Hands down, one of the comfiest comfort foods around. Creamy, cheesy, packed with veggies, and warm pasta. It’s perfect for a cold winter night or a quick prep before a summer baseball game. It’s also excellent (Jay argues better) frozen and reheated. So make lots and freeze some for later!
From our table to yours, Chicken Spaghetti!!
16 oz thin spaghetti
8 cups water
2 Tbs. chicken paste
1/2 onion, chopped finely
1 stalk celery, chopped finely
8 oz sliced mushrooms, rough chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped finely
3 T. butter
1 jar pimentos
2 cans cream of mushroon soup
1 can rotel
2 c. + 1 c. sharp cheddar
2 c. monterrey Jack
1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled off the bone and rough chopped
1. In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water and 2 Tbs. of chicken paste to a boil. Cook your spaghetti al dente according to package directions. Drain pasta and return to pot.
2. In a large skillet, melt your 3 T. of butter. Saute onion, celery, mushrooms and green pepper until tender.
3. Add sauteed veggies, and the remaining ingredients to your cooked pasta and mix until creamy.
4. You can serve it straight from here or spoon into a casserole dish. Top with additional 1 c. of cheddar and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until cheese is bubby.
5. Can be frozen up to 6 months. To reheat, thaw in fridge for 24 hours, then bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes until reheated and cheese is bubbly.
My first three stops when I cross the Texas state line are Whataburger for a number 1- add jalapenos, Bucees for all things Texas, and HEB for veggie chips and jalapeno artichoke dip. (And that’s just the beginning of my quest to eat my way through the state.) Now, I won’t claim that this recipe is quite as good as HEB’s but it’ll definitely do until I get back home!
So from our table to yours,
1 can of artichokes, drained and chopped
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/3 cup of pickled jalapenos (mild, medium or hot, depending on your preference); drained and chopped
1/2 cup of shredded fresh parmesan
2 green onions, chopped
Mix all ingredients.
It’s amazing cold or hot! Cover and refrigerate or pour into a glass baking dish and bake at 400 for about 10 minutes until bubbly. I love it with veggie or pita chips but tortilla chips are never wrong. Serve with your favorites and dream of all things Texas.
Every good Texan knows two things about Kolaches: One, you never drive through West or Caldwell without stopping to get some, and two, you always get enough to share. At the holidays, coordinating who will bring kolaches is just as important as coordinating who’s making turkey and dressing. (At our house, we count on Aunt Cindy and Uncle Paul.) There are lots of chain restaurants and donuts shops that sell them, but nothing beats the little hole in the wall kolache shops with stained tile floors, a leaky faucet in the bathroom and the same three laminate booths that customers have sat in for 50 years.
This Czech/Tex pastry is sweet, but savory; fluffy; but filling, delicate, but hearty. So I knew when I decided to tackle the art of making them, the chances of getting it right the first time were slim. My first batch was too dense and the filling ran out. The second batch would have been perfect….if I had been making danishes. The third batch was a charm. It took me the better part of a day, but they were so worth the wait. They were glorious. So for those of you, like me, too far away from home to get our fix….
2 packages of yeast
2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 c. warm water
1 c. sour cream
1 cup whole milk
7-8 cups flour
1/2 c. melted butter
2 beaten eggs
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. melted butter
your favorite fruit preserves or filling
Cream Cheese filling (recipe below)
Crumble Topping (recipe below)
Cream Cheese Filling
6 oz. cream cheese
1/4 tsp. lemon juice
3 Tbs. sugar
1 egg yolk
1 Tbs. butter, melted
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1. Stir your 2 Tbs. sugar into 1/2 c. warm water. Sprinkle in 2 packages of yeast. With the back of a spoon, I gently dunk the yeast into the warm water. Let it sit until the yeast is foamy.
