Thursday, February 13, 2014

German Pancakes

Snow day today! I LOVE the snow!  It always gives me an opportunity to practice kitchen therapy making the house smell good and feel warm and cozy. Spending time in the kitchen gives me time to contemplate the mysteries of the universe.

Today I started the morning making German Pancakes. I got this recipe years ago when I was newly married. I was a little tentative initially about trying the recipe, but it quickly became a family favorite. It always makes me feel homey because it has an awesome presentation when the "pancakes" rise.

One of the very handy things about German Pancakes is that I can mix them up in just a few minutes and put them in the oven, then get in the shower. By the time I get out of the shower and dressed, voile, the German Pancakes are done and breakfast is served.  

German Pancakes

Melt 6 T. butter or margarine in 9 x 13” baking pan.

Beat until frothy:

6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
dash of salt

Pour into pan over the melted butter. Bake at 400º for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and raised. The corners of the pancakes will raise several inches so be sure there is room above the rack they are cooking on to allow for the raising. Serve with syrup, powdered sugar, jam, or fresh fruit.  My family prefers syrup.

What I Do: This is actually how I made it for many years. Then my sons got bigger and I started doubling it in the 9" x 13” pan so that it would be thicker and more filling. Then I did 2 dozen eggs in a LARGE restaurant style pan, but I only mixed a double recipe at a time.

I also learned recently that you can mix it in the blender and it turns out ok, however, to do a double batch in the blender requires that you have a 5+ quart blender container.  Sometimes is raises the same but sometimes it doesn't when I mix the batter in the blender; however, it still tastes yummy.

Now that I am down to fewer people living at my house again, I have discovered that that I prefer cooking a single batch in an 8" x8" pan so the pancakes are thicker when they deflate.

Note: One of my sons makes these the best and he mixes them by hand, but he is much stronger than I am so I always use an electric mixer or blender, though I prefer the mixer.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Poppyseed Salad Dressing

It looks like it is trying to be spring, but it is still very cold most days where I live. Yesterday I came out to frozen raindrops on my windshield. I have to admit that it looks cool (no pun intended), but that just shows HOW cold it has been! I love winter and I love the snow, but it is always refreshing to move into spring.

This time of year I start getting the urge to eat and cook springy foods. I made pasta primavera last night for dinner, even though it included several rather winter vegetables, to get in the spirit. Even though the main dish is so veggie based, I still like to eat a green salad with it. One of my favorite salad dressings is this poppyseed dressing. I have two variations of it and I will post both.

In the past I have usually made it with vegetable oil because the one time I used olive oil, I didn't care for it. However, my son brought back some olive oil from the area that is is supposed to have the best olive oil in Spain. I tried that olive oil in the dressing and it is fabulous although it does have a slight greenish tint.

Also, I pour the oil (whatever kind I am using) in a thin steady stream through the center hole of my blender lid. This makes the dressing thicken to a nice consistency.

Below are a few salad combinations to get you started even before spring fully arrives.

Winter Salad with Poppyseed Dressing

1 large head romaine, torn into bite size pieces (fresh spinach is also good)

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1 cup cashews

¼ cup craisins

1 apple, cubed

1 pear, cubed

Combine and toss with dressing to coat.


Blend in blender:

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup sugar

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

With machine running add 2/3 cup olive oil in a slow steady stream. Process until thick and smooth. Add 1 tablespoon poppy seeds.

Variation: Brenda's Spinach Salad: baby spinach, parmesan cheese, craisins, slivered almonds-toasted, fruit (sliced pears, strawberries, or mandarin oranges). Toss with dressing: In blender, blend ¼ onion, 1/3 c. red wine vinegar, then add ½ c. sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 1 T poppy seeds, 1 T grey poupon mustard, 1 cup oil. Blend in blender.


What I Do: I had better luck making the salad dressing from Brenda but I don’t add the mustard. I mix and match what I have on hand, but I really like the craisins and/or other fruit in addition to the vegetables in my salad. My sons are not as fond of fruit or nuts in the salads, so sometimes I serve the craisins or nuts on the side to be added as desired.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I love homemade applesauce! I used to can, bottle, or whatever they call in your part of the country, 48-60 quarts every year. Back then I used the old fashioned knife, hand peeled and cored the apples, cooked them, mashed them and bottled them. It was always delicious and just as were running out, it would be time to do another batch--or rather, many batches.

