Saturday, July 28, 2012

summer in the south saturdays - fried green tomatoes with Buttermilk Dressing

"Dedicated to all Tennesseans throughout time who have appreciated our heritage as citizens of this nation's sixteenth state and who have cherished this land and the bounty it yields.  May the loyalty, pride, and vision Tennesseans share with each other and with the world continue always."

That's a quote at the beginning of one of my most prized cookbooks, Miss Daisy Celebrates Tennessee.  Daisy King is considered Tennessee's First Lady of Southern Cooking, so I see it only fitting to share recipes from her book for today's Summer in the South Saturdays post.  

Over 15 years ago, John was finishing up his first year as an 8th grade teacher at David Lipscomb Middle School, and I was finishing up as a senior at the university as well as interim choral director at the middle school.  DLMS was our family away from family as we prepared to be married in May of '97 and figure out life together.  

Following one of my classes, there had been a scheduled "event" we were to both attend on the middle school campus, and to our HUGE surprise, the entire 8th grade student body, faculty, and administration threw us a kitchen shower.  One of our many gifts?  This cookbook.  Inscribed on the inside cover, "Best wishes to Miss Bean and Mr. Green.  Love, Amy."  

I know.  Go ahead with the jokes.  But I can assure you, whether or not I had ever become a "Green," growing up as a "Bean...," I have heard them all.

I have now lived in Nashville over half of my life, so Tennessee feels like home in so many ways.  I adore southern hospitality, southern history, southern people, and southern food.  And one can NOT live in the south too long without partaking of fried green tomatoes.  

As they do every year around this time, our tomato vines are producing faster than I can cook or prepare the fruit, so I figure why not pick a few early, and enjoy them crisped up.  I've also included a cool and creamy homemade dressing recipe that makes a perfect accompaniment.  I was excited to use fresh chives from my herb garden for this one and got to finish off the rest of the buttermilk left from last week's Co-Cola Cake recipe, so no waste there.  

Not that there ever is with good buttermilk sitting around.

I never alter a single thing with these recipes... they are perfect just the way the are.  I highly encourage you to follow them to a "T" and enjoy a little south in your mouth!

Fried Green Tomatoes - serves 4
  • 3 medium green tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 3/4 cup white cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup bacon drippings
~  Assemble all ingredients and utensils.  Slice tomatoes 1/4-inch thick; sprinkle with salt 
     and pepper.
~  In a bowl, pour cornmeal and coat slices of tomato thoroughly with corn meal.
~  In a large skillet heat bacon drippings until hot and add tomatoes.  Brown on both sides 
     over medium heat.  Drain.

Buttermilk Salad Dressing - makes 3 cups
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. minced onion
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk

~  Assemble all ingredients and utensils.  In large blow of mixer, combine all ingredients 
    except buttermilk.
~  Slowly stir in buttermilk.
~  Chill before serving.

Recipes from Miss Daisy Celebrates Tennessee Cookbook


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

grilled pork tenderloin with pepper jelly glaze

We had two suppers last night.   Well... not really.  Actually, what I intended to have for supper ended up being an after-dinner snack.

A really good after-dinner snack.

When we were home last weekend, Mom gave us a couple of nice-sized pork tenderloin roasts to bring back with us.  I put them in the freezer and had planned to use one last evening for supper.  Before leaving for work, I put it in the fridge to thaw, but it apparently was barely so when we put it on the grill.  It took about 30 minutes longer than I had planned, so we went ahead and had BLT's while waiting.  About an hour later, we enjoyed some smokey, sweet and spicy awesomeness.

I have found the key to really good pork is the brining process, especially with a four or five pound tenderloin on the grill.  If one's not careful, the outside cooks faster than the rest, and supper ends up being a dry chewing fest calling for a gallon of water to wash it down.  Not fun.  Brine is the answer every time, rendering juicy flavor without fail.

A couple of years ago, I brined a pork roast for hours and got a bright idea to baste it while grilling with a bit of pepper jelly I had left in a jar, just because.  Oh my, was it good!  So, that's what I've done periodically, including last night.

Take note:  Watch your grill carefully and keep turning the meat.  You don't want to overly char the outside.  We are charcoal people all the way, but a gas grill will work just fine.  Set a medium-high heat fire in the grill and find pieces of wood to add to the coals/heat source for a bit of tasty smoke (our hickory trees help us out here).

With this grilled pork tenderloin - no matter what time supper is ready - you're gonna enjoy every bite!

