Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

Some Like it Hot

That would be me. Hot and spicy, the hotter and spicier, the better. I likely burned my taste buds out years ago.

This week I was having a curry craving, so I made one of my quick go-to meals. I thought I’d share, as it’s so easy and so quick.

I got this recipe in some form about 35 years ago from a British lady that made it every Friday night for a business. However, her recipe called for a few different ingredients, the main difference being that I use chicken, and she used…goat. Yep. While I do like a good goat curry, I’ve haven’t, and likely won’t, make it.

So, ingredients for this yummy dish as I make it are as follows:

1 – 2 TBSP Coconut oil (you can use your favorite oil that tolerates med high heat)
2 medium or 3 small chicken breasts
1 small white onion
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/4 cup of water if you need more liquid
Curry as needed
Red pepper flakes taste
Salt to taste

Yes, that’s all.

I cut the chicken into small bites, and combine in a bowl with the onion. I pour a little curry powder in and mix around until it looks like it’s all coated. I keep adding curry powder until it turns this beautiful warm golden color.  And oh, the fragrance.

I then sprinkle red pepper flakes to taste (a lot for me), and a little salt.  Put the oil into a skillet and add the chicken mixture, and heat over medium high heat for about 3 to 5 minutes. This sears the meat and keep the juices in.  Just stir occasionally until chicken begins to brown a bit.  Isn’t that beautiful?

chicken curry 1At this point add the diced tomatoes, put a cover on the skillet and go eat a couple of bon bons and sip a mint julep on the back porch for about 15 minutes.  Or in my case, go take the laundry out of the dryer from yesterday, fold and put away and put a new load in and your supper is ready.

completed chicken currySomewhere in there, like before I start the chicken, I make a pot of brown rice and serve the curry chicken over it.

I can’t even tell you how good this is. If you don’t like it hot, omit the red pepper flakes.

Make and enjoy.

Tune in tomorrow and I will share my hot and spicy adventure from today.

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Brown Rice Love

We LOVE brown rice. We eat a lot of it.

Brown rice has only the outermost layer, or hull, removed. Stopping the processing at this point allows the nutrients to remain. Further processing to remove the bran and the germ layer result in a whiter rice, and if the grains are polished, you end up with a white, nutritionally lacking rice. Which is usually then ‘enriched’ or ‘fortified’ to add nutrients back to it. Really.

Whole grains, such as brown rice, are rich in fiber, which I’m always focused on since colon cancer claimed one of my grandparents and one of my parents. We also hear a lot these days (from my Dr. especially, every time she sees me) the importance of choosing whole grains such as brown rice rather than refined grains like white rice and enriched breads to maintain a healthy body weight as well.

There are many other health benefits to eating brown rice, such as the oil in it has been shown to lower cholesterol, lower type 2 diabetes risk, help combat plaque build-up in the arteries; it contains selenium, which is important for thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant systems and immune function, and on and on.

Those are all great benefits, which we love, but we also love it because of its full, nutty flavor. If you haven’t tried brown rice, you may not like it at first, but don’t give up. Once you acquire the taste, you will likely prefer it over white rice.

One of the things I frequently do is cook it in chicken or vegetable broth, or a mixture of  broth and water, and add herbs for varying flavors. I also like to serve it as a side dish with dried cranberries and slivered almonds. Or top it with mushrooms cooked in a little water with Bragg’s Aminos.  Or under a big pile of stir fried fresh vegetables.  Or make a brown rice salad out of it. I could go on and on.

Brown rice does take longer to cook than white rice, typically around 45 minutes, however, I found this method on the internet a few years ago, and it’s the only method I use now. I have a rice cooker, which I just thought I had to have a few years back, but I never use it anymore. This recipe rocks.

This takes about 35 minutes from beginning to end, which is pretty good for brown rice. This method works for both short grain and long grain brown rice.

Perfect Brown Rice Every Time

1. Put brown rice and water (or chicken stock, or a mixture of both) together in a pot with a lid. Use the ratio of 1.5 cups water to 1 cup rice. I normally make 3c rice with 4.5c liquid for a batch.
2. Set the heat to maximum, and bring the rice/water to a boil uncovered. Then put the lid on the pot, and reduce the heat to low/simmer. If your lid has a steam valve, keep it closed. Let the rice simmer for 20 minutes. Don’t peek.
3. Turn off the heat, and let the rice sit in the covered pot for another 10 minutes. It’s OK if you let the rice sit longer than 10 minutes (20 or 30 minutes is fine too), but don’t let it go any less. We prefer our rice to be slightly chewy, not mushy, so I usually remove the lid after 10 – 12 minutes.
4. Ready to eat. Be careful when you remove the lid, since a lot of steam may escape when you do. The original recipe stated that this works for white rice too, although I‘ve never tried it.

