Soft and Chewy Dinner Rolls

Soft and Chewy Dinner Rolls are our go-to dinner rolls for everything from Sunday dinner to Thanksgiving. These rolls are the only reason I have instant mashed potatoes in my pantry. We are strictly a mashed-potatoes-from-scratch family, otherwise. This recipe is worth keeping the instant around, however. They are easy to put together, not too time consuming for a yeast dough, and tasty enough for special occasions. I rarely make any other roll to go with my dinners.

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Rhode Island Style Clam Chowder

Rhode Island Style Clam Chowder is ingenious because it’s the creamy-style clam chowder, but the broth is thickened by pureed potato rather than flour or dairy. You almost don’t miss it. In a blind taste test, you would be able to detect a difference, but at the end of the day, you feel better for eating it. We usually use regular bacon instead of Canadian bacon, and sometimes we add chopped carrot, but the recipe is great just as written, too.

Easy Wesson Oil Pie Crust

Easy Wesson Oil Pie Crust is the only pie crust I ever use. It works, with no alterations, for both sweet and savory applications, everything from baked brie and chicken pot pie to Neely’s Strawberry Pie. It does call for milk, but I know from experimentation that it doesn’t matter what kind of milk you use. I have used rice milk, almond milk, soy milk, vanilla flavored soy milk, coconut milk beverage, goat’s milk and cow’s milk for this and you can’t detect any difference in the finished product. What I especially love about this recipe is that it is so easy. You don’t have to figure out how much liquid to add; you just dump it together and stir. If you mess up rolling it out the first time, you can just roll it out again. It’s not nearly as finicky as traditional solid-fat pie crust, and as a result, the finished product is often better because not so much relies on user error.

If you are using a large Pyrex pie plate, you may need to double this for a two-crust pie.

Neely’s Strawberry Pie

Neely’s Strawberry Pie is the only recipe I have ever seen for a baked strawberry pie. Most recipes that I see are refrigerator Jello and Cool Whip monstrosities. Until I saw this recipe, I wasn’t even sure that baked strawberry pie was a thing. Apparently, it is. I have used both fresh and frozen strawberries in this pie and it works great both ways. I just extend the baking time a bit if the strawberries are frozen. You can also assemble your pie and freeze it raw, pulling out of the freezer later for baking. I bought a stack of cheap metal pie plates for this reason. You bake it from the frozen state, again, extending the baking time. You can freeze your pie in a Pyrex plate as well, but it’s a good idea to put it into a cold oven so that you don’t shock your Pyrex and cause it to break. If my strawberries are large, whether fresh or frozen, I like to cut them in half. For the crust, I always use Easy Wesson Oil Pie Crust, rather than the Neely’s recipe. I don’t break the top crust into circles as the recipe pictures; I like my top crust in one piece.

Real Texas Chile Con Carne

Real Texas Chile Con Carne is truly a labor of love. It takes nearly an hour to put together initially, and then it cooks in the oven for another three. That said, it makes a big pot of food, so it’s great for large gatherings of family and/or friends. We have done this both as written and with ground beef and it is delicious either way. We serve it with Sweet Cornbread, over baked potatoes or as the chili component in chili dogs, always to rave reviews. Since finding this recipe, we have never made chili any other way.

Drinking Vinegar

Drinking Vinegar, if you aren’t familiar with the term, is a fruit-infused vinegar-based drink that is sweetened and topped off with plain seltzer. You have to start it a week before you want to drink it, and what you don’t use right away must be refrigerated, but once it’s a part of your routine you just might find that you always have a batch or two around. For the sweetener, we use about 1/2 cup of granulated sugar per every 2 cups of fruit/vinegar mixture. You can use less than that if you don’t have a real sweet tooth, or if you plan to mix it with soda that is already sweet. Right now in my refrigerator I have pineapple and apple, and I have a new batch of cherry started on the kitchen counter. We have also tried strawberry, blackberry and raspberry. The strangest experiment we tried was Thai basil, and it has become one of my favorites; it goes great with Thai curry. You can drink it as a refreshing, slightly healthier alternative to soda pop, or you can add rum, tequila or vodka for an easy cocktail.

Thai Peanut Sauce

Thai Peanut Sauce is a spicy-sweet peanuty dipping sauce that is incredibly versatile. It is good with egg rolls and lumpia–whether homemade or store-bought–crunchy cucumbers and carrot sticks, fried tofu, and chicken or shrimp satay. We also use it as the base sauce for our Thai chicken pizza, although I’m sure that has some Thai grandmother somewhere rolling in her grave. If you have an Asian grocery near you, go there to buy your coconut milk and curry paste. You will find lower prices and higher-quality products. Coconut milk bought in an Asian grocery where I live will be less than half the cost of coconut milk purchased in a traditional grocery store. For the curry paste, I love the Maesri brand. For my family, I reduce the curry paste to 2 tablespoons. I find the “red curry paste” tend to be hotter than the “panang curry paste,” although they’re quite similar. Leftover curry paste will keep in the refrigerator in a plastic or glass container for quite a while, just remember to label what variety it is. I like texture, so I always use crunchy peanut butter, rather than the creamy that the recipe calls for.