Category Archives: Recipes

Mrs H’s Unofficial “copy-cat recipe” – Tiago’s Cabo Grille Chocolate Cake

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Mrs H’s Unofficial “copy-cat recipe” – Tiago’s Cabo Grille Chocolate Cake

I want to preface this post by saying if you live near one of these restaurants you absolutely MUST go and have the chocolate cake (and the margaritas, and the guacamole, and….), but if, like me, you live hours away, then I hope to help delight our tastebuds with my less-than-perfect take on their fantabulous desert!!! They serve their cake freshly warm from the oven with a ganache-like frosting oozing over the sides, a scoop of cinnamon ice cream and a dalop of whipped cream on the side, and the whole mess sprinkled with a dusting of cinnamon. Oh my gosh!!!! To die for!

INGREDIENTS

1 ¾ cup granulated sugar

1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup Dutch process, unsweetened cocoa powder

1 Tablespoon ground Saigon Cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 tsp finely ground pink Himalayan salt

1 cup whole milk

1 ¾ sticks salted butter, softened

2 eggs

2 tsp Mexican vanilla (I always splash a little over the measurement)

¾ cup boiling water

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease the bottoms of two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans, and line with parchment paper.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Add milk and butter.  Beat on medium speed to 2 minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Mix until incorporated.  Stir in boiling water.

Divide the batter evenly between two prepared pans.  Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the tester comes out clean when inserted into the cake’s center.

Cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes.  Removed cakes from pans, discard the parchment paper, and transfer them to a wired rack to cool completely. 

Now they are ready to be frosted. And this is my favorite ganache recipe. Make yours with bittersweet chocolate, add a teaspoon of cinnamon, and up your ratio of chocolate a little more to make your ganache thicker, since it will be spread on warm cake and you don’t want it to just soak in and disappear.

I know there really is no duplicating the deliciousness of Tiago’s original, but this is a dynamite stand-in for when you are just craving it like no other and live 2 hours (or more) away from the closest restaurant.

And now to the second part of this post… A HAPPY BIRTHDAY cake!!!!!

So… it’s August. It’s my granddaughter’s birthday, and her day fell on a school night this year. Her parents are both full time employed and I wanted to be a blessing, so I volunteered to make the birthday dinner and cake. I am a decent cook, I guess, or at least that’s what my family says, but I am NOT a baker, not by any stretch of the imagination, and so perhaps this is what inspired me to blog about this cake, because it is the ONE baking attempt I’ve made that actually turned out, miracle of miracles, and I figure this to be the greatest reason to save it for posterity, i.e. my grandchildren, if indeed we are all still around and we haven’t been raptured by the time they are grown bakers. (Come Lord Jesus). Anyway, the birthday girl wanted “grammie’s tacos” for supper and sooooo that’s what inspired me to go with the Tiago’s cake for her birthday cake. Her special request was for a 2-layer cake, one layer being chocolate, the other layer being vanilla, and she wanted it frosted with a vanilla frosting. Each cake recipe makes 2 rounds, so I ended up with 4 total rounds of cake, and decided her cake would just have to be a 4-layer cake instead. I didn’t think anyone would mind, unless of course it didn’t turn out, but it did, so yay! 😉

My Vanilla Cake recipe:

INGREDIENTS

2 cups granulated sugar (I use just a little less)

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup water

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened

3 small eggs (or 2 large)

1 teaspoon vanilla (I always let it dribble a little over)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease the bottoms of two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans, and line with parchment paper.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Add milk, water, and butter.  Beat on medium speed to 2 minutes.  Add the eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Mix until incorporated. 

Once both of my cakes (chocolate and vanilla) were baked and completely cooled, I wrapped them tightly in two layers of cling wrap/plastic wrap and then tucked each individual layer in a gallon size zip-loc bag, pressing out all the air, and then put them all into the freezer overnight. Tip: Baking the cakes the day before makes for less work on the day of the party, plus the cakes are easier to frost when they are frozen, and they stay super moist and fresh for up to 3 months (so I was told by my cake decorating friends).

The next day I whipped up my frosting. I didn’t have enough cream cheese to make enough frosting to frost the whole 4 layers, so I whipped up a batch of chocolate buttercream as well as a batch of cream cheese frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

INGREDIENTS

12 Tablespoons butter, softened

5 (and up to another 1/2) cup confectioner’s sugar (depending on how sweet you want it

1 cup Dutch process, unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon ground Saigon cinnamon

2/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla (I always splash a little over the measurement)

Pinch of salt

INSTRUCTIONS

In a bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy.  In a separate bowl, mix confectioner’s sugar with cinnamon and cocoa.  Blend sugar mixture with butter, alternating with milk, beating well after each addition.  Beat until smooth.  Blend in vanilla. 

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick Butter, softened

8-oz. Cream Cheese, softened

1 (10-oz.) package Confectioners (powdered) sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

splash of Half-and-Half

Combine butter and cream cheese in a bowl and beat until light. Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add milk only if needed for the desired consistency, beating until smooth. If you want to add a sprinkle of cinnamon also, do it!!!!

About two hours before the party I took the frozen cakes out of the freezer, unwrapped the first chocolate layer, placed it on my cake plate and slathered it with chocolate frosting on top. I unwrapped a white layer, carefully placed it on top of the chocolate one, and frosted it on top with chocolate frosting. Repeated with the last two layers, leaving the very top layer unfrosted on top. I spread my cream cheese frosting all around the sides of the cake first, and then I did the top last. As you can see I am NOT a skilled decorator either, and I won’t even play one on the Internet. But I am happy to report that the cake was delicious, and a hit with the grateful birthday girl.

This cake was so moist and delicious. I wanted to send it home with the birthday girl (no, I didn’t), but her mother wouldn’t let me (say it ain’t so), saying they already had a bunch of leftover cupcakes from the school party at their house (I’m crying on the inside), plus they are trying to eat healthier (and then there’s that). Oh my. Maybe the 4-layer cake wasn’t such a great idea after all. Soooo, in order to keep me from eating it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, for the next two days, because I also am trying to eat healthy (I know, so boring right), I decided to wrap it up and tuck it back into the freezer for the next time the girlies come over for a sleepover. I’ll have to let you know if it stays good frozen with the frosting on it.

The balloons pictured were a Balloon Arch kit ($7 at the grocery store) that I put together and then wrapped around my hanging dining room light. I had a few of the long bubbly balloons leftover from a previous party (green, red, orange) that I tucked in for a party effect. I would have added more if I’d had them. These kits come with the various sized balloons, and the ribbon (with the holes in it) that is used for holding the balloons in place. I didn’t know how to do this so I spooled up a You Tube video which was very helpful. You basically put all the bigger balloons into the tape, and save the little ones to fill in the spaces afterward, using glue dots, or I used invisible scotch tape. Unfortunately one kit won’t make an arch. Mine only ended up to be about 4 feet long, so I decided to do this with it instead.

