Friday, September 24, 2010


Natalie presents "Harvest"

Wonderful Tablescapes. Every year our Gracious Hospitality class students are challenged to create a tablescape from items they already have in their home and may not purchase anything new. They must develop a theme and bring items together to carry out that theme. Some of our students have served in foreign mission fields while others are preparing to go to the field. The tablescapes present conversation pieces, give deeper insight about our ladies, their experiences, history, travels, favorite color schemes and sometimes the items they love to collect. What fun!! I always look forward to this day.
Barb persents "Africa"

Emily presents "A Touch of Grape" inspired by her mother's painting.

Donna presents "Ecuador"

Ashley presents "Whimsical Tea Time" inspired by her grandmother.

Dana presents "Mission Mexico"

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bread Wonderful Bread

One of the most enticing aromas in the home comes from baking bread. It some how beacons to everyone calling them to the kitchen. When the hot fresh loaves are drawn out of the oven, we can hardly wait for it to cool. Often we take the risk personal injury of burned fingers just to get that first hot morsel of buttered bread into our mouths. Mmmmm.........

Bread is a staple for the table in so many countries. The different grains, textures and flavors create are as endless as the baking methods. Limited resources or supplies can not stop one from creating a wonderful and flavorful bread. This is one of my favorite days of class when we create beautiful artisial breads.

Focaccia Bread

Focaccia Bread

"A wonderful, quick alternative to garlic bread. Lots of herbs and lots of flavor!" 
Original recipe yield: 1 focaccia.

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella

1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil and black pepper. Mix in the vegetable oil and water.
2. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Punch dough down; place on greased baking sheet. Pat into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Brush top with olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Cowboy Bread

"Similar to pita breads, this is a round fried bread which supposedly traces its origins back to the great American West."

We have cooked this bread in an iron skillet over a campfire and also on the electric range in our kitchen. Cowboy bread is a perfect accompaniment for chili, soup and stew. When cool we slit it open and stuff it with our favorite fixins' for a tasty sandwich. We have also served it for breakfast with butter and honey. Yummm!!

Cowboy Bread

Yield: 8 pieces of bread.

1/2 cup boiling water
3/4 cup cold milk
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 cups all-purpose flour

1. In a large bowl, stir together the water, milk, and sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the top, and let stand for 5 minutes to dissolve.

2. Stir the egg and butter into the yeast mixture, then stir in the salt, nutmeg, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix until everything is well blended. Mix in remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead for 10 minutes (no cheating!). Place dough into a greased bowl, and let rise until doubled in size.

3. Divide the dough into 8 balls, and let rest for another 20 minutes. Roll each ball out to 8 to 10 inches in diameter.

4. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Fry each of the pieces of bread fro 30 to 60 seconds on each side, or until light to medium brown spots appear. Keep covered with a damp cloth, or store in a plastic bag until serving

Biscuits and Butter


Butter is the perfect medium for carrying more intense flavors to our breads.
Basil Butter, Cinnamon Honey Butter, and Chive Butter

Basil Butter

1 stick butter, softened
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped basil

Cream butter, beat in garlic and lemon juice. Mash in basil; season with salt and pepper. Place bowl in refrigerator to firm butter. For a nice, simple appetizer use room temperature butter on grilled pieces of baguette or French bread.

Honey Butter

1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon
(to taste)

Let butter come to room temperature.
Whip butter, honey and cinnamon together for 2 minutes. Store in refrigerator.

Slap Your Brains Out Biscuits

A yeasty buttermilk biscuit that can be made ahead of time and baked right before dinner.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Chicken Packets

Chicken Packets

2 cups chicken, cooked and chopped
1/2 cup seasoned crouton, crushed to crumbs
1 3 oz pkg. Cream cheese, softened
2 6 oz. pkgs refrigerated crescent rolls
1 Tbsp chives, chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted margarine
2 Tbsp milk
salt to taste

*Mix chicken, cream cheese, chives, milk and salt in a medium bowl.
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll crescent rolls. Each tube will contain 4 rectangles of dough with a diagonal perforation. Press dough along each perforation so the rectangle halves will not separate,
*Place about 1/4 cup of chicken mixture into center of each rectangle.
*Fold dough over the filling, and pinch the edges to seal tightly.
*Dip each packet in melted margarine, and coat with crouton crumbs.
*Place packets on a baking sheet.
*Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
*Packets are good either hot or cold.

Makes 8 packets

Chicken Broccoli AuGratin

Chicken Broccoli Au Gratin Serves: 4-6
1/4 cup Butter
1 4 oz can sliced Mushrooms
1/4 cup Onion, chopped
1 13 oz can evaporated Milk
1/4 cup Flour
1-10 oz Broccoli spears cooked, cut
2 cups Chicken cubed
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
1 tsp. Salt dash black pepper

Melt butter in skillet, saute’ onions until tender, remove from heat. Stir in flour, salt, curry powder and pepper. Drain mushrooms (save liquid). Add water to liquid to make 1 cup. Gradually whisk water into flour mixture. Blend in milk until smooth. Cook and stir over medium heat until sauce thickens. Arrange chicken and broccoli in a 13 x 9 pan. Pour sauce over all and top with cheese. Bake @ 375 about 20 minutes until hot and bubbly. To stretch this recipe to feed more add 2 cups of cooked broad egg noodles or rice) in the pan before the chicken and broccoli.

