Saturday, February 28, 2009

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here's another whole wheat cookie recipe. I promise your kids (and your husband) will love them. :) They are still cookies (so don't eat too many), but at least they have the added nutrition of whole wheat flour.

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (I used 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped walnuts)

1. Heat oven to 375ºF.
2. Mix sugars, butter, vanilla and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt (dough will be stiff). Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft). Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Challah Recipe

This is a repost from back in May of 2008. I thought some of you who are new to 50s Housewife might like this recipe, plus I'm lazy today and can't come up with anything good. :) It's our last Spring like day before another cold front comes through so Mike is firing up the grill and we are going for a walk after supper. We want to enjoy the warmth while we can.

This recipe is for challah, a traditional Jewish bread. It calls for margarine or vegetable shortening to keep it kosher, but you could use butter. It is customary in Jewish homes to begin the three meals eaten during Shabbat with blessings over two loaves of challah. It is a very pretty bread and so much fun to make. This recipe makes one loaf.

1. Stir together 2 cups of flour and 1 Tablespoon yeast in a mixing bowl (or in my case, the bowl of my Kitchenaid) and set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat and stir together 1 1/4 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 3 Tablespoons of margarine, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt just until warm (120 to 130 degrees) and margarine almost melts.

2. Add water mixture and two beaten eggs to dry mixture.

Beat on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, then on high for 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Stir in an additional 2 3/4 to 3 1/4 cups of flour and knead using dough hook. You can, of course, also turn the bread out onto a floured surface and knead by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size (about an hour).

4. Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into thirds. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

5. Shape each third into an 18 inch long rope. Braid ropes and place on lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled (about 30 minutes). Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush top of braided loaf with a beaten egg white.

6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when you tap it. If necessary cover loosely with foil for the last 10 minutes of baking to prevent over browning. Immediately remove bread from baking sheet. Cool on a wire rack.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Everyday Joys

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God
Isaiah 61:10

A puttery day at home is all I needed to rest and refresh my soul.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook - February 23rd Edition

For Today...February 23rd

Outside my window... a few thin white clouds and behind them; gorgeous blue sky. It's going to be so pretty today.

I am thinking...My brother's wedding was so sweet. I'm glad it turned out well. They won't be going on a honeymoon until the fall because my brother had to go back to work today. I called my sister-in-law this morning and asked "How's married life?" She replied "Fantastic!!" Makes me remember how happy I was when Mike and I first married. I need to think about that and act that way more often. :)

I am thankful for...My precious family. I am so blessed.

From the kitchen... Nothing too adventurous today (I'm still tired from the wedding), but I think I may do a little baking.

I am the moment my robe and fuzzy slippers. My wet hair is in a towel (and it's going to dry in the towel and be a mess if I don't get off the computer soon). I can't decide what I want to wear because although it's cold right now it is supposed to really warm up this afternoon.

I am reading..."Out to Canaan" by Jan Karon. I've been re-reading the Mitford books, but I am having to read them out of order. The library never has the next one in the series when I'm ready for it so I am just skipping around.

I am hoping...That I don't get sick. Bobby was so sick last week and I have been feeling sort of run down since after the wedding.

I am creating...Another notecard for the James Challenge. It's coming along much more slowly than I would like, but I figure that as long as I stick with it it doesn't really matter how long it takes.

I am hearing... My washing machine filling up (the actual churning is so quiet I can't hear it unless I'm in the laundry room). Love my washing machine! :)

Around the house... tons of laundry to catch up on. I didn't get any done this weekend. I also need to make my list and buy some groceries today.

One of my favorite things...a quiet Monday after a busy weekend.

A few plans for the rest of the week...More family get-togethers this weekend.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

My matron of honor bouquet. Isn't it pretty?

Read more daybook entries at The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Beef and Cheese Calzones

The Southern Housewife asked for this recipe and of course I'm happy to share. :) I hesitate to call it a recipe, but I'll tell you how I make it.