And you know what? I was just thinking… (yes, that’s what that awful noise was) …as far as freezing cakes go, if you are an empty-nester and only cooking for two now-a-days… if it is true that naked cake keeps for up to 3 months in the freezer wrapped up correctly, why not bake a couple of cakes and freeze them for those nights when you want dessert, but don’t want to go to a lot of fuss. Cut each cooled round into 4 pieces, wrapping and freezing as described above, then tuck the wrapped pieces into a gallon size zip-loc freezer bag and press all of the air that you can out of the bag. Finally, mark the outside of the bag with the expiration date (so you’ll know it’s still good when you find it 2 months from now and have long forgotten that you did this). Also make up a batch or two of frosting and portion it out into little snack size cups (with lids). Make sure to fill the cups completely so that the lid smashes down on the frosting when snapped on, so there is no air space. Place those cups in a zip-loc bag and into the freezer also, next to the cake. The next time you and hubs are craving something sweet after supper, all you have to do is pull out a piece of cake from the freezer, and a frosting cup, let them thaw on the countertop together. Maybe you’d rather whip up a small batch of ganache instead of the frosting? Cut the cake in half, pop it into the microwave for 30 seconds (if you want it warm), and slather each with thawed frosting or warm ganache. Can be served with a scoop of ice cream (cinnamon, if you can find it), a squirt of canned whipped cream, and a dusting of cinnamon on top, if desired. And there you go… Tiagos (almost) in an instant. Make some coffee to go with your cake and curl up in front of a good movie or go outside and sit by the firepit and enjoy a cool fall evening together.

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is cast off, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God. Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:25-27

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 Refreshing and Oh Sooooo Yummy Hibiscus Tea

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Mrs H’s Refreshing and Oh Sooooo Yummy Hibiscus Tea

As promised…

I preface my post here by first telling you, I used to be an iced tea (black tea) drinker for many, many years.  I drank it all day long.  It replaced my Coke/Pepsi addiction, which I had for many, many years before that.  I gave up sodas because they just have waaaaay too much sugar in them, plus the carbonation had an adverse effect on my digestive system after I had my kids.  Sweet tea took over as my thirst quencher after that, until I decided that the pink stuff I was using to sweeten it wasn’t good for me either. I only used it because sugar rots your teeth. I eventually learned to like unsweet tea, until I discovered agave nectar – but they don’t usually have that at restaurants. Okay, honey then.

After a recent surgery my doctor visited my hospital room and saw my small cup of iced tea on my dining tray. He wagged his finger at me and said, you better lay off that stuff. It’s is very dehydrating.  Well darnit! That was the first iced tea I’d had in months. When I started chemo I defaulted to drinking water ONLY. Chemo is very dehydrating, and I worked really really hard to keep myself hydrated through all my treatments, but there were weeks after each treatment when water just didn’t taste good at all.  Food didn’t taste good.  Nothing tasted good.  I switched from drinking my water out of a metal cup, to drinking it out of glass, and that seemed to help, but it was just plain hard some days to choke water down.  My doctor suggested flavored pedialyte, so I got some of that, and I drank lots of Pom (pomegranate juice), and watermelon water – the no sugar added brand. 

And then I discovered hibiscus tea.  What a wonderful little beverage.  My dearest neighbor had it at her farmstand one Saturday morning, and her husband mixed me up what he called a “suicide.”  Remember those?  That’s funny, because that’s exactly what we called them also, when I was a teenager.  It’s when you fill your glass with a shot of every soda pop variety in the dispenser.  Well the only two things my neighbor had to mix together were the hibiscus tea (which had basil leaves and mint in it) and lemonade with slices of real lemon.  It was fantastic.  It sure is great to finally have my taste buds back.  So I’ve started making my own versions of hibiscus tea, and that’s what I drink now all day every day. It’s how I stay hydrated through these last chemo treatments, and during these HOT summer months.

Our local grocery store sells the dried hibiscus flowers by the bag in the Mexican products section, so I stay stocked up with several bags on hand, and I make about a half-gallon of the stuff every other day.  I keep lemons and limes on hand, and I grow my own mint and basil (my sweet neighbor grows balsamic basil and it is the best).  I’m trying to grow my own balsamic basil, but until it gets big enough to harvest I just snag it from her at her farmstand on Saturdays.

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My Method

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I start by tossing a couple small handfuls (approximately 1 heaping cup) of the flowers into a short drinking tumbler, cover it with a strainer to hold the flowers in the glass while I run the water into the glass and over the flowers. The strainer also keeps the flowers from escaping while I’m dumping out the water from the glass. I rinse and dump and rinse and dump about 3 times. This gets all the dirt out of the flowers.

Next, I fill a small saucepan a little over half full with filtered water – approximately 2 cups.  I actually use hydrogen/alkaline water that I buy locally in 5 gallon containers.  Then I bring the water just almost to a boil, to the point where I see the steam rising and small bubbles forming. I dump the rinsed flowers into it, give it a stir, and then turn the heat down to low, and let it simmer for about 10 or 15 minutes, until the water has turned a deep dark red color. I then take it off the heat and let it cool completely. 

Once cooled, I set up my half-gallon mason jar with a canning funnel and set the strainer inside. The funnel keeps the strainer in place while I pour the simmered tea through the strainer into the jar.  I then refil my saucepot with filtered water and let the flowers soak again just a little more, so I get all the last bit of goodie out of them.  I pour that second tea water into the jar, catching the flowers in the strainer.  I like to toss the spent flowers into my garden. They make great compost. Finally, I fill the jar all the rest of the way full with just plain filtered water.

I like to add my sliced lemon, sliced lime, mint leaves, a sprig of basil, or whatever other fruit (sliced strawberries, orange wedges, watermelon slices, sliced cherries or grapes), to my jar of tea and let it all mingle for several hours overnight before I drink it.  If you just like lemon, do that.  Or just mint.  Or just lime.  It’s all good. You could even make ice cubes out of the tea so it doesn’t delute as you’re drinking it. Or freeze grapes and use them in place of ice cubes.

I twist on my lid and place my tea in the refrigerator.  And hopefully I’ve made this new batch while I still had a huge glass of the old batch left to tide me over until this new batch is ready the next day.

I like mine sweetened, and over ice.  I mostly use agave nectar to sweeten my tea, but I have been known to use maple syrup, date syrup, and honey — raw, unfiltered local honey is the best!!!!!!!! 

I only sweeten by the glassful.  I do not sweeten the whole half-gallon. 

So, there you go. Now it’s your turn to go grab yourself some dried hibiscus flowers, whatever fruit you like, and a sweetener that you prefer, and whip yourself up a batch of this lip-smacking yumminess! Stay hydrated this summer my friends, in the most delicious way!!!!!!! And if you know someone who is going through cancer treatment, be a blessing and take them a nice big jar of this wonderful beverage. If you are feeling especially generous you can include a bag of the dried flowers and a lemon so they can make another batch when they run out. People did so many wonderful things like this for me and each and every one of them were a blessing. May God bless you for all that you do.

