Saturday, November 22, 2008

For Music Lovers and Carb-Addicts

Emily is here visiting us this weekend and we have been having a wonderful time. Thursday night we went to a Christian music concert at our church. We saw a group called the David Crowder Band and a couple of other artists (Jeremy Horn and Tyler Bass). It was my first Christian concert and I have to say I loved it! The music was really inspiring and uplifting, but that isn't what made the concert so great. What I liked most about it was seeing so many people unified in Christ. People were dancing and singing and completely immersed in PRAISE. It was a fantastic experience and I loved everything about it.

But I digress...Emily and I had lunch with Ethan at school on Friday and we enjoyed a quiet afternoon and evening at home. Tonight we went to the evening service at church and are getting ready to challenge each other on the Xbox Scene It trivia game. Ethan is so sad that Emily has to go home tomorrow, especially since she is taking Daisy-Dog home with her.

I asked Emily what her favorite Thanksgiving dish was and she said stuffing and pumpkin pie. So I went to pull her mom's recipe for stuffing and realized that some of Faye's best Thanksgiving dishes are the yummy, starchy sides. So here are some of my personal favorites from Faye's kitchen. (Incidentally, this is the dressing that I *tried* to make for our Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago, but it did not turn out well at all - it was too soggy. Late in the afternoon, when we were starving and tired of waiting to eat, we decided to go ahead and eat dinner. So I turned off the oven and we enjoyed our meal without the stuffing. Worse than that though, we forgot to take the stuffing out of the oven and found it the next day...and it *STILL* wasn't dried out!)

Cornbread Dressing
Martha White Buttermilk Cornmeal Mix (plus ingredients to make cornbread according to package directions)
Onion, diced
Celery, diced
Poultry seasoning or Sage, to taste
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cans chicken broth

Prepare cornbread according to cornmeal mix directions. Cool and crumble into a large baking dish.

Sauté onion and celery in butter. Add to cornbread crumbs along with cream of mushroom soup and seasoning. Add one full can of chicken broth plus additional broth until dressing reaches desired consistency. Bake for one hour at 350°.

Hashbrown Casserole
32-oz. bag frozen hash brown potatoes
1 pint sour cream
2 cups cubed Velveeta cheese or 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 Tablespoons grated onion
½ cup margarine

Pre-heat oven to 350°. Mix all ingredients together and pour into ungreased 9”X13” pan. Bake one hour.

Sweet Potato Casserole

5 sweet potatoes, boiled and skins removed
small can crushed pineapple, well drained
¼ to 1/3 brown sugar, to taste
2 to 3 Tablespoons butter
miniature marshmallows

Mash potatoes and mix with remaining ingredients. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes, until heated through. Top with miniature marshmallows and bake another 10 minutes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I've been busy!

I have been so busy these days! Someone should have warned me not to sign up as Ethan's room mom and to volunteer on the PTA. I didn't know quite how much I was committing to. It has been fun though. I have now published two PTA newsletters for Ethan's school and survived Ethan's fall class party. Now I am starting on my Christmas shopping, which is tiring as well! I have made three trips to Toys R Us in the past two days, and I need to go back again! 'Tis the season, eh?

I mentioned to many of you in a recent e-mail that our family joined our church earlier this month. Zachary was baptized and we were welcomed into Hope Presbyterian Church on November 1st. I never in a million years imagined joining a church as large and "contemporary" as this one, or one that was not Lutheran, but I have to say that I love it. I feel so at home here. Everyone goes out of their way to make you feel welcomed, no matter if you've been attending for 10 years or 10 minutes. Jason and I both feel comfortable there and have agreed that we take so much home with us from the worship service each week. The pastors have a way of relating the message to our daily lives, and I often think (sometimes out loud), "Hey, he's talking to me!" Right now they are conducting a series on finances (getting out debt & living on a budget), and how we are merely stewards of God's money. The series has included clips of the pastor's interview with Dave Ramsey, who teaches a class that Jason and I took called Financial Peace University. (Thanks to that class we are well on our way to being completely debt free, eventually including our house!) Ethan and Zachary enjoy their Sunday school classes, the preschool and the recreation ministries (soccer!!!). The church has so many other ministry and service opportunities as well; I love that it is such a service-oriented community. This week, their kitchen ministry unveiled a new Hope Church Chefs blog where they promise to publish budget-friendly recipes and answer cooking questions submitted by their readers. So cool. Anyway, whenever you come to visit Memphis, I would like to invite you to attend a service with us. It is unlike any church you've ever attended (in a good way). We look forward to going each week.

