Golden Cream Soup

If you enjoy potato soup, this version sports a few more veggies for variety and the cheese makes it a real comfort food. For variety, or so your men will consider it a meal in a bowl, stir in a cup or two of diced ham or diced cooked chicken!

3 C. cubed raw potatoes
1/2 C. celery slices
1/2 C. chopped onion
1/2 C. sliced carrots
1 C. water
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 T. parsley flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T. real bacon bits or crumbled bacon
2 T. flour
1 1/2 C. milk
1/2 lb. Velveeta cheese cubed

In a soup kettle or two-quart pan, mix vegetables, water, bouillon, and seasonings. Simmer about 20 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Mix the flour into the milk until smooth and add to the pot, cooking until thickened (don’t boil it). Remove from heat and stir in the Velveeta until it’s melted. Makes 6-8 servings.

Kitchen Hint: Because this is a milk-based soup, it won’t keep long in the fridge and it won’t freeze well, so try to eat it all within a couple days of making it.

Breakfast Casserole

Look in any Amish cookbook and you’ll find a dozen different recipes for make-ahead one-pan breakfasts ready to pop in the oven as soon as the cook’s feet hit the floor of a morning. This is a great way to use up bread that’s gone stale. The meats—usually sausage, bacon, or ham—are interchangeable and the aroma that fills the house is guaranteed to entice everyone to your table! Great for dinner, too.

8 slices of bread, cubed
1 lb. cooked sausage, bacon, or ham, crumbled
2 C. shredded cheese, divided
2 C. milk
1/4 C. butter or margarine, melted
6 eggs

Spray/grease a 9 x 13” pan. Arrange the bread cubes on the bottom, then sprinkle on the crumbled meat and half the cheese. In a separate bowl, stir the milk, melted margarine and eggs with a fork until well blended and pour this mixture over the other ingredients.
Stir, if you need to, to moisten all of the bread. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight or for several hours.

Take the casserole from the fridge about half an hour before baking. Preheat oven to 350º and bake for about 40 minutes, until the center is firm. Top with the remaining cheese and return to the oven, uncovered, for 5 more minutes. Let set for about 10 minutes before cutting. Dig in!

Famous Name Pizza Crust

If you don’t associate pizza with Plain folks, think again! This recipe was in The Budget, submitted by an anonymous reader, and after trying it I knew it would be a hit with the kids in this story–and with everyone who likes a thick, bread-like crust for pizza. It makes enough for a couple individual pizzas or one 14” crust.

1 tsp. salt
2 T. sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. oregano flakes
1 T. dry yeast
About 2 1/2 C. flour
1 C. very warm water
2 T. vegetable or olive oil

In a small, deep bowl mix the dry ingredients. Measure the water from the tap, warm but not steaming-hot and stir in the oil, then pour this liquid into the dry ingredients and stir to blend. Finish mixing by hand until the dough holds together, then knead on a floured surface a few times, just until it’s not sticky. Wash the bowl in hot water, spread oil or butter inside it, and put the dough ball in it, turning it to coat the top. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest/rise about 15 minutes. Roll out and place on a pizza pan or stone that’s been spread with cornmeal, and top with your favorite sauce, cheese, and toppings.
Bake about 20 minutes at 375º, or until top and edges are golden.

Kitchen Hint: I use spaghetti sauce, spread it thick, and then put a layer of cheese before adding my meat and chopped veggies…and then I sprinkle on grated parmesan and more shredded cheese. I’ve read that this first layer of cheese keeps the crust from getting soggy from the meat…but since I figure there’s no such thing as too much cheese on pizza, any reason for more cheese works for me! Refrigerate leftovers.

Whole Wheat Italian Sausage Pizza

Truth be told, I prefer a pizza crust with some whole-wheat flour in it…it allows me the illusion that I’m eating a healthier pizza! But then, when you pile on chopped veggies, tomato sauce, and cheese, pizza isn’t really such a nutritional disaster. Makes a fine breakfast the next day, too! This recipe rolls out to cover a 14-16” pizza pan or stone.

