Scalloped potatoes for two

Peg and I don’t eat a whole lot at a time, and we’re headed away for holiday, so I needed to make a small batch of scalloped potatoes for dinner. We always add ham, and I had one on hand.

  • Two medium potatoes
  • 3 T butter, divided
  • 2 T flour
  • 2 C milk
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 C cubed ham

Peel and pare the potatoes thinly.

Melt the butter and flour to form a roux, cooking slightly. Whisk in the milk, add salt and pepper, and bring the mixture to a boil until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Spread 1T butter around the inside of a one-quart casserole.

Place a thin layer of white sauce in the bottom of the casserole. Alternate adding potatoes, cubed ham, and white sauce to fill the casserole.

Cover with foil and bake at 350F For 50 minutes. Uncover and bake another 30 minutes…

We like to serve ham and green beans with it.

Meatballs: ’tis the season, right?

Peggy signed us up for meatballs for the annual W1GZ Holiday Party. W1GZ is the call sign for the Montachusett Amateur Radio Club. Peggy and I are both hams.

So, anyway, Peg did a search and found “The World’s Best Meatballs” from a clever lady named Kristen. Well, never one to leave well enough alone, we slightly modified the recipe ( we wanted a less “Italian” meatball than Kristen was offering) by removing the Parmesan cheese and the garlic, and opting for half beef/half pork in the meat department.

Herewith, I guess we can call them “John’s Best Meatballs”, because they did turn out quite nicely. In fact, I’m doing this post as someone asked for the recipe!

Preheat oven to 450F and grease a large rimmed cookie sheet.

  • 1 # ground pork
  • 1 # ground beef
  • 1/2 C breadcrumbs (I used panko)
  • 1/4 C milk (any %)
  • 1/4 C chopped parsley
  • 1 C beef broth, divided (1/4 C in meatballs)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 T salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1 t oregano (one might argue removing this would make it even less “Italian”)
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes

Combine all but the ground meats in a large bowl, mixing well to form the panade, which will bind the meatballs.

Add the meats and mix until just combined, but not over mixed, which can toughen the meat texture.

Portion and roll meatballs about 1″ in diameter, spacing them closely on the cookie sheet. I use a small portioning scoop to make the work go faster and get better consistency than I manage on my own.

Pour the remaining 3/4 C of beef broth in the cookie sheet, and bake the meatballs for about 25 minutes, turning once halfway through.

The Hawaiian Meatball conclusion

This recipe came from Taste of Home and called for frozen store-bought meatballs, but hey, we can make those, right?

  • 1 20 ounce can unsweetened pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 C packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 C cornstarch
  • 1/2 C cider vinegar
  • 2 green peppers, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 10 ounce jar maraschino cherries, drained
  • 1 recipe of “John’s Best Meatballs”
  • salt and pepper to taste

Reserve the pineapple juice. Add enough water to make two cups. Place the juice, brown sugar, cornstarch and vinegar into a saucepan. Mix well, then heat gently to a boil; cook until the sauce thickens.

Combine the meatballs, peppers, pineapple, and sauce in a slow cooker. Cook on medium until the peppers are tender, mix in the cherries, and serve over white rice if desired.

Mrs. Cheney’s Apple Cake

For as long as I can remember, Mom made “Mrs. Cheney’s Apple Cake”, or a variant thereof.

Mr. Cheney owned and operated Cheney Orchards in Brimfield Massachusetts. I grew up in the adjacent town, Monson, but Dad grew up in Brimfield, and at one time or another, worked in the orchard for Mr. Cheney.

Mrs. Cheney, his clever wife, was a college-educated (nearly scandalous at the time) home-economics teacher in Brimfield. My Aunt Joann had her as a teacher. Well, Mrs. Cheney was the author of a number of (oddly, apple-related) recipes, and I can remember seeing printed recipes for the taking at the orchard when we visited in the fall.

Herewith, Mrs. Cheney’s Apple Cake (one of many variants):

5 apples, pared & sliced (Macintosh preferably)
½ c. sugar
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

Mix together and set aside.

