Thursday, March 29, 2012

Caramel Corn

This is delicious caramel popcorn that is easy to make and is a hit at the holidays when given as a gift. I used to make this for my kids when they were young and they loved it. This was one of Carrie's very favorite snack foods that I made in fall and winter. There are other recipes I've had made with white sugar, but they are not nearly as good as this recipe. This is delish!

Caramel Corn
                                              250 degrees
6 quarts popped corn
2 sticks real butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light Karo syrup
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Pop popcorn, measure out, put aside till needed.
Melt butter in 3 quart saucepan. Stir in sugar, Karo, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Boil without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in soda and vanilla.
Gradually pour over popped corn, mixing well.
Pour popcorn evenly between two large shallow pans (cookie sheets with 1"sides on them).
Bake in 250 degree oven for one hour. Every 15 minutes, stir popped corn to keep from sticking.
Watch last 15 minutes so it does not burn. Remove from oven and cool completely. Store in airtight container(s).

Tip: You can add one cup of peanuts to this recipe by adding to the popcorn once you add the syrup.
        Do not make this on a rainy day as it may not come out as you'd like for it to.

Old Virginia Applesauce Cake

I came across this recipe back in 1975 in the food section of the Dispatch. I made it and liked it. There was a cake baking contest at the family reunion I went to that July, and so I made this cake thinking it would be a winner. I had even made a homemade white frosting to go over the cake. I did not win because a couple of the judges did not like raisins! No fair. The winner ended up being a boxed chocolate cake made in a Wilton pan and decorated with a star tip. Really? A boxed cake mix???  Anyway, this is a cake made for anytime, but is especially nice in the fall. I like spice cake, so I like it anytime I am in the mood for a spice cake. It is also an easy recipe to put together.

Old Virginia Applesauce Cake
                                                                 350 degree oven
1/2 cup palm oil shortening*
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups applesauce
1 egg, beaten
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp apple pie spice
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cream shortening and sugar till light and fluffy. Gradually add applesauce and egg; beat well.
Sift flour before measuring. Then sift flour with baking powder and spices.
Dissolve baking soda in boiling water.
Add flour mixture alternately with water to creamed mixture. Stir in raisins and nuts.
Grease and flour a tube pan.
Pour batter into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or till tests done. Cool five minutes in pan. Invert onto cooling rack. When completely cool, frost with a white frosting of your choice. A brown sugar frosting would also be good.

*The original recipe called for regular vegetable shortening. I do not use vegetable shortening or vegetable oils.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Stuffed Banana Peppers

The above is a picture of some of the peppers we grew last year, including banana peppers, pictured on the left. We had a bumper crop of peppers last summer and I wanted to be able to make something besides pickled peppers. I found this recipe on the web and modified it some for our tastes. Bob loved this. I was afraid it would be too hot, but it was not hot, and it was really tasty. There are a lot of ingredients, but don't let that deter you from making these as they are easy to prepare, can be put together in about a half hour and then baked. This is a nice dish to take to a pot luck, tail gate party, or to serve for guests as an appetizer. I froze half of these and we ate half of them. They freeze well for up to 2 months. These could be made into an entree if you added a salad and some crusty bread. These are delicious!!! And I am usually not crazy about peppers or Italian sausage, but I liked them.

Stuffed Banana Peppers

8 Banana peppers
2 Tbls. butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 egg
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage
1/2 pound mild Italian sausage
1- 28 ounce can tomato puree'
1- 8 ounce can tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp real sea salt (pink kind)
1/4 tsp pepper

Cut off tops of peppers, and remove ribs and seeds. Chop edible portions of tops and measure out 1/4 to 1/2 cup of peppers; set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add peppers, reduce heat, and simmer until tender but still firm, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.            
Heat butter in a medium skillet. Saute reserved chopped pepper, onion and celery until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and garlic. Season with basil, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine egg, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, Worcestershire sauce and Parmesan. Mix in hot sausage, mild sausage, bread crumbs and 1 cup of the tomato sauce mixture.              
Using a piping bag or sausage stuffer, fill each pepper with the meat mixture. Place in a 3 quart casserole dish, and pour remaining tomato sauce mixture over peppers.               
Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 1 hour.               

Tips: You can double this recipe for a larger crowd.
          These freeze well.
          Mushrooms could be added, if you like them.
          I just use a spoon to stuff the meat into the peppers.

Chocolate Oat Snack Cake


I can't remember where I picked up this recipe, but it is an easy cake to throw together and it is quite tasty and brownie-like. It is also a good way to incorporate some good old-fashioned oats into your family's diet. You will not know the oats are in this cake as the soaking keeps them from being chewy. This cake whips up in no time and your kids and hubby will like it. So will you. Enjoy!