Your favorite pizza dough recipe, or the refrigerated pizza dough in a tube. It's good too. The amount really depends on the size of your family and how many calzones you want to make.
Sliced roast beef. Use leftover roast if you have some, if not just get some from the deli.
green onions
mushrooms (canned or fresh that you have sauteed)
shredded mozzarella, monterey jack, cheddar, or a combination.
Dijon mustard (for serving)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a cookie sheet. Roll out your pizza crust and cut into calzone size portions. You can make a couple of extra large ones, or smaller individual sizes. It's up to you. Layer beef, onions, mushrooms and cheeses on half the crust to within 1 inch of the edge. Fold dough over filling and seal with a fork. You may want to cut slits in the top to keep the calzones from puffing up too much. Sometimes I do this and sometimes I forget. Bake 20 minutes or so until the crust is golden brown and the filling is hot. Let cool a few minutes and then serve with mustard.

I also make these with ham and cheese and with pizza fillings.

I call the side dish "zu-squash stir fry". All it is is some zucchini, yellow squash, and chopped onions sauteed in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I'm so excited to participate in my very first Menu Plan Monday with I'm an Organizing Junkie. Be sure and head over to see the TONS of menu planners sharing each week.

I generally don't plan things for specific days of the week. I just plan out a week's worth of meals and then chose what I feel like making on any given day.

This week I've only planned 6 suppers. We'll be at my brother's rehearsal dinner on Friday so I don't have to worry about supper that night. Breakfasts are usually repeated some and other than weekends, lunches are either leftovers, school lunches for the kids, or sandwiches.

oatmeal pancakes
pumpkin muffins
banana bread

chili dogs/ oven fries
Chunky tomato soup/ grilled cheese sandwiches

3 Cheese saucy penne/ orange & romaine salad
Brupper (Belgian waffles, bacon, eggs, OJ)
black bean soup/corn muffins
corn chowder/ cheese and garlic biscuits
beef and cheese calzones/ zu-squash stir fry
biscuit pizza bake/green salad

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Cookies

These are great tasting cookies and pretty good for you too as far as cookies go. My family loves them. I made mine without the raisins this time. Some of my crew like raisins in cookies and some don't so I usually do half and half, but this time I was out of raisins.

1/2 cup butter (1/4 pound)
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 lightly beaten egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and salt, beat well.

Stir flour, baking powder, wheat germ, and rolled oats together with a fork. Blend well with other ingredients, adding a tablespoon or more of water if necessary to hold the mixture together.

Place by tablespoonful on greased cookie sheets. Flatten them slightly. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
Makes 24 cookies (I usually double the recipe).

This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks The New Laurel's Kitchen. I want to share a some quotes from the introduction titled "The Work at Hand"

Subtler pressures are just as potent as economic ones. Someone asks you at a party what you "do". You tell them as vivaciously as you can that you run a household, and they simply don't know what to say next. From every quarter the message comes: housework is essentially demeaning, unmanly if you're a man, exploitative if you're a woman or child. (Unless you're running a trendy boulangerie or cafe or catering service. If you can make the car payments off those long-simmered soups and crusty French breads, you're an entrepreneur, and that gets you the blessing and admiration of everyone you meet.) p. 23

Any way you cut it, preparing a balanced and truly appetizing meal with unprocessed foods will take a chunk out of your day. If you're trying for healthful breakfasts and bag lunches too, the plot only thickens.
It's good to clear the air on this point, and recognize that if you choose to live a different kind of life, it will take some doing. Think of yourself, then, as a pioneer. Celebrate the small, solid gains you can make, and don't dwell on the ones you can't make yet. And take heart from knowing that you are not alone. p.26

Any work you do for a selfless purpose, without thought of profit, is actually a form of prayer, which unifies our fragmented energy and attention and calms the mind. In the words of a monk of the seventeenth century, Brother Lawrence: "The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament". p. 28

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cleaning the Fridge

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I cleaned the fridge. I cleaned both the inside and the outside. I always forget about the top of the fridge...out of sight out of mind I guess, but I remembered it this time.

