Recipes

"Cover the meat with sour milk or buttermilk and store in a cellar. In areas where the nights are cool, hang the meat in the open from a tree so any breeze can pass around it. Make sure the meat is brought inside at dawn." ~ From a 19th century newspaper

More Cool Treats

Eagle eye

We’re still in a heatwave here and in need, more than ever, of cool, delicious drinks. If that describes you, here are some good ones. Again, we’re eyeballing all amounts. It gives you more reason to taste as you make them!

Lemon mint refresher–mix up some lemon juice, sugar, and water (think basic lemonade at this point). When sugar is dissolved, add a few drops of mint extract and lots of ginger ale. Serve over ice. This is a family favorite of many years.

Berry fizzle–I do this with fresh or frozen blackberries, but you can also do blueberries or raspberries. Boil the fruit with some sugar and water, and maybe some cinnamon and cloves. Let it cool, then strain it and discard pulp. Mix the resulting juice with lemon-lime soda for a unique flavor.

Homemade rootbeer–we make this every 4th of July. It is such a fun tradition. Mix around two pounds of sugar with around two gallons of water and around two ounces of rootbeer concentrate. Taste and adjust till you get the flavor just right, then dump in a couple pounds or more of dry ice. Now you can add carbonation with club soda, but that’s not as fun. If you have a local store that carries dry ice, it’s worth it to make this, the best all-American drink ever!

Happy 4th of July!

Cool Off With Creative Frozen Treats

Pina Colada Smoothie

It’s 100 degrees in my neck of the woods, and the mule is gettin’ tired treading round and round the circle to keep the A/C going. So I’m gonna share some of my cooling-off secret recipes with you. First, let’s get one thing straight. There are no amounts listed here. That’s because you’re supposed to eyeball everything so you can make it taste exactly right.

Let’s start with the best and simplest banana shake ever. If you have some bananas you want to save before they turn black, chunk ’em up and put ’em in the freezer. Then add ’em  to your blender with sugar and milk (2% is fine). It’s thick and cold and tastes decadent. It’s fine without anything else, but you can add vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg if you want to, or anything else that sounds like a good idea to you.

Here’s one that our family experienced at the Peace Tree in Moab, Utah. Just put however much watermelon, peaches, strawberries, and pineapple sherbet you want in your blender. We call it a Moab watermelon smoothie (name can be changed), but it’s a top-notch refresher.

And you know the Dole Whips for which Disney World is famous? Well, the first time I ever had one was at home, made in my blender. By the time I had my first real Dole Whip at the Aloha Isle in the Magic Kingdom, I actually thought mine was better. And it’s a lot cheaper too. Cut up some fresh pineapple (don’t even think of using canned for this), and blend it with sugar and little bit of lemon juice. Freeze that, and when it’s just partway frozen and slushy, fold in some whipped cream. Not till it’s all the way mixed, just when it’s sort of marbled. I just saved you a few thousand dollars on that one. You’re welcome!

More next week!

 

 

Quick Comfort Food for NaNoWriMo

For those of you who are busy as a bee with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in case you’re not familiar), I’m gonna help you get a quick and yummy dinner on the table tonight in record time. This recipe isn’t original to me, I cut it out of a utility company newsletter many, many years ago. It’s a great tummy warmer this time of year and our family loves it. And you will love how easy it is to make. Opening a bunch of cans never resulted in anything this good!

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

2 1/2 cups of any medium-sized tube pasta, cooked and drained

1 10-oz. can of chicken breast meat

1 15-oz. can of mixed vegetables, drained

2 cans of condensed cream of chicken soup

2 soup cans of milk

Mix it all together and heat through. That’s it! You’re welcome. 🙂

20 Years of Watermelon Gelato

St. Peter's Basilica

My husband and I just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. This year’s celebration had to be very low-key as he suffers from leukemia and will be undergoing chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant soon. But one thing that has always remained a constant in our marking of the day has been homemade watermelon gelato. How that tradition came to be is a story that is very special to me, and I’d like to share it with you, along with the recipe.

