Friday, November 7, 2014

Honey Baked Beans with Apples

I wanted leftovers for our long weekend, so I made a big dish of these golden, sweet and savory beans tonight. Boston brown bread sounded good, but I was feeling lazy so I just made cornbread this time. 

I don't score any points with the kids when I serve this, but sometimes Mommy needs cozy comfort food, too!

 You can prepare the beans a day ahead, and add the apple slices right before baking.

Honey Baked Beans with Apples

  • 1 cup dry navy beans
Bring to a boil with about 2 cups water. Let sit for an hour, drain. Simmer in fresh water till soft, drain again. 

Stir into cooked beans:
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. oil
  • 2-3 T. honey
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 lb. bacon, chopped and fried

Butter a 2 qt. casserole. Pour in beans. Top with

  • 2 cored and pared apples, thickly sliced
If beans seem dry, add 1/2 c. water.

Bake, covered, at 300 F for one hour or two, adding water as needed. Dish is ready when apples are puffy and onions are soft. 

Serves 6.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Mock Lasagna

This casserole has always been a hit with my family. I usually double the recipe so we'll have leftovers.

Pasta: Mom always made mock lasagna with elbow macaroni, but medium shells work really well, too. And they are easier for small hands to stab with a fork.

Meat: You can substitute ground beef or turkey for part or all of the sausage, though sausage makes a more flavorful dish. My favorite version is half sausage/half beef. 

Cheese: The original recipe called for Velveeta. I have used combinations of cheddar and Velveeta, or cheddar and mozzarella. Follow your instincts. ;)

This is a convenient make-ahead or crockpot dish. Just allow for extra heating time if it's been in the refrigerator.

Mock Lasagna

  • 7-8 oz. dry pasta
  • 1 roll (12-16 oz.) bulk sausage (or ground meat) 
  • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, optional
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 1/2 c. cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 c. (6 oz.) cubed cheese 

While the pasta water comes to a boil, brown and drain the meat. Add the tomato sauce and seasonings. Simmer 10-15 minutes. Boil the pasta; drain. 

My mom's recipe says to layer some meat sauce, half the pasta, and half the cheeses in a baking dish. Repeat, ending with more sauce. This makes for a pretty presentation, especially in a glass casserole, but it tastes just as good stirred all together. Try it both ways and see which you prefer!

Bake, uncovered, 20-30 minutes at 350 F, till edges are bubbly. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Chocolate-Cream Cheese Cake Roll

I first made this amazing cake for my son's fourth birthday. This year, he requested chocolate-mint cake for his home birthday party, but Chocolate Cake Roll to share with his classmates.

Since each recipe makes ten generous servings, we needed two cakes to feed the whole class. And since I have only one jellyroll pan, it was a good time to find out how this dessert held up to being frozen. I prepared one cake last week, froze it, baked another the next day, froze it, and thawed them both in the fridge yesterday. They came out beautifully!

The not-too-sweet chocolate cake recipe came from Diana's Desserts, but instead of just whipped cream, I use a cream cheese filling that makes people swoon. Another time you might try filling the cake with cooked custard cream, or softened ice cream.

If you've never attempted a cake roll before, has an excellent illustrated tutorial here. Note that the tutorial shows rolling from the short side of the cake, but this recipe rolls from the long side. My recipe is rich enough that you don't need a large spiral slice!

While the cake is beguilingly tender, the outside ends up with a crackled "crust" nearly resembling tree bark. In its unsliced form, this cake would not look out of place against a backdrop of evergreens, or autumn leaves.

Chocolate Cake Roll

  • 1/3 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder 
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch 
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • (about 1/4 cup powdered sugar)

Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar 
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tub whipped topping, thawed

First, preheat the oven to 350 F and prepare a 15 x 10 jellyroll pan. Line the pan with parchment paper. Grease and flour the lined pan. 

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. Stir out any lumps. 

Separate eggs, placing whites and yolks into separate mixing bowls. 

Whip the egg whites at high speed till foam. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar while continuing to beat till stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Add 1/2 sugar to egg yolks. Beat on medium speed till fluffy (you can use the same beaters you just used on the whites). 

