Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Chicken Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Crust

Chicken Pie with Sweet Potato Crust
As a new homemaker, I wanted to have my own personal recipes, things my family came to know as one of my dishes.  Even though I'd been cooking for about 12 years, I hadn't really grown comfortable in the kitchen...and with good reason.  No matter how well I could cook the kitchen where I practiced and made family meals was Mama's kitchen.  Not at all the same as having a kitchen all your own.
What I carried away from my childhood home was an ability to prepare a pretty good meal...and my favorite cookbook, The Culinary Arts Institute Encylopedic Cookbook circa 1959 by Ruth Berolzheimer.  Oh how I pored over that cookbook, determined to not only learn to make recipes no one in my family made, but also to learn all I could about cooking, about making economical dishes and creating my own sense of home through my kitchen, because that is what we do you know.  We create home with every dish we set before our family!
I still recall the autumn day I found this recipe: impossibly blue skies, the old oaks in our yard standing proud and tall with burnished bronze leaves, the smell of wood smoke and decaying leaves and cold in the air.  And inside the aroma of Chicken Pie in my oven.  Oh MY!
I didn't date recipes then, but I did make one notation: GOOD!  That says it all, doesn't it?

Chicken Pie with Sweet Potato Crust
3 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup diced cooked carrots
6 small cooked white onions (or about 1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion)
1 tbsp parsley
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsps flour
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Arrange chicken, carrots, onions and parsley in layers in casserole.  Combine milk and stock.  Add slowly to flour, blending well.  Cook until thickened, stirring constantly.  Season with salt and pepper and pour over the chicken and vegetables.  Cover with Sweet Potato Crust.  Bake in 350F oven about 40 minutes.  Serves 6-8.

Sweet Potato Crust
1 cup sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cold mashed sweet potato
1/3 cup melted butter
1 egg, well beaten
Sift dry ingredients.  Work in mashed potato, butter and egg.  Roll 1/4 inch thick and cover chicken pie.

Pumpkin Donut Muffins

Pumpkin Donut Muffins

The above photo should be properly credited to the website where I found this awesome recipe:

Pumpkin Donut Muffins

10 Tbsp butter, room temp
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/3 cup butter milk (or 1/3 cup milk + tsp lemon juice)
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
For the sugar coating:
1 c. granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini muffin pans with cooking spray OR butter and flour pans.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and allspice in one bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together pumpkin and butter milk with electric mixer. In a third bowl whip brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. With the mixer on low begin to add in flour and pumpkin mixtures alternating. Add the flour in three additions and the pumpkin in two additions. Beat to combine.
Spoon batter into mini muffin pans and bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean (about 15 minutes). Allow muffins to cool slightly. Combine sugar and cinnamon for coating. Brush each muffin with melted butter and then toss in cinnamon sugar mixture. ( I combined my cinnamon and sugar in a gallon sized resealable bag so that I could toss in a few muffins and shake the coating onto them).  Place muffins on wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

** my notes:  I changed only a few things.  I made just 1/2 recipe.  I didn't have buttermilk or lemon so I used 2 tbsps yogurt and 3 tbsps milk (for the half amount) and I added a good splosh of vanilla because vanilla is just good in so many things!  I made mine in regular muffin tins, not mini tins, and I guess I baked them about 25-30 minutes, checking with a skewer for doneness.  I followed her advice and only sugar coated the ones I ate for breakfast but oh good heavens!  This is a good recipe!
And by all means go check out the website.  She has a lot of recipes and reviews and such that are good reading.

Stovetop Cookies

Stovetop Cookies

This cookie has been a favorite of mine and Chance's since childhood.  It was always considered a treat and always appeared at Christmas.  This past week I found 1 pound boxes of oatmeal for $.50 each.  And since our cookies seemed to disappear so rapidly with guests and gift boxes, I thought I'd make a batch for us to enjoy ourselves.
I have prepared this recipe with half Splenda/half sugar with some success.  A Weight Watchers version cut the sugar to just 1/4 cup and  halved the rest of the ingredients.  I've tried both versions but prefer the traditional cookie over them all.   I have also prepared the recipe using old fashioned oats.  The texture is chewier and different.  Again, I prefer the original recipe as written.
Stovetop Cookies
stove top cookies 001

stove top cookies 002

stove top cookies 005

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 stick butter
4 tbsp.  cocoa
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups quick oats
Lay parchment or waxed paper sheets on counter.  Mix first six ingredients and bring to boil over medium low heat. Time once the mixture begins to bubble.  Boil, stirring frequently, for at least 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add oatmeal.  Stir together quickly.  Drop mixture by the teaspoonful onto the paper.  Allow to cool and set up.

