Friday, December 31, 2010

220. Mango Ice Cream, Delicious

Most people know how to pick bananas, grapes and apples, but to spend good money on an uncommon fruit, like a mango whose quality is hard to judge, would probably stop many shoppers from buying. Mangoes are a delicious fruit, but I have often passed them by because the stores where I live sell them when they are either very green and hard or too soft and rotten.

With practice, however, or a chat with the produce manager, the more adventurous person can learn how to select a ripe or nearly ripe mango. This sweet, unusual fruit can be kept in a paper bag to hasten the ripening process even if it is purchased slightly under ripe.

After taking a mango home the peel must be removed from the ripe fruit and so that the flesh can be cut away from the large pit. There is more than one way to get the fruit off of a mango...but, no matter which way is used, care must be taken as this fruit becomes very slippery after it is peeled.

An easy way is to remove the skin with a sharp paring knife and then slice off the bottom section of fruit so the mango can stand upright. Next, a small fork is used to hold the top of the fruit steady while the rest of the fruit is sliced off as close to the pit as possible.

Mango fruit may be eaten fresh, served in a salad or combined with a few other ingredients, like today's  simple recipe for Mango Ice Cream. This is a subtle-flavored ice cream that serves four. I like to add a lot of pistachio nuts.

(If fresh mangoes are not available, frozen mango maybe substituted).

Mango Ice Cream

1 mango, peeled and cut up (or use frozen mango chunks)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup Cool Whip
2-4 T coconut cream (found in oriental grocery stores)
1/2 cup pistachio nuts (chopped)

Put the mango pulp (or frozen chunks) in a blender or Vita Mix and pulse until smooth. Add condensed milk, coconut cream and cool whip and pulse until just mixed.

Pour the mixture in an airtight container, cover and freeze the mixture for several hours or overnight.
Remove mango mixture from the freezer and chop into pieces. Allow to soften slightly. Add chopped nuts and mix in with a spoon. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
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220-A Recipe Index 1-220

Daily recipes are pulled from the following 5 groups.
Each group is only used once/week.

1. meat/fish 2. pasta/veg/fruit  3. bread/pastry  4. soup/salad/dessert  5. eggs/easy

Recipe Post #

Appetizer, Oriental Finger Food 155
Apple Crisp 143
Apple, German Pancake 168
Apples, Maple Nut 180
Apple Roll 213
Apples, Sauteed 142
Apple Squares 138
Apple, Grilled Swiss Cheese Sandwich 218
Apple Tarte Tatin 157
Artichokes 62
Asparagus, Creamed on Toast 87
Asparagus, Sautéed-steamed 42
Avocado Cucumber Salad 209

Bacon-tied Potatoes with Onion 192
Banana Pancakes 153
Banana Whip 115
Bars, Peanut 164
Bars, Praline Cookie 40
Bars, Praline Cookie - Deluxe 148
Beans, Back-Burner 32
Beans, Butter and Cabbage Soup 139
Beans, Garlic String 177
Beef, Italian 1
Beets, Pickled 112
Birds, Pork 201
Biscuit, (3) Baking Powder Recipes 73
Biscuits, Green Onion 52
Blackberry Dessert 199
Blueberry Cake Cups 144
Bread, Banana 8
Bread, Cheese-herb French 109
Bread, Danish Potato 5
Bread, Fruitcake 214
Bread, Golden Egg 202
Brad, Oatmeal Whole Wheat 198
Bread, Pita 34
Bread, Raisin Cinnamon 163
Bread, Sausage 171
Bread Strips, Parmesan 190
Bread, White, rolls, buns 47
Bread, Zucchini 92
Burgers, Turkey Delicious 71
Butter Lamb 23

Cabbage, Butter Bean Soup 139
Cabbage-Onion Stir Fry 197
Cabbage, Stuffed 147
Cake, Blueberry Cups 144
Cake, Mini Pineapple Upside-down 99
Cake, Lemon Mousse 82
Cake, Pumpkin Date 184
Calzone 166
Carrot Garnish, Little Flowers 150
Carrots in Broth 12
Carrots, Orange Julienne 217
Caramels, Cream 215
Casserole, Zucchini (Italian style) 26
Chicken and Dumplings 76
Chicken Artichoke Festiva 2
Chicken, Barbecued Pulled 95
Chicken Breast Strips 36
Chicken, Golden 46
Chicken/Green Curry Sauce 176
Chicken/Noodles, 161
Chicken, Oven Barbecue 11
Chicken Pot Pie, No Crust 151
Chicken Skewers, Marinated 131
Chicken, Spanish-Style Grilled 106
Chickpea Dip, Hummus 185
Chili, Diane's 211
Chili Meat Cups 51
Chips, Tortilla Cinnamon 128
Clam Dip 200
Cocktail Sauce 44
Coconut Macaroons 194
Coconut Pancakes, Pineapple 207
Coffee Cake, Easter Nest 24
Cookies, Coconut Macaroons 194
Cookies, Malted-Pecan 203
Cookies, White Chocolate 7
Cookies, White Chocolate Oatmeal-Coconut, Deluxe 74
Corn bread, microwaved 55
Cornbread Loaf with Buttermilk 88
Cornbread Quick Loaf #2 193
Cornmeal Pie 158
Corn on the Cob, Grilled 107
Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner 6
Cranberry Apple Crumble 183
Cranberry Relish 178
Cranberry Sauce 179
Cream Caramels 215
Crepes, Chocolate-Orange Banana 113
Crescent Puffs, Chocolate-Pecan 14
Croissants, Cordon Bleu 126
Cucumber, Avocado Salad 209
Cucumber, Marinated Slices 122
Curry Sauce, Green with Chicken 176

Danish Puff 84
Date, Pumpkin Cake184
Dessert, Cranberry-Apple Crumble 183
Dip, Chickpea-Hummus 185
Dip, Clam 200
Diane's Chili 211
Dough, Pizza 188
Dressing, California French 79
Dressing, Ranch - Almost 170
Dressing, Russian 56B
Dressing, Southwestern Salad 91A
Dressing, Thousand Island 85
Dumplings, Fruit 17

Egg Bread, Golden 202
Egg Foo Young 205
Eggs Benedictive 65
Eggs, Bulls-Eye 90
Eggs, Creole 140
Eggs, Deviled 75
Eggs, Hard Boiled and Easter Eggs, easy dye method, Cold Water 18
Eggs, Huevos Rancheros 70
English Muffin Loaf 28
English Muffin, Apple-topped 125

Fennel, Shrimp Linguine with Orange 216
Fish Fillet with Mushroom Sauce 141
Frosting, German Chocolate - Microwaved 173
Fruitcake Bread 214
Fruit Crisp, microwavable 49
Fruit Flower for Two 45

