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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lemon Bars

You can't go wrong with cream cheese and pecans!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

One of my favorite summer desserts.  This recipe beats any I've had before.

Watermelon Juice

Sweet summer nectar!

Frozen Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches

Hello, yumminess.  Original and delicious dessert.  Perfect for summer entertaining!

Walnut-Cheddar Cheese Ball

I bet you are all jealous of my amazing book club.  Everyone who hosts always makes something delicious for the rest of us to nosh on while we discuss our book . . . and everything else.

Banana Bars

Another book club delight from my frienda, Brenda.  Also, I've been saving this clipart for just the right recipe card . . .

7-Layer Bean Dip

Perfect party food.  Easy, delicious, and feeds a crowd!

Pumpkin Bars

Mmmmmm . . . pumpkin. My frienda Brenda made these at book club and they were the perfect late-night comfort food. Or any time of day, really.

Dad's Oatmeal Cake

If nostalgia has a taste for me, this is it. Not only is this cake as healthy as you can get (and still be cake), it's totally delicious. We never ate it with frosting. My dad could whip this up in a few minutes, and it makes your whole house smell amazing while its baking.

I think I need to go make some right now . . .

Also, I entered this cake into a cake recipe contest sponsored by Hobby Farm Home, one of my favorite magazines.  And it won!  The category was . . . ahem . . . Best Animal-friendly Cake. Go ahead and laugh.  I promise you can't derive more glee out of this admission than my five sisters already have.

I knew my dad's oatmeal cake recipe would win, because it is delicious (when I called to tell him about my glory, his response was "You prostituted my recipe!").  Plus, I knew that perhaps not that many people would enter this shameful unique category.  And seventy-five bucks is seventy-five bucks, people.  (Plus I got three copies of the July issue, and my choice of two books published by HFH.  I chose Less is More: Embracing Simplicity for a healthy planet, a caring economy, and lasting happiness, and Backyard Bounty: the complete guide to year-round gardening in the Pacific Northwest.)

However, I do take issue with the picture that the folks at HFH put with my prize-winner. I picture oatmeal cake being eaten by people, and perhaps shared with horses, goats, chickens, maybe even cows or pigs. But not with DOGS. Who gives cake to a dog??? You can have a dog and still not have a farm or even a hobby farm, so I don't know why Hobby Farm Home didn't create a photo-op for some goats.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pumpkin Scones

My friend Julie made these and brought them to a lunch meeting we were having.  Hello, scrumptious!  I am a sucker for pumpkiny baked goods, and these were such an unexpected and delightful treat.  They are super easy to make, too.  It's rainy and cold where I live today, so these were the perfect comfort food.





Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chocolate Cream Pie

This is my husband's favorite pie, though he recently told me that it was tied with apple pie.  It's a recipe handed down from his paternal grandmother, who is such a good Southern cook.  I made it for dessert on Sunday and it turned out beautifully, which isn't always the case with this pie--you have to have CONSTANT VIGILANCE (as Mad-Eye Moody would say) when you are whisking the filling over the stove--my arm usually aches before I am done.

I used my flakiest pie crust recipe for the crust.  Single crusts are harder for me than double crusts, because they sometimes slide down in the pie pan while they're baking.  I pressed the edge of the pie dough just over the edge of the pie pan, then pressed it all around with the back of a fork, and it turned out pretty well. You want to poke the crust all over with a fork, even around the sides, so it won't puff up.  Bake your crust for about 15 minutes at 350, until it's barely golden brown.

The filling in this recipe is soooo rich and good, and it doesn't rely on cornstarch to thicken.  Hard to believe there's only about a third a cup of cocoa in it.  You must use whole milk or evaporated milk, or it will be runny, something I learned the hard way.  On Thanksgiving Day.  Such memories . . .

For the meringue, I beat the five egg whites until they got foamy, then I added about 2/3 cup of white sugar, beating it in a tablespoon at a time, until it began to get glossy.  Then I added a teaspoon of vanilla and a tiny pinch of salt and beat it until it was stiff.  It took a long time, even with an electric beater.  Use a completely dry bowl, and be sure there is no yolk in your egg whites, or it just won't turn out.  (I beat the meringue with my electric mixer until its ready, then use the mixer, with a little meringue on the beaters, to beat the warm pie filling in the saucepan before I scrape it into my prepared crust.  Then I top the filling with the meringue.  That way I don't have to use the beaters, then wash and dry and re-use them)
Meringue before baking
To prevent weeping or shrinking, you want to put the meringue on the filling while it is still warm, and make sure that you spread the meringue right up the edge of the crust.  I used my silicone spatula to swirl a design around the meringue before baking it for about 8 minutes in a 400-degree oven.
Meringue after baking--and my favorite tablecloth that
originally belonged to Grandmother Renfroe
I always crave pie when I am pregnant.  Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), it's not a food that's readily available--grocery store pies do not do it for me, and we are at least an hour from any bakery worth trying.  if you want something done, you've got to . . . well, you know.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

A fabulous new recipe from my friend Melanie, mistress o' cookies!  Seriously, she inspires me to get out of my chocolate-chip zone . . . every cookie she's made for me has been reduced to crumbs in seconds.  If you like cream cheese, or chocolate, or cookies, or cake . . . then look no further.  This recipe is your new best friend.  I think the picture speaks for itself.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thai-Style Squash Soup

There are never leftovers of this soup.  As soon as the "fullness" wears off from eating my first three bowls, I polish off the rest.  It is so flavorful and unique, and delicious with bread sticks for dipping.  By far my very favorite soup to eat.