Fold 1/3 beaten egg whites into egg yolk mixture. Alternately fold in the flour mixture and the remaining egg whites. Pour batter into floured pan and smooth surface to fill pan as evenly as possible. 

Bake (at 350 F) about 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes.

Now comes the tricky part. :)

Rolling the Cake:

Spread a clean tea towel (thin, cotton) out on your counter. I like to spread it out on a cooling rack or a cutting board. Dust it evenly with powdered sugar in a rectangle the same size as the jellyroll pan. 

Loosen edges of cake from pan, if necessary. Carefully turn cake out onto dusted towel. Pull off the parchment paper. If cake is cool enough, this is a good time to trim any uneven edges. Now roll cake up with the towel, starting from a long side. 

Cool towel-wrapped cake on a wire rack for an hour or two.  Prepare filling.

For Filling:
Whip cream cheese and sugar till light. Beat in vanilla. Fold in whipped topping. Chill till ready to use.

Filling the Cake:

Gently unroll. Don't panic if the cake cracks! It doesn't have to be perfectly flat.

Spread filling over cake, leaving 1/2 inch margin along the sides. Roll cake up again, and place seam-side down on tray or platter. You can dust it with extra powdered sugar if you like. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate till serving time. 


Monday, November 3, 2014

Red Beans and Rice

Now that the leaves (and around here, hedge apples) are falling and the wind is blowing cold, it's time for those hearty dishes we've avoided for months. This meal is simple, inexpensive, full of protein, and served over rice, it's even gluten-free. And since I usually have the ingredients on hand in my pantry and freezer, it's good for those days when I haven't made it to the grocery store in a while.

I've used both andouille sausage and turkey sausage; either one is quite satisfactory. If you don't have fresh veggies, you can cheat with a bag of frozen Cajun mirepoix. I don't actually measure my spices, so the amounts given are approximate. Vary them according to your family's tastes. Some cooks substitute salsa for the Ro-Tel tomatoes.

Personally, I like the convenience of canned beans. But if you have the time and inclination, you can certainly cook your own from dried beans. 

Cajun-Style Red Beans

  • 2 T. oil 
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 3-4 ribs celery
  • 1-2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 4 cans red beans 
  • 1 lb. smoked sausage, thinly sliced
  • 1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes 
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin

Saute the vegetables in oil till tender, adding garlic at the end. Add the beans, sausage, and seasonings.

Stir and cover. Bake at 300 F for 4-5 hours. The longer, the better! Check occasionally, adding water if necessary to keep the beans moist. (You can also throw this in the crockpot and cook it all day, or overnight.) 

Serve beans over fluffy rice with a side of hot cornbread. Or skip the rice and serve over the cornbread. Or use as a side with a Cajun meal. If you're in a true Louisiana mood, wash it down with sweet tea!

This makes a big batch, so you'll have enough for company, or to put in the freezer, or to save for a quick dinner over the weekend. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lunch Magnets

Do you pack school lunches the night before?

I am not a morning person, so most of the time I get the kids' lunches ready right after cleaning up dinner. And because their nutrition is important to me, I do cater to their preferences. No assembly line for us. A lunch that gets eaten is better than a lunch that gets brought home after school!

One likes spicy mustard. Hold the mayo for another. Another wants bologna and American cheese. One prefers steamed broccoli to grapes and dislikes Gala apples. Two like shredded-carrot salad, or pineapple. One likes Greek yogurt, another only eats yogurt without fruity bits. One takes leftover pepperoni pizza, the others get plain cheese. But how in the world to keep them all straight?

This was my solution at the beginning of the school year, and it has worked beautifully!

Each child has their own magnet. When I make their lunch, I pull their magnet off the fridge and set it with the food. When they pack their lunch coolers, they know which stack of containers is theirs, and they stick their magnet back on the fridge.

What are your organization secrets?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Parmesan-Herb Breading Mix

One of my mom's homeschooling friends shared this recipe with my family many years ago, and it was our company chicken dinner for a while.

