Tag Archives: comfort food

Soup Mix in a Jar


Soup Mix in a Jar
Your friends and family will love this pretty soup mix in a jar that makes a nice, easy supper!
Use different colored ingredients for a festive look.

Layer in a pint jar, as listed (top ingredient at the top
of the jar):
1/3 cup uncooked pasta (to fill the jar) (we used whole wheat mini-shells)
1/4 cup dry lentils (orange)
1/4 cup split peas (yellow)
1/4 cup uncooked rice
1/4 cup dry split peas (green)
2 T. pearl barley
1/4 cup lentils (dark green or brown)
1 bay leaves
2 T beef, chicken or veggie bouillon granules (or two cubes)
2 T cup dried onion flakes
1/4 t. black pepper
1 t. dried garlic powder or flakes
1/2 t. dried Italian seasoning

In a pint jar, layer the ingredients as listed. Using a jar funnel will help keep messes to a minimum. At the top, wrap the pasta in plastic wrap, and place in the jar. Add enough pasta to completely fill the jar all the way to the top (this will help keep the layers from shifting). Seal tightly. You can cover with decorative cloth and tie with a ribbon or string (Use a rubber band to secure, then remove the rubber band after the ribbon is tied).
Attach an instructions label to the jar.
Include the tomatoes, sauce, and some cornbread mix, if you like!

INSTRUCTIONS (tie this label to your jar)

How to make Soup in a Jar
1 half pound ground beef, turkey, pork, ham, or Italian sausage, or leave out the meat for a vegan version!
8 cups water
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

TO PREPARE SOUP: Remove pasta from top of jar, and set aside. In a 6 qt pot over medium heat, brown beef; drain excess fat. Add soup mix, tomatoes, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover, and simmer 1 hour. Stir in the tomato sauce; bring to a boil, add pasta. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Serve with fresh cornbread. The person who finds the bay leaf gets to do the dishes! (serves 4-6)


Turkey Carcass Soup

Turkey Carcass Soup


This soup is made from what’s left over after serving the turkey: the bones and the meat that clings to them. Our family jokes about the unappetizing name, but the soup is really very good. It’s mild, flavorful, and so satisfying. Serve with homemade bread.

Prepare the meat and broth:
One turkey carcass (or turkey breast carcass), most of meat removed

This is not an exact science. Use the bones and the meat left on them. It’s best not to use a smoked bird, because the flavor is too intense. But, you can use the smoked meat if you use fresh broth.

Cover the turkey with water in a large (8 quart) stock pot. Season with 1-2 t. salt and a few bay leaves, perhaps some dried parsley. If you like, throw in a carrot or two, a half onion, and a stalk of celery, roughly cut. These vegetables will all be discarded after they release their flavor into the broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer at least an hour. Cool, then remove turkey from bones. If necessary, add some of the turkey that you had previously removed to bring up the amount to 4 cups. Strain the broth. You need 4 quarts of broth for the soup.

2 T. butter
2 cups EACH chopped onion, celery, and carrots
4 quarts broth
2 T. chicken soup base or chicken granules (if necessary)
4 oz. rice or small pasta (such as broken spaghetti) OR 2 cups diced potatoes
2 cups English peas (canned or frozen)
4 cups turkey meat, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 T. dried parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To make the soup:
In an 8-quart pot: (you can use the same one), sauté vegetables in butter. Add broth, bring to a boil, and stir in chicken base or granules if broth seems too thin. Add the rice or pasta and cook (uncovered) 20-30 minutes. Stir in meat, peas and seasonings. Heat through (about 10 minutes.)
6-8 servings, depending on what else you have

Note: If you have leftover green beans, lima beans, squash, fresh herbs, etc. add them if it makes you happy.

Cinnamon Apples

cinnamon apples

Cinnamon Apples

Depending on the type of apple, you may need more or less sugar. Granny Smith (green, very tart) is my usual preference for cooking, but other apples (such as Macintosh) can be good, too. If you mix different types of apples, some may be soft when others are firm. You can also experiment with different sweeteners, such as honey or maple syrup. Vanilla ice cream would be wonderful with these apples.

6 large apples, peeled, cored and cut into eight wedges
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. grated lemon peel
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 T. flour
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
6 T. butter

Place apples in the crock-pot and drizzle with lemon juice. Sprinkle other ingredients over apples; stir gently to coat. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours or on high for 2, stirring occasionally if possible, until apples are done. Serve apples in a bowl, or over ice cream. Sprinkle with toasted nuts if desired.

Sourdough Bread

Laura with sourdough bread
Laura with sourdough bread loaves
In our family, we have all made this bread, but Laura is the undisputed Queen and best maker of the bread. Luckily, my sister is an extremely generous person and never fails to make presents of these fragrant loaves to anyone and everyone who might ever be potentially a friend of hers.
First, make the starter:

Sourdough Bread Starter (The Yeasties)

2 scant T. dry yeast (or 2 pkg.)
1 1/2 C. lukewarm water
4 T. instant potato flakes
1 C. sugar

Dissolve ingredients and mix well in a glass container.
Let the starter grow for 8 hours at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator in a plastic or glass container with a hole in the lid to provide oxygen.

Sourdough Bread

(See starter recipe to make the sourdough starter (which I affectionately call ‘The Yeasties’)

To feed the ‘yeasties’: (Combine in a quart container with starter)
1 cup warm water
3/4 cup sugar
3 T. instant potato flakes
Mix together and let stand in a warm place about 8 hours.
(Use within 8-12 hours.)

