Olive Cheese Bread

Some of you…. you know who you are, I know who you are, need to hide your eyes for this one. Ha! I will not comment on how this bread might just make you into an olive lover. I will refuse to say that it is really unreal that you all will miss out on this wonderful olivey, pleasure in this adventure called life. I will not expand upon the fact that olives are just nature’s wonderful way of naturally adding salt to your gooey, cheesey bread. Are you all hiding your eyes and ears now??….. One of my favorite ways to fix up a loaf of french bread is with this yummy recipe from Ree Drummond!! There, it’s over. It’s all ok now…. Now gather these ingredients.

1 loaf French bread
8 ounces pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
8 ounces pitted, black olives, chopped
2 green onions, sliced thinly
1 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 pound Monterrey Jack cheese, grated

Combine butter, mayonnaise, cheese, olives and green onions in a mixing bowl. Stir together until thoroughly combined. Spread mixture onto a loaf of French bread that has been sliced lengthwise. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to turn brown.

Ree says the mixture can be refrigerated up to two days and used as a dip with crackers as well!

I say, make it to go alongside Italian food, a steak dinner, cut into squares as an appetizer, or cut into thick strips as lunch or supper!

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

This is Pioneer Woman’s recipe that I found on Food Network’s website, but I have added an extra step that you should know about, called the lounging by the pool method, that is helpful for whatever pasta sauce you might be making! Shhhh….it’s super important that you keep this a secret! The tip comes from an owner of an Italian restaurant in Dallas, that I had the pleasure of visiting with about food, at a hotel I was staying at, and he told me this while I was sunburning by the pool…..early in the day, chop your onion and garlic and cover it in olive oil. Let the mixture sit all day. In the evening, make your pasta sauce with the onion and garlic mixture, and it will have a wonderful flavor like you’ve simmered your sauce all day! And it is so true! I love this little trick and I really like to use it when I’m making this recipe. And this is truly one of my family’s favorite ways to eat spaghetti! Thanks PW! Thanks owner of the Dallas Italian restaurant! Thank you Aloe Vera, that I lived to share this recipe tip!

2 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce or marinara sauce (I like to use the marinara.)
Dash of sugar (or more to taste)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds fettuccine (Spaghetti is my preference.)
1 C. heavy cream
Grated Parmesan or Romano, as needed
Chopped fresh basil, for serving (Green onions or flat leaf parsley work too.)

Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook for a minute or so. Pour in the tomato sauce or marinara, add sugar, salt and pepper to taste and stir. Cook over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (*Lounging by the pool method – chop your onion and garlic early in the day and cover with the 2 T. olive oil. I actually use a little extra oil and sprinkle it with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper and let it marinate all day, preferably while lounging by a pool, LOL, then start from the beginning according to the directions with this recipe.)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. (I feel when making pasta, it is always a good rule of thumb to save some pasta water. The salty, starchy water will always be a flavorful way to keep your pasta from being too dry if you don’t have enough sauce or if your sauce needs a little extra “sauce” if you know what I mean.)

Remove the sauce from he heat and stir in the cream. Add cheese to taste (a couple of good handfuls), then check the seasoning. Stir in the pasta and thin with a little pasta water if needed. Add the chopped basil and serve immediately.

This is great with a green salad, homemade ranch dressing, and PW’s cheesy olive bread. Yum!!

Campers’ Favorite Dip

This chili cheese dip is absolutely perfect for when you need something yummy and you need it fast! It’s great for a night of grilling outdoors or even for a cozy night indoors, just bake it in the oven! Serve with Fritos. Valorie Ebie from Bel Aire, KS shared this recipe with Taste of Home. This is so delicious.

1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese
1 (15 oz) can chili, I use Hormel brand chili with no beans
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, I shred my own and use colby cheese
2 thinly sliced green onions or diced jalapeños for garnish
Tortilla chip scoops or Fritos

Prepare campfire or grill for medium-low heat. Spread cream cheese in the bottom of a 9 inch disposable foil pie pan. Top with chili; sprinkle with cheese.

Place pan on a grill grate over a campfire or on grill until cheese is melted, 5-8 minutes. If desired, garnish with green onions or diced jalapeños. Serve with corn chips.

This can easily be baked in the oven at 350 degrees until bubbly and melty! Enjoy!

COOKING THE BOOKS, YA’LL!

