Monthly Archives: January 2014

Quick Chocolate Pie

The name of this pie might be a misnomer; it is only chocolate if you include chocolate chips in the making. Otherwise it could be a peanut butter pie, or even a cinnamon pie; it all depends on what chips you use. This picture of the pie is how it looks before you decorate it; actually, I goofed in making it and used a 10 inch pie plate instead of the called for 9 inch, and as a result there is a gap between the crust and the filling.

Quick Choco 001

This is a very simple recipe; the only time you have to use the oven is to bake the pie shell. The pie is given body through freezing the filling.

I got this recipe from James Adams, my son-in-law. Quite often when we have a pot-luck get together, he will bring a version of this pie. I got the recipe from him for the version of the pie he brought to our Thanksgiving get together; He names this one a Mexican pie since it has both chocolate and cinnamon- a couple of the tastes of Mexico.

The comments after the title of the pie are my paraphrasing of what James told me when he gave me the recipe.

Quick Chocolate Pie

(James Adams)
This is a universal recipe; I call it that because it is easy to swap out ingredients for different effects. Using all 4 ounces of chips as sweet chocolate and no extract, you get the original recipe which is a good chocolate pie. The pie we had at Thanksgiving is what I call a Mexican version and is as printed below; it uses only half the chocolate chips and then replaces the other half with cinnamon chips, and added some almond extract for flavoring. I have also made it with mint chocolate chips, and with peanut butter chips. I have always used some kind of oreo/graham cracker crust, but I’m certain a conventional crust would work just as well. James

Ingredients

  • 1 (9 inch) baked pie shell
  • 2 ounces sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 ounces cinnamon chips
  • 1/3 cup milk,- divided
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, -softened
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip, -thawed

Directions

In a sauce pan, heat the chips and 2 Tablespoons of the milk over low heat until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth.

In a small mixer bowl, beat the sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Add the remaining milk and the melted chip mixture; beat until smooth. Fold in the Cool Whip.

Spoon into the pie shell. Freeze.

While James points us to a crumb pie crust, here is my suggestion for making one.

Ingredients

  • 9 chocolate graham crackers, -(one sleeve)
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, -melted

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a food processor, place the graham crackers and nuts. Pulse until they are fine. Add the melted butter and process until everything is moist.

Press into a 9 inch pie plate and cook for about 10 minutes.

Cool.


I decided to use the skills I am learning for cake decorating and to pipe Creme Chantilly (whip cream) on the top of the pie. Here is what that looks like.

Quick Choco 002

Impossible Pumpkin Pie

I can remember a couple decades ago when Bisquick published a series of recipes all with the word “Impossible” in the title. This is one of those for making a pumpkin pie. It is interesting in that the pie is not made with an explicit crust. Again, the recipe is simple, and easy to make. I see only a couple ingredients that might not already be in your pantry.

impossible 007

Impossible Pumpkin Pie

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Bisquick baking mix
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 13 oz. evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 16 oz. canned pumpkin
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ pie plate. Beat all ingredients until smooth, 1 minute in blender on high.

Pour into pie plate. Bake until knife inserted in center comes our clean, 50-55 minutes. Garnish with whip cream, if desired.

After the pie was baked, I piped the whip cream as suggested in the recipe. It really makes an attractive pie, and no one will realize that it was so simple to make.

Margaret’s Pecan Pie

This recipe is simple and easy to make; it actually makes two 8-9 inch pies, but then with the good taste, you might need the extra pie.

pecan pie 006

Margaret was Marlys’s step-mother, and grew up on a ranch in western Texas. Her mother taught her to cook, and all her recipes are fairly simple and straight forward. Mother and daughter use to cook for all the cow-hands, so there was always lots of very simple foods. Margaret passed many of those recipes on to Marlys. Again, I think you will find this recipe simple, easy to make, but with all the taste that the cow-hands enjoyed.

Margaret’s Pecan Pie

(Margaret McBryde)

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups dark Karo (1 bottle)
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 pie crusts/shells
  • 3 cups pecans, either halves or chopped

Mix together well sugar, eggs, Karo, butter and vanilla. Into two raw (unbaked) pie shells put the pecans (1 1/2 cup in each shell).

Pour filling over nuts, making sure nuts are soaked. Bake 350 degrees for 40 – 45 minutes or until set.

