Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 150: Mongolian Beef

Happy Memorial Day!  As you're out and about celebrating the long weekend, don't forget to thank a veteran for their service and sacrifice and most importantly, your freedom.  Thank you veterans!  I get to spend today decorating graves.  We are the only members of my hubby's family in the area so we get cemetery duty.  We actually have a lot of fun-in a morbid kind of way. 

A friend gave me this recipe and she swears it tastes just like PF Chang's Mongolian beef.  Now, I've never tried their version, so I can't vouch for the authenticity of this recipe.  But it sounded good so we gave it a try.

Mongolian Beef
12" dutch oven

4 tsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. ginger, minced
2 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 c. soy sauce
1 c. water
1 c. brown sugar (packed)
1 cup vegetable oil
2 Lb. flank steaks (I used a boneless beef roast, sliced thin)
½ c. cornstarch
3 large green onions

Make the sauce by heating 4 tsp. vegetable oil in a 10" dutch oven over medium/low heat. Don’t get the oil too hot. Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then raise the heat to medium and boil the sauce 2-3 minutes or until sauce thickens a little bit. Remove sauce from heat.

Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4 inch slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a 45 degree angle to the top of the steak so you get wider cuts. Dip the steak pieces into cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef. Let the beef sit about 10 min. so the cornstarch sticks. As the beef sits, heat up 1 c. oil in your 12" dutch oven. Heat the oil until its hot, but not smoking.  I used as many coals as I could fit under my dutch oven.   Add the beef to the oil and saute for just 2 minutes, or until beef just begins to darken on the edges. Stir the meat around a little bit so that it cooks evenly.

After a few minutes, use a large slotted spoon to take the meat out and onto paper towels, then pour most of the oil out of the dutch oven. Put the pot back over the heat, dump the meat back into it and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the sauce, cook for 1 minute while stirring and add green onions. Cook for 1 more minute. Now at this point you can either remove the beef with a slotted spoon or tongs and discard the sauce (this is what P.F. Chang's does) OR thicken the sauce with a cornstarch-water mixture to desired thickness and serve it over rice with the beef.

The Finished Product

The Review

I don't know how this compares to PF Chang's recipe, but this was GOOD!!  I cooked mine a little longer than the recipe calls for, partly because my hubby wasn't home from work yet and partly because dutch ovens heat and cook just a little slower than your stove top.  I used a 5 pound roast and there wasn't 1 piece of meat leftover, if that tells you how good this was.  The instructions are long, but the procedure is simple.  You really should make this....tonight!  Grade A.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 149: Orange Rolls

I have finally found the perfect bread recipe.  I've made a lot of different bread recipes over the years, but I think I've finally found a winner.  This recipe comes from a dear friend named Karen.  She makes the bread and rolls by which all breads are measured.  I judge how good my bread is compared to hers.  I finally got to have her teach me how she makes her bread, and it has paid off.  I can finally quit searching for the perfect bread recipe, because this is it.  I've used this dough for bread, rolls of all kinds, hamburger and hot dog buns and braids.

Orange rolls
14" dutch oven

2 1/4 cups warm water
1 Tbs. yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
5-6 cups flour
1/4 cup softened butter


1/2 cup sugar
Zest from 1 orange


Powdered sugar
Juice from 1 orange

Combine the yeast and warm water in a mixing bowl and let sit for 5 minutes.  Add the oil, sugar, salt and about 2-2 1/2 cups of flour.  Mix until it is smooth and has the consistency of pancake batter.  Let it rise 20-30 minutes.  Don't skip this step, it is worth it, I promise.  Add the remaining flour a little at a time, until the dough pulls completely away from the sides of the bowl.  Continue to mix or knead until it is smooth.  Let it rise in a greased bowl until double in size, about an hour.  Divide the dough in half.  On a greased board, roll out the dough into a circle about 1/4" thick.  Spread with softened butter and sprinkle with orange zest/sugar mixture.  Cut into wedges as for pizza.  Roll up like crescent rolls.  Repeat with the other half of the dough.  Put the rolls in a greased DO and let rise until double.  Bake at 350* for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.  Use 16 coals on top and 12 on the bottom or 1 1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom.  Cover with glaze while still hot.  Makes about 30 rolls. 

The Finished Product

The Review

Like I said before, this is the best bread recipe.  These rolls melted in your mouth!  Even my orange roll hating hubby liked them.  I couldn't stop eating them.  They were soft and gooey and delicious.  I love using the ring method for cooking breads.  This baked perfectly.  I might make more of these today too!  Grade A.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day 148: Pizza Pockets

We thought we'd have a fun dinner last night.  My hubby was working an overtime shift, so it was pizza pockets, root beer and movie night.  I did some of the pizza pockets in my oven and some in my DO.  I'll bet you can't guess which ones turned out the best?  Of course it was the ones in the DO.  They browned a lot better than the others.
These were so simple and fun.  The kids got to put thee pizza topping ingredients on the dough.  It was a total mess, but they had a blast.

Pizza Pockets
14" dutch oven

Your favorite bread dough, either homemade or Rhoade's
Pizza sauce
Your favorite pizza toppings-we used pepperoni
Mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

Divide the dough into balls.  I made 6 pizza pockets from each loaf of bread dough.  Roll out the dough on a greased board to the size you want.  Put sauce and toppings on half of the dough, be sure to fill them up, but be careful not to put sauce within an inch of the edges.  Fold the dough over to  completely enclose the toppings and seal with a fork.  Bake at 350* for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Use 1-1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom or 14 coals on top and 10 coals on the bottom.

The Finished Product

The Review

Of course these were good.  I don't make them often enough for my kids.  They are so simple and fun.  They can also be customized to what everyone likes.  You should have seen my kitchen when the kids were finished putting in the toppings.  It looked like a hurricane went through it.  It is a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen.  Some of them needed more stuff inside, so be sure to fill them up.  These get an A.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 147: Mexican Lasagna

I have used the Dinwidde ring method for 2 days now, and I have to say I really like it.  I kind of count coals just to make sure I'm not starting way to many.  I can tell you I use 34 Kingsford coals to get my 12" oven to 350*.  I've checked out every Internet site that has anything to say about it so I can be sure to use it properly.  Its great because I don't have to have a chart to tell my how many coals to use.  I use anywhere between 1 and 2 1/2 rings.  Is is just so simple!  If I had known about this method for figuring heat from the beginning, I wouldn't have had nearly as many heat problems.  I'll do a post on how to use this method next week!  On to today's recipe.

Have you ever had one of those days where you look at the clock, realize you have to leave in an hour and you have no idea what to make for dinner?  Then you make something you really aren't in the mood for just because its fast and easy.  That was yesterday.  I can't believe I made 3 different kinds of lasagna in one week.  Good thing my hubby was working and my kids don't complain...much.  I found this recipe written in the back of one of my menu/grocery list notebooks. 

