Hot Dogs My Way, Stuffed with Mustard & Cheese then Wrapped with Bacon

I was so happy when I found hot dogs with NO nitrates or artificial anything including preservatives.  There they were big as life at my local grocery store and we haven't found any taste difference.  Of course we are of the generation who grew up on hot dogs and Campbell's soup and we have carried those likes with us throughout our lives.

We like them every which way but once in a while I spruce them up and this is how :

4 hot dogs
8 slices bacon
2 slices cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a half sheet pan with foil.  Place the bacon onto the foil and place it into the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  Check because I use thick cut bacon and the thickness will determine the cooking time.  I want the bacon cooked but not quite crisp yet.  Drain on paper and set aside to cool a bit.

Meanwhile slice each hot dog lengthwise down the center but DO NOT cut all of the way through.  Next slather with a bit of mustard.  Slice the cheese and place a piece or two into the opening.  Make sure you don't cut it too tall, you just want it a little taller than the sides of your hot dog.

Using a tooth pick secure the partially cooked bacon around the cheese stuffed hot dog.  Fasten at each end.  Return the assembled hot dogs to the hot oven for 5-8 minutes until the cheese is melted, the bacon cooked and you have a party for your hot dog bun!  Or,  just gobble them down.  We served these with a side of roast 'n ears and a dish of strawberries.

Yield 2 servings.


Vintage, My Grandmother's Household Hints

Grandmother and Grandfather's  Wedding picture.
I find old stuff fascinating and will usually always give it a second glance.  There is something comforting about the tried and true.  Conversely I am generally a bit more skeptical about the new and improved.  Wonder if it is because we live in the time of recalls, and it is OK to eat eggs after all? 

When a new product comes to town rather than rushing out to purchase my attitude is, "lets wait a while until they figure out all of the kinks."

I must admit to having gone back and looked at this old cook book and the helpful hints pages more than a few times.  It was given to me by my Grandmother in 1975 and is signed with love.  She was head cook at the grade school in Dubois, Indiana and belonged to the Dubois County Extension  Homemakers Club.  This was their cookbook, titled "Here's What's Cookin'".

Toward the back of this 1 1/2" thick soft bound tattered green book lives selections called The Household Hints, some of which are outdated but that too holds my interest as it is a measure of a change in culture, a change in values, and a change of times.  So I have been thinking for a time I might share these with you on the off chance someone else may enjoy or find them interesting, novel, or entertaining.

1." Use Borax to get rid of cockroaches that come in during the early spring."  (Nowadays you call a pest control company and they spray.  Who knew??)

2." Use newspaper to absorb odors in refrigerator or freezer after washing with soda solution.

3.  Take baking soda on camping trips for bee stings and also for extinguishing fire when a Colman lantern bursts into flames.  Also can substitute for toothpaste. 

4.  Use a plastic dishwashing liquid bottle to hold liquid detergent to squeeze on colors, spots before laundering.   Not nearly as messy as using a cup.

5.  To remove onion smell from hands, rub hands with pure vinegar before rinsing or washing.  After rubbing vinegar into the skin thoroughly,  wash with soap and water.

6.  When washing windows always wash one way on one side and the opposite on the other side.  That way you can always see what side isn't clean.

7.  For making small amounts of soap, instead of waiting to accumulate a lot of grease (rancid fats don't make good soap anyway):   Recipe for a bar:  Always use a wooden stick or spoon and a granite-ware or crock.  Measure 1/2 cup clean lukewarm fat into a clean plastic container.  In another container, measure 1/4 cup of cold water.  Add one tablespoon of lye,  stirring with wooden spoon to dissolve.  Then, with the same spoon stir in fat slowly as you add lye solution.  Stir to the consistency of pudding.  At this time, you may add one tablespoon of lanolin, rose water, cologne, or lemon juice to give it a pleasant aroma.  (Lanolin is gentle to the skin.)   Pour into a plastic container;  cover the top with plastic wrap.  Put away undisturbed for 24 hours.  After removing, let ripen for about 2 weeks."

These are but a few, I hope you enjoyed a glance back in time.

