Category Archives: Cooking Can Be Fun!

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

If you love punkin’ pie (as we used to call it when I was little) as much as our family does, then you might enjoy this moist, pumpkin pancake recipe. I developed it in honor of Thanksgiving coming up this week. Actually, I was also trying to imitate a favorite autumn breakfast from a nearby restaurant, where they serve “pumpkin pecan pancakes” each fall. Mine turned out a little more like pumpkin pie than regular pancakes, but I think they might also be a little healthier (being half pumpkin and nuts), and the home team gave them two thumbs up, so I want to pass along the recipe and see if you like them as much as we do!

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes
(Makes eight, 4-inch pancakes)

1 15-0z. can pumpkin (or two cups of homemade pumpkin puree)
1 cup of your favorite pancake mix
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup roasted, salted pecans (optional, but I think they really add!)
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamonMix all the ingredients together thoroughly by hand (don’t whip), and fry on a well-buttered griddle at medium heat for about two or three minutes on each side. (This is a lower heat than needed for regular pancakes, but you also have to fry them longer.) Pat them down and make sure they’re cooked through on both sides, crispy and brown but not burned (of course!). Serve them piping hot with butter and syrup…and possibly bacon and/or eggs. I usually eat an egg and a slice of bacon with three pancakes, but pumpkin pie pancakes are more filling, and I was completely full with just two pancakes and one strip of bacon. (Just if you’re estimating how much to make relative to how many regular pancakes you might eat.) Let me know if you try them and like them, will you? Or, please let us know if you experiment and find something you like even better. Thanks!

Psalm 100 (NIV)

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Cranberry Sauce Shaped Like a Can…or…How About Home Made?!

If you’ve ever seen Ernest Saves Christmas (and I wouldn’t recommend it for high value, but our kids did love it when they were little and it became a bit of a cult classic around our home), you might remember the line about how Ernest loved all things Christmas, including “cranberry sauce, shaped like a can.” Actually, that’s the way I also ate it when I was little, unless my mom sliced it into round, can-shaped slices (jellied). Or, sometimes she served “whole berry” sauce (from a can) and mashed it up to look more attractive. Fifty years hence, fresh cranberries are readily available this time of year in America, and homemade cranberry sauces and relishes are both simple to make and a whole lot yummier than anything you can buy in a can! I was testing my recipe for cranberry sauce on an 80+ year-old friend who was over for dinner recently, and he teased me, “For somebody who seems to worry about your weight, you sure write about food a lot on your blog!” 🙂  (Notice how svelte he still is!)

True enough, but part of good health and weight management is learning how to use less sugar in what you do allow yourself, and my theory is that most people are going to want a little cranberry sauce with their Thanksgiving dinner in a couple of weeks. Good nutrition isn’t just what foods you eat, it’s also about avoiding unnecessary additives and preservatives, using fresh ingredients that still have their nutritive value intact, and using “less”of  those ingredients which tend to cause weight gain (sugars, starches, and fats being among the chief offenders).

Therefore, I’m bringing you my own, less-sugared versions of cranberry dishes that are among America’s favorite Thanksgiving sides. If you’ve not discovered these tart complements for your turkey dinner, why not try making your own? They’re simple to make and sure to please!

Cheery Cranberry Sauce
(serves 6±)

12 oz. cranberriesWash the cranberries to remove any unwanted stems or leaves. Add: 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (most recipes call for a cup, so you might want a little more, but try it first. My taste-testers thought it was fine with only half the sugar).
1/8 teaspoon salt (can be left out if you’re trying to avoid salt)Bring to a boil, stirring often until all the sugar has melted. Reduce the heat and let the berries simmer until almost all the berries have “popped” (about 5-7 minutes)Keep warm and covered on the stove top until you’re ready to serve it. (If you don’t eat it all the first night, cranberry sauce will last a week or more stored in an air-tight container in your refrigerator.)

Cranberry-Orange Relish
(Serves 6-8)

12 oz. cranberries (wash them, as above)Chop up one entire seedless orange into about 8 large pieces (skin and all)
Add 1/2 cup sugar (or start with 1/2 and test; 1/2 cup is enough for me, but that’s pretty tart; my son likes it a touch sweeter)
1/8 teaspoon salt (can be left out if you’re salt-sensitive)
*Many people enjoy adding 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans. This is a good option, but only if you’re going to eat it all quickly, as the nuts will get soggy in a day or two. Otherwise, the relish lasts quite well for almost a week.Grind it all up in a Cuisinart (or other food processor) until it’s in “itty-bitty pieces.” (Stop before it liquifies.)Place in a serving dish and keep it chilled in the refrigerator until it’s time to eat.

