December 31, 2007

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Every year we make New Year Resolutions…to loose weight, to eat healthier, to be kinder, to call family more, to give back to the community…the sad thing is most of these good intentioned resolutions are never followed through with.

So, I don’t make New Year Resolutions. Instead I make promises to myself throughout the year that I try to achieve. That way I never have to think about all the resolutions I break every year…I just think about all the wonderful things I accomplished. To me life is about focusing on the positive.

Whatever your New Year plan are this year….I wish you safe and Happy New Year!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
2 c. sugar
¾ c. vegetable oil
3 large eggs, beaten
2 (1oz) squares semisweet chocolate, melted
2 c. grated zucchini
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
1 c. miniature semisweet morsels

Preheat 325 degrees.

Grease 2 loaf pans. In a large bowl- beat sugar, oil, eggs and melted chocolate. Stir in zucchini and vanilla.

In a small bowl- sift flour, baking powder and soda. The stir flour mix into the large bowl until smooth. Stir in miniature chocolate morsels.

Bake for 45-55 minutes.

December 28, 2007

Purple Hull Soup

Purple Hull Peas are one meal that really hits home with my husband and I. It was a staple meal that my mother cooked quite often and was a great meal that lasts for days.

Over Christmas my mother brought up some bags of frozen purple hulls from my parent's garden.

Purple hull's are similar to Black Eyed Peas, but have double the flavor. Plus, there is something magical that happens when you combine smoked ham hocks and purple hulls.

Be sure to soak the peas for about an hour or so if you are using dry beans. If you don’t have any ham hocks on hand throw in some salted pork or bacon stripes. But you have to use bacon grease….it’s one of the important ingredients to making purple hulls “oh so good!”

My Mother’s Purple Hull Peas
4 cups shelled purple hull peas
1 - large hunk of smoked ham hocks or some bacon stripes
2 cloves of minced garlic or garlic powder
1 onion chopped
Throw in some dried parsley flakes
Enough bacon grease to cover the bottom of the pot
Salt, to taste
Black or White Pepper, to taste

Sauté the onions until they are lightly browned from the bacon grease. Add the hocks and cover with water and boil for about an hour. Cut away all the meat and return the meat back to the pot. (If using bacon add when you add the peas.)

Add the peas and cover with water, cover. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium-high heat, simmer for about 40 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add parsley, garlic and stir. Cook uncovered. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 2 hours.

Note: You will probably have to add water occasionally to the pot during the cooking process. Peas are done when they are soft and tender. I like to mash some up around the sides of the pans to thicken the mixture up a bit.

December 26, 2007

Cheesy Broccoli Bake

Here is something to warm up your belly on these cold nights...

Cheesy Broccoli Bake
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

2 pounds fresh broccoli, trimmed and cut up
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the casserole
1/4 cup chopped celery

1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 pound cheese product, softened
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated Cheddar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch casserole.

Steam the broccoli until tender, about 10 minutes. In the meantime, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat and saute the celery, mushrooms, and onion until softened, about 10 minutes; drain. Combine the broccoli and the cooked vegetables in a bowl.
Heat the soup and softened cheese product in a saucepan over low heat until the cheese melts.

Pour it over the broccoli mixture. Add the garlic salt and pepper and combine.
Put it into the buttered casserole dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle the top with the grated Cheddar the last 5 minutes of baking.

December 20, 2007

Amish Bread for the Holidays

My husband came home the other night with Amish Friendship Bread some friends of ours had made. I had never heard of Amish Friendship Bread before, nor eaten it before then. It was wonderful! And after some research on the internet, I discovered the bread has a long standing history that I want to share with you all.

From Wikipedia: Amish Friendship Bread (along with Amish Cinnamon Bread) is the chain letter of the baking world. The idea is very simple: a friend gives you a cup of yeast culture (also known as "starter") and a copy of instructions. Following the instructions, you add sugar, flour and milk and it rises. Eventually, you end up with 4 cups of the starter. You use one cup to make bread (the instructions provide you with the recipe), keep one cup to start a new cycle and give two cups to your friends. Each of your friends also gets a copy of the instructions for what to do with the yeast starter. The latter part makes it somewhat like a chain letter. Of course, Amish Friendship Bread does not come with any promises of riches for those who spread it on or curses for those who don't. The first time "Amish Friendship Bread" was discussed on Usenet was in a posting on February 5, 1990. It was an experiment by Girl Scout Troop 15, c/o Emilie Manning in Oswego, NY and was posted by Patrick Salsbury. Bread made following the traditional Amish Friendship Bread recipe is sweet and tastes more like a cake.

The starter may be used to make lots of different types of bread.I asked our friend Carol for the recipe and she emailed it to me the other day. (Thanks Carol)

With the freezing rain, sleet and snow that is being called for the entire weekend here in Missouri, I know what I am planning on doing – making some of this tasty bread for some friends.

Amish Friendship Bread Starter and Recipe
To start the bread:“Day 1” mix together 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.
(Do not refrigerate. If air gets in the bag, let it out. It will be normal for the batter to thicken, bubble and ferment.)

