Welcome to Simple Fare, Fairly Simple. This is a place for me to post recipes of all kinds...along with other miscellaneous fodder from my so-called life here in the south. Who knows what you will find here. Could be anything from my husband...known as IT Guy...to my kids and beautiful grandbabies that are growing up way too fast right before my eyes. But...mostly this will be a place for food. I hope you'll see something you like and if you decide to try something from the list...leave me a comment and let me know!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon meringue pie is one of my dad's favorite pies. Every time we have it....every time, he tells the same corny joke. Every time. It happened again on Christmas day. He lays his left hand on the table and says..."You know what my hand and this pie have in common? They both have "mah-rang" on it". Har-de-har-har. Every time. I guess it wouldn't be Christmas without his corny jokes.  And if you're looking for a really good pie...this is it! I'm not a huge fan of lemon-y things...but I do enjoy a piece of this pie. The tart/sweet combo is delicious. The crust...flaky and tender. Just a wonderful dessert. I hear that pie is going to be the "new" thing...replacing cupcakes. I say...can't we all just get along???? Pie and cupcakes residing in perfect harmony....what could be better???

Lemon Meringue Pie

Roll out pie dough for 1 9" pie shell and place in a pie pan. Bake pie shell for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Set aside.

For filling:

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
2 lemons - zested and juiced
2 tablespoons butter
4 egg yolks, beaten

For meringue:

4 egg whites
6 tablespoon sugar

To make lemon filling:

In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1 cup sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Stir in water, lemon juice and lemon zest. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in butter. Place egg yolks in a small bowl and gradually whisk in about a 1/2 cup of the hot sugar mixture. Whisk egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining sugar mixture. Bring to a boil and continue to cook while stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat. Pour filling into baked pie shell.

To make meringue:

Whip egg whites until foamy. Add 6 tablespoons of sugar gradually and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over pie, sealing the edges at the crust. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until meringue is golden brown. Chill pie.

 Let's get going....

Place the dry stuff in the saucepan....

..stir it up.


Add the liquid....and the zest! Boil it, baby!

Then beat those yolks into submission.

Then add some of the hot mixture to the yolks!

Pour it back into the saucepan and cook until thick!

Prebake your pie shell!

Pour the lemony goodness into the baked pie shell.

Plop on the meringue!

Pop it in the oven to brown a little bit.

Monday, December 27, 2010

This dish couldn't be any easier. Or more tasty. It's a different swing on tacos....but decidedly delicious. It's one of the many ways I fix tacos at our house....and they are always enjoyed.

Crock-Pot Tacos

1 2-pound boneless chuck roast....the cheap stuff
1 package taco mix (or 2 -3 tablespoon of taco mix, recipe follows)
1/2 cup water

Plop the roast in the crock pot. Sprinkle the taco mix over the top and then pour in 1/2 cup water. Cook on low for about 8 hours. About 30 minutes before you eat, take the meat out of the crock-pot and shred it up...I use 2 forks. Put the meat back in the crock-pot with the liquid. Give it a stir then serve 'em up with taco shells if you like 'em crunchy or flour tortillas for soft tacos. Add all the fixin's and you've got yourself a meal. How easy is THAT?

If you want to make your own taco seasoning instead of using a ready made one, here's a quick mix:

Taco Seasoning

1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons crushed dried red pepper flakes
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. instant minced garlic
1 tsp. ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Store in a sealed jar to use as needed.  Use 2 – 3  tablespoons of mixture for tacos. Makes the equivalent of 4 - 6 packages of taco mix.

The cast of characters

Roast in...taco mix on top. I even put 
my roast in frozen and it was still 
done in plenty of time for dinner.

Shred, shred, shred....two forks works great!

Put the meat back into the liquid in the crock-pot.

Serve 'em with your fav fixin's. If I'd had 
avocados, we would've had guac...
but alas...it was not to be.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christie's Pie Dough

For those of you who have struggled with pie dough...here's the perfect recipe. I got this from a friend in California a few years ago and I've never found one I like better than this. It turns our perfect for me every time. It's never too late for pie!

