church cookbook

I find most of my recipes online, but every once in a while it's nice to use one that written on a recipe card or from an actual cookbook. Mom was nice and gifted all of us kids with the church cookbook from Eitzen. A couple of the other times I've pulled it out looking for something specific, I was bummed because it didn't have what I was looking for (one time for peanut butter cookies and the other with no-bake cookies.) ... now that I think about it, it's only been when I want to make cookies. I mentioned in my previous post that there was only two nights of planning this week due to travel - Monday was potato pancakes and Sunday was Zesty Tomato Soup - both from the church cookbook. Both awesome.

Zesty Tomato Soup
submitted by A. Doering
2 c. cooked tomatoes
1 med. onion, sliced
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 c. beef broth
1 c. tomato juice
1/2 c. orange juice
1 bay leaf

In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat and saute the onion with garlic and salt until tender. Add tomatoes and simmer 3o minutes. Pour this mixture into a blender and puree (but be careful - see below). Return to pan. Add remaining ingredients and simmer,covered, for 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf and serve.

The recipe recommends serving hot with parmesan cheese or cold with a sprig of parsley or a thin slice of lemon.

My notes:

  • it was very brothy (not sure that's a word...) so I used a little cornstarch and water to thicken it just a bit.

  • I diced the onions instead of slice... not that it makes a difference because as I read the recipe further, you puree it, anyway.

  • I served with grilled cheese because I like dipping it in the soup.

And it was great, so will be making this again as we move into the fall/winter warm food season. The nice thing is that it's still pretty light because it's not cream-based, but will warm you up on the cool days that are promised to come.

p.s. I looked it up. Brothy is an appropriate adjective version of broth. :)

p.p.s. Does anyone know what happens if you eat the bay leaf? I've always been taught that you take it out and never eat it. In my mind, it seems that it might kill me. I'm sure that's not true, but am just curious.



It's been crazy the last few weeks. Work has been busy (surprise!) and so has home. And it's been a lot of cooking for one, as well. A couple of weeks ago, Keith was on his annual fishing trip. A day after he returned, he was gone on a golfing trip and I went to Eitzen for a long weekend to meet my bff's little girl (who, by the way, is adorable), saw Jennifer, Matt, Harlee, Carson, and Reagan, hung out with mom, made a pie for dad, and even found time for a trip to Fred's in New Albin with Russ. Back for a few days and Keith was gone on another fishing trip. He just got back Sunday and now I leave for Baltimore (work) on Wednesday and won't get back until Sunday. Yikes! And in the middle of it, I've been trying to find tickets to go to Florida soon. Here's hoping for a real vacation!!

In the kitchen, it was a short planning week - only for Sunday and Monday - and that's kind of nice... but I'm not sure I'm looking forward to eating out for five days while I'm gone. Tomorrow is packing and probably something leftover or out while I finish packing for my trip.

Tonight, I have to give my cousin, Chelsey, a shout out because tonight we had her potato pancakes for brinner (breakfast for dinner)... and they were awesome, even though I messed them up a little. It's cool. I fixed it. :)

Chelsey's Awesome Potato Pancakes
3 c. grated potatoes
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. baking powder

Mix all ingredients together. I beat the eggs and milk, then added the flour, salt, and baking powder, and last the potatoes. Fry on a hot griddle with plenty of shortening. Chelsey says to eat with tart jelly. I didn't have any of that, so used syrup and that was mighty tasty!

So where did I go wrong? When I shredded the potatoes, there was excess liquid - the potato juice, I guess. The first round was pretty runny, so I tried adding more flour. When that didn't work, I just scooped it out with a measuring cup and drained the excess liquid off. I think next time I'll put some paper towel in a strainer and strain the excess liquid off before I put the potato in the batter.

In the end, though, I ended up with enough good ones for us to eat. And I'll definitely be making these again! We served with some applesauce and ham. Thanks, Chels!!

I have a couple of other things I haven't posted, yet, that I'll put up - hopefully before I head out to B-town.