Chocolate Oat Snack Cake
                                                            350 degree oven
1 3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup real butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup unbleached flour
2 Tbls. unsweetened cocoa*
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp real sea salt (pink kind)
12 ounce pkg chocolate chips (2 cups), optional
1 cup chopped nuts, optional
Powdered sugar, optional

In bowl, combine water and oats; let cool 10 minutes.
Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
Add oat mixture to creamed butter mixture, then add dry ingredients and blend well.
Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips, if used. Also stir in 1 cup nuts, if used.
Grease a 13" x 9" pan. Pour batter into pan, leveling top. Sprinkle top with remaining 1 cup chocolate chips, if used. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, till toothpick comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack. Sprinkle with some powdered sugar, if desired.

* I like mine made with 3 Tbls cocoa, but that seems to be too strong of a chocolate flavor for most people. It makes it very rich.
Tip: If you want to make a nice design with the powdered sugar, get a paper lace doily and lay over the cake, then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Carefully remove paper and you will have a lace design.

Lori's Pumpkin Roll

This is my take on pumpkin roll. This is a basic recipe, but with the addition of cloves and ginger, just like one would add to a pumpkin pie. I think it gives the recipe more pizzazz as it has more flavor than those made with only cinnamon. My husband likes this, too, as it is one of his favorite desserts. I've gotten many compliments for this pumpkin roll over the last few years and hope you will like it also.

Lori's Pumpkin Roll                                            
                                                                  Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp. real sea salt (pink kind)
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin (canned or fresh)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)
Additional powdered sugar (optional)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
4 Tbls. real butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.
Blend together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin and lemon juice. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.
Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.
Filling: With electric mixer, beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Tips: Make sure you use enough powdered sugar on towel that the cake will not stick when you unroll.
You can make up several pumpkin rolls, cool completely, wrap well and freeze for up to 2 months in the freezer. Make sure the rolls do not touch sides of freezer or they will become freezer-burned.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Baked Cheesy Pinto Bean Casserole

Oh my gosh! Is this good! If you like pinto beans you will like this for a change of pace. This makes an excellent side dish or a great casserole to take to pot lucks. It is one of those recipes that can be modified to fit your own likes and dislikes. It is simple and delicious. I got this from another site and modified it to make it my own. I hope you enjoy these.

In summer when it is too hot to cook, you can put these on the grill to bake while you are grilling burgers and steaks. I believe you will get raves for these.

Baked Cheesy Pinto Bean Casserole

                                                                                               Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbls. butter or bacon grease
2-4 pieces bacon, fried, drained, and crumbled (optional)
2-15 ounce cans pinto beans (or equivalent of freshly made), drained, but not rinsed
1/2 cup chunky salsa (mild, medium, or hot, your choice!)
1 cup  Cheddar cheese, divided*

Saute' onion, green peppers, chili powder, cumin, and garlic in butter in a small skillet till onions are opaque, being careful not to burn the garlic.
Combine cooked vegetable mixture with bacon, if used,  beans and salsa. Pour into a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes; stir in half cup of cheese, bake another 15 minutes, sprinkle top with remainder of cheese and bake another 5 minutes to melt. Makes 4-6 servings.

*If you don't like this much cheese, do not add cheese halfway through baking and just add 1/2 cup of cheese to top during last 5 minutes of baking.
* You can use any kind of cheese you'd like such as Co-Jack or Blanco Queso, but my favorite is Cheddar.

7up Pound Cake

YUM!!!This is a delicious and moist pound cake that is so easy to make!!! I've made several of these this past winter as they will last for days, staying moist, and add a nice refreshing dessert following dinner. Bob realy likes this cake, and I love anything lemon!

I know the 8 minute beating of butter and sugar sounds extreme, but I got lazy and did not do this one time (years ago!) and ended up with a flatter cake that did not rise as much, and a more dense cake. It was not as good as when I beat it for the desired amount of time. Take that extra time; it is worth it.

I used to use 7Up in my recipe, but no more. 7Up is made with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is not used in our home for all of its dangerous health issues pertaining to the pancreas, heart, liver, and blood. I know sugar is a poison to most people, too, but sugar is much better for you than HFCS. Sierra Mist works just as well with tasty results and it is made with table sugar.

I try to use farm eggs whenever I can, which may give you a more yellow cake. The picture above was made with store-bought eggs as I was unable to get farm eggs when I made this cake.

This is so delicious and easy to make!!! If you like lemon, you will like this cake. It is so refreshing. As a pound cake, it is a heavy cake, but this one, though dense, is very moist and appealing.

