Saturday, February 28, 2009

Corn Muffins with Honey Butter

We love cornbread, but it often gets either dry or crumbly if it lasts more than one meal. I found this recipe for corn muffins in an old Country Woman magazine. It is a total hit with all of the family and the muffins last a few days, tasting just as good as leftovers as they did right out of the oven.

Corn Muffins
2 cups flour
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup powdered milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbls baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 2/3 cups water
1 stick butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbls lemon juice

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add water, butter, eggs and lemon juice. Stir until mixture is just moistened. Spoon into 24 greased muffin cups. Bake at 425 degrees for 13-15 minutes.

Honey Butter
2 Tbls honey
1 stick butter, softened
In a mixing bowl, beat together honey and butter. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Visit 3 Sides of Crazy and Happy 2 Be @ Home for great Sunday recipes.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Best Bundt Cake

A friend of mine introduced me to this recipe years ago.  She used IMO in place of the sour cream.  That wouldn't help if you were non-dairy, though, because there is milk in the pudding mix.  I decided I might just as well use sour cream instead.  Until the one time that I didn't have enough in the house and I substituted Laughing Cow cheese triangles for the rest.  Don't squirm, it was okay.  Not one person guessed there was such a weird ingredient in the cake and it was just as moist as ever.

I have seen this recipe with both chocolate and vanilla pudding mixes. I think you could use butterscotch, banana or coconut, too with great results. You could also substitute other varieties of cake mix, too.  I bet it would be fabulous with lemon or strawberry cake and vanilla chips.   Think outside the box and get creative!

Best Bundt Cake...Ever
1 yellow cake mix
1 small package instant pudding
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chocolate chips (you can vary the kind of chips, too)

Add pudding mix to cake mix and stir. Mix cake with water, sugar, oil and eggs. Stir in sour cream and chips. Pour into a greased and floured (remember to use cocoa here if making a chocolate cake) Bundt pan. Bake 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until cake springs back. Cool slightly for about 7 minutes and turn over onto a plate.

9-11 Remembrance –

I am submitting this to Family Fresh Cooking's Bake to Remember in honor of the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy.  

Monday, February 23, 2009

Congo Bars

There have been a lot of complaints in my home lately because I only make desserts every other night. I try to make a dish that will last 2 nights, but sometimes the gang gobbles it up faster than my ability to step in and control the consumption rate. It's all my fault, really, because I was raised to think no meal was complete without dessert (yes, including breakfast). Now that I am much wiser, I am faced with years of ingrained bad habits that the men-folk aren't willing to relinquish. It's all very frustrating. Anyway, tonight's treat is a new recipe I found in the Busy Family Cookbook. That cookbook is filled with easy, no nonsense recipes that the whole family enjoys.

Congo Bars:
1 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup coconut
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Melt butter and add sugars. Conbine dry ingredients and add to sugar mixture. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Add coconut and chips and optional nuts. Bake in a 9 X 13 pan at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Today, we are linked to MMMM Mondays at Mommies with Cents and Homemaker Mondays at 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven and Making a Happy Home at As for Me and My House.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Saturday Stories: Mud Pies and Dress Up

I was an only child and and only grandchild on my Mom's side for my first 13 years. I like to think I wasn't spoiled, but, frankly, I was probably terrible. My father was in the military, so we moved all over the place. My parents were both from up-state New York. We tried to visit their old stomping grounds at least once a year; more often if we happened to live a day's drive away. Most of my childhood was spent in the northeast.

I adored my mom's parents. They lived in an old farmhouse on a busy highway. They also had a barn and a cottage on their 3 acres of property. The house itself had been remodeled by everyone who had ever owned it. It had been a house, a set of apartments, an inn and a restaurant by the time I was born. Because my grandparents had lost three of their four children, I was never given free reign to explore. I always wanted to go into the barn, but that was too dangerous. Frankly, I don't think I ever actually went more than 3 feet into that mysterious building. I couldn't run free on the property because there was a well that I could have fallen into and a huge, Huge lilac bush that had bees that could have stung me. I was scared spitless of the cellar in the house, so I didn't want to go there, but because of the boiler and the pile of coal that Bumpa had delivered each year, I probably wouldn't have been allowed there either.