Mexican Lasagna
12" dutch oven

1 Lb. ground beef
1/2 onion chopped
1 jar spaghetti sauce
16 oz. Cottage cheese
1 egg
1/2 pound grated Mozzarella cheese
1/2 pound grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 package corn tortillas (about 12 tortillas)

Brown hamburger and onion in your DO and drain well.  I put as many coals as I could underneath my oven.
Combine with the spaghetti sauce. In large bowl combine beaten egg, and all the cheeses. Save a little of the Mozzarella and cheddar for the topping.  Remove all the sauce into a bowl, except enough to just cover the bottom of your oven.  Put a layer of the tortilla shells on the bottom of your DO. Tear them to fill in all the spaces. Then add a layer of sauce and a layer of cheese. Repeat several times ending with the sauce and a topping of the grated cheese. Bake at 350* for 30 minutes. Use 14 coals on top and 10 on the bottom or 1-1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom.  Top with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and chopped olives as desired.

The Finished Product
It doesn't look any different than regular lasagna, but there are tortillas in there--I promise!
The Review
This was just okay.  It filled the empty spots in our bellies, but it isn't something I'm likely to make again.  I have to say, the corn tortillas did give it a "Mexican food" flavor.  Now if I was camping, this would probably taste really good.  It is super easy and can be done in 1 pot.  Add a bag of tortilla chips and you have a meal.  I'll have to give this recipe 2 grades.  As a meal at home it gets a C+.  As a camping meal I have give it a B+ because everything tastes better in the great outdoors.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 146: Cordon Bleu Lasagna...and Crow

Guess what?  Last night I used Kingsford and I got it to work.  I've decided that I can't count coals with it.  They just don't put out enough heat for any of the coal counting formulas to work for me.  They do, however, work brilliantly with the Dinwiddie ring method.  I know most people have no idea what that is, and I'll do an entire post on it as soon as I've used it a few more times.  I've actually known about the ring method for a while, but coal counting has always worked just fine so I never really bothered to try it much.  I'm really glad I did because the ring method is much easier than coal counting and I'm sure it can be used with any size/brand of charcoal on the market.  So, here I am, totally willing to admit I'm wrong, eat a little crow and keep using Kingsford.  I even emailed Kingsford and told them of my new discovery.  There you have it!  My frustrations are at an end.  You could even say that I've entered a whole new era of dutch oven cooking! 

There I am.  Mmmmm...crow is tasty!

Cordon Bleu Lasagna
12" dutch oven

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts. cooked and cubed
12-15 lasagna noodles
1/2 lb, shredded or cubed ham


1 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup flour
3 cups milk
2 1/4 cups heavy cream or half and half
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tbs. fresh or dried parsley

Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside.  Melt the butter in a 12" DO.  I put as many coals under the oven as I could fit.  Add the flour and cook and stir for 1 minute.  Add the milk, cream or half and half, and broth.  Cook until it begins to boil, stirring constantly.  This took a few minutes.  Add the Parmesan and parsley and stir until cheese is melted.  Remove from heat and scoop out most of the sauce into a bowl.  You want to leave a thin layer on the bottom of the DO.  Layer noodles, chicken, ham and sauce.  Repeat 3 times ending with the sauce.  Bake at 350* for 30-35 minutes.  Use 14 coals on top and 10 on the bottom or 1 1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom.  Serves 8.

The Finished Product

The Review

I was really surprised by how good this was.  I got a little worried as I was putting it together, but it was good.  It makes a TON of sauce.  More than you'll need unless you want yours really saucy.  Next time I will add a little more chicken and ham.  My kids all went back for seconds and thirds.  That smells like a success in my book!  I will definitely be making this again.  Grade B+.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 145: Hot Oriental Slaw

I got a reply from the Kingsford people this morning.  It was very "helpful".  Here is what they had to say:

Dear Mrs. Black,

Thank you for contacting us about your Kingsford Regular Charcoal. We always appreciate hearing from our customers.

We sincerely regret any inconvenience this problem may have caused you. We assure you that this is very unusual and would not expect this to occur. Would you please tell me if you are using the charcoal in the blue and white bag or the new competition charcoal in the tan bag? We are happy to send a coupon and you should receive it within 7-10 business days. We certainly hope you will continue to use and have confidence in our products.

Again, thank you for contacting us.

Boy, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside!  I'm getting a coupon for a product I can't really even use.  I was really hoping for a more helpful answer, but I'm afraid I'm not going to get it.  I'm still determined to use 2 bags before I pass final judgement.  I'm going to try using the Dinwiddie ring method for arranging coals.  I've messed around with a little bit, but now I'm going to get serious about it.  I'll explain it after I try it for a few days and actually understand it.  I have a great sheet that explains it really well.  I'll try and add it to the blog when I get to that point. 

Today's recipe comes from a Betty Crocker cookbook.

Hot Oriental Slaw
10" dutch oven

1 small head cabbage
2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. cornstarch
2 Tbs. vinegar
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 Tbs. grated ginger root or 1 tsp. ground ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 green onions with tops, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 med. bell pepper, chopped

Slice cabbage into thin strips.  Mix sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger root and garlic and set aside.
Heat a 10" dutch oven until hot.  Add oil and spread to cover bottom of DO.  Add cabbage, onions, carrot and bell pepper.  Stir fry about 5 minutes.  Stir in vinegar mixture.  Cook and stir until vegetables are crisp tender and sauce is thickened.  Serves 4-6.

The Finished Product

The Review

We really liked this, but then my kids really like cabbage.  It has a nice tangy flavor and the crisp veggies are good.  My nine year old daughter, Brandee, loved this.  She even had the leftovers for breakfast.  I'll make this again.  Grade B.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 144: Hot Chicken and Rice Salad

I sent an email to the folks at Kingsford yesterday telling them all about what I'm doing and the problems I'm having with their product.  I'm really hoping I get a good response from them.  I'll be disappointed if all they tell me is to try the things mentioned in the FAQ section of their site, because I've already tried them and more.  I'll have to post their reply here when I get it.  They said to expect one within 48 hours, so stay tuned!

I had a lot going on last night.  My sweet niece, against all odds, graduated from high school!  We are so proud of her!  As a result, we had a quick and easy dinner last night!  I found this at Real Mom Kitchen.  I love this blog and I check it often, especially when I can't figure out what to make for dinner!

Hot Chicken and Rice Salad
12' dutch oven

2 cups cooked chicken, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 cups of cooked rice
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup fresh mushroom, sliced (I didn't have any so I used shredded carrots)
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup corn flakes (I used Ritz crackers)
1 (4 oz) pkg slice almonds (I left these out--food allergies!)

