Family Favorites..Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp scampi, as we Americans know it today, became popular after World War II. This was when many Italian dishes went "mainstream" according to Food Timeline.  The Good Housekeeping Cook Book had this easy recipe; you can prepare it while you cook pasta to go with it to catch all the delicious juices.  Serve it with a make-ahead salad for a fast but special lunch.  While I like the local food idea, I wouldn't want to give up delicious shrimp just because we live in the Midwest.  
                              Shrimp Scampi
  2             pounds  shrimp -- thawed, frozen jumbo
     1/4           cup  butter
  2             cloves  garlic -- minced
  1             medium  lemon -- juiced
     1/4           cup  butter -- melted
     1/2      teaspoon  salt
     1/8      teaspoon  pepper
                        parsley -- snipped

Have shrimp peeled, leave tails on. 
Preheat broiler 10 minutes or as manufacturer directs.
Melt butter, add garlic, lemon juice; simmer, stirring often, 3 minutes.
Arrange shrimp on heatproof broiler pan.
Blend 1/4 cup butter with garlic butter; pour over shrimp.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Broil 4" from heat, turning once, 5-7 minutes.
Serve at once with pan juices.
5 Servings
Per Serving: 359 Calories; 21g Fat (54.5% calories from fat); 37g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 326mg Cholesterol; 670mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 6 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 3 1/2 Fat.

Mocha Tea Cakes

 Russian tea cakes are a favorite Christmas cookie at our house. This recipe from Land O’ Lakes is a nice variation on them. Chocolate and coffee being favorites of ours I knew they would be a hit and they were. They are a little softer than the recipe I use otherwise, but the flavor is great. 
 Now I must say I did not have any ground espresso powder on hand, as I thought I did. However, Sue had given me a bottle of coffee flavoring. I used it instead and it worked great. I found that a scant ½ teaspoon gave me just the right coffee taste for our family. In case you want to try that, it is Frontier brand flavoring. I am not sure how widespread that is but there are other brands that should have it.
 The only drawback to using the flavoring is that I did not have any espresso to put in the powdered sugar to roll the cookies in, but they were fine without it.
Mocha Tea Cakes
1 cup butter softened
½ cup sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa (not hot chocolate mix)
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder or ½ teaspoon coffee flavoring (to taste)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder optional
Heat oven to 325°F. Combine softened butter and sugar in large bowl. Beat at nedium speed scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add all remaining cookie ingredients except flour and pecans; continue beating uintil well mixed. Reduce speed to low and add flour. Beat until well mixed. Stir in pecans.
 Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 20 minute or until set. Remove to wire cooling rack. Cool completely. Combine all coating ingredients in small bowl. Roll cookies in coating. Let set for at least 10 minutes and roll again if necessary.

 Store cooled cookies between layers of waxed paper in container with tight fitting lid. Cookies can be frozen up to 3 months.

From the Garden...Southwestern Beef Strips

A stir-fry and a pasta dish in one – it’s going to be a favorite at our house.  In the time I boiled water, I had my ingredients cut up and assembled, and in the time it took to cook the fettuccine, the stir fry was done.   If you don’t have taco seasoning mix, some chili powder is good.  I used red peppers from our garden – but I also freeze them and use them all winter in dishes like this.  I usually have all these ingredients on hand, so this is almost a pantry meal for us.               
Southwestern Beef Strips
  1 1/ 2 Pounds  Beef Sirloin Steak -- cut in thin strips
  1         Medium  Onion -- sliced
  1         Medium  Sweet Red Pepper -- cut in strips
  2         Tablespoons  Taco Seasoning Mix
             Teaspoon  Salt
     ¼    Teaspoon  Pepper
  2         Tablespoons  Salad Oil
  15       Ounces  Black Beans -- rinsed and drained
  1 ½    Cups  Frozen Corn -- thawed
     ½    Cup  Picante Sauce
  2         Tablespoons  Cilantro Flakes
             Hot Cooked Fettuccine -- 9 ounces dry
In large skillet or wok, stir-fry the beef, onion, red pepper, taco seasoning, salt and pepper in oil until meat is no longer pink.
Stir in the beans, corn, picante sauce and cilantro and heat through.  Serve with fettuccine if desired.
(I cooked 9 ounces dry fettuccine).
6 Servings
  "TOH Busy Family Favorites"

Cherry Nut Mold

When I saw cans of sweet dark pitted cherries in the grocery, I had to make this oldie but goodie again.  You can use coke if desired, but it’s perfectly good with water for the cold liquid.  
Some folks call this a salad, we call it dessert!  Top it with some whipped cream for dessert or some mayonnaise or Miracle Whip if you want to pretend it’s a salad.  Any way you serve it, it’s still as good as ever.

Cherry Nut Mold
  1             can  black sweet cherries -- pitted
  1             bottle  Coca Cola -- (6 oz.) or cold water
  1             pkg.  cherry Jello
     1/2      cup  chopped pecans -- 2 ounces
Drain cherries; heat juice, measuring 1 cup, adding water if needed. Dissolve Jello in cherry juice, let cool completely. Add Coke or 3/4 cup water. Let set until slightly congealed, about 1 1/2 hours in the refrigerator. Add cherries and nuts.
Pour into 3 cup salad mold or 5 x 7” glass dish; chill until firm.