With all of the restictions I had imposed on my movements, you might wonder why it was so fun to visit. I will tell you, most of it had to do with the fact that Mamie played with me. Once I was old enough to sleep in a bedroom away from my parents (I was about 5 or 6), I got to sleep in a big (tall) antique bed with Mamie. She complained every morning that I had kicked her black and blue, but she never expected me to sleep alone. In that special bedroom that I came to think of as mine, there was a tall chest of drawers filled with every hat Mamie had ever owned. In my mom's old closet hung Mom's old prom dresses and band cape. I spent hours playing dress-up. The dresses were not long on an adult, so on me they didn't seem overly big to me. They were full of flounces and lace. I felt like a princess, especially when I got to use Mamie's jewelry, too.

Other fun activities involved Mamie's huge kitchen. Knowing that I loved organizing things even as a child, she would mess up her pantry before I got there and then ask me if I wanted to organize it for her while I was visiting. I always felt like I was doing her such a big favor. She was really the one do me the favor.

When we visited during warm weather, I would help Mamie in her rock garden. She would tell me the names of the flowers and show me which plants were weeds. The west side of their yard was filled with wonderfully tall trees. One in particular had, through a quirk of nature, grown with a cavitiy near the ground. It was a perfect pretend oven. Mamie saved aluminum tart pans for me and together we'd make mud pies filled with wild flowers and then bake them in that tree. Often, I'd put a "pie" in the tree and forget about it for the rest of the visit. The next time I arrived, I would run out to the tree and sure enough, there was a very done mud pie waiting for my return.

Bumpa mowed his big lawn with a tractor. He would let me sit on his lap and "steer." That was so much fun. He also kept a pair of binoculars in the kitchen and together we would watch squirrels and bird frolic through the yard. Bumpa was completely enamored of trains and loved to share his passion with me. He'd talk to me as though I were a grown up and include me in his discussions.

I always felt so important when I visited my grandparents. They were completely interested in everything I did, said or accomplished. I have letters that my grandfather wrote to me that to this day make me laugh. He later developed Alzheimer's and by the time he died, he didn't know anyone. I didn't get to see my grandparents much after I got married. They were in New York and for the most part, I was in Washington. I am so grateful for those precious years of my childhood and the sweet memories I have.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Make Your Own Cream Of Mushroom Soup

When I was at the grocery store last week, I came upon some clearance mushrooms: $.99 for 8oz. I bought all 3 packages the store had and brought them home to make my own Cream of Mushroom soup. I came upon the recipe last summer on one of the Yahoo! groups I belong to...but I hadn't had the chance to try it ~ until now. This recipe calls for Clear Jel (not the instant kind!!) which you can buy from Amazon . This is the only thickener approved for home canning. It is a modified corn starch.
With my 1 1/2 pounds of mushrooms, I made 8 pints of condensed soup. It ended up being about the same price as store bought, but there is vertually no fat and it has no MSG and it is delicious.
Cream of Mushroom Soup:
2 Tbls olive oil
2 Tbls butter
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, sliced or chopped
1 cup Clear Jel
3 quarts beef stock
1 Tbls salt
1 Tbls lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder
Melt butter with olive oil. Cook mushrooms, salt, garlic powder and lemon juice until mushrooms are brown. Add stock and Clear Jel. Heat and stir until it boils and thickens. Put into pint jars leaving 1 " headspace. Process in pressure canner for 40 minutes at 10lb pressure (or if you live at a higher elevation, 15 lbs). When opening to use, add equal amount of milk and soup.
tempt my tummy tuesdays can be found here
tasty tuesdays can be found here
tuesday tips can be found here
tackle it tuesday is found here

