Fall Foods Provide Nutritional Meals for Families

Cooler fall temperatures call for foods to warm you up. Here is a recipe that will make your kitchen smell wonderful, taste great, and

Vegetable Soup for a Crowd

Image by lynn.gardner via Flickr

ward off the chill of the season. You may want to add a fresh green salad and bread, muffins, or whole wheat crackers. You will have a quick and easy nutritional meal for your family.

I always enjoy recipes I can put together without having to run to the store for ingredients. This one will have you using what you have on hand and finding it easy for children and others to put together.

Colorful Fall Stew

2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 cup water
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with liquid
6 medium potatoes, unpeeled, cut into small cubes
1 large green pepper, seeded and diced
1 large red pepper, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon mixed Italian herbs
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen

In a large kettle over medium-high heat, add water and chopped onions. Cook until onions are softened. Children can help cut potatoes and peppers into small pieces. Add the vegetables and seasonings, except salt and green peas. Cover and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Taste to see if the stew needs salt or more seasonings. Or, if family members need to cut down on salt, you can eliminate it. At end of cooking period, add green peas and cook until just heated through.

This recipe retains the goodness of the vegetables and is prepared without any fat. Leftover soup can always be reheated easily for an almost instant nutritious meal.

To your health and that of your family,

Lee Jackson

Food and Family Living Advocate

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Pecan Pies Too much Trouble to Make For Thanksgiving? Try These Pecan Bars

Pecan Delight
Image by Sifu Renka via Flickr

If you want pecan pie for Thanksgiving but hate the hassle of making a pie crust, try these Pecan Bars from Amy Houts’ new cookbook, Cooking Around the Country With Kids: USA Regional Recipes and Fun Activities. Yes, you can buy ready prepared pie crust, but here is a recipe the children will enjoy making with you from start to finish.

This recipe features a delicious product, pecans,  from this great land of ours, the USA. We are thankful, especially at this season, for the rich abundance of food available.

In her book, Cooking Around the Country with Kids, Amy Houts tells about the time she went pecan picking with her friend in Memphis, Tennessee. She was surprised at how the pecan trees’ branches covered the whole area. Her friend said that pecan trees are an added bonus to have in one’s yard. “They are great for swings and offer lots of nice shade,” she said.

Here is the recipe for Pecan Bars:

1 ½ cups flour
¾ cup butter, or margarine, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Mix flour, butter, and powdered sugar with spoon or electric mixer. With floured fingers, using quick, light motions press dough into a 9-by-13-2-inch baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, children can help measure and mix filling. In a medium-sized bowl, beat eggs with a fork or wire whisk. Add brown sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and pecans. Pour over hot crust. Return to oven and bake 20 minutes more. Cool; cut into bars.

Makes about 32 bars.

To read more about the cookbook from which this recipe is taken, go to www.imagesunlimitedpub.com. Order your own copy or one for your favorite child.

Lee Jackson

Snaptail Books


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Fresh Peach Cobbler

I promised you I would post my favorite Peach Cobbler. There is nothing like this classic blending of cobbler topping and sweet, fresh peaches for a superbly simple late summer dessert.

You will want to choose ripe yet firm peaches. These hold their shape better while baking. Like most fruit, peaches vary in their juiciness. Sometimes you almost have to stand over the sink to eat them because they are so juicy and the juice runs down your arm, and other times, their rather dry, leathery interior will cry for more juiciness.

For this recipe, you will need about 4-5 good sized peaches. You will need to peel them for the cobbler. If you are cooking with children, this is the part you need to do yourself because it is too dangerous for children to handle.

To peel fresh peaches bring a pot of water to boil. Place peaches in boiling water (enough to cover peaches) for approximately one minute (less if they are really soft). Then immediately plunge them in a bowl full of ice water. After the peaches cool off, this is when children can begin their work in helping you make

Fresh Peach Cobbler

The skins of peaches should slip right off. (If they are too hard you will have to peel them with a pairing knife.) Cut peaches in half and remove pit. Some peaches will have a dark red flesh that surrounds the pit. Take a spoon and scoop this out and discard as it can cause the peaches to have a bitter taste. Slice each half into 4 wedges. Gently toss peaches with 1/2 – 1 cup sugar in a large bowl and let stand for 30 minutes to allow juice to form. Then continue with the following:

1 stick butter
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk

Melt butter in 12 x 7 1/2 x 2 inch baking pan (2 quart) in 325 degrees F oven. While butter is melting, combine rest of ingredients in a medium size bowl and stir to blend. Drop evenly over melted butter; do not stir. Spoon peaches with their juice over the top of batter. Do not stir. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour, or until golden brown and baked throughout.

Most of the peaches will sink to the bottom where they will form a thick, rich sauce. I like to serve this cobbler warm and upside down on a plate with a scoop of ice cream.

You and your family will enjoy it. Easy, too!

Best to you,

Lee Jackson
Helping promote family well-being through knowledge and skills

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4th of July Dessert

New England.

Image via Wikipedia

As much of our country’s early history dates back to the New England states, I wanted to share a recipe from this area taken from Amy Houts’ new book, Cooking Around the Country With Kids: USA Regional Recipes and Fun Activities. Her new book just came back from design and layout and it’s looking fabulous!

