Thursday, November 20, 2008

Herb Bread

Herb Bread
Makes 4 one pound loaves
Oven TempL 350°

1 c. warm milk or water
1 egg
2-4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ 1 teaspoon dried dill
¼ teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 – ½ cup freshly chopped onion
3 ½ cups bread flour
1 tablespoon yeast ( a package is not a tablespoon.)

Mix all ingredients, knead till dough is elastic and smooth. Rise till doubled. Punch down and shape into small loaves. Rise until doubled. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or so.

I never make this the same wy twice, so don’t be afraid of messing up the herbs. It always tastes good no matter what I seem to put in. Measurements for herbs can be adjusted to personal taste. ½ c. Pamesan cheese is also a nice addition.

A New Grandbaby

As I've made meals this fall I have tucked containers of this and that into the freezer for Scott and Meg. I think Elisa could check a cooler of food as luggage when she flies to Mississippi in December so they could have easy meals. If they were here I would take them dinner as often as possible. Things like Potluck Chicken, Chicken Pot Pie or a nice roast beef dinner with twice baked potatoes. I'd add some wheat rolls or herb bread to go along with the meal.

Here is my basic recipe for wheat bread, or as Elisa call's it "Mom Bread."

(basic dough for loaves or rolls)
Adapted from LLL’s “Whole Foods for Whole Families”
Makes 2 loaves of bread or 48 rolls.
Oven Temp: 350°

2 cups warm water
1-2 cups dry milk (optional)
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
1 ½ teaspoon salt
up to 4 eggs
2 tablespoons yeast
1 cup wheat germ
6-7 cups flour

Mix all ingredients, except for 3 cups flour until batter is smooth. Add remaining flour and knead with dough hook for about 8 minutes. Use the larger amount of flour if you use four eggs.

Let rise about one hour. Shape into 4 one pound loaves loaves (small foil pans) or two larger loaves (regular sized bread pans) or 48 rolls. Let rise about 1 hour ( a little less for rolls. Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes for bread; 30 minutes for rolls.

This freezes nicely, so I often make a big batch and package the rolls in dinner sized portions.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Online price book tool

This online price book can be really helpful when you are trying to figure out the best places to shop.  It helps you know if you really are saving money at Sam's or doing better by shopping local sales or stores like Save-a-Lot and Aldi's.  I hope you find it useful.

Online pricebook s/grocery-savings-spreadsheet-price-book/

Meal Planning Ideas

Menu Planning

A Facebook note inspired me to post some ideas on menu planning.  It really helps to save money, time and effort!  Since I have been cooking dinner for almost 29 years now I have learned a little about fighting the eternal 4 o'clock question, "what's for dinner???"

Different Ideas for Menu Planning
1.  Rotation
When I babysat triplets and had to have a cooked breakfast ready at 8:30 every morning we followed a regular plan.  We had muffins on Monday, Toast with peanut butter on Tueday, Waffles on Wednesday, Thursday we had scrambled eggs and French toast was served on Fridays.  Pancakes were made now and again when we got tired of the routine.  Mornings were so much easier when I knew what was coming up and I could do some prep work the night before, like mixing all the dry ingredients for pancakes or muffins, and storing them in a ziplock.  Wet ingredients were measured and stored in the fridge in a maons jar for easy mixing he next day.  

The same idea can be applied to dinner by designating one night chicken night, another night beef, vegetarian, pork, casserole or whatever.  When chicken night comees around you only have to consider what chicken dish you want to make, not ponder the whole spectrum of what could be for dinner.  

Other families I know have an Italian night, Chinese night, Mexican night, Pasta night, Soup night etc.  Depending on how your family likes to eat this can be useful and gives variety.

2. Master Lists
Once upon a time I had a list of all the recipes we liked to eat sorted by main ingredient.  I would go through the sale flyers and then choose recipes from the list for the week.  

3.  Long Range planning
I cook and shop most effectively when I plan for a month at a time.  This way when something is on sale and I know it is coming up in the menu I can purchase what I will need for the weeks to come.  It also helps me reduce the number of shopping trips I make because I can buy some things in bulk.  

I use an excel spreadsheet for my 30 day menus.  Some things I have learned about long range planning:
Don't plan big meals every single night.  Put in those easy favorites your family loves now and then.
Don't try new recipes too many nights in a row.  
Cook once and eat twice ideas are easy to plan with long range planning.  For instance if you cook a roasting chicken, put the rest of the cooked chicken in the freezer for a stir-fry meal or for quesadillas.  I am thinking the whole cook once eat twice idea should be another post one day.
Remember to plan days for leftovers or eating out when you know life will be hectic.
Do your long range planning (even your weekly planning) with a calendar in hand so you are not planning an elaborate meal on a day you have a really busy afternoon of errands or meetings. 

