BAYOU BLEND CASSEROLE – previously known as BLEND IN THE BAYOU and once known as SEAFOOD CASSEROLE EXTRAODINAIRE

I’m trying to clean up some old recipe posts. This was originally posted on March 24, 2010 and again on November 4, 2010. I then posted it for the Magazine Monday meme on March 24, 2011. I’m now changing it to a current date so I can update it. It was originally done tutorial style, but I was never happy with the pictures so am updating it a bit.

Magazine Mondays was hosted by Ivonne over at Cream Puffs in Venice.  She HAD a great blog with some great recipes, but has since deleted it I guess. I really intended to stick with this recipe as it was originally written, really I did! But, as I read it more closely I felt some changes coming on. You know that feeling you get when you realize hubby won’t like ingredient 5 or your son would hate ingredient x, etc… The more I messed with the recipe the further it got from what they intended.

So here is their recipe as written:

BLEND IN THE BAYOU
8 ounces cream cheese
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 pound cooked medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2 – 6 ounce cans crab meat, drained and flaked
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup cooked rice, prepared
4 1/2 ounce jar sliced mushrooms, drained
1 teaspoon garlic salt
3/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crushed butter-flavored crackers
  • In a small saucepan, cook and stir the cream cheese and 2 tablespoons butter over low heat until melted and smooth. Set aside.
  • In a large skillet, saute the onion, celery and green pepper in remaining butter until tender.
  • Stir in the shrimp, crab, soup, rice, mushrooms, garlic salt, pepper sauce, cayenne and cream cheese mixture.
  • Transfer to a greased 2 quart baking dish.
  • Combine crackers crumbs and cheese. Sprinkle over top.
  • Bake, uncovered 25 minutes or until bubbly.

and here is the new recipe as made and enjoyed and savored as the plates were licked clean!

SEAFOOD CASSEROLE EXTRAODINAIRE inspired by Taste of Home’s Blend in the Bayou
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large bunch green onions, chopped

4 large mushrooms, chopped2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green or red pepper, cleaned of ribs and seeds, diced

1 – 8 ounce package crab meat, chopped & flaked
2 – 6 ounce cans white albacore tuna, drained and flaked
1 can cream of celery soup
3/4 cup cooked rice, prepared
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 + teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
3/4 cup shredded cheddar/jack cheese
1/2 sleeve crushed butter-flavored crackers (I used Keebler herb and butter)
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • In a small saucepan, cook and stir the cream cheese, soup and 2 tablespoons butter over low heat until melted and smooth. Set aside.
  • In a large skillet, saute the onion, mushrooms and garlic in remaining 1 tablespoon butter until tender.
  • Stir in the tuna, crab, soup, rice, mushrooms, salt, pepper sauce, chili powder and cream cheese mixture.
  • Transfer to a greased 2 quart baking dish.
  • Sprinkle crackers over top.
  • Bake, uncovered 25 minutes or until bubbly.
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake 5 minutes more.

CHERRY CHEESECAKE BITES

These super simple and oh-so-scrumptious ‘cupcakes’ are quick and easy, but look and taste like they took you all day!! You can make the glaze as thick or thin as you like to change your look. I was trying for a new Easter recipe and I was looking for a new version of a hot cross bun 😀

Yields 24-26 cupcakes

CHERRY CHEESECAKE BITES adapted from REAL HOUSE MOMS

CRUST
1 1/2 cups ginger snap FINELY ground crumbs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon QUALITY ground cinnamon

  • Preheat oven to 325°.
  • Line two regular sized muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  • In a small bowl, mix together cookie crumbs, melted butter, sugar and cinnamon.
  • Pour 1 tablespoon of graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner.
  • Using a juice glass, press crumbs into an even packed layer.
  • Bake for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let rest while you make the filling.

FILLING
32 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 LARGE eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Beat cream cheese until fluffy.
  • Gradually add in sugar and mix until smooth.
  • Add eggs, one at a time.
  • Add vanilla and salt, mixing to combine.
  • Pour 3 1/2 tablespoons of the cheesecake filling into each cupcake liner.
  • Tap muffin tins on the counter to bring the bubbles up to the top and pop them with a toothpick.
  • Bake cheesecakes for 22 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.


TOPPING
8 ounces SMUCKERS tart cherry jam (or jam/preserves of choice)

1 cup powdered sugar
2-4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract

  • Place 2 teaspoons of jam on top of each cheesecake where a little dip forms.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla until smooth. Vanilla glaze will be a little on the thick side, but should still drizzle off a spoon. Add more heavy cream as needed to reach your desired consistency.
  • Drizzle over cheesecake tops.