Oh, and one final shout out for the night - Happy Anniversary to Megs and Matt. I miss you guys!


care to share?

Someone wrote to me and asked about crock-pot recipes with beef or venison and good for a meat-and-potatoes family that isn't always home at the same time. I recommended coke roast and making and freezing chili in portions. Care to share your thoughts?


The last time I sent an email blast out about updates, I asked if there was anything anyone wanted to see me try or write about that I haven't. I didn't get much response to that question, but did hear back from someone that they wanted to see more about what I've been up to, outside of the kitchen. I choose not to write much about work here, so you won't see a lot about that. Besides work, it sometimes seems there isn't much else that I do that is super interesting, but I'll try. :)

So, Laura, this one is for you...

We all have traditions in our family, friends, and/or work lives. Not surprisingly, one that first comes to mind for me is around the holidays - Christmas, specifically. Growing up, we spent each and every Christmas eve the same way. Everyone went to church, watched the kids in the family who were currently in Sunday School participate in the program, and then loaded up some gifts and went to Grandma & Grandpa D's. By everyone, I mean my immediate family, my grandparents, all the aunts and uncles on the D-side, and all of my cousins. The thing about traditions is that they eventually change, so when G&G moved out of the farm house, we started doing our Christmas eve tradition at my parents or an aunt and uncles home, but the people were the same. And then people get married, have children of their own, and other commitments are added, so the people then begin to change. More people, or less, depending on the situation. It's not just the people that have changed. We've gone from full dinner to doing appetizers, changed the way we do gifts, and have even occasionally added little contests - best dish (even with aunt Belva dressed as Rachael Ray) and ugliest Christmas sweater, etc...

And even though the original holders of this tradition - my grandparents - are no longer here to join us, the rest of us still do this. And hopefully will for years to come. It's OK that not everyone can always come each year, but there is still a great turnout each time. And I get to spend my holidays with the people I love.

The other thing about traditions is that they have to start somewhere. A few weeks ago, my friend Emily and I went out to dinner on a Sunday night because there was a need for a girls' night. The next Sunday, there was another need for a girls' night, so we did it again. At this point, we decided that a weekly get-together was in order and we're hoping that this is the beginning of a long-lasting tradition. For the two weeks that followed, Sunday didn't work out due to Labor Day plans and the Packers' game (her issue, not mine - for the record. *wink*) Instead, we simply moved it to Monday. This past Monday, we went to Granite City for dinner because I had a BOGO coupon that would soon be expiring. The bonus for us was that there was a Mug Club party happening that night because they had just tapped their Oktoberfest beer for the season. Being members of the Mug Club, this meant that we got a deal on Oktoberfest beer, free dinner, and a chance to win prizes! And although we didn't win the prizes, this was so much better than what we were expecting.

The photo above is Emily and me - and our Oktoberfest beers. Our newly-founded girls' night tradition has been a lot of fun and something that I missed dearly. When we were in college, Emily and I had a tradition of going to the Pioneer in Eau Claire every Tuesday after our APO meetings. And then we graduated, she moved to Florida and I moved to the Cities. A few years ago, she moved to the Cities, too - and we've now come full-circle back to a modified version of our weekly tradition.

And if you know us, or one of us, and would like to join some Sunday just let us know! It doesn't even have to be a girls' night. Just a friends' night. With food, beer, dessert, and most importantly laughter and support. See you Sunday, Em!

I'd like to hear about your favorite traditions - new or old, current or past. Feel free to share!


it may not be pretty

As I mentioned in my previous post, I did menu planning last week for the first time. The last thing on my menu was made Friday night when my brothers and my dad were all here. Keith busted me out that it was a spinach lasagna (no meat) and the guys were skeptical.

To be honest, I was too... but for different reasons. I've never made lasagna before. And while the contents of the recipe I used seemed right, the directions and layering seemed off. So I did the best I could and put it in the oven - rushing because the guys were on their way and getting close. I didn't fully read the recipe through to the end and missed an important step. When I opened the oven to check on it part way through, the top noodles still looked hard, dry, and were starting to curl up. Keith said I needed more sauce, so we poured more on. Then he mentioned maybe putting tin foil over it would help keep the moisture in. Ding Ding Ding! There it was. Tinfoil, the last step that I completely missed. Duh! So, with the extra sauce, I put tin foil on for the remainder of the baking time and everything turned out fine.

