Archive for February, 2011

Recipe: Easy Friday –

|February 27, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Well – It's Friday and I just don't want to cook today.  I made tuna macaroni salad (yes, I used the stove – but it didn't take long to make at all ) and we were all wishing for tuna fish.

And you know my views on tuna fish – and it has nothing to do with dolphin bashing or any other thing that goes on out in the waters that we cannot control. 

It's just like everything else in the supermarkets and on the shelves – smaller cans, higher prices.  It's getting to the point that you can get tuna on sale – 10 cans for $10.00.  But it's not worth it.

Can sizes have changed – years ago it was 7 1/2 ounces and it had tuna in it.  Now, it's down to 5 ounces and it's mostly liquid.  Once drained, you're left with tiny shreds of nothing – I won't even call it "flaked" at all.

So, I went to Wal Mart and bought myself a can of tuna.

Now that is what you call a can of tuna!  Weighing in at 4 pounds, 2.5 ounces = 66.5 ounces of REAL tuna – BIG chunks of tuna – not whatever shreds of nothing they scraped from the tuna's tail!

For the math – 66.5 ounces is equal to about 13 – 14 cans shrink-a-dink mystery cans.  That means – it's mystery tuna – you're not sure of what those little shreds are or what part of the tuna they came from.

IF and I mean IF, you find those stinking little cans on sale – that would be $13 – $14 for that amount and it wouldn't even be real tuna.  I paid $9.18 and I have REAL tuna to enjoy! 

After draining my tuna, a placed a healthy spoonful in the bowl I was using to make my tuna macaroni salad.  To this I added 6 hard cooked eggs, a generous helping of sweet pickle relish, minced celery, and 1/2 sweet onion (diced).

The remaining tuna was mixed with 1/2 sweet onion (diced), minced celery, a generous helping of sweet pickle relish and mayonnaise.

Meanwhile, I cooked my mini penne al dente, drained and rinsed well under cold water; drained well and added to my prepped ingredients.  Seasoned with Kosher salt and cracked black pepper; mixed in my mayonnaise.

And what did I do with these egg eyes?  Those were the center sliced from each hard cooked egg.

I placed them on top as a garnish and sprinkled with paprika, 

And I got to enjoy my tuna "slyders" – stuffing my split dinner rolls with tuna salad with a helping of tuna macaroni salad. 

Add some bread and butter pickles – works for me! 

And is there too much tuna salad?  It's a great spread on crackers for snacking – better than chips.  I will also make panini with some and stiff some pita bread tomorrow!















Recipe: Amish Apple Cake

|February 26, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

This is another popular cake in our home.

I’ve also drizzled this cake with an easy glaze of sifted confectioners’** sugar and a bit of milk or water instead of the Hot Caramel Sauce.


Preheat oven to 350* F. Oil (using corn oil) a 9-inch round cake pan; set aside.

In large bowl, cream until fluffy:
½ cup butter (1 stick) (not margarine)
Add and continue beating:
1 cup sugar

Add and beat well:
1 large egg

In medium bowl, whisk until well blended and add to creamed mixture:
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ – ½ teaspoon nutmeg (depending on preference)

Mix well and stir in:
2 ½ cups apple, peeled, cored, finely chopped (Granny Smith is good for this)
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
½ teaspoon vanilla extract**

Pour into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched with your finger. Serve with Hot Caramel Sauce.


Hot Caramel Sauce
This is a nice dessert sauce!

In heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt:
½ cup butter (1 stick) (not margarine)
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed**
½ teaspoon Kosher salt

Bring to boil; remove from heat and whisk in:
1 teaspoon vanilla extract**
½ cup evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed)

Serve warm sauce over cake.


**You can easily make your own when in a pinch or to save money!

Recipe: Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel) – Pennsylvania Dutch

|February 26, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

We are apple lovers! Apple cakes, pies, cookies, strudel, dumplings, cobblers – you name it – we enjoy them very much.


Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel) – Pennsylvania Dutch

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons shortening
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup warm water
5 cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed**
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cups nuts, chopped (we like walnuts for this)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Zest from one lemon

Sift flour and salt together in large bowl; cut in shortening; add eggs and water; mix well. Turn out onto floured surface and knead. Beat dough against board or surface until it blisters.

Cover and let dough rest for 20 in warm spot.

Preheat oven to 400* F.

Meanwhile combine remaining ingredients in bowl.

Cover work area with a clean white lintless cloth and flour it (I use lintless flour sack towels). Transfer dough to cloth and stretch very carefully to a thin thickness.

Spread with apple mixture.

