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Anything is good, in moderation. I cook because I love to and because I can share with those around me. I crochet for the same reason.

Do what you want to do, enjoy what you do and use it to touch those around you.

May 31, 2013

Nanny Thomas' Mississippi Mud Cake

Time for another family Friday recipe.  This time, Mississippi Mud Cake from Hubby's Nanny Thomas.  This was a hit at a recent Memorial Day Picnic.

  4 Lrg Eggs                                                   1/2 Bag Miniature Marshmallows
  1 Cup Cooking Oil                                  ---Topping---
  2 Tsp Vanilla                                                1/2 Lb Butter, Melted
  2 Cups Sugar                                               1/2 Cup Cocoa
  1 1/2 Cups Flour                                          1 Lb Confectioners Sugar
  1/2 Cup Cocoa                                            1 Tsp Vanilla
  1/4 Tsp Salt                                                 1/2 Cup Evaporated Milk
  1 Cup Nuts, Chopped                                                             

Heat oven to 300 degrees, grease a 13 x 9 pan.
Mix together eggs, oil and vanilla. 

Add sugar, flour, cocoa and salt.  Mix well.

Fold in nuts.

Pour into pan.

Bake for 45 minutes.   

Remove from oven, top with a layer of miniature marshmallows.  

Return to the oven for another 5 minutes.

Mix together topping ingredients.   

Pour carefully over the cake.  Let stand at least 2 hours before cutting.

May 30, 2013

Grill Roasted Chicken - Step 1 - Peach Tea Chicken Brine

The purchase of the big green egg led to the making of our first roasted chicken.  First step - brine the chicken.  Brining the chicken adds moisture, flavor and helps prevent the chicken from drying out during cooking.

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 quart of water to a boil.  When boiling, turn off heat and add two peach tea teabags.  I like to use Harney and Sons Peach tea - make great sun tea, too.

When tea is well steeped, remove tea bags.  Stir in 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup kosher salt until dissolved.

Cool tea completely.

While cooling, prepare your chicken.  Remove giblets and rinse.  Place in a very large bowl.  When tea is cool, pour over chicken. 

Add enough cold water to cover the chicken.  Cover and let sit at least 8 hours.

May 29, 2013


I enjoyed this dessert so much, and ordered it so often, that I can say it a little too well.  The Greek owner of our local restaurant asked if I was Greek.  This lead to my belief that perhaps I should learn how to make it.  Now it is a Christmas staple.  I purchase my Phyllo dough from the frozen foods section of my grocery store.

  1 Lb Unsalted Butter, Melted                                   1 1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
  1 Lb Phyllo Dough, Thawed                                    1 C Sugar
  1 C Pecans, Finely  Chopped                                   1 Small Lemon
  1 C Walnuts, Finely  Chopped                                  1 C Water
  1 C Almonds, Finely  Chopped                                 2 Inch Piece Cinnamon Stick
  1/2 C Sugar                                                            1 C Honey

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Brush 13x9x2 inch baking pan with some of the melted butter.  Fold a phyllo sheet in half and place in dish.  Brush with melted butter and top with another folded phyllo sheet; brush with melted butter.   

In a small bowl, combine pecans, walnuts almonds, sugar and cinnamon; mix well.  Top phyllo in dish with 1/2 c of the nut mixture.   

Top with 2 more folded sheets of phyllo, brushing each with melted butter.  Top with 1/2 cup nut mixture.  Continue layering 2 phyllo sheets, brushed with butter, and nut mixture until only 2 sheets of phyllo remain.  Fold, butter and layer last 2 sheets to form top crust.  With razor blade or sharp knife, cut through top layers into serving size portions. 

Bake for 50 minutes, making honey syrup as it  bakes.  Remove from oven and cut through all layers of pastry with sharp knife, using marks as guides.

To make Honey Syrup:  remove zest from lemon.  Squeeze 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice from lemon and set aside.  Combine lemon zest, sugar, water and cinnamon stick in heavy saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat and continue cooking without stirring for 25 minutes or until mixture is syrupy and register 230 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Stir in honey.  Pour mixture through a strainer into a pitcher or measuring cup.  Add lemon juice.  Stir and let cool.  Pour cooled honey syrup over pastry.   

When cool, cover tightly.  


May 28, 2013

Basic Pizza Dough

Next up on the big green egg - pizza.  Hubby doesn't prefer store purchased dough, so we make it.  The basis of the following recipe came from Paula Deen on the Food Network.  Once ready, we topped the first one with grilled pineapple, grilled peppers and proscuitto.  The second was topped with sopressata and pineapple.