It wasn't the prettiest thing in the world - a little crispy looking on top and the noodles settled down a bit, but were still a little curly on top. But other than that, I thought it tasted great. Dad and brothers liked it, too - but Brian says 'more meat, less spinach' next time.

I used this recipe and adjusted just a tiny bit based on comments - but like I said, the direction for putting it together didn't match up to me. So, here's how I did it.

Spinach Lasagna
1 jar spaghetti sauce (choose your fav flavor)
1 c. cut fresh mushrooms
2 eggs
1 pint ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
15 lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease one 13x9 inch baking dish.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and combine them with the ricotta or cottage cheese, salt, spinach and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese. (exactly like recipe said)

Spread 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce into the baking dish. Place 5 of the uncooked noodles over the sauce. Top noodles with half of the spinach mixture. Sprinkle with half of the shredded cheese. Spread the mushrooms on top of the cheese. Cover lightly with more spaghetti sauce. Add another layer of noodles, then remaining spinach mixture, rest of the mozzarella, and more sauce. Add one more layer of noodles and top with the rest of spaghetti sauce. And finally, cover it with tinfoil. Bake for one hour; after baking, let cool for 1o minutes before cutting/serving.

The final note I have on this is that I ran out of cheese, so I took it out after 50 minutes, removed the tinfoil, and added parmesan on top - then baked for the last 10 minutes. Next time, I'll probably have more mozzarella on hand and top it with more of that. And, depending on who I'm cooking for, may add some seasoned ground turkey. :)

So ends my first week of menu planning and it was pretty successful... and since I haven't gone to the store for this week, yet, it has been a ham sandwich kind of day. I'm cooking for one for the next few days due to the annual fishing trip, so I see cereal and more ham sandwiches in my immediate future.


the plan

I decided last weekend that it would be a good idea to try to do some menu planning for the week. Because I'm not used to planning that far ahead - for dinner, at least - I end up at the store 3-4 times a week sometimes and get just what I want at the time.

From what I understand, menu planning is supposed to help you save money and time - so you don't impulse buy and make less trips to the store. I wasn't exactly sure where to start and my FB friends gave me some good feedback:

  • plan a night to have leftovers
  • get a cheap-o whiteboard to write your menu on
  • look at store fliers for what's on sale that week
  • consider theme nights (i.e. Mexican, Chinese, etc...)
  • use e-mealz.com and have them make your menu for you

I looked at the fliers, but nothing caught my eye in particular, but I did plan a night for leftovers. I'm not savvy enough for themes or whiteboards, yet, either. Baby steps, right? The strategy I went with this time was look up things on the internet that look yummy. That seemed to work out pretty well and I picked 4 things I wanted to make this week - but am realizing I should have accounted for an extra night of leftovers since it's just two of us.

Sunday was Chicken Tequila Fettuccini, which was very good. I followed this recipe for the most part, except the chicken. Instead of doing it how they said, I made it on it's own and mixed it in at the end. I put the soy sauce, some teriyaki, and the chicken in a bowl and rubbed it with the leftover lime - and it was yummy that way. Instead of using heavy cream, I used half-and-half, and added a bit of cornstarch when it was boiling to thicken it. The sauce turned out a little funny because the acidity of the lime juice didn't seem to mesh well with the cream... but it wasn't anything that a little parmesan cheese couldn't cover up. I made the breadsticks, too - Keith said they were a little bland - and I agreed. They were fine, but not super special - my first experience using yeast and making some kind of bread went so-so. But the pasta itself tasted really good - and in my opinion was better the next day reheated.

