Friday, December 30, 2005

We Don't Drop the Ball Around Here

We drop the Peep.

Say, what?

Yes, not only does Bethlehem, Pa. bill itself as "The Christmas City", we are also home to Just Born Inc makers of Mike & Ike, Zours, Hot Tamales, the recently acquired Goldenberg's Peanut Chews (that's an actual food group in this house) and the ever-popular Peeps.

Yep-marshmallow Peeps are made just down the road.
Eat your heart out, Charlie Bucket.

For several years now we've had the Peep-mobile; a bright yellow VW with an insanely large and equally bright Peep attached to the roof. The kids think it's fantastic and most days we can see it parked in front of the factory.


Just Born facts:

• Just Born produces more than 1 billion individual MARSHMALLOW PEEPS® per year covering all of its holiday seasons.

• Just Born goes through more than 34 million pounds of sugar per year.

• Just Born manufactures more than 200 thousand pounds of jelly beans a day.

I think the best fact about Just Born is the donations they make to the community.
My kids have come home many times with Peeps they received at various events, and they donate money and time to many as well. Truly a company to look up to.

So, we all know how NYC has their tradition of dropping the ball above Times Square on New Year's Eve and now Bethlehem will start a tradition this year by dropping a Peep. On New Year's Eve a 25 pound fiberglass Peep, lighted from inside, will descend in Payrow Plaza to mark the beginning of a new year. I wasn't able to find a good photo, but this is the Peep.
(I had to scan from the paper and colorize it. You get the idea.)



Wednesday, December 28, 2005

You bought WHAT?

Last night I bought a 4 pound jar of peanut butter. Not odd really considering I have 6 kids. I don't think it's the healthiest thing on the planet, and I prefer all-natural for myself but, the kids love the stuff and it goes way beyond PB& J and PB Cookies in usefulness. Of course, we don't have any peanut allergies here so we're lucky in that respect.

I'll bore you with a standard PB cookie recipe down the line here but, for now, let's look at some different things about the all-American favorite goo.

Nutritionally speaking, peanut butter isn't so bad. Look at the stats:

2 Tablespoons of PB give you 13% of your daily requirement of protein, 8% of your needed fiber, 22% of vitamin E, 24% of niacin (way important for neurological health!), 7.5% of folate (pg women, this is VERY necessary to keep neural tube defects like spina bifida at bay!), plus a host of other nutrients~all in a tiny package. Good deal, I think.

There's peanut butter history here~please give it a read, it's quite interesting. It isn't all George Washington Carver either!

History and nutrition aside, my favorite part of any food are the recipes.

This first one is odd, yes, please don't balk though. I must admit, my initial reaction was just flat out "Ew!" and then I tried it, not as the recipe states but, I had a bowl of steaming tomato soup, I was pregnant so my taste horizons were limitless, and I dropped a spoonful of pb into the soup and was hooked. Campbell's is usually pretty on the mark even if they do make cream-of soups. Be adventurous.

This comes from "A Campbell Cookbook, Easy Ways to Delicious Meals" last revised in 1970.

Creamy Peanut Butter Soup

Printable Recipe

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed tomato soup
1/4 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
1 1/2 soup cans milk.

Stir soup into peanut butter, a little at a time, until well blended; add milk. Heat, but do not boil; stir occasionally. 3 to 4 servings.

**********
In Africa peanuts are refered to as "groundnuts" and some of the best recipes I've seen come from that continent.

West African Chicken and Groundnut Stew

Printable Recipe

2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon peanut oil or oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 can whole tomatoes, (28-oz.) undrained, cut up
1 can Great Northern beans, (15.5-oz.) undrained
1 can corn, (11-oz.) drained
1 sweet potato, peeled, chopped
1/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 cups hot cooked rice

Cut chicken breasts into 1/2-inch pieces. In 4-quart Dutch oven
over medium-high heat, cook chicken in oil until chicken is lightly
browned and no longer pink, stirring frequently. Add onion and
garlic; cook and stir 3 to 4 minutes or unti l onion is tender.
Add remaining ingredients except rice; mix well. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook 30 minutes or until sweet
potat o is tender, stirring occasionally. If stew becomes too thick
add additional water. Serve stew over hot rice.

**********
When I owned a small cafe in Allentown (for about 2 minutes) an older patron asked if I could serve peanut butter soup. I didn't have a recipe then but I quickly came up with one and he was more than satisfied.

Peanut Butter Soup

Printable Recipe

1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1 clove garlic, minced
3 T Butter
1 T Flour
1 c Peanut butter
4 c Chicken stock or vegetable stock
Salt, pepper
1 c heavy cream

Cook onion, celery and garlic in butter until soft in 2-quart saucepan.
Add flour and cook, stirring, until smooth. Stir in peanut butter, add chicken
broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, over low
heat until thickened and smooth. Add cream and blend well.

**********
Bangkok Beef
Printable Recipe


1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/3 cup soy sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 pound boneless beef sirloin steak
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 large carrots, julienned
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
3 cups cooked rice

Combine peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, cilantro,
lemon juice, garlic powder, black pepper and red pepper
flakes in small bowl; set aside. Partially freeze steak;
slice across grain into 1/8 inch strips. Stir-fry beef in
oil in large skillet or wok over high heat 1 to 2 minutes.
Add carrots, onions, red pepper, and peanuts; cook 1 to 2
minutes. Add rice and peanut sauce; heat thoroughly. Serve warm.

Note: For Shrimp Bangkok, substitute 3/4 pound cooked and
de-veined shrimp for beef strips.

**********
Baked Peanut Butter Chicken
Printable Recipe


1 chicken-2-3 lb-cut into pieces.
1/4 c flour
1 egg
1/3 c peanut butter
1 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1/3 c milk
1/2 c bread crumbs,dry
1/4 c peanut oil

Wash and dry chicken pieces-dip in flour. Blend egg
with peanut butter, salt, and pepper. Gradually add
milk, beaten with fork to blend. Dip floured chicken in
peanut butter mixture and then in crumbs. Place on oiled
baking pan. Drizzle remaining oil over chicken pieces
and bake 375'F 45 minutes or until tender.

**********
Cold Sesame Noodles
Printable Recipe


4 T peanut butter
3 t warm water
2 t sesame oil
1 dash soy sauce
1/2 t sugar
1 dash Tobasco-to taste
3 c cooked spaghetti noodles

Cook spaghetti-drain and rinse with cold water
Mix peanut butter with water until creamy and light in
color. Add remaining ing. Pour over spaghetti. Toss well
to coat.

**********


Cinda's Peanut Butter Cookies
Printable Recipe


1 c Peanut butter
1 c Sugar
1 Egg

Mix ingredients together-form into balls-flatten with
fork. Bake at 350 until edges are lightly browned.

**********
Melt-in-Your-Mouth Peanut Butter Cookies
Printable Recipe


1/2 cup butter (don't use margarine - butter is best)
1/2 cup solid shortening (I use butter-flavored Crisco sticks)
1/2 cup peanut butter (I use creamy - but crunchy would be good too)
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 beaten egg
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar

Cream butter, shortening and peanut butter. Add sugar and beat until mixture
is fluffy. Blend in vanilla and egg until creamy. Combine remaining
ingredients and add to creamed mixture; blend well. Roll into 1-inch balls, roll the balls
in granulated sugar, and put them on a cookie sheet; then flatten with a fork.
Bake at 350° for 12 minutes.

Also check out:

National Peanut Board
and

Peanut Butter Lovers

Monday, December 26, 2005

Clingy sick baby+company coming = Change of plans

We all know from my previous post that I had plans for a pork roast (a rather large 8 lbs which I failed to mention) and a croquembouche as major players in my Christmas Dinner.

The pork roast came off without a hitch, albeit a tad smaller, I cut it to a mere 6 lbs. We all know it isn't the size of the loin but what you do with it that counts. I cut slits along the top on both sides and inserted half cloves of garlic and stuck tufts of rosemary straight out the top which looked very attractive when the whole thing was done and I do have a still from a horrid home movie hubby filmed but it looks well, horrid. I got absolute rave reviews and I must say, it was luscious.

