Dec 27, 2009

Green Beans with Water Chestnuts

This recipe comes from the New York Times Cookbook.

1 cup water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups green beans, cooked and drained
Salt to taste
A pinch of oregano

Sauté water chestnuts in the butter, about three minutes. Pour this mixture over the hot beans. Season with salt and a pinch of oregano.

Dec 25, 2009

Egg & Cheese Casserole

This dish is also a regular part of our family's Christmas Day brunch, though it would be great any time of the year. It's easy to put together and can be served with lots of different accompaniments.

6-8 slices white bread, crust removed and cubed
½ pound grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon dry mustard
½ can (7-oz.) green chilies

Variations: add ingredients such as spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, basil, onion, green peppers, feta, smoked turkey, mozzarella, pecans etc. before baking

Arrange bread in buttered 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top. In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, salt, mustard, and green chilies. Pour the mixture over the bread and cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Serve with chili sauce, fresh tomatoes, and sour cream.

Dec 23, 2009

Hash Brown Casserole

This dish is also known as "funeral potatoes" around here because it is frequently served along with ham, jello salad, and rolls at the conclusion of Mormon funerals. It's not healthy, probably hastening the onset of additional funerals, but it is genuine comfort food for many.

1 2-pound package frozen hash brown potatoes, unthawed
1 10 3/4-ounce can cream of celery soup, undiluted
3 cups (packed) grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 12 ounces)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 6-ounce can French Fried Onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Transfer to 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Bake until top is slightly golden, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Sprinkle with fried onions. Bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Serves 12.

Dec 20, 2009

Creme Brulee

I can't believe that I've been posting recipes for about six months now, and I haven't included one of my all-time favorite desserts--creme brulee. Creme brulee intimidates people, I suppose, because it's generally found only in nicer restaurants, but it really isn't difficult to make.

1 quart heavy cream
1 vanilla bean (or 3 teaspoons vanilla extract)
4 tablespoons sugar
8 egg yolks
3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large saucepan scald cream with vanilla bean. Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved. In a large bowl beat egg yolks until light lemon color, then stir hot cream mixture carefully into yolks with a pinch of salt. Strain mixture into a 10-inch shallow baking dish. Place dish in a pan of hot water (make sure no water gets in the custard mixture) and bake in a 350 degrees oven for 50-60 minutes. Custard is cooked when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean or almost completely clean. Cool, then refrigerate until chilled.

Push brown sugar through a sieve and spread on top of custard, making a layer about 1/4-inch thick. It must be as smooth as possible. Broil about 4-6 inches from broiler until sugar has caramelized; turn dish as necessary so sugar caramelizes evenly. This process takes about 2 to 4 minutes. Cool before serving. Serves 8 to 12.

Dec 17, 2009

Chicken Artichoke Soup

This soup is clearly not highbrow, what with Velveta cheese as an ingredient, but I love the combination of its cheesy flavor with chicken and artichoke hearts. This is a delicious savory treat!

2 large chicken breasts
1 small onion, chopped
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 package (16 oz) regular Velveta cheese
1/2 package (16 oz) Mild Mexican Velveta cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 cup half and half
1 can artichoke hearts (not marinated), cut in quarters

Cook chicken and onion over low heat in about 2 1/2 cups water until chicken is done. Then separate chicken from broth and onions; cut the chicken into small pieces and set aside. Combine broth and onions, garlic salt, and canned soups in large pan and cook over medium heat. Add chunks of cheese slowly and stir until melted. Then add half and half, chicken, and artichoke hearts. Heat and serve.

Dec 12, 2009

Vanilla Custard with Fruit

This is undoubtedly my favorite item on the menu for our traditional Christmas brunch each year. I LOVE this dish! And I should point out that this isn't only a Christmas food. You could do this anytime, either as part of a breakfast, a brunch, or a dessert. It's a vanilla custard that you serve with fresh fruit.

In our family, we make the custard a day or two before our brunch. Then on the day we are going to serve it, we cut up fresh fruit into bite-sized chunks, which we arrange on a large plate or tray. Each person fills their dish with fruit and then pours the custard over the top. Or you could do more of a fondue approach, and let people skewer the chunks of fruit with toothpicks and dip it in the custard. But whatever you do, give this a try!

3 egg yolks.
1 1/4 cups light cream
3 tablespoons sugar
a few grains of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Fruit: bananas, oranges, apples, pineapple, grapes, pears, peaches, blueberries, etc.

Combine egg yolks, light cream, sugar, and salt in blender and blend thoroughly. Pour into top of double boiler and cook over boiling water, stirring constantly, until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon (about six minutes). Remove from heat and add vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Keep in mind that this is a thinnish custard, not a pudding. It should be a liquid, not a solid. Serve chilled custard with chunks of fresh fruit.

Note: This recipe makes a small batch of custard. I usually double or triple this recipe so that we can serve more people, or so that I have leftovers for myself. But when you make a larger batch of custard, you need to increase the cooking time. As it says above, the cooked custard should coat the back of a metal spoon.

Dec 9, 2009

Sausage Balls in Applesauce

This dish is so easy that it barely qualifies as a recipe, but it's something my family enjoys nearly every year as part of our Christmas Day brunch. After the presents have been opened, we--the children, grandchildren, and sometimes a few neighbors--usually gather together at my parents' house for a wonderful meal. The menu may vary slightly, but it usually includes an egg casserole of some sort, vanilla custard and fruit, sausage balls in applesauce, homemade rolls and/or sweet breads, orange juice, and French chocolate (we usually have some leftover frosted cut-out cookies and homemade candy as well). This Christmas brunch is one of my favorite holiday traditions. I love the coziness, and I love being with family.

I've already included a few of these recipes on this blog, but I'll share some of the remaining ones in the coming days.

2 packages Jimmy Dean sausage
1 jar of your favorite applesauce (chunky applesauce doesn't work as well because it doesn't adhere to the sausage balls)

Form one-inch balls the uncooked sausage and fry until they are browned and fully cooked. Then pour a layer of applesauce in the bottom of a baking dish and arrange the cooked sausage balls so that they are partially covered in the applesauce. Put the baking dish in a 300 degree oven and heat until warm. Serve with toothpicks.

Dec 7, 2009

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

I made this cake for my dinner group the other night. It's a recipe I've always liked, but instead of doing a traditional chocolate frosting, I tried the chocolate whipping cream (see recipe below) that I use when I make chocolate angel food cake. The combination was perfect and also made for a wonderful presentation. I grated semisweet chocolate on the swirls of chocolate whipped cream and arranged fresh raspberries along the top so that each piece was topped with a raspberry.

1 box yellow cake mix
1 small instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water
4 eggs
1 small package chocolate chips
8 ounces sour cream

Combine cake mix, pudding, and sugar. Then add oil and water. Beat with a wooden spoon. Add eggs one at a time and beat in thoroughly. Add sour cream and chocolate chips. Bake in greased and floured tube pan at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. Cool one hour before removing from pan. Then let cake cool fully before frosting.

Chocolate Whipped Cream
2 cups powdered sugar (Note: next time I make this cake, I may try cutting the sugar back a bit. It's delicious as is but may taste just as good with less sugar.)
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups chilled whipping cream

Beat all ingredients in a chilled 2 1/2-quart bowl until stiff. After frosting, arrange fresh raspberries on top of the cake and/or sprinkle with grated semisweet chocolate. Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour before serving.

Dec 5, 2009

Homespun Tomato Soup

And another recipe from The Homespun restaurant (near St. George, Utah), which sadly is no longer in business and hasn't been for years. Such a great loss. But this soup is one of a number of recipes that I still love from that establishment. It has that delicious combination of sweet with the sugar and salty with the bacon!

2 cups water
5 pounds fresh tomatoes
1 cup sugar (I think it helps to reduce the sugar a bit, perhaps to 3/4 cup, but it depends on personal preference)
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon mixed spices (the original recipe doesn't specify, but we think it's 1/2 tablespoon ground cloves and 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon)
3 large onions
Bunch of parsley
1 stalk of celery
7 strips of bacon
2 tablespoons flour

Cut tomatoes in quarters and combine in a pan with the sugar, water, salt, spices, onion, celery, and parsley. Bring to a boil. Simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Cut bacon finely and brown, then add flour and brown lightly. Put the tomato and vegetable mixture through a food mill. Then combine with the bacon mixture and bring to a boil. When serving, add one teaspoon cream to each serving. Make only from fresh tomatoes in season. We usually make a triple batch and freeze portions for use throughout the year. Will keep well frozen. Makes 10–12 servings.

