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FOOD

   Recipes -- tried, tested and approved!

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ANGELA'S CROCK POT STEAK SANDWICHES

BECKY'S BREAKFAST CASSEROLE

BRAT BITES

CHEESY RANCH BISCUITS

ITALIAN CHICKEN AND SAUSAGE BAKE

JAMBALAYA'S COUSIN

KICK KEESTER SUBS

ONION-Y CHEESE SPREAD

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICHES

QUITE POSSIBLY THE BEST DESSERT SANDWICH EVER...

TOM'S MEXICAN "DIP"

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ANGELA'S CROCK POT STEAK SANDWICHES

4 lbs. sirloin steak
1 can cream of celery soup
1 packet Lipton Onion soup mix
1/2 cup* instant mashed potatoes
one pkg. of 8 hamburger buns

    In crock pot, mix the soup mixes.  Slice steak into strips, roughly 1/2" wide and no longer than three or four inches long. Add to soup mix and stir until all steak pieces are coated with soup mix.  Turn heat to high and cook (covered) for one-and-a-half to two hours; reduce heat to low and cook for another two to three hours.  About five minutes before serving, uncover and sprinkle in the instant mashed potatoes.  Stir thoroughly, as the potatoes will thicken the liquid to form a gravy.  (* The amount you need may vary, depending upon the amount of liquid that "cooks out" of the steak, and how thick you want your gravy.)  Serve on split hamburger buns; makes eight sandwiches.  The steak can also be served over noodles or rice.

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BECKY'S BREAKFAST CASSEROLE (modified by me)

6 eggs
6 slices bread, torn into small pieces
2 cups milk
4 - 5 cups shredded cheese (Cheddar, Colby or Co-Jack), divided
1 lb. sausage, brown and drained
1 lb. ham, cubed into 1/2" pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
to taste salt, pepper
to suit paprika

   In large mixing bowl, mix eggs, bread and milk; add 3 cups of the cheese, sausage, ham, onion, and salt and/or pepper to taste; mix ingredients well.  Add mushrooms and mix lightly.  Pour mix into large (10" x 14" works well) oiled baking dish.  Top with remaining 1 - 2 cups of cheese.  Garnish top with paprika.  Cover with aluminum foil and place in refrigerator overnight.

   In morning, preheat oven to 375.  Bake covered for 45 minutes; uncover and bake for another 15 minutes.  Serve hot with toast, biscuits, bagels, or English muffins.  Serves six.

   Recipe can be altered to suit by omitting sausage, ham, onion and/or mushrooms.  Bacon works fairly well; pepperoni and green pepper tend to "overpower" other ingredients, while tomatoes give off too much liquid in cooking.  Recipe can be expanded by adding one egg, one slice of bread, 1/3 cup milk and 1/2 cup cheese per serving desired.

   The "trick" to this casserole is to let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.  The bread will soak up the other ingredients, and "break down and meld" with them.  You can prepare this dish immediately upon mixing (cooking time remains the same); however, the "chunks" of bread will be much more evident and the casserole will take on the characteristics of a stuffing.  If you don't mind... then go for it!

   A somewhat similar breakfast casserole, known as a strata, uses almost the same ingredients and techniques, with one major exception; do NOT tear the bread into chunks.  Instead, place the slices of bread on the bottom of the baking dish, and pour the egg / milk / cheese / etc. mix over the top.  The layer of bread on the bottom forms a sort of crust.  Again, if this is what you're looking for -- by all means -- go for it!

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BRAT BITES

1 pkg. (5) Bratwurst (I prefer pre-cooked for this recipe)
2 cans Buttermilk biscuits
as needed cooking spray or oil

   Preheat oven to 425.  Cut each bratwurst in half; cut each half in half; cut each quarter in half -- makes 40 pieces.  Open biscuits and separate into individual biscuits; cut each biscuit in half -- makes 40 halves.  With lightly oiled hands, wrap each bratwurst piece in a biscuit half; try to spread the dough around the bratwurst as evenly as possible.  Place each "bite" on lightly oiled baking sheet, leaving a little space around each for the dough to expand as it bakes.  Bake until golden brown -- about eight to ten minutes.  Best served hot with condiments to dip in -- mustard, ketchup, relish, and even chopped onions or sauerkraut.  Makes good appetizer, or can be served as an entree with mashed potatoes and a vegetable.

   If you use bratwurst that are not pre-cooked, adjust your cooking time to make sure they are thoroughly cooked before serving.

