Sunday, November 29, 2009

Monday Menu and a Fun Holiday Idea to Share

Christmas came early for WVU fans...Pitt Panthers wrapped-up in a bow!!

It's "Monday Menu Planning Time"; that time every Sunday when I look through the refrigerators, pantry shelves and freezers, then glance at my calendar to see what the coming week looks like. As you can tell, it's a ritual based more on leftovers, and what I have in the pantry and freezer, than anything else. I'm pretty well stocked-up right now because of the grocery sales before Thanksgiving.

I must add, that I have found that the day after Thanksgiving is an excellent time to get bargains on markdowns on fresh produce and other items associated with the holiday meal. I was out hunting Christmas gift bargains on "Black Friday" when, purely by chance, I went by a bin of yams that had been marked-down to 25 cents per pound! I was then on a mission to check all other produce that had a "Thanksgiving Connection"! I got a 3-pack of Romaine lettuce, marked at two packages for 3 dollars (it had been 2 dollars a package on Tuesday, because I had purchased some). I got a bag of Clementine oranges that had been 4 dollars, marked-down to $1.25. Gala apples had been reduced to 1 dollar a pound. And, although I didn't get any of them, the in-store bakery had its pumpkin pies on clearance for 3 dollars a piece (and they freeze well). I'm going to keep this in mind next year at this same time!

Aside from hunting bargains for Christmas gifts, I've come up with a fun theme for my blog for the month of December. It's called "Christmas the Traditional Way-Christmas the Easy Way!" I will be sharing some super easy ideas for the holiday rush. For example, I will give my very traditional recipe for Divinity (for you "Martha S.-Types" out there, and you know who you are!), and then I'll give my Marcia D.-Type, hurried and harried, holiday quickie recipe for No Fail Divinity (in which you use a box of fluffy vanilla frosting mix, but hey, it's delicious, and no one has to know.) Stick with me; we'll make it through our holiday to-do lists together!

Enough chit-chat. Here's my menu plan for the week:

Monday, Nov. 30

Beef BBQ (leftover roast beef)
Coleslaw/Broccoli Salad
chips(leftover dip)

Tuesday, Dec. 1

Corned beef and steamed cabbage
mashed potatoes

Wednesday, Dec 2.

Homemade Potato Soup
Tuna on toasted flat bread w/tomato and Romaine

Thursday, Dec 3.

Chicken Caesar Salad
Toasted French garlic loaf

Friday, Dec 4.

Shrimp Prima Vera
Wheat rolls
7-Layer Salad

Saturday, Dec 5.

Cream of Wheat/Cocoa Wheat

Take-out Pizza (for guys)-St. Barbara's Ball
Veg. plate

Sunday, Dec. 6

Fiesta Meatloaf
Parsley Potatoes
Glazed Carrots
Broccoli and cheese sauce

Leftover Buffet!

I will be joining MPM at Orgjunkie .

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ahhhh! I've Been Black Friday Shopping!

I hope that you are all enjoying a warm and peaceful Thanksgiving holiday weekend! As for me...I've been partaking in the chaos that is, "Black Friday"! If you enjoy hunting down some bargains, you've got to go wade through the crowds on the day after stuffing yourself with's an American tradition! And then, later, you get to relish the thought that you survived the Christmas shopping madness and that you are now safely home. Awaiting you are turkey leftovers and WVU basketball on TV...awww, bliss!

I'll be back here on Monday with my menu plan for the week and a new idea that I have for the month of December, something that I think you will enjoy! See you Monday!

I'll be linking to these sites today:


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving !

My friend, Reda, gave me this a long time ago and I've always liked it. Thought I would share it with you for Thanksgiving Day. This recipe is very flexible, of course, as far as the number of people and pets are concerned, but the love and caring are not optional!

