Friday, November 28, 2008

Pear Crisp

This is a great dessert to prepare if you have canned alot of pears this past summer. I have 48 jars of pears sitting in the pantry waiting to be eaten and I used 3 jars for this dessert. It was very tasty and unlike most pears, this dessert did not taste grainy like pears texture can get. It was very refreshing heated up with vanilla ice cream and would make a great winter dessert to warm a person up. Here is the recipe:

Pear Crisp

5 cups sliced pears
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup regular rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger
1/4 cup butter (margarine will work, but butter tastes better)
1/4 cup chopped nuts or coconut

Place fruit (undrained) in a round baking dish, stir in sugar. For topping, mix together oats, brown sugar, flour, and spice of choice. Cut in butter (or margarine) till mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts or coconut. Sprinkle topping over filling. Bake in 375 oven for 30-35 minutes or till fruit is tender and topping is golden brown.

Serving Suggestions:
- Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or light cream (such as half and half).

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Not Your Normal Grilled Cheese Sandwich

This is not your normal grilled cheese sandwich, it is different but it tastes very good. I have had people say I was crazy to put Havarti cheese with strawberry jam but trust me... it is yummy! We first saw this on TV a couple years ago and we have been eating them since. We saw it on Ham On The Street from Food Network, when that show was still on, I do not know what happened to that show, we thought it was good. Just try this sandwich one time, it is addicting. You have to use regular Havarti cheese because any flavored Havarti is not good. Try one out and let me know what you think. (ignore the cut in one of the halves in the picture, I thought I was cutting it into fourths for my youngest daughter until she told me she wanted her own sandwich LOL)

Not Your Normal Grilled Cheese Sandwich

2 slices bread (sourdough or french work best we think)
2 slices deli style Havarti Cheese
Strawberry Jam

Butter the pieces of bread and lay them face down on a griddle. Add one slice of cheese then the jam and then one more slice of cheese. Put the sandwich together and grill at about 375 degrees until golden brown. Enjoy!

- Sourdough or French breads work well, you can use any kind of bread
- I used my own homemade strawberry freezer jam, but raspberry also works good.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

You cannot have Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes and gravy, although history says that the first pilgrims did not have mashed potatoes and gravy for their first Thanksgiving; it has become a mainstay of this holiday through time. In my opinion, my mashed potatoes are top notch, they come out perfect every time without lumps and they are very creamy and go great with the gravy from the turkey drippings. My potatoes are very easy to make and the hardest thing you will do is peel the potatoes. So here is the recipe:

My Perfect Mashed Potatoes

10 russett potatoes, peeled and halved
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1/2 stick of butter (not margarine, have to use real butter, unsalted is preferred)
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes for about 30-40 minutes or until they are fork tender. Drain. Combine potatoes, sour cream, milk, and butter and mix with electric mixer until creamy. Add additional milk to get the consistency you want. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with gravy.

Turkey Gravy

drippings from turkey
1 can chicken broth
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup water mixed with 1/8 cup cornstarch
Salt and pepper to taste

Skim off fat from turkey drippings. Put in saucepan with chicken broth, butter, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Gradually add the cornstarch mixture and cook and stir until thickened. Serve with mashed potatoes.

- If you use salted butter in potatoes or gravy, omit extra salt.
- You can strain the turkey drippings to remove the crusty parts of drippings for a smoother gravy. I do not do this as the crusty goodness (as I call it) makes for better flavor and it tastes good too. But if you like smooth gravy, strain the drippings before skimming off any fat or oil from the turkey.
- Butter rather than margarine makes for a better flavor potatoes and gravy.
- You can add 1/4 cup white wine to gravy to make a nice flavor also.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

My Homemade Rolls

Just in case you didn't know... there is nothing better to go with turkey and the trimmings than homemade rolls to soak up all that gravy that goes over everything (well at least I put gravy over everything, but that is my own preference). And, contrary to popular belief, rolls are not hard to make at all, they just take time. If you have the time, then homemade rolls are the way to go, rather than store bought. They are more economical and taste better. Rather than spending $3 for a package of rolls at the store, I can make 24 rolls for just pennies a roll with the ingredients I already store in my kitchen on a regular basis. Here is how you do it (this is what my grandmother had done for years, so I am not totally sure where the recipe came from, but it is pretty easy):

My Homemade Rolls

4 1/4 to 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 pkg of active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening, margarine, or butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs

Combine 2 cups of the flour and the yeast. Heat and stir milk, sugar, shortening/margarine/or butter, and salt just till warm (120-130 degrees) and shortening/margarine/or butter almost melts. Add to flour mixture along with eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can. (I recommend using an electric stand mixer with dough hooks or electric hand mixer with dough hooks to make mixing easier).