2. Meanwhile, mix milk and sour cream. Add in yeast mixture.
3. Add 2 c. of flour. It should be pretty runny at this point, like pankcake batter.
4. Mix in 1/2 c. melted butter, eggs, sugar and a pinch of salt.
5. Slowly add in 5 to 6 more cups of flour. Too much flour makes it dense and tough, so it’s better to have too little than too much. Add 1/2 c. at a time until your dough is smooth and tacky. I used my dough hook on my kitchen aid to get it started, but kneading it in by hand really proved to be the best route for me.
6. Set your oven to 350 degrees, and let preheat for 3 minutes. Then turn it off and your light on.
7. Coat a large bowl with nonstick spray or butter. Place your smooth ball of dough in the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.
8. In your oven that is OFF but warm, place your bowl. Let it rise until doubled in size, an hour to an hour and a half.
9. Punch your dough down, and pinch off dough to make 1.5 ounce balls. I fight extra steps when I cook, but weighing the dough out gave me uniform kolaches with just the right consistency….no small, burnt ones or big, raw ones. You can get a scale for less than $10 at Wal-Mart. Worth. It.
10. Using a silicone brush, butter your cookie sheet or glass baking dish. You can certainly make more at one time on a baking sheet, but I’ll be so honest and say, I prefer my glass baking dishes for cookies, pastries and breads. There’s no science behind it and hard core bakers may shudder at my confession, but I stand by it. Everything just comes out softer. With this batch, I made 1/2 on my cookie sheet and 1/2 in a baking dish. We unimously voted for the baking dish version.
11. If you want the traditional rectangle shaped kolaches, your balls have to placed very closely together on your baking sheet. You want them to rise up, not expand out.
12. Brush the tops with butter, and gently cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel.
13. Return to oven until doubled in size. Oven off, but light on.
14. While they rise, prepare your fruit filling or cream cheese filling. Mix all of your crumble topping ingredients in a separate bowl until crumbly.
14. Using your fingers, make an indentation in the middle of each dough ball just big enough hold a couple of tablespoons of filling. Gently drop in your filling, and sprinkle with topping.
15. Cover one last time with a tea towel or plastic wrap and return to warm oven and let rise again.
16. Once they have returned to big and fluffy, remove from the oven. Preheat your oven to 375.
17. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until they’re fluffy and lightly browned. Watch them closely, though….I’ve had some batches finish quickly and some took a few more minutes.
18. My kids circled me like vultures as they finally came out of the oven for good. And we sampled all of ours immediately. Vanilla Pear, Jalapeno Apple and Cream Cheese. Our next batch will definitely include my personal favorite…Poppy Seed!
My great-great grandmother was known for her sweet caramel pie and her even sweeter spirit. She was alive until she was 99 years young. Unfortunately for me, she suffered from Alzheimer’s most of the 15 years I got to know her, so I never got to try that legendary caramel pie. But I do hear about it year after year, so this holiday season, I thought I better attempt my own. The simplicity and nostalgia of a caramel pie has always intrigued me.
My first ever caramel pie was gorgeous with a mile-high meringue. But it didn’t set well. My second pie set perfectly, but we decided it lacked pizazz, umph, the X factor. So for the 3rd attempt, I took a public vote. Add apple, pear, or both? We ended up somewhere right around a tie….so I went with both!
It turned out amazing! We loved it. The fruit just added some texture and depth to the already glorious caramel flavor. You could easily do just apple or just pear, but the tart apple and the sweet pear complimented eachother so well. So enjoy!! As with any recipe, make it your own, so that it graces your table often.
For the Crust:
5 c. flour
1 1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. butter flavored Crisco
1 1/4 c. milk
pinch of salt
For the Fruit:
3 Granny Smith Apples
2 T sugar
For the Caramel:
3/4 c. sugar
2 c. milk
3 egg yolks
4 Tbs. flour
3/4 . sugar
1 T. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
For the Meringue:
4 egg whites
1/4 c. sugar
1. For the crust, sprinkle a pinch of salt into your flour. Cut in your butter, and mix until crumbly.
2. Add in the milk and mix until smooth.
3. On a well-floured surface divide dough into 2 manageable balls. Knead in more flour until the dough is really smooth and not sticky.
