From the Garden...Cauliflower Soup

  Cold blustery days or rainy summer days call for warm comforting soup. This Cream of Cauliflower soup from the More with Less cookbook really fills the bill. With cauliflower and cheese, chicken stock and milk this is an easy and inexpensive light supper. 
  I don’t eat these types of soups because of the flour but Lyle and Bettie both thought it was excellent. I liked the ease of making it and the major cost was the two dollars for the cauliflower head. The remainder of the cauliflower will be used in a salad. 
  If you have your own chicken stock, this is even less costly and you can put this together and have supper in 30 minutes.
  I did drain the cauliflower before using it in the soup even though I was pouring off some nutrients. I think it gives the soup a better flavor. Not as strong and the amount of liquid is plenty without adding the liquid from cooking the cauliflower. Use up any odds and ends of cheese you have left. The cheddar it calls for is what I used, along with the end piece of some parmesan. Cheeses that melt well, like Velveeta would be very good also. 
  This is not a pureed soup, so leave the cauliflower in bite size pieces. You could add any other veggies like a few carrots to it or maybe even some corn. But, we thought it was very good just as it is.
Cream of Cauliflower Soup
  Cook in salted water until soft but still crisp one medium head of cauliflower broken into bite size pieces. Meanwhile, saute in large saucepan until yellow and soft 4 Tablespoons butter and ¼ cup chopped onion.
  Blend in ¼ cup flour and stir for a few moments to get rid of the raw flour taste.
Slowly add, while stirring, 3 cups of warm chicken broth and 2 cups milk. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce or to taste and then the cooked and drained cauliflower. 
  Add a dried herb of your choice, I used celery seed and thyme, just a small amount of each, simmer for a few minutes. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Add the cheese just before serving and stir until melted. 

Crock Pot Pork Roast

 The crockpot I own usually only gets used for making stock.  However occasionally I do a pork roast (Boston Butt, pork shoulder) in it. When I do, we will make one meal of it and use the rest of it for pulled pork.
 Because I like a nice brown roast I always brown it well before putting it in the crockpot. However this step is not necessary if you are short of time or just don’t want to mess with it. The slow cooker allows you to cook the roast slowly for a long time which is what makes a Boston Butt roast tender. So dig out that slow cooker you have stashed away and give this a try. This works well in the Holiday Season as it can cook while you are doing other things and enjoying your guests.
Crock Pot Pork Roast
1 large sweet onion cut in slices
2 ½ to 3 pound boneless pork shoulder roast (Boston Butt)
2 Tablespoons garlic-oregano-red pepper seasoning blend*
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (10 ½ ounce can chicken broth
 Place onions in a 6 quart slow cooker. Rub roast with the seasoning blend and salt; place roast on the sliced onions. Pour broth over roast. Cover and cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours or until meat shreds easily with a fork.
 Transfer roast to a cutting board. If you want a meal first slice the amount you are going to need and then with two forks removing any large pieces of fat shred with two forks. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon and serve with the pork. 
*The recipe was tested with McCormick Grill Mates Seasoning.

Roast Pork Loin with Apples and Cinnamon

In Iowa, pork loin is often on sale; especially whole ones.  I cut them up for roasts and chops; often the meat market will do this for me.  This is a good recipe from the "National Pork Producers Council", we especially liked the simple rub.  We enjoyed our leftover meat sliced for sandwiches and frozen in small packages so we could eat them over time for quick meals; with BBQ sauce on buns and later in grilled pork and Swiss sandwiches, both favorites. 
This is a good place for an oven probe thermometer or a good meat thermometer to keep your pork moist and just done enough.
This is an excellent, easy-to-make holiday meal as well.                     
Roast Pork Loin with Apples and Cinnamon
  2          pounds  boneless pork loin roast
  1          tablespoon  olive oil
  1          teaspoon  black pepper -- ground
  1          teaspoon  ginger -- ground
     ½      teaspoon  nutmeg -- ground
     ½      teaspoon  cinnamon -- ground
     ½      cup  dry white wine
     ¼      cup  honey
  1         tablespoon  lemon juice
  2         apples -- cored, peeled, and sliced into wedges
Rub pork loin with olive oil, pepper, HALF of the ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Combine the other half of the spices with the wine, honey, lemon juice and apple wedges.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place roast in shallow roasting pan and roast for 45-60 minutes until internal temperature, measured with a meat thermometer, reaches 135°F (about 20 minutes per pound). Remove roast from oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing to serve, temperature will continue to rise to 145°. Meanwhile, simmer apple mixture in a small saucepan until apples are tender; stir in any pork roast juices. Serve sliced roast with apples and sauce.
6 Servings


Sunday in Iowa...

Every time I see these handsome farm buildings, silos , evergreen grove and working windmill on this farm on Highway 163 near Pella in the morning sun, I have wanted to take it's photo.  
It's a busy 4 lane highway, but this week we stopped anyway, because the corn was out of the field and the buildings were more visible.