Christie's Pie Dough

2 cups flour
1 cup butter flavored Crisco
¾ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk

Cut shortening into 1 and 2/3’s cup of flour and the salt until mixture looks crumbly. Mix 1/3 cup milk and remaining 1/3 cup flour into a paste and mix into flour/shortening mixture. Combine until it comes together but do not overmix as the dough will be tough.  Gather into a round and wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes. Roll out to desired size and place in pie plate.

This dough makes one large pie shell or can be cut in half to make two small pie shells.

This dough freezes very well and can be doubled easily.

This is all you need to make the best pie dough ever.
The shortening and 1 and 2/3's cups of flour getting to know each other.
The remaining 1/3 cup flour and the milk getting chummy.
Everyone getting to know each other.
Here's everything all combined and ready to be chilled.
Our little dough ball. The recipe makes 3 about this size.
I roll mine out between sheets of plastic wrap. 
It makes it easier for me to put the dough in the pie plate.
Here's the dough almost ready for an apple pie.
And this crust I baked for a coconut cream pie.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Kinda Like Beef Stroganoff….but not

This is another one of those recipes that has served my family well over the last 20 years or so. I'm not really sure who came up with this idea...but it was GENIUS! Who would have thought to add cheddar cheese soup and get these results in the end? My family LOVES this dish. It's so easy to prepare. Combine it all in the crock pot...give it a stir every now and then and serve it up. Easy to double....leftovers are great. Who could ask for more?

Kinda Like Beef Stroganoff….
But Not

2 pounds round steak
1 can Cheddar Cheese soup
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 envelope onion soup mix
½ cup water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash pepper
1 pound of pasta – (bowtie, penne, rotini, etc.) cooked and drained

Cut round steak into 1 inch cubes. Set aside.

Combine all other ingredients, except pasta,  in crock pot. Mix well. Add cubed steak and stir. Set crock pot on low and let it go for 6 – 8 hours. Serve over pasta...or rice!

Here's what you need...

Dump the goods in the crock pot.

Give it a mix...

...add the meat.

Stir it up and cook away!

Ummmm.....can you say YUM?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Crack

I found this recipe not too long ago and for the life of me I can't remember where. I'm sure it was one of the cooking blogs I follow...but I can't recall which one. It might have been  www.mommyskitchen.net. She's got a lot of fun stuff over there. I say all that to say this. You've gotta try Christmas Crack!! It's so good and sure does live up to its name cuz this stuff is addicting!! It makes quite a bit...I filled up two gallon sized zip-top bags. It's great for parties...one of those things that people will mindlessly munch on while chatting or take it to a cookie/treat exchange! Adults and kids alike will love it!

Christmas Crack

1 12.8-ounce box Rice Chex cereal
1 12-ponce box Golden Grahams cereal
1 7-ounce bag shredded coconut
1 4-ounce bag slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups corn syrup

Combine Rice Chex and Golden Grahams, coconut and almonds in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
In a large sauce pan, cook butter, sugar and corn syrup to the "soft ball" stage...about 234 degrees on a candy thermometer. Pour over cereal mixture and stir until all is well coated. Pour mixture out onto 2 large cookie sheets to cool. Stir it around occasionally to prevent clumping. Store in an airtight container.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Menu and Pictures

The open house was a success!! By my count we had 28 people show up! Not bad, I'd say, for a guest list that included 40 people. I guess the "rule of thumb" is right. Decide how many people you're going to invite and expect about half. I think everyone had a good time and almost all the food was gone! I only had appetizer type stuff but that didn't seem to matter to anyone. They ate and enjoyed themselves....and that was the point! Here are a few pictures of the table before guests arrived. But first.....

...here's the menu:

Bacon Wrapped Smokies
Cheddar Puffs
Cinnamon Pear Bruschetta
BBQ Meatballs
Chicken Cheddar Ring
Hot Bacon Cheese Dip
Pecan Pie
Homemade Caramels
Assorted Cookies
Mini Black-bottomed Cheesecake
Christmas Crack

A long shot of the dining room.

