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Killer Fudge

25 Jan

– 4 cups sugar
– 1/4 cup butter
– 12 oz can evaporated milk
– 4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (24-28 oz)
– 11.5 oz package milk chocolate chips
– 2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (or 2 squares)
– 14 oz marshmallow creme
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 4 cups chopped nuts (optional)

Place sugar, butter and milk in a heavy sauce pan and bring to a boil under medium heat. Boil for 8 minutes, stirring frequently.

Place the chocolates, marshmallow, and vanilla in a large, heat-safe bowl or saucepan. Pour boiled mixture over remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into buttered 8X10 or 9X11 or 11×13 pan, depending on how thick you want the fudge. Allow to cool before cutting.

This makes a huge batch of thick, soft fudge. Not the dry, crusty kind. We usually have it left over for months, and are sick of it by New Year’s.

Baked Potato Soup

25 Jan

– 4 lg baking potatoes
– 2/3 cup butter
– 2/3 cup flour**
– 1 1/2 quart milk
– Salt and Pepper
– 4 green onions
– 1 cup sour cream
– 2 cups crisp-cooked bacon, crumbled
– 5 oz. grated cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees and baked the potatoes until tender (1-1.5 hours). Melt butter in a large soup pot. Slowly blend flour in with a wire whisk until thoroughly blended. Gradually add milk to the butter-flour mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk in the salt and pepper (and don’t we love us some whisking by now!) and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly. Cut potatoes in half, scoop out the meat and set aside. Chop half the potato peels and discard the remainder (this part is optional, I personally don’t do it). When milk mixture is very hot, whisk (whisking is our life, after all!) in the potato. Add green onion and (optional) potato peels. Whisk (whisk whisk whisk) well, add sour cream and crumbled bacon. Heat thoroughly. Add cheese a little at a time until all is melted in.

bakedpotatosoup

I’m making a double batch of this stuff. It tends to go fast.

**For a gluten-free recipe, omit the flour.  Add 1/4 cup corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup of milk to the mixture right after adding the sour cream to the pot, if you find the soup needs thickening (it may not need it).

Boiled Lobster

25 Jan

– Live, snapping, wriggling lobsters (1-2 pounders)
– Salted water
– Drawn butter, seasoned with garlic powder and basil
Your average run of the mill lobster.  This one's name is Frank.
Get out a big pot. I’m talking huge, the biggest you’ve got. Bigger than that, even. Fill it 3/4 full of cold, salted water. Bring to a rolling boil. Drop the live lobster into the boiling water (sometimes they “scream”, sometimes they don’t – this is *not* a task for the squeamish). Return water to a rolling boil. Boil lobsters for fifteen minutes. They will turn bright red. Wouldn’t you, if you were boiled alive? Serve with drawn butter.

For those of you who don’t know (and I can’t remember a time that I *didn’t* know how, being from Maine), here’s how you dig into a lobster (or you can go to Cape Porpoise Lobster’s website and look at their instructions under “Nutritional Info” – complete with diagram!):

  • Start with the two big claws. Grab them at the base of the claw, where they attach to the body. Remove with a twisting/pulling motion. Using those little pick thingies you use to remove the nutmeat out of a nut (heh – that sounded nasty, huh?), remove the meat from the claw and the joints. A nutcracker may be required for harder shelled lobster to remove the meat from the main part of the claw. Rest assured, this is the *best* part of the lobster.
  • Next is the tail. Grab the tail at the base where it attaches to the body. Using a back and forth/pulling motion, remove it from the body. (Ignore the ookey green gunk in the body at this time.) At the end of the tail, observe the flat shaped flippers (usually three or four) attached. Remove these, revealing a slot at the end of the shell perfect for fitting the end of a fork into. Fit the end of a fork into it, stabbing into the tail meat. Push the meat up through the tail shell out the large opening which was where the tail was attached to the body. Remove the center vein from the top of the tail meat – this can be accomplished by grabbing the straggly pieces of meat which probably have some of that ookey green gunk on it and pulling.
  • See the set of (usually) six little legs on the underside of the body? They’ve got eeny-weeny pieces of meat in ’em. Snap off the ends of the legs and suck the meat out. Usually more work than I prefer to bother with, myself.
  • There’s rib meat on the underside of the body shell, if you break the back open and remove the “guts” of the lobster. Again, usually more work than I bother with.
  • Now we get to the Tomalley. The ookey green stuff. This is the lobster’s liver. There’s other stuff in there, too, that’s pink, and white, and gooey, and gross. All this stuff is considered a delicacy by some crazy people. All I know is, my grandmother’s cat sure as hell used to love it. Blech.

The members of our family prefer to remove all the meat from the lobster, putting it to soak in the butter as we go along, and then eat it all at once. Oh, yes, buttery messy slobbery goodness.

