Thursday, March 22, 2018

Tomato Kale Soup

Once again...trying to eat healthy and try something new.  I bought kale this week, and then didn’t know what to do with it.  I found this recipe, Tomato-kale-quinoa Soup/, and modified it a bit to use ingredients that I had in the house.  I thought it was very good.

1 28 oz can no salt added crushed tomatoes
1 16 oz can chili flavored kidney beans
3 cups water
3 beef bouillon cubes
1 medium onion chopped
Oregano, rosemary, garlic, black pepper, and thyme (I didn’t measure, just put some of each in)
1/2 of a 5 oz container of baby kale, large stems removed and chopped

(I meant to add the bay leaves, but forgot, and I couldn’t find any quinoa, even though I know there is some in the house.  I didn’t miss either item though)

I put everything in at once, and cooked this in my crockpot on high for about four hours,  I sprinkled some shredded Parmesan on my serving.

If you are following Weight Watchers this is probably one point per serving without the cheese.  (I am assuming that the chili sauce on the beans counts for some points.  I don’t think any of the other ingredients have points with the current smart points system.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Cait’s Messy Bun Hat

Cait’s Messy Bun Hat

This is a fairly simple pattern and an advanced beginner could probably make it in an hour or two.  Don’t be intimidated by the front post stitches.  There are a lot of good online instructions that can teach you how to do them. You can even leave them out, although you won’t get the ribbed look to the cuff if you do that.  This pattern can also be used to make a hat without the hole in the top.  Instructions for that appear at the bottom of the pattern.

Materials needed:
WW yarn
Size H crochet hook 
Covered rubber band (the kind you would use for a ponytail on your hair)

Stitches Used:
Sc - single crochet
Ss-slip stitch
Dc-double crochet
HDC-half double crochet 
FPHDC-front post half double crochet 

This hat has a lot of stretch.  Mine had a 20 inch circumference around the cuff, and was between 7.5 and 8 inches high, measuring from the bottom of the cuff to the rubber band.  It stretched to easily fit my head, even though I actually designed it for my young teen great niece.

It is reversible, the cuff looks ribbed on one side and has horizontal ridges on the other side.

I crochet loosely, but you can add extra increase rows if you crochet tightly.  Likewise, you can easily add length if needed. 

Except for round 1, the beginning ch 2 counts as a double crochet. You can use a ch 3 here if you prefer.  When I use a ch 3, I get a gap. 

This hat is made in rounds with the first round crocheted onto the rubber band.  This allows the top of the hat to fit snuggly around the hair.

The ch 2 at the beginning of rounds counts as a stitch, unless stated otherwise.

Round 1:  attach yarn to rubber band with a slip knot, chain 2, (in this round the ch 2 does not count as a stitch), make 24 double crochet stitches worked into the rubber band. Join with ss to first dc.  (24 stitches)

Round 2:  chain 2, ( counts as first dc. ( you may prefer to chain 3 rather than 2), 2 dc in next stitch, *1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch*, repeat the directions between the *’s to the end of the round, join to top of beginning ch 2 with a ss. (You have added an extra stitch in every other stitch for a total of 36 stitches) 

If you want your hat to be a little larger, add an increase round here by adding a stitch in every third stitch. (You would end up with 48 stitches). The rest of the stitch counts will be different if you choose this option). If you think you need still another increase row, increase in every fourth stitch around. You would then have 60 stitches before you start round 3.

Round 3:  ch 2, 2 dc in same stitch, skip one stitch, *3 dc in next stitch, skip one stitch*, repeat the directions between the *’s around, join with ss into top of beginning ch 2. (You are placing three dc in every other stitch. (52 dc)

Rounds 4-9:    Ss to Center dc of first dc group. Ch 2, 2 dc in same stitch, 3 dc in the center stitch of each dc group from the previous row, join to top of beginning ch 2 with a ss. (52 stitches)

(If you want more length do more repeats of rounds 4 to 9)

Round 10:  ch 2, HDC in each stitch around, join around post of beginning ch 2. (52 stitches)

Round 11 to 13:   Ch 3, FPHDC around the post of each stitch in the previous row.  Join to top of the beginning ch 3 with a ss.

