The Firelands Kitchen

The Firelands Kitchen by Erin Howarth

Snow Day Superstitions



As I write this, our plunge into frigid wind chill temperatures continues. There is a hum of excitement here also – we didn’t have school on Friday due to the cold and tonight around 1am snow and ice are expected to move in, accumulating 1-3 inches before 9am and then another inch before noon. Throw some wind in there too and here we have the perfect storm (and timing!) for no school once again. That would make it a glorious four-day weekend!

As you can tell, I’m not yet tired of having my kids home. Yet.

There is a rumor within our school’s student population that you can guarantee yourself a snow day off from school if you do the following the night before: wear your pajamas backwards and inside out, flush an ice cube down the toilet just before bedtime, and sleep with a spoon under your pillow. Huh.

Last school year Courtney, then in second grade, was thinking all of this out and commented to Eric and me, “I bet the people that work at the sewer place laugh about snow days when they watch all the ice cubes float by.” Huh. Not sure that’s how it works, Courtney, but it sure is funny (and a tad gross) to imagine.

This year, now in the third grade, Courtney was excited to discover Just head there to enter your zip code, how many snow days you’ve had so far this school year, and what type of school you attend (public, urban public, rural public, private, etc.) and it’ll tell you the chances of your having a snow day.

I just checked the snow day calculator for our district and the prediction is a 77-percent chance of no school. I think we can safely tell our sewer treatment plant employees, “You’re on ice cube alert!”

Have a great week, everyone!

Company Pork Chop Casserole

6 pork chops

4 potatoes, cooked and cubed

2 (15 ounce) cans green beans, drained

1 1/2 cups milk

4 Tbsp. flour


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly brown the pork chops. Layer half of the chops into a baking dish, top with half of the potatoes and half of the green beans. Repeat. Mix together the milk and flour and pour over the pork chops. Dot with the butter. Bake for 45 minutes or until the chops are tender.

Better Broccoli Casserole

2 cups vegetable broth or water

1 cup quinoa (any color), rinsed under running water in a mesh sieve for a minute and drained

16 ounces broccoli florets, either pre-packaged or sliced from 2 large bunches of broccoli

2 Tbsp. olive oil

3/4 tsp. salt

10 twists of freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, omit if sensitive to spice

8 ounces (about 21/2 cups) freshly grated cheddar cheese, divided

1 cup low-fat milk

1/2 Tbsp. butter or 11/2 tsp. olive oil

1 clove garlic, pressed or minced

1 slice whole wheat bread

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. To cook the quinoa: Bring the vegetable broth or water to boil in a heavy-bottomed, medium-sized pot. Add the quinoa, reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 17 to 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Cover and set aside to steam for 10 minutes. To roast the broccoli: Slice any large broccoli florets in half to make bite-sized pieces. Transfer the broccoli to your prepared baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, until lightly coated on all sides. Sprinkle with salt and arrange in a single layer. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the broccoli is tender and starting to caramelize on the edges. To make the breadcrumbs: Tear your piece of bread into bite-sized pieces and toss them into a food processor or blender. Process until the bread has broken into small crumbs. In a small pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, stirring often. Add the breadcrumbs and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly browned and crisp. Set aside to cool. (If you cooked your bread crumbs in a cast iron skillet, transfer them to a bowl to prevent them from burning.) Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. Add the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to the pot of quinoa, and stir to combine. Set aside 3/4 cup of the cheese for later, then add the rest of the cheese to the pot. Pour in the milk and stir until the cheese and milk are evenly incorporated in the quinoa. Pour the cheesy quinoa into a 9-inch square baking dish and top with the roasted broccoli. Stir until the broccoli is evenly mixed in with the quinoa. Sprinkle the surface of the casserole with the reserved 3/4 cup cheese, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes, until the top is golden. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Pecan Pie Bars

1/2 cup softened butter

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed tight

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

Pie filling:

4 eggs

2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed tightly

1 cup dark corn syrup

1/3 cup molasses

3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 cups pecan halves

Beat together the butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Stir in the flour and baking powder until crumbly. Press the mixture into a buttered 9 x 13 (2-inch) baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in 2/3 cup of brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses and flour. Blend well. Stir in the pecan halves. Pour the pie filling mixture over the hot baked crust. Bake for 25 minutes.

