Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cabbage and Noodles

If you buy heads of cabbage, you know how much cabbage you have to use up with a single medium-sized head. I made some colcannon. That used about 2 cups of sliced cabbage. I still had 3/4 of the head left. I made this cabbage and noodles dish to use up the rest, which I would say equals one small head of cabbage.  I loved it; my family loved it. And it was simple and really good. I served this with a smoky landjaeger sausage and some steamed green beans. It made for a great meal. I like to think it is something my great-grandparents would have eaten at their farmhouse table.

12 oz. bag Amish Kitchens Kluski Egg noodles, or homemade noodles if you make your own.
1 small head of cabbage sliced
4 slices of bacon, chopped, browned and drained
1 small onion, chopped
2 T. butter
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the noodles according to directions, drain, stir in 1 T. butter. Cover and set aside. Saute onion in 1 T. of butter. Add sliced cabbage and cook until soft. Add bacon, cabbage and onion to the noodles, stir and season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Irish Soda Bread

When I shared the Lamb Stew and Colcannon recipe, I promised I would post my Irish Soda bread recipe. It's not my recipe. I had never made a successful Irish Soda bread loaf before. So for this to turn out means it is a really simple recipe. This was easy to prep and easy to make and goes great with any soup or stew, but especially an Irish meal. I had never made it before and I found a recipe that immediately appealed to me when I saw the title: Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread. Winner! My change, I didn't use margarine in the dough. But I give credit to the Allrecipes member "MP Welty" who shared this great recipe.

Best eaten warm. I thought it was a little hearty the day after, but that's just a personal issue. My daughter asked, why does this taste familiar? Well, it's all the same basic ingredients as Buttermilk Biscuits which she has eaten many times before.. Buttermilk biscuits, homemade, I have a great recipe I'll share on the blog soon. 

Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons white sugar (I use Sugar in the Raw)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened (I used butter)
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine. Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet. (I made sort of a flattened round so it would bake evenly through the middle.)

In a small bowl, combine the melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk. Brush loaf with this mixture. Use a sharp knife to score a generous 'X' into the top of the loaf.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. You may brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes.

Original recipe from is here: Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tator Tot Hotdish Dairy-free, Soup-free

If you look up Tator Tots on Wikipedia, you get the whole history of the little potato treats, plus this tidbit of local interest: "In the Midwest states, Tater Tot Hotdish is a very popular soup-based casserole consisting of tater tots, ground beef, and various vegetables." I never much cared for the creamy-style of Tator Tot Hotdish. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the good flavors get buried in soup. My husband is lactose-intolerant and LOVES Tator Tot Hotdish so I came up with a recipe that works for us and leaves all the flavors out in the open. I can't even remember what it tastes like with cream of something soup.

Tator Tot Hotdish Dairy-Free

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 small onion, chopped
3 cups chicken broth, heated to boil
3 T cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1 T parsley
pepper to taste
1 bag frozen peas
1 bag frozen corn
1 bag Ore-Ida Tator Tots®

Preheat oven to 350°. Brown the ground beef and onions. Layer the ground beef on the bottom of the 9x13 glass baking dish. Cover with a layer of corn and a layer of peas. While the broth is boiling, combine the cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Stir into the boiling broth and continue to boil until thickened. Add parsley. Season with pepper. Pour this 'gravy' over the vegetables in your baking dish. Cover with a hearty layer of Tator Tots. Bake 40-45 minutes. Allow to set for 10-15 minutes, if your mob can stand it. Serve with ketchup.

Tator Tots is a registered trademark of Ore-Ida.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Marcy's Sloppy Joes

The Sloppy Joe is known by many names depending on where you live. BBQs, loose meat sammich, you get the idea. I can imagine some guy named Joe fixing some some beef for a sandwich and just winging it. The end result: Sloppy Joe. The recipes are endless. This is mine. It is simple. No onions or green peppers, no salsa or chili sauce. Just simple so everyone will enjoy the flavor and you can adjust the sugar and vinegar according to your personal preference for sweet or tangy. And this is so easy you can say goodbye to Manwich forever.