Then, for a few years I used a Victorio strainer or food mill. They worked great and made the work go so much faster and easier to feed to the babies, but I missed the chunky fresh applesauce feel. This year I found a GREAT buy on Victorio Strainers and got one for each of a few of the adult kids who make applesauce. After much contemplation, I decided to get one for myself too! But before I could actually get mine in hand (since I bought the store out and had to get a raincheck for the rest)...

we accumulated lots of apples over a period of a few weeks from the produce co-op. They weren't getting eaten quickly enough so I decided to make some applesauce. I did it the old-fashioned way using a knife to peel and core the apples. I cooked them and mashed them and added a little sugar and cinnamon and the applesauce turned out GREAT! And I wondered why I don't continue to make lots of applesauce every year even though I don't have little ones at home any longer.

Years ago, we were visiting my in-laws and my mother-in-law had frozen her applesauce and it was so yummy! So, I decided to do the same since I wasn't preserving 48 quarts! It was easy, fun, yummy kitchen therapy. Even Stephanie, who isn't a fan of chunky applesauce, enjoyed the homemade fresh flavor. Even with my new Victorio Strainer, I think I'll do a few batches with the old-fashioned knife and enjoy the texture of chunky applesauce. I'll put them in my freezer next to my frozen Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies to enjoy on a day when I need an extra lift.

Homemade Applesauce

My Mother-in-Law

8 cups sliced apples

2 cups water

Cook until apples are soft.

Add to apples and mash:

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

Ready to eat warm or refrigerate to have later. Enjoy!

To Freeze: ladle applesauce into freezer bags or containers. Label and freeze for up to one year.

To can: put in hot jars, put on hot lids. Place jars in canner or large pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes.

Makes 3 pints.

What I Do: I never add the nutmeg. I use whatever apples I have on hand or can buy cheap. The last amazing batch was mostly braeburns, but I have made it with all kinds of apples. It's amazing what a little cooking, mashing, sugar, and cinnamon can do. I like this proportion of sugar and cinnamon to the amount of apples because it adds a very light flavor. However, when the babies were little, I didn't add the sugar and cinnamon.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Yams and Apples

Every family has their favorite recipes and stories behind how those came to be the family favorites. No one in my immediate family-starting with my husband-liked yams with brown sugar and marshmallows. I tried this, he liked it, and forever after we always brought the yams and apples to everything because he volunteered us.

This recipe is from one of my bridal showers where the hostesses collected recipes from all of the guests. Some of our family favorites over the years date back to that immense collection of recipes from experienced wives and mothers.

Now, even my daughter-in-law who does not normally like yams, appreciates this recipe which is a nice blend of fall flavors highlighting the yams but meshing with apples and cinnamon.

Yams and Apples

6-8 yams, boiled until just done, then sliced in 1/8" slices
5-6 apples, peeled and sliced thinly

Layer in casserole or deep 9x13” baking dish and cover with sauce.


1 cup white granulated sugar
2 cups water
¼ pound margarine
3 Tablespoons cornstarch (dissolve in ¼ cup cold water then add to mixture)
1 teaspoon salt

Boil until thick and clear then pour over layered yams and apples.

Bake at 350º F. for 30-35 minutes until apples are done.

What I Do: I always bake the yams because it is usually easier. However, be sure to put them on a cookie sheet since I have had many an oven with yam on the bottom smoking during the cooking of the Thanksgiving turkey. I add about 1+ teaspoons cinnamon to the sauce. The original recipe had you sprinkle each layer with cinnamon. I don’t ever add the salt and I have gotten very sloppy about the measurements over the years so it is not always the same.

NOTE: One of my daughters now makes this with 1/2 the sugar with good results. The original recipe called for canned yams, but I don't prefer them so always use fresh ones.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Food and Family

Irritability Inhibitors are an essential part of eating, but the fun part is the family time. Growing up, it was always expected that we would be home for dinner. I remember being a little annoyed-or maybe a lot annoyed-at my mom. After all, sometimes I was in the middle of doing something very important like challenging my brothers to a game--really any game, visiting with my girlfriends about the boys we thought were cute, or reading a book. However, the habit was instilled me so that when I got married and started my own family, of course we all had dinner together. As the kids got to be teenagers, sometimes this was the only time in the day that we were all together.

