Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sarah's Terrific Tuna Toasties

Angelina and I ate at a friend's home on Friday for lunch. Sarah made these wonderfully simple, but healthy Terrific Tuna Toasties. When we are on the road nearly every Friday, cold sandwiches have become the norm. To have a hot lunch was such a treat for me, that I probably should have abstained

. . . it is Lent, afterall!

Terrific Tuna Toasties
Serves 8, but easily doubled

8 hamburger or dollar buns, halved
1/2 cup Miracle Whip or mayonnaise
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1/4 small onion, diced
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can tuna (Sarah prefers tuna in water, so do I!)
2 cups crushed potato chips*

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a large cookie sheet with tin foil (easy clean-up!).
2. Dice veggies in food processor or by hand.
3. Put diced veggies, tuna, cheese and mayonnaise/Miracle Whip in a large bowl and mix.
4. Place bun halves on cookie sheet and top each with a spoonful of the tuna mixture.
5. Measure 2 cups of chips and put them into a Ziploc bag. Smash away!
6. Sprinkle chip crumbles on top of the tuna mixture on each bun. Sarah says to press the chip crumbs down good to get all the flavor!
7. Pop into the oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted.
8. Eat and enjoy what you have made!!
9. To complete the lunch, Sarah added cut up apples and bananas. And of course, the remainder of the chips!

* Sarah used Cheddar Cheese Ripple potato chips. I really liked this extra flavor punch and bought a bag at the grocery store on my way home!

Here's a picture of my rendition of Sarah's Terrific Tuna Toasties. I didn't have buns on hand, so mine are made with slices of whole wheat bread. I also think they'd be excellent made with bagel or English muffin halves.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pepperoni Spaghetti Pie

The recipe that inspired this dish originally came to me from I did change some of the ingredients to suite what I had on hand, and I added a few ingredients, as well. My family thought this was a keeper. We are all looking forward to leftovers!! Here's my adjusted recipe.

Pepperoni Spaghetti Pie
Yield: 12 servings

1 lb. ground hamburger

1 small onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 (4oz.) can mushrooms
1 (26oz.) can or jar pasta sauce
1 (8oz.) can tomato sauce
1 tsp. sweet basil, dried
1 tsp. oregano, dried
2 Tbl. parsely, dried
1/2 tsp. Sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper, ground
1 lb. spaghetti, broken into 1 to 2 inch pieces
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 (5oz.) pkg sliced pepperoni*
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the pasta as directed on the package. Drain and rinse. Set aside.

2. Brown the hamburger in a large skillet. Drain excess liquid. Once browned and drained, add the onion, green pepper and mushrooms. Continue cooking until the vegetables are tender.

3. Add the pasta sauce, tomato sauce and all the seasonings. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes to combine flavors.

4. Combine the milk and eggs in a large bowl. Mix the spaghetti into the milk and egg mixture to coat.

5. Lightly spray a 13x9 baking pan with cooking spray.

6. Place half the spaghetti mixture in the pan, then place half the meat mixture on top. Repeat these two layers. Arrange pepperoni over the top of the layers. Spread 2 cheeses over the top of the pepperoni.

7. Cover the pie with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

To Freeze: After the pepperoni is arranged, put the pie in the refrigerator to cool. Once cooled completely, spread the 2 cheeses over the top. Wrap the pie with freezer wrap (I usually use plastic wrap and foil - cheese will eat away at foil, so the plastic wrap is necessary for freezeing). It will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months.

To Prepare from Freezer: Thaw the pie overnight in the refrigerator. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap and cover again with the foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

*I try to avoid meats that have nitrates added. I thought I'd have to make an exception for this recipe, but was surprised to find that non-nitrate pepperoni is available!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Crispy Almonds

My mom (Grandma Golden Acres) has made this recipe many times, and all of us enjoy this nutty snack when we are home to the farm for a visit. The almonds are crunchy and and the sea salt brings out the wonderful almond flavor. I purchased almonds in bulk from the food coop in late January with the intention of preparing them my mom's way. Of course, that is just now getting done, too!

Crispy Almonds
Yield: 4 cups

4 cups almonds, preferably skinned*
1 tablespoon sea salt
filtered water

Mix almonds with salt water and soak in a warm place for at least 7 hours or overnight. Drain in a colander. Spread on a stainless steel baking sheet or pan and place in a warm ove (ideally 150 degrees) for 12 to 24 hours, stirring occaisionally, until completely dry and crisp. Store in an airtight container.

