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My hard-boiled eggs come out perfectly 99% of the time with no grey ring and not overcooked in the least.  I wish someone had told me sooner the trick to making them this way:

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The first trick is to make sure your fingers are wet when you lift the eggs from the carton.  Having wet hands actually makes for a better grip on the eggs (you would think the opposite, huh?).  Put them in a saucepan where they have plenty of room.  Fill the pan to cover the eggs by at least 1/2 inch.

Bring the cold water and eggs to a rolling boil.  Quickly cover with  a lid and TURN THE STOVE OFF (or remove from heat if you have an electric range).  Set your timer for 13 minutes (don’t lift the lid!).  When the timer goes off, immediately put the eggs into an ice-water bath to quickly cool them down.  This is what I was told prevents the grey ring.

Then, to peel, start at the fatter end of the egg.  A little air pocket exists under there that will make it easy to slip your spoon in (upside down) and help force the egg from the shell.  Again, you would think the opposite but nope, the pointy end does not house an air pocket.

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Be sure to rinse the egg and pat dry before setting aside in the bowl. If you by accident mix up your fresh eggs with your hard-boiled eggs, you can spin the egg like a top.  If it spins, it’s hard-boiled.  If it immediately lays down and won’t spin, it’s raw.

To make egg salad,  I find it easier to press the egg through one of those wire slicers that slices them in even segments.  For 6 eggs, I put about 2 heaping Tbsp of mayonaise (you can always add more to taste but it’s impossible to take away excess mayo), a tsp of  regular yellow mustard, salt and pepper (come people use white ground pepper but I’m old-fashioned).  No fancy spices, just the basics.

I like to make an egg salad sandwich with sweet, dark brown squaw bread and a slice of lettuce.  Oh, it is soooo good!  Try it and let me know how it worked out for you!

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Chicken Cacciatore

I wanted to watch the Academy Awards last night so I tried to think of an easy, low maintenance meal that would pretty much make itself with little effort on my part.  This recipe comes from my trusty 1976 Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that has been my “go-to” reference since I was first learning to cook in 1979.

If you could see the oil splattered pages that long ago tore loose from the 3 ring binder format of this cookbook, you’d think I was careless in taking care of it and  you would be right.  Along the way, I’ve certainly learned the value of a good bookstand with splatter guards and such but there is something of a nostalgia I feel when I open it to this page.

After browning the breasts, saute onions in oil

I will give you the recipe as written with my notes or modifications in parentheses.

The recipe says to brown one 2 1/2 – 3 lb ready to cook broiler fryer chicken, cut up, in 1/4 cup hot salad oil.  (I just buy one package of boneless, skin-on breasts and 1 pkg thighs).  Remove chicken to a separate plate (I just push it to the side…I have a pretty big Le Creuset Dutch oven.)

In same skillet, cook 2 medium onions cut into 1/4 inch slices (1 onion is really enough) and 2 cloves garlic, minced until tender but not brown.  Return chicken to skillet.

Pour tomatoes and seasoning over chicken

Combine one 1 lb can tomatoes (do they make 1 lb cans anymore?), 1 8 oz can tomato sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon dried oregano OR basil (I use 1/2 teaspoon of BOTH oregano and basil), 1/2 teaspoon celery seed (I use celery salt) and 1 or 2 bay leaves.

Pour mixture over chicken and cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Stir in 1/4 cup white wine and cook uncovered for 15 additional minutes (I skip the wine but I do uncover and continue cooking).  Remove bay leaves and skim off excess fat.

Chicken has finished simmering

Pair with a fresh, tossed lemon salad and a side of chicken flavored rice and we’ve got a nice TV tray friendly meal!

Hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did!

Time for Pork Chops

Ever since I’ve opened my little antique & gift shop Lisa’s Cottage last December, I’ve hardly had time for anything extra like keeping this blog updated.  It came to the forefront of my mind when I heard about a new TV show The Pioneer Woman that will be starting August 27th on The Food Network.  OH MY GOD!  When I saw her food blog, my jaw dropped all the way to the ground (well almost…)!  I made a comment on her Le Creuset giveaway and was comment 39,684!  I don’t think I’ll have that many people look at my food blog if it stays online forEVER!  LOL!

But I have to keep in mind that I’ve created this food blog for my sons to look at when I’m long gone.  We have to have faith that WordPress will continue to exist, right? (And that they’ll have wives that will at least TRY to make their Mama’s favorite foods!)

Pork chops that fit JUST right...

I had such a hankering for pork chops a few nights ago that I went ahead and picked up a large pack of them at Costco and decided to experiment with how they tasted with my friend Rich’s Rub (www.MadHunkyMeats.com).  I’d already tried it on beef and thought, what the heck… (Rich is a fellow moderator at Cooking.com where we meet lots of interesting people who share their great recipes with us.  Check it out sometime!)

