Celebrate National Macaroni and Cheese Day With Phil, Jim, and Harry.

Did you know that Sunday, July 14th is NATIONAL MACARONI AND CHEESE DAY? I think it’s fitting to have a special day for such an iconic food. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love some form of this dish? Many of us grew up with that orange-staple-in-a-box and survived college eating it. Just about every restaurant has some kind of mac & cheese on its menu. And, I’m sure we all have our favorites.

To celebrate the day, I am giving away a copy of the delightful PB by Robin Newman titled NO PEACOCKS, where peacocks Phil, Jim, and Harry set out to sample the local school’s world famous mac & cheese.

No Peacocks!: A Feathered Tale of Three Mischievous Foodies

To enter for a chance to win, please share what you think is the best macaroni and cheese ingredient ever. The one special thing you add to your recipe that elevates it to new heights. I will put your name in my hat and draw one random entry for the give-away.

Enjoy the day, and may all your macaroni and cheese be DELICIOUS!

2016

Advertisements

Marilyn Ostermiller Presents: Recipes That Stood the Test of Time Part 2.

When my Great Grandma Caroline learned to bake as a child in Denmark during the 1860s, her specialty was Danish Cookies. She’d grab a couple handfuls of sugar, add heaping scoops of lard, an egg and cream it all together with a wooden spoon, before she tossed in a several handfuls of flour, pinches of baking powder, cream of tartar, salt and a few drops of vanilla.

I never met Great Grandma Caroline — she passed away before I was born — but every December, I roll her sweet, rich dough into balls the size of shooter marbles for a Christmas Eve treat.

I love following in her culinary footsteps, something I couldn’t do without my aunt’s foresight.
Aunt Helen sat down with Great Grandma and a set of measuring cups and spoons, pen and paper. When Caroline grabbed just enough lard, Helen asked her put it in a measuring cup. She repeated that with each ingredient to capture the recipe for posterity.

***
Danish Cookies
1 cup granulated sugar    2 cups flour                1 cup butter            1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg                1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla            1/2 tsp. salt    

Cream sugar and butter. Add egg and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients. Chill the dough for about 30 minutes. Roll out the dough into small balls, flatten with a fork and sprinkle with nonpareils. Bake at 350 degrees 10-15 minutes.

recipe-box
Handing down favored family recipes is a time-honored tradition around the world. Some families gather every Sunday night to feast on Nonna’s tomato sauce and meatballs. For other families, a bowl of Mom’s Chicken Noodle Soup is guaranteed to chase away a cold or sore throat. And, in another time-honored tradition, some cooks add a different ingredient or leave out one when someone asks for their recipe. I substitute butter for lard, when I make Great Grandma’s cookies.

Another factor that brought more recipes into our homes over the years was the popularity of packaged foods imprinted with a recipe on the back of the box.

cookbook

“The Back of the Box Gourmet,” written by Michael McLaughlin, is a compendium of dozens of recipes from packaged foods, ranging from “Lipton California Onion Dip” to the “Classic Green Bean Bake,” starring Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup. It’s a recipe I’m quite familiar with because my husband gets nostalgic for it every year around Thanksgiving. I bought that cookbook years ago because it has page after page of favorite foods from my childhood. My all-time favorite is the recipe on the back of Marshmallow Fluff jars for “Never-Fail Fudge.” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1933069.Back_of_the_Box_Gourmet. How sweet it is!

What “Back of the Box” recipes are your favorite?

Marilyn Ostermiller
Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who delights in cooking, baking and sharing recipes.

Sandwiches That Stood the Test of Time, by Marilyn Ostermiller.

Here’s another post in my ongoing series about the various aspects and methods of conducting historical research when we write. This one, from my friend and frequent contributor to this blog, MARILYN OSTERMILLER, has a wonderfully unique twist: it’s about sandwiches of yesteryear.

“The greatest thing since sliced bread” is a saying that doesn’t make much sense these days, when sliced bread is in every supermarket. But, in the 1920s it marked a turning point in the average kitchen when a machine was invented that could slice and wrap bread. It meant children could safely make their own sandwiches. There was no longer any concern they would cut themselves trying to slice a whole loaf of bread with a sharp knife for the newly popular peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

file000626385317

Another classic sandwich introduced in1920s is The Hot Brown, a toasted, open-face turkey sandwich with bacon, tomato and a delicate cheesy cream sauce. In the 1920s, the Brown Hotel  in Louisville, Ky. often drew crowds of more than 1,000 people, who kicked up their heels dancing until dawn, then wandered into the restaurant for something to eat. The chef set out to create something new to tickle their taste buds.

