Tuesday, March 10, 2015

California Bean and Barley Soup


  about 7 cups water
1 pound pork pieces or ham chunks
1 1/2 cups dried pinto beans or Great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
1/2 cup pearl barley
3 cloves garlic, minced
 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
1 large russet potato, peeled and medium diced
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon or salt to taste
2 teaspoons Greek seasoning
 Freshly ground black pepper
  1 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, with juice
 Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Directions :

Put 7 cups water, the pork, beans, barley, garlic, carrots, celery, potatoes, onions, bay leaf,  Greek seasoning blend, salt and some pepper in a slow cooker. Squeeze the tomatoes through your hands over the pot to break them down, and add with their juices. Cover and cook on high until the beans are tender and the soup is thick, about 8 hours.

Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle each serving with olive oil.
Serve with crusty bread

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pork, Potato and Cabbage Soup

Winter is hanging on here in east Texas and there's nothing more comforting than a pipping hot bowl of soup. This soup is one of my favorites. Enjoy!

Serves 6 to 8

1 pound pork stew meat or any pork cut into bite size pieces
4 slices thick bacon, diced medium
 1 onion, chopped, any size you like ( I use Spanish)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
6 cups chicken stock
1 28 ounce can stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 medium head cabbage, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon (or less) coarsely ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

In a Dutch oven or stock pot, over medium high heat, add bacon, onion and garlic and cook until tender. Add pork and cook  until no longer pink.  Drain fat. Stir in stock, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage and seasonings. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes, or until cabbage is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve hot with toasty bread.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hamburger Steaks with Swiss Cheese, Mushrooms and Onions

 There's nothing more comforting than a good old fashioned hamburger steak for dinner. And I'm sure there are as many family recipes for them as there are people in this world. This is mine. Hope you enjoy!

2 slices bread ( I used sour dough)
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef 
1/2 small white onion. minced 
 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon course ground pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
1 (8-oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium-size sweet onion, sliced 
4 slices Swiss cheese 


Place bread slices into a food processor and pulse into breadcrumbs. Add breadcrumbs and all other ingredients in a mixing bowl. Using clean or gloved hands or a wooden spoon, mix ingredients together until well combined and form into 4 equal size patties.

Place hamburger steaks in a non stick pan (or use cooking spray) over medium high heat. Cook on each side until done to your liking  Remove patties from pan. Add oil to the hot pan and add in mushrooms and onions. Sauté until tender. Place patties on plates, add cheese and top with hot mushrooms and onions. Add your favorite garnish. I love sliced jalapenos. Imagine that : ) Enjoy!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

California Girl's French Bread Pizza

I love buying the day old french bread from Wal Mart. I pay as little as 60 cents a loaf for this beautiful bread, which is still perfectly delicious. I have to give a shout out to the absolutely lovely girls working in the bakery who do such a wonderful job putting out all the wonderful goodies like it's nothing. My favorite thing to do with it is French Bread Pizza. Out of this world yummy and so simple to make. There's no right or wrong here. Use what you have on hand or like best...Italian sausage, ground beef, pepperoni, peppers, onions, olives...you name it, you can't go wrong. Add a  little cheese and pasta sauce and dinner is done! And next time you're in a bakery, think of all the hard work that goes into all the baked goods we take for granted. I hope you enjoy this idea! xx

1 loaf French bread (1 pound loaf)
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced 
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, ground beef or a mixture of (or, ground chicken, pork or turkey, also)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
12 to 15 ounces pasta sauce (you favorite, chunky or plain)
 1 8 ounce package shredded mozzarella cheese or your choice

Add your favorites: pepperoni,  mushrooms, black olives, tomato slices, jalapenos, etc.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
Slice French bread into length wise. Set aside. In a large skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. When oil is hot, add onions, garlic and peppers. Stir and cook until vegetables are tender, but still have a slight crunch. Remove from pan. Set aside. To the same skillet, add ground meat and cook until no longer pink.Return the vegetables to the pan and stir Add Italian seasoning. Add pasta sauce and stir to combine. Let cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes.

