Archive for the 'Vegetables' Category

Recipe: It’s Ash Wednesday – already

|February 22, 2012|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

It's hard to believe that it is already Ash Wednesday.  It seems like this new year is going to fly by quite fast!  It's a no-meat day – actually – it's a day of fasting.  Then it's the Wednesday and Friday no meat days.  At least that is how it has been in my family.

It's still tax season – and yes, I do taxes – although I have cut it way down and I only do a few close friends now.  I don't want the headaches and I don't want to do taxes past April 15th.  I did taxes for so many years – and I am ready to retire from it completely – except for a handful of close friends.

I'm still trying to use up as much yarn as possible to get rid of it.  And it's that time of the year when my babies' school has their Chinese auction and theme baskets.

Princess is in 7th grade now and they no longer expect the 7th and 8th graders to participate.  Instead they use them the night of the auction to run around the gynmasium delivering the baskets that parents have won.  Some of those "baskets" weigh a ton!  I have seen some pretty large laundry baskets overflowing with goodies!

They even auction off a bike, Sabres jerseys, Buffalo Bills items, etc. and they do make a bundle on it each year.

Last year the kids classes both did "baking" baskets.  Well I wrote and donated a baking book which really was quite popular!  Everyone wanted it.  I did email copies to those that wanted it – and I am thinking of sending out to my members if they want it.

This year the little guy's class theme is MOVIE NIGHT.  So I am presently working on a Movie Munchies cookbook.  And I have decided that I will also make a movie basket of goodies, add another cookbook to it, and have him donate that as well to the school.  It will make him feel extra special. 

That sent me "dumpster diving" at WalMart.  You know – those wire bins they toss movies in for $5 each.  I'm going with classics – I found 20 Alfred Hitchcock movies in one DVD case, and 25 John Wayne movies in another case, and 200 classic cartoons (from the good ol' days) in another case.  I want to go back to pick up several more DVD's and possibly a DVD player as well as popcorn, popcorn salt, etc.  If the DVD players are a bit too pricy – then it's going to be a popcorn machine.  We'll see.  But I need to get it all together within the next week or so!

No pics – but some goodies I have made –

I made a scalloped cabbage dish to go with pork steaks – really easy and good!

Just chop your cabbage into 1-inch peices and par-boil for about 10 minutes; drain well.  Toss in your casserole with some medium/thick white sauce and a bit of ground black pepper.  I also added steamed sliced carrots.  Really perked up the flavor.  Topped with some plain bread crumbs and dotted with butter – 350* F. to heat through.  Additional white sauce drizzle over the pork steaks which I just skillet fried in olive oil, seasoned with the basics – Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, garlic, onion powder, parsley.

Quite easy to make – and a hit!


Since I had cabbage left over, a few days later I made some lazy cabbage rolls.  Couldn't make regular cabbage rolls because I had cut up the head of cabbage in such a way I couldn't.  but where there is a will there's a way –

While I was cooking my ground beef in the skillet (the basic seasonings and in olive oil), I was chopping and par-boiling my cabbage.  Before my meat was cooked, I added some grated onion and finely minced red bell pepper – not alot – just enough.   I also cheated because I had leftover rice from the night before from a different meal and I used that.  I drained my meat mixture and cabbage, added the rice and tossed in tomato soup (partially diluted) and transferred to my casserole.  Once again – 350* F. until heated through.  Fresh hot rye rolls and a salad of greens topped it off.

It's been such a mild winter but it's been a comfort food one as well.

I hope you give the recipes a try – just eyeball it all – you'll do just fine!

Stay warm!



Recipe: Fries with some zing!

|October 23, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

I wasn't raised on hot and spicy foods so I am not a really big fan of them.  But occasionally, I like some ZING to something.

After opening and closing the fridge a dozen times, wanting to have something to pick on (you know how that goes – nothing seems to look good at the time) I decided instead to head to the potato basket.  (I know – a far cry from the fridge!)

I scrubbed and sliced some new potatoes into 1/4 inch slices.  I was in the mood for fries.  And who said they had to be cut into fingers anyway?

