Monday, April 11, 2011

Dinner and a Book...

   Wow! I haven't posted in a really long time! Sadly, I haven't done any true home cooking lately. We all know that the only activity in Kentucky during March Madness involves standing in front of a TV set screaming, haha! But tonight I am making up for it...
    Tonight we had honey ham, green beans and new potatoes, mac and cheese, and Mom-ma's biscuits. I have to say, I splurged and had two honey biscuits for dessert. They were delicious! I don't have pictures of anything we ate because I was too busy scrambling to get everything done. I started cooking much too late and had to rush the beans a bit, but they were still delicious.
   I've been thinking about what I am going to attempt next as my, "something I have never made because I was afraid I would fail miserably...", dish . Does anyone have any ideas??? I often reference my best friend in the kitchen,  The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. I love flipping through and discovering all sorts of new things. I strongly suggest flipping through your favorite go to book, you never know what you'll find....

Until next weekend...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bread and Butter!

 Well, my bread FINALLY turned out! I found a recipe for hamburger buns and made those about 2 weeks ago and thought...,"This recipe would be good for loaf bread also." So I decided to give it a try. I also made some fresh butter to go with it because; after all, what is better with fresh bread than fresh butter?

  • 2 C. warm milk (110°F/ 45°C)
  • ¼ C. margarine, melted
  • ¼ C warm water
  • ¼ C white sugar
  • 2 (.25 oz.) packages instant yeast
  • 2 teas. salt
  • 6 C all-purpose flour (or whole wheat flour), or as needed
    In a large bowl, stir together the milk, margarine (I actually used some of the fresh butter I made rather than margarine), warm water, sugar and yeast. Let stand about 5 minutes or until the yeast gets bubbly.

    Mix in the salt, and gradually stir in the flour until you have a soft dough. Will be very stretchy and sticky.

    Preheat oven to 375°.

    Turn out onto floured surface and knead slightly (3 or 4 turns). Shape into loaf and place in bread pan. Let rise for approximatley 20 minutes. Bake bread at 375° for approximately 30 minutes or until top of loaf is golden brown and bottom of pan sounds hollow when tapped. Turn out onto wire rack to cool. Serve while warm with butter, honey, or jam of your choice.

    This recipe can also be used to make hamburger buns. Instead of forming onto loaf, split into equal 12 pieces and form into balls. Place 2-3 inches apart on baking sheets and let rise for 20 min. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool slightly, then split them in half a horizontally to fill with your favorite burger!


There is a great page to show you how to make butter. You can find the link HERE. It is pretty much exactly how I do mine.

There is not much better than this treat here!

Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Oh My! Sweet Apple Pie!

  I've been planning on making a pie lately and was having trouble trying to decide which type to make. Since it was my very first completely homemade pie I decided to go with the all American apple pie.

  Although I don't really need an excuse to make one, I thought it was pretty neat that yesterday was Pi Day( π or 3.14). So I dedicate my pie to Pi Day :) On a side note and totally separate from my pie story, I would also like to point out that Pi Day is celebrated on 3/14, cute right?

  Anyway, I went in search of an apple pie filling recipe and, as always, turned to my Fannie Farmer cookbook. I decided to go with the simple and basic recipe as it was already later in the day than I would have preferred and had to unfortunately rush things along. Well, rushing did not pay off, I messed my top crust up and had to make another(which is not exactly the quickest thing in the world to do) and that one wasn't quite the prettiest either. So I put it in the oven and then I remember... I forgot to put the butter dots in!  I ended up pulling the pie out and shoving as many little pads of butter as I could in the slits of the pie.. Needless to say at this point I was so frazzled and frustrated I just wanted it to all be over with. I wanted a piece of my hard work so that it would all be worth it...

                                                                                    and it was....