4. Roll out one of your balls until its roughly 14 in. in diameter or big enough to cover your deep dish pie pan in the bottom and up the sides.
5. Carefully fold it in half and using a large spatula pick it up and place in your pie pan. Unfold and gently press into your pan and crimp your edges. *The remaining dough can be vacuum sealed or put in a freezer bag and frozen for your next pie*
6. Pie experts have pie beads to pre-bake crusts…..but I don’t, so I use mason jar lids to keep the crust from bubbling. Whatever you use, place on your crust, and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes, or until your crust starts to brown.
7. While your crust cooks, slice your apples and pears into bite size pieces. I like to leave the skins on, but most people don’t. So peel your fruit or don’t. Make it yours!
8. Place in a heavy bottomed pot with the sugar, and cook over medium heat until softened. Remove from heat, and let cool in a separate bowl. You’ll need the pot.
9. Don’t forget about your crust! Remove from the oven and let cool.
10. In the same heavy pot you used for your fruit, caramelize 3/4 cup of sugar. Whisk it often over medium heat until it begins to turn brown and liquify. Don’t rush this step…too much heat will burn your sugar instead of caramelize it. You’ll definitely smell the difference!
11. While your sugar is caramelizing, mix your other ingredients in a separate pot. 2 cups of milk, 3 egg yolks, 4 T. flour and 3/4 cup of sugar. Whisk continuously over med-low heat until thickened.
12. The custard and the caramel should finish at about the same time. When they do, pour one into the other and whisk continuously.
13. Continue to whisk until it’s thick….even thicker than it already is; about 5 minutes. This is the step I cut short in my first attempt…and the reason my pie didn’t set.
14. Spread your cooled fruit into your pie crust.
15. Pour your thickened caramel custard over your fruit. It will set as it cools.
16. In yet a separate bowl or with a stand mixer, beat your egg whites. Add in the sugar and continue to beat, until stiff peaks form. Stiff peaks just mean when you pull the beater out, the whipped egg whites point straight up. They don’t curl over like a wave.
17. Gently, with a rubber spatula, scoop your meringue out onto your pie. It’s important that your meringue touches the crust on all sides or it will flop.
18. Bake in a 425 degree oven until it’s starting to brown on the spoon lines. Don’t walk away…it happens quickly.
19. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before cutting.
20. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, but the meringue will start to disappear and flatten after about 8 hours.
This mornings’ church sermon was all about embracing interruptions in our lives….you know, when things don’t quite go according to our plans. In true God fashion, that was exactly what I needed to hear today. Because, you see, this whole past week has been one big, fat interruption.
It was fall break. I had big plans of wooing my kids with movies, chic-fil-a lunch dates, horses, maybe even some go-karts. Everyone else was headed to the beach or Disney World…. the least I could do was make this break at home a memorable one.
And then some creepy crawly venimous insect decided to bite the top of my head Saturday. I was miserable and bedbound until the next Friday….the whole. darn. week. So the second I felt better, we made a delivery, ran some errands, made it to the Main Event for a few hours for some bowling and video games….and then my face swelled up like a pumpkin and I headed back to the house to hide!
Even though it wasn’t anyone’s fault I got bit, I was beating myself up that I hadn’t done more with them. I was sad that when they went back to school, their stories from fall break would pale in comparison to their friends’ grand adventures.
And then I heard that sermon. And I looked back at the week and realized how much good had happened. I loved that my kids were happy with simple pleasures like new legos Daddy brought home. And how sweet my Paisley was when she squeezed my neck and told me she was sorry I felt bad. And I realized how much we all loved staying in our jammies all week and how much I appreciated that my husband made me laugh even when I looked like Quasimodo. And suddenly, I realized maybe this was really the break we all needed.
