Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Too hot to cook!

Well, we've had a hot spell in Oklahoma and it looks like we're in for a long, hot spell!  I'm glad I've got my watering systems running so I don't have to constantly drag hoses all over....now I just have to water the potted plants every night!  I set my zones on timers to come on early morning and water so I don't have too.  It saves me so much time and my plants and garden thanks me!

Looks like it is going to be a lean tomato year this year because of the heat.  When the nights are over 85 degrees, tomatoes don't set fruit well.  I have about 15 tomatoes on 20 plants!  Not good odds but nothing I can do.  My okra is going great though and my eggplant likes hot weather also! 

When the days get over 100 degrees, I really have a hard time getting motivated to cook.  I hosted families from England and Australia last weekend and cooked for 13.  I had work ladies and kids over Monday and made lunch for 12.  I'm kind of burned out now.  It's too hot to cook so I look for easy no-cook or low cook meals.  Salads and sandwiches fit the bill.   I absolutely refuse to turn on the oven...not so with my son. He's on the bad list right now because I came home and he had cooked a frozen pizza in the oven so the air conditioner is running!  We have a convection oven!  USE IT!!!!!

He also is on the bad list because all his and his buddies dirty dishes are all over.....that will be remedied soon.
I don't clean up after him, he's almost 15, he knows where the dishwasher is! 

Back to dinner, tonight, we are having a chilled pasta salad.  I've got some leftover crab salad from the luncheon so I'm going to toss it with cooked rotini pasta and add a light ranch dressing.  I've got cucumbers from the garden and I'm calling it dinner! 

Tomorrow night, we're having grilled chicken taco salad.  I grilled extra chicken on Saturday so I have plenty in the freezer for at least three or four meals.  It really does get too hot to grill in Oklahoma!  I usually grill early in the day from now until about mid-September....I get tired of my face melting off standing over that hot grill!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Almost back to normal...

Well, the house is quiet again.  One child is home from camp, the other comes home tomorrow.  We've had a steady stream of company since June 10th!  It's been wild around here! 

I got to visit with my best friend, she came down for a few days while my kids were at camp.  My husband would have gone out of town for the duration but I think he promised the other husband and that he would stay and 'supervise'!  We're kind of like Lucy and Ethel....you just never know what we'll do!  We did lay out in the sun by the pool and burned our bods...one would think that two middle aged women, with college educations and kids would have better sense than to lay out all day!  Oh no! We burned ourselves to crisps!  But it was a fun, fun day...no kids to bother us, no snacks or lunches to make, no laundry....just us laying out.  On second thought, it might have been better had we gotten up a few times!

My daughter came home from working at camp this week.  She was a server and she's oh so tired tonight.  I was proud of her because even though the teens 'in charge' of the group turned out to be really bad at being in charge, she took it like a Christian lady....her mother would probably not have taken it with as much grace. She can teach me a lot sometimes.

My son comes home tomorrow from a leadership camp.  I've been praying that he learns and grows a lot.  I am anxious to hear about his time....I've only spoken to him once the entire week and that's because I called yesterday to make sure he was still alive!  I guess it's a good thing, no news is good news at camp!  My daughter called several times to have someone to gripe too....she didn't want anyone at camp to know what a rotten time she was having.  She finally did start having a better time when she stopped worrying about trying to be perfect and just do her best. 

This weekend will be wild and then hopefully, all will settle down!  I'm hosting families from three different continents this weekend, malaysia, austrailia, and england!  I'm cooking good-old American fare, that's what was requested.  My menu will be a fusion of several types of dishes....appetizer is chips and homemade salsa, main dish, grilled chicken with pasta with vodka cream sauce, brushetta and bread, green beans, sliced cucumbers and a green salad.  I'm making hummingbird cake and tiramisu for desserts.  I'll be sharing some of the recipes this next week!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Busy, busy, busy!

Sorry I'm not posting this week! We've had company since last friday night and I'm so busy entertaining that I can't get anything posted!  I'll catch up next week, I promise!