  1 3/4 Cup warm water                                                             4 1/2 to 5 cups bread flour
  2 1/4 Tsp Yeast                                                                        3 Tbl olive oil, plus more for bowl
  2 Tsp salt                                                                                 Cornmeal, for pan
  1 Tbl Italian Seasoning.

Preheat oven at 450 degrees F.
Measure out 1 3/4 cups warm water (it should be pleasantly warm on your wrist). Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and allow it to activate, about 10 minutes.

Put the salt and 2 cups of the flour into a food processor. 

Pulse 2 times to blend. 

Add Italian Seasoning, pulse 5 times.  Pour in the yeast and water and pulse 5 times. 

Add the olive oil. 

Add the remaining flour 1 cup at a time, pulsing and scraping the sides of the bowl until well blended. 

As soon as the mixture is combined, dump it out onto a well-floured board and knead for 15 turns, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn to coat all sides. 

Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes, until doubled in size, then punch it down. 

Divide it in half; each half will make 1 (12-inch)  pizza.

Place on a cornmeal-dusted pizza stone, pizza pan, or cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, remove and top as desired.  

Return to oven (or Egg) and bake until crust is finished and cheese is melted.

May 22, 2013

Potato Chip Cookies

First, they were for Christmas.  Then, they went to the beach - three times.  Now, they were made to thank the gentlemen that put my bathroom back together.  One great recipe, lots of uses.  I like to use a very crunch chip, like Hartley's or Martin's.  Don't live in Central Pennsylvania?  Use a kettle cooked chip.  I usually use walnuts, but pecans and macadamia nuts work well.

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups potato chips, slightly crushed
1 cup nuts, chopped.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together butter and sugars.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Stir together flour, salt and soda.  Add to butter mixture and mix until well combined.
Fold in chips and nuts.

Scoop onto a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat or non stick foil.  Bake for 12 minutes.

May 20, 2013

Big Green Egg - Let the adventure begin.

Hubby has wanted a Big Green Egg (BGE) for years.  We have a perfectly good gas grill, and adding just a smoker would have been less, but then we took a cooking class.  The food cooked during that class was fabulous - hubby won me over to all natural charcoal cooking.  Besides, this way we have ONE item on our deck, not two.

Up first - chicken.  We used:

Chicken breast
1/4 cup Mister Mustard
1/4 cup Plum Jam

Heat the grill.

Cut the chicken breast using a scallopini cut.  Scallopini cut is a very thin cut done by placing the chicken breast flat and holding it down with the palm of your hand.  Using a sharp knife, cut the chicken breast in half horizontally between your hand and the counter top.   If you are not comfortable doing so, you may pound the chicken flat and cut it into two to four pieces.

Stir together the mister mustard and jam. 

Coat one side of the chicken with the mustard mixture.

Put the coated side down on your grill grate.  Brush the other side with the glaze, turn after 2 to 3 minutes.

May 19, 2013

Carribbean Beef

Slow cooked almost complete meal - beef, peppers and a tomato based sauce.  Just make some rice.

  14 1/2 Ounce Diced Tomatoes,                    1 1/2 Tsp Salt
           -drained                                            1/2 Tsp Pepper
  14 1/2 Ounce Diced Tomatoes,                    2 Tsp Dried Oregano
           -Undrained                                        1 Tsp Ground Cumin
  2 Cups Bell Pepper                                     1 1/2 Lb flank steak
  2 Garlic Cloves                                                                       

In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the tomatoes and bell peppers (cut into strips).

Sprinkle with garlic (minced), oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. 

Nestle the steak among the vegetables. 

Cook, covered, until the meat is tender and pulls apart easily, on high for 4 to 5  hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.  Move the beef to a bowl and shred it using two forks.

 Pour the cooking liquid over the beef.

 Serve with cooked rice.

May 17, 2013

Easy Sweet and Sour

This sweet and sour isn't quite authentic, but it is quick and easy with items that are in most pantry's. 

10 ounce chicken breast
20 ounce cans pineapple chunks
8 ounce tomato paste
1 cup bell pepper, diced.

Heat about a tablespoon of oil (your choice) in a large skillet or wok. 

Cube chicken, add to pan and cook until almost cooked through.

Add the peppers.

Add the pineapple and juice.

Add the tomato paste and stir.

Simmer until heated through and serve with rice.