Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Copycat Green Sauce

Gotta post something or give it up!!  I have been so busy doing yard work that I literaly put off for ten years.  That's not to mention all the trees we had to cut that died from hypoxylon canker worsened by drought stress.  And yes, I do mean cut.  My husband and I cut about eight trees!  I should be skinny, but I'm not! 

Do you love the green sauce that is served at some Mexican restaurants?  Here is a copycat recipe that I got from my good friend, Charley McQueen.  Yum, it is good!

Green Sauce

2 ripe avocados
1/2 can Rotel tomatoes
2 ounces chopped green chilies
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese
1  8 ounce container sour cream
1 1/2  teaspoons lemon juice
3 to 4 drops green food coloring
Dash cayenne pepper

Blend all.  Chill and serve.  This freezes well, according to Charley.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stars and Sprigs Borders

It has been too long since I did any blogging!!  We have been so busy doing tree cleanup.  Hypoxylon Canker killed 14 of our red oak trees.  You wouldn't believe what tree cutters my husband and I are!!  We have cut all but 5 of them.  Lots of work!!  I work in the yard until at least noon everyday.  Glad I am retired, so I can be outside working.

In the afternoon, I sew.  This is the border sections to the Stars and Sprigs quilt designed by Kim McLean.  I cut the borders in half to fascilitate the machine heirloom applique technique I use.  When they are complete, you won't notice the seam for the sheer beauty of these borders.  Can't wait to finish the body of the quilt so I can begin the actual quilting.  The picture above is actually two different pictures!  Looks a little odd. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Peanut Butter Cornflake Crunch

Before I forget again, here is the Cornflake Crunch recipe we used in the lab.  The full recipe is double of this one.  It can be patted into a 9 by 13 inch lightly buttered pan and cut into squares when cool.  The following is how we made it at school.

1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
5 cups cornflakes cereal

  1. Cook syrup and sugar until mixture comes to a boil. Stir constantly; do not overcook.
  2. Remove from heat, add peanut butter, and stir until smooth. Pour mixture over cornflakes in a large bowl. Mix until cereal is thoroughly coated.
  3. Drop by approxiamately 1/4 cup amounts onto waxed paper.  Cool and enjoy.                   

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dirt Cake

It is the 100th anniversary of Oreo Cookies.  It is only fitting that I add the Dirt Cake recipe that we did every year in the food lab.  This recipe is different than most, because I doubled the cream cheese in order to cut the too sweet taste of many recipes for dirt cake.

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
3 1/2 cups milk
1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
32 ounces Oreo Cookies or some facsimile of ( in other words, Walmart brand will work fine)

 Crush cookies  in  a food processor. The white cream will disappear. Without a food processor, you might use a rolling pin to crush the cookies between pieces of wax paper.  I always leave a number of cookies in fair size chunks to add a little texture to the conglomeration!!

Mix butter, cream cheese, and sugar in bowl with the electric mixer.                                 

 In a separate large bowl mix milk, pudding and whipped topping together.            

Combine pudding mixture and cream mixture together.                

 Layer in a 9 inch by 13 inch pan, starting with cookies then cream mixture. Repeat layers.               

Chill until ready to serve.   Yes!  It needs to chill.

Add gummy worms if you must. Enjoy!


String Quilts and Memories

String quilts are colorful, old-fashioned, easy, fun, and spectacular sometimes!  I make them when I want to do lots of sewing and no thinking.  It is the quilt block I always reccomend for beginners.  It is what I taught my students to make about the last 6 years that I taught.  I let them be the designer.  String quilts can take many forms depending on how the blocks are set together.
    One day at school as we were working on a quilt, a man came in the classroom who was there to work on the intercom system.  I imagine he was about 70 years old.  His face lit up when he saw what we were doing.  He said he knew exactly what we were making, because he made string quilts when he was a child.  He said he was one of 8 children.  His mother would gather the kids in a circle, give them pieces of newspaper for a foundation , and start handing out "strings" of fabric she had cut.  He said they could turn out a quilt top pretty quickly because there were so many of them!  He was delighted to see someone still doing it.

    Here are pictures of some of the string quilts I have made over the years.  Some are not very good quality pictures, but I have given these quilts away and this is the only documentation I have.

