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My Grandma passed away at the age of 94. She was a wonderful cook and I was lucky enough to inherit her recipes. Many date back to the 1940s and 50s. Grandma prepared them in a charming country kitchen with no running water and most of her produce came from her garden, not from the grocery store. These are made-from-scratch recipes. I wish I had spent more time with her in the kitchen and . . . I wish I had spent more time with her for so many other reasons.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sirloin Steak with Cabernet Mushroom Sauce

Grandma didn't have a gas grill.  She did all of her grilling on a charcoal grill or with the broiler in the oven.

Select about a 7 oz sirloin steak for each person
Season them with salt and pepper and allow to sit at room temperature for about 1/2 hour
Place steaks on a hot grill or in the broiler and cook for about 6 minutes on each side
Remove from grill and allow to rest for about 20 minutes

Cabernet Mushroom Sauce
3 Tbsp butter
2 oz dried porcini mushrooms (snipped into small pieces)
4 oz sliced button (white) mushrooms
1 white onion, sliced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup Cabernet Sauvignon (or you may substitute a good Burgundy)
2 cups beef stock
1 Tbsp cornstarch, stirred into 2 Tbsp cold  water
Salt to taste

Melt the butter in a heavy 10" skillet over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms, onion, thyme, black pepper and 1 oz of the beef broth.  Saute, stirring often, until mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the red wine and stir well, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.  Cook until the win has been reduced almost to a glaze.  Stir in the remaining beef stock and bring to a full boil.  Stir in the cornstarch slurry and continue to boil just until sauce has thickened, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and add salt, if desired.

Serve the sauce over the steak.

Steamed broccoli and roasted potatoes are a perfect way to complete this meal.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dinner on the Grill - We just call this Packets

Growing up, my mom would occasionally make "Packets" for dinner.  They were neat folded foil packets holding a hamburger and veggies.  They were always a family favorite.  There was lots of prep work involved and an hour of cooking time in the oven, but they are delicious and well worth the wait!

This is one of my go-to recipes when the weather is hot and I want dinner on the grill without heating up the kitchen.  Serve this with your favorite lettuce or fruit salad and you have a dinner to satisfy the whole family.

3 1/2 lbs ground beef
6 medium potatoes (washed and sliced into thin round slices - I don't peel my potatoes)
1 lb carrots (washed, peeled, and sliced into 1/2" slices)
1 large onion (large dice)
6 stalks of celery (washed and diced)
2 cans Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup
2 cups water
Seasoning salt and pepper to taste
8 sheets of aluminum foil about 24" long

Prepare 8 hamburger patties from the ground beef
Wash and slice potatoes and place in a bowl of cold salt water
Wash, peel and slice carrots into 1/2" slices and place in a bowl
Peel and dice one large onion and place in a bowl
Wash and dice 6 stalks of celery and place in a bowl
Open 2 cans of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup

Place a hamburger in the center of the sheet of foil.
Sprinkle with seasoning salt and pepper.
Top with 1/8th of the diced onion, potato slices, carrots, and celery.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Spoon 1/4 can of soup on top of veggies.
Pull sides of foil up to the center and fold to seal top and one end of packet.
Pour 1/4 cup of water into the open end and then seal.
Place packet on tray to carry to grill.

Complete all 8 packets and then place on pre-heated grill.  Cook for one hour over medium-high heat, turning after 30 minutes.  If you can't do this on the grill,  cook in the oven at 450 degrees for 1 hour.

Be careful when serving.  These will be very hot and steam will escape from the packet when opened.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Summertime Lemonade

In a large pitcher stir together 3 cups cold water, 1 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice, and 3/4 cup of sugar.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Serve chilled over ice.  It's so refreshing.

If you want to jazz it up a little bit, try one of these combinations . . .

Add watermelon puree and serve with watermelon wedges
Add a few fresh blackberries
Add honeydew puree and a few slices of kiwi
Add a few fresh raspberries

I'm sure there are lots of other combinations, but these are a few of my favorites!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Corn Chowder

This is a perfect recipe to use the season's sweet corn.  I'm a huge fan of corn on the cob and this uses fresh corn.  Grandma had the best recipes to use everything that grew in her garden.

8 ears fresh corn (shucked)
8 strips bacon (crumbled)
4 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic (minced)
2 ribs celery (finely chopped)
1 medium yellow onion (finely chopped)
1 fresh bay leaf
6 cups milk
3 medium new potatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs) - peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Bring a large stock pot full of water and 2 Tbsp salt to a boil.  Boil the ears of corn for 10 minutes and then allow to cool.  Slice the corn kernels off the cob, scraping the cob with a knife to extract the flavorful juices.  Halve 5 of the bare corn cobs crosswise, discarding the rest.  Set corn cobs aside.

Heat the bacon in a 6 quart pot over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 12 minutes.  Reserve 3 Tbsp bacon for garnish, leaving the remaining bacon in the pot.  Add butter, thyme, garlic, celery, onions, and bay leaf.  Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften, about 6 minutes.  Add the reserved corn kernels and cobs, milk, and potatoes.  Cover, bring chowder to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.  Skim any foam from the surface of the soup.

Discard the cobs and bay leaf; transfer 1 1/2 cups of the soup to a blender, and puree.  Stir puree into the chowder to thicken it.  Season with salt and pepper and serve garnished with reserved bacon and basil.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Grilled Orange Chicken Fingers

This is a recipe kids are sure to love.  Serve this with carrot and celery sticks with Ranch dip and you'll have the perfect warm weather dinner for the family.

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (trimmed of fat)
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp frozen orange-juice concentrate (thawed)
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
salt to taste

Cut chicken crosswise into 3/4" wide strips.  Whisk together mustard, orange juice concentrate, honey, sesame oil and pepper in a medium bowl until smooth.  Add the chicken and toss to combine.  Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat grill.  Lightly oil rack or coat with nonstick cooking spray.  Remove the chicken strips from the marinade, discarding remaining marinade.  Grill until no longer pink in the center, 2 - 3 minutes per side.  Season with salt and serve.