Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A New Year's Exhortation

A New Year's Exhortation
"Let us run with patience the race
that is set before us, LOOKING UNTO
JESUS the author and finisher of
our faith." 

Heb. xii. 1,2

My prayer for each one of you in the coming year is
that you would come to know Jesus, the Bread of Life, more fully each day.
May all that we do and say be to His honor and glory
as we await His soon return.

Thank you to each one who has taken time to read, follow, and comment on this blog.  It is a blessing to me to be able to quietly share the things I enjoy with you, and I look forward to sharing more with you in the year ahead.  Keep looking up!  Jesus is coming!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Apricot & Cilantro Tagine Chicken

Apricot & Cilantro Tagine Chicken
1  Tablespoon  Butter
1  Tablespoon  Olive Oil
1/4  Cup  Finely Chopped Onion
4  Cloves Garlic, crushed
1-3/4  Cups  Water, divided
1/2  Cup  Dried Apricots, roughly chopped
2  Tablespoons  Tomato Paste
1  Tablespoon  Honey
1/2  teaspoon  Salt
1/8  teaspoon  Cayenne Pepper
1/8  teaspoon  Paprika
Black Pepper, to taste
1/3  Cup  roughly chopped Cilantro
1/4  teaspoon  Cumin
1/4  teaspoon  Turmeric
1  Cinnamon Stick
1-2  Tablespoons  Lemon Juice
8 to 10  Chicken Thighs, bone-in, skin on
Curry Rice or Couscous and Naan or Black Bread for serving
In a medium saucepan, melt together the Butter and Olive Oil; sauté the Onion and Garlic until Onion is softened.  Stir in 1-1/2 Cups Water, Apricots, Tomato Paste, Honey, Salt, Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Black Pepper, Cilantro, Cumin, and Turmeric.  Simmer over medium-low heat until Sauce is thickened and Apricots are softened and mostly dissolved into the Sauce, about 15-20 minutes.  Stir in remaining 1/4 Cup Water and Cinnamon Stick, simmer 5-7 minutes.  Remove Cinnamon Stick; stir in Lemon Juice and set aside.
Season Chicken Thighs with Salt and Black Pepper; grill skin-side-up 4-7 minutes, flip and grill an additional 4-7 minutes--just enough to render off the fat, brown the exterior and begin the cooking process.  The Chicken Thighs should not be fully cooked.  I like to do this on the BBQ, but it can be done on an indoor grill. 
Remove the skin and layer with Sauce in a Tagine Pot, heavy covered Baking Dish, or Slow Cooker. 

Bake at 350* to 375* for 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours (use the longer time if you have prepped ahead and refrigerated--I do 275* for 2-1/2 hours while we are at Church).  For a Slow Cooker: High 3 to 4 hours, Low 5 to 6 hours.  Serve over a bed of Curry Rice or Couscous with a side of Naan or Black Bread.  Serves 8.

Curry Rice

4  Cups  Water
1  teaspoon  Chicken Bouillon
2  teaspoons  Curry Powder
2  Cups  White Rice
3  Tablespoons  Butter
Salt & Black Pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, bring first four ingredients to a boil.  Stir, cover, and reduce heat to low.  Simmer 18-20 minutes, until Rice is soft and cooked through.  Stir in Butter, Salt, and Black Pepper.  Serve Tagine Chicken on a bed of Curry Rice.

"Then Peter opened his mouth, and said,
Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons;
But in every nation he that feareth Him,
and worketh righteousness,
is accepted with Him."
Acts 10:34, 35

What exactly is a Tagine, anyways?  It is a two-piece Moroccan cooking dish: a bottom deep, flat dish and a heavy conical lid.  The bottom dish can be cast iron and used on the stove or the oven, or pottery and used only in the oven; my set is all pottery.  The heavy conical lid allows the juices from the cooking food to remain trapped in with the food and  baste the dish: the steam rises, hits the top of the cone, and runs down the sides to baste the meat or stew.  If you don't have a Tagine you can always substitute a baking dish with a heavy domed lid (such as Le Creuset  or Pampered Chef) or use a slow cooker.

