My Grandma’s Collard Greens

Collard Greens1

Happy Fiesta Friday #31, all! I’m super glad to be headed to today’s party hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener. I wanted to save this recipe for a Fiesta Friday because it’s not only one of the best things I’ve ever made, but also because it is very, VERY special to me and my family heritage. A few weeks back, I made a full-blown Southern Meal for my family with Triple Dipped Fried Chicken and Hushpuppies on the side- but as delicious as both the chicken and hushpuppies were, they just wouldn’t have been complete as a meal without this dish.My Grandma’s parents were farmers in Jefferson Davis County, Mississippi. I was too young to be able too be there in their hey-day and see the farm as it was when they weren’t older and infirm, but I’ve heard plenty of stories from my Grandma, Mom and Aunts.

Even though they all lived in Michigan, every summer my Grandpa would take my Grandma and their three daughters down to Mississippi for the summer to visit my Great-Grandparents on their farm. My mom didn’t really like it, for a number of reasons:

Collard Greens3

First, she was a self-described “city girl”. My great-grandparents’ farm was literally a on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Because it was the summertime in the Deep South in the mid 70’s, there was (of course) no air conditioning, and the majority of the windows were left open at all hours of the day and night in order to allow the breeze to cool down the house. My mom (having just read In Cold Blood by Truman Capote) was convinced that a serial killer was going to break into the house and murder everyone and tells me that she used to walk around the house, checking and re-checking doors and windows for intruders.

Second, my mom couldn’t get into the whole ‘ farm experience’. My great-grandpa’s enormous hunting dogs on the porch frightened her by running up to the car and surrounding it every time they drove up to the house. Apparently the chickens were demon possessed and chased her around everywhere. Plus, a lot of the food that got served on the table at my great-grandparents’ house came from the farm itself- including the meat. My mom had a hard time eating the chicken that she saw get shot, decapitated, plucked, and butchered just a few hours ago.

One thing she consistently talks about, are the big ‘Meetins’ that they all used to attend. For those who aren’t Southern or aren’t familiar with the Baptist tradition, the big ‘Meetins’ (you have to say it just like that, no ‘g’s allowed) consisted of large gatherings of the local Churches where they would all hold one, long service that LITERALLY lasted all day long, then conclude with a pot-luck style feast composed of all the dishes that each of the women would make before hand and bring to share.

Collard Greens4

At any true Southern church meetin, you’re guaranteed to find a pot of greens. They’re almost like a symbol of the South itself. When you eat them, you can practically taste all the history and soul that they come from with every bite.

My Grandma’s greens are the thing of legend. Collard Greens, Mustard Greens, Turnip Greens, and (my personal favorite) Cabbage Greens. She does them all, and she does them all perfectly. I’ve said it before on the blog, and I’m gonna say it again: her greens would be on the menu of foods I would have to eat if I was on Death Row and given a last meal to eat. Give me a big bowl of greens and two hunks of her cornbread, and I don’t even need meat. They’re really that good.

The greens that she makes for the family come straight out of her backyard garden, but I’ve also made this recipe with greens that I’ve bought at grocery stores and farmer’s markets- however, if you know someone who grows greens or can get to a farmer’s market, then I do strongly recommend that you get them that way. The quality of homegrown greens is so much better than the ones you get in the stores.

Collard Greens2

My grandma usually uses whole ham hocks to flavor her greens, but because I know that not everyone can get their hands on those (and because depending on where you live, they can get pretty pricey), I adapted this recipe so that it’s do-able for just about anywhere using regular bacon (note: you CAN also use turkey bacon, or even smoked turkey instead of the pork). This recipe is also one where you’re going to have to use your personal taste-testing skills to judge how much or how little seasoning you add. I judge what to add or not add by tasting the liquid given off by the greens after they’ve been cooking half-way through or so (we call that stuff the Pot Likker in the South, and it’s friggin awesome). When they’re done, i do have to emphasize that cornbread with greens is a must- one hunk for dipping in the pot likker, and another hunk for crumbling over the greens themselves.Oh, and if you have access to some zesty, jarred Southern Cha Cha (some people call it Chow Chow), then you need to sprinkle some of that on top too. It’ll send your bowl of greens and cornbread over the edge and into the galaxies of awesomeness.

 I’ve got this down to a science, can’t you tell?