And as if all that wasn’t enough….I took this seclusion time yesterday to play with some new recipes. I hadn’t made time to do that in too long. So to say I enjoyed it would be an understatement.
And this was the result.
So embrace the interruptions. Hug your kids. Love your husband. And make pie 🙂
For the crust:
5 cups flour
2 cups butter
1 cup milk
Dash of salt
For the filling:
5 Tbs. softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup light Karo syrup
1 Tbs. vanilla
1 1/2 cups pecan halves or pieces
3 granny smith apples, sliced thinly
1 tsp. cinnamon
1. Mix your crust ingredients together until a smooth dough forms.
2. Divide in half. Om a floured surface, roll one half into a circle big enough to fill your deep dish pie plate. Freeze the other half for next time…because there WILL be a next time 😉
3. Lay your apple slices to fill the bottom and sprinkle 1 Tbs. of sugar and 1 tsp. of cinnamon over the top.
4. In a separate bowl, beat your eggs for several minutes until they’re light and fluffy.
5. Add in the softened butter, Karo syrup, and vanilla.
6. Pour over the apples.
7. Top with pecan halves or pieces.
8. Bake at 350 for 1 hour until the filling is set. Be sure and check the crust around 40 minutes in. If its getting too dark, just lay a piece of foil over top for the rest of the time.
9. Remove from oven and let cool. If you’re feeling adventrous, add a scoop of Bluebell Homemade Vanilla. That little bite of home makes everything better 🙂
Social media is covered up with everyone declaring their love for fall…the cooler temperatures, the colorful leaves, the sweaters, the campfires, the boots, and the food. Oh, for the love of fall foods. And I’m a sucker for every single bit of it. September 1st, I practically skipped around the farm wearing flannel and decorating with pumpkins and mums and hay bales. If I could whistle, I’d have probably done that too. My name is Brooke, and I love fall.
And last night felt like fall. Rainy, cold, windy….downright perfect chili weather. I have an old faithful chili recipe that I make almost weekly during the cold months, but last night, we had about 4 lbs of leftover brisket trimmings, and I was feeling a little adventurous. Now, I fully recognize, most people don’t have brisket just lying around like we do, but it would be criminal to keep this to myself. So if you do happen to have some leftovers that have dried out a little bit in the fridge or you’re just hankering for the absolute best chili you’ve had in your life, give this a go. You will not be disappointed.
So from our table to yours,
4 lbs of fully cooked, Smoked Brisket
4 Tbs minced garlic
1.5 cups of water
15 oz. tomato sauce
6 oz. tomato paste
1/4 c. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
29 oz. can pinto beans
1. Chop your brisket into small, bite size pieces and put in large pot or dutch oven. Add garlic.
2. Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin and water. It seems simple, I know. But you’re dealing with brisket here….not ground beef like usual. It doesn’t need as much help to be amazing.
3. Let simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. Add more water if you need to prevent sticking.
4. Add pinto beans, and continue to simmer for about 30 minutes, still stirring occasionally.
5. Ladle into a deep bowl that you can hunker over to eat. It’s so good just like that. But my never-ending quest for the perfect bite leads me to all the chili fixin’s….cheese, shredded lettuce, avocado, sour cream and jalapeños.
Oh! And cornbread. There’s probably some amazing homemade cornbread recipes on Pinterest. But that 88 cent blue box of sweet Jiffy cornbread is like heaven in an 8×8 pan. So it’s our resident go-to 🙂
My tomatoes have overtaken an entire half of my garden this year. Keep in mind, I’d allocated about a sixth. I’m not sure how it happened, but six plants have given me well over 200 beautiful, deep red, delicious tomatoes. We eat lots of store-bought tomatoes year round, but I love, like really love, the fresh-from-the-garden variety during the summer.
Aside from all the BLT’s we can eat and a few jars of salsa, this spaghetti sauce is by far our most favorite thing to do with loads of tomatoes. I’ve made this recipe for years with tomatoes from the canned vegetable aisle. This year, I substituted all the cans for fresh, and holy toledo…it’s glorious.
