Roast Beef Au Jus Dinner Plate for a Spring evening.

When the temperatures warm out of doors and the windows and doors are flung open wide the grilling season begins.  When it is rainy we go directly to sandwich but not necessarily grilled!  Close to the top of my husbands list is roast beef au jus.  The Knob Hill Tavern is where he first had one and it was my job to make an at home version. I have found no match for a cooked to melt in your mouth rump roast to be the basis.  Here is how I fix them. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  I use a cast iron dutch oven with a round rack in the bottom. 

1 3-4 pound rump roast
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Hogie Rolls or French rolls
Au Jus base optional
1 c water

Unwrap and rinse the beef then pat it dry. Place the rack in the bottom of a heavy pan with a tight fitting lid.  If you don't have a rack you could improvise by putting some can lids of assorted sizes in the bottom of the pan.  The objective is to keep the beef off the bottom of the pan.  Place the beef FAT SIDE up  on the rack and season well with salt and pepper. Put  the water in the pan, cover and cook in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours till desired doneness.  I use a meat thermometer and cook it well done.  This is a cut of meat that is very lean so it is going to make it's own au jus and steam a bit to achieve that melt in your mouth goal.  When it is done let it cool before slicing.  I often let it get cold as it is easier slice it thin the colder it is.  Many times I cook it ahead and refrigerate it before slicing and then reheat. Use your sharpest knife and slice as thin as you can for sandwiches.  Strain the meat juices and reheat to dip the sandwiches.  You may want to use additional au jus base purchased at Gorden's Food Service or elsewhere if you find it.  It is darker and saltier than beef base.  We use small dipping bowls or small tea cups with the diner plates for individual service.  Horseradish is very good with this too.

Twice Baked Potato
Wash and wrap large baking potatoes in foil.  Roast at 425 degrees 1- 1  1/2 hours depending on size.
Pierce with fork to test for doneness.  Cool slightly and unwrap.  Slice the potato in half longways and scoop carefully the meat into a large mixer bowl.  Add salt, pepper, butter, cream cheese, sour cream, shredded cheese, minced green onion, milk or ranch dressing and mix with electric mixer til blended and desired consistency. Taste and add anything else you have on hand and want to use.  Bacon and leftover veggies can become stars here! Top with additional cheese.  I place them on a baking pan and cover til time to reheat and serve.  These can be made a week ahead and refrigerated and are fine.

Mother's Fruit Salad

This is my Mom's fruit salad and her Mother made it too.  The cherries make it different.  It is a combination of canned and fresh fruit.

juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 can fruit cocktail
1 can sliced peaches
1 can sliced pears
1 can apricots
1 can pineapple tidbits
1 can cherries
Mandarin or fresh oranges
3-4 bananas
fresh seedless grapes
any other fresh fruit available, I used blackberries in this time

Squeeze the lemon juice into the bottom of a large glass bowl and slice the bananas into the juice. Then  combine all the fruit in a large glass bowl.  If you use sour pie cherries add about 1/2 - 3/4 c additional sugar.  If using sweet cherries I do not add any sugar. This will keep well in the


NO MESS, Roast Chicken and Vegetables

It was a rainy day, tired and sore from yesterdays marathon day and evening of activity.  Really not in the mood to mess.  My go to diner on days like this is often to grab my favorite pan.  A half sheet baking pan I use for so many things!!  I cover it with extra wide heavy duty aluminum foil and drizzle it with olive oil for starters.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. and assemble these ingredients:

2 large chicken breasts on the bone with skin
olive oil
washed potatoes cut into wedges, about 2" x 1 1/2"  with or without the skins
peeled carrots cut on the bias about the size of the potatoes so they cook in same time
optional fresh green beans or any other veggie you have on hand

Blend these seasonings together in a small bowl or a teacup and set aside.  I save for the next time any unused portion.

1 T kosher salt
1 t black pepper
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t lemon pepper

Wash and dry chicken.  Place them on the olive oiled pan and turn them a couple of times to coat well or drizzle with additional oil if needed.  Season them well on both sides and move them to one end of the pan bone side down.  Toss the potatoes and carrots together in the oil and season them lightly.  Spread them evenly across the rest of the pan and place in the oven.  I set the timer for 30 minutes.  At the end of 30 minutes I turn the chicken and the vegetables.  If I am adding another shorter cooking vegetable I add them now and return to the oven for 30 more minutes.  I added 1/2 pound of fresh washed and broken green beans tonight.  When the timer rings diner is served.  I pitch the foil and put my favorite pan back in the drawer!!  The chicken is always moist and flavorful,  the carrots are just starting to sweeten and the potatoes have browned ever so nicely.


