Friday, May 29, 2009

Corn with Cream Cheese

My family hails from hearty mid-western stock...where the best corn in the world is grown, nurtured with love and lots of sunshine. Nobody does corn like those farmers. Whenever I buy corn here in the PNW I am always disappointed. These people have no idea what true "sweet" corn is. My granddad, "Bampa",  was a true connoisseur of corn.  My nineteenth summer I went back to work in Bampa's firm, and towards the end of summer corn became king. Every evening on our way home from work, Bampa would search out a stand and stop to pick up several ears of corn for my Gaga to cook for dinner. There is nothing in this world sweeter than corn picked fresh from the field. I think by the end of that summer I was a cornaholic.

Possibly my fondest memory of Bampa took place on one of his birthdays which fell right in the middle of corn harvest. The family was there for a birthday dinner, and my aunt presented him with her gift....a huge bag of fresh corn. Gaga immediately prepped and cooked it so that by the end of dinner it was ready to eat. And eat Bampa did! After a full dinner, he sat there and consumed 13 ears! And I am not kidding!!! This is family legend. And I was witness to it. The man loved his corn.

And that, my friends, is what corn is all about.

The following recipe, sadly, is made with canned corn, but come this summer I am going to make this from fresh....even if it was grown in the PNW. After all, beggars can't be choosers. (from Farm Journal Best-Ever Recipes, published 1977)


1/3 cup cream (you could use half-&-half or milk)
2 oz. cream cheese
1 TBS. butter
salt and pepper to taste
1  15 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained
paprika to make it pretty

Combine cream, cream cheese, butter, salt, and pepper in saucepan.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until cheese melts and is blended. Add corn and heat. Sprinkle paprika on top before serving. 

Notes:This a very simple, very rich dish that would  accompany a simple meat or fish entree nicely, and can easily be doubled or tripled. I will absolutely be making this with fresh corn this summer. Hubby swooned over this one! Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Broccoli-Rice Bake

Next to cooking, tutoring, and maybe quilting, the thing I really love to do is read. I'm not a heavy duty, philosophical, non-fiction (for the most part) reader.  Pure escapism is where I get my jollies. It's my "Calgon, take me away" fix. I especially love good detective and suspense novels. But recently I strayed a bit from my norm and read an incredibly funny memoir about....drum roll!  I just finished Julie&Julia...My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell. Seems young Julie, back shortly after 9/11, was feeling some dissatisfaction with her career, or lack there of, and decides she should take on the project of cooking Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volume 1. And she is going to do it in one year....524 recipes. And she is going to blog about it. This after a full day of work that wasn't very satisfying. What was she??? Nuts??!! The book regales the reader with stories from that experience. And the book is also now a movie being released this summer with Meryl Streep as Julia Child and Amy Adams as Julie Powell. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and am looking forward to the movie in August. But be warned, Julie's language is a bit bawdy.

Personally, I am sticking to the recipes from the Farm Journal's cookbooks. Few surprises, and I understand the processes these hardy farm women used. And the majority of people I cook for will eat these dishes. Such as the following.

This is a delicious side that dresses up a main meat dish such as chicken, chops, or fish, but is also great as a meatless entree. And as a dish for a pot luck, you can't beat it. I did some updating to the original recipe, both to add flavor and nutrition. This is one of my hubby's favorite dishes. (Farm Journal's Best-Ever Recipes, published in 1977.)


2 TBS. butter or half butter and half olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 stalks celery chopped
3 cloves garlic grated
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup chicken broth (if you want to make this vegetarian use vegetable broth)
1 to 1 1/2 cups packed grated cheddar cheese
4 oz. cubed Velveeta (trust me on this)
3 cups cooked brown rice
2 medium to large heads of fresh broccoli chopped in large pieces and cooked until just barely tender (it cooks more in the casserole)

Saute onion, celery, and garlic in butter in a large saucepan until the veggies are very tender. Combine soup, broth and cheese. Add to the saucepan and heat until the cheeses are melted. Combine rice and broccoli in a very large bowl. Gently stir in the soup/cheese mixture. Fold until thoroughly mixed. Pour into a greased 2 quart casserole or 9 X 13 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Notes: This casserole has many layers of flavor. The brown rice and fresh broccoli add another layer of nutrition. It's side dish that can do double duty as a vegetarian main dish. Hurray for versatility.  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Meatball Stew

As life has a tendency to go these days, I've been sidetracked the last few days from posting. It seems hubby needed to have a pesky tumor (which he lovingly named "Curly") removed from his spine today. We've been at the hospital since yesterday (and as I write I am still here), surgery is complete, and, with success, "Curly" is history. So, as hubby sleeps off the effects of anesthesia, I am back to work here.