Holiday Recipes

Here are the recipes from our 2016 Holiday blog header plus some favorites of ours for entertaining or sharing. 
They are perfect and favorites of ours - hope you'll try them too. (Click on the name to go to the recipe).

Home Canned Cranberry Sauce

Rolled Sugar Cookies

Favorite Christmas Candy Recipes

Holiday Vegetable Recipes

Make Ahead Salads

Entertaining Potato 

Relish Dishes

Meat and Cheese Trays

Cookbook Reviews...Fine Cooking Cookies Magazine

  One of my favorite cooking magazines had a special issue for the holidays with cookie and a few cupcakes, and some candy recipes. 
  I subscribe to several food magazines or read them on a regular basis, but Fine Cooking is hands down my favorite. Don’t let the name scare away you beginning cooks. The recipes are all doable, really good and the directions are clear, concise and they work. 
  My all time most requested cookie recipe is from their magazine. Chewy Cranberry Oatmeal cookies are really, really good. The recipes I have made from this special issue rank right up there with the Cranberry cookies. There is something for everyone who likes to bake. While I am not posting them, I have made the homemade marshmallows from this magazine. You will not believe how different they taste from store bought and how easy they are to make. 
  I do hope some of you will try the cookie recipes and try the magazine. I am sure you will enjoy both. They also have a  good web site,

Gingered Lemon Bars

Brownie Cookies

Apricot Coconut Bars

Nutella Fudge Cupcakes

Blueberry Lemon Cream Bars

Family Favorites...Bite Sized Fruit Cakes

  I am really not a fan of fruit cake, but these looked like they might be worth trying. The Taste of Home Holiday Recipe Card Collection featured these as a bite sized fruit cake. The recipe is for 10 dozen of the bite size cakes. I am going to give you the whole recipe, but unless you are baking for a crowd I would size this down.
  The taste is great, but the next batch I will not bake for as long. Also we felt the glaze could easily be left off. 
  I want to add here that they were so much better after they sat in an air tight container for a week. Most fruit cakes improve with age.
  I must confess I didn’t use the fruit mixture listed in the recipe as I had fruit cake fruit mixture from King Arthur Flour I wanted to use. No citron, etc in it and it has apricots which we all are fond of. I also could not find Brazil Nuts so used walnuts along with the pecans.
  I made some bite size and made two small loaf pans and 2 mini loaf pans. They are all good. The pans were certainly easier to deal with and that is what I will do the next batch. Feel free to use the fruit and nuts of your choice. 
  I was concerned there was not enough batter for the amount of fruit and nuts, but there was when they baked. You could not tell that though when you were filling the pans. I guess all you really need is enough to hold the goodies together.
Bite Sized Fruitcakes
½ cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
16 ounces chopped dates
¾ pound chopped candied pineapple
¾ pound candied cherries, halved
1 cup golden raisins
1 pound Brazil nuts, coarsely chopped
1 pound pecans, coarsely chopped
1 egg beaten
½ cup evaporated milk
¼ cup water
  In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Combine the flour and baking soda and add alternately to the creamed mixture with sour cream. Stir in the nuts and fruit. (it will look like just nuts and fruit and little to no batter).
Fill paper lined miniature muffin cups ¾ full. Bake at 300° for 35 minutes. For glaze, combine all ingredients, brush over fruitcakes. Bake 10 minutes longer.
  If not using the glaze bake about 40 to 45 minutes all together. *
YIELD: about 10 dozen
 * I would cut back on the baking time if you are going to use the glaze, 35 to 40 minutes all together would be fine.

Hot Chicken Salad

This is an oldie but goodie from the first cookbook I ever personally owned, Betty Crocker’s Good and Easy Cookbook, first published in 1954, but still being printed in the sixties.  My copy is well used, taped up on the spine, and I still look through it occasionally for good recipes from that era.  
I used to make this recipe when I was first married, and Myrna says she served it to her ladies’ Christian Service Group when she was first married. 
It’s a good way to use leftover cooked or canned chicken or turkey, and it’s quick and tasty, with no canned soup or sauce making.  You must use full-fat mayonnaise for this to work. 
The celery stays crunchy; making it actually a salad…I only cooked mine 10 minutes in these shallow casseroles.  I stir the chips right into the mixture right before putting it in dish to bake; they stay crisp and don’t burn before the dish heats through.           
                   Hot Chicken Salad
  2        Cups  Chicken -- cut up
  2        Cups  Celery -- thinly sliced
     ½    Cup  Almonds -- or peanuts, toasted
     ½    Teaspoon  Salt
  2        Teaspoons  Grated Onion
  1        Cup  Mayonnaise (I used ¾ cup)
  2        Tablespoons  Lemon Juice
     ½    Cup  Cheese -- grated
  1        Cup  Potato Chips -- crushed
Heat oven to 450°.  Combine ingredients except cheese and chips.  Pile lightly in individual baking dishes.
Sprinkle with cheese and potato chips.
Bake 10-15 minutes.