Carving the Ham and the Turkey TODAY, Peeling Vegetables, Baking Pies for Tomorrow.

Ham as it came from the oven.

Turkey breast as it came from the oven.
I have never seen a turkey or ham carved at the table in real life.  (Does this just happen on TV?)  Our family always does everything in the kitchen and luscious platters and bowls of food are taken to our family table or set up as a buffet,  a prayer of Thanksgiving is said over the meal and the family enjoys the feast.  As I have gotten older and the family has gotten bigger I have found it easier to do as much as possible ahead of time.

So.....yesterday I roasted the turkey and baked the ham, both at the same time I might add!  I wrapped them in large plastic bags after cooling and today I carve them and place them into large covered casseroles to heat back up tomorrow.  The stock was strained and saved for the gravy. 

I have thawed the pie dough that I made ahead and froze to roll out and bake the pies this evening.  Today I will clean and chop all of the vegetables for tomorrow.  This includes dicing the celery and onions for the stuffing or dressing, whichever you call it. The potatoes will be peeled and left covered with water, ready to go!  Preparing the vegetables and dip.  Making the fruit salad and cranberry sauce.  After that I set the table and bring up extra ice to have ready in the kitchen freezer.

Kate and perhaps Emily are coming this afternoon to make cookies for Thanksgiving!  Now let me wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving too!


Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball and Easy Taco Soup for Supper

Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball is Prepared and Ready for Thanksgiving.
Delicious Taco Soup.
When I saw this recipe for Taco Soup I thought it sounded just as good and easier than the one I have always made.  Plus it sounded just right for the run up days before Thanksgiving.  So, yesterday I checked my ingredients and committed to throwing it together today.  I have adapted this recipe from    The name of the blog convinces me it has to be good!

I also want to try this cheese ball as I am certain in a household of Ranch Dressing lovers who also LOVE bacon it will surely be a hit!  I adapted this recipe from one bouncing around Pinterest right now.  It only took a bit of tweaking from me.

Ingredients for Easy Taco Soup:

1 can drained pinto beans
1 can drained kidney beans
1 can drained black beans
2 cans drained yellow corn
1 large can tomatoes broken up with your fork
2 C. beef stock
1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
4 T. Taco Seasoning
2 pounds ground beef chuck
1 onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 C. water
pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Crumble the ground beef into a dutch oven or large heavy bottom kettle and brown over medium high heat.  Meanwhile between stirs dice the onion and garlic and add to the pot and cook along with the beef.

Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat at least 15 minutes or longer watching and adding water it it becomes too thick.  Or transfer everything into a slow cooker and simmer over lowest heat setting to meld the flavors.

Serve with shredded cheese, tortilla chips, diced avocado, or sour cream.   Yield 10 servings.

Ingredients for Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball:

2-8 ounce bars of Philadelphia Cream Cheese at room temperature
1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 C. crisp cooked crumbled bacon
1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch Dip Mix

Place the soft cream cheese in a medium mixer bowl and beat until soft and creamy.  Add the Ranch Mix, lemon juice, Cheddar cheese, and 1/2 cup of the bacon and mix thoroughly.

Using you hands form into a ball.  Roll in the remaining bacon crumbles.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving with assorted crackers or crisp celery sticks.  Yield 1 cheese ball.  

This is wonderful to make ahead and cover in the refrigerator for a few days for the flavors to meld.  It is nice to have things like this tucked away during the holiday season and ready to pull our as needed,  I serve with assorted crackers, pretzels. or crisp vegetables .


Rump Roast, Angel Food Cake and a Big Green Salad for Sunday Dinner. I am sticking with tried and true recipes this week.

Thin sliced cold rump roast makes wonderful sandwiches!
Over the last few days Thanksgiving preparations have continued.  Today I spot cleaned the carpet and used all of the egg whites from the Thanksgiving  noodles to make an Angel Food cake for Sunday Dinner.  I am trying to come up with a place to hide Christmas presents for the Grandchildren that they would not stumble across too!  Here is the link to my favorite Angel Food cake recipe.

The cake plate above is very special to me.  Emily and Katie made it for me as a gift some years ago and it is large, flat, and is decorated with both of their hand prints and finger prints and it says"Grandma's Helpers".  Mighty awesome!

Lazarus' Cheesecake
There was a text message this week asking me to bake cheese cake for a birthday gathering and desserts for a Christmas party too,  So, the cheesecake is ready and will be picked up tomorrow.  I always make an extra cheese cake as backup when I bake for someone else.  I have the extra one put back wrapped and ready for Sunday also.  Here is my best cheese cake recipe link.

