Monday, March 28, 2016

One of my favorite recipes

Lots of families get together around different holidays.  We get together for as many as possible.  My mother-in-law hosts most of the holidays at her house and she does part of the cooking and my sisters-in-law, nieces, etc. provide some of the food, too.  For Easter, my mother-in-law likes to serve turkey and ham with lots of salads.  One of my most requested salads is Oriental Slaw.  It is a favorite of many people in Alabama but I have no idea if people in other parts of the country eat this or not . . .if you have never eaten this slaw, RUN to the store and buy the ingredients and make it right now.  You won't regret it!  I've made a few modifications and learned a few tricks along the way and I'll share those with you.

Oriental Slaw (original recipe given to me by Angela McKinney)
(what you see in the pictures below is a double batch -- the written recipe is for a single batch)

2 packages beef ramen noodle soup
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup sunflower seed kernels (dry roasted if I can find them- personal preference)
1 bunch green onions, chopped (or pre-chopped from the produce section)
1 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup white vinegar
2 bags slaw mix from produce department

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Crumble ramen noodles into bite size pieces
Place nuts, seeds, and noodles on large baking sheet and toast in oven for 12 minutes or until almonds are just beginning to brown.  Remove from oven and place cookie sheet on rack to cool.

While nuts, seeds, and noodles are cooling, mix up the dressing. Gather up the two packets of dry seasoning from your ramen noodles (you didn't throw those away, did you??), the sugar, oil and vinegar.

Two tips -- 
1.  use a funnel
2.  save an oil bottle - or a similar bottle (I bought a cute bottle with a pop top but it didn't make it home from some function or another)

Put dry ingredients through the funnel first.  I know that seems like common sense but if you've never cooked before you might not think of that step!!

After pouring sugar and ramen noodle seasonings into bottle, add vinegar and oil.  I just happened to have EXACTLY the right amount of oil in this bottle so it worked out perfectly.  Why do you need to put the dressing in a bottle?  You will not add the dressing until right before serving and you need to be able to shake the dressing up really well.

Canola oil works well in this recipe.  I have made it with Olive Oil (and I love olive oil) but it changes the taste.  Same thing goes for apple cider vinegar.  I like apple cider vinegar in lots of recipes but not this one.

Another tip - buy some 2 gallon freezer bags and keep them in your pantry/cabinet.  Those bags come in handy for so many things!!  I used four bags of cole slaw for a double recipe.  This recipe is also really good made with broccoli slaw mix.  Open the bags of slaw and the green onions and put those items inside the big baggie.  I chopped my green onions a little more - I don't like big hunks of any kind of raw onion.

After the nuts are totally cool, you can add them to the bag with the slaw/onion mix.  You can do all of these steps the day before you need the slaw.  You don't have to do it the day before but you CAN do it the day before!!  Store the big baggie in the fridge until time to transport or serve.

By storing the dressing in the oil bottle and the slaw mixture in the baggie, items fit easily into a cooler (we keep our house very cool so I do not refrigerate the dressing if I'm going to use it the next day -- the sugar gets soooo clumped up!!  I'm a germaphobe and if I don't think it gets yucky, you can believe me -- it doesn't get yucky!!).  We leave home around 8:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings and we don't eat lunch until 12:30 so our items need to stay cool.  We usually take this slaw to our family Fourth of July festivities, too, and we use the cooler for storage on that day.  Works well!!

About thirty minutes before you want to eat, shake the dressing well - get all that sugar incorporated into the oil and vinegar.  Pour the dressing INTO THE baggie with the slaw and zip the bag together (make SURE the bag is sealed!!!!).  Gently squeeze the baggie and incorporate the dressing into the slaw mixture.  When you pour it into your serving bowl, you can continue to mix.  This is extremely helpful if you are making a double batch.  If you are making a single batch, you can mix it in the bowl fairly easily.  (one time I was out of town - my kids were in high school and had to attend some function or other -- a reunion of their elementary class, I think!!  I purchased all the supplies for them before I left and they had the recipe.  When I got back home, they told me that the big baggie burst open and slaw went everywhere in the sink/kitchen . . .so beware . . .don't get too physical while mixing the slaw and dressing)

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!!  What are some of your "go to" recipes that people always request?  I love to try new recipes!!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Today is Saturday . . .

It is almost time to go to bed.  We've had a quiet day.  Mark was at the farm until around 3:00.  The girls and I went to Sapphire Nails this morning and we all have pretty feet now.  I cooked/prepared my portion of the food for tomorrow.  Mark and I went to see the baby and while we were visiting with them, Glenn grilled chicken for all of us.  Today is Saturday.  A simple Saturday. Yesterday was Good Friday - the day we killed our Lord.  We left our sanctuary in darkness and silence last night in memory of that Friday so many years ago. 

