Feb 092014
 

Probably the most versatile sauce for your recipe collection is a good spaghetti sauce.  I have been told by my kids and many others that mine is their favorite.  It is a simple recipe with nothing very unique or special.  Mostly, the ingredients are typical to any kitchen cupboard or pantry.

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So while I think it good enough to go on my blog collection of Only My Best Recipes, it is not particularly “sexy” or interesting.  (I never have understood why magazines will describe anything non-human as sexy.)

Anyway, it is just one of my most used recipes because it makes great lasagna or meatballs with pasta dishes.  Serve it over spaghetti noodles, atop toasted french bread or in your lasagna recipe.  Consider doubling it and freezing half for future use.  Or freeze in meal size portions for a quick meal when you are too tired, or too sexy for your cooking.  Or whatever.  Even if your aren’t tired or too sexy– it makes a wonderful Italian meal. Pair it with my Herb Bread and you will impress anyone.

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Let me know if you find it sexy.  I need to know why…

Italian Spaghetti

Ingredients:

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1 lb hamburger

1 lb Italian sausage

1 cup chopped onion (more if you love it)

1 clove garlic

1 cup water

1 t. salt

1 t. sugar

1 t. dried oregano leaved

3/4 t. dried basil leaved

1/2 t. dried marjoram leaves

1/4 t. dried rosemary leaves

1/2 t. red pepper flakes (if you like it spicy)

1 bay leaf

1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste

1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce

1 (15 oz) can stewed tomatoes

Cook and brown the hamburger and sausage with the onion and garlic in a dutch oven. Do not overcook, just cook until browned.
Drain well.
Add the remaining ingredients.

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Heat to boiling then turn down to simmer.

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Cover and simmer over low heat for about one hour. Stir occasionally.

That simple.  But, it still is good enough for  Only My Best Recipes.

 

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My Best (but not particularly sexy) Spaghetti Sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

6 servings

Ingredients

  • Italian Spaghetti
  • 1 lb hamburger
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 cup chopped onion (more if you love it)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. sugar
  • 1 t. dried oregano leaved
  • 3/4 t. dried basil leaved
  • 1/2 t. dried marjoram leaves
  • 1/4 t. dried rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 t. red pepper flakes (if you like it spicy)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) can stewed tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Cook and brown the hamburger and sausage with the onion and garlic in a dutch oven. Do not overcook, just cook until browned.
  2. Drain well.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients.
  4. Heat to boiling then turn down to simmer.
  5. Cover and simmer over low heat for about one hour. Stir occasionally.
http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/my-best-but-not-particularly-sexy-spaghetti-sauce/

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 072013
 

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Potica, Povetica, Poticia…

There are many different ways to spell  it.  My family spells it “Potica”.  Which confuses people into pronouncing it “POT ick ah”, instead of “pah TEET sa”.

No matter—they are names for the same Slavic bread.

A rich mixture of walnuts, honey and sugar spread across the thinly rolled sweet dough, this bread is often made for special occasions.  My mom would make it for Christmas and Easter.  Slavic communities will prepare it for funerals.  In the valley that I live in, where many immigrants came to work the local lead smelter, most everyone knows what this ethnic bread is.  And there are strong opinions on how it should be made.

Mine is a less “rich” version.  If I were to compete with those made in East Helena, I would have to double the filling so as to get the thick swirls of walnuts that characterize the samples that I have had at local funerals.  But given the price of walnuts, and the added calories that I always seem to be counting, I have a lighter version.

But having said that, it is NO DIET FOOD.  It is high in calories.  Which is why we eat it on holidays.  The time of year when you should set your scale back ten pounds…

Give it a try—I use my beloved bread machine to make the dough, and make it in about a third recipe of what my mom used to make.  The result is about a football sized loaf of pure love.

I have detailed the instructions so that anyone can make it—because most won’t attempt it without the tutoring of grandma or great aunt.  Don’t be afraid to prepare it for your next holiday.  Take notes for yourself.  It took me several tries to get the results that I was pleased with.  Not that it altered the taste that much, but the end product should be pretty if you are going to serve it to those people whose name ends in “ich” or “ic”.

But don’t be intimidated by a reputation—just go for it!  You just might score a touchdown with your family!  (or, make it and sell it—most people will pay a premium for it!)

Bread Dough:

Place into the bread machine:

¾ cup plus 1 T. warmed milk–  don’t warm it too much, just take the chill off of it

3 T shortening

2 ½ c. flour

2 T sugar

Scant t. salt

1 egg

2 t yeast

Run your bread machine on the dough cycle.  When done, place the dough onto a well floured countertop.  Allow to rest for 15 minutes (this is very important because it helps to relax the gluten so rolling out the dough is easier)

While your dough is going through the dough cycle of your machine (about 1 ½ hours), then prepare the walnut mixture.

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Grind walnuts in a food processor or hand grinder, checking diligently for any walnut shells that the factory missed.

1 lbs. walnuts

3 T butter or margarine

1/3 c. cream or half and half

Dash salt

1 t. vanilla

1/3. c. honey

1 c. sugar

2 ½ t. cinnamon

1 t. lemon rind

1 large egg, beaten

Add them to a 2 qt. saucepan.  Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT THE EGG,  and stir over very low heat.

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The purpose is to warm the mixture so that it blends well, not to cook it. Once blended, leave it until the dough is rolled out and ready to prepare.

While to dough is resting, take a cloth dishtowel (not a terrycloth one) and “drench” it with flour.  This will serve as the surface onto which you will roll out the dough.  It should measure about 24” x 18”. (I have one that I use consistently for this purpose.)

