Friday, July 27, 2007

Pumpkin Pasties

Also from the Harry Potter Premiere Party, (yep, that's me above, as Hepzibah Smith) though the adults seemed to like them more than the kids. Though, in my son's case above, the expression is from the vomit-flavored Bertie Bott's Every-Flavor Bean he had just ingested, not the pastie.
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 lb canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 9-inch pie crusts
Mix eggs, sugar, spices, pumpkin and milk together and pre-bake in a greased casserole dish at 425 degrees for 15 minutes Reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Roll out pie crust and cut into 4-inch circles. Put a spoonful of pumpkin filling in the center, fold and press together. Cut slits in top crust. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Banana Casserole

Really sweet, a little goes a long way. Delicious hot with vanilla ice cream.
  • 6 bananas
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup pecans (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon brandy (optional)
Slice three bananas lengthwise, place in buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup butter slices. Top with half the raisins and pecans. Make a second layer with remaining ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with brandy, if desired.
I served this (teetotaler version) at a recent church supper and some of the ladies (Southern Baptist, no less!) suggested rum would be good it in.

Cuban Black Bean Soup

AKA Sopa de frijoles negros. A big hit at a recent church supper, served with rice underneath and Pork Adobo on top.
  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small can diced chiles or jalepenos
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 12 oz cooked ham (optional)
Soak beans overnight and rinse. Saute onions in butter in bottom of soup pot, then add beans, water, bouillon cube, bay leaves, oregano and salt. Bring to boil, cover and simmer until beans are tender, 60-90 minutes. Puree one cup of beans in blender, return to soup. Remove bay leaves, add ham and green pepper, then cook for 30 minutes more. Serve over rice.

Iced Brownies

My daughter won a blue ribbon at the Albemarle County Fair with this recipe when she was 7. Adapted from recipes in the old Betty Crocker's Boys and Girls Cookbook, my first cookbook as a child.
  • 4 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Melt chocolate and shortening in microwave. With wire whisk, beat in eggs and sugar. mix together last three ingredients, stir into chocolate mixture. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees in a greased square or rectangular brownie pan.

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon milk
Stir together until blended, add an extra tablespoon of milk if needed. Spread over brownies while they are still warm.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Orange Balls

My absolute favorite no-bake cookie. These are hugely popular whenever they are served and are elegant enough for fancy occasions. Fun to make with kids if you don't mind germs; it's hard to avoid licking your fingers when rolling. The recipe calls for rolling the balls in finely chopped nuts or flaked coconut; I don't care for either but have used vanilla wafer crumbs with great success. Just grind them fine, ideally in a food processor.
  • 12 oz. vanilla wafers, crushed into crumbs
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 6 oz concentrated orange juice
  • Finely chopped pecans, flaked coconut or vanilla wafer crumbs for rolling
Mix all ingredients together and chill slightly before shaping into balls and rolling in desired topping. Store in refrigerator.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pork Adobo

I've had a lot of fun experimenting with this recipe and have included a few variations below. It's good, but tends to taste very salty, so if you want to avoid that I'd suggest either using less soy sauce or salt or adding some slices potatoes or black beans to soak up the excess.

  • 1 1/2 pounds pork roast, cubed
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine everything in large pot or crock pot, soak at least 30 minutes. Cook at least one hour over medium heat until meat is tender, or slow-cook it all day in the crock pot. I like to shred the pork and serve it like barbecue over black beans and rice or in tortillas, but you can leave the meat chunky if you prefer.
Additions that are tasty and make it more stew-like:
  • 1 large minced onion
  • 1 chopped bell pepper
  • 1-2 cans black beans
  • several sliced red potatoes

Hot Crabmeat Dip

Another appetizer that impresses people with its elegance, but is simple to make. Imitation crab works fine, though real is, of course, better.
  • 8 oz canned or fresh crabmeat
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon horseradish, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients together, put in small casserole dish. If desired, top with paprika or silvered almonds. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until hot and slightly brown. Serve hot with crakers: I recommend Triscuits.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Hot...frothy...warms you from the inside...
I'm not sure Muggles have successfully duplicated Butterbeer as described by JK Rowling, but my son enjoyed this beverage at the recent Harry Potter 7 premiere party.

