Saturday, December 29, 2012

German Sweet Bread (Stollen)

What a perfect day to bake Stollen! The snow was floating down in thick clumps and it was Christmas Eve. It brought back happy memories of holiday seasons past--the decorated tree, wrapped Christmas gifts, stockings hanging by the fire, and joyful children racing through the house.

I miss those festive days, but will pass the joy on to you. This recipe was given to me by a friend who got it from her mother who came to the United States from Germany. We liked it so much that we ate it not just at Christmas, but also for brunches on special occasions, winter or summer. I entered the stollen in a baking contest in the summer, decorated with Black-eyed Susan s made of candied pineapple petals and sliced date centers. It won first place  and was published in The Elwood Call Leader in Elwood, Indiana, in the mid 1970's.

The decorations in Winter are usually candied cherries--red or green and pecans. This recipe makes four medium sized loaves that you can share with your friends as gifts or at your next party. Don't forget to get the children involved in the preparation. Watch out for the Santas in your house. In my home they nearly polished off an entire loaf before we got up on Christmas morning.


1/4 cup water
2 packs of yeast or 2 scant tablespoons
pinch of sugar

1 1/4 cups milk (Scalded)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter (softened)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 beaten eggs
5 2/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup plumped raisins (Measure raisins and soak in 1/2 cup warm water for about 10 minutes)
1/2 cup candied fruit (Citron, cherries, pineapple-your choice)
lemon zest (optional)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

1. Put lukewarm water in small bowl; add pinch of sugar and yeast. Stir and allow to set until foamy...

2. Meanwhile scald milk, do not boil! add sugar, butter, salt and cool to lukewarm.

3. Add eggs, yeast mixture and 3 cups of flour. Mix until smooth.

4. Add spices, raisins (drained), citron, lemon zest, nuts, and remaining flour a cup at a time. Knead on floured surface to form a soft dough. Form into a ball, place in large buttered bowl and let rise until double in bulk.

5. After rising, Cut into four equal pieces and flatten each into oval shapes. Butter and fold in half,long ways. Place two breads each long ways on greased cookie sheets. Cover with warm towel and allow to rise until double. Bake 375 degrees for 25 minutes until light brown. Remove to rack and cool. Ice with butter frosting and decorate with candied fruit. Share!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Peanut Butter Fudge

While shopping at the grocery store the other day, my sister, Wilma, met an elderly woman who was so excited about a recipe she had discovered that she couldn't wait to tell everyone.

That's one thing about being a senior citizen--it's okay to talk to total strangers in the middle of the baking isle at the grocery store. So I would like to thank the creative chemist who thought up this recipe with only two ingredients! Yes, you read that right--just two.


2 cups peanut butter
1 can vanilla or white icing (or chocolate if you prefer)

But wait, there is a caveat. Make sure you buy the cheap peanut butter, not the all natural with just peanuts and peanut oil ( The fudge will turn out too soft.) If you prefer to use natural, try peanut butter with coconut oil or something that makes it homogenized--in other words, it should have a spreading consistency without having to stir it.

1. Pour the can of frosting into a medium-sized microwave safe bowl.

2. Heat in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes.

3. Add peanut butter and mix until smooth.

4. Pour into a buttered 8x8 baking dish.

5. Place in refrigerator until set.

6. Cut into cubes and serve only when you are having guests. Otherwise you're likely to eat the entire dish yourself--not good for you, unless you are a senior who is of a mind that you should have dessert first because life is short.

I used Chocolate icing for this batch:

This is great to make with children, but be sure only adults handle the icing while it is hot. Making goodies with your kids is great fun. Make enough to give some to their favorite people, like Grandma, Grandpa, and their teachers.
Wrap it in a gift bag and see if they can keep a secret until the holidays!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Cake

Here is another Thanksgiving recipe for all you people who have probably already shopped or already have these items in your cupboard. You won't find it boring or just like every other pumpkin pie and it will certainly wake up your taste buds. My daughter Becky makes this dessert every year when she goes to the fall family get-together. Try it out and let me know if you like it better than plain pumpkin pie.

3 cups solid packed pumpkin
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup evaporated milk (add water to make two cup)

1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cup melted butter

In large mixing bowl combine eight  top ingredients and pour in rectangular cake pan.Then sprinkle top of pumpkin mixture with entire box of yellow cake mix. Next sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Finally melt 1 1/2 sticks of butter and pour over cake mix. Bake in 350 degree preheated oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Serve with Redi Wip or ice cream. Are you going to change your favorite pumpkin dish to Pumpkin Pie Cake?