  • Chill for 2 to 4 hours.
  • Remove from liners and enjoy!


SUN DRIED TOMATO PESTO SALAD

SUN DRIED TOMATO PESTO SALAD yield 8 servings

Simple ingredients make an elegant looking side dish for any picnic or BBQ. This is the perfect pasta salad for a quick bite or pick me up!

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 25 minutes

1 pound penne pasta (or large pasta shape of choice – cavatappi works well too), prepared al dente per package directions in salted water, drained WELL
1/2 cup basil pesto
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes drained and chopped
1/2 cup FRESH grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup micro greens of choice
1/4 cup diced red pepper
FRESH salt and pepper, to taste

  • Whisk together the pesto and vinegar.
  • Toss pasta with pesto mix.

  • Add sun-dried tomatoes tossing to combine well.
  • Fold in micro greens, diced red pepper and Parmesan cheese. 
  • 
Chill in fridge until ready to eat.


NOTE: This makes a full meal just by adding some chopped salami, pepperoni or rotisserie chicken pieces.

CHICKEN CAESAR PASTA SALAD

CHICKEN CAESAR PASTA SALAD

Prep Time 10 minutes Cook Time 20 minutes Total Time 30 minutes

1 pound penne pasta (or large pasta shape of choice – cavatappi works well too), prepared al dente per package directions in salted water, drained WELL
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 cup Caesar dressing (you choose)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 LARGE lemon, juiced
2 cups micro greens of choice
1 cup container grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 cup FINELY shredded QUALITY Parmesan cheese
2 cups chicken grilled, diced or shredded (I use rotisserie chicken breast pieces)

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil.
  • Add sea salt and pasta then stir to prevent sticking.
  • Return water to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and cook pasta according to directions on package until tender but still slightly firm.
  • Drain then immediately rinse under cold water to cool pasta and stop cooking.
  • Set aside to drain completely.
  • Using a very large bowl, add Caesar dressing, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder and lemon juice then stir to combine.
  • Add chopped Romaine, grape tomatoes, Parmesan, black pepper and well-drained pasta then stir until ingredients are well coated.
  • Add diced or shredded chicken then toss to distribute chicken evenly through salad.
  • Season to taste with salt and additional black pepper if desired.
  • Serve immediately or cover and chill until ready to serve.

 

HAPPY HOMEMAKER & MENU PLAN MONDAY week 3 of 2022

RECI

Doing Happy Homemaker Monday so extensively helps keep me on track as it summarizes the past week and lays out a fairly concise plan for this week.

Be sure to join us for Happy Homemaker Monday and link up
with our host, Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

This is always one of those dates that sticks with me! 28 years ago today, also on a Monday, my world turned upside down (along with thousands of others) when at 430AM the Northridge earthquake struck and we lost it all. Even after growing up in southern California and knowing about, as well as living through other major quakes, the memories of this one in particular are VERY vivid. I honestly thought a jet plane had crashed into the neighborhood from the violent way it all happened (I was literally thrown out of bed across the room and had bruises on the bottoms of my feet for a month), but I lived on a street near a DWP plant and what I thought I saw was actually the transformers on the pole tops all blowing one after another…

The earthquake occurred just after 4:30 am local time along a previously undocumented blind thrust fault in Northridge California, a suburb located about 20 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

The major shock lasted 10–20 seconds and its peak ground acceleration of 1.82 g was the highest ever instrumentally recorded in an urban area in North America and registered a magnitude of 6.7. It was caused by dip slip on a thrust fault—the overriding movement of one crustal block up and over a second crustal block.

This is what is left of the parking garage I would have been parked in later that day had it not been a federal holiday for Martin Luther King day.

The major shock lasted 10–20 seconds AND I am STILL after all these years flabbergasted by the things destroyed AND the things that survived that horrible day in just that short amount of time.

My car was totaled when the neighbors block wall toppled on top of it because there was no rebar supporting it, but my Princess House Brandy snifter bowl full of all the shells I’ve collected through life survived after it flew across the room and landed on top of a pillow under my roll top desk. The painter was coming that day to do the remodel on the kitchen so literally EVERYTHING kitchen related was on banquet tables throughout the house as we had just spent the weekend emptying EVERY single cabinet. We lost every last piece of our small appliances, glassware, dishes, crystal, china, food, etc… and yet life has moved on, things have been replaced and the memories remain.

This is the first piece of Princess House crystal I ever purchased and the ONLY piece I have left. Only God knows how it survived that day since NOTHING else did. In it are the shells that I have collected with my cousin Jenn throughout my life from the Galveston, Texas Gulf Coast. She and I neither one live there now, but do still have friends and family in the vicinity.

