Tag Archive | recipes

White Sauces – Easy (and From Scratch!)

I found a wonderful “comfort food” recipe on Pinterest the other day. It was just perfect to prepare after being out in the cold temperatures – Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole. It dawned on me, as I was making the dish, that the recipe called for cream of (something or other) soup. I've made my own white sauces for many years. It's easy and you can skip all of the preservatives and chemicals that the canned soups contain.

By simply using three simple ingredients and spending about five minutes of your time, you can create a “cream of” soup (white sauce) for your recipe.

Here's how:

For a cup of white sauce (for creamed and scalloped dishes) simply melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan.

 

Blend in 2 tablespoons of flour, cooking over low heat and stirring until the mixture is smooth and bubbly. Remove it from the heat and stir in 1 cup of milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly for one minute. Done! Season as you wish with salt and pepper, etc.

Here's that comfort food recipe: Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

For two servings, I grilled two chicken breasts and sliced them in serving size pieces in the bottom of an 8 x 8 casserole dish. Then chop some deli-sliced ham and sprinkle over the top of the chicken, followed by thin sliced swiss cheese. Prepare your white sauce (recipe above) and when you bring it to its final boil after adding the milk, ADD a good squeeze of fresh lemon, a dollop of dijon mustard, some salt, smoked paprika and white pepper to the sauce. Stir to incorporate. Pour the sauce over your chicken mixture in the baking dish.

Now, as if this recipe doesn't have enough comfort food calories, you finish the dish with a topping. Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a pan, add 1 cup of Panko crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon of Lawrys seasoning salt and a tablespoon of dried parsley. Combine and sprinkle over the chicken dish.

I baked for 30 minutes until the sauce was bubbly and then stuck the dish under the broiler to finish those Panko breadcrumbs into a golden brown.

Wow – is this good! (certainly not a dinner your waistline or arteries could take on a regular basis, but once in a while was sure delicious!)

Enjoy!

 

 

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Wild Ricing??

Sometimes you just don't realize what a cool childhood you had. Things that we feel are “normal and every day” are foreign to others. Let me tell you of one of those ah-ha moments.

Last evening we had a neighborhood get-together where everyone brings a crockpot of soup. We share the soup and eat like kings! I made a wild rice/ham soup using the wild rice that my parents had picked in Minnesota.

When I mentioned that it was hand-picked and processed, people were a bit mystified……rice? Did you grow up near a rice pattie? How do you pick it?

Well, “ricing” was an actual season in Minnesota – the same as fishing season and hunting season. The wild rice (which is actually an aquatic grass) grows in shallow water in lakes or slow-flowing streams and rivers. My family would rice in the area lakes and slow-moving waters of the Mississippi River where the plants grew in areas of slow or no current. Ricing season was during the last part of August and first part of September. The Division of Natural Resources controlled the season and you had to purchase a license to be able to rice. You were not allowed to rice with any motorized boat – the vessel had to be propelled by muscle power only. My parents used a canoe and my Dad pushed the canoe through the water with a big pole that had “feet” on the bottom of it. As he pushed, my Mom sat in the middle of the canoe with two 3-foot sticks. She would reach out to the right with one stick pulling the rice stalks over the boat and then would knock the heads off with the second stick. Then she would repeat the process with the same sticks, only working on the left side of the canoe. They worked back and forth, in this way, through the wild rice patch. You certainly ran the risk of losing all of your rice if you tipped the canoe over, so many would unload mid-day just in case!

There were always buyers on the shore to buy your “green” rice, or you could take it in to be processed for your own use. My family always had a burlap bag of processed rice and we ate it often. One of our family favorites was wild rice pancakes where my Mom added cooked wild rice to our pancake batter. (You want to talk about a flapjack that would stick with ya – that was it! Try it!)

 

So, here is the recipe for the Wild Rice Ham Soup that we enjoyed last night. It's hearty and delicious!

Since I was preparing for a lot of people, this recipe will serve 12 and fill a good-sized crockpot. First, bring 2 cups of rice and six cups of water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45-60 minutes. Your rice will pop open when it is done – taste it to be sure.

 

Then in a separate pot, melt 3/4 cup of butter and sauté a small diced onion in the butter. After the onion is done, blend in one cup of flour until smooth and then gradually add six cups of chicken broth. Stir this mixture constantly as it thickens until it comes to a boil, then reduce the heat and stir in your cooked wild rice, 1 and 1/2 cups of diced ham, a cup of shredded carrots, 1/4 cup of slivered almonds. Cook for an additional few minutes and then add 2 cups of half and half just before serving.

 

Easter Dinner – en Croute!

The crew is coming here for our Easter celebration. I'm sure we will have bright eyes and smiles as the little ones come with their baskets to see what the Easter bunny has left for them!

It reminds me of an Easter Sunday just two years ago. Our family was blessed with five Swedish visitors, three of which would stay on with us for almost a month. They were chosen by their school to come to Colorado in a study to compare Sweden to America and how we use our horses! Of the other two visitors, one was a beautiful girl who had spent her senior year with us as an exchange student in the 1990s.

So, what better place to show our American horse heritage than on a ranch? Our eager visitors jumped in head first – learning how to move cattle, tag newborn calves, and even helping on branding day.

It was a month we all remember fondly!

Happy Easter girls!!!

A special Easter Dinner this year will be both Pork and Beef Tenderloins en Croute.

So…what's en croute? Sounds pretty fancy, huh? It typically means “to wrap”, so our holiday dinner will be wrapped in pastry. Since we raise our own beef and pork, we often put the tenderloins away for a special occasion.

Begin by taking a 3-4 pound tenderloin and roast it in 425 degree oven until it reaches 130 degrees. Remove it from the oven and place it in the refrigerator to cool. The reason we do this is so that the meat is “partially” roasted when you fold it inside the pastry.

Next, take 1/2 pound of finely chopped mushrooms and sauté in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add one 8 ounce container of your favorite cream cheese with herbs and garlic. (You can find it pre-packaged at the grocery store, or you can add your own favorite herbs yourself). Combine the mushrooms, cream cheese, 1/4 cup of dry bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons of Madeira wine or fruit juice of your choice. Finish the mixture with one tablespoon of freshly chopped chives and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let this mixture cool.

The recipes that I have always used call for you to wrap your tenderloin in “puff pastry” sheets. Feel free to do that if you wish. I like to prepare a dough in my bread maker, any of your favorite bread recipes will work – just set your machine on the dough setting. This gives you even more control of the flavor surrounding your tenderloin.

Lay your pastry on a lightly floured surface and place the tenderloin in the middle. Spread the mushroom/cream cheese mixture over the meat and fold the pastry around it. Just like wrapping a present! Press the edges of the pastry to seal, and brush your masterpiece with an egg wash. Place in a greased pan for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. (Remember, we pre-baked the tenderloin, so it will basically just reheat inside the pastry envelope.)

 

Pork Tenderloin en Croute

If your group enjoys pork as much as mine does, try this slightly different version:

Using a 2 pound pork tenderloin, wrap with four pieces of prosciutto. Top with two teaspoons of Dijon mustard and a pinch of dried rosemary. You will note that you do not pre-bake the pork before wrapping it in your pastry. Poke three holes in the top of the pastry to allow the steam to escape. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes double checking the pork's progress with a meat thermometer. Let rest for five minutes.

Have a blessed Easter!

 

Hide!! It’s the Neighbor With All of the Zucchini!

You've been there – I know. You have either grown zucchini or you have a neighbor who has. Thinking that they will (surely) never all grow, you plant 4 or 5 zucchini plants and before you know it, you are loading up the truck and driving up and down the neighborhood trying to give them away. Right?

 

With zucchini, a little goes a long way. I normally plant one or two hills (with a few seeds in each hill), and then prune the emerging seed plants from the hill to one or two plants total. I do have neighbors who like a few zucchini, but the majority of my pickings end up being shredded and frozen for use all through the year. There are two recipes that are our ABSOLUTE favorites around here and were originally given to me by my neighbor, Jennifer.

Here is a bag of shredded zucchini taken right from the freezer from the end of the 2012 growing season

First is the Tastes Like Apple Zucchini Crisp. Not only does this recipe use eight cups of zucchini, (really helpful on those days that you check the garden and they are everywhere!) but, I have made this recipe on numerous times – served it as Apple Crisp – and have yet to have anyone know the difference. Even when asked, my hungry consumers look at me as if I am lying when I say, “did you know this is zucchini?” Try this recipe and see if you believe me!

Recipe #1, Tastes Like Apple Zucchini Crisp

8 cups peeled zucchini. I slice them like you would if you were using apples

3/4 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon if nutmeg

 

Topping:

1 1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1 cup of flour

2/3 cup cold butter

Mix the first five ingredients well and pour into a 9 x13″ baking dish. For the topping, combine the brown sugar, oats, and flour – then cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.

Sprinkle the topping mix over the zucchini mix and bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes. The smell of 'apples' baking will fill your kitchen!

 

The second recipe will appeal to the chocolate lover in you. The brownies are ooey, gooey – and stay moist for a long time.

Zucchini Brownies

2 cups of grated unpeeled zucchini

2 cups of flour

1 1/2 cups of sugar

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoon baking sod

1/3 cup cocoa

2 teaspoons of vanilla

This is what the batter looks like as you stir it all up – note the small shreds of zucchini.