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6-8 minutes total). Shape dough into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl; turn once to grease surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 hour)

Punch dough down. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Shape dough into desired rolls (I will show how to do cloverleaf and rosette rolls below) Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double (about 30 minutes)

Bake in 375 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or till golden brown. Makes 24-32 rolls.

To make cloverleaf rolls:
- grease 24 muffin cups. Divide the dough into 3 small balls per muffin cup. Place 3 little balls in each muffin cup. For fast cloverleafs, you can make a larger ball for each muffin cup then snip the top in a criss cross fashion on top and they turn into cloverleafs.

To make rosette rolls:
- Lightly grease cookie sheets. On a lightly floured surface, make 24 thin 12 inch ropes. Tie in a loose knot, leaving 2 long ends. Tuck top end under roll, bring bottom end up and tuck into center of roll. Place 2-3 inches apart on cookie sheet.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pistachio Fluff

This is an unusual recipe that tastes so yummy. We have this in place of traditional fruit salad with our Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner. I make individual serving bowls of this and garnish it with pineapple and chopped pistachio nuts on top. It is very easy to make and it just tastes good! I call it fluff because it does have a fluffy texture and makes a nice addition next to the cranberries or cranberry mousse at dinner.

(sorry about the grainy photo, I do not have the best camera but I am saving for a new camera that takes better pictures)

Pistachio Fluff

1 Pkg pistachio pudding mix
1 8oz tub of whipped topping
1 small can of crushed pineapple (reserving some for garnish)
1 c. miniature marshmallows
1/4 c. chopped pistachio nuts (reserving some for garnish)

Combine and pudding mix powder with the whipped topping. Drain pineapple. Add pineapple with marshmallows and nuts. Combine thoroughly. Chill until ready to serve. Fill custard cups or small bowls with the fluff and garnish with pineapple and chopped nuts before serving.

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Pumpkin Pie

You cannot have Thanksgiving dinner without the dessert... which for me is the traditional pumpkin pie with real whipping cream. I do not and will not use cool whip or aerosol whip, I always whip my own for pumpkin pie. With this recipe, it is a little bit richer made with sweetened condensed milk rather than evaporated milk, which is what I did here. Give the top of the pie a shake of nutmeg for some extra flavor.

Pumpkin Pie

1 15 oz can pumpkin (2 cups)
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c. shortening
3-4 Tbsp cold water

Directions for crust:
In mixing bowl, stir together flour and salt. Cut in shortening till pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle one tablespoon water over part of mixture, toss gently with fork. Repeat until all is moistened. Form dough into a ball.
On a lightly floured surface, flatten dough with hands. Roll dough from center to edges, forming a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Wrap pastry around rolling pin and unroll into 9 inch pie plate, being careful not to stretch pastry. Trim to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate, fold under extra pastry to make a fluted edge.

Directions for filling:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices, and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into pie crust. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking 35-40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish with real whipping cream. Store covered in refrigerator. Sprinkle nutmeg on top of the whipped cream for extra flavor.

Whipping Cream instructions:
Chill bowl and beaters for electric mixer until very cold. Pour whipping cream into bowl and add 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/8 cup sugar and whip until cream forms stiff peaks (about 7 minutes). Serve on top of pie or other desserts.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cranberry Mousse

Here is a tasty twist to regular cranberry sauce at your Thanksgiving table. It is Cranberry Mousse, and it is very easy to make. You can make it into single serving size or one large mold to have on the table to add a little bit more elegant flair on the table instead of regular cranberry sauce. It looks pretty too! I got this from Kraft Food and Family magazine Holiday edition 2006. The free subscription is well worth the emails (you can opt out of emails too and just get this magazine in the mail only). Or you can also look in their archives of past issues of Food and Family magazine on their site at I am making 2 of these Cranberry Mousse molds for my daughter's up and coming Christmas party for her Taekwondo school in December. We just love this dish!

