Category Archives: Recipes & Reflections

Summer Strawberry Pie

This recipe from The Four Ingredient Cookbook caught my attention. I’m always on the lookout for super easy recipes that I can whip up without too many ingredients.  This one sounded refreshing for a summertime dessert and not too much work for a tired homeschool mom.

1 Box strawberry Jello

2/3 cup boiling water and 2 cups ice cubes

1 carton Cool Whip

1 cup sliced strawberries

Dissolve Jello in boiling water.  Add 2 c. ice cubes.  After the ice is melted,  blend in Cool Whip until smooth.  Fold in strawberries.  Chill until mixture  is quite thick and  will mound.  Spoon into graham cracker crust.  Decorate with strawberry slices if desired.  Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Baked Onion Rings

Onions are so wonderful.  They are healthy, delicious and so very versatile.   If an onion is frying, you know that dinner is on the way because of the wonderful aroma that fills your home.

When I was first married, I was always trying to be the “perfect Proverbs 31” wife.  I  wanted to have dinner at least started before my husband came home.  I  wanted the house to smell good for him as well.  I still do….but I have a lot more on my list these days…like finishing lessons, cleaning up books, and putting projects away before he arrives.  Well anyway, back in my early married years,  If I did not have anything ready for dinner, I’d just begin frying an onion so that at least when my husband entered the house smelled good to him.   Most of the time I’d think of something to make that began with an onion!

Onions have a variety of medicinal effects. Early American settlers used wild onions to treat colds, coughs, and asthma, and to repel insects. In Chinese medicine, onions have been used to treat angina, coughs, bacterial infections, and breathing problems. Onions contain a number of sulfides similar to those found in garlic which may lower blood lipids and blood pressure. In India, communities that never consumed onions or garlic had blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels substantially higher, and blood clotting times shorter, than the communities that ate liberal amounts of garlic and onions. Onions are a rich source of flavonoids, substances known to provide protection against cardiovascular disease. In light of all of this information, perhaps we should make an extra effort to add more onions in our diets.  I hope you will like this easy recipe for baked onion rings.
1/4 – 1/2 cup  flour
2 egg whites
2 tbsp skim milk
1/2-1 cup plain Panko Bread crumbs(Japanese Bread crumbs)
salt & Pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and grease  a large baking sheet

Not Chicken Again!!!

We eat a lot of chicken in our family. It seems like it is the most affordable item these days and there are dozens of ways to prepare this very economical meat.  Still though I have found myself staring at a plate of chicken breasts wondering………what shall I do with these?  I thought I’d post some super easy 4 ingredient recipes for chicken  that I found in The four Ingredient Cook Book.  I hope you will enjoy them!  ~Anne

Honey Baked Chicken Breasts

4 chicken breasts (skinless, boneless)

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Combine honey and mustard. (set 2 tbsp of mixture aside) Dip chicken and roll in bread crumbs.  Bake for 30 min @ 400

Spoon honey mixture (that was set aside) over chicken breasts and continue to bake for 10-15 more min.

Tasty Chicken

4 chicken breasts (skinless and boneless)

1/3 c. tomato juice

1/2 teas. garlic powder

1/2 teas. oregano

Pound chicken  with mallet until uniform thickness.  Roll chicken breasts in tomato juice.  Place chicken on foil in baking dish and sprinkle with garlic and oregano mixture.  Bake @ 350 for 45 minutes.

Cranberry Chicken

6 chicken breasts

1 8oz bottle fat-free Catalina salad dressing

1 package dry onion soup mix

1  16oz can whole cranberry sauce

Sunday Dinner~Pot Roast

We did not eat Pot Roast all the time when I was a child, but we did have it now and then for our Sunday meal. When a Pot Roast was in the oven cooking, somehow the day seemed more special, like  Sunday was meant to be.  I’m not sure where this came from, probably from my Mom’s Irish and English ancestors, but my Mom designated Sunday to be the day that an extra special meal was to be prepared. She would call it “Sunday Supper.”

