Chili and Cornbread to Warm Body and Soul

Nothing satisfies the soul and stomach any better on bitter cold January days than a big pot of chili served with piping hot

cornbread from scratch

Image by steve loya via Flickr

cornbread. The next best is to invite someone to share it with you.

Here is the recipe for my favorite Corn Bread. Try this recipe out on your family the next time you have chili. Maybe today? Your kids will enjoy making it, too.

Favorite Corn Bread

3/4 cup yellow corn meal
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease an 8 or 9 inch pan or a 12 cup muffin tin. Measure dry ingredients into medium bowl.

Make a well in center and add milk, beaten egg, vegetable oil and Cheddar cheese. Mix only until all flour is moistened.

Pour into prepared pan or muffin tins. Bake 20-25 minutes for the larger pan and 15-18 minutes for the muffins.

These are best served piping hot with butter or perhaps with honey.

I hope you stay warm today.

Best to you,

Lee Jackson
Food and Family Living
http://www.ImagesUnlimitedPub.com

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Baking with Kids – Fun Cookie Recipe

Candy Cane Cookies

Image by janielianne via Flickr

Cooking with kids can be fun and create memories for years to come. Remember when the kids kept snatching cookie dough from the refrigerator? You finally had to put a toothpick in the dough with a note that said to not even think about eating it.

Here is a cookie recipe that will be tempting, either in the dough form (which they shouldn’t eat) and in the baked form (which will be hard to resist).

This recipe lists red food coloring as an ingredient. You may want to avoid using artificial food coloring by using natural products. You can  purée or juice a beet to get a very effective red dye. Mix a drop of this juice into the dough to make it pink or add a little more for red. Just keep your fingers protected unless you want red fingers for the next few days. You can also use a little pomegranate juice.

This cookie recipe comes from the childrens cookbook, Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids – Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun by Amy Houts.

Holiday Candy Cane Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
1/4 crushed peppermint candy
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Children can help measure butter, shortening, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, almond extract, and crack egg into large mixing bowl. Children can mix with large wooden spoon or adult can beat with electric mixer until well mixed.

Note: there is no baking powder in this recipe.
Stir in flour and salt. Divide dough in half. Add red food coloring (or alternative)  to one half of dough. Pinch off about a teaspoon of red dough. Children can shape into about a 4-inch rope by rolling back and forth on lightly floured board or cloth. Repeat with plain dough. Set side-by-side and twist together. Place on ungreased baking sheet, curving one end down to form handle of cane.

Repeat process, placing candy canes about 2-inches apart on baking sheet. Bake for 9 minutes, until very light brown. Meanwhile, mix peppermint candy and sugar. Sprinkle on cookies right when they come out of the oven. Then remove to cooling rack.

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies

Happy baking!

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Crock Pot Roast Beef & French Dip


With the busy holidays upon us, oven space may be at a premium. That is another good reason to use a crock pot. But best of all, I like to use the crock pot for meals that you can begin and forget.

Here is a wonderful recipe made by my good friend, author, and chef, Amy Houts. We had this for lunch recently when her mother from New York was visiting. She served it with relishes and chips and had apple cake for dessert –  another one of my favorites!

You can find this in Amy’s new cookbook, Cooking Around the Country with Kids – USA Regional Recipes and Fun Activities on p. 206.

French Dip for Roast Beef Sandwiches

3 pounds beef chuck or arm roast
2 cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bay leaf
Dash pepper

12 hard rolls

Place roast in a crock pot. Children can help measure and add water, soy sauce, and spiceds to crock pot. Cook 5-6 hours on low heat setting or 3 hours on highs. Remove bay leaf from pot. Slice or shred beef and cool in refrigerator. Remove fat that has hardened on the surface of the dip. Heat again over stove or back in crock until hot. Place on hard rolls. Pour broth into individual serving dishes, about 1/4 cup per person. Dip sandwich into broth and enjoy!

Serves 10-12

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
http://www.imagesunlimitedpub.com

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Apples at Their Peak of Flavor and Freshness

The crisp Fall air brings with it the wonderful smell and taste of fresh picked apples.

Here are some tips for picking and storing apples:

  • Twist or turn the apple from the branch. If you pull it, the buds next to it will break off and not bear fruit next year.
  • Don’t rely on redness as a guide to flavor.  Apples come in all shades of reds, yellows and greens. Choose clear colored apples. Often those with an intense green undercast or undertone are not completely ripe. Those with a dull yellowish-green undercast may be too ripe.
  • Choose apples that are free from bruises, blemishes and skin breaks. They should be firm with no soft spots or bruises.
  • When apples are thumped lightly with the knuckle, they should sound hollow, but not dull. Their smell should be flowery and aromatic.
  • For crisp, juicy apples, store in their plastic bag in the crisper part of the refrigerator, at 30 to 32 degrees. The freezing point of apples, which is damaging to the fruit, is about 28 or 29 degrees. Wash just before using, as their protective coating helps keep them from becoming dehydrated and bruised.