Fold in outer edges and roll about 4-inches wide. Bake in 450* F. oven for 10 minutes – REDUCE HEAT TO 375* F. and continue to bake another 25 – 30 minutes or until done.
Cool on wire rack. Slice to serve.

If desired, when cool drizzle with an simple icing of sifted confectioners’ sugar** and water.

NOTE: I sometimes bake for someone that is cinnamon-sensitive and I have left out the cinnamon and this was still good!


**You can easily make your own when in a pinch or to save money!

Recipe: Apples, Apples, Apples – Fall 2009

|February 26, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

It’s time for harvesting once again, and of course, apple picking is something we have done for years. Each year we would pick bushels and bushels of apples.

Although apples are around all year – it seems that the fall of the year is apple season and that is when they seem to taste best. And it’s nice to have a good variety of apples to enjoy!

Apples that "go to pieces" when cooked are usually best for applesauce; those that keep their shape are best for baking whole. Tart apples are good for cooking; sweeter apples, for eating raw.

Whether you buy them just for eating, or for baking and cooking – here’s a few tips to help you in your apple selection:

Aceymac are quite similar to McIntosh in taste, appearance, shape and flesh but a bit firmer – close to Spartan.

Blushing Golden has almost half it’s surface covered with a dirty orange-pink blush with rough skin that is bruise resistant and doesn’t shrivel. It’s yellowish white flesh has a sub acid flavor and a fermented aftertaste.

Buff/Granny Buff is a large sized apple with a flat, rectangular convex shape; ribbed at the eye and prominently on the body. Its flesh is fine-grained greenish-white – crisp and sweetly flavored.

Chestnut Crab is a large cooking/dessert crab apple that is reddish/bronze in color. It’s flesh is crisp, sweet and juicy with a pleasant nut-like flavor.

Chieftan are medium in size, round and bright red. It’s white flesh is firm and juicy with a flavor that is sub acid – milder than a Jonathan but more sprightly than Delicious.

Cortland is a hybrid that is ideal for snacking and salads having a white crisp flesh and doesn’t brown easily when sliced like other varieties do.

Crispin/Mutsu is said to make the very best pies, but is also a good snacking apple.

Delicious/Golden Delicious is one of the best eating apples that can also be used in salads, baking, pies and sauces. Large and conic shaped, crispy and juicy with a mild distinctive flavor.

Delicious/Red Delicious has a deep red skin over a sweet flavored flesh. Good to use in salads and great for snacking but not often recommended for cooking.

Earligold is a Washington State apple of medium size with a clean yellow skin.

Empire apples are New York grown – between McIntosh and Red Delicious with a dark red skin and a creamy white juicy flesh that is sub acid. Good for making cider.

Empress are medium-sized apples that are excellent for eating and similar to Jonamacs.

Fuji are a tall, medium fruit with a yellowish-green skin that has an orangish red flush and darker stripes. Fuji are crisp, with a slightly sub acid white flesh. These keep well.

Gala/Royal Gala are a yellow-skinned apple with bright orange-red on it. These are firm, juicy and have a yellow-white flesh with a sweet/slightly tart flavor.

Gala Supreme are similar to Gala with striped red color and a snappy sweet flavor.

Granny Smith is a green, crisp, tart apple which is an excellent keeper and usually used in pies and baking.

Idareds are a good keeping apple and great for eating. They are pale green-yellow with bright crimson-red striping, firm and have a pleasant flavor. Used in baking and sauces.

Jerseymacs are medium-sized apples with yellow-green splashes having a crisp, juicy flesh and a tart flavor.

Jonagold are a large fruit striped red over yellow with a firm, crackling, juicy flesh – slightly tart, rich, full flavor. These are excellent for eating and for desserts.

Jonalicious has the taste of a Red Delicious and the tartness of Jonathan with a crisp flesh making it ideal for eating and cooking.

Jonamac is a cross between a Jonathan and McIntosh with a firm, crisp flavor similar to McIntosh.

Jonathan is a good eating apple and keeps well. Mediums-sized fruit with red striping having a crisp, juicy flesh with a sub acid taste.

Liberty is a McIntosh type apple that is large, red blush covering nearly all the yellow fruit. It’s flavor develops during storage.

Macoun is between a McIntosh and Jersey Black – shaped like a McIntosh with more striping and deeper red coloring – dark purple over a green background; firm, aromatic and excellent for eating.

McIntosh is a deep red fruit having white, firm flesh that is tender and juicy.

Mutsu/Crispin a good eating apple, good for sauces and cider – ripens to yellow.

Niagra apples are medium to large in size with deep red blush and stripe over pale yellow tough skins having white flesh that is similar to McIntosh, very sweet and juicy.