This is the cheesecake recipe from the old Lazarus Department store restaurants and has the sour cream topping.   You can also add fruit or it is wonderful as it is from the oven.  There are also several variations.

Today I also prepared a rump roast for Sunday dinner.  I especially like to roast them, wrap them in foil, and refrigerate them before thinly slicing.  I can slice them much more easily when they are cold.  They will make great roast beef sandwiches "Au Jus."  And, here is our favorite rump roast sandwiches recipe link.

Our granddaughter has a new collage room mate and she is bringing her for dinner tomorrow too.  I think I will fix a couple of chicken breasts too in case someone prefers chicken to beef.  So, I have been very busy but not using any new recipes.  Just sticking with the tried and true favorites.  I hope you will try one of these and enjoy them too!


Egg Noodle Questions Answered

This is the batch of egg noodles I made yesterday.
It seems I always get noodle questions and so today I am will talk about making noodles by hand using flour, eggs, and a rolling pin.  That is really all you need.  There are variations to this.  Some people add a teaspoon of this or that although it is not necessary, but you certainly can if you like.  I have seen a teaspoon of milk, water. oil, sour cream, or salt added.  We (our family) tend to salt the stock very well and do not add any to the noodle dough its self.

Ingredients for a "batch" of homemade Egg Noodles:

3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
enough flour to make a stiff dough (Probably 1 1/2 C. flour or so.)

Beat the eggs together in a coffee mug with a fork until well combined and set aside.  Place the flour in  a medium sized bowl and make a well in the center of the mound.  Stir in the eggs until it starts forming a dough.  Flour your hands well and knead the dough inside the bowl until it comes together in a ball. 

Double Batch Drying

Flour at least a 24" x 24" area to roll the dough into a thin round.  Turn the dough several times and keep adding flour as needed to keep it from sticking.  Roll it as thin as you can.  Now leave it to partially dry.  You do NOT want it so dry it will crack but dry enough not to be sticky.  If I have to leave I usually cover it with tea towels to keep it from getting too dry too quickly.

When the noodles are no longer tacky cut each round in half right down the middle and stack the halves atop each other with the straight sides aligned.   Then tightly roll them altogether as shown.

Using a very sharp large knife slice the noodles the desired width.  Our family likes thin noodles but you can easily slice them to be medium or wide.

Finish slicing and toss a bit.  Cook the noodles in hot stock a few minutes or package and store in the freezer until needed.

Cooked and ready to serve Beef and Noodles.


Thanksgiving Menu, Cleaning, & Pre-Holiday Preperations

Noodles rolled and left to dry before slicing.
It is past time to get into the spirit of things and begin the holiday preparations.   Even before the menu I start making the noodles.  It will take at least three batches for Thanksgiving and the same for Christmas.  I have batch one made and rolled out on the big white porcelain counter of the Hoosier Cabinet.  These are made ahead, rolled, cut and then frozen until time to drop them into the bubbling stock.    This is the link if you would like our family recipe and detailed instruction with pictures.

I will turn these and when they are no longer tacky slice.

Thanksgiving Menu:

Roast Turkey Breast
Baked Ham
Mashed Potatoes with Gravy
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potatoes
Crudites & Dip
Pumpkin & Pecan Pies
Iced Tea

Confession.  Today I have started what I have been thinking about for at least a year? What has possessed me to drag down the vacuum and a whole box of trash bags I cannot say.  First I have thought to start here but then I think no, maybe there......Finally I have decided to just start somewhere as no progress can be made just thinking about this task!

The task.  What needs to be done is to go through and reorganize every room, closet, bookshelf, tote, nook, cranny, box, and drawer in this whole house!  What has not been used in the past?  Say six months, well, maybe year needs to go away.  We are pack rats, collectors, appreciators of the vintage to a fault.  My husband even more so than I.  Would you believe he has a ceramic black panther about 10" long that some old lady who owned a jewelry store in the town where he was born gave him as a little boy?  It has moved with us at least a dozen times and sits on the shelf in his side of our bedroom closet?  I of course have an entire drawer devoted to every color style of ladies hose for the last 40 or so years. Doesn't everyone?  Nuts!  Just plain nuts!

My goal.  I would like to get everything shifted around so as to be able to decorate and use the downstairs family room  over the holidays.  Previously our Grandsons were to young to go downstairs so the door remained locked and we all stayed on the top floor.  Now at age 5 they are perfectly able to navigate if I am able to consolidate.  There stands the big if!

So today I start and we shall see how far I get before dismay overtakes me.   I shall keep you posted! 9 AM.,  11/19/13.

