Monday, December 7, 2009

Sugar Cookies (For LT)

Ethel's Sugar Cookies

Before you ask, no, there is no one named Ethel in my family. This recipe comes to us courtesy of Betty Crocker's CookyBook, of which, my copy is my Grandmother's from 1973. Not that old, I know, but the recipe itself goes back at least another 30 years prior to this edition...and the book has Grandma's hand-written notes about additions and changes she made...

These cookies are crispy, not soft, but are FABULOUS for decorating and sharing with neighbors, classrooms, teachers, small groups etc. It is a MESS to make them what with the floured rolling surface, and it makes right around 4 dozen, unless you use a really little cookie cutter. I try to use nothing smaller than 3 inches...but takes a looooong time to get all that flour actually cleaned up when we're done.

3/4 C shortening (I use all butter in mine, but a combo, or just Crisco works too)
1 C sugar
2 eggs (at room temp works best)
1/2 tsp flavoring (we use good old vanilla, but lemon, or almond are yummy too!)
2 1/2 C all-purpose flour **
1 tsp baking POWDER
1 tsp salt

Cream the sugar, butter, eggs, and flavoring. Measure flour using dipping method (just dip your cup and sort of tap it against the side of your container lightly), and stir with baking powder and salt. Add gradually. Chill at least 1 hour (if you can't bake right away, it can sit covered tightly overnight, and then just let it come a bit warm before rolling, so you can work it).

Roll dough on floured surface (even using my good ol' Tupperware mat, I still have to flour) to 1/8 inch thick. Cut using desired cutters. Bake at 400F for 6 - 8 minutes (I only do about 5 at my altitude) or until delicate golden. Let cool completely and decorate as desired.

** If you use "self-rising" flour, don't add the baking powder or salt. I always use "Hungarian Flour", unbleached and they turn out ok.

Monday, September 21, 2009


As the holidays approach us once more, I'm putting a challenge out to any who follow this blog, or just pop on by from time to time.

Between now and November 1, come up with your all-time favorite Holiday Entree and Side Dish, and share it with us (this means no secret family recipes!).

Bring on the good food, and don't worry about "healthy variations"...just post it the way you remember it, and you can add your disclaimer at the bottom that you've adapted it to your family's needs!

I'm excited to see what we can throw together over the coming weeks, and maybe, just maybe, we can start some new family traditions this year with new recipes!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chocolate Cheesecake & Strawberry Sauce

So I combined two cheesecake recipes in order to use the ingredients I had on hand. Every other recipe I found required something I didn't have, and as this baking adventure began after 10 p.m., I needed to get creative. It worked. Here are the tasty results below.

2.25 c. Oreo crumbs
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
2 pkgs. (8oz/250g each) Light Cream Cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk (light if they have it)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 pkg. (8 squares) 70% Baker's Chocolate
2 c. Strawberries (frozen works great)
scant 1/3 c. Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla

DIRECTIONS for Crust and Filling:
1. Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, combine cracker crumbs and sugar. Stir in butter. Press onto the bottom of a greased 10" springform pan. (I press the crust about 1 inch up the sides as well, but that is a matter of personal preference, if you like crust on the side or not)

2. In a double boiler, melt chocolate until smooth. Be very careful not to scorch, and remove from bottom of boiler when the chocolate is melted. Set aside. (I don't have a double boiler, but use a small metal bowl over a small sauce pan of hot water on the stove.)

3. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate, and vanilla until really smooth.

4. Add eggs one at a time, beating on low just until each is combined. (If you beat too hard, your cheesecake will crack because the eggs hold air that collects during the beating process.)

5. Pour over crust. Bake at 325 for 45 minutes. Then turn off oven, crack door open and bake another 10 minutes. This will help set the cheesecake and help prevent cracks in the top of your cheesecake. (You'll still have one or two, but they shouldn't be major. I actually had a few that corrected themselves during the 10 minutes that the door was open.)

6. Remove and cool on wire rack for 30 minutes to an hour. Gently run a knife along the edge of the pan, and then place in refrigerator. Do not disassemble the pan yet! Cool overnight.

7. Carefully disassemble the edge of the springform pan. Cut into 12 pieces. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. (I set aside a few pieces, and then individually wrap and freeze the rest for other occasions. It freezes well for a few months in a deep freeze.)