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

I am all about cheap, easy and using things I have on hand. This casserole fits all three categories.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole:
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 small can chopped green chilies
1 12.5 oz can chicken or turkey
10 flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Combine the sour cream, soup, chilies, 1/2 cup of cheese and chicken in a bowl. Tear up the tortillas into strips (about 4 to a tortilla). Put a little of the soup mixture on the bottom of a greased 9 X 9 casserole dish. Layer strips of tortillas and soup mix until soup is gone (like a lasagna). Top with cheese. Cover and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. If using foil to cover, spray with Pam so cheese doesn't stick to it. Sometimes I throw in some salsa,too. It's a really forgiving dish, so add what you like, take out what you like.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Baked French Toast

This is a week full of links. I am making a few new recipes I found on other blogs and some old stand bys. I will be posting most of the other recipes throughout the week.

This week's breakfasts:
Rice Pudding
Breakfast Cookies (we didn't end up having these last week)
Quick Quiche
Baked French Toast (See Below)
Baked Apple Oatmeal
Cold Cereal

Mandarin Oranges
Depression Cookies (frosting on crackers)
Hard Boiled Eggs
Bran Muffins

Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Make Your Own Pizza
Pinto Bean Soup
Kids Love It Casserole
Out to McDonalds (courtesy of sister in law's valentine coupons)
Out to Blue & Gold Banquet for Cubs

Peanut Butter Balls
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Chocolate Revel Bars

Baked French Toast
Enough bread slices to make 2 layers in a 9 X 13 pan
8 eggs
2 cups milk
2 Tbls maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
Spray a 9 X 13 pan with Pam and put in bread slices to form 2 layers. In another bowl, beat eggs, add milk, maple syrup and cinnamon. Pour over bread slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Take pan out of fridge 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake 20 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered. Serve with your favorite toppings.

To check out more menus than a person could possibly read, head on over to the Organized Junkie's site for Monday Menu Planning.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Big-Batch Bran Muffins

When the Good Guy was a kid, his mom would make up a batch of this muffin batter and keep it in the fridge. It keeps for up to 2 months. I make it now and love the idea of letting my boys make healthy muffins when they are hungry.

Bran Muffins
1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
1 quart buttermilk (milk plus lemon juice)
5 cups flour
5 tsp baking soda
3 cups All-Bran cereal
2 cups bran flakes (I used raisin bran and picked out the raisins :-)
Cream sugar and shortening, add eggs and remaining ingredients. Pour 2 cups BOILING water over mixture and combine.

Bake 375 degrees 20 minutes in greased tin. The instructions say not to stir the batter each time you use it...I haven't figured that one out, but I am including it.
Makes about 90 muffins...give or take.
Bran Refrigerator Muffins on Foodista

Saturday Stories: The Strange Story of Our Courtship

In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I would tell the story of how The Good Guy and I got together.

We met in college. We lived in the same apartment complex and saw each other in passing all of the time. I was dating someone else at the time and really didn't give him a second look. The Good Guy was busy with school and friends and such and didn't look my way at first, either.

After a few months, I was broke up with my boyfriend and started looking around. I went to a dance with some friends and happened to get asked to dance by the Good Guy. We didn't say much to each other, we made a little small talk, I gave him some glib answers which apparently insulted him, so we didn't speak again for another month or so.

One Saturday, as all of my roommates got ready to go to a home football game, I realized that I still hadn't finished Moby Dick and needed to get a paper done by Monday. The Good Guy called to see if I wanted to go to the game with him. I told him no, that I needed to read a book. Note: With over 20 years hindsight, I honestly cannot say why he persevered. I was so rude!