Try this dish, guys. I don’t care if you have so-called ‘picky eaters’ in your house- I was one of those people growing up too. And I STILL couldn’t get enough of these greens.

fiesta-friday-badge-button-click-to-join1

********************************************************************

My Grandma’s Collard Greens

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 6 bunches of collard greens, washed, stems removed, and sliced into about 1/2 inch thick strips
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 16 oz. thick cut bacon
  • Onion powder
  • Sugar
  • Salt and black pepper
  • About 1 1/2—2 cups low sodium chicken broth

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 450°. Arrange bacon on a cookie sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes. (The bacon is not supposed to be crispy– it’s okay if it’s still a little floppy or limp.)

2. Remove bacon from tray and roughly chop into lardons, or large chunks. Set aside.

3. Drain the remaining drippings and grease from the sheet pan into a bowl and set aside.

4. Place the greens in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the chicken broth, onion and bacon and mix together. Season the greens with onion powder, sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

5. Cover and allow to cook until greens are tender and wilted, about 35-45minutres, depending on how tender or firm you like them. Make sure the liquid doesn’t get absorbed, or they’ll scorch!

6. Taste the juice the greens are cooking in and adjust for seasoning.

Hawaiian Bread

Hawaiian Bread3

When my throat’s sore.

When my nose’s stuffed.

When I’m feeling sick.

I simply remember my favorite things- and that always does the trick. (Don’t laugh. You try coming up with a rhyme on the spot like that.)

So yeah guys: I’ve been ill with a pretty bad cold over the past few days. The blame lies with twin sister Jas, who had it first, then so graciously passed it on to me. Thanks a heap, Jas. Just because we’re twins, doesn’t mean we have to share EVERYTHING.

Hawaiian Bread1

Not gonna lie, the past few days have been kinda miserable; I contracted the worst sinus infection, and as such was unable breathe properly through my nose- which is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves/irritations. My head felt like it was hit by a mallet from the pressure in my sinuses. I had to get up from my desk at work every five minutes to go to the bathroom to blow my nose (because I’m too self-conscious to do that in public). I  also have the voice of a 20+ year chain smoker right about now.

But rather than spend this post holding a personal pity party for myself, I decided instead to just stay positive and focus on the silver lining in the clouds. Maybe if I think on some of my favorite things, this friggin cold won’t seem so very bad.

Hawaiian Bread2

Favorite Food: Pancakes. Hands down. No competition.

Favorite Day of the Week: Friday. (…Partyin, partyin’ yeah! Partyin’ Partyin’ yeah!) Am I the only one thinks of that darn crappy song at the very mention of the word?

Favorite Movie: A & E’s “Pride and Prejudice” (Starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth) This movie can literally make everything that’s going bad in my world suddenly feel fine. It’s just perfection itself.

Favorite Thing to Wear: Loose fitting shirt with black yoga pants or leggings. It’s a look that can be casual, comfortable, and even cute.

Favorite Book of All Time: This one is a tough one to narrow down, but I have to say it’s “Forever Amber” by Kathleen Windsor; this book is the best historical fiction I’ve ever read- and I’ve read a lot. I always read it at least once a year.

Favorite Cartoon Character: Daria Morgendorffer- I loved watching this show when I was younger and as soon as it came out on DVD, you better believe
I snatched it up. Daria’s dry wit was just classic.

Favorite Weather: Blue/Gray sky with thick & fluffy clouds, where the temperature is around 60-70 degrees outside. It just makes the atmosphere seem so calm and mellow.

Favorite Time of Year: November 1st-December 24th. Thanksgiving and the Christmas season is LITERALLY my favorite time to be alive during the year. I love the food, fellowship and celebrations that take place over both holidays.

Favorite Reason For Laughter: An inside joke with me and my sisters. Some of the stuff we laugh over is just as random and crazy as we are.

Hawaiian Bread4

Favorite Music Genre: Classic Jazz. Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday,  Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Carmen McRae, Doris Day, Julie London, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin. Need I say more?

Favorite Baby Names: Hannah Grace for a girl, and Michael Orlando for a boy.

Favorite Super Hero: Batman. He’s a human with no supernatural powers, but he’s still big and bad enough to hang with the best of them.

Favorite Fairy Tale: Rapunzel, with Rumpelstiltskin as a very close second.

