Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!


New Year's eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights. ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day. ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things. ~John Burroughs

Thank you from all of us at Old Fashioned Living for your support this year. We are truly thankful for your visits, comments and friendship. We hope you all have a wonderful 2012!

~Brenda

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Eve Recipes

Appetizers for a celebration such as New Year's Eve don't have to be complicated to be elegant. Brie is a soft cheese that has a type of white "mold" around the cheese itself. It is usually bought in rounds which are eight ounces, but can also be found in larger sizes. The entire thing is edible, and it can be baked or microwaved.

I love the taste of brie. It's sort of buttery, but with the tang of cheese. There are so many things that can be done with it. An eight ounce round would be enough for four people as an appetizer, depending on what else is being served.

BASIC MICROWAVE INSTRUCTIONS
Carefully, using a very sharp knife cut JUST the rind/white off the top only. Place it on a microwave safe plate, and microwave on high for one minute. At this point check it to see if it's softened and warm. If it isn't, then microwave another another 30 seconds. This should do it unless your cheese is larger than 8 ounces. If it is, then microwave in 30 second intervals until it's warmed and melted. Variations are below.

Pesto: Add pesto to the top of the brie, and microwave as above. Serve on sliced baguettes.

Onions & Mushrooms: Saute chopped onions and mushrooms until caramelized. Add to the top of brie after removing the top, drizzle with a small amount of balsamic vinegar if desired, and microwave per instructions.

Cranberry Sauce: Top with cranberry sauce, and chopped pecans, then microwave.

BASIC BAKED BRIE INSTRUCTIONS
The brie can be wrapped in foil and baked on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees F. for about ten minutes. There are many variations of this and I have shared some below.

Fruit & Nut Baked Brie: The brie can be sliced in half with a sharp knife and spread with jam, then sprinkled with chopped nuts on one half. Top with the other half, wrap in foil and bake for ten minutes.

Brown Sugar Brie: Place the brie on parchment or foil. Sprinkle with 3-4 tablespoons brown sugar, a little cinnamon, and top with crushed pecans. Bake for ten minutes, and serve with fruit.

Chutney: Place Brie in a small ovenproof dish. Spread any variety of fruit chutney over the top of cheese. Bake ten minutes, and serve with slices of crusty bread.

Apricot & Almonds: Place brie in an ovenproof dish, spread a thin layer of butter on top of the cheese, top with 1/4 cup each of apricot preserves and sliced almonds. Bake ten minutes and serve with crackers or bread.

On OFL we have a recipes from forum members:
http://oldfashionedliving.com/holidays/appetizers.html

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!


Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ~Norman Vincent Peale

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ~Roy L. Smith

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. ~Burton Hillis

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. ~Charles Dickens

~All of us at Old Fashioned Living wish you a Christmas full of love and laughter. Thank you for all of your comments, emails and continuing visits.~

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Countdown: Last Minute Tidbits

It's always hard to know what to share in this last post before Christmas, so I really had to mull it over. Today instead of sharing more recipes I thought I would go over some things that have been on my mind.

1. Take a minute and think about the people you know. Is there someone that just went through a break-up? Did anyone lose a family member during the last year? Is anyone you know sick?

When life is busy, and the holidays are in full swing, it's so easy to forget what those around us are going through. You can make a difference in someone's life by bringing them a basket of homemade treats. Bake an extra loaf of bread, or another batch of cookies, and bring it over to that person or family. Maybe you have room to include another person at your Christmas dinner. Invite someone that may be alone this year.

2. Do you still need a gift for a teen? Teens LOVE gift cards of ANY amount. I have a lot of experience buying for teens and gift cards to these places never fail: local coffee shop, video/game rental store, used game store such as Game Stop, Best Buy, fast food restaurants or movie theaters. There are a lot of gift cards out there but these are no fail because any teen can use them no matter where they live or what electronic devices they own.

3. The fastest way to get stressed during the holidays is to expect children to act like adults. They aren't big people. They are small people with short attention spans that look at life nothing like we do. This is a good thing as long as you keep it in mind. Set them at a card table with safety scissors, non-toxic glue, old Christmas cards and crayons and they will create masterpieces if you let them. They will also be messy and loud. Expect this, and it will be okay. That's what being a kid is all about. Send them outside to play afterwards and smile when you look over what they created. Always have crayons and paper on hand when kids are around. Those two things will help you keep your sanity.

4. Take time out to relax and have fun. We bake, shop, cook, clean and try to do everything we can to make the holidays perfect. This is fine unless you are strung so tight that the littlest thing going wrong makes your head explode. Relax. Laugh. Enjoy. If this means something doesn't get done, then so be it. You may have to bake one less batch of cookies, or put up a couple less decorations, but it will be okay.

These are my tips for a nice Christmas. Sharing them with you is also a reminder to myself as I finish up my writing, baking and shopping. I always want to do more for people, and sometimes I get frustrated that I need to sleep more than four hours when I'm in the midst of the holiday preparations, but I make myself get the sleep I need and I take time to reflect and relax. I hope you will too.

Merry Christmas,
Brenda


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Countdown: Breakfast or Brunch

Christmas and New Year's are wonderful times to get together with family and friends for brunch or breakfast. We all have our favorite recipes, but I thought I'd share a few more that would be lovely for this time of year.

Easy Blintzes

Ingredients:
2 cups cottage cheese
8 ounce block cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
8 flour tortillas (8 inch size)

Beat cheeses, cinnamon and vanilla in small bowl until well blended. Heat lightly oiled nonstick skillet on low. Spray with butter flavored spray or brush with melted butter. Briefly heat one tortilla over medium heat until just soft. Remove tortilla and spoon 1/4 of cheese mixture in center. Fold two sides in , partially covering filling. Roll up to enclose filling and form a rectangle. Repeat with other tortillas. At this point they can be microwaved for 20-30 seconds to warm the filling, a few at a time, right before serving. Serves 8.

These are wonderful served with fresh fruit, fruit syrup, or fruit sauce and whipped cream.

The following two recipes are for fruit that can be eaten alone or served with yogurt, cream, cottage cheese or beside pancakes or French toast.

Note: This works best with tortillas that are on the thin side rather than the thick type.

Spiced Oranges

Ingredients:
8 oranges
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup lemon juice
6 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground ginger

Peel and section oranges, reserving 2 inch long piece of peel. Cut orange sections into thirds.
Combine the remaining ingredients with 1/2 cup orange pieces and reserved peel in a non-aluminum pan. Bring to boil over medium high heat; reduce to low. Simmer 2 minutes. Place remaining orange pieces in a medium bowl. Strain syrup mixture and pour over the orange pieces. Chill for one hour and serve.

Maple Pears

Ingredients:
1 can (16 ounces) canned pear halves or slices
2 tbsp. maple syrup, or maple flavored syrup
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. butter
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Drain pears and reserve juice. Place in a microwave safe dish. Drizzle syrup and lemon juice over pears. Dot with butter and sprinkle with nutmeg. Cover and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. Baste with some of the reserved juice. Serve warm with oatmeal, yogurt, pancakes, waffles or French Toast.

Notes: I also add cinnamon-- sprinkled over the pears lightly.

Praline Baked French Toast

Ingredients:
8 slices Italian bread, 3/4-inch thick
4 large eggs
1 c. milk
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. butter
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/4 c. brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp. butter, melted

Place bread in a single layer, in a 13x9x2 baking dish. Whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, juice, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Pour over the bread,then flip the pieces over, so they are coated on both sides. Refrigerate this overnight, covered with foil or plastic wrap. In the morning, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the 1/3 cup butter in a 15x10-inch jelly roll pan. Place in the oven to melt. Arrange the egg soaked bread in single layer on the jelly roll pan. Bake uncovered about 25 minutes or until firm and golden brown.

Meanwhile, combine the pecans, brown sugar and melted butter in small bowl. Sprinkle over the baked French toast. Broil about 5 inches from heat, watching carefully, for about 1 minute or until topping begins to bubble. Serve warm.