A side note. I am very fortunate to have access to great ground beef. I don't buy it in the store. Ever. I get a split quarter once a year from a little butcher shop in an unincorporated village: Bergen, Minnesota. It has a butcher and a bar. That's it. Every beef order I get, I write check directly to the farmer. I know who he is and I could visit the farm if I wanted. Isn't that how you'd like to buy all your food, especially meat? Anyway, I love this beef and it is lean and great tasting. I hope you have great beef available to you; it makes all the difference.

Marcy's Sloppy Joes
1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
1/2 cup ketchup
2 T. dark brown sugar (+/– to taste)
1 T. apple cider vinegar (+/– to taste)
1 tsp. dry ground mustard (not prepared yellow mustard)
1 tsp. paprika
Salt and pepper to taste, just a shake

Brown the beef, drain, add the rest of the ingredients to the pan. Stir. And heat to bubbling. Remove from heat. Warm your buns (tee-hee). And serve immediately with some bread and butter pickles.*

*(I'll be sharing my Bread & Butter pickle recipe soon!)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Homemade Thousand Island

When I posted the homemade corned beef for Reubens, I also mentioned that I made my own Thousand Island dressing. You'll recognize this dressing recipe. It's the same one I posted in the Famous Ray's Salad post. Same dressing, with additions! Easy right. So if you make this big batch of Ray's Salad Dressing you can do other things with it. Add hot sauce and a little mayo to yield a Lamplighter style sauce to use as dip for french fries (I'm not a big ketchup fan so this is a big one for me!) The modifications for Thousand Island dressing follow here:

Base Dressing
Add to a blender:
1 can Campbell's Tomato soup
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 c. real mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip®)
2/3 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. white vinegar
1 tsp. dry ground mustard
juice of one lemon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp. paprika (I usually add 2 tsp. I like the warm taste of paprika)

 For Thousand Island:
Take a cup of the base dressing, add:
1 tsp worchestershire sauce
1/4 cup chopped baby dill pickles (or pickle relish if you are in a rush.)
Stir. That's it. If you like thinner dressing, add a little milk. But on a Reuben you need it to be a little thicker. Easy!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Coffee-Braised Lamb Stew with Colcannon

Let me tell you the story of how this recipe came to be. I was thinking early in the morning of Sunday, March 17: why hadn't I planned a fun St. Patrick's Day dinner? You know some corned beef and cabbage or Irish stew and soda bread. Well, I didnt' have a corned beef lying around, but I did have some lamb. So I started Googling Lamb Stew. I didn't find one that I liked. I did find something on AllRecipes for a Beer Braised Beef Stew with Colcannon which served as the inspiration for this dish. It had good ratings but I had to make some minor modifications. I didn't have dark beer for the braising. What to do? What is dark beer essentially? It adds richness, a caramel-flavor and slightly acidic liquid. So I thought let's try coffee. My husband had just made a pot of strong coffee in the French press so I used the cup that was left and it was FULL of the micro-grounds. Perfect! The flavor was just right and made for a delightfully flavored stew that tenderized the lamb perfectly. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. We were pleasantly surprised. 

Coffee-Braised Lamb Stew with Colcannon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 pounds of lamb, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 cup coarsely chopped carrot
8 ounces of strong coffee, plus 1/2 cup water and 1 cube beef boullion
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

3 slices bacon
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
1/4 cup milk, warmed (I used the buttermilk mixture I used to baste the soda bread)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (dried parsley is just fine too)
Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot, and brown the meat in 2 batches, stirring to brown the cubes on all sides. Return all the meat to the Dutch oven, sprinkle with flour, and stir lightly to coat the meat with flour. Stir in onion, carrots, coffee mixture, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, and cover. I cooked on medium heat for about 30 minutes then simmered on low for about 90 minutes. Check often to stir and add more liquid if needed. 

Chop up the bacon and brown in a saute pan. (I had some nice lean bacon from Schmidt's Meat Market in Nicollet MN so it didn't need draining, yours might.) I added a couple tablespoons of water and placed the cabbage on top of the bacon, turned the heat to simmer and covered the pot. This is how I wilted the cabbage and it imparted a nice bacon flavor to it. Cook until the cabbage is soft and set aside. 
About 45 minutes before the stew is done, start the potatoes. Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for a minute or two. Place the potatoes into a large bowl, and add milk, butter, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Beat the potatoes with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, or use an old-fashioned potato masher, that's what I do. Stir in the cabbage, crumbled bacon, and parsley until well combined.
To serve, place a scoop of colcannon onto a plate, make a hollow, and fill with braised lamb stew. Serve with simple Irish soda bread.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Special K Bars...Marcy Style!

