Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mexican Stuffed Shells

Mexican Stuffed Shells
2 to 2-1/2  pounds  Ground Beef
2  packages  Taco Seasoning, or use this one: My Favorite Taco Seasoning
1  8-oz.  Cream Cheese
1  12-oz.  Jumbo Pasta Shells (about 32)
1  16-oz.  Salsa
1  30-oz.  Refried Beans
1  15-oz.  Pinquito Beans, lightly drained
2  Cups  Taco Sauce
3  Cups  Mexican Cheese Blend
Lettuce, Green Onions, Black Olives, Diced Tomatoes, Sour Cream, and Salsa, as desired, for topping
In a large skillet, fry Ground Beef; drain.  Stir in Taco Seasoning and Cream Cheese; cover and simmer until Cream Cheese is melted; blend well and set aside.
While the Beef is cooking, cook the Jumbo Pasta Shells the minimum cooking time, or even a minute less; drain and set out individually so the Shells don't stick together.
Combine the Salsa, Refried Beans and Pinquito Beans; spread in the bottom of two greased 9 x 13 pans.
Stuff the Shells with the Meat mixture (a cookie scoop works great!); place in baking pans open side up and cover with Taco Sauce.
Cover with foil; bake at 350* for 30 minutes.  Remove foil, top with Mexican Cheese and bake another 15 minutes, or until hot through and cheese is melted.  Top with toppings, as desired, for serving.  Serves 15-18.  Freezes very well.
"[The Lord] causeth the grass to grow for the cattle,
and herb for the service of man,
that he may bring forth food out of the ground,
And wine that maketh glad the heart of man,
and oil to make his face shine,
and bread which stregtheneth man's heart." 
Psalm 104: 14 & 15
Back in January a friend organized a recipe swap: about 20 different ladies submitted five favorite recipes and side dishes to go with them.  This recipe was included in the swap and our family has really enjoyed it.  I've tweaked it just a bit by adding the beans to the bottom of the pan.  I hope you enjoy it, too!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Favorite Taco Seasoning

My Favorite Taco Seasoning
In a small bowl, blend together:
1/4  Cup  Chili Powder
1  teaspoon  Garlic Powder
1  teaspoon  Onion Powder
1  teaspoon  Chipotle Chili Powder
1  teaspoon  Dried Oregano
2  teaspoons  Paprika
4  teaspoons  Black Pepper
1  Tablespoon  Kosher Salt
2  Tablespoons  Cumin
Use 2-1/2 to 3 Tablespoons per Pound of Meat
Store in a tightly sealed container in a dark cupboard.
I usually make a double recipe of this at a time.
"I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
My meditation of Him shall be sweet;
I will be glad in the Lord."
Psalm 104: 33 & 34

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bacon Kettle Corn

Bacon Kettle Corn
in a Stir Crazy
For this yummy Kettle Corn you will need:
Bacon Grease
1/4 to 1/3  Cup  White Sugar, depending on how sweet you like your Kettle Corn
Salt, to taste
a Stir Crazy popcorn popper
First, put a good large dollop of cold Bacon Grease in your Stir Crazy popper, about 3 Tablespoons worth:
Plug in your popper and let the Bacon Grease melt, like this is beginning to melt:

Unplug the popper and add your Popcorn.  Sprinkle it all with the Sugar:

Cover with the popper lid, plug in, and let the Popcorn pop!  When the last few kernels have mostly popped (you may not want to wait for every single kernel to pop, as the Sugar can start to burn), invert the unit and Salt to taste:

Now you are ready to enjoy some really good Kettle Corn!  Don't be a bit surprised if your entire family is swiping handfuls while you're trying to finish salting it...


"Wisdom is the principal thing;
therefore get wisdom:
and with all thy getting get understanding."
Proverbs 4:7
When we were East for T's Grandmother's funeral, we stayed with his sister and her family, and this is the way they like their popcorn--except they don't make it Kettle-Style; the Sugar is my adaption to their Bacon Popcorn.
School is out this week: hurrah for Summer Vacation!  A few weeks ago the boys' teacher hosted a Gold Rush Night for her students and their parents at her home as a finale to the students' studies of California History.  Period costumes were required.  Here are a few of my favorite snapshots of the evening:

 The Trail Masters who led our wagon train West, in search of Gold
 It was a long, hard journey and we were weary when we reached the Golden State

 It was a rough looking gang of prospectors who greeted us
We were delighted to see the Mercantile and Dining Tent upon our arrival;
the Prospectors spent their Gold--earned by hard work and good grades throughout the year--quite quickly

Much work must be finished before we could eat:
Sarsaparilla to stir,
Butter to churn

Dinner was simple:
Stew and Cornbread, Orange Wedges, and
Apple Crisp for dessert

Western Games made the evening fun
The teachers have been seeing double for the past two years