I will praise the name of God with a song,
and will magnify him with thanksgiving
” (Psalm 69:30).

 

 

Gourmet Steak’n’Swiss Mac’n’Cheese

Last weekend Alan and I took our daughter and grand kids out for lunch, and we both thought the kids’ macaroni and cheese looked yummy. In fact, we exchanged glances that conveyed a clear, “I’d like some of that, wouldn’t you??” But, isn’t mac’n’cheese supposed to be reserved for kids? Well, it’s becoming a popular item on menus for adults, and so I thought it would make a good topic for a Saturday food blog. Of course, plain old macaroni and cheese can be made by reading the suggestion on the side of the container, but if you’d like some ideas to get you started on making your own gourmet version, here’s one to try:

Gourmet Steak and Swiss Mac’n’Cheese
(Serves 6-8)

Prepare 1 pound of macaroni according to the directions on the package (which means adding the macaroni to boiling, salted water and stirring for about 5 minutes until it’s al dente (“to the tooth;” not quite cooked through so it would still be firm if bitten…but don’t yet, because it wouldn’t taste very good)

Chop up and saute together with 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan:
1 medium onion
1 fresh pepper (yellow, red, orange, or green)
2 stalks celery
Flavor with:
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2  teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning   When tender (about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often; you can prepare this while your macaroni is boiling), add:
1 small jar (8 oz) of chopped, grilled and marinated artichoke hearts (obviously, all my suggestions are optional, since if you have mac’n’cheese…what else do you really need?)2 medium tomatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces 1 grilled 8-oz steak, chopped into bite-sized pieces the pound of macaroni that’s either been drained or has absorbed the water
(I try to use just enough water so the macaroni cooks without having to discard any excess water (because it have some nutritive value), but that requires using only about 2 cups of water and watching/adding more if needed, so if you don’t want to take time to experiment, you can always use the recommended amount and just drain off the excess before adding the macaroni to the skillet.) 8 oz Swiss cheese (shredded or in slices)
2 more tablespoons of butter 8 oz. grated Parmesan cheese   Continue heating until the cheese and butter melts and everything  is well blended. Serve it as a meal in itself, or with a side salad and some fruit. If any of the ingredients I mentioned are on your “bad” list, try a few veggies that you love. You can’t go wrong, and you’ll probably come up with you very own, new and unique family favorite comfort food!  Want something else to comfort you? How about some spiritual comfort food?

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16).

Bold’n Golden Banana Bread

Another favorite way of using up over-ripe bananas in our family—particularly on chilly fall days—is making a loaf of banana bread, which is really more dessert than bread but can also be used for breakfast if you’re in the mood. I like to add quite a bit of spice to give it a bolder flavor, and our kids love to add chocolate chips or nuts, but I grew up with plain banana bread, so I still think the old, classic taste is comforting and yummy without needing any extra pizzazz!

Bold’n Golden Banana Bread
(makes one rather large loaf; can serve 8-12)

2 ripe medium to large bananas
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 stick (1/2 cup) softened butterBlend until fairly uniform and bananas are no longer lumpy bumps Then add together into mix:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup walnuts or other nuts (or even chocolate chips) as possible options, although it’s also great plain   Blend together briefly until thoroughly mixed, but don’t whip or beat it.
Pour into a well greased loaf pan and bake at 350°F for 50-60 minutes or until it’s a deep, golden brown, nicely rounded on top, and doesn’t indent much when touched. Serve it still warm (if possible), either with or without additional butter.   My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes. My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:171-172).

 

Favorite Food Surprise in India and Nepal

Alan and I are at last home after an unforgettable trip to India and Nepal.  We tried all sorts of interesting and unusual dishes that we’d never tasted before, including water buffalo (which tastes like tough beef)!Goat was a common delicacy, and I do like goat meat, but my favorite surprise was Indian bananas.

They’re served green and spotted, and so Alan and I were slow to try them, but they’re actually perfectly ripe when they look like this, and they’re even sweeter than the South American bananas we’re used to here in America. So, once we discovered them, they became a staple part of our meals! (They were also very digestible, which was an issue for everyone on our trip.)  Although I never really had fried bananas on this particular trip, I do love them, so I thought this Saturday, in honor of our trip to the tropics, I’d write about how to make this easy and delicious dish! (Besides, it’s a perfect way to use up bananas that are getting super ripe.)

