Mom’s Marinated Green Bean Salad

I’m thinking about my mom this morning. On September 26th, she would have been 85 years old. She died in 2006 and it still stings but today I am smiling as I make her fabulous marinated green bean salad. Mom loved to cook. She especially loved to cook for crowds of family. Our home Christmas Eve dinners were the makings of gastronomic heaven but this simple salad is great anytime and goes with many meals as a sweet and tangy side dish. So thanks mom, this still tastes like home.

Recipe

Ingredients

2 cans French-style green beans, drained

2/3 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1 clove of garlic, minced or garlic powder to taste

1/2 cup salad oil

1 cup Italian salad dressing

1 onion sliced thinly

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and marinate at least two hours or overnight.

Sting

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My Favorite Meal

#mwisdmatters

My 4th grade art students always seem to have fewer barriers between their art and their imagination than my 5th and 6th graders. I’m not sure why that is, but is delightful to watch and listen to them as they open up to a project. I revisited an old classic recently when I asked my 4th grade artists to draw their favorite meal.

The set up for the project is a discussion about going on a picnic. Students get to pick their favorite foods to have at the picnic, which must include a main course, sides, drink and dessert. They must also include silverware and a napkin and a tablecloth under the plate.

I have three goals for this project.

  1. They must have their food shown from a bird’s-eye point of view, which involves a demonstration and discussion of how shapes change when they are shown from different perspectives.
  2. They must show a place setting, which involved a discussion and pictures of how you set a table. Social skills in art class. I wonder how many families sit down at a common table for dinner these days, so I hope I filled in a gap for some of my students who have not ever set a table.
  3. They must show a pattern of some kind on the tablecloth, which reinforces the definition of a pattern in art as a repeated shape or color series.

Students have a large sheet of paper as their format, 12 x 18 inches, and draw first in pencil, then outline in sharpie and color with crayon. I give them a paper plate to draw around to make sure we don’t have miniature plates.

And oh the stories about what food my students like the best!

And the extras! Ants on the tablecloth. Butterflies flying over the picnic.  Good memories about family. Great fun.

Rainy Day Enchiladas

 

It was chilly and rainy here in Weatherford, Texas yesterday. Not up north chilly, just March in Texas damp and chilly. There is a big difference. My dad used to call this kind of day “liquid sunshine.” I went to the grocery store with comfort food in mind. Over the years I have tried lots of enchilada recipes, but this simple chicken enchilada with a sour cream sauce is my favorite. I thought I’d share.

final.JPGThis recipe has just a few ingredients, is not too hot; although you can spice it up if you want, and a gooey cheese rating of ten on my comfort food scale. Scroll down for the recipe.

Start by boiling the chicken breasts in salted water.

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Cool the chicken down where you can handle it and shred by hand.

shredded-chicken

Start the butter melting in a medium skillet and get your chicken stock ready. I was a little short on my stock so I used one cup of chicken stock and one cup of the water that I boiled the chicken in to get my two cups.

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Brown the flour in the melted butter for a couple of minutes then add the stock. Stir until smooth and slightly thickened.

sour-cream-chilis

Remove from the heat and add green chilies and sour cream. You don’t want the sauce to boil now with the sour cream because it will separate. Keep warm.

filling

 

I used corn tortillas for these enchiladas, but you can use flour tortillas if you prefer. I do not brown the tortillas in butter or dip them in stock before I roll them; these are pretty soft tortillas,

I simply stuff with chicken and cheese and roll gently, then place seam down in a 9 x 13 pan. ( I never have the right amount to fill the pan, I can’t explain it.)rolled

Pour the sour cream sauce over the enchiladas and top with the rest of the Monterey Jack cheese and bake uncovered at 350 for twenty to thirty minutes. Garnish with chopped green onion.

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I had a green salad with these bad boys.salad

My husband likes salsa on the side.

The sun was shining in the dining room at least. Hope you enjoy.

