Tag Archives: Scalable Recipe

PB&J Cookies

A few months ago, I was trying to make Hamantaschen cookies because I liked the idea of having the fruit flavor combined with the cookie. I will get back to those in a few months. But, while I was trying to get those right, daughter Mindy said that I should do a PB & J cookie. I think I have developed a good PB & J cookie, and this is the recipe.

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If you don’t want to add the jam to the cookie, it still makes a nice peanut butter cookie as shown on the plate in the picture.

At the last minute in developing this recipe, I decided to change one step in the directions; consider the change as an option. It makes the recipe slightly harder to make, but I think it is worth the extra work. The extra step delays filling the thumb print in the cookie with jam until after they are baked. The complexity is that the thumb print loses some of its depth during the cooking process and needs to be pressed again.

The reason I made the change is that when the thumb print is filled before baking, the jam is dried out and becomes a fruit leather. The change means that the jam is not cooked, and thus stays fresh. This following picture shows the cookies with the jam cooked with the cookie.
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PB&J Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoon water
  • 2 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup jam

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Cream the butter and sugars.
  • Add the vanilla, peanut butter, eggs, and water and beat until combined.
  • Add the flour, baking soda and salt and beat until just combined.
  • Place 2-tablespoon-size balls of dough on lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
  • In the center of each ball, push an indentation to receive the jam.

  • Optionally: Place about 1/4 teaspoon of jam in the indentation; do not overfill, or it will bubble out in the oven.
  • Bake 12 to 14 minutes;
  • Cool for 4 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to completely cool.

  • Alternatively: Bake 12 to 14 minutes;
  • Reform the thumb print indentation before the cookies have a chance to cool and set.
  • Don’t try to move the cookies and cool for 4 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to completely cool.
  • Fill the cookies with about 1/2 teaspoon of jam when they are cool.


Before forming the cookies, loosen the jam so that it is easy to separate out small portions. I used a small spoon we have that is used as a first spoon to feed babies to pick up the jam and drop it into the thumb-print on the cookies.

I used my #50 scoop to measure the dough, and placed the balls onto silicon mats lining my baking sheets; you can use parchment to line the baking sheets.

I used the tip of my thumb to make the indentation; after all, these are thumb-print cookies. The flat of my thumb was too big to make a good indentation.

I have made many dozen of these trying to get them right, and have discovered a few suggestions about making these cookies.
One trick if you decide to fill the thumb print after cooking is the need to reform the indentation as soon as the cookies come out of the oven and are hot. When you press down to reform the indentation, the surface of the cookie will crack slightly around the edge of the indentation- not a problem. I found that I had a couple different items in the kitchen that were about 1 inch in diameter which I could use to press down in the indentation without burning myself.
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I was late in learning that just because a jam or preserve is a good color does not mean that it has any flavor. I have used strawberry preserves for the color, but I find that they are quite bland, and do not add flavor to the cookies. I find more flavor in the raspberry and apricot preserves. Red might look pretty, but go for flavor, and not looks.
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You can really experiment with the size of the cookie. In the batch I show in the photos, I used both the #50 scoop for the smaller version of the cookies, and then I experimented with a #20 scoop (3 Tablespoons) for the larger version of the cookies. The larger version obviously holds more jam which was one of my objectives. However, the larger version of the cookie needs to cool longer on the baking sheets before it is moved- I would say 6 minutes. If the cookies are moved too soon, before they have firmed up a bit, you are apt to find the bottom under the jam dropping out, and the jam leaking out. My test is to do a light squeeze on the sides like I am going to pick the cookie up, and if the sides give, I wait longer for it to cool more and firm up.
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Finally, from these last two photos you have a before and after comparison of the jam in the cookie. The first photo is of the cookies ready to go into the oven, while the second photo is of the cookies on the cooling racks. Even though I heap the jam up, the heat of the oven evaporates moisture from the jam and it ends up being indented just like the thumb print we made to hold the jam.

Please also recognize that the recipe can easily be scaled down to half size. The scary part of dividing the ingredients in half might be the places it calls for 3/4 cup of something; half of that is 6 Tablespoons. Most butter wrappers have 6 Tablespoons marked, and for measuring the sugars, you can use 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons, or 1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup- the latter is a standard measure for ground coffee.