I’ve heard that Sunday Roast dates back to when the squire would treat his serfs to a meal of roast oxen every Sunday to reward them for the week’s work. Who knows for sure why my mom had these traditions, she was not fancy or organized, but there were just things that she did,  that were not contrived or planned….she did what her Mother taught her I guess. I appreciate my mom so much and know that she wanted to please us all….food was one way that she showed her love.

I don’t have my Mother’s pot roast recipe, probably because she rarely used a recipe. I recall only having one recipe book that was shoved in a bottom drawer; it was hardly used unless we wanted to make chocolate chip cookies or something like that.  In honor of my dear mom and acknowledging the realities of our modern hectic world here’s a super easy 4 ingredient Pot Roast recipe that I hope you’ll enjoy with your family. ~Anne

Comfort Food & Family Memories

Certain dishes just bring a flood of memories.  I recently made a big pot of chicken and dumplings for my sister and her family when they stopped by on their way back from a family road trip.  When my sister saw the bubbling stew in my green dutch oven pot she remembered our Mom.  Even her husband in his thick Bostonian accent commented that his mom used to make this dish as well and it seemed like such classic New England fare. Whenever I prepare corned beef and cabbage, I’m twelve again for a few minutes at least,  and my Mom’s in the kitchen cooking for our family.   Even a simple peanut butter and Marshmellow fluff sandwich on white bread brings me back to my childhood days. My mom used to make this sandwich for my siblings and I, and I assumed that she invented it herself.  Turns out this is a New England Classic as well.  This sandwich is called a flutternutter and generations of New Englanders fondly associate Marshmallow Fluff with their childhood. The flutternutter sandwich  is a local tradition almost as popular as a nice hot bowl of clam chowder (chowdah).  I always wondered why my husband (who has southern roots) had never had this sandwich.  I guess when my family headed west they brought  a bit of New England with them!

Sometimes I wonder if my children will have certain meals that they will remember and talk about when they are in their own homes with their children.  I wonder if they will keep some of the traditions and recipes from our family.  I hope they do.

Baked Chicken Nuggets

Several years ago I hosted a potluck baby shower and one of the Mother’s brought yummy chicken nuggets in a pretty napkin  lined basket.  She also had a dipping sauce with them. They were a healthy and delicious treat and we all enjoyed them.

BAKED CHICKEN NUGGETS

1/2 Cup fine, dry Breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 Teas. dried basil, thyme

1/4 Teas sea salt

4 Skinned and boned chicken breast halves, cut into 1 inch pieces.

1 cup melted butter

Combine first 5 ingredients in a heavy zip lock bag. Seal and shake. Dip chicken in butter and shake a few pieces at a time into breadcrumb mixture. Place chicken on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until browned. Serves about 4.

Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce

1 cup honey

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

Combine the honey and mustard. This sauce is best when prepared a day or two ahead of time. It may be served at room temperature. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

Combine all ingredients and heat until hot and the sugar has dissolved. Serve warm or at room temperature. This sauce may be prepared a few days in advance and warmed before serving. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Are you in the mood for a Mexican Meal?

If you want to make a simple, wholesome, healthy, down to earth dinner tonight try these economical recipes.  Nearly every family can afford to make up a pot of beans and homemade tortillas.  Simple, but hearty, nutritious, and good!

FLOUR TORTILLAS

2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil,non-hydrogenated lard, or butter
3/4 cup lukewarm milk

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add oil to milk and whisk briefly.Add the milk to the flour mixture, and with clean hands, work into a sticky dough.

On lightly floured surface, knead vigorously for about 2 minutes until the dough is no longer sticky.

Return dough to bowl, cover with a damp cloth 10 -20 minutes.

Divide dough into 8 balls of equal size, cover rest again for about 20 minutes.

One at a time, remove each piece of dough. Press it out into a 5-inch circle..you can use a tortilla press if you have one. Using a flour dusted rolling pin, roll out the tortilla from the center out until the tortilla measures a little less than 1/4 inch thick and is a 7 or 8 inch circle.