Today, the breading is a staple in my kitchen. I keep a container of the mix in my freezer and use it for everything from zucchini planks and eggplant rounds to chicken breasts or fish fillets. For lunch last week, I dredged chopped veal steaks in the breading, panfried them, and served them atop roasted spaghetti squash with marinara sauce. It was heavenly!

For the bread crumbs, I take whatever odds and ends are left on my counter from making sandwiches--anything that's not too seedy or nutty--and pulse them to bits in my blender. When my sister visits next month, I'll try a version with gluten-free bread crumbs.

Parmesan-Herb Breading

1/2 cup soft fine bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Store mix in air-tight container in the freezer.

Spread some breading mix on a shallow plate. Dip boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a little melted butter, then immediately roll them in the crumbs. Bake, uncovered, @ 375 F for about an hour.

Zucchini Planks or Eggplant Rounds:
Brush veggies with olive oil and arrange on lightly oiled baking or broiler pan. Spread breading in a thin layer over each vegetable slice. Bake @ 350 for 40 minutes or till tender. Sprinkle hot veggies with shredded mozzarella cheese and/or serve with marinara sauce.

Drizzle melted butter over thawed or frozen fish (tilapia) fillets. Sprinkle evenly with breading mix. Bake @ 425 for 10 (fresh) or 15 (frozen) minutes or till fish flakes easily.

On a plate, dredge veal chopped steaks in breading. Heat 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil in a skillet. Add veal and cook about 4 minutes on each side, or till done. Sprinkle with mozzarella, if desired, and top with your favorite tomato sauce.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stuffed-Tomato Tuna Salad

My tomato plants have nearly given up for the year. But one fresh ripe fruit got this luncheon treatment: stuffed with celery-studded tuna salad on a bed of lettuce and garnished with toast points.

Tuna Salad
  • 1 can tuna
  • your favorite mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped (use the leaves, too)
  • Old Bay seasoning, to taste

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Orange-Pineapple "Painkillers"

This tropical cocktail is one of our favorites for sipping on the front porch after the kids are in bed.

Recipes for this drink vary. I mix according to taste, but mine goes something likes this: 
  • 4 parts pineapple juice
  • 2 parts orange juice
  • 1 part cream of coconut 
  • 2 parts rum (I usually use Bacardi Gold)
  • generous sprinkle of nutmeg
This coconut "cream" is the easiest to use.

I like to make a big batch and keep the extra in a jar in the fridge. Just shake it up before serving because the coconut settles. You can also mix up the base and keep that in the freezer for the when the mood hits. Sometimes I mix the rum in the glasses so I can adjust the strength of "his and hers".

However you make them, these summery island drinks, accompanied by a bowl of pretzel nuggets, are the perfect catalyst for lazy conversation on the patio!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer Tomato Sandwich

Don't you just love a red tomato fresh from the garden? This is what I did with one of my first tomatoes this season. Matched with a good cheddar and, in this case, slices of rich avocado, it was pure deliciousness.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Birthday Cakes!

We had two birthdays this month.

RJ requested chocolate cake with white icing, which turned out thus:

And her sister chose cheesecake:

Five packages of cream cheese in this baby!

I baked it slowly at a low temperature, 
and let it cool in the oven for TWO hours. 
That is the no-crack secret!

Cherries on top...

And zebra candles, why not?

Spinach-Rice Salad

This summery dish is bright and fresh and pairs well with wine and/or fresh fruit. Tonight we followed it with sweet-tart, pink, and fluffy Bavarian Raspberry Cream

Spinach-Rice Salad

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. fresh oregano, finely minced
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped ham
  • 6-8 cups torn spinach (about 6 oz.)
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • cracked black pepper

Cook in a small saucepan:

  • 1 cup rice*
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • (OR 2 cups of water + 1 tsp. chicken bouillon)

While the rice simmers, heat olive oil in a large skillet and saute onion till tender. Add garlic, oregano, ham, and lemon juice and heat through.

When the rice is done, stir it into the onion mixture and stir till the seasonings are evenly distributed.

Toss the spinach with the hot rice, a handful at a time. I find that it helps to "fold" the spinach in, as if it were egg whites. It doesn't look like the pan will hold it all, but the spinach will wilt and make room for more. When all the spinach is mixed in, sprinkle liberally with cracked black pepper and top it off with the crumbled feta cheese.

