Who can find a worthy woman? For her price is far above rubies.......She looks well to the ways of her household. Proverbs 31:10-27
We're sisters who like to cook and bake, talk cooking and baking, and share recipes and kitchen wisdom.

Back at the Ranch Casserole

 If you’ve resolved to eat more beans and vegetables this year, here’s a casserole that the whole family will like that is ready in less than 30 minutes, and only uses one pan and doesn’t heat up the oven.
Kids and adults both like the wagon-wheel pasta shapes, but elbows or medium shells cook in the same time.  Serve it with a green vegetable and/or a green salad.  If you have hearty eaters, add a little corn bread too.                  
Back at the Ranch Casserole
  3           Ounces  Pasta -- wagon wheels, dry
     ½       Cup  Onion -- chopped
     ¼       Cup  Green Pepper -- chopped
  2          Teaspoons  Olive Oil
  1           Teaspoon  Chili Powder
  14        Ounces  Canned Tomatoes -- cut up (or 1 pint)
     ½       Teaspoon  Garlic -- minced
  8          Ounces  Canned Kidney Beans -- rinsed and drained
  4          Ounces  Frozen Corn -- thawed
     ¼       Cup  Shredded Cheddar Cheese -- 1 ounce
In a medium saucepan, cook and stir onion and green pepper in oil over medium-high heat until vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the chili powder; cook and stir for 1 minute.
Stir in the undrained tomatoes, garlic and macaroni.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer,  covered, about 15 minutes or until desired consistency, stirring often.  During last 5 minutes, stir kidney beans and corn into tomato mixture, continue cooking 5 more minutes or until pasta is tender and sauce is thickened. 
To serve, sprinkle with shredded cheese.
Makes four 1-cup servings.
Cost:  $2.52 or 63¢ per serving

Per Serving: 232 Calories; 6g Fat (21.0% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 38g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 7mg Cholesterol; 394mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 2 Grain (Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1 Fat.

Family Favorites...Orange Meringue Pie

For a different pie, this recipe from the Cookbook Good Food on a Budget makes a good dessert. While I think I prefer Lemon, Sue, Bettie and Lyle really like this.
  It is not what I would call inexpensive unless you make it when oranges are in season, not like I do in the middle of winter, but it is such a sunny pie to make when it’s cold outside. It takes 6 medium oranges (usually) if you use navel oranges. Sometimes our store has Valencia oranges which are a juice orange and then it will take less.
  I do use the meringue recipe from yesterday's post instead of the meringue recipe listed here.  Notice that this is for a 8 inch pie not a 9 inch pie crust.
Orange Meringue Pie
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups orange juice
2 slightly beaten egg yolks
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon grated orange peel (optional)
1 baked 8 inch pie shell
2 egg whites
¼ cup sugar
In saucepan combine ¾ cup sugar, cornstarch, and slat. Slowly stir in juice. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat,. Cook 1 minute more; remove from heat. Stir small amount of hot mixture into yolks; return to hot mixture. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Stir in margarine and peel. Pour in to pie shell.
  Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Slowly beat in ¼ cup sugar to stiff peaks; spread over hot filling, sealing edges. Bake at 400° for 7 to 9 minutes. Cool on rack.

Meringue for Pie

 I have been making pies for better than 65 years and just now found a great recipe for Meringue. It was on the Cooking Club web site.
Isn't this a pretty piece of Pie
 Meringue pie topping, should be tall, golden brown and stay that way! (and I have made lots, different recipes, etc, trying for a topping that would stay soft and not fall when refrigerated or  become rubbery)  This did! Who knew that putting a cornstarch slurry in with the egg whites would make this happen. From now on, this is the recipe I will use. It is not a bit hard to make, the recipe did call for some lemon juice in the meringue as it was on a lemon pie. I chose to omit this as I wanted to see how it would work without for use on pies that are not citrus. I am sure it would enhance the flavor of a citrus pie, but it was fine without it. Next time I am going to add about a ½ teaspoon of vanilla. The cornstarch and water is added warm to the foamy egg whites. The cornstarch and water thickened quite a lot and I was worried about adding it, but it beat in just fine. I am guessing you would not want it too hot, just warm. Do be sure your pie filling is hot. Meringue needs to cook from the bottom also. A slow oven lets it cook as well as brown. Torches work to brown but they do not cook the meringue and so that type need to be eaten right away.
 If you are a fan of Meringue topped pies I hope you will try this.
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 egg whites
Dash salt
1/2 cup sugar
  To make meringue, in small saucepan, combine 1/3 cup water and 1 tablespoon cornstarch; mix well. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 30 seconds, stirring constantly, cover to keep warm.
 In large bowl, combine egg whites, and dash salt; beat at medium-low speed until egg whites are frothy. Increase speed to medium; beat until egg whites hold a soft peak. With mixer running, slowly add 1/2 cup sugar; spoon in warm cornstarch mixture. Increase speed to medium-high; beat until mixture is glossy and egg whites hold a stiff peak. 
 Spoon half of meringue evenly over hot filling, making sure meringue covers all filling and touches crust on all edges. Spoon remaining meringue onto pie and spread evenly. Add decorative swirls with back of spoon.
 Bake 15 to 18 minutes at 350°F or until meringue is dry to the touch and light brown. 

*This was just excellent the next day after being in the refrigerator overnight. I saved a piece to try it as that will usually toughen a meringue on a pie. Great recipe!