Standard trilogy of taters, corn & salad

Hubby was pleased with the meal and the pork chops were JUST right…After I took the picture, I realized that I tend to stick with the mashed taters, white corn and salad combo.  As is evidenced by the last time I made Meatloaf and took a picture…Geez, even my salads look boring!

Meatloaf and you guessed it...taters, corn & salad

Ugh!  Get out of the rut already, Lisa!  I like zucchini with a variety of veggies, I like risotto, I like baked sweet potatoes.  I guess I’m getting lazy with all the effort I spend on the store. 

Well, I DO like my meatloaf.  My Mom always put bacon on top and it gave it a great flavor…kind of like poor man’s filet mignon…ya know whut I mean?  <grin>

Waiting for the meatloaf to "rest"

I make my meatloaf this way:

1 1/2 lbs hamburger (80/20)

4 oz. ground pork or sausage (Jimmy Dean is my fav)

1/8 cup finely diced onions

1/8 cup finely diced green pepper

1/2 cup ketchup

1 egg

1/2 cup oatmeal (doesn’t matter if it’s quick cook or regular)

Salt and pepper to taste (about 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper)

Mix gently with your hands and form into a loaf.  Top with 2 slices of bacon and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.  If you don’t have a pan that drains away the grease, pour off the excess grease gently into a disposable can and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.  Makes it easier to cut.

So, two things I’d like from any of my 5 readers.  Can you give me your best pork chop preparation tips and recipe?  And, what do you put in your meatloaf? 

Look, I’ll NEVER be The Pioneer Woman but I’ve served a lot of people a lot of good food.  I’m glad you’re here to share in that…

(If you want to see a couple of food blog sites that are well done, I can recommend my friend’s sites.  They are full of great photographs, tips and always great recipes.  www.sandiegofoodstuff.com and http://www.sassandveracity.com/.  You won’t be disappointed!)

I just got my e-mail notification from my friend Caron Golden, who is a wonderful cook, on her latest breadmaking adventure.  Wow!  If  you want to see a picture of bread that will make you instantly salivate, go to her blog at www.sandiegofoodstuff.com and see her post from 12/03/10 labeled My Bread Baking Revival, Reinhart-Style. 

I was thinking I might be able to work out a trade with her for some of that sourdough in exchange for some fluffy yeast rolls…I made them, as always, this past Thanksgiving and they came out so moist and delicious.   (For the recipe,  do a search for Buttery Yeast Rolls)

Caron’s inspired me to dust off my recipes for two of my favorite breads that I haven’t made in awhile.  They are made with Whole Wheat Flour.  One is a Hi-Protein Honey Wheat bread with a light, flavorful texture that uses cottage cheese in the mix and the other is a dense, dark wheat and rye with molasses and honey and all those other good things.  I’ll try and report back soon (with photos)…now where are those recipes????

When the kitchen is hot, the last thing I want to do is stand over the stove.  I recently made a couple of my kid’s favorite recipes that are always resulting in a request from friends for the recipes.  Since one of my objectives of this blog is to leave the recipes with step-by-step instructions for my kids to refer to after I’m gone – I’ll go ahead and share these with you.  (Warning:  These are NOT low fat in any way, shape or form!)

The first one is Green Enchilada Casserole:

Ingredients:

1 pkg. corn tortillas

Vegetable oil for frying

8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese (shredded)

1 large can Green Enchilada Sauce

4 chicken breasts, boiled and shredded

1 8 oz. sour cream

1 can Cream of Chicken soup

Here's the completed first layer

Recipe Instructions:

Mix sour cream and cream of chicken soup together.  Pour approximately 1/2 cup of the green sauce in the bottom of a lasagna pan.  Lightly fry tortillas in hot oil. 

Start layers:

Fried tortillas, 1/3 of the remaining green sauce, 1/2 of the sour cream mixture, 1/2 of the shredded chicken and 1/2 of the cheese in pan.  Repeat.  Last layer is the sauce and remainder of cheese.  Cover with foil and Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly around the edges (approximately 1 hour).  Uncover the last 15 minutes of cooking.  Cool 5 minutes before serving.

I don’t have photos for the following recipe, but will take some the next time I make it.

Baked Chicken w/ Pasta

Ingredients:

1 stick butter

1 med. onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, mashed

1/2 Tbsp dried basil

1/2 Tbsp. dried oregano

3/4 tsp. crushed red chili pepper

8 chicken thighs (2  to 2 1/2 lbs.)

2 pkgs (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach

8 oz. pkg linguini

1 c. parmesan cheese

Melt butter and place in lasagna pan.  Mix onion, garlic, and spices with butter.  Dip skin side down into butter mixture and place skin side up in the pan on top of the butter.  Bake uncovered 45 minutes.  While it is baking, thaw spinach in the microwave.  Boil linguine and drain.  When chicken is done cooking, remove the thighs to a platter.  Add spinach to butter in the pan and mix to join the flavors together.  Add linguine to the spinach/butter mixture and toss well.  Add parmesan cheese and toss again.  Put the chicken thighs over the pasta mixture and serve.

