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Showing posts with label Recipe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recipe. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Strawberry Jam Making Party!

I browse through the home and decorating magazines at Barnes and Noble and admire the elegant dinner parties featured.  I save boards full of lovely entertaining pins on Pinterest.  I love looking at the elegant table settings on Instagram and various blogs.  I sigh and think about how much fun it would be to host some of those parties for a dozen friends or more.  But then I look around at our lived-in farmhouse and know that at least for now, that just isn't going to happen.  So I have decided to start gathering people together here in a way that does match this century-old farmhouse and our little hobby farm and do some of the things most of our ancestors did here in the Appalachian Mountains 100 or more years ago...with a twist.

I decided to invite some school mom friends over for a dessert wine/liqueur-tasting and freezer jam making party.  While wild thunder storms raged outside our walls, we ladies were safe and dry inside sipping Moscato, mashing strawberries, and swapping school stories.

Freezer jam is super easy to make, and you can use any berries in season---or peaches if you add some lemon juice.

For a double batch, you just need to remove the stems of one and a half  pint-sized containers of  berries.  Then mash them with a potato masher.  They should be chunky.  This equals approximately 3 1/3 cups of mashed berries.

After that, all you need is 1 1/4 cups of sugar and 4 Tablespoons of instant pectin added in.  Stir for three minutes, and pour into your freezer containers.  Within thirty minutes, the jam is set. 

A double batch fills five half-pint containers.  You can store it in your refrigerator for three weeks or in your freezer for a year.  This just doesn't get any easier, and the jam is full of color and flavor and nothing like what you get in the grocery store.

Bringing friends together over some snacks, desserts, and wine or Stoli vanilla vodka makes this homemaking task fun, and before you know it, hours have passed by.  You get to share this amazing jam with your family, and they'll never know that it was so effortless and so much fun to make.

I do believe this will be an annual event at the Preppy Mountain Farmhouse.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Girl's First Communion Party

Our youngest child had her First Holy Communion this past weekend, so we threw a small party with family and friends afterwards.  I let our daughter choose the decorations, and Party City was the place to shop.  They had all kinds of decorations in pinks, blues, and gender neutral colors.  We got a package of 3 of these Chinese lanterns which we hung from chandeliers in the rooms downstairs and the hallway.

They sold various sizes of these plates and napkins, plus paper cups for the children.

Our daughter was especially keen on the hanging cardboard Communion cutouts with shiny pink metallic string which we hung from windows and door frames. 

I saw some beautiful white cupcakes on Pinterest arranged in the shape of a cross.  Party City had silver cross cupcake liners and pink cross cupcake toppers, along with the silver tray, pink candy sprinkles, and silver shimmering food color spray for the top of the icing.  Ours weren't as pretty as the ones on Pinterest, but they did turn out better than they look in this picture, and they were all gone by the next morning.

My older daughter and I had saved a number of food pins to make for this party until I sat down and faced the reality that there was no way I was going to have time to make all that food.  I was barely home last week to get laundry done and the dog fur swept up.  So I resigned myself to the typical lunch time fare of deli meat/cheese sandwiches, fruit & veggie trays with dips, barbecue meatballs in the crockpot, chips and more dips, mixed nuts for those of us trying to stay away from carbs, and more deviled eggs (because our hens are still giving us a dozen eggs/day.)

But I did make this pink party punch that I saw on Pinterest that some cool mom made for her daughter's Shopkins party.  I forgot to take any photos before the party and then I had my husband go around photographing when the more popular foods and drinks were nearly devoured.  This is so simple.

Pink Party Punch
Mix 2 liters of Sprite, 2 quarts of pink raspberry lemonade, and 2 quarts of cactus twist sorbet.  That's it!

Eleven children were at our house celebrating that afternoon, and they all looked so awesome.

But that only lasted for about five minutes because everyone eagerly changed into play clothes for some light saber/Nerf gun wars in the yard and pastures.  You can't see him in this photo, but there was an escaped billy goat out there in the midst of these battles, just minding his own business and chowing down on dandelions.

