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...Old Fashioned Poppy Seed Tea Bread

We like Poppy Seed Bread, and I didn’t really have a good recipe for it, so I tried this one from “Land O Lakes Treasury of Country Heritage Meals & Menus".  This recipe was a real hit with my husband – moist, tender and very, very good.
 I added the half-recipe version (you can use 2 small eggs); or split your large recipe between two pans (like 8 ½ x 4 ½” loaf pans) and bake for less time if you wish.  You can have a bread to keep and one to share.   This freezes well.             
                    Old Fashioned Poppy Seed Tea Bread
6 Cup Bundt Pan
12 Cup Bundt Pan
    ¾      cup  Sugar  (5 ¼  ounces)
  1 ½     Cups  Sugar  (10 ½ ounces)
     ½     cup  Butter -- softened
  1         Cup  Butter -- softened
  1 ½     large  Eggs (or 2 medium eggs)
  3         Large  Eggs
     ¾     teaspoon  Almond Extract
  1 ½     Teaspoons  Almond Extract
     ¾     teaspoon  Vanilla Extract
  1 ½     Teaspoons  Vanilla Extract
  1 ½     cups  Flour, All-purpose (6 ¾ ounces)
  3         Cups  Flour, All-purpose  (13 ½ ounces)
     ¾     cup  Milk
  1 ½     Cups  Milk
     ½     tablespoon  Poppy Seeds
  1         Tablespoon  Poppy Seeds
     ¾     teaspoon  Baking Powder
  1 ½     Teaspoons  Baking Powder
     ¾     teaspoon  Salt
  1 ½     Teaspoons  Salt
             Powdered Sugar
             Powdered Sugar
Bake 35-45 minutes
Bake 50-65 minutes
Heat oven to 350°.  In large mixer bowl, combine sugar, butter, eggs, extracts.  Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
Add all remaining ingredients except powdered sugar.  Continue beating until well mixed (1 to 2 minutes).
Pour into greased and floured 12 cup Bundt pan or 10 inch tube pan.  Bake for 50 to 65 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. 
*(If using a half-recipe, use a 6 cup Bundt or loaf pan and bake for 35-45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.)
Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan.  Cool completely; sprinkle with powdered sugar.
16 Servings

Oven Fried Chicken

Both Sue and I recommend the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbooks. They are good for the beginning cook and the experienced cook. The Cooking for Today Chicken Cookbook has a range of chicken recipes from simple to a little more complex. This recipe for Oven Fried Chicken caught my eye as it used cracker crumbs for the breading. I have breaded fried fish often with cracker crumbs but not chicken. 
 We all enjoyed it and it was simple to do and once it is in the oven you are free to do other things. This is well worth your time to try it.
Oven Fried Chicken
1 beaten egg
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup finely crushed saltine crackers (about 28)
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
½ teaspoon paprika
⅛ teaspoon pepper
2 ½ to 3 pounds meaty chicken pieces (breasts, thighs and drumsticks
2 tablespoons butter melted
 In a small bowl combine the egg and milk.  In a shallow dish combine the crackers, thyme, paprika and pepper. Set aside
 Skin chicken, Dip chicken pieces on at a time, in egg mixture, then roll in cracker crumbs mixture.
 In a greased 15x10x1 inch or 13x9x2 inch baking pan arrange chicken so the pieces don’t touch. Drizzle chicken pieces with the melted butter.
 Bake in a 375°F oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until the chicken pieces are tender and no longer pink. Do not turn the chicken pieces while baking. Makes 6 servings

Per Serving: 253 calories, 24 g. Protein, 10 g. Carbohydrate, 12 g. Fat, 296 mg. sodium

