Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hot Pepper Jelly from Taste of Home

I found this recipe several years ago in a Taste of Home Magazine. Bagels and cream cheese just don't seem to be the same without the sweet and spicy contrast of this jelly.

1-1/2 cups white vinegar
1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into wedges
2/3 cup chopped habanero peppers
6 cups sugar, divided
2 pouches (3 ounces each) liquid fruit pectin
1 teaspoon red food coloring, optional
Cream cheese and crackers
Place vinegar and peppers in a blender; cover and puree. Add 2 cups sugar; blend well. Pour into a saucepan. Stir in the remaining sugar; bring to a boil. Strain mixture and return to pan. Stir in pectin and food coloring if desired. Return to a rolling boil over high heat. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat; skim off foam. Carefully ladle hot mixture into hot sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-in. headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims and adjust lids. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling-water canner.
Serve with cream cheese on crackers. Yield: 5 half-pints.

Editor's Note: When cutting hot peppers, disposable gloves are recommended. Avoid touching your face. The processing time listed is for altitudes of 1,000 feet or less. Add 1 minute to the processing time for each 1,000 feet of additional altitude.

What's been cooking lately

While December is traditionally a busy month, I was down at the beginning of the month due to an unexpected surgery.

While I wasn't sure if I'd get all of my Christmas cooking done, my sister showed up and helped out. Here are links to the gifts we gave this year to our neighbors and friends:

Hot Pepper Jelly and Wheat Bread
Almond Bark
Pumpkin Bread

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Yamples or Yams and Apples

This recipe also came from my sister in law, but we re-named it from Yams and Apples to "Yamples". I grew up as a die hard candied yam girl. Just didn't want them any other way. A couple of years ago however, my sister in law made these for Thanksgiving and I became converted. No more candied yams for me - these babies are the best! I think the sauce was the final factor in my conversion. I can't wait until Thanksgiving!

5 small to medium sized yams (or 2 cans)
5-7 apples

Cook yams until tender (in boiling water). Cool and peel, and then slice. Peel and slice apples into 1/4" wedges. Place one layer of yams into a 9x13 baking dish, then dot with butter. Add a layer of apples, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Continue layering until all yams and apples have been used.

1 c. sugar or honey
2 c. water
1/2 c. butter
3 T. cornstarch
1 t. salt (optional - but I think you need it)

Mix ingredients together in medium sized pan and heat and stir until bubbly and thickened. Pour over the top of the yams and bake for 45 minutes at 350*.

Julie's Homemade Cranberry Sauce

My sister in law made this for Thanksgiving several years ago and while I was skeptical at first (really - raisins and nuts?) my family LOVES this cranberry sauce. I haven't made it yet this year, so a picture will follow possibly some time next week.

1 package cranberries
3 c. sugar
1 c. water
1 c. raisins
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. grated lemon peel
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves

Bring mixture to a boil over medium high heat stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, or until cranberries pop and thicken.
Add 1/3 c. walnuts if desired.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Canned Tomatoes

Every time I set out to make tomatoes, I have to hunt down my recipe - which is ironic because the only thing I need the recipe for is to remember how much lemon juice, salt and sugar I need! Since it frosted in September, I picked all of my green tomatoes (and the little baby ones) and placed them in my garage to ripen. Today I may have finished my last batch! I'll post a photo once they come out of the canner.

Here's my basic recipe:
Lemon juice

Place tomatoes in boiling water for 30-60 seconds or until the skins split. Immediately dip into cold water. Use sharp knife to cut out the stem and peel off the skin. Cut off any discolored or bruised portions.

Pack into warm sterile quart jars.
Add 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar to each jar. Add boiling water, filling within a 1/2 inch of the top of the jar. Insert a non-metalic instrument, (ie. wooden spoon handle etc.) between the tomatoes and the jar to release any air bubbles.

Wipe the jar rim with a clean damp paper towel.

Place heated lid and ring on jar, screwing on until fingertip tight.

Process for 60 minutes in boiling water bath, or 15 minutes in pressure canner with 15 lbs weight (high altitude times and weight).

Remove from water and cool for 12-24 hours on towel on counter before moving.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Beth's Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies (High Altitude)

You'd never believe I found these at my daughter's Halloween class party. There they were, sitting in a large tupper-ware container looking perfect. I snagged one, and was really blown away. I noted the mother's name from the tupper-ware lid and set on a quest to find the recipe. That mother then referred me to another mother from whom she'd requested the recipe. I started using other recipes, trying to duplicate these cookies, but they just never turned out as perfectly as Beth's had. I cornered Beth's daughter and demanded her phone number and then begged her for her recipe. I am thrilled that they turned out just as I hoped. My chocolate chip cookie quest has finally ended.


In my estimation, these cookies really are the perfect chocolate chip cookie - they are just a tiny bit crisp on the outside, yet soft and luscious on the inside - absolutely delightful. Beth instructs liberality - when you think they may be just a little too decadent - add more. That's her secret.


In a Mixer Combine:
1 ¼ C Brown Sugar
¾ C Butter Flavor Crisco (I use the cubes)
2 TBSP Milk
1 TBSP Vanilla extract
Mix ingredients

1 Egg and mix again

In a Separate Bowl combine:
1 ¾ C Flour
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp baking soda

Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix
Add white and semi-sweet chocolate chips (more is better!)

