My mama said…..”Baking”.

So…

My mother was an incredible baker.  Hands down one of the best…ever. I am certain, by the stories she told me about her mother, my grandma Esther, that this was a skill that was, in part, handed down to her from her mother. However, I also know for certain that there was something special about my mother and her baking skills. Something God-given.  And lucky for us who knew her, she was happy to share her talents!

Me and my mom, circa 1972

She would bake for co-workers birthdays.  When I was in college she would send me care packages of cookies. Cookies that sustained me when my budget was tight.  When my husband and I first started dating and she knew we would be coming home for a visit, she always made sure that her goose shaped cookie jar was full just for him.

For many years, try as I might, I could never master the baking thing.  Cookies were either soupy or stony. Cakes were crumbly or still wet in the middle. I couldn’t even imagine thinking about baking a pie. I was convinced that the baking gene had skipped a generation.

And then one day I discovered a timer… and a little later patience.  And slowly, but surely, I discovered I DID have the baking gene!!  Thank you mom, grandma Esther and all of the ancestral bakers before me!  I am (kinda , sorta) a baker too!

Now, I will NEVER claim to be the baker that my mother was.  But I do have one secret weapon that she gave me.  A recipe book FULL of her own  recipes, written in her own hand and assembled just for me as a gift from her.  This recipe book is one of my MOST cherished possessions. It is one of the few things that I would be sure to grab in the event of a fire. Her recipes, though protected in plastic are well worn and well loved.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Recipe – Mary Hissong

Actually, when I really think about it, she gave me a second, more important secret weapon. Now when I bake,  I have the gift of my mother, herself. I have memories of helping her bake those treats for co-workers and learning to understand how this giving a little piece of yourself and your time can be one of the greatest gifts.  I have memories of baking Christmas cookies with her and later assembling trays of those cookies to give as gifts and to take to holiday parties.  I have the appreciation for those beautiful chocolate chip oatmeal cookies that sustained me through some rough college days.  And I have the gift of her teaching me about something she loved to do.

So…. I bake. And I share with you my mom’s recipe for those AMAZING Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies –  from the kitchen of Mary Hissong

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup of sifted Flour

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp water

1 tsp salt

2 eggs

1 cup soft butter

2 cups uncooked oatmeal

3/4 cup white granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

12 oz. chocolate chips

1 cup chopped nuts (optional – I never put nuts in mine)

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour with soda and salt; set aside. Cream together butter, sugars, vanilla and water. Beat in eggs. Add flour mixture and mix well. Stir in oatmeal, chocolate chips and nuts (if using).

 

Drop by rounded teaspoon fulls on cookie sheets. Bake in pre-heated oven 10 to 12 minutes

 

 

 

What’s in a name….

So…. as I embrace the new direction (or lack of direction) for this blog, I find myself searching for a new name for it.   While it will always be aliciamcewen.com, it will no longer be known as “The Hip Kitchen” (really, what was I thinking???). So I am asking you, dear readers, for suggestions. Thoughts?

 

Alicia

And…we’re back

So, it has literally been a few years since I have posted here.  How have you all been?  A lot has changed…and still some has remained. My husband and I are a few years older and a little grayer. Our children are almost adults. We’ve lost loved ones along the way.   Hopefully we’ve learned a little and let even more go. And still,  we have our health, our joy and our love for life.

This started out as a place to share recipes and my love of cooking. A place for my girlies to one day visit and be able to have a piece of their madre.  And I still have that intent.  But my interests have broadened and so will this site.  Following along with me and let’s see where this life takes us.

Alicia

White Bean Chicken Chili

So, today was a snow day.  It is white and peaceful and but super cold out there.  What could be better than a nice warm bowl of chili for everyone.  Luckily, I had planned this already for dinner this week and didn’t have to brave the “white death” to make it.  For all of my FB buddies who requested this recipe, here you go.

BTW, the following is double the original recipe and makes quite a large pot.  I always make this much so that we have leftovers.  It freezes well too, so you can drag it out and warm it up on cold nights when you don’t want to cook.

White Bean Chicken Chili

Ingredients:

2 medium onions finally chopped

6 tablespoons of olive oil

2- 4 oz. cans of chopped green chilies

4 tsp ground cumin

4  – 15 oz. cans of Great Northern Beans

2 -3 cans chicken broth (depends how thick or thin you would like this to be)

3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (I cheat a little here and use 3 large cans of white meat chicken)

Optional Garnish: Shredded Monterey Jack cheese, Sour Cream, Salsa, Chopped Green Onions

In a large pot cook onion in oil for approximately 4 minutes or until transparent.  Add chilies (undrained), flour and cumin.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes.  It will form a kind of paste.  Add beans (undrained) and chicken (undrained if you are using canned) and chicken broth.  Stir well to blend all of the ingredients.   Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until thickened.  If you would like the chili thicker, use a long spoon to mash some of the beans.  Garnish as desired.

A few crushed tortillas in this are an awesome garnish too, in lieu of crackers.  Tosito’s Scoops are fun to use too,  to scoop out the chili from your bowl (my girlies like to do this.)

Enjoy!

Thursday Night Cocktail

So, back in the day my husband and I did our undergrad “work” at Ball State University in Muncie, In. In our day, Ball State was considered a big party school and Thursday night was the official start of the weekend. All these years later, we still get a little itchy on Thursday nights. so… we get wild and try a new cocktail. Woo, hoo!! Tonite’s cocktail:

The Goombay Smash.
According to the master mixologist, Dale Degroff, this is the drink preferred by the locals in the Bahamas. A great summertime drink!

