Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hearty Vegetable Soup

Sally S. suggested this Hearty Vegetable Soup from the 1976 Flint Junior League Cookbook as a perfect lunch on a blustery September day. She said: "This is a very forgiving recipe. I’ve used different combinations of tomatoes, rice or barley, or neither, chicken broth or water. It’s always good. A very hearty soup."

Hearty Vegetable Soup

1 lb. ground beef or turkey
3-1/2 cups diced tomatoes (can use 1/2 pureed tomatoes)
1/2 cup celery, diced  
1-1/2 cups onion, chopped  
2 cups diced potatoes (I use Simply Potatoes from the dairy case.)
1/3 cup rice or barley
2-1/2 to 3-1/2 tsp. salt (I start with 2-1/2.)
3 cups water or chicken broth
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
10-16 oz frozen peas and corn

  • In a large pot, brown ground beef and drain.
  • In same pot, saute celery and onion.
  • Add browned beef and all other ingredients (except peas and corn).
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook one hour, or more.
  • Just before serving add frozen peas and corn and cook for about five minutes.

Serves 4 – 6

Thursday, September 17, 2009

1970s retro beef and noodle casserole

Sally insisted on this recipe, although I think she was pulling my leg when she said she liked its retro appeal.

Beef and Noodle Casserole

8 oz. package dried noodles
2-1/2 lbs. ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
1 tblsp. chili powder (or to taste)
1 large Valencia onion, chopped (about one cup)
10 oz. can Campbell's condensed tomato soup
1/2 cup Heinze Chili Sauce (or to taste)
1 lb. package Mexican Style Velveeta cheese product, cut in 1/2-inch dice
2-3 tblsp. butter
1 cup breadcrumbs

  • Boil water and cook noodles according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, brown ground beef in large skillet. Season with salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste.
  • Add chopped onion to skillet and sweat onions with beef until onions are transparent.
  • Simmer beef on low heat until the noodles are cooked and drained.
  • Drain noodles and put in very large bowl. Add beef and onions from skillet and stir slightly. Add condensed tomato soup. Stir in Velveeta.
  • Add butter to empty skillet; melt.
  • Stir in breadcrumbs; set aside.
  • Transfer contents of bowl to lightly greased 9 x 12-inch baking pan.
  • Sprinkle breadcrumbs over top of casserole.
  • Bake 60-minutes at 350-degrees, or until bubbly and breadcrumbs are lightly toasted.

Serves 8-10

Cocoa Snowflakes

Alisa is excited to make a guest appearance on the Pencil Box Club with the yummy chocolate cookies she brought to a recent pot-luck picnic.

Cocoa Snowflakes (Penzeys Spices)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
5 tblsp. butter
6 tblsp. cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs, extra large
1 cup finely chopped nuts, optional
1/2 cup powdered sugar. for rolling cookies in

In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a small heavy saucepan, melt butter over low heat, add cocoa powder, blend well with a fork or small wisk until smooth. Remove pan from heat, stir in sugar until combined. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, add vanilla extract, then eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition.  Add flour mixture and nuts if desired, mix well. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, refrigerate until chilled (at least 2 hours).  Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Roll dough into 3/4-inch balls and roll in powdered sugar. Place the sugar-coated balls onto a greased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes at 400-degrees, let cool a minute then remove from pan. Store in an airtight container to maintain the shoft and chewy texture of these cookies. If you'd like a crisper cookie, cook a minute longer. 
Yield:  40-60 cookies

My notes:  When I make this, it doesn't make 40 cookies.  I always double the recipe.  You can easily make this right in the saucepan or bowl you melted the butter in.  You also need way more than 1/2 cup powdered sugar. AJT

Thank you from Rex, from Lili & Acacia, and from LESA

Rex drew a backpack on his thank-you card.

Recently, the Pencil Box Club received a thank you from LESA Backpacks for Kids Committee Chairperson Jean Garratt. Jean said:
The LESA Backpacks for Kids Committee would like to acknowledge and thank you for your support of our school supplies initiative for 2009/10. Your efforts on behalf of children and families in the county will help children begin the school year with the necessary supplies for successful learning. Thanks to your generosity the 2009/10 "Backpacks for Kids" project is once again on its way to being a success.
Inside the envelope were two hand-made, thank-you cards -- one from Lili and Acacia, and one from Rex (above). Rex's thank you included a beautiful drawing of the backpack he carried to school.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mennonite open-faced peach pie

This easy peach pie was the highlight of Robin's fabulous buffet today. She discovered the recipe while traveling in Mennonite country.

Mennonite open-faced peach pie 

7 fresh peaches, cut in half and pitted
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 c water, or peach juice
2 tblsp. butter
2 tblsp. lemon juice
9-inch diameter unbaked pie crust

Combine sugar, butter and flour to make crumbs. Sprinkle half of this mixture in the bottom of an unbaked pie crust. Place peach halves with cut side up in pie shell. Cover with remaining crumb mixture. Add fruit juices or water if needed. Bake at 375-degrees for 40-45 minutes. May be served with whipped cream. Makes 1 9-inch pie.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mary Lee's Retro Lemon-curd Ambrosia Fruit Salad

Mary Lee created this recipe from girlhood memories.

Mary Lee's Retro Lemon-curd Ambrosia Fruit Salad
16 oz. can mandarin oranges
2 ripe kiwi, peeled and cubed
2 cups seedless green grapes, halved
2 cups Howell melon, Honey Rock melon, or cantelope; cubed
1 cup mini-marshmallows
1/3 cup coconut, toasted
12 oz. container of Cool Whip Light
8 oz. jar of lemon curd (available in jam and jelly section of grocery or specialty stores like Harry & David)
Toast coconut spread in sheet pan in 350-degree oven until lightly toasted. Cool. Mix fruit, coconut, and mini-marshmallows in a large bowl. Combine Cool Whip and lemon curd. Toss with fruit. Refrigerate until well chilled.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tomato Tart

Last Monday at the monthly bridge luncheon, Mary Lee served her luscious Tomato Tart with her original toasted coconut-laced Ambrosia Salad. Here's the tart recipe:

Tomato Tart
1 pie crust, baked*
2 large ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 cup Monteray Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup half -n- half cream **
2 tblsp. parsley, chopped

Bake pie shell according to package directions. Sprinkle green onions, olives and Jack cheese in baked pie shell. Top with tomatoes. Whisk together eggs, Cheddar cheese, and half 'n' half. Pour over vegetables. Bake at 375-degrees for 30 minutes. Let stand 30 minutes and sprinkle with parsley.

* I use Pillsbury pie crusts in the red box from the refrigerated section of the grocery store.
** I use Land o' Lakes fat-free half 'n' half.
Note: I have added other herbs: rosemary, basil, thyme, and also used other cheeses. All turned out great. M.Lee