Archive for October, 2010

A Spaghetti Lover’s Casserole

Dear Readers,

My family loves Italian spaghetti but this casserole elevates it to a new level.  The recipe for “Italian Spaghetti Pie” is from the Pillsbury “County American” cookbook published in 1983.  It’s an easy recipe to produce and is certainly a novel take on Italian spaghetti.

Italian Spaghetti Pie

6 oz. spaghetti

1 lb. ground beef

1 cup chopped onions

1/4 cup chopped celery

15 oz. can tomato sauce

2-1/2 oz. jar Green Giant Sliced Mushrooms, drained

1 teaspoon oregano leaves

1 teaspoon basil leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 10-inch pie pan or 9-inch square pan.  Cook spaghetti to desired doneness as directed on package; drain.  Set aside.

In large skillet, brown ground beef with onions and celery; drain.  Stir in tomato sauce, mushrooms, oregano, basil and salt.  Simmer 15 minutes.

Combine cooked spaghetti, eggs, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and garlic salt; toss lightly.  Press spaghetti mixture evenly in bottom and up sides of prepared pan, forming a crust.  Pour meat mixture over spaghetti.  Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until spaghetti is golden brown and filling is thoroughly heated.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.  Makes 6 servings, each containing 360 calories and 16 grams of fat.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

According to Wikipedia, “The Ford Model T (colloquially known as the Tin Lizzie, T-Model Ford or T) is an automobile that was produced by Henry Ford’s Ford Motor Co. from 1908 to 1927.  It is generally regarded as the first affordable automobile, the car that opened travel to the common middle-class American.  The first production Model T was produced on August 12, 1908.  The Model T was the first automobile mass produced on assembly lines with completely interchangeable parts, marketed to the middle class.”

The Model T had three foot pedals to operate.  The left pedal engaged the gear; the middle pedal was for engaging the reverse gear and the right pedal operated the engine brake.  The floor lever controlled the parking brake, which was activated by pulling the lever all the way back.  This doubled as an emergency brake.  The selling price of this car in 1909 was $850 or $20,513 in today’s money.  By the 1920’s the cost was lowered to $290 or $3,258 in today’s money.

My Mom told us a family story about the Model T Ford.  In the 1920’s, when Mom was a kid, her aunt and uncle purchased a brand new Model T.  Needless to say, they were the envy of her family and their entire neighborhood.

One afternoon Aunt Mat (her real name was Martha) decided she wanted to take her kids out for a spin, while her husband was at work.  Aunt Mat didn’t know how to drive but thought that it couldn’t be that hard to do.  She bundled up Mom’s cousins and seated them in the shiny new car.  They lived just up the street from Mom.  Aunt Mat managed to get the car started and proceeded to drive down the street past Mom’s house.  Mom and her brothers were out in the front yard playing when they saw and waved to Aunt Mat and their cousins in the passing automobile.  A few minutes later Aunt Mat came around the block and again they waved at the car.  After about 5 times of seeing Aunt Mat circling the block, they called out to her to stop and say hello.  She yelled back that she didn’t know how to stop the car, so she continued circling the block until the Model T Ford ran out of gas and coasted to a stop.

Every time Mom told this family tale of Aunt Mat and the Model T, my sisters and I laughed and laughed.  But I’m sure Aunt Mat wasn’t laughing at all on that eventful afternoon.  At least we’ll always remember Aunt Mat with a big smile on our faces.

Keep smilin’!

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Fall Is Soup Time!

Dear Readers,

When the temperature cools down and the daylight gets shorter, it’s time for a comforting meal of soup.  Here’s a good, meatless soup for you to enjoy.

Hearty Golden Chowder

2 cups boiling water

2 cups chopped potato

1/2 cup carrot slices

1/2 cup celery slices

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon chopped chives

1 teaspoon salt

Dash of pepper

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

2 cups milk

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Combine first 8 ingredients.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat.  Cover, simmer 10 minutes.  Do not drain.

Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat.  Blend in flour.  Gradually add milk; cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Add cheese; stir until melted.  Add undrained vegetables.  Heat thoroughly; do not boil.

Makes 8 – 1 cup servings.

I think I copied this recipe from a Kraft Cheese cookbook.  It’s a recipe I’ve had for a very long time!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

This is the final installment of tips from Maureen’s e-mail.  I hope you find all of them informative and useful.

1.  Goodbye Fruit Flies:  To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass and fill it 1/2 inch with apple cider vinegar and 2 drops dish washing liquid.  Mix well.  You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!

2.  Get Rid of Ants:  Put small piles of cornmeal wherever you see ants.  They eat it, take it “home”, and can’t digest it so it kills them.  It may take a week or so to take effect, especially if it rains.  But it works and you don’t have to worry about small children or pets being harmed.

3.  Info About Clothes Dryers:  The heating unit went out on my dryer.  The repairman said he wanted to show me something.  He went over to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter.  It was clean. (I always clean the lint from the filter after every load of clothes.)  He took the filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it.  (The line filter is made of a mesh material.)  The hot water just sat on top of the mesh.  It didn’t go through at all.  He told me that dryer sheets produce a film over that mesh and that’s what burns out the heating unit.  You can’t see the film, but it’s there.  It’s what is in the dryer sheets that make your clothes soft and static free.  You can actually feel this waxy film on the unused dryer sheets.  It builds up on your clothes and on your lint screen.  This is also what causes dryer units to catch fire and potentially burn your house down!  He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time and to keep your electric bill lower is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water, using an old toothbrush.  Do this at least once every six months.  He said that will make the dryer last twice as long.

Keep smilin’!

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Lemony Salmon Casserole

Dear Readers,

My daughter-in-law had some leftover salmon and asked if I had any good salmon recipes.  I gave her this recipe.  My husband and I enjoyed it and maybe you will too!

Lemony Salmon Casserole

1-16 oz. can salmon

1 can cream of celery soup

1/2 cup dry sherry

1 medium-sized onion, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspon salt

1 cup water

Lemon slices for garnish

About 1-1/2 hours before serving:

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In 2-1/2 quart casserole, with fork, coarsely flake salmon with its liquid; add undiluted cream of celery soup, rice, sherry, onion, lemon juice, salt and 1 cup water; stir until well mixed.  Cover and bake 45 minutes.

2.  Remove casserole from oven; with spoon, stir salmon mixture and arrange lemon slices on top in a circle.  Cover and continue baking 30 minutes or until rice is tender.

Makes 6 main-dish servings.  Each serving contains about 320 calories and 7 grams of fat.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Here is a continuation of the tips that I received from my walking partner, Maureen.  Check them out.

1.  Keeping Weeds Away:  Wet newspapers, put layers around the plant overlapping as you go.  Cover with mulch and forget about weeds.  Weeds will grow through some gardening plastic but they will not get through wet newspapers.

2.  Broken Glass:  Use a cotton ball or Q-tip to pick up the small shards of broken glass that can’t be seen easily.

3.  Chop up leftover snickers bars from Halloween.  Peel and slice a few apples into a baking dish and sprinkle chopped candy bars over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Serve alone or with ice cream.

4.  No More Mosquitoes:  Place a dryer sheet in your pocket.  It will keep the mosquitoes away.

5.  Squirrel Away:  To keep squirrels from eating your plants sprinkle them with cayenne pepper.  The cayenne pepper doesn’t hurt the plant and the squirrels won’t come near it.

6.  Flexible Vacuum:  To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge, add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum.  It can be bent or flattened to get into narrow openings.

7.  Measuring Cups:  Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill it with hot water.  Dump out the hot water, but don’t dry the cup.  Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes out.

8.  Foggy Windshield:  Hate foggy windshields?  Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove compartment of  your car.  When the windows fog, rub with eraser.  Works better than a cloth!

