Toffee Chocolate Crunch Bars

>> Tuesday, December 22, 2009

This is an unbelievably simple cookie to make, but people will think you created a special treat. Very few ingredients also make this an inexpensive addition to your holiday.

OVEN: 350 degrees

Line a greased 9 x 13" cookie sheet (with sides) with one layer of saltine crackers.

In a small pan, melt one cup butter with one cup brown sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour sugar mixture evenly over crackers. Bake for 7 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with one 12 oz package of chocolate chips. Allow to melt and spread evenly over top of crackers and sugar. Cool completely and break into uneven pieces.


Almond Glazed Sugar Cookies

A perennial Christmas favorite, this cookie is simple, yet delicious. It also makes a wonderful cookie for a bridal shower or tea.

OVEN: 400 degrees

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Combine butter, sugar and almond extract in large mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy (1-2 minutes). Reduce speed to low; add all remaining ingredients. Beat until well mixed (another 1-2 minutes).

Roll dough into 1 inch balls; place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Flatten balls to 1/4 inch thickness with bottom of a buttered glass dipped in sugar. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet. Cool completely.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
4-5 teaspoons water
Sliced almonds

Stir together all glaze ingredients in small bowl with wire whisk. Decorate cooled cookies with glaze and sliced almonds.

Makes: 3 1/2 dozen cookies.


Rolled Sugar Cookies

>> Friday, October 16, 2009

These are a perennial favorite around our house. Every year in October we make a big batch of cut-out cookies shaped like pumpkins. When my kids were little they had great fun decorating with colored icing, sprinkles, candy corn ... whatever we had handy in the kitchen. Now I make and decorate and the kids enjoy them when they get home from work or are visiting from school!

OVEN: 350 degrees

3 cups flour
3/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon milk

Cream 1 cup of the flour and margarine. Add sugar and baking powder. Beat eggs in separate dish. Add eggs, milk, vanilla and remaining flour. Roll out on a flour board and cut out shapes.

Roll dough about 1/4" thick. Use favorite cookie cutter.

Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly brown around the edges.



Apple Butter

>> Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Apple time is upon us so I'm pulling out all my favorite apple recipes. We'll shortly be making our yearly supply of applesauce, and from some of that sauce we'll create apple butter. This all-purpose product makes a wonderful spread for toast or homemade bread, a great Christmas gift, and a good alternative to peanut butter!

8 cups unsweetened applesauce
4 cups sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons Allspice
2 teaspoons ground cloves (this is the strongest spice, so adjust to preference)
**Combine all ingredients in a large crock pot. Leaving the top off, cook on high for 6-7 hours. Be sure to stir occasionally as a skin will form on top. Ladle hot into pint jars and process at 5 lbs for 10 minutes. Yields about 5 pints.


Saucy Apple Cake

>> Friday, October 2, 2009

It was a beef stew kind of day today. Rainy and gray and very chilly. And nothing goes better with beef stew than apple cake with warm vanilla sauce. The rest of the family seemed to think so too as this was about all that was left after dinner this evening!

OVEN: 350 degrees

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups peeled, shredded tart apple
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

In a mixing bowl, cream sugar and shortening. Add egg and mix well. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in the apples and walnuts. Spread in a greased 8 inch square baking pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until cake tests done.

Vanilla Sauce:

1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup light cream (I use milk)
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine sugar, cornstarch and cream/milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add butter and vanilla; stir until butter is melted. Serve warm over warm cake.

Makes: 9 servings


Chocolate Pudding Cake

>> Friday, September 18, 2009

This creation is one of my most favorite recipes from my mom. It is so simple, but so CHOCOLATE! I've seen many spin-offs from this recipe lately (think "lava cake"), but none are as good as this recipe from my childhood.

OVEN: 350 degrees

3 Tablespoons baking cocoa
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix all ingredients until well blended. Pour into an 8 x 12" baking dish.

Over top of cake mixture, sprinkle (without mixing):
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 Tablespoons baking cocoa
1 1/2 cups cold water

Bake for 40 minutes.

Best served warm as topping forms a pudding in bottom of cake pan. Takes great with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.


