Category: Recipes

Potatoes from the farm to your freezer

I spent my growing up years in an area where row crops were every bit as prevalent as wheat and hay fields. 
One of the most popular row crops (next to onions) happens to be potatoes. Some of our neighbors grew acres and acres of them. One year, as a fundraising project for our senior class, we went and picked up all the “cull” potatoes from their field and sold them for something like a $1 per bag by going door to door in our small town. That was not the most fun any 17-year-old ever had.

I also just happened to grow up in the same valley where one famous potato company started and continues today, known as Ore-Ida.

If you’ve ever stood in the freezer section at your grocery store and looked at the selection of frozen tater tots, French fries, or hash browns, you’ve probably seen Ore-Ida potatoes with their trademark red bag and distinctive logo.

Ore-Ida is  currently produced and distributed by the H.J. Heinz Company, now part of Kraft Heinz. The primary production facility for Ore-Ida is located in the community of Ontario, Oregon, that sits right on the border between Oregon and Idaho. The company once employed more than 1,000 people, but today has around 600 employees. 

Back in the mid-1930s, entrepreneurs and brothers F. Nephi Grigg and Golden Grigg began growing sweet corn in eastern Oregon. Their first company, Grigg Brothers, became one of the largest distributors of sweet corn in the United States. 

Then, in 1949, with financial backing from their brother-in-law Otis Williams, the brothers rented a frozen food plant located in Ontario, at the border with Idaho, and converted it into a potato-processing facility. The three men purchased the facility in the early 1950s. In 1952, Oregon Frozen Foods Company was founded. 

Initially, the company produced and sold frozen corn and French fries. In 1953, Tater Tots were invented and patented by Ore-Ida. The tots were made from seasoned slivers of potatoes left over from the French fry production. (Oddly enough, Tater Tots are the brand’s most popular product). 

The company went on to build a second plant in Burley, Idaho, where many of their potato fields were located. The company’s name became a syllabic abbreviation of the two states where they ran the companies and the original logo consisted of outlines of Oregon and Idaho with Ore-Ida superimposed in italicized letters. 

Ore-Ida was acquired by the H.J. Heinz Company in 1965. Ore-Ida’s headquarters were located in Boise, Idaho, until 1999 when a new frozen foods division was created at Heinz’s corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

So the next time you reach into the freeze for a bag of fries or tots, you’ll know a little history of the company of you bought the Ore-Ida brand. 

Of course, I have to share a recipe with you today. This one includes Tater Tots and is easy to whip together for a fast meal. 

Tater Tot Casserole

2 pounds of ground beef

1 package of Ore-Ida Tater Tots

1 cup shredded colby-jack cheese (or cheddar)

1 tsp. onion flakes (or grated fresh onion)

2 cans of cream of mushroom soup

1 teaspoon seasoning (like Mrs. Dash)

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place tater tots into a 9 x 13 casserole pan (I lightly spray mine with non-stick spray first) and set in the oven while you brown the ground beef. I add the onion flakes, seasoning and salt and pepper to the ground beef. When the hamburger is browned, mix it with the cream of mushroom soup and spoon over the top of the tater tots. Layer on cheese and cover with foil. Bake for about 20 minutes or until soup is hot and bubbly. Remove foil and bake for a few more minutes until cheese is a melted layer of luscious gooey-ness. Remove from oven and serve. I like to sprinkle the top of my casserole with a bit of chopped fresh parsley. Captain Cavedweller likes his straight up “without any of that weird green stuff on there.”
Enjoy!

What is your favorite fast or easy dinner recipe using potatoes?

 

Stop in later to see if your name has been added to the list of semi-finalists! 

Only those who comment have a chance to win!

Red, White and Blue…Pie!

When I was younger and visited my Grandma Walter on their northeastern Iowa farm, I always pestered her to teach me something. She taught me how to crochet and to make cream puffs. (I posted her recipe in a blog a while ago.) She had a huge garden where she grew potatoes, green beans, onions and I can’t remember what all else. While I didn’t inherit her green thumb despite her tutoring, I did receive her love of growing things. Every spring I plant a garden. This year I have high hopes since I’ve gone to a raised garden to keep out the dogs and the bunnies!

My grandmother also taught me to sew. I refined that skill during home economics. It’s amazing how much money I’ve saved because I could sew bed skirts, window treatments and my children’s Halloween costumes. Okay, the later didn’t really save money as much as it allowed me to create exactly what they wanted. 🙂

It saddens me when I hear how children say their middle and high school schedules are too full to take Skills for Living, what my generation knew as home ec. My youngest took the class in middle school, and we both enjoyed it. Together we shopped for the fleece material for the pajama bottoms he sewed. He made a lot of the recipes he learned in the class for us. But the best part was, he became an expert pie maker!

