Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Skillet Cornbread

Here's a recipe that's easy and good...a perfect accompaniment to most any meal.  Tonight I'm serving our cornbread alongside Chili.  You may notice that this cornmeal doesn't call for sugar in it.  Most cornbread that I've had in Texas  does not.

Skillet Cornbread

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ⅓ cup shortening
  • egg
  • 1 cup milk

  • Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease an 8 inch cast iron skillet.  

    Place cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to incorporate dry ingredients. Add shortening and cut into dry ingredients until well blended.  In a separate bowl, slightly beat together egg and milk. Pour into the dry ingredients; mix well.

    Pour the batter into prepared skillet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until done and top begins to turn golden. Serve warm.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Experimenting with Biscuits

When I was a young girl, I added refrigerated biscuits to my grandma's grocery list often.  This was due to the fact that my mom had given me a Pillsbury Bake-Off cookbook and I was set on trying out every recipe in it.  The recipes were not at all intimidating, even for a 12 yr. old.  I'd also picked up some handy tricks from my Home-Ec class....rolling the dough out, dipping it in melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar, and twisting it into shape.  I definitely liked to play around with biscuits.
Click image to enlarge before saving.
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All of these memories came flooding back when I made Chicken Stew with biscuits the other day.  Upon sharing them, my 12 yr. old has been requesting biscuits to try out recipes from the Pillsbury website ever since.  I must admit, the bevy of recipes has grown significantly from when I was 12.  We are eyeing the pull apart breads, especially.  I giggle at the idea of history repeating itself.

Pictures of our adventures with biscuits to follow...

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Take a look at the 4-1/2 ft. Rattle snake found near my mom's house!
The head has been removed (and buried) so that's not even accounted for in this pic.  Can you imagine it looking any longer than it already does!?!
It's been so hot in Texas and now that the weather has cooled in the evenings, the snakes are out enjoying their evening stroll.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chicken Stew & Biscuits

Think chicken 'n dumplings, but replace the dumpling with a big, fluffy biscuit.  This was something my grandma made often.  Of course, she made hers with homemade biscuits, but it was not beneath her to take a short cut from time to time by using a canned variety.

I followed the short cut path when I made these and I think they were fabulous.  This is definitely comfort food so get on some stretchy pants and cuddle up on the couch to reward your efforts in the kitchen!  You'll thank yourself when you're done. ; )

What you'll need...
1 package of a split chicken breast, skin and bones attached
4 cups water
1 onion, chopped
1 pkg. baby carrots, approx. 2 cups
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 Russet potato, peeled and diced small
1/2 cup all purpose flour 
1/2 cup butter
2 tsps. Better than Bouillon, chicken flavor
1 tsp each, Sage and Thyme 
1 small handful chopped parsley (optional)
Salt, black pepper, & Cajun seasoning to taste
1 can peas, drained
2 cans refrigerated biscuits, not the flakey variety.

To begin, I placed chicken in 4 cups of water and set on med.-high heat.  Throw in onion, celery, potato, and carrots.  When chicken is done, remove from pot to cool.  Skim and discard any fat from top of water.
While chicken is cooling, make a roux.  To do this heat butter and flour in a skillet to make a blonde roux. Stir  often so that roux doesn't go dark.

Once chicken is cooled, remove skin and bones.  Dice breast meat and add back to the pot.  Add seasonings and roux, and reduce heat to a low simmer.  Turn oven on to temperature recommended to cook biscuits.

When vegetables are tender and sauce has thickened add peas and transfer to a casserole dish; top with biscuits.  I placed them one right next to the other so that they would squish together as they baked.  Remove from oven once biscuits turn golden in color.