Garlic String Beans 177
Garnish, Carrot Flower 150
German Apple Pancake 168
German Chocolate Frosting 173
Granola, Oatmeal Maple 103
Gravy, How to Make Lump-free 160
Green Peppers, Shrimp-Stuffed 72
Green Tomatoes, Fried 137
Grilled Swiss Cheese and Apple Sandwich 219

Ham, Peas and Pasta 152
Ham Roll With Pea and Olive Sauce 81
Hash browns 50
Hummus, Chickpea Dip 185

Ice Cream, Mango 220
Icing, Quick 145

Jam, Concord Grape 149

Kiwi Smoothie 204

Lasagna Roll-Ups 212
Lemon Mousse Cake 82
Lemon, Peach Frost 210
Lemon-Pepper Sauce, Vermicelli 175
Lettuce, Grilled Shrimp and 117
Linguine, Shrimp Fennel with Orange 216

Mac and Cheese for Two 130
Macaroons, Coconut 194
Macaroni Shells Florentine 162
Malted-Pecan Cookies 203
Mango Ice Cream 220
Mango-Lime Salsa 127
Maple-Nut Apples, 180
Meatballs, Southwestern 196
Meatballs, Swedish 155
Meatloaf, My Mother's 146
Mincemeat Bars 133
Mincemeat, Green Tomato 132
Mousse, Lemon Cake 82
Mushrooms, Stuffed 77
Mussels 9

Oatmeal , Wholewheat Bread 198
Onion, Bacon-tied Potatoes with  192
Onion, Cabbage Stir-Fry 197
Orange Alaska 159
Orange Carrots Julienne 217
Orange, Chocolate-Striped Slices 60
Orange, Shrimp Linguine with Fennel 216
Oriental Finger Food, Appetizer 155

Pancake, German Apple 168
Pancakes, Banana 153
Pancakes, Pineapple-Coconut 207
Parfait, Chocolate-Mint 124
Parmesan Crisps 123
Patties, Bacon Potato 22
Patties, Salmon 206
Patties, Tuna Potato 3
Peach Lemon Frost 210
Pecan, Pumpkin Waffles 187
Pecans, Cinnamon Sugar 100
Pickles, Bead and Butter 102
Pie, Cornmeal 158
Pie Crust and Pie Crust Secrets 16
Pie, Easy Fresh Peach 104
Pie, Frosty Pineapple Juice No-Bake 69
Pie, Mile-High Lasagna 61
Pie, Peanutty Ice cream 80
Pie, Plum 110
Pie, Ruby Whipped Cream Cheese 64
Pie, Spaghetti 41
Pie, Sweet Potato 15
Pimentos, Mock 93
Pineapple-Coconut Pancakes 207
Pizza Dough 188
Pizza, Easy 59
Pizza, Fruit 53
Popcorn, Caramel 35
Pork Birds 201
Pork Chops Sorrento 136
Potato Soup, Easy 219
Potatoes and Turnips 167
Potatoes in a Bag (Savory Microwaved) 54
Potatoes, Twice Baked 208
Potatoes, Whipped Sweet 58
Pumpkin Date Cake 184
Pumpkin Mousse Dessert 189
Pumpkin Pecan Waffles 187

Quiche, Mini 118
Quick Corn Bread #2 193

Red Beans and Rice 86
Relish, Cranberry 178
Rice, Basmati, how to cook perfect rice 30
Roll, Apple 213
Rum-Pineapple Fuff 'n Crunch 89

Salad, 3-Bean 154
Salad, Broccoli 29
Salad, Bunnies on the Lawn 19
Salad, Chicken Pasta 119
Salad, Cucumber Avocado 209
Salad, Hot German Potato, microwaved 97
Salad, Layered 129
Salad, Lime Pineapple 25
Salad, Napa Cabbage 39
Salad, Potato with Radish 94
Salad, Southwestern Chicken 91
Salad, Strawberry spinach 48
Salad, Waldorf 134
Salmon Patties 206
Salmon with Cilantro and Lime 96
Salsa, Mango-Lime 127
Sandwich, Breakfast 68
Sandwich, Open-Faced Vegetable 108
Sandwich, Pita Egg 37
Sandwich, Ruben 56
Sauce, Blueberry Fruit 83
Sauce, Cocktail 44
Sauce, Spaghetti 41
Sauce, Tomato 135
Sausage Bread 171
Sausage, Italian with Tomato and herbs 21
Shrimp Cocktail Sauce 44
Shrimp Linguine with Fennel and Orange 216
Shrimp Scampi 27
Slaw, Fruit 10
Sloppy Joe 34
Smoothie, Fruit 66
Smoothie, Kiwi 204
Soup Au Pistou 4
Soup, Butter Bean and Cabbage 139
Soup, Cream of Asparagus 57
Soup, Potato Easy 219
Soup, Egg Drop 43
Soup, Spaghetti-Lover's 114
Soup, Tortilla 174
Soup, Turkey (real) 191
Southwestern Meatballs 196
Squares, Spice and Sweet Potato 38
Steak Barbecue, Beijing Style 116
Steak Barbecue, Beijing Style 121
Steak Diane 111
Stir-Fry, Cabbage Onion 197
Strawberries, Chocolate Covered 33
Strawberry Cookie Cup 120
Sushi, California Rolls, Made Simple also Seaweed Free Rolls 67
Swiss Cheese and Apple Sandwich, Grilled 219
Syrup, Easy Pancake (2 recipes) 13

Taco Seasoning, Homemade 105
Tart, Cream Cheese 165
Tortilla Fruit Shells 78
Tuna Salad 101
Turkey Soup (real) 191
Turnips and Potatoes 167
Turnovers, Crunchy Beef 20
Twice-Baked Potatoes 208
Vermicelli with Lemon-Pepper Sauce 175

Waffle, Chocolate Dessert 63
Waffles, Pumpkin Pecan 187
Wheat, Whole Oatmeal Bread 198

Zucchini Squares 98

Thursday, December 30, 2010

219. Easy Potato Soup, Limitless

As much as I love a good soup...I usually can only eat it once or twice and then, I am tired of it for awhile. Needless to say, if I tweak an old recipe or find a delicious soup that has not been a part of my
decades-old collection, I am extremely happy to add it to my menu. Today's soup is one of those...a very common soup that can be made with many variations.

The words potato soup...sound delicious and comforting...a soup to be consumed on a cold and blustery day or feasted on with some wonderful bread after a long day out and about in the world. This soup can be modified with the addition of left-over odds and ends from the refrigerator...the variations are almost limitless. My husband gave this soup two thumbs up.