He called and asked me on the spur of the moment to go out for a frozen yogurt one night and I actually went. It was fun, but I wasn't thinking of him as more than a friend. He asked me to go shooting with him on another Saturday and I went, but that night I had a date with someone else. He asked me out another time as I was just about to leave on still another date. Finally, he called and asked if I wanted to go see the Nutcracker with him, two weeks in advance. I said yes, and that was the end. I never dated anyone else. I don't know what happened when, but we got along so well and he kept asking me to do things, that I just fell in love with him. He really is the best. Not once have I ever regretted marrying him, he is so patient and kind and tolerant and good and hard working. Thank goodness he didn't give up easily, either! We still argue about who kissed who first, but that is an entirely different story.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sloppy Lentils

These are a bit like Sloppy Joes, but not as tangy. I think when I make these again, I will put less tomato sauce and add ketchup, mustard, worchestershire and maybe brown sugar or perhaps I will use 1 can of sloppy joe sauce for half the tomato sauce. That's the nice thing about recipes, they are made to be changed!!!
Sloppy Lentils:
2 cups dried lentils
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
4 cups water
4 cups tomato sauce (you could actually use 1/2 Manwich here and get a better flavor)
1 Tlb parsley flakes
1 bay leaf
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tlbs soy sauce
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook 8 hours on low. This freezes well.
Serve over rice or some other grain.
Head on over to Sandra's for Slow Cooker Thursday.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thirteen Random Things About Me

It's Thursday again and time for another 13. Lest you get sick of kitchen themes, I am listing 13 random and perhaps weird things about me.
  1. I love red.
  2. I have never had a cavity.
  3. I get cold sores. In most of my school pictures, I have one.
  4. I can't cook in a dirty kitchen. No matter how hungry we are, I have to take 15 minutes to clean up before I start.
  5. My husband, daughter and I are white. My sons aren't. It makes for some interesting conversations with strangers.
  6. I was an only child until I was a teenager.
  7. I am allergic to tetnus shots ~ no rusty nails for me.
  8. I won't have a mirror in my house, except in bathrooms. When I was little, I had a mirror opposite a window. At night, I'd see a face in my mirror looking at me. I would start screaming that the devil was in my mirror. My mom couldn't understand what was happening until she heard a few weeks later that a peeping Tom had been caught in our neighborhood. Mirrors still freak me out.
  9. To go with #8, I close all of the drapes and blinds as soon as the sun goes down. I just can't help myself.
  10. I can't tell left from right under pressure. When I am driving and someone tells me to turn either right or left, I have to extend my first fingers and thumbs to see which hand forms an "L."
  11. I play the piano and organ. I used to teach piano lessons. Maybe I will again after my kids are grown.
  12. I love to read. It is my escape of choice. I wish I could escape more often.
  13. Mangos, strawberries, blueberries and nectarines are my favorite fruits. MMM that sounds like summer. I am so sick of winter.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Rich Chocolate Brownies

It is Valentine's week and it is fitting to post a delectable (but easy) chocolate recipe. This has been a family favorite for decades. Oh and one note, these change taste as they get cool. Don't eat them warm out of the oven. Let them cool down completely and you will have a much deeper chocolate flavor.

2 sticks of butter (or 1 cup oil for a  more frugal recipe)
2 cups sugar
2/3 cups cocoa
4 eggs
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp vanilla
In a good sized mixing bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Stir in the sugar and cocoa until well mixed. Add the eggs and stir. Add the flour and stir. Add the vanilla and you got it, stir :-). Bake in a greased 9 X 13 pan 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until done. Cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar. Cut. Eat. Enjoy.

These are great with peppermint patties melted on top or chocolate frosting.

Today's recipe is posted on Tasty Tuesdays, Tempt Your Tummy Tuesday, and Tuesday Kitchen Tips.

Homemade Hot Pockets

A while ago, my sons started teasing for me to buy some Hot Pockets, you know, those puffed pastries filled with meat, sauce and cheese. I wasn't willing to pay $3 or so for a package that wouldn't fill up my hungry crew. I decided to make them myself. Pepperidge Farms sells puffed pastry sheets and they go on sale at 50% off periodically. I always have leftover meat of some kind. Combine the two and Voila! homemade hot pockets.

