Welcome to Gramma's Kitchen where you'll find lots of yummy recipes, cooking secrets/hints/shortcuts and my opinions on foodie stuff.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Not enough time...

Wow, I just realized that I have not posted anything for a few days...I've just been so busy getting ready for Christmas I don't seem to have enough time.

I'll have something of interest in a day or so.

Peace...and I'm outta' here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cool Whip Cookies

I found the recipe for these cookies on the side panel of a Lemon Cake Mix last year. They seemed so easy I just had to make them. Well, I used the lemon cake mix and the cookies were unbelievable. Everyone raved about them. I'm not sure which were my favorite: the cool whip cookies or my old fashioned Coconut Macaroons (see the recipe in my first post). Well, I decided to make the cool whip cookies a couple days ago. To my dismay, I couldn't find the lemon cake mix I thought I'd purchased. I REALLY wanted to make these and include them in my cookie gift bags and boxes, but all I had was French Vanilla and Pineapple cake mix. Which one do you think I used? Well -- pineapple of course!! Who do you know that makes Pineapple Cookies? I've never seen them anywhere...

Well, my friends...the pineapple cookies came out great! So I learned that you can use ANY FLAVOR of cake mix for these Cool Whip Cookies although I think a fruit flavor (lemon, strawberry, pineapple) or chocolate would work best. I'm going to try a spice cake next. Or how about a white/yellow cake mix with extract flavors added? OOOOhh, maybe a boxed carrot cake?

In any case, the cookies come out light, moist, sweet and pretty. They are a little bit sticky though so keep this in mind when packing them up as gifts. Also, I recommend that you keep them small.

COOL WHIP COOKIES
1-8oz container of frozen whipped topping
2 eggs
1 pkg of cake mix
2/3 cup confectioner's powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350*. Lightly grease baking sheets (or use non-stick spray). Beat the whipped topping and eggs together. Add the cake mix and blend well. The "dough" will be thick and sticky. Drop by teaspoonfuls (only 2 or 3 at a time) into a bowl with the powdered sugar and roll them around to fully coat. Put the sugar-covered balls on the baking sheets 2" apart. Bake for about 8 minutes. Makes about 3 or 4 dozen cookies, depending on size.

These cookies are soft, light, airy and sweet. As the cookie expands in the oven the powdered sugar gets separated giving them a pretty, lacy appearance. ENJOY!!

Peace...and I'm outta' here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sample Day at BelAir Market

Yesterday I went back to work as a food demonstrator for NCIM (If anyone anywhere is interested in doing demo work, leave me a message). I was preparing and sampling a delicious pasta dish using Johnsonville Four Cheese Italian Sausages. It was super simple to prepare. Even the kids that sampled it liked it. All in all it was a very good day, although I must say I was a bit out of the flow when I first got there...it's been over five months since I did a demo and stood on my feet in one spot all day. But I got through it!! I'm glad my demo involved preparing a "real" dish as opposed to just pouring juice into little cups or putting something on a little piece of bread. Whenever I have to prep and cook something, the day goes by much quicker and before I know it, it's time to go home.

I have another demo next Friday, but I'm not as thrilled about it - all I'm doing is putting bleu cheese on crackers. I expect it may end up being a "slow" day... Anyway, the dish I prepared ended up being so popular I thought I'd share it here. Sorry I don't have a picture of the finished dish, but take my word for it - it may look a little plain, but it's packed with flavor.

JOHNSONVILLE SAUSAGE AND PASTA IN GARLIC/BASIL SAUCE
1 pkg Johnsonville Four Cheese Italian Sausages (5 links)
12 oz (dry) Farfalle (bowtie) pasta
1 medium onion (fine dice)
1-1/2 to 2 tbsp minced garlic (do not use garlic salt--too salty)
3 tbsp Olive Oil
3/4 cup frozen petite peas
1-1/2 tbsp cornstarch
16 oz low sodium Chicken Broth
1/4 cup fresh basil (1/8" chop)
Prepare the pasta according to pkg instructions; drain, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and set aside. Score/remove/discard the casing on each sausage; cut each link into 1/2 inch rounds. Cook the sausage in a 12" skillet until brown. Add the onion, garlic and 2 tbsp olive oil. Saute until onion is translucent/tender. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and broth till smooth. Add to the meat/onion/garlic mixture. Stir well and frequently until boiling and sauce thickens. Add the frozen peas and reduce heat to simmer for 5 min. Add the drained pasta and toss to coat with sauce. Add the fresh basil and toss once more before serving. It should be noted here that this dish requires no other seasonings such as salt or pepper. All the seasoning needed is already in the sausages. Serves 6 to 8.

