Jalapeno Baked Cheese Grits

 baked grits

Grits are made from ground corn, a food of Native American origin. It is a very common food in the Southern United States. I grew up in the south but really never cared too much for grits until I was an adult and had moved away. When I did eat grits as a child it was at one of my Aunt’s house. She always made a pot of grits for breakfast and homemade biscuits, without fail. She was a true Southern lady and cook.

Grits have a very interesting history. The early Native Americans ate a corn mush made of softened corn or maize. When Sir Walter Raleigh met the Indians in Roanoke, North Carolina in 1584 they were fed a boiled corn or hominy. One of Sir Raleigh’s men, Arthur Barlowe made a special note of the corn, “which he found very white, faire, and well tasted.”

Source for the preceding information is courtesy of Linda Stradley and her website What’s Cooking America. The complete article can be found here.

I tried jalapeno cheddar grits at a small local restaurant, the Horseshoe Smokehouse,  and they were so good. I couldn’t get their recipe so I went on a hunt for a similar recipe. This recipe is very similar in taste to the one at the restaurant. I think it may even be better.

This is a wonderful side dish to serve at dinner. It is great served with BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, grilled shrimp or grilled steak.

Jalapeno Baked Cheese Grits

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup quick-cooking grits such as Quaker Grits
4 cups water
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp seasoned pepper
1/2 tsp seasoned garlic powder
1 1/2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated pepper jack cheese
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2 large eggs, well beaten
1  4 oz canned  chopped hot green chilies
1 green onion chopped, for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For the grits:  Slowly stir the grits and seasonings into briskly boiling water.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook 5 to 7 minutes until thickened; staring frequently.  Remove from heat and add the butter. Stir until the butter is melted. Add the green chilies and grated cheeses, stirring to incorporate into the grits, reserving 1/4 cup of the Cheddar cheese for the top. Temper the beaten eggs by beating in a couple of tablespoons of the hot grits. Add the tempered eggs to the grits. Pour into a 10 cup, 9-inch springform pan that has been lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle the top with the reserved Cheddar cheese. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving. Garnish the slices with chopped green onions.

Notes:
1. A buttered 9-inch baking dish or a cast iron skillet can be used in place of the springform pan.
2. The casserole is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
3. Any leftovers warm up very nicely in the microwave oven.

baked grits 1

Blueberry Pie

It is summertime and blueberries are available at farm markets and U-Pick farms. I love the local Michigan blueberries. They are large and beautiful in their deep blue color, perfect for making blueberry pie.

blueberry pie

Blueberries are one of the jewels of summertime. Not only are they good, but they are good for you, providing many health-giving antioxidants.

blueberries

Recently, my daughter and I went over to Grand Haven to see the beach, have lunch and to shop. I discovered this wonderful shop that only sells blueberry related items including blueberry coffee.

Blueberry Haven
Blueberry Coffee

I didn’t buy the coffee but instead found a cookbook I couldn’t resist Beaches, Berries, and Bliss by Tiffany Balk. It is written by the owner of the shop. And, yes the cookbook is all about blueberries and interesting anecdotes from her life.
Beaches, Berries, and Bliss

I bought blueberries from the shop and used them in the pie I made for this post. The name of the shop is Blueberry Haven and is located at 213 Washington Avenue, downtown Grand Haven, MI.

With something as naturally delicious as blueberries, you don’t need a lot of complex ingredients for a great taste. This is clearly shown in the recipe for blueberry pie from Fannie Farmer in 1896.

“Blueberry Pie Recipe – Year 1896 from The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook, by Fannie Merritt Farmer, 1896

Blueberry Pie
2 1/2 cups berries
1/2 cup sugar
Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Line a deep plate with Plain Paste, fill with berries slightly dredged with flour; sprinkle with sugar and salt, cover, and bake forty-five to fifty minutes in a moderate oven. For sweetening, some prefer to use one-third molasses, the remaining two-thirds to be sugar.”

The above referenced Fannie Farmer cookbook is available free in eBook version from Google Books and can be found here.

The recipe for this Blueberry Pie is adapted from a recipe by King Arthur Flour. The original recipe can be found here.