Preheat skillet or griddle and cook tortilla one at a time. When tortilla begins to blister, allow it to cook for 30 seconds, flip, and cook the other side the same way.
Remove tortilla, place it in on a clean paper towel and cover loosely with foil.
Tortillas freeze well. Wrap tightly in plastic. Keeps frozen for several weeks.

Duggars Ice Cream Cake Recipe

I saw this recipe  while viewing The Duggars on television one evening.  Are you all familiar with  who the Duggars are?  You know…they are the nice homeschool  family with the 19 children.  Well anyway, we tried this recipe and it was very rich, decadent and impressive to look at.  The best part of this recipe is that it is so very easy.  You really feel like you are cheating because it is only mostly homemade….sort of.

24 Ice cream sandwiches

8 ounces cool whip

2 king size butterfinger candy bars chopped up

1 squeeze bottle Hershey chocolate syrup

1 squeeze bottle Smuckers caramel topping

Arrange in six layers in a 9×13 in pan

First layer-12 sandwiches, placed over bottom of pan

Second layer-1/2 container of Cool Whip

Third layer– 1/2 chopped up butter finer bars topped with 1/2 choc syrup and 1/2 bottle caramel topping.

Fourth layer-the rest of the Cool Whip

Sixth layer-the rest of chopped-up Butterfiner, caramel topping a choc syrup

Freeze and eat as desired.

*You might want to prepare and eat this before it becomes illegal under the new health care plan. (Grin)

Hearty Lentil Soup

One fall day our family received an invite to  lunch with a sweet homeschool family in our town.  My boys were excited to have an invite,  and I  looked forward to visiting and getting to know another homeschool family. I usually learn something new when I visit another family,  and come home inspired in some way.  This time, I was inspired to make the delicious soup that was prepared for us. I have been making it ever since.  I can’t believe I had never prepared or even eaten lentil soup before!  My family loves it now when I prepare it and even my hubby…who is not a big soup eater likes this one.  I think the cinnamon gives it the special unique flavor, and the potatoes and ground turkey make it very hearty. I hope you will enjoy this  soup as much as we have. ~Anne

* 1-2 lbs lentils (rinsed)

* 13-18 cups water

* 1-2 cups chopped carrots

* 1-2 cups chopped  celery

* 1-2 c. chopped onions

* 3-5 Tbsp healthy chicken Boullion or replace water with broth

* 1-2 cinnamon sticks or you can use a t. of cinnamon

* 4 Bay leaves

* 3-5 small potatoes cubed

*1 lb ground turkey

Dinner Dilemma?

It is not uncommon for my best friend to call me in the evening, just about dinner time  and say, I don’t know what to make for dinner…I’m in such a cooking rut…..or I’m too tired to make dinner. I know exactly how she feels and so together we figure out something that she can quickly prepare that is easy and healthy.

Now these ideas are not anything extraordinary or fancy and we both acknowledge that our dinner dilemma is a result of our own lack of planning, still though….knowing this,  we come up with ideas that satisfy our families and fill their tummies. ~Anne

These are some of our top 20 dinner dilemma meals.

*  Egg & Cheese Burritos, Fruit

*  Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Raw Veggies w/ ranch dip

*  Angel hair pasta w/ Parmesan cheese & Garlic, steamed broccoli

*  Bean & Cheese Burritos or Quesadilla’s, Avacado or Salsa

*  French Toast, Fruit

*  Baked Potatoes w/ toppings (chili, broccoli & cheese or salsa)

*  Leftovers (warm up whatever you have and buffet style it!)

*  Ramen noodles w/ veggies or chicken added

*  Grilled cheese sandwiches & Tomato Soup

*  Cheese Egg Omelets, Toast, Fruit

*  White Chicken Chile ( canned navy beans, left over chicken, jack cheese)

*  Buttered noodles w/ chopped broccoli

*  Fried eggs & potatoes w/onion, (use left over potatoes and fry them up        w/ an onion….add an egg to brown nicely)

We Can’t Live Without Cooks!

We may live without poetry, music and art;
We may live without conscience and live without heart;
We may live without friends, we may live without books;
But civilized man cannot live without cooks!