I actually used left over twice-baked potatoes for this soup. In fact, almost every ingredient was a left-over product from the refrigerator.

Easy Potato Soup

2 T margarine, (Smart Balance), or butter
1 sweet onion sliced into thin wedges
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 T bacon bits
3-4 medium cooked russet potatoes with the skins on
2 C chicken broth
1 C light cream or milk
1-2 C broccoli, chopped and steamed (optional)
1/4 C cheddar cheese, grated

Melt margarine in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add onion slices and garlic. Saute until onion is tender crisp. Do not burn garlic. Add potatoes and break into small pieces while blending with the onions. Slowly add broth and mix well. Turn heat down to low and add cream. When mixture is hot, stir in cooked broccoli.

Remove 2 cups of soup to a blender and pulse until smooth. Add back to pot and mix well. Sprinkle in cheese and heat until melted. Taste and add salt if necessary. Serves four.

Optional ingredients: sliced carrots, diced turnips, spinach, chopped green onions

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

217. Orange Carrots Julienne, Carrots to Love

A cooking class I once taught  was all about vegetables. Preparing for the class reinforced what I already knew...where vegetables are concerned, less is more...less cooking, that is. Many people tend to overcook vegetables and end up with rather tasteless and certainly vitamin-compromised dishes.

Unfortunately, there is a fine line between underdone and overcooked vegetables. It helps, however, to have a good recipe, great ingredients and an accurate timer. With these tools, even a beginner can turn out wonderful food the first time and every time.

While a healthy lifestyle dictates that fresh fruits and vegetables are to be consumed regularly, many people do not eat certain vegetables because they didn't like them when they were growing up. On the off chance that carrots are on your don't-like list, Orange Carrots Julienne, a recipe from my vegetable class, might just make you a carrot lover. The slightly sweet orange flavor combined with thinly cut carrots is a winning combination. If you already love carrots, this recipe will be a tantalizing bonus.

Orange Carrots Julienne

1 1/2 lbs fresh carrots
1/3 C brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp salt
1/ tsp grated orange peel
2 T butter

Julienne carrots and simmer them in 1-inch salted water until tender crisp. In a large skillet, cook and stir brown sugar, salt, orange peel and butter until bubbly. Add carrots and cook over low heat. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

218. Grilled Swiss Cheese and Apple Sandwich, Eye Appeal

Even though sandwiches are probably one of the easiest dishes to reproduce at home, many restaurants do a thriving business because ordering a sandwich is an easy and economical way to eat out. And, let's face it, what would a road trip be without a few hefty, layered sandwiches from Panera Bread or Subway?

Growing up, we at a lot of sandwiches and most of them were made at home. My mother actually let me fix grilled cheese sandwiches when I was quite young. I was taught to make them with buttered white bread and American cheese. It was not as fancy as a thick club or submarine sandwich, but it sure went well with a bowl of tomato soup after we had spent the morning shovelling snow.

 As my palate matured, I switched to rye bread and added chopped green peppers and sometimes green olives on top of the cheese...then, someone suggested trying different cheeses and maybe some fruit. Wow...what a concept!

With the advent of griddles and indoor grills, however, it is easy to copy restaurant-style sandwiches or to increase the eye appeal of an old favorite right at home.The Swiss cheese sandwich with tangy apple slices in today's recipe is wonderful fixed on a grill or griddled.

 Grilled Swiss Cheese and Apple Sandwich

2 slices bread, buttered on the outside
Thin slices of Swiss or baby Swiss cheese
Thin slices of a peeled, tart apple

Using a hot grill or griddle, place a buttered slice of bread on the griddle, buttered side down. Add cheese apple slices and a few more pieces of cheese. Top with second slice of bread, buttered side up. Grill on both sides of the bread until golden and the cheese is melted. Remove to a plate and cut sandwich in half on the diagonal. Serve immediately. Serves 1.


Monday, December 27, 2010

216. Linguine,Shrimp, Fennel and Orange Sauce, Mediterranean Flavor

You may have heard of fennel, but you  might not have seen or tasted it. Part of the problem is that fennel is not always a mainstream vegetable in the US. When I tried to purchase it at a local grocery store, the produce workers did not even know what it  looked like and the manager told me the store never carried it. So much for shopping in the Ozarks. (I finally found fennel at a different store; a picture of it is at the end of this post).

For the uninitiated, fennel is a vegetable that has a heavy, cream-colored bulb with tubular stalks growing out of it. The stalks have feathery green leaves branching off of them. To get the best flavors, you may want to grow it in your own vegetable garden. (How-to-grow-fennel link at end of post).

Fennel has many great properties and the following website link is an excellent source for information concerning it and other foods:
The website's name is World's Healthiest Foods. It is well worth investigating.

Select fennel with care.The bulbs should be firm and solid and not bruised.  Both the stalks and the leaves will be green in color. If there are flowers on the stalks, this would indicate that the bulb was too old when harvested; pass it by. Fresh fennel will be fragrant and smell slightly of anise. Fennel can be found in the autumn and throughout the winter months.Fennel should be consumed as soon as possible after purchase as it tends to lose its flavor when held too long.

I know that my mother never cooked with fennel, but I would not have been surprised if my Italian  grandmother had used it is definitely a vegetable used by Mediterranean cooks.

Years ago when I finally bought one of the fascinating fennel bulbs, I was slightly intimidated...I did not know what it tasted like or if I would like to eat it. What I did have was the recipe below, so I took the plunge. This recipe's delicate flavors combined with orange and shrimp plus the comforting aspects of linguine were wonderful. I added a few of my own ingredients to make this dish really pop with eye appeal and flavor.

Linguine, Shrimp, Fennel and Orange Sauce

8 oz fresh or frozen peeled deveined shrimp
8 oz linguine
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced
1 T olive oil
1 C chicken broth
1-2 T cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp finely grated orange peel
¼ C orange juice
1-2 oranges, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced
Black olives, sliced
1/2 C fresh mushrooms, sliced
Pepper blend, to taste
1 green onion, thinly sliced

Clean shrimp and set aside. In a large saucepan, cook pasta until almost tender.Add shrimp. Return to the boil and reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for 1-3 minutes more or until shrimp is cooked and pasta is tender but al dente. Drain. Return the linguine and shrimp to saucepan. Cover and keep warm.

In a med. saucepan add oil over med heat. When hot, toss in sliced fennel and stir fry for for 3-5 min. or until tender crisp. Halfway through the cooking process, add the sliced mushrooms and saute with the fennel.

 Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together chicken broth and cornstarch. Add grated orange peel and orange juice. Pour broth mixture into fennel saucepan after the fennel and mushrooms have reached the tender-crisp stage. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Add orange slices and salt to taste, stir. Taste and adjust salt if necessary. Add as many sliced black olives as you like.