Ham and Cheese Sliders

Ham and Cheese Sliders A few years ago I joined a yahoo group run by Mrs. Catherine. The group was for homemakers who wanted to approach their home in a Christian and simpler way. It was an awesome group, full of inspiring women, some of whom worked outside the home, some who homeschooled, some who were empty nesters. All brought something to the table. She and her husband had begun publishing a print magazine for homemakers. It was a beautifully compiled magazine, printed on good quality, sturdy paper that will last for generations to come. I was privileged to be asked to write for the magazine while it was in publication. The group and the magazine are now defunct, but I took away a great deal from my time with that wonderful group of ladies. And one of the things I took was a recipe from a girl named Margie.
I can't get Margie's full name, because I don't think I ever knew it. I just knew her as Margie. She shared her recipe for a marinated ham sandwich on the group. I jotted the recipe down on a piece of scratch paper and then lost it. But I remembered enough of the ingredients to pretty much replicate her recipe.
It was an instant hit with my family and we periodically make up batches of these delicious sandwiches and freeze them. In school year, Kay will eat one of these as an afternoon snack. It's just the right amount of carb/protein to hold her hunger at bay until dinner time.
I've changed the name to Sliders because these sandwiches use those same smaller bun size dinner rolls. There have been a few changes to the original recipe, but the flavor is terrific all the same.
Ham and Cheese Sliders 1 24ct packet bun sized dinner rolls
24 slices ham
24 slices Swiss cheese (I have bought block Swiss and grated it or sliced it myself. It costs much less that way
1/4 cup butter
2 tbsps Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup mustard (I like to use a whole grain mustard best, but cheap old yellow tastes good too)
1 tbsp poppy seed
1/4 cup finely minced onion
Split buns. Melt butter and mix remaining spices and seasonings in pan. Cook until mixture bubbles and onion is just tender. Spread on both sides of buns. Add cheese and ham to sandwich buns, then wrap individually in foil and freeze for later use or bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.
**The marinade is also good on roast beef sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs. Spread on buns and toast lightly, then add meat.
11-29-10  Now that we no longer eat ham I've found that sliced turkey works just as well in these tasty sandwiches.  They were a huge hit with a group of folks at synagogue one night.  I'd made two dozen of them and in about three minutes they were all gone!

Leftover Makeover: Rice Pudding

Penny Leftover Makeover- Rice Pudding

Rice Pudding

4 cups leftover cooked rice(brown or white)
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk(buy skim if desired)
1 14 oz. can skim milk(use condensed milk can to measure)
1/2 cup raisins, plumped in hot water and drained
3 eggs yolks, beaten
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In large saucepan, heat rice, milks, and raisins over medium heat.
Stir frequently to prevent sticking. When heated add the beaten
yolks and stir constantly until thoroughly hot and slightly
thickened. Remove from heat, add flavorings, and
allow to stand. Serve warm, or chill and serve with whipped cream.

As a variation, I will omit raisins and nutmeg and add lemon zest.
The pudding will thicken upon standing.

I love the flavors of this cake, rather similar to a fruit cake
flavor. This is one that I served at all our Christmas dinners.
You'll find the family enjoys this cake far better than any
fruitcake however! I found the recipe in an old Betty Crocker

Sugar Cookies with Variations

Sugar Cookies and Variations

The original sugar cookie recipe is from BH&G cookbook.  I find it an easy to work with dough.  Why purchase sugar cookie dough to make variations when you've a perfectly good dough recipe of your own?  That was my theory so I took the recipe, tripled it and used it to make two more favorite cookies...This is a great all purpose sugar cookie dough.

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour, all purpose
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Mix thoroughly shortening, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Blend in flour,
baking powder and salt. Cover; chill at least 1 hour

Heat oven to 375F. Roll dough 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured
cloth-covered board. Cut into desired shapes. Place on ungreased
baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until very light brown.

One third becomes sugar cookies. These my daughter and niece will
cut out and decorate with sprinkles.

Snickerdoodles: One third is rolled into 1 inch balls and the balls
are rolled in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Bake 10-12 minutes at

Thumbprints: The last third is also rolled into 1 inch balls. The
balls are rolled into pre-sweetened shredded coconut. Once the balls
are placed on the cookie sheet, gently depress the center with your
thumb. Fill with 1/4 tsp. strawberry preserves. Bake 10-12 minutes,
at 350F, or until coconut is golden.

Braised Short Ribs of Beef

Braised Short Ribs of Beef
2 1/2 to 3 pounds of lean beef short ribs
2 whole onions diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 large carrots diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
salt and pepper
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 can of chicken or beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine(I substitute a 1/2 cup of water and 2 tbsp of
red wine vinegar)

Brown the short ribs in a dutch oven, in hot oil, on all sides.  Remove and set aside. Add vegetables and allow onions to cook to translucent stage, about 10 minutes.  Add seasonings and liquids and
deglaze pan. Add ribs and cherries. Braise for 2 1/2 hours in oven at 350F, or cook in crockpot for 6 hours on low heat.

Serve with chunky smashed potatoes, a hearty bread and green salad.  Honesty time:  Katie and I loved this dish on a bitter cold day.  I'd serve the ribs and broth over a bowl of mashed potatoes and skip the salad and bread.  We both still serve it the same all these years later.  She made this in February this year for my birthday and served it just the same. 

Short ribs can be quite pricey these days. I watch for markdowns on them, then buy at clearance prices.  I think a good cheap chuck roast would taste as well as the short ribs, but buy a bone-in cut if you can.  Beef shanks or oxtail are also a good choice, substitutes I have used when I found them on sale and short ribs were too dear.

