You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘recipe’ tag.

Pouring batter into baking panCooking should be fun, and there is little more rewarding and fulfilling than sharing the kitchen with a grandchild who likes to learn. We have a young grandson who loves to be in the kitchen when we are preparing anything from soups and salads to desserts. He is one of those children who snacks continuously, and enjoys trying most new food items to which we introduce him. He uses one of those 2-step ladders to reach the counter top, and even likes to prep and sanitize the work area, under close supervision, of course. In this photo he is pouring the cake batter to make a pineapple upside down cake.

Recently, during a visit, out of the blue, he stated that we should make a pie. A few months ago he and I made a raisin pie with a lattice top, and he enjoyed learning to cut and place the lattice on top. Checking what we had on hand to make a quick pie, I found a deep-dish graham cracker crust in the freezer, and in the pantry were a can of apple pie filling and another of lemon pie filling, along with a box of Crumble Crisp Topping. A perfect project for the little guy! Here’s how we put it together.

Steps in Sour Apple and Graham Cracker CrispIngredients:
1 Deep dish Graham Pie Crust (two layer)
1 can (21 oz) apple pie filling
1 can (15.5 oz) lemon pie filling
1 box (10 oz) Crumble Crisp Topping Mix
2 Tbsp butter, melted (or amount specified by the topping mix)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 F
2. Place the room temperature graham pie crust on a cookie sheet
3. Place in preheated oven for 5 minutes, then cool before filling
4. Add the apple pie filling, spreading evenly over the crust
5. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the layer
6. Add the lemon pie filling, spreading evenly over the bottom layer
7. Prepare the Topping according to instructions on the box
8. Spread the crumb topping evenly over the pie, spreading to the edge
9. Place in oven, on the cookie sheet, and bake 25 minutes.
10. Spoon into bowls while still warm, and, if desired, top with a scoop of ice cream.

This quick and easy dessert was a hit with the family! The contrasting sweetness of the apple and lemon pie fillings, combined with the Crumb Topping made for a festival of flavors going on with every bite. It was fun to make, and fun to eat! And, if you have little ones that like to help, this goes together quickly, keeping their interest, and the short cooking time gives them almost instant rewards. Enjoy!

Advertisements

Do you struggle with guessing how well done your steak is? Do you make a calculated guess based on thickness of the steak, heat of the fire, and a length of time to the desired doneness? Sometimes that works, but often it fails dismally. So, is there a better way? How do steak houses seemly get it right every time? Have you noticed that they don’t poke them with meat thermometers? Any time you poke a hot steak you let all those delicious juices run out into the plate where they are wasted. Professional chefs can tell when a steak is done just by feeling it, and you can learn how to do the touch test too.

Chefs have developed four primary “touch” methods, including the “Face Test,” where the firmness of the steak is compared to various areas of the face. But, we don’t like the idea of our cooks touching their face while they’re cooking food, so we are going to discuss three other methods that use hands, which are more likely to be clean every time. Each of these methods takes a bit of practice, which is a great reason to cook (and eat) more steak.

Spring Back Touch Method

  1. Lightly press the center of the steak with your thumb. If it feels really soft, or jelly-like, it is still rare.
  2. When the center of a steak has a little more resistance and just springs right back, its perfectly medium rare. (It’s important that it springs back!).
  3. If it’s just firm and hard, and has no springiness, it’s well done (overcooked, in our humble opinion).

Fist Touch Method

  1. First, make a relaxed fist. The fleshy area of your hand between your thumb and forefinger is soft, which is how a rare steak feels.
  2. Now, slightly clench your fist. It will feel a little firmer, like medium doneness.
  3. The last step: Clench your fist tightly, and that area will feel like well-done meat.

Palm of the Hand Method
Palm tests for steak doneness
We like this one best: Here’s how to do the Palm method:

  1. Hold your hand out, palm up, and relaxed. Poke your hand by the base of the thumb with your other index finger. This is what raw meat feels like.
  2. Now, make an OK sign with your hand by touching your forefinger and thumb together. Feel the same part of your hand. It’s a little firmer. This is how meat feels when it’s rare.
  3. Move your other fingers to your thumb in the following order. As you do, you’ll notice the pad of your hand will get progressively firmer:
  4. Touch your middle finger to the tip of your thumb. That’s how a medium rare steak feels.
  5. Next, touch the tip of your ring finger to your thumb. This is what a medium-well will feel like.
  6. Lastly, touch your pinkie to your thumb. That’s the equivalent of a well-done steak.

