Sunday, November 25, 2012


First of all, I hope that you all had a happy Thanksgiving.  It's too bad that Thanksgiving isn't a tradition around the world since the two main themes - FOOD and BEING THANKFUL - are universal, or could be, or should be!!

Second, here is a tip for making your Thanksgiving meal easier.  Make the gravy ahead of time!   This is the recipe that I make and it always turns out great.  It can be made ahead of time and frozen; and it can be made as "vegetarian" by substituting the chicken broth for vegetable broth.  For greater richness, add the juices from your cooked turkey.

MUSHROOM THYME GRAVY.  Makes about 4 cups/Serves about 8.
*  2 tablespoons butter
*  1 small onion, chopped
*  1 tablespoon minced garlic
*  8 oz fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced
*  2 oz dried shitake/porcini mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced
*  2 (14-1/2 oz each) cans of chicken broth (as needed)
*  1/3 cup flour
*  1-1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
     Rehydrate dried mushrooms by covering them with boiling water and letting them rest for a half hour or so until they are tender.  Remove and slice the mushrooms, but save the mushroom broth to use here.
     Over medium heat melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until tender.  Add the garlic and mushrooms (and dried thyme, if using) and cook an additional 5 minutes or until tender.
     Put flour in a large jar and add mushroom and chicken broth to nearly fill the jar.  Cover the jar and shake vigorously until the flour has fully mixed into the broth.  Raise heat under the mushrooms and, while stirring, slowly pour the flour mixture and some of the remaining broth into the mushrooms, along with the fresh thyme.  Cook, stirring frequently, until gravy reaches desired consistency.  If the gravy is too thick, add additional broth or juices from the turkey; if the gravy is too thin, continue boiling the gravy.  This could take a while if too much broth has been added.

I hope you will give this a try and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I have no idea why I continue to clip cookie recipes - particularly ones that duplicate what I already have and love.  For example, a number of years ago I decided to make all of the recipes I had at the time for Snickerdoodles, then decide which recipe I loved, and finally throw out all of the rest.  Hmmm... not so easy; but  I managed to narrow it down to three!  Each recipe was delicious, but in different ways.

My cooking club bake sale was yesterday and I decided to bring snickerdoodles.  In going through my recipes I found seven recipes for snickerdoodles!  It seems I have continued clipping out recipes for them, even though I already had three great recipes.  So, did I make one of my old recipes?  No...  curiosity got the best of me.  Here's the recipe I made.

SNICKERDOODLES.  Makes 4-1/2 dozen.
1 cup softened butter
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
     Preheat oven to 375º.  Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add 2 cups sugar, beating well.  Add eggs, milk, and vanilla, beating well.
     Combine flour, baking powder, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended.
     Combine 3 tablespoons sugar and 1-1/2 tablespoons cinnamon in a small bowl.  Roll dough into 1-1/4-inch balls, and roll in sugar mixture.  Place on ungreased baking sheets, and flatten slightly.
     Bake at 375º for 11 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes.  Transfer to wire racks, and cool completely.


Unbaked and Baked.


Right out of the oven I didn't especially like the cookies.  After cooling, though, and especially on the following day (today), the flavor of the cookies improved.  I can also report that the cookies promptly sold at the bake sale last night.

Now the question:  Do I save this recipe to add to my others?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


This was a great year for our apples.  In the Spring we had a late frost that killed off many of the buds on the trees, leaving far fewer than usual.  That resulted in fewer, but bigger, apples.  I've made the usual applesauce and a variety of apple desserts, but this recipe for a fruity, crusty and gooey cake was the best of the season.  Sorry that I have no pictures... The cake was gone in a flash!

1 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1-1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups flour
6 cups peeled and chopped apples
Sauce Mixture:
1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup water
1 cup heavy cream (for whipped cream topping)
     Preheat the oven to 325º.  Grease a 9"x13" pan.
     In a frying pan over low-medium heat, toast the pecans until they begin to color and become fragrant, about 7 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
     In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the shortening and granulated sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.  Sift together the baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour, and beat into the sugar mixture.
     Fold in the chopped apples and the nuts.  The mixture will be stiff.
     In a medium saucepan, stir together the brown sugar and the 2 tablespoons of flour.  Add the butter, vanilla and water, stir, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Boil gently for 3 minutes, stirring often.
     Spread the cake batter into the prepared pan.  Pour the hot sauce evenly over the batter.  Do not stir.  Bake 1 hour.
     Make whipped cream to use as topping.