Sour Cream & Noodles with Beef. Easy and Delicious!

This is a lot like a dish I have made for years but just different enough to entice me to give it a whirl.  It is very good and I am adding it to my regular list of go to meals!  I saw The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond make it on TV and she had me at the sour cream and noodles part!  Add cheddar, beef, and green onion and the deal was sealed.

This makes 6 big portions so being in the "stock up my freezer" mode I baked 2 portions for supper last night and froze 2 for later.  They will be handy and delicious some time down the road.

Ingredients for Sour Cream & Noodles with Beef:

1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1/2 t. salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces egg noodles
3/4 C. sour cream
1 1/2 C. small curd cottage cheese
1/8 t. red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 C. sliced green onions (or to taste)
2 C. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and spray baking dish with cooking spray.  If you plan to bake the whole recipe use a 9" x 13' dish.

Start a large pan with salted water, bringing it to a boil to cook the noodles in, according to package directions.

Brown the beef in a skillet draining the fat if needed.  Add the salt and pepper well.  Add the tomato sauce cover and reduce to a low simmer while you finish cooking the noodles and slice the onions.  Drain the noodles and set them aside when they finish cooking.

Using a medium sized bowl mix the cottage cheese, sour cream.  Add the red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt, and a good portion of black pepper.  Add the drained noodles and green onion mixing well.

To assemble add half of the noodles to the bottom of the baking dish spreading evenly to cover.   Top with half of the meat and sauce mixture and sprinkle with half of the shredded cheddar cheese.  Repeat again to finish assembling the dish.    Bake 20-30 minutes until heated through and the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Yield 6 servings.  Serve with a green salad or slaw.


Juicing Recipes and Tips.

*Our favorite juice.
There are certainly numerous ways of juicing, citrus reamers, extractors, and blender type machines are very popular.  When my parents had a home in Florida I waited excitedly for the huge boxes of fruit they picked from their trees to arrive.  We so enjoyed fresh orange and grapefruit juices like no other from them!

Now days I usually use an extractor and have gotten back into the groove since we've been sick.  If I can't get it together in the mornings it works just fine to have juices prepared as the first course of our evening meal.  This really helps meet the 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily goal.  We so often struggle with that.

My dear friend Mickey Thienes shared with me the other day that she juices large batches and FREEZES the JUICE!  Well gees!  Why didn't I think of that?  It is such a great idea.  The down side of these machines is that you have to take them all apart and clean them after each use.  If you are like me you tire of the mess.  She also shared that Elbert's, a natural food grocery in Evansville sells 5 and 25 pound lots of organic carrots for a nominal fee.

I am currently contemplating using up about 10 pounds of apples stored downstairs and may head to town for these carrots and start a big batch to freeze right away.

*My favorite recipe (apple, celery, parsley, carrots, and beets)  I have shared with you many times but here are some others we like too!

 Ingredients for Alkaline Cocktail:
(Good for bouts of Diverticulitis.)

 1/4 head of cabbage
3 ribs of celery
1 carrots, greens removed

Push all ingredients through the hopper and enjoy.

(I seem to have a lot of Inflammation and these next two recipes I find helpful.)
Ingredients for Ginger Hopper:

1/4" slice of ginger root
4-5 carrots, greens removed
1/2 apple seeded

Push the ginger through the hopper with the carrots and apple.

Ingredients for Hawaiian Fizz:

3 pineapple rings with skin
1/2 pear
1/4 " slice of ginger root
sparkling water
pineapple spear for garnish, optional

Juice the pineapple and push the ginger through the hopper with the pear.  Pour into a tall glass and fill with sparkling water.  Garnish with pineapple spear.  YUM.

These are but a few of the many recipes and combinations out there.  My reference and guide is a book I purchased years ago,  Juicing for Life by Cherie Calbom and Maureen Keane.


Tips for freezing meals.

I just made this Buttermilk Pie from a disk of pastry made earlier, double wrapped, then frozen.
We, Brian and I, have been suffering for almost two weeks with terrible colds or something!  During this time I have been curled up under a blanket, mostly sleeping.  Occasionally one eye would open, my head would raise, and I would have a thought.

One of the few thoughts I had was, "Wouldn't it have been nice to have had some prepared chicken pot pies, casseroles, or something else totally comforting in our freezer to just pop into the oven?"

