corned beef hash

First things first: why the eff’ is that can made that way? It’s a trapezoid. Who makes a can that is a trapezoid? A trapezoid isn’t even a good geometric shape. In fact, it isn’t even a thing unless you’re American, because the rest of the English-speaking world calls the wretched thing a trapezium, which is also the name of a bone in your wrist. Figure that out.

trapezoid      trapezium bone

A can opener is of no use when it comes to 90° angles, y’all. So you have to use that little key thing that’s attached to the side of the can … but what do you do if you get the damn trapezoid home and there no key?

Cuz that’s happened to me. You’re going to need power tools.

There’s also the ritual of steeling yourself for what you’re going to find when you finally break into that trapezoid. It’s never pretty. And you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that you’re actually going to consume … and expect your kids to consume … the contents. Which look something like this:

cornedbeef_4

 

These days, I use actual corned beef. But it was a good cheap meal that went a long way when I was poor single mom and you do what you have to do. The kids loved it … and honestly, so did i.

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Diced/shredded or minced corn beef (personal taste) – OR – 1 trapezoid shaped can of questionable meat product with the words “corned beef” on the label
  • 1 sweet (Vidalia, preferably) onion, diced
  • Several potatoes, peeled and diced. (The more potatoes you use, the more peoples you feed.)
  • Salt (a little) and pepper (a lot) to taste

Heat a couple tablespoons of the oil in a skillet (cast iron is the best way to go) and add the corned beef. Cook and stir until it browns a little.

Add the onions and potatoes. Let them sit on a medium heat until they’ve browned. Seriously, don’t stir them until they’re rockin’ some good color and crispiness. Turn to brown the other side and then cook and stir until the potatoes are cooked through and the onions are carmelized.

Serve with eggs. Cuz that’s delicious.

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hot ham & cheese party rolls

Standard disclaimer, yo:

I do not typically recommend nor do I condone the use of refrigerated dough products.

Moving on.

It seriously is my full intention to try this sometime with my own homemade pizza dough, but I haven’t done it yet, and these were really quite delicious. I’d planned something else to take to a party I was attending, but time got away from me (translation: I had to binge watch Parks and Rec … again) and there wasn’t going to be enough time. So I asked the Google to find for me please a quick and easy party appetizer recipe and boom. There it was.

And here it is:

Ingredients:

  • 1 can refrigerated pizza dough (or your own, y’know.)
  • 1 lb thinly sliced (but not shaved) deli ham
  • 12 sandwhich sized slices Swiss cheese (if you don’t like Swiss, go rogue. Nobody’s judging.)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Unroll the pizza dough. Top with the ham and cheese slices. Roll it up tightly, using the long side. Pop it in the fridge or freezer for a few moments so it can harden a little for easier cutting. Cut into slices (12 or so) and arrange in the baking dish.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until the butter is melted and it is well combined. Pour over the rolls. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes until golden brown.

snowballs (butter balls) snow butter balls … they’re balls, y’all

There’s a version of these cookies floating around somewhere in the Christmas baking recipe box of a great many American familes. They’re certainly one of our favorites, and I always make sure I include them when I’m deciding what I’ll bake each year.

This past Christmas was a whirlwind for me. Earlier in the month, I’d traveled to visit Jay and Tereasa in Johnson City, TN. I seriously almost died on that trip. The snow was really pretty until I hit 3700 feet and the temperatures dropped.

sams gap

By the time I reached Jay and T’s, I pretty much wandered in with a dazed look begging for gin. Or Crown Apple. Maybe both. I think there was ginger ale. Sweet mother of mercy.

My travels and my trials weren’t over, though. My father was going to my Aunt Carole and Uncle Ron’s house in Georgia for Christmas, and I very much wanted to be with family. My cousins were there with their families and I decided I was going to have make a pot of gumbo for Christmas Eve dinner and cart it on down there. I set off right after work on December 23rd. It started raining mere seconds after I got started. It rained all the way to I-85, it rained all the way down I-85 into Georgia, and in Georgia, it stopped raining so that it could start pouring. Thunder. Lightning. The whole works.