Papa McBryde Chili

Marlys loved to make her Chili Beans. I looked at that recipe, and felt it was a bit much for the first time, especially when she also had Papa McBryde’s Chili recipe. I found this recipe to be simple, easy to make, and it is scalable to half size without much work.

Papa McBryde was Marlys’s paternal grandfather.
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Papa McBryde Chili

  • 2 lb. hamburger, coarse ground
  • 2 package chili mix envelopes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 32 oz. diced tomatoes (canned)
  • 16 oz. tomato sauce
  • 32 oz. pinto beans (optional)

Brown hamburger and onion. Add rest of ingredients. Simmer at least an hour.

In researching this recipe, it becomes apparent that it is scalable. The recipe calls for 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 2 packages of Chili mix powder, etc. – about two of everything except the onion and bell pepper, and those can easily be cut in half.

I used red bell pepper to try to add some visual appeal to the chili. Perhaps next time, I would use half red and half green; I think the visual component would be enhanced with a bit of green showing through.

There are a multitude of different chili powder mixes in the stores now; I chose to use the McCormick Original figuring this was probably historically the one that was available way back when. I was surprised to find that there was not much heat in the final chili product using the “original”; I would like things with just a bit more spice, and would look at the “hot” chili powder mixes next time. I am not ready to add fresh jalapenos to the recipe although that seems like an interesting option.

Although the recipe isn’t explicit about stirring the pot while it is simmering, my intuition says that anytime we simmer for an hour or more, we should stir the pot about every 10 minutes to ensure nothing has sunk to the bottom and is burning. Marlys taught me to do that when we were simmering the Mexican Soup.

While the pinto beans are shown as an option, I did include the beans in the batch of chili I made.
Papa chili 001

And as usual, we find inflation changing the weight of the canned goods, and I found it hard to get the exact measure of hamburger. My hamburger came in packages that were more like 1 1/4 pounds, and the tomatoes were 14.5 ounces per can, and the pinto beans were 15 ounces per can. So we don’t exactly duplicate the recipe, but we do the best we can without being foolish.

Paska

How about cheese cake without the crust? That is often how people describe Paska. It is a sweet, cheese food that has a history back into eastern Europe. I like it as a snack, but it is also used as part of a meal. My neighbor tasted it, and demanded the recipe so she could make it for Purim/Passover to eat with the matzo bread that is eaten as part of those ceremonies. And, from what I find on the network, it is eaten at Easter in a Russian Orthodox home with a special bread kulich.

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Paska

Nadia Skoblin 1942. (This was a Russian lady Errol knew in Missoula, Montana.)

Ingredients

  • 4 or 5 lbs. cottage cheese (not creamed)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 lb. butter
  • 1 cup mixed candied fruits and raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds.

Cream the butter and sugar. Add finely sieved cottage cheese, a cup at a time, mixing well.

Add the fruit and nuts. Pack firmly in a mold. Cover with cheese cloth. Invert (or set in a dish) so it can drain and age a week or longer in the refrigerator. There will be considerable liquor which drains off so empty container often.

May be sliced to serve at the holidays.

Having made the recipe in January 2012 exactly as we received it from my Mother, I knew I needed to do a lot of experimenting with both the size and the ability to use modern kitchen appliances. Here is the original recipe; I don’t think you should try to use it as it is written.

I made this original version of the recipe with 4 pounds of cottage cheese as it calls out. I must say that sieving that much cottage cheese will develop muscles. I was really tired by the time I finished the sieving. Then, I mixed everything up, and it took two regular bread loaf pans to hold all the paska. I was surprised to find that indeed, I could invert the loaf pans and place them on plates in the refrigerator without the paska trying to drop out and escape.

The trouble came after the week of aging, and draining the excess liquid. When I tried to unmold the paska, it didn’t want to come out of the loaf pans. Even when I ran a knife around the edges of the pan, it was still stuck firmly to the bottom of the pan. I can only say that it was a mess when I finally got it all out of the mold.

So, I had three problems; first, the amount of paska was way too much for me. Second, it is a lot of work to sieve cottage cheese. And finally, I needed to find a way to unmold the paska after it had aged and drained.

The first problem was easily solved; I divided the recipe in fourths, so that only a single pound of cottage cheese was needed. Now, the recipe reads as follows:

Paska

Nadia Skoblin 1942.