I think you will believe this recipe is fabulous, too!

Boston Creme Pie

1 yellow cake mix
1 (3 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding

Chocolate Glaze:
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons hot water,

Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans. Children can help measure, mix, and bake yellow cake according to package directions. Cool.
Mix vanilla pudding according to package directions. Children can spread pudding on one cake, then top with second cake.

For glaze:
Melt butter in a pan’ stir in sugar, cocoa, and vanilla. Add 1 tablespoon water, then one teaspoon at a time until the proper consistency. Spread glaze on top, letting it drip down the sides. Traditionally, the top is glazed, not the sides. Store in refrigerator.

Makes 1 two-layer cake

Enjoy the 4th!

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Health and Nutrition Concerns

Will these tight economic times make people’s waistlines bigger? Is there a correlation between the two?

People on tight budgets sometimes choose take- out or quick-order meals rather than preparing food at home. This may mean they are eating higher calorie foods and even quite possibly eating more food than is necessary since many servings are super-sized.

Some think it is much cheaper and quicker to go out to catch a bite to eat. Then when they do, it is only a matter of “filling up” or eating to be satisfied rather than savoring the food. Eating out may, or may not be cheaper and quicker. It may, however, impact health, and waistlines.

Many families just haven’t learned how to cook a basic meal. if you grew up making food or helping prepare food for the family, this may sound unbelievable, but it is true. That is why I started this blog. I knew that in order to stay healthy, people need to know how to prepare nutritious meals. I was a family and consumer sciences teacher and realized first hand the need for young people to know simple basic skills in the kitchen, such as:

  • How to prepare fruits and vegetables, eggs, and meats.
  • How to boil, bake, roast, fry, broil, saute,  etc.
  • How to plan meals for the whole day.
  • How to shop for food.
  • How to store food properly.
  • How to keep the food preparation area clean.
  • How to organize work and use time management .

Young people really want to know how to do this. Lots of young kids watch the TV cooking shows.

If a family wants to eat healthy, someone is going to have to spend some serious time in the kitchen. Eating fast-food or pre-packaged foods may be contributing to not only an expanded waistline but other health complications as well.

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Celebration Foods


I have just come back from Kansas City where I attended my grandson’s confirmation at Our Lady of Presentation Church. It was a very beautiful and inspiring ceremony with Bishop Finn presiding. Over 80 young people were confirmed in the Catholic faith.

Alongwith ceremonies, there are usually guests. And the guests came bearing food on Sunday. You may know that Kansas City is known for its barbeque beef. We did not have barbeque beef from a restaurant, though. A relative brought his own secret recipe barbeque with its special sauce and it was wonderful. This was probably the most flavorful, mouth-watering barbeque I had ever tasted. It was the epic barbeque experience.

I am trying to cut down or eliminate meat from my diet, but this was food to break rules over. Along with the barbeque we had baked beans, cole slaw, potato chips, assorted relishes, and mixed fruit in season. How much more mid-west summer can a family get-together be? Oh yes, there was key-lime pie for dessert later. It was a memorable day.

My only contribution food-wise, was to bring two loaves of poppyseed bread, which were served for breakfast. This is the recipe I would like to share with you.

Poppyseed Bread

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder (make sure it is no older than 6 months as it may not work if older)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups oil
1 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
1 1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring
3/4 cup poppyseed

Juice from 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon almond flavoring
3/4 teaspoon butter flavoring

In large bowl, mix together dry ingredients except poppyseed. Beat eggs with hand mixer in separate bowl. Stir in milk, oil, and flavorings.

Make a well in dry ingredients and pour in the liguid. Beat until well blended and free from lumps. Stir in poppyseed.

Pour into 3 medium pans, 7 1/2 x 3 1/2-inch, or two large, greased and floured loaf pans. Bake in oven for 50-60 minutes, depending on size of pan. Tops will crack.

To make glaze, mix together all ingredients but do not cook. Let baked breads rest about 5 minutes, then poke holes in breads with fork or toothpick and pour glaze over breads in pans. Let cool 15 minutes and remove from pans to cool.


Lee  Jackson

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Kids in the Kitchen

I have been involved in a very exciting publishing project. Amy Houts, one of our authors, has a new children’s book coming out this summer and I am really looking forward to seeing the finished product.

This new cookbook, “Cooking Around the Country With Kids: USA Regional Recipes and Fun Activities” makes cooking with kids come alive! It has an American heritage flavor that helps children experience our country’s vast cultural diversity through food.

Children learn about regional food differences by preparing authentic recipes from various parts of our country. Amy has woven together fun activities along with a little food history and geography of each region showing where our food comes from.

Now I want to share just a bit of my excitement over this new book by sending you a FRe e Recipe Sampler from Amy’s new book.

If you want to be on the cutting edge of discovering this treasure trove of regional recipes, sign up below for her FRe e Recipe Sampler. You will be glad you did because it has one complete chapter from the book. This is the first sneak peak at what she has written to get kids excited about cooking across America.

