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Tastes Like More

Cinnamon and Sugar.

Apples.

Vanilla Ice Cream.

Oh, what to make of this.

Apple Crisp.

All it takes are some apples, cored and sliced. A pinch of salt, some flour, sugar and some butter. And, time to bake. Simple.

One of the first desserts I made when I was a kid. One my Mom encouraged me to try making.

Now, it is one of my husband, Jeff’s favorite – especially if there is vanilla ice cream in the freezer or he can make a quick trip to the grocery store to get some.

Me… I like the simplicity. The smell of cinnamon as it bakes. The steam coming up from a serving spooned into a bowl and the melting of that delicious vanilla ice cream as it hugs the apples while it melts.

And, Oh, the taste…. as my Mom would say, “Tastes like more.” Jeff agrees.

Apple Crisp, fresh out of the oven.

Apple Crisp, fresh out of the oven.

Warm Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream

Warm Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream

A healthy, yet cheesy idea.

The other day while shopping for groceries, I had the idea to bake some vegetables with some cheese, similar to a casserole yet sans noodles. I knew what characters I’d cast, just not the exact script for this dish.

I googled broccoli casserole. Among several recipes, I found one that matched my idea of what I had in mind to do – put me on the right path. Broccoli Cheese Casserole from ‘add a pinch.com’, I simply used this recipe as a guide. I made it for our lunch today. Warm, cheesy goodness and healthy too.

In addition to the broccoli, I chopped and sauteed onion, celery, carrots and near the end added some chopped kale. I seasoned the veggies to our taste – a small amount of red chili flakes, salt and pepper. I let the saute rest on low heat while I made the cheese sauce according to the recipe (yummy). Then I spooned a layer of veggies in my pan, then a a layer of shredded cheese and the rest of the veggies. Now, for the cheese sauce. I topped it off with another layer of shredded cheese and some crushed buttery crackers.

I baked the casserole at 350 for 40 minutes. Makes a great side dish or a light meal.
And…. I just thought about another ingredient…. BACON… yes, this would be good with bacon. 🙂

sauteed veggies: broccoli, onions, carrots and celery. kale was added just before

sauteed veggies: broccoli, onions, carrots and celery. kale was added just before layering the casserole

making the cheese sauce

making the cheese sauce

ready to chop the fresh kale and add to the other veggies

ready to chop the fresh kale and add to the other veggies

first layer of veggies and cheese

first layer of veggies and cheese

behold... the cheese sauce

behold… the cheese sauce

top with more shredded cheese

top with more shredded cheese

cracker crumbs for a crunchy top

cracker crumbs for a crunchy top

turned out better than I had imagined... look at the bubbly cheesy goodness surrounding the healthy veggies

turned out better than I had imagined… look at the bubbly cheesy goodness surrounding the healthy veggies

Breakfast Experiment

My husband considers himself lucky…. some may consider him tortured.
To be subjected to my cooking experiments…. poor man.

I ‘dreamed up’ another recipe that I thought I’d try. I bet there are recipes like this somewhere out there on the internet, in some great cook’s blog; after all… that is how I learned of Baked Oatmeal. Here I had thought I had ‘dreamed it up’ and yet I found it later that morning in a blog.

This recipe is a cross between baked oatmeal and apple pie… sans sugar.
I don’t have a name for it just yet, may never. But here goes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place purchased pie shell on counter to warm up, to become flexible.
OR… make your own pie shell from your favorite recipe.
Place all ingredients as they come in a medium-sized mixing bowl – keep in mind, I made this up as I went.
2 medium apples – peeled, cored, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts – toasted and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup whole grain old fashioned oats
1 egg – beaten
1/2 cup milk – or cream or soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pinch sea salt – freshly ground
Stir well — let set for five minutes while you prep pie shell in your favorite pie pan
Add
1/2 cup blueberries – fresh or frozen
1/4 cup oat flour
Stir gently to combine
Place one half of the mixture in prepared pie shell
Dot with 1/2 tablespoon butter – not margarine – butter
Place the other half of the mixture on top
Dot with another 1/2 tablespoon of butter.

Fold up and in the sides of the pie shell for that rustic look.
Brush folds with milk and sprinkle on a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, amount to your liking. 
Keep in mind there is NO sugar in this recipe, merely the natural sugars of the apple and blueberries and the sweet spices.

Granted I have been trying to cut down on sugar, but truth be told, I actually FORGOT to add any. We’ll see how it turns out.

