Thursday, November 29, 2012

Nutmeg Noels


Easy Christmas cookies, my husband loves and made them himself tonight, I think because he was desperate!  Seriously, we've been making these for years and they're always a hit. Light nutmeg taste, buttery soft cookies.

2 tbls red or green sugar sprinkles
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to 400. In small bowl combine colored sugar and 1/4 tsp nutmeg; set aside.

In large bowl combine flour, sugar, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and remaining nutmeg (1/4 tsp); add butter, egg and vanilla.  Beat at low speed until well mixed, approx. 3 minutes. 

Roll rounded teaspoonfuls into 1" balls.  Roll cookies into sugar/nutmeg mixture. Place on un-greased cookies sheets, about 2" apart.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until centers are firm.


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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cheesy Potato and Veggie Chowder

Oh I just love to play around with different soups and chowders!  This is my recipe for a cheesy potato and veggie chowder.  So good on a cold fall or winter night! Serve this with corn bread, cheese biscuits or crusty bread/rolls.  Yumminess and completely meatless!

1 quart chicken stock (could substitute vegetable stock)
2 cubes chicken bouillon
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup flour (approx)
2 cups milk
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cups corn (frozen works great - do no thaw)
1 quart bag frozen cubed potatoes (add frozen, do not thaw)
2 tsp garlic salt (or more to taste)
2 tsp course-ground black pepper (or more to taste)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Melt butter over medium heat in bottom of large stock pot
Add flour and whisk until smooth
Add chicken stock and chicken bouillon cubes (can substitute vegetable stock if desired)
Add milk (whisk again until smooth)
Add carrots, corn, celery and onion
Cook over medium/low heat until bubbly, whisking occasionally until vegetables are al dente'
Stir in milk, potatoes, garlic salt and pepper
Cook over medium/low heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are cooked through
Add shredded sharp cheddar cheese, stirring until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.  
Top with more shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Cook's note - change it up by adding cubed ham, diced/sliced smoked sausage, kielbasa, or cooked and crumbled bacon.


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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Granddad's Golden Mushroom Sirloin Beef Tips


It was funny/strange to me when my dad started cooking, much later in his life.  He loved to cook with wine, which my mother did not, so we had many interesting dinners when he started "experimenting!"  

However, that said, for the most part he did an amazing job, and many of them I love and prepare to this day. This recipe for his Golden Mushroom Sirloin Beef Tips is one of my families favorites, and we have it from time to time when I'm in the mood for one of  "dad's dinners!"



2 lbs stew beef cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium clove garlic, minced (I use a minced garlic in a jar)
2 cans condensed golden mushroom soup (or cream of mushroom)
1 tbls chopped onion (I dice a small onion because we love onion)
3/4 cup sherry (do not omit; this is what gives it the great flavor it has)
1/2 cup water

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and stir until blended. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours. Serve over rice or egg noodles.

*Cook's note - this can also be baked in a large casserole dish in a 350 degree oven for 2-3 hours, or in a stock pot on top of the stove.

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Granddad's 60-Minute Rolls

My dad loved to cook!  As as young girl, I remember he got a Campbell's Soup Cookbook one year for Christmas and proceeded to make many recipes from that little book. He also loved making each recipe his own by adding different spices, wine, etc. to the mix! Maybe that's where I also learned to change up the recipe? 
These 60-Minute Rolls came into our house when he was in his older years ... like late 60's (he'd be 92 now if he was still with us).  He originally found them in a Maine Cookbook ... super-easy, very tasty yeast rolls that take 1 hour from start to finish.  When the dough is patted out with your hands, and cut with a 2" round cutter, they are then brushed with melted butter and folded over in 1/2 to make half-moon shaped rolls. They are delicious served with butter, or try honey-butter for a different taste.  Either way, they are yummy. My family loves them and I know yours will too!