Stock freezes very well.
Here are a few things I have learned in the freezing of entrees for later.

 (A.)  Potatoes do not as a rule freeze well.  They become mealy, ugh.  Not good!  So if I plan to freeze a soup or stew I plan to add the potatoes late in the cooking and I remove a quart or however much to freeze BEFORE to adding them.  Then I finish my recipe adding the potatoes.  Upon defrosting what I have frozen I add fresh potatoes and finish cooking.  This makes for a much better end product!

(B.)  It is handier to use foil or heavy paper type pans to freeze in as not to tie up my bake ware!  I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have hunted a casserole dish only to realize that the "just right dish" is in the freezer with a ready made meal frozen inside.

(C.)  It is very handy to separate meats, patties, disks of unbaked dough, balls of cookie dough with parchment or waxed paper.  This makes life so much easier!  You can drop several like things in a large plastic bag or container after wrapping individually.

(D.)  They say pasta freezes well but I really can't say that I wholeheartedly agree.  I think you are OK if the entree is on the dry side like macaroni and cheese. If the pasta is say macaroni in chili......I would not add it before freezing.  Common sense dictates that pasta gets big and floppy as it continues to absorb liquid and that is my reasoning.

(E.)  If you plan to freeze something reactive, like lasagna with tomatoes, lay a layer of parchment paper atop the lasagna before wrapping securely with foil.  You can leave it when you reheat with no problems.

(F.)  As a rule I double wrap everything I freeze if possible. Always label and date everything!

(G.)  Micky Thienes just told me she juices big batches in her extractor and freezes them immediately until needed.  She says they are great.  I love this idea as much as I hate to clean up the juice machine so I am sharing.  Micky has NEVER led me astray!


Sunday I made a huge kettle of chili and froze 2 quarts for later.  Today I am planing a tuna noodle casserole with enough to freeze an extra entree.  And I may get to a few more things later in the week while I have this on my mind!  It will surely be nice to have them ready to pull out on hectic days!  Or, on sick days!

Just for conversation sake I can tell you there are currently cinnamon rolls, green tomato pies,  several loaves of homemade bread, soups, and stocks frozen and ready to go in my freezers.  Not nearly enough I'd say!

Pie crust disks,
So please excuse me for now, I've pulled out a disk of frozen pie dough that should have be thawed and I am off to make a Buttermilk Pie for supper tonight!  While I am at it I think I will make 2 tuna casseroles. One for now and one for the freezer.

Tuna Casserole.

Perhaps next time a cold or flu strikes I will not be caught quite so off guard. 


Peanutty Filled Mini Cups, So Easy, So Good!

Honestly these are just too good to be true and easy too!  Emily wanted me to fix Sunday Dinner at noon today as she has to work later in the day so we are having a chili and chili cheese dog lunch at noon.  I love peanut butter anything with chili and thought these a great dessert for today.

I saw Ree Drummind, from The Pioneer Woman blog make these one day and it just was a simple thing from her childhood.  I wondered how I could have missed something that looks so good?  She was emphatic that you have to use refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough from the store or this will not work.  So off I went to purchase my first tube of refrigerated peanut butter cookies!

Ingredients for Peanutty Filled Mini Cups:

1 tube refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough
1 bag miniature peanut butter candy cups
miniature cupcake or candy paper liners

Next preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line mini muffin cups with small paper liners.  Slice the cookie dough about 2/3" thick and quarter the slices dropping a piece in each paper cup.  Bake for about 12 minutes.  Meantime unwrap miniature peanut butter cups and remove both the foil and the paper cup completely!

Do this quickly as you must pop the candies into the center of each puffed cookie cup as quickly as you pull them from the oven.  This is a hasty project but it pays off!

Cool thoroughly before removing from the pans.  Serve on pretty plates for a tasty treat.  I yielded 40 cookie cups.


Multi Grain Bread

Sour dough multi grain bread.
For as long as it took to make this it had better be some exceptional bread!  That is what I thought today as I formed and baked these loaves!  And it is delicious!  Just toasted 2 slices and lightly bettered them. YUM!