You can make it fresh and eat it that same night, or fill a few jars and save them for later. It’s good on spaghetti or in lasagna or as a dipping sauce for some garlic cheesy bread. Either way, the taste and the smell in your kitchen will very likely keep you from going back to Pregu every again.
So here it is…one of our all time favorites at the Smokin F, Homemade Spaghetti Sauce.
130 oz of fresh tomatoes
1/2 c. onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp. basil (fresh or paste from the produce section)
1 Tbs. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. salt
Pepper, to taste
4 Tbs fresh parsley
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage (can be turkey)
1/2 c. lemon juice (if canning)
1. Boil a pot of water while you wash your tomatoes very well.
2. Using a small pairing knife, cut around the stem of each tomato and remove the core. You can go all the way through if you’d like. I prefer to just make a cone around the stem and save as much of that glorious tomato as possible.
3. Once your water is boiling, turn off the heat, and add as many tomatoes as will fit comfortably. It usually takes me several batches for this.
4. Let them sit in the hot water for 10 minutes.
5. Fill another large bowl or pot with cold water. Add 1 cup of ice.
6. Remove tomatoes from hot water and place in cold water for 5 minutes.
7. After a few minutes, the skin on your tomatoes will start to pull away. Using your fingers gently peel the tomatoes and let them drain in a colander until you’ve got all of your tomatoes done. Some people scrap the skins, but I love the flavor of them and they’ll serve a fantastic purpose at the end. So for now, set them aside in a separate bowl.
8. Repeat this process until all of your tomatoes are done.
9. Empty your boiling pot. If you’re making this sauce for tonight, brown your Italian sausage in this same pot and then add the peeled tomatoes back into it. If you’re planning to can it for later, I prefer to leave the meat out for now. So just go straight to peeled tomatoes in the pot.
10. Mash them gently with a potato masher. They don’t need to be completely smooth, just mostly mashed.
11. If you haven’t already, use a food processor or chop your garlic, onion and basil very fine.
12. Here’s my favorite part. Those skins that you have set aside make a fantastic tomato paste that adds flavor and thickness to your sauce. So put all of your reserved skins in a food processor or blender until they’re very smooth. Add that paste into your tomatoes.
13. Add the rest of your ingredients EXCEPT lemon juice to your mashed tomatoes.
14. Bring it to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2-4 hours. I let mine go all afternoon, giving it a good stir when I pass by the stove to keep it from sticking.
15. If you’re cooking for tonight, ding! Dinner’s ready!
16. If you’re canning it, fill your clean jar, leaving 1/2 in headspace with sauce. Add in 2 Tbs. lemon juice to each jar to make the level of acidity safe for canning. (This not affect taste at all!) Replace the lids.
17. Drop gently into your water processor, making sure you have 1 in of water above the lids.
18. Process for 40 minutes and then remove vertically. Let cool and wait for the infamous canning pop of your lids sealing.
19. Store for up to a year. When you’re ready to serve, brown 1 lb of Italian Sausage in a pot. Add in a jar of your homemade tomato sauce, and let simmer for 20-30 minutes until warm.
2017 at The Smokin F will definitely go down as the summer of Tomatoes and Cukes. Salsa, pickles, spaghetti sauce, pickles, BLT’s, more pickles, fresh with mozzarella and basil, even more pickles….we’ve had both more ways than I thought were possible. And all have been glorious.
While we got experimental with the tomatoes, we knew all we wanted from our boatloads of cucumbers….was boatloads of dill pickles. See, I live in a house full of pickle connoisseurs. I needed a crunchy, savory but not spicy, dill pickle to meet all of their standards. We’ve gotten good flavor but no crunch. Or crunch, but no flavor. And y’all, I will not eat slimy, seedy pickles. I need the crunch! But the afternoon I watched my two year old down nearly an entire jar of my latest batch by herself, I knew we had a winner.