The roast was clearly unaffected by the sick baby but, the cream puffs necessary to make the croquembouche were not doable with snot-boy hanging onto me. Making them was one thing, but filling them clearly takes two hands. I had a momentary lapse of reason when I thought I would put it all together with empty puffs but I'm sure it would have caved or worse, guests would have noticed. C'est la vie.

There was one minor glitch several days prior when my husband was coercing his mother to come (long story) and told we would be having a pork roast and she said something along the lines of "what if I don't eat pork?" to which dear husband replied "She's making salmon too!". Uh? Oh really? Well, mom-in-law perked right up at that and so I hoofed it back to market to purchase a 2 lb salmon filet. Glad I did, that was scrumptious as well.

Everyone went away fully FULL, and brother-in-law Peter, who has been in food service and hotel/restaurant management for 20 years was impressed. Not that I take his word as gospel but, it's nice to be complimented by one of your peers with double helpings of everything.

Here is our family photo of the day,(couple more here) not impressive but cute nonetheless, and yes, I am looking old and tired but I think I've earned that title by now.


Back: Ian, Mom, Cassidy, Megan
Front: Erin, Declan, Katie, Dad


No recipes today my dears, I get a day off too!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Merry Christmas


Everyone has holiday traditions; or they should. Our family celebrates Christmas with several traditions.

1) A real tree that we usually cut down at a tree farm that we decorate while sipping hot chocolate and munching on Christmas cookies.


2) Secret Santa~we pick names on Thanksgiving after dinner and give gifts to our recipients until Christmas Eve.


3) Our annual Christmas Eve party~just us ~we light every candle we have, light luminarias on the front walk, turn on Christmas songs, put out a table full of appetizer-type food and reveal our Secret Santas with a final gift. We also try to watch a Christmas Movie that night.


4) We put out Magic Reindeer Food before the kids go to bed on Christmas Eve.


5) I stay up after the kids are in bed and wrap presents by "Christmas light" and make "Santa's Footprints" on the floor with baby powder.


6) In the morning I wake the kids (YES, I am up before they are!) by ringing bells and telling them they just missed the Big Guy.


7) New this year will be a bowl full of oranges (clementines) and a small bowl full of pennies in remembrance of my grandfather Theodore Sharp~when he would wake on Christmas morning there was an orange and a penny in his stocking and they always had homemade vanilla ice cream on Christmas Day. I want my children to always understand how fortunate they are that we are able to have so much. We are actually very poor by today's standards but I still believe we are richer than most in what we do have, and I am very grateful for it. I want them to learn that as well.

On to menus! Our Christmas Eve party varies slightly in some aspects each year but there are mainstays that we cannot be without and they are:


Cajun BBQ Shrimp

Chicken Cheese Spread
A plateful of various fish; smoked oysters, kippers, etc.Nanaimos

We also usually have cheeses and crackers, a bowl of candy and Chex mix! My kids worship that stuff.


For Christmas dinner this year I wanted to go as simple as possible without losing any of the festive feel of the day. We will be having:


Roast pork loin and new potatoes with rosemary and garlic (there's mom's rosemary!)

Gravy
Green bean casserole (kids' request)
Baby asparagus
White corn
Relish tray
Homemade rolls
Salad

Dessert:


Croquembouche (I will have to take a picture)
Cherry pie
Cookies etc.


Here are a few of the recipes, I won't repeat ones I have already posted.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cajun BBQ Shrimp
Printable Recipe

3 slices bacon-diced fine

2 sticks- 1 c. margarine (NOT butter)
2T. Dijon mustard
1 1/2t. chili powder
1/4 t. dried basil
1/4 t. dried thyme
black pepper to taste
1T. crab boil
1/2t. Tabasco
1 1/2 lbs large shrimp-shell on

Cook bacon in a large oven proof pot until brown. Add margarine and melt. Add remaining ingredients and place in oven-uncovered. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes.


These are great even with the shell still on and eaten with the shrimp.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chicken Cheese Spread
Printable Recipe

2-8oz. pkgs. cream cheese (softened)

2 cans Underwood Chicken Spread
1/4 c. green pepper-small dice
1/4c. peanuts-chopped fine

Mix all and chill-allow to soften slightly before serving with crackers.


Variations on green peppers and peanuts:
red pepper and walnuts

grated carrot and raisins
dried apricot and pecans

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Magic Reindeer Food
Printable Recipe

Santa can't help but stop if the reindeer take him to your treat!
Mix together:


1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup instant oatmeal
2 tbsp of glitter (substitute edible sprinkles if you live in an area with wildlife)

Friday, December 16, 2005

It's All Good

Today I was able to do a rare thing; talk a walk downtown with Katie and Ian, 4 years old and 17 months old, repectively. Most "downtowns" aren't anything like ours. We are lucky. We live in, what our city refers to itself as "Christmas City, USA", Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. We also are very blessed to live on the street most famous in our city, Main Street. Yes, go ahead and giggle, I live on Main Street, USA.

Anyhow, if you click the linked words above you will see that, indeed, Main Street here is quite attractive during the Holiday season. There are carols playing from hidden speakers, shops full of Christmas Cheer, and the lights after dusk are very pretty. We also have a huge star set on South Mountain that is lit up all year long.

We stopped by the bank after dropping 2 of the kids off at school and made customary stops at all my favorite places starting with The Moravian Cook Shop~which is attached to The Moravian Book Shop, who bills itself as America's Oldest Book Store. Cool stuff, huh? Bethlehem was founded by Moravians, Count Zinzendorf in particular, and Moravian College is still alive and doing very well~I should know, I live directly across the street!

On to the food part~we stopped in at the Cook Shop first and Katie had a hot chocolate and strawberry chocolate chip muffin, and I had a cafe au lait and a palmier (!YES , they had them this morning!). That muffin was divine, and I will be sharing a recipe for strawberry bread that is nearly identical.

Off then to Donegal Square, my favorite Celtic shopping spot, where I spied a tea in the window that I made them scramble for when I went in called Taylors of Harrogate, UK~Spiced Christmas Fruit Tea. As soon as we were able to stop for lunch (hot dog for Katie, and turkey on wheat for mom-btw Ian always eats whatever we are all having!) I opened the tin to smell it. Yummy. As soon as hubby gets home I'll brew a perfect pot and if I feel generous I'll make some when my brother and his wife and kids visit next week :o)

Now, this isn't much to the average person at all but, I love food-if you don't know this by now-and these things are all little luxuries to me and, as such, are so well enjoyed.

There were several small things as well that my mom dropped off yesterday. I am lucky enough to be the recipient of her "overages", magazines she accidentally bought twice, food she has too much of or no use for, soaps she bought in abundance; those types of things. Well, she dropped off a full pound of walnuts, a pound of unsalted butter, fresh rosemary, 3 little tea towels made from flour sacks with the cutest little chef design on them,





and~on the non-food-related end~three bars of delicious smelling French milled soap.
Once I utilize these things, you can bet I'll share recipes!



Strawberry Bread
Printable Recipe

This comes from a cookbook written by my mother's dear friend John Henry, who wrote it for his wife JoAn after her death.

2 -10 oz pkgs frozen strawberries, thawed
4 eggs
1 1/4 c cooking oil
2 c sugar
3 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c chopped nuts

Stir first 4 ingredients together well then add dry ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in nuts and pour into 2 9x5 inch greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

*I top ours with cinnamon sugar.



Thursday, December 15, 2005

Cookie Dough


~UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF POST~


What exactly is America's fascination with cookie dough? Maybe it's the "forbidden" aspect of eating something you really shouldn't. Might it be the texture? You know, that grainy feel that takes you back to your childhood when you heaped sugar on whatever you could when mom wasn't looking?