The slices are nutty and flavorful with a crisp crust and slightly chewy texture.  I think them delicious.  Also, there is not a drop of sweetening or oil used in the loaves.  There is a tiny bit used to oil the bowl as it sits to rise.  Otherwise the ingredients are yeast, flours, grains and seeds, salt, and water alone.  Nutrient laden for sure!  Yummy to boot!

I have made multi grain breads before with some degree of success but I was intrigued by the whole seeds and the sour dough in this recipe.  Once in a while I stop by to see what is up there.  I had not looked for a while and this is what I came across.  Old fashioned oats, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and quinoa are all soaked in water for an hour to soften before adding to the bread dough.  The thought of these toasting for breakfast was what motivated me!

Here is the link if you would like to try this one.    I added 3 tablespoon of King Arthur's Rye Bread Enhancer to the dry ingredients but that was my only change.  You have to start this recipe on Tuesday morning and tend to it every day until you make and bake on Saturday. 

Peppers and Tomatoes Ending the Season.

Two Quarts of Pickled Peppers.
I did get out and pick what I presume to be the last of the peppers and tomatoes although I did leave 3 tomato plants standing and one pepper.  Time will tell if I will see anymore ripen or drop to the ground frozen like green gourds!

I pickled two quarts of the peppers and strung the rest to dry.  I love to use the pickled peppers along with a big tablespoon of the brine in my homemade chili.  Adds a little special something to the pot!

Here is the link to the recipe I use each year.

Brian and the boys just like them as a condiment with meals.  The dry ones can be used in just about anything for a bit of added zest!  I made two strands, one earlier this fall and this is the second of them.  There should be plenty for the winters soups and stews.

The tomatoes are a pleasant addition to my kitchen window and I shall miss them when they are gone.  The crop here was the poorest I have seen in the 30 years we have lived here.  Guess I will be buying canned tomatoes this year!  Happily the crops were were fine elsewhere.

Ahhhh-----a Lovely Cure, Magic Potion/Kadha, Soothing my Cough and Cold!

This is an age old Indian potion passed down from generation to generation.
Quite by accident, actually in an earlier post I asked if anyone could tell me the difference between green and black cardamom.  At this point a wonderful reader, Ashwini Deshpande explained in such lovely terms both the difference and usage I was intrigued enough to follow her back to thank her.  Upon doing so I discovered her blog, and her lovely story and recipe for this concoction!

Her mother had made it many times for her as a child as she now does for her children.  Insomuch as I have everything called for I gathered and made so for myself.  IT IS QUITE LOVELY.  I will make it again.  Plus I think I actually feel a bit better!  Thank you Ashwini!

Here is her recipe for Magic Potion/Kadha:

1 1/2 C. water
1 Green Cardamom Crushed with skin and seed
2 whole cloves
1/2" stick cinnamon
1/2" ginger grated
1/2 t. lemon grass, fresh or dried
1 T. basil leaves
honey to taste

Using a small pan add the water and the above ingredients except exclude the honey for now. 

Heat over medium heat and let the potion simmer until the spices give out their extracts and the water changes to a slightly light green color.  Strain into a mug discarding the herbs and spices.   Add honey to taste and enjoy!  Enjoy 2-3 times a day until you are feeling better, and I will!

Drying Fesh Sage Leaves and Bringing the Plants Indoors for the Winter.

Dry Sage Leaves
Yes, Old man winter is just around the corner and it is time for me to get past this horrible upper respiratory infection and save the plants from freezing!  Nothing less than the threat of loosing something I love would probably pry my lump of a sickly miserable body out from under my cozy warm comforting blanket!  So here I go stomping, tromping with floppy shoes over dropping socks outdoors to drag in the big and heavy pots and find them lodgings for the winter season. 

There are also pots of herbs to move up by the house where they will winter for the season.  As the holiday season is near it is a good day to pluck the last of the lovely sage leaves and dry them for the making of delicious dressing or stuffing for the turkey I see in the future and with roasted pork if only to name a few things I love them in!

There are not too many left and I think I will just dry them in the oven instead of dragging out the dehydrator.  Last year the sisters at did them in the oven using the pilot light if I remember correctly.  Since it is "pizza" night here and Brian will bring home one for me to bake in our oven I think just turning off the oven after baking the pizza and placing in the leaves between layers of paper towels should do the trick.