7up Pound Cake
1lb unsalted butter(4 sticks)
2 cups sugar
3 cups cake flour*
6 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract (I use 2 tsps extract for a more pronounced lemon flavor)
3/4 cup 7up soda (I use Sierra Mist)*


1 cup powdered sugat
enough soda to make an icing
1 drop lemon extract

Preheat Oven to 325 degrees
Cream butter and sugar together and allow to beat for 8 minutes. If you have a stand alone mixer, all the better. This aerates the butter and makes sure the sugar is well combined.
Add one egg at a time; beat well.
Add vanilla and lemon extracts
Add one cup cake flour at a time (Important: see note below if using regular flour)*
Pour in soda, blend well.*
Pour into greased nonstick Bundt pan and even the top.
Bake at 325 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
Allow to cool in pan for 20 minutes, invert onto cooling rack or serving plate.
Cool completely, then ice. Cover well and store.

To make Icing~ Add powdered sugar to a bowl, add a bit of soda and blend well. Add in 1 drop of lemon extract. If too thin, add more sugar to get desired consistency. If too thick, add small amount of soda till you get desired consistency. With a regular tablespoon pour on and drizzle icing over top of cake, allowing it to flow down sides.

*I do not buy cake flour because of the price. Cake flour will give you a more delicate cake, but I've always used unbleached flour with great results.
Important: Cake flour and regular flour are NOT interchangeable! If using regular flour, remove 2 Tbls of flour from each measured cup, otherwise your cake will be too dense.

*I do not use 7UP, but you can, if so desired.

Homemade Jalapeno Poppers

I made 132 of these last summer, and trust me, that was no easy task!If you've ever worked with hot peppers, you know how these can burn even through rubber gloves! Whatever you do, do NOT try to cut up jalapeno peppers (or ANY hot pepper!!) without rubber gloves!!! The picture above shows them already made, individually frozen, in a freezer bag, and ready to cook or go back into the freezer.

We happened to have a bumper crop of all peppers last year~ cayenne, jalapeno, serrano, and various shades of bell peppers. I cut, chopped, froze, pickled, and stuffed my way through a myriad of peppers last summer and fall. With one large bucket of jalapenos staring me in the face, I decided to make Jalapeno Poppers for Bob as he loves them. It turns out that my grandson Steven also loves them!

These are not for the faint of heart. These are time-consuming as they took me 5 hours to make. There are multiple steps involved, but if you want to customize your own poppers, want to eat organic on the cheap (we try to grow all our foods organically), and want to know the quality of the foods you are eating, then homemade is the way to go. These are well worth the effort.

I went to several sites to compare recipes so I could customize my own poppers. The 'favorite' recipe I came across used unseasoned bread crumbs, but I used Italian seasoned for more flavor. All used Bacon Bits (yuck!), I used real fried and crumbled bacon. I wanted some onion flavor so I chopped some chives from my yard. I added way more Cheddar than most recipes called for, and I made these the way I wanted them. I am going to give a basic recipe, with some modifications, and then you can go on your own gastronomic trip with your own modifications to fit your own tastes. I did use the 12 ounces of cream cheese as a base, but then I dumped some of this and some of that as I wanted to add it to the pot. These are just basic measurements from modified recipes so don't be afraid to go a bit wild and add your own touch to these.
Remember~USE RUBBER GLOVES when seeding peppers!!!!!!!

Jalapeno Poppers
                                                                                                                        Makes 32
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces grated Cheddar cheese (you can use mild, medium, or sharp)
1 Tbls Bacon Bits (No! No!No! fry your own bacon, crumble it and add waaaaayyy more!!!)
12 ounces (about 16) jalapenos, seeded and cut in half
1 cup milk (Whole milk works best, and raw best of all)
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup dry bread crumbs (Italian seasoned are best, and you can make your own!)
1-2 Tbls. chopped fresh chives (optional, my own addition)
2 quarts oil for frying (I used organic palm oil for best results, or you can use high quality tallow or lard)

Combine cheeses, bacon, and chives. Parsley can be added, too, if desired.
Spoon into pepper halves.
Place milk in a bowl.
Place flour in a bowl.
Place bread crumbs in a bowl.
Dip each pepper in milk, then flour. Let dry for about 10 minutes.
Dip in milk then bread crumbs. Allow to dry for 10 minutes.
Repeat process and make sure all pepper is coated.
If eating right away proceed to how to fry. If storing for later use, then place each pepper on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet and place in freezer for about 1 hour. Then place peppers in a freezer bag and then in a container to help keep them fresh for up to 1 year. Keep frozen till ready to use.
For frying: heat oil to 365 degrees. Deep fry a few at a time for 2-3 minutes each till golden brown. Place on paper towels to drain before serving.

Tips:Use high quality ingredients for best taste.
        Use a good smoky bacon, cook well and crumble before assembling peppers.
        If you don't make your own bread crumbs, then use a brand that has no high fructose corn syrup
        in them. Giant Eagle makes their own Market brand that is okay.
        Grate your own Cheddar if you want better taste.
        Parsley and chives are good in this recipe.
        Don't be afraid to experiment!