Tuesday, March 31, 2009

From My Recipe Box To Yours

My Tried and True Recipes today include three of our family's favorites that I make, and my grandmother's cornbread recipe. The only one that includes a more expensive ingredient is the Sirloin Tips and Noodles, the rest are low cost recipes (well, as low cost as you get these days-it seems everything at the grocery store continues to go up).
I'll begin with Mammam's recipe for cornbread:

My Mammam was a great cook who made most of her meals without consulting a recipe, so I actually have few written recipes from her. Some I have simply because I would ask her to recite to me how she made something, and I would write it down; in fact, one of the old recipes that I found was done in a childish scrawl (I might have been 10 or 11) and has pictures doodled around it...on the back of an envelope. She was a no-nonsense cook who's delicacies included: homemade noodles, light rolls, and a lemon meringue pie that would" knock your socks off"! At holidays she would come bearing noodles that she had been drying on her kitchen table a day ahead. She was a person with a big personality and an even bigger heart...and man, could she cook!

Mammam's (Lina Michael's) Cornbread

1 C flour
1 C cornmeal
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 C milk (approximately)
1/4 C sugar (I added this to the original recipe)

Mix dry ingredients together. Break one egg into mixture and add 2 TBSP melted Crisco shortening. Have your oven very hot (400?) Bake until crisp on top.

Here's a great kitchen tip that I just received in one of my Dad's informative e-mails: A wet tea towel is just the right size to put out an oil fire on the stove! If oil catches fire in a pot on the stove- turn off the fire, soak a tea towel in water and wring it out, then throw it over the top of the pot. This will immediately squelch the fire. Don't move the pan; and whatever you do, don't throw water on it!

Marcia's Spicy Rice and Sausage

1 Pkg. Jimmy Dean's sausage (original recipe)
1 jar Ragu Roasted Garlic Sauce
1/2 C chopped onions
1/2 C chopped green pepper
olive oil
Aborio rice (or any long grain rice)

Cook rice and fluff.

Sauce: In large skillet, drizzle olive oil. Add peppers and onions and cook until tender. Add sausage and cook until browned. Add jar of garlic sauce. Simmer for 5 min. Pour over rice. Serve with crusty French bread. This is one of our favorites, especially in the winter.

Crockpot Sirloin Tips and Noodles

1 can French onion soup
1 can beef broth
1 pkg. Lipton Onion Soup

1 can water
1 lb. sirloin beef, cubed

1 C seasoned bread cubes (or crumbs)

Put everything except noodles in the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours, stirring it once in a while.
Cook noodles.
Thicken gravy in crock with a little white sauce.
Pour meat and gravy over noodles.

Cinnamon Rolls in a Snap!
(got this one from Taste of Home magazine when it first came out)

4 1/2 C biscuit mix
1 1/3 C milk

2 TBSP butter or margarine, softened
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 C raisins (optional)

2 C confectioners' sugar
2 TBSP milk
2 TBSP butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine biscuit mix and milk. Turn onto a floured surface; knead 8-10 times. Roll the dough into a 12"-10" rectangle. Spread with butter. Combine sugar, cinnamon and raisins; sprinkle over butter. Roll up from a long side; pinsh seam to seal. Cut into 12 slices; place with cut side down on a large baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 min. or until golden brown. Meanwhile, combine the icing ingredients; spread over rolls. Serve warm. Makes one dozen.

-Go to Blessedwithgrace for Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and more great recipe ideas! Also see Kitchen Tip Tuesday hosted by TammysRecipes.com

Monday, March 30, 2009

Food Prep Saves Me Time All Week

As I've mentioned before on here, Monday's my big laundry day that includes the sheets from all the beds and everything from the weekend (Mama don't do the wash on the weekend!). So Monday's the day that I roast a large piece of meat to use in 2 or 3 meals throughout the week, or 1 or 2 meals and sandwiches.

I neglected to mention something else that I do every Monday that saves me a lot of time and money-I prep as much food as I can for the week!For instance, today as I'm doing laundry, I'm also roasting chicken, and cooking the base for my Pasta Fagoli in the crock pot; that means that I have a head start on 3 meals this week. I also chop and bag (I use the Forever Green produce bags) all vegetables except tomatoes. I make 3-bean, broccoli, fruit salad, or any kind of salads ahead that won't go soft or gooey. At our house, these types of salads are used out of the fridge as snacks. If I were having any casseroles on my menu this week, I would prepare them today, also.

Any of the cooked " head starts" that can be done in your crock pot on Monday should be done that way, even if you have 2 or 3 crock pots going at once! You're saving time, energy (partially Yours!) and money. If you have the space to do it, once your soup bases or other goodies in the crocks cool down, just invert the glass lid and store them in the fridge, then you're ready to proceed on the day you're having that item (saves dishes and clean-up time, too).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Menu Plan for the Week

It' time for my Monday menu plan:

Monday, March 30

Chicken tacos
fruit salad

Tuesday, March 31

Pasta e' Fagioli
hot rolls

Wednesday, April 1

Smothered chicken with mushrooms*
broccoli with cheese sauce

Thursday, April 2

Waffles with fruit

Friday. April 3

Baked cod
baked potatoes with toppings
Caesar salad

Saturday, April 4

Irish oatmeal
wheat toast

We have a dinner to attend (Pot roast with carrots, potatoes and onions/biscuits for boys)

*Smothered Chicken with Mushrooms

One 3-lb. frying chicken, cut into serving pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
4 TBSP olive or vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 TBSP flour
2 C chicken broth
1 lb. fresh mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
1/4 C chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet (I like cast iron) heat the oil over high heat and brown the chicken pieces for 6 to 8 minutes, turning when necessary. Adjust the heat so that the chicken browns quickly, but does not burn. Transfer the chicken to a shallow casserole large enough to hold it in one layer.
Put the onions in the skillet and cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes, or until they are soft and transparent. Stir in the flour and mix it well with a spoon. Pour in the chicken broth and, stirring constantly, let it come to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the casserole, cover tightly, and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.
Scatter the mushrooms over the chicken, re-cover, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. Sprinkle the parsley over the top and serve.

