Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dreamwhip Frosting

This is an excellent recipe for cake decorating & frosting the Ginger Creams. The frosting will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks, covered. The kids like it on graham crackers as well.


2 c Crisco
1/2 c flour
1 envelope dreamwhip whipped topping mix
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 c milk or water - I've made it both ways & works well with either.
2 lbs powdered sugar

Cream dream whip & flour into Crisco - add salt & vanilla. Add liquid & 1 lb powdered sugar - sifted. Beat until blended. Add remaining sifted sugar & beat. Frosting will be soft & fluffy. Use for frosting & decorating. Keeps well refrigerated.

** I usually add the liquid & both pounds of powdered sugar - unsifted - & beat until well blended. Have never had a problem doing it that way.

Pumpkin Cookies

This recipe definitely came from my Mom - it says so on the card. It has always been a favorite with the whole family & is being enjoyed by the 4th generation of our family. Frequently requested by the male members of the family, especially. This is the triple batch recipe - a single was never enough!

Cream together:

1 1/2 c shortening

3 c sugar


3 eggs

3 c pumpkin - I use the whole large can

3 heaping tsp cinnamon

3 tsp nutmeg

3/4 tsp ginger

3 tsp vanilla

Mix well & add:

4 1/2 c flour

3 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

& mix well.

Drop by heaping teaspoons on lightly greased cookie sheets & bake for 10-12 minutes at 350*

Makes approximately 6-8 dozen cookies.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Taste & Create October!

The lovely Nicole (aka myamii) of For the Love of Food and gracious host of the monthly Taste & Create event has asked for help this month. I am very excited to be guest-hosting this great event. The event will proceed as usual, with entrants needing to sign up by October 8th.

You may either leave a comment here to sign up or email me (you can find my email in the comments on Nicole's blog). Please don't forget to include:

o your name
o the name of your blog
o your blog’s address
o your email address

* You will receive an email with the partner list by the 11th of that month. You will need to go to the new Taste&Create website to get the link to your partner’s blog.

For the rest of the details, rules, etc. please refer to Nicole's info post. Submissions will be processed through the new T&C website (link above) as they come in. I will also be working on getting the remaining submissions from August posted as soon as possible.

I am so happy to be able to help. I look forward to a fabulous T&C event!

Nicole, have an excellent vacation in Ireland!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pear Butter

This recipe came about after I discovered how much I LOVE homemade Apple Butter. And since I have sooooo many pears from our trees in town. I decided I could make the Pear Butter using the same technique, just varying the spices. It is so simple. Not quick, but simple. The Pear Butter is inspired by the Apple Butter recipe from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook.

I will let you know how it turns out, of course, it still has at least 12 hours in the slow cooker today. It smells delicious in the house, once again.

The pear butter turned out great! Smooth and delicious. And so easy.

Pear Butter
Makes about 10 cups in a six-quart slow cooker.

Does anyone make pear butter? I don't know. But this is an easy recipe in the slow cooker, with very little hands-on time until you're ready to can the butter. Be sure to use unpeeled pears, since the pectin in the skins will help make the butter nice and thick. The yield will vary, depending on how thick you like your butter.

Setting and Cook Time: LOW for 12 to 20 hours; cooker is uncovered at 10 to 12 hours

5 pounds pears, unpeeled, cored, and cut up, or enough pears to fill your cooker
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of salt

1. Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Fill with the pears, almost to the top; the exact amount is not critical. As you load in the pears, sprinkle with the sugar in layers. Cover and let stand at room temperature all day; the pears will exude some of their own juice and collapse slightly. Pears are very juicy.

2. Add the spices and salt and toss the pears with a large wooden spoon. Cover and cook on LOW for 10 to 12 hours, or overnight.

3. In the morning, remove the lid and let the pear butter cook an additional 2 to 8 hours on low to reach the desired thickness.

4. Prepare your canning jars and lids during the last hour or so of cooking. Wash your jars and place them in a pot of very hot water, over the tops of the jars, but do not boil. Place your flat lids in a saucepan and cover with boiling water, then let sit off the heat. Have your clean screw rings ready, along with your towel, tongs, damp dish cloth, etc. (see here for canning hints)

5. Keep the slow cooker on low so the pear butter remains hot. Use a handheld immersion blender right in the crock and puree' the butter until it is as smooth as you'd like. Ladle the hot pear butter into hot glass jars, wipe rims, place hot flat lids on top and secure with screw rings. As jars are filled, place them on a clean towel, upside down. When all the jars are filled, let sit upside down for 10 minutes, then turn all jars right side up. Let cool on the counter for about 24 hours, then check for seals. In the meantime you should hear little pops as the jars are sealing.

