Thursday, January 22, 2015

"Mass Moments" - January 23, 1800

Map made of multicolored slate from NY
located in Stanley Park, Westfield, MA

Do you enjoy learning a little history?  I do.  Reading interesting historical facts about the state that I live in is fascinating to me.  We all think about Massachusetts on Thanksgiving Day & also when we read about the founding fathers of our country.  The cranberry bogs on the Cape (Cape Cod) & Dr. Seuss (born in Springfield, MA) along with the Basketball Hall of Fame (Springfield, MA) all have connections to Massachusetts.  Oh, there is so much more! 

If you enjoy small doses of history at a time there's a great website that publishes a short story every day.  The website's name is Mass Moments.  Yes, Mass Moments publishes history facts about Massachusetts.  Every day the featured fact is an event that took place on the same date & month that you are reading it, but the event took place in a previous year!  Some are hundreds of years ago.  What a great way to learn a little history!

"Indian Boys arrive in Longmeadow" took place on January 23, 1800.  This story is definitely interesting to me!  The raid on Deerfield, MA in 1704.  Stephen Williams & his family!  Colonial history!  Scrolling down to the credits I recognized the name John Demos.  (The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America, by John Demos)  I had the privilege of listening to his fascinating lecture at the Longmeadow Historical Society's annual meeting this past October.

Mass Moments is a great site with snippets of Massachusetts history- every day.  If you enjoy reading history, click on this site!  It's great!


Sunday, January 11, 2015

~Winter Solar Green Tea~

~Winter Solar Green Tea~
Even during the colder months with snow on the ground and our Penguin garden flag is up, Solar Green Tea is brewing on my window sill!  Our home faces south & the southerly exposure works very well to brew my tea.  Only my pitcher knows how many times it has been in this location filled with cold water & 3 Decaf Green Tea Bags.  About 3 & 1/2 hours later the tea bags are removed.  

Any time of year it's great to open my fridge & find the covered pitcher containing cold Green Tea.  During the winter it's easy to forget to drink enough fluids.  This beverage tastes so good!     


Saturday, January 3, 2015

~Slow Cooker Beef Stew~

~Slow Cooker Beef Stew~
(reheating in a sauce pot)

Oh, it sure is frigid outside!  It's the time of year when our treadmill & I bond!  Well, this time of year & also when we have a heat wave during the HHH weather.  It's also the time of year when a bowl of steaming hearty Beef Stew tastes so good.  Beef Stew is one of those easy prep meals for my Slow Cooker.  Everything goes in the Slow Cooker's pot & a few hours later a scrumptious healthy colorful dinner is ready- without much fuss.

My Slow Cooker's cooking pot has a nonstick coating, but I always spray the cooking pot with PAM.  Then, Carrots are placed on the bottom with the cut up chunks of Beef placed on top.

This tasty easy dinner is always enjoyed the first evening & any extra portions can be placed in the freezer.  After the stew has cooled, individual portions are packaged in Ziploc Freezer Containers, labelled & frozen for a "take out" meal after a busy day when there's no time to cook dinner!  It can be defrosted/ reheated in a sauce pot along with about 4- 6 ounces of water.  Defrosting overnight in the fridge works great, also!   

~Slow Cooker Beef Stew~ 

1 lb. Baby Carrots
about 1 lb. Beef Stewing Meat
(1) 16 oz. pkg. defrosted Mixed Veggies
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Basil
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder (optional)
chopped Onions
chopped Parsley
(1) Potato
(1) 14 oz. can diced Tomatoes
28 oz. Tomato Sauce
  1.  Spray Slow Cooker's pot with PAM. 
  2.  Rinse 1 lb. Baby Carrots in cold water.  Place on bottom of pot.
  3.  Rinse about 1 lb. Beef Stewing Meat under cold water.  Cut in chunks and place on Carrots.
  4.  Add (1) 16 oz. pkg. defrosted Mixed Veggies on top.
  5.  Sprinkle on Oregano and Basil.
  6.  Add Garlic Powder (optional).
  7.  Add desired amount of chopped Onions and Parsley. (I use 1 teaspoon of each, dehydrated.)
  8.  Wash (1) Potato and cut into small chunks.  Add on top.
  9.  Place (1) 14 oz. can diced Tomatoes on top.
  10. Top with 28 oz. Tomato Sauce.
  11.  Set Temperature on High for 3 Hours.  Reduce to Medium for 1 Hour. With my West Bend Slow Cooker I set to #5 and then reduce to #3 and 1/2.
**Sometimes I add 2 Bay Leaves before adding the Tomato Sauce.