Mix all, place in a greased and floured 9 x 13″ pan and bake for 30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

 

If you want to frost these guys, combine 4 tablespoons of butter with 4 tablespoons of milk and a cup of granulated sugar. Boil for two minutes, add 2 cups of chocolate chips, stir until melted and pour over the warm brownies.

Ready to plant some zucchini this spring?? Just remember, if you don't want the neighbors hiding from you as you try to pass out your excess pickings, just plant what you think you will eat or freeze for the year. One trick I use is to pinch the orange zucchini blossoms off the plant when it seems like it is really in high production. The female flower is easy to spot – it will have the little round circular ball by the flower which will eventually become the zucchini. Just pinch it off, and the plant will never miss it.

There are many, many wonderful uses for this veggie, including casseroles and side dishes. Plant your seeds when all of the danger of frost has passed, and be sure to harvest one final time in the fall before the plant freezes. It is a tender annual and will be one of the first to die when old man winter comes knocking!

 

New England Baked Shrimp

When I get a “hankering” for some delicious seafood, my favorite way to prepare it is with the following recipe. Gone are the days in our household where deep fried shrimp is served. THIS recipe is not only delicious, it is quick and easy to prepare and has a low calorie count (190 calories per serving). It works on all kinds of white fish – halibut, cod, and mmmmm – walleye. Give it a try!

New England Baked Shrimp

2 tablespoons of butter

1/2 cup dried bread crumbs

1/2 clove of garlic, crushed

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 pound fresh large shrimp

In a small saucepan, melt your butter and stir in the bread crumbs, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Remove from the burner and cool. Shell and devein your shrimp; cut through lengthwise until almost split. Flatten and place in a single layer in a medium sized baking pan. Spread each shrimp with a scant tablespoon of the crumb mixture. Bake 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees until shrimp are tender.

The shrimp come out of the oven with a wonderful garlic, cheesy flavor with a slight breadcrumb coating and boy, they are good!


A couple of months ago, I read an article about bread crumbs. Yup – not all breadcrumbs are created equal!

I enjoy making my own bread, but there are times when you don't get to the end of loaf fast enough and the bread gets kind of dry. I just pop the slices on a cookie sheet and let them totally dry out, then hit then with a rolling pin to make my own bread crumbs. They are great for this recipe. The article I read on bread crumbs told me that the package you purchase in the store of your favorite bread crumbs is perhaps more than you bargained for. So, last time through the grocery store, I had to see for myself. Here is the list of ingredients on the back of one particular bread crumb container.

I will continue to use my “day old bread” for breadcrumbs. Who knew?

 

Mom’s Good Luck Bread

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My memories see rows of ripe, red raspberries, plump peas hanging from the vine, and baskets of freshly dug potatoes. Lots of potatoes. Growing up in the midwest in a Scandinavian family, potatoes were a staple. My Dad loved them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if my Mom would fix them for him.

Food was harvested from the land whenever possible, whether it be from the garden, fresh venison or grouse, fish from the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, or picking wild blueberries in the woods. The food was fresh, and OH, so good! I barely remember a box food besides my favorite breakfast cereal. It’s clear that, as the generations unfold, many ways are forgotten or lost.

My Mom gave me the recipe for her bread years and years ago. It was handwritten on a small piece of paper, and the heading on the paper read, “Good Luck”, I think more in keeping with my ability to make the bread than this bread being called the good luck bread! Her ingredients weren’t exact, but were written to say things like “add flour until it feels like”, or “scald the milk, but don’t boil tho”. The scrap of paper with my “Good Luck” bread followed me and my family for years from house to house always stuck in the recipe box – but one day, it was gone. I tore through my collection of recipes, frantic to find the paper. Nowhere! You’d think after years of preparing this bread, I could recite it by heart, and to that end – yup, I almost can. But I still looked for it, hoping to this day to see that slip of paper with Mom’s handwriting on it. So, before it gets lost again in another shuffle, here’s our “Good Luck” bread recipe.

Good Luck Bread

1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
1/2 cup warm milk
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon of salt
3 3/4 cup flour
1 pkg. yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

I use my breadmaker for this recipe – setting the machine on the ‘dough’ cycle. Always put your wet ingredients in the bottom of the breadmaker pan first – followed by the dry ingedients.

As the dough is getting mixed, lift the lid on your breadmaker just to feel the consistency of the dough. Add a little bit of flour if it feels too sticky, or a little lukewarm water if it feel too dry. You’ll want it to mold easily, but not stick to your fingers. When the dough cycles is finished, let it rise until you can poke the doughball with your finger and the hole remains in your dough.

Mom often made “finger rolls” from this recipe – and it was a favorite around our house for sure! Cut your dough into eight (or so) equal pieces and shape each portion into a “finger” laying each side by side in the pan.

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