Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Family Cookbook Project

If you are my son or daughter reading this, stop. I mean it. Close the browser window, navigate away. Seriously. Thank you.

Are they gone? Good. They would have spoiled their Christmas gifts. For the rest of you, I want to share my current obsession inspiration (which will ultimately culminate in said offspring's presents).

You know how we all have certain recipes in each of our families that are our old standbys, our favorites, our kids' favorites, or our specialties? And as we live as a family that body of recipes grows and solidifies. But those recipes are either in our (and only our) heads, or scattered among six or seven different cookbooks, or scribbled on a napkin shoved in one of those six or seven different recipe books.

I decided, now that my children are young adults, to create one recipe book that holds all our family favorites for them. I think this is a great gift for young people starting out on their own so they have directions right at their fingertips for making their mom's chicken salad, their grandmother's egg pancake, and the cake they delighted in making as little children. It also helps that my son, daughter and I have always cooked together a lot and experimented in the kitchen.

So my latest project has been compiling our old standby recipes from those six or seven different cookbooks and out of my head, typing them up, photographing the ones I can, and uploading them to a recipe book site in the coming months. There are a number of different sites that let you create your own recipe books, but I have decided I will use TasteBook. I like the professional look of their books, their chapter and table of contents organization, and that they come in expandable binders so you can add recipes. And you can upload your own photos. I love photographing food but have never seemed to actually photograph the food from our usual family dinners, so this will be a challenge for me. I'm always up for a challenge.

In working on this project, I have also been happy to note that it has renewed my pleasure in cooking which was in a cooking-for-one-slump (it is not nearly as much fun to cook for one as it is to cook for a family, or even for two).

I leave you with a gift of your own - a few of our favorite recipes. Enjoy!

Wheelie Ham Salad
We used to have this a lot when my children were little.
Leave time for salad to chill.

4 oz. dried wagon wheels pasta
4 oz. cooked lean ham, cut into bite size pieces
1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
2 Tbs sliced green onion (optional)
1/3 bottled reduced-fat ranch salad dressing
2 Tbs plain low-fat yogurt
1 tsp dried basil, crushed
¾ cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

In a large sauce pan, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Rinse with cold water. Rinse again. In a large bowl combine cooked pasta, ham, zucchini and, if desired, green onion.
For dressing, in a small bowl stir together salad dressing, yogurt and basil. Pour dressing over pasta mixture. Toss lightly to coat. Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours. Before serving, gently stir tomatoes into pasta mixture. 


Makes 4 sandwiches
2 Tbs butter or margarine
4 Tbs honey mustard
8 waffles, such as Eggos, lightly toasted
½ lb. deli-sliced smoked ham
½ lb. deli-sliced baby Swiss cheese
¾ cup whole berry cranberry sauce

Lightly toast frozen waffles. In skillet, melt butter or margarine over medium heat. Spread cranberry sauce generously on one side of 4 waffles. Top with 2 slices ham and 2 slices baby Swiss cheese. Spread honey mustard on one side of 4 waffles and turn that waffle onto the ham and cheese waffle to make the sandwich. Fry the assembled sandwiches in melted butter for a few minutes on each side until they are deeply golden in color and the cheese melts.

Teryn’s Thai Chicken Wraps
Teryn’s yummy specialty!
Makes 6 servings

¼ cup sugar
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tbs soy sauce
3 Tbs water
2 Tbs cooking oil
1 tsp bottled minced garlic
6  8”-10” green, red, or plain flour tortillas
½ tsp garlic salt
¼ to ½ tsp pepper
12 oz. skinless boneless chicken breast strips for stir-frying
1 Tbs cooking oil
4 cups packaged shredded broccoli (broccoli slaw mix)
1 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges
1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1.      For peanut sauce, in a small saucepan combine sugar, peanut butter, soy sauce, water and the 2 Tbs cooking oil and garlic. Heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring frequently. Set aside.
2.      Wrap tortillas in foil. Bake in a 350° oven for about 10 minutes or until heated and softened. Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl combine garlic salt and pepper. Add chicken, tossing to coat evenly.
3.      In a large skillet heat the 1 Tbs oil. Cook and stir seasoned chicken in hot oil over medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until cooked through. Remove chicken from skillet; keep warm. Add broccoli, onion and ginger to skillet. Cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes until vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove from heat.
4.      To assemble, spread each tortilla with about 1 Tbs of the peanut sauce. Top with chicken strips and vegetable mixture. Roll up each tortilla, securing with a wooden toothpick. Serve immediately with remaining sauce.