Chicken Enchiladas

1 pound chicken breasts, boiled in salted water and shredded

10-15 corn or flour tortillas

3 tbsps. butter and 3 tbsps. flour

2 cups of chicken broth

4 oz. can chopped green chilies

1 cup of sour cream

3 cups of Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1 chopped green onion

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan
  2. Mix cooled chicken and 1 cup cheese. Roll up in tortillas and place in pan.
  3. In a sauce pan, melt butter, stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add broth and whisk until smooth. Heat the sauce over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.
  4. Stir in sour cream and chilies. Do not bring to boil, you don’t want curdled sour cream.
  5. Pour over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
  6. Bake 20-30 min. uncovered. Yield: serves 4

final

George’s Christmas Ham

a-thing-of-beauty

 

 

My husband George is a great cook. Never scared to try something new, this year he wanted to make his own Christmas ham. Not the pre-cured ham that comes already cooked but the real thing; a fresh ham shank, butt end. He started with a great recipe from Weber’s at http://www.weber.com/weber-nation/blog/pecan-smoked-fresh-ham-with-maple-glaze-on-the-wsm and modified it a little for our tastes. Tender and juicy, the meat has the best characteristics of pulled pork mixed with a not-too-salty ham taste. Definitely a keeper!

 

The Pig
9-10 pound ham shank (not precooked, some people call these “green”, which sounds a little weird) A note of admiration here for our butchers at Brookshire’s Grocery Store in Weatherford, Texas, who talked with George about this little project and held us a ham shank from their Christmas order. He told us they usually only get these in at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We can request one anytime.

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Ham shank and rub.

 

The Rub
½ cup brown sugar, dark
¼ cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons black pepper, ground coarse
2 tsp cayenne pepper, ground (optional)

the-rub

Score the fat cap on the ham shank to allow the rub to soak into the meat. Mix rub ingredients and apply to the meat liberally. He wrapped ours in plastic wrap and refrigerated it for 48 hours. Reserve some rub for application right before you smoke it. Make sure you set the meat out of the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before you put it on the smoker. We used the coarse ground black pepper, but next time will use a smaller grind to keep it out of your teeth.

wrapped-up

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Scored and dry-rubbed ham.

The Glaze:
½ cup honey
2 teaspoons black pepper, ground
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup maple syrup (not imitation flavored)

Mix ingredients and bring to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Reduce by half. Be sure to watch this carefully because it can boil over really easily. I won’t tell you how I know that. Glaze the ham every two hours. He used a foil pan underneath to catch the fat drippings. Makes clean-up easier.a-thing-of-beauty

 

 

 

 

The Wood:
8-10 pc apple wood chunks (presoaked in water)
apple wood-infused charcoal

The original recipe called for pecan wood, which is a little strong for our tastes, so we used apple wood instead. After he set the smoker bed with charcoal, he also needed three additional chimney starter’s full of charcoal to maintain the desired heat for the six-hour smoking time.

We have a big off-set smoker so the temperature that Weber wanted, 250 degrees, is a little tough to maintain for six hours. He cooked the ham shank six hours between 200 and 220 degrees on the smoker and finished it in the oven covered with foil at 250 degrees for at least two hours. We use an instant-read thermometer to make sure the meat is at an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.

Happy eating!

Swiss Cheese and Sausage Quiche

 

 

final

 

I honestly can’t remember the first time I had quiche. I know my mom never made it; my Air Force Senior Master Sargent father did not take to such food, but being a child of the 60’s; which means a time before eggs and cream became a bad thing, I must have had it at restaurant. I was hooked.

Definitely not a diet meal, but in cold weather, a big puffy sausage, egg and cheese pie really hits the spot. I have a green salad on the side to make myself believe I am eating something healthy. This quiche is also good cold the next day.

Homemade pork sausage is a snap to make and doesn’t have those nasty little gristly bits that the store-bought breakfast sausages have in them. I must give credit here to Bobby Flay, who I watched make this sausage on the Food Network and then tweaked the spices to fit my palate. I use pre-made pie crust for my quiche, because I have never learned the art of a good pie crust. Gives me something to work for.

Hope you enjoy.

First, the sausage.

Homemade Pork Sausage

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon (at least) rubbed sage
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika

Mix spices and ground pork together. Split meat mixture in half. Sauté half the sausage until brown, breaking it up into small pieces. Drain on paper towels. Make four patties with the remainder and save for breakfast sausages.

crumbled-sausage
Sausage for quiche.

 

breakfast-sausage
Breakfast sausage for the next day.