For Lent, we studied "Who Is This Man?" by John Ortberg.  He writes in his book, "Jesus died on the cross on Friday. Then came Saturday- the only day in the last two thousand years when literally not one person in the world believed that Jesus was alive." A not so simple Saturday for Mary and the disciples.

Those are powerful words. The only day in the last two thousand years when literally not one person in the world believed that Jesus was alive.

I'm actually sad tonight.  I know tomorrow is coming.  I know it!  But I'm still sad.

I just reread this scripture from Luke chapter 24:
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared.   And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,   but when they went in they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel;   and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,  that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise.”   And they remembered his words,   and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.   Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles; but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

Here are a few pictures from the Garden Tomb in Israel.  I can imagine weeping nearby.  I can imagine that feeling you get in your chest when something is not going well . . .that physical hurt that happens when someone you love dies.

I know that Sunday is coming - that a day filled with hope is coming.  The disciples - Mary - other friends and family of Jesus . . they didn't know.   They were experiencing a very sad Saturday.  I think that if they were able to sleep at all on that night, it was the sleep of the sad - the sleep of not knowing what tomorrow will bring.  We all have those nights at some point in our lives.

The disciples and the women were in for a surprise on Sunday morning.  Thank God for that surprise!!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Wednesday HodgePodge on Friday - what can I say?

Since I haven’t been blogging much lately, thought I would jump in here on Friday afternoon . . .for Wednesday HodgePodge.  Sure – why not?  The office officially closed two minutes ago but my co-worker, Laura Ellis and I are staying for the service at 6:30.  A church member just dropped off warm hot cross buns . . . they are yummy.  Yummy things makes the wait so much better!!  So here goes with the hodgepodge questions:

1. Has spring sprung in your little corner of the world? Other than the calendar how would I know? What's your favorite thing about spring?  

Spring has sprung and she is a lovely lady . . .BUT I wish she would leave her pollen at home.  In Alabama, we have a gorgeous spring – there are plum and pear and cherry trees blooming, the dogwoods are beginning to bloom, there are tulips and daffodils and countless other blooming plants like forsythia.  There is color everywhere but with that color comes YELLOW pollen.  Our cars are yellow; our drive ways are yellow; our porches and porch cushions are yellow.  I love spring and all her colors and her blue skies and her puffy white clouds but I can’t be outside for more than a few minutes or I pay the price.

2. Besides the weather, what's put a spring in your step recently? We have our first grandbaby – a little girl born a little over a week ago.  Her name is Emma Katherine and she is beautiful!!  I wasn’t sure how I would feel about being a grandmother but I fell in love with her the minute she was placed in my arms!

3. How does Easter impact you?  I’m a Christian so Easter is a big deal.  Today is Good Friday – We remember how Christ was crucified and tonight’s service will be a service of darkness.  The scripture will be read; songs will be sung; a nail will be hammered; a candle will be extinguished . . .until the sanctuary is in darkness.  We will leave in silence.  It is such a powerful service.  I am truly grieving the death of my savior as we leave the building.  Tomorrow will be a day of waiting.  Usually on that Saturday, I just stay around the house and cook for Easter and I’m usually in a contemplative mood.  I am going to do something different tomorrow.  I’m going to take my daughter and daughter-in-law for an early morning pedicure . . .and then I think I’ll cook and think and listen to music afterwards.  Mark will be at the farm and Laura is going to babysit so that Glenn and Lauren can do something – get a cup of coffee, go to the store , take a nap – whatever.

4. I saw this somewhere on Facebook and thought it would make a fun Hodgepodge question. Which of the following would you find most disappointing...

a just stuffed taco shell breaking open and spilling out before you take the first bite? dropping a just-purchased Starbucks/Dunkin Donuts coffee? opening the peanut butter jar and finding it empty? upending onto the sidewalk a just-purchased ice cream cone? a burnt bagel popping up in your toaster when you're rushing breakfast? or cutting into an avocado and finding out it's rotten? 
What a cute question!! It is always so sad to me, when I cut into an avocado and it is rotten.  So often, the avocado feels just right when I gently press and then BOOM it has lots of black inside.  I think the avocado would be my most disappointing.  I could eat the taco with a fork.  The empty peanut butter jar would annoy me.  I might be pretty sad if I dropped an ice cream cone!

5. What's something held together with tape at your house? Or a paper clip? Or a wing and a prayer? I can’t think of a thing.  Since we have a new house (18 months old) most things are still holding together . . .Oh I know!! I gave Mark a new weight bench for Christmas.  When he slit open the box, he slit the seat on his new weight bench and it is taped together with duct tape.  You have to understand – poor old Mark – he always gets the broken gift or it breaks within minutes of opening.  It is the craziest phenomenon.

