Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Carrots, Raisins and Walnuts in a Healthy Salad

Sometimes when I dig through my files of old recipes that I've collected, I am amazed at some of their names. A few of those clever cooks of the past have given catchy titles to cakes, such as, "Sock- it -to-Me Cake"; "Better Than Sex Cake and Lazy Daisy Cake. In my community-type cookbooks (those great down-home treasures that are often sold by firehouses, churches and schools to raise money!), you can find even more personalized names that have been given to family favorites such as, "Shipwreck"; "Angels on Horseback"; "Daddy Says it's Good Casserole" and "Mama's Never-Fail Pie". Well, I have to say, that yesterday, as I looked through one of my "try-it-someday" files, I found a recipe with a very unusual name. I was on the look-out for winter salad ideas and I think this one sounds like a salad that I've enjoyed at Furr's Restaurants before.

When our family lived in Oklahoma we would sometimes eat at Furr's Buffet or Golden Corral on Sunday after morning church service. Family-style buffets are like the after-party of Sunday morning church. When I was a kid, a friendly joke was that, " The preacher better not be too long with his sermon, or we won't beat the Baptists to Bonanza!" (a popular steakhouse buffet). As kids we would go through the alphabet with this joke (none of the faithful were safe!). There was, "Beat... The Presbyterians to Ponderosa; The Methodists to McDonald's...you get the idea. Hey, was there a Larsen's Cafeteria, maybe in the 60's or 70's? Does it still exist? Maybe some of you will know. Oh! if so, we'll have to..."beat the Lutherans to Larsen's"!

Larsen's Anti-Sneeze Salad
1/2 C chopped walnuts
4 to 5 medium-sized carrots, unpeeled
1/2 C raisins
1/4 C mayonnaise

Measure walnuts, chopped coarsely into a serving bowl. Cut carrots into 2-inch chunks and drop them into your blender or food processor. Add raisins and hit the Low Speed button. When the carrots look coarsely-chopped, stop. (If you have trouble with these new-fangled machines, simply shred the carrots by hand, add raisins and continue.) Toss raisin-carrot mixture into the serving bowl with the walnuts. Gently stir in the mayonnaise and chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve often.

Note: "new-fangled machines" ?! Wonder how far back this recipe goes?! After the creation of food processors, but before computers is my guess :0)

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Old Fashioned Buttermilk Icing

Let's get this straight! If you're from West (Almost Heaven) Virginia, the verb for putting a creamy, sugary substance on the outside of a cake is called, "frosting", but the delectable goo itself is called, "icing". So many folks, including Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, get this wrong. It says, "frosting" on the sides of those little plastic cans of preservative-infused sweet coating. Well, where ever you were reared and what ever you like to call it, cake just isn't as delicious without the swirls of creamy spread on the outside. I think most of us agree on this point! That's why children who are tempted by mama's cake sitting on the table, swipe their fingers through the icing instead of trying to pull a hunk of cake from the middle. Over the years, I've been "homeroom mom" enough to know that little ones also lick it off the top of their cookies and cupcakes and throw the crumbly baked goods in the trash. Icing is important stuff!
Today I want to post a recipe for a pure and simple buttermilk icing that takes your cake-eating experience to another level. While we enjoy a chocolate-buttermilk icing on my mother-in-law's Johnny Hoosier Cake (see my archives), this plain version is a nice change and is especially good on pound cake. This is the same kind of icing that the Amish in Ohio use to top cookies and pumpkin bread; I've bought it at roadside stands there.

Buttermilk Icing
1 C sugar
1/2 C buttermilk
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4-1/2 C butter
1 TBSP white Karo syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla

Boil to soft ball stage on a candy thermometer (like you would for fudge) and pour over cake immediately.
Note: This came from an elderly person's personal kitchen file that I bought at an estate sale in Ohio.

******Happy Birthday Ben!!! 18 this week!!!!******

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Easy Chicken Egg Rolls Using Roasted Chicken From the Deli

My good friend, Julie, and I were in a loooong wonderful chat last night; the type that ends because our cell phones are beeping to indicate that our batteries are dead! In the course of the conversation, she mentioned a recipe for my aunt's stew that I had posted on here. As we were talking, I confessed that the main reason that I started this blog a couple of years ago was just to share family stories and recipes with my siblings and their children, and to keep our family and friends updated on our life (we had moved across the country). I didn't realize how rewarding the process of writing and getting feedback from readers would be. I'm not tech savvy, so after I got over the fear of sitting down in front of the computer screen, and Ben (the teenager who is tech savvy...of course!) assured me that he would be my "wing man", it was like writing a letter. My biggest shock was that people, other that friends and family, would be interested in my stories of small town life and down-home recipes. The real bonus has been talking with folks from other states and countries who share my love of family, food and history. According to my statistics, I have readers in 35 countries; 3, 283 page views so far this month and 44,528 page views overall. I'm not boasting, but humbled and amazed! Thank you for reading. Your interest has been an encouraging gift to me. ~Marcia

I pulled a recipe from my files that is a quick way to make egg rolls without going to a Chinese buffet. I'm in favor of a good Chinese buffet, almost anytime, but sometimes it's cold out or Bluebloods is on TV, or you realize that they don't serve Diet Coke with Lime at your favorite buffet!! If you made these egg rolls at home (and fixed some plum sauce) you could have that great taste of Chinese food with your own Lime Coke; it's a win/win!