We all had a great time, but the day was bittersweet for me as we watched our last child take her First Holy Communion with parents holding fidgety babies and toddlers all around us, and it hit me that this is the first time I was there with my arms empty.  And this would be the final time we would be experiencing this special day with one of our children.

God Bless!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

So Many Cooks in the Kitchen

 Last evening my white farmhouse kitchen looked like we were preparing a stone soup for dinner.  Four generations of family members wandered in and out of the room, most staying to contribute something to a hearty chicken stew I was attempting to make for the first time.

Some were stirring the pot at the stove while others were retrieving ingredients (and wine) from the refrigerator and basement.

 Others were using their culinary skills to chop numerous vegetables and herbs while a few smaller family members stood by inspecting the progress.

Many of us took turns with the challenging task of keeping a certain eight month old happy and out of mischief.

Those with less experience in the kitchen were in charge of being the sommelier and making lively conversation. 

There were a couple of us in charge of adding diced ingredients to the pot when it was time.

While others just hung around looking handsome and waiting to be sent outside to gather eggs and feed the livestock.

As for me, I was the photographer, of course.  I was all prepared to make the entire dinner myself, as I do most of the time.  It was a pleasant reprieve to simply be the one overseeing it all and delegating various tasks to everyone else.  In the midst of the organized chaos, though, I forgot to take any pictures of the finished product, which got an excellent rating from almost every family member.  All I've got is the image in the cookbook above.  There weren't even any leftovers to heat up and photograph today.  I'll conclude by saying that the phrase "There are too many cooks in the kitchen" just didn't apply.  Each of the eleven family members who were present contributed something and turned out to be the perfect number for making this stew.

Adapted from the Cooking Light: Top-Rated Recipes special edition:
Chicken, Apple, & Butternut Stew (p. 56)

Peel & cube a butternut squash, and peel and dice a bunch of parsnips, and set aside.

Cut up 2 pounds of boneless chicken thighs into bite-size pieces and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt & 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Put 1 Tbsp. olive oil into a large pot and heat over medium heat.  Add half the chicken and saute until browned.  Repeat with remaining chicken, then remove to a plate or bowl.
Chop 2 onions & 3 Tbsp. fresh sage.  Add another Tbsp. olive oil to pot and add the onion, sage, and 2 tsp. dried ginger.  Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the cubed squash and the diced parsnips.  Cook another 2 minutes.  Sprinkle the vegetables with 5 Tbsp. of flour.  Cook 1 minute, stirring to prevent sticking.

Stir in 3 cups apple cider and 3 cups of unsalted chicken stock.  Stir in the cooked chicken, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper.  Bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.

Peel and chop 3-4 cups of Granny Smith apples.  After the stew has simmered for 25 minutes, add the apples and cook for another 10 minutes.

* I probably added a bit more salt and pepper to this.  I didn't actually measure it.  We also wanted to make the stew thicker, so after adding the cider and stock, I dissolved 1 Tbsp. of corn starch in 1/4 cup of water and stirred that in.  There was so much talk and activity going on that it's a really good thing that I wasn't making this myself because it would have taken me hours to concentrate and get all the prep work done.  It was definitely more fun to read the recipe aloud, sip some wine, take some pictures, and hold our grandson.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Taste of Summer

For the past month or so, I've continued trying out several new recipes weekly for our family dinners.  The above dish went over especially well with all family members, and it reminded us of summer.  Coincidentally, we had this during a particularly warm February day when the temperatures soared into the upper seventies, and we were able to pretend that we had fast forwarded to early June.  I modified this recipe because there were no fresh peaches in the grocery store, and I didn't have sherry vinegar on my kitchen shelves.  This is from the Cooking Light: Top Rated Recipes book that I've been using this year.

