Apple Expert Shares Favorite Recipe

I’ve invited my good friend, Lee Jackson, to share one of her favorite apple recipes with you. Lots of apples are now available at orchards and stores, so this recipe will help you know what to do with all those apples.

The recipe is from her newly revised apple cookbook, From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers, which just won a first place cookbook award from Midwest Independent Publishers Association. Bookmark this recipe and serve it for Thanksgiving or any special time. You can see this recipe and many, many more at

Glazed Dutch Apple Cake

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups apples, unpeeled, but diced
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup nuts, chopped

1 cups apple juice

In mixing bowl, place diced apples and sugar. Let stand for 15 minutes for the apples to become moist. Then stir in eggs, oil, dry ingredients and vanilla. Blend in nuts. Pour into greased and floured angel food cake pan or Bundt pan.

Bake at 350 degree F. for 50-60 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes, then invert on serving plate. Prick cake with toothpick and pour Hot Glaze over cake. Serve warm or cold.

Hot Glaze: Boil 2 cups apple juice over medium heat until it is reduced to 1 cup. Have an adult pour while hot glaze over cake.

This will make about 24 servings, good for a large holiday gathering.

Mac and Cheese, the Comfort Food

No matter how young or old you are, everyone cherishes comfort food. What is “comfort food”, you ask? This is classic home-cooked food that is prepared and enjoyed regularly throughout the year. It is usually the food most requested by the family.

In most homes there are different favorites for each season. Springtime might bring to mind roasted herb-crusted chicken, steamed baby peas and carrots and strawberry pie. Bar-b-q chicken, grilled hamburgers, and potato salad make us savor the thoughts of summer picnics in the park.

September and back-to-school brings a new order to cooking. Autumn craves harvest classics, like roasted vegetables, candied carrots, butternut squash soup and pumpkin or apple pie for dessert. Cold winters are filled with rustic beef stew, hot, steamy soups, and a variety of casseroles with warm crispy bread fresh from the oven.

It is the general feeling of a lovingly cooked meal that creates fond memories of home cooked comfort food. There is as much fun in preparing a treasured recipe as in eating the finished product.

As a ’round the year classic, nothing says comfort food like macaroni and cheese. And I’m not referring to the kind you find in a box! If you haven’t eaten homemade macaroni and cheese you are in for a real treat. This easy meal can be dressed up for company by mixing in gourmet cheeses or made heartier by adding cooked chicken and peas. But for the real deal try this:

Homemade Mac & Cheese

1 pound  elbow or other medium size pasta
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
(a mix of sharp and mild cheeses is best)
1/2 cup butter
5 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, optional
4 cups of milk

Follow package directions when cooking the pasta. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and seasonings. In an oven-safe large pot, add butter, melting it on low. Next, stir in the flour mixture. Pour in the milk, stirring constantly. Add the cheese and cook over low heat until the cheese is melted. Add in pasta and stir until completely coated. Bake in oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  For a nice crisp topping turn oven to a low broil for 3-5 minutes, but watch carefully.

Serves 8-10

To add a special topping, crumble 12-16 round butter crackers and sprinkle over the top before baking.

Serve with a crisp green salad and you are ready for homemade comfort food goodness!

Speaking of Breakfast…

Since the last post had to do with breakfast, here is a “warmer upper” super breakfast recipe idea.

Best French Toast

4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

8 slices bread ( use the firmest, densest bread you have)

Wash eggs and break them into small shallow bowl. Beat with egg beater. Add milk and vanilla and beat again.

In a fry pan over medium heat, melt butter (ask adult to help).

Soak each slice in the egg/milk mixture until each is thoroughly saturated. Brown bread in fry pan about 4 minutes on each side. It should be a nice brown color.

Serve with the traditional butter and maple syrup or add sliced strawberries in their juice and powdered sugar or any food combination.

Makes 8 slices of French toast.

Enjoy! This is a good way to start the day.

Are You a Breakfast Skipper?

It’s late and the bus is coming. “But you didn’t eat anything?”, your Mom yells. “I don’t have time,” you reply, “I’ll grab something from the machine at school”.

Is this how your morning goes?

You’ve heard it said that breakfast is an important meal of the day. It should give your body at least a third of the food needed every day.

If you don’t enjoy typical breakfasts of cereal and milk, toast, fruit, eggs or ham or bacon, what can you eat?

Any food that is good for other times of day is good for breakfast. You don’t have to be a breakfast skipper. Try some of these:

  • Grilled cheese sandwich and orange juice
  • Soup and sandwich and milk
  • Fruit smoothie and toast
  • Pasta salad, crackers, and cheese
  • Granola and yogurt and hot chocolate
  • Pizza and milk
  • Crackers and cheese and fruit
  • Muffin and fruit
  • Banana bread and milk
  • Frozen home-made whole-grain pancakes and milk
  • Stir fried veggies and milk
  • Any leftovers from supper, such as cold chicken and salad

The night before, think what you might have available for breakfast. Ask your Mom or see what you could have in the morning. Maybe even set the table. Having good quality food to eat before school really makes a difference in the way you will feel and look.

No-Sugar Cookie Recipe

Hi gang!

