Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Taco Mac and Cheese for the After School kids

I made this earlier today for the kids afternoon meal.                                                                                                                   
 I browned 5 pounds of ground beef and added taco seasonings, black beans and a can of rotel.  This is spread in the base of the slow cooker.

 Then I boiled 5 pounds of pasta.

 This is a good way to use up excess cheese.  I combined some Velveeta, Swiss, mozzarella and cheddar with milk and seasonings.

 When the pasta was al dente, I drained it and tossed it with some diced peppers.

 The melted cheese is combined with the pasta.

 Doesn't this look like something that a bunch of really hungry kids will dig into?  The pasta is spread over the ground meat.

 I topped it with mild jalapenos.  I just know the kids will enjoy this.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Baked Goat Cheese in a Rich Tomato Sauce

I made this for my daughter and her chef boyfriend last night.  This is a great appetizer or a nice light dinner served with a salad.
 In a heavy skillet I sauteed lots of garlic, shallot, anchovies and onion in a bit of olive oil.  I forgot to take pics but then I de-glazed the pan with 1/4 cup of red wine and I added 3 cups of my tomato sauce from this past summer's garden and a few tablespoons of tomato paste.  This cooks over medium heat until it thickens and then I added salt and pepper and a bit of oregano.  A lot of this is done to taste.

 Pour the sauce into a heat proof platter and place chunks of goat cheese on top.  Sprinkle with some fresh basil.

Bake this at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  I made them french bread to spread it on and garlic bread fingers.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Potato and Kielbasa Soup with Cheese

It's officially count down to Xmas time so I got my vintage Santa measuring spoon holder out.  He has a spoon in each hand.

And two sticking out of his back.


Today the after school kids are getting a very hearty, healthy soup.  Here is the basic recipe, I made this X 5.

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1½ - 2 pounds smoked sausage sliced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery diced
  • 1 cup diced sweet peppers
  • 2 diced carrots 
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Dice the carrots, onions and celery.  Saute' them along with the diced peppers for a couple ofminutes.  Add the stock and the cubed potatoes.  I also added broccoli and kale.  Add the broth and bring to a low boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender.  Add the sliced sausage and cook until heated through. Add the cream and the seasoning.  Taste it and adjust if necessary.
  2. Stir in shredded cheese until melted. Serve immediately.
I made honey butter cornbread to go with it.

It's cold and damp here today so the kids will love this.  BTW....I think a lot of you think these kids are very young, they aren't.  The after school kids are all between 15 and 17. Which helps to explain why they are capable of eating 18 quarts of this soup at one sitting

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gingerbread Cake with Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting

It's full speed ahead for Xmas now so to start the season off, I made a gingerbread cake with molasses cream cheese frosting.
 This is a big cake!  Three layers and it is dense and moist. I got this recipe from a blog in the UK so I weighed my ingredients:

  • For the gingerbread cake
  • Dry ingredients
  • 350g | 12.3oz plain flour
  • 330g | 11.6oz dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ––––––––
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp treacle (molasses)
  • 200g | 7oz cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 200ml | 7fl oz whole milk + 1 tbsp fresh orange or lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 3 tbsp very finely diced candied (crystallised) ginger


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease and line three cake tins - or spray with cake release.
  2. Sift all the dry ingredients and add them to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to combine.
  3. Add the cubed butter and mix for a couple of minutes until the mixture resembles sand.
  4. Add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the treacle.
  5. Add the milk, vanilla extract and zest and beat together. Stop and scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl. Continue mixing for a couple of minutes until batter is smooth.
  6. Fold the chopped ginger into the batter and divide between the prepared cake tins.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.




For the frosting: 
  • 2 8 oz pkg cream cheese
  • 1 stick butter
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp milk

For the Frosting
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with butter until combined.
  2. Add molasses and vanilla. Beat on low until well combined.
  3. Add a little powdered sugar at a time. Mix until each addition is well combined.
  4. Add 1 teaspoon of milk after 4 cups of powdered sugar have been added.
  5. Finish mixing in the powdered sugar and the remaining teaspoon of milk.
  6. Frost cake once it has cooled completely.




 I always place waxed paper around the bottom layer to keep the cake plate clean.  Just pull it away after frosting.

 I forgot to take a pic of all three layers assembled.

 I also refrigerate this for several hours before cutting.

 This has an extra gingery flavor because of the addition of the candied ginger.

 It tastes like Xmas!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up Post


You might see this photo and be under the impression that I am somehow responsible for all the food and festivities before me.  That was intentional.  I told my sister to take my picture and I did the "I made this!" pose, as you can see here.  But it's a lie!  My mother did all of the cooking and planning and decorating.  However, I *did* play a big part in finishing the green bean casserole dish that's two pans to my left.  


