Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Family Traditions: Hoe Cake

No this is not a birthday cake for your sister! :) Hoe cake is (in my definition) a fried biscuit. My Great Grandmother Mama Bess (that's what everyone called her) was one of the best cooks I know. She turned nothing into something, made the best sweet potato pies EVER and the world's greatest seafood gumbo. At 4 foot 9 and 90 years old everyone of the grandchildren and great grandchildren used Mama Bess as a measure of whether or not you were grown, because if you were as tall as Mama Bess you were a grown up!

How I miss sitting and visiting with her and I wish that my daughters could have known her. To bring Mama Bess to life for my kids I make hoe cake! If you spent the night with Mama Bess hoe cake was breakfast with a snack of sugar bread later in the day. Mama Bess knew the way to any of her family's heart was through their stomach.

Cost: Less than $1 for all!
Calorie count: about 150 each

Here's what you need:

1 1/2 c. self rising flour
4 T. shortening
1/2 c. milk (more or less)

Makes 4-5 hoe cakes.
Here's what you do:

Blend flour with shortening (like you're making biscuits). I use a fork to cut the shortening into the flour. This is what helps make flaky layers DO NOT USE YOUR HANDS!

Add in milk a little at a time and stir until dough starts to stick together. It does now need to be 100% blended together. **See the little "chunks" where you cut in the shortening?**

Heat a skillet (I prefer my cast iron) over medium-high heat and put a small dab of shortening on the pan to melt.

Pinch off a handful of dough and pat it into a large flat pancake about 1/2 in thick.

Brown one side and add a little more shortening before flipping over to brown the other side.

Smother with butter while hot and then serve! Molly likes her's with syrup, I like mine with just butter or butter and jelly and Allyson just likes it period! It's also tasty with Apple Butter!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

I love my slow cooker!!! It's one of my favorite pieces of cooking equipment. Always there and ready, doesn't heat up the whole house and has dinner ready for me at the end of the day with little effort.  So if you don't own one, get one!

I found this original recipe on the Kraft Recipes site, but changed it up a bit to fit my family. My oldest daughter, Molly, is not much of a soup eater but she gobbles up this meal! The pieces of onion and celery are big enough to pick out for picky eaters. The Italian dressing and bbq sauce make for a different flavor combination that no one will guess.

Cost: $6.50 for the whole pot, so about $1.63 per person.
Calorie Count: About 200 calories

Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Makes 4 servings. Prep time 15 min. Cooking time varies depending on settings.

1 lb. stew meat
1 1/2 c. beef broth 0r 1 1/2 c. water with 2 beef bouillon cubes
1 pkg. Italian dressing mix or 2 T. homemade Italian dressing mix See the recipe here
1/4 c. BBQ Sauce, any kind
1 lb. red potatoes, quartered
4 large carrots, chopped
1 lg. onion, quartered
2 celery stalks, chopped

Mix all in slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or high 4 hours. The meat comes out tender and the vegetables are perfect.

I remembered I was suppose to take a picture, preferably before I finished the whole bowl!

Homemade Zesty Italian Dressing dry mix

We go through so much dry Italian dressing mix, that even when using my coupons it made more sense for me to make my own. I looked at several recipes online and like usual adapted them to make my own.

Zesty Italian Dressing dry  mix
Mix equal amounts of the following:

garlic salt
Montreal steak seasoning
celery salt
dried parsley
ground thyme
dried oregano
dried basil