubed
Cook bacon in 5-quart pot on medium heat until crisp, stirring frequently. Drain bacon, reserving 2 T drippings in pot. Set bacon aside. Add onion to drippings in pot; cook and stir for approximately 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in broth, milk and cream cheese; stir on LOW heat until cream cheese is melted. Add potatoes, cook on medium low heat 20 to 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Spaghetti Casserole

While visiting my sister-in-law, Jenny Detwiler, for the Thanksgiving holiday, she mentioned this dish and I knew I had to try it. Mostly because Little Chief is CRAZY for spaghetti. It is his all-time favorite dish and he never, ever, tires of it. Unfortunately, I do. I like adventurous cooking, challenging my palette and trying dishes with a gourmet flair. He likes noodles and sauce. Really? Every single time I have asked him what he would like for dinner he has said spaghetti, even if we just had it last night! So I saw this recipe as an opportunity to incorporate both his love of spaghetti and my hankering for something new and exciting.

Little Chief was at first not pleased to see his beloved spaghetti in a casserole dish. That got him suspicious right off the bat! He said "Moooooooom", I noted a little panic in his voice, "what is wrong with this spaghetti?" I used my ninja mom skills and remained zen, nonchalant, preoccupied with cleaning up the kitchen. I replied that this was a new spaghetti recipe, spaghetti casserole. He said "the word casserole makes me shudder". (How did this kid get so dramatic?) But all's well that ends well. After much protesting, complaining and whining he finally took a bite and actually liked it. The hubby and I really liked it.

This makes a 9x13 pan, but my sis-in-law said she often makes it for friends that have just had babies and makes two 8x8's, one for her family and one for giving away. I really like that idea. Or you could eat one and freeze the other depending on the size of your family. I took her basic recipe and added a few different elements and this is what I came up with.

8 ounces spaghetti
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese (cut in cubes)
1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained (seasoned to taste with dry oregano, dry basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper)
30 ounce jarred spaghetti sauce (I used Prego Garden Chunky)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
Cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions and drain, but do not rinse.
Return spaghetti to warm pot and add cream cheese.
Blend cream cheese until melted with spaghetti, then add sour cream and Parmesan cheese and blend until incorporated.
Put spaghetti mixture into greased pan (or pans)
Layer half of the mozzarella, then seasoned beef, then a little more mozzarella
Spread spaghetti sauce across and top with remaining mozzarella.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes.
Let stand for 5 or 10 minutes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chili for a Crowd

This past weekend we hosted a surprise birthday party for my son's sweet girlfriend, Silvia. She turned 23 and is an active duty member of the United States Marines. She is a 4'11" martial arts "weapon of mass destruction". We are so proud of her!
Ain't she a cutie!

We had about 25 guests and I prepared a huge pot of chili and had a toppings bar with all kinds of goodies so each person could fancy it up to their own liking. It was easy to prepare ahead of time, which allowed me to participate in all the goings on instead of being stuck tending food in the kitchen. So here's the recipe:

2 lbs lean ground beef, turkey or chicken
1 large onion, chopped
1 each red, green and yellow peppers, chopped
2 T garlic, minced
2 large jars taco sauce, mild, medium or hot (to taste)
1 jar salsa
1 - 15 oz jar diced tomatoes, juice included
4 - 15 oz cans of beans (any combination you like black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, navy beans, garbonzo beans; drain and rinse well)
2 packages low sodium taco seasoning
2 T Apple Cider Vinegar
Optional Toppings:
Shredded Cheese
Sour Cream
Corn Chips
Brown ground meat with onions until well cooked and crumbled. Add 2 packages of taco seasonings and mix well. Add chopped peppers, garlic, taco sauce, salsa, tomatoes, beans and apple cider vinegar. Mix and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low temp and simmer to allow flavors to develop, at least one hour (the longer the better). Stir to prevent sticking. Serve in a bowl with toppings of your choice).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cheater Chicken and Dumplings

One of my sweet baby boy's, Caleb, came home this weekend with his girlfriend Silvia and my precious new granddaughter, Natalie Jade. Caleb requested that I make Chicken and Dumplings because Silvia, who is originally from Mexico, had never had this delightful Southern staple. Well, I admit that getting my hands on that 3 month old angel baby was what was really on my mind, much more than slaving over a hot stove. So I used this cheater recipe and let me tell you my family was none the wiser. It tasted GOOD, Honey!!