From " The Supper Book" by Marion Cunningham Random House 1997

See Orgjunkie for more menu ideas!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Traditional Mexican Foods Cookbook

If you are a lover of traditional Mexican food, our Old Cookbook Review has a treat in store for you today! The book is Mexico Through My Kitchen Window by Maria A. De Carbia. Mrs. De Carbia was born in Mexico City of Spanish and French grandparents. She was educated in a French convent and then studied cooking in Mexico and the U.S. Her first cookbook was written in 1936 and is entitled, Marichu Va la Cocina (Little Mary Goes to the Kitchen). I believe it is written in Spanish. The book I'm reviewing today was published by Riverside Press in 1961. It's Library of Congress catalog number is 61-10785.
This is traditional Mexican food presented by a woman who grew up around it, so when she says, "use mortar and pestle" to make mole, you can get out your food processor, but it's interesting to read the original methods given in the book. A couple of the recipes include pigs ears and tongue; not something you're apt to find in the modern grocery store, but it just proves how traditional this book is!
As any good Mexican cook, Mrs. De Carbia knows her various types of peppers. The first coarse of action in this book is to give the reader a primer on chiles; everything from a pepper that's as small as a pea to larger varieties which can 'bring the heat'!
This book includes every traditional Mexican dish that I've ever heard of...and some that I haven't. The illustrations make the book even more interesting as a cultural piece. At the end of the book, there's even an index to explain the illustrations. I enjoyed the way she explains the Mexican holidays, as well. She wants the reader to understand the culture along with the food. It makes for an colorful cookbook read!

For our sample recipes I chose tamales because they are so popular around our area of the country (the Southwest) that people traditionally serve them on Christmas Eve. You can find them at most food buffets here, also. Tamales are a delicious blend of cornmeal, meat and a tomato-based sauce. Traditional tamales are wrapped in corn husks and cooked; when I first moved here, I often wondered why corn husks were sold in the produce section of the grocery store...now I know!

P.137 Fresh Corn Tamale

Fresh corn on the cob 12 ears
Lard (shortening) 4 TBSP
Flour 3 TBSP
Baking powder 1 tsp
Egg yolks 3
Salt to taste
Boiled chicken or boiled chicken breasts - 1 chicken or 3 breasts
Mole sauce (tomato sauce may be substituted) 3 C

Cut corn from cob and grind or grate. Heat lard and fry corn, stirring constantly antil transparent.
Remove from fire, add flour, baking powder and egg yolks and beat for a few minutes with wooden spoon.
Put half of this mixture in ovenproof dish or casserole, then cut- up deboned chicken, mixed with mole sauce (or tomato sauce). Cover with the other half of corn and bake in the oven until cooked. Insert a toothpick to test for doneness.

P. 209 Tamale Pie

Yellow cornmeal 2 C
Boiling water 6 C
Salt 1 tsp

Stir meal in boiling water (salted) until it begins to thicken. Cook slowly 30 min.

Ground meat (beef or any) 1 lb.
Onions chopped fine 2
Garlic 1 clove
Chicken fat or oil
Salt 1 tsp
Chili powder 2 TBSP
Red pepper pinch
Canned tomatoes (mashed) 2 C

Fry the meat, onions and garlic until golden brown in chicken fat or oil. Add dry ingredients and tomatoes and juice. Cook slowly for 1 hour. Line greased pan with half the cornmeal mush, pour meat sauce on mush, then cover wth the rest of mush. Bake in oven 1 hour at 350 degrees. Serves 4 to 6.

-Check out the recipe swap at Grocerycartchallenge today!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Macaroni Salad Recipe

Over the years, I've had various people ask for my macaroni salad recipe, and I thought this would be a handy place for me to keep it. Then, if someone asks-I just send them to my blog! Sometimes I enjoy technology... when it's not frustrating me to a primal scream (like when I accidentally forget to save 20 minutes-worth of work that gets deleted!). And you thought all the whining and complaining was only on the major network news!!
Yeah...Yeah...It's a cooking blog...enough of the computer-venting, already. Here's the salad recipe:

Marcia's Macaroni Salad

1 box medium macaroni seashells, cooked, drained, salt to taste, and cooled
6 eggs hardboiled; cooled and diced

1/2 C diced sweet pickle
1/4-1/2 C shredded carrot (depending on how much you like carrots)
1/2 C shredded American cheese slices

Mix these ingredients together and pour on the dressing. Combine until the macaroni is well-coated. Chill for several hours; actually gets even better on the second day!

2 C Miracle Whip
1 tsp mustard (more if you're a mustard fan)
a couple of TBSP of the sweet pickle juice from the jar
Gradually add enough cold water until you reach the consistency of bottled salad dressing that pours out. Mix into the macaroni mixture.
(I also love sliced green stuffed olives in this).

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring Cleanout of Pantry and Kitchen Cupboards

This morning I am doing the big Spring cleaning of my kitchen, which includes my floor-to-ceiling pantry and my cupboards that extend almost all the way to my high ceilings. The point here is that this job includes my trusty painter's ladder. It's nice to have all the extra space, but the height issue also leads to my forgetting what's been stashed on the top shelves, which are out of my sight
Who knows what's been sitting up there since the Fall cleaning marathon!
I've already started on my food pantry. This was my first coarse of action when I returned from the "school drop-off" this morning. It gave me my blog idea for the day. A little info card that I have posted on the inside of my pantry door; a Family Circle Magazine Extra (you know, the little booklets they insert in the magazine sometimes on a specific topic-so you can tear them out for later reference). It's from several years ago. The topic of this "Extra" was Speed Cooking. On one side it gives a list of "what to keep on hand to eliminate last-minute shopping trips". The other side of the card has a list of quick substitutions when you find that you're out of an ingredient.


