September 21, 2011

Liven Up the Lunch Box

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Margaret's Morsels | Lillie's Fruit Salad

School may have only been in session a couple of weeks in some parts of the country, but my son's school resumed the beginning of August.  If your child takes lunch everyday, liven up the lunch box by replacing fresh fruit with fruit salad.  The recipe I'm sharing uses fruit most kids love:  apples, bananas and pineapple.

When I was growing up, my mother made a fruit salad that her mother made for her when she was a child.  I make the same salad for my son, the fourth generation to enjoy this salad.  My mother always called it fruit salad but, to distinguish it from my other fruit salad recipes, I call it Lillie's Fruit Salad in honor of my grandmother.

Start by emptying the pineapple with its juice in a mixing bowl.  The pineapple juice will help keep the apples and bananas from turning brown. Now that I own a pineapple slicer, I substitute fresh pineapple when I have one on hand.  If you use fresh pineapple, put some orange juice in the mixing bowl first as a substitute for the pineapple juice.

Margaret's Morsels | Lillie's Fruit Salad
 Fresh pineapple cut into smaller chunks.

I use a Red Delicious apple, but you can use your favorite variety or pair two different varieties for a contrast of taste and texture.  Peel and core the apple, dice it into bite size pieces and put in the mixing bowl with the pineapple.  Slice the bananas into rounds and add them to the mixing bowl.

Margaret's Morsels | Lillie's Fruit Salad
Made with fresh pineapple.

To make sure the fruit doesn't turn brown, cover the mixture with orange juice or an orange juice blend, such as orange pineapple or orange pineapple banana.  These blends work well because the juice enhances the fruit used in the salad.

Margaret's Morsels | Lillie's Fruit Salad

Store the salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  To keep the salad cold in a lunch box, pack it in an insulated container.  If you don't have one, put the salad in an airtight container and use an ice pack in the lunch box.  Ice packs like the ones pictured below are inexpensive and reusable.

Margaret's Morsels | Lillie's Fruit Salad

If you don't have to pack a lunch box, the salad makes a great side dish, snack or dessert.  It's a tasty way to eat a variety of fruit at one time.

Lillie's Fruit Salad
4 to 6 Servings

1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple in its own juice (undrained) or desired amount of fresh pineapple, chopped into small pieces
1 or 2 apples, peeled, cored and diced into bite size pieces (I use 1)
2 bananas, peeled and sliced into rounds
orange juice or orange juice blend (enough to cover)

Empty the pineapple and juice into a mixing bowl.  (If using fresh pineapple, put some orange juice in the bowl first.)  Add the remaining ingredients, stirring to combine.  Keep refrigerated.

© Margaret's Morsels

September 3, 2011

Labor Day Picnic

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Margaret's Morsels | Labor Day Picnic

If Memorial Day marks the start of summer, Labor Day marks the end.  If you're going on a picnic this holiday weekend, here are some recipes that are good picnic fare.  Have fun and remember food safety:  keep hot foods hot; cold foods cold.

Margaret's Morsels | Egg Salad Sandwich

Margaret's Morsels | Easy Stove Top Beans

Margaret's Morsels | Deviled Eggs

Margaret's Morsels | Mini Mason Jar Cakes

Margaret's Morsels | Fruit Tea

© Margaret's Morsels

September 1, 2011

Dinner in a Dash

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Margaret's Morsels | Chinese Casserole

Last week when I posted Pineapple Pointers, I said I'd share a recipe that is delicious with fresh pineapple.  Although pineapple is often paired with pork -- baked ham with pineapple rings, maraschino cherries and a brown sugar glaze comes to mind -- it's also tasty with tuna.

Until I was a teenager, my favorite meal was a casserole my mother made called Chinese Casserole.  I'm not sure how the dish got its name because, other than using soy sauce and rice, there's nothing Chinese about it.

Chinese Casserole is made with everyday ingredients, ready to eat in a little over 30 minutes and, unlike some quick to prepare meals, full of flavor.

The recipe uses what is known in Cajun and Creole cuisine as the "holy trinity:"  onion, celery and green pepper.  

Margaret's Morsels | Chinese Casserole
Onion, celery and frozen chopped green pepper

It's a real time saver to chop and measure the vegetables ahead of time. Store the vegetables together in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When it's time to cook, the time consuming prep work will already be done.

All the ingredients will eventually be combined so use a large 10 or 12-inch skillet.  Saute the onion, celery and bell pepper in a little margarine.  Once they're tender, stir the uncooked rice and sauteed vegetables together.  

Margaret's Morsels | Chinese Casserole

Add the remaining ingredients.  One of the ingredients is a 10 ounce package of frozen green peas.  I can't find that size package anymore so I add about half of a 12 ounce package.  I would add more, but my husband doesn't like green peas.  The extra two ounces won't affect the recipe so you can add the entire package or reduce the amount of green peas to suit your taste.

Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent the rice from sticking.  The easiest way I've found to loosen stuck on rice is with a metal spatula.  Turn the spatula upside down in the skillet and push the rice away from you.  The rice should come right up.  If the rice sticks no matter how much you stir, turn the heat down to medium.

Let the mixture boil for 10 minutes while you continue to stir.  The rice starts cooking which reduces the amount of time the dish has to be baked. Pour the mixture into a greased 2-quart casserole dish and bake at 350° for 20 minutes.

The casserole after it's boiled 10 minutes.

The casserole is delicious served with fresh pineapple, but you can substitute canned pineapple chunks or rings.  Put some garlic bread in the oven at the same time as the casserole and you've got dinner in a dash.

Margaret's Morsels | Chinese Casserole

Chinese Casserole
4 to 6 Servings

1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup diced green pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp. margarine
1 cup rice (uncooked)
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen green peas (unthawed)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 (5 oz.) can chunk tuna (undrained)
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup (undiluted)

Saute the onion, celery and green pepper in margarine until tender.  Stir the rice into the vegetables until thoroughly combined.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.  Transfer the mixture to a greased 2-quart casserole. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.

© Margaret's Morsels