Pour fennel sauce over pasta mixture; mix gently until linguine is well coated. Transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle servings with green onion and pepper blend. 4 servings.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

215. Old-Fashioned Cream Caramels, Special

For some reason making candy was not my mothers favorite kind of cooking. Over the years, we were treated infrequently to homemade chocolate fudge, penuche, divinity, peanut brittle, peanut clusters and a very special, old-fashioned cream caramel. Of all the candies mentioned, those exceptional caramels were my favorite.

The time and cost involved in making candy is not insignificant and in my kitchen, I only make what I like. Even though I love dark chocolate, I do not care for or make fudge. I did not like penuche, either. Peanut brittle tastes great, but I worry about what it does to the enamel on my teeth so that treat is off my list! Divinity is too temperamental and while I do make peanut clusters, they are quite ordinary. Old-fashioned Cream Caramels, on the other hand, are so wonderful and special it actually pains me to share them.

The recipe is simple enough but, a candy thermometer is a must unless someone is quite adept at using the 'ball testing' method. Good ingredients are essential and about an hour's worth of time is required for the actual measuring, mixing and cooking. This candy is so much more than any caramel sold in stores...I make them every Christmas and I actually do share...some of them!

Old-Fashioned Cream Caramels

1/2 C pecans, finely chopped (optional)
2 C sugar
1/2 C butter
3/4 C corn syrup, light (this means light colored not lite, or low sugar)
1/2 C light cream (20%)

Prepare an 8x8x2 inch pan by greasing it well. Spread chopped nuts evenly over the bottom. Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and half of the cream in a large saucepan. Fix a candy thermometer to the inside of the pan. Do not let the bottom end of the thermometer touch the bottom of the pan. Bring ingredients to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add remaining cream and stir well and continue cooking.

Stir occasionally until candy reaches 245 degrees or until a small amount of the mixture forms a firm ball when dropped in very cold water. This process will take about 45 minutes. The last 10 degrees will rise very quickly so watch the thermometer closely!

Immediately remove pot from heat. Carefully, spread mixture evenly over nuts in prepared pan. Cool.

With a buttered knife, cut caramel into squares and place on buttered waxed paper rectangles (6.5 x 4).  Roll up and twist ends. Makes about 50 pieces. Store in a sealed container.

Note: the knife will have to be buttered frequently to avoid sticking while cutting through the caramel. Only cut one row of caramel at a time as it tends to shift slightly. Be sure to butter waxed paper rectangles or the caramel will stick to it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

214. Fruit-Cake Bread, Better than Good!

My mother made the most delicious fruitcake I have ever tasted. In fact, it was the only fruitcake that I thought tasted good enough to actually eat! Her recipe produced a white fruitcake with just the right amount of meaty nuts, sweet, glazed fruit and unbelievable flavors that gave Mother's cake its signature taste; it was beyond wonderful. She always made her fruitcake in a tube pan and once a year around Christmas time, we were treated to those fruit-filled slices.

After an unfortunate move, however, it was all too evident that the all of Mother's written recipes had been lost. Much to our disappointment...Mother never made fruitcake again. For years, I poured over dozens of cookbooks and on-line recipes and also tasted forgotten numbers of  fruitcakes...some made by me and some by others. All lived up to the universal reputation that most fruitcake was nothing more than a baked door stop. Needless to say, they ended up in the trash.

I had almost given up on making anything even resembling a fruitcake when I stumbled upon the recipe for Fruit Cake Bread. It is a cross between a fruitcake and a quick bread. This combination makes it lighter than traditional fruitcake and yet, it retains the flavor that makes a real fruitcake fragrant and tempting.

Because most I know people 'run for the hills' when fruitcake is mentioned, I tried this little treat out on several unsuspecting people by not mentioning the word 'fruitcake' and they not only loved it, they all came back for more.

Fruit Cake Bread keeps well and is delicious refrigerated. Please don't be mislead by the label...this is not your mother's fruitcake!

Fruit-Cake Bread

1 1/2 C sugar
1 1/3 C water
3 medium carrots, finely grated
1 C raisins
1 T butter
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder

1 C chopped pecans

1 C glazed fruit

Put first six ingredients in a saucepan. On medium heat, bring to a boil; turn down to low and simmer fro 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover pot and let stand overnight or for at least 12 hours.

Add baking soda to the mixture to dissolve; add flour, salt and baking powder. Fold in nuts and glazed fruit, mixing well until ingredients are evenly blended. Pour batter into 2 well-greased loaf pans, a tube pan or 6 mini-loaf pans. Bake at 275 degrees for 2 hours for the larger pans or 1 hour for the mini-pans or until the top of the bread springs back when pressed gently.

Cool and wrap and refrigerate. This bread gets even better as it ages.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

213. Cinnamon-Apple Pastry Rolls, Like Strudel

The first time my dad brought apple strudel home from the bakery, I thought it was one of the best things I had ever tasted. I loved the paper-thin pastry layers and the sweet apple filling. Strudel was actually hard to find in our small town and when it was available, people bought it up quickly. If my dad did not get out early on a Saturday morning, whatever strudel had been for sale would be long gone.

My mother told us about the pastries that she ate in Europe during and after WWII. Strudel was made in many countries, including Germany, where she and my dad met. I know that my mother never made this delicate pastry...according to her, strudel making was an art and she just did not have the patience to go through all the steps it took to create that amazing flaky pastry.

I hate to admit that I have shied away from making strudel...too much work and all that but, I did test out the recipe for the pastry rolls detailed below. The buttery crust is flaky and light and the apple filling is wonderful. This pastry has three steps, reminds me of strudel and is a wonderful dessert or breakfast pastry. The dough could be held overnight and rolled, filled and baked the next morning...what a treat for a lucky family!

Cinnamon-Apple Pastry Rolls

1 stick plus 3 1/3 T butter, softened
1/2 8 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
1 egg yolk
1 cup flour
3 golden delicious apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
3/4 C cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, and egg yolk; beat until smooth. Add flour and mix well. Form into a ball, cover and refrigerate.

2. In a saucepan, add apples sugar and cinnamon; mix well. Cover and simmer over low heat until apples are tender. Juice will form as the apples cook down. Do not let apples burn. When apples are cooked, remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Remove apples from a slotted spoon, leaving juices in saucepan.

3. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide evenly into three pieces. Roll each into a ball and flatten them. Roll one portion of dough on a floured board into a 10x13 inch rectangle. Place 1/3 of the apple mixture evenly over the rectangle. Starting at a short end, roll the dough carefully toward the other short end. Lift roll and place, seam-side down in a greased baking pan; tuck ends under. Continue process with remaining dough and apples.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until brown. Lightly tent with foil if top starts to over-brown.
Cool pan on wire rack.