“No longer drink water only, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.”

1 Timothy 5:23

Mrs H’s Cold Brew Coffee, in words and pictures!

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Mrs H’s Cold Brew Coffee, in words and pictures!

Okay, there are admittedly LOTS of ways that cold brew coffee can be made and I’ll spare you the long discourse explaining them all. This is my way.  (And I did it MYYYYYY WAYYYYY!!!) Yes, I sang that last part in my head as I typed it. Someone else probably already figured out the method I use a long time ago, and possibly even posted it somewhere on the web, truly there is nothing new under the sun, but as far as I know this is my own invention.  This is my easy-peasy small batch method, and these are the things that you will need to make it:

• 1 quart-sized Mason jar with lid

• Cool, filtered water

• A high-quality food grade fine mesh stainless steel (paperless, washable/reusable) cone-shaped filter with stand. The little stand that came with mine has a slip-proof band around the base of it, and the cone filter has a silicone grip on the handle – both are VERY HELPFUL! You can get it at Amazon. It’s pictured below.

* This is a handy little device for lots of things.  You can make hot coffee by simply placing coffee grounds into the funnel part, placing it on top of your mug, and pouring boiling water over them into a large mug.  Makes for a very cheap coffee maker!  Also awesome for when the electricity goes out and you can’t use your fancy espresso machine.  All you’ve got to do is figure out how to boil water – perhaps on a gas stove, in the fireplace or firepit, on the BBQ, or using a Sterno can under your water kettle. You can also use it to make hot tea.  Drop your loose leaf tea into the bottom of the cone and then set the cone down into a large mug.  Pour hot boiling water over the leaves and let them sit and soak a bit.  Then just lift the cone out of the cup and tap the leaves in the trash or garden. 

** If you don’t have one of these fancy little devices and don’t want to go out and buy one, you can, in a pinch, use a cone type paper filter placed inside of a large automotive funnel, and pour your water through that.  Plastic is not good to use with hot stuff (and especially non-food grade plastic).

• A hand crank burr coffee grinder, that can be adjusted to grind coarse, medium, and fine espresso grinds. Or you can just purchase your coffee already ground, if you want. I would suggest getting the whole bean and grinding it at the store at least.

• A glass or ceramic pitcher (I have a French coffee press which works perfectly, plunger removed, pictured below)

• Organic Fairtrade whole coffee beans (you can get really fancy on this and insist that they are mountain grown, in the shade, at cooler temperatures, in Peru, and all that jazz, if you insist). I personally like the dark roasted (French Roast) beans, and if you are a fan of Alton Brown, he says they should be coarse ground, but I’ve used finely ground and it worked out okay.  If you’ve developed a discriminating pallet you’ll probably have your own preferences.

Step One

Fill a clean quart-sized mason jar with cool, filtered water. (I actually use Hydrogen/Alkaline water – I go through about 5 gallons in a couple weeks)

Step Two

Grind the beans (or use pre-ground beans if you prefer, but just make sure they are a good quality).  For a quart of water I use 4 heaping tablespoons of coffee grounds.  FYI: My husband dropped this bit of trivia on me this morning –  whole coffee beans will keep in the pantry for about 3 months, or in the freezer for about a year.  Ground coffee beans will keep for about 1 month in the pantry, but not at all in the freezer.  Freeze dried instant coffee will last a few years, unopened, in the pantry and indefinitely in the freezer. 

* I use organic fairtrade coffee beans because they are grown without pesticides, and I think they also have less chemicals in the processing.  But, I’m actually an organic everything person now that I’ve experienced cancer.  It may cost a little more to buy organic things vs non-organic, but when you are mostly just shopping in the produce section and limited by the lesser amounts of organic stuff available, I think I actually spend less money than I used to on groceries to feed myself.  It’s honestly the Junk food, processed foods, drinks, and snack foods that are expensive.  If all you are buying are the basics (fruits and veggies, little bit of dairy, tiny bit of meats, and an occasional bread product) and you prepare it all yourself, you’d be surprised at how much less it costs to eat and how much better you feel.  

** I use a burr grinder (recommended by my daughter) to get uniform pieces of bean.  Alton suggests a coarse grind.  I have used medium and fine grinds and had adequate success.  Again, it’s a taste preference. Experiment and see if you can tell a difference.  An electric burr grinder would be a nice tool too, if you can afford it.

Step Three

Add the coffee grounds to the water in the Mason jar, seal with a tight-fitting lid, and give the jar a good but gentle shaking to mix everything up. 

Step Four

Place the Mason jar on your kitchen countertop and let it steep at room temperature for about 24 hours.  I give mine a little gentle shake and swirl several times during the day.

Step Five

Set the cone filter on top of the ceramic pitcher and then pour the coffee through it to separate out the grounds. 

Step Six

Dispose of the grounds however you see fit.  You can toss them in the trash, or use them for compost in the garden.

Step Seven

Pour yourself a freshly cold brewed cup of wonderfulness, adding whatever sweetener you like, or not, and a splash of Half and Half, or not.  Save the remainder of the freshly brewed coffee into a clean Mason jar with a tight fitting lid and store it for up to a week in the fridge. 

P.S. Alton uses a concoction of honey, Agave Nectar, Blackstrap Molasses, and a splash of water mixed together in a squeeze bottle to sweeten his cold brew.  He also augments his coffee beans with chicory.  Check out his Good Eats episode on the Food Network. I don’t care for sweet coffee, just creamy, and of course I only use organic Half and Half. 

BTW: Ever notice how far out the expiration date is on organic milk products? Yes, it’s more expensive than the regular stuff, but it also lasts three times longer in the fridge.  You don’t end up tossing out half used gallons of stinky, expired milk.

Step Eight

Wash everything.  Store it away.  Start all over again in a week – or sooner if you want to live on the wild side and drink 2 cups a day. LOL

NOTE: You could use a French coffee press for making your coffee.  In fact, I have one of those too. It makes fabulous hot coffee. But it works equally well for cold brewing. After adding the water and grounds to the press, and stirring, cover it with the lid, but leave the plunger thingy all the way up until after the coffee has brewed for 24 hours.  During the brewing phase periodically remove lid and stir the contents throughout the day and just leave it sitting on the kitchen counter.  The next day slowly press the plunger down to force the spent grounds to the bottom of the appliance.  Pour out your beverage and enjoy.  If using your press and you have leftovers, you’ll want to transfer the coffee to another container so you can remove the spent grounds before storing the coffee in the fridge.  The smaller press would be a great option for when you just want to make a fresh batch every day.  Less water will require less grounds, of course, than what I use for my Mason jar method.  But maybe you like your coffee STRONG? You’ll have to experiment until you get it just the way you like it. 

