Saturday, September 27, 2008

Aunt Thelma's Orange Carrot Cookies


A few years ago, my mother gave me a recipe that was given to her by my Aunt Thelma, my dad's sister, when I was just a little girl back in the seventies.

The recipe is handwritten on paper that has yellowed with age, and the ink has bled and ran, probably because of the shortening that has been accidentally smeared on it from the many times it has been used.  I can still remember being in my aunt's kitchen the day I first tasted these cookies. She was babysitting my sister and me and we eagerly watched as she made made them for us.  Her son, Shawn, our cousin, was also there and although I don't remember much, I do remember it being a really fun day.

This recipe is very special to me and the actual sheet of paper even more so.  I guess it's silly to be sentimental about a piece of paper, but when I look at it,  I can still see my aunt writing out the recipe along with a short note to my mother, and it takes me back to a pleasant and carefree place.  For just a moment, I am a little girl again, anxiously waiting for cookies to cool, with no concerns of failing economies and financial bail outs.  My biggest worry then was how many cookies I would be allowed to eat.

I made these cookies exactly as the recipe was written more than thirty years ago.  My daughter just loves them; I've made them for her several times.  They are soft and puffy and the only thing I changed was to add a little more orange juice to the frosting.

Aunt Thelma, if you're reading this, I hope you know how much I love you.  I think of you often and I keep you in my prayers always.  Thanks for a wonderful memory and a recipe that I can share over and over again with the people I love.

Orange Carrot Cookies

3/4 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup cooked, mashed carrots

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped walnuts


1 tablespoon orange juice (or a little bit more for desired consistency)

1 cup powdered sugar

The zest of one orange

  1. Cream the shortening and sugar on medium speed; add the egg.  Add all ingredients except the nuts and beat until combined.  Stir in the nuts.
  2. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown on bottoms.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together all the ingredients for the frosting until smooth, adjusting the amount of orange juice to drizzling consistency.
  4. When the cookies are done, transfer to a wire rack that has been placed over a baking sheet.  Drizzle with the frosting and let cool completely.  About 3 dozen.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

White Chocolate, Macadamia, and Pear Cake-Bread

Thank the good Lord that it was cool this morning in Mississippi.  It didn't stay that way for long, but it did stay just long enough to put me in the mood to bake.

My mother has a pear tree in her backyard that is loaded with pears.  A few weeks ago, we were discussing that we really need to do something with them, and lo and behold, that very night I came across this pear muffin recipe on Cookie Madness.  I made them and really liked them, and realized that I could add shredded pears to my baked goods.  And that's changed my life.  Well, actually, it's just inspired me to use pears.

This recipe started out as a quick bread but with the added goodies and the moist texture, it's almost dessert-like.  I might have gone a little far with the white chocolate drizzle.  Okay, I did go too far.  But I'm not sorry.  Not one bit.

Also, I cooled mine for ten minutes in the pan, then took it out and transferred  it to a wire rack, but because it was still very warm, it was delicate and fragile and it flattened somewhat, so next time I will let it cool for at least thirty minutes in the pan, then transfer to a platter where I can drizzle to my heart's content.

This cake-bread is very moist thanks to the cream cheese in it which was inspired by this Southern Living Recipe.  And it must leave my house ASAP because this is no way to diet.

Aren't they saying that the pear is the new apple?

White Chocolate, Macadamia, and Pear Cake-Bread

1/2 cup softened butter

4-ounces softened cream cheese

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour                         

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 cups peeled, shredded pears

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup dry roasted macadamia nuts

1 teaspoon vanilla

1-2 tablespoons softened butter, for greasing the pan

1-2 tablespoons sugar for coating the pan

1/3 to 2/3 cup white chocolate or vanilla chips

1-2 tablespoons chopped dry roasted macadamia nuts

  1. Cream the butter and cream cheese on medium high speed.  Gradually add the sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat until blended.
  2. Combine the flour and next 2 ingredients; add to the batter on medium speed, alternating with the buttermilk, until combined.
  3. Mix in the shredded pears, white chocolate chips, macadamia nuts, and vanilla until just combined.
  4. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with 1-2 tablespoons of butter.  Pour in 1-2 tablespoons of sugar and rotate pan so that the sugar sticks to the entire buttered area.  Pour out excess sugar.
  5. Pour in the batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted in center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes.  Remove from pan and place on a platter.
  6. Melt the 1/3 to 2/3 cup white chocolate chips in the microwave.  Stir until smooth.  Transfer to a zip lock bag and squeeze mixture into one corner.  Cut a small hole in the corner and pipe or drizzle across the bread.  Sprinkle with remaining 2-3 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts on top. 
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Shredded Pork Fried Rice

I am soooooo thankful for shredded, cooked meat in my freezer, which is a complete time saver.  Here's another recipe I made with the shredded pork I froze last week.  Throw in just about any vegetable you'd like and it will still be delicious and healthy. 

As always, white rice can be substituted for the brown, but we're brown rice eaters around here.   I usually make a big batch of brown rice at the beginning of the week to have on hand for meals.  Cooking rice is not one of my favorite things to do, so I like to get a lot done at one time.

