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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Apple-Pineapple Pie

The election made our household sad.  We had hopes for some actual hope and change.  So, when my husband also had a hard day at work the next day I wanted to cheer him up with a pie.  His favorite pie is apple, but I didn't have enough apples on hand so I went to the pantry for ideas.  That was pretty bare too - but I did have a can of pineapple chunks and thought  that apples and pineapple should be able to get along pretty well.  The resulting pie turned out great!  We all loved it, and we do feel better now!  If someone you know needs some comfort, serve them this pie warm with a little ice cream.  It's sure to brighten anybody's day.

Apple-Pineapple Pie

Dough for two crust pie
5 apples (almost any variety will work, I used a mix of Gala and Golden Delicious)
1 20-oz can of pineapple chunks in juice, drained except for 1-2 tablespoons of juice
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon butter

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Line pie plate with rolled out dough, and roll out dough for top of pie and set aside.
  • Peel and slice apples into a large bowl.  Add the mostly drained pineapple chunks.
  • Stir in the flour, sugar, and spices, and spoon into the pastry lined pie pan.  Dot with butter.
  • Top with pastry and flute edges and cut vents into the top.  Brush with cold water and sprinkle with sugar if desired.
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.
  • Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees and bake an additional 40 minutes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Moist and Easy Pumpkin Spice Cake

Yesterday was my husband's birthday.  And it came on a day with a nip of Autumn in the air.  The mountains outside the window are accented with red and orange and temperatures are definitely cooler.  He really likes the smells and flavors of Fall (apple, pumpkin, spice) so I wanted to honor "his" season with an appropriate cake.  I had some leftover pumpkin in the fridge from something I made last week, so started looking for pumpkin cake recipes.  The internet is overflowing with recipes for pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bread, but pumpkin CAKE seemed to be lacking.  Finally I found a  recipe that called for adding pumpkin and instant pudding mix to a cake mix.  This sounded good....except for the addition of even more sugar and chemicals to a mix.  I decided to try just adding the pumpkin to a cake mix.  Ding, ding, ding - it was a winner!  Here's the cake and how I made it (it seriously couldn't be easier or tastier!):

Moist and Easy Pumpkin Spice Cake

1 spice cake mix (I used the cheapie store brand)
1 cup pureed pumpkin
eggs, oil and water as specified on the cake mix box
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Grease and flour two 8 or 9 inch cake pans (I used 8 inch square pans) and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Blend all ingredients on low speed until moistened, then mix on medium speed for two minutes.
  • Divide batter evenly between the two cake pans, then bake for 30 minutes or until done.
  • Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then tip out.  Frost with maple buttercream icing when cooled.

Everybody at the party loved this cake.  It took all my willpower to eat only one piece.  So easy and soooo yummy!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Delicious Bran Muffins

Somehow I accumulated a few boxes of Raisin Bran.  I guess it was because it kept going on sale....then I got tired of eating it.  Several times I thought about using the cereal to make muffins, but my past experience with bran muffins hasn't been all that positive.  In an effort to make them extra healthy, most of the bran muffins I've been served were made with whole wheat flour - which left them kind of heavy and dry.  I finally decided that since the bran is providing a good dose of fiber, there would be no sin in making them with regular all purpose flour and they might turn out better.  I was right!  These were so moist and delicious that I had to fight off my 10 year-old son so that a batch of  muffins wouldn't be gone in one day.  Now he has started asking for these because he likes them so much.  I put them in a plastic bag in the freezer and we have a fast and easy breakfast on hectic mornings (30 seconds in the microwave thaws and warms them beautifully).  I make the muffins in standard muffin tins, for one dozen muffins.

Raisin Bran Muffins

2 cups Raisin Bran cereal
1 1/3 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Grease the BOTTOMS ONLY of 12 standard muffin cups with shortening, or spray with cooking spray.

Crush the Raisin Bran - I do this by putting it in a bowl and mashing it with a potato masher.  You can also put it in a bag and run a rolling pin over it several times.  Mix the crushed cereal with the milk and vanilla.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Mix in the egg and oil with a fork.  Then stir in the remaining ingredients just until everything is moistened.  Be sure not to overmix so that your muffins will be nice and tender.

Divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups, then bake for 20 minutes.

Let stand in the pan for a couple of minutes, then run a knife around the edge of each muffin and tip out of the pan.  These are delightful served warm!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cherry Cobbler by lantern light

It's been a busy summer with camping, visiting family, and the arrival of a new baby granddaughter.  It's also been an extra hot summer, and with no air conditioning in our house I haven't felt much like baking.  But on our July camping trip we enjoyed some delicious cherry cobbler prepared by my husband.  We aren't big fans of the overly sweet and chemical laden cobbler made by dumping a cake mix on top of pie filling or fruit in a Dutch oven, so this is the way we prepare it like a "real" cobbler.  Still super easy and delicious.  A spray of whipped cream tops it off wonderfully.

You can make this cobbler with either prepared pie filling or bottled/canned fruit. Just oil the Dutch oven and dump in the amount or fruit or pie filling you want.  (On this trip there were only four of us so we just did one can of cherry pie filling.....but wished we had doubled that!)  Next, prepare a recipe of biscuit dough with 1/2 cup of sugar, or more if you want it sweeter, and a teaspoon or two of cinnamon.  Add extra milk to make the dough a consistency that will drop easily from a spoon.  You can also use a biscuit mix, adding the sugar and cinnamon and extra milk.  Top the fruit with the sweetened biscuit topping.  Then  just cook in a medium Dutch oven until the biscuit topping is cooked through.

Sorry I don't have a more "official" recipe - but isn't improvising a lot of the fun of cooking while camping?

Monday, June 18, 2012

A little Trifle for Dad

For most of the years of my marriage (and there have been many), I have prepared a meal and pie for my dad and/or father-in-law.  My husband's father passed away about three years ago, and my dad is far away in The Philippines this year, so the father of my children had Father's Day all to himself this year.  Since everything else was different about the holiday this time, I went all the way with the changes and prepared a different kind of meal (instead of a cookout) and a different dessert. My husband loves Trifle, so I fixed this favorite for him.  It's easy and fun to make, and really pretty served in a glass bowl.  It's fun to experiment with different kinds of berries and fruit, and different cake and pudding flavors.  The possibilities are endless, as they say!


1 9-inch yellow, white or pound cake; baked and cooled

1 package of vanilla pudding, prepared, or a recipe for vanilla pudding cooked and cooled

2 quarts strawberries, hulled and cut in half, sprinkled with sugar and allowed to juice for 15-20 minutes or so

2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup whipping cream

  • Cut the cake into cubes, approximately 2 inches square (nothing about this recipe has to be exact)
  • Beat the cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, then slowly add the whipping cream.  Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until light and fluffy.
  • Arrange cake cubes in the bottom of the bowl so that they cover completely.
  • Drizzle half of the juice from the strawberries over the cake cubes.
  • Spoon half the pudding on the cake cubes.
  • Arrange about half the strawberries over the cake.
  • Spoon half the cream cheese mixture over the berries in the bowl.
  • Repeat the layers, and garnish top with a few strawberries.
  • Refrigerate for at least an hour.
  • Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Strawberry Pie nights

Back in the summer of 1981 I was very pregnant and enjoying the last of the time my husband and I would have together to just do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted (well, within the constraints of  our "starving college student" budget).  He was working at the campus radio station, and many nights I would go over there with a pot full of dinner so we could eat together when he had a break.  When he got off at midnight we sometimes went to JB's for a treat.  JB's was the only restaurant in town that was open late at night back then.  The next summer, we had a cute little baby girl who we took along on these middle of the night outings.  It turned out that Cara didn't actually cramp our style at all.  Often our friends Jim and Neil were with us for those middle of the night snack attacks....and in the spring we all usually ordered the strawberry pie.