On another note today would have been Betty White’s 100th birthday – SEE MY GINGERBREAD POST to honor her later today.

This was one of my favorite magazine covers from her 98th birthday.

I’m keeping track of the words from the Compendium of UGLY English words calendar I was gifted for Christmas as a source of amusement. Some of these are roll on the floor laughing hilarious and others are just flat out gross! They do cheat a bit and only give us one word for the weekends. 😀 I’ll pick up where we left off last Monday.

  • January 10 – MILDEW (noun) A white fungus that forms on damp organic material like clothes or rugs. Commonly found in old apartment complexes under that light fixture that always leaks when it rains.
  • January 11 – NAUSEA (noun) Believe it or not, there’s a word for that queasy rumbling you get in your stomach as you stare into the dizzying abyss of your toilet following a night of heavy partying or cheap Thai food: nausea. If you’re feeling “nauseated” or “nauseous” and think that you situation can’t possibly get any worse, just know that you can.
  • January 12 – DOUCHE (noun) A strong jet of water applied to certain body cavities as a means of cleansing, or a device used for this purpose. You probably saw it in a French Airbnb once.
  • January 13 – PANTIES (noun) A woman’s undergarments and contender for worst word on this list next to moist purely for its consistent pairing with the word “used” as in “used panties” and as in “with no time to spare and no other option,
  • January 14 – QUAFF (noun) To drink with enthusiasm (or the act of doing so). Often results in throbbing hangovers and a lot of missed calls from some guy named :Hot Anthony”.
  • January 15-16 – SNOT (noun) A piece of mucus and/or a stuck-up person. Snot is the sound you hear when your nose is filled with snot and you attempt to breathe in. Try it.

We’re a bit on the dry side again, but still cold with highs in the low 50’s and night’s in the 30’s with foggy days so I am still enjoying hoodies and UGGs when I go out.

WOW, just such a big category lately. I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around people spouting hoax” regarding the pandemic. No matter where you stand on vaccinations, saying that there is nothing going on is just crazy. The cult like mentality it takes to believe that the WHOLE world is perpetrating a hoax just baffles me. I pray that some enlightenment takes root soon. We need to be over this pandemic as a lifestyle.

Hot water, a banana and peach yogurt

THIS WEEK’S TO DO LIST, PROJECTS & APPOINTMENTS
  • LAUNDRY & CLEANING I have a couple loads of laundry to do along with bathrooms and kitchen deep clean. The dishwasher mother board fried after the last power outage 🙁 After some research and the inability to get a plumber in a timely manner the $450 for a plumber and part on a 6 year old appliance just didn’t make sense so we replaced the dishwasher on Saturday which was another 14 step project LOL 😀 Since I had to empty beneath the sink it just made sense to do a deep clean that area and then the walls and floor behind and under the dishwasher…
  • RECIPE RESEARCH & MENU PLANNING The BIG downsize sort through the recipe tote is complete and BIG handful have been chosen as the next culprits for the winter. They have even been organized by category 😀
  • GROCERIES & ERRANDS Hubby’s surgical follow up and stitch removal is later this morning as well as another appointment. Besides groceries, I don’t have many errands this week.
  • PAPERWORK, PHONE CALLS & PROJECTS Now that the holidays are over, the decorations are all cleaned up and the house completely back in order I have some paperwork and calls to get to. Just after I posted my HHM last week Diana chose the painting for the Eagles fundraiser. It’s not really my style or even my favorite choice, but it is for a fundraiser 🙂 so paint I will.

WHAT’S ON THE DVR/TV
  • CABLE We’re finishing the Yellowstone marathon we recorded a couple weeks ago. We just finished season 3 and will watch season 4 this week. After episode 10 of season 3 and episode 1 of season 4 I needed a minute to process it all. BULL, New Amsterdam, The Resident, 911, Chicago series – Medical, Fire & P.D., Magnum PI, Blue Bloods, NCIS,  I also have a couple Hallmark movies to watch – The Wedding Veil #1 of a trilogy, Sweet Pecan Summer, North to Home and some cooking shows to catch up on – Kids Baking Championship, Guy’s Ranch Kitchen, Molly Yeh, Beat Bobby Flay, Alex VS. America, Guy’s Grocery Games…
  • AMAZON PRIME We’re waiting for Mrs. Maisel to begin again – they finally announced it would be February 18th, but they’re only going to release 2 episodes a week for 4 weeks. That is probably good for me though – otherwise I’d have to watch all 8 episodes in a single sitting.