Recipe for a Happy Family

1 husband
1 wife
1 home
3 C love, packed
1 pkg. work
1 pkg. play, together
1 TBSP patience (approximate)
1 TBSP understanding
1 TBSP forgiveness
1 C kisses
Generous portion of prayer

Mix thoroughly and sprinkle with awareness. Bake in moderate oven of everyday life, using grudges and past unpleasantness as fuel. Cool; turn out onto a platter of cheerfulness. Garnish with tears and laughter. In large helpings, serve God, Country and Community.

Wishing each of you love and family togetherness this Thanksgiving!

I will be at LifeasMom for her recipe swap today.

Mashed Potatoes in Your Crock Pot

If you're like me, when you're facing the prospect of timing the holiday meal, you need all the items that have to be hot and cooked at the same time spread out to free up your oven space. I put the big turkey in my roaster and microwave the corn. I use Sister Schuberts Brown and Serve Rolls and pies are baked a day ahead. Today, I'm sharing a way to make your mashed potatoes in the crock pot; another space-saving trick! (A very Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!)

Mashed Potatoes in the Crock Pot

9 large potatoes (5 lbs.) peeled
Two 3 oz. packages of cream cheese
1 C fat-free sour cream
1 tsp. salt
pinch of garlic salt
1/2 tsp paprika
pinch of pepper
1/4 C chives (opt.)
2 TBSP butter, softened

Boil potatoes on stove until tender. Drain and mash until smooth. Add remaining ingredients. Beat until light and fluffy. Cool. Cover and place in refrigerator.
Next day or later: Pour potatoes into greased crock. Cook on Low for 2-3 hours.

Great recipe for holiday or Sunday dinner after church!

I will be joining these recipe swaps today:


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Aunt Monica's Cranberry Jello Salad

This is my favorite recipe for Cranberry Salad at Thanksgiving. My husband's Aunt Monica used to bring it down to his family's home and it was such a great dish that it became a tradition. I think that it's more dessert than salad, with the chopped nuts and whipped topping! Even the kids like this one because it has jello and crushed pineapple in it!

Aunt Monica's Cranberry Jello Salad
Monica Ghent, Charleston, West Virginia

2 small packages lemon Jello (I like strawberry Jello better)
3 C boiling water
Cool; just as it begins to gel, add:

2 C fresh cranberries (Ground in processor, or chopped fine)
2 C crushed pineapple, drained well
2 C sugar (you can cut this down some or use Splenda)
1 C crushed nuts (can use walnuts or pecans)
1 C chopped fresh orange (or mandarin oranges, chopped)

Chill for several hours. Very pretty cut into squares and topped with Cool Whip.

I'll be at BlessedwithGrace, TheGypsy'sCorner and Raising4GodlyMen today.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Week Menu

Today's cleaning day, tomorrow will be the day to buy last-minute fresh grocery items and Wednesday will be the prep and pie-baking day! My menu will reflect the pace of our week. Hope that you all enjoy a fun-filled holiday week!

Monday, Nov. 23

Baked white fish w/ Old Bay Seasoning
Lemon Pepper Squash
Brussels Sprouts
Parsley Red Potatoes

Tuesday, Nov. 24

BBQ chicken
Macaroni and Cheese

Wednesday, Nov. 25

Chili w/ shredded cheddar

Thursday, Nov. 26

Roasted Turkey w/ stuffing
mashed potatoes
Sweet Potatoes w/ Praline Topping-Blake
Aunt Monica's Cranberry Salad-Me
Green Bean Casserole-Justin
Mom's Candied Dills
Hot rolls
Pumpkin Pie/Apple Pie/Fresh Lemon Glazed Cake(Dana)

Friday, Nov. 27

Pot Roast w/ Vegetables
7-Layer Salad
French Bread

Saturday, Nov. 28

Homemade Pizzas
Vegetable tray and Dip
(Watch Natn'l Lampoon's Christmas Vacation!)

Sunday, Nov. 29

Leftover Turkey Buffet!

I'll be joining MPM at Orgjunkie today.