Note: This year, instead of running the tomato and vegetable mixture through a food mill, we just used our blender, a batch at a time. That seemed to give the soup a little more body. We prefer it that way.

Dec 3, 2009

Tomato Drink

This is a comforting drink on a cold winter evening. It's also easy to put together and serve with appetizers when entertaining guests.

1 large can tomato juice
1 teaspoon salt
4 bay leaves
1/2 cup sugar

Simmer together and let sit. Serve warm with dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.

Nov 25, 2009

Cut-Out Cookies

(Decorated cookies and photo courtesy of my sister Emily)

I'm guessing that it's probably difficult to persuade people to try a new cut-out cookie recipe. Everyone has their own recipe or their own preferences about what makes a good cut-out cookie. And I think that these preferences run deep, even if people aren't fully conscious of them. But I'll throw caution to the wind and share my family's traditional cut-out cookie recipe. I LOVE these! They are thin and crisp and delicious!

I have a lot of wonderful emotional associations with these cookies. This is one of my mother's specialties. Mom makes these every Christmas and decorates them beautifully. Seeing them makes me think of Christmases past--family (immediate and extended) parties, neighborhood gatherings, caroling, sledding, tubing, and cozy winter evenings.

To be honest, I haven't made these cookies very often. The main reason is that I'm generally too lazy to bake and frost cut-out cookies of any kind. And I'm too daunted by the thought of having to live up to my mom's aesthetic standard when it comes to frosting them. But maybe I'll give this recipe a try again sometime.

1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2-3 tablespoons milk

Thoroughly cream shortening and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk and mix thoroughly. Roll out dough 1/8" thick on lightly floured surface. Cut with floured cookie cutter. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes. Makes 1 1/2 dozen large cookies.

Orange Oatmeal Cookies

1 3/4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cups butter or margarine
1/4 cup grated orange peel
2 cups sugar
1 egg
2 cups uncooked rolled oats

Blend the first four ingredients and set aside. Cream butter and orange peel together. Blend in sugar gradually, creaming until fluffy. Add the egg and beat thoroughly. Add dry ingredients in thirds, mixing until blended after each addition. Stir in the oats. Drop by teaspoonfuls about 3 inches apart on lightly grease cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Peanut Butter Cookies

This is a family recipe, one I've enjoyed my whole life. I'm not sure how to describe the end result. These peanut butter cookies seem less dense than most others I've tried. And perhaps slightly sweeter. They can be soft or crisp, depending on the baking time.

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter (I like to use chunky peanut butter, but that's just a personal preference)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in scant 1/3 cup hot water
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour

Cream shortening, peanut butter, and sugars. Beat in egg. Then add water and baking soda with the dry ingredients. Roll the dough into balls, flatten with a fork, and bake at 350-375 degrees until done, about 12 to 13 minutes.

Nov 21, 2009

Christmas Gift Ideas

Christmas is around the corner, and finding just the right gift for a friend, neighbor, or coworker isn’t always an easy task. So I thought I’d share a few Christmas gift ideas in the event that you’d like to give a gift of homemade food this year, which I think many people appreciate. And given the state of our economy right now, if you’re like me, you may be looking for ways to show that you care without spending a lot of money.

The items below can all be made from recipes on my blog. I’ve chosen these because they are all delicious and can be made with relative ease. Also, once you’ve made one of these items, all you need to do to make it festive is to wrap it in a cellophane bag and tie it with a beautiful holiday ribbon. You can also include a copy of the recipes along with a personal card.

Cinnamon-Roasted Almonds
Caramel Popcorn
Uncle Antone and Aunt Gretta’s Easy Candy Popcorn

Cookies/Cookie Dough
French Swiss Cookies
Aunt Joan’s Toffee Squares
Orange Oatmeal Cookies
Cut-Out Cookies
Frosted Lemon Butter Cookies

(I’ve got a lot more cookie recipes to add to my blog. I’ll try and get around to that task soon.)

With either of the recipes below, you could give a roll of cookie dough, along with the baking directions, so that the recipient could make these cookies at their leisure, perhaps after the flurry of holiday treats has passed.
Oatmeal Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Banana Bread
Applesauce Nut Bread
Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Bread

Dill Bread
No-Knead Bread
(you could include a small jar of honey or jam with a loaf of this bread)

Salad Dressing
I think many people would love a jar of homemade salad dressing for the holidays. It would certainly be a more unusual gift. Also, you could turn these into a larger gift by combining them with other items. For example, you could give the bleu cheese dressing with some beautiful pears. Or you could give a “salad basket” to a friend, including salad dressing, greens, fruit, pine nuts, etc)
Bleu Cheese Salad Dressing
Homespun German Salad Dressing

Granted, you can’t put soup in a cellophane bag very well, but a jar or other decorative container might work. It doesn’t have to be an entire pot of soup. Just enough for a serving or two. The idea is simply to show someone that you are thinking of them. And why not give something that isn’t sweet during the holidays, something that could help make a meal during the sometimes hectic Christmas season?
Butternut Squash Soup
Taco Soup
Carrot Chowder
Easy White Bean Soup
Chicken Chili

Happy Holiday Giving!

Nov 15, 2009

No-Knead Artisan Bread

(photos courtesy of Aaron Thompson)

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes! Delicious, crusty European-style bread that you can make at home! New York Times food editor Amanda Hesser calls it "easily the most famous recipe ever to run in the Times." It comes from Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City and baker Jim Lahey. What I love about this recipe, besides the end result, is that it is simple to make. The dough takes quite a bit of time to rise, so it's not something you can do at the last minute. Better to start the day before. However, very little active time is required on your part. Besides having enough time, the only other thing you need is the right type of pan to bake the bread in. The pan needs to be the appropriate size (a 5- to 7-quart pot), be able to withstand high temperatures, and have a lid. I have successfully used enamel-coated cast iron, a Dutch oven, and Pyrex pans. Ceramic can also work, provided it meets the above requirements.

For more info, read this article or watch this video that depicts the process. There are a few slight variations between what you see in the video and what is described in this recipe, but I've adapted the recipe to what works best for me.

4 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid rising yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water at about 70 degrees

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, and salt. Add 2 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 14 hours, and preferably about 18 or more, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, fold it over on itself once or twice, then gently and quickly shape dough into a ball, seam-side down. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes. Cover the dough with the plastic wrap and let it rise for 2 additional hours.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 5- to 7-quart heavy covered pot in the oven while it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven and take off the lid. Then gently lift the dough and set it in pot, seam side up. It may not look neat, but that is okay. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One loaf.

Nov 14, 2009

Lemon Bundt Cake

This recipe comes from my friend Kathy, who also has a recipe blog. I made this cake for another friend's birthday last week, and it was a hit. This cake is moist and lemony, and it looks quite attractive.

1 box Betty Crocker or Pillsbury lemon cake mix
1 3-ounce box instant lemon pudding
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
Juice of one lemon
Zest of one lemon
1/2 cup oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly grease and flour a bundt pan. Mix all ingredients and pour into the pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool ten minutes, then invert the pan to release the cake.

Lemon Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
Mix sugar and lemon juice with electric mixer. Pour over cake while it is still hot so that a lovely lemon crust will form. Hint: It is much easier to do this if the cake is on a wire rack with foil or wax paper underneath to catch the drippings.

Note: This cake can be frozen for up to a month.

Nov 9, 2009

Mushroom Chicken

I don't usually like to include recipes without measurements, but that's how this recipe came to me, and I haven't taken the time yet to get the proportions just right. Instead, I simply estimate the amount of each ingredient and go from there. But this is a dish I make quite frequently.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs)
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper
Lemon juice
Mushrooms, sliced
Heavy cream
Parmesan cheese, shredded
Parsley, chopped finely

Pound out chicken breasts with a meat mallet until thin. Combine flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and coat chicken breasts in this mixture. Fry coated breasts in butter and sprinkle both sides very lightly with lemon juice. Then put chicken breasts in a casserole dish (chicken should be in a single layer, not stacked up).

Saute sliced mushrooms in the meat drippings, or use butter if necessary. Cook until soft. Put sauteed mushrooms on top of cooked chicken breasts and pour cream over the top. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes. About five minutes before chicken is fully heated, sprinkle shredded Parmesan cheese over the top and finish cooking. Once the casserole dish is removed from the oven, garnish the top with chopped parsley.

Nov 7, 2009

Beef Stroganoff

I'm not positive, but I believe that this recipe comes from my late Aunt Donna Fae Wheeler (my dad's sister). Stroganoff is definitely comfort food to me.