Confessing My Mistakes

Somewhere in the neighborhood of  10 years ago, Jackie Muehlstein told me I should get a Juki TL98Q extended bed sewing machine to quilt my creations.  Up to that point, all I ever made was wallhangings.  Well, I took her advice; and I have been quilting up a storm ever since.  I also should mention that Jackie has long been my quilting idol.  She is one of the best!  This quilt was one of the first ones I quilted on the Juki.  It is designed by Piece 'O Cake and called Everyday Best after the designer's grandmother's china.  I made two crucial errors on  this quilt.  I did the applique with fusible web.  It's stiff and will allow the edges to fray a little when washed.  This was before I knew how to do the interfacing  turned applique edge method that I use today.  Another mistake was to use heavy thread to quilt.  It created what I call a "thready" quilt.  This thread was a 3 ply 50 weight of inferior quality to today's threads.  I never let this thick thread near my Juki these days.  I also refuse to do quilting that is so extensive it overshadows the fabrics.  Just enough is enough.  Actually, this quilt also has one wavy edge.  I have learned a tremendous amount since I made this one.  I will say, I was pretty fearless in my beginning days!

All that said, this is still a stunning quilt.  The colors are fantastic.  Designs I really love, I will  make a second time.  I have the foundations ready to make another one minus the mistakes.  Of course, that will be after I complete a pile of works in progress.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Monkeys for Mikah

Through the years of teaching, I had lots of students that touched my life in a special way.  Baby Mikah's mother is one of the special ones.  She and her sisters moved into our district after she was already in high school.  She came to Texas with a  rich cultural heritage different from mine.  She brought her mother's recipe for Beignets to school and  taught us how to make them.  One thing that made her special was her keen intellect and thirst for knowledge.  She was always sharing an interesting something she had learned with me and the class.  In amazement one day, I asked her where she had learned so much.  She told me she enjoyed watching the Discovery Channel and the History Channel.  Who says television can't be a great teacher if you just pay attention? 

Baby Mikah is scheduled to arrive in a few weeks.   He has a big brother who is already in heaven.  His mom is in the hospital under close monitoring so little Mikah will be born healthy and fit.  You can bet that Mikah will be one special little baby.  I can't wait to meet him.  This is his baby play in the floor quilt.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Making Something from Nothing--A Selvage Quilt

I love making something from nothing!  Selvages that would normally be thrown away are sewn into a stunning quilt.  I love string quilts.  This has that same look.  I found this pattern on the internet, and it is called Red Zinger.  I believe the designer is Karen Griska.  This one will hang in my daughter's  art classroom.

More Quilts

I am going to try to put the quilt pictures I have on for your viewing pleasure.  I regret that I have given away or donated a number of beautiful quilts that I haven't documented.  Oh, well!  This first one is a pattern of which I forgot the name.  

The bottom quilt is a Pickle Dish pattern in brights and pastels.  It was sewn using paper foundation piecing.  I have a tendency to love these spiky circles as you will see!  Kitty Boy just loves to be on a quilt and in a picture.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Passionate about Quilts

For as long as I can remember, I have loved quilts.  My grandmother was a quilter, and we always had wonderful quilts to sleep under when I was growing up.  Having no central heat, it would sometimes take three quilts to be cozy and warm through the night.  When I was a young newlywed, I went to Canton First Monday Trade Days and came home with a rich silk and cotton quilt that I proudly displayed on the wall.  From that point, I became a passionate collector of beautiful antique quilts.  I couldn't even begin to say how many quilts I bought and sold over the course of about fifteen years.  One day, not long after I began teaching school, a new passion overtook me.  Friends at school, most notably Vickie Vetrano, taught me about the modern art of quiltmaking.  I say modern because of the new tools that were available that my grandmother never had.  The rotary cutter improved the process of quiltmaking immeasurably, in my opinion.  I had dabbled in "old fashioned" quiltmaking several years earlier.  Let me just say, it was not my cup of tea!  With this new whiz bang rotary cutter and a new appreciation for machine quilting, I was more than interested in taking this craft up as my favorite pasttime.  I was permanently hooked!  This is a partial picture of the quilt that hangs in my living room. It was designed by Blackbird Designs and called When the Cold Wind Blows.  It reminds me of an antique quilt I would have bought in that other life.  It was the first time I used the turned edge applique method called heirloom by machine.  It has nine blocks, although you can only see six in this picture.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sausage Cheese Balls

I had a request for the sausage cheese ball recipe we used.  Here it is!