Around the Kitchen

>> Saturday, September 12, 2009

We just finished a tasty meal of Hamburger Pie. On a chilly, rainy day, it's the perfect way to warm up your insides. As I was putting it together, it occurred to me that this is one of the "freshest" meals we've enjoyed in a while. The ground beef is from our recent annual purchase of a side of beef ... the potatoes are fresh from a friend's garden ... green beans are homegrown ... eggs are from a local chicken farmer ... and the grated cheese is an awesome 7X cheddar from the local farm market. Is your mouth watering yet?!

In other kitchen news, we spent some time with family recently and I discovered an awesome kitchen store! We were puttering around some of the shops in National Harbor, MD and wandered into Stonewall Kitchen. I immediately fell in love. It was tough not walking out of there with one of each of the delicious sauces they sell. I settled on the Chocolate Hazelnut Sauce, which I have been hoarding for a special occasion ever since. I also came home with the Stonewall Kitchen Breakfast Cookbook. I can't wait to try out some of the recipes. Titles like Walnut Pancakes with Maple-Glazed Apples and Thick Double-Chocolate Cocoa sound almost too good to be true!

It will soon be time to think about making some fresh applesauce and apple butter. The cans of green beans are already on the shelf and the freezer is full of beef for the winter. I love this time of year!


Waffles are Wonderful

>> Friday, August 28, 2009

We're more apt to eat waffles for dinner than for breakfast. We love to eat them with bacon, sausage ... anything to make a hefty dinner meal. Sometimes we dress them up by mixing blueberries or chocolate chips into the batter. And toppings are endless ... ice cream ... sauces ... you name it, it probably can top a waffle.

This is a basic waffle batter ... you can invest the time "messing" with it ... or toss all the ingredients in the bowl if you're in a hurry. You really can't ruin it unless you over-beat.

2 1/2 cups flour
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup canola oil

Sift together dry ingredients. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks, add the milk, and then add the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites to a thick foam and add them gently to the mixture.

This makes 8-10 waffles, depending on how thick you like them.


Spaghetti Sauce

>> Thursday, August 6, 2009

It won't be long and it will be time to begin doing creative things with tomatoes. One of the things I've done for years is make my own spaghetti sauce to can. It's wonderful to pull a quart of spaghetti sauce off the shelf in the dead of winter to make a delicious pan of lasagna or ziti. Tastes just like summer despite the snow on the ground!

4 quarts (16 cups) processed tomatoes
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder (1 crushed garlic clove)
3 Tablespoons parsley flakes
1 teaspoon Basil
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Pepper
6 teaspoons salt
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 - 12 oz can tomato paste

To process tomatoes I wash them, cut out the stem, quarter the tomatoes and process in a blender, skin and all. I use a combination of a "canning" tomato and Romas ... about 3 to 1.

In a large stew pot empty the processed tomatoes. Mix in all ingredients except the tomato paste. Cook for 30 minutes on medium heat .... stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste and cook another 30-45 minutes until sauce cooks down and thickens.

Yields: 7 pints


Fourth of July desserts

>> Sunday, July 12, 2009

Despite the rainy, gray skies, we had a great time with friends on the 4th. We grilled and shared salads and munchies ... and for dessert ... we had pies and chocolate! Great way to top off some delicious food.

One of the favorites was Toll House Pie. Unbelievably rich, this pie can be served warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream ... or straight up from the pie plate.

OVEN: 325 degrees


2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 - 9" unbaked pie shell

Beat eggs 'til foamy. Add flour and sugars. Beat until well blended. Blend in melted butter. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Pour pie mixture into unbaked pie shell. Bake 1 hour.


Kitchen Wisdom

>> Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In honor of summer days ahead, I thought I'd share some more from Your Household Guide ... especially about flowers!

  • A tablespoon of household bleach added to the water in a vase of zinnias will keep the stems from rotting and you will have fresh flowers longer.
  • Midday or afternoon is the best time to cut roses and gladiolus.
  • To make a fern healthy and grow fast, put a piece of fresh meat in the pot every few weeks; must not be salty.
  • Use ice cubes to water indoor plants. They will melt slowly and not spill over.
  • Insert a few rusty nails in the soil around your African violets. The blossoms will be larger, more profuse and will have a brighter color. Keep in north window and water from the bottom.
  • Did you know that if you pour 2 tablespoons of castor oil around the roots of your Christmas cactus in October it will bloom in December?

Enjoy your 4th of July holiday weekend! Be sure to spend some of it outside in your flower garden.