Both these methods are fairly easy, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll cook perfect steaks every time.

Sound sound too complicated? It really isn’t, but we realize that the touch method can appear to be, until you get some practice in. In the meantime, if you would rather continue using an instant read thermometer, here are the temperatures for doneness:

  • Extra Rare – 115-120 degrees
  • Rare – 125-130 degrees
  • Medium Rare – 135-140 degrees
  • Medium 145-150 degrees
  • Medium-Well – 155-160 degrees
  • Well Done – 165 degrees

What happens if the steak has a gorgeous crust, but the temperature clocks in too low? It’s time for pan roasting! Fire up the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees F. Meanwhile, put your steak on a roasting rack on a baking sheet with sides. Stick it in the oven. It’ll finish cooking without getting too dark.

For other insights into proper techniques for cooking that delicious piece of steak, see our notes on 7 Tips to Cooking Great Steaks.

Google recently released their “Google’s Year in Search 2016.” One category included was a listing of the top-searched food recipes for the year. We took a look in our own collection to gather our recipes for these delicious, and sometimes, just fun, items to create our own list of favorites in 2016.

1. Green Bean Casserole
Green Bean CasseroleThis classic casserole might be the star of your holiday table, but it isn’t just for holidays and pitch-in dinners any more. In 2016 home cooks were bringing this side dish to their table throughout the year, and we commonly see at least a couple of versions of this dish on pitch-in dinner tables. We are always delighted to try other’s approach to this staple. Here is our recipe for a Green Bean Casserole, with Mushrooms, Bacon, Onions and two optional Cheeses.

2. Brussels Sprouts
Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts with Cipollini OnionsThe Brussels sprout continues to be super popular this year; it’s the only green vegetable that got its own Google search spot in the top 10. Here is our recipe for Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts, and, you might also like our Browned Brussels Sprouts with Cipollini Onions.

3. Hashbrown Casserole
Hash Brown CasseroleCasseroles continue to dominate the top 10 list, and for good reason; they can be prepared ahead of time, chilled, warmed, and served later, making them very versatile and reliable. One of the most popular recipes searched is the ever-popular hashbrown casserole. This has been a Christmas Breakfast staple at our house for many years, and I prepared it a number of times for Men’s Breakfast at church. Get the recipe here.

4. Guacamole
GuacamoleAnother simple-to-make delicacy made it to the top of the charts this year. It’s guacamole made from wonderful Haas avocados. Avocados are full of monounsaturated fat and nutrients, especially potassium, B vitamins, 11 different carotenoids, and vitamin E. It makes a great dip with tortilla or corn chips, excels when planted by the spoonful on top of entrees, sides, salads, and even when served sliced in soups and tacos. The process is quick and easy, and produces a luscious, silky smooth dip with a hint of lime. You’ll find our recipe here.

5. Chicken Marsala
Chicken Tenderloin MarsalaThis is a delicious, classic chicken dish that used to be taught in junior high school cooking classes. Our Italian-American version calls for breaded chicken breasts that are braised with Marsala wine, mushrooms and onion. Paprika provides a smokiness to offset the sweetness of the wine. Quick and easy to assemble, this dish is ideal for a simple weeknight dinner, and is elegant enough to gain status as a longtime favorite for entertaining company. You can find our recipe here.

6. Chicken Tetrazzini
Chicken TetrazziniIf you’re not familiar with Chicken Tetrazzini, this essentially is a bowl of luscious pasta loaded with lots of chicken and mushrooms. This is one of Lea’s favorite dishes, to make, and to eat. If you have time to make your own delicious egg noodles, you can take this dish to a whole new level. Get the recipe right here.

7. Snow Cream
Homemade Ice CreamSnow cream can be one of two distinct desserts; a cream-based dessert with one or more flavoring agents added, or, a dessert in which snow is mixed with a sweetened dairy-based liquid to make an ice cream substitute. We rarely see snow here in Central Texas, so we tend to go with the cream-based version. Get the recipe here. Our recipe is located here.

