Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Harvard Beets

I love Harvard Beets.  There is just something about the sweet tangy sauce, and the memories that come to mind of my dad when I make these.  I think I have always liked them.  My kids do eat them but it has taken years for them to actually enjoy the beets.  There were many times I would say just take one bite, but now they will serve themselves a helping without any prompting from me.  I usually eat this with my favorite comfort meal....pork chops baked in mushroom soup, rice and Harvard beets.  The combination of that mushroom gravy, the rice and the beets is delicious and when you pile that all onto one bite on top of a little pork for me it is heaven.  Last night I did not make my comfort meal.  I was planning a roasted chicken with potatoes and beets but my plans got de-railed when an unexpected 3 hour errand had to be taken care of.  So on my way out the door I threw the chicken in the crock pot and poured a can of green chili sauce over the top.  Even doing that it was still 7:00 at night before we were eating!  Dinner was delicious though.  I shredded that chicken up, thickened the green chili sauce like a gravy and put the chicken back into it.  Fried come crispy diced potatoes and made the Harvard beets.  We ate that green chili chicken over the crispy potatoes and had the beets on the side...and it was good!  This is a good time of year for this post because of all the garden produce coming available.  I will walk you through the raw beet from your garden rather than making these from a can.  There are no additives to these beets and they tasted just as good as the canned variety.  Of course you can use canned beets ... just skip the first few steps if you do.

First I washed the dirt off the beets and cut off the stem and the root ends.  Then I took a vegetable peeler and peeled the skins off the beets.  I find by doing it this way there is less of a mess with the beet juice then boiling them with the skins on.  I diced the beets and put them into my pressure cooker and covered them with water.  I have included a picture of my pressure cooker because I just love it!  It is the perfect size and cooks these so fast....the only drawback?  Little splatters of beet juice in the kitchen from the spray of steam coming out - but easy to handle with a little clean up!
Once the pressure was built up I cooked the beets for 25 minutes.  I turned off the heat on the stove and let it sit until the pressure was released...about 5 minutes.
These are my cooked beets and beautiful beet juice. 
Separate your beets from your juice saving your liquid.
Since I did this early in the morning I covered the dishes with plastic and put them in the fridge, but this would be an excellent time to make the Harvard beets while things are still hot. Fortunately for me I had them cooked early or they would not have made it
 to the dinner table last night. 

Here is where I went wrong......in my rush to make dinner because it was so late, I completely forgot about wanting to post this recipe on the blog.  So, unfortunately the pictures stop here.  BUT I decided to post the recipe anyway because anyone who likes to read a food blog probably likes to cook and can follow a simple recipe.  My recipe comes from my favorite Better Homes and Garden's cook book.  I have made no changes to this recipe so it is technically theirs.

Harvard Beets

4 regular beets or 1 (16 oz) can of beets
2 T. Sugar
2 T. Vinegar
2 tsp. Cornstarch
1 T. Margarine or Butter

(I have already given you instructions above for cooking fresh beets)
Drain liquid from beets reserving 1/3 C. of the liquid.  In a medium saucepan combine the reserved liquid, sugar, vinegar, and cornstarch.  Cook until thick.  Stir in butter and beets. Cook and stir until beets are heated through.  Makes 4 servings.

I hope you enjoy Harvard Beets as much as I do.  If it is something new then give it a try - you might be surprised at how much you like them!

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Last night I made Salsa.  I didn't take any pictures because I didn't plan on posting the recipe....but....when I took the salsa to a church pot luck I received several compliments and request for the recipe so I figured I would put it on here and let everyone have it....after all that was the whole point of the blog.   This came from my friend Tenaly Bleak.....and every time I make it I have someone tell me it is the best they have ever had.  Here is what I did....I will say if I didn't have the onion salt I used onion powder - I didn't use garlic salt because I used a lot of garlic..so there you have it with my substitutions.  Hope you like the Salsa!

5 (28 oz) cans Crushed Tomatoes
1 Chopped Onion
1 Chopped Green Pepper
1 (4 oz) can Diced Jalapenos
1 Bunch Cilantro
5 heaping T. Minced Garlic
1 tsp. Onion Salt
1 tsp. Celery Salt
1 tsp. Garlic Salt
1 tsp. Black Pepper

I put all the ingredients into the largest bowl I own - whatever you use it needs to hold more than a gallon with room to mix....use a clean bucket if you have to.  Then take a hand blender and mix it all up. If you do not own a hand blended then you can use a regular blender in smaller batches until you get it all run through - then you can mix it together with a spoon.  I use a hand blender, mix it all up really good and it is done - ready to eat.  You can adjust the ingredients to your taste but this is a good one.  If you don't like Cilantro you may not want to put it in but for me I don't like a chunky salsa - I like a smooth one and this fits the bill....just like what you get at a Mexican restaurant!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Taco Quiche