Make It Yourself...Spam Macaroni Casserole

This recipe is one I used to make regularly when we had a kid at home. It came with a set of the cards from the 1971 Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library. You bought the box and a few sets of the recipe cards and then additional cards were sent every month or so. Of course, most of the recipes used a variety of convenience foods, really beginning to be popular in the early ‘70’s. I picked them up cheaply at a yard sale a year or two after they came out and this was one of the few recipes I kept and used.  I also make it with ham instead.  Serve it with a green vegetable or salad and fruit for dessert.
It has been one of the most popular recipes we have posted on the blog...folks remember their Mom making it back in the 70's and have lost the recipe.
I made it in my favorite 1970's casserole dish, a covered French Arcopal (the European "Pyrex") casserole I bought from my German landlady's kitchenware shop and brought back with us to the states.  I use it often and would hate to have anything happen to it.
Spam Macaroni Casserole
4 Ounces Macaroni -- uncooked
1/2 Cup Onion -- chopped
1/3 Cup Green Pepper -- chopped
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Can Spam -- cubed
1/2 Cup Catsup
1/3 Cup Cheddar Cheese -- shredded
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
Cook macaroni; drain. Cook onion and green pepper in butter until tender. (This can be done in the same pan).  Stir in remaining ingredients; pour into an ungreased 1 1/2 quart casserole, bake, COVERED, 30 minutes at 400°.
6 Main Dish Servings
Cost 2010: $4.90 or 82¢ per serving

Mushroom Barley Soup

It seems like I’ve had this recipe in my “try-it” file forever…it didn’t even have an indication of where I got it.  But I should have made it sooner…it’s wonderfully flavorful.   I knew I was going to be busy around lunchtime, so I made it through step 5; refrigerated the components, and right before our meal I added the mushroom mixture to the soup and reheated them together. 
When we got home before lunch you could smell the deglazed mushrooms and onions, and we were eager to get this to the table.  It tasted as good as it smelled.  
I used Lea and Perrins Chicken Marinade that they used to sell as “white” Worcestershire; it adds just the right flavor.   If you have a mixture of “fancy” mushrooms; this would be a good place to use them.  If you don’t have sherry, use a little white wine or balsamic or wine vinegar to deglaze the pan.    Use rice if you don’t have or don’t like barley, but you’re missing something if you don’t use barley.        
Mushroom Barley Soup
  8        ounces  Fresh Mushrooms -- sliced
     1/3 Cup  Onion -- chopped
  4        tablespoons  Butter -- divided
  2        tablespoons  Flour, All-purpose
  1        cup  Skim Milk
  2        cups  Chicken Broth (I used a pint of home-canned)
     1/4 Cup  Barley -- quick cooking
  2        tablespoons  Dried Parsley
  1        tablespoon  Sherry
  1        teaspoon  Worcestershire Sauce

1.    1.        In a saucepan or Dutch oven, cook mushrooms and onion in half of butter until onion is tender.  Deglaze pan with sherry.
2.      With slotted spoon remove mushrooms and onion; set aside. Add remaining butter to pan.
3.      Stir flour into melted butter; continue cooking over medium heat until flour is browned, stirring constantly.
4.      Gradually stir in milk and chicken broth; add remaining ingredients.
5.      Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until barley is tender, stirring occasionally. 
6.      Add mushroom and onion mixture, heat additional 5 minutes.
7.      Add additional water or milk if soup becomes too thick upon standing.
4 Servings
$2.47 or 62¢ per serving
Yield:  "4 Cups"

Per Serving: 224 Calories; 13g Fat (51.4% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 19g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 32mg Cholesterol; 550mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1 Grain (Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1/2 Non-Fat Milk; 2 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Shrimp and Tortellini

I had all the ingredients, and when I saw this recipe I had to try it.   It needed a little more flavor; I added some fresh ginger and some fresh thyme from the garden.  Served with a slice of buttered walnut bread and fruit for dessert it was a quick, light lunch.                    
Shrimp and Tortellini
  9         Ounces  Cheese Tortellini
  1         Cup  Green Peas, Frozen
  1         Tablespoon  Olive Oil -- divided
  1         Tablespoon  Butter
  16       Ounces  Medium Shrimp -- peeled and deveined
  2         Teaspoons  Garlic -- minced
  1         Teaspoon  Fresh Ginger -- finely grated
     ¼      Teaspoon  Salt
  2          Sprigs  Fresh Thyme
     ¼       Teaspoon  Pepper
Cook tortellini according to package instructions, drain over peas in a colander.
Drain shrimp well, and pat dry.  In a nonstick skillet or wok, stir-fry shrimp in 1 Tbsp. olive oil 2-3 minutes, add garlic and ginger and cook 1-2 minutes more.
Add drained peas and tortellini to skillet; stir in salt, thyme and pepper and butter; toss to coat.
Serves 4
 Adapted from "Taste of Home"

Per Serving: 380 Calories; 12g Fat (28.8% calories from fat); 34g Protein; 32g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 224mg Cholesterol; 618mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 4 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat.