Long grain rice
Dried breadcrumbs
Sugar-brown and granulated
Baking powder
Baking soda
Cream of tartar
Chicken and beef broth
Vegetable and olive oil
Tomato sauce
Canned tuna
Canned whole potatoes
Canned chili
Biscuit mix
Bay leaves
Chili powder
Italian seasoning


Grated Parmesan cheese
Nonfat sour cream
Worcestershire sauce
Lemon juice
Salad greens
Hot sauce


Ground beef and turkey
Assorted vegetables
Chicken cutlets
Tortellini (16 oz.)
Frozen shrimp
Pound cake

I hope that you find this list helpful when glancing around before a grocery shopping trip. There are several quick emergency meals and snacks that can be made if you have these items. I may include the list of substitutions in a future post. For now, I have to get back to my cleaning!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tried and True Recipe Box

I'm thankful to be here blogging on Tuesday morning! We had an evening of tornado watches, hail and wiiiind last night. I didn't get to see my Monday night T.V. shows because we weren't getting a signal on our dish, and when we did, it was all weather updates. Needless to say, we spent most of Monday night going back and forth to sit in our "safe" part of the house with our pillows to cover our heads. The "up side " to experiencing the precarious weather here is that it keeps you fully aware of who's "running the show"!
The great thing about blogging on Tuesdays is that I get to share some of my family's favorite recipes with you. I was talking with Mom last night (you know that moms have to call you if they notice a menacing weather report for your area on CNN; I think it's a "Mom Rule") and told her that I was going to include a delicious recipe for corn casserole today. She doesn't even have this one, because it was given to me by a Cae, a good friend of mine here. She and her mom, Velma, make it often for church dinners or funerals. I will use it as our first recipe today:

Velma and Cae's Spicy Corn Casserole

3 to 4 cans of corn, drained (or 1 1/2 bags of frozen)
4 American cheese slices
cheddar cheese-shredded on top
8 oz. cream cheese
1 small can of mushrooms, drained
1 can diced chiles, drained
Mix corn, American cheese and cream cheese for 2 min., just to melt cheese.
Add mushrooms and chiles; put shredded cheddar on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 min.

I asked Mom if she thought Aunt Vivian would mind me including her delicious Chicken Spaghetti recipe (I would have called to ask her myself, but it was too late in the evening). In typical sisterly fashion, she said, "oh, she won't mind! and she won't even know-her computer's down right now". I'm the same way with my sister, Becky. We think alike on so many things that we sometimes feel like we "share a brain" so it gives me a comfort level when speaking for her. This is only on minor matters such as recipes, of coarse. So here is one from Aunt Vivian's recipe file:

Aunt Vivian's Chicken Spaghetti

3 lbs. of chicken (can cook ahead)
1 lb. of spaghetti
3 tsp. chili powder

Using 1 stick of butter in a skillet, saute' :
1 C chopped celery
1 small onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped

To saute'd mixture, add:
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 lb. Velveeta cheese, cubed
1/2 C black olives, chopped
1/2 C green olives, chopped
1 can Rotel tomatoes
Stir until cheese is melted.

Debone chicken; save broth
Cook spaghetti in broth; do not drain. Mix well with above ingredients. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 min. in uncovered 9"x13" pan or casserole dish.

The Church at "Park and Main" in Charleston, WV is a wonderful group of people. We attended there when our two oldest sons were babies; they enjoyed the attention of the elderly members there. One of their favorites was an adorable "90- something" with a continual smile and lots of energy. Her name was Ona and she carried Hershey kisses in her pocketbook- just in case someone under 4 feet tall sat next to her in services.
One time she mentioned that she had bought a ceiling fan, but needed to hire someone to install it (this is a woman who would have attempted it herself, but she was very small in stature). My husband offered to to put it up for her. He, of course, would not accept any payment that she tried to give him, so Ona invited us to dinner. When we stepped into her kitchen on the day she made us dinner, it was unbelievable! The top of her antique table (complete with white starched tablecloth and napkins) looked like a cover for Southern Living magazine. Her kitchen was small , but so was she. What she lacked in space and height, she made up for with pure time-worn skills. The table was covered with fried chicken, roast beef , mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables (including Greasy Beans) and these beets that she shared the recipe for. She was an exceptional cook and an even better person!

Ona Clendennin's Harvard Beets
Two 1 lb. cans sliced beets or 12-15 small beets, cooked
1 TBSP corn starch
3 TBSP vinegar
3 TBSP sugar, or 1/4 C light brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 TBSP butter

Drain the beets and save the juice. Mix corn starch with 1/2 C beet juice. Add vinegar, sugar and salt. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Add the beets. When ready to serve, add the butter and simmer until beets are heated through.
8 servings

Here's one of my recipes to share:

Easy Shortcut Blackberry Cake

1 box Spice Cake mix
1/2 C Crisco
2 or 3 eggs
1 can blackberry pie filling

Mix first 3 ingredients well. Fold in berries.
Bake in greased 9"x 13" pan until center springs back. Completely cool. Frost with caramel icing.

Carmel Frosting

1/2 C butter
1 C brown sugar
1/4 C powdered milk
2 C confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter; add brown sugar. Let bubble 2 min. while stirring. Add 1/4 C water and powdered milk; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; beat in confectioners sugar; add vanilla. Spread over cake.

