Who can find a worthy woman? For her price is far above rubies.......She looks well to the ways of her household. Proverbs 31:10-27
We're sisters who like to cook and bake, talk cooking and baking, and share recipes and kitchen wisdom.

Family Favorites - Creamy Thousand Island Dressing

My favorite dressing for salads is Thousand Island. The bottled dressings you can buy just are not as good as I remember from years ago. I am always on the lookout for a recipe and have tried several. 
  This recipe from The Farm Journal Country Cookbook looked closer to what I remembered eating and so decided to try it. I must say, this is marvelous! Just what I remembered eating, easy to make and really, really good.
  My daughter and grandson were here when I was making it, and I had a hard time stopping them from sampling it before I could get it in the refrigerator to chill. They are not fans of Thousand Island so I was really surprised at their reaction. 
  The dressing is fairly thick and we thought it would make a great dip. Tried it with celery and chips and I think that I will have to start keeping this on hand. This is so good and so easy, that I hope some of you will try it for yourselves.
Creamy Thousand Island Dressing
½ cup salad dressing (I used Miracle Whip)
½ cup chili sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Dash of Tabasco sauce
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon paprika (I omitted this)
2 tablespoons chopped celery
2 tablespoons pickle relish ( I used sweet)
2 tablespoons chopped pimiento olives
1 teaspoon minced onion
1 hard cooked egg chopped
½ cup dairy sour cream
   Combine salad dressing, chili sauce Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt and paprika in 1 qt. Bowl. Stir in celery, relish, olives, onion and egg; mix well. Fold in sour cream. Chill. Makes one pint. Will keep for one month if tightly capped and refrigerated.

Dijon Mustard

 Dijon Mustard will always be in my mind one of the luxury mustards. Maybe because we always had the bright yellow kind? I now buy both and use them equally, but when I saw this recipe I thought I would have to try it at least once. 
 It is very easy to make and you can vary the liquid used. I have ground mustard on hand as I use it in meatloaf and other recipes but had to buy white wine. What I ended up buying was a four pack of white wine so that I could open one bottle and not have a lot left over. I can’t see wasting champagne on mustard though that is what is in Dijon Mustard from France. 
 This will not need a water bath as it doesn’t make a lot at one time. One jar for you and two jars to give away. This gives you the chance to use some attractive jars you might have been saving. I put it in hot sterilized ½ pint jars. 
 The only warning here is not to lean over the wine and onion, garlic mixture when it is cooking. It really does a number on your eyes.
 The result was a creamy smooth mustard with a bite, no preservatives in it, and not a lot of work. 
Dijon Mustard
Yields about 2 half pints.
4 ounces dry powdered mustard (I used Pensey Spice)
½ cup water
2 cups white wine or flat champagne
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
 Have hot, sterilized jars and lids ready. In bowl, stir together mustard and water until smooth. Set aside.
 In a bowl stir dry mustard and water together until smooth. Set aside. 
 In a small nonreactive saucepan, combine wine, onion and garlic. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in the sugar and salt. Simmer, uncovered, stirring often, until reduced by half, (one cup of liquid), about 20 minutes.
 Pour wine mixture through a mesh sieve into the mustard and water mixture and stir until combined. Transfer to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring until mixture is thickened, about another 20 minutes.
 Spoon mustard into prepared jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust headspace if necessary. Wipe rims clean and seal tightly with lids. Store in refrigerator for up to one year. 
 For best flavor, let the mustard stand for 2 weeks before using.