Chicken a La King

Chicken a’la King

1 strip diced bacon (optional)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup green peas
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup diced red pepper
(or 1 Tbsp pimientos)
2/3 cup chicken broth
1 cup cooked, chopped chicken
1 Tbsp margarine or butter
1 cup half and half (or canned evaporated milk)

*In a large saucepan, cook and stir bacon, onion, and pepper in margarine over medium heat until vegetables are tender.
Blend in flour, salt, and pepper.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until well mixed.
*Remove from heat,
*Stir in Half-n-half (or evaporated milk) and chicken broth. Heat to a boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
*Stir in chicken (and pimientos if using).
*Serve over biscuits, toast or puff pastry shells.

******If omitting bacon increase margarine to 3 tablespoons.

Serves 4-5

Apricot Curry Chicken

Apricot Curry Chicken Serves 4-6

3/4 cup uncooked rice
1 cup fine chopped onion
2 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 can apricots, drained
2 1/4 cup cooked, chopped chicken
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup Craisins

Place rice, onion and chicken broth in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 15 minutes. Drain and cut apricots into pieces. Combine all ingredients. Allow to cool. Seal and store in Freezer.
To prepare:
Thaw and preheat oven to 350
Place entree in baking dish sprayed with nonstick spray. Cover with foil.
Bake for 45-60 minutes.
Add a small amount of water if it becomes too dry while baking.

Planning Ahead for Guest with Quick Easy Meals

Half the fun of making new dishes is being able to share them with others.

Planning ahead and having precooked and measured ingredients in the freezer makes mealtime planning worry free. With your Chicken Mix prepared, you have a head start on your main course and dinner can be on the table in 20-30 minutes. That is less time than it takes to go out to eat. Of course, it is much more economical also. Now, start collecting recipes that call for 1-2 cups of cooked chicken. Keep only your favorites together in your file or book. When you are asked, "What's for dinner?" you already have a plan.

Chicken Mix
11 lbs Chicken
4 qts cold Water
4 tsp Salt (if using Kosher salt double)
1/2 tsp Pepper
4-5 pods Garlic
1 onion (peeled and quartered)
2-4 carrots and celery ribs(washed ends removed, cut in chunks)

*Combine all ingredients in a large pot.
*Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover.
Simmer until meat is tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
*Remove from heat. Remove chicken from broth and let it cool. Strain broth and refrigerate until fat can be skimmed. *Discard vegetables (or use in soup). Pour skimmed broth into six or more 1 pint containers. Allow about 1/2” freezing room. Label and freeze. Remove and discard bones and skin from cooled chicken. Place chicken into six 1 quart Ziploc bags. Seal and label and freeze. Use within 3 months.
Yields: 6 pints broth 6 pints chicken

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cinnamon Apple Jam, Apricot Jam and Pear Honey

Cinnamon Apple Jam

1 cup water
6 cups apples - peeled and sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 pkg. powdered pectin
4 cups sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup cinnamon imperials (Red Hots)

1. Combine apples, water and lemon juice in a large saucepan.
2. Bring to a steady simmer. Add cinnamon imperials, Cover and simmer 10 minutes
3. Stir in pectin and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
4. Add sugar.
5. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute stirring frequently .
6. Remove from heat;
7. Pour in hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. 8. Adjust caps.
9. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.
Yield 6 pints.

Time to Make some Jam

Friday, August 20, 2010

Quinoa "The Mother Grain"

Quinoa with Zucchini, Carrots and Thyme

1/2 cup onion diced
6 cloves garlic minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 med. zucchini, diced
2 tsp.. fresh thyme or oregano
1 1/4 cup quinoa
2 cups water

Rinse quinoa well. Cook in pan with a tight fitting lid.
Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and
cook for about 20 minutes. Saute’ onion, garlic, carrots
and zucchini in olive oil until tender. Mix cooked quinoa
and vegetables. Add seasoning. Adjust seasoning to taste.

"It is called quinoa (pronounced keen-wa), and is a grain that comes from the Andes Mountains of South America. Quinoa's origins are truly ancient. It was one of the three staple foods, along with corn and potatoes, of the Inca civilization. Quinoa was known then, and still is known, with respect, as the mother grain. We call it the "Supergrain of the Future."

Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain; an average of 16.2 percent, compared with 7.5 percent for rice, 9.9 percent for millet, and 14 percent for wheat. Some varieties of quinoa are more than 20 percent protein.

Quinoa's protein is of an unusually high quality. It is a complete protein, with an essential amino acid balance close to the ideal ... similar to milk!

