2010 is behind us and a whole new year lies ahead of us! A year full of all sorts of new, exciting, and wonderful possibilities! I pray that 2011 is off to a great start in your home, that the Lord's blessings are many, and that His love, care, and provision are evident in every single area of your life!
How was your Christmas? Ours was good. We had our family Christmas on the 11th (I mentioned that in the last issue of HEARTH AND HOME...that's when we got all our children and grandchildren together in one place at one time and it was WONDERFUL!). From that point on, however, virtually the entire family has been sick with one thing or another (mostly sore, scratchy throats, coughing, congestion, etc.) and we just can't seem to shake it. This has been going on for weeks now! It's not enough to keep us down really; it's just enough to be aggravating.
Oh, well, there's really nothing more to say about that. Why don't you grab a cup of something hot (tea, coffee, cappuccino?) and join me for a nice, quiet visit!
1) In the last newsletter I mentioned that we were expecting our ninth grandchild before Christmas. Miss Sarah Kathleen arrived December 22nd, 2010 and what a beautiful baby she is! Clicking here to see pictures:
Congratulations to Buddy and Christy on the birth of their third child!
2) And shortly before Sarah was born we found out that yet another grandchild is on its way! Patrick and Amber are expecting their third child in July! This will be grandbaby #10 for us! (Can you believe it??? Not bad at all considering John and I are both only children! WOW!) Congratulations, Patrick and Amber!
3) In the December issue of HEARTH AND HOME I shared the recipes for DIRTY SNOWBALLS and PEANUT BUTTER BALLS...neither of which I had made at that point, but was planning to do so...which, with the help of two of my grandlittles, I did so. To see pictures click here:
4) During the Christmas season my husband lost a dear uncle. Our heart goes out to the family.
5) Over the past month or so we've been doing a little fixing up here and there as we can. My husband painted the kitchen cabinets and he and our son added new trim along the bottom of the lower set (they've never had trim since we lived here!). We also fixed the sink cabinet (sort of) and my husband plans on putting in a new faucet tomorrow.
As part of our Christmas one of our sons' blessed us with some work in the bathroom. He basically put in a new wall, a new shower, and a new tub-surround. My husband finished the job by painting the surrounding wall board and adding new trim. It looks and feels so good!
6) Instead of grabbing an expensive, greasy, calorie-laden, on-the-go breakfast, try making your own healthier, more inexpensive, made-at-home alternative...
HOMEMADE "EGG MCMUFFINS"
Start by keeping a bag or two of whole-wheat English muffins in the freezer and a package of 2% cheese or fat-free cheese slices in the fridge.
Next, fry up a package of turkey bacon (we prefer Oscar Meyer over all other brands tried). After frying, cool and bag up in a Ziplock freezer bag. That way it's ready to use in a hurry.
On the mornings when you're ready to make "Egg McMuffins"...especially if you're going to be traveling...heat a skillet on the stove, spray with non-stick cooking spray, add a clean canning-jar ring (top side down), and spray it real good inside, too. When good and hot drop an egg in the middle of the jar ring, salt, pepper, and let egg cook until set.
While the egg is cooking toast English muffins in the toaster and heat bacon slightly in microwave. When done top muffin with cheese and one slice bacon torn into smaller pieces. Place on plate and keep warm in oven.
When egg is set on one side flip over and remove jar ring. Finish cooking and sit on top of cheese and bacon on the English muffin. Top with top half of muffin and viola! It's ready to be eaten fresh or wrapped in brown paper bags to eat on the road!
7) This recipe served with fresh-baked cornbread make a warm, hearty, and filling winter meal...
TEX-MEX HOT BEANS
Wash and sort 1 lb. pinto beans. Put into a large pot and cover with water. Boil for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand one hour. Meanwhile, in a crock pot which has been turned on LOW, place:
1 can tomatoes
1 can green chilis, diced
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. Italian herbs
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste
crushed red pepper to taste
Drain and rinse beans. Replace beans in a large pot and just cover with water. Again bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour boiling beans and liquid into crock pot with tomato mixture. Cover and cook on LOW overnight or for 8 to 10 hours.
8) I made this yummy recipe with leftover Christmas turkey...
4 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
1 can sliced mushrooms with liquid
1/2 lg. green pepper, chopped
1/2 c. cold water
3 T. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 c. chopped turkey or chicken
1/4 c. grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Non-stick cooking spray
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, cook the mushrooms and green pepper in mushroom liquid. Add salt, pepper, and bouillon cube; stir until dissolved.
3. In a jar or cup combine 1/2 water and flour; cover and shake, or stir, until well mixed. Stir flour mixture into the vegetable mixture in saucepan. Stir in milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add cooked spaghetti, turkey, and cheese.
4. Lightly coat a 2-quart square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour spaghetti mixture into dish. Bake covered for 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through. Makes 6 (1-cup) servings.
9) Recently, I asked you all for advice concerning an easier way to chop vegetables and for bean recipes. Here are a few of the responses that I have received thus far...
Laura Lane of Harvest Lane Cottage says:
Lentils and Rice
Lentil & Vegetable Soup
You probably already have a ham and bean soup recipe; but, here's mine.
This one uses canned beans; but, it's a great emergency dinner. I made it up myself for just such a situation.
Just for good measure, here's a dish we enjoy for lunch, stir-fried cabbage.
You may share them if you wish. I cannot wait to see what new recipes you share!
