Thursday, October 1, 2015

Apple Cake

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The apples of Fall are beginning to be in abundance at the grocery stores and even at the Farmers Markets in some locations.  Take advantage of these and look for new ways to enjoy them.  Today’s recipe is my Mother’s recipe for fresh apple cake.  It is sure to please and to make your house smell yummy!

1 ½ cups oil (canola or vegetable)
2 cups sugar (less if desired since this cake has a glaze)
3  extra large eggs
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped tart baking apples (such as Granny Smith)
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
½ evaporated milk
2 teaspoon vanilla

*Beat oil and sugar until well blended. 
*Add eggs; one at a time, beating after each.
* Blend  flour, soda and salt; add to egg mixture.
* Stir in apples, pecans and vanilla. 
*Pour into greased and floured 10 inch tube pan or Bundt pan.
* Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes. 

For the frosting:
*Place butter and brown sugar into a sauce pan and melt over medium heat.
* Add milk and bring to a rolling boil for 2 to 3 minutes.
* Cool and add vanilla. 
*Drizzle over top and sides of cake.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Here is a  great make-ahead dinner salad.  Feel free to add other vegetables, another kind of pasta,  or to substitute  your favorite bottled or homemade dressing to your liking.  This is great for those nights when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:    Serves 8
2-3 cups chopped  cooked chicken*
*I buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts and bake them with a bit of olive oil at 375 degrees the night before and then cool, chop and refrigerate until assembly time.
2-3 cups cheese tortellini (I mixed reg and spinach tortellini that I found at my grocery store).   Cook pasta, pour into ice  water to stop cooking and then thoroughly drain.
2 cups halved or quartered (depending on size) cherry tomatoes
1 cup red bell pepper , chopped
1 cup zucchini, diced
¼ cup sweet onion , slivered
1-2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
¼ to 1/3 cup roughly chopped green, black and kalamata olives
2 cups crumbled feta (more if you like)
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

½ cup mayo (I use the olive oil variety)
Juice of one lemon
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
Salt/Pepper to taste

Instructions: Assemble at least 2 hours ahead
*In a large bowl, combine the pasta salad ingredients
*In a separate bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together.
*Taste and add more oil, vinegar or seasonings if desired
*Pour dressing over pasta salad and gently but thoroughly mix.
*Refrigerate until ready to use.
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Monday, March 2, 2015

Apple Butter

I grew up with apple butter, which is really applesauce cooked for a very long time and spiced with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg!  It is delicious when smeared on toast, biscuits or scones.  I also enjoy using it as a flavoring agent for pork loin or pork tenderloin as it bakes in the oven.  I pour a bit of apple cider or apple juice in the roasting pan.   I cut slits in the pork  and press apple slices into the slits.  Then I spoon apple butter over the entire top surface of the meat and bake, covered at first and then uncovered for the last 30 minutes to let the apple butter carmelize on top.  Another exciting thing about apple butter is that it freezes beautifully---just waiting for your next apple butter celebration!   I hope you enjoy this recipe that was adapted from my friend who lives in Germany.  The original recipe came from  Enjoy!
6-7 lbs of apples  (I use a variety:  Granny Smith, Gala, Ambrosia, etc.)
2 cups brown sugar ( use less if you wish)
3 rounded teaspoons cinnamon (more or less if you wish)
1 teaspoon nutmeg (more or less if you wish)
2 rounded teaspoons cloves (more or less if you wish)
¾ cup apple cider or apple juice (if you add more it will be too runny)
Dash of salt

*Add apple cider to the base of your crock pot.
*Place peeled, and chopped apple pieces on top of liquid.
*Add desired amount of sugar.
*Add spices and salt.
*Stir to coat apples.
*Cook for 8 to 10 hours on low.   This makes your house smell exquisite!
*Stir periodically
*Remove the lid for the last hour to allow excess moisture to cook out
*Use as is for a chunkier consistency or place in a high powered blender (I use  a Ninja) and pulse until desired smoothness.
*Ladle into freezer safe containers and freeze or into jars to give as gifts or to keep in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
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Tomato Pie-Repost


