Monday, December 3, 2012

Grandma DiPietro's Italian Wedding Soup

One of my daughter's boyfriends said this looked like "Buckeye Lake" and not very appealing, but then he tasted some and liked it. That is usually what happens with this soup.

The first time I ever had Italian Wedding Soup was Christmas of 1983 when Bob and I went up to his mom's house for Christmas. She had made it and so did her mother (grandma Di Pietro) and his aunt Carol and uncle Diamond Torres. Diamond is half Mexican and half Italian and enjoys food from both sides of his family tree, and so we had Wedding Soup everywhere we went!
I thought the soup was quite disgusting. But then again, I also thought the pizzelles were quite disgusting, as well as the Easter Bread and Shodone the following Easter! It took awhile for my taste buds to get used to real Italian specialties since I am not of Italian heritage and these foods were never part of my growing up. I had to learn to love many of these foods and I have.
My mother-in-law learned to make this soup from her mother. No one ever measured out the ingredients but just eye-balled the proportions. That is how I now make it, too. And that is why the ingredients listed are not exact measurements. The meatballs are close, but honestly, if you want to make a smaller amount, cut down on the meat and the ingredients. My mother-in-law Judy, had to tell me she wasn't sure of the amount of bread crumbs, so I am assuming it is about 1-3 cups, depending on how much meat you use.. She says she can tell when she is mixing the meat if it feels like it needs more crumbs or not.
Judy almost always makes this soup in stages and freezes the food for when she wants to make the soup, which is what I will do, too, so I can make this soup for Christmas without all the work at one time. I will make the meatballs one day and freeze them, then make the endive and chicken on other days and freeze them. On Christmas Day I will pull it all out of the freezer and assemble it to cook so I will have it all ready to throw together. I will make my bread ahead of time and freeze it, too. Makes it so much easier when you are busy on Christmas Day making other foods.
My daughter Lisa had to have Italian Wedding  Soup for her wedding day as part of the food we served the guests. We sent Judy the money to buy the foods and she made it all up and froze it so she could put it together the day of the wedding. Lisa not only had to have grandma's soup, but grandma had to make it. It was quite a hit with most of our guests that day. To save on time, Judy bought the meatballs, but I won't do this as I don't like store-bought meatballs as they are made with soy and other questionable and bad for you ingredients. I'd rather Judy had made the meatballs, but since she had so graciously agreed to make the soup, I was not going to complain. It was still delicious!
I am not Italian, so you don't have to be Italian to enjoy this soup, either. My husband was raised in an Italian home where Italian foods were served regularly, and so his heritage was preserved in food. I have made sure I have passed this legacy on to our kids.
When you go to restaurants, they make their soup with spinach. Spinach is not nearly as good as the endive and so I would not suggest that you use spinach unless you truly cannot find the endive in the area where you live. The endive will seem like a lot, but then it cooks down to nothing, just like spinach and other greens do.
This soup is good any time of the year, but it is traditionally served at weddings and the major holidays. With Christmas fast approaching, I thought this would be the perfect time to post this. I hope that this soup becomes a staple for your holidays or other special times in your life.

Grandma Di Pietro's Italian Wedding Soup
                                Preheat oven to 350 degrees
For the meatballs:
2-3 pounds ground chuck*
2 eggs*
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
About 2-3 cups seasoned bread crumbs*
Combine all and form into balls the size of large marbles. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven. Either set aside to add to soup or allow to cool so these can be frozen for later for when you want to assemble the soup.

Making the Endive:
Buy two large bunches of endive. Fill sink with cold water and swish greens in water to clean. Rinse well. Cut off stems. Chop endive into smaller pieces.
Bring a very large stock pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tsp of salt to the water. When at a full boil, add some endive. It will begin to cook down, then add some more, pushing down with a wooden spoon. Once all the endive is in the pot, cook for about 45-60 minutes until endive is cooked down and soft. Drain in a colander. Allow the endive to drain. Take your wooden spoon and press water from endive. Set aside if adding to soup, but if making for future soup making, squeeze excess water out and put into freezer bags. Label and freeze once cooled.

Making the Chicken:
We use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but you can use a whole chicken or chicken with the skin on it. You can poach the chicken in water, but I prefer to bake mine in the oven. If you poach the chicken, reserve the water broth for the soup.
Buy 3-5 chicken breasts. Wash and trim some of the excess fat off of chicken. Place on a cooking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes till done. If using bone-in chicken, you will have to adjust time. If need be, check for doneness with a meat thermometer.
Allow meat to cool some so you can handle if it is skin on meat. Remove skin, cut chicken off of bones, then cut into bite-size pieces. You can shred the chicken, but it is better when cut into bite-size pieces. If boneless, skinless chicken, just cut into bite-sized pieces.
Either set aside to add to soup or cool and add to freezer bags to freeze for future use.

Making the soup:
If you poached the chicken, take the strained broth and add it back to the pan. Add additional broth (store-bought) to make the amount that you want, usually a gallon or so of broth. You can add finely shredded carrots or very thinly sliced carrots and very thinly slices celery, if desired. Salt and pepper the broth to your liking. Mince two garlic cloves and add to the broth for added flavor. Allow the broth to come to a boil and allow to cook a few minutes to cook the vegetables, if not using Ditalini pasta. Otherwise, add the Ditalini now and allow to cook with the vegetables.
If you are using baked chicken, add a gallon of chicken broth to a large stock pot. Bring to a boil. Add any vegetables and the garlic as you bring to a boil. If you are using Ditalini noodles, add them with the vegetables so they can cook according to package directions.
When the noodles are cooked, add the meatballs, chicken, and endive. Stir well to incorporate and heat up to near boiling again. Add some dried parsley for color and flavor, if desired.

Serve the soup in bowls. Use the Cheese Bread (previous post) in the soup~5-6 pieces. Sprinkle Romano or Parmesan cheese in your soup. Enjoy!!!

*Make sure your ground beef and chicken are not full of hormones and antibiotics.
*Farm fresh eggs are best.
*Try to find a high-fructose corn syrup-free bread crumbs if you don't make your own.
*This really is easier to make if made in parts, frozen, then put together as it doesn't seem like so       
  much work when you do it this way.

Grandma DiPietro's Cheese Bread

Cheese Bread out of the oven on top, and cut into squares on bottom.

I have never ever seen a recipe like this anywhere, not in a cook book nor on the web. Bob's grandma had gotten this recipe from a neighbor back in the 1940's and it quickly became a tradition on Bob's DiPietro side of the family. Italian Wedding Soup is made for Christmas and Easter, and this bread is a must for the soup, at least as far as most of the family is concerned, including our kids.
This bread is not good by itself. It is dry, desert dry, eggy, and it does not taste very good alone, but in soup it sops up broth and flavor and adds an extra oomph.
This bread looks like little spongy croutons, though they are not hard. It is easily made ahead and frozen for when the soup is ready for the holidays. And though this recipe makes a large amount, we never have any leftover as the adults and kids alike gobble it up in their soup.
If you make Wedding Soup then this bread is a must.