8. Buttercream Frosting
Buttercream frosting on mini-muffinsIt’s great that there are enough cooks out there that want to learn to make their own buttercream frosting, rather than giving in to the ease of buying it at the store. It’s completely simple to make, and totally essential for baking when you want that extra measure of flavor that comes only from homemade buttercream. Our recipe includes a tip to avoid getting the frosting too runny. The recipe is located here.

9. Pork Chops
seared-pork-tenderloin-medallions2_smlThe ever-popular pork chop topped this year’s Google search charts again, which is not so surprising considering how easy or elegant this homey dinner staple is to prepare. We have lots of pork chop recipes on our Entrees page, and one of our favorites, Apple-Ginger Thick Cut Pork Chops, is located here.

10. Turkey Gravy
Pan Gravy with Chicken Fried ChickenSearches for turkey gravy rose to new heights in the last few weeks prior to Thanksgiving, and, according to Google, it was very popular this year! Once you learn to master gravy making, you can pretty much turn pan drippings and fond from any dish into a silky smooth and extra flavorful pan sauce or gravy to serve with your meal. Here’s our recipe and some tips to help.

These delicious recipes are essential for every recipe starter collection, and all have countless versions that have been developed by seasoned cooks over the years. Historically, the most adventurous cooks had extensive libraries of cookbooks to use for inspiration and exploration. Trading recipes with others who had an interest in expanding their meal offerings was a very common practice. Today, there are many other ways to find a recipe, including that quick search on the web, including our own collection. We hope you enjoy our tried and true recipes, and look forward to hearing about your favorite variations, too.

Now that Christmas dinner is past, and the leftovers have been relegated to stews and casseroles, it’s the right time to be thinking about a change of pace with dinners that differ from seasonal classics while still delivering on flavor. Pork may be the ideal alternative, and we’ve collected a few of our favorite pork chop dishes to help you with mealtime planning.

Apple-Raisin Thick Cut Pork Chops
Apple Raisin Pork ChopThis is a delicious main dish that has been a favorite for generations and passed down in cookbook after cookbook. The apples and raisins combine to create a fruity and savory flavor, while apples and pork are just a natural pairing. Combined with touches of ginger, mustard and cinnamon, this hardy mealtime offering is well liked by diners of all ages. Get the recipe here.

Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops
Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin ChopHere’s a dish that hits all of the taste buds with a sweet-sour sauce, umami flavor from a quick browning sear in a very hot pan, and salt and pepper seasoning to taste. Thick center-cut pork chops finish in a balsamic vinegar and brown sugar sauce. These chops are as attractive as they are tasty, and really turn up the satisfaction ratings. Get the recipe here.

Coriander Boneless Pork Chop Cubes
Coriander Pork CubesLooking for a savory pork chop recipe with a dash of pizzaz? These thick cut pork chops get cubed into bite-size portions, marinaded, seasoned, and pan seared for that great earthy umami flavor that comes from a quick, hot, sear. Served over chicken flavored couscous or rice, and finished with fresh chopped coriander or parsley, this flavorful combination will become a family favorite. Get the recipe here.

Grilled or Roasted Stuffed Loin Chops
Stuffed Thick Cut Loin MedallionThis can be a really fun adventure. Have your butcher cut some extra thick loin medallions. You’re going to marinade them, stuff them, grill or roast them, as you like, and prepare a dish that is not only attractive and tasty, but will dominate the table when you dress it with a drizzle of hot balsamic reduction, and garnish with a cilantro or parsley twig. Get the recipe here.

Vino Pork Loin
Pork Loin Bites over CouscousThis is a savory plate of comfort food that is certain to please the heartiest of appetites. Taking a Cajun cue from Emeril’s Essence, we use a homemade version of the spice to bring pork to a whole new level. Use as much, or as little, as you like, to make this dish your own. We like it served with a side of Island Rice Pilaf. Get the recipe for this delicious pork dish here.

