The Firelands Kitchen

The Firelands Kitchen by Erin Howarth

A Happy Mailbox This Week...



Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy when readers submit recipes along with a personal note? Thank you, Dorothy, for doing just that this week. You and your recipes, brightened my week.

How are everyone’s Christmas preparations going? We have several Christmas plays/programs/performances coming up for the girls. Sadie is in a choir concert and Courtney is in her school program along with the Christmas play at church.

We also plan on heading up to Akron with some dear friends to take in the lights at the zoo. We’ll eat dinner at Luigi’s while we are there. If you are ever in the mood for Italian while you’re in Akron, Luigi’s is the place to go.

I am nearly finished with Christmas shopping but, oh my, the wrapping. I have a tradition with wrapping, you see. Each year on November 25 I declare to myself that I will wrap presents as I buy them. And each year on December 20 I declare to myself, “Oh shoot, that plan didn’t happen.” Holiday traditions are the best, are they not?

Have a great week, everyone!


Almost Pizza Casserole

Submitted by Dorothy

Newswanger, Shiloh, Ohio

7 cups cooked and shredded potatoes

1 lb. ground beef, browned and seasoned

2 cups white sauce (recipe below)

1 cup pizza sauce

Favorite pizza toppings

1 1/2 cups shredded cheese

White Sauce:

2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. flour

1 tsp. salt

2 cups milk

Mix and cook till thick.

Put potatoes in bottom of casserole dish. Pour white sauce over potatoes. Add ground beef and pizza sauce on top. Bake at 350 degrees  for 40-45 minutes. Top with toppings and cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer. This recipe freezes well. Make it a couple weeks before you’ll need it and stick it in the freezer and you’ll have a handy meal to just pop in the oven!

Ice Cream Cake Dessert

Submitted by

Dorothy Newswanger

Shiloh, Ohio

Layer 1:

1 chocolate cake, divided

Divide cake into two 9x13-inch pans. Chill.

Layer 2:

6 oz. or 3/4 cup instant vanilla pudding

2 quarts vanilla ice cream

Mix well and spread on cake.

Layer 3:

Cool Whip

Chocolate syrup

Peanuts, chopped

Spread Cool Whip over top, drizzle with syrup, sprinkle with peanuts. Cut in squares to serve. This cake keeps well in freezer. Delicious!

Bacon and Egg Cups

12 eggs

12 pieces bacon

1 Tbsp. chopped chives

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees . Cook bacon for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from pan while still pliable, not crisp. Cool on paper towels. Grease your muffin tins.

Put one piece of bacon in each hole, wrapping it around to line the sides. Crack the eggs in each hole. Top with chopped chives. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cook for about 12-15 minutes or until bacon is crisp. Watch closely.

Holiday Cranberry Jalapeno Dip

12 oz. fresh, uncooked cranberries

1/4 cup green onion

1-2 fresh jalapeno peppers

2 Tbsp. cilantro (optional)

3/4 to 1 cup sugar (according to taste)

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/8 tsp. salt

16 oz. cream cheese (whipped)

Use hand food chopper to chop cranberries. (This process is a bit time consuming, but it is best to not use a food processor to chop these as the cranberries liquify too much.) Chop green onion, jalapeno peppers and cilantro.

In a medium-sized bowl, add chopped cranberries, green onion, cilantro and jalapenos.

Add sugar, lemon juice and salt on top of cranberry mixture and stir gently until blended.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.

Take cranberry mixture out of the refrigerator and stir all ingredients together. Strain out all liquid using a colander with small holes.

Whip softened cream cheese with hand mixer until smooth (about 2 minutes) and spread cream cheese over bottom of a pie plate or 9x9 dish.

Pour cranberry mixture atop cream cheese and keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Use a spoon to spread over crackers and enjoy!

Creamy White Christmas Punch

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup hot water

3 oz. (6 Tbsp.) evaporated milk

1/2- 1 tsp. almond extract

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream

1 2-liter bottle of 7UP

Whipped cream and sprinkles (optional)

Combine sugar and water in a small glass bowl. Heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds or till sugar is dissolved. Cool and stir in evaporated milk and almond extract. Pour into a large punch bowl and add vanilla ice cream. Use a potato masher to break ice cream into small chunks. Slowly stir in the 7UP.

Spoon into serving glasses. Garnish with whipped cream and sprinkles if desired. Serve immediately.

Onion-Braised Beef Brisket

1 5-6 pound first cut (a.k.a. flat cut) beef brisket, trimmed so a thin layer of fat remains in some spots (do not over-trim)

1 heaping Tbsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

1-1/2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

8 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick

3 Tbsp. tomato paste

3 cloves garlic

6 carrots, peeled and halved

Handful fresh chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)

Set on oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees .

Season the brisket on both sides with salt and pepper. Lightly dust the brisket with the flour, then shake and turn to coat evenly. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy flameproof roasting pan or oven proof enameled cast-iron pot just large enough to hold the brisket and carrots snugly. Add the brisket to the pan and sear on both sides until crusty brown areas appear on the surface here and there, 5 to 7 minutes per side.

Transfer the brisket to a platter, then add the onions to the pot and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Cook until the onions are softened and golden brown, about 15 minutes. (If browned bits stick to the bottom of the pan and start to burn, add a few tablespoons of water and scrape with a wooden spoon to release them.)

Turn off the heat and place the brisket, fatty side up, and any accumulated juices on top of the onions. Spread the tomato paste evenly over the brisket, then scatter the garlic and carrots around the edges of the pot. Cover the pot very tightly with aluminum foil (preferably heavy duty or two layers) or a lid, then transfer to the oven and cook for 1-1/2 hours.

Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and, using an electric or very sharp knife, slice the meat across the grain into approximately 1/8 - 1/4-inch-thick slices. Return the slices to the pot, overlapping them at an angle so that you can see a bit of the top edge of each slice. The end result should resemble the original unsliced brisket leaning slightly backward. Check the seasonings and correct if necessary. If the sauce appears dry, add 2 to 3 teaspoons of water to the pot. Cover the pot tightly and return to the oven.

Lower the heat to 325 degrees F and cook the brisket until it is fork-tender, 1-3/4 to 2-1/2 hours, or longer if necessary. Check once or twice during cooking to make sure that the liquid is not bubbling away. If it is, add a few more teaspoons of water-but not more. Also, each time you check, spoon some of the liquid on top of the roast so that it drips down between the slices. It is ready to serve with its juices, but, in fact, it's even better the second day. Serves 8-10.

Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The brisket can be frozen for up to 3 months. To reheat, defrost it in the refrigerator for 24 hours then cover it tightly with foil and reheat in a 300 degrees F oven until hot, at least 30 minutes.

Roasted Green Beans with Cranberries and Walnuts

2 pounds fresh green beans, stem ends trimmed

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into quarters

1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. lemon zest, from one lemon

2 tsp. lemon juice, from one lemon

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees  and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place the walnuts on the prepared baking sheet and bake until fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on the nuts so they don't burn. When cool enough to handle, transfer the nuts to a cutting board and coarsely chop. Place the foil back on the baking sheet (you'll use it for the green beans) and increase the oven

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temperature to 450 degrees  

Place the cranberries in a small heatproof bowl. Cover the cranberries with boiling water and set aside.

Directly on the foil-lined baking sheet, use a rubber spatula to toss the green beans with the olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and sugar. Roast the green beans for 15 minutes, then stir with a spatula to promote even cooking. Continue roasting until the beans are tender, slightly browned and just starting to shrivel, about 10 minutes more.

Drain the cranberries.

Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, drained cranberries, and toasted walnuts to the green beans. Toss well, then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Homestyle Slow Cooker

No-Boil Mashed Potatoes

5 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces

32 oz. chicken broth (reduced sodium is best)

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), divided

8 oz cream cheese, softened and cubed

1/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature

1/2 tsp. onion powder (optional)

1/2 tsp. garlic powder (optional)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Grease sides of slow cooker insert lightly with butter, then add chopped potatoes. Top with onion powder and garlic powder, then pour in chicken broth.

Cube 1 of the sticks of butter and place cubes around the tops of the potatoes. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 1/2 - 4 hours.

Drain potatoes then place back in the crock pot. Add remaining stick of butter (cubed), cream cheese, heavy cream and salt and pepper. Start with 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper and adjust from there.

Use a potato masher to mash potatoes until mashed to your desired consistency, using a bit more heavy cream if needed.

Serve right away, or cover and set to warm setting for a few hours.

Notes: All slow cookers cook a little differently, so to tell if your potatoes are done cooking, open the lid and pierce a potato chunk with a fork. You're looking for the fork to slide into the potato easily.

(Yukon gold potatoes can be used instead of russets.)

Waxier potatoes like red or white potatoes have the potential to become a bit gluey when mashed, so use at your discretion.

Christmas Fudge

Chocolate Fudge Layer:

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 of a 14-ounce can full-fat sweetened condensed milk

2 Tbsp. marshmallow crème

White Fudge Layer:

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

1/2 of a 14-ounce can full-fat sweetened condensed milk

2 Tbsp. marshmallow creme

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 cup red/green sprinkles, plus a few more sprinkles or nonpareils for the top

Line an 8-inch square pan with foil (leaving a good overhang on all sides), and spray lightly with nonstick spray.

Prepare the chocolate fudge layer: In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and marshmallow creme and heat over medium heat. Stir constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon as the chips melt. Once the mixture is melted and smooth, remove from heat and scrape into the prepared pan- spreading to create an even layer. Set aside.

Prepare the white fudge layer: In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the white chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and marshmallow creme and heat over medium heat. Stir constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon as the chips melt. Once the mixture is melted and smooth, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Then quickly stir in the 1/3 cup sprinkles. Don't stir too much or they will begin to melt into the mixture. Scrape the mixture on top of the fudge layer- spreading to create an even layer. Sprinkle a few additional sprinkle or nonpareils on top, if desired.

Refrigerate for 4 hours, or until set. Once set, remove the fudge from the pan by lifting it out of the pan with the foil overhang and then peeling the foil off and discarding. Set the fudge on a cutting board and cut into small pieces. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze in a well-sealed container until ready to munch. Makes 64 pieces.


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