Western Style Ham Quiche

Ingredients:
9-inch prepared pie crust in pan, room temperature
8 large eggs
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup diced cooked ham
1 green pepper, diced
1/4 cup onion, minced
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
ground black pepper

Remove pie crust from refrigerator, allow 45 minutes to warm up to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Saute the green pepper and onion in butter over medium heat until onions are clear and peppers are soft. In the prepared pie crust, add 3/4 of the cheese evenly across the bottom of the pan. Add the diced ham in an even layer. In a bowl, beat the eggs well, then add the remaining cheese, and onion-pepper mixture. Season with pepper and stir well. Pour evenly over the layered ham and cheese. Gently shake the pie pan to settle the eggs into the crust. Bake 45 minutes, then gently remove to cooling rack for Cool 10 minutes before serving.

On OFL we have more brunch recipes:
http://oldfashionedliving.com/brunch.html

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Countdown: Party Food!

Every Christmas Eve we set up a small buffet with party food, and spend the night playing board games and listening to Christmas music with our kids. As they've gotten older (they are now 18, 17 and 11) I've been able to expand their tastes with different foods rather than the standard popcorn shrimp and chicken, chips and dip. BBQ meatballs and anything taco related is also a big hit, but here are a few other recipes I thought I'd share today.

Hot Crab Dip

Ingredients:
8 ounce cream cheese
2 tbsp. sour cream
6 1/2 ounces crab meat (canned or cooked fresh)
2 tbsp. prepared horseradish
2 tbsp. fresh minced parsley
1 tsp. fresh minced dill

Blend the above and place in a small baking dish. Bake at 350 F. for 20 minutes. Serve warm with crackers.

Savory Dill Dip

1 cup mayonnaise, light or regular
1 cup sour cream, light or regular
1 1/2 tsp. seasoning salt (like Lawry's)
1 tsp. dried dill weed
1 tsp. minced dried onion
3 tsp. Tabasco sauce
3/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Blend all of the ingredients together, and chill for about 4 hours or overnight. Serve with crackers and raw vegetables.

Polynesian Meatballs

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork sausage
1 1/2 cups quick rice
1 egg, beaten
1/2 medium sweet onion, minced
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tbsp. soy sauce

Mix all ingredients together. Shape into 2 inch meatballs. Arrange in shallow pan sprayed with pan spray. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes. Turn 2-3 times while baking. Drain any fat. Makes 75-80 meatballs.

Sauce for Meatballs

20 ounce can pineapple chunks *see note
2 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp. soy sauce

Place all ingredients in saucepan and cook on medium heat until it thickened. Place the meatballs in a crock pot and pour over the sauce. Heat on low until heated through and ready to serve.

Artichoke Squares

Ingredients:
2 (6 ounce jars) marinated artichokes, drained-liquid reserved
1/2 medium sweet onion, minced
4 large eggs
6 saltine crackers, crushed
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
2 cups finely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 tbsp. freshly minced celery

Preheat oven to 325 F. Pat the artichokes dry with paper towel. Drizzle some of the reserved oil from the artichoke jars into a pan. Heat and saute the onion until softened and slightly caramelized. Chop the artichokes. In a medium bowl beat the eggs, crushed crackers and seasonings. Stir in the cheese, artichokes and onion. Pour into a 7x11 baking sheet. Bake at 325 F. for 30 minutes or until set. Cool and cut into squares to serve.

Italian Sausage Bread

Ingredients:
1 loaf frozen white bread, thawed
1 pound cooked hot or mild Italian sausage
2 eggs, beaten separately
2 cups Italian blend shredded cheese (or Mozzarella)
Parmesan cheese

Roll the thawed bread dough into a rectangle. Drain the cooked, cooled sausage with one egg. Spread on the bread dough evenly. Top with the shredded cheese. Roll up the dough slowly in jelly roll fashion from one end to the other. Carefully place on a greased cookie sheet. Brush with the other beaten egg on the top of the roll and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes. Cool, then slice and move to a platter for servings.

Notes: You can also make this with the edition of pepperoni. If you like olives they can be added also. Add these ingredients to the cooled sausage before the egg is mixed in. I also like to brush with garlic butter when it comes out of the oven.

On OFL we have recipes for herb appetizers that are delicious too:

~Brenda

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday Countdown: Gifts from the Kitchen

When my husband and I were first married, money was tight because I ended up getting laid off five weeks before our wedding. I either baked or made crafts for our Christmas gifts that year and many other years as well. I found out people love gifts from the kitchen whether it's cookies, candy, bread or anything they know was made and given with care and love.

The recipes I'm sharing today can be made according to directions and placed in clean jars with lids. IF you want to process and seal the jars please do it according to the latest safe methods from the USDA: http://nchfp.uga.edu/ . Otherwise keep the jar refrigerated and give instructions with your gifts so everyone knows how they should be stored too.

The candy recipes are pretty straight forward, but a candy thermometer is something you can't really do without. Fortunately they are available in most grocery stores and will come in handy for a very long time.

Pear Chips
Home Comfort Cook Book

8 pounds firm pears
4 pounds sugar
1/4 pound chopped ginger root
4 lemons

Peels pears, remove stems, quarter and core. Cut into small pieces. Add sugar and ginger and allow to stand overnight. In the morning, quarter lemons, remove seeds and cut into small pieces. Add lemons to pears and cook very slowly for 3 hours. Pack in jars and seal. Peaches may also be used.

Note: I would peel the ginger root before using.

Apricot and Pineapple Marmalade
Home Comfort Cook Book

1 pound dried apricots
2 1/2 cups crushed pineapple
3 tbsp. lemon juice
sugar

Was apricots, soak 12 hours in water to cover. Bring slowly to boiling point. Strain. Reserve juice. Press apricots through ricer or coarse sieve. Add juice and pineapple. Measure fruit and add 3/4 cup sugar to each cup of pulp and juice. Add lemon juice. Bring to boil and cook slowly about 20 minutes or until mixture thickens. Seal in jars.

Pralines
Rumford Complete Cookbook

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup cream
2 cups nut meats

Boil the sugar, maple syrup and cream together till a little dropped in cold water forms a soft ball (238 F.) Cool and beat till creamy; add the nuts and drop the mixture by spoonfuls on greased paper or plates.

January Thaw
Rumford Complete Cookbook

2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 cup nuts, chopped
butter size of a walnut

Put sugar and milk in a saucepan and let it dissolve slowly; add butter and let boil until it forms a ball when dropped into cold water (238 F.) Remove from stove, add the chopped nuts and beat well. Turn into a buttered pan, and when cool, cut in squares.

Butterscotch
American Woman's Cookbook

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
1/3 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Put sugar, syrup and water into a saucepan and set over direct heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then cook without stirring to the stiff ball stage (250 F.). Add butter and cook to the medium-crack stage (280 F.) for soft butterscotch, or to the hard-crack stage (300 F.) for brittle candy. Remove from heat, add the flavoring and pour on a greased slab. Mark while still warm and when cold break into pieces.

On OFL we have some great ideas for gifts from the kitchen!

Favorite Fudge Recipes

Savory Gifts from the Kitchen

Muffin Mixes to Give as Gifts

~Brenda

Monday, December 5, 2011

Holiday Countdown: Cookies to Give

Christmas cookies are a tradition for a reason-- everyone loves cookies, they are for the most part inexpensive and easy to bake, plus they make lovely homemade gifts. This year I'm making special gift bags for the friends of my teens. I've been giving cookies as gifts for over 20 years now, and have learned a few things along the way.

1.Don't mix soft cookies with crispy cookies in the same container or they will make all of the cookies soft. Store crispy with crispy, etc.

2. Don't store cookies together that have completely different tastes. For instance, if you store a peanut cookie with something that doesn't have a nutty taste, it soon will. The flavors will meld somewhat.

3. Don't store fudge or candy with crispy cookies or bars. Again, it will soften the cookies.

4. Any cookie with confectioners' sugar will spread its white goodness to all the other cookies if packaged together.

5 .As a general rule, store cookies for up to a week in a container with waxed paper between the layers at room temperature.