9.  Reopening An Envelope:  If you seal an envelope and then realize that you forgot to include something inside, just place the sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two.  Voila!  It unseals easily.

10.  Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs.  It’s cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth.  It’s also a great way to use up the hair conditioner you bought but didn’t like!

Keep smilin’!

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Oven-Roasted Green Beans

Dear Readers,

This recipe was adapted from “Desperation Entertaining” by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross.  I recently cut the recipe from the newspaper and since Harris-Teeter had fresh green beans on sale that week, I prepared it immediately.  It was a real success and my husband thoroughly enjoyed it.

Oven-Roasted Green Beans

2 pounds fresh green beans

1 large onion

8 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

About 1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse and drain the green beans.  Trim off the stem ends, leaving the green beans whole.  Peel the onion and cut into thin slices.  Separate the onion rings.  Peel the garlic cloves and cut each clove in half.

Place the beans, onion and garlic in a large bowl and drizzle the olive oil over them and add the salt.  Use your bare hands to mix ingredients so that all the beans are covered with the oil.  Put bean mixture onto a jelly roll pan that has been lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with Pam.  Roast in oven, uncovered for 10 minutes.  Use tongs to stir it all around; then roast for 10 additional minutes.

Remove from oven.  Immediately pour balsamic vinegar over everything.  Serve immediately or cover the pan with foil and let stand up to 1 hour before serving.

Makes 8 servings.  Recipe can be halved using one pound of green beans.  Onion can be red, sweet or yellow.  Fresh shiitake mushrooms can be used instead of garlic.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Okay, these aren’t my original tips.  (I wish they were!)  The came from a list of useful info e-mailed to me from my faithful walking partner, Maureen.  She cautioned me to “remember this is from the internet – and who knows if any of these things are really the truth!”  The tips are very interesting but you can choose if you wish to use them or not.

1.  For a cool brownie treat, prepare brownies as directed on package.  Melt Andes mints in double boiler and pour over warm brownies.  Let set for a wonderful minty frosting.

2.  Peel a banana from the bottom and you won’t have to pick the little “stringy things” off of it.  That’s how the primates do it.  (We’re primates too!)

3.  Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil.  It will stay fresh much longer and not get moldy.

4.  Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef.  It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.

5.  To really make scrambled eggs or omelets rich, add a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them up.

6.  Add garlic immediately to a recipe, if you want a light taste of garlic and add it at the end of the recipe, if you want a stronger taste of garlic.

7.  Reheat Pizza:  Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to medium-low and heat until warm.  This keeps the crust crispy; no soggy microwave pizza.

8.  Easy Deviled Eggs:  Put cooked egg yolks in a zip-lock bag.  Seal, mash till  they are all broken up.  Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly.  Cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg white.  Just throw bag away when finished, for an easy clean up.

9.  Expanding Frosting:  When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes.  You can double it in size.  You can frost more cake or cupcakes with the same amount.  You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.

10.  Reheating Refrigerated Bread:  To warm biscuits, pancakes or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave oven with a cup of water.  The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

When it comes to sauerkraut, most people either love it or hate it.  But this recipe combines sauerkraut with pureed apricots for a taste that even sauerkraut haters will enjoy.  My husband proclaimed it one of the best meals I’ve prepared in a long time.  I teamed it with creamy mashed potatoes loaded with butter!  (We threw cholesterol levels to the wind!)

Apricot, Pork Chop and Sauerkraut Casserole

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup sliced onions

1 lb. sauerkraut

3 jars babyfood apricots

2 teaspoons sugar

4 pork chops

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Saute onion in oil 5 minutes.  Rinse and drain sauerkraut.  Combine in a greased 9″ x 9″ casserole with apricots, sugar and onions.

Brown chops in oil remaining in skillet; arrange over sauerkraut; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1-1/2 hours.  Remove cover for the last 15 minutes.

Serves 4.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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