Chicken Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes 'n Gravy with a Side Salad, Just What My Husband Ordered for Dinner!

Because it is one of his favorite meals!  Little surprise to me when I asked what he would like for dinner.  So, I grabbed the fresh salad fixing in the zip lock bags from Saturday night and  a side salad was born.  The key to this meal really is the quality of the meat you have for the steaks.  I have NEVER gotten bad "Cube or Minute" steaks from our butcher, Randy from Rivertown Butcher.  But  I will admit to having gotten really bad ones in the past from other places.

That having been said here is what you need to prepare this meal for 2:

The salad:

1 1/2 C. washed and trimmed lettuce of your choice
4 trimmed, blanched, chilled, and diced  stalks of fresh asparagus
3" piece of English cucumber sliced in 1/8" pieces than cross cut into matchsticks
1 small carrot diced
1 small stalk of celery cleaned and diced
6 cherry tomatoes

Assemble attractively on chilled salad plates.  Serve with your favorite dressing. This can be done ahead of time or as you make the meal.

The mashed potatoes:

3 large Russet or Idaho potatoes peeled and quartered
2 qt. water (or enough water to cover the potatoes 1/2")
1 T. salt for water
4 T. butter
1/3 to 1/2 C. whole milk or half and half
salt and pepper to taste

Generally I start the potatoes first for this meal.  Add the prepared potatoes, salt, and water to a larger pan.  There is danger of boil over if you start with what looks like a pan that would be fine.  Go a size larger please and save yourself clean up!  Bring to a boil.  reduce to medium heat and cover.  Cook until fork tender.  Depending on the potatoes, the size of the pan, and how much water......this should normally take 20-30 minutes or so.

While these cook prepare the meat:

4 cube or minute streaks
garlic powder
all purpose flour for dredging
1/4 to 1/3 C. safflower oil for pan frying (you may use any oil you like this is just my choice)

Preheat oven to 225  degrees F.  Season and dredge each steak in flour.  Heat oil in a heavy bottomed skillet.  Cast iron is good if you have it.  Over medium high heat quickly brown the meat.  Place the meat in a covered oven proof dish and place it in the oven to finish cooking and keep warm.

The potatoes should be about done by now.  Check them and if they are fork tender drain them.  If your pan is stainless steel you can put the potatoes back in the pan to mash.  If not a larger mixing bowl will do fine.   DO NOT mash the potatoes in a Teflon pan, never, ever.   Add the butter, milk, and seasonings and mash with a hand masher or an electric mixer until you reach the desired consistency.  Taste the potatoes and adjust the seasoning if necessary.  Set them covered back on the warm stove or in the oven while you make the gravy.

The gravy:

Remove any oil over about 3 T. from the frying pan.  add about 5-6 T. all purpose flour to the oil and cook the flour in the oil over medium high heat for a few minutes.  In my experience it does not really matter how thick, thin, or dry this mixture is.  What matters is that you stir like crazy and cook the flour a little to improve the flavor and to loosen any of the crunchy bits.  I ALWAYS use a large whisk to make gravy.  Add about 2 to 2 1/2 C. cold milk to the pan all at once and stir like crazy.  I never stop stirring.  It will thicken and be smooth.  Add salt and black pepper and taste.  Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Sit back and enjoy.


Easy Blackberry Cream Cheese Tart.

Ina Garten, also known as the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network,  inspired me when she put together her Italian Plum Tart to think about the carton and a half of blackberries in my refrigerator just waiting to become something delicious.