On Monday I went to dinner with Em - our new weekly tradition. Tuesday was BBQs, as I mentioned in a previous post. Wednesday was leftover BBQs. Thursday was Chinese Chicken Salad. We really liked this, as well, and will likely make it again. I made the dressing using the instructions in the recipe, except I used a little less poppy seeds. For the rest, we just did a make-your-own thing and didn't mix everything together. So it was fresh romaine lettuce, water chestnuts, green onion, almond slices, and chow mein noodles, then topped with the dressing, and finished off with a little breaded chicken. I took a couple of eggs and beat it with 2 tablespoons of Hoisin sauce (a Chinese cooking and dipping sauce), dipped the chicken slices into the egg mixture, and breaded with a mixture of corn flakes with some pepper in it. The chicken went very well with the salad and we were pleased.

The problem now is that I have leftover salad now, but I have one recipe left for the week. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but I need to make it tomorrow because, as of Saturday morning, I'll be on my own for a few days. What to do...

So, I will try, try again. But it must be working because I haven't gone to the grocery store since Sunday!


here fishy, fishy, fishy...

That's how you catch fish, right? The last time I went fishing, it was between my junior and senior year of high school... or between senior year of high school and freshman year of college. Whatever. It was a LONG time ago. Anyway, all I remember is sitting in a boat for hours with my two oldest brothers catching nothing. Then, in a moment of true grace, I got my fishing line stuck in a tree. When Keith was trying to get it unhooked, he said 'Let go!' .... so I did. It turns out he was talking to the tree, not me, and there was my pole, swinging from the tree. They don't invite me to go fishing anymore.

Now, the closest I get to fishing is digging it out of the freezer... and I do pretty well with that. Last week, I caught some nice walleye in there! I haven't made fish much myself, but a colleague of mine was talking about how she liked to make breaded walleye - so why not?

I won't write out the whole recipe because I followed this pretty closely. It was good, but you didn't really taste the honey in the breading itself and while I was a little weirded out about drizzling honey on my fish, I tried it when I didn't taste it in the batter - and it's actually really good! At least I thought so. Try it sometime and let me know what you think. :)


I'm having a war against condiments. I would post a photo, but I'm not feeling well tonight and am too lazy to go upstairs to take a picture of the enemy condiments that currently occupy our refrigerator. It would just frustrate me, anyway.

What I can tell you is that we have at least 2 kinds of hot sauce, 2 bottles of liquid smoke, more than two bottles of salad dressing, mayo, ketchup, regular mustard, brown mustard, spicy mustard, teriyaki, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, enough barbecue sauce to make ribs for 50 people, and more... So the goal lately has been to make foods that use some of them up.

I've been putting Frank's Red Hot on lots of stuff. Tonight I made homemade BBQs (ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, and more Franks.) Last week, we made Walleye and used some mayo to make tarter sauce with cut up refrigerator pickles. On Sunday I made Tequila Lime Fettuccine - the chicken was soaked in soy sauce and teriyaki.

Condiments have a strategy that is hard to compete with, though. You can only use so much each time, so they last forever. I've been working on this for a few weeks and I'm pretty sure that there are more in the fridge now than there were when I started! I swear they are breeding and multiplying when the door closes and it feels like an uphill battle, but I will press on. And eventually, I will win. I have faith.



We sometimes do things we shouldn't. And we know better. We can make excuses, rationalize, and point fingers. But ultimately, it's our fault. So, that being said, I take responsibility for what I forced upon my stomach on Saturday. Why and how you may ask? I went to the State Fair... for 8 hours... enough said. But I had fun doing it!

In case it's not enough, though, I'll share with you our day. First, it was crazy, hella, super busy there - it looked like this in pretty much any direction you look (see below).

The State Fair is mostly about the food. It's kinda about the animals, the concerts, the rides, and the people watching. The food is the most important part, though. Ask anyone. The first thing I ate, which I don't have a picture of, was a piece of lefse with cinnamon and sugar on it - very yummy! By 10:30 a.m. I had my first deep-fried item: the classic corndog.

We moved on to walk through one of the buildings where they sell all the things and do demos - did you know you can buy a box of fish eggs and get live fish in multiple colors to grow? Time for some lemonade.