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Pepper Jelly Glaze -
serves 4-6

  • 1 4-5 pound pork tenderloin
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. peppercorns (optional)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (optional)
  • 6 tbsp pepper jelly, divided

~  For the brine, combine water, salt, sugar, and spices in a large pot.  Heat until sugar and 
     salt have dissolved.  Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes.
~  Once cooled, place tenderloin in water and set pot in fridge at least 8 hours, or 
~  When ready to cook, remove roast from fridge and brine and let sit to take off chill, 
     about 15 minutes.
~  Meanwhile, heat grill to medium-high heat.  
~  Place three tablespoons jelly in microwave-safe dish, and heat in 20 second intervals 
     until thinned.
~  Place roast on greased grates over coals.  Using pastry brush, baste roast with thinned 
     jelly on exposed side.
~  Rotate meat and continue basting intermittently for about 45 minutes.  Wrap in 
     aluminum foil and continue rotating, checking for doneness with meat thermometer in 
     the thickest part of the loin.
~  When temperature reads 140 degrees, remove from heat.  Keep loosely wrapped with 
     foil for 10-15 minutes to allow juices to redistribute.
~  In the meantime, heat remaining jelly as previously directed, and pour over tenderloin 

**  If you are not a fan of pepper jelly, other options will work.  Both mango and peach  
      preserves/jellies work beautifully!

Recipe from The Lazy Daisy Kitchen

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

on the side - simple asparagus

I don't know about you, but I can sit down to write my menu for the week and have a brainstorm of 15 main dishes in a second.  So many times, I have the week's plan laid out on paper and realize I have nothing else on the plate but a great piece of meat.  I have tried to focus more, lately, on coming up with good side options.

Asparagus is a vegetable I have grown to love.  It hasn't been until the last few years that I have truly appreciated the flavors and all the possibilities it has to offer.  I have prepared it various ways and look forward to sharing more down the road, but to highlight the freshness of this spring veggie, I'm sharing an extremely easy and simple way to eat this perfect side to any dish.  It can be served warm or not (I prefer it slightly chilled).

Ultra-healthy and delicious, it's a win-win!

Simple Asparagus - makes 4 servings

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • splash of red wine vinegar

~  Bring a pot of water to boiling.
~  While water is heating, wash asparagus and break off woody ends.  To find the natural 
     break, hold stem with both hands, bending away from you and pressing with your thumb 
     (usually a couple of inches from end).  It will snap easily.
~  Place asparagus in boiling water and watch carefully.  Within about 3-4 minutes it will 
     turn a bright green.  Remove immediately and drain, rinsing under cool water to stop
     cooking process.
~  In bowl, mix oil and salt.  Place drained asparagus in bowl and mix gently.
~  Plate asparagus and season with red wine vinegar and a light sprinkling of salt.

Recipe from The Lazy Daisy Kitchen

Monday, July 23, 2012

love people; cook them tasty world's best lasagna

Our family is so very blessed to be a part of a wonderful church congregation.  It's a great mix of young and old, and it's on fire for community outreach.  Each Sunday evening, we get together with our home church group, eat, fellowship, sing, and discuss the morning's sermon even further.  We have so many young children in our group that the house usually rattles with laughter (and a few tears now and then).  It's a modern-day version of what I imagine life was like among the first Christians in Acts:  "And day by day, they worshiped together, breaking bread in their homes, and receiving their food with glad and generous hearts."  This is at the foundation of what we do.

Last night was our turn to host, and the group had decided on a pasta theme.  We had farfalle with marinara, fusilli with Alfredo sauce, a pot full of meatballs, bread and salad, and - of course - desserts galore!  I ended up cooking this lasagna.  It's slightly time-consuming, but I've done it so many times with no trouble at all, it's well worth the effort.  The slices hold together beautifully, and the blend of both ground beef and Italian sausage generously deepens the flavor. 

Lasagna is a great gift to a family in need.  It's hearty, comforting, and provides helpful leftovers.  The longer this one sits, the better it gets.  Once assembled, this recipe can be frozen and given to the recipients to use at their convenience.  It only requires an hour to thaw on the counter followed by baking as directed.

Put this one on your list soon and go bless someone!