350 degrees 8-10 minutes (I use stoneware, so check often if you use a regular cookie sheet)
Immediately remove from pan/stone and allow to cool on cooling racks.
Note that this is a high altitude recipe for 6,000+ ft. Use approximately 1/4 c. less flour for lower altitudes.
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Friday, November 6, 2009

Blueberry Breakfast Casserole

This is a favorite casserole we sometimes make for Christmas morning. The best part is that it is all made the night before, and it cooks away filling the house with warm comforting aromas while we enjoy the morning together.

12 slices Texas toast bread or day old French bread
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. frozen blueberries
12 eggs
2 c. milk
1/3 c. maple syrup

1 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
1 c. water
1 c. blueberries
1 T. butter
1/2 t. vanilla
pinch of nutmeg

Cube bread into 1/2" cubes. Spread 1/2 the bread cubes into a 9x13 baking dish. Cut cream cheese into small chunks over bread. Add blueberries, and then remaining bread. In a bowl, mix eggs, milk, and syrup. Pour over bread and chill for 8 hours.

Heat oven to *350. Cook for 30 minutes covered. Uncover and cook for another 30 minutes.

Whisk sugar and cornstarch together in a medium/small pan.
Add water and bring to a boil. Boil for three minutes until thick. Stir blueberries into mixture and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add butter, then vanilla and nutmeg.

Serve sauce over casserole

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween class treats - Little blue guys

We made these last year for my kid's class parties and they were a hit. Back by popular demand this year - we call them "Little Blue Guys"

As many mini muffins or cupcakes as you need
Blue decorators frosting
Whoppers (cut in half)
Licorice (the pull apart type)
Bubble gum (cut into small pieces for the feet)

Turn the muffin upside down and frost it using long downward strokes to create hair, covering the entire muffin.
Plant some licorice pieces into the head for antenae.
Whopper halfs for eyeballs.
Cut up gum pieces for feet.
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cooked pumpkin / Pumpkin Puree

Every fall I process pumpkins. What this means is, I peel, cube and boil my pumpkins (minus the guts of course) in lightly salted water. I cook them until they become soft, and then I immediately dump them into my blender (with a little cooking water as needed) and blend the pumpkin into a smooth puree. I then freeze 2 cup quantities in baggies and use the puree year round for my pumpkin breads, pumpkin pies, pancakes, soups etc.

Pumpkin pie from scratch

After I've processed my pumpkins in the fall, I use them for various recipes. While pureed pumpkin is definitely different from the store bought canned pumpkin, here's a fantastic pie recipe, using your own pumpkin. While this was initially an original experiment, my husband called this 'delightful' (high praise from a man of few words) and was very interested to find out what I'd done differently as the end result was so much smoother and creamier than normal grainy pumpkin pie.

4 c. cooked and blended pumpkin
2 c. sugar
2 T. fresh finely grated ginger
1 t. grated nutmeg
1 T. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. flour
6 eggs
1 can evaporated milk

2 uncooked pie crusts

Heat oven to 425*.
In a medium saucepan heat pumpkin, ginger, spices and flour. Once this reaches a boiling point, lower heat to medium and add vanilla.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs and milk together. Take 1 c. of pumpkin mixture and quickly incorporate into egg mixture, briskly mixing all the time so that the eggs don't cook and curdle. Add egg mixture to pumpkin mixture in pan, whisking briskly to incorporate. Continue to heat and stir until just before mixture comes to a boil. Turn off heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Pour into two uncooked pie crusts and bake at 425* for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350* and continue to cook for an additional 45-50 minutes.

Flaky Pie Crust

I found a new pie crust recipe that I absolutely love (and I thought I loved the other one - this one is even more amazing!)

2 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 t. salt
2 T. sugar
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 c. cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 c. white vinegar
1/4 c. cold water

Process 1 1/2 c. flour, salt and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4-6 quick pulses. Empty into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vinegar and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Chicken Cordon Bleu and Mushroom Sauce

This is truly an original recipe - I don't even remember where I learned how to make this, but once or twice a year when I want to make something that's a little bit fancier, I pull this one out.

8-10 chicken breasts or thighs (skin and bone free)
8-10 slices swiss cheese
8-10 slices ham
1/4 c. butter
1 package Ritz crackers

Place 2-3 chicken pieces into a bag (ie ziplock) and using meat mallet, pound until meat is between 1/4" - 1/2" thick. Set aside and continue with remaining pieces. Select one piece of chicken and layer ham slice and then swiss cheese slice on top of chicken and roll. Secure roll with toothpicks. Continue until all of the chicken pieces have been rolled up with the ham and cheese.

In a small microwave safe bowl, melt butter. Crush crackers finely and mix them into the butter. Gently coat each chicken roll with cracker crumbs and place in a baking dish which has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake at 350* for 70 minutes.

Mushroom Sauce

1/4 c. butter
8-10 mushrooms
1/4 c. diced onions
1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. whipping cream
2 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce
2 splashes liquid smoke
1/4 t. nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper

In a medium sized pan, melt butter and sauté mushrooms and onions until tender. Add flour, and mix until flour sticks to mushrooms and onions. Add whipping cream and quickly mix to make a roux. Add milk and cheese, and continue to stir. Continue stirring until mixture comes to a boil and begins to thicken. Add Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, nutmeg, and ground pepper to taste.

Serve over Chicken Cordon Bleu

Hot Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

My favorite local restaurant is famous for its version of this scrumptious dessert. Every bite of this moist warm cake drenched in caramel sauce seems to scream 'comfort food'. I took this to a dinner party a couple of weeks ago and had to leave to pick up my kids. When I got back the entire cake had been devoured! While I've tried several different recipes, the following is my adaptation of this recipe.

8-10 oz. dates, finely chopped (about 1 1/4 c. packed)
1 c. boiling water
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 c. flour
1/4 t. cardamom
1 t. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350*.
Chop dates and heat water to boiling. Place dates in small bowl, and pour boiling water over dates. Add baking soda, lightly mix, and allow mixture to cool.

Using electric mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add half the flour and beat to blend, then repeat process, adding eggs, then flour and cardamom. Pour date mixture into batter, and beat to blend.

Pour batter into prepared 9x13, or bundt cake pan. Bake for 1 hour or until tester comes out clean - approx. 1 hr.

Cool pudding until just warm. Unmold; sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream and Caramel Sauce.

Caramel Sauce
2 c. whipping cream
1 c. (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 c. unsalted butter

Bring cream, brown sugar and butter to a boil in heavy medium saucepan over medium - high heat, stirring frequently Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to 1 3/4 c. stirring occasionally, approx. 15 minutes. (This can be prepared 1 day ahead). Cover and refrigerate. Before using, rewarm over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pretzels after school snack

Every afternoon, my kids come home from school ready for a snack.
I've been thinking about making pretzels for them for several weeks and today we worked on them together.

I spent a long time researching various recipes and methods and found pretty much the all inclusive - everything pretzel you wanted to know (almost) recipe and discussion board on a blog titled, The Fresh Loaf.
While I used most of the recipe from The Fresh Loaf, I wasn't sure whether I should let the dough rise or not, and I wasn't sure whether to dip them in boiling water or not and whether or not to egg wash.

Here's what we ended up with:

1 T. brown sugar
1 t. yeast
1 c. hot milk (microwaved for 90 seconds)
2 1/2 - 3 c. white flour
1 t. salt

2 T. baking soda
6 c. water
1 beaten egg

Combine brown sugar, yeast, milk, flour and salt in mixer and mix until it forms a ball.
Knead for 5 minutes with dough hooks.

Spray a bowl with cooking spray and place dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm area allowing to rise for 30 minutes, or until approximately doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 425*. Slice dough into 6 pieces for large pretzels and 12 pieces for smaller pretzels. Roll the dough section into a rope, and shape into a pretzel shape.

Bring water to boil, and add baking soda. Once this reaches a rapid boil, dip each pretzel in for 5 seconds. Place on baking sheet and gently brush with beaten egg. Sprinkle with coarse salt or cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes.

I found a slight difference between the pretzels when I boiled them or didn't boil them. My family preferred them boiled, and while it was slightly intimidating to read about, really it was a cinch.

The only thing I will do differently next time is start a little earlier so that I have them ready for my kids to roll out as soon as they walk in the door. The kids loved making their own shapes and creations - which was the best part of all!

Halloween Dinner - Bloody Stump or Feet of Meat

Several years ago I made one of those impulse buys. You know them - you are standing at the checkout counter at the grocery store waiting for an eternity and something there at the check-stand catches your eye, and somehow makes it home with you as well!

There at the check stand, I found a little book with several Halloween recipes in it, and the following recipe (with my alterations) gets made at our home every year in time for Halloween. While truly, it looks kind of nasty (the whole toenails thing - gag!), taste-wise, this rivals my grandmothers meatloaf, yet it is much easier than grandma's!

Finally, I figured I'd better post this because my sister asks me for this recipe EVERY year, and then I have to go hunt it down.

Really, it's about the toenails....

2 ½ pounds ground beef or meat loaf mixture
1 t. minced garlic
½ cup breadcrumbs or oatmeal
½ cup milk or water
1 egg
1 envelope (1 ounce) onion soup mix
8 Brazil nuts or almonds
2 Tablespoons barbecue sauce or ketchup

Preheat oven to 350*. Mix ground beef, minced garlic, breadcrumbs, milk, egg and onion soup mix in large bowl until blended. Remove and set aside 1 cup of the mixture.
Dived remaining mixture in half and shape each half into an oval about 7 x 4 inches. Place oval shapes side – by – side on a rimmed baking sheet. Divide reserved mixture into 8 balls and place 4 balls at end of each oval to form toes. Press 1 Brazil nut into each toe to form toenails. Brush meat loaf with barbecue sauce and bake 1 ½ hours.

Notes: Instead of breadcrumbs, I whatever flavor of croûtons I have on hand - crushed. I also use the cheap generic BBQ sauce – go figure. If you make this as one combined whole instead of the feet/stumps, it does take longer to cook – (my other recipes call for 2 ½ - 3 hours).

(8 – 10 Servings)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dorito Salad

One of my friends made this for us, and ever since my husband begs for me to make this. While I searched out some recipes on the internet and tried them, they just weren't the same. Here's my girlfriend's recipe. Note - this makes a LOT, and it doesn't save very well, so make sure to serve this to a crowd!