1. Cut strawberries in pieces and place in small sauce pan. (If frozen, thaw a bit first.) Add sugar and vanilla.

2. Heat on medium low heat and stir until bubbly and thickened, about five minutes. Remove from heat and mash with a potato ricer. Cool in refrigerator.

3. Pour a few tablespoonfuls over individual pieces of cake and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Asian Veggie Wraps & Artichokes

We had some serious leftovers to deal with in the veggie department, so I got creative. It was absolutely yummy and incredibly healthy. Because everything was naturally low in fat and high in fiber, the dip we made for the artichokes wasn't even a cause for guilt. I'll share it all below.

Asian Veggie Wraps for two or three...
Butter Lettuce Leaves, washed and crisped whole (I buy living lettuce, which actually comes with roots in a bit of soil enclosed in a plastic box that you just water and keep cool until ready to wash and use.)
2 c. Butternut Squash, cut in large chunks
1/2 c. Brown Rice
1.5 c. water
1/2 c. Eggplant, cut in small bites
1/2 Portobello Mushroom (or whole, whatever you have on hand), cut in small pieces
1/4 c. Red Onion, chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic, chopped fine
1 T. Fresh Rosemary
3 T. Asian Ginger & Sesame Sauce (I use Trader Joe's Goya Sauce, but anything Teryaki Flavored will work. The key is boldness.)
1 T. Olive Oil

1. Prepare the Lettuce leaves as above, and set aside in the frig for later. (Butter lettuce is sometimes called Boston lettuce or Bibb lettuce.)

2. Prepare Brown Rice and water. I put both in a pot with a glass lid, bring to a boil for a few minutes, and then turn down to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Then I turn off the heat and leave it covered for another 35 minutes to finish steaming. If you do it this way, you just have to make sure the water does not completely evaporate while the stove is still doing its thing. So if your brown rice comes with other instructions, do whatever it says to do for 1/2 c. of dry rice.

3. Steam the squash until tender enough to mash by hand. Mash with a fork or potato ricer and add to finished rice.

4. Meanwhile, saute onion, garlic, eggplant, and portobello in olive oil until tender. The onion will be nearly translucent. Add the rosemary and Asian sauce in the last couple minutes of cooking, stirring in well. When all is tender and combined, add to squash and rice mixture, stirring in well. (It will look weird, but it is totally delicious.)

5. Serve by spooning into the lettuce leaves and rolling up like a burrito, or you could serve it on/in pita bread. It's savory and deliciously healthy. We loved this experiment, and are so glad we tried it.

*This dish does NOT need any added salt since the Asian sauce has plenty of sodium.

Steamed Artichokes & Dip
1 Large Whole Raw Artichoke
Juice of one lemon
1/3 c. Mayonnaise
1 tsp. White Sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Herbs de Provence
1/2 tsp. Dried Thyme
1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Dash Black Pepper

1. Prepare artichoke by cutting fresh end off of stem, cutting tips off of leaves, and cutting whole artichoke in half. Using a spoon, scoop out the choke - that's the "hairy" part in the middle - and throw away. Brush lemon juice (or cut lemon half that is slightly squeezed to release some juice) all over the artichoke to prevent browning.

2. Place artichoke halves cut side down in steamer pot and steam on medium low heat for around 40 minutes, or until heart and leaves are tender.

3. Meanwhile, mix the rest of the lemon juice and all other ingredients in small bowl. Taste to see if you think it's to your liking, and stick in frig until ready to serve.

4. To eat the artichoke, remove leaves one at a time; dip into mayo mixture, and eat by scraping the fleshy inside part of leaf against your bottom teeth. Discard the tough part of leaf in bowl reserved for that use. Keep removing leaves until you get to the stem and heart. This can be eaten in its entirety.

5. You may have some dip left. It will keep a few days in the frig and is great to add to sandwiches, as a veggie dip, or to use with rice or potatoes to add zing.

*If your artichokes are on the small side, you could serve a whole one for each person. It's not too hard to gently open center of leaves to scoop out the choke without having to cut the whole thing in half. Then you would just steam upside down for same amount of time or a bit longer.