Favorite phrase: God Is in Control. I have to tell myself this maybe 50 times a day, and sometimes that’s still not enough.

Favorite TV Series: I’m sorry. I cannot, CANNOT give just one answer to this…or two. Or three. Or four: Breaking Bad. Scandal. The Office. ER. Sons of Anarchy. House. Boardwalk Empire. Game of Thrones. Downton Abbey. House of Cards. With those choices, there’s no way I can pick just one winner.

Favorite Rom Com: My Best Friend’s Wedding. I’ll never hear the song “I Say a Little Prayer” the same way again- and I’m totally okay with that.

Favorite Vice: Extra dessert- even when I know I don’t really want/need it. Because, clearly that’s not the point.

Favorite Thing to Make in the Kitchen: Bread. I can still remember the first time I was able to make from scratch, yeast bread all on my own. I was so proud of myself. To this day, making delicious bread still just makes me feel great.

Hawaiian Bread5

Speaking of bread…

I did some reading up on this dish and apparently, Hawaiian bread actually has roots in Portugal as a sweet, egg based bread, then gradually migrated over to Hawaii where it became a trademark bread for both sweet and savory applications.Here in America, I generally see them in the well known Kings Hawaiian orange plastic wrapping. My grandma buys them a lot for holiday gatherings like Christmas or Thanksgiving. And because it’s something you can technically buy in the store, I of course am sharing a way that you can make it for yourself at home. Because that’s just how I roll.

I’ve had this recipe bookmarked on my Allrecipes.com account for a long time now. Because I make it apart of my responsibility to make sure that my family always has bread to eat on the side at dinner, I needed a new one to make, and decided that this one would be it.

It’s become another one of my Favorite Things.

**************************************************

Hawaiian Bread

Recipe Courtesy of Allrecipes.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 (.25 ounce) envelopes of active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour

 Directions

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the yeast mixture, eggs, pineapple juice, 1/2 cup water, sugar, ginger, vanilla, and melted butter. Gradually stir in flour until a stiff batter is formed. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

3. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a well floured surface. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and form into round loaves. Place the loaves into three lightly greased round cake pans. Cover the loaves with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

4. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bottom of a loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

 

Note: Bread is ‘done’ when it reaches an inner temperature of 190°-F so if you  have an instant read thermometer, it helps to be sure!

Triple Dipped Fried Chicken

Triple Dip Fried Chicken1

There are a select few places in my hometown to go if you want to get good fried chicken.

I hope I’m not stepping on anyone’s toes when I say this, but Kentucky Fried Chicken does not happen to be one of them. While I personally don’t think that their chicken is nasty per se, I don’t feel like it’s as good as it used to be in the early 90’s. Ever since KFC tried to ‘keep up’ with the other fast food chains and their ever evolving and growing menus and adding a bunch of other extraneous stuff, I feel like their chicken has suffered in quality. I understand that businesses want to keep up with the Joneses. However, when you’re good at one particular thing, sometimes you just need to stay in your lane, you know what I mean?

When I was a freshman in high school, my city got our first and only Popeyes Chicken- and you would have thought that the Pope had come to town. For two solid weeks, that place was absolutely packed to the max, with the line for the drive through going clear down the street. Not that it was unjustified- Popeyes chicken is  a major step up from KFC in terms of quality in general, and their biscuits are to die for. However, that furor died down and these days, while the chicken is still usually pretty good, there are some days that are largely hit and miss.

Triple Dip Fried Chicken3

There used to be two Ponderosas in my city as well, and while I’m not a huge fan of buffet food, I will say that their chicken wings/drumsticks were very delicious.However, they’ve both closed now so that point is kind of irrelevant at this point.

 We have a business down the street from my house that serves up chicken, gizzards and standard Southern sides. The food is pretty decent, however I was put off the last time that I went there this past winter and saw that the owner was so cheap that he didn’t turn the heat on and the employees were working in their coats just to stay warm. Not only does that strike me as unsanitary, but I was appalled at the idea of an owner that would force his employees to work in those conditions. Haven’t been back since, suffice to say.

Triple Dip Fried Chicken2

As decent as those other places are, everyone in my city knows that the best place to get fried chicken, is (rather ironically) a fish market. Inside, it’s a room of glass display cases filled with various fish to buy whole and fresh. In addition to the fish, they also for some reason have a whole array of Southern style food that they make to order in the back. The place is kinda small. And being a fish market, it stinks. However, it does serve the best chicken you’re going to get in the city. It’s so good, that nobody even calls it by it’s true name. It’s gained a catchy little nickname over the years instead: “Crack Chicken”.