Friday, November 20, 2009

BHG's All-Time Favorite Pies Cookbook

I have to admit that my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the "go-withs" or side dishes. Although my mom has always made a "mean pecan pie" (except for the year that I came home from college to find that she'd tried a new recipe that included...PEANUTS! This is a word to the wise: Never, no never, be tempted to mess with holiday tradition while your kids are still around...because, they will never let you live it down (sorry, Mom! I guess I've ruined any chance of your mailing me a slice of pie!)

With the exception of Pecan Pie, I look forward to homemade stuffing and Aunt Monica's Cranberry Salad the most. For most of the men in our family, I think dessert is the Thanksgiving focal point, other than the "football marathon" of course! You could have a turkey that's just "passable" and mashed potatoes from a box, but don't skimp on the grand finale. You have to have great dessert, and on this very American, very traditional holiday, that means PIE!

With the pie-baking task coming up next week, I thought I would review one of my cookbooks that is all about pie making. This week's book off my shelf is Better Homes and Garden's All Time Favorite Pies Cookbook, and it includes 169 recipes for pies of every kind. Even though this book was published in 1978, my copy is a "yard sale find" that is in perfect condition. It was published by Meredith Corporation and its ISBN is 0-696-00455-0.

The colorful cover of this hardback cookbook says it all! There are five different slices of pie and they all look delicious! The easy-to-follow black and white illustrations and boxes in the margins to provide, "Pie-Making Tips", would make it a perfect baking book for a new cook, or someone who's facing her first Thanksgiving as the cook/hostess. Being the hostess for this holiday meal can seem like a daunting project if you've never roasted a turkey or served several people at once. So, like I said, the meal can be less-than-perfect if you have a "bang up finish"! This guide to great pies could be very valuable in this case.

The progression of recipes in the book seems logical to me; fruit pies come first, and then cream pies, custard pies, refrigerated pies, ice cream pies, and finally, a section called, "Pie Crusts and Toppers." The color pictures of the finished pies are mouth-watering! The little fruit-filled tarts and the fluffy coconut cream pie pictures make me want to get out my pans and get started!

For our sample recipe, I chose an easy one that sounds delicious...and makes its own crust!

p. 54 Miracle Custard Pie

2 C milk
4 eggs
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C butter or margarine, cut-up
1 tsp vanilla
1 C flaked coconut
Ground nutmeg

In blender container combine milk, eggs, sugar, flour, cut-up butter, vanilla and 1/4 tsp salt. Cover; blend about 10 seconds or until well-mixed (do not overblend). Stir in coconut. Pour egg mixture into greased 9" pie plate. Sprinkle a little nutmeg atop filling. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until knife inserted off-center comes out clean. (As pie bakes, it forms its own soft crust.) Cool pie on rack; chill thoroughly before serving. Cover; chill to store.

I will be at these recipe swaps today:


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tea Cakes (Old Sugar Cookie Recipe)

The following is a great little recipe I've had in my files for years. This is an old recipe for cookies that is from so long ago that they're called, "Tea Cakes". I've noted on the card that the woman from Georgia who submitted the recipe said that it was a cookie that her grandmother always baked.

Tea Cakes
Annie Bell Light, Norcross, Ga.

1 heaping tsp baking soda
1 C buttermilk
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
1 C shortening
2 tsp vanilla extract

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In large bowl, dissolve baking soda in buttermilk. Add salt, sugar, eggs, shortening, vanilla and enough flour to make a medium-fine dough (not sticky).
-Using a big spoon, mix all ingredients well. Separate dough and work a little at a time on well-floured cloth. Roll to 1/4 of an inch and cut into shapes.
-Bake on greased sheets. When cakes look a crispy, medium brown, take them out of oven.
-Dump them on a clean cloth and grease cookie sheet while it's hot for another batch. 2 dozen

I'll be at LifeasMom and JoyofDesserts for their swaps!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chicken Breasts Supreme

Very busy day, yesterday! I've got a great crock pot recipe to share with you today. I think this is similar to the Alice Springs Chicken at of my very favorites!