Quinoa's protein is high in lysine, methionine and cystine. This makes it an excellent food to combine with, and boost the protein value of, other grains (which are low in lysine), or soy (which is low in methionine and cystine). "

Tex Mex Black Bean Wraps

Tex Mex Black Bean Wraps

These sandwiches are perfect for a light lunch. Black beans are mashed with salsa to form a spread for flour tortillas, then rolled with veggies and avocado sauce.

1 ( 15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed
1/3 cup chunky salsa
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 tomato, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
1 avocado
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tsp lemon juice
4 (8”) flour tortillas

*In medium bowl, place black beans and mash with a fork. Leave some beans whole for a chunky texture.
*Add salsa and mix well.
*Slice bell pepper into thin strips
*Dice tomato.
*Shred cheeses.
*Prepare avocado. In small bowl, mash avocado with sour cream and lemon juice.
*Spread bean mixture over tortillas and top with vegetables and cheeses.
*Roll up wraps, slice in half at an angle, serve.

Campfire Beans

Campfire Beans

1 lb ground beef
1 envelope onion soup
2 cans beans, drained
(kidney, great northern, or pinto, etc.)
1/4 c chili sauce
1 1/2 cup water

*In a large skillet brown meat until no longer pink, stirring frequently.
*Drain excess grease.
*Stir in soup mix, beans, chili sauce and water.
*Simmer covered 15-20 minutes.

Serves 6-8

Hoppin' John with Black Eyed Peas

Hoppin' John

1 lb ground sausage
1 med onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
2 cans black eyed peas
1 cup long grain rice
1 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp pepper

Brown sausage in skillet until no longer pink. Add onion, cook until tender. add garlic cook stirring one minute more. Add broth, black eyed peas. Stir in rice, thyme and pepper, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes

" Hoppin' John is found in most states of the South, but it is mainly associated with the Carolinas. Gullah or Low Country cuisine reflects the cooking of the Carolinas, especially the Sea islands (a cluster of islands stretching along the coats of south Carolina and northern Georgia).

Black-eyed peas, also called cow peas, are thought to have been introduced to America by African slaves who worked the rice plantations. Hoppin' John is a rich bean dish made of black-eyed peas simmered with spicy sausages, ham hocks, or fat pork, rice, and tomato sauce.

This African-American dish is traditionally a high point of New Year's Day, when a shiny dime is often buried among the black-eyed peas before serving. whoever get the coin in his or her portion is assured good luck throughout the year. For maximum good luck in the new year, the first thing that should be eaten on New year's Day is Hoppin' John. At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, many southern families toast each other with Champagne and a bowl of Hoppin' John. If it is served with collard greens you might, or might not, get rich during the coming year.

There are many variations to traditional Hoppin' John. Some cook the peas and rice in one pot, while others insist on simmering them separately.

Most food historians generally agree that "Hopping John" is an American dish with African/French/Caribbean roots. There are many tales or legends that explain how Hoppin' John got its name:

It was the custom for children to gather in the dining room as the dish was brought forth and h op around the table before sitting down to eat.

A man named John came "a-hoppin" when his wife took the dish from the stove.

An obscure South Carolina custom was inviting a guest to eat by saying, "Hop in, John"

The dish goes back at least as far as 1841, when, according to tradition, it was hawked in the streets of Charleston, South Carolina by a crippled black man who was know as Hoppin' John."

Preparing our grains and legumes.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Herbs and Spices

This is truly a wonderful time of year. The garden is providing a plentiful harvest of squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and of course herbs. We begin this years classes exploring the flavors from the herb garden. Squash is the perfect pallet to color with various herb flavors. Other vegetables benefit from these fresh herb flavors as well so we added a dash of dill, a sprinkle of rosemary, and taste of tarragon to excite the flavors of our side dishes.

Squash Soup with Oregano


* 2 Tbsp olive oil
* 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
* 2 cloves minced garlic
* 3 cup summer (yellow) squash, cut up (1-1 1/2 lbs)
* 2 cups rich chicken stock
* 2 cups whipping cream
* 2 teaspoons minced fresh basil
* 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
* Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Add yellow summer squash and broth. Cook until softened. When squash is soft carefully blend until smooth. 2. Add cream, basil and oregano. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. SERVES 6
*To freeze soup to use at a later date. In step 2, after adding stock, do not add cream, but do add basil and oregano and simmer for 20 minutes. Cool completely and run through your blender. Place in freezer container and freeze. For a future date remove from freezer allow to thaw completely. Put in pot, add the cream and bring up the heat slowly. Check seasoning and serve.

Zucchini with Thyme

Zucchini with Thyme

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 pound fresh zucchini, cut into 3-by-1/2-inch sticks
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter on medium heat. Add the onion cook until soft, but not browned.

Add the zucchini sticks, , thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper. Gently stir to coat the zucchini. Cover and cook until tender, from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how tender the raw zucchini is to begin with, and how small you have sliced the pieces. Check and stir every few minutes. Be careful not to overcook. Serves 6

Corn with Cream Cheese and Dill

Yellow Summer Squash

Dill Green Peas with Walnuts

Tasting Time