Well gang, it is 2:30 PM and I have torn into the down stairs closet and taken a SUV filled with coats, equipment, and decorations to the Good Will.  Next I gave the stove a good cleaning .  After that I was pooped so I made noodles and had a sandwich!  More fun tomorrow!


Tiny Apple Pie Made in a Wide Mouth Ball Mason Jar Lid and More......

This little pie is made in a wide mouth Ball Mason 2 piece canning jar lid.
It has been on my mind for quite a while now to try a wide mouth Ball Mason jar lid and band as a little tart pan or pie plate!  Today I had just enough pie pastry left from rolling out and making a 9" Apple Pie for tonight's Sunday Dinner to give it a try........It worked beautifully!

In addition I had already put a 9" apple pie made from my home canned apple pie filling,  in the oven and I remembered there were a couple of Golden Delicious apples in the refrigerator I could slice to try this theory that has been banging around inside my head.

So,  I grabbed a cap and band from the drawer and proceeded to roll a bottom crust to fit.  Next I fitted it to the lid using the blunt end of a butter knife to tamp the pastry down into the bottom edge being careful not to stretch the pastry.  This is the same pastry I made for the chicken pot pies last week.  Here is the link for the pastry recipe.  

Next I rolled a top crust and cut a few slits for the steam to escape.  I grabbed an apple and after peeling it only took about a third of a medium apple to fill the tiny pie.  I keep cinnamon and sugar made up and used this to sweeten my fruit.  Just a few shakes on top of the fruit and a partial pat of butter and the pie is ready for it's top!  Again I used the cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle the top crust prior to baking. 

After placing the tiny pie on a small baking sheet I placed both pies in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Then I reduced the heat to 350 degrees F and baked an additional 40 minutes resulting in two picture perfect and delicious apple pies......

My thinking was to try this for small tarts and pies, especially for the grandchildren,  It works beautifully and is much closer for most ladies and children to being one serving than do the single serving dishes.   I can't wait to make up more of these during the Holiday's!

Best Cream Cheese Brownie EVER, They Call Them BOOM BOOMS!

Indescribably Delicious!
The gentleman who gave me this recipe over twenty-five years ago grinned and warned me these are better than SEX???  Now I make no guarantees about that but they are REALLY good.  It was about this time of year and I think our youngest son was maybe 14 (That would make it 25 years ago.) and I had gone to work as Christmas help at the old Stewart's Department Store in their Christmas Shop.

 It was so very special back then.  Every year Stewart's hired doormen who dressed in tuxedos with top hats and they opened and closed the store's doors for you and helped you to your car with your packages when needed.  I remember a snow covered evening with maybe 2-3 " of snow on the ground and big fluffy snow flakes drifting to the ground in the moonlight.  It was such a lovely sight.  Almost like a scene you would see and expect to hear someone singing SILVER BELLS.

The gentleman who had been sent in as the assistant store manager was from New York.  I cannot for the life of me recall his name but he was very kind to me.  As the Christmas Shop was in the back of the store on the second floor all of the big brass went by several times a day as the executive offices were yet further behind us.

At any rate we struck up a conversation about favorite foods and he told me about these and of course I asked for the recipe and he was kind enough to call his Mother back in New York and give it to me and now I share it with you.

Ingredients for Boom Booms:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and butter and flour well a 9" x 13" baking pan.  Set aside.

Brownie Mixture:

4 squares of unsweetened chocolate (can substitute 3 tablespoons of cocoa +1 tablespoon of vegetable oil for each square)
2/3 C. vegetable oil
2 C. sugar
4 eggs
1 1/4 C. flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder

Melt together in a double boiler  over simmering water the chocolate and oil in a glass or metal bowl.  Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar after the chocolate had melted and is smooth.    Stir  until well combined. 

Beat together the eggs and add a small amount (About a fourth of a cup or thereabouts.)  of the chocolate to them and stir well to temper.  Add the eggs to the chocolate and beat together.  Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined.

Boom Boom Mixture:

8 ounces of cream cheese
3/4 C. sugar
3 T. flour
3 T. butter
3/4 t. vanilla
1 T. water, or coffee, or coffee liquor

Mix all of the above ingredients together in a saucepan over low hear until it is melted together stirring all of the time.  Turn off the heat when well blended.

Pour 1/2 of the brownie mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan spreading evenly.  Swirl 2/3 of the cream cheese mixture over the brownie mixture.  Pour the rest of the brownie batter atop and spread.   Lastly dollop the remaining cream cheese in an even pattern over the brownie mixture.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes until done then remove and cool. (I baked mine for 38 minutes.)  Yield 18 large brownies.