Yep. I’m not kidding.

Triple Dip Fried Chicken5

Maybe I should have added a caveat to the beginning of this post: there a select few places to go in my city to get good  fried chicken if you’re going out to eat. If you want the best fried chicken period- well, not to blow my own horn or anything but…then you need to come to my house.

I make really, really REALLY good fried chicken, guys. It’s just the truth. I’m not a fan of how messy and greasy it can get sometimes, and it did take me a while to learn, but once I did, I really hit my stride.

Triple Dip Fried Chicken4

Good things come in 3’s, right? I don’t know anyone that would disagree with that when it comes to triple dipped fried chicken.The skin is the best part; the crispier the better. So with a triple dip, you better believe this chicken is the real deal when it comes to the crunch. I made this chicken for my family as part of an authentic Southern meal alongside these Hushpuppies. It was a hit. But c’mon: triple-dipped fried chicken? How can you go wrong there?

I’m taking these to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #30, party this week, co-hosted by Margy @La Petite Casserole . Hope to see you all there ;-)

fiesta-friday-badge-button-click-to-join1

********************************************************

Triple Dipped Fried Chicken

Recipe Courtesy of Allrecipes.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups beer or water
  • 1 quart of vegetable oil, for frying
  • 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces

Directions

1. In one medium bowl, mix together 3 cups of flour, garlic salt, 1 tablespoon black pepper, smoked paprika and poultry seasoning.

2. In a separate bowl, stir together 1 1/3 cups flour, salt,1/4 teaspoon of pepper, egg yolks and beer. You may need to thin with additional beer if the batter is took thick.

3. Heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 350°.Moisten each piece of chicken with a little water, then dip in the dry mix. Shake off excess and dip in the wet mix, then dip in the dry mix once more.

4. Carefully place chicken pieces in the hot oil. Fry for 15 t0 18 minutes, or until well browned. Smaller pieces will not take as long. Large pieces may take longer. Remove and drain on paper towels before serving.

 

Flour’s Famous Sticky Buns

Sticky Buns2

When was the last time you had to do something that required a whole lot of effort?

I can think of several things in my life that I’ve had to do that really forced me to go the extra mile and push myself to the limits to make sure that I got the job done.

Example? Well, let’s take the ISP (Integrated Physical Sciences) course that I took when I was still an undergrad student at Michigan State. It was a requirement for every student to take one before they could graduate. By the time my fifth year came around (‘Super Senior Year’ is what we called them), I still had to get mine out of the way. Now before you get all judgmental on me for that, just hold your horses for one collard-pickin minute and let me explain:

I had a personal goal to keep a very good GPA throughout my undergrad career. This is not easy to do when you’re trying to juggle two jobs (at one point, I had three because I was crazy). Additionally, I’d witnessed one too many other people attempt to get all of their requirements out of the way when they first got to campus freshman year,then witness their GPAs plummet at the subjects they weren’t very good at. This wasn’t going to happen to me. Nope. That’s why, by the time my first year of college came around, I had my strategy all planned out.

Sticky Buns1

Whereas most freshmen took the  required classes that they thought they would struggle in the most first-I did the complete opposite. I took all the classes I knew that I would do very well in first. Turns out, this was a pretty smart idea because there’s a little secret that they neglect to tell Freshmen about concerning the GPA: it’s very VERY difficult to build back up once it goes down. You’re much better off starting off strong, then gradually allowing it to drop little by little rather than making it plummet right off rip then try to rebuild it back up. Which is exactly what I did. I waited until the last couple years of my undergrad years to take my math and sciences classes- which were still extremely challenging.

I ended up having to take one Math class 3 TIMES. (Don’t ask,it’s still too painful to talk about). My second math class is a blur to me-all I remember was that I did a lot of praying and drank more coffee than was healthy for me. And I swear that my Statistics class was specifically designed to shave off 5 years of my life.

