Birthday Dinner for our 19 year old Granddaughter. Alfredo, Lazagna, French Bread, Cake, and more..

Emily asked me to make the these dishes for her birthday dinner last weekend for this "Sunday's Dinner" and I have it about wrapped up.  I made her and Infinity Scarf with a little bit of cash tucked into it and found a pretty box and made a silk bow for her gift.  Here is the link to make the scarf:

She wanted pasta with Alfredo sauce, salad and home made ranch dressing, home made bread, my 3 layer devils food cake and strawberries.  Since everyone does not like Alfredo I also made my version of Old School Lasagna.

To tell you the truth I got so caught up in getting this dinner for 10 on the table I didn't get half of the photos taken that I should have and it is basically all gone so there is not even enough to make up a pretty plate.  But it did turn out beautifully and I will share the recipes and just be a bit light on photos!

I will use these all again as my "standards" because they turned out perfectly!

Ingredients for 2 loaves French Bread:

5 1/2 t. instant yeast
5 T. sugar
2 C. warm water 110-115 degrees F.
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
5 C. bread flour
1/4 C. cornmeal
1 egg yolk+1 T. water beaten

Using an electric mixer and dough hook add the yeast. sugar, and warm water to the bowl and mix 2 minutes to dissolve.  Add the salt and flour turning the mixer to low until the dough starts to come together.  Turn the speed to medium-high and mix until the dough comes away from the bowl and crawls up the dough hook.

Take a large heavy glass bowl and fill with hot water. Dump the water, dry the bowl, add a couple of tablespoons of soft butter or olive oil and grease it entirely.  Place the ball of dough into the warm buttered bowl and turn once to coat all sides.  Cover with plastic wrap and set in a quiet place until doubled in size, about 1-1 1/2 hours.

When doubled heavily flour the work surface.  Divide the dough in half.  Pat the first half into a 3/4" rectangle and roll tightly starting on the short side and tuck under the ends.  Spread half of the cornmeal on the baking sheet and place the formed loaf atop.  Repeat for the second portion of dough and place it 3" from the first loaf atop the bed of cornmeal.  Sprinkle the remaining cornmeal between and next to the loaves.  Cover the loaves with a clean cloth and set to raise until doubled, about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Place a large flat oven proof pan on the bottom shelf of the oven and fill with water.  I use a cast iron skillet and 1 quart of water.

When the dough has risen cut slashes with a sharp knife and brush loaves with the egg and water mixture.

Bake 45 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from the oven, cool, slice, and serve.  Yield 2 loaves.

I ALWAYS make my lasagna the night before and refrigerate covered with plastic wrap overnight.
Ingredients for Old School Lasagna:

1 chopped onion
2 T. olive oil
5 cloves diced garlic
1/2 C. chopped fresh basil
1 large jar prepared red sauce
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 pounds ground round

salt pepper
1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella cheese
1/2 pound Parmesan cheese
1 pound lasagna noodles cooked and drained

Add  the olive oil to a large kettle and saute the onion until tender, add the garlic and ground round and brown.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add the red sauce, diced tomatoes, and basil and simmer 20 minutes.

Cover the bottom of a 9" x13' deep baking dish with sauce.  Add a layer of 4 noodles overlapping.  Add a layer of sauce and 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese.  Sliced or shredded. Then a 1/3 of the Parmesan.  Repeat noodles, sauce, and cheese until you complete 3 layers ending with the cheese.  Refrigerate overnight covered with plastic wrap.

Remove plastic and tent with foil and bake 1 hour 15 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven .  Let rest 10-15 minutes before cutting.

Yield 12 servings.

Ingredients for Alfredo Sauce:

1 1//2 C. whole milk
1 1/2 C. heavy cream
1 C. shredded Parmesan and Romano cheese, (I like half and half.)
1/2 t. salt
5 egg yolks

Heat the milk and cream to a simmer but do not boil.  Turn off the heat.  Whisk in the cheese.  Beat the egg yolks with a fork until smooth and add 2-3 T. of the hot cream and mix well, add 2 more T. cream to temper the yolks then stir the yolk cream mixture back into the hot cream.  Turn the heat back on low and bring back to a simmer.  Season to taste and let cool a bit to thicken.  Pour over 1 pound of hot, drained, cooked pasta and serve.   Yield 4-6 servings.