What I'm going to do is make a selection of cookies that can be stored together, and make them smaller in size-about the size of a gingersnap. The recipes below have instructions for larger cookies, so it's important to watch the baking time. Smaller cookies WILL take less time to bake. Watch the first baking sheet of cookies carefully, and take note of how long you bake until they are done. Be sure to preheat the oven first, or this won't be accurate.

Microwave Melting: Place chocolate in a glass measuring cup or bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Mocha Cookies

Ingredients:
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, chopped
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. coffee or espresso powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a double boiler or a metal/glass/ceramic bowl set over a pan of hot water, melt the unsweetened chocolate and 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate chips, and the butter. (this can be done carefully in the microwave as well)Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In another, larger bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until creamed. Beat in the coffee/espresso powder and the vanilla. Fold in the melted chocolate mixture. Mix in the dry ingredients, and finally stir in the remaining chocolate chips.

Allow the batter to rest for 15 minutes or so. Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake on middle rack for 8-10 minutes or until cracked on top. Cool on pan, transfer to baking rack.

Oatmeal Brownie Cookies

Ingredients:
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup/1 stick margarine or butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 cups oatmeal, quick or old fashioned

Beat together cream cheese, margarine and sugars until creamed. Add the eggs and vanilla beat until creamed. Add the melted chocolate, mix well. Combine the flour and baking soda. Add to the creamed mixture. Mix well. Stir in oatmeal. Cover and chill for about an hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Shape the dough into 1 inch balls. Place about 3 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes. The center of the cookies will be slightly moist yet. Cool for about a minute on the pan, then remove to a wire rack.

Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups oatmeal
1 12 ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix together the sugar, butter, egg, water and vanilla until light. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Drop by tsp. on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10-12 minutes. Cool on racks.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
1 pound butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups flour
5 cups quick oats
2 12 ounce bags semi sweet chocolate chips

Cream the butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs together. Add the dry ingredients except for the chocolate chips. Add last. Stir with a sturdy wooden spoon until everything is mixed well. Drop by teaspoonfuls on parchment lined sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10 minutes.

On OFL we have more cookie goodness!

Cookie Baking, Storage and Shipping:

Christmas Cookie Swap Tips:

~Brenda

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Countdown: Old Fashioned Menus

December is almost here, and I've been looking through all my cookbooks, trying to decide menus and baked items to give as gifts this year. I came across two menu suggestions from 1933, and thought it would be interesting to see how tastes have changed. I'm also sharing some of the recipes below the menus. Both are from the 1933 edition of Meta Given's Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking. Many of the recipes for similar dishes can be found on OFL in the recipe section: http://oldfashionedliving.com/recipes.html .

Christmas Dinner No. 1

Broiled Grapefruit
Olives, Celery
Roast Turkey
Oyster Dressing
Cranberry Relish
Mashed Potatoes
Gravy
Butter Brussels Sprouts
Harvard Beets
Swedish Tea Bread
Sunshine Salad
Ambrosia
Fruit Cake
Coffee
Candied Orange Peel
Candied Grapefruit Peel

Christmas Dinner No. 2

Tomato Juice
Roast Loin of Pork
Mashed Potatoes
Gravy
Baked Winter Squash
Buttered Greens
Spoon Cornbread
Waldorf Salad
Mince Pie
Hard Sauce
Coffee

Oyster Dressing

3 1/2 quart coarse bread crumbs
1 tsp. each salt and poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/4 pound butter
3/4 finely chopped celery
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped oysters

Measure crumbs. Add salt, poultry seasoning and pepper, and toss well. Melt butter in saucepan, add celery and onion and saute until onions are softened, then stir in oysters. Pour over bread crumbs and mix lightly with a fork. Stuff lightly in to turkey. Enough for a 12 pound bird.

Sunshine Salad

1 package lemon-flavored gelatin
1 1/4 cups hot water
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
9 ounces crushed pineapple
1 cup grated raw carrot
lettuce or romaine
mayonnaise

Dissolve gelatin by stirring into the hot water. Add vinegar and salt, stirring to mix well, and chill until mixture becomes syrupy. Add the crushed pineapple with it's juice and the raw carrot. Pour mixture into a 4 cup mold that has been rinsed with cold water, and chill until firm. Unmold onto chilled serving plate. Surround with lettuce and serve with mayonnaise. 5 servings.

Mustard Greens and Spinach With Bacon

2 pounds fresh, tender mustard greens
1/4 pound bacon
1 quart boiling water
1/2 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste
1/2 pound spinach

Wash mustard greens very thoroughly, trimming off roots and tough stems; trim and wash spinach. Put mustard greens into pan with bacon, add water, cover and boil gently for 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper, and put spinach into pan, pressing down well. Again cover and cook until spinach is tender, from 10 -15 minutes. More water may be added as needed, but amount of pot liquor should be just right to serve greens when they are done. Serve piping hot.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving


We hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of love and laughter. Drive safely and don't eat too much:) We are, as always, thankful for all of our readers.

~Brenda and all the OFL staff

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving: Old Fashioned Desserts

Most of us tend to think of pumpkin pie when we think of dessert for our Thanksgiving dinner, but there are other old fashioned desserts to consider serving on this day of sharing with our family and friends. The recipes below are from various cookbooks I collect, and I thought they might inspire us to try something new to our table but old to others.

Take note that in a lot of older cookbooks they don't share the pie crust recipe with the filling recipe. It's assumed most people know how to make their own pie crust. Of course in 2011 it's also easy to pick up a pie crust at the store:)

Pumpkin Pudding Cake
Farm Journal Cooking for Company
Published in 1968

1 2/3 cup sifted flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/3 cup soft shortening
1 cup cooked, mashed or canned pumpkin
1/3 cup water
1 egg
2/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup walnuts or pecans

Sift dry ingredients together into mixing bowl; add shortening, pumpkin and water. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed of electric mixer or until ingredients are well mixed. Add egg, beat 2 minutes longer. Stir in raisins and nuts.

Pour into a 1 1/2 quart ring or Turk's head mold that has been well greased and lightly dusted with fine, dry bread crumbs. Bake in moderate oven at 350 degrees F. about 45 minutes or until cake tests done. Serve with whipped cream. Makes 8 servings.

Pumpkin Nut Pie
Modern Priscilla Cook Book
Published in 1924

1 cup prepared pumpkin (canned or fresh pureed)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped nut meats
2 cups milk
2 tbsp. flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated coconut
Pastry

Mix ingredients, pour into a pastry lined plate, and bake in a moderately hot oven. Time in cooking: 5 minutes at 400 degrees F. then 40 minutes at 350 degrees F. Servings 6.

Indian Pudding: Two Recipes
American Woman's Cook Book

1 quart milk
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 egg

Place the milk in a double boiler and when it is scalding hot add the cornmeal, moistened with cold water, and stir constantly to avoid lumps. Cook for twenty minutes. Turn into a pudding-dish and stir in the other ingredients adding the beaten egg last. Bake two to three hours in a slow oven (250-350 degrees F.) and serve hot with hard sauce or any preferred sauce. One-half cup dates or figs may be used instead of the raisins.

Indian Pudding #2

2/3 cup cornmeal
1 quart hot milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp. shortening
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups chopped apples

Slowly add the meal, moistening with cold water, to the hot milk, stirring constantly, and cook to a thick mush. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Turn into a greased baking dish and bake in a slow oven at 250-350 degrees F. for two hours and a half. Serve hot with any sauce.

Mock Cherry Pie
Practical Recipes for the Housewife

1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. butter

Cut the cranberries and halves and the raisins into pieces. Mix flour and sugar together and add to the cranberries and raisins. Fill the lower crust with the mixture and dot over it with butter. Bake between crusts. (Top with a second crust and cut 3 slits in the top)

On OFL we have recipes for more pumpkin treats:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving: Homemade Biscuits

Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude. ~E.P. Powell

Biscuits or rolls are always a favorite at any holiday meal, and making them yourself is easy and inexpensive with a few tips. The first and most important tip:

NEVER over handle the dough.