Hidden in the Keys, Longboat Key Island by Sage Parker

Okay, I didn’t take this picture, but I thought it was quite funny that I needed to share it 😀

MONDAY
TUESDAY
WEDNESDAY
THURSDAY
FRIDAY
SATURDAY
SUNDAY
DINNER
CHICKEN MADEIRA
SEAFOOD EXTRAORDINAIRE CASSEROLE
FRITOS NACHOS
C.O.R.N. CLEAN OUT REFRIGERATOR NIGHT
PROSCIUTTO STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS
ENCHILADAS SUIZA
GERMAN APPLE PANCAKES
DESSERT
CHERRY CHEESECAKE BITES and DUFF’S ELVIS COOKIES

  • CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD PASTA SALAD
  • APPLE PANCAKES
  • BAYOU BLEND CASSEROLE
  • CHERRY CHEESECAKE BITES
  • BALSAMIC PINEAPPLE CHICKEN
  • SUN DRIED TOMATO PESTO SALAD

OLD FASHIONED GINGERBREAD

I remembered a target commercial from a few decades ago that featured Betty White making Gingerbread men so thought this was a good day for this recipe in honor of her would be 100th birthday. I even found a youtube of the old commercial.

I have been trying to recreate my grandmother’s gingerbread recipe for years. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have been written down anywhere and she is no longer with us so I cannot even try to coax it out of her 🙁

Her recipe was super moist, spicy with complex flavors. Each time I try a new recipe that sounds like it might come close I am sorely disappointed time after time. And then I ran across Jane’s recipe from The Heritage Cook. It didn’t sound right, but it sure looked right! So, I decided to give it a try and WHOA with a couple tweaks it’s so darn close that I’m calling it a day on my search.

It was the black pepper that didn’t sound right, but who am I to say that grams didn’t use black pepper? I know she didn’t use fresh ginger, but she may have compensated with a much larger amount of ground ginger.

This REALLY is NOT a timid gingerbread. It is EXTREMELY bold and FULL of bold flavor. This is really NOT like most gingerbread that you remember, but is spicy, bold and flavorful. The taste will linger on your tongue and that’s a good thing. This recipe is PERFECT for the holidays, but truly wonderful year round.

OLD FASHIONED GINGERBREAD – YIELDS 10-12 MUFFINS
ADAPTED slightly FROM JANE the HERITAGE COOK
1 cup unsalted butter
½ cup water
¾ cup mild unsulphured molasses (NOT Blackstrap)
¾ cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup  or QUALITY flavorful honey or Agave Nectar (see note)
1 cup PACKED dark brown sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 ½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoon QUALITY ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 LARGE eggs, at room temperature
½ cup WHOLE milk
2 packed tablespoons FRESH peeled and grated ginger

  • Combine the butter, water, molasses, honey and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat stirring frequently until the butter is melted and the ingredients are smoothly incorporated. Remove from the heat and pour into a large aluminum bowl as an aluminum bowl will cool much quicker than those made of other materials.
  • Set aside and cool to lukewarm. If you are in a hurry you can cool down the bowl by placing it in a cool water bath.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Lightly grease a muffin tin and set aside. Bundt and loaf pans also work well with this recipe.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice and cloves.
  • When the molasses mixture has cooled to lukewarm, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Add the milk and stir to combine.
  • With a wooden spoon fold in the dry ingredients gradually. Gingerbread is like brownies, you don’t want to over mix it.
  • Stir in the grated ginger.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when touched and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. If making a bundt or loaf pan bake time will be 1 – 1 1/4 hours. If the top is browning too quickly, tent with a piece of foil.
  • Cool for 10-20 minutes in the pan set on a wire rack, then invert onto the wire rack and cool completely.
  • Store in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. Bring to to room temperature before serving.
  • Serve with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream if desired. A dollop of whipped cream will temper the spiciness a lot.

TIPS & HINTS

  • Lyle’s Golden Syrup has a delicate butterscotch flavor and it allows the other flavors to shine through. It is a byproduct of refining sugar cane and you can use it in place of corn syrup, maple syrup, or honey. A company that follows fair trade practices and has a low carbon footprint, Lyles has created a product to be proud of.
  • There are several types of molasses available on the market and using one over another can drastically change the flavor of your baked goods. Unsulphured molasses is the highest quality, made from sun-ripened sugar cane and is from the first boiling in sugar processing while sulphured molasses is made from unripe sugar cane, treated with sulphur fumes, and is from the second boiling. It has a darker color and stronger flavor. The strongest form is called Blackstrap and is the most bitter. Whenever a recipe calls for a specific type of molasses, the balance will be off if you use a different kind.