Be prepared,
'cause these are REALLY good. 



Freezing Chicken Pot Pies with Red Potatoes and Vegetables

Our household is trying to get back to some degree of normalcy.  Brian has slept the last two nights better than in previous days which does wonders for both of us.  So, yesterday I started to finish some of the tasks on my "to do" list.  It is a doozy of a list and it is long past my thinking and needs to be done!

Chicken pot pies do not commonly call for potatoes but since I had a few to use up I added them to my recipe.  They are red potatoes and are waxy rather than fluffy and starchy which leads me to think they should be more likely to freeze without becoming mealy.  So we shall see.  I will report back in this posting if this does not prove out as I intend.

Ingredients for Freezing Chicken Pot Pies with Red Potatoes:

2 free range chickens cooked with skin and bones removed and torn into bite sized chunks
4 carrots diced, about 3 cups
4 stalks of celery diced, about 3 cups
1 large onion diced, about 1 1/2 cups
3 medium red potatoes diced, about 2 cups
1 pound bag of frozen peas , about 3 cups
1 stick of butter
2 quarts chicken stock
1/2 C. flour
2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
2-4 chicken bouillon cubes to fortify stock to taste
1 recipe pastry for 5 pie crusts (freeze any remaining for later use if needed)


4 C. all purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) very cold butter cut into dice size pieces
1/2 C. Crisco
1 t. salt
1 T. sugar (optional)
1/2 C. ice water
1T. vinegar
1 egg

Whisk the dry ingredients together and add the cold butter and shortening using a pastry cutter until the mixture is well combines and the lumps are about the size of peas.  Using a fork beat the egg into the water and add the vinegar.  Pour into a well you have made in the center of the bowl of flour.  Stir together until combined then flour your hand and knead until the pastry forms a ball.   Divide the dough into fourths or fifths and pat into smooth, round, flat disks.  Wrap each disk with waxed paper or plastic wrap and drop all of the disks into a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days or freeze.

Chicken Filling:

Melt the butter in a large heavy bottomed pot.  Add the diced vegetables and cook over medium low heat until they are soft, stirring every few minutes.  About 10-15 minutes.  Add the flour and continue to stir and cook.

Add the stock and stir and cook until thickened.  Add salt, pepper, and bouillon stirring to dissolve in the mixture.  Add the chicken and peas and heat through.  Make any adjustments as needed in the seasoning.  Ladle the filling into freezer/oven safe dishes and fill.  Roll pastry and cover.  At this stage you can cut slashes in the crust for the steam to escape or wait and do before you bake them.  Wrap in heavy duty foil and quickly freeze.

To serve remove from the foil and place dish on a baking tray place in a preheated 400 degree oven for 1 hour for individual serving dishes.  For larger dishes add more time to ensure the dish is cooked through at the center.  Just check and adjust baking times.

This recipe yielded 6 single portions and 2 double portions or 10 large servings.  This can also be baked in pie plates or in 9"x13" casseroles.

I like to use large handled soup mugs and it makes a nice portion for an easy dinner on a cold winters night!  Enjoy!  I am ready for the cold wind to blow now.


Asian Chicken Mushroom Broth or Soup, Good for What Ails You! And, Preserving Lemon Grass.

Steaming Hot Asian Chicken Soup.
We have had more issues with illness this fall than ever in our 40 years of marriage!  Friday my poor husband had a temperature of 103 degrees F. by the time I got him into our doctors office.  That is a lot of temperature for an adult.  So I am pulling out all of the stops!  Doing everything I know to do to help get him back on his game again.

I had already started juicing as noted in earlier posts and today I broke out the chicken soup!  The special chicken soup chocked full of the herbs and vegetables that are known to have curative properties,  I am hoping this will, along with the medicines from our doctor push him over the top and get him back to his happy and well self.  This is his third lung infection in as many months!

Ingredients for Asian Chicken Mushroom Stock or Soup:


2 chickens
2 large onions quartered
14 cloves of garlic
2-3" piece fresh ginger sliced
2 hot peppers
2 stalks of lemon grass bruised
2 C. shitake mushrooms
chicken bouillon cubes
black pepper
1 C. dry *Goji berries (found at Asian markets and Health food stores alike.)