Fruit Platter and Dips

Last night after dinner my husband told me I needed a covered dish for a pitch in for tonight!!  I am going to an event I have never been to and don't know a soul.......The main course is "Pulled Pork" and the only other thing I know of is 10 pounds of potato salad.  After a lot of fretting I decided you can't go wrong with a fruit platter. They are attractive,  healthy,  most people like something on it,  and if I make a chocolate dip and a vanilla dip and add a bowl of salted nuts I will probably have something for everyone.

I like to cover my platter with washed and dried leaf lettuce Then I just arrange a selection of whatever is in season and looks good.  Today I used fresh pineapple, purple seedless grapes, strawberries, orange slices, and blackberries.


3 c semi sweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 c heavy cream
2 T corn syrup
1 t instant coffee powder
1 t vanilla

Combine these ingredients in a bowl over simmering water (double boiler) stirring occasionally until melted, smooth, and glossy.  You may add a few tablespoons more cream to reach desired thickness.  The mixture will thicken as it cools.


16 oz softened cream cheese
16 oz marshmallow fluff or cream
2 t vanilla

Beat together with an electric mixer until well blended and serve.  Sometimes I add lemon or lime juice.  I have added orange juice and I have added cinnamon.  Just whatever sounds good  with the fruit you are using will work.


Marinated in Beer Steak

This is a good way to tenderize and flavor economical steak cuts like the sirloin for summer grilling.  Do this the day before cooking and let marinade in the dry ingredients overnight for best results.

4 servings top sirloin beef steak
1 can of beer
1 T packed dark brown sugar
1 t lemon pepper
1 t Lawry's seasoned salt
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
Cut the steak into serving portions and trim fat.  Place in a container and cover with beer, cover or seal, and refrigerate for an hour.  Remove the steaks from the beer.  Combine the dry ingredients and rub on all sides of the steaks. Let rest in the refrigerator at least an hour, preferably overnight.  Preheat grill to medium-high heat and grill to desired doneness.  I prefer to under cook a bit and cover and let steaks rest for 10 minutes before serving.  They will finish and be a more moist and juicy steak.  This is also a good steak to thinly slice against the grain of the meat and serve with crumbled blue cheese over a green salad!!

Really "BIG" Brownies

Yesterday my granddaughter Kate was here with a temperature and as she felt better in the afternoon wanted to bake with me so this is what we made.

This is also the beginning of the tailgate, reunion, picnic, and all manner of get together season so I am going to start sharing some of my collection of big batch recipes.  This is the most fudgy chocolate and moist brownie I have ever tasted.  It MUST be baked in a half sheet pan which is 13"x 18" x 1 1/2".  I line the pan with heavy duty extra wide aluminum foil.  Butter and flour the pan and set it aside.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  The benefit of using the foil is to cut and remove the cookies with more ease and less crumble.  Depending on how you cut these you will yield several dozen.  I have also sliced these and made ice cream sandwiches that are truly "over the top"!

4 sticks, (1 pound of butter)
1 12 oz. pkg.  plus 2/3 c. semisweet chocolate chips to make the batter, (1 pound chips)
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips to add (12 oz. pkg.chips)
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate
6 extra large eggs
3 T. instant espresso or instant coffee powder
2 T. real vanilla extract
2 1/4 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. flour ( hold back the 1/4 c. to coat the choc chips and nuts)
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
3 c. chopped nutmeats if desired
Place a large pan with about 1" of water in the bottom on the stove and heat.  Sit a large glass bowl over the top of the pan and melt together the butter, the first portion of chocolate chips and the unsweetened chocolate.  Keep the burner turned down do not put it on high heat.  Just watch it and stir occasionally as it melts.  This takes a while and I do other things and don't hurry it, just stir and melt, eventually it will be a succulent smooth chocolate "ooze" that smells like chocolate heaven. Then let it cool slightly.  I sit the bowl off the pan on a kitchen towel on the counter to rest and I go to the next step.
Stir together in a large mixing bowl the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar.  Mix well then slowly and gradually stir in the chocolate mixture.  Take this slowly.  Add maybe a cup in the beginning and stir then add a bit more.  This tempers the eggs.  If you were to dump all the melted hot chocolate mixture at once it might cook the eggs and you could be left with chocolate scrambled eggs!!!
Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add this into the chocolate mixture until just combined.  Toss the reserved flour, chocolate chips and nuts all together to coat with flour.  This will help keep them from sinking to the bottom of the pan.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan evenly.
Bake about 30 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  I had to add 5 minutes 2 times so be sure and test with a tooth pick.  Do not over bake.  Cool well and cut into bars.   I have put these in the refrigerator before to hasten cooling.