Yield: about 6 adult main-dish servings.

*As wonderful as brown rice is, I prefer a light white or jasmine rice for this dish because it allows all the flavors to shine through. If you try brown rice, you may want to bump up the seasonings.

The original recipe called for mushrooms, but I've never used them here.
Friends have told me they satisfactorily substituted cooked chicken for the ham.
How would you adapt this recipe? Leave a comment and let me know!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rhubarb Cake

I moved my poor little rhubarb plant to a pleasant space in full shade next to the hostas, and it must have liked the company because it cheered up right away! It was getting so big this week, I even dared to harvest enough stalks to make this scrumptious coffeecake. I do not recall where my mother came across this recipe, but it is the best one I've found. Moist cake, tart fruity bits, and a sweet crusty topping--it is a highly esteemed breakfast treat around here.

I used some whole wheat and some unbleached flour. You could also make this gluten-free, of course. And I imagine it would be equally delicious as cupcakes.

My supermarket sells fresh rhubarb this time of the year, so don't despair if you don't have a plant of your own! The size of your rhubarb pieces will make a big difference in the texture of your cake. I cut mine in cubes no larger than 1/2".

Rhubarb Cake

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar, very lightly packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups diced rhubarb, fresh or frozen

Cream butter and sugar. Mix in egg and vanilla.
Stir in flour alternately with buttermilk, adding rhubarb last.
Spread thick batter in a greased and floured 9 x 13 baking pan.

Mix 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon and sprinkle this evenly over the surface of the cake batter.

Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes or till toothpick comes out clean.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Strawberry-Pecan Salad

This week I tweaked Pear-Walnut-Cheese Salad, and ended up with a new summer version. A poppyseed dressing would finish this salad perfectly, but this time I used the raspberry vinaigrette I had in the fridge.

Strawberry-Pecan Salad

  • a bowl of fresh greens
  • onion slices
  • celery slices
  • strawberries, quartered
  • pecan halves, raw or toasted
  • feta cheese crumbles
  • your favorite sweet or tangy dressing

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bavarian Raspberry Cream

Our produce aisles are bursting with fresh berries this month. So this week I introduced my family to one of my favorite summer desserts. Rich, tangy, and colorful, my son declared this treat "divine"! Unfortunately, it all disappeared before I got a photo. We'll just have to make it again, I guess. I first discovered the recipe in my mom's Joy of Cooking, and I've modified it only slightly.

Bavarian Berry Cream

  • 2 cups crushed raspberries (or strawberries, about one pound)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 T. lemon juice

Let the sweetened fruit sit for 20 minutes while you prepare the gelatin.

  • 2 T. cold water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup boiling water

Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water to soften. Add boiling water and stir till dissolved. Stir gelatin into fruit mixture. Put into refrigerator to chill for about half an hour.

  • 1 cup well-chilled whipping cream (I used light whipping cream, but heavy is good, too)

When fruit is almost set, beat cream till fluffy. Gently fold into berries.

Pour the dessert into a dish, a prepared baked pie crust, or a wet mold. Cover and chill till firm.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Baked Rice Pudding

We've had nippy mornings again this week, but this custard is a cozy way to start the day. I have adjusted the sugar to suit my tastes (not too sweet for breakfast), but if you leave out the raisins, you may want to tweak it accordingly.

White rice or brown, either one works. Go as refined or whole-grain as you like. And you can use skim milk or whole milk or anything in between. The custard is nicer if there's a little milkfat in there, but it is delicious either way. And if you happen to have extra eggs, it never hurts to throw another one there. :)

It is important to bake the custard in an improvised bain-marie (I love using that fantastic term!): set your baking dish inside another pan filled with at least an inch of hot water to ensure the custard heats gently and doesn't dry out. You will want to check the sizes of your pans before you fill them to make sure they fit!

Baked Rice Pudding  
  • 4 c. cooked rice
  • 1 c. raisins (optional)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 c. milk, scalded
  • nutmeg
Arrange rice and raisins in 2- or 3-quart baking dish.