Northern Spy/Red Spy, Red Northern Spy are large, round greenish-yellow fruit with pinkish red stripes or russet patches. Firm, but yet tender, crisp and juicy yellowish flesh. Good in sauces and pies.

Paula Red is a good eating apple that is small to medium in size with a mild taste.

Rome Beauty is a very round fruit, medium to large in size having a thick skin, great for baking or drying. Not suitable for drying because of its dryish flesh.

Spartans are a medium sized dark red (almost mahogany) dessert quality apples having a pure white flesh, crisp and sweet with some acidity. Firmer than McIntosh.

Sweet Winesap is great for desserts and baking, has a tough skin of pale yellow or green with bright light red stripes having a nearly white, firm flesh that is moderately crisp, tender, juicy and distinctly sweet.

Winesap are medium sized dark red fruit with crisp, juicy yellow flesh with a spicy flavor.

20-Ouncers have a green/yellow skin with a white flesh that is firm and mildly sweet. Great for baking and eating.

When buying:

Look for smooth skin with few bruises. Too many bruises mean the apple may rot.

Choose apples with a bright and sparkly color.


When storing:

Apples keep best when refrigerated. Store them in a plastic bag or the drawer to keep them fresh.

Check them often. Remove any decayed apples. One rotten apple can indeed spoil the whole barrel!

Raw, cut apples may darken. Prevent this by dipping them in a fruit juice like lemon, orange, grapefruit, or pineapple – before adding other ingredients.


Don’t forget to check out the apple recipes!

Recipe: Just a Basic Fish Fry

|February 26, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

For those that are interested – these are the recipes I used yesterday for my fish fry.


I made a Beer Batter for my haddock:

To begin with I had a little over 1 ½ lbs. haddock fillets

Sift about ½ cup all-purpose flour with Kosher salt to taste; add a pat or two (roughly 1 to 2 tablespoons) melted butter and a lightly beaten egg; pour in ½ cup beer (room temperature) adding gradually. Beat one egg white until stiff and stir in only until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for an hour in a warm place.

When ready to cook heat the deep fryer (I used shortening) to 375* Fahrenheit (because I wanted that protective shield formed by the batter which prevents the hot grease from penetrating the cooled food and making it greasy).

Rinse fillets with cool water and pat dry before dipping in batter; allow excess to drip off. Fry a few pieces at a time until brown and crisp; drain on paper toweling or wire racks placed over a baking sheet. Sprinkle with Kosher salt.

Keep warm in a preheated oven (190 – 200* Fahrenheit until all the fish is fried.

I decided to make some homemade fries as well and tuna croquettes.


Tuna Croquettes

Melt 2 pats of butter (about 2 tablespoons) in saucepan; add about ¼ cup all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, a few turns of the black pepper mill and mix well. Gradually stir in about 1 cup of whole milk (I always cook and bake using whole milk). I added 2 cans of tuna (drained well) and some minced fresh parsley, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, 1 lightly beaten egg.
With wet hand I formed mixture into 8 to 10 balls and rolled in fine dry breadcrumbs (I made from Italian bread – unseasoned).

Drop into the deep fryer and they are done in just a few minutes – cooking until golden; drain on paper towels or wire rack set over baking sheet. Keep warm in preheated oven until ready to serve.


Earlier in the day I made a Basic Creamy Coleslaw

I shredded about 4 cups of green/white cabbage and about 1 cup of red cabbage. I “chipped” some carrot for color.

My coleslaw dressing was approximately ½ cup mayonnaise (I used a heavy creamy mayo that I bought at the restaurant supply house), about 2 tablespoons sugar, about 1 tablespoon white vinegar and Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Whisk well and toss with cabbage/carrot mixture. Refrigerate a couple hours before serving.
When ready to serve, stir.


My potato and macaroni salads were basic –

Potato Salad

Peel and cut up potatoes, cover with cold water; bring to boil; cook until tender and drain well; cool completely. You want your potatoes cold before combining your salad.
Add hard-cooked eggs, chopped celery, chipped carrots, minced onion, chopped sweet pickles.

Coat with heavy creamy mayo mixed with a bit of yellow prepared mustard.

Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle top with paprika; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Macaroni Salad

Bring large pot of water to boil, add salt and wait for water to return to a full boil. Add pasta (I used a pound box of medium shells) and cook al dente (to the bite); drain well and rinse under cold water to cool off; drain well. You want your pasta cold before combining your salad.

Add hard-cooked eggs, chopped celery, minced onion, chipped carrot, chopped sweet pickles.

Coat with heavy creamy mayo and a bit of yellow prepared mustard.

Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle top with paprika; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Tartar Sauce

1 cup Miracle Whip (yep for this recipe)
1 teaspoon sweet pickle juice
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh parsley
3 stuffed olives, finely chopped
A sprinkle of grated white onion

Combine; cover; refrigerate until ready to serve.


And yes – I wanted enough potato and macaroni salad as well as coleslaw for two days. Today I made Chicken in a Basket.

Recipe: Replenishing the pantry – My Homemade Dipping Sauce

|February 26, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Being Italian, I am a big bread and pasta lover! I like to keep a jar of my Dipping Sauce in the pantry to use for dipping bread, or for using as a sub/hoagie dressing or a dressing for a pasta salad, veggie salad or an antipasto.


¼ cup crushed red pepper
¼ cup fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup dried oregano
¼ cup dried rosemary
¼ cup dried basil
¼ cup dried parsley
¼ cup garlic powder**
¼ cup minced garlic**
1 ½ tablespoons Kosher salt

Place all ingredients in grinder and grind evenly if you like – if not, mix well. You can always grind it later using your coffee grinder, if desired.

Store airtight.


When you want to use it – mix 1 tablespoon of this mixture with olive oil (extra-virgin preferred). You can adjust the flavor the way you want.

Dip warm bread into mixture and enjoy!


If making subs/hoagies/panini sandwiches – I combine this mixture in a plastic bottle similar to a plastic ketchup or mustard bottle and shake and squeeze on the bread as a dressing. It can also be used with mayo/salad dressing on sandwiches for a little extra "zing" in the flavor. Try on your next salad!

I went to a beauty supply house and bought several different sizes of hair dye applicator bottles that I use in my pantry. You can cut the tips as large as you would like for many uses. Those bottles are used for salad dressings, chocolates, syrups, icing cookies with designs, BBQ sauces, etc.
Just use your imagination!


**Homemade ingredients

NOTE: Make a smaller batch of this by using 1 tablespoon of everything except the salt – use only 1 teaspoon of that.

Recipe: Replenishing the pantry – Steak and Shake

|February 26, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Here’s something I put together quite a while ago. I call it my Steak and Shake.

I drizzle a bit of olive oil on my steak and sprinkle with this fabulous mixture – doing both sides and rubbing the seasoning into the meat. Place in a glass baking dish and let it sit for 30 to 60 minutes (covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator) before cooking. Great grilled, baked, or skilled prepared!

½ cup garlic powder**
½ cup paprika
2 tablespoons dried thyme
¼ cup dried oregano
¼ cup fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 ½ tablespoons lemon pepper**
1 ½ tablespoons cayenne pepper

Combine mixing well and store airtight in your pantry. Goes well on steaks, pork, chicken and fish.

** homemade ingredients

Now that summer is winding down, it's time to start to prepare for the months ahead – probably the busiest months of the year.

Knowing I wouldn't have enough vanilla for the holidays, I picked up a bottle of vodka and my vanilla beans. Between the end of September and mid-October it will be ready to use.

I've prepared a 2-quart jar with sugar and popped in vanilla beans and I've placed a couple in a large glass container of confectioners' sugar.

You may ask why I bother to make my own vanilla extract when I can easily purchase it from the supermarket. It's preference.

Throughout the years I think I've tried just about every brand of vanilla – both extract and imitation. And of course, I don't feel that the "good" ones from years ago have the same flavor and hold up under temperatures when baking like they used to. Just like anything else, a good brand is usually the best – but many times they too change with the times. (Let's face it – what doesn't change!)

I've got good taste buds – and there is a definite difference in taste between brands. Those bargain brands may save you money but they are of inferior quality and their taste just dissipates during baking.

You add vanilla for flavor – why use a brand that is not going to withstand baking temperatures and leave you with no flavor?


Let's talk about vanilla beans. For flavoring wet ingredients it is best to slit the bean lengthwise. You can scrape out the seeds if you wish. Today I just slit the beans to use. The seeds will eventually fall out without scraping as I shake the jar occasionally.
Soaking the bean – whether slit or not – will release its flavor. The seeds can always be strained out.

When flavoring dry ingredients, like I did with sugars today, I just used the beans whole without slitting. The vanilla beans are evenly separated in the jars so that the sugars flavor better. In 2 to 3 weeks it will be ready to use. As the sugar levels deplete, I can add more sugar to the jars.

A friend of mine that also uses vanilla beans will remove a used bean from the liquid she was flavoring and place on paper towels to dry so that she can re-use it again. Of course the flavor is not as strong and you won’t get the potency you are looking for. But for some recipes it works.

