So what’s left to share about sweet Ma Klein? How about some of my favorite memories? (hover over the images below to reveal their captions)
As the youngest Klein, many of my earliest memories are of daytimes spent playing alongside Mom while she managed our home … of course, pining for my older brother and sister to get home from school to have playmates. Mom had a way of making those days special — I remember her once making us brown sugar and butter half-sandwiches, and sharing that her grandmother had made them for her. It felt like a treat to have these shared with me, and it was the only time I remember her making them. There was a time when she took only me blueberry picking with her. As the baby, it’s easy to feel left out and incapable … too young to ride bikes with your older siblings to the garage sales … too young to stay up late with everyone else to watch “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble” movie. So when you’re selected for an activity … solo … it’s a real boost!
I admire how Mom loved each of us kids differently … recognizing that each of us had different needs. Looking back on it, I now realize what an excellent job she did of introducing us to what she thought was important … giving us strong foundations in musical training, religion, political beliefs, and principles of ethics and love of fellow person … and then, like the wonderful parent that she is, she knew exactly when to let go. To let us become the people who we are. To let us quit the music lessons when we were ready … to choose whether or not to go to church on Sunday … to choose how to vote. She often repeated a phrase her mother taught her: “Your role as a parent is to become expendable.”
Mom is the type of parent who it is a JOY to come back to, as you’ve probably already surmised. She has very gracefully made the transition to becoming a friend in addition to a parent. I will always be her daughter, but she does not make me feel like a child. Never has she pressured us kids to give her grandchildren … to approach politics her way … to practice her faith. Though we may not see eye-to-eye, her love and acceptance is steadfast, which is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. The older I get, the more I treasure this, and the long-term influence it has had on me.
As I mentioned earlier, Mom loves to love. Like many people at her stage in life, she has some medical issues which have resulted in the need for healthcare assistance. Knowing the shifts can be long for those caregivers, don’t ya know, she assembled a book for them to read to help pass the time! It’s a collection of her favorite cartoons and articles. That Ma Klein is just the sweetest! Her love nourishes all of us lucky enough to be in her circle. ❤️
And so this mini-series concludes, and I hope these recipes nourish you. Here are my favorite entrees of hers that I grew up with, made recently when we visited for the Christmas holiday. And all of them freeze and thaw well, so as the motto says: make big batches, freeze some, and then go play! And love your loved ones!
Honey Pecan Chicken (serves 6)
- 1 package (6 oz) Stove Top® Cornbread Stuffing Mix
- 1 cup hot water
- 1/4 cup (1/2 of a stick) of unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 Tablespoons orange juice
- 6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
- 6 slices bacon
Heat oven to 375F.
Stir contents of vegetable/seasoning packet, butter and water in bowl to melt butter. Add 1/2 cup orange juice, stuffing crumbs and pecans; stir just to moisten.
Mix honey and 2 Tablespoons orange juice. Arrange chicken in a single layer in 13″x9″ baking pan. Spoon 1/2 of honey mixture over chicken.
Press 1/2 cup stuffing on each chicken breast and wrap with 1 slice bacon. Spoon remaining honey mixture over chicken.
Bake 40 mins or until cooked through.
*I have a fierce sweet tooth, but I really don’t like my entrees to be sweet, so I skip the honey-mixture part of this recipe. If you want to add some sweetness, I have folded-in 1/2 cup chopped craisins in the past, and found the combo to be tasty! *I cut the bacon slices and criss-cross them on top of the chicken-stuffing, so that all of the bacon gets crispy. Otherwise the bacon wrapped underneath the chicken-stuffing never cooks all the way.
Chicken Crescents, or as Mom calls them, “Chicken Bundles” (serves 8)
- One 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
- 4 cups cooked chicken, chopped (or more)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 4 Tablespoons milk
- 2 Tablespoons onion, minced
- Two 8-oz cans crescent rolls
- 1-1/2 cups croutons, crushed
Preheat oven to 350F.
Blend cream cheese and 4 Tablespoons butter until smooth.
Add chicken, salt, pepper, milk and onion.
Separate crescent rolls into 8 rectangles. Seal perforations.
Spoon 1/2 cup chicken mixture onto center of each rectangle and pull corners to top and twist, pressing together. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with crouton crumbs.
Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 20 mins until golden brown.
*We like onion, so I use more like half of a small onion, minced. *While maintaining the sealed perforation, I find I need to stretch these rectangles to be able to accommodate wrapping the edges around the filling. *I find that I always have A LOT of leftover filling, so I pile it on toasted English muffins for lunch the following day. *I substitute cracker crumbs for crushed croutons.
Sausage and Cheese Strata (serves 8-12, depending on portion size)
- One 16-oz package ground mild breakfast sausage
- One 12-oz package English muffins, split and buttered
- One 10-oz package extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- One 8-oz package mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 6 large eggs
- 1-1/2 cups sour cream
- One 4-oz can chopped green chiles, drained
Cook sausage in skillet, stirring and crumbling; drain on paper towels, set aside.
Cut muffin halves into quarters, and arrange in even layer in lightly buttered 13″x9″ casserole dish. Sprinkle each half with half, each, of sausage, cheddar, mozzarella evenly over muffins.
Whisk together eggs, sour cream and chiles in a large bowl. Pour evenly over sausage, cheeses, muffins. Top with remaining sausage and cheeses. Cover and chill 8 hours.
Bake 350F for 40-50 minutes, until cheese on top is slightly browned. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
*Though this is typically a brunch dish, I like serving it at dinner, with tomato soup and a salad. Easy to make in the morning before you go to work, then bake when you get home. *This fills a 13″x9″ casserole ALL the way to the rim, so if you have a sightly bigger casserole dish, I recommend using it.
Thanks for following along! She loved having the first two posts read to her for my Christmas gift, by the way! We had a wonderful visit! 😍 Happy New Year, all!