My Michele Pumpkin Cake

This year I didn't have any grandchildren to help me cook for Thanksgiving. So sadly, I had to make this cake on my own. My sister Wilma sent this pumpkin cake recipe that looked very simple and interesting. She named it "My Michele Pumpkin Cake" for the friend who gave her the recipe. Thank you Michele. I hope you don't mind if I made a few changes.

I mixed this cake and had it ready for the oven in seven minutes--and I'm slow. Imagine what you can do with it--super easy and delicious. Your kids could make this cake with very little help. Remember to put the cake in the oven yourself and then remove it.  Make ahead and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

1 box yellow cake mix
1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin
2 tbsp. water
1 can sweetened condensed milk
butter brickle pieces
"Readdi Wip" or your favorite whipped topping

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the first three ingredients until smooth. You may need to add a little more water. Your batter should be about the consistency of pancake batter. Pour into a greased rectangular cake pan and bake until light brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and prick top with a toothpick (20-30 times) and pour one can of sweetened condensed milk over warm cake. Allow to cool for about an hour before serving or store in refrigerator for later. When ready to serve, top with Readdi Wip or whipped topping. Sprinkle with Butterbrickle pieces and/or caramel syrup. This is rich and decadent, so serve it in small pieces. Store covered in refrigerator.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies

Recently, during Hurricane Sandy, we lost our electrical power. We couldn't use the oven, so I thought of a cookie I used to make with the kids that didn't need to be baked. It was made with raw oatmeal and a chocolate concoction that was cooked on top of the gas stove.

As I recall during winter snowstorms we used to make these fudgy little morsels and decided we'd make some for the family while we sat out the storm.

Make sure you get these basic ingredients before the next big nor'easter hits.

2 Cups sugar
3 Tablespoons Cocoa
1 Stick butter
1/2 Cup milk
2 1/2 Cup instant oatmeal
1/2 Cup peanut butter
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

In a medium saucepan combine sugar, cocoa, butter, and milk. Bring to a boil and stir for about two minutes. Remove from stove and add oats, vanilla, and peanut butter. Beat until blended and starts to thicken.

Drop mixture onto wax paper by the teaspoonful and allow to cool.

These are great snacks with a glass of milk. Play a board game with the kids--Candy land or Scrabble or get a little exercise with Twister. How about cards, Old Maid, or Go Fish.

These times, when the pace changes and you depend on each other for entertainment and fun, are unforgettable.

I have a niece who was having so much fun with her parents during a blackout that, when the lights came back on, she turned them off and said, "Continue." And they did.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Jewish Apple Cake

One day in September I was chatting on Facebook when I saw a message from someone looking for an apple cake recipe. I went looking through my files and recipe books and found the one I used years ago. After discovering the perfect recipe it was time to shop for apples. The bright yellow and red Gala apples, my favorites, were displayed in green paper bags, covered with recipes, pretending to be fresh.  I got all tingly just thinking about it. When I got and home I tried one. What a disappointment-- leathery with tough skin, no juice running down my chin, apparently not this year's crop. The recipe for Jewish Apple Cake, with a picture of bright red apples at the top, laid on the counter and waited for the perfect apples.

This weekend we went to West Virginia and found the perfect Gala apples--crisp, juicy, sweet, tender,West Virginia grown, and this years crop. Now it's time to make Jewish Apple Cake, good anytime you have fresh juicy apples.You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy this cake, but it's certainly best in the fall when you have access to the best Mother Nature has to offer.

Jewish Apple Cake

Liberally grease a bunt pan with butter and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1. In a large mixing bowl combine:

   1 stick of butter
   1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
   1 teaspoon vanilla

   add 2 large eggs one at a time and whip after each addition.

2. In a medium mixing bowl combine with wire whip:

   2 cups of flour
   1 teaspoon soda
   1 teaspoon cinnamon
   1/2 teaspoon salt

   Add to egg mixture

3. In a small bowl combine:

   2 large peeled chopped apples
   1 cup sour cream
   1 teaspoon vanilla

4.Begin with 1/3 of cake batter in bottom of pan, cover with half of apples mixture, then 1/3 cake batter, remaining of apple mixture then top with cake mixture.You will have 5 layers.

5. Crumble Topping:

   1/2 cup brown sugar
   1/2 cup flour
   1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
   4 tablespoons butter
Combine with a fork and sprinkle on top of cake batter and bake cake for about 45 minutes until golden brown and set until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10-20 minutes.