Another substitute I make at times, is to use dried cranberries, especially when dried cherries are hard to find at Aldi.

Pineapple Cobbler

A sharp cheddar is best with this and yes, it's absolutely necessary to the recipe.  The savory crust is especially nice with the sweet pineapple.

Pineapple Cobbler 2 cups fresh pineapple cubes
2 tbsps brown sugar
1 cup sharp grated cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/4 cups flour, self-rising
2 tbsps sugar
1 cup milk
Place pineapple and brown sugar in bottom of casserole dish.
Cut shortening into the flour/sugar.  Add 3/4 cup cheese and mix until cheese is coated with flour, then add milk.  Dough should be pourable but thick.  If necessary add more milk or flour depending upon humidity levels.  Pour over pineapple and bake at 375 for about 40 minutes.

Pico de Gallo / Fresh Salsa

Kay's Salsa 2 cups chopped tomatoes (we like Roma)                                          
2 jalapeno, seeded and deveined, finely minced
4 tsps minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
juice of 2 limes
1/4 - 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
Mix and place in airtight covered container in fridge at least overnight.  Salt and pepper to taste if you'd like.

Blueberry Coffeecake

Blueberry Coffeecake

I wanted to make muffins one morning and set right to work before 7am.  But I'd forgotten an important fact: I need a new muffin tin.  I have only one six cup muffin tin and I didn't want to spend the morning baking muffins in batches.  So I greased a round cake pan, poured in the remaining batter and added frozen blueberries to it.  Then I made up a quick batch of streusel topping and crumbled it across the top.  I baked the coffee cake right alongside the muffins. 
I can tell you the muffins were absolutely delicious, and curiosity demanded I sample a tiny piece of the coffeecake as well.  I'll share my 'made up' recipe with you.
Penny's Blueberry Muffin Coffeecake
1/3 cup bran flakes, crushed
1/3 cup buckwheat flour
2/3 cup oatmeal
1 cup unbleached self-rising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup Splenda brown sugar
1 cup blueberries (I used frozen)
1 egg
1 1/3 cups milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
Mix all ingredients until just moistened.  Allow to stand for five minutes.  The buckwheat flour will slightly thicken the batter during that rest period.  Line a six cup muffin tin and fill the liners with batter.  Set aside.  Grease a 9 inch round cake tin with shortening.  Pour in remaining batter.  Sprinkle with streusel topping.   Bake muffins and coffee cake at 400F for 25 minutes or until cake springs bake when touched in center.
Streusel Topping
1/3 cup Splenda brown sugar(not packed)
1/3 cup flour
3 tbsps butter
Cut butter into sugar and flour until crumbly in texture.  Crumble across the top of the coffee cake (and muffins too if you'd like) being careful to not let streusel touch sides of cake tin.

Harvest Slaw

Harvest Slaw 1 package shredded cabbage and carrots
1 apple, diced (Gala works well with it's sweet tart flavor)
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced
Mix mayo, sweetener and lemon juice well.  Mix with slaw and apple.  Refrigerate.  Add nuts just before serving and mix well.
This recipe is also good made with packaged broccoli slaw.  You could add dark raisins.  I was disappointed to discover I was out of them.


Cornbread 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/4 cup olive oil, bacon grease or shortening
1 1/2 to 2 cups sweet milk or buttermilk
1 egg
Pour fat into cast iron skillet.  Place in 425F oven to heat through. In a large bowl, mix cornmeal, egg and milk.  If using buttermilk, you'll probably need the larger amount.  Remove hot pan from oven and pour hot grease into cornmeal batter and mix well.  Pour into hot skillet and return to oven.  Bake 20-25 minutes.

Millonaire's Pie

Millionaire's Pie 1 2/3 cup plain flour
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans
Mix flour, butter and nuts until well blended.  Pat into bottom of 9 x 13 pan.  Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside to cool thoroughly.
Top cooled crust with the following mixture:
1 8 ounce pkg cream cheese
1 8 ounce container of whipped topping
1 cup confectioner's sugar
Spread evenly.
Mix the following:
 3 cups milk
1  3 ounce pkg instant vanilla pudding
1  3 ounce pkg instant chocolate pudding
Spread evenly over cream cheese layer.
Top all with 1 12 ounce container of whipped topping.  Garnish with sifted cocoa powder or grated chocolate.  Refrigerate.  Slice into squares to serve.

Ellie Krieger's Carrot Cake

Healthier Carrot Cake 1 1/2 cups shredded carrot
1/4 cup toasted walnuts(optional)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup packed Splenda brown sugar
2 medium eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup pastry whole wheat flour
1/2 cup All purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp each salt and nutmeg
Cream oil, applesauce, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Mix flours with seasonings.  Slowly add to creamed mixture.  Add carrots and nuts and stir gently.  Pour into a  greased and floured 7 X 11 pan.
Bake about 20-25 minutes at 350°F. 
Cream Cheese Frosting
6 ounces room temp cream cheese
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1/3 cup Splenda
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
Beat cream cheese until light.  Add sugars, zest and juice.  Gently whip until all is mixed.  Spread on slightly warm cake.  Top with chopped toasted nuts if desired.