Grandma DiPietro's Cheese Bread
                               Preheat oven to 350 degrees
8 eggs*
1/3 cup oil*
1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 tsp real sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
Pepper, to taste
2 Tbls parsley, dried
1 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, or a combination

Grease a 15" x  10" x 1" jelly roll pan; set aside.
Beat eggs, add oil; beat, then flour, salt, baking powder, pepper, parsley; beat, then fold in cheese till mixed well.
Pour into prepared pan, spreading evenly, then bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. The top will turn a bit tan. Let cool, then cut into 1" cubes. Makes a lot. Use for Italian Wedding Soup.

*Farm eggs are best
*Use olive oil.


Buttery Rich White Cake


Gwen and the kids came home for Thanksgiving and that Saturday was Gunner's birthday. He was going to be seven years old, and I asked him if he wanted cupcakes for his birthday (Yes!) and what kind of cake did he want? He wanted a white cake with chocolate frosting. I found this cake recipe on line and made it. It is rich, buttery and moist. It was also extremely easy to make. There were thirteen of us, but within a couple of hours all the cakes were gone! The kids loved them, as did the adults. This is not a true white cake as I did not only use egg whites, but you could do this if a truly white cake is important on your list of things to have, but Gunner never noticed that these were not white like the boxed cake mixes, he just ate his and enjoyed every bite. Which is what we all did. I just made a basic homemade chocolate frosting with butter, powdered sugar, cocoa, and vanilla. Riley and Harley licked the bowl and beaters clean on both the cake batter and the frosting, That's what grandmas are for, spoiling their grandkids by letting them lick things clean.
Buttery Rich White Cake
                        Preheat oven to 325 degrees
1 3/4 cups cake flour*
1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tbls baking powder
3/4 tsp real sea salt
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature*
4 eggs*
1 cup milk*
1 tsp vanilla*
Frosting of your choice

Grease and flour a 10" x 15" pan, or three 9" or 8" pans, or line 30 -36 cupcake tins with paper liners, set aside. If making cupcakes, spray the outer pan as the cake can cook up over sides as in picture. which is what mine did as I got them a tad bit too full. This makes sure they come off easily.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a whisk, stir till well  combined.
Using an electric mixer on slow, add butter and coat the butter well with the flour, scraping sides.
Add eggs, one at a time, and mix well.
Slowly add milk and vanilla, scraping sides as you beat. Beat for 2 minutes.
Pour into prepared pans. If using cupcake pans, fill 2/3 full.
Bake at 325 degrees for:
10" x 15" bake for 30-40 minutes, testing at 30 minutes.
9" or 8" pans bake for 20-25 minutes.
Cup cake pans bake for 17-20 minutes.
Test with a toothpick to make sure cake is done.

*I bought a cake flour, but you can make your own by using flour and corn starch.
*Use only real butter. Spreads don't have enough fat in them to work properly.
*If you want a truly white cake, use only egg whites and add an extra egg or two to make up the
  difference. I used eggs from a farm which have orange-yellow yolks, so my cake came out more
  yellowish than white.
*Whole milk gives you a richer and deeper taste.
*You can add the tsp of vanilla and also a tsp of almond extract for more flavor.

Best Way to Cook Long Grain Rice

Don't ask me why, but I just cannot cook rice properly on the stove top. I don't know if I get impatient and lift the lid too often, or if I just keep the fire too high or low, but my rice has never come out very stellar whenever I've tried to cook it on the stove. I must not be the only one with this problem or there would not be rice cookers and steamers on the market.
Cooking the rice in the oven as described below always gives me lovely results. It can cook away without me having to check on it, with no worries, and it does not take up valuable stove top space.
I have added vegetables to the rice, but they seem to overcook when placed in at the beginning. I've put them in about half way through with better results. I know, you aren't supposed to disturb rice once it is cooking, but for flavor-ful vegetables, it is the only way.
If you have problems cooking rice, or if you are just looking for an easier way, try this method and see if it isn't the easiest and most care-free way you've ever used. I know it works well for me.

Best Way to Cook Long Grain Rice
                                     Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 cup long grain rice*
1/2 tsp real sea salt
1 1/4 cups boiling water*

Place rice and salt in an oven-proof 1 1/2 quart baking dish.
Stir in boiling water.
Cover with lid or heavy foil.
Bake 30-35 minutes, till water is absorbed.
Remove from oven, then allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Gently stir. Recover loosely with lid or foil till ready to use.


*For brown rice you might want to cook longer. I don't like my brown rice
  crunchy and find I must add more water or broth and cook about an hour.
*You can replace chicken or beef broth for the water for a different taste.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Lazarus' Ham Potato Salad

I can remember what a treat is was when my grandma took Kym and I downtown Columbus to get our hair cut, if needed, do a bit of shopping, and then stop at the Colonial Room in Lazarus for lunch. I can also remember going with aunt Pam and the two oldest boys.
Lazarus was always willing to share many of its recipes with readers in the Food Section of the Dispatch, besides publishing their own cook books which they sold in their stores.
No, it isn't summer anymore, but potato salad can be enjoyed anytime of the year. This is a nice basic recipe with the addition of meat that adds a heartiness to the salad. It is also a great way to use up some leftover ham from the upcoming holidays.
And it is a reminder of a wonderful place that we kids used to love to go visit whenever we took the bus downtown with our grandma.

Lazarus' Ham Potato Salad

5 cups diced potatoes*
2 1/2 cups diced ham
2 1/2 cups diced celery
3 hard-boiled eggs, diced*
2 cups mayonnaise*
2 Tbls Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp black pepper

Cook potatoes till fork tender; drain and cool. Transfer to a large bowl once cooled.
Add ham, celery and eggs to the potatoes and toss.
In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, and pepper together, then add to the potatoes and blend well to coat. Let chill for a couple of hours before serving. Makes about 12 servings.

*Red potatoes work best. You can choose to peel or not peel red potatoes for added color and
*Try making your own mayonnaise for a homemade taste.
*Farm-fresh eggs are best.


Lori's Yellow Cake With Chocolate Frosting


Sometimes you just want a nice dessert. This is that kind of dessert. A rich yellow cake with a creamy chocolate frosting. I have also used this cake recipe for the basis of my grandma's Pineapple Upside Down Cake and it turns out wonderful. In my quest to move away from highly-processed foods and finding quality homemade equivalents, I think you will like this just as well, if not better, than any store-bought cake mix. Boxed cake mixes taste terribly metallic to me. This is a simple recipe that you can whip up in no time. This is a moist and delicious cake.
It could also be made into cup cakes, a layer cake, or any form of pan you'd want, just remember to adjust the time it takes to bake.
And of course, you can use any frosting you'd like on this cake, it is just that chocolate pairs so well with a yellow cake! But a vanilla or cream cheese frosting would be just as good. I will leave that choice up to you. Enjoy!