That's it for today! Have a great Tuesday.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

It's Menu Planning Day

We have a seminar on Evolution hosted by our church this week starting on Friday evening, so the weekend will be fast meals. Here's my menu for the week:

Monday, March 23
Potato soup with assorted crackers
jello with fruit

Tuesday, March 24
Baked breaded cod
Caesar salad
parsley potatoes

Wednesday, March 25
Chili over spaghetti
French bread
vegetable plate

Thursday, March 26
Baked chicken
macaroni salad
green beans

Friday, March 27
Toasted turkey sandwiches with lettuce and tomato
pieces of fruit

Saturday, March 28

Pork chops n' stuffing
creamy corn casserole

Check out Orgjunkie for other people's menu ideas on Menu Planning Monday !

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sunday Dinner Cookbook is a Charmer

The Sunday Dinner Cookbook, written by a home cook named Phyllis S. Prokop from Oklahoma City, published by Broadman Press, with a copyright in 1969 is charming. The text is very sweet, and almost motherly. She empathizes with and cheers on the possibly inexperienced cook. Her purpose in writing it she says,"is for those women who dash in from church each Sunday, hat leaning precariously, Bible and purse in hand, to answer the question, "Mother, what are we having for dinner today?". In her book, she provides menus and even "fix ahead" instructions.
Phyllis includes a tutorial on "How to Conquer Pie Crusts" as well as some encouraging words on "Curing Hostess Horrors". She chats about the days when she and her sister were young moms with babies , and gives the No Fail Applesauce Cake recipe that they both depended on.
When it comes to cooking for the holidays, the book has step-by-step coaching on all the basic Thanksgiving dishes, as well as recipes for the week of Christmas. Phyllis gives us a fudge recipe "for people who just cannot make fudge, not even the 'Can't Fail recipe'!"
I found this book fun to read and very endearing. I'll admit that a few of the recipes are showing their age; some call for MSG (monosodium glutamate)but you can just leave that out.
This is such a basic, simple and pleasantly-written cookbook that if you are lucky enough to find one, it would make a nice addition to a new bride's gift basket. I've chosen three of the very simple recipes to share with you.

P. 20 Corn Celery Soup

1 can cream-style corn
1 can cream of celery soup
1 soup can of milk

Combine and heat. Serve with crackers.

P. 52 Broiled Sweet Potato Slices

1 can (1 lb.) sweet potatoes
2 TBSP margarine
2 TBSP brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Slice canned sweet potatoes and place cut side up in casserole dish. Blend margarine, sugar and cinnamon. Spread on potatoes. Place under medium heat in broiler just long enough to warm potatoes and melt sugar mixture.

P. 80 Onion Biscuits

Prepared, canned biscuits
2 TBSP margarine, melted
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp onion salt

Melt margarine and add it to the garlic and onion salts. Brush tops of prepared biscuits with mixture and bake as directed on package.

I will be participating in the recipe swap at Grocerycartchallenge today.

Spring Break is Here

My spring cleaning started out with a roar, but has settled down to a whimper this week. It is Spring Break for area schools and colleges, so not only is my youngest son off, so is the oldest son who works for the University and has a post graduate class. So, you see, it's an unusual week around here; the week after Spring Break would be a much better time to start the cleaning project, so I don't break my stride.
What I have had the chance to do, is spend some time with Justin, my oldest. We are kindred souls when it comes to the love of reading, and we've been on a media shopping blitz! We've been to libraries and bookstores. One of our favorites is a place called Hastings. You can sit in comfy chairs while you look over books that you're interested in. You can enjoy flavored coffees. It's a little "oasis of wonderful" for book lovers. I find that my boys usually gravitate to the music CDs and movie sections when I'm there with them; haven't figured out why they don't want to stay and look at books?! Maybe they're trying to put some distance between themselves and the Over-40 chick in the Crock shoes who is camped out in a cushy chair with a stack of cookbooks and a mocha coffee....Nah, that can't be it!
Anyway, I'm so happy to have this time to run around and hit the town's literary "hot spots" with Justin. Speaking of "hot spots",tomorrow morning is the start of the public library's Annual Book Sale. Woohoo! we are sooo there!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Reusable Items

It's a great Wednesday already! I talked with my son in Japan last night by IM (instant messenger), and talked with the other two in Colorado. The foreign traveler is doing well, and my skier and snowboarder have no broken bones, so I was relieved to hear from them. I can now continue the week without as much anxiety.
I think my blog today is something that all frugal-minded people do, but there may be something here that you haven't thought of, yet. We all like to use things over again, if we can, because it saves us money and trips to the store! So, here is a list of things that I reuse that I jotted down in my spiral notebook-just off the top of my head. I may come up with more later, and there may be a second list on a future blog. If you have anything that you have found to be "reuseful" please leave me a comment!

Items that I Reuse

-Heavy wax bag liners from cereal boxes
great for storing or sending cookies and brownies through the mail(inside of box)
or transferring them to school or church event

-Dryer sheets
cleaning t.v. screens, computer screens, and general dusting jobs

-Large sheets of waxed paper or foil

-Gently-used ziplock bags (rinse with hot water and drain over a tall glass)

-Large envelopes that you get a greeting card in
write your grocery list on the outside and put the coupons that you're using for that trip on the inside

-Bubble wrap, packing peanuts, mailing boxes and nice packaging that comes to you through UPS or other mail carriers

-Gently used gift wrap, gift bags and bows

-Large plastic plant pots with drainage holes

-Plastic bags and paper bags from shopping trips make great liners for small wastebaskets

-Old single socks, worn tea towels, cloth diapers, flannel p.j.s
good for cleaning and dusting-just keep them in a "rag bag" in your broom closet
(rubber band a sock to the end of your broom handle to get dog hair and dust in the hard-to-reach spots or ceiling cobwebs)

-Old cling-type photo albums (or pocket type)
Big albums can keep recipe clippings from magazines and newspapers organized
Small hand-held photo albums can be used as a grocery coupon file or to keep fast-food and eat out coupons organized to carry in your car