BBQ Chicken with Peach (or Mango) Feta Slaw, p. 16
Combine 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 Tbsp. white wine, 1 Tbsp. vinegar, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk (I used a fork.)  Add 2 sliced mangoes and a pkg. broccoli slaw.  Toss gently to coat. 
Sprinkle 3 boneless chicken breast strips with 1/4 tsp. pepper and 1/8 tsp. salt.  Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high.  Add chicken to pan and cook 6 minutes or until done.  Place chicken in a large bowl and add 1/4 cup barbecue sauce; toss to coat.
Divide slaw mixture among 4 plates.  Top evenly with the chicken strips.  Sprinkle with crumbled bacon, crumbled feta cheese, and chopped fresh chives. 

Over the past few weeks, we have also tried:
Chicken Yakitori with my lo-mein
Mini Bbq meatloaves and Roasted Broccoli
Dilly Salmon Packets with Asparagus
Pork Chops with Apples and Brussels Sprouts
Hamburger Steaks with Sweet Onion Mushrooms
Wild Mushroom Farfalle with Braised Balsamic Endive & Radicchio

The children liked all of those recipes except for the salmon and the endive/radicchio side dish.  I have no clue how anyone eats radicchio.  I put a heaping serving of it on my plate and was excited to try something new, but that was so incredibly bitter.  None of us ate it, so it went to the goats and sheep.  This evening we're having Hungarian Beef Stew.

This can be found at Amazon.

For these recipes and more, check out the above Special Edition of Cooking Light.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Secret Kiss Cookies

My plan this weekend was to start my holiday baking with my traditional peanut butter kiss cookies, but I discovered that I was out of shortening.  So I skimmed through one of my seriously used cookbooks from my childhood, Favorite Brand Name Recipe Cookbook, and decided to try these cookies for the first time.   Wow.  They were a huge hit and were one of the easiest cookies to make.

Secret Kiss Cookies
Cream 2 sticks softened butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Gradually add 2 cups flour and beat until blended.  Chill dough for about an hour or until firm.  Mold a tablespoonful of dough around an unwrapped Hershey's kiss and roll into a ball.  Make sure the entire kiss is covered.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 12-16 minutes.  The cookies should be set, but not brown.  Cool slightly and coat with powdered sugar.

This is one cookie that is actually better after it's cooled completely.  I experimented with a variety of the holiday kisses.  The cherry cordial kisses melted and oozed out onto the cookie sheet, so those weren't the best choice.  But the mint truffle kisses were fantastic.  They gave the cookie just the right amount of chocolate and mint, and a day later when the cookies were cool, they looked awesome when you bit into them.

With only 5 ingredients (plus the Hershey's Kisses) and minimal time and effort required, this cookie recipe is definitely a keeper.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Gathered Together After a Turkey Trot

Wow.  It feels like forever since my last post.  I hope every one of you American readers had a marvelous Thanksgiving.  Ours was filled with family time, drizzly weather, and good food and wine.

Our cool, rainy Thursday morning began with six members of our family headed off to an annual turkey trot.  Two of our sons ran this 5K, two people volunteered as course marshals, and two were bystanders who cheered the runners on.  This was the first race ever for our ten year old who has boundless energy and can literally run circles around me any day.  Our older son hung near him through the race, and both crossed the finish line within seconds of each other with quite a bit of energy left.  They finished in the top half of the 234 runners, which wasn't bad for two amateurs who really don't train for these things, and the entry fees went to non-profit organizations.

When they all returned, cold and damp from the November rain, I had the turkey roasting in the oven and appetizers/light lunch on the table.

I cheated this year and picked up most of the appetizers from the deli and bakery sections of the supermarket.  The cherry cordial Hershey's Kisses were the favorite new item of the morning.

Our traditional Thanksgiving dinner was scheduled to be held at 3 PM, but as usual, we didn't sit down to eat until a bit later.

That was because we were waiting on these two casseroles to finish baking.  I always need to double the recipes, and the vegetable dishes always seem to need more time to set up than I predict.  The sweet potato casserole on the right is the one I make every year, along with millions of other Americans, I'm sure.  This year I made a corn casserole instead of green bean casserole, which pleased my children tremendously.  There were a lot of these recipes on Pinterest, but the one I used can be found here at The only change I made was doubling the recipe, and I had to nearly double the bake time.