6. Do you feel underappreciated? In what way? If I did, I’m not sure that I would broadcast it on my blog.  I will say that recently, in a meeting, I felt slightly underappreciated.  Everyone who had participated in a project was recognized and my name was omitted.  I actually cried on the way home from the meeting.  I’m good now, though!   In most areas of my life, I feel appreciated.  My boss, Brian, seems to appreciate me (or either he is a really good liar and since he is a preacher, I hope I can believe him J)  The young adults on Tuesday night seem to appreciate the home cooked meals.  One of our other ministers is a great encourager and he is always telling me that I’m doing a good job.  I teach Sunday school and I feel appreciated.  As I’m typing these words I’m thinking that we don’t really DO any of the things we do in life wanting appreciation.  As a Christian, every single thing I do should be done for God’s glory and his glory alone.  He’s a good good father – It’s who he is!  I’m loved by him – It’s who I am!  So – he is the only one I should worry about pleasing.

7. What's something you'd build if you knew how? Oh wow – the possibilities are endless!  If I had room, I would love some raised garden beds with tomato and squash plants.  If I knew how, I would build something similar to this scrapbox – it costs about $1500.  I was thinking that I would buy one to replace all the mismatched furniture in my craft room.  It would also free up enough space to put a day bed in that room.  We really need one more bed for when my sister, nephew, and Laura are all at the house.  It is actually called the Workbox 2.0 and when you close it all up, the doors are beadboard and it looks so nice.  The website says it takes 10 hours to put it together.  Surely I could learn to build one, right?

8. Insert your own random thought here.  Being a Gran is awesome. I truly had no idea.  I had asked a couple of friends if I would have to “learn to love” a grandchild.  NOPE!  Instantaneous!!  Several people told me that having a grandchild would “change my world.”  I can see how that is going to happen!  This sweet grandbaby of mine is the first great grandchild, too.  My mother-in-law told us all that she had waited a long time for this!!  Hopefully, we will get a picture this weekend of all four generations - Grandmother, Mark, Glenn and Emma.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Satisfying, Sumptuous, Savory Saturdays -- Apple Roll

Satisfying, Sumptuous, Savory Saturdays
We are always looking for NEW things to serve our friends when they come over for dinner.  This is actually an OLD recipe.  Mark's momma has always made what she calls "apple roll" and everyone LOVES it.  (three words in all caps already - whew!)
So, I google "recipe for Apple Roll" - I found a few similar things but there was nothing out there just like hers.  I read a million recipes and couldn't find one that sounded just right.  When all else failed, I texted my sister-in-law, Susie, in Delaware, and asked her if she had the recipe.
My text back from her said, "I am not home but this is basically it."
I made it - it is delicious - you should try it!
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Cut up enough apples for at least two cups.  My friend, Amy, told me about cutting/eating apples this way.  There is so little waste!!  Cut across the apple and make round slices - then just cut out the tiny core and chop away.  You can see that the apples are not finely chopped - rough chop.  You want big enough pieces so they don't disintegrate.  I buy nice apples - I rarely buy the kind in the prepackaged bag.  These look like gala or honey crisp. (I made this in December so I don't remember all the details)
Mix apples (you can have way more than 2 cups) with about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar, a healthy sprinkling of cinnamon, and a stick of melted butter.

I love this picture below.  The winter sun was shining into the house through the little trees on my island!!  Take one box of pastry (the kind you buy on the canned biscuit aisle).  Lay the two circles out on a big piece of parchment paper and roll them into one rectangle.

It doesn't have to be perfect.

This picture should have been up above -- I was pouring the melted butter over the chopped apples.

Take approximately two cups of those apples and spread them down the pastry.

Roll it up.  See my big knife.  I think I bought it at Walmart and it is a good knife!!

Cut the one long apple roll into two pieces and place in a 9 X 13 pan (this is my ugly pan - it is the pan I bake brown sugar brownies in . . also, a recipe from Mark's mom.  I didn't know how to bake AT ALL when I married Mark.  She has been a good teacher.

Pile all those other apples all around in the pan.  The more the better.  They will taste really good.  I hate to tell you this but after you get them in the pan - before you put it in the oven - pour about a cup of sugar over the top plus a little more melted butter.  I never said this was a low calorie nor low fat dessert.  I simply said it was good.
Put pan in hot oven until pastry starts to brown.  Just stand there and watch it.  I set the timer in few minute increments and it seems like it took 10-12 minutes for it to start browning - maybe longer.
This is the weirdest step of all.  Put one cup of water in a glass measuring cup and put it in your microwave and heat it until it is boiling.  Pour one cup boiling water on top of all; reduce oven to 350 degrees and keep on baking.

I made the apple roll the night before our friends were coming over (in case it was a flop!!).  I preheated the oven to 350 and when we sat down to eat our dinner, I put the apple roll back in the oven to warm.  Why?  Because you serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and it needs to be warm.

You can tell that this is an old recipe.  There are not a lot of exact measurements.  It is so delicious.  Hope you will make an apple roll for your family (or yourself - share with someone!!) and tell me if you love it.