   The moral of the story is: Always give yourself plenty of time to accomplish your dish! Otherwise mistakes WILL happen! Just ask me. :) It may not be the prettiest pie in the world, but it was good, and it was mine, from start to finish and that I am proud of! :)

Apple Pie
  As from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook 12th edition, page 579
  • 9" two crust pie pastry
  • ¾- 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teas. salt
  • 1 teas. cinnamon
  • ½ teas. nutmeg
  • 1½ T flour
  • 6 large, firm, tart apples
  • 2 T butter
  Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a 9" pie pan with half of pastry dough. Mix the sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour in a large bowl. Peel, core, and slice apples and toss them in the sugar mixture, coating them well. Pile them into the lined pan and dot with butter. Roll out the top crust and drape it over the pie. Crimp the edges and cut several vents in the top. Bake 10 minutes , then lower the heat to 350°F and bake 30-40 minutes more or until the apples are tender when pierced with a skewer and the crust is browned. Serve alone or á la mode.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sunday Sweets and Monday's Meal

 Well, Sunday I gave into another sweet craving and made something that Bob loves and I hadn't had in a LONG time... Banana Pudding!! It was soo good! All this cooking I have been doing lately has had a lot to do with the food I grew up eating, and in the Sparkman family, banana pudding is a staple I remember always being there as a child. I wasn't a huge fan of it growing up, I just liked helping my aunts make it :) Putting the cookie layers on was my favorite part because we always got a few for ourselves! Anyway, I planned poorly and ran off to the grocery without having a good idea of everything I needed so I just used the recipe on the box of pudding... still delicious! You can find the recipe I used HERE. Of course I added more Nilla wafers than called for but how can you not?! That's the best part :)

 Monday was an experimental day for me... I made my first pie crust! It was actually very good! I was so proud of myself, lol, I was so afraid it wouldn't turn out but it was perfect and flaky and delicious. I made a chicken pot pie that was LOOSELY based on a recipe I found HERE. By loosely I mean about the only thing I kept the same was the chicken and the Philly cooking creme. :) I know this is the second post I have done on the the new Philly creme but, it's pretty stinkin good and  I've had 2 $1.50 off coupons meaning I paid .98 each for them which also makes it a good cheap meal, which is always nice. I decided I want to try this recipe but I wanted to make it more heartfelt and put a bit more effort into it. More of myself, rather than a cookie-cutter recipe. That's why I made my own crust and changed the veggies. Afterall, that is what this whole blog is about, getting back to my roots. I can assure you that neither of my grandmothers would ever use a store bought pie crust, so why should I? Why can't I hold myself to the same standard, when it's just as easy to make my own? So thanks to my Fannie Farmer cookbook, I did...

Saturday, March 5, 2011


  So, change of plans... staying home this weekend due to weather, so on this cold and rainy day I decided why not chili? There aren't (hopefully) going to be many more "chili" days left, so I decided to take advantage of it and use my last round of chili ingredients of the season. I know there are about a bajillion ways to make chili and everybody likes it just a little bit different. Mine comes out a little different every time but as long as the hubs is happy so am I. :) Tonight it was:

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • onion, garlic and chili powders
  • paprika
  • 3/4 can of tomato juice
  • 2 cans chili beans
  • 1 lg can mushrooms
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes 
  • 2 packages of chili seasoning
   Brown the hamburger and onion in pot. (I season with onion, garlic and chili powders and paprika at this point. No certain amount, just what looks right.) Add rest of the ingredients and simmer for app. 30 min. stirring occasionally. 

I've gotten on a big dessert kick also lately. So bad, I know, but I can't help it. There just so good! It just takes control on my part... at least that's what I keep telling myself. Lol. Anyway, I LOVE blondies. They are by far one of my favorite sweets, I had been craving them about a week now, so I figured I had tortured myself long enough and gave in... The reward was oh so sweet!!!


  • 1/4 C. butter
  • 1 C. brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 chopped nuts
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
   Melt butter; blend in sugar. Add egg and beat. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to egg mixture; mix well. Add nuts and vanilla. (The mixture will be very thick) Spread in a greased 8x8 pan. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Cut into squares or bars while warm.

Mine as you see it here... is topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate and caramel. Delicious!!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Where Did the Week Go?!?!

    Well, I am going to be out of town this weekend so no big elaborate meals planned. :( I know, I know... I have been really busy this week and haven't had time to blog. So let's see...

Monday night we had:
    Chicken Primevara
    1 lb.boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
    2 cups frozen stir-fry vegetables (broccoli, carrots, red peppers, snow peas)
    1 tub (10 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Italian Cheese and Herb Cooking Creme
    2 cups hot cooked fettuccine

  Cook and stir chicken in large nonstick skillet on medium heat 5 to 6 min. or until done. Add vegetables;cook 2 to 3 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally. 
   Add cooking creme; cook and stir 3 min. 
   Stir in pasta.

