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.

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.

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.