6. Glaze:
   In a small bowl combine 1/2 cup brown sugar
   1/2 teaspoon vanilla
   2 tablespoons water

Drizzle glaze over cake after removing from pan. Allow to harden until ready to serve.

Last year one of my daughters, 2 grandchildren, and I picked apples in the fall and made a cake. Children love helping harvest as much as they do the cooking and baking. Check out the orchards in your area and see if you can find one where you can pick your own apples. The experience of walking through the orchard and finding your favorite apples and knowing they are this year's crop is a wonderful experience.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wilma's Peanut Butter Chews

Years ago my sister Wilma made Peanut butter Chews with her children and now she makes them with her grandchildren. These cookies are so simple to make and so delicious they'll probably become a favorite in your family.

A couple years ago my sisters and I met in Texas at my son's house.I awoke early one morning for breakfast and heard Wilma spinning a yarn in the kitchen. Now if anyone can tell a story it's Wilma. I peaked into the kitchen to see my three grandsons, who used to bake with me, having way too much fun with Aunt Wilma.    I poured a cup of coffee, sat at the table and put on my listening ears.

"Now boys, the recipe for Peanut Butter Chews is a family secret and the only way I can tell you is if you promise not to tell it to a soul."

"Oh, we promise," they said.

She continued giving instructions until they finished the cookies.Then she told them to write the recipe on a card and someday teach their children how to make them.

"But wait. I thought we weren't supposed to tell."

"Oh, I was just pulling your leg," she said. They're so good you won't be able to keep them a secret. Now have a cookie."


In a medium saucepan combine: 1 cup sugar and 1 cup corn syrup.

Bring the ingredients to a boil on medium heat and cook one minute. Remove pan from burner,and add 1 cup of peanut butter. Stir until smooth.
Add five cups of cornflakes and stir until coated evenly with the sweet chewy caramel. Drop on wax paper by teaspoons full until firm and cool. This recipe makes two dozen cookies that don't have to be baked. Try this  recipe with your kids or grand kids. Watch out, if you let the word out that you know how to make Peanut Butter Chews you'll be asked to bring them to every bake sale and party you go to!

Enjoy it, but don't ask me to bring them to your party!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Beautiful Pea Green Boat

I can't see a green pepper without thinking of "The Owl and the Pussy Cat."  You may think that's strange, but after reading this post you'll understand.  Most children are picky eaters, preferring sweets to any other taste, but it's very logical since the first food they eat is mommy milk.  Human milk, in case you don't remember, tastes so sweet you would swear someone poured in some sugar.  Considering the bonding and joy the whole life-giving process of nursing gives, there's no wonder children prefer sweets.

Since we know humans need vegetables to have a balanced diet we have to figure ways to get kids to eat them.  We can hide them in a casserole or make them seem to be something they're not. I prefer the latter.  I have a creative granddaughter who loves poems, songs, and anything that rhymes. She has several Mother Goose and children's traditional song books.  These are her favorites and She loves the poem "The Owl and The Pussy Cat."  It begins, "The Owl and the Pussy Cat went to sea in a beautiful pea green boat.  They took some honey and lots of money wrapped up in a five pound note..."

From reading this rhyme we quickly jump to lunch and vegetables. The princess eagerly accepts "A beautiful pea green boat" made of half a green pepper with oars made from two slices of the remaining side of the pepper.  We fill the boat with a scoop of humus and add cucumber slices (money).  You can also create miniature docks out of whole grain crackers!

Your children will eat a healthy snack without even realizing it if you use your imagination to create meals.  Add a figurine of an owl and a cat if you have one.  Try other peppers--yellow, red or orange.  How about some carrots or celery? Have you got a recipe to get children to eat vegetables?  Tell us about it! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How to Make a Dump Cake

Are you a survivalist?  Perhaps you don't consider yourself to be one and yet find yourself putting stuff away for a rainy day.  I've always done that--buying canned and packaged food when it's on sale and working it into my menus.  Since I've moved in with my son and his wife, I help out by preparing many of the meals during the week.  They store even more food than I do and have made me more aware of rotating stored food by expiration date.  Yesterday I made a green bean casserole--one of our favorites--using canned green beans, mushroom soup, and dried onion rings.  When we go shopping, we replace the cans we've used with new ones.

My daughter-in-law recently noticed they had a lot of canned fruit while we were shelving the food in the storage area, so she asked me if I could make a dessert with some of it.  We perused the shelves and found several cans of pineapple chunks and a family sized can of sliced peaches that had been setting a while.  Then I spied a box of yellow cake mix and decided to make a dump cake.

I collected my items and headed up the stairs and in 15 minutes my dessert was in the oven.  This recipe is also great to make even if you don't have electricity!  You can also bake dump cake in a cast iron Dutch oven using coals from a fire -- just assemble the dump cake in the same way and cover the lid with hot coals until fully cooked.

                                             Dump Cake

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 large can sliced peaches
1 medium can pineapple chunks or tidbits
1 box white or yellow cake mix
1 stick butter (no substitute)
Cinnamon sugar

Spray oblong cake pan or large rectangular baking dish with cooking spray.
Dump peaches and pineapple along with juices into the pan.
(You may substitute fresh or frozen fruit along with 3/4 cup of water.)
Sprinkle dry cake mix over top of fruit and pat down to cover fruit evenly.
Thinly slice butter and place on top of cake mix covering completely.
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar to taste.
Place pan in preheated oven and bake 40-45 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.
Serve warm or cold with ice cream or whipped cream.
Best if shared with kids.  (Refrigerate leftovers.)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Surprise Oatmeal Pancakes

I got this basic recipe during the 1970’s from a Chicago friend of ours named Mike.  He was a traveling salesman and visited our area about once a month and usually spent the night.  One morning while he was there we were about to make breakfast when he decided to help out.  He made these wonderful oatmeal pancakes that were so delicious we adopted them for our own.  We’ve turned them into a Sunday brunch tradition at our home.  They never get boring because we change them by adding everything from blueberries to nuts and chocolate chips.  Let the children or grandchildren help out with this project.  They love making choices and adding their own  favorite ingredients.  

1 egg
1 tbsp. canola oil
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
½ cup milk
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup whole wheat flour
1½ cups old fashioned oatmeal

Optional: ½ cup chopped apple, a sprinkling of cinnamon, chocolate chips, blueberries, sliced strawberries, sliced almonds, chopped pecans, applesauce or anything else you or your assistants have chosen.

Directions: Preheat griddle to 350 degrees.
In a medium sized mixing bowl whip egg with oil.  Add salt, cinnamon, honey, yogurt and milk.  Mix thoroughly and then add wheat flour, oatmeal, baking powder, and soda.  Add the optional ingredients of your choice or those of your assistants.
Pour batter onto a warm preheated griddle and cook until beginning to set.  Turn pancakes over and continue to cook until springy in center.  These pancakes burn easily so keep temperature lower than recommended by griddle manufacturers.  Place on platter when done and keep warm in oven until ready to eat.  I promise your family will love these.  Serve with maple syrup, your favorite jam, or fruit.  Turn off the TV and telephone, sit at the table and have a conversation with your family.  What a treat!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Crock-pot Pulled Chicken Barbecue

One of my daughters has wholeheartedly embraced the internet and its conveniences. She buys diapers, soap, paper products and much more at a reduced rate saving fuel, money, and countless hours in her crazy busy schedule as a professional.

She found a website that tailors her food to her lifestyle with recipes, shopping lists, and even delivery far cheaper and faster than she could do on her own. In addition she avoids buying junk food that would tempt her at the store.

Recently she gave a birthday party for her son--my grandson. She did it at home and saved a bundle by preparing all the food with a little help from Grandma. One of the dishes was Crock-pot Pulled Chicken Barbecue. It was quite a hit and I decided that I would play around with the recipe and make it my own. I prepared it for a  CAPA (Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association) meeting and everyone loved it. Try these tender tasty fragrant little stuffed buns. I promise you won't be disappointed. Doesn't it make your mouth water just thinking about that tangy, sweet sauce?

 Pulled Chicken Barbecue


3 pound frozen skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 large chopped onion
28 ounce bottle barbecue sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's)
1/2 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. honey
Small whole wheat buns (Remember you need enough for a party.)


Place frozen chicken breasts into crock pot. Chop onion and sprinkle over chicken. In a mixing bowl combine the rest of ingredients and pour over the chicken and onions. Cover and set temperature to low for about 6-8 hours or 4-5 hours on high. (I cooked it overnight on low.)When done remove lid. Smell that aroma while you use two forks to pull the meat into small bits. (Recipe makes about 20-30 sandwiches.) There is no salt added since there is salt in several of the ingredients. Go ahead--sample it. I know you want to!