1.5 lb ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
1 head romaine lettuce torn or cut into bite size pieces
1/2 medium chopped onion
1 can red kidney beans (drained)
1 can black beans (drained)
1 can corn (drained)
1 c. shredded cheese
1 12 oz. bag nacho cheese Doritos, crushed

Optional - tomatoes, red/green peppers, olives

1/2 c. salsa
1 c. thousand island dressing
1 c. mayonnaise

Combine lettuce, onion, beans, corn, in large bowl and place in refrigerator. Brown hamburger and onions. Drain grease, and add taco seasoning mix along with 1 T. water to meat. Allow to simmer until taco seasoning has been completely blended in and absorbed. Allow to cool. Meanwhile, mix dressing ingredients in separate bowl or blender.

Add cooled meat mixture to refrigerated items. Add dressing and toss entire mixture to coat. Gently mix in Doritos and cheese. Serve immediately.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Moist Mexican Cornbread

Yes - the photo is kind of funky - it was the best of the lot.
Just for the record, I am not a big cornbread fan. Most of the cornbread I've had or made has always been too dry, and I just haven't liked it.
Several years ago though, a friend made some cornbread which I couldn't get enough of. She told me it was made with creamed corn and it was OH SO MOIST! After that, I began a quest to find a recipe that I really liked, (well, maybe not a quest..)
I found the following recipe on the web at Rockin Robin's Cooking Mexican Recipes and as far as cornbread goes - this is by far the best I've ever had. While it appears a bit crumbly in the photo, I had to cut it while it was still hot right out of the oven.

Fabulous Mexican Cornbread Recipe:

3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 cup flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup cream style corn (corn pureed in a blender)
1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg, beaten
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
1-3 jalapeño peppers,depending on your desire for heat, finely chopped
1 - 4 oz. can of green chilies minced and drained
1 1/4 cups grated, monterey jack or cheddar cheese, or a little of both
3/4 cup skim milk

In a large bowl add the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sea salt, and sugar and mix well.

Saute the onion in the olive oil for 25 - 30 minutes, starting out on medium high heat and then lowering to low after the onion starts cooking. Stir frequently. At the end of 30 minutes the onion should have cooked down to about 1/2 of what you started with and be a golden brown.

Add the minced garlic and saute an additional 5 minutes being careful not to burn the garlic. Stir constantly. Transfer the onions and garlic to a small bowl and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the pan and saute the jalapeño for 8 - 10 minutes on medium high heat. Add the jalapeño and green chiles to the onion/garlic mixture.

Add the creamed corn, butter, milk, and egg to the dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. Do not over mix. Stir in the onion, garlic, jalapeno, green chile mixture, and cheese until just mixed in.

Pour the batter into a greased 9 inch square glass oven-proof dish. Bake at *375 for 25 -30 minutes.

* Note - If you like a little more heat in your cornbread, don't hesitate to add more jalapeños to the recipe. If you don't like the heat, completely omit the jalapeños.
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Friday, October 2, 2009

Fall Soup - Chicken Vegetable & Barley

Fall always seems to be soup weather at our home. I took this soup along with some homemade French Bread to a sick neighbor earlier this week. I had been excited to try out a new recipe, but as it turned out, I read the recipe (general guideline) and ended up going a complete different direction - (largely due to the fact that I was kept looking at a picture of minestrone soup on the opposite page!)

My husband and kids really enjoyed this soup and I loved that I could use some that fresh fall garden produce, as well as the twist on traditional chicken noodle soup.

Note - Plan at least 40-60 minutes for the barely to cook.

1 1/2 c. pearled barley
4 c. water
2-3 c. cooked chicken and juices
1-2 c. chopped zucchini
1-2 c. chopped carrots
1/2 large onion coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove (diced)
1 T. chicken bouillon (I recommend Knorr, chicken flavored bouillon found in the Mexican section at the grocery store)
1 T. olive oil
1 t. basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse barley and add to boiling water along with 1 t. salt. Once the water returns to boiling, reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer for approximately 40-60 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook chicken and prepare vegetables. Once barley is cooked set aside.

In a large dry pan, heat basil for 1-2 minutes stirring frequently to bring out the flavor. Add oil. Once oil is heated, add remaining chopped vegetables, and garlic. Heat, stirring frequently until vegetables are crisp, yet tender.

Fill a large pot halfway 1/3 with water and add bouillon. Once water is heated, strain any barley juice into water. Add 1 1/2 c. cooked barley, cooked and diced chicken and vegetables.

Add liquid as necessary. If a thicker broth is desired, mix 1-2 T. cornstarch into 1/3 c. cool water. Slowly mix into broth and continue to heat stirring constantly.

Salt and pepper to taste

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Zucchini Bread

A friend gave us this yummy zuchinni bread yesterday.  While I know she MEANT to give me the recipe, she never got around to it.  However, my friend Barbara gave me some amazing zucchini bread, and here's her recipe:

1 egg
1 c. oil (applesauce may be substituted for oil)
2.5 c. sugar
2 c. grated zucchini
1 T. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
3 T. cinnamon
¼ t. baking powder
1/2 c. chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 c. chocolate chips (optional)

Beat eggs, add oil, sugar, zucchini and vanilla.  Mix well.
Add flour and other dry ingredients. 
Gently mix until well blended.  
Add nuts or chocolate chips if desired.

Bake at 325* for one hour in a lightly greased and floured pan.

Freezes great!

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Apple Pie or Apple Crisp


My sister in law sent me this recipe yesterday with some rave reviews. She's a cook that I generally trust, and since we had some dinner guests, I decided to try it.
It was indeed very yummy, and yet, very remniscent of my french apple pie recipe.
While there are some amazing things about this pie that I love, I think my french apple pie recipe tops it. However, if I billed this under Apple Crisp, it is the best apple crisp I may have ever had (yes, I know - it is all semantics):)

The main differences are as follows:
The french apple pie apples are pre-cooked, which for me, results in a better consistency.

This recipe's struesel topping inclues oatmeal, while pecans and caramel sauce are sprinkled/drizzled over the hot pie. LOVE that twist!

While I served this pie hot, I had a tough time getting it out of the pie plate in single pieces - (it may be different cooled).

No matter what you call it - this is a great recipe that is definitely worth trying!

1- 9" pie crust
1/2 C sugar
3 T flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
6 cups of thinly sliced, peeled apples
1 recipe crumb topping (see below)
1/2 C chopped pecans
1/4 C caramel

Crumb topping:
1 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C flour
1/2 C quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 C butter

Directions for crumb topping:
1. Stir together brown sugar, flour, oats
2. Cut in butter until topping is like course crumbs. Set aside.


1. In a large mixing bowl stir together the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt
2. Add apples and gently toss until coated.
3. Transfer apple mixture to pie shell.
4. Sprinkle crumb topping over apple mixture
5. Place pie on cookie sheet so the drippings don't drop all over your oven.
6. Cover edges of pie with foil.
7. Bake in a pre-heated 375 oven for 25 minutes. Then remove the foil and put back in the oven for another 25-30 minutes without the foil.
8. Remove from oven. Sprinkle pie with pecans and then drizzle caramel on top.
9. Cool on a wire rack.
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Saturday, September 19, 2009

No photos

While I don't have photos of the following two recipes, I've had them on the back burner for a while. I figured I'd just post them, and I'll get the pictures up soon.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pecan Pie Bars

6 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 t. salt
2 c. cold butter (no substitutes)
8 eggs
3 c. sugar
3 c. corn syrup
1/2 c. butter, melted
3 t. vanilla extract
5 c. chopped pecans

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of two greased 15 inch x 10 inch x 1 inch baking pans. Bake at 350* for 18-22 minutes or until crust edges are beginning to brown and bottom is set.

For filling, combine the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, butter and vanilla in a large bowl; mix well. Stir in pecans. Pour over crust. Bake 25-30 minutes longer or until edges are firm and center is almost set. Cool on wire racks. Cut into bars. Refrigerate until serving.
Yield: 6-8 dozen

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Quick n' Tasty Turkey or Ham Wraps

I've been making these for lunches for several years. I love the quickness, ease, and versatility of these wraps. I also love that these don't contain (or need) any dressing or mayo.

1 flour tortilla
1-2 slices ham or turkey
1-2 slices cheese (your preference)
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced red onions
Sliced red or green peppers
1-2 slices romaine lettuce or spinach

Place ham or turkey on microwaveable plate and top with cheese. Heat for 1-2 minutes until cheese begins to melt and meat is heated.

Quickly place in tortilla, adding tomatoes, onions, lettuce, pepper etc. on top and roll.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Three Ingredient Homemade Oreos

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Need a quick chocolate fix?
My college roommate used to make these, and I loved them. I was thrilled to come across this recipe (in yet another SAA production)a couple of years ago. While these don't come out hard and crunchy like commercial oreos, they are soft and sweet and with their three ingredients, they are perfect for young chefs as well!

2 pkgs devils food or chocolate cake mix
4 eggs
1/2 c. vegetable shortening

Mix all ingredients together, roll into small balls and bake at 350 for 8 minutes, or until cracks begin to appear.
Gently remove from pan and allow to cool on wire racks.

Once cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting and top with another cookie.
If time is of the essence, store bought frosting can be used as well.

**This cookie dough freezes well.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 c. butter or margarine
1/2 tsp. vanilla
dash of salt
2-4 c. powdered sugar - enough for desired thickness.

Mix cream cheese and butter together, then slowly incorporate powdered sugar. Once desired thickness is obtained, add vanilla and salt.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Best Brownie Recipe

This photo contains brownies made by my young daughter.

The other day I went to make brownies and was amazed to find that I hadn't posted this recipe. For some reason, these turn out even better when made by my husband. Note that if you live above 6,000 ft. additional 1/4 - 1/3 c. of flour is crucial for this recipe. I should also note that I believe this recipe is originally from a Hershey's cocoa powder box.

1 c. butter (2 sticks)
2 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla
4 eggs
3/4 cocoa
1 c. flour (+ 1/4 - 1/3 c. for high altitude)
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)

In microwave safe bowl, melt butter (approximately 60-90 seconds). Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well with a spoon after each addition. Add cocoa, beating until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Pour into oiled 9x13 pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely prior to cutting.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Black Beans, Blended Beans, Refried Black Beans

In addition to the plantains, I also fell in love with black beans in Guatemala since we typically ate them three meals a day. When eaten together, black beans and rice form a complete protein. Additionally, just one serving of beans and rice contains nearly 1/3 of one's daily fiber needs.

Here's the basic black bean recipe I learned while in Guatemala. Variations also follow

2 c. dried black beans (rinse and sort out any bad beans, rocks, or debris)
5 c. water
1/2 c. chopped onion
1-2 garlic cloves coarsely chopped
2 t. chicken bouillon
Salt to taste
1 bay leaf
Optional - fresh cilantro, cumin, key lime juice (once thoroughly cooked)

Place all ingredients into a medium large pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to cook for 2-4 hours until soft. These also work great in a crock pot on medium for 3-4 hours. Remove bay leaf, & strain.

Black Bean & Rice Soup
After the beans are cooked, add 2 c. chicken broth and 1 c. rice. Continue to cook until the rice is cooked and serve as soup.

Blended Black Beans
After the beans finish cooking, scoop 2 cups (with juices) into blender and blend until smooth and viscous, adjusting liquid (adding water or chicken broth) if necessary. Repeat process using all of the beans and juices. As the beans cool, they will thicken. Great for rice accompaniment, burritos, side dishes etc.

Refried Black Beans (Frijoles volteados)

As above, blend beans and liquid into a thick mixture.
Over a medium high flame, heat 1/2 c. vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Add beans and allow to cook for 2 minutes. Using a spatula, begin to move the beans around. Adding more oil (as needed) continue to cook the beans. As they thicken begin to toss the beans against the side of the pan until they begin to form into a solid mass. Continue to cook and toss until the outer layer forms a darkened crisp layer, and the mass forms into a loaf like shape.

Slide onto a plate, and slice to serve.

Note - authentic re-fried black beans are made with lard. These recipes substitute olive oil.
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Fried Plantains


Several years ago, I lived in Guatemala as a missionary for my church. While all of the food was foreign to me, I soon grew to love it. One of my all time favorite dishes became plantains, or 'platanos fritos' as we knew them. We could walk down the streets and I would smell them cooking in the houses...then I'd crave them all day long!
Plantains are surprisingly versatile in cooking. Several countries including Honduras and Puerto Rico use them green, sliced thinly and fried in oil. Once they've drained, but while hot, they are smashed and salted, and slightly resemble a potato chip.

After living in Guatemala, I thought I could have written a cookbook of 101 ways to prepare a plantain. Besides fried, I also like to microwave them with a small amount of water for 2-4 minutes, and eat them with a little sugar sprinkled on them. They can also be baked with cinnamon and drizzled with cream.

When purchasing plantains, keep in mind that their flavor corresponds to their ripeness. Sold in most grocery stores next to the bananas, they look exactly like bananas, but bigger (they are sometimes known as 'macho bananas'). When they are green and very firm, they are very starchy - almost like biting into a raw potato. As they ripen, their skins begin to turn black. While they may appear spoiled or as a rotten banana, the darker their skins become, the sweeter they become. If they aren't quite dark yet, leave them on the counter top for several days until their skins darken and they become soft to touch.

Here's my family's favorite recipe for fried plantains.
4 plantains (found in the grocery section next to the bananas)
Salt and sugar to taste

Over medium heat, place 2-4 T. vegetable oil in a large frying pan or skillet.
On a cutting board, slice off the tip of the plantain, and then peel the fruit, discarding the skin.
Horizontally slice each plantain into strips between 1/8 inch - 1/4 inch.
Place the plantain strips into the hot oil. Lightly sprinkle with salt and sugar.
After approximately 2 minutes (as the plantains are beginning to brown) using a fork, flip and continue to cook on the opposite side. Lightly sprinkle with salt and sugar. Once cooked through and slightly darkened, remove and drain on paper towels prior to serving.

These may be sprinkled with cinnamon, or drizzled with cream as well.
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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Peach Skin Jelly - Award Winning

This jelly recently won the Open Class Grand Champion prize in our county fair.

I attended a canning class several years ago. During her presentation, the presenter suggested using the peels and discarded pieces (when canning peaches) for jam or jelly. While this may seem distasteful at first, in actuality, the bruised parts of fruit often add greater sweetness.

The following is a modified jelly recipe, which uses the discarded skins and blemishes instead of fresh perfect fruit.

3-1/2 cups juice prepared from discarded skins and bruised spots/blemishes of approximately 10 lbs. of peaches (see below)
1-1/2 cups water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
7-1/2 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine
2 pouches CERTO Fruit Pectin

To prepare jars:
BRING boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain jars well before filling.

To prepare peach juices:
Place peach peels and remnants into sauce pot; add water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 min., stirring occasionally. Place three layers of damp cheesecloth or jelly bag in large bowl. Pour prepared into cheesecloth. Tie cheesecloth closed; hang and let drip into bowl until dripping stops. Press gently. Measure exactly 3-1/2 cups juice into 6- or 8-qt. sauce pot. (If needed, add up to 1/2 cup water for exact measure.) Stir in lemon juice.

STIR sugar into juice mixture in sauce pot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

LADLE immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 11 min. (for 6,000 ft. altitude.)

Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)


Yes, I know - aeble what??