Easy Chicken Egg Rolls

4 C bagged coleslaw
8 oz. deli roasted chicken breast, shredded (2 cups) or leftover chicken will do!
1/2 C sliced green onion
3 TBSP reduced-sodium soy sauce
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 (16 oz.) pkg. refrigerated egg roll wrappers (I find these in the refrigerated section of produce)
cooking oil for frying
bottle of plum or sweet and sour sauce

-Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
-Toss all ingredients (except oil and wrappers) in a large bowl. Spoon about 1/3 C of chicken mixture across and just below center of each egg roll wrapper. Fold bottom corner over filling, forming an envelope shape. Roll egg roll toward remaining corner. Moisten top corner with water; press firmly to seal.
- Repeat with remaining chicken mixture and egg roll wrappers.
-In heavy sauce pan (electric skillet) or deep-fat fryer, heat about 2 inches of oil to 365 degrees. -Fry egg rolls, 2 or 3 at a time, 2 to 3 minutes or until brown, turning often.
-Drain on paper towels. Keep warm in oven while frying remaining egg rolls.
-Serve immediately with sweet and sour sauce.
(This was a free recipe card that I picked up at Walmart's deli years ago.)

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Menu for Jan 16-23

Happy MLK Day! Everyone here is off for the day so we've had our lazy morning brunch and now I'm finally getting to post my menu for the week. If you're not in the habit of jotting down a menu, make it a New Year's Resolution! You'll be glad you did. I've gone through my "cooking week" both ways and it is much less stressful when you have a plan. Many times, as my week goes by, I find that the plan needs altering. Often, I just have to switch meal plans between two days. It is especially helpful just to have the food that you'll need ready....and meat thawed ahead. It's a money-saver, too. You don't make as many last-minute darts into the grocery store just to, "pick something up for tonight's meal" or even worse, find yourself in a fast food drive-through because the children are hungry and you're tired with no....meal plan! We all need those time-savers that make day-to-day life run smoother.

Here's what we will be having this week:

Mon. Jan. 16
grilled salmon with raspberry chipotle glaze
seasoned rice

Tues. Jan. 17
spaghetti with fresh mushrooms
garlic bread
Caesar salad

Wed. Jan. 18
bbq chicken breast
macaroni and cheese
green beans with ham

Thurs. Jan. 19
baked lemon-pepper fish
potato chowder
corn muffins

Fri. Jan. 20 (Happy Birthday!! to my brother, Greg!)
roasted vegetable and/or beef fajitas
lemon meringue pie

Sat. Jan. 21
Irish oatmeal
wheat toast

grilled steak
mashed potatoes
fried corn

Sun. Jan. 22
Manwich burgers
bread and butter pickles
vegetable plate with dip

Leftover Buffet!

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Curry in a Hurry

Blake, middle son, left yesterday to make the 5-hour trip back to grad school and work. His car was packed-up like a Conestoga wagon ready to hit the trail. He had boxes of Christmas gifts in the trunk and on the floor of the back; stacks of clean clothes draped over top; two coolers full of Mom's home-cooked food.... and in the drink holder, two home-brewed iced teas in travel mugs to keep him hydrated on the trip! It was dicey weather here yesterday; rained the entire time that we were packing his car, so I was relieved to get the call saying he was at his apartment (and asking which items of his food cargo should be refrigerated and which could go in the freezer). Justin, our oldest, has already put in a full week back at his job and he was packed-up the same way when he departed last week. When they've been home for a holiday break, it's like Noah preparing the ark when they get ready to leave. I'm not complaining, just find it comical. It is worth every minute of cooking, laundering (well, they do this part!) and packing, in exchange for the great time we get to spend with them. Our youngest, Ben, has returned to his high school classes only to spend his time watching reruns of The Office on his Ipad while some classmates review for semester finals. He found out yesterday that he also gets a 4 day weekend, so he's a pretty happy camper....some people have all the luck!

Now that everyone's back in their places, I go back to the managing of this house, and believe me, it needs managing! While the guys were here, I basically just kept towels and sheets clean and large portions of food COOKED. So, I really need to get the house back in order. Today I've got a recipe for a very quick curry if you're busy getting your place back into shape after the holidays, too.