In a bowl combine chicken, celery, rice, mayonnaise, mushrooms, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cream of chicken soup. Mix ingredients until well combined.   Pour mixture into a 12" DO and spread out evenly in the pot.  Combine corn flakes and butter until corn flakes are well coated with butter. Spoon corn flake mixture evenly over chicken/rice mixture. Bake at 400* for 15 minutes using 19 coals on top and 10 on the bottom.
Sprinkle with sliced almonds and cook 5 more minutes. Serves 6-8.

The Finished Product
The Review
I have to say, this was pretty good.  For a meal that only cooks for 15 or 20 minutes, I can't complain.  Its not something that will go into regular meal rotation, but when I need something fast, its just the ticket.  Everyone ate it and no one complained so its a success in my book.  I'll keep this one around just for busy days.  Grade B-.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day 143: Lasagna Roll Ups

I know the calender says May 24th.  I know because I checked it...twice.  Mother nature thinks it says Feb. 24th.  That is the only way that it could be snowing on May 24th.  What the heck!?!? 

Okay, now that my complaining is out of the way, lets get down to business.  I am really not liking the switch to Kingsford charcoal.  As I was cooking last night, I did everything exactly the same way I always do.  Used the same number of coals and placed them the same way on my oven.  I was set up in my garage, using charcoal that had been stored in my house.  I started the coals and put them on the oven when they were about 1/3 grey and red hot.  But they couldn't even keep at the proper temperature for 30 minutes.  How does anyone cook with these things?  What a pain to have to replace coals every 15 minutes.  I'm trying them again because I thought it was just inexperience that was the problem when I had my temper tantrum a few months back.  But now I'm starting to think that Kingsford really is the problem.  Now, I'm trying to be objective.  I've only been using them again for a few days, so I'm still trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.  And I told myself I would use 2 bags before I make any real judgements.  All I can say is that right now, things aren't looking good for Kingsford.  I think I will shoot the company an email and see what they have to say.  Please remember, I'm not passing judgement...yet.  I really am trying to give Kingsford a fair shake, but I'm afraid the frustration is leaking through---especially when we didn't eat until after 7 pm because I had to start more coals!

But enough about that!  Today's recipe is a mixture of several that I found.  Its really just a different presentation for lasagna.  Have you ever served lasagna to company and had it slide all over and turn into a mess before you can get it on the plate?  This recipe will solve that problem.  I like it because it's easier to get a nice looking serving, especially when you have company, like I do!

Lasagna Roll Ups
12" dutch oven

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 c. Spaghetti sauce


2 c. cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1 Tbsp. parsley
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
salt & pepper, to taste
Frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
9 lasagna noodles (cooked)
1-1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

In your dutch oven,over about 22 coals, cook ground beef, onion and garlic until the beef is no longer pink. Drain any excess fat from the pan. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove half of the meat sauce from the DO and set aside. In a bowl combine cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, spinach, 1/2 cup of mozzarella, and salt and pepper. Spread a little of the cheese mixture evenly over each lasagna noodle.

Roll up and place seam side down in rows in the DO. Top with remaining sauce. Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes, using 18 coals on top and 9 on the bottom.  About 5 minutes before the dish is finished cooking top with remaining shredded mozzarella cheese. Return to heat and cook until cheese has melted. 

The Finished Product

The Review

I liked these.  They taste exactly like lasagna, but the presentation is nice.  Everyone gets their own little roll up.  They are easy to serve and look harder to make than they are.  The spinach was a nice touch if I do say so myself.  They were filling, and my kids thought they were fun.  We give these a B+.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day 142: Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars

Sorry about the late post AGAIN!  We've had company all weekend and there hasn't been time to do much besides eat and laugh and visit with people I love!  We had these bars for dessert last night with a big scoop of french vanilla ice cream.  I got this recipe from a friend!

Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars
12" dutch oven

For the oatmeal layer:

2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup salted honey roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

For the chocolate layer:

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup salted honey roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

To make the oatmeal cookie layer, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whisk to blend. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium-high speed until it is soft and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Mix in the oats and peanuts with a rubber spatula until evenly combined.

Reserve 1½ cups of the mixture. Place the remaining dough in a buttered dutch oven and press over the bottom of the pan in an even layer.

To make the chocolate layer, combine the condensed milk, chocolate chips, butter and salt in an 8" or 10" dutch oven.  Slowly melt them together, stirring occasionally.  I used 5 coals under my 10" oven.  It took about 10 minutes to melt completely.  Stir occasionally until the mixture is warm and the chocolate chips and butter are melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and peanuts.

Pour the warm chocolate mixture over the oatmeal cookie layer and spread evenly. Crumble the remaining oatmeal cookie mixture and scatter evenly over the top of the chocolate.  I used my fingers.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the chocolate layer is starting to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Let cool completely. Cut into bars as desired and serve.  Serves 10-12.

The Finished Product
The Review
I really liked these!  I made them in the afternoon and served them with ice cream so it was a super easy dessert!  It also fed everyone easily with some leftover.  They are really rich, and the peanuts add a nice crunch.  Next time I'll use regular peanuts rather than the honey roasted.  I couldn't taste the sweet coating  on the nuts so I think the plain peanuts will work just as well.  These were a big hit so I'm going to keep this recipe on hand.  Grade B+.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Day 141: Spicy Chicken with Broccoli

Hi everyone!  Sorry for the late post today, I just picked up my mom-in-law from the airport, and I'm finally home.  I'm sure all of you have better things to do on a Saturday anyway.  : )
I got this recipe from a Betty Crocker cookbook.

Spicy Chicken with Broccoli
12" dutch oven

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 lb. broccoli
3 green onions with tops
1 hot green chili or 1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 Tbs. brown bean sauce (I couldn't find this so I used soy sauce)
2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp finely chopped ginger root (I used ground ginger)

Cut the chicken in chunks and mix with cornstarch, salt and white pepper.  Refrigerate 20 minutes.
Cut up broccoli into chunks and boil in water for 1 minute; drain.  Immediately rinse in cold water; drain.  Cut green onions diagonally into 1 inch pieces. 
Heat your DO until very hot.  Add 3 Tbs. oil to coat the bottom of the DO.  Add the red pepper flakes, brown bean sauce, garlic, sugar and ginger root; stir fry for 10 seconds.  Add the chicken; stir fry 2 minutes or until chicken is white.  Add the broccoli and green onions; stir fry 1 minute or until broccoli is hot.  Serves 4.

The Finished Product

The Review

This was pretty good.  I used frozen veggies so I didn't have to precook the broccoli, so that made it easier.  I also couldn't find brown beans sauce, and I know that would have made the flavor even better.  I used 1/2 tsp. of hot pepper flakes because of my little kids.  The truth is I could have cooked some chicken, thrown in a bag of stir fry veggies, some stir fry sauce and pepper flakes and it would have been just as good.  Even though we like it, I probably won't make this again just because there are easier ways to do it, and when it comes to stir fry, the easier the better.  Grade C.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day 140: Skillet Tacos

Last night I used Kingsford charcoal for the first time since about February.  I'd forgotten how tiny the briquettes are.  I've been using Sam's Choice from Walmart, and they are about double the size of Kingsford.  So I did a skillet meal, since I'm always gone Thursday nights.  I used 24 briquettes under my 12" oven.  It could have been that I was impatient and in a hurry, but it seemed to take forever to get the ground beef sizzling. 

