Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Candied Sweet Potatoes

In my post Christmas post (that sounds kind of funny but that's what it was), I mentioned we didn't really follow recipes, which we didn't, but I thought I would share my mom's "recipe" for these sweet, yummy sweet potatoes.  My mom has been making these for as long as I can remember and it is one of our favorites.  If you could have heard us as we ate these, we kept telling ourselves how "healthy" these were. Sure, the yam is healthy, but after you smother it in butter, brown sugar, karo syrup and cream, something tells me we may have compromised the "healthiness" of this vegetable...after all, look at the name I give them...Candied Sweet Potatoes.  I should also note that I used a new lens to take this picture, I think it is working pretty good. You can actually SEE the butter..yum!  Thanks mom for the recipe!

Sweet Potato recipe:  5-6 Yams, peeled and cut into pieces about the same size.  Start in a pan of cold water and bring to a boil for about 15-20 minutes until slightly tender when poked with a fork.  Drain and put into a 9x13 slightly greased glass baking dish.  In sauce pan heat about 3/4 cup butter with 1 to 1 &1/2  cups of light brown sugar and about 2 tbsp light Karo Syrup and 2 to 3 tablespoons  of whipping cream, stirring continuously until butter and sugar are melted and blended with syrup and cream.  Pour over the cooked sweet potatoes and heat in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Can be cooked ahead of time, refrigerated and then reheated about 20 minutes before serving.  Baste potatoes with the sauce and serve.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sometimes the best recipe is...No Recipe!

This is the first time in a few months where I have taken a 7 day vacation from posting.  I will admit, I have been enjoying the holiday season, too much, if you base the enjoyment factor on food and drink consumption.  Lots of cooking took place over the course of Dec 24th and 25th, and to be down right honest, we didn't make a single recipe directly from my Grandma's recipe boxes.   Yet,  our Christmas dinner was exactly like she would have prepared.  See, in our family, there really isn't a recipe for that truly special Thanksgiving or Christmas  meal.  Christmas dinner starts with planning and shopping days (and this year, thanks to my sister's enthusiasm, weeks) in advance.  The menu is almost always the same, with an occasional new twist added.  Frankly, I wouldn't have it any other way.  We had our  turkey, ham, gravy, candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, dressing, cranberries, rolls, pumpkin pie, apple pie, chocolate pie, banana pie and cheese cake ( read that right!).  This Christmas, cooking was truly a family affair.  We were cooking for 16 people with one oven and one refrigerator (thank goodness for Colorado snow!) We had to have a plan and everyone had a role.  We only referred to recipes twice, once for the rolls, in the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book and once at an online crock pot dressing recipe I found at Thanksgiving.  My mom had responsibility for the candied sweet potatoes and rolls, my dad was leading us through the turkey and ham preparation (and he was the master potato peeler), my sister and her friend prepared pie after pie and the gravy and I took care of the cranberries and dressing. With extreme orchestration, planning, cooperation and just good company, we prepared a meal for 16 friends and family and every dish was served hot!  We were so busy cooking, laughing, and washing dishes, that I didn't take many pictures, but the ones I did take will make for good memories.  We were blessed in so many ways and my mom, my sister and I made my Grandma proud.

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Blog has gone to the Dogs

As the holiday's approach and sweets are everywhere, including my kitchen, I was anxious to keep cooking but to find a break from all the sweet stuff.  But then, I saw these great little cookie cut outs that I bought a couple of Christmases ago and I felt I just had to use them.  Naturally my first thought was to head to the recipe boxes and find a sugar cookie recipe...which I know there are several.  But doing that didn't help with this "sugar break" Bubba and I need to take, and then it hit me...why not make some cookies for the dogs, well not really cookies, but maybe some dog treats.  It occurred to me that I probably had everything it would take, so I set out on one of my internet searches and found the recipe below...did I mention how much I like browsing the internet for recipes?  Well, I found the following and the rest is "kids" are munching on little candy canes, stars, snowmen, trees and mittens..

Oatmeal Wheat Dog Biscuit Treats
Recipe by: Michelle Stewart

1 cup uncooked oatmeal
1 tablespoon bouillon granules (beef, chicken or vegetable)
3/4 cups powdered milk
1 egg, beaten
1/3 c margarine
1 1/2 cups hot water
3/4 cups cornmeal
3 cups whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 325 F.
In a large bowl pour hot water over oatmeal, margerine, and bouillon granules: let stand 5 minutes.
Stir in powdered milk, cornmeal and egg. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Knead 3 to 4 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to make a very stiff dough. Pat or roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into bone shapes and place on a greased baking sheet.
Bake for 50 minutes. Allow to cool and dry out until hard.
Makes approximately 1 3/4 pounds. Store in an airtight container

Storing Dog Treats
In general you should store dog treats the same way you would homemade people cookies.  That being said, there are two main variables that determine storage time - the amount and type of fat in the recipe and your local weather conditions.  If your recipe uses fats such as butter, or meat bits or juices then it will be more prone to rancidity than a recipe that uses some vegetable oil or shortening.  Your treats may mold or spoil much faster in humid or very hot climates. 

