Friday, August 28, 2009

The Best Sausage Cheese Balls Ever

When we got married, one of the only things that I really wanted at the reception were Sausage Cheese Balls.  Not just any recipe though - my Grandma's.  Her recipe is not that different than any other recipe, but the tiny differences make these the best ever.   Here it is:
1 pound mild or medium bulk sausage (the kind in the roll)
4 cups shredded medium or sharp cheddar
3 Cups Bisquik
1-2 tablespoon Tony Cachere's Cajun Season
Now here is the trick - mix all of this together with your hands.  If it feels at all dry, you add either cooking oil or melted butter one tablespoon at a time until the mixture is moist and sticky.  You can add up to about 4 tablespoons.  This make the sausage balls moist and crunchy at the same time. 
If you have ever tried to eat sausage cheese balls that someone tried to make low fat by using reduced fat sausage or cheese, you will understand why this works. 
One more note - if you like yours hot, you can add red pepper.  These are great for breakfast, or anytime you want a savory snack.   Enjoy!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Long time, no post

If I remember correctly, I loved writing this blog. Then in the spring of 2008, and all through the end of the year, I just was so tired, it was all I could do to cook and get the day to day things done - much less blog about them. I could not figure out what was going on, but it did not bother me so much that I went to a doctor.

Sooo..what happened? In a sudden turn of events on January 20, 2009, I found out I had a rare, and usually slow growing, kind of lung cancer. Carcinoid usually shows up in the gut, and appears in adults in their 50's and 60's. I was one of those rare cases - I was 35, and the tumors were in my lungs. On January 24, the tumors were removed along with part of my bronchial tube and the top lobe of my right lung.

Recovery has been rougher than expected. It has been 8 months, and I still can only hold out to cook a few days per week. I also have another tumor and am on shots for it that sometimes make me too sick to smell food (much less cook it).

However, I looked at this blog and remembered how much I liked it and decided to start back writing. Since I have not been able to work, we have very little money for groceries. The meals I fix now have become a true test of making a little go a long way. I think that there are plenty of people out there who are having to do the same thing, so maybe these blogs will help someone else out.

In the spirit of getting my life back, this blog begins again!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

French Coconut Grilled Chicken

I think that the concept of marinating chicken in French dressing and then baking or grilling it has been around forever. Last year, I was on a huge grill kick and experimenting with flavor combinations when I came up with this recipe. It is something even my "pickiest" eater likes.

To make the marinade, mix the following:
1 bottle french dressing
1 can coconut milk
1 can cream of coconut
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp hot sauce or buffalo wing sauce
1 tbsp garlic powder
salt, pepper, paprika to taste
Reserve 1-2 cups marinade for basting.

Marinate chicken pieces for at least 2 hours, longer if time allows - overnight is preferable.

Grill at 300 for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until juices run clear. During the last 15 minutes of grilling, baste with reserved marinade.

I the past, I have served this with coconut rice, Asian vegetables and a mandarin orange salad with vinaigrette and fried won ton strips - it was a great pairing. Tonight, we just had vegetables and a pre-packaged pasta side dish - you know how it goes at the end of the month when you are trying to use what you have in your freezer and pantry! Everyone got seconds of at least one thing, so I would say this meal worked!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Leo's Gravy

Leo was my granddaddy. Why did I call him Leo? He ran an appliance business and when you went to work for him, he would forget to answer to "Grandpa" and eventually I ended up calling him Leo all of the time.

Leo was a fabulous cook. He was fun to cook with - like me, he never used recipes and liked to make things up as he went along. His employee Christmas parties were legendary. He would give everyone an envelope with their bonus, and empty the cash registers. He had dart boards with dollar amounts, a wheel of fortune, and lots of other games where employees could either keep their bonus, or try their luck at the games to make more. Everyone looked forward to the food all year. He would cook about 3 whole prime ribs, salad, potatoes, desserts, but what everyone wanted was his rice and gravy. It was the best I have ever eaten. I have even seen people not put meat on their plate so there would be more room for the gravy!

That was for the employees. Anytime we had roast for Sunday dinner, he made gravy. I would show up early with the kids and do most of the chopping and we made it together. In later years, he sat at the kitchen table, I made the gravy and he told me stories of his childhood and did the taste testing. By the time the rest of the family showed up, the gravy was done and no one ever knew the difference!
Tonight we are having a roast, so I though I would share the recipe. Leo never cooked small, so I have cut the measurements to the size needed for a "normal" meal.

1 large pkg fresh mushrooms, washed and quartered
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 cup celery, sliced
1 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp butter
2 cans Campbell's beef broth (not the same if you don't use Campbell's)
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
Drippings from the roast

Saute vegetables in butter until onions are transparent. Add drippings from roast. Add soups. Simmer until thick - at least 20 minutes. If the gravy is not thick enough, a small amount of cornstarch that has been dissolved in water can be added.
Serve over rice.

This is the whole meal - roast, rice, gravy, squash, green beans, corn, and cucumbers with tomatoes - perfection on a plate.

When I know I am cooking his food, I miss him more, but I feel so blessed to have had this man so close to me for 32 years. He taught me life was meant to be lived, moments meant to enjoy, and simple pleasures savored. In my life, he was one of the few people who loved me for who I was and who I could always count on to be real. When I am old and look back on my life, I am sure one of the things I will be thankful for is that I had Leo. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

This Is A Keeper

Now what should I name it? Here is what happened. The boys wanted to make pizza. Now pizza is one of my favorite foods, but I was not in the mood, plus I had some mushrooms and puff pastry I needed to use. I made the pizza dough for the boys. While it was resting, I made something special for the rest of us-
Salt/Pepper/garlic and then Saute the following:
Sliced baby portabellas, fresh spinach, onions
Mix ricotta and mozzerella
Line pan with one sheet puff pastry. Cook at 400 for 10 min.
On the pastry, layer cheese, veggies, chopped chicken, and sliced tomatoes.
Cover with 2nd sheet pastry and cook 20 min. or until golden.
Serve with marinara

This was absolutely wonnderful. It cooked along side the pizzas, and everyone was happy!! There are no measurements because I threw together what I had.

Any suggestions for a name?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is this really taco salad?

The kids were gone, and I had a little leftover browned ground chuck that I needed to do something with. When DH emailed and requested his Mom's "taco salad", I figured, "Why not?" The kids will barely eat it and it meant that I would not have a kitchen to clean tonight.

The recipe is simple - mix browned ground beef, kidney beans, and enough Catalina dressing to make it saucy. To assemble the salad, mix lettuce, shredded cheddar and Fritos corn chips. Add a few spoons of the beef mixture, mix, and top with sour cream. I will say this - it is really good - especially if you let it sit a little before you eat it.
I was looking around today and saw the Taco Salad post at What's Cooking, and I wondered how what I threw together tonight was ever considered taco salad? Fritos, the beef and cheddar, the lettuce - what? I make a "real" taco salad - lots of veggies, grilled meat, avacodos, etc. tortilla strips - something the rest of the world would recognize.
I began to look around to see where this recipe came from - especially after the whole Cindy McCain story about stealing recipes from food network. I find the recipe on all kind of sites - recipe sites, a cajun site, and a military family site. Maybe that is where it came from. His dad was an officer. Maybe it came from an old officer's wives cookbook. I still can't find the original recipe. Does anybody out there know?
By the way - the salad is great every once in a while - just not taco salad!