Thursday, June 14, 2012

Recipe: Homemade Stuffing

We serve this at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. We do not put the stuffing inside the turkey. I guess it is really more of a dressing than a stuffing? But we tend to use them interchangeably.

This is such an old tradition in my family that, until I moved to California after high school, nobody had written it down. It was just passed on from Mom to Daughters to Sisters to Nieces to Granddaughters, etc., via hands-on training during the holidays.

The first version is the huge-ass "feed an army" version. The second is the one I throw together when I'm just making chicken any ol' time.

Note: to dry the white bread, you can either tear it and spread it on a cookie sheet or two and bake it at 250F for 20-30 min, or you can leave it out overnight. Drying it out can be done well ahead of time and, to me, it's not as gross as leaving it out. If you dry it out in the oven ahead of time, let it cool thoroughly then put it into a Ziploc-type bag or other airtight receptacle until you're ready to use it. Same for the cornbread.

Family Size

double batch of cornbread (sweet or savory option, your choice), cubed (or crumbled) and dried
8 slices of white bread, cubed or torn and dried (I usually just use sandwich bread, but whatever)
2 Red Delicious apples, cored and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
3 x 14.5oz cans of chicken broth
1 x 14.5oz can of water (obviously fill it after you've dumped one of the broths)
[now here's where it gets tricky]
salt and pepper to taste
poultry seasoning to taste
sage to taste
["To taste" = until the herbiness somewhat resembles that of Stovetop Stuffing.]

So, take all of the above and mix it in one of those huge, disposable, foil roasting pans (be sure to support the bottom as necessary).

Bake it at 350F, stirring every 20min or so. It should form a yummy crust on the bottom; be sure to scrape that up each time you stir.
Add/stir in more seasoning as needed.
Continue this charade until you're happy with the results or everyone's pissed that it's past time to eat. ;-)

2 more notes:
1. As I said, this has been passed to me verbally, and there's a lot of leeway for personalizing and improvisation.
2. Do yourself a favor and make this a day or two before. It reheats very well in smaller batches.

Lazy, Single Chick Version
(this one tends to be more bread-centric than cornbread-heavy)

1/4 batch of cornbread, crumbled and dried (I do prefer the sweeter version)
1/2 loaf of sandwich bread, torn and dried (the cheap, crumbly WalMart brand that is not fit for sandwiches works well)
1 Red Delicious apple, cored and chopped
3 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups of water
1/2 Tablespoon rubbed sage
1 Tablespoon poultry seasoning

While the bread and cornbread are drying in the oven, put the unwrapped bouillon cubes into a large measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl along with the water, sage, and poultry seasoning. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stir the hot herb water until the bouillon cubes are fully dissolved.
Chop yer apple.
Place the apple, dried bread, and dried cornbread into a small roasting pan. Stir the hot herb water so that all the herbs are suspended in the liquid; pour it evenly over the dry bread and apple bits.
Stir the bread mixture with a serving spoon until it is just damp.
Spread the bread mixture evenly in the pan, but do not mash it or smooth it.
Bake it at 350F for 20-30 minutes.
Stir and enjoy. :-)

Recipe: Cornbread

I really love sweet cornbread with spicy chili or pinto beans. I've also learned (to the detriment of my blood pressure & LDL count) that it is really good just warmed, buttered, and salted. It is also a key ingredient of my family's holiday stuffing/dressing.

For years I've used whatever recipe happens to be on the back of the current box of Quaker Corn Meal in my cabinet, but they've done something to the recipe in recent years and, for some reason, unless I divide the batter into two separate pans or use a 13x9" casserole dish, the middle doesn't bake all the way through.

In any case, what follows is what I'm using now; it's adapted from the back of the Quaker box I have in my pantry right now. If I ever figure out what the heck's going on with the middle coming out raw, I'll revise it. :-)

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup corn meal (I do prefer Quaker)
1 cup sugar (note: original recipe says 1/4 cup)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 egg whites or 1 egg, beaten (I always just use the one whole egg)

Heat oven to 400F. Grease two 8- or 9-inch pans *or* one 13"x9" cake/casserole pan. (Note: if you use a liberal amount of vegetable oil to grease the pan(s), the edges of the cornbread will come out crispy-ish. Yum!)
Combine dry ingredients. Stir in milk, oil and egg, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean (good freakin' luck!).
"9 servings." (Yeah, right! LOL!)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Recipe: Guacamole Salad

I had a good friend in high school named Sarah whose heritage happened to be Mexican. Two dishes that I remember she and her mom making were burritos (a.k.a. "chimichanga" in some areas) and guacamole salad.

