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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ground Beef Grand Style

Back when our grandmothers and great-grandmothers were young wives and mothers, they cooked for their families every day, restaurants were a rarely-indulged-in luxury, and cooks didn't have to specify that they made something "from scratch," because how else would you make it anyway? Back in those days, women helped their own hamburger; they didn't go to the store to buy something in a box to do it for them. I'm not knocking Hamburger Helper--after all, don't we all rely on shortcuts from time to time? But the next time you think about reaching for that box, instead try this recipe my grandmother passed down to my mother who then passed it down to me.


What You Need
1 can refrigerator biscuits (or make your own; but at this stage of my life, refrigerator biscuits is one of those shortcuts I'm glad to take!)
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese
1 can (10 and 1/2 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. ketchup (I use a little more)
1/3 c. sliced green olives (I love olives, so I usually use more than this)
1 tsp. salt (I usually omit this because the olives add enough salt)

What You Do
Brown ground beef; drain, if necessary. Add onions, and cook a few minutes. Add all other ingredients (except biscuits), and continue cooking until heated through and mixed well. Meanwhile, bake biscuits; and when done, place them on top of casserole. Makes 5-6 servings.

A nice accompaniment to this dish is Ceci's Cucumber and Tomato Salad; that, along with some fresh cantaloupe, is what I served with this casserole tonight for our supper.

Happy helping! (Your hamburger, that is...)

The best way to serve meals is with a smile.
~ from Country Home Cooking
by Marjorie Rohrer

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Spices + Awesomeness

If you don't have mega kitchen space but love cooking and use cabinet space for...the necessities...here is something brilliant I just ran across. Mobile Foodie. 


I love how everything is so organized. You don't even need an annoying spice rack to take up space...you've got it all right there in a handy case. (my unintentional rhyme) And you won't run across an old jar of Cloves you didn't even know you had. Who needs nine lifetimes of Cloves anyway?

Bonus: It's organic. And for a good cause.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Caprese pasta salad

Today's recipe was supposed to be French tarragon pickles. My husband and I had a lot of fun brining and canning them, and I was excited about sharing the recipe. The only thing is . . . we just tasted them the other day. And these pickles are so vinegary, they're practically inedible.


Oh, well. It was fun while it lasted, and I think we'll try again some other time (with significantly less vinegar).

In the meantime, I'm not feeling much like cooking during this heat wave. So here's a recipe for a little something I whipped up the other night (with minimal cooking) that also uses the delicious, fresh garden ingredients.

Caprese pasta salad

12 oz. vegetable radiatore (use any pasta your family likes, but a spinach pasta is nice here)
1 large, ripe yellow tomato, chopped
1 large, ripe red tomato, chopped
8-12 oz. fresh mozzarella, chopped or torn
Lots of fresh basil, chopped or torn
Olive oil

Cook the pasta according to package directions.

Layer pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil on individual plates. Drizzle with olive oil and serve. Eat and stay cool!

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Potato Salad



Ok, it is potluck season, which means we pull out our best salad recipes to take.  This is about as involved as I get with a recipe.  But it is well worth it.  It is so yummy!  I try to make it in two days, so it doesn't seem so overwhelming.  Enjoy! This was from Mennonite Country Style Recipes by Esther H. Shank.

Step 1:
BASIC COOKED SALAD DRESSING
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
3/4 c. Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
Mix in top container of double boiler or you can do it in a regular size pot.

1 c. Water
1 1/2 Tbsp Vinegar
Add gradually

3 eggs, beaten lightly
Add.  Cook over boiling water, stirring constantly until thickened.  Remove from heat.

2 Tbsp Butter
Add.  Cool throughly

2 c. Miracle Whip
1/2 to 1 tsp prepared Mustard
Blend in.

Store in refrigerator.  Keeps for weeks.  Yields 1 qt.


Step 2:
POTATO SALAD
2 lb or about 6 med potatoes-Cook until tender and dice
3/4 tsp Salt-Sprinkle over warm potatoes so it soaks in.
3 to 6 Hard cooked eggs, diced
2 to 4 Tbsp chopped Onion
Add the eggs and onion
2 c. or more of Basic Cooked Dressing, the above recipe.  Add while potatoes are warm for better penetration of flavor.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies

Recently I've been a little bit appalled (is that the right word? too strong probably. maybe "saddened" is better) at the lack of hospitality we here in modern America have as part of our culture. When was the last time you were invited over to someone's home for dinner? When was the last time you opened your home to someone else? When was the last time you walked into a church service on Sunday morning, not knowing where you were going to be eating lunch, and walked out with an impromptu invitation to someone's home? When was the last time you ran into an old friend; and instead of vaguely saying, "We should get together sometime!" you said, "Can you come over this Friday evening? Around 6:30 or 7:00? Great!"