I tossed them in olive oil and placed on my baking sheet – once again – too lazy too pull out the deep fryer.  By the time the fat got hot enough to cook anything in my oven fries would be done.

Baked at 350 – 375* F., turning half-way through cooking time.  I like them with that nice golden color and a bit "crusty".

Meanwhile, I wanted a different flavor and a bit of zing so I combined about 1/4 cup Kosher salt, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon onion powder, and 1 tablespoon garlic powder, and a few grinds of fresh large ground black pepper (once again I eye-balled everything).  Once they were done I sprinkled with my mixture – both sides, then I sprinkled some fresh grated Cheddar over the tops and placed in the oven for a minute – just long enough to slightly melt the cheese (I prefer my cheese on my taters and not my baking sheet.)

Served with a mixture of ketchup with some prepared mustard for a quick dipping sauce.

Yeah I know – but it was good and satisfied my craving.  And I didn't miss any of my movie!

Jalepeno monterey would haver been good on this as well!


Happy munchin'!!!



Recipe: Broccoli Soup in a jiffy

|October 14, 2011|read comments (2)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

No I have not gotten rid of the "bug" yet – and I probably will have it the rest of my life or as long as I hang around my babies.  Their entire school is contaminated – I swear it – and it's going 'round and 'round.

So it's the quickest way to make broccoli soup for me right now!

In my soup pot:

2 qts. cold water

1/2 diced onion

2 large carrots – cut any old way today

9 chicken bouillon cubes

cracked black pepper


just a bit of Kosher salt

Just bring to a simmer and allow to simmer until carrots are crisp-tender.  I don't want them mushy. 

Then add:

1 bag (16 oz.) frozen broccoli cuts

Heat until hot and then pour in the milk; and as I have said before – just heat through – do not boil milk.

No – I did not puree it.  That is not how I wanted my soup.

Add some crackers and a quick an easy broccoli soup for all!


Recipe: Roasted Chicken = Chicken Soup

|October 9, 2011|read comments (4)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

It's been a rough couple weeks – and with no time for anything and I've not shared dinners and baking with you. Shame on me!

It's the fall of the year – I've been busy replenishing the pantry and making fresh spice mixes and baking mixes, etc., stocking up on canned goods slowly for the winter months which are fast approaching, writing more recipes that I've come up with (which I will share when I get them perfected to where I want) and I'm crocheting blankets and bedspreads – which I am always doing anyway. With this summer being so hot, I did no crocheting or knitting. But I enjoy making blankets and bedspreads and giving them to others. And I need to finish up several so I can start new ones.

It's a beautiful fall day today – and I roasted a chicken. Cut off the butt, cleaned out all the yuck and gave it a nice salt bath – drizzled with a bit of olive oil and seasoned with Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, parsley, onion powder, garlic, paprika, and I placed fresh celery (with the leaves) and a carrot inside the cavity after seasoning that as well. Covered, 350* F. and done in 2 hours, turning him over to brown his back. I uncovered him for some time to brown his front too.

I whipped up a quickie gravy.

Served with Louisiana yams which I boiled in their skin (until tender), peeled and topped with pats of butter, seasoned with salt and pepper and peas in butter with salt and pepper. Biscuits finished off the meal for us.

While the chicken was just about done, I peeled my carrots, washed my celery and celery leaves, and quartered an onion. Added 4 chicken bouillon cubes. Once the bird was done, I immediately stripped the skin off him while steaming hot, removed the meat to a serving platter and placed the skin, back, and wings in the soup pot. Added cold water and my bowl of veggies – soups on the stove now.

Then I will strain that and transfer the clear broth to a clean pot, add my veggies and noodles, some of the cooked, diced chicken and make a pot of soup. I'll adjust my seasonings then. I'll have soup for tomorrow to enjoy with homemade bread for soppin'!

Recipe: soup in a hurry –

|October 9, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Who has time for anything these days?

Yesterday was one of those days – and it seems like lately just about every day is a "rush" day.

After taking the babies to school I ran to the market to get milk. I wanted soup but I would have to make a soup that can be done in a hurry. No time for all the straining and skimming, etc.

So while I was at the market I grabbed a package of polish kielbasa. Easy and fast soup.