Of course, I already loved burritos, but from then on, I also loved guacamole salad. I've had guacamole salad at many restaurants in San Antonio in many forms, but I always come back to the basics.

2 ripened avocados
1 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
1 small onion, diced (I use white or yellow, but red would be good, too!)
1 small tomato, diced (Any variety is fine, but firm ones are best.)
2 cups finely shredded iceburg lettuce (if iceburg isn't available, any very crunchy lettuce will do)
1 medium or large bag tortilla chips like Tostitos or Santitas--NOT DORITOS! (or make your own)
Salt & Pepper

After removing the avocado "meat" from the skin, mash it in a medium-sized bowl with the lemon or lime juice.

Layer the salad in individual small bowls in this order: lettuce in the bottom, avocado on top of that, then tomato & onion.

Once it's served, I usually eat my portion by applying salt & pepper to taste, then mixing the salad with a fork. I use the fork to scoop the mixture onto a chip and stuff as much of the chip into my mouth as possible. :-D

Guacamole salad is great alone with iced tea, cold beer, and margaritas, or as a starter for a full Mexican meal.

Recipe: Enchilada Casserole

Having grown up in South Texas, I love Mexican food. Well, not *all* Mexican food--I probably will never try tripas or menudo. Just not interested. There's plenty of delicious "normal" food to be had; I feel no need to expose my palette to offal.

Though I've grown up eating Mexican food quite regularly, I've never really been good at cooking it--even my tacos suck. But a few months ago, I was craving enchiladas, and I remembered that one of my sisters had mentioned making enchilada casserole.

She sent me her recipe and, since then, I've probably eaten enchilada casserole 2-3 times per month ever since. I make a big pan, eat some for supper, then freeze the rest. A quart-sized freezer bag easily holds one or two servings. I don't get fancy with reheating from frozen--I microwave it, bag & all, for 20 seconds, then turn it out of the bag onto a plate and microwave it for 4-5 minutes on high. Top it with cayenne pepper for an extra kick.

Be advised that the measurements in this recipe need not be exact; e.g., if I say a 10.5oz can of something, it's ok to use a 10.75oz can instead. It's supposed to be an easy recipe that you can adjust to your tastes and/or product availability.

Anyway, here's the recipe:

1-3lbs ground beef (sister's recipe said 1lb; I've made it w/up to 3lbs, and it came out great)
1 medium or large onion (I use yellow or white, but whatever. It's optional, anyway.)
1-10oz can enchilada sauce (I've never made it from scratch, but here's a recipe just in case)
     Note: Some brands of enchilada sauce are available in different degrees of spiciness. You can always
              sprinkle the finished product with ground cayenne pepper on a serving-by-serving basis if the can
              you bring home turns out to be too bland.
1-10.5oz can cream of mushroom soup
1-10.5oz can cream of chicken soup
16oz grated Velveeta (or up to 32oz white or orange cheddar; I like the stringiness of melted sharp cheddar)
12-18 corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place the corn tortillas into a bowl, and cover them with water. Let them soak while preparing the meat.

Chop or dice (your preference) the onion.
     Note: If you prefer your onions softer, put them into the frying pan with the raw meat. If you like them
              crunchier, add them to the meat toward the end of browning or even later.

Crumble the ground beef into a large, deep frying pan. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Remove from heat, and drain off the fat.

Return the cooked beef to the frying pan. If you wanted your onions crunchy, add them to the browned ground beef now. Dump the enchilada sauce, cream of mushroom soup, and cream of chicken soup into the ground beef. Stir until fully incorporated.

Smear a few spoonfuls of the beef mixture into the bottom of a 13"x9" rectangular casserole dish. Tear the soaked tortillas into quarters. Place a layer of quartered tortillas into the bottom of the dish followed by a thin layer of beef mixture and a thin layer of shredded cheese. Repeat this process until all ingredients are used up, ending with a layer of cheese on top.