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CHEESY RANCH BISCUITS

1 can buttermilk biscuits
1 bottle* ranch dressing
1 pkg.* shredded "Co-Jack" cheese
1 jar* dried chives

   Bake biscuits according to directions on can; remove from oven and let cool for three to five minutes.  Split in half with fork and place split side up on baking sheet.  Apply a generous "dollop" of ranch dressing (about one tablespoon) to top of each biscuit half.  Top each biscuit half with approx. two tablespoons of grated cheese.  Sprinkle chives to suit on top of cheese.  Return baking sheet to oven and bake until cheese melts and gets "bubbly" -- about five minutes.  Serve immediately as a side dish.

   * You will not use the entire package / jar / bottle; I have worked with what was on-hand, and did not measure a particular amount, but just "eyeballed" it!

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ITALIAN CHICKEN AND SAUSAGE BAKE

1 to 1-1/2 lb. boneless chicken breasts
1 to 1-1/2 lb. Italian sausage links
3 or 4 medium potatoes
2 or 3 carrots
2 or 3 celery stalks
1 large onion
1 large green pepper
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 medium bottle Italian salad dressing
to taste salt and pepper

   Cut chicken and sausage into "bite-sized" chunks -- about 1/2" to 3/4".  Clean potatoes -- peel if desired, but not necessary -- and slice into "bite-sized" chunks.  Clean carrots, celery, onion and green pepper, and slice into chunks; you may want to slice the carrots into thinner sections, but not too thin!  Mix all meats and vegetables into a large oiled roasting pan.  Drizzle the Italian salad dressing over all ingredients; add salt and pepper to taste.  Mix ingredients lightly, coating all with the salad dressing.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 for one hour.

   Other seasonings can be added, such as garlic, oregano, red peppers or rosemary -- depending upon your preference.  Serve hot with crusty Italian bread and a tossed salad.  Serves six to eight.

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JAMBALAYA'S COUSIN

1-1/2 lb. chicken breasts
1-1/2 lb. ham, cubed in 1/2" cubes
1-1/2 lb. Italian sausage
1 tablespoon cooking oil
4 cans chicken broth
1 can beans - pinto, great northern, red, etc. -- your preference
1 can diced tomatoes
1 large green pepper, quartered and sliced
1 large onion, quartered and sliced
4 stalks celery, sliced
4 carrots, sliced
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow squash, quartered and sliced
3 tablespoons Essence*
2 tablespoons cilantro, dried
2 tablespoons Frank's Hot Sauce
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons pepper, black
2 tablespoons pepper, red, crushed
2 tablespoons salt
1 large box "instant" rice

   Place chicken broth in large pot; add beans, tomatoes, all vegetables, and all seasonings except for the Essence.  Bring contents of pot to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally.  Place cooking oil in skillet and heat; brown and crumble sausage until done.  Place browned sausage in pot, keeping oil/grease in skillet.  Coat chicken breasts with Essence, covering both sides; then cut chicken into 1/2" pieces.  Cook chicken in skillet until done; pour entire contents of skillet into pot.  Add ham cubes.  Cover and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally (every seven to ten minutes).  Add enough rice to absorb the liquid, and stir in thoroughly; remove from heat, cover, and let set for about ten minutes (or until the liquid is absorbed by the rice).  Serve warm with crusty bread and a salad.

   This recipe can be altered to suit; you can add other meats, such as shrimp, or vegetables, such as zucchini, green onions or fresh tomatoes.  (If you add tomatoes, you might want to wait until near the end of the cooking time, so they don't "reduce to mush".)  Or ingredients can be removed -- if you don't like mushrooms, don't use them!  Also, adjust seasonings to taste -- the seasonings listed are estimates, since I usually just add to taste.

   *Essence -- this is a seasoning blend compiled and marketed by Emeril Lagasse; it is available commercially, or its recipe can be found in any of his cookbooks or on the Food Network's "Emeril Live" pages.

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KICK KEESTER SUBS

4 mini-sub loaves, 6" to 9" long
as needed softened butter
to suit Seasonings:  garlic powder, chives or onion flakes, freshly ground black pepper, oregano, parsley, sea salt
at least two Cheeses:  Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Co-jack, Mozzarella, Provolone, Pepper Jack, Munster, American, Cream cheese
12 strips Bacon, fried crisp and drained
at least two Meats:  sliced roast beef, sliced chicken, sliced turkey, salami, sliced ham, pepperoni, even good ol' bologna!

