Guacamole

So, Mike and I went on a bike ride with the girls to Food Net this past weekend and as a bonus we got to bring home some almost-too-ripe food.

When I got home and surveyed our treasures, I noticed that we had 2 avocados, a tomato, some jalapeƱos and a lime. Yay! Guacamole! Ole!

Guacamole

  • 2 very ripe avocados
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • Juice of half of a lime
  • 1/2 jalapeƱo pepper, seeded and diced, more or less to taste
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine
  • 1/4 t cumin
  • 1/8 t pepper
  • 1/8 t salt

Peel and remove seed of avocado and put in a medium size bowl. Throw in other ingredients and mash with a fork. Eat with tortilla chips.

No pictures this time…we ate it too fast!

Sweet Meatloaf

It’s another recipe post! It’s been a long while, well, a week anyway…so I thought I’d share what’s cookin’ in the Wittmann kitchen.

Sweet Meatloaf

    Meat Mixture:

  • 2 lbs. hamburger
  • 1/4 c onion flakes
  • 3/4 c ketchup
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 2 slices bread, crumbled
  • 12 saltine crackers, crumbled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T A-1 sauce, any variety (or Country Bob’s, etc.)
  • Sauce Mixture:

  • 1 c ketchup
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 t prepared mustard
  • 1 t A-1

Mix meat mixture together (I use a hand mixer) and shape into 2 loaves. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Mix sauce mixture together and coat meat loaf after 30 minutes. Use remainder to coat individual servings.

Put on some good music.

Gather your ingredients. I have bread crumbs pictures, but I ended up using a couple left over hamburger buns. You will also notice that I have 2 pounds of ground beef and 1 pound of ground turkey. Thought I’d shake things up. Plus, we love us some meatloaf, so I made a “1 1/2″ batch.

I dump all of the meat mixture ingredients into my Bosch and let ‘er rip. While measuring the brown sugar, you will get the brown sugar on your hands as you pack in into the measuring cup. I like to take this opportunity to give myself a mini-manicure. I put the tiniest drop of soap and a very minimal amount of water on my hands and scrub until I can’t feel the exfoliating properties of the brown sugar working anymore, then I rinse my hands off. Instant manicure!

Form the mixture into two loaves on a cookie cooling rack that is sprayed with Pam. I put the cooling rack on a cookie sheet lined with tin foil. It makes clean up a breeze – well, at least breezier than it would be otherwise!

After the meatloaves have been cooking for about 30 minutes, take it out and add about 2/3 of the sauce mixture. Stick it back into the oven for another 30 minutes. Watch it carefully toward the end – with all the sugar in the sauce, it can burn if you’re not careful.

I’m serving the meatloaf this evening with mashed potatoes (see recipe below) and some of Nebraska’s finest sweet corn. Enjoy!

Mashed Potatoes

  • 10 potatoes, 5 peeled, 5 unpeeled
  • 1 8 oz block cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1/2 c heavy whipping cream, or milk if you have to
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Chop (and peel half) potatoes and place in salted, boiling water for 10 minutes or so. Drain in strainer. While draining, put remaining ingredients, except cream, in pot. Put potatoes on top and cover for 5 minutes (or longer). When almost ready to serve, use hand mixer to whip potatoes until smooth. Add heavy whipping cream and beat for 2-4 minutes, until fluffy. My favorite quote for this recipe is from Paula Deen, “I’m your cook , I ain’t your doctor!”

Potato Salad

I had a hard time finding a potato salad that I had all the ingredients for, so I just made my own up. Here goes:

Potato Salad

  • 2 pounds potatoes (4-5 medium) scrubbed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, chopped fine
  • 1/4 c sour cream
  • 3/4 c mayonnaise
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/8 t pepper
  • 1 t curry powder
  • 1 T vinegar
  • 2 T dill pickles, chopped fine (I used dill pickle relish)
  • 3 strips of bacon, cooked crispy then broken into bits

Place potatoes in medium saucepan and cover with water. Boil for 10 minutes, set aside to cool. I just set mine on the stove for a good 2 hours, then I came back to it when I had time. Stir together with all other ingredients and chill until ready to serve.

Party Planning

If for some reason I wasn’t a wife or mother I would have a career as a party planner. There is almost nothing in the entire world that gives me as much pleasure as planning a party. I don’t care if it’s friends coming over for wine and cobbler (wink, wink) or a sit down dinner with umpteen courses. I love the planning of it.

This weekend is the last weekend for two of the families involved in our Community Dinner group before they move. I am planning a BBQ. Now, I know that there is probably nothing less fancy than a BBQ…but then again. If you think that I’m going to have even a BBQ and not let it be fancy, then you might not even know me. I live for FANCY.

