Christmas Cookie Crust

I pulled out old Christmas cookies from the refrigerator to make a graham cracker crust.  I need to tweak the recipe a little.  But don't worry, there are lots more left over Christmas cookies.  Oh, and I used up some old yogurt as well. 
Strawberry-Yogurt Pie
Serves 6-8
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled 
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 envelope (1/4 oz.) unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel 
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust (9 in.)
  • 1/2 cup miniature or regular chocolate chips
  1. 1. Coarsely chop about half the strawberries, to equal 11/2 cups chopped berries (reserve remaining ones for garnish). In a 2- to 3-quart pan over medium heat, stir chopped strawberries, sugar, and gelatin until gelatin and sugar are dissolved and mixture is boiling. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt, vanilla, and orange peel until well blended (chunks of strawberries will be visible). Pour into pie crust.
  2. 2. Chill until set, at least 6 hours, or cover with plastic wrap and chill up to 1 day. Just before serving, sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over top of pie. Slice remaining strawberries. Cut pie into wedges; serve with sliced berries.

Totally Tossing Turkey

Last Thanksgiving I pre-made gravy and saved the turkey I used for flavor.  Which meant there was no flavor left in the turkey.  On top of that it was freezer burned and dried out.  And on top of that it was cooked old freezer burned turkey in the first place.  To recap:  Old dried freezer burned cooked turkey cooked again to death, refrozen to more dried freezer burned turkey.   I could barely get it down.  Other than that the pizza was great. 
Peach and Gorgonzola Chicken Pizza
Serves 4
  • 1 (10-ounce) prebaked thin pizza crust (such as Boboli)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided 
  • 1 cup shredded cooked chicken breast 
  • 1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 medium unpeeled peach, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. 2. Place pizza crust on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Brush 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil evenly over crust. Top evenly with 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, chicken, Gorgonzola cheese, and peach slices. Top with remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella. Bake at 400° for 11 minutes or until crust browns.
  3. 3. Place vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until reduced to 2 tablespoons (about 5 minutes). Drizzle balsamic reduction evenly over pizza. Cut pizza into 8 wedges.

Lettuce From a Whisky Barrel

This sprung up unexpectedly in an barrel that I had lettuce in last year. 

My 30 Year Old Beans

My beans are so old only a pressure cooker can make them tender.  Here are instructions for canning/bottling beans. 

Pressure Canning Legumes
Guidelines for healthy eating recommend 1/2 cup of beans five times a week. 
Winter is a good time to can beans and meat since the summer produce is all put up. 

Instructions for a 22 quart pressure canner


Pressure canner with inside rack--check to make sure the gasket is in good condition
7 quart clean canning jars, with no cracks or chips
Bands and new, unused lids, with no nicks
Clean towels
Large saucepan
Teakettle or pot for boiling water and ladle
Measuring teaspoon and cups
Wooden spoon or flat plastic spatula (not metal)

Lid lifter (optional)
Jar lifter (optional)
Dry beans-  Larger beans like kidney use 9 cups,  small beans like navy and red use 10 cups.  (There are about 7 oz in one cup of small beans.)

Preparing the beans

If necessary, wash and sort beans, picking out any rocks or dirt clumps.  Remove any soft, diseased or spotted beans. 

Soak the beans.  This hydrates them and releases the sugar (oligosaccharides) that causes gas.  Place beans in a large pot and cover the beans with water.  For one pound of beans you will need 6-8 cups of water.  (About 3 cups of water for one cup of beans.) Add salt if desired. Soak for 12-18 hours.  Drain the beans, discarding the water, and rinse beans well.   (My beans are so old I soak them 3 times and it helps control flatulence.)  Tip from Debbie Kent:  Soaking them in the fridge keeps them from souring. 

For a quick soak, cover the beans with water add salt if desired and boil for 2 minutes.  Cover with a lid.  Let stand one hour.  Drain and rinse beans.

 For this recipe, you may need to use 2 large pots putting half the beans in each and adding 4 quarts of water to each pot.

A most sensible tactic involves a lengthy soaking, and was developed some years ago by the California Dry Bean Advisory Board. For each pound of dried beans, use ten or more cups of boiling water. Boil for two to three minutes, cover, and set the beans aside overnight. This initial boiling breaks down the cell membranes of the beans, releasing the oligosaccharides so they can dissolve into the soaking water. Just make sure you discard the soaking water!

Getting ready to pressure can

After the final rinse, rinse out the bean pot as well.  Place beans back in the pot and cover with fresh water.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer for 3-5 minutes.  (New recommendation is 30 mins. You can cold pack but not recommended.  Do not pack jars as tightly when cold packing.)  Turn off burner. 

Meanwhile, do all of the following:

Boil the lids and bands for 2 minutes and keep warm

Bring water to a boil in a pot or a teakettle.  (A completely full teakettle is just enough for this recipe.)  You will need about 2 1/2-3 quarts of water.

