Sausage and Rice Casserole

Here’s an easy dish that feeds 6 to 8 people and makes the house smell wonderful while it’s baking. You can use any kind of sausage, cheese, and rice your family enjoys most.

1 lb. sausage
2 C. grated cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 tsp. each onion powder, garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
3 C. hot cooked rice
3 eggs, beaten
1 4 oz. can of mushroom pieces
1/2 C. milk

Cook the sausage, crumble, and drain. Combine cooked rice and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese. Spread into a buttered/sprayed 2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle sausage over rice. Combine rest of the ingredients except for 1/2 C. of the cheese. Pour over the sausage. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 C. cheese over on top of everything. Cover loosely with foil and bake at 350º for 40 to 45 minutes.

Macaroni and Goat Cheese

Homemade mac and cheese surely must be the ultimate comfort food, and the goat cheese in this recipe adds creaminess and just enough zing to set this recipe apart from others. I use whole wheat macaroni, which adds extra nutrition. For seasonings, I like some garlic powder, ground dillweed and parsley.

2 C. dry elbow or shell macaroni
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
2 C. milk
1-2 T. of dried herbs/seasonings
Salt and pepper to taste
4 oz. goat cheese
8 oz. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese,
4 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 C. soft bread crumbs
1 T. melted butter

Cook macaroni following package directions; drain, rinse, and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Stir in flour until well blended and bubbly. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly; continue cooking and stirring until slightly thickened. Add the herbs, salt, and pepper, then stir in the goat cheese and Cheddar. Stir in about 3 ounces of the Parmesan cheese. Continue cooking and stirring until cheeses have melted. Stir in the drained macaroni and turn into the prepared baking dish.

Combine bread crumbs with melted butter and toss with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the casserole. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until bubbly and nicely browned.

Kitchen Hint: Do heels of bread loaves go uneaten at your house? I keep them in the freezer and chop them in the food processor to make bread crumbs for recipes like this one.

Hot Fudge Cake

This fabulous dessert has to be one of the best chocolate concoctions I’ve ever made—and by using so much cocoa powder (Hershey’s Special Dark is my favorite), you can almost convince yourself that those antioxidants make this a healthy fix for your chocolate cravings! The sauce remains syrupy and makes enough to spoon over your ice cream, as well.

1 C. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 C. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 C. sugar

1/2 C. cup milk

2 T. shortening or coconut oil, melted

1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350º and butter/spray an 8” or 9” square pan. Mix together flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and sugar. Stir in milk, melted shortening and vanilla. Spread mixture in the prepared pan (it will be very stiff).

1 1/2 C. brown sugar

5 T. cocoa
1 3/4 C. hot water
Mix brown sugar and cocoa powder and sprinkle over the cake batter. Pour hot water over all. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes, or until cake feels firm beneath the sauce. Serve warm with ice cream. Refrigerate leftovers.

Kitchen Hint: You can re-warm leftover cake in the microwave. Separate into pieces with sauce over each piece, cover, and heat in 30-second intervals until it’s as warm as you want it.

Ham Loaf

Here’s a nice alternative to meat loaf, and it picks up a tangy sweet-sour taste from the glaze as it bakes. You can ask someone at the meat counter in the grocery store to grind your ham—or use a hand-cranked grinder, as Amish women do, or use a food processor blade, as I do. When cold, this loaf slices well for sandwiches!

1 lb. ground ham
1 lb. ground pork
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 eggs
2/3 C. cracker crumbs
1/3 C. Minute tapioca
1/4 C. milk

1/4 C. cider vinegar
1/2 C. water
1/2 C. brown sugar
1 T. mustard

Preheat oven to 350º. In a large bowl, combine the ground ham, ground pork, onion, eggs, cracker crumbs, tapioca, and milk. Mix thoroughly and form into two loaves. Place in a sprayed/greased roaster or baking pan. Mix the glaze ingredients in a small pan and boil for a few minutes, then pour the glaze over the ham loaves. Cover and bake about an hour and a half, basting occasionally. Glaze will thicken as it cooks down. Allow to cool about fifteen minutes before slicing, and serve with glaze.

Kitchen Hint: Minute tapioca isn’t just for pudding or thickening fruit pies! In this recipe, it gives the ham loaf a firmer texture so it won’t break apart when you slice it.
Another hint: You can also bake your loaves in a large crockery cooker for about 6 hours, but the glaze won’t thicken as much.

Lime Bars

Here’s a twist on traditional lemon bars—same soft-gooey-sweet-tart filling, but made with lime instead of lemon!

2 C. flour
1/2 C. powdered sugar
1 C. butter or margarine, softened
4 eggs
2 C. sugar
4 T. fresh lime juice
Zest from one lime
4 T. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 drops green food coloring
Powdered sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease/spray a 9 x 13” pan. Combine the flour, powdered sugar, and butter or margarine until well blended. Press dough into the bottom of the pan, and bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the eggs, sugar, lime juice and zest, 4 T. flour, baking powder, and food coloring. Pour over the crust and bake 20 to 25 minutes more. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cool. These will freeze well with wax paper between layers of bars.