My little ones were standing close by, salivating and very eager for the dinner bell to ring.

Hubby did the traditional turkey carving, with the assistance of his dad, while I performed all those last minute tasks with the help of my mother-in-law and teenage daughter.  

But in the end, it all came together seamlessly, and we gave thanks and began eating around 3:30.  It looked like we had enough food to feed us all for a week, but as it turned out, everything was gone within two days.

After dinner and kitchen cleanup, there were Christmas movies, games of Phase 10, pumpkin pie and dessert wine, and just more family time in general.

My day was complete after getting to hold this sweet baby boy in my arms while he slept peacefully amidst all the ruckus around him.

And for all these things, I am thankful.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Easy Pumpkin Cobbler

October is the month I pull out the pumpkin recipes, and this is one my children beg for.  It's really simple and easy to make, and it's delicious warm or cold.

Pumpkin Cobbler
Mix 28 oz. canned pumpkin, 1 large can evaporated milk, 1 cup sugar, 3 eggs, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ginger, 1 tsp. ground cloves, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a mixing bowl.  Pour into a greased rectangular cake pan.  Spread 1 boxed yellow cake mix on on top of all the ingredients.  Dot some butter on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.  And that's it.

This is great the way it is, or you can put a dollop of whipped cream on top of each serving.

Wishing you Readers a Halloween weekend full of pumpkin treats and, hopefully, no tricks!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Using Up Your Zucchini in a Chocolate Cake

We finally used up all but one of our zucchini squash today.  My mother-in-law sent me a recipe over a month ago for chocolate zucchini cake, and my daughter and I took some time this morning to try it out.

All you need are a boxed chocolate cake mix, an instant chocolate pudding mix, and 3 cups of shredded raw zucchini.

Once you get that mixed up, you just pour it in your floured/greased cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes.

Once the cake has cooled sufficiently, and you are ready to frost it, simply whisk together a can of chocolate frosting and a container of cool whip.

The end result is this slightly-flatter-than-normal moist chocolate cake with a chocolate whipped frosting.  I had to add a few green and pink confetti candies to mine since I'm feeling especially preppy these days.  Can't wait to taste it after dinner tonight.

For the full recipe and a prettier picture, go to:

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Delicious Peach Custard Pie

We've been buying up peaches at the local farmers' markets, and last week I made one of my favorite peach desserts: Peach Custard Pie.

Pie Crust:

Stir together 1 1/4 cups unbleached white flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Cut in 1/3 cup softened butter until the dough is in little crumbly balls.  Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon cold water in at a time and toss with a fork (do 4 times for a total of 4 Tablespoons of water.)  Form the dough into a ball.

Generously coat your counter top and rolling pin with flour and drop your dough ball onto the counter.  Start rolling from the center of the dough out toward the edges.

Keep rolling until your dough is approximately 12 inches in diameter (or will cover the bottom and sides of your pie plate.)  I always have plenty of volunteers who want to help with this job.  Too bad they scatter when it's time to do the cleanup.

Carefully drape the crust over your rolling pin, and gently unroll it into the pie plate.  Then trim and "flute" the edges.  Any dough left makes a great "dough cake."  We didn't have enough for that, however, so some of us had a taste of raw dough.

Peach Custard Pie Filling

Peel and slice enough peaches to fill your pie shell.  I think I used 6-8 average sized peaches this time.  In a bowl, mix 1 Tablespoon flour with 1 cup sugar.  Add 3 beaten eggs and stir.  Pour this mixture over the peaches in the pie pan.

Sprinkle cinnamon over the top and dot with a little bit of butter.  Bake for 10 minutes in a 450 degree oven.  Then reduce the heat to 350, and bake for approximately 30 more minutes, or until it is no longer jiggly and a knife comes out clean.  (This might be closer to 40 minutes; I can't remember.)

Out of the oven comes this fabulous tasting pie, and your entire kitchen will smell of cinnamon and peaches.  Good enough for dessert, and I contend it's healthy enough for breakfast!