Texas-Style Chili

When it’s time to think about putting on a pot of homemade chili, this is the first one to enter my mind! This is Paula Deen’s recipe and it is the only one that I have truly enjoyed, that has beans in it. I’m normally a strict, Texas chili, and all chili for that matter, needs zero beans. Zip. Nada. NONE. No beans. BUT…..I love this concoction with them! Even though the name of this recipe kind of bothers me, since I firmly believe that Texas chili has no beans, who am I to change the name of one of Paula’s recipes?? Nope. Not me. Paula is the Queen! Regardless of the bean dilemma, this recipe is absolutely delicious!! It’s cold outside. Let’s make some!

3 pounds ground chuck
1 pound hot bulk sausage
3 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chili powder
2 T. all-purpose flour
1 T. sugar
1 T. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
2 (28 oz.) cans whole tomatoes, chopped with kitchen shears inside the can, with their juice
3 (16 oz.) cans Bush’s hot chili beans, drained

Combine the ground chuck, sausage, onions, and garlic in a Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat until the meat is browned; stir the meat to break it up as it cooks. Drain off the pan drippings. Stir in chili powder, flour, sugar, oregano, and salt, and mix well. (Here I add a little liquid of some sort. The recipe doesn’t call for it, but it makes me nervous to cook it like that for very long, for fear of some major scalding. Not that it would, it’s just something I’m not willing to try. Ha. So, a little red wine, juice from the canned beans, water, or beef broth are some suggestions, if you feel it needs some liquid too.)

Cover, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes and beans, and simmer for 20 minutes longer. Adjust seasonings and serve with crackers, chopped green onions, and cheese.

*I like to add salt to the meat while it is cooking even if the recipe doesn’t call for it. I feel like it gives meat the best flavor, at the best time, rather than salting afterwards.
Also, the left over chili is great for topping baked potatoes, french fries, tater tots, fritos, and even corn casseroles.

Makes about 5 Quarts

COOKING THE BOOKS, YA’LL!

Mexican Lasagna

Chock full of corn, black beans, chicken and cheese, this Mexican Lasagne is sure to be one your friends and family will enjoy! This casserole is a Rachael Ray recipe off of Food Network’s website and I have always enjoyed it as well as those that I have served it to. I love the spinach tortillas, but my two littles prefer just regular flour tortillas. Either way, it’s quick and delicious!

3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 lbs. ground chicken breast
2 T. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained
1 cup medium heat taco sauce or 1 (14 oz.) can stewed or fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn kernels
Salt
8 (8 inch) spinach flour tortillas
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar or shredded pepper jack
2 scallions, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil. Add chicken and season with chili powder, cumin, and red onion. Brown the meat, 5 minutes.

Add taco sauce or stewed or fired roasted tomatoes. Add black beans and corn. Heat the mixture through, 2 to 3 minutes then season with salt, to taste.

Coat a shallow baking dish with remaining extra-virgin olive oil, about 1 T. oil. Cut the tortillas in half or quarters to make them easy to layer with. Build lasagna in layers of meat and beans, then tortillas, then cheese. Repeat: meat, tortillas, then cheese again.

Bake the lasagna 12 to 15 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. Top with the scallions and serve.

Banana Pudding with Sugar Biscuits

This banana pudding breaks away from tradition by being served with cinnamon sugar biscuits instead of being layered with Nilla Wafers. And I was truly skeptical at first, but the biscuits are so sweet and crunchy around the edges and match perfectly with the cold and creamy banana pudding, not to mention the fresh sweetened whipped cream! The biscuits are great for dipping, crumbling, and slathering on the yummy pudding. A slight break in tradition is fun for a change. My kids think so too!

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
3 egg yolks
4 cups milk
3 T. butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 bananas, sliced
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Sugar Biscuits, recipe follows

Whisk together first 5 ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture boils. Boil, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat, and stir in butter and vanilla.

Line bottom of a trifle bowl or large clear bowl with one-third banana slices and one-third pudding. Repeat layers twice, ending with pudding. Cover and chill 8 hours.

Beat whipping cream at medium speed with an electric mixer util foamy; gradually add powedered sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Spread evenly over pudding. Serve with Sugar Biscuits.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.

SUGAR BISCUITS

2 cups baking mix, such as Bisquick
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup milk

Stir together first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender until crumbly. Add milk, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. Drop mixture into 12 mounds on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool.
Makes 12 biscuits.