But, not just any cookie dough; chocolate chip cookie dough. For me, there is only one real chocolate chip cookie and that is Nestle Toll House cookies. That historic figure, Ruth Wakefield, and her "accident" have been loved world-wide since 1930. Read about her here and the next time you make chocolate chip cookies, make these.

Since eating cookie dough isn't so safe nowadays, these little bon-bons meet that need in a truly wonderful way:

Cookie Dough Truffles
From Taste of Home
Printable Recipe

1/2 c butter-softened
3/4 c packed brown sugar
2 c all purpose flour
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 c mini chocolate chips
1/2 c chopped walnuts-optional
1 -1/2 lbs chocolate candy coating

Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Add flour, condensed milk and vanilla-mix well.
Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.
Shape into 1" balls and place on waxed paper lined cookie sheets.
Cover loosely and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours until firm.
Melt candy coating in microwave or double boiler until smooth.
Do NOT overheat!
Dip balls in chocolate and set back on waxed paper.
Refrigerate until hardened, about 15 minutes.

Makes about 5 1/2 dozen
*******************************

I just made the following version and gave a piece to the 2 kids at home. Ian, who is 17 months old, took his piece and as I turned to walk back the kitchen, he RAN in there, grabbed my leg and pulled me over to the counter saying "I some, I some!"

So ... they're good-but they don't call to be dipped in chocolate like the others. I'm dipping mine anyway.

Cookie Dough Truffles II
Printable Recipe

1 cup soft butter
1½ cups brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon water
6 ounces miniature chocolate chips.

Cream butter and sugar together. Add remaining ingredients and mix well by hand. Roll into bite size balls. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Store in a plastic zippered bag in the freezer. Makes 4 dozen. Let stand at room temperature 5 minutes before eating.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Fudge!

What would the world be without fudge? Boring, for one. There are so many types of fudge out there it's nearly impossible to name them all. My favorite, along with the majority of fudge lovers, is chocolate fudge. Here are several recipes, variations on a theme if you will. If you give any a try, let me know how it turned out-I haven't tried all of these myself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Delicious Fudge
Printable Recipe


1 c Brown Sugar
1 c Sugar
2/3 c Milk, Condensed
2 oz Unsweetened Chocolate
2 tb Butter
2 tb Corn Syrup
1 ts Vanilla
1 c Nuts, Chopped

Cut the chocolate in small pieces and cook with the brown and
granulated sugar, the condensed milk and the corn syrup. Stir until
the sugar is dissolved. Then cook, stirring occasionally, until the
fudge forms a soft ball when dropped in cold water. Remove from the
fire, add the butter and let stand until it is cool. Then beat until
it begins to lose its glossy appearance. Add the vanilla and the
nuts, pour on a greased pan and allow to cool. Cut in squares.

Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book -
Fine Old Recipes, Culinary Arts Press, 1936.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Candy Bar FudgePrintable Recipe


1/2 c butter or margarine
1/3 c cocoa powder
1/4 c brown sugar-packed
1/4 c milk
3 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
30 caramel candy-unwrapped
1 T water
2 c peanuts-salted
1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c milk chocolate chips

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter, cocoa, brown sugar and
milk. Microwave on high until mixture boils, about 3 minutes. Stir in
confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Pour into a greased 8-in. square
baking pan. In another microwave-safe bowl, heat caramels and water on
high for 2 minutes or until melted. Stir in peanuts-spread over
chocolate layer. Microwave chocolate chips on high for 1 minute or
until melted-spread over caramel layer. Chill until firm.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
No Cook Fudge
Great one for kids!
Printable Recipe


1/2 gallon ziplock bag
1/2 cups cocoa
3 ounces cream cheese
1 pound powdered sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place all ingredients in the ziplock bag.
Work out the air. Knead 25-30 min.
Nuts or peanut butter may be added at the end.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
One Bowl Chocolate Fudge
My personal favorite, and the one I always make.
Printable Recipe


1 pk 8 squares semisweet chocolate
2/3 c Sweetened condensed milk
1 t Vanilla
1/8 t Salt
1 c Chopped walnuts

Microwave chocolate and milk in 1 1/2 quart microwavable bowl on
high for 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Stir until chocolate
is completely melted and smooth.
Stir in vanilla, salt and walnuts. Spread in greased 8 x 4 or
9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours;
cut into small squares.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Creamy Chocolate Fudge
Printable Recipe


1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
1-1/2 cups white sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line an 8x8 inch pan with aluminum foil. Set aside. In a large saucepan over
medium heat, combine marshmallow cream, sugar, evaporated milk, butter and
salt. Bring to a full boil, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and pour in semisweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate
chips. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in nuts
and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours, or
until firm.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I haven't the conscience to try this one. Fudge is so bad for you already and Velveeta...
pseudo cheese to start with and some of the ingredients I just can't pronounce.
Well, it IS the Holiday Season, if you do make this one PLEASE let me know!

Velveeta Cheese FudgePrintable Recipe


1 lb Margarine or Butter
1 lb Velveeta Cheese
1 c Cocoa
4 lb Powdered Sugar
2 c Nuts, Chopped
2 ts Vanilla

Melt margarine and cheese together. Mix in remaining ingredients. Spread
in greased pan. Cool. Cut in squares. Keep in refrigerator. Makes enough
for a big party.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Soup's On!

"Eat soup first and eat it last, and live 'til a hundred years be passed"
~French Proverb


This morning the temperature was a balmy 11 degrees F with a wind chill of 1. That was at 6 AM when I first checked. I have no idea how much colder it may have been at 4 AM when I was numbly doing my paper route.

One thing screamed at me when I hit the warmth of the house this morning and that was, "SOUP!".

There is nothing better, more satisfying or more comforting on a cold day.
On your coldest day, I should think one of these would serve you well.




Translated as 'pasta with beans' and known as 'Pasta Fazool' in Philly, this soup that has so many variations I can't count them. Everyone has a family favorite recipe and each one is the 'right' one. This is the way I like it - sometimes with red kidney beans and larger chunks of tomato - but always with lots of garlic.

Pasta e Fagioli
Serves 8
Printable Recipe

4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion - chopped
2 stalks celery - chopped
2 medium carrots - peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic - minced
8 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 handful freshly chopped parsley
4 cups cooked cannellini beans
1 cup crushed tomato
1 cup small pasta such as ditalini, small elbows or small shells
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving

1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic and turn the heat low. Stir and cook until softened - take your time with this step, it will add a lot of flavor. Keep the heat low - it takes about 10 minutes or so.

2. Add stock, parsley and bay leaf and bring to a boil - reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until veggies are tender.

3. Bring to a boil again and add beans, tomato and pasta. Reduce heat once more and cook until pasta is done - about 20 minutes longer.

4. Take off heat and add Parmesan. Stir well and serve with more Parmesan for the top.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Basque Vegetable Soup
Serves 8-10
Printable Recipe

3/4 lb Polish sausage-sliced
1 broiler-fryer chicken (2-3 lbs.)
8 c water
2 leeks, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 lg turnip, peeled and cubed
1 lg onion, chopped
1 lg potato, peeled and cubed
1 clove garlic-minced
1 1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 T snipped fresh parsley
1 t dried thyme
1 c shredded cabbage
2 c cooked navy or great northern beans

In a skillet, cook the sausage until done. Drain and set
aside. In a large dutch oven, cook chicken in water
until tender. Remove chicken-let cool. Strain broth and
skim off fat. Return broth to dutch oven. Add parsley,
thyme and all vegetables except cabbage, beans and
cooked sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and
simmer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, remove chicken from
bones and cut into bite size pieces-add to the dutch
oven. Add cabbage, beans and cooked sausage. Simmer,
uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are
tender.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pistou Vegetable Soup
Serves 10
Printable Recipe

1 lb. dried white beans, cooked
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic
3 carrots, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
4 potatoes, diced
28 oz. whole tomatoes, diced
1/4 head cabbage, shredded
8 leaves kale, shredded
6 cups chicken broth, canned or homemade
1 tsp. thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Puree half the beans in your food processor and set aside. In a large
pot, heat olive oil and saute onion and garlic for about two minutes
or until translucent. Add carrot, celery and potato and saute another
2 minutes. Add tomatoes and their liquid, beans, bean puree and
seasoning. Let simmer 5 minutes.