I am on a quest for the most delicious tomato pie!   I think you will agree that I’ve found it in my adaptation of a Southern Living recipe (July 2012).  I will include the recipe  for the homemade pie crust although you can use a ready-made crust if you prefer.   Summer is a perfect time to experiment with using the abundance of wonderful tomatoes in many different forms.  Make homemade ketchup and salsa, add fresh tomatoes to pasta and sauces, casseroles and simply sliced on a sandwich or  serve alongside whatever you’ve made for supper.   I am very thankful for all the varieties I am able to find in the grocery store this time of year and of course at the local nurseries and farmer’s  markets.  Use red (of all types), yellow, orange and heirloom---as well as the beautiful green tomato (which also makes a scrumptious pie).

1 and ¼ cups flour
¼ cup Crisco, cut into pieces
4 T. cold butter,  cut into pieces
1 t. kosher salt
4 T. ice water
Tomatoes (of your choice), thinly sliced and drained on paper towels.  I usually use 6 to 8 medium sized tomatoes but if you are using a variety of types they could be different sizes.  Just experiment with what fits in your pie plate and suits your taste.
Kosher salt and Black pepper
1 small sweet onion, chopped
2 T. olive oil
Fresh herbs (of your choice),  chopped.  I use basil and sometimes a bit of parsley but use anything you like (dill, oregano and chives are also great).
1 cup swiss cheese (or gruyere)
½ cup sharp cheese
1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use olive oil variety)

For the crust
*Mix together the flour, Crisco, butter, salt and ice water in an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment, or a food processor, with your hands or with a pastry cutter.  Mixture should form a dough ball.  Add more water if too sticky.  Flatten the dough ball a bit, cover with plastic wrap.  Chill for 30 minutes.
*After 30 minutes, place on a lightly floured surface and roll out dough in a circle to about a 1/8 inch thickness.
*Carefully place crust into a pie plate.  Finish off edges of dough as desired.
*Place an aluminum foil lining over entire surface of crust, fill with pie weights or dried beans (to prevent bubbling up of crust).  Place on a baking sheet.
*Bake crust at 425 degrees for 20 minutes then remove weights and aluminum foil and bake for 5-10 more minutes or until lightly browned.    Cool.
*Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

For the filling
*Saute onion with olive oil
*Pat sliced and drained tomatoes dry with paper towels.
*Layer tomatoes, onion and herbs into cooled crust.  Sprinkle each layer with desired amount to salt and pepper.
*Stir together cheeses and mayonnaise.  Spread over pie.
*Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until lightly browned.  You may need to shield the edges of the pie with strips of aluminum foil.  Then remove the foil shield for last of cooking time.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Chicken Enchiladas

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My chicken enchiladas were a big hit with all my “big kids” last week!  Prepare the chicken anyway you wish to add to the mix.  I find that baking the chicken with a bit of olive oil and salt at 375 degrees is easiest for me and makes the kitchen smell really good!  I buy frozen, boneless chicken breasts—then thaw them in the microwave and cut them into equally-sized pieces before baking.  Then spray a 9 x  11 pyrex dish with PAM (olive oil), place the chicken pieces in the dish, lightly salt (if chicken is not pre-salted), and then drizzle each piece of chicken with olive oil.  Bake until each piece is cooked throughout, but not overdone/dry.    Enjoy these enchiladas for your next Tex-Mex  feist!

2 large cans/cartons  Hunts tomato sauce
Chili powder
10-12 small or 8-10 med/large soft flour tortillas
1 medium onion, diced
2 T. olive oil
One 8 ounce block of cream  cheese, softened
1 can/pouch  green enchilada sauce
2 cans/pouches red enchilada sauce(1 can/pouch reserved)
1 small can green chilies
¼ cup pickled hot banana peppers, chopped
¼ cup pickled hot banana pepper juice
4 cups cooked chicken, diced (baked or sautéed, etc.)
Salt/black pepper to taste
4 cups sharp cheddar (or Mexican cheddar)cheese, shredded

*Spray 11x13 pyrex dish with PAM.
*Spread   ½ large can/carton tomato sauce into dish

*Pour 1 and ½ can/carton  tomato sauce onto a cookie sheet with sides (or any large, flat dish) and spread over surface.
*Sprinkle chili powder and cumin (to taste) over entire surface of sauce on cookie sheet, stir.

