Remembering the Casserole!

It’s that time of the year again. In the next few months we have several holidays to celebrate. Holiday celebrations generally also include cooking for friends and family. All that cooking can be a bit overwhelming if you like me, cook all the meals anyway. Some nights I just don’t want to cook anything!

That’s when having a casserole or two in the freezer comes in handy. Having been raised in PA just outside of what generally gets called “Amish” country, I know several one pot meals that I can use. Sometimes you just want more. So, I make casseroles and freeze them. I don’t mean Tuna Noodle casserole either!

Why make your own casserole?

Yep, there are lots of made casseroles available in the freezer section of your local grocery store. Take a second though, and look at the nutritional information on that package. I looked through the offerings at Walmart and just randomly checked a package. While the calories were acceptable, the sodium was not. The recommended amount for an adult is around 2500 mg per day. This random package, which serves 1 person, had 1250. That’s half of the RDA! If you make it yourself, you can cut that number down.

The second reason for making your own casserole is leftovers. It’s the perfect solution to the problem of what to do with the leftovers. Just chop them up into bite size pieces and make a casserole! For that, you don’t need a recipe. What you need is a basic formula.

Basic Formula

Okay, I found this article on Allrecipes on making a casserole. As you can read, it can be really easy to make one without a specific recipe. So let’s go through the steps together.

  1. 3 – 4 cups of protein. Recently I made some boneless pork chops that turned out to be bigger than my husband and I could eat. I plan to cut it up and measure the amount. If I don’t have enough , I’ll add something else to bring it up to the amount needed.
  2. 2 cups of Carbs. Did you make too much pasta, potatoes or rice? Perfect! Measure them up and throw them in. If needed, mix the carbs together.
  3. 1 cup of aromatics. I tend to keep some of these chopped in the fridge. Think onions, celery, carrots, bell peppers, etc.
  4. 1 – 2 cups of vegetables. I tend to use frozen vegetables because it’s easier for me. You can also use canned vegetables or even fresh if you want.
  5. 1-2 cups of binder. I’ve started keeping cans of cream of “whatever” soup in my cupboard just for this reason. I usually mix a can with 1/2 can of milk for this.

This makes a 9 x 13 pan. If you making it to bake later, try using a tinfoil pan. That way you can save on clean-up later by just throwing it away. I have a small family so I divide it between several smaller pans. I either use 8 x 8 pans or loaf pans. Both are readily available, think Dollar Tree for these! Make sure that you have lids for them.

Baking the Casserole

I tend to use a cookie sheet under the pan to make it easier to get in and out of the oven.

Time For A Change

It’s been one of those weeks here at my house. Actually, to be honest, it’s been that way for a few weeks. RL has taken me away from doing more than just blasé book reviews for a while now.

That’s going to change. I’m tired of going back through old book series. For example, Milly Taiden’s Paranormal Dating Agency. These last few books are ones that I just can’t seem to force myself to even finish. After looking at the reviews, it looks like I’m not the only one having problems with it.

Julia Mills’s Dragon Guard is another series that I seem to have a “love-hate” relationship with. The last few books feature the MacAllen clan which is okay. It looks like she is spinning them off into a new series, Dragon Intelligence Agency. I will admit, I don’t do books with cartoon covers so there are several of her holiday Dragon Guard books that I won’t be reading.

Anna Lowe and Heather Long are another two authors that seem to be slowing down and failing to keep my interest. For both of them, their most recent series seems to be dragging on with no end in sight.

So where does that leave me???

For awhile at least, you can expect fewer actual book reviews. Delta James has several new series started that have captured my interest. The packs and families that she began in “Wayward Mates” and “Tangled Vines” have had children. The story of this next generation is being told in “Fated Legacy.” I was amused to see that a number of the clubs mentioned in these series also show up in other series by her.

I want to post a few more “Lifestyle” posts. Cooking, decorating, just general “what’s going on in my world” posts. It’s fall now and for most of country, our focus is changing. The weather is changing and there are major holidays coming up. I’d like to capitalize on those.

So stick around, and we’ll all enjoy a new phase of the journey together.

