Family Favorites · Holidays

Dutch Apple Pie

Autumn inspires me to bake, especially the traditional Apple Pie. Don’t get me wrong, I love traditional, 2 crust apple pie but I LOVE a Dutch Apple pie with its delectable crunchy topping. This recipe, from McCall’s Cook Book 1963 has been in my recipe box for a L-O-N-G time and always a winner. It’s a crowd-pleaser and the aroma of the baking pie fills the house with baked love!

DUTCH APPLE PIE

9 inch unbaked pie shell

TOPPING:
2/3 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup butter

FILLING:
1 pound tart cooking apples
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup sugar
dash salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Prepare pie shell; refrigerate until used.
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Make Topping: Combine flour and sugar in medium-sized bowl. Cut in butter, with pastry blender or 2 knives, until mixture is consistency of coarse cornmeal. Refrigerate.
  • Make Filling: Core apples, and pare; thinly slice into large bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Combine flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon,mixing well. Toss lightly with apples.
  • Turn filling into unbaked pie shell, spreading evenly. Cover with topping.
  • Bake 40-45 minutes or until apples are tender.
  • Serve warm.  Options:  top with whipped cream or ice cream

Czech Heritage and Dishes · Family · My Roots

Father’s Day Memories

My Dad,  Archie, was one of the funniest men I ever knew.  His sense of humor was direct, often dry, and accepted by all.  He could say things to people that no one else could say and they would laugh heartily and love him dearly.  Love of laughter is one of the great gifts my Father gave to me.  I miss him.

When I was 12 years old my Father died as a result of a farming accident. From that day forward my life changed forever. He would never attend one of my high school sporting or music events…he wouldn’t walk me down the aisle…he wouldn’t get to hold my children in his arms and play with them. But he is always with me…always.

Photographs of my Father and I are near and dear to my heart because there are few. Taking a photograph ‘back in the day’ required film, developing, flash bulbs and they were treasured….not to mention that my Father was camera-shy.

Before my Mother died, she passed on photos my Uncle Mahlon ‘Sparky’ took when I was little.  These are some of the most treasured photos of my childhood.

Archie and Cathy Smaha

The sweater my Father is wearing in this picture, is one I wore through high school and still have in my Mother’s cedar chest (if you’re under 50, you probably don’t know what that is).

Dad, I know you’re listening, and know I love you and miss you! Heavenly hugs to you and to Mom.

Family Favorites · New Traditions

Peppermint Buttons just in time for Christmas!

Peppermint Buttons are a relatively new family favorite, brought to us by former neighbor.  Several years ago Pam shared this recipe with us during one of my Holiday Cookie Exchanges (I must have another one some year soon).  It’s easy, refreshing, and soooo yummy.

Peppermint Buttons

PEPPERMINT BUTTONS

1/2 cup browned butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup flour
1/2 cup coarsely crushed hard peppermint candies

  • To browned butter, place butter in an 8 to 10 inch frying pan over medium heat until lightly browned, 5-10 minutes. Pour into a bowl and cool.
  • In a bowl with a mixer, beat butter with sugar until well blended. Then beat in egg white and vanilla.
  • In another bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Add to butter mixture. Stir then beat until well mixed. Stir in crushed peppermint candies.
  • Drop dough in 1/2 tsp portions 1 inch apart onto buttered cookie sheets.
  • Bake in 350F oven until tops of cookies begin to look slightly cracked and are deep golden, 8 to 10 minutes. If using more than 1 pan in oven, switch pan positions halfway through baking.
  • With a wide spatula, transfer cookies to racks to cool. If hot cookies start to break, slide a thin spatula under them to release, let stand on pan to firm, 2-5 minutes, then transfer to racks.
  • Yield: 120 1 inch cookies
Family Favorites · New Favorite · New Traditions

Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip

Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip is a holiday/party regular.  This is an easy, tasty appetizer to serve for a holiday party or family gathering.

SPINACH ARTICHOKE DIP (BAKED) WITH PITA CHIPS

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1 can (14 ounces) artichoke heart quarters, drained and coarsely chopped
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeeze to drain
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese
Toasted baguette slices, assorted crackers or Pita Chips (recipe below)

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese. Stir in artichoke hearts, spinach and bell pepper.
  • Spoon mixture into greased 1-quart casserole.
  • Sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese.

  • Cover and bake 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve warm with pita chips, crackers or baguette slices.

PITA CHIPS:

Package pita bread
olive oil
garlic salt
Fresh shredded parmesan cheese

  • Brush pita bread with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan cheese.
  • Bake pita in oven until cheese melts and bread is toasted.
  • Remove from oven and cut into 6 or 8 wedges per pita bread.
Family Favorites

Cranberry Bread…tart, sweet and warm from the oven!

Cranberry Bread was a favorite of mine back in the day.  I would make several loaves to give as gifts for the holidays when I young, single and fancy-free in St. Joe, MO.  I’m glad to have this recipe back on my radar screen.  The kids loved it.  The tartness of the cranberries complimented by the sweet dough is wonderfully delicious warm from the oven with butter.

The bread freezes well to make ahead for holiday gifts.