This past weekend was “The Run for The Roses”   – The Kentucky Derby in Louisville, KY where my son lives.  I spent the almost 12 years in that beautiful state and really learned a great deal from the wonderful women I met there. 

Office potlucks were common and I was always amazed at the creativity of their recipes.  BUT, they were not apologetic about the fat and butter in their dishes – they clearly thought we Californians were too “worried” about healthy living.

At Derby time, it was not hard to find someone having a Derby party.  Because of tradition, it was mandatory that the party include these three things – mint juleps, burgoo and some kind of barbeque.  I’ve always wanted to attempt to make burgoo but haven’t seen a recipe that looked like it had the ingredients of the one I was familiar with.   (And I really dislike mint…so THAT mint drink tradition was never followed in my house!  Ha!)

One of my fondest memories is from when we visited Berea, KY and ate at Boone Tavern.  They are famous for their traditional southern cooking and a dish they call “Spoonbread”.  I recently tested a Le Creuset 2.4l Round French Oven for Cooking.com and was very happy with the recipe.

RECIPE INGREDIENTS

3 cups milk
1 1/4 cups cornmeal
3 eggs
2 tablespoons butter
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Southern Spoon Bread Recipe at Cooking.com
 
DIRECTIONS

Stir meal into rapidly boiling milk (use WHITE cornmeal for true southern bread). Cook until very thick, stirring constantly, to prevent scorching.
Remove from fire and allow to cool. The mixture will be cold and very stiff. Add well beaten egg, salt, baking powder, and melted butter. Beat with electric beater for 15 minutes. If hand beating is used, break the hardened cooked meal into the beaten eggs in small amounts until all is well mixed. Then beat thoroughly for 10 minutes using a wooden spoon. Pour into well greased casserole. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Serve from casserole by spoonfuls.

This is a great accompaniment for any meal but I especially liked it with the bowl of chili I’d prepared that night.

Now…if anyone has a great burgoo recipe they’d like to share…

This is your goal!

Stormy weather and I start thinking comfort food! I made a huge batch of Albondigas (meatball soup) for my husband to take to work so his co-workers wouldn’t have to leave the building during the storms we’ve been having in San Diego this week.

I saw where a group of bloggers who visited Martha Stewart’s studios had eaten some Albondigas soup that was prepared by one of them. It looked good but frankly, I thought mine looked better. It’s a hearty, flavorful soup that always results in a request for my recipe. So here it is, for those of you who have been patient with me to write again…

Albondigas

First make Spanish Rice
(Lightly brown 1 cup long grain white rice in a little oil until rice turns whiter. Saute with onion until onion transparent. Add 1 8 oz can tomato sauce, 1 chicken bouillon cube and 1 ½ cup water, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer on medium heat until all liquid is gone – about 15-20 minutes)

Let cool a few minutes.

Make stock for soup. Take 2 garlic cloves and saute in a little oil in a large 6 or 8 qt Dutch oven. Add one 16 oz. Can Hunt’s tomato sauce and fill the pot to within about 2 inches of the top (you need to leave room for the meatballs that you will be adding) with water. Chop 2 green onions and chop some cilantro and drop in the stock. Add 2 Tbsp chicken bouillon (Knorr sells the powder form in the Mexican food section) and bring to a boil. Remove the garlic cloves when it comes to a boil. While you are waiting for the stock to come to a boil, make the meatballs.

Meatballs:

1 ½ pounds hamburger (I use Costco’s)
¼ pkg Jimmy Dean REGULAR pork sausage
1 cup of the cooked Spanish rice (see above)
2 eggs, beaten
2 finely chopped green onions
chopped cilantro (equal in volume to the green onions)
salt & pepper

Gently mix all the ingredients by hand (mixing them too much makes them hard, so just mix enough to blend ingredients). Drop the meatballs into the BOILING stock, one by one (about 1 rounded teaspoon). Let the fat/foam come to the surface and skim off. When it looks like all the fat has risen (about 15-20 minutes), add ½ head chopped cabbage, chopped carrots (2 or 3) and (2 or 3) zucchini to the stock. I also love to add a diced chayote (a green vegetable with a seed-like center. Cut out the center and cube the rest, skin and all.) Let cook until vegetables are tender.

When I serve my soup, I usually put a big spoonful of rice in the bowl.

This is a double-batch...

Drop the meatballs in the boiling stock

Skim off the foam that rises to the top

Add the bite sized cabbage

Add the remaining vegetables, leaving the zucchini for last

That’s all there is to it!  Serve with a side of rice and tortillas.   Try it, you’ll like it!