Now I know that in theory all briquettes should be about the same, but learning to use a different brand of briquettes is like learning to use a new oven.  The new one may heat up slower, it might have hot spots in different places or the temperatures may be just a little different that the old oven you used forever.  You just have to adapt a little bit and learn how to make the new one cook just right.  Does that make any sense?  : P

Today's recipe came from Real Mom Kitchen, one of my favorite food blogs.  It is a super easy and quick one pot meal.

Taco Skillet
12" dutch oven

1 pound ground beef
1 small red onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup frozen corn
10 corn tortillas (6 inches), cut into 1-inch pieces (I use my pizza cutter to do this)
1 bottle (8 ounces) taco sauce (I used El Pato jalapeno tomato sauce)
1-1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

In your DO, cook beef and onion over 20-24 coals until meat is no longer pink; drain.
Rinse frozen corn in a colander with warm water and drain.
Add the drained corn, taco sauce, and 1 cup cheese to meat until well mixed.
Mix in tortilla pieces and heat through.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Serves 5-6

The Finished Product

The Review

In all fairness, this was good.  I just isn't a dish that meets my standard for an everyday meal.  We're really not casserole people even though I make them fairly often just because they're quick and easy. However, this would be a great camping meal.  Its made in one pot-quick and easy- just like you want when you're roughing it.  It has good flavor and you could top it with salsa, sour cream or anything you like.  So as an everyday meal, I give this a C, but as a camping meal I have to say B+.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day 139: Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a confession to make.  When I went to cook my dinner last night, I found that I only had 14 coals left.  That is just not enough to cook a 2 1/2 lb meatloaf for an hour.  So, in my shame, I had to cook this, in my dutch oven, in my oven.  For some reason, cooking dinner wasn't as much fun.  It almost seemed a drudgery.  So I am off to the store this morning so we can kick Old Mother Hubbard out of the house, and get back to some real cast iron cooking.
I also have to let you know, that Kingsford charcoal and I are making amends.  I'm swallowing my pride, eating some crow and buying another bag today.  I have two reasons for doing this.  First, if I want to enter a cook off this summer, I better learn to use Kingsford. And second, as I thought about it, I think I let the frustration and my inexperience cloud my judgment.  I'll let you know how it all works out after I've used a bag or two!
On to today's recipe!  This is probably a recipe everyone already has, but since there wasn't much left in my fridge, this is what you get.  The meatloaf recipe is off the back of a box of Lipton Onion Soup, and I dressed it up with the toppings.

Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf
12" dutch oven

1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix
2 lbs. ground beef
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs (I used oatmeal)
2 eggs
3/4 cup water (I used milk)
1/3 cup ketchup
6 bacon strips
BBQ sauce or ketchup
cheddar cheese
caramelized onions (french fried would work too)

In a large bowl, combine the soup mix, beef, bread crumbs, eggs, water and 1/3 cup ketchup.  Mix well.  Form into a loaf and put inside your dutch oven.  Top with bacon strips.  Bake at 350* for 45 minutes.  Top meatloaf with BBQ sauce or ketchup, cheese and onions and bake 10 minutes more or until meat is cooked through.  Serves 8.

The Finished Product

Sorry, I started cutting into it before I remembered to take a pic!

The Review

What is it about bacon that makes everything better?  This is the first time I've put bacon on meatloaf, and it won't be the last!  I've tried a lot of meatloaf recipes, and with the exception of the spinach stuffed one I did a while back, this is my favorite.  Even my kids liked it, and thats saying something.  This was a huge loaf, and even though there wasn't a bite left, the kids were still asking for more.  I think this will have to be my go to recipe for meatloaf.  Grade A-.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 138: Busy Day Yeast Bread

I've been doing quite a few breads lately, all in an effort to boost my confidence with making loaves of yeast breads.  I figured it is high time I try to make a real loaf of bread.  I got this recipe from Pantry Secrets.  I took a class on how to make this bread, start to finish, in 1 hour.  Now this is by no means my favorite bread recipe, but it is a God send on busy days.  Like any bread dough, it's very versatile.  I use it for braids, calzones, rolls, bread, pizza dough, bread sticks, hamburger and hot dog buns....  You get the picture.  This recipe makes 4 loaves, I cut it in half and baked it in a 12" DO.

Busy Day Yeast Bread

10 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs. salt
3 rounded Tbs. INSTANT yeast
3 Tbs. liquid lecithin (available at health food stores)
4 cups hot water

Mix the dry ingredients.  Add the lecithin, don't measure it, just pour 3 quarter sized blobs directly into the bowl.  Add the hot water.  Mix for 1 minute and check consistency.  If dough is too dry, add more water, if it is to sticky, add more flour.  Mix for 5 minutes more.  Don't add water or flour to the dough after it has finished mixing, or it will mess up the texture of the dough.  Oil your counter top and hands, and turn dough out on the counter.  Shape loaves or rolls and let rise 25 minutes.  Bake at 350* for 25 minutes.  Place on a rack to cool.  4 loaves.

The Finished Product

What I Learned

If you cook 2 loaves of bread in your 12" dutch oven as if they are one, it will take twice as long to cook.  This cooked for about an hour because it was so big.  I'm going to experiment with making 1 loaf in a 10" dutch oven and see what happens.  I'm comfortable with the process of making the dough, I've been doing that for years, my questions are about the size of oven to use, how much dough in each size oven and cooking times.  I'm pretty sure it will be a trial and error experiment!

The Review

I guess this was an okay first attempt.  It tasted good and I didn't burn it, so thats a plus.  I'm not happy with the look of the loaf.  It sunk in and I'm pretty sure it has to do with me checking to see if it was done or not.  I really need to make a trip over to Mark's Black Pot.  He has some great posts on bread making.  I'm going to keep trying until I can get a good loaf!  I won't grade this one just yet, we'll call it practice.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 137: Jam Swirl Coffee Cake

I love coffee cakes and quick breads.  They come together quickly and make great breakfasts and snacks.  Heaven knows with all my kids, there is always a shortage of snacks.  I didn't have everything I needed for this recipe, so I kind of improvised.  I hate it when I'm out of everything.  I don't bake very often, but my oldest son does.  The problem is that he doesn't tell me when we run out of something, so I don't know until I need it.  Ah well, it keeps life interesting!  I got this recipe from

Jam Swirl Coffee Cake
10" dutch oven

2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/2 cup strawberry jam

2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 Tbs. flour
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I left these out)

In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Cut in butter until it makes a fine crumbly mixture.  Add the egg and milk; stir just until combined.  Spoon batter into a greased 10" DO.  Spoon the jam over the batter, then swirl through the batter with a knife.  Mix topping ingredients with a fork until crumbly and sprinkle evenly over the batter.  Bake at 400*, using 17 coals on top and 8 on the bottom, for 30 minutes or until it tests done.  Serve 8-10.