They had been $1.00 per carton Friday at the store and I had used the other two and a half cartons in fresh fruit salads,  At any rate I thought to try cream cheese and the berries in an adaptation of her recipe and it has turned out a delicious and easy tart I will make again and again.  Easy because the crust came together in the food processor and pushed right into place when plastic wrap was used as a barrier between the crumbs and my hands.  Here is how it came together:


9-10 Oz. fresh blackberries
2 T. minute tapioca
1/2 C. sugar for berries plus 1 C. sugar for crumb crust
pinch of salt
2 T. water for filling plus 2 T.  cold water for crumb crust
1 stick cold butter cut into dice
1 1/4 C. all purpose flour
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. baking powder
4 Oz. cream cheese

Preheat  the oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour a 9" spring form pan generously and set it upon a sheet pan. Combine the berries, tapioca, first amount of sugar, pinch of salt,  and water in a mixing bowl, stir well  and let stand about 15 minutes.   Meanwhile, measure into the bowl of your food processor the dry ingredients.  Add the diced butter and pulse until you achieve crumbles.  Add water a tablespoon at a time pulsing for 30 seconds in between to form larger moist crumbles.  You may add a very few additional droplets if necessary. 

Set aside 3/4 c. of the crumb mixture for the topping. Place the rest of the crumbs in the bottom of the prepared pan.  Fit a section of plastic wrap directly over the crumbs and pat them into a crust pushing the edges up the side about an inch.  Discard the plastic and dot the crust with small portions of the cream cheese.  I cut them into loose cubes the size of dice.  Spoon the berry filling over the cream cheese and sprinkle the remaining crumb topping evenly over the tart.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the crumbs are browned.  Cool for about 12-14 minutes than remove the sides of the pan.  Serve warm or at room temperature. 


Appetizers and Strawberry Shortcake Vodka Shots Start and Finnish Our Night Out with Friends.

We had plans Saturday night to dine out with our friends the Linton's.  They like to come and visit from across town every once in a while and we have done this for years.  Often we go to a local Mexican restaurant and enjoy catching up with Steak tacos and Shrimp Vera Cruise. 

When I plan for these nights I like to have a light refreshment of vegetables, fresh made dip, nuts and a few crackers served with wine.  Generally there is not a dinner salad per say served with a Mexican dinner.  This makes a vegetable tray with ice cold asparagus that was earlier blanched, sliced cucumbers, celery, and carrots a light fare and always a favorite.

The star of my planning this week was the dessert item for when we return from dinner.  Strawberry Shortcake Vodka Shots were just the right finale for the evenings fare.

Strawberry Shortcake Vodka Shots:

10 shortcake cups
1 carton strawberry cream cheese at room temperature
1 package strawberry flavor Jello
1 C. boiling water
1 C. ice cold vodka (berry flavor,  cake flavor, or plain)
fresh strawberries

Using a teaspoon place soft cream cheese into the depression of the shortcake.  The idea here is to smooth it well and create a barrier to line the depression so it becomes a cup to hold the vodka mixture.  Smooth the cream cheese and heighten the walls a bit to achieve this.  Refrigerate these when you have them completed.

Mix the boiling water and Jello in a bowl stirring to dissolve completely. (I used a large glass measuring cup for easier pouring.)  Add the vodka.  Refrigerate this but watch carefully.  When it is just beginning to thicken remove from the refrigerator along with the chilled shortcakes and fill.  Return to the refrigerator.  When I checked back a couple had either leaked or absorbed the vodka.  I just added more of the chilled strawberry vodka mix and these did fine.  Return to the refrigerator until serving time.  Wash and dry strawberries to garnish and serve on pretty plates.  These were a hit!!

"Fruit to Cleanse and Vegitables to Heal" So Barley and Vegitable Soup with Berries and Angel Food Cake Fits the Bill

To quote my friend Mickey who's website, "Top 1000 Natural Remedies"  found at,  you eat fruit to cleanse the body and vegetables to heal it.  Remembering this I set about to aid the healing of myself and our middle son who have this weekend found ourselves puny.

Starting out at 5:00 AM on Saturday morning I assembled root vegetables, dried peppers, seasonings, and meat bones to roast in a covered dutch oven.  I like to use the top ends of the celery bunch for this and a head of garlic, carrots, onions, and hot peppers dried from last years garden placing the vegetables in the bottom of the pot and the meat on the top.  Roast an hour covered at 350 degrees F.

Then I take the pan from the oven and pick through the vegetables discarding anything I don't want in the soup and adding water to cover and a bay leaf.  Then I bring this to a boil and then move to a simmer while I assemble the other ingredients.