NOTE: Although you could probably substitue any Italian style sausage, the Johnsonville Four Cheese Italian sausages have mozarella, romano, parmesean and cheddar cheese right in them and it melts out somewhat as you cook them. This adds richness to the garlic/basil sauce. I don't think the dish would be nearly as good with a substitution.

Peace...and I'm outta' here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

YUM, YUM - EAT 'EM UP!!


Okay, so I ate these things at a Chinese buffet in Yuba City, CA and they were scrumptious!! I thought, "I could make these...looks simple enough!" Sooo, I decided to try and recreate them for the Bling Bats Christmas party!! Voila! They came out great and are oh so easy to make...only two ingredients. So here's the recipie:
BACON WRAPPED CHICKEN BITES
12 oz Boneless skinless chicken breasts
7 or 8 slices of regular bacon
Cut the chicken breast meat into bite-sized pieces (about 1" X 1"). Wrap a piece of bacon around each chicken "bite" - Each slice of bacon should be enough to wrap 3 or 4 bites. Arrange them on a foiled-lined baking sheet about 1" apart. Bake in a 400* oven for about 20-25 min. or until the chicken meat is white and the bacon is browned and crispy. Be careful not to over cook as the chicken will get tough. Allow to cool and enjoy them alone or with a dipping sauce (I liked dipping them in Ranch dressing).
Peace all...and I'm outta' here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Holiday Spirit and Food for the Bling Bats


Busy, busy, busy!!! Cooking, cleaning and decorating! Trevell, Tashyra and I finally finished decorating the tree last night. I think it is beautiful...it sparkles and glitters! I am officially in the holiday spirit!!

The holiday parties are here. And of course, holiday parties mean lots of great, albeit fattening and decadent food!!! Thank goodness Christmas only comes once a year. I've been so disciplined with my new eating habits and I don't want to gain any of the 51 lbs back...but I don't want to miss out on all the goodies either. So I've been busy online figuring out the caloric, carbohydrate and fat content of various holiday foods so I can enjoy at least a little bit of most everything I may encounter.

Since I am over 50 now, I am a member of a chapter of the Red Hat Society - the Bling Bats in Red Hats. Tonight is the annual Christmas Party. I volunteered to help our Queen (Batty N Charming) with the food and I am busy preparing and cooking three of my yummiest dishes. One, Nancy's Loaded Potato Cassarole, was passed down verbally to me by my mom before she was stricken with Altzheimer's. It is oh so good but very high in calories (235 per half cup) so use some self-control. I'll post the other recipes tomorrow and the next day. I hope you try today's recipe and leave me a note telling me how you like it.

NANCY'S LOADED POTATO CASSAROLE
Makes 8 to 10 servings
9 medium russet potatoes
16 oz. sour cream
8 oz. cheddar cheese
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup chopped green onion tops
2 Tbsp. real crumbled bacon (not bacon bits)
8 Tbsp. salted butter (4 tbsp frozen and 4 tbsp melted)
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Parboil potatoes and allow to cool in fridge overnight. Freeze 4 tbsp of butter (1/2 cube) - to be used in last step. Peel and shred potatoes (use large holes on grater so they look like hash browns). In a large bowl fold together the shredded potatoes, sour cream, red & green onion, crumbled bacon and 1-1/2 cups cheese (set aside 1/2 cup for the top). Stir in 4 tbsp of melted butter. Salt and pepper to taste (approx. 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper) . Spray a 13" X 9" pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spread potato mixture evenly in prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and the 1/2 cup of bread crumbs over the top. Grate the frozen butter evenly on top of bread crumbs. Bake uncovered on upper rack in a 350ยบ oven for 20-25 minutes until heated through and top is golden brown and crispy. Allow to set for 10-15 minutes before serving. **This cassorole can be assembled and refrigerated a day ahead-- allow to come to room temperature before putting in the oven.

