Posted in The Party's in the Kitchen

Breathe

ctmI am a little melancholy this morning.

One of my daughters and her family has been visiting for the week and we have had a marvelous time. Today, they off visiting with another family member before heading home tomorrow. It’s been wonderful having them here. Their presence created a flow of gatherings and talking and grandkids and talking and cooking good things to eat and talking. I am sad to see it all end.

This kind of coming together is the life breath of a family. It rejuvenates, invigorating the connections between its members. And the kids. . .they brought back memories of the past when I was one of the cousins, trying to make the most of every moment before the playing ended and everyone went back to their far away homes. So precious to watch.

As we stood last night waving family members off as they departed after a wonderful evening of visiting, it was said, “This sure was nice. Why don’t we do this more often?” Yes, why not? Busyness and its exchange of the blissful for the rush, rush, rush gets in the way. Maybe that is why we appreciate the moments of togetherness more, because they are different from the rest of life’s activities.

So with that said, I am back to the routine, waiting for the next opportunity for a get-together to happen so I can catch my breath.

“Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life!” -Albert Einstein


Several family members have food allergies so I tried some new gluten-free recipes. While experimenting, I came across 1 to 1 Baking Four from Bob’s Red Mill. It can be used in place of wheat flour without any other changes. I have tried it in several of my go-to recipes and it has worked beautifully.

One thing we made were some goldfish crackers. I used this recipe from the Huppie Mama. They turned out great and passed the grandkids’ High Standards Test. We cut ours out with a flower shape. We tried others, but anything with a sharp point didn’t work for us. I imagine regular flour will work just the same as the specialty flour.

Gluten Free Goldfish Crackers

  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 8 oz. of your favorite cheese, shredded (We used cheddar.)
  • 4 T cold butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 T cold water

Check the link for great pictures of the process.

  1. Begin by combining flour, cheese, cold butter, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until a sand-like texture has been created. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until your dough forms.
  2. Refrigerate your dough for about a half hour. At that time, remove half the dough from the refrigerator and allow the other half to continue to chill (grab it when you need it). Roll your dough until you reach the desired thickness, about 1/3″ thick. I recommend flouring your surface first so they don’t stick. The kids loved helping with this part!
  3. At this time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Using cutter, cut crackers out of the dough. Depending on the size of your cutter, you will probably get between 4 – 6 dozen crackers. Lay them on a parchment or silicone lined cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes, depending upon the thickness of your dough and how browned you want them to be along the edges. You will have to work in batches to bake all of them.
  5. Enjoy!

Hero cracker3

Hero cracker2 Hero cracker1

If you like what you see here, head on over to another blog I write—Girl on Adventure. Hope to see you over there. The journey is always better when shared with friends.

Posted in The Party's in the Kitchen

I Do Love a Good Potluck!

Fourth of July is upon us. Friends, family and FEASTING! Bring on the potluck!

Have you ever wondered where the term potluck came from? It seems a strange name a meal where people gather and food is shared. The orginal term, a pot of luck, was used to descibe what would be served to an unexpected or an uninvited guest. You got what you got.

I am so glad that down through the ages, the word has taken on a new meaning. Now it has become a way of offering hospitality away from home. No longer a ‘you get what you’ get meal. Extraordinary recipes are carried in covered dishes to gatherings. There may even be a bit of friendly completion going on amongst the cooks. Yumminess abounds. I think LUCK does come to mind when sampling the best my friends’ kitchens have to offer.

carrot saladAs I considered what I might bring to the TWO potlucks I have been invited to (lucky me), I was reminded of a Marinated Carrot Salad that was at every gathering when I was a kid. So, I stirred some up this week to see if it was as good as I remember. It was and it will be coming to the gatherings with me. I can’t wait to see what else shows up. Between my friends and I, a delectable feast is sure to happen.

“We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly.”

Anna Thomas


There are many recipes out there for this salad. I go for a very easy combination that has a great taste.

Marinated Carrot Salad

  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1/2 vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Steam sliced carrots to a crisp tender.
  2. In bowl whisk together soup, oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
  3. Add steamed carrots, bell pepper and onion.
  4. Cover and chill for several hours.

Enjoy! So tell me, what are you taking to your gathering?

Posted in The Party's in the Kitchen

Clean Enough

dirtydishesI received this memo today via Facebook. Thank you for the reminder, Sharon.  So often we find ourselves caught up in the if you just knew my life excuses when it comes to sharing hospitality. The graphic actually brought to mind that little potty training book Everybody Poops by Taro Gomi. This plotless little story states the inevitable—Everyone is the same on a very basic level. We are all very much alike.

Yes, we all know people that seem to have it all together. Their homes are beautiful. Their bathrooms are sparkly. Their kitchen looks as though it was the housekeeper’s day in. Ah. . .perfection. Or is it?

We usually visit others on their good day, meaning: they knew you were coming so they tidied up. If we happened to stop by on any other day, we might find piles of laundry to be folded, dishes waiting to be loaded and just general everydayness happening. Their house, like ours, would be a testimony to a life full of living.

