Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

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Scalloped Potatoes with Ham in comfort food for the soul.  My Mother often made a version of Scalloped Potatoes with Ham and I have made in in the crock pot for years.  I wanted a new version, and loved this recipe.

While perusing the reviews, several people added additional seasoning to the sauce, parboiled the potatoes, added broccoli, etc.  This is a solid base recipe that you can use to get creative.  In the photos below, I did not cover the dish while baking and it took a solid hour to cook.  It is delicious ad comforting…just what we all need!

SCALLOPED POTATOES WITH HAM

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
Salt & Pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
12 ounces 1/4 inch sliced baked ham, cubed
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a baking dish.
  • In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium high heat. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in milk. Return pan to heat and bring to a simmer while stirring. When sauce has thickened remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • In a skillet, cook onions in melted butter until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Spread 1/3 of the white sauce in bottom of baking dish and top with half of the potatoes. Spread out half of the onions, ham, cheese and another third of the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Continue layering ingredients, ending with the remaining cheese on top. Bake, covered, for 45 mintues.  Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Hungarian Goulash Soup

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Hungarian Goulash is different from the Midwest Goulash I grew up with.  The Midwest version was always elbow macaroni, hamburger, tomatoes and sometimes, cheese. I experienced the traditional version in a Hungarian restaurant in Denver and again in Eastern Europe.  Goulash (Gulyasleves) is one of the national dishes of Hungary.  It reminds me of our traditional Beef Stew, although not as thick as stew and uses different spices.

This recipe is an adapted version of the recipe from a tour guide, Food Tour Budapest.  We had a marvelous tour of wonderful restaurants, meandering the streets of Budapest experiencing traditional food and drink in historic and unique restaurants.  How I wish I could travel again and experience such a tour.  Some day… In the meantime, I can recreate the food memories in my own kitchen.

HUNGARIAN GOULASH

2 tablespoons lard or cooking oil (I used Olive Oil)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika; add a bit of spicy paprika if desired
1 pound cubed beef stew meat or pork shoulder
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons caraway seed
4 cups water (I added a bit more as the goulash cooked)
1 whole red pepper, chopped
1 whole tomato, peeled and chopped (or a can of tomatoes)
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, halved and sliced
1/2 cup chopped celery
Optional:  small bits of pasta

  • Add the lard or oil to the stew pot.
  • Add onions to the hot lard or oil.  Cook the onions until they are glossy and saucy.
  • Remove from the fire and add the paprika.  Mix with the onion.  Add a bit of water, to prevent from burning.
  • Add the meat cubes and put back on the fire.  Sprinkle with salt and caraway seed.  Add more or less, depending on your tastes
  • Add the chopped carrots and celery.
  • Once the meat has a bit of color, add water, chopped pepper and tomatoes. Lower heat to simmer and cover. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  • After one and a half or two hours, check the meat. Add the chopped potatoes and cook through, about 20 minutes.
  • Add the pasta pieced (optional) when the potatoes are almost done.
  • Taste the broth and adjust seasoning as desired.

Serve with bread (white or rye).  Optional: add freshly ground paprika or spicy green pepper.

Recipe adapted from FoodTour Budapest and Hungarian Cooking Goulash Soup.

 

 

Czech Garlic Soup

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I discovered the Czech Cookbook and author, Kristýna Koutná, a few years ago.  I was thrilled when she published her cookbook and I bought it immediately!  It is great fun reading her book and trying new recipes of my Father’s heritage in Bohemia, now, the Czech Republic.

Garlic Soup, or Česneková polévka, sounded interesting to me.  It’s a very simple recipe and full of flavor.  I toasted rye bread for croutons, a delicious addition.   Next time, I will be creative with the recipe,  adding leftover chicken, pork, beef or adding additional vegetables.  It would be a wonderful soup to have when you’re not feeling well. This recipe is definitely a new favorite for the Fork-Lore kitchen.

GARLIC SOUP

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
7 garlic cloves
7 cups water
1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
3 large potatoes
1 tablespoon chicken or beef base (or bouillon)
1 egg
2 teaspoons marjoram
Swiss cheese
Croutons

Instructions are shown in the attached video from CzechCookbook.

January 1, 2021

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January 1, 2021

We made it! At 12:01 am on Jan 1, for the first time ever, Hindsight will actually be 2020.  Hindsight means it is easier to evaluate situations when we are looking back at them, and with perfect vision (20/20). 

2020 was a year filled with isolation, fear, skepticism, loneliness, tragedy, depression, addiction, brain fog, strife, injustice, sacrifice, and much more. We learned so much about ourselves and the tremendous strength and perseverance we hold in times of difficulty.

Turning the calendar to 2021 doesn’t change everything, but what it gives us HOPE.  Hope, by definition, is a feeling of expectation and desire for certain things to happen.

