Sunday, June 14, 2015

Miracle Whip Chicken

Miracle Whip chicken with a side of pasta salad

     Have you ever had a recipe that really turned out well, was simple to make, but you kept forgetting about it? Miracle Whip chicken is a recipe that my husband and I really like, but had forgotten about it for so long that our children don't even remember ever having it. I'm sure that part of the reason is because I never have Miracle Whip in the house to remind me.
     When it comes to mayonnaise products, there seems to be two main camps: the traditional mayo folks and the Miracle Whip folks. I have to tell you up front, we are definitely NOT Miracle Whip people. One of my first experiences with the stuff was at a friend's house in high school. I was offered a sandwich and asked if I wanted mayonnaise on it. I gratefully bit into a sandwich only to discover that I had been unintentionally duped. I managed to politely finish my sandwich with a "What is the name of this sandwich spread?" I felt betrayed. I managed to avoid the stuff for years.
    Several years after Scott and I were married, someone gave us a small jar of the spread with some other things (I can't remember why), and I was determined not to waste it. I found this recipe on the side of the jar and decided to give it a try. No one was more surprised than we were when we really liked this chicken! Miracle Whip is tangy (which I do not like on my sandwich) but it works well with the combination of Parmesan cheese and oregano. I will actually purchase Miracle Whip ON PURPOSE to make this yummy chicken dish. The pasta salad, on the other hand, will always get REAL mayonnaise!  I Googled the recipe and found a few varieties. The one below is my favorite version.

Chicken (we used about twenty thighs)
1 1/2 cups Miracle Whip
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese (not the powdery stuff you put on your spaghetti - the real, shredded kind)
About 1/4 cup dried oregano
*Notice how you use the same amount of Miracle Whip as cheese, so this is a very easy recipe to decrease or increase in proportion. You want to be able to see the oregano flakes in your "glop" but you don't want it to take over. I held off on the salt because of all the salty Parmesan, but I always have it available on the table if needed.

   We were bringing this to my in-laws house and I kept forgetting to take pictures, but it is really simple.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Combine all the ingredients.
Spread a good dollop onto each piece of chicken and spread it around with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 45 minutes or even an hour for larger pieces.

The above recipe made enough to top two casserole dishes full of chicken thighs.

This recipe does seem to produce a lot of liquid with the combination of the water from the chicken and the oil from the Miracle Whip, so make sure your baking dish isn't too shallow. I actually used the olive oil version of Miracle Whip in this particular recipe to reduce calories, but Scott and I agree the flavor is more intense with the regular kind. If you are concerned about calories, however, the olive oil version is still very good! Everyone liked it!

This is actually our cooled, leftover chicken consolidated into a drained baking dish. I forgot to take a picture right out of the oven.  Too busy visiting family!

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he had denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Wonderful Scrambled Egg Surprise

     Have to share! Yesterday on my news feed I came across a recipe for super creamy scrambled eggs (link is below). I glanced over it and decided to give it a try. I already knew that one of the secrets to really good scrambled eggs was removing them from the heat before they were completely finished. Although they aren't supposed to be runny, if you take them off of the heat just a wee bit too moist, they'll finish up on the plate nicely for you and come out creamy instead of dry and rubbery.
      Sometimes I would add milk, sometimes not. In this recipe, the secret is a little bit of cornstarch whisked into a little bit of milk. Add this mixture to your scrambled egg mixture and then cook over medium heat (they started with high heat for their butter technique below, and yes, someday when I am skinny I will try this). As I said, this recipe calls for butter, which I can only imagine tastes wonderfully, but I am watching calories, so I just added salt and pepper. They also continually stir them off of the heat in this recipe, but I avoided that because I didn't have hot, melted butter in the pan to help cook them (I used Pam). Typically, over-stirring can make your eggs a bit mealy, so be careful. Move them gently as pictured; do not "scramble" them again while you stir. Another thing I agree with is to leave them alone in the pan for a few seconds before you start moving them around.  Scott and I had these this morning (sans butter) while the kids ate their blueberry biscuits (Thanks, Martha White). My husband and I immediately noticed the improvement! Seriously, these were some GOOD scrambled eggs. I can only imagine what the addition of butter would create. I traveled from kid to kid and had each one sample my creation (another way to save calories, I guess) and each one smiled (except for Harrison - he doesn't smile much in the morning) and said "Those are good!" Hayden doesn't even care for scrambled eggs and she liked them. To see the measurements and pictures, click the link below. Seriously, you'll be impressed.