Barley and Vegetable  Beef Soup:

2 pounds stew meat
2 pounds cracked or split beef bones 
1 large onion leave the skin on
1or 2 cups of celery tops in large pieces
1 head of garlic
2 dried hot peppers left whole
3 or 4 carrots
salt and pepper
Roast for an hour at 350 degrees than cover with water and add a bay leaf,  bring to a boil atop the stove,  and reduce to simmer in the same covered pan.

Meanwhile assemble:

2 cans tomatoes or 4 c. fresh peeled and seeded
3 C. green beans
2 C. rinsed canned pinto beans
1/2 C. okra
3 C. corn
3 C. peas
4-5 sliced carrots
4 C. shredded cabbage
2 turnips peeled and diced
3 parsnips peeled and diced
4 C. washed and sliced leeks
6 T. pearl barley
2 large potatoes peeled and diced
1 quart beef stock

Using a very large kettle (or cut the recipe in half) transfer the meat and the ingredients you want in the soup into this vessel.  Discard the bones, and onion with skins, garlic skins, hot peppers, bay leaf, and celery tops and carrots.  They are usually cooked to death by now and I do not want the soup to get any hotter from the peppers.

Add all of the rest of the ingredients with enough water to cover well and bring to a simmer.  I let it cook the rest of the day on simmer and add liquid as needed.  Taste and correct seasoning.  Serve steaming hot to cure what ails ya!

Angel Cake

1 C. sifted cake flour
1 1/2 C. sifted powdered sugar
12 egg whites at room temperature
3/4  t. cream of tarter
1/4 t. salt
1 C. granulated sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Inspect your tube angel pan to be sure it is perfectly clean and free of any grease or residue.

NOTE: Never use a plastic bowl or utensils when making an Angel food cake because if there is even the smallest bit of grease reside clinging in a crevice it will cause your cake to fail.

Sift together the flour and first amount of powdered sugar in a small bowl and set aside.  Crack each egg and separate it carefully placing the yolk into a vessel and setting it aside for refrigeration.  Then after inspecting each white to be sure no yolk has leaked place it into the bottom of a large mixing bowl made of glass or metal.  Add the cream of tarter and salt to the egg whites and turn the mixer on medium speed mixing until frothy.  Then increase the mixer speed to high and add the second amount of granulated sugar 2 T. at a time beating until stiff peeks hold their shapes when the beaters are lifted out. 

Gently fold in the flavorings by hand.  Then fold in the flour and sugar mixture gently by hand about a quarter of a cup at a time.  Do not stir or beat, fold.  Spread evenly into the pan running a table knife around the edges to deflate any large bubbles before placing in the oven to bake on the lowest rack for 25-30 minutes.

When done hang the cake upside down on a small bottle until it is cold.  (I use a soy sauce or steak sauce bottle.)  Run a knife with a long thin blade around both the outside of the pan and the tube before trying to remove it.  Frost or dust with sugar.  Serve with ice cream or sweetened fresh fruit. We especially like berries and I used them today.


Fresh Asparagus Soup the Easy Way

The asparagus is just beautiful now in the stores and the pricing hasn't been bad either.  We really look forward to this time of year as there was a treat we discovered a few years ago, asparagus soup.  It is really a springtime treat.

I have found a way to do this double duty and easy too.  When I see good product like this at a good price I buy a double amount.  The other evening we were having Salmon patties, asparagus, cottage cheese, and hot rolls for dinner.  I cooked double the amount I needed.  Brian's Aunt Virginia first told me how she made this soup and it has evolved from that discussion as I had never had it before.


2 lbs fresh asparagus
2 T. butter

Clean the asparagus by rinsing well and breaking off the tough ends where they naturally snap.  Place the rinsed asparagus in a shallow glass microwave safe bowl with a lid.  Dot with the butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Microwave on medium high heat covered for 8-9 minutes until tender crisp.  Serve but  save every bit of the cooking liquid and uneaten asparagus for the soup later in the week........