1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix and form into little balls. Brown in a little shortening. Remove from pan.

To brown bits in pan add:
4 tablespoons minced onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 can mushroom soup
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons ketchup

Add meatballs and simmer 5 minutes. Blend in 1/2 cup sour cream. Serve over noodles or rice.

*Note: I often prefer to use strips of cooked steak in this recipe rather than meatballs. The steak is easier and quicker to prepare, and I like the texture of steak more than ground beef, but both will work.

Nov 4, 2009

Dueling Pecan Pies

Well, this is my 100th blog post (Yahoo!). So in honor of this landmark event, I'm offering two recipes for the price of one. And today's subject is pecan pie. I didn't grow up eating pecan pie because it wasn't something my family ate. Even now, it would be futile to try getting members of my family to include pecan pie in the Clark family's pantheon of favorite pies. But pecan pie is one of my favorites. And here are two recipes to try.

Dear Abby's Famous Pecan Pie

I clipped this recipe out of the newspaper years ago from a Dear Abby column. This is the recipe I've always used in the past and liked.

1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
9-inch unbaked pie crust
1 heaping cup pecan halves

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine corn syrup, sugar, eggs, butter, salt, and vanilla; mix well. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust; sprinkle with pecan halves. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until center is set. If crust or pie gets too brown, cover with foil for remaining baking time.

Pecan Pie #2 (adapted from the New Doubleday Cookbook)
I confess that I've never made this pie myself, but my friend Whitney has, and she let me try a piece or two recently. It is terrific! This pie is less gooey, and it holds its shape well. I think that this pecan pie may become my new favorite. Thanks to Whitney for sharing this recipe.

1 unbaked pie crust (in a 9-inch pan)
1 cup pecans
1 pound light brown sugar
1/4 cup unsifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Arrange pecans in concentric circles. In a mixing bowl, blend sugar, flour, and salt. Then mix in milk and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time, using a whisk. Mix in butter a little at a time. Gently pour over the pecans. Bake pie 75 minutes, or until filling is puffy and crust is golden.

Nov 3, 2009

Hershey Almond Pie

This pie is always a part of our family Thanksgiving menu. It's as simple as can be to whip up, and everyone likes it. You can use a traditional pie crust for this pie, or a graham cracker or chocolate cookie crust work well, too.

15 large marshmallows
1/2 cup milk
1 8-oz Hershey Almond Chocolate Bar
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
1 pie shell

Heat the marshmallows, milk, and chocolate bar over a low heat until the marshmallows and chocolate have melted and blended with the milk. After this mixture has cooled, fold in the whipped cream and pour the combined mixture into a pie shell. Chill until set. Garnish with chocolate shavings, sliced almonds, and/or a dollop of sweetened whipped cream. Note: This past Thanksgiving, I lost track of what I was doing and accidentally added 2 cups of whipped cream instead of 1. The end result was that there was too much filling for my pie crust. However, I liked end result better (it tasted more like a chocolate silk or chocolate chiffon pie) and the filling still set up. A fortunate mistake! Anyway, going forward, I think I'll add at least an extra half cup of whipped cream to the recipe above.

Nov 2, 2009

Pumpkin Praline Pie

This is a nice variation on traditional pumpkin pie. There's a praline layer on the bottom and a pumpkin layer on top. I like the combination of flavors and textures, though I haven't been entirely successful in keeping some of the praline layer from floating to the top.

1 unbaked pie shell

Praline layer:
1/3 cup finely ground pecans, firmly packed
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons soft butter or margarine

Pumpkin layer:
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup half and half

Prepare pie shell. Refrigerate until ready for use. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

To make praline layer, blend all ingredients in a small bowl. Press gently onto bottom of pie shell with back of spoon. To make filling, beat eggs until frothy in a medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients in order. Then beat only until well mixed. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake 55 to 60 minutes or until tip of knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool thoroughly on wire rack. Serve with whipping cream.

Nov 1, 2009

Lemon Chiffon Pie

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, it's time to be thinking about pie. So the next several posts will be dedicated to that subject. I've always been a fan of pumpkin pie, and the basic recipe that you find on the side of a can of pumpkin usually suits me just fine. Warm pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream is heavenly. But if you'd like to try something new or something in addition to traditional pumpkin pie, stay tuned. Also, anyone who'd like to post their own favorite pie recipe on this blog can just let me know.

This first pie recipe is one I haven't made for a number of years, but it is so good that I can recreate the taste in my mind with little conscious effort on my part. Lemon Chiffon Pie--sweet, tart, light, and fluffy.

1 envelope unflavored gelatin (1 tablespoon)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, with whites and yolks separated
1/3 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped

In saucepan combine gelatin, sugar, and salt. In a small bowl beat egg yolks, lemon juice, and water; then stir this into the gelatin mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat just until mixture comes to boiling. Remove from heat and stir in lemon peel. Chill, stirring occasionally, until partially set.

Beat egg whites till soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating till stiff peaks form and sugar has dissolved; fold in gelatin mixture. Now fold in whipped cream. Pile filling into baked 9-inch pastry shell; chill until firm. Serve with a dollop of extra whipped cream.

Oct 31, 2009

Family Fondue

I haven't made this for awhile, to be honest, but this is my family's fondue recipe. It's wonderful on a chilly evening, when you want to feel cozy. Melted cheese and good bread. It's hard to beat.

1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cups grated Swiss cheese
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Combine in double broiler 1 3/4 cups chicken broth and garlic. When hot, add cheeses and stir until melted. Mix cornstarch with remaining 1/4 cup broth and stir into cheese mixture. Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Oct 27, 2009

Potato Cheddar Soup with Broccoli and Cauliflower

This soup requires some time to chop the veggies, but it is definitely worth the effort. I love this hearty vegetable soup.

2 onions, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic (six cloves)
2 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
5 cups chicken stock or broth
8 ounces broccoli
8 ounces cauliflower
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cook onions in hot oil and butter until soft and golden brown. Add garlic and continue cooking. Add potatoes, carrots, and chicken stock. Bring to boiling, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for one hour. Meanwhile, separate broccoli into small florets (reserve) and tender stems, discarding tough stems. Coarsely chop tender stems. Core and separate cauliflower into small florets. Add broccoli stems and cauliflower to potato mixture. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add broccoli florets and cook, covered, for 15 minutes more. Add milk, cream, cheese, salt, and pepper to vegetable mixture. Lightly puree with immersion blender or use a potato masher until coarsely blended to desired texture. Add water, if needed, for desired consistency. Makes 8 servings.

Oct 25, 2009

French Chocolate

As temperatures drop and we head into winter, this is a recipe that you'll definitely want to try. It's a variation on hot chocolate, but the reason I like it better is that I don't fully mix the chocolate cream into the milk when I'm making a cup for myself. So when I sip a mug of French Chocolate, I feel the warmth of the milk on my lips and the cool softness of the chocolate cream. Not easy to explain, but I love the simultaneous sensation of hot and cold. Another advantage of this over ordinary hot chocolate is that each person can customize the amount of chocolate flavor they want in their drink. French Chocolate is a Christmas morning/brunch tradition for our family.

2-1/2 quarts milk
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup chocolate syrup (Hershey’s)
1/3 cup sugar

Warm milk over low heat. Meanwhile, whip heavy cream, chocolate syrup, and sugar until stiff (can refrigerate up to 2 hours at this point). To serve, put a heaping tablespoon of the chocolate mixture into each cup and pour hot milk over it. Yield: 16 servings.

Oct 24, 2009

Honey Butter

1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup honey

Whip butter until soft. Add egg yolk and vanilla and blend well. Then add honey gradually and whip until combined.

Whole Wheat Bread

Many thanks to my friend Cheree for this delicious whole wheat bread recipe. I like making bread. I've made sweet breads many times, and I've already posted a fabulous recipe for dill bread on this site that has long been a family favorite. But I've never tried making simple whole wheat bread before. To be honest, I was probably just a little intimidated. I shouldn't have been. This recipe is as easy as can be. It takes a bit of time because you raise the dough three times, but you can go off and do other things while that is happening. In any case, the end result is light and delicious. I'll definitely be making this again.

3 tablespoons yeast
4 cups warm water
4 cups whole wheat flour

Mix these ingredients together and let sit until doubled in size (usually 15-30 minutes). This step is called creating a sponge and is very important to give the yeast a head start.