Thank You, Mrs. Schaurer, for all you have done for this class!
We appreciate you!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Flying Farmer Chicken Salad

Flying Farmer Chicken Salad
5  Cups  chopped, cooked Chicken (broth reserved if using canned or if boiling is your preferred method of cooking)
1  Cup  uncooked Rice
2-1/4 Cups Chicken Broth (use reserved broth, adding water if needed to make amount needed)
1  20-oz.  Pineapple Tidbits, drained, juice reserved
1  11-oz.  Mandarin Oranges, drained, juice reserved
2  Tablespoons  Olive Oil
2  Tablespoons  Reserved Mandarin Orange Juice
1  teaspoon  Salt
1-1/2  Cups  Green Grapes, cut in half
1-1/2  Cups  diced Celery
1  Cup  Slivered Almonds, toasted
Mayonnaise, as need, to bind together
Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste

Lettuce Leaves or Pita Pockets, for serving

Cook Rice in Chicken Broth; cool.
While Rice is cooking, combine Chicken, Pineapple, Mandarin Oranges, Olive Oil, reserved Mandarin Juice, Salt, Grapes, and Celery.
When Rice is cool, stir into Chicken-Fruit mixture.  Mix in Almonds.  Stir in  reserved Pineapple and Mandarin Juices -or- Mayonnaise,  as needed, to moisten and bind Salad together.  Season with Black Pepper to taste.  Chill; serve on Lettuce Leaves or in Pita Pockets.  Makes 11 Cups.

"O Lord,
thou hast searched me,
and known me.
Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising;
Thou understandest my thought afar off.
Thou compasseth my path and my lying down,
and art acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word in my tongue,
but lo, O Lord,
Thou knowest it altogether.
Thou hast beset me behind and before,
and laid Thine hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high, I cannot attain unto it!"
Psalm 139:1-6

Recently I needed to prepare lunch for a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free young man.  My intent was to prepare this with egg-free mayo--the original recipe called for 1-1/2 Cups!  By cooking the Rice in slightly more Broth (2-1/4 cups instead of 2 cups) and by stirring in extra Juice, I was able to eliminate the need for any Mayo.  I call this a win-win situation!  This young man said it was very good and wanted more when he came home with the boys from school.  If it passes critique of a teenager, it's good!  My Grandmother submitted the original recipe to the "Seasoned With Love" cookbook.  If you're looking closely at the photos and comparing to the recipe you'll notice I used Red Grapes (green grapes were a dollar more per pound!) and there are no Almonds.  I was out of them, but they do add a nice crunch.  Make sure you have some on hand--at least enough to sprinkle on top.

I had fun playing with my camera.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Sweet Lemon Scones

Sweet Lemon Scones
2  Cups  Flour
1  teaspoon  Salt
1/4  Cup  Sugar
1  Tablespoon  Baking Powder
3-1/2  Tablespoons  Butter
1  Cup  Lemon Yogurt
2  Eggs, separated
1  teaspoon  finely minced Lemon Zest
Heavy Cream, as needed, about 3 Tablespoons
Raw Sugar, if desired, for sprinkling
Powdered Sugar
Lemon Juice
Devonshire Cream or Lemon Curd, for serving
Preheat oven to 425*.
Mix dry ingredients together.  Using a  pastry blender, cut Butter into Flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Place in refrigerator.
In a small bowl, stir together Lemon Yogurt, Egg Yolks, and Lemon Zest.  Gently fold into Flour mixture, stirring lightly with a fork.  Add Heavy Cream, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until dough begins to clump together.
Gather dough on a lightly floured surface and knead 3 to 4 times or until the dough holds together.
Pat dough into a rectangle 3/4-inch thick; cut as desired into 1-1/2 to 2-inch triangles or with a cookie cutter.  Place scones on parchment paper on baking sheet and brush with beaten Egg White and sprinkle with Raw Sugar, if desired.
Bake at 425* until a light golden brown, about 9-10 minutes.  Transfer to cooling rack.
When cooled, glaze with a mixture of Powdered Sugar, Milk, and a wee squeeze of Lemon Juice.  Serve with Devonshire Cream or Lemon Curd (or both!).  Makes about 16 scones.
"the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant
with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
This is a faithful saying,
and worthy of all acceptance,
that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners..."
1 Timothy 1:14 & 15


Last Saturday I had the pleasure of baking a triple-batch of these Scones for a friend who was hosting a Bridal Shower.  As you can tell, I had fun playing around with my camera, too!  To make it easier in the morning, I prepped the Flour Mixture and the Yogurt Mixture the night before.  In the morning all I had to do was stir it together, cut, and bake.  Very simple! 
I don't remember where I first came across this recipe, so I can't give the proper credit where it is due.  I can tell you that I didn't create the recipe myself.