Back to cooking: Thanksgiving is only two weeks away and I can already taste the turkey & stuffing, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie! (Mom, don't forget the Cool Whip, please!) These are some of my holiday favorites. What are yours? Leave me a comment and let me know. If you've got the recipe handy, send me that too. Meanwhile, I'll be posting some of our family's traditional Thanksgiving recipes, starting with dessert first of course!

Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie
From the side of the can of pumpkin
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 (15-oz.) can LIBBY'S 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 (12-fl. oz.) can CARNATION Evaporated Milk
1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
Whipped cream (optional)

Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.

Bake in preheated 425° F. oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F.; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.

Note: 1 ¾ teaspoons pumpkin spice may be substituted for the cinnamon, ginger and cloves; however, the taste will be slightly different. Do not freeze, as this will cause the crust to separate from the filling.

For 2 shallow pies: substitute two 9-inch (2-cup volume) pie shells. Bake in preheated 425° F. oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F.; bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until pies test done.

Classic Pecan PieFrom the Karo Syrup bottle
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 cup Karo Light or Dark Corn Syrup
2 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ cups pecans
1 (9-inch) unbaked or frozen deep-dish pie crust

Preheat oven to 350°. In medium bowl with fork beat eggs slightly. Add sugar, corn syrup, margarine and vanilla; stir until blended. Stir in pecans. Pour into pie crust.

Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm cold!

I can't believe this weather. Yesterday I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt while enjoying Ethan's soccer game outside. (He made his first goal!!) Tonight I am sitting in my office in sweats with the heat turned on and I am still cold. We actually have a freeze watch tonight. In a couple more days I think we will be in shorts again. Ah, mid-south weather. It's no wonder we stay sick year round.

Weather like this calls for a hearty meal. This is one that we made this week. Ethan helped me make it (he chopped the bell peppers and grated the Parmesan), and everyone enjoyed it. Play around with the recipe a bit and add any ingredient you would normally enjoy on a pizza. I added freshly ground fennel seeds. I also wanted to add mushrooms, but was emphatically vetoed by my assistant chef. We enjoyed it with a nice crisp salad.

Pizza Casserole

8 oz. ground beef (90% lean) or ground turkey
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
15 oz. can can of tomato sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or fat-free Parmesan)
1 tsp. pizza or Italian seasoning
3 cups hot cooked pasta (rotini, zitti, penne, bowtie, etc.)
3 oz. reduced fat or turkey pepperoni
1/3 cup shredded 2% skim Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8X8 inch baking dish with olive oil-flavored cooking spray. In a large skillet, brown meat, onions, green peppers and garlic. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese, and seasoning. Add cooked noodles and pepperoni. Mix well to combine. Spread mixture into prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven; sprinkle with Mozzarella. Continue baking for 10 more minutes, until cheese is melted. Set on wire rack for 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Even I make mistakes!

So my dear old dad (yes, that's you Abbie) sends me an e-mail yesterday to let me know that I got some info wrong on a couple of recipes. For those of you who are keeping track, I have corrected the first one that he pointed out - the sausage balls recipe from October 15th. Apparently there should only be 2 cups of Bisquick (not 3) and no water. The second recipe he pointed out was the Cheese Soup recipe from October 16th. He remembers Aunt Judy's original recipe where she chops the frozen Italian vegetables a bit in the blender. You can do that, but I never have and the recipe is still delicious. It is a matter of personal taste I suppose, and I love big chunks of the good stuff in my soup.