Key Lime Pie

So many people think that making pies is difficult. That’s not necessarily true. Take this pie for instance. Believe it or not, it only takes 3 ingredients besides the pie crust!

This recipe was given to me when we first moved into the place where we live now. I don’t know who created it originally but since it was freely given to me, I am freely passing it on.

Key Lime Pie

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 (15 oz) cans of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup Key Lime Juice
  • 1 graham cracker crust (use the 9 inch one)

Combine the egg yolks, milk and juice. Mix gently without beating air in mixture. Pour into pie crust and bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Let cool and top with Whipped topping if desired.

This is the brand I use, Nellie and Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice. Recently I was able to find it at either Costco or Sam’s Club. You can also add in lime zest.

Char-Broil Everybody Grills!

200 Prize-Worthy Recipes to Put Sizzle on Your Grill (Creative Homeowner) Includes Easy-to-Follow Tips & Tricks for Grilling, Smoking, & Low-and-Slow BBQ, and 250 Photos

Char-Broil’s Everybody Grills! is the definitive cookbook and how-to guide for everyone who loves preparing meals in the great outdoors!

  • 200 prize-worthy recipes for grilled and barbecued appetizers, main courses, salads, veggies, marinades—even desserts on the grill! 
  • 250 color photos illustrate each recipe in mouth-watering detail 
  • Expert tips & techniques from Sizzle on the Grill Web writer Barry “CB” Martin for brining, marinating, and grilling that yield juicy steaks, ribs, and chicken 
  • Developed in partnership with Char-Broil, one of North America’s leading grill manufacturers 

Sumptuous spreads of exquisitely grilled food; step-by-step prize-winning recipes; lists of ingredients plus preparation and grill/cook times; expert tips on techniques and the latest equipment; delectable marinades, sauces, and rubs: Char-Broil Everybody Grills! is the definitive cookbook and how-to guide for everyone—from the beginner to the seasoned barbecue enthusiast—who loves preparing meals in the great outdoors. 

This book was developed by editors at Creative Homeowner in partnership with Char-Broil, one of North America’s leading grill manufacturers. For 60 years, millions of folks have relied on the Char-Broil name for great backyard cooking. Now, this trusted grill company presents Everybody Grills!, a cookbook filled with everything you need to know to get outside and join the fun. You’ll find hundreds of recipes for grilling, smoking, low-and-slow BBQ, and frying a whole turkey for the holidays—without oil! 

Filled with more than 200 easy-to-follow recipes and tips for delicious grilled and barbecued beef, lamb, veal, pork, poultry, seafood, vegetables, sides, salads, appetizers, snacks, marinades, sauces, rubs, and desserts, plus more than 250 mouthwatering color photos, Everybody Grills! will help you grill, barbecue, and cook delicious meals outdoors that will have family and friends licking their fingers! 

Char-Broil Everybody Grills! has been recognized for: 

  • 2009 Benjamin Franklin AwardPublishers Marketing Association
  • 2009 IPPY, Bronze, Recognizing Excellence in Independent Publishing, Independent Publisher Book Awards
  • 2008 USA Best Books Awards Winner (Cookbooks: Grilling & BBQ), USA Book News
  • 2008 Indies Finalist, Book of the Year AwardForeward Magazine

You see all those little blue pieces of paper sticking out of the book in the photo? Those are all the recipes that my husband and I want to try. Whether it’s a full (new) recipe to try, or just a new sauce for your favorite dish that you already make, there’s something for everyone in this book. Yes, you may find duplicate information but this is definitely a keeper!

Erica S D
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
nice bookReviewed in the United States on January 2, 2021
full of great recipes with nice pictures that make me unsure what I should try first.

James Anderson

5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Gotta have it!Reviewed in the United States on February 11, 2018
This is a very nicely done paperback. Glossy pages. Recipes are mostly single-page with picture (love that) and simple and "normal" ingredients".

pkkmmokelly

4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
decent grillin guideReviewed in the United States on July 8, 2020
if you like to cook your dinner outside especially in the summer/spring/fall you'll enjoy this book great pictures and nice ideas well photographed...

Accessories for Your Instant Pot

Why Accessories?

