Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mellody's Black-eyed Peas

Okay, not those Black Eyed Peas!! This is after all a food blog. But I started thinking about Mellody and her black-eyed peas and when I went online there were all these posts and pictures of THE Black Eyed Peas. This recipe is not mine, but Mellody's, and it's been our traditional New Year's recipe since finding it in the AJC many years ago. I always used to use hog jowels or pork neckbones until I discovered this. Smoked turkey wings provide the meat and flavor and are probably much better for you. It uses fresh garlic and garlic powder which she says is important to get the taste right. Where the original recipe calls for cooking this in a large pot, I use my crockpot. Serve with rice and greens and don't forget my cornbread recipe. Needless to say, it's not just for New Year's and you will find that without a doubt these are the best black-eyed peas you will ever have.

1 lb. dried black-eyed peas

4 c. low sodium chicken broth

2 c. water

2 smoked turkey wings

4 cloves garlic, diced

2 ribs celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 large onion, diced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

2 T salt or seasoned salt

1 T black pepper

1 t garlic powder

2 bay leaves

Rinse and sort peas looking for any tiny stones or bad peas. Put peas in crockpot (not turned on) with 6-8 cups of water and let soak overnite or 6-8 hours. Drain water off and rinse peas.

In crockpot, combine peas, broth, water, wings, garlic, celery, carrots, onion, jalapeno, salt, pepper, garlic powder and bay leaves.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Remove wings ,shred meat and return to pot.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fusion Mussells

Hell's Kitchen had a fusion challenge the other night and it was on my mind as I considered what to do with some leftover rice. Of course, this is not just some ordinary rice but Trader Joe's Basmati rice medley which is a delightful combination of aged Indian Basmati and wild rice with garden vegetables.

I cooked 4 slices of bacon until crispy, drained them and crunched them up. Then I sauteed a sliced onion and two chopped cloves of garlic until translucent. Add to that a can of diced tomatoes with juice and one of my 8 oz. freezer bags of sliced zucchini. Okay, if you didn't put up veggies you could resort to the Hunt's zucchini and tomatoes in the can. Then I added a handful of cooked, crumbled sausage from the freezer. Then comes the "season to taste". I added fresh ground salt and pepper, garlic powder, oregano, Old Bay, paprika and a couple of shakes of cayenne. Add the cooked rice.

Next comes one of my favorite things...Kroger Private Selection Mussells. They come in tomato sauce or white wine sauce. You can eat them as is or put them over pasta. They are in the freezer section and are already cooked and then vacuum sealed. Just heat them up.

Put the rice in individual pasta bowls and top with mussells and the tomato broth. Add some shredded Parmesan-Romano cheese and you have a great Indian/Italian/French/Greek meal.
Looking for a picture for this I came across Courgettes and Mussels which is a French dish with zucchini, mussels and rice. Then there was a Greek dish with mussels and rice. Changing the herbs and spices results in a dish eaten in many different countries with many different names.
If you came to my house for dinner, it might even be called "leftovers".

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sunday breakfast anytime!

We love Sunday morning breakfast.
I hate slaving over the stove when I would rather be reading the paper and drinking coffee.
The recipe is easy, and yes, I guess you could just throw a bag of Jimmy Dean in the pan but I like mine better and it doesn't have all those additives (except for what's in the sausage).

1 roll Jimmy Dean sausage (or whatever kind you use)

1 bag frozen chopped peppers and onions

1 bag frozen shredded potatoes

sandwich bags

Some day, when you have the time, do the following...

Crumble and cook the sausage. Then put it in a colander to drain off all the fat. When it is cool, assemble the bags. I make 2 serving bags since it's usually just the two of us, but you could make single serve. For one serving...Put 2 oz. sausage, 1/4 c. frozen peppers and onions, and 1/2 c. frozen potatoes in a bag. Press out all the air and seal flat. Stack these in a large freezer bag and put in freezer.

When you want breakfast, heat frying pan and spray with Pam. Dump in however many servings you need. I like to heat it until the potatoes get a little crispy. It just takes a few minutes because you've already done the prep work. Beat eggs in a bowl using 2 per serving. Pour eggs over sausage and vegetables and scramble. You could top with some shredded cheese before serving and/or chopped green onions, chopped tomatoes, salsa. The possibilities are endless.

There you have it. Sunday breakfast any time, in half the time!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Recipe for remembering

We were watching the new Hell's Kitchen spinoff the other night and this lady had brussell sprouts with bread crumbs and I started down memory lane again. There are many things that we used to eat when I was young... and some of them I would never eat again.