*If your stew is not as thick as you like, you may add a tablespoon of cornstarch which works as a thickening agent, but don't just throw cornstarch into the pot or you'll get lumps.  Mix it in a bowl with a tablespoon or two of water, first, so that you smooth out any lumps.  Bring your stew back up to a simmer if you add cornstarch and let it cook for about 5 minutes.  Also keep in mind that the stew will thicken as it cools so it's kind of difficult to gauge how thick your sauce will be right off.  You want it to coat the back of a spoon, if it runs off you've got a soup not a stew ; )

FOODIE FRIDAY Click for detailsSharing at Foodie Friday on Designs by Gollum blog and Savory Sunday @ 

Baked Apples

Here's another great recipe from a blogger that I follow...Baked Apples!  I haven't had baked apples since my own Grandma made them so this was a treat.  I'm glad that Ms. Christy Jordan reminded me of them on her post.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shrimp & Grits Review

From time to time (okay, pretty often) I'm inspired to try out recipes that I've discovered amid Bloggerville.  This is one of those recipes.  Now, folks, I'm new to shrimp and grits as they've not caught on in South Texas.  However, I think I've been missing out because they were totally awesome.  The hubs (he's from Romania) is used to cooking with polenta which to me is similar to grits, in a way, so this was right up his alley.  The kiddos, however, I expected to protest, BUT they did not.  Even mon petit gobbled her grits right up. ; )

My pictures did not do this meal justice so I'll just share one, but please hop on over to Miz Ellen's page and check out her pics.  She gives images from start to finish.

The adjustments I made were minor and mainly due to the fact that Corpus Christi does not sell "good grits"...mostly only the quick cooking kind so I had to make due.  I added some heavy cream along with my shredded cheddar in addition to a little bit of grated Parmesan, only about 1/3 cup of that.  The results were impressive considered my sub par grits ;)  

Tell Ellen hello from the Kitchen Witch.

Monday, September 19, 2011


When it comes to greens, I mostly cook them the same way.  This recipe is for collard greens, but feel free to try it out with turnip or mustard greens if you like.

1 large bunch of greens
1 link of sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt, Pepper, Garlic powder, onion powder, and Tabasco to taste

When making greens, I think it's necessary to soak them in a sink full of water so that any sand or grit is rinsed off and settled to the bottom of the sink instead of in your pot.

While the greens are soaking, I rough chop a medium onion and slice up a link or two of sausage (depending on the size of the link).  You may use bacon or ham hocks or any other meat that you prefer to flavor the broth, but, to me, you must use some sort of meat for flavor (apologies to my vegetarian friends).

Saute the meat and onion in a large pot with some bacon drippings.  Once onion begins to go soft.  Add a clove or two of minced garlic. Saute for one minute.  Turn heat to low.

Strain and rough chop greens removing stems if you like.  Add 6 cups of water along with greens to pot.  Add salt, pepper, and Tabasco to taste (or whatever favorite pepper sauce you like).  Simmer on low heat, covered, for an hour.

Adjust seasonings as needed and serve.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Salmon Patties

Ah, Salmon Patties.  If you're like me, you grew up with these on the dinner table at least every other week.  My mother has always pronounced the L in the word which makes me giggle.  When she first moved to the town she currently lives in, she met others who pronounce it the same way.  She has found her people. ; )

Getting back to the topic, salmon patties are also known as salmon croquettes.  From what I understand, these are one in the same.  Salmon patties seem to be popular in the South.  Chef Rick shares some history on them on his blog, Chef Rick's Southern Cooking.  In particular, I love his mention of a Piggly Wiggly.  Why aren't those around anymore?          

Without further ado, the simple southern classic...

Salmon Patties
1 (15 or 16 oz.) can Pink Salmon & 2 tbsp. juice reserved (I like the boneless, skinless variety)
1 large egg
1/3 cup minced or grated onion
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cup Crisco

Drain all but 2 tablespoons of juice from Salmon.  Set reserved juice aside.  In a mixing bowl, combine salmon, egg, and onion until sticky.  Mix in flour.  I do this by hand.  What's cooking without getting a little messy?  Add baking powder to salmon juice and when well incorporated add to salmon mixture.

Heat Crisco in a large heavy bottom skillet.  I use my cast iron for frying.  When sizzling hot, gently drop large spoonfuls on salmon mixture into hot oil.  Do this cautiously so that you don't splatter hot oil onto yourself or anyone nearby.  When bottom of patties begin to brown, flip them and flatten out a little with the back of your spatula.  Serve hot.

We dip our salmon patties in ketchup or tartar sauce.  Last night I served them alongside collard greens and roasted parsnips.