Add chicken broth to the mixture (sooner if it seems to be drying
out). Add cabbage and kale, correct the seasoning and simmer until
veggies are tender. Serve with a dollop of pesto
(homemade or readily prepared from a jar) on the top.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Prince Edward Island Potato Soup
Printable Recipe

1/4 c butter
1 lg onion-diced
4 med P.E.I. potatoes-diced
6 carrots-diced
3 c water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
freshly ground pepper
3 T flour
3 c milk
1/4 c dried parsley
1 t dried Thyme

In a large stock pot melt butter, add onion and cook
until onion is transparent. While onion cooks, place
diced potatoes, carrots, water and bouillon in another
large stock pot and bring to a boil. Cook until tender,
about 10 minutes. Season with pepper to taste.
When vegetables are cooked, add flour to onion to make a
paste. Add milk gradually. Mix well and heat over low
until warm. Add vegetables and liquid. Stir thoroughly
and heat for 5 to 10 minutes, over medium heat, stirring
occasionally until mixture thickens slightly. Add
parsley and thyme. Heat thoroughly and serve.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Martha Washington's Crab Soup
Printable Recipe

1 T Butter
5 ts Flour
3 Eggs; hard boiled;sieved
1 Lemon; grated rind of
1 pinch -Salt
1 pinch -White pepper,freshly ground
4 c Milk
1/2 lb crab meat - cooked
1/2 c Heavy cream
1/2 c Dry sherry
1 ds Worcestershire sauce


In a 2 qt saucepan, combine butter, flour,
sieved eggs,lemon rind, salt and pepper.
In a separate saucepan, bring milk to a boil, remove
from heat.
Gradually pour in the hot milk into the egg mixture,
stirring with a wire whisk. Add crab meat, and cook over low heat for
5 minutes-do not boil. Add cream and remove from heat. Stir in
sherry and Worcestershire sauce and serve piping hot.

Monday, December 12, 2005

By Request: Easiest Candy Ever

Buckeyes
Printable Recipe


2 lbs peanut butter
3 lbs powdered sugar
1 lb butter
3 T vanilla

Mix together - Form balls - Refrigerate 1 hour

Melt together:

2 bags chocolate chips (or use melting chocolate)
1/2 paraffin bar melted

Dip Balls in Chocolate Chill! Eat and Enjoy!

Christina dear, if you mean something different let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Don't Sit Next to Me Today

I woke this morning at 4 a.m., as usual, to exactly what I knew was coming ... snow. There was about 3 inches on the ground when I left the house to make my daily rounds with the local paper and still coming down. It fell heavily near the end of the route and my oldest daughter and I (the 2 older girls help Thursday through Sunday) nearly missed each other at one point because of the lack of visibility.

We got home caked with snow and looking like 2 Sasquatch.

The snow ended about 9 a.m. and after the car was shoveled out, I went shopping for a few necessities I should have gotten yesterday. After my trip, we had a late lunch during which my oldest child quipped, "Look at the food you have us used to!"

I warned her not to breathe on any other cast members on opening night of "It's A Wonderful Life", the play she is in this year at her high school.

What was this highly offensive feast?

Tapenade, homemade of course (1 large clove of garlic to 1 cup of olives~quite a burn to it but a darn good burn)
Roasted Garlic Sourdough bread from LaBrea bakeries (whole cloves of roasted garlic baked right in)
Whole wheat pita
Roasted garlic hummus
Garlic and herb chevre
Alouette~Spinach and Artichoke
Artichoke hearts
Baby gherkins
Roasted red peppers

...and 2 other things that the youngest ones gorged on; Honey Wheat pretzels and Cocoa Chex Mix. The only things truly missing were sun warmed and ripened plum tomatoes and a plateful of Niçoise olives.

Bet you're glad you aren't sitting next to me right now.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Mom just dropped this off:



I can't wait to sink my teeth into this one ;o) and shame on me for not having read it yet.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Now, this is a game I have to get!

Finally a board game for food lovers, Food Lover's Trivia, created by local chefs Jon Middleton and Eric Rappaport, is on the market. In stores in the Lehigh Valley or online at The Original Food Lover's Trivia site.
This article is in today's local paper. I'm a big fan of trivia games and this one is obviously right up my alley.

Check it out!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Cooking For Dad

This past April my father fell ill with pancreatic cancer. He had jaundiced and went to be checked out. After several intense days of waiting my step-mom called and told me that the big C word was mentioned. I recall, when I hung up the phone with her, sitting down on the kitchen floor and crying like a baby. Nobody wants their daddy to die.

Eventually dad found that he has pancreatic cancer and he decided to go an alternative route at the Hoxsey Clinic (renamed Bio-Medical Center) in Tijuana, Mexico.

I wanted to see him, be there for him. I was so afraid for him, I was scared that HE was scared and I somehow couldn't bear that thought. Daddy's are invincible, aren't they? My first instinct was to run right up there, knowing it was not a possibility but struggling nonetheless to figure it all out. I emailed many, checked websites and made phone calls to several different areas near where he lives, all in an attempt to figure out how to move my family there, I even had my husband call a prospective employer in that area, so I could be near dad.

Life happens, as it always does, and things here happened in such a way that it was undeniable that we should remain where we were. I knew I should stay put and yet I felt like I couldn't breathe, I felt like I HAD to be there or at least be doing something to help. I was paralyzed in a way by the whole thing~cancer is one of those things that happens to "other people" like murder and car accidents.

Well, happen, it did. Dad went to Tijuana and came home with a treatment plan that includes a very strict diet. No acids, organic only, little dairy and meat. Finally, I knew there was a way I could help-even if it wasn't much.

Dad and I email back and forth over recipes and diet topics-and hopefully I'm helping.

The most amazing thing about this whole deal, and if you have ever known anyone with pancreatic cancer, you will have already picked up on it, is that dad is still here. Not just here but, for lack of better wording, IN REMISSION.

He has been to TJ 3 times so far and the last time turned up news that the big cancer marker was absolutely normal-where just 3 weeks prior it was at very bad levels. I could write a book about the whole thing (and dad could write a novel akin to War and Peace, I'm sure) but these are the basic facts of it all. God still knows what He's doing.

Some things I've learned over these last 8 months:

1. Dads are human.
2. My dad doesn't know everything there is to know (which is a real disappointment ;o) but I'll live)
3. My dad is smarter than I thought in many ways.
4. My dad loves me more than I thought.
5. I love my dad more than I thought.
6. I don't know all there is to know about food and cooking (another disappointment)
7. My step-mom is the very best person for my dad-her response to dad's illness was that she would support him, no matter what his decision was~which is exactly what the best partner does.

Well, here's a recipe for the food end of this, since that's what my blog is supposed to be about :)

Dad sent an email to let me know this recipe I shared with him is good stuff:

Fassoulada-Greek Bean Soup
Printable Recipe

1 lb dried navy beans
2 medium onions - diced
2 celery stalks - chopped
2 carrots - peeled and diced
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh mint or thyme
Salt & freshly ground pepper


Wash beans and soak overnight in water to cover by at least one inch. On the following day, cover beans with water and cook until tender. Rinse well. In a heavy soup pot, heat olive oil and add onion, celery and carrots. Saute until onions are translucent. Add in remaining ingredients and simmer for half an hour. Remove bay leaf and mint/thyme sprigs before serving.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Confessions of a Cookie Hater

OK, I don't hate cookies, I love cookies. I hate MAKING cookies. I realize that seems a little sick for a mother of 6 to admit, but I just loathe the task.

It takes too long, there's too much "babysitting" involved, not enough room for error-I could go on.

The sad and sorry fact is, I make them anyway. I make them for those darling upturned faces with big doe eyes pleading for a treat. No, not the dog, the kids.