World's Best Lasagna - 
makes one 9x13 pan (plus extra sauce)
  • 1 pound sweet Italian  sausage
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 2 cans (6.5 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. white sugar
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil  
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 1 container (16 oz.) ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 lb. mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
~  In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well 
     browned.  Stir in crushed tomatoes, paste, sauce and water.  Season with sugar, basil, 
     fennel, Italian seasoning, 2 tsp. salt, pepper, and 2 tbsp. parsley.  Simmer, covered for 30 
~  Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease 9x13 casserole dish.
~  Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Cook lasagna noodles about 8 minutes.  
     Drain and rinse with cold water.
~  In mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, remaining parsley and remaining salt.
~  Using a standard size soup ladle, spread two ladles of sauce on bottom of pan.  Follow 
     with three lasagna noodles.
~  Place heaping tablespoon of ricotta mixture on each noodle and spread across length of 
     noodle with back of spoon.  
~  Ladle meat sauce over ricotta cheese, and follow with slices of mozzarella cheese.
~  Repeat layers finishing with shredded Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.
~  Spray aluminum foil with non-stick spray and cover dish.  Bake for 25 minutes covered.  
     Uncover and bake 25 more minutes, or until cheese is golden and lasagna is bubbling.
~  Cool 15 minutes before serving.

Tips and Tricks

  • I only suggest simmering the sauce 30 minutes.  The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 hours.  I've done it both ways, and 90 minutes is not necessary.  If you are assembling a day ahead, you don't have to simmer at all, as sitting for several hours will allow the flavors to adequately develop.  If you are cooking immediately, do let the sauce simmer about a half hour, if possible.

  • This recipe makes about 2 or more cups extra sauce.  So plan ahead to use later in the week, or freeze.  It is WONDERFUL!

  • I let the noodles cook under al dente.  They will have no trouble finishing cooking in the meat sauce during baking time, and will soak up the flavor even more.

  • If you have a hand blender or immersion blended, I suggest using it with the ricotta mixture.  It makes it fluffier and much easier to spread, going further for the recipe.

  • I used to fret over the use of mozzarella cheese slices, thinking I needed to cover the entire surface.  There's not enough called for in the recipe to do this because it is not necessary.  I use a one-pound mozzarella log and thinly slice.  For each layer, I use about 5-6 slices.  Shredded mozzarella can be used in place of the slices, but the slices are more traditional in taste and consistency.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

summer in the south saturdays - (not just any) chicken salad

I think I have been subscribing to Cooking Light magazine longer than any other I get.  I just can't hardly wait until one shows up in the mailbox, and by about day 28 or 29, I'm getting antsy and wondering if it's even coming at all.  Crazy, I know, but it's such a treat for me, and, in fact, I'm not sure I get any more excited about Christmas, to tell you the truth.  It's the simple things, I suppose.

I have a kindred spirit in my friend, Kay, when it comes to all things cooking.  She, like myself, saves any cookbook, cooking magazine, blog post, for just the perfect time when she can savor every word.  So, a while back, she gave me the greatest gift... A stack of cookbooks she didn't want/use anymore just waiting for me on my desk one morning when I got to school.  It was a struggle to concentrate the rest of the day, knowing I'd get to go home, get the family to bed, take my spot in bed, and begin flipping through the pages with delight.  But the best thing about this gift?  These were not just any cookbooks.  Two of them were a year's worth of Cooking Light recipes, from two different years, all sorted according to seasons, full of meal ideas, gorgeous photos, you name it.  There is still so much I want to try, I can't even begin to tell you.  Actually, I still can't believe she gave them up!

Today's recipe is a slight adaptation of the first of many dishes from the mentioned cookbooks.  I've always been a huge fan of chicken salad, and I can appreciate it in simple form.  Grapes. Celery. Chicken. Mayo. Done.  But, what I really love is experimenting with different takes on the basic.  To me, chicken salad would definitely be a must-have on the menu of a southern bed and breakfast, as you don't visit a local tea room or quaint restaurant around here without seeing it prominently suggested on the menu.  Packed in a pita, served with a side of kettle chips, fresh fruit, and lemonade, it's a summer-in-the-south delight.

This particular mixture includes wonderful ingredients, as you'll see below.  But the toasted almond slices, in my opinion, puts it over the top.  It's slightly sweet, slightly salty, with just enough "special" to satisfy any chicken salad connoisseur.  If you are one, I highly encourage you to add this to your rotation.  It's worth every bite!

Chicken Salad - makes 3-4 servings

  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast  
  • 3/4 cup quartered seedless red grapes
  • 1/2 cup diced apples
  • 3 tbsp. diced pineapple
  • 1 tbsp. Craisins, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 cup sliced almonds, toasted*

~  Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
~  In a small bowl, whisk together next five ingredients and pour over chicken mixture.
~  Gently stir in almonds.

