Life Happenings and Merry Christmas

>> Saturday, December 20, 2014

It has been so long since I've stopped for a breather to write here.  This school semester has been the busiest of our homeschool history and a few other things have gone on in our lives since my last post.  My husband started a full time salaried position which has been more structured work time than his real estate work was, but comes with a more structured pay schedule for which I am extremely grateful!  Our son told us on Labor Day weekend that he had just proposed to a lovely young woman, and they were married in November.  We purchased a new house that was in need of remodel, and we have been working to deal with financing and electrical, plumbing and inspections...ugh. And, of course, our home we are currently in has been on the market. My oldest daughter has been preparing to leave for college in January. Things have been an even bigger zoo than the McAllisters are usually known for, so forgive me my internet silence.  I have some lovely recipes I have been trying lately, and if I can only find my camera cord in all the nonsense around here, someday I may post one of them!  In the mean time, I wanted to take a minute while I have one, to talk about Christmas.

I'm so grateful to take a month each year to celebrate with outer trappings--bows, trees and lights--the gift that Heavenly Father gave to all the world long ago.  I love friends, family and store attendants wishing me a Merry Christmas, and I wish one for all of them too. I am passionate about a beautiful table surrounded by loved ones and covered with good food. A feast, reminiscent of the ones declared in the Bible for special celebrations, that may go on for days. I spend some time reverently contemplating the donkey ride to Bethlehem, the sacrifices of that beautiful, young mother and her good husband, the sacred nature of the Son born that night in such humble surroundings. I feel blessed to think about what that means for me, that I can worship and adore, all these years later, that same Immanuel, God with us.

He lives! Let's celebrate the birth, life and teachings of Jesus Christ, and let us rejoice in his resurrection from the tomb, that we too can be resurrected and live once again in the presence of God! I love to sing at Christmas too; so with the angels that first Christmas night: "Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth, peace, goodwill toward men!" May his abiding love be with you all year through.

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-graphic from Free Pretty Things For You

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Cream Scalloped Potatoes

>> Wednesday, August 6, 2014

These potatoes are awesome! My new go-to potato dish, they couldn't be simpler--and they couldn't be richer! Well, maybe they could, but you will love this! Trust me. These would be great to serve with meatloaf or oven chicken as their cooking times are so similar.

Cream Scalloped Potatoes
6 large potatoes, peeled and sliced thin (enough to comfortably fill a 9x13)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 c. onion (sliced or cubed, your preference)
1 cube butter or margarine, melted
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
seasoning salt (like Lawrys)
Cavender's Greek seasoning (opt.)
salt and pepper
2 c. heavy cream

Grease a 9x13 baking pan.  Rinse sliced potatoes under cold running water to remove starch. Pat dry with a paper towel.  Put potatoes in baking pan, with garlic and onion, drizzle with melted butter.  Sprinkle on cheese, seasoning salt, Greek seasoning, salt and pepper.  Stir together. Pour cream over all.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 min. Remove foil and bake an additional 20 min. until tender.  Let rest 10 min. before serving.

Notes:  You can substitute any seasoning or additional herbs you like.  I think crushed rosemary would be yummy, or some parsley. You could also just use salt and pepper to taste. I use my food processor to slice the potatoes and onions, which makes the job faster. When this first comes out of the oven it may seem liquid-y but as you let it set a few minutes, the potatoes will absorb all that. I am looking forward to trying this with some new red potatoes!
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Parmesan Oven Chicken

>> Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This recipe comes from a community cookbook (my favorite kind!) and it is yummy and really easy to make. The breading becomes lovely and crispy on top while it bakes. The crumbs will actually cover two more thighs and four more drumsticks nicely, you just can't see them because I baked them in another pan.

Parmesan Oven Chicken
2-3 lb. cut up fryer chicken (I used only legs and thighs)
1 sleeve saltine crackers, crushed fine (about 2 cups)
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese (the powdery kind like Kraft)
1/4 c. parsley flakes
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cube butter or margarine, melted

Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towel.  Combine cracker crumbs, cheese, and seasonings.  Roll chicken pieces in melted butter, then in crumbs. Place in a greased 9x13 pan. Spoon any leftover crumbs over the top of the chicken, drizzle any remaining butter over the top.  Place in a preheated 375 degree oven and bake for an hour. Serve this with a yummy potato salad or baked potatoes and some rolls.

Notes: According to the recipe, this can also be baked for 3 hours at 250 degrees.  The advantage of a slow baking is a bit like a crock pot, set it early and forget it for a time.
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How to Cook a Wolf: MFK Fisher

>> Monday, June 23, 2014

I am reading a book called The Art of Eating, which is a compilation of several publications by MFK Fisher. I recently finished the part called How to Cook a Wolf and thought I would review it here.  This is a cookbook written at the time of rationing during World War II and although there are recipes in it, the main purpose of this book is to encourage people to live with dignity in whatever circumstances come. I really enjoyed it and found insight into homes and families in times of stress.

