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.

Sausage Gravy and Biscuits

Bettie likes a lot of pepper on hers
 Bettie and Lyle are both fond of Sausage gravy and biscuits. Bettie just recently bought me the Southern Living Feel Good Food cookbook. One of her requests was this recipe for sausage and gravy over biscuits.
 I must confess folks, I used Bisquick for the biscuits which were just fine. The gravy was, according to both of them “Great.”  I used a roll Sausage and it was so lean that I didn’t have any drippings to stir the flour into. I used butter for the full amount and did leave out the mushrooms, the recipe calls for as neither of them wanted them.
  If you like this type of breakfast this recipe is worth trying.
Sausage Gravy and Biscuits
 ½ lb. Mild ground pork sausage
¼ cup drippings or butter to make this amount
1 4 ounce package fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
2 shallots (or ⅛ to ¼  cup onion) minced
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ cup chicken broth
¼ cup dry sherry or white wine (I used Sherry)
2 cups half and half
2 Tbsp. Chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground pepper

Cook sausage in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring for 3 to 5 minutes or until sausage crumbles and is no longer pink: drain, reserving ¼ cup drippings in skillet. (If necessary, add melted butter to equal ¼ cup.
 Sauté mushrooms if using, and shallots in hot drippings over medium-high heat 4 to 5 minutes or until golden. Whisk flour into mixture and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Add chicken broth and sherry and cook 2 minutes, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet. Stir in sausage.
 Gradually add half and half and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. 
Stir in parsley, sage, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Serve warm over baking powder biscuits.
*Use a dry Sherry not Creme or Sweet Sherry

Make it Yourself...Pasta Making Hints

Amish Noodle Day
We love homemade pasta. I have rolled these out by hand, like my mother-in-law - but I purchased the roller – cutter set for my Kitchenaid mixer, and they are great! Once I got a system down (where to hang the noodles, that I need a cutting board next to the mixer so I can flour my dough between rollings, etc. ) I actually enjoy making noodles for the freezer. So much so, I don’t buy noodles anymore. My husband likes to help if he’s home because it’s fun and he was raised on homemade noodles. They are much, much cheaper and better than purchased fresh or frozen noodles.  Fresh noodles cook quickly; if I freeze them, I don't thaw them before cooking.  They keep up to 6 weeks in the freezer - I never have them that long.
Watch a few U-Tube pasta making videos from Kitchenaid before you start. Then I’ll tell you what I didn’t learn from the videos. Leave yourself a couple of hours – they aren’t that much work, but there is some waiting time.
Farm eggs are not sized, so I have learned to put them in a measuring cup until I get the amount I want. Then I add flour accordingly. If I have ¾ cup, that’s good and I use about 11 ½ ounces flour. If I crack that last egg and have about 7/8 cup, I use 12 ounces of flour or so. Don’t leave out the salt – they taste yucky.
Your dough ball after you take it out of the mixer will be very stiff and hard, that’s OK, it will soften a lot as it rests. When you cut the dough into the first pieces, it shouldn’t have large holes in it – it’s not kneaded enough if it does – put it back and knead some more.
My Pasta drying before cutting on a clothes rack
I cut my dough into 5-6 pieces that are about 3 ounces each – in a recipe that’s about equal to 2 ounces of purchased dry noodles. I found that cutting the dough (I weigh it) before I let it rest, I can just start rolling after 20 minutes. This amount is right for the 2 of us, if I have company, I just cook more. This size of dough is a good size for getting into the pot without sticking together.
I purchased a $5 stainless flour shaker that is swell for flouring the dough between times through the rollers. If the dough is a little sticky, I lay it on my board, shake a little flour over it and it’s ready to roll.
After flattening the dough a little, I feed it through the rollers, flour one side, fold the unfloured side to the inside in thirds, then turn so the open end goes through the roller and roll again. I didn’t understand this fold and turn step at first, but having the folds on the sides as you feed them through helps keep your dough straight on the sides which helps when cutting it into noodles.
The first rolling and folding is also a kneading operation. Don’t skimp on it – you don’t want crumbly noodles – rolling helps align the gluten strands and makes better noodles.
You need to dry your pasta dough between rolling and cutting if you use a pasta machine of any kind.  I use either these drying racks or a clean clothes drying rack.
To get your noodles to run through the cutters successfully, you need to let them rest until the dough is almost dry to the touch, but not crackly. It takes a few times to get the feel of this, but the worst thing that happens is that you have to pull some of them apart by hand. If this happens, let the rest dry a little more. By the time you’ve made your first batch of noodles, you’ll have a pretty good feel for it.
Egg noodles actually freeze very well. Swirled into single-portion nests, you can freeze them separately and then bag them for long-term (at least a couple of months) freezing. When you want to cook your frozen pasta, it can go straight from the freezer into the boiling water, and you probably won’t notice a difference in cooking time.