The only reason I passed my Biology course was because I did every single extra credit assignment that my professor assigned- and I really, really REALLY didn’t like him. He was one of the most arrogant jerks I’d ever met and getting up at 8:00 am every Monday morning to listen to him lecture (literally)was just NOT  fun. He was one of those teachers that liked seeing students fail his tests because it made him feel smarter. Just thinking about him now is putting me in a bad mood.  I couldn’t stand him to the point where Hell would freeze over before I gave him the satisfaction of not passing his class. I definitely did.

Sticky Buns4

My Physics class was the last one that I had to take. It was a summer course, which meant it went much faster than normal classes during the Fall and Spring semesters.It was also an online class, meaning that we never even saw the professor besides the lectures videos he uploaded to  a website.Our assignments were submitted electronically and we all had to go into a lecture hall on campus to take 3 tests, and that was it. The cool thing about the tests were that the professor allowed us to have one double sided cheat sheet that we could use.

That was all I needed to hear.

Looking back, the effort I put into my cheat sheet was kinda ridiculous. I wrote as small and tiny as I possibly could to make sure I could fit every single piece of information on the paper. And just to make sure I didn’t waste time during the test looking for the colossal amounts of information i was writing down, I eveen color coded the cheat sheet according to specific topics. I wasn’t leaving ANYTHING to chance. I was GOING to pass that class.

And I did. Rather well, actually.

And my GPA when I graduated? 3.527…like a Boss.

Sticky Buns3

Like the cheat sheets from my ISP class, these sticky buns require a little bit of extra effort. But like the cheat sheets, they are also SOOOO worth the end result. My twin sister had been asking me to make them for weeks before I finally gave in and decided to give them a go. I’ve heard of this recipe because of the extreme popularity of the bakery, Flour that they originally come from that’s run by Joann Chang. People supposedly line up and wait hours for these sticky buns…and I can’t say that I blame them. The verdict from my family was unanimous; they’re fantastic. What really sets them apart from your typical sticky bun has gotta be the ‘goo’ that they’re topped with. It’s thick and gooey, but not overly sweet. The dough is what requires the extra mile, as it’s supposed to set up overnight in the fridge, but like I said, you’re not going to regret it. It’s golden, buttery and tender brioche at its best.

I’m taking these sticky buns to the Fiesta Friday #29 hosted this week by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and cohosted by Jhuls and Selma.  I certainly hope you’ll be there to join us at the party to get one….because these babies just aren’t gonna last that long.

fiesta-friday-badge-button-i-party

*****************************************************

Flour’s Famous Sticky Buns

Recipe Courtesy of Joann Chang

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION (PAGE 1, PAGE 2, PAGE 3)

Ingredients

Goo

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks;)unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Basic Brioche Dough, recipe follows
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Brioche Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups (350 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • 2 1/4 cups (340 grams) bread flour
  • 1 1/2 packages (3 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast or 1-ounce fresh cake yeast
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 3/8 cups (2 3/4 sticks;) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar & cook, stirring, to combine (it may look separated, that’s ok).

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, &salt. Strain to remove any undissolved lumps of brown sugar. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature. You should have about 3 cups. (The mixture can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

3. Divide the dough in half. Use half for this recipe and reserve the other half for another use. On a floured work surface, roll out the brioche into rectangle about 12 by 16 inches and 1/4-inch thick. It will have the consistency of cold, damp Play-Doh and should be fairly easy to roll. Position the rectangle so a short side is facing you.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and half of the pecans. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Starting from the short side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. Try to roll tightly, so you have a nice round spiral. Trim off about 1/4- inch from each end of the roll to make them even.

5. Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to cut the roll into 8 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2-inches wide. (At this point, the unbaked buns can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week. When ready to bake, thaw them, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, then proceed as directed.)

6. Pour the goo into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the surface. Arrange the buns, evenly spaced, in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm spot to proof until the dough is puffy, pillowy, and soft and the buns are touching-almost tripled in size, about 2 hours.

7. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 350 degrees F. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the dish on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. One at a time, invert the buns onto a serving platter, and spoon any extra goo and pecans from the bottom of the dish over the top. The buns are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, and then warmed in a 325 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes before serving.

Brioche Dough:

8. Using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and 5 of the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all the ingredients are combined. Stop the mixer, as needed, to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.

9. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, 1 piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all the butter to be thoroughly mixed into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.

10. Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny, another 15 minutes. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually it will turn smooth and silky. Turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling at it; it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in 1 piece.