Ah, meatballs....I love meatballs. There is something so hardy, so satisfying, so versatile about the meatball. And I am sufficiently lazy enough to not make my own. There are so many different brands of frozen meatballs to choose from, that I see no point in wasting  precious time gathering all the ingredients, mixing said ingredients, forming the balls, and then browning them. Most days I am pressured for time, so just let me cut open a bag and throw them into a pan to brown. As my younger students would say, "Easy, peasy. Lemon squeezie."

This recipe is for a wonderfully hearty, flavorful stew that totally hits the spot on a cool evening. We like to eat it just about any season, even in the summer. Although this is baked in the oven, we don't mind the extra heat in the kitchen. We have central air, so I am priveleged to cook whatever my little heart desires.  And my heart (and belly) desire this dish frequently. At this point I have 9 (yes, that may be a bit of overkill) Farm Journal cookbooks, and this recipe has appeared in at least 4 of them. That should be your first clue as to how good this is!


1 1/2 to 2 lbs. frozen meatballs (or you can make your own favorite recipe)
1-2 TBS. oil
3 TBS. flour
1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried crushed basil
3 or 4 medium red or Yukon gold potatoes (wash but don't peel)
1  1/2 to 2 cups baby carrots
1 onion coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery sliced

Brown meatballs in oil in a large hot skillet. Remove to a 3 quart casserole and drain all but 3 TBS. of fat from skillet.  Blend in flour. Add tomatoes and water and stir out any lumps. Stir in rest of the ingredients.  Bring mixture to a boil and simmer 10 minutes. Add more water if necessary. Pour over the meatballs in the casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until veggies are tender.

Notes:As I said, "Easy, peasy." Instead of using a skillet, I did this in my dutch oven, first on top of the stove and then into the oven. I didn't put the meatballs on the bottom. I just mixed it all together. Rolls and a salad and total meatball Nirvana.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Beef and Noodle Medley

In pursuit of completing my commitment (to myself) to spend a year cooking from Farm Journal cookbooks, I have been adding to my collection. Thank you Amazon used book sellers. The range of prices is mind boggling. I purchased one for $00.12, yet some are priced at close to $200! Crazy. You won't catch me paying that for a cookbook. Granted, the 12 cent one is a bit musty smelling, but, hey, the recipes still work, right?

This latest book is Farm Journal's Country Cookbook revised enlarged edition. It was first published in 1959 and reprinted in 1972, and it is a hoot. The running commentary through the book is so standard '50s speak. For example, this little paragraph from the intro.

     "Appetizers and snacks have become important. Many a country hostess now serves a beverage as first course in the living room---often tomato or fruit juice, cocktails or wine, with crisp chips or vegetables and dips or dunks. This affords informal visiting for her husband and guests;meanwhile, the hostess puts final touches on the company meal. Smart country cooks tell us this sidetracks well-meaning friends who want to "help," but who often delay dinner instead. So in this edition full chapters are devoted to recipes for appetizers and snacks, and beverages."

Who knew we were supposed to distract our guests? Personally, I can take all the help I can get in the kitchen. We've come a long way, baby!

There are also quite a few recipes I won't be sharing out of this book...things that have to do with parts of animals I don't deal with, and some things I just flat have never heard of. Does anyone know what "salsify" is? It apparently has nothing to do with salsa. I think it is some sort of plant. If you know...share.

On to the recipe. I am really big on one dish meals...dishes that only need a salad and bread. This one is like hamburger helper without the box. It's quick and tasty and heats well in the microwave for lunch the next day. I am all about versatility. (This recipe is from Family Favorites from Country Kitchens, published in 1973.)

"A fast-fix skillet dinner that's served often on a Montana ranch."


1 TBS. olive oil
1 TBS. butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
2 cloves grated garlic
8 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms
1 lb. ground beef
2 cup wide egg noodles (the Country Pasta works great here)
1 15 oz. can kidney beans
2 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper

In a large skillet (my 12 inch saute pan works great for this) saute onion, celery, red pepper, garlic, and mushrooms in butter and oil until veggies are very tender. Then add ground beef and brown. Drain excess juices. Add uncooked noodles, undrained kidney beans, tomatoes and sauce, and spices. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover. Simmer 20 minutes or until noodles are tender. 

