Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Chicken Chick

One of the blogs I like following is The Chicken Chick. Take a visit, especially if you fancy all thing chickens and eggs! It's worth the visit and so are the blog hops!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Apple Dumplings and Peanut Brittle for Christmas

Apples are always plentiful this time of year, and this is a favorite way to eat them. Apples differ in variety in that some are better suited to eating fresh, others for cooking and baking, cider, and others for preserving. My #1 favorite apple for pies and dumplings is a Macintosh. Excellent flavor, and it cooks/bakes up tender without being mushy or too crunchy. Winesaps come in for a close second.

If you are interested in learning about apples and the best for each purpose, there is a whole science behind it.

                                                                           Apple Dumplings


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
1/3 cup cold water
8 medium tart apples, peeled and cored
8 teaspoons butter
9 teaspoons cinnamon-sugar, divided


1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter, cubed

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in shortening until crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Divide into eight portions. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 350°. Roll each portion of dough between two lightly floured sheets of waxed paper into a 7-in. square. Place an apple on each square. Place 1 teaspoon butter and 1 teaspoon cinnamon-sugar in the center of each apple.

Gently bring up corners of pastry to each center; pinch edges to seal. If desired, cut out apple leaves and stems from dough scraps; attach to dumplings with water. Place in a greased 13x9-in. baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar.

In a large saucepan, combine sauce ingredients. Bring just to a boil, stirring until blended. Pour over apples.

Bake 50-55 minutes or until apples are tender and pastry is golden brown, basting occasionally with sauce. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream a la mode, my favorite!

Another holiday favorite is peanut brittle and this is so easy, you'll wonder why you didn't make it before. All done in the microwave.

                                                                      Peanut Brittle


1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup salted peanuts
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda


Butter a cookie sheet. Combine sugar and corn syrup in a 2 quart glass bowl and microwave on high 4 minutes. Stir in peanuts and microwave on high 3 1/2 minutes more, then stir in butter and vanilla and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.

Stir in baking soda until light and foamy. Pour onto cookie sheet and spread thin. Cool completely and break into pieces and serve.


This week is the Festival of Lights. While I don't have much time to devote to it this year while working, we still observe and celebrate. For those that would like to know more about this special week and why it is important,


My silver tree of life menorah had an untimely accident so this piece above acted in its place this year. I always want lamb for this celebration, as I do Passover. So, Hanukkah dinner this year was Montreal seasoned lamb shank chops with mint jelly, latkes, red beets, spinach with a pinch of vinegar and salt, cinnamon applesauce, and a bottle of Bully Hill's Sweet Walter Red wine. Red velvet cheesecake served as dessert. If you look back through the archives, you will find numerous Hanukkah recipes I've posted for this time of year. Sadly, I didn't have time to make my apple cake or kugel this year.

 Tomorrow I will make matzo ball soup, which I think should just be a staple for the season, period. Nothing spells comfort food like matzo ball soup!

                                                             Matzo Ball Soup!


Chicken Soup:

1 (5 or 6 pound) hen
2 large celery stalks with leaves, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced in big chunks
1 onion, quartered
3 sprigs parsley
3 sprigs fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Matzoh Balls:

4 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons chicken fat (from the above soup)
1 cup matzoh meal
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup hot water
12 cups salted water


Wash the chicken with water and place in pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off bubbling foam as it forms. Add celery, carrots, onion, herbs, salt and pepper and simmer, half-covered at lower heat, for at least 45 minutes, until the chicken seems done. The chicken will come away easily from the bone. Pour soup through strainer to get a clear broth. Let cool. When broth has completely cooled, skim off the fat and save for the matzoh balls.

In a mixing bowl, mix together 4 eggs and 4 tablespoons chicken fat. Stir in the matzoh meal and salt. Add 1/4 hot water. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Form the matzoh dough into balls the size of walnuts. Bring the salted water to a boil. Add the matzoh balls, cover, and cook for 20 minutes (don't even peek!). Bring the chicken broth to a simmer. Remove matzoh balls from hot water with a slotted spoon and add to the simmering chicken broth just a few minutes before serving.

Note: If you are concerned if the oils or other ingredients in these recipes are suitable for Passover, seek non-dairy substitutes or ingredients that are certified kosher for Passover.

Catching up for the Holidays!

I've been AWOL again. Work/life balance isn't the best at this time of year but I still love and enjoy it.  As some of you know, I love to decorate for the holidays, although I didn't have time to go all out this year. So here is a small tour. This is one of the nicest trees I've had in a long time, a nice concolor fir tree. The smell is amazing! While no fancy tablescapes this year, at least it feels like home.