Apples are best when at their freshest. Orchards and roadside stands are overflowing with their best products of the season.  This is the ideal time to  visit apple orchards, stands, and produce centers, and savor the delectable fruits of the harvest.

I hope you enjoy this recipe for cookies, from my apple cookbook, From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers:

Apple Cookies

2 1/4 cups flour
l teaspoon baking powder
l teaspoon baking soda
l/2 teaspoon salt
l/4  teaspoon cinnamon
l/4  teaspoon nutmeg
l/2 cup (l  stick) butter or margarine
l cup brown sugar
l egg
l/4 cup milk
2 cups apples, peeled and grated
l/2 cup chopped nuts

Sift dry ingredients. Cream butter and brown sugar. Add egg. Stir in dry ingredients with milk, apples, and nuts. Mix well. Drop by teaspoon on greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees F. for 10-12 minutes. Glaze cookies with the following while still warm:

l  cup confectioners’ sugar
l tablespoon soft butter or margarine
l-2 tablespoons milk
l/2 teaspoon vanilla

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies

Enjoy visiting apple orchards and savoring the fruit of their bounty!

Best to you,

Lee Jackson
Apple cookbook author: From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers,
Apples, Apples Everywhere – Favorite Recipes From America’s Orchards

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Enjoy the 4th of July with a Refreshing Treat Kids Can Make

US Flag

Image by jnn1776 via Flickr

Here is a page from Amy Houts’s childrens cookbook: Cooking Around the Calendar With Kids: Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun. For this and many other food and family fun ideas buy this cookbook and enjoy cooking with kids throughout the year.You can find this cookbook by Amy and other cookbooks at  Images Unlimited Publishing website: http://www.imagesunlimitedpub.com.

Amy writes: “Families all across America gather on July fourth to celebrate freedom. Bands march and drums beat. It’s a time for picnics and fireworks. For an Independence Day celebration, plan to serve a refreshing frozen treat. This will help you and your child cool down and supply extra water the body needs in hot weather.

Here is her “right-for-summer” treat:

Ruby Fruit Cups

Try this sugar-free, frozen treat this Fourth of July

1 quart fresh strawberries or
1 (16-oz) package individually frozen strawberries
1 fresh pineapple or
1 (20 oz.) can unsweetened, crushed pineapple
2 bananas
1 lemon
1 (6-oz.) can frozen, unsweetened
orange juice concentrate
1 cup cranapple juice
1 cup water

First, children can help prepare fruit. Rinse, stem and place
strawberries in a large bowl. For frozen strawberries, do not
thaw.

If you are using fresh pineapple, adults need to slice off
tough, outer skin and crown. Then cut the pineapple in half,
lengthwise. Remove the core and discard. Dice pineapple into
1/2 inch cubes. For canned pineapple, add to the bowl; do not
drain. Children can peel and slice the bananas. Add to the
bowl.

Half the lemon. Stick a fork in one half of the lemon, and
hold it over a separate, smaller bowl. Move the fork up and
down while squeezing the lemon to release the juice or use a
juice squeezer. Repeat this method with the other half of the
lemon. Remove the seeds from the lemon juice, and add to
the larger bowl of fruit.

Children can help add the orange juice concentrate, cranapple
juice, and water to the fruit bowl.

Ladle into 4-oz dessert cups or paper/plastic cups. Place
on a cookie sheet and freeze overnight. Let thaw about
1/2 to 1 hour, depending on room temperature, before
eating so the consistency will be like a slush.

Yield: 12 fruit cups

Enjoy this refreshing treat and have a
Happy 4th of July week-end!

Best to you,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Images Unlimited Publishing

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Easter Recipes –Coloring Easter Eggs Using Natural Dyes

Coloring of eggs for Eastern

Image via Wikipedia

Kids can enjoy coloring eggs this Easter using natural dyes that are readily available in the kitchen. The eggs can be colored either after they have been hard-cooked or while they are being cooked, or “boiled”, as some say. Some of the colors will surprise you!

For coloring eggs after they have been hard-cooked, prepare the following dyes like this:

In a pan, add about 1 quart water (more or less) with 2 tablespoons white vinegar. Add any of the following for the colors selected; bring to a boil, then lower heat and let simmer for 30 minutes or more. Strain dye into bowl. Lower eggs into cooled dye using a serrated spoon. Leave eggs in dye until desired color is reached, from a few minutes to as long as overnight in the refrigerator. Pat dry and let air-dry on a wire rack.

Pink:  4-5 beets, cut up or mashed or use canned beets.
Orange:  yellow onions skins (use very little water); 10 carrots.
Red: red onion skins (use very little water); pureed red tomatoes (use less water).
Green:  spinach, large bunch fresh, or frozen.
Greenish yellow:  yellow Delicious apple peels.
Brown: make a pot of strong coffee and use instead of water; black walnut shells.
Yellow: carrot tops; celery seed; green tea.
Blue:  red cabbage leaves.

