Friday, December 26, 2008

The Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup

As per tradition, tonight I made the Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup today using the ham bone leftover from the Christmas ham. It is delicious and, honestly, the best ham and bean soup I have ever tried.

Here is the recipe:

The Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup Recipe

2 pounds dried navy beans
four quarts hot water
1 1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

Wash the navy beans and run hot water through them until they are slightly whitened. Place beans into pot with hot water. Add ham hocks and simmer approximately three hours in a covered pot, stirring occasionally. Remove ham hocks and set aside to cool. Dice meat and return to soup. Lightly brown the onion in butter. Add to soup. Before serving, bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper.

Serves 8.

I would say it serves a lot more than 8. It served our family of five with two having second helpings and there was a lot left for another meal and/or lunches for the work week.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Pioneer Woman's Lasagna

Since it was snowing today (we have about a foot and a half!) I needed some comfort food. I chose The Pioneer Woman's Lasagna. This is such a seriously good recipe. No, it's not authentic. It doesn't matter; it tastes good.

You can go to her website (link above) for a detailed list of ingredients and instructions.

First, start with spicy sausage and ground beef. Brown it in a pan.

Add two cloves of garlic. I used the jarred kind. I took the lazy way out. But, you know, you couldn't tell the difference (at least not in this recipe).

There is a lot of fat in this so you'll want to spoon it off.

It's time to add the tomatoes. I use one big can of tomatoes vs. the two smaller cans as called for TPW.

It's starting to look really good!

Add the two cans of tomato paste.

Next add the herbs. Two tablespoons each of parsley and basil.

The smells are already driving the kids insane. Mr. Mary Cooks makes a snack for them.

Okay, let the sauce simmer for about 45 minutes on medium-low. Stir it occasionally.

Meanwhile, get the cottage cheese mixture ready. Three cups of lowfat cottage cheese go into the bowl.

Add 1/2 cup of parmesan from a can. I KNOW. That doesn't mean it's not delicious.

Two eggs are to be added to the mixture.

Add a couple tablespoons of parsley.

Mix together until it is all incorporated.

Great! Now it is time for assembly! I am using the no-boil lasagna noodles. Put four down in the pan (I sprayed it with nonstick cooking spray first).

Put half of the cottage cheese mixture on top of the noodles.

8 ounces of mozzarella cheese goes on top of the cottage cheese mixture.

Here is where I diverge a bit from TPW's recipe. I lay one-third of the sauce on top of the cheese instead of one-half.

Then, repeat the layers. I end with one more layer of noodles and the rest of the sauce. (So it is: noodles, cottage cheese, mozzarella, sauce-noodles, cottage cheese, mozzarella, sauce-noodles, sauce.) Sprinkle the top with some more grated parmesan.

Cover with foil, seal tightly, and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for another 20 minutes or until it is bubbling and the cheese is melted.

When it comes out, let it rest for about 15 minutes.

I sliced some focaccia bread to go with it and also cooked some broccoli.

And dinner is served!

Like I said earlier, this is hardly authentic but it is delicious. Mr. Mary Cooks had two servings. The teenager ate at least four pieces! We only have two pieces left out of the pan. So much for leftovers!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Trashy Dinner!

I got a new camera (a Canon Digital Rebel XSi - 12.2MP) and it even makes this throw-it-together dinner look amazing.

Potatoes (about 6-7)
Turkey Ham
2 lbs. Velveeta
Cream of Chicken Soup
Half can of milk (not pictured)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice the potatoes thinly:

Lay them in a 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Next, cube the turkey ham.

Place it on top of the potatoes.

The Velveeta gets cubed next.

Place that on top of the turkey ham and potatoes.

Pour the cream of chicken soup into a small bowl (or you can use cream of mushroom soup if you'd like).

Add a half can of milk.

Stir it together so it's incorporated then pour it over the potatoes, turkey ham, and Velveeta.

Place it in the oven for 25 minutes, uncovered. Then bring it out of the oven.

Stir it all up.

Cover it with foil and put it back into the oven for 45-50 minutes or until the potatoes are done. Mine made a bit of a mess in the bottom of the oven so you may want to either not fill the pan as full or put the pan on a cookie sheet. Get it out of the oven and uncover it.

While it's setting a bit, get your vegetable going. I chose green beans.