11. Put the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof (that is, grow and develop flavor) in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight At this point you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

 

Hushpuppies

Hushpuppies1

Guys, guess what?

I just got a new computer. After four years, my old Acer finally had to buy the farm. See what had happened was, the power cord jack has been increasingly wearing out to the point where the cord couldn’t stay inside of it by itself.Because new laptops are expensive (and because I’m cheap) I put up with it for a while, just not plugging it in until I needed to, then being sure not to move the laptop too much (or so much as a inch at times). It was super annoying, but I still roughed it out.

But last week, I had myself a little scare. I needed to charge my laptop, so I plugged it in….and nothing happened. It didn’t pick up the signal from the wall charger. And my battery was running low.

Did I mention that all of my photos, documents, programs from the last five years are stored on my Acer laptop? No? They definitely are.

Hushpuppies2

So yeah, that resulted in a mini freak out on my part where I frantically plugged, unplugged, re-plugged, and re-unplugged my laptop- all while softly muttering prayers to Jesus that if he let my computer charge just one more time, I would promise  to finally stop being such a cheap skate and just get another one. I also may have swore to go serve in a leper colony somewhere for the rest of my life.

(Yes, I know that even if the computer had went dead, I’d be able to take it somewhere to recover the files off my hard drive. I’m not a complete idiot- I was just having a complete melt down and wasn’t thinking straight. Plus, weren’t you listening? I’m a cheapskate. Paying for a new computer AND paying someone to recover the files off my old laptop to transfer to the new one? Ain’t nobody got for that.)

Well, I don’t know which one those promises to Jesus did the trick, but the signal finally did connect between my old Acer and the charger. Crisis averted-temporarily anyway. Now I had to keep  my promise and buy a new laptop. (I’m choosing to assume that He knows my promise about the lepers was just Jessica being His usual, crazy, overeaacting Jessica. He knows I’d be useless in a leper colony, anyway)

Hushpuppies3

 I got my new laptop a couple of days later, and it’s pretty awesome. All my other laptops have been ‘economic’ purchases, where I bought something that would suit my purposes, but wasn’t the ‘one’ I wanted.

This HP ENVY x360- 15 Touch laptop, is definitely what I want. It’s not only beautiful, it also came with as much space as I could get on a laptop without being a desktop computer. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a new laptop… and isn’t a Mac fan. Because I’m not. #TeamPC til the day I die.

Anyway, moving onto the food. I decided to put a real Southern meal on my family’s table and this was one of the things I made to go on the side with the rest of the food (other recipes from that meal to follow).

Hushpuppies4

Why are these things called hushpuppies? Do we have something against just calling them what they are (cornmeal fritters)? I was curious, so I did some research (meaning I just googled it) and found out that they get their name from the Civil War Era, where they were thrown to hunting dogs to keep them from scaring prey away, or at picnics/cookouts to make them  ‘hush’. True? Maybe, maybe not- but all I know is that just bout everyone seems to love them.

Hushpuppies are a staple of classic Southern food- they’ve got to be done right, and these don’t disappoint. The exterior is perfectly browned and crisp, with the inside soft and tender. I eat mine several different ways: doused in Frank’s Red Hot, crumbled over my greens, or even dipped in ketchup (it’s good, trust me).

These are an excellent side dish- or you could just eat them all on their own. I wouldn’t judge you.

********************************************

Hushpuppies

Recipe Courtesy of Pat and Gina Neely

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup self rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 small Vidalia onion, finely grated
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese, optional

Directions

1. Preheat 2 inches peanut oil in a deep-fryer or Dutch oven to 375. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, 1 teaspoon salt, the sugar, cayenne and paprika in a large bowl to get rid of the lumps.

2. Mix in the remaining ingredients, stirring well to combine.

3. Dip 2 spoons into a mug of water (this allows the batter to come clean off). Scoop up about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the batter and carefully slide it into the hot oil, working in batches. Fry the scoops of batter 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked all the way through (test the first one for doneness).

4. Remove and drain on a paper towel-lined baking sheet, seasoning with salt as they come out of the fryer.

Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad

Pizza Pasta Salad1

I know, I know. Another ‘pizza’ themed recipe. I’m sure it’s kinda getting to be overkill at this point, right?