2 pkgs. yeast (if using a jar of yeast, this would be 4 1/2 tsp. yeast)
¼ cup warm water (110-120 degrees)
1 ¼ cups milk
¾ tsp salt
3 tbls sugar
¼ cup butter
3 ½-4 ½ cups flour



In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in ¼ cup warm water. In a large saucepan, put milk, sugar, salt and ½ of the butter; heat to lukewarm (I have also done this in the microwave, then just cool to lukewarm before proceeding). Add yeast mixture to milk/sugar/salt/butter mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. In a large mixer bowl (I use my Kitchen Aid), using the dough hook, put 3 1/2 cups of the flour and add combined liquid ingredients.  Turn mixer on low and beat until dough forms a ball, adding just enough more flour (approx. 1 cup) to make a soft dough (dough may be slightly sticky). Put out on floured board and knead until smooth (5 or so turns of the dough should be plenty). Dough should be soft, but not sticky. Place dough in a greased (I spray with Pam) bowl, cover with saran wrap and let rise in warm place for 15 minutes. Turn out onto floured board and pat out to 1/2” thick. Cut with a 2” cutter. Brush rolls with remaining butter and fold over in 1/2. Let rise on a greased baking sheet in a warm place for 15 minutes. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes.

Raising dough tip – turn oven on to 400 for 1 minute – turn off and place dough in oven to rise. Works great every time! You will also need to turn the oven on again to 400 for 1 minute for the 2nd rising.

Yield:  about 12-15 rolls
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Friday, November 16, 2012

Ham Stock and 15 Bean & Ham Soup


I love ham and 15 bean soup! It's one of those "make you feel warm all over soups." So, let's make some. You need one very meaty ham bone, saved from a ham shank or other ham you have baked. Save any leftover meat from the ham as well ... you will need some later. This is probably the most "frugal" thing you can do - make stock from a ham you have already eaten for dinner ... I mean, why not? You were going to throw it away anyway, so why not use it to make stock? Just think for one minute how awesome that is ... something you weren't going to use becomes some yummy soup you and your family will enjoy, or stock you can add to other dishes to make it even more yummy. I'ts a win, win as far as I can see!


1 large, meaty ham bone
2 quarts water
1 large onion, chopped
4 large carrots, cut in 1/2
4 celery stalks, cut in 1/2
1-2 tsp sea salt
1-2 tsp course-ground black pepper
1-2 tsp garlic
1-2 tbls chili powder
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 bag Hurst's 15 Bean Mix
1 can diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
garlic to taste
Juice of 1 lemon or 1 tbls lemon juice
Ham pieces, diced

Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer several hours, or until ham is falling off the bone (about 3-4 hours); drain stock discarding all vegetables and ham bone.  Reserve any ham meat from the bone to use in the soup. Place stock in a large storage container and refrigerate until fat particles solidify on top; remove fat from stock. At this time you can pressure can just the ham stock if desired. Ladle into jars and pressure can pints for 20 minutes and quarts for 25 minutes at 10 lbs pressure.

Soak 15-bean mixture for 8 hours or overnight in 9 cups water.  Drain beans and place in large stock pot.  Cover with 2 quarts of reserved ham stock, add water if necessary; bring mixture to a boil, uncovered. Simmer 2 1/2 hours; add 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 onion diced, garlic and lemon juice. Continue to simmer 30 more minutes. Serve while hot or put up by pressure canning if desired.

Pressure Canning 15 Bean and Ham Soup
Reduce cooking time for the soup (above recipe) to 1 hour. Place diced ham pieces (reserved from baked ham) in canning jars; ladle soup over top to fill jars leaving 1" head space. Process pint jars 75 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure (quart jars 90 minutes).


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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Joan's Chili


This is a super-simple Chili recipe I originally received from my mother-in-law when I was first married.  You can mix it up anyway you want to, add more beans, a variety of beans and even corn.  

My family prefers it the original way, but we always serve it with shredded cheddar cheese, sliced jalapeno's, sour cream, cornbread, Saltine crackers or Frito's on the side, so each person can make their bowlful their way.  


2 cans kidney beans (can omit if you prefer bean-less chili)
2 cans tomato soup
1 can stewed tomatoes (or diced, whichever you prefer)
2 large onions chopped
1 1/2 lbs hamburger
2-4 tbls chili powder (to taste)
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp course-ground black pepper
salt to taste
sliced jalapenos (optional)


Brown beef and drain fat. Put all ingredients and large pot and simmer 2-4 hours or until well cooked and flavors have blended. 