Yes, sometimes it took a little logistical wizardry to plan dinner around everyone's busy schedules and before bedtime for the little ones, but the effort has reaped many family memories that we can share now when we are all gathered from 3 states and 6 cities across the country. We still plan out some of our time together around preparing, eating, and cleaning up food!

Dinner at our home is an event! Part of the fun is that we all get together and pitch in with the cooking while we visit, reminisce, and catch up. When everyone was still living at home, we used this time to catch up on our day apart and share new insights, struggles, and information. Some dinner events were fun and light and others were a little more serious.

Once everyone had color coded plates and cups and they had to sit where their plate was on the table, most of the bickering was ameliorated. We discussed and learned about a variety of topics over dinner depending on what we were individually (or collectively) studying, exposed to, or interested in. Is it better to brush or floss first? Why did this or that politician vote the way he should? How does God answer prayers? How did the gulags in Russia start? Some of these were just discussions where we all shared our opinions, some were fabulous teaching moments that any mom would relish, some brought uncontrolled laughter, and some required phone calls-right there from the dinner table-to an expert on the subject. All bonded us together forever with memories that cannot be erased.

One of our family favorite bonding recipes is Shepherd's Pie. As the kids got bigger and required more fuel for their bodies, this really became a family production because of the quantity of potatoes required. Some would be peeling and cutting carrots, some peeling potatoes, some reserving their shining moment for the mashing of the potatoes, and others lending moral support to the workers.

Shepherd’s Pie


1 cup meat

1 onion, chopped

gravy or stock

2 cups boiled, mashed potatoes

Mix the meat and onion and season. Moisten with gravy or stock. Put the mixture in the bottom of a pie dish and cover with a thick layer of mashed potatoes. Cook at 375º F. for 45 minutes.

Shepherd’s pie can be served as a meal in itself or with a green vegetable like cabbage or spinach. It is a favorite dish in many British pubs where it is cooked in big trays and kept warm on a hot plate.

What I Do: I usually use either the cheapest beef (like stew meat I found on sale) or leftover roast or other meat. Sometimes when I make chimichangas, I save out some of the beef for this. If the meat isn’t cooked, I simmer it with the chopped onion, chopped carrots, and 2-4 quarts of water to make a nice beef broth. I usually add some beef bouillon to give the broth some body since I don’t always use a lot of meat. Then I thicken the broth with a 1-2 Tablespoons of cornstarch OR ¼-1/2 cup of flour (depending on how much broth I have) that has been mixed with ½-1 cup of cold water. Stir it until thickened. Remove from stovetop, add 1-2 cups frozen peas and pour in a 9x13” pan (or the size that will feed your family). [Sometimes I also add string beans or other vegetables at this time, but actually the carrots, onions, meat and potatoes and peas are what I usually serve.] Spread mashed potatoes that have been prepared as you normally do on top and bake for about 30 minutes because everything is already is warm.

If I am making mashed potatoes especially for this meal, I make them much thinner than normal.

Although I seldom have leftover meat to use, if I use leftover meat, I just boil the carrots and onions in beef bouillon that can be made with bouillon cubes or granules to make the amount of broth you need. Shred the meat or brown the hamburger if using ground beef. Thicken the broth and add the meat when you add the peas and continue as above.

This works for leftover mashed potatoes also.

Be sure that you allow for enough room for the soupy mixture to “expand” when you add the potatoes. We like this somewhat soupy and serve it in a bowl.

Great Meal Idea: serve with rolls or French bread and salad

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Irritability Inhibitors

I was at the Smithsonian American History Museum last night for an educator evening. It was beautiful and fun and reawakened my patriotic feelings. One of displays now is a replica of Julia Child's kitchen, apparently with many of her real pots, pans, and kitchen gadgets. It is a very nice display that inspired me in the design of my dream kitchen.