*Saute onion in olive oil until translucent.

*Combine softened cream cheese, green enchilada sauce, 1 can/pouch red  enchilada sauce, green chilies, hot banana peppers, hot banana pepper juice, cooked chicken, salt, pepper and 2 cups cheese in a bowl and set aside until assembly.

To assemble:
*Lay a flour tortilla onto spiced tomato sauce on cookie sheet, then flip the tortilla over to coat both sides.
*Place a row of shredded cheese down center of tortilla.
*Place a row of chicken/enchilada sauce mixture on top of cheese- down center of tortilla.
*Roll the tortilla as tightly as possible and place, seam side down in pyrex dish.
*Repeat process until dish is full, placing the tortilla rolls as close together as possible.
*Pour 1 can/pouch red enchilada sauce over top of rolled tortillas.
*Sprinkle 2 cups cheese over top of enchiladas.
*Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

To make “garlic-free” enchiladas, just make your own enchilada sauce or substitute  1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 cup sour cream and ½ cup milk instead of the enchilada sauces in the recipe above.   Yummy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hamburger Soup

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Today is a blustery, rainy Fall day in Calgary so I thought I'd make some tortilla soup.  However I had beef stock instead of chicken stock on hand.  So---I thought I'd try my hand at making hamburger soup.  Here is the finished product with a "secret ingredient".  I'm going to serve it with skillet cornbread (the Pioneer Woman's recipe).  Enjoy!

1 carton beef stock
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 large can black beans (drained)
1--2 cups water
2 lbs. ground beef (browned and drained) *Use ground turkey or pork if you prefer.
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
3 large ribs of celery, chopped
1/2--1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1--2 cups cooked corn
1 large carrot, chopped
2 t. chili powder
1 t. cumen
2 t. black pepper
salt/pepper (to taste after cooking is finished)
1 cup of cooked quinoa or more if desired (secret ingredient)
1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped pickled hot banana peppers

*Saute onion, celery, pepper and carrot in 2 T. olive oil.
*Place all ingredients in a crock pot and cook for desired time.  All the ingredients are cooked---you just want them to have a chance  to blend well and to stay at serving temperature.
*Adjust seasonings as desired---adding other herbs  (such as thyme or more heat) if desired.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Black Bean Chili


Today we had our first real snow of the season---WHICH I LOVE!!  Yes, I’m one of THOSE people who actually love cold weather and snow—deal with it!  Anyway it inspired me to make a crock pot full of chili after church—and I have to say it was very well received by my crew.  My Mother and Grandmother made this delicious chili throughout my whole life.  I am so blessed to have been exposed to the beautiful legacy of the art of preparing fresh, from scratch—family meals.  I’m very thankful and I hope that my children and grandchildren will continue what my Grandmother  (and her Mother before her) started, by teaching their children how to cook and to have fellowship in the kitchen.  Have fun!

Ingredients: reduce amounts for a smaller batch
2 to 3 lbs. Lean ground  beef
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3 large cans of Hunt’s tomato sauce (or make your own sauce from fresh tomatoes)
1 large can diced tomatoes (or fresh)
1 to 2 cans of black beans or small Navy beans (or use dry beans that have been soaked and then cooked)
3 T. chili powder
3 t. black pepper
¼ cup sugar

*Saute ground beef and onion until beef is browned and onions are translucent.
Drain and rinse in hot water.
*Combine tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beans and seasonings in a  crock pot.  Add meat mixture to the sauce and beans.
* Cook for 2--4 hours (or less).
*Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.  Add more chili powder, hot sauce, red pepper flakes or Rotel tomatoes to make chili more spicey.
*As you serve, add your favorite chili toppings (sour cream, fritos, sharp cheese, etc.).