From roasted to pan fried, and smothered to breaded, our selection of savory and sweet pork chop recipes will give you many tasty options for your mealtime. Bone-in or boneless, thick-cut or thin, budget-friendly pork chops are a favorite option for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Pork chops is what is “in”!

If your family or friends are planning a holiday season pitch-in dinner where the meat is already planned, you need to be able to pull out a few ideas for side dishes that can go together easily, have great eye appeal, and deliver with flavors as good as the dish looks. Celebrate the casserole, hero of overly busy homemakers for centuries! Here are some carry-in ideas to help get you started.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Baked Macaroni and CheeseThis is a recipe by Alton Brown that we adapted to fit our family’s preferences. Alton’s recipe calls for Panko bread crumbs for the topping, which we don’t always have on hand. We usually make coarsely ground bread crumbs from any crusty bread we have around, such as French or Italian bread or baguettes. You can find our recipe here.

Cornbread Casserole
Cornbread CasseroleThis side is a bread accompaniment that fits right in with any meal, whether it is a holiday gathering, a family dinner, or a camp out. The cornbread casserole is likely as time tested as any dish we could name. This simple recipe uses a boxed mix, is quick to assemble and cook, and yet, it is one of the best comfort foods you can add to any meal. You can find our recipe here.

Orange & Gold Potatoes au Gratin
Orange and Gold Potato CasseroleThis is an eye-catching dish that always pleases, with color to provide the visual “pop,” and the lusciousness of the waxy Yukon Gold potato combined with the silkiness of the sweet potato. They are layered with ricotta or cottage cheese, and your preference of Romano cheese (creamy), Asiago cheese (saltier), or Parmesan cheese (salty and nutty). You can find our recipe here.

Sour Cream and Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
Horseradish and sour cream potatoesMashed potatoes are one of the most beloved dishes for pitch-ins, often with two or three versions making an appearance. This variation stands out because of its eye-catching silky finish derived from using red or gold potatoes, and pairs very well with brown gravies and sauces due to a hint of horseradish. You can find our recipe here.

Creamy Four Cheese Macaroni
Four Cheese MacaroniOne of America’s favorite dishes, this recipe is adapted from “The Best of Cooking Light,” and is one of Lea’s favorite recipes. In fact, she said this cheese combination of Fontina, Parmesan, extra-sharp Cheddar, and Velveeta, is one of the best tasting she has ever made. If you like mac ‘n cheese, we think you will really like this recipe! Find it here.

Classic Cranberry Salad
Lea Mixing Cranberry SaladLarry’s mother, Marjorie, always made this for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. It is so delicious with turkey! We enjoy it mostly with the turkey sandwiches the day after the holiday! Give cranberries a ride in the food processor, add sugar and orange, marshmallows and nuts to create a chilled salad that is even better the day after. You can find our recipe here.

Casseroles fit the pitch-in bill because now there are portable carriers that can be heated or cooled, as appropriate, to keep your food in the food safety zone until service. At room temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes, according to foodsafety.gov. Check it out, to keep your food safer. And, share with us your comments, thoughts, and favorite recipes, to be shared with others. Best regards from our kitchen to yours for the holiday season!

We love a tender, juicy, well-cooked beef steak. It can elevate a meal to an entirely higher level. Steaks are, perhaps, most often grilled in an attempt to replicate the flavor of steak cooked over the glowing coals of a campfire. But, steak can also be pan-seared, roasted, broiled, cubed for stew, and even ground to make steak-burgers. When you prepare a good quality slab of steak, you want to have some insight in how to prepare, season, cook, and it. mess it up with complicated cooking techniques. Serving a perfectly prepared steak is very satisfying, and there is no reason it has to be overly difficult. The notes below can help you avoid common mistakes like an ugly gray exterior or over-cooked, dry, interior.

Chart of Beef Cuts

Premium Meats for Primo Meals

Steak isn’t just a cut of beef, it is the best of the best. Steaks come from the top of the steer, generally along the backbone, where there isn’t much muscle or connective tissue, which is why this meat is much more tender and faster cooking. Intense heat is all that’s needed to char and brown the outside, while the inside can be eaten as rare as you like. These much sought after premium cuts are only a small piece of the animal, which contributes to their premium prices. Since they are expensive, it’s worth knowing how to prepare each cut, and what to expect from the finished product.