Bake. 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
Crust will be golden brown when done and you’ll hear bubbling coming from the filling. Apples will still have structure and not be mushed. (in other words… apples could be done a little more… depends on what you like)

This was an experiment and I may need to adjust it for another Sunday breakfast… but for now, We Eat!

two apples chopped

two apples chopped

toasted walnuts chopped

toasted walnuts chopped

add sweet spices

add sweet spices

add whole oats

add whole oats

add beaten egg and milk

add beaten egg and milk

stir to combine

stir to combine

add oat flour

add oat flour

place mixture in shell, dot with butter

place mixture in shell, dot with butter

fold in crust and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar

fold in crust and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar

bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes

bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes

cool

cool

get ready to enjoy

get ready to enjoy

Okay… we ate it… and lived…. Yes, it would have been better with a little bit of sugar… maybe even a bit more moisture… but it was pretty good and it looked great. Was good enough for Jeff to have seconds…. yet, he could have merely been starving. Hold the phone… he just admitted he had thirds… that’s what I get for blogging while he does the dishes.  🙂

I tried to create something healthy. It is somewhat healthy without the added sugar, the fiber of the apples and blueberries, the nuts and the oats – the omega3s of the walnuts and the benefits of the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger are added bonuses. Next time, I may simply add more blueberries as they added the sweetness we wanted. I had also previously thought about cubing up some cheese to bake in it…. maybe we can add some cheese to it as we warm it up… but next time for sure (unless I forget).

a slice for Jeff

a slice for Jeff

the results

the results

a slice for me

a slice for me

Fruitcake, how could I forget?

Yes, how could I forget fruitcake? Believe me, I’ve tried!!!!

I don’t like fruitcake. Yet, I’ve made it once. Only once. That was only because Mom was battling leukemia and could not make it herself. She had made it for years, her mom’s recipe. Mom made fruitcake for Dad and my brothers, then later, my young niece. How this beautiful little tomboy could like fruitcake, I will never know. Maybe it was time spent with her “Grammy” to make the fruitcake.

Amazingly, all these family members actually LIKE fruitcake! Amazing. How could they?

Yes, even though I don’t like fruitcake, at all, I made it. Just that one time!

I made the fruitcake that year with my young niece…. out of love. Love for my Mom. Love for my niece. Love for my Dad and brothers. But, I mostly made it for Mom…. she would have made it herself if she were able. She was simply too weak at the time and, with her illness, should not be working in the kitchen regardless.

Mom’s fruitcake, using Grandma Booth’s recipe, uses a LOT of ingredients. And, it takes a LOT of time. Well, a LOT of time for a first-time fruitcake maker and her young seasoned apprentice. Even though Mom was sitting at the dining room table watching the ordeal and giving us instructions and encouragement, Natalie and I struggled to make the fruitcake (a double batch, all at once). It seemed like it took us forever.

After quite a time of adding ingredients and stirring, again and again, I exclaimed, “Making fruitcake takes a long time. This is EXCRUCIATING!”

Mom quietly said, “Think how it looks from my viewpoint.”
“I could have done this in far less than half the time.”

Thankfully, Mom was a patient teacher and we all laughed.

I will never forget that time making Mom’s fruitcake with my niece for our family. And, while I still don’t like fruitcake, at all, I LOVE that fruitcake-making memory.

Christmas Cookies – traditions old and new

I remember Mom LOVED Christmas time.

Her family would gather. She could once again treat them to traditional holiday enjoyment.

Besides the Christmas decorations, a holiday dinner on Christmas Eve, a family drive to look at Christmas lights before returning home to exchange gifts, Mom would make sure her family had some traditional Christmas treats.

Among the treats, Cookies. Christmas Cookies!!!

Mom taught me how to make sugar cookies.

Green Christmas Tree Sugar Cookie

Green Christmas Tree Sugar Cookie

Christmas Trees like Mom used to make.

Christmas Trees like Mom used to make.

Sugar cookies are a favorite Christmas cookie tradition. So are my Grandma Booth’s Swedish Jelly Cookies. I did not have the recipe handy, but I did locate one online. Ahhh, technology. 🙂

Grandma Booth's Swedish Jelly Cookies

Grandma Booth’s Swedish Jelly Cookies

While using my laptop, looking for the Swedish Jelly Cookie recipe, I also spied what just may become a tradition of mine to add to the mix. Cocoa Coffee Crinkles. Okay, they had me at “Cocoa”, so I thought they’d be worth a try and I was oh-so-right. YUM….Decadence! Dark chocolate, coffee and cinnamon in an easy to make cookie. This recipe called for some instant coffee, not having any I used some fresh finely ground coffee instead. Perfect.

