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Showing posts from October, 2011

Congo Bars

Congo Bars Today's recipe is a standby favorite from my childhood.  Mom made these for us on a regular basis.  We would often come home from school to a freshly baked batch of these delicious congo bars. Oh, how I loved them! Congo bars are easy to make, don't require any special equipment and keep well.  This recipe makes a large batch, about 24 large bars or 48 small ones.  That makes this a great treat for a picnic, family gathering or pot luck gathering.  Do you have a bake sale to bake for?  These bars transport well and are sure to please. Congo Bars 24 large bars or 48 small bars Congo Bar Ingredient s 2 1/2 cup all purpose flour 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 2/3 cup shortening (I use unsalted butter) 2 1/4 cups packed brown sugar 3 eggs 1 cup chopped walnuts 2 cups chocolate chips Directions Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  Melt the shortening/butter.  Stir in the brown sugar and allow to c

Banana Cupcakes with Maple Icing

Banana Cupcakes with Maple Icing Do you have some bananas sitting on your counter getting overly ripe?  Are you tired of banana bread?  You may want to give these banana cupcakes a try.  This recipe makes ten to twelve cupcakes, so you'll want to double it for a large group. The maple icing is more of a thick glaze than a true frosting, but it is a yummy topping for this dessert.  You won't want to skimp on the maple syrup.  Use the best all-natural maple syrup you can find.  It will make a difference in the icing's flavor.  Add some chopped walnuts for some crunch. Banana Cupcakes with Maple Icing Print This Recipe Banana Cupcake Ingredients Makes 10-12 cupcakes 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 3/4 cup granulated sugar 2  large eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana, about 1 medium banana 1/4 cup

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies When you think of sweets as comfort foods, what comes to mind?  Do you have a favorite cookie, cake or brownie?  When you stop by your favorite bakery do you choose a complex sweet or do you stick with a basic favorite?  For me, a chocolate chip cookie speaks comfort, but for my husband and oldest son the favorite sweet is an oatmeal raisin cookie.  Today's oatmeal raisin cookie recipe is in honor of them and the fact that my son reminded me I haven't made an oatmeal raisin cookie in what seems like decades.  That's an exageration, of course, but it has been much too long since I made these cookies.  I usually make the always reliable Quaker Oats recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies, but today I wanted to try incorporating applesauce in my cookie. This recipe results in a domed, drop cookie with a cake-like texture, not a crisp, chewy oatmeal cookie. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Makes 40 cookies 123 calories per cookie Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ingre

Appreciating the Seasonal Beauty of Trees

It's this time of year, as the leave fall from the trees, that I often think about just how remarkable a tree is.  In the Northeast we are blessed with a wide variety of beautiful trees and watching them change from season to season is a favorite past time. A Fall Maple   I have my favorites.  While I prefer a maple tree to an oak, I owe my pleasant, shady deck to the canopy of a stately oak.  The oak is messier than a maple tree, dropping copious strands of its long beard over my deck and lawn in late spring.  This requires daily blowing of the deck to keep it neat and tidy.  In late summer the acorns start falling.  Luckily acorns don't hurt much when you are clunked on the head with one, but once again there are daily messes to clean up.  Now it's the leaves that fall day after day, after day, after day. I love my weeping cherry tree.  It is about 30 years old and is showing its age, but for about 4 weeks in early spring it is in its prime.  I watch... and wait..

Making Crusty Bread

Crusty Bread Have you noticed how expensive a crusty loaf of bread can be at your local bakery or even the grocery store?  This time of year I really like to have a crusty loaf of bread to serve along with a hot bowl of soup or a pasta dish.  I'm working on finding a recipe to make at home that delivers on flavor while not taking all day to make.  Is that possible?  I just don't know, but I'm experimenting and will share the results with you here. Last week I found a recipe that claimed three hours start to finish with 20 minutes of active involvement.  I decided to help that along by adapting the recipe for my bread machine.  Here's how it all worked out. Bread Ingredients Crusty Bread Print Recipe 1 1/2 cups slightly warm water, about 90 degrees 1 teaspoon sugar 2 teaspoons salt 3 cups bread flour 1/4 cup whole wheat flour 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast Cornstarch for dusting Directions Add the ingredients to your bread machine in the or

The Role Local Farmers Play in Cheese Production

Do you know where your milk and cheese come from?  Do you ever think about that?   I grew up within walking distance of a dairy farm and was familiar from an early age of the role cows play in providing our milk and cheese.   As time has gone by I've given little thought to the source of my milk and cheese.  As a result, I would answer the question, where does my milk and cheese come from with the rather short, but flip answer, the grocery store. Ocean Breeze Farm Last weekend, the Ocean Breeze Farm, the same one very near to my childhood home, hosted an open house in partnership with Cabot Cheese.   It was one of 50 farms across the Northeast and Upstate New York to open its barns to the local community.   Ocean Breeze Farm is owned by the Pancieras, and Frank Panciera, who you can see pictured on the Cabot Cheese label below, was on hand to greet his guests. Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese Label Featuring Ocean Breeze Farm Ocean Breeze Farm is a member of the Agri-Mark Coo

A Luscious Apple Cake for Fall

Apple Walnut Cake I've been so obsessed with all things pumpkin lately that I nearly forgot that fall is also apple season.  While flipping through my recipe collection the other day I came across this recipe for this delicious apple cake.  It is perfect for dessert, or breakfast or an afternoon snack.  There's a lot going on in this moist cake.  Sour cream ensures its moist texture while walnuts and a crumb topping add crunch. I made my cake with Granny Smith apples, but use whatever apples you have.  You could also make this cake with pears. Apple Walnut Sour Cream Cake 1 9-inch cake, serves 12 For the Topping The Apple Walnut Cake Ingredients 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts 1/3 cup packed brown sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 cup butter 1/3 cup all-purpose flour For the Cake 2 medium apples, peeled and sliced thinly 1 3/4 cups flour 3/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup butter, softened 1 cup sugar 1 teasp

Bow Tie Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Spinach

Bow Tie Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Spinach Some days I have no idea what to make for dinner. This recipe came to be on one of those days because of a package of mozzarella and basil flavored chicken sausage I had in my refrigerator that needed to be used.   I was not in the mood to spend a couple of hours cooking and I also wanted a really quick dinner.  The chicken sausage was a perfect beginning to a quick dinner. So, friends, this is a 30-minute or less meal that is perfect for any busy family's weeknight meal. It's also a great weekend meal when you have been running around doing all your weekend chores.  Whip this pasta dish together when friends stop by on the weekend.  Add a garden salad and some crusty bread and you'll take this meal over the top. Bow Tie Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Spinach Serves 6 Bow Tie Pasta Ingredients 1 pound basil mozzarella flavored chicken sausage, cut into chunks 1 lb package bow tie pasta 1 6-ounce bag of fres