Adjust seasonings during cooking time. This chili can be made as hot or as mild as you like by simply adding more or less peppers and spice. 

Cook's Note - 
You can also make this in a slow cooker.  Simply brown the beef, drain fat, add to crock pot with all other ingredients and cook 8-10 hours on low.  Perfect for a quick weekday meal!

Recipe is easily doubled and freezes well.

Chili can be pressure canned after 2 hours of cooking. Ladle chili into pint or quart canning jars and pressure can at 10 lbs. pressure for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.


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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb

I love, love, love lamb! Lamb of all kinds, center-cut loin chops, bone-in or boneless leg of lamb and more! Easy to roast, and very yummy, a boneless leg of lamb makes a very nice presentation for a special dinner or celebration.  Paired with some yummy root vegetables, it's dinner in one pan, which is always great!

Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb

First, make sure your lamb is at room temperature: To cook evenly, the lamb roast must not be cold - let it stand at room temperature, loosely covered, for approximately 1 hour or even more. This time can vary depending on how big or small your lamb roast is. I can't give you an exact time on this. If you don't let the roast come to room temperature, if will take longer to cook your roast. Your roast won't cook evenly, and you'll end up with well-done slices on the end and raw meat in the center. Use your best judgment!

3 cloves garlic, minced (use more or fewer according to taste - we used whole cloves)
2 teaspoons coarsely-chopped fresh rosemary leaves (stems removed) or 1 teaspoon dry rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoons coarsely-ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Root vegetables of your choice (onions, potatoes, carrots or other)

In a small bowl, combine garlic, rosemary, and pepper. Add olive oil and lemon juice. Mix until all ingredients are combined.  Remember - don't remove the netting that is around the lamb roast.
Rub the Herb Seasoning Rub mixture all over the outside of the lamb.  Now add your root vegetables, placing them around the roast in the pan.

Insert a meat thermometer so tip is in thickest part of lamb (not resting in fat). Set oven to 450 and sear the lamb roast for 15 minutes then turn the oven to 325 for the rest of the cooking time. Do not cover the roast. Cook until the lamb roast reaches the desired internal temperature.  Remove from oven, cover with aluminum foil, and let sit approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Remove netting prior to carving.

120 to 125 degrees F
center is bright red, pinkish toward the
exterior portion
Medium Rare
130 to 135 degrees F
center is very pink, slightly brown toward the exterior portion
140 to 145 degrees F
center is light pink, outer portion is brown
Medium Well
150 to 155 degrees F
not pink
Well Done
160 degrees F and above
meat is uniformly brown throughout


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Friday, November 9, 2012

Bleu Cheese "Cheese Apple"


If you LOVE Bleu Cheese, you will love this Cheese Apple (cheese ball).  This is from my mother's family, and it's so good! Something we looked forward to when we were kids to have at the holiday time, or any "special time."  Awesome stuffed on celery (one of my favorites) or on crackers ...  we absolutely love it on Wheat Thins or Triscuits, but it's really good on any of your cracker favorites.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

2 - 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 - 4 oz. bleu cheese crumbles or wedge of bleu cheese
1 small onion, diced finely
1-2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (or more to taste)
Paprika (to sprinkle all around cheese ball)

Mix first 4 ingredients until well blended (we usually mix by hand ... yep, get your hands in it and smoosh it all together - this is fun for kids to do)!

Sprinkle with Paprika and chill.

Serve with your choice of celery sticks or crackers.


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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Boston Baked Beans for pressure canning


I love it when I come across a new recipe for canning, and just couldn't wait to try it and share it!  This one is much more reminiscent of true Boston Baked Beans with onion, bacon pieces, molasses, ground mustard, and more goodness! 

I tasted it several times during the "baking" process and adjusted the seasonings to our taste, so please feel free to make it your own. The process is long, but you're not standing over it all day long, and the results are so worth the time it takes!