*  To toast almonds, heat skillet to medium heat.  Pour almonds into pan and shake about
    every 30 seconds until fragrant and golden, as pictured above.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light Recipes

Friday, July 20, 2012

"co-cola" cake

Chocolate.  It cures what ails me.

I had originally planned to post all quick and easy dinners this week, as I had previously stated in my earlier posts.  But as we all know, plans change, and I couldn't get through another day without capitalizing on the benefits of chocolate... real chocolate.

In the school office, we keep a stash of M&M's.  Any other day, that would suffice.  But after the craziness of the last few days, I knew exactly what would do the trick.  Coca-Cola Cake, or Co-Cola Cake, as I was taught to say it.

A true southern charm, the cake itself is extremely moist and so good... But the frosting... The frosting is a show stopper.  Make sure to spread it on while the cake is still hot to ensure a fudge-like goodness, and follow the recipe exactly.  If you do, it will work every time.  If you only have Diet Coke on hand and think the sugar called for will make up for it, don't bother.  I tried it and found it lacked considerable flavor.  This is definitely a perfect anytime cake and best shared with a glass of ice-cold milk and good friends.

"Co-Cola" Cake - makes one 9x13 cake

For the cake 

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups small marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa
  • 1 cup Coca-Cola
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the icing

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa
  • 6 tbsp. Coca-Cola
  • 1 box (16 oz.) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans *

To make cake

~  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
~  In a bowl, sift sugar and flour.  Add marshmallows.
~  In saucepan, mix butter, oil cocoa and Coca-Cola, and bring to a
~  Pour mixture over dry ingredients and blend well.
~  Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk just before adding to batter 
    along with eggs and vanilla, mixing well.
~  Pour batter into well-greased pan/s and bake 35-45 minutes.

To make icing

~  While cake cooks, combine butter, cocoa and Coca-Cola in a
     saucepan.  Bring to a boil.
~  Pour boiling mixture over confectioners' sugar and blend well.  
~  Add vanilla and pecans, if using.  
~  Spread over hot cake and cut in squares when cool.

*  If making for a crowd, I sometimes choose not to add pecans in case of allergies.  

Recipe from Coca-Cola Recipes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

amerigo's bow tie pasta caesar salad - lazy daisy style

There are few restaurants I visit that I am so into what I'm eating I have to go home and figure out how to make it myself.  It's not that I don't like them enough to go to the trouble, it's just nice to keep those particular dishes special, only to be eaten at their place of "invention," if you will.  Such is not the case with this salad.  

Years ago, working in the music industry, there were lots of lunches out, with one frequent stop being Amerigo.  As much as I tried to venture away from my usual, pushing myself to order anything else but this salad, I just couldn't do it.  I fell in love with it from the get-go and craved it for lunch and dinner, at the restaurant, or not.  The recipe is not complex whatsoever, but the flavors are all over the place and just perfect together.  With a blend of multiple condiments, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Pesto and Caesar dressing, all accompanying the superstar, Sun-Dried Tomato, I still, ten years later, love eating this like it's the first time I've had it.  

Knowing our hectic schedule this week, I put frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot overnight, enough to fill this salad and use for Friday's meal.  So this only required cooking noodles and putting it all together.  I did add the extra noodles to red marinara sauce for the boys, which begs me to share Daniel's comment while gobbling up his pasta:  "Man, these spices are so yummy, (chew) and the sauce (chew) just brings out their flavor..."


Yeah.  He's nine.  

At any rate, once again, we have super-fast, super-delicious, and really pretty (pretty does matter, doesn't it?).

I have included my pesto recipe that I promised in my first recipe post I'd share.  It's not necessary to have homemade pesto, or even homemade dressings, for the dish... but they do make it even better.  And who wants store-bought pesto when there's a plethora of beautiful basil growing right outside the door?  

Will you be the first to try this salad and tell us all about it? Would love to hear your comments.

Buon appetito!  That's Italian. :)

Amerigo's Bow-Tie Pasta Caesar Salad 
(lazy daisy style)
makes 2 servings

For the pesto
  • 1 cup walnuts or pine nuts, toasted
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 8 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

~  Place nuts, basil and garlic in food processor and pulse until nuts are finely chopped.
~  Leaving processor running, pour in olive oil until all ingredients fully incorporated and 
~  Season generously with salt and pepper.