Lori's Yellow Cake With Chocolate Frosting
                                          Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2 1/4 cups sifted unbleached flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp real sea salt
1 1/4 cups milk
olive oil
1 stick (1/2 cup) real butter, softened
1 Tbls vanilla
3 large eggs*
Frosting recipe, follows

Cut wax paper to fit bottoms of 3 9"x1 1/2" round or square pans. Spray pans with cooking spray or use palm shortening. Spray or grease the paper; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.; set aside.
In a 2 cup measuring cup, add milk, then add enough olive oil to make 1 1/3 cups.
Add milk/oil, butter, and vanilla to flour and blend well. With an electric beater, beat on medium speed for two minutes, scraping sides occasionally.
Add eggs and beat an additional two minutes, scraping sides.
Pour into prepared pans and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until cake tests done with a toothpick by coming out clean.
Cool in pans for 15 minutes; remove from pans, remove paper and cool completely. Frost as desired.

Chocolate Frosting

3 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 stick real butter, softened
3 - 4 tablespoons heavy cream or milk 
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift sugar and cocoa together into a large bowl. In another bowl combine 1 cup of sugar mixture with butter and 1 tablespoon cream, beating until smooth. Add another cup of sugar and another tablespoon of cream, beating well. Continue until all ingredients are combined and frosting is fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Spread on cake as desired.

*Farm fresh eggs are best.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Aunt Ellen Trueax's Tuna Potato Casserole

I believe this is one of the first recipes that Ellen sent to me in a letter. At the time, I occasionally made a tuna noodle casserole, but not very often. Over the years I have stopped eating tuna for two reasons: 1) The mercury content of canned tuna, and 2) my taste buds changed and I just don't like it anymore. I do not eat seafood of any kind.
This is an easy recipe for those of you who do enjoy tuna once in awhile, and who are looking for a new way to serve it. I do know that all the recipes that Aunt Ellen sent to me were ones she and Dick enjoyed eating. And I do so appreciate that Ellen took the time to hand write out recipes on recipe cards for me to enjoy with my family. They are now the only heirloom I have of hers.

Aunt Ellen Trueax's Tuna Potato Casserole
                                                  Preheat oven to 375 degrees
1 can (7 oz) tuna*
3 medium potatoes
1 medium onion, diced
1 can (10 3/4 oz) mushroom soup, undiluted*
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp real butter

Drain tuna well and flake; set aside.
Slice potatoes very thin and arrange potatoes, tuna, onion alternately in a well-greased 1 1/2
quart  casserole dish, beginning and ending with potatoes.
Blend soup and milk, pour over casserole.
Bake at 375 for 1 hour.

*Tuna no longer comes in 7 oz cans, but in 6 oz cans.
*You can use homemade soup, but omit 1/2 cup milk if you do.

Aunt Ellen Trueax's Dried Beef Casserole

I was never sure that this was something that Bob would eat, though I do think some of the kids would have possibly liked this. I have a similar recipe I used to make occasionally that used corned beef in a can, uncooked noodles, and cream of chicken soup. I will post that recipe at a later date.

Aunt Ellen Trueax's Dried Beef Casserole
                                                  Preheat oven 350 degrees
1 cup macaroni, uncooked
1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of mushroom soup, undiluted*
1/2 cup milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese*
3 Tbls chopped onion
4-5 oz dried beef, rinsed and cut into small pieces*
2 boiled eggs, peeled and diced

Cook macaroni in salted water till done.
Blend together soup and milk, then mix into macaroni.
Stir in other ingredients and blend well.
Pour into a lightly greased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.
Cook at 350 till hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Let sit 5 minutes before serving.
Serves 4-6.

*You could make your own mushroom soup and use without added milk.
*Any cheese can be used.
*Dried beef comes in pouches or a jar. If you use the dried beef from
  refrigerated case, then you would not have to rinse.

Aunt Ellen Trueax's Hamburger Casserole

My home-canned stewed tomatoes
I never made this as I knew it was not something Bob would have eaten as he is not a huge fan of casseroles, but I also am not a fan of tomato soup from cans. However, this would be a good and easy recipe for those of you who do like to make items from tomato soup. I have had a very similar recipe made with tomato sauce and it was quite good.
I do know this is a recipe that Ellen made once in awhile for her and Dick to enjoy. On the top of the recipe card she had written 'Very good', and so I must believe she was right!

Aunt Ellen Trueax's Hamburger Casserole
                                                      Preheat oven 350 degrees
2 large potatoes, sliced thin
2-3 carrots, sliced thin
1 cup peas (frozen or fresh)
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef, cooked and drained
1/4 cup ketchup
1 (10 3/4 oz) can tomato soup*
1 soup can water

Place layers of vegetables in order given into a large casserole pan.
Place cooked ground beef over top.
Mix ketchup, soup, and water together, then pour over top of casserole.
Bake at 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes, till vegetables are soft and casserole is hot and bubbly.
Do not allow to go dry; add more water, if needed.

*You can use tomato sauce instead of soup.
*You could also add a can of diced tomatoes, such as home-canned stewed tomatoes to casserole.
*You could also add mushrooms, green pepper, and some garlic to this.


Aunt Ellen Trueax's Tropical Dream Cake

At the risk of sounding prudish, I didn't really like the name of this recipe as my aunt had it written out on her card (which I still have). I've had a couple of other recipes that were way different from this one, but which had the same moniker, and so I changed the name of the recipe to something more innocuous. In searching for a similar recipe, I came across an almost identical recipe from Kraft, the only difference was the flavor of the pudding mix and there were no bananas. I will add the alteration in the tips section below, otherwise, it is almost the same recipe. The Kraft recipe name was almost identical to what I'd dubbed this recipe! I was not trying to infringe, but the name just seemed right.
This cake is delicious and refreshing. It is also very rich! I will most definitely have to make it for the next time I get together with my in-laws as I think they would love this. My mother-in-law would love this for certain, but since she is celiac she won't be able to eat any, which is a shame.
This has a very tropical and creamy texture that is sure to please.

Aunt Ellen Trueax's Tropical Dream Cake

1 pkg. yellow cake mix with pudding in the mix*
1 cup sugar
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
1 large box instant vanilla pudding mix*
3-4 bananas*
1 (8oz) Cool Whip, thawed*
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Bake according to directions on box in a 13"x9" pan.
While cake is baking, combine sugar and pineapple in a 2 quart pan; bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Pour hot mixture over cake; cool completely.
Prepare pudding mix as directed on box, then pour evenly over cooled cake.
Slice bananas lengthwise and lay on pudding mix.
Cover top with Cool Whip, the sprinkle on coconut and then pecans.
Chill overnight before serving.
Makes 24 servings.
Refrigerate any leftovers.

*You can make your own yellow cake from scratch, just make sure it is a moist cake.
*You can substitute lemon flavor for the vanilla.
*The Kraft recipe uses the small size box of pudding mix~so make your choice.
*You can also make your own pudding, if so desired, but make ahead of time so it will be cooled.
*To help keep bananas from browning, dip bananas in some lemon juice or pineapple juice after
*I do not know of a healthier version of whipped topping, at this time.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Aunt Ellen Trueax's Peanut Butter Bread

I know I should have made this for the kids when they were small, but I am not a huge fan of peanut butter as some are, but just the same, I plan to make this for the holidays this year and see what we've been missing! Maybe I will be sorry I hadn't made this sooner.

