Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cinnamon Raisin Crisps

Dear Santa:

Please don't forget to stop by our house tonight. I have made your favorite cookies and promise that I won't let The Fly Rod Gawd eat all of them before you arrive. They turned out really good this year. They are crispy and have lots of cinnamon, just the way you like them.

I'll even have some "Jolly" Java waiting for you, and since Rudolph is your designated driver I know you can indulge without reservation.

Drive carefull and I hope you have a lot of good boys and girls to deliver to this year, and I hope you will bring lots of toys.


The Saucy Bird

Cinnamon Raisin Crisps

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Egg yolk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup natural raisins
1/3 cup crispy rice cereal

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in yolk and salt. Mix in flour and cinnamon just to blend thoroughly. Mix in raisins and cereal to distribute evenly. On lightly floured surface, roll into a 12" long. Wrap securely and refrigerate at least 1 hour

With sharp knife, cut 1/3" thick slices, and place 1" apart on baking sheets.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 15 to 20 minutes until cookies are set and bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to racks to cool completely.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Express Lane 3 Bean with Bacon Soup

Nothing seems to satisfy like a steaming hot bowl of homemade bean with bacon soup. The problem is that it takes so long to make. I mean, you have to soak the beans overnight and then simmer them for 2 hours to get those tasty little beans soft. The result for me is pure heaven but I rarely have enough time to get a pot together.

Well, not anymore! I am taking a lot of help from the store but the result is a delicious, mouth watering pot of the most soul satisfying soup you have ever had. And the great part is that it only takes as long as the cornbread takes to bake. Really----- I'm not kidding.

I know that there are plenty of good quality condensed soups on the market today, but nothing beats homemade soup. And, with the help of your local market and a quick trip through the express lane you can have this soup quicker than you can say: "Bob's your Uncle!" Not only is it a great stick to your ribs kind of meal, it's really economical, nutitious, it feeds a crowd and I haven't met anyone who doesn't enjoy a nice hot cup of soup, and frankly if I do I'm not sure I would want to know them.

Express Lane 3 Bean with Bacon Soup

1 box Corn Bread mix
12 ounces peppered bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large white onion, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 ham steak, diced
2 quarts low sodium chicken stock
1 (15 ounce) can Pinto Beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can Red Beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can Diced flavored Tomatoes

Prepare the Corn Bread according to package directions.

Meanwhile, Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until light brown. With a slotted spoon remove the bacon to paper towels. Leave about 2 tablespoons of fat in the bottom of the pan and discard the rest. Add the onions, carrots and diced ham. Saute until onions are translucent. Add the chicken stock and reduce heat to medium low. Add the all of the beans and the tomatoes to a large bowl, stir to combine. Reserve one cup of the mixture and add the rest to the pot. With a fork or potato masher, mash the reserved bean mixture until mashed but still chunky. Add to the pot, stir well and simmer until ready to serve.

Serve hot over fresh cornbread and enjoy!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Crispy Crumb Coated Broccoli

I know that this is the time of year that everyone is making those deliciously gooey, sweet decadent treats that we only get once a year, so I thought I would share something that is a little bit on the healthy side.

A few years ago, the Fly Rod Gawd's doctor put him on a diet and it was up to me to figure out ways to get him to eat healthier foods. We all now that if I'd let him he would have chocolate cake for breakfast, pound cake for lunch and cookies for dinner, so my challenge was to get him to "like" green things. Thankfully he was a willing participant and would cheerfully try anything, so my job was a bit easier. But still, getting someone to actually like fruits and vegetables that weren't soaked in sugar or fat wasn't easy.

One day I was watching Lydia's Italian Kitchen and she was making crumb coated vegetables as a side dish and they looked really quick and easy. (I'm all about quick and easy!) I don't remember her exact recipe but this is my interpretation of the recipe I saw her making.

Well, it was a big hit! Not long after I began making his broccoli this way we had to go out of town on business. To my surprise, after eating every meal in a restaurant for a week, The Fly Rod Gawd actually said: "I can't wait to get home, I'm craving broccoli!" I almost fell off my chair.

Since then, I've tried this technique on every vegetable I could think of and it has worked on every thing I have tried. My favorites are broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms and now I make them to put out as snacks or appetizers with a honey mustard dipping sauce.

Crispy Crumb Coated Broccoli

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (more if you like it hot)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 (10 ounce) box frozen broccoli florets, thawed and patted dry
1/3 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs

Heat the olive oil in a large non stick pan over medium high heat. Add the red pepper and garlic. Swirl the pepper and garlic in the oil until you begin to smell the garlic, about 1 minute. Add the broccoli florets and saute until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and add the Italian bread crumbs. Toss to evenly coat all of the florets and continue cooking until the crumbs are golden brown.

Remove from the pan and serve as a side dish or arrange on a platter with honey mustard dipping sauce for a hot appetizer.