Killer Brownies

Killer Brownies 1 stick plus 5 tbsp butter (13 tablespoons)
1 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar (or 1 cup each of sugar and Splenda)
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
*4 tbsps sour cream*
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup unbleached self rising flour (or 1/2 cup self rising flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 tsp baking powder).
Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a 9X13 baking pan.  Mix all ingredients until just blended.  Do not over mix.  Spread in pan and bake about 20 minutes or until sides have just begun to pull away from the pan.  Center should spring back when lightly touched.  Cool slightly then cut into squares. 
My family never quite managed to wait until the brownies were cool.  We've always cut the squares and immediately eaten one each with a cold glass of milk. 
This recipe divides in half easily and may be baked in a 7x11 pan or 9 inch square pan.  These brownies freeze very well.
*As a later note, the sour cream considerably reduces the dryness Splenda causes in the brownie.  I hit upon this addition quite as an accident a full two years after I published this entry.  And yes, I never stop experimenting with recipes.

Squash Casserole

Squash Casserole 7 or 8 yellow squash, medium sized
1/2 large onion
salt and pepper
1 egg
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 ozs. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 roll buttery crackers
Slice squash and place with onion in covered pan.  Steam over low heat  ( I don't add water but let the natural water content do the steaming) until vegetables are tender.  Pour into colander to drain.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Now add 1 egg, 1/2 cup mayonnaise and 3 ozs. shredded cheddar cheese.  Mix well and top with 1 ounce shredded cheddar.  Top with 1 roll crushed butter flavored crackers.  Bake at 350F for 30 minutes until top is golden.  May be frozen unbaked or baked.

Apple Brown Betty

Apple Brown Betty 3 cups sliced apples (I don't pare them)
1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup water, hot or cold
Mix apples, 1 cup bread crumbs, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Place in buttered baking dish and pour water over top.  Top with remaining crumbs and pour melted butter over top.  Bake at 350°F  30-45 minutes.  (I test for tenderness with a fork after about 40 minutes).  Serve hot or cold with hard sauce or scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Serves 6.
Hard Sauce
1/3 cup butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cream
Cream butter.  Beat in sugar gradually until fluffy.  Add flavoring and cream.  Chill until firm (hence the term 'hard' sauce).

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

Hot Cocoa Mix: 7 cups powdered milk
1 cup cocoa
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 small jar powdered coffee creamer
Mix well and store in covered container.  Use 1/3 cup mix to mug of hot water.

Chicken Burritos

Chicken Burritos with Sauce
1/2 onion, diced
1 small jalapeno, finely minced
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup each red and orange bell pepper, diced
2 tsps olive oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
8 whole wheat tortillas
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
8 slices Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 can condensed mushroom soup mixed with 1/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Cook vegetables over medium heat in oil.  Add cumin and mix well.  Divide chicken between tortillas.  Add a cheese slice to each  and then top with 2 tbsps of vegetable mix.  Roll tightly and place in casserole.  Spread a little of the soup over top of each burrito, top with shredded cheese.  Bake at 350F until hot, about 25-30 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Cuban Bread

 From The Cheapskate Gazette

Cuban Bread 5-6 cups flour(up to two cups may be whole wheat)
2 tablespoons yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups hot water
I used my heavy duty mixer to prepare the dough. A food processor with dough blade will work as well.  In bowl stir together 4 cups flour, yeast, and sugar.  Add water and mix until well blended.  Dough will be very wet and sticky.  Gradually add remaining flour until dough forms a ball.  I've found when our weather is humid I'll need to add more flour.  Today I needed only 5 cups. Once dough forms ball, allow to work about 20 turns around bowl.  Remove dough and placed in greased bowl.  Cover with a damp towel.  Let rise 15 minutes.
Punch down dough and divide into two portions.  Form into balls and then place on baking sheet.  Lightly score top with an "X" then dampen hands and place wet hands on dough.  Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds.  Place pan in cold oven.  On bottom rack place cake pan and fill with hot water.  Turn oven temperature to 400°F.  Set timer for 40 minutes. (May bake as long as 50 minutes).  When golden remove to wire rack to cool.

I had to work with this recipe a little and ended up making it twice.  I followed the recipe EXACTLY with the second loaves, using the timer to time rising and baking.  My oven required only the 40 minutes to bake and they turned out beautifully.

Fresh Cranberry Relish

Every autumn, I look forward to the fresh cranberries in the grocery stores.  I always buy several bags and freeze some of them.  This is one of my traditional holiday recipes and turkey dinners are never the same without this on the table.  It's excellent as a relish on a turkey sandwich, too, by the way.

Fresh Cranberry Relish 1 bag of fresh cranberries
1 whole apple
1 whole orange
1 cup sweetener of choice
In food processor place cranberries, apple and orange, peels, seeds and all, coarsely quartered.  Grind thoroughly.  Remove from processing bowl and stir in sweetener of choice.  I've used both sugar and Splenda with equal success.  If orange is very tart you may need to add more, but add to taste, starting with 1/2 cup.  Place in glass jar and cover and put away in fridge to ripen the flavors for Thanksgiving.  This relish freezes nicely too, so feel free to make the full batch and store some of it.