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Once the dish towel is fully “floured” then place it on the countertop, placing your rested dough in the middle.  Now gently roll out the dough to the edges, flouring your rolling pin if needed.  Don’t worry if you get holes—it doesn’t matter if you do.  Do try to get a consistent thickness.

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Once the dough is rolled, carefully reheat the walnut mixture just until it is soft again.  Remove from heat and stir in the beaten egg, doing it quickly so that none of it “cooks” in the pan.

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You are ready now to spread the walnut mixture onto the dough.  Place spoonfuls as pictured.  Using a spatula ( I like to use one like the pros use for frosting a cake), gently push the mixture across the dough, (do not let the spatula touch the dough – this will make it drag the dough with it) all the while going to all the edges except one of the narrow ends.  Aim for a consistent thickness.  Try not to push hard. It is quite helpful to have the walnut mixture ever so lightly warm so that it spreads easily.

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Now, starting at the short end where you have spread the walnuts all the way to the edge, begin to roll towards the other end, using the towel to make it roll.  If it sticks, don’t worry, simply take a knife and cut it away from the towel.

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Once to the end, pinch the dough so that the roll is sealed.  Then press the round ends of the roll together so that the filling does not push out.

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Now turn it so that the sealed length edge is on the counter and then pull into a loop as pictured.

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Place in to a WELL GREASED 3 qt. enamelware pan.  (This is the small roaster size.)

Now shake latterly until the dough settles a little. Then shake up and down a bit also.  Cover with your floured towel  or clear wrap and place in a warm spot in your kitchen.  Allow to double, about one hour.

Once doubled,  place into the center of a preheated 325 degree oven.  Check at 45 minutes and cover lightly with a sheet of aluminum foil.  Finish baking.  Crust should be nicely browned.

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Once done, place on a cooling rack and run a steak knife around the edges.  Wait ten minutes and then invert onto another cooling rack (make sure you have the rack on top—don’t just dump it out.)  Next, turn it back over using another rack so that the rounded side faces up.  Rub with butter to soften the crust.  Allow to cool.

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Makes a 3 # loaf.  Freezes really well.  I often cut into two pieces and freeze separately.

Keeps well on the counter—no need to refrigerate.  Serve with butter, or not.  Now call yourself a Bohemian princess—you have made Potica!

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Potica, Povetica, Poticia…

Potica, Povetica, Poticia…

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup plus 1 T. warmed milk-- don't warm it too much, just take the chill off of it
  • 3 T shortening
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • Scant t. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 t yeast
  • Filling recipe
  • 1# walnuts
  • 3 T butter or margarine
  • 1/3 c. cream or half and half
  • Dash salt
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/3. c. honey
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. lemon rind
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Instructions

  1. For full pictured instructions go to: www.onlymybestrecipes.com/potica-povetica-poticia/
  2. Run your bread machine on the dough cycle. When done, place the dough onto a well floured countertop. Allow to rest for 15 minutes (this is very important because it helps to relax the gluten so rolling out the dough is easier)
  3. While your dough is going through the dough cycle of your machine (about 1 ½ hours), then prepare the walnut mixture.
  4. Grind walnuts in a food processor or hand grinder, checking diligently for any walnut shells that the factory missed.
  5. Add them to a 2 qt. saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT THE EGG, and stir over very low heat.
  6. The purpose is to warm the mixture so that it blends well, not to cook it. Once blended, leave it until the dough is rolled out and ready to prepare.
  7. While to dough is resting, take a cloth dishtowel (not a terrycloth one) and “drench” it with flour. This will serve as the surface onto which you will roll out the dough. It should measure about 24” x 18”. (I have one that I use consistently for this purpose.)
  8. Once the dish towel is fully “floured” then place it on the countertop, placing your rested dough in the middle. Now gently roll out the dough to the edges, flouring your rolling pin if needed. Don’t worry if you get holes—it doesn’t matter if you do. Do try to get a consistent thickness.
  9. Once the dough is rolled, carefully reheat the walnut mixture just until it is soft again. Remove from heat and stir in the beaten egg, doing it quickly so that none of it “cooks” in the pan.
  10. You are ready now to spread the walnut mixture onto the dough. Place spoonfuls as pictured. Using a spatula ( I like to use one like the pros use for frosting a cake), gently push the mixture across the dough, (do not let the spatula touch the dough – this will make it drag the dough with it) all the while going to all the edges except one of the narrow ends. Aim for a consistent thickness. Try not to push hard. It is quite helpful to have the walnut mixture ever so lightly warm so that it spreads easily.
  11. Now, starting at the short end where you have spread the walnuts all the way to the edge, begin to roll towards the other end, using the towel to make it roll. If it sticks, don’t worry, simply take a knife and cut it away from the towel.
  12. Once to the end, pinch the dough so that the roll is sealed. Then press the round ends of the roll together so that the filling does not push out.
  13. Now turn it so that the sealed length edge is on the counter and then pull into a loop as pictured.
  14. Place in to a WELL GREASED 3 qt. enamelware pan. (This is the small roaster size.)
  15. Now shake latterly until the dough settles a little. Then shake up and down a bit also. Cover with your floured towel or clear wrap and place in a warm spot in your kitchen. Allow to double, about one hour.
  16. Once doubled, place into the center of a preheated 325 degree oven. Check at 45 minutes and cover lightly with a sheet of aluminum foil. Finish baking. Crust should be nicely browned.
  17. Once done, place on a cooling rack and run a steak knife around the edges. Wait ten minutes and then invert onto another cooling rack (make sure you have the rack on top—don’t just dump it out.) Next, turn it back over using another rack so that the rounded side faces up. Rub with butter to soften the crust. Allow to cool.
  18. Makes a 3 # loaf. Freezes really well. I often cut into two pieces and freeze separately. Keeps well on the counter—no need to refrigerate. Serve with butter, or not. Now call yourself a Bohemian princess—you have made Potica!
http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/potica-povetica-poticia/

Oct 122013
 

I love granola—but have always been too cheap to buy it ready made.  And when I discovered how easy it is to make it at home, I swore I would never buy it at the store.  Still haven’t.  Take a try at this recipe.  It is sooooo, so  easy that  you will likely convert to my way of thinking.