Modified for only one pound of cottage cheese by Errol Crary

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. sieved* cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 lb butter
  • 1/4 cup fruit**
  • 2 Tbsp raisins**
  • 2 Tbsp chopped almonds

Cream the butter and sugar. Add finely sieved cottage cheese, a cup at a time, mixing well.

Add the fruit and nuts. Pack firmly in a mold. Cover with cheese cloth. Invert (or set in a dish) so it can drain and age a week or longer in the refrigerator. There will be considerable liquor which drains off so empty container often.

May be sliced to serve at the holidays.

I tried breaking up the curd of the cottage cheese in the food processor, and I think that is an acceptable way of “sieving” the cottage cheese. I will admit that my neighbor thought the paska texture was different, and liked the sieved version better. I couldn’t tell the difference. From my perspective, that solved the second problem. Now, I only had the problem of unmolding to solve.

My original direction on solving that problem was to line the bottom of the molds with plastic wrap before I dumped the paska in. But, just as I didn’t want the paska to stick to the mold, nor did the plastic wrap want to stick to the mold. So, when I turned the mold over to drain, the paska fell out. I solved that problem by using nesting plastic containers. After putting the paska in the lined mold, I placed an identical, nesting container on top of the cheese cloth that was on the paska in the first container. Now, I could turn the nested containers over, and the paska would be forced upward by the bottom of the inner container. I would have stopped at this point, but I found that not all nesting plastic containers worked well; some seemed to slope inward too much, and the paska leaked down between the sides of the containers. (I found square blue-top plastic storage containers worked the best, and you would want to use a size that is over 3 cups – 24 ounces for the one pound cottage cheese version).

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At this point, I started thinking outside of the box- or mold, and found what I think is the perfect answer- a colander! So now I line the colander with cheese cloth, dump in the paska, place a piece of cheese cloth on top, and then place a weighted dish on top of the top cheese cloth. I would say the only trick left is to find a dish that fairly well covers the surface of the paska without binding on the side of the colander. (My little red colander is measured as a 1.5 quart colander).
Paska 5
The recipe calls for candied fruit; I took that to mean the type of fruit that is in a fruit cake. That is a seasonal item in most stores, and wasn’t available in January when I was first experimenting. So I improvised. I used some dried sweet cherries and Craisins that I had, and diced them down to about ¼ of an inch pieces. That made a pretty red color that was just about right for Valentine’s day when I had hoped to have everything coming together. And, my daughters dislike fruit cake candied fruit, so they were not unhappy with the cherry/Craisin substitution. The main thing to remember no matter what you use is to dice the fruits and nuts down to about ¼ inch.

PicMonkey Collage

Rhubarb Pudding

Marlys loved Rhubarb Pudding! This was her go-to recipe as soon as she found rhubarb in the market-place. This simple pudding can be put together in just a couple hours- one for cooking it. And it can be scaled down in size to be half the 9×13 pan that is prescribed; it can be made in a 6×9 inch pan using just 3 cups of rhubarb- about 1 ¼ pounds. Just cut all the other ingredients in half, also.
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The recipe is so easy that I don’t really have any suggestions or hints for making this simple dessert. I made the sample with Splenda.

Rhubarb Pudding

(Aunt Jay, 1980 — Linda N. {Smith} Wing)

  • 6 cups rhubarb (about 2 1/2 lbs.)
  • 1 3/4 cup flour, heaping, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar or Splenda
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Dice finely the rhubarb. Mix with the rhubarb, a heaping 1/4 cup flour and the sugar/Splenda. Put into a 9 x 13 baking pan which has been buttered or sprayed. Mix together and spread evenly on top 1 1/2 cups flour, the butter and the brown sugar. Bake about 1 hour or until top is bubbly.

Here is how fine I diced the rhubarb.
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The final product.
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And it goes well with a little cream.
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Apple Pudding

PicMonkey CollageOriginally, this recipe was for a Rhubarb Pudding; Marlys loved rhubarb pudding. Then, Mindy saw that it was a good basic pudding recipe and made it with apples- giving us an Apple Pudding recipe. A 9×13 product is too much for me in most cases, and so I decided it needed to be scaled down a bit; luckily it scaled perfectly. So now, we start with the smaller Apple Pudding- one that an individual going solo can eat in just a few meals, and then we show how to make it full size again for the family.

