Cookies and Bars · Family · Family Favorites

Dan’s Oatmeal Cookies

Dan sent the recipe for these delicious cookies to daughter, Megan, and we loved them! They are chewy and ‘healthy’ or so we told ourselves. It’s wonderful to share our recipes with family and friends! Thanks, Dan!

Dan’s Oatmeal Cookies

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 pound margarine
  • 2 cups brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 cups uncooked oatmeal
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 8 oz. walnuts (optional)
  • 6 oz. dried cranberries or cherries (optional)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cream margarine and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture.
  4. Drop cookies onto cookie sheets and bake until golden brown.

Recipe shared by Dan Stout, a family favorite

Family · Family Favorites · Garden · Home · Soups and Stews · Vegetarian

Roasted Tomato Soup

Campbell’s Tomato Soup and grilled cheese were common in our house when the girls were growing up. Now that I’ve discovered homemade tomato soup, the canned stuff is out the door. I roast tomatoes all summer and freeze them for soup and sauces in the winter. The tomatoes I had frozen did not have garlic and onion in them, so I sautéed the onion in a little olive oil and added the garlic when the onions were brown. The end result was delicious. The soup was a little thick, so I added water to gain the consistency I like.

The perfect lunch or dinner for a snowy winter day!

Roasted Tomato Soup

INGREDIENTS:
  • 3 lb. Roma Tomatoes (I used a variety of tomatoes from my garden)
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup milk or cream (I used Half and Half)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil (I used pureed frozen basil)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Water or milk to thin the soup to your liking
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cut tomatoes in half, drizzle with oil. Add onions, garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 40-50 minutes, until the tomatoes start to brown. (At this point you can freeze the tomato mixture for later or proceed with the recipe.)
  4. Scrape the tomato mixture into the blender and add the milk or cream, Parmesan cheese, basil, tomato paste, and sugar. Puree until completely smooth and adjust seasonings to taste.
  5. Serve immediately with grilled cheese for dunking. Yum!

Recipe adapted from thereciperebel.com

https://www.thereciperebel.com/easy-roasted-tomato-soup-and-a-giveaway/

Desserts · Family · Family Favorites · Holidays

Chocolate Mousse by Megan

Megan is the dessert queen of our family.  She whipped up this decadent dessert and served it in an antique compote dish of my Mother’s.  It was rich, velvety and so wonderful.  Perfect for your Valentine’s Day dinner…or anytime you want to spoil your family and friends.

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

6 ounces (170 g) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tablespoons (89 g) unsalted butter, cubed
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
Sweetened whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and fresh strawberries for garnish, optional

  • In a small heatproof bow, combine the chocolate and butter. Set the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir constantly until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat but leave the pot of simmering water on the burner.
  • In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until well combined. Set the bowl over the pot of barely simmering water and whisk for about 5 minutes, until the mixture turns pale and becomes slightly stiff. Remove from heat.
  • Stir in the vanilla followed by the chocolate mixture. Stir for a few more minutes to allow the mixture to cool then set aside until it cools to room temperature.
  • In a large bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Whisk 1/4 of the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate mixture. Use a silicone spatula to gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until fully mixed in.
  • Divide the mousse among four 6-ounce ramekins and refrigerate until set, about 1 hours.
  • Garnish with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, raspberries, or strawberries if desired.

HOMEMADE WHIPPED CREAM

1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

  • In a medium bowl, whip cream with an electric mixer on medium-low speed just until soft peaks form.
  • Add vanilla extract and sugar. Continue to whip until the cream forms stiff peaks. Make sure not to over beat, the cream will become lumpy and butter-like.

Recipe from bakedbyanintrovert.com

Cookies and Bars · Family · Holidays

Valentine’s Day Cookies

Valentine’s Day brings back memories of making Valentine’s Day cards, making and eating sweet treats, and enjoying wonderful dinners with those I love. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be an expensive, extravagant day.  It’s really about being with or talking to those you love.  I often express my love through cooking, as my Mother did.

These colorful cookies were fun to make, to share and to eat.  Share a batch with those you love and enjoy the day!

VALENTINE’S DAY M&M COOKIES

Appetizers · Family · Family Favorites · Holidays

January 19 – National Popcorn Day

Who knew there was a National Holiday for Popcorn? I am a popcorn fan from way back. I generally take mine with real butter and salt along with a great movie. Although, I would never turn down a bag of kettle corn at the farmer’s market!  I’ve been known to make myself a popcorn birthday cake, too!

Whenever I travel back to Iowa, you can always find a bag or two of local popcorn in my luggage for the trip home.