Then add:
1/2 cup butter or vegetable oil
2/3 cup honey or molasses
3 teaspoons salt
6-8 cups whole wheat flour

Mix this together and knead for 15-20 minutes if kneading by hand (using a Kitchen Aid requires much less time). Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise again until double in size (about 30 minutes). Punch down and then shape into pans. Cover and let rise again until doubled (20-30 minutes). Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Recipe makes four loaves.

*Variation: add one cup cooked cereal to the mixture when adding the butter, honey, and other ingredients.

Chocolate Twinkie Dessert

I'm posting this recipe more for nostalgic reasons than anything else. This was a dessert that I was fond of when I was younger. Okay, to be honest, I still enjoy this dessert, though I rarely make it. I'm not even a big fan of Twinkies, but combine Twinkies with chocolate pudding and whipped cream, and magic happens! ;-)

2 small packages chocolate pudding, cooked according to package directions, then cooled
10 Twinkies, sliced lengthwise
1 pint whipping cream, whipped and sweetened to taste
Toffee bits (optional)

Spread half of the pudding into the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan. Arrange the sliced Twinkies on top of the pudding. Cover with the remaining pudding. Refrigerate 12 hours. Serve with sweetened whipped cream and sprinkle toffee bits on top.

Oct 21, 2009

"Baking by Senses and Memories"

I ran across this lovely essay tonight that captures some of the reasons I like to cook. The essay is part of the "This I Believe" series on NPR (which I heartily recommend, by the way). You can link to the essay here or read the essay below:

"Baking by Senses and Memories" by Emily Smith

I have gone through 10 pounds of flour in three months. I know that’s not normal, but I believe baking is an expression of love — not only for the person being baked for, but also for the person who taught me how to bake, for the person who gave me the recipe, for the past and tradition.

Grandma Dottie lives on in her recipes that I continue to bake. Her molasses cookies are so good they need to be shared with the world. The batter is sticky and has to be refrigerated for four hours. It turns the whole thing into more of a production, but it’s impossible to roll the dough into balls when it’s that sticky. I know; I’ve tried.

So I wait — just like my grandmother waited four hours — while the dough chills. Then I roll the dough into balls, roll the dough balls in sugar and smash them with a fork twice, creating a criss-cross pattern, and put them in the oven. I look at the cookies instead of relying on the timer. I’m beginning to bake with my senses and my memory instead of with the recipe.

My Grandma Dottie abbreviated everything in her recipes so it took me a while to figure it out. Is the batter the right color? The right consistency? Does it smell right? My dad’s job is to compare my reproductions to the originals of his childhood. If they turn out the same, they’re more than cookies — and that’s what I’m trying to do. I like to watch my father’s face when he remembers his mother.

Because we’re Texan, my mother needs a pecan pie for it to really be Thanksgiving. Pecan pie is mostly corn syrup, a few eggs and pecans. It doesn’t look appetizing. But amazing things happen in the oven. The filling caramelizes and turns a dark brown. I baked my mom a pecan pie. I made the crust and everything — and even she doesn’t do that. The recipe I used yields a stiffer filling. It’s not the gooey pecan pie I grew up with. So I was worried at first that I’d done something wrong. But my mother said it was the best pecan pie she’d ever had.

And right then and there my pecan pie recipe, the one that I’d found in the cookbook my grandmother gave me, became the new family recipe. So, this Thanksgiving it’s my job to make the pie. For me, it’s a symbol of becoming an adult, and the pecan pie becomes my contribution to our family tradition.

I believe that as long as I keep baking, my grandmother hasn’t really gone. I believe baking is the best way for me to express love for my people in the present and honor the people of my past, all in one batch.

Dorothy Smith’s Molasses Cookies

Grandma Dottie’s molasses cookies require several hours preparation time, mostly to allow the dough the chill.

3/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 cup sugar (plus extra sugar for dipping the cookies)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine the melted butter, sugar, molasses and egg, and mix thoroughly.

Sift dry ingredients, and then add them to liquid mixture. Beat well. Chill the dough at least 4 hours.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls then dip in sugar. Place on a greased cookie sheet, and flatten with a fork.

Bake at 375 degrees 8-10 minutes until flat and dark brown. The cookies should be slightly crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

Emily Smith majored in English and Spanish literature at the University of Texas in her hometown of Austin. She is now pursing a Master of Divinity degree at Atlanta’s Emory University. Smith plans to become a minister in the United Methodist Church.

Overnight Waffles

A few weeks ago, some generous friends invited me, along with some other friends, to their family's vacation home in the mountains near Kamas, Utah for a weekend retreat. We had a great time! Listening to general conference, talking and hanging out, and playing games. But one of the food highlights of the weekend was Sunday breakfast. My friend Heidi made waffles that were fabulous! We topped them with blueberries, sliced strawberries, sliced bananas, maple syrup, and whipped cream. It was like being in heaven! Here is Heidi's recipe:

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon rapid rise yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups milk
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

Combine the dry ingredients and then whisk in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Cover and set aside overnight on the counter. Do NOT refrigerate.

In the morning, separate the two eggs. Stir the yolks into the batter. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and then fold them into the mixture.

Cook in waffle iron at medium heat. Serve with your favorite waffle toppings--fresh berries, sliced bananas, maple syrup, and some whipped cream. Serves 4 to 5 people

Oct 20, 2009

Taco Soup

1 pound hamburger
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cans cream of potato soup (undiluted)
1 can beef stock (Swanson's)
1/2 package. taco seasoning
1 can kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can chili beans (drained and rinsed)
1 small can tomato sauce
1 quart tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon dried onion

Combine all ingredients and simmer on low for 2 hours. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, grated Monterey Jack or Mozzarella cheese, and a few finely chopped green onions on top. You can also top with Fritos or tortilla chips.

Oct 19, 2009

Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Bread

I just tried this recipe recently and thought it was a big hit. It's a recipe I'll make again. I omitted the pecans because some people I know don't like (or are allergic to) nuts.

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
1 cup fresh mashed cooked fresh pumpkin (I used canned pumpkin and it was fine.)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
6 (1 oz.) squares semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup pecans

Blend all dry ingredients together. Beat eggs, pumpkin, sugars, milk and oil in a large bowl until well blended. Add dry ingredients and stir until moistened. Stir in chopped chocolate and nuts. Place in a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Cool for about 10 minutes and remove from pan.

Seven-Minute Frosting

If I had to pick one recipe that I associate most with my family and growing up, this just might be my choice. This marshmallowy frosting is one that we make over and over again. It's the frosting that is most requested for birthday cakes. Seven-minute frosting (I've never liked the prosaic title) is visually appealing and can be used on all flavors of cake, though we usually put it on chocolate cakes. It's easy to make, but you do have to have a double boiler.

2 egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup or 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in top of double broiler. Place over boiling water and beat with rotary beater until mixture stands in stiff peaks. Take off heat and mix in vanilla. Frost cake immediately.

Oct 17, 2009

Apple Cake with Butter Sauce

The rich butter sauce is what makes this dessert.

Apple Cake:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
3 medium apples, peeled and grated
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup nuts, chopped

Mix sugar, shortening, and egg in mixer. Then add grated apple to this mixture and blend again. Finally, add the dry ingredients and nuts and mix well. Pour the batter into a greased 8 x 8-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. While the apple cake is baking, make the butter sauce to go on top.

Butter Sauce:
2 cubes of butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
1 cup canned evaporated milk or heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cook the butter, sugar, and milk or cream in a saucepan over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, but don't let the mixture boil. Then blend in the vanilla and remove from the stove. Serve the warm apple cake in bowls, topped with the hot butter sauce.

Oct 16, 2009

Corn Chowder

1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup)
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup flour
4 cups milk (or light cream)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
2 tablespoons dried chives (fresh are even better)
2 1/2 cups cream style or whole kernel corn (I usually use a blend of creamed corn and fresh or frozen corn)
1 ½ cups cubed ham
1 or 2 potatoes, peeled, cubed, and cooked

Sauté the onion in the butter until soft but not brown. Blend in the flour and cook until blended and bubbly. Then add the milk and simmer until the soup has thickened slightly. Add the corn, ham, potato, and seasonings and continue to simmer. Makes about seven to eight servings.

Baked Beans

This recipe, with a slight variation or two, comes from my friend Kathy (see Amazing Meals link under "my blog list"). It's a definite keeper. I tried it yesterday in combination with steamed ham and some applesauce. Total comfort food. And I liked the beans so much that I made a second batch.

2 15-ounce cans of pork and beans
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 pound lean bacon, cooked crisp, then drained and crumbled (I actually prefer slicing up about 6 pre-cooked sausage links instead of the bacon)

Combine ingredients thoroughly. Pour into an 8 x 8-inch baking pan. Bake for 2 1/2 hours, covered with foil, at 325 degrees. Uncover and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes.