There used to be a saying that hung on everyone’s wall that goes a little like this—Our home is clean enough to be healthy but dirty enough to be happy. Perhaps we should take that to heart. Do not miss out on any more opportunities to enjoy a happy gathering with friends or family even if there are dishes in the sink. Their sink probably looks just like yours.

“Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like

shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.”

Phyllis Diller


Here’s a quick little recipe that requires no mixing bowl for your sink yet yields a pretty delicious dessert.

Dump Cake

  • Fruit, fresh or canned. [If fresh, peel, core and slice into a size you would like to bite. You may want to add sugar for your desired sweetness.] Two 15 ounce cans or approx. 4 cups. My very favorite is a combo of apricots and pineapple.
  • Yellow cake mix
  • Cube [1/2 cup] of butter. Two is actually better but this is totally up to you.
  1. Spread fruit in bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Top with dry cake mix.
  3. Thinly slice butter and cover the top of the dry mix. You can melt the butter to drizzle if you like. Both methods work fine.
  4. Bake in 350 degree oven until top is browned. Thirty to forty-five minutes.
  5. Ice cream is a must when it cools enough to serve.

Enjoy!


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Posted in The Party's in the Kitchen

Oh, For the Love of Food!

“Then the angel said to me. . .’Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ “ And he added, “These are the true words of God.” 

Revelation 19:9


apple plateThere are days when I can’t wait to get to heaven.  I can just picture it.  The celebrating! The excitement! The food!!!

Yes, I admit it. I love food. That’s part of the reason I have pounds to spare on my body. But in heaven. . .in my new body. . .Hmmm. . .Maybe mine will be the perfect figure.

I not only love to eat food but I also like to prepare it.  Cooking is something I do just for fun.  My daughter has termed it Recreational Cooking. I gain much satisfaction from planning, preparing and executing a meal. These past few days, I have been reminded of some excellent recipes that fit into a healthy eating plan so from time to time I will be sharing some that I find not only delicious but also satisfying.

Part of the problem in my life is that there are so many events that include eating. Parties, Bible studies, and family outings all seem to throw a wrench in the works when it comes to eating healthy. The following recipe for Crust-less Broccoli Quiche is great for a brunch or lite dinner. For my Weight Watcher friends it is 4 points per serving. I like to substitute spinach or some sun dried tomatoes for the broccoli. Feta cheese goes well with the spinach. I have also made it without the bread and it works well.


 “Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship.

It is of great importance to the morale.”

Elsa Schiaparelli


Crust-less Broccoli Quiche

4 eggs

1-1/4 cups 1% milk

3 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed, cubed

4 cups small broccoli florets, cooked, chopped

1 cup chopped onions

3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Beat eggs and milk with wire whisk until well blended. Add bread; mix lightly. Stir in remaining ingredients until well blended.

POUR into 9-inch square baking dish.

BAKE 45 min. or until center is set and crust is lightly browned. Let stand 10 min. before cutting to serve.

Serves 6 — 180 calories, 9 fats, 3 fibers —  4 ww pts.

Enjoy!

Posted in The Party's in the Kitchen

Big Box to the Rescue!

watermelonThere are times in life when the stress rises. This week is one of those times. All of our year end events are taking place, one is a party for a group of ladies who faithfully serve in leadership ministry. Being that girl who is comfortable around the kitchen, I am responsible for putting the food together. Usually, I am excited for the opportunity to cook something special but this week it’s not the only event that is drawing on my energies.

So, it’s Big Box to the rescue! I was able to put a menu together for fifty that would require a minimal work in my kitchen. In fact, the advance prep only took about an hour. I chose rotisserie chicken that is already boned to make into Cashew Chicken Salad Sandwiches. We will also enjoy Deviled Eggs, two different pre-made vegetable salads, watermelon and assorted cookies. Easy Peasy. And I believe everyone will be satisfied not so much because of the food, but that they spent time laughing and enjoying each others company.

It’s easy to impress me. I don’t need a fancy party to be happy.
Just good friends, good food, and good laughs. I’m happy. I’m satisfied. I’m content.
~Maria Sharapova

This is my daughter’s recipe. Enjoy!

Genny’s Cashew Chicken Salad Sandwiches

I like to serve this simple recipe on crescents. I get the mini crescents from Winco. They make the perfect little finger sandwiches.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, baked and diced
4 green onions, chopped
2/3 cup cashews (the cashew pieces are fine)
1 cup mayo (light mayo is fine)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients and serve as a sandwich.

A variation can also be made by using pecans. Equally delicious.

Posted in The Party's in the Kitchen

Going Home

I went home this week.  Well, not exactly my home but the one that belonged to my mom until she up and moved to heaven. It had been nearly two years since her death and this would be the first time I would be back in a place that had always included her presence. I wasn’t really sure what feelings would be stirred up within me.