Chicken Breasts Supreme

2 slices of bacon
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 jar sliced mushrooms (4.5 oz.)
One 10 3/4 oz. can cream of chicken soup
3 oz. sliced Swiss cheese
1 TBSP chopped chives
3 C frozen broccoli florets

-Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove and drain; reserve drippings.
-Add chicken to bacon drippings in skillet; cook over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until lightly-browned, turning once.
-Put in crock pot; top with mushrooms. In same skillet, mix in soup and pour over mushrooms. Cook 3 to 4 hours. Top with cheese slices; sprinkle with chives. Crumble bacon over cheese. Cover; cook on high for another 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Meanwhile, microwave broccoli on high for 6 to 8 min. (or cook on stove); arrange around chicken breasts.

I will be at these swaps today:


Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Twas the Week Before Thanksgiving" Menu

I'm having trouble with the realization that we're in the midst of November, already! It's time to start working on the Christmas card list and cleaning out the fridges for the extra space that will be needed for "Tom"...Tom Turkey, that is!

As a child, I remember my Mom soaking our turkey in the bath tub to be sure it was thoroughly thawed, because it was too big to fit in the kitchen sink. When I was growing up, there were years when we would have a houseful of people for Thanksgiving meal and Mom would be cooking a huge bird. One year, if I'm remembering it right, we had 21 people.

I always volunteered to toast the bread for stuffing; my brother, Greg always helped move chairs and tables into place, and my sister, Becky, and I enjoyed the wash 'n dry duties at the end ; we were our Mom's "dishwasher"! Dad was the foreman/taste tester (and on Thanksgiving Day, he was the "director" who tried to make sure that Mom kept on schedule by saying, "What time do you think we'll be ready?" "When do you want everyone to come to the table, Shirley?") As you can imagine, Mom was the menu-planner and cook (with the patience of Job!)

I talked with them on the phone today, and Mom said that they're having Thanksgiving at their house this year; wish I could be there for that, but I'll have to settle for talking to everyone over the phone or the Internet. Some of my favorite holiday photos are of my Mom and Dad holding the turkey platter at the head of the table. What a great family holiday!

Here's my menu plan for this week that will help use-up and clean out!

Monday, Nov. 16

Onion Steak
Mashed Potatoes
Lemon Pepper Squash

Tuesday, Nov. 17

Steak Fajitas
sliced pears and apples

Wednesday, Nov. 18

Homemade Vegetable/Chicken Noodle soups
grilled cheese sandwiches

Thursday, Nov. 19

French Toast
Turkey bacon
Fruit Salad

Friday, Nov. 20

Tuna Casserole

Saturday, Nov. 21

Irish Oatmeal

Fiesta Meatloaf
Baked potatoes
green beans


Chicken and Rice
Iced Tea

Leftover Buffet

I will be at orgjunkie today for MPM!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Kids' Cookbook Goes Step-By-Step

A big thumbs-up to the Better Homes and Gardens Step-By-Step Kids' Cookbook! I always enjoyed cooking with my boys as they were growing up, and we seemed to have more time to cook together during the holidays and summer vacation time. If you have little chefs at your house, this book is a necessity.

I love the step-by-step progression of each recipe and the full-color pictures of the steps for those of us who are visual-learners. The clever photos show munchkin-sized hands preparing the recipes that have both kid and adult appeal. For example, the colorful recipes include Lemon Berry Freezer Pie, No-Cook Noodles Lasagna and Cheesy Vegetable Bake...just to name a few!

Attention has been given to the types of foods that kids will really want to eat and ease of preparation, broken down into easy-to-follow steps. This cookbook is a wonderful idea for your future "Emeril" or "Rachel Ray"! It was published in1984 by Meredith Corporation and it's ISBN is 0-696-01325-8. Sorry, you can't have mine; "Chef Ben" wrote his name in it when he was 5!

I will be at these swaps today:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Very Old Recipe for Cornbread Stuffing and Roast Turkey

This is a Thanksgiving recipe from a very old newspaper article that I found in a personal recipe collection from an Estate Auction. I thought you might enjoy it.
At the top of the clipping, the cook had written, "the one I always use!"