UPDATE: I used to use the inversion method for canning jams and fruit butters, but I have since been made aware that this no longer considered a reliable canning method.  Prepare a pot of boiling water, and as jars are filled place them in the pot, making sure the water covers the lids by at least an inch.  Process (boil) for the recommended time for jams at your altitude--I am at 7,000 feet, so that means about 25 minutes for my jars.  Remove jars from pot and set them gently on a towel.  Let them sit, undisturbed for 24 hours, then test for seals. 

After 24 hours, press lightly on the middle of the lids, if a lid bounces back, it has not sealed and should be refrigerated. Store unsealed jars, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Or transfer to small plastic storage containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

Canned pear butter should be good for at least one year.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Apple Butter

After H-Bomb, Grandpa, Jean-Claude and I picked TONS of apples from the trees at our house in town, I was tasked with finding something to do with them. I thought of apple jam (but not jelly), but haven't tried it yet. I may do an experiment in the next few days, since we have so many apples.

And then I thought of apple butter. Really, I thought of how much my dad loves apple butter. I honestly don't even know if I like it, I haven't had it since I was a kid. But I found a recipe, so I am making some. A whole bunch, actually.

This recipe comes from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, and it sounded like something I could do. We have one of those old-fashioned kind of apple peeler/corer/slicer things that clamps onto the edge of your counter, and if we still had the piece of rubber that goes underneath it, it would clamp down tight and be quick and easy. We've apparently lost the rubber piece, so it slides around just a bit, but it really still does make quick work of peeling apples, especially these little ones we have. This is how it works:

Place the apple securely on the three prongs, making sure to line up the core in the center.

And start turning the crank, which will rotate the apple toward the peeler...

And through the corer/slicer. I forgot to take a picture of the end result, but basically you slide off the spiraled apple slices below, and the core remains on the three prongs. Remove the core, discard, and start again.

You are just left with a bowl of peels and cores, and a bowl of apples, neatly and uniformly sliced.

It does virtually everything for you, so all I was left to do was to quarter the sliced apples and discard any worm holey pieces. These are organic apples, after all.

Unfortunately, after Sawed Off and I ran a million apples through our peeler (the old-fashioned kind) and I already took the majority of the peels outside to feed to the goats in the morning, I read the following sentence in the recipe: "Be sure to use unpeeled apples, since the pectin in the skins will help make the butter nice and thick." Oops.

Luckily, Sawed Off had been eating and also hoarding apple peels, mostly from the ends that the peeler misses, in a small bowl that hadn't yet been discarded. It was the cutest thing, "You have 'nother peel for meeeeee?" I grabbed most of those, shoving them in the already-packed slow cooker and sprinkled them with about 1/4 cup more sugar. I don't think it's an exact recipe, so hopefully it will turn out.

I do want to try to put this in jars. My theory is that I can jar it up like jam, while it's still hot, and use the inversion method to seal the jars. This will involve blending it while it's still hot, or perhaps I could cool, blend, then reheat? I have no idea. But I will let you know what happens tomorrow. This is a multi-day process.

Will the apple butter be a success?
Will it be a failure?
Will my dad want to eat it?

Also, because we turn our generator off at night, I am doing this recipe the opposite of the way they suggest: I am letting the apples sit overnight, then turning the slow cooker on during the day, when it is possible to turn it on. Get it? It's the only way I can do these things. Oh how I wish I could try those overnight slow-cooked oatmeal recipes...someday, perhaps.

****It is now the next day. I added the spices and stirred the apples, and turned on the slow cooker at 7:AM. Four hours later, my house smells like apple pie...it is heavenly. Six to eight hours to go, then I will uncover the slow cooker and cook some more. I may be leaving the generator on later than 10:PM this evening...****

****Update #2, the late-night post: I finished cooking the apple butter, leaving it uncovered for about three hours. I couldn't wait; I borrowed my mother-in-law's immersion blender and it was perfect for the task. I blended the apple butter before I had finished the last cooking part. It really didn't need much longer than three hours.

While I was waiting, I made a batch of apple jam (first taste = delicious!) and then I ladled the hot apple butter into hot jars and put the lids on, turned them upside down and ladled some more. After all the jars were filled and overturned, I set my timer for 10 minutes, then turned them right-side up.
UPDATE: I used to use the inversion method for canning jams and fruit butters, but I have since been made aware that this no longer considered a reliable canning method.  Prepare a pot of boiling water, and as jars are filled place them in the pot, making sure the water covers the lids by at least an inch.  Process (boil) for the recommended time for jams at your altitude--I am at 7,000 feet, so that means about 25 minutes for my jars.  Remove jars from pot and set them gently on a towel.  Let them sit, undisturbed for 24 hours, then test for seals.   