Shredded Pork Fried Rice

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

2 beaten eggs

2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2-3 cups shredded cabbage

1/4 cup chopped red pepper

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 cups shredded pork

4 cups cooked rice (brown or white)

1/4 to 1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Sliced green onion

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the bottom of a wok or a large pot until hot.  Add the eggs and cook in a single layer, turning once, until done.  Chop into thin strips and set aside. 
  2. Add 2 more tablespoons of oil to the wok and add the onions, celery, red pepper, and cabbage.  Cook over high heat until slightly tender.  Add the garlic and cook for about another minute. 
  3. Add the pork and rice.  Stir until combined.  Cook until everything is hot.
  4. Add the soy sauce, then stir in the peas, reserved eggs, and the chili flakes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Top each serving with sliced green onion.
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cheese Rounds

I have a big plastic box of recipe cards from the eighties that I somehow managed to talk my sister out of years ago.  The recipe collection is called My Great Recipes and I look through it from time to time to get inspiration.  And to remember what food was like when I was a teenager.

One of the recipes I pulled several years ago is for Cheese Rounds.  I can't tell you how good these are.  When they are warm out of the oven, they melt in your mouth.  They're even good cold.  They can be left plain or the tops can be dipped in seeds or paprika for a fancier effect.  They are perfect to serve at a shower or party.  I can totally see these being served with soup, too. 

I would like to try using different kinds of cheeses when I make these again.  Smoked Cheddar.  White Cheddar.  Gouda.  The possibilities are endless.

Cheese Rounds

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature

4 cups (1 pound) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 cups all-purpose flour

Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika

1.      Cream the butter on medium speed; blend in the flour, then the cheese, until mixed.

2.      Chill dough for about an hour.  Shape into 1-inch balls.

3.      Place some poppy seeds, sesame seeds and paprika in small, separate dishes.  Press each of the balls in the seeds or paprika on one side only, then place 1-1/2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Chill for 1 hour.

4.      Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Do not brown.  The rounds will not look dry when done.  Cool on baking sheets.  Reheat slightly to serve, if desired.  About 5 dozen.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Monster Cookies

On Sunday mornings at my church, between Sunday school and the main service, we have snacks in the fellowship hall along with coffee and drinks.  The women in the church take turns bringing these snacks and this past Sunday it was my turn.  You'd have to live in the South to appreciate the fact that Baptists take any opportunity to have an eatin' in the fellowship hall, even during the twenty or so minutes between services. 

I keep a long list of recipes that I want to make at some point in the future, and Monster Cookies has been on my list for years.  I don't know why I've never made them before, but Saturday I finally did so I would have something to bring for Sunday.  They turned out to be nice, thick cookies with an intense peanut butter flavor, loaded with chocolate chips and M and M's and lots of quick oats.  The strange part of the recipe is that they don't have any flour in them, but you won't miss it.  They are usually dropped by a 1/4 cup measure, which makes massive cookies, but I made most of them much smaller so I would have a lot more.  I used the recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks The Ultimate Southern living Cookbook (First Edition). 

Monster Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, firmly packed

2 cups peanut butter

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

4-1/2 cups regular or quick oats, uncooked

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup candy-coated pieces

1 cup chocolate chips

  1. Beat the butter on medium speed until creamy; gradually add both sugars, beating well.  Add peanut butter and next three ingredients; beat well.  Add the oats, soda, and salt; stir well.  Stir in chocolate chips and candy pieces.  (Dough will be very stiff.)
  2. Pack dough into a 1/4 cup measure or large cookie scoop.  Drop 4-inches apart onto a lightly greased baking sheet.  Lightly press each cookie with fingertips into a 3-1/2 inch circle.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.  Cool slightly on cookie sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool.  2-1/2 dozen.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sloppy Spaghetti and Provolone Grillers

It's easy for me to get intimidated by some of the food blogs out there.  You see, I love to visit as many of them as I can and admire their perfect, magazine quality pictures and creative use of ingredients, many of which I have never even heard of, but I know that I really don't measure up.

But I'm okay with that. 

I'm okay with that because I cook ...for the people

Huh?  Which people?  The people who don't throw leftovers away. 

Here's a recipe that really isn't a recipe at all, just directions for assembly.  It will require leftover spaghetti, which is something many people probably make frequently.  The next time you make spaghetti, make more than you'll need so you can slap these on the griddle the next day.  They are very kid friendly, but let me warn obsessively neat and clean moms:  they are messy.  That's why there is a "sloppy" in the title.

Sloppy Spaghetti and Provolone Grillers

2 slices French bread

2 slices provolone cheese

1/2 cup leftover spaghetti

Softened Butter

  1. Layer 1 slice of provolone on each slice of French bread.  Place about 1/2 cup of leftover spaghetti on one slice.  Place the other bread slice on top, cheese side down.  Butter the outside of both sides of the sandwich. 
  2. Grill over medium to low heat until golden brown and the cheese is melted.  Makes 1 sandwich.
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