Asparagus soup ingredients:

1 lb. asparagus cooked as above
2 to 2 1/2 C. good chicken stock
1 C. heavy cream or half and half
1 to 1 1/2 C. cubed Velveeta cheese food or other good melting cheese of your liking.

Dice the asparagus into bit sized pieces and add with all of the drippings from the original cooking dish into a medium saucepan.  Add the chicken stock.  I usually enrich the stock a bit by adding a few additional bouillon cubes to make an intense and flavorful base.

Bring to a simmer over low heat.  Add the cream and cheese stirring occasionally until the cheese melts and the ingredients have melded.  NOTE  :  If you would prefer a richer and thicker soup this is easily accomplished by mixing 2 T. soft butter and 6 T. all purpose flour together until all of the flour is absorbed into the butter.  Drop this into the stock before it begins to boil and stir until thickened.  Then proceed by adding the cheese and cream and heating through.  Salt and pepper to taste and serve in large shallow bowls with crisp saltine crackers.  ENJOY.

Sewing up a Patriotic Pillow Today to Mark the 2 yr. Anniversary of this Little Blog!!

Today is a little milestone for me.  It marks the 2 year anniversary of this little blog.  It has given me great pleasure to get to know so many of you.  I have loved the wonderful comments and appreciated every single person who has bothered to take a peek at  There is a very special place in my heart for all of you who follow this blog and I really have become more thoughtful about this than I ever anticipated when it was started.

I didn't know how to mark today and so I asked my sister Linda, my next door neighbor Doris, and my best and dearest friend Diane for suggestions.  We kicked around a few things as women will do and patriotism seemed to be the winning topic.  I suspect with all of the troubles in this world, the upcoming election, and the disastrous state of the current economy it makes sense  to stop and examine our loyalty and perspective.

Websters Dictionary tells us a patriot is one who loves and defends his country.

Doris had made a lovely little "prayer" pillow about 4" x 4" to commemorate the tragedy of 9/11.  I was inspired to piece together a patchwork pillow top centering around the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and remembered I had saved some fabric with the pledge written across it.

Since this pledge was to be the center of the pillow I looked for additional scraps to piece the squares and came up with enough red, white. and blue to put one together.  I would like to tell you I measured and calculated but that would be a lie.  I just stacked up the colors I was going to use on the cutting board and placed the fabric with the pledge on top,  pulled out the straight edge rule I use as a cutting guide and cut a stack of rectangles. 

Next I monkeyed around with them until I found a pattern I liked.  Meanwhile I got out the ironing board and steam iron and cranked them up.  All systems are go now!  I cannot sew without a hot iron and the ironing board.  Call me crazy but dear old Ruth Sproat who was my Home Economics teacher and 4-H leader all those many years ago taught us right.  At least for the time.  I don't have a clue what they teach now.  Well anyway I am totally neurotic about pressing seams open, trimming seams, trimming threads as I go, and back-stitching.  As you can see I pressed everything and I trim as I go.

After joining the sides of the blocks and pressing them I had 3 rows of blocks to join and the top was complete.

 Next I embellished with a bit of eyelet ruffle by basting it right side facing down onto the right side of the pillow top with the raw edges together.  I sewed about 1/8" from the raw edge,  Next I pinned on the back side of the pillow right sides together matching the corners and edges and sewed right inside the line of baste stitching  leaving a 7" opening in the center of one side.  Be sure you don't leave a corner open as you will create problems for yourself that way.  Be sure to back-stitch both sides of the opening as it will have to endure the stress of your hand stuffing in the pillow form or batting, whichever you may choose. 

Turn the pillow right side out and push open the corners.  Stuff your pillow with your choice of fillers.  Pin the opening together turning the right sides under.  Hand stitch the opening closed and you are finished with the pillow.

I want to also thank all who serve now or have in the past served this country,  I thank their families for their sacrifice.

I encourage each and every citizen to get out and vote in the upcoming primaries and the general election.  Many have passed before us and much blood was shed and sacrifice made that we may do so.  God Bless America.


Sewing Basics, to Mend a Ruffle, Make Gathers,or Repair an Evening Gown!