Cranberry Mousse

1 1/2 c. boiling water
1 pkg (8 serving size) Jell-O Cranberry flavor gelatin, or any other red flavor
1 can (16 oz) whole berry cranberry sauce
1 c. cold water
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 cups thawed Cool Whip whipped topping

Stir boiling water into dry gelatin mix in large bowl at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Add cranberry sauce; stir until mixed. Stir in cold water. Pour 2 cups of the gelatin mixture into a 6 cup mold pan. Refrigerate 45 minutes or until set but not firm. (Gelatin should stick to your finger)

Meanwhile, stir cinnamon and cloves into remaining gelatin mixture. Refrigerate 30 minutes until slightly thickened (consistency of unbeaten egg whites). Add whipped topping, stir with wire whisk until well blended. Pour over gelatin mixture in mold.

Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm. Store in refrigerator. Makes 12 servings.

- I used a bundt pan to mold my cranberry mousse, you can use any pan or bowl to mold the mousse.
- To invert onto serving plate, dip bottom of pan into hot water for about 15 seconds and turn upside down onto plate, it should come out easily.

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Acorn Squash Casserole

This is a new dish for us this Thanksgiving; I happened to have 2 acorn squashes in the pantry and thought about a casserole for Thanksgiving. I searched for one that would be similar to my usual Sweet Potato Casserole that I usually make for my son, but since he wasn't here this week, I chose something else. I found this recipe on Cook' recipe site and thought it sounded good. It is very easy to make and was very tasty. The sweetness of the brown sugar topping and the squash made a very nice combination with a little crunch of pecans in the topping as well. It was received well by the family.

Acorn Squash Casserole

3 c. mashed acorn squash or 2 pkgs of frozen squash, thawed
1/2 c. sugar
2/3 stick butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla, divided
2 eggs, well beaten

1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
1/3 c. flour
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice acorn squash in half, remove seeds, and bake 1 hour or until fork tender. Take out squash from skins. Combine baked squash, sugar, butter, and 1 tsp vanilla. Mix with electric mixer until well mixed. Add remaining vanilla and beaten eggs. Mix well. Place squash mixture into greased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Mix together topping ingredients until texture is that of small peas and mealy. Spread on top of squash. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Makes 6-8 servings.

- This can be made a day ahead and refrigerated until ready to bake and baked while turkey is resting after being roasted.

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Apple Cranberry Pecan Stuffing

I love this stuffing and so does my family, since I found this recipe Thanksgiving 2006. It tastes so good with the sweetness of the cranberries and apples that goes with the savory of the onion, celery, and spices of stuffing. This recipe comes from Kraft Foods and Family magazine (of which I subscribe to faithfully) Holiday 2006 edition. You can subscribe to Kraft Food and Family magazine from this link. It is easy and best of all, it is FREE! Notice in the picture that you can see the apple chunks and the cranberries, it is what makes this dish so unique. YUMMY!!

Apple Cranberry Pecan Stuffing

3 cups apple juice
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 small apples, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
2 pkg (6 oz each) Stove Top stuffing mix for chicken
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Bring juice and butter/margarine to a boil in medium saucepan on high heat. Stir in apples, cranberries, and stuffing mix. Cover. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in pecans. Makes 16 servings.

- I added 1/2 cup celery and onion mixed for some crunchy to this stuffing.
- I cut this recipe in half since it was just my family, not a large crowd. I prepared this right before cooking the turkey and put it in the turkey to mix with the drippings and butter from the turkey. You can also serve this separately as a great side dish without having it stuffed into the turkey; in that case, prepare while turkey is resting, it is very quick to make.

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Apple Brined Turkey

Well, my early Thanksgiving dinner was a success and now I am sitting here very full. So, here is the barrage of recipes for what I just prepared the last 2 days (my Thanksgiving cooking is never a short story, rather a lengthy delight in the kitchen). First, you have to have turkey for Thanksgiving, nothing else will do (at least to me nothing else will do).