Refrigeration and Freezing -  Refrigeration will prolong the life of more fragile dog treats. Make sure to store in a tightly sealed container or zip lock bag.  You can also freeze most treats in zip lock freezer bags.  Allow to thaw completely before use.

Here's the picture of who will benefit from these yummy treats...and I know they definitely noticed that some of the treats are shaped like Christmas trees and stars and mittens and snowmen...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Joan Mondale's Meat Loaf

It's fun to spend time with the hand written recipes in My Grandma's recipe boxes and it is equally as interesting to look at the newspaper clippings that are included.  I can tell by the way the pages are folded which recipe's "caught her eye" or were the one's she made regularly.  I have to admit, I have a cupboard full of recipes cut out of the newspaper or torn out of magazines too.  At least I know I came by this habit honestly (she handed it down to my mom, who handed it down to me!).  My recipe today was one I went searching for as Bubba commented he needed a break from sugar and wanted some MEAT!.  Well, Meat it is...Meat Loaf to be precise.  My Grandma had torn an entire page from the Sunday Family Weekly section of her newspaper...some of you may remember that as an insert to your paper.  This particular section is titled "Smart Cooking/by Marilyn Hansen" and on this  Sunday (January 9, 1977) her title was "Rosalynn Carter and Joan Mondale share their favorite recipes".  What's special about this, in my mind, is the dinner conversation this recipe spurred.  Now Bubba and I don't talk much about politics, but on this Sunday, from Heaven, my Grandma, the first grade teacher, spurred an educational discussion between us.  We spent the rest of our dinner, talking about who the Presidents have been over the last 30 years...this is NOT a conversation we would have had, if not for a Meat Loaf recipe from my Grandma's recipe box.

Meat Loaf

Joan Mondale
1 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 cups milk
1 lb. ground beef
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped green pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 egg
1 can (8 ozs) tomato sauce
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and grease 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.
2. In medium bowl throughly combine all ingredients but use only half-can of tomato sauce. 3.  Turn meat mixture into loaf pan; smooth surface and top with remaining tomato sauce.  Bake 45 to 60 minutes.  Makes 4 or 5 servings.

I don't recall the Bubba rating on this one, but I think I can safely say it would get an "S".  Not sure this would be the meatloaf recipe I would set aside as a "must make again", and based on the fact that this recipe isn't torn, worn  or dirty, I don't think my Grandma made it more than once (if that).

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chewy Pecan Squares

So anyone who has been following along knows about the big bag of Texas pecans I bought a while back. Well this recipe was the final use of first I couldn't wait to use them up, now I am wishing I had some more...funny how that happens.  These Chewy Pecan Squares are exactly like the recipe says...chewy in the middle and crunchy around the edges...and what makes these unique (in my mind at least) is that mayonnaise (yes, that's what I said) takes the place of any butter, egg or liquid.  Bubba gave these an 8+ (ugh...he just can't change to my 1st grade rating scale).
Chewy Pecan Squares
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup BF Mayonnaise
1 tsp vanilla
1 C. all purpose flour mixed with 1 tsp baking powder
3/4 C. chopped pecans
In a large bowl mix sugar, mayonnaise and vanilla until well blended.  Stir in flour mixture and 1/2 c. pecans (dough will be thick and sticky).  Press into well greased 8 inch square baking pan.  Sprinkle with remaining pecans.  Press into dough.  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 15 minutes or until pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a rack.  Cookies are soft while hot but firm when cool.  Cut in 12 squares.
Mayonnaise takes the place of eggs, liquid and butter in these chewy in the middle, crunchy around the edges.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Recipe with no name - turns out the back side is the fun part

This is the second recipe I've come across in my Grandma's recipe boxes that didn't have a name. The last one turned out to be corn bread.  It's hard to explain why or how I came across this one,  I wasn't really looking for a cake recipe or anything sweet (Bubba and I are getting a little burned out on all the sweet stuff) but for some reason I pulled this one it, read it again...realized I didn't know what it was and decided to see what was on the other side...and there in lies the magic.  Keep in mind...I am sitting in my living room, surrounded by Christmas cards that we have received, Christmas cards that need mailed, stocking stuffers that need packed for the upcoming trip and I am looking at recipes, only to find "on the other side", the words to that popular Christmas carol "Up on the Roof Top".  Remember now, I have 7 different recipe boxes that I could be looking at, on this day, I pick this one.  I say "devine" Grandma, who loved Christmas knew I needed to have a little more Christmas spirit and that a good ole carol like this one might do the trick!  So, in case you don't remember the they are...(Recipe Style - 1st verse only).

