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Monthly Archives: December 2011

This little piggy went to the crock pot

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It wasn’t until I had a baby (and started singing nursery rhymes ad nauseam) that I realized how many of those cute little rhymes are about the death of pigs. And the more you repeat those songs the more you start to think about the words. Mistake. The fact that our youth are not more traumatized is proof of their resilience. For instance, in the “this little piggy” rhyme one is going to market and one is eating roast beef. Why is a pig eating roast beef? Gross. And one little pig escapes and goes running home screaming “whee, whee, whee.” The last place an escaped pig should probably run is home. I think we can all assume that little piggy went straight back to the market. Well, the market in town (aka Hy-Vee) had a fabulous sale on country-style ribs so that little piggy went home with me and straight into the crock pot.

My husband and I have this great little pact where I cook and he does dishes. Heavenly, I know, and yes, he’s taken… HAPPILY. One of his requirements, however, is no bones. Country-style ribs fall into that category and if I throw a crock pot liner in that puppy I have one happy husband, or at least one that doesn’t grouse during clean-up. And what goes better with ribs than cornbread? Voila! We have dinner.

I also included peach cobbler because I had those leftover frozen peaches from the banana bread chilling in my fridge. We’d hate to waste fruit. It’s good for you, you know. You could use any frozen fruit in this cobbler recipe. Just use up that stash of fruit that you buy when it is on sale at the grocery store. Oh, you don’t do that? Hmm…

Cornbread

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375. Grease an 8 inch square pan.

Melt butter. Stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine cornmeal, flour, baking soda, and salt until well blended. Add egg mixture and buttermilk. Stir until combined. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes.

Country-Style Ribs

  • 3 to 4 pounds boneless pork country-style ribs (I only use a pound for the two of us)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1 bottle (16 to 18 ounces) barbecue sauce, about 1 1/2 cups

Put the sliced onions in the bottom of the slow cooker, then place pork on top. Sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper, brown sugar, and minced garlic; turn the pork ribs to coat all pieces. Pour apple juice evenly over the pork.

Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours.

Pour barbecue sauce over the pork and stir slightly to distribute the sauce. Cover and cook on LOW for 1 hour longer.

Fruit Cobbler

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 cups fruit (12 oz. bag of frozen, no need to thaw)

Heat oven to 350.  Put butter in 8-inch square pan and place in oven to melt. When butter has melted, remove pan from the oven.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and milk in small bowl. Mix until smooth. Pour batter into pan with melted butter. Scatter fruit over the batter.

Bake until batter browns and fruit is bubbly, 50-60 minutes.

A bird in a pie is worth two in the bush.

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In my book, the only good chicken comes wrapped in cellophane. The best chicken comes in a pie. A childhood marred by poultry is to blame for my dislike of live birds. But I digress and now is not the time for a discussion of life on the farm.

Tonight’s dinner was a special request and being the biddable wife that I am I acquiesced. Okay, so it may have had more to do with the fact that he took down all the Christmas decorations and rather than help I took a nap. Besides, I’m pretty fond of this chicken pot pie, too. If you have the time, make this recipe with the pastry crust. If you don’t have the time you could just make the guts and put them over biscuits but try the crust at least once, it is AMAZING. It takes some time and a lot of kneading but it is well worth the effort and exertion.

Pastry

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • chives
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 7 tablespoons heavy cream

Chicken and Vegetables

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup frozen petite peas, thawed

Sauce

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • poultry seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the pastry: Place the flour and chives in a bowl. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the cheese and work in until just blended. In a small bowl, whisk together the yolks and 7 tablespoons of the cream. Sprinkle the yolk mixture over the pastry dough, a little at a time, stirring with a fork until pastry comes together. Add remaining cream if necessary. Knead lightly until just combined. Press pastry into a circle. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the vegetable oil. Sauté the chicken for 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned but not cooked through. With slotted spoon, remove chicken to bowl. 

In the same pan over medium-high heat sauté the carrots, celery, and onions 5 minutes. With slotted spoon, remove vegetables to another bowl. Stir peas into vegetables.