Sunday in Iowa

These goats are pastured on a corner of 540th Street and Highway 1 near the Stringtown Market north of Kalona, Iowa

Family Favorites Exquisite Almond Truffles

   At least once a year I make Truffles for a young friend of ours. He is a chocolate lover except he really likes milk chocolate better. As Almond is also a favorite of his, this recipe seemed to hit on all counts. Almonds, Amaretto (which is almond flavored) and chocolate, has to be a winner. The recipe from 1989 says that it lets you turn out professional looking truffles time after time. Well, I can’t say that was true, but they were very good tasting.  Quite simple to make, they are more time consuming than hard to make. Even then the time is mostly waiting time. 
The recipe calls for Cream of Coconut or replace liquid with whipping cream (½ cup altogether) and add about a scant ½ teaspoon of coconut flavoring. You can taste the mixture for the amount you want to add. If you like truffles, this is a good recipe to make.
  Exquisite Almond Truffles
Prep: 2 hr.  Freeze: 2 hr. + 15 + 15 min.
20 ounces white baking pieces (go for the best white chocolate you can find, I used Lindt) divided
¼ cup whipping cream
¼ cup cream of coconut 
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted and chopped
2 Tbsp. Amaretto or use almond flavoring and 2 additional tablespoons cream
18 oz. Semisweet chocolate pieces (3 cups) (I used milk chocolate)
3 Tbsp. shortening
2 Tbsp. shortening 
  For filling, in a medium saucepan, combine 16 ounces of the white baking pieces, the whipping cream, and cream of coconut; heat and stir over low heat just until baking pieces are melted. Remove from heat. Stir in almonds and amaretto. Cover; freeze about 2 hours or until firm. 
  Divide filling into 48 pieces; shape each portion into a ball. Place balls on baking sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes.
  Meanwhile, in a 4 cup glass measure, combine the 3 TBs shortening and the semisweet chocolate pieces, In a large glass bowl, pour very warm tap water to a depth of 1 inch. Place measure with semisweet chocolate inside large bowl. (water should cover bottom half of the glass measure.) Stir semisweet chocolate constantly with a rubber spatula until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. This takes about 20 minutes; be patient. If water cools, discard cool water; add warm water and return glass measure to bowl. 
  Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Using a fork, dip frozen balls, one at a time, into melted semisweet chocolate place on baking sheet.  Try using a wooden skewer instead of a fork. Freeze for 15 minutes.
  Meanwhile melt remaining 4 ounces white baking pieces and the remaining shortening over hot water. Drizzle over truffles  Chill a few minutes until set. Makes 48

Baked Chicken Nuggets

 As I had a boneless skinless chicken breast I wanted to use, I altered a recipe to suit our tastes and made baked chicken nuggets for supper. I have tried this before and was not satisfied with the results, so this recipe was going to be a second attempt at it,
 They were quite good and the secret I think is to brown them in a small amount of hot oil (1 Tablespoon) before baking. They were crisp on the outside and tender in the center. 
 You can vary the herbs and spices to suit your families tastes, but I will give you what I used. I did not use fresh herbs though I had the thyme, I think this is one case where the dried work better. I use King Arthur all purpose Gluten Free flour, but regular flour is fine and might work better, certainly cheaper. One chicken breast, 1 ¼ lb., was more than enough for the three of us. Use the dipping sauce of your choice, I like the homemade BBQ sauce I make and Bettie likes sweet and sour sauce. Lyle just likes them plain. 
Baked Chicken Nuggets
¾ cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon ground dry mustard
1 teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 small egg
2 tablespoons milk
  Cut chicken breast in strips and than in chunks. Keep close as possible to the same size. 
 Stir flour and seasonings together in a shallow plate, pie plate works well. In another shallow plate beat egg with a fork and add the milk. Dredge the chicken pieces in the egg, then the flour. If desired you can repeat this step. I tried it both ways and they were both good. Let them set a few minutes and then brown in the oil in a large skillet. When brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes place on a baking sheet and bake in a 400° oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until no longer pink inside,