Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pie

This chocolate pie is head and shoulders above any you’ll make with a box pudding.

½ c. cocoa
¼ cup cornstarch
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 ½ c. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Make a home-made pie crust and pre-bake in a 9” pie plate. In a hurry? Use store-bought pie crust and bake. A pre-baked graham crust is also an option, but this is supposed to be old-fashioned, right?

Mix cocoa, cornstarch, beaten egg yolks; sugar, salt and vanilla. Then add milk gradually, while stirring in a pot over med-high heat (or use a double boiler).

Cook pudding until thickened. Towards the end, your pudding will look lumpy and uneven, but if you alternate whisking and stirring vigorously, it will smooth to silky perfection. Cool for a few minutes, and pour into the pre-baked pie shell.

Chill well. Before serving, mound with homemade whipped cream. This tastes like a creamy chocolate truffle filling in a pie shell!

For a fuller 9-inch pie, make 25% more filling as follows:

½ c. + 2 T cocoa
¼ c. + 1 T cornstarch
4 egg yolks
1 ¾ + 2 T sugar
¼ lightly rounded tsp salt
2 ½ cups milk
1 ¼ tsp. vanilla




Sweet Dill Pickle Relish

Sweet Dill Pickle Relish
Process in water bath or simply refrigerate small batches.

(Makes 4 pints)

4 pounds large cucumbers
1 large onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ c. pickling salt (or Kosher)
3 cups apple cider vinegar
¾ c. sugar
2 tsp. dill seeds or 1 T dill sprigs chopped
2 tsp. mustard seeds
2 tsp. celery seeds
½ tsp. turmeric

Clean and sterilize 4 or 5 pint canning jars and lids (8 or 9 if doubling recipe).

Using a peeler, remove most of the cucumber skin, leaving some strips (they will add flecks of color to the relish). Store-bought cucumbers have a wax coating and could be a little tough, this is the reason to remove most of it. Then halve the cucumbers lengthwise and using your knife or a spoon, remove the seeds. Rough chop the cucumbers.

Peel and chop the onion and garlic. Using a food processor, process the cucumbers, onions and garlic to a fine dice. Don’t over process, pulse! Unsure? Use a knife and finely chop everything.

Place the cucumber mixture in a stainless steel or large glass mixing bowl and mix in the salt. Let sit 1.5 to 2 hours to draw out water.

Drain the cucumber mixture, pressing or squeezing (with cheesecloth) to press out the excess moisture.

In a medium pot, add vinegar, sugar, dill, mustard seeds, celery seed and turmeric. Stir to dissolve sugar, add the cucumber mixture, and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare your water bath and have it simmering or on a low boil.

Fill jars using a slotted spoon, adding back only enough liquid to cover. Leave 1-inch in necks. Add the lids and process 10-15 minutes. Remove from stove, cool, and tighten lids.

Note: 7 jars process better, so If you double this batch, and have 8 jars, simply put the 8th jar in the refrigerator unprocessed to use right away. It will keep that way for weeks.

Double-Crust Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble

2 Cups brown sugar
1 ½ cups rolled oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter
2 T cinnamon
1 T ground ginger
1 T nutmeg
8 cups fresh rhubarb cut into 1” pieces
2 cups sliced, fresh strawberries
2 cups granulated sugar
¼ cup corn starch
3 T minute tapioca
2 cups water
2 T vanilla
Pinch of salt

Melt butter and combine with brown sugar, then oats and flour. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Mix well. Press half the crumb mixture into the bottom of a glass 9×13” pan. Cover the bottom crust with rhubarb, then strawberries. Set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 F. Then, in a saucepan, combine granulated sugar, corn starch, and tapioca. Mix this first, then add water. Cook over medium heat until sauce becomes clear and thick. Add vanilla and a pinch of salt and remove from heat to cool 10 minutes.

Pour sauce over strawberries and rhubarb. Top with remaining crumble mixture. Bake 1 hour. Let cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Tip: Crisps and crumbles never stay crunchy past the first day, so if you love the crunch, take the half of this mixture meant for the topping, spread it on foil and bake it separately until golden and crispy. Sprinkle it on individual servings when you dish it up.

Ground Beef and Refried Beans Tacos

This can also be served with tortilla chips as an appetizer or hot dip.

1 lb ground beef
½ medium onion, chopped
2 tsp. T Adobo seasoning, or to taste (Start with 1 tsp.)
1 small can (4 oz.) diced green chilis or ½ c. Goya Recaito Culantro cooking base (Find in specialty food stores.)
½ c. bottled salsa (your favorite)
1 can (16 oz.) refried beans
2 c. shredded Colby-Jack cheese
Flour tortillas
Fresh cilantro (optional)
Sour cream

Brown ground beef with onions and season with Adobo. Add green chilis and salsa. Spread meat mixture across bottom of medium casserole dish.

In a separate bowl, moisten refried beans with just enough water to make them spread easily over the meat mixture in the casserole. Top with cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until bubbling and cheese is melted.

Serve with warm tortillas (wrap in foil and warm in oven while dish is cooking). Top each taco with shredded lettuce, fresh chopped cilantro, and sour cream. Yields 12-14 tacos.

You could serve this as a warm dip with tortilla chips.

Amish Sugar Cookies

blonde cookie
A delicate, crispy shortbread-like cookie.

1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. powdered sugar
1 c. butter
3/4 c. oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
4 ½ cups flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda

Cream together the sugars and butter. Then add oil, eggs, vanilla and mix again. Add flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda. Mix until combined.

Using a teaspoon, drop dough on cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Pour additional sugar (plain or colored) in a small bowl. Dip the moistened bottom of a glass in sugar and gently press each dropped cookie to flatten. Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Bake 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees F. or until edges begin to turn golden.

½ c. granulated sugar and ½ c. powdered sugar
½ c. butter
1/3 c. oil, 1 egg, and ½ tsp. vanilla
2 ¼ c. flour, ½ tsp cream of tartar, and ½ tsp. baking soda

Creole/Cajun Seasoning Mix

To make this Creole blend more Cajun, reduce paprika and increase hot pepper flakes.
3 T. paprika
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. powdered rosemary
1 tsp. powdered bay leaves (optional-harder to find in stores, but it IS my secret ingredient)
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (see note)

NOTE: Creole and Cajun spice mixes are similar but not identical. Creole seasoning is sweet and mild, not spicy hot, like Cajun. One way to tell the difference is that Creole seasoning has a fair amount out paprika in it where Cajun does not. The above recipe is my version of Creole. You can adjust quantities of paprika and hot pepper flakes to make this more Cajun.

Stuffed Pasta Shells

Comfort food at its finest.

1 box (12 oz.) jumbo pasta shells (boiled, drained, cooled)
1 28 oz. jar pasta sauce (or make your own, about 4 cups)
½ lb. mild Italian sausage, browned.
½ c. sliced mushrooms, lightly saute’d
2 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Prepare filling and set aside while you boil the shells. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Stuff each cooked shell with about 1 T. ricotta filling, placing them in a greased a 9×13-inch baking dish or a lasagna pan as you go. Use all the filling.

Sprinkle Italian sausage and mushrooms over filled shells. Pour sauce over shells and bake 45-60 minutes until bubbly.

Top with additional Parmesan or shredded mozzarella if desired and place under broiler for a minute or so or until golden brown and bubbling.