3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1 c. oil
1/3 c. orange juice
2 tsp. Vanilla

Mix all ingredients together well.

Grease and flour a bundt pan.

Alternate layers of batter and apples, beginning and ending with batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes (1 ½ hours) or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cranberry Sauce

Peggy is allowing me to make cranberry sauce for dinner at my sister Jackie’s Thanksgiving.

She even found a recipe for me. Most recipes on the web contain cranberries, sugar, orange juice and either ginger, vanilla, nutmeg or something like that.

The recipe was gleaned from the www.jocooks.com website and it’s listed as the worlds best cranberry sauce. We will see and report.

(Later that same day)

Preliminary results are excellent! This is some very tasty sauce!

Thanks, Jo!

Followup: I neglected to add the vanilla called for, and the sauce was none the worse for it. I can’t even think that vanilla would be necessary.

Insofar as we left all of the leftover sauce at my sister’s house, I made a new batch on Friday to appease the spousal unit for whom this blog is named. I measured only the sugar (3/4C) this time, using a 12-ounce bag of cranberries, the zest, juice and pulp of one navel orange, and 1/8 t of nutmeg. No vanilla. The pulp, I opine, adds a bit more flavor and texture to the mix.

We’ll see what the boss says…

Apple Turnovers

Not so much a recipe as a story. This is take two of my adventure. My first pass resulted in giant lifeless (yet tasty) masses of dough.

This time I did better, not the least of which is that I only used two apples. I bought a package of Pepperidge Farms puff pastry dough. I rolled the squares out to about ten inches, then cut those into quarters. I put some apple mixture in the middle of the squares. Wet two edges with water, and folded one corner over to form a triangle. I did not do a good job sealing, and was glad to have used parchment!

I also used an egg wash.

Baked at 400F for about 12 minutes.

The apple mixture was two peeled and pared Macintosh apples, about 1/3 C sugar, a dash each of cinnamon and nutmeg, and half a dash of ground clove, mixed well to coat the apples.

Easy Apple Bread Pudding

I’m blown away by how easy this can be. I had been making small batches of bread pudding over the past year, I suppose, using mostly day-old loaves of the indigenous Market Basket Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread (which is also awesome as French Toast, BTW…).

Serves 4-6

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Ingredients:

  • One apple (Macintosh works wonderfully)
  • Two large eggs
  • 1 1/2 C milk
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 5-6 slices of cinnamon-Raisin swirl bread
  • 1 T butter

Cut the bread into cubes about the thickness of one slice. Peel and core the apple, and pare into thin (1/8″) slices. Dredge the apple slice in sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Whisk the eggs until well blended, add vanilla and milk, and mix well.

Butter a 1 1/2 Qt ovenproof dish well. The remaining butter is dolloped onto the bottom of the dish. Fill the dish with the bread cubes, top with the egg mixture, taking care not to overfill. Push the bread down into the egg mixture.

Bake for 50-60 minutes at 350F. Pudding should spring back when depressed, and very little, if any, liquid remaining. Bake another 5-10 minutes as necessary.

Let it cool for a bit – it very much resembles lava when it comes out of the oven. It’s absolutely delightful with vanilla ice cream.

Sorry I don’t have a photo. Next time. It got eaten far too quickly.

Easy Bread Pudding

Mom always made chocolate bread pudding, so I suppose I was at least 35 or 40 before I had anything else. Peg once ordered “regular” bread pudding in a restaurant and offered a taste. Doh! For all these years I’ve eschewed this delightful stuff?

Now, many years later, I’ve made many a batch of bread pudding, but wanted a small one to avoid wasting leftovers.

And being as I’m a cheap Yankee, using hamburger buns left over from the ham radio club picnic yesterday seemed a good idea.

  • 3 hamburger buns
  • 1/4 C raisins
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • Sprinkle of nutmeg
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1t vanilla extract

I coarsely cubed the bread, added the raisins and spices. I mixed the egg and sugar, added the milk and vanilla, then mixed all ingredients.