On a side note Betty White was a fabulous dancer and while I believe she had a stunt double for parts of the season 3 dance scene that starts around the 5 minute mark in this clip, I do remember hearing that she still danced several hours a day well into her 60’s.

HERB & CHEESE POTATO GRATIN

HERB & CHEESE POTATO GRATIN adapted from TARA TEASPOON

Yukon Gold potatoes plus a couple sweet potatoes mixed with QUALITY FLAVORFUL  cheese, and lots of FRESH herbs come together to make a show stopping delicious side dish perfect for the holidays – any holiday, or Sunday family gathering meal!

SERVES 8-10      PREP TIME 20 mins     BAKE TIME 50-60 minutes

2 small sweet potatoes
8 small Yukon gold potatoes
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon FRESH dried parsley
1 teaspoon FRESH thyme
1/2 teaspoon FRESH ground sage
1 teaspoon FRESH chopped rosemary
8 ounces (2 cups grated) QUALITY Gruyère OR Fontina cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced Vidalia onion, chopped
1/2 cup whole milk or half-and-half
1/2 cup chicken broth

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Spray baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Peel potatoes.
  • Using a mandolin or vegetable slicer, cut potatoes into VERY thin slices.
  • In a large bowl, gently toss potatoes with salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary, cheese, and onion, until everything is evenly mixed. Be careful not to break the thin potato slices.
  • Working with a small handful of potatoes at a time, gently line up coated slices in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or 2-quart baking dish.
  • Whisk together the milk and broth. Pour over and around potatoes.
  • Cover pan with foil and seal around edges.
  • Bake 50 minutes.
  • Remove foil. Continue to bake 15-20 minutes more until potatoes are tender and golden. Test the potatoes with a thin knife to see if they are tender throughout.
  • Cool slightly, but serve hot.

END OF WEEK CHICKEN

Recently Sandra over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom mentioned she was cooking her Dad’s Favorite Chicken, a recipe handed down from her grandmother, great grandmother for dinner one night. You can find her recipe here. As I was reading her recipe I realized that everyone’s grandmother must have a similar recipe. My Gram’s recipe was used primarily at the end of the week to use up things from the veggie bin and such and she used dried herbs. I’ve freshened it up over the years with FRESH. Sandra’s recipe is made with Portuguese fries, but mine is made with either mashed potatoes, pasta or crusty fried potatoes.

END OF WEEK CHICKEN

2 LARGE skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into small bite size chunks
1/3 cup WONDRA flour , seasoned to taste

1 LARGE bunch green onions, THINLY sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 LARGE carrots, halved and sliced in half moons
1 tablespoon FRESH thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped FRESH Italian leaf Parsley

1/2 teaspoon smokey paprika
FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup homemade bone broth
1 tablespoon
avocado oil
1 tablespoon butter

  • Melt avocado oil and butter in saute pan.
  • Add carrots and saute 2-3 minutes.
  • Add onions and tomatoes, cooking 2-3 minutes more until onion is translucent. 
  • Add seasoned WONDRA flour to a paper bag or large ziploc bag. Add chicken pieces shaking to coat. Shake off any excess flour.
  • Arrange veggies around the edges and add in chicken pieces, thyme, paprika, minced garlic, salt and pepper, searing chicken pieces for a few minutes. The dredged chicken pieces will help with your gravy as they cook.
  • Add in bone broth, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Check frequently to make sure you still have cooking liquid – add broth as necessary to keep everything moist and have a good amount of gravy.
  • Serve over mashed potatoes, rice, noodles or fried potatoes.

CHRISTMAS OATMEAL COOKIES

This recipe is really versatile!  You can make it like plain old oatmeal cookies or you can roll it our and use cookie cutters at Christmas time, glaze them and decorate with sanding sugar!  Today’s picture is a “June” version.  I’ll try and get a picture next Christmas to add to this post.

CHRISTMAS OATMEAL COOKIES
1 cup butter, softened
1 LARGE egg
1 teaspoon QUALITY vanilla extract
2 1/4 quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup small chopped walnuts’
3/4 cup PACKED brown sugar
1/2 cup FINE sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and oats.
  • Beat together the butter, sugar and egg until fluffy.
  • Add vanilla.
  • Gradually add the sifted dry mixture into the egg mixture, blending well.
  • Add nuts and chocolate chips.
  • Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
  • Bake 10-11 minutes.
  • Cool.