I had so much to do and no time for anything – so I ran in the door after going to the market, hung up my coat and put my keys and purse away. Put away the milk, washed my hands and grabbed a large soup pot, filled with cold water and placed over medium heat on the stove. Immediately dropped in 6 chicken bouillon cubes. Grabbed an onion out of the fridge – I had about 3/4 of a medium sweet onion from making salad the day before,pulled the carrots and the celery out of the drawer, washed a couple stalks of celery and 3 large carrots; cleaned the carrots and sliced; sliced the celery adding a healthy dose of fresh celery leaves – minced and diced the onion. Not much Kosher salt is needed because of the bouillon cubes.

Sliced a half of the 3-pound package of sausage and added to pot with parsley and cracked black pepper.

Bring to simmer over medium heat – very little skimming with this – and when the sausage was cooked through, added egg noodles and chopped green cabbage. Cook until noodles and cabbage are tender.

My actual prep time was less than 10 minutes!

Served with Italian bread for soppin'.

Recipe: Creamed “Refrigerator” Soup

|October 1, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

It's been two solid weeks of this flu – I must be very lovable because it just will not leave me. Just when you think it is going away, and you start to feel better for (almost) a day – then it knocks you back down.  Seems like everyone has it too.

Soups – homemade soups – that has helped me so much. Everything from chicken noodle, creamy onion, sausage and cabbage, tomato rice and today's concoction –

Creamy "Refrigerator" Soup

It's to the point that whatever is in the fridge is going into the soup – something has to help with this flu.

I melted a bit of butter in my soup pot, then I added a LARGE diced onion and 2 stalks of celery (diced), minced celery leaves, kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper, parsley and a bit of water – just to soften for a bit – which of course I am sick and impatient so I immediately added about 6 to 7 cups water and some instant chicken bouillon.

I know the onion and the cracked pepper will help.

Cleaned and sliced 3 skinny carrots – those were the ones hidden in the middle of the bag – added to pot.

There's a ham steak in the fridge and I cannot eat a whole ham steak – way too much for me. So I cut off a piece to enjoy with some pineapple for tomorrow's dinner and I diced up the rest of the ham steak and added that.

Bring to boil and simmer for about 20 minutes; add diced cabbage and frozen peas; simmer until cabbage is tender. Add milk and heat through – do not boil milk!

Even if you're not ailing – it's still a very good soup!

Recipe: Creamed Spinach

|September 21, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

I've gotten some emails on this as to why I don't add some nutmeg to this recipe – and to be honest with you – I wouldn't.  I prefer my nutmeg (sparingly) in my baked goods – that is how we like it and that is how I do it.

If you want to add nutmeg – be my guest – many would like it – but it would never go over in my house.

Creamed Spinach

3 lbs. fresh spinach
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon grated onion
2 cups chicken stock or milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
hard-cooked eggs for garnish – optional

I am a fresh spinach person – and I do not believe in the pre-washed spinach in a bag. As a matter of fact – I refuse to buy any of those Dole salads in a bag because it boggles my mind and I can just imagine what they do to them.

Even these fast food places use these mixes – AND THEY TASTE TERRIBLE!

Think about it – you would purchase a head of iceberg lettuce and bring it home from the market, wash and use some for salad; the remaining went into the refrigerator. And if you didn't use it within the week it turned funny and it would start to get that stale taste.

Along comes Dole (and others) selling pre-packaged and ready-to-eat salad mixes. They are sitting on the produce shelves for how long???? With an expiration date of next month or so????? Sorry – we ingest enough additives, preservatives, and unwanted chemicals now as it is. I buy FRESH – and if it doesn't last for 4 to 6 weeks (which I would not expect it to) then it's my loss. I am much too fussy on what I buy, cook, serve and eat for this junk.

Wash spinach several times in cold water to remove all sand; cut off and discard any tough stems. Place spinach in pot with only water that clings to the leaves; cover. Cook until spinach is wilted, then drain well and chop very fine.

Heat butter in skillet. Add flour and onion and cook, stirring, until brown. Gradually add stock, stirring constantly until thickened and smooth.

