Rice Casserole

Broth, Consommé or Stock?

Here is an interesting cooking question I had as I prepared this recipe that called for consommé-  is there any difference between broth, consommé or stock? I have become an indiscriminant cook who uses these interchangeably.

Stock is the basis of many dishes – soups, stews, sauces, and gravies. Broth and consommé are both types of soup.  According to ochef.com, Consommé is the most refined soup made from stock. The stock is reduced. Then ground beef or chicken, additional aromatic vegetables, and frothy egg whites are added to the boiling stock. The egg whites coagulate on top, acting as a filter that collects impurities in the stock during 45 minutes to an hour of simmering. The consommé is strained through a towel, and, often, Madeira or sherry are added.

Rice Casserole

Well, unfortunately, I read this important piece of information about consommé vs. broth after I put the rice casserole in the oven.  This casserole would be a great and easy addition to serve with chicken, turkey or fish brought to us by Lynda M, who also contributed similar recipe for flavored rice.  I found this on page 56 with the Main Dishes, but in my mind it belongs with the side dishes.  The preparation for this dish was minimal… Lynda suggested canned mushroom, but I used some dried ones, and frozen diced onions and peppers  To keep the sodium content down, I used a low salt broth I found recently from Jewel.


I love the brick containers with easy pour spout, great for storing leftover broth in the fridge.

Here is the rice casserole after it came out of the oven.  A nice accompaniment to rotisserie chicken we were having for dinner.  Thanks Lynda!



Side Dishes – Potatoes Au Gratin



On the Second Day of Christmas

Yuki watched TV!


I got an animal DVD from the Library, and while I walked on the treadmill, Yuki took in America’s Greatest Animals for at least 10 minutes. 🙂

Potatoes Au Gratin

This was a perfect accompaniment to our Christmas dinner. In past years, I’ve made Christmas Goose, an interesting if labor-intensive dish.

I’ve decided that turkey and ham are the easiest large meats to serve. Not only are they budget-friendly, but also feed a lot of people. When I make a turkey, I have meat for the meal as well as leftovers for at least a couple more.

Not so with goose. Goose is roughly a similar size to a turkey, but the meat from it feeds maybe 4 people in one meal. The end.

This year I compromised. I made duck and sea scallops. I don’t think I’d ever made scallops before, but I love them and order them often when we’re out. So I didn’t have a good recipe to start from. I found a chili-encrusted lime scallop recipe which I thought sounded good, but came out only meh.

And the duck? Sorta of meh too. It’s a lot of work trying to get the meat off the bird, though it’s easy to roast.

The au gratin potatoes (p. 31), though, worked out perfectly as a side dish. I used plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and had lightened up versions of the cream of celery and cheese.

IMG_6542Jacob really liked this dish. It’s tasty!


Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the final product. But trust me it comes out really nice in the end because you put cheese over the top and the potatoes brown up nicely.

Give it a try!




Side Dishes – Flavored Rice

Advent Preparation

From my husband’s sermon on Sunday, he shared with us some Advent themes: preparation, waiting for the Messiah, repentance.

He admonished us to stop trying to fill the empty places in our lives with things that never satisfy–possessions, money, success, and instead turn in repentance to the Lord:

All praise, eternal Son to Thee whose Advent sets Thy people free.

This line comes from one of my favorite hymns in Advent, “On Jordan’s Banks the Baptist’s Cry” (LSB 344).

Flavored Rice
This dish submitted by Lynda M. accompanied our tacos at youth group this past Sunday. It’s very simple–rice boiled in chicken stock with onion added. The kids ate it all up at youth group, and I even got one, “That rice was really good!” The chicken stock and onions even add a little nutrition to it!

Here it is, boiling away.


And the finished product:


Side Dishes – Mashed Potato Casserole

The Nativity Story

At youth group on Sunday evening, we’ll watch The Nativity Story. This film came out in 2006, and is a good depiction of the the events of Jesus’ birth, so I decided to share it with the youth, since it’s pretty likely few of them have seen it.


The movie garnered attention on its release a few years ago, but it hasn’t received a lot of press since then. It’s a great seasonal movie, though, so I think the kids will enjoy seeing it. I think it’ll help them understand all that Mary and Joseph experienced to gain an appreciation of the history of the nativity story. It’s a wonderful film, and I look forward to seeing it again.

Mashed Potato Casserole

This recipe (p. 29) from Doris H. is a fine variation on the way I normally make mashed potatoes. I usually add butter, milk, and salt. This adds other ingredients too–cream cheese and sour cream, which makes the dish more creamy and tasty!



This dish accompanied our Thanksgiving dinner, and was a tasty addition.IMG_0597.JPG

Side Dish / Dessert – Hot Pineapple Casserole

Julie here:

Hot tea might just be the perfect antidote to the gloomy dark days of late fall and early winter. The weather lately has been unseasonably cold, and a bit gloomy as well with a bunch of cloudy days. Thankfully, however, we haven’t gotten much snow yet.