Moroccan Tagine recipes typically include "warm" spices (Cinnamon, Turmeric, Cayenne, Cumin) and fruit (Apricots, Lemons, Dates).  The meat is usually Lamb or Chicken but sometimes will be Beef or Goat and more rarely, Seafood.  Vegetarian Tagines will often use Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) or Lentils as a base.

I'm really excited about my Tagine--I was able to get it free at World Market back in November!  I was able to combine a $10-off coupon, a reward coupon, and a birthday coupon--this is the only time of year I can combine coupons like this.  Happy Dance!  I've been eyeing a Tagine for a couple of years and couldn't justify buying it.  Coupons made it possible!  I've been very impressed by the way it cooks and can't wait to try beef stew in it.  Thankfully my family is patient with my experiments and testing: this recipe is a Fake-It version of World Market's Al'Fez Moroccan Style Apricot & Cilantro Tagine Sauce.  We really enjoy this over Curry Rice with Naan.  If you do make the Naan, try grilling it on the BBQ when you grill the Chicken.  Yummy!




Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ham & Cornbread Breakfast Pizza

Ham & Cornbread Breakfast Pizza
1 8.5-oz Corn Muffin Mix
2  Eggs
1/3  Cup  Milk
2  Tablespoons  Butter
1/2  Red Onion, diced
2  Cups  Diced Ham
1/2  Cup  Sour Cream
1  Cup  Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1  Cup  Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
Black Pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400*.
In a small bowl combine the Muffin Mix, Eggs, and Milk; spread into a greased 9x13 pan and set aside.
Melt Butter in skillet; sauté Onion until softened.  Stir in Ham and sauté for 2 minutes; stir in Sour Cream and half of the Mozzarella and Cheddar until combined.  Spoon Ham mixture over the Cornbread mixture and top with remaining Cheese and Black Pepper as desired.  Bake at 400* for 15 to 20 minutes.  Serves 6.
"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord,
and to sing praises unto Thy name,
O most High:
To show forth Thy lovingkindness in the morning,
and Thy faithfulness every night."
Psalm 92: 1 & 2
Please don't be mislead by the name:  this Ham & Cornbread Breakfast Pizza is also great as a quick hot lunch on a Saturday or as a light supper in the evening.  Just add some Green Peas and Fruit and you've got a meal in 30 minutes.  Sometimes to speed things up in the morning, I'll sauté the Onion, Ham, Sour Cream and Cheese the night before and pop it the fridge.  Then in the morning all I have to do is mix up the Cornbread, top it, and bake.  This is also an easy recipe for children to make, especially if you buy your Ham pre-diced and your Cheese pre-shredded.  We were served this in Washington this summer while at Sid & Mary's house.  Yummy!  

From Far Above Rubies, page 99

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Big Batch Pie Crust --Freezer Recipe--

Big Batch Pie Crust
--Freezer Recipe--

I set out to make and photograph this recipe of Big Batch Pie Crust several weeks months ago.  I purchased the four simple ingredients:  a 5-pound bag of Flour, a 3-pound can of Vegetable Shortening, Lemon-Lime Soda, and Salt (well, I already had the 2 Tablespoons Salt on hand).   And somehow, each time I actually got to it something the Lemon-Lime Soda was missing.
Gone.  Vanished.  Evaporated.  Only empty cans remained.
The culprits seem to be our 12-year-old Lawn Mowing Crew--a can of Soda a week is their only pay.  And they are quite, quite tired of Cola.
So last week they were placed on restriction of  Thou. Shalt. Not. Touch.
I'm going to remove the ban this afternoon.
This recipe from my sister is a rather unique Pie Crust recipe on several fronts:
It calls for two 12-ounce cans of Lemon-Lime Soda (sparkling mineral water also works);
It makes 18-20 Pie Crusts;
and most importantly in my mind, It is Easy.  20 minutes to 20 Pie Crusts?  You betcha!
What could be better?  I know that I, for one, Do. Not. Like the taste of store-bought pie crust and often drag my feet at making just a single crust.  Keep these in the freezer and you're good to go in just the time it takes to thaw (and in the microwave, it's less than 30 seconds total).
(And if by chance you really don't want need 18 Pie Crusts in your freezer, try my single-pie recipe right here .)
"For God,
Who commanded the Light to shine out of darkness,
hath shone in our hearts, to give the
Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God
in the face of Jesus Christ."
II Corinthians 4:6
"Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying,
I am the Light of the world;
he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness,
but shall have the Light of Life."
John 8:12
You will need:
1  5-pound  bag Flour
1  3-pound  can  Vegetable Shortening
2  12-ounce  cans  Lemon-Lime Soda  (sparkling mineral water works well, too)
2  Tablespoons  Salt
18 to 20 squares Parchment Paper or Waxed Paper
2 to 3  1-gallon ziptop Freezer Bags
a Very Large Bowl
a Spatula, Large Spoon, or Pastry Blender
Prepare your Parchment Paper before beginning; I like to use 12"x12" squares.  Your hands will be very messy by the end, and you'll be glad you won't have to stop and clean up before packaging the Pie Crusts.
Begin by stirring together the Flour and Salt.  Add in the Vegetable Shortening, cutting it into the Flour until you have clumps the size of small Walnuts:

Pour in one can of Soda and stir lightly until it is combined:
Add in the final can of Soda and stir.  At this point you will realize that you need to continue gently mixing with your hands until the dough comes together in a large mass:
Gently begin to portion your Pie Crust dough.  I just eyeball the amount, but if you want to weigh it, I've found an 8- to 9-ounce portion works well.

I prefer to make my batch into 18 portions and know that each portion won't be too skimpy for a large 9-inch pie pan.  If you are really good at rolling your dough thinly or use a smaller pie pan you can always make this recipe into 20 portions.  When you're done your table will look something like this:
Package in freezer bags and label and you're done!
To Use Frozen Pie Crust:
Thaw on counter for 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how warm your kitchen is
Microwave for 10-12 seconds per side.
Roll out and use as desired.  Easy as Pie!
And here's a tip to help keep your pre-baked Pie Shells from shrinking:
Let them set on your counter, all formed in your pan and ready for baking, for about 30-45 minutes before you bake them.  My Grandma J taught me this tip and it really helps.
And here's another tip from my own newlywed experience:
Don't grease your pie plates.
And speaking of Pie, have you seen this new cookbook that just released in early October?  I haven't had a chance to look through a copy yet, but it's on my Birthday/Christmas list.  (hint, hint)  You can buy it here: Me, Myself, and Pie by Sherry Gore and you can read Sherry's blog here. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Fe Fi Pho Fun -or- Vietnamese Noode Soup: Pho

Vietnamese Noodle Soup
For the Chicken:
1 1/2  pounds  boneless, skinless Chicken Breast
3  Stalks  Lemongrass, white part only
1/2  Cup  Onion (about 1/4 of a large Onion)
2  cloves  Garlic
1  teaspoon  Kosher Salt
1  teaspoon  Sugar
1/2  teaspoon  Chinese 5-Spice
1/4  Cup  Oil
For the Broth:
4  Cups  Beef Broth
1  Cup  Water
3/4  of an Onion, quartered (this would be the remainder of the Onion from the Chicken Marinade)
3  2-inch pieces  Lemongrass (this would be the remainder of the Lemongrass)
1  teaspoon  Chinese 5-Spice
4  cloves Garlic, crushed
2  Tablespoons  Fish Sauce
For the Veggies:
Sliced Red Bell Pepper
Halved Slices of English Cucumber
Shredded Daikon Radish (or red radish, if you can't find Daikon, which is sweeter)
Fresh Basil Leaves
Lime Wedges
For the Nuoc Cham Dressing:
1/4  Cup  Fresh Lime Juice
1  Tablespoon  Fish Sauce
2  Tablespoons  Water
1  Tablespoon Sugar
1  Red Chili, thinly sliced

8  ounces  Maifun Noodles  (Chinese Rice Noodles), cooked according to package directions--if there are no directions, boil for 2-3 minutes immediately before serving; drain and place in bowls
Frozen Packaged  Egg Rolls, baked according to package directions
Lime Wedges, for squeezing over Pho, as desired

For the Chicken:
Chop the Lemongrass into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces.  Lemongrass is very fibrous, and I didn't chop mine fine enough--the children kept thinking there were hairs on their chicken!  In a food processor, mince together the Lemongrass, Onion, Garlic, Salt, Sugar, Chinese 5-Spice, and Oil.  It should end up looking almost like a tuna salad mix.  Thickly spread this over the Chicken and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours.  Grill on BBQ or on an indoor grill pan; chop into bite-size pieces.