Well just bear with me one more time. This’ll be the last ‘pizza-style’ recipe I share for a while (at least I THINK it will. I may change my mind about that), and it really was too good NOT to share with you all in the case that you hadn’t heard of it before.

Does pizza have a flavor? I don’t mean the individual ingredients themselves, I mean the actual dish of pizza in and of itself- does it have a specific taste and flavor all on it’s own?

I think so. I mean, I sure can pick out a particular smell at my job and immediately think, “Someone here ordered pizza.”

Then I stick out my bottom lip and kick an imaginary rock because somebody has pizza and they’re not sharing it with me.

I don’t care if it’s just one of the $5 Hot-N-Readys from Little Caesars. When you’re at work and you smell pizza, ANY kind of pizza smells and looks good. And when you don’t get any, you just get in a really rotten mood, then turn back to your crappy food that you brought from home and tell yourself that it tastes just as good. (It definitely doesn’t. Very few things taste as good as pizza.)

Pizza Pasta Salad2

I decided to make this dish purely out of curiosity. I thought it sounded like a good idea, but wasn’t exactly sure if pasta salad- that most famous dish of cookouts that’s usually just seasoned with a bottle of Italian dressing, could actually taste like the ‘flavors’ of a pizza. As it turned out, it really did because the first thing that came out of mouth when I took a bite of this was, “Heh. It tastes like pizza.” (i.i, delicious)

Although the title of this recipe is Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad, I think you should really just adapt it for yourself, and throw whatever you eat on your pizza, into this salad. Supreme Pizza is just what I like, so I used the toppings, plus some roasted red peppers that I roughly chopped up.

Pizza Pasta Salad3

Well, I kinda take that back. There are some rules that go with this when it comes to add-ins. You have to put pepperoni in this- even if you don’t like it on your pizza. And if you don’t like pepperoni on your pizza, then you’re dead to me.

Also, if by some horrible error of your tastebuds in fooling you into believing that you like things like anchovies or black olives on your pizza, then you shouldn’t add them in here either. They’re both disgusting. They’ll ruin the dish.

I’m taking this dish to this week’s Fiesta Friday #28, hosted by  Margot and Saucy.  Give it a shot,  it’s quick, easy, and tastes like pizza: what more do you want from me? ;-)

Pizza Pasta Salad4

And now, because I’ve run out of things to say and am too lazy to try and think of anything else to discuss: some completely random facts I hunted down just for you guys.

  • It takes the “Where’s Waldo” artist one month to complete a drawing. (Yeah, I can definitely buy that. I have no idea how that guy can make so detailed drawings that, save for the one itty bitty space where Waldo is hiding, are wholly insignificant. Great talent.)
  • Oprah Winfrey earns $315,000,000/year = $26,000,000/month = $6,000,000/week = $850,000/day = $35,000/hr = $600/minute = $10/sec! (I don’t know whether to be really happy about this because Oprah represents such a Cinderella story, or really depressed because my yearly salary is what she makes in an hour and a half.)
  • Make a fist with your left hand, squeeze your left thumb and then put your right index finger down your throat. “NO GAG REFLEX” (OMG, guys, I actually tried it, and it worked! #MINDBLOWN)

fiesta-friday-badge-button-i-party

********************************

Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad

Recipe Adapted from Rachael Ray

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
    1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 8 fresh white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 stick pepperoni, casing removed and cut into a small dice
  • 1 (9.6 oz) bag of pre-cooked sausage crumbles
  • 20 leaves fresh basil, torn or thinly sliced
  • 1 pound rotini pasta, cooked to al dente and cooled under cold water, then drained

Dressing:

  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves or Italian dried seasoning
  • 1 rounded tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, eyeball it
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

 Directions

1. Combine tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, peppers, pepperoni, mozzarella, basil and pasta in a big bowl.

2. Whisk garlic salt, oregano or Italian seasoning, tomato paste and vinegar together. Stream in extra-virgin olive oil while continuing to whisk dressing.

3. When oil is incorporated, pour dressing over pasta salad, add a few grinds of black pepper to the bowl. Add the parmesan cheese, then toss salad to coat evenly. Adjust your seasonings and serve salad.