Additional note: Made these eggs again for my kids the next day according to the original directions (with the butter). I used six eggs and doubled the entire recipe. I do not recommend doubling the butter. Although Joey thought they were heavenly, they were a little greasy. I would keep the butter around 4 tablespoons instead of 6 when doubling. They also need to stay in the frying pan a little longer than the recommended five extra seconds before removing from the heat. No big deal. If too under-cooked, just throw back onto the heat for a few seconds. I did sneak a little taste.  Wow. Really good!

"Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?"
Luke 11:12


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Spring Lowcountry Heritage Ball 2015

A family portrait before the ball begins

     On May 8th, we had our biannual heritage ball. We always look forward to this opportunity to spend a wonderful evening of dancing and fellowship! The attendees are mostly homeschooling families who share friendship and common values. This is a great way for young people to meet others in a well-chaperoned and modest atmosphere. The dancing does not involve close physical contact and requires well-mannered behavior. The attendees attend as families or are accompanied by an adult family member or friend.  
     The dances are fun and vary from slow and formal to energetic and casual. All ladies must be escorted to the floor by her partner, and if a young lady refuses a dance to a young man (usually because she needs a break), she does not dance that dance with someone else. If a young man spots a young lady standing around in need of a partner, he is encouraged to ask her for a dance. Sometimes a young man must lay down his refreshment plate and forego a break in the name of chivalry! The men bow and the ladies curtsy before each dance begins, and unless a couple is married, the attendees must dance with a variety of partners.  
       A young man must wear dress pants, a shirt and tie (some even wear a tuxedo), and the ladies' dresses cannot be strapless, low cut, or overly short. Ladies may wear anything from their Sunday best to formal ball or historical gowns. This year I counted five tiaras! In addition to dancing with friends, it is also so sweet to see brothers and sisters dance as well as fathers and daughters and mothers and sons. Most of all, I love dancing with my husband! There is so much laughter as couples try to remember steps or the parents begin to tire!
       There is a maximum fee of ten dollars per family to pay the fee for the facilities (we use a church gymnasium), and the families bring the refreshments. This year's spring ball had our largest turn out yet with over 170 attendees!
       The Heritage Ball tradition began here around 2012. My girls had just performed in a dramatic presentation of "Pride and Prejudice" and had to learn one of the dances for their play. Like so many Jane Austin stories/movies, country dancing is frequently a beautiful and integral part of the Austin stories, and my girls are fans. Hayden even included country dancing scenes in her novel, Hidden Pearls. When our friends, Rachel and Rebekah Blauch had the opportunity to attend a ball in Anderson, their family decided to bring the beautiful tradition to our area and we've been participating ever since! To see some dancing from our previous balls, simply type in Lowcountry Heritage Ball on youtube.

Harrison chooses his partner for the Grand March.

After prayer and the introduction of the grand marshals, the ball opens with "The Grand March".  Couples walk up to the grand marshals and bow and curtsy to them. The first couple moves to the left and the next couple to the right. The couples then join hands at the end of the line and re-greet the marshals as a group of four. The new groups of four repeat the process and then join into groups of eight, etc.  Eventually, one large line begins to snake around the dance floor and coils up until everyone is connected.  The Heritage Ball is then officially declared open.
Scott and I are now connected to the Dykema family!

Our grand marshals, Professor Bob Menges and his wonderful wife, Patti.

Rachel Blauch calls the dances.

Emily gets escorted to the dance floor.

Hayden waits across from her partner for the dance to begin.

Samuel and Emily

Hayden and Joey

"Dublin Bay"

"The Duke of Kent's Waltz"

Emily and her friends

Most of Harrison's soccer team was there (including the coaches!)
This was taken right before clean-up so some of the guys took off their ties!
Already looking forward to the next one this fall!

Check out Emily's graduation pictures on my blog, Candles and Chandeliers!

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
Psalm 30:11-12