Friday, December 30, 2011
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas-we certainly did. The cooks were working in a flurry over Christmas in Illinois and then again on the 28th for Christmas with our children and grandchildren. We had another turkey here at home, because it's just not Christmas until Mr. Grandma's Kitchen Recipes has leftover turkey for sandwiches. The old fashioned sugar cookies were a hit, as usual, and everyone commented on how well my 6 year old and 4 year old grandchildren decorated them. The other favorite is date pinwheel cookies. My sister-in-law and husband all but fight over the date cookies. But I always make enough so they don't come to blows (LOL)!
So, now Christmas is behind us and New Year's is directly ahead. You all know what that means-New Year's Eve parties. Perhaps you are hosting your own. Of maybe you are going to a pot luck and have to make something special. It seems like there are more parties that contain "finger food" than an all out meal. We will be having kid friendly food because our grandkids will be here overnight, and we are really looking forward to that. Any wagers on if any of us stay up until midnight?
But I digress. Grandma's Kitchen Recipes would like to share some of our favorite party recipes. These are very simple and take little time to prepare. The Cream Cheese Ham Pickles is my husband's favorite. My favorite is the Stuffed Celery and the family favorite is the Roll-ups. One of my son-in-laws makes the pinwheels for food day at work and his poker parties. To make things easy on yourself, make sure to plan on several easy appetizers and a few more time consuming recipes. You don't want to be so worn out from preparing all that food that you miss the ball drop in Times Square.
Grandma's Kitchen Recipes' Cream Cheese Ham Pickles
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
12 pieces of rectangular shaped deli ham
6 large kosher dill pickles
Use 2 pieces of ham (stacked) and spread 1 1/2 tablespoons cream cheese onto ham. Make sure the dill pickles are well drained. Place a pickle on each ham rectangle and roll tight. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Using a sharp knife, slice roll-ups into 1/2 inch pieces.
Grandma's Kitchen Recipes' Blue Cheese and Pecan Stuffed Celery
4 ounces softened cream cheese
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup lightly toasted finely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons chopped dried cranberries
celery stalks, washed and dried
Combine first four ingredients. Fill the celery stalks with the stuffing. Cut stuffed celery on the diagonal in lengths of your choosing. Refrigerate until chilled.
Grandma's Kitchen Recipes' Turkey Roll-ups
4 large tomato/basil tortilla shells
1 12 ounce container whipped cream cheese
3 green onions, thinly sliced
fresh spinach leaves, washed and dried, stems removed
3/4 pound deli-syle smoked turkey
Spread cream cheese on each tortilla shell. Sprinkle with green onions. Cover with spinach leaves and the sliced turkey. Roll tightly, wrap in foil and refrigerate at least and hour before slicing.
Sliced ham also works well for this recipe.
That's my contribution to your New Year's festivities. Grandma's Kitchen Recipes says, enjoy your parties, and have a safe and Happy New Year.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Christmas is closing in on us, but there is still plenty of time to bake cookies. Here at Grandma’s Kitchen Recipes we have been busier than Santa’s elves, baking cookies and freezing them in my daughter’s freezer. To date I have made Sugar Plums (a confectionary covered cherry), Cranberry Oatmeal Bars, red and green Snickerdoodles, and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies. I also have finished decorating the sugar cookies, with the help of my grandchildren. I have more fun decorating cookies with others. My daughter has helped me in years past, but was unable to this year. The grandkids did a super job and were very creative. Yet to come are Brownie Bars with Christmas M&M’s, Date Pinwheel Cookies and Spritz Cookies.
I want to share my favorite Christmas cookie recipe with you. This is an old recipe and came from the Old Bedford Church Cookbook in west central Illinois. Is there anything more reliable than a church cookbook? I think not. I have been making this recipe since my children were little and we like it so well I have never even tried another for making Christmas cookies. Make the dough a day ahead and refrigerate it. This makes cutting and rolling the cookies much easier. These cookies freeze very well, too, so you can get them out of the way in early December.