Of course, I prefer things like bar cookies so I can dump it all in one pan and cut them up when they're all done. I'll post 2 recipes for starters-one a bar type and the other a cut-out (ugh--cut outs are the WORST time-killers!)

This first recipe has a little story behind it (bear with me if you've already read the Family Favorites page).

My Grandma Foster made a "cookie" that we always called "Grandma's Chocolate Squares" that we all absolutely love. My mom made them every year for Christmas and when I started my own family I too made them for the holidays.

My oldest brother attended a potluck of sorts at a convention that was filled with international cuisines. At one table sat a woman with a plate piled high with our Grandma Foster's Chocolate Squares~except they weren't called that, they were called Nanaimos. Of course Bob asked what the heck that stranger was doing billing our Grandma's cookies as not only her own, but as something by a different name.

Of course she set him straight and explained what they really were. 
Nanaimos were the winning cookie in a contest held in Nanaimo BC and really are sinfully delicious. I've seen many variations since then but this is the one that we call our "own".

Nanaimo Bars
Printable Recipe


First Layer:

1/2 C Butter
1/4 C granulated sugar
1 egg
5 T cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
2 C graham cracker crumbs
1 C coconut
1/2 C chopped walnuts

Second Layer:

1/2 C butter, softened
3 T milk
2 T instant vanilla pudding
2 C powdered sugar

Third Layer:

1 6 oz. Pkg. choc. Chips

First layer: Mix butter, sugar, eggs, cocoa and vanilla
over hot water until it resembles custard. Add the
crumbs, coconut and walnuts. Press into a 9 X 9-inch
square pan. Cool.

Second Layer: Cream butter, milk and pudding together,
then blend in powdered sugar. Spread over the first
layer and let stand for 15 minutes.

Third Layer: Melt chocolate and spread over the second
layer. Cut into squares.

****************

These next cookies come from the Better Homes and Gardens
Cookbook and they are SO good. When I first saw the recipe I thought there was no way that they would taste good without butter but they're awesome. If you're making cut-out cookies for Christmas give these a try! I've never made them with the orange peel and they are just as fabulous without.

B H & G Sugar Cookies ca. 1965
Printable Recipe


2/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbls orange peel
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
4 tsp milk
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Cream first 4 ingredients together. Add egg and milk and beat until light
and fluffy. Stir last three ingredients together and add in two parts. Mix
thoroughly. Chill covered tightly at least 1 hour (overnight is okay).

Mix 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Use small amount of mixture to
roll cookie dough out 1/8 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters or biscuit
cutter. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 8 minutes or until very
lightly browned. Cool on wire rack. Glaze or frost and decorate with
decorator icing.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

What's Cookin' Today

I recently purchased a 5 pound bag of black beans from the "dented cans" section at my local grocery. Here are 2 recipes for them. I made the soup 2 days ago and am in the process of making the chili. Mmmmm it sure smells good here!

Black Bean Soup
Printable Recipe

2 cups dried black beans
2 cloves garlic-minced
1 medium carrot-peeled and diced small
1 large stalk celery-diced small
1 small onion-diced small
1 can tomatoes with chiles (Rotel) or tomatoes concassé
1 ham hock
4 cups chicken, vegetable, or other stock
1 bay leaf

Sort and soak beans overnight; drain and discard soak water.
In a 4-quart pot, saute garlic, onion, carrot and celery in olive oil until tender
but not browned. Add beans, stock, ham hock, bay leaf, and tomatoes.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer until beans are tender, 1 to
1-1/2 hours. Remove ham hock and bay leaf before serving.


Black Bean Chili
Printable Recipe

1 pound lean ground pork
1 medium red OR green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon paprika
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup water
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lime juice
Shredded cheddar cheese

Coat a heavy, large, covered pot with olive oil.
Heat over medium-high heat.
Add pork, bell pepper, onion, garlic and cumin. Cook and stir until pork is brown and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Drain off fat.
Stir black beans, undrained tomatoes, water, oregano and salt into mixture in pot. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
Uncover; simmer about 15 minutes more or until desired consistency.
Stir in lime juice. Ladle into soup bowls. Sprinkle each serving with cheddar cheese. Serve with tortillas, if desired.
Serves 4 to 6.


I got this recipe from Paula and plan on making them today. They sound awesome~and we all know this is one of my favorite combos~pumpkin and chocolate.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Printable Recipe


2 cups canned pumpkin
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
4 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda combined with 2 tsp. milk
1 11 oz. bag chocolate chips

Blend pumpkin, sugar, oil and eggs together - set aside.
Stir together flour and cinnamon. Add flour to pumpkin mixture and stir in baking soda mixed with milk. 
Fold in chocolate chips and drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.
Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes

These are a delicious, soft, moist cookie.

I use only half a bag of chocolate chips, and I think that's perfect, but the recipe calls for a whole bag.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Yes, I take requests--AKA--Lots of Chicken Recipes

A fellow blogger asked me to hook her up with a recipe for chicken breasts. You know not what you ask dear. I have SO many recipes for chicken, it's disgusting. I will post a few here to whet your appetite.

I must say though, my very favorite recipe for chicken breasts is this: Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add some olive oil to it, I would say 1-2 Tablespoons for 2 breasts, mince a clove or two of garlic, about 1 clove for 2 breasts, and add the oil to the garlic as soon as the oil starts to "shimmer" in the pan. Stir it around quickly so it doesn't burn and add the chicken breasts to it. Sear them on both sides and turn the heat down a tad--to medium I'd say--and cook about 5 minutes per side until they are done.


This sounds so ridiculously easy but let me tell you, when the garlic hits the olive oil, the smell is nearly  Heaven. I was making this once when a friend was over and she asked what I was cooking and when I told her, she had to come and see for herself ~ it smells that good.

OK, I must get on with the recipes.

P.S. Any purists, bow out now, some of these recipes call for canned "cream of" soup!

Anne's Chicken and Potatoes with Olives
Serves 4

Printable Recipe

2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 medium red potatoes cleaned and sliced thickly
1/2 c ranch dressing
1/2 c milk
1 can black olives-drained

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces and cook in 1 T olive
oil until browned. Add ranch dressing and milk. Add
potatoes and enough water to cover-simmer until potatoes
are done. Toss in olives and heat through.

*******************
Apricot Chicken
Serves 6

Printable Recipe

6 chicken breast halves without skin
8oz apricot preserves
1 1/2 c French dressing
1 envelope onion soup mix
3 T brown sugar
1/2 t seasoned salt

In a large skillet, brown chicken and place into a
9 x 13 inch baking dish. Set aside. In a large mixing
bowl, combine remaining ingredients and pour over
chicken. Cover with foil. Bake at 275 degrees for
2 hours, uncovering for the last 20 minutes of the
baking time. Serve over rice.

************************
Chicken Marsala
Per Plate
Printable Recipe


1 spoon (2t.) minced shallots
2T. clarified butter
6oz. chicken breast~pounded thin and dredged in flour
2oz. fresh mushrooms~sliced
1oz. Marsala wine
Brown sauce to cover
Whole butter

Saute shallots and chicken in clarified butter until
almost done~no color (translucent).

Add mushrooms and saute lightly.

Deglaze with wine~reduce.

Add brown sauce to cover~simmer for a short time
(1-2 min) and add whole butter to finish.
(approx. 1t.)

******************
Chicken 
Provençal
Printable Recipe


2 T olive oil
1 garlic clove-crushed
1 lb chicken breast-boneless
1 lb zucchini
1 t Herbs de Provence
1 t salt
1/8 t black pepper
1 c cherry tomatoes
1 can black olives
2 T lemon juice

Slice chicken breast and zucchini 1/2" thick. Heat oil
in wok or large skillet. Stir fry garlic, chicken, and
zucchini over high heat 4-5 minutes. Add herbs, salt,
and pepper-cook for 1 minute more. Add tomatoes and
olives. Cook and stir for 2 minutes-add lemon juice.

