Cooking With Patricia

Cooking Archives


Stuffed Crown Roast of Pork

An elegant choice for your holiday dinner, but surprisingly easy and quick to do.  The hardest part is ordering from the supermarket and picking it up.  Your meat man at the market will tell you how big a roast you will need for the number of people.  This recipe is based on a five- to six-pound roast with about 10 ribs, which is approximately six to eight servings.

The mushroom-bread stuffing goes great with the pork, and the apricot preserves glaze is simple ... just brush it on out of the jar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pork loin crown roast (5 - 6 pounds, about 10 ribs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

Stuffing:

  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 cups day-old bread cubes (use a sturdy bread, not too soft)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves
  • Garnish (optional) — 1 cup whole fresh cranberries, fresh curly parsley.

Place roast, rib ends up, in a shallow roasting pan; sprinkle with seasoned salt.  Cover rib ends with foil.  Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.  Meanwhile, sauté mushrooms and celery in butter till tender.  Stir in bread cubes, salt and pepper.

After 1 1/2 hours, remove roast from oven and spoon stuffing into the center of the roast.  Brush sides of roast with preserves.  Bake 1 hour longer or until a meat thermometer inserted into meat between ribs reads 160 degrees.  Remove foil.

If you want to do a cranberry garnish, string cranberries on a 20-inch piece of thin string or thread.  Loop the cranberry string in and out of the rib ends.  Place roast on serving platter.  Garnish around bottom with some fresh curly parsley and a few red cranberries.  This makes it look so festive, especially for Christmas.  

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Mocha Cream Torte

Approximately 10 - 12 servings

I like to recall when I was a child and went to my grandmothers for a holiday dinner.  She had eight sons and two daughters, and these men grew up on homemade pies.  Every holiday her dessert table was filled with apple, mince, mock cherry (made with cranberries), pumpkin and squash pies; always two of each.  My grandmother and her mother would start in November making the mincemeat, pureeing the squash and fresh pumpkin.  In addition, there always would be mincemeat turnovers and platters of cookies for the kids.

Having eight children themselves, my mother and father continued that tradition in their own home, of those 10 pies.  Since both my parents are gone now, I confess that I do not make 10 pies, nor my own pumpkin and squash.  I use canned!

In these more recent years, whenever I hosted Christmas or New Years dinner, I now serve a choice of desserts; usually a torte or cake such as this, usually two kinds of pies, and something for the children, whether cookies, cupcakes, decorated in whatever holiday theme.

Talking of my memories, Im sure will conjure up many of your own, and what a pleasant way to spend a few minutes, to remember those long ago holidays.

This dessert is meant to impress, and it certainly does that.  It is a delicious cake that will make a beautiful addition to your holiday dessert table, no matter what holiday you want to serve it.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 cup boiling water

Topping

  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 1 teaspoon hot water
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 6 Heath candy bars, crushed

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla.  Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt, whisk till mixed well; add to creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beating after each addition.  Dissolve coffee in water; add to batter.  Beat for two minutes.  Pour into three greased and floured nine-inch round cake pans.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven 16 - 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pans, than turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

For topping, dissolve coffee and hot water in a bowl, let cool.  Add cream and brown sugar.  Beat till stiff peaks form.  Place a cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate.  Top with 1 1/3 cups of the topping.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Heath candy.  Repeat with the other two layers.  Store in the refrigerator till ready to serve.

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Peppermint & Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Its holiday time again, and with that comes baking for those Christmas parties, office parties, class parties in school and many other occasions that happen at this time of year.  Dont let it overwhelm you because its just too much fun, and after-the-fact youre left with some real good memories.  If I can help with searching for a particular recipe, or in any other way, just e-mail me.

For those of you looking for a good cookie recipe for that cookie swap or bake sale, heres one you may want to try.  These cookies have a festive look with the crushed peppermint candy on top.  This recipe makes only about three dozen so I usually have to double it.