Cooked cooled rice
Sliced green onions for garnish, optional
Diced chicken, optional
Diced carrots, optional
Diced celery, optional
Frozen peas, optional
Soy sauce, optional
Hot sauce, optional

Combine the first 8 ingredients in a very large stock pot and cover until the water is 2" deep covering the chicken.  Bring to a boil and simmer 1 1/2 hour.  Remove the chicken to a large platter to cool.
Add salt, pepper, and bouillon to the stock to taste.  Add the Goji berries and simmer at lowest setting for 20 minutes more then turn off the heat.  Remove the chicken from the carcass.  At this time you can strain the stock and freeze for use later.  It may be served pipping hot in a mug or you can add chicken, rice, and vegetables and serve as a soup.

To serve as a soup bring a portion of the stock to a rolling boil.  Add desired amount of the raw diced vegetables and simmer 15 minutes or so until tender crisp, add cooked diced chicken and return to a boil.   Place a half cup of cooled rice in a serving bowl and ladle the hot stock atop the rice and chicken.  Garnish with sliced green onions, hot sauce,  and a splash of soy sauce if desired.

If you freeze some of the stock leave 1" head space.  Cooked rice and cooked chicken also freeze well.  This concoction settled my husbands stomach and he was better next morning.

*Goji berries are a newly discovered super food known to have great restorative properties.

My pot of Lemon Grass was handy to have still sitting out on the patio to make this.  I realized it was going to be our first hard freeze tonight!  The temperature predicted to drop to 28 degrees!  So I pulled it all up,  cut the tops down to about 6",  and cleaned off the bulbs much as you would a green onion, but they are much harder and fibrous.  Using my butcher knife on a cutting board I trimmed the bottom root off.  After drying them of any moisture from rinsing them I placed them into a freezer bag and stowed them in the deep freeze to use another day.


Sour Cream & Vanilla Bread. The Best Bread Machine Loaf I have Ever Tasted.

Every once in a while I meander over to a site called Homesteading Today.  Recently I was enticed by this recipe for a bread machine loaf posted by Tirzah in the bread section of their on line cookbook.  I had planned a pot of clam chowder and the day was dark, rainy, and cold.  I  didn't feel compelled to leave the house for a loaf of bread and I was in no mood to do anything at all actually.  Sort of my recovery mode after doing a lot and being gone, if you know what I mean.

It turned out to be a high topped 1 1/2 pound loaf, with a crisp golden brown crust and very soft interior.  The kitchen smelled of vanilla while it was baking with but a hint of the flavor.  It was delicious and it toasted beautifully this morning for breakfast.

I am thinking of making it again minus the vanilla and adding ground flax seeds and perhaps a few more interesting ingredients.

It made a beautiful loaf with such a small effort, that made it perfect for my day!  The clam chowder was good and the day ended much better than it had begun.

Ingredients for Sour Cream & Vanilla Loaf:

1/2 C. warm water (under 115 degrees F.)
1-2 T. vanilla extract (I used 1 T.)
1/3 C. sour cream
1 egg ( I used large)
1 T. soft butter
3 C. bread flour (I used King Arthur All Purpose)
3 T. sugar
1 1/4 t. salt (I used kosher)
2 t. yeast (I used instant)

Place the first 5 ingredients in the bottom of the bread machine bucket.  Sprinkle in the next 3 ingredients evenly to cover the liquids.  Using a spoon make a shallow trough across the top of the flour and sprinkle the yeast into the trough end to end.

Select basic cycle and medium crust,  then start the machine.  Yield one delicious 1 1/2 pound loaf.


Fall is a Beautiful Time for a Drive to Indianapolis.

The leaves are indeed beautiful here right now.  I think they may have hit their prime during my last weekends drive north to Fishers, Indiana.  Thursday I headed north bound on State Road 57 for my 200 plus mike drive.  The terrain here, in the south of Indiana is quite wooded and hilly and it becomes much flatter the further north you drive.  Cornfields increase as the woods disappear.

Fishers is just northeast of Indianapolis the capitol of Indiana and it is located almost dead center in the state.  My camera did not capture the size of the hills but I think you get a feel for our fall foliage.

When I arrived Jack and Sam (my grandsons) were happy to have a whirl at a batch of Snickerdoodles.  I learned they loved these cookies most of all when I went to their Grandparent's Day earlier in the year.  This is the recipe I always use when I want the perfect cookie!  It is one I have used all of my adult life and came from an old Betty Crocker Cookbook, now without a cover and missing pages!

Here is a link to that recipe if you would like to try them.

They were most amazed to watch through the lit oven door as the balls of cookie dough melted into flat cookies and perfumed the house with the smell of cinnamon and baking.

On the way home I stopped in Martainsville and saw Grandma Powell.  She has again gifted me with more unfinished quilt tops.  This time with four additional making a total of eight,  

These quilt tops are also very old as seen in the fabrics.  More treasure.