Add spinach, salt and pepper to taste; simmer for several minutes. Garnish with chopped or sliced egg hard-cooked eggs, if desired.


Recipe: Pumpkins

|September 21, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

And what about the pumpkins??

Halloween is over. Is it the end of your pumpkin as well?


I am a fall baby – it’s my favorite time of the year. I love to grow pumpkins – especially sugar pumpkins – they are great for baking and cooking. Come September – as soon as I have “the perfect pumpkin” – it’s washed and sitting in my kitchen for beauty. It’s cousins in the garden are not so lucky.

Along comes Halloween and you find hundreds and hundreds of pumpkins on porches and decks, lining driveways, etc. all ready to be carved. The pumpkin carvings that some do are absolutely beautiful. We see anything from the traditional pumpkin faces to intricate scenes, crosses, symbols, etc.

What is sad about this is that many just discard the pulp and the seeds.

I remember when I was a kid, we’d get a nickel from out moms and we’d rush to the store to buy a box of pumpkin seeds. Pure salt! And we loved them. Eventually I got away from them and I started enjoying homemade much better.

And the pulp always made a great pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin anything!

Although we would all love to have the world’s biggest pumpkin, I find that the smaller pumpkins that are small to medium in size are the best ones to use for baking and cooking because their flesh has a finer texture than the very large pumpkins. The “heavier” pumpkins that don’t have the hollow sound are perfect – regardless of size.

Select a ripe and firm medium pumpkin. Larger pumpkins can be used, but they begin to take on a grainy texture the larger they get. Cut open the pumpkin and remove the seeds and fibrous strings. Cut the pumpkin into four to eight pieces. Line a large baking pan aluminum foil. Place the pumpkin pieces onto the baking pan. Bake at 375* F. 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until pulp is soft. Remove the pulp from the rind with a spoon and discard the rind. Blend the pulp until smooth using a blender, food processor or mixer. To create a really thick puree, put the pulp into a cheesecloth and squeeze out excess water.

Make and use fresh puree whenever possible for the best taste and freshness. Leftover puree can be frozen for a short period of time. Canning of pumpkin puree is not recommended by the USDA.

You can also wash your pumpkin, remove the fibrous stings and seeds, cut into 2-inch cubes and boil in water till tender; drain very well; allow to cool completely.

To use – thaw in the refrigerator. If it seems a bit watery after freezing, just drain it in a strainer to remove excess liquid.

Please note the you NEVER bake a pumpkin that has been carved and sitting around for several days.

Also, if baking you pumpkin, some will use a large baking pan lined with foil and will add a little water for baking.

And – before using puree – always drain in a strainer to remove all excess liquid. Some pumpkins are very moist.

Pumpkins can be peeled before or after cooking – it’s your choice and it depend on how much you are preparing. If baking, always peel after baking.

To make pumpkin seeds:

After removing the seeds from the pumpkin, wash in warm water and dry. Place on baking sheet, drizzle with oil or melted butter, sprinkle with salt; bake 45 minutes in preheated oven, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted

For seasoned pumpkin seeds:

Toss pumpkin seeds in a bowl with the melted butter or oil and seasonings
of your choice before baking (some add after baking – experiment and see how you like it done):

Seasoning salt – simple enough
Cheesy Pumpkin Seeds- sprinkle with Cheesy popcorn seasoning.
Tex-Mex Style- Sprinkle powdered Taco seasoning onto the seeds. This is better mixed in a bowl first. Add more red pepper powder for a really hot seed!
Cajun style- Mix seeds in a bowl with a packet of cajun seasonings mix. If you like it really spicy, add extra hot sauce.
Garlic Salt- REALLY GOOD!

Just a tidbit – did you know that the canned pumpkin that is sold in the stores in 95% squash?

Are you a pumpkin lover? Whole pumpkins will store well in a cool, dry environment. Never store on the basement floor and never store near apples.

Recipe: Baked Fish, Tater Wedges, Slaw, My Bistro Tart

|September 21, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

Of course, it's Friday. A no meat day in our home. We still carry out this tradition.

It's also damp and cold – a perfect day to put the oven on – and – it's healthier to bake fish than to always have it deep-fried.

