On the table tonight
washing millions of dishes daily
On the table tonight

Grandma Lonie's Noodles

Fact One: I'm not actually related to Grandma Lonie.
Fact Two: Her recipe for home made noodles makes me wish I were.

If you've ever had home made noodles you know just how delicious they are.  If you've ever made them, you know that they can be a bit of work.  If you've ever served them to two picky kids who have turned down about ten meals in a row, then ate up these noodles with both ferver and joy - you'll be happy to make them.

This recipe comes from Lonie (obviously) who is Martin and Sophie's Great-Great Grandma on the Nelson side.  The recipe comes to me via Mary who was taught to make it by Aunt Rita who learned how to make it from her mother, Lonie.  In the Nelson family, these noodles are famous and no one passes up a chance to eat them. 

The process to make the noodles can be a bit lengthy, but it can be done in stages if that seems easier (and to me, it does).  The thickness of the noodles varies a bit, usually by how good the noodle maker is at using the pasta roller.  Rita and Mary's noodles are thin, like spaghetti (noodle experts); my noodles are thick like large worms (not a noodle expert).  Regardless of your noodle rolling proficiency, they are delicious and will disappear quickly.

Print it: Grandma Lonie's Noodles

Slow Cooker Non-dairy Cheese & Potato Soup

Despite the unseasonably warm weather we've been having, I've made the turn to fall foods.  The crock pot has taken up residence on my kitchen countertop, and I've lined up a pile of new slow cooker recipes to try.  Yesterday I tried the first one on the list, and it was a huge hit.  What's not to like about a cheesy, bacon-laden soup?

This soup recipe is super easy and needs at least 6 hours to cook, but can stay in the crockpot for at least 11 hours and still taste delicious.  This recipe requires two steps, and you'll need at least 30 minutes between the last step and the time you eat. 

This recipe is the non-dairy version, but it would be very easy to substitute dairy ingredients for the non-dairy counterparts. 

Kid Review
Martin:
"This is the best soup I've ever had."
Sophie: She ate the whole bowl, which is the unspoken version of Martin's review.

Print it: Slow Cooker Cheese and Potato Soup

Grilled Romaine with Herbed Ranch Dressing

All summer long I've been hearing about grilled romaine.  It sounded like an interesting idea, but I really couldn't imagine it - the taste, how it would hold up on the grill, why I would bother.  This week I decided to give it a shot and I can confirm the following:
1. It was tasty
2. It was easy
3. It might be my new favorite thing

I made up a recipe using ingredients I had on hand and it was really delicious.  If making dressing seems like too much work for you, just use whatever bottled dressing you like and it will save you a few steps.  I've made this particular dressing twice - once as the non-dairy version listed here, and once with dairy ingredients - with good results both times.

The actually grilling part was very easy.  The lettuce held together just fine, and took only a few short minutes on each side.  I placed it over direct heat after I moved the meat to the cooler side of the grill to finish.  All of the food was done at the same time, and while I chopped up the lettuce the meat had a few moments to rest. 

I'd highly recommend giving it a try - I know I'll definitely make it again.

Print it: Grilled Romaine with Herbed Ranch Dressing

Green bean bundles

A few weeks ago I made side dishes for the evening meal at the Mitchell Quarterly Meeting.  I wanted something that I could make ahead of time, but that would also be something kind of special.  Usually the vegetable sides I make are of the boring but nutritious variety - steam vegetable, add a little butter, salt and pepper to taste, then serve.  Its functional, but kind of boring, especially for  a special dinner.  I found a recipe for green bundles wrapped in bacon.  Definitely not as healthy, but also not as boring.

They were delicious and easy to make.  I would recommend not using an inexpensive bacon because it doesn't hold together as well when wrapping the bundles.  I think that this recipe would probably be great on other vegetables as well - I'm going to try it with asparagus this week.  I'll definitely make these again, they were very flavorful and look impressive.  If you're not a huge fan of pepper, I'd recommend cutting back the amount in the recipe - it was super peppery.

Print it: Green Bean Bundles (from Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen)

Lamb Stew

A few weeks ago Dad and Sophie went out to a lamb farm to check out the babies and to select a lamb that would later become the key ingredient in this stew.  I thought that it might be kind of disturbing, but Sophie reported that it was not gross and that lamb guts are cool.  That did not mean that she would eat this meal, but to be honest I think she found the presence of mushrooms and onions more revolting than the lamb.

Even though you couldn't get a review on this meal from either of the kids (but I bet they'd report that I make a mighty fine PB&J), I thought it was tasty.  It was easy to make, and had great flavor.  I'd definitely make this again.  I'd also make the same recipe using beef instead of lamb; I bet that would be delicious as well.