Researching the history of popcorn, I found popcorn.org to be a great resource of the history and recipes:

Popcorn Dates Back Thousands of Years

Biblical accounts of “corn” stored in the pyramids of Egypt are misunderstood. The “corn” from the bible was probably barley. The mistake comes from a changed use of the word “corn,” which used to signify the most-used grain of a specific place. In England, “corn” was wheat, and in Scotland and Ireland the word referred to oats. Since maize was the common American “corn,” it took that name – and keeps it today.

It is believed that the first use of wild and early cultivated corn was popping. The oldest ears of popcorn ever found were discovered in the Bat Cave of west central New Mexico in 1948 and 1950. Ranging from smaller than a penny to about 2 inches, the oldest Bat Cave ears are about 4,000 years old.

Popcorn in the New World

Popcorn was integral to early 16th century Aztec Indian ceremonies. Bernardino de Sahagun writes: “And also a number of young women danced, having so vowed, a popcorn dance. As thick as tassels of maize were their popcorn garlands. And these they placed upon (the girls’) heads.” In 1519, Cortes got his first sight of popcorn when he invaded Mexico and came into contact with the Aztecs. Popcorn was an important food for the Aztec Indians, who also used popcorn as decoration for ceremonial headdresses, necklaces and ornaments on statues of their gods, including Tlaloc, the god of rain and fertility.

An early Spanish account of a ceremony honoring the Aztec gods who watched over fishermen reads: “They scattered before him parched corn, called momochitl, a kind of corn which bursts when parched and discloses its contents and makes itself look like a very white flower; they said these were hailstones given to the god of water.”

Writing of Peruvian Indians in 1650, the Spaniard Cobo says, “They toast a certain kind of corn until it bursts. They call it pisancalla, and they use it as a confection.”

In South America, kernels of popcorn found in burial grounds in the coastal deserts of North Chile were so well preserved they would still pop even though they were 1,000 years old.

Recent History

The use of the moldboard plow became commonplace in the mid-1800s and led to the widespread planting of maize in the United States.

Breakfast Food

Although popcorn is typically thought of as a snack food today, popcorn was once a popular breakfast food. Ahead of its time and very likely a role model for breakfast cereals to come, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, popcorn was eaten just as we eat cereal today.

Long before the advent of the corn flake, Ella Kellogg enjoyed her popcorn ground with milk or cream. Although she discouraged in-between meal snacking, she urged others to eat popcorn at meals as popcorn was “an excellent food.” Ella understood, as her husband did, that popcorn was a whole grain. John Harvey Kellogg praised popcorn as being “easily digestible and to the highest degree wholesome, presenting the grain in its entirety, and hence superior to many denatured breakfast foods which are found in the market.”

The Great Depression

Popcorn was very popular from the 1890s until the Great Depression. Street vendors used to follow crowds around, pushing steam or gas-powered poppers through fairs, parks and expositions.

During the Depression, popcorn at 5 or 10 cents a bag was one of the few luxuries down-and-out families could afford. While other businesses failed, the popcorn business thrived. An Oklahoma banker who went broke when his bank failed bought a popcorn machine and started a business in a small store near a theater. After a couple years, his popcorn business made enough money to buy back three of the farms he’d lost.

Popcorn and the Movies

Unlike other confections, popcorn sales increased throughout the Depression. A major reason for this increase was the introduction of popcorn into movie theaters and its low cost for both patron and owner. One theater owner actually lowered the price of his theater tickets and added a popcorn machine. He soon saw huge profits.

The “talking picture” solidified the presence of movie theaters in the U.S. in the late 1920’s. Many theater owners refused to sell popcorn in their theaters because they felt it was too messy. Industrious vendors set up popcorn poppers or rented storefront space next to theaters and sold popcorn to patrons on their way into the theater. Eventually, theater owners began installing popcorn poppers inside their theaters; those who refused to sell popcorn quickly went out of business.

Popcorn sales increase throughout the Depression. A major reason for this increase was the introduction of popcorn into movie theatres.

World War II

During World War II, sugar was sent overseas for U.S. troops, which meant there wasn’t much sugar left in the United States to make candy. Thanks to this unusual situation, Americans ate three times as much popcorn as usual.

Slump and Bump

Popcorn went into a slump during the early 1950s, when television became popular. Attendance at movie theaters dropped and with it, popcorn consumption. When the public began eating popcorn at home, the new relationship between television and popcorn led to a resurgence in popularity.

Today

Whether stovetop popped, fresh from the microwave or ready to eat, Americans love popcorn. In fact, Americans today consume 15 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year. That averages to about 47 quarts per person.

Americans today consume 15 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year.