Roast Turkey

Place stuffed turkey on a rack with a shallow pan, and cover with a cloth soaked in melted fat. Occasionally moisten cloth with fat during roasting. Roast at 325 degrees from 4 1/2 hrs. for a 10 lb. turkey to 6 hrs. for a 15 lb. turkey. Test for doneness by moving a drumstick up and down; when the turkey is done, the drumstick will move readily. For easier carving, allow turkey to stand for 30 to 40 minutes.

Old-Fashioned Corn Bread Stuffing

1 C dark or golden seedless raisins
1 1/2 C thinly-sliced celery
12 C soft white bread crumbs
16 C corn bread crumbs
1 C coarsley-chopped salted, toasted almonds
1/2 C chopped parsley
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3/4 C butter, melted
2/3 C turkey broth
1/2 C finely-minced onion
4 eggs, beaten

-Rinse and drain raisins. Combine with celery. both types of bread crumbs, almonds and parsley. Sprinkle with a mixture of the poultry seasoning, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
-Add broth and onion to melted butter; add butter mixture and eggs to crumb mixture, mixing lightly.
-Spoon lightly into turkey; or shape into stuffing balls, (my mother-in-law does this, and if you like some crunchy top on your stuffing, this is the way to go!) place on greased baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

I will be at these swaps today:


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Veteran's Day Tale

There are times in my life that I hope to always remember, this is the story of one of those times:

My son, Justin, at 16, had a very wise American History teacher who made each student interview a veteran and write a paper about it. Although his PaPaw Davis had served in the Navy during WWII, Justin, because of proximity and time constraints, chose to interview an elderly man at our church named Wade Kelly.

The evening for the interview came. Justin had prepared several questions scribbled on notebook paper, and had his little recorder for a back-up. My other son, Blake, who was 15 at the time, decided to go along with us. As we went to the door of the Kellys' we were greeted by Wade's wife, Ruth. She was a very pleasant, lady-like person with an easy laugh. She offered us a cold drink, and shooed-away the family dog.

Mr. Wade, as the folks at church called him, was a strong, silent, Clint Eastwood-type cowboy of a man. He was in his early 80's and still worked outside and took care of his horses every day. In fact, the story got around church once that Ruth had to make Wade go to the emergency room because he came in from working and his ear was cut almost in two and he was bleeding down his shirt. He had been putting up a barbed wire fence and didn't want to stop until he finished the job! Besides, he really didn't think that it, "needed looked-at". He was tall and thin and looked like someone who's body was solid as a rock from years of pure work. When he smiled, though, his intimidating persona melted to reveal a gentleman who loved his wife, all children and his that order.

As Wade talked to my two boys, the beginning of the conversation seemed to be difficult on his side of it. Like I said, he wasn't very talkative to begin with, but this seemed like a subject that he really wasn't comfortable covering with us, even though he had agreed to the interview. He started slowly by saying that he and his brother had signed-up to serve when he was 17 and his brother was 18. It was the Depression and there were no jobs, so lots of young men enlisted; it was the thing to do!

Then the conversation took a turn...Wade said, "I was home on leave from Pearl Harbor when it was attacked, and of course, I was called back right away!" He didn't talk about the time right after he was called back, just that he and his brother were in undisclosed locations in the Pacific and their mother was very worried. Wade finally got word to her that he was alright, but could not say where he was. Sadly, he couldn't tell her if his brother was OK, because he didn't know, himself. (Both he and his brother made it home safely after the war.)

Wade did add that when he was fighting "on the ground" they would dig trenches where they would spend the very long nights guarding against the enemy. Wade said that they were so close to enemy lines that, 'you couldn't light a cigarette or even cough.' These young soldiers tied a rope around each others' waists so they could tug on it to keep each other awake without speaking or making a noise. These boys, who were my boys' ages, did this all night, fearful of being killed or taken prisoner. He grinned and said, "I was always glad to see daylight come!"