Print it: Lamb Stew

Bourbon Slush

Now that warm weather is upon us (well not today, but you know, in general), I've been spending a lot of time daydreaming about reading on the deck, lounging at the lake, and sitting around talking smart with my family and friends (they are notoriously a smart-talkin' bunch).  And since we're rounding into May, it feels like I can safely announce the Official Drink of Summer without causing a retaliation snowstorm. 

The Summer Drink for 2010: The Bourbon Slush. 
It is fruity, not overly sweet, and cool (both in temperature and on the hip scale).

The Origin.
Awhile ago my cousin Jenine and I were chatting on the phone and she was telling me about this delicious slush that she remembered the mother of her childhood friend keeping stored up in their freezer.  Having recently secured the recipe, she promised to send it my way.  For Jenine this slush brings back memories of a really hip mom (one who not only had shag carpet but actually made her kids rake it) and lazy days of childhood summers. 

I'm thrilled that Jenine and Judy were willing to share the recipe because it is DELICIOUS and REFRESHING.  I'd highly recommend that you whip up a batch and keep it in your freezer for the summer or at least one good weekend with your girlfriends.

Print it: Bourbon Slush

Turkey and Bean Soup with Bacon

Sometimes making a meal that tastes good out of the things I actually have on hand seems like a difficult task.  Especially when I slack off and don't really plan ahead.  That's how its been for awhile around here, and last week I found that I had a lot of food in the house, but nothing that made a very good sounding meal.  Deciding that I couldn't bear to go to the store AGAIN, I decided to force myself to make something with the ingredients on hand.

Using odds and ends of things I'd made and frozen earlier in the month + a few items from the cupboard, I came up with a recipe for soup that was both delicious and filling.  I'll definitely make it again, especially since I usually have most of these items in the house.

Print it: Turkey and Bean Soup with Bacon

Non-dairy Rhubarb Bread

As the end of the winter weather approaches (she says with quiet optimism), I like to clean out the freezer to make sure that I use up all of the food I froze during last year's growing season.  As usual, I still have a large amount of rhubarb left in the freezer.  So this week, Sophie and I decided to make some rhubarb bread. 

There is no better source for recipes like rhubarb bread than church or nursing home cookbooks.  The recipe we started with was from the Luther Memorial Memorable Meals cookbook (published 1982), contributed by Mrs. Opal Kunz.  To modify the recipe, we substituted non-dairy butter for shortening, baked it in bread pans, and divided the recipe.  It tasted a bit bland at first, but it improved each day.

Print it: Non-dairy Rhubarb Bread

Coconut Layer Cake

At our house when its your birthday, you can choose any dessert you'd like to celebrate your special day.  This year Sophie's pick was for a coconut layer cake.  I'm pretty sure that she's never had one, but no amount of coercion could get her to choose any sort of cupcake in its place.  So, I found a recipe that looked promising and set out to make it.  I made some changes to the recipe to make it non-dairy and also to remedy issues I had along the way.  It was touch-and-go for awhile, but in the end, we had cake:


A few tips:
1. Be very careful when transferring the cake into the refrigerator to set, its very slick and top heavy and could topple over VERY EASILY.
2. Use buttercream frosting instead of the traditional seven minute frosting because if things go south and it starts to separate WHILE ON THE CAKE, you'll end up with avalanches of cake sliding off the plate just moments before the party.
3. Check with the child first to be sure they actually LIKE the taste of coconut instead of just the IDEA of coconut.  In the words of Martin - "I don't like the TASTE of coconut, but I DO like coconut bras."  Seriously, who doesn't.



In the end, the cake really was good.  I liked the buttercream frosting combined with the coconut, and it helped to hold the whole thing together.  The frosting and coconut mixture makes a very forgiving cover for a cake, which is good if you're a layer cake novice like me.  And in case you have any cake leftover, it only improves with time.


Print it: Coconut Layer Cake

Non-Dairy Bette Le Mae

If you've ever stayed at Ruttger's Bay Lake Lodge you may have been lucky enough to have the dessert Bette Le Mae.  And if you ever spent a summer working at Ruttger's, you can probably attribute at least a few pounds of weight gain to having Bette Le Mae on a regular basis.  A delicious, dense, flourless chocolate cake - Bette is tough to pass up. 

Last week when I was looking for a recipe to make for Sophie's birthday, nothing sounded appealing and I realized that what I really wanted was Bette Le Mae.  I pulled out my Ruttger's cookbook and found the recipe, and decided that I'd give making a non-dairy version of this delicious dessert a try. 



The result was delicious, although not quite as solid and dense as the dairy version.  These differences might have also been because the recipe I used was slightly different the version I found on Ruttger's website.  I'm not sure which recipe is currently in use at Ruttger's, but I'll definitely try it again.  I'm pretty sure that I'll have plenty of taste-testing volunteers.


Print it: Non-Dairy Bette Le Mae
Print it: Ruttger's Original Bette Le Mae