Wake up to Beyond Delicious Flavor
this Valentine’s Day
Welcome to my diary of a home cook blog designed to get your thinking cap on and your creativity humming or simply entertain you for a few minutes. I’m Peggy Sholly and I have been cooking for some 60 years now so I have had my share of success and failure. I authored the successful cookbook, Down Home Delicious. It is followed by “A Taste of Down Home Delicious” on Kindle which has 25 sample recipes from the original hardback, and there is a third in process. I love most foods and my favorites will become apparent. I don’t have a lot of pictures yet because I must depend on others to take the pictures. I wish I could photograph my foods but that is not where my talent lies. Maybe this will be the year I will take a photography course. Hmmm.
My husband and I travel and I do our own personal restaurant critiques which I will share with you from time to time. I will name the restaurant if I have something good to say but will not identify it if my critique is negative. I love to share my cooking and eating adventures with anyone that is up to listening. I truly do love to cook and am interested in most things cooking related. I get a lot of ideas from others but tend to do my own thing. I do hope you will enjoy following along with my journey.
Now that I am retired I have more time to check in on the myriad of cooking shows on television. However, I find they do not give you a reality for home cooking and what “normal” is for the home cook. First of all, we home cooks don’t have someone in the background prepping everything for us so that all the ingredients can be picked out of the refrigerator and pantry cleaned and orderly. We also don’t look like we just walked out of a fashion show. I often cook while still in my p.j.’s and really need to wear an apron more. My mother arose at 5 a.m. every morning and got her dinner started. She was a whiz in the kitchen but let’s be realistic, I am not getting up with the birds to cook. Not unless it is an emergency. We all have our kitchen challenges and likes and dislikes. Since cooking shows don’t give it to you like it is, I am going to give you my own little home cooking reality show in narrative form. We will build upon my shortcuts and recipes little by little. I can’t tell you everything in one day but will endeavor to give as much information as possible without being boring. This is how I teach my own family to cook so welcome to my extended family.
If you have questions about the meal of the day or cooking in general, please write me and I will answer as many questions as possible right here on the site and sometimes to your personal email if I have the address.
I don’t cook everyday because there are times my hubby and I eat when we are out running errands. But most days I do cook, just as I did when my family was at home and I am hoping you may enjoy and profit from getting a sneak peak. Some days I will share “cook without recipes” cooking adventures and other days I will provide a formal recipe for you. I hope you enjoy reading about our meals as much as I enjoy sharing them with you. And even though I don’t cook everyday it will be insightful for you, dear reader, to follow the reality of this down home delicious home cook. And if things go the way I plan, you too will become a cook without recipes cook confidently mixing and matching flavors to prepare your own signature dishes. Once you learn the basics you can do almost anything with flair often saving time and money along the way.
Take today for example. My cooking was predetermined and very delicious although I did not use a recipe. Anyone can do this type of cooking if you have the desire. One of my ways to save time and money consists of buying a rotisserie chicken. I personally like the ones from Sam’s Club. I remove the breast and freeze it for chicken salad another day. Or make the chicken salad first and save the remainder of the body for soup or a quick rice dish. This way I spend $6.00 on meat for 2-4 days. (You may choose to make a smaller recipe using only ½ breast. Either way you have several days meals from one $6 chicken.) We purchased our chicken while out shopping yesterday with a plan to make soup or chicken salad. Today I was in the mood for soup and here is how it went down.
After freezing the breast, I put the remainder of the chicken, piece by piece, into a large pot. I added ½ cup chopped onions (prechopped from store), 2 tablespoons minced garlic (prepared from store – I keep a large jar in the frig), half of a 10 ounce can of Rotel tomatoes (I like spicy but regular canned tomatoes work just as well and the Rotel just happened to be left over from yesterday), a 3 pound can of Swanson chicken broth and 2 cups water into a large pot. I turned the heat to high and brought it to a boil then turned the heat to low, covered the pot and let it simmer for an hour or more. This draws all the flavor from the bones and makes for a yummy and healthy broth. All of the amounts and times are negotiable so feel free to do what works for you. While chicken boiled I did my laundry and other chores that had piled up.
After the chicken cooked in the liquid for an hour I used a slotted spoon and removed it to a large bowl and turned off the burner. The chicken cooled until I could handle it to remove the bones, skin and fat from the meat. I returned the meat only to the pot, turned the burner on high again and rummaged in my freezer to see what I had available to make soup. I really love Fordhook Lima beans and found ½ bag, also a ½ bag of soup vegetables and a little dab of English peas. All this was tossed into the hot pot, liquid brought back to a boil, then heat turned down and vegetables allowed to simmer for about 20 minutes.
