Fireplace Dinner Recipes

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To help her family slow down and savor the small pleasures in life, December/January 2009 Mom of the Month Anne Petersen schedules a weekly "pioneer night." The family turns off the TV and spends the evening playing games, telling stories, and talking. They also light their way with candles and cook dinner in the fireplace. Here are a few of her favorite, ready-in-a-flash recipes.

What you'll need

  • 3 baking potatoes, cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Precooked sausages (the Petersens like Coleman spinach and feta chicken sausages)
  • Mustard and ketchup (optional)
  • Butter
  • 2 slices of bread, such as whole wheat or pita, or an English muffin
  • Tomato puree
  • Pizza toppings and spices, such as pepperoni, mushrooms, oregano, and the like
  • Mozzarella
  • Butter
  • 2 slices of bread (Anne likes whole grain)
  • Apple pie filling

PIE-IRON RECIPES: Anne often uses a pie iron, a campsite cooking tool made of aluminum or cast iron, to toast sandwiches, including grilled cheese, in her fireplace. Here are a few of her other pie iron-favorites. For more, she recommends

How to make it

  1. SAVORY SAUSAGE AND POTATOES: In a cast-iron pot, stir together the potatoes, olive oil, onions, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Place the pot on the coals (not in the actual flame) and stir often. Cook until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork, about 15 to 20 minutes. When the potatoes are almost done, spear precooked sausages onto marshmallow-roasting skewers. "Roast" them near the flames, turning often, until they're browned, about five minutes. Serve with mustard and ketchup, if desired.

  2. PIE-IRON PIZZA POCKET: Butter a slice of bread and place it inside the pie iron, buttered side down. Top with tomato puree and your family's favorite pizza toppings. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Butter a second slice of bread and place it on top, buttered side up. Close the iron and grill the pocket over the fire until the bread is golden, about 4 to 5 minutes.

  3. PIE-IRON APPLE PIES: Butter a slice of bread and place it on the pie iron, buttered side down. Spoon apple pie filling on the center of the bread. Butter and place another slice of bread on top, buttered side up. Close the iron and grill the pie over the fire until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.

  4. SEASON'S SEATINGS FLOOR PILLOW: As an active school volunteer, December/January 2009 Mom of the Month Anne Petersen is always on the lookout for homemade gift ideas for the head of the class. "This year, I made a floor pillow for each teacher to use during reading time," she says. The comfy, washable squares stitch up easily and, when signed by each student, provide a personal way of saying thanks. Anne selected fabric that reflects each teacher's interests or the classroom's decor.   You will need: 24- by 24-inch pillow form (available at fabric and craft-supply stores) • 26-inch square of patterned fleece • 26-inch square of solid-color fleece • Zipper • Fabric paint  

  5. Make a pillow cover by sewing the fabric squares together, inside out, on three sides. Leave about a one-inch seam allowance. Sew a zipper on the fourth side. Turn the cover right side out and slide the pillow form inside. Zip the pillow closed. Ask each class member to sign the solid-colored side of the pillow with fabric paint.

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