I ended up with 10 half-pint (8 ounce) jars of apple butter, and enough for a couple healthy samples! It tastes complex and decadent, but it was soooo easy, really.

I have a whole bunch more apples. And now I know what to do with them! I'll let you know in the morning if my jars have sealed (I just heard one loud pop, so one down, nine to go!) Man, I hope they all seal. There's no way our little family can eat 10 jars of apple butter that quickly!

Oh yeah, and I am certain my dad will LOVE this.****

Apple Butter
Makes 5 to 8 cups (I ended up with just over 10 cups)

Everyone loves old-fashioned apple butter. In the oven or on the stove top, apple butter needs a watchful eye. And it is a messy process as well. Not so with slow cooker apple butter, one of the best uses of your 4- to 6-quart cooker. Be sure to use unpeeled apples, since the pectin in the skins will help make the butter nice and thick. The yield will vary, depending on how thick you like your butter.

Cooker: large round (I'm using large oval. I'm a rebel. You already knew that.)
Setting and Cook Time: LOW for 12 to 20 hours; cooker is uncovered at 10 to 12 hours

5 pounds tart cooking apples, unpeeled, cored, and cut up, or enough apples to fill your cooker
2 cups sugar
1 cup apple juice or cider (optional; see step 1)
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of salt

1. Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Fill with the apples, almost to the top; the exact amount is not critical (whew!). As you load in the apples, sprinkle with the sugar in layers. Cover and let stand at room temperature all day; the apples will exude some of their own juice and collapse slightly. If you want to skip this step, just add the apple juice.

2. Add the spices and salt and toss the apples with a large wooden spoon. Cover and cook on LOW for 10 to 12 hours, or overnight.

3. In the morning, remove the lid and let the apple butter cook an additional 2 to 8 hours on low to reach the desired thickness. (I may have to leave the generator on a bit longer tomorrow for this step...)

4. Turn off the cooker and let cool to room temperature in the crock. Transfer to a blender or food processor, or use a handheld immersion blender right in the crock and puree' the butter until completely smooth. Scrape with a rubber spatula into spring-top glass jars (or use screw tops with new lids). Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Or transfer to small plastic storage containers and freeze for up to 3 months. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oatmeal Scotchies

These cookies are one of my favorites; crispy and chewy and wholesome-tasting. My grandma always used to make them for me, and still occasionally makes them when I see her. She lives far away, otherwise I'm sure she would bake me cookies whenever I asked. (And since I moved away, sometimes I've been pleasantly surprised by a box of cookies in the mail). I love my grandma! I finally got the recipe from her again this summer, to include in our family cookbook.

So when butterscotch chips were on sale last week, I immediately thought of Grandma, and these cookies. Even though the only oats I have today are old-fashioned, not quick-cooking, I am making the cookies. They are delicious, just like Grandma makes.

Oatmeal Scotchies
Makes about 48 3-inch cookies or 30 4 1/2-inch cookies.

2 cups unsifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 ½ cups quick oats, uncooked
One 12-ounce package (2 cups) butterscotch chips
½ teaspoon orange extract or vanilla

Preheat oven to 375°. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, eggs and water; beat until creamy. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in oats, chips and extract. Drop by slightly rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets.

Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit on pan for a minute or two before removing to racks to cool.

Monday, September 22, 2008

slow-cooked tex-mex chicken and beans

JennyLee is making this chicken today, using the oven method I posted here. But we were talking about it and we both seemed to remember making this delicious dish in our slow cookers last time. So I went back, looked it up, and yes! Indeed, there are two ways to make this tex-mex feast: in the slow cooker, or in your oven. The slow cooker takes 8 1/4 hours with 15 minutes of prep. The oven method takes about 2 hours, with the same amount of prep. So you can just take your pick.

Incidentally, I also wanted to make this chicken today. I am totally not kidding when I tell you, the grocery store did not have boneless skinless chicken thighs. They do not typically stock boneless skinless chicken thighs. I had to Special Order boneless skinless chicken thighs. It is enough to make a person lose their mind. Especially since Miss JennyLee and I were reminiscing about how tasty and fabulous and filling and simple this dish is. And now I can't have any. =(

The recipe is from the November 2007 edition of Everyday Food magazine. (And if you search their website for the recipe, you will notice a huge typo there which calls for 2 quarts of flour. Not so, just follow my lead, I took it straight from the magazine).
****Finally! The boneless skinless thighs arrived! I substituted Green Chile Sauce for the salsa, and was it delicious!! You should try it!

slow-cooked tex-mex chicken and beans
serves 4

For this memorable fix-and-forget chicken stew, use a high-quality salsa to save time without skimping on flavor; choose a jar with a short ingredient list.
  • 1 cup dried pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1 jar (11 ounces) mild or medium salsa (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles, in adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), chopped
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream, for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

  1. In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, stir together beans, salsa, chiles, flour, and 1 cup water. Season chicken with salt and pepper; arrange on top of bean mixture. Scatter onion and bell pepper on top of chicken.
  2. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours. (Do not open lid or stir.)
  3. Remove chicken from stew; shred into large pieces and return to stew. Serve topped with sour cream and cilantro.

