Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

Photo credit:  Jim McQuire:  Pumpkins in Snow

I was looking for a new recipe for dessert this Thanksgiving.
I came across this one, which I have tweaked a bit.
It is like those “Dump Cakes” of the 1970’s.  I have the one in the oven right now.   Wish you could smell it baking

Pumpkin Dump Cake

1 29 ounce can Libby’s canned pumpkin
1 box yellow cake mix, any brand
1 cup melted butter

Prepare the pumpkin according to label instructions, using only one can of evaporated milk.  I also used only 1 cup sugar as the cake mix is very sweet.  Pour the pumpkin mixture into a greased 13 x 9 pan.  I recommend using Baker’s Joy or similar product.  Sprinkle the dry cake mix evenly over the top of the pumpkin mixture, then carefully drizzle the melted butter over the cake mix.

You can sprinkle with 1 cup chopped nuts if you wish, but our extended family is crazy enough already.

Bake at 325 for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.  When completely cooled top servings with real whipped cream.  Refrigerate any leftovers….what leftovers?

When I serve this, I will warm it up slightly, I think it is better slightly warmed.



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This is one of those recipes that you find on the back of the box of sugar. 
I have a fabulous cook book that I bought 20 years ago called:
Best Recipes From the backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars.  by Cecil Dyer 1989

Since it is nearly Thanksgiving in the States, I thought it was time for another great recipe with pecans. 
I’m the only one who likes pecans in my family so I’m glad these freeze well. 

1 cup packed C & H Pure Cane Golden Brown Sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees

Grease 8 x 8 x 2 inch baking dish.  In medium bowl, beat sugar and shortening until fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into mixture.  Stir in nuts.  Spread batter in baking dish.  Bake 25 minutes.  Cut into 2×1 inch bars. Makes 2 1/2 dozen.  Make a fresh pot of coffee – I’ll be right over!

Thanks to Family Fun Magazine for the photo and C & H Pure cane sugar for the recipe.

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I received this as an email in 2003. 
It’s so good, it bears repeating. 

This is the fairy tale that we should have been reading as little girls! 
(My hubby is the exception.)

Once upon a time in a far away land, a beautiful, independent, self-assured princess happened upon a frog as she sat contemplating ecological issues on the shores of an unpolluted pond in a verdant meadow near her castle. 
The frog hopped into the princess’ lap and said:  Elegant lady, I was once a handsome prince, until an evil witch cast a spell upon me.  One kiss from you however, and I will turn back into the dapper, young prince that I am.  Then my sweet, we can marry and setup housekeeping in your castle, with my mother.  There you can prepare my meals, clean my clothes, bear my children, and forever feel grateful and happy doing so. 
That night,
as the princess dined sumptuously
on a repast of lightly sauted frog legs,
seasoned in a white wine cream sauce with basil and garlic,
she chuckled and thought to herself…..
I don’t f***ing think so!

Hope the frog was a narcissist…it would be a just ending.

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What is my brother going to say when he gets home to find that his 8 year old son is growing like a weed and is eating meat all of a sudden? 
He has turned into a carnivore overnight.

Nephew has been big on salads since he was 2.  He was the only toddler I’ve ever seen who would eat a tossed salads for dinner.  Make sure there was ranch dressing and croutons and he was happy. Don’t worry, he got enough protein; we would sneak in chicken and nephew would even eat a homemade taco salad from time to time. When I was visiting and we would eat out, my brother would order his own salad with blue cheese dressing just to keep his son out of his salad. 

My brother and SIL left me with a well stocked pantry…no matter, I knew how to get to Winco.  (I think that’s how it’s spelled.)
Great market BTW.  I love their ready to grind coffee beans.  I always go home with several pounds of it in my luggage. 

Sam and my niece wanted steak the first night, so we grilled on the barbecue.  Nephew ate half my steak.  I looked at him and thought “who are you and what did you do with my nephew?” 
Since they left on their trip we’ve had so much beef, I don’t know what I’m going to tell my brother. 
Sam had been suffering from withdrawals from not having In & Out double doubles, so I’ve been making them.  If we haven’t had steak, we’ve had burgers or ribs.  I did manage to talk them into a chicken dish I’ve made for years; and they liked it so well I’ve made it twice for them. 
Besides the growing food budget, nephew has been growing too.  I swear he’s 2 inches taller.

This is the chicken dish I’ve made twice now.  The recipe is from Weight Watchers Quick Start Plus Cookbook

We first had it when we were visiting relatives in Northern CA.  It was so good that copied down the recipe with an aunt while the rest of the family went outside to watch the deer make their evening visit to the vegetable garden. 

Orange Chicken –

IMG2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons reduced-calorie margarine…seriously, I use 3 tablespoons butter
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup thawed frozen concentrated orange juice (no sugar added)
2 chicken broth bouillon cubes (No MSG)
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (green onions)
1 cup canned mandarin orange sections (no sugar), heated

In a 10 inch skillet heat butter until hot.  Add chicken and cook until browned on both sides.  Remove from skillet and set aside.  
In the same  skillet cook mushrooms over high heat, stirring occasionally, until all liquid has evaporated; sprinkle mushrooms with flour and stir quickly to combine .  Gradually stir in water;  add orange juice and bouillon cubes and, stirring constantly, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, add chicken and let simmer for about 3 minutes to allow flavors to mingle.  Serve chicken over rice sprinkled with scallions and topped with orange sections.
Cook’s notes: 
Besides using butter, I like to prepare this with more sauce;  I usually double the sauce recipe, because it is so good over left over rice the next day.  If you are feeding more than 4 people then you just need to plan accordingly.  When I visit my family, I generally cook meals for them in advance and freeze the dishes.  When they have late meetings and lots of homework, my SIL only needs to pop one into the oven.  She has this dish frozen in individual servings for a crazy night in the fall. 