Old Fashioned Soft Sugar Cookies
4 cups flour-use unbleached
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
A pinch of salt
1 cup sour cream
1 cup butter (or margarine)
2 teaspoons vanilla
Using a mixer, combine the sour cream, butter, sugar and vanilla until very well blended. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Mix well. Chill dough. Roll dough on a well floured surface and cut out cookie shapes. Bake on a cookie sheet pan (sprayed with vegetable spray) in a 350 degree oven until the cookies start to brown on the edges. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on waxed or parchment paper. Cool completely before frosting. This recipe makes several dozen cookies, depending on how large your cookie cutters are.
Our family loves these. If you are making your frosting, don’t be afraid to make bold colors. The more vibrant the colors, the prettier your cookie platter will be. I make these cookies and give them away as boxed gifts to friends and family.
Some Festive Cookie Tips
1. Make your favorite Snickerdoodle recipe and instead of rolling them in cinnamon sugar, put the cinnamon in the cookie dough and roll them in red and green sugar. You just made them festive!
2. Want to make some festive Rice Krispie Treats? Put red food coloring in the melted marshmellows and you have Christmas Krispie Treats.
3. Or color the melted marshmellows green and use a Christmas Tree cookie cutter and decorate the Rice Krispie trees. Grandma’s Kitchen Recipes says, be creative.
4. Put the red and green M&M’s on top of your favorite bownie mix.
5. Substitute red and green M&M’s for chocolate chips in your chocolate chip cookies.
6. Don’t just dip your pretty pretzels in almond bark, sprinkle colored sugar on them before the almond bark sets up.
7. Or buy the big pretzel sticks, dip one end in melted chocolate chips, or white chocolate chips, then roll them in crushed candy canes.
Fun stuff, huh? I love Christmas baking. Some of you might not. But you can see that you can turn something as simple as a brownie mix or Krispie treats into holiday cookies. And, if you have little ones, make sure they can help, and their cookies can be the “eating” plate. So, until next time, have fun with Christmas and, enjoy life!
Friday, December 9, 2011
--In Brussels the leaders of the 17 countries that use the euro, plus six others, have tentatively agreed to a new treaty that enforces stricter budget rules seen as crucial to solving Europe's debt crisis and holding the currency-bloc together.
All 17 nations that use the euro will sign a treaty that allows a central European authority closer oversight of their budgets. Nine other EU nations are considering it. Britain is the sole holdout.
-U.S. stock indexes rose in early trading Friday after 26 European nations agreed to consider tying their economies together more closely in hopes of preventing another debt crisis.
- Saturday night's Republican Presidential debates at Drake University in Iowa is shaping up to be the most lively and heated of them all. Why? Because the stakes are higher than ever for all the candidates. With less than one month to go until primary season begins in Iowa on January 3, 2012, Newt Gingrich has surged to a double-digit lead over Mitt Romney, according to a recent Gallup national poll of likely voters. Gingrich leads Romney 37% to 22%. Ron Paul trails in third with 8% of the vote, followed by Rick Perry with just 7%.
-The calendar may say there's a full moon, but millions of people will be watching for the moon to go dark on Saturday, during the last total lunar eclipse until 2014. And even if you can't see the eclipse in the sky, you can still bring it up on your computer
-Happy Birthday to Kirk Douglas who turned 95 today!
-Oops..... Charlie Sheen "accidentally" posted his personal phone number on Twitter.
-And the best news of all? We are going to see our grandson perform in his school's Christmas program. And over the weekend we are watching the grandkids while their mom and dad do their Christmas shopping. I hope you all have as good a weekend planned as I do!