Blueberry Pie

>> Saturday, June 27, 2009

We're headed to a friend's farm for a picnic tomorrow afternoon, and I'm supposed to take "something to share". I really hate it when someone says "bring something to share"! Just tell me *what* to bring and I'll be happy to make it, but sometimes the process of deciding what to make is harder than the making itself. Anyway ... one of the things I decided to "share" is blueberry pie (the photo is of the pie *before* baking - that way I was sure to get a picture!).

I like to can blueberry pie filling. It makes pie making a breeze and it's a no-brainer when someone asks me to bring a dessert or pie. All I really have to make then is the pie crust. Once that is done, just open the jar and pour in the filling.


2 cups flour
2/3 cup shortening or lard (I like to use Crisco's butter-flavored shortening)
Scant 1/2 cup water

In a mixing bowl, cut shortening into flour till pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle water over the flour mixture ... gently toss with a fork. Add more water (sparingly) until the dough holds together. On a lightly floured surface, flatten *half* of the dough ball and then roll dough from center to edge, forming a circle about 12" in diameter. Gently fold in half and lay into a 9" pie plate. Open and ease pastry into plate. Trim to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Roll out the other dough ball on the floured surface and lay on top after placing desired pie filling in shell. Trim top crust 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold extra pastry under bottom crust and flute edge.

Cover edges with pie crust shield and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove shield and bake 20-25 minutes longer. Cool on wire rack or serve warm with vanilla ice cream.


4 cups fresh, washed blueberries
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch

Mix sugar and cornstarch in a large pot. Dump in freshly washed blueberries. Begin cooking over low heat, stirring well to coat blueberries with sugar/starch mixture. As blueberries begin to "juice", keep stirring. Cook long enough to thicken the mixture. Remove from heat and dump into a quart jar.

Process sufficient quarts of pie filling to fill your canner. Pressure can at 10 lbs for 10 minutes or process in a water bath for 30 minutes.

When ready to fill a pie, pop open the top and stir the mixture inside the quart jar. Dump into pie shell.


Hamburger Pie

>> Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This is one of my husband's favorite meals. Also known as Shepherd's Pie, it's an inexpensive yet filling dish. I tend to make it more in the fall or winter, but when I asked him what he wanted to eat for Father's Day, this was my dh's first choice!

OVEN: 350 degrees

2 lbs ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 - 16 oz cans frenched or cut green beans, drained
2 - 10 3/4 oz cans condensed tomato soup
6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, cook the ground beef and onion until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain off fat. Stir in beans and soup. If the mixture is dry, stir in 1/2 to 1 cup water (I rarely need to add any water). Turn mixture into 13 x 9" baking dish.

In a covered pan cook potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain. Mash while hot; stir in eggs. Add enough milk to make potatoes fluffy, yet stiff enough to hold their shape. Drop potatoes in mounds atop meat mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.

(Disclaimer ... the photo above is a stock photo. My crew ate ours up before I got a photo).


Cherry Pie

>> Sunday, June 21, 2009

It won't be long before cherries are in season, so I decided to finish up the few bags of frozen fruit I have in my freezer. I'm not sure I'd mess around with cherries if I had to pick them, but the local farm market will have wonderful sours before too long. They're messy to pit, but taste wonderful in a pie or crisp in the dead of winter. My family got into this one before I had a chance to shoot a photo. It obviously tasted good!

OVEN: 375 degrees

4 cups fresh or frozen pitted sour/tart red cherries
1 1/2 cups sugar (divided)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 Tablespoon butter
3 or 4 drops almond extract

9" pie plate lined with pastry

Drain cherries; reserve 1 cup liquid. In a sauce pan, combine 3/4 cup of the sugar and the cornstarch. Stir in reserved cherry liquid. Whisk together to eliminate lumps. Cook and stir over medium heat till thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Remove from heat.

Stir in remaining 3/4 cup sugar, the cherries, butter and almond extract. Let stand while preparing pastry. Fill 9-inch pie plate with cherry mixture. Adjust a lattice crust over top and flute edge. Cover edge of pie and bake for 25 minutes. Remove cover, bake for 25-30 minutes more or till crust is golden. Cool on wire rack before serving ... or serve warm with ice cream.