The Finished Product

The Review

This was good, even though I was out of everything.  I only have one kind of jam left, and it isn't my favorite.  It was beet jelly that tastes a little like raspberry, but not quite enough like raspberry.  I was also out of brown sugar, and white sugar just doesn't do the same thing in a topping.  That being said, my family liked it, and the idea behind it is really good.  I think it would be best with apricot and strawberry jam or peach and raspberry.  Next time I make it, I'll also add some cinnamon and nutmeg to either the batter or the topping.  I'm giving this a B, not because my attempt deserves it, but because if it were made properly (with all the right ingredients)  it would be really good. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day 136: Honey Mustard Chicken

I'm out to work in  my garden, so just a quick post today!  I found this recipe here.  It got rave reviews on the site, so I thought I'd give it a try!

Honey Mustard Chicken
10" or 12" dutch oven

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (if they are overly thick, butterfly them)
1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbs. mustard (either yellow or Dijon, whichever you like best)
1/4 tsp. salt

Place the chicken in you DO.  In a small bowl, combine butter, honey, mustard and salt and whisk well.  Pour over chicken.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, basting every 15 minutes.  Serves 4 (unless you butterfly the chicken then you have enough for 6 or 8).

The Finished Product

I know this doesn't look very appetizing, but it was good, even though I didn't make it right.

The Review

I was prepared to give this recipe a so-so review until I read it again and realized I messed it up.  Seriously, how do you mess up a recipe with 5 ingredients?  I must have been having a blonde moment.  I was trying to double the sauce, but the only thing I doubled was the chicken and the butter.  No wonder the sauce was so thin and we could hardly taste the honey and mustard.  I really think this would be good if prepared properly : ) .  Its so simple, its ridiculous!  I had it put together in 10 minutes including butterflying the chicken!  I'm going to try this recipe again another day.  I'll reserve judgement until I make it correctly!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day 135: Emeril's German Apple Pancakes

I hope everyone is having a beautiful Sunday!  The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the bees are buzzing.  Who could ask for more?  German pancakes are a favorite at our house.  My oldest son, Colton, loves to make them.  We have them for dinner, breakfast, after school... You get the idea.  They are easy and quick, and sweet and delicious.  Since my days are so stinking busy lately, we had a quick dinner, and these were on the menu.

Emeril's German Apple Pancakes
12" dutch oven

4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 cup flour
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbs. butter
2 large apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
pinch salt
powdered sugar for  serving
maple syrup, for serving

In a large bowl, combing the eggs, milk, flour and vanilla extract and whisk until just blended.  Be careful not to over mix.  Set the batter aside to rest while you prepare the apples.
In you dutch oven, over about 20 coals, melt 2 Tbs. butter and add the apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the apples are soft and lightly golden around the edges, about 6-8 minutes.  Add the sugar and cook, stirring, until the apples are caramelized and very soft, 2-3 minutes longer.  Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and stir to melt. 
Quickly pour the batter evenly over the top of the apples.  Bake at 450*, using 22 coals on top and 11 on the bottom, for 20 minutes or until it is golden brown and puffed.  It will puff up almost to the top of your DO.  To serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with maple syrup.  Makes 1 12" pancake.

The Finished Product

I will the pic could show how puffy they are!

I  tried to get a good pic of the apple layer, but they were so soft they just fell off the spoon!

The Review

This is the best German pancake I have ever had!  It is perfectly spiced and the caramelized apples were wonderful.  I really wish I had thought this one up.  It is really easy to prepare.  This will become our new go to German Pancake recipe!  I had a hard time sharing it.  It is so sweet and good, you could serve it with ice cream as a dessert!  It would be a good camping recipe too!  We gave this an A.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day 134: Sweet Strawberry Bread

I was up until midnight making this bread.  It took longer than I thought it would, but that was my fault.  Then this morning, bright and early, I got to go play with the flowers at my friend's commercial greenhouse.  What a great day!  I love plants and growing things about as much as I love my dutch ovens!
Oh!  I keep forgetting to tell you all, I got to do an interview for a dutch oven cooking article that will appear in Airstream Life magazine.  I had a great conversation with Tom, who is a free lance writer.  He also interviewed Jack Wallace who is the director of education for IDOS.  I'm looking forward to reading the article and I'll keep you all posted with the details!  I'm glad I can help get the word out, and maybe help motivate people to try this fun style of cooking.  Thankfully, I don't have to convince any of you!
 I found today's recipe on the Internet, but I can't for the life of me remember where.  If I run across it again, I'll give credit where it is due.

Sweet Strawberry Bread
12" dutch oven

3 cups of flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
 4 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups chopped strawberries

Mix the flour, soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.  Add eggs, sugar and oil.  Mix well and carefully add the strawberries.  Pour into a greased dutch oven and bake at 350*  for 1 hour, using 14 coals on top and 10 on the bottom.  Cool 15 minutes before removing from DO. 

The Finished Product

The Review

I'm not sure how to say what I think of this bread.  This was good, but not great.  I've tried several strawberry bread recipes and they have all been less than satisfying.  I really wanted to taste the strawberries, and I just couldn't.  I guess there is no way to cook strawberries and still get the fresh, sweet/tart taste that makes them so good.  I doubled this recipe and cooked it in my 12" oven.  That was a BIG mistake.  After 2 hours of cooking, it was finally cooked through without being burned, and completely filled my oven within 1 inch of the top.  If you are going to double it, use a 14" oven.  The dough also grossed me out.  It was so thick before I put the berries in that it looked like oily play dough.  Once the berries were in it took on the right "banana bread batter" consistency.  I probably shouldn't sound so negative about it, because it was pretty good.  I can just think of many other ways I would rather use strawberries.  Grade C-.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day 133: Strawberry Breakfast Braid

We have another glorious day on tap, and I'm anxious to finish planting my garden!  So here is today's recipe.  It is a favorite at my house.  I get up early on Christmas morning to make this, and my kids love it as an after school snack!

Strawberry Breakfast Braid
14" dutch oven

1 loaf of you favorite bread dough (Rhoade's works great!)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 jar strawberry jam

Roll the bread dough into a 10 x 14 rectangle.  Along each long side, cut strips 1" wide and about 1/3 of the way into the dough.  (See picture)  Mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Spread down the center of the dough.  Spoon the jam over the cream cheese.  Now fold the strips over the filling, alternating sides to form a braid.  Try to enclose as much of the filling as you can so it won't leak out during baking.  Pinch the ends closed.  Transfer to your dutch oven and allow to rise for 25 minutes.  Bake at 350* for 25 minutes or until golden brown.  Use 16 coals on top and 12 on the bottom.  Serves 6-8.