Notes:This is so fast and easy to fix. It tastes good and is filling. Works great on those crazy week nights when kids have soccer, piano, homework, and cupcakes to be made for the school carnival the next day. LOOVVEE these kinds of dishes!  Enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Scalloped Potatoes with Pork Chops

OK, right up front I am going to admit this did not turn out well. I think it was one of those mornings that, as the Mary Chapin Carpenter song goes, the stars were stacked against me and I should have stayed in bed. First hubby, who seems to have some strange aura that surrounds him when it comes to electronics, clicked something on the computer and sent the desktop on the laptop reeling. Much chastising ensued, and I made dire warnings of what would happen to him should he do it again. Later in the day I finally restored the laptop, and proceeded to start the recipe for this posting. It was late in the day, and I realized I had not read the recipe very closely. The dang dish was going to take 1 1/2 hours in the oven. Dinner was not going to be ready until almost 7. Alright, it was still doable. I assembled everything, and put it in the oven. It had been along day, so I thought a rest was in order so laid down and read for a bit. About the time the foil was supposed to come off the dish for the last half hour, hubby walks in and asks if dinner is ready since the oven was off. HOLY CRAP! Somehow I had managed to turn the oven off when I stuck the potatoes and pork chops into the oven! Dinner gets put off another hour, and hubby laughs his rear off, and decides that after the computer fiasco he now has a "get out of jail free" card.

Fast forward to the dish actually being done....I plate it up to photograph, aim the camera, and...nothing. The stupid camera is on the fritz again. And after all of this, do you think this yummy sounding dish was yummy? Of, course not! I decided these were the pork chops that were destined to not be blogged. 

So, today, no recipe. I have some ideas on how to improve this dish, and make it as delectable as it deserves. When I work the kinks out, I will post it, with accompanying photos.

Until then...visualize yummy scalloped potatoes with pork chops. They will be wonderful! I promise.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Raspberry Swirl

Before I go any further, you have to know that my hubby has the most intense sweet tooth ever. He can feel like "death warmed over,"  as my mother would say, and still want whatever sweet happened to be lurking in the fridge or freezer. After observing his family for over 35 years, I am fairly certain it is genetic. Whenever the gang gets together we all leave in a sugar high! It is a truly lovely feeling. Even in his parents last days in their home, the freezer was never devoid of ice cream. And most of the time neither is ours.

Fortunately, hubby does put his money where his sweet tooth is. He does like to bake. And the following recipe, which is heavenly on a hot summer day, was made by him. (Recipe from Farm Journal's Best Ever Recipes, published in 1977.)


3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 TBS. melted butter
2 TBS. sugar
3 eggs separated
1 8 oz. package cream cheese softened
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 10 oz. package frozen mixed berries (we had marionberries, raspberries, and blueberries)

Combine crumbs, butter, and 2 TBS. sugar. Press mixture into a well-greased 10 inch pie plate. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool completely.

Beat egg yolks in bowl until thick. Add cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and salt. Beat until smooth and light.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites and whipped cream into cheese mixture.

Puree berries. Gently, very gently, swirl half of puree through cheese filling; spread mixture in crust. Spoon remaining puree over top; again, very gently swirl with a knife.  (If you are too vigorous in your swirling, you will have a purple mess.  Not pretty.)  Freeze, then cover and return to freezer.

Notes: This really is a very light and refreshing dessert. And sooooo pretty. It does need to remain in the freezer when not be served. One of the very lovely things about this dessert is that there is a little too much filling for the pie plate so that while you are waiting for it to freeze you can indulge a bit and get a preview of coming attractions. Grab a spoon and dig in!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Basque Potatoes

Potatoes are one of those foods which is exceeded in it's variety of uses only by chicken and ground beef.  As I ponder all the dishes I have made using the humble spud I picture Forrest Gump's friend Bubba as he spews his litany of shrimp dishes.  Baked, mashed, oven roasted, oven fried, french fried, au gratined, scalloped, with roasts, in soup, in cold potato salad, in hot potato salad. You get the picture. To not have potatoes every other night as a side dish takes herculean restraint on my part. And now that there are so many more varieties available...well, it's just frickin' endless. But Basque potatoes was a new one for me. As I did some research on the dish I found, of course, that there are endless ways to prepare this dish that ranged from stove top to oven, with a variety of herbs and spices. Too many choices gave me a headache.  I decided to stick with the Farm Journal recipe with a few tweaks of my own. And, if I do say so myself, they turned out pretty darn yummy. (This recipe is from Family Favorites from Country Kitchens published in 1973 by Farm Journal.)


1 TBS.  butter
1 TBS. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup shredded carrot
2 cloves garlic grated or minced
2 cups chicken broth
2 lbs. red potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
1 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
chopped fresh Italian parsley

Saute onion, celery, carrots, and garlic in the butter and oil until very tender. Add the chicken broth, potatoes, salt and pepper to pan. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Remove cover and add herbs and paprika. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes or until broth reduces and thickens. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Notes:This is an excellent side dish for oven fried chicken that does not afford the opportunity to make gravy.  These potatoes come equipped with their own. And since there is no flour or milk it is half way to being figure friendly. Enjoy!