Grandmothers come in handy, sometimes anyway!!  I think getting old is just OK because the result is that you "know things".  That comes in handy when your beautiful Granddaughter damages her gorgeous evening gown at the Prom.

When you are dealing with either making gathers or repairing them the basic thing I was taught was to begin with a basting stitch and then to place a second one about 1/4" from the first.  For this project I decided to use a single row of hand sewn basting stitches because of the lightness and the frailty of the fabric.  Due to the color of the fabric, it's sheerness and so forth I made a sample to share with you on a tea towel using contrasting embroidery floss.  The second challenge was to do this and not pucker or have to disassemble the entire shirt.  Because of the yards of fabric involved I choose to do the entire process by hand rather than by machine and to use a double strand of embroidery floss for the gathers and the stitching.  But only a single row of baste because it is such a frail fabric. 

After I completed the basting I pulled ever so gently until I achieved the correct amount of fullness in the ruffle and to be able to re-pin it to the exact place it was to begin with.  Next I secured everything with straight pins.  I left the ends free but wound the loose portion around a straight pin for the time being lest I need to make some adjustments.

Lastly I hand sewed the ruffle back into position using a tight running stitch and pulling the thread in small stitches all of the way through the underlining.  There you are good as new!

Summer Ice

All weekend I have been making summer ice.  By that I mean, I rinse out the old ice cube trays and chunk up what ever fruit is here into the sections of the trays.  Fill with water and stack them in the freezer section of the refrigerator.

Since I no longer drink any calories, this is a way I feel way less deprived.  It flavors the water, boosts my spirits, and tastes good when you get to the bottom of the glass.

You certainly can use it with other beverages besides mine. water.  This would be lovely with tea, lemonade, mixed drinks....just anything.  I expect it would be lovely used with all that new finagled fizzy water out there these days too.  Give it a try!

Pictured is blackberries with slivers of lemon and orange but I have made today strawberries and grapes!

The sky is the limit with this one.  I am thinking freezing cubes of cucumbers and radishes sounds sound just as refreshing.

Roast Beef Sandwiches, Our Favorites, with or without Au Jus.

There is just nothing any easier than cooking a perfect rump roast and enjoying it for delicious sandwiches, both warm as a main dish and cold for a lunch plate.  I don't have any idea how or when I stumbled upon or evolved into this but I am sure glad I did.  Often you will see rump roast on sale and you can recognize the the thin layer of fat that appears across the top of the roast, almost like a thin layer of frosting.

I season well and drop it down into a Dutch oven (cast iron if you have it).  Turn a small oven proof plate face down or use a small round rack if you have one, often you will find them in the bottom of a pressure cooker.  At any rate I position this in the bottom of the Dutch oven and center the roast upon it.  Then I add about 1 to 1 1/2 C. fresh water to the bottom.  The rack keeps the roast from direct contact with both the liquid and the hot bottom of the pan.  The steam from the water helps give you a fork tender melt in you mouth end result. 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. and place the pan in the center of the oven for about 25 minutes per pound.  The meat thermometer should read between 150 and 170 degrees depending on the doneness you prefer.  I always do this first thing in the morning when I get up so I can let the roast get cold before slicing.  

My husband's Uncle and his Grandfather were butcher and when I was a young bride I watched him carve a whole ham for the first time and have always remembered his instruction to me.  "Carve the meat always after it has set and cooled and it will retain its juices much better."  This is what I do and he is right.

The cooking liquid in the bottom of the pan is like liquid gold and is referred to as the Au jus.  Strain this, taste for seasoning, it should have an intense and slightly salty flavor.  Reheat at serving time in a small pan.  You may fortify it with additional beef stock base and water if you need more. 

To assemble for a main dish Au jus sandwiches saute onions if desired and prepare sliced cheese as desired or simply stack the slices of roast beef on sliced french rolls and pass the Au jus.  We use small dipping bowls or small tea cups at each place setting for the individual to pour the steaming meat broth into.  Then the sandwich can be dipped into the hot broth for each bite.

For luncheon sandwiches I like to heat the slices of beef to just warm in the microwave while the bread I have chosen is toasting.  Then I assemble with mayonnaise and crisp lettuce.  What a wonderful lunch!!