Every Fourth of July he and I make what we call a Red, White and Blue pie. The basic recipe is the strawberry pie recipe from his Skills for Living class. The blue comes from adding blueberries and the white is whipped cream. Today just in time for the Fourth, I’m sharing the recipe with you.

STRAWBERRY PIE

Crust:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

Measure 1C flour and 1/2 tsp of salt into a bowl. Cut in 1/3 C shortening with a pastry blender until shortening particles are pea sized. Add 4 TBS of ice water. Form into a ball. Roll from the center out until crust is pan sized. Fold edges under and crimp. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly brown.

 

Filling:

Clean 1-2 pints of strawberries.

In a saucepan, mix 1 1/2 C sugar (I use slightly less) with 1/3 C cornstarch. Add 1 1/2 C water and mix completely. Cook mixture, stirring constantly until it’s thick and translucent.

Filling when finished cooking before adding jello.

Remove from heat and add 3 oz. package of strawberry jello. Put some of cooled glaze in bottom of the crust. Add berries and continue covering them with glaze. Refrigerate and serve topped with whipped cream.

NOTE:  Add blueberries and make you have a Red, White and Blue Pie!

Giveaway:  Leave a comment sharing your favorite Fourth of July food or tradition to be entered in the drawing for a signed copy of A Cure For the Vet and a cactus T-shirt from my favorite shop, Rustic Ranch

 

 

Updated: July 2, 2019 — 3:06 pm

From ‘Digester’ to the Modern-Day Instant Pot!

In my new contemporary western romance, A COWBOY AND A PROMISE, my hero’s (Beau) mother brings dinner out to the family’s ghost town resort under construction by my heroine (Ava). She made the meal, appropriately titled “Cowboy Stew” (recipe below) in a slow cooker, often called a Crockpot.

Now, I’d warrant all of you reading this has had a Crockpot at one time in your life. Maybe you still do. While the first slow cooker was actually invented in 1940, most of us will remember the Rival Crockpot, which was officially introduced in 1971 and quickly grew to be the RAGE. I got married in 1975, and you didn’t have a bridal shower (or a wedding) until you got a Rival Crockpot as a gift. We all did. In fact, I still have mine. A 4-

Rival Crockpot

quart, bright orange model. Works great to this day.

As my family grew, I graduated to a 6-quart model which I love, too. However, as most things go, even what’s been wildly popular will eventually lose its stardom for something new and exciting.

Enter the Instant Pot.

Instant Pot

Oh, be still my heart. I got mine for Christmas. A complete surprise cooked up (pardon the pun) by my daughters who thought I needed one. I admit to being quite intimidated by it at first. In fact, I didn’t even take it out of the box for a week. But once I did, and I accomplished the first step—boiling water, by the way—I was hooked.

Believe it or not, pressure cookers have been around a very long time.  The first one was

Digester

invented by a French physicist in 1679, which he called the digester. Yuck. But the name stuck for a couple of centuries, until it was replaced with ‘pressure cooker’ by the military who needed a way to make fast meals in camps, as well as other inventors working to improve canning and beef extract production.  

As the years rolled by, the pressure cooker became smaller, more user friendly, and made cooking and preserving food more economical. I’m quite sure no one expected the primitive digester to evolve into an Instant Pot that can make everything from hard-boiled eggs to yogurt so fun and easy!

Here’s the recipe for my Cowboy Stew. I’ve had this recipe for ages, and I’ve made it in my Rival Crockpot too many times to count. Beau and Ava enjoyed it, too!

Cowboy Stew

COWBOY STEW

4 medium potatoes, sliced

4 large carrots, sliced

1 green pepper, cut in strips

3 stalks celery, sliced

1 medium onion, sliced in rings

Arrange in Crockpot in layers, beginning with the potatoes. Salt and pepper each layer.

Pour 1 8 oz can of tomato sauce on top.

Mix well in a bowl:

1 lb. hamburger

½ cup milk

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 slice bread, crumbled

Salt and pepper to taste

Press into circle over vegetables to form a cover. Pour another can of tomato sauce on top.  Sprinkle with ½ tsp. oregano leaves.

Cook until meat and vegetables are done. May be baked in 350 degree oven for one hour, or until vegetables are tender.

***** ***** ***** *****

Here’s my favorite Instant Pot recipe. Since IP recipes tend to be lengthy from the steps needed, I won’t type it all out, but I’ll give you the link from the food blog, Rachel Cooks. It’s DELICIOUS!

Instant Pot Pasta with Sausage, Spinach and Tomatoes

Have you ever used a pressure cooker? Do you have a slow cooker? Is it a RIVAL? How about an Instant Pot? Do you love it? Hate it? Share recipes!