In the area around the kitchen her life is presented in photojournaled placards with quotes and excerpts from her authentic writing and speaking. One of the quotes I liked was:
The thing about food is your're a much happier person if you eat well and treasure your meals. -Julia Child

In our family, there are several of us who get rather irritable when we have not eaten in a while, but alas the problem arises of finding quick and easy foods that contribute to nutritional intake vs. junk food. Don't get me wrong, I can eat junk food with the best of them, but in those moments when I need food to alleviate my crankiness, I find that my favorites like chocolate and chips often contribute to the problem.

I attended a class a few years ago and they gave out a list entitled, "Everyone's Hungry, Now What Am I Going To Fix?" I have added to the list and here it is-Irritability Inhibitors-easy snacks and meals that can be prepared in 5-30 minutes.

You can adapt the list to the Irritability Inhibitors that will help your family enjoy their meals and be happy!

Irritability Inhibitors

Sometimes you need to take care of low blood sugar levels NOW before everyone is grouchy and the evening is ruined. Here is a list of quick ideas to help.

Grilled cheese sandwich

Grilled ham and cheese

Tuna salad on toast

Tuna salad on crackers and apple slices

Cheese sticks and apple slices—add a piece of toast or crackers

Peanut butter on celery

Peanut butter on crackers

Chili dogs (aka: Breakfast of Champions) –use canned chili

Speghetti with bottled sauce

Mini pizzas using pita breads flat or

French bread pizza

Deluxe nachos (refried beans, cheese, salsa, etc.)

Quesadillas (some people in our family practically lived on these for years)

Seven layer dip and chips

Chef’s salad

Hawaiin haystacks


Scrambled eggs with ham or hash browns

Pancakes or waffles

Fruit smoothies

Orange Julius

Baked potatoes


Mexican Soup

Enchilada Casserole

Apples with caramel dip

Raw vegetables with ranch dressing

Granola (with or without milk)

Banana chips

Dried apples

Butternut Squash Soup

A week or so ago I found a very cool cookbook. I have seen it before, but this time I was very motivated to buy it because it had a particular recipe I had been looking for. The book is by Todd Wilbur, who apparently has written several copycat recipe books for beloved restaurant fare . I am still honing the recipe I bought it for, but in the mean time, I found the recipe for Spago's Butternut Squash Soup. I have had squash soup that I liked, I have tried to make it and it was ok, but this was really yummy and very fallish.

We decided that, even though my family likes soup as a main dish in the fall and winter, this is really a side dish type of soup. So, on the second night, we had Butternut Squash Soup with cheese sandwiches. It was a perfect combo! I can imagine scenarios, like when my sons were still at home, when that meal would have required a few loaves of bread to provide enough sandwiches; but for less ambitious eaters it hit the spot.

The soup was better the next day, apparently needing the time to meld the flavors together; AND it froze well. I froze it in 1 quart bags lying flat. It thawed very quickly, maybe a couple of hours at room temperature and heated beautifully in a saucepan on medium/low heat.

Spago's Butternut Squash Soup
Todd Wilbur

1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped leek (about 1 leek)
1 1/2 pounds cubed butternut squash
(about 5 cups or 1 squash)
1 Gala apple, peeled and chopped
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium/low heat, then add the leek. Sweat the leeks for 6 minutes, or until soft, and then add the butternut squash, apple, chicken broth, and all the spices. Don't add the heavy cream or brown sugar yet. Crank up the heat to medium and bring this mixture to a low boil and cook for 30 minutes, or until the squash softens. Turn off the heat and let the soup cool for 5 or 10 minutes.

Pour the soup into a blender and blend on high speed until completely smooth. Add an additional 1/4 cup of water to the soup if it's too thick to blend. (To avoid a very messy and very hot situation, press down on the top of the blender with a folded dish towel to keep the lid from popping off.) I only blended about 2 cups at a time which also helped to minimize the hot soup from exploding.

Pour the soup back into the saucepan and add the cream and sugar. Bring the soup to a simmer over medium/low heat, about 10 minutes. Spoon approximately 1 cup soup into bowls to serve.

Serves 6

What I Do: I would use only 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice because the flavor was a little too strong for my taste buds. I didn't have cardamom on hand so I omitted it. I used black pepper and it did not adversely affect the appearance.