Spinach Artichoke Casserole

I found this recipe a few years ago in a Good Housekeeping magazine.  It's perfect for those who are eating a lower carb diet. 

Spinach and Artichoke Casserole1 pound frozen spinach, thawed, drained, squeezed dry
1 15oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
1/2 cup cream or half and half
salt and pepper
2/3 cup grated Parmesan/Romano cheese, divided
1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine spinach, artichokes, cream, salt/pepper and 1/3 cup cheese in casserole dish. 
In bowl, mix cream cheese until fluffy.  Add milk and blend well.  Pour over top of spinach mixture.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake 25-30 minutes, until bubbly and golden.

Penny's Pumpkin Cream Cake

I wanted a spectacular dessert to take to a friend's Thanksgiving Day celebration a few years ago and so I combined various components from several recipes.  It was awesome.  Katie and I decorated it with chocolate dipped pecan halves.

Penny's Pumpkin Dream Cake 1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each freshly grated nutmeg, ground allspice, and ginger
3 eggs
1  1/4 cups water
Mix all ingredients until well blended for about 2 minutes.  Pour into two greased and floured round cake pans and bake at 350F for recommended amount of time, cool and turn out on racks to complete cooling.  
Pumpkin Dream Filling
1 8 oz. package softened cream cheese
The remaining portion of the can of pumpkin
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Mix until well blended and creamy. 
Place one cake layer on cake platter, mound filling on top. Spread just to edges, then top with second cake layer.
Cream Cheese Dream Frosting
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 stick softened butter
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla
In bowl, beat cheese and butter until well mixed.  Gradually add sugar beating well after each addition.  Frosting will be quite light and creamy.  Spread over top and sides of Pumpkin Dream Cake.  Decorate sides with finely chopped pecans.  Decorate top with chocolate dipped pecan halves arranged in flower pattern.

Porcupine Meatballs

In winter, I love a good bowl of porcupine meatballs...but I don't limit myself to just that dish.  I make up the meat mixture and pack into bell pepper halves, use to stuff cabbage leaves.

Porcupine Meatballs 1 pound lean ground round
1/3 cup brown rice
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
2 slices bread crumbed
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 egg
salt and pepper
dash of Worcestershire Sauce
Soak bread crumbs in milk until all is absorbed.  Mix all ingredients well and form into balls.  I put all of mine in the crockpot and set the temperature on HIGH.
Pour over the meatballs:
1 can condensed tomato soup
1/2 can water
Put lid on the crockpot and let cook for four hours.
(I also use this recipe as my filling for both cabbage rolls and stuffed peppers).

Penny's Mexican Lasagna

Penny's Use What You Have Mexican Lasagna

4 low carb tortillas
1 pound ground round
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 can water
salt and pepper to taste
2 slices Provolone cheese
6 ozs. cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Brown ground beef and onion.  Add garlic, tomatoes, water, and seasonings and cook for ten minutes to slightly reduce moisture.
In deep casserole place a little of the sauce and then top with 1 tortilla.  Divide cream cheese into four portions.  Dice one portion and sprinkle over the tortilla.  Tear one slice of provolone and sprinkle over cream cheese/tortilla.  Top with a bit of the meat sauce.  Repeat with second tortilla, but use 1/2 of cheddar instead of provolone.  Repeat, alternating layers, until the last tortilla is used.  Top with cream cheese, and meat sauce then cheddar cheese.  Cover and bake at 350F for 30 minutes.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.  I served four very hearty servings but it could easily stretch to 6 if rice or corn were added as a side dish.

Katie's Peppermint Bark Brownies

Katie has been making these Peppermint Bark Brownies for several years now.  They are one of her must make Christmas recipes.

Katie's Peppermint Bark Brownies

1 box Brownie mix (the size box that makes a 9 X 13 pan of brownies)
Mixed according to directions.  Bake as directed. 
1 12oz. bag white chocolate chips
20 hard peppermint candies, unwrapped and crushed
Melt white chocolate chips in microwave in 15 second increments, stirring frequently.   Spread over slightly cooled brownies.  Sprinkle with crushed peppermints.  Cut into serving sized pieces.  Nestle each square in a cupcake paper and store in an airtight tin.

Broiled Frosting

Sometimes what you want isn't a thickly frosted super sweet cake but something a little lighter yet still sweet.  This Broiled Frosting is the answer.  It's a great topper for a coffee cake or muffins, too, when you want that added little something.

Broiled Frosting 1/4 cup softened butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts
1 cup flaked coconut
3 tbsps milk
Mix the butter, brown sugar and nuts and coconut thoroughly.  Add milk to moisten.  Spread over cake (makes enough for 9 X 13 sheet cake).  Set oven control to broil or 550F.  Place cake five inches from heat source and broile about 3 minutes until bubbly and slightly golden. Watch carefully, this frosting will burn quickly.  I half it with success.
May skip coconut and increase nuts to 1 cup, or substitute 1/2 cup cereal flakes.