I'm sharing at Design by Gollum's Foodie Friday!    FOODIE FRIDAY Click for details

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quintessentially Southern

     The South, much like the rest of America, is a melting pot full of interesting flavors and ingredients.  Admittedly, many southern specialties were not born of the South; however it is in the South where they rose to fame, so to speak, thereby making them quintessentially southern treats.

When you think of sickeningly sweet iced tea, what first comes to mind? The South.

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When you think of shrimp and grits, what comes to mind?  The South.
shrimp grits
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When you think of Gumbo or Chicken Fried Steak or Collard Greens,what comes to mind?  The South.
Hard Knox Cafe soul food
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Sure there are calories and fat, but there's also warmth and tradition.  If you aren't familiar with Mr. Anthony Bourdain's recent comments on Paula Deen's cooking, you may want to scan this article.  Now, it's public knowledge that Mr. Bourdain hasn't always been concerned with putting toxic substances into his system so I'm surprised at his concern for his fellow Americans' intake.  I guess he's preachin' more in the "do as I say and not as I do" choir, as of late, but never you mind.  I've got my own little soap box to hop onto regarding the subject of southern food.

When it comes to southern fare, I'll be the first to admit it isn't the healthiest thing on the planet, but I don't believe that the cuisine should catch all the heat.  There are such things as moderation and exercise.  I'll just leave it at that. Oh, but let me just add (and why not when I'm on a roll), Mr. Bourdain isn't condemning the television, is he?  I thought not.  I mean, why bite the hand that feeds you?!  And last I checked, sitting around watching t.v. programs was just as much at fault in fattening up Americans as, say, any recipe whipped up in the likes of Paula Deen's kitchen.
Paula Deen. photo courtesy Food Network
(Honey, keep doin' what you're doin'!) image source
Well, with that being said, whew.  I've been thinking of getting that off my chest for weeks, but I'd really like to get back to the topic of southern food & drink and what I love about it.
Now, this sounds like a book that I need to check out!
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Firstly, I love the history of it all.  How a food came to be what it is today is interesting to me.  Being one of many G.R.I.T.S. (Girls Raised in the South), it only makes sense that my food interests center around the area I call home.  I love visiting food museums and reading blogs dedicated to our food's history.

Secondly, I love the memories it evokes.  Nothing says home quite like a southern meal...so comforting and tasty.  Which brings me to my last reason- the flavors.

Folks, I'm not a drinker or a smoker or a partaker of any drug prescribed or otherwise so count food as my weakness.  I figure, if I'm gonna be bad, the food better be good! (And you can quote that, y'all)

I plan on creating several posts over the near future to discuss my love affair with southern cuisine.  Do you have a love of southern fare?  If so, please share.

The Kitchen Witch

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chicken Spaghetti

  • 1 lb. Spaghetti
  • 3-4 slices bacon
    2-3 Chicken breasts, cut into 1" chunks
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • ½ lb. Velveeta, cubed
  • ½ cup milk, more or less
  • 1 can sliced mushrooms, drained
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • In a large stock pot, boil spaghetti al dente, in salted water. Drain and dump pasta into a large mixing bowl.
  • In a large skillet, fry bacon ’til crisp and set aside to cool. Add chicken breasts to skillet and saute in bacon fat. Add onion & garlic, continue to cook until onion is translucent.
  • Add sauteed chicken & vegetables, canned soups, Velveeta, milk, and mushrooms to mixing bowl with pasta.
  • Crumble bacon and add in with pasta mixture.
  • Stir until all ingredients are mixed well. You may add more milk if you like it creamier.
  • Add to a casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

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Today, many bloggers are remembering those victims of 9-11.  I'd like to give thanks to all the heroes from that day and for all that I'm blessed with.  Everyday that I get with my family and friends is a gift

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Central Texas Fires and a Way to Help

I'm sharing this post from Book People's Blog:
Support the American Red Cross of Central Texas and Wildfire Victims 
The fires taking place in Central Texas have been devastating to so many.  In order to support our community, BookPeople will be donating a portion of our sales to the American Red Cross of Central Texas from Tuesday 9/6 though Friday 9/9. This applies to all sales, both in-store and online.  Our cashiers can also take direct donations at the registers – simply ask your cashier to donate to the Red Cross when checking out. (For any followers in the Austin area, go by the store to help.)

