Monday, September 24, 2007

Banana Pudding

Don't kid yourself by using a mix or Cool Whip; this is the real thing.
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • dash salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 box vanilla wafers
  • 5-6 ripe bananas
Separate 2 eggs; reserve whites for meringue. Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, flour, salt, 2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks in top of double boiler. Add milk and stir continuously over boiling water until thick and boiling for a minute or so. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Place a small amount of custard at the bottom of a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Add a layer of vanilla wafers, then a layer of sliced bananas. Pour 1/3 of the remaining custard on top. Repeat layers twice more, ending with custard. Beat egg whites until foamy; add cream of tartar and corn starch, then gradually add sugar until soft peaks form. Spoon over pudding, seal edges. Bake at 425 until meringue is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

All-in-one Pork Chop and Potato Casserole

I adapted this recipe when I was looking for a full meal casserole I could carry to my husband's elderly grandmother's house to serve for Christmas Eve dinner. It got the full approval of the family!
  • 8 pork chops
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 14 oz can chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 10 oz frozen peas and carrots (optional)
  • 4 cups prepared mashed potatoes
Grill or pan fry pork chops, reserve 1/2 cup drippings (I like the George Foreman for this). Prepare frozen vegetables, if desired, drain and set aside. Place pork chops in large casserole dish. In skillet, heat butter with pork drippings. Saute onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add flour and stir until pasty. Mix in salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Gradually add chicken broth, then water, stirring constantly until thick and bubbly. Mix in vegetables and heat thoroughly. Pour over pork chops. Spread mashed potatoes over mixture, seal edges. Cook 25-35 minutes at 350 degrees. If refrigerated before cooking, allow plenty of extra time.

Burning Bush Craft

Here's an idea that my K-5 group had fun with. I got some of those "snap and glow" bracelets from the Dollar Tree (a pack of 5 was $1) in red and yellow. The kids glued paper leaves to a popsicle stick "bush" and paper "flames" to the bracelet. Then, they twisted the bracelet to start it glowing and hung it on the bush. Very cool, though the paper flames had a hard time sticking to the plastic bracelet; if I was going it again I'd use Scotch tape or hot glue. While we did stand-alone bushes in paper cup bases, this would also work on a construction paper collage.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Baby Moses Jello craft

Adapted from an idea on Danielle's place. My K-5 class enjoyed this today. Instructions are for 12 projects.
  • 2 packages blue Jello
  • 12 paper plates
  • 12 clear plastic cups
  • 1 package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 12 Teddy Grahams*
  • 1 Fruit by the foot
  • 36 pretzel sticks
  • 36 spearmint leaf gumdrops
  • 12 toothpicks
  • 1 tube black decorating icing
  • 12 knives or popsicle sticks
Do ahead:
  1. Prepare Jello according to directions, pour abut 1/3 cup into each plastic cup.
  2. Prepare cookie dough baskets. Roll dough thin and cut into 12 2.5-inch circles. place each circle in a greased mini-muffin tin, press into cup. Bake at 350 for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and use a spoon to press the puffed-up cookie dough down into a well in the center. Return to the oven for 5-7 more minutes, until brown. Remove from oven and press with spoon again if needed. Cool before removing from pan.
For class:
Give each child a plate with a cup of Jello, a cookie basket, a Teddy graham, a 1-2 inch strip of fruit rollup, a toothpick, 3 gumdrops, 3 pretzels and a blunt knife. Squeeze a dollop of icing onto each plate, and have the kids coat the outside bottom and sides of their basket with "pitch," spreading on icing with the knife. They can wrap their "Baby Moses" Teddy graham in the fruit-roll-up "blanket" and put him in the basket. Place the basket on the blue Jello water of the Nile. (Kids like "jiggling" it at this step to watch baby Moses "float.") For weeds, have them make a small hole in the gumdrop with their toothpick, then insert a pretzel. Stick the "weeds" in the water around Baby Moses' basket. Finished craft looks like this:
*My son pointed out after class that Sour Patch kids candy would have worked, as well.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Mrs. Murray's Beef Stew