Aunt Ellen Trueax's Peanut Butter Bread
                                                  oven 350 degrees
2 cups unbleached flour*
2 tsp baking powder*
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten

Combine flour, baking powder and sugar. Cut in peanut butter with a fork. Add beaten egg and milk. Stir to moisten. Pour into a well-greased 9"x5"x3" loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes, till toothpick comes out clean. Let sit in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto cooling rack. Turn right side up and cool completely. Once cooled, wrap tight and allow to sit 8 hours or overnight before slicing. You can serve this will your favorite jam and milk for a snack.

*You can use half unbleached flour and half whole wheat flour.
*Use an aluminum-free baking powder.


Aunt Ellen Trueax's Pineapple Nut Bread


I forgot I had some of Aunt Ellen's recipes she'd sent me over the years or I would have added these before mine. Ellen was married to grandma Matheson's brother, Dick. Ellen was from near Dayton, Ohio, and she and Dick lived in/around Dayton for years before retiring to Seminole, Florida. Dick died in July 1997, and Ellen died last year (2011).
Dick had been in WWII, enjoyed doing crafts, and they were childless, by choice. Other than this, I don't know what either one did for a living, where they attended church, though I do believe I remember Ellen telling me she went to a Methodist church, or much else about who they were. I know my dad could fill in many blanks, if I but ask him, and perhaps I will and then add those memories to some other recipes I will post. I might have 5-6 recipes she sent me over the years.
I never met either one until one day in 1992 when grandpa called me up and told me they were at his house, and would I like to come over to meet them. I loaded kids in the truck and drove the 20 minutes from the farmhouse to grandpa's and got to meet some very nice people! Cousin Mike was also there as he'd come over when grandpa had called him.
Though they were my great aunt and uncle, I barely knew either one. After I got to meet them, I kept in contact with Ellen by mail a few times per year. She'd write and sometimes send a recipe or two. In February of 1997, dad, Kym, Alice and I traveled to Florida to see my other brother and sister. My brother lived in Largo at the time, which is a suburb of Tampa. Dick and Ellen being in Seminole, were also in a suburb of Tampa, and so we stopped over to visit with them. What sweet and kind people they were! I am so glad I got to know them, though ever so briefly
Though Ellen sent me a few recipes over the years, this is the only one I've tried, and it's been quite a few years since I made it. I remember it was moist, but perhaps not something that appealed to everyone. I am not saying this is bad, but I think you must really like pineapple. Again, it's been so many years ago since I've tried this that my memory is failing me on it.
I think perhaps I will make some of this for Christmas this year in honor of my aunt Ellen. It will make nice gifts, something a little out of the ordinary, and I will think about her as I make it.

Aunt Ellen Trueax's Pineapple Nut Bread

2 cups unbleached flour*
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, well-beaten
1 cup milk*
1/3 cup real butter, melted and cooled some
1 cup (8 oz can) undrained crushed pineapple in juice
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional*
                                                                      Oven 350 degrees
Sift flour, baking powder, and sugar; set aside.
Mix eggs with milk, then add cooled butter.
Add pineapple and nuts to egg mixture, then stir in flour mixture, stirring just enough to moisten.
Pour into a well-greased 9"x5" loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or till tests clean with a
toothpick. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan, invert onto wire rack and put right side up, then allow to cool completely. Wrap well and let sit to ripen for 8 hours or overnight before slicing. Best if cut when 1-2 days old. This will freeze well for up to 2 months. Makes 1 loaf.

The following would be delicious on this bread or other quick breads! I did not get this from Ellen, but came across this years ago and had it on zucchini bread, which was good! You can sub the ginger out with a bit of cinnamon or nutmeg, if you don't like ginger.

Pineapple cream cheese:

4 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
4 oz. crushed pineapple in juice
1 tsp. dried ginger

Combine all ingredients, serve with pineapple bread or other quick breads. Keep any leftovers in the refrigerator. Pull out about 30 minutes before you want to use in order to allow the cheese to warm some for a better flavor.

*You could use half unbleached flour and half whole wheat flour.
*I've often thought to use pineapple juice instead of milk.
*You can use walnuts, pecans, or macadamia nuts, which would give this a more Hawaiian feel.
*You could add a 1/2 cup of flaked coconut to this bread for a more tropical taste.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dutch Oven Bean Dinner


I got this recipe from a woman whom I used to go to church with back in the 1980's and 90's. She used to bring this to our church suppers and she also had it printed in one of our church cook books.
This is really good meal to make to take for pot lucks, tail-gating parties, or just to make and eat on a cool day. I've had other versions of this dish, but this one is the best I've ever had, which I think is due to the addition of some liquid smoke flavoring that elevates the taste above the others. Other recipes I've had are bland-tasting and do not measure up to the taste of this one. This recipe can be eaten 'as is' as a side dish, or used over rice.
Many people like it because it uses such a small amount of meat. I once sent this recipe in to a magazine where it was published, and the responses I recieved were very favorable. Wish I could remember which magazine, but since it was over 15 years ago, I just can't remember. I've submitted recipes to many places such as the local newspaper for their Food Section, in recipe contests, and to magazines, so that is why I can't remember which one, though I know it was a magazine. Regardless, this is a good and easy recipe to make for any occasion. A side of my homemade Yankee Cornbread would also help to round this out.
This recipe is an older one and so the sizes of the cans are a tad bigger than what you will find today as the manufacturers have made their products smaller, but you can use 14-15 oz cans in their place.

Dutch Oven Bean Dinner

1 pound ground beef*
3/4 lb bacon, cut in small pieces
1 cup onion, chopped
1 (16 oz) kidney beans, drained
1 (16 oz) Lima or Butter beans, drained
4 (16 oz) cans pork n' beans
1 cup ketchup*
1/4 cup brown sugar*
3 Tbls. white vinegar
1 Tbls. Liquid smoke
Real Sea Salt and pepper, to taste

Brown ground beef in skillet, drain and put in crock pot.
Brown bacon and onions; drain.
Add bacons, onions, and all remaining ingredients to crock pot.
Stir together well.
Cover and cook on low for 4-9 hours.
Great over rice.

*Grass-fed beef is best.
*Make sure your ketchup os high fructose corn syrup-free.
*Organic brown sugar would be best.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lori's Peanut Butter Cookies


I don't remember where I got this recipe, though I do believe I got it and revised it some from an old neighbor/friend of mine named Stella. This would have been back in the mid-1980's. I've had a lot of peanut butter cookies, but I really like these. I have made these most every year for Christmas as my husband and kids love these. I've made several thousand of these over the years and froze them in the freezer for gift giving at Christmas, but they are good anytime of the year and would be a nice dessert from home to send to school with your kids. No preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, and no trans-fat when made with palm shortening. I know sugary treats are not exactly the highest nutrition-wise, but everyone indulges occasionally, and these are worth an occasional indulgence. Get the kids involved and make it a baking day at your house!
When I bake these again I will take a picture, but till then.....