Chocolate Banana Cake

>> Thursday, June 18, 2009

This is one of my daughter's latest creations. We had some "old" bananas that needed to be used up, so in addition to making some delicious bread, she whipped up this wonderful cake. Incredibly moist, we made short work of it. It tastes good without the frosting, but if there's any way to make chocolate cake taste better, the topping on this one does it!

OVEN: 350 degrees

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large banana, mashed
2 cups flour
4 tablespoons, cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Beat together the first 6 ingredients, until blended. Stir in the bananas. Combine and add the remaining ingredients and stir until mixture is blended. Be careful not to overmix.

Spread batter into a greased bundt pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool for a time in the pan. Remove from pan to rack to finish cooling.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 Tablespoon cream (or milk)

Stir together all the ingredients until blended. Butter and chocolate can be melted together in a microwave oven. Cook for 1 minute on High. Stir and cook for 30 seconds longer. Stir until blended.


Strawberry Shortcake

>> Monday, June 15, 2009

It must almost be summer because strawberries are in at the market! For the next few weeks we'll enjoy strawberry shortcake more than a few times. I suppose we're shortcake snobs ... because it has to be topped with "real" whipped cream (nothing from a tub or a can). This shortcake recipe originated with a friend and has become a family favorite.

OVEN: 450 degrees

2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoon baking powder
dash ground nutmeg

Combine the above ingredients and cut in 1/2 cup butter. Add one egg and 1/3 cup milk. Mix well with fork.

Turn out dough onto floured board. Knead gently. Pat evenly into greased 8" round cake pan.

Bake 15-20 minutes. Let stand in pan on rack for 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack to finish cooling.

Split cake and fill with sweetened strawberries. Top with fresh whipped cream.


It was a HUGE hit ...

>> Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Oreo Cookie Ice Cream Dessert went over famously at our picnic on Sunday. My husband and kids were hoping for left-overs to bring home. No such luck!

Here are a couple of things I learned from making this recipe ...

  1. If you're making this on a hot, humid day, put the Oreos in the refrigerator for a couple hours prior to crushing them. Otherwise the cookie filling is very soft and makes crushing the cookies a bit messy.
  2. If you don't have whipped topping (because your children used it up and neglected to add it to the grocery list), another flavor of ice cream on top works just fine! I happened to have some Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream in the house which was a wonderful topper for this dessert.
This one is definitely a keeper!



BBQ Shrimp

>> Monday, May 18, 2009

Here's another summer treat. Seafood is made that much better by grilling.

Soak wooden skewers in water 20-30 minutes to prevent scorching. You'll need approximately 16 ten-inch wooden skewers.

Lemon-Basil Sauce:
2 cups chopped basil leaves
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon peel
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic minced

Whisk together or process in a blender/food processor.

Run 2 parallel skewers through two shrimp. Add a piece of scallion, then two more shrimp.

Grill shrimp 6-8 minutes on a side, turning onnly once. Serve with sauce for dipping.


Kitchen Wisdom

I love to collect old cookbooks, especially those from folks I know. My kitchen is small, so I don't own nearly as many as I'd like, but those that I do have are very special. One book I find especially intriguing came from my dad's mother. It's not really a cookbook, but a volume of what I like to call "kitchen wisdom". It's titled "Your Household Guide" and was published in 1951 by Walsworth Brothers.

I thought I would occasionally share some tidbits from this book under the title of Kitchen Wisdom. Hopefully you will find these as interesting and helpful as I have! I love to take a glimpse back at households of years gone by. I find that the truly helpful wisdom stands the test of time.

Two snippets of wisdom to share for today . . .

To evenly distribute wear on sheets, put the small hem at the top of the bed at least half of the time.

Place the egg in a pan of water. If fresh, it will lie on its side. If a few days old, it will tilt upwards. If stale, it will stand on end. If very old, it will float.

There, now don't you feel wiser already?!


Oreo Ice Cream Dessert

>> Saturday, May 16, 2009

I've been brainstorming in vain for a new recipe to make for our fairly regular Memorial Day picnic. This year it will be at a friend's house, and I wanted something new and exciting that would leave people asking, "can I get that recipe?!" My friend Robyn saved the day when she shared this delicious dessert that apparently is a hit for her family. I can't wait to give this a try next weekend!