Day 1 If you receive the bag – do nothing. (Or you make it from scratch)
Day 2 Squeeze the bag.
Day 3 Squeeze the bag.
Day 4 Squeeze the bag.
Day 5 Squeeze the bag.
Day 6 Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk
Day 7 Squeeze the bag.
Day 8 Squeeze the bag.
Day 9 Squeeze the bag.
Day 10 Combine in a large non-metal bowl—the batter and add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk. Mix with a wooden spoon (or plastic one).

Pour four, 1 cup starters into 4 large ziplock bags. Keep one for yourself and give three starters with instructions to friends.

Mix in with the remaining batter:
1 cup oil
½ t. salt
1 cup sugar
½ t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla
1 ½ t. baking powder
3 large eggs
2 t. cinnamon
2 cups flour
½ cup milk
1 large box instant vanilla pudding

Pour into 2 large greased and sugared (cinnamon & sugar) loaf pans. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top if desired. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.I usually split the recipe into four batches. Give away as many batches as you do not want, and use the rest for bread. Each batch would make 2 loaves.

If you are starting this recipe from scratch, on “Day 1” mix together 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.

If you mix the sugar and flour together and then mix the milk in with the sugar/flour mixture it does not clump together as much.

Nuts may be added.Less rich bread? Substitute ½ cup oil and ½ cup applesauce for 1 cup oil.

The sugar in the last addition may also be reduced by about half.Pistachio pudding or any other kind may be substituted.

December 12, 2007

Rosemary Pinwheel Time

Tomorrow at work is a Holiday Snack Day…on the menu for tonight to make is two pumpkin pies, homemade whip cream and my one of my favorite snacks…Rosemary Pinwheels.

These pinwheels make a great snack to serve during the holidays and can be prepared ahead of time…then sliced and baked the day of.

Baked Parmesan Rosemary Pinwheels
1 can (8oz.) of crescent dinner rolls
1/2 cup regular cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 teaspoons of fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Separate dough into rectangles and press all seams together. Place cream cheese, cheese and rosemary in bowl and mix well.

Spread mixture on each rectangle (about 2 tablespoons) and spread over entire dough, leaving 1/4 inch around edges. Roll up the dough and pinch the seam to seal.

* Your dough will be soft, so I've learned to place it in the freezer from about 20 minutes. Take out of freezer and then cut each roll crosswise into slices. Place on baking stone or cooking sheet.
Bake 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

December 11, 2007

Looking Back

I was looking back on past blog posts on Home Cooking and saw that almost 2 years ago today I started blogging….more than 300 posts later I’m still continuing to pass along cherished family recipes and stories.

I started blogging on Dec 15, 2005 (you can read that post here) and the rest is history. One of the biggest accomplishments was being interviewed by Iowa/Missouri Farmer Today for my cooking blog…you can read that post and article here.

Home Cooking has connected individuals from all over the place….friends and family….my co-workers….readers from Spain, Italy and across the US.

My favorite part of blogging is when I get great comments from readers that share their own experiences and recipes with me. I cherish my friends and I love sharing recipes with everyone.

Here’s to more to come in the future….

December 7, 2007

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Happy Holidays to All! (See Larger Image)

Christmas is just around the corner, can’t believe how quickly it’s came this year. I wish there was more of a break between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

My co-worker Sarah Gehring is the Membership Coordinator for AgriMissouri™, a marketing program through the Missouri Dept. of Agriculture that promotes Missouri made products.

She is also a fellow blogger, with her AgriMissouri Showcase Blog. She posted today on finding the right gift to give to those names on our Christmas lists that have everything. One of her favorite gifts to give are AgriMissouri gift baskets, full of great local Missouri food products such as meat sticks, salad dressings, soups, spices, bbq sauce, cheese ball mixes, summer sausages, pasta sauces…plus you'll be supporting Missouri's largest industry-AGRICULTURE and the farmers and farm families.

From Sarah’s post:

Lots of AgriMissouri members offer holiday gift baskets. This makes gift giving so easy. All you have to do is visit their web site or call the company, discuss the baskets they have available and place your order. Several of them will even let you customize the gift basket so that you can include specific products. I've given grandparents, neighbors and out-of-state family AgriMissouri gift baskets and they are always a hit.

To help you find AgriMissouri members offering holidays gifts, the AgriMissouri Holiday Gift Guide is located on the web site. It's the easiest shopping you will do!

*The gift box above is available at Missouri Mercantile.

December 6, 2007

Venison Back Strap Recipe

During the holidays at my folk's house the dinner table is usually set with the traditional holiday foods, but in addition to those cherished foods a very non—traditional food can also be found.

Some years it might be pheasant from my dad’s most recent pheasant hunting trip with his friends, salmon from my parent’s fly fishing trip to Alaska or venison from the most recent deer season.

This year was a treat! My brother Mike made a Stuffed Venison Back Strap that was out of this world. If you have never had venison before, some think it tastes “gamey”, but this recipe really takes away that taste.

Try something different this holiday season with this very special recipe.