Farm Journal

As I stated a few days ago, I am devoting this blog to Farm Journal cookbook recipes. I emailed Farm Journal to ask about copyright issues. The kind woman who responded said she didn't think there was a problem as long as I cite the cookbook in which the original recipe appeared, and I provided a link to the Farm Journal website. The link is now posted under Favorite Links. The Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken is from Farm Journal's Best-Ever Recipes published in 1977, and the Sweet and Sour Green Beans is from Family Favorites from Country Kitchens, published in 1973.  Both of these recipes have been altered to be more contemporary, but not more expensive. And that is my goal here...update the recipes, keep them economical and tasty. Wouldn't the whole world improve if families actually sat down to dinner together a few nights a week? I think we should all make that a goal. Who and what are at your table tonight?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sweet and Sour Green Beans

Before I launch into these lovely green beans, let me take a few moments to impart my philosophy and reason for cooking. Cooking keeps me sane! That's pretty much it in a nutshell. For me creating something tasty and beautiful that I can share with others from essentially a hodgepodge of ingredients is almost as fulfilling as creating a new life...almost. During huge times of stress, cooking has been a great relief and release. Granted, it hasn't done much for girlish figure, but, oh, well. As my hubby would tell you, I am financially pretty low maintenance. I don't drink, smoke, carouse, spend ungodly amounts on clothes or shoes, require being taken to dinner and movies or vacations on any kind of regular basis, or even spend much on cosmetics. But I do love my kitchen supply shops. Food brings people together...and I am not talking purchased prepared foods. I'm talking belly filling, aromatic, eye pleasing meals. And this is what I am about.

Now, with that out of my system...on to the green beans.

These are a bit time consuming, much like risotto. But like good risotto, worth it. The levels of flavor in these will knock your socks off.


1 lb. fresh green beans
2 strips bacon cut into small pieces
1/2 half small onion chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (do not substitute)
2 TBS. sugar (I actually used Splenda)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Wash and snap the ends off the green beans. Set aside. Cook the bacon until about half way to crisp in a large skillet. When the bacon is about half way done add the onion and continue to cook until bacon is crisp. Add the green beans, 1/2 cup broth, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Cook on medium low, stirring often, letting the liquid reduce. As the liquid reduces continue to add a bit of the broth at a time until beans are tender/crisp. They should be a dull green in color, much like what you see in canned beans. But don't let them get mushy! There will be very little liquid left. If you need to add more than the cup of broth, feel free. These will be a bit brown looking because of the balsamic. Just a warning lest you think you burned them.

Notes: The flavor of these green beans is incredible. As I noted not substitute another vinegar. These are our new favorite green beans. A great side dish for any meal. Enjoy!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Crisp Oven-Fried Chicken

Holy cow! Who doesn't like fried chicken? It is totally unAmerican to not love it. But who likes to stand over a hot skillet, tending it, keeping it from scorching, making sure it isn't raw in the middle? I spent too many years trying to fry the perfect fowl. Sometimes success, sometimes disaster. Then I stumbled upon this recipe in a Farm Journal cookbook. I played with it, added a few of my own touches, and now can be fairly assured of success every time. Caution...naturally it is not low cal. Ask me do I care? For picnics, this is perfect.


2 (3 lb.) broiler/fryers cut up
3/4 cup crushed saltine crackers
3/4 cup crushed white cheddar Cheez-It cracker
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 TBS. minced fresh parsley (I used Italian)
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup melted butter

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a shallow baking pan or sheet with sides. Mix the dry ingredients together. I always use a couple of pie pans for this part. I put the crumbs in one pan and the half-and -half in another. Dip the pieces of chicken first in liquid, then coat with the crumbs. Lay skin side up on baking sheet. And here's the best part...drizzle that melted butter over the chicken. Yuuummmm.

Bake for 1 hour.
This is going to be so crispy and juicy, it will be hard for you to resist chomping right into it. But do let it cool for 5 or 10 minutes so you don't do damage to your taste buds and roof of your mouth. You really want to be able to revel in the flavor.

Notes: I used 1 whole chicken and 8 thighs. But after I cut up the whole chicken, I froze the back and wings to make stock at a later date. This left me with a total of 14 pieces of chicken. The above amount of crumbs and liquid were just the right. And this is absolutely delectable cold. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cooking Old School

I love Farm Journal cookbooks. I love the recipes. Those farm wives really knew how to cook filling, flavorful, and economical dishes. They had to. They were often cooking for a great deal more people than we city dwellers do. But I have decided in these tough economic times to take a page from their (cook)book. I am going to devote the next year of this blog to cooking and posting from the Farm Journal cookbooks...I have lots. But...I am going to put a more contemporary twist on each recipe that I try. That does not mean that instead of bacon I will use pancetta. This is farm cooking, for Pete's sake, not haute cuisine. And I want the recipes to be "finances" friendly.  And I have to say, I have never met a Farm Journal recipe that I didn't like. So stay tuned.