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.

Make it Yourself - Meringue Shells

Before Baking
Meringue isn't just a pie topping.
  • This is a good basic recipe. Pick a cool dry day to bake meringues. They will be sticky otherwise. They are not difficult to make, but take some time, preparing and baking and cooling. So plan to do these when you are going to be home. The baking and cooling times vary with the recipe you are using. 
  •  Beat the eggs till frothy before adding the cream of tartar. And then beat to soft peaks before adding the sugar, also be sure that the sugar is dissolved in the egg whites to prevent weeping when cool. 
  •   Make them the size you want, the time is about the same either way, large or small and keep in mind that you are drying not really baking them. 
  •   They can be filled with about anything you wish. I used homemade lemon curd. They are also a gluten free dessert. Try them with your favorite cooked pie filling. Banana Cream maybe?

Swiss Meringue Shells
8 servings (I made them into 6)
3 egg whites (save the yolks for your cooked filling)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (can be varied. For gluten free check label)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ cup sugar
  Place egg whites in a small mixing bowl. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, Beat with electric mixer and whip attachment till frothy, add cream of tartar. Beat till soft peaks start to form. Add the sugar gradually making sure it all dissolves. 
Beat on high till stiff peaks form (not till dry)
  Drop mounds onto parchment lined baking sheet. Shape into cups with the back of a spoon (I find my small offset spatula works better. Bake at 225° for 1 ½ hours or until set and dry. Leave in oven until oven is cool. They need the time to cool down slowly.
  Fill with your favorite filling. If doing these for a gluten free dessert, be sure what you are filling them with is also gluten free. 

Corn Cakes

The recipe for Buttermilk Corncake suggests
using them as bread in a sandwich of BBQ
pork or chicken. However, we wanted to eat them hot with syrup to go with sliced ham for supper. I did not put in the pepper the recipe calls for to eat them like this and I do not believe I would put pepper in for any other use. It makes 12 cakes and I have some left that we are going to try using for sandwich type eating. I did cool them on a wire rack before wrapping them so they won’t be soggy. With no flour they are gluten free always a plus in my book and we thought they were very good. Crispy and a good foil for the butter and syrup. Also simple and quick to make.
Buttermilk Corncake
2 cups cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ cups buttermilk
2 eggs lightly beaten
4 tablespoons melted butter
Vegetable oil to fry them in.
 Blend dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients, Pour into cornmeal and stir just until combined. Batter will be thick. If too thick, thin with a little more buttermilk.
 Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. For each corncake, spoon ¼ cup batter onto hot skillet, and cook 3 minutes per side, or until brown. Makes 12

Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I bought some peanut butter my husband didn’t like on his toast – so cookies, especially this very easy recipe with peanuts too, were ideal to use it up.  These cookies do spread,  so you have to keep them separated on the cookie sheet.   He had several while they were cooling – a good recommendation, although I find that Robin Hood recipes always work for me.  They suggested using peanut butter chips instead of chocolate chips for an extra hit of peanut flavor, if you like.   We really liked these cookies - better than my usual PB cookie recipe - I think it is the chewy instead of floury texture we liked.                 
 Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
     ½            Cup  Butter – softened (1 stick)
     ½            Cup  Smooth Peanut Butter (5 ounces)
     ½            Cup  Sugar (3 ½ ounces0
     ½            Cup  Brown Sugar – packed (4 ounces)
  1              Large  Egg
  1              Teaspoon  Vanilla Extract
     ¾          Cup  Flour, All-purpose
     ½          Teaspoon  Baking Soda
     ½          Cup  Peanuts -- coarsely chopped
     ½          Cup  Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350°. 
Beat butter, peanut butter, white and brown sugars, egg and vanilla until thoroughly blended.
Combine flour and baking soda.  Add to butter mixture, beating until thoroughly blended.  Stir in peanuts and chips.
Drop dough by heaping tablespoonful’s (I used a size 60 scoop), about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.  If desired, lightly press down with a fork dipped in flour for a patterned look.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden in a preheated 350° oven.  Cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet, then transfer to rack and cool completely.
  "Robin Hood Baking"
  "3 Dozen"
Per Serving: 100 Calories; 6g Fat (55.3% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 13mg Cholesterol; 64mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

Sunday in Iowa

Bonaparte Retreat on the riverside in Bonaparte, Iowa
A popular restaurant destination in an old mill

Family Favorites...Cornmeal Batter Rolls

L down: Batter, portioning, risen rolls, baked rolls, Yum!
This is another recipe I’ve looked at off and on but never made until today.  What a mistake!  I should have been making them all these years.  I purchased the   "Good Food on a Budget” book back in the 70’s and I wasted all that time.
These are easy…the only thing hard about them is waiting.  Start about 2 hours before your meal.
These rolls are good warm or cold; they also freeze well.  The recipe is for 2 dozen, I made one dozen and give both here.  I thought they were perfect to serve in my new bun basket liner and topped with Tomato Marmalade.
                          Cornmeal Batter Rolls
1 Dozen Rolls
2 Dozen Rolls
  1        teaspoon    Instant Yeast
  2       teaspoons  Instant Yeast*
2 ½      cups  Sifted All Purpose Flour -- 10 ounces
  5       cups  Sifted All Purpose Flour -- 20 ounces
  1 1/8 cups  Whole Milk
  2 ¼   cups  Whole Milk
     ¼     cup  Shortening
     ½   cup  Shortening
    1/4     cup  Sugar
     ½   cup  Sugar
  1 ½     teaspoon  Salt
  1       tablespoon  Salt
 1          large  Eggs
  2       large  Eggs
    ½      cup  Cornmeal -- yellow or white
  1       cup  Cornmeal -- yellow or white

