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DH’s grandmother’s apple tapioca pudding is perfect comfort food.

APPLE TAPIOCA PUDDING

3/4 cup pearl or 1/2 cup minute tapioca 1/2 teaspoon salt
Cold water 7 sour apples
21/2 cups boiling water 1/2 cup sugar

Soak tapioca one hour in cold water to cover, drain, add boiling water and salt; cook in double boiler until transparent. Core and pare apples, arrange in buttered pudding-dish, fill cavities with sugar, pour over tapioca, and bake in moderate oven until apples are soft. Serve with sugar and cream or whipped cream. Minute Tapioca requires no soaking.

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This is a to-die-for recipe. It is rich but worth every calorie, in my opinion.

This gooey pumpkin butter cake is outstanding. It is based on a recipe from Paula Deen.

Cake: 

1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted

Gooey Topping:

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

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Cake mixture has been patted into bottom of pan.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

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Mixing the pumpkin and cream cheese.

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Serve with fresh whipped cream.

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The sun is setting. It’s time to eat!

According to my husband, beef pot pie is one of the best things I make. It is also easy.

The two essentials to making meat pie are first to have enough good & tasty gravy to almost cover the cooked meat, and second to ensure that steam does not produce a soggy crust.

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My dough is rolled out and ready to go over the gravy-covered beef and vegetables.

Here are two sure-fire methods to prevent a soggy pie crust (I use method 2):

  1. Use any unsweetened pie dough and prebake separately on a baking tin cut to cover the casserole. Since pie dough shrinks during baking cut it slightly larger than your baking dish and prick it with a fork. Bake the pastry seperately at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Set your crust aside. Cover your meat and gravy (vegetables too, if desired) with aluminum foil and bake until warm in the casserole dish. When your meat and gravy is hot and bubbly, place the prebaked crust on top and serve at once.
  2. OR… put an unbaked dough over the stew and bake the meat mixture and dough at the same time (I prefer this method):

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Fill baking dish with cooked stew and gravy to one inch from the top. Place over it a generous covering of round of dough, allowing for shrinking. Brush dough with a little milk. Be sure to make slashes and prick your dough with a fork to allow steam to escape. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cover pie crust edges with foil. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 35 minutes until crust is golden and your filling is bubbly.

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Buster begging for pie trimmings. He’s already had some. See the flour on his face?

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The pot pie is hot and ready. For my filling I used left-over roast beef & gravy, cooked mixed vegetables (frozen mix) and another cup of gravy made from a dried mix.

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Yea! My crust is flakey, not soggy.

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Dinner rolls minus one roll.

Last night I dug out my tattered original handwritten recipe, scalded, mixed and kneaded. I left the dough in a covered bowl overnight. This morning I shaped and set the almost finished rolls out in the warmest part of the kitchen to rise.

Buster watched.

When I came back into the kitchen later to check on my rolls, the towel that had been covering  the rolls was on the floor. A roll was missing. Buster was innocently sleeping on the rug in front of the stove.

He didn’t so much as blink when he saw me checking the rolls to see if any of those remaining were “obviously” licked or sniffed.

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Roll? What roll?

“Best in Show” Dinner Rolls

Along with homemade mincemeat and pumpkin pie, my grandmother and mother made these rolls for holiday dinners. As a teenager, I  entered them in the County 4-H Fair and won “Best in Show” in the yeast bread category. 

Warm 1/4 lb. butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup milk until lukewarm (scald milk, turn heat off, let butter melt then add sugar)

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Scalded Milk is milk that has come to a boil. There will be a skin on the top of scalded milk.

Mix yeast in lukewarm water.

Beat 3 eggs.

Mix milk and eggs and add yeast.

Gradually add 5 cups flour and 1 tsp. salt.

Let rise overnight in a covered bowl.

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The dough is ready to be rolled or shaped and set out to rise again.

In the morning knead a little. Shape your rolls. Let rise until evening.

Bake at 350-375 until golden brown.

Besides bringing dinner rolls I am also bringing a Sour Cream Apple Pie and Paula Deen’s Gooey Pumpkin Butter Bars to our family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

NOTE: If Buster had managed to snatch more rolls, it could have been fatal. According to this article,, a dog’s stomach is a nice warm, moist environment, so, unbaked dough can expand to many times its size when ingested. With Christmas just around the corner and holiday parties in full swing, keep in mind any four-legged family members, who might be waiting for “opportunity”, and take care not to leave “people” food out the way I did.

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Sour dough pancakes with sausage and hot real maple syrup.

It is cold today…40 degrees, with wind and rain.

