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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Football fudge

    There are only two ingredients in this no fail fudge.  No candy thermometer necessary, all you need is a bowl and a microwave.


I don't know what to say about this other than YUM!  This is one of those meals that is best when you really get in there.  So roll up your sleeves and prepare to get dirty!   We all had salsa verde running down our arms and we were loving every minute of it.

Friday, January 30, 2015

MiMi's Sour Cream Biscuits

    MiMi makes good biscuits.  This isn't her go to recipe, but they sure were tasty alongside a bowl of chili.  She has fun cutters too, which adds to the appeal!  Aren't they cute?

    Mimi sent us home with a couple of extras.  Jax had a lot of fun breaking one up into his cheese soup and then digging out the pieces.  But he REALLY like the one that was warmed up with some honey!

Greg's Golumpki or Gotabki

   Hi, my name is Carlee, and I am a rice hoarder.  Who knew I had so much rice?!  We used to use rice quite a bit.  I was the queen of one pot dinners.  Sometimes two pots. Take meat, veggies, spices, add rice, stir, eat.  Or take meat, veggies, spices, sauce, serve over rice, eat.   It's not like we had rice every day.  You could very easily sub in quinoa or pasta and get the same basic results.  If you think about it you can do that formula a million ways; fajitas served over rice instead of in a shell, chicken and rice, all sorts of curries.  You can put an Italian spin on it, or Mexican, or Spanish, or Thai, or Indian, or Chinese.  Or you throw in a can of cream of mushroom... because, let's be honest, it just makes things good!

   Anyway, that is my excuse for having as much rice as I just found in my pantry.  I have made my way through most of the 12 pounds of heirloom organic brown rice I bought (I have four pounds left).  I have a two pound bag of brown rice in case somehow I used the other up without noticing.  Then I have the pound of quinoa for when rice just doesn't seem right.  Oh, and the 5 pounds of jasmine rice for the coconut curries (ooh, yum!  That sounds good right now!).  And in the case of a dire emergency, I do have a box of instant brown rice.  Oh, and some couscous, and a bunch of pasta... but I digress.

    The only thing any of that has to do with the recipe, is that it uses rice.  Today I used the heirloom organic brown rice, in case you were wondering.  But, really any rice would do.

    I don't believe I have ever had a golumpki.  Or any kind of cabbage roll, for that matter.  However, I have heard about Greg's Golumpki.  If Matt's Uncle Greg's name is mentioned alongside a food, there is a really good chance it is either his potato dumplings or these.  So, I set off to make a batch.

    His recipe called for 4 pounds of ground chuck.  I wasn't quite ready to commit to that many leftovers, so I scaled back a bit.  They are in the oven now.  I can't wait to try them!

From what I can tell, gotabki is the Polish version of the spelling and golumpki is the Americanized version.  I believe both are pronounced the same, like go-wumpki

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Baked Rice Pudding

    I had some extra egg yolks after making macaron. I am not one to just throw perfectly good food away, so I had to come up with something.  So, I added a little extra rice to the pot I already had going for the golumpki and dessert was born!  A lot of rice pudding recipes call for it to be chilled.  I like mine warm.  The still warm custard full of rice, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon can't be beat.  I normally don't add the raisins, but happened to have them on hand.  So, I figured why not?!  I made it with an organic brown rice I buy in super bulk... but Matt would have preferred white rice.  (He also prefers white bread, pasta etc. but he rarely gets his way!)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Grandma Rees' Party Ryes

     I am not sure how these ended up being a Christmas food at Grandma's, but they are!  They are really good and they freeze well.   You could heat up a few at a time and have a perfect snack.  They never last that long when the Rees family is around though!  As we were talking about them this past Christmas, Grandma says that she remembered them being round when she started making them.  Now the rye bread is little squares!

   You can find the little rye bread squares by the deli section in the grocery store.  They are usually in a little display by where they cut the deli meat.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

MiMi's Homemade Cheese Crackers

     These are so yummy!  Do yourself a favor and make a double batch.  Jax loves them and so do the adults.  They are great on their own and perfect with a bowl of soup.  They are full of flavor and you could make them into any shape for any occasion.

    MiMi put some plastic wrap over her dough before she rolled them.  This helped keep a nice smooth surface and kept the dough from sticking to the rolling pin.

Cheese Soup

     This soup will really warm you up on a cold day.  In general Matt doesn't approve of soup as a meal, but I never hear complaints when I make this one.  It is a stick to your ribs bowl full of love and warmth.  The girl math on this one is that the good of the veggies outweighs the bad of the cheese.  So, it is healthy and good!

Monday, January 26, 2015

MiMi's Sweet Football Cheeseball

  MiMi came up with the idea to have a virtual tailgate for the big game next week.  One of my cousins, my grandma, my mom and I all made an apple cake within 24 hours of each other a couple of weeks back and it was so much fun!  So, she thought it would be fun to see what everyone made to bring to our online "party."  This is one of her contenders!
   Jax had chocolate in his ears, his nose and all down his shirt.  He asked for seconds too.  He loves "dip."  So he made one pretzel last through two helpings of his chocolate dip!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Liebster Award

I was nominated for a Liebster Award by Jackie at Born Imaginative. Thank you!

Stuffed Pizza Footballs

     We love having people over to watch football.  It is fun to get everyone together and rib each other about how we are doing in our pick'em pool, talk smack about our fantasy teams and just catch up.  But if you are like us, the game is only half of the attraction.  The other half is the food!  I have a pot of chili going more Sundays than not during football season.  It is also a great time to try out new snack recipes.  I love to make and eat that kind of food, but sometimes a full batch is too much for just us.  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cori's Beef Rollups

    My cousin, Cori, passed this recipe on to me.  Cori got this from her husband Adam's aunt.  She got it from his grandma.  If a recipe is passed on this many times, it has to be good!  This calls for it to be rolled up in tortillas and cut into spirals, which is what I did.  But it could very easily be made into a cheeseball which would be yummy too!  Another variation could possibly be using some picked jalepenos instead of the pickles? I haven't tried it, but in my head it would be pretty yummy!

Bread Pudding With Caramelized Maple Sauce for Pops

     I'm on a warm comfort food streak lately and this seemed to fit the bill.  This isn't one of my dad's recipes.  I hope to do a couple of his recipes as time goes on.  He makes his own summer sausage, jerky, hot sauce and is a master of the grill.  In the mean time, this is a recipe in his honor.  His mom makes bread pudding for him every once in a while and he loves it, so I thought I would give it a try.  This isn't necessarily her recipe either, it is just what I threw together today.  I may have to do another version as time goes on.  My grandma has her mom's recipe, so Iwould like to give it a try.

    I wasn't in the mood for any of the sauces I saw online, so I just made something up.  I'd say it was a smashing success.  The bread pudding was soft and moist on the inside with delicious crunchy crust on top.  The sauce was sweet and warm and creamy and mapley and caramelly and gooey and yummy.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Triple Chocolate Cake Balls

    This is hardly a recipe... but they are good.  Sweet and chocolaty and good and sweet!  I have made a variety of cake balls.  Different flavors, shapes and colors.  My mom has one of those little contraptions that bakes the batter into a ball shape.  I don't have one of those, so I do it the old fashion way... with FROSTING!  Of course I like them better that way anyway.  There are so many ways you could decorate these, so just have fun with them!

Acorn Squash Macaroni and Cheese

   Squash used to be one of Jax's favorite foods.  He got a couple of squash for Halloween last year and he loved it!  Now, he prefers to not touch the stuff.  But he loves noodles and he loves cheese.

    The squash from last year's Halloween accidentally procreated.  We ended up with dozens of little squash plants in our compost.  So, we moved a couple behind the garage.  Now we have a pile of acorn squash that needs to be used and a little guy who thinks he doesn't like it.

    I had made squash sauces before.  They were more pumpkin, sage, and parmesan type sauces.  So, I used that idea to make something more fun and kid friendly for Jax (and his mommy and daddy).  We had it for dinner tonight and everyone had seconds.  It is creamy without using a ton of fat or milk.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

MiMi's Creamy Chicken Pot Pie

     If the only pot pies you have ever had come in a little red box... just wait... your mind is going to be blown if you try this one.  We had those pot pies as kids sometimes too.  A few chunks of meat and veggies floating in a crust full of gravy.  The best part was getting to carve our initials in the frozen crust of the pot pie that was ours before it went into the oven.  That way we could be sure we were getting the right one when it came out!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Grandma Scharnhorst's Chicken Broccoli Casserole

       Matt's grandma sent me this one as a recommended recipe.  I had some leftover turkey breast from when I made turkey and noodles.  This recipe seemed like a great way to use it up.  Obviously you can used leftover roast chicken, chicken breasts or you could pick up a rotisserie chicken at the store.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

MiMi's Baked BBQ Chicken

    My mom makes this recipe when she is in the mood for BBQ chicken,but it is too cold outside to grill.  It turns out really tasty and is really easy. The recipe calls for bone in, skin on chicken,  but you can use boneless skinless.  Just reduce the baking time.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Chloe's Pancake Party

    My sister Chloe always loved pancakes.  As a kid she could eat her weight in them.  (She might still be able to!)  So was called her the pancake piggie.  She could out eat our brothers in pancakes.  When I lived in Springfield, we went to a diner that served 14" diameter pancakes.  She was convinced she could polish one off.  She didn't end up ordering one.  She had a stack of chocolate chip pancakes and whipped cream instead.  I am not sure she couldn't have done it!

    That brings us to the present day.  Chloe has been home from school for a month.  We haven't got to see her much, she has been really busy hanging out with her friends.  One of them mentioned they were hungry for pancakes and an idea was born!  They would get together and have breakfast for dinner.  

Jax's Avocado Egg Salad

   Jax's first food was an avocado.  We skipped right over cereal and went straight to the good stuff.  Avocado is a perfect baby food.  You don't have too cook it, you don't have to process it.  Just pick a nice ripe avocado and scoop it out.  Mash a bit and serve!
    One of Jax's current favorite foods is hard boiled eggs.  He loves to carry one around and nibble on it.  He also likes to put them in the egg slicer and push down the top.  Both options are great as long as you don't mind picking up bits of egg yolk as it crumbles.

   All of this to say that this egg salad is just a mash-up of two of his favorite things!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Great-Grandma Rees's Frozen Fruit Salad

    This one is still a staple at a Rees family holiday.  Aunt Jenny usually makes it now and it is present at every Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I have a handful of recipes from Great-Grandma Rees, so I was going through them trying to decide which one I should make first.  When I got to this one, I knew I had to make it.  I am familiar with a few of the others, but this one is still a tradition!

     Great-Grandpa (Carl) Rees was a fixture at family events through my tween years.  He was a nice as could be.  Great-Grandma (Mildred) Rees suffered an incapacitating stroke when I was still very young.  I still have a lot of memories that include her.  When she was healthy, she loved hummingbirds and collected various nick-nacks and quilts etc. that featured the birds.  When we went to visit their house, my cousin Sarah and I would count the hummingbirds.  Each time it seemed like we would find new hummingbirds we had never seen before.  The count was well over a hundred and I am sure there were birds that we missed.  Grandpa bough a handicap accessible bus to get Great-Grandma around.  It was perfect for getting the gang together and driving around town to look at Christmas lights as well!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

French Silk Pie in Honor of Great-Grandpa Buchsbaum

    As far as I know,  my Great-Grandpa "Buck" never made a French Silk Pie.  But, I can't imagine there ever being a time where a french silk pie doesn't remind me of him.  When everyone still lived in the Chicago area, Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw used to host Sunday dinners.  I was young, but still do have some memories of the house and the weekly ritual.  They had a strawberry shortcake toy in the closet upstairs that I liked to play with and a putting green in the backyard.  Yes, you read that right.  They had a putting green.  But that is unrelated to the pie.

    On Sundays we would all get together for a big family meal.  Great-Grandpa Buck would always stop by Baker's Square and pick up a pie.  Part of the fun was guessing what kind of pie it was.  My first guess was always french silk!  It isn't a pie you hear about all that often, but it is one that brings back good memories.  There are raw eggs in this recipe, so please be careful.  I grew up licking the bowl and eating cookie dough, so I don't tend to shy away from raw eggs (except while I was pregnant, you can never be too careful).  But, it is good to be aware.  Out of an abundance of caution (and as proof of my self-sacrificing ways) I made my pie the day before and licked the bowl.  It's a hard job, but somebody has to do it.  Believe me, what is in the bowl is good enough it is almost worth getting sick over!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Greg's Potato Dumplings

    Matt's Uncle Greg sent me this recipe.  In his description, he said it was "food from heaven!"  So, I had no choice but to give it a try.
    I have actually heard lore of him making potato dumplings.  This recipe has been in the Hejnar family for at least 3 generations, with each generation making little additions as they go.  Greg said when he asked his ma how to make them, she only said grate potatoes, mix in flour and boil then fry.  She said she used eggs but her mother didn't.  Go figure, he says.  Greg uses milk and baking soda in his, and sometimes a little chive.
    As with a lot of these recipes, there isn't really a recipe.  You just do what feels right.  So using Uncle Greg's description and my best guesses here it is!

    I am certainly no dumpling master.  My first try, I think the water was boiling too hard.  They fell right apart.  I lowered the heat and brought the water to more of a simmer.  That seemed to help.  My dumplings were not pretty, but they were yummy!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Great-Grandma Schwanke's Scalloped Corn

   This is my grandma's mom's recipe.  I never had the chance to meet her, but it sounds like Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa Schwanke were great people.  Grandma says they didn't have much money, but they were always inviting people in anyway.  I will have to verify the facts, but there must have been a naval station near or in Kenosha where she grew up.  It sounds like if ever there was a sailor that needed something to eat or a place to stay, their door was always open.

    I am lucky enough to be the current holder of my Great-Grandma's china.  This doesn't seem like the kind of dinner that requires fine china, but it only seems right that I serve her recipe on her china!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kristie's First Cookies - A Guest Post By MiMi

When you are a middle child sometimes you miss out on experiences that an oldest or youngest child might have an opportunity to be a part of.  When Kristie mentioned she had never baked a batch of cookies from scratch, I new we needed to change that.  Today was her day.  We talked about how to properly measure room temperature ingredients and techniques that she might not know about.  It was a lot of fun.  I chose the traditional Toll House Cookie recipe because that seems to be something that every American should be familiar with.  I let her choose from the variety of chips I had on hand.  She chose white chocolate chips and Reese's Peanut Butter chips.  This turned out to be a great combination.  I have an extra KitchenAid stand mixer that I decided to give her.  She's all set to bake cookies now!

 I used to love to have fresh cookies waiting for the kids when they came home from school.  I would just bake a few at a time.  The smell of fresh baked cookies greeted them as they came in the door.  Warm cookies and milk always seemed to hit the spot when everyone got home in the the afternoon.

- MiMi

Monday, January 12, 2015

Dori's Beer Bread

   Matt's Aunt Dori said that beer bread is a favorite of guests at her house.  I have had beer bread before, always made with a lager.  Usually made from whatever beer your friends brought over and left.  You know, the one you won't drink but you could make bread out of!  But Dori had a few suggestions, and none of them were that.  She said that dark crafty beers were really good.  I had always wondered about that, but had been afraid to try it.  She also said that Mark's nieces went crazy over a loaf made with hard cider.

   Hard cider?!  In beer bread?!  Now you have my attention.  I have to try that!  So, I put that theory to the test and made a loaf to go with our soup for dinner.  You know what?  It is really good!  Beer bread is a little sweet anyway, so the apple really goes well in the recipe.  We paired the bread with some spicy black bean soup and the sweet was a really nice balance to the heat.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup (from dried beans)

This soup is so easy.  It starts from dried beans too, so it is super affordable.  There is no soaking the night before, so you don't even have to plan that far in advance.  You can set it on low in the morning and come home to a warm hearty dinner.  If you didn't even plan that far ahead, just run home on your lunch hour.  All you have to do is dump it all in the slow cooker and come home to dinner!