We started walking toward the barns and I saw an opportunity to be healthy that I couldn't pass up. Deep-fried fruit on a stick is healthy, right? OK, maybe not. See what I meant before about making excuses and rationalizing? It was really good though - fruit (pineapple, grapes, apple, strawberry, cherry) with fruit dip around it, then deep-fried in a funnel cake breading.

We made it to the barns without further delay, although we did see the deep-fried pickle stand and made a mental note to stop back there later. While we were at the barns I ran into my mom's cousin, Jerry, and his daughter, Mary. I think Mary had a sheep in the open-class division. Small world - hundreds of thousands of people, and I see them. :)

In the swine barn, there was the biggest pig I've ever seen being proudly displayed at Minnesota's largest pig weighing in at 1,400 pounds. Unrelated to the giant pig, but overheard in the swine barn from a passerby 'They are really cute... but I sure do like eating them!' Hmm....

We made it through the horses, pigs, sheep, and cows and headed to the Miracle of Birth Center where they have the baby animals. Super cute, but probably more exciting for someone who didn't grow up on a farm.

After that, we headed back to the center area and immediately came upon the all-you-can-drink for-a-dollar milk stand. I had almost three: 1 chocolate, 1 mixed chocolate/white, and almost 1 white. I don't drink milk often, so this was probably overkill. But all-you-can-drink is a challenge, right? (again, excuses)

It just so happens that the all-you-can-drink milk stand is right by the awesome turkey sandwich place that I was introduced to a couple of years ago. Needless to say...

Here, we did take a break and sat down for a while and just walked around. In my defense, it was during this time that I passed up the bacon on a stick, so I did have a little bit of will-power... (rationalizing)

We headed back to the grandstand area (where, by the way, KISS was to be playing that night) and Matt wanted to try to the deep-fried alligator and several of us got corn on the cob. We all tried the alligator (even Harlee! - see photo) and it tastes like chicken. Really. The little pieces tasted like chicken poppers.

We walked around more. And more. And some more. On the way to the other side of the grounds, Kyle got some fresh-cut french fries to share (sorry, no photo) and then we stopped for a bit and got a beer.

And then we walked some more. Did I mention the fairgrounds are enormous? And the crowds were tight? The only thing Harlee wanted at the fair was the homemade ice cream so we stopped while she and Joan got some and ate it. I guess it was 'to die for!' Looked good! I didn't have any though, and I respectfully declined some cotton candy I was offered at this point, as well. I would like to say that it was because I wanted to make wise choices and that ice cream and cotton candy are bad for me... but I must take responsibility that the truth was that I was just holding out for what was yet to come.
Remember earlier when I said we spotted the deep-fried pickles stand? Our mental note did it's job and stuck with us until the mission was accomplished. If you haven't had them before, deep-fried pickles are awesome.

We fought the crowds to get back over by the grandstand area and then began a serious discussion trying to remember where we had seen the deep-fried candy bar stand. It took a little searching, but we found it! Matt and I had a deep-fried snickers, Jen had the reese's, we got a milky way for Carson. We thought they were delicious, but Carson didn't like his - so Kyle got to eat it. Can't waste.

And finally, what is the MN State Fair without the cheese curds? In my opinion, this is the best thing they have there. But because we waited to the end, I was considering leaving without having them. Good thing Jennifer was there to remind me that no one likes a quitter. (pointing fingers)

So we went back into the crowd, one last time, and got them.

We were all exhausted, not to mention full, by the time we left at 6 p.m. And we were all a little jealous of Reagan because she got to take nap, and we didn't.

I was thinking about what I was going to say about this experience on my way home Saturday and even had it all planned out to post all of this when I got home and write something witty at the end like 'Now it you'll all excuse me, I'm going into a food coma.' But in reality, I got home, sat on the couch, skipped the blogging and fell into my food coma by 8:30 p.m. Oops. You know that feeling you get when you were in college and you drank too much? The I'm never drinking again... feeling? I had the I'm never going to the fair, again... feeling. But like with drinking, it's never the last time. So, I'll see you at the fair next year!