But, I’m ready. My  sour dough starter has been upstairs by the radiator for 48 hours. It’s yeasty and bubbling and fermenting and smells pleasantly alchoholic. It is a family tradition too. I got the starter that is starting my starter from my mother who has been making the recipe since 1988.

This morning I used some of it and surprised my husband with sour dough pancakes. He loved them. They were light and tasted as good as I had hoped. Which inspired me to dig through my recipe drawer to find recipes for sour dough biscuits, cakes and bread.

The weather is miserable. But, I’m happily inside, wallowing in domesticity. I’m encasing my favorite recipes and some I want to try in plastic and organizing them in a 3-ring binder. I’ve made up menus. I’ve done a grocery list.

Meanwhile, my sour dough ferments and gets better. It will last for as long as I keep feeding it.

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When your starter is ready it should be bubbly and have a pleasant yet slightly sour aroma.

MOM’ SIMPLE SOUR DOUGH STARTER
(Can be left unattended for 3 weeks, no problem.)

1 pkg. dry yeast

2 cups warm water

2 cups flour.

Mix flour and yeast in 1 1/2 qt. container (glass or earthenware). Use wooden spoon. Add water. Cover with cheesecloth or towel. Leave in warm room for 48 hours. Stir 2 to 3 times. It will ferment, bubble and accquire a slightly sour smell. Makes 3 cups. Refrigerate. To use, stir then pour off as much as the recipe requires. Then add equal parts of flour and water to the remaining starter in the pot. Stir & let stand a few hrs. until it bubbles again before covering and refrigerating.

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Part of the batter is mixed and set out the night before you want to have sour dough pancakes.

MOM’S OLD-TIME SOUR DOUGH PANCAKES

1 cup starter

2 cups flour

enough warm water to make batter

Make batter using the starter, flour and warm water. Set in warm place until morning. In the morning, stir up the batter a little. Not too much.

While the griddle is heating add:

1/4 cup dry skim milk

1 to 1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sugar

1/3 cup melted shortening

2 eggs beaten

Dissolve 1 tsp. baking soda in a little warm water and add just before spooning batter onto griddle.

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Turn your pancake over when the top is covered with bubbles. This pancake is just starting to bubble.

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The bottom of the pancake browns quickly. Keep a close eye.

MOM’S QUICK SOURDOUGH BREAD

1 tsp dry yeast

3 tbsp. warm water

2 cups starter

3 tbsp. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. salt

3 tbsp. non-fat milk powder

2 tbsp. shortening or vegetable oil

3-4 cups flour

Generously grease a 9×5 loaf pan, set aside. In small bowl sprinkle yeast over warm water. Set aside to soften – 5 minutes.

In large bowl combine yeast mixture, starter, sugar, salt, milk powder & shortening or oil. Beat until blended. Gradually stir in enough flour to make a medium stiff dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough for 8 – 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Add more flour if needed. Shape into loaf and place in prepared pan. Cover with cloth and set in a warm place free from drafts. Let rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until double in size.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake 50 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped with your fingers. If after 30 minutes loaf is golden brown, cover with a tent of foil to prevent further browning. Turn out of pan. Cool on a rack.

MOM’S SOURDOUGH BISCUITS

1 1/2 cups flour

3 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. shortening

1 cup starter

Mix dry ingredients – cut in shortening. Stir in starter & knead 20 times on floured board. Roll 1/2″ thick and cut with biscuit cutter. Place on floured cookie sheet and let rise until double. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

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I made these this morning. Most of them are gone already.

MY BLUEBERRY SOURDOUGH MUFFINS

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 oil

1 cup sourdough starter

1 cup white or whole-wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 425.

 Combine dry ingredients in small bowl. Stir in blueberries. Combine wet ingredients in a larger bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ones. (I sprinkled a little sugar and cinnamon on top of my muffins)

Mix quickly and spoon into greased and floured muffin tin.

Bake at 425 for about 20 minutes.  

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Tonight we had baked spaghetti with garlic bread.

DH wanted baked spaghetti.

I’d never heard of it. It sounded kind of dry. I thought the pasta underneath might end up mushy and overcooked.

“No,” said DH, “it’s wonderful. The pasta absorbs the sauce and makes it really flavorful. I really like it.”

So, when I found Imagineannie’s meatloaf and baked spaghetti “planned over” dinners I thought I would give both recipes a try. I am glad I did. DH was right. It WAS wonderful. Plus I not only used up the meatloaf from the night before, DH and I were thrilled to be eating leftovers. 

I will definitely be making both the meatloaf and baked spaghetti again.