I couldn’t wait to get started collecting recipes. Today I want to share one of my favorite recipes. It’s so easy because you mix it up in the saucepan and it makes enough for a small family or for a few friends.

It’s called: Look Mom – No-Sugar Date Bars

1 cup dates
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cut dates into small pieces using kitchen scissors or, depending upon your age, a knife and cutting board. Make sure the dates do not have pits in them. If they do, take out the pits first before cutting.

In medium size saucepan, boil dates and water for 5 minutes. Watch this carefully so the dates don’t scorch. The dates should be softened and look like applesauce, only darker. Add butter. Mix and set aside to cool.

Add eggs and vanilla to cooled mixture in saucepan. Measure flour, baking soda, and salt. Add these dry ingredients to pan mixture. Stir in nuts.

Spread in greased 7 x 11-inch pan and bake in 350 degrees F oven for 20-23 minutes.

Cut into 15 bars.

For a nice variation, add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg to flour mixture.

Dates are loaded with potassium and phosphorus and have 230 calories per 10 dates.

I like this recipe because it has a nice mild sweet flavor without the sugar, and the nuts give it a nice crunchy texture. I made this a few weeks ago when my neighbors dropped over with their two young boys. I served it with ice cream, though, which did add to the sugar content of these refreshments.

Now I am waiting to hear about some of your favorite foods and recipes. I hope you will flood my “Comments” box with lots of your favorites. Or, if you have made some of the recipes here in this blog, I would like to hear your comments, too. I am also open to hearing about any questions you have about cooking.

School Morning Muffins

With school well underway, there continues to be the challenge of coming up with quick and easy breakfast ideas. Here is a muffin recipe that you make once and bake fresh any time in the next several weeks. This is because the recipe is really huge.

It makes 52 muffins, but you don’t have to make them all at once. The batter can keep in the refrigerator in a tightly covered bowl for up to six weeks. You bake only the number of muffins you want – one muffin or several at a a time.

Six Week Muffins

1 (15 oz) package bran flakes with raisins
5 cups flour
5 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
4 cups buttermilk
Nuts, if desired

In a very large mixing bowl, combine cereal, flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Beat eggs in another bowl. Add oil to eggs. Gradually add oil-egg mixture and buttermilk to dry ingredients. Stir only until dry ingredients are moistened. Batter will be stiff.

To bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease muffin cups or use paper liners in muffins cups. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake about 15 minutes, or until muffins are lightly browned and spring back when lightly touched.

Muffins are always best served hot. Serve them with fresh fruit and a glass of milk. This is a good way to start the school day – or any day.

Food and An Evening in Tuscany

The invitation read: “You’re Invited to an Evening in Tuscany.” No, I did not go to Italy for dinner but enjoyed a glorious evening in the U.S.A. celebrating food from that country.  I believe it was the best Italian food this side of  the Mediterranean.

Tuscany is one of twenty regions in Italy. It is located north of Rome and south of Genoa. It has mountains to the north and east and is bordered by the Tyrrhenian Sea on the west.  Florence and Pisa are two of its major cities.

What kind of food comes to mind when you think of Italian dishes? Yes, we had pasta and more.

I want to give you just a small sampling of our menu:

Tray of assorted antipasti
Shrimp a la aglio

Sonoma Salad with Coriander
Rosemary Focaccia
Tuscan cod and mussels in light vegetable broth
Mediterranean stuffed chicken
Lemon Orzo
Zucchini with sweet peppers and Feta
Roasted asparagus parmesan
Puttanesca sauce with fresh pasta and cheese
Frozen fruit sorbet with biscotti

Enjoying wonderful food with good friends is a special treat to be cherished.

Perhaps the chefs will give me one of their recipes and then I will be happy to share this with you. In the meantime, think of coming into  a house filled with the smells of bread baking and sauces simmering on the stove. Then sitting down to a meal that has been cooked a long time. You are not hurrying through your meal but leisurely enjoying the food and the people around you. To me, that is really a happy meal.

Memorial Day Brunch

The Chef attended a wonderful brunch with friends yesterday. As you may know, a brunch is a cross between a breakfast and a lunch.

The menu for this 9 a.m. morning meal went like this:

Fresh squeezed orange juice
Medley of mixed fruit
Bacon Quiche (yes, men eat and enjoy quiches, too!)
Raspberry Coffee Cake

Cold juice was served in goblets, which added a festive touch. The main entree for the brunch was the quiche, served hot out of the oven. This is an egg dish with a pastry crust. Tender scones, served in a basket, had a melt-in-the mouth texture. With its bright red raspberry filling, the coffee cake was the perfect ending to the meal.

The food, combined with good company and conversation, made this a memorable morning. Sitting on the deck with the warm breeze blowing was most relaxing.

Chef’s Day-Off From Cooking

The chef had the day-off but still couldn’t stay away from the kitchen! What a great day it was – we were invited for a cookout and it was most delicious. This was the menu:

Grilled chicken breast wrapped in bacon

Quartered small red potatoes flavored with herbs and spices

Steamed asparagus with mozzarella cheese

Spinach salad with orange wedges

Onion bread

Strawberry shortcake

Iced tea and water

I provided the spinach salad. I’ll post the recipe tomorrow. Right now I have a big dinner I’m preparing for but I’ll get back to you shortly.