ITALIAN BOLOGNESE STUFFED PEPPERS

ITALIAN BOLOGNESE STUFFED PEPPERS
2 EXTRA LARGE red or orange peppers, halved
1 pound ground beef
2 shallots, diced SMALL
2 cloves garlic, minced
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons Garden Gourmet Italian herbs
1 1/2 – 2 cups marinara sauce
2 cups prepared dilitani or small shell pasta
4 slices mozzarella cheese

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Coat baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Halve peppers tip to root. Clean out seeds and ribs.
  • Brown ground beef and onion together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain off grease returning meat to pan.
  • Add garlic, Italian herbs and marinara sauce, simmering 5-10 minutes.
  • Stuff pepper halves with meat mixture.
  • Layer remaining meat mixture into the baking dish.
  • Arrange peppers on top of meat mixture in baking dish.
  • Top each pepper with mozzarella cheese.
  • Coat one side of a piece of foil with non-stick cooking spray. Cover baking dish.
  • Bake 35-40 minutes until tender and hot. Remove foil during the last 10 minutes.

NOTE: This prepares well in advance of baking making it a great weeknight meal.

BRAISED LAMB SHANKS

BRAISED LAMB SHANKS inspired by and adapted from Darryl’s Corner Bar in Boston
Easy to prepare with a strong molasses flavor yet superbly sophisticated and unforgettably delicious, while the braising of the lamb shanks mellows out the complex flavors and will win you many praises at the dinner table!

4-6 large lamb shanks or shoulder
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 shallots, THINLY sliced
2 large carrots, FINELY diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup dry red wine
1 cup HOMEMADE or QUALITY beef broth

2 cups HOMEMADE or QUALITY chicken broth plus more as needed to keep lamb shanks immersed
1 LARGE sprig FRESH rosemary
6 sprigs FRESH thyme
3 FRESH bay leaves
1 tablespoon ground Porcini mushrooms** (OPTIONAL)
8 ounce can plain tomato sauce
1/3 cup QUALITY balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup molasses
2 tablespoons QUALITY tomato paste
1 packed heaping tablespoon brown sugar
FRESH ground sea salt and trim-color pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
zest of one LARGE orange, plus juice
1/4 cup chopped FRESH parsley
2 cloves garlic, FINELY minced

  • Tie the rosemary sprigs, thyme sprigs and bay leaves together with some twine OR place in a cheesecloth bag. The cheesecloth bag is my favorite way to make it easy to fish out at the end.
  • Preheat the oven to 325°.
  • Season lamb shanks with FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color pepper.
  • Heat the oil in a cast iron Dutch oven or heavy oven-proof pot. I like to use my enameled cast iron crock pot
  • Generously brown the lamb shanks on all sides and transfer to a plate. 
  • Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the oil.
  • Saute the onions, shallots, carrots, celery and garlic until softened, 6-8 minutes.
  • Stir in the ground Porcini mushrooms if using.
  • Add the red wine and orange juice, bring to a boil, and de-glaze pan, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom. Boil for 2 minutes.
  • Add the remaining ingredients except for the butter and stir to combine. Bring it to a boil.
  • Return meat to pan.
  • Cover with the lid and place the hot pot on the lowest rack in the preheated oven.
  • Bake for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until the meat is very tender, turning the lamb shanks over halfway through. 
  • Remove the cover during the last 30 minutes of cooking until the lamb shanks are nicely browned on top. 
  • Remove the herbs and bay leaves.
  • Skim from surface of cooking liquid.
  • Bring braising liquid to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
  • Return lamb to pan; cook for 2 minutes.


  • Transfer the lamb shanks to a plate tented with foil and place in the warm oven with the oven door open. 
  • Place the pot on the stove top.  If needed use a slotted spoon to remove any herb sprigs/leaves.
  • Bring the sauce to a boil and stir in 2 tablespoons of butter. 
  • Simmer until thickened. 
  • Season to taste.
  • Serve over mashed potatoes with some gravy spooned over top.



NOTE:

  • **STRONGLY recommended for the BEST flavor (use a spice/coffee grinder, blender, or pound to grind them in a ziplock bag)
  • Alternatively, to speed up the thickening time, you can dissolve 2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch in 1/4 cup of water and then stir the slurry into the gravy.  Bring it to a simmer and stir for a couple of minutes until thickened.



HAPPY HOMEMAKER & MENU PLAN MONDAY week 2 of 2022

Doing Happy Homemaker Monday so extensively helps keep me on track as it summarizes the past week and lays out a fairly concise plan for this week.

Be sure to join us for Happy Homemaker Monday and link up
with our host, Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

I finally got most of the Christmas decorations all stowed away this past weekend. It was cold, but dry and somewhat sunny for a couple hours each day so that helped a lot. I’m still waiting on delivery of one last tote for larger items. Taking the batteries out of items took some of the longest along with untangling some light strings.