Oct 15, 2009

Easy Caramel Sauce

1/3 cup butter or margarine
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/3 cup whipping cream

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and cream. Heat to the boiling point and then remove from heat. Serve warm or cold. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

Easy Chocolate Sauce

This chocolate sauce is so easy and so good.

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
3/4 cup evaporated milk
Vanilla to taste

In a saucepan melt butter. Add sugar, cocoa, and milk; boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Serve warm or cool. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Oct 14, 2009

Baked Rigatoni

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 28-oz can whole or diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
16 ounces rigatoni, cooked according to package directions and then drained
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until golden but not brown, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and their juices, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt, and sugar. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer. Crush tomatoes with back of wooden spoon if using whole tomatoes. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 20 minutes. Then stir in 1 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Add the drained rigatoni and toss to coat. Transfer to a 2-quart casserole dish and top with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Bake 20 minutes and then let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Oct 10, 2009

Steamed Ham with Apricot Sauce

Steaming a ham has a number of advantages. It cooks some of the fat out, reduces the saltiness, and results in more tender meat. It also allows you to get good results with a less expensive cut.

Buy an inexpensive ham, such as a butt or shank ham. Put in a large pot and add ½ cup water. Cover and bring to a boil. Then turn heat to low or simmer so that the ham can simmer for about 4 hours. Serve with apricot sauce (see below) or homemade applesauce (or make some caramel sauce to go with the applesauce for extra richness).

Apricot Sauce
½ cup apricot jam
3/4 cup bottled apricots, drained and pureed
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dried minced onion

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and heat for 5-7 minutes.

Oct 9, 2009

Three-Bean Salad

1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 package (10 ounces) frozen lima beans, thawed
1 package (9 ounces) frozen cut green beans, thawed
1 can (15 ounces) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, and oil; season generously with salt and pepper. Add all beans; toss to combine. Let marinate at room temperature or in the refrigerator, tossing occasionally, at least 30 minutes and up to a day. Serves 6.

Oct 7, 2009

Baked Sweet Potatoes

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. With a fork, pierce 4 medium sweet potatoes all over and rub with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, until a paring knife inserted in the center meets no resistance, about 45 minutes. Cut a deep cross into the middle of each sweet potato and push the ends together to open. With a fork, loosen and lightly mash the insides of the sweet potatoes. Top each with a tablespoon butter.

Oct 3, 2009

Big Soft Ginger Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut-sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Yields approximately 24 cookies.

Sep 29, 2009

Connie Spencer's Corn and Black Bean Salsa

1 can corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
½ red or green pepper, chopped
½ can green chilies, diced
Chopped cilantro (to taste)
Italian salad dressing

Mix all ingredients and blend with the Italian salad dressing. Refrigerate. Serve with tortilla chips.

Sep 27, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

I just tried this recipe for the first time recently, and I thought it was definitely worth passing on. I like the flavor of pumpkin and chocolate together, especially in a moist, cake-like bar cookie such as this. Also, though the original recipe didn't include it, I made a simple vanilla frosting for these and I thought it added a nice touch.

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt and set aside. Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium high speed until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and blend well. Then beat in pumpkin puree. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips. Spread batter evenly in 9 x 13-inch pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan and then frost and cut into squares.

Vanilla Frosting
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
About 2 tablespoons milk

Mix powdered sugar and butter. Stir in vanilla and milk. Beat until smooth and of spreading consistency.

Sep 26, 2009


2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup grated carrots
3/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Mix ingredients and bake in loaf pan at 350 degrees for about one and one-half hours.

Sep 25, 2009

Quiche Lorraine

8-inch deep dish pie crust, unbaked
4 strips bacon
1/2 of a small onion, thinly sliced
1 cup Swiss cheese, grated
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (or 1 cup cream and 1/2 cup milk)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake unfilled pie shell for five minutes. Cook the bacon until crisp and remove it from the skillet. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat remaining in the skillet. Cook the onion in the remaining fat until the onion is transparent. Crumble the bacon and sprinkle the bacon, onion, and cheeses inside the partly baked crust. Combine the eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and pour over the onion-cheese mixture. Bake the pie 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until a knife inserted one inch from the pastry edge comes out clean, about twenty minutes longer. Served immediately as an hors d’oeuvre or main course. 6 to 10 servings.

French Toast

Who needs a recipe for French toast? I think French toast is second nature to most people, but I discovered and adapted this recipe a few years ago from a Betty Crocker cookbook. I like the addition of flour, which I think gives the French toast more of a crispy texture on the outside. And then the sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon enhance the flavor.

1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3 eggs
9 slices French bread, each 1 inch thick.

Beat flour, milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, and eggs with a hand beater until smooth. Heat skillet over medium heat or to 375 degrees. Grease skillet with butter. Dip bread in egg mixture. Cook about 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Sep 20, 2009

Honey Baked Chicken

I tried this recipe for Honey Baked Chicken for dinner this evening. It was easy and tasty. I used chicken tenders and reduced the cooking time to a little less than an hour. The chicken and sauce would work well over rice over rice. (This recipe is adapted from

1 (3 pound) whole chicken, cut into pieces
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup prepared mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

Place chicken pieces in a shallow baking pan, skin side up. Combine the melted butter, honey, mustard, salt, curry powder, and garlic, and pour the mixture over the chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/4 hours (75 minutes), basting every 15 minutes with pan drippings, until the chicken is nicely browned and tender and the juices run clear. (I actually covered the chicken with foil for the first half hour and then removed the foil for the last half hour so that the chicken would brown.)

Sep 16, 2009

Fresh Peach Ice Cream

While peaches are still in season, don't miss out on the opportunity to make fresh peach ice cream. This recipe is adapted from Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book.

Fresh Peach Ice Cream
2 cups ripe peaches that have been peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Sweet Cream Base (see below)

Combine the peaches, sugar, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Puree with a hand blender. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours. Prepare the Sweet Cream Base and then combine with the chilled fruit mixture. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according the manufacturer's instructions.

Sweet Cream Base
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk

Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend.

Makes 1 generous quart.

Sep 12, 2009

Chili Sauce

It doesn't seem like many people I know are familiar with, or have even heard of, chili sauce, which is a shame. This recipe comes from my Grandmother Beck and one of her neighbors in St. George, Utah. Antone and Vilate Prince were pioneer descendents in St. George when my grandparents, Elden and Florence Beck, moved there in 1933. Antone (Pa Prince) was the sheriff of that small community. Vilate (Ma Prince) shared this recipe with my grandmother during the time they both lived in St. George.

Chili sauce makes meatloaf worth eating. We also use it on stuffed peppers, omelets, roast beef, and in homemade Thousand Island dressing. And we make a dip for crackers by spreading cream cheese on a plate, then topping it with chili sauce, chopped hard boiled egg, baby shrimp, and then letting it chill. Yum! I'm not sure why this recipe is called chili sauce since there are no chilies in it. But in any case, this is a recipe that my family and extended family love. By the way, store-bought chili sauce does not even come anywhere close to homemade.

1 bucket ripe tomatoes
6 large green peppers
10 medium-size onions, peeled and quartered
4 tablespoons salt
1 quart sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of pepper

Scald tomatoes, peel, and cut into quarters. Let drain in colander or sieve. Set aside. Wash and remove seeds from the peppers; cut into quarters. Coarsely grind peppers and onions in food grinder and then drain some of the liquid off in a colander or sieve. Combine all ingredients in a large pan, and simmer over medium heat, uncovered, until chili sauce is thickened (about 3 hours). Makes 20 to 24 half pints.

Sep 9, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup

This simple soup works well as an appetizer or as a meal.

1 lb squash, peeled and cubed (Costco often sells a 2-lb bag of cubed squash)
4 carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
½ clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 ½ cups chicken broth
Salt to taste
Flavored butters (see below)

Heat oil in a large pan. Add squash, carrots, onion, and garlic. Stir until onion is soft. Add salt and chicken stock. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Let cool and then puree using a blender or an immersion blender. Reheat before serving. Add a teaspoon each of the flavored butters to each bowl. Garnish with almonds or bacon, if desired.

Soup butters:
½ tablespoon cinnamon
1 cube butter

Mix and shape into a log form. Wrap and then freeze. Thaw and slice when ready to use.

½ tablespoon curry
1 cube butter

Mix and shape into a log form. Wrap and then freeze. Thaw and slice when ready to use.

