I don’t know about you, but October has been a busy month for me. It has been a good busy (packing for Florida), but as a retired person I try to avoid over committing my “precious” time. I did that for over fifty-some years and would just like to take one day at a time.
Unfortunately that is not that way life presents itself in the fast-paced world of today. So instead I have resolved to set aside every other day to avoid this problem. I guess that is a reasonable compromise.
I, like many of you, have a whole bookshelf filled with cookbooks. Every time I go to get one to use, I am reminded that there are too many to choose from. Each time I buy one, I tell myself it will be the last one I buy.
That’s like telling a carpenter he doesn’t need anymore tools!
For me, I rely most often on the recipes in my recipe file. First of all I prefer recipes from my file since I know that I have tested them and can rely on the final results when making them the next time. If I try something new and I really like it, I place it on a card and add it to my file.
That way, I know that everything in my file is good. I also don’t have to remember which cookbook I found it in and which section of that book I can find it again.
There is nothing more frustrating to me than getting myself all set to make a favorite recipe and then not being able to find it. Many times I even pass it on to someone else so that if I ever lose it, I can call them … of course I just have to remember who I gave it to.
My goal is to get all of my favorite and best dishes and desserts into my very own cookbook online and then if I have enough requests I would venture into publishing it. Unfortunately, that’s a lot of risk of money when they just may set on a shelf, never selling. Oh well, all of us should have a goal and that would be mine.
I guess, in order to accomplish this, I would have to do this project on “every other day” for the rest of my life — if life ever slows down!
This Christmas (we celebrate it early since we are in Florida during the holidays) I gave my grandson’s girlfriend her own recipe file and filled it with some of my favorite recipes. She loved it and is anxious to add recipes to it.
Here is a suggestion I have for those of you who need to revamp your recipe file or start a new one of your own. Use 4x-inch line file cards to place your recipes or magazine clippings on. (Use the blank side of your card to attach your clipping to, using a glue stick. This prevents wet spots on your clipping cause by wet glue.)
You can use the opposite side to write down comments or memos to yourself about this recipe. You can purchase a file to hold this sized card at any office supply or department store.
Now here are some of my “recipe box” favorites and I encourage you to try them and add them to your box for later use. Good Luck.
POPPY SEED MUFFINS
These muffins are so easy to make and are light enough to be served as cup cakes. By just a few ingredients along with instant pudding and a cake mix.
1 large yellow cake mix
½ cup oil
1 small instant coconut pudding*
1 cup hot water
¼ cup poppy seeds
In large mixing bowl, beat 3 eggs until fluffy. Add cake mix, oil, pudding, water and seeds. Beat for 3 minutes with a mixer on high. Baked in large sized muffin tins, lined with paper liners, sprayed with non-stick spray (or greased muffin tins). Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve warm. NOTE: Bake muffins on middle rack of oven to prevent burning of their bottoms.
*For a lemon flavor, use an instant lemon pudding mix.
MEXICAN STUFFED SHELLS
A unique adaptation of a traditional Italian dish. The southwestern flavor is a great change and wonderful for a “One-Dish Meal”.
24 large pasta shells, cooked and drained
2 pounds ground beef
2 jars of Picante sauce, plus 1 jar water
1 – 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 – 4 oz. can green chilies (drained)
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cans French Fried onion rings
3 cup Colby-Jack cheese, grated
In large pot, boil pasta shells in “salted” water according to the package directions. Drain, and rinse briefly with cold water, drain again and return to cooking pot. Set aside to cool. Brown ground beef in dutch oven, drain off excess grease and then mash into small pieces.* Return beef to dutch oven to cool slightly. In medium bowl, combine Picante sauce, water, tomato sauce and cumin. Measure out 1 cup of this sauce and stir 1 cup cheese and 1 can onion rings into ground beef. Pour ½ of the remaining sauce mixture on bottom of a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish (spray with non-stick spray first). With a teaspoon, fill each pasta shell with beef mixture. Arrange shells over sauce mixture, then pour remaining sauce over the shell. Cover dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with remaining cheese and then onion rings. Bake, UNCOVERED, for 5 minutes longer until onions have browned lightly and cheese is bubbly. Cool 10 – 15 minutes before serving.
* An easy way to crumble browned beef is to use a potato masher or pastry blender. Just work it through the beef breaking into small pieces.
The last recipe is one of my favorites and is one of the quickest recipes I have in my file. You will find these are not only easy but are cheaper to make than the store bought ones.
JIFFY PERKY PICKLES
1 quart whole sour or dill pickles*
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate (frozen)**
Remove pickles from the jar and slice them long ways into 4 spears each or crosswise into ½ inch slices and then return them to the jar. Combine juice, sugar and flavoring (if desired) and heat until sugar is dissolved. Pour hot juice mixture over pickles Seal and refrigerate for one week. Shake jar every day while processing to distribute juice. Can be kept in refrigerator for 1 month.
* Do NOT use Kosher or garlic pickles! They will give pickles an odd taste. Many stores do not carry regular dill pickles so sour will work fine.
** You can use both cinnamon and orange flavoring if you desire.
Well, I think I have given you some new recipes for your file. If you don’t already have one, then start preparing one now! — Sheryl
Sheryl Sollars, a Clinton County native, is an accomplished cook and homemaker. She contributes her column Welcome to My Kitchen out of her love of homemaking and of sharing her thoughts with her readers. If you have cooking questions or a recipe you want to share, please contact Sheryl at firstname.lastname@example.org.