Cut each roll into 5 or 6 pieces, each. Serve warm or cover and refrigerate for later use.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

212. Lasagna Rolls, Mouth Watering, (V, G)

Lasagna is a comfort food and my mother made terrific lasagna. The fragrance as it baked was unmistakable and the big pan of Italian goodness could be counted on to feed our family for at least two generous meals. A lasagna dinner made everyone feel satisfied and wonderful.

My own lasagna is patterned after my mother’s. I use the same cheeses and make my own meat sauce. I layere it as she did and bake it so the fragrance fills my home, just like hers.

Sometimes, though, a good idea comes along that is too good to pass up. Lasagna Rolls is one of those. This recipe has the essence of lasagna, but eliminates some of the work. My version, makes use of vegetables and the meatless sauce is actually from a jar. I love the fact that there is no complicated layering and each roll becomes a generous serving. Served with a fruit salad and a nice piece of Italian bread, this is a mouth-watering meal to love.

Lasagna Rolls

8 lasagna noodles, cooked, drained and set aside (use gluten-free noodles for a gluten-free meal)
6-7 medium mushrooms, sliced
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
½ C sweet onion, chopped
1 T olive oil
1 (15-18 oz) jar marinara sauce (Trader Joes Traditional Marinara)
1 ½ C cottage cheese
1 C Parmesan cheese, grated
1 ½ C broccoli, steamed and chopped
1 ½ C mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
1 large egg, beaten
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a pan on medium-high heat and add olive oil. When oil is hot, add mushrooms, onion and garlic. Sauté until vegetables are tender. Add marinara sauce and mix well. When heated through, remove pan from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, broccoli, 1 C mozzarella cheese, egg, salt and pepper. Mix well. Spread ½ C cheese mixture evenly on each lasagna noodle. Starting at the short end, roll each noodle and place, seam side down, on a greased 2 qt. or 8x11.5 baking dish.

Pour marinara sauce mixture over the top of the rolls. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Top with remaining ½ C mozzarella cheese, and bake for 5 more minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

This dish may be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until needed. Allow 10 minutes more baking time.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

211. The Best Chili, My Recipe

I loved my mother's chili and thought I knew how she made it but, I never asked her for the recipe. After years of trial and error, I figured out the formula for a great chili recipe that is equal to Mother's. This dish, which I have been making for over 35 years, uses ground beef and is less hot than many recipes.

Chili is such a versatile dish. It can be served in a bowl and accompanied by crackers or a slice of bread or it can become the base for the inventive eater who adds topping after topping until little chili is left to be seen. Chili dogs and Mexican Meat Cups (#51) are easy, fun meals that make use of chili and many potato bars serve chili as one of the favored toppings; chili also makes a delicious and comforting soup if thinned out with broth.

 In the past few years, I have learned how to preserve the sauce in jars using a pressure canner. There is something comforting about seeing all those jars of my own chili sauce lined up on the shelves. After opening a jar, I simply add beans and reheat. Chili also freezes well.

I have made my chili in huge batches for church luncheons and it has been well received. My kids have made it for their family and friends and everyone loved it...this is a great chili recipe!

Diane's Chili for a Crowd

(The recipe amounts may be decreased to make a smaller batch)

2 ½ lb. ground beef                          1 C chopped green pepper
3 Med. onions, chopped                  1 tsp salt
2 Large garlic cloves chopped fine   3 C water
3 Ribs celery – chopped fine           1, 16 oz can tomatoes, chopped
1 T cumin                                        2 large cans kidney beans, drained    
2 T or less chili powder                    (I often use light and dark beans for color variety) 
½ T oregano                                                            

Brown beef with garlic and onion together in a large pan. Pour off grease. Add all other ingredients except kidney beans. Simmer covered 1 hour. Add beans and heat through. Note: taste and adjust salt and chili powder. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Chili is one of those recipes that actually tastes better the next day.
This chili freezes well. The sauce may also be canned according to pressure canning directions. Add beans to the canned chili after opening.

Optional toppings: sour cream, grated cheese, avocado, taco chips, black olives or chopped tomato.

Friday, December 17, 2010

210. Peach Ice Deluxe, True Essence

Sunny, hot days and a juicy, fresh peach are reasons to love summer! Then, there are all those lovely things you can make with peaches like peach pie, peach cobbler, peaches and cream...and peaches on top of all kinds of things. While fresh peaches invariably make for a delightful eating experience, canned peaches always seem to lack something. Still...if you have a bushel of peaches...something must be done with them and canning is usually the way to go.

After having canned a good supply of fresh peaches and thinking, "Now what?"...I was happy to find a wonderful and easy way to make use of them that brought out their true essence and flavor. Peach Ice Deluxe can bring that special summer flavor into a dark, winter day by using fresh, frozen  or canned peaches. It makes a refreshing after-meal treat or mid-day snack and is reminiscent of Italian ice or sorbet. The rum flavoring gives this peach ice that little bit extra that makes it deluxe.

This dish may be increased for more servings or even decreased to serve only one!

 Peach Ice Deluxe

2 fresh peaches, peeled, pitted  and sliced (canned peaches may be substituted)
1/2 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp rum flavoring (optional)
2 T Splenda (sugar may be substituted)
1/4 C Soy milk, vanilla flavored

Freeze sliced peaches in a single layer. Place frozen peaches and the remaining ingredients in a blender or Vita Mix. Process until smooth. Spoon into small cups and serve immediately or freeze until later. May be topped with additional fresh or frozen peach slices. Serves 2

Thursday, December 16, 2010

209. Cucumber-Avocado Salad, Gintare's Recipe

I just love it when someone prepares and serves food that is different and wonderful. It makes it even more of a treat when the recipe is not complicated and can be replicated without much effort.

My daughter-in-law, Gintare, treated us to a salad that fit into this category of wonderfulness. The dish she made consisted of fresh, cubed ingredients and a simple dressing.

The flavor blend of this Cucumber-Avocado Salad is delicate yet satisfying and refreshing. I love the introduction of the mozzarella is uncomplicated, slightly salty and perfect with the other ingredients.

I have served this dish as a tasty appetizer, a side-salad and have even fixed it for myself as the entrée for a light evening meal...