But tea? It surely helps, doesn’t it? I once toured Celestial Seasonings in Boulder, Colorado. It was an interesting tour, for sure, seeing big rooms with their piles of tea leaves. Of course, Twinings declares that it has 300 years of experience in the tea-making business. And they certainly know what they’re doing! I bought a package of the Lady Grey today. Love it! It’s a tad less intense than Earl Grey. It’s fantastic.

Pineapple Casserole
Hooray for Nancy O.! She was a cooking machine on a Saturday a few weeks ago! Not only did she make two of the delicious desserts in the cookbook, but she also made this pineapple casserole (p. 37), her own dish to accompany ham.

Here’s a bit from Nancy, the cook and contributor, herself:

Hi Nancy here, and who would Nancy be?? Well it is the Nancy of the 5 pounds of fudge, page 96. And while on that topic let me add that there was a very important ingredient missing from recipe and that is 12 oz. of sweet chocolate. I used the German sweet chocolate and I have to say I make it every Christmas and my family and friends really look forward to it. What a treat to make it in the fall and again for the holidays!

I think I know why my two healthy friends avoided the Pineapple Casserole on p. 37. That would be butter, sugar, eggs and white bread.  In defense of this recipe, it makes a delicious side dish to be served hot or cold with ham.  Two of my dearest friends also claim credit for this dish, but since I’m writing this, it’s  mine.  I serve it with cornish game hens for a family dinner to celebrate a daughter’s birthday.

Anyhow here it is in all its pineapply splendor!

IMG_0576.JPGThank you, Nancy!


Side Dishes – Chippewa Rice Dish

Julie here: It occurred to me today that with the popularity of such sites as Pinterest and the many cooking blogs and websites that the good ol’ recipe box filled with splattered well-worn recipe cards is becoming obsolete. I must say this made me a bit sad.


I was looking through my recipes today, thinking lovingly of all of the people whose recipes I’ve gathered over the years. Ones from my mom and grandmother, my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and friends in the various places I’ve lived. It made me nostalgic for a time when recipe sharing had a more personal touch.

Now it seems as though we turn to the “experts”–those whose blogs are slick and websites are bursting with hundreds or even thousands of recipes, fully tested and published in glossy books with professionally styled food photos.

But in that process, I wonder if we’ve lost a little something. As I thumbed through my recipe cards today I remembered dinner parties where dishes were shared and recipes exchanged. Or parties where an appetizer made its way from the gathering to a conversation to my recipe box.

Oh sure, people still share recipes in this way, but it seems almost more likely that we’ll quickly go online to find an expert recipe.

Will young people today gather their own favorite recipes in a box, to pass down to family members over the years? Or will all of this become digital, and the only way to access Grandma’s favorites will be to go online to her Pinterest account? I don’t know…somehow it just doesn’t seem the same.

Well, one thing I do hope continues into the future is the gathering of recipes in church cookbooks! Hopefully in a few years, someone else will come along to put together Palate Pleasers, vol. 4!

I want to give a shout-out to all those wonderful cooks whose recipes have made it into my recipe box. I do treasure them–and you!

Chippewa Rice Dish
We categorized this recipe (p. 44) under side dishes, mostly because it was a “rice” dish, and I figured that meant it was a side. But I think more accurately it could be a main dish because of the ground meat.

It’s quite tasty–a great option for nights when you need a quick family pleaser. I’ll have to ask Marian F., who contributed the recipe, to see if she knows why it’s named as it is. No matter what the name, however, it is a satisfying, good dish!


Vegetables and Side Dishes – Patti’s Potato Bake

Julie here-
All Saints Day

One of the traditions I love about All Saints Day (usually celebrated around Nov. 1) is the tolling of the bells. Maybe it seems an unhappy reminder to some, but I find it a comforting commemoration of those in the congregation who have passed away in the previous year.

At Redeemer, and at Concordia in Brentwood, PA, the other congregation my husband served, he adds the names of those members who have died in the year before, and then a bell is tolled as each name is read.

For people outside the church, they may get together with family to celebrate a loved one’s passing on anniversaries, etc. But little compares to the whole congregation gathering together, to pray for those left behind at the funeral and on All Saints Day.

I didn’t lose a loved one this year, but as each new season rolls around, I miss my dog Lucy more and more. She was a rock star on Halloween, getting lots of oohs and ahhs from the kids who’d come to the door. “I love your dog!” I remember one kid squealing in delight as she petted Lucy last year.

The cats don’t really “do” Halloween. When the door opened on Friday to a squad of trick-or-treaters, the cats just swish their tails and flatten their ears, thinking, perhaps, that this must be a break-in.

But Lucy loved it all–especially anything involving new friends.

People ask me when we’re getting a new dog. I don’t know yet. We’ve had a lot of little short trips this fall that have made it difficult. Plus, getting a puppy is a ton of work. I still remember the housebreaking, kennel-training, leash-training, don’t-tear-stuff-up-training, and of course, the get-your-paws-off-the-counter training.

But eventually we’ll most likely get another. Just not quite yet.