While there are plenty of recipes that you can make in your Instant Pot without using any thing more than the pot and a trivet. You don’t need more than that for soups or stews. However, there are so many more recipes that just need an accessory or two to expand your use of it. I’m going to list a few of them with reasons why you might need it.

Egg Bite Molds

If you’re a fan of Starbucks, you have undoubtedly noticed their little egg bites. Now I don’t go to Starbucks, and couldn’t begin to tell you what is in them. Using a silicon egg bite mold will let you make egg bites of your own! Now besides your basic egg bites, I’ve seen cheesecake bites, meatballs, pancake bites, to name just a few. My favorite is muffin bites. If you buy the Martha White brand of muffin mix, it will make 7 bites, which is how many fits on a mold. I’ve been collecting recipe pins on my Pinterest Board, From My Kitchen and Instant Pot Recipes.

6 Inch Springform Pan

I didn’t quite believe it when I saw recipes for cheesecake that could be made in this smaller pan. I just didn’t believe you could cook a cheesecake in an Instant Pot. Then I did a little checking. It seems that custard recipes such as cheesecake, need a water to enable them to cook more evenly and slowly. The traditional method is to use boiling water in a roasting pan. Doing it this way, you would need to wrap tinfoil around the bottom of the springform pan to keep the water from leaking in. Now contrast that with placing your smaller springform pan on a trivet inside the Instant Pot. You get all the benefits of the water bath while still keeping the pan above the water! For a empty nest couple like ours, 6 inch pans are perfect.

6 cup Bundt Pan

This is another potential work horse in your kitchen. There are fabulous recipes out there for pound cakes that are sized for a 6 cup pan. In our current economic climate, wouldn’t it be better to make smaller cakes that will serve your family for one or two meals instead of three or four? I’ve even come across a recipe for “Monkey Bread” that is made in a 6 cup Bundt Pan in an Instant Pot! What a great treat!

6 cup Round Bowls, Cake Pans

These are great for making all kinds of things, casseroles, cakes. Just use your imagination. You may have to reduce the number of servings you are making, but wow, it is fabulous.

Steamer baskets

These should be another given accessory. There are any number of foods that are steamed. Steamer baskets come in a number of sizes. I even have one with a divider so that you can steam 3 different foods at the same time.

Hard Boiled Egg Rack

Easter is coming, folks. For those of you with small children and grandchildren, that means Easter Eggs. Now no one seems to argue that you need to boil the eggs for around 9 – 13 minutes. The problem comes in how long it takes that water to boil in the first place! The more eggs you need to make, the more water since you need to have water covering the eggs by 1 inch. BUT if you are doing them in a Instant Pot, you only need 1 cup of water no matter how many eggs you are making. Set the timer to 5 minutes. Once the timer goes off, let the IP release naturally for 5 minutes before doing a quick release. Scoop the eggs out and place in ice bath for 5 minutes. No matter how many eggs you are making, they are all cooked completely! So much easier!

The “I Love My Instant Pot®” 5-Ingredient Recipe Book

Today, I’m doing something I’ve never done before. This cookbook hasn’t been released yet, so I’m urging you to pre-order it. I truly do love my Instant Pot. So much so, I ordered my youngest daughter one for Christmas, besides getting her some of the accessories. This book is really great. I’ve already made 2 of the recipes from it, making things I’ve never tried before. One of the many things I enjoyed about it is that they don’t just stick to recipes that you can make using the insert pot. They include recipes for the egg bites tray, the steamer, a glass baking bowl plus others. That extends the usefulness of this book. So try a few and enjoy!

 From Pot Roast, Potatoes, and Gravy to Simple Lemon Cheesecake, 175 Quick and Easy Recipes (“I Love My” Series)

175 must-have 5-ingredient recipes perfect for anyone looking to save time and effort—all while using your favorite appliance the Instant Pot.

Now using the Instant Pot is easier and more convenient than ever with these 175 delicious, simple, and straightforward recipes using just five ingredients or less. Perfect for people on the go, this cookbook will help you make mouthwatering dishes for every meal of the day that the whole family will love.