Beat eggs thoroughly with sugar, salt, and vanilla. Whisk in scalded milk. Pour over rice. Sprinkle surface generously with nutmeg.

Bake custard in a water bath by pouring hot water into a larger baking pan. (Have pan with water in the oven before you attempt to put in the custard.)

Set rice dish inside larger pan. Water should be about 1" deep.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until set. Let cool before refrigerating. 

Serve warm or cold.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Chana Masala: Chickpeas

"What are those?" my daughter asked, staring at the portion on her plate.
"Garbanzos," I told her, "Chickpeas!" She gave me, and them, another dubious look. 
Missy may not have been convinced, but I thought this new recipe turned out just fine!

I found the original on Orangette's blog and tweaked the ingredients slightly. I don't use cilantro and I didn't have cardamom but I threw in a few other herbs and spices I did have and the result was something I would happily eat again.

Dinner tonight was for me, so I wasn't expecting rave reviews from the younger set. I prepared myself to bribe them with ice cream and fill them up with naan. Sometimes you just have to do what works!

Chana Masala

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced

In a large skillet or saucepan, saute onion in olive oil. Keep cooking and stirring till onions begin to caramelize and color darkens. Add garlic and stir.

(Note: I was multi-tasking and missed the bit about the garlic. I realized my forgotten oil had overheated, so I threw the chopped onion and garlic in together before it started smoking. The garlic bits burnt quickly and stuck to the pan. I scooped the limp onions into a bowl, washed out the pan, returned the onions to the fire, and chopped more garlic. Next time I won't forget.)

While the onions are cooking, measure out the spices:

  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • up to 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 2 T. dried parsley (or add 1/4 c. fresh minced parsley with the tomatoes)

Add the spices to the onions and stir over medium heat about 30 seconds to let them get fragrant.

  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 big (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans chickpeas
  • another 1/4 c. water
  • 1/3 c. plain yogurt (optional, but I love it!)
  • lemon wedges for garnish, also optional

First, stir in 1/4 c. water and let it cook off till mixture thickens. Then, add the tomatoes. Bring to boil, then simmer and stir till liquid reduces to more of a sauce. Adjust the seasonings, remembering that it needs to be on the piquant side to enliven the legumes. Add the drained chickpeas and the rest of the water. Keep simmering till the sauce thickens again. Stir in the yogurt, garnish with lemon wedges if desired, and serve.

We ate the chana masala as is with naan on the side, but it would also make a lovely viand over rice for a hearty exotic vegetarian and gluten-free meal.

Orange Julius

With another warm weekend approaching, I'm already planning what I'll serve my family. Must have a plan because Chris will be tearing up my kitchen to prep for the new countertop being installed next week--yay! If we can do some work in the yard before the threatening storms arrive, everyone will be delighted with this cool citrusy treat which I first tasted during my days living at a cult training center. Funny how the threads of the past crisscross each other!

I had completely forgotten this icy drink until a hot day earlier this month. I adjusted the measurements a little, and my family was delighted with the result!

Orange Julius (Yield: 4 large or 5 medium servings)

4 T. powdered sugar
2 T. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups orange juice
1 cup milk
ice cubes

Measure the ingredients into a blender/smoothie jar in the order listed. Add a couple of handfuls of ice--about two cups. (You want to leave a couple of inches of space at the top because it will get foamy.) Blend till ice is crushed and thoroughly incorporated. Pour into tumblers and serve immediately.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring Cookies

The flowers and trees are blooming and it feels like spring outside. We celebrated by making a batch of sugar cookies (shhh, I used a Pillsbury mix that was marked down after Christmas!) and decorating them with original designs. They were delicious, and oh so pretty!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Snack Dinner

Some nights I don't bother to cook at all. Everyone at our house rejoices when I announce their favorite meal: snacks. Usually it is a some variation of fruit and cheese served with nice bread, toast, or a medley of crackers.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Raisin Spice Drop Cookies

These toothsome treats are a family legend. My great-grandmother brought them to my parents' wedding picnic in 1974. I made them this afternoon while the kids were in school and my carpets were being cleaned.