This type of cooking is so easy because I can multitask without having to watch the clock or being chained to the stove. When the veggies were partially cooked I added 6 small pieces of frozen corn on the cob into pot and ½ cup pasta from pantry. The pasta I use, Dreamfields, is specially engineered to be good for diabetics and is a blessing to my diet because I am Italian American and LOVE pasta.
The pasta took 9-10 minutes, same as the corn takes when added frozen. When the pasta was cooked the soup was ready and my oh my was it yummy!! I like to put about 1/3 cup shredded 4 Cheese Mexican Cheese in the bottom of my bowl before I add the hot soup. It is so delicious. We feasted on this meal for lunch and will enjoy it again for dinner. Since I made a very large pot of soup I usually freeze the extra for another day or, if hubby wants it two days in a row I just put it in frig. The second benefit of this type of cooking is there is so little clean-up. My husband cleans the kitchen and appreciates all the help he can get.
After we had our early lunch, I called my neighbor who works full time and offered to share. She ran over with a bowl and returned home happy and smiling with her lunch for tomorrow. Before she left I told her about how easy it is to make a scrumptious apple tart and she literally danced home saying she was going to make one tonight. I’ll share that with you the next time I make one for myself.
That is how my cooking goes at home. It is easy and often without use of recipes, always healthy and delicious…except for when I get weird and try something really off the wall. My husband is kind and forgiving when I mess something up. It’s not often, he loves all of it, I am the one that is hard to please.
Anyway, that is it for today. I have an angus rump roast waiting in the refrigerator to be cooked tomorrow and my mouth is already watering. I adore oven roasted rump roast because it requires such little effort, has so much flavor and is so tender. It is one of my favorites. I think I have some Brussels sprouts in the freezer, salad fixings in the frig, and two nice red potatoes, for roasting, on the counter. All quick and easy and tasty as can be. Hope you are having something delicious and easy. I’ll check in with you tomorrow…hope you are having a “down home delicious day”.
Down Home Delicious®
A Taste of Down Home Delicious®
Down Home Delicious® Extravaganza
Peggy’s Beyond Delicious Coffee Cake
Simple to make and especially delightful on Valentine’s, Mother’s, and Father’s Day.
- 2½ cups granulated sugar
- 2½ cups chopped nuts of choice
- 2 tablespoons oats
- 1 tablespoon cold butter or margarine, minced
- 2 cups flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 package fresh berries, rinsed and dried (*or other berries)
- 5 large eggs
- 2 sticks margarine, room temperature
- ⅓ cup milk
- ⅓ teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease bundt pan** well.
Sift ½ cup of the sugar with ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar in bottom of pan turning pan on all sides to coat bottom and all sides of pan. Sprinkle ½ cup chopped nuts and 2 tablespoons oats over sugar in bottom of pan. Dot with 2 tablespoons cold butter or margarine cut in tiny pieces.
In a large electric mixer bowl, combine remaining 2 cups granulated sugar with the 2 cups flour and 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder and mix well.
Use ½ cup of flour/sugar mixture to toss with nut-berry mixture. Holding a large colander or sieve over the dry ingredients mixer bowl, dump in the floured nut mixture to release the excess flour/sugar back into the original dry ingredients.
In a medium bowl combine berries and remaining 2 cups nuts. *For valentine’s you can substitute halved fresh strawberries for blueberries or use a combination of both.
Return floured nut mixture to medium bowl and set aside.
To the dry ingredient mixer bowl add eggs, margarine, milk and vanilla extract and beat with electric mixer on high for exactly 12 minutes pushing down cake mix from sides once or twice. When mixing is complete, gently fold in (by hand) sugar floured nuts and blueberries. Pour into prepared bundt pan. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour on rack in middle of oven (be sure to check after 45 minutes). Turn hot cake onto buttered cake plate without removing bundt pan for at least 2 minutes. Tap top of pan before removing to loosen cake from pan. Serve immediately (I like to eat my cake warm so I cut it as soon as it hits the plate), or cool thoroughly.
**No bundt pan? Feel free to bake your coffee cake in a well greased deep casserole dish. Top with a crumb topping using the ingredients for the bottom of bundt pan on the top of the cake as follows.
Assemble in a bowl…
- ½ cup oats with the ½ teaspoon cinnamon,
- ½ cup brown rather than white sugar,
- ½ cup chopped nuts and
You can even hold back a few berries to sprinkle over the top.
Toss all topping ingredients except butter until well mixed and sprinkle over top of coffee cake.
Drizzle 2 tablespoons melted butter over top.
Bake as directed. If cake begins to brown too much lay a foil tent over it until finished baking.