I started with a 16 lb turkey and brined it yesterday morning until about 1:30 this afternoon, turning it only once and letting it soak. When you let it soak in the brine, it retains more moisture so that when it is cooking, the breast will not turn out dry. This one was no exception, it was very moist when we carved it tonight. It oozed with juice all over the place. While it was cooking, it formed blisters of liquid beneath the skin and that is what you want with a brined turkey. That way when it comes out of the oven, and you have to let it rest for 30-40 minutes before carving, the meat soaks up the juice and thus... no dry turkey.

Here is how cook it:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. You want to figure 15 minutes for every pound of turkey, and then at the end add 30-45 minutes for a stuffed turkey. So, my 16 lb turkey took almost 6 hours to roast.

Take the turkey out of the brine and rinse it under cold water (this rinses off alot of the salt and makes it not so salty, this also helps when you make the gravy at the end. Nothing kills gravy than it being too salty). Pat it dry with paper towels and smather butter all over it, make it look totally covered with butter. Sprinkle a little pepper over the butter. The plus side of the butter is that when it melts, it goes into the stuffing that is in the body cavity, into the meat itself, and makes a richer gravy with the drippings with butter in it.

Stuff the bird loosely with the stuffing; in our case, I made a Apple Cranberry Pecan Stuffing which is another post altogether coming up soon. Make the stuffing loose so the heat circulates within the body cavity and the stuffing. Stuff the bird too tight, and the inner cavity does not cook and that is when you dig into it, the breast will not be cooked all the way through.

Get some foil and make a tent over the turkey but do not let the foil touch the top of the bird. You want to tent it so that it does not brown to quickly and it retains the heat and distributes it evenly so it cooks nice in the oven.

Baste at intervals of after the first hour and a half, then after the second hour and a half, then an hour later, than every half hour after that. Basting helps not to dry out the top of the turkey and it prevents the skin from becoming too leathery. I like to eat the skin, so I want it moist as well as tasty. Add liquid if it evaporates in the pan, you can add chicken broth or water. I added a mix of chicken broth and apple juice once during cooking so there is juice in the bottom for gravy later.

Remove the tent in the last hour of cooking so the top gets brown.

Remove the turkey when a meat thermometer inserted between the thigh and breast reaches 170 degrees. Allow to rest for 30-40 minutes before carving. The temperature still rises while it is sitting there, so do not carve it before the resting period is over. This also allows the meat to soak up any other juice to retain moisture within the meat.

One of my favorite tips: I cut a thin slit in the skin for wing tips. Near the wing tip cut a slit of the skin (be careful not to slice into the meat) and insert the wing tips inside so they do not become too crunchy. I like the wings but detest crunchy wing tips which is why I do it. It is not necessary but makes the wings stay nice and moist without being overcooked.

One more tip: IF you get a frozen turkey, leave the metal piece where the legs are tied until after you carve and clean the carcass, this is built in trussing where you do not need a turkey lacer and string, just tuck the legs back into the metal piece after stuffing and keep the cavity somewhat closed while cooking.

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Turkey Brine

Well, we are at that time of the year again to start thinking turkey! It is hands down my favorite meal in the world to prepare and eat (especially the eating part) so to kick off the Thanksgiving recipe fest (there will be many recipes and pictures in the next few days featuring what I am preparing for my Thanksgiving dinner early so I can give everyone my recipes and tips).

First of all, I always plan ahead on the turkey and then I plan the side dishes after I figure out what kind of turkey I am preparing. I have 3-4 different ways I fix turkey, it just depends on what I am thinking at the time. This year I have chosen to brine my turkey in an apple brine. The recipe is simple and you soak your bird for about 24 hours before cooking it. I wish you guys could smell it, it is in the oven right now and it smells fantastic!

To make my brine here is the recipe:

1 gallon of water
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
2 cups apple juice or cider
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. coarse salt (kosher or sea salt, it doesn't matter as long as it is coarse)
2 tsp granulated garlic or 1 clove garlic (minced or pressed)
2 tsp ground sage or 1 Tbsp freshly chopped sage leaves
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp rosemary
10 allspice berries
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix all together until salt and brown sugar is dissolved in a large stockpot or clean 5 gallon bucket. Wash turkey, remove giblets and neck. Soak turkey a minimum of 24 hours, turning after 12 hours.