Our honeymoon to France and Italy overflowed with art, history, culture, and culinary pleasures, and one of the latter was the watermelon gelato we ate, no, experienced, at a gelateria across from the Trevi Fountain in Rome. (I hope that place is still there.) As we sat on the steps of an ancient church, also across from Trevi Fountain, and ate our gelato, we decided, once we returned home, to try to re-create the recipe with our new ice cream maker. It took a lot of experimentation. For instance, you can’t put too much pureed watermelon in as that is essentially water and will make the gelato ice-cube hard. Now I can’t promise that what we came up with tastes exactly like the stuff at the Trevi Fountain gelateria, but it is yummy stuff and has stood the test of time at our house every August for 20 years.

2 cups 2% milk

3/4 cup sugar

1 T. cornstarch

1/8 tsp. salt

2 eggs, separated

1 cup whipping cream

1/2 of a 3-oz. package of watermelon Jello

2 cups pureed watermelon

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium saucepan. Add milk and heat to very hot. Refrigerate egg whites for later. Beat egg yolks. Add one cup hot mixture to egg yolks, stirring constantly. Add all back into milk mixture and heat on medium, stirring constantly, to 160 degrees F. Cool two hours to overnight. Strain custard mixture. Beat egg whites till stiff peaks form. Whip cream, and add egg whites and cream to custard mixture. Add Jello and watermelon puree. Freeze in ice cream maker. Ripen in freezer. Enjoy a small taste of Italy!

The Old Cookie Press

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Ah, Christmas cookies, I could eat ’em all year. I have several good recipes and sometimes pick different ones to make each year, but one that I ALWAYS make is the one that uses my vintage 1950s Mirro Cooky and Pastry Press. It first belonged to my mother who used it every Christmas. When she stopped making cookies as much as I do, she gave it to me, and I treasure it.

Just like when I was a child, every year we have pink and green cookies shaped like Christmas trees, camels, pinwheels, and sunbursts. The recipe, included with the press, makes a lot of cookies, and it’s a good thing, because those little bite-sized morsels just pop in your mouth so quickly and easily.

Of course, they make electric cookie presses now, but to me, that wouldn’t be as fun. Putting some muscle power into twisting that handle and forcing out cookie dough brings a little old-fashioned Americana to our Christmas baking activities.

There are some interesting cookie tips with my press, which is still in its original box. The hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs hark back to the days when ladies card clubs were popular. For me, the hearts make good Valentine cookies, and the clubs serve as shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day.

If you’re lucky enough to have a cookie press, here is our recipe.

1 cup shortening

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. almond extract

2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

Green and red food coloring

Cream shortening and sugar well. Beat in egg and almond extract. Gradually blend in dry ingredients. Divide dough in half. Tint one half green, and the other half red. Fill cookie press and form cookies on ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with nonpareils and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

Comfort Food Week ~ Third Day

We’ve sure been enjoying our comfort food dinners and leftovers this week. For this recipe that we had the last couple days, Southern Macaroni and Cheese, I’m going to send you back to Sweet Tea and Cornbread. This version has some unusual things I wouldn’t have thought to put in my mac and cheese, but they mesh together and create such a perfect taste that it takes this American staple to a whole new level.

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For dessert, nothing says comfort food like good old-fashioned apple pie. I don’t measure anything, but basically what you do is, mix up a bunch, and I mean a bunch, of peeled, cored, sliced apples with real generous amounts of white sugar, brown sugar, a couple heaping tablespoons of flour, about a teaspoon of cinnamon, dashes of nutmeg and salt, and a good splash of lemon juice. Feel intimidated? Just taste the apple mixture and adjust the flavors how you want it. Put it in a pie plate lined with pie crust. The reason you want a bunch of apples is that you want to mound it up pretty high. It’ll shrink some during baking. Dot with butter, cover with the a top crust in which you cut some steam vents, and then paint the top with cream or half and half and sprinkle white sugar on it. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes to an hour. Let cool for at least an hour to give it time to gel. Good fall eating!

 

Comfort Food Week ~ Second Day

Another yummy Comfort Food Week dinner to report. Chicken noodle soup is an old American favorite, and this particular recipe, Silky Chicken Noodle Soup, is THE best in my family’s opinion. For this recipe, I’m just going to send you to my favorite food blog Sweet Tea and Cornbread. I make it exactly as they say.

For dessert, nothing says comfort food like bread pudding. Here’s our favorite, Caramel Bread Pudding.