In the meantime, we’re enjoying the turning of the seasons. The Midwest really puts on a show in the autumn, blessing us with turning leaves and frosty nights. And as autumn loses the fight to winter, we’re still together at Redeemer, turning our thoughts again to our Savior and when He’ll call us all to our everlasting reward, like those saints who have gone before.

Patti’s Potato Bake

I love how Karen takes pics of all of the ingredients before getting things into the pans. It helps to break down the recipe into manageable steps. I mean, I look at that pile of stuff and think, hey, that’s not too hard to make. Nice! This recipe (p. 30) comes from Sheree and Patti Gehrke.



Here’s the mixture before baking.

IMG_0609And the final product.


Thank you again, Karen!




I am in Northeastern Pennsylvania this week as we prepare for my brother’s wedding.  One of the few perks about 13 long hours of driving with two young kids was the ability to bring more stuff, like my laptop!

We survived the many hours in the car together with many books, DVD’s and Nooks from the library providing distraction from the question on everyone’s lips: “How much longer until we get there?!”

photo 1

It’s been 16 years since I made the cross country trip (that time heading west), traveling with my dad, who he is an excellent driver.  I sent this text to family and friends on the last leg of the journey-
” I forgot how long this trip takes, just like I have (almost) forgotten how painful childbirth was!”

photo 3


Before we left, I was in a cooking frenzy, trying to use up the perishables.  2 friends had given me the ratatouille’s main ingredients for this delicious stew from their gardens, zucchini and eggplant.  I couldn’t let them deteriorate without taking the opportunity to make this fabulous recipe.

I had used up the last of my tomatoes earlier that week, and found that the grape tomatoes I use to make salads worked well for this dish.

The most difficult part of making this recipe was cutting the vegetables and waiting for them to simmer on the cooktop!

photo 1

Zucchini and eggplant were cooked separately, eggplant with some sea salt to blanch out potential bitterness

photo 2I  served the “rat” as my husband likes to refer to this recipe with hearty whole grain bread and sprinkled parmesan cheese.  It was our main meal despite being listed as a vegetable side dish.


Vegetables and Side Dishes – Zucchini & Cheese Casserole and Zucchini Fritatta

Julie here–
Zucchini & Cheese Casserole and Zucchini Fritatta
Well, you green thumbs came through in a big way! I got two more huge zucchinis this week, so I pounced on the two zucchini casserole recipes with gusto. Thank you to Naomi P. for donating the zucchinis–and for always being so thoughtful! You can see the size of these suckers when placed next to the nectarines I bought at the store.
I was a little leery of these recipes, to be honest. I mean, I am no stranger to mixing eggs with vegetables. You know me well enough by now to know that rabbit food is sort of my middle name. But I wasn’t sure how shredded zucchini and eggs would work. Since I had SO much zucchini, I decided to improvise with my lunch. I threw some shredded zucchini in a small skillet, let it simmer a bit, and then tossed in one egg, 1/4 c. egg substitute and some low-fat shredded cheese. Man–that was delicious! I was shocked.

Buoyed by that experience, I went after these two recipes. Here’s the mixture of shredded zucchini (which I chopped in my food processor), cheese, and egg.

So I decided to make two zucchini dishes–one with sausage, and one without. The vegetarian ones I’ll have for my lunches this week, so I cooked them in these little dishes. Cute, eh?

These two dishes (both p. 33) are so similar that I decided making them in one afternoon worked perfectly. Here’s the Zucchini Fritatta with the turkey sausage (because of course you know it wouldn’t be real sausage). Shirley Z. recommends cooking this in a 9×13 pan, but I figured my casserole dish would work. So here it is in all its glory.


Vegetables and Side Dishes – Grilled Tomato Halves

Another Book Review

Recently, I wrote about The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, a great nonfiction book for artists of any kind. This next book is called Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is a fictional example of someone who is seriously avoiding her art. One of the main characters is an architect who has avoided designing buildings for almost 20 years.

What happens in the story–and where the title comes from–is that this character cannot deal with reality and feels like she has to run away from her life. All of this avoidance has a root cause: the fact that she had a deeper avoidance of her art. She herself admits that without her art, she becomes a “menace to society.”

Anyway, it’s a great story with a great voice. It’s a conglomeration of different types of documents–emails and faxes from various characters, ship’s logs, memos, etc. All of this works together to tell the story, along with a narrative.

On another note, I heard on the news that the cost of raising a child is going up–big surprise.

A middle-income family with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend about $245,340 for food, shelter and other expenses up to age 18, an increase of 1.8% from 2012, the Agriculture Department said Monday. (USA Today)

Now that we are officially empty nesters, I’m expecting to feel like we’re just swimming in money!

Grilled Tomato Halves

Well, these are easy–and tasty! I had one big tomato leftover from tomato week at the cooking club, so I decided to whip these up (p. 28). Super easy! In order to keep the halves flat, you can thinly slice a piece off the bottom of the tomato so they stay still on the cookie sheet.

photo 2-17

The parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and oregano flavored the tomatoes nicely.

photo 3-16