Lori's Peanut Butter Cookies
                                                       Preheat oven to 350 degrees

3/4 cup shortening (I use organic palm shortening)
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed*
3/4 cup sugar*
2 large eggs, slightly beaten*
1 cup peanut butter*
2 1/2 cups flour, scant*
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt*

In large bowl, cream shortening with both sugars till light and fluffy. Add eggs; beat well. Blend in peanut butter till well mixed.
In medium bowl, combine sifted flour, baking soda, and salt, if used. Add to batter and blend well.
Roll dough into one-inch balls. (Use lightly floured hands~powdered sugar works well.)
Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Flatten with tines of a fork that has been dipped in flour and make a criss~cross pattern.
Bake at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes. Allow cookies to set up for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool. Store in tightly~covered containers. Freezes well. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

*You can use an organic sugar instead of conventional.
*Rapadura or Sucanat can be used in place of regular sugar.
*I try to always use farm fresh eggs directly from a farm.
*I use either Skippy or Jif 'Natural' peanut butters. You can use any natural peanut butter.
*You can use creamy or chunky, it is your choice.
*Do not pack your flour or you will have dry cookies. When I measure the flour, I leave some out.
*I almost never bake with salt so the choice is yours.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lori's Cheesy Easy Quiche

Last night I wanted something different for dinner. I wanted something light, but creamy, delicious, but easy. So I decided to make a quiche. I'd never really made a quiche before, but how hard could it be? So I decided to make something from items I liked, and from things I had in the house. This quiche was created and I loved it! I even had it again for breakfast this morning as it heated up well. You can experiment with ingredients, including the cheeses I used. Like I said, I made this from items I had on hand at the house. You could change the cheeses, the meat used, the vegetables. I actually think some fresh spinach would be good in this, but I didn't have any on hand. Please feel free to use this as is or to make your own cheesy and delightful creation.
It was too hot to turn on the oven so I baked this on my gas grill, but the oven would work even better! Because my grill has a thermometer, I was able to keep the temperature at 350 degrees. I placed the glass pie plate on the top shelf and turned it every 15 minutes. It did take longer to bake it in the grill than it most likely would the oven, but it worked, which is all I cared about. I did place foil over the top of the quiche the last 10 or so minutes of baking as the top was nicely browned, as was the crust, but the center was not quite done. I did not want my quiche to burn.
I made my own pie crust, but I will leave you to make your own from your own favorite pie crust recipe. I am not giving you a recipe mainly because I did not use a recipe when I made my crust as I just through together 1 1/2 cups of flour, some sea salt, about a 1/2 cup of palm shortening, and some ice water. It turned out amazingly good considering I did not measure well or use a recipe! I am also guesstimating on the amounts of some of the items I used as this was one of those 'throw together' meals I am so fond of creating. But in a recipe like this, exact measurements are not necessary. Enjoy!

Lori's Cheesy Easy Quiche
                                                           350 degree oven
1  9" pie shell, unbaked (make your own)
1 cup grated Mozzarella*
1 cup grated Mexican Cheese Mix*
1 cup Parmesan*
4 large eggs (I used fresh brown farm eggs that were probably extra large)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
About 1 cup small diced ham (I cut the ham into small pieces from a larger slice)*
About 1/2 cup chopped green onions (scallions)*
About 1/2 cup chopped and seeded tomato
About 1/2 cup diced green pepper
Sea Salt and Pepper, to taste

Make your pie dough and place in pie pan; cover and set aside till ready to use.
In a medium bowl, place your cheeses and mix them up; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, place eggs and whipping cream. Blend with an electric mixer till well combined, about 1 minute.
Stir in ham, vegetables, salt and pepper, and the cheese mixture. Stir well to combine.
Pour into prepared pie shell.
Place in center of oven that is preheated to 350 degrees.
Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until top is nicely browned and a knife in center comes out clean.
Cover with foil last 10 minutes of baking, if needed, so quiche does not burn.
Allow to set up for at least 15 minutes before slicing so cheese will set up.
Makes about 8 servings. You can serve this with a side salad and some fresh fruit.

*Provolone can be used instead of Mozzarella. Smoked Provolone would give a deeper taste.
*Cheddar cheese or Gruyere can be used for the Mexican cheese.
*Pecorino Romano can be used in place of the Parmesan.
*Really, any cheese combo you want to use can be used.
*Bacon, breakfast sausage, Italian sausage, Chorizo, pepperoni, or no meat can be used in place of
*Any vegetables can be used: diced asparagus, fresh spinach, finely chopped broccoli, red or yellow
  onions, sliced zucchini, jalapenos for a kick, mushrooms, any favorite vegetables. I used what I had
  on hand and liked.
*You can add some fresh or dried parsley, which I thought of after this was in the oven...or some
   fresh snipped chives.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Homemade Fruitsicles

These are really simple to make. Use whatever fresh fruit is in season. You can also mix fruits to make fruit combos such as Strawberry Kiwi, Raspberry Strawberry, or Peach Blueberry. The choice is yours. I really like plain Strawberry. Your kids will enjoy these!

Homemade Fruitsicles

1 envelope unsweetened gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup pureed fresh fruit, your choice*
1 Tbls lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2/3 cup powdered sugar*

Sprinkle gelatin over cold water and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Add boiling water and stir till dissolved. Add remaining ingredients, adding extra sugar if fruit is too tart.
Divide mixture evenly among 8- 3 ounce paper cups (or divide among plastic popsicle molds).
When partly frozen insert pop stick or plastic spoon in center of each pop.
Freeze for at least 2 hours, longer if desired. Remove from freezer 5 minutes before serving, sooner if excessively hot outside. Peel off paper cup and serve. Makes 8 servings.

*Puree' the fruit in a blender or food processor while waiting on gelatin to soften.
*You can omit the sugar if you do not want any added sugar, but the fruitsicles will be tart, or you
  can add honey, Rapadura, or Succanat instead of table sugar.
*You can find pop sticks at hobby stores.

Lemon Shake Up

This is all it takes. See the sugar in the glass?

Oh yeah, so good and refreshing!

It is so very hot right now in the midwest and across most of America, with highs in the 90's, and even 100's. Daughter, Heidi, lives in Kentucky, just along the Tennessee border near Ft. Campbell, and when I talked with her earlier, she said it is going to be 108F today! Too hot! Here in central Ohio it is going to be in mid 90's with a heat index of around 110F degrees. It is truly miserable.
Trying to stay cool also means staying hydrated. How can it be more fun to be hydrated than making a Lemon Shake Up like they make at the fair? Fair food is fun food, and when you can bring these tastes home and enjoy them all year long, it makes them even more fun.
Lemons are so good for you as they help to cleanse the kidneys. I know, I know, sugar is not so good for you, so if you want to change the dynamics of this traditional drink to make it more healthy, try adding honey, rapadura, or succanat instead of regular table sugar, though the taste will be a bit different, depending on the kind of sweetener you choose to use.
In the meantime, I am going to enjoy my Lemon Shake Up as I write out this recipe!

Lemon Shake Up

16 ounce tumbler (glass is what I use)
Plenty of ice, crushed is nice, if you have it
1/3 cup sugar*
1 lemon
Cold water*

Fill tumbler 2/3 with ice.
Add sugar.
Wash lemon well for pesticides and germs.
Roll lemon, cut in half, then ream juice from one half and place in tumbler.
Save other half for another time.
Drop squeezed lemon rind into glass.
Cover with water, top with a lid or another glass that fits inside tumbler, and shake till sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes.
Add a straw and drink!

*You can use honey, Rapadura, or Succanat instead of regular table sugar.
*You can adjust the sweetness by adding to or from the sugar content for your own tastes.
*Use spring water instead of tap to have the best flavor.
*If you are like me, I like mine a bit stronger and sometimes use the entire lemon.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lori's Brownies

I was 11 years old when I first began to make these brownies. I found them in the only cookbook that my dad owned, a 1961 version of a large coffee table sized Time-Life cook Book. It had many sections in it, including a kids section, and this recipe was in the kids' section. I asked dad if I could make these brownies and he said, yes, write down the ingredients you need for when we go shopping. From then on, anytime I wanted to make a recipe, I made sure to write down the ingredients I would need so I could buy them whenever we went grocery shopping and then I was able to make/bake whatever I wished to try out. That is how I learned to bake/cook, besides watching my grandma and mother-in-law when they cooked. You can learn a lot just by watching others cook.
These are easy, crackly on top, chocolatey, without being too chocolatey, and takes literally less than 5 minutes to throw together, unless you need time to chop the nuts.
These were my kids' favorites when they were small. If it ever cools off again, I will have to make a pan for Bob and I to share.

Lori's Brownies
                                               Preheat oven 300 degrees F
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup real butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup flour
dash of salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional*
Powdered sugar, optional*

Melt the chocolate in a mixing bowl over hot water. Remove from heat. Add the butter and stir till melted. Cool for 5 minutes.*
Add sugar, eggs, vanilla, and beat thoroughly.
Mix in the flour and salt; blend well.
Stir in nutmeats, if used.
Grease an 8" square pan and pour in brownie batter, using the spoon to level the top.
Bake in a slow oven (300 degrees F) for 40 minutes.
Cool completely and cut into squares. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired


*I have never melted the chocolate in a bowl over hot water. I have always melted the chocolate and
  butter together in a snall saucepan over very low heat.
*While butter and chocolate is melting, measure out all other ingredients and butter the pan; set the
  pan aside till needed.
*Walnuts taste best, but pecans can also be used.
*You can use a doily over the brownies to make a pretty, lacey design with the powdered sugar.

Chocolate Fudge Pie

This is a rich, fudge-like pie that should be served in small sections. I got this recipe out of the paper years ago, tried it, and liked it, but I only make it occasionally as it is truly rich! If you love chocolate fudge, you will love this pie. It is not a traditional chocolate pie as it is not like a pudding, but more like fudge poured into a pie shell. This makes an awesome dessert for a light luncheon or dinner. It is also a fine pie to make for showers of all kinds.

Chocolate Fudge Pie

2 cups sugar
4 Tbls. unbleached flour
4 Tbls. unsweetened cocoa
2 cups whole milk or evaporated milk*
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1- 9" baked pie crust*

In a 3 quart saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, and cocoa; add eggs, and a little milk and mix well. Add rest of milk and vanilla;  blend well. Cook over medium low heat till thick, watching not to scorch. Pour filling into baked pie shell, smoothing top. Cool and garnish with some real whipped cream and chocolate curls, if desired.


*The evaporated milk would make a richer pie.
*You can use a regular pie crust, a graham cracker crust, or a cookie crust.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lori's Macaroni Salad

I really like macaroni salad in the summer, but I hate the store-bought kind as it tastes old and is usually too soupy. It is so easy to make your own that I do not know why people bother to buy the nasty stuff in the stores. There are so many variations on making macaroni salad that I will give you the version I like to make, but then in the 'tips' I will tell you some of the add-ins you can use to make it truly yours. Some people add black olives (which I hate, but which you may love!), grated or cubed cheese, pimento, frozen peas that have been thawed, or even tuna in order to make this more of a main course instead of a side dish.
  Really, the sky's the limit when it comes to any kind of pasta salad as there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of ways to make these. However, this one is really good, sticks with a more traditional approach, and will get you raves of 'more' from your family.
  Also, this is a basic guide as I tend to 'dump in a little of this and that' as that is how I cook! Please feel free to add or take away the things you don't like in this salad to fit your own tastes.
  This is a large recipe as I am used to cooking for a crowd so don't be afraid to half this if you don't need such portions! If you are going to a cook out, then make the entire amount. Any leftover you can bring home for your family to finish off, but I doubt you have any leftover.

Lori's Macaroni Salad

16 ounces of elbow macaroni*
1 cup diced onion (I like mine almost minced)
1 cup diced celery (again, I like mine cut small)
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 of a green pepper, diced small
1/4 cup of pickle relish*
1- 1 1/2 cups Miracle Whip*
1-2 Tbls. of organic sugar or sugar*
1 teaspoon yellow prepared mustard
Real Sea Salt and pepper, to taste
4-6 boiled eggs, peeled

Cook macaroni according to directions on box. Drain; rinse with cold water to stop cooking; drain again; set aside.

Chop all your vegetables, then combine with 1 cup of the Miracle Whip.* If too dry, add some more. You don't want it soupy, but you also don't want it to dry out. Pasta has a way of soaking up liquids.

Combine macaroni with vegetable mixture and blend well.

If using 6 eggs, chop up 4 eggs and combine in salad, then slice remaining eggs and lay in a pattern on top of salad.

Sprinkle with paprika.

Cover and store in fridge for several hours so the flavors combine.

Serve and enjoy!

*Elbow macaroni is my preference; do not be afraid to use shells, rotini, or your choice of pasta.
*Instead of pickle relish you can chop up Gherkin pickles or use a spicy pickle of your choice.
*Instead of Miracle Whip, make your own favorite homemade mayonnaise, then add some mustard,
  lemon juice, and sugar to make it tangy and delicious.
*You can use Rapadura or Succanat instead of processed sugar.
*Add ins: Cubed cheese, grated cheese, toasted canned peppers, black or green olives, frozen peas, diced green onions, diced red onions, 1-2 cans of tuna, well-drained, pimentos, capers, spicy pickles, chopped, Gherkin pickles, chopped, red peppers, diced, capers, a sprinkling of dill weed, snipped fresh chives, diced ham, shrimp, diced radishes...and the list goes on with your creativity.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lori's Fried Chicken

Lori's Fried Chicken

This is how I make my fried chicken. Many people are afraid of making fried chicken because they think it is too hard, but as these pictures will show, it is not hard at all. And it is very tasty, moist, and delicious. You can also use bone-in chicken with the skin on, but it will take longer to cook. If you use bone-in chicken breasts with the skin, then make sure you follow directions below for browning and then finishing off in the oven. Unless you buy chicken from the farm, most chicken today have breasts that are super large and difficult to get cooked through using conventional frying.

Take a basic piece of chicken, such as this boneless, skinless chicken breast, and wash and dry it. Remove any excess fat.