This recipe is my personal creation.  I came up with it while trying to enter the Pillsbury Bake Off contest.  I have yet to be selected...but I love to try.  It would be my all time cooking accomplishment to get to go to the Pillsbury Bake Off as a contestant. Even though Pillsbury didn't want my Taco Quiche my family does.  It is a really good recipe that I think you will also enjoy.  I start with a box of pre made pie crust.  It comes with 2 crusts inside.  Let's face it....you could make your own crust, but for me I don't really like pie crust.  I much prefer what is inside the crust, so that is where I focus my energy and attention. I don't like a lot of edge on the crust so I fold it down short .
In a mixing bowl I crack 8 eggs
Add a small (4 oz) can of diced green chilies
And grate 8 oz of your favorite cheese - I like Colby Jack
Mix it all up with a fork
Brown 1 lb of ground beef, drain off the fat, and add your favorite taco seasoning according to package directions.  I buy my taco seasoning in bulk so I added 1 1/2 T. seasoning and 1/2 C water.
At this point I quickly stir my hot taco meat into my egg mixture.  Yes I know the meat is hot.  No I do not temper my eggs.  It's just going to cook anyway so I don't mind if that hot meat starts cooking the eggs.....so stir it into the egg mixture quickly
and pour half into each pie crust.
Bake at 375* for 40 minutes - until eggs are set. 
While it is baking prepare some toppings.  Today I used black olives, tomato, green onion, sour cream, salsa.....
you can use whatever you like on your tacos.
When the quiche is done it looks like this...
And with some toppings it looks like this...
This recipe is exactly how I like to cook.  Fast, simple, not too expensive, but tastes great.  I hope you give this one a try.  Even if you are a smaller sized family it is worth it because the leftovers heat up like a dream and you could even freeze one of them for another day!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Salad Dressings

Tomorrow I am going to visit family and my assignment is a big green salad.  I like adding all those fun things into the salad like olives, banana peppers, broccoli - whatever my little heart desires.  Also I am not much of a ranch fan.  I will eat ranch dressing if it is that or blue cheese - because in my opinion blue cheese is yucky.  I much prefer a variety of dressings like Dorothy Lynch, Raspberry Vinaigrette, or Pomegranate.  I also really like these three homemade dressings that I made today to bring with my big green salad.  I had all the ingredients on hand which was an added bonus - so hopefully you will also.  The first one I made was an Oriental Poppy Seed Dressing, then a Tomato/French Dressing followed by a "Olive Garden" Italian Dressing.

Oriental Poppy Seed Dressing
(from my friend JoAlice)

4 T. Sugar
4 T. Rice Wine Vinegar
1/4 C. Oil
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Poppy Seeds

Combine all ingredients and mix with a hand blender. 
 Makes about 4 oz. dressing.

Tomato/French Dressing
(from my friend Carolyn)

1/3 C. Ketchup
1/3 C. Sugar
1/3 C. Vinegar
2/3 C. Oil
2 T. Worcestershire Sauce
2 T. Onion Flakes
1/2 tsp Pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix with a hand blender.
Makes about 8 oz dressing.

"Olive Garden" Italian Dressing
(from RecipeCottage.com)

1 1/2 C. Italian Salad Dressing
2 T. grated Parmesan Cheese
2 T. Sugar
1 Egg
2 T. Mayonnaise
1/4 C. Oil

Combine Salad Dressing, Cheese, Sugar, Egg and Mayonnaise in the top of a double boiler and mix together with a hand blender until well combined.  Whisk in Oil and cook on top of a double boiler for about 10 minutes whisking occasionally until dressing is thick and egg is cooked.  Makes about 14 oz dressing. 
Refrigerate overnight before serving.


With summer in full swing try a little something different on your salad.  The Oriental dressing is really good if you place a teriyaki chicken breast on top of your salad greens, add some green onion, toasted almonds, diced tomato and pour some Oriental dressing on top.  The Tomato/French dressing is really good on a spinach salad.  Be creative!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

Weather you are a vegetarian or not there are times when you just don't want to eat meat.  For me that really happens when it is so hot outside.  Where I live this has been a very hot summer.  Unfortunately I did not make this dish for my family, so I didn't get to eat it tonight.  I have a friend who eats a gluten free diet and is mostly meat free.  She was in need of a little help and I volunteered dinner tonight - so I wanted something hearty that her husband would like to eat but vegetarian and gluten free for her to eat. I made a mushroom and artichoke stuffed pepper.  I also served it with a light Caprese Salad.  I didn't find the basil leaves that I wanted so I used Cilantro.  I happen to prefer cilantro over basil - but I think my friend would prefer basil.  She might have picked some from her garden and added it to the salad.  It is a simple arrangement of mozzarella cheese and tomato slices with olive oil drizzled on top and on this one chopped cilantro.
I think it probably needed some acid - so I might add some balsamic vinegar to it if I make it again.  For the Stuffed peppers I put a little olive oil in a pan and added 1 container of chopped mushrooms.
I let those cook a little while I roughly chopped a can of artichoke hearts and added them to the mushrooms.
I let that cook a minute or two and combined it all together.
I added about 3 C. Cooked Brown Rice and mixed it up.
I then poured 3/4 jar of Bertolli Vidalia Onion Spaghetti sauce over the rice mixture and stirred it up.
I cut 2 bell peppers in half and put them in my dish - today I used a disposable dish since I was giving it away.  I filled up those peppers, and filled in all around the pan with the rice mixture.  Then I took that remaining 1/4 jar of sauce and poured it on top.  I covered the dish with foil and baked at 350* for 1 hour. 
This was taken pre-cooking - I didn't open the foil after it was cooked - but I did save a bite of that rice mixture for me to taste and it was really good.  I think I will have to make this for myself sometime...
when my husband is out of town.
(he is not a stuffed pepper fan or a vegetarian fan)