Friday, March 18, 2011

Slow Cooker Green Beans

I've been asked, begged, and even TOLD to make a post with my recipe for real, authentic, Southern green beans. While I have no written exact measurments I'm going to put up a general how to on making them so you can all sort of make it your own. :)

roughly 1lbs Fresh green beans with the ends trimmed off (I snap em off by hand and it may be a down right pain in your rear end as it's time consuming but it's worth the effort TRUST ME!!!)

1 large smoked ham hock (not a regular neck bone, not a hunk of smoked ham, just a large smoked ham me on this one)

about 1/2 a package of salt pork (now this is tricky...some say use fat back some say to use just bacon but I personally feel neither are perfect. Fat back is too...well fatty! Bacon doesn't have enough fat. Salt pork is just right. There's meat on it AND fat so it's perfect)

about 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar. Don't use white, red wine, just use Apple Cider.

Salt and pepper to taste

1tbsp minced garlic

How to do it:
You'll want to clean the green beans and as stated above snip the ends off of them. Place your ham hock and salt pork in the crock pot first. Lay your green beans over the top. I then like to take the vinegar, salt, garlic, and pepper and mix it in a measuring cup with about 2 cups of water. Then pour it over the green beans. You'll then want to fill the crock pot with enough water to cover the green beans. I do the mixing before adding because it gets difficult to stir the green beans when they are raw and everything's in the pot together. I then cover it and cook it on high for 3 hours. I then turn the crock pot to low and allow it to simmer for roughly 6-8 hours until the green beans are nice and tender. Once the beans are done remove the ham hock with a slotted spoon and any bones from it.

Now I personally prefer to leave the salt pork in there because it gives you like this little tasty surprise of meat mixed in with the beans. If you prefer you can remove them when you take out the ham hock. It's personal preference. :)

Pan Seared Rainbow Trout with Lime Cilantro Cream sauce

I made this dish the other night and my husband went ga-ga for it. I got the inspiration for it from a new cookbook I picked up at the local Borders that's going out of business. I tweaked it a bit by adding a bit more lime juice to it and some half and half to thin the cream sauce a bit and just a pinch of garlic powder. I think without the extra lime juice and garlic powder the dish wouldn't have been half as tasty. The original recipe also called for serving over a bed of fresh Corriander sprouts but that just didn't do the trick for me. My husband would have scoffed at me for putting fresh greenery on his plate so I instead opted for a mushroom rice which was actually quite tasty. You can serve it over plain rice though as I think the cream sauce would hold it's own with the rice.

8oz Sour Cream
2-3tbsp half and half
zest of 2 small limes
Juice from those limes
1/2 cup chopped fresh Cilantro
1/4 tsp of garlic powder

3-4 Large Rainbow Trout (or just trout in general)
2tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


In a blender or food processor combine the zest, lime juice, sour cream, half and half, and cilantro. Be sure to use metal blades and process it for roughly 40seconds (no may take less time with a good processor or blender). Set the cream in the fridge.

Now you're going to want to cook your Trout. This is fairly easy and doesn't take a super long time. Be sure to buy Trout that still has the skin on it as it helps to keep the fillets in tact. I like to buy about 3-4 larger fillets (about .3-.5lbs a piece) and then cut them in half. This is easy to do. I use a knife to cut the meat and then a pair of kitchen shears to cut the skin. Heat your olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place your fillets skin side down and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper to season. Sear them for only about 3 or 4 minutes. You'll know the side is done when the edges all around are white. Flip the fillets over and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the meat turns a light golden color. I like to then sandwich the fish in between some paper towels to help soak up the excess oil. This is crutial as you don't want a big greasy mess on your plate after you drizzle the cream sauce over the top.

To plate this dish I like to gently peel the skin off of the fish and lay it on a bed of either white or wild rice (wild tastes better for this sort of dish to me). Then gently drizzle your sauce over the top of the fillet and garnish with a sprig of fresh cilantro and a lime wedge.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Irish Stew

I recently made what I refer to as my "Irish Stew" to help us get in the mood for St.Patricks Day which is just around the corner. This stew is super easy and AMAZINGLY delicious. The only thing Irish about it is the use of Lamb instead of beef (which you can use beef if you so prefer it) and Guiness in the base. Let's get started.