Ingredients:

  • 6 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped red/white peppermint candy canes

Microwave broken-up chocolate squares and butter in a large microwavable bowl on high 30 seconds at a time until butter is melted, about two minutes.  Stir until chocolate is melted completely.  (If you prefer, the chocolate and butter can be melted over a double boiler on top of the stove).

Stir in sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing until well blended after each egg.  Combine flour and baking powder; add to chocolate mixture, mixing well.  Dough will be very soft.  Cover and refrigerate at least two hours or overnight if you want to mix batter the day before you bake.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll heaping teaspoonfuls of dough into one-inch balls.  Place two-inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet or on parchment paper.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes until tops are set.  Because ovens vary, I start checking for doneness at 8 - 9 minutes.  (Do not overbake.)  Immediately sprinkle with the chopped candy canes.  Cool one minute on the baking sheet than transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Puffed Apple Pancake

Hanukkah begins this Wednesday, December5.  Fruits are a big part of this beautiful celebration of lights.  This puffy apple soufflé-like pancake is perfect for a special Hanukkah breakfast or can be served as a dessert with whipped cream.  Everyone will enjoy this treat no matter what holiday you are celebrating this month.  Serves six.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon of each:  ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium-to-large apples, peeled, cored and cut into thick slices
  • 5 large eggs, separate yolks and whites
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Confectioners sugar for dusting
  • Warm maple syrup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix together one tablespoon of the sugar with the spices.

In a medium-size, ovenproof skillet, melt butter over medium heat on top of stove.  Swirl pan to coat sides of pan.  Add apples to skillet.  Cook till softened, stirring frequently, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Arrange apples in a single layer over bottom of skillet.  Sprinkle apples with the sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Cover to keep warm.

In a medium size bowl, beat egg yolks at medium speed until light and fluffy.  At low speed, beat in flour and vanilla until blended and smooth.

In another bowl, using clean beaters or a whisk, beat egg whites at high speed until foamy.  Beat in remaining sugar until stiff peaks form, but not dry.  Stir one-fourth of beaten egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.  Fold in the remaining whites (gently folding in the whites keeps the air that creates the soufflé-like puff).

Pour batter over apples.  Cook on top of stove over medium heat until bottom of pancake turns golden, just about 5 minutes.

Transfer skillet to oven.  Bake pancake until golden and set, about another 15 to 20 minutes.

Loosen pancake by running a metal spatula around sides of pan.  Turn pancake out onto a serving plate that has been warmed in the oven.  Dust lightly with confectioners sugar.

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‘Turkey-Terrific’ Pita Sandwiches

The day after Thanksgiving is different to everyone, but most do not want to cook.  If that is you and you have leftover turkey this is a delicious way to use it up.  I cant take the credit for this one though, that goes to a deli in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, which has been closed for a few years now, but they became well known in the early 90s for this sandwich.  I worked in an office nearby at that time, and another employee got this one day for lunch, and that sandwich became an office favorite that year and for several years after.  The deli owners said they couldnt keep up with the orders.

Its very simple:  Cut in half of a large pita pocket (whole wheat or white), spread mayonnaise inside, and dont be skimpy.  In this order, layer with stuffing, jellied cranberry sauce, liberal amount of sliced turkey (a little salt and pepper on the stuffing and turkey), and than shredded lettuce.

If you want to keep your calorie count down, use reduced fat mayonnaise, use all white turkey slices, whole wheat pita bread, and reduced sugar cranberry sauce, which I have seen in the  the stores.

With a cup of hot soup, and a slice of that leftover pie, what a way to continue to enjoy Thanksgiving. 

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Spicy Sweet Potato Cheese Spread

I made this for Thanksgiving about seven years ago when I had a large family gathering for Thanksgiving.  My nephews, brothers, sons were all looking forward to a big football game, and I wanted to have a good dip/spread for them to munch on.  It had some crunch to it and some heat, although they added more Louisiana hot sauce for their taste.  Its great with breadsticks and I liked it with celery and carrot sticks.  I didnt tell them till later that it was made with sweet potatoes; no-one could believe it, but its become popular and the recipe has been passed around to many.

Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups cold mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (adjust to your taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • Assorted crackers, breadsticks, raw vegetables

Mix all in a food processor, or in a mixing bowl.  If mixing in a bowl, beat cream cheese and sweet potatoes until very smooth.  Add remaining ingredients; mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for four hours.

You can serve this in two ways.  Put in a serving dish and serve as a spread/dip or refrigerate till firm enough to shape into a ball and roll in more chopped pecans. 

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Apple Pandowdy

Makes about six servings

Apple pandowdy goes back to Colonial times.  I did some research on the Internet and found out that in Colonial days they made it this way long before the two-crust apple pie.  It was pretty rustic cooking, mixing the apples with spices and usually molasses, the common sweetener of that period, and then just patting out a basic dough of flour and lard and placing it on top.  Baking was usually in huge fireplaces.

When something is this good though, it goes on and on for generations.  Sometimes there are little changes made, but the original cant be beat.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Single pie crust (in refrigerated section of store) or your own recipe, rolled into 10-inch square.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine apples, sugar, molasses, flour, cinnamon and salt.  Pour into a buttered 9-inch square baking dish, and dot top with butter.  Place the pastry crust on top, tucking in and down around the edges.  Cut a few vents in the crust to allow steam to escape.  If desired, brush with cream.

Bake until crust is set and beginning to brown, about 40 minutes.  Remove from oven, and with a knife, cut crust into squares, pushing down a little into the juices.  Return to oven and bake for about 20 minutes more till bubbling and the crust is golden brown and crisp.  Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes before serving.  If baking ahead of time, just reheat and serve warm drizzled with heavy cream or vanilla ice cream. 

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Ajiaco

Pronounced Ah-hee-ah-ko, this is a chicken, corn, and potato stew native to Colombia.

The first time I had this delicious soup was in Bogotá, Colombia when I attended a wedding there.  My nephew married a beautiful Colombian girl, whom I love dearly.  Their wedding, by the way, was of Fifth Avenue, New York quality, with everyone in spectacular gowns, tuxes, furs; truly one of the most exquisite weddings I have ever attended.  They now have two children and reside in Montevideo, Uruguay.

This stew took a starring role in their pre-wedding supper held in a beautiful home high on a Bogotá hillside.  A traditional Colombian favorite “comfort food,” served often to family and guests, and truly popular with everyone.

This chunky chicken soup is thickened with “papas criollas,” a native potato.  This tiny potato breaks down completely, thickening the broth and giving it a rich smoothness.  (When made by Colombians, there are often six to eight different kinds of potatoes in this soup.)  Here, we can substitute grated russets for the papas criollas, giving pretty close the same effect.  Also, Yukon gold and red potatoes contribute texture and desired taste.  When the stew is served, it is accompanied by individual bowls of capers, cubed/ripened avocados, chopped cilantro, and “crema.”  These are added as desired.

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken, about 3 1/2 pounds
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried “guascas” or oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound papas criollas (thawed if you have found in the freezer section of store) or 1 pound russet potatoes
  • 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 ears of corn cut into 1 inch pieces or 2 cups of whole kernel corn
  • 1 cup crema or 1/2 cup heavy cream mixed with 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 1/4 cup of drained capers
  • 3 ripe avocados cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (to cook in stew) and extra to serve as garnish

Put chicken in an 8-quart soup pot with water, broth, onion, oregano, and salt.  Bring to a boil, skimming off the foam.  Reduce heat and simmer till cooked through, about 45 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a plate to cool.  Add papas criollas to broth, or peeled and coarsely grated russet potatoes.  Simmer uncovered, about 30 minutes, till potatoes are falling apart and thickening the broth (mash if necessary).  Add the Yukon gold potatoes and red potatoes, simmer, covered, about 20 minutes till tender.  Add corn, 1/4 cup cilantro, and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, continue to simmer.  In the meantime, coarsely shred the chicken (dispose of skin and bones) and add to the stew; cook till hot and bubbly.