Join in, and you’ll be eligible to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

 

Buy A COWBOY AND A PROMISE on Amazon!

 

The Simplest Gift

I think my love of the west and cowboys grew out of my love for my grandparents’ Iowa farm. I loved that place. I did a lot of thinking and dreaming there. I also learned a lot, mainly from my grandmother. The older I get the more I appreciate what I learned from her. She was an incredibly strong woman, but she possessed a quiet strength. She worked the farm and raised six children. I always thought her the most patient person I knew. She never had a cross word for anyone, and I can count on one hand the number of times she lost her temper.

My grandmother always made time for me and my endless questions. Such a simple gift, her time and attention, and yet, such an important one. And I had a lot of questions about whatever she was doing, whether it be gardening, crocheting, sewing or cooking. All of which I still enjoy doing today.

One day when she was making one of my two favorite treats, cream puffs–the other was her angle food cake with fresh strawberries–I asked questions and wrote down what she told me. Because of my curiosity, I have my grandmother’s recipe for cream puffs.

For a holiday gift, I’m sharing her recipe with you.

Cream Puffs

½ C butter

½ tsp salt

1 C water

1 C sifted flour

4 eggs

Combine butter, salt and water in heavy saucepan. Bring to a hard boil. Remove from heat and dump in flour all at once. Stir until the mixture sticks together in a ball and leaves the edges of the pan. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Cool 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating until egg has been completely absorbed. Drop by tablespoonful, heaping in the middle, on greased baking sheet with 3 inches between each. Bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake 10 minutes. Do not open oven during baking or cream puffs could 

collapse.

Filling:

Mix together—

4 Tablespoons sugar

2 egg yolks (beaten)

1 heaping Tablespoon cornstarch

2 Tablespoons milk

 

In a heavy saucepan, bring 1 C milk to a boil. Stir in above mixture. Reduce heat and cook until thick. When cool combine with ½ pint whipped heavy cream.

Leave a comment about your favorite holiday treat and be entered to win a cup and plate set along with a copy of Family Ties. May 2019 be filled with many wonders and joys for you and your family, and remember, of all the gifts you can give, the best is your time and attention. 

Updated: January 2, 2019 — 8:59 am

A CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR EVERYONE…and a new sweet treat!!!!!

Last time I posted I included a family favorite candy recipe, Connealy Crunch

Today it’s homemade Baby Ruth Bars. Only c’mon these are WAY BETTER than the ones in the store.

And last time I posted about my novella collection, brilliantly named

Three Christmas Novellas

Today it’s 

Time to get your free CHRISTMAS PRESENT

Cowboy Christmas is FREE-FREE-FREE-FREE-FREE

Click on the ereader of your choice, Kindle on Amazon and Nook from Barnes and Noble. It’s free on all ereaders in fact. Ho, Ho, Ho!!!

Get ready for a fun and suspenseful Christmastime romance. Trouble follows singer Annette Talbot to Wyoming—and rancher Elijah Walker finds himself directly in its path. Though still wounded by the betrayal of his ex-fiancée, Elijah finds himself attracted to the secretive singer. When it appears Annie is a threat to his mother’s life, Elijah must decide if Annie’s deep faith and love of God is genuine or if it’s all just a ruse. He decides to trust her—until he discovers she’s a wanted woman. As Christmas draws near, will Elijah respond to God’s gentle persuasion to find the truth before he loses Annie forever?

And here’s your sweet treat for today. These are so delicious, so fast, so no-fail. 

You’ll be the most popular elf on any shelf!

Baby Ruth Bars

½ C. white sugar

½ C. brown sugar

1 C. white syrup

Mix together in sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Boil one minute. Add:

1 C. peanut butter

Mix thoroughly. Pour over:

6 C. cornflakes

1 C. peanuts

Press into 9 x 13 pan.

Frosting:

1 C. chocolate chips

1 C. butterscotch chips

Melt in microwave. 1 ½ minutes, then stir. 1 minute then stir. Should be enough.

Spread over cornflake mixture.

HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

SEE YOU IN THE

NEW YEAR!!!

MARY CONNEALY!

 

Updated: December 19, 2018 — 8:34 pm

Family Reunion and a Recipe

 

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Today is Columbus Day.  About 4 years ago I wrote a post celebrating the day with lots of fun facts and trivia – you can view it by clicking HERE. So, instead of a repeat, I thought I’d talk about something else.

This past weekend was my hubby’s family’s annual reunion. It’s something we always look forward to. It’s an opportunity for him and all of his siblings and cousins and everyone’s extended families to come together and get reacquainted. Those we’ve lost since the last gathering are remembered and additions through birth, adoption or marriage are joyfully welcomed.