- If you use a bucket, make sure that it fits into the refrigerator and I will buy a brand new bucket if using it for turkey, rather than trying to wash out one I already have.
- If you have a boiling water canner, it makes a great vessel to brine the turkey since it is large enough for a 25 lb bird and under and fits in the fridge on the top shelf (that is what I used is my boiling water canner pot)

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Gifts In A Jar Featured Website

I thought since it was that time of the year again... Yes, I mean the holiday season and with that here is a great website for do it yourself gifts on a budget. The website I am referring to is a great one for ideas about gifts from the kitchen. It is called Gifts In A Jar and they even have a free ebook you can download to have ideas at your fingertips to make some great Christmas gifts, hostess gifts, and any other gift you can think to put into a jar. I am going to download my ecookbook and use some of the recipes myself, since I am on a budget this year.

So, go on and give them some love; it is a great site! I really enjoy it!

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Whether you are fixing breakfast for a holiday or just because you want to; these cinnamon rolls are just plain fantastic! It does take some time, but taste so much better when they are homemade than store bought. With this recipe, you can be versatile and add raisins or use cream cheese frosting, or just use a plain powdered sugar glaze. Heat them up in the morning for breakfast or freeze some to bake later, they are great anytime. Here is my recipe:

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

4 to 4 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup margarine or butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup raisins, optional

Cinnamon mix for center of rolls
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp margarine or butter
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine 2 cups flour with yeast. Heat and stir the milk, 1/3 cup sugar, and margarine or butter, add salt and cook until warm and margarine has almost melted (about 120-130 degrees). Add to flour/yeast mixture along with the 2 eggs. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl. Beat on high speed 3 minutes. Using a spoon stir in as much of the last 2 1/3 cups flour as you can.

Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of remaining flour (there should be 2 cups left to add if needed)to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3-5 minutes total of kneading). Shape into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turn once. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double (about an hour)

Punch dough down. Divide in half. Cover and let rest about 10 minutes.

Roll half the dough into a 12x8 inch rectangle. Melt the 3 Tbsp butter or margarine, brush half the margarine or butter onto the dough. Combine the 1/3 cup sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle half the mixture over the butter on the dough. Top with raisins if desired. Roll up the dough and seal the ends. Cut the dough with a piece of fishing line pulling through the dough the make a clean cut without smashing the rolls. Slice into 12 pieces. Repeat with remaining dough until you have 24 rolls. Place rolls into 2 greased cake pans. Cover, and let rise until nearly double (about 30 minutes) Bake in 375 oven for 20-25 minutes. Cool slightly, remove from pans. Drizzle with powdered sugar icing or cream cheese frosting (recipes following here)

Powdered Sugar Icing

1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
milk or orange juice

Mix powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 Tbsp milk or juice. Stir in more milk and juice until desired consistency to drizzle over rolls.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 - 3 oz packages of cream cheese
1/2 cup softened butter or margarine
2 tsp vanilla
4 1/2 - 4 3/4 cups powdered sugar

In a bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter or margarine and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of powdered sugar, beating well. Gradually beat in enough of remaining powdered sugar to make frosting of spreading consistency. Frost onto cinnamon rolls


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Friday, November 14, 2008

Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip

This is the best dip for watching the big game, holiday parties, or just for a good snack. I found this on the back of Knorr Vegetable recipe mix package. We served it with pieces of sourdough bread although it is also good with crackers. The combination of the spinach, artichokes, and cheese makes this a winner recipe. You can also find this recipe here at Knorr Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip recipe page.

Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip

1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup Hellmann's® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (about 6 oz.)
1 package Knorr® Vegetable recipe mix
1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts, drained and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine all ingredients except 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Spoon into a 2-quart casserole, then top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
Bake for 35 minutes or until dip is hot. Dip, dip hooray!

Spanakopita Dip: Substitute feta cheese for the cheddar and omit artichoke hearts. Spoon into mini phyllo cups and bake 8 minutes or until filling puffs.