Strawberry pie still reminds me of those carefree nights when we laughed a lot and ingested too much pie and too many chocolate milkshakes.  I miss the company we had on those cool summer nights in Logan, but I am no longer so fond of those restaurant strawberry pies covered with plastic-like glaze.  Now I make it "all natural", and it's delicious.  Give this easy and yummy pie a try this summer.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

1 9-inch baked pie shell
2 quarts strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch

  • Separate the "prettiest" strawberries (about half of them) to put into the pie shell whole or halved, depending on how big they are.  Remove the stems from the remaining strawberries and smash them up with a fork or potato masher until they are juicy mush.
  • Add the sugar and cornstarch to the mashed up strawberries and heat on medium, stirring often, until the mixture is thick and boils.  Let cool.
  • Remove the stems from the remaining strawberries and arrange them in the pie shell.  You can leave small strawberries whole, but cut large ones in half.
  • Cover with the cooked strawberry mixture and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rhubarb Pie from Sweety Pies

My son Trevor and his wife Ali are expecting their first baby, a girl, this summer.  I'm pretty excited about getting another granddaughter, especially since she'll live much closer than my other grandbabies.  I should be able to see her more often than every few months!  Years ago I taught natural birth classes, and really enjoyed it, but after I joined the "workforce" in 1996 I stopped - there just wasn't time, especially since I didn't charge enough money to really make it worth my time.  After looking at the options in our community, Trevor and Ali asked if I would do a birthing class for them.  This week we started with a little intro and discussed what they want to learn. But the first thing we did was enjoy a dinner of chicken stir fry on the front porch, and finished off with some rhubarb pie.

This recipe comes from the fun book my daughter Cara gave me for my birthday last year.  The pie was great with freshly whipped cream, and would also be great warm with ice cream.  This one is for people who enjoy the sweet-tart flavor of rhubarb.  We loved it.

Miss Maude McCracken's Rhubarb Pie (from Sweety Pies by Patty Pinner)

One 9-inch single pie crust, rolled out, fitted into a pie plate, and edge trimmed and crimped.
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/4 cup orange juice (I used the juice of one large orange)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (I used regular, salted butter with great results)
4 cups trimmed red rhubarb stalks, sliced 1 inch thick (we prefer smaller chunks of rhubarb, I cut it into 1/2 inch slices)

Crumb topping
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened (I used regular butter and omitted the salt)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Prepare the pie crust and set aside.
Combine the sugar, flour, and cloves in a medium-size, heavy saucepan and whisk until well blended.  Stir in the orange rind and juice, and the butter.  Cook over low to medium heat, stirring, until thickened and bubbly, then add the rhubarb.  Stir to coat the rhubarb, then remove from the heat and spoon the filling into the crust.  Place in the oven and bake until the rhubarb is tender and the juice bubbles, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the crumb topping.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar.  Add the butter and, using your fingertips, work it into the dry mixture until pea-sized crumbs form.

Take the pie out of the oven and sprinkle evenly with the topping.  Return to the oven and bake until the topping is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spicy Tamale Pie

This is a very popular casserole at my house.  I just discovered a cool ingredient to make it even better - spicy olives!  Of course regular olives are the usual in this recipe, but if you can find these in your grocery store give them a try to make this dish a little more unique.  (Sorry about the picture quality - I'm still having to depend on my cell phone for photos until I can save up enough money for a real camera).

This is dish is yummy served with sour cream.


1 pound lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 chopped bell peppers (I like to use one green and one red)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
1 12-oz can corn
1 small can sliced olives
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground red pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups cold water

  • Cook ground beef, onion, peppers and garlic until the meat is browned.  Stir in the tomatoes, corn, olives, sugar and spices and simmer until thickened (about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally.  Add the cheese and stir until it is melted.
  • While meat mixture simmers, stir the cornmeal and 1/2 teaspoon salt into the cold water in a saucepan.  Heat to boiling, cook and stir until thickened (about 1 minute).  
  • Pour the hot meat mixture into a two quart casserole and top with the cornmeal mixture.  
  • Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Easy and moist Lemon Bundt Cake

The birthday tradition where my husband works is to draw names at the beginning of each year to "sponsor" somebody's special day.  At staff meeting the week of their birthday, the responsible person brings a treat to share with everyone for a birthday celebration.  My husband drew Brian's name and needed a good treat to take to work.  Brian requested something with "tart fruit" and asked that my husband NOT make it - since his cooking usually involves Spam.  So I made this moist and delicious lemon bundt cake....but swore my husband to secrecy about the convenience foods used in the recipe!  Let Brian think I had to have some serious mad baking skills to make this.