1 stick of butter, melted

1 cup of brown sugar

Lots of slices of white bread

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Several dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg

Mix melted butter and brown sugar in bottom of 9 x 13 baking pan. Place a layer of white bread on top. Mix eggs, milk, and vanilla and pour half of it over bread, then sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Repeat layers. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

What are your favorite comfort food recipes?

Comfort Food Week ~ First Day

BreadsWhere I live we’re having crisp, cool autumn days now, which makes me think of nice, warm comfort food. So I announced to my family that this would be Comfort Food Week, and I picked out some of my favorite recipes to have for dinner this week. The first day we had Salisbury steak and mashed potatoes, with salad and rolls, followed by homemade, from-scratch banana pudding. Yum! I made enough to last two nights, so we won’t actually be having seven days of different things. And it was so good, it’s nice to be able to enjoy it for two dinners.

Here’s my Salisbury steak recipe:

Combine 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef, a small chopped onion, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon seasoned salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Form into 8 patties, cook in a couple tablespoons of oil till no longer pink, and drain. Mix together and add 2 cans beef consomme, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 4 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon basil. Cook and stir till gravy is thickened.

For my mashed potatoes, which is pretty basic and I don’t need to tell you that, I had a used-up bottle of Ranch dressing that still had a coating of dressing in the bottle that I didn’t want to waste. I poured about a half cup of milk into the bottle, replaced the lid, and shook it up really well, then poured that into the potatoes and whipped them. Great flavor.

I like my banana pudding with meringue on top instead of whipped cream, and here’s a link to a recipe like mine. Good stuff right there!

The Homeschool Lunch Lady

Easy Peasy Pizza

Often lunch at our house is microwaveable frozen dinners, chicken nuggets, spaghetti-O’s, and such. Don’t try to tell me that public school lunches are more healthy! But I am not going to cook at lunchtime and again at dinner. But it really is possible to break away from the usual without too much effort, so here’s some things that have been popular lunch offerings for us.

Mini Pizzas

Using the recipe found here, you can make several mini pizzas that can be frozen ahead, then popped in the oven and cooked just like a freezer pizza from the store.

Quesadillas

Between two flour tortillas you can put grated cheddar cheese and whatever leftover meat you have, or canned chicken or turkey, chopped green onions (optional), and then heat both sides in a non-stick pan tilled browned. Cut into six wedges and serve.

Egg Drop Soup

Heat two cups of chicken broth (or use chicken bouillon with water), add a quarter teaspoon each of garlic powder and ginger, an 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, and a teaspoon of cornstarch dissolved in a little water. When it’s hot, add a beaten egg and stir slowly and steadily till the cooked egg makes ribbons in the soup. Serve with chopped green onions if desired. A tummy warmer for a winter day.

Mac & cheese add-ins

The box mac & cheese, don’t be afraid of it. It’s good if you add a can of ham, a can of green beans, and if desired, a spoonful of French onion dip.

And must…have…dessert.

3-2-1 Cake

Mix one box of cake mix, any flavor, with a box of angel food cake mix. Store in a covered container in the pantry. When you want a serving, measure out 3 tablespoons of mix, 2 tablespoons of water, mix and cook for 1 minute in the microwave. It can be served plain or topped with frosting, fruit, and/or whipped cream. It’s as easy as 1,2,3.

Shortcake

Make a batch of pop-up rolls and serve them with a big spoonful of fruit cocktail and a dollop of whipped cream.

Bon appetit, homeschoolers!

Pina Colada Smoothie

Pina Colada Smoothie

We love fruit smoothies, and generally no recipe is needed. You just freeze any and all kinds of fruit (this way no fruit ever goes bad at our house). Then combine whatever fruits you prefer with some liquid in your blender: juice, nectar, milk. Yogurt is always a good add-in too, plain or flavored.

Need to feel some connection to tropical climes without actually traveling there? Try this for a yummy refresher. It’s our newest smoothie experiment that got raves. There’re no measurements for these things. You just adjust according to your own tastes.

Frozen pineapple (ours was from a fresh pineapple, but you can used canned)

Frozen chopped mango

Banana

13.5-oz. can of coconut milk

Sugar to taste

Blend till smooth and enjoy. A few drops of rum extract would probably be a great addition too.