This is the pre-Thanksgiving spread that my mother made for us on Thanksgiving morning.  You can see her cranberry corn bread, as well as two pumpkin pies.  In the foreground are these things called Muffin Tops.  They're like muffins, but just the top half, as the name implies.  I had never heard of these before Thanksgiving, but we are now well acquainted.  I am proud to report that everything in this photo is now gone from the Earth by way of stomachs.  Well, just the food.  Not the glass trays or the counter.  We aren't animals.



Here are some turkeys.  I believe they are not different states of the same turkey.  The top one was the 'eat' turkey and the bottom one was the 'show' turkey.  Nevertheless, they both became the 'eat' turkey by the end of the night.  I don't know what that rub stuff is that my mother used on the top turkey, but it was delicious.


Here is the table where all the eating went down.



Here is a pecan pie in various stages of consumption.  I love this pie so much.  For my next birthday I want a swimming pool full of this pie.  By the end of the night, we somehow had one whole pecan pie left over.  My sister brought it to work and let her coworkers eat it!  I now consider myself an only child.  There's no way those coworkers did anything to deserve all that delicious pie.  My sister was way too nice to them.



There's a closeup of the pumpkin pie above.  And a picture of what I believe is banana nut bread.  I just realized while writing this that I did not eat any of this bread pictured above.  Look, there was a ton of food.  I apologize to my mother and to the banana nut bread.  It looks delicious.


I thought I'd close with another picture of the cranberry corn bread.  The youth where I work love this stuff.  They talk about it on a fairly regular basis.  This bread is capable of spreading happiness across all lines of potential separation in this country:  generational, economic, racial, gender, political, cultural, and so on and so forth.  Everyone loves this bread.  It doesn't matter who you are.  If you are alive, you'll like it.  Unless you don't like cranberries, but even then, this might be an exception.  And in my opinion, that's what Thanksgiving is all about.  We set aside our differences and remember that there's one thing we can all agree on: food is delicious.  Especially my mother's food.  

By the way!  Everyone who reads this, please comment and ask my mother to make us another pecan pie.  I won't let my sister bring it to work this time.  My wife and I will eat it.  It's so delicious.  We can't wait another 365 days!

-Blog Tech

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving 2016

 It's finally here and I have very little to do today compared to the last week or so.  I have a second turkey to roast, cream to whip and stuffing to make.  Then it's time for dinner.
 I made my pumpkin pies yesterday.

 And made some cutouts out of extra pie crust.

 To decorate the tops.

 I roasted the first turkey and carved it so when the guests arrive, I will have a whole turkey on the buffet and a carved turkey ready for the guests to eat. 

 I made a cranberry cornmeal cake for dessert too.  Two pecan pies, 2 pumpkin pies, lindzer cookies, pumpkin raisin cookies, this cake and lots of whipped cream for everything.

 I set up a floral workplace on top of my washer and dryer.

And made these arrangements to place around in the dining room. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Day Before Thanksgiving

 The guest house tables are set and the place is almost ready for the big dinner.  I'm using my old dining room tables which enable me to seat 14 people.  I recently ordered 2 new tables, chairs and benches which will let me seat 22-24 people.  We are going to need it.  I set the buffet up with chafing dishes to keep everything warm and people can help themselves.

 Yesterday I made the pecan pies.  Today I make the pumpkin pies and the cranberry cake.

The sweet potato casserole is ready to be baked though photobucket seems to already have eaten half of it.

 Green bean casserole.

 Creamed pearl onions and baby peas.

And a lot of gravy!  Gravy is the best part of the dinner.  I have about another 10 hours of cooking.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The After School Kids Thanksgiving Treat

 Yesterday was the last day I cooked for the after school kids until after Thanksgiving break.  I am so busy getting ready for Thanksgiving that I decided to make them a huge meat and cheese platter since I can whip one up fast.  It is always one of their favorite things and for this one, I made them something special.  A turkey cheese ball!  This platter is almost 3 feet long so they had plenty to snack on.  This is the recipe for the cheese ball:

ingredients:

  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, divided
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 (1-ounce) package Ranch Seasoning and Salad Dressing Mix 
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. In a food processor,pulse all but 6 pieces of the cooked bacon, half of the pecans and 2 tablespoons parsley; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, cheddar cheese, goat cheese, Ranch Seasoning, Worcestershire and 6 pieces of diced bacon and parsley on medium-high until well combine.
  4. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. Shape the mixture into a ball and roll in the prepared bacon-pecan mixture.
  5. Serve with crackers.

I sent along apples to be sliced and served with it and some different flavored mustards and lots of additional crackers and pretzels.

Make the turkey head by using a Slim Jim and attaching a piece of candy corn to it with royal icing.  Make the eyes using two dots of royal icing with a black peppercorn in the center.  Ritz Crackers are the nest and pretzel sticks are the tail feathers.

I hear that the kids were thrilled with this though they weren't sure what it was.  None of them had ever seen a cheese ball before.  Really something, eh?