April 30, 2004

Peanut Butter Cookies

Don't ask me why, but I like making cookies and desserts. I hate peanut butter. It's a texture thing. I love peanut butter cookies, though. Go figure. Here's a recipe I tried a few weeks ago.

Heat the oven to 375 F.

In a large bowl --

Mix till smooth:
1 C butter
1 C peanut butter
2 C dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

Blend in:
2 1/2 C sifted flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder

Make the dough into 1-inch balls and put on a cookie sheet -- flatten the balls with a fork dipped in granulated sugar in a criss-cross pattern.

Bake ten minutes, more or less, until brown at edges.

Posted by Bill at 02:48 PM | Comments (1)

April 27, 2004

Banana Bread

I follow this recipe to the letter. While others may mess with perfection, I don't. Some people have said, "Oh, I substituted apple sauce for the oil." Good for you, I say. I made it last week. Just had a hankerin' for it. Accept no substitutes.

This is not about cutting fat, cutting calories, or cutting out flavor. This banana bread is best eaten about an hour after taken out of the oven, when the crust is still crusty. Cold, cold milk is the only drink that is good right then.

The recipe card is old. I laminated it. It is Stacey's from way back before the turn of the century.

This recipe isn't just good, it's Hall of Fame.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Mash 3 medium to large bananas in a bowl.
Mix in 3/4 C granulated sugar.
Add 1/2 C vegetable oil and 2 eggs and mix.
Mix in 1 3/4 C sifted flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, and 1/2 tsp. salt until you don't see any white from the flour.

Grease and flour a loaf pan.

Pour in the mixture. Bake 1 hour. The toothpick you stick in should come out clean.

Take the pan out and set it on a rack for about twenty minutes to half an hour. Cut in 1" slices while in the pan and serve hot; or wait longer if you can, turn the loaf out, and slice it.

Posted by Bill at 11:13 PM | Comments (1)

April 19, 2004


french toast casserole.jpg

i believe that if you posed the question "what is your idea of perfection food-wise?" a large number of people would say french toast. that's what *i* would say. you all know how to make french toast. plebian wonder bread french toast or the best french bread you can find french toast. they're all great.

i don't like spending time at the stove when we've got company, however, so when paula deen presented this make-ahead casserole on her show, "paula's home cooking," i went right to the web site and printed out the recipe. we cut the recipe in half and made it for bill, matt, mel, and me for sunday breakfast. sorry i didn't take a picture -- it looks and tastes great! the praline topping makes the top crunchy and sweet, the inside is puffy and moist, the bottom sits in its own buttery syrup.


1 loaf french bread
8 eggs
2 cups half and half
1 cup milk
2 T sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t nutmeg
dash salt

slice bread into 1-inch slices. arrange slices in generously buttered 9x13 in casserole, in 2 rows, overlapping slices. beat together the rest of the ingredients and pour over bread, making sure all bread is covered evenly, spooning in between the slices. cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

praline topping:

2 sticks butter, softened
1 c packed brown sugar
1 c chopped pecans (optional)
2 T light corn syrup
1/2 t cinnamon
1/8 t ground nutmeg

blend together well and spread over top of bread (like frosting). bake casserole for 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees until puffed and lightly golden.

Posted by Stacey at 04:25 PM | Comments (3)

April 15, 2004


We started a "gourmet club" with three other couples about fifteen years ago. The hosts planned the menu, bought the ingredients, then everyone helped cook and eat, and then we split the tab four ways. I don't think we ever paid more than $20 -- and the menus were lengthy and, many times, exotic (Tibet comes to mind). When one of the couples dropped out -- the husband was transferred to China, I think -- a couple who owned a restaurant in Laramie, Wyoming, before moving back to the area to be in the family's cosmetics business, joined the group. They thought a cookbook might be in order with all the menus and recipes we had accumulated, but raising kids and working interfere with ideas like that. Unfortunately, we disbanded a couple years ago.

One of the menus that Stacey and I planned revolved around New Orleans cuisine. With that, we wanted a seasoning mix that would fit into that mold. We modified a Paul Prudhomme recipe and came up with a seasoning that we use in a lot of dishes, such as cole slaw, soups, potatoes, etc. The boys are into "HOT," and they are very liberal in its use. Stacey, on the other hand, uses it for the hint of flavor, not the heat.

Made in this quantity, the mixture generates a dust cloud over the work area. The dogs head for the door and fresh outdoor air. I suggest adequately ventilating the house or wearing a respirator. Do not rub your watery eyes.

Mix in a humongous bowl:

4 ½ cups of salt
1 cup of white pepper
1 cup of black pepper
½ cup of cumin
1 ¼ cup of onion powder
1 ¼ cup of garlic powder
½ cup of sweet paprika
½ cup of granulated sugar
½ cup of cayenne pepper

Store the seasoning mix in airtight containers.