I have left them in the unopened oven overnight after turning off the oven and they are lovely.  I did trim off the stems before I started and rinse the well with tap water.  After shaking off the water I placed them not touching between 2 layers of paper toweling and left them to dry.  Leaving them whole to store I plan to crumble them as I use them.  I love the look if the velvety leaves and their weathered hue.

I look to have the corner on the aloe plants and the Christmas cactus concessions in southern Indiana!

With six pots of cactus and four pots of aloe all brimming with new plants that need to be re-potted....all for another day!

 I have placed most of them downstairs where I work and where it stays cooler.

Then there is the other tropical dug from my parents Florida home and the ferns and herbs I bring indoors to winter.  I am thinking of trying to save a big begonia from the front to although I have not have much success in those attempts!

Many are in hanging pots which is another space savings!  These cacti will bear huge fuchsia blossoms about 3-4" in length in the dead of winter which brightens my days!

Note:  I do spray all of these plants well with a home and garden bug spray before bringing them inside.

So glad this chore is done.  Until tomorrow then.


Fall colds and sniffles here.....

we are both puney.  hubby went to dr. yesterday and i go tomorrow.  nothing sounds good, tastes good, or seems to be worth the energy to move upon.  just really icky colds or uri (upper respiratory infections.)

Hope to rejoin the living soon!
last night started juicing again to try to get well.  my go to juice is parsley, apples, celery, carrots, and beets and thankfully husband loves this.  i do not have the gumption to get it together in the morning so it is our evening cocktail before a very light dinner of raw salad and a little protein.

Sharing pictures that cheer me.  These are just outside my living room picture window.


Grant's Farm and the St.Louis Zoo are OUTSTANDING Family Attractions.

Left rear, Brian, Diane, Chris, Mike, Julie.  Front left, Jack, Sam, Emily, and Kate.  Inside Grant's log cabin at Grant's Farm.
We have had company, and we went on a family outing.  It was not what we had planned but it turned out beautifully!  That is my story as well as my excuse for not keeping up with postings!

The twins check out the artillery outside Grant's Cabin.
When out oldest son called to get last minute directions for a family trip long planned to Gatlinburgh, Tn. he had a bad feeling and as the conversation progressed it only got worse.  We have gone there and stayed several times and had a wonderful time.  However this was with a different outfit and red flags were flying up all over.  The trip was cancelled.  It seems it is not as well kept as the online photos implied nor is the pool up to good working condition (and who knows what else!)

Big Fred the buffalo.
Really Big Birds!
Instead we went to Grant's Farm and the St. Louis  Zoo.  We didn't drive but half as far and we had a terrific time.  There is a private tour you can arrange at Grant's Farm and I cannot say enough wonderful things about it!  There were buffalo, several varieties of elk, deer. foul of many colors and varieties.  There were many other animals, too many for me to remember and to name here.

This truck's equipped with benches and coolers of drinks and also held lots of food for us to feed many of the wonderful fish, foul, and animals.
We first walked down and visited the stables.  After some friendly petting of the critters and photos we boarded a touring truck and were off.  It is both a beautiful place and a very historically interesting place.  Our driver and tour guide were the much fun. 

They were both just wonderful with the children too.

Emily and Kate.
The next day we visited the Zoo which was also delightful.  A good time was had by all!  The motel was very very nice and located right across the street from the zoo too.

My only wrinkle was this.  I don't remember if I have shared my woes about both knees with you.  After working on furniture floors and wearing high heels for well over 30 years, there is not a speck of cartilage in either of my knees.  Before agreeing to go on this trip I checked out the Zoo online and saw there was a railroad circling the entire zoo.  My thought was that if my knees grew painful and the rest of me weary I could ride the train to meet the rest of the family any place they might head.

That was a good plan BUT,  there were so many people riding the train that we stood while 4 trains stopped and left again without enough people getting off for the crowds waiting to board to get on!  Meanwhile 7-9 trains sat idle behind the station.  Poor planning on somebody's part I would guess.  We still had a good time but I am not too sure I would try it again before having both knees replaced. 
(Which I am in no big hurry to do.)

Note: Our other son Joel and his wife Julie were not available to go with us this time as they have their home being built on to and couldn't get away just now.