And don't forget, if you don't quite have 8 hours ahead, but still want to have this meal, you can get it done in less than 2 1/2 hours using the oven method.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mimmie's No Knead Dinner Rolls

Hope to have picture soon!!!

1 pkg. yeast
1 T sugar
1/4 c. lukewarm water
1 stick butter, melted
1 T salt
1/2 c sugar
3/4 c lukewarm water
3 eggs large
5 c. flour

Combine yeast in 1/4 c. lukewarm water with 1 T. sugar. Let stand about 5 minutes. Combine melted butter, add salt and the 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl, add 3/4 cup lukewarm water, stirring thoroughly with spoon. Add eggs, one at a time and dissolved yeast and mix well. Add flour, one cup at a time and beat after each addition. Dough should be soft. Place in a greased bowl and brush with vegetable oil. Cover and set in refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight. Half dough and roll each piece in about a 12-14 inch circle, 1/3 inch thick. Brush with additional melted butter. Then cut in 12 to 15 pie-shaped pieces. Roll large ends toward end and tuck under. Place rolls on lightly greased baking sheet or baking pan. Cover and let rise in warm place until double in bulk, about 1 hour. Bake in a moderately hot oven 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Makes about 2 or 2 1/2 dozen depending on how large you cut the pieces of dough.

Pear Jam

Pears were falling off our tree in town last week, so the boys and I harvested a big box full. We also had several pears from an old tree in one of the fields at the ranch, so I needed to do something. It probably goes without saying that several Pear Pies are on my list of things to make, but I also decided to make Pear Jam. I haven't made Pear Jam in quite a few years, possibly since just before or after our first son was born, and I've been missing it. It is delicious, and worth every ounce of effort. If you think about it, it isn't much effort at all, given that you'll get over 6 jars of jam (or more!) to enjoy for months to come.

Go ahead and try it. I'll show you how it's done. This is a recipe for Cooked Jam, although they have changed the directions for canning it. I will tell you the way to do it. I just think it is NOT necessary to process the jars in boiling water, I'm not sure why they've changed the directions when the old way works great. I'll tell you the old way. If you're not comfortable with the way I tell you, then feel free to follow the directions on the insert from your very own box of Sure*Jell or other fruit pectin. I'm just here to show you how easy it really is, and to encourage you to try something new!

Also, please don't be tempted to "double" this recipe. My father-in-law tries to double his peach jam almost every year, and every year, despite me telling him that doubling is most likely the issue, he reports it doesn't work, it doesn't set properly. So please just don't do it. Just do it one batch at a time, and it will turn out fine.

Here are Sure*Jell's "Important Tips for Success"
  • Use firm ripe fruit for best flavor and set.
  • Buy new, flat jar lids for a good seal. (I admit, I have re-used lids before)
  • Always use clean jars. Thoroughly wash jars or containers before starting.
  • Use only the Sure*Jell pectin product specified in the recipes to insure a proper set. (In other words, if you're not using Sure*Jell, do NOT use this recipe)
  • Measure ingredients exactly. Spoon sugar into dry (metal or plastic) measuring cups. Scrape excess sugar from top of cup with a straight-edged knife. Use liquid (glass) measuring cups with a pour spout to measure prepared fruit. Use amount of sugar specified in each recipe. ALTERING RECIPES or INGREDIENTS could cause a set failure.

Gather these Tools you will need before you get started:
  • Tongs that can go in hot water
  • Half-pint jars, flat lids and screw tops (You can use a different size if you prefer. Half-pint jars hold approximately 1 cup of jam each)
  • A large pot for jars
  • A saucepan for flat lids
  • A ladle (metal preferred, but plastic works)
  • A funnel (if your jar openings are smaller--I like the wide-mouth jars so I don't need a funnel)
  • A wooden spoon
  • A clean dishcloth, wet with warm water and wrung out well
  • A clean, dry towel, for setting the hot jars on
  • A 6- to 8-quart saucepan for mixin' jam
Pear Jam
makes about 6 cups (I always end up with a bit more)

4 cups finely chopped pears (You'll need about 3 pounds of pears)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I just use ReaLemon)
1 box Sure*Jell
5 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon butter

1. Bring a big pot of water to simmer. You will use this to keep your jars (about 7 small ones) warm, so be sure it's big enough to hold at least 5 or so.