Sep 7, 2009

Frosted Lemon Butter Cookies

These are one of my all-time favorite cookies. The cookies are soft and delicate. The frosting is both sweet and tart. These melt in your mouth!

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup cornstarch
1 cup flour

1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2-1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter and sugar. Stir in cornstarch and flour. Drop by teaspoonfuls on a cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool. Combine frosting ingredients and spread on cooled cookies.

Sep 5, 2009

Tuna Pasta Salad

1 package large shell pasta, cooked according to directions (be sure to use salted water) and then cooled
1 can tuna, drained and then broken up
3 green onions, chopped
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 can black olives, sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup dried parsley flakes
1 cup Miracle Whip
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients and then chill.

Sep 2, 2009

Andy Bay's Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

I didn't grow up eating pecan pie, but it is now one of my personal favorites. And when you combine the flavor of chocolate with pecan pie, it's even better. This recipe comes from my friend Andy.

8 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups light corn syrup
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup butter, melted
About 4 1/2 cups pecans
About 1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 8-inch pie shells

Beat together eggs, sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla. Add butter and mix well. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle pie shells with chips until bottom of the shells is covered. Add half of pecan mixture, more chocolate chips, then rest of pecan mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes. Makes three 8-inch pies.

Aug 29, 2009

Question: How or why did you learn to cook?

For those of you interested in cooking or baking, where did your interest come from? For me, the biggest influence has undoubtedly been my mother. Mom is a terrific cook! Many of my favorite recipes are ones that I got from her—dill bread, floating island, pot roast and vegetables, Parmesan chicken, peach pie, chicken salad with fruit, Parkerhouse rolls, tomato soup, and so on and so on. Mom not only makes food that tastes delicious, she also makes dishes that are beautiful. Growing up, we’d have a green salad with violet petals tossed in, floating island with caramelized sugar strands, chocolate almond pie with delicate chocolate leaves. I don’t have the same flair for aesthetics or even the interest in spending time on such things since I usually just cook for myself, but I do appreciate the efforts of others. Mom’s passion for food has certainly carried over to me.

Also, as mentioned in a previous post, I’ve always been interested in watching the creative process that is involved in cooking. I don’t think that I’m very creative myself as a cook, but I love to watch others cook, whether it is family members, friends, or the professional chefs on television.

Of course, I also love to eat food. One of the reasons I decided to learn to bake was that my mom didn’t bake cookies as often as I wanted to eat them, so I learned to make chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal, gingersnap, and other cookies on my own. And then my interests spread from there.

And finally, there was an element of entrepreneurship that motivated my early attempts at cooking. With one of my friends in our Provo neighborhood, we set up a lemonade stand on the street in front of my house. But it wasn’t just lemonade. At different times, we sold homemade cookies, brownies, and suckers; frozen bananas; imitation pixie sticks (paper straws filled with dry Jello); etc. We certainly didn’t get rich from our efforts, but we did pretty well, and we had a lot of fun making things to sell.

So do any of you have stories to tell about how or why you learned to cook? Or maybe even why you don’t like to cook. Feel free to share your thoughts.

Bacon Wraps

½ pound sliced bacon
2 8-oz cans whole water chestnuts
½ cup brown sugar

Cut bacon pieces into thirds. Wrap each water chestnut with a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Roll in brown sugar to coat. Place on a baking sheet and broil until the bacon is fully cooked.

Aug 25, 2009

Phil White's Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies

This is a recipe I used frequently as a graduate student in English down at Arizona State University. Whenever I was tired of studying, I'd whip up a batch of these large cookies and take them to school in a blue and white Tupperware container (which I still have) to feed my fellow grad students.

2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 pound butter
3 eggs
5 1/2-6 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 package milk chocolate chips
Chopped nuts (optional)

Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs and then dry ingredients. Use an ice cream scoop to measure and mold dough and then place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15-20 minutes. Press M&M's into the partially baked cookies midway through baking.

Aug 23, 2009

Julie & Julia

I went to see the new movie Julie & Julia last night with some friends. The movie weaves together two stories--one about Julia Child learning to master the art of French cooking and the other of a woman who cooks her way through Julia Child's cookbook and writes a blog about it. Though it has some flaws, I thought that it was a delightful film. Meryl Streep's performance as Julia Child is terrific! I also loved the movie's sense of humor, its focus on relationships, and the depiction of lots of wonderful food. Especially the latter. I left the theater craving something really delicious. (By the way, I ended up having a crepe with strawberries, Nutella, and whipped cream. Yum!)

This past week, my mother told me for the first time that I used to watch Julia Child's cooking shows on television fairly regularly when I was about eight years old. She said that it was an early manifestation of my interest in cooking. While I recall watching Julia Child on occasion, I don't recall any particular devotion to her show. But I trust my mom's memory of many things more than I trust my own. Anyway, I do know that I love to watch cooking shows. I don't often make the dishes I see created on television, but I love to watch the creative process unfold before me. I love to see people who are passionate about food. I love the aesthetics of food. And I love how food is often an important element of relationships.

Brown Sugar Whipped Cream

This simple frosting is yummy on spice cake, banana cake, or angel food cake. Combine 1 cup brown sugar with 1 pint whipping cream and let the mixture chill in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Then whip the cream until soft peaks form. You may also want to add a teaspoon of vanilla to the cream mixture as you whip it.

Aug 19, 2009

Chinese Chicken Salad

Nothing fancy here. But I just find that it hits the spot sometimes. And so easy to whip up quickly.

½ head cabbage, shredded
2-4 green onions, sliced
1 package Top Ramen noodles (uncooked and without seasoning), broken up
2 cups diced chicken
1/2 can mandarin oranges, drained

Combine all of the above just before serving. Then garnish with:
2 T. sesame seeds, toasted
4 T. slivered almonds, roasted

2 tablespoons sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup oil
½ teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon accent flavoring
½ package Ramen flavoring

Combine ingredients, shake well, and pour over salad.

Aug 13, 2009

Peanut Blossoms

You can't go wrong with this classic cookie, which combines the tastes of peanut butter and chocolate.

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Blend in:
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Shape into balls and roll in granulated sugar. Then bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and top each cookie with a Hershey's chocolate kiss. Return to oven and bake 2-5 minutes.

Aug 9, 2009

Chicken Marbella

For something a little fancier, though still very easy to prepare, try this classic recipe from The Silver Palette Cookbook.

10 to 12 chicken breasts
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
1/4 cup dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine (white grape juice or apple juice)
1/4 cup Italian parsley or fresh coriander, finely chopped

In large bowl combine chicken, garlic, oregano, pepper, salt, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with pan juices. Chicken is done when pieces pricked with a fork yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice. With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.

Aug 5, 2009

Pear and Chocolate Cake


The key to this cake is the brown butter. It takes a few minutes to brown, but it's well worth the extra effort. The recipe recommends using a springform pan, but I don't see why this couldn't be baked in a normal cake pan and then sliced up, as long as you don't try to take it out of the pan whole. This cake would be great with a scoop of ice cream or some sweetened whipped cream, although it was delicious with just a glass of milk too.

1 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2-3 softish pears, peeled, diced
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks or chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on high speed until pale and very thick.

3. While the eggs are whipping, brown the butter. Melt the butter in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes). It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Remove from the flame but keep in a warm spot.

4. Add the sugar to the eggs and whip a few minutes more. Just as the egg-sugar mixture is starting to lose volume, turn the mixture down to stir, and add the flour mixture and brown butter. Add one third of the flour mixture, then half of the butter, a third of the flour, the remaining butter, and the rest of flour. Whisk until just barely combined—no more than a minute from when the flour is first added—and then use a spatula to gently fold the batter until the ingredients are combined. It is very important not to over-whisk or fold the batter or it will lose volume.

5. Pour into pan. Sprinkle the pear and chocolate chunks over the top (don't worry, they'll sink in as it bakes), and bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch, about 40 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen via Dinner Party.

Aug 4, 2009

Baked Dijon Salmon

1/4 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs (or Ritz cracker crumbs) (optional)
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
4 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley (dried parsley also works fine)
4 (4 ounce) salmon fillets
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together butter, mustard, and honey. Set aside. In another bowl, mix together bread crumbs, pecans, and parsley. Brush each salmon fillet lightly with honey mustard mixture and sprinkle the tops of the fillets with the bread crumb mixture. Bake salmon 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until it flakes easily with a fork. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with a wedge of lemon or sprinkle lightly with lemon juice. Serves 4.