Follow the instructions to the letter, and afterwards gently handle the dough when rolling, patting, cutting or shaping. Biscuit dough that's been over mixed or kneaded too long will result in hard biscuits. I should know because I've baked many a biscuit failure in my oven over the years, until I learned this lesson.

The recipe below is from The Home Comfort Cook Book, published in 1948, with a few of my changes.

Basic Biscuit Recipe

2 cups sifted all purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. shortening
3/4 milk

Sift together dry ingredients, blend in shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture is like course corn meal. One or two more tablespoons shortening may be added for richer biscuits, and part water may be used with milk. Make a well in the center of flour mixture, pour in liquid and stir vigorously with a fork for 1/2 minute. Then turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead gently and quickly for another 1/2 minute.

Roll dough with lightly floured rolling pin or pat it out gently to the desired thickness--about 1/4 inch for plain biscuits, 1/2 inch for tea biscuits and 1 inch for shortcakes. Cut dough with biscuit cutter, dipped in flour. Tops may be brushed with milk or melted butter for a soft, well-browned crust. Place 1/2 inch apart on greased baking sheet and bake in a hot 425 degree oven about 7-15 minutes.

A note on "sour milk": you can use buttermilk or add a tsp. of white or cider vinegar to regular milk which will "sour" it.

BISCUIT VARIATIONS

Drop Biscuits: Add 2 tbsp. or more milk to the recipe, stir dough about 1 minute and then drop by spoonfuls on greased baking sheet. Bake according to recipe above.

Buttermilk/Sour Milk Biscuits: Use 3 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. soda instead of the 4 tsp. baking powder called for in recipe. 2 tbsp. shortening and 3/4 cup sour milk or buttermilk instead of sweet milk. Mix and bake as per recipe above.

Orange Biscuits: Add grated rind of 1 orange and 1 tbsp. sugar to dry ingredients. When biscuits are ready for the oven press a sugar cube dipped in orange juice into each biscuit and bake as usual.

Pineapple Biscuits: Use part canned pineapple juice instead of milk in the recipe. Dent tops of biscuits and fill with drained, crushed pineapple. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar and bake as usual.

Cheese Biscuits: Add 3/4 cup grated or finely chopped cheese to recipe and substitute water for half of the milk. (Brush with garlic butter to make garlic cheese biscuits!)

Biscuit Sticks: Cut biscuit dough into strips, 1/2 inch high, 1/2 inch wide and 3 inches long. Brush with melted butter and bake.

Whole Wheat Biscuits: Use 2 cups unsifted whole wheat flour instead of white flour and use 3 tbsp. shortening instead. Dot each biscuit with a dab of butter before baking.

On OFL we also have instructions for easy yeast bread:

~Brenda

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving: New Side Dishes

Every family has their favorite holiday side dishes. At our table we always have mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and rolls. I like to mix it up each year and add a new side dish to the dinner table too. Below are several recipes that go well with just about any holiday meal.

Spinach Bacon Salad

Ingredients:
8 strips bacon
3 tbsp. bacon drippings
4 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. spicy mustard
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp white sugar
1 red onion, very thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 hard boiled eggs
1 pound spinach leaves, washed and dried
Optional: Dried cranberries or cherries

Cook the bacon until crisp; remove from pan, draining on paper towels. When cooled crumble and set aside. Pour off excess bacon drippings, leaving 3-4 tablespoons in pan. Measure out 4 tbsp. of the bacon grease, remove the remainder and return the 4 tbsp. to the pan. Add the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, spicy mustard and sugars to the pan, simmering until the sugars are dissolved. In a large bowl place the spinach and red onion. Pour over the warm dressing, tossing very lightly. Top with chopped boiled eggs and the cranberries or cherries.

Bean Salad with Herb Dressing

Dressing Ingredients:
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. olive or vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce OR
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 c. wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. dry mustard

Combine the ingredients and whisk until mixed. Set aside.

Salad Ingredients:
1 (16 oz.) can wax beans, drained
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 c. diced green bell pepper
1/4 c. diced red onion

Combine the salad ingredients. Whisk the dressing again and mix with the salad ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Broccoli Bacon Salad

Ingredients:
1 lg. bunch fresh broccoli
5 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked, drained,crumbled
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise (light or regular)
1 tbsp. sugar

Cut broccoli into small pieces. Mix with the eggs, bacon, peas and cheese. Stir the sugar into the mayonnaise. Add to the salad ingredients and toss gently to mix. Keep refrigerated until serving time.

Dilled Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients:
1 lb. fresh brussel sprouts
2 tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
3 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. butter
3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Slice off ends of the brussel sprouts and remove any damaged leaves. Cut each brussel sprout into slices,. Heat the oil in a skillet, add the sprouts, cooking until coated with oil and bright green in color. Add the salt, pepper, dill, water and lemon juice; cover and cook 2-4 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat to a serving bowl. Toss with butter and Parmesan cheese. Serves 4.

On OFL we have fresh cranberry recipes:

~Brenda

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stocking Up for the Holidays

Thanksgiving is around the corner, so if you haven't stocked up for holiday baking and cooking already, it's time.

Obviously everyone has their own special dishes they love making at the holidays. Get out those recipes and make a list of the ingredients. Divide it into items that can be bought ahead of time to put in the pantry, refrigerator or freezer, and the items that have to be bought fresh. Watch the sales and buy the items that can be stores ahead of time. Put your fresh ingredients list on the bulletin board, or in your organizer.

This list is a general list of items most everyone will need at some point during the holidays.

Baking soda
Baking powder
If you haven't replaced these two items in the last year, then it's time.

Yeast
It's much cheaper to buy a jar of yeast instead of the small packets. The one I have in my refrigerator is good until April 2013 and cost $4.99 on sale last month.

All Purpose Flour
Buttermilk Baking Mix
I keep both on hand at all times. I buy 10 pound bags of flour, and keep the baking mix on hand (stored in the refrigerator) for biscuits and dumplings.

Granulated White Sugar
Brown Sugar
Confectioners' Sugar
I buy a 1o pound bag of the granulated sugar and 2 pound bags of the others.

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Milk Chocolate Chips
White Chocolate Chips
Butterscotch Chips
I buy 4 bags of the semi- sweet chips, plus 2 each of the others.

Vanilla
Cinnamon
Ground Ginger
Ground Cloves
Allspice
These are the spices I use the most for baking during the holidays. I always have vanilla extract and cinnamon on hand, but I just bought small amounts of cloves and allspice.

Margarine
Butter
Sour cream
Cream Cheese
Eggs
I stock up on all of these items during November and December. The sales have started, and over the years I've found the closer it gets to Christmas the less they put these things on sale. There are exceptions, but I grab them when I see a good sale.

These are a few of the other items I keep on hand during the holidays to make cookies and breads.

Canned Pumpkin
Oatmeal
Molasses
Vanilla and Coconut Pudding
Various Nuts
Assorted Cake Mixes

On OFL we have an article on emergency substitutions:

~Brenda

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Family Menu: Chicken and Potatoes

We try to avoid fried food at our house, but sometimes I give in and oven fry chicken and potatoes, which is far from health food, but it tastes wonderful. I put together this coating for chicken last week, and remembered to jot down the measurements. The spicy potatoes are something I do more often, but tend to change the spices each time. It's a very flexible recipe, as you'll see.

Oven Fried Chicken

Ingredients:
3-4 pounds chicken pieces
1 tbsp. stick margarine
2/3 cup Bisquick
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. seasoning salt
1/4 tsp. garlic pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove fat from the chicken, rinse and don't pat dry. Set aside. Melt the margarine in a baking sheet by placing in the oven. While it's melting, place the Bisquick and seasonings in a pie plate or bowl and mix with a fork. Coat each piece of chicken by rolling both sides in the dry mixture. Place on the pan with the melted margarine skin side down. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the chicken tests done, turning over after about 20 minutes.

