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This is something I just made for company tonight and it’s always a hit. I served it with my chicken salad and homemade rolls. It’s a lot like scalloped potatoes. It’s so easy to make and is delicious. It’s also good reheated, unlike most potato dishes. My husband likes it the best when it’s crunchy on top from reheating. Sorry I don’t have a picture to post of it because I don’t have a digital camera. If some of my fellow bloggers want to make it and post a picture here, that would be great. I scanned my slice of bread in our scanner for the last post but I won’t try it on this. I had to clean the oil off it last time. I think the cheese would be a lot messier.

6 large potatoes, sliced into rounds
1/2 cup chopped onion
Boil the onion and potatoes and drain well.

In a saucepan, heat and mix together:
2 TBSP butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 can evaporated milk (3/4 cup)
1 and 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese cut in cubes (6 oz. = 1 1/2 cups)
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and slice the potatoes. Boil with the onion till tender. Drain. On medium heat, stir soup, milk, butter and cheese together till cheese is melted. Add drained potatoes to the sauce and pour into a glass 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes at 325-350 degrees until the top is browned.
Serves 8.

Summer is my least favorite season and will remain so as long as I live in the South. I do appreciate watermelon, and farmers markets, and… maybe some other summery things I just can’t recall at the moment, but the fact is that our summers are hot, humid, and long, and we don’t have sprinklers to play in anymore. A consequence of my low threshold for being hot all the time is that my passion for cooking cools tremendously during the summer, when we keep our house quite a bit higher than standard room temperature to save on the electric bill, and turning on the oven never helps it feel more comfortable. To try and overcome the disinclination to do anything that exacerbates the heat (and thus makes me cranky), this summer I intend to explore the vast territory of salads and sandwiches. The potential for either goes far beyond a Caesar or a ham-and-cheese, and both require little to no oven use. The past two summers (the only in my history as a housewife) I wasn’t very innovative with meals; I was a bit too fixated on keeping grocery costs down by working from the pantry and not buying much produce. I was as a result turning on the oven to braise tough meats (cheap year-round), or serving tuna or pasta salad a little more often than anyone should have to eat them. This time around I’m going to use my brain and take advantage of the benefits of a well-stocked pantry (thanks Southern Savers), which means I have more money to spend on produce and fresh sandwich fixings.

One obstacle I’ll have to overcome is a chronic inability to have ingredients for salad on hand, starting with the lettuce. It only recently dawned on me that when you buy a head of romaine ($1.79) rather than those stupid 6 oz bags of pre-cut salad ($2 on sale, which is the only time I buy them), the difference in yield is at least 3:1. Way to finally do the math, dear. In my defense, I was unaware that there WERE heads of romaine at Publix; I’d only seen the super expensive hearts of romaine packages (3 thin and shabby looking hearts close to $4) and overlooked the blissfully dark green romaines and lovely red leaf lettuces, which didn’t even begin to turn reddish brown around the edges after one week in my fridge. I spend maybe 15 minutes washing and drying the whole leaves, then rolling them up in a kitchen towel and putting the whole bundle in an open plastic bag in the crisper. Then the rest of the week, I enjoy the convenience of a bagged salad, so that preparing a side or appetizer isn’t like another dish needing attention while I’ve got things to watch on the stove (I’m a bad multi-tasker and only have so much counterspace for prep work). That, obviously, can be applied year-round.

During the summer, we always have some sort of tomatoes on hand, and as long as I keep some interesting nuts and seeds around, with dressing that completes a very basic side salad. I also want to try some entree salads besides our staple, Cobb (though I want to know, can you really get any better than avocado AND bacon AND hard-boiled eggs AND blue cheese all on the same plate?), and I need to get up some kind of repertoire of flavorful dressings. I have a blue-cheese dressing with buttermilk that is to die for, but sometimes we want something lighter, and we haven’t been too impressed with my simple vinaigrette attempts so far. It’s probably because I don’t exactly splurge on my vinegars and oils. (Though I have officially placed Crisco Olive Oil on the Do Not Buy Even If Free list.)

If I am to make our bread for sandwiches, the oven will have to be on at least a couple times a week. I am determined to master ciabatta (promising steps were taken toward this goal last week) and the money saved by making our own bread is significant, so this is a non-negotiable. With rustic breads, baking several loaves at once to store in the freezer is not really an option because it fairly ruins the crust you work so hard to get. (If there is an option of which I’m not aware, DO enlighten me.) I’ll make the most of this by using the oven for other things while it’s on, e.g. roasted garlic and croutons for salad that night. Or dessert. I can always justify turning on the oven for a dessert.

Another category of oven-free meals I intend to make lots of is Thai curries. We love them with plain old chicken and occasionally shrimp, and even keeping them on the conservative side of the spice scale they pack in lots of flavor. Then each of us can customize spiciness with Sriracha. I made a large batch of green curry paste that turned out very well, and should provide plenty of curries before I have to make it again (it was a 2-hour ordeal because of the plethora of ingredients combined with the fact that my knife skills are nonexistent). Curries are fast and basically a one-skillet meal, plus mindless rice, and fewer dishes means less time cleaning up in a hot kitchen. And if I don’t like cooking in a hot kitchen in the summer, you can guess how much I like cleaning up after myself in a hot kitchen. So that’s my game plan. What are your favorite summer dishes?