For a cheese sauce: Melt 2-3 Tbls butter in a pan. Add 2-3 Tbls flour and stir. Add enough milk to make a smooth sauce. Add 1/2-3/4 cups grated cheese (cheddar or swiss or jack). Stir until smooth. Add cubes of meat (any kind but fish). You can also add chilis, beans, peas or corn.

For a gravy with veggies: Peel and cube 1 potato and 1 carrot. If using leftover veggies, don't add until the thickening stage. Cube leftover meat. Combine all in a pot with about 2 cups water. Add herbs like rosemary, oregano, thyme - whatever sounds good to you - plus salt & pepper. Cover and boil until veggies are done ( the meat will help flavor the water and just get more tender). In a small bowl combing 1 Tbls cornstarch with enough water to dissolve. Add to meat pot and boil until thick.

Spread out thawed pastry sheet and cut into 6 squares (you will get 12 from a package). Put about 2 Tbls of meat mix in the middle of each square. Fold and pinch well to seal (if you don't seal it well, the filling will run all over). Bake on a cookie sheet 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Crunch Bar Fudge

During the summer, I am all about no bake desserts.  That includes easy candies as well as ice cream, cookies and bars. This fudge is just like a Crunch bar (or Krackle if you favor Hershey's version).  Of course, this isn't just hot weather food.  It makes a great addition to a holiday plate of goodies.  It could also just satisfy a craving for chocolate.

Crunch Bar Fudge:
1/2 stick butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup corn syrup or agave or honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups Rice Crispies
Melt butter, chocolate and corn syrup in a large saucepan, stirring over low heat. When melted and smooth, add vanilla and then the powdered sugar. When fudge-like, add crispies and stir until evenly mixed. Press into a buttered 8 X 8 pan, refrigerate and cut into squares.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Ultimate No Bake Cookies

This is by far our family's favorite no-bake cookie recipe (and believe me, I have tried a ton).They aren't as chocolate-y as some and there is no peanut butter involved.  There is coconut, though.  I have say that, just to warn any non-coconut lovers.  It's like a civic duty to warn people of unexpected ingredients, don't you think?
I use a huge ice cream scoop to form these.  The recipe makes 10 super big cookies.  My kids divide it up equally when the Good Guy is out of town.  When he is home, I have to double the recipe.  There is no way to divide 10 by 6 and make everyone happy.

No Bake Cookies
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups oatmeal
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup coconut
2 Tbls cocoa
In a saucepan, mix milk, butter and sugar. Boil vigorously 3 minutes. In a large bowl, combine oatmeal, vanilla, coconut and cocoa. Pour milk mixture over oatmeal and stir well until combined. Drop by spoon onto waxed paper or a silpat and refrigerate.

Head on over to 3 Sides of Crazy or Happy 2 Be @ Home for more yummy recipes.

Saturday Stories: While I Am At It...

I decided that I'd tell a few more stories about my dad before I go on to someone else.

In our family, it seems that stubbornness flows in our veins. When Dad was 2, he gained the nickname "Budge" because he wouldn't budge when he was told to do something. He hated baths especially. One day, his grandmother was visiting and told him he was going to have to take a bath and then a nap. Instead of complying, he snuck out with his collie, Tippy and ran away, in the process travelling about 3 miles. As dad cut through farmers' fields, one farmer saw Tippy, but not Dad. The farmer chased the dog away. Tippy ran through a stream on the way home. When he arrived home wet, without Dad, the family panicked and called out the town to look for him. Over 500 people started combing the area.

Lucky for Dad, in his travels, he made a V and steered away from the stream. He fell asleep in an alfalfa field that was being cut. He woke up and started crying. Two nurses were searching in that area and heard him. They took him safely back to his home.

"Budge" morphed over the years into "Bud." He went by that nickname until I was about 15. His family still calls him by that name. It was actually weird for me when he decided he wanted to go by his given name. He made the decision during a move from one assignment to another, so as he met new people, he just simply dropped the "Bud." It was harder for my Mom to stop calling him "Bud." She still calls him "Bud" over 20 years later.

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