Curry Winter Squash Soup

Last year, when I was making my favorite soups, I knew that I wanted to give you this recipe. I just remade myself a batch, and I have to say that the kitchen aroma was almost enough to sell me on this recipe. The aroma of the dry sauted curry is heavenly. And of course, the soup isn’t bad itself.

Curry Winter Squash 4

When I knew I would be giving you this soup, I wrote Caprial Pense and asked permission to republish the recipe. I don’t want to just give you URLs to the recipe and make you find it. Caprial gave me permission, and so the whole recipe is as follows:

Curry Winter Squash Soup

Caprial Pense

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz.) mirin wine or sweet cooking wine
  • 4 lbs. winter squash, peeled and diced **
  • 3 cups (24 fl. oz) chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz) coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Options:

  • 2 Tablespoons roasted squash seeds, for garnish
  • 2 Tablespoons Creme Fraiche, for garnish

Directions:

In a large saucepan over high temperature, heat the oil. Add the onion, shallots, garlic and ginger and saute until they begin to give off their aroma, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook until half the liquid has evaporated, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the diced squash and stock. Reduce the heat and simmer until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk and continue simmering for 5 more minutes.

While the soup is simmering, place the curry powder in a small saute pan over high heat. Dry-saute the curry until you can smell its aroma, 1 or 2 minutes. Add it to the soup when it has finished simmering.

Puree the soup in a blender or in batches in a food processor. Add the chile powder and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

**If you have a squash that’s difficult to peel, cut it in half and remove the seeds and strings. Roast it, cut side down, for about an hour in an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Then scoop out the flesh and add it to the soup just before you put in the coconut milk.

I have included recipes for Roasted Squash Seeds and Creme Fraiche below.

A Butternut Squash is hard to cut, but I have a hint that might make it easier. Before you try to cut the squash long ways, first cut it into 2 or 3 shorter sections. I found that the moisture in the squash grips the knife very strongly making it difficult to push through the vegetable. So, by making the squash into shorter pieces, you are cutting pieces that are only about half the length of your knife, and the grip of the squash on the knife is much less. This is true when slicing all vegetables; I know that slicing potatoes has the same tight grip on the knife if you are trying to go lengthwise.

September 21, 2015, NOTE: I made the soup again today, but with a difference. Jenn and James brought me 3 squash that are an off-shoot of acorn squash; the total weight of the three was 5.5 pounds. Because they are the thick skin type of squash, I had to roast them and adjust the recipe for the pre-cooking of the squash; it is in there as a footnote. But, when I scooped the flesh out of the roasted squash, I only had 2 3/8 pounds; there is more shrinkage than with the larger butternut squash. I had some butternut squash left over from last time, and added in enough to make the 4 pounds. This meant that I had to treat the squash in two ways; some went in with the stock and simmered while the rest went in after most of the simmer and with the coconut milk.

I discovered in the grocery store cooler a tube of fresh ginger! I used that rather than buying the knob of ginger and peeling and grating it. This is quite a time saver- and probably more economical since you have to buy a larger knob than you will use, and then freeze the remainder and hope you get back to using it before it dries out.

In a couple cases, I deviated slightly from the recipe; I used the full can of coconut milk (15 oz.) and 2 full cans of chicken stock (29 oz.). I had two butternut squashes and was surprised that after peeling them, I had almost exactly 4 pounds.

I have never tried to puree the soup in a food processor; I have an immersion blender- also known as a hand blender or stick blender. I can only warn you to be careful if you need to use a regular blender or food processor to puree the soup; it is hot and I wouldn’t want you to get burned.

September 9, 2015, Note: I made this soup again today with Butternut Squash, and measured the shrinkage from peeling and de-seeding. I started with 7 pounds of squash, and had 6 pounds when I finished prepping it. I did not peel it overly heavy; I took off just one layer with a vegetable peeler and left a yellow layer. I did not take that layer or go down to the deep orange of the center of the squash. The 4 pounds of prepared squash that I used made about 7 pounds of soup, which measured to just over 12 cups

Most of the recipes I find on the internet for Creme Fraiche use buttermilk. I don’t normally have buttermilk in the fridge, and tried making it with a buttermilk substitute – milk and vinegar. I don’t think it worked and I am not certain why I tried since Marlys’s recipe for Creme Fraiche has always worked for me.

