Friday, January 29, 2016

Creamy Mac 'n Cheese

*****I will add photos as soon as I have them *****

Major comfort food here!  My mom made this when I was little and when I started cooking, she pointed me to this cookbook and said "Learn!"  So I did.

This is my all time, favorite American Food cookbook, James Beard's American Cookery.  It isn't the junk side of American cooking but the homemade, melding of traditions cooking.  I love it.  And... as a kid learning to cook, I loved that he always told you where the dish came from and listed historical facts.

My favorite recipe from this book is the Macaroni and Cheese recipe.  Apparently at one time it was called Macaroni pudding.

So Here goes the Creamiest Macaroni and Cheese as adapted from the James Beard cookbook.

1 pound macaroni
6 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp flour
3 cups milk
2 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
2 dashes Sriracha sauce
3 cups shredded cheese
Buttered Bread Crumbs

Boil the macaroni in salted water till just tender.  Drain well.
Prepare white sauce -  melt butter in a heavy saucepan, blend with the flour, and cook several minutes over medium heat.  Heat the milk to the boiling point, stir into the flour-butter mixture, and continue stirring till it thickens.  Add the seasonings and simmer 4 to 5 minutes.
Butter a 4 quart baking dish or casserole.
Arrange alternate layers of macaroni, sauce, and cheese, ending with the cheese.  Cover the top with the buttered crumbs.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and the sauce is bubbly. Serve at once.

I used to mix the cheese into the sauce and melt it and I have also used prepared mustard instead of the dry mustard... I like it both ways BUT this way is creamier and I think tastes better.  My kids agree.  I have found that when you melt the cheese in the sauce it can go grainy... not good eats for a texture issues child.  So... This way wins now and is much easier.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Beans and Peaches

Tonight's dinner is the cheapest yet.  Beans!

I think I spent less than 2 dollars on the beans we cooked up tonight.  I keep dry beans on hand all the time.  They make for a fairly quick, filling meal.
I got this recipe for my friend's blog.  You can get the recipe here.
I have been making it for several years now.  It is so simple and so good.  All my kids like it and eat it up.  It has no meat in it.  It can be added if you want but it isn't required.  We pair the beans with fresh bread or corn bread to complete the protein.  We also had home bottled peaches for desert.  We haven't had them for so long.  It was a great year for peaches in Missouri this year.  We were lucky and got more than 60 quarts bottled up.

They are a real treat.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Spicy Tomato Soup

This is another recipe we have been making for more than 25 years.  I got the recipe from my sister-in-law, Lee.  It is my favorite and I crave it.  It reminds me of my brother and his home and that always makes me happy.  I always use home bottled tomatoes for this recipe.  If you don't have that, look for a large can of stewed tomatoes.  A bottle of tomatoes is about 32 oz. so look for something comparable.  This recipe also calls for cloves and nutmeg.  They may sound a little weird at first but they give this soup it's signature flavor.  The whole house is filling with the smell of this spicy soup..... Oh and hot fresh bread.  My daughter made some to go with the soup.  Again... we are on budget and all this food came from the pantry.

Spicy Tomato Soup


1 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 quart of bottled tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth (if you make your own bone broth... it makes the soup even better)
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp sugar
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp pepper
salt to taste

Melt the butter in a stock pot.
Add the onions and saute until limp.
Add the bottle of tomatoes and the broth.
Add the herbs and spices.
Bring to a soft boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Serve with fresh bread or yummy cheese sandwiches.

My sister-in-law is a talented artist.  She also makes the most amazing salve, Mom's Stuff.

She has been making this stuff for years.  We love it.  One of the key ingredients is pinion pine pitch.  It smells so lovely and reminds me of home.  We use it for dry skin on hands, feet, and face.  We use it for cuts and scrapes.  My son uses it on our farm animals to help heal up minor cuts and scrapes.  It is a must around here, especially in the winter.  You should really give it a try.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016


These are the Japanese version of the Steamed Pork Bun.  We love them.  My sister-in-law from Osaka taught us how to make these.  They are comfort food for my kids now.  I am sure you will love them too.

Miyuki's Butaman

Ingredients for filling:
2 pounds ground pork
1 8 oz can bamboo shoots, minced
6 shiitake mushrooms, minced after hydrating
2 tsp fresh ginger grated or ground
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp miso paste
4 tsp sugar
pinch of black pepper
4 tsp corn starch
1 onion, minced
2 tsp salt
1 green onion chopped
2 Tbsp sesame oil

Brown 1 pound pork with the bamboo, mushrooms, and ginger.
Mix the soy sauce, miso, sugar, and pepper.
Mix into the pork.  Remove from heat and set aside.
Coat the onions with the corn starch.
Mix with the raw ground pork, salt, green onion, and sesame oil.
Add to the cooked pork and mix well.  Set aside to cool.
(I have added other vegetables to this part of the mix... shredded cabbage, grated carrots, etc. My kids like it with more veggies.)