The 3 layer cake is at this link:


10 Minute Meal, Steak and Salad

This might be my most favorite quick and easy meal.  Steak and salad.  One thing that makes this nice is we can buy thin cut choice rib eye steaks from our local butcher shop.  They are 1/2-5/8" thick and are perfectly cooked in 7 minutes to our liking.  Actually it will work with any steak you would just to add to the cooking time a bit.  This recipe or "process" is from my late Aunt June Burress who passed many years ago.

Aunt June placed 1-2 T. butter in the bottom of a SCREAMING HOT cast iron skillet.  I changed to olive oil both are fine!  Next slide in your seasoned steak.  Using a second smaller cast iron skillet or a cast bacon or sandwich press, weight down the steak and set the timer.  I start with 4 minutes. 

Meanwhile make the salad and ready the plates!

Turn the steak at 4 minutes, place the weight back atop the meat and set the timer to 3 minutes.  Put ice in the glasses and pour the drinks.

Our steaks are done to the point that my husband doesn't even want any sauce.  He says the meat is just delicious as it is.  I agree!

I have an easy clean up too.   I love this meal.


Pork Loin Under $2.00 @ Pound is a GREAT Buy. Here is how I will package, freeze, and use it!

Eight and a half pounds at $1.98 a pound.  I am happy to package and tuck into my freezer!
Last Friday at the local SAM'S Club I found a deal too good to pass up.  As you know, I seldom buy meat except from our local butcher, I made an exception for this terrific buy.  Today I am removing it from the packers wrapping and breaking it down for freezing.  Currently with gas, meat, produce, and everything I can think of soaring I am all for saving!

Big hunk of meat, it hung across one side of my sink!
This is a big delicious piece of meat with NO waste! It hung across one side of the sink on my meat board!

Tonight is the first time in a week my poor husband can eat regular food due to some issues between he and our dentist.  (Read between the lines please!)

I use a sharp butcher knife and slice in my preferred sizes and stack up on a paper plate.
So I am planning on one of his favorites, tenderloin sandwiches which I make by cutting thin slices,  1/4" to 5/8" thick and pounding out thin between two pieces of plastic wrap.  Next I season, bread, and fry them.  Delicious served on a toasted and buttered bun with all of the fixing's.

I will pound these thin slices between 2 pieces of plastic wrap then bread and fry them for tenderloin sandwiches.
I will slice off several packages of 2 for tenderloins and package between layers of waxed paper and freeze in quart size freezer bags.

These you can fix any way you would a good pork chop!
Next I will thicken the slices to 3/4" and package as previously described for boneless pork cutlets.  These are good BBQ ed, grilled, or breaded and fried like a country pork chops.  The dripping make delicious country milk gravy that is hard to beat with a side of freshly mashed potatoes!

The very end of the leanest end has a tiny bit of waste so I trim it off and slice the lean pork for stir fry of chop suey.
Partially freezing a chunk of the loin will make quick work of cutting for stir fry meals.  By partially freezing I mean placing in the freezer just until partially firmed up.  Then you can easily thin slice and package for freezing in one quart freezer bags.

The two large roasts can be roasted or smoked or BBQ ed for Sunday dinners of thawed and cut down further.
Last but far from least I will make a couple of lovely roasts, say 3-4 pounds each that will just melt in your mouth when roasted and they are seriously EASY to make and are good for a crowd size meal.
these I package in one gallon freezer bags.

YIELD:  2 large loin roasts, 1 stir fry, 3 chop packages, 3 tenderloin sandwiches= 9 meals for under $17.00
I always label the freezer bags with contents and the date.  Hope my thrifty ideas give you a few ideas of your own!


Frying Yeast Donuts at Home

Last week I mixed up Grandma's Yeast Donuts and they have happily sat sealed in a plastic bowl in my refrigerator until today.  I have not been inclined to finish them what with unexpected as well as expected guests and lots of family activities!  Here is the link to my recipe:

Today after a nap I got the bowl of dough and left it to sit about an hour to come to room temperature.  Next half of the dough was easily rolled to about 1/4" and cut into the traditional donut shape.   Then I rolled the second half and placed the shaped dough onto a well buttered cookie sheet and covered with a clean tea towel.

They were doubled in size in 45-55 minutes and ready for the fry!  The lower portion of my cast iron dutch oven seemed a good vessel in which to fry so I poured grape seed oil to a depth of 3" and lit the flame.  (I just like grape seed oil but any good oil is fine.)