The brussell sprout thing...My Mother fancied herself quite a cook, although my brother and I might question that. Anyway, she got this recipe for brussell sprouts and they were cooked and then rolled around in seasoned breadcrumbs. She probably made it first for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. She loved it and made it over and over and over. As far as we were concerned, it smelled awful and tasted worse. When I left home, I left brussell sprouts behind.

Saturday nights we ate baked beans and brown bread. It was usually B&M. Once in a while my Mother "doctored up" the beans and baked them in the deep well. I'm not sure how it worked but a deep well was a big deep pot that set down inside the stove, where a burner would be, so only the lid was visible. Brown bread came in a can and you cut off both ends and as you pushed it out you sliced it using the can top as a guide. Daddy would fry up leftovers to have with his eggs for Sunday breakfast.

The exception to this was in the summertime. Our next door neighbor was a lobster fisherman and we had lobster every Saturday in season. Mostly they were chicks which were small but legal to catch and often they had only one claw. I didn't know we got the rejects and certainly never realized that lobster was a luxury to most people. While we would eat, my Father would disect his lobster. Not a scrap would pass his lips until every possible edible piece of lobster was extracted from the shell and placed on his plate. This included spreading the roe and tamale on saltine crackers. I never would eat that but did learn to scavenge every morsel of lobster meat, cleaning out the shells and sucking the meat out of the legs and tail fins. Before we were married, my husband wanted to really impress me with dinner. He ran a New England Oyster House at the time. He cooked lobster for me, but not for him as he wouldn't eat it. Much later, he told me that he almost had second thoughts about our relationship when he saw me savagely attacking dinner.

When I was little, I was sick a lot. My Mother attributed it to the fact that I got German measles when I was a baby and nearly died. A while later, I had whooping cough for over a year. The deep well got plenty of use then as she would make bread pudding (yuck) all the time. She would put jelly on top to get me to eat it. Bread pudding, tapioca, and I don't remember what else of similar consistency that was supposed to be good for me to eat. Every now and then I see a great recipe for bread pudding but I just can't bring myself to make it because of those memories.

When I was five I went to a Catholic school. Some students boarded. If my parents went off for a weekend or whatever, they would have me stay at school with the boarders. My only food recollection was that we ate at really long tables and always had cocoa (with scum on the top) in the morning and macaroni and cheese. Surely we didn't eat mac and cheese for lunch and dinner every day, but I don't remember anything else!

Another dinner staple my Mother served was sausage. It was what we call breakfast sausage links now, but we never ate it for breakfast. We ate it for dinner with applesauce and mashed potatoes. I had no idea where that combination came from but it showed up weekly on the dinner table. Searching the internet, it does come close to an Irish recipe for sausages, applesauce and colcannon (mashed cabbage and potatoes). As my grandparents were from Ireland, it was probably something my parents grew up eating.

We were a Catholic family and you ate fish on Friday. I hated fish. It smelled bad. It tasted bad. I rebelled and as a teenager would eat a can of tuna for dinner. Tuna, out of the can, as is. Somehow I can't quite get a handle on that. As an adult, I love fish and tuna out of the can smells bad!

We often stayed at the beach in the summer. My Father would get up early and take a pail down to the boat docks where he would get fresh caught herring, which look kind of like sardines. He would bring them back and put them whole under the broiler and that would be his breakfast. No one else even got near those, let alone eat them!

We had another neighbor who grew asparagus and rhubarb. There you go again...who knew the luxury status of those two things. Certainly not us. Right up there with lobster. Years later, both those things were too expensive to find their way to the table very often. I do remember though that my Mother would never break off the asparagus properly because, of course, it was so expensive and we would be forced to eat the woody ends. The same held true for broccoli. Heaven forbid you wasted anything, even if it was inedible.

I ate Ranger Joe's for breakfast. The cereal came in a big plastic bag and was some kind of puffed rice. Tasted like, well... spongy air. When you put milk on it, it would get soggy in no time. Daddy ate shredded wheat. It came in a box with dividers that were Injun Joe cards. The company tried to market it to kids by having these collector cards in the boxes. Never happen! The cereal was this big, fat square thing that tasted like cardboard and looked like something you would feed to farm animals. Sometimes my Father would pour hot water on it first to soften it up and then add milk and sugar. Thank heaven for Sundays when we would drive to the donut shop for crullers and donut holes.

For a long time we would switch off Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner with my Aunt Mary's family. We lived in Massachusetts and they lived in Connecticut. She always served rutabaga. Awful, awful, can't even describe the smell and the taste and you had to eat it. The last time I ate it there was the last time I ate it, period.