1. Filet Mignon (aka Tenderloin, or Châteaubriand)

Filet Mignon Steak, uncookedThis is the tenderest of all the steaks. This is also the most expensive steak because there just isn’t much of it per animal. It comes from the short loin and sirloin, right under the ribs. A whole tenderloin starts out wide (the “head”) and then tapers down to the other end (the “tail”). Filet Mignon is from the tail end, and Châteaubriand comes from the head. When trimmed properly, the tenderloin is small, lean, fine-grained, and usually cut thicker than most steaks due to its smaller size. Lean tenderloin is buttery and mild in flavor. The best way to cook it is pan roasting.

2. New York Strip (aka Manhattan, Kansas City strip, top sirloin, top loin)

top-sirloin-steak_rawUsually boneless, this steak comes from the short loin behind the ribs. It has fat on one edge of the steak, with some fat marbling, but no large pockets of fat. New York strips are tender, with medium fat content, but not as tender as tenderloins or rib eyes. Their big beefy flavor is brought out by cooking over high heat; pan-seared, broiled, or grilled.

3. T-Bone (aka Porterhouse)

T-Bone Steak, uncookedSold bone in, the tenderloin portion must be 1.25″ wide to be classified as a porterhouse and only .5″ wide to be classified as a T-bone. You get the best of both worlds with this steak; super-tender, buttery tenderloin, and beefy, juicy sirloin (strip) steak on either side of the longer portion of the T-bone. Because there are basically two different kinds of steak, you have to be careful, because the tenderloin will cook more quickly than the sirloin side. Try to keep the tenderloin further away from the heat source, or use a two-level fire to grill.

4. Bone-In Rib Eye (aka Delmonico, Scotch fillet, Spencer, Market Steak)

Rib Eye Steak, uncookedRib-eyes are basically a prime rib or standing rib roast cut down into individual steaks. Taken from the upper rib cage, it has webs of fat marbling throughout the meat, and pockets of fat interspersed throughout. There is finer grain at the center while the outer section is looser and fattier. It tastes super beefy, juicy, and flavorful. Cook over high heat. It will hold up very well to pan searing, broiling, roasting, or grilling, although with the high fat content, you need to be careful about drippings into the fire.

These are the most popular cuts of steak, though not a complete list of cuts available. For other tips on how to prepare and cook steak, visit our How to Cook Steak page. Your butcher can help you select additional cuts of meat to try, too. Their insights can introduce you to newer, less popular cuts of meat that boast huge flavor. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how to cook your new selection, because they like to share their knowledge.

Ready to make some magic happen? Try these great steak recipes:

Pan-Roasted Rib Eye Steak
Malted Pepper Steak
Browned Steak Strips with Pan Gravy
Jamaican Jerk Beef-Tenderloin Steaks
Grilled Rib-Eye Steak
Horseradish & Black Pepper Crusted Rib Eye

Harvesting apples in the fall is such a rewarding undertaking! We, and our friends and extended families, always looked forward to the apple harvesting season. We would drive out to one or more of the local orchards where we could gather all we wanted of the various varieties of apples. Apple Cider PressWe like to press a blend of apples to make apple cider, applesauce, and apple butter, each of which requires a crafty blending of a variety of types of apples. We also would make up a couple dozen pie shells using Lea’s pie dough recipe. We then peeled and sliced apples, arranged some in pie shells, others in freezer bags, seasoned them up, and wrapped them tightly for storage in the freezer for later use.

Sliced Johnathan and Granny Smith ApplesApples are such a versatile fruit they can be used as stand alone snacks, of course, and also used to make sauces, glazes, side dishes and desserts. They are canned, pressed to produce apple juice, baked, fried, sauteed, braised, and all the other techniques. Raw or cooked, apples are glorious. We have a few favorite apple items that come to mind when the cooler weather arrives.

Cinnamon Apple Tortilla Roll Ups, Apple Stuffed Pork Chops, Apple-Ginger Thick Cut Pork Chops, Apple Dump Cake,Apple Pie with Rum Raisin Sauce and one last mention of the slice of hot apple pie with Rum Raisin Sauce. If you don’t care for the rum, here’s a version of Raisin Sauce you might like better.