Aug 1, 2009

Caramel Pumpkin Cookies

This recipe comes from my cousin Julie via my sister. Per Julie's recommendation, it works better to use the caramel frosting as more of a "glaze." The glaze adds a delicious caramel accent. This recipe is a winner!

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
15 oz. can pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional: add nuts or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars in large bowl until fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla. Beat well to combine. Stir in dry ingredients. Drop cookie dough by teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 10-14 minutes.

In saucepan, combine 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Bring to boil, then stir 1 minute, until slightly thickened. Remove pan from heat and cool slightly. Add 1/4 cup milk and stir until smooth. Add about 2 cups powdered sugar, a bit at a time until frosting reaches desired consistency.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Jul 29, 2009

Mom's Summer Squash Casserole

2 ½ lbs yellow squash, sliced
½ cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 green onions, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Buttered breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Cook squash in small amount of water until just tender, about 5-10 minutes. Drain. Mash slightly and drain again. Combine with sour cream, melted butter, onions, salt and pepper. Place in buttered 1 quart casserole. Top generously with breadcrumbs and cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serves 6.

Jul 27, 2009

Chicken Crunch Casserole

Fine dining, this definitely is not. Nor is it particularly healthy. But sometimes I'm just in the mood to whip up a chicken casserole dish such as this as easy comfort food.

1 cup rice, cooked
2-3 cups cooked chicken, cut up
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup sliced water chestnuts
3 tablespoons minced onion
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup whipped salad dressing or mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 to 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
Buttered breadcrumbs

Spread cooked rice evenly into a buttered 9" x 13" baking dish. In a separate bowl, combine chicken, celery, water chestnuts, onion, salad dressing lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Then spread this mixture on top of the rice. Top with slivered almonds, cheese, breadcrumbs, and paprika. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Jul 26, 2009

Tunnel of Fudge Cake

This isn't the Tunnel of Fudge Cake recipe that won the Pillsbury Bake-Off, but it's still a big winner. This cake is rich and chocolaty and has a soft center. My family calls this "Chocolate Cake with Custard-Like Filling." Kind of an unwieldy, unnecessarily descriptive name. I call it Tunnel of Fudge Cake because that's what it is. Whatever you call it, it is very good.

1 cup butter
8 oz semisweet chocolate
5 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
Dash of salt

Melt butter and chocolate together. Beat eggs and sugar until light yellow; add chocolate mixture. Mix in flour and salt. Turn into a well-greased, lightly floured 9 1/2 to 10" tube pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Cake will not be firm on the inside. Do not overbake. Cool and unmold. I usually dust the cooled cake with confectioner's sugar and serve it with either ice cream or whipped cream.

Jul 24, 2009

Grape Salad

Hi, I’m Camie, and I’m guest blogging today! My husband heard of this recipe somewhere, although I won't be able to give proper credit because I can't remember where. It is really delicious though. Works great as a side dish or a dessert. It’s been a real hit whenever we take it to parties.

The recipe is simple. Here's what you need:

Red grapes, as many as you want
Some kind of berry yogurt (we like raspberry)
Whipped cream

Mix the yogurt and whipped cream together. I don't really have measurements, but we tend to use less cream and more yogurt. (You know, for "health reasons!" hehe.) Just keep mixing in whipped cream until you like the taste and it looks sort of "fluffy." (I know, I'm being very helpful here, sorry.)

Then, pick the grapes off the stems and wash thoroughly. Then add to the yogurt and cream mixture. Voilà!

Chill until ready to serve.

Jul 18, 2009

Mom's Frozen Peach Pie Fillings

Peaches will be coming on before too long, and that means that it will be time to make peach pie fillings. There are several things I love about this peach pie recipe. Chief among them is that peach pie is my favorite of all fruit pies. But what also stands out about this recipe is that it is easy to make, and you can make pie fillings to last throughout the whole year. Last summer, I made 24 pie fillings and kept them in the freezer. Whenever I'm in mood for peach pie, I can pull a filling out, put it in a crust, and bake a pie. I also find that people love receiving peach pie as a thank you or birthday gift.

3 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons ascorbic acid (or use a commercial product that prevents browning of fruit)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca
1 teaspoon salt
4 quarts peeled and sliced fresh peaches (I use Lemon Elberta peaches; also, I add a few extra peaches beyond the 4 quarts)
1/4 to 1/3 cup lemon juice

To prepare and freeze fillings:
Blend sugar and remaining dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, add the lemon juice to the sliced peaches and then fold in the dry ingredients. Line six 8-inch pie pans with heavy-duty aluminum foil, letting the foil extend 5 inches beyond each side of the pie pans. Pour filling mixture into pans. Fold foil loosely over each filling and put them in the freezer until they are fully frozen. Then remove from the fillings from the pans, seal the foil tightly around them, put in a freezer bag, and return to freezer. Fillings may be stored in freezer for up to a year. Makes enough filling for six 8-inch pies.

To bake pies:
Unwrap filling. DO NOT THAW. Place in pastry-lined 8-inch pie pans. Dot filling with about 1 T. butter. Add top crust; seal and flute edge. Cut slits in top crust. Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 45 to 50 minutes. Cover edge of the pie crust part way through baking to keep it from getting burned.

Jul 11, 2009

Carol’s Baked Apple Pancake

6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 apples, peeled and sliced thinly
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 stick butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In blender or bowl, mix eggs, milk, flour, sugar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon until blended but slightly lumpy. Melt butter in a quiche dish or 13 x 9" baking dish in the oven. Add apple slices to baking dish and return to oven until butter sizzles, but do not let it brown. Remove from oven and immediately pour batter over apples. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake in middle of oven for approximately 20 minutes until puffed and brown.

Jul 7, 2009

Summery Chicken Salad with Fresh Fruit

This cool, summer salad has been a personal favorite for many years. It’s a yummy chicken salad that you serve on top of fresh fruit. I love the blend of textures with the chicken, water chestnuts, almonds, celery, and fresh fruit. It’s great to serve on a hot day. This recipe is one that I always associate with my mom because she'd fix it for us to eat out on the back patio or for family picnics.

3 cups cooked chicken, cut in pieces
1 cup diced celery
2/3 cup sliced almonds
6 stuffed green olives, sliced
3 tablespoons vinegar
3 tablespoons onion, grated
3 tablespoons capers
1 cup water chestnuts, sliced
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the first nine ingredients. Chill for one hour. Add sour cream, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper; then chill for another hour. Sprinkle with paprika. Serve with chunks of cantaloupe, grapes, honeydew, pineapple, watermelon, strawberries, or whatever fresh fruit you prefer.

Jun 30, 2009

French Swiss Cookies

I have no idea why these are called French Swiss Cookies, but this recipe has been one of my favorites since I was a child. French Swiss Cookies taste kind of like a cinnamony shortbread that is topped with chopped walnuts. This recipe is both delicious and easy.

1/2 pound butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk (save egg white)
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
chopped walnuts

Cream butter and sugar (I often find it easier to simply melt the butter) and then add the remaining ingredients. Press approximately half the dough into the bottom of a cookie sheet (about 1/8 of an inch thick). Beat egg white until slightly frothy and then brush lightly on the top of the dough (you don't need to use all of the egg white; just until the dough's surface has a thin coat). Sprinkle with finely chopped walnuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until slightly browned. Cut into individual squares. You can also roll this dough into small balls, flatten the balls with the palm of your hand, brush with egg white and sprinkle with chopped nuts, and then bake.

Jun 29, 2009

Mary Alice’s Lemon Mousse Mold

This recipe comes from my friend and former neighbor, Mary Alice Collins. I know many people look down on Jello salads these days, but not me, at least not if such salads are prepared in an appetizing way. This Jello salad is summery and delicious when served with fresh fruit.

1 large package lemon Jello
2 cups boiling water
¾ cup sugar
dash of salt
1 6-oz can frozen pink lemonade
1 pint whipping cream, whipped

Dissolve Jello in boiling water. Add sugar and salt, stirring until dissolved. Then add lemonade and chill mixture until partially set. Fold in whipped cream and pour in mold. Chill until set.

Jun 27, 2009

Angel Biscuits

These biscuits are light and delicate in texture. Put butter and apricot jam on these, and you're in heaven.

1 package dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shortening
2 cups buttermilk
3 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and then cut in shortening. Add buttermilk and yeast mixture. Work dough only until well moistened and then cover and refrigerate until needed. It's best to refrigerate the dough for at least several hours before it is used. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.

Jun 24, 2009

Chicken Curry with Cashews

This recipe comes from Gourmet Magazine, but it's easy to make, and I've adapted it to my tastes.