Steak 'n Taters.

Most men will tell you, at least the ones I know, they love steak and potatoes or meat and potatoes.  Perhaps it is a trait of those of us living in the "fly over" land that we cling to our meat and potatoes! (As well as pick up trucks with gun racks, work boots, and country music.)

Well anyway, I splurged at the butcher this week and bought 2 "Prime" graded rib eye steaks and prepared them last night for supper along with a potato casserole chocked full of onions, cheese,  and sour cream.  The result was a happy husband.  Further I topped off this popular meal with another favorite of my husband, fresh fruit salad for dessert.  The man went to bed with a smile on his lips after he finished smacking them that is!

Mike and Julie had given me a small clay roasting pan from Pampered Chef for my birthday and it is terrific to cook bacon in and so it was well seasoned.  Brian didn't feel like firing up the grill so I heated to oven to 425 degrees F. and let go with the potato casserole.  I think this is a knock off of the Cracker Barrel potato casserole and I first saw it at,  additional note: I have made adaptations as usual.

Note also please that I removed the steaks from the refrigerator 30 minutes ahead and let them come to room temperature as well as I placed the clay roasting pan in the oven to preheat it at the same time I turned the oven on to preheat.   I seasoned the steaks well with salt pepper and garlic powder before cooking. (1/4 C. black pepper, 1/4 C. garlic powder, 2 T. lemon pepper,  1 C. kosher salt)


2 1/2 pounds fresh hash brown potatoes (store bought, NOT raw and freshly grated)
1 C. sour cream
1 can undiluted cream of chicken, cream of celery, or cream of mushroom soup (whatever you have on hand will do)
1 stick melted butter, cooled
3/4 C. or one large grated fresh sweet onion
2 1/2 C. freshly grated cheddar cheese
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (Note, I did alter this and you need to be mindful if you do so and watch carefully.)   Butter generously or spray well with nonstick cooking spray a 9" x 13" pan.   Place the potatoes evenly in the prepared pan and season generously with salt and pepper.  Combine in a small bowl the butter, soup, onion, and sour cream ans whisk together well. Pour the soup mixture evenly over the potatoes and sprinkle with the grated cheese.  Bake for 45 minutes or until completely warmed and the cheese is melted and bubbling across the top. 

After I had cooked the potatoes at the higher temperature for 15 minutes I stirred them and positioned the 2 steaks in the searing hot grill pan next to them.  Set the timer for 8 minutes and pour a cold drink.  At the end of the first 8 minutes I turned the steaks and set the timer for another 8 minutes.  Finally I turned once again and set the timer for 6 minutes.  The steaks were done perfectly to medium rare but you will need to judge according to the thickness of the meat as well as you preference.

Mean time as our dinner cooked I put together a fruit salad from the left over melon and strawberries from the weekend adding a couple of sliced bananas, halved grapes, fresh blackberries and the juice of half an orange I found hiding out in the refrigerator.  It was a lovely dessert for a substantial meal.


Cinnamon Rolls Made with Cream Cheese Layers in the Pastry! OH MY!

I have been an avid fan of The King Arthur Flour Company for many many years and prose their catalogs like a hen lookin' for a June bug.   First I think their flour is the best I have ever found and have escalated my game to using their organic all purpose and bread flours.

Awhile back a recipe of theirs caught my eye (as so many have) for Cream Cheese Cinnamon Buns.  I made a mental note to add this recipe to my list of "going to try for sure" items.  Countless numbers of cinnamon rolls have been made and baked in my kitchen but these really peeked my interest because of the method of layering the pastry with softened cream cheese and folding and re-rolling, much like the method for puff pastry. 

Today was the day.  Actually I had intended  to get up early and get these going for breakfast but alas.  I slept too long.  I did make changes in the recipe but still they are the inspiration and the major portion of the recipe remains theirs and they certainly deserve their due for these delicious rolls.