Ingredients for the Buns:

Mix A:
3 1/3 cups flour
2 cups Warm water
4 tsp sugar
4 tsp yeast
Mix well and set aside to proof for 30 minutes.

Mix B
10 Tbsp evaporated milk
2/3 tsp salt (ish... 3/4 is ok)
6 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp butter
Combine and warm in a sauce pan.  Be careful not get it too hot.  Add to Mix A after it is done rising.

Mix C
3 1/3 C flour
4 tsp baking powder
Mix and add to Mix A & B.  Kneed until smooth.  Divide in 32 equal pieces.

Divide your cooled filling into 32 equal portions.
Roll a ball of dough, place a portion of the filling in the center and pinch the dough up around the filling, forming a little bundle.  Place the little bundle on a small square of parchment or waxed paper. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.  The parchment paper keeps the dough from sticking to the pan when cooking and to the counter when making the bundles.
Steam the buns on high heat for 10 minutes.
Serve with soy sauce.  We like it with a mix of mustard and soy sauce.
To steam them we boil 2-3 inches of water in a large stock pot that has a steamer basket and lid.  My sister uses a bamboo steaming basket.  There are may other options.  If you are worried that they aren't cooked through... check one.  We have found that 10 minutes on high heat works for us.
I am sorry there aren't any more pictures... we had company tonight and we were in a rush and almost didn't get a picture at all.  The sad little but we did get a picture was the very last one... they snaffed them all.  This made enough for 9 people with each person getting at least 2 buns.  The finished buns are very large... about 3 1/2" wide and about 3" high.

We are still on budget.  This dinner came from shopping at home.  The pork came from our own pigs we had processed this past year.  Everything else came from the fridge or pantry.

Monday, January 04, 2016


Bolognese won this weeks "from the pantry" challenge because I had things we could make this with.  It is also a big winner because it is a great way to "hide" vegetables from your family.  I am all about that.  My husband eats more veggies now but when we were first married... he wouldn't touch them.  I love vegetables and wasn't going to give them up so... I had to get sneaky.  This recipe lets you get really sneaky.  This recipe uses carrots, onions, celery, and mushrooms.  I sent them all through the food processor to chop them very fine.  The all just disappear into the sauce.

Basic Bolognese

1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped or grated carrots
1 large onion chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
2 cups brown mushrooms chopped
1 to 2 pounds ground beef
2 Tbsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp Mrs Dash table blend (optional) I don't like pepper so I use this
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
5+ cloves garlic minced
1 Tbsp sugar
2 jars bottled tomatoes (OR 2 - 28oz cans of whole tomatoes)
1 Cup half & half
1 Cup milk

Heat the oil in a heavy pan.  Add the carrots, onions, celery, and mushrooms.  Cook for about 5 minutes.
Make a hole in the center of your veggies and add your ground beef.  Cook until browned and stir into the veggies.  Cook for about 5 more minutes.
Add the herbs and spices.  Let them cook in for a couple of minutes.
Add the Tomato paste and let that cook in for another couple of minutes.
Add the vinegar, salt, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and bottled tomatoes.  Mix well.  Let it cook for another 5 minutes or so, till it is all blended well.
Add the milk and half & half.  Bring to a boil again.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Serve over your favorite pasta.  We like to use homemade noodles.
Isn't that sauce beautiful!?  I think I am loving this.  I am so glad we did this challenge this week.  It is forcing me to get creative.  Next time (meaning tomorrow's leftovers) I am going to try tossing the fresh noodles right into the sauce and letting them cook there.  It will soak up all the yummy juices.  I can't wait for DH to try this.  I think he will love it!

Homemade Pasta

I have had this recipe since I was 16.  It is my favorite and I use it all the time.  It is great for any noodle dish you are making.  I like to use it for lasagna (only we don't cook them first, we just put them right in the pan).

