Saturday, April 14, 2012

Southern Fried Squash - Not as fattening as it sounds, so read on!

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes passed down from Granny. Serve this with the meatloaf in my last post and mashed potatoes.  Southern heaven!

Southern Fried Squash

3 lb. yellow squash, sliced in this rounds, about 1/8 inch thick
1/4 cup corn meal
2 TBSP flour
2 TBSP vegetable oil
salt and pepper

Put cornmeal and flour in a large ziploc bag or a big bowl.  Add the sliced squash and toss to coat. 

Heat oil in skillet, preferably cast iron, but non-stick works fine too.  Pour the squash mixture into the skillet.  Don't worry about the extra corn meal, it will crisp up and stick to the squash as it cooks.  Cook over medium heat tossing occasionally until the squash is soft.  About 30 minutes.

Granny's Meatloaf

My Granny Ceretha tought me how to make this meatloaf.  When I was young, Granny would come to stay with my sister Lisa and I when Dad needed to travel for business. The first dinner she made each visit was meatloaf, mashed potatoes and fried squash.  My favorite!!!  The next day she would make a meatloaf sandwich for my lunch.  It was widely known at Roswell High School that a meatloaf sandwich in my lunch meant that Granny had arrived!  Omar loves this meatloaf.  He asks for it at least once a month, sometimes twice.  I always send him to work the next day with a meatloaf sandwich, just like Granny used to make.  BTW, a meatloaf sandwich is whole wheat sandwich bread, meatloaf and cheddar cheese.  No condiments needed.

Granny Ceretha's Meatloaf

1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
2 slices sandwich bread, torn into small peices
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup ketsup, plus more for the top
1 onion, chopped
salt, 1 hearty pinch
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Tear up bread and place in a bowl.  Pour milk over bread and let sit a few minutes to saturate the bread.  Add the other ingredients and mix until well combined.  Do not overwork the meat.

Place mixture in a loaf pan, spread extra ketsup on the top and bake for 1 hour.

*This recipe can be doubled but will be too big for the loaf pan.  In this case, shape into a loaf and bake on a cookie sheet.  Increase the time by 15-30 minutes depending on thickness of your loaf.  A meat thermometer should read 180 degrees when meat is cooked through. I always line my cookie sheet with aluminum foil for easier clean up.

**Sometimes I add a little fresh parsley or cilantro and 1/4 cup grated romano or parmesan cheese.

***Any kind of bread works fine.  You can also use 1/2 cup store bought bread crumbs or stuffing mix.  Flavored croutons make a tasty meatloaf too, but make sure to soak them in the milk long enough to soften them.  You also may need to add a little extra milk if you use croutons.  The soaked bread is what keeps the meatloaf moist so make sure whatever you use is saturated!  Don't add any herbs or cheese if you use the croutons or your meatloaf will be SUPER rich.  You will need to go lighter on the salt also.

Chicken Fajitas, Salsa Fresca and Guacamole

Fajitas are a fun way to have dinner.  At the Grant/Ramirez abode we generally eat dinner on the couch, the bed, the computer desk or wherever there's a spot to sit down.  I know.....it's not the way newlyweds should eat, but if you saw the size of our Manhattan apartment you would totally get it. 

Thursday night Omar was going to be late getting home giving me time to leisurely make dinner without a starving man hovering over me asking, "When is dinner?" and "Can I have a snack?"  About half way through the preparation of my meal I was feeling extra special and decided we were going to eat at the table. Well, that and with my extra time, the meal kept getting more elaborate.  This turned out to be a most wonderful, unexpected, middle of the week date night!  We enjoyed a delicious meal, talked about our day, reminisced and shared stories about our past, and all because I made food that needed to be eaten at the table.  Believe me, I'm going to remember that trick!  Here are the recipes:

Chicken Fajitas

2 lb. chicken breast
1 pkg. taco seasoning
juice of 2 limes
1 TBSP canola oil
2 red bell peppers
1 large onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Flour tortillas

Toppings
grated cheddar
sour cream
salsa fresco (recipe below)
guacamole (recipe below)

Cut Chicken into 1/2 inch strips.  Mix chicken with taco seasoning and lime juice.  Marinate for about 30 minutes. 

While chicken is marinating, cut the pepper and onions into strips about the same size as your chicken and chop the cilantro.

Heat oil in skillet on high heat.  Add chicken and cook through, about 6-7 minutes.  Add peppers and onions.  Cover and cook stirring occasionally another 5-10 minutes or until your veggies are as soft as you like them. 

Assemble your toppings and put everything out on the table.  Everyone can build their own fajitas.


Salsa Fresco

10 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 small red onion, diced small
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 2 limes
salt and pepper to taste
*1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped very fine

Combine first 4 ingredients and taste.  If your tomatoes and lime are in season and ripe, you may not need any salt so always taste your salsa before adding salt.

*If you like a spicy salsa, add the jalapeno.  Omar doesn't like them, so I leave it out when I make it for him.  It doesn't add a lot of heat, just that unique jalapeno flavor.


Guacamole

2 ripe avocados
1 plum tomato, seeded and diced small
1/2 small red onion, diced small
1 garlic clove, very finely minced
juice of 2 limes
1/4 tsp. salt
fresh ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mash with a fork.  I leave the avocado slightly chunky.

*Put the lime juice on the avocado as soon as you cut it open to keep it from browning.