The Finished Product

The Review

These are really good.  You can make them with any kind of jam you want.  Homemade strawberry and apricot are our favorites.  You could also use pie filling in place of the jam.  This is something we make all the time because it is so easy.  Remember to roll the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper that has been cut to fit the bottom of your DO.  Not only does it make transferring the braid to the pan easier, but it serves as a guide for size.  Grade A.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Day 132: Apple Dumplings

I'm in a hurry to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather we are finally having.  I have a room full of plants that are desperate to be planted, and I can't wait to plant them.  The garden beckons! 
I really should have saved this recipe for fall when apples are in season, but these dumplings looked too delicious to pass up.  This recipe comes from the Pioneer Woman.

Apple Dumplings
12" dutch oven

2 whole Granny Smith Apples
2 cans (8 Oz. Cans) Crescent Rolls
2 sticks Butter
1-½ cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
Cinnamon, To Taste
1 can (12 Oz.) Mountain Dew Soda

Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into 8 slices each. Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place in a 12"  buttered dutch oven.
In an 8" or 10" DO, melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir. You will only need a few coals for this, I used 8, since you only need to melt the butter, not cook the mixture.  Add vanilla and stir, you want the mixture lumpy and grainy, so just barely stir.  Pour entire mixture over apples. Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees, using 10 coals on the bottom and 14 on top, for 40 minutes, or until the tops are golden. Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the pan over the top.  Serves 8.

The Finished Product

The Review

Oh, they were sweet.  They were gooey. They were delicious.  They were easy.  They were perfect.  They need to be made regularly.  Really, they do.  These were so easy, they would be a great camping dessert.  I might have spent 10 minutes putting them together, and it took a lot less time than that to devour them.  They are really rich, so ice cream is a must.  I will be making these again!  Grade A.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day 131: Carne Guisada

I realized this afternoon, that I forgot to do a make-up post last night, so I made sure to remember to do it today.  This isn't one of the dishes I made when my computer was down.  I actually made this for dinner tonight.  It was too good not to post right away.  I got this recipe from Omar Alvarez.  He made this for the "taste of dutch" at the IDOS Spring Convention.  I got to cook next to him, so I got to watch him make it.  He said this recipe is one of the oldest Tex-Mex recipes.  It is made for weddings, parties and special occasions.  My 7 year old daughter brought some of this home from a birthday party she went to for one of her friends who is Hispanic.  It was made with goat, and it was fantastic.  This recipe uses beef, and it can be served with tortillas, rice, or (per Omar's recommendation) mashed potatoes.

Carne Guisada
10" dutch oven

1 lb. beef cubes  (sirloin steak or even stew meat)
chopped onion
cumin, to taste
salt and pepper to taste
2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
garlic powder to taste
1 can Ro-Tel

Brown the meat in a small amount of oil, add the onions and spices, and let the onions cook down.  Add the tomato sauce and simmer over medium heat until the meat is tender (I cooked mine for 2 hours).   You can add flour or cornstarch to the sauce it you want it thicker.  I did all this over 15 coals, and I replenished about half the coals half way through cooking. You want enough coals to keep it at a simmer, not a hard boil, so watch it for the first few minutes.  Serves 3.

The Finished Product

Sorry, but the picture just doesn't do this one justice, it was fantastic!!

The Review

This is another recipe that would be in my top 10 for the year.  This was amazing.  The meat was so tender it melted in my mouth.  I was skeptical about having it over mashed potatoes, but I have to say, it worked.  I had it with tortillas at Spring Convention, but it was better with potatoes.  They don't seem like they would go together, but they really did.  Other than the long cooking time, the prep time is 10-15 minutes.  I was amazed at how long my coals lasted.  After an hour of cooking it was still just simmering away and I only had to replace half the coals.  This will make a regular appearance at our table.  This gets a capitol A!

Day 130: Country Potato Chowder

Good Morning everyone!  I'm running late this morning (shocking, I know), so just a quick post!
I got this recipe from a Taste of Home magazine.  It has been cold and rainy here and I saw that as an excuse to make soup one more time before summer comes, which should be tomorrow.

Country Potato Chowder
12" dutch oven

6 bacon strips, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
1/4 cup flour
1 quart half and half
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 cubes
2 cans cream of celery soup
2 Tbs. dried parsley flakes
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. season salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup fresh or frozen green beans, cut into 2" pieces
1 can cream style corn

In your dutch oven, over 18-20 coals, cook the bacon until crisp; remove from pot and drain on paper towels.  Drain all but 2 Tbs. of the grease.  In the drippings, saute the onion and celery until tender.  Sprinkle with flour and stir until blended.  Gradually add the cream.  Stir in the potatoes, soup, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute.  Reduce heat (I took a few coals off); cover and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the carrots and beans.  Cover and simmer 15 minutes longer or until the vegetables are tender.  Stir in the corn and bacon, heat through.  I added about 10 coals for the last 15 minutes of cooking.  Serves 12.

The Finished Product

The Review

This was pretty good.  It wasn't my favorite soup ever.  It also took a lot longer to cook than the recipe shows.  We were all starving by the time it was ready.  I certainly have better veggie soup recipes and I probably won't make this again.  If I do, it will be one of those "once every couple of years" recipes.  It was kind of a pain since it took so long to cook. I was disappointed.  This soup gets a C-.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day 129: Creamy Tomato Pasta

First thing this morning, I have to apologize for the stupid ads that now appear on my blog.  I was trying to stay "ad free", but the cost of charcoal and food are adding up.  I'm going through about 6 bags a month, sometimes more.  Seriously, we have never eaten this good.  My kids are getting really spoiled.  They are used to a couple of days a week of leftovers or a "fend for your self" night (at least for the older children).  Those have been few and far between this year. : ) 
I found this recipe on a site called Summer's Recipes.  I really like homemade Alfredo sauce.  I have several recipes for it, but I haven't found the perfect Alfredo recipe yet.  Of course, even the worst homemade recipe trumps the best Alfredo sauce from a jar.

Creamy Tomato Pasta
10" dutch oven

1 cup Alfredo sauce (recipe follows)
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
4-5 cups cooked pasta  (I used penne)
3 cups vegetables, cooked al dente
shredded Parmesan cheese

Alfredo sauce
3 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. flour
2 cups whole milk
4 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

In your DO, over about 15 coals, boil water and cook the veggies.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add pasta to the same pot, and cook until al dente.  Drain water  and set pasta aside.  In the same DO, make the sauce.  Melt the butter and whisk in the flour.  Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly.  Add the cream cheese and whisk to combine.  Allow cream cheese to melt and the sauce to heat without boiling.  Add the Parmesan cheese.  Simmer until it is melted.  Add the salt, garlic powder and pepper to taste.  Remove all but 1 1/2 cups of sauce from the DO.  Add the pasta, veggies and tomatoes to the sauce and mix well.  Add more sauce if you like it creamier.  Top with shredded Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350*, using 12 coals on top and 8 on the bottom, for 20-25 minutes.  Serves about 6.