*While skinless almonds are preferred, my mom and I both used almonds with skin on. The results are still wonderfully crisp

NOTE: My mom usually doubles the recipe, so I made my first batch this way, too. If you are going to have the oven on for that long, you may as well make it more worthwhile! Also, while the recipe recommends 150 degrees, my oven's lowest temperature is 170 degrees. This worked just fine, without any ill effects.

Soaking the almonds in sea salted water - add enough water so that there is about 1/2 to 1 inch of space. The almonds will absorb the liquid and expand.

Crisping in the oven.

Every time I stirred the almonds, I grabbed a few. I wanted to experience and taste how they changed throughout the day. This is a great healthy snack.

Freezing Onions

I haven't done this before, so I asked help from a friend who does this with 20 lb. or more bags of bulk onions. She mentioned that onions are really hot this time of year and that maybe I should consider wearing goggles! After purchasing about 10 lb. of onions from the food buying club in late January, I had intended to store them in my root cellar. However, during the two weeks of sitting on the boot bench waiting for me to find time, some had sprouted and two had completely spoiled.

Yesterday became the day to tackle the onions.

I started cleaning and quartering early in the morning and quickly realized this job would have to be done in spurts and inbetween tears! I could only do about 4 or 5 before needing a break. Needless to say, it was a long process and took all day to complete. I thought to myself, how in the world am I going to chop these when I can barely handle quartering?? And, where are the kids' swim goggles??

Thank goodness I remembered the handy food processer attachment on my blender. The first batch was chopped very finely - more my ineptitude at chopping the first time & not intended. The next batches were chopped to the size that I would normally use in dishes and soups.

My friend did recommend double bagging & then storing in a container. They are smelly and I don't want the smell to migrate to other foods in the freezer. So far, they are double bagged. I froze them on a tray last night and will remove them to a covered container for long term storage today. The onions are frozen in 1/2 cup packs (in a sandwich baggie) and then double bagged in freezer ziplocs.

It wasn't too bad, and I needed a good tear jerker anyway.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Homemade Yogurt

Graham's favorite breakfast and snack is yogurt. He could eat his way through a 32 oz. (2 Lb.) container in one day, if I let him. Needless to say, I've bought a lot of yogurt and have probably supplied close to a quarter of the used containers for our church's kitchen!

I've felt a little guilty, though ... I own a Yogourmet electric yogurt maker and haven't made use of it. I tried about a year ago, and the batch never did set up. I was discouraged and resolved not to try again until I had done more research on yogurt recipes. Well, I went and tried it again ... so much for research! The result?? This time it set up beautifully. Just like yogurt I'd purchase at the store. I'm not sure what went wrong the first time, but I'm definitely fired up to try this again.

The best part is that Graham loved the homemade yogurt. He likes cinnamon sugar sprinkled over top if the yogurt is plain, so I don't even add flavoring or fruit. Furthermore, I can use homemade yogurt as starter for the next batch (as long as it has active culture) and save money.

Homemade Yogurt
Yield: 32 oz.

1 quart 2% milk*
5g Yogourmet-Bifidus-Acidophilus-Probiotic-Starter

1. Pour 1 quart of milk into a pot. Heat for one or two minutes at 82 degrees C or until the milk comes to a boil.

2. Allow the milk to cool to between 44-45 degrees C. You can speed up the cooling process by placing the pan in cold water. Then pour the cooled milk into the batch jar (inner container).

3. Add lukewarm water to the lower level marker (this is the level for 1 quart - it amounts to about 8oz. of water) inside your Yogourmet maker. Plug in the appliance and make sure the red light comes on.

4. Pour 1/2 package of starter into a cup and gradually add five or six tablespoons of the cooled milk. Once the starter is completely dissolved, emply into the cooled milk in the batch jar and stir. Be careful on this step, as it is essential to mix well to ensure the starter and milk are blended evenly.

5. Cover the batch jar with its lid, slip into the yogurt maker and place the cover on the yogurt maker. Incubate for about 4 hours or until the desired consistency is reached. I incubated the yogurt for 5 1/2 hours.

6. To stop the incubation process, take the batch jar out of the yogurt maker and refrigerate it for about 8 hours. The yogurt is then ready to serve. It will keep for approx. 3 weeks if kept cold, but it is best within the first week.

