Cranberry Rhubarb Pie

double crust pie
Put a cookie sheet or foil under this while baking.

2 (store-bought or homemade) 9-inch pastry pie crusts
1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tbsp. minute tapioca
1-1/2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 cups rhubarb cut into 1-inch pieces (fresh or frozen)
2 cups cranberry-orange sauce (see note below)
1-1/2 tbsp. butter or margarine, cut into pieces

Have you ever had a big bowl of cranberry orange sauce in the refrigerator after Thanksgiving? Not the kind from a can, but the fresh, uncooked kind you can make yourself or buy at a deli. No idea what to do with it? This recipe will solve that problem—and it will likely become the new, favorite pie in your house.

Combine sugar, cinnamon tapioca, flour and salt. Add chopped rhubarb and toss to coat. Add cranberry sauce and stir.

Pre-heat oven to 450° F. Allow pie crusts to come to room temperature and insert one into a 9.5-inch deep-dish pie pan and pre-bake for about 5 minutes until it is about half done. This will make for a flakier bottom crust (I do this with homemade crust because it is usually thicker). Do NOT prick the crust, as juice might later run underneath, but it is a good idea to weight it when you bake it as you would with any pre-baked crust. Mound filling high in the pie pan and dot with butter. Note: If you pre-bake the bottom crust, you will not be able to seal the edges of the top crust to it. That’s okay, just cut top into wedges and arrange them over the top.

Sprinkle top crust with a teaspoon of sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Bake at 450° F for 10 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350° F and bake for another 50 minutes or until done. Use a pie crust shield or tent with foil for about 25-30 minutes of baking time to help prevent the edges from burning. Pie is done when the pastry crust has become golden brown, and the pie juices have been bubbling out of the top crust vents.

Note: if using frozen rhubarb, prepare the same as for fresh and put pie together while the rhubarb is still frozen. Don’t pre-bake crust. Bake about 20 minutes longer to adjust for the frozen filling.

Serve warm or cooled, plain, or with a dollop of whipped cream.

Note: If you don’t have leftover cranberry sauce, you can make some quickly: Remove the zest of 1 orange (place in food processor) then remove the white, pith part and discard it. Break apart the orange and put in processor. Add 1 bag (10 or 12 oz.) of fresh or frozen cranberries and ¼ c sugar. Pulse until roughly chopped. Measure 2 cups for use in the above pie.

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Kale and Potato Soup

Kale and Potato Soup

Serves 4
1 or 2 slices bacon, fried, chopped
1/4 c. finely chopped celery
¼ c. grated carrot
½ c. chopped mushrooms
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups chicken stock
1 ½ c. finely chopped kale
½ tsp dried onions
1 medium (8 ounce) yellow or russet potato, scrubbed clean and chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
1 sprig rosemary or ½ tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese (opt.)

Cook bacon in medium saucepot, remove, chop and return to pan. Add celery, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook 5 minutes, then add chicken stock, kale, dried onions, potatoes, rosemary (or oregano). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. If you like, you can use a potato masher in the soup to break up the potatoes a little.

Cook 15-20 minutes. Soup is ready when potatoes are tender, but this soup is good/better made a day ahead and reheated. Serve with a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Vegetarian? Omit bacon, use olive oil, and vegetable broth.

Health-ier Monster Cookies

cookies with M&Ms on top
Health-ier Monster Cookies

1 c. creamy peanut butter
½ c. brown sugar
¾ c. rolled oats (the kind that cooks in 5-minutes, not instant)
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. vanilla
1 egg, large
1/3 c. chocolate chips
1/3 c. M&Ms

Makes 9 monster cookies. Recipe can be doubled.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one large cookie sheet.

Using a mixer, blend the peanut butter and brown sugar until creamed. Mix in salt, baking soda, vanilla, oats, and egg. Stir in chocolate chips.

Using your hands, scoop up dough, squeeze, and shape into balls about the size of golf balls and place on cookie sheet. Press down with your palm to flatten slightly. Cookies can be about 2-inches apart. They don’t spread out much when baked. Gently press about 6-8 M&Ms into the top of each cookie.

Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until bottoms just start to turn brown ever so slightly. Remove from oven even if cookies don’t look done. Let cool completely. I like to wrap them individually in plastic wrap.

Options: replace a tablespoon or two of the rolled oats with ground flax seeds. Dried cherries, cranberries and golden raisins can replace the chocolate chips and you will still have a great cookie. Nuts? Sure!

Pineapple, Cucumber and Strawberry Salad

 

Pineapple salad
Pineapple, Cucumber and Strawberry Salad

1 pineapple, peeled and chopped
1 English cucumber, chopped
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced or quartered
2 limes, zested and juiced
1/2 cup cilantro (or parsley), roughly chopped
Pinch of salt and pepper1. Combine all ingredients and toss lightly to distribute the lime juice and zest evenly.

  1. Combine all ingredients and toss lightly to distribute the lime juice and zest evenly.

2. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

3. Serve immediately or keep chilled until ready to serve.

Dark Chocolate Walnut Loaf Cake

chocolate cake
Dark Chocolate Walnut Cake

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and lightly flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan, or spray it with a butter-flour spray. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat well, then the buttermilk and vanilla. Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together right into your wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well-blended but do not overmix. Scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for about 30 minutes, at which point you can cool it the rest of the way out of the pan. Slice and serve with whipped cream or even in a bowl with cream.

Crispy Fried Breadsticks

sausage-sized bread sticks
Fried Breadsticks

The inspiration for this came from a Germans from Russia recipe for schoofnudla that I came across. My husband and I ate them with our fingers like french fries, but traditionally, they would have been served with sauerkraut, potatoes, or sausages. In our house, this has morphed into breadsticks and that’s what we call them. Making these tasty, crispy little gems is fun, especially when you make them with kids because you shape them by rolling between the palms of your hands as you would a piece of clay. Here is the recipe (Makes 10-15 sticks, it all depends on whether you roll them thiner or thicker):

Noodle dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1-2 Tablespoons water

Cooking:
2/3 cup water
¼ cup oil
1 pat of butter

Using a fork, mix together 1/2 cup of the flour, baking powder, salt, and egg. you may not need any added water. Gradually add more flour until you can turn the dough onto a floured surface and it sticks together so you can knead it 3-4 times so it is rollable. Tearing off walnut-sized pieces, hand roll the noodles between palms to the thickness of pencils (for thin sticks) or the size of a woman’s finger for thicker sticks (pictured). Roll them into about 4-inch pieces. They will puff up and get thicker while cooking.

Put 2/3 cup water in a large skillet along with oil and simmer-saute’ the noodles on medium high heat for anywhere from 5-10 minutes until the water boils out and the noodles begin to fry in the remaining oil. Add a pat of butter and fry until golden and lightly crispy, stirring once after the bottoms have browned. I like to flip them over once to brown on both sides, but that isn’t necessary for the skinny ones. They should be a deep golden brown color. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately, they don’t do well when cooked ahead.

Note: Great as dippers too with a hot marinara, alfredo or cheese sauce. I know, I have drifted far from the noble roots of this recipe, but that’s just what I do (grin).

 

Amish Cinnamon Bread

Four slices of cinnamon bread on a white plate
Amish Cinnamon Bread

A quick version of Amish Friendship Bread
without the traditional sourdough-style starter

1/2 c. butter, softened
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. buttermilk (or ¼ c. buttermilk powder and 1 c. water)
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cinnamon/Sugar Topping:
1/3 c. sugar mixed with 1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees conventional (Use convection setting if you have it.)

Cream butter and sugar, then add the egg and vanilla, mix well. Add buttermilk, flour, baking soda, salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon and mix until just combined. Spread half of the batter into a greased loaf pan.

Sprinkle about 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top and swirl with tip of knife or finger. Gently spread remaining batter over the 1st layer and swirl with another 1/3 if the cinnamon mixture again. Sprinkle top with remaining cinnamon sugar mixture.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or longer until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert to a rack and cool. Makes 1 loaf.

Click here for a little history on this long-loved recipe tradition.