The Long Monologue…

Now here’s my story part … if you are interested. I’ve tucked it all the way down here, instead of at the top of my post, so that you wouldn’t have to suffer through a sea of words just to get to the silly recipe, which is sometimes all you really care about, right? You’re welcome! But seriously, this is interesting so please keep reading. LOL

Soooooo, here’s the thing about cold brew coffee.  And this could just be me – as I am totally aware that I do have some pretty unique and uncanny eccentricities about me, but it’s entirely possible, and so I warn you up front, that once you’ve tasted this magnificent, eye-popping beverage you may find yourself as instantaneously and hopelessly swallowed up by its intoxicating qualities as I am. 

I mean, it would be easy to make an idol of the danged stuff.  Seriously!  I spend most my days obsessed and utterly preoccupied with the thought of the taste of it.  And I’ll tell you, God and coffee go extremely well together, as it turns out, and it would be really easy to just let the two of them be friends, and I be the glue that holds them both together, FOREVER!  That’s how bad my craving tries to become. I even have all the accoutrements for making it – well, maybe not ALL of the accoutrements. But I also have a supply of beans in my freezer at all times, as a prepping exercise, should things on earth go suddenly south, and I not have access to my morning beverage. Does that make me a coffee snob?  Eeeks!  

Honestly, it’s on my mind from the minute the last drop of my singular morning cup has rolled over my tongue and slidden (is that a word?) past the gauntlet of my tonsils and uvula, over my windpipe, and down my gullet.  I barely make it to lunchtime before I am tempted again, and then there is the afternoon craving, and the suppertime one, and another that hits me when I sit down to watch a little bit of TV before bed. I tell you, I find myself counting down the hours to my next cup like the count down clock of a sports period. I can hardly wait for morning.

It’s my delirious daydream right up until I finally fall asleep at night.  I’m sure I probably dream about it too, if I could remember my dreams. I wake up in the morning giddy and excited, uttering the words “coffee, coffee, coffee” in my head like a maniacal lunatic and a broken record, over and over again, as I grope for my slippers by the soft rays of sunlight gleaming through my bedroom windows, and dance (yes dance) on my tippy-toes, spinning in little circles all the way to the kitchen, wagging my tail as I go.  Okay, some of that might be an exaggeration. But I confess, I’ve got the fever!!!!!  Which could explain why I am here taking pictures and blogging about it a mile a minute at 2:30 in the afternoon. I need help, but please don’t help me. Just run, while you still can, if you haven’t already fallen into the trap.

Of course I’m trying to be funny, which may or may not be working. I really do have to make a conscious effort to take dominion over this particular craving and make my body submit. So I limit myself to one small cup in the morning. I make myself drink water first, take my supplements, and let them absorb before hitting my bloodstream with caffeine. I walk during that time (for an hour, and sometimes two) and spend that time praising God and praying, and then I let myself have that one lone little cup of joe while I read the scriptures or listen to a preaching podcast, or do my housework. Drinking coffee, thank goodness, isn’t a sin. If it were I’d really be in trouble, because the Bible says that if our eye causes us to sin, that we would be better off poking it out. I’d sure hate to have to cut out my tongue (although I know Jesus was speaking metaphorically). I’m just trying to be grateful for the one cup and not greedy or gluttonous for more. Just this small taste of addiction gives me sympathy for those with serious addictions for other things much more serious, like alcohol, drugs, sex, money, and food. The word of God says that no temptation overcomes us except what is common to men, and that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I have the power to overcome because the Holy Spirit lives in me. The word of God tells me to take captive every though to the obedience of Christ. I can either submit to Him or fall prey to my cravings. I’m choosing the former.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.”

1 Corinthians 6:12

UPDATE: My thoughtful oldest daughter read my blogpost and sent me a text asking if she could send me some decaf. OMGosh…Decaf. Duh. How stupid of me. Guess I was having a blonde moment, or maybe a “senior” moment, or a chemo brain moment??? Actually, I’m pretty sure I was just born this way. LOL

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Coming soon … 

>>>>>> Mrs. H’s Hibiscus Tea recipe! <<<<<<<

This is how I stayed hydrated through my chemo treatments and kicked my iced tea habit. You don’t want to miss it, so push the subscribe button and stay tuned.

Sweet Fig Bread with Rosemary Honey Butter

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Sweet Fig Bread with Rosemary Honey Butter

INGREDIENTS

2 c. all-purpose flour + 2 Tablespoons

¾ cup dark brown sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp Saigon Cinnamon

1 tsp. Arabian 7 Spice (allspice, ground cardamom, ground black pepper, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, gound ginger)

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled

2/3 cup buttermilk

3 eggs

1 tsp Vanilla (pure)

2 cups coarsely chopped fresh figs

1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray Bundt pan with baking spray.

Mix dry ingredients together.  Mix wet ingredients together.  Mix the two together until just blended.  Pour into Bundt pan.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes.  Check for doneness – insert a toothpick and if it comes out clean it’s done.  If not, let bake another 5 or so minutes.  Remove from oven, cool slightly, invert bread onto wire cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely.  Slice, and serve with Rosemary honey butter.

Rosemary Honey Butter

Mix ½ cup room temp butter with 2 Tablespoons good quality honey.  Mince about ¼ tsp fresh Rosemary and blend the three ingredients together until well mixed. 

“A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

Luke 13:6-9

Holy Bible, ESV

This is exactly the story with my fig tree. I planted it, watered it. And waited. A year went by. Then two. After the third year I was sure I had gotten a dud. All it would do year after year was produce tiny green figs that would never mature or ripen. They’d just fall off the tree. I wrestled with the idea of chopping it down except it was great for shade and pretty drought tollerant. Then, this year it has decided to give me figs in abundance. The branches are literally loaded! 🙂 I call it my “snack bush” because as I am out mowing my yard, or watering my garden, or doing whatever yard work, it provides a sweet little energy boost every time I walk by and snatch myself a ripe fig to eat.

This recipe for Sweet Fig Bread is one of my favorite ways to use the summer abundance of figs. It is positively delicious all by itself, but the Rosemary Honey Butter kicks it up a notch. Besides bread, I also love fig preserves on a toasted English Muffin, and I also like to dry them and make my own Fig Newtons. If I get a bumper crop in the fall, I also like to add them to my wild rice stuffing at Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy this recipe, and that you are doing well, happy, and healthy. God bless you friend, and thank you for stopping by. <blowing kisses>

Mr. Popper's Penguins, Classroom Book Party

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Mr. Popper's Penguins, Classroom Book Party

I just so happen to know a classroom of 2nd Graders, who are about to finish their book, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and a teacher who is generous to allow an ol’ gray-headed granny to workout her party animal muscle on an excited group of fun-seeking little readers.

Like most classroom book parties, this one features decorations, games, snacks, and a movie. I did some research here in order to gather ideas, since I have not read this book.