Kid's Favorite Casserole

This is a child friendly variation of the classic Shepherd's Pie.   I found this in a Pillsbury magazine cookbook about 35 years ago and it has been a favorite recipe of this household ever since.  I admit I think I like this recipe better than my children ever did.  It's a great comfort meal.  The recipe book suggested serving with a fruit cup and snickerdoodles.  I think that menu is perfect, covering every possible food group.

Kid's Favorite Casserole
16 oz. green beans, cooked, drained
16 oz. ground beef
1/2 small diced onion
1 tsp garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 can condensed tomato soup
2 cups prepared seasoned mashed potatoes
6 ozs. shredded cheddar cheese
Brown ground beef with onion, garlic.  Season to taste, then add can of tomato soup.  In casserole, layer green beans, meat mixture, and top with mashed potatoes.  Sprinkle potatoes with cheese.  Bake at 375F for 30 minutes.

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I found a similar recipe in a magazine, which called for seasoned spinach only.  It lacked something.  Katie and I played with it and came up with this version which was is so very yummy.  I've used boneless breasts and rolled them up but the bone-in breasts work the best for keeping the filling in the breasts. 

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts
1 10oz bag fresh spinach
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 8oz. pkg. softened cream cheese
6 4oz. bone in chicken breasts
Alfredo sauce
Cook spinach with 1 tbsp water in covered dish in microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes.  Drain and then squeeze dry.  Rough chop.
Mix spinach with the next three ingredients.  Cut deep slit into side of chicken breasts.  Stuff spinach cheese mix into the breasts and bake at 425 for 40 minutes.  Serve chicken over Pasta with a thin Alfredo sauce to compliment.

Potato Chowder

Potato Chowder 1/2 cup finely minced onion
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2 tsps. garlic

Saute lightly in olive oil.  When translucent add:

6 medium red potatoes, diced
Add water to just cover and salt well, then cook until potatoes are fork tender.  Add
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 14 oz. can chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Heat to almost boiling.  Lower heat to simmer until ready to serve.  Just before serving add

1/4 cup instant potatoes to just thicken the liquid.  You may add grated cheddar cheese and diced crisply cooked bacon for added flavor.  I like to garnish with minced green onion and occasionally I stir in 3 ounces cream cheese for a richer, creamier texture.

Penny's Tuna Pasta Salad

John introduced me to this salad, recalling that it was something his mom made frequently in summers.  I took his vague recollections and put this together.  It's a favorite and is so budgetwise that summer's we ate it at least once a week.

Penny's Tuna Pasta Salad

12 oz. cooked, cooled pasta (I had penne, but have used seashells, bow ties, elbows)
1 7oz. pkg. water packed tuna
2 cups chopped vegetables (I use whatever I have on hand.  Today it was carrots, green onions, celery and pimento stuffed olives.  I've used green peas, black olives, bell peppers, onions in whatever combinations I might have)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp prepared mustard
salt and pepper to taste
lemon pepper(optional)
Mix all ingredients well.  Chill well.  Tastes even better on the second day!

Easy Tiramisu

The original recipe made just enough for two and is super simple to make up in muffin tins lined with foil cup cake papers.  However, for a crowd this recipe can be made in a loaf pan and sliced to serve.  It's easy and cool and delicious and the richness it has belies that it's calorie wise and low sugar.

Easy Tiramisu 1 8oz. container of whipped topping, or 2 cups whipped cream
1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 3 oz. pkg. instant vanilla pudding
2 cups cold milk
1/2 box vanilla wafer
1 heaping tbsp instant coffee
3 tbsps hot water
Cocoa powder or solid chocolate to grate
Mix pudding according to directions.  Add softened cream cheese and mix well.  In small bowl, dissolve coffee in hot water.  Dip vanilla wafers in coffee mixture and line a 9inch loaf pan, bottom and halfway up sides with the wafers.  Pour cream cheese pudding mixture into the pan on top of the wafers.  Spread whipped cream over top, dust with cocoa or grated chocolate.  Cover and allow to sit in fridge for at least an hour, overnight is even better, before serving.  *Note* I use sugar free items to make this a lower cal treat.  So good and delicious!

Dry Marinade for Beef

Spicy Dry Beef Rub 1 1/4 tbsps. paprika
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp. grated fresh onion
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. dry oregano
1/2 tsp. dry thyme
2 tbsps. olive oil
Mix well and rub over a 3 pound beef roast.  Equally good on chicken, or pork.

Another rub I like is very easy.  It consists of yellow mustard (though I like the whole grain brown mustard as a nice change) and black pepper.  Rub meat with the mustard, then sprinkle liberally with black pepper, the coarser variety is best. 
For both these recipes I'd place the meat in the oven to roast.  Usually plan on 30 mins per pound at 325F to roast beef. 

Easy Peach Cobbler

I use this fruit cobbler recipe most often to make peach cobbler, but it's equally as good with apples, pears, berries.  I'm including my healthier version but the standard Easy recipe is very good.

Healthier Peach Cobbler: 1 stick melted butter (can sub 1/4 cup olive oil for 1/4 cup butter)
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsps flaxseed meal
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
1 cup sugar (I used Splenda, but have used half the amount of sugar and recipe has worked out very well)
12 oz. frozen peach slices (you may substitute 2 cups of any fruit(canned, fresh or frozen, including berries (drain if canned), applesauce)
Mix all ingredients well. Pour into casserole dish (I use a flat 2 qt. dish) and place on the cobbler the frozen peach slices.  Bake at 350F for about 35-40 minutes until golden brown and tender.