Thanks for the help, Abbie. I love you!

If anyone else catches an error in any of the recipes I post, please e-mail me right away and I'll correct them (or argue a point).

So to end this post, I am posting a recipe that you really can't mess up. It's my Grandmother Mava's recipe for the most delicious fruit salad. I look forward to having this at our family's holiday dinners, but of course you can make it any time of year. It's not super healthy because of all the sugar, but I'm sure you can lighten it up with Splenda instead. Let me know how that works out if you decide to try it with Splenda.

To the left is a picture of my mom, grandma, sister and me at Christmas 2004. I am sure we had Grandma's fruit salad at dinner. Yummy!

Fruit Salad

Pineapple chunks, drained
2 cups sugar
Pecan halves
Maraschino cherries, reserve juice

Cut fruit into bite-sized chunks in a large bowl. Add pecans and cherries. Cover with sugar and add some juice from the cherries. Stir and set in refrigerator for a while – even better overnight.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Busy Day

Today has been (is) such a busy day. Jason and I are taking the IHS class (new members class) at our church, but we missed last week's class due to our trip to the mountains. So we had to make up the class today at 8:00 (early for us!!), then we attended the regular class at 9:00. We finished up at church around 11:30 and headed to McAlister's for a quick lunch. Then it was off to the soccer fields where Ethan *almost* scored a goal in his game. (This bigger, faster kid on our team swooped around Ethan and stole the ball!! Grrrrrr.....doesn't he know you aren't supposed to steal the ball from your own teammate???) Now I have about 15 minutes before my stamping group arrives for a class. I'll sooo be ready for an early bedtime tonight!

So that leads me to my recipe for today. I want something easy that you can make on a busy day like I had today. A slow-cooked crock pot recipe would be perfect. Looking through our index of recipes though, I don't see very many crock pot recipes. (So, if you have any you'd like to pass along, please e-mail me. *hint*hint*) I LOVE MY CROCK POT! Here is a great crockpot recipe that is absolutely delicious. It's one of mine and Jason's all-time favorites. And you can't even tell it's another Weight Watcher's recipe! Make it this week and let me know what you think.

Slow Cooker Chicken Paprikash
2 cups mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1 teaspoon paprika
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup chicken broth
1 lb. uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup fat-free sour cream

Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic and red pepper. Sauté 5 minutes. Stir in paprika, salt and pepper; cook 30 seconds more. Spoon mixture into a 4-5 quart slow cooker. Add broth.

Cut each chicken breast into 4 long strips; add to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low setting 5 to 6 hours.

Stir together flour and sour cream in a cup (to prevent the cream from curdling in slow cooked dishes). Stir mixture into slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until the mixture is thick and hot, about 10 minutes more.

Note: Weight Watchers – makes 4 servings at 4 points per serving.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Skinny Soup

Okay, so I have to admit the last recipe, while it is delicious, may not be so figure-friendly with all that cheese. So, here are a couple of really yummy soup recipes I got from Weight Watchers. Trust me though; you can't really tell they are WW because of how delicious they are. Plus you can always doctor them up to suit your own dietary needs (or wants). Enjoy!

Weight Watchers Taco Soup

10 oz. lean ground beef, browned and drained
2 cans stewed tomatoes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, undrained
6-oz. can tomato paste
1 can green chilies
1 package taco seasoning
1 envelop dry Ranch dressing mix
10 oz. frozen corn
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups water

Mix all ingredients and cook until beans and onions are tender.

Note: Weight Watchers – This Taco Soup recipe makes 8 servings at 6 points per serving.

Weight Watchers Garden Vegetable Soup
2/3 cup sliced carrot
½ cup diced onion
2 minced garlic cloves
3 cups fat-free broth
1 ½ cups diced green cabbage
½ cup green beans
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup diced zucchini

In a large pot sprayed with Pam, sauté carrots, onion and garlic over low heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add broth, cabbage, beans, tomato paste, basil, oregano and salt. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until beans are tender. Stir in zucchini and heat 3-4 minutes.