Up on the Roof Top
Up on the house tops reindeer pause
Out jumps good old Santa Clause
Down thru the Chimney with lots of toys
All for the little one's Christmas joys
Ho Ho Ho Who wouldn't go
Ho Ho Ho Who wouldn't go
Up on the house top Click Click Click
Down thru the chimney with Good St. Nick

In case you are wondering about the recipe...I am enclosing it too.  I really don't know what this is..looks like it might be for Angel food cake...I didn't make it today...will have to try it some other time...

Monday, December 14, 2009


In shopping for Christmas presents, or should I say, my favorite part...stocking stuffers, I came across a gift that will be given to someone who shall remain nameless for now.  I also can't go in to a lot of detail about the gift because then I would give it away, but I did find some things very interesting that I want to share with you now because what I learned explains so much about what I have been finding as I cook my way through my Grandma's recipe boxes.  There is a writer, by the name of Marianne Banes, who has written an article called "How to Read a Recipe".  It would seem like she wrote this article, just to explain to me why my Grandma's recipes often lack so many details.   She starts by taking us back 200 years ago where in the US recipes were more like notes about favorite dishes.  These notes were passed on from grandmother to mother to daughter while they spent hours together in the kitchen.  Sometimes these notes or recipes would simply contain the list of ingredients (I have seen several of these in my Grandma's recipe box) with very few instructions (how many times have I mentioned this so far in my short time posting about my Grandma's recipes).  Marianne writes that "early recipes were often referred to as "receipts" to differentiate between a doctors orders to pharmacists called "recipes", both from the Latin word recipere, meaning "to take"."  Later (mid nineteenth century), the word "recipe" became the more generally accepted word used in Europe and America as the common term for culinary directions in cookbooks.  The rest of her article breaks down how a recipe should be properly written so that anyone preparing the dish, would know what to do...boy have I needed some of that recently.  So, if you have a few minutes...look back over the recipe's I have posted..what you will see is that in many cases, I have simply provided a list of ingredients and the secrets to the preparation have been left "in the kitchen".

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chocolate Cookies

Lately I have been been spending some time in the "cookie" sections of my Grandma's recipe boxes.  There are plenty of cookie choices to sort through and I can find a recipe to solve many different pecans that should be cooked, the cook's craving for chocolate or a use for some of that leftover Halloween candy....yep, still had some Hershey Bars left over so I was looking for a way to solve for that too!  I can't imagine my Grandma making these, but I can imagine her tasting them and wanting the recipe.  The reason I know she would have liked them was she loved chocolate. In fact, we have a "family" recipe for fudge that I doubt I will ever share in my blog...I might make it and take a picture for you, but I have come to believe that it is "top secret" and can't be shared.  My Grandma also loved Chocolate covered cherries...she always had some, tucked away in the back of the refrigerator where unless you were looking for them, you wouldn't see them.  And another thing about my Grandma...she LOVED Russell Stover's candy...give her box of chocolates and she was as happy with this as she would have been if you'd of given her a million bucks!  As to why I don't think she would have made these...well, I just don't think she would have had the patience to "frost" a bunch of cookies...for the work, she would have just made fudge or reached for a piece of that Russell Stover's candy.  Bubba is having a hard time adjusting to the new scale, so he did give these a "7" (which proves my point), so I would convert these to a "S".  PS...this recipe has no directions...just contents...I have some theories I plan to share with you in an upcoming post about these lack of directions, etc.

Chocolate Cookies

2 sq. choc. melted - added last
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
1 egg - don't beat
1/2 c. milk
1 c. nuts
1 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp B. powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Bake 370 to 400 degrees F.
Frost with hersheys. 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Spicy Buffalo Chili

It was an unusually cool weekend in Texas, not that we don't have cool weather here, we just don't get as much of it as Nebraska, Wyoming or Colorado (some of my favorite places).  I was also anticipating the big football game between my beloved Cornhuskers and the Texas Longhorns and was looking for something we could eat while watching the game...hence "Chili".  Not long ago, I purchased some ground buffalo meat because I had been hearing about how it's all some people will buy, and decided it was time I check it out.  Now, logically (or not) you might think that my Grandma would have a recipe for Buffalo chili in her boxes, but that isn't the case.  Now really, other than she grew up in the early 1900's (Little House on the Prairie era-sort of), and I suspect she could have ridden in a covered wagon across the plains and could have experienced a real live buffalo on the prairie, I am not sure why I would think she would have a Buffalo Chili recipe.  Any way, I went on my internet search and found a recipe similar to the attached recipe.  I made some edits because I didn't have the exact ingredients and I would definitely use buffalo again and I would make this again, with some modifications to meet our tastes.  None the less, here is the recipe adapted from a Spicy Buffalo Chili recipe by John Mitzewich at