(If you want a wider cuff, add more of these rounds.  If you hate FP stitches, just do regular HDC.  Crocheting around the post gives the cuff a ribbed look.)

Row 14: ch 1, turn. ( this is the only time in this pattern that you turn. You will work this round in the opposite direction of the other rounds and you will likely wish to turn the hat inside out to do this one.) 
Sc in same stitch as the joining stitch and sc around. Join with ss in the first sc. 

Finish off by weaving in yarn ends.

If you wish to use this pattern to make a regular hat, you can also do that.  You won’t need the covered rubber band.

To start, chain 4, join with a ss to make a ring.  Ch 2 (doesn’t count as a stitch here, but does in the next row.), and work 12 into the ring. Join with a ss into top of beginning dc.  (12 dc) 
Second round, chain 2, dc in same stitch, 2 dc in each stitch around, join with a slip stitch into the beginning ch 2. (24 dc)
Proceed with messy bun hat pattern, starting with round 2.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Favorite Banana Bread Recipe

This recipe comes from a community cookbook that I received for a wedding shower gift back in 1979. The covers are missing and the book itself is held together with a rubber band.  It's only a matter of time before I lose the page with this recipe on it, as it's already ripped and stained,  so I thought I would save it here.

I freeze bananas that are too ripe to eat and often use those in this recipe. I find that when I thaw frozen bananas, there can be a lot of watery liquid on the package. I drain most of that off, and sometimes I also decrease the milk in the recipe by an ounce or so.


1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
3 medium bananas, mashed
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp. baking powder. (Yes, that really is a tablespoon)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts  (optional, I never add these)

Preheat oven to 350.  Cream margarine, beat in egg and bananas, add milk, then sugar.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt together, add to ingredients in mixing bowl.  Combine, then stir in nuts.  Bake in greased loaf pan for 1 hour.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Summer Garden Veggie Medley

Summer Garden Veggie Medley

(No amounts given, just use amount needed for your family)

Yellow summer squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
Roma tomatoes, cored and cut in chunks
Red, yellow or green pepper, (or some of each), cut in chunks
Yellow or white onion, cut in chunks
Shredded fresh Parmesan cheese, (not the kind that comes in those plastic shakers)
Olive oil cooking spray, (or small amount of any oil)
Seasoned salt, oregano, black pepper


Grease or spray bottom of baking pan, (I used a 9x9 metal cake pan).  Put a layer of squash in the bottom and season lightly with spices.  Sprinkle with cheese. Top with a layer of each of the other vegetables, again season with spices and top with more cheese.
Bake at 400 degrees until veggies are heated through, cheese is melted and vegetables are done to your preference. 
I baked mine for 45 minutes and they were very tender, which is what I was aiming for.

You could easily substitute other kinds of squash.

Thursday, May 4, 2017


I know, you are asking "what on earth is Hutspot"?  It is a very simple Dutch dish, inexpensive, easy to make, tasty and filling.  Simply put, it's Dutch comfort food.  It doesn't look like much, but it is tasty.

I am of Dutch ancestry, and this was a meal that my mother sometimes served if her day had been unusually busy.  Her version was all cooked together in one pan, preparation was easy and  clean up was minimal.  The ingredients were simple and usually in her pantry.  There are many versions of this dish, this one is my mom's.