Using the liquid forms of vanilla you have a choice between clear and dark vanilla. Clear vanilla is great for keeping white foods as white as possible, like your meringues, whipping creams, etc. The dark vanilla will leave a dingy look to them. I do have a favorite WHITE cake recipe and I have used the dark vanilla and it didn’t make it look dingy at all. So once again – it’s preference.

I like to use vanilla powder in recipes as well. Not too easy to find though. It’s great because it doesn’t color foods at all. Works well with dry ingredients or wet ingredients without any lumps occurring. For icings and frostings I use my flavored confectioners’ sugar that I make – it’s easier than trying to find vanilla powder when you really need it.

Regardless of whether you make your own vanilla products or purchase them at the supermarket – just store in a cool, dark place, away from sunlight and humidity and your flavor will be there for you. Heat, humidity and sunlight sap the flavors. And remember to keep your vanilla beans in a tightly sealed container – you do not want moisture to enter. Keep liquid vanilla in its original glass bottles or plastic bottles they were purchased in. Powdered needs to be kept in a tightly sealed container or sealed plastic container. Don’t store powdered vanilla in a glass jar unless it is a brand new jar – never used for anything before.

Pre-used jars will carry the smells of what was previously stored in it no matter how well you clean it out. The powder will absorb those smells and it will weaken its flavor.

When buying vanilla beans, always look for a bean with full aroma, and oily to the touch, as well as sleep looking. Avoid the beans with little scent, are smoky, brittle or dry, or are mildewed.

Don’t let anyone tell you to split the bean, scrape out the seeds and toss the bean away! TOTAL WASTE. That bean is filled with flavor!

If you are going to try to “recycle” your vanilla bean, rinse and dry thoroughly before using again. If used several times, you can grind them up to add additional flavors to ice creams, cookies, etc.

If your beans have dried a bit and seem withered you can still try to salvage them by dehydrating in warm liquid. The flavor will still be there. Don’t try to split dry beans until they are dehydrated.

These beans will keep indefinitely if properly stored. Never refrigerate them – they will harden and crystallize. If you live in a humid climate, wrap in waxed paper and store in a tin box. If you are in a cooler, dryer climate you can store them in a glass jar or plastic bag. No plastic bags should be used for storing them in a humid climate – they will mildew easily.

As far as using vanilla sugar and vanilla confectioners’ sugar – use in any desired recipe as you would regular sugar or confectioners’ sugar.

Recipe: Chicken-in-A-Basket

|February 25, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Yesterday was easy cooking – since I had made enough potato salad, macaroni salad and coleslaw for two days – All I had to make was my breaded chicken.

I used thighs and chicken breasts – both with skin and bones. Thoroughly wash chicken pieces in cold water and salt; rinse well and pat dry.

I soaked the chicken pieces in buttermilk (covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator) overnight. For 3 pounds of chicken pieces I used about 2 cups of buttermilk which I poured in a glass 13 X 9-inch baking dish. I add chopped onion, chopped fresh garlic, minced fresh parsley, and a sprinkle of cayenne. Added a few turns of the pepper grinder and some Kosher salt. Added the chicken and turn to coat – turning several times while marinating.

Drain well in colander and discard milk. In a shallow dish I combined fresh fine dry breadcrumbs (made from crusty Italian bread), homemade garlic salt, homemade onion salt, paprika, dried parsley flakes and a few grinds from the pepper mill.

Dredge chicken in coating, pressing to coat well and place in single layer on large platter to rest for a bit.

Heat shortening to 365* Fahrenheit. Deep fry in batches until golden and cooked through. Drain on paper towels or on wire rack placed over baking sheet.

Keep warm in preheated 200* Fahrenheit oven until all chicken is cooked.

Served in wicker baskets lined with deli wrap with salads and coleslaw and homemade biscuits.

Simple Biscuits

1 cup self-rising flour
½ cup whole milk
Scant ¼ cup mayonnaise (not salad dressing)

Combine ingredients mixing well; drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet and bake in preheated 375* Fahrenheit oven for 18 – 20 minutes or until done.

Yes – I am still complaining about this heat and humidity – it’s been non-stop for months!

Today I cheated a bit in the kitchen – for lunch I made hoagies on some nice bomber rolls!

Cotto salami
Tomato (sliced thin)
Fresh ground black pepper

Tummy filling and no heat involved.
But then dinner time rolls around – so I had to cook “fast” –

Skillet fried Polish sausage topped with onions on hotdog rolls,, with baked beans and corn on the cob.

And tons of iced tea!

I'm also the type that tops my hotdogs and sausages by placing my onions on the roll first, then the rest of the condiments, then the sausage or hot dog. I don't lose my onions that way! LOL