I've made my coleslaw early today –

Creamy Coleslaw

2 pounds of cabbage
2 large carrots
Minced red and green bell pepper for color and presentation (not quite half of each)
1 small onion
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/3 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 cup milk – I use whole milk in all my cooking and baking
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh or bottled is fine)

Shred cabbage and carrots with a grater or food processor.
Finely chop onion, or process in food processor. Combine cabbage, carrots, belln pepper and onion in a LARGE bowl.

Thoroughly mix remaining ingredients and pour over cabbage mixture and stir well. Refrigerate 2 hours, over night is even better, stir before serving.

My "fish butter" is made and in the refrigerator ready to go:

4 teaspoons butter (not margarine)
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
2 teaspoons lemon juice
A grind of black pepper from the pepper grinder

And the lemon is cut into slices; covered and in the refrigerator.

I've also made my coating for my fish and it's in a shallow dish covered with plastic wrap until I'm ready to bake the fish which is basically homemade bread crumbs combined with My Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning:

1/2 cup fresh ground black pepper
1 cup Kosher salt
1/3 cup dried lemon peel (you know I make my own)
1/4 cup dried minced onion (I make my own)
1/4 cup dried minced garlic (I make my own)
1/4 cup dried parsley leaves (I make my own)

Stir all the ingredients together and store in an airtight jar.

All I need to do for the fish is to rinse it off (I wash everything!) and pat dry, dredge in a flour mixture of flour, some Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper then press into coating and place on lightly oiled baking sheet – 350* F. 10 to 15 minutes (depending ont he thickenss of the fish).

I'll scrub my taters and leave the peels on and cut into wedges. I'll toss them in a bowl with melted butter, Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, fresh minced parsley, a bit of dried basil. Place skin-side down on lightly oiled baking sheet – and since these take longer I'll have them on at least 45 minutes or more before the fish goes in the oven.

My "bistro apple tart" sounds good as well –

I just roll my crust out and place on a large baking sheet; place my cut apples (using My Apple Spice Mix – posted in my blog here) in the center and pull the edges up, folding over about 2 inches coming up the apples. Center apples are not covered. Bake at 350* F. until a beautiful light golden brown and the apples are tender.

I use a double crust recipe (I don't like thin crusts) and if you want you can place the tart on parchment paper to make it easy to remove from the baking sheet to wire rack to cool. Try serving with warmed caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream; top with chopped walnuts, if desired.

And don't be afraid to add craisins, raisins, or nuts to your apple filling.

I've got rye bread which I'll slice thick and heat in the oven while the fish is baking. It's much better than toasting the bread – takes longer – but it's really good with a good bread – try it!

Recipe: Creamy Onion Soup

|September 21, 2011|read comments (0)
Author: Mama's Kitchen

 This Sunday I came down with the flu – hit me dang hard too.

Definite soup time!

Thank heaven I had homemade broth in the freezer to use – it made making a pot of soup so easy.  Just added my noodles and veggies.

For the past couple of weeks I have been craving onion soup – a nice bowl of hot, steaming, creamy onion soup.

Finally today, I felt up to making it – I still feel like crap and look like crap – but my soup was good – easy to make, easy on the budget, and so good.


I started by melted a knob of butter in my pot, adding a rough grated carrot, a stalk of celery (diced), chopped fresh celery leaves and a small cooking onion.  I let the cook just a couple minutes, adding a spoon of flour and let that cook an additional 2 minutes.

Added 6 cups water and some instant chicken bouillon; fresh cracked black pepper (which I was quite generous with to help clear up my chest), some Kosher salt, parsley, and a bit of garlic powder.

Added my diced onions and brought to a boil – let it boil about 5 minutes and then reduce the heat so that it simmers slowly for about 25 minutes – just enough to make the onions the right tenderness for me.

I then added a handful or so of instant potato flakes to use as a thickener and let that simmer for 5 minutes before pouring in approximately a cup of milk – allow to heat through BUT DO NOT BOIL!

This really helped open my chest and I am not as congested – onions and cracked black pepper – just what the doctor ordered!

(Dr. Mama, that is!)