Spicy Buffalo Chili
1 tablespoon olive
1 pound ground buffalo mea
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 can (14-oz) diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chili powder (I used less, more by mistake but didn’t regret it..this is spicy so it depends on how much you like this kind of chili flavor)
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground chipotle pepper
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 cups beef broth, or water
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained
 water as needed
In a large pan, over med-high heat, cook the buffalo in the oil until browned and broken in small pieces. Add the onions and red pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. 
Combine the remaining ingredients in your crock pot, add the meat and cook on low for 8 hours.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Jackson Cookies

I have had this recipe sitting out for a while now, thinking that I really needed to make it.  It didn't hurt that I have this wonderful (ly expensive) bag of Texas pecans begging to be put to use.  I must admit, this recipe has me completely baffled.  There aren't too many ingredients and once again, there are even fewer directions.  But, the ones that ARE included seem completely clear, yet after about 9 minutes in the oven I was running back to the recipe to see if I had "screwed" up again.  Actually, I don't think I did, but to call these "cookies" is crazy.  Too call them "bars" would be crazy too.  I think it's cake!!!  That's all I'm gonna say.  I think Bubba would give me an "S" for this recipe.  It's flavorful (Nutmeg and cinnamon are a great combination)but it's just not a cookie and it is "spicy".  This is one that I don't know if I'll ever know what is right or wrong with what I did.  This recipe is from "Oletha" and perhaps if she were around, she could give me the scoop.  Maybe someday, someone will read this and fill in the missing pieces for me.  Anyway, this is one that I would say...bake at your own risk.

Jackson Cookies
1 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
Cream together
3 eggs beaten - add to above
1/4 c. milk
1/2 tsp soda
pinch of salt
Stir into mixture
2 c. flour
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. pecans
Mix well and stir into mixture.
Spread on shallow well greased pan and bake in 375 degree F oven for 10 or 12 minutes. Remove from oven. Cut into squares while hot.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Turkey or Chicken Casserole

Like many of you, we had plenty of turkey left over from Thanksgiving and I was just waiting for the opportunity to put at least one of my Grandma's casserole recipes to good use.  I should start off by saying that Bubba was quick to give me a rating for this recent recipe, which I attribute to the fact that I had "shut him out" on the last recipe.  All that said, he kindly gave this Turkey (or Chicken) Casserole a "7".  Yep, that's right, a "7".  I may as well have a 3 to 8 scale, since I don't think I stand a chance of anything less than a 3 or higher than a 8.  My Grandma, the teacher, would probably coach Bubba on how to grade on the curve...except there is probably one problem, she taught 1st grade and I think the scale was simply Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory (no curve).  In fact, as of this moment, in honor of my Grandma, I am changing the rating scale, it's either S or U, or I guess I could add S+.  Bubba will learn of the new rating scale when he reads this...I'll let you know how he reacts.  Back to the food...this recipe is tasty and a good use of left over turkey.  I made it a day ahead and I am glad I did, I think the time it had for the flavors to meld was worth it.  I also took the opportunity to use some of the remaining green onions from Thanksgiving and probably added a little more green pepper than the recipe called for.

Turkey or Chicken Casserole
1 1/4 cups spaghetti (broken into pieces)
1 1/2 to 2 cups cut up cooked fowl (who calls it fowl these days?)
1/4 c. diced pimentos
1/4 c. chopped green pepper
1/2 c. chopped small onion
1  can condensed cream of mushroom soup (undiluted)
1/2 c. turkey broth or water (I used chicken broth left over from Thanksgiving)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 3/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
Early in day or night before, if preferred - cook spaghetti, as package directs, drain.  Place turkey, pimento, green pepper and onion in 1 1/2 qt casserole.  Pour in mushroom soup and turkey broth, add salt, pepper and 1 1/4 cups of grated cheese and spaghetti.  With two forks, lightly toss until all is well mixed and coated with sauce.  Sprinkle remaining 1/2 c. grated cheese on top of turkey mixture.  Chill about 1 hour before dinner.  Heat oven - Bake casserole mixture until bubbly through out. (I baked it at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes, it was very cold as it had been in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

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