Peace all...and I'm outta' here.



Sunday, December 6, 2009

CORNY MORNING!!!

Woke up this morning and thought I'd get "corny" with my family for breakfast!!! So here's my recipe for great CORNED BEEF HASH!!! Very simple yet delicious...especially when served with biscuits and made-to-order fried eggs!! YUM! Just ask Trevell and his Grandpa Great (my dad).

GRAMMA'S CORNED BEEF HASH
4 or 5 medium Idaho potatoes
1 medium onion
2 tbsp canola oil
1 - 12 oz can of corned beef
salt and pepper to taste (heavier on the pepper)
Wash the potatoes but leave them in their jackets (don't peel them!). Cut each in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half lengthwise again. Then slice them in the opposite direction (1/8" - 1/4" slices.) Rough dice the onion. This is a rustic, country style hash, so it doesn't have to be perfect or "pretty". Heat the oil in a heavy 12" skillet and add the potatoes first, then the onion. Salt and pepper - then cover for about 5 to 10 minutes on medium high. Meanwhile, open the can of beef, break/chop it up. Turn the potatos/onions with a spatula and add the corned beef. Cover again for another 10-15 minutes on medium heat. If the potatoes are tender, turn everything together with your spatula, making sure to scrape the brown "good stuff" off the bottom from time to time; keep your eye on it so that it cooks and gets "crispies" (that's what my grandson calls it) all throughout, but does not burn. Serve with fresh hot biscuits and "made-to-order" fried eggs on top or on the side. This recipe will feed about 6 people. It's also good with catsup on top.
Okay -- so I'm not a cookbook author...but all I can do is try to tell you how to make it like I do. I hope yours comes out as good as mine.
Peace all...and I'm outta' here.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

CHRISTMAS DECORATING!!!


Well, I started my Christmas decorating today. So far I've got the tree up and put the lights on (6' tree, 500 lights), hung the wreath on the front door, hung the Christmas "pop-outs" in the windows, and started putting Santas and Snowmen on every available flat surface! So today, I'm posting some pictures and then at the end, you'll find a recipe for DESSERT KOLACHKY and a Sweet Cheese Filling to put inside. I'll post a picture of my tree when we are finished putting on the ornaments! Enjoy!

DESSERT KOLACHKY

1/2 lb butter or margarine

1-8oz pkg of softened cream cheese

2 Tbsp sugar

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

About 3/4 cup raspberry, apricot, grape preserves or cheese filling (see below)

Confectioner's sugar

Thoroughly blend butter, softened cream cheese and sugar. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mis well. Knead to form a stiff dough. Roll to 1/4" thickness on well floured board. Cut into 2-in. squares. Place 1/2 tsp of filling/preserves in center. Press opposite corners together. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in 350* oven for 15-20 min or until lightly brown. Remove from pan and cool on rack. When cool, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar. Makes 5 dozen

SWEET CHEESE FILLING

1-8oz pkg cream cheese

1/4 cup sugar

3 tbsp flour

1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp grated lemon peel

1 tsp lemon juice

Soften cream cheese. Add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Stir in flour, egg yolk, lemon peel and lemon juice.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Watching Movies for Money today!!!

Well, the title of today's post is not entirely correct...Today's work assignment is actually getting paid to watch the ads and trailers shown before three different movies. Then on my way home, I have to stop at a doctor's office to measure the waiting room, count the chairs, and audit the health programming on the TV.

So is everyone else getting ready for the holiday by baking cookies? I definitely am!! My daughter, Krystal, the grandkids and I get together each year and we spend a whole day baking and decorating cookies that we give away as gifts. We like to make a wide assortment of cookies (and candies, too). We have been gathering all of the necessary ingredients and supplies, and are organizing our recipes. I bake up dozens of sugar and gingerbread cutouts ahead of time for decorating. We'll probably have our Cookie Day the week of the 14th when Krystal is out of school for Xmas break. In the meantime, I thought I'd share some of my favorite recipes with you. This Macaroon recipe is a very old one -- I found it written on a little piece of paper stuffed in one of my grandmother's cookbooks. With only 4 ingredients they are quick and easy to prepare. It doesn't look like much when they are done, but they have a very interesting texture and everyone raves about them. They are really good when dipped in melted chocolate.