Blueberry Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 frozen 9 inch deep dish pie crust, thawed
1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust
(or your favorite 2 crust pie dough recipe)

Filling
6 cups fresh blueberries, washed and drained
1/3 cup Instant Clear-Jel OR 1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 slightly beaten egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water
sugar for sprinkling on the crust

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Toss together the berries, thickener, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Pour into the crust. Roll out the top crust, making a lattice if you like; place it over the berries. Trim excess overhang, and crimp the edges together.

Carefully brush the egg wash mixture over the lattice strips and then sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for another 40 to 50 minutes, covering the edges if they seem to be browning too quickly. When done, the filling will be bubbling, and the crust golden brown. Remove from the oven, and cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

blueberry pie 1

Notes:
1. I used the Clear-Jel (cook type) for this pie and was pleased with the way it thickened the pie, resulting in a pie that wasn’t too runny.
2. If you don’t make a lattice crust, cut several slashes in the top crust to allow steam to escape.
3. When washing the blueberries, pick out and remove any bits of stems, leaves and soft or mushy berries.

Strawberry Cream Pie

One of the best things about summer is the arrival of local grown strawberries. They will appear at farm markets and at local farms where you can pick your own. I have picked them a couple of times and that is really hard work.

Strawberries are available year around here in the USA, thanks to California. But I really prefer the Michigan strawberry. The local berries are smaller and sweeter than the ones produced by California. (That is my opinion, obviously.) I have two favorite strawberry desserts that I make and usually only make them when local strawberries are available.

Strawberries have been around for a long time. The University of Illinois Extension has an interesting article about the strawberry, facts and lore, such as:

“The first documented botanical illustration of a strawberry plant appeared in 1454.

The ill-fated Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII had a strawberry shaped birthmark on her neck. Supposedly, this proved she was a witch.

The American Indians were already eating strawberries when the Colonists arrived.”

I found this wonderful recipe for Strawberry Cream Pie just last year. It is exactly the kind of pie I had been wanting to make over the years. It has a whipped cream and cream cheese filling beneath the glazed strawberries. And what I especially like about it, the glaze is made from all natural ingredients, not red jello or a pouch from the local grocery store.

This recipe is from Leigh Anne who has a very interesting blog, Your Home Based Mom. Her blog has more than just recipes. She blogs about Parties, Crafts, and Home Décor. Be sure to visit her web site.  The recipe on her web site includes directions for homemade pie crusts to go with this pie.

Strawberry Cream Pie

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 Frozen Deep Dish Pie Crust 

Glaze
1 cup strawberries, mashed
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
½ cup water

Cream Filling
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
4 cups whole strawberries

Prepare pie crust as directed on package for one-crust baked shell. Set aside until completely cooled.

Glaze

Crush 1 cup strawberries. Combine 1 cup sugar and cornstarch in small saucepan. Add water and crushed strawberries. Cook and stir over medium heat to boiling, stir constantly until clear and slightly thickened.

Cream Filling
Blend cream cheese and sugar. Stir in vanilla. Fold in whipped cream. Spread evenly in cooled crust. Refrigerate for a few minutes.  Place whole strawberries stem side down on top of creamed filling, pressing slightly.  Spoon glaze over the berries. Chill for 3 hours.

Be sure to make this pie a summertime tradition.

Notes:
I pressed the cooked glaze mixture through a fine mesh strainer in order to have a more smoother glaze and allowed it to cool slightly before spooning over the berries.

 

Prime Rib Roast

Prime rib roast also known as a standing rib roast is always a good choice for a special occasion dinner. Think of the upcoming Father’s Day to possibly serve it. There is no doubt that it is a pricey cut of beef. If you belong to either Sam’s Club or Costco, I have seen them there at a more reasonable price. Wherever you purchase the prime rib, ask the butcher to cut and tie it for you. This is simply where the butcher cuts the meat off the bones and ties it back on, which helps in the carving process once the roast is cooked.

rib roast

Prime rib has always been one of my favorite cuts of beef to roast. When roasted properly, you will have a juicy and tender roast beef. Some recipes suggest starting the roast out at a high heat (500 degrees). I prefer roasting at a medium temperature (350 degrees) and I only season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. This will result in a beautiful, flavorful and well-browned exterior of the roast. I like to add whole new seasoned potatoes to the roast about midway through cooking time but that is optional.

Our love for roast beef in some form has been around for a long time.