    It's was pretty good although I did not have the stir fry veggies so I steamed some broccoli and green peppers. It was still delicious :) I had the leftovers for lunch on Wednesday and still enjoyed it :) There are more great recipes using the new cooking creme here:

    Tuesday night was UK game night so it was leftover night... The last of the the dumplings were smashed just like the Commodores... :) GO BIG BLUE!!

    Wednesday Bob cooked dinner! Go BOB!! We had steak with fried onions, green peppers and mushrooms; creamed peas and baked potatoes. It truly was the best dinner of the week! I wish I had gotten a picture of it. :(

    Thursday was spaghetti and salad night. Pretty self explanatory :o/

    Tonight we had Pork Milanese, steamed broccoli and corn...

   Pork Milanese

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 boneless pork loin chops, butterflied and gently flattened with the bottom of a saute pan 

      Set up a standard breading procedure by placing the flour, egg, and panko mixed with the grated pecorino separate wide flat containers. Season the pork generously with salt on both sides. Using 1 hand for wet ingredients and the other hand for dry ingredients coat the meat in the flour, then in the eggs, and then in the bread crumbs, pressing the panko onto the pork to adhere. Set aside until ready to cook.

     In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil until it is about a 1/2-inch deep. Check the temperature of the oil by dipping the edge of the pork into the oil, if it does not sizzle and bubble STOP and WAIT! Check it again in another minute. If the oil is smoking it is too hot. When the oil is at the proper temperature gently add the pork. Do not crowd the pan or you will end up with greasy pork; it may be necessary to work in batches. When the pork is beautifully golden brown and cooked through, remove them from the pan and blot on paper towels.

     This is part of a recipe for an entire meal from Chef Anne Burrell of Food Network. It is really stinkin good. Bob and I love it and probably eat it more often than we should. Lol. But really it's a great and easy recipe. Don't be afraid to try it. :) Here is the link to the complete recipe:

     So nothing big this weekend but Monday, it's on... because I'm off... work, so look for something new! I haven't figured out what I want to fix so I am totally open to suggestions... anybody?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dandy Dumplings and Hot Patata Salad

  So, I started thinking about what I wanted to fix this weekend on Thursday... I flip flopped back and forth on a couple of things and then.... Dad mentioned chicken and dumplings and I couldn't get them outta my head! So... now they're in my stomach :) This was my second attempt on chicken and dumplings, the first ended horribly about 5 yrs ago and I've been afraid since then. But I had to have them today, so I carried on. This time was a sweet success!! Bob can't get enough and I am so pleased with how they came out. I didn't have a whole chicken, only breast so I cooked that and added some bouillon for a bit more flavor. Here's the recipe I used...

Chicken and Dumplings

Cook chicken or chicken parts in water to which is added onion, celery, salt and bouillon if needed for flavor.

Cut chicken in bite size pieces and add to broth.
        (I just pulled the chicken instead of cutting it up.)

Mix 1 cup sifted flour with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 1/2 tsp baking powder.

Stir in 1/2 cup milk ans 2 T oil, mix lightly.

Drop dumplings in boiling broth, cover tightly and steam 12-15 minutes.

   This recipe is from a church cookbook that a customer of mine at Office Depot gave me a couple of years ago. I have used this cookbook a lot since then and haven't been let down with a recipe yet. Thanks to you Pastor _______. I'm sorry I don't remember your name but you have a wealth of good cooks in your congregation! :)

   While I was at looking for a recipe for the dumplings I came across another recipe I have been looking for since I moved to Western KY, Hot Potato Salad. There is a local resteraunt that serves it, but only occasionally, it's soo good! Now, I don't need them! I can have it whenever I want! Hope you guys will give it a try.. :)

Hot Potato Salad 

6-7 medium potatoes, cooked in skins (microwaveable)
3 boiled eggs, chopped
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 lg. onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups salad dressing
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 T prepared mustard

    Slice potatoes with skins, add eggs and onion. mix together. In a separate bowl mix salad dressing, sugar and mustard. Pour over potato mixture and  stir. Put in 2 qt. casserole dish and top with crumbled bacon. Bake at 350° for 30 min. uncovered. Serves 10-12

    You can fix with or without the skins on the potatoes... I prefer without, but however you like is fine :)

   I'm off tomorrow too and have some apples I need to use before they go bad. I'm think fried apple pies.... anybody else got any suggestions??