Sunday in Iowa...


Small town snow roundabouts...
The aftermath of a 8-10" snowfall Friday night into Saturday.  
Snowpiles on several corners of the town square in Oskaloosa, Iowa, there are more for several more blocks.
They are cleared away overnight.  Vehicles like the pickup in the bottom photo all go around on the right until they get to the street they want to take.

Cream of Chicken with Tortellini Soup


Here’s what we had for lunch on a snowy cold day this week.  I had cooked chicken to use, and some of the cheese tortellini in the cupboard.  I also freeze chopped onion and celery so I had a real head start on this recipe.  Don’t boil the tortellini hard; it will break up.
 I like dried shelf-stable cheese tortellini; the least expensive is the Priano brand from Aldi’s.  The other brand in this area is from Barilla; its good but is more expensive.   Of course, you can also use a package of refrigerated tortellini, or you can use plain noodles instead and cook until they are done.                  
Cream of Chicken with Tortellini Soup
  5           cups  Chicken Stock
     2/3    cup  Celery -- medium dice
     2/3    cup  Carrots -- very thinly sliced
     1/2     cup  onion -- diced
  9           ounces  Dried cheese tortellini -- purchased
  1           cup  whole milk
  6           tablespoons  flour
  3           cups  cooked chicken -- large dice
     2/3    cup  peas -- optional
  1 1/2    tablespoons  sherry
  1 1/2    teaspoons  poultry seasoning
Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a large pot and add the celery, carrots, onion and tortellini. Simmer uncovered for about 8-10 minutes, until the tortellini are cooked. (Change time if using other pasta - follow package directions).
Make a slurry of the milk and flour, stir into the broth. Add the cooked chicken meat and peas and heat through until thickened and hot, about 4-5 minutes. Season to taste and serve.
6 Servings

Cream Puffs


Our dad usually requested cream puffs for his birthday instead of cake, he liked his with filling and chocolate on top.  
Cream Puffs are quite easy to make. You can vary the size, shape and fillings to suit the menu you have in mind.
 These are filled with an Orange Cream Cheese Whipped Cream filling. I drizzled some chocolate over them. If you make them bite size, a hot chicken salad, tuna salad, crab salad, the fillings are endless. Great appetizers.
 No matter what you see on the Food Channel, you do not have to pipe them out. Drop the dough from a spoon and they work just fine.  Do give these a try and you will be surprised how easy they are to make. 
Everyone will be impressed and won't know how easy they are to make.
This will make about 10 to 12 larger puffs
Cream Puffs
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
4 eggs
3 cups of whipped cream, pudding, or what ever filling you choose.
Preheat oven to 400°. Grease or line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan combine the water butter and salt.
Bring to boiling, add the flour all at once. stirring vigorously. Cook and stir until mixture forms a ball of dough that pulls away from the sides of the pan and doesn’t fall apart.
Cool 10 minutes. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each.
Drop from a Tablespoon (I just use a large soup spoon) onto prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until they are firm and golden brown.
Remove and cut small slit in side to let steam out. Let cool.
When cool, slice top off and pull out any soft dough from inside.
Fill and put tops back on.
If you wanted to, instead of dropping the dough you could pipe them onto the sheet, but that is a lot of unnecessary work.
Filling
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon sugar 
2 tablespoons orange juice 
2 teaspoons grated orange zest 
1 cup thawed frozen whipped topping 
Beat the cream cheese, sugar, orange juice and orange zest in a medium bowl with a fork or whisk until the mixture is smooth. Fold in the whipped topping.
Any boxed pudding mix, lightened with a little whipped cream makes a good filling. 

Blog Withdrawal...and Lunch Today

I don't know what to say...Myrna and I are suffering from "blog withdrawal" already!  We have decided we will post a few times a month with favorite recipes we are making now, or new things we have tried, or when we have something we want to say about equipment, cookbooks, or ideas we have found useful.
That said, here is the recipe I am making for our Sunday lunch today...an old favorite that my husband is delighted I am making more often.


This is a perfect recipe for chuck roast – it was easy, tender and delicious. I have both rosemary and thyme growing in pots, so it was perfect for us.  The baby carrots are just the right size to cook evenly, and you don’t even have to peel them.   If you don’t have wine on hand, try a can of consommé or some good beef broth.  The smaller pieces of beef can be sliced across the grain, making very tender roast.  We served this with homemade mashed potatoes, very, very good!  Pasta, noodles or crusty bread would also make a delicious meal.

Individual Pot Roasts with Herbs and Carrots

Serves 4
1 1/2 to 2 pounds chuck roast
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups red wine or consommé
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juices
1 whole sprig fresh rosemary
2 whole sprigs fresh thyme
1 16-ounce bag baby carrots
Heat oven to 325°F. Quarter the chuck roast into 4 equally-sized chunks of meat, like mini pot roasts. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Heat a heavy deep pan or Dutch oven over high heat. When the pan is hot, place each piece of the chuck roast in the pan. Sear for several minutes (or until the meat releases easily) on both sides. You may need to do this in two batches; don't crowd the pan. Let the meat get quite dark, with crusty spots on both sides.
When the meat is well-browned, remove it from the pan and put on a plate. Drizzle a little olive oil into the pan and turn the heat down to medium. Add the onions and garlic, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Cook the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring until they are soft. Add the wine and scrape any remaining bits of meat up from the bottom of the pan. Pour in the tomatoes and bring the mix to a simmer, then turn off the heat.
Add the meat back into the pan. Place the rosemary sprig and whole thyme sprigs in the pot. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and put in the oven. Cook for 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is very tender.
In the last 30 minutes of cooking,  add the carrots to the pot roast in the oven and cover. Leave the carrots in the pot for the last 30 minutes of cooking the pot roasts (or until tender).
Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Then serve with the carrots on the side.
Adapted from the Kitchn.com

Good Bye...


We have come to the end of our excellent blog adventure...
after almost 10 years of sharing the fun and challenges of more than 3000 posts, more than 2 1/2 million pageviews, preparing literally hundreds of recipes, new and old, reading lots of cookbooks and trying not to buy all of them, trying the patience of our families (by taking pictures of their meals before they could eat, among other things), and becoming even closer as sisters.

We plan to relax and read other people's blogs, answer questions on the blog,  still try recipes, but not so many (I have promised my husband), and continue to enjoy coffee times together and the kind of friendship that you only have with someone who shares so many of your memories.

We do plan to leave the blog in place and  continue to answer questions and comments. 

Thanks for YOUR friendship, comments and sharing.  
 Myrna and Sue

Do You Remember?...Simpler Holidays

Maybe today, as the holiday season winds down, it's time for you to take a break from the crowds and busyness, reflect on this year and plan next year to only choose the activities that really mean the most to you.  
Not surprisingly, many women do way more than their families and friends even care about, holding themselves to an exhausting standard as providers of “holiday memories”.   
Why don’t you ask your family what rituals, foods, decorations, etc., really matter to them, believe them, and try to cut down and enjoy the holiday next year.  If your kids really think something is essential - certain cookies, a special pie, elaborate decorations - maybe it's time they took responsibility for it.   
Less stuff, less expense, less worries – more time to enjoy those times spent with your loved ones – what’s not to like.  
Looking at old photos of Myrna’s and my family, and my own family’s Christmases past, I am always surprised at how simple they looked compared to the glossy magazine and perfect "lifestyle" website versions of Christmas today.  I know we thought we had the best Christmases ever – because we were together.

In the top photo - left to right: Myrna, our Mom, me on my Dad's lap, our older sister Kay - it was cold, but I think Myrna and Kay were showing off the new Christmas dresses from Grandma for this photo to be sent home from California, where we lived during the war. Bottom photo - Our son Dave with a hat and mittens knitted by Aunt Myrna in the 1970's.

Family Favorites...Crispy Potato Patties

When Myrna and I were kids, or our husbands, for that matter, all of our Moms made potato patties or cakes from leftover mashed potatoes.    It was part of the “Use it up” mentality of that generation, and we all also had plenty of potatoes that everyone raised in their gardens.  
Here’s a version I like better than my Mom’s; she didn't have access to those crispy Panko crumbs, and she also used a lot more fat.   You can season those potatoes to suit your other meal choices.   Or, if you wish, add a little chopped ham or bacon bits and make them your main dish.              
                            Crispy Potato Patties
   2        cups  Mashed Potatoes -- leftover
  ½       cup  Panko
  1        large  Egg -- lightly beaten
 2         tablespoons  olive oil 
 2         tablespoons butter
  ½       cup  Panko -- for coating
In a large bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, first amount of panko, and beaten egg. Shape the potato mixture into 3-inch patties. Dredge the patties in the remaining panko.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the vegetable oil and butter. Handling carefully with a turner, add half of the patties and cook until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Repeat the procedure with more oil and butter, if needed, and remaining patties. Serve hot.

I make 8 thin patties from this amount.

Breakfast Scramble

 I cleaned out the roll out freezer and the refrigerator today so supper was going to be leftovers. I started out thinking I would make omelets but decided not to. Instead I browned some left over sliced baked potatoes, added some diced onion and yellow and green peppers from the freezer. I had three slices of bacon I had baked and froze and used 6 eggs from the dozen I bought for 50 cents at our local Fareway store. Some fresh thyme from my pot and salt and pepper added and supper was done and leftovers used. We have been trying harder this year not to waste food and plan the leftovers for another meal. I had thought I would melt some cheese over the dish, but everyone decided no so just added some toast and called it good. This would be excellent for breakfast as well though I tend to make this type of a meal for supper and just have cereal for breakfast. Either way, try this and use up some of your stash.
Breakfast Scramble
2 medium cooked (baked or boiled or steamed) potatoes
¼ of a medium onion
2 tablespoons of diced green or red peppers
3 slices bacon cut in cubes 
6 eggs
¼ cup cream or milk
Salt, pepper, and thyme to taste

 Sauté bacon in skillet, remove and cook diced onion and pepper till soft. Add the sliced or cubed potatoes and cook till browned and warm. Add the bacon back in. Whip the eggs and cream together, add seasonings and pour over the potato mixture. Cook lifting edges of eggs to allow the top to run under until the eggs are soft set. If using some cheese sprinkle it over the top and allow to melt. Covering with a lid will hasten this. Cheddar, or swiss or your favorite cheese will work fine. Serve with toast or muffins or your favorite bread for a fast and easy meal.