There is a reference by a Swedish diplomat named Kalm on a visit to England in the 1600s. He commented on the English at table: “Roast meat is the Englishman’s ‘delice’ and principal dish.” Source for the above is taken from a lovely cookbook by Elisabeth Luard European Peasant Cookery The Rich Tradition.

Peasant Cookbook

And then there is this recipe from a 1660 cookbook, Robert May’s Accomplish’t Cook

“To roast a Chine, Rib, Loin, Brisket, or Fillet of Beef.

Draw them with parsley, rosemary, tyme, sweet marjoram, sage, winter savory, or lemon, or plain without any of them, fresh or salt, as you please; broach it, or spit it, roast it and baste it with butter; a good chine of beef will ask six hours roasting.”

May’s 1660 cookbook is another free online cookbook available from Project Gutenberg and can be found here.

Prime Rib Roast

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 (3-bone) beef rib roast (about 5-6 pounds) cut and tied
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
3 teaspoons seasoned black pepper
3 teaspoons seasoned garlic powder

Remove the roast from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the seasoning ingredients.

Place the roast, fat side up in the roasting pan. Rub the roast generously with the seasoning mix. Place a thermometer in the center of the roast or use an instant read one at different time intervals. Roast uncovered at 350 degrees for approximately 3-4 hours or until meat reaches desired doneness. Suggested temperatures are 115°-120°F for rare or 125°-130°F for medium. It is important to remember that the temperature of the roast will continue to rise after it is taken out of the oven.

Transfer the roast to a cutting board and let rest for 30 minutes. Snip the tied bones off the roast before carving.

Serve the roast with horseradish cream sauce if desired.

If you decide to cook a prime rib roast, you will discover that it is easier than one might think.

prime rib 5

prime rib 4

Mexican Flan

The Cinco de Mayo holiday is almost here. That is the Mexican holiday that we Americans love to celebrate with beer and margaritas. I do like margaritas and that sounds really good. However, I like the idea of a dessert to honor the day, namely Mexican Flan.

Flan is a sweet custard dish made with caramelized sugar and baked in the oven in a water bath. Like a lot of recipes it can be found as far back as ancient Rome. It was originally a savory dish. It was in Spain that it became a sweet dish with the caramelized sugar. After being brought to Mexico by the Spanish, this dish has become especially associated with Mexico. For a short and interesting article on the history of Flan see this.

Cinco de Mayo doesn’t celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spain but their victory over France in an important battle in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla. This was during the French-Mexican War. For more information on Cinco De Mayo see this article.

Adapted from a recipe by Cooking with Alia.

Mexican Flan

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

1 cup granulated white sugar
5 large eggs
1 can condensed milk (14 ounces)
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups half and half milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium nonstick saucepan, heat the sugar over medium heat. Shake and swirl occasionally to distribute sugar until it is dissolved and begins to brown. Lift the pan over the heat source (4 to 6 inches) and continue to brown the sugar until it becomes a dark golden brown. You may slightly stir while cooking, but continually stirring causes the sugar to crystallize. Carefully pour caramelized sugar into a 1 1/2 quart baking pan and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan evenly. Set the pan aside. The caramel will harden in the bottom of the pan.

In a mixing bowl combine the eggs, condensed milk, the heavy cream, half and half and vanilla extract. Mix on low speed until blended. Don’t over mix. With a sieve, strain the mixture over the prepared caramel.

Place the pan with the flan mixture in a larger pan and place in the oven. Then pour hot tap water until the water reaches half the height of the flan pan. It’s much easier to do it this way than moving the pans around when water is in.

Bake the flan for around 1 hour or until set. To check for doneness, insert a knife in the center. If it comes out clean the flan is ready. Very carefully, remove the pan from the water bath and cool completely on a wire rack. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of pan. Place a serving plate slightly larger than the pan on top of it, flip, then give it a shake. Slowly remove the pan from the flan. And there is your flan with a beautiful caramel topping.  

Note:
When making this recipe, allow enough time for it to chill overnight before serving.

Be sure to have your favorite cerveza or margarita to celebrate the day and to end it with a slice of flan to make the holiday more festive. Happy Cinco de Mayo Day.