-Old place mats
use under t.v. or plants to protect furniture
use plastic ones under pet bowls to catch food and water splats for easy clean-up

-Old bath towels
good dog towels for after she runs or her bath
mark the towels "Dog" with permanent marker and keep in mudroom or garage

window cleaning
put under mulch in your landscaping or between rows in your garden to keep the weeds down

-Old shower curtains or plastic tablecloths
good drop cloths for painting projects

-Big plastic containers with screw-on lids (like the ones pretzels come in at Sam's
storing dog treats
keeping small Leggo blocks, Match box cars and other small toys organized
small items in your workshop or craft room

-Scarves, neckties, old scouting scarves
cut them down and make cute scarves for the dog

-Old cartoon character fleece throws and blankets that the kids have outgrown
nice cozies for the dog or cat to curl up on
moving blankets
emergency blankets to keep in your car in the winter (they are bright colors and easily spotted)

-Bed pillows that have lost their fluffiness
(Mom's idea here) sew a double seam down the middle and cut to create two nice throw pillows; then cover with favorite fabric for in the house or on the porch

-Overly ripe citrus fruit
put down the disposal w/ ice cubes to clean the blades and deoderize

Well, that's all I have for now. Please go to Rocksinmydryer who hosts Works for Me Wednesdays to see other people's tips.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tried and True Recipes on Tuesday

From my trusty "hits counter" on my blog, I could tell that this was very popular last week, so I thought we'd continue it. Again, these are recipes that are favorites at our house, or old family favorites, or church and other event favorites. I'll try to give credit where credit is due as often as I can. Happy cooking!

Jack Daniel's Meatballs

1 38 oz. bag of frozen meatballs (Rosina's are good, or you can make your own) thawed
1 19 oz. bottle "Jack Daniel's Original No. 7 BBQ Sauce"
1 envelope Lipton dry onion soup mix
1 12 oz. jar apricot preserves

Combine BBQ sauce, soup mix and preserves in saucepan over medium heat. Add meatballs and bring to a boil. You can then put these in a crock pot on Low or Keep Warm setting if they are for a party or get together.

Brownie Chip Cookies

(These are so easy and convenient! I called my mom in a panic once because I had lost the recipe in my move to Oklahoma and needed it for a school event).

1 Family size brownie mix
2 eggs
1/4 C oil
1 C (6 oz.) chocolate, peanut butter, or white chocolate baking chips
1 can of frosting (optional)
M&M candies (optional)

Mix above ingredients together; stir in baking chips at the end. Bake 2" apart on greased cookie sheets at 350 degrees for 10-12 min. Do not over bake! Cool on racks. After cooling you can frost with chocolate or vanilla frosting (canned or homemade) or you can push M&Ms into the tops when just out of the oven.

Aunt Sis' (Ruth Ann Martin) Rhubarb Preserves

5 C Rhubarb
3 C sugar
2 TBSP butter
1 pkg. wild strawberry Jello (3 oz.)

Combine rhubarb and sugar; let stand overnight. Boil 12-15 min. Remove from heat and add Jello. Stir well; add butter. Pour into jars and seal. Keep in refrigerator.

-Please check out TemptmytummyTuesday and KitchentipTuesday for more recipes and kitchen tips!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Monday's Menu Plan for the Week

As usual, I'm participating in ORGJUNKIE's Menu Plan Monday, which is being hosted this week by Five Dollar Dinners.com. We have two leaving for a church youth group ski trip to Colorado this week, so the menu will be different than it usually is. Here we go...

Monday, March 16
Leftovers from weekend
Ceasar salad

Tuesday, March 17 (St. Patrick's Day)
Corned beef and cabbage
mashed potatoes

Wednesday, March 18
Eat out on the way to church

Thursday, March 19
Homemade vegetable soup (from freezer)
grilled ham and cheese or Reuben sandwich

Friday, March 20
Pasta e' Fagolia (Italian Chili)
French bread in oven

Saturday, March 21
Marinated steaks on grill
baked potatoes
creamed lima beans/corn

Friday, March 13, 2009

This Cookbook Has a Winner of a Banana Bread Recipe!

Mountain Measures, A Collection of West Virginia Recipes is my book selection for today. It is a cookbook sold by the Junior League of Charleston in order to raise funds for their good deeds. My friend, Julie, gave me this cookbook as a gift, so I cherish it, even though she put some wise crack about,"finding me a New York cookbook" in the front of the cover; she's an adopted West Virginian! The book's copyright is dated 1974, and the copy that I have is part of it's seventh printing. The ISBN is 0-9606232-0-5 and Library of Congress Catalog No. is 75-316544.
I can tell you that this book has some "winner recipes"....just like West Virginia's basketball team!... who just recently BEAT PITT!! (Sorry, that slipped right off my computer keys. I'll now behave and continue the book review). Every time that I want to use up ripe bananas, I grab this book off the shelf. My kids grew up eating this banana bread, sometimes with nuts, sometimes without, but always delicious; I've never had it fail. It will be our sample recipe for today.
This book is attractive and will, "have you at 'hello'". The cover is a colorful quilt pattern called Sunshine and Shadows" which is a variation of the traditional log cabin design (for all you quilters out there).
I'm not blessed with sewing or quilting talent, so what was inside was most important to me. It has an abundance of recipes from both famous citizens and famous local cooks. You'll find Senator Robert Byrd's Cabbage Rolls, the late Dee Caperton's Edam Cheese Ball and Jay Rockefeller's Shirred Eggs along with the recipe for the Charleston Press Club's Meatballs and the Coconut Macaroons served at the Greenbrier. It includes plenty of traditional fare, such as Poke Greens, Biscuits and Cornbread Dressing. Of coarse, there are several recipes on fixing wild game, such as Potted Doves and Baked Deer Meat- since WV is known for great hunting and skillful hunters.
This cookbook is an interesting read, as well, because of the bits of history and the sepia-toned photos of covered bridges, elderly artisans, grist mills, and split rail fences. I think a lot of attention was given to detail, and I appreciate that when my home state is being presented. This book is well worth the hunt! My copy is from 1990, but I will provide the contact info from the front inside cover ...just in case: The Junior League of Charleston, P.O. Box 1924, Charleston, West Virginia, 25327 (at that time, the book was $9.95 per copy).