It's amazing when you look at your town as a tourist, there are so many fun and interesting things to do around my town!  Try looking around your own town through a tourists eyes!  You may decide that 'staycation' isn't going to be so bad.  Something I'm trying to do is not do my normal cleaning chores this week.  If I was staying at a rental house, I wouldn't feel like I needed to wash the windows or sweep the floor constantly....so I'm not feeling bad this week if a little dust builds up or the bathroom mirror has a little toothpaste spit on it....so what, I can clean next week when the guests are gone!

I'm not going to Martha this up! I'm going to be Mary a little!  I'll catch you all next week!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Deal on Bananas....

Got a big bag of bananas today at the grocery store for $1.49.  I love when I can get that bargain!  This means banana bread!  I recently made a couple of loaves and they were gone almost before they came out of the oven...my daughter and husband almost came to a wrestling match!   This time, I baked a couple of loaves for the company we're having this next week. I'm going to wrap it and store it in the downstairs fridge so no one will eat it!

I had a bunch of leftover bananas even after baking two loaves.  I peeled them, cut them into thirds, put the over ripe ones in a freezer bag for future bread and smoothies and then dipped the rest in chocolate that I bought after easter!  They are in the freezer for tonight after the pool!

Here's my recipe for banana bread. I've used this recipe for 20 years. Got the recipe from the Thomas family recipe book my mom gave me in 1988 for Christmas. Must have been a fund-raiser book, I enjoy it and use it a lot!

Banana Bread
Sift Together:
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix together:
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs (one at a time)
1/3 cup shortening/butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts - I use pecans
2-3 cups (1 cup) mashed bananas

Add dry ingredients and pour in 1 greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 55 minutes.  I double and make 2 loaf pans at one time. Let cool 10 minutes then turn out onto a cooling board.

This bread freezes well.  let cool completely before wrapping and freezing

Friday, June 10, 2011

Grilled Veggies...

This is my favorite new seasoning! Well, it's not new, I've already been through 3 bottles....I guess it's my favorite summer seasoning!

I usually use this on my green salad but I've started using it on my grilled veggies and it is sooooo good!

Grilled veggies

Yellow squash, zuchinni, potatoes- white or sweet, carrots, green beans, eggplant, onion whatever is growing in the garden that needs to be eaten; cut into 2 inch squares or 1/2 inch slices.

Chop the veggies and place on  heavy duty aluminum foil that has been sprayed with no-stick cooking spray or drizzled with olive oil.  Sprinkle with Cavender's greek seasoning(salt-free) and chopped garlic.  You can add extra fresh basil or parsley.  Seal up with another aluminum foil sheet.  Place on hot grill for 10 minutes, flip and cook another 5 minutes.  Remove from grill and carefully open packet to check for doneness.  I will sometimes, put the foil packet back on the grill if it needs a few minutes to cook or open it up and cook it while my meat is cooking so the veggies get more oven baked instead of steamed.

Serve with more of the seasoning....oh it is so good.  make sure you cook extra, a fritata using this veggie combination makes for an easy weeknight meal!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Homemade Salsa

My local grocery store had good looking tomatoes for a dollar a pound this week....I'm thinking homemade salsa!  We love it and it's so healthy made at home! My kids will definitely get their five servings of veggies when homemade salsa is around.

I use about 5 pounds of tomatoes when I whip up a batch because usually, I end up sharing with others.  This is one of those recipes that you add as much as you like to your taste recipes.  I'll just give you the basics.

Chopped tomatoes.  I use about 5 pounds but you can use as many or as little as you can use.  I usually hand chop but you can use a food processor if you promise not to pulverize them!

One can- diced tomatoes - put the contents (not the can! I'm being silly today!) in a blender, not a food processor. don't ask me why but a food processor just doesn't seem to work as well.  you'll have to ask a food engineer to explain the difference, school is out for me!  Blend until chunky.

Chop 1-2 onions, I use a sweet white onion this time of year.  I also will chop a few green onions so it is pretty.  Add to the tomatoes to taste.

Chop red/yellow/orange peppers - add to taste, for my 5 pounds, that's one pepper each.

Chop cilantro, garlic and add to taste.  For my 5 pounds, about 1/2 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup garlic.

at least one jalapeno pepper/serano/your pepper of choice - I will add a little and wait a couple of hours before adding more.  Each pepper will be uniquely hot so don't assume what you added last time will be the same this go around.....experience speaking!

cumin, for 5 pounds of tomatoes, about 1-2 tablespoons
Lemon juice, 1/2 cup for 5 pounds of tomatoes
add salt to taste or diet preference.