3 cups Bisquick baking mix

2 cups grated Cheddar cheese

1 pound fresh ground sausage (can use hot or mild)

Dash garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients together.  Add a little warm water if this is not moist enough.  All this mixing is probably better done with clean hands.  Form mixture into 1-inch balls.  Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  This will freeze well before or after baking.  Enjoy these little morsels of deliciousness!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Stars and Sprigs Applique Blocks

I had so much fun with the Kim McLean design of Lollypop Trees.  I thought I would do the other one that I love, Stars and Sprigs.  It is equally insane, but beautiful.  The border is the insane part.  Just wait until you see that!  I have never attempted one so complex.  Here are the first applique blocks that are completed.  I actually substituted some of Jeana Kimble's designs--the bird and the antique rose.  I am not getting any housework done!  I need company to come for motivation.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Artistic One, Susan

I got lots of compliments on my Lollypop Trees Quilt, and I appreciate every one of them.  Some said I was artistic, but what I really am is creative.  I am not happy if I am not being creative, and that's the way I have always been.  If I was purely artistic I would design every quilt I make.
  The creativity gene is strong in my family.  My maternal grandmother, Della Cox Ritter, did every craft that was popular in her day.  She quilted, crocheted a million miles, tatted, embroidered, and sewed all the family clothes except coveralls and jeans.  Grandmother even made her own undergarments!!  My mom sewed and knitted.
  My cousin, Sue Ritter Harvey, was truly my inspiration.  Sue was 15 or so years older than me, so by the time I was a teen she was well into her creative life.  She was a master knitter and designed many patterns.  She sewed like a dream, did beautiful mosaic work, even did furniture making and carpentry.  She also managed to look like a beautiful, tall, and sophisticated model while she was doing all these things.  I wanted to be just like her!  Well, it didn't work out quite that way.  However, if she were still alive today, I think she would have loved my quiltmaking skills.
   The younger generation has some creativity going on.  My second cousin, Ana Kristin Clerc, is a talented knitter among other things.  She designs knitwear and teaches classes.  Another cousin, Mason Rankin is a photographer of some note.  I believe his specialty is architectural photography.
   This brings us to my daughter, Susan.  She has an art degree and teaches the same at a local high school.  She is a portrait artist.  I am in awe of her work.  She can create incredible and realistic detail with just pencil and paper.  Susan is truly artistic, and this mother is proud.  This is one of her portraits called The Mustache Man.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Close-up of Lollypop Trees

This black thing in the picture is Kitty Boy.  He's cute--we say it everyday--and he thinks he needs to be where the action is taking place.  This green block is my favorite.  The colors are brighter and more beautiful in person!

Lollypop Trees Quilt

Lollypop Trees designed by Kim McLean was a quilt that was screaming at me to be made.  I had collected Kaffe Fassett fabrics for several years.  My daughter particularly likes his style, and she had requested a quilt made from my ever-growing stash.  Along the way, I think she even bought some to add to the pile.  I thought about a few other quilt patterns, but then I saw Lollypop Trees.  That did it!  These quilts that are somewhat daunting when I first begin, go so much better when they are the "screaming at me"  kind.  It is turned edge applique by machine.  I use light weight interfacing to turn the applique and then stitch in place with a machine blindhem stitch using fine silk thread.  It looks as close to hand needleturn applique as a machine can make it!  I love the technique and will be teaching it at the May meeting of Country Patches Quilt Guild.  I machine quilted it with my great Juki Tl98Q and my new favorite thread, Glide from FilTek.  It is very fine and also very strong.  I only remember the thread breaking twice in the whole marathon!  Remarkable!!  I quilted for the better part of 4 days--about 6 hours a day I estimate.  Yes, it was a LOT of work.  It was more fun than I can describe!!  I am very proud of the quilt and of my quilting. Susan loves it--mission accomplished!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mini Cherry Cheesecakes

The perfect treat just in time for Valentine's Day, Mini Cherry Cheesecakes.  As a matter of fact, we always made this at school for V Day!  I would try to be so careful to guard these little bites of deliciousness while they were refrigerated to be eaten the next day, but somebody always got past me to snitch a few!! Don't miss that. This is such a great recipe, so quick and easy.   They are perfect at Christmas.  They can be frozen if desired.  One note is that this is actually the original recipe; we made half this recipe at school.  Also, it is really not sweet enough to eat without the cherry pie filling or strawberry, or blueberry.  My opinion.

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese softened to room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
24 vanilla wafers
1 can cherry pie filling
 24 paper cupcake liners

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake in center of oven.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla until light and fluffy(don't skip the light and fluffy).  Line  muffin pans with paper baking liners.  Place a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each.  Fill cups about 2/3 full with the cream cheese mixture.  Bake at 375 degrees for 17 minutes.  Time this carefully and take them out!!  They will be dry if they are overbaked.  Top each with 1 tablespoon pie filling and chill.  Beware, they don't taste good when they are hot.  Let them chill before serving!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Garlic Cheese Biscuits

This one of my all-time favorite lab recipes.  These drop biscuits couldn't be any easier, and they taste divine.  