In a 13x9" baking dish, place a layer of crushed Oreos (flavor of choice - I'm going to use mint).
Add a 1" layer of ice cream of choice (I'm going to use french vanilla)
Next, drizzle half a jar of favorite hot fudge sauce (I'll use my own recipe - to follow)
Repeat another lay of crushed Oreos, followed by another layer of ice cream.
Top with favorite whipped topping and sprinkled with more crushed Oreos.

Freeze "hard" before serving (at least a couple of hours).

Mom's Hot Fudge Sauce

2/3 cup baking cocoa
6 Tablespoons butter
1 cup evaporated milk
2 cups powdered sugar

In a medium sized sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in cocoa. Stir in milk and sugar alternately. Bring to a boil and boil while stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat allow to cool just a bit as the sauce will thicken.

Thanks Robyn!!


Teriyaki Steak Kabobs

>> Friday, May 15, 2009

The grill came out of it's winter home in the garden shed, so it must almost be summer. I love summer foods ... grilled "anything" is our food of choice. This is one of our favorites.

2 lb boneless steak cut of choice (I tend to use boneless chuck)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Cube meat to desired size. Mix together all marinade ingredients and marinate meat cubes 2-3 hours before grilling.

Thread meat on skewers, alternating with onion, zucchini, or other cubed veggies. Grill until meat juices run clear.


Butter Rolls

>> Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We all know company's coming when I make these rolls. They're so easy to mix up in the bread machine, and turn out very light and buttery. They taste especially yummy with homemade apple butter or honey.

OVEN: 350 degrees

6-7 ounces milk (room temp)
1/4 warm water
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
3 1/4 cups bread flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Measure all ingredients into bread pan and run on dough setting. Remove from bread machine and divide dough into 12 pieces. Grease your favorite muffin pan and fill with dough. Cover and let raise in a warm location until doubled in size.

Bake 25-28 minutes. Remove immediately from muffin pan to rack for cooling.


Country White Bread

This is a standard for us. A very reliable recipe that can be changed up as you desire. I sometimes replace two cups of the bread flour with a white wheat flour. This makes a nice sandwich bread, or great for breakfast toasted.

OVEN: 350 degrees

7-9 ounces milk (room temp.)
1 large egg
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter, softened
4 cups bread flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Measure all ingredients into bread pan. Run on dough setting. Transfer dough to large greased loaf pan. Cover and let raise until doubled in size.

Bake 25-28 minutes. Remove immediately from loaf pan to rack to cool.


Sheila's Granola

>> Monday, May 4, 2009

At a recent work conference my friend Sheila made this wonderful granola. I don't know about you, but any granola recipe I've ever tried has had 20+ ingredients and took hours to cook at a low oven temperature. This recipe, on the other hand, uses just six ingredients and is done in 45 minutes. You can change it up with your favorite dried fruits to give it a little zing. I make it about once a week and have enough for 4-5 breakfast meals (if I can keep my son out of it!).

OVEN: 300 degrees

2 cups quick oats
1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1 cup shredded coconut
1 can fat free condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Bake for 45 minutes ... stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool until the granola is dry. Store in an air-tight container. It tastes great with milk, though I prefer to mix it into fat free French Vanilla yogurt. Yummy!

Based on how long it's been since I've posted a new recipe, it's obvious that I need some quick-to-make recipes like this one!


Happy Resurrection Sunday!

>> Saturday, April 11, 2009

As we eagerly anticipate celebrating what is one of the most significant events in history, I thought I would share our Easter Sunday menu! We're looking forward to all being together as a family ... daughter home from college with a friend ... and good friends to join us. Eleven of us in all will enjoy the following ...

Smoked Picnic (ham) that will slow cook in my crock pot all night tonight
Ham Gravy (which I will make just before dinner is served)
Potato Salad (our first of the season!)
Applesauce Jello
Green Beans (that I canned last fall)
Hot Cross Buns (just took them out of the oven - they small delicious)
Blueberry Muffins

And a "mystery" dessert that my friend is bringing. She makes the best "sweets" so I'm sure it will be yummy.

I wish you a most blessed Resurrection Sunday and pray that you all have a reason to celebrate.


Creme de menthe Cake

>> Friday, April 10, 2009

I wanted something sweet, but not icky sweet, for dessert tonight. Couldn't decide what sounded good until I came across this recipe. A family favorite, it's easy to serve "straight up" or dressed and fancy with your favorite icing recipe. I'm sure we'll enjoy this tonight!

OVEN: 350 degrees

1 pkg yellow cake mix
1/3 cup canola oil
4 eggs
8 oz sour cream
1 pkg instant pistachio pudding
1/4 cup creme de menthe syrup
6-8 oz chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together well and pour into a greased bundt pan. Bake 55-60 minutes. Cool for 15-20 minutes in pan on a rack. Turn from bundt pan onto plate.


Egg Bread

>> Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I have an abundance of eggs this week (which is somewhat unusual in this house) so I went looking for a new Egg Bread recipe to try. I found this one in the Bread Machine Gourmet. After a little tweaking of the recipe, I gave it a whirl. This one is definitely a keeper. It delivered what the book promised ... a light and airy bread.

OVEN: 350 degrees

1/3 cup warm milk
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (I prefer white wheat flour)
1 1/4 cups bread flour (you can replace 1/4 cup of this with graham flour)
1/2 cup warm water
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 Tablespoon honey (I have Goldenrod honey)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Add ingredients to pan in bread machine. Use dough setting ... when done, shape loaf and place in large loaf pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from loaf pan and cool on wire rack.

Tastes wonderful just warm out of the oven ... with a nice glop of that goldenrod honey!


Stir Fry Sauce

>> Monday, April 6, 2009

This is one of the simplest sauces I have in my recipe book, but it has lots of uses. One of the ways I like to fix some of those fresh veggies from our garden is to stir fry them. Any mix of carrots, onions, peppers, green beans ... really almost any veggie ... tastes great with this sauce.

1/4 cup of your favorite soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 minced garlic clove)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons corn starch

Whisk these ingredients together until thoroughly mixed. Add to veggies a few minutes before they are finished cooking. Simmer 3-5 minutes to allow veggies to soak in flavor.



Zucchini Chip Bread

>> Wednesday, April 1, 2009

This zucchini recipe is from my mom. There's virtually nothing in life that doesn't taste better when you add a bit of chocolate! Well ... almost nothing. This recipe is fun because it uses applesauce to add moisture and great flavor.

OVEN: 350 degrees

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chocolate chips

Combine the first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, applesauce, oil and vanilla. Stir into the dry ingredients until just moist. Fold in zucchini, nuts and chocolate chips. Pour into two greased 9x5x3" loaf pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes.

Cool in pan on a rack for 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan to finish cooling on rack.

You get to decide if this qualifies as a bread or dessert!


Zucchini Bread

This was my mother-in-law's zucchini bread recipe. She was awesome in the kitchen ... making some of the best baked goods I've ever tasted. In her younger days she worked in a bakery and her entire family benefited from that experience. She rarely wrote down recipes, so having even a couple is truly a treasure!

OVEN: 350 degrees

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream oil and butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Stir in zucchini. Stir in dry ingredients. Add chopped nuts or raisins if desired. Spoon in a large, greased loaf pan. Bake 55-60 minutes. Cool for 10-15 minutes in the loaf pan on a rack. Remove to rack to finish cooling.

This bread is best baked a day ahead of when you want to serve. Freezes well.


Time to plant?

>> Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Well ... here in the chilly northeast, it's probably better described as time to dream about planting. Here and there some brave plants are poking their heads out of the ground. Wandering around our yard the other day, I snapped a few shots and began thinking about what I would plant in our raised beds this summer.

Most of what I plant we either eat fresh, or I can/freeze to take us through the winter. While we're still enjoying our delicious homegrown produce from the pantry, there's nothing quite like enjoying those vegetables when they're fresh.

Here's what I usually plant and how I use each one:

  • Carrots - a couple of long rows of carrots allows us to enjoy some fresh during the summer, but they also store quite well for a few months. I usually harvest them after the first frost (which makes them sweeter), clip off the green tops and scrub them clean. Then I store them in my refrigerator crisper drawers where they stay fresh for about 3 months.
  • Green Beans - I stagger my plantings of bush-style green beans. That way we can enjoy a constant supply of fresh beans (steamed and sprinkled with crispy bacon bits!), and still have a good amount to can later in the summer.
  • Cucumbers - while I know there are lots of wonderful things to do with cukes, we grow them to eat fresh. We just can never get enough! When I was growing up, my mom and I made dill pickles one year, and sweet pickles other years. Too much work IMHO!
  • Pumpkins - I love to grow small/pie pumpkins. They are a hearty vine plant and are ready for picking and storing late in the fall ... in plenty of time for holiday baking. Pie pumpkins are easy to cook up and freeze for lots of delicious winter pies.
  • Zucchini - this is the plant that produces more than any family can use, no matter how many or few plants you put in. We chunk and grill zucchini in foil packs along with fresh carrots and chunked onions. Delicious! I also shred and freeze 1 and 2 cup portions for winter cakes and breads.
  • Green Peppers - these we eat fresh.
  • Onion - I plant 1 or 2 lbs of onion sets every year. Long about late July or early August it's time to thin out the green onions (great for adding to grilled veggies) so the rest have room to expand and grow. Before the first frost I pull the onions, clean off the greenery and lay the onions outdoors on a flat surface to dry. Then I store them in a mesh bag in the basement for 3-4 months of winter.
Every year I experiment with other new plants ... some are successful and others aren't. I tend to plant herbs and a cherry tomato plant or two in containers near my kitchen door.

So dream with me! What plants are you planning on for this summer? Do you just plant for fresh eating, or do you also store for the winter?

Watch here for some veggie recipes!



>> Thursday, March 26, 2009

A friend asked for a good shortcake recipe today, and I was glad to share our family favorite. I never think about serving strawberry shortcake until summer, but even with frozen strawberries this can make a good treat.

OVEN: 450 degrees

2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
Dash nutmeg

Combine these ingredients and cut in 1/2 cup butter. Add 1 egg and 1/3 cup milk. Mix well with fork.

Turn out dough onto floured board. Knead gently. Pat evenly into greased 8" round cake pan. Bake 15-20 minutes. Let stand in pan on rack 5 minutes. Turn out to cool on rack.

Split cake and fill with sweetened strawberries. Top with fresh whipped cream.


Chicken with Honey Mustard

>> Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This dish was a favorite of mine from a local restaurant. Since I couldn't afford to go out to eat every time I had a hankering for this tasty chicken, I came up with a recipe that comes pretty close.

In a large fry pan, saute until tender: 2 Tablespoons butter, 1 large onion (chopped), sliced mushrooms and diced celery. Remove vegetables from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, cook 1/2 chicken breast per person. Brown on both sides. Add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup red cooking wine to pan with chicken. Cover and simmer, turning chicken once. Top with onion mixture and 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey mustard per breast. Cover and continue to simmer until tender.

Sprinkle with grated mozzarella ... cover and heat until cheese melts. Serve hot with your favorite wild rice recipe. Serves 6-8.


Spiced Applesauce Cake

>> Monday, March 23, 2009

OVEN: 350 degrees

Another great use for applesauce. Cake is not a favorite of ours, but this moist, spicy dessert is an exception to that rule. We enjoy it with or without any glaze or icing.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup sour cream

1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (I use 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cloves and 1/2 tsp nutmeg)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup currants (optional)
1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup applesauce

Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg and sour cream until blended. Stir together the next 7 ingredients and add these alternately with the applesauce to the creamed mixture, beating only until blended.

Place batter into a well-greased 10-inch tube pan and bake for about 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan. Remove to serve. Drizzle with favorite glaze or icing if desired.


Apple Walnut Bread

Every fall we either pick, or purchase at the local farm market, way too many apples. I then can way too many quarts of applesauce! Thus, I'm always on the look-out for great recipes that use applesauce. This bread machine recipe is a family favorite. Easy to make and delicious toasted for breakfast or sliced fresh with a tasty pork roast dinner, you can't go wrong with this one.

6 oz applesauce
3-5 ozs apple juice
3 Tablespoons butter
1 large egg
4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Measure all ingredients into bread pan. Select dough setting if you want to bake the loaf in your oven. Shape dough into a greased, large loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Choose your Basic or Sweet Bread setting if you want to bake the loaf in your bread machine.


Beanless Mexican Dip

>> Sunday, March 22, 2009

March Madness is in full swing around here. Our family has always enjoyed good college hoops (GO S.U.!!). One of our favorite game-time snacks is this variation on a traditional Mexican bean dip.

1 - 15 oz can Hormel No Bean Chili
1 - 8 0z brick cream cheese (softened)
Shredded cheese for topping (we really like shredded Monterey Jack/Colby mix)

Spread softened cream cheese evenly in bottom of a glass 8 x 8" baking dish.