1.5lbs Lamb Stew meat (or if you're like me and don't have the option...have your local butcher or meat counter cut a lamb roast into cubes. Be careful though. An exceptionally tender cut of Lamb will fall apart and become shredded in the stew)
2 larges potatoes diced with peel on
roughly half a bag of baby carrots chopped in half
1/2 a large onion
2 cups of Guiness
2 cups Beef stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1tsp thyme
1tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tbsp corn starch

To start off with I like to add the corn starch to the beef stock and whisk it until it's dissolved. You want to do this when the stock is at room temp or cold. Never hot as it'll clump. Add your meat and veggies into a crock pot. Mix your spices in with the stock and the guiness. Then add this to your crock pot. Cover and cook on high roughly 3-4 hours or until the veggies are tender (it's porbably going to be closer to 3). Remove the lid and turn heat to low. Cook for an additional hour with the LID OFF. This is crutcial as it allows the sauce to thicken.

This dish is amazing and can be served with any number of sides. We like it best with a rice dish and some herbed rolls. Herb Yeast Rolls are my fav but soda bread is also a good addition to sop up the sauce with.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Appetizers/Finger Food

This time of year usually means parties, family get togethers, church gatherings, and countless other reasons for you to have to come up with a quick, easy, and delicious finger food. My mom always use to fix 2 different dishes and the best part of them was that the sauces were totally interchangable with the meats. You could use which ever you liked best with whatever meat you liked. For me, that's a double win. Neither of these are your normal "finger" foods as you'd need a toothpick to eat them with but that's still a good thing for holiday parties. Just get yourself some super cute seasonal toothpicks and you can create an eye pleasing platter or dish of delicious, warm, yuminess.

First is my mom's meatballs. There's nothing super special about these. She use to spend hours slaving over making her own meatballs and while they were so incredibly delicious, that just doesn't fit into my busy hectic schedule. With that said, I've used frozen bagged meatballs and it's tasted just as good. The difference? The bagged meatballs are smaller and therefore, better for parties. This sauce she simply referred to as a Sweet and Spicy Chili sauce. It's really good and you can honestly use a ton of different meats with it. You can even experiment with using meatballs from meats other than beef. Chicken, turkey, bison, and pork. I've tried the pork and it was SOOOOO good!!! So here's the sauce recipe:

1 jar Chili Sauce (this can be found down the ketchup aisle and it's found in a glass bottle. Usually on the top shelf out of my reach...figures)
1 jar Grape Jelly (now here's the REALLY cool thing...I've experimented and used Blackberry Jelly, Strawberry Jelly, and Black Cherry Jelly and they all worked PERFECTLY and gave a sort of different twist. Be sure you use Jelly though and not preserves)
Chili Powder, Salt, and Pepper to taste

All you have to do is mix up the ingredients together, throw em in a crock pot, add the meatballs, and allow it to simmer on low until the meatballs are heated through. Vuala! Done!

Up next is my mom's Sweet and Sour Sauce. She would usually put Lil Smokies in this sauce (either plain, all beef, or all cheese...the cheese is my fav). Again, the meat can totally be tweaked to your liking. Use sausage slices (go for the oblong cut as it's visually more appealing), try chicken or turkey meatballs, or go for anything really. You can totally experiment. It's what makes cooking fun!!! This is again a SUPER easy recipe. Here's what you need:

Pineapple Juice
Apple Cider Vinegar
Dried Mustard

I usually put the smokies in a pot and then ALMOST cover them with the pineapple juice. Don't fully cover them or you'll have tons of sauce. Then add the vinegar, mustard, and paprika to your taste. I like a bit more vinegar in mine than others as I prefer the sour side over the sweet but not everyone is the same so find the proportions that work best for you!! Then just slowly simmer them on the stove over low heat for roughly an hour and BAM!!! YUMMY!! I like to put them in a dish that is sort of deep. So the sauce stays with the weiners. Then I just set a cup of toothpicks next to them and usually within minutes they're GONE!!!! I've never ever had ANY of these or the meatballs left over. I always have everyone begging for the recipes by the end of the night and I use to stay pretty tight lipped about the how to's on this. With my life getting incredibly hectic with a toddler, my own business, and the military aspect of it all I find these are the best things for all the get togethers we go to. I hope they're as big of a hit at your gatherings as they are at mine and have been!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spaghetti Sauce/Marinara