You know Special K bars. Great right? I love Special K Bars. I mean I really love Special K Bars. I love peanut butter but I also love butterscotch. That got me thinking once when I was out of regular semi-sweet chocolate chips. So tweaked the old standby just a bit to send these bars out of the park. Try it and tell me they are not awesome. My nephew suggested adding some whey protein to the frosting part to kick up your protein even more. What an awesome idea! I will be trying that next time I make these. Not that they need improvement, do they? 

1 cup white sugar
1 cup white corn syrup
1 cup + 2tbsp Skippy creamy peanut butter with honey (or PB with white chocolate is good too)
6 cups Special K cereal
1 bag Nestle Toll House butterscotch chips
1 pouch Nestle choco-bake pre-melted unsweetened cocoa
2 Tbsp peanut butter

Bring sugars to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter until smooth. Stir in cereal. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. melt chips and stir in cocoa and PB spread on top of cereal. Cool, if you can bear to wait, and eat in moderation.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Famous Ray's Salad

Ray's Salad. The Famous Ray's Salad. This. is. it.
I'm probably going to be facing some trademark, copyright, or intellectual property litigation by sharing this, but it's too good not to share. I'm only partially joking about that. I've seen this recipe published in a good share of local church cookbooks over the years so it's officially already 'out there.' Both the Ray's Salad and the Rib Sauce are legendary at the Kaiserhoff in New Ulm, Minnesota. Both were eventually shared by kitchen staff. Ultimately they made it out to the public. 

If you've been fortunate enough to stumble upon this little gem of a town, you know the Kaiserhoff—famous for its ribs, the rib sauce, and the Ray's Salad. 

If you grew up anywhere near New Ulm... you know how top-secret these recipes have been. As a kid I always enjoyed the Ray's Salad with my favorite menu item: the Louie Benson Special, Kaiserhoff ribs with a grilled cheese sandwich. So perfect, I'm in a little bit of heaven just thinking about it now.

The salad is incredible and I'm sharing it with you. It's a perfect match with barbequed and grilled meats. Blue cheese, bacon, and a secret homemade dressing. Perfect. I hope you enjoy it with your next t-bone or rack of ribs. Coming soon is the equally famous Kaiserhoff rib sauce. I must add a caveat, while Ray's Salad is great to have at home, nothing beats the real thing. I encourage you to stop at the Kaiserhoff next time you're in New Ulm. Order a Ray's Salad and the Louie Benson Special. Call me and tell me how you felt afterwards. I'll be jealous. You'll be in heaven.

Ray's Salad
This must be made a day ahead. So be sure to plan!
Add to a blender:
1 can Campbell's Tomato soup 
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 c. real mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip®)
2/3 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. white vinegar
1 tsp. dry ground mustard
juice of one lemon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp. paprika (I usually add 2 tsp. I like the warm taste of paprika)

Mix in blender. 

Add 1 small grated onion and 1 green pepper chopped small. Mix into dressing. This is optional in my opinion. I'm not keen on lots of raw onion and green pepper. but the original recipe calls for it so I'll leave it up to your own taste.

Refrigerate dressing 24 hours. 

Salad assembly
Shredded lettuce (this is best, trust me)
Small seasoned croutons (not caesar, garlic or other flavor)
Bacon browned and chopped (I use the Real Bacon Pieces in the salad aisle. The pieces are small and it's convenient. No bacon is healthy for you, so who are we kidding if we use some already prepped.)
Crumbled blue cheese

Now this is the art and you do the assembly RIGHT BEFORE serving. If you use one grocery store sized bag of shredded lettuce you might try half the package of croutons, half the package of bacon and half the package blue cheese. You have to eyeball it. Add to a large bowl. Pour about 3/4 c. of dressing on top and toss to coat everything. This serves two meal-sized servings or four side salad servings. You'll have a lot of extra dressing so plan on eating this salad a few times to get it right.