Spread No-Bean Chili over top of cream cheese layer.

Sprinkle shredded cheese evenly over top of the chili layer.

Cook in microwave oven for 3 minutes at high power (until cheese begins to melt and chili bubbles through). Serve with favorite tortilla chips.


Ultimate Blog Party 2009

>> Saturday, March 21, 2009

Running March 20-27th, the Ultimate Blog Party is a great way to meet lots of other bloggin' moms out there in the "momosphere"!

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

Of course I'm joining in on the fun by offering the only prize any self-respecting recipe blog would offer ... CHOCOLATE!

This container of Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Malt Balls will make you drool!! Crispy malted milk centers enrobed in pure Ghirardelli Milk chocolate. Enter my drawing by emailing me no later than 6 pm ET on March 27th. The winner will be notified on March 28th by email. Only those with a Continental US address will be eligible to win.

Point your browser at the Ultimate Blog Party over on the 5 Minutes for Mom site to find out what others are doing for the party. I'm hoping to win something exciting as well.

My personal favorites are:
1. 58 – Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer
Provided by: Moms Who Think

2. 68 – $30 gift certificate to Christian Book Distributors
Provided by: A High And Noble Calling

3. 86 –$25 Gift Certificate to Close To My Heart
Provided by: ThatGirlBlogs

Other favorites would include #69, #88, #89, or #109. What would you pick?

Before you head over to check out all the great prizes, be sure to bookmark my blog and invite your friends to join the drawining for some delicious chocolate!!


Strawberry Julius Smoothie

I've been searching for great smoothie recipes for over a year now. I came across this one on one of the Sonlight Forums last week and thought it sounded wonderful! Hats off to Farmermom for what sounds like a yummy treat!

In your blender add ...
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
Splash of vanilla
1 Tablespoon egg substitute (or one egg white, if you trust your egg source)

Blend for about 20 seconds. Add six ice cubes and blend until smooth.


Chocolate Eclair Cake

>> Monday, March 16, 2009

A family-favorite, especially as a hot summer dessert. Requires a little bit of advance preparation, but well worth it!

1 - 3 oz package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 - 3 oz package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 - 8 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed (Cool Whip)
1 - 16 oz package graham crackers
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

- - - - - - - -

In a large bowl, combine vanilla pudding mix and 1 1/2 cups cold milk. Whisk together well. Fold in 1/2 of the whipped topping and beat with mixer for 2 minutes.

In a greased 9 x 13" baking dish, spread a layer of graham crackers on the bottom of the dish. Spread vanilla pudding mixture over crackers. Then top with another layer of graham crackers.

In a large bowl, combine chocolate pudding mix and 1 1/2 cups cold milk. Whisk together well. Fold in 1/2 of the whipped topping and beat with mixer for 2 minutes. Spread over the layer of graham crackers. Top second pudding layer with another layer of crackers.

To make topping: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 1/4 cup milk, cocoa and sugar and allow to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat ... add butter and vanilla. Mix well and cool. Pour topping evenly over graham cracker layer and refrigerate until set. Serve.


Crunchy Apple Dessert

This delicious treat tastes very much like an apple pie sundae that Friendly's used to serve. We eat it often in the fall, but it's great year-round.

OVEN: 350 degrees

1 1/2 cups Bisquick
1 cup sugar
1 egg

- - - - - - - -

Mix ingredients together and cut in 2 Tablespoons of butter until crumbly. Reserve 3/4 cup of the crumb mixture. Press remaining into an 8 x 8" baking dish.

Coarsely chop 3 peeled and cored apples. Sprinkle over top of crust. Combine 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1 Tablespoon sugar and 1/2 gteaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle over apples. Top with the reserved crumb mixture.

Bake for 25 minutes in a glass dish.

MAKES: 6-8 servings

Serving Idea: Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.


Ginger Snaps

This recipe is a perennial favorite in our house. Perhaps even more so than chocolate chip cookies!

OVEN: 350 degrees

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon

- - - - - - - -

Combine sugar and oil ... mix well. Add egg and beat well. Stir in molasses. Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Shape into 3/4" balls ... roll in white sugar. Bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from rack to cool.

MAKES: 2-3 dozen cookies



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