Easy Peach Cobbler
1 cup melted butter
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
2 cups fruit of choice
Mix the batter first, then pour over casserole with fruit in bottom.  Bake 350F for 35-40 minutes until golden, tender to the touch.
For the pulled pork, I cooked a boneless boston butt in the crockpot until done.  Then drained the juices from the meat and let the meat cool.  I used two forks to 'pull' the meat into shreds.  Takes time but isn't hard to accomplish.  Then pour over a good vinegary BBQ sauce.  There are store bought brands you can use, such as Mrs. Griffins or Finger Licking Chicken Sauce to name two, but I prefer my homemade version, which is on the  March 25, 2007 post.
Today I've put a bottom Round Roast in the oven.  Not to cook as a pot roast per se, though potatoes  and onions and mushrooms are most excellent with this particular recipe.  I rubbed the meat with the following:

Homemade BBQ Sauce

I often make my own Bbq sauce rather than buy bottled.  It tastes so much better.  The variations you can mix up are absolutely endless.  I've used a variety of preserves (orange marmalade, peach or strawberry preserves, apple butter) or syrup (maple is nice and so is cane syrup).  You can thin with sodas or beer...As I said, the variations are endless!  Don't be afraid to experiment with this sauce. 

Homemade BBQ Sauce 1 cup catsup
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tbsps cane syrup (brown sugar will work as well)
dash of hot pepper sauce
2 tbsps. prepared mustard
Mix well.  You may cook if you prefer, but if too thick thin with hot water to desired consistency.  This is a more vinegary sauce, but additional sweetener will offset if you find it too tart.

Kelly's Fettucini Chicken Casserole

Kelly's Fettucini Chicken Casserole

I was blessed to get to know a family of very good cooks and they didn't mind a bit making up their own recipes.  This casserole dish was especially tasty.

1 jar of Alfredo sauce
1 jar of dried tomato Alfredo sauce
1 can of tomatoes
1 cup of green bell pepper
1 cup of onion
1 tsp minced garlic
2 pounds Fettucini, cooked and drained
4 cups diced cubed chicken
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the green pepper, onion, garlic until just tender.  Mix all the ingredients in a 13 x 9 pan reserving the Parmesan to sprinkle on top.  Bake until hot and bubbly. 

Vintage Summer Libations And One of My Own

I love vintage magazines, especially of the homemaking variety.  I found these in one of my summer issues and thought they sounded worth a try.

From the 1925 issue of Better Homes and Gardens:

Ginger Cream
Into a glass of chilled ginger ale, add 2 tablespoons of cream, and 1 tablespoon of crystallized ginger, finely chopped.

Pineapple Smash
First make a simple syrup of:
1 cup sugar and 2 cups water, boiled for five minutes. Let cool.  Set aside.
1 pint grated pineapple
juice of 3 lemons
Remove one cup of pineapple syrup and add:
1 cup ice water
Freeze mixture until firm.
Chill remaining mixture.  Just before serving, strain into pitcher.  Add 1 pint of ginger ale, seltzer or ice water.  Serve this punch in tall glasses with a heaping spoonful of the pineapple slush in each glass.
Other suggestions from the same magazine:
Pineapple juice, crushed mint leaves, ice water and simple syrup to sweeten.
Brewed tea with orange and lemon juice added in equal portions along with simple syrup.

From my own file:
Penny's Pink Lemonade
1 cup water boiled with 1 cup sugar to form simple syrup.  Cool and pour into pitcher.
juice of 4 lemons and 4 cups of water.  Stir well. 

To make a single serving

Pour mixture over glass of crushed ice.  Add 2 tablespoons grenadine syrup to each glass.  Stir to blend into pink lemonade.  Leave as is for sunrise effect in the lemonade.

Rhonda's Red Enchilada Sauce


After my friend Rhonda shared this recipe with me, I've bought enchilada sauce only twice.  Both times I was so disappointed, I vowed to go right back to making my own.  This is absolutely delicious and never fails to wow anyone having burritos, enchiladas or even a Mexican pizza in my home.
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
1 small onion, chopped fine, about 2 1/2 ounces
3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons granular Splenda or Sugar
16 ounces tomato sauce
1/4 cup water

In a medium pot, cook the onion in oil until soft and slightly browned. Add the garlic, spices and sweetener. Cook and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato sauce and water; bring to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Makes about 2 cups
Can be frozen.

Penny's Basics: Pancakes

Penny's Basic Pancakes:
2 cups self rising flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 cup milk (more if you like thinner pancakes)
1 egg
Mix just until blended.  Don' t over mix!  Pancake batter is like brownie and muffin batter, the less you mix the more tender your results.  And if you like pancakes extra fluffy, just go ahead and add a tsp of baking powder.

Pour out 1/4 cup measures onto a hot griddle.  When tops begin to bubble and the bubbles to break, then flip over and cook until bottom becomes light golden brown. 