God bless you!
(Thanks, Laura! I plan on checking every one of these links out and trying your favorite recipes! Thanks for sharing! You always such a blessing to me!)
Annette S. says:
I use a Vidalia Onion Choper that has two different blade trays. You can often pick them up in a Kitchen Collection store for $2chops0. You still have to cut them into relatively decent size pieces, but it chops them up into cubes or dices them. I also use a food processor to slice and shred veggies.
As for bean and pea recipes, I'll have to wait until I get home and can dig into my recipe books.
Happy New Year!
Annette goes on to say in a second e-mail:
Just in case you missed or overlooked my last email, I mentioned that I use the Vidalia Onion Chopper to chop veggies. Mine has two blade trays. You still have to do some cutting, but not as much tedious chopping by hand. For slicing and shredding, I use a food processor.
I've been talking to my sister about beans and peas. She has the following suggestions:
1) Do not cook your beans/peas in the same water as you soak or parboil them. Pour off the original water and rinse them. Add new water to cook them.
2) To further enrich your split pea soup, add potato chunks and other veggies to make them into more of a meal instead of just a soup. You can leave the skin on the potato pieces to retain food value/vitamins.
3) If you scrub the carrots, you can also get away with not peeling them.
4) A-1 Steak sauce is simply catsup with Worcestershire sauce added. Look for the Worcestershire sauce in the $$ stores.
5) For Chinese cooking, use toasted sesame oil and soy sauce = dumpling sauce and dumplings can either be steamed or fried. Add dumplings to sauce.
6) Use Ramen noodles for all kinds of things; yoiu can even eat the noodles raw like potato chips and save the seasoning for soups and dressing. You can even add egg to the soup for "egg drop soup."
7) Beware of the noodles, though, because they are prefried; the seasoning is also high-sodium.
8) Add egg or egg white to cereal to further enrich the cereal. It can be either instant or old-fashioned. I also add steel-cut oats (2 Tt.) to a serving of regular oatmeal for extra fiber and crunchiness.
9) Tofu - add to Chinese food dishes or even macaroni and cheese or any dish for a meat and protein extender. Even add it to scrambled eggs.
10) Brown rice and lentils is an upgrade in protein and vegetables. You can also add lentils to corn for the same purpose. My sister said the brown rice and lentils go great with poached eggs. Cook the lentils first and pour off water and add rice and cook again. Brown rice is best, but if you cannot afford brown rice, the lentils will further enrich your rice. The most economical way to purchase brown rice is in bulk through Chinatown -- possibly online. You can even purchase soy sauce that way. Lowfat cottage cheese is also a multi-purpose protein extension.
Hope these all help. I will give you a recipe I gleaned from a magazine several years ago for a delicious bean soup. However, I'll need to wait until I get back home from vacation.
Happy New Year!
(Thanks, Annette! There are a lot of really great ideas here and I appreciate all that you've shared! I especially appreciate the tip on making your own A-1 Sauce! Can't wait to try that one!!! Thanks again for everything! You are always a blessing to me!)
Cynthia D. says:
Your goal of simpler foods and more wholesome and healthy foods is one that I share with you. A few thoughts of mine:
~To slice many of my veggies, I use a mandolin. Mine is an inexpensive version I bought online at The Prepared Pantry and it makes quick work of fresh carrots, potatoes, rutabagas, etc. I also use it for tomatoes and onions. It's adjustable for thickness, and has several different blades for slicing, making french fry shapes, etc. Well worth the investment!
~Before chopping or dicing, make sure you've sharpened your knives! This makes such a difference! I like to chop several onions at once and freeze them in 1/2 cup portions...or spread out on a cookie sheet you've covered with wax paper and freeze them and then put in a container. You can take out what you need! I also do this with bell peppers, mushrooms, and any other veggie that doesn't need parboiled before freezing.
~After cooking beans, some can be mashed and added to ground beef for meat loaf, meatballs, etc. Work with it to get the right ratio of bean:meat that your family likes. Not only does this extend your meat budget, but provides leaner and healthier nutrition at the same time. I prefer using pinto beans for this, as that is what I cook most, but you can experiment with other types.
~Cooked beans can be frozen. I often cook a double batch of beans and then freeze them in serving size containers with their liquid. Makes for quick & healthy suppers on busy days!
~Hoppin' John is a favorite here in my home--black-eyed peas with rice. Red beans & rice is another favorite. I'm in WV, but originally from the South, so many of the southern dishes are in my menus. Browse around online for regional bean dishes--I know you'll find many your family will love. Boston Baked Beans, cooked the old-fashioned way, are another fav here with us!
Well, I hope some of these ideas have been a help to you. I look forward to your newsletters and get excited when I see one in my inbox! Keep up the fantastic homemaking and mothering you've been doing--you're an inspiration to many!
Cynthia Robin DeHart
(Thanks, Cynthia! I appreciate all that you have written here. I had never heard of a mandolin before. I just looked them up on-line and can't wait to try one! Thanks for everything! And God's blessings upon you! :)
Thank you to everyone who has sent in ideas so far, and if anyone else has advice on an easier way to chop fresh vegetables (I do it all by hand) and/or favorite bean or pea recipes, please, by all means, e-mail them to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much!
Well, Ladies, again, this is not nearly as long as I would like for it to have been, but it's all I've got time for tonight. I will write again soon and, in the meantime, you all have a wonderful New Year! God bless all here!
All My Love,