Monday, December 19, 2011

Entering The Holiday Home Stretch...Sharing Some Simple Recipes

At the moment I feel like a race horse being led to the starting gate.  Any second now, I'll be off, dashing and trotting toward the end goal which in this case happens to be Christmas Day.  I have gifts to wrap, cookies to bake, cakes to make, menus to plan, entertaining to do, places to go, people to see, and much more. 

I make all kinds of cookies and breads, some simple, others requiring more thoughtful care but I'm going to share one of the easiest.  In our family we call these tasty little no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies "Cousin Helen's Cookies" because my late grandmother's cousin Helen first gave her this recipe years ago and it fast became a favorite.

Cousin Helen's Cookies

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter

Combine sugar, cocoa, butter and milk in a saucepan. On medium heat, bring to a boil for one full minute. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter (optional), vanilla and oatmeal.
Drop by spoonful onto wax paper. Let cool for at least 30 minutes.

This one takes a little more time but the end result is worth's just Summer Sausage.  My mom used to make it with beef or beef and pork - my mother in law has made it with venison.  I've never tried it but I don't see why it wouldn't work with ground turkey or chicken for a lighter version:

Summer Sausage

2 pounds ground venison or lean ground beef (ground round is good)
1 cup cold water
2 tablespoons Tender Quick (this product is found in the seasoning aisle at the supermarket and will last you a long, long time)
1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 Jalapeno peppers chopped very fine (leave out if you don't care for the spicy flavor)
Combine all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and blend very, very well. Shape meat mixture into three thin, long loaves - something like an ear of corn. Wrap each loaf with foil and wrap very tight. Refrigerate these for at least twenty-four hours so that the meat can "season".
After twenty-four hours or more, line the loaves on a wire or broiler rack with drip pan. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Poke small holes (using a fork) in each loaf and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and unwrap loaves (with care - they will be HOT) then bake uncovered on the same pan for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Cool and refrigerate. Serve sliced thin on crackers, toast, with cheese, etc.
You can also double the recipe to make more and once the sausages have cooled, they can be frozen to use later.

Now this one is basically a fix and forget - throw it together, follow the instructions and you'll have something tasty to wow the guests or just feed the family...

Chicken and Gravy
Chicken and Gravy
3 to 3 1/2 pound frying chicken, cut up into pieces (Or, what I often do because my family likes meaty thighs is to use just chicken thighs or legs and thighs)
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
2/3 cup milk
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup shredded cheese (American, Swiss, even Mozzarella)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper (more or less to taste)
2 white onions, peeled and chopped
8 ounce container whole fresh mushrooms, sliced
Coat chicken pieces with flour and place in a 13 x 9 pan (sprayed with pan spray), skin side down in the melted butter. Bake uncovered in a preheated 425 degree oven for 30 minutes, turn chicken and bake another 15-20 minutes until chicken is brown.
Remove from oven and lower temperature to 325.
Pour away excess drippings and fat (or do what I do and use another 13x9 pan). Place chicken with skin side up in the pan.
Mix milk, soup, cheese, salt, and pepper. Add onions and mushrooms to this mixture. Pour over the chicken pieces. Sprinkle top with paprika.
Cover pan with foil and bake in the oven for 20 to 30 more minutes.
This serves six to eight people. Serve with a mound of fluffy mashed potatoes and buttermilk biscuits. The gravy is made and the chicken is tender as well as crisp.

One more - an ethnic family favorite

Placek Swiateczny (Polish Christmas Bread)

5 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups icing sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup walnuts or pecans; chopped fine
2/3 cup raisins
4 oz orange peel; chopped fine
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 tbsp grated lemon peel
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp vodka or brandy

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat eggs with sugar using an electric mixer for 5 minutes at high speed.

Mix chopped nuts, raisins, and orange peel with 2 tablespoons of flour.

Mix remaining flour with baking powder and salt.

Cream together the butter, lemon peel, and vanilla extract until fluffy. Beat in vodka, then add egg mixture gradually, beating constantly. Add the flour mixture and beat for 5 minutes. Fold fruit-nut mixture into the batter.

Turn into a greased and floured 9 x 5 x 3-inch pan or a 1-1/2 quart ring mold.

Bake at 350 F. for 1 hour

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful recipes! Thank you. I think I will try them all this holiday season.
    Barbara Phinney
    Souvenirs - romance, danger, love.


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