Serve stew with crema, capers, avocados, and chopped cilantro as garnishes.

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M&M Oat Bars for Halloween

These bars are irresistible and will sweeten any holiday.  They are topped with a caramel layer, chocolate chips, and M&Ms.  For Halloween, use the brown/orange.  For valentines, they come in red/white/pink, and I believe I've seen red/green for Christmas.  This recipe makes 6 dozen; great for that Halloween party at school, or even to bring to work for that afternoon coffee break.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter or stick margarine, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of each; baking soda, salt
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 package (14 ounces) caramels
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose whipping cream
  • 1 cup miniature chocolate chips
  • 1 cup plain M&Ms
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; add to the creamed mixture.  Stir in oats.  Press into a greased 15-inch x 10-inch x 1-inch baking pan.  Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool on a rack.

Place whipping cream in a medium saucepan over low heat and add caramels.  Melt slowly, stirring occasionally.  Spread over crust.  Sprinkle with chips, nuts if you wish, and lastly the M&Ms.  Gently press into the caramel.  Cut into bars and enjoy.

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Lemon Bars

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 4 beaten eggs (eggs at room temperature for 15 minutes)
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
  • Sifted confectioner’s sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Blend softened butter with 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar.  Pat into ungreased 13-inch x 9-inch baking pan.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.  For filling, blend together eggs, sugar, 4 tablespoons flour, lemon juice, and lemon peel.  Pour over first layer.  Return to oven and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.  Loosen around edges, cut into bars, and sift confectioner’s sugar over the top while slightly warm.

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Baked Pork Chops

Have you noticed that pork has been on sale lately?  Take advantage of it and fix this recipe for a delicious supper.  You could use country-style ribs, boneless chops, or the bone-in loin chops as it calls for.  The soy-sauce marinade tenderizes and flavors the meat beautifully.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups soy sauce (low sodium is fine)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 6 bone-in pork chops (1-inch thick)

Sauce: 

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 2/3 cup chili sauce
  • 1/8 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground mustard

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring all marinade ingredients to a boil.  Remove from heat, let sit till lukewarm.  Pour into a re-sealable plastic bag; add pork chops.  Seal bag and refrigerate for 4 - 6 hours or overnight.

Drain and discard marinade.  Place pork chops in a buttered baking dish.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine the sauce ingredients; pour over the chops and bake uncovered for 30 - 40 minutes longer.  Serves 6.

Note:  Serving suggestion; great with rice pilaf.

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Disappearing Granny Smith Cake

Compliments from the chef at the Governor’s Inn in Ludlow, Vermont

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick, unsalted butter, softened)
  • 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 good-sized granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped small

Topping:

Mix 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.  Cut in 1/2 stick cold, unsalted butter until crumbly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese till fluffy.  Add in sugar and eggs, beating well.  Add vanilla and beat in.  Sift dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients alternating with milk.  Stir in the apple pieces.  Batter will be very stiff.  Spoon it into the baking dish.  Sprinkle the brown sugar topping on the batter.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes till tester comes out clean.  Cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting into squares.

What makes this a little different is the cream cheese mixed into the cake batter.  You’ll see for yourself when you try it; it’s delicious.  The recipe calls for granny smith apples, but I use any kind that I have on hand.

This is apple-picking time, and when I go, I like to pick a few different kinds.  One of my favorites is the Jonathan apple and, of course, the all-time favorite eating apple, the Macintosh.  I’m sure you have your favorites also.  If I pick in late October, I try to get a half-bushel of Cortland apples and keep them in a cool, dry place such as my garage, well covered with newspaper.  These stay until November when I will use them for my Thanksgiving pies.  If you want to get an early start, baked apple pies freeze well, especially when they are only in the freezer for four to six weeks.  When you serve them, just put them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes to refresh the crust.  

