Archive for 'Food & Drink'

Holiday Sangria

A house full of family for Thanksgiving week meant afternoon puzzles and evening card games. And maybe a little sangria. Maybe enough sangria to enjoy for a second night. The recipe said to make it and put in the refrigerator overnight. Jessica mixed i…

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There Is Still Time To Bake

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

I’m baking this morning. A pumpkin pie for tomorrow. And I nearly panicked when the recipe was not here on the blog. And it wasn’t in the family cookbook that we use all the time. That book is so well loved that everyone’s copy is falling apart. Then I remembered the original place I kept my favorite recipes. It was a blank book with a red plaid cover. My mother gave me the book for Christmas a zillion years ago with no particular purpose in mind.

And back in 1979, it became my recipe book. Yes, I dated the recipes as I added them and made notes about where I served a recipe, and if it was part of a meal, I even listed the guests in attendance. I do similar things here on the blog now. But nothing will take the place of this tattered little red book. It’s nearly a history of my life—the early edition.

Anyway, to keep things where I search for them now, I’m adding my pumpkin pie recipe to the blog. This pie is very close to the classic one on the pumpkin can label. But I adjusted the spices years ago and added a little flour to give the filling more body.

Oven ready.

If you have the ingredients on hand, you’ve got time to do this pie for Thanksgiving. It’s super easy. Just stir it all together. I used a refrigerated pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate.

THANKSGIVING PUMPKIN PIE

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 15-oz can of pumpkin (NOT the pie filling kind)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
12-oz can evaporated milk
9-inch deep dish pie shell

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix filling ingredients in order listed. Pour into pie shell. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for about 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

I find it helpful to measure out the spices before I start the rest of the mixing. And I stir together the spices with the sugar and flour before adding to the pumpkin/egg mixture. (That was a good job for my helper #1.) Seems to me that everything is easier to blend that way.

My helpers

Good luck with your Thanksgiving cooking if you are doing it this year. If something doesn’t work out right (and I’ve already had that happen) just move on the the next thing. Either no one will remember, or it will be the story that everyone loves to tell from year to year. It works out either way.

UPDATE:  Mercy, I’m trying to do too much. This pie recipe was posted here last year. But without photos. Surely next year I can find it on one of these two blog posts!

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Cold Rain. Warm Food.

The weather is just strange this year. We had the “endless summer” and then someone flipped the switch to “cold rain.” Inches and inches of rain. And the cold…while we are still waiting on a new furnace.
Our dinner-with-TV group didn’t let that stop anything. We just took appropriate measures—rain jackets, careful driving—and we all arrived safely. With food. It was my turn to bring the main dish. And this kind of night called for something that warmed us up. Chili and cornbread sounded good to me. So I made a double batch of turkey pumpkin chili. Turkey? Pumpkin? These friends were all curious when I told them what I was bringing. 
I promise no one would know it has pumpkin in it unless you tell them. It’s a rich, thick chili with a mild flavor. It is the easiest chili I’ve made. The hands-on part is only browning the meat and chopping the onion. The rest is just stirred together. And then it cooks in a slow cooker or on the stovetop. That’s it. 
It’s the recipe that Mommy discovered years ago and it has become her standard Halloween night supper. I made it at her house a couple of weeks ago when my visit there included Halloween festivities. I’ve made it several times myself but as it often happens, I had forgotten about this recipe. It was last posted here in 2011. I’m happy it’s moved back up in the recipe rotation.

I made one recipe in the crockpot and looked at it and decided that maybe that wasn’t enough. So later in the day I went back to the store. Bought more turkey, beans and pumpkin and made a second batch on the stovetop. Then stirred them together. The part that didn’t fit in the pot went into the freezer for later.

TURKEY, WHITE BEAN, PUMPKIN CHILI
2 lb. ground turkey 
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic (I use the jar kind)
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder (more or less, to taste)
1 teaspoon oregano
2 bay leaves
1 (15-oz) can pumpkin puree (not the pie filling kind)
2 (15-oz) can great northern beans, rinsed & drained
1 (4-1/2 oz) can chopped green chiles
2 cups chicken broth (sometimes I add a little more)

Optional toppings: sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, minced cilantro, etc.

Heat large skillet over high heat. Add turkey and cook, breaking it apart, until done, about 5 minutes. Add to Crockpot. Add oil to skillet, then onions and garlic. Saute about 3-4 minutes. Add cumin and saute another minute. Add to Crockpot.