Creme Fraiche
Marlys Crary

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Mix in a sealable container for about 15 seconds. Then, leave at room temperature for the next 24 hours. Stir once or twice during that time. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
While I am giving you a recipe for the roasted seeds, be certain to read my notes following the recipe because I learned a few tricks to make the job easier.

Roasted Winter Squash Seeds

  • 1 cup winter squash seeds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. Remove the seeds from the squash, rinse with water, and remove any strings and bits of squash. Pat dry, and place in a small bowl. Stir the olive oil and salt into the seeds until evenly coated. Spread out in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake 15 minutes, or until the seeds begin to pop. Cool on the baking sheet before serving.


Okay, my hints and suggestions. I didn’t bother to measure the amount of seeds I had; I knew I would use them all, and couldn’t do anything about being less than a cup. I did measure the oil and salt. I washed the seeds in a strainer; then dumped them out on a couple paper towels to absorb as much water as possible and to thin them into a layer so I could remove anything that was still orange. I patted them dry with another paper towel when I felt I had just seeds left.

I put dried seeds, oil and salt into a plastic storage bag, sealed it, and massaged it to get all the seeds coated with the oil and salt. Unfortunately, some of the salt also sticks to the inside of the baggie, so it might be easier to just use the oil with the seeds in the bag.

Now, instead of using parchment paper or foil to line the baking sheet, I just used one of my silicon mats. I dumped the oiled seeds onto the mat, then used a spoon to press down where ever there was a pile until the pile slid around and left only a single layer of seeds. Finally, because of the loss of the salt in the baggie, I sprinkled the salt on the single layer of oiled seeds on the baking sheet. I had to bake the seeds for more like 25 minutes- longer than the suggested 15 minutes, and took them out when they were golden brown; I never did hear any pop.

Chocolate Fudge

When I made this recipe for the holiday season, it quickly was apparent that I needed to work on changes to the recipe. The original recipe is at the bottom of this post so you can see it.

Mary Boese was a friend from our days in Forest Grove, Oregon. Our daughters were in school together, and our house was a gathering place for the students after school until their parents could pick them up.

The reasons I felt a need to modify the recipe is first, at one point in the directions it says to “spread into three 8 x 8 buttered pans”. Luckily, I was giving most of the fudge away so it didn’t bother me too much at that point. But, who wants to make so much at a time unless you are producing for some reason.

The second item that caught my eye was the need for 16 ounces of marshmallow cream. That is a problem; the big bottle of marshmallow cream is only 13 ounces now, and there is a small bottle that is 7 ounces. It is obvious that this recipe was originally developed around the availability of marshmallow cream, and it only came in 16 ounce bottles. As a result, we need a lot of ingredients and end up making the three 8 x 8 pans.

fudge 001

I originally cut the fudge into 2 x 2 inch pieces, and that is what the photo shows- the original fudge in large pieces.

After working on the altered version of the recipe, I took it to some chocolate lovers to give me feedback on whether I had kept the good taste and all of the recipe. One thing I did in altering the recipe is to put it into a larger pan; then I cut it into 1 x 2 inch pieces; my test audience all said that they thought the pieces I took to the test kept the good taste and they liked the smaller pieces I had formed. In fact, they did not want me to make the pieces any thicker. So, I am recommending that you spread the fudge into a 10 x 15 inch pan, and then cut it into 1 x 2 inch pieces.

I also decided to do away with the marshmallow creme; it is sticky and it is not necessary for the marshmallow to be in a creme state. So this it the final results of my changes.

Chocolate Fudge

(Mary Boese 1983, modified by Errol Crary 2014)

Ingredients:

  • 5 oz. miniature marshmallow
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 5 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 oz. evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cups chopped walnuts

Directions:

  • Combine in a large bowl the marshmallows, chocolate chips, butter and vanilla.
  • Boil sugar and milk together for 9 minutes. Pour over ingredients in large bowl. Beat until almost set. Stir in nuts.
  • Spread into 10 x 15 x 1 inch buttered pan. Allow to set up in refrigerator.


Using marshmallows instead of the creme means you need to beat the mixture that melts everything together a little harder, but it works.