For the Broth:
Combine all ingredients in a stock pot; bring to a boil.  Simmer for a minimum of 20 minutes, but up to 2 hours to increase the depth of flavor.
For the Veggies:
Thinly slice Red Bell Peppers and English Cucumber; Julienne or grate the Daikon, and arrange everything on serving platter for self-serve toppings.

For the Nuoc Cham Dressing:
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
To serve the Pho:
Place the Maifun in bowls, top with Chicken, Veggies, a spoonful or two of the Nuoc Cham, and Broth and Lime Wedges as desired.  Serve with an Egg Roll on the side.  Yummy!  Serves 6.  Definitely worth the prep it takes to make.  We love the contrast of the spicy broth and cool cucumbers, soft noodles and crunchy bell peppers.
"Go ye, therefore,
and teach all nations,
baptizing them
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit,
Teaching them to observe all things
whatsoever I have commanded you;
and, lo, I am with you always,
even unto the end of the world.
Matthew 28: 19, 20

Adapted from Feasting at Home and Gimme Some Oven. 


Monday, October 27, 2014

Hawaiian Chicken

Hawaiian Chicken
2  pounds  boneless, skinless Chicken Breast, cubed
Garlic Salt
2  Eggs, Beaten
Pineapple Sauce:
3/4  Cup  White Sugar
3/4  Cup  Brown Sugar
3  Tablespoons  Cornstarch
1  Cup  Vinegar
1/2  Cup  Ketchup
2  Tablespoons  Soy Sauce
16-oz.  can  Pineapple Tidbits, juice reserved
1-2  Bell Pepper, cut into chunks
For the Sauce:
In a medium saucepan stir together the White Sugar, Brown Sugar, and Cornstarch.  Measure the reserved Pineapple Juice, adding water if necessary, to make 1/2-Cup.  In a small bowl combine the Pineapple Juice, Vinegar, Ketchup, and Soy Sauce; stir to mix well.  Mix the liquid Sauce ingredients into the Sugar mixture and bring to a boil.  Cook until slightly thickened, about 2-4 minutes.  Stir in Pineapple Tidbits and Bell Pepper chunks. 
For the Chicken:
Sprinkle Garlic Salt on Chicken.  Roll in Cornstarch and dip in beaten Eggs.  Pan fry until crispy; transfer to 9x13 baking dish.  Top with Pineapple Sauce.  Bake at 350* for 1 hour.  Serve over hot rice.  Serves 6.  Delicious with Spicy Asian Green Beans.
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation
hath appeared to all men,
Teaching us that,
denying ungodliness and worldly lusts,
we should live soberly,
righteously, and godly,
in this present age,
Looking for that blessed hope,
and the glorious appearing of the great God
and our Savior, Jesus Christ."
Titus 2:11-13

Adapted from Bountiful Blessings, page 131

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

No-Crumb Spice Cookies

It's that time of year again.
When I must start thinking of (and cooking!) holiday blogging ideas so I can get them posted in a timely manner.

There is just something wrong about needing to think about Christmas in mid-October.
Especially with all this lovely fall weather we've been having lately.

My kids actually went swimming last week.  On October 15th, for crying out loud!

I don't *feel* like thinking about Christmas.
I don't.  I don't.  I don't.

So, I think I'll show you what's been going on around here, instead, since the last time I posted.

Here goes:

Little One turned 6
It was our final year on the committee for the PSC Chicken BBQ for our school.
Many, Many, Many Thanks to each of you who came--we appreciate your support!