Click here on SnaptailBooks to get the Fre e Recipe Sampler activated.

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From Kitchen to Classroom to Book Writing

Greetings to all!

Hi! I’m Lee Jackson jumping in here after Chef Crombie left. I hope I don’t disappoint! He has some big shoes that I want to fill but it won’t be easy.

I just wanted to tell you a little of my background. I was a family and consumer sciences (home economics) teacher in the middle school and high school for over 20 years. I taught subjects such as foods and nutrition, clothing and design, child development, housing and environment – all subjects that still interest me and ones I continue to find fulfilling.

Way back before I started teaching, I enjoyed recipe clipping, trying new dishes, and in general, trying to find myself in the kitchen. This is stuff, I see now, I’m still trying to do and still like to do.

Somewhere along the way, growing apples, eating apples, finding recipes for apples, and anything “apple” really appealed to me. So much so that I wrote my first cookbook, “From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers“, which is one of our most popular books.

One good thing leads to another, and I asked orchards and apple cider houses to send me their best recipes and a little information about their apple business. This resulted in another cookbook: “Apples, Apples Everywhere – Favorite Recipes From America’s Orchards”.

There was a textbook sprinkled in amongst teaching and some of this. It is “Careers in Focus: Family and Consumer Sciences. High schools, Junior colleges, and, I understand, some colleges use this in their curriculums. I took a year’s leave of absence to do this, but by the end of the year I had a good start on an outline. It was a long work in progress, but now, I’m very proud of it.

This blogging is rather new to me, but all media is changing so I figured I needed to keep up with the times.

I have some exciting news about another new children’s cookbook that is coming off the press very soon. But I will leave that for another time. Enough about me, I want to hear from you and about you and about other stuff that we all like to think about – food!

I hope you will come back…

Best to you,

Lee Jackson    flatstan19

(my young friend and I)          

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Summertime Flavors

White hot chocolate.
Image via Wikipedia

What tastes best to you at this time of year: hot soup or cold salad? hot cocoa or cold lemonade? hot chili or ice cream?

Our tastes change with the seasons. The weather makes a big impact on what we think tastes good. When the weather turns warm or hot, we are more apt to reach for cold drinks and cold foods. Likewise, when it gets cooler in the fall, our thoughts turn to soups and hot meals.

Children and adults are often more thirsty than hungrey in the summertime. It is at times like these that vegetables served with a dip and cheese cubes, some chilled fruit in season, and a cold drink taste extra good.

Here is a refreshing cold drink for these warmer days. Plus, it uses strawberries which are now in season.

Strawberry Slush

1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons sugar (optional)

Children can rinse and hull strawberries. Cut large ones in half and place in a container. Cover and freeze until firm.

Place all ingredients in blender. Blend for about 10 seconds. Pour into a glass and drink.

Makes 2-4 servings

This recipe is taken from Amy Houts’ cookbook, Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids: Hoiday and Seasonal Food and Fun. You can buy your own copy of this cookbook at Amazon. Check it out!

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Making Cupcakes Using Your Baking Skills

OK, let’s practice some of your good baking skills by making something sweet today. These cupcakes are so light and fluffy you can see why they are called Fairy cakes in Britain! Cupcakes are great for taking to a friend’s house for tea, taking to your class bake sale, making for birthday parties or just baking for fun on the weekend.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can easily mix it all up in the food processor, so it is really quick to make. So it’s perfect for those times when you remember a school bake sale only just before bedtime the day before.

You can have fun with the frosting on these too. If there is some food coloring in the pantry, try experimenting with colors … you’ll find you don’t need very many drops of red color to get bright Barbie pink. Make one bowl of white frosting and one of pink and get creative with two tone patterns. If you don’t have any food coloring in the house you can add a tablespoon of cocoa to the powdered sugar to make chocolate frosting.

Light and Fluffy Cupcake Recipe

1 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
½ cup / one stick soft butter
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Collect together these things: the food processor, 12 cup muffin tray, paper muffin cases, measuring cups.

Put all the ingredients except the milk into the food processor and blitz it.

Add 2 tablespoon of the milk and blitz again. It should be smooth and drop easily off a spoon when you tip it. If it is still too thick, add the last spoon of milk.

Put a paper muffin case in each cup of the muffin tin.

Use a dessert spoon to dollop the mixture into each of the cases.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes. Check after 15 minutes – they should be a light golden brown when cooked and if you gently touch the top of one it should be springy and not leave a dent in it.

Cool them on a rack.

When they are cool it is time to play with the frosting. The simplest frosting is just powdered sugar mixed with a little water. For this amount of cakes use 2 cups of powdered sugar and add 1 tablespoon of water at a time – you’ll be surprised how little water you need to make it into a thick but smooth paste. Add coloring a few drops at a time and mix well to see what color you’ve got to.

Put about one teaspoon of icing onto each cupcake, let it drizzle down the sides and then add sprinkles or make letters with silver balls.

If your Mom has a piping bag for frosting, ask her to let you experiment with it on your cupcakes. With the smallest nozzle fitted you can try drawing simple shapes and patterns with a contrasting color frosting, for totally cool personalized cupcakes!