I thought the kids might like dressing up like little penguins (large white t-shirts with long black jackets, and puffy yellow penguin-feet slippers) and then putting on some of the same acts from the book, that Captain Cook, Greta, and their adroable waddling mini-mes did, for their teacher and classmates. I’ll divide the classroom into three groups. They won’t know why until I take the first group outside in the hallway where they’ll put on their costumes and then hear my instructions for putting on a silly show. The first group will come out on stage and do some marching – which may involve the passing off of a penguin egg or baby penguin (stuffed animal), and I’m hoping they will really get into character to make the show entertaining for their audience. That group will then exit the stage, take off their costumes, and take their places back at their desks. The next group will enter the hallway, don their penguin apparrel, take their turn on stage, and have a silly boxing match with oversize boxing gloves and some silly fancy footwork. Finally, the last group will take the stage, climb up on bean bags and slide back down, to the whoots and cheers of their adoring classmates.

I’ll put up a map of the United States on one of the classroom walls, and during the movie, pause to let the kids move penguin stickers across all the places where the penguins put on their shows.

The kids will get to watch the movie and at the same time nibble on some fun snacks, which I’ll serve on penguin paper plates, with penguin paper cups and napkins.

SNACKS:

undefined Penguin Rice Crispy Treats

— OR — a more healthy alternative

undefined Penguin Banana Snacks

Goldfish crackers undefined

undefined Snowcones in a cup – our little school happens to have a snowcone machine – hurray!!!!

undefined

Easy Sonic Ocean Water Recipe

5 min·Yield: 3

You have to try this Sonic Ocean Water Recipe. Make your favorite Sonic Ocean water at home.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp Water
  • 3 tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Coconut Extract
  • 4 drops Blue Food Coloring
  • 24 oz Sprite ((can be 3 cans or from a 2-liter that you can get for cheap))

Soooooo, now you know my plans. I’ll head back to this post in a few weeks and add pictures, just as soon as my little munchkin-hearts get to have their epic-antarctic party!!!! I’m so looking forward to it. ❤

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!

   * * *

“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

   * * *

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

Our Big Fat End-of-the-school-year Classical Academy Toga Party

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Our Big Fat End-of-the-school-year Classical Academy Toga Party

Costumes

  • Togas  (made from white sheets and king-size pillowcases), with golden rope for belts
  • Laurel wreath head garlands – given as prizes for Olympics  (made from green posterboard and spray painted with gold glitter paint)
  • Sandals  (made from cardboard and ribbon)

Decorations

  • Classroom door:  Pillars on each side, sheer white curtains draped over the top, and a “Phi-Beta-Kappa (ΦΒΚ) TOGA PARTY HERE” sign hanging crooked on the doorknob.  *P.S. Phi Beta Kappa means “Love of wisdom is the guide of life” or “Philosophy is the governor of one’s life.” (*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phi_Beta_Kappa)
  • Food table (in center of the room):  Push all the desks together to make a table and cover it with layers of colorful tablecloths and draped tulle.  Make a centerpiece of tall candlesticks and metal vases with flowers.  Set finger foods around on the table like a buffet.  Set out fixings for Gyros.  Set out platters of cheese curds or cubes, almonds, and varieties of olives; figs, dates, pomegranates, artichokes, and pedestal-bowls heaped with green, red, and purple grapes spilling over the sides.
  • Chase lounge chairs covered in sheets or cushions:  poolside or lawn lounge chairs are what I had in mind.
  • Music CD:  Animal House Soundtrack (some of it is fun and useful), and if you have a computer, or even better, a Roku and TV available there are some marvelous Greek instrumental music (You Tube) videos (some up to 2½ hours long) out there that offer both music and a slide show of Grecian landscapes that are awesome for ambience. 
  • Photo Booth props with backdrop:  Amazon.com

Food

  • Greek “grazing” table (grapes, olives, figs, pomegranates, artichokes, almonds, gyro ingredients: flat bread, Tzatziki, roasted chickpeas or grilled chicken pieces, grape tomatoes, spinach, and cucumbers, Fava dip, *cheese curds, white or purple grape juice in wine bottles, and Baklava for dessert
  • Wine goblets with handles on both sides (like sugar bowls w/o lids), which you can later use to explain an ancient Greek men’s game of throwing out the dregs.

Activities/Games

Foot & Hand Washing

I provided a tub of clean water on a mat beside the classroom entrance, and paper towels, for the kids to wash their own feet and hands.  As soon as they entered the room – with their correct “first” foot, I asked them to remove their shoes and then explained the custom of foot washing.  And then, since food was often eaten with hands, the Greeks also had a custom of hand washing before meals.

Symposium

I introduced several Table Talk discussion topics while the kids were sitting around in the recliners eating (I have a Box of Table Talk cards that I use for dinner table discussions – Food for Talk by Julienne Smith, which the teacher said she also has, that her mother sent to her. It must be a grandma thing! 😉 Too funny!).

Indoor games

I introduced Marbles, Dice, and KnuckleBones (which are available on Amazon: “Gogo Jacks, Rainbow Jacks, Osselets – New Vintage Game of Jacks Full Set of 5 with Instructions.” by On The Go) to the kids, explaining how each is played, and also…

Guess Who? (Family Box game, but replace caricatures that come in the game with my Greek versions – Greek teachers, philosophers, historians, artists, poets, playwrights, etc.  I made sheets of these which you can download and print for free).

I broke the class into 4 groups of 2 or 3 kids.  Each group started at one of the four games.  I gave them about 10 minutes to play their game and then signaled them to stand-up and move clockwise to the next game.

Crafts

I was prepared for two craft projects:  Making sandals, and Making earrings, but we ran out of time to do these.  (They were honestly a back-up plan for inclement weather anyway). 

Olympic games (Outdoors), End-of-the-school-year theme

  • Lunch box discus throw – I filled a lunch bag with dried beans to give it some weight
  • Pencil javelin throw – I used an old broom handle, painted it, and sanded a tip on one end
  • Long jump –  I used full plastic water-bottles for the weights, the larger the better
  • Alarm clock shot-put – I painted a clock face on a rock
  • Reading/Writing/Arithmetic Foot Race Relay – stack books up as obstacles on the track
  • Chariot/horse racing – I made stick horses, but wrap-around cardboard chariots where my other plan  “I have finished the race…”
  • Thumb or Arm Wrestling  (after a popsicle break, the kids can pair up at the picnic tables)

Alternative Outdoor games

  • Medusa Freeze Tag

Story Time

  • Gracee read to the kids for the last 15 minutes out of Aesop’s Fables (FYI: Aesop was born in Greece).

These are some wonderful books that offer tons of ideas, games and crafts a few of which are featured in this post ( I purchased my copies used from online booksellers):

RULES TO GAMES

  • Knucklebones:

The game of knucklebones, also known as astragaloi in Greek and tali in Latin, can be played in several different ways. The simplest and perhaps most common form of this game, played by children, is comparable to the modern-day game of jackstones: all five small pieces are simultaneously tossed into the air, the goal being to catch as many as possible on the back of one hand. Another variation of the game involved players throwing one or more of the pieces into a small dirt hole in the ground or into the opening of a small vessel. He or she with the best aim would win.

