My mother gave me this recipe many years ago. She acquired it after my father retired and they joined an Airstream Club. Potluck dinners were common practice at their Airstream rallies, and, living in Arizona, it soon became a family favorite. Over the years I too have taken it to many a potluck, where it’s always gone over well, and sometimes I’ll fix it at home just because I like it. It’s quick, easy to prepare and delicious.
CHICKEN ENCHILADA CASSEROLE
4 to 6 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped*
1 bag restaurant style tortilla chips
1 small can diced green chilies
1 cup corn
I can black beans
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup chicken broth or water
2 cups cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
Generously coat a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Fill bottom of the pan with broken tortilla chips — about 1/4 inch thick. Add chopped chicken breasts, green chilies, corn and black beans. Blend soups together with chicken broth in a medium sized mixing bowl and pour over top. (If a thinner sauce is desired add more liquid.) Cover top layer with cheese and add bread crumbs, if desired. Bake at 350° for 35 to 45 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted and slightly browned.
Variations: For those who like it hot — use jalapeno or chipotle peppers instead of green chili peppers.
*2 cans chicken – 9.75 oz size may be used instead of fresh chicken
My ex spouse used to bring home rice pudding from the refrigerated section at the supermarket. He said it reminded him of his grandmother’s rice pudding. I never had rice pudding before, but when I tried it, I was reminded of my grandmother’s homemade tapioca pudding. Funny how certain foods can bring back happy childhood memories.
Fast forward a few years. I’m testing some of the recipes for Rosie’s Riveting Recipes, and was eager to try this classic recipe for rice pudding. It was easy to prepare, with ingredients that can be found in most pantries. (Although I’m not a raisin fan, so I omitted them.) It also has a very different texture from the pre-made supermarket rice pudding, which made it a totally different experience. Puddings can have variations, and it’s nice to try something different. Enjoy.
OLD-TIME RICE CUSTARD PUDDING
2 cups cooked rice
½ cup seedless raisins
2 cups scalded milk*
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix rice and raisins. Place in 8-inch baking pan, 3 inches deep. Blend milk into beaten eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla. Pour over rice and raisin mixture. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Place pan in shallow pan of water. Steam bake 1½ hours in moderate oven (325º). Serve warm or chilled, with or without cream.
No doubt Rosie would have loved to have had a crock pot in her day. Unfortunately, they didn’t exist at the time. In fact, I don’t recall my mother buying a crock pot until the early 1970s, and it was quite a novelty at the time. Pop something in, turn it on, go about your business, and by dinnertime, it’s done.
The other day someone posted a photo on Facebook about an easy way to prepare pork chops in the crock pot. I used to love bone in pork chops, but nowadays they are hard to find. My grocer doesn’t carry them, and the leaner, boneless pork chops are simply too dry for my taste, which means I rarely cook them anymore. That said, I thought I’d give this a try, so I added cream to mixture and gave it a shot. The results were surprisingly good.
CREAMY SLOW COOKED PORK CHOPS
6 to 8 pork chops
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 tablespoons half and half or milk
1 package ranch dressing mix
Blend soup and half and half in a small mixing bowl. Set aside. Wash pork chops thoroughly and place half of them in the crock pot. Pour in half of the soup mixture. Stack remaining pork chops on top, and pour in remaining soup mixture. Top with ranch dressing mix. Turn the crock pot on low and cook for 4 to 6 hours. Serve over rice.
I love cooking and baking. I truly do. If I had the time, I’d probably prepare everything from scratch, just like Grandma did. However, we live in different times. In Grandma’s day, men were providers and women were homemakers. Nowadays many women either don’t have a husband to provide for them, or the economic reality is that she has to work outside the home too just to make ends meet. It’s not that we’ve become lazy or slovenly in the kitchen. The fact of the matter is that many of us simply don’t have the time, or the stamina, to come home from a long day’s work and then prepare a meal completely from scratch.
I learned how to cook from my mother. She was a homemaker, but she also had a busy social life with her bridge clubs, volunteering, and so forth. However, TV dinners and fast food were considered a treat as most nights my mother cooked dinner for us. She mostly cooked from scratch, but she also “cheated” a little. She used frozen vegetables, or a can of Campbell’s soup for her sauces, or a packaged scalloped potato mix, but even with all this “cheating,” her meals were always wonderful. My mother also used cake mixes and pudding mixes for her desserts, however her famous German chocolate cake was made from scratch, but it was only baked for special occasions.
I do much the same as my mother did. I too buy frozen vegetables, and I’ll sometimes use canned soups or sauce mixes or the occasional boxed scalloped potato mix. It not only saves time, it also helps prevent spoilage. I simply don’t have the time to go to the grocery store everyday for fresh fruits and veggies.
I do, however, have draw the line somewhere. Hamburger Helper? No no! I had to eat that stuff when I was in college and didn’t have time to cook. Ramen soup is another college staple food I’m totally burned out on, although I have a fantastic recipe for a cabbage salad with ramen soup. That’s the only time I use it anymore.
My point is this–if you have the time to cook everything from scratch that’s terrific, but if you don’t, it’s okay. This isn’t Master Chef. It’s your kitchen and you have a life outside of it.
Here’s another delicious recipe from Rosie’s day that still tastes great today. I tested the recipe with white bread, as it was popular in Rosie’s time, but I’m sure it would taste just as good with whole wheat or multigrain bread, or whatever leftover bread you may happen to have.