Cucumber-Avocado Salad

6-8 grape tomatoes, quartered
1/4-1/3 C mozzarella, cut into small cubes
1/2-3/4 C cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
Juice from 1/2 lemon
3-4 T extra virgin olive oil
Pepper blend of your choice

Cut all vegetables as indicated on list above and place in a mixing bowl. Add lemon juice and olive oil. Mix gently. Sprinkle with pepper blend and a dash or two of salt. Blend gently and taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve as a side dish for 4 or as an entree for two.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

208. Twice-Baked Potatoes, Deluxe

In  the 1980s twice-baked potatoes became a new favorite in restaurants, mall food-courts and in people's homes.  Although beyond-the-basic's potato recipes had been around for more than 100 years, this type of potato was not something I had ever tasted until resurfaced in the 80s.

Potatoes are a staple in many American homes and are usually very inexpensive in the fall and winter months. Whether they are Red, russet, white, gold or yellow, potatoes satisfy and comfort on cold days and nights.

For an extra special meal, I will make Deluxe Twice-baked Potatoes and serve it as the entree along with fresh fruit or a salad.

Deluxe Twice Baked Potatoes

4 medium russet potatoes, washed
1/4 C milk or sour cream ( or Greek style yogurt)
2 T butter or margarine
1/4 C chopped green onions
Pepper blend, to taste
1/4 C shredded Cheddar cheese

Optional: Bacon bits, to taste or several tablespoons of cooked, chopped broccoli

Margarine or butter

Bake potatoes in oven until tender or use a potato sack and bake in the microwave. Cut a slice from the top of each cooked potato. Carefully scoop insides out of each potato leaving enough potato inside to maintain the potato shape. Reserve shells. Mash potato pulp well and mix in butter until smooth. Add sour cream and ingredients of choice. Mix well. Divide mixture between the potatoes and stuff into shells. Top potatoes with more shredded cheese. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes until tops are browned.
Cheese chips: Drop a few teaspoons of cheese on the hot baking sheet in the oven. The cheese will melt and brown into chips. Remove. Garnish tops of potatoes with cheese chips for a more deluxe looking potato.

Serve immediately with margarine or butter if desired.

Optional toppings: a variety of cheeses may be substituted or combined with cheddar.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

207. Pineapple-Coconut Pancakes, Tropical

Canned goods can sometimes be a problem especially if a recipe only calls for the partial use of them. I don't know how many times my frugal nature has lead me to save a partial can of something with no real idea about what to do with it. On the other hand if necessity truly is the mother of invention, many new recipes have probably evolved because of the need to use up something.

This is what I faced when I realized that the recipe for Kiwi Smoothie, (post #204), only called for the use of part of a can of coconut milk…not a regular  ingredient on my shopping list. None of my collection of recipes called for coconut milk; I could have just poured the remaining milk down the drain and been happy with the 'out-of-sight, out-of-mind' way of thinking, but my nature to save...would not let me do that.

My new goal was to figure out how to simply and easily use the rest of that can of coconut milk. I came up with a great pancake recipe that is not only easy to make…it made a December breakfast seem tropical and lovely.

I like my pancakes to be almost as thin as crepes...the ratio of liquid to pancake mix, obviously dictates that feature. Because Krusteaz has dried milk already in the mix, all I needed to do was to add more water to create the thin, delicate pancakes that I enjoy.

Pineapple-Coconut Pancakes

2 C Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancake Mix
1/2 C coconut milk
1 C water (more if desired)
1/2 C crushed pineapple

Mix above ingredients to just blend. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Spoon desired amount of batter onto a hot, greased griddle. Cook until bottom is golden and top is set. Flip pancake and cook second side until it is evenly browned. Remove to a warm platter and continue making pancakes with remaining batter. Top with more pineapple, butter and syrup.

Monday, December 13, 2010

206. Salmon Patties, Revisited

My mother made salmon patties for us when she was too busy or tired to make something more more complicated. It was a meal we ate because it was in front of us, but I don't remember any of us begging her to make salmon patties!

I am sure that her recipe had been handed down from her mother or definitely was an economical,  meal-stretching food combination...add more potatoes and it served more people.

As I became the captain of my own kitchen and listened to the likes and dislikes of my growing family, I usually made this dish with white albacore tuna, ( post # 3), instead of salmon...and my family loved it. If butter or margarine was put on top of the hot, cooked patties...they tasted even more wonderful.

I fianlly decided to revisit this family recipe and use salmon, and I found out that I love this dish even more than when I make it with tuna. I guess the moral of this story is...don't judge food by what a kid says about it!

Salmon Potato Patties

1-2 C potatoes, (mashed, coarsely chopped or shredded)
1 (6 oz) salmon, drained
1/4 C green pepper, chopped
1/4 C celery, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 eggs
Vegetable oil

Combine first 5 ingredients and eggs Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use. Shape into patties and fry in a hot pan coated with oil until each side is golden brown. Transfer to serving plates and top with butter or margarine to patties. Serves 2.

Side dishes: tossed salad, buttered vegetables, baked beans.

Friday, December 10, 2010

205. Egg Foo Young, Fun to Pronounce

Because of my dad's job in the wholesale liquor business, my parents took us out to eat frequently at the restaurants that were his accounts. We were lucky to have a large variety of great places to visit and I especially loved it when an Oriental restaurant was selected.

Names of the dishes were exciting to think about and often fun to pronounce. Chinese pepper steak, lemon chicken, sesame chicken, Kung Pao chicken, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Szechuan pork, sweet and sour pork, stir fried shrimp with cashews, egg foo young, fried rice, egg rolls, spring rolls, fortune cookies...the list was endless. Meals were always served with more than generous helpings of wonderful white and fried rice...I love rice, it is a comforting accompaniment.

The first time my parents ordered egg foo young, I had no idea what to expect...It was served as a side dish to the entree. The flavors were wonderful and that is where I also had my introduction to bean sprouts and the amazing water chestnut...a sweet, crunchy vegetable. Egg foo young tastes wonderful and is an economical way to use up left over vegetables and meat...

The ingredients for egg foo young can determine the overall taste of this dish and the recipe for today's post lists vegetables that I like. The shrimp is optional. I love water chestnuts, so I used the whole can; the bean sprouts are a must.

I serve the finished pancakes on top of fragrant rice, which I love for its flavor and fluffy quality. This rice can also be fried, but I am usually so hungry by the time the pancakes are cooked, all I want to do is assemble, serve and eat. The sauce is also very important to this dish; actually...I think it makes the dish!