1 whole Store-bought Deli Rotisserie Chicken
3 stalks Celery, Split Lengthwise And Sliced About 1/2" Thick
½ whole Medium Onion, Diced
2 teaspoons Seasoned Salt (I Use Lawry's)
1 teaspoon Garlic Salt
1 carton (26 Oz) Chicken Stock (not Broth)
2 cups Water
1 can (26 Oz) Cream Of Chicken Soup (I Use Campbell's)
1 can Ready-to-bake "flaky" Biscuits
¼ teaspoons Dry Poultry Seasoning
1 cup Frozen Carrots (optional)

Preparation InstructionsRemove the skin from the chicken and pick all of the meat off. Cut/tear the meat into bite-sized pieces, and set aside.

Heat a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the celery, onions, and both salts.

Saute the onion and celery for about three minutes, stirring often. You don’t need any oil. Don’t worry if it starts to brown and stick a little. The next step will take care of that.

Add the stock, water and soup to the pot, reduce the heat and let it come to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You might need to whisk it a little to get the soup to fully incorporate.

While the liquid is simmering, flour both sides of five of the canned biscuits. Using a rolling pin, roll each biscuit out to about 1/8″ thick. Cut the biscuits into 1″ wide strips and cut the long ones in half lengthwise. You now have dumplings, so set them aside.

(Note: The flour is key, as it will help thicken the liquid.)

Add the chicken, poultry seasoning and carrots (if desired) to the pot and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring the liquid just to a boil (it must be boiling).

Drop the dumplings into the boiling liquid and stir just enough to ensure they are all as submerged as you can get them. Stir gently so that you don’t break up the dumplings.

Let the pot boil gently uncovered for about 10 minutes, softly stirring/folding occasionally.

Remove from the heat, pour into a serving dish and let stand about 10 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Saw this recipe on Pinterest and tried it last night and it was so good. It was easy for a quick weeknight supper and something different when you are trying to figure out what to do with chicken breasts. It is also a healthier version because there is not all the breading and frying of the chicken. Added a green salad to the side and that is all we needed.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

2 T Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Hot red pepper flakes, to taste
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups prepared marinara sauce (I used Prego garden chunky)
1/4 cup fresh basil chopped (I used dried oregano and basil, did not have fresh)
8 oz mozarella cheese, shredded
4 oz parmesan cheese, grated
1 5 oz pkg garlic croutons

Pour olive oil in bottom of 9 x 13 baking dish. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and sperad evenly over bottom of dish. Add chicken breasts. Cover with marinara sauce. Sprinkle with Basil. Layer 4 oz of mozarella and 2 oz of parmesan cheeses over sauce. Spread croutons over cheese layer. Layer remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shepherd's Pie Recipe

I did not grow up eating Shepherd's Pie, in fact I don't think I even knew about the dish until I was married with children. Now it is a fall go-to dish for me especially if I have leftover mashed potatoes. It is a comforting all-in-one dish that my whole family enjoys. Little Chief does not like green peas which is a traditional ingredient for Shepherd's Pie, so I use green beans instead.

Shepherd's Pie
Serves 4
For Meat Mixture:

1 pound lean ground beef
1 T butter
1 onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup beef stock
1 can Green Beans, drained
Salt and Pepper, to taste
For Potatoes:
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 T butter
1/4 cup milk
1 T mayo
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

In a large skillet, melt 1 T butter over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and saute approx 5 minutes. Add lean ground beef and garlic and cook until browned. Add Worcestershire Sauce, beef stock, green beans and salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low while preparing potaotes.

Boil potatoes until tender, drain. Put 4 T butter in bottom of pot used for boiling potatoes, return potatoes to the pot. Add mayo, milk. Mix with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy.

Layer meat mixture evenly into a baking dish. Spread mashed potoates evenly over meat mixture. Top with shredded cheese. Bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes.