About Mary Ann

Kitchen Keepers is a blog for sharing good memories, good stories and good recipes. I have been asked to record family recipes which have been favorites for many years, adding to their story every time they are prepared and enjoyed as well as those newcomers which have their own story. Since I believe growing and preparing your own food is not only a pleasure but an art which is worthy of passing on, I am pleased to begin. Gathering around our table has been so much more than providing physical nourishment for me. For as we gather, whatever the table shape may be, we form a circle, a place of conversation and knowing and caring. Expressing our gratitude for the provision of food and family, giving thanks for bread and baker, we enter a sacred space. .

Hamburger Soup

This recipe exists in many variations, born of both the yearning for a bowl of good hot soup on chilly days and the habit of checking pantry and refrigerator and producing a nourishing meal out of what is often kept as staples in a well used kitchen. We recently enjoyed a large pot of this soup, had some for lunch the next day, and put the rest into the freezer for a quick meal when needed. Ree Drummond in her blog The Pioneer Woman, calls her version of this soup Hamburger Soup. It is delicious with any name. Try varying the vegetables and spices. This recipe makes a large amount, so plan to share or freeze a batch.

Hamburger Soup

  • 3 pounds Ground Chuck
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Diced
  • 6 stalks Celery, Diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 can or box (26 – 28 ounce) Can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups Beef Stock Or Beef Broth, Plus More As Needed
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 6 whole Carrots, Peeled And Sliced On The Diagonal
  • 5 Potatoes, peeled and cut Into Chunks
  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt (more To Taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper, More To Taste
  • 2 teaspoons Dried Parsley Flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Dried Basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (more To Taste)

In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the meat.. Remove from heat and drain excess fat.  Add onion, celery, and garlic and stir. Return the pot to heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then cover the pot and simmer the soup for 15-20 more minutes, until potatoes are fork tender

Soup should be thick, but if you like,  add 1 to 2 cups more broth and heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt if needed.

Serve with corn bread muffins.

At Table

The table, before being a piece of furniture, marks an existential experience and a rite. It is the foremost place of the family, of communion and kinship. Meals are shared; there is the joy of gathering, of well-being without pretense, and of direct communion, which translates into uncensored commentary on daily activities and local, national, and international news.

A meal is more than just something material. It is the sacrament of reunion and communion. The food is appreciated and is the object of praise. The greatest joy of the cook is to note the satisfaction of the diners.

But we should recognize that the table is also a place of tensions and conflicts, where matters are debated openly, where differences are spelled out and agreements can be established, where disturbing silences also exist that reveal a collective malaise. Contemporary culture has so changed the sense of daily time as a result of work and productivity that it has weakened the symbolic sense of the table. This has been set aside for Sundays or special moments such as birthdays or anniversaries when family members and friends get together. But, as a general rule, it has ceased to be the fixed point of convergence of the family. Unfortunately, the table has been substituted by fast food, a quick meal that makes nutrition possible but not table fellowship.

Table fellowship is so crucial that it is linked to the very essence of the human being as human. … Ethno-biologists and archaeologists call our attention to an interesting fact: when our anthropoid ancestors went out to gather fruit and seeds, to hunt and to fish, they did not eat individually what they were able to collect. They took the food and brought it to the group. And thus they practiced table fellowship – distributing the food among themselves and eating as a group.

Therefore, table fellowship, which assumes solidarity and cooperation with one another, enabled the first leap from animality to humanity. It was only a beginning step, but a decisive one, because it initiated a basic characteristic of the human species that sets it apart from most other species – table fellowship, solidarity, and cooperation in the act of eating. And that small distinction makes all the difference.

That table fellowship that made us human yesterday continues to renew us as human beings today. Therefore it is important to set aside time for the meal in its full meaning of table fellowship and free and disinterested conversation. It is one of the permanent sources of renewal for today’s anemic humanity.


From Called to Community: The Life Jesus Wants for His People chapter forty-two.

As written by Leonardo Boff, “Table Fellowship: Rebuilding Humanity,” trans. Anne Fullerton, April 18, 2008, http://www.leonardoboff.com.