School lunches were the same thing on the same day week after week. One of them was green beans, spaghetti and french bread with peanut butter. Somewhere I'm sure there was a dietician who had figured out the proper ratio of food groups, using the available food, to come up with this combination. To me, it was just plain weird. You didn't eat vegetables with spaghetti and you most certainly didn't put peanut butter on french bread. My Mother was notorious for the same thing on the same day also. She would come up with something new and then it would just fold into the rotation. If it's Tuesday, it must be eggplant parmagianno...until you never wanted to see another eggplant again! But then, I remembered the commercial about "Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day". Maybe everybody ate the same thing on the same day every week! You can see the commercial from the 50's, on You Tube, if you look up "Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day- a classic".

Monday, April 19, 2010

Gobble Q

At Thanksgiving I bought two turkeys because they were .39 a pound, limit two. I put one in the freezer. Maybe turkey for Easter....well it was down there in that bottom basket and forgotten and Easter has come and gone. So then I discovered it and I was thinking about smoking it but Bill said it would take too long. What if I cut it up? So we cut it up like it was just a big chicken...
two thighs, two legs, two wings and the part of the back that wasn't connected to the breast and then left the breast whole.

So, here comes the recipe...

Slice up an onion and mash 3 cloves of garlic.
Put in the bottom of your crock pot.
Layer turkey pieces.
Cover with 1 bottle bbq sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's Raspberry Chipotle)
Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Shred turkey with two forks just like pulled pork.
Strain juices, cool, skim off any fat.
Mix sauce with turkey and add more bbq sauce if needed and some hot sauce .
Serve on buns with cole slaw.
Package leftovers of 4 oz. to a sandwich in sandwich bags and put them in a large freezer bag.

You can cook the turkey breast in the oven at 325 for 25 min. a pound.
Put a carrot (quartered), an onion (quartered) and some celery tops inside breast.
Shake garlic powder, onion powder, sage and paprika on turkey breast and spray with Pam.
Roast till temp reads 185. My 12 lb. turkey then became just 2 hours in the oven for the turkey breast.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day and dinner would have to be corned beef and cabbage. Surprisingly enough, the Irish ate mutton or lamb because there was an abundance of it in Ireland. When they came to America though, it was beef that was plentiful and thus the tradition was born.
The Sullivans (my Mothers family) and the Reardons (my Fathers family) came here from Ireland and so the tradition continues.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

6 carrots. cut into chunks
2 onions, chopped
2-3 lb. corned beef brisket with seasoning packet
12 oz. can beer (non alcoholic is fine)
2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
8 wedges cabbage


In 4-6 quart crockpot, combine carrots and onions. Rinse corned beef under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Place in crockpot and sprinkle with contents of seasoning mix. Pour beer over brisket and spread mustard on brisket. In small bowl mix brown sugar with water and pour over brisket. Cook on low setting for 11-12 hours. Take corned beef out and wrap in foil to keep warm. Turn to high and add cabbage wedges to vegetables and cook for 30 min. Slice brisket, thinly, across the grain and serve with vegetables.

Garlic Smashed Potatoes

1 lb red potatoes
4 cloves garlic peeled and left whole
1/4-1/2 c milk
2 T butter
salt and pepper


Scrub potatoes. Cut in quarters but leave skin on. Boil for 20 min. Drain off water and leave in hot pot. Mash potatoes and garlic with potato masher. Mix in milk and butter. Potatoes should be lumpy and slightly drier than mashed potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Friday, February 26, 2010

TGIF Wings

There's no such thing as healthy junk food, but there can be healthier junk food. These wings are baked, not fried and you can use fat free salad dressing for dipping. Guaranteed to be a favorite and a staple of Friday Happy Hour.

20 wings (flats and drummettes)
3/4 c. flour
3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
wing sauce (Kroger brand or Sweet Baby Ray's or whatever your favorite is)

Dry wings on paper towels. Shake flour, garlic and cayenne in a ziplock bag. Add wings and shake to cover. Wings should be dry and covered in flour. Keep shaking until they are not stuck to each other in the bag. Spread them out inside the bag as much as possible. Let them sit in the fridge for about 3 hours. Put foil on a cookie sheet and put a rack on it. Spray rack with Pam. Shake off excess flour into the bag as you take wings out and put them in a large bowl. Drizzle with wing sauce. Stir to get a little sauce on all the wings. Put on baking rack. Cook for 30 min. @ 400. Turn wings over and cook for 30 min. more. Serve with celery and carrot sticks and ranch or blue cheese dressing. We use Kraft peppercorn ranch.