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Innkeepers’ Supper Chicken Casserole

Serves 6 to 8

I recently spent a few days in Stowe, Vermont.  What a beautiful area!  We stayed at the Smuggler’s Notch Resort, which is where I found this recipe.

Among a selection of books left for the guests to use was a cookbook with many recipes from each inn in Vermont.  I copied a few that I wanted to try at home.  This recipe comes from the Heart of the Village Inn in Shelburne.  It is delicious, and I think you will like it.  It’s that time of the year for church suppers and potluck get-togethers, and this would be a perfect dish to bring.

In fact, this weekend, I will be paying a visit to my niece and her husband who just had their second baby.  I just now thought that this will be a good casserole to bring, so she won’t have to cook for a couple of meals.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cold cooked chicken, cut in small pieces
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 (10 1/2 ounce) can cream chicken soup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dry herb-seasoned stuffing mix, crushed
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan.

In a bowl, mix all ingredients except the stuffing mix and cheese.  Put this mixture in the baking dish.  In another bowl, combine the stuffing mix and cheese, sprinkle over the top of the chicken mixture.  Bake ‘til bubbly hot (uncovered), about 25 to 35 minutes. 

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Walnut-Apple Muffins

These are healthy muffins, made with no added fat or processed white sugar, but still retaining a great taste with the apples and buttermilk used to keep them moist also.  A little oat bran is added for additional nutrition.  This recipe will make 12 "normal-size" muffins, not the extra large muffins we have been getting used to.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of each:  ground cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of frozen, thawed, apple juice concentrate
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons oat bran
  • 2 apples; peeled, cored, chopped.  Also 1 apple; peeled, cored, and cut into 12 thin slices
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease 12 standard-size muffin pan cups.

Mix together flour, baking soda, and the spices.

Mix together eggs, apple juice, and buttermilk.

Stir flour mixture and oat bran into egg mixture until dry ingredients are just moistened.  Do not over mix.  Gently stir in chopped apples and nuts.  Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full.  Press an apple slice down into the center of each muffin (so that it is nearly covered).

Bake muffins until lightly golden and tops spring back when pressed, about 25 minutes.  Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool slightly.  Turn muffins out onto rack to finish cooling.

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Smoked Whitefish Spread

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 pound smoked whitefish, skinned, boned and flaked
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Mix all ingredients until well blended, cover and refrigerate.  Makes about 1 1/2 cups.  Serve with matzo crackers.  If you wish, garnish with lime slices and fresh dill.

Many starting September 12 and ending September 22 are celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur.  These are high holy days for the Jewish people, a time of joy and repentance, and I want to wish all that are celebrating, a wonderful holiday with their families and friends.  The recipe this week is one that can be served during your celebration, but it also can be enjoyed by anyone. It is a delicious cracker spread.  You also have the option of substituting smoked salmon if you wish.

I love these traditions about the apples, honey, and pomegranates that are served throughout these holidays.  Apples and honey mean “may we be sent a sweet and fruitful year,” and pomegranates mean “may the year be rich with blessings as the pomegranate is rich with seeds.”

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Caribbean Dessert Pizza

Makes 8 servings

August is the month for the most varied and freshest fruit here in the Northeast.  The local farm stands are abound with fresh peaches, and some deliver their produce to our local supermarkets.  The recipe below is a way to enjoy that fresh fruit in a different way.  This is very refreshing and fun to put together.  Refrigerated sugar cookie dough is the “pizza dough,” and then layered with vanilla pudding, fresh fruit, and whipped cream.  Top with fresh coconut to complete the Caribbean theme.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (20 ounce) package refrigerated rolled sugar cookie dough
  • 1 (4 serving size) package instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 2 - 3 ripe peaches, peeled and thinly sliced (you can use mango instead if you wish)
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1 - 2 kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • Frozen whipped topping, thawed (or whip your own cream)
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice cookie dough into ¼-inch thick slices.  Arrange three-fourths of the dough slices in a lightly greased 12-inch pizza pan.  Press dough into sides of pan to make crust.  Bake for 14 minutes or until just slightly browned.  Cool while making filling, and bake the remaining dough slices following directions on the package.