If you have never tried brown rice, give it a try and let me know what you think. And if it is a regular menu item for you, how do you jazz it up?

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Tracking my weekly spending is helping me not only with the budget, but it’s making me think a lot more about the kinds of purchases I’m making. Since we’re trying to eat healthier, natural is better, and many times it’s more econonical as well. Packaged foods are easier and faster, but costlier on the pocketbook as well as your health.

This week I spent $81.29. Not too bad.

Being committed to eating healthy, from my pantry, and creatively (or at least not boring), I’ll continue my habit of planning meals in advance, and will post those here for the upcoming week.  Planning ahead makes shopping so easy, and it really eliminates impulse fast food eating, or other unhealthy choices.

Saturday – Grilled chicken salad

Sunday –  Grilled turkey burgers (w/o buns) topped with mushrooms sauted in Bragg’s Aminos, roasted brussels sprouts, brown rice

Monday – Grilled turkey burgers (w/o buns), roasted sweet potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts

Tuesday – Spaghetti squash/zucchini/carrot stir fry and salad

Wednesday – Spaghetti with marinara/spinach sauce and salad

Thursday – Lentil casserole and salad

Friday – Lentil casserole and salad leftovers

A few Tips/Ideas/Revelations for this week:

TIR #1 – I bought a HUGE bag of fresh brussels sprouts at Costco last month, and froze them after using a few.  I wasn’t sure how freezing them would work out, but I have thawed some and roasted them, and they were great.  I will look the next time we go to see if there are other vegetables that I could do this with.

TIR#2 – Roasted fresh vegetables are so easy, and the flavor is amazing compared to boiling, which results in a lot of the nutrients being leeched out into the water. 

TIR #3:  When I make brown rice, I make a big pot.  I can then use it for the original meal (last week was my chicken enchilada night), for a warm brown rice salad another night, and maybe a stir-fry with vegetables a third night.  As well as giving me a jump on the meal prep, this provides a delicious healthy component to the meal, and changing it up keeps us from getting bored with it.

Actually, I love brown rice so much, I think it deserves its own post. Coming soon.

Do you have any time-saving tips or recipes to share for preparing weekly dinners? PLEASE SHARE! He’s going to eventually get tired of stir-fried vegetables.

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Food Friday

Today is Food Friday because I have something luscious to share.  I’m not sure yet whether every Friday will be.

I hosted Bunco at my house last night, and I provided dinner beforehand, and dessert at the mid-way mark.  This dessert is so worth sharing.  I don’t remember exactly where I got the recipe, but it was in a newsletter sometime during the holidays (possibly Southern Living).  It is definitely a keeper for me.  It’s quick and easy and great for entertaining.

I love my bunco group and wanted to do something extra special for them (they’ve been very tolerant of me, allowing me to skip hostessing because of house building for the past year and a half).  So I selected special ingredients, but the ingredient for this could vary.

It’s a dark/white chocolate raspberry trifly thing. 

There aren’t many ingredients, and it’s quick and easy to make.  Make ahead and let sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  I do love make-ahead food.


Five or 6 ingredients, plus topping, that’s it.  I didn’t use the liquer in this one.


1 package of your favorite cookies
3 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 (4 oz) bitter sweet chocolate
1 (4 oz) white chocolate
1 tsp. vanilla
2 (6 oz) containers of fresh raspberries – or frozen
raspberry glaze
mocha liquer (optional)

Break bittersweet chocolate into pieces and put in a bowl. Microwave 1/2 cup of cream for about 30 seconds to 1 minute…don’t boil. Pour over chocolate to melt.

Break white chocolate into another bowl. Microwave 1/4 cup of cream until hot but not boiling, pour over white chocolate.

Mix 1/2 tsp vanilla into each bowl.

Let these bowls sit and cool for 20 minutes, while also letting 2 1/2 cups of cream come to room temperature.