After the vegetables are done, you're ready to serve!

This was delicious. My husband had two servings. My middle son loved it as well. The toddler thought it was yummy but is not feeling well so she didn't eat too much. The teenager is not home at the moment so we'll see what he thinks later. Anyway, it's probably not very good for you but it is a filling, warming meal.

I got great deals on the ingredients for this meal:

Turkey ham was $2.67
Velveeta was $0.99 (!)
Potatoes were $1.88 for a 10 pound bag (I used about half, maybe a bit less)
Cream of chicken soup was $0.50


We usually don't eat Velveeta but for such a good deal I couldn't pass it up.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Breakfast for Dinner

It is snowy here today and I didn't feel like going to the grocery store. It was time to look in my huge freezer for food to cook that wouldn't be too involved nor something that I'd need more ingredients for. I settled on chicken breakfast sausages and bacon. We'd have breakfast for dinner! My kids love it when I cook this.

First, I set the mood for cooking. I lit two candles that I got in my cookie party gift exchange last night. They're lovely!

I proceeded to cook the bacon. It looks so delicious (it was!).

After the bacon, I cooked the sausages. This particular brand of chicken breakfast sausage were not as good as the brand I normally get (Isernio's). But since I got them at a pretty good discount I couldn't complain too much.

Next, I cooked toast while the eggs were cooking. Eggs! I can't believe I forgot to take a photo of the lovely eggs. Oh well. A lot was going on at that moment.

This is my daughter's plate. Doesn't it look delicious?

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I was following Alton Brown's roast turkey recipe for the brining portion.


* 1 cup kosher salt
* 1/2 cup light brown sugar
* 1 gallon vegetable stock
* 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
* 1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
* 1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
* 1 gallon iced water

First into the pot goes the kosher salt.

Next, the brown sugar.

Followed by the vegetable stock. I didn't have a gallon of this stuff so I used 5 cans and water for the balance of the 128 ounces.

When I saw the next ingredient (allspice berries) I was reminded of why I probably have them in my spice drawer to begin with!

I'm also a white peppercorn girl but you can use whatever you have handy.

I skipped the candied ginger as I didn't have any of that, either. I figured it wouldn't be too important, especially since I wasn't following the second half of the recipe (see link above).

I brought the mixture to a boil so that the salt and brown sugar dissolved.

After it was brought to a boil I was in a hurry to get the turkey in the brine. You can't put the turkey in while it's hot so I brought it down to cool (cooler than room temp) with ice cubes. I remembered to do a rough count of the ice cubes towards the gallon of ice water needed in the recipe.

I was fortunate to score brining bags from Williams-Sonoma this year so that's what I used.

In goes the liquid. You want to try to get as much air out as you possibly can prior to sealing the bag. Incidentally, you can also do this in a 5 gallon bucket. I did it once in a (clean, new) Home Depot bucket. But it's a bear to clean up so I prefer the bags.

After the turkey is done brining (6-12 hours), rinse it thoroughly inside and out. Place it in the pan and dry it with paper towels.

I used this wet turkey rub from Williams-Sonoma. I have to say that I'm not that impressed. The flavor was all right but, well, you'll see what happens.

Rub that stuff all over your turkey!

I mean, allllllllll over...

Next, take some veggies (onion that's been quartered, celery, carrot, and garlic cloves which have been peeled). Cut them into manageable pieces. For the carrots and celery I basically cut them into thirds.

Stuff 'em into that bad boy...or girl...

Put your probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and set the alarm for 161 degrees.

Per Alton's recipe, you want to roast it at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. Not such a great idea with this particular wet rub since it has brown sugar on it. Anyway, then you turn it down to 350 degrees until it hits 161 degrees internally.

See why it's not a great idea with this rub?

I was honestly thinking of not showing you this photo. But I figured I'd might as well. I'm human, and not everything I make comes out looking like the best meal ever. I will say, however, that after we let this turkey rest for about 45 minutes we peeled off the skin, carved it, and had a great meal. It was delicious! I was so happy that it tasted good despite looking sketchy.

I made the best stuffing ever, incidentally. I used Grand Central Baking Company's recipe and stuffing roughly. I didn't have the fresh herbs for it, unfortunately, so I used dried parsley, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. It was crunchy yet soft (the oh-so-elusive balance!). It was perfect.