Category Archives: Entertaining

Mrs Adams’ Crunchy Turkey/Chicken Salad with Watermelon Rind Pickles

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<strong>Mrs Adams’ Crunchy Turkey/Chicken Salad with Watermelon Rind Pickles</strong>

This chicken salad recipe is the favorite dish of my sister’s ever brought to a church fellowship. It was her pastor’s wife (now pastor’s mother) who introduced everyone to this fantabulous salad.  The only thing is though, in Wyoming there aren’t ever any watermelon pickles available in the stores, so often times she has to substitute bread and butter pickles, although grapes would probably be a better substitute.

Mrs. Adams is from Texas and apparently, they are a southern thing – watermelon pickles, and since I live in Texas now, I was able to find them at Central Market in San Antonio and send them to my sister, who passed them along to Mrs. Adams, so she could make her famous salad the way it was supposed to be made. 

But the crazy thing is, I remember, as a kid, my grandmother making watermelon pickles in the summers. She always wanted us to save our rinds for her so she could make a big batch. She always had a jar of them in her fridge – and she’s not southern at all, although my grandpa was, and so maybe that’s where she got the idea.  Maybe his mom (or stepmom) made them?  Well, at any rate, a few years ago, I decided to try and make them myself, ‘cause San Antonio is a long ways to drive for a jar of pickles.  As far as recipes, all I had was a Ball Blue Book for inspiration, and after trying both types that they had listed, I realized that neither of them remotely resembled the taste or gooey consistency of the ones my grandma used to make. 

Then, a few weeks ago, on one of my many visits to Facebook, I saw Brenda Gantt had posted a video of herself making them, and after watching, I decided hers looked a whole lot like the ones my grandma made, very thick and gooey and sticky.  So, I thought I’d try her method out and see if it was a match.

Now, if you aren’t familiar with who Brenda Gantt (#BrendaGantt) is, well, let me just say she is this most darling little ol’ cooking grandma lady from Andalusia Alabama who ever put videos on Facebook.  They are down-to-earth and practical, charmingly unprofessional, and downright homey.  Shot by her using a little ol’ cell phone, in her very user friendly, fully equipped, but dare I say, a little bit old school kitchen, where friends and grandchildren frequently make an appearance.   Sometimes Brenda is all done up, make-up on, hair done, cute outfit, and other times she is in her housedress with no makeup and hair going every which way or stuffed under a ball cap.  She is a popular lady with lots of friends and a loving grandma and mother. She is a patriotic and Christian lady who shares her faith and love of country often, and has the most adorable personality.  She is a widow and retired school teacher, and has a little Bed and Breakfast that she operates called Cottle House. She is so beloved that her videos often get pirated and posted to You Tube (without her permission), but perhaps you have seen her there?  Below is the link to the little video she did of the watermelon pickles, which I hope you’ll go and watch here. If you have a cell phone you can aim your camera at this QR code and then click on the link that will pop up on your screen. It will take you right to the video.

This summer I have had such a craving for watermelon, and because of the abundance of watermelon rinds, I decided I would give Brenda’s recipe a whirl.  Let me tell you, it turned out exactly like my grandmother’s recipe, except my grandma’s had whole cloves in hers.  I thought they might be even better if they were spicy, so I added some garden jalapenos along with a lemon and a few spices just to see how they would turn out. Weeee doggies, they are my absolute new favorite!!!!! I love them soooooo much that I have made two whole watermelons worth now.  They make the chicken salad even better than it already was, if I may say so myself. 😉 

I made a little video capture collage from Brenda’s video. I thought it might be helpful to aid in the instructions for my watermelon pickles. As you can see, it took her a couple of days to put this one together, sometimes she is fixed up and sometimes not, and if you watch the video you will get to meet one of her beautiful granddaughters and a prankster grandson.

MrsH’s Spicy Watermelon Rind Pickles

INSTRUCTIONS: (numbers correspond to the numbered sections of the Brenda collage above)

1.  Cut watermelon in half.  Scoop out the red part

2.  Cut the rind into strips about an inch wide

3.  Cut the green skin off each piece of rind

4.  Cut the rind into bite-size pieces

5.  Once the rind is all cut up you should have a pretty good pot full.  I actually transferred my rinds into a large ceramic bowl to set overnight instead of leaving them in the metal pot.

6. Cover the rind pieces with sugar (do not stir).  Use regular, white, granulated sugar.

7.  Make sure the sugar covers every piece.  Let the rinds sit, uncovered, on the counter for 8 hours or overnight (do not stir).  The next morning you will see that the sugar has leached the liquid out of the rinds and has formed a sort of wet crust on top.

8.  Pour the liquid and rinds into a large pot and bring to a boil on the stove.  (I added about a dozen small, really spicy jalapenos from my garden (stems removed, chopped up), plus one lemon sliced, two cinnamon sticks, and about a heaping tablespoon of Ball Pickling Spice – which I added to a reusable tea bag, and let it all cook together on a medium boil for about 2 hours or so. 

It will cook down quite a bit.  The rinds need to cook until they are translucent.  Sometimes it is hard to tell if they are translucent while they are boiling, so I remove a piece from the pot and let it cool to see.  Once the pickles are translucent, they are ready to be jarred, but in the meantime, while the rinds are still cooking, it’s a perfect time to get the your jars ready.

Get a few clean jars with lids and place them in a pot of water.  *I used old olive jars that I had saved, and their lids, and to my utter amazement they actually sealed when they cooled. 

To prepare the jars, bring water to a boil in a large pot on the stove and keep it at a simmer.  Let the jars and lids simmer together while the pickles finish cooking, until you are ready to use them.  Use tongs to take one jar at a time out of the boiling water, tip it upside down to drain it well, and then place it upright on a towel near the pot of pickles. 

9.  Use a canning funnel and ladle to fill the jars with pickles.  Fill the jars almost to the rim, but leave about a half inch of headspace.  Clean the rim of the jars with a clean, wet paper towel so that there is nothing sticky or any pieces of pickle on it. This will ensure that the lid seals properly so no oxygen gets inside to spoil the contents.

10. Using tongs, take a lid from the boiling water, tap off the water, and place the lid on the jar.  Screw the lid on hand tight.  Set the jars back away from the heat, or on a wire rack, and allow them to cool until the lids seal.

Since these pickles are not being water-bath canned, and because I used previously used lids instead of brand new canning lids and rings, it is safest to keep the pickles in the refrigerator.  If you would like to make some that are guaranteed safe for long term storage, here is the Ball Blue Book recipe:

I would recommend using Brenda’s pickles within a month, which is no problem when the goal for making them is to also make Mrs. Adams’ Chicken Salad (recipe below).  These pickles are so delicious just to snack on, as you would any other type of pickled veggies.  They are sweet and spicy and I can’t wait for you to try them. Brenda says that she first tried these as preserves spread on a buttered biscuit, accompanying a steak dinner she and her husband dined out on at a restaurant.  I tried them that way and they are delicious. My grandmother always had them around as a side for meals and snacks.  She always added whole cloves to hers while they were cooking, along with cinnamon sticks.  I like the Ball pickling spices, it has all the spices in it. And the cinnamon stick, jalapeno, and lemon rind just makes them perfect.

Mrs. Adams’ Crunchy Turkey/Chicken Salad

Original recipe courtesy of the Ladies of Grace Bible Baptist church (Casper, Wyoming), Favorite Recipes cookbook, published 2002 by Morris Press Cookbooks.  I modified her recipe slightly to avoid any copyright liabilities.

4 cups cooked turkey or chicken, pulled and chopped into bite-size pieces

1½ cups chopped celery

3/4 cup chopped green onion

1 (20-oz) jar of watermelon rind pickles, drained (if liquidy) and chopped

1 (5-oz) bag slivered almonds

1½ to 2 cups Mayonnaise, as preferred

The juice of 1 lemon (or a Tablespoon of bottled lemon juice)

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1½ teaspoons salt, or more to taste

2 Tablespoons Curry Powder (I used Hot Madras), more or less to taste

2 cups Chow Mein Noodles (wait to add until just before serving)

Toss turkey/chicken with the next 4 ingredients until well incorporated.  Mix the mayo, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and curry powder together and pour over chicken. Mix well. Add more mayo if a creamier texture is desired.  Add more salt, pepper, curry powder – if more is desired.  Cover tightly and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  Stir in chow mein noodles just before serving.  Great dish to bring to a church pot luck, Bowling pot luck, Bunco night, cards, dominoes, or other game night get-togethers.  If you are a grandma and live in the same town as your kids and grandkids, take a batch over to them to be a blessing after a long day at work. Can be made up to 12 hours before serving. Add the chow mein noodles just before serving.

“Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Matthew 6:11-12

Teacher Appreciation Lox Bagel Breakfast

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Teacher Appreciation Lox Bagel Breakfast

For Teacher Appreciation Week this year, my gift was to coordinate parents to bring breakfast and lunch for the staff each day of the week. After everyone had grabbed their day/meal there was one slot left to fill. I ended up with breakfast on the last day. The parents really spoiled the teachers and staff with lots and lots of goodies, and since I had the luxury of knowing what everyone had brought, I decided they might all appreciate something that wasn’t sweet and unhealthy. My neighbor is a farmsteader and has a farmstand every other week. She bakes the most wonderful bagels. So I grabbed up a couple dozen of those and a dozen of her farm fresh eggs, along with a package of her farm grown sprouts, and herbs out of my own garden. Most of the rest of the ingredients were store bought organic. I was surprised by how many of the staff had never heard of Lox Bagels. Well, they are all big fans now as I was after the first time I had one! 🙂

Lox Bagels

  • Smoked Salmon
  • Hard Boiled Eggs, sliced
  • Cucumbers, sliced thin
  • Tomatoes, sliced thin
  • Red Onion, sliced thin
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Lemons, cut into wedges
  • Alfalfa Sprouts
  • Chives, minced
  • Capers, whole or minced
  • Dill Weed, minced
  • Everything Bagels (1 to 2 dozen), sliced in half

Arrange Lox ingredients decoratively on a platter or charcuterie board, cover with plastic, and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  When ready to serve set out on a buffet table with little appetizer forks and spreading knives.  Place chives, capers, and dill weed in small bowls and keep chilled until ready to serve.  When ready to serve nestle them in with Lox ingredients on platter.  Place whipped Cream Cheese in a bowl and keep chilled until ready to serve.  When ready, set next to Lox platter.  Keep Bagels in a plastic bag until ready to serve.  Fresh bakery bagels can be purchased ahead of time, wrapped and frozen, to keep them fresh.  Remove from freezer the day before and let thaw in the refrigerator.  Slice room temperature bagels in half with a bread knife and stack pairs in a kitchen towel lined bread basket and cover with another tea towel.  Set the buffet table near an outlet so those who wish to toast their bagels may do so. Set a toaster near the basket of bagels.

Cream Cheese Spread:

  • 2  8-oz blocks Cream Cheese, softened
  • ½ cup Sour Cream (may substitute heavy cream – add more if a creamier spread is desired)
  • 2 Lemons, juiced
  • 2 Tablespoons Dill Weed, chopped
  • ¼ cup Red Onion, minced

Place all ingredients for the cream cheese spread in a large bowl and mix with a mixer on medium speed until blended, then increase speed to high and whip cream cheese until smooth, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  If made the night before the flavors will have time to meld.

Mimosas

  • Various fruit juices, chilled
  • Sparkling cider/grape juice (non-alcoholic Champagne), chilled
  • Strawberries, orange wedges, fresh mint sprigs, etc. for garnish
  • Champagne Flutes

Arrange garnishes on a platter.  Fill a tub with ice.  Nestle the juices into the ice. Set the fake champagne (or wine, if appropriate) either in the ice also, or next to champagne flutes. Place the garnishes in front for easy access. Set out a small set of tongs for self-serving of the garnishes.  Let guests assemble their own beverages.

Cold Brew Coffee

  • 3 bottles of your favorite brand Cold Brew, or make homemade (recipe here)
  • Flavored syrups (Hazelnut, caramel Macchiato, etc.)
  • 1 or 2 quarts Half-and-Half
  • Ice
  • Clear plastic Solo Cups (with lids, optional)
  • Stir sticks
  • Straws

Fill a tub with ice.  Set the cold brew bottles (you may want to have both regular and de-caf) into the ice.  Nestle the Half-and-Half into the ice also.  Set a bucket of ice near the cups, with a serving scoop, and arrange the syrups, stir sticks, and straws so they are accessible.  Let guests serve themselves.

Want to know which cold brew brands are the best? https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/best-cold-brew-taste-test/

“Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.”

1 Corinthians 12:27-28

Mrs H’s Fried Ice Cream

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Mrs H’s Fried Ice Cream

This is an easy version of your favorite Mexican Restaurant dessert! Hooray, right? We all love EASY! This can also be made up ahead of time for an easy dessert for company, or to carry in for a pot luck supper at church. You can serve them all fancied up, or let your guests decorate their own.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 Half-gallon Vanilla Ice Cream (I like the less sweeter varieties; read the label; my favorite has 11 g sugars under Carbohydrates.  Some have 20 g and that is just too sweet for my taste)

6 cups Corn Flakes cereal, crushed

½ cup (1 stick) butter

3 teaspoons cinnamon

¼ cup honey

Chocolate Ice Cream sauce

Whipped Cream (in aerosol can)

Maraschino cherries (with stems)

Large size muffin wrappers (paper)

Latex gloves

5-Step procedure

First, place a muffin tin in your freezer and allow it to get ice cold (about an hour).  Use an ice cream scoop to dip ice cream from its container.  I use my other hand (with glove on) to heap ice cream up over the ice cream in the scoop and then press it into a ball shape, before ejecting the ball into a well of the muffin tin.  Continue until all 12 wells are full, or ice cream is used up.  Place muffin tin back in the freezer and allow ice cream balls to set and freeze hard (about an hour or two).

Meanwhile, make the crust: Crush the corn flakes cereal in a gallon size zip lock bag, using a rolling pin. Add the cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven size pot, toss in the crumbs and cinnamon and stir fry about 2 or 3 minutes until it begins to smell wonderful.  Be careful not to let it burn.  Drizzle with honey and toss to coat.  Remove from heat and let it cool.  NOTE: I have substituted other cereals, namely Cinnamon Toast crunch and it worked great, as long as the cereal was ground into fine crumbs in a food processor.

Remove Ice cream balls from freezer.  Use a large spoon to remove a ball from its well in the muffin tin. Drop ball into crumb mixture and roll with gloved hands around in the crumbs, pressing crumbs into ice cream with hands until all sides are coated.  If you are having trouble getting the crumbs to stick to the ice cream try squeezing a little honey over the crumbs before rolling the ice cream into it.  Place balls on paper muffin wrappers and then set them on a cookie sheet or baking pan.  Once finished with coating all the balls, return them to the freezer to set and harden.   They can remain in the freezer for a day or two if you want to make them ahead.

To serve:  Remove an ice cream ball from the muffin wrapper, place on a serving plate.  Drizzle chocolate syrup decoratively over the top.  Spray a nice size dollop of whipped cream on top, and garnish with a cherry.  Pretty as a picture!

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“The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey.” Exodus 16:31

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MrsH’s Original Bit-O-Honey Pie

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MrsH’s Original Bit-O-Honey Pie

They say there is nothing new under the sun, well, I beg to differ. The idea for this pie popped in my head after stumbling across a Bake-off contest on social media. I looked and looked for a recipe, figuring someone out there had surely invented such a thing already, but nope, I couldn’t find a single one. Sooooo, having my creative kitchen muscles stretched a bit, I humbly present to you my prize-winning entry!  Okay, I didn’t really enter it in their contest, only because of a ban on refrigerated items, but my taste-testing family all gave me thumbs way up and a great BIG fancy blue ribbon, I mean hug. Perhaps next year the committee that decides such things will make an exception and allow refrigerated items, and then I’ll get to enter the Honey Festival bake-off challenge, officially, with this pie!  Until then, you get to enter it at your supper table festivals for a whole year ahead of its grand appearance at the BIG SHOW! And this way all your little resident foodies can help me decide if it’s worth entering in the contest next year!

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup Uvalde Honey
  • ½ cup Almond Butter (I like it waaaay better with Walnut Butter, Crazy Go Nuts brand)
  • 1 cup chopped slivered almonds  (divided)
  • 1 Tsp. Almond extract
  • 1 Tbsp. Molasses
  • 1  8-oz pkg Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 small tub Cool Whip topping, thawed
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup dry malted milk powder
  • 1 Vanilla wafer crumb crust for 9” pie

DIRECTIONS

Make crumb crust: Preheat oven to 375 *F.  Whirl approximately 2/3 of a box of Nilla Wafers and ½ cup slivered almonds in a blender or food processor until fine crumbs. You should come close to about 1½ cup of crumbs.  If you end up with a little bit more, save the extra for a garnish on top of the pie.  To the 1½ cup of crumbs add 6 Tbsp of butter, melted, and mix together well in a large bowl.  Transfer the crumbs to a pie plate and press into place evenly along the bottom and up the sides with your fingers or a large metal spoon.  Bake 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack until completely cooled.

Pie Filling: Using a mixer on low speed, beat together first nine ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well combined and creamy.  Scoop into crumb crust and spread until smooth on top.  Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 day before cutting and serving. 

Garnish with remaining crumbs, slivered almonds, a small piece of real honeycomb, and artificial bees from the hobby store, attached to the pie with toothpicks.

“Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

Masterminding A Mystery Dinner

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Masterminding A Mystery Dinner

This is such a fun way to serve supper … at a family reunion – which is what we did, or with a group at church, or any group really.  It would also be a great dinner to serve for April Fools, or a birthday party.  You can let your guests know that you will be serving a wonderful 4 course lasagna dinner, or perhaps a pot roast supper, or hamburgers and fries.  The meal is no mystery, it is how the courses will present themselves on each guest’s plate that is the riot. And that part is intirely up to your guests, bless their hearts, if they only knew what they were ordering (giggle).  You may want to ask in the invitations if anyone has any food allergies, so you can accommodate.

I purchased this boxed version almost 20 years ago, and have not been able to find it anywhere since, online or in any bookstore.  It was published by Oslund, Sonshine Company, Anoka, MN 55303.