So from our garden here at the Smokin’ F to yours….
What you’ll need:
12-16 small to medium cucumbers (the really big ones are too seedy and not as crunchy)
4 cups distilled vinegar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
8 cups water
4 Tbs. sugar
1/2 c. pickling salt
12 dill sprigs (if you can find them. It’s nearly impossible around canning season)
12 garlic cloves or 12 Tbs. minced garlic
12 tsp dill seed or dill weed (most recipes advise against dill weed mostly for aesthetics. But I used it in every jar this year because I could never find the seeds, and we all loved it.)
3 tsp crushed red pepper
6 tsp whole black pepper
2 tsp pickle crisp
4-6 wide mouth quart size jars
If you’re doing pickle chips, Wavy Pickle Knife. I swear the ridges make a crunchier pickle! I bought mine on Amazon for $6.99….it’s so worth it!!
1. In each clean jar, put:
2 peeled, smashed cloves of garlic OR 2 Tbs. minced garlic
1 sprig of dill
1 tsp dill weed or seed
1/4 tsp Pickle Crisp
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp whole black pepper
Enough sliced cucumbers to fill the jar. (Or spears or babies, whichever you’d like will work perfectly!)
2. In a medium pot, add the vinegar, water, sugar and pickling salt. Heat over medium low just until the salt and sugar are dissolved and the liquid is no longer cloudy.
3. Add enough liquid to each jar to fill it, leaving 1/4 in. of headspace.
4. Put on your lids. From here, you can either refrigerator or water process them. If you plan to eat them within the next month and have fridge space, you can just put the jar in the fridge. Let them process for a few days, and then dig in. They’ll stay good in the fridge for a month after they’re opened.
5. If you’d like to water process them, put the cans in a boiling water canner. Make sure there is at least 1 in. water over top of the lids. Return the water to a boil, and let boil for 10 minutes.
6. Remove from the water, keeping vertical, and set on a towel. As they cool, the lids will pop, thus ensuring they have sealed properly. Let them sit for a few days, and then, they’re ready to eat, but they have a shelf life of a year or more if stored in a cool place.
If, for some reason, one of the jars doesn’t seal, just throw it in the fridge, and eat that one within the month.
I have literally never made this. True story. Call me spoiled rotten, but my Mimi does this every year, so no one else even thinks about making it. Partially because she’s amazing at it. And partially because the thought of chopping neck and liver doesn’t particularly put me in the holiday spirit.
But this year, I don’t have a choice. I’m in Tennessee and she’s in Texas, so if I want giblet gravy, I’m going to have to learn to make it! These are her step by step directions. I don’t ever, ever post a recipe without lots of trying first, but I’m making an exception with this for Thanksgiving. We can be Guinea pigs together!
So here’s my Mimi’s top secret Giblet Gravy!
Giblets from the turkey
1 qt chicken broth
Salt and pepper
1/3 c water
2 Tbs cornstarch
6 green onions*
1 stalk celery*
*If you made The Sister’s Dressing, you should have these already sautéed and set aside for gravy.
1. In a medium pot, pour enough water to cover your giblets and eggs. Simmer until giblets are cooked thoroughly and eggs are hard. (About 40 minutes). If you did not reserve sautéed veggies from The Sister’s Dressing, toss them in the water to boil, too.
2. Once the giblets are cooked and eggs are hard, remove them from the water. Peel the eggs and chop the giblets and the eggs into small pieces.
3. Return to the water. Depending on the amount of gravy you want, add chicken broth. Mimi typically adds a cup or two.
4. In a small cup, mix 2 Tbs of cornstarch into 1/3 cup of cold water. Once a smooth, semi-thick paste is made, add slowly into the broth.
5. Continue to cook over low, whisking constantly until the desired consistency is reached.
Pour over your dressing or your turkey. Or use your bread to sop up the leftovers. It’s that good!