  • 8 oz cream soda
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch syrup
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter

Heat butter and syrup in microwave until hot and bubbly. Sir and cool for 30 seconds. Slowly pour in soda. Mixture will fizz. Serves 2.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cockroach Clusters

For Harry Potter Day, of course. I made a batch of these to take to my class on Friday, before I jump into the car to drive 8 hours to take my kids to the midnight premiere. I am nuts, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
  • 12 oz chocolatey bark coating
  • 3 cups chow mein noodles
Melt coating in microwave, add noodles and stir to coat. Put oval-ish tablespoonfuls on wax paper to harden. Makes about 30.

I also found a recipe for butterbeer: 1 part butterscotch schnapps to 7 parts cream soda. No idea if this is any good, as I'm not much of a schnapps drinker, and my school would probably frown on me serving up a batch to students. If I go to a certain Mother's Reunion in the fall, maybe I'll let you know.

Grahammy Bars

I agreed tonight to teach two quarters of children's Sunday School next year, which reminded me of this recipe. One of the easiest to do in a group setting, even with preschoolers.
  • 2 1/2 packs graham crackers*
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 package chocolate chips
  • 1 cup nuts (optional, I usually skip these, especially with kids)
Crush graham crackers into crumbs.** Dump crumbs into bowl, add chocolate chips. Pour in sweetened condensed milk, stick until coated. Press mixture into greased 13 X 9 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. While bars are baking, remove cotton from ears and hose down any sticky children who helped you. Remove from oven and cut while bars are still warm.

*By "packs" I mean the wax-paper bundles that come in the box, usually 11 crackers. Total number of cracker used should be about 28, full-sized, or slightly over half a box.
**Here's where the kids have fun; put the crackers in a Ziploc bag, give them a rolling pin and let them go at it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mexican Turkey Bake

Anyone remember the "Flaming Turkey Wings" Pizza Hut commercial from the late 1980's? It came out at holiday time, and showed a man sitting at the dinner table. Plates were placed in front of him as a version of "Twelve Days of Christmas" blares in the background:

On the first day after Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Leftover tur-ur-ur-key!
On the second day after Christmas, my true love gave to me...
Turkey casserole made from leftover tur-ur-ur-key!

Cut then to the announcer reminding the folks how good something different would taste, and suggesting they come immediately to Pizza Hut, where there would be no leftover turkey. Cut back to the increasingly-sick-looking guy contemplating another platter, containing (instead of Five Golden Rings)

Flaming Turkey Wings!
All this is a roundabout way of introducing this recipe, which is a great use for leftover turkey, but whose taste is sufficiently different you don't feel like you're eating another round of leftovers.

  • 1 box Uncle Ben's Long Grain Rice

  • 1 can enchilada sauce

  • 1 can corn with sweet peppers

  • 1 small can diced chiles

  • 3 cups diced turkey

  • Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

  • Sour cream (optional)
Prepare rice according to directions. mix rice, corn, sauce, chiles, and turkey together, spoon into large greased casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 3o-45 minutes or until hot. If desired, sprinkle with cheese for last 5 minutes. Serve with sour cream.
Sorry if this cuts into your post-holiday business, Pizza Hut. Once we had a friend visit for Thanksgiving; he made omelets out of the leftover casserole that were also delicious. Ah, the joys of recycling!

