Beef Stroganoff!

Beef Stroganoff is definitely one of our family favorites.  It's not exactly a southern dish per se, but it is a dish we have been making and enjoying in our southern family for a long time.  It's not a difficult recipe to prepare, but it does take time.  However, it is well worth it.  

A lot of recipes call for round steak and I have used round steak, but I prefer to use sirloin due to the reduced time it takes for the meat to get tender.  

If you do use round steak, use the top round and plan on simmering the meat for at least 45 minutes to an hour.  I also usually use canned cream of mushroom soup and a can of beef consomme in this, because it gives the best overall results.  I have made it without and I always go right back to using it...because it's better.

I find it funny when I get comments about using canned soups or mixes...usually from people who probably don't do a lot of cooking in the real world by the   I am here to tell you that I do use canned soups and mixes of all kinds at one time or another, if they make something taste good.  I do not use convenience items when they compromise the taste of a recipe or the real, from scratch, is easy to make and much better.  I am not an ingredients snob, however.  

I am from the south, where we eat meat from cans and 'cheese' that is so processed it is shelf stable and will probably be good that way for  And in some recipes there is just no substitute for Velveeta.   I buy a big ole 2lb. hunk of it about once a month.  I knew a southern family that loved it so much they named one of their kids Velveeta! 

So, if you are put off by a can of cream of mushroom soup in a recipe or a taco mix, you might be in the wrong place or you can leave it out if you want.  Whatever floats your boat.  I won't judge you for not using it, don't judge me for using it.  

 I rarely get these comments, because 99.9% of the folks who read my blog are reading it because they eat and cook a whole lot like me and my family or they are here to learn some new recipes or cooking tips and not to be a fake food critic.  

Now that we got that out of the way, here is what you will need to make this luscious beef stroganoff:

2-3 lbs. of sirloin steak or top round
1 cup flour seasoned with 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, and 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 Tbs. minced garlic
3 Tbs. oil (I use Canola)
2 Tbs. butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can beef consomme or beef broth ( I prefer the consomme)
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
2 cups sour cream
parsley for garnishing

wide egg noodles or rice

Cut the beef in strips about 2 1/2 inches long.  Dredge in the seasoned flour.

Brown the beef in the butter and oil combination. Remove to a plate and saute the onion, garlic and mushrooms.  Add the beef back to skillet. Add the mushroom soup, beef consomme, water and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring to almost a boil, just to bubbling and then turn down to simmer and cover.  Simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring often to be sure it doesn't stick.  Using a nonstick skillet is best for this because it does have  a tendency to stick if you don't stir it every now and then. 

Add the sour cream to the sauce at the very end.  You need to temper the sour cream before adding it by adding a little of the hot mixture to it and mixing it in to bring the temperature up.  If you don't temper it and add it cold to the hot mixture the sour cream will 'break' and will not mix in smoothly.  Warm it back up, but do not let it boil or get too hot. It should be nice and smooth and creamy. 
Serve over wide egg noodles or rice and garnish with chopped parsley. Served with a salad, bread and of course, sweet have an amazing dinner that will become a family favorite!

Sweet Pepper Relish!

I love a good relish or chow chow.  It is so good with beans and fresh vegetables or on a hot dog or good smoked sausage.  However, it's hard to find a really tasty recipe for sweet pepper relish.   

This is probably one of the best.  It's one of those really old recipes that has been around for a while and it came from the lady that ran our elementary cafeteria years ago.   My mother was fortunate enough to get several of her recipes.  She was a wonderful southern cook.  

I am sure this recipe was in her own family for years.  You will be surprised by how uncomplicated making something like this actually is, if you have a good recipe.  Here is what you will need:

4 cups ground onions
1 medium head of cabbage, ground (4 cups)
10 green tomatoes, ground  (4 cups)
12 green bell peppers, ground
6 red bell peppers, ground
1/2 cup salt
6 cups sugar
1 Tbs. celery seed
2 Tbs. turmeric
4 cups cider vinegar
2 cups water

Grind the vegetables using the coarse blade of the grinder.  This recipe was before the invention of the food processor, but you can use your food processor. 

 If you do use a food processor, be careful not to over process this.  It should be left coarse.  We are making relish, not juice and it's easy to over do it with those powerful food processors nowadays.  

Do I sound like I have experience with   I have had a few batches of salsa that was more like spicy tomato juice, before I got used to a new food processor.

Sprinkle the vegetables with the 1/2 cup of salt.  Cover and let sit in the fridge over night. 

The next day, rinse and drain.  Mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over the vegetables in a large pan.  Place on the stove and heat to boiling.   Turn the heat down and simmer for about 3 minutes. 

Seal in hot, sterilized jars.  My mother always turns the jars, after filling and sealing, upside down on a kitchen towel to aid in the sealing process.  This makes 8 pints of relish. 

Isn't it pretty?  This would be great for an inexpensive, but thoughtful, Christmas gift.  Tie a little burlap or gingham bow around the jar and it would be darling!

Mama's Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake!

 If you are a lover of chocolate and peanut butter combinations, this cake is definitely for you!  It is amazing and I am not exaggerating!   This is one of my mother's creations and she did good on this one!   It's not that difficult to make either.   The frosting is just a simple chocolate, peanut butter cream cheese frosting...need I say more here?  I didn't think so!

 Here is what you will need for this cake:

2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup Sprite (or any clear lemon lime soda)
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
3 eggs
6 oz. peanut butter chips, divided
6 oz. milk chocolate chips divided

1 (8 oz. ) pkg. cream cheese
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 of the peanut butter chips, melted
1/3 of the milk chocolate chips, melted
4 cup powdered sugar
2 oz. milk chocolate bar for chocolate curls to garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add in buttermilk, Sprite, oil and eggs.  Mixing after each addition just until combined. 

Melt 2/3 of the peanut butter chips and the milk chocolate chips together and stir.  You can just put them in a bowl in the microwave for a minute or two to do this.  Set the remaining, solid chips aside.

Mix 1/2 of the melted chips into the cake batter.   Set the other 1/2 aside for the frosting. 

Line two 9" cake pans with parchment or wax paper rounds and spray them liberally with nonstick baking spray.   Do not skip this step, because this cake can stick.  

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.  Sprinkle the remaining chips you did not melt evenly over each layer.    Place on the center rack in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  

Remove and allow to stand for about 10 minutes before turning out of the pans.  Place on a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, salt, vanilla and the remaining melted chocolate and peanut butter chips together.  You will probably have to place the chips mixture back in the microwave for a few seconds to melt it again before using.  Beat in the powdered sugar until it's smooth and fluffy. 

Stack on a cake plate and frost!  Make chocolate curls to garnish the top if desired!

Slice and eat, because this one won't last long!