Healthy eating can be a struggle

<strong>Penny’s Pantry</strong> Penny Case

Penny’s Pantry Penny Case

Lately, I’ve been thinking of my childhood days, especially when I talk to my sister Bonnie. Of the siblings I have left, she’s the one that I’m closest to.

The only thing that hasn’t changed much over the years is we all have so much to eat. Lots of people don’t eat healthy — too many people, especially kids, are eating fast food. During the winter, people tend to overeat and they don’t do much exercise.

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions this year because I usually don’t keep them. I do better when I team up with someone or when I make a bet with someone to keep on track, especially when I want to lose some weight. It’s hard to lose pounds when you get to my age. I’m just glad that I am healthy!

Of course, I’ve had a sweet craving lately.

I love making brownies different ways. I’ll pour half of the batter in my pan, lay six chocolate bars over it, cut up caramel candies over that, then the rest of the brownie batter. You could put chopped pecans into the batter if you desire. Sometimes I put mini-chocolate chips and chopped walnuts in the batter of another brownie mix.

Until next time, enjoy these recipes!

Beans with Mushrooms and Bacon

• 2 lbs. fresh green beans, trimmed

• 8 slices bacon

• 3 cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms

• 1/4 cup chopped shallots

• 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

• 1/4 tsp. salt

In a large saucepan, heat eight cups of water to boiling. Add green beans, cover, and cook two minutes. Remove green beans from liquid and put into ice water until cold. Drain and set aside. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook bacon over medium high heat, turning until crisp. Drain on a paper towel. Crumble the bacon and set it aside. Reserve one to two teaspoons of bacon drippings in the skillet. Add mushrooms and shallots to drippings. Cook five minutes, stirring often, until shallots are tender. Add green beans and paper flakes. Cook one to two minutes or until heated through. Stir in crumbled bacon, pepper, and salt. You can substitute sugar snap peas for green beans if desired.

Jam Kolache

• 1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened

• 1 package (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened

• 1 1/2 cups flour

• 1/4 cup strawberry jam

• Powered sugar is desired

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, beat margarine and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add flour, beating well. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter. Place on cookie sheets. Spoon about 1/4 tsp. jam on each cookie. Fold opposite sides to center, slightly overlapping the edges. Press down lightly on centers. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Sprinkle with powered sugar.

Original Ranch Pork Chops

• 1 package (1 oz.) ranch dressing mix

• 1/4 tsp. black pepper

• 6 pork chops (3/4 inch thick)

• Dash of paprika

Mix together dressing mix and pepper. Rub mixture on both sides of pork chops. Arrange chops in a single layer on baking or broiler rack. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Puffed Mashed Potatoes

• 5 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

• 3 tsp. salt

• 3 tbsp. margarine or butter

• 3 oz. Manchego or Parmesan cheese shredded (3/4 cup)

• 3/4 cup half and half

• 2 eggs, slightly beaten

• 1/2 tsp. pepper

• 2 tbsp. margarine or butter melted

Place potatoes in a Dutch pan and cover with water. Add 2 tsp. of salt. Heat to boiling and boil 20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Reduce heat to low, then return potatoes to pan. Heat potatoes on low for about one minute to dry them, shaking the pan often to keep them from sticking and burning. Remove from heat. Use a potato masher to get desired consistency. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 2 1/2 to 3 quart casserole with cooking spray. Add 3 tbsp. margarine, cheese, half and half, eggs, pepper, and remaniing salt to potatoes. Stir well. Spread the mixture into a casserole dish. Brush with melted butter. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until heated and puffed. Serve immediately.

Crunchy Oven-Fried Chicken

• 1/4 cup margarine or butter

• 5 cups corn flakes cereal

• 2 tsp. paprika

• 3-3 1/2 lbs. cut up broiler-fryer chicken

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt margarine in jelly roll pan in oven. Place corn flakes, paprika, 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper in blender. Cover and blend on medium speed until mixture is fine crumbs. Dip chicken in melted margarine, then coat evenly with corn flakes mixture. Place chicken in pan, skin side up. Bake uncovered 45 to 60 minutes or until juice is no longer pink when center of thickest pieces are cut.

Penny Case is a lifelong resident of Wellington who loves to cook and share recipes. Send recipes to her at 22 Johns St. or at

Penny’s Pantry Penny Case’s Pantry Penny Case