Although it does take time, menu planning ultimately saves you time and stress.  Remember that your plan is just that, a plan, and very often plans change.  It is a tool to serve you, not to enslave you.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sweet Muffins
From the Orange Betty Crocker Cookbook circa 1979
Makes 12 muffins
Oven temp: 400 °

½ cup milk
1 egg
¼ cup vegetable oil or melted butter
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Optional ingredients:
1 cup blueberries
1 cup finely chopped apples + 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 °. Grease bottoms of 12 standard muffin cups (2 ¾ inches in diameter) or spray with cooking spray. Beat egg well. Stir in milk and oil, Mix in remaining ingredients just until flour is moistened. Gently stir in optional ingredients. Batter should be lumpy.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 20-25 mminutes or until golden brown. Let stand in pan 3-5 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack.

Each summer I freeze blueberries just so I can make blueberry muffins all winter. I generally freeze 24 pints at least. If I do more I can occasionally make blueberry buckle. a great streusel topped coffee cake.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Creamy Bacon Cheddar Hash Browns

Creamy Bacon Cheddar Hashbrowns

2 lbs shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed and drained
1/2 onion, chopped and sauteed
1 (10 1/2 ounce) can cream of chicken (or something) soup
8 ounces sour cream
3/4 cup bacon bits
2 cups cheddar cheese (shredded)
3 tablespoons dry ranch dressing mix
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
• In a large bowl, mix cream of chicken soup, sour cream, bacon bits and ranch dressing mix. Add cheddar cheese, onions and hashbrowns.
• Place in greased 9x13 pan.
• Bake 35 minutes or until bubbly.

While not something that can be eaten often, this is a great side dish for a crowd!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Carrot-Broccoli Soup

2 tablespoons finely minced onion
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 tablespoons flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 cups milk
4 cups canned chicken broth (broth made with bullion cubes makesittoo salty)
10 oz package chopped broccoli (or 2 cups fresh chopped broccoli)
2 cups grated carrots

Cook broccoli and carrots in chicken broth until just tender. Set aside. Saute onion in butter. Add flour and salt. Mix to smooth paste. Gradually add milk and just bring to a boil to thicken. When ready to serve blend broth mixture with milk micture and reheat if needed. Be careful not to boil as soup will separate and not look as attractive. It will still taste good though.

I remember making this for a dinner party in honor of Kelly's 21st birthday. Now she is asking for the recipe to prepare it for her son Seth's baptism. It is a family favorite that works well for so many occasions. I especially like it as a light dinner with toasted cheese bread.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Elsie's Lasagna

My mother-in-law is an amazing woman.  This is her recipe for lasagna that I have adjusted to suit our family's tastes.   

Life always takes some adjusting as we've always known, but now, as we enjoy grandchildren and deal with the realities of aging parents it seems like ever bigger adjustments are needed.  
How truly wonderful it is to be able to rely on God's all-sufficiency when things that need adjusting seem just too big.  He is so faithful to give all that is needed in every situation, no matter if it is motivation to wash the dishes or wisdom to make decisions for parents who no longer seem able to make decisions.  

Here's the recipe.   Soon I will post the fabulous bread that goes so very well with this!

Elsie’s Lasagna
Makes two pans of lasagna . (I use foil casserole pans that are about 13x9, but deeper than a cake pan.

1-3 lbs ground beef (I use one)
1c. chopped onions
2 cloves minced garlic
1 32 oz. can tomato puree
1 quart water
3 tablspoons parsley
(3 tablespoons sugar)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons oregano

Brown ground beef. Saute onions and garlic until tender. Add other sauce ingredients and simmer uncovered for one hour.

2 lbs. Cottage cheese (Ricotta will work)
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 ½ pounds grated mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons parsley
(2 teaspoons salt)
2 teaspoons oregano

Mix filling ingredients well.

Bring a large pot of water and about a tablespoon of oil to a boil. Boil lasagna noodles and then chill with cold water. Leave the in water so they do not stick together. Usualy I don’t add oil to water for pasta, but this is one time it is needed.

Put some sauce in the bottom of the lasagna pan. Layer noodles, cheese and more sauce in three or four layers. End with noodles, top with a little more sauce and additional Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 for 45- 60 minutes.

This dish freezes well and it is just as much trouble to make 4 pans of lasagna as it is to make two

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shaker Bars

I've been asked for this recipe and others a time or two, so I thought I would create a blog that focuses on recipes well-loved by family and friends.  

This recipe for Shaker bars comes from my grandmother who never really baked them herself, but had her housekeeper do it for her.  My mom used this recipe when  teens were running rampant through her house and now I use it to feed hungry teens here. 

Shaker Bars
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 cups self rising flour
1 cup chocolate chips
Mix eggs and sugar.  Blend in oil and vanilla.  Blend in flour till just moistened.  Pour into greased 9x13 pan.  Sprinkle with choclate chips.  Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until lightly browned.