Melt-in-your-mouth cookies have their place but these are more like little cakes. And they're hearty enough to keep you going when lunch is a distant memory and supper is too far in the future. I usually use walnuts, but today I had pecans so I used them instead.

Raisin Spice Cookies

  • 2 cups raisins
  • 1 cup water

Bring to a boil in small saucepan. Cover, and set aside to cool.

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Cream together.

  • 4 cups flour (I used half whole wheat, but I like them chewy)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice

Combine dry ingredients and add them to creamed mixture, alternating with the liquid from the raisins to keep it moist. Stir in raisins and:

  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Using a tablespoon, drop scoops of dough onto ungreased cookie trays, about two inches apart.

Bake 10-12 minutes at 350 F.

Cool on wire rack and dust with confectioner's sugar. Store in air-tight container.

Crepes (French Pancakes)

This dish is pretty much the opposite of a Puff Pancake: thin, delicate, small, and soft. It's hard to believe they use nearly all the same ingredients.

I didn't make any fancy crepe fillings this time. We just sprinkled them with powdered sugar or slathered them with butter before folding them up and devouring them. (I doubled this recipe to feed the five of us on a Saturday morning.)

  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 T. powdered sugar
Sift if you're a perfectionist; whisk together if you're not. 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla (or lemon zest)
Beat into dry ingredients. Or mix everything in the blender till there are no lumps.

Fry crepes one at a time in a lightly-greased non-stick skillet: 
1. Pour 1/3 cup batter into the center of hot skillet and swirl gently to spread batter evenly outward.
2. Cook over medium heat till edges start to crisp.
3. Gently flip over (a large turner helps!) and cook other side till it starts to freckle.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Stuffed Pork Loin

This spiral entree's impressive looks belie its humble origins. The men at my house are especially fond of it!

Stuffed Pork Loin

  • pork loin (about 3 pounds)
  • 3 cups of your favorite stuffing (I use a box of Stovetop's "Savory Herb" variety, prepared according to the package directions)

Starting at 1/3 of the thickness of the roast, make a cut through it, stopping about one inch from the other side. Opening the pieces like a book, keep cutting through the thick side, stopping short of the edge again. Now you can lay the whole piece out flat.

Spread the prepared stuffing evenly over the meat.

Roll up the meat back into its original shape and secure with string or kitchen twine.

Place roast in baking pan, lean side down.

Bake at 325 F for 90 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 150 F.

Um, so my pan was too small. But the meat was in there, and I didn't want to wash another one. 

Let the roast rest a few minutes before slicing into thin spirals. We ate the tender stuffed pork with cranberry sauce, beets, and green beans.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tamale Pie

It may seem as if we've been starving for the last month or so, but I assure you that is not the case!

There have just been too many other important things on my plate to get recipes written down. Important things like Valentine's Day, taking my daughter to gymnastics, volunteering in her classroom, chewing out school administrators, research for my other blog, attending my kids' school concerts, reading for my book club, reading stories people send me (I am truly honored!), walking out stress, and building snowmen.

Still, we've been eating well! This is one of my favorite eat-of-the-pantry one-dish meals. It is especially wonderful on a cold day. The recipe is very adaptable. If I have taco meat in the freezer, I use that. I use different kinds of beans, switch up the turkey for beef, or make it vegetarian. And the seasoning can be altered to taste. You can leave out the green chilies, or use seasoned beans, or taco seasoning, or taco sauce, or salsa or a can of Ro-tel tomatoes. If it turns out too spicy for me, I just load on more cheese and sour cream. The cornbread does tone it down some, and the corn sweetens it all, so keep that in mind.

Jerusha's Tamale Pie

  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 c. frozen or canned corn, drained
  • 1 small can diced green chilies
  • 1/3 c. chopped green pepper (I use the frozen kind)
  • generous sprinkle of garlic powder
  • 1/2 lb. ground turkey seasoned for tacos

Step 1: Mix all of the above and bake, covered, in a 2-qt. baking dish for 45-60 minutes at 350 F. Remove from oven and stir. Turn oven up to 400 F.