Apple Pudding

Basic Recipe — Linda N. {Smith} Wing 1980,

Updated to Apple Pudding by Mindy Crary)

  • 3 Apples- I found Golden Delicious to be good, but Gala, Fujii, etc will do
  • 7/8 cups flour, heaping, divided as 2 Tbs + 3/4 cup
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar or Splenda
  • 1/4 cup butter; better cut it into small pieces before it gets warm
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel and slice the apples. Mix with the apples, a heaping 2 Tablespoons flour and the sugar/Splenda. Put into a 6 x 9 baking pan which has been buttered or sprayed. Mix together and spread evenly on top 3/4 cup flour, the butter and the brown sugar. Bake about 1 hour or until top is bubbly.

To make a larger amount of pudding, double the recipe and use a 9 x 13 baking pan. The oven temperature and time stay the same. Remember the smaller amount of flour is used to coat the apples in the bowl, and the larger amount of flour is part of the topping.

  • 6 Apples-
  • 1 3/4 cups flour, heaping, divided as ¼ cup to coat the apples and 1 1/2 cups for the topping
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar or Splenda
  • 1/2 cup butter; cut it into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar

I always make it with Splenda; since the sweetener goes into the bowl with the apples to coat them, the Splenda starts to dissolve in the apple juice and the bowl is real sticky after finishing that operation. Don’t worry; enough of the sweetener got on the apples that the finished product will be good.

It is a very simple recipe and easy to make. Enjoy the pudding plain, or add a little milk/cream on the served piece. And enjoy if as an after-school snack.
Enjoy;
Errol

Red Apples

Red Apples  Collage
Are Red Apples a dessert, or are they a snack? I think they are both. They are a good, healthy snack, and they also make a vibrant dessert. I gave a batch of Red Apples to my neighbor with a 2 year old grandson, and the report came back that both the grandfather and grandson liked them and cleaned them up.

As you might be able to tell from my blog, Marlys had a lot of simple recipes that used only a few ingredients but made good food. As a widower, I find that I still use these simple recipes most of the time, rather than making more complex recipes. I am lucky to have a recipe book with so many easy to make good foods, and when I get stuck, I can call a daughter to get her take on what the directions mean. I am hoping that the discussion following the directions for the recipe will give you the hints, and alert you to the issues that you might encounter in using the recipe. And again, I am also trying to find scalability in the recipes so that you can make them for yourself – solo- or for a small dinner party.

I like Red Apples, and often have some in the refrigerator upon which I can snack. And this recipe is really scalable. Finally, I’ve changed the recipe as it appears here to use Splenda instead of sugar, but you can easily substitute sugar for the Splenda. So, here is how to make Red Apples

Red Apples

(Catharine P. Crary 1970)

  • 5 lbs. cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced (Rome are good!)
  • 4 oz. red hot candies (cinnamon rounds – Cinnamon Imperials)
  • 1 1/2 cups water.
  • 1/2 cup Splenda for Romes, 1 cup Splenda if using Granny Smith

Melt together in large cooking pan with a lid, the red hot candies in the water.
Add to pan the apples and Splenda. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring often.

On electric stove, turn off and let sit on burner until cooled.

On a gas stove, they will have to be cooked about 5 minutes before turning off and allowing to cool.




This is a very simple recipe. I don’t think you can go wrong with it. If you decide to scale it down, just divide each ingredient by the fraction you want; for example, half a recipe would use 2 ounces of the Cinnamon Imperials and 3/4 a cup of water. The Splenda and amount of apples would also be cut in half. You could even go smaller; just remember that ¼ cup is 4 Tablespoons, so you might be changing the amount of Splenda into Tablespoons from fractions of a cup.

One reason for cutting the recipe down is that 5 pounds of apples is about a dozen apples. That is a lot to peel, core, and slice. The pictures were taken with the recipe cut in half- with 6 Braeburn apples. I treated them like the mentioned Rome apples and used 1/4 cup of Splenda.

Rome Beauty apples were quite popular when I was younger, but I seldom see them in the store anymore. I think the suggestion for using either Rome Beauty or Granny Smith apples is because they were both considered cooking apples; they didn’t break down when cooked. The difference in the amount of sweeting for the different apples is because of their taste characteristic. The Granny Smith is a tart apple, while the Rome Beauty is considered mildly sweet.