It took a little time to preheat the oil but then it did do a beautiful job.  The frying went very quickly at 350 degrees F.  Perhaps taking a minute and a half at the most per side.

Then they were a beautifully puffed golden brown.  As they finished I placed them on a second cookie sheet with a cooking rack placed inside to rest.

While warm using powdered sugar and a sieve they were generously sprinkled with powdered sugar then turned and sprinkled again to perfection!

Yield one dozen large, delicious, warm old fashioned yeast donuts.


Grandma's Yeast Donuts

Yes....I have been missing for a while!  I have traveled a bit and done some fun things!  I was lucky enough to see my grandsons graduate from nursery school and visit my Mother and son.  It was a lot of fun but I am paying now as my knees feel like buckets of bolts!! Looking forward to my shots in a couple of weeks and I will be 35 again for a while.  Chuckle.

My daughter-in-law Julie gave me this recipe of her late grandmother's.  I have intended to make it for sometime now and have just hunted the recipe for the "how to" of it.  I am going to call Brian and have him stop for some good oil for the frying of these but for now I will get it started and leave overnight as the recipe indicates.  I like that a lot!  I am giving this recipe exactly as it was given to me.

Ingredients for Yeast Donuts:

1 pkg. active dry yeast (I am using a scant tablespoon of instant yeast)
1/4 C. warm water
3/4 C. scalded milk
1 stick butter
1/4 C. sugar
1 t. salt
2 beaten eggs
4 C. sifted all purpose flour

In a big bowl combine the yeast and the water to soften.  Let sit about 5 minutes.  In a separate bowl combine the milk, butter, sugar, and salt.  Cool to lukewarm before adding to the yeast.  Add the beaten eggs and milk mixture to the yeast and mix well.  Add half the flour and beat until smooth.  Add the remaining flour and mix well.  Grease a large bowl well with oil and turn the dough into it making sure the dough is entirely coated. 

Chill several hours or overnight in the refrigerator.  Take out a good hour before handling.  Turn out onto a floured surface and divide in half.  Roll half of the dough 1/4" thick.  Cut out and place on a well greased cookie sheet and leave to rise 35-45 minutes or until doubles in size.  Fry in deep hot fat turning once.  Drain on paper towels and roll in powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar while warm.  Best served warm. 

Now the dough has been made and is safely tucked and covered in a very generously buttered bowl in the refrigerator.  I will fry them up sometime over the weekend.  I will post the results.   (Probably with sticky fingers.)

Father's Day Tomato, Cucumber, and Pepper in Our Garden, First Vegetables of 2014.

First ripe tomatoes of 2014.
Two days ago I was very excited to see two tomatoes turning in our garden.  Then last night they were red!  I looked a bit more and found a cucumber and a pepper.

First cuke 2014.
It may be my imagination but this seems the earliest we have ever harvested anything!  One year I let them stay in the garden too long and when I went to pick something else had eaten it!  So today I plan to pick!

First pepper 2014.
I am thinking these will be lovely to serve in our Father's Day dinner Sunday.  They would make a great addition to a big salad.   Happy Father's Day to one and all!


Vanilla Bean Cheese Cake, Made with Vanilla Bean Paste, Perfect for Father's Day Dinner!

Delightful flecks of vanilla bean seeds adorn both the cheese cake filling and topping.

 I have discovered a new product that I adore,Vanilla Bean Paste.  I ordered it through the King Arthur Flour Company Catalog and consider it a real "find".  No more hunting for a vanilla bean when needed and the flavor is stellar!   You also get the tiny vanilla seeds you would get when scraping a vanilla bean.  A teaspoon of the paste is about equal to a tablespoon of vanilla extract or a whole vanilla bean.

Vanilla Bean Paste.  A FIND!

This voluptuous concoction has been on my mind when thinking of a Father's Day dessert for this Sunday's dinner and using it for a Vanilla Bean Cheese Cake seems perfect to me.  Plus this is a make ahead dish and it is always preferable to refrigerate overnight at least before removing from the 10" spring form pan I make it in.  So this will be perfect wrapped and tucked away in my extra refrigerator until then.

Ingredients for Vanilla Bean Cheese Cake:

CRUST:  1 3/4 C. graham cracker crumbs
                1/3 C. melted butter
                1/4 C. sugar

Blend graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter together and press into a 10" spring form that has been buttered generously.  Set aside.  Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Cheese cake after the first baking.
 FILLING:  3, 8 ounce packages of room temperature cream cheese
                   1 1/2 C. sugar
                   4 eggs
                   2 t. vanilla bean paste (or scrape 1 fresh vanilla bean and add.)