For filling, blend milk and pudding with a whisk till thick.  Spread over crust.  Arrange fruit slices on top of pudding, banana slices first.  Arrange the sliced peaches in a pin-wheel circle design.  Than the strawberries in one line across the top, and the kiwi in one line going the other way.  Use your imagination and make it pretty.  Refrigerate till ready to serve, than spread whipped cream on top and lightly sprinkle with coconut.

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Summer Squash Casserole

A lot of you who have gardens are starting to ‘reap the harvest’ as my grandfather would say.  I grew up on a large farm and this was a very busy time of year for us.  Lots of picking, canning, and freezing went well into October.

I don't have a garden right now but I manage to find fresh vegetable stands all over. 

We always had plenty of several kinds of squashes; summer, zucchini, blue hubbard, and acorn, every year.  This is a recipe that was passed around a lot in the 80s, and was well liked and a good way to get children to eat squash.  I have seen it done with all summer squash or all zucchini, or I have used half of each ... whatever you have the most of or like the most.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds thickly sliced (about a quarter to half an inch) summer squash.  Do not need to peel.
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage or poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup hot chicken broth or water
  • 1 (8-ounce package) Pepperidge Farm Stuffing mix

Cook squash and onion in boiling water 10 minutes and drain very well.

Combine soup, sour cream, and carrots.  Fold in drained squash and onion.  Combine stuffing mix, seasoning, melted butter, and hot broth or water.  Spread half of the stuffing mix in a lightly buttered 13 x 9-inch baking dish.  Pour on the vegetable mix.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  Top with remaining stuffing mix.  Cover with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes.  Take foil off for the last 10 minutes.

Note:  As a serving suggestion, this went very well with a pan of baked chicken, and made a great supper.

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Blueberry Cake

If you haven't made a blueberry cake, make one soon while the blueberries are in season.  It hits the spot to have with a cold glass of milk after school, or with a hot cup of coffee or tea for that break away from housework or yard work.  And you will be surprised how quick it is to make homemade.

This recipe came recently from Joan, a reader who loves blueberries, and was kind enough to share this recipe that she has had for over 50 years.  She states she got it from a neighbor who had it when she was a child.  Joan has made this cake for all these years and says everyone who tries it loves it.

Thank you, Joan, for sending this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 level teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 level teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups blueberries (can use frozen berries also)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted shortening (I use Wesson Oil)
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together flour, salt, baking powder.  Add sugar and mix to a stiff batter with the egg, shortening, and milk.  Add blueberries.

Bake in a 9 x 13-inch greased pan, approximately 30 minutes.  Top should be light golden brown.

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Newburyport Rice Salad

A woman I work with who is a tremendous cook and baker gave this recipe to me just last month.  She’s Italian and in the past, has made a business baking Italian cookies for weddings, showers, etc., huge platters of them.  But, she also has some wonderful recipes from family and friends that she’s kept over the years, as we all do.  This recipe for a delicious cold rice salad came from a family affair she attended some 15 years ago (doesn’t know how it was named).  It was so well liked, she kept it and has served it many times; one of those “tried and true” recipes that just keeps being passed along.

So here I am sharing it with you, and it is so good that you will probably be asked for the recipe also.  I have made it twice now (meatless), and it has been a hit.  I have been asked to bring a cold salad to a birthday party this weekend, and this is the one I am bringing.