Following is a recipe for a scandanavian treat. How to describe them? One of my friends describes them like donut holes, but not greasy or sweet. The original name (so I'm told) means applets, because they have small chunks of apples cooked inside. I think of them as having more of a pancake or waffle consistency. Anyways, despite the not so amazing picture, this is a family treat. We love to have them on Sundays for dinner when we've had a large lunch and are looking for something light. They taste best with family games.

The pans can usually be found online, at camping stores, and specialty cooking shops.
I believe this recipe came from my mother-in-law who received it years ago from a scandanavian friend

2 c. buttermilk (or milk soured by lemon juice/vinegar)
3 eggs (divided)
2 c. flour (+/- 1/4 c. for high altitude)
1 t. baking soda
1 T. baking powder
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 apple - peeled and cut into coarse chunks

Beat eggwhites until stiff, and then transfer to a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
Beat egg yolks until creamy, then add remaining ingredients, and beat until well mixed.
Gently fold in eggwhites.

Heat pans over med/medium heat, and put a dab of vegetable shortening in the bottom of each cup (I use a painting brush for quicker application. Pam spray may also be used, but they cook a little differently and don't tend to turn out as well.)

When shortening has heated, add batter, filling each cup 3/4 full. Place a coarsely chopped apple chunk into the middle of each cup and after a few minutes, invert (using a shishkabob stick, or a fondue fork). Serve immediately with butter, cinnamon sugar, jelly, etc.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Strawberry Pie

1 prepared graham cracker crust (recipe)
Wash and pat dry three pints of strawberries
Slice them on a paper towel (to absorb juices)
Place a thin layer of strawberries into the prepared crust

In a mixer, beat 1 (8 oz.) cube of cream cheese
Gradually add 1/4 c. sugar.
Then blend in 1/2 c. sour cream and 1 t. vanilla
Finally fold in 1 c. cool whip

Spoon this mixture into the pie pan on top of the strawberries, then cover with remaining strawberries.

Refrigerate for 4 hours prior to serving

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Banana Bread - Award winning

This recipe recently won the Class Reserve Champion award at our county fair.
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I received this recipe from a missionary who was working in our area's mom several years ago. I love the easiness and the quickness of this recipe.

Beat together:
1/4 c. oil (or applesauce substitute)
1/2 c. sugar

Add and beat:
1 egg
1 t. vanilla

Beat in:
4 medium bananas (not too dark/medium ripe)

Then slowly mix in:
1 1/2 c. white flour
1/2 c. wheat flour
1 t. soda
1/2 t. salt
(If wheat flour is not on hand 2 c. white flour)
Nuts (optional)

Spray two bread pans, and bake at 350* for 30-40 minutes.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pretzel Salad-Dessert


This recipe comes from my sister-in-law.
It is a great make ahead treat, and truly, I can't figure out if it is a salad (per the title) or a dessert!

2 C. crushed pretzels
3 t. sugar
3/4 c. margarine

Mix ingredients in a bowl and smooth out in a 9X13 baking dish. Bake at 400* for 10-12 minutes. Cool for 1 hour.

Part 2
1/2 c. sugar
1 (8 oz) cream cheese
1 (8 oz) cool whip

Beat together and spread over cooled pretzels.

Part 3
Mix 1 c. boiling water with a 6 oz package of strawberry or raspberry Jell-O. Add 10 oz frozen strawberries/raspberries. Mix until mixture thickens (approx. 2 minutes). Spread over cream cheese mixture and refrigerate at least 1 hour prior to serving.

Poppyseed Chicken

While the following recipe is definitely not the healthiest, this is one of my kid's favorite requested dishes. I found it in another SAA compilation cookbook. This is a great pot-luck dish.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cooked and chopped)
2 c. sour cream
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 stick butter
50 Ritz crackers (crushed)
1 1/2 T. poppy seeds
2-3 c. cooked rice

Brown or boil chicken and cut into bite sized pieces. Mix all ingredients (except for crackers, butter and poppy seeds) in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, microwave butter until melted. Add crushed crackers and poppy seeds to the butter, tossing to coat. Spread a light layer of crackers in the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish. Add chicken and rice mixture, and top with the remaining cracker mixture.
Bake at 350* for 30-45 minutes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Frosted Pecans

Frosted Pecans
These are simple, addictive (you've been warned), add a sweet crunch to any salad, and they make great gifts (and people may beg for them - I did, and that's how I got this recipe from some ladies from my church in Colorado). 

Here's a link to the Northwestern Salad that these go so well on

Frosted Pecans
2 egg white
2 c. sugar
2 tsp. cold water
2 tsp. salt
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 lb. pecans

Beat water and egg white until fluffy.
Mix pecans in and toss to coat.
In a separate bowl combine sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add to pecan mixture. Toss until pecans are coated. Spread on baking sheet and bake at 225* for 1 hour moving occasionally.
Cool prior to using in salad.

These may be stored in the freezer as well for future use.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Northwestern Salad with Frosted Pecans

One of my friends used to make this salad - I think it is my all time favorite. I love the simplicity, the twists of flavor, and especially the frosted pecans.

Spinach - cleaned and washed, torn into bite sized pieces
1-2 c. frosted pecans
1-2 granny smith apples chopped
1/2 c. chopped red onion
Feta cheese
Girrard's Champagne or Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing

Toss all ingredients lightly and immediately serve.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Strawberries and Cream Cake / Strawberry Shortcake

My husband's favorite dessert is Strawberry Shortcake. While we prefer to use angel food cake, most of the time this is a last minute, thrown together dessert and I don't have time to run to the store.