MAKES 4 cups dip


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Thursday, November 13, 2008

5 Hour Spaghetti Sauce

This is a great recipe for those who love their crockpots. I make this quite often since it makes so much and I can freeze some after we have had our meal. It takes about 5-6 hours to simmer in the crock pot and after you add the noodles to the sauce, it makes a great meal just pennies a serving. Freeze the rest in freezer containers to have for future meals. It is a lot of slicing and dicing but the work is worth it. Pair up this spaghetti with garlic bread and salad and you have a great meal. You can also make large quantities of this if you grow your own tomatoes and process in a canner to make sauce for all year, instructions follow for that at the bottom. Now for the recipe:

5 Hour Spaghetti Sauce

4-6 Roma tomatoes, diced or you can use one can diced tomatoes (15 oz)
2 cans tomato paste
2 cans tomato sauce
1 cup water
1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1-2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1-2 tsp salt
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (you can cut this down if you do not want such a strong garlic flavor)
1/2 green pepper, diced fine
1/2 red pepper, diced fine
1 medium onion, diced fine
1 small can sliced olives or 1/4 cup diced green olives
1/4 cup white wine, if desired
1 lb hamburger or Italian sausage, if desired

Combine all ingredients in crock pot and simmer on low for 5-6 hours. Cook hamburger or sausage about an hour before sauce is ready and add to sauce, if meat is desired. Serve over hot spaghetti noodles.

Freezing and canning instructions:
- Fill freezer containers leaving about 1 inch head space, label with date and contents and freeze for up to 3 months. Or you can process this is a boiling water bath for 25 minutes for pints and 30 minutes for quarts to keep longer or if you make large quantities of sauce.

- Add meatballs instead of hamburger or sausage and make meatball sandwiches
- Use this sauce with no meat for pizza sauce


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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Apple Raspberry Turnovers

I found these turnovers in a new magazine I picked up and made just a couple changes to it. The magazine I found this recipe in is called All You (October 24, 2008 issue)and you can find it at their website at It seems to be a pretty good magazine that is not expensive (magazines are getting so expensive these days).

I substituted my own raspberry freezer jam for store bought raspberry jam and instead of putting sprinkled sugar on top, I used a powdered sugar icing on top of the turnovers. The variations of this recipe will be at the bottom of this article.

Apple Raspberry Turnovers

1 medium apple; peeled, cored, and diced
2 Tbsp seedless raspberry jam
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from one 17.5 oz package), thawed
1 large egg, slightly beaten

Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Combine apples, jam, and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a separate small bowl.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry into an 8x12 inch rectangle. Cut pastry into 6 - 4 inch squares with a sharp knife or pizza cutter (I used a pizza cutter and it worked better to keep the shape, the knife sort of pulled on the puff pastry)

Spoon some of apple mixture into center of each square, leaving a 1 inch border. Brush borders with beaten egg. Fold each square into a triangle and press edges with tines of a fork to seal (be sure to seal tightly). Using a sharp paring knife, cut 2 small steam vents in the top of each turnover. Sprinkle each turnover with cinnamon sugar. Place turnovers on lined baking sheet.

Bake until golden and puffed, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.

- Serve warm with vanilla ice cream for dessert.
- Instead of the cinnamon sugar, drizzle with powdered sugar icing consisting of 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and 5-6 drops of water and mix into a drizzling consistency (add more water depending on how thin you like your icing) you can make it thick and pipe it onto the turnovers to make them extra nice looking for special occasions.

Tips with the puff pastry:
- Check the label. IF you are using an all-butter puff pastry, freeze the turnovers for 15 minutes before baking. If you are using a puff pastry made with vegetable shortening, freezing isn't necessary.


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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Zucchini Relish

This is a great recipe for those gardeners who grow a lot of zucchini. This relish has great flavor, is easy to make, and compliments anything you put it on. Add some red peppers for color and this can easily be a family favorite condiment in your house like it is in my house. This recipe comes from my husband's granny's kitchen and it is soooo good!

Zucchini Relish

5 cups zucchini squash
2 cups onion

Put both in food processor and chop very fine. Sprinkle squash and onion with 1/8 cup salt and let stand overnight. Next morning, rinse well and let drain.

Mix together:
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/8 cup vinegar
1/2 Tbsp dry mustard
1/2 Tbsp celery seed
1/2 Tbsp tumeric powder
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 large green pepper or red pepper, chopped fine in food processor.

Stir well into squash/onion mixture. Cook slowly for 2 hours. Pack and seal in pint jars. Process for 5 minutes in boiling water canner. Set aside to cool and let jars seal. Can be kept up to 2 years in dry cool place.

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