MAMD Box version

For our Family Reunion, we modified it slightly.  My sisters, mom, and I served the meal, and we had 25 to 30 guests.  Each server was responsible for a table of guests.  We placed carrot and celery sticks in a relish dish at each table, and the guests were allowed to nibble on those while they waited to be served, although some who did found out later when their meal was served without a fork or spoon that a carrot or celery stick would have made a nice utensil.

the cooks

Here’s what’s in the box:

Box Contents

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8 Invitations (two sided)

Invitations (front)

FRONT

Invitations (back)

BACK

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8 Menus (two sided)

Menu (side A)

FRONT (fold in half)

Menu (Side B)

INSIDE (fold in half)

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8 Place Cards (cut apart on dotted lines)

Place Cards

These each fold in half and set up like little tents

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16 ID Cards

16 ID Cards

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Kitchen Set-up diagram sheet

Kitchen Set-up

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Recipes

Recipes

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and Instructions (two sided sheet)

front-side-of-instruction-sheet.jpg

(FRONT SIDE)

Instructions

(BACK SIDE)

The Instructions are too little for me to read off the scanned page so I’ve written them out for us…

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Masterminding a Mystery Dinner

New Testament Theme

“A Dining Experience You Won’t Forget”

CONTENTS:  8 Menus, 8 Place Cards, 8 Invitation, 16 ID Cards, Recipes.

OBJECT:  To enjoy an unforgettable, unpredictable and hilarious dining experience.

SERVING:  1 waiter for 4 dinner guests;  2 waiters for 8 dinner guests

DECODED MENU LIST:

1. Crowd Leftovers – Bread Mark 6:43
2. Christ’s Winnowing Tool – Fork Matthew 3:12
3. John the Baptist’s Lunch – Grasshopper Pie Mark 1:6
4. Prodigal’s Surprise – Roast Beef Luke 15:23
5 Symbol of Bitter Captivity – Lettuce Salad Passover Tradition
6. Circumcision Instrument – Knife Luke 2:21
7. Christ’s Frequent Prayer Place – Olives Luke 22:39
8. Hebrew Burial Cloth – Napkin John 20:7
9. Communion Element – Wine or Grape juice Matthew 26:27
10. Evil Protein – Deviled Eggs Matthew 4:1
11. Fruit of the Cursed Tree – Fig Bars Matthew 21:19
12. Prodigal’s Lunch with Pigs – Peas Luke 15:16
13. God’s Shekinah – Glorified Rice Hebrews 1:3
14. Carpenter’s Splinters – Toothpicks Matthew 13:55
15. Fruit of the Vine – Grapes John 15:4
16. Baptizer’s Sweet Tooth – Honey Nuts Matthew 3:4

 (All of the food items on the above list can be purchased from the grocery store, near-by deli or take-out, which would eliminate most preparation time.)

INVITATIONS:  Fill out invitation and mail two weeks prior to dinner.  (Dining attire suggestions: casual, formal, biblical, etc.)  (If your kitchen is near where you will serve your dinner guests, it is suggested that you conceal your kitchen with hanging sheets or tablecloths over the doorways.  This way your guests can’t peek!)

FOOD PREPARATIONS:

  1. Several hours before guests are expected to arrive, prepare the roast beef, pie, lettuce salad, deviled eggs, date bars, peas, and glorified rice. Refrigerate or bake according to recipe directions.
  2. On a flat surface in your kitchen, designate a space for each menu item, in order of sequence, by using on or the food identification cards. This will help the waiters as they pick items for each course for their customers.
  3. The table can be prepared as the host or hostess prefers. Write guest names on place cards and place cards where guests are to be seated.
  4. One-half hour before guests are scheduled to arrive, place the following items by their respective food identification card on the flat surface; olives (in juice), grapes, toothpicks, spoon, fork, knife, and napkins. (OPTIONAL: Waiters can change into dark pants and white shirts with bow ties at this time.  Also, appropriate music can be played.  Provide each guest with a glass of water.)

DINNER:

  1. As guests arrive, they can be welcomed to the Mystery Dinner and escorted to their appropriate place at the table.
  2. Before delivering the menus to the guests, each waiter selects which guests they will serve. It is helpful at this point to request that the guests fill out their orders in silence.  This avoids confusion and everyone discussing the menu selections. (Honestly, we allowed a little table talk.)
  3. Hand each guest a menu and a pen. Give them approximately three to five minutes to fill out their course selections
  4. During this five minutes, you can put the following items near their appropriate food identification card on the flat surface: roast beef (covered), bread, pie, lettuce salad, wine or grape juice, deviled eggs, bars, peas and rice.
  5. Now it is time for the waiters to collect the menus and begin selecting items for the first course for one customer. Once all four items have been picked, the plate can be served to the respective guest.  Continue with remaining guests.
  6. After the waiters have served their customers, they go back to their first customer and remove any remaining items from the first course and begin on the second course. Make sure they do not keep utensils.  This process continues until all guests have been served all four courses.  IT IS AS MUCH FUN TO BE THE SERVER AS IT IS TO BE SERVED!  ENJOY!

When we served our dinner we used a totally different menu; one that would be impossible to figure out.  This was our menu:

mystery dinner menu inside

And these were our 16 items, shown as the set up for our Kitchen:

Diagram B

You can go with a theme (Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Hawaiian, Southern Comfort Foods, BBQ, Seafood, etc.) in your food, decorations, and music.  If you chose a Mexican theme, you could use Mexican items as the code words on the menu (such as: sombrero, cactus, poncho, maracas, piñata, mariachis, chili peppers, serape, etc.). You could decorate with Mexican blankets and cactus centerpieces, and play Mariachi music. In place of the relish dish, you could offer chips and salsa (people could eat with a chip if they didn’t get a utensil and were desperate).  Encourage your guests to snap photos of the event and share them with you afterward.  Our party was before cell phone days, but I could kick myself for not setting out some disposable cameras.

If using paper plates, remember to buy plenty.  You’ll need a plate for each course for each person, so four plates per person X 8 guests would be 32 paper plates total.  You can use different size plates.  It would add to the humorousness having a large slice of lasagna and a slice of pie, if that’s what your guest ended up with, being served on an appetizer size plate, and equally funny to have a large dinner plate with only a toothpick, vegetable, napkin, and knife taking up space.

When the last person has been served the last course and all the plates have been taken away, that’s when servers can return each person’s menu to them and let everyone try to figure out which items were which code words.  All of the servers and kitchen workers should join the guests.  They will talk about how much fun that was and probably want to sit around and visit for a little while.

Dot and Scott

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”  Psalm 16:11

MrsH’s Great American Sandwich Blog

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MrsH’s Great American Sandwich Blog

Hey, Ms. Treva, I finally got a round to it. 🙂

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I was channel surfing a while back and happened upon a show (on the Travel Network I believe it was) all about famous sandwiches in America. The host, the lucky dog, got to run around the country and sample all the most celebrated sandwiches. Of course I drooled and dreamed of how fun it would be to have such an awesome job – although I may not be able to afford the damage to my mid-section. At any rate, it got me thinking, sandwiches are the perfect summertime food. No slaving over a hot stove or hot oven, hallelujah! In fact, I could serve them once a week, even make a special day for it – like “Sandwich Sunday” (sort of like “Taco Tuesday” and “Meatless Monday”). I’m really kinda digging this idea. I think my Dagwood husband would be rather pleased with the idea as well! He’s such a sandwich guy. 😉

Sandwich collage

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Kid Favorites

Grilled Cheese (served with Tomato Soup of course)

Does anyone ever out-grow grilled cheese? Honestly, my sixty-something man is still tickled when I set a grilled cheese sammy and a cup of tomato soup in front of him. Great inexpensive meal that’s easy to whip up for the two of us!!!! He likes his grilled cheese ooey gooey with white American and spicy Pepper Jack cheeses on buttered sour dough. It has to be real butter though, and real sour dough. Sometimes I use Texas Toast, and that is satisfactory to him. If I tuck a slice of grilled ham in the center with the cheeses, and a few slices of pickled jalapeno he becomes especially giddy. And it’s even better with a little sprinkle of garlic powder on the buttered side of the bread. Mmm mmm good!

Our favorite prepared tomato soup is La Madeleine’s, which comes in a jar and is creamy and delicious. We also like Amy’s. They are both really good mixed together, creamy + chunky and with a garnish of fresh Basil ribbons from my garden! YUM!!!

NOTE: Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, Asiago, Fontina, Gouda, Gruyère, Havarti, Muenster, blue cheese, and soft cheeses such as Brie and Camembert also melt well, Remember to remove the rind if using a cheese with one.

GrillCheese&TomSoup2 Reduced in size

Grilled Cheese kicked up a notch: lightly toast 4 pieces of sour dough bread and butter them lavishly on one side. Lay the slices buttered side down on a cookie sheet. Lay a thick slice of Gruyère on each piece of toast and set under the broiler until the cheese is just melted. Lay two or three pieces of crispy fried bacon on top of the melted cheese. Toast four more slices of sour dough bread and butter them on one side. Spread a layer of chunky apple butter or fig jam on the unbuttered side and place them jam side down on top of the bacon. Blue cheese, bacon, and fig preserves is a great flavor combination, and so is Gruyère with crispy bacon and blackberry jam. Re-create the taste of French onion soup by layering sweet, soft caramelized onions with nutty Gruyère cheese on toasted sour dough. Craving a bite that’s both sweet and savory? Try combining indulgent Camembert with crisp apple slices and caramel sauce. Or try Monterey jack cheese layered with roasted poblanos and a splash of Adobo on a nice buttery egg bread. See other suggestions at Food Network.com.

PBJ lunch - reduced in size

PBJ (served with a big fat dill pickle and salty Potato chips)

I’ve been a “choosy mothers choose Jiff” kind of gal, on soft white bread, and with the traditional strawberry jam or grape jelly, or sometimes with creamy honeycomb honey spread over buttered bread for as long as I can remember. The sandwich in my photo above was made with crunchy Peter Pan and my own homemade Texas grape jelly. I wish you could taste how delicious it is. Best grape jelly I’ve ever had in my life!!!!! I’m telling you, that sandwich barely made it through the photography session. I couldn’t wait to lick the drizzle dripping down the front. This is a picture of my wonderful grape harvesting experience. You can’t tell in the photo, but it was about 107 degrees that day, which made picking a pretty sweaty experience. It was so worth the trouble though. Oooo man.

Grape Harvest

Okay, now the great debate: What sides go with a PBJ? Well, the old stand-bys when I was a kid were Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, potato chips, dill pickle, fruit, or raw veggies. What were yours?

And then came the day that I thought to myself, like all the great thinkers before me, “What if…” and so I tried a PBJ HOT, and you know what? Not bad. Pretty darn delicious really, and kind of like stuffed French toast! I used my sandwich maker. Remember those? Do they still make them???

PBJ stuffed french toast

MrsH’s PBJ Stuffed French Toast

Preheat sandwich maker. Dot each cavity of the sandwich maker with butter just before placing sandwich on it. Make a peanut butter sandwich exactly the way you normally would with your favorite jam (I make a lot of homemade jams or fruit compotes and some of my favorites have been South Texas Grape jelly, Bourbon Habanero Apricot, Strawberry Rhubarb, Spicy Peach, Pecan Fig with lemon rind, Crab Apple Butter, Blueberry Lemon, and these wonderful bitter little kumquat type fruits that grow on a tree in my daughter’s yard made into marmalade – with a hint of vanilla bean – oh my it’s delicious).

Use a pastry brush to spread your egg/milk (French Toast) mixture on one side of your sandwiches and then lay them in the sandwich maker. Quickly brush on egg/milk mixture on the top slices of bread, dot with a little pat of butter, and close the lid over on the sandwiches and snap it closed. Cook as directed in the owner’s manual. *The reason I don’t dip my bread in the egg/milk mixture is that I think it makes the bread too soggy.

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Turkey

Hot Brown

This is an open-faced sandwich made famous for being served at the Kentucky Derby. Start with Texas toast, then layer on slices of turkey. Cover with a peppered white cheddar cheese sauce. Sprinkle with cheddar and parmesan cheese (broil to melt). Lay two slices of fresh heirloom tomato, two slices of crispy fried bacon, and finally garnish with sliced green onion and chopped parsley.

Hot Brown how-to-make

See my recipe at mrshlovesjesus.wordpress.com Kentucky Derby Party

Thanksgiving left-overs Turkey Sandwich

We’ve all made these, but how do you like yours? My dad liked his plain Jane: leftover yeast roll spread with butter, turkey, salt and pepper. The end!

I always liked to add some lettuce to mine. Then as I grew up I realized this sandwich could be a mini feast on bread, starting with soft wheat bread, lavished with mayo, a thin layer of stuffing, a chopped up jalapeno popper, sliced or pulled turkey (salt & pepper), maybe a thin slice of ham, a little spread of cranberry sauce, some sliced onion, and romaine lettuce. Tah-dah!

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TurkeyBacon Club

This is just as yummy on a hogie roll, or stuffed inside a pita as it is on nice soft wheat bread lightly toasted. Mayo, lettuce, onion, tomato, turkey, turkey bacon (fried crispy) and then repeat layers. Dagwood would approve!

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Ham

Hot Ham & Cheese

In Paris Croque Monsieur is sold from pushcarts on streets all over the city. Croque Monsieur is a classic French ham and cheese, straight from the streets of France. Savory sliced smoked ham and Swiss with a garlic cream Béchamel sauce and baked on fresh wheatberry bread. Bake this sandwich in the oven until it is hot, the cheese is melted, and the top is golden brown. Below a hot ham and cheese on rye is shown with a bowl of Polish Sichi.

Sichi and grilled ham and cheese on rye

Monte Cristo

A deep-fried ham and cheese sandwich, often served with a sweet jam dip. This looks like a pretty awesome recipe from Ashlee Marie!

AshleeMarie Monte Cristo

MrsH’s Ham Salad (Deviled Ham) Sandwiches

I usually always make this sandwich filling with leftover Easter ham (glazed spiral cut smoked ham). I have an old meat grinder that my mother-in-law gave to me, which works perfectly for grinding the ham into the perfect texture. To the ham I add mayo, mustard, horseradish, minced onion, pickle relish, and spices (cloves, pumpkin spice, allspice). These have been popular sandwiches for my Bowling League pot lucks, church pot lucks, Bunco, tea parties, baby showers, and so many other parties. My husband loves when I make a big batch of these, cut them into small triangles, stack them on a tray, wrap them up, and put them in his man-cave fridge so he can snack on them for several days. Don’t tell him but I often sneak out and steal one or two or three before they’re gone.

Ham Salad Sand

Click HERE for recipe from mrshlovesjesus.wordpress.com, Easter Dinner Cookbook

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Chicken

Chicken & Waffles

First you must have freshly made Belgian type waffles (the real authentic ones are made with yeast and pearl sugar – if you can find the pearl sugar please let me know where you got it in the US). You can add bacon and cheddar or chopped pecans to the waffle batter before making them. Season the flour for chicken breast pieces either with a Kentucky blend of traditional spices (oregano, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and paprika), or a spicy Cajun blend (basically the same but add cayenne powder and a little brown sugar). Brine your chicken breasts in a salt-water brine for a day, then cut the breasts into tenders. Dip each piece in a buttermilk egg wash and then dredge in seasoned flour mixed with a TBSP of cornstarch, and drop into hot oil in a cast iron skillet until crispy golden. Lay a waffle square on a plate and butter it. Lay three tenders on top and drizzle the whole mess with a honey maple butter dressing of one part melted butter, one part maple syrup, and one part Dijon mustard. Or serve with a Redeye gravy made with coffee, Jim Beam, and bacon. Sprinkle some chopped chives for garnish.

buttermilk_fried_chicken_waffle_sandwich_recipe1

Image and recipe from Cooking with Janica

MrsH’s Chicken Salad Sandwiches (for a crowd)

Click here for my recipe for this mouth watering, highly sought after recipe that will have your bowling league, your Bunco party, your Bridge Club, or the election judges and clerks you work at the next elections begging for the recipe!!!!!  >>>>>>>>  MrsH’s Chicken Salad for a Crowd!!!!!!  Serve with a raw veggie medley (carrot, celery, cucumber slices), or seasoned cottage cheese, or your favorite chips (I am a Sun Chips gal from waaaaay back), or all three…plus a nice iced Chai latte to wash it all down!

The Yard Bird

This famous sandwich from Slows BBQ restaurant in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit. Smoked pulled chicken breast mixed with some mustard based BBQ sauce and sautéed mushrooms, then piled on a buttered and toasted hamburger bun that’s been spread with a little mayo, topped with 2 pieces of almost crispy Applewood bacon and some shredded cheddar cheese. Slap on the top half of the bun and there you have it! The only thing to make this sandwich better is a Faygo and a bag of Better Made. Who you lookin’ at?

The Yard Bird

Shawarma

Hot-off-the grill marinated chicken is tucked into thick, soft pitas, along with lots of bold but mellow garlic sauce, and freshly sliced tomato and romaine.

Shawarma

Click here for recipe from EatingWell.com

Chicken Parm

Chicken breasts, sliced and pounded flat

Italian Bread Crumbs mixed with an equal portion of Panko Bread Crumbs

Eggs, beaten

Dip chicken breasts in egg, then toss in bread crumbs until coated. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, or fry in oil in frying pan until golden on both sides. If baking, top each chicken patty with a slice of mozzarella cheese and keep in oven until cheese melts. If frying, place a slice of mozzarella cheese on top of each piece about 4 minutes before removing from pan. Remove to paper toweling.

Butter and toast Kaiser rolls in the oven or on griddle. Place a chicken patty on the bottom piece of each roll. Spoon a generous portion of warm marinara sauce on top of each, possibly some basil leaves and mozzerella and/or parmesan cheese and broil it to melt the cheese. Place the top portion of the roll on top and serve.

chicken Parm Sand

Image and recipe from EatingWell.com

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Beef

Philly Cheese Steak

Philly cheesesteak

Recipe at BakerBettie.com

Gyro

gyro-beef

Recipe at BigOven.com

Brisket Sandwich

This is how we do it in Texas y’all!!!!

Reuben

reuben-sandwich

Recipe at Serious Eats

Hot Pastrami

Great Recipe HERE!

Meatloaf Sandwich

A great meatloaf sandwich starts with a great meatloaf. Shuffle on over to my “Worst Meatloaf on the Planet” recipe >>>click>>>(((( HERE ))))<<<click<<<!!!!!!

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Italian Meatball

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Image and recipe from Serious Eats

Hot Roast Beef (served open faced)

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Click HERE for this delicious recipe

Sloppy Joe

sriracha-bbq-sloppy-joes

Image and recipe from Lifes Ambrosia

French Dip

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Click here for Pioneer Woman’s fabulous recipe

Jazz yours up with caramelized onions, sauteed bell pepper (chopped), melted provolone and house-made horseradish sauce baked on a sourdough roll. Served with au jus.

Fried Bologna

fried-bologna-sandwich

Image and Recipe from Bon appetit

Steak or Chicken Rancheros Gordita (or torta)

chicken-gorditas-dsc7368

Image and Recipe from Homesick Texan.