Egg Foo Young

8 oz fresh mung bean sprouts or 1 can bean sprouts
¼ C celery, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 - 8oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained
9 cooked shrimp
1/4 C carrots, sliced into matchsticks (optional)
1/4 C chopped green pepper

Optional chopped vegetables: mushrooms, bamboo shoots, chopped steamed broccoli, chopped steamed cauliflower

4-5 eggs, beaten until frothy

3-4 C hot, cooked rice

Gravy recipe (below)

1. Make a pot of rice and keep warm. (See post #30 for perfect Basmati Rice directions)

2. Rinse and drain sprouts, ( pressing out water if canned). Mix well with all other vegetables and shrimp in a large bowl. Add eggs. If necessary, add a fifth egg. Mixture should be well surrounded by eggs. Mix lightly. Heat griddle or frying pan, med/hot temperature. Spray with non-stick coating. At once pour ¼ C of mixture for each omelet into a greased griddle or frying pan. (The picture shows that I had added a little chopped turkey ham, but it overpowered the shrimp flavor and I did not like it). Pull egg back to mixture with spatula when it starts to spread away from vegetables.

Cook until well set and brown on 1 side (3 or 4 min). Turn over carefully with spatula, ( use a large spatula to try to keep each pancake in one piece; brown second side, pressing down slightly if necessary. Avoid turning more than once. Remove to a plate and keep warm. Continue making pancakes.


3 C boiling water
4 tsp beef bouillon or 4 cubes
1/4 C margarine or butter
1/4 C corn starch
1 T soy sauce
1 tsp Gravy Master

3. Combine boiling water with  instant beef bouillon. Stir to dissolve. Let stand to lukewarm, (or set pot in a pan of cold water to hasten the process). In another saucepan, melt butter or margarine, add cornstarch and blend well; add lukewarm stock very slowly, stirring constantly. Cook until thick; simmer 5 min. Add soy sauce and Gravy Master.

To assemble: Divide rice portions on plates. Place 2 patties on top of rice on each plate. Ladle gravy generously over patties. Serve immediately. Makes 8 pancakes, 4 servings. (If this is to be a side dish, allow 1 pancake per serving).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

204. Kiwi Smoothie, Green Food

I remember the first time I saw kiwifruit for sale at the grocery store. Several  had been cut open and small samples were being handed out for shoppers to try. The fruit had such an unusual color and overall look, that few people passed up the chance to taste this 'down-under' delicacy.

For years I ate kiwi by peeling and slicing the oval-shaped fruit into quarter-inch circles. For me, it was a fruit to be used in salads and in fruit desserts. I hardly ever ate one by itself until the day I bought a large box of them and found a plastic spoon/knife included in the box.

The instructions on the untensil wrapper indicated that the kiwi was to be sliced crosswise with the knife-end and then the flesh was to be spooned out with the spoon-end and eaten. What a simple, easy way to enjoy this vitamin-packed fruit. Since then, we buy kiwi in bulk packs and eat them as a side dish or as a snack.

Kiwi Smoothie is another way to enjoy this green is refreshingly delicious!

(The ice makes this smoothie very cold...beware of 'brain-freeze'. Allow to melt slightly if desired).

Kiwi Smoothie

¼ cup Coconut milk
¼ cup Sugar
2 Kiwi Fruits
2 cups ice, crushed

 Peel and slice kiwi fruit.
 Blend the chopped kiwi with sugar, coconut milk and crushed ice in a blender or Vita Mix.
 Pour it into two glasses. Serve immediately. Serves 2.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

203. Malted-Pecan Cookies, Crisp

I am always amazed at the seemingly endless choices we have in our American grocery stores. While I know that space is only allotted to items that continue to sell well because it is too expensive to stock things that no one buys…I often wonder who uses or purchases all that stuff that I would never buy?

Unless a new product catches my interest, I shop according to my list and only my list. I do not usually let impulsive buying sway me from my target items. The only exceptions to this unwritten shopping rule are tempting fruits or vegetables and, sometimes, a beautiful loaf of bread.

My husband, on the other hand, is forever fighting the urge to buy sweets. The last time he stopped at a Trader Joe’s on his way back from Chicago, he bought 6 or 7 boxes of cookies. What was even more amazing…he said they were all for me! While I do like a good cookie, most of the time, I bake them myself.

The recipe for Malted-Pecan Cookies produces a delicious cookie with a crisp outside and a tender interior. It makes almost perfectly round cookies and has one very unusual ingredient. I love the flavor of this is amazing!

Malted-Pecan Cookies

1 C shortening (Crisco)
¾ C packed brown sugar
1/3 C sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp chocolate syrup

2 ¼ C flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

2 C malted milk balls, crushed
½-3/4 C pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream softened shortening with sugars in a large mixing bowl until well blended. Add egg, chocolate syrup and vanilla; combine thoroughly.

In a small bowl, mix together next three ingredients. Add to sugar mixture and stir well.

Coarsely chop malted milk balls in a blender or Vita Mix. Add to cookie mix. Stir in chopped nuts; blend evenly.

With hands, form 1-inch balls and place two inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Allow cookies to rest for 3 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Store in a sealed container. The malted milk flavor is more intense the next day. Yield: 5 ½ dozen.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

202. Classic Egg Bread, Yellow-Hued

Italian and French breads, typically, do not have any eggs in their ingredients.These breads are white with a crisp-crust and have a light texture and tend to be dry. Egg breads, on the other hand, have a moist and somewhat dense interior with a yellow hue.

Egg bread dough is often made into holiday sweet breads, Hawaiian breads and sweet rolls. When made into Classic Egg Bread, slices of this loaf are wonderful companioned with honey or butter. I also love egg bread served with a hot bowl of chili or soup, toasted for a BLT or saved back for a day or two to make a delicious French toast.

(I allow this bread to rise more than double to insure an even, lighter texture).

Classic Egg Bread

3/4 C warm water
3 T sugar
3 T vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 C bread flour
2 1/4 tsp dry yeast

Place all ingredients in a bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle for best results. After cycle is finished, remove dough and roll out on a floured board. Roll dough to form a loaf. Place into a greased loaf pan. Cover and let dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Bake bread in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until done. Bread may be tented with foil if top browns too quickly. Remove pan from oven and carefully release bread onto a wire rack. Stand upright to cool. Slice and enjoy.

Monday, December 6, 2010

201. Pork Birds and Mushroom Gravy, Elevated

I love sage dressing with freshly baked turkey and hot, mashed potatoes covered in creamy, brown is a mouth-watering combination. I have also enjoyed this satisfying side dish with baked chicken or pork chops. It can even be blended with broth to thicken hearty soups. Sage dressing is definitely a flavorful companion dish.

Long ago, one of my sons made a slightly different sandwich with leftovers from Thanksgiving. He put dressing on a slice of bread and then loaded sliced turkey on top of that and finished it off with another piece of bread. Although a dressing sandwich is not lo-cal, the taste is amazing; I just have to have one every November!