We were also able to get a couple of walks in helping hubby not feels so house bound.

I’m keeping track of the words from the Compendium of UGLY English words calendar I was gifted for Christmas as a source of amusement. Some of these are roll on the floor laughing hilarious! They do cheat a bit and only give us one word for the weekends. 😀 I’ll pick up where we left off last Monday.

  • January 4CHUMP (noun) A lump of timber; the blunt end of an object; someone (usually a man) with an IQ lower than a piece of wood’s.
  • January 5 – DEBT (noun) What’s easy to get, hard to lose, and make a grown man cry? Answer: it’s debt. Massive debilitating debt.
  • January 6GASSY (adjective) Full of gas-not in an automobile sort of way, but in a my-boyfriend-ate-Mexican-ffod-and-has-been-farting-in-bed-all-night sort of way. Some sources theorize that wars could be fought more effectively through the use of butt gas over tear gas, though this has not tested.
  • January 7 – JAUNDICE (noun) That thing that happens in medical drama where the patient looks in the mirror to find that their face has turned a troubling shade of yellow overnight. It occurs when waste material builds up in the body, and it’s just as gross as it sounds.
  • January 8/9 – KITSCHY (adjective) In poor taste due to excessive garishness or tackiness. What you might call the section of your grandmother’s living room that’s blanketed in collectible windmill statues.

I’m still loving the colder weather with highs in the 40’s and lows in the 30’s allowing me to enjoy my mock turtleneck and flannel shirt combos with comfy Levis and UGGs.

I’m relieved that hubby’s surgery is over and he’s finally feeling more like himself. He has another week until his follow up appointment where we find out the next step with physical therapy. I’m also relieved that my stepson and his wife finally turned the corner this past weekend from their COVID breakthrough infections and are also on the mend finally. It’s been really hard to be so far away and not able to help at least drop off prescriptions or food. They will have to wait 3 months now before getting their boosters. I pray that everyone stays safe and continues to protect themselves from this horrible pandemic.

Hot water and a banana

THIS WEEK’S TO DO LIST, PROJECTS & APPOINTMENTS
    • LAUNDRY & CLEANING I spent a good deal of last week mainly tending to hubby while he recuperated and didn’t get nearly as much done as planned. I did get the Christmas tree down, the decorations sorted and stored and will now do a deep clean this week. AND Why is it that doing one thing leads to 13 or 14 others? This all started when the fluorescent light fixture died and we installed a new, much brighter one making it all quite obvious. The shelf in the laundry room that WAS level before we did the new floor last year was no longer level after we did the new floor. Of course we leveled the floor so obviously the original flooring was the culprit, but now we needed to redo the shelf. In order to do that we had to disconnect the washer and dryer and move them out of the way. After doing that we realized that we needed to seal the floor and baseboard with silicone to eliminate the “winter” ants – you know the little black ones that come in search of warmth, but don’t get into food. With that done the quick half paint job done last year before the new washer was put in made the rest of the room look shabby now that it is so well lit so I had to paint the whole room. While doing that we realized that the cabinet door above the washer needed adjusting…etc…
    • GROCERIES & ERRANDS I did the grocery shopping last Friday when I was in town and errands are up to date so no plans to go very far.
    • RECIPE RESEARCH & MENU PLANNING I started the BIG sort each evening to eliminate the recipes from the tote that I will NEVER make, at least based on my likes and dislikes today! I’m even making an effort to downsize recipes and use ingredients back to back to cut down on waste.
    • PROJECTS, PAPERWORK, & PHONE CALLS I’m considering a couple of new paintings. The gnome is one my girlfriend sent me a picture of – even though LOL 😀 we said we would do NO more gnomes. She’s our Eagles Auxiliary president and is going to have one more fundraiser before her term is up. It will be a painting class at the post, but she hasn’t yet chosen the painting. I’m hoping for something floral and springy. And I just fell in love with this little giraffe. I MUST paint him. 😀

WHAT’S ON THE DVR/TV
CABLE 1883, YELLOWSTONE, KID’S BAKING CHAMPIONSHIP, ALEX VS. AMERICA, GUY’S GROCERY GAMES, BEAT BOBBY FLAY, NEXT LEVEL CHEF, Judge Steve Harvey is so funny

I did make a reading list for the month and tried to make it a bit diverse. At the rate I’m going so far this will also be the list for February.