1 bag dry Hurst Navy Beans (my bag was 24 oz or 3 cups)
3/4 -inch square pieces of bacon per 3 cups of beans (I used center-cut bacon and cut up 6 slices into the squares)
3 tbls molasses (or more to taste - I used slightly more)
2 tsp salt per 3 cups of beans (optional)
1-2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 cup ketchup (or barbecue sauce - I use barbecue sauce)
1/4 cup brown sugar (or up to 1/2 cup)
1 large onion, diced
1-2 tbls Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tsp course-ground black pepper (or to taste)

Sort and rinse the beans in a colander in cold water.  In a large stock pot add beans and 3 cups of water per 1 cup of beans (9 cups water for 3 cups of beans).  Cover and bring to a boil on stove-top.  Boil 2 minutes, remove from heat and let sit covered 1 hour.  Drain and rinse beans.

Add beans back to the stock pot, add 9 cups of water, and heat to boiling.  Drain (this time reserving the bean water in a bowl). 

Mix the bacon, molasses, salt, ground mustard, ketchup (or barbecue sauce), brown sugar, onion, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and 4 cups of the reserved bean water in a large stock pot; bring to a boil.  Remove from heat; stir in drained beans.  You may need more bean water as you need enough to cover beans completely.  Mixture will be very soupy.

Cover stock pot and bake in oven at 350 for 3-4 hours, stirring every hour and adding more bean water as necessary to keep beans soupy.  After 2 hours, taste beans and adjust seasonings to your taste (I added more molasses, ground mustard and pepper).  Beans should be ready to pressure can in 3-4 hours (the beans should be cooked, but remember they are going to cook more in the canner, so you don't want them too soft).

Ladle beans into canning jars (I chose pint jars for us, but quarts work too).  Add more bean water to each jar if needed to keep mixture "soupy."  Cover jars with seals and pressure can pints 65 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure (quarts are 75 minutes).

Remove pressure canner from heat, allow pressure to release on its own, remove jars (place on a kitchen towel on your counter-top) and leave undisturbed 24 hours.  Jars are sealed when you hear the "popping" of the lids depressing (raised button in the middle of the lid is depressed).

Store on pantry shelf.  Shelf life is 1 year.

*Cook's Note - No need to can them if you don't want to.  Simply bake and eat!

Yield: approx. 6 pints

For more awesome bean recipes see Bacon Zucchini Bean Dip and the amazing bean collection at Sumptuous Spoonfuls


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Monday, November 5, 2012

Crockpot Breakfast Casserole


This is absolutely the BEST ever!  So easy, quick and convenient.  I've made it many times for weekend gatherings with friends and family, or for my husband's work place, and it always gets rave reviews.

This is especially nice for Thanksgiving or Christmas morning, when something easy and satisfying is the key to everything!  Spend a little time the night before, and wake up to this in the morning!  PS - there's just no way to get a good picture of this, but trust me, it's yummy!

1 bag frozen hash brown potatoes (32 oz) cubed potatoes work best
1 lb bacon (diced, cooked and drained), ham (cooked and cubed) or sausage (cooked and crumbled) *note - I like the ham or sausage best, but bacon is good too
1 onion (diced)
1 green bell pepper (diced)
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar or montery jack cheese (shredded)
1 doz eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper (more or less to taste)
Optional - sliced mushrooms, sliced jalapeno peppers or diced red peppers

Place a layer of frozen potatoes on the bottom of the slow cooker, followed by a layer of bacon, ham or sausage; then onions, green pepper and cheese. 

Repeat the layering process two or three more times, ending with a layer of cheese. Beat the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together. Pour over the mixture in the slow cooker, cover and turn on low. Cook for 10-12 hours.

Serve with hot sauce or salsa and additional shredded cheese, if desired.  A side fruit salad is a nice addition.


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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Oatmeal-Craisin-Pecan Cookies


Ooey, gooey, chewy, Oatmeal-Craisin-Pecan Cookies are so good and super-easy to make!  Original recipe adapted from Quaker Oats.

1/2 cup butter + 6 tbls butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
3 cups oats (quick or old-fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup craisins
1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350.

Beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well.

Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well  Add oats, craisins and pecans; mix well.

Drop dough by mounded tablespoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown.  Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely.

Store tightly covered.

Yield:  approx. 4 dozen


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