Bake the casserole for 30 minutes.

Serve with a green salad (or guacamole salad!) and iced tea. Optionally, top with more raw diced onions, a dusting of ground cayenne/red pepper, and/or even more shredded cheese.

Serves six normal people or one glutton. :-D

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Recipe: Strawberry Gravy [status: untested]

I don't have the resources to experiment much in the kitchen these days, so somebody try this for me.

The Bloggess just posted the BEST IDEA EVER: STRAWBERRY GRAVY.

I tried to think what she might mean by that. We'll just ignore all the possibilities of what it could be drizzled (or POURED) on top of; let's just think about how to make it.

Here was my suggestion*:
*Actual screencap of my comment on The Bloggess's page

So what do you think? 
Suggestions as to whether the flour and the puree would really work? 
Should I be more precise regarding how the heavy cream is sweetened?
What do you think it would taste like?
What might it be good with?

Feel free to make your comments over on The Bloggess's post instead of here. But truthfully, unless you make them here, I'll probably never see them.


Oh! P.S.: I'm putting a list of Depression blog posts written by other sufferers in the sidebar. It might just have one today, but I'll have to google a bunch to find the ones I've read before. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Recipe: Texas Hash

This is a dish Mom made for us growing up. I've surely modified it in some ways as I've prepared it myself over the years, but I couldn't tell you how Mom originally made it or which is better. I think the point of homemade skillet meals like this are that they're pretty basic, and you're welcome to personalize it--no hard feelings. :-)

Texas Hash freezes really well, and I like to have it in lieu of Meatloaf as comfort food as it's quicker & easier, and I don't have to worry about whether it's cooked through. It may heat up the house less since it doesn't have to be baked. Just guessing.

All measurements are approximate. Find your own happy balance. :-)

Deana's Texas Hash
2-3 cups of rice (cooked)
1.5-2 lbs ground beef
1 beef bouillon cube (optional)
1 bell pepper (optional)
1 medium onion, diced (or large or small or whatever. I like yellow or white onion for this)
Salt, pepper, & garlic powder (or cloves or whatever) to taste
1 12.5oz can green beans
1 12.5oz can sweet corn
1 12.5oz can diced tomatoes (or ~1.5cups fresh diced tomato, whatever)

If you don't have cooked rice on-hand already, cook according to package directions so that you'll wind up with 2-3 cups when it's cooked. You can use whatever kind of rice you want, but since this is mixed in, I like to use the long grain type that doesn't stick together. It's one of the few uses I've found for that stuff.

Brown the ground beef with the onion, bouillon cube, and seasonings in a huge skillet. Drain off the fat.

Drain the juice out of the canned vegetables (and the fruit, if you're going to be pedantic). Combine beef mixture with vegetables and rice in the skillet.

You can serve it by itself, or topped with shredded cheddar. YUM! I also like to top it with cocktail sauce and serve it with mashed or baked potatoes.

Enjoy! :-)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Twitter: New-Fangled Confessional Booth?

I love Twitter. I like it that people say there what they might not say otherwise, even if they delete the tweet within 30 seconds of posting it.

Twitter has also brought to my attention some people of note who suffer from mental illness, the most recent being Peter Serafinowicz.

Peter "is an English actor, comedian, writer, composer, voice artist and occasional director," who was the voice of Darth Maul in "The Phantom Menace," and played Pete in "Shaun of the Dead." For Anglophiles: he's also been in "Spaced," "The IT Crowd," and "Black Books." [IMDB entry]

Today, Peter shared via Twitter a blog post written by Amy Jane Smith (whose name makes me think she's the offspring of The Doctor & River Song) along with sharing that he, too, suffers from Depression and Anxiety. [For DW reference explanation, see: John Smith, Sarah-Jane Smith, Amelia Pond, River Song]

I wouldn't wish Depression and Anxiety on anyone, but it does me good to see that there are others battling mental illness and are still successful in life. Also, I am grateful that they are willing to share their experiences with us so that we can find hope ourselves.

So, a big thank you to everyone who chooses to share with the world that they've struggled. Hopefully someday the stigma will be gone.

Update: Turns out Peter wrote a load of tweets on the subject! Busy compiling them now.
Update 2: Here they are...