Small Recipes...Chicken Diane for 2

This is one of our favorite special occasion recipes…I make it for anniversary or birthday meals for the two of us.  We used to go to an Italian restaurant whose specialty was Steak Diane for special occasions, sadly they retired.  My husband actually prefers chicken, so this recipe from “Cooking Light 1994” has been perfect, and it’s very quick to make.  It was our 55th anniversary last week, so I had to make our sentimental favorite.
I usually split boneless chicken breasts lengthwise to get the right size portion, and pound them out before freezing them…all the mess at one time!   Sometimes the breast halves are so big I get 3 portions from one.  Just try and buy a small chicken nowadays!      
                          Chicken Diane for 2
     1/4    pound  Fresh Mushrooms -- sliced
     1/3     cup  Onion -- chopped
  2          4 ounce  Chicken Breast Halves -- boneless, skinless
              dash  Salt
              dash  Pepper
     2/3    tablespoon  Fresh Chives -- chopped
     2/3    tablespoon  Fresh Parsley -- chopped
  1          tablespoon  Chicken Broth
  1          tablespoon  Cognac
  1          teaspoon  Dijon Mustard
              olive oil
Using a small amount of olive oil, sauté mushrooms and onion in a large skillet until tender.  Remove and set aside.
Sprinkle chicken breast halves, pounded to a 1/4" thickness, with salt and pepper.
In same pan, sauté chicken 4 minutes until lightly browned.  Turn chicken and spoon reserved mushroom mixture over chicken.
Combine remaining ingredients; pour over chicken.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes until chicken is tender.
Transfer to plates or serving platter; spoon mushroom mixture over chicken.
  "Cooking Light 1994"

Sunday in Iowa...

A corncrib and this tree are all that remain of a farmstead  
North of What Cheer, Iowa

Saturday Thoughts...Use It Up...Dried Tortellini Alfredo


I wanted a dish that used that last of a half pint of heavy cream, so Alfredo-one of our favorite meals!  I always keep good block Parmesan that I shred in my food processor and package in small packages in the freezer.  I looked through my freezer Use It Up Box, and found that I had some mushrooms and ham slices that needed to be used. 
I could have made this dish today with any kind of pasta, but I had tortellini…one of our favorites. While I like fresh, refrigerated tortellini, the packages are just too big for 2 servings.  Dried tortellini, either Barilla or Priano (at Aldi’s) work well, taste good and you can use part of a package and use the rest later than you could the fresh pasta. 
I have made versions of this dish with shrimp or chicken as well as ham, or you can leave out the protein and make it a side dish and serve it with your meat, chicken or seafood.  Use a vegetable of your choice…make it your own.
                 Dried Tortellini in Alfredo Sauce for 2
  4         ounces  dried tortellini, cheese filled
  1         tablespoon  onion peeled and diced
  2          teaspoons  extra virgin olive oil
     1/3  cup  Peas -- fresh or frozen
     1/2  cup  heavy cream
  2         tablespoons  mushrooms -- sliced 
  2         tablespoons  parmesan cheese
  3-4      ounces  Ham -- or shrimp, chicken in bite size pieces
BRING a large pot of water to boil.
COOK tortellini according to the package directions.
SAUTE onion, mushrooms and meat or shrimp with olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until translucent, about 4 minutes
REMOVE a couple of tablespoons of hot pasta water and reserve for sauce.
DRAIN tortellini  over the peas in a colander and add  with the cream to the contents of the skillet or wok until thickened, adding reserved pasta water if needed.
STIR in cheese before serving

Baking with Honey... Grandma's Honey Muffins

 I love it when I try a new recipe and my husband thinks it’s even better than my old-standby.  This recipe from Taste of Home is just that…he loved the slightly sweet honey taste of these muffins…nothing needed but a little butter on your split muffin.  We enjoyed them today with Crunchy Macaroni Salad.
For this half recipe I used an egg yolk instead of half an egg; I used the egg white to make a half recipe of Coconut Macaroons.
This is going in my “Keeper” file!                   

                      Grandma's Honey Muffins
  1        cup  all-purpose flour -- 5 ounces
  1 1/2 teaspoons  baking powder
     1/4 teaspoon  salt
     1/4 cup  sugar
  1        egg yolk -- or half egg
     1/2 cup  milk
  2        tablespoons  butter -- melted
  2        tablespoons  honey
Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, combine egg, milk, butter and honey. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm.
Freeze option: Freeze cooled muffins in resealable plastic freezer bags. To use, thaw at room temperature or, if desired, microwave each muffin on high for 20-30 seconds or until heated through, then toast in your toaster oven until crisp, 3-4 minutes, watching carefully. 
Yield: 1/2 dozen.                     