Creamy Chicken Vegetable Soup

Here’s a potful of comfort food for a chilly day, and the tomatoes give this version of chicken soup a little something out of the ordinary. Serve with warm, crusty bread for a satisfying meal.

1 – 1 1/2 lb. of chicken legs and breasts
4 bouillon cubes (chicken or vegetable)
3 large carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced
3 large stalks of celery, sliced thin
2 large potatoes, cubed
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
Basil, salt, garlic, and lemon pepper
3 bay leaves
1 can cream of chicken soup

In a large pot or Dutch oven, cover the chicken pieces with water and boil them about half an hour or until the meat’s cooked through. Reserve the broth. Cut the meat from the bones and into small pieces. Meanwhile, add the carrots, celery, potatoes, onion, and tomatoes to the broth with the seasonings, to taste, and the bay leaves. Add in the cooked chicken pieces. Simmer, covered, for about an hour, adding more water or purchased chicken broth as needed.

Remove the bay leaves. Add the chicken soup last, stirring until it’s blended into the broth. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Kitchen Hint: If you like a more filling soup, add a cup of uncooked rice or macaroni after the vegetables are soft. You’ll need to add another cup or two of broth (or of water and bouillon cubes) to accommodate the way the starch will absorb the liquid as it cooks.

Beef and Bean Stew

Here’s a great filler-upper supper for a cool evening, and since it’s made from canned ingredients it goes together quickly. Serve in bowls, or over split biscuits or cornbread.

1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 20-oz. can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can chili beans, undrained
1 can hominy, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 T. cornstarch
1/4 C. water
Dash of Worcester sauce
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, dillweed, basil, or other seasonings

In a large skillet, brown and beef and onion until cooked through; drain the grease and return this mixture to the skillet. Stir in tomatoes, beans, hominy, and corn and bring to a low boil. Mix the cornstarch and water, then add to stew as a thickener. Add Worcester sauce and other seasonings to taste, and simmer over low heat for about 15 more minutes. Serves 4-6.

Kitchen Hint: Like beans? You can add another can or two of any sort of drained beans (pintos, kidneys, blacks, etc.) You can also serve this fragrant stew over rice or mashed potatoes.

Easy Warm Peaches

I came up with this idea one morning “on the fly,” when I wanted a warm fruit to serve over baked oatmeal. Warm peaches also taste good with granola sprinkled over them.

1 small bag frozen sliced peaches OR
1 large can of sliced peaches

Place sliced peaches, still frozen, in a skillet over low heat. As they thaw and cook, stir to distribute moisture (add a spoonful of water, if needed) and sprinkle with cinnamon to taste. When peaches are heated through and liquid becomes syrupy, remove from heat and serve. If using canned peaches, pour just enough of the syrup into the skillet with the fruit to keep it moist, and stir over low heat, adding the cinnamon.

Kitchen Hint: You can also prepare warm peaches in the microwave. With frozen fruit, heat for two-minute intervals until all the slices are warmed through and the cinnamon is evenly mixed in. With canned fruit, use one-minute intervals.

Annie Mae’s Apple Pie

Looking for a way to perk up an old standby? What a difference it makes to use brown sugar and fresh lemon rind along with your favorite firm apple—my choice is usually Jonathan, Jonagold, or Braeburn.

6 C. tart, firm apples, cored, peeled and sliced
3/4 C. brown sugar
2 T. cinnamon
Dash of salt
4 T. all-purpose flour
Grated rind of one lemon
1 T. fresh lemon juice
3 T. butter
Pastry for a 10” double-crust pie

Preheat oven to 375º. Place apple slices in a large bowl, add brown sugar, spices, flour, the lemon rind and the juice, and mix until apples are coated. Place filling in the bottom crust and dot with butter. Slice the other crust into strips and weave for a lattice top; flute the edges. Cover the edge with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Makes 8 large slices.

Kitchen Hint: I can never get the foil to stay around my crust edge, so I use a nifty adjustable silicone pie shield instead. You can find them in kitchen gadget shops or online.

Sugar Cream Pie

Here’s a something-from-nothing dessert made from simple ingredients already on your shelves. The filling is very much like a classic blanc mange, except the Amish add butter, pour it into a crust, and call it pie!

2 1/4 C. milk
3/4 C. sugar
3/4 C. cornstarch
1/2 C. butter or margarine
2 tsp. vanilla
Cinnamon to taste—2 tsp. at least
1 baked 9” pie shell

Pour the milk into a medium pan and stir in the sugar and cornstarch. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is blended smoothly and starting to thicken. Add the butter/margarine, still stirring, until the mixture resembles a soft pudding. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Pour the filling into the pie shell and sprinkle the cinnamon over the top. Chill.

Kitchen Hint: This is also tasty in a graham cracker crust. You can’t freeze this pie, so gee, you’ll just have to eat it all while it’s fresh!

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