For the quiche.

Custard

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup white wine (or you can skip this and use more milk or cream)
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper

Beat eggs and add milk, cream, wine, salt, flour and cayenne. Mix well.

creambeaten-eggs-and-cream

 

Assembly

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  • Place one store- bought pie crust (or make your own) in a deep dish pie plate.
  • Place browned sausage in crust.
  • Chop 8 oz. of Swiss cheese and place on top of sausage.

assembly-3

final-before-oven

 

 

 

 

 

Pour custard on top of filling and bake at 375 degrees for 60 minutes or until puffy and lightly browned.

 

Mom’s Dressing

Mom’s Cornbread Dressing.

“Why is the dressing green?” my husband whispered in my ear. It was his first Thanksgiving dinner at my parent’s house. “Sage, my dear, the spice of the gods.” I whispered back. One or two big aluminum foil pans of the slightly green, spicy dressing, redolent with black pepper, onions, salty bits of giblets and turkey pan drippings scented my mom’s house every Thanksgiving and Christmas. I don’t know where she learned to make her dressing, she did not talk about cooking with her mom, but Lord it was good. There was no written recipe, but I watched her make this so often and tasted it for her so many times that the making of it is imprinted on my DNA. She would tell us kids, “Come taste this for me and see if it has enough sage.” knowing full well it was perfect; she just wanted to see our eyes roll back in our heads like sharks at a feeding frenzy.

Why is it that every daughter tries to recreate the taste of their mother’s cooking? I think it is one of those rites of passage that define us a family. So for this Texas girl, I try each holiday to recreate that taste, with maybe a little less sage in deference to my husband’s palate. dsc00256His contribution was this knockout smoked turkey breast. But that recipe is for another post. So this year, in my mom’s honor, I pass along the recipe as I remember it; simple in its ingredients, but layered with deep, happy memories of family gatherings. I took pictures and promise I got no kickbacks from the manufacturer’s presented. Substitute as you choose. I try to make the cornbread and the bisquick (mom called this bread pone) the day before the meal. Fresh breads are too moist and will gum up your dressing.

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Get a big turkey roaster-size aluminum pan and break up the cornbread and bread pone into crumbs. dsc00248In a small pan, cook the turkey giblets in enough salted water to cover with a roughly chopped onion, a stalk of chopped celery, a bay leaf and some pepper corns. Peel away any tough parts and chop the turkey giblets. Set aside.

In a small skillet, melt a stick of butter and sauté the chopped onion until tender and translucent. dsc00251Pour the cooked onion and butter over the bread crumbs. Add the chopped turkey giblets. If you have roast turkey drippings, pour them in too. Add at least one half container of sage and salt and pepper to taste.

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Mix enough of the chicken stock to moisten the mixture to the consistency you like. For me it takes one or two cans of chicken stock. When you mix this dressing, you have to use your hands. You cannot feel the consistency of the dressing through a spoon. Don’t be rough, as Emeril Lagasse says “This is a food of love thing.”

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Bake in a 350° oven for 30-45 minutes. There should be just a browned lovely crust on the top. I did not take a picture when it came out of the oven (duh). Too busy eating. I’ll update it with one at Christmas.

Ingredients:

2 packages of Bisquick

2 packages of yellow cornbread mix (not sweet)

2 cans of chicken stock

1 stick of butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 or 2 bottles of powdered sage

salt and pepper to taste

Turkey giblets cooked and chopped

 

Garden to Table

 

Summer. In Texas. And the squash plants have lost their minds. Yellow squash are the Incredible Hulk of the garden world. Turn your back on them for one minute and they get angry. Very angry. And BIG..very big.

Ready to be picked
Ready to pick…again.
Uh Oh
Uh oh.

 

NEXT year, we vow we are not going to plant four yellow squash plants, even though we love yellow squash. Right.

 

 

 

 

But we just dug the last of the potatoes and have lovely little red onions to use. Potato salad! And devilled eggs.

 

So to go with, Dr. Smoky has brined and grilled bone-in chicken breasts. The Sauce

 

Blooming Basil and Lavendar
The basil is blooming. So is the lavender. Made a nice arrangement.

 

But next year, two squash plants. Just two.