Monthly Archives: August 2012

Triple Threat Casserole- A “Betty” classic dish.

August 26, 2012

If I were to ever open a restaurant, or a small side business selling confections and sweets of sorts, it would definitely be called “Betty’s”.  “Betty” is my mother- her real name was Lauren, but when we were small kids, she asked my cousin Chris what her name was.  He couldn’t remember at the time, and responded with “You’re not Betty….”  And so, Aunt Betty it was from then on. 

I have a lot of “Betty” dishes in my repertoire.  Many of which, no one else really HAS..because God forbid she actually wrote them down or put in her measurements for a recipe she adjusted.  It took a lot of watching, a lot of guessing, and a lot of her method of “I don’t know, I just throw some in there”… to get some of them just right.  A few are written down on yellow paper, with red pen (her favorite combination)… but most, most are engrained in my head and in my heart, and today I share a favorite.

For anyone concerned with BUT ITS A FAMILY RECIPE!!!… “Betty” believed that food was for sharing and there are no secrets to our recipes.  She’d be tickled that I am sharing them, and that maybe someone else will try them and love them. 

Today is Betty’s “Triple Threat Casserole”.  Now, she didn’t call it that- ever- she simply called it the “Chicken with the Ham and Bacon” casserole.  I dubbed it triple threat because, let’s face it, it has 3 meats and I’d eat it morning, noon, and night.

It’s pretty easy peasy, and there’s a fancy dinner party version that I’ll note at the end as well.

Triple Threat Casserole

4 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 pack of bacon, cooked, cubed (how do you cube bacon?)
2 cups diced ham (or deli meat slices, “cubed” works too.)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 container (15 oz?) of sour cream
1 sleeve ritz crackers, crushed
1 stick of butter, melted.

Combine the cream of chicken soup with the sour cream. This will look super gross at first, but keep mixing it until its combined and a light “broth” type color. Throw in your meats. Toss that mixture into a baking dish. Combine the crushed up ritz crackers and melted butter and top your baking dish mixture with that. Pop into the oven at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes. I cover it with foil for the first 30 then take the foil off so the crackers are browned but not burnt.

This sucker is killer warm, but is also even deadlier to eat cold as leftovers for breakfast or lunch the next day. I’ve been known to take out the entire casserole in a day and a half- Don’t judge me.

(Note: I will take a picture of this when I make it on Tuesday, which would be “Betty’s” Birthday.)

For a fancier version if you’re having company over, you just don’t dice it up.  You take a chicken breast, drape a slice or two of ham over top of it, spoon some of the sour cream mixture over that, and then criss cross it with 2 strips of bacon and skip the cracker topping.  If serving it that way, it is divine atop fluffy white rice, and is also delightful with “smashed” potatoes.  Green beans pair well as a side, but get creative and do what works best for your guests and your family.

Until next time..
Happy Eating,
Jenny

Sundays at 4 (or, a rememberance of days gone by)

August 23, 2012

Tonight I uncovered something in my home that I haven’t seen in months. It had been so long since I had seen it, that I wasn’t sure it was still there, in fact.  In true archaeological fashion, I unearthed….

… My dining room table.

And it got me thinking about days gone by, just in general, but also in my own personal life.  When did the dining room table become the “catch all” spot?  How did I let this occur…and more importantly, how do I prevent it from happening again.  Now, I know what you’re thinking…is it really that big of a deal?  And for that, I will simply say YES.  So much can be learned, shared, debated, and put to rest around the dinner table.  You just don’t get that same feeling while eating your dinner in front of the television- I’m sorry, but you just don’t.  And it makes me sad to realize that these glorious pieces of furniture may become “something you have” rather than something you use…a true piece of archaeology for future sociologists to analyze.  As I uncovered my table, I whispered an almost silent apology to it, and made a vow to do better… to treat it better and with the respect that my dear table deserves, because YES, it is that big of a deal.

Here’s a little bit about my dining room table.  In my current house, it is the only table for us to eat at.  We do  not have a breakfast nook, a “bar”, an island, or an eat in kitchen.  We have a dining table, and an exquisite one at that.  The table has been passed down from family member to family member and was originally my great grandmother’s.  It’s huge.  Wide, rounded, and sturdy (not to mention heavy as hell).  Her seats creak and groan, the legs of the table are a little more wobbly now than they were originally, and she certainly shows her age.  Usually, I keep her covered with an extra wide table cloth (she’s a big girl!), but when I don’t- It’s magic.. because you see, this table…this place of gathering the family… it can tell stories. 