pg. 98- Banana Nut Bread

1/3 C shortening
1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
1 3/4 C sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda
1 C mashed ripe banana
1/2 C chopped walnuts

Cream shortening and sugar; add eggs and beat well. Sift together dry ingredients. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the bananas, blending well after each addition. Stir in nuts. Pour into well-greased 9 1/2"x 5"x3" loaf pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 40-45 min. Test for doneness by inserting toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, bread is done. Remove from pan and cool on rack.

Mrs. Robert W. Lawson,III

Enjoy lots of other recipes today on the recipe swap at Grocerycartchallenge.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Tried and True" From My Recipe Box

Today I pulled out a few recipes from my "tried and true" recipe box. My obsession with collecting old cookbooks and recipes is "over the top". This is like "true confession time" ....but I have an antique librarian's cabinet that I use for a recipe file; it's huge- for a recipe file. This holds the recipes that I've hauled away from estate auctions and clipped from magazines...that I want to try! We're talking hundreds of them. In a smaller (not "small", mind you) wooden file I have my "tried and true" recipes from family; recipe clippings that I've tried and liked; and anything that I've had at an event or church dinner that was so good that I begged for the recipe.
This confession does not include the number of cookbooks I have accumulated; that number is a blurry figure existing in the "gray area" of life, to save my husband from the shock that the naked truth sometimes brings. He knows they're here in cabinets and drawers...we've just never actually counted them. I think it's better that way! He's fully aware of my addiction to all things related to cooking. He's at the auctions and estate sales with me. I believe he's what counselors who help addicts call...an "enabler". Bless his heart, he pays for the cookbooks and the seller's lifetime collection of recipes, and then carries them to the car for me! What a man.
Anyway, today I wanted to share some from the my "tried and true" box. Please leave a comment, and let me know if you liked them. They say that confession is good for the soul. I know that I'm feeling better, but not good enough to count those cookbooks and give you a number! Happy Thursday.

Party Pennies

2 pkg. hotdogs, sliced
1 small jar grape or apple jelly
1 small jar yellow mustard

Make sauce by combining jelly and mustard in crockpot until smooth. Add sliced hotdogs. You can use stick pretzels in place of toothpicks when serving these to children.

Microwave All-At-Once Spaghetti

1 TBSP butter or margarine
1 C onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 lb. uncooked spaghetti
grated parmesan cheese
2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
1 1/2 C water
1/2 tsp oregano

Place butter and onion in a 2 qt. casserole dish. Heat in microwave on High 3 to 4 min. until onion is tender. Add ground beef and cook on High 3 to 4 min. until no longer pink; stir halfway through cooking time. Drain. Add salt, pepper, tomato sauce, water, oregano and basil. Cook in microwave, covered, on High for 6 min. Break the uncooked spaghetti into mixture and stir. Cover and cook on High for 18-20 min.-stirring every 6 min. After it's done, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Asian Beef and Noodles

1 1/4 lb. ground chuck (leftover beef or hamburger can be used)
2 pkg. ramen noodles-Oriental flavor
2 C frozen vegetables (bag of frozen broccoli or leftover veggies work, too)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 TBSP thinly-sliced green onions

In large skillet, brown meat over med. heat for 8-10 min. (or reheat cooked meat). Pour off any grease. Season meat with 1 pkg. of ramen seasoning mix; set aside. In same skillet, combine 2 C water, noodles (broken up), vegetables, ginger and the other seasoning pkg. from ramen. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 3 min. Return beef to skillet; heat thoroughly. Stir in green onions before serving. Good with a little soy sauce.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Book For the Gardening-Challenged

I have never met an outdoor plant (tree, shrub) that I couldn't kill. It's true...I'm among the gardening-challenged. For my money, the tag on the plant must say "hardy" or "heat resistant" (although, these are the ones that I kill with water torture). I know gardening involves some trial and error, but how many years and plants must it take?! I'd love to have the money I've spent in all those optimistic Spring plantings that withered and slumped over by June.

At least, I have a little good news. I have found a couple of weapons in my "Battle of Defensive Landscaping" and I'm willing to share them. First, if you are guilty of over watering or under watering, especially the potted victims eh...plants on your porch get some Scotts Moisture Control Potting Soil.

Next, if you plant tomato plants, drop a whole egg into the planting hole before you insert the plant. This provides extra calcium and other nutrients (and gives the plant a fighting chance, in my case). This tip came from an expert tomato grower that was featured in our newspaper a while back. Surely, you didn't think that I came up with that!

Finally, I'm sharing the best gardening book that I've ever read for bone-head gardeners. I have searched several plant and gardening books over the years, and own many of them. My problem is that they are talking over my head. I needed a book that was so basic that it explained which side of the house to plant on for different types of plants.

One tip that this book offered was how to re-mulch landscaping that's been neglected without having to till it or pull up all the weeds and grass. You simply lay several sheets of newspaper down, overlapping it by three inches and put the new mulch on top. The newspaper will block out all sunlight and kill everything under it. The paper will eventually biodegrade, unlike that black landscaping plastic. You are supposed to use three or four layers of newspaper, and eight to ten layers if you have especially tough weeds. When we did this procedure, we also showered it with water at the end to soak the mulch and paper down so it wouldn't blow away in the Oklahoma wind. Once we started this, I did recall an older couple that were good friends of ours who laid newspapers under their drip hoses in between the rows of their garden. Mickey and Lee had a beautiful garden every year; I really admire people who know what they're doing.