Here is the link to Imagineannie’s “planned over” recipes:
http://imagineannie.wordpress.com/2007/10/02/planned-overs-the-transformers-of-the-kitchen/

 You can use any spaghetti sauce for baked spaghetti. I used homemade sauce from my freezer. Here’s my recipe and method for sauce from garden tomatoes:

http://jolynna.wordpress.com/2007/08/12/homemade-spaghetti-sauce-with-garden-tomatoes-herbs-homemade-meatballs-how-to-peel-tomatoes-dhs-gardening-secret/ 

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My neighbor and friend, Freeda, working in her kitchen.

Monday through Friday, while their mother works, 89 year old Freeda babysits for her two year old, 4 year old and 6 year old great-grandchildren. She also gardens, keeps house and quilts. When I talked to her today she had made grape jelly and grape juice from her homegrown grapes.  She also told me about freezing her special cucumber and onion mix. 

When she is not busy with chores, Freeda says she loves to read.

Today, I got one of Freeda’s almost impossibe to get quilts. Freeda only accepts a few orders per year so her waiting list is years long. But, this was my lucky day. One of Freeda’s customers failed to pick up an order and Freeda thought I might be interested.

I was not a hard sell.


My new quilt is cream with a wedding ring pattern in shades of lavender with green accents.

While DH and I were admiring some of Freeda’s other quilts, she talked about growing up and living Amish. I was spellbound. I was also hoping Freeda would reveal her secret to being such a youthful almost 90 (in December) year old.

Freeda grew up in North Dakota during a time of dust storms and the depression. She was the fifth child from a family of eleven. Her nearest neighbors were a mile away.

“We raised most of our food,” says Freeda, “mother always had a big garden. We had small fruits like strawberries, currants, red and black raspberries, gooseberries and Juneberries. We had our chores to do.  We carried wood, coal and water.

“We had chickens to feed, eggs to gather and cows to milk. I started milking when I was ten.

“Mother set her own hens — sometimes 24 hens at one time. She also had turkeys, ducks and geese. The little peeps were my job when I was old enough to do it. I would feed them clabbered milk and hard boiled eggs with chick powder mixed in. In the winter, chickens, calves, cows, sheep, pigs, sheep, cats, dogs and horses were all in the same barn. When the doors were opened, the steam rolled out. Frost gathered on the inside of the walls so thick that we would write our names there while doing chores and it would stay there until spring.”


The barn was 100 feet long. In the summer cooking was done in the summer kitchen in front of the barn.

In 1936 Freeda married Eli and by 1959, they had eight children. Then they further expanded their family by taking in foster children needing a home. Over the next 25 years Freeda and Eli took in 46 children including those with handicaps and serious illnesses.

 “Several children came that were so undernourished,” says Freeda, ” one girl was hit on the head by her daddy and was blind and paralyzed because of it. She had surgery on her head and was able to see and walk again. She was soon adopted after that.

“It’s hard to give up children in foster care. They never left without tears and a prayer, knowing that God would take care of them wherever they are.

“After 25 years we quit foster care. Five years later they wanted us to start up again, but in the meantime, friends and neighbors had started bringing in their babies and I started daycare. I did not realize it would last until now, over 20 years later. I just thank God for my health so I can continue to have the children since it helps pass the time and the days are not so long.”


Eli’s first horse and buggy.

 In 1981, Freeda and Eli traveled to Germany, France, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium and Denmark. In 1987 they took a 6 week trip to Alaska. They went up to see the pipeline. While in Fairbanks, they saw an eskimo lady sweeping the sidewalks.

She said, “Are you what we call Amish?” She told Freeda and Eli that she had read about the Amish and that there were just a few left. Freeda told her there were Amish in almost every state in the United States.

Says Freeda, “She had the Shaker people in mind. There are just a few of them left.”

In 1990, when Eli was 80 years old, he and Freeda went to Paraguay, South America for two weeks for a wedding. In 1993, Eli had flu symptoms and a pain in his side.

Only it wasn’t the flu. Eli had had an abdominal aneurysm. Freeda and Eli had been married 57 years when he died. Together they had bought and paid for their farm. They had traveled around the world. They had raised 8 children and fostered 46. In addition, Freeda has 20 grandchildren and 24 greatgrandchildren.

“We had a good life,” says Freeda, “It was a busy one, I’m still busy and I have no regrets. The Lord has been good to me and for that I am grateful and truly at peace.”

Freeda’s Frozen Cucumber and Onion Mix

Slice your cucumbers and onions

Cover cucumbers and onions with 2 tablespoons of salt.

Let sit 2 hours.

Then drain the salt off.

Boil sugar and water to taste.

Put cucumbers and onions into freezer container and cover them with boiled sugar water.

Freeze.

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Tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden have become part of our kitchen decor.

Horse manure!