Another part of the interview revealed that his initial job was to care for Army pack mules in the hull of a ship headed overseas. He said he guessed they wanted him for this task because, being a farm boy, he was experienced with working with horses and other animals. He grinned as he told the boys that it was a nasty, smelly job.

He started to warm-up to the undivided attention in the room. His stories were fascinating. As he went into their bedroom to retrieve an old shoebox full of fringed black and white photos of him and his buddies during wartime, (a bunch of skinny wide-eyed youngsters leaning against military equipment, just goofing-off during free time, arms around each others' shoulders, or surrounded by smiling, foreign children) I looked over at Ruth. She was beaming with pride. "Has Wade ever shared these stories with your children and grandchildren?" I asked? "No" she said. "In fact, when Saving Private Ryan came out in the theaters, we wanted to take him to see it, and he refused to go. He's never spoken about his experiences with anyone, except me, until now. It's so good for him."

When he re-entered the room, he smiled as he sat on the couch between my two sons and showed them pictures, memories, parts of his life. It was a moment that I will never forget. Happy Veteran's Day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bacon-Wrapped Breadsticks

This weekend we attended an "Arts For All" fund-raising event. Every year, the combined efforts of the arts community in Lawton create a fun-filled evening centered around a theme to raise money for the arts in our community. This year's theme was, "Lost Treasure of the Arts." It's an evening of live music, heavy appetizers, and both a live and silent auction for donated pieces of art and other goodies. I've gotten some unique gifts ahead for the holidays this way!

This year the heavy appetizer selection was very good. Two of my favorites were the Coconut Macaroons Covered in Chocolate, on the dessert table, and the Bacon-Wrapped Bread Sticks on the savory snack table. I have a recipe for a similar bread stick that I've had for a few years; I got it from my friend, Wendy, who belonged to a Ladies' Study Group in which I participated. She brought these great bread sticks when it was her turn to hostess the meeting. Although the bread sticks at the event for the Arts were made of a soft, homemade bread, I think Wendy's recipe is easier and tastier-because of the crunch! I thought I would share it today-you know that the holidays are coming, and you're going to need some sure-bet appetizers that are a hit!

Bacon-Wrapped Bread Sticks
Wendy Lindly

24 (4 1/2") hard sesame seed bread sticks
12 slices of bacon, cut in half
1 C grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap bacon around bread sticks. Lay on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until bacon's done. Remove from oven and cool to handle. Roll in cheese mixture and put on serving plate.

I will be at these swaps today:


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Menu for the Week

I was traveling some last week and posted this blog using a laptop that I'm not as used-to as my trusty old computer in my office/storage closet at home. Ahhh, it's good to be home and blogging in my little cubbyhole, again! Hope you had a fun-filled weekend. Hubby and I enjoyed an evening out with friends at the Annual Arts for All Fundraiser Saturday. It was held at Cameron University this year, and as usual, the folks who planned it did an excellent job; it's always an exciting event.

I'm hoping to get caught up this week on some things that got behind while I was will be busy, but I'm sure that if I stick to my to-do list, I'll get to everything. I am so glad that you cannot see my kitchen's planning looks like Mount Scott out at the Wichita Mountains. There are both stacks of papers and cookbooks that I bought recently, along with coupons to clip, school papers and recipes to file and to try-out. It is just a piled-up mess that needs attention; yes, it will be on the top of one of the to-do lists! Here's my menu plan for the week:

Monday, Nov. 9

Baked Steak and Gravy
mashed potatoes
glazed carrots
(leftover Johnny Hoosier Cake from the weekend)

Tuesday, Nov. 10

Roasted Chicken Salad (w/boiled egg)
Hot bread

Wednesday, Nov. 11

Beef and Noodles
Spinach Casserole

Thursday, Nov. 12

Baked Fish
Broccoli Au Gratin

Friday, Nov. 13

Pasta Fagoli

Saturday, Nov. 14

Irish Oatmeal

Sunday, Nov. 15

Homemade Pizzas
veg. plate

Leftover Buffet!