Notes: I fit it all into one pan but sometimes the pieces are bigger and I use two pans. If you do this then put 1 tbsp. margarine in each pan to melt. Baking time will vary depending on how big the pieces chicken are.


Spicy Potato Wedges

Ingredients:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
6-8 medium potatoes

In a ceramic or metal bowl mix the ingredients except the potatoes. Set aside. Scrub the potatoes clean. Cut the potatoes into wedges. They don't have to be the same length, but try to keep them all the same thickness. Arrange in a single layer in a 9 x13 pan, or two if needed. Bake at 400° for 30-35 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning once.

Note: I used about 6 white potatoes, that were medium in size. Red potatoes also work well for this recipe.

On OFL we have more chicken recipes:

~Brenda

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Holiday Entertaining: How Much Do I Need?

One of the biggest concerns for most people when entertaining is "How much food and drink will I need?". No one wants to run short, but on the other hand, you don't want to over buy either. The following will give you an idea of what you need to figure, depending on the number of guests.

Meat: Deli or other sliced meat
4 guests-3/4 to 1 pound total
8 guests- 1 1/2 pounds
16 guest-3 pounds

Cheese: Cubed or sliced
4 guests - 6-8 ounces
8 guests- 1 pound
16 guests- 1 1/2 pounds

Salads: Pasta, Coleslaw, Spinach etc.
4 guests-1 pound
8 guests-2 pounds
16 guests-4 pounds

Chips: Tortilla, Potato, Pita chips etc.
4 guests-4-6 ounces
8 guests-8-12 ounces
16 guests-1 pound

Rolls: Any type of rolls or slices of French/Italian bread
4 guests-8-12 total
8 guests-16-20
16 guests- 3 dozen

Cookies/Bars/Pieces of Cake
4 guests: 8
8 guests: 1 1/2 dozen
16 guests: 3 dozen

Punch/Juice/Iced Tea etc.
4 guests: 48 ounces
8 guests: 96 ounces
16 guests: 1 1/2 gallons

Coffee or Tea
Figure 2 cups per person

There are variables that may need to be applied to your get together. I would consider kids around ten and up as an adult. Some will eat more and some less, but it will most likely even out. If you have quite a few kids coming to your get together I'd double the cookies and bars. If there are a lot leftover send each child home with a small plastic bag of cookies. I try to keep the plastic holiday treat bags on hand during the holidays.

TURKEY SERVING GUIDE
I love turkey and can never have too much leftover, so I always buy more than what I need. This guideline will help you figure what size you'll need to serve as a general rule.

8-12 pound turkey: 2-4 people *see note below
12-16 pound turkey: 5-7 people
16-20 pound turkey: 8-10 people
20-24 pound turkey: 11-13 people

If you have more than 13 people you'll most likely want to either cook two turkeys. I've also served turkey and ham for a large number of people.

Note: A whole turkey breast is a great alternative when there are only 2-3 people for a holiday meal. There isn't any dark meat, but if it's cooked in a crock pot the meat stays moist, and it's usually on sale throughout the holiday season.

On OFL we have some nice recipes for Autumn Butters:

~Brenda

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkins & Apples, Oh My...


I love pumpkin bread, and apple bread, but really wanted to try a bread that used both. I looked around, and ended up combining a few recipes to make these muffins, which turned out very moist and tasty. Perfect for breakfast or snacks. They didn't last long!


Apple Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup pure pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 c. peeled, diced apples

Topping:
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 tablespoons brown sugar

In large bowl, combine the flour, spices, soda and salt into a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin, and oil with a whisk, or fork. Add this to the dry ingredients, stirring until JUST moistened. Stir in diced apples. Spoon the batter into greased/sprayed muffin tins or paper lined muffin cups filling almost to the top. In a small bowl mix the cinnamon with the brown sugar using a fork. Sprinkle a little of this mixture over the top of each muffin. Bake muffins at 350°F. for 35 or 40 minutes until done. This made 18 regular sized muffins.

On OFL you'll find these recipes:

Pumpkin Ginger Muffins

Pumpkin Maple Cheesecake

Apple Brunch Recipes

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Last Minute Halloween Treats

We aren't having our Halloween bonfire with our teens and their friends until the weekend after Halloween, so I still have time to decide on treats for the party. If you are rushing around this week trying to figure out a homemade treat to make, try one of the following recipes. I'm going to make at least two of the following bars, plus I'll pick up candy after Halloween when it's marked down. Teens eat a lot, so I may have to make 3 or 4 pans now that I think about it:)

Halloween Crispy Bars

Ingredients:
1/4 cup margarine
1 pkg. (10 oz.) marshmallows
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
2 cups candy corn

Grease a 9x13 pan with margarine or spray well with pan spray.In a large pan, slowly melt the margarine over low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir constantly until they have completely melted in with the margarine. Remove from heat. Stir in cinnamon and vanilla. Add the rice cereal and candy corn. Stir until well coated. Spread margarine on your hands and press into the pan lightly until even in the pan. Chill, then cut into squares.

Crispy Caramel Chocolate Bars

Ingredients:
5 cups crispy rice cereal
1 bag caramels of 49 caramels
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
3 tbsp. water

Melt the caramels over low heat, mixing with the water. In a large bowl place the cereal. Add the caramel and mix. With buttered fingers, press the cereal mixture into a 13 x 9 inch buttered pan. Sprinkle the chocolate and butterscotch chips evenly over the top of the cereal mixture. Place in 200 degree oven for 5 minutes until morsels are soft. They won't actually melt, but will be soft so they can be spread. Remove from the oven and use a butter knife to spread and swirl the softened chips evenly. Cut in squares.

Triple Chocolate Bars

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. cocoa
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup stick margarine
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups cocoa crispy rice cereal

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter or spray a 13x9 baking pan. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well with a dry spoon or fork. In another large bowl, beat the margarine and brown sugar until light. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chips and the cereal to mix well. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool. Frost if desired, or cut into squares and serve as is.

German Chocolate Bars

Ingredients:
1/2 cups margarine, stick variety
1 pkg. German chocolate cake mix
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 (6 oz.) pkg. semi sweet chocolate chips
2 cups toasted oat cereal or crispy rice cereal
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.. Melt the margarine in a 15 x 10 1/2 x 1 inch jelly roll pan by placing in the oven once it's heated. Sprinkle the dry cake mix over the melted margarine and pat evenly onto the pan. Sprinkle with marshmallows, chocolate chips and cereal. Drizzle condensed milk evenly over the top. Bake 20 minutes. Cool and cut into bars. Makes 48 bars.

On OFL you'll find more recipes for Halloween:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mexican Bean Burrito Soup

My husband loves my chili, and I appreciate his loyalty to one of my dishes, but sometimes I just want to shake it up with something different. Today I put together a soup that mixed a few recipes with my own twist and I came up with Mexican Bean Burrito Soup.


Mexican Bean Burrito Soup

Ingredients:

1 tsp. vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 lb. ground beef chuck
1 cup smooth taco sauce
32 ounces ready to serve beef broth
1 cup water
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. Adobo seasoning with cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 can Northern, pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can refried beans
3/4 cup uncooked instant brown or white rice
Shredded Cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips

Heat the oil in a soup/stock pot and saute the onion until soft. Add the ground chuck, breaking apart as it browns. When the meat is browned and no longer pink, add the beef broth, water, taco sauce, spices and beans. Mix with a wooden spoon, and bring to a boil. Boil for 5-8 minutes, then add the rice. Cover, and simmer for 5 more minutes if it's brown instant rice. If it's white instant rice, remove from heat at that point and cover. Allow it to sit covered for up to ten minutes after removed from heat.

Serve in bowls with shredded cheese and crumbled tortilla chips. Serves 6.

OPTIONS: If you want to leave out the meat, add another can of beans. This would also be good with shredded cooked pork or chicken in place of the ground beef. Sour cream and extra hot sauce could be served with it as well.

On OFL I shared more spicy soups:

~Brenda

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Halloween Party Appetizers

I love appetizers. They are dainty, fun and for those of us not on the cocktail party circuit, they are a special treat. When it comes to sharing Halloween recipes I always have to struggle because there are already so many cool recipes out there, and I don't like to repeat what's been done. I was looking through my Modern Encyclopedia for Cooking this morning, and my eye caught the appetizer section. Whether a party is for adults, kids, adults or a mix of all three, presentation is the key. An appetizer buffet can turn into a Halloween themed party by sprinkling the counter with Halloween themed confetti and decorating your home with pumpkins, flowers and other fall decor.

Everyone is so excited about their costumes it's often hard to get them to eat a full mean during Halloween festivities, but who can resist an buffet of appetizers?

Grape Shrub

3 cups grape juice
6 tsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup cold water
4 tbsp. sugar
dash salt
2 pints sherbet, orange or lime

Combine all the ingredients except the sherbet and chill thoroughly. Serve in juice glasses with a scoop of sherbet. Serves 12.

Note: Shrubs were traditional beverages made in Colonial times, always with fruit that was past it's prime. It was made as a syrup, sometimes with alcohol, but always with sugar and some type of acid such as lemon juice or vinegar to preserve it. Water was added to this to make the beverage as it was needed.

Apple Tempters

2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. water
2 tart red apples
slice of sharp cheese, 1/2 inch thick
1 stalk celery

Combine the lemon, sugar and water. Cut the unpeeled apple into 1/2 inch cubes. Marinate in the lemon mixture for an hour. Remove to drain. Cut the cheese into 1/2 inch cubes and cut the celery in 1/2 inch lengths. On each toothpick stick a cube of cheese, apple and celery. Cover and store in the refrigerator to keep moist and cold til serving time. The apples will not discolor.
Makes 30-36.

Dried Beef Pin-Wheels

1/4 cup Roquefort cheese
2 drops Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. grated onion
5 whole slices dried beef
2 carrots

Mash the cheese and blend with the Worcestershire and onions. Spread on each slice of dried beef . Roll up as a jelly roll. Make rolls about 4 inches long and thick enough to be 3/4 inch in diameter. Chill. Then cut into 1/2 inch lengths. Cut slender carrots into 1/8 inch thick crosswise slices. Stick a slice of carrot and dried beef roll on each toothpick. Makes about 40.

Potato Scoops

1 1/2 ounces cream cheese
2 tbsp. Roquefort cheese
1 tsp. chili sauce
1/2 tsp. vinegar
1/8 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. paprika
dash of salt
30-40 potato chips *see note

Blend the cheeses thoroughly, then add the rest of the ingredients except the potato chips. Mix well. Drop about 1 tsp. of the mixture into center of each potato chip just before serving. Makes 30-40.

Note: The Tostitos Scoops work great for this recipe!

Norse Nods

2 tbsp. anchovy paste
2 tbsp. creamed butter
2 tbsp. finely cut chives
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
24 wheat crackers *see note
optional: pimiento

Combine the first four ingredients and blend well. Spread about a 1/2 tsp. of anchovy mixture on each cracker. Garnish with pimiento or a small piece of chive.

Note: They didn't have the type of wheat crackers we have back in 1949, so I adapted this recipe. Wheat Thins work well, or the wheat Ritz crackers, which I really like.

On OFL I shared plans for an old fashioned apple social:

~Brenda

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More on Bulbs and Fall Plantings

I'd like to share some tips from The Old Dirt Dobber's Garden Book, published in 1944, today. We are almost running out of time to plant bulbs, rhyzomes and corms in the Northern areas. It's not too late to dig up Iris and replant them if need be. They don't do as well crowded in clumps, so it's a good time to divide. Lilies of all varieties can be planted and divided as well. I also do this in the spring with success. Mr. Williams has this to say:

Fall is the best time to plan all varieties of lilies. The bulbs should be kept out of sunlight, preferably stored in damp sand or moss until time for actual planting. When the scales of the lilies dry out excessively, they frequently take two or three years to recuperate sufficiently to bloom. Do not worry about whether your soil will grow lilies; any good garden soil in which you've been growing annual, perennials or vegetables will suit them.

Note: I've found this is true too. The only problem I've run across is they don't do well when crowded, or when weeds become to thick. The north side of our house had three or four types of lilies planted when we purchased it, but they were overgrown with thick weeds, and crowded. Each year I dug up a clump or two, divided and moved to new flower beds where they flourished. However, there were so many, it took me several years to get them relocated since I had to dig new beds around our property.

More from Mr. Williams:

Water standing around bulbs will increase the likelihood of rot. An easy solution to this essential requirement is to put one inch of sand in the bottom of each hole, set the bulb on this sand, and then surround and cover the entire bulb with sand before filling in the hole with top soil.

Do not allow any fertilizer to come into contact with the bulb itself. Any of the good commercial fertilizers or well-rotted stable manure may be mixed with the top soil in filling in and covering the area where lilies are planted.

Notes: I used compost and organic fertilizer when planting bulbs or new plants.

More on planting:
The depth of planting for lily bulbs varies according to their size, and a safe rule to follow is to plant them four times their depth in light soil, and three times their depth in heavy soil. The applies to all except the Madonna lily, which is shallow-rooted and should not be put more than two or two and a half inches below the surface of the ground. Madonnas should be planted in August or early September to allow for the fall growth of leaf rosettes which remain green throughout winter.

Notes: The Madonna lily, L. candidum, is an heirloom plant and one of the oldest around. It's white/cream colored and grows similar to an oriental lily. Once established it's very hardy and will thrive in fertile soil.

I love growing lilies, and can't imagine not having them in my landscape. Check your local garden nurseries for deals this time of year, and divide what you have only if they seem to be crowded and blooming less each year. Otherwise, leave them alone and enjoy!

On OFL I also have tips on growing Oriental lilies:
http://oldfashionedliving.com/lily.html

~Brenda

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An Easy Ham Dinner for Family

With the cool weather upon us I'm using the oven on a regular basis, and I decided to make an easy ham dinner this week while my husband had a day off work. For once we were all home together and ham is a family favorite.

I wanted to mention a few things about the ham. I always buy it on sale, and my favorite type of ham is the butt portion. It has more meat and less fat than the shank or the picnic ham, and it's moister than a boneless ham. On sale I can get it for a little over a dollar a pound. I usually buy a 3-4 pound ham for our family. Below are the instructions on how I cook it. It's very simple, and I don't use a glaze or seasoning. The Buttercup squash was on sale for .50 a pound at the grocery store, so I picked that up for the dinner as well.


Simple Baked Ham

Ingredients:
3-4 pound butt portion ham
water
corn starch

Place the ham cut side down in a large roaster pan. Add about a 1/2 inch of water to the bottom of the pan. 1-2 cups of water. Cover with the lid, and bake at 350 degrees F. for one hour until ham is heated through completely.

Allow the ham to sit for 5 minutes or so then remove from the pan to a platter. Set aside. Depending on how many drippings collected in the pan, add 1-3 cups of hot water into the pan, stir and bring to a boil. In a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Mix in 1/4-1/2 cup water and stir briskly with a fork to dissolve the cornstarch. Add this to the pan of drippings, stirring it in as it boils. Boil until it thickens, then turn off the heat.

Spoon up the gravy into a bowl, and serve with sliced ham.

Buttercup Squash

Ingredients:
One whole buttercup squash
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
salt
garlic pepper OR
black pepper and garlic powder

Place the squash on a towel or hotpad. Using a large, sharp knife cut the squash in half. Hold the squash firmly and cut straight down. I flip it over and cut from the other side as well until I've cut it in half completely.

