Cakes · Family Favorites

Dirt Cake

Making pies and cakes from real dirt was part of my childhood. I gave that up years ago, but this Dirt Cake, made by daughter, Megan, was a real treat. A kid of any age loves this cake. Megan made with real whipped cream–delicious!

Dirt Cake

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 (3.5 ounce packages instant vanilla pudding mix)
  • 3.5 cups milk
  • 1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed OR 12 ounces freshly whipped cream (1.5 cups heavy cream, 1T. powdered sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla whipped to stiff peaks)
  • family size package OREOs
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Chop cookies very find in food processor. The white cream will disappear.
  2. Mix butter, cream cheese and sugar.
  3. In a large bowl mix milk, pudding and whipped topping (or whipped cream) together.
  4. Combine pudding mixture and cream mixture together.
  5. Layer in 9×13″ dish or use clean flower pots, starting with cookies, then cream mixture. Repeat. Top with layer of crushed cookies.
  6. Chill until set and ready to serve.
  7. Optional: Add gummy worms on top for fun!

Recipe from All Recipes

Cookies and Bars · Family · Family Favorites

Dan’s Oatmeal Cookies

Dan sent the recipe for these delicious cookies to daughter, Megan, and we loved them! They are chewy and ‘healthy’ or so we told ourselves. It’s wonderful to share our recipes with family and friends! Thanks, Dan!

Dan’s Oatmeal Cookies

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 pound margarine
  • 2 cups brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 cups uncooked oatmeal
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 8 oz. walnuts (optional)
  • 6 oz. dried cranberries or cherries (optional)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cream margarine and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture.
  4. Drop cookies onto cookie sheets and bake until golden brown.

Recipe shared by Dan Stout, a family favorite

Desserts · Family · Family Favorites · Holidays

Chocolate Mousse by Megan

Megan is the dessert queen of our family.  She whipped up this decadent dessert and served it in an antique compote dish of my Mother’s.  It was rich, velvety and so wonderful.  Perfect for your Valentine’s Day dinner…or anytime you want to spoil your family and friends.

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

6 ounces (170 g) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tablespoons (89 g) unsalted butter, cubed
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
Sweetened whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and fresh strawberries for garnish, optional

  • In a small heatproof bow, combine the chocolate and butter. Set the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir constantly until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat but leave the pot of simmering water on the burner.
  • In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until well combined. Set the bowl over the pot of barely simmering water and whisk for about 5 minutes, until the mixture turns pale and becomes slightly stiff. Remove from heat.
  • Stir in the vanilla followed by the chocolate mixture. Stir for a few more minutes to allow the mixture to cool then set aside until it cools to room temperature.
  • In a large bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Whisk 1/4 of the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate mixture. Use a silicone spatula to gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until fully mixed in.
  • Divide the mousse among four 6-ounce ramekins and refrigerate until set, about 1 hours.
  • Garnish with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, raspberries, or strawberries if desired.

HOMEMADE WHIPPED CREAM

1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

  • In a medium bowl, whip cream with an electric mixer on medium-low speed just until soft peaks form.
  • Add vanilla extract and sugar. Continue to whip until the cream forms stiff peaks. Make sure not to over beat, the cream will become lumpy and butter-like.

Recipe from bakedbyanintrovert.com

Casseroles · Family · Family Favorites · Gluten Free · Vegetables · Vegetarian

Irish Potato Casserole

Irish Potato Casserole is a favorite recipe shared with me by my sister-in-law, Betty, many years ago. I have served it often as a side with Prime Rib or with Baked Ham with many compliments. This is a wonderful potato dish that you can prepare the day before and have ready for the oven before your guests arrive. Over the years, I’ve substituted low-fat cream cheese and sour cream with equally good results. It’s a winner, winner chicken dinner kind of recipe!

I’ve shared a photo of the casserole before baking.  Every time I make this, I am in such a hurry to serve the meal, that I forget to take a picture after.  The after picture would be very similar but with a browned top….never said I was a professional blogger!

This Christmas we will again, have the Irish Potato Casserole with Prime Rib and other family favorites!

IRISH POTATO CASSEROLE

8 to 10 medium potatoes, peeled
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces sour cream
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt paprika

  • Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain and mash.
  • Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add potatoes and all other ingredients (except paprika) and beat until well combined.
  • Spoon into lightly buttered casserole and sprinkle with paprika.
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before baking. Uncover and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Cookies and Bars · Family · Family Favorites

Snickerdoodle Bars

Snickerdoodles have always been a family favorite.  What do you do when you want a Snickerdoodle but too lazy to make individual cookies?  You find a Snickerdoodle Bar recipe.  I doubled the recipe and made it in a 9 x 13 pan lined with parchment paper.  This recipe is easy and uses ingredients that are in most pantries.  Another recipe that will be made over and over again.