After 20 minutes, beat 1 1/2 cups of cream at medium high speed until medium peaks form. Fold in 1/4 of this into the melted bittersweet chocolate. Once this is folded in well, fold the remainder in.

Beat 1 cup of cream at medium high speed until medium peaks form. Fold 1/4 of this into the melted white chocolate until folded in well. Fold in the remainder.

Crush 6 or 7 cookies and spread them over the bottom of a lightly greased 9-inch spring form pan. Layer 1/2 of the bittersweet chocolate mixture over this.

Arrange cookies around sides of pan (about 19 cookies). Spread white chocolate mixture over bittersweet chocolate mixture.

Crush remaining cookies, and sprinkle over white chocolate mixture in springform pan. Drizzle with liqueur, if desired. Spread remaining bittersweet chocolate mixture over crushed cookies. Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.

Remove sides from pan. Mound raspberries in center of trifle; brush with Raspberry Glaze. Serve immediately.

At this point I should have a picture of the removed trifle with the raspberries and glaze topping…it was quite pretty, but I was so engrossed in serving and eating that I didn’t get a picture.  Just trust me, it was very good, and I’ll definitely be making this again.

I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Baking Bars, Ghirardelli White Chocolate Baking Bar, Pepperidge Farm Distinctive Entertaining Cookie Collection and frozen raspberries. This could be varied many ways, I will experiment next time with different cookies and fruit, maybe different chocolate. Also maybe do something like nuts in between layers.


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Fall is here,and we’re having a wonderful time at the Funny Farm.  Busy, but wonderful.

We still have so many projects to complete here, so we’re just doing the best we can, one at a time.  The past few week ends we have been staining the stair railing and the stairs that lead from the living room to the basement.  I say ‘we’…I mean ‘he’.  I have volunteered to help…but the response is “I don’t think so, remember the laundry room ceiling?”  The laundry room ceiling story is etched in his mind.  It had to do with me, a paintbrush and paint, and a disfigured ceiling…well…I won’t go into it.

I’ve had this in the living room for two weeks…

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Living room floor with a stair staining project in progress

 But it will be worth it.  In another week or so.

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The newels and top and bottom railings will be stained, and the spindles will be painted white to match the baseboards and other trim.

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Other than that, of course there’s been lots of cooking.  Fall means soup to me, and I’ve been making our favorites.  One that I love is Butternut Squash Soup.

Butternut Squash Soup


  • 6 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 4 tablespoons margarine
  • 6 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (I roast it in the oven for 45 minutes with olive oil and garlic, then cool and cut up.  I think it adds deeper flavor)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese or 1/2 cups of Half and Half (or heavy cream if you want to be really bad)


  1. In a large saucepan, saute onions in margarine until tender. Add squash, chicken stock, marjoram, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to boil; if the squash is roasted first, lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.  If raw, cook on low to medium heat for 20 minutes, or until squash is tender.
  2. If you like your soup totally smooth, puree squash and cream cheese or Half and Half in a blender or food processor in batches until smooth. Return to saucepan, and heat through. Do not allow to boil.  I just mash mine in the pot with everything else and heat and serve. 

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This is quickly becoming one of my favorites.  Add a piece of fresh home made wheat bread, and it doesn’t get much better than that.

We’re having some folks with little ones out this Saturday night for Halloween. I’ll be making a different chili than my usual, can’t wait to try this recipe. If it’s as wonderful as I think it will be, I’ll share the recipe next week.

Hope you all have a safe and fun Halloween!

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I Cooked!

I love, love, love Indian food. I love the deep, rich, spicy flavors. One of my goals for this year is to learn how to cook it really well. Not just throw together the occasional Chicken Curry, but really learn about it, and become accomplished at it. There is so much variation from region to region, it’s really interesting. I’ve got one Indian cookbook that is a great starting place. It offers a lot of great information about regional variations, ingredients, methods of cooking etc. Much more than just recipes, which themselves are amazingly easy to make.