Curry in a Hurry

1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
1 small onion, sliced thin
2 tsp curry powder (or a little more)
1/2 C plain yogurt
3/4 C heavy cream
1/2 tsp kosher salt (I've found this at Dollar Tree!)
1/4 tsp black pepper
One 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 rotisserie chicken (or leftover cooked chicken) Optional
2 C cooked rice
1/4 C cilantro, chopped

Heat oil on medium heat in a large skillet (I like cast iron). Add onion and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add yogurt and cream and simmer gently for 3 minutes. Stir in salt , pepper, curry powder and tomatoes. Remove from heat. Slice or shred chicken. Place chicken and rice in bowls and pour curry sauce over the top. Sprinkle with cilantro.

****Congratulations to Alabama's Crimson Tide coached by Nick Saban (a West Virginia boy!!)****

-Home is Where My Story Begins
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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Aunt Lena's 5 Hour Beef Stew

Yesterday was my birthday and last night the WVU Mountaineers (my Alma mater) delivered a great present... the 2012 Orange Bowl Championship!! I enjoyed watching that game with my sweetie so much! There was lots of cheering and clapping on my part.
Dana, who knows a lot more about football than I do, was happy about the way our team played, but much calmer (he tolerates my crazy excitability). I just had a good feeling all day yesterday about that game; A few years back, WVU beat OU and that was on my birthday, as well. (That was a win/win-kinda game, though, because we like both teams!) I hope all of the Mountaineers' future bowl games land on January 4th! (It really takes the sting out of being a year older for me when they win! :)

Except for e-mailing "Woo-Hoo, Mountaineers won!"-type stuff and calling family to "share the joy", it's back to real life today and sharing a stew recipe with you that I got from my Aunt Lena.
My Aunt Lena was my Mammam's twin sister and I have so many fond memories of her. I remember her as a smaller, quieter, gentler version of my grandmother; after all, she was the youngest, by a few minutes. (As a child, this was my observation of the differences in their personalities.) I loved my Mammam, and have been told that I sometimes remind people of her, but she had a bolder personality than her sister; the trait of an older sister, I guess. Aunt Lena was married twice, and loved children, but couldn't have any of her own. Consequently, she was close with Aunt Sis and my dad, her beloved niece and nephew. As Dad's offspring, and Mammam's grandchildren, we were blessed to have her as our great aunt.
When my brother and I were little, my Aunt Lena had a Pekingese named, "Peggy" who we adored. In fact, my brother, Greg, got stitches in his forehead from our race across the floor chasing Peggy under the bed. The little dog loved the game of tag, but Greg's head hit the steel frame at the bottom of our bunk beds and the fun came to a halt!
As children, we were sometimes invited to come spend the night at my aunt's house. What a treat! Her house always had candy waiting for us in the little gold candy dish that sat on her coffee table. It was a cheerful little house full of pastels, delicate furniture, and pale, flowered wallpaper. She had a collection of little fancy porcelain women's' heads, wearing fashionable hats and earrings, sitting in her china cabinet, a shelf which just fascinated me. I inherited her china cabinet.
She was a great cook, and fortunately, I have a few of her recipes. Here is my aunt's recipe for stew.

Aunt Lena's 5-Hour Stew

-2 to 3 lbs. cubed beef
-onions, potatoes, carrots, or any vegetable, chopped or cubed
-Add peas, beans, etc., about 1/2 C each
-Put all in a baking dish. Dribble 2 TBSP bacon grease over all, also 1 can tomato soup and 1/4 C cooking wine (or water), salt, pepper and parsley to taste. Cover well and cook 5-8 hours on 275 degrees.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Marcia's Game Time Punch

What an unusual New Year's Day! It was wonderful to start the new year by attending Sunday morning church service, but weird that no college football games were on until Monday. And the Dallas Cowboys' game on Sunday evening is not up for discussion! Let's just say the season is Over for them!
We, however, didn't have the lazy day in front of the fire, just watching college games, that I had originally envisioned. We spent most of Monday driving our oldest son back to his place because he returned to work today. We always enjoy holidays (or any day) when all three sons can be home, and as each of the older two go back to their regular lives, the house seems a little empty and less fun. Our couple of weeks with them was full of Christmas activities, Texas sightseeing, video gaming, board gaming, eating, conversation, laughter and a couple of trips to Starbucks. While Justin was here I made a punch that he really enjoyed. In fact, he asked for the recipe. I wrote it down on a Post-it note for him as we played a game of Balderdash. When I went in to strip the sheets from his bed this morning, I noticed that he had forgotten it and left it on the nightstand during the packing frenzy yesterday morning. So, guess what recipe I'll be sharing?! Here you go, Justin. We miss you.

****Congrats to OSU on their win at the Fiesta Bowl!!!****

Marcia's Game Time Punch

1/2 large can of frozen pineapple juice concentrate
1/2 bottle of Ocean Spray Cran-Pomegranite juice, chilled
1/2 bottle of Sprite, chilled
Scoops of rainbow sherbert, floated on top, when you're ready to serve.

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