Rolled and Stuffed Back Strap
By Mike Baldwin, my brother

Use any flavor of venison for this recipe and make sure the meat is no more than 1 inch thick after cutting. Filet meat out with long knife until meat lay flat, like a sheet of paper.

6 slices of bacon
1 medium onion (Vidalia), chopped up
½ cup of celery, chopped up
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
½ cup of carrot. chopped up
On 1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 teaspoons parsley flakes
2-4 lb. venison back strap (Deer, Elk, Moose, and even Wild Pig)
4-slices of bacon (cut in half)

The Nitty Gritty
Fry the cut bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels and finely crumble. Reserve 4 tablespoons of bacon fat for later.

Cook onion, celery, and carrot in bacon fat until soft. Remove from heat and stir in crumbled bacon, breadcrumbs, parsley flakes, salt and pepper.

Spread veggie mixture evenly on meat. Pat mixture and roll up with the grain of meat. Tie loin with butcher string. Place bacon on top of roll slightly wrapped around meat. Put in roasting pan or above water pan in smoker.

Heat oven or smoker to 250 degrees the slower the better. Cook meat about 150 degrees (RARE) take off and wrap in tin foil. Wait about 30 minutes and enjoy!

December 5, 2007

Cream of Crab Soup to Warm Your Heart

This is a post from the archives last year that is one of my favorite posts! Enjoy...

Have you ever thought about how you have made the friends and relationships in your life? I have.

As I was making a pot of crab soup last night I started thinking about the people I have met throughout my life and how they have made footprints in my life. For instance, the soup recipe I was making was given to me by some folks in Maryland.

About two years ago I met Cecil and Michelle. My parent’s had decided that they were going to sell our family farm and purchase another one closer to Springfield, Mo. As soon as they put the farm up for sale, people were visiting from all over the county to look over the farm. There were people from California, Florida, Colorado, New York…I was amazed by the response.

But while all this was happening my parents were having their doubts about their choice to sell. I was unhappy about the decision from the get go. The family farm meant the world to me. Every childhood memory I had steamed from those hills, trees, creeks, barns, cattle, the swimming hole, dirt roads, fences and the “love tree.”

The “love tree” you ask? This is a very special place on my parent’s farm. My niece named this tree. The love tree is on the largest hilltop on my parent’s farm. It overlooks the entire farm, stock and barns. On this very special hilltop my husband proposed to me in 2002. We engraved our initials in this tree, and that is why my niece calls it the “love tree.”

Every memory of mine is wrapped into our family farm. So, when a couple from Maryland came for a visit (Cecil and Michelle) and decided to make an offer on my parents farm that matched my father’s asking price…..I became very worried!

This was the first buyer that asked the full asking price. Would my parent’s sell? Would I loose my Ozark hills? Would I never see our love tree again? Would I never be able to take my kids to the farm?

I met Cecil and Michelle and they were a wonderful couple. They had decied to move from Maryland to the Ozarks to escape the big city life and move their family to the country. They always wanted to have a farm and timber and they loved my parent’s farm.

For about four months the couple made frequent visits to our farm, as they were trying to sell their business in Maryland. During that time my parents and the couple became very good friends.Then one day my father called me and asked me, “Lane how would you feel is we didn’t sell the farm?” Although my father knew the answer to this question I gave him an answer. “That would be the best news in the world.”So it was. My parents after many months of “to sell or not to sell” had decided to remain on our Ozark farm. But the friends they had made: Cecil and Michelle did purchase a farm about 20 minutes from my parents and the couple remains close family friends of ours.

It’s experiences like these that bring all different types of people into our lives. My friends stem from Charolais cattle breeders, former FFA’ers, college friends, overseas experiences, co-workers, local Mid-Mo friends, a summer softball team my husband and I play on, many ag-related groups I serve on….all these experiences shape the relationships we acquire and the people we are. I am thankful to have met so many wonderful people throughout my life like Cecil and Michelle.

Here is a crab soup recipe that Michelle passed on to my mother and me. It is way too easy to be as good as it is! My friend Danni recently won 1st place with this soup recipe in her company's Soup Contest!

Cream of Crab Soup
By Michelle(This makes a very large batch. I usually cut it in half, unless I’m serving it for a party.)
6 cans of cream of celery soup
2 quarts half and half
1 stick of butter
1 lb. of crabmeat (if using canned crab meat 4-5 (6 oz) cans)
A bag of steamed broccoli florets
1 ½ tsps. of Old Bay seasonings (found in the spice area in your local grocery store)
2 T. garlic powder
3T. dry mustard powder

Put everything except the crabmeat and broccoli into a large pot. Bring ingredients to a slow simmer for 25 minutes. Be sure to stir quite often. Meanwhile, steam your broccoli florets and when steamed chop coarsely.

After the soup mixture has simmered for 25 minutes, place crabmeat and broccoli in pot and simmer till the mixture is thick enough for your own taste. Garnish with any white cheese and oyster crackers.* After I add the crabmeat and broccoli I usually only simmer the soup for another 10 minutes and then remove it from the heat.