Frozen pasta maintains its form, and its fresh flavor, better than the dried version
Next Wednesday, we'll give you our basic egg noodle recipe and methods.

Ham and Noodle Casserole

 I had this recipe and decided that supper tonight was the time to fix it. It is easy to get together and the only thing I saw in the recipe that needed to be clarified was not to over cook the noodles before putting the casserole in the oven. The 30 minutes it is in the oven will cook overcooked noodles to mush. Also, taste the sauce before you add all the horseradish. Horseradish is strong and your family might not want all of it. I used about ½ of the amount the recipe calls for and we felt that was enough for us. Every family varies though so taste as you go along.
Ham and Noodle Casserole
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
2 ½ cups to 3 cups milk (I put in the larger amount)
3 to 4 teaspoons prepared horseradish (I used 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
6 cups cooked wide egg noodles (about 10 to 12 ounces dry)
2 cups fully cooked ham
1 cup cubed cheddar cheese
½ cup soft bread crumbs toasted or cracker crumbs
 While noodles are cooking, in a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.
Stir in the flour, salt and pepper. Stir with whisk until smooth. Slowly add the milk. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add the horseradish and mustard; mix well. Stir in the noodles, ham and cheese.
 Pour into a greased 2 ½ quart baking dish. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with crumbs. Bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until heated through.

Back at the Ranch Casserole

 If you’ve resolved to eat more beans and vegetables this year, here’s a casserole that the whole family will like that is ready in less than 30 minutes, and only uses one pan and doesn’t heat up the oven.
Kids and adults both like the wagon-wheel pasta shapes, but elbows or medium shells cook in the same time.  Serve it with a green vegetable and/or a green salad.  If you have hearty eaters, add a little corn bread too.                  
Back at the Ranch Casserole
  3           Ounces  Pasta -- wagon wheels, dry
     ½       Cup  Onion -- chopped
     ¼       Cup  Green Pepper -- chopped
  2          Teaspoons  Olive Oil
  1           Teaspoon  Chili Powder
  14        Ounces  Canned Tomatoes -- cut up (or 1 pint)
     ½       Teaspoon  Garlic -- minced
  8          Ounces  Canned Kidney Beans -- rinsed and drained
  4          Ounces  Frozen Corn -- thawed
     ¼       Cup  Shredded Cheddar Cheese -- 1 ounce
In a medium saucepan, cook and stir onion and green pepper in oil over medium-high heat until vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the chili powder; cook and stir for 1 minute.
Stir in the undrained tomatoes, garlic and macaroni.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer,  covered, about 15 minutes or until desired consistency, stirring often.  During last 5 minutes, stir kidney beans and corn into tomato mixture, continue cooking 5 more minutes or until pasta is tender and sauce is thickened. 
To serve, sprinkle with shredded cheese.
Makes four 1-cup servings.
Cost:  $2.52 or 63¢ per serving

Per Serving: 232 Calories; 6g Fat (21.0% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 38g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 7mg Cholesterol; 394mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 2 Grain (Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1 Fat.

Family Favorites...Orange Meringue Pie

For a different pie, this recipe from the Cookbook Good Food on a Budget makes a good dessert. While I think I prefer Lemon, Sue, Bettie and Lyle really like this.
  It is not what I would call inexpensive unless you make it when oranges are in season, not like I do in the middle of winter, but it is such a sunny pie to make when it’s cold outside. It takes 6 medium oranges (usually) if you use navel oranges. Sometimes our store has Valencia oranges which are a juice orange and then it will take less.
  I do use the meringue recipe from yesterday's post instead of the meringue recipe listed here.  Notice that this is for a 8 inch pie not a 9 inch pie crust.
Orange Meringue Pie
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups orange juice
2 slightly beaten egg yolks
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon grated orange peel (optional)
1 baked 8 inch pie shell
2 egg whites
¼ cup sugar
In saucepan combine ¾ cup sugar, cornstarch, and slat. Slowly stir in juice. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat,. Cook 1 minute more; remove from heat. Stir small amount of hot mixture into yolks; return to hot mixture. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Stir in margarine and peel. Pour in to pie shell.
  Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Slowly beat in ¼ cup sugar to stiff peaks; spread over hot filling, sealing edges. Bake at 400° for 7 to 9 minutes. Cool on rack.