They are truly that easy to make.  And boy oh boy!  There's nothing like a really tender homemade pancake!

Variations:  Add any of the following:  1 diced ripe peach, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup shredded apple, 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Brenda's Polish Sausage Casserole

Brenda's Polish Sausage Casserole

I won't even tell you how long I sat on this 'recipe'...a friend shared it at work one morning after she'd made this.   Years later, stuck for inspiration one night, I tried it.  I've made this in a crock pot and in the oven and it is most definitely a keeper and a wonderful cozy winter meal.  All you need is a salad to complete the meal.

6 medium potatoes sliced thin
1/2 medium onion sliced thin
1/2 pound of frozen green peas
4 ounces grated cheddar cheese
1 pound Polish Sausage
Layer potatoes and onions in the casserole dish.  Add peas and salt and pepper to taste. You can cut sausage into serving sized pieces of slice into bite sized pieces.  Top all with cheese, cover and bake at 400F until potatoes are fork tender.

For the crock pot: spray crock with non-stick spray.  Layer onion and potatoes.  Add sausage atop and cook for four hours on high, 6 hours on low.  Test doneness of potatoes and adjust cooking/heat time.  Thirty minutes before meal, remove sausage, sprinkle thawed peas over top and top with cheddar, put sausage back in and cook until peas are tender and cheese melted.

Buckeye Bars


I confess Katie and I didn't care for these when we first made them.  Two days later however, the flavors were well developed and absolutely delicious.  Perhaps this is best qualified as a make ahead recipe.

1 box chocolate cake mix
1/4 cup oil
1 egg
Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Mixture will be dry and crumbly.  It's supposed to look like that.  Set aside 1 cup and pat the rest into a greased 9X 13 pan.
Now mix:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 peanut butter
Mix until well blended.  The peanut butter will thicken the condensed milk a good bit.  My recipe called for pouring the mixture onto the crumb layer in the pan, then spreading.  I found the mixture too stiff to spread.  I'd suggest dolloping on teaspoonfuls of the stuff all over the crumb layer.   And I'd suggest the addition of
1 cup mini chocolate chips
sprinkled over top of the peanut butter layer.  Then sprinkle the reserved cup of crumb mixture over the peanut butter and chocolate chips.
Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool in pan, then cut into bars.  Put on a plate and cover loosely.  Do not put in the refrigerator.

Homemade Ranch Dressing


1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dill weed
1 tsp. chives
1 tsp. parsley
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Mix well.  If it appears too thick for your needs, then add a little milk to thin it somewhat.  It all depends on what brand sour cream I have on hand as to how thick/thin the dressing turns out.  And if we're using it on salad, I naturally want it thinner than if we're using it to dip carrots and celery

Toffee Trifle

Toffee Trifle
1 9X13 pan of Brownies, broken into chunks
2 large boxes Chocolate pudding mixed per directions
1 12 oz. container of whipped topping
6 bars of chocolate covered toffee, chopped

Mix the prepared pudding with cool whip and set aside. In a trifle
dish, or large deep bowl(small glass punch bowls work just as well),
put in a layer of brownie chunks, cover with 1/3 of pudding and
sprinkle with 1/3 toffee. Continue layering. If you'd like, you
may top with whipped cream and a grating of chocolate, but you will
need extra topping to do this.
Variations: Add instant coffee to the pudding mixes.  Use mini chocolate chips instead of the toffee bars.
Layer brownies with canned cherry pie filling and top with shaved chocolate for a Black Forest Trifle.
Mix prepared vanilla pudding with 1/4 melted peanut butter.  Layer with chopped peanut butter cups candy and brownies.  Top with whipped topping and drizzle with melted chocolate

Breakfast Sausage Casserole

Breakfast Sausage Casserole

I use a variation of the Breakfast Casserole that is really a savory bread pudding.  Typically, I eyeball measurements and so you'll have to bear with me as I write out the recipe.  Years ago I decreased the amount of sausage from 1 pound to 1/4 pound because our budget restrictions were severe.  Now I tend to use 1/2 pound of sausage because I found I actually liked the casserole better with the decreased sausage.   If money is tight or I need to use up mushrooms, I'll add diced cooked mushrooms as a substitute for part of the sausage meat.  Mushrooms are not a protein food, but they do take on the flavor of the foods they are cooked with.  So if you brown diced mushrooms with sausage the mushrooms will taste like the sausage.  Fools my family every time,lol!
1/2 pound browned bulk pork sausage
1 onion, diced finely (about 1/2 cup), cooked with sausage
4 cups bread cubes (I save end pieces in the freezer to use to make this casserole and bread crumbs)
4 eggs, beaten
3 cups milk
8 ozs. grated cheddar cheese, reserve 2 ounces to sprinkle over the top just before serving
1 tsp. prepared mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Combine eggs, milk, seasonings.  Toss bread cubes with sausage, onions, and grated cheese.  Pour milk mixture over the bread cube mixture and let sit overnight in refrigerator (of if serving for supper, I'll prepare in early morning and let sit in fridge until I'm ready to cook it).
Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes, or until casserole looks puffy and golden brown.  Sprinkle remaining cheddar over top to melt.