I had report cards, pictures, artwork and reminders of upcoming events on the fridge and I decided to take them down. I think it looks so much neater and cleaner now.

You can see the pretty magnets that I got on my trip to Japan.

I didn't get rid of everything though. I just moved it to our "overflow" fridge in the laundry room. I kind of like it in there. It's like my own personal bulletin board. :)

The basket on top of the fridge holds everyone's lunch boxes when not in use.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Family Date Night

Family Walking On Beach At Dusk, HI by Mark Gibson
Family Walking On Beach

I know it's important to spend time with your spouse and it's a great idea to have a regular date night. Trouble is, sometimes it just doesn't work out that way. When our kids were little a date night for us almost never meant only the two of us. We usually at least had whoever was youngest and still nursing along. We even took Marcia to the symphony with us once. She was so tiny and I just couldn't bear to leave her (she slept through the whole thing). Even now, our weekly "date afternoon" is getting a drink at Sonic and going to the library.

If you can't carve out a night to go out alone with your husband, why not organize a family date night? There are plenty of ways to have a sweet time with your husband even when you bring the kids along. We usually have family dates about once a month and I have to take the time to think about it and plant it. If I don't plan it, it won't happen. Life gets busy, the kids have activities, and the weeks slip away so quickly.

For me, the keys to a successful family date night are:
1) Food:
A fun date for us almost always includes a good meal. Good as in "nothing the kids hate and are going to gripe about". No trying out a new Brussels sprout recipe on date night. :) It helps the date along when everyone is happy with the menu. My husband and kids ALL are happy when I make homemade pizza or pasta and Italian meat sauce.

Make the meal part of the date night fun. Spread a quilt in front of the fire, eat outside on the trampoline, or get out the fine china and damask napkins and eat by candlelight.

You can also have the food reflect the theme of the night. You could have a fiesta night and serve tacos or enchiladas, or a 50s night and serve diner style shakes and hamburgers (play some 50s music to go along with it). The possibilities are endless.

2) Fun:
Games: Games can be a great budget friendly part of date night. Two of our favorites are Spoons and Sardines. They are both great games for all ages and any number of people.

Spoons: Set out one less spoon than the number of players in the middle of the table. One person is the dealer and deals out 4 cards to every player. He then passes cards around the table. Everyone looks through the cards and tries to get 4 of a kind. The first one to do so quietly grabs a spoon. The rest of the group grabs spoons as quickly as possible and the one left without a spoon looses the hand. This can get wild so don't have any cups or glasses on the table while you play. We've learned the hard way. :)

Sardines: There are lots of ways to play this game, but our favorite is to start outside. We turn off all the lights in the house and then "it" goes inside to hide. Count to 50 (or whatever you decide) and then split up and try to find "it". When you do, you hide with him and so does the next person and so on until only one person is left who gets to be "it" next time. One time there were 6 of us squished together and giggling in the shower. It was so much fun! Little ones can hide with an older sibling.

Around town: Get a visitor's guide for your town. We found lots of ideas for free and cheap things to do in our town. We found out about a free Italian landscape exhibit in our visitor's guide that we otherwise wouldn't have known about.

Movies: Rent a new release for $1 at Redbox (or even get it free with you sign up to get free codes every Monday), or check out a movie from the library. It's also lots of fun to get out the home movies. My kids love to see themselves as babies. Or show the kids your wedding video/ pictures and tell them how you met. Our kids love to hear the story of how I spilled my dinner down the front of my sweater on my first date with their dad. :)

3) Keep your ideas organized:
As you come across fun recipes, places to visit or ideas for your date night (family or otherwise) keep them organized. Make a folder, a section in your notebook or use the fun new date night planner at Springpad. Make sure you don't find yourself thinking "now what was that fun idea I was going to use this weekend?" :)

Happy dating!

Related post: Frugal Valentine's Day