Mix all together and let sit for a couple of hours before adding extra pepper, spices.  This tends to get better as time goes on!

I have frozen this before in freezer containers and just added a green onion once it's thawed.  It's not fresh salsa but it's pretty close in December!  I usually can't keep it around that long though.....

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

One Crust Blueberry Pie

I love this recipe! I took it from a pick your own website.  I adapted it a bit for me but I usually do!  I also use the basic recipe with blackberries but add a bit more sugar! I like that it only has a bottom crust, I'm not a fan of crust, I like a brown sugar topping instead.

One Crust Blueberry Pie

one pie crust, you'll need a deep dish pie pan; many recipes for pie crust out there....I use pillsbury already pie crust...I hate making pie crust!
5-6 cups frozen blueberries; put blueberries in a colander, run warm water over them to thaw and let sit to drain
mix together; 2/3 cups granulated sugar and 7 Tablespoons plus 2 T tapioca (omit if you use fresh blueberries); 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Add to the dry mixture:
2 Tablespoons lemon juice and 3 Tablespoons grape juice or other dark juice - cherry, pomegranete, etc.
Place drained berries into prepared pie shell and pour mixture over.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour (can be whole wheat)
1/4 cup butter, slightly softened
Mix these three ingredients by cutting butter into the sugar and flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.  I use my kitchen shears to cut the butter!

Sprinkle the topping on top of the pie. 
Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour until the crust is golden.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and you're family will love you for at least a day! 

PS- there will be no leftovers,  if there are by chance, cover loosely and store in your fridge....you're husband will eat the last piece the next morning for breakfast with yogurt and call it fruit and yogurt!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Summer cooking...

It's always a party at my house in the summer...I'm either cleaning up from a party or preparing for a party!  Summertime means living easy....at least that's what someone said...it must have been a man because I never seem to be living easy!  I love to entertain, I feel that it's serving someone else to entertain and I love when my kids or my husband invites someone to share our home.  I am just feeling a little overwhelmed after this week!

We have hosted someone or a bunch of someones the last three weekends.  This weekend, I cooked big meals on both friday and saturday nights.  Sunday, I declared a day of rest and leftovers....so after church, we headed to my favorite mexican restaurant and then had leftovers for dinner; remember to always cook more than you'll eat on the grill!  I did make a blueberry pie for my father-in-laws birthday.....I guess I just can't stop myself! 

Grilling played a big part in the meals and my husband is not the grill king.  His family never grilled...I mean never.  My family, on the other hand, would grill everything they could!  So---when grilling season hits, and that's pretty much year round in Oklahoma, I hit the grill!  Since it's been over ninety-five degrees this week, I grill while I'm hot and sweaty and then put the meat in the crockpot until I'm ready to serve it.  That way, I can shower and change before the company arrives!  I marinated chicken for one night and port tenderloin the next.  I used the same Okie marinade I've posted on here...it works for chicken , pork or steak.  I then put the cooked meat in the crockpot with a liner(no clean-up at midnight), and pour a little pineapple juice and soy sauce over the meat and lay fresh pineapple slices on top.  Keeping the crockpot set on warm ensures that the meat stays hot but doesn't overcook. 

This allows me to time everything a bit easier...I hate to be waiting on the meat or forget the meat and have charcoal..  Kate loves it, me...not so much!

Speaking of Miss Kate, she's the best dog in the world!  I went out to start and clean the grill and carried out my tenderloins.  I started, cleaned and started back in the  house to get my grill tongs.  As an afterthought, I called back, 'do not get that meat!'.  My husband was coming into the kitchen and stood off watching this scene.  He said, 'you realize you just told a dog not to eat something?'  'Yes, I replied, she won't eat it, she knows that she'll get a bite after it's cooked.  He laughed and laughed and said he'd run into town later to get me more meat.....she didn't eat it!  He couldn't believe it!  I told you she's the best dog in the world....she likes the scraps mixed into her nightly food...she's a food snob, what can I say?

I'll post my recipe for blueberry pie tomorrow!