For coloring eggs as you “boil” them: place eggs in a single layer in a pan and cover with water. Add the natural dye listed below, bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer, and cook for 30 minutes. If the eggs are not colored as intensely as you would like in 30 minutes, lift out eggs and cool them in cold water, then refrigerate. Meanwhile, after colored water dye cools, strain through a coffee filter or strainer, (depending on what has been cooked). After the water dye and eggs have cooled, return eggs to dye and leave them in refrigerator until the desired color is reached. Some of the colors may not be as intense as those shown in this picture.

Pink: beets; cranberry juice; red grape juice.
Orange: onions, same as above; carrots, same as above; paprika; chili powder.
Red: red onion skins, same as above; raspberries, fresh, thawed or frozen.
Green:  spinach, as above.
Brown:  strong coffee, as above; black tea; instant coffee; cocoa powder.
Yellow: ground turmeric; ground cumin.
Blue: red cabbage leaves, as above; purple grape juice.
Lavender: hibiscus tea; beet solution.

Some of these suggestions would be good for naturally dying cake frosting, too. For example, blueberries and raspberries make white frosting a pale blue and red. Mashed avocado can be used for a mint green color.

Kids love to experiment. Give them a few suggestions and watch their creativity soar.

For other activities with foods, get our free report by signing up on this page. See the sign-up box to the right? Sign up and you will have instant access to this free report on more kid and food activities.

Be healthy,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Food writer, author
http://healthykidseatingtips.com

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Apple Recipes by the Hundreds

Various apples

Image via Wikipedia

Whether you have a bushel or a peck or only a pound, you will find over a hundred ways to use apples in this apple cookbook, From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers. Others have said: “Good to the Core“. The Mountain Airy News. “I purchased this book while in Georgia as a Thank You gift for a neighbor who took care of our plants while we were away. I should have purchased two, as it was hard for me to give it away after have read it, almost cover to cover. Where can I buy another?”  E.C., California.

You can get your autographed copy now when you order at http://www.ImagesUnlimitedPub.com.

Lee Jackson,CFCS
Author of From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers
Apples, Apples Everywhere – Favorite Recipes From America’s Orchards

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Vegetable Salad You and Your Kids Will Enjoy Making and Eating

Romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. longifolia).

Image via Wikipedia

The importance of vegetables in our diets has been spotlighted in my previous post. Today I want to give you a recipe using vegetables in a crisp and delicious way. This salad is a wonderful lunch-time or anytime meal or meal-addition. It is a recipe from Amy Houts’s children’s cookbook, Cooking Around the Calendar With Kids – Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun, p. 11. You and your children will enjoy making and eating this salad.

Garden Salad

1 head Romaine lettuce, torn in small pieces
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 red pepper, cut in strips
1 small bunch broccoli, cut up

1 package Ramen noodles
1 cup English walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons butter

Dressing
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Prepare lettuce, onions, pepper, and broccoli. Children can mix all vegetables in a bowl. Place in refrigerator.

Children can slightly crush Ramen noodles by placing them in a plastic bag and lightly rolling over them with a rolling pin. Saute English walnuts in butter. Add noodles. Set aside.

In jar, place dressing ingredients and shake well to dissolve.

Drizzle dressing over lettuce and vegetable mixture just before serving. Gently mix. Then add the walnut-noodle mix. Serve.

Makes 4-6 servings

You will find this and other recipes for children in Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids – Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun.  Make cooking with kids a priority at your house – your children will thank you, especially when they are in college or out on their own.  Go here for more book information:  http://ImagesUnlimitePub.com

Time well spent – cooking with children,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
To get you started, sign up for the Free Report at the right

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Soup for a Cold, Snowy Day

Vegetable beef barley soup

Image via Wikipedia

Soup makes a good hearty meal, or an addition to a meal, in most any season. When the wind is blowing and the snow is falling, as it is today, I like to make soup and enjoy its comfort and warmth.

Here is a soup recipe from Amy Houts’ cookbook for children, Cooking Around the Country With Kids: USA Regional Recipes and Fun Activities. In here, Amy features recipes from different regions of the USA, including Alaska and Hawaii. Children can really engage in the history of the United States by learning more about each region through the food grown there and then preparing the food.

This recipe, Beef-Barley Soup, comes from the Mountain States region. Amy writes in the book: “The Mountain States grow barley, a wonderful addition to vegetable soup.” Other recipes in this section include Sour Dough Bread (with the  Starter recipe), French dip for Roast Beef Sandwiches, Lamb Kabobs, Baked Potato Bar, Fruit Cobbler, and many others. You will recognize these foods as being popular in the USA Mountain States of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming because of the type of food grown there.

Here is the soup recipe – it will warm you up on this cold winter day, no matter you live.

Beef-Barley Soup

1 pound lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
6 cups water
1 cup medium barley
1 (16 oz.) chopped tomatoes, with juice
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a large (4-quart) pot, cook ground beef over medium heat; drain grease. Add onion, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

Children can measure and add water and barley, parsley, salt and pepper to pot, under adult supervision. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn down heat to low, cover and simmer about an hour.

Serves 6-8

For more information about this book and other books for children, see: http://www.imagesunlimitedpub.com.

Thanks and enjoy the soup!

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Family and Consumer Life Specialist

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