For all of these reasons, we are real fans of the glorious apple. Oh, and if you’ve never tried it, one of the great variations on apple pie is melting a slice of cheddar cheese on top and then drizzling with a cinnamon sauce. I first ran across this delectable treat decades ago when I was an announcer at a local radio station, and the pharmacy across the street still had a lunch counter where they served their apple pie with this topping. Here’s a snapshot4 Year old lattices a pie from the scrapbook: our 4-year old grandson putting the lattice on a treat just before going into the oven. It’s as easy as apple pie!

Lea and Larry Vaughn

Lea and Larry Vaughn

Welcome to our family cookbook, including recipes we have developed, plus tried and true recipes we have used for years. We both enjoy cooking, and have shared a fun kitchen rivalry during our 50+ years together. We also have had the pleasure of preparing large group meals for our church family on fellowship nights.

Lea is a classic Midwestern cook with cooking experience starting with meals for her family of five brothers, a sister, while her mother worked outside the home. Her father was a former farm laborer before entering his career as an hourly worker on the railroad, and favored hearty meals of meat and potatoes. A part of the skills Lea learned as a young girl was how to get the maximum number of portions from what was available, and how to flavor it for everyone’s palate. She learned recipes and techniques at her mother’s side, and developed a free form cooking ability that requires no recipes, just a good memory for what ingredients go well together.

Larry, on the other hand, is a recipe cook, although he enjoys experimenting, and often stretches the boundaries of the culinary imagination and challenges the palate. No one will ever forget his green St. Patrick’s Day gravy, or blue mustard cream sauce for Independence Day! His cooking experience spans many years of special grill and roasting techniques, unusual (while tasty) flavor combinations, special basting and flavoring steps, and precise temperature control. His favorite perspective on cooking is pretty presentations . . . good food served with lots of eye appeal. Many of his sauces and rubs have been developed to deliver a complimentary flavor to a dish while adding  just the right splash of color.

To browse our collection of recipes, simply click on the category links at the top of this page. “Entree” means “main item,” (often meat), while Side means something to accompany the “main item,” such as a vegetable. Enjoy! And, please, let us hear from you! If you’re fairly new to cooking you might enjoy browsing our page on spices. Wonder about what spice goes with what? Just click here for some helpful detail.

Large Stock PotCook’s Note: By the way, for home cooks, keep in mind that when we say a “large” pot, we may mean a LARGE stock pot, because we also provide a site with recipes for large groups. The photo at the right is our oldest grandson, who accompanied us on a visit to a restaurant supply house, and was taken with the size of the equipment. He couldn’t help but try to lift this stock pot, which as you can see here, even at age seven, he could do. He has always enjoyed helping with prep for making cookies and mixing batters, so he’s going to be a great help in the kitchen one of these days!

Surviving God’s Woodshed, a Blog

Read about the terrible ordeal Lea and Larry underwent in 2005 when Lea spent 78 days in a coma during 180 days of emergency treatment in Hartford Hospital. Read about her miraculous healing and eventual return to an active lifestyle. Click here.

Recipes for Large Groups

Looking for recipes for a large group? Lea and Larry cooked for 50-100 at church functions. Find their recipes
here

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 275 other followers

Latest Recipes:

EZ Tortilla Soup
EZ Tortilla Soup


Poblano Creamed Corn
Poblano Creamed Corn



Spinach Artichoke Dip
Spinach Artichoke Dip





Wonder About Spices?
Which to Use When?
What Goes With What?
Click Here

Food Prep Terms

Need to know when to Chop, Dice or Chiffonade? How about Stir, Blend, Fold, or Mix? What are the differences? Click here

Surviving God’s Woodshed

Read about the terrible ordeal Lea and Larry underwent in 2005 when Lea spent 78 days in a coma during 180 days of emergency treatment in Hartford Hospital. Read about her miraculous healing and eventual return to an active lifestyle. Click here.

Recipes for Large Groups

Looking for recipes for a large group? Lea and Larry cooked for 50-100 at church functions. Find their recipes here

Blog Stats

  • 82,356 hits