Place canning rack in canner and add 2 quarts of water.  If desired, add 1 T. vinegar or 1 t. cream of tartar to help prevent water stains in canner.  Place canner on stove and turn on burner on medium low.  The point is to warm up the water so the jars don’t crack when you put them in but not to boil away the water.  The water should just be kept warm. 

Warm the jars by placing in the sink and filling each one with very hot water. 

Filling the jars

Drain the hot beans.  Pour out the hot water in the jars.  Fill the jars with hot beans leaving one inch head space.  Place one teaspoon of salt in each jar.  Pour or ladle boiling water over the beans leaving one inch head space.  After filling jars with beans, release air bubbles by inserting a flat plastic (not metal) spatula or the handle of a wooden spoon between the food and the jar. Slowly turn the jar and move the spatula up and down to allow air bubbles to escape. Clean the jar rim (sealing surface) with a dampened paper towel. Place the lid, gasket down, onto the cleaned jar-sealing surface. Uncleaned jar-sealing surfaces may cause seal failures.  Fit the metal screw band over the flat lid.

Pressure canning the beans
Place the 7 jars in the warm water in the canner.  Secure and lock the lid.  Place on the burner and turn the heat to high.  Some electric stoves may have a special canning burning that sits up higher so as not to crack the stove top. 
Let the canner vent for a full 10 minutes (set a timer).  Place the weight on for 10 or 15 pounds of pressure.  Keep heating until the weight rocks vigorously.  
SLOWLY reduce the heat until the weight rocks 4 times per minute.  (Just a little bit at a time. Turn it down just a tad every few minutes.) If the heat is reduced too fast, the pressure drops too fast and the liquid will all flow out of the jars.  Also, prevent drafts from blowing over canner. 
My beans are so hard I cook them for 2 hours.  Otherwise, cook for 1 1/2 hours. 

When the beans are done, slowly reduce the heat.  Leave the canner alone until it is completely cool and the lid has unlocked.  This could take up to an hour.  You can test if the pressure is down by gently nudging the control.  If steam spurts out, the pressure is not yet down.

Once that has occurred, take off the weight and carefully remove the cover.  You can take out the jars.  They may still be hot!  Use a jar lifter or hot pad.  Be careful where you place them.  If they are hot and you place them on a cold surface they will crack.  Place on a cooling rack or several layers of cloth.   The best thing is to just let them stay in the canner until they are completely cool.

Do not retighten lids after processing jars.
As jars cool, the contents in the jar contract, pulling the self-sealing lid firmly against the jar to form a high vacuum. If rings are too loose, liquid may escape from jars during processing, and seals may fail. If rings are too tight, air cannot vent during processing, and food will discolor during storage. Overtightening also may cause lids to buckle and jars to break, especially with raw-packed, pressure-processed food.

Screw bands are not needed on stored jars. They can be removed easily after jars are cooled. When removed, washed, dried, and stored in a dry area, screw bands may be used many times. If left on stored jars, they become difficult to remove, often rust, and may not work properly again.

Let them sit for 12 hours.  Check to see if they are all sealed.  Press the middle of the lid with a finger or thumb. If the lid springs up when you release your finger, the lid is unsealed.  Refrigerate any unsealed jars.  Once they are opened they only last about 1 week in the refrigerator.  Be sure to check the seal again on the jar before you open and use the beans. 

Tip from Cook's Illustrated
, the magazine that produces America's Test Kitchen.
Their tests confirmed that boiling beans in salted water makes them undercook, because salted water prevents some of the starch granules from bursting. However, they found that soaking the beans in salted water, then boiling in fresh water, confined the salt's effect to the outside of the beans, mostly just the skin. They say that during soaking, the sodium replaces some of the calcium and magnesium ions in the skins, and sodium is a weaker ion that allows more water to penetrate the skin, which makes the skins softer.  They recommend 3T salt in 4q water for 1lb beans. Soak them for 8 hours for a creamier texture or bring to a boil and soak 

1 hour.  The bottom line: salt beans before, but not during cooking.  They also recommend cooking the beans at a near-simmer in a low oven if you want the fewest burst beans.

A good resource:  “Country Beans” by Rita Bingham 

Salade Nicoise

Salade Nicoise
From Great Dinners from Life
Serves 6

2 pounds potatoes, boiled and sliced (I cut into chunks)
2 cups cooked cut green beans
1 cup cooked artichoke hearts
3 cups garlic dressing (recipe below)
Salad greens
1 large onion (I used red)
3 7-oz cans of tuna, drained and broken into chunks (I didn't add)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 cup pitted black olives
6 hard-cooked eggs, quartered
1 large green pepper, cut in rings (I didn't add)
1/2 cup canned or bottled red pepper strips (I didn't add)
2 2-oz cans rolled anchovies with capers (I definitely didn't add)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 T dried  (I forgot)

Combine the potatoes, beans, artichoke hearts and onion with the garlic dressing.  Marinate the mixture in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.  (If you don't have room it can sit on the counter for 2 hours.) Stir gently two or three times.  To serve, line a salad bowl with greens.  Drain the marinated vegetable, keeping the dressing for use later, and spoon them onto the greens.  Put the tuna in the middle of the bowl and arrange the tomatoes, olives, eggs, red and green peppers, and anchovies around it.  Sprinkle lightly with parsley.  Pass the dressing at the table or sprinkle a little onto the salad just before you serve it. 