2. Wash jars and screw bands in hot, soapy water; rinse with warm water. Place the jars into the large pot of water (heat and simmer, but don't boil). Put flat lids in a saucepan--if you alternate your lids, top up, bottom up, and stagger their placement around the pan, they will be less likely to stick together. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

3. Peel, pit and finely chop pears. I just keep chopping until I end up with 4 cups of pears. If using a food processor, pulse to chop. Do NOT puree.

4. Measure exact amount of prepared fruit into 6- or 8-quart saucepot. Stir in lemon juice.

5. Measure exact amount of sugar into separate bowl. (REDUCING SUGAR OR USING SUGAR SUBSTITUTES WILL RESULT IN SET FAILURES).

6. Stir 1 box Sure*Jell pectin into fruit in saucepot. Add 1/2 teaspoon butter to reduce foaming, if desired.

7. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.

8. Stir in sugar quickly. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam.

9. Ladle quickly into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. I use tongs to remove a couple jars from the hot water at a time, and place them on the towel to fill. (if all your jars didn't fit in the pot, take a second to place the remaining jars in the pot of hot water as you take some out--they'll get plenty hot by the time you get to them) Wipe jar rims and threads with damp dishcloth. With tongs, remove a flat jar lid and place it on the jar, then top with screw band. Flip each jar upside down after the lids are on.

10. After all jars have been filled and lidded and turned upside down, set a timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minute, turn all jars right-side-up. At this point, some of them will seal and you will hear little "pops" as they do so. Some of the jars may take longer to seal. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.

11. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Label and date your jars. Store unopened jams in cool, dry, dark place up to 1 year. Refrigerate opened jams up to 3 weeks.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Port Wine Vinaigrette

This recipe is from The Culinary Institute's Gourmet Meals in Minutes. This vinaigrette is simple and flavorful, and I used it to top the Mixed Green Salad with Pears, Walnuts and Blue Cheese for lunch today. It would be lovely atop almost any salad.

Port Wine Vinaigrette
Makes 2 cups
Preparation time: 5 minutes

1/2 cup tawny port
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Whisk together the port and the vinegar. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season with the salt and pepper if necessary. Refrigerate until needed. Whisk to recombine before using.

*I just put everything in a jar with a lid, and shook it up. It worked fine.

Mixed Green Salad with Pears, Walnuts and Blue Cheese

This recipe comes from The Culinary Institute's Gourmet Meals in Minutes. I prepared this salad for guests for a fall luncheon today, to accompany my Irish Beef Stew, bread and butter, and Cowboy Cookies. I was sad that one of my friends, originally planning to be here, could not attend. Come down soon, Alice!

I used organic fresh pears from a tree in one of our fields on the ranch, romaine lettuce, and gorgonzola.

Mixed Green Salad with Pears, Walnuts and Blue Cheese

makes 8 servings preparation time: 20 minutes

Though easy to prepare, this is an elegant starter for every day or when entertaining guests. Port Wine Vinaigrette provides the perfect finishing touch for this marriage of sweet and piquant flavors.

1 1/2 pounds red leaf lettuce or baby romaine, washed and dried
1/2 cup Port Wine Vinaigrette
6 ripe Seckel pears, quartered and cored
1 cup walnuts, toasted
1 cup blue cheese, crumbled

Toss the lettuce with the vinaigrette. Divide the lettuce between 8 plates. Top with 3 pears and about 2 tablespoons each of the walnuts and blue cheese.

Note: Other pears may be used, depending upon seasonal availability.

I just put the lettuce in a huge serving bowl, tossed with vinaigrette and topped it with the walnuts, cheese and pears. It looked great in the bowl (forgot to take a picture though).

Cowboy Cookies

I was looking for a good new cookie recipe, when this one appeared in my mailbox in the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. As luck would have it, they have coconut in them, and are appropriately-named for serving on a ranch, or anywhere. Delicious!

Cowboy Cookies
Makes about 5 dozen The origin and original ingredients of this popular cookie may be unclear, but there's no doubt it'll spur a stampede. This version relies on oats, coconut, pecans, and chocolate for just the right chewiness and gooeyness.

Vegetable oil cooking spray
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch chunks (1 cup)~I used 1 heaping cup chocolate chips
3 ounces (3/4 cup) pecan halves
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat baking sheets with cooking spray, line with parchment, and spray parchment. Sift flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder into a medium bowl.