Beef Patty Melt Sandwich

Could anyone’s recipe top Ree Drummond’s? Image and recipe found HERE

 

Pork

Pulled Pork Sandwich

habaneromolasses_pulledpork01

Click HERE for the recipe!!!!!!!

BLT

I make a Rosemary mayo for my BLT’s (Mayo and chopped rosemary, salt, pepper), and sometimes lay a ring or two of red onion, and slice or two of avocado on mine. I like the hardwood smoked bacon the best, fresh romaine lettuce, and black heirloom tomatoes. I prefer it on lightly toasted wheat bread, but have also made it like a giant sub using a fresh french loaf from the bakery. Good way to feed a crowd for family supper night. This is possibly my very favorite sandwich of all time. I tend to make a pig of myself with these!!!! LOL

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P.S. I was in a pinch one day a couple years ago with two hungry men and nothing to feed them as I hadn’t gone to the store. I searched my pantry for edibles I could throw together quickly and ended up with a can of Bacon flavor Spam in my hand. I cut it into fairly thin slices, maybe 1/4″ and fried it crispy on both sides and made BLT’s Spam-L-T’s with it. The men loved it. They loved it so much that I make it for them fairly regular now.

Smoked Sausage (Kielbasa) Sandwich

Start with a wide loaf of pumpernickel bread sliced thin and lightly toasted. split kielbasa in half lengthwise and then into lengths that match the width of the bread longways. Lay a slice of provolone cheese on the bread, and then squirt with a spicy course mustard, honey mustard, or mustard based BBQ sauce, then layer on a pile of squeezed dry sauerkraut – preferably a German variety. Top that with two or three pieces of keilbasa that has been fried crispy. Place another slice of cheese and then bread, then butter and grill like you would a grilled cheese sandwich.

Image and recipe for this version is at Genius Kitchen

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Seafood

Poor Boy (or Po-Boy)

Image and recipe from African Bites

Lobster Roll

Warm buttery Connecticut version

https://www.foodnetwork.com/fn-dish/recipes/2016/07/maine-versus-connecticut-style-lobster-rolls

Cold lobster salad Maine version

https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/maine-lobster-roll

Lobster Rolls

Image and recipe from Food Network

Filet O’ Fish Sandwich

filet-o-fish-copycat-recipe

Click here for RECIPE

Tuna Salad

Does anybody really have a recipe for this? Honestly, I just dump everything in a bowl and mix it up. I start with tuna packed in water. I drain off all the water and sprinkle on some dill weed and cracked pepper and then drench the tuna in lemon juice and let it sit while I chop up all the other ingredients. I chop up about half a small white onion, add to the onion about 2 tablespoons of sweet pickle relish and 2 tablespoons of dill pickle relish. I chop up a rib of celery, half of a bell pepper or jalapeno, and maybe 2 radishes. I then mix about a tsp of lemon pepper into a half cup of mayo and add the drained tuna, and then stir everything together. If it doesn’t seem creamy enough I add a little bit more mayo. Here is shown my tuna salad on a tomato, sprinkled with a little fresh dill weed, but it is lovely on bread with a leaf of romaine.

Tuna Salad on Tomato

I have also been known to lightly toast a bagel and then quickly lay a slice of swiss or provolone on the halves while they are still hot from the toaster, let the cheese melt, and then top each with a heap of tuna salad, for an open-faced tuna salad sandwich.

Tuna Salad on bagel -small

Aaaaaand I’ve also grilled tuna salad between slices of sour dough or wheatberry with swiss or provolone. If you like pasta salads, I’ve also mixed my tuna salad with macaroni or skinny ziti and served it with tomato, lettuce, cucumbers and a slice of toast. It’s all good!

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Mixed Meats

The Dagwood

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Muffuletta

(This is NanaBread’s Muffuletta Sandwich recipe, since she is Cajun and I am not)

1 round sourdough bread boule

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound thin-sliced deli ham (not a sweet one; use old-fashioned baked ham) (The traditional has ham, mortadella, and salami)

4 slices of provolone cheese

1/3 cup of mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip, people; use the good stuff)

1 small can of chopped black olives (4.25 ozs.; you only need half of the can)

24 small pimento-stuffed green olives

2 Tbsp. of juice from the green olive jar (trust me)

3 Tbsp. Italian Olive Salad Mix (optional, but use it if you can find it)

– – – – – – –

Start by slicing your sourdough boule horizontally; you’ll want the bottom to be about 1″ thick. Using your fingers or a spoon, remove some of the excess bread from the top, leaving a deep indentation in the dome of your boule. Drizzle one tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil over each half of the bread. If you need to, use your fingers to work the oil out to the edges and into the nooks and crannies. Place both halves oiled side down on a griddle until the bread is a beautiful golden brown. (If you don’t have a griddle, a non-stick skillet works just as well.) I also like to weigh down the top so the surface is pressed down onto the griddle.

While the bread is toasting, chop the green olives, open the can of black olives, and spoon out 3 tablespoons of Italian Olive Salad mix; set aside. One quick side note about the Italian Olive Salad: you may be wondering why I use olives AND an olive salad mix together. The answer is that the olive salad mix also contains a mouth-watering mix of other vegetables (cauliflower, peppers, carrots, celery) and spices preserved in olive oil. Do you have to use it? No. But if you can find it, the olive salad will add another extraordinary layer of flavor. Trust me.

There is a recipe on the jar and it is a little different than Nana’s

Once your bread is toasted to a beautiful, crispy golden brown, remove it from the griddle and place both sides face up on a cutting board. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and olive juice and blend until smooth (it will be a little on the thin side). Dress each half of the bread with the mayonnaise mixture. Make sure you spread it all the way out to the edges. It’s imperative. Okay, really it’s just so all the olives stick. Next, sprinkle your green olives and olive salad on the top half, and the black olives on the bottom half. Don’t fret about separating friends. They’re all coming to the party in the end. You’ll see.

Layer your thin-sliced ham over the top of your black olives, making sure the ham goes all the way out to the edges again. (Remember – no honey or maple glazed ham, please! It will ruin the flavor of the sandwich. You really just need a simple old-fashioned or baked deli ham here.) Arrange your provolone cheese slices over the top of your green olives. Place both halves face-up on a baking sheet and toast them under the broiler until the ham warms and the cheese turns into this gooey, gorgeous golden hue. Remove from the broiler.

Using a spatula, flip the top half onto the bottom half to bring your sandwich together. Everyone is at the party now, and they are all getting along famously. It’s world peace in a sourdough boule. Allow your muffuletta to rest for at least 5 minutes before you cut it. It will be hard. It may even seem impossible. If you need a distraction, grab an Abita Beer, a bag of Zapp’s Cajun Crawtator chips, and a handful of napkins. Once you’re ready, grab a serrated bread knife and cut the muffuletta into wedges, like you’re slicing a pie. Mmmmm….pie.

Don’t get fancy here and attempt to serve it on a real plate. This is bar hopping food. You want to slap that sucker on a paper plate or wrap it in a little butcher paper. Then settle in with your muffuletta, your cold Abita beer, that bag of zesty, crunchy Cajun crawtators and let your mind slip away to an enchanted land of live oaks, Spanish moss, warm breezes, hot beignets and hotter jazz. Oh, New Orleans…you are unforgettable. Happy Mardi Gras, y’all.

Muffuletta

The Cuban

Basically this is a juicy pork roast, ham, and Swiss cheese sandwich with butter pickles, and Dijon mustard, on a Cuban roll that is smash grilled to perfection. You can serve it with a cup of some of the braising liquid to dip the sandwich in while you eat it, and definitely it needs to be served with a side of fried plantains sprinkled with salt.

Cuban and Plantains - smaller file

Check out Tyler Florence’s recipe at Food Network

 

Veggie

The Benedictine

My twist on this Kentucky Favorite (recipe found here) is the addition of very thinly sliced radishes, minced sweet onion, and a little cluster of lovely alfalfa sprouts. Otherwise it is basically a shredded cucumber sandwich.  I also like to use the veggie cream cheese that comes in the small tub to spread the bread with. Oooooo fancy!

Benedictines

Falafel Sandwich

Recipe courtesy of Aaron McCargo Jr. featured at Food Network.com:

2 cups dried chick peas, soaked in water overnight

2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves

1 small onion, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 lemon, juiced

Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chick pea flour, if needed

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil, for searing

4 Mediterranean flatbreads (like Naan)

Arugula, for garnish

Cherry tomatoes, halved, for garnish

Red onion, sliced thin, for garnish

Smokey Tahini Sauce, for garnish, recipe follows

Smoky Tahini Sauce:

1/2 cup tahini paste

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup water

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley leaves

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon salt

Heat a grill pan until hot.

In a bowl, whisk all ingredients until a creamy consistency is reached.

For the Falafel:

Drain the chick peas. Place in food processor along with cilantro, parsley, onion, cumin, cayenne, garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Pulse until well blended. Consistency should be in the form of a paste. Place mixture in a bowl and form into 2-inch patties.

*Cook’s Note: If dry add 1 tablespoon water. If too wet, add chick pea flour.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add grapeseed oil. Add patties and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel lined platter to drain. Set aside and keep warm.

To assemble sandwiches: Add flatbread to a hot grill pan, to mark and warm on each side for 1 minute. Remove. Add 2 to 3 patties to each warm flatbread. Top with some arugula, tomato, onion and Smoky Tahini Sauce

Falafel Sandwich

Watch Big Daddy make this great Falafel Sandwich HERE

Grilled Portobello Sandwich

The best Portobello sandwich I ever had was from Alice’s Restaurant in Woodside, California.

I tried hard to duplicate it for a mother’s day luncheon at my house several years later. Good gracious it was delicious. I am pretty sure I found the copy cat recipe in one of those women’s magazines from the 90’s.

Make the dressing first so it will have time to cool.

Dressing: Place 1 cup of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to medium, stirring until vinegar has reduced, for about 5 minutes. Toss in 1 small minced garlic clove and then remove from heat. Allow to cool. Add ½ cup extra virgin olive oil and about a heaping ¼ tsp of freshly ground black pepper. Dressing may be placed in a dressing carafe to make it easier to shake and pour.

This sandwich is constructed in layers. Start by slicing sandwich size pieces of ciabatta bread (separating top crust from the bottom crust), cleaning the mushrooms, and slicing the onions. Lay the bread on a cookie sheet (crust sides down) and drizzle with olive oil. Preheat broiler (oven) and outdoor grill. Place the veggies on the grill and sear for about 3 or 4 minutes on each side until heated through. Meanwhile, place the bread under the broiler in the oven until lightly toasted. Remove bread from oven and veggies from the grill. Leave the bottom halves of bread on the cookie sheet, and the leave broiler on.

Lay a Portobello mushroom cap on top of each bottom slice of bread

Place a red onion slice on top of each mushroom

Place a slice of fontina cheese on top of each slice of onion.

Place in oven under the broiler until cheese is melted.

Arrange one or two basil leaves on top of the melted cheese

And top each sandwich with a tomato slice.

You could also certainly add roasted red pepper and avacado.

Drizzle each with a balsamic dressing (make sure to shake well for each sandwich).

Lean the top half of Ciabatta bread against the stack to serve, or place it on top and fasten with sandwich toothpicks, then slice each sandwich in half, corner to corner.

Colleen’s Pimento Cheese Salad

This is another one of those recipes I just make without measuring anything. So, here we go. To a small bag of shredded Mexican blend cheese I add about 1/2 cup of Mayo, 1 Tbsp of sweet pickle relish, 1 Tbsp of minced onion, and 1 Tbsp of pimentos from a jar. Mix it up until fully incorporated. Taste to make sure it is good. If a creamier consistency is desired add a little more mayo until it’s just right. Spread on white or wheat bread and serve with a nice tomato, onion, and cucumber salad.

Cheese Salad Sands with cucumber Salad

Veggie Flatbread Sandwich w/ olive cream cheese spread

Start by drizzling the flatbread or Naan with olive oil and grilling it on a hot preheated grill on both sides just until it is lightly toasted. Spread the bread with cream cheese (plain, chive, olive, or veggie flavors all work well), and then top with your favorite veggies: sliced cherry tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, arugula, green or black olives, thin sliced zucchini, thin sliced red bell peppers, chopped green onions, sliced marinated mushrooms, baby spinach, thin sliced cucumbers, sliced radishes, sliced broccoli, carrot ribbons, cauliflower, etc. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with a garlic infused olive oil. Enjoy!!!!!

Flatbread sandwich

Lindee’s Pinwheels

8-ingredient-15-minute-Sun-dried-Tomato-and-Basil-Pinwheels-An-easy-crowd-pleasing-summer-friendly-appetizer-or-snack-vegan-recipe-appetizer

See recipe for Sundried Tomato Basil Pinwheels at Minimalist Baker

See recipe for Italian Pinwheels at Mother Thyme

Egg Salad Sandwiches

My Egg Salad is a LOT like my deviled eggs as far as they both have virtually identical ingredients. I have a girlfriend who puts chopped up black olives in hers. She says that’s the way her husband’s mom used to make them, and the way he likes them.

Here it pretty much is, featured at Incredible Egg

Fried Egg Sandwiches

Simple enough. A fried egg, maybe some cheese, on buttered toast. Wooooooo! Makes your tummy stop growling anyways. 🙂

Fried Egg Sandwich - smaller file size

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I think that about covers it. Can you think of any sandwiches I’ve missed? Hope your summer is carefree and delicious!!! Happy sandwiching y’all!!!!

If you’re so hungry that you can’t wait to be served, go home and get a sandwich. But by no means risk turning this Meal (communion) into an eating and drinking binge or a family squabble. It is a spiritual meal – a love feast. The other things you asked about, I’ll respond to in person when I make my next visit.”

1 Corinthians 11:34 MSG

Bon Appetit!!!

MrsH’s “Girl Scouts” Hobo Supper in Foil

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MrsH’s “Girl Scouts” Hobo Supper in Foil

 

I grew up in a small town where there wasn’t a lot for kids to do but just be kids and play in the great outdoors.  That was plenty enough though, believe me.  My sisters and I made dirt houses lined with pebbles, floors swept down to the hard dirt, rocks and logs for furniture, and we served each other our fancy mud pie concoctions.  We played secret maze games between the sheets hanging on the line until we got hollered at to get away with our unclean hands.   We climbed Tank Hill just for something to do, and then tried to RUN down it without stumbling.  Sometimes we took a picnic lunch up there and ate it overlooking the town where we could watch all the goings on.  One time I climbed the tank – which was a mistake.  I guess I’m a little afraid of heights I found out.  My grandpa had to come and rescue me, and right after he called a welder to cut off the ladder so it couldn’t ever be climbed up by a kid again.  Oh dear!

We had bikes and rode them all over a whole vast network of oilfield roads, to secret places – under bridges, the old electric plant, and to the pond to catch frogs and salamanders and horny toads by the dozens, but hopefully not see any snakes – ’cause ewwww, girls don’t like snakes!  We all played ball or watched the games, and we all sat on the fences at the ranch rodeos and watched the cowboys do their stuff.  Sometimes they even let us run the hot-shot on the steers in the shoots, and open the shoot gates for the ropers.

Our little oilfield community had the first lighted baseball field, and the first lighted football field in the whole state.  We had a bowling alley, and a swimming pool, and in the winter we had a frozen pond to ice skate on. They say we even had a golf course, but it wasn’t like any golf course you’ve ever seen – just dirt and rocks and prairie, with flags stuck in holes here and there.  The clubhouse was just a corregated tin outbuilding, but it was something to do for those that are into that stuff!

If there was nothing else to do it was always fun to watch dad tinker with something in his shop, or tag along with him to his work.  I got to tag along once to the Blue Creek Ranch out by Kaycee, and they let me ride an old nag of horse all day long while dad fixed whatever it was they needed him to fix.  And my grandpa could be found in his massive garden most all summer.  It was fun to pick and eat peas while he watered and weeded.  I sometimes took my matchbook cars and made trails along the rows of corn.  I accidentally sat in an ant pile once though, and that wasn’t so much fun!  My grandma was always in the kitchen sowing or cooking.  And when me and my sisters stayed at her house, it was fun to play secretary with pens and notebooks in the garage.  Sometimes we’d nap with grandpa in the afternoons on the bed they kept out there, where the cool breezes blew through.

There was always a lady in town that taught piano lessons, and occasionally someone would travel through with gymnastics or dance classes, and our families all went camping and to the lake as often as we could.  My folks had a motorcycle and a scooter and we went for rides as a family, sometimes be gone all day!  And everyone in town met at the sand rocks to shoot off fireworks on the 4th of July – all of the families, and we shared our snacks and our fireworks with each other.  Sounds magical, doesn’t it?  It was!

We had a Girl Scouts troop and a Boy Scouts troop, and even a Boy Scouts camp on the Pine Ridge.  What in the world else does a kid need?  It was a wonderful life!

Girl Scouts was one of my fondest childhood memories.  I remember getting to go to summer camp (Camp Sacajawea) on Casper Mountain one year.  I got to ride on a bus up the mountain with a whole bunch of really nice bigger girls, singing old hippy songs all the way, and coolest of all, it was an over-nighter.  We made ditty bags out of bandanas and tied them to a stick (I’ve still got one of the nicer ditty bags we were given – shown in the photo below).  We filled them with snacks and water, and one of the days we used the ditty bag sticks as walking sticks and hiked to a really cool waterfall that flowed over a rock that we could walk behind (just like in the movie The Last of the Mohicans).  That’s the way I remember it anyway! 🙂  I remember doing crafts and selling cookies.  I remember one year being really ambitious to sell those cookies!  I ed Girl Scouts!

Girl Scouts memorabilia

This is a throw back meal from when I was a Girl Scout at Camp Sacajawea.  Very easy to make and I think it is delicious!  Of course we made S’mores for dessert – I’m pretty sure that was another Girl Scouts invention too!  😉

Hobo Foil Packs

This recipe feeds 4 to 6 people.