There are water glass rings, and scratches- marks from dishes that were too hot, (I’ve left a few marks of my own), dings and knicks… this table is close to 100 years old, at my best guess…I may be wrong on that, but she’s old.  Sometimes, people ask me why I don’t just sand it down and refinish it.  I could never.  It would erase her stories and her character, and to me, that is worth so much more than a perfect looking table.  It’s part of it’s beauty- being able to sit here at the same table that so many of my family members have sat at, and wonder, just a little bit, about who left that mark.  What were they eating on the night they left that water ring?  Which move put that little ding in the the one corner?  I try and picture my family gathered at this table with friends, enjoying a night of food, laughter, and love.  Much like we use to gather at my grandma Buffy’s table.

Every Sunday of my childhood, for probably the first 12 years, we went to Buffy’s for dinner.  Sundays at 4 were a special time.  And though I can’t recall what she cooked on any given Sunday.  (I assume a roast, but honestly, I can not recall for the life of me.)  I can remember the faces, the clinks and clatters, and the general buzz about the kitchen and dining room on those Sundays.  Sometimes there’d be 6 of us, sometimes 10, and my favorites, the Sundays where almost everyone was home… and we’d try to fit 15 to 20 of us all around the table.  There’d always be rolls, and salad… and Buffy would always sit at Pappap’s side and lead Grace.  Someone would say “Hit it, Pat” and off she’d go.  Ultimately, Pappap would make “monkey” faces at me while she did, I’d stifle a giggle, and mum would nudge me under the table.  Grace would end and daddy would start singing “Sing it overrrrrr…”  and the clink and clank of forks and knives would commence.  There we would sit, eat, and catch up on the week with one another until finally the food was cleared, coffee was poured, and the Russell Stover’s candy box made its’ appearance.  They were the happiest times of my life.

And so, as I stood in front of my dear dining room table tonight, finally unearthed, and in all of her glory… I had to wonder- will my children and grandchildren get to experience this?  Will they look back years later with the same fondness that I do for these times at the table?  I hope so, and plan to make every attempt to continue the tradition of Sundays at 4.

Until next time…
Happy Eating,
J

1 Minute Mug Cake

August 20, 2012

Hey there… do you have a minute?
Oh, you do??   Great- then you have time for this tasty mug cake!!

Go ahead, go get your mug… I’ll wait.

Ready?

Crack 1 egg into your mug and beat it.
Add 4 tbsp powdered sugar and 3 tbsp cocoa powder.  Stir.
Pop in the microwave for 60 seconds… then give it another 60 seconds before devouring…noone likes a burnt mouth from chocolate cake.

As variations, you can add a caramel (think milkmaids) to the mix before heating in microwave for a chocolate caramel cake…

You can add a hint of peppermint, or andes candies for a “grasshopper” cake

Tonight I topped ours off with Boysenberry Syrup- delicious.

And as always… icecream is a good way to go!

Enjoy!
J

Bridal Party Kit

August 1, 2012

10 DAYS remain ’til the big day, and I am a busy bee!!

Today I am putting together my girls’ survival kits.  I got them each a Vera Bradley “Knot Just a Clutch” bag in Very Berry Paisley.  (They also have totes)

Anyway, here’s what it looks like:

I like this clutch because it is a good size, has a zipper in the back, and has an optional strap that can attach or detach inside.  It stays shut because there are strong magnets.  All in all- lovely.  This picture doesn’t do it justice, and doesn’t show the true colors of it… it has some greens, some pinks, a raspberry color, and then dark chocolate brown.  Heaven.  (My girls are wearing chocolate brown cocktail dresses with raspberry colored shoes.)

Then I went about filling them.  Here is my list of what I am including:

Colgate Wisps
5 Hour Energy
Dr. Scholl’s Rub Relief
Tide To Go
Travel size Secret deodorant
Travel Pack of Tissues
Mini Nail Files (I got mine at 5 below for $1)
Travel Size Hairspray
Burt’s Bees Lip Balm (pack of 4 was $8, and there was a coupon)
Mini Altoids
A Penny

Then I wrote a poem to go with it.  Feel free to steal- it wasn’t hard to come up with!