Lemon Bundt Cake

For the cake:
1 package lemon cake mix
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup warm water
4 eggs
3 oz. package lemon gelatin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
zest of one lemon
3/4 cup sour cream

For the glaze:
2/3 cup orange juice
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup powdered sugar

  • Prepare a bundt cake pan by coating with shortening and dusting with flour.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Combine all cake ingredients in mixing bowl.  Blend to moisten, then beat for two minutes.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  • Combine glaze ingredients in a small pan and bring to a boil, then simmer 5 minutes.  Let cool 10 minutes.
  • Return the cake to the cake pan,  Poke holes all over the bottom of the cake with a toothpick or fork, then spoon or brush about half the glaze onto the bottom of the cake.  Invert cake onto a plate and poke holes all over the top, then brush or pour remaining glaze all over the cake.
  • Garnish with lemon slices and let cool completely before serving.  Can be served with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Reminiscing...looking back as well as looking forward - with Peanut Butter Fingers

When I was a kid we didn't have "lunch ladies" in our school cafeteria.  We had COOKS.  Sturdy ladies in large aprons who filled the halls of the school with the aroma of rolls baking all morning and who whipped real potatoes in a huge mixer that stood on the floor.  There were no pre-packaged chicken nuggets getting heated up and thrown on a plastic tray, we had real food served up on glass plates that made a loud crash if you were the poor kid having a bad day who dropped his tray on the floor.  I was reminiscing about school lunch after I found a recipe for Peanut Butter Fingers while looking for ideas to make a dessert for a family function.  Peanut Butter Fingers were one of the home made treats we often had beside our potatoes and hamburger gravy or made from scratch chili, and once I made these treats it really took me back to the school cafeteria.

The family function I was baking for today is my parent's mission farewell.  Tomorrow after church they will have a houseful of people at their house for lunch and to tell them goodbye as they embark on a big adventure together.  They'll be going to Quezon City in the Philippines for 18 months to serve an LDS mission.  When I said I would bring dessert for this event I thought it was going to be mainly for our family, but as time went on and my mother invited more and more people I had to find something to feed over fifty people.  A couple of batches of these treats are what I made, since each tray can be cut into more than 30 cookies  (depending on how big you want to make them).

As I think about my parents going so far away for so long I again feel like the awkward and skinny redhead who found comfort in those old fashioned school lunches.  Just as I was strengthened by some of the rejection and loneliness every shy kid goes through, I will grow through the separation from my parents and be enriched by their experiences.

Make these peanut butter treats and think back on your own school days.  And give your parents a hug.


3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
4+ tablespoons milk

  • Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the peanut butter.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Add vanilla, baking soda and salt.  Add the four and oats and mix well.
  • Pat dough evenly into a greased 15 inch x 10 inchx 1 inch baking pan (jelly roll pan or deep cookie sheet with sides).
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 18 minutes.  Take out of the oven and immediately sprinkle with the chocolate chips.  Return to the oven for two minutes.  Remove from oven again and let cool two minutes.  Spread the softened chocolate chips evenly over the top.
  • For glaze, beat the peanut butter and sugar.  Add enough milk to make a spreading consistency.  Spread over the warm bars.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A non-pie treat for National Pie Day

National Pie Day should be a day of pie baking, right?  But instead I spent today at the Utah Capitol building with my husband and am going to the movies with three of my girls in the evening - so there's no pie making around here today.  But I would like to share this fast and easy treat for anybody who needs a good sugar injection on a snowy day.   I took it to an evening of sewing at My Girlfriend's Quilt Shoppe in Logan, Utah and the ladies there really liked it.

Peanut butter and Butterscotch Marshmallow Treats

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 bag butterscotch baking chips
1 stick butter
1 bag miniature marshmallows (colored are more fun than plain white - but you can use either)

Melt the peanut butter, chips and butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Stir while melting and until the mixture is smooth. 

Let cool for 15 minutes (so that the marshmallows won't melt).

Spread into a greased 9x13 pan.

Refrigerate until set.  Ideally this will be at least a couple of hours....if you can wait that long!