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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Chocolate Berry Crumb Bars



This busy grandma finally made these cookies along with my daughter-in-law, Yulia, who shared them with her office staff at a pitch-in luncheon. She won first place with kudos for the cookies. Try this recipe yourself. There are lots of parties and holidays in your future.

Scroll through the blog and you will find several of our favorite family recipes. Try the pumpkin cookies with cream cheese icing.  Check back later for more October recipes.





                                          Chocolate Berry Crumb Bars

Ingredients:

1 cup butter softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cups packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided)
1 ¼ cups sweetened condensed milk
½ cup of your favorite berry jam- I prefer seedless raspberry.
½ cup chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 360 degrees. Spray 13x9 inch glass baking pan with baking spray.
  2. In large mixing bowl beat softened butter until creamy. Add flour, sugar and salt and mix until crumbly. Spread all but about ¾ cup of crumbs into pan, sprinkle with flour, and press lightly with finger tips. Set rest of crumbs aside.
  3. Bake about 10 minutes or until crumbs start to brown around edges. Remove from oven, but leave oven on.
  4. In a small saucepan put the condensed milk and 1 cup chocolate chips. Warm at low temperature and stir until creamy. Spread it over the baked crust.
  5. Chop the nuts and add to the remaining crumbs. Sprinkle over chocolate sauce.
  6. Drop dollops of jam on top of crumbs until ½ cup of jam is used. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top and return to oven. Bake 25-30 minutes until center is set and crumbs are slightly brown. Remove pan to wire rack to cool. Cut into squares. Serve and delight your guests.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Shrimp Pad Thai with Brown Rice



I love Pad Thai and took a craving for some the other day. I looked through the cupboard but couldn’t find any rice noodles. I assessed the ingredients on hand and came up with a new dish. After trying it the family all agreed we should definitely make it again. Try it yourself and see what you think.

                                            
Ingredients for brown rice:
1 cup brown rice
2 ½ cups water
1 teaspoon salt
In medium pot combine rice, water, and salt then bring to a boil. Stir once, lower temperature to simmer and cover. Continue cooking for 40 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. If you prefer, use rice noodles instead of brown rice. Set aside.

Shrimp and vegetable ingredients:
3 cups precooked shrimp pealed with tails removed
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup chopped celery with leaves
 ½ cup chopped red or yellow sweet peppers
1 can drained sliced water chestnuts
 ½ cup Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce or more to taste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup frozen peas
½ cup chopped cucumbers
½ cup peanut butter or chopped peanuts
3 cup chopped lettuce

While rice cooks, thaw shrimp in colander placed in large bowl. Allow shrimp to stand in cold water until thawed.

In a large skillet sauté celery and red peppers in the coconut oil for about five minutes.
Add (drained) water chestnuts and cook for five minutes more. Add drained shrimp, soy sauce, Teriyaki sauce, and peanut butter. Allow to simmer for a few minutes more then add frozen peas. When peas are thawed and warm add the lettuce and cover. Turn off skillet and let set for few minutes more. Serve over brown rice or rice noodles prepared according to package directions. This should serve six. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sweet Corn



When we were kids growing up on a farm in Ohio, sweet corn was our favorite garden crop. In the summer we picked ears of corn by the dozen. We shucked and boiled them on the stove until they were crisp. Then we slathered them with butter, sprinkled them with salt, and ate them nearly every day.

There were other ways we prepared corn. When the ears were mature, Mom used a paring knife to cut a line from end to end on each row. Then she used the dull side of the knife to scrape the cobs until the creamy contents were removed. She placed an iron skillet with butter on a hot stove, poured in the creamy corn, and added a little salt. Then she stirred it when it began to brown. It is unbelievably delicious when hot from the stove.

Mom even used this late corn in her cornbread. That was long ago, but corn is still one of our favorite dishes.

Now, we usually roast ears of corn on the grill or cook them in the microwave if we’re in a hurry. If we have any leftover ears we cut the corn off the cob and add it to salads or make corn dip. Corn dip is a family favorite. Try this at your next reunion, cookout, or party. It’s fast and easy to make and all your friends will want this recipe. Enjoy your corn before the season is over. Oh, don’t forget to freeze any leftovers.