Mix cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer for 5 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat the entire mixture for an additional 30 minutes.  Pour into the graham cracker crust and bake for 60 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Evenly spread the sour cream topping.
 TOPPING:  1 1/2 C. sour cream
                    1/4 C. sugar
                    1 t. vanilla bean paste

Blend the topping ingredients together until smooth.  Pour on top of the semi cooled cheese cake.  Return to the 300 degree F. oven for 10 more minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool fully at room temperature.  Cover with plastic cling wrap and refrigerate overnight before removing the sides of the spring form pan.

Cool completely, wrap well, and refrigerate overnight before removing from the 10" spring form pan.

Serve as is or with fruit.  Delicious!  Yield 16 servings.  This will stay quite nicely in the refrigerator for a week and can be wrapped well and frozen for later use.



So easy and so delicious I doubt I will ever fix chicken any other way.
This recipe comes from my youngest sister Sheree.  Everyone loves this chicken and it can be amended to make as much or as little chicken as desired.  We usually up the ingredients a bit and watch it disappear as if we hadn't!  Also you can cut the chicken into smaller portions to speed up the cooking time as desired.  It is so easy and so delicious I doubt I will ever fix chicken any other way.

Ingredients for Sheree's Oven Fried Chicken:

1 1/2-2 pounds boneless chicken cut into serving size pieces
1/3-1/2 C. butter (I use a whole stick , 1/2 C. butter.)
1/2 C. flour
1/4 C. Parmesan cheese
1 t. paprika
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter in the oven inside a square or rectangular baking dish.  ( We most often use a 9" x 13" glass baking dish)  Remove from the oven when melted and set aside.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a plastic bag and shake well to combine.  Insert the chicken a piece at a time into the flour and seasoning mixture and shake.  Place the coated pieces into the melted butter in the dish.  Repeat until all of the chicken is coated. ( Make up more of the coating mixture as needed.)  Place the filled dish in the hot oven for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and turn all of the pieces of chicken.  Return to the oven and bake 20-30 minutes more until done.  It usually takes about an hour as we probably make a bit more chicken....Enjoy!!  We do. 

And thanks to Sheree for this great recipe!  This recipe serves 5-6 adults.


Cherry Pickin' Time in Southern Indiana

Beautiful sour cherries.
Our friends Mark and Shannon Saltzman and their boy Carson of Wadesville, Indiana were so generous to invite us to pick cherries yesterday.  We were blessed with a perfect day!  Sunny and breezy warm but not hot!  We left home at  7:45 AM or thereabouts and gassed up the Chevy, stopped at the McDonald's drive through for coffee and McMuffins and were off to the far west side, baskets in tow.

Mark picks from his ladder.
Their two trees were loaded even though several gallons had already been picked.  Mark climbed his ladder and picked too as he has cherry wine to make and promised to let us try it too!

After picking 15 pounds of cherries you could not tell we had taken any.
There were so many cherries that neither Brian and I used our ladder for they practically fell into our baskets.  The most toil was to hold the baskets!  No bugs either. There was enough breeze to keep them away.  I saw one fly the whole time we were there which was until 10:30AM.

On our way home Brian promised he would never sit under the cherry tree with anyone else but me.
Brian and I kept and even pace and both filled 5 pound boxes then shared a large light weight aluminum pan I use to boil corn in.

Saving those fruit baskets comes in handy!
Mark urged us to wash the cherries well as he had sprayed his trees.  He went on to tell us that the birds would soon find them and strip them in a matter of hours!  Carson has a tournament so we all departed and a lovely morning was had by all indeed!

Once home I used all of my colanders in my sinks to thoroughly wash and drain the cherries.  I rinsed, shook, and drained them all a half dozen times to be sure they were clean.  Next I pitted them into a one quart measuring cup then emptied them into one quart freezer bags topping them with a good shake of salt and a half cup of sugar.  My yield was 7 quarts of beautiful pie cherries.

And guess what we are having for dessert for Sunday Dinner?  Fresh cherry pie!   IF YOU WOULD LIKE MY RECIPE FOR FRESH CHERRY PIE JUST CLICK ONTO THE FOLLOWING LINK.