Garlic Dressing

2 cups olive oil
1/2 cup tarragon vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 T. dry mustard
1 t. sugar
1 T. salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine mustard, sugar, salt and a generous amount of pepper,  Mix in garlic.  Add vinegar and lemon juice and stir thoroughly.  Add oil and mix well.  (tip:  whisk while slowly pouring in the oil) Stir or shake vigorously just before using.  Makes about 3 cups. 


You cannot use JELL-O as a reason for blogging.

What if I had it for years.

No.  It never goes bad.

What if I wouldn't use it except for this blog.


What if I made it, looked for it for a couple days, cleaned my kitchen and found it under a towel on the counter.

You can't be serious.

Oh, but I am.  Hey, it's still good!

Peachy Berry Mold

From The Joys of Jell-O and lemonlorange

“A fruit mold that brings a bit of sunshine to your meal anytime of year.”

1 package (3 oz.) Jell-O Orange or Orange-Pineapple Gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 can (8 3/4 oz.) sliced peaches
1 package (10 oz.) Birds Eye Red Raspberries

Dissolve Jell-O Gelatin in boiling water. Drain peaches, measuring syrup; add water to make 3/4 cup. Stir into gelatin. Add frozen raspberries, separating berries with fork and stirring until mixture thickens. Then stir in peaches. Pour into serving dishes or a 1-quart serving bowl. Chill until firm. Garnish with sour cream, if desired. Makes 3 1/2 cups, or 6 servings.

My adaptation 

3 package (3 oz.) Jell-O Orange 
3 cup boiling water
1 quart frozen sliced peaches in syrup, mostly thawed
1 package (12 oz.) fresh raspberries

Dissolve Jell-O Gelatin in boiling water.  Combine thawed peaches and syrup with raspberries.  Place in a large bowl or serving dish.  Pour Jello-O over.  Chill until firm. Garnish with sour cream, if desired.

Orange and Raspberry JELL-O

1-1/2 cups boiling water
2 (3 ounce) packages JELL-O Brand Orange Flavor Gelatin
1 (11 ounce) can mandarin orange segments
1 (12 ounce) package fresh raspberries

Stir boiling water into gelatin in large bowl at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved. 

Drain the mandarin orange segments, saving the liquid.  Add water to the liquid to make 2 cups.  Stir mixture into JELL-O.
Stir in orange segments and raspberries gently. Spoon into 6-cup mold or bowl.

Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm. Unmold or leave in serving bowl. Garnish as desired. Store leftover in refrigerator.

That Ham from Last Christmas

Or should I say one of the hams.  I found another huge one in the root cellar.  It was kind of warm in there.  Hmmmm.  I wonder if it's still good.   
Spaghetti with Creamy Corn and Ham
Serves 4

If you can't get good fresh corn, though, use three cups of frozen kernels, thawed, and put them directly into the food processor with the cream. Since frozen corn is parboiled, the heat of the pasta is enough to finish cooking it. (You could always used canned.) 
  1. 4 large ears corn, husks and silk removed
  2. 3/4 cup heavy cream
  3. 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  6. 3/4 pound spaghetti
  7. 1/4 pound sliced, smoked ham, cut into thin strips
  8. 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces  
  1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the ears of corn until just done, about 3 minutes. Remove the corn from the pot and save the hot water to cook the spaghetti. When the ears of corn are cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cob. You should have about 3 cups of kernels.
  2. Put the corn in a food processor with the cream, parsley, salt, and pepper. Pulse three or four times to chop the corn to a coarse puree. (I put my in a blender for a fine puree.)  
  3. Return the water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until just done, about 12 minutes. Reserve about 3/4 cup of the pasta water. Drain the spaghetti and toss with 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta water, the corn mixture, the ham, and the butter. If the sauce seems too thick, add more of the reserved pasta water.
Notes Test-Kitchen Tip To cut the kernels from an ear of corn, break the ear in half with your hands, or cut it with a knife. Stand each half on end on a cutting board and, using a large knife, cut straight down the sides to remove the kernels. It's easier to cut the kernels off cooked corn than raw because the juice splatters less. 

Nutrition per serving
Calories:  686
Fat 27 g
Fiber 6 g

National Donut Day

National Donut Day is on the first Friday of June each year, succeeding the Donut Day event created by the Salvation Army in 1938 to honor the women who served donuts to soldiers during World War I.