I've been asked for a long time for my Spaghetti Sauce recipe. To be entirely honest, I don't have a set written recipe for it. I made it up on my own out of my head. I have nothing more for the recipe than a list of ingredients. These can actually be tweaked to your liking. You can remove them, add others, etc. Here's the following list of ingredients.


Vinegar (can be either balsamic, red wine, or white wine. You can experiment and see which you like best)
EVOO (this is another ingredient that you can experiment with. You can try sweet almond oil, olive oil, peanut oil, apricot kernel oil...any number of vegetable oils)

Whole Pepperocini Peppers (how many you put in will depend on how much you're making, how spicy you want want it, and how much of a vinegar flavor you want)
Bell Pepper
Black Olives

All of the vegetables can be altered to your liking. You can experiment with adding different types of olives, different flavors of olives (marinated etc), and different types of peppers.

These are what I put in mine but are NOT necessary. I just love the taste of my sauce with cheese in it.

Spicy Italian Sausage
Sweet Italian Sausage
Ground Beef
Ground Lamb (especially delicious)
Ground Buffalo

For the base I use canned crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce depending on it's use. For example: If I'm using it for spaghetti I use crushed tomatoes to help keep the sauce light and not as heavy/rich. For baked ziti or lasagna I use tomato sauce. If you prefer a thicker sauce across the board always use tomato sauce. You'll also want at least 1 can of petite diced tomatoes or 2-3 large fresh tomatoes diced small.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Drunken Shrimp

This is one of my favorite ways to make shrimp. It's a quick and easy marinade and all you have to do is let them soak for approximately 1-2 hours in the fridge then skewer and grill.

2lbs raw shrimp (I buy them with the shell on but I deshell them and devein them)
1cup tequila
1cup water
1/4-1/2 cup sugar (depends on how sweet you want it)
~1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1tbsp minced garlic
1tbsp chopped cilantro (I couldn't find fresh so I used some dried)

First you want to mix all your marinade ingredients in a tupperware container. It needs to be a container that you can seal up tight. Next, shell the shrimp and devein them. You want the tails off as well so you don't have to get all messy when eating them. After your shrimp are cleaned and prepared put them into the container with the marinade, seal, and shake vigerously. This will help to ensure each shrimp is evenly coated with the cilantro and that they've all settled into the sauce.

Refridgerate for at least 1-2 hours. I typically let them sit for about 2-3. Then skewer and place on a hot grill until pink.

You can serve these anyway you want really. You can put them in tacos, serve them as fajitas with some sauteed peppers and onions, use them in burrito bowls, or eat them as is served with a side of spanish rice and beans.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Momma's Spiced Pumpkin Cookies

These are a favorite of mine any time of the year but my fondest memories of them come from the fall. My mom would always bake these for us constantly between Halloween and Christmas.

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margerine, softened (I use salted sweet cream butter out of personal preference but my mom use to use the butter flavored margarine)
1 cup white sugar
1 15oz can of Pumpkin (or equal amount of fresh, cooked, purred pumpkin)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dates or raisins (this is a personal preference)
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

(all spices can be replaced by using 1-1.5 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice but I never buy it because I keep the other spices on hand at all times anyways)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla. Beat in baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt. Gradually beat in the flower a 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in dates and nuts.

Drop by large spoonfulls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes or until the edges start to turn a beautiful golden color. Cool on baking sheet for roughly 2 minutes then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

Feel free to play with the ingredients a bit. Omit the ginger if you don't like ginger. Use raisins instead of dates. You can even substitute pecans for the walnuts. It's all a personal preference.