Just a way to share my thanks,
For everything you do…
I’ve made this kit, for tomorrow,

To help to see you through!

There’s a pack of Wisps for your smile,
to keep it fresh and bright;
A dose of 5 hour energy
So you can dance all night!

You’ll also find relief
If your feet begin to ache
And a mini Tide To Go
For any spill that you might make.

I’ve left a little Secret
to keep those pits so dry,

And tissues for your eyes,
Just in case you cry!

There are tiny little files,
if a nail of yours should break;

And a bottle of some hairspray
To hold through all the pictures we’ll take!

There’s lip balm and some mints
to help preserve your kiss…
And finally a penny,

to make a special wish.

I couldn’t ever do this,
without you by my side.
You’re a truly precious friend,

and I’m such a lucky bride.


Thanks for sharing in the joy of the big day!

And that’s it!  All put together, it looks like this…

Can’t wait to give them to my girls! (Oh, and I got a clutch for myself too… don’t worry!)

Until Next Time,
J

A happy little breakfast treat…

August 1, 2012

Woah- Sounded like Bob Ross there for a minute with “Happy Little Trees”.  Sorry about that- rest assured, although my hair is big, it is NOT Bob Ross big, and I am not making anything close to trees.

These are, however, deliciously tasty and easy.  Today I give you variations on the OH SO POPULAR, Pinterest Pumpkin Muffins.  (See here- http://www.sprinklebakes.com/2009/11/healthy-2-ingredient-pumpkin-spice.html)

Alright, so here we go!  Spray a muffin tin down with cooking spray- I like my square muffin tin- something about them just looks fancier, but hey, use what you got!  Then go ahead and set your oven to 350, and if you are me… get that first cup of coffee and your mixing bowl.

Literally- 2 ingredients.  A lot of the versions of this recipe don’t specify what kind of cake mix, so I will just tell you through my trials and tribulations with making this as tasty as possible, USE THE SPICE CAKE MIX.  I’ve done chocolate, I’ve done yellow, I’ve done angel food (which turned out REALLY wrong) – use the spice cake mix.

Alright so you dump your boxed spice cake- DRY- into a bowl. Then you dump 1 15 oz of canned pumpkin in, and you stir like hell.  If you want to avoid dry little lumps, I recommend dumping 1/2 the pumpkin, then half the cake mix, STIR LIKE HELL, and lather, rinse, repeat with the second half of both the pumpkin and the cake mix.  When it’s good and mixed, it will be really thick and kind of sticky- thats why we sprayed the tin, my friend… make it easy on yourself and spray your big spoon before you scoop these into the muffin tins- helps the batter slide off easier! Pop them in @ 350 for 22 minutes. 

That’s it- thats all you do. 

While I’m waiting and my house is filling with the glorious aroma of spice and pumpkin, I usually think about how I want to top these bad boys.  Here are 3 favorites:

1) Cream cheese frosting and chopped walnuts.
     1- 8 oz package of cream cheese
     1/4 cup butter, room temp. (soft)
     A spash of vanilla
      1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Cream the cream cheese and butter, add in the vanilla and gradually add the sugar…  pretty easy. Then slather onto the muffins- there’s no point in piping it because the muffins wont have a smooth surface. Top w/ chopped walnuts- gorgeous.

2) Sprinkle w/ confectioners’ sugar- UM hello, easy.  If you dont have one of those sprinkling containers, a small sifter/ collapsible strainer  works just as well. (Hey- a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do)

3) Glaze- as shown in the picture!
   
There’s no real science to this glaze- I usually start with confectioners’ sugar and add in a bit of water until it gets to  the right thickness that I like… sometimes I have to add more sugar, sometimes more water- eventually you get it JUST right.  Then you can spoon, drizzle, or dunk your muffins.  I do a “dunk, twist, swirly flip” – dunk the tops of my muffins, twist for full coverage, swirl the excess off as I flip it back over.   Now- full disclaimer- glazing this way, and in general, is the messiest of the options.   However, it is mighty tasty.

And there you have it!  That’s really it.  If I make these in the morning for breakfast that very day… I usually just hit them with the powdered sugar- it’s quicker.  OR, I keep some canned frosting on hand- just in case I really need the combo of muffin and frosting- it’s nowhere near as good as homemade, but it works in a pinch.

Until next time, Happy Eating!
Jenny