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
3 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (I prefer less heat, so I’d add about 1/8 teaspoon)
1 (3 1/2- to 4-lb) chicken, cut into 10 serving pieces (I use boneless, skinless chicken and cut it up into bite-sized pieces)
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes (I usually use 2 cans)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 cup cashews (1/4 lb) (I sometimes include some cashew pieces)
3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I usually substitute coconut milk for this)

Heat butter in a 5- to 6-quart wide heavy pot over moderately low heat until foam subsides, then cook onions, garlic, and ginger, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder, salt, cumin, and cayenne and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring to coat, 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, including juice, and cilantro and bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes. (If making ahead, see cooks' note, below.)

Just before serving, pulse cashews in a food processor or electric coffee/spice grinder until very finely ground, then add to curry along with yogurt and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring, until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve over rice or pasta. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired.

Curry, without yogurt and cashews, can be made 5 days ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Reheat over low heat before stirring in yogurt and ground cashews.

Jun 23, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a number of chocolate chip cookie recipes that I like. This recipe is probably the one I make most often. These cookies are somewhat crisp on the outside and soft on the inside--what for me is a classic chocolate chip cookie.

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix (I usually use one pkg. vanilla and one pkg. butterscotch)
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown.

Jun 20, 2009

Pescado Zarandeado (Tossed Fish)

I love this recipe! So simple and yet so delicious! And I use whatever vegetables I have on hand. I've substituted carrots, broccoli, red pepper, etc.). I also drizzle a bit of olive oil on the veggies and fish before I close the foil. Oh, and I haven't ever used the cilantro, which I don't care too much about one way or another.

6 18 x 12-inch squares of aluminum foil
½ cup butter, melted
6 6-ounce salmon fillets
½ of an onion, sliced
2 green peppers, sliced
½ cup cilantro, chopped
1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
3 Roma tomatoes, cut into wedges
Lemon pepper to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced

Lay foil pieces on counter. Brush each with melted butter. Place salmon fillets in the middle. Distribute vegetables evenly on top of fish. Season with lemon pepper and garlic. Fold foil over fish and vegetables to make a pouch. Make sure the top and sides are sealed tightly to prevent juices and steam from escaping. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 minutes (or place in a cooler until you arrive at your picnic site with a portable grill; cook pouches on a grill heated to 350 degrees for 12 minutes, or until salmon is fully cooked). After removing pouches from the oven, let rest for several minutes. Be careful of hot steam when opening pouches. Makes 6 servings.

Jun 18, 2009

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

It's homemade ice cream season again, and I love my Cuisinart counter top ice cream maker! It takes just a couple of minutes to whip up the ice cream mixture and then a little over twenty minutes to freeze a batch of ice cream. So it's really easy, and the end result is fabulous!

I love the Ben & Jerry's recipe for fresh strawberry ice cream. I've made it twice this week. A friend suggested that I buy strawberries when they are on sale and then cut them up and mix them with sugar and lemon juice (according to the Ben & Jerry's recipe) and put the mixture in freezer bags in just the right proportion to make batches of ice cream. After that, I pop the bags in the freezer. Then whenever I'm in the mood, I can just take a bag out, thaw it, and whip up a batch of delicious strawberry ice cream.

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/3 cup sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
Sweet Cream Base (see below)

Combine the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour. Prepare the Sweet Cream Base. Mash the strawberries to a puree (I puree them with a hand blender) and stir into the cream base. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.

Sweet Cream Base
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk

Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend.

Makes 1 generous quart.

Jun 16, 2009

"Ham" Loaf Hawaiian

Let me be perfectly clear here. I'm not recommending that anyone make this recipe (though I'm not necessarily morally opposed to SPAM either, like some people). I'm posting this more as a cultural artifact from my life. When I was a kid, I had a Betty Crocker's Boys and Girls Cook Book that my parents gave to me. It helped pique my interest in cooking at an early age. This recipe was in the book, and it was one of the few main dishes I tried to make (only once, if I remember correctly). If you can believe it, I thought that creating something like this made me more of a gourmet cook.

1 12-oz. can SPAM
2 tsp. prepared yellow mustard
8 whole cloves
2 rings canned pineapple, drained
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cutting a little more than halfway through, cut the SPAM loaf into 8 sections. Make sure you don't cut all the way through the loaf. You just want sections that you can spread apart with your fingers.

Starting with the first cut, spread 1/2 tsp. of the mustard in every other cut.

Cut the pineapple rings in half to form four half-circles. Stick two whole cloves in the rounded edge of each pineapple ring half. Tuck the pineapple ring halves into the mustard-coated cuts, rounded sides up. Sprinkle brown sugar over loaf.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes until sugar is melted and SPAM is heated through.

To serve, slice through the loaf at every other cut so the pineapple is in the middle of each serving. Make sure you don't eat the cloves! Serves 4.

Jun 14, 2009

Bleu Cheese Salad Dressing

This dressing is great on fresh pears or tomatoes, as well as on a traditional tossed salad.

½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons onion, finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of garlic powder
3 oz Bleu cheese, crumbled (vary amount according to personal taste)

Thoroughly combine all ingredients except cheese. Blend in Bleu cheese. Cover and refrigerate until chilled and the flavors have blended. Yield: 2 cups.

Jun 11, 2009

Banana Cake with Caramel Nut Frosting

This recipe offers a delicious way to use overripe bananas. And this cake freezes well, too. So I often make this cake when I have the bananas and then put it in the freezer for later. Then, when I need a quick dessert, I pull the cake out, thaw it, and frost it either with the caramel nut frosting below, penuche frosting, vanilla cream cheese frosting, or brown sugar whipped cream.

1/2 cup shortening
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
1 cup mashed bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs. Stir sifted dry ingredients in alternately with the buttermilk. Blend in the bananas with the last addition of flour. Add vanilla. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.

3/4 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons canned milk
1 cup chopped nuts

Beat together and spread on warm cake. Put under broiler until topping browns just slightly (Not too long!).

Jun 10, 2009

Sweet and Sour Spareribs

2 pounds pork spareribs (I usually use boneless country-style ribs)
1 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 piece crushed, fresh ginger root
Cooked rice
Canned pineapple chunks

Cut ribs into bite-sized pieces and brown well in a large pan. Pour off excess fat. Mix other ingredients and pour over ribs. Simmer until tender (about one hour). Stir occasionally. Remove ginger root and serve ribs on a bed of rice, with pineapple chunks arranged around the edge. Serves 8.

Jun 7, 2009

Grilled Salmon

This recipe comes from and had gotten very good reviews. I don't have a grill, so I cooked my salmon in the oven. I wrapped the fillets in a foil packet and cooked the fish at 425 degrees until it was done. Though the recipe didn't wow me (and it may be because I didn't grill the salmon), I did like the end result, and it definitely is simple. I'll continue to tinker with this.

1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets
lemon pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
salt to taste
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil

Season salmon fillets with lemon pepper, garlic powder, and salt. In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, brown sugar, water, and olive oil until sugar is dissolved. Place fish in a large re-sealable plastic bag with the soy sauce mixture, seal, and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Preheat grill for medium heat. Lightly oil grill grate. Place salmon on the preheated grill, and discard marinade. Cook salmon for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Jun 6, 2009

Egg in a Basket

Okay, so this is so simple that it's more of a meal idea than a recipe, but I eat this dish for dinner as well as breakfast.

2 slices sandwich bread
2 teaspoons olive oil (or butter)
2 large eggs
Salt and pepper

Cut a hole in both bread slices. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bread slices side-by-side. Carefully crack an egg into each bread hole (some white will remain on top). Season with salt and pepper. Cook until eggs are somewhat set and bread is browned on one side, then flip over and cook the other side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Try topping with salsa or shredded cheese.

Jun 4, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies

Many years ago, my parents got this recipe for oatmeal cookies at the Utah County Republican Convention, and because of that, they always referred to these cookies as "Republican Oatmeal Cookies." However, since I'm a Democrat, I prefer a less partisan title. But regardless of your political persuasion, this recipe could well become your oatmeal cookie recipe of choice. These delicious cookies are crisp and light, with a hint of cinnamon. Mmmm!

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups oats
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cream sugars and shortening. Blend in vanilla and eggs. Then add dry ingredients, oats, and nuts. Roll in balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.

Note: Instead of rolling the dough in balls, I often shape the dough into rolls, wrap the rolls in wax paper, and then refrigerate or freeze them. Then I just cut the rolls into slices and bake them. It's an easy way to have home-baked cookies ready at a moment's notice.