Using ingredients that you probably already have on hand, The “I Love My Instant Pot” 5-Ingredient Cookbook features fast and affordable recipes that don’t require a lot of prep or shopping. And best of all, they’re satisfying, flavorful recipes you will want to make over and over again!

Including an easy-to-understand overview of your Instant Pot, this cookbook has you covered for every occasion. From breakfast to dinner and desserts and snacks in between, you will save more time (and money) than ever while enjoying tasty food all day long.

Add to Goodreads

The Complete Diabetes Cookbook: The Healthy Way to Eat the Foods You Love

2019 IACP Award Winner in the Health & Special Diet Category

2019 James Beard Award Finalist

Take control of managing diabetes with a one-stop cookbook of 400-plus creative diabetes-friendly recipes. Meticulously tested recipes deliver exceptional flavor and maximum nutrition and provide a healthy way to cook and eat that truly benefits everyone but especially those battling diabetes. Complete nutritional information is provided with every recipe for easy reference.

Diabetes is a health crisis. America’s Test Kitchen’s urgent mission is to provide a path to healthier eating for anyone cooking for diabetes and encourage home cooks to get into the kitchen with a complete collection of great-tasting recipes. Vetted by a dietician and a doctor, all of the more than 400 inspired recipes maximize healthy ingredients and flavor while adhering to specific nutritional guidelines. Enjoy every meal with fresh and creative recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including options for entertaining, snacks, and occasional sweet treats.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Anne
5.0 out of 5 stars Very similar to The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook with overlapping recipes
Reviewed in the United States on November 11, 2018 Verified Purchase
As is Cook's Illustrated's pattern,there are many repeated recipes in their books. Still, I think it is worth having both the Mediterranean and Diabetes cookbooks as guides for more healthful eating. The major difference is that the Diabetes Cookbook's recipes include per 1-cup serving information (Cal, Total Fat, Sat Fat, Chol, Sodium, Total Carbs, Fiber, Total Sugar, Added Sugar, Protein, and Total Carbohydrate Choices). I am not a fan of diet books and their claims, however, the Mediterranean way of eating makes sense and for me is easy because I like the foods it promotes: a lot fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes and seeds; fish and seafood; poultry, eggs, cheese, and yoghurt (in moderation); wine and a lot of water.

The book(s) is well designed and provides a lot of helpful side-bar information. These recipes take well to everyday meals. None are overly complex and most are easy and good information is provided for the novice cook. Unlike most previous Cook's Illustrated cookbooks these are in paperback with a lot of colored photographs of finished dishes or information on certain ingredients or techniques.

If you want to become more adventurous and prepare more authentic Mediterranean meals (which I reserve for dinner parties due to the time involved) I recommend seeking out Elizabeth David, Paula Wolfert, and Joyce Goldstein's books.

Kris Abrahamson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great recipes! Too many carbs?
Reviewed in the United States on November 11, 2018 Verified Purchase
Many great looking recipes for diabetics or those who just like good, healthy food. I agree with the reviewer who said many meals appeared to contain too many carbohydrates, so use judgment with how many carbs you actually eat based on your specific medical plan. The idea that 25% of a diabetic meal could be carbs is common, but probably not a good idea for everyone. For those interested in halting the progress of diabetes, I recommend THE END OF DIABETES by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.

WIAPilot
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the BEST Diabetes and Low-Salt Cookbooks!
Reviewed in the United States on March 29, 2019Verified Purchase
My fiancé was recently diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. He is recovering now, but also is on dialysis, is a diabetic, and has high blood pressure. For him to have any quality of life at all, he is going to need to DRASTICALLY change his diet. We typically would eat out in restaurants or have fast foods. I didn’t cook that often, although I am a very good cook. This has to change and I ordered about 10 Lower-Salt Cookbooks and Diabetes Cookbooks. It was somewhat frustrating because I want to learn to cook with spices and herbs rather than with salt and sugar. This cookbook is absolutely one of the very best! I look forward to trying many of the recipes! It is laid out very well and has beautiful pictures! I cannot recommend it enough!