header internal image

Here’s the recipe https://www.brownhotel.com/dining/hot-brown

It remains popular: The Food Network’s show, Throwdown featured the Hot Brown as a food challenge for Bobby Flay. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJben7ZTHh8

The Philadelphia Cheese Steak, made its debut in the 1930s. The way the story goes, an Italian hot dog vendor in South Philly got tired of grilling hot dogs every day, so he cooked up some chopped meat, put it on  an Italian roll, dressed it with onions. In the 1940s, melted cheese was added to change it up.  https://www.patskingofsteaks.com/

file0001058261455

If you want to make it yourself, here’s how: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/philly-steak-sandwiches-recipe-1941027

Lobster Rolls also can be traced to that era. A Milford, Ct. restaurant named Perry’s served the first documented lobster roll in 1929. Despite this, Maine also claims bragging rights to the origin of the  lobster roll.

lobster roll sandwich

New England’s eateries still sell lots of lobster rolls, but their recipes are different. Order one in Maine, and you’re likely to get chunks of lobster meat soaked in melted butter served in a hot dog bun. However, in some parts of New England, lobster rolls are served cold, the chunks of lobster mixed with celery, lemon and mayonnaise. https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/massachusetts/articles/a-brief-history-of-the-lobster-roll/

These classic sandwiches are vastly different, but each has a loyal following passed down from generation to generation.

Next: This is the first of a two-part discussion on Classic Foods. The next installment will feature home made treats. Marilyn Ostermiller

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who delights in cooking, baking and sharing recipes.

Darlene here: I don’t know about you, but a Lobster Roll sure would taste good right about now. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SANDWICH FROM CHILDHOOD?

Almost Spring Banana Muffins.

After the dog days of winter, I am anxious to get outside and participate in the rebirth that is SPRING. Despite the calendar saying it is officially spring on 3-21, we all know it usually comes of its own accord. There are signs already, here in NJ.

spring

But, we all know March is a month where anything can happen. So, while you and your kids await the days when we can go outside with just a jacket on, why not gather them together for an easy baking session? Instead of throwing out those over-ripe bananas, make up a batch of BANANA MUFFINS or BANANA BREAD.Just mash three bananas with a fork as shown below:

muff 1

The follow my well-worn and foolproof recipe. I used chopped walnuts, but you can try almonds also. You can even throw in some mini chocolate morsels.

muff2

The recipe makes 2 loaves or 18 muffins. Serve them up with your favorite beverage and the wait for spring will be a delicious one.

muff3

 

November is Peanut Butter Lovers Month!

I have to admit I was surprised to learn November is Peanut Butter Lover’s month. Pumpkin lovers? Certainly. Cranberry lovers, or even apple lovers? Sure. Who knew peanut butter was something to celebrate this time of year.

In honor of the easy, versatile and kid-friendly food, here is a simple dip that you can proudly serve for the Thanksgiving holiday and beyond. Makes a perfect appetizer to keep kids of all ages from asking “When do we eat?”. It’s easy for kids to make as well.

PEANUT BUTTER DIP:1/4 C creamy peanut butter, 3 oz. low fat cream cheese, 1-2 T. apple or orange juice, 1/2 t. cinnamon, 1/8 to 1/4 C unsweetened applesauce.

1. Combine the PB, cream cheese, juice and cinnamon in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Add applesauce, a little at a time, until it is the right consistency for a dip. Chill before serving with the following:

sliced bananas, carrots, celery sticks, broccoli florets, apple slices, graham cracker sticks, pretzel rods, or any assortment of fruits and veggies you choose.  It’s amazing how many things taste great with peanut butter. 

Feel free to try it with non-traditional dippers such as pickles, pepper slices, sausage pieces or whatever. Refrigerated, it will be good for 2-3 days.  If you have allergies to peanuts, try substituting another butter in the recipe.

peanut-butter

Anyone out there adventurous enough to try a peanut butter and turkey sandwich? Who knows, it may be a new way to enjoy all those leftovers.

Part 2: Flavors of Summer — Seven Ways to Serve Ice Cream by Marilyn Ostermiller

Attention Ice Cream Lovers: Here’s a challenge to make you smile. Enjoy ice cream served a different way every day for a full week.  These seven suggestions demonstrate how easy and enjoyable this challenge can be. Feel free to include your own favorite ways to serve ice cream as well.