  • Return to Sender by Jennifer Peel If Ariana Stanton has learned anything in life, it’s that men leave. She’s been taught this lesson well from the father she’s never met, who sends her a mysterious letter once a year, to her ex-fiancé, who left her for another woman.
    Dr. Jonah Adkinson has one regret–that he let Ariana remain convinced that love never lasts.
    Now, not only does Ariana have to face the man she’s still in love with, but she must confront the mystery of her father’s letters, forcing her to reevaluate the past and her choices.
  • The Cottage at Hope Cove by Hannah Ellis Lizzie Beaumont has it all: a great career, a wealthy fiancé, and the wedding of her dreams just months away. But when her fiancé puts work before her again, she sets off for a week in the picturesque town of Hope Cove. She’s hoping for time away from the chaos to find herself.Instead, she finds Max. One week with Max has left her questioning her life choices. Is her fiancé the man of her dreams, or just the man who asked? Now Lizzie must decide what her life will be. Will she go for the safe and predictable route, or take a chance on a man she hardly knows?
  • The Cape May Garden by Claudia Vance Margaret Wilder’s life is about to be turned upside down…when her husband of fifteen years abruptly leaves without explanation.Now as their young daughters struggle to understand why their dad has been gone for a month without so much as a phone call, Margaret begins to uncover her husband’s secrets while unraveling her own long-buried feelings about their marriage.As she forms an unlikely friendship with her handsome coworker, Dave, things take a turn when she is offered a great opportunity to build the garden of her dreams on a piece of land by the beach.
  • The Secrets We Left Behind by Soraya Lane Occupied France, 1940. When the staff at a field hospital draw straws to find out who will join the evacuation from Dunkirk, Nurse Cate is left behind. But when the Nazis arrive to claim prisoners of war, she takes her chance and flees into the night, taking one patient with her.Fifty miles away, the surrendering soldiers of the Royal Norfolk Regiment are shot dead by the advancing Germans. Beneath the pile of bodies two men survive, crawling to the safety of a nearby farmhouse, where sisters Elise and Adelaide risk their lives to take them in. When Cate, too, arrives at their door with her injured soldier, the pressure mounts.The sisters are risking everything to keep their visitors safe. But with the Nazis coming ever closer and relationships in the farmhouse intensifying, they must all question the sacrifices they are willing to make for the lives of others. How far will they go for family, friendship, and love?
  • Fanny Bower Puts Herself Out There by Julia Ariss Fanny Bower is not a joiner. She leads a quiet existence – keeping to the sidelines, avoiding high jinks, living in her head and waiting for something momentous to happen… whatever that is. Her new “butterfly wings” are tested as they flutter incessantly between mystifying small talk and mortifying gaffes in a bid to unleash a charm offensive… whatever that means. At the very height of her confusion, she is spurred to action by the plight of a friend. She plunges headlong into a situation fraught with uncertainty and risks everything, including the alienation of the one person she’s managed to captivate in the process.
  • Hidden in the Keys, Longboat Key Island by Sage Parker Julia Masterson has high hopes for a new beginning. Her husband, Frank had promised to dedicate the rest of his life making their marriage work. Both newly retired, in their little beach cottage in Longboat Key, Florida, everything started out just as she imagined. Until he didn’t come home that night. Or the next. What began as romantic walks on the beach had quickly become a desperate search to find her missing husband. When local detective Brody Barker steps onto the scene, he’s determined to solve the case quickly and move on. But every lead is a dead-end. The closer Julia gets to finding out the truth, the further away she gets from wanting to know the answers. And just as the faith in her marriage starts to crumble, Brody realizes he is the only thing standing in the way of her and disaster.

Just 3 months ago this sign right next to the road was HIGH & DRY on a stake about 18 inches tall. You can see where it is now. Fortunately, the water floods over the driveway to the left and into a drainage ditch, that while full, is functioning for runoff. I thought it was a poignant picture of how quickly things can change with a month of rain followed by a foot of snow that melted when followed by another 5 inches of rain.

Hangers make a GREAT recipe stand holder.

MONDAY
TUESDAY
WEDNESDAY
THURSDAY
FRIDAY
SATURDAY
SUNDAY
DINNER
ROAST PORK and using the leftovers for this week’s menu
PORK ENCHILADAS
PORK STREET TACOS & CHIPOTLE RE-FRIED BEANS
C.O.R.N. CLEAN OUT REFRIGERATOR NIGHT
SHREDDED PORK GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES AND TOMATO SOUP
PORK STUFFED PEPPERS
PORK SLIDERS & COLE SLAW
DESSERT
COCOA OATIES

  • BRAISED LAMB SHANKS
  • APPLE PANCAKE
  • ITALIAN BOLOGNESE STUFFED PEPPERS