  • Marbles

Marbles is a fun game that has been enjoyed for thousands of years.

Setting up the Game

Use yarn to make a circle on the carpet about 3 ft in diameter.

Place 5 of each players (usually three players) small marbles inside the circle, near the center, and arrange them in an X pattern.  The one big marble in your set of marbles is your “shooter” marble.

To determine who goes first have each player sit about 10 feet from a wall and shoot or roll their shooter marble to see who can get the closest. The closest player goes first. Next closest goes second, etc.

Taking a Turn

To take a turn the player kneels outside the ring and then To shoot your marble correctly, tuck your thumb, pinkie, and ring finger into your palm. Wrap your pointer finger around the marble, holding it against your thumb knuckle. Then, with your “knuckles down” on the ground, use your thumb to flick the marble from your finger towards the group of marbles in the center of the circle.

The first shot must be taken from the edge of the circle, but the next shot can be taken from the spot where the shooter landed.

Pick up all the marbles you knocked out of the circle and place them beside you, then have another turn. If no marble is knocked out of the circle, the other player then gets a turn.

Winning in Marbles

When the ring is empty of marbles the game is over.  The player with the most marbles at the end of the game is the winner.

Marble terminology

Taw – shooter marble. It’s usually a heavier marble than the ones in the center so it can knock them out of the circle.  Other names for the shooter marble include Aggie, boulder, Steele, king, and middleman.

Mibs or Kimmies – the marbles in the center of the circle.

Lagging – shooting or rolling the marble to a line to determine who gets to go first.

Mibster – marble player

If you and your friends have sets of collectable or keepsake marbles and you are pretty good players, you may choose to play for “Keepsies.” Most of the time Marbles are played “for fair,” which means that every player keeps their marbles, but sometimes players keep the special marbles they win. One of the first things you want to decide is if you are playing “keepsies” or “for fair” before you begin a game.

  • Yoyo

Here’s a great website for learning Yoyo tricks: https://yoyotricks.com/yoyo-tricks/beginner-tricks/

I picked up the cheap yoyo’s from the toy section at Walmart and they were kind of frustrating for the kids to use. The string wasn’t tied tight around the center of the yoyo, so it made it hard for them to get it wound back up again once the string came unwound. Grrrr. Maybe you can figure out a solution for this?

  • Guess Who? – Greek version

I made cards to replace the cards that came with the game. 

Click HERE for the FREE PRINTABLES I made, so you can make your own Greek Guess Who game.

How to Play Guess Who?

To play this game, first choose your game board and then flip all your frames upright by tipping the game boards.  Players sit facing each other so they can’t see the other player’s frames.  Shuffle the MYSTERY cards and place them face down where each player can reach them.  Each player chooses one MYSTERY card and places it in the slot in the front of their game board.

Notice the differences in each of your 24 faces.  Some are girls, some are boys, some have a red, or black, or yellow background, some are wearing hats, some have beards/mustaches, some are wearing clothes, some are looking to your right, etc. 

The youngest player ALWAYS goes first.  On your turn you may ask ONE yes or no question. Example: Does your person have a gray background?  Your opponent must then answer either “yes” or “no.” If they answer “yes” you may flip down all the faces on your board that do not have a gray background.  After you ask your ONE question, and flip down any faces you can, your turn is over. 

If you are an expert on famous Greek people in history, here are some questions you may want to ask for this special GREEK VERSION of the game:

Is your person a…

Sculptor…doctor…poet…politician…artist…philosopher…mathmetician…author… historian…playwright…astronomer?  

When it is your turn again, and you think you have figured out who the MYSTERY person is, you may guess.  Example: Is your person Archimedes?  But don’t guess until you are sure, otherwise if your guess is wrong you will lose the game.  If your guess is right you win the game.  When you win you may slide your game counter over one point for each game you win.  Begin a new game by flipping all your faces back up, and drawing a new MYSTERY card.   The first player to win five games is the champion.

Recipes

Roasted Chicken or Chickpea Gyros 

from LiveEatLearn.com

Simple and delicious Mediterranean inspired vegetarian Roasted Chickpea Gyros with refreshing tzatziki sauce.

 Prep Time 10 minutes

 Cook Time 20 minutes

 Total Time 30 minutes

 Servings 4 people

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas or 1 ½ cup soaked chickpeas if starting from dry, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp paprika*
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, deboned, skin removed, and chicken cut into bite size chunks
  • 6 pita flatbreads
  • 1 cup tzatziki  (see below)  **This can be purchased ready-made.  Look for it in the deli section at Walmart (they carry it at mine, so it is likely at yours as well)**
  • 1/4 red onion cut into strips
  • 2 lettuce leaves roughly chopped – I used baby spinach
  • 1 tomato sliced – I used grape tomatoes sliced in half
  • I sliced and chopped additional cucumber as a gyro topping

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prep: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pat dry chickpeas with paper towel, removing any skins that may come off. Gently toss chickpeas with oil, paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt. – I poured olive oil over the chickpeas in a zip bag, and then I mixed the spices together and sprinkled over the oiled chickpeas and tossed them in the zip bag to coat.  This method worked very well!!!
  2. Roast: I oiled my baking sheet and let it get hot in the oven BEFORE I spread the chickpeas on it.  Spread chickpeas onto greased rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned but not hard.  I tested, tasted, tossed, and let my chickpeas bake for about another 10 minutes.
  3. Assemble: Spread some tzatziki onto one side of the pita, then sprinkle in ¼ of the chickpeas and add veggies. Fold in half and enjoy!

NOTES

  • *If you don’t like spicy foods, halve the amount of paprika, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Taste a chickpea before baking and adjust flavors as needed. The yogurt does mellow the spiciness of the chickpeas.
  • If your pita breads crack when you fold them, cover them with a moist paper towel and microwave for 20 to 30 seconds. Assemble your sandwich immediately after microwaving.

World’s Best Tzatziki Recipe  

from LiveEatLearn.com

This is the best tzatziki recipe! Refreshing cucumber, creamy Greek yogurt, and zingy lemon make it the perfect condiment for just about everything.

 Prep Time 5 minutes

 Total Time 5 minutes

 Servings 3 cups

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt, can use dairy-free
  • 1 cup shredded or diced cucumber
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp chopped dill
  • Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Thicken yogurt: Strain yogurt using a cheesecloth or paper towel for 30 minutes to 3 hours to remove excess moisture (can skip this step if you’re in a hurry).
  2. Prep cucumber: Meanwhile, sprinkle a pinch of salt onto shredded or diced cucumber and spoon into cheesecloth or paper towels. Let sit for a few minutes then wring it out to draw out moisture.
  3. Mix: Mix together yogurt, cucumber, dill, garlic, and lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

NOTES

  • Add a touch of extra-virgin olive oil for flavor and shine.
  • Serve with pita, veggies, on Roasted Chickpea Gyros, or really anything!
  • The flavors become less tangy as you let them sit, so your tzatziki might just be best the next day.