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Oh, and don’t be afraid to make changes to suit your favorite flavor!

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Easy Home Style Granola

Simple, common ingredients you can always have on hand
Simple, common ingredients you can always have on hand

6 cups regular oats (you can use quick oats, but I prefer the regular)

2 cups shredded coconut

1 – 2 cups chopped nuts

1 cup honey or maple syrup (or pancake syrup)

or

1 cup brown sugar, packed

½ cup canola or coconut oil (or melted butter or margarine)

3 t. cinnamon

1 1/3 c. raisins or other dried fruit

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl, combine dry ingredients.

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In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, combine the oil and the honey (or syrup or brown sugar).  Stir well.

Add to the combined dry ingredients and mix well.

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Oil two large cookie sheets and divide oat mixture between the two pans.

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Lightly salt and then place in oven.  Bake 10 minutes, then switch cookie sheets and cook another 5 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Before allowing the oats to cool, loosen from pan with a metal spatula.  Allow to cool.  Top with dried fruit. (Or use chocolate chips if you are a chocoholic.)  Keep in an airtight container.  Serve with milk or eat as a snack.

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Hide it from yourself if you made it for the rest of the family.  Simply too tasty to pass up.

Makes about 10 cups of granola.

Easy to make Home Style Granola

Easy to make Home Style Granola

Ingredients

  • 6 cups regular oats (you can use quick oats, but I prefer the regular)
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 – 2 cups chopped nuts
  • 1 cup honey or maple syrup (or pancake syrup)
  • or
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup canola or coconut oil or melted butter or margarine
  • 3 t. cinnamon
  • 1 1/3 c. raisins or other dried fruit

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In large bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  3. In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, combine the oil and the honey (or syrup or brown sugar). Stir well.
  4. Add to the combined dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Oil two large cookie sheets and divide oat mixture between the two pans.
  6. Lightly salt and then place in oven. Bake 10 minutes, then switch cookie sheets and cook another 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven. Before allowing the oats to cool, loosen from pan with a metal spatula. Allow to cool. Top with dried fruit. (Or use chocolate chips if you are a chocoholic.) Keep in an airtight container. Serve with milk or eat as a snack.
  8. Hide it from yourself if you want it for the rest of the family. Simply too tasty to pass up.
  9. Makes about 10 cups of granola.
http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/easy-to-make-home-style-granola/

Aug 272013
 

My mother in law makes this recipe– I think she got it from her mother.  It is one of my favorites!  Simple, easy, quick , no fancy ingredients to buy– in fact, if you have pork chops in your freezer, you probably have all the necessary ingredients right now!

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(Note– I added craisins because I like them– they add a surprise bite to the dish– but you may omit them if you don’t love them.  If some of your family likes them, go ahead and throw them in.  Those that don’t can navigate around them.)

I actually had this recipe  published, like 25 years ago — it won the recipe award for a Sperry New Holland magazine.  My first claim to fame regarding food.

This recipe is mostly low fat (if you trim your chops well) and you can add more veggies (broccoli and cauliflower are good!) to make it more healthful.

Now to warn you– measurements are open to adjustments, depending on your taste.  Play with it, allow yourself extra time to cook to get the results that you want– especially if you add more veggies.

 

 

 

10 – 12 cups torn stale bread– try to use less dense breads that are dry. (I even leave it out to dry, or dry it an oven)
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1 1/2 cups sliced celery
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley, if you have it. Dried parsley is okay, too– use 2 T.
1/4 to 1/2 cup craisins (optional)
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. pepper

1 can cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup ( chicken is better)

1 can of warm water

4 – 6 pork chops, trimmed

 

Combine the bread, onions, celery, salt and pepper and craisins. Add soup and water.

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Combine these ingredients, tossing gently so that it does not compress. Add more water only if it is too dry to combine well.
In greased 9 x 13 inch pan, lightly press the stuffing evenly.  My pictures show a smaller pan– it is better to use the bigger pan so the stuffing will crisp up.

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Trim your pork chops well, salt and pepper both sides and place on top of the stuffing. You can place as many as you want on top, but know that unless the stuffing can breathe a bit, it will be soggy. If you like crisp– then allow more space around the chops. If you like soft, crowd the pork chops and leave the fat untrimmed.

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Bake 1 hour at 400 degrees, longer if you like it crispy. If you use a shiny pan, it will not brown. I like to use stoneware (as pictured). Remember, darkened pans cook and brown anything faster!
Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving. This recipe will freeze well both before cooked and after cooked.
True comfort food. Bet your man will love it.

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Pork Chops and Stuffing (not to be confused with stuffed pork chops)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

4-6 servings

One chop and 3/4 cup stuffing

Pork Chops and Stuffing (not to be confused with stuffed pork chops)

Ingredients

  • 10 - 12 cups torn stale bread-- try to use less dense breads that are dry. (I even leave it out to dry, or dry it an oven)
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced celery
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley, if you have it. Dried parsley is okay, too-- use 2 T.
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup craisins (optional)
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. pepper
  • 1 can cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup (better)
  • 1 can of warm water
  • 4 - 6 pork chops, trimmed.