Add beans, pumpkin puree, green chiles, chili powder, oregano, salt and bay leaves. Stir to mix. Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.  Remove bay leaves before serving.

If you want to skip the Crockpot, make it in a large pot on the stovetop. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for about an hour or so, stirring occasionally.

And a bowl of chili needs warm cornbread to go with it. I like all cornbread and corn muffins. But this has to be my favorite recipe. 

CORNY CORNBREAD

1/2 cup vegetable oil (plus extra for greasing the pan)
1-3/4 cups self-rising cornmeal mix
1 cup cream-style corn 
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream (the light kind works just as well)
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease a 7×11-inch baking pan or a 10-inch cast iron skillet with cooking oil. Preheat the pan in the oven. 

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, stirring with a spoon until combined. Pour batter into the preheated pan. Place pan in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

You can also bake this in a muffin pan. I don’t preheat the muffin pan. Makes 12 muffins. Bake for about 25 minute, or until golden brown.

If you have leftover cornbread, wrap it well and pop it in the freezer for a busy day later. 


This weekly TV watching wasn’t intended to be a forever thing. But when we reached the end of A Place To Call Home, everyone wants to find a new show and keep the fun going. It’s been so nice to spend a comfortable evening with good friends nearly once a week. 



As we count our blessings while we prepare for Thanksgiving, let us say a prayer for the victims of the horrific fires in California, the people who are fighting those fires and those who are caring for the thousands of newly homeless people. 







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Slow Cooking, Fast Life

Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Here is a favorite slow cooker meal I haven’t made it in ages. But on Saturday I had a full day (I took a Christmas card calligraphy class) and knew I didn’t want to cook when I came home. Daddy-O was helping cook chicken stew at the fire department all morning. His only request for supper was “not chicken.” So beef, it was.

This recipe takes a little more prep than some of the other beef stews I’ve made—because it calls for coating the beef cubes in flour and browning them before adding to the slow cooker. Not hard, but it takes a few more minutes to prep and you’ve got one more pan to wash. BUT that step, combined with the herbs and seasonings, creates a delicious, rich gravy.

We ate this “as is.” Other times, I have served it over rice. And on Saturday I wished we had a nice crusty bread to go with it. But the stew is full of vegetables, so we called it complete.

It was awfully nice to walk into the house mid-afternoon and be greeted with the aroma of supper cooking. It was a perfect supper for a cold damp evening. Start it at breakfast time, so it’s ready for dinner.

SLOW COOKER BEEF STEW

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/2 to 2 lb. beef stew meat
2 tablespoons cooking oil (or more as needed)
2 medium potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks
2 or 3 carrots, peeled & cut into chunks 
1 onion, peeled & cut into chunks
2 teaspoons instant beef bouillon granules
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram or basil, crushed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
2-1/2 cups V-8 juice

Place flour in a plastic bag. Add meat cubes and shake until meat is coated with flour. In a Dutch oven brown half of meat in 1 tablespoon of oil, turning to brown on all sides. Brown remaining meat in remaining oil. Drain off any excess oil.

In a 3-1/2 to 4 quart Crockpot, layer potatoes, carrots and onion. Add meat. Add all seasoning. Pour vegetable juice over all.

Cover and cook on LOW for 10-12 hours (or on HIGH for 5-6 hours) until meat and vegetables are tender.  Discard bay leaf.

Because this needs an early start, you need to make sure you have everything ready in the morning. I set out everything I needed the night before. If I were a working mom, I would have even scrubbed the potatoes so they could be cut up quickly. The carrots and onion can be peeled and cut the night before. Just put everything in a freezer ziplock bag. (The heavier freezer bag keeps the onion smell in the bag—and not in your refrigerator.) You can measure out the herbs. And I’m sure if you really need to speed things up, you could skip the flour and brown the meat part. You just will have an “au jus” instead of a thicker gravy.

If you want something simpler, take a look at this recipe for Simple Beef Stew. No browning called for and it’s also very good.

The goal at the moment—my goal, at least—is to get from here to January with calm and goodwill intact. To keep at the front of my mind what is important and what can be chunked by the wayside. To remember why we celebrate.

But let’s be honest. This is a busy time of year. And it is also the time of year for colds and flu and other bugs that are more prevalent in the winter. When life and the to-do list starts to overwhelm you, have a plan. A minute of focusing on this view from my kitchen door helps me center and find my inner peace. How do you find peace? What do you do to restore calm? What is your “peace plan?” Do you have a 60-second secret? Let’s share here and all help each other.

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