I also get excited about lists. And my list for this weekend has 4 pages front and back on a legal pad of sketches and articles clipped out of magazines and “Honey-Do” lists. I’ve got a great honey. This morning I made a sketch of our backyard so I would know where I’m going to put tables and lighting and chairs and candles and food. I drew a sketch of the serving table and how I’m going to arrange things. I made a mad list of everything I want done, from hanging Christmas lights to trimming bushes to throwing all the baby bikes and such into the garage.

I found these great decorations at Target when I went last night. They’re from Isabelle de Borchgrave’s Botanical collection.

That’s the table cloth. I also got a runner and some gift bags for a treat at the end of the evening and napkins. The best part? It was 75% off. Yay! I thought that getting the plates would be overkill on that pattern, so I got off white plates.

I found this board, for lack of a better term, in the top of our garage and it’s this primitive, distressed looking green-painted long board. I’m planning on serving off of it. On the one hand, it needs legs and sawhorses would do the trick, but I don’t really want saw horses at my party. On the other hand, if it’s either saw horses or not having a table, I’ll go with the sawhorses. I suppose that the table cloth would cover it.

I’m making Margaritas from scratch and serving them in a great sun tea jar with a spout on the end. I was going to get Cointreau, but it’s $40 a bottle. Yikes! I’ll stick with Triple Sec and hope for the best. I did get a nicer Tequila. Hopefully it will make up for the Triple Sec. I’ll have salt for the rims, and I personally can’t wait to try one.

Margaritas

  • 1 1/2 ounces tequila blanco, 100% agave
  • 1 ounce freshly sqeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce Triple Sec/Cointreau

1. Combine tequila, lime juice, and Triple Sec, and stir together.
2. Rim a rocks glass with salt (optional) by pressing the glass into a wet paper towel, then dipping it into a plate of salt.
3. Serve on the rocks.

Various Cooking Adventures

First, I got a cucumber from our garden this morning. It tasted gross, for the record, so I put it in some vinegar with salt and pepper. Maybe Mike will like them. Maybe they’ll get better as the summer progresses.


El Pepino Solitario

Second, I made pizza last night. I’ve been making my own dough for a while now, but I was reading over at Lindsey’s blog how to perfect the pizza dough and she had some excellent tips. So keeping in line with cleaning out the freezer and pantries, we had hamburger and mushroom pizza. I had a jar of Wal-Mart pizza sauce that I had bought a while back for about $1 or less, we always get our cheese from Sam’s and I break it up into 2 cup baggies and freeze them, I always have flour and yeast and such, so I thought, PIZZA!

Long story short, the pizza was probably the best I’ve ever eaten, and that’s saying something. I love me some pizza. The trick was letting my yeast and water sit for a few minutes and the cornmeal.

CORNMEAL, PEOPLE!! ON THE BOTTOM! ON MY PAN! ON THE CRUST!

Oh. My. Goodness. I will be making pizza again very soon, with pictures! And directions! Yea! Yahoo for pizza!

I might like pizza.

And lastly, we’ve got some friends involved in City on a Hill this week. I’m making a dessert for their dinner tonight, so I thought I’d use it as blog fodder.

Behold, the dessert:

Fruit Cobbler

  • 5 c fruit, large fruit sliced
  • 2 c flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 7 T butter, cut up
  • 3/4 c heavy cream
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 2 T honey

Butter bottom of a 9 x 13 dish and fill with the 5 cups of fruit of your choice. Stir together flour, sugar salt, and baking powder. Add the 7 T butter, mix (using hand mixer) until it resembles coarse meal. Add the cream all at once, stirring it with a spoon to form a dough. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead for 15 to 20 seconds. Pick up pieces of the dough about the size of olives and sprinkle them over the fruit. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the 1/2 c butter and combine with brown sugar and honey. Pour the melted mixture over the cobbler after it has baked for 30 minutes. Increase heat to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until a delicious caramel crust has formed.

You should click on the video links below. They are worth it.

This is what you’ll need:

It’s helpful to have your butter cut up before you start, to keep things moving. The more you have prepared before you start (i.e. cutting butter, measuring out dry ingredients, etc.) the quicker and more efficient things run.

Berries on the bottom. I personally used 3 cups of Sam’s triple berry frozen blend and 2 cups of fresh strawberries. There weren’t any complaints at dinner!

Here’s how to put on the cobbler topping:

Cobbler Topping

This is what it should look like right before you put it in the oven:

The delicious, bubbling cobbler:

Bubbling Cobbler

In hindsight, I should have turned off the Cars soundtrack.

Enjoy!