Instructions

  1. Combine the bread, onions, celery, salt and pepper and craisins. Add soup and water.
  2. Combine these ingredients, tossing gently so that it does not compress. Add more water only if it is too dry to combine well.
  3. In greased 9 x 13 inch pan, lightly press the stuffing evenly.
  4. Trim your pork chops well, salt and pepper both sides and place on top of the stuffing. You can place as many as you want on top, but know that unless the stuffing can breathe a bit, it will be soggy. If you like crisp-- then allow more space around the chops. If you like soft, crowd the pork chops and leave the fat untrimmed.
  5. Bake 1 hour at 400 degrees, longer if you like it crispy. If you use a shiny pan, it will not brown. I like to use stoneware (as pictured). Remember, darkened pans cook and brown anything faster!
  6. Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving. This recipe will freeze well both before cooked and after cooked.
  7. True comfort food. Bet your man will love it.

Notes

Freezes well!

http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/pork-chops-and-stuffing-not-to-be-confused-with-stuffed-pork-chops/

 

 

Jun 032013
 

IMG_0295Years ago I decided that I was craving some pork ribs.  I baked the ribs, drained off the fat and realized that I was running really late.   I needed to get the sauce made and then get out the door to who knows whatever reason, so I re-engineered the recipe.  I read over the ingredients, rounded them up or down and concluded that my empty tomato paste can would be my measuring cup today.  After all, Rachel Ray doesn’t seem to measure anything, so why can’t I?

I wasn’t too certain as to how my experiment would work.  I wasn’t very brave then. I hoped for the best. I have to say, though, it was liberating to toss the can into the trashcan when I was done.  A quick spoonful of the final product tasted fairly good, but this was BEFORE it was on the ribs. I would wait with baited breath.  Whatever that means…

So I dumped the truncated recipe onto the already cooked ribs and tossed them back into the oven.  Said a prayer, probably, and then headed out the door. returning an hour and a half later, I was not disappointed.  In fact, quite ecstatic!  My Rachel-esque experiment yielded a wonderful sweet/sour/spicy rib that pleased both me and my David.  And all this with minimal time and clean up.

And now,  this is the only method that I use to make BBQ sauce. It’s delicious with beef round steak, chicken and beef ribs, too.   And to make another confession, I have even used some as a tasty add-in to soups that lack pizzazz.  (Hint: save  what’s leftover in the pan, add bit of the meat and add some vegetables to some canned stock)

I often make it up in double batches and keep it in the fridge for a second meal assembly.  After all, it takes more time to get out the ingredients than it does to measure and clean up (I mean toss) the mess.

And as you know, it fits my recipe objectives:  it is simple and uses common ingredients.   Rachel would be proud. I think.

Simple “Can Do” BBQ Sauce

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4-6 lbs. of cooked ribs, chicken or beef*  (see cooking directions below)

1 6 oz. can of tomato paste

1 can water

1 can brown sugar

1 can ketchup

3/4 can white vinegar

1 can chopped onion

2 T. prepared mustard (or, two dollops if you don’t want to measure)

1 1/2 t. salt

1 clove of garlic or 1/4 t. minced garlic (from a jar, because I never use up fresh garlic  before it spoils)

1 t. (about) of red pepper flakes (optional)

Start by roasting the meat, which takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  While the meat is cooking, open the tomato paste can.  Empty the paste into a medium mixing bowl.  Next, measure one can of water, add to the bowl.  Next, measure the brown sugar, then the ketchup, then the vinegar.  Chop the onion (about a can’s worth) and add it to the bowl.  Now finish with the mustard and seasonings.  Stir well.

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Pour over pre-cooked spare ribs, short ribs, chicken or round steak.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours.

*To cook the ribs, chicken or beef, place in a roaster pan or stoneware (as I have done).  Salt and pepper.  Cover loosely with foil, poke holes into the foil to allow steam to escape.  Roast meat for 2 hours or until mostly cooked.  Remove from pan and drain off fat.  Replace the meat into the pan and generously cover with the sauce.  Return to the oven and cook for another 1 to  1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees.  Check  periodically and remove if the sauce gets too browned.  Cut into serving pieces and serve with plenty of napkins.

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A BBQ sauce that anyone CAN master. (Hint, if you can open a can of tomato paste, you CAN make this)

A BBQ sauce that anyone CAN master.  (Hint, if you can open a can of tomato paste, you CAN make this)

Ingredients

  • 1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 1 can water
  • 1 can brown sugar
  • 1 can ketchup
  • 3/4 can white vinegar
  • 1 can chopped onion
  • 2 T. prepared mustard (or, two dollops if you don't want to measure)
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 clove of garlic or 1/4 t. minced garlic (because I never use up fresh garlic before it spoils)
  • 1 t. (about) of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4-5 lbs roasted meat-- ribs, round steak or chicken

Instructions

  1. For detailed directions and pictures, go to: [http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/a-bbq-sauce-that-anyone-can-master-hint-if-you-can-open-a-can-of-tomato-paste-you-can-make-this/]
  2. *Start by roasting the meat, which takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  3. While the meat is cooking, open the tomato paste can.
  4. Empty the paste into a medium mixing bowl.
  5. Next, measure one can of water, add to the bowl.
  6. Next, measure the brown sugar, then the ketchup, then the vinegar.
  7. Chop the onion (about a can's worth) and add it to the bowl.
  8. Now finish with the mustard and seasonings. Stir well.
  9. Pour over pre-cooked spare ribs, short ribs, chicken or round steak. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours.
  10. *To cook the ribs, chicken or beef, place in a roaster pan or stoneware (as I have done).
  11. Salt and pepper the meat.
  12. Cover loosely with foil, poke holes into the foil to allow steam to escape.
  13. Roast meat for 2 hours or until mostly cooked.
  14. Remove from pan and drain off fat.
  15. Replace meat into the pan and generously cover with the sauce.
  16. Return to the oven and cook for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees.
  17. Check periodically and remove if the sauce gets too browned.
  18. Cut into serving pieces and serve with plenty of napkins.
http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/a-bbq-sauce-that-anyone-can-master-hint-if-you-can-open-a-can-of-tomato-paste-you-can-make-this/