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  •  1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried chopped parsley flakes                    
  • 1/4 cup Melted butter with a dash of garlic powder for brushing the tops of baked biscuits                   
  • Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
    2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder, garlic powder, and parsley. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. You may use a pastry bender or a knife and fork to do this cutting in.   Make a well in the center of flour mixture. Add the milk and cheddar cheese; stir to combine. Do not overmix. Drop batter by spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.               
    3. Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned. While biscuits are baking mix melted butter and garlic powder.   Brush garlic butter over hot baked biscuits.  Yum!!

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Pizza Dough

    Pizza Dough

    A few notes on using yeast will be in order here.  You find the packages of yeast in a refrigerate d case in most instances for a good reason.  Yeast is a plant organism and can be killed with high temperatures.  Also, you will find a use-by date to which you should pay good attention..    Do not buy expired yeast!!  You can buy yeast in bulk , and thats what we do.  My husband bakes bread on a regular basis, so the bulk purchase makes sense. You get a whole lot for little more that you pay for just a few packets of yeast.   You can keep your extra yeast in the freezer to help keep it fresh. I have noticed over the last several years, "artisan"  breads are increasingly advertised.  I really noticed it when we visited  the Northwest  three years ago, and then again when we vacationed in Minnesota and Wisconsin..  Bread baking is, indeed, artsy and creative not to mention fun.   I have several good bread recipes that I plan to share.   The following recipe is the pizza dough we always made in class.  Before we ended block scheduling, we could make our crust and bake the pizza, eat it, and clean up all in one class period.   For the last few years, we baked the crust without the toppings until it was just "blonde."  We put the toppings on and baked the next day.  Works, but making the whole pizza in one session is definitely better.  Make it this weekend, and make your family very happy!!  By the way, this makes a large pizza. 

    2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
    1 tablespoon yeast ( one packet, aprrox.)
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup very warm water
    2 teaspoons oil

    Combine all dry ingredients and stir well.
    Add the warm water(not hot--if you want to get technical, 110 degrees is about right and oil to the dry mixture.  Stir well to make a soft dough.  If dough seems too dry, add a little more warm water.  Conversely, if dough needs more flour, add just enough to correct the stickiness.  Remember, excess flour will make the crust dry and hard to work. If you are not sure about the dough, sprinkle a little flour on your clean surface to see how it kneads.  That will tell you what you need to adjust.  You want a soft, silky feeling )dough.   This is easy and so worth the little work it takes!  Knead the dough for about 8 minutes until it is smooth and satiny.

    Let the dough rest for at least 10 minutes(20 minutes is pro!bably better)   with a clean towel or a piece of plastic wrap on top.  We always put a clean towel in the dryer at school to warm it up first and hasten this resting phase. THIS IS A CRUCIAL STEP IN THE PROCESS!  This allows the rising process to make the dough so much easier to work.  You can get the sauce and your toppings ready while this resting is taking place. 
    For the homemade sauce we always used at school, go to Mrs. Pickle's Marinara and you have it!  You can use spaghetti sauce or purchased pizza sauce, whatever works best for  you.  The marinara is hard to beat, if I say so myself and the price is right.  A can of tomato sauce is about a $.25.

    Now, you are ready  to put the pizza dough on the pan.  Lightly grease the pizza pan with oil or spray with non-stick spray.  I always just use my hands to flatten and stretch the dough a bit before I put it on the pizza pan.  Remember how I showed you to roll the pan around as you worked the dough into place on the pan kinda like the pan was a lazy susan?  It works! You do not need  to allow this dough to rise before you put on the toppings. It will rise as it bakes in a very hot oven.  Put on your sauce and whatever toppings you have chosen.  If you use pepperoni, you can put in the microwave for about 5 seconds and blot some of the excess fat with a paper towel.