Steve W. Bonds
3.0 out of 5 stars Higher than expected carbohydrate content in recipes
Reviewed in the United States on January 17, 2019Verified Purchase
While this book does make some effort to use foods where the carbohydrate might be absorbed more slowly than usual, there are still a number of recipes in here that may not work well for many people with Type 2 Diabetes. Use your glucometer to be sure the foods work for you-- don't rely on the recipes alone to create healthy and safe meals.

LOL
5.0 out of 5 stars Healthy, quality recipes
Reviewed in the United States on November 20, 2018Vine Customer Review of Free ProductWhat's this? )Verified Purchase
The recipes in this book live up to the reputation of ATK. No question. There is a lot of variety and they choose quality ingredients. My only small issue with this book is because of some differences in opinion on how diabetics should eat. If you are on the super low carb side of the argument, you might find that this is too carb heavy (in terms of grains and starchy carbs). If you fall in the moderate carb camp, you will find plenty of options. Many of the recipes could be easily adapted to a lower carb lifestyle. I will use this a lot.

The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook

650 Recipes for Everything You’ll Ever Want to Make

Because smaller families shouldn’t have to rely on recipes built for four or six, America’s Test Kitchen has reengineered 650 of our best recipes to serve just two. Over the years we’ve discovered that scaling down a recipe isn’t as simple as cutting the ingredients in half—cooking times, temperatures, and equipment need to be adapted as well. This comprehensive cookbook takes the guesswork out of cooking for two so you can be sure that anything you want to make—from Classic Beef Stew to Lasagna to a mini batch of Fudgy Brownies or a Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake—will come out right (and perfectly proportioned) every time. We’ll also give you options when you’re short on time. 150 recipes, including Chicken Saltimbocca and Pan-Seared Rib-Eye Steaks with Sweet-Tart Red Wine Sauce, can be on the table in 30 minutes or less. For those times when you want healthier fare, we’ve provided more than 100 recipes labeled “Light” such as Provencal Vegetable Soup and Poached Shrimp Salad with Avocado and Grapefruit, each with nutritional information listed in an easy-to-read chart in the back of the book. And we include chapters on for-two slow cooking, grilling, and baking pies, quick breads, cakes, and cookies. A 25-page manual teaches the basics of cooking for two, including clever shopping strategies to reduce waste, smart storage tricks help extend freshness of key ingredients, and our picks for the most useful kitchen equipment for any two-person household.

The reason given in the forward for this cookbook is really quite sweet. A neighbor, a man and his daughter, complained that about having too many leftovers after he cooked. After receiving hundreds of requests along the same line, the editors decided answer the requests. Then they discovered that cooking for two people required much more than just dividing the recipe in half!

This cookbook is the result of their work. I’m an empty nester so it was perfect for my husband and myself. I was so impressed I bought copies for both of my daughters! It was so great to see a cake recipe that wouldn’t leave me with enough cake to eat every day for a week!

Even better, IMHO, is the section in the beginning where they give some tips on buying for a smaller household. Tips for using up the leftover ingredients, smaller sized pans. These are all things I personally struggled with after my last daughter moved out!

Joe Gee
5.0 out of 5 stars Great explanations as to why the recipe works!
Reviewed in the United States on December 14, 2020 Verified Purchase
Great pictures, easy instructions, and really great recipes.

P. Warner
5.0 out of 5 stars Big Beautiful Book!
Reviewed in the United States on December 4, 2020 Verified Purchase
Lots of yummy recipes structured for one and two servings. Beautifully illustrated. Great for a gift so buy two...you will want to keep one.
Scott Barnard
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome cookbook, every kitchen should have one.
Reviewed in the United States on December 3, 2020 Verified Purchase
A cook book that weighs 4 pounds, 450 pages, 650 recipes and information on everything from preparing food, the deferance between canned tomatos, how to cut meat and everything and anything that deals with cooking in between. If I could give it a 10 score I would. Funny thing is I have not made one recipes yet. By the recipes I've look at in this book, I will be making a lot of these recipes. And before I read a review of a reviewer that is complaining they have to send this book back because " it's to big, "there's no pictures", "to bulkie". I have this to say, stop your whining and do some COOKING!!!! This cook book uses common ingredients and common sense to make theses recipes. Yes it has common information that a beginning cook can use. And deeper information that over time a beginner can use. But the best part of this cook book is this. COOKING FOR TWO PEOPLE !!!!
Katie likes books
5.0 out of 5 stars Well thought out and informative
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 26, 2020Verified Purchase
Plenty of recipes and additional information regarding all aspects of food and cooking. Its complete in itself for 2 people wanting to stop waste.
Add to Goodreads