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages Near East Long Grain & Wild Rice
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup onions (sliced thin)
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil (okay to use mixture vegetable and olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Cook rice per instructions on box, set aside to cool.  Mix together the raisins, onions, carrots and red pepper, set aside.  Mix together garlic, vinegar, oil, mustard, and Tabasco sauce.  Mix dressing into the rice, then add remaining ingredients.  Chill.

Note:  Two cups of cooked chicken or turkey can be added if desired.

P.S.  Thank you for all the kind words and compliments from readers who e-mailed me requesting the Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffin recipe and other blueberry recipes.  I’m glad that I can offer recipes that you can really use. 

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Try a Salmon Burger or a Turkey Burger

When I traveled to Alaska, I was soooo introduced to salmon burgers.  When they grill, it is usually salmon burgers and/or moose burgers.  They are as common as hamburgers to us here in the "lower 48" (as we are referred to).  Moose burgers are also good (taste like a beef hamburger), but I have a fabulous recipe for turkey burgers.  So if you are trying to cut down on your red meat and want something delicious and healthy, here are two good recipes.

Salmon Burgers with Asian Sauce:

  • 1 large can salmon or 3 cups of cooked fresh salmon, cooled, and skin removed
  • 1 good sized potato, boiled, and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed black pepper

Mash salmon and potato together.  Mix in next three ingredients.  Form into four patties.  Sprinkle with pepper on one side.  Spray with olive oil and grill about four minutes on each side.

Asian Sauce:

Mix 1 tablespoon soy sauce with 2 teaspoons horseradish or wasabi.

Serve on whole-wheat buns with Asian sauce and raw, finely-shredded cabbage.

Turkey Burger with Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce:

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 3 finely minced scallions with the green tops
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

Combine all.  Form into four patties.  Oil grill well.  Grill until no pink remains.  Serve on whole-wheat buns with yogurt sauce, lettuce, and tomato slice if you wish. 

Yogurt Sauce:

Mix 1 cup plain non-fat yogurt with 1/3 cup of chopped mint and 1/3 cup of peeled, chopped, and seeded cucumber.  Salt and pepper to taste.

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Excellent Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry season is very close.  Right now New Jersey blueberries are in the supermarkets.  Locally grown blueberries should be ready this coming week.  There are a few "pick-your-own" farms in the area … I know one is in Derry.  It's a fun outing with your children or grandchildren, and then more fun to come home and make something delicious to eat with them; a pie, blueberry shortcake, muffins (and I have the famous "Jordan Marsh" blueberry muffin recipe), a cake, etc.  If you would like a recipe for any of these, just e-mail me and I will send it to you.

If you need to freeze them till you are ready to use, just pick them over, taking off the stems, and place in a plastic bag.  Do not wash first!  Blueberries freeze better when they are as dry as possible.

Blueberry pancakes would be a great way to start your Saturday or Sunday off.

Makes about eight pancakes, depending upon size.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk (2% or whole)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Combine first four ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Add egg, milk, and oil and stir till blended (do not beat or over mix).  Gently stir in blueberries.  Heat griddle to medium-high heat, lightly oil griddle.  Drop batter onto hot griddle about 1/4 to 1/3 cup at a time.  Cook till bubbles form on top, then turn over.  Cook till lightly browned.

Serve with either butter and maple syrup or butter and cinnamon/sugar.

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Twix® Ice Cream Loaf

This delicious frozen dessert can be dressed up enough for company or simplified for your children and family.  Looks impressive, all ages like it, simple and fun to do.  

You will need:

  • Loaf pan
  • Plastic wrap or parchment paper
  • Favorite flavor ice cream that will go well with the candy bars
  • About 20 - 22 Twix, single sticks, candy bars
  • Whipped topping (such as Cool Whip brand)
  • Chocolate shavings

Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap or parchment paper so that it hangs over the edges a few inches.  Pack tightly with your favorite flavor of ice cream, getting into the corners well.  (This was delicious with coffee ice cream.)  Freeze till it is brick hard.  Have your Twix chocolate candy bars unwrapped.