Between the pages are the effects of this war common to man: fuel shortages, blackouts and rationing, how to deal with a lack of personal hygiene products and pet food. But the ringing message of the book is that you cannot live constantly in a state of emergency in your mind. You must declare your mental independence and maintain whatever normal pursuits you can. This resonated with me because of our own  struggles during the recession. I came to similar conclusions working to keep my own table interesting and feeding our spirits as well as our stomachs.  I love this passage about cheese, which was almost impossible to obtain, so to be used with wisdom:

"Try it on a tired factory worker some day, or a nervous neighbor, with a glass of milk if possible or a cup of tea, and watch the unfolding of a lot of spiritual tendrils that were drawn up into a tight heedless tangle... I have seen it work miracles of restoration." (p. 341 italics added)

There is such power in food to comfort the wounded heart and mind. It encourages our bodies in the daily work they must do. Fuel, yes, but with thought and care it becomes more. It sustains physical and spiritual life. She writes at the end of the book:

"I cannot count the good people I know who, to my mind, would be even better if they bent their spirits to the study of their own hungers."(p.350)

"I believe that one of the most dignified ways we are capable of to assert and then reassert our dignity in the face of poverty and war's fears and pains is to nourish ourselves with all possible skill, delicacy and ever-increasing enjoyment.  And with our gastronomical growth will come, inevitably, knowledge and perception of a hundred other things, but mainly of ourselves.  Then Fate, even tangled as it is with cold wars as well as hot, cannot harm us." (p.350)

I am grateful for this book.  It has been affirming of my own path through troubles.  To her hearty voice and keep-up-the-good-work attitude, I say Amen.
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Raisin Nut Bars

>> Friday, June 13, 2014

My mother loves raisins and nuts in everything, so in some sympathetic eating, I decided to try these. They are good, I might be my mother's daughter! The recipe comes from a little pamphlet called Bar Cookie Bonanza.

Raisin Nut Bars
1 c. raisins
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. butter or margarine
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. chopped nuts

In a microwave safe mixing bowl, place raisins and water.  Microwave on high for 1-2 min, until fruit is warm and plump.  Add butter, egg and baking soda to raisins and water, stir together.  Add flour, sugar and spices and blend in nuts.  Mixture should be the consistency of cake batter.  Spread into bar pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 min.  Cool.  Glaze.

Glaze:
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1-2 Tbsp. milk
Combine sugar and butter, add enough milk to make a very thin glaze.  Drizzle over cooled bars.  Let glaze set before cutting.
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Sausage and Rice Skillet

>> Wednesday, June 4, 2014

This recipe is easy and satisfying.  It comes from a book called the I Hate To Cook Book and in there, it goes by the name Dr. Martin's Mix.  My family loved it.  It is sure to become one of the Cheater Pants Meals in my arsenal.

Sausage and Rice Skillet
Crumble 1 to 1 1/2 lbs. sausage in a skillet and brown it.  Pour off a little of the fat and add:
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 c. chopped onion
2-3 celery sticks, chopped
2 c. raw rice
4 c. chicken broth (or water and bouillon cubes to make this amount)
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt

Turn vegetables and rice in the sausage drippings for a minute, then add the liquid.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 min. or until rice is tender.

Notes: You don't see the green pepper in here, because I had a yellow one, and I neglected the celery and the children were happy about that, but don't count on it next time kids! (Depends on the number of distractions, as to how many mistakes I make in a recipe.  Frankly, its a miracle that anything turns out right around here ever.)
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Cinnamon Cream Cheese Spread

>> Saturday, May 31, 2014

This was inspired by the Grape Nuts Bread recipe when the author said she likes cream cheese on her bread.  I tried this for my Winter Squash Sourdough Bread and it was great.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Spread
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2-4 Tbsp. sugar (to taste)
1-2 Tbsp. milk (opt.)

In a small, microwave safe bowl, place cream cheese and microwave on high 20 seconds and then in 10 second intervals until just soft enough to stir.  Add cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar and stir until mixed and sugar dissolves.  Refrigerate.  Spread on bread or bagels, or muffins.  You can add the milk to change the spreading consistency if desired.

Notes: Now I can't wait to try this on some other quick breads! I think it might be lovely on Carrot Bread, Bag End Brown Bread and A.M. Delight Muffins.
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About This Blog

If you are visiting, welcome! I am in the process of a Vulcan Mind Meld with my computer to put all of my right hand recipes for feeding my family on here as fast as possible. Please come back often and stay awhile. There are so many exciting things to come!

What this is:

A clearing house for all my favorite recipes. All my food musings. All my favorite cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. If you enjoy it here, and find it useful, welcome!