*These recently got press as being the top Super Veggie. (Don't know if they can fly though.) So it's worth trying. And the fiber from these yummy treats is a whole lot tastier than metamucil!

Monday, March 16, 2009

My soup experiment- what to do with a ham bone

After perusing some recipes and finding mostly the sort that I love but hubby would not touch with a ten foot spoon, I'm working on my own brew. All because the ham bone keeps taking up freezer space and symmetry. (Hubby dislikes creamy, potatoey, or beany soups.)

Here's what I threw into the big pot:
*frozen ham bone, foil wrapping removed
*2 frozen boneless chicken breasts, because mom in law did such a good job carving the meat off the ham bone. or maybe it was grandma in law.
* 3/4 yellow onion, diced
*2 cloves garlic, pressed in my pampered chef garlic press. or was it 3?
* 3 stalks celery. chopped
* approx 1 c frozen corn
*several dashes of Italian-style seasoning
*1 whole bay leaf (my mom usually puts a bay leaf in her homemade broth-based soups. remove before serving soup)
*1/4 c olive oil
*4 buillion cubes (chicken)
And of course, I filled the pot with water.

Yet to add:
long grain rice of some type.... it's still at the store, and the baby's napping

to be continued....

......4:32 p.m.
The kids and I trekked to Kroger. Well, I should say rode to Kroger, we did not trek the mile there and back this time. ;) Came home, pulled the ham bone out, along with cartilage and fatty stuff. Then I removed the chicken breasts, chopped them up real good, and scraped the meat back off the cutting board into the pot. (Do I sound southern enough for y'all?) I added the following:

*1/2 red onion, chopped
*1 1/2 c brown rice
*1/4 c long whole grain rice
*ground tellicherry black pepper to taste

It's all simmering slowly in the 6 qt pot, waiting for the rice to be tender and hubby to come home. I might throw some sliced almonds on top when I dish the soup, I saw almonds in some of the recipes online but could not remember if they were a garnish or actually cooked in. On second thought, yes, almond flavor simmered in would be nice.... unless you're allergic to nuts.

CONCLUSION: Experiment was a success!
It's a good thing I decided to add the chicken, because there really was not much meat on the bone at all. But the combo of flavors tasted good. I probably did not need the olive oil, or as much, but it tasted fine... it was just a tad oilier than I prefer.But at least the rice did not stick to the bottom of the pot! Not bad, though, and still less fattening than many chilis! I ended up leaving the almonds out (forgot to add them), but I bet they would have been a nice touch.

Hubby's honest opinion: He doesn't like it as well as my top notch chicken noodle soup, but he would rate it "pretty good."

I've been stuck in a rut, and was tired of my regular soups (the aforementioned chicken noodle and veggie beef). I like soups when I'm recovering from colds and can taste my food again. This hit the spot for me. I'll find out if the leftovers are good tomorrow. If they are, I'll freeze a batch.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Crock-Pot Roast

This has to be one of my favorite stand-bys...from growing up, when Mom was working full-time outside the house...always the best smell in the world when you open your door and come home at the end of a long hard day!


1 Beef Roast (cut of your choice, and weight enough to feed your fam)
1 - 2 cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 packet Lipton's Onion Mushroom Soup Mix (off brands work well also, this is just my favorite!)

Optional Ingredients:

2-3 red, or 1 white "baking" potato for each family member + 1 or 2 more for the pot or leftovers
Carrots (baby work well if you're tight on time)


Scrub potatoes, and cut larger ones in halves or quarters. Peel carrots, and cut into largish chunks. Place roast in crock-pot fatty side up. Dump can(s) of mushroom soup on top. Open packet of soup mix and dump contents on top of soup and meat. Add potatoes and carrots. Plug in crock-pot, put on the lid, turn on to low and let it cook all day long.

I usually work with a fully defrosted roast, and cut the time in half (to about 4 hours). About 1/2 to 1 hour before serving, check the meat for "done-ness", and slice it up, trimming the fat. Return meat to crock-pot until time to eat! If your family prefers noodles, or mashed potatoes with their roast, simply leave out the potatoes and/or carrots. We love the flavor of the meat with the carrots and potatoes, and it makes it rather "stewy", but is a fast and easy dinner to come home to! Serve with salad.

Hope this makes some of those cold wintery nights better!