*Different types of milk can be used. Whole milk produces thicker yogurt. If using skim milk, you can add up to 1 cup of milk powder for a firmer, but yet still soft yogurt. I did an internet search and found a wide variety of recipes using different types of milk.

If you don't own a Yogourmet, a thermos can be used.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

This is a recipe from my youth. It's one of my 4-H baking entries from the 'Be a Better Baker' project. Who knows how many times I made this coffee cake to get the 'just right' look for Achievement Days. The coffee cake in my pics was in the oven a bit too long, so it's darker than I would have liked. But, since I'd been craving it, the texture and taste hit the spot anyway. It looks prettier when baked in a bundt pan, but I have to be much more careful in greasing the pan. The two-piece tube pan is a big time saver for me.

I usually prefer not to add nuts to my baked goods, but today I was in the mood and added pecans. Pecans add just a little crunch and a buttery flavor. This coffee cake has a lighter texture and does freeze well.


¾ cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 ½ cup white sugar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups dairy sour cream

½ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup finely chopped nuts (optional)
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease tube or bundt pan. Combine butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. In another bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Alternately mix in the dry ingredients with the sour cream. Spread 1/3 of the batter in the pan and sprinkle ½ of the filling mix over top; repeat twice. Bake for 50 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly in the pan before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

The coffee cake is fine as is, but you could top it with a dollop of whipped cream or cool whip to dress it up.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Chinese Dumplings

If you like Chinese food, you need to check out this entry on Kimberly's cooking blog. She does a fantastic job of explaining, both in words and pictures, how to prepare Chinese Dumplings.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Instant Hot Cocoa Mix

How about this print! The caption read, "Hot chocolate soon became a fashionable drink of the nobility after the discovery of the Americas."
The print is entitled The Morning Chocolate and was painted by Pietro Longhi of Venice.

Fashionable or not, hot cocoa fills a yearning for warmth during the cold winters in our part of the country. For some reason, my kids equate coming in from the cold with a trip to the kitchen for their cup of chocolate liquid warmth. It is the perfect end to every snowy playtime - if this expectation is not fulfilled, frowns abound.


2 – 21.8 oz. container Nestle chocolate Nesquik
6 oz. powdered creamer
8 qt. sized box powdered milk
½ cup powdered sugar (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and store in an air tight container. If you want the mix to keep fresh longer, store it in the freezer. This recipe filled a 1.5 gallon container.

To make a cup of hot cocoa, mix 1/3 cup of the dry mix with 8oz. of hot water. Stir and enjoy!

NOTE: For a fun twist, add a couple drops of peppermint extract or a small candy cane. My kids prefer a topping of miniature marshmallows. I've also added flavored (I like mint, but I've seen hazelnut and caramel) powdered creamer to a half batch.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Skillet Lasagna

What a surprise of flavor I found in this skillet dish! I needed something quick for tonight because we were gone until 5:30p. Of course, I hadn't thought far enough ahead to plan a crock pot meal (or my menu for this week). I was expecting the noodle, beef and tomato soup hotdish they always served at funerals or potlucks at my hometown church; I expected to spice it up a bit. This is NOT that hotdish - Thankfully!

Even though I stopped at the store, I forgot a key ingredient. No bother, parmessan cheese made a wonderful substitution for the cottage cheese topping. Couldn't find my Italian seasoning at the last minute ... just toss in thyme, oregano, basil, parsely, white pepper and sea salt for taste.

Yes, it was adapted and changed a lot, but it turned out great. Here's my rendition of Skillet Lasagna in recipe form (at least, as close as I can get it).

Suzie's Skillet Lasagna
Yield: 10 servings

1lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. Italian sausage*
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
4 cups egg noodles
3 1/2 cups water
26 oz. spaghetti sauce
6.5 oz. can sliced mushrooms
3 Tbl. dried parsely
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup shredded parmessan cheese

In a large skillet, brown the hamburger and Italian sausage links (if they aren't already - I used frozen browned hamburger and the Italian sausage was frozen and pre-cooked, too). Add the chopped onion and diced green pepper. Saute for 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the parmessan cheese. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the noodles are cooked to al dente. Remove the skillet from heat, spread the parmessan cheese over the top and cover. Let stand until the cheese is melted.

*I used Italian sausage links - that was all I could find at the store - and cut them in slices and then in half. The original recipe called for 1/2 pound of Italian sausage, if you want to substitute.