                                                       Corn Dip

1 ear or 1 cup of whole sweet corn (leftover or fresh made, canned or frozen)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 or 3 chopped green onions with the stems
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1 small can chopped green chilies, drained
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2-3 drops of hot pepper sauce
salsa to taste if desired

After preparing your corn, drain and place in medium sized bowl. Add remaining ingredients, mix well and place in serving dish. Surround dip with your favorite corn chips, or tortilla chips.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Never Too Many Strawberries



June for me always meant strawberry time. When I was young strawberries were sweeter, smaller, and juicier than today.  I made jam in a large gray kettle, inhaled the aroma, scraped the foam from the luscious concoction, and shared it with the children. The finished product was canned in half pint jars and kept in the cellar for winter.

Recently my daughter Becky came to visit and made strawberry jam. It was delicious, took much less time to make and is now stored in the freezer. We don’t have wild berries, but it certainly brings back memories when poured over ice cream, or spread on toast.

A couple of weeks ago we went shopping at Costco and got a huge crate of strawberries. We got creative and made strawberry bread from Heaven’s recipes. (Recipe found on this blog). There were so many berries we didn’t have room to store them in the refrigerator. So I rinsed and froze most of them in two cup portions and thought of ways to use them: smoothies, muffins, jam, and a recipe for a strawberry fruit cake that I invented.

This is a variation of a Mexican fruit cake that I have been making for years. The recipe originally came from my daughter-in-law Stacey. The difference being I substituted a package of frozen strawberries for crushed pineapple. Try this extremely moist cake while strawberries are still available at a reasonable price.

                                                     Strawberry Fruit Cake
 


Ingredients:

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) strawberries
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

  1. Combine eggs, sugar, and chopped strawberries in medium mixing bowl.
  2. In large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, and baking soda.
  3. Add contents of medium bowl to flour, sugar mixture and combine thoroughly. Then add nuts.
  4. Grease bottom of oblong cake pan and pour batter into pan.
  5. Place into preheated oven at 350 degrees and bake until golden brown about 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  6. Ice with this cream cheese frosting recipe while still hot.
  7. Cool on wire rack and refrigerate until ready to serve.
                                              
                                              Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

8 ounces Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 stick softened butter (no substitute)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

While the cake is baking, cream the softened cheese and butter (no substitute). Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat with mixer until ingredients are well combined. As soon as the cake is removed from the oven pour the icing over the cake. Cool on rack and then refrigerate until ready to serve. This iced cake with the frosting is very rich. Cut it into small pieces and it will serve a large crowd. Let the children help with this project. They love to mix and of course lick the bowl. Have fun cooking with the kids.



Friday, May 30, 2014

Cream Puffs


                                                               
Have you ever eaten homemade cream puffs? I was about 11 years old when I first tasted these delectable tender treats. My older brother and I were taking a walk past the farm where Rachel lived. She was in my brother’s class at school and he was sweet on her. She was cavorting on the lawn and invited us to join her. We wasted no time taking her up on the proposition.  

It was a hot summer day and we soon rested in the shade on the porch to drink a glass of cold lemonade. A wonderful aroma was escaping from the screen door and I could no longer contain my curiosity.

“Rachel, is your mom baking cookies?” I asked.

“No, that’s cream puffs.”

“What’s a cream puff?”

My brother looked at me and frowned. I could read his mind—Mom said it was impolite to ask people for food, but I wasn’t asking.

“It is a pastry made with lots of eggs, butter, and sugar, with pudding inside,” she said.
“Would you like to try one?”

I looked at Buddy then back at Rachel. “Oh, we don’t want to bother y’all.”

“Oh it’s no bother. Mom is a great cook. When she makes cream puffs she makes a lot.”

Buddy interrupted, “We’d love to.”

Before you know it we were in the kitchen, our mouths watering, looking at all the cream puffs sprinkled in powdered sugar—vanilla, chocolate, and butterscotch. I chose the butterscotch and wanted seconds, but my mother taught us manners. I knew that someday I would make cream puffs and I did.

At the age of 19 my first cookbook, by Meta Given, had a recipe for cream puffs.  No time was wasted in gathering the ingredients needed, and, all my guests raved at the production. Try this recipe yourself and see if you get the same reception.


                                           
Pastry ingredients:

1 cup water
1 stick butter
1 cup flour
4 large eggs

Directions:
In a medium sized pot bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour all at once and stir vigorously until smooth and clumped together. Remove from heat and allow dough to cool for 10 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat with a wooden spoon until well blended.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease two large cookie sheets. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons full—12 on each pan and bake for 15 minutes. Switch shelves and lower temperature to 300 degrees. Continue baking until 30 to 40 total minutes are reached or until light brown. Cool on wire rack. Slice top from each puff and remove any dough inside that is not baked. Fill with whipping cream, or thick pudding and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Pudding filling for Vanilla Cream Puffs:

1 cup white sugar
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups scalded milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Substitutes for white sugar

Use 1 cup brown sugar and 2 tablespoons butter for butterscotch pudding, or ¼ cup cocoa powder to basic vanilla pudding recipe for chocolate.