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Christmas is a joyous time for many of us. I love the lights, the festive atmosphere. The children's faces when they see Santa. But the hussle and bussle of shopping, baking, cooking meals, travel plans and wrapping gifts can take its’ toll. I love the cooking and baking part, but am not very fond of the Christmas crowds. Besides that, I am not a very inspired shopper . Originality in selecting gifts is not my strong suit. Then there’s always the rush to get things done. We are, after all, on a deadline. And that deadline is December 25th. Then, in my case, there’s the mid-west winter. That includes cloudy, cold weather, snow on the ground or snow to shovel. Maybe even some freezing rain thrown in. Layers of clothes that make it hard to shop in, let alone get in and out of the vehicle. How about the parties and other commitments? Is it any wonder that folks need to find a way to cope with holiday depression?
But, cope, we can. The best thing to do is take a breath, analyze what you have to do, where you have to be and when, and how to pull it all together. Your mantra will be: it can be done. And here’s some of my tips how to get it all done.
1. If you bake holiday breads and cookies, start doing that after Thanksgiving and freezing your baked goods. Offer a loaf of baked bread or plate of cookies to your friends in exchange for using their freezer space.
2. Invite the family or neighbors over for a tree trimming party. Fix coffee and punch and some easy, light snacks. The task will be done much quicker and will be a lot more fun.
3. If you buy disappointing gifts like I do, don’t be afraid to get a wish list from the recipient. You can’t go wrong if you pick one of the 10 things they listed. And it will still be a surprise.
4. Write your menus and cookie lists early in December. Make grocery lists for everything you intend to prepare. Then buy what groceries you can in advance. Don’t torture yourself by starting a cookie recipe only to find that you forgot to purchase an item. And if you really want to torture yourself, wait until Christmas Eve to get you Christmas Dinner ingredients.
5. Winter weather got you down? Keep a bunch of your favorite scented candles on hand. The glow of a candle can warm you from the inside out.
6. And don’t forget to take some chill time. I enjoy listening to varieties of Christmas music in the evening with the candles glowing. It’s very calming after a busy day.
7. Everybody tries to over do. You don’t have to. Try to keep it simple, when you can.
8. Most importantly, don’t forget the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus is the reason for the season. Kind of puts things in perspective, right?
These are just a few hints to keep your sanity during the holidays. Take a look at this video and see if you can find some other stress relievers.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Do you have a food day coming up at work? Or a Christmas pot luck at the church? I have some really tasty dishes you can make and share. The Antipasti Salad not only provides bold colors, but is very nutritious as well. Make sure you take copies of this recipe, because I can guarantee you will be asked for it.
Ingredients for the dressing:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cloves minced garlic
¾ teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ cup olive oil
For the Salad:
8 ounce package of your favorite mushrooms
2 cups broccoli florets, sliced
2 cups cauliflower, sliced
1 ½ cups grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 small green pepper, sliced
1 small can sliced black olives
¼ pound provolone cheese, cubed
Combine the dressing ingredients and pour over the vegetables. Marinate at least 1 hour before serving. Toss salad before serving.
Does this not look like a recipe that you learned in culinary school? Isn’t this a lovely salad to take to food day? Grandma’s Kitchen Recipes follows the adage, “You eat with you eyes.” Not literally, of course. But if you think about it, that statement is very true. Serving a meal that has many bright colors and varied textures will create a more festive atmosphere at the table. Bland is boring. A plate of food can be a work of art. So, Grandma’s Kitchen Recipes says, find the artist in you. Create something beautiful. Your diabetic friends will thank you for considering them, too.
This is another of my favorites. And you can take it as a main dish salad. The Sea Shell Salad is not as dramatic in color as the Antipasti Salad, but still has nice color and texture.
Grandma’s Kitchen Recipes Sea Shell Salad
Makes 8 (1 cup) servings
8 ounces of uncooked shell macaroni
2 cups small shrimp, washed and deveined
1 cup julienned carrots
2/3 cup celery cut diagonally
1 small green pepper, diced
½ cup minced green onion
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup plain yogurt
!/4 cup light mayo
¼ cup cocktail sauce
Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and cool. Reserve the tomatoes for garnish. Toss the remaining salad ingredients together. In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together. Pour over salad and toss lightly to combine. Garnish with the halved grape tomatoes and chill several hours before serving.