When solidly frozen, turn out onto your serving dish.  Working quickly, press bars into the ice cream all around the sides, as close together as you want, standing them up (the kids love to do this part).  I put six to eight bars on each long side and three on each end, but I have seen this done when the bars are close together all around.  Put back in freezer if getting too soft.  Pile high with whipped topping, then crumble some candy bars on top or use chocolate shavings for decoration.  Refreeze.  When ready to serve, remove 10 minutes before, and slice to serve.  Drizzle each slice with chocolate syrup if desired.

If you are making this for a crowd, just use one rectangle half-gallon ice cream flavor, freeze right in box till brick hard, and continue as above.  

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Broiled Eggplant with Yogurt Garlic Sauce

4 servings

One of our readers in Salem sent me this recipe to share with you, and I'm so glad she contacted me.  This recipe comes from a cookbook she wrote with more than 400 recipes featuring Iraqi cuisine and its history, with its customs, music, and stories included.  "N.N." is a native of Iraq, was a university professor at Baghdad University teaching English and American Literature from 1977 to 1990.  She has a Website which I found very enjoyable to peruse through.  You can visit her Website at www.iraqicookbook.com.

"N.N." writes:  Pairing fried eggplant with yogurt and garlic is one of the favorite ways of serving eggplant in Iraq.  It is a simple and beautiful dish, great for hot summer days.  Serve it with warm flat bread.

Traditionally, the eggplant slices are fried in lots of oil in a frying pan.  However, I found that broiling them after brushing them with oil yields comparable results, and even better.  The eggplant will not be soggy with too much oil, which it absorbs like a sponge when fried, especially when it is not soaked in salted warm water before cooking it.  I grew up on seeing eggplant slices being soaked like this, to get rid of the unpleasant bitterness in the vegetable, I was told.  I still do this here even though the eggplant is not bitter as the variety grown in the Middle East.  The eggplant tends to soak up much less oil even when fried.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil or corn oil, for broiling the eggplant
  • 1 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Wash eggplant, cut off stem, and peel it into strips.
  2. Cut crosswise into two parts, then cut each part lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick pieces.
  3. Soak eggplant pieces in warm salted water for about half an hour, and put a heavy plate on the pieces to keep in water.  Then drain.
  4. Generously brush a large cookie sheet with oil, and arrange the eggplant slices in one layer.  Generously brush the pieces with oil, and broil them in the oven, turning once until golden brown (about 10 minutes).
  5. Mix together yogurt, garlic, and salt.
  6. On a big flat platter, arrange eggplant pieces, they may overlap.  Spoon the prepared yogurt all over the eggplant.
  7. For garnish, drizzle the platter with a little olive oil; sprinkle some chili pepper on the surface, and scatter some chopped parsley, tomato, and pitted olives.
  8. If the amount is more than you can consume in one sitting, refrigerate eggplant and yogurt in two separate containers.  Then combine and garnish just before serving.
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Black Cherry Cream Parfaits

Makes 8-10 servings

In the summer, some of the best dessert recipes start with jello.  There are all kinds of recipes for parfaits, fruit desserts, and cheesecakes that are jello-based.  Favorites with kids and adults, these desserts are cool, refreshing, and easy to make, usually with no cooking involved.  On a hot day, these are great recipes to pull out.  This one is delicious; black cherry flavored, with whipping cream, dark sweet cherries, and walnuts.  It's pretty, light, and cool.

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages (3 ounces each) black cherry gelatin
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups black cherry soda, cold
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pitted dark sweet cherries, well drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water.  Stir in soda, then refrigerate about 2 hours until partially set.

In a mixing bowl, beat whipping cream till it begins to thicken, add the confectioners' sugar, and beat till soft peaks form.

Stir cherries and walnuts into the partially set gelatin, fold in the whipped cream.  Spoon into parfait glasses or dessert dishes.

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