SNICKERDOODLE BARS

  • 1/2 c. Butter, room temp. (can use Vegan butter)
  • 1 Egg room temp.
  • 3/4 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 c. Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. Flour
  • 3/4 tsp. Cream of Tartar
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 3/4 tsp. Cinnamon

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:

  • 2 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • Allow butter and egg to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a bowl, mix together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined.
  • Add vanilla and egg and stir until fully mixed.
  • Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon to the bowl. Fold into the butter mixture until combined. Evenly spread the batter into the baking dish.
  • In a small bowl stir together sugar and cinnamon for the topping. Sprinkle on top of the cookie batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing and cutting into 16 squares.

Recipe from Mylifeafterdairy

Breads · Breakfast · Garden · My Roots · Vegan · Vegetarian

Wild Plum Jam

Wild Plums are a new discovery for me. A few weeks ago,  I was on a walk with my granddaughter when we saw these pretty purple, red and yellow fruit growing in the open space.  I brought a few back to house and identified them.  Wild Plums!  My daughter and her family walked to open space to pick several pounds of fruit. We were cautiously optimistic and decided to make a trial batch from the few ripe plums.  We left the skins on for the trial. It was delicious but and we did not like the texture of the cooked skins.

A week later, the rest of the plums were ripe and we decided to make and can the jam, using a food strainer to remove the skins.  My Mom’s trusty food strainer did the trick!

Vintage Sieve and Pistle

The jam is pretty and tart.  I can’t wait to try it on  breakfast toast, pancakes, or perhaps with a mild cheese.

Finding these little gems caused interest in the history of the wild plum and how Native Americans and our ancestors may have used them.  Wild Plums appear to grow in many states. The Minnesota Conservation Volunteer published an interesting history.

WILD PLUM JAM

5 pounds Wild Plums
5 cups sugar (the original recipe called for 10 cups of sugar)
4.5 tablespoons lemon juice

  • Pit the plums and place them into a thick bottomed pot.
  • Add in the lemon juice and cook for a few minutes, until the plums begin to release their juices.
  • Add in sugar and stir.  Simmer, stirring often for about 10 minutes.1/2 to compensate for the naturally sweeter fruit.
  • When the jam thickens, pour the hot jam into a food sieve.  Press to remove the juice and pulp.  Discard the remaining skins.  Put back on heat to assure the jam returns to temperature.
  • Pour the hot jam into prepared canning jars.  At this point, the jam can either be stored in the refrigerator or processed for 10 minutes in a water bath canner.
  • After a 10 minute process, turn off the heat, wait 5 more minutes and then remove the jars from the canner.
  • Allow the jars to cool, and after 24 hours place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks.

Recipe adapted from Earthfoodandfire.com

Family Favorites · Fish

Low Country Boil

Many years ago my husband’s family had a large family reunion on the North Carolina Beach.  Each family took turns cooking dinner.  My brother-in-law, Ron, and his wife, Cathy treated us to a Low Country Boil.  It was wonderful and something our family still loves.  While we are landlocked, we can still enjoy a good Low Country Boil.

LOW COUNTRY BOIL

5 quarts water
2 pounds Kielbasa or hot smoked link sausage, cut in 1″ pieces
4 pounds small new red potatoes
6 ears fresh sweet corn, husked and cleaned
4 pounds fresh shrimp in the shell
1 red onion
Old Bay Seafood seasoning
Cocktail Sauce

Optional:  Add fresh, cleaned mussels or crab at the same time as the shrimp.

  • Bring 5 quarts water and 1/4 cup Old Bay Seasoning to a rolling boil in a large covered stockpot.
  • Add potatoes and onion; bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes.
  • Add sausage and corn, and return to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or
    until potatoes are tender.
  • Add shrimp to stockpot; cook 3-4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Drain. Serve with Old Bay Seasoning and cocktail sauce.
  • Serve all on large serving platters. Dig in!
Breakfast · Cakes · Family · Home

My Favorite Things … What’s Keeping Me Sane

Living through a Pandemic was certain not on my wish list but here we are. While I try to keep an upbeat attitude, my first inclination is go dark but I’ve learned that doesn’t accomplish a thing.

Keeping busy with things that interest me is key. I have a long list of ‘to-dos’ that I have been ignoring so … get on it, Cathy! There is yardwork and garden preparation, closets to be cleaned, Shutterfly books to finish, genealogy research to be done, etc. I try to accomplish a little of this each day but self-care and personal connection is most important.