For the salad
  • 1 1/2 head Romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and sliced
  • 4-5 sun-dried tomatoes from oil-packed jar, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups cooked bow tie pasta
  • 2 tbsp. shredded fresh parmesan cheese
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste 
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing, Caesar Dressing, Pesto

~  Divide lettuce and spread over plate. 
~  Divide and layer chicken, tomatoes and pasta.
~  Sprinkle with cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
~  Add desired amounts of dressings and pesto.  

*  I make pesto with our basil throughout the summer and freeze 
    extra in containers or freezer-safe baggies to use throughout the
    year.  It stays fresh for several months.

Recipe inspired by Amerigo.  Pesto recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Recipes    

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

salmon salad sandwich

When I need these two kitchen gadgets for a recipe, I know I'm going to love the end results!  It usually means something is getting zested and juiced.  Such is the case for tonight's Salmon Salad Sandwich; if you love lemon, you'll love this!  It's fresh, light and has just enough tang sitting between two delicious slices of White Mountain Bread.  I got home this evening at 5:15, mixed everything I needed, and had the full meal plated and eaten by 6:00, just in time to head out for VBS.  What a perfect choice for our evening's schedule and, oh, so healthy!

Salmon Salad Sandwiches
makes 4 servings

  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 small onion, grated
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) salmon
  • 1/4 cup cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 8 slices hearty white bread
~  In medium bowl, mix together 1 tsp. lemon zest, 3 tbsp. lemon 
     juice, and next five ingredients.  Let sit for five minutes.
~  Meanwhile, open salmon and drain.  Remove bones.
~  Add salmon to the bowl and mix.
~  Layer cucumber on bread slices and top each with about 1/4 cup
     salmon mixture.  Top with remaining bread slices.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light  

Monday, July 16, 2012

love people; cook them tasty old-fashioned pot roast

I hinted on The Lazy Daisy Kitchen Fan Page last night that there would be great recipes coming up over the next few days requiring little effort and heat.  Old-Fashioned Pot Roast is one of those no-fail, uber-flavorful dishes that is perfect for sharing with someone you'd like to bless.  It lasts for days and only requires a quick sear followed by a few hours spent with possibly my very best friend in cookware appliances...  The Crockpot (applause, applause)!  I just love this thing, and when used correctly, it can do circles around everything (and everyone) in the kitchen.  

I've tried all kinds of roast recipes, but this is my absolute favorite.  I usually prep it in 15 minutes around 8:00 in the evening, place the roast in the crockpot, set it to low, and have a roast just as good as  Grandma's (well, almost) by sunrise...  Can it get any better than that?!?

If you end up making this dish sometime soon, make sure to set some aside for the delicious sandwich I'll be featuring later this week.  And, speaking of that, check back often.  Our home congregation, Una Church of Christ, is having VBS every night through Friday.  Our family won't have much time to prepare big meals, so I'm looking forward to sharing with you a couple of new recipes, along with a couple of stand-by's, that will help get us through the week... just perfect for the busy - and hot - days of July.

Old-Fashioned Pot Roast 
makes 6-8 servings

  • one Angus beef chuck roast, 4-5 lbs. (for the most tender and flavorful, look for some marbling)
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup beef broth or red cooking wine (or mixture of both)
  • 3 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thick
~  Rub roast with salt and pepper.  Put aside.
~  Heat olive oil in large pot to medium-high.
~  While oil is heating, mix together flour and garlic powder in large resealable bag.
~  Place roast in bag and shake until completed coated.
~  When oil is shimmering*, carefully place roast in pot.  You should hear a nice sizzle.  Let
     it sit until a golden crust forms, turning around to do the same to get all sides.  
~  While roast is browning, slice onion and separate rings, spreading them at the bottom of 
     the crockpot.  
~  When roast has browned, place on top of onions.  
~  Keep pot heated and add the worcestershire sauce and broth/wine to pot, scraping 
     browned bits from the pan with a wooden spoon.  Let cook about one minute.
~  Poor juice over roast, set crock pot to Low, and let cook 8-10 hours until meat is fork 

* Olive oil has a lower heat tolerance than other oils.  If it is smoking, it is too hot and will 
    burn the flour coating.  Look for a shimmer in the oil, bump up the heat just a tad, and 
    the temp should be perfect.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

summer in the south saturdays - ginger tea

The Puffy Muffin.  Have you ever been?  If not, you need to go now.  It's a staple in Middle Tennessee... Brentwood, to be exact, and it is always packed!

My friend Jenny and I would go for nearly every special occasion.  That was years ago before there were five children between us, not to mention her family's move to Searcy.  Now I never ever see her ever...  EVER.  

But I'm not bitter or anything.

