Tortellini in Alfredo Sauce

We really like to keep dried tortellini on hand; shelf stable and delicious.  This recipe is a very nice side dish with fish, as we enjoyed it, or with pork chops, steaks, meatloaf or chicken.  It’s so much better than making an Alfredo dish with the thick, chemical-filled purchased sauces, and, I think, actually easier to prepare.    The cream is necessary to thicken the sauce properly.    I use either Barilla dried tortellini or Priano dried tortellini I have purchased at Aldi’s; both are excellent.  They are usually found with the other dried pastas.
Make this dish your own; add your own additions depending on what you want to use up, or make it a main dish with the addition of a little cooked meat or poultry.              

                       Tortellini in Alfredo Sauce
  12        ounces  dried Tortellini
  3          tablespoons  onion peeled and diced
  6          teaspoons  extra virgin olive oil
  1          cup  Peas -- fresh or frozen
  1 1/2   cups  heavy cream
     1/2   cup  black olives -- halved
  6          tablespoons  Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded
     1/2   tablespoon  fresh parsley chopped
              salt and black pepper to taste

BRING a large pot of water to boil, add salt
COOK tortellini according to the package directions.
SAUTE onion with olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until translucent, about 4 minutes
SEASON with salt and pepper.
REMOVE a couple of tablespoons of hot pasta water and reserve for sauce.
DRAIN tortellini over the peas in a colander and toss with cream and onion in the cooking kettle, adding reserved pasta water if needed.
STIR in black olives and cheese before serving.
6 Servings

Use It Up…Wild Rice

Myrna and I both like wild rice, having spent our growing-up years in Minnesota.  As you probably guessed, wild rice is a grass seed, not a grain.  When cooked, wild rice expands to three to four times its original size.  We usually cook plenty and freeze some for other recipes because it takes up to 50 minutes to cook.  I always cook mine in home-canned chicken or turkey broth for freezing so I have that delicious flavor.
A less expensive alternative that also takes much less time to cook is a long-grain, wild rice mix.  A couple of the recipes you might want to try using the mix are at the bottom of the recipe list.
To cook wild rice, combine 1 cup uncooked wild rice with about three cups liquid (such as water or broth) in a 2-3 quart saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 35-50 minutes. Wild rice bursts open when it’s cooked, so you can tell at a glance when it’s done. As with all grains, taste a few morsels and keep cooking a few minutes longer if it’s not tender enough for your taste. Fluff with a fork and serve. Yields 3-4 cups.
Storage and freezing. Because it’s extremely low in fat, uncooked wild rice will keep almost indefinitely in a dry, airtight container. Cooked, drained, and tightly-covered wild rice can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, and in the freezer for up to six months.

Try some of these recipes featuring wild rice:

With Wild Rice Mix

Sunday in Iowa...

Goats in the pasture on an Amish farm
Near Stringtown, Iowa on Ia. Highway 1

Cookbooks Reviews...Betty Crocker Good and Easy Cook Book

I’m on my second copy of the original Betty Crocker Good and Easy Cook Book, first published in 1954.  The first one, purchased when I was in college, simply gave out, and lost its cover, because it was used so much. The book has been revised several times, but I still like the old one, which uses minimal mixes and convenience foods. 
The book has the basics, and I mean basics, like how to make coffee and bake a potato, as well as a real variety of recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and entertaining.  I like the menu ideas scattered throughout the book and lots of suggestions for dressing up and adding variety to basics like fruit and vegetables.  
We moved to Germany right after we got married, and I used this cookbook constantly those years – as I learned to cook for two instead of the institutional cooking I was used to.  At home, our mom only had a few cookbooks – a 1940’s Red Plaid, and a church cookbook is what I remember.  I had my 1970’s Red Plaid and this book the first 5 years, until we returned to the states and I started collecting cookbooks. 
Some of our family favorites over the years are from this book…recipes I still make.  It wasn’t hard for me to find recipes in this book…some of them are below.