Place both halves skin side down in a pie plate or glass pan that will fit into the microwave. Add enough water to the bottom so it's about 1/4 inch. Place in the microwave and cook 5 minutes on high. Check the squash for tenderness by piercing with a fork. It should go through the skin easily. Cook for 4 more minutes, pierce again. If it's still not tender cook for 2 more minutes. If the microwave does not have a rotating tray, then turn the dish each time. Remove when tender.

Place a tablespoon of butter in each half and season to taste. I served the squash as is out of the shells, but it can be scooped out into a serving dish first, then seasoned if you wish.

Dinner Notes: I also made mashed potatoes since there was gravy and the kids are not fans of squash. Don't forget to use the leftover ham bone for soup.

On OFL we have a tips and recipes for spaghetti squash:

~Brenda

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Recipes for Fall Entertaining

Fall is a wonderful time of year to give lunches, dinners or small parties. It's cooled off enough to enjoy baking for friends, and to serve hot beverages as well. The rich colors of fall are also lovely to use as decorating themes. Fill baskets with herbs, leaves, pine cones, small pumpkins, apples or squash.

Hot Apple Punch
Farm Journal, 1968

2 1/4 cups sugar
1 quart water
2 cinnamon sticks
8 whole allspice berries
10 whole cloves
1 piece ginger root, quarter size
1 quart orange juice, any type
1 pint lemon juice or 16 ounce bottle
2 quarts apple cider or juice

Combine the sugar and water. Boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add spices. Let syrup stand, covered for one hour. Strain. Just before serving, combine the syrup, fruit juices and cider; bring quickly to a boil. Remove from heat and serve. Makes 4 1/2 quarts.

Notes: Place the spices in a muslin bag or cheesecloth and just pull them out instead of straining. Instead of boiling before serving, add the ingredients into a crockpot and heat on high until hot then turn on warm.

Scalloped Apples
Modern Priscilla Cook Book, 1924

5 apples
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups fresh bread crumbs

Boil the apples to a pulp, adding sugar. Stir the butter, beaten eggs, cinnamon and salt into the apple sauce. Grease a baking dish and put in one layer of crumbs, then a layer of apple pulp, and so on until all the apple is used. Cover the top with crumbs and bake in a moderate oven. (350 degrees F.) for 45 minutes. Servings 6. Serve with custard, cream or ice cream.

Apple Injun
Modern Priscilla Cook Book, 1924

3 cups milk
1/2 cup corn meal
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 pint milk (cold)
2 tbsp. butter
1 quart sweet apples

Scald three cups milk, sift in corn meal, stirring rapidly and cook five minutes. Remove from fire, add cinnamon, salt, sugar, cold milk, butter and apples, cut in eighths. Bake in a deep covered dish in a 300 degree F. over for 4 hours. Servings, 8.

Notes: I'm guessing the name is because of the corn meal mixture-- there is a corn dish I've seen called Indian Corn. It does not say to peel and core the apples, but I would. Often very old cookbooks will assume you know to do certain steps-- peeling and coring is one of these.

Cider Punch
Practical Recipes for the Housewife

1 quart cider
1 quart white grade juice
2 quarts water
juice of two oranges
juice of two lemons
1 cup sugar

Grate part of the orange and lemon rinds. Dissolve sugar in fruit juices. Pour in cider and add grated rinds. Pour over lump of ice for use in a punch bowl.

Maple Ginger Snaps
Home Comfort Cook Book, 1948

1/2 cup shortening or butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup maple syrup
6 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cold water

Cream shortening and sugar. Beat in syrup. Resift flour with the dry ingredients. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the water. Knead well. Roll thin. Cut. Bake on greased tins in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) Cool. Remove from tins.

We have an article with old fashioned Halloween party ideas:

~Brenda

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall Recipes: Acorn Squash

I love acorn squash and thought I would share a few tips and recipes in honor of the Canadian Thanksgiving which is on Monday, October 10. Our Canadian friends tend to fix the same type of traditional foods that we do for our American Thanksgiving. Acorn is the perfect squash to serve for a holiday meal or a Sunday dinner. It's easy to cook, and goes well with any main dish.

BASIC COOKING
If the squash is larger in size it should be cut in half with a very sharp knife. Place the squash on a cutting board that has been placed on top of a towel. This will help keep it from slipping. Remove the seeds and loose pulp, then place it in a baking dish cut side down. Bake the squash at 350 degrees F. for about 30 minutes or until it tests tender using a fork.

Acorn squash can be cooked then mashed and used in any recipe that calls for pumpkin, including pies and bread. There are quite a few types of acorn squash, and they can all be used the same, regardless of color, etc.

Stuffed Acorn Squash
The Farm Journal, 1968

3 medium acorn squash
1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs
1 cup grated sharp cheese
1/4 cup softened butter or margarine
3 tbsp. chopped green pepper
2 tbsp. chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Split squash, remove seeds. Place cut side down in baking pan. Bake in hot oven (400 degrees F.) for 45 minutes until tender.

Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, scoop out pulp, leaving shells 1/4 inch thick. Mash pulp; add remaining ingredients. Pile lightly into shells and bake at 350 degrees F. until lightly browned-- about 30 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

This is from the 20th Century Cookbook, published in 1905. They lump winter squash into one category, but that would include acorn, hubbard, butternut etc. The text is directly from the book:

Baked Winter Squash: Boil or steam, mash and let get cold, then beat up light with 1 tablespoon melted butter, 2 raw eggs, 3 tablespoons milk; pepper and salt to taste. Put in buttered bake dish, sift dry crumbs over the top and bake in a quick oven. (note: quick oven would be 250-300 degrees F.)

Baked Squash L'Elegante: Boil or steam. Drain and put in a baking dish, put over them bits of butter, pepper and salt, sprinkle thickly with sugar, and bake in the oven a nice brown.

Stuffed Acorn Squash
McCall's Cook Book, 1963

2 medium acorn squash
salt
1/2 pound sausage meat, sliced
2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
3/4 cup finely chopped pared apple
1/4 tsp. dried oregano leaves

Preheat oven 375 degrees F. Scrub squash. Cut in half crosswise, scoop out seed and stringy portion. Sprinkle squash with salt. Place, cut side down, in shallow baking pan. Add hot water to measure 1/2 inch. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, in medium skillet, saute sausage meat until browned, breaking it into small chunks with fork as it browns.

Remove sausage from skillet; set aside. Drain all except 2 tbsp. drippings from skillet. Add onion, saute until golden. Return sausage with the remaining ingredients to skillet, tossing lightly. Fill squash halves with mixture, bake uncovered 30 minutes.

Notes: I'm not sure what sausage they used originally for this but I use breakfast sausage. Rather than slice and break into chunks as mentioned, I put the ground sausage in the pan and break it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. I doubt I have 2 tbsp. of drippings left when it's done but it works with less to saute the onion.

Try this Roasted Butternut Squash Soup recipe from OFL:
http://oldfashionedliving.com/Roasted-Butternut-Squash-Soup.html

Brenda

Friday, September 30, 2011

October Garden Tips & Chores

Autumn is in full swing, which means it's time to take advantage of the lovely days to take care of the lawn and garden.

Lawns, shrubs and perennials still need about an inch of rain a week. Rain gauges can be bought very cheaply. I found one for a dollar, but you can also make your own to measure the rain in your area. We've been getting enough rain where I am located, but I know some of you may be in areas where you aren't, so be sure to water if you receive less than an inch.

It's that time of year to dig up summer bulbs such as gladioli, dahlias, tuberous begonias, caladiums and cannas. I have an article on OFL with more information on storage: http://oldfashionedliving.com/corms.html

I've gotten lucky with glads for two years now and they've come back on their own. They are in a bed with mulch but no extra protection. I'm in Zone 5 so this has been a cool surprise. It doesn't hurt to give it a try if you don't have time to dig them up this year.

Garlic can be planted this month before the ground freezes. Plant it in full sun where the soil has been worked up deeply and it's fertile but not soggy. Organic matter such as leaf mold will give the garlic an extra boost. Separate the cloves from a head of garlic, then plant them 3 inches deep and 5-6 inches apart. The cloves should be planted with the pointed tips up. Cover and gently pat the soil over the cloves.