  • 1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1 T. water

Step 2: Whisk above ingredients in a small bowl. Pour cornbread batter evenly over the hot chili in the casserole pan. Return to oven and bake 20 minutes at 400 F.

Scoop casserole into shallow bowls and garnish as desired with shredded cheese, sour cream, diced avocado, or guacamole.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins

These are my family's favorite muffins, hands down. They keep well, just as delicious for breakfast if you make them the night before. (That's my kind of muffin!) And they also freeze beautifully. Moist, sweet, and studded with bits of chocolate, what's not to like?

Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins (makes 1 dozen)

  • 3 bananas, mashed (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup oil

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl, quickly stir wet ingredients into the flour mixture just till moistened. Spoon batter into lined or greased muffin pan.

Bake 18-20 minutes at 375 F. (For mini-muffins, bake 10-15 minutes at 350 F.)

Cool on a wire rack. Store cooled muffins in an air-tight container.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Vegetable Mélange

This dish of layered vegetables baked in a rich, savory sauce is like a comfortable stew that got dressed up for company. I serve this on chilly winter days when fresh produce is harder to come by and I can whip it together from things already in my pantry. The leftovers are homely, but even more delicious than the original version.

To make this vegetarian meal gluten-free, just skip the bread crumbs and thicken the sauce with cornstarch instead of flour.

Vegetable Mélange 
  • 3 cans green beans (drained, reserve liquid)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (reserve juice)
  • 1 can whole-kernel corn (drained, reserve liquid)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 4 T. butter (1/2 stick)
  • 2-3 T. flour
  • 1 1/2 cups reserved vegetable juice
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

  • shredded cheese (cheddar, colby, or swiss)
  • about a cup of fine soft bread crumbs (2 slices of bread in the blender!)
  • (2 T. melted butter, optional)

Drain the tomato juice into a large measuring cup. Add liquid from the beans/corn to make 1 1/2 cups. Discard the rest.

Melt butter in a saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook over low heat for a minute. Gradually whisk in vegetable juice, as you would for a white sauce. Cook over medium heat till "gravy" thickens. Add seasonings.

Layer drained vegetables in a 9 x 13 pan in order given. Pour sauce evenly over the whole pan and cover with shredded cheese up to an inch from the edges.* If desired, stir the melted butter into the bread crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs around the edge of the casserole, creating a border around the cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour at 350 F.

*Note: To keep the cheese from drying out, you can wait and top the casserole with cheese and bread crumbs after the first 45 minutes of baking. But I am usually too busy or lazy to do that. And I kind of like the texture of toasty cheese.

Cake Mix Cookies

These are my shortcut cookies. My family loves them as much as any of my from-scratch recipes: for dessert, school lunch, or after school with a glass of milk.

And the combination possibilities are only bounded by personal taste. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
--Dark chocolate fudge cake with mint chips
--White cake with milk chocolate chips and walnuts
--Devil's food cake with white chocolate chips and pecans

Cake Mix Cookies

  • 1 box (18 oz.) cake mix
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • (1/2 cup rolled oats, optional)
  • 3/4 cups chocolate chips
  • (3/4 cup chopped nuts)

Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes at 350 F.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Oven Puff Pancake

Whether you call it German Pancake, Danish Pancake, Oven Pancake, Aeggekage, Puff Pancake, or Dutch Babies, this is one amazing breakfast! The batter is similar to crepes, but instead of frying it in individual portions, you pour it all into a hot greased skillet and bake it in one magnificent puff.

And it's so easy! I doubled this recipe and used my two biggest skillets. I could have used a 9 x 13 pan instead, but I love the wedge-shape pieces that come from a round pan. I think the pancake cooks differently in a skillet, too, and wouldn't give up that crusty edge for anything. 

German Puff Pancake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoons white sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 

Put 3 tablespoons butter in a large cast iron skillet. Place skillet in the oven while you preheat it to 450 F. 

Thoroughly blend ingredients using an electric mixer. Carefully pour batter into hot skillet with melted butter and return to hot oven.

Bake 15-18 minutes at 450 F.