We usually gather mid-morning and visit, look at photos and family memorabilia folks have brought with them, update a large family tree chart and just generally enjoy each others company. Then we have a group meal provided potluck-style by the attendees. 
After lunch several of us drive out to visit hubby’s old home place, evoking memories for the adults and nurturing an appreciation of their roots for the younger generation.

All in all, Saturday was a wonderfully lovely day.

Now for the recipe I promised you. I love to experiment with new ideas and combinations of flavors when I cook. For the reunion this year however, I was hampered by the fact that not only did I wait until a few days before to think about what I was going to cook, but doctor’s orders still have me restricted from driving so I had to make do with what was already in the house. The following recipe and accompanying notes will probably give you some insights into how my mind works.  Keep in mind that I developed this on the fly and rarely measure so many of the quantities listed are approximate.

 

Oh, and also keep in mind that I was cooking for a large group gathering (we usually run around 40+ people) – this should be scaled back for smaller groups.

 

Winnie’s Chicken And Sausage Potluck Pasta 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound sausage, diced (I used a skinless smoked sausage because that’s what I had on hand, but I think it would be great with andouille)
  • Shredded Turkey (I used leftovers of a roasted turkey, pulled from the carcass and frozen in a 1 quart container in it’s own broth)
  • Dehydrated  seasonings (again using what I had in the pantry, you can substitute fresh) as follows:
    2 tblsp chives
    2 tblsp minced onion
    1 tsp celery flakes
    ½ tsp garlic
  • 3 boxes Pasta Roni (angel hair with herbs)
  • 1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies
    I put them in the food processor and give it a couple of quick pulses because I don’t like big chunks, but this step is totally optional.
    Also, I like spicy so if I was cooking this just for me I would have used a full can. But since I was cooking this for a mixed crowd, I just used about ½ the can
  • 1 can of small English peas, drained
  • Black Pepper to taste

Note, most of the ingredients already contain salt so you should taste the finished product before adding more

Directions

  • Brown sausage in a large skillet.
  • Add dehydrated seasonings along with turkey (with broth). Continue to cook together until liquid has reduced.
  • Remove meat from pan and set aside. 
  • In the same pan, cook pasta according to package directions, except at the point when the pasta and sauce are added to the liquid, also add rotel.
  • Once pasta is cooked, add meat, peas and pepper and continue to cook on low heat for ten minutes, stirring frequently and adding liquid as needed.

There you go. Not the most complex or elegant of dishes, but believe it or not, I had several folks come up after the meal and ask for my recipe 🙂

 

So what about you? Does your family schedule reunions or get togethers? And have you invented any dishes you’d like to share the recipes for?

Updated: October 7, 2018 — 11:39 pm

My Favorite Time of the Year

By Phyliss Miranda

Between the great autumn fever blogs our Fillies did last week and the weather turning cooler, making the leaves turn to beautiful hues of fall, I can’t help but think about some of the things I like to do in the autumn.

I don’t go out as much this time of the year, so I love to bake and read.  As I’ve said before, and those who have read any of my Kasota Springs contemporary western romances know, I also include a recipe in each book.  It’s always one of my family favorites; and, two of my characters, Lola Ruth and Granny Johnson, use it in the book.  Of interest, Lola Ruth got her name from my mother, Ruth, and my mother-in-law, Lola; while Granny Johnson got her name from well … my own beloved Granny Johnson.  My Granny Johnson’s Chocolate Cake receipt and the history behind it’s five generations is in The Troubled Texan, which is the first of the Kasota Springs books.

Sylvie’s story, which I’m writing now, has a twist and I’ll be using more recipes.  Just gotta wait to read the book to see what twist I give to recipes and characters. But, I’ll give you all a hint. They all come from readers and school teachers.

With cold nights and cool days, I love to read and drink something hot in the evening, so I thought I’d share with you a great recipe. It’ll definitely be in the book. You can prepare this Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix for yourself or it’d be a great holiday gift.  It’s easy and quick to fix.

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix      

2 cups Confectioners Sugar

1 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

2 cups Powdered Milk or to cut calories use Instant Nonfat Dry Milk

Instructions: In a large bowl, sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa. Stir in the powdered milk and whisk well. 

You can add miniature marshmallows to the mixture if you’d like.  Drop in a few chocolate chips to make it even more rich. When ready to use, mix ½ cup hot water with ½ cup cocoa mix, stir and enjoy. 

If you have small kids or just want something special for yourself, make Red Velvet Hot Chocolate, by adding red gel food coloring; and dip the rim of your favorite cup in sprinkles. Use gel instead of regular food coloring, since it’ll give the drink a darker red look.  I can see this being a really fun treat during the Christmas season.

 

So what is your favorite drink during cold weather?

To one reader who leaves a comment today, I will give you an eBook copy of Out of a Texas Night.  

Updated: October 1, 2018 — 5:25 pm