2 Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

3. Reduce speed to low, and slowly add flour mixture, beating until just incorporated. Beat in oats, chocolate, pecans and coconut until combined. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days).

4. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a small spoon, drop dough onto baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart.

5. Bake until edges of cookies begin to brown, 11 to 13 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire rack, and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks. Let cool. (Cookies can be stored up to 3 days)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Moosewood Fudge Brownies

I honestly don't know where these brownies have been all my life. I have been looking for a simple, fudgey brownie recipe, not realizing I have had this recipe for years. Until now. It's another recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook*, and lucky you, I have compiled the recipes from both the original and 15-year revised editions. The basics remained the same, some embellishments were added and some were left out. They are all here for you. Take your pick.

{picture very soon...}
*link above is for the "new" 2000 edition, which I do not have.

Moosewood Fudge Brownies

butter for the pan
5 ounces (5 squares) unsweetened chocolate
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 3/4 cups (packed) light brown sugar
5 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour (use 3/4 cup for even fudgier brownies)

Many optional embellishments:
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 to 4 tablespoons strong black coffee
1 teaspoon grated fresh orange rind
1/2 teaspoon allspice or cinnamon
a small mashed overripe banana
Or anything else you might think of
Or, for purists, none of the above.

Yet another option: instead of uniformly blending in the chocolate, you can marble it. Add chocolate last, after the flour is completely blended in and only partially blend in the chocolate. It looks real nice.

1. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Gently melt the chocolate. Let it cool for about 10 minutes.

3. Cream the butter and sugar in a medium-sized bowl until light and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in the vanilla.

5. Stir constantly as you drizzle in the melted, cooled chocolate. After the chocolate is in beat well for a minute or two.

6. Stir in flour and possible embellishments. Mix just enough to blend thoroughly.

7. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cut into squares while still hot, then allow to cool for at least 10 minutes, if you can wait that long.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bacon, Tomato & Fried Egg Sandwich

This sandwich was inspired by one in my new cookbook, Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2008. I did not have a clue what to make for dinner, and every recipe in that book that sounded good to me took well over an hour to make, not feasible when the clock is ticking past 5:00pm and you'd like to serve dinner by 6:00pm at the latest! Help!

Chef Thomas Keller's recipe calls for lettuce and jack cheese. We didn't have any lettuce, and we like cheddar better in lots of cases. We have lots of fresh tomatoes from our garden right now, and they are excellent.

I honestly don't think it's a very spectacular or original recipe, but it was darn good. I bet my dad would like this sandwich with a bit of mustard too.

Bacon, Tomato & Fried Egg Sandwich

Bread, toasted and hot
thick bacon, fried
cheddar cheese, sliced
fresh tomato slices

Fry enough bacon for however many sandwiches you are making, in our case we fried a pound of bacon for four people. That could be just us. Plan on using at least 3 slices per sandwich.

While the bacon is frying, toast your bread, place cheese slices on one slice of toast and spread mayonnaise generously on the other slice of toast, then top with the bacon and tomato slices. (I like my cheese meltier, so next time I might put the cheese on top of a partially toasted slice of bread and melt it in the toaster oven. Mmmmm.)

Fry your eggs, one per sandwich, in butter (we leave our yolks runny) and place one egg in each sandwich. Carefully close your sandwiches and enjoy.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Black Bottom Cupcakes

I got this recipe from the inside of a store-brand cream cheese box. Of course it called for all the store-brand items, but I'm not naming the brand here. You just feel free to use whichever cream cheese, sugar, chocolate chips and Devil's Food cake you love. That's what I'm going to do...

Stay tuned for picture this weekend!

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

8 ounce package cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 ounces chocolate chips
1 package Devil's Food cake mix

Combine cream cheese, egg, sugar and salt, mix until well blended. Mix in chocolate chips and set aside. Prepare cake mix according to package instructions. Fill paper cupcake liners 1/3 full with cake batter. Top with heaping teaspoon of cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with additional granulated sugar. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Makes 24 cupcakes.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Texas Caviar Dip

Now this is not any sort of real caviar. Rather its more of an upside down salsa, with beans being the larger ingredients, rather than tomatoes. It’s quite tasty, and addictive with chips.

1 small onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (green preferable)
1 bunch of chopped chives
1 tablespoon garlic salt
2 cans of diced tomatoes, jalapeƱo flavored
1 (8 ounce) bottle of Italian Dressing (I find store brands work best for this)
2 (15 ounce) cans of hominy (garbanzo beans are a good substitute if you can’t find hominy)
2 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained
1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro
Shredded parsley if desired.