Combine all ingredients sugar through milk. Cook and stir at a simmer.
Whip eggs in small bowl and beat until smooth, add to pudding and return to a simmer until thickened. Add vanilla. Cool completely and use to fill each puff. Don’t forget to sprinkle with powdered sugar. The kids will love making these.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Fresh Basil Pesto


Winter has clung to Virginia. Every time we think spring is here, it only lasts a couple of days and then gets cold again. I want fresh herbs, sunshine, and gentle rains. Maybe I should just plant my herbs in a pot or buy them already potted. Have you already planted your herbs?

I’m dreaming of fresh homemade pesto made with basil straight from the garden. Gently rub your herbs and they exude a wonderful fragrance even better than roses.  Now run to the farmers’ market, pick up your fresh basil, and try this recipe for pesto. It’s great in your pasta, on your pizza, in salads, and even on a toasted bagel.  I sometimes make Italian bread and put the pesto in the center. It’s wonderful when eaten warm.

                                            
Ingredients:

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts
2/3 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

  1. In a food processor combine olive oil, garlic, and salt until smooth.
  2. Add basil then the nuts, chopped coarsely and blend a little more.
  3. Fold in the Parmesan cheese.
  4. Your pesto is all ready to use in your favorite recipe.

Fresh pesto, kept in the frig, will last for weeks. Pesto is good frozen for at least a year. Freeze it in an ice cube tray by the tablespoon. Remove the frozen cubes and place them in zip lock bags. Just drop a cube in your soup or spaghetti. You won’t have to measure the dry herbs and it is far superior in taste. You’ll love it and so will your family. 



The photo is whole wheat spaghetti with meat sauce, pesto, and fresh Parmesan cheese. The bread is "No Need to Knead Bread" and the recipe can be found right here on my blog.




Sunday, March 23, 2014

Another Russian Dish--Belyashi (Pronounced Belashe)



Natasha, my daughter-in-law’s mother, prepared an unforgettable dish called Belyashi just before she left for Mother Russia. The recipe for Belyashi, a fried meat pie, originally came from Belarus, an area northwest of Moscow.  My husband said it reminded him of food he had eaten at his maternal grandmother’s home when he was a boy—in fact Natasha herself reminded him of his Russian grandmother.

This little meat pie is made with a crust that’s pretty much like pizza dough. So I’m sharing my pizza dough recipe. If you want to use your own pastry dough or buy it at your friendly grocery, that’s fine.

1. Pastry:  First, in a small mixing bowl combine ¼ cup tepid water, 2 teaspoons yeast, and a pinch of sugar. Stir and set aside. Go on to next step

2. In medium mixing bowl combine 4 cups of unbleached flour with 1 teaspoon salt. Spread the dry flour mixture up the sides of the bowl to form a hollow in the center.                                                 

3. Pour 1 cup warm water, yeast mixture, and ¼ cup olive oil into center of flour mixture. Use fork to pull flour into liquid to form stiff dough.  Remove dough from bowl to floured bread board and knead for about 10 minutes or until dough is no longer sticky. Oil the surface of dough and place in clean large bowl. Allow to rise in warm place until double in bulk, about an hour.

4. Filling: While dough rises prepare the meat. Combine ½ pound ground pork, ½ lb. ground beef, 1 teaspoon salt, a pinch of ground black pepper, ½ medium minced onion, and ½ teaspoon crushed garlic. Add a small amount of water to mixture to make filling the consistency of oatmeal.

5. Forming Belyashi: After dough is kneaded pinch into pastry balls the size of biscuits. Role each ball into circles about four inches in diameter. Place a heaping tablespoon of meat mixture on dough. Pull the dough up around the meat to form into a pie with a small circle of filling showing in center. Pinch sides together.

6. Pour about ½ inch of oil in a large skillet and heat to medium temperature. Carefully place pies, two or three at a time, meat side down in the skillet. Fry until golden brown then turn over and complete cooking on other side. Place pies on paper towels to drain fat. Serve Belyashi while hot for a stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal.

Natasha recommends it with a cup of tea or coffee on a snowy day.