Make it Yourself... Chiffon and Parfait Pies

Two different types of Parfait and Chiffon Pies. One with ice cream and one with egg whites. Both are excellent and a change from fruit and custard pies. They were popular when Sue and I were young housewives. I made them often for entertaining.
Pineapple Parfait Pie
 Parfait Pies -The Better Homes and Gardens Golden Treasury cookbook has this to say about Parfait pies. "A trendsetter of the 50’s they originated in the US as a promotion by a flour miller and a manufacturer of fruit flavored gelatins". Single crust concoctions with fruit, gelatin, and ice cream filling, these pies were very popular because they were so easy to make and there were so many combinations of fruit, ice cream and gelatins to try”.
The term Parfait means perfect. So fitting for this type of pie.
  Use a good ice cream when making this. It is the main ingredient so you want it to be a good quality. The cheaper ice creams have a lot of air whipped into them, and will not work as well. How about trying raspberries, vanilla ice cream and raspberry jello or Orange jello, orange juice for the liquid, vanilla ice cream and adding some flaked coconut. Use your own favorite flavors just use the same quantities.
 Pineapple Parfait Pie
1 8 -¼ can crushed pineapple
1 3 ounce package lemon flavored gelatin
1 pint vanilla ice cream
1 baked 8 inch pie shell
Whipped cream
  Drain pineapple; reserve syrup. Add water to syrup to make 1 ¼ cups. Combine gelatin and syrup; bring to boiling. Stir till gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add ice cream by spoonfuls to hot liquid; stir till melted. Chill till partially set; fold in pineapple. Pile filling into pastry shell. Chill till firm. Garnish with whipped cream and cherry if desired.

 Chiffon Type Pies were quite popular in the 40’s. This recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Golden Treasury of Cooking is that type of pie. I made these often when I was first married and we entertained a lot. Now days, I still make them, but just not as often.
  They call for egg whites beaten stiff and folded in.
Citrus Pie
½ cup sugar
Citrus Pie
1 teaspoon (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
Dash salt
4 egg yolks
½ teaspoon grated lemon peel, set aside
⅓ cup lemon juice (I used Meyer Lemons)
½ teaspoon grated orange peel, set aside
3 Tablespoons orange juice
2 Tablespoons water
4 egg whites
¼ cup sugar
1 baked and cooled 8 to 9 inch pie crust
In saucepan combine the ½ cup sugar, gelatin, and salt. Beat egg yolks, lemon and orange juice and water together. Stir into gelatin mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat just until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add saved grated peel.
Cool, stirring occasionally until partially set. 
 Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, slowly add the ¼ cup sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Fold in gelatin mixture. It helps to lighten the egg whites with a small amount of the gelatin mixture before folding all of it in.
  Put into pie shell and chill till firm. Trim with shredded orange peel if desired.

Barley and Vegetable Pilaf

This dish has everything good for you – crisp vegetables and whole grains – and it’s simply delicious.  If you don’t have pea pods, add some small whole green beans about 5-7 minutes before the dish is done.  I used fresh sugar snap peas.  The sherry and white Worcestershire (now sold as marinade for chicken) give it an outstanding flavor.   Be sure you buy a bottle of inexpensive dry sherry from the wine department, not salty, briny “Cooking Sherry”.   The mushrooms add that meaty flavor.
This serves 4 for a vegetarian main dish or 6 for a side dish.            
Barley and Vegetable Pilaf
  2         Cups  Fresh Mushrooms -- sliced
     ¼     Cup  Onion -- chopped
  1         Medium  Carrot – shredded or julienned
     ½     Teaspoon  Garlic -- minced
  1         Tablespoon  Butter
  2         Tablespoons  Sherry
  1         Tablespoon  White Worcestershire Sauce
  2         Cups  Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  1 ½     Cups  Barley -- quick cooking (7 ounces)
  1         Teaspoon  Italian Seasoning
     ¼     Teaspoon  Black Pepper
  4         Ounces  Fresh Pea Pods -- or 6 ounces frozen
     ½     Cup  Pecan Halves
In a 10" skillet, cook the mushrooms, onion, carrot and garlic in hot butter over medium heat until mushrooms are tender.  Add sherry and cook until evaporated.  Stir in broth, barley, White Worcestershire sauce and seasoning.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 15-18 minutes or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed.
(If using frozen pea pods, place frozen pea pods in a colander.  Run cold over the pea pods for 1-2 minutes or until thawed.  Drain.)
Stir pea pods into barley mixture.  Cover and let stand for 3 minutes or until heated through.  Top with pecans.

4 Servings

Breaded Dijon Pork Chops

I’m always looking for recipes to use good Iowa pork, and this one is a winner.  Our chops were tangy and juicy, not dry!  I used good Dijon mustard, and was glad to use up some slightly stale saltines.  Don’t overcook your chops, the times are just right.                       
Breaded Dijon Pork Chops
     3/4      Cup  Crushed Saltines -- 20 crackers
     1/2      Teaspoon  Dried Thyme
     1/4      Teaspoon  Pepper
     1/4      Teaspoon  Dried Sage
  3             Tablespoons  Dijon Mustard
  4             Pork Chops -- about 6 ounces each
  1             Tablespoon  Olive Oil
  1             Tablespoon  Butter
In a small bowl, combine crumbs, thyme, pepper and sage.  Spread mustard on both sides of pork chops; coat with crumbs.
In a large skillet, cook chops in fat over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown.
  Per Serving: 376 Calories; 31g Fat (75.5% calories from fat); 22g Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 93mg Cholesterol; 230mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 4 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.
4 Servings

The Taste of Home Cook Book