I will be joining Orgjunkie today for MPM

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Madison County Cookbook

Before I start my review today, I wish to send my heart-felt condolences to all those who lost family members, friends, or loved ones at Fort Hood, yesterday; our prayers are with the wounded victims and their families. The military community is a very caring, close-knit group; I've had the privilege to witness the closeness, first-hand, in our community of Lawton-Fort Sill; in fact, we have friends from Fort Sill who are now stationed at Fort Hood. Folks in the military move often; it's the nature of the job. Unfortunately, this senseless act of violence will touch people, both military and civilian, all over our country and the world. Please support our military and their families!

I have a super cookbook recommendation today. I'm sorry to say that this source of down-home cooking and delightful stories has been on my shelf for years and I haven't been using it. I probably found it with a pile of other books at a yard sale or auction, gave it a "leaf-through" and put it on the shelf for later. Well, I'm glad that "later" has arrived! I have the Carol Publishing Group Edition from 1998, but think that its original copyright is 1994. The ISBN is 0-8065-1733-6.

This very sweet book is a collection of family-style recipes compiled by the members of St. Joseph's Church of Winterset, Iowa. Winterset had a "claim to fame" before the successful book and movie came out called, "The Bridges of Madison County"; it is the hometown of famous American icon, John Wayne!

The citizens of Winterset describe themselves as a, "small community where good, old-fashioned values still prevail." The personal stories and recollections of church-related events and family holidays and celebrations add a charm to the book that reminded me of the writings of Jan Karon's series of books about small town America.

Aside from the ease of reading that I enjoyed, this is a wonderful cookbook simply on the merit of the recipes. I found, literally, something on every two-page spread that I would fix...and my family would eat!

Of the many cookbooks that I've reviewed on this Old Cookbook Review, this is on my Top 10 List. If you start the hunting process now you might be able to find one for yourself and your best friend/favorite relative in time for Christmas!

Yesterday's recipe for Low Cal Chex Party Mix came from this book on page 44. Here's our sample recipe for the book review; it's found on page 157.

Margaret Tiernan's Cherry Bon-Bons

24 maraschino cherries (drained and save the juice)
1/2 C soft butter
3/4 C powdered sugar
1 1/2 C flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 TBSP Half & Half
1 tsp vanilla
Powdered sugar and cherry glaze (recipe below)

Beat butter until creamy and add 3/4 C sugar, beating well. Stir in flour, salt, Half&Half and vanilla. Shape into balls. Press around 1 cherry, covering completely, and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 min. Transfer to wire rack and cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and then drizzle with glaze.


2 TBSP melted butter
1 C powdered sugar
1/4 C cherry juice

Combine these ingredients, adding food coloring, if desired. Place glaze in small, plastic bag, snip off corner, and gently squeeze over cookies.

I will be at these swaps today:


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Low-Cal Chex Party Mix

Oh, no! Holiday snacking season is almost here! I love the holidays in a Big Way. I almost can't wait to get out the decorations; leaf through my Family Holiday Scrapbook of Recipes; send cards to folks we love; start baking and putting up the tree (in fact, while traveling, I found a Christmas music station on the radio and have been listening to carols, already!).

However, one of the aspects of the coming holidays that I dread is the temptation and guilt of the goodies that haunt me. As soon as Halloween is over, the "ghosts of holiday goodies yet-to-come" start nagging me. "Don't forget, Marcia, that even though there is fudge in the house, you should stay away from it as often as possible." "Marcia, you know that Chex Mix is NOT a health food, even though it contains whole-wheat Chex; don't deceive yourself." "Any food item that contains a stick of butter, although wonderfully delicious, cannot be good for you!" The voices persist through the Thanksgiving-Christmas food free-for-all. Even if you don't bake and cook, (but I do...I really love to!) during this season, people will tote these goodies to you! There are trays of cookies at the office, church and family get-togethers and childrens' school parties to survive; it's like a "gourmet land mine"!