The table getting prepared for all the goodies....

Beverage table.

Candles lit...all we need is the warm food and the guests!

Peacock Christmas tree!

Last but not least....IT Guy cleaned the kitchen! All dishes are done and linens are washed.
All that's left is to empty the dishwasher. In the words of Scarlett O'Hara....I'll think about that tomorrow!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Open House Tomorrow

Our House...is a Very, Very, Very OPEN HOUSE....

Tomorrow night I'm having an open house for friends and family. This is the third year I've done this since we moved here 4 years ago. I usually have a pretty good turnout. I've invited about 40 people....and that will fill up my house if they all come...which I doubt they will. I spent 8 hours in the kitchen today cooking and preparing. Tomorrow will be spent setting up and doing final detail work. I've got some pretty good menu items on deck. Some that I've never tried before and some old favorites, too. It's been COLD here the last few days but I heard that tomorrow is supposed to be a tad warmer, so that's good. That means the guests won't be afraid to drive the roads here in the south because of the ice. There might be OTHER things to keep them home, but it won't be the road conditions!

Pictures to follow!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Caramel Candy

This recipe comes courtesy of my wonderful MIL! She's made this candy for years and shared the recipe with me a long time ago. It's such a good caramel candy recipe...not grainy...very smooth, creamy and  wonderfully delicious. You can add nuts, or not. I've even rolled it thin and wrapped marshmallows inside..which is particularly yummy. It's easily doubled and I almost always do that because it goes so fast around here. I'm not sure why I only make this at Christmastime...because it's good anytime!

Caramel Candy

2 cups sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 3/4 cup light Karo syrup
2 sticks butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 - 2 cups pecans - optional

In a large pot, mix sugar, 1 cup of the cream, Karo syrup and butter. 

Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. When it reaches a rolling boil, add the remaining 1 cup of cream. 

Reduce heat to medium and continue to boil until mixture reaches the firm-ball stage....about 235 degrees on a candy thermometer. (If you're an experienced candy person, you might not need a thermometer. If you can judge the "firm-ball" stage with a glass of cold water, then have at it!) 

Remove from heat. 

Add vanilla. Add the pecans - chopped or whole. 

Pour into a buttered 9x13 inch baking dish. 

Let caramel cool and set up. Cut into bite-sized squares and wrap in plastic wrap. 

I'm not kidding when I say this is the best caramel candy EVER. So good, you'll want to sit in it. But don't. That would get messy. Just make it.

The cast of characters 
The cast of characters

Mix the sugar, 1 cup of cream, Karo and butter in a pot. 
Mix the sugar, 1 cup of cream, Karo and butter in a pot.

After it comes to a boil, add the other 1 cup of cream. 
After it comes to a boil, add the other 1 cup of cream.

Boil again...it needs to darken some. When it's done, add the vanilla. And the nuts if that floats your boat. 
Boil again...it needs to darken some. 
When it's done, add the vanilla. And 
the nuts if that floats your boat.

I made one batch and split it between two smaller pans. One with nuts.... 
I made one batch and split it between 
two smaller pans. One with nuts....

...and one without. 
...and one without.

I cut them into about 1.5 inch squares..but not perfectly perfect. Then I wrapped them individually. 
I cut them into about 1.5 inch 
squares..but not perfectly perfect. 
Then I wrapped them individually.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Treat/Cookie/Goodie Exchange ....SUCCESS!!

I posted last week about the holiday treat exchange I was having. Well...I had it and it was great! I invited about 20 women...and about 15 showed up. And can I just say...that was plenty. Not sure what we all would have done with 5 more goodie bags to take home. We had everything from turtle candy to coconut macaroons. Star shaped sugar cookies to white chocolate popcorn. Pecan brittle and brown sugar sugar cookies. Everything was beautifully wrapped and looked delicious! We've already scavenged through our pile of treats. I sent some with my son to his work....and there's still a LOT left! Yay for good cooks!!

