Sunday, December 19, 2010

Smoked Chicken

For weeks my husband talked about getting a smoker. It all started when he would go across the street and watch our neighbor smoke ribs, turkey and brisket. For weeks he asked questions and did online smoker research on techniques. Just after Thanksgiving, the smokers went on sale so he made his purchase. Soon after he worked a whole morning testing out how fast the water evaporates and what happens to the chips. By one o'clock, he was ready to add a chicken to the smoker. He decided to go with something inexpensive for his first attempt at smoking. Well 4 hours later, we had a juicy bird that tasted fabulous!

First he placed a 5 lb chicken in brine made of 2 quarts of water, 1/4 cup kosher salt, and 1/4 cup sugar for 10 hours. He pat it dry and rubbed it with a mixture of 2 tsp each of Sage, Thyme, Southwest Seasoning, and Herbs De Provence. He did add a little salt and pepper to the rub. He used Pecan and Applewood chips in the smoker with a temperature of 225. He place the bird about 3/4 of the way up in the smoker away from the heat. He smoked it for about 4 hours until the internal temperature was 160 degrees. We let it rest for about 30 minutes before we cut it.

We will definitely make lots of chicken in the smoker. Our daughter suggested making just the legs since they tasted like the turkey legs at the fair! It is a good idea and we will definitely be trying that idea!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Spinach Cheese Casserole

Everyone usually has one or two traditional food dishes that they have every Christmas. One of ours is Spinach Cheese Casserole. This dish has actually become a MUST have dish for every occassion at the request of my children!! This dish ranks up there with cheesy potatoes and Ida's Greenbean Casserole! I am sure the sky would fall if I did not make it for Christmas.

This recipe goes back about 19 years. My German babysitter always talked about making spinach pie, homemade soups, and German cookies. My sister-in-law gave me a cookbook that her kid's school put together for a fundraiser and the Spinach Pie in the cookbook looked good. I was hesitant since spinach has never thrilled me, but I saw how much cheese was in this recipe and thought, how could this taste bad? It tasted pretty good but I tweaked the original recipe a bit. Over the years, I have found that I have to double the recipe, because one pie plate was not enough! By the way, my babysitter said, This is not pie!". I kind of agreed with her and stopped calling it pie many years ago! Sorry, Carla Beatty from Lines School in Canada, we still love your dish though!!

Spinach Cheese Casserole
2 cups seasoned croutons, crushed
1/4 cup melted butter

6 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
8 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, cut in 1 inch cubes
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp sour cream
1 clove garlic, crushed

Press croutons and melted butter into a 9 inch pie plate. Combine 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese with spinach, cottage cheese, Monterrey Jack cheese, eggs, onion, sour cream and garlic. Spoon into prepared crust. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 for 35 minutes until lightly brown on top.

This recipe can be doubled and baked in a 13x9 baking dish for 1 hour. Casserole will be bubbly when it comes out of oven and will setup after 5 to 10 minutes.

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This recipe has been linked to

Mommy's Kitchen Potluck Sunday

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wedding Soup

When I married my husband it did not take long for me understand how important making a good wedding soup was to the family. His sister Dodie's soup was excellent and I was not sure I could make soup, let alone a good soup. My husband always talked about wedding soup, he would order it at restaurants and then say it was not right, not like the soup his sister's make. One morning he decided he was going to make the soup. He went to the store and bought the ingredients, consulted with his sister, and then started on his day long adventure to make the soup. He cut vegetables, boiled and boned a whole chicken, and meticulously made perfect little meatballs. It literally took 10 hours for him to make the soup! It was delicious! Seriously though, I thought I do not have time to make this soup!!

Several months later, I came across the recipe and I decided to give it a try. Lo and behold, in an hour and half I was able to make the soup, do two loads of laundry, and clean up the kitchen. I did take a few short cuts but the results were the same.....delicious soup!!

This soup is very good. The flavor is smooth and the soup is hardy so you do not need much else to make it a meal. I have never really cared for spinach, but in the soup it is subtle so I really enjoy it.

Italian Wedding Soup
Whole 4 lb chicken, or 2 chicken breasts bone-in, or 4 boneless breasts - (This is where you can save time)
1 onion chopped - I use a very large yellow onion
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 32 oz containers of chicken stock
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 tsp Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb ground beef or turkey
2 pieces garlic, chopped fine
1 tbsp parsley
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup bread crumbs
3 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Boil chicken in large pot with enough water just to cover chicken. Add in about 1/2 cup of the onion and little salt. When chicken is falling off bone, or is cooked through, remove from pan and shred. Add the chicken back to the pot, add stock, onion, celery, and carrots.
While this simmers, mix all ingredients for the meatballs and make tiny little meatballs. We like them the size of marbles. When they cook in the soup they are very tender and melt in your mouth.
Bring soup back up to a boil and drop in meatballs. Add spinach. Reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes. This is a good time to add 1 tsp of Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Beat 3 eggs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan in a small liquid measuring cup. Bring soup back up to a boil and drizzle the cheese and egg mixture into the soup, stirring occasionally. Cook soup for at least another 15 minutes before eating.
This soup can stay on low heat for a long time and the flavor or texture will not be effected. This soup freezes well. You can re-heat in microwave, or on stove top and it tastes like it was just made.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Breakfast Potatoes

While in New York last month, we had these potatoes for breakfast one morning. They have good flavor so I worked to recreate them once I got home. These were pretty easy to make, just make sure you do not over cook the potatoes or they will be mushy. I think the dish we had in New York may have had a little cheese on top. I left it off when I fixed them this time but anything with cheese is good, so next time I will probably add a little cheese. The peppers and onion are not overpowering but give the potatoes a really nice flavor. I don't really care for peppers but I ate this up. As the peppers cook they mellow out and leave the potatoes with a hint of the peppers that adds a really nice flavor.

Breakfast Potatoes

4 medium potatoes, diced
1/4 c. red pepper
1/4 cup green pepper
1 small onion
Lowery's seasoned salt
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in skillet. Add potatoes, peppers and onion. Sprinkle Lowery's to lightly coat all of the potatoes. Add paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until potatoes are soft.