If time allows, fall is a great time to prepare garden and flower beds for next year. Remove annuals and vegetables from the beds as they finish blooming or harvesting is finished. Spread compost over the top of beds, even if it hasn't broken down all the way. This will help fertilize the bed over the winter.

Weeds can quickly take over especially with a few good rains, and warm temperatures. Take advantage of the cool fall days to pull weeds that have gotten out of control. This will cut back on the weeding that needs to be done in the spring and early summer.

October is one of my favorite months because of the colors, the fresh cool air, the fall blooms and the fragrance of autumn. I hope you're enjoying your fall days.

~Brenda

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall Recipes: Gold Nugget Squash

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot

I picked up a Gold Nugget squash the other day to give it a try. I've always loved acorn and butternut squash but had never tried this variety. It has a rough textured skin the color of pumpkin and it can be microwaved whole or baked. It can also be substituted for acorn squash if you can't find Gold Nugget.

To microwave: Poke 4-5 holes in the skin with a fork. Cook for 8-10 minutes in the microwave until the skin is softer and the flesh in tender. Smaller squash may cook faster.

Baked Gold Nugget Squash

Ingredients
3-4 Gold Nugget Squash
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut each squash into 6 wedges. Remove seeds and pulp from the pieces. Place the squash in a baking pan or casserole, drizzling with the oil. Season with salt and pepper, then turn the pieces over so the skin is up and the flesh is on the botton. Bake for 20 minutes, turn over the pieces and bake for 20 more minutes or until tender.

Squash and Apple Bake
Virginia State Apple Board

Ingredients:
2 Sweet Dumpling or Golden Nugget squash (about 1 1/4 pounds each)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1 large Granny Smith apple, cored and diced
1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
1 medium leek, white part only, thinly sliced

Pierce the squash in 3 or 4 places with the tip of a sharp knife. Place the squash on a double layer of paper towels on the floor of the oven. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Turn the squash and microwave on high for 4 to 6 minutes longer, or until it just begins to feel soft when gently squeezed. Let stand until cooled, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a 2-quart oval casserole or 9-inch glass pie plate, combine the oil, lemon juice, apple, leek, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and pepper. Cover tightly with a lid or vented plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, or until the apple and leek are quite soft. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Scoop the pulp from the squash into the casserole with the apple mixture. Mash the squash with the back of a spoon while stirring in the apple and leek to combine. Spoon the mixture back into the casserole or pie plate. Cover loosely with a lid or vented plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 4 to 6 minutes, or until heated through. Makes 4 servings.

Winter Squash Soup

Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
1 large sweet onion chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
3 15 ounce cans chicken broth
3 pounds winter squash, Gold Nugget works well.
1 1/4 tsp. fresh thyme
1 1/4 tsp. fresh minced sage
1/4 cup cream or half and half

Peel halve and seed the squash, then cut into chunks. Melt the butter in large pot on medium heat. Add the onion and garlic to the butter and cook until softened,8-10 minutes. Add the broth, squash and herbs. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Puree soup in blender for a smooth soup or mash with potato masher for more texture. Return to pan and season with salt and pepper before serving if desired.

On OFL we have an article with recipe for Roasted Butternut Soup:
http://oldfashionedliving.com/Roasted-Butternut-Squash-Soup.html

~Brenda

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Harvesting and Caring for Lemon Balm


I haven't blogged about herbs lately and thought I would talk a bit about harvesting and caring for lemon balm today. I grow thyme, oregano, lemon balm, chives, lavender, calendula, catmint, sage, Lady's Mantle and bee balm. I actually grew more herbs in the city but had to leave them behind when we sold the house. I've been slowly adding more herbs each year.

Lemon balm is an herb I've grown for about ten years now. It's related to mint, which is important to remember because it grows much like mint in that it can easily become invasive. It will spread from the roots and from seed. Once it takes hold, like mint, it's hard to control. This is the only problem I've encountered in ten years. Lemon balm is a carefree plant, needing no fertilizer or extra watering. I've grown it in sun and shade with success in both locations.

Eleanour Sinclair Rohde, a well known and loved garden writer and herb expert, has this to say about lemon balm in her book Herbs and Herb Gardening written in 1936:

"Balm in rich, moist soil attains well over two feet, and a border of it, two feet wide, looks very handsome. "

"Young balm leaves cut up finely are a good addition to mixed salads, and balm tea made by pouring boiling water on two big handfuls of the leaves has a sweet and delicate taste."

Lemon balm is a sturdy and very hardy herb. It can be harvested often and cut almost to the ground before winter. It doesn't hold it's flavor well during drying, but if you add it to other herbs as part of a seasoning blend or tea, it adds a light lemon taste. I've used it for many years in herb vinegars, combining it with basil, thyme and oregano.

Fresh lemon balm can be used in sun tea or hot tea, as mentioned. It also adds a lovely flavor to roast chicken when stuffed in the cavity of the bird.

Lemon balm should be harvested before it's blooms to stop it from forming seeds. Keep it contained and dig up volunteers as soon as they pop up. The perfect location is one where it can roam free in its own small raised bed in partial shade with fertile soil. It can also be used as a ground cover with success.

One of the first herbs my daughter loved was lemon balm. She was only 3 years old, and would ask if she could pick a leaf to hold and smell because she loved the scent. Lemon balm will always have a place in my garden.

On OFL we have tips on growing and using rosemary, another favorite:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Caramel Treats for Fall

Certain flavors, scents and colors remind me of fall. Pumpkin, apples, and caramel are the taste of fall for me, and I'm sure for many of you. Today I have a few recipes to try now that we can heat up our ovens on cool, fall days.

Caramel Crispy Bars

Ingredients:
1 package (14 ounces)caramels
3 tablespoons water
5 cups crispy rice cereal
1 cup peanuts, chopped
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

Melt the caramels with the water in double boiler over low heat, stirring until caramels are melted and smooth. You can also do this in a microwave, heating a minute at time, stirring in between until smooth.

Place the cereal and peanuts in a large bowl. Pour over the caramel and toss until well coated. Using buttered fingers, press the mixture into greased 9x13 inch baking pan.

Preheat oven to 200°F. Sprinkle the chocolate and butterscotch chips over the mixture, then bake 5 minutes, or until the chips are soft.

Remove the pan from oven and spread the warm chips over the top of the bars with a wooden spoon or spatula. Cool, then cut into bars.

Apple Cake with Caramel Frosting

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cups chopped pecans
3 cups cored, peeled and chopped apples

Combine the oil, sugar and eggs in a large bowl. Beat until creamy with an electric mixer. Sift flour and measure into a bowl. Sift again and add the salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet a little at a time, beating after addition. Fold in chopped pecans and apples. Spread evenly into a 9x13 baking pan that has been buttered or sprayed well.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 55 or 60 minutes. Cool, then frost with the frosting below.

Caramel Frosting

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. butter
1/3 c. heavy cream or half and half
2/3 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1/8 tsp. salt
3 c. confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix the butter, cream, brown sugar and salt in medium pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the vanilla, then gradually add the confectioners' sugar until it's the thickness desired.

Caramel Coffee Cake

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup pecans, finely chopped

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a separate bowl. Alternately add flour mixture and sour cream to butter mixture. Beat until light. Combine cinnamon, brown sugar, and pecans in small bowl. Grease and flour 9x13 baking pan. Pour half of batter into pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle half of filling over the batter. Pour and spread the remaining batter over this and sprinkle with the remaining filling. Bake for 35 minutes at 350ยบ F. Remove from over and pour the caramel topping over the cake, spreading evenly. Place the cake under the oven broiler for about 3 minutes until the frosting begins to bubble. Cool.

Caramel Topping

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
6 tablespoons milk or cream
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup pecan pieces, finely chopped

Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the milk, brown sugar, and pecans to the melted butter, continue to heat, and stir for 3 more minutes.

On OFL we have apple recipes for a fall brunch: