A day in the life of a cook in her kitchen

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Sometimes the simplest dinners are the best dinners. I made this macaroni and cheese dish last week. It was a huge hit with all of us…SCORE!! It is perfect for our new Fall daylight savings. It comes together very quickly. … Continue reading

Opening Day Chili Dogs


chili-cheese-dog

It’s Opening Day here in Detroit!!  GO TIGERS!!

Growing up in NE Ohio, I was raised an Indians fan.  I used to love going to Muncipal Stadium with my Daddy.  No matter where we were or what we where doing my Dad would say’ “Listen, we can stay here or we can go watch the Indians play.”  I always chose baseball.  I remember being about 12 or 13 years old and our family was spending the day at Geauga Amusement Park. It was my dad’s annual company party.  We got up at the crack of dawn loaded up the stationwagon with baskets of food for the Potluck lunch and we were off.   Mid-day we we all gathered in the picnic area to have lunch and my dad said, ” Listen we can stay here until 7:00 this evening or we can get our stuff and go watch the Indians play.”  It was a great day for baseball!  Like I said, I always chose baseball.  Mark and I have carried that tration on with our children. They always choose baseball too!

Opening day is a day of hot dogs, peanuts and a soda. No recipe needed for that, but if you want to make a great chili dog today look no further. 

I hope you enjoy your day no matter what is going on Choose baseball.

GO TIGERS!!

Enjoy and Happy cooking,

Vonnie

 

Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped

2 pounds ground beef

16 ounce can of tomato sauce

1 cup beef broth

2 Tbsp molasses or honey

2 Tbsp sweet paprika

1 Tbsp ground cumin

1-2 Tbsp chili powder

Salt

Hot Dogs

Buns

Chopped onion, for garnish

Shredded cheddar for garnish

 

DIrections;

. Add chopped onions to a large skillet and fry over high heat, stirring often, until they begin to brown. Add in the ground beef and stir in well. Cook this, still over high heat and stirring occasionally, until the beef is browned.  Once the beef is well browned, add the tomato sauce, molasses and beef broth. Add all the spices and stir well. Bring to a simmer and taste. Add salt if it needs it.  Let the chili cook on a gentle simmer for at least 30 minutes before you start grilling the hot dogs. You can cook it several hours if you want to, adding a little more beef broth if the chili begins to get too dry.  Prepare hot dogs any way you prefer.  Top hot dogs with chili sauce.  Adding chopped onion and shredded cheese if desired.

 

 

Chicken and Noodles


chicken and noodles

This is one of my favorite Winter recipes to make when I have a little bit of time.  It is worth the extra work.

Your family will love this one!

Enjoy and Happy Cooking,

Vonnie (A cook in her kitchen)

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole Cut Up Fryer Chicken
  • 3 whole Carrots, Diced
  • 2 stalks Celery, Diced
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Pepper (more To Taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Thyme or a couple sprigs of fresh
  • 2 teaspoons Parsley Flakes
  • 16 ounces Frozen Egg Noodles( I use Reames Brand)
  • 3 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour

 

Directions:

Cover chicken in 4 quarts water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Remove the chicken from pot and with 2 two forks, remove as much meat from the bones as you can, shredding meat as you go along. Return bones to broth and simmer on low, covered, for 1 hour.

Remove bones from broth, making sure to get all the small bones.

Add the carrots, celery, onions, garlic, herbs and spices to the pot. Stir to combine and simmer for 10 minutes.

Increase heat and add noodles and chicken. Cook for 10 minutes.

Mix flour and a little water. Stir until smooth. Pour into soup, stir to combine, and simmer for another 4-5 minutes, or until broth thickens a bit. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.  Enjoy!

 

 

Savory Vegetable Bread Pudding


Looking for a hearty vegetarian main course entree? You’ve come to the right place! This dish will wake up your taste buds and will be so satisfying your family will want seconds and your guests will ask for the recipe.
Most of you know I cook for families on-the-go. I tend to make home style, stick to your ribs dinners. All dinners include a meat entree, vegetable, salad, homemade bread and dessert. Well, all dinners except for my families that request vegetarian. Therefore, I am always searching and trying different meatless entrees.
While reading a recipe for sweet and delectable bread pudding (that recipe will be a different posting!) I thought what if I made a savory bread pudding that used fresh farm market vegetables and herbs. Well, needless to say it was a great thought!
Enjoy and Happy Cooking,
Vonnie

Vegetable bread pudding

Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced in 1/2″ chunks
2 medium carrots, cleaned and sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 bag baby spinach
1-2 TBSP. Olive oil
6 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 cups cubed Italian bread (about 1 inch cubes)
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 TBSP. fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
4 basil leaves, rolled and sliced

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk eggs, milk and Dijon mustard in a large bowl. Stir in bread cubes, half the cheese and the Montreal Steak Seasoning.
Saute Onions and the next 5 ingredients in hot olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in spinach, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Fold vegetable mixture into egg mixture. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until center is set. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Slow Cooker Beef and Pepper Sandwiches


Peppery Beef SandwichesI was shocked when I was reading a recent article about the advantages of using a Slow Cooker and read many people around the world simply haven’t heard of a slow cooker, yet alone have they had the pleasure of cooking in one. Think about it, for decades now, we’ve all been brought up that most of our mom’s kitchens and now ours have at least one slow cooker ( I have three). But the slow cooker still remains widely unknown. The slow cooker, also called a Crockpot is an appliance which takes longer to cook your food. But, as a wise person once said, “those who wait and are patient, always win the race”.
Now yes, slow cooking your food may take up to 8+ hours in length, but the process is well worth it. You can set up your slow cooker and leave it cooking for hours without looking at it once. In fact, that’s the main selling point. You can leave it cooking away while you’re at work. And when you walk in the door, Dinner is Served (well…almost!!)
You can adapt many conventional recipes for the slow cooker. Any oven or stove top recipe that has some moisture in it–whether from water, broth, wine, sauce, or canned soup–should work beautifully in your favorite appliance, just keep these things in mind:
•Cut all liquid amounts in half when adjusting for the slow cooker.
•The low heat setting is approximately 200 degrees F (95 degrees C) and high heat is about 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
•For every hour you’d cook something in the oven or on the stove, allow 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
This sandwich recipe is to die for! The slow-cooked beef becomes so tender that it shreds easily with a fork. And the banana peppers add so much flavor. Top it with a slice of Swiss cheese and it becomes indescribable!
Enjoy and Happy Cooking,
Vonnie

Ingredients:

3 pound boneless beef chuck or eye of round roast
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP. instant beef bouillon granules
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-16 ounce jar Banana peppers (mild or hot), drained. Reserve a bit of the juice
Swiss Cheese slices (optional)
Buns

Directions:
In a 3 1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker and combine meat, onion, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon granules, oregano, basil, thyme, and garlic.
Cover; cook on low setting for 10 hours or on high setting for 5-6 hours. Shred meat with fork/s. Stir in drained banana peppers and a little of the juice.
If adding cheese, spoon meat on buns and top with cheese. Broil sandwiches until cheese melts.
Servings: 8 large sandwiches

Beer Braised Beef with Fall Vegetables


When the air turns a little crisp here in Michigan I grab my box labeled Fall Recipes. This is my most requested meal this time of year.  I love to braise beef.  It is a wonderful way to turn an inexpensive piece of meat into a moist and tender dinner with a huge outcome of flavors and praise!  I also like to use our local brew-pubs in-season beers.  My favorite is Liberty StreetBrewing Companies Pumpkin Pie Ale.  If you don’t have a brewery close by Guinness is a great choice.  Also, I have used Blue Moon Belgian-Style Wheat Ale.

As with most stews, this is great the first day, but even better the next.  I love to serve this with a nice salad and thick bread. My friend Sue Ford’s Oatmeal Bread is perfect. (Recipe is in the archives)

Enjoy and Happy Cooking,

Vonnie                                                                                                     

Ingredients:

3  tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2  tablespoons canola oil

1  (2 pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed

1  teaspoon salt, divided

1/2  teaspoon black pepper

1  cup  fat-free, less-sodium beef broth

4  garlic cloves, crushed

1  (12-ounce) bottle dark beer

1  bay leaf

3  carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices

3 parsnips, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices

3 small turnips, peeled and cut into wedges *

1  medium onion, peeled and cut into wedges

1/4  cup  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°.

Place flour in a shallow dish. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle beef evenly on all sides with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper; dredge in flour. Add beef to pan; cook 10 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add broth and next 3 ingredients (through bay leaf), scraping pan to remove browned bits; bring to a boil. Cover and bake at 300° for 1 1/2 hours. Add carrots; cover and cook 25 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, turnips, parsnips and onion; cover and cook an additional 1 hour and 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender and beef is fork-tender.

Remove beef and vegetables from pan; discard bay leaf. Cover beef mixture; keep warm. Let cooking liquid stand 10 minutes. Skim fat off of broth or try this great tip. (Place a zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measure. Pour cooking liquid into bag; let stand 10 minutes fat will rise to the top. Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain cooking liquid into a medium bowl, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat). Serve cooking liquid with beef and vegetables. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon parsley.

* Note……If you have never tried turnips, try them. They are wonderful, especially in this recipe but if you just aren’t a fan you can substitute  3 Yukon potatoes peeled and cut into wedges.

.

A Walk Down Memory Lane


Original post: July 16,2010

When I found the grocery list this morning at my local market I thought it would be fun to share with all of you since that was my intention when I started Chellengeu2cook. I read the list and my mind went back in time probably 14 years. I had been invited to my very first Pampered Chef party and the consultant made this dinnertime salad. Needless to say, I had to buy the Busy Mom’s cookbook. I used to make this for summer lunches when we lived in Ohio, but haven’t made it once in the 9 years we have lived in Michigan. Funny how the mind works isn’t it?  Anyhow, I hope you enjoy! Mark and I had it for lunch today and it was delightful. Just as I remembered!  From the list I used sausage, potatoes, onions, Dijon mustard, sour cream and good beer. Not Bad!!
Hope you enjoy and Happy cooking,
Vonnie                                                                                                                      

PS…Share your recipes you came up with for the latest grocery list!

From The Pampered Chef Busy Mom’s Cookbook, 1996.
Opening page:
This book is for all the mothers, fathers and caregivers who make careful, loving meal preparation part of their busy lives… and for the thousands of Pampered Chef Kitchen Consultants who help make the lives of everyday cooks a little easier and a lot more fun. Doris Christopher, Founder and President.

Meat”n” Potato Salad
1 pound smoked sausage cut into 1/2 inch thick slices ( I used a pre-cooked Italian sausage)
1 pound small red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I used white potatoes)
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream
2 TBSP. cider vinegar
2 TBSP. mayonnaise (I used Miracle Whip)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup red onion chopped

Place sausage, potatoes and chicken broth in a large frying pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.   Meanwhile combine sour cream,vinegar,mayonnaise,mustard,sugar, and salt in a 2 qt bowl. Set aside.
When sausage and potatoes are finished cooking, drain and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Add sausage, potatoes, bell pepper, and onion to sour cream mixture. Toss to coat. Serve warm or cold.
Yield: 4 servings

Grandma Taylor’s Cabbage Rolls


an·tic·i·pa·tion

noun

1.the act of anticipating or the state of being anticipated.
2.realization in advance; foretaste.
3.expectation or hope.
4.previous notion; slight previous impression.
5.intuition, foreknowledge, or prescience.
Origin:  1540–50; (< Middle French ) < Latin anticipātiōn- (stem of anticipātiō ), equivalent to anticipāt ( us ) (past participle; see anticipate) + -iōn- -ion
Why did I start my blog off with the definition of anticipation?
To enrich my readings vocabulary?
Sure…but I am confident you already frequent this word in your daily life.
To educate you in the origin?
Ok….I do love finding the derivation from a source.
To make my readers wait just a few more seconds for my most requested recipe?
YES!!
                                                                                                       