1 1/2 ounces Gosling’s Black Seal dark rum
3/4 ounce cocnut rum
3/4 ounce triple sec
3 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice

Combine all in a mixing glass over ice and shake until frosty. Strain over glass with ice. Enjoy!!

Stuffed Green Peppers

Dags and Harp love these.  I usually make them when green bell peppers are cheap.  It’s also the kind of meal that taste better as leftovers.

6 green bell peppers

12oz -1 lb ground turkey
Olive oil

1 medium onion chopped

2 cloves of minced garlic

2 tbs fresh tarragon chopped (or 2 tps if dried)

2 cups of cooked rice, I prefer brown

1 can (14-15 ounces) tomato sauce

6 large tomatoe slices

6 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Chop off the top of 6 green bell peppers, clean out seeds and membranes.  Retain tops.

Blanch the seeded peppers in boiling water for about 5 minutes.  Remove from water and drain on paper towel.

Meanwhile dice the the retained tops of the green peppers.  Combine turkey, chopped green peppers, garlic, tarragon and olive oil. Cook until turkey is browned.  Add tomato sauce, rice and salt and pepper to taste.

Fill each blanched pepper with turkey/rice mixture.  Top each pepper with a tomatoe slice and a a tablespoon of parmesan cheese.  Place peppers in a shallow baking dish and bake at 350 for half an hour.

If you have left over stuffing add some excess tomato sauce or stewed tomatoes to the rice mixture.  It makes a yummy and hearty soup/stew.

Enjoy!

Not Suddenly Salad Pasta Salad

Here’s the pasta salad I served at a previous cocktail party.  I created this back in the day.  The day in this instance means when we didn’t have much cash.  We ate a bunch of this box stuff called Suddenly Salad.  It got to be too much and too salty and too out-of-a-box so I decided to create my own.  This is what I’ve came up with after a few trials and errors and it’s been a family favorite every sense.

1 lb farfalle (bowtie) pasta, whole wheat if you can find it
1 small can of sliced black olives
1/2 a medium red onion-chopped
1 large tomato-chopped

4 oz crumbled feta cheese.  Sometimes I use the kind with sun dried tomato and basil

As a dressing I use Ken’s Steak House balsamic vinaigrette – just  to taste.  I usually use a 1/2 – 1 cup.
Sometimes I like to put in a couple dashes of italian seasoning or some fresh basil and/or oregano from the herb garden.

If you need to take something to a picnic or a party this is a great dish!

Enjoy!

Chicken Thighs with Apricot Glaze/Marinade

Chicken thighs are cheap.  Here’s tonight’s recipe using them.

Apricot Marinade/Glaze
1 10 oz jar of Apricot Jam ( you can use preserves, but jam is less chunky.)
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup of OJ or bourbon.  Tonight we are <gasp> out of bourbon.

Mix all that together and pour over the chicken thighs.  We use this for pork loin too.  It’s too strong for the delicacy of chicken breasts.

I pour this over the meat.  If I have time it’s a marinade.  If not, it’s a glaze.  Cook the chicken thighs at cook at 350 or so until done.  If you are using it for a whole pork loin, cover the loin for the first half hour while you are roasting it.  If you don’t the glaze will be burnt to a crisp by the time the loing is cooked.  With either dish, make sure you let it rest for 5- 10 minutes before digging in.

Band Banquet Dessert- A Trifle

Okay, so I didn’t make those cupcakes for my daughter’s band banquet.  Too little time.  Too little patience.  But will save for a later time.   However, I did make a quick dessert that was a hit.  How do I know it was a hit?  A 7th grade boy told my husband who was carrying the empty triffle dish that it was the best dessert of the night.  Here’s how I did it:

Start with  two Entemann’s golden  pound cakes, two pounds of fresh strawberries (since they’re in season), a 12 oz container of strawberry glaze,  two containers of whipped cream and my Pampered Chef glass trifle bowl.

I  sliced, then tore the pound cake into bit sized pieces, washed and cut the strawberries and mixed with the glaze.  Then the layering bagan . Pound cake on the bottom, layer of strawberries, then whip cream, then repeat.  I garnished the top with some whole strawberries.  If you’re feeling patriotic on Memorial Day or the 4th, you could include a layer of blueberries atop the layer of strawberries and maybe include a few in the garnish. Not including shopping, it was a dessert succes done in 15 minutes.   Pretty to look at, but even better to eat!

 

Yum!

Mushroom Blue Cheese Turkey Burgers

These are awesome!!!!  My 8 year old who doesn’t like mushrooms or blue cheese gobbles these right up (no pun intended)!  I found the original recipe at www.allrecipes.com.  A great website that I use quite a lot. Here’s a link to the original.

Here is my own version with a few “tweeks”.

This makes about 12 muffin sized burgers.  You can patty them out and grill or bake them.  If I am baking them, I use my favorite Pampered Chef stoneware muffin pan.

2 lbs of turkey
8 oz of sliced  button or baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1 egg for binding
4 oz crumbled blue cheese
2 tbs soy sauce depending on how salty you want it.  I tone this down a bit and don’t add salt elsewhere.  The cheese brings it’s own salt.

The secret to getting the burgers right is mixing it with your hands, so wash up and dive in! .  If you are using the oven cook at 350 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes.  Grilling should be about the same depending on the heat of your coals. 

These are great even without a bun, which is how we typically eat them (gotta watch those carbs). A little garnish of tomatoe, red onion, even a little avacodo and you are good to go.   A side of sweet potatoe fries is an awesome compliment to this meal, but you’ll have to come back later for that recipe.

Enjoy!