Sweet Fried Bananas
(serves 2)

Heat 2 teaspoons butter and 2 rounded teaspoons of brown sugar
in a frying  pan.  Heat and stir until the sugar melts and starts to caramelize.  Peel two ripe bananasSlice them in half and add to the syrup. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Fry for one minute on medium heat, then flip them over and fry for one minute. The goal is to heat them through and glaze them, but if you actually cook them through, they’ll become too mushy, so be careful.  They’re delicious right out of the frying pan, but they’re scrumpdelicious if you add a scoop of ice cream, spoon out the rest of the syrup on top, and crown them with whipping cream. The only difference between this and the famous “Bananas Foster” would be rum, but my theory is that no one needs rum!  🙂

Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness” (Isaiah 55:2).

 

 

Corned Beef Hash: Breakfast of Champions (At Least My Champion)

Do you have an all-time favorite breakfast? If you’re married, do you know what your spouse’s favorite breakfast is? Your kids’? My husband goes out once a month with two of his closest friends, and he always orders the same thing: Corned beef hash with eggs and toast.  I always thought his favorite breakfast was eggs and bacon with hash browns, and that may be true, but now I’m not so sure! Maybe that’s just his favorite breakfast that I make! It struck me that I should learn how to make corned beef hash and add it to our menu. It’s so simple, I don’t know why I never thought of it before!

Corned Beef Hash for Champions
(per serving)

Fry together:
1 tablespoon butter
1 potato sliced and chopped into bit-sized pieces
2 tablespoons finely diced onion
Dash of garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

After the potato and onions are tender add:
2 oz. chopped corned beef (which you can buy from almost any deli). Mix and fry until heated through and starting to brown.

Serve immediately, offering ketchup, salsa, and hot sauce as condiments. (Got to keep up with the restaurant Jones, right?!)

PS—Do you have any favorite recipes for breakfast that you especially love or are family favorites at your house? I’d love for you to share them!

And there went out a champion out of the camp…” (1 Samuel 17:4). I wonder if Goliath had forgotten to eat his Wheaties for breakfast before challenging the Israelites?! “They” say breakfast is our most important meal of the day, so I hope you’re eating a breakfast for champions before taking off to conquer the challenges in your life each morning!

 

Cornbread Fit for Commoners and Kings

Cornbread—especially liberally doused with butter and honey—was always a special treat when I was a girl, although it wasn’t as much of a staple in our northern home as it often is in southern homes. My mom served cornbread sometimes with fried chicken or chili, and as a mother, I tended to do the same. Being a health-food freak at the time, I always made my cornbread from scratch using cornmeal. Trouble was, I didn’t make it often enough, so the cornmeal would spoil before I used it all up! Did that ever happen to you?And then, voilà! I discovered there’s cornbread, and cornbread —the kind made with real corn, such as they serve down at Disney’s Trails’ End Restaurant in Fort Wilderness, served with honey butter.

That was a game changer for me! I threw out my cornmeal, bought some creamed corn, and started experimenting. If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool southerner or continue to be a health-food freak, you may not approve, but here’s what I’ve found as a super simple but very yummy way to make cornbread.

Kingly Cornbread
(serves 6-8)

Empty into your mixer:
1 Jiffy corn muffin mix (please don’t tell)
1 can cream-style corn
1 egg  (Note: Don’t use any milk, although the recipe on the box calls for it.)
(This is all you need, and I don’t usually add anything more, but if you want to make it addictively good, you can add 2 tablespoons each of sugar and melted butter. This tastes great, but I prefer to add my butter and honey on top.)
              Mix it thoroughly, but don’t beat it up any more than necessary!   Pour into an 8X8″ pan and bake for 30 minutes at 375°F (which is slightly lower than the directions on the jiffy mix, but the batter will be wetter and need a little longer to bake). It may take more like 35-40 minutes, but check it after 30. It’s done when the surface starts to turn a golden brown and tiny fissures start to appear.  Serve it piping hot if possible (although warm is still fine), and be sure to have lots of butter and honey available!Our family are commoners, but it’s my firm belief that every man should feel like a king in his own castle, so that makes our husbands kings, too. True?

In the Bible, speaking of Jesus, it says, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5-6). According to these verses, every person who is saved by the blood of Jesus has become a king in God’s eyes, so even if we’re commoners by station, we can all be kings by status!