Pickle Medallions

An incredibly easy but unusual appetizer that impresses the heck out of people for very little effort. I have served these at everything from church picnics to wedding receptions and people always love them. The secret is to use a crisp, refrigerated brand of pickles (like Claussen) and to chill the wrapped pickles overnight before cutting.
  • 1 jar whole pickles
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 packages thin sliced sandwich beef
Dry pickles with paper towel. With knife, spread a thin layer of cream cheese down one side of pickle. Cover with a single slice of beef. Continue until whole pickle is covered in cream cheese and wrapped in beef like a pig in a blanket. If the beef slice doesn't go all the way around, use a second one. It's fine if beef slices overlap as long as it's "glued" on with the cream cheese. Continue coating and wrapping pickles until all are done. Put on plate, cover with plastic and chill several hours or overnight.
To serve, cut the ends off the pickles and discard (or eat!). Slice the remaining pickles in crosswise sections, about 1/4 inch thick. They should look like bullseyes, with pickle in the center, a circle of cream cheese, then an outer rim of beef. Place on serving plate and serve with toothpicks. Don't worry about leftovers; there won't be any!

Lemon Marinated Flank Steak

A flavorful but low-calorie marinade great for grilling beef, outside or on the George Forman. Also good for boneless chicken breasts.
  • 1/2 onion, minced, or 4-5 green onions
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Mix all ingredients and shake. Pour over meat and marinate several hours or overnight. Grill meat until desired doneness. If you like, you can saute the onions in a little olive oil and serve with the meat.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Betty Crocker New Cake Decorating Cookbook

Not a recipe this time, but a book recommendation. The Betty Crocker New Cake Decorating Book was an impulse buy for me at Barnes and Noble when my daughter was a baby. Over the past 11 years it's been one of my most consulted volumes. I love the fact that you don't need special pans or icing pipers to make these cakes. Most of the decorations are made with common cookies and candies. I use this book at almost every one of my kids' birthdays and on numerous other occasions. I haven't made a lot of the recipes; the mix cakes work fine for these. Follow the recommendations about freezing the cake before you cut it and using thin icing on the cut edges to prevent crumbs. You'll be amazed and impress a lot of people.
Some cakes I have made:
Fish cake

Monkey cake

Bunny cake

I've also done pandas, snowmen, fire trucks, school busses, cat, rainbow, dinosaur, sailboat, Christmas tree, rocket ship and skate! Have Fun!

Easy Blackberry Cobbler

We picked fresh blackberries on our recent vacation in Big Canoe, GA and my children (10 and 7) were able to prepare this almost entirely on their own. Delicious with vanilla ice cream.
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 3 cups fresh blackberries
Melt butter in casserole dish. Mix everything except berries and pour over butter. Pour berries over batter. Don't stir. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Mocha Truffle Torte

A third-place winner in the Hershey Bake-off of the 2006 Albemarle County Fair. I could have competed in the State Fair if I had had time to go!

Cake base:
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee
  • 6 oz semi- or bittersweet chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa
  • 4 eggs
Combine all ingredients except eggs; heat in microwave 2 minutes until melted. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in eggs. Pour in springform pan that is lined in buttered foil and dusted with flour. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes. Cool, remove from pan and place upright on cake plate.

Mousse filling:
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup hot coffee
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 stick soft better
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Pour coffee over chocolate chips, process in blender. Add egg yolks and vanilla, then butter, beating well. In large bowl, beat whipping cream until stiff. Gradually fold in chocolate mixture. Freeze mousse in a bowl lined with plastic wrap

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons coffee
  • dash of salt
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
Mix first 4 ingredients, microwave until boiling. Stir in chocolate chips, stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

To prepare cake, invert frozen mousse on top of cake base, peel off plastic wrap. Pour glaze slowly over mousse and cake, covering mousse completely and allowing excess glaze to drip down sides of cake. Store cake in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Pizza Chicken Italiano

One of my most frequently prepared dishes. I classify this in the Really Useful and Great for Kids categories. I making this frequently when I take meals to families at a time of death, illness, birth of a baby, etc. Kids who dislike the usual casserole-type dishes often love this! It's easy, and, if you're like me and get the big bag of frozen chicken breasts from Sam's, you usually have all the ingredients on hand.
  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 onion, minced (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1.5 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4-6 slices mozzarella cheese
Place chicken in lightly greased casserole dish. Combine sauce with all ingredients except cheese, pour over chicken. Top with cheese slices. Bake at 425 degrees for 35 minutes.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

First Post Test

Trying out the new blog. Recipes and other food-related writings to come!