Potatoes, carrots and onions, enough for your family
Salt and pepper to taste
Chicken broth or water, enough to cover prepared vegetables
Smoked sausage, enough for your family ( it's best to use the thick smoked sausage, which comes in rings or long links, rather than the ones sized for eating on buns)
Milk and butter to taste

Peel and quarter potatoes, peel and slice carrots, peel and coarsely chop onions.  Put the vegetables in a sauce pan, and cover them with water or broth.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes I add a bay leaf.  Bring this to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until vegetables are not quite tender. Add  the smoked sausage ring or links on top of the simmering vegetables, and simmer for 10 more minutes or until vegetables are very tender. Remove sausage and drain the vegetables. Add butter and milk to the pan, just as you would for mashed potatoes and mash everything together. (Remember to remove the bay leaf if you added one.).  Cut sausage into serving size pieces and serve with the mashed vegetable mixture.

We often got homemade applesauce on the side.

Some serve this with pot roast and gravy, or meatballs and gravy, rather than smoked sausage.
Bacon is a popular addition.
Dutch mustard is sometimes served with hutspot.
It is said that it tastes better if the onions are sautéed in a little oil or butter, rather than being cooked with the potatoes.  I've been too lazy to try this, but I suspect that this is probably true.
There are those who cook the carrots, potatoes and onions each separately and then mash them together. (See lazy comment above!)
Some recipes call for adding the smoked sausage at the beginning of the cooking time. I think this makes the sausage tasteless, but I will admit that it imparts a bit of a smoky flavor to the potato mixture.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

More cooking for the freezer

I am amazed at how great it is to have some ready to cook meals in the freezer. I wish I had tried this a lot sooner.

A few weeks ago DD and I spent a day making freezer meals again. The recipes were a bit more time consuming and we weren't quite as organized so it took us quite a bit longer than last time, probably around 4 hours. However, we each got around a dozen meals so it was time well spent.

Here are some of the recipes that we made this time:

Chicken Pot Pie

We added a jar of a turkey gravy to this recipe because it seemed a bit dry. We made family size pot pies, rather than individual ones. DD felt that this recipe needed a bit more seasoning, and she would add a bottom crust next time. I left out the peas and substituted corn and green beans instead. DD used frozen mixed vegetables. We didn't use the celery. Andy and I thought this was very good.  When I baked this, I thawed it in the refrigerator for about 18 hours. It was still a bit frozen when I baked it. I baked it covered for 30 minutes and then uncovered for 30 minutes.

Beef Stew

I made one recipe of this. I was a bit dubious about freezing raw potatoes, so I baked them a bit first. (The recipe suggested this if one was uncertain about freezing raw potatoes.). They were still pretty solid when I added them to the freezer bag, but they totally disintegrated between freezing and cooking. This didn't taste awful, but it wasn't all that flavorful either. I'm not sure if I would try this recipe again.  If I did, I'd try freezing the potatoes raw.

Creamy Italian Chicken

This is a different recipe from the one we made last time and we haven't tried it yet.  I plan to serve this over pasta.

Pizza Casserole

We made this mainly to see how pasta would fare in the freezer. This is essentially pasta with ground beef, canned spagghetti sauce and cheese.  Nothing special here. However this is very kid friendly, and it certainly could easily be fancied up a bit with a few added pizza topping type of ingredients.  We cooked the pasta al dente, and immediately rinsed it with cold water to prevent further cooking.   We found it to be pretty mushy after freezing and baking despite that. It tasted okay though. A bit more seasoning could be added. If we made another pasta dish, we would cook the pasta for a shorter time before assembling the casserole.

Shepherd's Pie

We added about 3/4 cup of tomato sauce and a tbsp or so of Worcestershire sauce to a double recipe, and we used less water, about 2 cups total.  Initially I was concerned that this would be salty, given the brown gravy mix and the condensed soup in it, and using less water, but the meat and gravy mixture was quite bland. DD used frozen mixed vegetables and I used corn and carrots. Both DD's  family and Andy and I liked this. Both DD and I agree that we would season it more next time.  We would also add more tomato sauce or some tomato paste.

We repeated the Chicken Cordon Bleu CasseroleCowboy Casserole, and Alton Brown's baked brown rice.  This time we used frozen french fries rather than tater tots in the cowboy casserole. I put the meat mixture in the bottom of the casserole and topped my meat with slices of American cheese. DD put potatoes both under and over the meat, as she is feeding a houseful of growing boys. She used shredded cheddar cheese in her casserole.