 My poor Nativity set is hiding underneath the coffee table due to rambunctious dogs!

 The angel topper is special to me this year as I found her for $3 at a flea market shop and she is just the very angel I have been searching for for years. I wanted an angel but thought most looked so cheesy. But this one is perfect for me!

 Many thanks to my best friend for gifting me with this lovely Morgan horse garden stake. I love it so much, I worked it into my porch decorating!
 I decorate my dining room chandelier every year as well, it's too good of an opportunity to miss!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Salad Dressings

Since it the time of year for salads as well as all that other produce coming out of the garden, thought I'd share some favorites around here. I've included a home made pizza sauce recipe at the bottom, I'll devote another blog entry to tomatoes.


This can be used as a sauce for dipping or salad dressing....for the dressing, add a little more orange juice. 

Honey Mustard Dressing

3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons honey 
2 tablespoons yellow mustard 
1 tablespoon lemon juice or juice from 1/2 lemon 
Horseradish, to taste 
2 tablespoons orange juice (more or less as needed)

Combine all ingredients except orange juice; stir well. Thin to pouring consistency for dressing or dipping consistency for dips with orange juice. Cover and chill for 2 or 3 hours.

This is one of our favorite salad dressings. I usually triple up the batch as mike loves it. I toss this with spinach and strawberries also, best ever salad!

Poppyseed Dressing

Ingredients 1/3 cup olive oil  1/4 cup sugar  3 tablespoons white or balsamic vinegar  2 tablespoons sesame seeds  1 tablespoon poppy seeds  1 tablespoon chopped onion  1/4 teaspoon paprika  1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Throw it all in a blender.

Celery Seed Dressing

Here is another we like and I make, celery seed dressing.

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 of an onion, grated (recipe did not stipulate size of onion)
1/3 cup vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon celery seed


Here is a really yummy creamy balsamic vinegar dressing for your summer salads.

Balsamic Vinegar Dressing

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chives, minced
1 teaspoon parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup olive oil, extra virgin
fresh ground black pepper


Whisk balsamic vinegar, chives, parsley, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and sugar together.
Add olive oil while whisking until all the oil is incorporated.
Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Refrigerate until needed.


Pizza Sauce Recipe

Homemade Pizza Sauce is an easy, yet super delicious recipe to take your pizza night to the next level! Make this pizza sauce up to a week before and you'll always be ready for friends!
Serves: 2 cups
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  1. Drizzle olive oil into 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent and tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic, cayenne pepper, and dried oregano. Cook for about 1 minute to release flavors.
  1. Pour in tomatoes, tomato paste, and add salt, sugar, and black pepper. Stir well to combine. Add fresh oregano. Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring often to prevent any sticking or burning.
  1. Remove from heat and use immediately or allow to cool before storing in an airtight container for up to one week.
If your pizza sauce seems a bit chunky, you can use an immersion blender or regular blender to make it rich and creamy.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

My Garden Project...

So, some may wonder what's kept me so busy that I have been neglectful posting. Well, this year, besides the little garden I put in next to the house, we got an actual garden in as well, a plot roughly 30 x 20. This is a labor of love for me this year after the terribly hard winter we had. I ordered all GMO free heirloom organic seed and all seedlings I started inside myself and then we transplanted and planted the rest the end of May. The garden is also pesticide and herbicide free.  My other half has been a great help. Most things are doing wonderfully, only a couple of duds. I plan to save seed from what I like this year. Our sweet corn is just developing ears now. I also have onions, watermelon, lettuce, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower, pole beans and pole cucumbers. Those last two are not happy campers. I have been getting tons of zucchini from the garden for over a week now. But I'll share what else I have coming!

I have 5 varieties of tomatoes planted. Amish paste, Romas, Purple giants, Polish giants, and supersonics.

Below is my Hubbard squash

This is my spaghetti squash vines going crazy, the fence did not contain them!

This is my volunteer pumpkin. I did not plant this. But the seeds from my pumpkins I decorated with for Halloween must really like it there, because it took off! I don't have to buy pumpkins this year! Who would have guessed the rocky corner of my walk would make them happy.....

Some of the zukes I harvested...

And my kohlrabi!

This is the bed by my house with tomatoes and bell peppers planted in it and marigolds to keep them pest free. They are a good companion planting with tomatoes. 