Molasses Baked Beans

Macaroni Sauté

Orange Onion Salad

Janette's Pork and Noodles

Scrambled Eggs

Family Favorites...Honey Roasted Peanut Crisps

  Peanuts are something I associate with the South. When I saw the recipe for Honey Roasted Peanut Crisps in the Southern Living Homestyle Cooking, I knew I would have to try them. I have made cookies with peanuts before, but these call for Honey Roasted instead of salted. 
  I like cookie recipes calling for half butter and half shortening. They make a nice crisp cookie which we all like. Just be sure that you are using all vegetable shortening.
  With their brown sugar and honey peanuts, they got great reviews from my tasters. Lyle said with his first bite, “you can make these again.” always a good thing when you have tried something new.
  I use cookie scoops instead of rolling into balls, much faster. Be sure to lightly grease the bottom of the glass you are using to flatten the cookies or the sugar won’t stick to the glass and the cookie will. Also, leaving the cookies on the sheets for a few minutes will let them brown a little more so keep that in mind. If you don’t leave them, they tend to fall apart. Of course, the broken ones are for the cook.
Honey Roasted Peanut Crisps
½ cup butter
½ cup shortening
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 cups honey-roasted peanuts (I used a 12 ounce can, which was plenty of nuts)
2 tablespoons sugar
  Heat oven to 375°. Combine flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. 
Beat butter and shortening with an electric mixer or by hand until creamy; gradually add the cup of brown sugar, beating well. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Add the flour mixture in 2 to 3 batches, mix well. Stir peanuts in by hand.
  Shape dough into 1¼ inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with flat bottomed greased glass dipped in sugar. Bake at 375° for 7 to 8 minutes. Cool slightly on baking sheets; remove to wire rack to cool.
Yield: about 4 dozen

Veggie Hamburger Rice Skillet

Noodles on left  Cheese on right
 Tonight is cold and raw so made a casserole I had been wanting to try.
It is for a larger amount than we would eat so my daughter and grandson stayed to help eat it. I made a loaf of Herb batter bread so the house smelled so good and the oven on warmed up the house.
 The casserole is made in one skillet, easy to make and easy to clean up. 
There was a variation so I topped the casserole with cheese on one half and chow mein noodles on the other half. The vote went for the noodles as the best. Use what your family likes best. 
I didn’t have instant rice and as I rarely use it I used some rice I had left from dinner at our Chinese restaurant. I had put it in the freezer and there was enough for the casserole. Sure saves time. If you don’t have any on hand already cooked I would use the instant rice for the texture and the timing. It needs 2 cups cooked rice
Veggie Hamburger Rice Skillet
1 pound lean ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup water (omit if using already cooked rice) 
1 cup uncooked instant rice (this makes 2 cups cooked rice)
1 (14 to 16 oz) package frozen stir fry vegies broccoli, carrots, water chestnuts and red peppers
 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon seasoned salt
1 (10 ¾ ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
4 ounces (1 cup) shredded cheddar cheese or ¼ cup chow mein noodles
 In large skillet, brown ground beef and onion; drain. Add water, rice, frozen vegetables, garlic powder and seasoned salt; mix well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 6 to 8 minutes or until tender. Stir in soup and tomato sauce. Cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Top with cheese. Cover and let stand 2 to 3 minutes to melt cheese. If using chow mein noodles, it is nice to heat in a 350° oven for about 15 minutes to heat noodles and crisp them. You could also use cashews as a topping.

From the Garden...Scalloped Corn

  Lyle had been requesting scalloped corn. This recipe, from the Taste of Home Holiday Recipes 2003 is for a basic scalloped corn. Lyle and Bettie both thought it was just like they had growing up and so were very pleased with it.
  I found it quite easy to make using frozen corn and will make it again for them.
This is scalloped corn like Grandma or Mom made. Still a good simple vegetable to feed your family and inexpensive to prepare.
Scalloped Corn
4 cups fresh or frozen corn
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk (I would use 1 1/4 cup next time)
1 cup (about 30) crushed saltine crackers, divided
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
Salt and pepper to taste
  In a medium bowl combine the corn, eggs, milk, 3/4 cup crushed crackers, butter, sugar, salt and pepper and onion. Transfer to a 1 1/2 quart greased baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining crumbs and bake uncovered, at 325° for 1 hour or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Yield 6 servings

Corn and Rice Chowder

Bacon is the flavor boost in this different but delicious corn chowder.   The second time I made this I used cooked rice I had leftover and frozen…even quicker!  I used plain corn and some diced garden red and green peppers I had in the freezer.
I could envision using browned chopped ham instead of bacon, and perhaps adding a little American cheese for a different soup, perhaps with some cumin instead of thyme.  I found this recipe in a March, 1993 Pillsbury booklet Pasta, Rice and Beans.
We enjoyed this with Date Muffins and a chopped salad.

Corn and Rice Chowder
  4        Slices  Bacon -- cut up
     ½    Cup  Onion -- chopped
     ½    Cup  Celery -- sliced
  3        Tablespoons  Flour
  3        Cups  Milk
  2        Cups  Corn With Red and Green Peppers -- canned or frozen (thawed slightly)
     ½    Cup  Rice – uncooked (or 1 ½ cups cooked)
            Salt and Pepper -- to taste
     ¼    Teaspoon  Dried Thyme
Cook bacon until crisp; remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Reserve on tablespoon drippings in pan; add onion and celery and cook until crisp-tender.
Stir in flour; cook until bubbly.  Gradually stir in milk; cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly.  Add vegetables, rice, and seasonings.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat; cover and simmer 20-30 minutes until rice is tender.  Crumble bacon and stir into chowder; heat thoroughly.
**If using already cooked rice, simmer 7-10 minutes until heated thoroughly.

  4 servings      "1 Quart"