Small Recipes...Maple Sausage Skillet

This is a recipe from Down Home Cooking for One or Two that was a hit at our house.  Simple and delicious, I had it on the table in 15 minutes.  
I did modify the recipe for a smaller amount and to use what I normally keep on hand.
I used cooked rice that I batch cook in our Instant Pot and freeze in 1 cup packages just for recipes like this, and I used Johnsonville Smoked Brats that I usually have in the freezer.  (Not a paid advertisement!)  The original recipe called for kielbasa.  I’ve found that any cooked link sausage works just fine, I have used Lil Smokies and maple breakfast sausages too, whatever I have that was on sale.
The maple syrup is the easiest stir-fry sauce I’ve ever used, and it added just the right touch of sweetness.   My husband thinks this should be added to our “Everyday” cookbook, and I agree.                

            Maple Sausage Skillet  
  1          teaspoon  canola oil
     1/4    pound  precooked smoked bratwurst -- sliced
     3/4    cup  sliced fresh mushrooms
     1/2    medium  green pepper -- thinly sliced
     1/2    small  onion -- halved and sliced
     1/2    celery rib -- sliced
  1          tablespoon  maple syrup
     1/8    teaspoon  pepper
  1          cup  hot cooked rice
Prepare rice or reheat frozen homemade cooked rice.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook and stir 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned. Add vegetables; cook and stir 3-4 minutes longer or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in syrup and pepper; heat through. Serve with rice or stir the rice right into the stir fry like I do.
Makes 2 servings"

Sunday in Iowa...

A farm-style teeter-totter  
In Williamsburg, Iowa  
Notice the extra seat in the center for more fun

9/11...Never Forget


The 9/11 Memorial in the Oskaloosa, Iowa Downtown  Square.   
There is a 72 hour vigil for Mahaska County in the city square.    High school students placed the 2977 flags.  The County courthouse is in the background.  
Oskaloosa-based Musco Lighting provided temporary lighting for recovery operations at two of the crash sites: The World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The company also provided lighting for the memorial service in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. American flags flown over the sites from the masts of the Musco Lighting trucks are still kept in Oskaloosa, and the flag that was flown over Ground Zero in New York City is being flown over the Oskaloosa Square.

Honey Facts and History

Sue and I grew eating honey.  I don’t really remember that either our Mom or Grandma used it to cook with, but it was used with French Toast, Regular toast and my favorite on warm fresh baked Bread. 
 Grandma had a Bee Farmer that we would go to and she bought her honey there. Always at least one honeycomb which we as kids didn’t get very often, that treat was saved for the grownups.
 The story of honey is older than history itself. An 8,000-year-old cave painting in Spain depicts honey harvesting, and we know it's been used for food, medicine and more by cultures all over the world since.
 But honey isn't about humans. It's the natural product made from bees—one of our planet's most important animals. Honey bees visit millions of blossoms in their lifetimes, making pollination of plants possible and collecting nectar to bring back to the hive.
Lucky for us, bees make more honey than their colony needs, and beekeepers remove the excess and bottle it. Just like they've been doing since the beginning of time.
 Honey is best stored in a sealed container at room temperature, between 64-75°F (18-24°C). Cooler temperatures, between 35-60°F, hasten honey's natural crystallization process. Honey stored at temperatures above 85°F for extended periods of time will darken in color and be subject to subtle flavor changes. 
 In most honeys, fructose predominates and tends to make honey taste slightly sweeter than sugar. On the average, honey is 1 to 1.5 times sweeter (on a dry weight basis) than sugar.
 The viscosity of honey is affected by temperature, moisture content and floral source. If your Honey is crystalized put the jar in a pan of hot water and the crystals will melt back into a pourable syrup again. 
 There are several web sites for honey, One is the National Honey Board at They have recipes and information and a lot of nutrition facts.
 Here in the Midwest Sioux Bee Honey is a popular brand. When you are reading the label be sure you know what you are getting. Honey companies are now allowed to cut the amount of honey with corn syrup. Both of us only buy Honey packaged and harvested in the US. Some of the overseas honey can be iffy to buy or eat. Never feed honey to children under 1 year. Their system won’t handle it at that age and there might be some very severe problems. Adults however get to enjoy the sweet treat.