 

 Posted by at 2:34 pm
May 282013
 

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I have a dog-eared index card in my recipe box that I received over 35 years ago.  It was one that was given to me by David’s Aunt Patty.  It is called “Sweet and Sour French Dressing.” I have it in her writing, and next to it, in my handwriting, a quadrupled version of the ingredients that yields 2 quarts.

I don’t like it.  David does. It is sort of similar to Catalina dressing, I think.  I say, “I think” because I am positively NOT a fan of French dressing and so I really cannot tell you if they are the same.  I will take David’s word for it.

French dressing?  I just don’t love it.  It just seems so wrong to put ketchup on your salad (and now that I said that, you agree, right?)  And since I am a mustard person, and most French dressings have ketchup in them, you now understand why I sidestep them.

But since David has a strong preference for the French—I build this one often.  It is simple, uses common ingredients, and, although I am not a fan, many of my guests love this one.  I must admit, IT IS pretty.  Especially atop a spinach salad—the contrast between the dark green leaves and the reddish glisten of the (ketchup) and green onion –a delight to the eyes.

BESIDES—it is so inexpensive to make your own salad dressings! Besides,  I am NOT fond of forking over several dollars for a small bottle of what I can mix up in a blender is less than five minutes.

So, I said two dressings—here’s the deal– Yesterday, when I was making this recipe, I paused before adding the ketchup (like it takes courage to add this to the beautiful blend of ingredients.)  It struck me—maybe this recipe is delectable WITHOUT the ketchup!  So here’s what I did:  I saved out half of the mixture before adding the ketchup and voila’! Two recipes for the effort of one!  I served our salads for lunch, David’s with the French, mine with the French minus the ketchup.   It works.  The taste of both—sweet and infused with that green onion freshness, his with the ketchup, mine without.  Definitely a pleasing discovery—one that I will pass on to you.  Maybe next time, I will add mustard to mine, because I am definitely a mustard girl.

I will get back to you on the mustard idea.  I will have to wait until my fridge door has enough room to house all the condiment jars that I try to fit into those narrow cubbies.  Ahh… the limitations of the inspirational cook.

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The ingredients– simple and common

Two in One:  Green Onion Sweet and Sour Dressing and Sweet and Sour French Dressing

½ cup white vinegar

2/3 cup sliced green onion (use the green parts)

1 cup oil

2 t. salt

2 t. pepper (fresh ground or course ground is preferable)

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup ketchup—for the French version.

Measure all the ingredients except the sugar and ketchup and place into a blender.

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Blend very well (about one minute).  While running the blender on low speed, add the sugar slowly for about one minute.  Stop the blender and pour off half of the mixture. This is your Green Onion Sweet and Sour Dressing.

Now add the ketchup to the other half, blending for another minute.

Pour into jars and refrigerate.  This recipe keeps very well if kept refrigerated.  Makes 1 cup each version.

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A Tale of Two Dressings—one on purpose, another by chance.

A Tale of Two Dressings—one on purpose, another by chance.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 2/3 cup sliced green onion (use the green parts)
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 t. salt
  • 2 t. pepper (fresh ground or course ground is preferable)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup ketchup—for the French version.

Instructions

  1. For detailed and pictured directions, go to: [http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/a-tale-of-two-dressings-one-on-purpose-another-by-chance/]
  2. Measure all the ingredients except the sugar and ketchup and place into a blender.
  3. Blend very well (about one minute).
  4. While running the blender on low speed, add the sugar slowly for about one minute.
  5. Stop the blender and pour off half of the mixture. This is your Green Onion Sweet and Sour Dressing.
  6. Now add the ketchup to the other half, blending for another minute.
  7. Pour into jars and refrigerate. This recipe keeps very well if kept refrigerated. Makes 1 cup each version.
http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/a-tale-of-two-dressings-one-on-purpose-another-by-chance/

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May 192013
 

 

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A while ago I wrote about the evolution of cookbooks after I had attended a lecture at the Montana Historical Society in Helena.  It was made abundantly clear that we have come a long way – in that we have standardized our measurements and cooking techniques in such a manner that recipes are easy to read, easy to follow and mostly, predictable in outcome.  Gone are the days of a “teacup” of sugar, a “spoonful of lard” and the ever so descriptive “bake in a hot oven.”

However, I have a favorite recipe card handwritten by my paternal grandmother that was “old school”.  Providentially, my mother had the gift of interpretation and was able to explain the particulars of how the cake is made. It was a beloved dessert of my dad’s, so mom was well practiced in how to make it, and maybe even learned it firsthand from her mother in law.

I have the recipe on an old index card and I treasure it as one of the few belongings of hers that I have.  She was an attentive grandmother– not affectionate– but expressed her love for me by sewing superb outfits for me and my sister.  I recall one dress in particular, a brown and pink flowered corduroy dress that was a favorite of mine.  I remember  that I wore it at least once a week and I so wish that I had saved it in a hope chest (that I never had).  It was lined, soft, and surprisingly stylish considering Grandma Mary was not particularly chic in her Roundup, Montana sort of social circle.

