Cookbook Review...Better Homes and Gardens Complete Step-by-Step Cook Book

I’m not sure where I purchased the Better Homes and Gardens Complete Step-by-Step Cook Book used, but I haven’t been sorry.  The idea behind this big book is to explain cooking techniques - 122 of them – so cooks could get out of their “same old thing” cooking rut. 
Each technique in the book is explained with a classic recipe with photos of each step.  Each section is rounded out by additional recipes that use the same technique so you can practice.  If you want to cook from scratch more often, a book like this will make you more successful. 
The book covers everything from meat, poultry and seafood cooking techniques, eggs, sauces, soups, vegetables, fruits and salads, including homemade mayonnaise and salad dressings, breads of all kinds, every type of cake, cookies, pies, candy, ice cream, desserts and more.
Published in 1978, this is a book I’d like to see updated for today’s cooks.  But nevertheless, it’s a good book, with more illustrations of the steps you need to know than many cookbooks out there.

Family Favorites...Crisp Oat Pecan Cookies

  I wanted to make some cookies today, and did not want to go to the store, so the recipe had to be something I had in the pantry.
 This recipe in the Taste of Home Winning Recipes was for a cookie mix in a jar. Those are not my favorite type of mixes but the recipe looked interesting. I made it up using their ingredients and normal cookie directions and they are very good. 
  The recipe mix just made one batch of cookies so I wouldn’t bother to make a mix out of it. Do give it a try though as you will never have anyone guess that there are Rice Krispies in the dough. The cookies are light and crisp and crunchy. Just hit the spot and everyone said to make them again, so will keep them in my list of cookie recipes we like.
 Here is my adaptation of Oat Pecan Cookies.
Crisp Oat Pecan Cookies
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup old fashioned or regular oats (not instant)
1 cup crisp rice cereal
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup softened butter
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  Mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda, oats, rice cereal and pecans in small bowl; set aside.
  Beat butter till soft, add sugars and beat till light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Gradually add the the dry ingredients to the butter, egg mixture. Blend till combined.
  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls on greased or parchment lined cookie sheets.
Bake in 350°F. Oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake as they will be hard. They should be brown and look slightly damp. 
  Leave cookies on cookie sheet for a few minutes, then cool cookies on wire racks.
To use as a mix in a jar
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda. In a 1 quart jar layer the flour mixture, brown sugar, oats, pecans and rice cereal. Packing well between each layer. Cover and store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months. 

To make cookies, cream the butter beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually add cookie mix until well combined. Bake as above.

Baked Chicken Fingers

I am always on the lookout for recipes that I can eat as a Celiac and the rest will enjoy.
This recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Comfort Foods cookbook caught my eye. They are using pretzels or tortilla chips. I made them using GF potato chips as I had them on hand. They were excellent, easy to make and just enough different to give us a new dish. 
 I bought chicken tenders from our local grocery store, but cutting boneless chicken breast into strips is simple and fast. Serve them with your favorite dipping sauce and they are much better and cheaper than your local fast food place.
Baked Chicken Fingers
1 egg lightly beaten
¼ cup sour cream
¼  teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds skinless boneless chicken breast halves
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups crushed pretzel twists or 4 cups of your favorite chips crushed (GF if you need to)
  Preheat oven to 425°F. In a medium bowl combine egg, sour cream, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Cut chicken lengthwise into ¾ inch thick strips, pound between pieces of plastic wrap to an even thickness. Add chicken to egg mixture in bowl; stir to coat.
Brush a 15x10x1 inch baking pan with the oil; set aside.   Place crushed chips or pretzels in a shallow dish. Dip chicken into bowl, into coating, pressing strips to help coating adhere. Place on oiled pan and bake in hot oven for 10 minutes (425°F.) turning over after the first five minutes. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

From the Garden...Green Peas with Bacon

I’m always on the look-out for pretty side dishes and new ways with vegetables.  This recipe from “Southern Living Comfort Food " caught both Myrna’s and my eye.  My husband loved ‘em…what’s not to like…bacon, orange, mint and peas.  This would be a very nice vegetable for entertaining or a family treat.  I used bacon from my brother-in-law’s homestead hog that was processed at the Leighton Locker in Leighton, Iowa.  Check out orange zest HERE.
 Green Peas with Bacon
  4    slices  bacon
  2    teaspoons  bacon drippings -- save in skillet
  2    each  shallots -- sliced
  1    teaspoon  orange zest
  1    cup  orange juice -- fresh
  2    pounds frozen green peas -- thawed*
  2    tablespoons  mint -- fresh, chopped
  1    tablespoon  butter
 Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Remove and crumble bacon.  Remove 2 teaspoons drippings in skillet.
Sauté shallots in hot drippings over medium high heat for 2 minutes or until tender.  Stir in orange zest, orange juice, pepper and salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until reduced by half.  Add peas and cook 5 minutes.  Stir in mint and butter.
Transfer peas to a serving dish, sprinkle with crumbled bacon.
*6 cups shelled fresh sweet green peas may be substituted.  Cook the peas in boiling water to cover 5 minutes; drain and proceed with recipe as directed.
12 servings
Per Serving: 96 Calories; 3g Fat (27.9% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 5mg Cholesterol; 133mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1/2 Grain (Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat.