Note: Weight Watchers – This Garden Vegetable Soup makes four 1-cup servings at 0 points per serving.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What a dreary day!

It has been raining all day, and there seems to be no signs of it stopping any time soon. It is also a bit chilly for a change - temps only around 60 degrees today. Perhaps fall is finally here. Such blah weather calls for soup, wouldn't you say?

This has got be one of the best soups I have ever had. My aunt Judy Linsenbardt made this for us when we visited at the holidays years and years ago, and it's been a family favorite ever since. I made this for my bunco group this past winter and it was a huge hit!

Cheese Soup

4 chicken boullion cubes
1 quart water
2 ½ cups cubed potatoes
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onions
few diced carrots
18-20 oz. frozen Italian vegetables
2 can cream of chicken soup
1 lb. Velveeta cheese, cubed

In large pot, combine boullion, water, and fresh vegetables. Cook 10 minutes, until tender. Add frozen vegetables and cook another 10 minutes. Add soup; rinse cans with a little water and add. Add cheese. When cheese is melted completely, soup is done.

Leftovers – cook slow and stir.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Are you Ready for Some Football?

I don't know why, but when fall and football season roll around, there is just something in the air that makes even non-football fans want to have friends over to watch a game and eat some eats. And for those women whose husbands completely disappear when football season starts, it's an excuse to get together with the girls. Of course, none of this compares to the big one - the Superbowl. But we'll deal with that come January/February (whenever it falls this year - usually on or near my anniversary; go figure!). So, in honor of the current football season, I am posting some great appetizers and snacks for you to serve at your next get-together.

My brother-in-law, Andy Brei, has a great formula for football season:

Football Feast


Directions: Drink. Eat. Repeat!

This one was sent by Jason's cousin, Lara (Gwen) Purcell. Her hubby Troy is one of those guys who lives in front of the big screen during football season, so you know she's got to have some good snacks!

Hot Wing Dip
8 oz. bar of fat free cream cheese
13 oz. can chicken breast, packed in water
1 bottle Frank’s Red Hot Hot Wing Sauce
1 jar Marie’s reduced-fat blue cheese dressing
1-2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese

In a glass pie plate, spread cream cheese along bottom of dish. Next, mix drained chicken with ¼ to ½ bottle of wing sauce, breaking up chicken chunks. Layer chicken over cream cheese. Follow with half to all of dressing. Cover with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly. Serve with tortillia chips.

Of course, every good party (football or not) is incomplete without Sausage Balls. They are a party staple; they are super easy, delicous and usually gone in minutes. This recipe is from my mom, Paula Linsenbardt, and is Jason's favorite!

Sausage Balls

2 cups Bisquick
1 pound hot sausage
10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Shape into balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cheap Eats

With today's economy in the slumps like it is, I figured I would post some recipes that are budget friendly as well as delicious. Dave Ramsey says when you are trying to save money you should eat beans and rice, rice and beans. So, here are two delicious bean recipes to help you through these tough economic times. When I want to beef up the recipe a bit, I'll add some sliced smoked sausage (turkey smoked sausage when I'm being good) in the last 30 minutes of cooking time instead of adding the grease or oil to the recipe. Serve over white rice and add a side of cornbread and you will be in Southern Heaven. (By the way, don't ask me which of these recipes is better - they are both fantastic!)

Sarah’s “Famous” Cilantro Beans
submitted by my aunt, Sarah Jones

2 lb. bag of pinto beans
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 large clove garlic, minced
Cilantro leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon bacon drippings (health conscious cooks may substitute olive oil)

Sort and rinse beans thoroughly in colander. Soak for about 30 minutes (minimum), then place in a crockpot filled with water. Turn on the crockpot and let it work, adding water as needed. (I usually put them on late at night before going to bed on low and add water as needed in the morning; otherwise cook on high.) When beans are completely cooked, add Rotel, cilantro leaves, garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and bacon drippings. Stir and let simmer for another 20 minutes or so. Voila! Buen Probecho!!!