Pumpkin Roll


Not a great picture, but this is what it looks like baked in a jelly roll pan.

My sister-in-law gave me this recipe years ago.  She used to make pumpkin rolls to sell.  I’ve been doing some baking for one of my neighbors.  He asked me if I could make a pumpkin roll for some of his friends so I hunted up my recipe and tried it out today. It was much easier and quicker to make than I thought it would be. On my first try, I used a regular cookie sheet which was a size bigger than the size mentioned. It didn’t look quite as nice but it still tasted great.

3 large eggs

2/3 cups plain pumpkin

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

3/4 cups flour

Use canned plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) or if you have a home grown pumpkin, bake it in the oven first* then measure and blend with the other ingredients.

Mix flour, spices and baking soda in a small bowl. Set aside. Measure cooked pumpkin, and place in blender along with eggs and sugar. Blend well. Add dry ingredients. Blend again until well mixed. Spray an 11 1/2″ X by 15 1/2″ X 1 ” Jelly Roll Pan with Pam or grease with Crisco. Line it with wax paper (or you can use a cookie sheet with sides if you don’t have a jelly roll pan). Then spray the waxed paper with Pam or grease with Crisco then dust with flour. Trim off any excess waxed paper so it won’t smoke in the oven. Pour the blended cake batter into the lined jelly roll pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 325-350. I used a lower shelf so it would not get too brown. Watch cake carefully because it suddenly puffs up when done. I had to poke mine with a toothpick to deflate it.

While cake is baking, prepare a clean tea towel spread out flat on the counter.  Sprinkle it with confectioner’s sugar, covering an area the size of your pan. I use a flour sifter to distribute it evenly onto the towel.

When the cake is done, remove from oven. Carefully pick up the cake by the two corners of the waxed paper (on the longest side). With the waxed paper facing you, carefully flop the cake face down onto the towel. Peel off the waxed paper.  Roll up the tea towel along with the cake starting from the short side, making it fatter rather than long.  Let cool over an hour on a wire rack.  When cooled, unroll it and top with cream cheese icing then roll it up again, being careful to roll it tight enough so there are no air pockets. I added a bit more confectioner’s sugar to the top with the flour sifter as a final touch.

Icing

Mix icing in mixer.

1   8 oz pkg. Philadelphia cream cheese

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup confectioners sugar

Spread icing evenly then roll up again, this time without the towel. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze.

*To bake a pumpkin, cut in half, remove seeds and place on a cookie sheet or in a shallow pan with some water in the bottom. Bake at 350 for a half hour till tender.

INGREDIENTS
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 teaspoon salt and pepper, or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed, diced tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons sugar

DIRECTIONS
Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
Heat oil and curry powder in a large skillet over medium-high heat for two minutes. Stir in onions and garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add chicken, tossing lightly to coat with curry oil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in center and juices run clear.
Pour coconut milk, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and sugar into the pan, and stir to combine. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, approximately 30 to 40 minutes.

CROCK POT DIRECTIONS
I have adapted this to go in the crock pot because if you cook it in skillet, the house smells like curry for days.
I cooked the chicken in a skillet and put all of the other stuff right in the crockpot, mixed it all up, and put in on low (for almost 5 hours) and voile la! The first time I made it I added summer squash, and liked the addition. I cooked the squash separately in a skillet and then threw it in the crockpot for the last two hours.

*I stole this recipe from some online recipe site and adapted it for the crock pot.

*I wish I had taken a pretty picture of this to make this more blog-worthy.  Next time.

Hazel's Homemade Rolls

Hazel’s Homemade Rolls

This recipe for chicken salad is always a hit for company.
Chicken Salad
4 cups cooked and diced boned chicken breasts
2 cups red seedless grapes, diced
1 can (9.25 oz.) cashews broken up into small pieces (about 1 1/2 c.)
1 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper
(lettuce leaves)

Trim the veins and fat from the breasts and fry in small amount of butter and oil. Cut up the cooked chicken and chill while you prepare the other ingredients. Mix in the diced grapes and cashews. Add mayonnaise and season with salt and pepper.

The rolls are a recipe that my husband’s aunt Hazel passed on to my mother-in-law and she gave it to me.
Hazel’s Rolls
1  & 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup  of real butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt

Melt butter and sugar in the water. Add salt.
When cooled, add:
2 beaten eggs
In measuring cup, mix together:
1/2 cup warm, not hot water
2  pks yeast (I use less when using instant bread machine yeast, 2 tsp.  I’m at a high elevation which affects yeast)
Dissolve then add to other ingredients.

Stir in 6 + cups bread flour, then knead. Add last part of flour gradually until dough is no longer sticky. Oil bowl (1-2 TBSP) and turn dough over to coat. Cover with a tea towel. Rise in warm place until doubled. Punch down dough. Add more flour if dough is sticky. Pinch off small pieces about the size of an egg or about 1 inch if you want smaller rolls. Add a little flour to the dough while forming the rolls if it sticks to your hands. Put in rows on greased cookie sheet. Let rise until doubled in size. I warm my oven briefly then use it to rise the bowl of dough and then the rolls on the cookie sheet. Make sure the oven is not too hot to hold your hand on the rack comfortably. If it is too hot the yeast will die. Bake at 350 for about 8-10 minutes. Makes about 35  sized rolls  or 55 smaller rolls using one inch balls of dough.

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