I used a muffin tin, filling all six cavities, then baked for 30 minutes. The puddings came out of the oven all puffed up, and collapsed as I wrote this.

Always good with a bit of creme anglaise, too. I just have to post a recipe.

Terribly Easy Cream of Broccoli Soup

I was at the market just as the snow from the latest Nor’Easter was starting to fly in earnest. I was ostensibly there just for bread, but saw this beautiful crown of broccoli in the produce aisle, and one of Peg’s favorites, Cream of Broccoli soup, came to mind.

1 large crown of broccoli, cut into 2″ pieces
1 small onion, quartered
2 C water
1T Chicken base
1C Sour cream
1C half & half
salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste

Peel the broccoli stems if necessary. The fiber does not break down nicely.

After cutting the broccoli and onion, put them in a stock pot with the water. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until broccoli is tender. The onion will be tender by that point as well.

I used an immersion blender to break down the vegetables, then added the chicken base, salt and pepper, then let the mixture cook for a while longer.

When ready to serve, stir in the sour cream and half & half. Add very little nutmeg – just enough so you can almost taste it. Adjust salt & pepper.

Ladle into bowls and serve (grilled cheese sandwiches come to mind…)

 

Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Nutella French Toast

Yeah, that’s a mouthful. But a delicious mouthful. For years I have been sporadically buying cinnamon-raisin bread at the supermarket, just for making French Toast. I would occasionally stuff the French Toast with cream cheese or something else, but I was distracted by a jar of Nutella. If you haven’t heard of Nutella, it’s a hazelnut and chocolate concoction about the consistency of peanut butter, and it’s just delicious.

On to the making of the French Toast –

One egg
1/4C milk
Nutella
Raisin bread
1T butter
Syrup (maple is best, of course)

Preheat a skillet with 1T butter

Beat the egg in a shallow bowl until it’s well beaten. Add the milk and mix well.

 

 

 

 

 

Spread Nutella on two pieces of bread, and cover with two more slices, ending up with two Nutella sandwiches on raisin bread. Already a good start.

 

 

 

 

 

Dredge the sandwiches in the egg mixture, both sides, and transfer to the skillet.

 

 

 

 

 

Cook for about two minutes, until golden brown, then turn and cook the other side to golden brown.

 

 

 

 

 

Serve with syrup. More butter optional. A sprinkle of powdered sugar will make it a bit prettier, but doesn’t really do much for the flavor.

 

 

 

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Greetings! This is Peg and I am actually posting on my own blog site! Whew, hope you’re sitting down.

However, on to the cooking~~~

These are amazing! The recipe is from our friend, Jeanine Swick, who brought these to a Christmas part this past year (2016). People kept eating them long after they declared themselves full and were in danger of spoiling their dinners!
Jeanine says they work well with scallops or shrimp, but I’ll never know about that!

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

2 (8oz.) cans Water Chestnuts, drained
1/4 cup Kikkoman Soy Sauce (save it)
1 lb. lean Bacon, cut in half
Toothpicks
1 1/2 cups Brown Sugar
1 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Marinate water chestnuts in soy sauce for 15 minutes, stirring a few times to make sure they are fully coated.
Remove water chestnuts from soy sauce and set soy sauce aside for later use in the recipe.
Wrap 1/2 strip of bacon around each water chestnut, securing the bacon with a toothpick.
Place wrapped chestnuts in a 7″x11″ glass baking dish.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until desired crispness.

While they’re baking…

Mix ketchup, brown sugar and reserved soy sauce and mix well.

Remove chestnuts from the dish and drain the grease.
Place the chestnuts back in the baking dish.
Pour sauce evenly over the chestnuts to coat.
Bake for an additional 20-30 minutes.

Peg’s Notes:
This sauce mixture is a little intense when you first taste it – intensely sweet,  intensely salty, intensely flavored, etc.  And by that, I mean I couldn’t eat more than three or four at a time, but for some reason other people just love it. Ahem!
I’m thinking of either decreasing the amount of ketchup and brown sugar or coming up with another Asian-y barbecue sauce altogether. We’ll see.
If you do something different, please let me know!