*********************************
Anne's Lime Ranch Chicken
Printable Recipe


Per pound of chicken mix 1 packet of ranch salad
dressing powder and 1/4 c lime juice. Smear on chicken
pieces and let stand several hours. Broil, grill, bake,
or saute as desired.

Tastes very close to Tostitos Hint of Lime tortilla
chips~came up with this for the family since they love those chips.

********************
Moroccan Chicken
Printable Recipe


4 Boneless chicken breasts
1 Cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger (or 1 tsp dried)
1 Clove crushed garlic
1/2 Tsp ground cardamom
1-1/2 Tsp ground cumin
Salt

1-1/2 cups low fat yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp lime or lemon juice
1 clove crushed garlic

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups couscous

Cut the chicken into 1 inch slices. Mix the yogurt and spices and place the
chicken slices in the mixture. Let the chicken marinate for 2 hours or more
in the refrigerator. (Overnight is best)

While the chicken is marinating, take 1-1/2 cups low fat yogurt and place
in a coffee filter or cheesecloth and let the liquid drain from the yogurt
for about 1 hour. Season with salt, pepper, crushed garlic and lemon
juice.(Makes a firm 'cream' cheese)

Cook the couscous according to the directions on the package.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the chicken from the yogurt and shake
off excess yogurt. Spray a little oil on the chicken pieces, place on a
baking tray and bake for about 15 - 20 minutes or until the chicken is done.

Serve chicken over couscous with yogurt sauce on the side.

************************
Orange Chicken Breasts
Printable Recipe


2 T margarine
4 boned and skinned chicken Breasts
1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c honey
1/4 c orange juice, frozen concentrate-thawed
1 T lemon juice
1 T cornstarch
1 t curry powder
Salt and pepper-to taste
6 orange slices
2 T toasted almonds

In skillet melt butter; brown chicken lightly on both sides; remove
and set aside. Mix together chicken stock, honey and orange juice
concentrate and lemon juice. Blend in cornstarch and curry powder.
Pour into skillet, bring to a boil, stir until thickened. Season to
taste with salt and pepper. Return chicken to skillet and finish
cooking for about 5 minutes. Do not overcook. Arrange chicken on
platter and garnish with orange slices and toasted almond slices.
Spoon sauce over. Serves 4.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Photos and Leftover Soup

Left out of my last post was the fact that my mother had fallen into Grandma's little white lie and believed that Grandma's brownies could only be made properly in certain pans; these are the very pans Grandma made those brownies in and then brought the pans with her when she moved here to Pa. with mom:


This is a Bake King pan - no info on that one since I forgot to ask Dad (he's in antiques).

This pan is a Crisco pan that Dad says is most likely from Depression Era through the 50's when giveaways with purchases were a big thing.

They are great pans, but way before I acquired them I was still making Grandma's brownies (the right way) in glass pans and other aluminum pans. They're very neat to have.

Leftovers? Who doesn't have them from Thanksgiving? Our favorite for leftovers from T-Day is this soup but think leftovers before you up and look for the exact ingredients. I've made this with leftover gravy thinned out instead of stock; leftover corn; leftover potatoes both mashed and whole - whatever I had on hand. It's hard to mess this one up - it's great no matter what!

Turkey Corn Chowder
Printable Recipe

4 slices bacon-diced
1/2c. celery-small dice
1/2c. onion-small dice
8c. stock-turkey or chicken
1 clove garlic
2c. peeled and diced potato
2c. chopped cooked turkey
1 can creamed corn
1/2 can whole kernel corn
1 bay leaf
1/2t. marjoram
1/2t. dill
to taste
roux~ 1/4c. flour 1/4c. oil

Saute bacon, celery, onion & garlic until translucent.
Add stock and potatoes-bring to a boil and reduce to simmer until potatoes are tender. Add corn, turkey, and seasonings. Simmer 20 min. Add roux in a thin stream-whisking constantly. Cook until thickened, remove bay leaf and serve.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Grandma's Favorites

Just before Grandma fell ill I made a batch of her famous brownies and was going to blog them. I also wanted to add to that the recipe for her favorite cookies. Life happens though, and I found myself unable to even approach the subject of Grandma without great pain.

Life goes on also and I want to share these two recipes.

Grandma's Brownies
A perfect batch of grandma's brownies.



The brownies my Grandma made are like no other I have ever had. These are truly "gooey" and absolutely sinful. Grandma knew this and even though she shared her recipe she failed to mention, on purpose, the one thing that made them so wonderful.

Grandma's Brownies
They don't get more moist than this!

I was surprised to hear my mother tell me this since Grandma was so sweet and lovable, and a true Christian woman. But, like the rest of us, Grandma had flaws and one was that she knew how much everyone loved these brownies and she knew that if they all knew how to make them, they wouldn't need her to do it. Grandma loved being needed. I guess that isn't really a flaw after all.


Grandma's Brownies
Gooey brownie love.

Grandma Sharp's Brownies
Printable Recipe

In two 8x8 baking pans (metal is preferable) melt 1 stick of margarine each. You can use butter but the texture will change.

In a medium bowl mix together 2 cups sugar and 2 T cocoa (grandma means SERVING spoon so, about 1/2 cup or slightly more). Add melted butter and 4 eggs. Blend well and add lastly 1 cup flour and 2 cups mini marshmallows.

Blend and divide equally among the already-buttered pans.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until puffy and slightly browned on top.


The amount of baking time is key--if they go too long-forget the goo--they will just be brownies and THAT is the part that my dear Grandmother always forgot to mention. She would act surprised "Why, I don't know why they got so hard!". Silly Sharpie :o)

The next is a recipe for Confetti Cookies that originally came from Juanita Searfoss, Grandma's niece. When Grandma was not feeling well, these cookies were the only thing she could tolerate. I made them innumerable times over the last 12 years for her and she never tired of them. They have never tasted exactly the same to me as they did when I was a child but then, many things are that way.
Here is the story that goes with them: http://www.cookingwithanne.com/2009/06/grandmas-confetti-cookies.html

Confetti Cookies
Confetti Cookies


These are similar to Mexican Wedding cookies.

Confetti Drops
Mrs C.L. Searfoss
Printable Recipe

1 c spry (shortening)
2 c flour
6 T sugar
1/4 c milk
1 oz confetti candy (multi-colored non-pareils)
1 t vanilla or almond extract
1/4 t salt
red food coloring
powdered sugar

Mix shortening and sugar and salt. Add red food coloring to milk so it distributes well-ebough so the dough will be a pretty pink. Add extract to milk also. Add flour alternately with milk. Add confetti and mix well so it gets throughout the dough.

Roll into 1" balls and flatten slightly on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Do not let them brown!
The original recipe says to roll them in powdered sugar while warm but I always wind up with a sticky mess if I do this so I let them cool first.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Tales of a Leaking Turkey

Yesterday went off with nary a hitch...almost.

If the things that occured in my kitchen occured in a clients kitchen, I surely would be out of business.

All was well on the kitchen-front when I peeked into the oven to check on the cornbread. I couldn't see it beneath the looming heft of my 20 lb turkey (the cornbread was on the lower rack) so I gently scooted the turkey over half an inch and the bottom of the roaster suddenly sprung a leak! (Note to self: Buy a REAL roaster for a large bird and never buy another disposable.)

I stared, mouth-agape, for a moment frantically searching my blonde brain for what to do. I needed something under there but definitely NOT the cornbread. I grabbed the cornbread pan to pull it out and immediately scraped the top of the bread across the top rack (ugh) and proceeded to find a flat but semi-deep pan. Almost every pan in the house was in use at that moment, dinner being a mere 30 minutes away. Luckily I had just finished emptying and washing a rectangular cake pan and got it under the big guy before too much of those all-too-precious juices were lost on the bottom of the oven.

Whew. After that everything went like clockwork but the sheer terror of the moment (it's a mortal sin in this household NOT to have gravy) stuck with me until I sat safely in my seat after having made sure everyone was served.