Crock Pot Beef Roast

25 Jan

One sirloin tip roast (or other roast of your preference)
2 beef bullion cubes dissolved in 2 cups water, or two cups regular beef broth
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 TBSP red pepper flakes
1 TBSP paprika
salt and pepper to taste
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 cup sweet yellow onion, in chunks

For gravy:
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup corn starch

Rub top, bottom, and sides of roast with crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, paprika, salt, and pepper. Pour broth into crock pot, place onion chunks in bottom of crock pot. Place seasoned roast into crock pot on top of onions. Sprinkle top of roast with Worcestershire. Cover and cook on LOW for 10 hours (that seems to be the perfect amount of time for a really moist roast).

If you’re making potatoes to go with the roast, you can peel and quarter them and add them into the crock pot with the onions (add about a half-cup to a cup more broth). My family doesn’t happen to like the taste when the potatoes cook with the meat, so I leave them out. The roast is also good served over rice.

roastGravy

After removing the roast and onions (and potatoes or other veggies, if you added them) from the crock pot, pour the broth into a large sauce pan. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling. Meanwhile, combine milk and corn starch until smooth. Gradually add mixture to boiling broth, stirring constantly. Broth will thicken into gravy very quickly.

Crock Pot Chili

25 Jan

2 cans (16 oz ea) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans (16 oz ea) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans (16 oz ea) tomato sauce (I used Ragu’s Seasoned Tomato Sauce for Chili)
1 can (16 oz) diced tomatoes (I used Ragu’s diced tomatoes with green peppers, celery, and onions)
1 1/2 lbs. hamburger
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed or minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. Worcestershire
2 tbsp. Green Tabasco
1 tbsp. Cholula (optional – we use it in EVERYTHING)
1 tbsp. liquid from a jar of Pepperocini peppers (trust me)
1/2 cup water

shredded cheese and sour cream (for garnish)

Sautee chopped onion and crushed garlic in olive oil over medium heat, until onions are barely golden. Add hamburger and cook until browned. Drain.

Dump all the beans, all the tomato sauce, and the diced tomatoes into the crock pot. Add hamburger mixture and stir well. Add remaining ingredients (except cheese and sour cream) and stir well again. Turn the crock pot on low and allow to cook for four hours. It’s ready at that point, but it can hang out safely in the crock pot all day – the longer it sits, the better it is!

Garnish with your favorite chili toppings – we use shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream. The flavor has a little bit of a bite without being overwhelming (that is, too hot). Folks who like Four Alarm Chili would do well to add no more than a tablespoon of Cayenne pepper.

Incredible Crock Pot Meatloaf

25 Jan

meatloaf

2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
2/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs (I use the Italian Seasoned kind)
2 tablespoons grated onion, or 2 tsp onion powder, or a half-packet of Lipton’s dry onion soup mix
1 clove crushed garlic, or 2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1 tablespoon Cholula or Tabasco (optional)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (not-so-optional)
salt and pepper to taste (we use Nature’s Seasoning)
1 pound ground buffalo (bison), 1/2 pound lean ground beef, 1/2 pound ground pork (not sausage)
Sliced jalapenos (nacho-style, optional)
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Gravy
Meatloaf drippings, strained
1/4 cup corn starch
2+tbsp milk (enough to completely dissolve the corn starch)
1 cup beef bullion or broth

In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, sage, Cholula/Tabasco, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Add the meat and mix thoroughly (the best part is getting the meat under your fingernails – woo!). Shape by hand into a 9×5-inch rectangle or oval, and carefully place it in the crock pot. Sprinkle additional Worcestershire and/or Cholula/Tabasco over top. Place sliced jalapenos on top of loaf. Cover and cook on LOW for six hours (and really, you can’t overcook the thing – it’s been in the crock pot for 7 or 8 hours before and turned out just fine).

To remove it from the crock pot, slide a flexible spatula underneath and carefully lift out. Sometimes I use two, coming at it from each side. Place on a platter and top with shredded cheddar cheese, then cover with foil and let it “rest” for about five minutes.

I’ve provided instructions for both the sauce and the gravy, to put on top of the meatloaf. My family prefers the gravy, although I love the sauce, too.

Sauce – Combine ketchup, brown sugar, mustard and nutmeg in a small bowl. Pour mixture over meat. Turn control to HIGH. Cover and cook on high for 15 minutes. Slice and serve meatloaf.

Gravy – Remove meatloaf from crockpot. Pour juices and drippings through a strainer into a saucepan. Put saucepan on stove on high heat and immediately whisk in beef broth. Bring to a boil. Combine cornstarch with milk in a bowl or measuring cup. When drippings are boiling, gradually add corn starch, whisking constantly, until you have achieved the desired consistency (it may not require all of the corn starch, or it may require more). Slice and serve meatloaf with gravy.