This is day 13 of self isolation except for a very protected trip to get my allergy shot (extreme tree pollen allergies) and porch delivery of my Mom’s chicken and noodles to my girls and their families.

Each day the weather cooperates, I try to go on a long walk. Seeing neighbors outside playing with their children, sitting on their front porch or simply waving to neighbors warms my heart.  The two best experiences while walking were 1) encountering a family of dinosaurs with Mom and little daughter in full dinosaur costumes and Dad in a mask; 2) completing a chalk lava field drawn by a child on their sidewalk.  I love to see such creativity!

Talking with my girls and my grandchildren is saving me, too.  My grandchildren are ages 6, 4, 3 and 1.  The opportunity to read books, have dance parties, and just play via video chat is a wonderful capability that we all can enjoy.  Talking with friends, Virtual yoga with my Hot Flash yoga pals, virtual happy hour with our local winery, and family Zoom sessions also help to keep me connected.

I’ve not been to the store since Friday, March 13 but I have plenty to eat.  My Mother taught us to always have a full pantry and freezer and now is the time to use it!  To conserve on eggs, I’ve shifted my daily egg to a breakfast cake I’m loving with a dollop or yogurt!

Breakfast Cake

2 mashed bananas
1.4 cups oatmeal
2 beaten eggs
3 cups berries (fresh, frozen or canned/drained–even less works just fine)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Mix together and placed in greased pan (about 8×10″) and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cut in squares.

I heat a square of breakfast cake in the microwave for 20 seconds and then add a dollop of Greek Yogurt. So yummy!

This experience causes me to think back to the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic and the hardship of those times.  What did our ancestors do in quarantine, usually with a multitude of children and no chance of grocery delivery or the care of today’s modern medicine.  My Grandma Susie would be slaving over a hot wood cookestove in a very tiny house, with 4 little kids running underfoot.  To my knowledge, no one in our family died during that time but I do not know who may have contracted the disease, either.  

A friend shared with me that her Grandmother had written a journal during the time of the Spanish Flu and she has been reading it.  It prompted her to start a journal for her grandchildren.  What a great idea! I am not a journal kind of person, but this is such a unique time in our lives, that I think it is important to document what this experience has been like.  Perhaps we can actually learn from our mistakes in the future.

In closing let me thank everyone who is sacrificing their own safety to care for the people of the United States. You are our true heroes!

God Bless and Stay Well!

Family · Family Favorites · Holidays · Home

Thanksgiving Family Favorites

And these are a few of my favorite things!  Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.

CRANBERRY RELISH

CRANBERRY BREAD

Cranberry Bread

PUMPKIN PIE

The Best Ever Pumpkin Pie

PUMPKIN BREAD

PUMPKIN BARS

QUINOA WITH ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH, PINE NUTS, FETA

ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS, CINNAMON SQUASH, PECANS & DRIED CHERRIES

TURKEY AND DRESSING

TURKEY VEGETABLE SOUP

Cookies and Bars · Family Favorites · Holidays · New Traditions

Sugar Cookies for Valentine’s Day

Sugar cookies for Valentine’s Day is such a treat. I’m usually not a big fan of actually making them (but always a fan of eating them) because of the work involved.  This year, however, I was motivated and found the process fun…walk down memory lane. The cookie recipe came from my sister, Carolyn.  She made these when her kids were younger and I loved them.

 

My kids and I started a tradition last year of gathering around Valentine’s Day for a group dinner and, this year, the cookies will be our dessert.  I loved cutting out the smaller hearts for the little ones.  We need to enjoy it because who knows when I’ll be motivated once again!

SUGAR COOKIES

3 cup sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 scant teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup shortening (butter, Crisco, etc.)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg in a bowl.  Cut in shortening.
  • In a separate bowl beat eggs.  Add sugar, milk and vanilla.  Beat well.
  • Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and mix well.
  • Chill dough for at least one hour (I chilled overnight).
  • Roll out 1/2 dough on floured surface and return remaining dough to refrigerator until ready to roll out.  (I found the dough a bit sticky so used quite a bit of flour while rolling out).  Cut into desired shapes.
  • Optional:  At this point you can sprinkle with decorative colored sugar if you don’t want to ice the cookies. I did this for half of the recipe.
  • Bake cookies on ungreased baking sheet at 375 degrees for about 7 minutes or until a light brown on the edges.

CREAMY ICING:

3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4-6 tablespoons cream (or half and half)
drop or two of red food coloring (to reach the desired color of pink or red)

  • Blend ingredients together to make an icing with a thin consistency.  This will be enough icing for the entire cookie recipe.  I made half of the icing recipe and iced half of the batch.