Here's a picture of the table...laden with treats. I should have thought to take an after picture. The table was pretty barren when it was over.

All the yummy goodies!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Not Your Grandma's Cookie Exchange

Next Monday I'm doing an old fashioned cookie exchange....except it's not just cookies and I'm not old-fashioned. But I am a grandma...but most likely not YOUR grandma so at least part of the title of this post is correct. I'm not sure what the other ladies are bringing....but I'm stepping out of the box and giving candy and jam. Yeah...I'm crazy like that. Anyway...if everyone comes through and follows the directions on the handy-dandy handout they received....everyone should be going home with at least 20 bags/jars/bundles or sacks of goodies. Not just a plate of cookies!! And the best part? No kids allowed! Not that I don't like kids. I do. I have three of my own...but sometimes it's nice to get away from the little rugrats darlings every now and again. They'll be happy enough when their mom walks through the door loaded down with treats. I hope. If the moms don't eat all the good stuff before they get home, that is. Which is what I would do and then proclaim to my kids what a lame party it was because no one brought anything good. Not really. Well, kind of.

Anyway...these recipes aren't anything new or spectacular...but they're easy enough and fun to take to a party. Or serve at a party. Or make and eat by yourself.

                                                   White Chocolate Peppermint Bark 

Here's the finished product. At the end I will show you how I dressed it up to give away.
 2 bags (15-ounce) white chocolate chips
12 - 15 candy canes

Unwrap the candy canes and place them a zip-top bag. Take your husband's hammer....or use what I used...a meat tenderizer....and smash the daylights out the candy canes. I did this on concrete because bits of the candy canes will make little holes in the bag and I didn't want candy cane dust in my kitchen and I don't have concrete in my kitchen.  Make sure you place a clean towel under the plastic bag.

Crushed candy canes!
Melt the chocolate in a large bowl.

Yes...I know this stuff isn't technically chocolate. Let's move on, shall we?

Add the crushed candy canes to the chocolate and stir it all up! You can reserve a bit to sprinkle of top when you spread it out to cool. Makes it purdy.

Spread the mixture on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and let it harden.

Spread it all out.....try not to let it get too thick. You want to be able to break it easily.

Sprinkle some of the reserved crushed candy canes for sprinkling. 

 Break it up into chunks. I made mine small because I only wanted people to have a little taste since there would be SO much other good stuff at the exchange.
I had some mesh bags I put the bark in....but first put it in little baggies.
Made a little tag..voila! Cute as can be.

        Now for the next item I'm giving at the exchange.....

Apple Butter!! 

Have you ever eaten apple butter? Have you ever made it? It's SO good and so easy to make. A little time consuming, yes.....but the results are very worth it. IT Guy and I had some with dinner this evening and can I just say...that this batch was the best I've EVER made. Ever. Whoever comes to my house on Monday night for the exchange will come away with some yumminess, fo sho!!

Here's the run-down......

This recipe...from a good friend in California.....makes a small amount but can be easily doubled or tripled....or in my case quadrupled x's 2....whatever that is. (I never was good at math....as IT Guy can attest...he used to tutor me when I was in high school. But that's another story for another day.) 

So here's the original recipe and quantities. 

Apple Butter

4 cups apples (I used Golden Delicious) peeled and rough chopped
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoon cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a large stock pot, mashing apples down as they cook (I use my potato masher). Cook until apple mixture is thick and brown. This could take as long as 30 minutes or so. Transfer to clean jars. I wash my jars and lids in the d/w or in VERY hot water in the sink. After the apple butter is done, I fill the jars, put the lids on and turn the jars upside down and leave them until the apple butter is cool. The lids should be sealed down after they're cool then you can store them in the fridge for a long time. 

This is what you need to get going...

No need to be perfect when chopping because the apples
will break down while cooking.
Start cooking the apples until ...

...it starts darkens and thickens.

Jar it up!!!

This is how many jars I got out of the batch I made.

This is how I dolled up the jars to give away. Cute, yes?

If you decide to make this, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!!