Creamy Corn Soup

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1-1/2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 Tbsp. butter

3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2-1/2 cups milk (whole or semi-skimmed)

1 cup chicken broth

2 (12 ounce) cans whole kernel corn

2 1/2 Tbsp. cream cheese

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Combine the onion, garlic, parsley and butter in a large pot, and set over medium heat. Sauté stirring frequently for approximately 5 minutes or until onions become clear and soft. Sprinkle the flour onto the mixture and stir well, making a thick paste. Once the paste begins to bubble slightly, slowly pour in the milk and broth, whisking continuously to prevent lumps. Add the corn, cream cheese, salt and pepper and stir until the mixture heats through. Using a hand-held blender (immersion blender), puree soup until it reaches a smooth consistency. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Gravy

3 Tbsp. cocoa

1 cup sugar

2 Tbsp. flour

2 cups milk

2 Tbsp. butter

2 tsp. vanilla

In a saucepan, combine cocoa, sugar and flour. Add milk and mix thoroughly. Using medium heat, stir constantly until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. Stir until melted and completely mixed. Serve over hot biscuits (recipe follows).

Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting

2 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

8 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter

1 cup buttermilk

2 Tbsp. salted butter melted to brush on top

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. Transfer to a food processor. Cut butter into cubes and add to flour, then pulse 6 or 7 times until the mixture resembles rough crumbs. (Alternatively, cut butter into flour in the mixing bowl using a grater, fork or a pastry cutter.) Return dough to bowl, add buttermilk and stir with a fork until it forms a rough ball (don’t worry if it is a little sticky). Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll it into a rough rectangle, about an inch thick. Fold it over and gently roll it down again. Repeat 6 times. Gently roll out the dough some more, so that it forms a rectangle. Cut dough into biscuits using a floured glass or biscuit cutter. Do not twist cutter when cutting; this will crimps the edges of the biscuit causing it not to rise. If you have scraps just reform a rectangle and cut additional biscuits. Place biscuits on a baking sheet and place in oven. Bake until golden brown, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Serves 6 to 8. Brush on the melted butter and enjoy!

Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef

1 (16-oz.) package ground pork sausage

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped

1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

2 Tbsp. yellow mustard

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

8 hamburger buns, toasted

Brown beef and sausage with onion and bell pepper in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring 10 minutes or until beef and sausage crumble and are no longer pink. Drain well. Place beef mixture in a 4 1/2-qt. slow cooker. Stir in tomato sauce and next 9 ingredients. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 hours. Serve on hamburger buns. Cooktop Method: Proceed with recipe as directed in Step 1, returning drained beef mixture to Dutch oven. Stir in tomato sauce and next 8 ingredients, omitting flour. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Note: To freeze leftover Sloppy Joe mixture, let cool completely. Place in zip-top plastic freezer bags; lay bags flat, and stack in freezer. Freeze up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the fridge, or defrost in the microwave.

Mac & Cheese Bites

1/2 pound elbow macaroni

2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. flour

1 1/2 cups milk

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar


2 ounces cream cheese

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 egg beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray mini muffin tins with cooking spray. Cook pasta according to package directions and set aside. In a medium size pan combine butter and flour over medium heat. Whisk until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Slowly add milk and bring to a simmer. Add 11/2 cups of the cheese, cream cheese, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth and creamy. Remove from heat. In a large mixing bowl, carefully stir pasta, cheese sauce, and egg until evenly mixed and pasta is evenly coated. Spoon mac and cheese into mini muffin tins and top each with a small pinch of remaining cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool 5 minutes before gently removing the bites.

Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cream of tarter

3 cups flour

1/8 cup cinnamon-sugar blend, premade or make your own

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and beat well. Add salt, baking soda, cream of tarter, and flour and mix until just blended. Spray a 10x15 inch pan with cooking spray. Press dough evenly over pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar and bake for 18 to 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Cool, cut and serve.

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