1 T. cornmeal
1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
3/4 C. whole wheat flour
2 T. dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3/4 C. very warm water
2 T. vegetable or olive oil
1/2 to 3/4 C. pizza or spaghetti sauce
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage, cooked and drained
1 1/2 – 2 C. chopped toppers such as bell peppers, olives, mushrooms
2 C. shredded mozzarella or other Italian cheeses
1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
More shredded cheese, as desired.

Spread cornmeal on pizza pan or stone. Prepare the toppings by slicing, dicing, etc.

In a small, deep bowl, mix the flours, yeast, sugar and salt. Mix the water (very warm to touch but not steamy-hot) and oil, then pour into the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Finish blending by hand, and then knead briefly on a floured surface until smooth but not sticky. Wash the bowl with hot water, spread inside with oil or butter, and put the dough ball in to rise, covered with plastic wrap, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375º. Roll out the dough on a 14-16” pizza pan or stone, spread with sauce and toppings. Bake about 20 minutes, until cheese is golden.

Kitchen Hint: The more stuff you pile onto the crust, the more time you should allow for baking! And, as with the crust recipe above, there’s no such thing as too much cheese on pizza–I like to put a bigger shred on the sauce, then pile on the meat and veggies, and then top it off with a smaller shredded cheese and the parmesan.

Rhoda’s Oatmeal Cookies

Nothing makes your home smell better than baking cookies! I prefer to use the old fashioned “rolled” oats in everything I bake, but the quick-cooking version will work fine, too. This recipe is a lifelong favorite of my nieces and nephews, always moist and chewy, with lots of raisins, nuts, and cinnamon.

1 C. sugar
1 C. brown sugar, packed
1 C. butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 C. flour
1 tsp. each of salt and baking soda
1 T. cinnamon
3 C. old fashioned rolled oats
1 C. chopped nuts
1 C. raisins

Preheat oven to 350º. Cream the sugars and butter/margarine, then mix in the eggs and vanilla. Add in the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon and mix well. Add in the oats, nuts, and raisins—your dough will be moist but stiff. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheets covered with parchment paper. Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until just starting to brown. Makes about 5 dozen. These freeze well.

Kitchen Hint: As you spoon the dough onto the cookie sheets, leave it in rounded mounds so the cookies stay moister. Don’t overbake! You can also substitute dried cranberries or other dried fruit chunks for the raisins.

Sausage & Cheddar Biscuits

Dense and moist, these scone-like biscuits are always a hit and a special breakfast treat. Maybe it’s the salty-sweet flavor combination, or just the little specks of sausage and cheese that lure you to eat just one more… If it makes you feel healthier, you can use turkey breakfast sausage rather than pork.

12 oz. bulk sausage
3 1/4 C. flour
1/2 C. sugar
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
3/4 C. butter or margarine
1 1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 c. buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 375 º. Cook the sausage until no pink remains, then drain on paper towels and break into small particles (a food processor is fastest, or a hand-held pastry blender works, too). In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and cut in the butter/margarine with a pastry blender (or, you can do this step with the food processor after you remove the sausage, and finish the recipe using the food processor) until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Stir in the cheese and sausage, then add buttermilk all at once and blend until everything’s moistened. Turn this (wet) dough onto a floured surface and knead briefly, then pat into a layer that’s 3/4″ thick. Cut with a 2 1/2″ biscuit cutter (or a drinking glass) and arrange the biscuits on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake about 15 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about 1 ½ dozen. Freezes well.

Kitchen Hint: I don’t keep buttermilk around, so I either use commercial dry buttermilk powder, found in the baking aisle, or I stir 1 T. vinegar into the 3/4 C. of milk and wait a few minutes for it to thicken.

Split Pea Soup

This soup didn’t appeal to me when I was a kid, but wow, do I love it now! It’s an inexpensive meal in a bowl, thick and satisfying, and it packs a lot of healthy fiber.

1# bag of green split peas, rinsed
1 can of chicken broth (garlic is good)
6 C. cold water
2 C. cubed/chopped ham or kielbasa/smoked sausage
1 med. onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped

In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, combine everything except the carrots and celery. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, covered, for about an hour. Stir occasionally. Add the carrots and celery and simmer another 30 minutes, or until peas are mushy and the soup is thick. Serves 10. Freezes well.

Kitchen Hint: Does your favorite soup pot have “hot spots” where thick food tends to stick? Be sure to stir this soup now and again to prevent scorching. Freezes well.

Irish Brown Bread

This makes a big, dense loaf of dark, slightly sweet bread that looks impressive sliced into generous wedges on a platter. Warm it slightly before you serve it, and slather it with butter! Yum!

2 C. whole wheat flour
2 C. white flour
1 tsp. each: baking soda, salt, baking powder
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 stick margarine or butter
2 eggs
3 C. buttermilk

Mix the dry ingredients and cut in the margarine/butter with a pastry cutter. Add eggs and milk and mix thoroughly. Pour into a greased Bundt pan and bake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes (test the cracks with a toothpick). Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn it out to cool completely. Slice and enjoy! Freezes well.

Kitchen Hint: The old buttermilk trick: stir 3 T. lemon juice or white vinegar into 3 C. of milk and let it sit about ten minutes to thicken.

Holiday Banana Muffins

Here’s yet another great excuse to let bananas get too ripe! The fruit, coconut, and chocolate chips make this a very special treat for Christmas breakfast, or bake them in holiday cupcake papers and serve them as dessert!

1/2 C. butter or margarine, softened
1 C. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 C. mashed ripe bananas (2 medium)
1 11-oz. can mandarin oranges, drained and chopped slightly
1 C. flaked coconut
1 C. mini chocolate chips
2/3 C. sliced almonds
1/2 C. maraschino cherries, chopped
1/2 C. chopped dates

Preheat oven to 350º. Cream the butter/margarine and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and add to the creamed mixture along with the bananas. Stir in the fruits, coconut, and nuts. Spoon batter into sprayed muffin tins, about 2/3 full. Bake about 15 minutes or until just golden and firm in the centers. Cool in the pan ten minutes and then remove to a rack to cool completely. About a dozen. Freezes well.

Kitchen Hint: Because this recipe leaves part of a package of dates, I usually double the recipe to use the whole box. To save time or serve this as a breakfast cake, you can pour the batter into a sprayed 9×13” pan and bake it about 25 minutes, or until just firm in the center. Cut it into squares when it’s cooled.

Sugar Cookies

This is the cookie that turns an ordinary cookie tray into a fabulous plate of Christmas cookies! I usually make five to six batches of this dough, adding paste coloring and flavored gelatin (see below). I bake the cookies one day, store them in a covered container, and then decorate them the next day because it takes that long to finish about 13 dozen of these!

1/2 C. butter, softened (no substitutes)
1 C. sugar
1 egg
1 T. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
2 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Cream the butter and sugar, then beat in the egg, lemon juice, and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients and gradually add them to the dough until it’s well blended. Tint with paste food coloring, if desired. Wrap dough in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours (it will keep for several days, until you have time to bake).

Preheat oven to 350º. Work with half at a time: roll to about 1/4” thickness on a floured surface, then cut with cookie cutters. Place 1” apart on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, and bake 7-8 minutes for softer, chewier cookies and 9-10 minutes or until lightly browned for crisp cookies. Cool on the pan for a minute and then remove with a spatula to a cooling rack. Makes 2-3 dozen.

Kitchen Hint: For flavored sugar cookies, add a 3 oz. package of sugar free gelatin to the dough! I make green dough with lime, yellow dough with peach or orange, and dark pink dough with cherry gelatin. If you use regular sugar gelatin, reduce the sugar in your recipe by a couple of tablespoons.

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