Homemade Noodles

2 cups flour (white, whole wheat or a combo)
2 tsp sea salt
2 eggs
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp water

Put the flour and salt in a bowl or on your counter top.  Make a well in the flour.  Add the eggs, water, and oil.  Start blending with a fork and then your hands.  Kneed for a few minutes till it all comes together and forms a ball.  Sometimes I have to add a little more water to make it all come together.
Wrap in a damp cloth or some plastic wrap.  Let it rest for 10 minutes.  Then roll thin and cut into noodles.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken and noodles is a Southern comfort food that makes my husband very happy. I on the other hand... don't like it because there are no vegetables in it. So... we compromise and make this thicker chicken and noodles soup. We are both happy and love it.
When making our soup we start with one of our farm fresh, hand raised chickens. My husband and son raise these all summer so we can have the freezer full of chickens. I have found that you can find equally good chickens at our local farmers' market. They are worth the money. You get a much better chicken. We also make the noodles from scratch from our tried and true noodle recipe. We also always add turmeric and pink Himalayan salt. We like the way it tastes and I like that added minerals it gives.

Yummy Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

1 whole chicken
4 -6 carrots cut up
2-3 stalks of celery chopped
1 small onion chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp Mrs Dash table blend (any spice blend you like is fine)
½ tsp thyme
1 Tbsp parsley flakes
3 Tbsp flour
1batch homemade

 to the pot for another hour to get more of that lovely collagen and minerals out of the bones. Add water as needed.
Remove the bones from the broth and strain the broth and return to the stock pot.
Add the carrots, celery and onions to the pot. Bring to a boil. Add the herbs and spices.
Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Increase the heat to a full boil and add the handmade noodles. Cook for about 8-10 minutes more.
Mix the flour with a little water. Stir into the soup. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
Add the chicken pieces back to the pot and heat through.
Makes 8-10 servings.

We think it actually makes more than this because there is always enough left over for lunches the next day.  

Weekly Meal Menu for January 3rd-9th

We are trying a little challenge this week.  We have set a rule that we can only shop from our fridge, freezer, and pantry for meals this week.  The only problem I can see is that we might have to buy a carton of eggs... I don't see that as cheating.  We shall see... We have chickens right now but... it is winter here in Missouri and they are on a little break from egg laying.

This Week's Menu

Sunday - Chicken Noodle Soup
Monday - Bolognese with homemade pasta
Tuesday - Butaman
Wednesday - Tomato Soup with Bread
Thursday - Basic Beans
Friday - Egg roll in a bowl
Saturday - Slow Cooker Chili con Carne on Fries

Sunday, January 03, 2016

New year... New Goals.

We are participating in the 31 days 2 get Organized Challenge.  So far, so good.  The challenges are small enough that I can keep up... BUT... they do make progress.  They are easy enough that the kids are also "playing along."  I like that part!
Another challenge that as caught my attention is The Great Grocery Challenge of 2016 over at Going Reno.

 I love her blog and enjoy her real life challenges.  The point of this challenge is to take control of you groceries.  I can budget in many areas of our life BUT groceries have a way of slipping way off track each month... I always seem to end up at the end of the month and the grocery money is gone... So I use other money and that never works!
We have some advantages right now because we live in the country, we have a farm, a garden, and a good farmer's market.  I hope to be able to post some of our deals and ideas to save in the kitchen.  Another big advantage that my oldest son has come to really appreciate... I can do stuff.  That is how he said it.  I can cook and I know how to make things from scratch.  Canned soups and mixes just don't exist in our house.  When I quit my job as a teacher to stay home with my own children, I had to make up the difference somewhere and prepared foods were the first to go.  I don't remember the last time I bought a can of cream soup or a packaged meal mix.  I missed them at first but now... they don't even register... and I think they taste nasty now... and happily... so do my kids.
So... I will try, this year, to post my weekly menu list (with recipes, links, etc...).  Having a Menu plan helps keep the food budget in order.   It is random, hungry shopping that blows my budget... I end up with Nutella and Cheese puffs when I don't plan...
To help me plan ( because I am a very random person!!!), I have to narrow the options.  I came up with a weekly food plan a few years ago, and when I follow it... life works better.  Here is my current food plan.
Sunday - "Sunday Dinner" type food and we eat with my brothers 2 weeks out of the month
Monday - Burger/Taco/Spaghetti night - means anything that fits those meal ideas
Tuesday - Ethnic Food night - We like too many different kinds to have individual nights of the week
Wednesday - Soup/Stew/Chili
Thursday - Crock pot/ Casserole/Meat pies
Friday - Kids Cook - The kids all know how to cook something and are learning how to cook others
Saturday - Pizza/Sandwiches/ Fun Family Foods
I have linked each of these to a pinterest page I use.  This helps me organize my many ideas for meals.

I also have a breakfast plan... I am looking at that again and am trying to re-work it to fit our needs better.
Now to go watch a family movie with my kids and DH on our last day of Christmas Break.... while I collect this week's recipes.
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