In addition to being an excellent seamstress, she was a wonderful baker.  I wish that I had more of her recipes.  But I am thankful that I have this cake recipe, for it has special significance and favor in my family.  And when it comes to making cakes, I must confess that I am mostly guilty of laziness.  A boxed cake mix passes for me, sadly, because the frosting is what I adore.  (I never buy ready made frosting.  Seems to be inexcusable to do that.)

But, this cake holds a special place in my heart.  Boxed cake mixes seem mostly to be an act of capturing air with flour and sugar, but not this one– this cake has substance and texture.  Using sour milk (I don’t know why) and unsweetened squares of chocolate softened by hot water (this I understand why), my grandmother created this old fashioned chocolate cake for her three boys and coal miner husband.  It does not rise like a cake mix, usually has a bit of a valley in it, but possesses taste that beats the beauty of those pretty (but pretty awful) store bought cakes.  And besides, the valley only means that you wait for the serving that comes from the middle of the cake since it boasts more frosting to enjoy.

And speaking of frosting–although the cake is oh so wonderful, it is her frosting that made it so delicious!  I tried for years to recreate it, going by my mother’s verbal coaching, but never could master its silky smooth cocoa flavored sweetness.  Finally, only about 35 years after trial and error, I convinced my mom to make it and measure while doing so.  She agreed, and we got it on paper.  For which I am glad, because my girls have baked it for their families, too.

So what is the he secret to her delectable frosting?  Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup.  Most of us thin out the powdered sugar with cream or milk, but Grandma Mary used chocolate syrup.  I have never seen another recipe that does so, but now that you’ve heard it, it makes sense, yes?  It spreads so beautifully and has a gloss that I have remembered since I was a little girl.  And as I write this, I have that upset in my stomach that comes from the indulgence of scraping the bowl, licking the beater, and heck—why lie?  The spoonful of frosting that never made it to the cake.  I will never learn.

Anyway, here it is.  It is easy to make, uses common ingredients, and promises to please.  Which is why it makes the cut for:  only my best recipes.

And thank you,  Grandma Mary.  I wish you were here to enjoy it with me.  I never took the time to tell you how much I liked your cake, or how much I loved that pink and brown flowered corduroy dress that you made for me when I was in 7th grade…

My blog about your recipe is my attempt to express those unspoken thanks.

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The ingredients for the cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grandma Mary’s Chocolate Cake Recipe

1 cup of boiling water

2 1/2 squares of unsweetened chocolate

1/2 butter at room temperature

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1/2 sour milk (you can make it sour by adding 1 t. vinegar and allowing it to sit a minute)

1 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 13 x 9 inch cake pan.

Pour the hot water over the chocolate and allow to soften.  Cool.

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Place cooled water and chocolate in a mixing bowl.

Add the butter, sugar and eggs.  Beat until combined.

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Add flour. Mix at medium speed for about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl when needed.

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Pour into prepared pan.  Bake 30 – 35 minutes in the center rack of your oven.  Remove once the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan.

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Not very pretty, but don’t worry, it will frost nicely!

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Here is what my grandma meant by “pulls away from the pan.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allow to cool.

Frosting

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The ingredients for the frosting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Combine 5 T cocoa with 2 cups powdered sugar.  Add 5 T melted butter or margarine and 1/4 t. salt.  Beat until combined. (mixture will be pasty)  Add 2 T cream (you can use coffee creamer) and 1 t. vanilla.  Beat well.  Add 4 – 6 Tablespoons of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup, beating to spreading consistency.  Frost cooled cake.  (note:  this cake is better on the second day!)

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Frosting is best spread onto cake by “pushing” the frosting, not dragging…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cake is prettier with a topping of nuts!

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Grandma Mary’s Chocolate Cake- not so pretty, but oh so good.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 2 1/2 squares of unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 sour milk (you can make it sour by adding 1 t. vinegar and allowing it to sit a minute)
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 cups flour

Instructions

  1. For detailed pictured directions, go to: [
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 inch cake pan.
  3. Pour the hot water over the chocolate and allow to soften. Cool.
  4. Place cooled water and chocolate in a mixing bowl.
  5. Add the butter, sugar and eggs. Beat until combined.
  6. Add flour. Mix at medium speed for about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl when needed.
  7. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30 - 35 minutes in the center rack of your oven. Remove once the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan.
  8. Allow to cool.
  9. Frosting
  10. The ingredients for the frosting.
  11. Combine 5 T cocoa with 2 cups powdered sugar. Add 5 T melted butter or margarine and 1/4 t. salt. Beat until combined. (mixture will be pasty) Add 2 T cream (you can use coffee creamer) and 1 t. vanilla. Beat well. Add 4 - 6 Tablespoons of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup, beating to spreading consistency. Frost cooled cake. (note: this cake is better on the second day!)
  12. Frosting is best spread onto cake by "pushing" the frosting, not dragging... Cake is prettier with a topping of nuts!
http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/grandma-marys-chocolate-cake-not-so-pretty-but-oh-so-good/

 

 Posted by at 8:04 pm
May 142013
 

Years ago I fell in love with Applebees’ Oriental Chicken Salad.  I don’t know if it was the crispy Napa cabbage or the unusual dijon mustardy dressing.  Or a combination of both.  But whatever, I could not get enough of it!  So imagine the thrill when I discovered a version of it on the internet.  So, made it, I did.  Again and again.  I even wrapped it in flour wraps and pretended that is was a sandwich.

I could make it weekly, except that David objects and rejects my notion that it is good enough to eat that often.  My solution?  I make it up, divy it into four servings and take it to work with me.  Sure, it looks like I am being a bit repetitious, but who cares?   I get my indulgence and David gets to escape my passion for this salad. (We all have our secret life.)

Here is what you will need.  And oops, I forgot to buy the purple cabbage to add to it.   And since it is several miles to the grocery store,  I am going to ask you to imagine that it is there.  It mostly adds color (don’t get me wrong, color is important) but it is perfectly fine without it.  Just add about 1 cup of shredded purple cabbage and it will be a pretty addition.  And if you have never tried Napa cabbage– this is your chance to fall in love again. the crispy mild flavor is  addictive.  And, like other cabbage, it keeps in the fridge for a long time.  Always a plus for those of us who live a ways from the grocery store.

Oriental Chicken Salad

 

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Dressing:

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3-4 T. honey

1 1/2 T.  rice wine vinegar (or white vinegar if you don’t have rice on hand)

1/4 cup mayo

1 t. dijon mustard

several dashes of sesame oil– do not omit this!  It is very important for the specific taste of this dressing.

Add all of the above and stir well.

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Note:  I like to triple or even quadruple this recipe and use it for a regular dressing also.  David does approve of this indulgence.

Salad greens:

1 cup chopped purple cabbage

1 cup chopped Napa cabbage

1 bunch of romaine lettuce, chopped

1 carrot, shredded

1 green onion, sliced thinly

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toppings:

1/3 c. sliced almonds

1/3 c. chow mein noodles

2-3 prepared breaded chicken breasts, cooked and cooled.

Place the chicken breasts into the oven and cook as directed.

Mix up the ingredients for the dressing.  Chill while preparing the other ingredients.

Combine the salad ingredients.

To serve, slice the chicken breast into bite sized pieces and toss with the lettuce salad and toppings.  Top with the salad dressing.  Serve immediately.  Also works well by doubling the chicken amounts and served inside a rolled flour wrap.

 

 

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Makes 1 large dinner salad, or 4 side salads.

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Oriental Chicken Salad

Oriental Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • Dressing:
  • 3-4 T. honey
  • 1 1/2 T. rice wine vinegar (or white vinegar if you don't have rice on hand)
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 t. dijon mustard
  • several dashes of sesame oil-- do not omit this! It is very important for the specific taste of this dressing.
  • Salad greens:
  • 1 cup chopped purple cabbage
  • 1 cup chopped Napa cabbage
  • 1 bunch of romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 green onion, sliced thinly
  • toppings:
  • 1/3 c. sliced almonds
  • 1/3 c. chow mein noodles
  • 2-3 prepared breaded chicken breasts, cooked and cooled.

Instructions

  1. For detailed and pictures directions, go to: [http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/oriental-chicken-salad-crispy-crunchy-and-addictive]
  2. Measure the honey, vinegar, mayo, mustard and sesame oil and stir well.
  3. Place the chicken breasts into the oven and cook as directed.
  4. Mix up the ingredients for the dressing. Chill while preparing the other ingredients.
  5. Combine the salad ingredients.
  6. To serve, slice the chicken breast into bite sized pieces and toss with the lettuce salad and toppings. Top with the salad dressing. Serve immediately. Also works well by doubling the chicken amounts and served inside a rolled flour wrap.
  7. Makes 1 large dinner salad, or 4 side salads.
http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/oriental-chicken-salad-crispy-crunchy-and-addictive/

Apr 272013
 

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This interesting recipe comes from several sources.  I first saw it in Costco’s magazine.  I didn’t try it because quite honestly, the combination of ingredients seemed too strange.  Really?  Watermelon and jalapeños?  Too weird.

But then my friend, Nina, made it and brought it to work.  I was smitten!   I bought the ingredients that week and made it for my family, who proceeded to devour a whole bowl of it in lightning speed.

So, although it is not the kind of ingredients that you can keep on hand so that you can just throw it together, it is worth a special trip to the grocery store to make it.   And it is super simple, whether you use a chopper, as I have, or simply chop with your trusty knife.  Whatever way you go with it, it is fast and easy—and usually disappears about as quickly as it takes to make it.

I have seen several variations of it online, so you can make it however you think you would desire.   I made it this time with the amounts as listed.  Feel free to double up on jalapeños or cut way back, depending on your bravery for hot peppers.

I especially LOVE it on fish tacos.  On chips, on broiled chicken breasts.  I am hopeless in its presence.  Sometimes I just grab a spoon and eat a bowl of it.  Which is perfectly alright for you too!

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3 green onions, sliced thinly

1 green pepper, chopped

¼ cup jalapeños (I used the “sliced in the jar” variation, but you can use fresh)

About 3 cups of seedless watermelon, chopped into small cubes

¼ lime, squeezed

Cilantro, as desired (or not, if you don’t love it)

Dash of garlic salt—more or less as desired

Thinly slice the green onions.

Chop the watermelon, jalepenos and green pepper.

Squeeze one quarter of a fresh lime.

Chop a few sprigs of fresh cilantro– or not, if you don’t like it.

Sprinkle with about 1/4 t. of garlic salt, more or less to taste.

Mix all the ingredients and chill.  Or, can be served immediately.  It is better if given time to meld the flavors and chill, but you may not be able to wait.  I can’t.

Serve as salsa or as an appetizer.  Makes about four cups.