I put the first seven ingredients in the saucepan first, then add the oil and turn on the heat--otherwise it starts smoking before you can get all the ingredients in.



You can definitely make this without the
Nam Pla (fish sauce)--I hardly notice the
difference, though it's more authentic with
real Thai ingredients, of course.

After you've simmered until the squash is tender, it's a cinch to blend it up in batches--I usually pour two servings worth right into a Tupperware container to freeze so Allen and I can have some later.  My kids do like it, but not as much as Allen and I do.  It's yummy to stir in cooked rice or steamed broccoli . . . or, if you can't stand eating an entirely vegetarian meal, crumbled bacon is always good, too.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

I had to do a recipe card makeover before I posted pictures of these peanut butter cookies.  Here is the old card:
This is the old card--scroll down for the new and improved
I don't like using color pictures if I can avoid it--I don't know why I used an actual photograph on this original recipe card.  Or either of those fonts.  If you're like me, you can't afford to buy a new color printer cartridge every month.  Plus, I think black and white on a recipe card looks more authentically vintage.

I got this recipe years ago from the Martha Stewart website, and these cookies turn out perfectly every time--I've never had a batch that wasn't soft and delicious.  If you dip your fork in warm water before pressing each cookie, it won't ever stick and makes the perfect cross-hatch top.

(By the way, I love the tablecloth in the above photo--it used to be Allen's Grandmother's and I think it is so pretty and feminine.  Vintage linens are some of my favorite things to look at when I go to my local thrift store.)

And here is the new recipe card.  Much better, don't you think?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bran Muffins

If you haven't figured it out already, I am crazy about muffins.  They are the perfect food: already in serving-size portions, filling, delicious, cute, and (usually) healthy.  And they make your kitchen smell like heaven.

My friend Melanie B. surprised me with some muffin batter on Monday evening . . . I don't know if she knew it was the best gift she could possibly give me, but it was (and is . . . hint, hint).
Mel brought the batter in a big yogurt container
with instructions in her cute, precise handwriting
I am six months pregnant, and though I still enjoy cooking and baking, it's not as easy or as appetizing as usual to eat my own food.  It was WONDERFUL to just pop them in the oven on Tuesday morning, without any of the prep or cleanup time.  THANK YOU!


I've had these kind of bran muffins before (I've seen them called 6-week bran muffins) and they are perfectly scrumptious.  You can add chopped apples and a dash of cinnamon if you need more sweetness, but they are so yummy and moist as they are. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cafe Rio Trio + Smothered Burritos

My aunt Kristie was the first to give me these "secret" recipes. Then Cori sent me the lime rice recipe. Several different versions seem to be making the rounds of the Internet. This cilantro lime dressing is so good that you could drink it like a shake.

I like to serve these fajita-style, with plenty of tortillas, stir-fried onions and bell peppers, refried or black beans, salsa, guacamole, and Monterey Jack cheese. Set it up assembly-line style and let everyone make their own fabulous burrito, fajita, or salad.

*(I rarely use as much brown sugar as the pork barbacoa calls for--3/4 cup is perfect).


Okay, but you're only half-done once you make these fabulous dishes, because unless you have a large crowd of people to feed (and this will feed a large crowd) you'll have lots of yummy leftovers.  My fabulous sis-in-law, Heather, introduced me to the beauty of a burrito reheated on a George Foreman Grill.  Maybe your lean, mean, fat-grilling machine has been collecting dust since you got it as a Christmas present in 1995, but I promise that making Cafe Rio smothered burritos is its true calling.  If you happened to have gotten rid of yours, you're going to want to order a new one ASAP . . . this is my very favorite appliance for quick and easy leftover lunch.

Smothered Cafe Rio Burritos
After you construct your own burrito how you like it (and I recommend using a large tortilla, which is easier to "fold" . . . corn tortillas tear easily, but I do use them from time to time--just zap them in the microwave for 10 seconds to make them more pliable), wrap it tightly and place it on the (clean, but not greased) grill on a low heat setting, close the upper grill, then let everything slowly heat up until your cheese is melty and gooey and your tortilla is crispy and golden.



Oh, yummy.  Smother with the cilantro lime dressing and you'll be jealous of yourself.  Like I am jealous of myself because of my new green dining room wall . . .

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Bundt Cake

I made this cake for the first time earlier this week.  It's a favorite recipe of my sister Bonnie, and every time she talked about it, my mouth started to water.

Pumpkiny baked goods always remind me of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but since there's STILL a foot of snow in my back yard, a Winter dessert didn't seem inappropriate for the end of March.  I justified making this dessert with the idea that I'd take some slices to the women I visit-teach . . . but I also ate half the cake myself.

Since it was my first time to bake this cake, I don't feel too bad that I under-greased my Bundt pan.  But that's the beauty of frosting--you are able to disguise your mistakes.



It was delectable.  You can wait for the holidays to roll around at the end of the year . . . or go ahead and bake a "trial cake" to make sure you'll like it come Thanksgiving.  I'm sure you will.
PS- I had about 3/4 cup of frosting leftover, and I was as liberal with it as I could be.  I think you'd be totally safe to halve the frosting recipe and just drizzle it on the upper half of the cake instead of the whole thing.