Easy Red Beans and Rice with Sausage

This is a great recipe from “Conecuh Sausage", whose ads run in Southern magazines like “Taste of the South” and “Southern Living”.  You can use pints of your own home canned beans or tomatoes, or use 2 cups of cooked beans for each pint called for.  I have used Andouille sausage for an authentic taste, and smoked brats when that was all I had on hand…good too.  It’s actually perfectly good without any sausage at all; it’s then a great quick pantry meal.  I always have the ingredients for “the Trinity”, celery, onion and green peppers on hand.  I freeze garden peppers already chopped for recipes like this all winter long.
 In less than half an hour you have a filling, tasty meal that doesn’t require heating the oven.  We usually serve it with a chopped salad and fruit for dessert.

Easy Red Beans and Rice with Sausage
  3        Tablespoons  Oil -- divided
  1        Pound  Smoked Sausage -- sliced 1/2" thick
     ½    Cup  Onion -- chopped
     ½    Cup  Celery -- chopped
     ½    Cup  Green Pepper -- chopped
  2        Teaspoons  Garlic -- minced
  15      Ounces  Kidney Beans, Canned -- dark red
  15      Ounces  Kidney Beans, Canned -- light red
  15      Ounces  Canned Tomatoes -- diced, undrained
  2 ½    Teaspoons  Creole or Cajun Seasoning
  1        Teaspoon  Thyme -- or 1 tbsp. fresh, chopped
  2        Teaspoons  Paprika
                        For Cooked Rice
  1 ½    Cups  Rice -- uncooked
  3        Cups  Water

Prepare rice according to package directions.  While rice is cooking, prepare sausage-bean mixture.  Keep rice warm until served.
In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium-high heat.  Add sausage; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned.  Remove from pan using slotted spoon.
Add remaining oil, onion, celery, green pepper and garlic to pan.  Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 10 minutes.
Add beans, sausage, tomato and seasonings; simmer 10 minutes.  Serve with rice.

8 Servings

Use It Up...Tomatoes in Freezer Tomato Soup

Tired of canning tomatoes, running out of jars, but still have plenty in the garden?? Here’s a great recipe – just like those expensive cartons of tomato soup, but you control the ingredients and use up those sun-warmed garden tomatoes.  I grow a flower box of basil just to use in tomato recipes like this.
Freezer Tomato Soup
1 pound onions -- thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
6 pounds tomatoes -- peeled and quartered
Homemade chicken broth or water, Add to Tomatoes to Make 13 Cups total
2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
1/4 cup fresh basil -- snipped
1 teaspoon thyme -- crushed leaf type
1 teaspoon Sugar -- or Splenda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce**
Cook onion in hot oil until tender. Stir in all ingredients. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 40 minutes, stir occasionally. Puree mixture with blender stick. until the consistancy you like, or run through your blender in batches after cooling some. I leave ours a little chunky.  Cool, pour into freezer containers, ( I use quart freezer bags) and freeze.
To serve, thaw, cover and cook until heated through. If still frozen, cook as directed over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
"Yield: "6 Pint Jars" or 12 cups
COST in Summer 2010: Cost with garden tomatoes and basil is $ 6.05 or 68 cents per pint with purchased onions.
Per 1 cup Serving: 122 Calories; 6g Fat (37.4% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 634mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 3 Vegetable; 1 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.
**Louisiana Hot Sauce (800 299-9082) is Gluten Free

Cookbook Reviews...Perfect Baking Every Time

Perfect Baking Every Time sounds like a great title for a cookbook on baking, doesn’t it? This is another of the small paperback cookbooks sold in grocery and other stores by companies such as Betty Crocker and Pillsbury
 I have a weakness for cookbooks on baking and tend to buy them if they are the small paperback ones for just a few recipes I will use. This one published in 1990 by Betty Crocker had several I have used. 
 A lot of them featured fall fruit such as Apples and pumpkin. The blurb says they are for people who are short of time to bake and that these recipes are foolproof using the best of the harvest and Gold Medal flour.
 I like them because they are from scratch and not a lot of convenience foods.
 The book lists a chart of how to pick a apple for eating and baking. This is always a nice extra. Now there are more types of apples on the market than listed here and some of those listed are hard to buy any more unless you are near a apple orchard.
 We have featured several recipes from this cookbook and encourage you to try one or more. They are for those of us short of time. (which is most of us)