SO…..here it is the most requested recipe.  When I make these or my mother makes these for parties everyone asks “Can I PLEASE have the recipe?”
BUT…before I divulge the secret,  I have to tell you how this recipe started in my family.
Here goes….
As you have read in my other posts, I had the most wonderful Grandma in the world.  She was smart, and funny, and beautiful.  I loved her with all my heart and I wanted to grow up to be just like her.  She worked in the Trumbull County Recorders office. Anything that when through the courts, crossed my Grandmother’s desk and she recorded it in huge ledger books. I used to love to go to her office. Anyhow…
She was friends with the”local” celebrity Norma Antenucci.  Norma had a local cooking show back in the 60’s, and she published a cookbook called “Norma presents….. a collection of her favorite recipes. (I have my Grandma’s signed copy)
My Grandma would make these cabbage rolls when I was growing up and it was always a big family favorite.  My mother carried on the family tradition after my Grandma passed. And now it is my turn.
My family isn’t one of those richly ethnic families with great traditions passed down generation to generation. I always dreamed of being in a family that was so lucky .  But I do have some stories and recipes that come close. We were a very close family and I always loved my Sunday’s with my Grandma and Grandpa Taylor.
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do and my family does.  And I would be honored if it became one of your traditions and much-anticipated recipes in your repertoire.
Hope you enjoy and Happy Cooking,
Vonnie
Grandma Taylor’s Cabbage Rolls
Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound pork sausage or ground pork
3/4 cup raw rice
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/8 tsp. celery salt
1 large head cabbage
1 large can sauerkraut, drained
1 can tomato paste diluted with 3 cans of water.
Directions:
Cook head of cabbage, core side up, in saucepan with about 2 inches of water.  Cover.  Steam just long enough for the leaves to become pliable and easily removed.  Cut off tough core at bottom of leaf.
Combine meat, raw rice, slightly beaten eggs and seasonings.
Place a large spoonful of meat mixture on cabbage leaf and roll leaf starting at the bottom end of leaf.  Tuck under the sides to give packaged look.  Make as many rolls until you’ve used all the meat mixture.
Make a layer of sauerkraut in bottom of roasting pan.  Place a layer of cabbage rolls on top of kraut.  Repeat until all cabbage rolls are used and end with sauerkraut on the top.  Pour tomato sauce over all.  Cover tightly.  Bake in a moderate oven 350 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours.
My Grandma and my mother always serve these with Mashed potatoes.
*I have also done this recipe in the crockpot and it comes out perfectly.

Summer Time Strawberry and Nut Salad with a Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette


This morning I woke up realizing “Today is the first day of my summer break! I am home… Well, that isn’t going to stop me.”  I got my chores done early, I made myself a glass of sweet tea, I suited up in my beach attire, and grabbed my sandchair….”WAIT…. no beach or ocean?….No worries”. I grabbed my Ipad, set up my sandchair in the middle of my patio, sweet tea in hand, chicklit beach book in the other and I was off to the “beach”!

 

 

“Except I don’t smell fresh ocean air. I smell the remnants of my dogs morning feeding that didn’t get picked up(if you know what I mean), and I don’t hear seagulls or waves crashing….WAIT!….I have Ambiance on my Ipad!… I hear waves and seagulls!! I have a sweet tea, a sandchair and a smutty book… Still no sand, but the bricks are hot and it’s a sunny day with a breeze…..EXCEPT… The neighbor kids are riding their bikes and ringing their bike bells yelling, “Shut up, I’m telling!”…NO!!…I am at the “beach”! I hear the waves and seagulls, I smell my suntan lotion, and I feel the heat of the sun…BEEP, BEEP, BEEP… What is that? Is that a delivery truck? ….DING, DING, DING….SHUT UP!!….I’M TELLING!!…MOM!!!……. What’s that odor? Oh yea….Stupid Dogs! …. OMG!!!…. Was that a frog that just hoped by my feet?…. MOM… I’M TELLING…. DING, DING, DING!!!

AWWWWWW……

OK….

I am not at the beach….I am on my patio, hearing sounds and smelling odors that do not resonate from the beach….BUT I am thinking of summer time recipes and most importantly recipes that are easy to put together, but really pack a punch of different flavors and “challenge” me to try different ingredients together!” 

This salad is your canvas. Add your own colors and make it your own!  It’s the delectable match. If you want, add some grilled chicken, steak or a fresh crab cake. It’s perfect!

PS….this dressing is to die for!!

Enjoy and Happy cooking,

Vonnie

Salad:

5-6 cups Mixed Greens of your liking

1 Pound strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced

1/2 cup nuts( almonds or macadamia nut work best) chopped  

1 handful of white chocolate shavings

Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette:

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. unsalted butter

2 1/2 oz. brown sugar

2 oz. honey

1 vanilla bean

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 1/2 oz. olive oil

Directions:

In a large serving bowl, place washed and spin-dried greens. Toss in sliced strawberries and chopped nuts. Meanwhile in a saucepan melt butter over medium-low heat and stir in brown sugar and honey. Split vanilla bean in half and core (use the pulp only). Transfer butter mixture and vanilla pulp to a blender. Add vanilla extract and pulse for 2 minutes. Slowly add olive oil, pulsing to incorporate. Return to saucepan and keep over low heat until ready to use.

  Dress salad with vinaigrette and top with white chocolate shavings and choice of meat if desired.