Glazed Citrus-Poppy Seed Cake

This recipe is adapted from the one seen in the 2012 Oct. issue of Martha Stewart Living, "the flavors of fall" edition.  I have been meaning to make this for a whole year now.  Guess that tells you what kind of schedule I am on.  Hey only a year behind....that sounds about right!

Well anyway, the cake did not disappoint!  It is delicious.  I like a one layer cake, especially for the two of us.  I like a cake without gobs of too sweet frosting.  And I like a cake with big flavor and texture.  This one fills my bill perfectly!  My husband gave it a big thumbs up too.

Ingredients for Glazed Citrus-Poppy Seed Cake:

3 C. all purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 sticks soft butter
2 C. sugar
2 t. fresh lemon juice
peeled zest of 1 large or 2 small lemons
peeled zest of 1/2 of a large orange
4 large eggs
1 C. heavy cream
2 t. pure vanilla extract
3 T. poppy seeds


1/4 C. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 C. fresh squeezed orange juice
3/4 C. sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9" round spring form pan.  Cover the bottom of the pan with parchment paper then butter it again.  Dust with flour and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.  Using a food processor place the lemon and orange peels of zest and one cup of the sugar altogether and pulse until the mixture is very finely ground.  Beat, using an electric mixer the butter, zest sugar combination, and the second cup of sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the lemon juice.  Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the cream and vanilla starting and ending with the flour.  Stir in the poppy seeds.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Spread evenly. Bake 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours until a bamboo skewer tests clean when inserted into the center of the cake. The top will be deep golden brown. Let the cake cool in the pan 30 minutes. Run a slender blade around the edge of the pan and remove the outer rim.  Invert on your hand and remove the flat disk of the pan and the parchment.  Cool the cake 1 hour on the cooling rack.

Boil the juices for the glaze in a small pan until reduced by one half.  Let it cool a bit, then add the sugar, stirring to dissolve.  Pour the glaze over the cooled cake.  The cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or refrigerate covered to store longer.

Yield 10-12 servings.

Chai Tea Concentrate, Homemade to take the chill off my bones! Another fall favorite.

Chai tea ingredients simmering away.
I love the flavors and aroma of Chai tea.  Recently I made a delicious Chai tea using instant tea as the base and Mother loved it when I split my batch with her as did I......Here is a link to that recipe.

Then I saw this made from scratch concentrate and I just had to make it.  The only thing slowing me down was I had used all of my cardamom pods and failed to get more.  Nobody carries them here in our little town so I went to one of the wonderful Asian markets in Evansville and readily found them.  What threw me was there were two varieties.  The green which is what I have always gotten and there was also black.  If anyone out there knows the difference in use please leave me a comment.  I shall have to investigate!

This recipe was adapted from who adapted from numerous recipes floating the blog-a-sphere.

Ingredients for Homemade Chai Tea Concentrate:

4 1/2 C. good water (I use water from reverse osmosis but if you are lucky enough to have good water that is fine too.)   Note:  Our water is so bad that from the tap it smells like a chlorinated swimming pool!
8 bags of black tea
2 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean split in half (or 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract can be added at the very end.)
1/2 C. raw cane sugar, or more to taste(or if you prefer coconut sugar or date sugar.)
1-3" piece of fresh ginger cut into pieces
10 whole cloves
8 cardamom pods
1/2 t. freshly ground nutmeg
2 whole star anise pods
1/2 t. whole black peppercorns
1/2 of an orange jest peeled with a vegetable peeler
1 T. raw honey or more to taste, or add more sugar

Combine all of these ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Line a strainer with cheesecloth or a coffee filter and strain into a bowl to cool.  After cooling refrigerate in a lidded one quart container or jar.

To serve mix 1 part concentrate with 1 part milk.  Serve warm or cold.  Yield about a quart of concentrate.  Keep up to 1 week refrigerated.

I am in hopes this will also act to settle Brian's stomach as a 3" piece of ginger should have that effect.  Not sure if the  fact we eat late is the problem or that he takes several meds in the evening.  I can't help but think this is one of those "chicken soup" sort of things.  It just is good for you all around!  He loved the flavor  of it served up warm before bedtime.

The concentrate would make a great Holiday gift or assemble the ingredients less the water and package along with the directions.  Also it would be a great used as a flavoring....say Chai ice cream?? Or muffins?? Or tea bread??  YUMMM.