In large mixer bowl, combine the yeast and 1 3/4 (for 1 dozen) or 3 ½ cups of the flour.  Heat the next 4 ingredients just till warm; stirring occasionally.  Add to dry mixture in bowl; add eggs.
Beat the mixture at low speed with electric mixer for 1/2 minute, scraping the sides of the bowl constantly.  Beat 3 minutes at high speed (medium high in a Kitchenaid).
By hand, stir in cornmeal and enough remaining flour to make soft dough.
Cover, let rise in warm place till double, about 20 minutes.  Stir batter down; fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full (I used a size 24 muffin scoop). 
Cover; let rise in a warm place till double; 20-25 minutes.  Bake at 400° till golden, 15-20 minutes.
2014 Cost:  $2.50 or 11¢ per roll...$1.25 per dozen
Per Serving: 182 Calories; 6g Fat (28.7% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 28g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 21mg Cholesterol; 284mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.
*or one packet

Vegetable Brown Rice

We like rice; this is an excellent way to enjoy it…with plenty of vegetables too.  We had leftovers and reheated them the next day in the microwave; still very good.   I save time by using my canned pecans, which are already toasted.  We like Uncle Ben’s Instant Long Grain Brown Rice for nice, whole grains of rice.                   
 Vegetable Brown Rice
  2         Cups  Water
  1         Cup  Brown Rice -- uncooked
     ½     Teaspoon  Dried Basil
  2         Medium  Carrots -- julienned
  1         Cup  Onion -- chopped
  9         Green Onions -- 1" strips
     ½     Cup  Raisins
  2        Tablespoons  Olive Oil
  10      Ounces  Frozen Peas -- thawed
  1        Teaspoon  Salt
  1        Cup  Pecan Halves -- toasted
In a small saucepan, prepare the rice in water according to package directions, adding basil to season.  Fluff with a fork.
In a large nonstick skillet or wok, stir-fry the carrots, onion, green onions and raisins in oil for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables are lightly browned.  Add the peas and salt.  Cook for 1 minute more.  Stir in pecans and rice; heat through.
9 Servings
  "Taste of Home Winning Recipes"

Make it Yourself - Tips for Meringue Pie Topping

Baked Meringue Topping
Here is a good recipe for meringue for pies.
  • To keep the meringue from weeping never add more than 2 tablespoons of sugar per egg white. 
  • The oven temperature for browning the meringue should not be above 325°. 
  • The addition of the cornstarch gives the whites stability. 
  • One of the tricks is to cool it out of a draft. No ceiling fans on! A draft will cause it to fall and toughen. 
  • Browning it in a low oven lets it bake some and having the filling warm lets the bottom bake also.
Meringue Topping
Makes about 2 ½ cups
3 egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon Cream of Tartar
6 Tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
 Preheat oven to 325°. In large mixer bowl, beat together egg whites, salt and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar (one Tablespoon at a time).  Beat until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the egg whites, just before they are done. The peaks should not fall over when the beater is lifted. 
Spread over the warm filling being sure to get to all the edges of the crust. Then fill in middle. Bake 15 to 18 minutes until the peaks are golden brown.

Mexican Style Stuffed Peppers

We always raise sweet peppers – they have few pests, and also grow in pots.  They mostly need plenty of sun, plenty of water and “tomato” type fertilizer every 2 or 3 weeks.  They are easy to freeze as well as to use in many dishes. 
One of our favorites is stuffed peppers – we use our big California Wonders.  I usually make all of the filling for this recipe; if I don’t want to make 6 servings, I make as many as I want and freeze the remaining filling flat in quart freezer bags.  Each serving is about ¾ cup of filling.  Blanching the peppers makes them perfect after baking.
Mexican Style Stuffed Peppers 
  6           medium  Green Peppers
     1/2    Pound  Ground Beef
     1/3    cup  Onions -- chopped
     1/3    cup  Celery -- chopped
  1           cup  Rice -- cooked to equal 3 cups
  1           Cup  Canned Salsa, Tomatoes or Rotel -- divided
  1           tablespoon  Green Chilies -- chopped
  2           teaspoons  Chili Powder
     1/4     teaspoon  Salt
  4           Ounces  Mexican Blend  Cheese -- shredded
Cut tops off peppers and discard; remove seeds.  In a large kettle, cook peppers in boiling water for 3-5 minutes; drain, rinse in cold water; set aside.
In a nonstick skillet or the same kettle you blanched the peppers in, cook the beef, onion and celery until meat is no longer pink; drain.  Stir in the rice, 1 cup tomato mixture of your choice, chilies and chili powder and salt.  Spoon into peppers, about ¾ cup each.
Place in a 13 x 9 x 2" baking dish coated with nonstick baking spray.  Add 1/4 cup water to dish.  Cover and bake at 350° for 35-45 minutes or until heated through.
Uncover; sprinkle with cheese and top with remaining salsa.  Bake 2-3 minutes longer until cheese is melted.  Top with a sprinkle of cilantro, if desired.
Serves 6
"Everyday Light Meals"
Per Serving: 276 Calories; 11g Fat (34.5% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 32mg Cholesterol; 188mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat.