Saturday, March 30, 2013

Just stopping by to wish everyone a very happy Easter!

We're doing our family dinner tonight rather than tomorrow due to conflicting schedules, so I've been busily cooking since yesterday. The menu will, of course, include a spiral-sliced ham, as well as sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese, dressing, deviled eggs, coleslaw, Watergate salad and dinner rolls. My daughter is contributing a lovely relish tray. Dessert will be Boston Cream Pie Cake, Simple Lemon Pie (sugar-free) and Rice Krispie Treat Balls dipped in white chocolate. (Well, that didn't go as planned....didn't realize just how sticky those things are! They are now squares with chocolate drizzled over the top.)

The best part of the day will be seeing all the family - our grown "kids" and the two grandsons! They've grown so much....I remember when the older one was small and we had his first Easter egg hunt in the back yard. We had to hide those things about 5 times because he kept saying, "Do it again!" :-)

I'd better get back to the kitchen. The food prep is almost finished, so now it's time to set the tables and assemble the cake. Photos to come later.

What are your Easter traditions, memories or menus? Please feel free to share!

Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Recipe Experiment x 2

First, I have a question. Is it spring where you are? Right now I’m not believing the calendar - or the groundhog - because it’s been snowing for a while and is supposed to really accumulate overnight. It may be a while before we can put the winter gear away, too, because it’s really cold!

Last night I decided to do 2 new recipes for dinner. They both were very easy, and perfect for Saturday night. Normally I do an easy dinner because we’ve been working or running errands all day. And I want cleanup to be easy so we can get ready to relax.

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HOMEMADE HAMBURGERS
 
Hamburgers:
 
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
 
Sauce:
 
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup water
 
In a good-sized mixing bowl, moisten bread crumbs with milk. Add ground beef, onion, salt and pepper. Mix well. Set aside.
 
In a mixing bowl, mix sauce ingredients together.
 
Shape hamburger mixture into 6 patties. Place in a single layer in baking dish. Pour barbecue sauce over patties.
 
Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 30 minutes, basting occasionally with sauce.
 
Makes 6 servings.
 
Recipe from Fix-It and Enjoy-It Potluck Heaven by Phyllis Pellman Good (recipe submitted by a cook in Telford, PA).
 
RANCH POTATO CUBES
 
6 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2” cubes
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, cubed
1 cup sour cream
1 packet ranch salad dressing mix
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
 
Place potatoes in a greased 7x11” baking dish. Dot with butter. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
 
Combine sour cream and dressing mix. Spoon over potatoes. Sprinkle with cheese.
 
Bake uncovered 10 minutes until cheese is melted.
 
Makes 8 servings.
 
Also from Fix-It and Enjoy-It Potluck Heaven by Phyllis Pellman Good (recipe submitted by a cook from East Earl, PA). This book has tons of great recipes, and is available from Amazon.
 
(Names of cooks submitting recipes to be published in the book are not given in order to protect their privacy. Their contributions are appreciated!)
 
Notes:
 
Hamburgers: I would grease the baking dish (9x13”) for an easier cleanup. Also, I used ground chuck for less grease in the sauce.
 
Potatoes: The sour cream/dressing mixture will thin as you put it on the hot potatoes, making it much easier to spread evenly. Wonder how some chopped jalapenos would taste in them?
 
I have a huge pot of vegetable soup cooking on the stove this afternoon. It’s perfect for a cold, snowy day. Part of the family likes cornbread with soup, so I’ll bake some a little later. The rest like peanut butter sandwiches, which is fine with me – no cooking!
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I'm basically a beginning photographer, and I know there are special skills to photographing food. I'm studying some photography basics, and if all goes well you'll see great improvement in the future! If you have any tips or hints pertaining to food styling and photography, I'd appreciate them.
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Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tip Tuesday

Do you know how many uses there are for honey? And how many varieties of honey are there? “Many” would be the answer to both questions! How long have bees been making honey and we collecting it? A very long time!

That sweet, gooey treat we all love has numerous uses, both for health and beauty. I’ve listed a few below, as well as a fun recipe!