We've joked before that someday we will get together and go back when all the children are grown and graduated.  By then, I hope we can even remember how to get to the Puffy Muffin.

Jenny and I had our favorite meals we'd order, and we never, ever went without Ginger Tea. I'm not sure I'd ever even heard of tea punch, or any other tea outside of Lipton's, until I moved south.  It is one of the greats of all the southern specialties, and most definitely screams summer. Find yourself some mint to top it off and a comfy rocker on a front porch.  I guarantee you, there's nothing better!

Ginger Tea - makes one gallon
  • 3 heaping Tblsp. instant tea (plain, no sugar, no lemon) 
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 
  • 6 cups warm water 
  • 2 cups orange juice 
  • 6 ounce can frozen limeade 
  • 2 liters ginger ale (or enough to make one gallon) 
  • 1 bunch mint sprigs, optional
~  Combine the instant tea, sugar, and water. Stir well to ensure the water is dissolved. 
~  Add the orange juice and limeade. 
~  Refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, add enough ginger ale to make one 
~  Garnish with fresh mint, if desired.

Recipe from the Puffy Muffin Cookbook

Friday, July 13, 2012

rustic pizza on the grill - provolone and tomato

This should be the last dinner I have to grill.  I'll certainly do plenty more before the season's over, I'm sure, but today we're heading to Hoosier country for the weekend and our new gas stove should be here and working by the time I get home from work Monday evening.  I can't wait!

I have this fantastic quick pizza dough that has been on a curled up, food-stained piece of paper for as long as I can remember... so long, as a matter of fact, I can't remember where I ran across it.  At any rate, it's one of those that can be worked together fast, allowed to rise just a bit, topped and thrown in the oven, or on the grill, in no time.  It doesn't require a lot of proofing or fuss at all.  And it is tasty!

To save time, I made the dough Monday night, wrapped it in plastic wrap, put it in a Ziploc and threw it in the freezer.  Before I left for work, I moved it to the fridge to thaw.  As soon as I got home, I took it out and sat it on the counter about 30 minutes (out of the wrap) to let it come to room temperature.  In less than a half hour, we had a large pizza sizzling on the grill complete with homemade crust and fresh ingredients from our garden... no mess - or unwanted heat - in the kitchen.  It's the perfect summer supper for a weekday or weekend night!

Pizza on the Grill - Provolone and Tomato
makes one large pie

For the crust
  • 2 1/4 tsp. fast rise yeast
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup warm water, 110 degrees
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil 
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour      
For the topping
  • 10 slices provolone cheese (or enough to cover surface, leaving an edge of crust)
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, 
  • shredded
  • 3 small tomatoes, sliced
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • kosher salt to taste
~  Set fire in grill to a medium heat.  If using charcoal, make sure they're in a single layer, 
     once ashed over, to ensure even cooking.
~  Inside large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in water.  Let sit until it appears 
     foamy, about five minutes.  
~  Add oil and salt and stir.
~  Slowly add bread flour while stirring.  If using stand mixer, set on low with the paddle 
     attachment until ingredients fully come together.   
~  Flour clean surface and knead dough until smooth.  If needed, add flour a little at a time 
     to keep from sticking to hands.
~  When smooth, shape dough into ball and place into well-greased bowl.  Cover and let 
     rest about 10 minutes.
~  Remove from bowl and flour parchment paper well.  With your hands, press dough into 
     large circle.  If dough is springing back, let rest a few more minutes and try again.  It will 
     loosen up.
~  Once dough is stretched, brush with olive oil and transfer to well-oiled grill grates, oil
     side down.  Keep in mind, when doing this, the dough will lose it's shape somewhat, so 
     don't go for perfection.  This is a beautiful rustic presentation... rustic being the key 
~  Let crust heat for a few minutes until you see this:

~  Carefully, with tongs (and an extra hand, spatula, whatever it takes), flip crust over.
~  Sprinkle shredded parmesan cheese over surface and follow with the provolone slices.  
    Add tomatoes and basil.  Sprinkle with salt to your liking.
~  Close lid to finish cooking, peeking once in a while.  It should finish up in about 5-7 

Tips and Tricks
  • Keep a close eye on the bottom of crust to watch for burning and consider rotating if necessary. 
  • To continue slowly cooking the pizza without risking burning it, move it to one side and shift coals to the other to provide indirect heat and crisp up the crust without fail. 
  • If preferred, make this into 2 - 3 small pizzas for easier handling.  
Pizza crust recipe source is unknown.  Pizza topping ideas from The Lazy Daisy Kitchen