Which brings me to my favorite bible verse from childhood, Hebrews 11:1 (KJV), memorized in the southeast Sunday school room of our church in rural central Iowa, the Carlton Brethren Church

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

It’s as if this verse was ingrained in my mind for hope then and for this very moment. As we begin this year, my wish and prayers for 2021 are:

  • To experience peace
  • To be gentle with ourselves
  • To be kind and gentle with others
  • To be grateful for all we have
  • To breathe
  • To see the beauty around us
  • To stay connected
  • To remember what matters most in our lives
  • To experience rest and joy
  • To have good health and an end to the pandemic
  • To continue to see humor in the everyday things

Wishing you a Happy New Year filled with many blessings!

Christmas 2020

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One year ago, we were all hustling and bustling without a virus care in the world.  Stress was high because we put so many expectations on ourselves for the perfect Christmas experience.

Photo by @davidsonluna

Fast forward to Christmas 2021 and our lives are vastly different.  It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but for a moment, I’ll focus on the positives of the COVID experience and a sheltered Christmas.

  • My family and I are COVID free.  Every day I take the time to reflect on this blessing and pray for good health for all.
  • My family and I have shelter and food.  We have the opportunity to help others in need.
  • We are blessed with doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential personnel who are working tirelessly to provide services during this challenging time. They have my complete gratitude for going above and beyond on a daily basis.
  • Vaccinations are on the way giving us hope of control of Coronavirus for the future.
  • Family and friends are even more precious. I love and appreciate each and every one of you!
  • Handwashing and mask wearing are second nature.  When I watch a television show or movie where people are in close proximity, and not wearing masks, I get a little anxious.  Do you?  Wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing is the least I can do for the good of our country.
  • Home has never felt so good.  I’ve always enjoyed being home but I’ve found peace and comfort in my own space.
  • Christmas ornaments are full of memories.  Each year, I think of the moment or the year I acquired each ornament.  Decorating the tree in 2020 was a reflection on a blessed life.
  • Christmas magic abounds with young children. My four young grandchildren are filled with wonder and awe for the holidays .
  • My hair is gray.  If you haven’t seen me in a picture or on Zoom, you may not know that I have gone totally gray.  Gray hair symbolizes the accomplishments and stress that I have lived.  It has given me new found freedom.
  • I’m cooking more.  Cooking has always been a passion and with more time at home, I can experiment.  Curbside pickup of groceries is a new service offered that reduces my risk of exposure to COVID and makes quick work of shopping.
  • I’m posting again on Fork-Lore.  I’m cooking; therefore I’m posting.
  • Technology allows me to catch up with family and friends to stay connected and enjoy social interaction.  Our ancestors didn’t have this luxury during other lockdowns, such as the Spanish (ie., Kansas) flu.
  • Journaling this COVID experience for future reflection started in March and goes on to this day.  Truly, I thought I would only be journaling for 3 or 4 months…Silly me!
  • Podcasts, audio books and long walks are saving me. My favorite podcast list has more than doubled and the number of books read in 2021 is far beyond any previous year.
  • Humor sustains me.  There is nothing more humorous than reflecting on the silly things I do and see each and every day.

This Christmas let us find joy, peace, and good health.  Sending virtual love and hugs to all!

Cathy

Cranberry Orange Bread with Orange Glaze

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Cranberry and Orange are a culinary match made in heaven.  The combination in this wonderful quick bread is divine, especially with the addition of Orange Glaze.

The bread is great with a cup of coffee or tea or can be served as a dessert.  

CRANBERRY ORANGE BREAD WITH ORANGE GLAZE

1 1/2 cups all-purpose Gold Medal flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 large orange
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh cranberries

For the orange glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. In a small bowl, combine sugar and orange zest. Rub together with your fingers until fragrant. Whisk into the flour mixture. Set aside.
  • In a separate medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, orange juice, and vanilla.
  • Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Fold in the cranberries. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  • Bake for 70-75 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. If your loaf starts to get too brown drape a piece of foil over the top to finish baking. I did this during the last 10 minutes of the baking time.
  • Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes. Loosen the sides of the bread with a knife. Carefully remove loaf from pan. Let cool completely on wire rack.
  • While the bread is cooling, make the orange glaze. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the bread. Cut and serve.
  • Note-The bread is best eaten within 2-3 days or freeze.

Recipe from twopeasandtheirpod.com 

Smoked Salmon Dip

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Dips and appetizers are a staple for the holidays.  In 2020, we will not be having the large holiday parties and gatherings, but we can still enjoy our favorite foods and traditions in our homes.

Ina Garten’s Smoked Salmon Dip is an easy, delicious dip that last well in the refrigerator for a day or two.   Smoked Salmon is a favorite of mine, anytime of year, but dip time is holiday time!