  1.  Peel and chop several cloves of garlic.  I did a whole bulb’s worth.
  2.  Wash a small bag of yellow potatoes, and a small bag of carrots, peel the carrots and then slice both into bite-size pieces  (figure on about 2 small potatoes and 1 whole large carrot per person)
  3.  Peel a yellow onion, cut in half, and slice it into quarter inch slices
  4.  Place all veggies in a bowl.  Salt and pepper to taste, and then drizzle generously with olive oil, toss to coat evenly, set aside
  5.  Mix 2 lbs of hamburger with 2 packages of dry onion soup mix, and a small minced jalapeno, a little salt and pepper, and mix well, then form into patties
  6.  Place a heaping ladle full of veggies into the center of a generous sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil
  7.  Lay a hamburger patty on top of veggies
  8.  Top with a spoonful of mushroom soup
  9.  Bring both ends of foil up and fold together to seal well on top, and then do the same on both sides.  Repeat making foil packets until all veggies and burger patties are used up.
  10.  Preheat BBQ grill, or campfire (or 350 *F oven), and when coals are hot and gray lay the packets on a grate about 6 to 8 inches above them
  11.  Let packets cook for 15 to 20 minutes and then carefully and gently flip and rearrange the packets so they can cook evenly on the other side for another 15 to 20  minutes.
  12.  Open one packet and test the veggies for doneness
  13. When done, remove the packets and serve one packet per person.

Step 5 - Grill 1 hour

Enjoy!!!!!!

Dinner Served1

“Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the way of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgement.  Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity.” 

Ecclesiastes 11:9-10

Mrs H’s Fish Tacos

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Mrs H’s Fish Tacos

Where were you when you first experienced fish tacos? Can you remember the day, the place, and the time?  Did the world stop spinning for just a moment as your tongue delighted in their savory goodness?  Were yours as life changing for you as mine were for me?  LOL!

Well, I first experienced FISH TACOS when we visited our daughter in Seattle.  She took us to the Experience Music Project, and during our tour there we decided to eat lunch in the little restaurant downstairs of that massive building.  It was a foodie little haven with a modest but eclectic menu.

I was a little sceptical about “fish tacos” when I first heard of them, having only an image of beef tacos in my head – with taco seasonings, lettuce, and cheese, but everyone I knew simply raved about them.  So, I decided to put my mommy money where my mommy mouth was and actually taste them before I judged them.  Best decision ever!!!!  They were out of this world, my new favorite food, and I’ve been just a little bit obsessed about them ever since.

They are easy to make from scratch, but now that I am cooking for two I often make them from doggie-bag catfish from our favorite local restaurant.

Ingredients

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For the Fish

Fish, just about any mild white fish works (Cod, Barramundi, Red Fish, Tilapia, etc.) about 1 nice sized piece per taco, so about 12 to 15 pieces (and at 3 tacos apiece, this recipe will feed about 4 or 5 people)

Seasoned Flour  (to 1 1/2 cups flour add about 1/2 tsp of each: garlic powder, paprika, ground oregano, onion powder, ground cumin, salt, sugar, and cayenne powder)  (or you can cheat and use a preseasoned fish fry coating, or a cajun spice  in place of the individual seasonings)

Beer or Dry White Wine (or water will also work in a pinch)

Hot oil to fry the fish in

 

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For the Slaw

1/2 of a red cabbage

1/2 of a green cabbage

1/2 of a large white onion

3 red radishes

1/2 cup cilantro

Juice of 1 or 2 limes (2 if they are small)

 

sauce for fish tacos

For the Sauce

2/3 cup sour cream

1/4 cup Mayo

2 ripe avocados

1/2 cup cilantro, very finely minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 lime

1 jalapeno (or serrano), very finely minced

Dash of Sriracha, to taste

Pinch of Kosher salt, to taste

 

Also need about 12 to 15 white corn tortillas and a little oil to soften them in

 

Directions

As a time saver, you can make the slaw and the sauce ahead of time – early in the day, and keep them in the fridge until ready to assemble.

Fish Taco Slaw

Shred the cabbages into thin strips and then give them a rough chop, cut the onion into the same size thin strips, slice the radishes into slices and then cut them into thin strips, and chop the cilantro.  Toss all together in a bowl and squeeze lime juice over.  Toss again to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and keep in fridge.

Fish Taco Sauce

For the sauce, mash the avacados with a fork until smooth.  Add to sour cream and mayo.  Stir in cilantro, garlic, and as much of the jalapeno or serrano as you prefer.  Squeeze lime juice in and stir.  Add Sriracha and salt to taste.  To make it really smooth you can whirl it in a food processor for a few moments.  Cover with plastic wrap and keep in fridge until ready to assemble.

 

Tortillas

Add a little vegetable oil to a skillet and place on medium high heat.  Add one tortilla at a time and soften by frying it briefly on each side and then removing to a paper towel lined plate.  Add oil to the pan as needed after several tortillas have been fried.  Cover tortillas with foil and place in a warm place until ready to assemble.

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Now, you can prepare the fish however you prefer.  If you like it grilled, you can season the pieces with a mixture of the same spices that are listed for the flour, and then just grill each piece a few moments on each side on an outdoor grill or indoor grill until it flakes easily.

If you like it fried, you can rinse the pieces off with cold water and then toss them in the seasoned flour to coat, and then fry them in hot oil (the same frying pan that you used for the tortillas) for a few minutes on each side until when tested they flake easily.

Or, if you like them batter fried (my fav), place peanut oil in a dutch oven or deep fryer enough so that the fish pieces will be completely covered, but make sure your pot is large enough that it won’t boil over when the fish are added a few pieces at a time.  Heat and keep the oil temp between 350 to 375 degrees F.  You can add beer or white wine to the seasoned flour (about an equal portion 1 to 1) and stir.  Add more liquid until it is about the consistency of a thin pancake batter, then dip your rinsed and patted dry pieces of fish in the batter and drop in hot oil and fry until when tested it flakes easily.

Or, if you have a mess of catfish that have been cornmeal battered and fried, the leftovers make excellent tacos.  I actually do this quite often.

To Assemble

BTW: I have some nifty taco plates that are awesome for taco assembly:

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Fish Tacos

Lay one (or two small) piece(s) of fish in the center of each tortilla, and then add a small mound of slaw, and finally top with a nice dallop of sauce.  Fold in half and enjoy.  Mmmmmm!  Just let your eyes roll back into your head while your tongue finds its happy place.  Wipe mouth and repeat, repeat, repeat.

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 “Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”  They answered Him, “No.”

And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.”    John 21:5-6 (NKJV)

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Polynesian Dinner Party

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Polynesian Dinner Party

 

I love theme dinners!  And Polynesian is one of those themes that has tons to offer… tons of great foods… lots of great music… and a motherlode of great activities.  That’s probably why luau parties are so popular.  They are great for a crowd (family reunions, company picnics, neighborhood get-togethers, graduation parties, youth group events, and so on).

That’s all well and good, but I had in mind something a little more intimate.  In my younger life, I had the idea to have monthly theme dinners just for family – just to make memories for my kids.  January’s theme was Chinese New Year, where we dressed up, ate Chinese foods, listened to Asian music, played some sort of Chinese games after dinner, and totally immersed ourselves in Asian culture for a night.  February was Cajun foods, music, and culture.  March was Irish.  April was Polish or Italian.  May was Mexican or Caribbean.  June was Polynesian or African.  July was American (which encompasses everything from BBQ to Burgers, to Hot Dogs in every variety).  August was South American or Australian.  September was Russian or French. October was German.  November was American Indian.  And December was Indian or Mediterranean.  That was my plan.  It was so much my plan that I wrote a whole book about it, but then I kind of lost my focus.  <Sheepish shrug>   Well, thankfully God has given me grandchildren, and a whole renewed interest in introducing them to the cultures and foods, and sounds, and pastimes of the world.  And the great thing is … SUMMER IS COMING!!!!  Which makes it a great time to introduce the kids to something fun and interesting and chase away those summer doldrums, not to mention it’s all kind of educational as well.

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Knickknacks, tanning mats, give a dog a fish bone.  The dollar store is a great place to look for decorations.  You can keep it simple (lay a bamboo tanning mat down on the table, set a tropical plant as a centerpiece, and lay out luau plates, cups, and silverware from the party store), or go hog-wild (outdoor party with mumus and sarongs, tiki lanterns, grass skirts, a limbo stick, kalua pig roasting on a spit, cold drinks in pineapples or coconuts, and a nice array of Makahiki games, Hawaiian crafts, and games).  Gotta have some Island music too (may I suggest Don Ho?), and maybe even get the kids ukuleles, and teach them to play an easy song.

After dinner, you can break out the limbo stick and challenge the kids to a contest, or try some hula hooping.  Then set the TV outside and gather the lawn chairs around for an outdoor movie night.  How about a marathon of old Gilligan’s Island reruns?  Or, for a real submersion into Hawaiian culture, make leis, learn to hula, set your back yard up with some of the Makahiki Games listed below, and watch a mesmerizing “Ha: Breath of Life” show on DVD.

Polynesian supper collage

Traditionally, a Hawaiian party would have deep pit roasted Kalua Pig, long rice (which is basically the same thing as Pad Thai rice noodles), some dish of sweet potatoes (purple), and Poi, or even Spam Musubi.  If it is your goal to introduce your family to Hawaiian culture, go with tradition.  I found some wonderful recipes HERE that I plan to try.

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Recipes

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COCONUT SHRIMP

Batter:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup dry white wine

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1 lb large tail-on shrimp, peeled and deveined, and patted dry on paper towels

1  7-oz pkg shredded coconut

Instructions:  Place peanut oil in deep fryer and set temperature to 375 degrees.  Mix flour with wine until smooth.  When oil has reached temperature, dip about 5 of the shrimp, one at a time in batter and then roll in coconut.  Drop into deep fryer and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until golden and curled.  Drain on paper towels.  Continue until all shrimp are cooked.

Melted jalapeno jelly makes a wonderful dipping sauce (remove lid from jar, warm in microwave about 1 min., stir and divide into little sauce cups).  Or see the sauce recipe later down on this page.  Serves 4

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SPICY POLYNESIAN WRAPS

Ingredients

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch strips

1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk

1 cup uncooked long grain white rice

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 Tablespoons curry powder (hot or mild as you wish)

1 tablespoon garlic salt

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 limes

10 (10-inch, thin) colored flour tortillas wraps

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup chopped green onions

2 Serrano chilies, (seeds discarded) minced (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place the chicken and coconut milk in a bowl, and marinate in the refrigerator 1 hour.
  2. In a pot, bring the rice and water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the flour, curry powder, and garlic salt. Drain the chicken, and discard marinade. Dredge chicken in the flour mixture to coat.
  4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the coated chicken strips 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and juices run clear. Squeeze lime juice over chicken, and discard limes.
  5. On each tortilla, place equal amounts of rice, chicken, coconut, and green onions, and sprinkle desired amount of Serrano chilies. Wrap burrito style.

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POLYNESIAN DIPPING SAUCE (for shrimp, or wraps)

Ingredients

13 ounces coconut milk

2 teaspoons green curry paste

1 tablespoon grated gingerroot

1 tablespoon grated lime rind

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons lime juice

Directions: 

Place coconut milk in a skillet and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes until reduced by a quarter – it should be the consistency of heavy cream. Stir in the green curry paste, ginger, lime rind, and sugar. Cook another 5 to 6 minutes or until sauce is thickened and fragrant. Stir in mint, cilantro, and lime juice. Cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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SPAM MUSUBI

3 cups cooked Sushi rice

4 sheets Spring Roll Wrappers (this is a MrsH modification: I’m not a fan of Nori)

1  12-oz can Spam

6 Tbsp Soy Sauce

6 Tbsp Hawaiian BBQ sauce

Furikake

I cut the end off of my Spam can with sissors to use to make my Musubi, and I used a wooden meat mallet to press the rice down.  After making my musubi I have decided Nori is just too healthy tasting for my taste, so after making it with Nori, I peeled the Nori off to eat it, and next time I’m going to try making it with rice paper (Spring Roll Wrappers) instead.  I also didn’t care for the Furikake (rice seasoning) because of the seaweed that was in it.  The one I used was Wasabi Fumi Furikake.  It had a good flavor that really does need to be there, but just warning you not to go hog wild with it if you aren’t a seaweed fan.  I do like wasabi and sesame.  And I added chopped green onion. Maybe there is a variety of Furikake without seaweed???

Spam Musubi

Prepare the Rice as per package instructions.  Allow to cool.  Meanwhile, cut the Spam into eight equal slices.  Fry the Spam in a frying pan until very crispy on both sides.  Mix soy sauce with BBQ sauce and pour over Spam.  Stir around and flip until sauce is carmelized onto the Spam.  Remove from heat.

This is the process for making the musubi:  (shown using Nori seaweed)

Musubi procedure

Cut each sheet of Nori in half.  Lay half a sheet down on a clean paper towel.  Place Musubi press (Spam can) in the center.  Add about a heaping tablespoon of rice and press down.  Add a sprinkle of Furikake.  Place a slice of Spam on top.  Sprinkle with more Furikake and add another heaping tablespoon of rice.  Press it all down firmly and hold down while lifting can off.  Wrap Nori around.  Cut each finished roll on the diagonal and serve.  *Below is what Musubi looks like without the seaweed wrapper.  I wrapped my musubi up in plastic and refrigerated them overnight.  The next day I removed from fridge, peeled off the Nori, and cut them into bite-size slices.  Much better!

Spam Musubi naked

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HAWAIIAN SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

5 medium Sweet Potatoes, baked in 350*F oven for 1 hour, until soft

2 green bananas, diced

1 cup diced and crushed fresh pineapple

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp butter, melted

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp salt

 Juice of 1 lime (also the zest)

2 Tbsp Cocunut syrup (may substitute honey)

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup crushed macadamia nuts

After potatoes have cooled, peel the skins off and discard skins.  Slice the potatoes into inch thick slices and lay in a single layer in a buttered oblong baking dish.  Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and drizzle with melted butter.  Add a layer of pineapple and bananas.  Press down with a spatula to mash the potatoes slightly.  Mix lime juice with coconut syrup and pour over potatoes evenly.  Sprinkle with coconut and macadamia nuts in an even layer.  Cover and bake in a 300*F oven for about 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 15 mintues until toasted on top.  You can also broil the dish for a few minutes to toast the top if you wish.

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HAWAIIAN LONG RICE  (MrsH’s super easy version)

Cook a box of Pad Thai rice noodles as directed on package.  Drain off most of the water, but leave the noodles a little soupy.  Add a can of Campbells Creamy Chicken soup to the noodles and stir to mix.  Serve with chopped green onion for garnish.

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GRILLED PINEAPPLE

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Dessert

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ISLANDER’S COCONUT CREAM PIE

1 prepared pie crust, baked as directed for cream pies

1 package of vanilla pudding, the kind that cooks, not instant

1 package coconut flakes

1 container of Cool Whip with 1 tsp. rum mixed in

Broken, slivered almonds

Cook pudding as package directs using 1/2 cup less liquid.  Add 1 cup of the flaked coconut to the pudding and stir to mix.  Pour into prepared crust and spread to fill evenly.  Chill until set.  Spread Cool Whip over pudding in piecrust.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flaked coconut and then almonds over the top.  Chill to set.

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HAWAIIAN PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

Ingredients

1 8-oz can Dole pineapple slices, drained  (reserve juice for serving)

1 stick butter

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

6 maraschino cherries, halved

In an large oblong cake pan melt butter and stir in brown sugar.  Arrange pineapple slices next to each other in three rows of four. Place a half of a cherry in the center of each pineapple.

Cake Ingredients

2 ½ cups All-Purpose flour

3 tsp. Baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 stick butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 tsp Vanilla

2 eggs

1 ½ cups milk (or substitute Coconut Milk)

Combine dry ingredients and set aside.  Beat softened butter with sugar and vanilla.  Add eggs one at a time beating after each.  Stir in dry ingredients and milk.  Beat with a mixer until thick and creamy.  Pour over pineapple slices in large baking pan.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.  Serve warm.  If you desire your cake a little more moist, drizzle with reserved pineapple juice.

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Beverages

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Iced Thai Tea, my latest addiction!!!!!

THAI TEA

1 pkg Thai Black Tea bags (available at World Market)

Water

Sweetener (sugar, agave nectar, honey, Stevia, as you prefer)

Half & Half

Place 8 teabags and 8 cups of water in a saucepot and bring just to the steaming point on high heat on the stovetop, and then remove from heat. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes.  The tea will become dark orange colored.  Add whatever choice of sweetener to taste, I like this tea a little on the sweet side.  When the tea has cooled, pour it into a pitcher and chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

To serve:  Pour tea over ice in a tall glass.  Gently add Half & Half by the Tablespoonfuls until the top 1/4 of the glass is filled.  Add a straw and serve.  Let guests stir the cream into the tea before drinking.

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TROPICAL SMOOTHIES

Ingredients

1/2 ripe mango (peeled and seeded)

 1/2 ripe papaya (peeled and seeded)

 1 ripe banana

 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

 1/2 cup Cream of Coconut

 1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt

 1 tsp. honey

 2 cups ice

Directions

In a blender, mix mango, papaya, banana, orange juice, coconut cream, yogurt, honey, and ice. Blend until velvety.  Serve in martini glasses and garnish with mini skewers of pineapple chunks.

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Other Adult Beverage options: 

Fire Rock Pale Ale (beer) or Spearhead Pale Ale

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Cocktails

FROZEN MAI TAI

1 cup of ice

1 oz. light rum

1/2 oz. dark rum

1/2 oz. Apricot Brandy

1/2 cup fresh or canned pineapple

Splash of sour mix & Splash of orange juice

Blend all ingredients in a blender for 4 seconds on low speed.  Garnish with lime and orange slices, and a little paper umbrella. I f you want to make it non-alcoholic just use 1/2 tsp of brandy flavoring  and 1 1/2 tsp of rum flavoring in a half a cup of soda water with the other ingredients.

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CAPTAIN MORGAN’S Piña COLADA

1/2 cup ice

2 oz. light rum

2 Tablespoons Cream of Coconut

1/2 fresh or canned pineapple

1 Tablespoon vanilla ice cream

Pineapple chunks, cherries, umbrellas for garnish

In blender blend until smooth.  If too thick add fruit or juice.  If too thin add ice or ice cream.  Garnish with Pineapple and Cherry, and a little paper umbrella.  You can use a mix to make these if you would rather… and you can make them non-alcoholic by substituting rum flavoring and soda water.

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Traditional Island games

Walk on Hot Coals

Dig a shallow pit about three feet wide by six feet long and fill it with charcoals.  Add starter fluid to get the charcoals burning.  Cover them completely with medium-sized smooth rocks and let the rocks get hot.  Any guests who are brave or foolish enough may hop across the rocks with their bare feet.

 ‘O‘O Ihe  (Spear Throwing)

Spear throwing contests were held to display strength and skill for fighting and food gathering. A target, sometimes the stalk of a banana plant, is set up and contestants stand some 15 feet away and attempt to stick a lightweight wooden spear in it.  Watch the video below, which features spear throwing and other traditional games.