 

Breakfast casseroles are one of our favorite meals – for breakfast, or for a “breakfast for dinner” meal. When space is limited in the refrigerator or I have not had time to prepare the night before, this is a good last minute casserole to assemble. I do not trim bread crusts, and stack the slices of bread to cut into cubes so getting this ready to go into the oven is quick!

Maple Sausage and Egg Bake

1 lb. maple flavored pork sausage

6 slices white bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

6 eggs

2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook sausage in a skillet over medium heat, stirring until it crumbles and is no longer pink then drain. Place bread cubes in a lightly greased 9″ X 13″ baking pan. Sprinkle bread evenly with cheese, and top with sausage. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, dry mustard and Tabasco sauce and pour evenly over sausage mixture. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until set in the center.

Lemon Tahini Dip

After using part of a jar of Tahini making hummus (posted previously), I looked for a way to use the remainder. I experimented with a recipe I found and made this dip to serve as an appetizer before last week’s family chili supper. Any combination of sliced vegetables is a beautiful addition. Delicious!

Lemon Tahini Dip

1/2 cup tahini

1 cup Greek yogurt

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

juice of 2 lemons

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon honey

1/4 cup water

teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all ingredients, except olive oil, in a blender or food processor container. Blend or process till smooth. Remove to a bowl and stir olive oil in by hand. Serve with fresh vegetables, crackers, or pita chips. If, after being refrigerated, the dip is too thick , it can be thinned with a bit of water. This is also good as a salad dressing if you add water or lemon juice until desired consistency.

Parker Hummus

Parker Hummus

Roasted Tomato Soup

 

September 1 seems like a day to begin thinking cooler weather and autumnal foods. Although our South Texas temperatures won’t change significantly for a while, there is a barely perceptible change in light and in leaf colors. I like soup any time of year, but it is a favorite as we change calendar pages and look forward to cooler days. This recipe for tomato soup is a new one for me. It is thick, rich, and definitely one I will cook again soon. I found the original recipe in a cookbook Joe gave me in 2010 published by the Junior League of Houston titled Peace Meals, A Book of Recipes for Cooking and Connecting. Isn’t that a wonderful title?

My version is here:

Roasted Tomato Soup

2 cups beef broth, divided

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

6 Tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 cups chopped onion

8 garlic cloves, minced

4 28 ounce cans fire roasted whole tomatoes, drained

1/ 1/2 cups half and half

freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. In a small bowl, mix 1 cup of the beef froth, sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. Spray two 9 X 13 baking dishes with cooking spray. Divide onions, garlic, and tomatoes between the 2 dishes. Pour half the broth mixture over each, then place dishes into oven for 50 minutes or until beginning to brown. Pour the remaining cup of broth and the half and half over the roasted tomatoes, dividing equally. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Working in batches ( no more than half the blender jar due to the heat of the mixture), puree the tomato mixture in a blender until smooth. Add each batch to a stock pot, heating gently over medium heat.  Add freshly ground pepper to each bowl as the soup is served. If desired, garnish with chopped fresh basil.

Cantaloupe 5 Ways

Summertime in Texas encourages cool meals. We have been thankful that so far hurricane season has not produced bad storms in our area. Rain has been unpredictable – flash floods in Houston and only a few showers here and there for us. So it is dry and unbearably hot. Air conditioning helps, and so does having cold foods on the table for meals. Salads are included often. Also, melons are favorites in our family, Watermelon and cantaloupe are part of my earliest childhood memories of summer in Texas. Both sets of my grandparents grew melons at one time so we had plenty. I can close my eyes and taste the sweetness of fresh melon, even the sensation of their juices dripping on my chin!  When Joe and I were growing up in East Texas, both watermelon and cantaloupe got a sprinkling of salt before we ate them. My family even added pepper to sliced cantaloupe.

The cantaloupe slices above are special because they grew in our own garden. All these years later, I have learned to love the taste of a squeeze of lime juice on melons, and like to serve them in a variety of ways as an addition to meals. You can always add melon to a breakfast smoothie, but consider trying  –

  1. Cantaloupe wrapped in a thin slice of prosciutto – wonderful with Italian food.
  2. Cantaloupe, watermelon, and other fresh fruits like peaches or pineapple, sprinkled with a spicy seasoning like Penzey’s Pico Fruta. The spice and heat makes the sweet of the melon even more mouth watering.
  3. Coarsely chopped fresh melon and berries drizzled with poppy seed dressing.
  4. Chopped melon along with kiwi slices scattered on top of whipped cream on a dessert Pavlova.
  5. Chunks of melon as a surprise element in green salads. One recipe is below.