There are over 300 varieties of honey in the United States, and the color and flavor of each variety is determined by the flowers the nectar is drawn from.
The process that bees go through in making honey is a bit disturbing if you really think about it! It is a process of regurgitation then evaporation to remove excess water from the honey. It is then stored in the honey comb.
Honey collection goes back at least 8,000 years as evidenced by cave drawings found in Spain. Also, there are reports of bees being around thousands of years before that!

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Here are a few ways honey can be used:
1) Add a bit of honey to tea for a relaxing drink in the evening. It may lead to a good night’s sleep.
2) Honey has a natural hydrogen peroxide that is released when it comes in contact with water or body fluids. That makes it a perfect antiseptic for minor cuts, scratches and burns. Bandages and dressings will not stick to it.
3) Put on minor sunburn to cool the burn.
4) It is a perfect sugar substitute in baking. Replace the sugar with half as much honey and decrease liquids by 1/4 cup for each cup. Also, reduce oven temperature 25 degrees.
5) Use for sore throat or cough. Mix with a bit of lemon juice and swallow a spoonful.
6) Use as a skin moisturizer. Rub lightly on skin then rinse off with warm water and pat dry.
7) Honey is said to enhance vitamin A absorption.
8) The antioxidants in honey are good for colon health.
9) Honey is a great energy booster. Stir into coffee or tea in the morning when you’re on the go!
10) Do not give honey to infants under 1 year because it contains spores of a bacteria which can cause infant botulism and could possibly be fatal.
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HONEY LIP GLOSS: In a microwave-safe dish mix 1 part honey to 2 parts petroleum jelly and warm until melted. Pour into very small sterilized containers; let cool until firm. To add fruity flavor and scent, mix in a small amount of fruit-flavored powdered drink mix. To add color with no scent, mix in a small amount of beet juice.
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A few quotes:
“If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive” – Dale Carnegie
“When you go in search of honey you must expect to be stung by bees” – Joseph Joubert
“Life is the flower for which love is the honey” – Victor Hugo
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Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Dinner

Tonight I made a couple of my own new recipes for dinner. The meat was London broil, to go with couscous and steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. To add flavor to the couscous I made a seasoned mixture of tomatoes and navy beans.

London broil is a commonly-used name for flank steak, or can also be cuts such as top round or sirloin tip. It needs marinade for tenderness – marinate for 4 to 6 hours. Be sure not to overcook the meat or it will be tough and chewy. London broil can be prepared in several ways:

1) Broil for 5 to 7 minutes per side to rare (145 degrees). For medium cook to 160 degrees, and 175 degrees for well-done.

2) Roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes per pound.

3) Braise, covered, on the stovetop for 2 to 3 hours.

Let the meat rest for 5 to 15 minutes before slicing to let juices redistribute through it.

Cut across the grain for tender pieces.

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My marinade for the London broil was 1 cup Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1 garlic clove, minced.

TOMATO-BEAN COMBO
 
1 (14.5 oz.) can petite-diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz.) can navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste
 
Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until translucent. Add remaining ingredients and heat through.
 
Note: if you don’t have capers, use sliced green olives for the tart, salty flavor.
 
For lunch I made a quick pasta salad using leftover pasta from last night’s dinner. To 3 cups tri-color penne, add 1/2 cup chopped onion and 1/2 cup chopped celery. For the dressing, mix 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup Ranch salad dressing, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon parsley, 1 teaspoon bacon bits and a dash each of salt, pepper and sugar. Combine and mix well.
 
I hope you’ve all had a great weekend and are ready for a new week. Check back for Tip Tuesday – it’s in the works!
 
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!
 

Friday, March 8, 2013

A New Recipe and Spring Forward

Tonight I tried a very quick and easy - and delicious - recipe for a sauce to serve over fresh asparagus. It adds just the right touch of lemony goodness!

CITRUS-GLAZED ASPARAGUS
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound asparagus, either grilled, roasted or steamed
 
Combine sauce ingredients in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on High for 30 seconds or until heated through. Stir, then drizzle over the cooked asparagus.

Notes: I only made a half recipe as I knew some here wouldn’t eat the sauce and I prepared only 1/2 pound asparagus. Also, it seemed a bit thick, so I added another teaspoon or so of lemon juice.  Try the sauce over other fresh vegetables – cauliflower, broccoli, etc.

