Reader Contribution by Connie Moore

Our answering machine message is “You’ve reached the Moore household. We’re out in the garden; leave your name and number. We’ll get back with you when lettuce and carrots are thinned, tomatoes are planted, and a row of corn is sowed. Enjoy your day.” Beep.

Warm Chocolate Sauce
1 cup milk or semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
1 can (14 ounce) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon real vanilla
2 tablespoons water

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook on low heat until thoroughly melted and blended together, stirring often. Serve warm as a dip for berries, chips, or over ice cream. It’s very good drizzled on graham crackers, too. When strawberries come on, you can dip them in this warm sauce.

Easy Jam Bars
1 cup quick-cooking oats (not instant)
1 cup flour
1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons apple juice (can use water)
1 jar (10 ounce) fruit preserves or jam (about one cup)

Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat an 8 or 9-inch square pan or a 9-inch pie pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a bowl, mix oats, flour, sugar, and baking soda together with a fork. Mix well. Add oil and juice, stirring until all is moistened. Set aside ½ cup of crumb mixture and pour the rest into prepared pan. Press to form a crust layer. Spread preserves over top and sprinkle on reserved crumbs. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until firm and golden brown. Cool in pan. Cut into bars or wedges. For easy cleanup, line pan with foil and spray foil. When baked, lift foil out onto cutting board. These are good breakfast bars to eat with fresh fruit.

Rhubarb Jam
5 cups rhubarb, cut fine
3 cups sugar
1 small package strawberry Jello

Mix fruit and sugar in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Next day, bring to a boil in a non-reactive pan. Boil 15 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in the Jello. Mix well. Pour into sterilized jelly jars. Cool, then cover with lids and refrigerate. This is a refrigerator jam that can also be frozen in small containers. Makes 3-4 small jars.

Broccoli Salad
1 medium head broccoli, washed, drained, cut into bite size pieces
1 medium onion, sliced into thin rings
1 small can water chestnuts, drained, chopped
1 ½ cups raisins
1 cup chopped celery
½ pound bacon, cooked, crumbled
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon vinegar
½ cup sugar

In large bowl, mix broccoli, onion, water chestnuts, raisins, and celery. Mix in all but 3 tablespoons of the crumbled bacon. Mix mayo, vinegar and sugar, blending it well. Pour over veggies and toss well. Cover and chill overnight in fridge. Before serving, toss and top with reserved crumbled bacon.

Spring Sandwich Filling
3 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed
2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled, chopped
½ cup diced celery
¼ cup diced green onions

Make sure spinach is washed thoroughly and drained. Cut into shreds and place in mixing bowl. Add eggs, celery, onions, and seasonings. Use enough mayo to make a spreadable filling. For kids, cut sandwiches in shapes. For adults, well, we like the crusts cut off.

Scalloped Asparagus
4 cups cooked asparagus
1 cup shredded cheese
4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
Salt & pepper
2 cups white sauce (see note)

In buttered baking dish, lay asparagus spears or cut into pieces if desired. Sprinkle half the cheese over all. Spread on chopped eggs. Spread rest of cheese on. Season with salt and pepper. Pour white sauce (NOTE: today we use a jar of classic Alfredo sauce over all.) Top with paprika. Bake in 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Some recipes do not use the hard-cooked eggs. For a main dish, the eggs add the protein. For a side vegetable dish, they are not needed — it’s up to you.

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