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Friday, January 12, 2018

Baked Chicken and Rice

When I was growing up, most of the time Mom fixed meals using foods we grew in the garden and meat we had raised.  Most meals were meat and potato meals.  Usually four items on our plates at dinner:  Meat, potatoes, vegetable, and some sort of salad. Most always a dessert accompanied that, often though it was a bowl of home canned fruit.  Once in a great while, Mom would make a casserole or dinner using ingredients we had to buy such as cheese, pasta, or rice.  It was such a treat to have a meal out of the norm. 

One of the dishes Mom would occasionally make for Sunday dinner was Chicken and Rice.  So easy to put together and throw in the oven to cook while you do other things.  This dish is such a comfort food for me!  Creamy, warm, delicious!  I'm not sure where she got the recipe, but the original name was Busy Day Chicken.  

I buy whole chickens and cut them up into 10 pieces for this, or sometimes I buy chicken leg quarters and cut those apart.  It depends on which is the best price per pound.  I've tried using boneless/skinless breasts and I don't like it nearly as well.  The fat from the skin really flavors the rice.  However, if you're really watching fats, the boneless/skinless breasts will work.  This time I used a pack of thighs I found in the reduced bin.  Perfect!

Chicken and Rice

1 fryer cut up or 6-8 other pieces of chicken

1 10.5 oz can cream of mushroom soup (condensed)
1 1/2 soup cans of water
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix OR 2 T. bulk onion soup and dip mix
1 C. long grain rice

Scatter the uncooked rice in the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with a few shakes of salt.  Set chicken pieces on top of rice.  Mix mushroom soup, onion soup and water together.  Pour over chicken.  Cover with foil and bake at 325 for 2 hours.  Uncover the last 25 minutes to allow browning.  

Joy's Notes:   This recipe freezes well after it's cooked so if you're cooking for a smaller group it's easy to portion off and free in individual servings OR do the recipe in 2 8x8 pans.  I've also used a deeper dish and doubled the rice and soup mixture.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse Eggs!


It is August 21, 2017 and here in South Eastern Idaho we are ready for the eclipse!  My home is not dead center for totality, but we'll have 99% totality and that's good enough for me.   Our kids started school last week, but we are out today to enjoy the eclipse and avoid the anticipated traffic (that is non-existent!).  

We have picked out the best viewing spot in our back yard and are looking forward to enjoying a few hours of family time!

Here a great suggestion for breakfast if you haven't enjoyed that yet, or any other meal to celebrate Eclipse Day!

The recipe for Eclipse Eggs can be found disguised as Peek-a-boo Eggs on THIS page of my blog!

Happy viewing!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Old Fashioned Cream Cheese Mints

Our son was married a few weeks ago!   We held an Open House at our home in their honor and had a great time figuring out what all we would serve for refreshments.  There was no doubt that we would serve these lovely little Cream Cheese Mints.   My Mother-in-Law made these so often for weddings and Quinceanera's.  We needed to have these in her honor as we've been missing her since she passed away last December.  

These little mints are so easy to make.  We use a soft plastic candy mold but you could just as easily roll into a ball and press flat with a glass or fork.  Give these a try on your next fun occasion!

Old Fashioned Cream Cheese Mints

1 8 oz. brick of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 lbs. of powdered sugar (7-8 cups)
mint flavoring

In a mixer, blend cream cheese and powdered sugar until it is a soft crumble.  Add a few drops of mint oil or about 1/2 tsp. of mint flavoring and mix again until well blended.  If you'd like to color your mints, add your food coloring now and mix.  You can pull part of your dough out to keep it white, and add color to the rest.

Shape mints by rolling about a rounded 1/2 teaspoon into a ball and then rolling in granulated sugar. Place in mold, or flatten with a glass or fork. Lay mints on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper to dry.  When they're dry enough to handle, if you don't need to use them right away, place them in layers with parchment between and freeze.  They keep a long time frozen!


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Homemade Yogurt

Several years ago I inherited my Mom's old yogurt maker from the 70's.  Well, to be truthful, I borrowed it for so long she forgot where it was until I confessed.  She let me keep it!  (Wish I could "borrow" her 100 year old upright grand piano! LOL)  I've made many batches of yogurt in this machine.  It has been well worth the money Mom paid for it.  :)

You do NOT, however, have to have a neat little machine to make fine yogurt!  The only thing that machine does, is keep the yogurt at a constant temperature while it incubates (I know that makes it sound like it's going to hatch, but it's the only word I can think of to describe it at the moment!) .... around 100 degrees.  There are several other options for keeping it warm but I'll just share the two I've used.

There are a few items that are useful for making yogurt:  a cooking thermometer the one I use looks like THIS.... a larger, heavy bottomed pot.... glass jars, quart, pint, or even jelly jars would be great.

This will take a little time to complete, but you won't be standing in the kitchen the whole time.  Don't let it intimidate you!  Give it a try!

Homemade Yogurt

2 quarts of milk - either fresh or mixed from dry
1/4 C. plain yogurt with live culture

Pour milk into a heavy bottomed pot.  Over medium heat (or just under that) bring milk to 170-180 degrees.  Stir often to avoid scorching - especially helpful to stir constantly once it gets above 140 degrees.  Be patient and use a lower heat or it will scorch.  Once you reach 180 degrees, remove from heat and let cool to 110.  This takes a while, if you want to hurry it up, put ice water in your sink and set the pan in the ice water.  Stir often to keep a skin from forming on the top.  If one does form, skim it off and toss.  While your milk is cooling, set your 1/4 C. yogurt out on the counter to start warming up.   When the milk is at 110 degrees, mix a little milk into the yogurt to thin it down and then add that whole amount back into the pan of milk.  Pour into clean glass jars, cover with lids. 

Choose your own method of keeping the yogurt warm while it incubates.  The two I've used are: 

1.  Place filled jars inside a food cooler, pour in a few quarts of hot water, around 120 degrees or slightly more, replace cooler lid.

2.  Place jars in large pot - big enough you can cover with a lid.  Pour hot water around jars, cover with lid and then wrap pan with a heavy towel.  

Let your prepared yogurt incubate for at least 4 hours - up to 8 hours.  After 4 hours, lift one jar and tip it slightly to test how set it has become.  When it seems fairly firm, put all jars in the refrigerator to chill.   Serve with fruit or sweeten with jam, the plain yogurt can be used to make cream cheese.

Joy's Notes:   I've found that the higher fat milk you use, the better the texture is. Often I use reconstituted dry milk. (Whey based dry milk substitute does not set up well, use regular or instant powdered milk)  I add an extra 1/2-1 C. of powder when I mix it to give it more body and sometimes I add a few cups of whole milk to it.   I read that the longer you incubate past the 4 hours, the more thick and tart your yogurt will be.  It definitely is more tart the longer it sits. I've had batches turn out super thick and others much thinner.  I think the quality of the yogurt start is a factor as well as the milk used. Some of my batches have been so mellow I could eat the plain yogurt and it tasted wonderful!  Other batches have definitely needed jam to sweeten. :o)    Lately I've been doing 1 gallon at a time.  I just use a 6 quart pan or larger to heat the milk.  This keeps in the fridge nicely about a week.

Homemade yogurt is a healthy snack.  We love homemade strawberry or raspberry jam to flavor it.  Try using it with some fruit to make smoothies for a healthy breakfast!  Making yogurt at home is a good way to control the amount of sugar added and you know your ingredients.  Plus, on a "Green" note - think of all those plastic containers you're saving from the landfills!   Enjoy your yogurt adventures!

I think I've been working on this post too long!  The word "yogurt" is starting to look funny to me, as though it's spelled incorrectly.  I'll check back later and see if it's better then.  :)