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Early this morning, I thought that I would go out and pick berries for breakfast for me and the kids.  My SIL has blackberry bushes around two sides of the property.  A few summers back the berries were abundant.  Last year, the harvest was very late; we were already back in CA by the time they were ripe. 


An hour and a few thorn scratches later, ( I had gloves) I had no berries. 
It’s still too early I guess, but you can’t blame not enough sunny days, it hasn’t rained here in like a month. 
The blue berry bush was decimated last year by one of the dogs.  He literally – Ate. The. Bush. 
So, it’s off to the front of the house where the strawberries are planted. 


No go.  Seems that Mr. & Mrs. Mallard have made a temporary residence in the middle of the strawberry patch.  Judging by the muddy footprints across the flagstones, the raccoons beat me to all the juicy red diamonds anyway.   

Back in the house the children were still asleep.  Lucky for me my SIL had a bag of mixed berries in the deep freeze. 
Try this recipe with berries from the freezer, fresh from the market/ produce stand…or if you’re lucky enough…from your own yard. 

 Berry Clafouti

3 eggs
1 and a  1/4 cups milk or half and half
2/3 cup flour
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 and a 1/2 cup berries

Beat eggs until foamy.  Add everything else except the berries.  Beat until smooth.  Pour into a buttered 9 inch quiche dish. 
Top batter with the berries.  Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes until knife comes out clean. 
Let stand 15 minutes.  It has a custard consistency, and what’s more the kids eat it.

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Can I make ganache with half & half rather than cream? 

That’s a good question!  Everyone is trying to cut back on the fat and calories these days. 
I would reccomend that you just make 1/2 the recipe (See Chocolate Ganche Cake post) and see if the ganache comes out to the consistency that you are hoping for. 
Be sure that you still use all high quality ingredients. 
Let me know how it comes out! 

What can you make using leftover ganache? 

This is another question that came from the search engine terms. 
I have a container of this very nectar in my refrigerator. 
Here are some ideas: 

1.  Carefully re-heat and use for dipping the best of the season fresh strawberries.  Chill & consume ASAP!  

2.  Place the container of left over ganache in the freezer for a few minutes. 
While it is chillin’, melt some dark or milk chocolate.  Roll spoonfuls of the ganache into balls. (You can use a melon baller.)  Carefully dip in the melted chocolate, then roll chopped nuts, or powdered cocoa, if you desire.  Place on wax paper and chill. Enjoy on the 4th of July- while the kids are having S’mores…the grownups can indulge in these little treats.

3.  If you have enough leftover you can use as the filling in the center of a layer cake. 

4.  And – Finally my personal favorite way of using up chocolate ganache…get a spoon, the ganache and the turn on the latest episode of True Blood and enjoy while watching Bill and Eric. 
I hear the theme song even as we speak.

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Last month I purchased a vat of Nestle’s Chocolate Chip Cookie dough from Costco. 
Sometimes I want to make cookies for my students and I don’t always have time to make them from ‘scratch.’ 
I heard your gasps of horror at the thought of me buying store bought cookie dough…..
When students ask me if I made them, I always say “Yes!” 
(I did make them…I stood there in front of a 350 degree oven…plopping dough on cookie sheets…I made them!) 
They are always very appreciative and the cookies are inhaled in no time. 

I didn’t have time to use all the batter before graduation so I thought I would freeze the rest of the dough to use during the summer.  
On Friday, I received a phone call and email telling me that the cookie dough I bought could be contaminated with salmonella. 
I was to return the unused portion to the store for a full refund and I should also be expecting an official letter. 

While I appreciate this benefit of their customer service dept, it got me thinking…do I really want someone watching what I’m buying? 
Is there someone sitting in their purchasing department making notations about the things I buy? 
They are probably wondering about the decline in my wine (blackberry Merlot) and yellow highlighter purchases. 
I no longer have that “yellow nicotine index finger.” 

Do they think I buy too many “bad carbs” and not enough salad? 
Hey the ice cream I bought was “Skinny Cow.” 
(Which isn’t bad…BTW.)
Big Brother should appreciate how much $$$ I spend in their photo department & don’t even get me started on how many books I’ve bought. 

As I drove to Costco to return my poisonous cookie dough…I thought about what else I buy.  
Analgesics…Prolesec….bagels…cream cheese…salmon…a container of salad for $2.00…..bread…spinach dip…that chicken salad I am addicted to….salmonella laced cookie dough. 
Quite frankly, I think my purchases cry out “BORING!” 

Next time, maybe I need to mix it up a little…
I’m thinking I might load up my cart with kitty litter, Vaseline, condoms, extra virgin olive oil, latex gloves, Dexter on Blue Ray…and a case of fuel injection cleaner.

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