I love to cook, but these days time is limited, and one thing I’ve not been doing is using my crockpot to save time. I love slow cooking, I don’t think I’ve ever cooked anything in my crockpot that didn’t turn out great. So when Robbyn at The Back Forty shared an awesome site she found called A Year of Crockpotting, I was pretty psyched. This blogger cooked for an entire year, yes, 365 days, using her crockpot. She has some awesome recipes. It just so happened that when Robbyn blogged about the site, she was referencing an Indian recipe for Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken). I made this tonight, and (embarrassingly) there is only one small, maybe 1/2 portion left of the entire recipe. It was very, very good. The one thing I should have done is taken Robbyn’s advice and upped the amounts a tiny bit on all the spices, but I just adjusted at the end, and it was very good. Do make sure to add salt at the end, it’s not called for in the recipe, and it definitely makes a difference.

I’ll definitely be trying out more of the crockpot recipes, it’s quite a time-saver, as well as being easy and energy efficient. And I can’t wait to delve into my Indian cookbook. I may just have to try to find a creative brain cell and see how I can come up with slow cooking from the cookbook.

If anyone has any Indian recipes to share, I’d love to hear from you.

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When I got to the house today Mike and my brother were hard at work putting the cedar up on the kitchen wall.


I won’t say whose idea it was to put a ladder on the countertop. Yes, someone actually did that and climbed it. And it wasn’t me or my brother. This wouldn’t have won the Art Stephenson Safety Award.


It did turn out great. It made the wall look even taller (not sure if that’s good or bad, but it’s really tall).

Finished cedar kitchen wall

Finished cedar kitchen wall

We’ll put a backsplash, which I haven’t decided on yet, below the cedar. I think it’s pretty cool.

We (I use that term loosely) worked until about 2:00 and got it all done. Meanwhile sheetrock guys, who are also door hanger guys, came by and patched and sanded so we can paint next weekend, and hung the last two interior doors. Then I looked outside and saw this —

Look closely, it's snowing!

Look closely, it's snowing!

So we decided it was time to call it a day and go home. It was so cold outside, and it was so nice to get in our nice warm house and settle in for a cozy afternoon. We haven’t done that at all this year, with the housebuilding going on. Mike stretched out and half-napped in the recliner with the dogs laying on either side of his chair, and I perused my seed catalogs, dreaming of the huge garden that’s just around the corner.  Then I got the baking bug and decided to make muffins for the week (the blueberry ones from yesterday are pretty much history).  I love these bran muffins, they are delicious and healthy. Great to grab with a banana for an easy breakfast before work.

Healthy and Delicious Bran Muffins

1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt (I like to use yogurt, either is good)
1/3 cup applesauce (or oil…I prefer applesauce)
1 egg or 1/4 cup egg subsitute
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c. all purpose flour (can mix 1/2 white, 1/2 wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp wheat germ (optional)
1/2 cup to 1 cup of raisins, berries or nuts, use your imagination. I used cranberries and walnuts today.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease muffin tin. (makes 12 large muffins)

Mix bran and buttermilk or yogurt, let sit for 10 minutes.

Beat together applesauce (or oil), egg, sugar and vanilla. Add to bran mixture.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir this into the bran mixture.

Fold in raisins, berries or nuts..bake for 15-20 minutes.



The three-day weekend was way too short. But it was very productive.

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I hope everyone is getting a good start on the new year.  Here at the Smith Funny Farm we are torn between getting some much needed rest, and going gung-ho in a mad dash to the end of the house-building project.  The mad dash is winning out for the most part.

We had our annual New Year’s Eve poker game with friends for the last time in this old house.  It was a great time of fun, food and friends, as usual.   I ran across a recipe over at Valarie Lea’s website that I decided to try for the game.  It’s Buffalo Chicken Dip…OH MY GOSH.  It is delicious, quite a hit.  I’ll be adding this one to my list of favorites.   I didn’t think to get pictures of the process, but it’s easy to make.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

2   8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1  cup Ranch dressing
3 and 1/2 cups cooked chicken
1 cup of buffalo wing sauce
Shredded cheese ( I used cheddar, use whatever you like)…enough to cover, about 2 cups or so. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   
Mix softened cream cheese and Ranch dressing together, spread in to 9×13 baking dish.
Mix cooked chicken and buffalo wing sauce together, and spread on cream cheese mixture.
Cover with shredded cheese.
Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until cheese is totally melted.

If you like buffalo wings you will love it.  If you don’t, you might just love it anyway.