A great alternative for the littler ones would be the inflatable Fish Spearing Game at Party America.com or Party City.com, if they still carry it as of the time of this writing.  If not, this is what it looks like and you can make your own version out of a an old toilet seat (padded and decorated) and a bamboo stick.  Hang it in a tree in the corner of the yard.

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‘Ulu Maika’ (Rolling Stones)

Based on ancient Hawaiian Makahiki games, this game is played similar to horseshoes.  Stones somewhat resembling modern hockey pucks were rolled between stakes on specially prepared courses to test a player’s skills, or rolled down long courses to show strength. One of the best of the remaining ‘ulu maika courses, approximately 500 feet long, is located on the island of Moloka’i.

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Moa Pahe‘e (Dart Sliding)

Using a wooden dart, which resembles a very small bat without the little grip stop on the end (maybe 8” long) with the skinny end and the fat end, you grasp the skinny end and toss the dart like a bowling ball between two stakes.

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Conch Blowing

Blowing a conch shell takes skill: you have to know how to purse your lips, where to place them for the best sound, and how hard to blow. (The sounds made by a novice are hilarious!)

Foot Races

Ancient Hawaiians used to hold foot races to see which warrior was the fastest.  You can hold single person races, three legged races, and backwards running races.  Watch the first video above, under spear throwing, for an example.

“Haka Moa”

Type of Hawaiian Luau fighting.  The contestants do not use their hands, and can only stand on one foot, and try to knock their opponent out of the ring.

Tug O’ War

To play this game you will need a 20’ length of rope, a 6’ length of rope, and a bandana.

Divide your guests into two equal teams.  Choose a large grassy or sandy area to play.  Place the 6’ rope on the ground in the middle of the chosen area.  This marks the centerline.  Have teams line up in single file on either side of the centerline, arms length apart.  Tie the bandana in the center of the 20’ rope and place over the centerline.  Each player grabs the tugging rope and at the signal tries to pull the first member of the other team over the centerline.

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Card Games

HIGO BANA

This is a card game played with special Hana Fuda cards.  I was introduced to it by a friend whose mother was Japanese.  She gave me a set of these cards many, many years ago.  I’ve even forgotten how to play it has been so long.  So I went online to see if I could find the rules.  How thrilling to find that this game is played by native Hawaiians under a different name.  The cards do not have numbers on them, only beautiful pictures, but they have point values.  Along with the rules I found some vendors who sell the cards.

  • Rules to Higo Bana were found at these web sites:

http://www.gamecabinet.com/letters/Hanafuda6.html

http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/town/avenue/pd49/pockets/games/higobana.htm

Compare them for a better understanding of the game.

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Crafts

Make leis  (wikihow)

Make Tiki face masks  (look for ideas on Pinterest and this easy one from Crayola)

Make grass skirts  (wikihow)

Make palm leaf place mats

 

Other Activities

Translate Your Family’s Names into Hawaiian  

There are only 13 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet: A, E, H, I K, L, M, N, O, P, U and W. The consonants H, K, L, M, N, P, and W are pronounced exactly as in English. If a name ends in a consonant, add a vowel. Always place a vowel between consonants. The following conversion table can be helpful in translating names:

Pronunciation of Vowels

A – ah
E – ay
I – ee
O – oh
U – oo

English Consonant

= Hawaiian Consonant

B, F, P P
C, D, G, J, K, S, T, X, Z K
L, R L
V, W W
J, Y I

 

Name Translation Examples:

Colleen = Kaliline                    Gracee = Kalakee                     Patty = Pakaki

Matthew = Makahewe           Carrie = Kalalie

Danielle = Kanielele               Michael = Mikala

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Face Painting

Hawaiian Face Painting

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General Hawaiian Customs

Add some true Island spice to your dinner with genuine Island customs:

Placing a lei over someone’s head is the customary way to welcome or congratulate them.  If the person is close in relationship to you, you would give them a honihoni (kiss) also.  Leis are usually made of flowers, but can also be made of candies or other decorative items.  And when your lei starts to fade and die, don’t toss it in the trash.  It is bad luck to throw a lei away.  A lei is love and you would never throw love away.  Rather cut the string and cast the flowers into the sea or hang the lei outside until it is gone.

I love that it is the custom in Hawaii for young ones to refer to older people as “auntie” or “uncle” when they are old family friends or neighbors of the parents.  That is how we raised our kids to do.  In Hawaii it is appropriate even to address a stranger as “auntie” or “uncle.”  It is friendly yet respectful.

You would never walk into someone’s home in the islands with shoes on.  And it is good manners to bring a small gift with you, possibly a dessert, when visiting someone’s home.  There is a pidgin phrase, “Make Plate” or “Take Plate” that also shows good guest manners.  When you have been invited to share a meal at someone’s home it is customary that you make a plate of food of the leftovers to take home, even if you don’t intend to eat it.  By doing this you are being a good guest and not leaving the mess for the host to clean up and put away.  Many times all the leftovers are packaged up and taken to the homeless.

Unless you are at a sporting event, it is considered rude to talk loudly, or to act like you are entitled to special treatment.  Politeness and reserve are considered a show of good breeding.

Dress is casual, aloha shirts and slacks are worn in place of suits and ties in business, and it is considered rude to stare or look someone in the eye for too long in public places.  And when you go away on a trip it is considered thoughtful to bring back gifts “makana” from your journey.  Most prized are special foods that are unavailable at home.

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I’m so happy you stopped by, and I pray your family supper night is such a huge hit that it becomes a favorite monthly tradition.  God bless!

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“Let love be without hypocrisy…be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another…distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.”   Romans 12:9-13

 

Mrs H’s Tacos

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Mrs H’s Tacos

Get ready for TACO TUESDAY!!!!!!  This might be one of the more coveted recipes in my collection.  I am often asked how I make my tacos.  It is also a frequent request for Family Supper night by daughter, son-in-law, and the grandkids.  It’s one of my husband’s favorite dinners, and really one of my favorites too!!!!  Quick and easy!!!!

Let’s start with the meat

Taco meat

I use 2 lb. of quality ground beef (to feed 4 adults and 2 kids) – a good organic, grass fed, angus beef.  I break it apart in a frying pan and toss while cooking over medium high heat until browned.  Drain off and discard the fat .  I then sprinkle 2 packets of Lawry’s Taco Seasoning Mix over the meat, and then I fill the empty packets with water and pour the water over the seasoning and stir it well into the meat, with the heat turned down to medium low.  To this I add about a half cup of salsa (fresh or canned) and stir that altogether.  I then let the meat simmer on low heat until the tacos are ready to assemble.

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The meat will become drier the longer it simmers.  I personally like it dry so that it doesn’t make the bottom of my tacos soggy.  I don’t like when they fall apart and all the stuffing falls out.

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Pico de gallo

I use about 1 1/2 cup of chopped sweet cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped fresh jalapenos, and 1 cup chopped green onions (or a small sweet white onion if I don’t have green onions on hand), then add about 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, 2 cloves of garlic minced, the juice of two limes, and a sprinkle of salt to taste.  If the jalapenos are really mild, I sometimes add a pinch of cayenne for some kick.

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Toppings

I chop one whole bunch of Romaine lettuce into small shreds.

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I like to shred my own cheese (pepper jack) when I’m feeling ambitious, but often use a Mexican cheese blend that is pre-shredded already.

Taco Shells

Taco Shells

I buy the small Old El Paso brand taco shells (2 pkgs to feed my family of 4 adults and 2 kids because the men will easily eat 6 tacos apiece or more).

Taco Shells in oven

I preheat my oven to 360*F, and set the shells in a baking pan.  When the oven is ready I pop the pan of shells in for about 6 minutes, or whatever time is recommended on the package.  This is an important step because it makes the shells nice and crispy!!!

 

 

Taco Sauce

I actually use a variety of sauces.  I like to try new ones.  The green tomatillo Herdez or La Costena hot sauces (medium) are both really good standbys.  I like the Taco Bell hot sauce (Diablo), and the DelPrimo sauces are all good.  But my favorite of recent is El Gallo flame roasted Jalapeno.  It comes in a bag with a little screw top spout (medium).

Taco Assembly2

To assemble the tacos I remove the shells from the oven and quickly fill them with meat, dispersing it evenly among the shells.  I sprinkle cheese over the meat in each shell, and then add the lettuce.  They each then get a spoonful of my fresh Pico and a generous pour of tomatillo taco sauce.  That’s it!  Mmmmmm…. let’s eat!!!!!!

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Now some people might like to add chopped black olives, maybe some sour cream, possibly some sliced avacado, and that’s all good, but personally, I can’t bear to mess with perfection.

If you’d like to add a couple of sides, I love charros or refries and Mexican Rice.  And you can never go wrong with Sopapilla Cheesecake for dessert!!!!!  Hubby washes his meal down with a good Modelo cerveza!  I just like iced tea.  Gracee will take a Margarita, if I make her one, and the kids like horchata.

Hey, while we are enjoying our Family Supper, may I share with you from the book One Year of Dinner Table Devotions & Discussion starters by Nancy Guthrie (published by Tyndale)?

 

Devotion

Oooo Eeee Cajun Feast

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Oooo Eeee Cajun Feast

Whether you are looking for a fun dinner party for Mardi Gras, or just LOVE hot and spicy Cajun food in the middle of the winter, these recipes will have you smacking your lips for more.  This is a collection of my most favorite Cajun recipes.  Good luck choosing which dishes to make first.  If you are like me, you’ll want to just celebrate NOLA for the whole month of February with a different Cajun dinner each weekend!

This was one of my favorite meals I did with my family one year for my dad’s birthday, and also on another occasion with my cooking club friends.  It’s a ton of fun!  Be careful though, it’s a little bit of a choke-fest if you do the crab boil indoors.  Plan to have some sort of good ventilation, or else cook that dish outdoors.

One the Menu:

Crab Boil at Sarah's

SHRIMP & CRAB BOIL

Shrimp Gumbo bowl4

SAUSAGE & CHICKEN GUMBO

Bananas Foster at Sarahs

BANANAS FOSTER

SHRIMP ETOUFFEE

If you buy an Etouffee mix and add shrimp or crawfish to it, you’ll end up with something that resembles brown gravy over rice with crawfish in it. It has a good flavor, but nothing beats homemade! I like mine on the spicy side, so I am fairly generous with the cayenne! The trick to getting just the right spice is to add some in the beginning, some during cooking, and some at the end.

2 lb Good Quality Shrimp, Peeled and Deveined
          (Use the shells to make a shrimp stock – recipe below)

2 Tbsp Creole Seasoning
          Make your own: 2 Tbsp Paprika, 1 Tbsp Cayenne powder, 2 Tbsp garlic powder, 1 Tbsp onion powder, 1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper, 1 Tbsp kosher salt, 1 tsp packed brown sugar, 1 tsp each freeze-dried chive, thyme, oregano, and cilantro. Whirl in a coffee grinder or Bullet until blended and a fine powder. Store in a tightly sealed container. Use within 1 year.

4 Tbsp Butter
½ Cup Onion, Chopped
¼ Cup Celery, Chopped
¼ Cup Bell Pepper, Chopped
¼ Cup Flour
1 ½ Cups Shrimp Stock
¾ Cup fresh Tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp minced Garlic
I bundle of Fresh Thyme
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Hot Sauce (Crystal or Louisiana Gold)
Also: salt, black pepper, and cayenne to taste
½ Cup Green Onions, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp minced Italian Parsley
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
Rice (I like Comet Long Grain Rice, prepared as directed on the package)

Place shrimp in a Ziploc bag. Season with 1 Tbsp of the Creole Seasoning and shake to coat on all sides. Store in refrigerator until later.

Make the shrimp stock now, recipe follows. Cook the rice. I usually cook mine and then set it off the burner without lifting the lid and let it rest for a while (maybe 20 to 30 minutes) to let it dry out a little. These three things can be done the day before and stored in the fridge.

Melt the butter in a large skillet; add the onions, celery, and bell pepper. Sauté until translucent. Whisk in the flour to make a blonde roux, stirring constantly, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 Tbsp Creole Seasoning.

Add a small amount of the shrimp stock, stir well to form a paste, add the remaining stock gradually, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. You may need a little more stock, but the end result should be the consistency of a gravy, not too thick, not too thin.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, thyme, Worcestershire, and hot sauce, salt to taste (yes, taste it), black pepper, and cayenne. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Add the seasoned shrimp that’s been holding in the fridge, green onions, and parsley, simmer for 10 minutes more or until the shrimp are cooked through. Stir in the 3 Tbsp butter, and adjust the seasonings to taste.

Serve over hot cooked Rice. If the rice was prepared the day before it can be reheated in the microwave for a minute or two. Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a main dish.

Shrimp Stock Recipe

The Shells and tails from 2 lb. of Shrimp
½ Cup chopped Onion
¼ Cup chopped Celery
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Lemon sliced
2 Fresh Bay Leaves
3 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
1 tsp. Black Peppercorns

Add all ingredients to a 2 qt. saucepan. Cover this with cold water, it should be about 6-8 Cups. You’ll need 1 ½ Cups for the Etouffee. Bring almost to a boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. Strain.
Tip: When adding fresh Thyme to a simmered dish like this, I always bundle the Thyme tightly with butchers twine. The leaves will remove themselves while cooking, and you will get all of the flavor from the stems. When ready to serve just remove the bundle of stems along with your bay leaves.

(This recipe was adapted from one found HERE )

Mardi Gras 1

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Gumbo.

CAJUN SEAFOOD GUMBO (or Chicken and Sausage Gumbo)

Ingredients

12 ounces fresh or frozen peeled and deveined shrimp (or 2 chicken breasts)

6 ounces fresh or frozen crabmeat (or Andouille sausage)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup cooking oil

½ cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped red sweet pepper

½ cup chopped green sweet pepper, &/or 2 jalapenos

4 cloves garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon ground red pepper, more to taste

3 cups chicken broth, heated

1 14-1/2-ounce can tomatoes, cut up

1-1/2 cups sliced okra or one 10-ounce package frozen cut okra

2 bay leaves

3 cups hot cooked rice

Directions:
1. Thaw shrimp and crab, if frozen (or cut chicken into bite-size pieces and brown in butter in a frying pan).

For roux, in a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven combine flour and oil until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium. Cook and stir about 10 minutes more or until roux is light peanut-butter-brown.

2. Stir in onion, red sweet pepper, green sweet pepper, garlic, salt, black pepper, and ground red pepper. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are just crisp-tender, stirring often.

3. Gradually stir in hot chicken broth. Stir in undrained tomatoes, okra, and bay leaves. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

4. Stir in shrimp, and crabmeat (or andouille). Simmer, covered, about 5 minutes more or until shrimp turn opaque and oysters curl around the edges. Discard bay leaves. Serve in bowls with rice. Makes 6 servings. For extra heat add Creole seasoning, cayenne, or Louisiana Hot Sauce.

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JAMBALAYA

I like the boxed Zatarains mix, and usually add leftover cooked chicken, andouille sausage, and shrimp (or crawfish) to it. Easy-peasy!

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CRAB BOIL

1 box Zatarains Crab Boil
1 whole Dungeness crab, or 1 pound king or snow crab legs
1 pound crawfish
2 pounds shrimp (whole, or shell on)
1 bag small red or fingerling potatoes
1 pound Andouille sausage
4 cobs of corn on the cob, broken into 2 inch pieces
Cajun seasoning (like Slap Yo Mama)
Garlic butter (3 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced, and added to 3 sticks melted butter)

Instructions

Using either a large soup pot with a lid or electric turkey fryer, fill with 3 quarts water. Bring to boil and add salt, plus 1 bag of Zatarain’s Crab Boil (if doing this indoors you will want all the windows and doors open because of the fumes – best done outdoors), 1 lemon quartered, and cayenne pepper to taste. Place the basket inside your fryer. If you are using a soup pot you will just have to pour the liquid out at the end and catch your pot contents with the lid or in a colander. Drop in crab and boil vigorously for 5 minutes (unless you are using precooked frozen, in which case you will add it with the shrimp at the end). Add potatoes and broken cobs of corn to the pot and boil vigorously for 10 minutes. Add the crawfish, chunks of andouille, and shrimp. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow seafood to remain in water for 5 minutes after boiling.

Lift contents from water or drain water off (save, strain, and freeze for use in other dishes). Drizzle seafood with melted butter and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Toss to coat. Cover your table with a plastic tablecloth; lay a beach towel or two over that and then lay butcher paper over the whole top. Dump the pot contents out on the butcher paper, in the center of the table. Place lemon wedges and extra cups of garlic butter around. Let everyone help themselves, eating with their fingers. You will want to have plenty of paper towels nearby and possibly bibs. Be sure to have some crab crackers and forks available too.

Crab Boil at Sarah's

Photo by Sarah Gaitan

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Sandwiches (for a luncheon)

Poor Boy  (<<< click the link for a great recipe, and little story about how the Poor Boy originated)

Shrimp Po’ Boy  (<<< click this link for a killer recipe for this sandwich)

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Muffaletta

I got super lucky one day and found little bundles in my grocery store’s (HEB) lunchmeat counter of the three meats for this sandwich.  The packages were nestled in among the shredded cheeses, near the Lunchables section.  The bundles contained the three meats grouped on top of each other and laid on parchment paper, and then stacked on top of each other, enough for four sandwiches.  I bought two packages feeling very lucky, because it is impossible to find mortadella or cappicola in my town.  And to my chagrin I’ve never seen them again.  My HEB carries foccacia, but doesn’t carry the bread boules or the Olive Salad, so I’m sure the meat was a mistake purchase, but Walmart carries the Olive salad, and often has bread boules, the clam chowder size ones.

So, this is a link to Emeril’s recipe (simple) for the sandwich.  And this is another little bit more involved recipe I found in a recent search.

3 Cajun Supper

Beverages:

COFFEE AU LAIT
6 rounded tablespoons dark roast New Orleans coffee with chicory (Café Du Monde or Community Coffee)
6 cups water
6 cups milk

Brew your coffee in a drip coffeemaker and serve with half coffee and half scalded (not steamed!) milk.
Scald, do NOT boil, the milk. Pour coffee into warmed large mugs, then add the milk. If you like yours sweet, add two teaspoons of sugar to the cup. YIELD: 12 cups

Iced Tea

Make a gallon of sun tea using a family size tea bag (black and orange pekoe tea) and fresh, filtered, cool water. Set your glass container in the sun and let it brew until a rich brown color, about an hour or so on a hot summer day. Remove tea bag and chill in the refrigerator. I am a big fan of the cold brew tea bags! Just fill your container, add tea bags, and put in fridge. It brews in no time, is never cloudy, and tastes pretty darn close to the sun brewed.