Make It Yourself...Salad Dressings

There is a lot of supermarket shelf space devoted to prepared salad dressings.  But you’re paying big bucks for those little bottles, and they are full of additives and preservatives.  Even a famous-name “olive oil” dressing’s first ingredient was canola or soybean oil, with olive oil waaaay down the ingredient list, which was extensive, and full of preservatives.
When my husband’s medication eliminated soybean and canola oil from his diet, I simply had to start making our own, and was amazed at how much cheaper and more delicious homemade ones are!  I make 8-12 ounce recipes, and they last us several days, and we eat salad every day.
Making your own dressing can save money, as well as refrigerator and pantry space, since you won't need to buy or store all those bottles of prepared dressing. And you probably already own everything you need to make your own homemade versions.
Homemade salad dressings don't require special equipment; a mixing bowl and a whisk are ideal for most dressings.
You can also vigorously shake the ingredients for a dressing in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. This is convenient for many vinaigrettes, but they won't emulsify as well as one whisked in a bowl. The jar is not recommended for most creamy dressings.
A blender or food processor is useful for creamy dressings that are smooth rather than chunky. They also work for vinaigrettes. For the best emulsion; keep the motor running while adding the oil in a slow, steady stream.  Most machines have small holes in the lid just for this purpose.
Grandma made a lot of her own cooked salad dressings too… as an inexpensive substitute for mayonnaise, for Cole slaw, and for special fruit salads.  Miracle Whip is just a commercial version of Grandma’s “cooked” or “boiled” dressing.  A simple double boiler, a heavy-bottomed saucepan or a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan and a whisk are all you need for cooked dressings.
After a year or so of entirely homemade salad dressings, I bought a well-known brand for a blog recipe, and neither my husband nor I liked it anymore…it simply didn’t taste fresh, instead it tasted of chemicals to us.  We threw it away, as neither of us wanted to eat it.
Here’s the simplest dressing I know…one my dad and Bonnie’s mom made for new lettuce every year.  It’s excellent with any simple salad.
Cream Dressing
¼ cup sour cream or heavy cream
¼ cup Sugar or Splenda
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons poppy seeds (optional)
2 tablespoons minced onion or chives (optional)
  • Stir dressing together until sugar or Splenda dissolves and dressing is creamy. Pour over salad just before serving.

2015 Cost: 30¢ for about ¾ cup

Cornish Hens with Lemon and Thyme

 Cornish Hens are a favorite of ours. I usually fix them around the Holidays and stuff them with cornbread dressing, however, they were on sale this week and I decided that they would make a spring meal using Martha Stewart’s recipe (directions).
 I do think lemon for me is something I look at fixing in the spring. Maybe the yellow color? I had some thyme growing so this was easy to get together. Served with a baked potato and salad this is an easy meal with little cleanup. 
 I plan on a half of a Cornish hen apiece. There is some waste with the back bone having very little meat on it, but it does lend flavor to broth or gravy. Save the bones in a freezer bag in your freezer till you have enough for stock.
 We really liked the lemon and thyme flavor with the chicken and they were so tender. Made a great meal. This is not quite Martha’s recipe but I used her directions and it worked perfectly. 
Cornish Hen with Lemon and Thyme
2 Cornish hens (about 20 ounces ) Bring to room temperature and pat dry
1 bunch fresh thyme (If you only have dry use that)
2 small lemons, halved
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and Pepper
 Preheat oven to 450°F. Place hens in a shallow roasting pan, breast sides up. Place 2 Thyme sprigs and 1 lemon half in cavity of each hen. Squeeze remaining lemon halves over hens. Rub butter all over hens. Salt and pepper generously.
 Roast hens, rotating pan halfway through, until skin turns brown and an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 180° 45 to 50 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes. Cut hens in half lengthwise. Garnish with thyme and lemon wedges.