   I am making a meatless version for meatless Monday.  Don't tell Matt, I'm trying to get away with something here!  It would be really good with some shredded chicken or beef on top.  If you have leftover carnitas, that would be fabulous!!
Pictured with a slice of  Dori's Beer Bread

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A tribute to Cori's chickens - A guest post by MiMi

As I was going through my freezer to get some meat the other day I came across some bacon patties from The Butcher Block. I decided to thaw them out to make breakfast sandwiches today. There are only a few special eggs left from my niece and I wanted to poach them so they could really be enjoyed for their flavor. Unfortunately, a coyote attacked and killed all of her beautiful hens. We will miss those eggs. So sad for Cori. What a hard experience to go through. 
The sandwiches were made with toasted bagel thins, cheese slices, the bacon patties that I fried and those very special eggs. Chloe is still home from college and had to get up for breakfast before work. Carlee and Jaxon came too. Of course, Pops enjoyed them also.

A note from Carlee:   My cousin, Cori, was my mom's supplier of farm fresh eggs.  My mom enjoyed having chickens (and fresh eggs) when she lived in the country.  She has fond memories of her grandma in Indiana having chickens as well.  When mom moved into the big city (hee hee), she had to give the chickens away.  So, when Cori and Adam got chickens, my mom wanted to be first in line to buy any extra eggs.  She has gotten weekly deliveries from her supplier ever since!  We are all sad to hear about Cori's chickens... but Jax and I may have to come see the new baby chicks when she gets them in the spring!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mushroom Risotto

   Matt requested mushroom risotto a couple of days ago.  He rarely requests anything, so I figured I better deliver.  I think he was just as interested in busting out the truffle salt as he was in the risotto.  Either way, ask and you shall receive!  I  don't usually measure for risotto (or anything for that matter) but this is as close as it gets to a precise recipe.  As always, you should adjust to your taste!

   Tonight there was rosemary in the pork I made.  So, I thought I would steep a little sprig of rosemary in the broth as it simmered.  It's easy to kill a dish with rosemary, so don't go crazy, but I thought a little would be nice with the mushrooms and Parmesan.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

MiMi's Meatloaf - Chicken Parm

    I have a confession to make.  I didn't make this meatloaf.  MiMi made it herself.  I was on the road all day today, so it was nice to be invited over for dinner.  The meatloaf was yummy and the company was great.  Jax always loves a visit to MiMi and Pops' house and he even got to see a couple of aunts and uncles.  Mom has made this a few times before, and I have had the pleasure of leftovers.  This was my first time getting fresh meatloaf and I have to say it was pretty tasty!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Deconstructed Banana Cream Pie

   After a nice comforting warm bowl of Cori's Chicken Pot Pie Soup, I was in the mood for something sweet and a little warm.   I bought a package of pie crusts to make crumbles on the top, so I had an extra.  That is where this little adventure began.  I thought of making an apple pie, but we don't have any ice cream and that would be un-American!  Sitting on top of the apples in the fruit bowl was a bunch of bananas.  Banana cream pie it is!  I had enough ingredients on hand to make that come together.  The problem is the blind baking, the cooling, the custard making, the cooling and on and on.  I didn't have the kind of time.  So, I came up with a little something different.  If I did it in pieces rather than as a whole pie, there would be time to do it all!
    I used a hybrid of methods to get the meringue the way I wanted it... and I am happy to say it worked!  I wanted the toasty golden peaks and soft inside like you would find on a pie, but I also wanted them to have some integrity so I could move them.  The middles were still pillowy and moist and the peak was nicely caramelized.

Cori's Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie Soup

     I wasn't planning on making soup for dinner tonight.  In fact, I wasn't planning on posting today.  I was going to do a traditional just make toss a bunch of stuff in a pan and see what comes out sort of dinner.  But then, it got cold.  I mean REALLY COLD!  Cold to the core cold.  So, I needed something more.  Something warm and comforting and warm.  It just so happened that recipe on the top of the pile was this soup and I knew it would be perfect for dinner.  Plus it just took a few minutes to make the cream of chicken and a couple of more to throw everything together.  There is just something about a warm creamy soup that makes it all feel a little better.
    Cori made this for everyone last week and it was a hit! Matt, who doesn't usually care much for soup, was still talking about it on the drive home.  Cori baked off a pie crust and crumbled it to go on top.  Genius!

Cori's Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

I had to make a few adjustments to this one to fit what I had on hand.  But, this could be really handy going forward.  I am not usually somebody who plans nightly meals too far in advance, so it will be nice to still have cream of chicken as an option even if there aren't any cans in the pantry!  Plus this way you have some control over what the end product is.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

My Favorite Pizza Crust (And It's Whole Wheat!)

   Matt likes to tell you how good he is at making pizza.  He did work at Gem City for years, so he has made a lot of them.  After hearing how wonderful his pizzas are time after time, I had never seen him actually make a pizza (other than the frozen variety... he is pretty good at that!)  Then finally, one Friday in November in 2009 he finally made me a pizza and asked me to marry him.  I don't remember much about how the pizza tasted because I was more worried about the diamond!  So, I will tell you how the subsequent pizzas were... but there haven't been any.

Sandra's Spinach Salad

   Sandra Guegel's parents lived in the house next to Great Grandma & Grandpa Rees when she and grandpa were kids.  So she and grandpa have always known each other.  Grandpa still lives in that same house and Sandra's mom stayed next door until she had to go to the nursing home.  Sandra kept her mom's house and came to visit a handful of times each year.  So, though she was not blood relation but she was always "Aunt Sandra."  She was kind, generous and quick witted.  She passed away suddenly during a visit to Quincy this past year and she is still missed.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday Gravy

    I woke up ready to make some meatballs today.  I had all day to burn, so simply putting them in a jar of sauce just didn't seem like the way to go.  Each summer Matt and I grow a ton of tomatoes.  More than we could ever eat!  So, I fill our freezer while they are at the peak of freshness.  Some I freeze whole, some I chop and place into jars before I freeze them.  I also make some into a really basic tomato sauce.  I quarter tomatoes and cook them down with a little salt and a splash of olive oil.  After they simmer for a while, I insert the stick blender and puree the whole thing.  After pouring into jars, I freeze it.  Usually by the end of summer, the freezer is full of tomatoes and sauce.  I use a mix of these in soups all fall and winter long.  Most of it ends up in chili, but I never run out of uses.

Marlene's Meatballs

  When I mentioned that I was going to collect family recipes to try, this was one of the recipes my mom suggested I ask for.  Apparently Marlene makes the best meatballs!  So, I asked for the recipe and she delivered last night.  I decided today was the day to make them, so I got out the paper and set out to make meatballs.  This should be easy I thought.  It is a family favorite recipe, so all I have to do is follow it to a T and take a few pictures.  So, imagine my surprise when I opened the paper to find the following:

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Soft Pretzels

    Happy 2015!  I thought it would be fun to start off the New Year with a new project.  Why not collect heirloom recipes and family favorites and give them a try.  It will be fun to try some new things and even more fun to try my hand at some of the things I have loved through the years.  I come from a family of great cooks, so I am stepping into some pretty large shoes.  I am looking forward to trying to create some great food and Matt is happy to help taste test.   I will share my journey so that you can try some of our favorites as well.  Each is like a little taste of home.  

   Now, with that being said, this first recipe isn’t a family favorite at all.  It is just a little something fun that I made yesterday.  Everyone loves a soft pretzel.  Am I right?  Matt wanted to have some people over for cards yesterday, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to whip some up.  Until a month or two ago they idea of yeast dough was a little intimidating to me.  Lately I have really been enjoying making all sorts of dough.  I enjoy the kneading, the rising, and the smell of bread baking.  So, the idea of making pretzels from scratch was intriguing.