When they got back to the house Mrs. Murray was still in the lab. She was watching a pale blue fluid move slowly through a tube from a beaker to a retort. Over a Bunsen burner bubbled a big, earthenware dish of stew. "Don't tell Sandy and Dennys I'm cooking out here," she said. "They're always suspicious that a few chemicals may get in with the meat, but I had an experiment I wanted to stay with."
In tribute to the late Madeleine L'Engle. A Wrinkle in Time was one of my favorite books as a kid. It's one of the few children's adventure books that actually has a strong mother character: a brilliant scientist as well as a doting parent, even if she did occasionally ignore her basic lab safety regulations. Enjoy with Jello and homemade cookies, and you'll be well-nourished for your galactic adventuring.
  • 2 pounds cubed stew beef
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 large potatoes, chopped
  • 4 large carrots, chopped
  • 6 small onions
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
Coat meat with flour, brown in hot oil. Combine meat, sliced onion, seasonings and water in stew pot, cover and simmer over a Bunsen burner medium heat 2 hours. Add remaining vegetables, cover and cook over low heat for 30 more minutes.
[Meg] realized she had had nothing to eat since the horrible fake turkey dinner on Camazotz which she had barely tasted. How long ago was her mother's stew? Time no longer had any meaning.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Lemon Muffins

A favorite for church breakfasts; unfortunately it's getting harder to find the lemon yogurt at the grocery stores.
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 8 oz lemon-flavored yogurt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Combine dry ingredients with lemon rind. Mix egg, yogurt, butter and lemon juice, add to flour mixture and stir until moist. Bake in greased muffin tins at 400 degrees 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Fill cups half full. Makes about 20-24 muffins. Top with a thin coating of lemon glaze.
Lemon glaze:
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Stir until smooth, spoon over cooled muffins.

These are great as mini-muffins, too. Reduce cooking time to 10 minutes or less.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Paper mache pyramid

I'm adding a new non-food category to my blog: crafts! (Hey, they're mostly done in my kitchen!) I did these with a K to 5th grade Sunday School class today; we are starting a unit on Exodus. But, this would work well for one of those Egyptian school projects that always seems to pop up by about 4th grade or so.
  • Paper Plates
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Masking tape
  • Brown paper "bricks" (strips of brown paper bag or butcher paper, cut into small rectangles)
  • Paper Mache paste (I use 1 part flour to two parts water, with a couple of tablespoons of salt added)

Hot-glue together a frame for your pyramid on the plate. Plates cut down on the mess when working with small children.

Use masking tape to make some "support beams" cross each triangle face. Tape strips should be slightly closer together than the height of your "bricks."

Fold your first brick in half, dip in paste and shake off excess. Place over corners starting at bottom. Work your way up with additional "bricks", overlapping paper strips slightly.

Once edges are covered, fill in surfaces of pyramid using same paper mache technique, making horizontal rows of bricks. Finished product should be completely covered. Let dry.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Ginger marinated flank steak

  • 1 1/2 - 2 pounds flanks steak
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger (I sometimes use grated fresh ginger root instead.)
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 5 green onions, diced (optional)
Mix together in covered jar and shake. Put steak in shallow dish, pour sauce over steak. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight, turning steak regularly.
Grill steak over hot coals or on the George Foreman, basting frequently with marinade.
Good on other types of steak, too!

Missing Link Scones

Hillbilly Jedi describes these as "the missing link between the scone and the Southern US Biscuit." I made them for dinner tonight and they were quite tasty. I got the recipe from her blog; her source is "How to be a Domestic Goddess."
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 tbsp shortening in teaspoon-sized lumps (I used my small cookie dough scoop for this!)
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten (for egg-wash)

Preheat oven to 425. Mix flour, baking soda, salt and cream of tartar together. Cut in butter and shortening, then work with hands until mixture is like damp sand. Add milk all at once, stir briefly into a soft dough and knead a few times on a floured surface. Like all biscuits, it's important to handle the dough as little as possible. Roll about 1 to 1 1/4 inch thick and cut with 2.5 inch crinkle-edged cookie cutter. Place in greased baking dish close together; they should rise and touch when baking. Brush with beaten egg. Bake 10 minutes. Serve hot.
Hillbilly Jedi recommends serving them with "Thunder and Lightening" (aka clotted cream and molasses) but standard biscuit fixins' work too.

Optional additions:
For Fruit Scones
  • 3 oz raisins OR
  • 3 oz dried cherries and zest of one orange (I may try miniature versions of these for Christmastime)
For Cheese Scones
  • 3 oz grated sharp cheddar (Next time I make a brunch meal, I'm going to try these and serve with Virginia ham)