On a cutting board, pound the chicken evenly so that it is not as thick. This helps to break down the muscle tissue, which makes it more tender, and also, it makes the chicken more uniform in size so that it cooks more evenly. How do you dig that meat tenderizer? It came from a Kmart Blue Light special back in 1979 and I paid .10c for it! It is still going strong!

Choose which herbs and spices you want to use to season your chicken. I use paprika, thyme, parsley, poultry seasoning, Real sea salt, black pepper, some Sylvia's Secret Seasoning (in the baggie), seasoned salt, garlic powder, basil, and whatever happens to suit my fancy! I take about 1 cup of unbleached flour and place it in a gallon Zip-loc bag, dump in seasonings, just what looks right, and blend it well. I like a seasoning that you can taste, but one that is not overpowering. I tend to be a 'dump' cook as I 'dump a bit of this, and dump  a bit of that', but don't be afraid to use some spices and herbs!

This is what it all looks like once it is mixed up in the bag. You can see all those herbs and spices mixed in with the unbleached flour. And it smells divine!

I add a little extra season salt to the chicken before I coat it with the flour. I like the added seasoning.

Melt some shortening or oil in the skillet you will be using. I have organic palm shortening in the pan above that is melting. Palm shortening is a heart-healthy oil. Of course, you can use lard or tallow, coconut oil, or any other healthy oil that you like. I melt about a quarter-inch of oil in the pan.

You want the melted grease to be hot, but not smoking. The trick to good fried chicken (or any fried foods) is to have your fat hot enough to begin cooking the food when it enters the fat. I usually will place a bit of water on my finger and drop it in the oil, if it splatters and 'dances' on the oil, the oil is hot enough to cook with.

Coat your chicken well in the bag with the herbs and spices, then add to the skillet, making sure there is some room so they are not too crowded. You can see the fat is bubbling around the chicken as it is hot enough to be cooking the chicken so that the flour does not soak up all that fat. Allow your chicken to cook for about 10-12 minutes per side. You want to cook your chicken on a medium-low heat so the chicken cooks, but the outside does not burn.

Your chicken will be nice and golden brown when you turn it. Notice the pieces cooking on sides of chicken? That is blood cooking out. Just take a fork and pick those out of the fat and either give to your dog or toss in the trash. Look at how beautiful the herbs look cooked on the chicken.

When chicken is cooked through (you can use a meat thermometer to check for doneness or do what I do and feel the chicken, but this takes years of practice), then move to some absorbent paper on a plate to soak up any extra grease. Look at how nicely browned that chicken is! A deep golden brown, but not burned! Of course, you can use skin on chicken, any pieces of chicken you like as the process is the same. I prefer the boneless, skinless chicken breasts as they are my favorite.

If I do use skin on chicken breasts, the chicken breasts are usually so huge that they will not cook thoroughly on the stove without burning the skin eventually. What I do is to brown the chicken well on all sides, then place the chicken breasts on a cookie sheet (with a lip on sides), and continue to cook by baking in a 350F degree oven for about 30 minutes, You will have the most delicious and moist chicken ever! Delicious!

Now you know how to cook some delicious and juicy chicken!

Here are some ideas for the Flour seasoning mixture:

About 1-2 cups unbleached white flour
About 1-2 Tbls MSG-free seasoned salt (your favorite brand or homemade)
About 1 tsp or so of paprika
About 1 tsp of garlic powder
About 1 tsp of poultry seasoning
About 1 Tbls of parsley
About 1/2 tsp basil (or more, if you like)
About 1/2 tsp Sylvia's Secret Seasoning
About 1/2 tsp black pepper
About 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, if you want a 'bite' in your seasoning

Blend all ingredients well and keep in plastic Zip-loc bag or other container of your choice. You can add other seasonings and in any amounts. Don't be afraid to play around with this to make it the way you like it.

Lori's Fried Chicken Recipe

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Flour seasoning mixture
Extra seasoning salt
Oil for frying, preferably a heart-healthy choice like Palm Oil Shortening.

Wash and dry chicken breasts.
On a cutting board, pound chicken with a meat mallet on both sides so that the pieces are of a uniform thickness.
Place some palm oil shortening in the skillet, about 1/4 inch of oil, and heat on medium low heat till oil is hot. To test oil, sprinkle a drop or two of water in oil to see if it splatters and dances. When it does, the oil is hot and ready for the chicken.
Place a piece of chicken in the flour mixture and coat well on all sides. Place the chicken in the skillet and then coat another piece until all pieces are coated. You can usually only fry 3-4 pieces at a time unless you use two skillets.
Fry for about 10-12 minutes per side, turning chicken over when it is done frying on one side.
Using a meat thermometer you can check to see when your chicken is done.
Remove from pan and place on paper towels on a plate.
Eat and enjoy!

If you decide to use boned chicken breasts, cook chicken on all sides and cook to a golden brown. Place pieces on a lipped cookie sheet and place in a 350F degree oven. Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove chicken from oven and place pieces on paper towels to drain. Eat and enjoy!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Herb Butter

Mmmm....It is so good to add herb butters to home-grown veggies! I love this on corn on the cob, in lima beans, and even a good pat on a rib eye steak. You can adjust this to suit your own tastes, but this is really delicious on so many foods. It also makes a good spread for bread that you plan to toast or broil. If you are not sure if you will like all the components of this butter then make 1/4 of it to try before making an entire pound. This and other herb butters make delicious gifts.

Herb Butter

1 pound butter, room temp*
4 tsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp. dried chives
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried tarragon

With electric mixer, whip butter with lemon juice and garlic powder till smooth. Crush herbs until very fine and add to butter blending well.
Wrap and chill overnight so flavors can blend before serving.
For very special dinners and parties you can use a piping gun and make rosettes on wax paper, or pat into fancy butter molds for individual servings.
Makes 1 pound butter.


*Do not use margarine or spreads! Besides being bad for your heart and arteries, it doesn't taste as
*You can use fresh herbs, but you will have to decide how much of each is enough. Look for a converter chart for dry/fresh herbs.
*Divide butter up into 1/4 pound pieces and wrap well so you can freeze some to keep them fresh and
  use as wanted.

Chicken Enchiladas

These seem to be complicated, but they are not. They are easy and tasty. You can use leftover chicken (whether fried, rotisserie, baked, or grilled), which makes a great new way to use up extra chicken and still have a new meal your family will love. They are rich and filling. Go the extra mile and make these from full-fat ingredients as they will help to fill you up and keep your hunger sated for a longer time. Besides, it is just better for you all the way around as you need healthy fats in your diet.