Cocoa Coffee Crinkles

Cocoa Coffee Crinkles, a possible added tradition

 

Recipes I found online.

Sugar Cookies
I added a bit more Vanilla Extract (1/2 tsp) and a teaspoon of Almond Extract.
Also, I did not level the teaspoons of Baking Powder, but they weren’t super heaping either. … so actually just a bit more Baking Powder. And I added Green Food Coloring until the dough was the green I thought it should be. Be sure to refrigerate the dough. When you roll out the dough to cut the shapes, be sure to work with a small amount of dough, placing the rest of the dough back in the refrigerator. Roll out and Repeat. Bake for 6 minutes at the temperature given, Cool, Frost and EAT.

Swedish Jelly Cookies

Cocoa Coffee Crinkles

Remembering Aunt Shirley

On a warm morning in July, the call came. My cousin, Delbert, had called to let us know his mom had passed away.

Like with other families and extended families dealing with the uncertainty of Alzheimer’s disease, we knew this day would come. Aunt Shirley had battled dementia and Alzheimer’s. Now, her battle over, she was free. Free of the ravages of Alzheimer’s; how it stole her memory and how it stole Shirley away from her family.

A celebration honoring Shirley’s life was to be held on a Saturday in August. Followed by a luncheon.

While making plans to attend the memorial service I thought of the many times our families had been together. Great family times, with a great family. Warm, friendly, FUN, humorous and supportive. Love encircled each of us. The vast amount of love came from Aunt Shirley and Mom. Sure our respective dads loved us…. but love was in everything these women did…. the hugs, smiles, cooking, laughs and discipline. All of it let us kids know we were deeply loved and oh-so-cared for.

Whenever we had the chance to get together with their family there was great anticipation of seeing our “cousins” again. “Cousins” because actually our dads were the cousins. Considering that we were second and third cousins, however this technically works out, we were family. We had no other relatives in our area so when this family moved within 50 miles of us we were elated. We had COUSINS nearby.

Remembering all the fun times we had when our families were together and the wonderful food our moms fixed for us compelled me to make something to take to the luncheon. I instantly knew what I would take. A cake…. but oh, not just any cake. “Cheap Cake.” Some recipes call it “Economical Cake,” “Wacky Cake,” “Crazy Cake,” or “Depression Cake.” In our collective family it was called “Cheap Cake” because is was economical and “cheap” was faster to say. 🙂

I made a “Cheap Cake” using the same recipe that Mom had gotten from Aunt Shirley. I had never had that wonderfully dark chocolate cake before knowing Aunt Shirley. Now, I can never see a recipe for it, mix one up and bake it, or eat a decadent slice of it without thinking of her. She and Mom put together some fabulous meals for our families. And trust me, each of us loved to eat. A total of six growing boys and me, along with our dads and themselves to feed, those two women were busy.

Thankfully, they were great cooks too.

Just as they were great cooks, they were even better Moms.

Moms who loved their children with all their heart and soul. Each of them happy, strong, intelligent women. They wanted good things for their children and expected good from them in return. We knew we were loved.

Each time I make or eat a slice of “Cheap Cake” I will always remember Aunt Shirley. Her love for her family and her love of life.

Thank you and rest well, Aunt Shirley.

Recipe for “Cheap Cake”

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Apple Tart

Much like her mom, Mom could watch someone create an epicurean delight and then recreate it …. nearly the same, if not better. I know, I watched her do it many times.

A few weeks ago, I once again followed in Mom’s footsteps. I had seen an apple tart being created on the Food Network. How easy the presenter made  it look. I knew I could make it, so I quickly wrote down the ingredients and made a note of the baking temperature and time.

Apple Tart

preheat oven to 400 degrees
one pre-made puff pasty — thawed and placed on a parchment covered baking sheet
cinnamon, lightly sprinkled over puff pastry
two or three tart apples of your choice, depending on the size, peeled and thinly sliced, placed on the tart
a couple tablespoons of sugar sprinkled over the apples — adjust to your taste
another light sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired
two tablespoons butter cut into small cubes and dotted over the apples

bake in your preheated 400 degree oven for 40 minutes…. until apples are tender and pastry is golden brown

near the end of the baking time, spoon some apricot preserves into a sauce pan (about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup), add a bit of water to thin, cook over a medium-low heat until bubbly

at the end of the cooking time, remove the tart from the oven and brush on the heated apricot preserves

cool a bit – slice – serve – enjoy

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