In the south they love their tea sweet. It is easy to serve both sweet and unsweet by making a simple syrup that will dissolve quickly in iced liquids. You can make a quart of simple syrup by dissolving 5-6 cups of sugar in 3 cups of cold water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once it’s dissolved and clear, cool and pour into a bottle with a lid. Store in the refrigerator – writing the date that you made it on the jar. If you notice it starts to turn cloudy or get moldy, toss it and make some fresh. Use for sweetening tea, coffee and cocktails. If you’re not going to use it right away, dilute it with 6 more cups of water and fill your hummingbird feeders.

Abita Amber beer

Mardi Gras 2

Cocktails:

SAZERAC
1 teaspoon of simple syrup (see recipe above) 3 – 4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters 2 ounces rye whiskey (most New Orleans bars use Old Overholt) ¼ teaspoon Herbsaint, a New Orleans brand of anise liqueur (You may use Pernod, or some other pastis or absinthe substitute) Strip of lemon peel

The traditional method: Pack a 3-1/2 ounce old-fashioned glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, moisten a sugar cube with just enough water to saturate it, then crush. Blend with the whiskey and bitters. Add a few cubes of ice and stir to chill. Discard the ice from the first glass and pour in the Herbsaint. Coat the inside of the entire glass, pouring out the excess. Strain the whiskey into the Herbsaint coated glass. Twist the lemon peel over the glass so that the lemon oil cascades into the drink, then rub the peel over the rim of the glass; do not put the twist in the drink).

HURRICANE (It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!)
1 ounces light rum
1 ounces dark rum (151 proof)
1.5 ounce orange juice
1.5 ounce fresh lime juice (NOT Rose’s or RealLime)
1/3 cup passion fruit juice or 1 tablespoon passion fruit syrup
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
1 teaspoon grenadine
Cherries with stems, and orange slice to garnish
Ice cubes

In a cocktail shaker, mix the rum, passion fruit juice or syrup, the other juices and the sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add the grenadine, and stir to combine, then add ice and shake. Half-fill a hurricane glass with ice, then strain drink into glass; add ice to fill. Garnish with orange slice and cherries.
Option: If you’d like something easier, look at your local liquor mart for packets of Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane Mix and follow directions.

Desserts:

Bananas Foster at Sarahs.

COLLEEN’S BANANAS FOSTER
This photo was taken at a cooking club gathering, by the host.  We were joking that she was getting evidence photos to explain to her insurance agent how we burned her house down.  Ha!  This is not entirely the traditional way of making true Bananas Foster, because I am not a huge fan of mushy bananas, plus I like lots of sauce. I’ve made this a few times and this is the way I personally like it best. It’s sooooo easy, but your guests will oooo and ahhhh (or take fear photos) at your flame-boyant cooking panache. You’ll want to make this where your guests can see you.

INGREDIENTS
1 stick butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup banana liqueur
½ cup of dark rum
4 bananas, cut in slices (I like mine still with a hint of green & no brown spots)
1 carton vanilla ice cream (1 large scoop per guest)

INSTRUCTIONS

Melt butter in a deep-sided skillet. Add brown sugar and cinnamon, and let cook until sugar is melted and sauce is bubbly. Slowly add banana liquor and gently stir until just warmed. Slowly add dark rum and gently stir until just warmed. Remove pan from heat and ignite with a long-stemmed BBQ lighter. Carefully stir with a long-handled spoon until flames subside. Place pan back on the stove with the burner off. Add the banana slices and gently toss with warm sauce (I don’t like mushy bananas, so that’s why I only add them at the end).

Place ice cream in serving dishes and top with several banana slices from the pan. Spoon warm sauce over ice cream and serve immediately.

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MISSISSIPPI MUD PIE

Ingredients

1 Oreo cookie pie crust

2 pints coffee ice cream, softened slightly

1/3 cup chocolate fudge topping

1 cup whipped cream

¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted

Directions: Spoon softened ice cream evenly into chilled crust. Drizzle fudge topping over ice cream then return pie to freezer for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve, decorate with whipped cream and sprinkle with almonds. Makes one 9-inch pie.

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BEIGNETS
These are heavenly little donuts that go spectacularly with Coffee au lait. I recommend the cooking class recipe offered at Southern Living .  My HEB carries the box mixes.

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KING CAKE

A King Cake is basically the same recipe as a giant cinnamon roll made into a “crown” shape (Monkey Bread in a Bundt pan would work fine), and the icing is covered in purple, yellow, and green colored sugar, and heaped on top. It is sometimes decorated with glitter sprinkles, mardi gras beads, or masks.  Also, a tiny plastic baby is hidden in the dough before the cake is baked.  When the cake is served at a Mardi Gras party, the guest who ends up with the baby in their serving must host the next soiree!

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~ DURING & AFTER DINNER ENTERTAINMENT ~

Background Music: Zydeco Stomp CD, or a New Orleans Jazz CD, some Hank Williams Jr., or a good Harry Connick Jr. album.

Play a game: Gambling is a big thing in New Orleans on the river boats. Decorate a room of your house to look like a Riverboat.  Play card, dice, and domino games, or the game Wits & Wagers.   Another game with a NOLA theme is Party Gras (which is a game played all night during other activities using Mardi gras beads – similar to the clothes pin game played at baby showers).

 

 

Watch a movie: Mark Twain – A Film Directed by Ken Burns (2002) would be a  good choice for documentary watchers.  Streetcar named Desire (an oldie).  The Frog Prince (for families with kids).  Double Jeopardy with Ashley Judd, is set partially in New Orleans.  Ghost Rider, with Nicholas Cage.

You could also use this meal as a great starter for a video Bible study (the one I am thinking of is Breaking Free, by Beth Moore, as it was filmed entirely on location in New Orleans, both the original and the revised versions, and is an excellent small-group Bible study) to get started in your home with your friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc.  After dinner you could play the introductory video, pass out the workbooks, and get it started.

 

~ A Reluctant Hostess’s Bag of Parlor Tricks for Social Occasions ~

 

Conversation Cards

Conversation Starters for the Table

Okay, the day of my party has arrived.  The food is cooked.  The table is set.  My guests are beginning to arrive.  I’ve shown each where to stash their coats and purses, and pointed them to the beverage station.  I have a few things to finish up in the kitchen, but also want to warmly greet each person who arrives, never-the-less in my flushed and busy chaos I can’t forget what it feels like to be the guest.  I’ve been a guest.  I know very well the inevitable awkward little spaces of time when introverted people start to sweat a little.  I know what it feels like to be out of my comfort zone.  If I don’t know the host very well, or any of the other invited guests, it is easy for me to feel a little bit ruffled.  I’m not sure where to sit or stand, or who to go and mingle with.  I wonder if it would be rude to sit at the table, or okay to hang with the ladies in the kitchen.

Life is so much easier for Sanguines and extroverts.  I  appreciate having them in my life.  I am honestly sooooo much better at coming up with ideas for parties: food, decorations, music, and games, than I am at the social aspects.  It’s probably my biggest hurdle to being hospitable.  I’m not so much worried about my house being clean enough, or putting on airs with a lot of nice things.  It’s the social part that gives me a heart attack.  I usually won’t go out on a limb to invite people over unless I know them really well (family), or I have an accomplice who is funny and outgoing, and with a real gift of gab.  Without my security blanket I’m pretty much a basket case.

This is where a nice set of Conversation cards really comes in handy for those awkward lulls during dinner when I can’t think of anything to talk about, and God forbid am surrounded also by introverts.  They rescue me.  Conversation is what draws us all out of our shells and helps us all to get comfortable with each other, and engaged – as long as we’re not put on the spot in front of everybody.

Sometimes, it’s hard to share our most personal thoughts, ideas, and opinions (unless we know where those around us stand), or without a glass of wine to loosen us up first – ha!, so a set of conversation cards can be a good way to get things going.  There are a ton of sets out there (Amazon).  Food for Talk by Julienne Smith is one of my favorites.

I have found that the best way to get past being uncomfortable and vulnerable in conversations with new people is by practicing treating them the way I want to be treated, and in my limited experience I have found that sometimes when I took that leap of faith and shared my heart with someone, it actually, occasionally landed in safe hands, and it very often was the catalyst to a beautiful friendship.

I have worked pretty hard to be a safe place for other people’s conversations as well. Gossips are not good friends!  Experience has taught me, that it is okay to be observant, cautious, and protective. It is like looking both ways before crossing a road. But when it looks as if the coast is clear, I encourage you (and deal a pep talk to myself as well) to try putting just a little of ourselves out there. And in return, also be a “safe place” for other people’s thoughts and dreams and ideas.

Another thing I struggle with is ADD.  When my mind is racing with self-conciousness, it is hard to pay attention, but we all appreciate a good listener.  Weep with those that weep.  Rejoice with those who rejoice.

I will pray for you, and for myself as well, that we learn to relax and just have fun.  And I pray that our minds don’t batter us too badly later as we lay in bed replaying every careless word we spoke and every clumsy gesture.  Please say I’m not the only one who does this!  Well, if I have a witness, at least you know you are not alone.

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“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

…given to hospitality.”

Romans 12:10,13

 

 

 

 

A Gringo Tamalada, Ole!

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A Gringo Tamalada, Ole!

While the rest of my fellow “gringos” are having “Ugly Sweater” parties, Cookie Exchanges, and Gift Wrapping/Mulled-Wine drinking parties for Christmas wouldn’t it be fun to host a TAMALADA just to be different?

I recently tried my hand at making Tamales, and to my delight they turned out, and were actually delicious (thank God), but boy howdy were they a ton of work. Took me ALL DAY! I’m absolutely addicted to tamales at Christmas, but I’m thinking if I ever decide to make them again I will want to make a party out of it, because many hands make light work. So here’s what I’m thinking…

Who to invite? Hmmm, well they’ll need to be reliable guests, who promise to make their dish and show up for the assembly process.

I could send them each a recipe card, after they RSVP and volunteer for a portion of the tamale-making they want to do. The host (which will be me, if I manage to muster the courage to actually do this) will provide snacks, and beverages – I’m thinking some fun drink choices would be Sangria; a Hot-Mexican-Chocolate Bar; Horchata Smoothies; and blended Margaritas. I’ll need to remember to find a good Latino Christmas Album or two or three to play for ambiance during the party, and also dig out an entertaining game to go with the party, that we can play while we’re waiting for the first batch of tamales to come out of the steamers. A couple of my favorites are Mexican Train (dominoes) and Canasta (cards)!

Or, if my family/friends want to bring their Christmas cards, stamps, address labels, and stationery we could get our Christmas cards ready to mail out while we wait for tamales, and we can snack and visit while we write and fold and lick and stamp! Make it kind of a working Tamale party! I can offer this on the invitations, and then discuss it with everybody when they RSVP.

Here’s how I’m thinking we can split up the cooking…

Guests #1, 2, & 3 could each make a 3-lb pork roast (half of the recipe listed below) and shred it, discarding any bone or cartilage, and reserving and bringing the strained pork broth to the party.

Pork for Tamales Tamalada Party recipe card

Printable Recipe Card

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Guest #4 could make the Chili sauce up to the point of adding the broth and blending it, and bring the cooked chilies with them to the party.

Red Sauce Tamalada Party recipe card

Printable Recipe Card

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HOST: could prepare corn husks

Boiled corn husks

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Guest #5 could make the Masa, up to the point of adding the broth and mixing, and bring it to the party

Masa Tamalada Party recipe card

Printable Recipe Card

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Click this link for a FREE PRINTABLE of the Recipe cards for Tamalada!

(((((-Full recipes are further down on this page-)))))

My Tamalada Invitation

Printable Invitation

Click this LINK for the printable Tamalada Invitation!

So, I know from experience that it’s going to take at least 4 hours to make the finishing touches on the meat and masa, then assemble, and steam the tamales. So I’ll plan my party accordingly when filling out the details on the invitation. Maybe I should have it on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon?

Once my guests have RSVP’d and volunteered for the dish they want to make, I’ll send them out the recipe card for their items (shown above, in case you missed them).

((((( Click here for the FREE PRINTABLE Recipe cards for Tamalada! )))))

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PREPARING FOR MY PARTY:

Buy whatever groceries and beverages I’ll need and give myself time to prepare them before the party.

Set up a station for the final masa preparation. I will need counter space, a large bowl, a mixer, and a cup of warm water to test the masa in.

Set up a work station for the final preparation of the red sauce. I will need a large sauce pot for the stove, and a blender or food processor. Someone will be making a roux in the sauce pot, and another person will be blending the red sauce (softened chilies and broth from pork). The pork and the red sauce will be added to the roux.

I’ll set up a large table for assembly. Place the ingredients down the center of my table, the husks next to the masa, the masa next to the meat, and finally a cookie sheet at the end to pile the tamales on. I’ll put a person at each ingredient and we’ll pass each tamal along. They’ll go together pretty quick. I will need some clean kitchen towels and possibly a roll of paper towels, also a masa spreader or spatula, a spoon to measure the masa, a spoon to measure the meat, and a large cookie sheet. And afterward some tin foil to wrap the tamales in for sending home or freezing.

Make room in my refrigerator for whatever uncooked tamales, and whatever else needs refrigerated.

Set up the steamer pots (illustrated below). I will need two large canner size pots with lids and a steamer basket for each inside. I will also need two clean kitchen towels and water for those.

Set up a beverage station with various beverages as mentioned earlier. I can set up a hot cocoa bar, I can also set out a large thermos of blended Margaritas, and a pitcher of Sangria. I might also want to set out some iced tea and water and a cooler of ice, and a variety of glasses and mugs.

Set up an appetizer/snack table where guests can nibble as we wait for the tamales to cook. Decide what appetizers I will serve at my party, and have them ready when guests arrive. I will need serving plates, bowls, spoons, etc. I might want to have a pretty tablecloth for this table, and some festive table decorations.

Set up the music that I will have playing in the background of my party.

Set out a couple of game choices (mentioned earlier), so that once the tamales are all assembled, and the table has been cleared, we can start having some fun. Or if we all prefer doing Christmas cards, I will need to *be sure to note this in my party reminder call, so my guests will know to bring their supplies!

Of course I’ll want a clean house, a spotless kitchen, and a tidy bathroom at least. Ugh! Sometimes this keeps me from throwing parties! My house is truly never clean enough.  Oh suck it up girl, get to scrubbin’ it’s gonna be fun!!!!!!!!!

A day or two before the party I can send a reminder via Text/eMail/Phonecall, so my guests will know if we’ll be doing Christmas cards during the party, or just playing games and eating. They might need the prodding for the dish they are making too!

Day of the party designate various ASSEMBLY LINE jobs:

Someone to wash all the dirty dishes and clean counters (my least fav job)

Someone to make the roux, and mix the meat with the sauce

Someone to finish making the red sauce

Someone to finish making the masa

Assembly line Husk Person, who will dry and pass the husks

Assembly line Masa Spreader person

Assembly line Meat person, who will also wrap tamales

Tamale tie person, who will tear off strips of husk to tie around tamales and stack them on a cookie sheet

And finally someone to set up and load steamers, and babysit them with water

Full RECIPES

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Pork for Tamales

2 3-lb pkgs Pork Carnitas or a shoulder roast

1 large onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, broken in pieces

3 jalapenos, chopped

1 Tbsp salt

Enough water to cover

DO AT HOME: Place pork roast, onion, garlic, and salt in a large pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer over medium heat until pork is very tender, about 3 hours. Remove pork from water and shred. Store in a Ziploc bag and keep in refrigerator for up to a day, until ready to use. Strain liquid and reserve for use in making the red sauce and the masa. Place in sealed jars in refrigerator for up to a day. Skim the fat off the broth and place it in a separate ziploc bag to use for the roux. Bring the pork, broth, and skimmed fat to the party.

Carnitas Pork

DO AT THE PARTY: Once at the party someone will need to make a roux (see recipe below) and then the pulled pork can be combined with the roux and the red sauce.

chili cascavel

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Red Sauce

4 ounces California (or Cascavel) chile pods, seeds and stems removed

4 ounces New Mexico chile pods, seeds and stems removed

1 1/4 cup reserved pork broth

1 1/4 cup water

1 Tbsp salt

3 cloves garlic, broken in pieces

1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin seeds

DO AT HOME: Toast chilies in a hot skillet over medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant. Rinse chile pods. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add rinsed chile pods and cook until chile pods are softened, about 15 minutes. Drain water off chilies and discard the water. Add salt, garlic, and ground cumin. Seal in a plastic bag until ready to blend at the party. This can be done up to a day ahead.

DO AT THE PARTY: Pour chilies, broth, and water into a blender and blend until smooth. Place in large kettle until ready to mix with the pork.

Roux: Someone will need to make a roux using ½ cup lard, reserved from roast, and ½ cup flour. Cook on the stove, stirring continually until peanut butter colored. Toss in the pork and red sauce and mix well. I also like to chop another jalapeno or two to add to the meat. Cover and refrigerate, or if near to being ready to assemble, place on the assembly line.

Pork mixed with red sauce

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Masa

2 pounds Manteca lard, divided

2 teaspoons baking powder, divided

2 tablespoons salt, divided

5 pounds ground masa harina, divided

2 to 3 cups broth reserved from cooked pork roast (or chicken broth), divided

½ bunch Cilantro, finely minced

Small white onion, very finely minced

½ cup Tomatillo Salsa, or Salsa Verde

Reserved pork broth with skimmed fat

DO AT HOME: Place 1 pound of lard in a KitchenAid® Stand Mixer and mix until fluffy, scraping sides so the lard stays in the center of the mixing bowl. (The flat beater is the ideal accessory for mixing.) Add half the baking powder and half the salt to the lard and mix together. Add half the masa harina and mix together. Seal in a ziploc bag in the fridge.

Now do the other half of the same ingredients, and store in the fridge in a ziploc bag for up to a day. Please bring to room temp before bringing to the party.

DO AT THE PARTY: Place one room temperature batch of the masa in a large bowl. Slowly add half the broth, half the onion and cilantro, and half the salsa verde, to and mix until combined. The mixture should be about the consistency of smooth peanut butter. If not, add more broth as necessary. Test the masa by taking a small piece (1/2 teaspoon) and dropping it into a cup of warm water. If it floats it is ready; if it sinks, add a little more lard, beat for another minute and test it again. Repeat this process until the masa floats. Cover and set on the assembly table.

Repeat the process with the remaining batch of masa.

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Corn Husks

DO AT HOME: Take husks from package and rinse well in the sink, removing any silks or debris. Fill a large stock pot with water and press the clean husks down to submerge them. Bring water to a boil and soak husks in gently boiling water for about 1 hour. You may need to flip the stack occasionally so the top ones get pliable. Drain water from husks but keep husks in the kettle with the lid on.