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl, than serve as a dip. It goes best with corn chips or some sort of salty cracker. It also tastes better after 24 hours, after it has time to marinade itself.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bittersweet Chocolate Drops

This is another recipe from my Short and Sweet cookbook. If you only buy one cookbook I recommend, and you love quick and easy desserts, this should be the one you purchase. I threw a batch of these delicious little nuggets together in about 20 minutes total, including baking time, right after we were invited at the last minute to a dinner party. They were well-received, tasty, and so easy to make. You probably have most (if not all) of the ingredients in your kitchen right now!

I am going to make another batch of these very soon!
Stay tuned for pictures!

Here's what the cookbook says: "These easy cookies combine the pure chocolate of brownies with the crispness of drop cookies. If you like nuts in your cookies, stir in about 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts."

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a large baking sheet with nonstick oil spray. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stir the chocolate and butter until both are nearly melted. Blend in the sugar. Working quickly to prevent curdling, whisk in the egg. Then stir in the flour and baking powder to make a stiff dough.

Drop round tablespoonfuls of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the cookies are set and the tops are crackly, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 2 minutes, then transfer to a rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. (The cookies can be stored, tightly covered, for up to 5 days or frozen for 1 month.)

We didn't have any cookies left to worry about storing them...

Blue Cheese Meatloaf (for the Blue Cheese lovers!)

Makes 2 loaves


Equal amounts of 3 ground meats, I like to use beef, pork & veal, 1lb. each
Or 3lbs of one ground meat.
½ cup of chopped onions.
1/2 to 1/4 cup of dry sherry
1/2 to 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
Fresh bread crumbs if desired.
1 lb. crumbled blue cheese or less to desired taste.


Mix together all ingredients but blue cheese in very large bowl. Or can split all ingredients and make each roll separate. Then divide mixture evenly into two.

Lay out mixture on wax paper in rectangular shape as if making a pumpkin roll.

Spread half of your blue cheese on each rectangle. Roll then place in baking pan lined with tin foil. Or you may place in plastic wrap to freeze for later use.

Bake thawed or fresh at 350 degrees until brown and bubble. Time depends on width and length of roll. Most times from 30-45 mins.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Creamy Strawberry Banana Jell-O Shots

Ok who doesn’t love a GOOD tasting Jell-O Shot? I have the perfect recipe for one that everyone will love. Even those who say they hate Jell-O.

Take a regular 3oz package of either Strawberry, or Strawberry-Daiquiri Jell-O. Boil half the required amount of water in a medium size pot. Once boiling, take the pot off the burner, and add the gelatin, stir until dissolved.

Now add a regular sized tub of cool-whip. Stir that together until there are no more lumps.

Then instead of using the other half amount of water, you substitute Malibu Strawberry Banana Rum. Pour that in and stir. NOTE- Please make sure the Jell-O mixture is cool, and still not hot. If it’s too hot, it removes the alcohol content, and you have a virgin shot.

Then you can pour the mixture (that should look pinkish and creamy), in Dixie cups, Martini Glasses, or what have you. Then place in the fridge to cool. Once the Mixture cools the cool whip part rises to the top, and the Jell-O part is at the bottom.

This one has been the most popular one I have ever made, and every time there is a party, I have been asked to make them. It only takes me about 15 minutes to make them, and it takes about 3 hours for them to chill in Dixie cups.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Min's Fresh Tomato Basil Cream Sauce (for Pasta)

I often cook based on what we have in the garden, fridge and/or pantry. The recipe below has become a family favorite, and is best served hot with some crusty bread and a nice red wine.

This beautiful sauce can easily be made while your pasta is boiling, so it really doesn't take that long. It is best made with fresh ingredients (we pick the tomatoes and basil out of the garden right before cooking) The ingredient amounts are flexible, this is not an exact science. The amounts listed will make roughly four servings.

Tonight, I didn't have an onion, so I used a large shallot instead. I didn't use garlic either. This sauce is fabulous and very forgiving...feel free to experiment! In the past I have also added zucchini, mushrooms, whatever we have on hand.

Fresh Tomato Basil Cream Sauce

Diced onion (about one) or 1 shallot, minced
Minced or chopped garlic (2 to 4 cloves)
coarse salt
Several fresh tomatoes (about 4, depending on size)
Heavy cream (1/2 cup or so)
Butter (up to 1 stick)
Fresh basil, roughly chopped, about 1/4 cup

Dice a small onion, saute' in a couple tablespoons butter over medium heat until soft and translucent. Stir in a couple minced or chopped cloves of garlic. Sprinkle with a teaspoon or more coarse salt. (I use kosher)

Roughly chop several fresh tomatoes and add them to the onions and garlic. Also add heavy cream, about 1/4 cup or more to lighten the color of your sauce. You can also add more butter at this time, and turn up the heat to reduce and thicken the sauce. When the sauce is nearly at your desired consistency, add the fresh basil and cook for a couple minutes longer. Spoon over spaghetti or pasta of your choice.