I hope to have enough tomatoes to can salsa (it's different and awesome) and my spaghetti sauce (also my own and awesome) for this year. I am going to have tons of spaghetti squash and plan to can that as well. We hope to have enough corn to freeze a bit as well. 

And that is why I have been so busy! We've had some changes as well, and the animal parts of that will be in my next post! It's a feast or famine kind of day!


                                                                     HOLY ZUCCHINI!

You may have thought I'd fallen off the face of the earth. Not so! But I do regret not being her and

 will make up for it. Right now is zucchini season here and everyone is always trying to figure 

ways to use it. I love it in casseroles and have included my favorites along with a new one I just

 developed this past week, right below.  I also love it simply sliced thin and sauteed with sliced 

onions, garlic and butter. Or in fritters...or as faux crab cakes. Zukes are versatile and easy to 

work with. This is my concept recipe come to fruition this past week.  I wanted stuffed zukes,

 and  wanted to use corn and sausage, and had a light bulb moment adding cornbread mix. I 

looked online for something that fit the bill, but nothing quite like what I made. It got rave

reviews from family and friends last week.

Helga's Corn Stuffed Zuke Casserole

 * roughly one pound of hot sausage browned

* 3/4 cup diced onion

 * 3/4 C diced peppers

 * 2 cans of creamed corn

 * 2 big zukes, quartered and scooped out 

* corn bread mix 

*1/3 C brown sugar 


Spray a 9x11 casserole dish with cooking spray, and place quartered and scooped out zukes

 in dish. Saute onions and peppers, add to browned sausage and add two cans of creamed 

corn. Mix well and fill zukes in dish. Mix corn bread mix according to package and ad 1/3 C 

brown sugar, spread on top of stuffed zukes. Bake at 350 1 hr.

                                                              Chicken Zucchini Bake

  2-3 cups cooked cubed chicken

1/2 C diced onion

1 C grated carrots

3-4 C grated zukes

1/2 C sour cream

1 can low sodium cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup

6 tbs butter

3 c stove top stuffing mix or dry bread cubes



Mix all together in a bowel and put in a casserole dish sprayed with non-stick spray.

 Sprinkle some sharp cheddar cheese on top. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

                                                               Zucchini Casserole

3 C grated zukes

1 C chopped onion

1/2 C oil 

3 eggs

1 lg minced garlic clove

1 1/2 C Bisquick

3/4 c grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp dill weed

1 tsp season all


Mix all together and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until knife pulls through clean. Mine takes

 about 40 in an 8x8 baker.

This below I spied on Pinterest...Yummy!


This is a DELICIOUS way to use up some zucchini! These cookies are soft and cake like and taste wonderful!
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1¾ cups quick oats
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon together in a large bowl and stir to combine ingredients well. Cut in shortening. Beat in egg until well combined. Add zucchini and oats and beat until evenly mixed in.
  3. Spoon drops of cookie dough onto greased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees F for 8-10 minutes. Let cool.
  1. Cream butter in a medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Add more milk and/or powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached.
  2. Frost cookies once they are completely cooled and sprinkle the tops with a little nutmeg.

I had some friends ask what to make with Patty Pan Squash, here's a couple good recipes!

Pan Patty squash recipes---

Stuffed Patty Pan Squash:

6 pattypan squash, stem and blossom removed

6 slices bacon

1/2 cup diced onion

1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Bring one inch of water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. 

Add squash, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, or until a fork can pierce the stem with little 


 Drain, and slice off the top stem of the squash. Use a melon baller to carefully scoop out the 

centers of the squash. Reserve all of the bits of squash.

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Remove 

bacon to paper towels, and set aside. Saute onion in bacon drippings. Chop the reserved 

squash pieces, and saute them with the onion for one minute.

Remove the skillet from heat, and stir in the breadcrumbs. Crumble the bacon, and stir into the

stuffing along with the Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stuff each 

squash to overflowing with the mixture, and place them in a baking dish. Cover the dish loosely 

with aluminum foil.

Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until squash are heated through.

Patty Pan Squash Saute:

 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups (about 1 pound) baby zucchini, stems removed and cut in half lengthwise

2 cups (about 3/4 pound) small yellow patty pan squash, trimmed
 and cut in half crosswise

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black peppe

3/4 cup (about 16 leaves) fresh basil, torn and loosely packed

1/2 cup (about 32 leaves) fresh mint, loosely packed


In 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, melt butter. Add zucchini and patty pans and sauté,

 stirring occasionally, until tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to large serving dish, sprinkle with 

salt and pepper, add basil and mint, and toss to combine.