And there you have it-two completely different salads that burst with color and nutrition. By using the cocktail sauce, you don’t need to salt the dressing. The yogurt and light mayo keep the fat down. And the combination of shrimp and veggies make this an attractive dish. This will be a hit at your pot luck, or at your own table.
You will no doubt see holiday plates, platters and bowls of rich, high calorie foods for the next several weeks. Danger Will Robinson! Holiday eating is a diabetic nightmare. Taking a full plate at the pot luck represents miles and miles on the tread mill. What do you do to keep the calories in check? Here’s a hint to keep the calories down at your food day. Start with a small plate. Then take less of everything. Either stay away from the rich foods or take a miniscule portion. You may sample, just don’t over indulge. Take only a fork full, or split a cookie with 2 friends. Until next time, Grandma’s Kitchen Recipes says, show restraint at you holiday pot luck, and you can still enjoy life!
It's holiday season and the dishes we are offered can make it very difficult to consume healthy foods, let alone stay within the portion control guidelines. Grandma's Kitchen Recipes wanted to share this educational article. Consider this another cooking class, where I impart information. Perhaps my research will give you a hand in defeating some of the temptations that will be thrust upon you.
The History of the USDA Food Pyramid
When Grandma's Kitchen Recipes started researching this subject I had no idea that the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) had been educating this country on the subject of a healthy diet for over 100 years. It all began when an agricultural chemist, Wilbur Olin Atwater, PH.D ., wrote the first guidelines in 1894. Dr. Atwater received government funds to study human metabolism. His study emphasized the importance of variety, proportion and moderation in the diets of American males. His research found that the calorie was a means to measure the efficiency of a diet. Dr. Atwater also found that different types of food produce different types of energy.
In 1917 Caroline Hunt, a nutritionist, wrote the first USDA guidelines entitled “How to Select Foods.” Caroline Hunt introduced the first recommended 5 food groups. Her guidelines were:
* Milk and meat
* Vegetables and fruit
* Fats and fatty foods
* Sugars and sugary foods
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) was released from the National Academy Sciences and the USDA changed their recommendations again. Then in 1946 it created the National Wartime Nutrition Guide which offered 7 food groups that supported RDA requirements:
1. * Milk and milk products
2. * Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, peas and nuts
3. * Bread, flour and cereals
4. * Leafy green and yellow vegetables
5. * Potatoes and sweet potatoes
6. * Citrus, tomato, cabbage, salad greens
7. * Butter, fortified margarine
In the 1960’s and 1970’s papers were written, and research done on the dietary fat in our diets. In January, 1977 the Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs published a paper that recommended that all American’s reduce their fat, saturated fat and cholesterol consumption, and increase their carbohydrate consumption to 55-60% of daily calories. When the guidelines were released the cattle, egg and dairy industry went ballistic. Congress was, in essence, telling the public that animal products were bad for you. Because of the fall out the committee was forced to revise it’s report, but the damage had been done to the American meat, egg and milk industry.
The USDA stayed neutral for many years and did not adopt a new guideline until 1990. The food pyramid that we are so familiar with was released in 1992. In 2005 a person climbing the stairs of the pyramid was added to the pyramid logo. Then in 2010 the food pyramid was revised again. This pyramid was broken down in to 8 divisions:
* Physical activity
* Grains, recommending that at least half of the grains being consumed be whole grains
* Vegetables, emphasizing dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, and dry beans and peas
* Fruits, emphasizing a variety of fruits, less emphasis on fruit juices
* Oils, recommending fish, nut and vegetable sources
* Milk, a category that includes both milk and dairy products
* Meat and beans, emphasizing low-fat and lean meats such as fish as well as more beans, peas, nuts and seeds
* Discretionary calories-those calories that are not identified in other groups such as candy, or alcohol. This section is the smallest of all 8 sections.