Tuna Casserole

Look, this isn’t going to win any prizes for being a culinary masterpiece, but it tastes good. So there.

Tuna Casserole

  • 2 cans tuna, drained
  • 1 box shells and cheese, prepared
  • 16 oz. frozen peas (although tonight I’m using mixed vegetables for the sake of not taking the kids to the store when it’s 95 degrees)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 c. cheddar cheese

Mix ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Easy as pie, or casserole as the case may be.

This is one of the recipes I submitted for Zion’s new cookbook. You can find more tasty recipes in the church’s cookbook, coming sometime at the end of the summer. Let me know if you need a copy.

Mexican Lasagna

On for tonight, Mexican Lasagna. I’ve been going through our pantry and freezer to see what’s lurking in there. Voila! Mexican Lasagna!

First, gather your ingredients:

    Mexican Lasagna

    • 1 lb. lasagna noodles (you’ll only need 1/2 of this box)
    • 2 lbs. ground beef (not pictured because, ew, gross! Who wants to see bloody defrosting meat?!)
    • Onion
    • 15-ish ounce can black beans, aka FRIJOLES NEGROS
    • 4 1/2 cups salsa – use mild, because cooking the salsa somehow makes it hotter
    • 8 oz. block cream cheese (because I like to make LOW FAT meals. Ha!)
    • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
    • Salt
    • 1/4 t cumin

    Bring water to a boil for noodles and cook for 6 or 7 minutes, drain. Meanwhile, brown beef and onion, drain, return to skillet. Add cream cheese and mix until cream cheese is melted into the meat. Add cumin, more or less to taste. Drain black beans. Layer noodles, meat mixture, beans, 1/3 cheese and 1/3 salsa. Repeat twice. Bake for 30 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes for juices to absorb.

    Bring a good amount of salted water to a boil in your large stock pot. While your water is heating up, put your beef and your shopped onion in a skillet and brown. If your meat has been in the freezer for an unknown amount of time, you might want to get it extra brown. Yikes. Boil your lasagna noodles for 6 or 7 minutes. Too much longer and they will be hard to handle for layering purposes.

    Get some good help, if you can find it!


    Drain meat and onions, return to skillet. Add cream cheese and mix until cream cheese is melted into the meat. Add cumin, more or less to taste. It should look like this:

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Add about 1/8 c oil to noodles, which prevents noodles from sticking together, then stir, drain and rinse. Set aside to cool.

    Drain black beans.

    Layer three-ish noodles, 1/3 of meat,

    1/3 of beans, 1/2 c cheese,

    and 1 1/2 cups of salsa.

    Repeat twice, throwing the rest of the cheddar cheese on, because at this point, will an extra cup of cheese really make that much of a difference?

    Bake for about 30 minutes in the preheated 350 degree oven. Do your (gulp) dishes from cooking. Have your kids clean off the table and freshen up for your husband’s arrival!

    Let lasagna sit for about 10 minutes to let the liquid absorb.

    DISCLAIMER: Do as I say, not as I do.

What’s Cookin’, Good Lookin’?

I just adore cooking*. I seriously cook three meals a day. Currently I am in a recipe rut. When I’m in a recipe rut I read my cookbooks – from start to finish. I grab a cup of coffee or some sweet tea (yum) and head outside with a pen, a notebook, my cookbooks and my babies.

I’ve found several recently that are easy to make, but taste great. My favorite Italian meal, whether home or out, is Cannelloni, which is exceptionally difficult to make. It is labor-intensive and time-consuming. I found a recipe called “Inside Out Ravioli”. It tastes like Cannelloni without all the fuss.

Feel free to make it. You won’t be disappointed!


Inside Out Ravioli

  • 1 (10 oz) package frozen, chopped spinach
  • 1 T cooking oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (1 lb.) jar spaghetti sauce with mushrooms
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1/8 t pepper
  • 2 c macaroni, cooked
  • 1 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 c bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, well beaten

Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain, reserving liquid. Add water to spinach liquid to make 1 cup. Set aside. Saute beef, onion and garlic in cooking oil. When brown, add spinach liquid, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce and salt pepper. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine spinach, macaroni, cheddar cheese, bread crumbs and eggs. Pour mixture into a greased 9 x 13 inch dish. Top with meat sauce. Drizzle with Besciamella Sauce (below). Bake for 30 minutes.

    Besciamella Sauce

  • 6 T butter
  • 6 T flour
  • 1 pint half and half
  • Salt and pepper

Melt butter over low heat in a heavy saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in flour. Add half and half and bring to simmering over medium heat. Once thickened, add salt and pepper to taste.

You can thank me later.

*I hate doing dishes. And I don’t have a dishwasher.