This was adapted room an Ina Garten recipe and she adapted it from Soho Charcuterie Cookbook where they were called chocolate globs.


Stir Fry Green Beans and Pork

We love fresh veggies and green beans have always been a favorite.  This is a great dish to make with fresh young and tender beans or if you can get them Haricot Vert,  french green beans. I first found them fresh at Sam's Club a year ago in a 2 pound pack.  They package them in two one pound bags and they keep really well.  Last night I used a large leftover pork chop but any pork will do.  I also added canned mushrooms which are not in the dish if you order it out but since it is "my" version you can easily make it yours by adding slivered almonds or water chestnuts.  However you'd best like it will work!!

1 pound young thin green beans
1/2 -1 pound thinly sliced pork
3 T olive oil
3 T butter
1/4 c soy sauce
1 c chicken stock  (I use undiluted Campbell's broth)
2 T cornstarch
1 small can of sliced mushrooms drained but KEEP THE LIQUID
black pepper
3 c prepared rice of your choosing

Wash and clean beans, I leave them whole set aside.  Thinly slice pork and set aside.  Drain the mushrooms and set aside.  Mix the cornstarch with the reserved mushroom liquid and set aside.  If you don't use an additional veggie and don't have liquid for this part just use 1/4 c water instead of the liquid to dissolve the cornstarch in and set aside.

Heat a large skillet or wok and add the oil and butter.  Add the pork and stir fry til browned.  Add the beans and continue to fry for 2-3 minutes. add the soy sauce and stock, stir well.  Reduce the heat cover the pan with a lid and simmer 10-15 minutes til beans are tender.  This will depend on the beans and you will need to check for tenderness.  When the beans are tender crisp add the mushrooms, the reserved liquid and dissolved cornstarch and black pepper.  Stir and cook til this thickens and serve piping hot over hot rice.  Pass the soy sauce in case anyone needs more with the dish.  This makes a quick tasty dish!!


Chocolate Berry Shortcakes

This recipe is from an English girl I worked with some years ago and she was a wonderful cook.  These large shortcakes can be formed into 8 smaller shortcakes if desired as they make a large biscuit, quite enough for 2 if you want to fix one and share. It is wonderful with raspberries, strawberries, or a mix of your choosing.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and prepare cookie sheets with parchment or lightly grease the pan.

4 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 c all purpose flour
4 T granulated sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
4 T cold butter cut into dice size pieces
8 T heavy cream
 3 c berries
4 T sugar or to taste
2 T Framboise, or to taste optional
2/3 c well chilled cream
powdered sugar to sprinkle shortcakes if desired

Make the shortcakes:  Into a bowl sift together the first 5 ingredients.  Add the butter and blend with a pastry cutter or fork until it resembles coarse meal.  Add the cream and stir with a fork until it forms a dough.  Divide the dough into fourths and arrange each portion into a mound on the baking sheet.  Bake in the center of the oven for 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on rack.

In a medium non-reactive bowl mash half the berries, add sugar and Framboise and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the remaining berries.  In another bowl beat the cream until it holds soft peaks.
Top the biscuit with berries and the berries with cream to you liking.

Incredible Strawberry Cake

This is a recipe from my dear friend Sally and it is the most amazing cake!!  The strawberry fragrance is wonderful and the depth of the strawberry taste surprised me.  I have made it every spring since she gave it to me and I often make it for friends who are lovers of strawberries.  This time I made it into cupcakes to take to a pitch-in dinner.

1 yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1 c oil
3 T flour
1 pint of cut up strawberries

Prepare pan with butter and flour or use cupcake papers if making cupcakes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix the cake mix, eggs, oil, and flour together till creamy and well blended then add the strawberries.
Bake in preheated oven 30-40 minutes depending on the oven.  Reduce time for cupcakes, test with a toothpick to check if done.