Ala Mode: A fancy way of saying, “I’ll have a scoop of ice cream on top of my pie.” A classic combination is warm apple pie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Banana Split: Cut a banana in half lengthwise and lay together in an oblong bowl. Top with three scoops of ice cream. The classic combination is vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, but use your imagination. Spoon one or more syrups over the ice cream. Hot fudge is a good place to start. Garnish with whipped cream and chopped nuts.

banana_split_with_icecream

Brownie Alaska: Start with a pan of brownies cut in 3-inch-square pieces. Cut slices of ice cream the same size. Keep ice cream in the freezer until time to bake in a 350-degree oven. Make a meringue by beating six large egg whites, a dash of salt, and 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar in a mixer, until soft peaks form. Continue to beat while gradually adding 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar, until peaks stand alone, when the beater is lifted out of the bowl. Arrange the brownies on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Place a slice of ice cream on each brownie. Spoon the meringue over each brownie until no brownie or ice cream is showing. Bake until meringue begins to brown, but no longer than five minutes.

Cone: Legend has it the first ice cream cone was created by a fast-thinking waffle maker at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, when the ice cream vendor in the adjacent booth ran out of cups. He quickly rolled one of his waffles into the shape of a cornucopia and handed it to the ice cream vendor, who filled it with ice cream. The idea quickly caught on. Months earlier, an Italian immigrant to the United States was granted a patent for the ice cream cone. Like they say, great minds think alike.

i cream 2B

Root Beer Float: Place 2 scoops of ice cream into a glass. Hold the glass at an angle and slowly pour 3/4 cup root beer over the ice cream. It will fizz, but take it slowly and it won’t overflow.

Sandwich: Start with two cookies, 2-3 inches in diameter. Spread one with a generous scoop of ice cream, Top it with the other. Sugar, chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies are among the popular choices.

Waffles: Toast frozen waffles or bake batter in a waffle maker. When cooled, top with scoops of ice cream, and syrup or fruit preserves.

For a fun picture book about the joys of ice cream check out SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK by Patricia Keeler.  SCOOP, PIN & MAGNET

Marilyn Ostermiller

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.

 

In case you missed Part 1 of this ICE CREAM series, here’s the link:

https://wordpress.com/view/darlenebeckjacobson.wordpress.com

 

Celebrate July With the Flavors of Summer by Marilyn Ostermiller

If you need a reason to indulge in ice cream, here it is: July is National Ice Cream Month. It has been, since 1984, when President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation. Other flavors of summer celebrated this month as well, are baked beans, hot dogs and blueberries.

My favorite ice cream memory is a generous bowl of pistachio gelato my husband and I shared at the ancient town square in Taormina, Sicily, atop a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean, on a summer Sunday. Children played soccer nearby. Families strolled home from church. I savored the crunch of chopped nuts in every bite of that creamy green confection, served in a frosty, stemmed goblet.

dessert-gelato-ice-cream-3631

Ice cream has been enjoyed throughout history:

  • Roman Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar (D. 54-86) is said to have frequently sent runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavored with fruits and juices, according to the International Dairy Foods Association.
  • Over a thousand years later, Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe that closely resembled what we call sorbet.

It wasn’t until the 1800s, though, the invention of insulated ice houses and other commercial equipment made it possible for ice cream to be widely enjoyed around the world.

Vanilla is the popular flavor, according to a survey conducted last year by the International Dairy Foods Association. The next four most popular flavors, were chocolate, cookies ’n cream, mint chocolate chip and chocolate chip cookie dough.

chocolate-close-up-cone-161420

The trend is toward unusual flavor couplings. For example, The Bent Spoon, in Princeton, N.J., specializes in small batch ice cream and sorbets using local and organic ingredients. Ricotta-pistachio, strawberries and elderflower, banana chunk, crème fraîche, school garden mint nib, pink rose, and lavender and mascarpone, were among the 28 flavors chilling in the display case on a recent day. https://www.facebook.com/pg/the-bent-spoon-132592140111950/reviews/?ref=page_internal

There are plenty of family friendly ways to churn a batch of ice cream at home, ranging from hand crank freezers to electric freezers that create ice cream in about 30 minutes.

Here are two books to get you started:

The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book: Old-Fashioned All-American Treats for Your Ice Cream Maker by Robin Donovan and published by Rockridge Press. It features such time-tested flavors as Cookies and Cream, Classic Vanilla, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and Red Velvet. The easy-to-follow recipes are all based on one classic base. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MXY0ANB/ref=rdr_ext_sb_pi_hist_3  

  • The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book: Old-Fashioned All-American Treats for Your Ice Cream Maker    

Marilyn will return later this month with PART 2 of the history of ICE CREAM.

 

Marilyn Ostermiller        Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.