Remove from oven and serve immediately with one of the following toppings:

  • Powdered sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Jam 
  • Cherry pie filling
  • Sliced strawberries lightly glazed with orange marmalade

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cobb Salad To Go

A few weeks I was looking for fresh lunch ideas. This riff on the Cobb salad was a hit with both my husband and my son. If I was serving it as a main dish dinner salad, I might add cooked chicken, but this made a fine mid-day meal.

When I sent this salad as a school lunch, I made it the night before but packaged the cheese, the dressing, and the croutons separately. Then my son put it together himself. Don't forget to pack a fork!

Jerusha's Cobb Salad
  • leafy greens (spinach/lettuce blend)
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • avocado, chopped
  • hard-boiled egg, diced
  • cooked bacon, crumbled
  • cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ranch dressing
  • croutons
I filled a bowl with torn greens, then arranged the toppings in wedge shapes on top, finishing with a drizzle of ranch dressing and a scattering of croutons.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Foodie Reading List

Check out the new link (on the sidebar) to some of my favorite books about food!

For Love of Mushrooms

I loved canned mushrooms as a little girl. We put them on pizza, and in beef stroganoff. (You can read more about that here.) I loved to nibble pieces straight out of the can. As an adult, I wasn't really sure what to do with mushrooms, but I loved to order them in restaurant dishes.

Recently I've been revisiting mushrooms. This dish was inspired by a mushroom omelette my late grandmother prepared for me when I visited her years ago. Grammie used white Cracker Barrel® cheese, and it always reminds me of her kitchen. A frittata is a natural choice for weekend brunch, but I also enjoy this meal as a filling lunch or quick late-night supper.

When I make this meal for myself, it is so much more than good-tasting fuel. This particular food combination represents warmth, care, and a sense of well-being. What delicious foods are comforting to you?

Mushroom-Cheddar Frittata

  • 1 cup sliced raw mushrooms
  • 1/4 of a large onion, sliced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • salt & pepper
  • sharp white cheddar cheese, sliced thin

In a medium skillet, saute vegetables in a teaspoon of butter. When they begin to caramelize, pour in the eggs, seasoned with salt and pepper. Let set over medium-low heat, sliding spatula under the edges to let the egg run beneath. Flip frittata if necessary to thoroughly cook the eggs. Top with cheese slices and serve with buttered toast.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Simple Supper Beans

I spent most of yesterday on the couch with a raging sinus infection. I knew everyone would be hungry when they got home from school, so I needed an easy menu. (The pizza we'd ordered earlier in the week was gone, and we'd had sandwiches the night before.)

So when my daughter got home at 3:30, I had her throw dinner in the oven:

She opened 3 cans of great northern beans and 1 can of Ro-Tel tomatoes. I had her mix them in a casserole dish with 1 tsp. ground cumin. She put on the lid and set the beans in the oven to bake at 325 F.

When my son got home, I asked him to set the table with bowls and spoons.

Two hours later, I walked into the kitchen and served up the beans. We garnished them with colby-jack cheese (shredded by my helpful husband), sour cream, and tortilla chips. Avocado would have been nice, but I haven't been shopping in a while. For a nice touch, I mixed up an apple-passion-mango juice blend from frozen concentrate.

We had a nice family dinner, and I didn't even have to cook!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Chicken-Noodle Soup

There have been sore throats and sniffles around our house this week, so it was a great time for a pot of chicken-noodle soup.

I don't actually use a recipe when I throw this soup together, but below are my basic ingredients. The can of condensed soup stretches the broth and gives it body, but you can certainly leave it out if you want to stick to less-processed ingredients.

I don't think I ever use the same kind of noodles twice in a row. The kids love it when I make them from scratch; frozen thick Reames egg noodles are second-best. Last month, I skipped the noodles altogether and cooked dumplings in the broth instead. This time I had whole wheat yolk-free egg noodles in the pantry, so I used those.

Chicken-Noodle Soup

  • 3-4 carrots, diced
  • 3-4 ribs celery
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • black pepper
  • chicken broth
  • can of cream of chicken soup (optional)
  • salt, to taste
  • noodles
  • cooked chicken or turkey

I usually simmer the veggies in the broth till they're tender. Then I add the noodles and let them cook before adding the chicken last of all.