You may use pans other than the 10 x 15 that I recommend; the results are just thicker fudge pieces. For example, a 9 x 13 pan would make pieces about half the depth as an 8 x 8 pan, and in the photo you can see the depth of an 8 x 8 piece. Everyone said that the 2 x 2inch pieces made in the 8 x 8 pan were too big, and most people cut them into fourths.

Here is Mary’s original recipe:
Chocolate Fudge
(Mary Boese 1983)
16 oz. marshmallow creme
36 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 lb. butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
15 oz. evaporated milk
2 cups chopped walnuts

Combine in a large bowl the marshmallow creme, chocolate chips, butter and vanilla.

Boil sugar and milk together for 9 minutes. Pour over ingredients in large bowl. Beat until almost set. Stir in nuts.

Spread into three 8 x 8 buttered pans. Allow to set up in refrigerator.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

This is an very interesting cookie and recipe; it is sort of a BOGO thing. Mexican Wedding Cookies ((Polvorones) and Russian Tea Cakes are almost the same recipe; the only difference in the way I make them is in the type of nut flour I use and the shape into which I make the cookie. Notice that I said “in the way I make them”; a lot of other peoples’ recipes do not make any difference in the two. My basic recipe is a Short Bread cookie dough, with nut flour added; there is no leavening or egg in the recipe. You will find other recipes that add egg to the basic Short Bread, and do not differentiate on the type of nut flour. In most cases, these are all called Mexican Wedding Cookies. I have seen recipes that use pecans, walnuts or almonds, all calling them Mexican Wedding Cookies.

MWC 001

A Short Bread recipe is fairly simple and short; it contains fat, sugar, flour and flavoring. This recipe adds the nut flour to make the cookies. For Mexican Wedding Cookies, the nut flour is ground pecans, and for the Russian Tea Cakes the nut flour is ground walnuts. The second differentiation I make is in the shape of the cookie; while I leave the Russian Tea Cakes as balls, I roll the Mexican Wedding Cookies into crescents. I have seen Mexican Wedding Cookies that make them as a ball that looks exactly like the Russian Tea Cakes. This picture is my Russian Tea Cakes.

RTC 001

So, with this recipe, you can make either Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes, and if you want to interpret the recipe in your own way, feel free. You may make your cookies with any nut flour you want, and you may shape your cookies any way you want. I am only showing you the way I learned.

The nut flours are easy to make; they do not have to be ground to a powder, but just enough to be easy to handle in the dough. The way I make mine is in a food processor. I have found that it is best to run a knife through the nut halves a couple times before putting them in the food processor so the projectiles the spinning blades throw do not have as much mass; it scares me to hear the nut halves hit the side of the processor bowl. I think once when I did just dump the halves in the processor, I actually cracked a piece of the plastic of the processor bowl. Once in the processor, just pulse it a few times; there will still be a few discernible pieces, but for the most part you will have a fine enough grind to make the nut flour.

Mexican Wedding Cookies and Russian Tea Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup nut flour

Directions

  1. For the nut flour, measure out the desired type of nuts, cut any large pieces, then finely grind in food processor or blender. I use pecans for Mexican Wedding Cookies and walnuts for Russian Tea Cakes.
  2. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. In large bowl with electric mixer beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until blended. On low speed, beat in flour and nut flour just until blended.
  4. Roll Tablespoons of dough into shape; smooth 1-inch balls for Russian Tea Cakes or crescents for Mexican Wedding Cookies. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets
  5. Bake 10 minutes or until firm (cookies may crack slightly).
  6. To Coat: put confectioners’ sugar into a wide bowl. Add hot cookies, a few at a time and toss carefully to coat. Remove with a spoon to wire rack to cool. When cool, roll again in confectioners’ sugar.


There are a couple tricks I should mention when making the crescent Mexican Wedding cookies. To roll out the Tablespoon of dough into a cylinder, I found that the best method was to roll across my bottom hand in a 45 degree direction, with my top hand doing the motion from little finger to first finger and back again. When I rolled at 90 degrees, the ending shape was wider in the middle than at the ends and didn’t make as nice a finished cookie.

Notice that the recipe says to remove with a spoon to the wire rack. If you try to pick the crescent up with your fingers, there is a good chance that it will break into two pieces. The spoon does not put any pressure against the legs and seems to save more cookies that when just using your fingers.