Southern-Style Ham Fried Rice

I’m having the best time revisiting this 2004 Southern Living Annual Recipes Cookbook, I have. I was pregnant with Creed that year and apparently from all of my notes in this book, I was cooking up a storm! So another of my favorites from it, is this ham fried rice recipe! My household loves fried rice and this is perfect to use up leftover rice or ham that you may have on hand. Using my rice cooker ahead of time, makes this dish easy to throw together. I just cook my rice in the morning or even the day before. Throw it in the fridge to get super cold so it will be perfectly ready for frying that evening for supper! Cold rice is the key to awesome fried rice, by the way. This is good served with sweet tea and Mrs. Shcuberts frozen individual rolls topped with honey butter before baking. A sweet southern meal with an asian twist!

3 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled, reserve drippings
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked ham
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
3 green onions, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
3 1/2 cups cooked rice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup soy sauce or stir fry sauce

In a hot skillet over medium-high heat with the bacon drippings, add chopped ham and stir-fry for 3 minutes or until ham is lightly browned. Add bell pepper and next 5 ingredients, and stir-fry 5 minutes. Add rice, and stir-fry 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Push rice mixture to sides of skillet, forming a well in the center. Pour eggs into the well, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggs are set. Stir rice mixture into eggs; stir in soy sauce or stir fry sauce and crumbled bacon. Spoon into individual serving bowls.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Black Bean-Corn Salsa

This dip is out of my 2004 Southern Living Annual Recipes Cookbook, and it is a definite keeper! Super bowl is coming up and this would be perfect for snacking on during the big game. Fallon loves this. Creed is more quiet regarding this. I think 1 out of 2 kids is pretty good, don’t you? For green and healthy looking things… Serve with tortilla chips or fritos and watch it disappear!

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (11 oz.) cans sweet whole kernel corn, drained
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 T. minced fresh jalapeño, I used an entire large jalapeño and left the seeds (it wasn’t too spicy, but follow your gut on this depending on how much heat you like.)
3 T. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 avocado, chopped
Tortilla chips

Combine first 10 ingredients in a bowl. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Add avocado just before serving. Makes 3 1/2 cups.

Coconut Cream Pie

Cool, creamy, light and delicious, I love this easy pie! It would be excellent to make and take to a friend, perfect served after a heavy meal, or just because it’s National Pie Day. Ok. That was two days ago, but still! Why can’t National Pie Day be everyday? I might just declare it so!

1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup sugar, divided
3 cups milk
3 T. cornstarch
4 egg yolks, separated and divided
1/2 T. vanilla extract
1/8 t. salt
1 1/4 T. butter
9-inch pie crust, baked
Garnish: flaked coconut

In a large heavy saucepan, bring coconut, 1/2 cup sugar, milk, cornstarch, 3 egg yolks, vanilla, salt and butter to a boil. Stir constantly with a whisk until the mixture thickens. Pour into cooled pie crust. Blend together 4 egg whites and remaining sugar. Cover pie with meringue. Sprinkle with coconut. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until top is golden. Cool before serving.
Makes 6 servings or 1 if it’s National Pie Day.

COOKING THE BOOKS, YA’LL!

Instant Pot Carne Guisada

Carne guisada translates to stewed meat, and let me tell you, this meat is so tender and delicious! For a good, speedy meal, serve with warmed tortillas, canned refried beans doctored up with butter, salt and cheese, throw some spanish style ready rice in the microwave, add guacamole, salsa, sour cream, shredded cheese …. you get the drift! I think I could go on and on! Black olives, shredded lettuce, diced onions, chopped tomatoes…… ok. ok. It’s so yummy!

2 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound beef stew meat
1 Serrano pepper, minced (leave some seeds if you like more heat.)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup tomato sauce
Salt and pepper
Cornstarch to thicken, optional

Press the Saute button on the Instant Pot. Heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic until fragrant.

Add the beef and stir for 3 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients.

Close the lid and press the Manual button. Adjust the cooking time to 30 minutes.

When it’s finished, do quick pressure release.

**I like to add a little cornstarch to thicken the liquid into a gravy like consistency, when it is finished cooking. Just press the saute button again after taking the lid off, add your cornstarch, 1 to 2 T., and stir to thicken. Adjust your seasonings and serve with all of your yummy add-alongs!

Oh, and I add a little Sazon Goya seasoning at the end, to taste, as well. Enjoy!

COOKING THE BOOKS, YA’LL!