Alterations/Serving Suggestions:

  • Add a packet of onion soup mix to the meat mixture in place of onion and garlic.
  • Meatloaf Billy Style – Put a slice of Texas Toast on a plate. Add a slice of meatloaf. Top with mashed potatoes. Top mashed potatoes with a spoonful of canned corn (warmed). Cover all with gravy, salt, pepper, Worcestershire, Cholula, and a dab of Ranch dressing. Groan as you can feel your arteries clogging.
  • Killer Meatloaf Sandwich – Prepare two slices of bread by buttering one side of each slice, and putting mayonnaise or Miracle Whip on the other side of each slice. Assemble sandwich such that the buttered sides of the bread are on the *outside*. Fill the sandwich with a thin slice of meatloaf, a spreading of ketchup, a slice of pepper-jack cheese, salt, and pepper. Place the assembled sandwich in a frying pan warmed over medium/high heat, and fry until both sides are golden brown (as in a grilled cheese sandwich).

As you can tell, clearly this household obsesses over this meatloaf. If anybody out there decides to make this, drop me a line and let me know how it turned out, okay?

Crock Pot Beef Stew

25 Jan

2 lbs stew meat, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 large potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1 inch cubes
2 cups (or more or less to your taste) peeled baby carrots, halved
1/2 onion, cut into chunks
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 lb whole mushrooms, stemmed and cut into halves (optional)
4 cups beef broth (I make it with good ol’ bouillon cubes)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
seasoned salt/pepper
tenderizer
bay leaf
Worcestershire

1/4 cup corn starch, mixed with 1/4 cup of water
2 cups frozen baby sweet peas (more or less to taste)
Chopped parsley (optional)

Mix stew meat in a large bowl with crushed garlic, tenderizer, salt/pepper, and Worcestershire to taste. Use your hands! It’s fun, and it makes you “one” with your culinary concoction. Just remember to wash your hands first. And afterward. Allow meat to marinate while preparing veggies. Place all veggies (except peas), meat, bay leaf, and one cup of beef broth into crockpot, mix thoroughly. Pour remaining beef broth over all. Turn crockpot to Low and cook for at least 8 hours, 10 hours is best if you like the meat to break up and mix in. During last 15 minutes of cooking time, turn crockpot to High. Add baby sweet peas and corn starch mixture (to thicken broth), and stir in. Stir in chopped parsley. Makes a huge amount (servings sizes have not been estimated as sometimes Calvin will stand there and eat it right out of the pot).

Walnut Chews

25 Jan

Great for Christmas!

Bottom Layer
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten

Top Layer
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, or a half-cup of each
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 13×9 pan. Bottom Layer: Mix ingredients and press into pan. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Top Layer: Mix ingredients together and spread on top of cooled bottom layer. Bake 350 F for 25 minutes till golden brown. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Salmon Loaf

25 Jan

I. Love. This. Stuff. I’ve never made it for my family, because the very name makes them poo-pooh it. It’s not “fishy” or anything like that. It’s rich and delicate and awesome. This was a frequent winter dinner at Grandma’s house. She’d serve it with a cream sauce, but I liked it plain. We’d usually either have scalloped potatoes or rice pilaf along with it.

(Edited 3/22/08 to clarify and adjust some ingredients for better outcome.)

– 1 1 lb can red salmon, drained and flaked (reserve liquid)
– 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
– salt and pepper to taste
– 3 tbsp. lemon juice
– 2 tbsp. grated onion
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 3 tbsp. chopped FRESH parsley (1 tbsp dried is fine, but fresh is better)
– 1 tsp dill
1 cup soft bread crumbs (I coarsely grate fresh bread)
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Drain salmon, reserve liquid in small bowl. Flake salmon into a medium bowl. Mix thoroughly with butter. Season with salt, pepper, onion, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, and dill.

In a separate bowl, soak bread crumbs in milk. Add the beaten eggs and mix well. Add bread mixture to salmon mixture and combine well. If the mixture seems too dry, add reserved liquid from canned salmon a little bit at a time until desired consistency.

Thoroughly grease a casserole dish (8×8, 9×9, or 10×10). Spoon mixture evenly into casserole and bake for 45 minutes at 325 degrees. Serve from casserole dish, or loosen edges and turn onto a platter.

salmon loaf

Elegant Chicken

25 Jan

This is another of her “cook it until they’re sick of it” chicken recipes. This one I make every now and then for my family, because really, how can you go wrong with chicken and rice? One word of warning, though – the rice can easily be undercooked, so test it before you serve it.

1 1/4 cups uncooked rice (instant works well, too – use 2 1/2 to 3 cups)
1/2 cup sherry wine
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 stick of margarine or butter, melted
4 whole chicken breasts
3 oz sliced almonds
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
paprika to taste

Place rice in bottom of oblong dish. Mix soups with a single can of water, margarine, and sherry. Take 1 1/2 cup of the mixture (or 2 1/2 cups for instant rice) and mix with the rice in the casserole dish. Place chicken breasts over rice, pour the rest of the soup mixture over the chicken and rice. Sprinkle with paprika, almonds, and parmesan. Bake at 300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours, or until done.