To Assemble:
Spoon meat and vegetable mixture on each slice of French bread equally. Add on other toppings as desired. Sprinkle cheese on each slice and bake in a 400 degree oven for 12 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is toasted. To serve, slice each piece of bread into 4 pieces. Serve with red pepper flakes and a crispy salad.

Balsamic Mushroom and Onions

You can use just about any mushroom you desire with this recipe. From white button to Cremini to Shiitake. All have wonderful flavor and go well with balsamic vinegar. These mushrooms go perfect with beef or chicken and serve as a quick and easy topping or side to any dinner plate. I think they're delicious! Enjoy!


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 8 ounce packages of  mushrooms, halved  (You can also mix two varieties of mushrooms)
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon. salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (A splash more for a tangier taste)
 In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onions, salt and  pepper and stir. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Pour off liquid from pan and continue to cook until onions are tender. Add balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Cook another 3 minutes and serve immediately. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Breakfast Stacks

Ingredients for the hash browns:
Serves 4
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and grated with the largest hole on a box grater
Salt and pepper to taste
Remove as much excess moisture from grated potatoes as possible by squeezing them through clean paper towels. Add oil to a large frying pan and heat over medium high heat until oil is hot. Add a circles of shredded potatoes to the pan and fry until golden brown and crispy on each side. .Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Salt and pepper to taste.

For the eggs and ham: 
Use 1 egg and 1 slice of ham per stack.
Using the same skillet, remove as much oil as possible and add butter. Turn heat back on to medium low.  Break eggs, one at a time into skillet and salt and pepper each egg to taste. As soon as whites are set, turn the eggs over and cook for 1 minute or so. Remove from pan. For sunny side up eggs, break eggs into pan, spoon hot oil from the pan over whites only to help them to set. Lower heat if need be. When whites are set, remove from pan.
In the same pan, add ham slices and cook until browned. Remove from pan.
To Assemble:
Place one hash brown patty onto plate.  Top with a slice of ham and then add egg to top. Garnish with chives or parsley. Serve immediately.
You can use a round pastry cutter on the hash browns and ham for perfect stacks. Serve with Tabasco for an extra kick.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Mama's Southern Cornbread

There are as many recipes for Southern cornbread as there are Southern Mamas. But I think my Mama's is the best. I watched her make cornbread all my life. Her measuring tools were a coffee cup and her fingers.  A pinch of this and a splash of that. And, as a true Southern Belle, she rocked the bacon fat. And even though you can't really taste the sugar in this recipe, it's a must. Why? Because a little sugar is added to everything southern. If you could ask my Mama why, she'd say it's because it takes out the bitter : )

1/4 cup of bacon fat Yes, bacon fat
1 1/2 cups of  yellow cornmeal 
1/4 cup of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar (because its a southern thing)
2 cups of buttermilk, more if your batter is too thick (you can use milk, but use less)2 large eggs, lightly beaten

First I must warn you, cast iron gets very hot! Use a good cooking mitt and don't forget and grab the skillet with you bare hands!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Add the fat to a medium sized cast iron skillet, Place the skillet into the oven until the fat is melted and the skillet is pipping hot. In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients.You can use separate bowls for the wet and dry ingredients, but my Mama always mixed it all together.I think if you had to carry water from the well, heat it and wash dishes by hand as a kid, you didn't mess up extra dishes if you could help it : ). Remove the skillet from the oven and swirl the hot fat around to coat the sides and bottom of the skillet.

Pour the excess bacon fat from the skillet into the cornmeal mixture and stir well. If the mixture is too thick....not pourable thick, add a little more buttermilk or milk. Pour the cornmeal mixture into the hot skillet. Place into the oven and bake at 425 degrees F for about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven, let rest for a few minutes, then carefully turn the cornbread out onto a plate. The bottom should be golden brown and crispy. I like mine with lots of butter. My sister likes hers crumbled in milk. Enjoy!