DH brags about the power of his horse manure compost as if he invented it and got a nobel prize for the invention. “George Washington swore the secret to good farming was horse manure,” says DH.

“You just wait,” he said last summer, “George Washington knew his stuff, you’ll see.”

We added dried manure to our compost pile of grass clippings and shredded leaves last fall. This spring DH tilled it into our garden. Then we used more grass clippings and shredded leaves for mulch on top.

I was hoping the mulch would prevent unwanted plants from popping up, resulting in a no till, weedless garden. That didn’t happen. We had weeds. But, DH was so right about horse manure producing garden miracles. Our one cucumber plant has produced 60 cucumbers…so far.

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Our onions shortly before they were pulled up and cured.

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The first watermelons we found. There are at least 15 on that plant now.

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An 11 pound zuchini that came from a volunteer plant on our compost pile. We didn’t find it until it had grown to this size.

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A basket full of Yukon Gold potatoes. I had no idea potatoes could be so good.

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Browning the meatballs and simmering the tomato basil sauce.

Dinner tonight featured home grown tomatoes and basil.

MY MEATBALLS

Soak in milk, water or stock;

1 slice of bread, 1 inch thick

 Beat:

2 eggs

Add eggs to:

1 1/2 lb. ground meat/I used ribeye

Saute until golden brown:

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

Add to the meat. Wring the liquid from the bread. Add the bread to the meat and then add:

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/2 chopped clove garlic

3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp. oregano/I’ve used Italian Herbs

Mix and form into balls. Brown lightly in:

2 tablespoons butter

 Cover your frying pan and simmer on low until the meatballs for 1/2 or until the meatballs are firm and no longer pink in the middle.

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Cooking down the sauce.

SPAGHETTI SAUCE WITH FRESH TOMATOES AND BASIL
6 peeled, seeded and cut up tomatoes
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
 garlic, minced to taste or pinch of garlic powder
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons fresh basil (more or less to taste)

DIRECTIONS
In a large skillet or saucepan combine the tomatoes,  tomato
sauce, garlic, sugar and basil. (Other herbs may be added. I really like basil and prefer just that with tomatoes.) Stir all together and simmer over low heat until thickened. More sugar and a tablespoon of butter may be added if the sauce is too acidic. Flour (1 to 2 tablespoons) may be added if you prefer a thicker sauce. Stir frequently to prevent burning.

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Homemade spaghetti sauce with fresh tomatoes and basil over meatballs & spaghetti. It was sooooooo good!

HOW TO PEEL TOMATOES

Put the tomatoes, a few at a time in a large pot of boiling water for no more than 1 minute (30 – 45 seconds is usually enough)

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then….

Plunge them into a waiting bowl of ice water.

 

 

This makes the skins slide right off of the tomatoes!  If you leave the skins in, they become tough and chewy in the sauce…not very pleasant.

 

 

 

 

After you have peeled the skins off the tomatoes, cut the tomatoes in half. 

Now you need to remove the seeds and excess water. Wash your hands then squeeze each tomato and use your finger or a spoon to scoop and shake out most of the seeds. You don’t need to get fanatical about it; removing just most will do.

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Toss the squeezed tomatoes into a colander or drainer, while you work on others. This helps more of the water to drain off. You’ll end up with a thicker spaghetti sauce in less cooking time!

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DH’s grandmother’s cookbook.

Does anyone know what the second ingredient is in the chocolate pudding recipe?

I guessed sugar.

DH thinks the word is Snickers.

DH’s guess is supported by the correct spelling of the word sugar in the vanilla sauce recipe on the opposite page. But, I am still skeptical.

DH talks a lot about what a good cook his Grandmother Helen was. So I wanted to do something special for him and to make him something from her cookbook. 

Only I wasn’t sure about the recipe’s second ingredient.

DH was. 

Once I asked for his help and showed him the cookbook he had a craving for Snicker pudding. He offered to run down to the closest convenience store.

There is no way I would ever turn down an opportunity to get Snickers bars into our house. I agreed to make the pudding if DH would get the candy.

Six cups of milk sounded like too much pudding for two people so I halved the recipe. We still had two day’s worth of dessert. It was good. DH loved it.

(I did decrease the cornstarch to  1/4 cup instead of 1/2 cup and the pudding was still thick. I also added some sugar along with the snickers.)

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Preparations for Snicker bar pudding.

 DH’s Grandmother’s Chocolate Snicker Pudding

Mix in a saucepan:

2 cut up Snicker’s bars

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

pinch of salt

Slowly add 3 cups of milk, stirring the whole time. Bring to a boil.

dsc00260.jpg The pudding is done and in the bowl.