CELERY STUFFED SPARERIBS
1 side spareribs (about 1½ lbs)
¼ cup diced salt pork or bacon fat
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
3 cups soft bread cubes
¾ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Fry the salt pork until crisp, then remove the pieces. Cook the onions in the fat for a few minutes, add the crisp salt pork, celery and bread cubes. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the spareribs over the dressing in baking pan, sprinkle the outside with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and rub with flour. Place pan in 350º F oven uncovered and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until ribs are tender. Yield: 4 servings.
Modern adaptation: Sliced bacon can be substituted for salt pork. (Bacon fat is another name for bacon grease.) Chop 4 to 6 slices of bacon and fry in a skillet or frying pan. Add onions and continue preparing the dressing as instructed in the original recipe. To help keep the dressing from getting too dry add ¼ to ½ cup of water or chicken stock. Once the spareribs are placed in the baking dish decrease salt to 1 teaspoon, or, for more zing, use 1 teaspoon of celery salt. Bake as directed in the original recipe.
The other day I came across a couple cans of diced tomatoes I bought by accident as they had diced green chilies in them, and I always by the plain tomatoes.
Just like Rosie, I don’t throw food out. I look at it as a happy accident and a chance to try something new and different. So, after browsing a few online recipes as inspiration, I came up with my own creation, and it’s so good I’ll have to make it again.
QUICK AND EASY TACO SOUP
1 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes with green chilies (14.5 oz), OR
2 cans plain diced tomatoes with one small can diced green chilies
1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 small can tomato sauce
2 cups beef broth or water
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Brown ground beef and onion in a skillet. Drain, and place in small stockpot. Add canned tomatoes, green chilies, corn, black beans and tomato sauce. Add beef broth or water and stir well. Add seasonings. Stir, bring to a boil, turn heat to low, and simmer for approximately ten minutes. Top with broken tortilla chips and cheese, or with a dollop of sour cream and chopped green onions.
Just like in Rosie’s day, home canning can help save money and make food stretch further. Whether it’s food grown in your home garden, or fresh fruits on sale at your local supermarket, home canning can be a lot of fun, as well as a nice family activity.
Canning may seem mysterious or intimidating at first, but there really isn’t that much to it. First, you’ll need to invest in a few basic supplies to get started–a canner, which is a large, over-sized stockpot with a special rack inside, a jar lifter, and a set of masonry jars, all of which can be found at Ace Hardware. You’ll also need some canning pectin, which is available at your local supermarket, and you simply follow the recipes inside the pectin box. What can be a little daunting, especially to a beginner, is how to get started. This is how I do it.
I begin by filling my canner with water, placing the rack inside, and turning the burner on medium-high. (If for some reason your canner does not have a rack, place a folded tea towel on the bottom of the canner before filling it with water.) The canner uses a lot of water, and it may take as long as forty-five minutes to an hour, perhaps longer, before it reaches the boiling point. You’ll need to fill your canner with enough water to cover the tops of your jars by at least one inch. Water gets heavy, so I use a water pitcher to fill mine.
2. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Wash your jars, caps and rings. Place the jars on a cookie sheet in the oven, and drop the caps and rings in a saucepan filled with water. Heat the water until it begins to boil, and then turn the heat down to low.
4. Prepare your fruit as directed by the recipes inside the pectin box. Do not deviate from the recipe. Once you’ve filled your jars wipe away any excess that may have dripped on the top of the jar. Place a cap on the top and make sure the ring secure. Then, using the jar lifter, gently place the jar inside the canner, once the water has begun to boil. Once all the jars are filled and inside the canner, cover it with the lid. Make sure your rack is on the bottom of the canner and never place a jar directly on the bottom of the canner. I leave my cans in the canner for thirty minutes and do not lift the lid during the cooking process.
5. Once you have finished cooking your jars carefully remove them from the canner using the jar lifter. As your jars begin to cool you’ll hear some funny sounds. That means the caps sealing. To test the caps press your finger down on the center. If the cap doesn’t move then it’s sealed. But if the cap does move it means that for some reason it didn’t seal properly. It happens, so simply place that jar in the refrigerator once it’s completely cooled and use the contents promptly.
6. DO NOT try to lift the canner until it has completely cooled. A full canner will be extremely heavy, so you may need to bail out some of the water with a pitcher before lifting.
There are plenty of videos on YouTube that can give also you a crash course in home canning. Your community college or other community centers may also offer canning classes.
If there’s one meal that can leave me in a culinary rut, it’s breakfast. The traditional American breakfast consists of ham, bacon, or sausage, combined with eggs, pancakes, french toast or waffles, with hash browns, toast or muffins on the side. Or biscuits. There’s nothing quite like a piping hot biscuit, fresh out of the oven. The American biscuit, unlike biscuits in England, is a thick, doughy roll that’s perfect with butter and jam, or topped with gravy. However, this classic recipe, from Rosie’s Riveting Recipes, brings an exciting twist to the everyday breakfast biscuit. Please note that your favorite biscuit recipe would also be suitable for this version.
APPLE OR PEACH DUMPLINGS
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup Bisquick
1 to 2 tablespoons water
4 cored or pitted fresh fruit
1 tablespoon jam
Cut shortening into Bisquick. Blend in water. Roll into 12-inch square. Cut into 4 6-inch squares. Place fruit on each square. Fill hollow with jam. Wrap pastry around fruit. Seal well. Bake 20 to 25 minutes in hot oven (450º). Makes 4 servings.
Modern adaptation: If using fresh apples decrease amount of fruit to 1 or 2 apples. If dough is too dry and crumbly add small amounts of water or milk. The biscuit recipe on the side of the Bisquick box can also be used.