SMOKED SALMON DIP

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish, drained
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound (4 ounces) smoked salmon, minced

  • Cream the cheese in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until just smooth.
  • Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, horseradish, salt and pepper, and mix.
  • Add the smoked salmon and mix well.
  • Chill and serve with crudites and/or crackers.

RECIPE FROM INA GARTEN 

Skinny Peppermint Mocha

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Peppermint Mocha is my favorite coffee drink of the year but I rarely order it at Starbucks because it’s loaded with empty calories.  After several years of using COFFEE-MATE Peppermint Mocha Sugar Free Coffee Creamer, I decided to try making my own Peppermint Mocha with the help of the internet.  This was a great recipe that I’ll make again and again!

The second recipe is for a Pepper Mocha Creamer which is also good, but the first recipe is my favorite.  For the creamer, I added a packet of Stevia to my coffee before using the creamer.  The creamer is a little strong for my taste, but still good!

SKINNY PEPPERMINT MOCHA

2/3 cup black coffee brewed, medium roast or coffee of choice
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 packet stevia or sweetener of choice (I used 2 packets)
1/8 tsp peppermint extract

Toppings (optional)

Reddiwhip use coconut for dairy free
Cacao bites or sprinkles

  • Brew coffee, I used leftover coffee that I stored overnight in the refrigerator and warmed in the microwave.
  • In a small pot, combine milk, cocoa, stevia and peppermint extract.
  • Bring to medium heat for 2-3 minutes until cocoa powder dissolves and liquid becomes bubbly.
  • Pour into a large coffee cup with the coffee then use a handheld foamer to blend until it becomes frothy and foamy. Add additional toppings as desired and enjoy.
  • OR I heated all ingredients together and then poured in a coffee mug and topped with Coconut Reddiwhip.  YUMMY!

Recipe slightly adapted from Skinnyfitalicious

Skinny Peppermint Mocha Coffee Creamer

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
  • 1.5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1/4 tsp chocolate extract
  • Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process on high until the ingredients are fully combined.
  • Transfer to a glass container and store in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks to add to brewed coffee or baked goods.

Recipe from Skinnyfitalicious

Raspberry Cranberry Relish

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Cranberry relish for the holidays is a tradition.  I’ve made cooked and raw cranberry sauce, but the addition of raspberries, is a nice change. Cranberry relish is great with the big meal but also great on a leftover turkey sandwich.

Wishing everyone a wonderful, safe, healthy Thanksgiving in this difficult 2020.  Let’s take the time to count our many blessings, thank our medical and essential workers, hug (virtual and real) those we love, help those in need, take care of ourselves, and breathe!

Check out other family Thanksgiving recipes!

RASPBERRY CRANBERRY RELISH

1 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • In a saucepan, combine ALL ingredients.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • After 10 minutes, mash up berries using a potato masher or fork or something to mash up the berries. You can mash up all the berries, some, or none, depending on how chunky you like your cranberry sauce.
  • Once mashed cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Allow mixture to cool completely.
  • Serve Chilled.
  • Store in an air tight container up to 5 days.

    Recipe by:  Sheena at Hot Eats Cool Reads

    tick(‘lb’)

    tick(‘lb’)

    Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

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    Breakfast oatmeal in a bar or cake form is my favorite.  Most of this year I’ve been eating my Breakfast Oatmeal Bars, but a favorite fall flavor of pumpkin and maple is calling my name.  Daughter, Megan, told me about these bars and made a batch for me a few weeks ago.  They are absolutely delicious and the original recipe was posted by IowaGirlEats,  a website my girls and I love!

    Since I didn’t have Pumpkin Spice, I made my own from a recipe on Taste of Home.

    I like my breakfast bar with a dollop of Greek yogurt and fresh fruit on the side with hot coffee! It doesn’t hurt to warm the Breakfast Bar for a few seconds in the microwave, either.  Healthy and delicious breakfast!

    Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

    2-1/2 cups gluten-free old fashioned oats, divided
    1 cup milk, any kind (I used unsweetened almond milk)
    1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
    1/2 cup pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
    1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
    1 egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    2 Tablespoons chia seeds
    1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/3 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped (optional)

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees then spray an 8×8″ baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
    • Add 1 cup old fashioned oats to a food processor or blender then process until oats have turned into flour. Set aside. (Alternatively you could use a scant cup oat flour.)
    • Add milk, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, coconut oil, egg, and vanilla to a large bowl then whisk to combine. Add remaining 1-1/2 cups oats, oat flour, chia seeds, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt then stir to combine. Fold in chopped pecans then pour batter into prepared baking pan.
    • Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the center has set. Check on the bars at the 25 minute mark – if the edges are browning too quickly, place a piece of foil on top of the baking pan. Cool before slicing into bars then store in the refrigerator, or individually wrap bars in saran wrap and freeze.

    Recipe from Iowa Girl Eats

    Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Bars