Recipe from America’s Favorite Brand Name Recipes (2012 Edition). This ring-bound, hardback book is a great collection of recipes using familiar products, and has lovely photos that make you want to prepare all the recipes shown!

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At midnight on Sunday we set our clocks ahead one hour in observance of Daylight Saving Time (DST). Most of us call it “Daylight Savings Time”, which is technically incorrect, but acceptable due to common use. When did this idea begin and why do we do it? Seems like so much trouble to set the clocks ahead in the spring and then back in the fall, doesn’t it?

In 1784, while living in Paris, Benjamin Franklin wrote “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light”, which essentially spelled out the idea of “daylight shifting” in order to use fewer candles. It would shift an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening, and back again.

Years later, in 1907, a Londoner named William Willett, wrote “Waste of Daylight”. His idea was to set clocks ahead 20 minutes for 4 Sundays in April then back 20 minutes for 4 Sundays in September.

For many years it was up to states whether to observe DST or not, and it led to much confusion, especially in travel. Congress, in 1966, established the Uniform Time Act, stating that all states would observe DST, which would be from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October. However, states would be exempt if they passed local ordinances against it. Hawaii does not observe DST, nor do parts of Arizona. Indiana will begin observing it this Sunday, but in the Statehouse many are suggesting moving the state to the Central Time Zone.

Today, DST is observed from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. So don’t forget to set those clocks ahead – and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, too!

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Today's Quote: "I don't mind going back to Daylight Saving Time. With inflation, the hour will be the only thing I've saved all year" (Victor Borge)

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Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Recipe Experiment

For Week 3 of the experiment, I decided to do a dessert. The recipe comes from one of my mother’s cookbooks, which is a treasure. It’s the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, published in 1953. Mom was an exceptionally good cook – the country kind – and collected recipes pretty much the same as I do (guess that’s where I got it!). She tended to look in her magazines and write on the cover the names and page numbers of recipes she wanted to try. Her cookbook has a couple of notations as well. But many of her recipes were written on index cards and in notebooks.

I had intended to try a meringue pie, but ran out of time and quickly found this one. Ingredients and instructions as written in 1953:

BROWNIE PUDDING
 
1 cup  enriched flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons melted shortening
3/4 to 1 cup chopped California walnuts
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 3/4 cups hot water
 
Sift together flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa and salt. Add milk, vanilla and shortening; mix until smooth. Add nuts. Pour into 8x8x2-inch pan.
 
Mix brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa; sprinkle over batter. Pour hot water over entire batter. Bake in moderate oven (340 degrees) 40 to 45 minutes.
 
From Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.
 
My 1965 edition has the same recipe in it, but changed the shortening to either melted shortening or “salad” oil. And the flour was changed to “all-purpose” rather than enriched.
 
The changes I made were:
Use sugar and brown sugar blends to cut down on sugar.
Use pecans instead of walnuts.
Baked in a 7x11-inch dish. To find if the dish holds same amount as the 8x8x2-inch dish, I filled the 8-inch dish with water, then poured it into the 7x11-inch dish – held same amount.
 
Photos: Before adding hot water, after adding hot water, when removed from oven, a serving of goodness. (Where’s the ice cream??)
 
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Give this one a try – it’s quite yummy!
 
That’s the recipe experiment for this week. I have several cookbooks on my table to go through for this week, so check back.
 
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!
 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Saturday Night Dinner

It’s been a busy day full of cleaning house and taking continuing education classes, but will soon be time for dinner preparations. Tonight I’ll be making Cola Pork Chops. To go with those will be buttered rice, French green beans and biscuits.

The pork chop recipe is extremely quick and easy, and very flavorful. It gives plenty of sauce to go on the rice, too.

COLA PORK CHOPS
 
 
 
4 to 6 boneless pork chops
1 cup ketchup
1 cup cola (I use diet – works well!)
1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar (I use a brown sugar blend)
 
Place the pork chops in a baking dish. Mix ketchup and cola and pour over chops. Sprinkle brown sugar over top.
 
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees 40 to 45 minutes; remove foil and bake another 15 minutes.
 
This recipe can be adjusted for servings needed.
 
 
 
Dinner is over, and it's time to relax for the evening. I'll put new information on the Holidays page before logging off - check it out!
 
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Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!