Stepping through the door, I realized things had not changed in her absence. My sister now takes Mom’s place in the kitchen where so many celebration meals have been prepared. From the look of the counter, the tradition carried on.  It was covered with good things to eat.  Luscious flatbreads, pans of lasagna and that green pudding with its bits of pineapple and pistachios were all present as they had been in the past. Additional yumminess arrived. Aunt Sarah’s Cheesy Potatoes, Breaded Morel Mushrooms, compliments of my brothers, and my own cake slathered with Browned Butter Frosting rounded out the already abundant selection.

Daughter, Genevieve and sister, Jeannie.
Daughter, Genevieve and sister, Jeannie.

We filled our plates and ate and talked and talked and talked. It was all very comforting to sit around the table and enjoy each other’s company. For the moment, it all felt very normal as if no one was missing from the circle. I guess in a way everyone was accounted for.  Even though Mom was not physically with us, her heart had stayed behind. The spirit of the day made that evident. It was exactly as she would have planned it. I will hold the memory close as one of the best.

Where we love is home–home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Enjoying the beautiful afternoon.
Enjoying the beautiful afternoon chatting and laughing.

I asked my sister, Jeannie, to send me the recipes she cooked up for our visit. I left them in the form they were sent. I like that it is less formal and more like the way we would tell someone how to prepare the dish.

The following are the recipes for the bread, green pudding and the peanut butter cookies. The lasagna is just your basic recipe but she says she always uses Prego.

Bread Machine Flat Bread
The bread is easy. In the bread maker I put in one cup of water and one packet of dry yeast. Wait ten minutes for yeast to bloom and add three tbsp sugar, three cups of flour, two tsp salt and one third cup oil. Set bread maker to dough sitting and start. When the dough has risen I spray a little Pam on a larger pizza pan, dump the dough on it, sprinkle a little flour over the top and spread it out by pressing it with my hands, as large as it will stretch without making holes in it. I let in rise in a warm place and brush with about three tbsp melted butter, sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 until brown and lovely.
Green Pudding
Green stuff is two pkgs of instant pistachio pudding, two cups milk and one small can of drained crushed pineapple . Mix the pudding according to pkg directions, then add the well drained crushed pineapple.
Gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies
Mix one cup peanut butter, one cup sugar, one egg and half tsp vanilla. Scoop onto a parchment covered cookie sheet. Press with fork. Bake at 350 until golden brown.
Posted in The Party's in the Kitchen

The Party’s in the Kitchen

Our guests stood around the kitchen chatting. Although there were more comfortable seats elsewhere in the house, it was where they wanted to be. That’s saying something because our kitchen is small according to today’s standards. Not much space to turn around let alone gather for a meal.  Yet, here they were bowls of soup in hand enjoying each other’s company.

There is something quite endearing about that room in our homes that seems to have a heartbeat.  Things that are created within its walls are meant to nourish. In this age of so much interest of health and fitness, most of us know exactly what the word nourish means.  The idea is a pretty straight forward–To sustain with food or nutriment. Something we expect to come from a kitchen. But if we continue to read down through the remaining definitions we find that it goes way beyond providing good food.

    nour ish

  1. To supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth
  2. To cherish, foster, keep alive
  3. To strengthen, build up or promote.

These descriptions stir up in me a spiritual perspective on kitchen activity.  My sink becomes a prayer altar as I stand hands deep in soapy water while my heart reaches high up into the heavens to the One who can watch over my family. My fridge and pantry hold ingredients that will become offerings of hope in the form of a casserole to a family in crisis. And from my stove celebration meals find their way to my table (or in this case, to the hands of friends) bringing with them a festival of thanksgiving.

Life, health, growth. Cherished activity that strengthens and builds up speaks to something special cooked up here. Nourishment of all kinds is blended into whatever is created in this room.  It’s no surprise that people tend to linger where such activity takes place. I love that friends and strangers alike find it a comfortable space to gather.

So. . .Welcome to the party!  Step into my kitchen.

Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.
William Shakespeare


Fresh fixins to go into a pot of soup.
Fresh fixins to go into a pot of soup.

Once a month, I hold a dinner in my home. On SOUPer Friday, we share a simple meal that does indeed include soup along with bread and dessert. The food is delicious (Yes, I am boasting a bit.) but what is extraordinary about this gathering is what happens around the table.  We are friends, who have become family, as we have shared what is important to our hearts.  In our case, there is much lively conversation about ministries and missions we are involved with.  We often have someone new come to add to the conversation by sharing what is happening in their world.  It is a simple way to encourage and be encouraged through the stories of good–maybe we could even call them super— things happening in our communities and around the planet.


This is a recipe from Taste of Home that has become a favorite at our SOUPer dinners–

Tomato Basil Soup Recipe

  • 4 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 can (49 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth or 6 cups of vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 can (29 ounce) crushed tomatoes
  • 5 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 can (12 ounces) fat-free evaporated milk

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven, cook carrots and onion in butter over medium low heat for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  2. In a blender, place 1/2 broth and the cooled vegetables; cover and process until blended.  Return to the Dutch oven. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, basil, sugar, salt, pepper and remaining broth.
  3. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for thirty minutes.  Reduce to low. Gradually stir in evaporated milk; heat through (do not boil).  Yield: 6 servings (2 1/4 quarts)
  4. Enjoy!