Once when I was making Mexican Wedding Cookies I rolled the unbaked crescents in the confectioners’ sugar before baking, and then again when they came out of the oven and were hot. This worked quite well. After all, the object is to get as much powdered sugar as possible on the cookies, isn’t it?

Rum Balls

Here is a recipe that is great for holidays. These little candies are a challenge to the truffle candies. Whereas the truffle gives you the chocolate flavor in depth, the rum ball has little chocolate flavor, but instead hits you with the taste of booze. And if you do not like rum as a flavor, then you may substitute bourbon or whiskey.

rum balls 001

Rum Balls

(This recipe comes to us from Peggy Whilihan, from the recipe book Calendar of Kitchen Halos, by The Ladies Of Saint Charles Borromeo ).

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups vanilla wafer crumbs, (12 oz. box)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 Tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup rum (or bourbon or whiskey)

Directions:

Blend wafer crumbs, powdered sugar, cocoa and nuts. Add corn syrup and rum. Mix well.

Roll into small balls and dust with powdered sugar. If the dough sticks to your hands, “flour” them with powdered sugar.

Set cookies aside for 24 hours, then store in tight tins.

I think the appeal of the rum balls is that when you take one, you can feel a little naughty with having a smidgeon of alcohol.

Perk’s Sugar Cookies

This recipe was one I tried when I was testing for a good recipe to use for cutout cookies; it didn’t make the cut. The dough is soft, and spreads a lot when cooked. But still, the cookie is very good- soft rather than crisp.

perk sugar cookie 001

Perk’s Sugar Cookies

(Perk is Penny Delancey’s Grandmother)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add dry ingredients; mix well.

Roll into balls, place on cookie sheet and press down with a glass dipped in sugar. Bake at 375 degrees about 10 minutes.

To make lemon cookies, exclude the vanilla and add:

  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons more flour


The spread on these cookies is quite large; they become close to 3 inches in diameter. I had some trouble with the cookies spreading into each other while cooking; as a result, some of mine have a rough edge where I had to pull them apart. I was using my #50 scoop, and only getting 8 cookies per pan.

I also had some problem using the “glass dipped in sugar”. I wasn’t getting the sugar to stick to the bottom of the glass, and then to transfer to the cookie. As a result, I filled a salt shaker with sugar, and then I used the glass to press the cookie dough ball flat, and sprinkled sugar on the flattened cookie.

Karo Lace Cookies

This is certainly a very different kind of cookie, and it has its own way of forming into the lace pattern.

karo lace 001

Karo Lace Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup karo clear syrup
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour and coconut together. Combine syrup, sugar and butter and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and gradually stir in the flour/coconut mixture. Add vanilla.

Drop onto foil covered cookie sheets by scant teaspoons at least 3″ apart. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes. Cool 3 minutes on rack until foil may be easily peeled off.

If desired, you may roll cookies at this time to make cones.

Place on absorbent paper to cool completely. Makes about 4 dozen.

I didn’t try to roll the cookies into a cone, although that would be an interesting decoration filled with small candies such as rum balls or truffles.

Again, the recipe seems very complete and was simple to make. The trick is in peeling the cookies of the foil when they have cooled. If the are not completely cooled, you will need to slowly work through the still sticky part of the cookie; they peel more easily once they have cooled, but then they will be too stiff to roll into cones.

Lemon Squares

These small nuggets of goodness give your mouth a burst of freshness when your taste buds are starting to complain about all the chocolate you have been eating. There are many recipes for Lemon Squares, but I think you will find this recipe simple and tasty.

lemon squares 001

Lemon Squares

Ingredients:

Crust:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
Filling:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash of salt
Topping:
  • Powdered sugar

Directions:

Mix together butter, 1/4 cup sugar and flour for the crust. Press on bottom of an 8 x 8 or 7 x 11 pan and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.

Mix all Filling ingredients together and pour over crust while it is hot and bake the Lemon Squares for an additional 20 minutes. Cool on a rack. Sprinkle with the powdered sugar Topping. Cut into small squares and serve.

There are many variations of recipes for all cookies, and Lemon Squares or Lemon Bars are not different. I tasted a frosted Lemon Square over the holidays, and it was just as interesting a taste as this recipe. But, I think you will find this recipe as an excellent starting point for any variations you might want to make.