 

 

Casseroles · Family · Family Favorites · Gluten Free · Vegetables · Vegetarian

Irish Potato Casserole

Irish Potato Casserole is a favorite recipe shared with me by my sister-in-law, Betty, many years ago. I have served it often as a side with Prime Rib or with Baked Ham with many compliments. This is a wonderful potato dish that you can prepare the day before and have ready for the oven before your guests arrive. Over the years, I’ve substituted low-fat cream cheese and sour cream with equally good results. It’s a winner, winner chicken dinner kind of recipe!

I’ve shared a photo of the casserole before baking.  Every time I make this, I am in such a hurry to serve the meal, that I forget to take a picture after.  The after picture would be very similar but with a browned top….never said I was a professional blogger!

This Christmas we will again, have the Irish Potato Casserole with Prime Rib and other family favorites!

IRISH POTATO CASSEROLE

8 to 10 medium potatoes, peeled
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces sour cream
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt paprika

  • Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain and mash.
  • Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add potatoes and all other ingredients (except paprika) and beat until well combined.
  • Spoon into lightly buttered casserole and sprinkle with paprika.
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before baking. Uncover and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Family · Garden · New Favorite · Salads

Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad

Cakes · Family · New Traditions

Fresh Peach Cake

Fresh Peach Cake is delicious, even though the photo of the finished product is not.  I was disappointed by the appearance of the finished product, but the taste was delicious.

Next time, I would use a slightly bigger pan, since the batter cooked over the side.  However, a few crispy bites of dessert are equally good!

FRESH PEACH CAKE

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup chopped pecans

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch-square baking pan.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar for 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, then the sour cream and vanilla, and mix until the batter is smooth.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until combined.
  • In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon.
  • Spread half of the batter evenly in the pan. Top with half of the peaches, then sprinkle with two-thirds of the sugar mixture. Spread the remaining batter on top, arrange the remaining peaches on top and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture and the pecans.

  • Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Czech Heritage and Dishes · Family · Sandwiches

Chlebíčky — Czech Open Faced Sandwiches

Chlebíčky are open-faced sandwiches served in the Czech Republic.  The sandwiches include meat, cheese and vegetables and are meant to be eaten in a few small bites.  Think of them as an appetizer, often served with wine or beer.

Czech hospitality is like a warm hug from your Babicka, or Grandma.  While visiting the Czech Republic and visiting my ancestors villages, we were almost always asked to enter their home and enjoy a treat, be it Chlebíčky, pastry, dandelion tea, or even a little sip (or two) of Slivovice.

Our Colorado Czech/Slovak/Rusyn Genealogy Group used to gather once a quarter (before COVID), often sharing Czech treats.  I made Chlebíčky for one of our potlucks, using recipes from Czechcookbook.com.  They are easy to make and you can customize the ingredients to your liking. I’ve included links at the bottom to the recipes as well as a link to more information on the history of these delightful bites!

Chlebíčky

Czech Spread (vlašský salát) (Recipe follows)
thinly sliced ham
thinly sliced cheese (baby swiss)
hardboiled eggs, sliced
dill pickles, sliced
bell peppers, cut into strips
french bread
cheese for grating

Czech Spread – Vlašský salát

3 small potatoes (13 oz.)
10 mini carrots or 2 medium (4-5oz)
2 pickles (preferably dill pickles)
1 tsp pickle juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated sugar
little bit pepper
1 Tbsp.  yellow mustard
1/3 cup canned peas
4 oz. bologna or ham
1 cup mayo

http://www.czechcookbook.com/czech-spread-vlassky-salat/

Open-Faced Sandwiches – Chlebíčky

https://www.196flavors.com/czech-republic-oblozene-chlebicky/

Family · Meats · Mexican Dishes · New Favorite

Crock Pot Carnitas

Pork Carnitas are a favorite while dining at local Mexican restaurants.  This recipe, made in the Crock Pot, made the work easy.  I chose to skip the final step in the recipe and it was delicious.  If you love the crispy pork, go for it.  The pork is great in tacos, burritos, bowls, nachos….your choice!

CROCK POT CARNITAS

2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (or 2 1/2 pounds bone-in)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and ribs removed, chopped
1 orange, cut in half
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • Rinse and dry the pork shoulder. Salt and pepper liberally. Mix the oregano and the cumin with olive oil and rub all over pork.
  • Place the pork in a slow cooker and top with the onion, garlic, and jalapeno.
  • Squeeze over the juice of the orange and add the two halves. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high 4 hours.
  • Once the meat is tender, remove from slow cooker and let cool slightly before pulling apart with a fork.
  • In a large sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Press the carnitas into the oil and fry until crusty on one side. Serve.  (I skipped this step)

Recipe from FoodNetwork