Wanda E. Brunstetter’s Amish Friends Farmhouse Favorites Cookbook:

Ever feel as famished as a farmer and long for simple country cooking ideas? Find them in this new collection of recipes, tips, and stories from Amish cooks.

CUSTOMER
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Color Photos
Reviewed in the United States on November 19, 2020Verified Purchase
This cookbook is a treasure for my collection! Color photos on heavy glossy paper. Includes Recipes, Time-Tested Home Medicinal Remedies, Cooking Tips & Wisdom, Condiments from scratch, Homemade Cottage Cheese, and has a bonus of natural bug and critter repellents, barnyard tips for animals, and garden tips. Just simple & just fabulous

Deanna Stevens, Kindle Customer

5.0 out of 5 stars Nice collection of Amish recipes
Reviewed in the United States on August 30, 2020
I enjoy browsing through cookbooks and this sample cookbook was a nice example of what Wanda's Amish Friends Farmhouse Favorites contains. I tried a few and found many more I am wanting to try. Wanda's books are always a pleasure to buy or receive.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Barbour Publishers my review is voluntary.
Kimberly S
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Cookbook
Reviewed in the United States on August 10, 2020
This cookbook is another wonderful treat from Wanda E. Brunstetter! It is packed full of easy recipes, wonders stories and advice. I love that anyone, of any age can pick this cookbook up and start cooking!
Filled to the brim with beautiful pictures and over 200 delicious recipes. The Breakfast Protein Cookies are a family favorite now!
I highly recommend this cookbook to everyone!
I was given an ARC from NetGalley and this is my honest review

Canning Essentials: Jam-Packed with Essential Tools, Techniques, and Recipes for Fruits, Veggies, Jams, Pickles, Salsa, and More

Canning Essentials is a go-to beginner’s guide that will take you step-by-step through the different processes of canning fruit and produce. From canning vegetables, like tomatoes and squashes, to preparing homemade jam, salsas, relishes, and so much more, this book simplifies food preservation so that even today’s busiest people can find time to do it themselves. Emphasizing cost-saving and sustainable food safety, you’ll learn methods for both freezing, canning, pressure canning, and water-bath canning, then discover over 60 delicious recipes for homemade jelly, chutneys, pickles, and more. With helpful charts throughout to detail methods with specific timings, temperatures, and required equipment, this book will teach you everything you need to know about preserving and canning fruits and vegetables.

Full of useful information. The recipes are interesting and ones that I plan to try. I just wish that more of the recipes gave you some idea of the yield. It is very hard to make sure you have sufficient jars ready if you don’t know how much the recipe will yield. The Formatting in Kindle version was somewhat messy.

Having said that, I enjoyed the book enough to purchase a copy for my house.

T. Crane
5.0 out of 5 stars Healthy Food you preserve yourself
Reviewed in the United States on August 12, 2020
This book could not being coming out at a better time. As we learned while dealing with a pandemic, you can not always count on a grocery store to have what you need. This is a must have for every household.
Great book full of great information for someone who is new to canning, and some stuff you may not have known if you have been canning a long time.
Great recipes with mouth watering pictures! It has information for freezing, pressure canning and tons more.
I was given a copy of this book for my honest opinion

cindy

4.0 out of 5 stars very very good
Reviewed in the United States on June 18, 2020
This is a good solid book for a home canner. Especially if you are new to preserving foods.
There is discussion about freezing foods ( what you can and cannot ) along with how to do it.
As for the canning. She covers the supplies needed, helpful tips, how to pick and clean/prepare the item you are canning. Talks about things that can well and those that don't. Covers pressure canning vs. hot water bath canning.. And supplies many recipes.
A very good all round book