Spinach Salad with Melon and Mint

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon sesame seeds

1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

2 Tablespoons honey

1 (10 ounce) bag baby spinach leaves

2 cups cubed seeded watermelon

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In a small bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, vegetable oil, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and honey. Set aside.In a large serving bowl, combine the spinach, watermelon, onion, pecans and mint. Toss with the dressing just before serving.

 

 

Snickerdoodles

 

While most of the requests for cookies in our family are for Chocolate Chip, Joe talks about 2 favorite cookies – Molasses and Snickerdoodles. I don’t think I have ever made Molasses cookies that taste as good as he remember the ones his Aunt Sally made, and I have not made Snickerdoodles in a long time. Recently I decided I needed to make his favorites more often. But to be honest, the ones in this pictures were destined to send to church for the VBS kids last week. I saved enough for him though! Recipes are everywhere for this old-fashioned cookie with a strange name. My Treasures from the Bend cookbook published  by the Ford Bend Junior Service League includes a comment about the history of the cookie.

(No one knows exactly where this whimsical name originated, but similar recipes date back to ancient Rome and were popular in medieval and Renaissance Europe. Eighteenth and nineteenth century American cookbooks contain similar recipes for “jumbles.” Some suggest that the “snicker” portion of the name comes from the Dutch “snekrad” or the German “Schnecke,” both meaning a snail-like shape.)

Snickerdoodles

2 3/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 Tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix flour, cream of tartar, soda, and salt together. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with butter and blend. Add eggs and mix until smooth. Add dry ingredients and mix well to form a dough. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll balls in mixture of the cinnamon and 2 Tablespoons sugar. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Remove from oven and cool on rack. Makes 4 to 5 dozen.

 

Marinated Vegetable Salad

Summertime is a good time for grilling. This marinated salad keeps well for several days in the refrigerator, and is a delicious side for any grilled meat, chicken, or fish. Don’t let the long list of ingredients discourage trying it. There is little preparation involved other than some minor chopping and opening the variety of canned vegetables.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

Note:  all canned ingredients need to be drained before adding.

1 red onion, sliced

1 cup sun dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped

15 oz. can petite green peas

15 oz. can white corn

15 oz. can french style green beans

15 oz. can bean sprouts

12 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts

10 oz. can bamboo shoots

10 oz. can sliced water chestnuts

12 oz. jar marinated roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives

1 bottle Italian salad dressing, or make your own with oil, herbs, and vinegar.

Combine all ingredients except salad dressing in large bowl with lid. Toss well.

Add salad dressing and toss lightly to coat. Refrigerate several hours or overnight, tossing or turning bowl occasionally. Keeps well and is a great addition to potlucks.

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken with Lemon Butter and Sundried Tomato Sauce

Dressing up grilled chicken is easy. The hard part is deciding which great recipe to use. I recently overheard a comment about Chicken Bryan, a dish served at Carraba’s Italian restaurants. When I researched online, I found numerous versions. We keep most of these ingredients in our pantry or in our garden.  Flavors of the melted goat cheese and tangy sauce made this a new favorite.

Chicken topped with Goat Cheese, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Lemon Butter Sauce


1 small yellow onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons butter for saute of onions and garlic, more added later to sauce

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2/3 cup cold butter, sliced

1 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

extra virgin olive oil (for brushing chicken)

8 ounces goat cheese, room temperature, cut into 6 thick slices

Saute garlic and onion in 2 Tbsp. butter in a large saute pan over medium heat until tender. Stir in wine and lemon juice, increase heat to medium high, and simmer until reduced by half.

Reduce heat to low and stir in cold butter, one slice at a time. Stir in tomatoes, basil, kosher salt, and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

Brush chicken breasts with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Grill chicken and remove from heat. Immediately place equal amounts of cheese on each chicken breast. Spoon prepared sun-dried tomato sauce over chicken. Serve with pasta.