Then, T & I were able to get away for the weekend to Lake Tahoe.
Neither of us had ever been there before and we can't wait to go back and take the children.
Simply Beautiful!
And on our way there we stopped at Apple Hill for lunch and an apple turnover (of course!).

 I love the evening Alpenglow...
...and the mountain Sunrise.

 T says that I don't take "selfies," but "we-ies"


 Tahoe Queen

 Emerald Bay

Vikingsholm was closed for the season
 but we did enjoy the walk down to and around the grounds

The spider webs beside each horn caught my attention

My breakfast crepes at Heidi's Pancake House, a fun Swiss-style place for breakfast and lunch.
We also ate at Cup of Cherries (which I would recommend over Heidi's--the Island Pancakes, oh my!  Melt-in-your-mouth pancakes with coconut syrup, caramelized macadamia nuts, and sliced bananas!  drool...  And, they do really awesome artwork in your latte or cappuccino,
which is always an added bonus any day), and had dinner at Primo's Italian Bistro.  We really, really enjoyed our dinner at Primo's and highly recommend the restaurant--don't be put off by the surroundings: it's next door to a Laundromat.
 And then on the 3rd & 4th Grades Field Trip on Amtrak to the Zoo!


 Feeding the Giraffes

 Big Sister turned 9
Daddy does such a good job getting special Birthday breakfasts!

And then there was a family party for the three girlies with birthdays in a three-week span:

 Kristi does throw such lovely parties, doesn't she?

And that brings us up to date!
And here is the proof that yes, the kiddos did go swimming in mid-October.
October 15th, to be precise!

 "Come, and let us
go up to the mountain of the Lord,
and to the house of the God of Jacob;
and He will teach us of His ways,
and we will walk in His paths;
for the law shall go forth from Zion,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
...and we will walk in the name of the Lord,
our God, forever and ever."
Micah 4:2,5
And now, back to our featured presentation:
No-Crumb Spice Cookies
Ok. That sounded kinda silly.
This recipe is one that T's Mom and Grandma made a lot.  It's a really good, buttery spice cookie which, as the name suggests, really doesn't make a lot of crumbs.  And if you're a mom with little kids, this is always a good thing.
Before I get on with the recipe, I do want to clarify a few things:  This is a cut-out cookie recipe and because of the high amount of Butter, it can tend to distort shapes in the oven.  To minimize this, the instructions call for refrigerating the dough several hours or overnight but then it's almost too stiff to roll out.  Keeping the Butter cold slows down the spread or distortion in the oven but it makes the dough really hard to work with.
I'm giving you the recipe as written, but I have been playing around with the dough to try to minimize or eliminate the need to refrigerate.  So far what I've come up with is to eliminate the Baking Soda and add an additional 1/2-cup Flour but then the scraps toward the end have too much Flour and I don't like this extra-floury flavor.  You could, of course, make the recipe as written, eliminate the refrigeration, and pop the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies into the freezer for about 10 minutes before baking--this works well--but I don't usually have that much freezer space.  If you play around with this and come up with a solution, let me know.  I'd love to hear what you did!
No-Crumb Spice Cookies
2  Cups  Butter
3  Cups  Sugar
2  Eggs, beaten
1  Tablespoon  Dark Corn Syrup (light works, too; the cookies just won't have as dark of color)
5 1/2  Cups  Flour
4  Teaspoons  Baking Soda
2  Tablespoons  Cinnamon
4  Teaspoons  Ginger
2  Teaspoons  Ground Cloves
2  Egg Whites
1/4  Teaspoon  Almond Extract
4  Cups  Powdered Sugar
Mix all together and ice cookies as desired
Preheat Oven to 375*.  Cream Butter and Sugar.  Add beaten Eggs and Corn Syrup.  Add dry ingredients and mix well.  Refrigerate dough until thoroughly cold, about 3 hours or overnight.  Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness and cut into desired shapes.  Bake 8-11 minutes, until firm but not crisp.  Excellent without Icing (my preference), but if you wish to decorate, use the recipe above.  Makes about 6 Dozen cookies.  Keeps very well in the freezer.