We didn’t get in bed until the wee hours on Thursday morning, and didn’t really feel like jumping right up to head to the new house at daybreak like we (ok, like Mike) usually want to do.  We enjoyed a leisurely morning of hanging out and drinking coffee and napping in the recliners until about noon.  Absolutely heaven.  It’s been so long since we’ve done that.  We did then go to the house and loaded up the trailer with sheetrock and other stuff to be taken to the solid waste facility.  It took about 2 hours of the day, and we came home and rested some more.  Crazy.  We usually can’t drag ourselves away, but it was pretty easy, I think we’re just exhausted.

We got up early this morning and dropped the stuff off at the landfill.  The story here is that we didn’t rent a dumpster at the house site.  We just had the contractors dump everything in one place so we could go through it and make sure that there weren’t things being thrown away that we might want to keep, which happened a lot.  We recovered a lot of lumber that we’ll use for building things around the property, such as a potting shed for one.  We also saved over $4,000 by doing this.  That’s a great thing.

After the drop we headed up to the house and loaded up a last load.  We did some cleaning up, and grading of the yard.  It’s really starting to come together and look like a home rather than a construction site.  We’re looking at rain the next couple of days, so I don’t know how productive we’ll be, but we’ll be up there.

It will be nice to blog about something other than building the house, hopefully soon.  I hope to be writing about getting the garden area ready, what I’m going to plant, and the whole chicken raising debate (more to come). 

But for now…sleep.  There’s just not enough sleep lately.






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After the Turkey

We cooked two large turkeys this year for Thanksgiving.  In my ongoing endeavor to be frugal and mindful, I decided that this year I wouldn’t just toss those turkey carcasses out with the Thanksgiving leftovers.

Since I do work outside of my home, and every other daylight moment that I have available is spent at the new house, my time is a bit limited.  I did bag one of the carcasses up and put in the deep freeze until I can get to it.  The other, I cooked down and made a wonderful broth that I put in the freezer for future use.

I pretty much used the recipe that Gina posted at  Women Not Dabbling a few weeks ago. I cooked mine on the stovetop, although Gina says using a crock pot works just fine.

I got off all the meat from the bones that I could, but there was still some meat attached, which is not bad thing. 

Turkey carcass

Left-over bits from vegetables cut for holiday meal ( I used celery and onion parts)


3 small Bay leaves

2  teas. Salt

Pepper corns (no idea how many I used…whatever you like)

Splash of  red wine (Gina suggests that you can also use vinegar)

Cold water to cover

Break the turkey carcass into pieces and place in stock pot.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 2-3 hours. Remove bones and allow them to cool, and remove any meat to be used for later. Strain broth and store in containers for later.

Isn’t that pretty?  Yes, I’m pretty pleased with myself, I feel like I was so not wasteful :-).

Turkey Broth

Turkey Broth

This broth is so tasty, and I like knowing it was made with all natural ingredients. I ended up with 6 quarts that I put in the freezer.

One turkey carcass to go.

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Feel-Good-Food #5

If God had intended us to follow recipes,
He wouldn’t have given us grandmothers.
~Linda Henley

Many times just the thought of a specific food creates a comfortable feeling within us because it takes us back to a happy time or special situation or person.  Such is the case with this week’s feel-good-food.  My grandmother made this soup, and when I think of it I can smell it cooking in her kitchen, and get that warm feeling that grandmas are so good at stirring up.  My grandma is long gone, but she left a lot of memories, and this great soup.   She never wrote the recipe down, but my mom and I think we have it pretty close.  

Tomato / Sausage Soup


  • 1 lb sausage (we prefer hot)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil if necessary – see directions below
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 or 3 medium potatoes, diced small
  • 28 ounces of crushed tomatoes
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper


Brown the sausage in a skillet, reserving the fat.

Sauté onion and garlic until tender in 1 TBSP of the reserved fat, adding oil if necessary to make 1 TBSP (or, sauté in vegetable or olive oil alone if you prefer).

Stir in cooked sausage, diced potatoes, tomatoes, broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook 20 minutes (or until potatoes are tender), stirring frequently.  That’s it!

Of course you could leave out the sausage and still have a great tomato soup.

Serve with open faced grilled cheese on home-made bread, or, check out this whole grain cracker recipe from Kathie over at ‘Women Not Dabbling In Normal’ – I’ll be trying these out. 

This certainly doesn’t measure up to Grandma’s because…well…it’s not Grandma’s, but it’s still very, very good and always hits the spot.

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