He may live without books-what is knowledge but grieving?
He may live without hope,-what is hope but deceiving?
He may live without love, -what is passion but pining?
But where is the man that can live without dining?
By Owen Meredith

~Best Banana Bread~

Whenever I make this bread my children cheer, my husband enjoys, my nephew wants to come over…it is that good.  It is moist and very flavorful.  It’s not a low fat, low sugar recipe,  but is so very delicious that it is worth the treat once in a while.  It also freezes well.  The riper the bananas the better for this one!  This recipe is doubled so you can freeze  or share.

1 c. butter

2 c. sugar

4 eggs

2 -3 cups of very ripe mashed bananas

(this is about 3-6 bananas, I use a zip lock bag and smash them inside the

bag…kids love to do this)

2 1/2 c. flour

1 1/2 t. baking soda

1 teas. salt

You can also add chocolate chips (highly recommended) or nuts

Bake @ 350  ’til golden brown.  You can use mini bread pans, muffin tins, or regular sized bread pans.  Check with a toothpick or fork to make sure cooked all the way through.

July 4th Salads

Sesame Chicken & Rice Salad

3/4 c Rice
1 1/2 c Water
2 c Pea pods
2 c Diced cooked Chicken
1 11-ounce can mandarin orange sections, well drained
1/2 c Sliced water chestnuts, halved
1/4 c Red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 tb Sesame oil
1 tb Salad oil
Salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
3/16 ts Garlic powder

Run cold water over rice in a strainer for about 1 minute, lifting rice to rinse well.

In a medium saucepan bring rice and water to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 40 to 50 minutes or until done. Drain. Rinse with cold water. Drain again.

In a mixing bowl toss together the rice, pea pods, chicken, orange sections, and water chestnuts. Cover; chill rice mixture for 6 hours or overnight.

In a screw-top jar combine vinegar, sesame and salad oils, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cover; chill at least 6 hours or overnight.

Transport the vinegar and oil mixture and the rice mixture separately in an insulated cooler with an ice pack.

Before serving at the picnic, shake vinegar and oil mixture well. Pour over rice mixture; toss.

Holiday Coleslaw
1 head cabbage, shredded
1 onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

In a deep bowl, toss cabbage, onion, and peppers. In a bowl, stir together remaining ingredients. Stir mayonnaise mixture into vegetables. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Keep the Kitchen Cool Crockpot Ideas!

*ITALIAN CHICKEN STEW*
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
1 can Cannelloni Beans ( I couldn’t find these on the shelf and just substituted white beans)
1 can kidney beans
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes undrained
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup sliced carrots
2 small garlic cloves coarsely chopped
1 cup water
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. dried Italian Seasonings

In a 4 qt. Crock pot combine chicken, beans, tomatoes, celery, carrots and garlic; mix well. In medium bowl, combine all remaining ingredients; mix well. Pour over chicken and vegetables; mix well.

Cover and cook on low setting for 8-10 hours or on high for 5-6, or till vegetables are tender.

*HERBED ROAST BEEF*
3-pound boneless beef tip roast
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. mixed dried herb leaves
1/2 tsp.pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup balsamic vinegar (or use red wine vinegar)

Spray 12″ skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Cook beef in skillet about 5 minutes until brown on all sides. Sprinkle with salt, herbs and pepper.

Place garlic in a 4-5 quart slow cooker. Place beef on garlic. Pour vinegar over beef

*ALL DAY MACARONI AND CHEESE*
8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
4 cups(16 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Basic Sauces

I once heard someone say that the best “sauce” is hunger pains….still it’s a good think to know how to whip up some simple sauces.  Perhaps if we copy and stick them on the fridge we will use these instead of a package mix.  Blessings,  Anne

*Basic White Sauce

For a thin sauce melt 1 tbsp butter over medium-low heat.  Stir in 1 Tbsp flour and heat for 1 min. to form a roux (a paste) Remove from heat and whisk in 1/4 c. of milk.  Return to heat and stir til thickened.  Gradually add the rest of milk while stirring gently.  You can also use evaporated milk for a quicker sauce. For variations on this sauce you can add finely grated cheese, or 1 tsp dried dill, or dried tarragon.  For a mushroom sauce add 1/2 c. sliced sauteed mushrooms.  Add salt/Pepper to taste.