The book that made me feel less stressed this year about the whole landscaping battle is written by Cassandra Danz and is called Mrs. Greenthumbs Plows Ahead: Five Steps to the Drop Dead Gorgeous Garden of Your Dreams (so much better than my version which would be called "The Drop Dead Garden: How to kill Your Plants in Two Months or Less"). It is published by Crown Publishers and it's ISBN is 0-517-70554-0. Hope these tips come in handy as we all venture out into the battlefield that I call the lawn. Be careful out there!

For more great tips of every kind go to Rocksinmydryer who hosts Works for Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The "2 Minute BLT Sandwich" and Other Bacon Shortcuts

I just thought of one of my frugal shortcuts this morning. It's one of those things that I've been doing for so long that I take it for granted, but when I mentioned it to a friend she thought it was a great idea. At Sam's they have a large bag of Hormel Real Bacon Bits (with 50% less fat than regular bacon). You can find this handy bag of dried bacon in the salad dressing isle. I've almost quit buying regular bacon! Here are the ways that I use it.
First the "2 minute BLT sandwich": toast two slices of bread, spread one side with mayo, sprinkle mayo slice with bacon and add lettuce and tomato. Bacon, lettuce, tomato is my favorite sandwich in the summer, so this was a major discovery for me. Some of us are thrilled with the little things in life!
Next, when the guys all want omelets for breakfast (yeah, that would have to be on Saturday) I just scramble up the eggs and throw in the real bacon bits. It's like having bacon and eggs without the greasy mess. Ditto for making casserole recipes and 7-Layer Salad. You can't imagine how hooked you'll be on this idea if you love to save time and you hate the greasy mess of bacon. For all of you campers out there, and you know who you are, no, you will not have any grease to put in your drippings can. Sorry, you can't have everything. If you check the price of real bacon bits at the regular grocery store, I think you'll find that this is a good buy, as well; The 1 lb. 4 oz. bag was $7.06 at my local Sam's. Since you just sprinkle enough for that bacon flavor, the bag lasts a long time in the fridge. Also, using it this way, you save on calories.
- See "The Finer Things in Life" and "Blessed With Grace" blogs for their great tips, also.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring Cleaning and a Menu Plan for Monday

This is the week that I'm starting my Spring Cleaning. That's right, move the large appliances and clean behind them; clean all the little nooks and crannies that often get neglected between my Fall Cleaning and Spring Cleaning. I don't have drapes to take down in this house because I have wooden plantation shutters all over, but they need a good dusting and light wax.
Since it's Monday, again, I'm going to share my menu planning for the week with the blog organizingjunkie. Here we go...

Chicken and dumplings
green beans
hot rolls

Chili, chips and cheese
green salad

French toast
fruit salad

pork chops
Au Gratin potatoes
lemon pepper squash

Pizza buns
vegetable plate with dip

cheese omelets and fruit plate

leftover pork with stir fry rice
Chinese coleslaw

Friday, March 6, 2009

Quaker Cookbook from 1915

This little paperback cookbook is a gem that my mom sent to me as a gift. It's pages are fragile (I'll be fragile too if I'm around for nearly 100 years!) but it is a treasure. It was published in 1915 by a women's Sunday school class from a Quaker church in Carmel, Indiana. I believe they used it as a fund raiser, possibly, because there are advertisements in it for local businesses. A car dealer has a space showing off the newest that Ford Motor Company has to offer; The Ford Touring Car, with the claim that there are, "now more than 750,000 of them in use."
As enjoyable as it is to read the ads, the recipes are a peek back in time, as well. I guess, because most girls and women of the time were so adept at cooking, there's very little explanation given by way of instructions. In fact, most of the time it doesn't give a temperature for baking. I'm guessing it was the days of sticking your arm in the oven to see if it was hot enough. I'm glad those days are past! The recipes are so brief that they remind me of times that I've asked elderly relatives for a recipe and all they give you are the ingredients, but no real measurements; " a pinch", " a little bit", "the size of your thumb", "til it looks done." These are not helpful directions to an aspiring cook.
I loved reading the three page section of "Household Helps". There are tips on stove blacking, and what to put in your "winter washing" so your clothes will not freeze while you're hanging them on the clothesline. For the sample recipe today I chose two recipes because I love chicken pie, and how often do you find a recipe for Chow Chow?! Enjoy!

P 57 Chicken Pie

One large or two small chickens; cook until meat will slip from bone, put meat in baking dish.
3 TBSP flour
3 TBSP melted butter
salt and pepper to taste; rub altogether, add three cups stock and cook to a smooth sauce; one cup cream or milk, pour over meat and set in oven to keep warm.
Crust: two cups flour, one teaspoonful salt, two teaspoonfuls baking powder, two tablespoonfuls butter, one egg beaten until light, one cup milk; stir into a batter, pour over the chicken and bake.
Mrs. Nina Taylor

Chow Chow

One half peck green tomatoes
five onions
one head cabbage
eight green peppers
two red peppers
Chop fine and mix well with salt,and let stand over night. In the morning squeeze all juice out and mix in one pound brown sugar, one half cup grated horseradish, one teaspoonful pepper, make good and sour, pour boiling vinegar over and seal.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Spring Window Cleaning