Fava Dip

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dry yellow split peas, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup roughly chopped red onion
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Paprika for garnish (optional)

Instructions

1. Place the split peas in a large saucepan with 5 cups of warm water. Set the burner to high heat and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Skim any foam that forms on the surface of the liquid, then add the red onion, scallion, and garlic. Return the liquid to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the peas are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Once the peas are tender, turn off the heat and add the olive oil and salt. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture (or process in batches in a tabletop blender). Taste and add more salt as needed.

3. The fava will thicken as it cools. Serve topped with a generous drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika; provide crusty bread and/or sliced vegetables for dipping.

Baklava 

from fifteenspatulas.com

This heavenly baklava combines honey-soaked layers of flaky phyllo pastry with spiced walnuts. It’s a great make-ahead dessert!

Ingredients

For the Baklava:

  • 16 oz walnuts
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom (plus a pinch of ground cloves)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 boxes phyllo dough* thawed
  • 1 cup butter melted

For the Syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup good quality honey**
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 strip orange peel
  • 1 strip lemon peel

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Pulse the walnuts in a food processor with the cinnamon, cardamom, and salt until well chopped.
  3. To assemble the baklava, place 8 layers of phyllo dough one-by-one on the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan, brushing each lightly with butter.
  4. Spread 1/5 of the walnut mixture evenly on top (about 2/3 cup).
  5. Add another 5 layers of phyllo one-by-one, brushing each with butter, then add another layer of nuts. The total sequence should be phyllo layers of 8,5,5,5,5,8, with nuts in between those layers. 
  6. Carefully cut the Baklava into squares or triangles with a buttered knife.
  7. Bake the baklava for 50 minutes, until golden on the edges and tops.
  8. In the meantime, bring all the syrup ingredients to a boil in a saucepan, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  9. Remove the citrus peels and cinnamon stick, and pour the hot syrup evenly over the hot baklava. 
  10. Let the baklava cool completely at room temperature for 8 hours (uncovered, to prevent sogginess). Then it’s ready to enjoy!
  11. Can be served with chocolate syrup drizzled over the top of each slice.

Notes

*Note fifteenspatualas said: “My 1-lb box of phyllo said it had 18 13×18″ layers, so I cut them in half, and had 36 sheets total for my 9×13 pan.” but I (mrshlovesjesus) had a 10½” X 15½” pan and I used 1 1/2 boxes of Phyllo.

**I cannot overstate how important it is to use a good honey here. If it comes in a bear shape bottle, probably steer clear. Ideally look for raw honey.

Print the following schedule and have it handy to review as you conduct your party

Party Schedule

11am               Set-up and decorate classroom (food table), lawn loungers, put CD in boom box, set Olympic games stuff by back door  (Remember to bring CAMERA and take pictures)

11:45am          When children arrive have them take off their shoes at the door and “wash” their feet and hands with wet paper towels.  Give them each a TOGA to put on and then let them pose and take Photo Booth pictures – serious faces and silly faces.

12:15pm          Symposium (let the kids help themselves to gyros, fruits, nuts, and “wine,” and while they are eating introduce a few discussion starters that we can all talk about from my box of Table Talk cards.  After the kids have eaten lunch let them get dessert – Baklava.

12:45pm          Indoor games (Yoyos, Marbles, Knucklebones, Guess Who?  Explain how each toy or game is played.  Divide the group into sets of 2 or 3 kids.  Give each group a toy/game to play with.  After 5 or 10 minutes have each group rotate to the next toy)

1:30pm            Crafts (make sandals & earrings) followed by Dancing to LouieLouie, and Twistin the Night Away.  At the end of that give the youngest kid in the group the Olympic torch and let him/her lead us all to the playground for the games.

2:00pm            Outdoor Olympic Games:

  • Lunch box discus throw
  • Pencil javelin throw
  • Water-bottle weights long jump
  • Alarm clock shot-put
  • Foot Race (books stacked as hurdles) -or- Horse/chariot Race (stick horses)
  • Thumb or Arm Wrestling

Demonstrate how each event is done and give each child a chance to practice a few times before competing. 

Give the kids a Popsicle break after they’ve completed the series of events, and then after that we will conduct a Pentathlon where each kid will do the whole series of events by themselves to see who can complete it in the fastest time. 

All competitors will be given a laurel wreath head garland in an awards ceremony.

3:15pm            Kids will return to classroom and prepare for dismissal, while Gracee reads to them a few Aesop’s Fables.

PARTY TIPS: I don’t know about you, but I am usually so forgetful about taking pictures.  I just get so busy keeping the party moving that I don’t think to stop and take pictures.  I also often forget to eat and get to the end of the party so famished that all I want to do is collapse in exhaustion!  So, if you are like me and want to have printed memories of your party, prearrange for someone to take pictures of everything from the table to the party itself – EVERYTHING, and also, make sure you eat something that will stick to your ribs BEFORE the party starts!!!!!  So you have energy to be your best, joyous self.

“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (KJV)

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MrsH’s John Wayne (Anaheim Chiles) Casserole

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MrsH’s John Wayne (Anaheim Chiles) Casserole

This recipe was originally featured in a McDonell-Rickards 20th Family Reunion Cookbook.  I received a copy of the cookbook from my mother-in-law.  My father-in-law (whose mother was a McDonell/Rickards) was friends with one of John Wayne’s stunt doubles and I’m told that’s how we got the recipe.  I think John Wayne must have given it out to a lot of folks, as I’ve seen it featured in several other cookbooks and recipe collections throughout the years.

I’ve altered it slightly from the original recipe, and it is one of my husband’s favorite dishes.  He requested it this year for his birthday and since it is fresh in my mind I decided it was a blog-worthy recipe to share with y’all.  It is a little bit time consuming to make with fresh chilies, but they are a must if you want your casserole to pop with flavor!  We like the spicy chilies the best!!!!!!!!

John Wayne ingredients

INGREDIENTS

18-20 fresh Anaheim or Fresno (or New Mexico – Hatch) green chilies

1 stick of butter

1 very large white or yellow onion, chopped

3  8-oz packages of pepper-jack Cheese, shredded

10 large eggs

½ cup of flour (seasoned)

1 tsp salt (and ground black pepper to taste)

Fresh salsa (or warm Ranchero sauce)

Sour Cream

Chopped green onion

Chopped cilantro

Preparing Hatch Chiles

INSTRUCTIONS

I start by roasting my chilies with a propane flame torch in our fire pit.  I lay all my chilies out on the rack and then light the gas torch and run it up and down each chili until the skins start popping and blistering and turn black all over.  Then I use BBQ tongs to turn the chilies over and roast them on the other side.  When I’m done I gather them up into a plastic bag and let them steam in the bag for about an hour.  I sometimes grow my own chilies in my garden, and don’t always get very many at each picking.  So after roasting and steaming the few that I’ve picked, I put them in my freezer to keep until I have enough to make my casserole.  This is a great way to keep your chilies also if you buy in bulk and want to have them all winter for recipes.  Don’t peel them until you’re ready to use.