The Braeburn apples I used are considered sweet and tart, and so I treated them like the Rome Beauty’s mild sweetness. I was concerned that they might not be crisp enough to hold up to cooking, but I had no trouble in that area; the results were very similar to when I have made Red Apples with Granny Smiths.

Peeling and coring a large number of apples is a task. We bought one of the peeler-corer-slicer machines and have used it. Marlys hated it, and made me do all the apple preparation. The machine helps, but isn’t perfect; many times the peeler will miss a section of the apple and I have to go back and use a paring knife to remove the last of the skin. Even then, I can prepare the apples in just a few minutes.

Finally, I do add a few drops of red food coloring to make the final color more vibrant and deeper red than what the Cinnamon Imperials leave the apples. It is a recipe for Red Apples, and not pink apples.

I encourage you to try this recipe and enjoy the Red Apples as a snack, and give some to the children in your life- they will like them, too.

Errol

P.S. I don’t think they have to be refrigerated; that just happens to be where I store mine.

Boiled Dinner

This recipe is for an easy Boiled Dinner that is not like most Irish or New England Boiled Dinners. The recipe shows you how to make a Boiled Dinner without the sauerkraut or cabbage; those seem to turn a lot of people off. I think this is a good recipe for the tyro cook to learn and add to their repertoire.

The recipe in itself has an interesting history. We have had Boiled Dinner fairly often in the past. One day, after she left home for college, daughter Jenn called and wanted to know how to make Boiled Dinner. It was then that I discovered there was no recipe in Marlys’s Recipe Binder. Marlys gave Jenn instructions, and then Jenn wrote up this recipe for me to include in the Recipe Binders. This is the recipe as Jenn gave it to me, but I will comment about it and add my take on preparing it below.
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Boiled Dinner

(Jenn Crary)

  • potatoes, chopped in half or quarters
  • carrots, cut on an angle so pieces are around 2 inches
  • onion, whole pearl onions or one medium onion quartered
  • sausage- like kielbasa

Bring a large pot with about 2 inches of water to a boil. Add potatoes, carrots and onion to boiling water. Bring back to simmer and let simmer for 30 minutes. Add meat and let simmer for another 15 minutes.

An important factor in this meal is that you don’t need to worry about seasoning the food as you cook it. Instead, put a few condiments on the table and let each individual season their own meal. Now I like mild, creamy horseradish with my meat, and I like butter to melt over my potatoes and vegetables. Others might like mustard, or even catsup for the meat, and maybe sour cream for the potato. Just put the condiments on the table and let people do what they like.

This recipe can be made with almost any kind of encased meat- even hot dogs. We happen to like it with the kielbasa sausage. The kielbasa usually come at a weight of just under 1 pound; when Marlys and I got the sausage home, we would immediately cut it in half and freeze it as two meals- about 4 ounces per person per meal.

How much of each ingredient do you need? In general, I would use 3-5 ounces of each ingredient per person that will be eating dinner. Thus, cutting the kielbasa in half for two people allows about 3.5 ounces per person. I used 5 ounces of carrots, 4.5 ounces of new potato (red and Yukon Gold), and 3 ounces of onion per person in this demonstration. I had part of a yellow onion in the refrigerator and so used it instead of pearl onions.

While the recipe does not include green beans, I added 3 ounces per person because they are colorful, and I had them in the freezer. Being frozen, they only need to cook a couple minutes. I think the green beans work best if you cut them in half so they aren’t too long.

While Jenn’s recipe cooks everything at a simmer, I am the type that uses a heavy boil. Then, with things cut into bite-size pieces, it all cooks in about 15 minutes. So, I put everything except the green beans in the pot and boiled it hard for 15 minutes. I used a wok spider to take it all out of the boiling water and place it on the platter. I tented it with foil to keep it warm since I still had the beans to cook. I put the green beans in the boiling water, and as soon as it was boiling again, turned off the burner and let the beans sit in the hot water for 2 minutes. Now they were ready to come out and go onto the platter with everything else. That extra step might be enough to make you want to forget the beans.

If you don’t have a wok spider, you can use a colander in the sink and dump the pot of meat and vegetables into the colander to drain.

I hope you find this recipe easy to prepare and serve, and you enjoy it.
Errol