To make dough: (Combine in a large mixing bowl)
1 cup starter (fed within the last 12 hours)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 T. salt
1 1/2 cup warm water
6 cups flour (preferably bread flour, but can combine 3 cups bread flour and 3 cups whole wheat flour)

Mix together thoroughly to make moist dough. Knead well; place in oiled bowl. Cover with a light cloth. Let rise in a warm place for about 8 hours*, until double in bulk.

To make bread: Punch down dough; knead briefly and let relax a few minutes until easy to work with. Form dough into desired shapes: rolls, loaves or whatever you like. (Makes three medium loaves.) Place in greased baking dishes or stones. Cover with a light cloth. Let the loaves rise about 8 hours* in a warm location. Bake bread at about 350 degrees about 25 minutes for medium loaves; adjust time for smaller or larger bread.

sourdough loaves

Information: Starter must be fed at least once a month, but may be fed and used every day if desired. Keep the starter in the refrigerator except when feeding. Never cover with an airtight lid. Keep it in a quart jar (or container) with a porous lid. Shake well before use. Check to be sure bubbles are present before using. Listen after shaking; the liquid sounds ‘fizzy’ if it’s good. It has a pleasant vinegar-like smell and looks white or cream-colored. If the yeasties get too hot, don’t have air, or are not fed, they will eventually die. The starter may also be frozen for 2 or 3 months if you will not be using it. Never microwave!
*If the house is cold, the dough may require longer than 8 hours to rise.
Food Images
sourdough slices

Meatballs and Spaghetti

Meat balls and spaghetti (grandmother's)
My grandmother, Mattie Adcock, created this recipe.  My grandmother died when I was a baby, but my mother often used to make these warm and comforting meatballs and spaghetti.  It’s wonderful to re-create this beloved dish from my childhood.

This spaghetti is notable because of the absence of any kind of Italian seasonings. It has a very distinctive flavor that I really love, due to the browned flour and tomato juice gravy. My grandmother always served sweet pickles alongside this dish. I like rolls and salad with it.
Meat Balls and Spaghetti
1 lb. ground beef
12 crushed saltine crackers
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 eggs
1 quart tomato juice
Oil for frying
8 oz. dry spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

Gently mix meat, crackers, onion, and eggs, and add enough tomato juice to moisten crumbs (about 1/3-1/2 cup). Form into ping-pong sized balls. Dredge in flour.
Heat about 4 T. oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Place each meatball gently into the oil and fry until brown on one side, then turn to brown other sides. Don’t crowd the meatballs in the skillet, be sure there is a little room between them. If necessary, make two batches of meatballs adding more oil and letting the skillet return to medium high heat. Remove browned meatballs to a platter lined with paper towels. After all the meatballs are browned, pour off excess oil, leaving the browned bits in the bottom of the skillet. Add in the tomato juice, stirring to incorporate the drippings. Gently stir in the meatballs, then the cooked spaghetti, adding a couple spoonfuls of the pasta water (this will encourage the sauce to stick to the spaghetti). Heat the meatballs and spaghetti until gently boiling, then keep warm until time to serve.

Best Stuffed Peppers

stuffed peppers green and red

I have made this recipe dozens of times, and it always turns out wonderful and everyone loves it.  I love the red peppers best, but each color of pepper has its own appeal.  I have also made this recipe in other types of peppers, such as poblanos.

I really suggest serving the peppers in bowls, because you will want to spoon the delicious sauce over it.

Unfortunately, this is not a recipe that freezes very well.  The peppers lose a lot of texture in the freezer.  However, leftovers can be reheated from the refrigerated state and it’s as good as the first time.

Best Stuffed Bell Peppers

For the sauce:
1 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 cup beef broth
2 cups prepared marinara sauce, or other tomato sauce
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1/4 t. red pepper flakes

For the peppers:
1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 pound hot Italian pork sausage, casings removed
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup finely grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
4 cloves garlic, minced very fine
1 can 10-oz diced tomatoes
2 t. salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne

4 large green, red, yellow or orange bell peppers, or mixture

In a large skillet, sauté onion in the oil until translucent. Transfer half the sautéed onion to a large mixing bowl and reserve for filling. Stir in broth, tomato sauce, vinegar, and pepper. Pour half the sauce into the bottom of a large, deep (9X13) baking dish.

In the mixing bowl, add filling ingredients to the onion, reserving some cheese for the topping. Mix gently to combine.

Cut bell peppers in half LENGTHWISE and remove stem, ribs and seeds. Pack peppers with stuffing mixture and top with remaining cheese. Place peppers into the pan with the sauce, and pour the remaining sauce over the top. Seal with foil; bake 45 minutes, then remove foil and bake another 15-25 minutes, until tops are lightly browned and peppers are tender. Spoon some sauce over each pepper. Serves 4-8.

Vivian’s Pound Cake

Vivian with pound cake
Vivian with pound cake

This is a classic pound cake that everyone in our family enjoys. We have all made and brought this cake to countless family reunions and parties and to families after the birth of a baby or loss of a loved one.  It’s best just out of the oven. Some people love to slather butter on it while it’s still hot, although it’s good at room temperature, with ice cream, with berries or peaches, topped with whipped cream, etc. and It also freezes well. We truly do have a family of excellent cooks. Vivian is a blessing to everyone who knows her.  

Vivian’s Pound Cake

1 cup butter
3 cups sugar
6 egg yolks
3 cups sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 t. lemon or vanilla extract
6 egg whites, beaten stiffly

Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in yolks. Sift dry ingredients together and add alternately with buttermilk and flavoring. Fold in egg whites. Bake in well greased & floured pans.  (Or use Baker’s Joy).  We usually use a bundt pan to bake this, but, we have also used two small bundt pans, or it can be baked in mini-pans or loaves.  A typical bundt should be baked at 315 degrees 1 hour and 10 minutes.

12 slices