Next, I melt a stick of butter in my frying pan and chop up a very large white or yellow onion.  I turn the heat down to medium, add the onion, and let it sauté over medium (to low) heat until the onions are completely caramelized.

caramelized onions

Meanwhile, while the onions are cooking I peel the green chilies at the sink.  I pull off the stems, swipe out all the seeds, and stack the split and flattened chilies on a plate.  This is the worst part of the prep.  The chilies often cause choking – (If you are sensitive you could wear a mask).  Be careful also that you wash your hands really well afterward and don’t touch your eye or something.  The residue on your fingers can cause irritation.

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When my onions are ready then I am ready to begin assembly.  Preheat oven to 350*F. 

Drizzle melted butter (from the onions) onto the bottom of an oblong glass casserole dish.  Use approximately 6 chilies to cover the bottom of the dish from side to side and end to end.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the shredded cheese over the chilies, and then spoon about 1/3 of the caramelized onions around on the cheese.  Repeat with a layer of about 6 chilies, another 1/3 of the cheese, and some more onions.  Finish with a final layer of chilies, cheese, and the onions.

Break eggs into a large bowl.  Add half-and-half, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and the seasoned flour (I like the Louisiana brand Fried Chicken Batter mix, but if you don’t have any just add a generous teaspoon of Cajun seasoning – like Slap Yo Mama to your plain white flour).  Whip with a whisk until fully combined, and then pour this mixture over the chilies in the casserole dish.  Place spoonfuls of salsa here and there on the top of the casserole.  Place in preheated oven and cover with a piece of aluminum foil that’s been wadded up and flattened back out again and then tented over the casserole dish.  Bake for 1 hour.  Remove foil and jostle dish a little bit to make sure the egg has set and is cooked in the middle.  If unsure you can remove the casserole and insert a knife in the center pulling it apart slightly to see if it is set up or still runny.  If still runny, let it bake another 10 minutes and check again.

Let rest a few moments before slicing.  I like to serve it with some fresh salsa (or Ranchero) drizzled on top, and also a dollop of ®Daisy!  Sliced green onions and some minced cilantro are also wonderful for garnishes.

JWCasserole dressed

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TIP: When serving, be careful not to dump your son-in-law’s portion all over the front of him in a fit of clumsiness!  Wow!  Besides being burning hot like molten lava to his flesh, it makes a terrible, horrible mess, ruins his favorite golf shirt, and is impossible to get out of the cracks of the furniture.  Hey, I’ve invented the shirt plate!  OMG, yes, this happened!

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via GIPHY

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happy birthday scripture images Beautiful Scripture and Free Birthday with Bible Verses

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.

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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

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Image and Recipe from Bon appetit

Steak or Chicken Rancheros Gordita (or torta)

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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

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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

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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 Cucumber, Tomato, & Onion Salad

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Mrs H’s Cucumber, Tomato, & Onion Salad

Ooooooo I love the salads of summer!!!!!  This is one of my favs.  My neighbor, Don Kinion used to make it every summer from the abundance of his garden, and lucky us, we got a gift of a nice big jar full every few weeks during the late harvest season, when he had tomatoes and cucumbers coming out his ears.  I have never been able to duplicate his perfect recipe, but this comes pretty close.  Hats off to you  neighbor.  Hope you are doing well!!!!

Ingredients

1 burpless cucumber (the long, skinny, plastic wrapped ones, if you are buying from the store, or any variety grown in the garden)

2 packages of the sweetest cherry tomatoes in the produce department, (or a small bowl full of freshly harvested Sweet One Hundreds Cherry Tomatoes, from the garden)

1 Red Onion (they grow these where I live and so I get the luxury of fresh from the fields, in fact, they often fall off the harvesting trucks right in front of my house.  Ditch food!!!! Love it!)

1/2 cup good quality Olive Oil

1 cup Red Wine Vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Mix up the dressing ingredients first (olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt & pepper), place in a large mason jar, and park in the fridge until ready to mix with veggies.  Give it a shake every once in a while.

Peel some of the skins from the cucumbers.  If you are using the long, skinny store bought ones, the skin if find to leave on.  It is very tender.  But some garden cucs have tough, bitter skins.  I like to leave some of the skin on anyway.  But taste the cucumbers to make sure they aren’t bitter.

Chop the cherry tomatoes in half.

Slice the onion into thin slices, and then give them a rough chop.  Mix all the veggies together in a large glass bowl and pour the dressing over.  Toss to coat and then chill for a few hours in the fridge.  Give them a stir every once in a while (couple hours) until ready to serve.

Tomato Cucumber Onion Salad2

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Serve this alongside any BBQ meat… (or eat it all by itself!!!!! 🙂)

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Smoked &amp; Grilled Meats for summer supper

“Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”  Romans 14:1-4

Mrs H’s Fruity Coleslaw

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Mrs H’s Fruity Coleslaw

This salad makes a terrific side for any BBQ meal, but honestly, I could eat the whole bowl of this all by itself for dinner.  Hey, and small tip (take it or leave it)… when I am taking this for a church pot luck or another big get-together I keep the dressing and the slaw separate from each other until the last-minute before serving.  I prefer my slaw crunchy not wilted, and creamy rather than runny.

Okay, let’s get this party started…

Bowls n Spoon

Ingredients

1½ cups Hellmann’s Mayonnaise

2 tsp. True Lemon powder (available in the seasonings section of the grocery store, https://www.truelemon.com/product/true-lemon-shaker/)

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 small can crushed pineapple, drained (juice discarded, or saved for something else)

7 cups shredded and chopped green cabbage

½ cup thinly sliced and diced Fuji apple (skin on, core and stem removed) – if not serving right away toss in a baggie with some lemon juice to prevent browning.

¼ cup white raisins (must be white, no icky dark raisins)

½ cup chopped green bell pepper

¼ cup slivered, toasted almonds

Directions

In small bowl, mix Mayo, True Lemon powder, sugar, and crushed pineapple together, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  (The reason I use True Lemon powder instead of juice is just to create the creamiest texture).

In large bowl toss cabbage, apple, raisins, and bell pepper.  Cover and keep in fridge until ready to serve.

Just before serving toss dressing with cabbage and then toss in almonds.  Serve immediately.

Cole Slaw Fruity

This slaw makes a great side dish for smoked or grilled meats, such as…. (pictured below top to bottom, L to R are BBQ Brisket, grilled Chicken Bombs, Bistecca or Chimichurri Steak, Chopped Pepper Steak with Blue Cheese Garlic Butter, grilled Texas Redfish, PiriPiri Chicken, Pork Loin, grilled Kielbasa, and Korean Style Ribs).

Smoked &amp; Grilled Meats for summer supper

Have a blessed meal, my friend! 

“Better is a dish of vegetables where love is than a fattened ox served with hatred.”  Proverbs 15:17