Dd also made some sloppy joes for each of us, but she didn't use a recipe.

This website, Fabulessly Frugal, has a lot of great sounding freezer recipes. We tried a few of them this time, and there are more that I'd like to try. This link takes you to the freezer recipe list. If you are looking for recipes to freeze, this is an excellent resource.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Filling the freezer

Today my oldest daughter and I spent a couple of hours making meals for the freezer.  In order to keep track of the recipes for future use, I'm linking to all of them in this post.  Altogether we spent a little over 2 hours working on this today. That doesn't include the time we each spent prepping, but it does include cleanup.  I got 11 meals out of the deal and she got a few more.  Some of these meals are casseroles that bake in the oven, and quite a few of them are "dump" crockpot meals.  (You dump the ingredients into a ziplock bag, and when you want to cook the meal, you dump the contents of the bag into the crockpot.)

We each did a bit of prep ahead of time.  She made Zesty slow cooker chicken barbecue, and Spaghetti sauce, and I precooked chicken and diced up leftover ham for Chicken cordon bleu casserole.  (I've made and frozen this one before, it's good with rice or over pasta.).  I also made a double batch of Alton Brown's baked brown rice .

We made cowboy casserole which should appeal to the grandkids as well as Andy.   I made a half recipe of Chicken Philly cheese steak, without the peppers.  I didn't stop to consider how really unappealing that is going to look with all the white from the chicken, onions, and the cornstarch.  Peppers would certainly add some visual appeal.

DD made Pesto stuffed shells, (she gave me two servings, but I'm not too sure how well they will go over here, although they sound delicious to me), and Salsa chicken, (I passed on this one because I'm not so sure Andy will even consider eating it).  We also made Creamy Italian chicken.  I wondered if this recipe had too much Italian dressing in it, but DD says she's made it before and it's very good served over pasta.  I also made Cool ranch chicken tacos, but DD passed on that one.

As we eat these meals, I plan to add our thoughts on them.

10/4:  I cooked the cool ranch chicken tacos when ds came for dinner a few weeks ago. Both he and Andy really liked them.  I found them slightly spicy, but that's normal for me.  I'd make them again.

11/20:  The chicken Philly cheesesteak was quite good. I served it on buns, with Swiss cheese and heated them in the oven after assembling.  We also really liked the zesty chicken barbecue, which we had on baked potatoes. Pesto stuffed shells were very good and would be suitable for company. As for cowboy casserole, you can't really go wrong with meat, cheese and potatoes. (Unless you are grandson 2, as he did not like it.). I'd use American cheese instead of shredded cheddar next time, just because it seems cheesier and melts better.

DD reports that her oldest son pronounced the chicken cordon bleu casserole awesome served over rice.  We had it over pasta last week and liked it that way too.

DDs family thought the creamy Italian chicken was okay, but not especially great. She says she added chicken broth and vegetables to the leftovers and made chicken noodle soup, which they liked better than the original recipe.  Andy and I both liked the creamy Italian chicken a lot.  We had it over whole wheat pasta.  I would make it again as written, but I don't think that DD would.  Initially, I was skeptical about the recipe, as I thought that it had way too much Italian dressing, and DD thought it would be great.  Funny how the results were the opposite of what we expected.

Alton Brown's baked brown rice is good, and very easy.  I always omit the salt, and add two chicken or beef bouillon cubes instead.  I also add about 1/4 cup more water than the recipe calls for.  When I make it, I do two or three pans of rice at a time.  I've already got the oven going so I figure that I might as well fill it.  I've never tried doubling the recipe in a single pan, since I don't want to mess with what I already know will work.  The rice freezes very well.  I freeze it in quart size bags and then put all the bags into a larger bag so that I don't have little bags of rice floating all over the freezer.