1 stick butter or margarine softened
1 box powdered sugar (1pound)
1/2 c chopped strawberries

Beat altogether with electric mixer and frost cake.

All things Strawberry

After making 14 pints of strawberry jam I put a few pints in the freezer for the winter.  Strawberries are really easy to freeze and are useful and tasty.  I just slice or quarter the berries and for a pint I added 2 or 3 tablespoons of sugar, sealed them in a freezer container and that was that.

Banana Bread

We are planning to visit our twin grandsons Saturday and they love Grandma's banana bread so here is the recipe.  I have baked this it for probably 40 years and don't have a clue where it came from but it is good and they like it so here we go!!

1/2 c Crisco
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c sour milk or buttermilk
1 t soda dissolved in the milk
3 small mashed ripe bananas
2 c flour
1/2 t salt
2 t. vanilla
1/2 c chopped nuts optional

Mix in the order given and bake in a buttered and floured loaf pan 1 - 1 1/2 hour at 350 degree F until a skewer or toothpick is clean when inserted into the center of the loaf.  This will keep really well if you refrigerate it.


The Garden

We love to have a garden but we live in a neighborhood of ancient old trees where it is a job to find a sunny spot to plant a garden.   We have a spot about 15' x15' square and we have planted 10 tomato plants, 5 cabbages, a hill of squash and a hill of cucumbers as well as 2 rows of onions and 3 assorted peppers!!

We also have several containers of herbs, radishes and lettuce.  We are still planting and also plan a sunflower garden should the rain subside.

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches

Really do love to make chocolate chip cookies that are thin and crisp and Carmel flavored with Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate and chopped toasted pecans into ice cream sandwiches!!!! Is that something to wrap your mind around or what!!!!

Yesterday I made the cookies, the recipe is adapted from the one on the Ghirardelli package.

I use Sil-pat liners or parchment paper when making cookies and a heavy pair of half sheet pans.  I do not use a convection oven.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and prepare the pans.

2 1/4 c all purpose flour, I use King Arthur flour
1 t soda
1/2 t salt
1 c softened butter
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c dark brown sugar packed
2 t vanilla
2 large eggs
2 c semi sweet chocolate chips
1 c chopped toasted pecans (toast on a cookie sheet at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes)

Note:  I probably use closer to a cup of packed dark brown sugar and 2 Jumbo eggs to get the thinner crisp cookie for making sandwiches.

Stir flour, soda, and salt together and set aside.  Beat together in a large bowl butter and sugars at medium speed til creamy then add the eggs, one at a time and vanilla.  Mix at low speed incorporating the flour mixture until thick and creamy.  Add the chips and nuts.   Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheets.  Do not butter the cookie sheets if you are not using the parchment or silpats.  Bake 9-11 minutes til golden.  Cool and store in tight canister.

Today I cut the carton off of a half gallon of Bryer's vanilla ice cream and put the block on a cutting board I had covered with waxed paper.  Using a bread knife with a long thin blase I sliced off the first piece of ice cream onto a waiting cookie I had placed atop a piece of cling wrap.

I had selected two cookies close to the same size and shape so they were happily married into an ice cream sandwich.

I yielded 10 yummy treats that will rest in the top of my freezer til needed.  I am now truly ready for summer!

 After they freeze hard I will put them all into a large freezer bad so they will be double sealed for safekeeping.


Strawberry Jam

Being from a long line of jam and jelly makers I really look forward to the wonderful fresh strawberries here in southern Indiana.  About a mile down the road is WRIGHT'S BERRY FARM and they have the sweetest and most fragrant berries I have ever found.  You can pick them yourself or they will pick them for you.  So I have been making jam!!  Here is how I make strawberry jam.

Wash 4 glass pint jelly jars and 1,  1/2 pint jar.  I use Ball or Mason jars with the 2 piece screw on lids.  Always buy new flat sealing portions of the lid.  You can reuse the screw top but not the seal portion.

I wash the jars in the top rack of the dishwasher on hot and on heated dry but I cover the 2 piece lids with water and boil them. Then I turn the  heat off and leave them sitting in the hot water til I am ready to use them.