Chicken Enchiladas
                                                                                         Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
3 cups cooked chicken, cubed
1 cup chicken broth*
1 Tbls. unbleached flour
2 cups of Half and Half cream
1 can (2 oz.) chopped green chilies*
2 tsp. minced onion
1 tsp. real sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 cups sour cream
12 organic corn tortillas*
1 cup (4 oz.) finely shredded Mexican Blend cheese
Chopped green onion, optional
Sliced black olives, optional
Chopped tomatoes, optional
Fresh cilantro, chopped fine, optional
Organic olive oil spray

Stack tortillas on paper towel and place in oven to warm.
Blend chicken broth and flour in 2 quart saucepan and cook till thickened. Stir in Half and Half, green chilies, chopped onion, salt, ppper, and 1 3/4 cup of sour cream.
Dip warm tortillas in sauce completely coating both sides. Spoon 1/4 cup chicken down center or each tortilla, old up, use some of the sour cream to seal edges.
Spray a 13" x 9" pan with cooking spray. Place tortillas in pan edge down. Repeat till all tortillas are filled with chicken.
Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas. \Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, till hot and bubbly.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 5 more minutes till cheese melts. Let rest 10 minutes to set up before serving.
Garnish with green onions, cilantro, tomatoes, and sliced olives, if desired.

*You can use your own homemade broth or store-bought.
*You can use fresh chilies, if desired.
*Make sure you use organic corn tortillas to avoid GM tortillas as most all corn-related foods in USA
  is made with GM corn products

Fool-Proof Beer Batter For Deep Fried Vegetables

My husband absolutely loves Fair Food. He goes to the fair just so he can eat his way through the midway. I, on the other hand, do not care much for Fair Food as it is costly, greasy, heavy, and cooked in oils I try to avoid. Every once in awhile I will make Bob some of his favorite Fair Foods such as Pulled BBQ Pork sandwiches, soaked and grilled corn on the cob, funnel cakes, or these tasty vegetables.  It can't get any easier than this recipe.

Fool-Proof Beer Batter For Deep Fried Vegetables

1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup beer
Palm oil shortening or lard
Vegetables such as mushrooms, zucchini, onion rings, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato slices, or green pepper rings.*
Real sea salt

Combine flour with beer. Cover and refrigerate 3-4 hours before using.
Meanwhile, get vegetable prepared for when you want to use them; set aside till ready to use.
Heat oil in a deep fryer or 2-3 quart pan (at least 3-5" of oil) to 375 degrees F.
Dip vegetables in batter, knowcking off some of the extra, then drop into the oil to fry for 2-3 minutes, till golden brown. Salt to taste.
Drain on paper towels before serving. Serve hot.

*This batter is good to use for fish, too.

Delicious No-Bake Cheesecake

I got this recipe from an acquaintance around 10 years or so ago. It was so easy and delicious. I just made a couple of these for two of my grandkids' graduation parties and came back home with empty pans as they were wiped out. I made one with a canned cherry pie filling, and the other with fresh, sliced strawberries. I often make one of these to keep in the freezer so I can pull it out and have an instant dessert. The topping can be added once it is thawed some at room temp.

Delicious No-Bake Cheesecake

For the crust:
2 pkgs. graham crackers (2 out of 3 in 1 box)
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, melted
6 Tbls. powdered sugar

Crush graham crackers or run through a food processor to make into crumbs. Combine with melted butter and powdered sugar. Pat evenly into a 13" x 9" pan; set aside.

For the Filling:
2 pkgs. (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temp
1 cup powdered sugar
8 ounces whipped cream*

Beat cheese with sugar till smooth. Fold in whipped cream. Spread evenly over the graham cracker crust. Cover well and freeze for 2-8 hours. Allow to sit out for 30-60 minutes to thaw.Spread choice of pie filling or real fruit filling over top. Serve.

For the Topping:
Use any canned pie filling you prefer, or use fresh fruits in season and sweeten with a bit of sugar, if needed, or make a fruit glaze to mix with fruit. This can also be left plain for a plain cheesecake.

*The original called for 8 ounces of Cool Whip, but I like to use real whipped cream that you can
   make yourself or buy already made
*You can freeze this for up to 2 months in the freezer, just wait to add any topping when thawed
   and ready to serve.
*For the strawberries I put on my cheesecake and got rave reviews, all I did was to wash and slice up
  a pound of fresh strawberries, added a bit of sugar (maybe 1/4 cup) and allowed them to sit to make
  a syrup. Then I spread the strawberries with the syrup evenly over the cheesecake and it was done.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lori's Fried Rice

Back in July of 1980, my friend, Sandy Mavis Koehler, called me and told me she needed to teach me how to make a fried rice recipe that a Korean friend of hers from work had taught her to make as it was absolutely delicious and addicting. A week or so later, she came over and we made the rice. YUM! I loved it! She was right! Delicious! Addicting!
The original recipe did not have peas in it, but celery chopped finely, and only maybe 5-6 slices of bacon. Over the years, I learned to make this the way I like it with the peas instead of celery (though both could be added), and I added more bacon. This recipe is a 'guesstimate' recipe as I may have the original written down somewhere, but I doubt it as Sandy gave me a 'guesstimate' recipe when she showed me how to make it.
I usually make double or more of this recipe when I am making it, depending on how many I am cooking for, and how much in leftovers I want for later use. My kids love this rice! It is one of their favorite side dishes. I think it is some of the best fried rice I've ever eaten and I think you will think so, too. It is a bit time consuming to make with all the steps, but so worth the effort. Do not be afraid to make this recipe your own by using the vegetables you like best. If you don't like frozen peas, don't use them. You could add celery, mushrooms, leeks, whatever you like to this recipe. It is very versatile to amendments. The bacon is crucial, as is the bacon grease. Don't skimp on either.

Lori's Fried Rice

2 cups water*
2 Herb Ox chicken bouillon cubes*
2 cups instant rice*
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 pound bacon, cooked, crumbled, grease reserved
1 onion, cut fine (minced)
1/2 cup green pepper
About 4-5 baby carrots, finely shredded
1 egg, scrambled with 1 tsp. water
2-3 Tbls. reserved bacon grease*
About 1 Tbls fermented soy sauce, or to taste*

Bring the water and bouillon cubes to a boil; add peas and bring to another boil. As soon as water boils again, add rice, stir, cover with tight fitting lid, and turn off heat. Set aside while you make other foods.
Fry bacon, reserving grease as you fry.
Meanwhile, chup (mince) onions and green pepper, and grate carrots; set aside.
Scramble egg in a skillet sprayed with a bit of Olive oil cooking spray. Remove egg and chop fine, then place in a bowl till ready to use.
When bacon is done frying and has cooled, crumble quite small.
Return 2-3 Tbls of bacon grease back to the skillet, then add the vegetables, bacon, and egg. Saute for a few minutes to heat everything up. Either add the rice to the skillet or the contents of skillet to rice (whichever pan is bigger), then stir well to combine ingredients. Add soy sauce and stir well, adding more as needed. Rice should be a nice brown color when there's been enough soy added.
Serve and enjoy!

* I use Herb Ox bouillon cubes as they have no added MSG.
*You can use chicken broth (homemade or canned) in place of bouillon.
*You can use long cooking rice in place of the Instant Rice.
*You can use white or brown rice, though I like the taste of white best in this recipe.
*The bacon grease adds to the flavor and taste appeal of this recipe. You can use a bit more, if
*You can use regular soy sauce (and I have when out of the fermented), but since soy sauce is not
  good for you unless it is fermented, it is best to use fermented. Can be found online for sale.