DO AT THE PARTY: Set warm, soaked husks, in covered pot on the assembly table. Keep a clean kitchen towel nearby to dry the husks just before spreading them with masa, otherwise the masa won’t stick.

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ASSEMBLY LINE

Tamale Assembly Station

Place the husks, masa, meat, and cookie sheet down the center of a table, and seat my guests all around it, except the guest who volunteered to do the mountain of dirty dishes. Assembly will start with corn husks being dried off and passed to the masa person next to them, that person will spread it with masa and pass it to the meat person next to them; that person will top it with meat and wrap it and hand it across to the tie person; that person will tear off a little strip from a boiled husk and use it to tie around the tamal and lay on the cookie sheet. Once the cookie sheet is full and heaping, the last person (ME) will pack the tamales vertically in the steamer with the open end up and start them steaming.

Assembly Line

SPREADING THE MASA: Place the wide end of the husk on the palm of your hand (or on the flat work surface), narrow end is at the top. Starting at the middle of the husk spread 2 tablespoons of the masa with a spatula or masa spreader in a rectangle shape, using a downward motion towards the wide-bottom edge. Do not spread the masa to the ends; leave about a 2-inch border on the left and right sides of the husk. Pass to the person with the meat (or other) filling. There is too wide of a swath of masa on this husk shown below, and also it’s not quite thick enough. You only need enough masa to wrap around the meat and a little extra to hold the husk closed.

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ADDING THE MEAT: Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons of your chosen filling down the center of the masa. (When I ran out of meat filling and still had masa, I started making Pepper Jack Cheese and Jalapeno filling. Fold both sides of hust to the center over the top of the meat; finish off by bringing the pointed end of the husk toward the filled end. Pass tamale to the person who will tie the tamales closed.

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TAMALE TIE PERSON: Make sure each tamal is snuggly closed and will not open during steaming. You can secure by tying a thin strip of corn husk around each tamal. This will keep the tamal from unwrapping during the steaming process, especially if the husk is too thick and will not stay folded. Stack wrapped tamales on a cookie sheet.

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HOST: Prepare the steamer pots… (You will also load the steamer pots)

Steamer Pot

This is my tamale steamer. I can only fill water up to the little rack, but not above it, and start it simmering on the stove. The steamer pot needs to be tall enough for our tamales to sit up vertically above the water and still fit the lid on. (If you don’t have a double boiler, you can improvise like I have. All mine is, is a round cooling rack setting on top of a brick, which I’ve washed several times in the dishwasher, or I could also use a small colander placed down into the bottom of my soup kettle and my rack on top. This set up works perfectly. Each steamer will need to have a clean kitchen towel and a lid.

When a cookie sheet of tamales is piled up high, they can be loaded in the steamer…

Fill the top part of the steamer with tamales. Stand the tamales up vertically, open ends up and folded ends at the bottom, and make sure the folded part is either tied up, or held in place with another tamal. Pack the tamales snug enough so that they won’t fall over during cooking, but not so tight that the steam can’t get in around them. In other words, don’t cram and squish them as tight as they will go, but let there be too much space or they will collapse and mush over. If there are not enough tamales to fill the steamer, use canning jars to take up the spaces so the tamales don’t fall over.

Turn heat up on the water until it boils. Cover the tamales with a clean kitchen towel and then the lid of the pot. Turn the heat down to medium so that it stays gently boiling, but not raging boiling. Set timer for 2 hours. Check every 20 to 30 minutes or so to make sure the water is not boiling dry, and add boiling water as necessary. Make sure the tamales are above the water line and that the bottoms are not siting in water at all.

Steaming tamales

Tamales will need to steam for 2 hours or more. After 2 hours we can test for doneness. Remove one tamale and check if the masa holds together and slips easily off the husk. If so, it is done, if not it needs to steam some more. Check again in 15 minutes when I check the water level.

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When a batch of tamales is done they can be eaten right away, or wrapped in foil (1 dozen at a time) and refrigerated or frozen for later.

cooked tamales

Divide the wrapped dozens of tamales among the guests. There should be about 1-2 dozen per guest.

You will want to eat some at the party!!!! There are lots of ways to eat tamales. Some like them topped with just a little of the red sauce, which you can make another batch of while the tamales are steaming. I like mine all different ways. Straight out of the steamer and burning my fingers and tongue as I shove them into my mouth, or if I have all the toppings on hand for Tortilla Soup or Carnitas tacos, I like all of those (minus the tortilla strips) on top of my tamales. I also like them with salsa verde, chopped onions, cilantro, and jalapenos, and a little dallop of sour cream (as pictured below). And I also like them loaded up with red sauce, pepper-jack cheese, black olives, corn and black bean salsa, shredded lettuce and pico de gallo. There is just about no wrong way to eat a tamale.

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So there you have it. Sound like fun to you? I’m pretty sure all my Mexican friends reading this are laughing at my gringo-ness; all having hosted and attended a hundred Tamaladas, so hopefully one of you will take pity on me and invite me to your next one, to show me how it’s done! My hat’s off to whoever invented tamales, for passing on this wonderful food, and to my friends south of the border for keeping going this fun tradition. Feliz Navidad!

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“The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine.” Isaiah 25:6

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A Native Thanksgiving

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A Native Thanksgiving

Originally featured in my book, Come for Supper, the memoirs of a reluctant hostess, this is one of my very favorite meals. Not because it is top shelf gourmet, for in fact it is probably closer to just being sustenance on that scale; mostly made with government commodities, or what can be scavenged in the wild, using few and extremely inexpensive ingredients. Not to say these aren’t all very yummy dishes though, don’t be scared, just probably not cheffy food, if that’s what you were looking for. The beauty of this meal for me is in savoring the foods of another people. Cultural differences can sometimes separate us, but I am enchanted by the brotherhood of the table and the fellowship of food. Eating modest foods also makes me very thankful for the things that I have, and the extravagant meals I have been blessed to enjoy. In a world where some have the luxury of living-to-eat, this is a great reminder that many many people on this planet eat-to-live, and even with the little that they have, are incredibly generous.

Nature Collage

I am drawn to and have a deep affection for the American Indians. I think we all do. Most of us played cowboys and Indians when we were kids. Many of our grandparents told tall tales about having native blood in our lineage. It is the raw deal, and unfair treatment of our native people by our government, that gives us (me, at least) a huge mistrust of the federal government. And although they’ve been tucked away, they have never been forgotten. We admire their courage and bravery, so much so that many of our sports teams have been given names like, “Chiefs” “Braves” “Redskins” and “Indians.”  Many towns (and counties) in my native state have Indian names: Sundance, Shoshoni, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep, Crowheart, Chugwater, Arapahoe, Wapiti, Cheyenne, Osage, etc.  Movies like Dances With Wolves, Son of the Morning, and Windtalkers reinforce the love affair. Even so, how many of us truly know our native brethren? Or, know anything about what their life is like today (myself included)? Most likely the closest we ever come is visiting a local gambling casino, or reading about some misfortune in the newspaper. By bringing us to a table to celebrate some of their best dishes, I hope to change that a little. This is an interesting article that I really wanted to save for myself, and share with you, as we consider honoring these interesting people with a Native fall feast for our family and friends.

Native American prayer

Meal Blessing

11 Native American Supper

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THE    FELLOWSHIP    OF    FOOD…

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WATER CRACKERS (Wind River Reservation)

Ingredients

1 lb Commodity flour (about 3 cups of all-purpose flour)

Powdered milk and water to equal about 2/3 cup liquid

1 Tbsp Vegetable shortening

1 tsp Baking soda

1 tsp Salt

Directions:

Mix all ingredients except powdered milk together. Add milk to other ingredients to form a dough and beat it up. If the dough is too sticky to roll out, add a little more flour. Roll it very thin on a flour dusted cutting surface, cut it into pieces with a pizza cutter, lay the pieces on a parchment lined cookie sheet, prick each piece with a fork, and bake it quickly in a 350 degree oven until toasted golden. Try these crackers the traditional way first, but the next time you make them you might wish to substitute fresh whole milk for the powdered milk, 2 Tbsp butter for the shortening and a splash of olive oil, and perhaps sprinkle the dough with a mixture of seeds, or some parmesan cheese, or some finely chopped italian herbs before cutting and baking. These are also nice served with an assortment of cheeses.

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3 sisters

THREE SISTERS SOUP (the 3 sisters are beans, corn, and squash)

Ingredients

1 lb beef stew meat

8 cups water

3 spring onions with tops

1 tsp minced garlic

1 can kidney beans and liquid

Half gallon size bag of fresh green beans, sliced (may substitute frozen or canned)

3 ears fresh corn (may substitute frozen or canned)

3 summer squash, cubed

½ tsp oregano (or 3 mint leaves)

2 tsp salt

5 lg squash blossoms

Black Pepper

Directions:

Cook the stew meat in water until tender. Cut corn from cob, chop spring onions, and add all vegetables to water and simmer until tender. Add seasonings, and squash blossoms; simmer 15 minutes. (For vegetarian version omit meat).

This is a mostly authentic recipe, and doesn’t have much flavor, especially if canned vegetables are used, which are most likely. The next time you make it you will want to use beef broth in place of the water, and leftover beef roast, pulled apart. I always prefer fresh vegetables. I also added 1 packet of beef gravy mix and 1 packet of Lipton Onion Soup Mix to my pot. I also added a small can of Rotel Tomatoes, 1 large potato diced, 1 large carrot chopped, a handful of frozen peas, 2 tsp. minced garlic, to the other vegetables, and about a ¼ tsp. of Cayenne powder. Salt and pepper to taste. Delish!

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WILD GREENS AND FLOWERS SALAD

Serves 4 to 6

Salads were much liked in the spring when new, tender greens appeared. A great variety of mixtures was used. Since salt was uncommon or not used at all, salads were flavored by herbs, oil pressed from seeds, and especially with vinegar made from fermented, evaporated, uncooked maple sap (which we can’t make or get). So this is an approximation of the spring tonic salads beloved by all woodland people after the long winters.

Ingredients

1 cup watercress leaves and (only) tender stems

1 cup lamb’s ears, quarter new leaves (or use small spinach leaves)

1 cup arugula lettuce torn (not cut) to bite-size pieces;

can also use Bibb or less expensive leafy (not iceberg) lettuces

1 cup Dandelion leaves

1/2 cup tender nasturtium and violet leaves torn up

1/2 cup nasturtium and violet flowers (in season)

1 Tbsp honey

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/3 cup salad oil

As much tender mint leaves as you like in the salad

2 tsp fresh mint chopped fine and bruised

2 tsp chopped tarragon (fresh) or 1 tsp dried if necessary

optional: salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine honey and vinegar, whisk in oil and crushed mint. Season to taste with small amount of salt. Pour over greens and flowers in large bowl, and toss for about 3 minutes to coat everything with dressing. Serve immediately.

If you cannot find the greens and flowers listed, you can use a “spring mix” salad from the produce department and add to that whatever edible flowers and greens that you can find, perhaps look at your local garden center, nursery, or fresh herb store.

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Native Supper

SQUASH OR PUMPKIN BLOSSOM FRITTERS (Pueblo style)

serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

2 dozen large squash blossoms

(4 dozen of the smaller pumpkin blossoms)

4 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cumin powder

2 – 3 cups finely ground cornmeal (masa harina)

Oil for deep frying

Directions:

If you’re a gardener or truck farmer, you can make this dish easy; otherwise you’ll need to visit with a farmer at a Farmer’s Market about getting some blossoms. During the growing season farmers thin the blossoms of their vines, because the vine can’t support but only a couple of pumpkins or a few squash. At season’s end there will be an abundance of flowers, as the fruit will not have time to finish before winter.

Rinse and pat blossoms dry. In a shallow bowl, beat eggs with milk, chili, salt, and cumin. Dip blossoms in egg mix, and then roll gentle in cornmeal. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes to set coating. Heat 2 inches of oil in a deep saucepan to about 375°, hot but not smoking. Fry blossoms a few at a time until golden, drain on paper towels. Keep warm in 250° oven until ready to serve.

Only in the southwest are the blossoms of squash and pumpkin important as a religious symbol, as well as food. They appear as sacred symbols in many Pueblo ceremonies, and gave rise to a popular design worked in silver.

38016ada1e3f4e7fc10fa388363291ce-american-dolls-american-artThere is a Hopi Squash Kachina (Patung). He is Chief Kachina (wuya) for the Hopi Pumpkin Clan. He runs with men of a village in spring ceremonial dances to attract rain clouds.

The Hopis and Pueblo farmers gather large quantities of squash and pumpkin flowers at the end of the growing season, when these flowers cannot make fruit; that’s the time white farmers harvest their curcurbitae and pull up or plow under the still-flowering vines.

OR, you may like to try this stuffed blossom recipe….

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STUFFED SQUASH BLOSSOMS

Ingredients

2 doz. squash blossoms

Filling:

8 oz. block cream cheese

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

1 Tbsp chopped green onion

Batter:

1½ c. flour

½ tsp salt

¾ to 1 cup dry white wine

cooking oil for frying

Directions:

The authentic way is not to stuff the blossoms, but simply to batter and fry them, or just fry them naked in melted shortening. This is a recipe I stumbled across recently and enjoyed. Pick large squash blossoms in early morning just before they open. (I used my garden zucchini blossoms that had opened already and they turned out okay). Heat 1-2” oil in heavy Dutch oven. Meanwhile, stuff blossoms with a tablespoon of filling. Smooth peddles over filling, and make batter. When oil is ready (pops and crackles when a drop of water is added), drop each blossom into batter, turning to coat evenly, and then immediately into hot oil. Turn while frying to cook evenly on all sides, and remove with a slotted spoon when they have turned golden-brown. Drain on paper towels, and serve hot as an accompaniment for soup. Or, they also make a great appetizer with a spicy marinara sauce to dip them in.

Fry Bread (2)

FRYBREAD

This recipe makes 8-10 small ones or 5 big flat ones

Ingredients

2 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup milk

Deep hot fat in fry pan or fryer

Directions:

Sift dry ingredients. Lightly stir in milk. Add more flour as necessary to make a dough you can handle. Kneed and work the dough on a floured board with floured hands until smooth. Pinch off fist-sized lumps and shape into slightly twisted ropes — everyone has their own characteristic shapes.(Shape affects the taste, by the way because of how it fries). For Indian tacos, shape dough into a rather flat disk shape, with a depression — almost a hole — in the center of both sides. Make it that way if the fry bread is going to have some sauce over it. Smaller, round ones are made to put on a plate. Fry in deep fat (about 375°) until golden and done on both sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper. (My grandmother made what she called, “Squaw Bread” at least once a month when I was growing up. Her’s was made from regular yeast dough. It was one of my favorite things on earth!!!!)

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MODERN WOJAPE

Wojape (Wo-zha-pee), a pudding, a dessert. Wojape is traditional to the Sioux and other Northern Plains Nations and predates most of us living now. This is a berry pudding to eat with fry bread. It was made with fresh wild berries collected during that season and also dried berries, preserved for use through the winter. The berries were mixed with sugar when it became available, and also flour for thickener. Today is a different time and Wojape, like many other things, has adapted to the easy access of ingredients. However, it is just as delicious. It can be eaten after a meal as a dessert or as many “out there” know, as a main course maybe with a hot cup of coffee. She calls it modern because of using any kind of frozen berries, “We moderns often use government commodities gallon cans.” This recipe makes enough for about 20-30 people who have 1-2 fry breads.

Many thanks for this recipe go to: Ms. Stacy Winter of Crow Creek, Rapid City, South Dakota.

Ingredients

1 Bag (5 lb) frozen berries (blueberry, raspberry, cherry or a mix)

8 cup Water

2 cup Sugar

Cornstarch or Arrowroot

Directions:

To a 5 quart pot (enamel or stainless steel) add all the berries and smash them with a potato masher. (If you are fortunate enough to have a food processor this would work fine also. However, stop just short of puree, you want fine pieces throughout.) To the smashed berries add the water and sugar. Boil (lightly) this mixture (Approximately 15 to 20 minutes) until everything is cooked. Thicken to desired thickness with cornstarch that has been dissolved in cold water. Serve warm and eat with Indian Fry Bread. Dip the bread into the Wojape and eat in this manner.

Wojape is also outstanding on French Toast, Pancakes, plain Cheesecake, over ice cream, and is excellent served over Angel Food Cake with a dallop of whipped cream.

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INDIAN FRYBREAD TACOS

6 servings

Frybread tacos are very much like the Elephant Ear tacos that we used to get at the carnival when the rodeo was in town.  Very easy and one of my favorite things to eat.  If I have leftover homemade chili I use it in place of the meat recipe here.  And when I can’t find Anasazi beans, and I’m in a hurry, I just substitute canned pintos.

Ingredients

6 pieces Indian Frybread — about 6” in diameter

1 lb hamburger

1 large onion minced

2 small cans tomato paste

1 big can tomatoes

1/2 tsp oregano

1 Tbsp chile powder

salt, pepper to taste

Fry onion and hamburger broken up loose. Sprinkle some salt and chile powder over it. Add tomato paste and 4 cans of water and the canned tomatoes and their juice — break up tomatoes and stir it around. Add basil and oregano. Taste for seasoning. If you want, you can use a taco seasoning packet in place of seasonings, and a mild tomato salsa in place of tomato paste and tomatoes. Simmer till meat and onions are done and sauce is thick, 30 – 40 minutes.

Toppings:

1/2 lb cheese grated coarse

1 1/2 c Dried anasazi beans, cooked

1 1/2 c Mache or arugula, washed & stemmed  (I’ve often substituted Cilantro, chopped)

1 lg Red ripe tomato, sliced

2 ea Ripe avocados, halved & sliced

1 ea Red onion, thinly sliced

1 ea Bunch red radishes, sliced

24 ea Golden yellow plum tomatoes halved

6 ea Green Anaheim (New Mexico) chiles, prepared (I’ve sometimes substituted Poblanos when Anaheims are out of season or unavailable)

1 lg Red bell pepper

Directions:

To prepare the anasazi beans, soak overnight in water to cover. The next day, drain the beans and place them in a saucepan with fresh water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and let the beans simmer until the skins break, about 3 hours. It may be necessary to add water as the beans cook to prevent them from burning and sticking. After the beans are cooked, remove from the heat and set aside. You should have about 3 cups cooked beans. While the beans are cooking, roast, seed, and de-vein the chiles and the bell pepper. Leave chiles whole; slice pepper lengthwise into six strips.