*Basic Brown Sauce

2 Tbsp Butter or pan drippings, 1 small carrot diced, 1 small onion diced, 1/4 c. flour, 2 1/2 cups Beef stock, salt & Pepper.

Heat butter over med. heat.  Add veggies and saute til browned.  Add flour to make a roux (paste). Lower heat and cook til light brown.  Add stock and bring to boil. Stir constantly til thick.  Strain to remove veggies and any lumps.  Salt and pepper to taste.

*Basic Gravy

Summer Salad

A  friend prepared this simple dish for our family one summer day and now my boys ask for it all the time.  I like this recipe because I can add or subtract any ingredients and it is still delicious and satisfying.  Don’t let your pantry run down so you can make it all summer long. Enjoy!

1 box Tri-Colored Pasta (cooked and rinsed)
1/2 bottle Italian Dressing (to taste)
1 small can sliced black olives (drained and rinsed)
1 bag shredded carrots

1 pint Grape tomatos (Sliced in 1/2’s)

1 large cucumber (diced)

cooked bacon crumbles

Garbonzo Beans or Green beans (Canned)

2-3 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese

You can really add whatever else sounds good.  Sometimes I add croutons, Kidney beans, broccoli pieces,  manderine oranges or cheddar cheese cubes.  The main thing is keep it chilled, add your Italian dressing and use whatever you have on hand that sounds good. This is good for lunch and keeps for several days in fridge.  Chill and serve cold.  Enjoy!

A weeks worth of easy dinners

Monday                                  

Savory Chicken
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
ground black pepper to taste
4 slices Swiss cheese
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup milk
1 cup dry bread crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Place chicken breasts in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Season with ground black pepper to taste. Top each breast with a slice of cheese.
3. Mix together the soup and milk and pour mixture over chicken. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top and drizzle with melted butter/margarine.
4. Bake covered in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday

HEARTY BEEF CHILI
1 29-ounce can tomatoes, cut up
1 10 ounce can chopped tomatoes and green chili peppers
2 c. vegetable juice or tomato juice
1-2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs. beef or pork stew meat, cut into 1″ cubes
2 c. chopped onion
1 1/2 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped green pepper
2 15-ounce cans black, kidney, and/or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
Toppers such as shredded Mexican cheese or cheddar cheese, dairy sour cream, thinly sliced green onion, snipped cilantro, thinly sliced jalapeno peppers, and/or sliced pitted ripe olives (optional)

In a 6 quart crockery cooker combine both cans of undrained tomatoes, vegetables or tomato juice, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and garlic. Stir in the meat, onion, celery, and sweet pepper.

Mom's New England Boiled Dinner & Hospitality

My beloved mother passed away three year’s ago this January. As I reminisce about her, I am realizing more and more that she had her priorities in order.  My mom was not a very organized person, nor did she have an immaculate house. She would say that our home was “lived-in”. She did not have a schedule book or even a calendar hanging in the kitchen. In spite of this, she always practiced hospitality. She would never “schedule” someone in to invite for dinner, but welcomed all who crossed her path to come in , relax and eat.

For certain, practicing hospitality was a lifestyle for her. I’m really not sure how this was accomplished but we seemed to always have folks over. If mom made a pot of chicken soup, or spaghetti, she would make extra to share with someone in our neighborhood. She was not a fussbudget about her table and our dishes were not lovely or even matching. I don’t think she even noticed. She was just so delighted to have a full house. (well I should say, a fuller house because there were already 6 of us in a small 2 bedroom apartment). Nearly every Sunday she made a special dinner. Often it was her “New England Boiled Dinner.” She’d boil a ham or corned beef, add cabbage, potatoes, some small onions, carrots, a bay leaf and a turnip or two. The aroma of the beef and vegetables boiling seemed to make it a special day. You just knew it was Sunday because something especially yummy was on the stove. Most of the folks who ate with us were not actually invited in a formal way. Neighbors would drop by from our apartment complex, or my brothers college friends would be over.

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