Now in June 2, 2011 the USDA launched “My Plate.” Other governments and organizations have developed similar guidelines and plate design such as: The UK’s Eatwell Plate, Austrailian Guide to Healthy Eating and the American Diabetes Association’s Create Your Plate system. The guidelines for the “My Plate” icon are as follows:
* 30% grains
* 30% vegetables
* 20% fruits
* 20% protein
So now, as you can see, our pyramid has turned into our plate. And healthy nutrition is as simple as looking at your plate. Remember, if you are diabetic cooking, you still need to follow the food group portion sizes for your particular caloric diet. Grandma's Kitchen Recipes will be talking about “My Plate” and how you can easily fit it into your lifestyle in later issues. Grandma's Kitchen Recipes will show you how to prepare recipes that will keep you in the guidelines recommended. Until then, remember "my plate" and……cooking class dismissed!
Friday, December 2, 2011
Entertaining for the Holidays? Keep it simple!
Most of us will be entertaining during December, whether it be the family Christmas meal, a cocktail party for business colleagues, a tree trimming or caroling party, or even an impromptu sledding party. Whatever it might be, remember to plan your party menu with more healthy foods. And while you are at it, why not make things a little easier for you! Grandma’s Kitchen Recipes will share some easy solutions in this article. After all, you should enjoy the holidays, too!
There are a number of options you can choose if you are hosting something informal, like a tree trimming party. Don’t feel that you have to serve a meal unless, of course, you really want to. Plan the party after meal time and offer snacks. You will want something salty, a little something sweet, and something to whet your whistle.
OK, you have created a festive atmosphere, very casual,making conversation easy. These folks will be your most intimate friends or family. This is a good place to start because you can really let you hair down and have fun with the participants. Let’s try some munchies. If you don’t want to take the time to make the ever popular Chex Mix, create a mix of your own. Here’s how you’ll do it. I call it:
Grandma’s Kitchen Recipes’ No-Brainer Salty Snack Mix
1. Go down the snack section of your grocery store and find some tastes and shapes that will make a fun mix.
2. Pick some items that have a bold spicey taste like nacho cheese or chili, or ranch flavored snacks. And don’t forget the crunchy cheese snacks.
3. Choose an interesting shape of pretzels.
4. Peanuts and cashews are always good.
5. Look for small, bite size whole grain crackers or use some wheat Chex cereal.
6. Grandma’s Kitchen Recipes says, be creative, and mix and match with gusto. Before party time, find your biggest Christmas snack bowl and start dumping the ingredients. There are any number of ways you can make this by changing some flavors or ingredients. Plus you can cater to your guests’ special tastes.
Now, for something sweet. And we are going to use the same technique as the salty snack mix.
We’re going back to the store for these items, and you can mix as match as you see fit.
Grandma’s Kitchen Recipes “I Can’t Believe it’s This Easy” Trail Mix
1. Find the dried fruits that you like. I would suggest dried cranberries paired with dried strawberries; dried blueberries with dried mango and dried cherries; or dried apricots with dried pineapple and banana chips. Or just mix them all together.
2. Get yogurt covered raisins.
3. Don’t forget the walnuts or use pecans.
Once again, just toss together for a good sweet snack. Now, wasn’t that easy? And look how much more time you will have with your guests. You may actually spend more time picking out Christmas music than fixing the food. And for something to drink try serving a couple of different Christmas flavor coffees or hot tea. Hot chocolate with the low fat spray can of whipped cream is always good. And if you have children at your party, Grandma’s Kitchen Recipes suggests heating some apple cider or apple juice and letting them use whole cinnamon sticks as straws.
So, Grandma’s Kitchen Recipes hopes these ideas will save some time. We all seem to need more time. Until the next post, Grandma’s Kitchen Recipes says have fun at your holiday parties and, enjoy life!