    Your oven should be a very hot 450 degrees, preheated,  and you will want to put the pan on the lowest rack setting.  Check the doneness by using a metal spatula to lift up the edge of the crust .  You want the bottom of the crust to be brown.  A white bottom crust will mean the pizza crust will taste "doughy." Pizza is generally done in about 20 minutes.  This is another recipe that the kids can get into the action.  Let them help and make some happy memories.  The kitchen is the heart of the home!!  I believe it.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    Quilt Pin Basting Tip

    Went to school today to pin baste my Lollypop Trees quilt.  One thing that kept me teaching as long as I did was the great sewing lab and the big tables where we could easily pin baste our quilts.   The new teacher is a very nice person to allow me to come and use the tables.    The tip I want to give you today, I just dreamed up this very morning!  Lots of people probably know about this, beacause it is such a simple fix!  I always end up with sore fingers from the pinning.  I tried that pin basting notion years ago, but it just didn't seem be a natural fit for me.  Today, I sucessfully solved the sore finger problem with two flexible fabric bandages.   I just wrapped my index and middle fingers firmly with the bandages.  It was just enough extra padding and protection to make a painful chore a whole lot more bearable.   Try it if you have a similar problem.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    Sewing, sewing, sewing!!

    From all my posts so far, one might think that I am spending all my time in the kitchen.  Banish the thought!  I am just going to make an effort to put at least 5 recipes on per week to get some of my requests fulfilled.  What I really am doing with all mywonderful spare time is to sew, sew, sew.  I will show you my latest creation in just a few days.  Stunning, if I say so myself!!

    Spanish Rice

    Now for the Spanish Rice I have made for 40 years.  I don't even have to consult the recipe for this one!!  Let me say that I don't skimp when I buy rice.  Cheap rice just doesn't cut the mustard for me.  Mahatma long grain is what i normally buy, but if you can get your hands on some Basmati rice, go for it!  I think I have seen it at Walmart,but not sure.  I buy it at Sam's, and it comes in a BIG bag, not sure how many pounds.  I split it with friends it is such a big bag.  Worth it, I tell you!   It is aromatic and cooks with the biggest, fluffy grains.   Always remember that you cook regular  rice in a 2 to 1 ratio--2 parts liquid, 1 part rice.  Don't stir rice while it is cooking, and leave the lid on to keep the steam in and it's hard to go wrong .  One cup of raw rice will equal 3 cups cooked rice.   Now for the recipe:

    1 cup long grain rice
    2 tablespoons oil (olive oil is what I usually use)
    1 small onion, chopped
    2 tablespoons bell pepper, chopped
    1 toe of garlic , chopped or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    1- 8 ounce can tomato sauce
    1 1/2 cups chicken broth or beef broth
    dash red pepper
    salt to taste
    1 teaspoon cumin

    Rinse the rice in a collander.  Now, if you are in your twenties and are reading this, you probably call this a strainer, but it is a collander.  I have a small plastic one I got at the dollar store that has smallish holes in it.  Do this washing of the rice gently, because you don't want your rice washing down the sink! A strainer has wire mesh.  Certainly, if you have one of these, use it because the rice really would not wash out of it.  I just don't have one, and you might not either. This step removes some of the starch and just works nicely in this recipe.  Let the rice drain while you chop your vegetables.  Heat the oil in pan with a tight fitting lid that will accomodate about 3 quarts.  I acutally use an electric skillet when I make this.  Mine has a non-stick surface and works really well for this.   Put your drained rice, chopped onion and peppers in the hot oil  and stir until the rice begins to turn a pale golden color and the vegetables begin to soften--just takes a couple of mintues.  Add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil.  Now, turn the heat down to a low simmer, put on your tight fitting lid, and leave it alone for about 20 minutes.  At the end of this time, you should have delicious Spanish rice to go with your enchiladas!  Note that this recipe has a little more liquid that the 2 to 1 ratio.  This makes for a very moist dish.  I sometimes use canned chopped tomatoes or salsa in place of the tomato sauce.  Make this your own recipe!

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Monday Chicken Enchiladas

    Are you intimidated by rolling enchiladas?   No need to be, because this recipe solves some of the hassle.  I developed this recipe to use leftover baked chicken and gravy that we often have on Sunday, hence the name of Monday Chicken Enchiladas.  However, you can still make it if you have no leftovers.   We never made this in class, but we should have!   I made this today and measured as I went, so I can give it to you.  The chicken mixture is very moist, so the enchiladas are a snap to roll--none of that putting a little chicken down, then a little onion, then a little cheese.  You get the picture.  Very simplified, these enchiladas.  Also, a huge bonus is the fact that the tortillas don't have to be softened in hot oil.  You put 5 or 6 at a time in the microwave for about 40 seconds.  Magically, they are softened and ready to roll!