Another way to enjoy sage dressing is to make little pork birds. The meat is wrapped around the dressing and tied in place to form little bird-like shapes. This recipe can elevate an inexpensive piece of meat to become a gourmet treat.

Pork Birds and Mushroom Gravy

2 boneless pork chops or steaks
1 C sage dressing (recipe #172)
Pepper blend
Olive oil

Remove as much fat from pork as possible. Pound each piece to flatten and thin-out slightly. Place dressing in the middle of both pieces of meat. Fold meat around the dressing and tie together with string or fasten with toothpicks so that meat surrounds dressing and the edges meet. Even small pieces of meat may be stitched together with toothpicks to form the outside of the bird. (I used toothpicks and string...actually, I did not have any string and used pieces of unflavored dental floss).

Heat a frying pan on med-high heat. Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add pork birds and brown on all sides, turning carefully with tongs. When browned, salt and pepper to taste and add water come half-way up the sides of the birds. Turn down heat and cover pan. Simmer for 40 minutes or until meat is tender. Turn birds after 20 minutes. (Prepare mushroom gravy, below, during the  last 20 minutes of cooking). Remove cooked birds and set aside. Spoon out any fat from pan.
Mushroom Gravy

1/2 C sliced mushrooms
3 T margarine
3 T flour
1 C chicken broth

Heat a small pot on med-high heat. Add margarine. When melted, turn heat down to low and blend in flour. Stir continually for 1 minute. Add broth gradually, stirring while liquid is added. Gravy will thicken as it cooks. Add sliced mushrooms and allow to simmer until tender. Remove from heat.

Add gravy to juices in the frying pan and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Remove string and toothpicks from meat and slice. Serve little birds with gravy.

Friday, December 3, 2010

200. Clam Dip, Tradition (G)

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. My love for the day was engrained in me because, as a child, our celebratory traditions were kept intact from one year to the next. Holidays were more than just a break from school. It was family time, an infusion of festive colors, wonderful cooking, sometimes a few gifts and the knowledge that the special day could be counted on.

Our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners started with pre-dinner foods and beverages. Mother would lay out a table with cider or egg nog and shrimp cocktail. What I remember most, however, was the clam dip. I thought everyone in the family loved clam dip but, decades later my father told me he never cared for it.

Clam dip is always on my Thanksgiving and Christmas Day menu. My children have asked for the recipe because, unlike my dad, they love it as much as I do. With only two ingredients, it is more than simple and can be increased quite easily.

 Clam dip can be made ahead of time, but be careful, someone might be tempted to eat most of it before the big day!

Mother's Clam Dip

1 package cream cheese (not reduced calorie or reduced fat)
1 can minced clams

Ripple Potato Chips

Put cream cheese into a small bowl and bring to room temperature. Drain clams and reserve juice. Add minced clams to cream cheese and mix well. Slowly add juice to cheese mixture, stirring after each addition. Continue until all of the juice is used. Spoon clam dip into a decorative bowl and add a dash of paprika in the center of the dip. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve with rippled potato chips and cut vegetables.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

199. Blackberry Dessert, Not Too Sweet (G, V)

Years ago, a neighbor brought me a big bowl of freshly picked blackberries. Even though I did not particularly care for them, I accepted her gift and decided to bake them into a berry pie. Unfortunately, I did not like the blackberry pie.  I wanted to like it - but, the flavor did not appeal to me.

My husband - on the other hand - loves blackberries and buys them fresh and frozen.  He snacks on them, puts them on his cereal on pancakes and in smoothies - he never tires of their flavor.

Although I am the dictator of most food choices in our home and it isn't often I use food ingredients I don't care for, I decided to try another blackberry dessert recipe guaranteed to appeal to my husband.

The dessert is not overly sweet and the berries blend well with the toasted, buttery bread and whipped topping. This is an old-fashioned dessert and a similar recipe was most likely common during the Depression Era. I liked it!

Blackberry Dessert

6 T margarine
8 slices stale (gluten-free) bread, crust removed torn into 1-inch pieces

1 can blackberries (15 oz) (not pie filling)
2 ½ tsp cornstarch
1 ½ tsp sugar
½ tsp vanilla
2 T margarine

Whipped topping, optional

In a pan, melt 6 T margarine. Add torn bread pieces; cook and stir on med/low heat until lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

Drain syrup from blackberries into a saucepan. Add cornstarch and stir to dissolve; add remaining ingredients including margarine. Stir and bring to a boil. Stir and boil for 2 minutes and then remove from heat.

Cool for 5-10 minutes before adding the drained blackberries. Divide bread mixture between 4 serving dishes and top with warm fruit mixture. Top with whipped topping if desired. 4 servings.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

198. Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread, Carrie K's recipe

Some food fragrances are so wonderful and comforting that people often use them to help sell a home. Baking bread  probably tops the list of those aromas. It suggests a mother's love, homey togetherness and family.

I love to bake bread in the fall and winter months. The warm oven not only adds a measure of heat to the colder corners of the house, but the fragrance is heavenly. Freshly baked bread  is wonderful with soup, savory spaghetti, a great stew or simply spread with butter and eaten by itself.

Many people, however, shy away from making bread. My mother was one of was too labor-intensive for her style of cooking...all that measuring, mixing, kneading, raising, more kneading and raising; and, sometimes after all that work, the loaf was less than great. I am sure this added to Mother's lack of baking enthusiasm.

A good recipe, a bread machine, quality ingredients and a desire to bake bread, however, can eliminate most, if not all the reasons to not bake bread.

Today's recipe makes two small,  lovely loaves or one regular-sized loaf. The recipe was given to me by a friend who also gave me a loaf to try out, (pictured below). I loved the flavor and texture. Wheat bread is not my favorite and the addition of oats and honey in this recipe help to tone down the intense wheat flavor inherent in most loaves of wheat bread. (Recipe is for hand-mixing; bread machine suggestion below).

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread

1 1/4 C low fat milk                                               1 1/2 C bread flour
2 T honey                                                              1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
2 T butter or margarine, softened                            1/3 C quick-cooking oats
2 tsp salt                                                                4 tsp yeast

* Heat milk to 80-90 degrees. Add honey, butter and yeast. Stir until yest is dissolved. Add one cup of bread flour to make a sponge. Let ingredients double in size. Add remaining flour, salt and oats (you may pulverize oats first for a more tender texture).

Knead dough until all flour has been has been worked into the dough. Grease hands and divide dough into two small bread pans or one regular-sized bread pan. Let loaves rise in a warm place until double or about an hour.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (small loaves) or 25-30 minutes (large loaf). When bread is finished baking, slip loaves from pans and allow to cool on rack. Brush top of warm loaf with butter if desired.

*If bread machine is used for mixing, follow manufacturer's directions.