With the Central Texas community in need, we hope you will help in any way you can.  And please use these tips for preventing fires.

I've just learned that a High School friend has lost her home.  Here's an image from one of the  neighborhoods, just to give perspective:

Chocolate Icebox Pie

What's life without another Luby's pie recipe?!  Here is a great recipe for chocolate icebox pie (not Minnie's version-if you've read or watched The Help, you get what I'm sayin').  It's easy to bake, just keep an eye on the pie crust or it will end a little too golden ; )

2-1/2 cups milk, divided

1-1/3 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 7 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 6 Tablespoons water
  • 3 egg yolks, extra-large
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 pie shell, 9-inch baked
  • whipped cream, sweetened for topping (optional)
  • chocolate curls or shavings for garnish (optional)
  • In a large, heavy bottom saucepan, bring 2 cups milk, sugar, cocoa, and butter to a boil. Remove from heat.

  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together cornstarch, remaining milk, egg yolks, and vanilla.  Add a little of the cooked mixture to this to temper the eggs...a slow steady stream should do.  Once tempered, add this to the remaining cooked mixture, stirring constantly.

  • Bring heat back up, adjusting the burner to low. Mix with wire whisk until thick and smooth.

  • Stir in marshmallows and continue stirring until melted.

  • Pour into pie shell. Pat plastic wrap onto top of pie to avoid the pie forming a skin and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

    Recipe courtesy of Luby's 50th Anniversary Cookbook and was shared in the Houston Chronicle.
    Sharing @ Foodie FridayFOODIE FRIDAY Click for details

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Great Macaroni Salad from Deep South Dish

If you're looking for a last minute Labor Day weekend recipe, you may want to check out this blog for a great Macaroni Salad.  I made this Saturday and everybody (and I mean everybody) loved it!

I used small shell pasta since that's what was in my pantry, but that's the only change I made.  I garnished the pasta with a little sprinkling of paprika before I served it and it went fast!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Get Luby-fied with a Butternut Brownie Pie

If you live in Texas, it's likely you've heard of Luby's Cafeteria.  Luby's Cafeteria opened in San Antonio in '47.  Luby's serves up southern favorites like fried fish, chicken fried steak, carved ham, fried okra, mashed taters, mac n cheese, chocolate ice box pie, pecan pie, and a whole slew of other favorites that are too many to mention.

It is a cafeteria so the whole spread is lined out before you and I guarantee that you're eyes will be bigger than your stomach.  I have many fond memories of going with my Grandma to eat there, and still enjoy a meal from Luby's from time to time.  

There are a few copied recipes shared on the web.  Luby's has published recipe books so I'm not sure if folks got the recipes from that source and shared them or got them from somewhere else, but I'm glad they're available because some are so darned good.  

Here's one of my favorites Luby recipes:

    Luby's Butternut Brownie Pie 
    Servings (8) 
     4 Egg whites
     1/8 Tsp Baking powder
     1/8 Tsp Cream of tartar 
    1 1/4 Cup Sugar (divided use) 
    14 Graham cracker squares, broken into pieces(about 2 cups) 
    1 Cup .+ 2 Tablespoon Pecan pieces(divided use)
     1 Cup Whipping cream
     Directions:   Preheat the oven to 300 F. Lightly coat a 9-inch pie plate with butter. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and baking powder until soft peaks form. Beating constantly, add cream of tartar and slowly add 1 cup of the sugar until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the graham crackers and 1 cup pecan pieces. Spoon into prepared pie plate. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. In small chilled mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream just until it begins to thicken. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat. Top pie with whipped cream and sprinkle the remaining pecan pieces on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about 8 servings. Nutritional Information: per serving: 518 calories, 30g fat, 306mg sodium, 197mg cholesterol, 47 percent of calories from fat. 
If you're ever traveling through Texas and happen across a Luby's, I hope you give it a try.  Here's to hoping you have a good weekend.


The Kitchen Witch

p.s. Sharing @ Foodie Friday. FOODIE FRIDAY Click for details...a great source to find many great recipes.