It's supposed to be 95 degrees here today. It has been nice this week, but 95?! Wow! It makes me want to get outside and clean the lawn furniture and the windows. My windows look like windows in cars that have privacy tinting; because they are so dirty from winter weather, not because they are tinted. Here in Oklahoma, the wind, "comes sweepin' through the Plains" and throws the slush and dirt at your windows. I can't wait to get sunlight through them again.
As I get out my ladder and bucket, I'll arm myself with a squeegee and crumpled newspaper. In the bucket, I add dishwasher detergent (such as Cascade) and a little vinegar to the warm water. If you have the dishwasher detergent formula that already has rinse agent in it, you can skip the vinegar. As for the Cascade, "a little dab'll do it"; the main thing is to make sure that it's well-dissolved in the water.
I first rinse the window, using a garden hose with a pressure nozzle. Next, use a soft cloth and the warm water solution to wash the window; don't forget the corners. I then use the squeegee to remove excess water, working from top to bottom. The crumpled newspaper gives it the final shine.
I like to carry a bag with me as I move around the outside of the house from window to window so I can throw away the paper as I go. Also, I always take a large sport bottle filled with ice water; this is hot work, especially if you have very many windows. Good luck out there on those Spring projects; don't forget to cover yourself in sunscreen.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Planning Ahead-Grocery Trip To Sam's Club

I had to run to Sam's Club this morning after I dropped my youngest son off at school. It's our turn to host the Teen devo after Sunday evening church service. I always check price per unit there against regular sizes of items at the grocery store, but when I have to buy large quantities of corn chips and cheese it's a better buy. I found out yesterday that I had two funerals to cook for this week, so it altered my plans. I originally was going on Thursday, and I refuse to go to the store on Friday or Saturday if I can avoid it. So, today's the day!
Here's what I've decided to serve the "Ipod Crowd" at devo: chili, chips and cheese; vegetable tray with ranch dip; Texas sheet cake; lemonade and iced tea. I'm glad that this Sunday is the start of Daylight Savings Time. We'll have more day time left after evening church, and my husband can wear them down on the driveway/basketball court while I get the food ready. Teenagers need to run off some of that excess energy after sitting in sermon mode! Here are a couple of recipes in case you're interested.

Ranch Veggie Dip
2 pkgs. 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 8 oz. sour cream
1 pkg Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
With electric mixer, mix first two ingredients until smooth. Add dressing mix (with spoon) and mix until combined. Chill several hours. Serve with assorted vegetables or rippled chips.

Texas Sheet Cake (Johnny Hoosier Cake)

2 C flour
2 C sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP cocoa (Hershey's)
On stove, in heavy pan, melt 2 sticks butter or margarine; add cocoa and 1 C water. Bring to a boil. Add above dry ingredients. Then add: 1/2 C buttermilk, 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla. Pour into greased and floured sheet cake pan with edges. Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 10 min.

On stove in heavy pan, melt 1 stick margarine or butter. Add 4 TBSP cocoa (more or less, depending on how dark you like your chocolate icing. When combined and starting to bubble, add 6 TBSP buttermilk. Cook til it starts to bubble. With electric mixer beat in 1 lb. confectioners sugar until glossy and icing consistency. Add 1 tsp vanilla and chopped nuts (optional) at the end. Pour icing over hot cake.
Personal note: My mother-in-law, Louise, was kind enough to pass this along when I was dating her son. It has been a family favorite, and has been the star of many birthday events. I love this cake with bananas chopped on top of my piece, but my husband says that's just gross! Try it and let me know. I would love to let him know that other folks like it that way, too.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Kids Need Their Own Space

I had the happy experience of a computer video chat with my son on Sunday morning. What made this chat especially important was that he's been working in Japan for two years, so I cherish any chance to see his face. He had been on a trip to Tokyo with friends to see an Eric Clapton concert. It's always nice to hear that he's back safely from one of his adventures. He's really broadened his horizons as a 20-something. I remember him, as a two-year old, sitting in a box; a box that was his "reading box."
When the two oldest boys were little, we, like most young couples were in a starter house with limited space. Justin and Blake were only twenty one months apart in age and shared a bedroom with bunk beds. They spent everyday playing together and have always been very close. But, one day when Justin was about three, I noticed that he was taking his favorite books up to the top bunk and moving the ladder so Blake could not join him. Blake, of coarse was standing at the bottom looking mournful and wailing at the injustice! The point? That's when I realized that even two and three- year-olds need their space sometimes.
My very cheap solution to this problem was to go to a store and get two large box bottoms (like the bottom of a fridge box) and cut them down to a six inch depth. This is enough height to define the space, yet shallow enough for little ones to climb over. Use a permanent marker to put their name on the box, or tape a picture of them on the box. Have the child use crayons to decorate the sides or inside of their "Book Box." It gives them a sense of ownership, and an understanding that each of them must respect the other's space.
My boys still wanted to spend most of their time playing together, but I can't tell you how much they enjoyed their "book boxes." Sometimes I would find Teddy Ruxpin (Justin's favorite bear) sitting in his box. Blake, the youngest, just loved having his own space and the power to tell Justin that he couldn't enter!
Now, Blake has his own space in Japan, and I have to view it over the internet. My, how times have changed for this mom! Enjoy your little ones while you can.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Menu Planning Monday

It's Monday, and aside from changing the bed clothes and the usual mountain of laundry from the weekend, I always make up my menu for the week and dig out the necessary recipes. There's a blog that I like called "I'm An Organizing Junkie" and I've decided to add my weekly menu to her Monday Menu blog. So you can see what we're planning to eat/cook for the week, and also check out several menus on that blog. Sometimes it's hard to come up with ideas and I think looking at others' menus is helpful.

Menu For The Week

Monday, March 2
Pork roast with dirty rice
Ceasar salad
Pineapple chunks

Tuesday, March 3
Taco Bake

Wednesday, March 4
Pork BBQ
Macaroni and cheese
lemon pepper squash

Thursday, March 5
Roasted turkey
Mashed potatoes and pan gravy
green bean casserole

Friday, March 6
Turkey sandwiches with lettuce and tomato
veggie tray

Saturday, March 7
French toast