Meringue for Pie

 I have been making pies for better than 65 years and just now found a great recipe for Meringue. It was on the Cooking Club web site.
Isn't this a pretty piece of Pie
 Meringue pie topping, should be tall, golden brown and stay that way! (and I have made lots, different recipes, etc, trying for a topping that would stay soft and not fall when refrigerated or  become rubbery)  This did! Who knew that putting a cornstarch slurry in with the egg whites would make this happen. From now on, this is the recipe I will use. It is not a bit hard to make, the recipe did call for some lemon juice in the meringue as it was on a lemon pie. I chose to omit this as I wanted to see how it would work without for use on pies that are not citrus. I am sure it would enhance the flavor of a citrus pie, but it was fine without it. Next time I am going to add about a ½ teaspoon of vanilla. The cornstarch and water is added warm to the foamy egg whites. The cornstarch and water thickened quite a lot and I was worried about adding it, but it beat in just fine. I am guessing you would not want it too hot, just warm. Do be sure your pie filling is hot. Meringue needs to cook from the bottom also. A slow oven lets it cook as well as brown. Torches work to brown but they do not cook the meringue and so that type need to be eaten right away.
 If you are a fan of Meringue topped pies I hope you will try this.
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 egg whites
Dash salt
1/2 cup sugar
  To make meringue, in small saucepan, combine 1/3 cup water and 1 tablespoon cornstarch; mix well. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 30 seconds, stirring constantly, cover to keep warm.
 In large bowl, combine egg whites, and dash salt; beat at medium-low speed until egg whites are frothy. Increase speed to medium; beat until egg whites hold a soft peak. With mixer running, slowly add 1/2 cup sugar; spoon in warm cornstarch mixture. Increase speed to medium-high; beat until mixture is glossy and egg whites hold a stiff peak. 
 Spoon half of meringue evenly over hot filling, making sure meringue covers all filling and touches crust on all edges. Spoon remaining meringue onto pie and spread evenly. Add decorative swirls with back of spoon.
 Bake 15 to 18 minutes at 350°F or until meringue is dry to the touch and light brown. 

*This was just excellent the next day after being in the refrigerator overnight. I saved a piece to try it as that will usually toughen a meringue on a pie. Great recipe!

Make it Yourself... Chiffon and Parfait Pies

Two different types of Parfait and Chiffon Pies. One with ice cream and one with egg whites. Both are excellent and a change from fruit and custard pies. They were popular when Sue and I were young housewives. I made them often for entertaining.
Pineapple Parfait Pie
 Parfait Pies -The Better Homes and Gardens Golden Treasury cookbook has this to say about Parfait pies. "A trendsetter of the 50’s they originated in the US as a promotion by a flour miller and a manufacturer of fruit flavored gelatins". Single crust concoctions with fruit, gelatin, and ice cream filling, these pies were very popular because they were so easy to make and there were so many combinations of fruit, ice cream and gelatins to try”.
The term Parfait means perfect. So fitting for this type of pie.
  Use a good ice cream when making this. It is the main ingredient so you want it to be a good quality. The cheaper ice creams have a lot of air whipped into them, and will not work as well. How about trying raspberries, vanilla ice cream and raspberry jello or Orange jello, orange juice for the liquid, vanilla ice cream and adding some flaked coconut. Use your own favorite flavors just use the same quantities.
 Pineapple Parfait Pie
1 8 -¼ can crushed pineapple
1 3 ounce package lemon flavored gelatin
1 pint vanilla ice cream
1 baked 8 inch pie shell
Whipped cream
  Drain pineapple; reserve syrup. Add water to syrup to make 1 ¼ cups. Combine gelatin and syrup; bring to boiling. Stir till gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add ice cream by spoonfuls to hot liquid; stir till melted. Chill till partially set; fold in pineapple. Pile filling into pastry shell. Chill till firm. Garnish with whipped cream and cherry if desired.

 Chiffon Type Pies were quite popular in the 40’s. This recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Golden Treasury of Cooking is that type of pie. I made these often when I was first married and we entertained a lot. Now days, I still make them, but just not as often.
  They call for egg whites beaten stiff and folded in.
Citrus Pie
½ cup sugar
Citrus Pie
1 teaspoon (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
Dash salt
4 egg yolks
½ teaspoon grated lemon peel, set aside
⅓ cup lemon juice (I used Meyer Lemons)
½ teaspoon grated orange peel, set aside
3 Tablespoons orange juice
2 Tablespoons water
4 egg whites
¼ cup sugar
1 baked and cooled 8 to 9 inch pie crust
In saucepan combine the ½ cup sugar, gelatin, and salt. Beat egg yolks, lemon and orange juice and water together. Stir into gelatin mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat just until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add saved grated peel.
Cool, stirring occasionally until partially set. 
 Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, slowly add the ¼ cup sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Fold in gelatin mixture. It helps to lighten the egg whites with a small amount of the gelatin mixture before folding all of it in.
  Put into pie shell and chill till firm. Trim with shredded orange peel if desired.