To Assemble the tacos, place a layer of meat mixture, cheese, and 1/2 cup cooked beans on each piece of frybread. Add 1/4 cup greens per taco, followed by a red tomato slice. Add slices avocado and 1 thin slice red onion, separated into rings. Follow with radishes and 4 golden yellow plum tomatoes per taco, and top with 1 roasted green chile and 2 slices roasted red pepper. You can vary the toppings and the order in which the taco is built, and for a vegetarian version omit the meat sauce and cheese.

You may also wish to offer Sour Cream (I like the Mexican Crema) and salsa (favorite jarred, or refrigerated varieties).

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NAPOLIAS (Cactus)

Ingredients

1 servings

1 lb Pork

2 Cloves garlic, minced

1 lg Onion, diced

3 c Water

2 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

1 lg can stewed tomatoes

1 lb Green cactus, peeled & diced

Salt

Pepper

1/4 t. Cumin

Seasoning salt

Directions:

Cube the pork; fry in a skillet with onion and garlic. In a large Dutch oven, add all ingredients, salt and pepper to taste and 1/4 tsp. cumin and seasoned salt. Cook until meat is tender. You might like to season this with an assortment of dried ground up chili peppers, like New Mexico red chilies, green chilies, chipotle chilies, and little chili pequine, to make it like a Chili Colorado. Very good with corn cakes, or the pinion squash bread featured below!

Cactus (fresh, small, thick pads): Remove spines with knife and peel, or purchase at market in a jar, diced and packed in its own juices. You can usually find it at Mexican markets; the cactus referred to is generally prickly-pear cactus. The juice from the prickly pear cactus is also useful in Native American craftwork, specifically painting with earth paints.

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PUEBLO PUMPKIN/SQUASH PIÑON NUT SWEETBREAD

Makes One loaf, serves 6 – 8

Rio Grande Pueblo peoples traditionally served a variant of this sweetbread to parties of nut-pickers in September when piñon nuts were being picked from the mountain slope trees. Families would (and some still do) camp for many weeks in traditional areas reserved to clans. In the recipe you can use either cooking-type pumpkin (these have necks and thick, meaty bodies, not like jack o’ lantern pumpkins) or a sweet bright orange squash, like butternut.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour

1 cup finely mashed or pureed pumpkin/squash

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)

2 eggs beaten foamy

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup pine nuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, spices. Stir in pumpkin, eggs, butter. Stir pine nuts into thick batter. Scrape into a greased 6 x 9 loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour or until knife inserted in bread comes out clean.

This sweetish, spicy bread goes well with soups, stews, and can also be a dessert, especially if you cut it apart and put yogurt or applesauce over it.

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OR, this is a sweeter, less cinnamony version that lets the pumpkin shine through…

pumpkin bread

PUMPKIN PINE-NUT BREAD

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

2 c Flour

1/2 c Oil

3 Eggs, beaten

1 1/2 c Sugar

1 teaspoons Baking soda

1 teaspoons Vanilla

3/4 c Milk

2 c Cooked pumpkin

1/2 tsp Salt

1 1/2 c Pine nuts, roasted

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a medium size bowl, mix eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Mix well, then add pumpkin. Mix well and folk into dry ingredients. Add pine nuts. Pour batter into 2 greased 5×9-inch loaf pans and bake for 45 minutes.

The pine nuts generally taste better if, before they’re added to the mix, you put them on an ungreased cookie sheet in the oven for about 10 minutes at about 350-400 degrees. It roasts them a little. But watch them carefully to make sure they don’t burn.

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MAPLE-PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

Ingredients

1 Graham cracker crust in 8″ spring form pie pan

1 lb low-fat cottage cheese

1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt

3/4 cup pumpkin puree (or 1 can)

1/4 cup flour

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Put all ingredients into blender, a little at a time, alternating wet and dry. Process until smooth, then pour into crust and spread evenly. Bake for about 50 minutes. Let cool before serving. May be topped with yogurt, flavored with 2 Tbsp maple syrup. Take it up a notch drizzled over with caramel sauce, and sprinkled with chopped pecans.

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A    TASTE     OF     CULTURE…

If you have kiddos, you can make this supper a lot of fun for them. This is also a great get-together for church, or a Senior Center, or a classroom if you are a teacher, or homeschooler? Below are the cornucopia of ideas I’ve collected over the years for either a dinner party, or you can use them as activities during a weekend or weeklong festival.

Background Music: Tribal Winds, Music from Native American Flutes; also cd Good Medicine by John Two-Hawks – American Indian Lakota flute player & musician. I actually have several CD’s that I love, shown below. (Not shown: Gathering of Shamen – Native Flute Ensemble, Medicine Man – Pete “Wyoming” Bender, The Stories of Red Feather Woman – also featuring the music of Andrew Vasquez, with special guest Rodney Grant – Windriver).

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Host a Pow-Wow: American Indians, at least those I am familiar with (Northern Arapaho, Eastern Shoshoni, Lakota Sioux, and Utah Navajo ) have an annual party called a Pow-Wow. They set up teepees, do dances, trade and sell craft items, share food, pray, play games, pass the peace pipe, and tell stories. Thermopolis Wyoming is home to the annual Pow-wow of the Windriver tribes, the Gift of the Waters Pageant, and they tell the history/stories of the giving of the healing waters (see clip on Facebook).

BowArrowInstruments

Here’s a fun idea: ask your guests to bring “trade items” (things they have outgrown, don’t use, or don’t want any more) to trade with each other. All unwanted items can be donated to a local charity thrift store after the get-together.

img00008Hoop and Pole Game

Natives of different groups have their own special ways to play the Hoop and Pole game, but in all the games a person tosses a long dart of some kind at a circular hoop. In this version of the game the hoop is rolled along the ground, set into motion by a third player, while the two other playershoopandpolegamepg18s throw their pole as the hoop rolls in front of them. The score depends on how or if the pole falls on or through the hoop. Netted hoops are made by the Arapaho of Wyoming and other tribes.

Navajo tribes play a stick and dice game, and also a shoe game. Google them to see how they are played.

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The Sun Dance, usually conducted once a year, is a custom of the Arapaho people. The Sun Dance is a sort of prayer ceremony. See more about it here.

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Navajo Blanket collage

Navajo Blanket (given to me by my father-in-law) collage

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PEACE PIPE

As the sun sets, gather everyone around to sit “Indian style” in a circle in the center of the yard around a fire pit. Pass around a “peace pipe” with imaginary tobacco in it and let everyone take a puff. This ritual in Arapaho belief is supposed to bond friendships. Encourage the oldest men of the group to pass on some of their wisdom to the younger by telling interesting stories of their boyhood, what games they played, things they did with their parents, faith experiences, etc. Some can share lessons they learned from mistakes they made. Maybe dad or grandpa or Uncle Jerry has a “vision” for the family (or church, or group) or a weird dream that they had that they would like to share.

CRAFTS

Make Bead Chokers

LoomWeaving

Make a loom and weave pot holders

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Make Beaded Moccasins

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Make a Dream Catcher

The following are items I made for my granddaughter’s teacher to use for a center in her Kindergarten classroom this year.

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Make a “Pretend Garden” using an old wooden box covered in burlap, pantyhose filled with black beans for the rows of soil, and hand-stitched felt veggies.  Let the littles enjoy hours of play planting and replanting veggies.

Garden Collage

BowArrowInstruments

Dollar Store bows, with homemade quivers for the arrows, plastic Bowie knives in homemade sheaths, and and assortment of primative instruments – they look cooler with feathers tied to them!  Set up deer silhouettes and various parts of the yard and let the littles go hunting for food.  Also let them make music for dancing.

Cane Pole Fishing

Homemade Bamboo “Cane Poles” with string and child-safe hooks, and little fishes that they can catch with them.  Make a “pretend pond” and let the littles catch fish for supper.

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When you were born, you cried

and the world rejoiced.

Live your life

so that when you die,

the world cries and you rejoice. — White Elk

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We do not want schools….
they will teach us to have churches.
We do not want churches….
they will teach us to quarrel about God.
We do not want to learn that.
We may quarrel with men sometimes
about things on this earth,
but we never quarrel about God.
We do not want to learn that.

–Heinmot Tooyalaket ( Chief Joseph), Nez Perce Leader

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“Behold I lay in Zion a Chief Cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:6

Chief Cornerstone collage

(Photo of a Christian T-shirt from eons ago)

4th of July Sopapilla Cheesecake

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4th of July Sopapilla Cheesecake

Sopapilla Cheesecake is my go-to, super-fast-and-easy dessert after any Mexican dishes that I serve for supper (like “Taco Tuesday,” Taco Salad, Tamales, Chicken/Cheese/Beef Enchiladas, Chili Rellenos, Asada Street Tacos, Carnitas, Loaded Nachos, Quesadillas, etc.).  This year I decided it would be a perfect Red, White, and Blue sweet ending to our Independence Day meal, because of the colors, and because I had all the ingredients in my fridge!

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

 

2 (8-oz) pkgs Cream Cheese, softened (room temp)

1 cup sugar

½ tsp Mexican Vanilla (or, if you want to be fancy, you can scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean pod)

Mix together all three ingredients until smooth and thoroughly incorporated.  Set aside.

 

2  (8-oz) tubes Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (or, you can make your own croissant dough)

¾ cup sugar

1 tsp. Cinnamon

½ cup butter, softened (room temp)

¼ cup honey (warm in microwave for about 20 seconds, after baking cheesecake)

Lightly grease a large baking pan (or small high-sided cookie sheet) with a tablespoon of the softened butter.  Unroll one tube of crescent rolls and roll out to fit in the bottom of the greased baking pan/sheet, pinching the perforations together.  Spread the cream cheese mixture over the dough, leaving a small edge of the dough all the way around uncovered (like a pizza).  Unroll the second tube of dough and roll out to fit over the cream cheese layer.  Press down slightly around the edges.  Mix the sugar, cinnamon, and remaining softened butter together into a paste.  Spread over the top layer of dough. 

Bake in a preheated 350 degree (F) oven for about 30 minutes, until puffed and golden.  Remove from oven and drizzle the entire top of the cheesecake with warmed honey.

 

Strawberry Blueberry Compote

(This is what gives the dessert the RED and BLUE  on WHITE treatment)

¼ cup of cold water

Juice and zest of one lemon

½ cup sugar

2 Tbsp Cornstarch

1 pkg frozen strawberries

½ pkg frozen blueberries

Place water, lemon juice and zest, sugar, and cornstarch in a sauce pot on the stove.  Stir to mix the ingredients and then turn heat on medium high.  Add strawberries and bring to a boil, stirring until mixture is thick.  Remove from heat and add blueberries.  Set aside until ready to serve.

 

Cheesecake may be served warm or cold.  My son-in-law loves it warm and gooey.  I think it is delish the next morning after being refrigerated overnight, with a hot, creamy cup of coffee – like a cheese danish.  Mmmmmmm…don’t you?

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The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.

Proverbs 11:25 NKJV

 

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” 

Galatians 5:1

 

South Texas Style Chili Rellenos

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South Texas Style Chili Rellenos

The title is kind of a guffaw, actually, and the reason I grin-and-bare that is that when hubby and I first moved to south Texas, and specifically the little town that we’re in, there wasn’t a chili relleno to be had on a single menu; not in a single restaurant in our town.  And when I asked for “green chili” on an omelet for the first time I was met with a puzzled look and a question, “Do you  mean Tomatillo sauce?”  Um, no.

Needless to say, we were terribly disappointed, and bewildered.  How could this be?  Is it that green chilies only migrated north and west from New Mexico and not east?  Maybe they aren’t a Mexican food at all?  Perhaps it was my ignorance that green chilies and Tex-Mex were synonymous? 😞

I’m happy to report that just a couple of years later Hatch green chilies started making an appearance in these parts, and when they did, they made a big appearance.  There are still no Chili Rellenos on the menus in our town, but at least this girl can get the ingredients in our local grocery to make them now, and that’s really all that matters.

And in all fairness, not all of South Texas is a dry Rellenos area; we’ve had them in a few San Antonio restaurants, even though they only barely resemble the authentic Rellenos that first stole my heart.

And, please pardon if I don’t make mine like you do.  This is the way I personally like them.  I’m sure I would love yours, unless you make them with ground beef filling, and then I’ll have to reserve my judgement until I’ve tasted them.  Husband likes the beef filled rellenos, but I dream about cheese filled rellenos and am content to eat those for the rest of my days.

I got my Ranchera Sauce recipe from a gal I stopped in the middle of HEB not long back.  She works in a local restaurant, so I knew she would steer me straight, at least as much of it as I could remember as she rattled her recipe off to me in the midst of my gathering ingredients.  Ha!  I hope I’m making it right. It’s sure tasty, so I’m sticking with it. 😆

First we start with the Ranchera Sauce

Place a stick of butter into a heavy pan and on medium high heat begin melting.  As soon as it is melted add one whole large chopped onion (white or yellow).  Saute the onion until it is translucent, turn heat down to medium and continue sautéing until the onions are caramelized.  This will take quite a while.

Chop 2 jalapenos (stems discarded), and about 6 large plum tomatoes into chunks.  Add them to the caramelized onions and let them cook until softened.  Add a 14-oz can of tomato sauce to the mixture, stir, place a lid, reduce heat to simmer, and let cook until you are ready to batter and fry the rellenos.  I have had the Ranchera sauce served to me chunky several times, so I presume that is the authentic way, but I use a Braun Wand blender tool to whirl the Ranchera into a smooth sauce with no large chunks.

Now, the preparation of the green chilies…

Pick the largest, firmest ones you can find at your grocery.  Bring them home and wash them, and then dry them.  I like the spicy ones.  You might prefer the milder ones.

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roasting chilies

I have a propane flame torch which works pretty darn slick for roasting chilies.  I lay my chilies out on the rack of my outdoor patio firepit, light my torch, and run the flame up and down each chile until they are blistered and black, then I flip the chilies over with tongs and roast the other sides.  Once they are all well blistered on all sides I gather them into a plastic zip bag, seal it, and let the chilies steam inside for about half an hour or so.

If you don’t have one of these nifty little propane gadgets, the oven will work just fine. Move an oven rack up to the highest level of your oven.  Preheat your oven broiler.  Place your washed chilies on a cookie sheet and slide them onto that top rack in the oven.

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Close the oven door (I prop my door open slightly with a wooden spoon – I like to hear my chilies popping and crackling).

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Let the chilies broil on one side long enough for them to become charred and blistered.

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Use tongs to roll them a quarter turn and return to broiler.  Check them often for doneness.  Continue turning and broiling until the chilies skins are blistered and charred all the way around.

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Quickly remove them from the cookie sheet and place them into a large Ziploc freezer bag, and seal it.

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Allow chilies to steam inside the bag for about half an hour, while you prepare the rest of the meal.

NOTE:  I like to serve my Rellenos with homemade refried beans and a cheesy green chili rice.  See those recipes below.  Hint: this would be a great time to start making them now.  This is also a good time to blend your Ranchera sauce and make is smooth.  Keep it simmering on a back burner until ready to serve.

Start about 2 inches of oil getting hot in a deep sided frying pan (…just hot enough that a droplet of water makes it pop and fizzle.  Not hot enough to be smoking.  If you are seeing streaks/waves in your oil, it may be too hot.  Either drop your heat, or add a little more oil to cool it down a bit before adding your chilies).  The pan you use should be large enough that two chilies will fit without touching the sides or each other.

Hot oil

As soon as the green chilies have cooled enough to handle take them to the sink and begin removing the skins.  They should slide right off easily.  If not, be careful not to tear the chili, as it will be hard to keep the filling inside while you are battering it.

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Once the chilies are skinned, make a slight slit along the side near the top stem of each.

cut the chili

Only make it big enough to slide the pieces of cheese inside.  If you wish to remove some of the seeds you  may do that also.  I push the seeds out through the slit.  I don’t mind a few seeds in my rellenos though.  I use Pepper-Jack Cheese.  For 8 to 10 chilies you will need about 1 1/2 8-oz blocks, which I cut into quarter-inch slices and then into quarter inch strips.

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Begin stuffing your chilies with strips of cheese, about 5 or so strips per chili.  Dust the outsides with flour and lay them on a paper towel as you prepare them.  Once all the chilies have been stuffed and floured, you are ready to make your batter.

I beat two eggs and add about a cup of water to them…

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…and then I whisk in some seasoned beer batter mix (part of one bag) until the consistency is about that of thin pancake batter.  The batter should stick to your chilies, but just leave a fairly thin film.  Hold the chili by the stem and dip it into the batter.  Use a fork to sweep batter over the top of the chili and then gently lift the chili out of the batter, with the fork.  Slide it into the hot oil and let it begin frying.  Add another chili and let the two fry together.

Allow the chilies to fry for a few minutes and then use tongs to turn.  The batter should turn a golden color.  Scoop the chilies out of the oil and place on paper towels for a moment to absorb the oil.  Quickly plate them and cover them with simmering Ranchera Sauce.

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Oh my how I love them!!!!!   Now if I could figure out how to feed a crowd all at the same time I’d be in business.  I only know how to make Rellenos for one person at a time.  Hot and fresh.

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Colleen's Chile Rellenos

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Mama’s Refried Beans

If you’ve made a pot of pinto beans and have leftovers, by all means use them for this.  If not, look for these varieties at your local grocery store.  I used 2 cans of Charro and 1 can of Barracho (which means drunken – notice that they use Shiner beer for this).

First I drained my beans of all the liquid (don’t rinse them).  I melted about 2 Tablespoons of rendered pork fat (you can use lard, or if you have leftover bacon grease that’s actually preferred) in a sauce pan on the stove, and then I added my beans.  I let them just bubble and cook on medium low heat until I was almost ready to serve my meal.  Moments before I was ready to serve I took a potato masher and mashed the beans until they were the desired consistence.  They may be served with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and some chopped green onion if you like.

NOTE: This also makes a wonderful bean dip, served with tortilla chips for a snack.

DSCN9810Cheesy Green Chili Rice

First I sautéed my rice (1 cup) in about 1/2 a stick of butter in a small sauce pot, on high heat.  After about a minute of continuous stirring, I added 2 cups of hot chicken broth (water and boullion cubes work fine), 1 can of diced green chilies, and a grind of sea salt (you might hold off on this if using boullion).  When the liquid boils, place a lid on the pot and turn the heat down to low.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.  Remove from  heat.  Lift the lid and lay several thin slices of pepper jack cheese (about 1/3 cup shredded) or cream cheese on top of the rice.  Replace the lid and leave covered about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Lift lid and fluff rice with a fork, incorporating the cheese throughout.  If you like it just a little creamier, you may add a splash of Crema, heavy cream, or sour cream, and a sprinkle of cayenne.

“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.”  Acts 2:46