I think one solution to this challenging time of year is to provide some healthier treats to throw into the lineup...'cause I am not getting rid of Aunt Vivian's Parks Fudge recipe or going "cold turkey" from the goodies! After all, it's ...."the Most wonderful time of the year..." Oh, don't get me started with the Christmas carols!

Here's a healthier version of that addictive Chex Party Mix!

Low-Cal Chex Party Mix

3 C Rice Chex
3 C Wheat Chex
3 C Corn Chex
3 C Bran Chex
1 C unsalted nuts
1/4 C margarine (Health Smart)
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP water
3/4 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Mix cereals and nuts in a large bowl. Melt margarine. Add Worcestershire sauce, water and seasonings to margarine. Pour margarine mixture over cereals and nuts, mixing well. Bake on cookie sheets in oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 min. Each 1/2 C serving has 87 calories (Woo-Hoo!)

This recipe is from Sue Stuchel from Winterset, Iowa, who contributed it to The Madison County Cookbook, which I will be reviewing tomorrow; don't miss it!

I will be joining LifeasMom today.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Baked Potatoes in the Crock Pot

I love it when I come home after morning church service on Sunday to have any part of the meal already prepared and ready to go. Here's one of my plans for make-ahead potatoes.

Wash and thoroughly scrub nice-sized Idaho potatoes. Pat dry with a paper towel and pierce each with a fork. Wrap individual potatoes in foil and layer on top of each other in the crock pot. Put lid on and cook on the High setting. If they're unusually large potatoes or just not done enough when you're ready, stick them in the microwave (without the foil) for a minute to desired doneness. (My friend, Genie, oils the outsides and sprinkles them with coarse salt to finish them up in a hot oven! MMM...just like "Steakhouse Restaurant-style" potatoes! If you're in a great hurry, or everyone's just starving...use up chopped broccoli, bacon bits, ham, sour cream, chopped green onions, or whatever's in your fridge and make a potato bar!

I'll be at DiningwithDebbie today!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Chicken Feed"-A Frugal Snack!

Now that the Halloween festivities for this year are history, the stores have trick-or-treat candy at 50% off. That's great news if you want to make one of my favorite snacks. This is called, "Chicken Feed" because it has candy corn in it. At first look, most people think it seems like an unusual pairing to put candy corn and salted peanuts together. I thought this the first time I saw it.
I found this recipe one lucky October when I accompanied Ben, our youngest son, to a library Halloween party when he was 5. He was dressed as one of the 101 Dalmatians, courtesy of "Aunt" Julie. As he sipped on fruit punch and nibbled his cookie, the librarian passed out this candy snack that she called, "Chicken Feed". At the time, I thought, "that looks like a weird concoction", but took a sample to be polite. That combo of salty, crunchy and sweet is a winner! You have to try it. Get Brach's Candy Corn (this year we found out that we like this made with Brach's Caramel Candy Corn, too)and a can of Planter's Salted Cocktail Peanuts. Mix one part candy to one part peanuts; stir gently and you're all set!

"Chicken Feed"

1 part Brach's Candy Corn or Brach's Caramel Candy Corn
1 part Planter's Salted Cocktail Peanuts

Mix gently and store in air-tight can or container.

I'll be at these swaps:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Menu for the Week

My week's off to a busy start; here's my plan to keep us fed. Happy November!

Monday, Nov. 2 (Ambucs are selling pancakes all day!; great for breakfast, lunch or dinner!)

Shrimp Prima Vera
Caesar Salad
garlic bread

Tuesday, Nov. 3

jello w/Mandarin oranges

Wednesday, Nov. 4

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Ham and Cheese sandwiches on Foreman

Thursday, Nov. 5

Tuna Casserole
Chinese Coleslaw

Friday, Nov. 6

Pork Chops with stuffing and gravy
green beans

Saturday, Nov. 7 (Arts for All)

Cinnamon French Toast
Turkey bacon

Take-out pizza for guys

I will be joining MPM at OrgJunkie today!