I understand that people are busy, but we all have to eat, right? I understand that there are various seasons of life; and sometimes at challenging times, the thought of hosting anyone is overwhelming. I've been there. I understand that sometimes, we feel like our homes are so messy that we don't want to open the door to anyone for fear of looking like a failure or being judged. For that, I say, check out FlyLady and, for your own sake, take some baby steps to regain control of your house and your life. I understand that fixing a whole dinner for guests can be time-consuming and expensive and scary, especially if you're new to the realm of hospitality. Here's my solution for that: call up some friends or your Aunt Mary & Uncle Joe or your next-door neighbors, and ask if they can come over around 7:15 for coffee (iced tea, if it's hot) and dessert. (That's it. Just dessert and coffee. No dinner. Make things easy on yourself.) Then make this...
Cherry Cheesecake Brownies are a wonderful way to bless your family or guests with a delicious dessert without a lot of time or effort. Here's how:

What You Need
1 box brownie mix (and ingredients called for by the mix)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling

What You Do
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package. Pour into a 9 x 13 greased baking pan. Bake 15 minutes. Beat vanilla, egg, milk, and cream cheese in bowl until very smooth. Pour over baked brownie layer. Return to oven and bake until topping is set, about 25 minutes. Let cool. Spread with pie filling. Refrigerate for about 2 hours (or more) before serving. Cut into squares. Store any leftovers in refrigerator.

This recipe is from The Fine Art of Hospitality Handbook, edited by Sheila Jones and Betty Dyson.

See? You can do this! Happy hosting! :)

********

Hospitality seeks to provide a safe place.
Entertainment seeks to provide a
showplace.

Hospitality strives to
serve.
Entertaining strives to
impress.

Hospitality puts people before things.
Entertaining elevates things above people.

Hospitality claims that
what's mine is yours.
Entertaining claims that
everything is mine and you should admire it and certainly not touch it.

Hospitality
takes no thought for reward or reciprocation.
Entertaining
expects praise and a return invitation.

Hospitality is about
welcome, inclusion, and acceptance.
Entertaining is about
exclusiveness and pride.

Hospitality
frees us to enjoy one another and grow in the Lord.
Entertaining
enslaves us to personal and cultural expectation.

Hospitality specifically seeks out those in need of food, shelter, company, or a listening ear.
Entertaining seeks out those we think can help us in some way.

Hospitality is an act of obedience and stewardship.
Entertaining is essentially a self-serving occupation.

~ from Finding Your Purpose as a Mom
by Donna Otto

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sesame Chicken Stir-Fry


I got this from the $5 dinner website.  This website has had some wonderful recipes for very little money, that is if you are a couponer.  Which I am learning the art of and doing better at grocery shopping.  We thought this was VERY GOOD!  I think as a family we all agreed that it would taste better with rice.  Which is something we always have on hand.  The rice noodles were a nice change.  You never know how you will like something unless you try it the way it is and then make it to your tastes. 

Ingredients
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 package Thai Kitchen Sesame Rice Noodles
1 package frozen stir-fry vegetable
*Package included sesame oil, rice noodles and seasoning. If I were to make this without the package, I would have use 1 Tbsp sesame or peanut oil, 2 Tbsp sesames, 2 Tbsp chopped peanuts, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp each of garlic powder, onion powder and salt and pepper to taste, in place of the seasonings that came with the package. 
Directions
1. Follow the directions on the box to cook the rice noodles in a large skillet or wok, set aside once cooked.
2. In the same large skillet or wok, stirfry the frozen vegetables, the cooked chicken and the seasonings in some oil.  Add in the cooked rice noodles and stirfry for 3-4 more minutes.
3. Serve Sesame Chicken Stir-fry.

I have a hard time finding the Thai Kitchen Sesame Rice Noodles in my grocery store.  So I just get the regular kind.  I did use the recipe that she had suggested for my noodles and turned out great.  I did add a little more Sesame Oil b/c I did not have any peanuts or sesames.  It seasoned the chicken very nicely.  We then added a little more Low Sodium soy sauce.  Over all this is a dish that I will be making again.  This is a print out and goes in the recipe box.  Can you tell we enjoy Chinese food?  We have to, seeing as we have a cute little daughter from China.  :-)

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chipotle chicken salad tacos

Rick Bayless is a genius. At least, that's what we think in our house. He has made great strides in introducing the U.S. to really authentic Mexican food, and he's also been a prominent advocate of the locavore movement in Chicago and throughout the country.