The Finished Product

The Review

This was good.  The tomatoes gave it a nice pink color that was really pretty.  The sauce was good, but it isn't the recipe I'm looking for.  I know there is the perfect Alfredo sauce recipe out there.  Maybe adding some Romano cheese.  Overall, the sauce was a little bland.  Somewhere it needs some herbs or something to enhance the flavor.  I think this recipe has potential, and the sauce will be what makes the difference.  I did add a little leftover cooked chicken I had in the fridge.  Your could also use ham, or shrimp would be really good.  I'm going to give this one a B-, but I'm going to work on it and see if I can make it better.  What is your favorite Alfredo recipe?  Do you have a great one?  If you do, please share!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Day 128: Butter Flake Dinner Rolls

I'm glad I can post these back recipes.  I've been afraid I'd lose the recipe,or forget where I put it, or worse yet, that I'd put it away in my recipe drawer with all the other loose papers.  This is a recipe that I almost have memorized.  These rolls are one of the first yeast breads that I ever learned to make.  They are almost fool proof.  I have yet to have them not turn out.  These are the rolls that I take to Thanksgiving dinner every year and to neighbors when they are sick.  Anyone can make these.

Butter Flake Dinner Rolls
14" dutch oven

1/2 cup warm water
1 Tbs. yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup warm milk
3/4 cup softened butter, divided
4-5 cups flour

Dissolve the yeast in warm water.  Add the sugar and let stand for 5 minutes.  Add salt, eggs, milk and 1/2 cup butter.  Mix in 4-5 cups of flour, or enough to form a very soft dough.  It will be pretty sticky.  Cover and let rise until doubled. 
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and divide in half.  Roll each half into a circle and spread with additional 1/4 melted butter.  Cut into wedges as if you were cutting a pizza.  Roll each triangle into a crescent roll and place in a greased DO.  Let rise 45 minutes.  Bake at 350*, using 11 coals on the bottom and 17 on top, for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from heat and brush tops with melted butter.  Serves 8-10.

The Finished Product

The Review

These are some of my favorite rolls.  I honestly can't make any other rolls, they just never turn out, but I know that these will always be perfect.  They are light and buttery.  My kids make peanut butter sandwiches out of the leftovers since they stay so soft.  They are also pretty.  They took longer to cook in my DO, so when you make them, check them after 20 minutes, but know that they will probably take closer to 30-35 minutes.  I just realized that when I cooked mine, I used too few coals, hence the longer cooking time.  With the right heat they should only take 20-25 minutes.Since these are the only rolls I can get to work, I give them an A.

Day 127: Banana Zucchini Bread

Hello everyone, and welcome back!  My computer has returned to the land of the living a few days ahead of schedule.  I have to give a heartfelt thanks to my bro-in-law, John.  He is our resident computer nerd who can fix just about anything.  He spent 7 hours cleaning up a couple of nasty viruses that had completely hijacked my computer.  I couldn't open anything.  And God bless him, he saved nearly every document and picture I had.  He even added a few new goodies to my computer, including an awesome new anti-virus program that has already paid for itself this morning by blocking 2 viruses.
It will take me a day or two to post the back recipes so for a few days you will get 2 recipes a day, one in the morning and one in the evening.    Today's recipe came from a church cookbook.  I had some leftover zucchini from the last zucchini bread, so I thought I would use it in another bread recipe.  I am pretty sure it is my new favorite zucchini bread. 

Banana Zucchini Bread
12" dutch oven

3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamon (optional)
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1 T. vanilla
3/4-1 tsp. rum extract
2 cups mashed over-ripe bananas
2 cups fresh zucchini, shredded

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the first 6 dry ingredients and whisk to blend well.  In another mixing bowl, combine the oil, eggs, sugar, vanilla and rum extract, and mix well.  Stir in the bananas, zucchini and nuts.  Add the dry mixture, stirring until it is just moistened.  Prepare your dutch oven by greasing well with vegetable shortening.  Pour batter into your DO.  Preheat your lid.  Bake at 350*, using 14 coals on top and 10 on the bottom, for 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.    I replenished about half of the coals after 40 minutes.  Cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

The Finished Product

The Review

This is the best zucchini bread I have ever had.  The bananas make it really moist.  The Rum extract was what really added the flavor.  It was sooo good!  This recipe made 1- 8 x 4 bread pan (that I cooked in my oven) and a 12" DO full of bread.  I think you could do the entire recipe in a 14" oven or in 2- 10" ovens.  However you cook it, it will be delish!  This will go in my "tried and true" file.  Grade A.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sorry, My Computer Died!

Sorry everyone, my computer finally died.  It's being fixed, but it will be a week before I can post anything again.  Don't worry, I'll keep on cooking, and when I come back, you'll have a whole bunch of new recipes to try!  If I can make it to the library, I'll post what I can.

See you all soon!

Day 126: Italian Snack Bread with Caramelized Onions

Hi everyone!  I am now sitting at the public library thanks to my stupid computer.  What a time for it to try and die.  I've got someone who can hopefully fix it.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!  Since I have to hurry-- here is today's recipe.  Somehow, I always seem to make these flat breads.  My kids love them.  They even ate this with onions all over it!

Italian Snack Bread with Caramelized Onions
12" dutch oven

2 1/2 cups flour, divided
1 pkg. active dry yeast
2 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup warm water
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1 tsp. coarse salt, optional

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, yeast, oregano and slat.  Stir in water, oil and egg; mix well. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.  Cover and let rest 10 minutes.  Pat into your greased DO.  In a 10" dutch oven, saute the onions in oil until tender.  I used 12-15 coals for this.  Spoon onions evenly over the dough.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.  Bake at 400* for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cut into squares and serve.  Serves 8.

The Finished Product

The Review

I really liked these.  The onions were a nice addition.  They gave the bread nice flavor, so did the herbs.  My kids even ate them.  I served these with Chicken Piccata, and it was yummy!  I'll make these again.  Grade B.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Day 125: Baked Garlic Rice Pilaf

We have a beautiful day on tap in my neck of the woods!  It is about time, too.  Today I get to go have some floral therapy.  A friend of mine owns a commercial greenhouse, and every spring I get to go play with the flowers.  It makes me happy and is cheaper than a shrink!  Then, I get to come home and cook in my dutch ovens!  Does it get better than that?  Maybe if I was cooking on the beach...
I saw today's recipe on a website I bumped into a while ago.  I forgot to bookmark it, so I did this from memory.  It is super simple, so have it with dinner tonight!