I so hope your day was wonderful; after the turkey incident we had a terrific time having a scavenger hunt and picking names for our annual Secret Santa.

Monday, November 21, 2005

One More Thing!

I don't know HOW I forgot this but, I never make a turkey without first brining it.

Here is a basic brine recipe you can try, but I really prefer just plain old salt. About 1 cup for a 20 lb turkey and overnight soaking should do it.

This recipe will give you the full out method for doing it yourself.

Have a Happy Turkey Day!

Roast Brined Turkey
Serves: 10 to 12
Printable Recipe


2/3 cup salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup black pepper, cracked
Pinch dried thyme
13 cloves
13 allspice, cracked
3 bay leaves
13 juniper berries, crushed
Water
12-14 pound turkey

Combine salt, herbs and water in a pan and bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool then over turkey in pot just large enough to hold both. If turkey is completely covered, don't worry about using all of brine. Cover with foil and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight, turning 2 or 3 times to make sure turkey is totally submerged.

Remove turkey from brine and pat dry with paper towels.

Place turkey on its side on rack in shallow roasting pan. Roast at 450 degrees 15 minutes. Turn turkey to other side and roast another 15 minutes. Turn breast-side up and roast another 15 minutes.

Reduce heat to 325 degrees and roast until meat thermometer inserted in center of thickest part of thigh registers 160 to 165 degrees, about 2 hours. Remove from oven and set aside 20 minutes before carving.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A Farewell Tea


Recently a very dear and beautiful woman named Bonnie removed her blog, Belle On Her Toes, from the web. Although I understand the need for a break from it all, I will still miss her lovely posts very much.

We both shared a love for tea and this is for her.


Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
French Tea Garden (also known as The Terrcuite Tea Set)
1910

"The muses friend, Tea, doth our fancy aid,
Repress those vapours which our head invade
And keep that place of the soul serene."

Edmund Waller



Lover's Tea (Victoria Magazine)
16 servings

1 c loose Jasmine tea
1 t dried marjoram
1 T dried lavender flowers
1/4 c dried rose petals OR
2 fresh rose petals, pesticide-free, for each cup of tea

To make dried tea mixture:
In a bowl, combine tea, lavender flowers, marjoram, and dried rose
petals.
Pour into a container with tight-fitting lid. Store in a cool, dark
place.

To serve tea:
Use 1 T of tea mixture for each cup of tea. Rinse the teapot with hot
water. Add the tea and 6 oz boiling water* for each cup of tea.
Cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain into cup to serve.
To use fresh rose petals, remove the bitter white heel from each
petal. Crush the petals slightly to release the flavor, then float on top
of each cup of tea.


~~~~~~~~~~
*"A friend of mine who grew up alongside a samovar has only one way to describe proper water for tea: A mad boil." In the same forceful way she never says rolls or toast must be hot, or very hot. They must be "hot-hot-hot!" This is pronounced as much as possible like a one-syllable sound of intense excitement, about no matter how dull a bun.
...The quaint old fiction of the kettle simmering all day on the hearth, waiting to be turned into a delicious cup of tea, is actively disturbing to anyone who cares very much whether his tea will be made from lively water instead of a liquid which is flat, exhausted, tasteless-in other words, with the hell cooked out of it....
It is safe to say that when the water boils, as it surely will, given enough heat under it, it is ready. Then, at that moment and no other, pour it into the teapot...If it cannot be used then, turn off the heat and start over again when you yourself are ready; it will harm you less to wait that it will the water to boil too long."

MFK Fisher The Art of Eating
~~~~~~~~~~


Cucumber Sandwiches with Mint Butter
Yields: 8 sandwiches

1/2 stick butter
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
8 thin slices of white bread, crusts removed
2 small cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
In a small bowl combine the butter and mint. Mix well.

Spread the mint butter on the bread slices. Lay the cucumber on 4 of the slices and top with the remaining bread to make
4 sandwiches. Slice them in half diagonally.

Spinach Cheese Tartlets

Yields: 30-32 tartlets

Pastry:
1/2 c cold butter-cut into pieces
6 T lard
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
4 to 6 T ice water

Filling:
4 eggs
1 1/2 c cottage cheese
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 t salt

For the pastry:

In a large bowl, cut the butter and lard into the flour with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles small peas. Sprinkle ice water over the mixture a tablespoon at a time and stir with a fork (or hands) until the pastry gathers into a ball. Sprinkle with a little flour, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Divide the dough into 2 portions and roll each into a circle about 1/8" thick. Cut out in rounds to fit 2 1/2" to 3" tartlet pans. Press each into a pan and prick with a fork-bake blind (covered with foil and weights such as dry beans) in a 375 degree F oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove foil and beans and put back into oven for 8-10 minutes until pastry is lightly browned and firm.

Cool tart shells.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Add the cottage cheese, onion and garlic and mix well.
In a sieve, press the water out of the spinach. Add the spinach, cheeses and salt to the egg mixture. Stir until well blended.
Fill each pastry shell with about 2 Tablespoons of filling.
Put the shells on baking sheets and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden on top. Serve hot.

Blackberry Muffin Miniatures

YIELD: About 20 small muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
6 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 20 or more miniature muffin cups measuring 1 3/4 inches across with paper baking cups.
In a medium bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set the mixture aside.
In another medium bowl lightly whisk the egg yolk. Whisk in the milk, then the butter. Quickly stir in the dry ingredients, stirring only until they are moistened. The batter will be a little lumpy. Fold in the berries. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them so that the batter is almost level with the rim.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for 1 minute. Remove the muffins from the pan and serve hot.
Repeat the baking procedure with any remaining batter. If there is not enough batter to fill all the muffm cups, put water in the empty ones during baking.


Spiced Blackberry Jam

YIELD: 1 quart

1 quart fresh blackberries, or frozen loose-pack unsweetened blackberries, thawed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Cinnamon sticks

In a heavy 4-quart saucepan, combine the berries and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often.
Stir in the sugar, lemon zest, and cinnamon, and let the mixture boil to dissolve the sugar.
Reduce the heat to medium and boil gently for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until the temperature reaches 220°F on a candy thermometer. (Subtract 2°F for each 1,000 feet above sea level.)
Remove the pot from the heat. Stir the jam with a long-handled spoon and skim off any foam that rises to the top.
Ladle the jam into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4 inch space on top. Place a piece of cinnamon stick in the jam in each jar. Seal with canning lids according to manufacturer's directions.
Cool the jars upright on a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator up to 1 month. For longer storage, process the jars in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes after sealing. (Add an additional minute of processing time for each 1,000 feet above sea level.) Coolon a rack and label. Store the jars in a cool, dry, and dark place.



Hickory Nut Butter Cakes
YIELD: 12 servings

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
Grated zest from 1 orange
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped hickory nuts, pecans, or walnuts
Orange Glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 to 6 teaspoons orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray twelve 1-cup fluted mini-tube pan cups with nonstick coating spray.
In a medium bowl combine the flour and baking powder. Stir a few times to mix well. Set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until they are light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl often. Add the orange zest and the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, alternating it with the milk. With the mixer at low speed, blend the ingredients after each addition. When all the flour and milk are incorporated into the batter, add the vanilla and mix well. Fold in the nuts. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared cups, using about 2/3 cup of batter for each.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean.
5. Set the pans on wire racks and let the cakes cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife carefully around the edges of the cakes to loosen them. Remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely on the racks.

GLAZE:
In a small bowl combine the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and enough orange juice to achieve a thin consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cakes.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Frustration Cooking

I'm having a frustrating (yes, we'll stick with that word rather than what I would really like to say) day. I never realized before that I don't eat when I'm upset, I cook.

Some write, some clean, some exercise~different catharses for different people, mine is cooking.

I woke up in a mood after having gone to sleep in a mood and as soon as I got home from the daily school drop-off I started culinary creations.