If you’ve never traveled it, I-85 between Charlotte and Atlanta is pretty much the most wretched stretch of road on the face of the Earth. It’s 2 lanes in each direction where it should be 6 and 6 lanes where it should be 12. Every 18-wheeler ever created is doing 55 in both lanes in front of you and the guy directly behind you always has a serious case of road rage and is simultaneously flashing his brights, laying on the horn, gesticulating madly, and hoping his eyes will turn into lasers so he can blow my ass off the road.

road rage

Did I mention it was storming?

By the time I got to my Aunt and Uncle’s house, I pretty much wandered in with a dazed look begging for wine. Daddy had anticipated this and my cousin Jennifer was already opening it.

(I haven’t forgotten this a cooking blog and that I owe you the recipe for some kind of balls. I promise it’s coming. I’m not done traveling yet.)

So that was Christmas Eve Eve (my Christmas Eve Eve track record isn’t that great, now that I think about it.) I hung with the fam for Christmas Eve, which was truly lovely, and then went to bed early so I could wake up at zero dark hundred to drive to my daddy’s house in TN … where he wasn’t. But I needed a place to crash for a little while before I headed to my final Christmas travel destination to spend Christmas afternoon with Cristi, one of my oldest and dearest friends in the world, her sister YaYa, one of my newest and dearest friends in the world, their husbands and their mama. I’d seriously been looking forward to seeing them, and it was nothing less than wonderful. We played games, had a wonderful meal and just generally enjoyed one another.

Which brings me full circle because balls. Scott’s family (he’s Cristi’s husband, yo) makes snowballs in mass quantities every Christmas, except they call them butter balls. It’s a family tradition and I was given an adorable little box of them. I’d brought some cookies of my own to give to them, and I instantly had to compare my snowballs with Scott’s butter balls and you know what?

His were better. Like, WAY better.

He got out his recipe and I pulled mine up on my phone (yeah … I’m THAT girl.) They were almost identical except for a tiny couple adjustments, which I went ahead and made on my file.

And so, after a ton of ado, I give you a recipe I’ve never made. For snowballs.

(Erm. Butter balls.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup confectionery sugar (don’t argue with me and tell me it’s confectioner’s sugar. Just don’t. I’ll sic Cristi, Scott, and that road rage guy from up there on you.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375°. Beat butter for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup confectionery sugar and beat until well-combined. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour, a little bit at a time. (If you’re using a hand mixer, abandon it when you must and go forth without the aid of electricty. Also, get a stand mixer. So fabulous.) Add pecans.

Shape into 1″ balls and place 1″ apart on baking sheets. Bake about 20 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Roll in powdered sugar and cool on wire racks. Roll in powdered sugar again when cool.

(That double rolling thing was new. That and I used granulated sugar in the dough, and Scott’s family doesn’t.)

pecan praline cookies

This is one of those stupid simple recipes that I should hate, but just don’t. Because yum. Serious yum.

Ingredients:

  • 35 graham crackers
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325°.

Place graham crackers on a baking sheet, covering the bottom. You can go a couple ways with this. You can break them into their smallest size before baking them, which gets messy and takes a little time. Or you can leave them large and cut them later, which gets messy. Either way, you’re making a mess. I prefer the pre-break method.

Bring sugar, butter and cream of tartar to a boil in a saucepan. Add the nuts. Pour mixture over the graham crackers.

Bake for 10 minutes. Let them sit for a few minutes after you take them out of the oven, then transfer them to wire racks to cool.

pecan tassies

Tiny pecan pies! I love the tiny pies. Also, bonus … you can hold one and pretend you’re a giant.

chandler-giant

You’re going to want to double this recipe. And then, after you’ve made them, and tried one to make sure it is okay, then tried another one after they cooled completely (cuz you can’t be sure if it was just good warm or if room temp caused some serious quality issues), and then grabbed a couple to eat while binge watching season six of Supernatural …

I mean, not that that has ever happened to me. I’m just saying … make extra.

These are staples in my Christmas baking. Mama always made them, too, though she stopped making them if she knew I’d be there for the holidays, because I’d always show up with a hugical platter of baked goods.

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Dash salt
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325°. Combine cream cheese, ½ cup butter, and flour.  Mix thoroughly and chill, covered, for one hour.  Divide into 24 small balls and press into the sides and bottom of ungreased miniature muffin pans.  Combine eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and remaining butter.  Beat until smooth.  Sprinkle pecans into tart shells.  Divide egg mixture evenly among the tarts, pouring on top of pecans.  Bake 20-25 minutes until pastry is golden brown.