Serves 6

Freezer Cheese Sauce Mix

After lunch, my husband cleaned out the pan that I prepared this cheese sauce in…he liked it that much!  This recipe from “Make a Mix" is really not a mix, but a very tasty cheese sauce that can be frozen to be thawed and heated to use anytime.   I reheated this frozen sauce in the microwave - 2 minutes and then several additional minutes stirring each time until hot.  It came out beautifully and didn't "break" or curdle.  It's not "gloppy" as Myrna would say, but a very nice consistency.  The book recommends reheating in a saucepan as well.  I have made it several times, and have some in the freezer right now.
I was interested because, while we like cheese sauce on poached eggs on English muffins, or on vegetables like broccoli or on "loaded" baked potatoes, I don’t always want to prepare it in addition to the rest of the meal.  This recipe can be made anytime and stashed in the freezer until you’re ready to make it.    Are we thinking “company” meals made a lot easier?
Freezer Cheese Sauce Mix
     ¾       cup  Flour, All-purpose
  1 ½       teaspoons  Salt
     ¼       teaspoon  Nutmeg -- ground
     ¾       cup  Butter
  4           cups  Milk
  2           cups  Condensed Chicken Broth
  1           cup  Half and Half
  4           large  Egg Yolks -- beaten
  12         ounces  Cheddar Cheese -- shredded
In small bowl, combine flour, salt and nutmeg; set aside.  In a heavy large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Gradually stir in flour mixture, milk and chicken broth until smooth.  Cook and stir until smooth and slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, stir half and half into egg yolks.  Blend in about half of the hot sauce.  Stir egg mixture into remaining sauce.  Cook and stir over medium heat about 2 minutes; do not boil.  Remove from heat.  Stir in cheese until melted.  Cool to room temperature.
Refrigerate sauce until cooled.  Pour about 1 1/3 cups sauce into each of 6 freezer containers with tight fitting lids.  Leave 1 inch space at top of each container.  Attach lids.  Label with date and contents. 
Store in freezer.  Use within 6 months.  Makes 6 containers that serve 6 as sauces for side dishes or poached eggs..or freeze in 1 cup portions for 4 servings.  For 2, freeze in 1/2 cup portions.
Reheat in a small saucepan over low heat or in the microwave.
Yield:  "2 quarts"

Cookbook reviews...Southern Living Christmas Cookbook

Christmas cookbooks and Southern Living seem synonymous.  This version, from 2008, is chock full of beautifully photographed recipes.  Of course, they describe it as the Ultimate Holiday Entertaining Guide, “Ultimate” being an over-worked word in Southern Living’s vocabulary, but this book almost lives up to it.   I liked their menu format…they describe the occasion and give both a menu, a menu preparation plan, and then the recipes.  They also have a chapter on fast ideas, food gift ideas, and entertaining ideas, like sophisticated decorating ideas that use what you have, place settings, hostess ideas, and my favorite, party tips to save the day.  We liked this book so much, we both have copies.
Of course, Myrna had to make the beautiful cover recipe for you, and we tried an assortment of soups, salads, sides, buffet dishes, other desserts, and brunch choices.

Ranch Potatoes

Chunky Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cider Dressing

Coconut Glazed Baby Bundt Cakes

Shrimp and Grits

Beef Ravioli in Basil Cream Sauce

Holiday Broccoli Salad

Green Rice Timbales (gluten free too)

Crispy Parmesan Crackers

Grandma's Orange Crispies

Family Favorites...Pork Chops with Mushroom Pan Gravy

Pork Chops with Mushroom Pan Gravy from the Land O Lakes cookbook is a good recipe and easy to make. I did add a splash of Dry Sherry to the gravy. We decided the next time, to use pork steak, just because we like it better. I would add slightly more cooking time to the meat when it is covered if using pork steak instead of chops. Serve with brown rice, mashed potatoes or white rice. There is no flour in the gravy as the half and half will thicken nicely on its own.
Pork Chops with Mushroom Pan Gravy
Serve tender pork chops over rice, then top with lots of traditional pan gravy
6 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2” pieces
2 cups (2 medium) sliced 1/8” thick onions
4  3/4” thick center cut pork chops
3 Tbsp all purpose flour or GF flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups half and half
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
Dry Sherry optional
Cooked Rice
In 10” skillet cook bacon and onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally until browned (8 to 10) minutes. Saute the mushrooms for a few minutes and than remove to a plate to add later. Add pork chops to pan; arranging bacon and onions on top of pork chops. Cover; continue cooking for 10 minutes or until browned. Turn pork chops. Reduce heat cover again and cook until pork chops are tender. Place pork chops on platter; keep warm while preparing gravy. In same skillet with drippings, brown bits, bacon and onions add the remaining ingredients except half and half, sauted mushrooms and rice. Cook until smooth and bubbly ( about one minute). Stir in half and half and mushrooms. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until mixture is thickened (about 8 minutes). Serve gravy over rice and pork chops.