Ingredients for the dough:

3/4 C. warm milk (about 110-115 degrees)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
8 T. soft butter (1 stick)
3 C. all purpose unbleached flour (I use King Arthur)
scant 1 T. instant yeast
2 T. dark brown sugar
scant 1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. vanilla extract

Ingredients for the fillings:

1/3 C. soft butter
1 C. packed dark brown sugar
3 T. Vietnamese Cinnamon
1 1/2 T. water
8 Oz. soft cream cheese

Icing Ingredients:

3/4 C. powdered sugar
1 1/2 T. cream

Using the large bowl of a stand mixer add all of the dry ingredients for the dough  and whisk together to combine well.  In another bowl or large measuring cup combine the wet ingredients and whisk to mix.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and use the dough hook to combine at medium speed.  Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.  The dough should all pull up around the hook.  Add a few tablespoons of flour if you need to.

Meanwhile butter a bowl well.  As soon as the dough has reached the smooth and elastic state turn it into the prepared bowl and turn once to butter both sides.  Cover with a damp clean tea towel and place in a warm place to double in bulk, about 2 hours.

Make the fillings by mixing the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Stir together with a 2 pronged fork until it is a mixture about the size of peas and set aside.  Using another small bowl and a hand mixer combine the water and cream cheese, beating until light and fluffy.  Set both mixtures aside.

When the dough has risen roll it on a floured board to a 14" x 12" rectangle.  Spread the cream cheese evenly over the surface.  Leave a 1/2" border around the outside.  Fold one short end into the center, fold the other short end over the first, like you would a letter.

Again roll and pat the dough until you have a 14" x 12" rectangle.  Fold it like a letter again and roll again to the same dimensions.  Spread the cinnamon mixture evenly over the dough.

Beginning with one long edge, roll the dough into a log.  Cut the log into 9 or 10 equal slices.  Place the slices into a greased 9 x 9" baking dish.  Cover and let rise again for 2 hours.

Now you have options.  You may either preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake for 30-35 minutes or cover the rolls well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for as long as overnight.  When you are ready to bake remove and let sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes then proceed with the baking directions as given. 

To ice, whisk the sugar and cream together and drizzle over the cinnamon rolls.  Serve warm.  Yield 9-10 rolls.  These are without a doubt the best cinnamon rolls I have ever made or eaten.

NOTE:  I baked these in an earthen ware dish and not a pan and I immediately inverted the rolls onto a large platter upon removing them from the oven and in essence frosted the bottoms after cooling.  I also prefer dark brown sugar to light brown which is what the original recipe calls for.  The King Arther website has their unaltered recipe at their website.  


Grilled Cheese BTL Club a Star on the Sandwich Board!

We love sandwiches and in the spring as we lumber out of hibernation I love to have sandwich meals and this is a great one for combining some wonderful elements on a dinner plate.  I made a recipe of white bread especially for these but you would do just as well using your favorite store bought loaves.

Ingredients per sandwich:
3 thin slices of bread (you favorite)
1 slice of your favorite cheese (or more if desired)
2 slices crisply cooked bacon *
2 thin slices red ripe tomato
2 leaves of washed and dried lettuce of your liking
mayonnaise and soft butter

To cook the bacon preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Meanwhile cover a large pan with foil and lay the rashers of bacon side by side.  Place in the oven and set the timer for 20 minutes.  Check for desired doneness and cook a few more minutes if necessary.  Remove the bacon to paper towels and drain well.

Preheat griddle or heavy skillet to medium high heat. Meanwhile butter all three slices of bread on one side.   Place cheese between two slices of bread making a sandwich buttered side out.  Place the sandwich and the third slice of bread in the hot pan and toast to a golden brown.  Turn the sandwich and repeat for the other side.  Remove the single slice when it has toasted and set aside.   Remove the grilled cheese when done.

To build the club sandwich slather a bit of mayonnaise on the top of the grilled cheese sandwich as it sits before you.  Place the halved strips of bacon atop the mayo, then the tomato slices and lettuce.  Top with the last slice of bread but add a smear of mayonnaise to the not toasted side and place it atop the lettuce.  Slice the sandwich into the desired portions and enjoy this marriage of two of my favorites!.