Pizza-Style Meatballs

Pizza Meatballs1

Happy Fiesta Friday #27, (hosted by Saucy @Saucy Gander and Margot @Gather and Graze)! Thanks to all of you who stopped and commented and liked my post last week. Not only was it my first time hosting Fiesta Friday, I also shared a bit of my own family heritage in relation to my My Grandma’s Banana Pudding. To date, it’s the most popular post I’ve ever done on the blog- something I really wasn’t expecting, but am very grateful for. Thank all of you for making me and my lovely Grandma feel so appreciated and welcome. I really do appreciate that.

One of the earliest memories that I have of pizza will always be associated with John, the guy that always made our Sunday night pizza at the local Papa John’s Pizza.

Now, this wasn’t a Papa John’s of the huge franchise with the jerk CEO that  to this day I absolutely refuse to buy from. This was a small, independent chain that I don’t even think went outside of our city. There was no design on the pizza boxes- they were just plain old white cardboard, with a piece of scotch tape pasted on the edge to keep it closed. They were also dirt cheap, which was really the only way that we could afford to eat pizza back then. (These were the much ‘leaner years’, you understand.) Every Sunday night, my mom would pile me and my sisters into the back of our 1988 Delta and we would drive down to the Papa John’s for our large pepperoni and ham pizza, where John the Pizza Guy would always, without fail, be there to greet us with a smile.

Pizza Meatballs2

If I close my eyes, I can still see his face. He was tall and ginger haired, with freckles all over his face and arms. His voice was nasal, and to be honest it reminded me of the voice of Telly from Sesame Street. l really liked him.  He had an infectious smile and in all the many times I saw him, I never once saw him in anything but a bright and cheery mood- despite the fact that he always seemed to be working in the store alone while one other guy that we never saw much of strictly did the pizza deliveries. John had a wife and (if my memory serves me right) four small children at home. I remember hearing about them and thinking that someone as nice as he was must have been a really good daddy, even if he couldn’t be with them on Sunday night.

Pizza Meatballs3

It may have been cheap, but that pizza was so good. The crust was crisp and browned on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The cheese was perfectly browned and not laid on too heavy, while the sauce was sweet and slightly thick. John sure could make a good pie, and we faithfully went to get it every Sunday night, then went home to watch The New Adventures of Lois & Clark (remember that show?) over dinner.

Unfortunately, that Papa John’s closed a while ago and has since been replaced with several other businesses that never seem to hang around that long. Still to this day, every time I drive past it I remember John the pizza guy with his warm smile and Telly-voice that made such good pizza for me and my family. It’s always a really good memory.

Pizza Meatballs5

Apart from loving pizza itself, I like trying out other foods that try and duplicate the flavor of pizza. It’s a great way to try and get your pizza fix in without constantly eating it all the time (not that I EVER get tempted to do that or anything). One weekend, I decided to make two dishes that would achieve just that, and I think the results were great.

I got this idea from a recipe for meatloaf that I’ve been using and loving for a pretty long time. Instead of making it into one loaf, I thought that I could instead mold it into meatballs, bake them off, then simmer them in a delicious pizza sauce.

Pizza Meatballs4

I could see these making a great appetizer or game food, but we just ate them as a main course over rotini pasta.

So, what’s the general consensus here?

If you like meatballs, you will love these. If you like pizza, you will love these.

If you don’t like either meatballs or pizza…you will still love these. Yep, you will.

fiesta-friday-badge-button-i-party

*****************************

Pizza-Style Meatballs

Recipe Adapted from Ragu®

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 1 envelope Beefy Onion Soup Mix
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cups garlic bread crumbs, plus about 3/4 cup extra
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Pizza or tomato sauce

Pizza Sauce*

Note: You may want to double the pizza sauce recipe, depending on how much sauce you like with your meatballs.

  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350° Place a wire rack over a half sheet pan and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

2. Combine first five ingredients in a bowl. (If mixture seems too wet, add more breadcrumbs. If too dry, add more pizza sauce.)

3. Shape meat into golf-ball sized meatballs and place onto wire rack. Bake in oven for about 15 minutes, then rotate meatballs and continue to bake for about 5-7 more minutes, or until crisp and browned on outside.

4. Meanwhile, make pizza sauce: combine all ingredients in a deep sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium heat until sauce begins to boil. Lower hear to a low simmer.

5. Remove meatballs from wire rack and GENTLY place into pot of pizza sauce. Cover, and allow to cook at a simmer, about 15-20 more minutes. Serve over rotini pasta or egg noodles.