I'm in the midst of egg rolls and crab rangoon and I just whipped up a fairly tame tapenade. I really could almost care less whether I eat any or not, I just felt the need to do something besides sit and stew myself.

What is your catharsis?

Pork Egg Rolls

Printable Recipe

1 lb ground pork
1 1/2 c shredded cabbage
4 green onions-sliced
3 T vegetable oil
1 c bean sprouts-chopped
2 garlic clove-minced
2 to 3 T soy sauce
refrigerated egg roll wrappers

In a large skillet, cook pork over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.
Remove pork with a slotted spoon and set aside. In the same skillet,
stir-fry cabbage and onions in oil until crisp-tender. Add bean sprouts,
garlic, soy sauce, and reserved pork; stir fry 4 minutes longer or until liquid
has evaporated. Remove from the heat.
Position egg roll wrappers with a corner facing you. Spoon 1/3 cup
pork mixture on the bottom third of each wrapper. Fold a bottom corner over
filling; fold sides over filling toward center. Moisten top corner with
water; roll up tightly to seal. In a skillet, heat 1 inch of oil
to 375F. Fry egg rolls for 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until golden
brown. Drain on paper towels.


Crab Rangoon
Trader Vic's Recipe

1/4 lb. crab meat
1/4 lb. cream cheese
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
Dash garlic powder
1 (12 oz.) pkg. won ton wrappers
Oil
1 egg yolk, beaten

Chop up the crab meat and mix it with the cream cheese, A-1 Sauce and garlic
powder. Place 1/2 tsp. of the mixture. In the center of a won ton wrapper.
Moisten the edges with egg yolk and join the two opposite corners, making a
triangle. Twist the ends to seal. Repeat with the remaining won ton
wrappers. Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a skillet over medium heat and fry the
packets until delicately browned, about one minute per side.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

What's On Your Menu?

Thanksgiving is speeding toward us and this year we are staying home rather than going to my mother-in-laws as usual. I am delighted, of course, since I get to cook for days on end.

I asked the kids this morning what they would like (they're quite traditional) and this is the list I have:

Relish Tray
Salad
Pumpkin Bisque
Turkey
Gravy
Bread Stuffing
Potato Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Browned New Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Corn
Corn Pudding
Green Bean Casserole
Italian Zucchini
Cranberry Jelly
Rolls
Corn Bread
Pumpkin Pie
Pecan Pie
Cream Cheese Pound cake
Spiced Wafers
Ice Cream

Well, I have my work cut out for me trying to figure out a menu that will suit everyone's tastes. I'm sure I can handle it.
In the meantime, here are recipes for most of the above.

Share your menu as well!

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Pumpkin Bisque with Nutmeg and Ginger Croutons
Serves 6 - 8

Bisque:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup onion - diced
1/2 cup celery - diced
1/4 cup flour
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 cloves garlic - minced
Salt and white pepper to taste
2 cups half and half

1. Cook onion and celery in butter until translucent.
2. Add flour and whisk in to make a roux - do not brown.
3. Add stock and remaining ingredients.
4. Simmer until onions and celery are tender - approximately 30 minutes.
5. Run soup through a food mill or puree in a blender/processor until
smooth and put through a strainer.
6. Return to pot and simmer until heated through.
7. Remove from heat and immediately add half and half. Stir well.
8. Serve topped with croutons.

Nutmeg and Ginger Croutons:

4 c bread cubes
1/2 cup butter - melted
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1. Toss bread cubes with butter and sprinkle with nutmeg and ginger.
2. Bake on a cookie sheet at 450 degrees F - tossing frequently until browned and crisp. Store in an airtight container and use within one week.
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Stuffed Turkey

8 to 12 pounds 3 to 3 1/2 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 1/2 to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours
20 to 24 pounds 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours

Unstuffed Turkey
8 to 12 pounds 2 3/4 hours to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3 3/4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
20 to 24 hours 4 1/2 to 5 hours
24 to 30 pounds 5 to 5 1/4 hours

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Berks County Potato Filling

8 med. potatoes
2 c. broken bread
1 c. celery -- diced fine
1 med. onion -- diced fine
2 eggs -- beaten
1/4 lb. butter
1 1/4 c. -- or 2 c. milk -- (depending on consistency of potatoes)
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
3/4 tsp. salt or to taste
1/4 tsp. pepper

Peel potatoes, cut in pieces, cover with water and cook until soft. While
potatoes are cooking, put broken bread in a skillet with 1/2 stick butter.
Add celery & onions and cook slowly on low heat, stirring often to prevent
browning, add more butter if necessary. Drain cooked potatoes and mash. Then
add bread mixture and beaten eggs. Add milk gradually (up to 2 c.) until
mixture is the desired thickness. Beat well. (Use a mixer). Put in a greased
2 qt. casserole, dot with butter, sprinkle paprika on top. Heat in 350` oven
for 30 minutes or until lightly brown.

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Bread Stuffing

1 Cup Diced onion
1 Cup diced celery
1 stick of Oleo, margarine

Saute until onions are tender-pour this over dry bread cubes - about 1 loaf of bread - that has been dried in the oven by placing slices on a cookie roll pan and setting in the oven on very low or over night to dry and then torn into bite size pieces or you can dice to the size you want.

Add:

1 tn sage
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
Toss together.

Add canned chicken broth or liquid off giblets if you boiled them for the dressing, just until moist and begins to stay together when mixing (I use my hands). This will stuff a medium size turkey and any left over from stuffing the turkey can be placed into a greased casserole and baked the last 45 minutes of the turkey.

*********************************************
Green Bean Casserole
From: Campbell's Kitchen
Serves: 6


1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Campbell's® Cream of Mushroom Soup OR Campbell's® 98% Fat Free Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. soy sauce
dash Pepper
4 cups cooked cut green beans
1 1/3 cups French's® French Fried Onions

MIX soup, milk, soy, pepper, beans and 2/3 cup onions in 1 1/2-qt. casserole.

BAKE at 350°F. for 25 min. or until hot.

STIR and then sprinkle with remaining onions. Bake 5 min.

TIP: Use 1 bag (16 to 20 oz.) frozen green beans, 2 pkg. (9 oz. each) frozen green beans, 2 cans (about 16 oz. each) green beans or about 1 1/2 lb. fresh green beans for this recipe.

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Corn Pudding

1 can (16 oz) creamed corn
1 can (16 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
1 (8 oz) carton sour cream
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix

Grease deep casserole. Put the two cans of corn and melted butter in casserole; mix well. Add Jiffy cornbread and blend. Fold in the sour cream until well mixed. Bake, uncovered at 350 for 50 minutes or until golden brown.

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Anne's Pumpkin Pie

1 graham cracker crust
1-8oz pkg cream cheese
1 c pumpkin puree
3/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/4 c evaporated milk
1 t pumpkin pie spice

Mix together cream cheese and sugars until fluffy. Add
pumpkin and mix well. Stir in eggs until well blended.
Add in milk and spice and pour into crust. Bake at 350
for 30 min until slightly browned and set. Serve room
temp.

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LIBBY'S® Famous Pumpkin Pie

This is the traditional holiday pumpkin pie. This classic recipe has been on LIBBY'S® Pumpkin labels since 1950. This pie is easy to prepare and even easier to enjoy. Just mix, pour, bake for a delicious homemade tradition.

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY'S 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 can (12 fl. oz.) CARNATION Evaporated Milk
1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
Whipped cream (optional)

MIX sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

POUR into pie shell.

BAKE in preheated 425° F. oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F.; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.

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Dear Abby's Pecan Pie

This recipe was published by Dear Abby many times over the years in her advice column.

• 1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
• 1 cup light corn syrup
• 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
• 3 eggs, slightly beaten
• 1/3 cup butter, melted
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 heaping cup pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine corn syrup, sugar, eggs, butter, salt and vanilla; mix well. Pour into pie crust and sprinkle pecan halves over top. Bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center will comes out clean. If pie or crust appears to be getting too brown on top, cover with foil for remainder of cooking time. Allow to cool.