The weekend is a great time to use your Slow Cooker/ Crock Pot to prepare Beef Stew!  Have you tried it yet?  Tastes so good on a chilly day.  Perfect for tonight, it's snowing!


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

~Merry Christmas~

There have been many lists written these past few weeks.  The lists for things to do, things to bake & things to purchase have been rewritten, also!  Now, it's time to enjoy family & friends.  I wish all of you, your families & your friends a very


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

~Effortless Entrees~

At this time of year we've all been preparing for the holidays!  Every day is filled with hustle & bustle.  Grocery shopping and shopping for gifts, visiting friends, baking & rechecking travel plans, in addition to working is only a part of a busy week.  Nutritious, tasty dinners that are easy to prepare are welcomed at the end of a busy day.

On this blog I've posted some yummy entrees that are found in the snowflake above.  Many of the recipes are prepared in a Slow Cooker/ Crock Pot.  Click on any entree in the snowflake & the post & recipe is at your fingertips.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
(File Photo)

Sour Cream? Yes, I have Fat Free.
Nutmeg?  Yes.
Salt Free Butter?  Yes, definitely need to use Butter!
Flour & Sugar?  Yes.
Colored Sugars?  Yes, yes!
Rolling pin & rolling mat?  Double yes.
Cookie Cutters?  Definitely!

That's part of my check list before I bake Sour Cream Sugar Cookies.  I've used my go to recipe for rolled out Christmas Sugar Cookies for so long - over 30 years.

Imagine biting into a soft rolled out sugar cookie that has a cute whimsical shape.  As you are chewing the cookie a hint of Nutmeg flavoring tastes so good.  The sugar cookie is festive- decorated with colored sugars.  After eating one, another is hard to resist!         

These cookies are time tested with both my family & my friends!  They are made in 2 steps.

On Day 1 the dough is prepared, wrapped & refrigerated to be used on Day 2.
The next day take out the Colored Sugars, Rolling Pin & Rolling Mat.

This is a very easy cookie to make/ bake.  Roll the dough to 1/4".  Then, use your cookie cutters.  After baking/ cooling a taste test is definitely necessary.  Who can resist this cookie?  Usually I bake them 2- 3 weeks before Christmas & place them in the freezer.  They freeze very well & are so yummy!

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
          printable recipe card (click here)         

Oven:  375°F
Yield:  About 5 dozen, depending on size

4 Cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 Cup unsalted Butter, softened
1 and 1/2 Cups Sugar
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Sour Cream (can be Fat Free)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Colored Sugars for Decorating
Cookie Cutters


Day 1-
  1. In large bowl with electric mixer beat Butter and Sugar until light and fluffy. 
  2. Add Egg, beat.
  3. Add in Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt and Nutmeg. 
  4. While beating on Low, slowly add Flour, 1 Cup at a time.
  5. Add in Vanilla and Sour Cream. Beat on Medium until well combined. Dough will be stiff
  6. Remove dough from bowl and place on plastic wrap, wrap dough.  
  7. Place wrapped dough on aluminum foil and wrap well.
  8. Refrigerate overnight.  
Day 2-
  1.  Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Unwrap dough and cut into four parts. 
  3. On well floured surface, roll dough to 1/4" thickness. Use cookie cutters. 
  4. Place cookies on pan/ sheet 1" apart. (Maybe 12 cookies to a sheet.)
  5. Sprinkle with colored sugars. 
  6. Bake 10 - 11 Minutes. Bottom of cookies will be a light golden brown.
  7. Remove with spatula to wire cooling racks. 
  8. When cool store in airtight containers.  
The last time I baked this family fave was the end of March.  My son & soon to be daughter-in-law included them (bells & hearts) in their Welcome Bags for their overnight wedding guests.  4 batches were baked for their very special occasion!  Now, it will always be a tradition with me to use green & purple sprinkles when decorating the bell shaped cookies.  :)

Welcome Bag Cookies
(File Photo)

In the next few days my cookie cutters & rolling pin will be put to work.  I have the Fat Free Sour Cream & Unsalted Butter in my fridge.  It's time to plan on making the dough & baking these soft yummy cookies.