It's great served with potato salad and coleslaw. Come on Grandma you and the kids can help with this.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Letter Pancake Saga

Occasionally I make pancakes for breakfast for my grandchildren.  It’s a quick meal that they really enjoy and in which I can hide nutrients—a little applesauce anyone?  Today though was a little different.
My granddaughter sat in the middle of the kitchen floor when I asked, “What do you want for breakfast, Sweetie Pie?  How about some pancakes?”
“How about some Baby Bear pancakes with honey?” she replied.
“Yes, but how about Baby Bear’s letter pancakes, two letters, B.B.—for Baby Bear,” I said.
“Great idea, Grandma, but wait, how about L.P. instead?”
“Wow, you know your initials! Right you are—L.P."
And so it began, the letter pancake saga. Every time I made pancakes, no matter what flavor they were, we turned them into letters and used them to write words.  When Little Bear, her brother, joins in the game we have even more letters.
They are learning to read and write and don’t even know it.  How about taking a bite off the right side of a capital ‘H’ and turning it into a lower case ‘h’?  How could they turn an ‘I’ into an ‘i’?  What letters should we use tomorrow?  I bet they could think of many more ideas—especially with a little help.  Oh, the joys of having a teacher grandma—Granny Nanny, that is!  Can you think of other ways to turn a meal into a learning experience?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Aunt Lucy's 3-2-1 Cupcakes

I have only one problem with baking a cake—I don’t stop eating until it’s all gone. My solution has always been to only make cakes for special occasions when we will have company to consume it or we give it away.
I live in a community of seniors and I love to cook. Whenever I bring my sweet tooth granddaughter home to bake, we make cupcakes or muffins and pass them out like Santa or the Easter Bunny. This teaches my granddaughter the joys of cooking and sharing, and to be moderate in her consumption of sweets.
But if you are not into baking and occasionally want a quick cupcake, try this recipe that my sister Lucy posted on Facebook.
It is called “3-2-1 Cake” and is ready in one minute.

  1. Begin by combining one box of Angel Food Cake mix and one box of any other flavor cake mix you choose in a large zip lock bag.
  2. In a custard cup combine 3 tablespoons of the dry mix and add two tablespoons of water. Stir. Place in microwave and bake 1 minute on high.
  3. Remove cupcake and cool for one minute.
  4. Add a dollop of whipping cream and enjoy. If you have a grandchild to share with then make two, but put the mix away until another day—out of sight out of mind.
  5. You can have your own little tea party with a sugar cube in the tea and a giggling sweetie pie beside you. Now don’t you feel like royalty?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy New Year Sleepover

My four and a half year old granddaughter and my two and a half year old grandson came to spend the night with Grandma and Grandpa on New Years Eve. They were jumping for joy, tossing coats, dumping toys, and investigating every inch of our small space. Since they hadn’t eaten we made plates and tried to calm them down so they could sit and eat, but it seemed to be a lost cause. We finally decided to divide and conquer.

Grandpa tried to assemble Bam-Bam’s tool bench with him, but soon discovered that a first time sleepover was far too exciting to concentrate on nuts and bolts. Large pieces of the new toy kept disappearing or being transformed into trampolines, or rocket ships. The job was finally scuttled in favor of a large floor puzzle.

The princess and I finished making Challah. We kneaded the dough and separated it into three parts, two we put in loaf pans and the rest the princess shaped into fluffy buns with happy faces—Grandma’s braided bread was far too boring for a New Year’s Eve Party.

The princess gently placed the fluffy bundles on a greased cookie sheet, patted them, and then finally covered the little faces with a towel like sleeping babies under a blanket.

Next we ate popcorn and toasted the New Year with “champagne”. Don’t tell the princess it was just fizzy grape juice, or that it is not really midnight. The Prince can’t get into pretend; he is a boy who just likes grape juice. Then we settled down to a movie that dad brought over entitled, Despicable Me. It had a villain, abused as a child, who was transformed into a good father by three little orphaned girls.

By 10:30 we had warm happy-face buns and chocolate milk with marshmallows. The children were happy they have kind parents and grandparents who love them—not like the orphans in the movie. We settled down for a story and last a long winter’s nap with Grandma sandwiched in between and Grandpa sleeping on the couch.

I lay there thinking how lucky we are to be able to nurture our grandchildren—to be here when they need us. There are so many children who don’t have grandparents or who don’t get to be near them. I believe grandchildren are the reason God put us on earth. We are truly lucky. Happy New Year, may you be so lucky!