Monday, August 29, 2011

Justin's Favorite One Pot Creamy Chicken & Noodles

This recipe comes from Rachel Knight.  It’s so delicious and easy!  My kids love it!  You can use any veggies that you want and of you can also add more than a cup if you want (I usually do).

3 cups water 
1 tablespoon chicken flavor instant bouillon 
1 8 oz. package wide egg noodles 
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables 
1/3 cup chopped onion (optional) 
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I use cream of chicken) 
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
½ cup milk 
2 small cans chunk chicken, drained (I use 1 to 2 cooked chicken breasts) 
salt and pepper to taste   

In medium saucepan, bring water and bouillon to boil (you can use 3 cups chicken stock instead).  Stir in uncooked noodles.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Add veggies and onion.  Cover and simmer 5 minutes or until noodles are tender and most of the liquid Is absorbed.  Add soup, cheese, and milk.  Mix well.  Stir in chicken and pepper.  Heat through.  

For making your own cream of chicken soup:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lemon Butter Meltaways (cookies)

This recipe came from my dear friend Carol James. I think she brought them to a tea party or she had them at her house when we had tea. Either way, after trying them, I simply HAD to have the recipe! They’re made up of pretty basic stuff but they’re definitely not your basic cookie! Great for tea but also great for any other time you want to make folks feel special.

1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened (I use salted)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup cornstarch

Beat butter until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating well. Combine flour and cornstarch; gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. Shape dough into 2 (6 inch) logs and wrap in wax paper dusted with powdered sugar (or cornstarch). Chill at least 6 hours or overnight. Can be made ahead of time and placed in the refrigerator for a few days (Place wrapped logs into a ziplock).

Unwrap dough, cut each log into 18 slices and place slices 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheets immediately. Cool completely before icing.

Lemon Frosting:
¼ cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind (I usually don’t use this)
1 ½ to 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Beat butter until creamy. Gradually add sifted powdered sugar. Add lemon rind and juice, beat until spreading consistency. Spread onto cooled cookies.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pear Jelly Fiasco

We aren’t really big on pear jam so I decided to make some pear jelly. I did my research and discovered that when making pear jelly without pectin (which I prefer doing), it’s best if you use the core. It’s also best if you include the peels because it adds color and flavor to the juice. Simple! Just wash pears really well, cut off the stem and bottom part, and chunk them up! I boiled them in about 1 cup apple juice until tender. Then I mashed them and strained them (three times!). Got about 3 ½ cups of juice and I added a little apple juice to make it 4 cups. By the way, when making pear jelly, there’s a LOT of waste (won’t do it again!).

I put the juice in my large saucepan, completely forgetting that jelly foams terribly. I added my sugar (3/4 cup to one cup of juice) and lemon juice (1 ½ tablespoons to one cup of juice), stirred, and set the pan on to boil.

Let me say at this point that I had jars and lids boiling and I was also prepping pears for my pear butter at the same time. Multi-tasking when making jelly is NOT a great thing to do…

The pear mixture began to boil and very quickly outgrew the pan! So I had sticky pear stuff all over my stove and of course it was burning on the eye. Quickly, I carefully removed it from the stove and was able to pour it into my stock-pot sized pan. I cleaned the stove the best I could and put the much-larger pan on the eye. At least it wouldn’t boil over in this pan!

So, I would stir it every few minutes while working on my pear butter. When you use pectin, the cooking of jelly is just a few minutes. Without pectin, you have to cook it awhile. My second mistake was not using a thermometer. I’ve never used one when cooking jelly—I always look for the sheeting sign. So I would stir and hold the spoon up and every time it would pour off the spoon in a thin strand. Not ready.

I’m not sure how long I cooked it—probably 20-30 minutes or so (stirring every few minutes each time) but I began to smell something strange. I looked over at the jelly and realized it had turned from a pretty very light yellow color to a deep amber color. When I stirred it that time, it sheeted off the spoon—jelly’s ready! I began pouring the mixture into jars and sealing them. I let the spoon cool and tried to get the mixture off to taste. It was so hard—like a piece of hard candy!

So instead of pear jelly, I have burned pear jelly-candy…in jars. Yuck! I may even have to throw the jars away! It has taken a lot of soaking to get the thin film out of my glass measuring cup and off the spoon!

Lessons learned: No multi-tasking when making jelly, use an over-sized pan for the jelly, and use a thermometer!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pears Pears PEARS!

This is in response to a request I received from my friend (and canning companion!) Stephanie Kinard.  Instead of just giving her the recipes, I decided to make them available to all of you too.

Austin's Mammy gave me the recipe for Pear Preserves.  It's easy and delicious!  The Canned Pears recipe comes from my Southern Living cookbook.  Be sure to follow the directions for canning food safely (look them up here:  It's the National Center for Home Food Preservation).

Pear Preserves   

2 ½ measures of pears (peeled, cored, and sliced or chopped) 
1 measure of sugar 
some lemon juice (maybe about 1 tablespoon per 2 ½ cups pears)   

Cook until tender.  Process in a boiling-water bath canner for 10 minutes.     

Canned Pears   

Peel fruit.  Cut in halves or quarters, and remove cores and pits.   Cut in slices, if desired.  I prevent the fruit from darkening, immerse the cut fruit in a lemon-juice solution (3/4 cup lemon juice to 1 gallon water.   

Prepare the syrup:  3 cups sugar + 4 cups water = about 5 ½ cups   Pack raw pears into sterilized hot jars, leaving ½-inch headspace.  Cover fruit with boiling syrup, leaving ½ -inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and wipe jar rims.  Cover at once with sterilized metal lids and screw on bands.  Process in boiling-water bath for 25 minutes for pints; process 30 minutes for quarts.    

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Banana Pudding

This is the southern way to make banana pudding. Or is banana pudding itself southern? Perhaps this is simply the “old fashioned” way of making it. Either way, it’s cooked and has a meringue (I prefer eating it warm but cold is good too). The recipe came from Southern Living with a few modifications. This is one of those recipes that if you have farm-fresh eggs and pure vanilla extract, you’ll want to use them. I like to throw in an extra egg (for a total of 4 eggs). It gives it a richer texture and thickens it a little more…and it gives you extra meringue for the top! But you’ll have to do your own experimenting.

If you don’t like bananas in this pudding, it’s equally delicious (at least I think so!) without the bananas. But the vanilla wafers are a must!

Don’t let the meringue scare you from trying this recipe. It’s pretty forgiving. I can never get the egg whites truly stiff, they end up more at the “soft peak” stage. I just slap it on top and smooth it out. It turns out fine.

¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
dash of salt
3 egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 12 oz. package vanilla wafers
3-6 medium bananas

Stir together flour, sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan. In a separate bowl, beat together egg yolks and milk. Slowly stir into dry ingredients. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and thick. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Allow to cool until just warm. If you are not using bananas, then you could proceed without the cooling process (the bananas turn black if the pudding is too hot—yes, I know this from experience!). If you’re in a hurry, place some ice in a large plastic or metal bowl and put the saucepan on top. Stir occasionally until warm.

Layer 1/3 of the wafers in a 3 quart baking dish (or smaller individual dishes). Slice bananas and place 1/3 of them over wafers. Pour 1/3 of the custard over bananas. Repeat layers twice.

3 egg whites
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat egg whites (at room temperature) until foamy. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla and beat until blended. Spread over custard mixture, sealing to edge of dish. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown (about 10 minutes).