 

Classic Meatloaf

Meatloaf is a time honored American food along with the likes of hamburgers and hot dogs. It is also easy to make. All you really need to make a meatloaf is ground meat (usually beef), seasonings and some kind of binder such as bread crumbs and eggs.

However, a classic meatloaf may typically contain ground beef, ground veal, and ground pork. I prefer to use a mix that includes ground beef, turkey and pork.

Using the Lipton onion soup mix and sour cream will result in a tender and moist meatloaf. With a little bit of brown sugar in the topping, this is a recipe that is a perfect dinner and awesome sandwiches the next day.

I had assumed that the meatloaf recipe was developed during the depression. But no, it seems that mixing meat with a filler traces back to the fourth or fifth century AD. The following recipe is from Apicius Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome, a cookbook from the fourth or fifth century AD.

“FINELY CUT PULP [of pork] IS GROUND WITH THE HEARTS [2] OF WINTER WHEAT AND DILUTED WITH WINE. FLAVOR LIGHTLY WITH PEPPER AND BROTH AND IF YOU LIKE ADD A MODERATE QUANTITY OF [myrtle] BERRIES ALSO CRUSHED, AND AFTER YOU HAVE ADDED CRUSHED NUTS AND PEPPER [3] SHAPE THE FORCEMEAT INTO SMALL ROLLS, WRAP THESE IN CAUL, FRY, AND SERVE WITH WINE GRAVY.”

A translated free ebook version of Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome by Apiciusis is available through The Project Gutenberg here

While meatloaf has been around for a long time, the modern meatloaf is probably an American innovation, aided by the invention of the meat grinder by German inventor Karl Drais in the 19th century. Recipes soon started appearing in cookbooks such as the Fannie Farmer Cookbok The Boston Cooking School Cookbook 1918 edition. Source theatlantic.com

Classic Meatloaf

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 pound ground chuck
1/4 pound ground pork
1/4 pound ground turkey
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced green pepper
1 envelope of Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion Soup Mix
1 egg slightly beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon seasoned pepper
3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the meats. Mix in the Lipton Onion Soup, egg, sour cream, onions, green pepper, Worcestershire sauce and seasoned pepper using your hands. Form into a loaf and place in a baking dish. Bake the meatloaf for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the meatloaf from the oven and pour the sauce over it and return to the oven. Continuing baking for another 45 minutes to an hour or until done. An instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the meatloaf can be used to determine doneness. It should register 160 degrees.

Sauce: Stir together the ketchup, chili sauce, and brown sugar until smooth.

The dry onion soup mix and the chopped fresh onions add an additional layer of flavor to this easy and tasty recipe.

 

Beefy Au Gratin Potatoes

This is an easy slow cooker (Crock Pot) dish to make for your family, ready in just over four hours. It is a recipe that uses convenience foods which I think on occasion are perfectly fine. It can give us some breathing room in our busy lives. If you don’t like using convenience foods, then this recipe may not be for you.

Ingredients

It is a good casserole to take to family and office potlucks. This recipe was originally published as Beefy Au Gratin Potatoes in Taste of Home Ground Beef Cookbook 1999, p70. With a little searching it can be found online.

Serve the casserole with a salad and rolls, if desired.

Beefy Au Gratin Potatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 package (5-1/4 ounces) au gratin potatoes or cheddar and bacon potatoes
1 can (15-1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of potato soup, undiluted
1 cup water
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies, drained
1 can (4 ounces) mushroom stems and pieces, drained
1 jar (4 ounces) diced pimientos, drained
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Set potato sauce mix aside. Place potatoes in a 3-quart slow cooker; top with corn. In a bowl, combine soup, water, chilies, mushrooms, pimientos and reserved sauce mix; mix well. Pour a third of the mixture over corn. In a skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink; drain. Transfer to slow cooker. Top with remaining sauce mixture. Do not stir. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until potatoes are tender. Add shredded cheese on top of the casserole the last 30 minutes of cooking.

Beef Au Gratin Potatoes

It is interesting to note that while all Crock Pots are slow cookers, not all slow cookers are Crock Pots. The Crock Pot has its beginnings from a lowly Bean Pot patented by Irving Naxom in the 1940s. This design was sold to Rival Manufacturing in 1970 who rebranded the device as a Crock Pot. For more about the Crock Pot check out this article in Huffington Post.

1 10 11 12 14