TIP: Never, ever add it to someone's food as a joke. It doesn't go over well and could be painful -- for the joker.

Posted by Bill at 11:53 AM | Comments (3)

April 08, 2004

Chocolate Gooky

When semi-son Mark told us he was coming home for his final school break, we were quite pleased. You know, Spring break ... college ... Florida. He wanted to cook a special meal at home for us; so, we spent Wednesday at the West Side Market, shopping for his dinner -- leg of lamb, fresh white and green asparagus, roasted fingerling potatoes. We asked him about dessert. He said the only thing that he wanted for the special evening was a dessert that Stacey came up with when the boys were small, Chocolate Gooky, which was easy and fun to make.

Chocolate Gooky? Yeah, "gooky" or "gookie" (British sp.) is defined as anything that you don't want to take the time to describe in detail, e.g., "Pick up that gooky on the floor."

Beware! This feeds about 20.


Here is what you need:

2 large instant chocolate pudding made according to directions on box
Cool Whip -- a big one
6 Heath bars

In a trifle bowl or some other tall container, break up some brownies and layer the bottom of the bowl. Spoon in Cool Whip and smooth out to cover the brownie layer. Carefully pour in pudding to make another layer. Break up 4 of the Heath bars and spread on the top of the pudding layer. Spoon on another layer of Cool Whip. Add some broken up brownies on top of the Cool Whip layer and cover with pudding. Top off with Cool Whip. Break up 2 Heath bars and spread on top. Refrigerate.

We substituted whipped cream for the Cool Whip. Beat some marshmallow creme into the whipped cream so the whipped cream doesn't break apart.

Or -- use macaroons broken up instead of the brownies. Substitute vanilla for chocolate pudding. Toast coconut and substitute for the Heath bars.

Or -- use madelines (costco has some nice madelines) instead of the brownies / macaroons. Substitute lemon curd for the chocolate / vanilla pudding. top with madeline crumbs.

Or -- ...

Posted by Bill at 05:47 PM | Comments (4)

April 04, 2004


peppers and onions.jpg

you’ve seen the jars and cans, i’m sure. you’ve walked right past them, having no idea how to use them. they are my very favorite shortcut ingredient “cheats.” i ALWAYS have at least one can and one jar in my pantry. they are cans of fried peppers and onions (packed in oil) and jars of roasted red peppers (packed in either olive oil or brine). i have a bad habit of letting fresh produce go bad because i cook “on the fly.” what strikes my fancy in the moment. i did a lot more meal planning – and cooking what i planned and shopped for – when the boys were all home. it’s different now with just me, bill, and jax. jax rarely wants to sit and eat with us, so bill and i usually end up cooking what we feel feel like that night. pantry items come in real handy. not to mention that i love the time-saving factor.

the cans of fried peppers and onions are used in recipes that call for just that – fried peppers and onions. no chopping, peeling, frying. just add what you need to your ground beef (sloppy joes or meat loaf) or to make chinese pepper steak. the quality is always very good. i use the roasted red peppers (after rinsing and chopping if necessary) whenever a recipe calls for peppers, red OR green, because i love the different flavor that a roasted red pepper adds to your dish. these come in large pepper pieces (there’s usually a whole pepper stuffed in that jar, too) that you rinse and chop as needed. roasted red peppers typically are sweeter and smokier than a sauteed green pepper. no roasting, peeling, seeding.

today i made one of our favorites – a quick potato corn chowder. my recipe that follows calls for the roasted red peppers – i’ve never used fresh peppers in this soup. and bill’s cajun seasoning mix. which we use a lot. you can use emeril’s or paul prudhomme’s. i’m sure they’ll suffice. this chowder takes -- at the most – 45 minutes from start to finish. it makes a batch big enough for me to have one fresh meal and two more frozen meals. when i want it REALLY special, i’ll add a large can of lump crab meat. i served it with corn bread.

Potato Corn Chowder

2 tablespoon vegetable oil or olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
8-10 red potatoes, diced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 bay leaf, fresh or dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoon Bill’s cajun seasoning
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock
1 quart whole milk
1 cup half-n-half
1 small bag frozen corn
Heat a deep pot over moderate heat. Add oil and butter. As you chop your veggies, add them to the pot: potatoes, onion, and red bell pepper. Add bay leaves to the pot. Season vegetables with salt and pepper and CAJUN SEASONING. Saute veggies 5 minutes, then sprinkle in flour. Cook flour 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and combine. Stir in milk and combine. Bring soup up to a boil. Add corn (and crab meat, if you want) and simmer soup 25 minutes. Add more seasonings, if necessary. Remove bay leaves.

Posted by Stacey at 07:42 PM | Comments (3)