COCONUT MACAROONS

2 egg whites
1/2 teasoon vanilla
2/3 cup of sugar
1-1/3 cups of flaked sweetened coconut

Beat the eggs whites with a pinch of salt and the vanilla until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, beating till stiff. Fold the coconut into the "merange" . Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet (I prefer using a cookie scoop). Bake in a slow oven (325*) for about 20 minutes. Makes about 1 to 1-1/2 dozen depending on size.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

UpTimeAmerica

I had to log on and share a link to a video with you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXeCAeACmJE . I found it to be witty and inspiring.

Trevell was so excited when I told him about "Gramma's Restaurant". When he got home it was the first thing he did and he thought it was very cool that I mentioned him. In fact, to celebrate my new blog, today I am making a slow cooker pot roast and Gramma's Yummy Cabbage (see yesterday's blog for recipe).

This weekend is going to be very busy for me...Tashyra's Girl Scout troup will have a float in the Christmas Parade Saturday nite and Sunday is the Lincoln PAL Christmas Party for Kids. Tomorrow I have two job assignments: sit in 3 different movies and record which ads they show before the movies and counting chairs in a doctor's office. Merchandising work is nice because it's always something new and different...and I get to set my own hours to boot.

Anyway, I haven't had my breakfast yet so here's a "recipe" for a sweet treat that's nice to give as Christmas gifts! Enjoy!

OVER-THE-TOP-GORP
2 or 3 cups of caramel corn
3/4 cup of pecans or almonds or peanuts
1-1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1 bag of toffee bits
3/4 cup of raisins (if desired)
2 bags of Wiltons candy melts (light or dark chocolate)
Combine the first 5 ingredients in an extra large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly to evenly distribute everything. Melt the Candy melts according to package directions and pour over the goodies mixture. Fold/mix everything together until thoroughly coated with chocolate. Working quickly, drop the mixture by large spoonfuls into neat piles onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Allow to cool and chocolate to harden. Store in a cool, dry container until ready to serve, eat or package as gifts. I recommend using clear cellophane bags tied with ribbon.
NOTE: You can adjust the recipe amounts according to your own personal tastes. I happen to like more raisins and less mini marshmallows. This also works well if you use Sugar Smacks cereal instead of the caramel popcorn.
Peace, all...and I'm outta' here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My New Blog!!!

Hello everyone...of course, that's assuming that someone out there in cyberspace has found my new blog and decided to visit! I'm very excited about Gramma's Restaurant. I'm anxious to share my recipes and other foodie stuff. Most everything I'll post here will be grandkid tested and approved. My grandkids love their vegetables. One of Trevell's favorites is Gramma's Yummy Cabbage. My recipe yields a sweet and savory, extremely tender cabbage side dish that is great alone or served over the top of smashed potatos. Keep in mind that my measurements are approximate. I suggest you adjust one way or the other to your own taste and/or dietary needs.

GRAMMA'S YUMMY CABBAGE
1 Large head of green cabbage, core removed and chopped
1 large carrot, julienned
1 medium diced yellow onion
3-4 slices of bacon
1 tbsp of minced garlic
1 tbsp olive oil (if needed)
2 tbsp granulated sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the bacon up into pieces about 2" long and cook over medium heat until just browned in a heavy dutch oven or extra large pot. Remove from pot and set aside. Add the carrot and onion to the bacon fat (add the olive oil if there was insufficient fat rendered from the bacon) in the pot and saute until soft and beginning to carmelize. Add the minced garlic and the chopped cabbage to the pot. Don't be concerned if the cabbage doesn't seem to all fit in -- it will shrink as it cooks. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and continue to cook over medium heat for approximately 15 - 20 minutes. Periodically, using tongs, toss everything around in the pot. When cabbage is tender and reduced, add the previously cooked bacon and sugar. Toss to evenly distribute. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer another 15 minutes.
ENJOY!!!