CRANBERRY BREAD

2 cups flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
3/4 cup orange juice
1 beaten egg
1 cup raw cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)

  • Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, soda and sugar. Add the orange juice, melted butter, then add beaten egg.
  • Mix well and add the chopped cranberries. Put into greased loaf pan and fill half full of batter.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool for 10 minutes and then run knife around the pan to remove loaf.

 

My Roots

Peanut Brittle

Peanut Brittle was a Christmas tradition for my Mother. As a matter of fact, she would make so many candies to share with the neighbors, family and friends. Her home-made candy traditions included the peanut brittle, divinity, chocolate fudge, peanut butter fudge, and caramels. I’ve gained 10 pounds just thinking about it…and this doesn’t even include the list of cookies and breads she would make! She would decorate a box and include a sampling of all of her wonderful goodies.

While I wish I could do the same, I know that I would be sampling everything a little too much so only make a few of my favorites this year. Peanut Brittle is a favorite and at least it has ‘some’ protein, right?

Whatever your traditions, continue and share the memories or your childhood with your children and encourage them to create their own traditions.

PEANUT BRITTLE

1 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 cups raw peanuts
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup white sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda (added after candy has cooked)

  • Combine everything but peanuts and baking soda, and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
  • Add raw peanuts. Boil and stir constantly with wooden spoon about 15-20 minutes.
  • Cook to hard crack stage (300 degrees). Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon baking soda.
  • Don’t stir much after you add the baking soda.
  • Pour in large buttered cookie sheet and spread out to corners fast with hands while hot and place quickly on cold table, cement or surface until foam disappears and candy hardens.
  • When cool, break into pieces.
New Traditions

Black Olive Tapenade Appetizer

This recipe has become a favorite of my gal-pals and friends for appetizers and potlucks.  Olive Tapenade would be a great appetizer for your New Year’s Gatherings. It is so easy, especially using my favorite dicing tool, the Vidalia Chop Wizard, to make easy work of the dicing, resulting in uniform pieces.

BLACK OLIVE TAPENADE

1 can pitted black (or kalmata) olives, drained
1/4 cup chopped walnuts 
3 tablespoons capers, drained
chopped red bell pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
assorted crackers, sliced French baguette

Finely chopped the black olives, walnuts and red peppers. Add olive oil, capers, rosemary, Italian seasoning, and minced garlic; stir together.

Spoon into serving dish.  Garnish with fresh rosemary sprig or sprinkle of diced red pepper. 

Optional: spread crackers with goat cheese and top with tapenade.

Family Favorites · Holidays

Rum Cake … a Christmas must!

I first tasted Rum Cake in 1978 and have made it every year since then.  I was living in St. Joseph, MO and picked up a recipe card at my local grocery/liquor store.  That very worn but loved recipe card is still in my recipe box.

My Oldest daughter, Megan, advises that she’s making two this year; one to have at home for her husband and guests and one to take to the in-laws for Christmas Eve. I’ll make one for our family to enjoy on Christmas Day, too.  I may have to sneak a piece of rum cake for breakfast with a piping hot cup of coffee.  And visions of Rum Cake dance in my head…

RUM CAKE

1 cup chopped pecans
1 package yellow cake mix
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup Bacardi dark rum

GLAZE:
1 stick margarine
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Bacardi dark rum

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 10″ tube or bundt pan.
  • Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan.
  • Mix first seven ingredients together. Pour batter over nuts.
Rum Cake Batter ready for the oven
  • Bake 1 hour. Cool. Invert onto serving plate. Prick top of cake.

  • Make glaze by melting butter, then stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup rum.
  • Drizzle and smooth glaze evenly over top and sides of cake. Allow cake to absorb glaze. Repeat until glaze is all gone.
  • When cool, cover cake.
Holidays · New Traditions

Cinnamon Hard Candy for the Holidays

Cinnamon hard candy is a holiday tradition that began in my household about 12 years ago. Daughter, Megan, received a bag of candy from a friend and we were instantly in love with it.  We’ve made several batches every year to give to family and friends.  The sumptuous smell of cinnamon lingers in your home for the day. The candy keeps for a long time, especially in the dry Colorado climate.  It’s pretty to wrap up in festive bags for gifts.

Cinnamon Candy Gift Bag

CINNAMON HARD CANDY

1 cup white sugar
1 cup karo syrup
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon oil (usually behind the prescription counter at your grocery store)
1/4 teaspoon red food coloring                                                                     powdered sugar

Ingredients for Cinnamon Hard Candy
  • Combine sugar, syrup and water in a sauce pan.
  • Boil without stirring, over medium-high heat until it reaches hard crack stage (300-310 degrees).
  • Once the candy starts to thicken and turn golden brown, watch carefully or it can scorch.
  • When done, remove from heat and quickly add cinnamon oil and food coloring
  • Pour into a metal pan that has been lined with about 1/4 to 1/3″ powdered sugar.
Cinnamon Hard Candy Mixture poured into pan with powdered sugar
  • Sprinkle powdered sugar on top of candy immediately. Let cool until the edges start to firm up and then immediately begin to score the pieces from around the edges and keep cutting inward, in squares, as the candy hardens.  This makes it easier to break into more uniform pieces once the candy has hardened.
Cinnamon Hard Candy scored in pan