Creamy Seafood Crepes

These are subtly flavored, delicious bundles of goodness from a cookbook called Classic Home Cooking. A friend and I prepared these years ago for a small dinner party, and I'm not sure what brought them to mind this afternoon, but now I WANT SOME. They were a huge hit at the dinner party.

I remember this being fairly labor-intensive, but I'm sure it had a bit to do with my skill level at the time (about 15 years ago? ahem). I will make these again, and report back.

{picture soon! I can't wait!}

Creamy Seafood Crepes
A succulent filling of shrimp and whitefish in an herbed cream sauce makes these crepes an excellent light lunch dish or dinner party first course. The unfilled crepes can be made in advance and stored in the freezer for up to 1 month: leave them to cool after frying, layer them with waxed paper, and wrap in foil.

Serves 6


1/2 pound cod fillet, skinned
3/4 pound shrimp, cooked
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon dill seeds, crushed
salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons light cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
basil sprigs and lemon coronets to garnish

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups milk
sunflower or corn oil for frying

1. Make the crepe batter: sift the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the egg, extra egg yolk, and a little of the milk.

2. Gradually blend in the flour, beating until smooth. Add the remaining milk to give the batter the consistency of thin cream. Leave to stand for about 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, make the filling: cut the cod into 1/2-inch pieces.. Reserve 12 of the shrimp for garnish and peel the remainder.

4. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, add the onion and garlic, and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes, until soft but not browned.

5. Add the cod, tomatoes, dill seeds, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for 10 minutes or until the mixture is thick and rich.

6. Stir in the cream and shrimp and heat gently. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Keep warm.

7. Heat a small skillet, and brush with a little oil. Ladle about 3 tablespoons batter into the pan and cook for 1 minute, until the underside is golden. Turn and cook the second side. Keep warm. Repeat to make 12 crepes.

8. Fill the crepes with the seafood mixture and fold *(see below). Garnish with the reserved shrimp, basil sprigs and lemon coronets.

*Filling and folding the crepes:
  • Put a crepe on a board or clean serving plate. Put 2-3 spoonfuls of the seafood filling on one half of the crepe and spread it to within 1/4 inch of the edge.
  • Fold the unfilled half of the crepe over the seafood filling to enclose it.
  • Fold the crepe in half again to form a triangle. Transfer to a serving plate and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining crepes and filling.

Min's Huevos Rancheros

So. I had my huevos rancheros plated up, looking good, ready for their photo shoot. My digital camera battery was dead. I took a picture with my 35mm, but I'm not getting film developed until late next week. Until then, you'll just have to imagine what they look like...sorry.

Huevos Rancheros is a family favorite around here. We love beans, and fried potatoes, and we especially love this:

Hatch Huevos Rancheros sauce is perfection in a can. Find it, and buy some today. You want some now? Can't find it at your grocery store? You can order it here.

This dish has several components, and all together it is delicious! Prepare each component separately, and then pile them all together. It's easy, once you've had some coffee and get moving. This makes a very filling breakfast, a great brunch, lunch, dinner...you can eat these whenever you want. And trust me, you'll want.

The only thing about this dish I don't love? The sheer amount of pans you need to use. It really can't be avoided though. Darn it all.

Here is what you'll need:

warmed tortillas
refried beans (today we're using Prairie Fire beans)
fried potatoes
2 fried eggs per serving
Hatch Huevos Rancheros sauce, warmed

You'll need to fry your potatoes first. We fry ours in a healthy amount of lard, which gives them awesome flavor and golden-brown crispiness. You could use olive oil or butter if you're a lard-o-phobe.

While your potatoes are cooking, gently warm your beans in a separate pan. Our Prairie Fire came out of the freezer this morning, and our microwave (for defrosting) is broken, so they have been gently thawing in a saucepan.

Warm the huevos rancheros sauce in a separate pan too.

When everything is warmed, fry your eggs however you like them, (today I put the potatoes in a bowl and used the potato pan for eggs!) and warm some tortillas.

To serve, pile the following on each plate, in order:

1. tortilla
2. beans
3. potatoes
4. eggs
5. sauce

Give each person a fork and knife, and eat up while they're hot. You will be in love, as well as being the star of the breakfast/brunch/lunch/dinner table.
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