Watermelon Salsa (AKA Fire and Ice)

Watermelon Salsa (AKA Fire and Ice)

Ingredients

  • 3 green onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • ¼ cup jalapeños (I used the “sliced in the jar” variation, but you can use fresh)
  • About 3 cups of seedless watermelon, chopped into small cubes
  • ¼ lime, squeezed
  • Cilantro, as desired (or not, if you don’t love it)
  • Dash of garlic salt—more or less as desired

Instructions

  1. For detailed pictured directions, go to: [http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/watermelon-salsa-aka-fire-and-ice/]
  2. Thinly slice the green onions.
  3. Chop the watermelon, jalepenos and green pepper.
  4. Squeeze one quarter of a fresh lime.
  5. Chop a few sprigs of fresh cilantro-- or not, if you don't like it.
  6. Sprinkle with about 1/4 t. of garlic salt, more or less to taste.
  7. Mix all the ingredients and chill. Or, can be served immediately. It is better if given time to meld the flavors and chill, but you may not be able to wait. I can’t.
  8. Serve as salsa or as an appetizer. Makes about four cups.
http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/watermelon-salsa-aka-fire-and-ice/

 Posted by at 9:25 pm
Apr 222013
 

I suppose that many families have traditional recipes that have been passed down the generations.  My Mom’s family has this breakfast recipe that I grew up with and loved—for as long as I can remember.  I have never heard of anyone else making it, but if you recognize this concoction, please comment so we can find out if we are related.

Mom tells me that her Aunt Agnes made it.  And Aunt Agnes—well, Aunt Agnes has been gone a long time.  So the origins of this rich breakfast creation continue to be a mystery.

It is pronounced GON cheese.  I even had to invent the spelling because I have never seen anyone spell it.  I added the “i” so it looked foreign because my Slavic relatives invented it– at least I think they did.  And surprise!  My spell check had no suggestions (Mild disappointment to me.)

I best describe it as scrambled pancake batter, but it is richer than pancakes.  More eggs, more fat.  I often wonder if it was invented from a failed pancake batch and an abundance of eggs from the family chicken house.

I remember watching my Mom eat it by taking a spoonful and drenching it in her coffee cup until the clumps of cooked batter soaked up some of the black coffee.   That always looked good to me, except that I did not like coffee and to this day, still do not like it.  But you can try it—if you like coffee with a sweet pastry, you likely will find this a tasty practice.

My favorite way to eat it is with maple syrup and a dusting of regular sugar, mostly to add a little texture. (Okay,  why lie?  I love sweets)   And as you can tell from the pictures, it is not particularly pretty.  I suspect that my Aunt Agnes did not care much whether it was suitable for photographing.  They were mostly concerned with keeping their family fed during The Great Depression.

I make it now for my grandkids, who enjoy it—with lots of syrup, as most kids would. My son even made it when he was away at college.  And now my two daughters make it for their families.

A new twist—my oldest daughter, Paige, made it using coconut oil in the pan.  It gives it a slightly  coconutty flavor to the dish—one that makes me forget that I am counting calories.  Epic fail.   And if you too are counting calories, don’t make this unless you have plenty of mouths to feed.  Otherwise, it will call your name from the leftover section of your fridge.  Because this is one breakfast dish that reheats perfectly.

So consider yourself warned.  Hopefully, your kids and grandkids will save you from yourself!

(Oh, and this recipe is easily halved, if you wish.)

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Simple, common ingredients

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gonchiese

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 t. salt

1 t. baking powder

6 eggs

2 cups milk

5 T. shortening (Butter Flavor Crisco or coconut oil)

Heat a large electric frypan to 400 degrees.  Add solid shortening  or coconut oil.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

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Combine milk and eggs and beat until well combined.

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Stir liquid ingredients into the dry, beating with an egg beater or electric mixer.  Mix until all lumps are gone.100_1894

 

 

 

 

 

Once the frypan is heated, carefully pour batter into the center of the pan.

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Allow the mixture to cook until the bottom is browned.

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Gently lift the batter to allow the uncooked batter to slide to the underside.  Flip the cooked side.

Allow the batter to brown one more time.   Next, using the spatula or spoon, “scramble” the batter to form chunks, stirring as you break it up.

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See– I told you it isn’t pretty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turn the pan down to 300 degrees.  Cover and allow to cook until none of the batter remains and all the clumps are cooked through.  Allow to cook for another few minutes.

Turn pan down to warm.

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Serve in bowls with syrup, a dusting of sugar, or, dipped into your morning coffee, as shown.

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Refrigerate leftovers.  Can be reheated in the microwave.

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Share with the grand littles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here is the Ziplist version for you:

 

Gonchiese—a family mystery food.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 5 T. shortening (Butter Flavor Crisco or coconut oil)

Instructions

  1. For detailed and pictured directions, go to: {http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/gonchiese-our-mystery-family-breakfast-recipe/}
  2. Heat a large electric frypan to 400 degrees. Add solid shortening or coconut oil.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Combine milk and eggs and beat until well combined.
  5. Stir liquid ingredients into the dry, beating with an egg beater or electric mixer. Mix until all lumps are gone.
  6. Once the frypan is heated, carefully pour batter into the center of the pan.
  7. Allow the mixture to cook until the bottom is browned, as shown.
  8. Gently lift the batter to allow the uncooked batter to slide to the underside. Flip the cooked side.
  9. Allow the batter to brown one more time. Next, using the spatula or spoon, "scramble" the batter to form chunks, stirring as you break it up.
  10. Turn the pan down to 300 degrees. Cover and allow to cook until none of the batter remains and all the clumps are cooked through. Allow to cook for another few minutes.
  11. Turn pan down to warm.
  12. Serve in bowls with syrup, a dusting of sugar, or, dipped into your morning coffee, as shown.
  13. Refrigerate leftovers. Can be reheated in the microwave.
http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/gonchiese-our-mystery-family-breakfast-recipe/

 

 

 Posted by at 10:35 pm
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