Bonnie's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Bonnie’s son-in-law requested this old-fashioned pie; she always has rhubarb in the Spring, and after searching some old cookbooks, we found this recipe in my mother’s 1946 Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book. 
It was a winner, according to tasters at the family reunion-graduation party at their homestead this weekend.  I actually don’t like rhubarb, but this pie was delicious!  Bonnie, who's been married 46 years, is an expert baker.  Perfectly set, with wonderful, flaky pastry, everyone who tried this pie liked it.                       
                          Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
  1            Cup  Sugar
     1/4     Teaspoon  Salt
     1/4     Teaspoon  Nutmeg
  2            Tablespoons  Quick-cooking Tapioca
     1/4     Cup  Orange Juice
  3            Cups  Rhubarb -- cut
  1            Cup  Sliced Strawberries
  1            Tablespoon  Butter
  1            Recipe  Double Pie Crust
Combine sugar, salt, nutmeg, tapioca, orange juice and rhubarb; place in 9" pie pan lined with pastry.
Top with strawberries and dot with butter.
Add top crust and finish as desired.
Bake in hot oven 450° for 10 minutes; then in moderate oven 350° for 30 minutes.

Some pie crust recipes:
Sue and Bonnie's favorite lard pie crust
Myrna's favorite pie crust
Two good butter pie crusts

Sunday in Iowa...

 Chives survive the winter well and give you one of the first tastes of Spring. 
Remember, you can eat the blossoms as well as admire them.

Family Favorites Pecan Rice with Sherry

  One of the recipes I like from the Byerly’s cookbook is for Pecan Rice. This recipe takes it a little over the top with Sherry in the cooking liquid and orange peel added with the toasted pecans. Gives a great taste to the rice. Also toasting the pecans will give them a good flavor. This time I used fresh mushrooms, but if you do not have them available the canned or dry will work.
  I do recommend that you use the Sherry if possible. The small amount is enough to give it flavor and the alcohol will cook out in the cooking time for the rice.
Served it with rotisserie chicken from the store and this made a very simple quick to get meal. The recipe recommends serving it with Cornish game hens or other poultry.
Pecan Rice with Sherry
1 (14 ½ ounce) can chicken broth 
1 tablespoon dry sherry
Water to make 2 cups
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
½ cup sliced green onions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  In medium saucepan, combine chicken broth, sherry and enough water to equal 2 cups total liquid; bring to a boil. Stir in rice, reduce heat to simmer.
Cook covered until tender (15 to 20 minutes). Drain any remaining liquid. In small skillet while rice is cooking, melt butter; saute mushrooms, green onions and garlic until tender (about 3 minutes). Combine with rice. At this point you can cover dish and refrigerate it till you are ready to eat. Heat in microwave until heated through (6 to 7 minutes), stirring twice. Stir in pecans and orange peel. 
  To serve at once, stir in pecans and orange peel at the last. This makes 8 (½ cup) servings. It reheats and freezes well so you can make the entire recipe and still use it for a smaller family.

Easy Spaghetti Carbonara

 We all like ham sliced and cold so needed something lighter to serve with it on this nice spring day. This very plain version of Spaghetti Carbonara I had seen on a Chow web site and saved seemed like the thing to fix. The original said that all you needed was a couple of eggs, a pound of spaghetti, a couple cloves of garlic, and olive oil. Scrape off the mold from the Parmesan hidden in the back of the fridge—you'll need that too. It tastes better than it sounds.  We were pleased with the taste and the ease of preparation. I did cook the peas separate as not all of us eat peas. The photo does not have the ham in it, but it was good also. When I can get them I buy Frick hams from Missouri. Our local HyVee store has them once in awhile. Very good flavor and I buy the smaller pieces. If you want a good, plain, spaghetti dish this was excellent. 
Spaghetti Carbonara
1 pound pasta (I used Angel Hair)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Fresh, grated your self is so much better)
2 large eggs, beaten till light (use a whisk if you have one)
Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the pasta. Five minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the oil to a deep heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Add the garlic and sauté for a few minutes.
Turn off the heat under the skillet. Drain the cooked pasta, reserving a half cup of the starchy water. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss with the garlic. Add half of the cheese and toss for 1 minute. Add the eggs and toss for 1 minute. Add the remaining cheese and toss again for about 2 minutes. Then add a bit of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up to the desired consistency (I usually add about 1/4 cup). Serve immediately.