Abbie's Pinto Beanssubmitted by my dad, Abbie Linsenbardt

2 pounds dry beans, washed and sorted
5 full slices bacon, plus grease from cooking
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon cilantro
1 teaspoon salt (may need more later)
1 teaspoon pepper
chopped onion

Soak beans overnight. Rinse and put into crock pot. Cover with water.

Fry bacon, crumble and put into pot. Add 1 Tablespoon of bacon grease and remaining ingredients. Cook on high heat until beans are tender. Continue to check water level and add more water to keep beans covered.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dessert First!

Anyone who knows me knows that I have one of the biggest sweet tooths around. Why do "they" make you eat dessert last? I say eat the best stuff first so you don't run out of room for it! (Of course that is likely the cause of my weight for thought.) Anyhoo, I wanted to kick off my new site with a dessert recipe.

This recipe was submitted by my sweet cousin, Gretchen Bruner. Her daddy, Larry Linsenbardt, was one of the greatest men to ever live, and this was his recipe for Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce. She tells me that he loved the bread pudding from a certain restaurant so much that he went home and perfected his own recipe so he could enjoy it anytime. Well, Bread Pudding is one of my all-time favorite desserts, so I can't wait to give this recipe a try. If you decide to make this recipe, please return and post a comment to let us know how it turned out. And do me and my cousin a favor - whenever you make or eat this bread pudding, think of Larry; he was truly a wonderful human being and we miss him greatly. (FYI: This picture of Uncle Larry and Aunt Becky was taken in November 2002 in my parents' back yard on the occasion of my nephew, Joel's baptism.)

Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

For the Pudding:
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon vanilla
½ Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 (1-lb.) loaf French bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
½ cup golden raisins (optional)

For the Sauce:
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup butter
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup whiskey

Preheat oven to 325°. In a medium bowl, whip together eggs and sugar. Mix in milk, heavy cream, vanilla, and cinnamon. Whip until smooth.

Arrange bread cubes in a 9”x13” glass baking dish. Top with raisins if desired. Cover bread with the whipped mixture. Stir so that the bread becomes saturated with the mixture.

Bake 1½ hours in preheated oven. After 1½ hours, turned the heat up to 450° for 5 to 10 minutes to brown the top.

While the bread pudding is cooling, make the whiskey sauce. Mix sugar, butter, cream, and whiskey in a small saucepan. Warm over low heat, stirring constantly until sauce in gently boiling. Spoon sauce over baked bread pudding and serve warm.

Variation – for Sauce without whiskey: Combine 1 cup sugar, ½ cup butter, ½ cup heavy cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla. While stirring, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and stir 3 minutes more. Spoon over bread pudding while warm.


Three years ago, I had the brilliant idea that I would publish a cookbook containing all of my family and friends' favorite, tried-and-true recipes. The thought was that I would be preserving and sharing a very important piece of our family history. Everyone knows the heart of the home is in the kitchen. That is where everyone gathers, and food is the center of many social, holiday and family events. So, what better way to preserve our cherished memories than through the recipes from our grandmothers and our moms (and everyone who has ever cooked something memorable throughout our lives)?

Unfortunately, in the last three years, limited time and resources ($$$) have prevented me from completing my project. I have researched different ways to print the book, and I have collected hundreds of recipes from all of you. However, for the few number of books I need to print, no matter how you print it, the cost is prohibitive.

This morning, the thought dawned on me to publish the book virtually (and freely) instead. This way we are not limited to sharing just the recipes I have collected thus far; we can continue to share with each other new dishes as we come across them and as we try and succeed at new and fabulous recipes! This will be an ongoing project, so check back often and I'll do my best to upload a new recipe every day. If you would like to share a new recipe here, shoot me an e-mail or post a comment here on this blog.

Bon Appetit!