Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Young Family Heavenly Hash

Today's recipe comes loaded with memories of my mom's family reunions in Ohio, when her father's huge family would come together in the church basement at long tables, where there was plenty of food, and plenty of her Grandma Young's homemade pies. But one special dish stood out at those reunions... one of my Grandpa Jack's favorites... Heavenly Hash. 

My Grandpa Jack Young hand-wrote this recipe for my mom's collection:

In case you can't read it, here's the recipe:

2 small packages lemon Jell-O
1 pt whipping cream
1 can crushed pineapple
1 can pecans

Make the Jell-O. Cut Jell-O in 1" squares after it sets. Whip the cream real stiff, then sweeten. Drain the pineapple and don't use the juice. Put Jell-O in mixing bowl, pour whipped cream over it, then put the pineapple on, then spread the pecans on. Mix very lightly.

"Heavenly Hash" sits in that grey, fuzzy line between "side dish salad" and "dessert," and can conveniently play both roles. It is incredibly light and fluffy and sweet, and is actually very pretty to behold. And it continues to be a family favorite!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Momma Chandler's Chicken Noodle Soup

Today when I asked Mom for her Chicken Noodle Soup recipe, she just tapped her head and said, "It's all right here." Apparently, it is an old family tradition, which my Grammie taught my mom, and my mom has slowly adapted and perfected over the years, as my brothers and I have grown up. I think those are my favorite kind of recipes!

So, here's the ingredients that Momma Chandler uses these days: 

2 chicken breasts
1 onion
4 celery sticks
2 chicken boullion cubes

(to taste):
parsley and sage (homegrown and dried)
sea salt 
ground black pepper

1 package of extra wide egg noodles

Put the chicken in the crock pot and cover it with water. Cut up the onion and celery and add them to the pot. Then sprinkle in the herbs and spices. (Mom goes light on the salt, since you can always add more later.) Let it cook in the crock pot all day. 

Then use a colander to drain it, and save the broth in a large sauce pan. Cook the noodles in the broth. Shred the chicken, and add it to the noodles. 

Feel free to adapt the ingredients and amounts to your family's preference. Mom said she did it this way when we were growing up, because we got the benefits of the vegetables without having chunks of the vegetables in the soup (a great idea for children!).

It's healthy, kid-friendly, easy to make, and delicious. So delightfully savory and comforting, it will warm your hands, your heart, and your home, especially on a cool rainy fall day! 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

All things pumpkin

Nothing says "autumn" like a beautiful, bright orange pumpkin. Last week, Mom and I visited Trader Joe's (the Disneyland of grocery stores), and they had colorful signs everywhere, promoting all their pumpkin products - harvest salsa, harvest granola, pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin loaf, etc. The joy of pumpkin-ness was everywhere! They had a big bin of pumpkins, too, and Mom got one for a really great price. When she took it to the register, the cashier said, "Wow, that is one bodacious pumpkin!" I love TJ employees, and I couldn't have complimented that pumpkin better myself.

One of the many pumpkin recipes that have become tradition in our home is Iced Pumpkin Cookies. Mom actually got this one from a website: They are SO soft and savory-sweet and comforting... Great with milk, cider, coffee, or tea, in the morning for breakfast, lunchtime, afternoon tea, evening dessert, TV munchies, or midnight snack. So... basically, anytime. I've eaten a ton of them this week.

When it comes to baking, it is usually important to follow the directions... But Mom likes to create her own versions of recipes, to make them Chandler-unique. So for this recipe, instead of making a glaze, she just uses the original measures of the ingredients (without adding extra milk) and makes creamy icing.

I personally think the icing is the best part!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

One in a million

Shepherd's Pie is an old family favorite. Traditionally, Mom makes it with ground beef and raisins, but the beauty of this dish is that as long as there's beef on the bottom and potatoes on the top, you can dress it up however you want. Add in peas, carrots, onions, peppers, mushrooms, or currants... add the cheese of your choice to the potatoes... There are about a million ways to make it!

This week, Mom tried a new version, which she got from my sister-in-law, Amanda, and it's called the "Tavern Shepherd Pie." What made it unique was that the meat mixture is actually a pot roast and carrots, which you put in the crock pot and slow cook all day. Add to it a package of pot roast seasoning and a cup of water, and your whole house will smell amazing! Then in the evening, you let the roast fall apart and spread it in a dish. Make some fluffy mashed potatoes and mix in some cheddar cheese, and generously pile it on top of the meat. Then put it in the oven at 350 F, and let it bake until golden brown.

And there you have it - an easy, hearty, delicious meal to share with your family on a cool autumn evening!

We didn't include any specific measurements in this recipe, because it's more of an inspirational concept. We encourage you to get creative with it, and include your family's favorite ingredients, and come up with your own special version of Shepherd's Pie.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Welcome, Autumn!

This is the first official day of fall, so we are celebrating by rebooting our cooking blog! In the summer, we do a lot of fresh garden veggies and grilled dishes (not to mention ice cream!). But when the weather gets cooler, Mom breaks out the apron, dusts off some old family favorite recipes (often hand-written on 3x5 cards), and warms up the oven. So this season, we will post about the legendary Spoon Drop Inn fall specials - some are new, but most have been around for as long as I can remember.

When you think of the fall season, what comes to mind? Is it brilliantly colored leaves? Pumpkins? Cozy sweaters? Bonfires? Gilmore Girls? Allergies? Back-to-School sales? For me, all I can say are just two delicious words: Apple Dip. And that is why it is our debut recipe:

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. salted peanuts (finely chopped)

Use a mixer to beat the cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla together. Then stir in the peanuts. Keep refrigerated until you use it. 

And how is it used? Well, we get a bushel of our favorite crispy apples, slice them up, and then generously scoop/dip/slather on the Apple Dip! It's so good, you may just find yourself eating it straight out of the bowl with a spoon, or raiding your fridge for anything you can possibly find to pair with it. Yes, it is that amazing.