Simple Potato Salad

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There is a softness in my soul towards simple food made from scratch. On this beautiful October day I’m making potato salad to go with my husband’s smoked brisket. Here’s the brisket after four hours in the smoker at 200 degrees. He uses charcoal briquettes, lump charcoal and hickory chips for the smoke. We finish it in the oven, at 250 degrees covered for another four hours.

DSC01815Everyone has their version of simple potato salad. Here’s mine. Hope you enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds of red potatoes, boiled in salted water with skin on, then peeled
  • 2 boiled eggs, chopped ( optional)
  • chopped green onion to taste
  • 3 tablespoons of sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 5 tablespoons Miracle Whip Salad Dressing (we like the sweetness, you can use mayonnaise)
  • salt, pepper and paprika to taste

Directions

DSC01818I had large red potatoes so I quartered them and boiled them in salted water until
fork-tender. After they cool down enough you can handle them, peel the skin off. You don’t have to do this, I just think it tastes better.

At the same time I boiled the potatoes I boiled two farm-fresh eggs from a dozen that my friend Amy gave me. Peel, cool and chop roughly.

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While the eggs and potatoes are boiling I get my onions chopped and get out my spices.

DSC01822Put the spices and dressing on when the potatoes are still warm. Smells so good. The salad should be wet because it absorbs so much of the dressing as it cools. Add more dressing if you need to. Yum.

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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

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.

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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

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George’s Christmas Ham

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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!