Here's the simple version we use instead

1 white or yellow cake mix - prepare as directed and bake in either a tube pan, 9" rounds, or a 9x13.

30 minutes to an hour before serving, rinse, hull and slice strawberries. Place in a bowl along with 1/2 - 1 c. sugar. Toss to coat and let macerate.

Whipping Cream:
Pour 2 cups whipping cream into mixing bowl, and with electric mixer beat to stiff peaks, while gradually adding 1/4 - 1/2 c. sugar. Add 1/2 t. vanilla.

To assemble:
Cover cake with whipping cream and spoon strawberries and syrup over top.

Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies

This was our family's favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie growing up. While I can't validate the veracity, we were always told that this was a "Mrs. Field's" recipe.

Ironically, several months ago, we traveled for a couple of days to attend my nephew's baptism. My sister-in-law's friends had helped bring in some treats for refreshments, and I couldn't keep my hands off of these cookies.

When I got the recipe I was astonished to find out that the recipe was exactly the same as my family's favorite recipe, but cut-in half. Following is the large batch recipe (112 cookies) but it can easily be cut in half.

Cream together
2 c. butter
2 c. sugar
2 c. brown sugar

4 eggs
2 t. vanilla

Mix together:
4 c. flour
5 c. oatmeal (Put small amount in blender at a time until it turns to powder - after measuring.)
1 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda

Mix together all ingredients.

24 oz. milk chocolate chips (1 c. butter-scotch chips may also be used)
3 c. chopped nuts
8 oz Hershey bar (or Skor) grated or crushed

Bake on un-greased cookie sheet. Roll into golf ball-size cookies 2 inches apart. Bake at 375* for 6-10 minutes.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Michelle Obama's Apple Cobbler


I found this recipe on the internet and my family and guests really enjoyed it. While not a huge fan of prepared pie crust, you easily make this with homemade pie crust as well.


* 8 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced [or a bag of frozen peeled apples]
* 1-1/2 to 2 cups of brown sugar
* 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 cup white flour

Mix these ingredients together in a bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight so the spice goes all the way through the apples.

* 3 sheets refrigerated pie crust
* 1 stick of butter

Preheat oven at 325 degrees. Butter and flour the bottom of a large baking dish. Roll out three pie crusts real thin -- as thin as possible. Layer the bottom of the pan with 1-1/2 of the pie crusts and prick a few holes in it. Pour the apples with the liquid into the pie pan. Dot 3/4 of a stick of butter around the apples. Use the final 1-1/2 pie crusts to cover the apple mixture entirely (let the pie crust overlap the pan).

Pinch the edges of the dough around the sides of the pan so the mixture is completely covered.

Melt final 1/4 stick of butter and brush all over top of crust.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Bake at 300 for up to 3 hours -- that's what makes the crust flaky, like Barack likes it. Put the cobbler in the oven and go for a walk, go to the store, or do whatever you have to do around the house. Start looking at the cobbler after two and a half hours so it doesn't burn.

Serve anytime
This recipe makes one cobbler, which is like a double pie.
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Monday, June 8, 2009

Thin Mint Cookies

Yes - these are just like the girl scout cookies. While the recipe book I found these in (an SAA compilation) called them Slim Mints, they are so similar to the girl scout ones that it is scary. At first, I wasn't sure, but later, once they set up, they got a little more crunchy - I was amazed. Also, some of them are still not completely set in the picture.

Here it is:
1 Devil's Food or chocolate cake mix
3 T. butter
1/2 c. flour
1 egg
1/4 c. water
1/4 t. peppermint extract

Combine the dough ingredients. Mix by hand until a crumbly dough forms. Roll the dough into 4 logs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove wrapping and slice logs into 1/4 inch cookie rounds. Bake on greased sheet at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove from baking sheet immediately after removing from oven.

1/4 t. peppermint extract
6 T. butter
4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Place the ingredients in a double boiler over medium heat (or in microwave) and melt, stirring frequently, adding a bit of water if it thickens too much. Dip the cookies in chocolate and place on cooling rack to dry.

NOTE: I FOUND THAT THESE TURN OUT MUCH BETTER IF YOU LET THEM COOL ON THE RACK FOR A WHILE UNTIL THEY ARE VERY COOL, CRISP, AND HARD. If you dip them in the chocolate sauce too early they will remain soft and are a disappointment.

How to quickly peel, cut, and cube a watermelon


Many years ago my husband and I were working on an activities committee for our church and we were in charge of the annual fourth of July breakfast. Also on the committee were a couple of retired women who had been school cooks. One of them taught us this handy way to cut melons. It is so quick and efficient and makes it a snap.
First, cut the watermelon in half (not lengthwise).
Place the heart of the watermelon down on the cutting board and slice off the very top slice.
Then, starting from the first cut, proceed to cut down, cutting off strips as you go.

After you have removed the rind, slice the watermelon (horizontally) into several rounds.

Then, slice several times vertically until your cubes are the appropriate size.

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Place the serving bowl upside down on the cutting board, and rapidly invert.