   Preheat oven to 400.  Split mini-sub loaves in half lengthwise and spread generously with softened butter*; place butter side up on baking sheet.  Top each with choice of seasonings to suit -- I recommend each, with an emphasis on the garlic and onions or chives.  Bake until well toasted -- seven to ten minutes.  Remove from oven.  Top half of the loaves with layers of meats and cheeses.  I recommend beginning with a layer of cheese, then alternating meats and cheeses with successive layers.  You can put as much -- or as little -- on each sub.  The bacon is a MUST, though -- it is the ingredient that really sets this sub apart from "the competition"!  When the "layering" is complete, top with the remaining halves of the loaves.  Return baking sheet to the oven and heat until the cheeses melt and everything gets nice and hot -- six to eight minutes should do it.  Remove from oven and cut each sub in half to serve.  Serve with chips, dill pickle spears and a cold salad or cottage cheese.  Serves four hungry people!

   *  You could substitute olive oil for the butter.  But one of my family members has a mild allergy to olive oil, and another doesn't care for the taste -- so I use butter.

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ONION-Y CHEESE SPREAD

two blocks Philadelphia cream cheese
1 lb. (16 oz.) extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons onion flakes
1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon parsley, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt

   Place cream cheese and grated extra sharp cheddar cheese in a microwave-safe mixing bowl.  Microwave on high for 45 seconds; remove and stir.  Return to oven and microwave on high for 30 more seconds; remove.  Add all other ingredients and mix well.

   This cheese spread can be served warm or chilled; to chill, place in covered container and place in refrigerator until cheese spread has "set up".

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PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICHES

   You're probably wondering... why on Earth would I need a recipe for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?  Well, I know a trick to them... courtesy of Mom!

   The trick is... when you lay out your bread -- before applying the peanut butter and jelly -- spread each slice of bread with a little bit of softened butter.  The butter will coat the bread, and keep the peanut butter and jelly from soaking into the bread as much, thus making for a much moister sandwich!  The butter adds a little bit of flavor, too -- a subtle, but wonderful addition to the good ol' PB&J!!

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QUITE POSSIBLY THE BEST DESSERT SANDWICH EVER...

   Two slices raisin bread

   Butter, softened

   Peanut butter -- my preference is Jif Crunchy

   Honey

   Spread butter on the top faces of each slice of raisin bread.  Spread a generous layer of peanut butter on one of the buttered faces.  Drizzle a generous amount of honey on the peanut butter, and "mix" lightly with a knife.  Place other slice of raisin bread on top, buttered side against the peanut butter / honey mixture.  Enjoy!  Sandwich also "packs well" in a lunch box for enjoyment later!

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TOM'S MEXICAN "DIP"

2 pkg. cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 lb. ground beef
1 can refried beans
1 pint sour cream
1 medium onion (white or yellow)
1 bunch green onions
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons cilantro
1 medium jar salsa ("hotness" to preference)
4 cups shredded cheese ("Co-Jack" works well)
4 cups tomato chunks (1/4" or thereabouts)
to suit sliced black olives and/or jalapeno peppers*
to taste salt and pepper

   Lightly oil a large (at least 10" x 14") baking dish.  Spread the softened cream cheese over the bottom of the dish.  Crumble, brown and drain the ground beef.  Clean and chop the onion into fairly small pieces.  Clean and chop the green onions into small pieces; set the "greens" aside for the topping.  In a large mixing bowl, mix the "rest" of the green onion (the white parts), the browned ground beef, refried beans, sour cream, onions, taco seasoning mix, garlic powder and cilantro; salt and pepper to taste.  (Note:  some people prefer their onion to be cooked first; the onion can be cooked with the ground beef, or separately, then added to the mix.)  Gently spread the meat/bean mixture over the cream cheese.  Pour the salsa over the top of the meat/bean mixture.  Spread tomato chunks over the salsa.  Spread shredded cheese over tomatoes.  Spread the "greens" from the green onion over the cheese.  Garnish with sliced black olives and/or jalapeno slices as desired.  (If you can get red jalapeno peppers, the color makes a nice contrast!)  Bake at 375 for eight to ten minutes or until cheese melts and mixture heats through.  Serve with taco chips.  I would recommend you serve with small plates and a large spoon to dip the "dip" onto the plates, since this is a thick, "heavy" dip, it will break most taco chips without too much trouble!

   To speed up the heating process -- if you mix the meat/bean mixture in a microwave-safe mixing bowl, you can heat the meat/bean mix before spreading it over the cream cheese. Heat on high until mix reaches desired temperature, stirring every 90 seconds or so.

   This "dip" works well as an appetizer, or can serve as an entree with seasoned rice, a side vegetable and/or a salad, and taco chips.  Serves eight as an entree.

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