    I used about 3 cups cooked chicken, chopped (you could use canned chicken or rotisserie chicken--I prefer to cook my own)
    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1 small can chopped green chilies
    1 small onion, chopped
    1 teaspoon olive oil
    salt and pepper to taste
    dash garlic powder
    dash red pepper
    1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
    3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 can green enchilada sauce plus 1/2 cup sour cream.
    About 1 cup grated cheese
    18 corn tortillas

    Saute the chopped onion in a very small amt. of olive oil.  I indicated 1 tsp., but use your own judgement.
    Mix the cooked chicken that has been chopped with the soup, sour cream, green chilies, sauteed onion, and all spices. You might want to taste to see if your seasoning needs tweaking.  You are ready to roll!!  Grease a 9 by 13 inch pan with a little oil, butter, or spray. Mix the enchilada sauce with the additional half cup of sour cream.  I put just a bit of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of the pan.
    Heat a few of the tortillas in the Mwave for just long enough for them to soften.  I used about 2 heaping tablespoons of the chicken mixture per tortilla.  This goes fast!  I rolled 18 enchiladas and laid them in the pan with the seam side down.  Pour green enchilada sauce on top.  Bake uncovered in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until it is bubbly.  Toward the end of the baking time, I sprinkled the cup of cheese on top.

    We eat this once, and then eat it leftover for another meal.  They just get better!
    Another option for this recipe is to use cream cheese instead of the sour cream.  Made it once like this, loved it!!   I used 8 oz. cream cheese.  You could also use this same technique and make cheese enchiladas or use ground beef.  You be the chef and adjust all to your own taste! Just remember the tips of having the enchilada filling in a very creamy mixture and softening the tortillas in the Microwave.  Any recipe can be adapted to this time-saving, fat saving technique.  Next time I will give you my Mexican Rice recipe that is the perfect complement to the enchiladas.

    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    Mrs. Pickle's Marinara and notes on pretzel dough

    Now for the all important Mrs. Pickle's Marinara!   I do intend to site my sources for the recipes I add if I can remember.  The Pretzel recipe is a version of one I found long ago in a food lab manual.  It, of course, was tweaked to fit my food lab situation.  A few notes on the pretzel dough is in order.  You can refrigerate this dough and bake them the next day, if desired.  Allow it to come up to room temp and it will work much better than cold dough, however. You could probably freeze this dough for later use, but I never have.  This is a great recipe to get children involved.  They can knead the dough, and they absolutely love shaping pretzels.  Let then shape their names in pretzel dough.  Now, for the Marinara.  As the name would suggest, this is one that I made up.  We were tired of eating the pretzels with mustard!

    2  small cans (8 oz. each can)  tomato sauce
    2 teaspoons olive oil
    2 teaspoons sugar
    dash garlic powder
    dash pepper
    salt to taste
    1 teaspoon Italian seasonings

    Mix all in a small saucepan.  Simmer for a few minutes and enjoy.  Olive oil is the SECRET to the success of this concoction.  It will not taste like mine if you substitute.  All the other seasonings can be adjusted to your particular taste, more of this, less of that.   This is also the sauce we used on our pizzas.  Pizza dough recipe soon.

    Saturday, January 21, 2012


    Soft Pretzels

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees
    1. Put into a large bowl and stir until dissolved:
      1 ¼ teaspoon dry yeast
      ¾ cup very warm water
    2. Stir together in a small bowl
    1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

    1 teaspoon sugar

    ½ teaspoon salt

      1. Gradually add flour mix to liquid mixture stirring in just enough extra flour to correct the stickiness. The dough should be soft, but firm.
      2. Knead the dough for 5 full minutes. Remember, put your body into it so you don't wear yourself out!! My students know what I am talking about!
      3. Grease a cookie sheet OR line it with parchment paper. Divide dough into 10 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope shape that is about 10 inches.
      4. Loop each piece into a pretzel shape and place on baking sheet.
      5. Beat an egg. Brush each pretzel with the beaten egg. If you put coarse salt on the pretzels at this point, do so very sparingly!
      6. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

    If you want these to be softer, you can allow the dough to rise until doubled in size after the pretzels are shaped. We never took the time to do this in class. Also, this recipe can be doubled or tripled, even. ENJOY!

    I must say I am very technology challenged, to say the least. So what am I doing with a blog?!!! What I am is a passionate quilter and a lover of things domestic.  Recently retired as a teacher of Family and Consumer Sciences, my former students still want my help with recipes.  This blog will be the ideal place to put my lab recipes and also showcase my quilting.   Look for lab recipes and other tried and true recipes we like.  The first one I will post will be Pretzels with Marinara.