But as much as he teaches traditional techniques and dishes, he puts fresh, contemporary twists on these same dishes.

Like chipotle chicken salad tacos.

Have you ever had tacos filled with cabbage? I hadn't, before I tried this recipe. And I certainly wouldn't have thought of combining cabbage and carrots with a smoky chipotle balsamic vinaigrette.

But . . . wow! It's amazing. Taste it for yourself with some local carrots and cabbage.

Chipotle chicken salad tacos

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, finely chopped
salt to taste
1/2 small head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 small candy onion (or red onion)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken (I cooked mine in the crockpot last week and froze the chopped meat)
1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into cubes
1/3 cup coarsely grated pecorino romano cheese (or queso a├▒ejo or Parmesan)
12 to 16 warm, fresh corn tortillas (we made our own with Maseca!)

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, and chipotles. Season generously with salt. Add the cabbage, carrot, chicken, onion, and cilantro and toss. Let stand for 15 minutes. (It's best eaten the same day, but you can refrigerate it for a few hours before dinner if that works better with your schedule.)

When you're ready to serve, put the avocado, cheese, and salad on the table with tortillas and let everyone assemble their own chicken salad tacos.

From Mexico One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless, page 114

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cucumber & Tomato Salad



My family had the opportunity to travel around the world when I was younger.  When we were in Switzerland visiting some friends, an older couple, she made this dish for us.  At that point I was going into 4th grade and didn't care much for the onions, but ate everything else.  Now that I am older, I am enjoying and eating the onions in this dish.  :-)  My mom always told me that when we get older we like more foods than we do when we are younger.  It is true!  Yet I can't bring myself to like sauerkraut, lima beans, or sweet potatoes.  Maybe when I am 60!  It is one that taste better the longer everything is together.  So make it ahead if you are having it for dinner or taking it to a potluck!  And for those of you that are growing gardens, like we are, you will have all these things on hand. 

3 small Cucumbers
3 small Tomatoes
1 small Onion
1 tsp Salt
Dash of Pepper
1/2 tsp Garlic Salt
3 or 4 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
3 or 4 Tbsp White Vinegar
2 Tbsp Sugar
Some Parsley
Mix all these ingredients together.  And add seasonings to your taste.

Note: You don't want to use Olive Oil for this recipe.  It doesn't have the flavor that it does with vegetable Oil.  I tried it a while back and the flavor just wasn't there.  Also, White Vinegar is better than the apple cider vinegar, again because of taste.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chicken Korma

I am a creature of habit, and one of the areas in which this is visible is my ordering habits in restaurants. When I find something I like, I stick with it. After all, wouldn't it be a shame to launch out and try something new and not like it, when I could have ordered what I know I like and been perfectly content? :)


Because of my habit of ordering what I know I like, Chicken Korma is what I ALWAYS get when we go to a certain Indian restaurant in our town; but we don't go there very often so I decided to look for a Chicken Korma recipe to make at home. I found one on Food Network, and I'll definitely be making this again! That ol' creature-of-habit thing is cropping up again. :)

What You Need
4 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. julienned ginger
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 pound chicken, cooked
1 c. water
1 & 1/2 tsp. garam masala, or to taste
1/4 pint heavy cream
2 tsp. finely chopped coriander

What You Do
Heat oil in large deep frying pan, adding chopped onions, and fry for 4-5 minutes on a medium heat until the onions are slightly brown. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a further 1-2 minutes. Add the salt, turmeric, and ground cumin.

Turn up the heat and further cook for another minute, then add the chicken. It is very crucial that spices are mixed within the pan at this point and stirred to ensure that the chicken cooks with texture and flavor. Add water after stirring the chicken into the spices. Turn down the heat slightly and stir in the garam masala and cream. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with green coriander.

* I didn't follow the recipe exactly. For one thing, I used ground ginger, because that's what I had on hand. For another thing, I didn't cook the chicken first, but just cubed the raw chicken and cooked it in the spices. Obviously it took a little longer that way, but otherwise, it worked out fine. I also omitted the coriander because I didn't have any. I served this over my favorite rice: jasmine rice.

Without rice, even the cleverest housewife cannot cook.
~ Chinese proverb

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