Prepare the sauce: In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until the mixture is bubbling and smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in stock, cream, and seasoning. Return skillet to heat, bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Cook for 2 minutes until sauce has thickened and is smooth. Stir in reserved chicken and vegetables. Set aside to cool for about 20 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spoon cooled chicken and vegetable mixture into a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into a circle 11-inches in diameter. Place pastry on top of chicken mixture. Trim pastry edge, fold overhang under and press gently all around baking dish to make a decorative edge. Brush pastry with beaten eggwash. Using a knife, cut 3 slits in center of pie.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown, chicken and vegetables are tender and filling is heated through.

“You’re a bad banana with a greasy, black peel.” -How The Grinch Stole Christmas

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I’m one of those strange people who refuses to eat bananas as soon as they get so much as a shadow past greenish-yellow. But, being the cheap, resourceful person that I am I set those bananas aside and wait for them to get a charming shade of brownish-black… delicious. And then we have the perfect ingredient for Banana Bread… a family favorite in my house.

Here’s the recipe:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3-4 mashed bananas
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel

Grease a loaf pan. Heat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients in bowl. Make a well in dry ingredients and set the bowl aside.

Mix egg, bananas, sugar, oil, and lemon peel. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and stir just till moistened. This is not the time to work those arm muscles. Just stir until the flour disappears.

Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool about 10 minutes in pan and the remove from pan to cool on rack.

If simple banana bread is a bit too… well, simple you can dress it up a bit. Throw a few peaches on your sliced bread and then drizzle some warm cream on top. I know, I know but trust me, this is good. I used frozen peaches because it is December in Iowa and let’s be honest, fresh peaches aren’t fresh. You could also use canned peaches and plain milk if you are trying to be a bit healthier. I suppose.

Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas! For clergy-folk the holiday season doesn’t really begin until Christmas services end. This year was crazier than usual with Christmas falling on Sunday and a big funeral on Friday. Yes, that makes three services and three sermons in three days. Needless to say I’m more than a little behind on my holiday baking *sigh*. So it was with great excitement that I scurried to the kitchen after returning home from Christmas morning service and opening presents with the hubs and the babe. While they napped and played with new presents I closeted myself with the scent of chocolate and my mixer!

So, what was the menu for Christmas dinner? This year we celebrated Christmas with all the family the two weekends before Christmas so it was just our little family for Christmas dinner. That meant no large, ridiculous dishes that I would normally be drawn to. Let’s be honest, I can’t cook for fewer than four. This year I went with roast duck, roast potatoes, ginger carrots, yeast rolls, and the mandatory buche de noel. Hey, Christmas is no time for healthy. Butter and cream, folks. I’m like Paula Deen without the accent or hair.

Normally I would decorate the buche de Noel with meringue mushrooms and chocolate truffles but they just didn’t get made this year. Ah, well maybe next year. Click here for the recipe.

 

I know the title of my blog is “breaking bread with Meg” but in reality I’m pretty lazy when it comes to baking bread. I have a deep love and appreciation for my bread-maker, it makes my life and marriage much easier. No matter what I cook if I have a pan of these rolls around my very picky husband is happy. Here’s the recipe.

Okay, so the picture isn’t the most flattering shot of a spud but trust me, these are delicious. And they’re easy. Win, win. We can forgive them for not being photogenic. Here’s the recipe. The recipe calls for vegetable oil but I’m an olive oil girl myself. I also lined my baking sheet with parchment paper because these potatoes tend to stick.

I have a confession, I LOVE dark meat. And duck rocks my world. How, you ask, does one convince a picky eater husband to eat duck? Well, kids, it is just a chicken that swims. I stuffed my duck with clementines because I had them sitting around but any citrus would work. I also dusted and doused it (generously) with poultry seasoning, garlic, pepper, salt, and lemon juice. Trust me, you can’t go wrong with a duck. Just remember, they only feed about two people per bird. Here’s the basic recipe.