Baked Garlic Rice Pilaf
10" dutch oven

2 Tbs. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup long grain white rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice

In your DO, over about 15 coals, melt the butter.  Add the garlic and rice to the pot and cook until the rice is golden brown, about 4-5 minutes.  Stir in 1 cup of chicken broth, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.  Bake at 350*, using 12 coals on top and 8 on the bottom, for 25 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups chicken broth and bake for another 45 minutes.  At this point, I put on new coals.  About 15 minutes before it is finished cooking, stir in a squeeze of lemon juice.  Serves 4-6.

The Finished Product

The Review

This was really good.  The rice was nice and sticky, and had a lot of garlic flavor.  I think next time I will cut down the garlic just a little bit.  This went great with the Asian entree I made.  I will make this again.  I think some slivered almonds would also be good in it.  My kids ate seconds and sometimes thirds of this one.  That is a glowing endorsement.  We gave it a B+.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Day 124: Tomato-Zucchini Bread

Good Morning, everyone!  I am off to work in my garden so that in a few months I can cook all those yummy veggies in my DO!  I can't wait!  I got today's recipe from a Campbell's cookbook.  You know the little ones they sell at the checkout counter at the grocery store.  Every once in a while I find a gem of a recipe in these unassuming little books.
I am thrilled at how easy breads are getting.  Granted, this is a quick bread, so its easier by nature.  This recipe makes 2 loaves if you use bread pans, but I just dumped it all in my 10" DO and let it cook.  Easy as pie, or in this case bread.

Tomato-Zucchini Bread
10" dutch oven

3 cups flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 can (103/4 oz) condensed tomato soup
6 egg whites
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 small zucchini, shredded
1 cup raisins (I left these out)

Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda and baking power.  Set aside.  Mix sugar, soup, egg whites, oil and vanilla.  Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened.  Fold in zucchini and raisins.  Pour into a lightly greased DO.  (I always grease bread pans with Crisco shortening.)  Bake at 350*, using 12 coals on top and 8 on the bottom, for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Be sure to preheat your DO lid and remove a few bottom coals about 2/3 of the way through cooking to avoid over browning the bottom. 

The Finished Product

The Review

This was just your average zucchini bread.  There really wasn't anything special about it.  I really couldn't taste the tomato at all.  It was nice and moist, but it just wasn't very memorable.  I have better zucchini bread recipes.  Even though it was good, I probably won't make it again.  This recipe gets a C.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Day 123: Monterrey Chicken

Sorry about posting this late.  I've been having some computer problems, and apparently duct tape won't help.  I'll keep my fingers crossed that this old dinosaur won't die.  That would be very, very bad! 
I made another recipe that would be in my top ten list.  It is a variation of the Smothered Chicken I did a while ago.  This time I used home made BBQ sauce, and it was really good!  I combined a couple of recipes to get this one.  The BBQ sauce recipe came from Picky Palate.

Monterrey Chicken
10" dutch oven

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 bacon strips, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 cup BBQ sauce (recipe below)
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

Cook the bacon in your dutch oven until crisp.  I used about 18 coals for this.  Set aside to drain on paper towels.  Drain all but about 1 Tbs. of grease.  Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides and add to the DO.  Bake at 350*, using 12 coals on top and 8 on the bottom, for about 20-25 minutes.  Smother the chicken in BBQ sauce on both sides and return to the DO for another 5 minutes or until they are cooked through.  Evenly top each breast with bacon and cheese.  Cook for about 5 minutes to let the cheese melt.  Top each breast with green onions and tomatoes.  Serves 4.

BBQ Sauce

1 1/4 cups ketchup
3 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
4 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. lemon juice
3 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
1 tsp. honey

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

The Finished Product

The Review

These were oh, so good.  I could eat them everyday.  I really should have made more, even though I doubled the recipe, there still wasn't enough.  The BBQ sauce is my new "go to" sauce.  It is simple to make, and tastes great.  This is another recipe that should be on your "must try" list.  Everyone should make this at least once, but I will guarantee that once won't be enough!  Of course, this gets an A!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Day 122: Chicken Rolls

My 7 year old daughter, Brinlee, begged me to make these for dinner last night.  They are one of her favorite meals.  I like them because they're easy to make.  Easy is always good in my book.

Chicken Rolls
10" dutch oven

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls
1 cup dry stuffing mix with seasoning, finely crushed (I used Stove Top)
1/4 cup melted butter
Chicken gravy (I used cream of chicken soup thinned with milk)

Mix the chicken and cream cheese until well combined.  Unroll the crescent rolls and separate.  Flatten out each roll, stretching them just a little bit.  Place 2-3 Tbs. of filling on each roll and wrap the pointed end of the roll around to fully enclose the filling.  Pinch to seal any gaps.  Dip each roll into butter and roll in stuffing crumbs.  Bake at 350*, using 12 coals on top and 8 on the bottom, for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with gravy.

The Finished Product

The Review

These rolls are a staple at our house.  Everyone loves them and I always have the ingredients on hand.  These are comfort food for us.  There are always cheers when they are on the menu.  The stuffing mix gives them a nice flavor.  These got a little too brown, but they still tasted good.  They should have been a nice golden color.  We give these a B.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Day 121: Strawberry and Green Apple Crisp

I love using seasonal produce.  Everything tastes fresher and has a fuller flavor.  Lately, my fridge has been loaded with spinach, carrots, cabbage and strawberries.  Asparagus is next on the list as soon as the local growers begin their harvest.  After suffering through an entire winter of imported fruits and veggies, its all I can do to contain myself when spring finally hits.  I just planted 75 new baby strawberry plants and my asparagus is just starting to push up through the soil.  My mouth is starting to water!  Today's recipe came from a site called Tasty Sensations, and is chock full of fresh strawberries.  I love that it is a little bit healthier version of this dessert.  It calls for whole wheat flour, but if you don't keep it on hand, don't let it keep you from trying this recipe, just use all purpose flour.

Strawberry and Green Apple Crisp
10" dutch oven

 4 cups thinly sliced Granny Smith apples
1 cup strawberries, sliced thick
3/4 cup oats
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
5 Tbs. butter, nearly melted
1 Tbs. chopped walnuts (optional--I left these out, I'm allergic)

Place cut fruit in you oiled DO.  Mix the dry ingredients, pouring nearly melted butter over mixture and work through with a fork until the mixture becomes crumbly.  Top with walnuts if desired.  Pour mixture over fruit and spread evenly.  Bake at 375*, using 16 coals on top and 7 on the bottom, for 35 minutes.  Serve warm.  Serves 6.

The Finished Product

This dessert is so good, I had to post 2 pics!

The Review

This recipe is definitely in my top 10 favorites so far this year.  There is no way to describe how good this is.  The flavors of the strawberries and apples compliment each other perfectly.  It is sweet and perfectly spiced.  The strawberries also give the apples a beautiful red tint.  I wanted to lick the pot clean.  I will make this several more times in the next few weeks.  I can't think of a better way to take advantage of strawberry season!  Grade:  A.

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