"Piehole" in Midwestern means "mouth," as in "Shut your piehole." Preferably we shut it on some tasty home cooking. We love to grow, market, buy, cook, bake and grill so we can feed our faces, chow down, pig out, scarf & whatnot. I'm a born Midwestern home cook posting foods and recipes that show up in front of me, because like all Midwesterners I eat what's put in front of me. Pull up a chair. What can I get you?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sweet Potato-Chocolate Chip Cookies: Recipe

Definitely not "same trailer, different park," these cookies will raise eyebrows. They're easy to mix. The oven is slow to keep all the "sweetness" from overbrowning. Makes four dozen.

Sweet Potato-Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup mashed, cooked sweet potato (1 medium potato)
1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspooon lemon extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
dash of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the cooked sweet potato, butter, eggs, sugars and extracts. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sweet potato mixture and beat until blended. Fold in the chocolate chips. Drop by the teaspoonful onto ungreased baking sheets and bake at 300 degrees about 20 minutes, until firm in the middle.

Recipe comes from page 17 of a recent Penzey's Spices catalog, and is credited to Sharon of Milwaukee.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Loving a Recipe: Carrot Soup with Cilantro

About 18 years ago when I became a cook with cookbooks I started noting the date and any variations on the recipes I tried. If I made it again I noted it. There are notes saying "Bob says this is the king of breads" (that's a bread recipe), or "Tasty but not pretty enough for company -- grayish" (that's cream of cauliflower soup) or "This tastes great!! Why did I doubt?" (fusilli with caper sauce), or "9/14/07 I never poached an egg in soup before, but it's GOOD!" (herb bouillon) or "blender makes gummy potatoes." The notes have made my cookbook library (about 30 books) a priceless record of my daily life and love of cooking. Here's a favorite recipe for that healthy pound of carrots I always buy only to realize that nobody is going to eat 'em raw. The secrets to the soup include the apple, the sweet potato, the rice that makes the soup creamy without cream, and the "Fresh lemon juice to taste" (about 1 Tablespoon). I whip the chopped cilantro into drained yogurt to make cilantro cream to float on top of the finished carrot soup. Recipe comes from The Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook (the 1995 edition). I never have fennel seeds on hand so it's not in my recipe.

Carrot Soup with Cilantro (about 5 servings)

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter or corn oil
1 apple, peeled, cored and cubed
1 to 1-1/2 pounds of carrots, chopped
1/2 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons uncooked white rice
1/4 teaspoon turmeric or curry powder
5-1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 bay leaf (don't omit!)
salt and freshly ground black or white pepper to taste
fresh lemon juice to taste (about 1 Tablespoon)
2 Tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1/2 cup plain yogurt, drained
Heat the butter or corn oil and saute the carrots and sweet potatoes for about 5 minutes over medium heat, and add the apple and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the white rice, turmeric or curry powder, stock or water, and bay leaf. Cook for 20 minutes until vegetables and rice are soft. Remove bay leaf and puree the soup until smooth. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Pour into serving bowls. Mix the minced fresh cilantro with the yogurt and top each serving with a spoonful.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Favorite Pasta Sauce Recipe: Pasta a la Bandit

This fast and fragrant chunky pasta sauce made with a can of tomatoes along with butter, black olives and capers, is from a cookbook that a library sold me for 25 cents, called Cooking from an Italian Garden (1984). The recommended pasta is a long, hollow spaghetti called bucatini, which cooks in 11 minutes. Bucatini is hard to find here, so I ordered a 20-pound case directly from the DaVinci company. No kidding; I did. Substitute thick spaghetti and it will be fine.

Bucatini Briganteschi ("Highway-Robber Style") (serves 4 to 6)

2 Tablespoons butter
6 Tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1-1/2 cups (or one 14-oz can) diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
1/4 cup pitted and chopped black Italian or kalamata olives
1 Tablespoon whole capers
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 garlic clove, crushed or chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste (optional)
1 pound bucatini or thick spaghetti
3 Tablespoons freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Place butter and 3 Tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and heat. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes. Add the hot pepper, capers, olives, oregano and garlic. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until sauce thickens. Add the black pepper, if desired, and keep warm.

Cook the pasta in 4 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain and place in a warm serving bowl. Add the Parmesan and sauce and combine. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and the parsley, and serve.

Every recipe I have tried from this cookbook is a good and flavorful one!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dirty Rice with No Chicken Livers: Recipe

Flavorful, savory, beans and rice you will love, a meatless replacement for the classic southern "dirty rice" which uses chicken livers. Serves 8-10.
Pecan-Bean Rice
 4-5 cups cooked rice
1 red onion, chopped
1 bunch green onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 green pepper, chopped
2 Tablespoons oil
1 cup broken or chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can red beans, rinsed
1/4 cup soy sauce or Bragg's
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 Tablespoons sesame oil

Saute onions, garlic, and green pepper in the oil until soft. Add the nuts and cayenne pepper, and continue cooking. Combine the soy sauce and enough water in a measuring cup to make about 1/2 cup. Add the other sauce ingredients and stir well. Add to skillet mixture. Stir in beans. Turn down the heat and cover.

Grease a 9x13 casserole dish and preheat the oven to 350. Spread the rice in the bottom of the casserole and spread the skillet mixture over it. Dot with margarine and bake for 20 minutes; 30 minutes if rice is cold.