Wash, hull and quarter 2 quarts of berries.....but as I do them I quarter them into a glass measuring cup and each time I have 1 cup I dump them into a heavy medium sized bowl.  Them using my favorite 30 year old potato masher I mash the strawberries 1 cup at a time.  Then I dump the mashed berries into a large heavy bottomed kettle. Then I repeat these steps until the berries have all been processed.  You should have 5 c. mashed fruit.

Measure 7 cups of sugar into a large bowl and set aside.

I stir 1 box of Sure Jell fruit pectin and 1/2 teaspoon of butter into the fruit,  turn on the heat and bring to a full rolling boil,  and stir.  The butter helps keep the jam from foaming so much as it boils and then you have to skim off less before you fill the jars.

When this comes to a full rolling boil,  which is when it boils all over and you cannot stir it and stop it from boiling I add the sugar all at once.  It must be added all at once you cannot be gradual about this!

I keep stirring til it comes to a rolling boil a second time and then you boil it for exactly one minute.  Turn off the heat and remove from the hot burner.  Using a ladle or large spoon skim as much foam off the top of the jam as you can.  I skim it into a coffee cup or small bowl.

Fill each jar to within 1/8" of the top of the jar.  Using a clean wet cloth be sure the rims are clean of any dripped fruit.  Cap with the 2 piece lids and tighten.   I immediately stand all the jars upside down on the lids on a clean dish towel for 5 minutes.  Then I turn them right side and don't touch them again for 24 hours.  Then I check the seals.  Usually I have heard everyone of them seal but I still make sure before storing them in a cool dark place.


Cranberry Orange-Pistachio Biscotti

I  REALLY  love a cup of black hot coffee in the morning and occasionally I have to have biscotti!!!  This is one of my many favorites.  It is a really great gift at Christmas with the red and green peeking through the cookie.

1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 c hot orange juice, or use water or lemon juice if desired
3 c flour, I use King Arthur all purpose flour,  plus extra for dusting
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
4 T soft butter
1 c sugar, plus extra for sprinkling tops
3 large eggs,  plus 1 additional lightly beaten egg
2 t pure vanilla
1 T orange zest, optional
1/2 c shelled and rough chopped pistachios

This makes about 4 dozen cookies.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment and set it aside.  Put the cranberries in a small bowl and add the hot orange juice to plump the cranberries. Just set these aside too,  15 minutes or so is is good.  Then drain and leave them til you need them in the batter.  Sift together the dry ingredients excluding the sugar and set aside.

Using the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter an sugar about 2 minutes at medium speed.  Add 3 eggs one at a time beating after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla and orange zest.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to be sure it is all well combined.  Add the flour mixture and mix on low till combined.  Mix in the drained cranberries and pistachios.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide it in half.  Shape each half into a 16" x 2" log.
Transfer onto prepared parchment covered baking sheet about 3" apart.  Using the palm of your hand
flatten the logs slightly.  Then brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle generously with sugar.

Bake until slightly firm to the touch about 25 minutes.  Transfer the logs on the parchment paper to the cooling rack and cool  about 20 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

After the 20 minutes cooling place the logs on the cutting board and cut diagonally to 1/2" slices.  Arrange the slices cut side down on the rack.  Bake about 30 minutes.  Cool completely and keep in an airtight container.


Apple Enchiladas, Cinco De Mayo school project!!

It is great to be a Grandma and be called upon to help when school projects come up. It is just sheer fun when Emily or Kate want to cook in my kitchen!!

Cinco De Mayo presented just that opportunity. Emily needed to make a desert to take to school and she picked a recipe for "apple enchiladas."

1, 21 oz. apple pie filling
6, 8" flour tortillas
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/3 c. margarine
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. water

Emily assembled a 9x13 pan and buttered it and preheated the oven at 350. She got all of the rest of the ingredients out as well as the measuring cups and spoons and can opener.

After opening the fruit she spooned a row of apples across the top third of the tortilla. Then she rolled it cigar fashion and laid it seam side down in the buttered pan. When all this was finished she combined the rest of the ingredients in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and brought it to a boil for 3 minutes. She ladled the gooey syrup over the apple cigars and baked for 20 minutes.

I am sure her classmates delighted in these little deserts and I loved helping her with her project!!

I have been taking pictures and will post them as soon as my son shows me how. They are all much more computer "saavy" than I am.