Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sweet Potato Rounds with Cinnamon Pecans

3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼ to ½ inch slices (Pampered Chef Crinkle Cutter works great)
½ c. butter, melted
½ c. orange juice
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Cinnamon pecans, optional (recipe below)

Arrange sweet potatoes slices in overlapping rows in a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Combine the butter, orange juice, salt and cinnamon; drizzle over sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with chopped cinnamon pecans, if desired. Cover and bake at 350º for 55 – 60 minutes or until tender. Serves 10.

Cinnamon Pecans

1 c. granulated sugar
1 T. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
¼ c. water
2 c. pecans

Boil first four ingredients approximately 5 minutes until mixture spins a thread. Add the pecans. Pour onto buttered platter or baking sheet. Separate with forks. Cool.

I'm not exactly sure where I found the recipe for the Sweet Potatoes, I served it to about 100 people on an Emmaus Walk. The Cinnamon Pecans were my own addition to them when I made them last Thanksgiving. The recipe for the pecans (pee-CANS, not pe-CAHNS!)came from a friend of my dad's, Rosalie Story, who I met when we took a trip south after Dad retired, and later we moved to South Carolina. He and Rosalie were both from Indiana and met in Terre Haute their freshman year in college in the late 1930's. Dad left college after a year and moved to DC to work for the Veterans Administration and sometime later Rosalie moved south; don't know if that was before or after she married Bob Story. Listening to Rosalie, one would never believed she lived north of the Mason-Dixon line, such a southern accent! She taught both my sister, Stephie, and me, some southern vernacular (e.g. "You're a mess!" is actually a compliment). So if you try these and like them, how about "Givin' me some sugar!" the next time you see me.

Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Icing


2 cups sugar
3 eggs, well beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup pumpkin
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350º F. Mix all ingredients except pecans, until well blended. Stir in pecans. Pour into well greased and floured bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool 10-15 minutes, then take out of pan and cool completely.

Caramel Icing:

½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup milk
3-3¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Melt butter in saucepan. Add brown sugar and bring to a boil. Stir 1 minute or until slightly thick. Cool slightly. Add milk and beat smooth. Beat in confectioners’ sugar till spreading consistency. Frost cake (quickly)!

The basis for this recipe came from a Plum Cake recipe from a friend and co-worker at the Peach County Dept of Family and Children Services, Laura Kelly Gibbs. In that recipe, 2 small jars of strained baby food plums were used, not 1 c. pumpkin. However, the last time I went to make this cake I could not find any baby food plums! Thus I decided pumpkin should work just as well. On the Plum Cake, instead of Caramel Icing a lemon icing was used. (2 c. powdered sugar, 1 stick margarine, and juice of 1 lemon. Heat together and pour over warm cake after removing it from pan.) I did enter this in the Kentucky State Fair in 2009, but no ribbon for it. However, Elizabeth told me in August that she wanted this at Thanksgiving. So, what did those judges know anyway?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 c. granulated sugar
1 - 15 oz. can pumpkin (approximately 2 c.)
1 c. shortening
2 T. grated orange rind (if using fresh, you may want to use only 1 T.)
4 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
3 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°. Mix sugar, pumpkin, shortening, and orange peel. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Stir flour mixture into pumpkin mixture. Add chocolate chips. Drop by medium cookie scoop (2 T.)* onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake until light brown, about 18-20 minutes. Makes about 5 dozen.
*For smaller cookies, use small cookie scoop (1 T.) and only bake about 10-12 minutes. With this scoop, the recipe makes about 10 dozen.

These cookies came to us from our marvelous, fabulous friends, the Skogmans. Linda made these for Mark to take in his lunch and kept them in the freezer. (They taste great frozen, too!) After introducing these cookies to us, Linda found she had to make double batches, as all the Laws would help themselves to a cookie or two every time we came over! However, Linda was just that kind of a friend, whatever she had was yours. For years, until they moved to Illinois, we spent many a Sunday afternoon together; Linda and I would cheer on our favorite NFL teams, college hoops' teams, and the Cubs, while our husbands, Mark and Gary found things to do around the house and yard. Our daughters, Mary Beth and Elizabeth are only 1 year apart and so had much in common. Then despite the age difference in our sons, Josh is 7 years older than Richard, they were great buddies. I took a batch of these with us when we were able to attend both Josh's and Mary Beth's weddings. Linda seemed to really enjoy them. (She even asked if she had to share them!) Every time I take a bite of these cookies, I thank God for such special friends, Linda, Mark, Josh and Mary Beth Skogman.

Apple Crumb Pie

Pastry for Single Crust Pie:

1¼ c. all-purpose flour (or ¾ c. all-purpose flour and ½ c. whole wheat pastry flour)
½ tsp. salt
1/3 c. plus 1 T. Crisco
¼ - 1/3 c. cold water

In a medium bowl, stir together flour and salt. Cut in Crisco till pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push to side of bowl. Repeat till all is moistened. Form dough into a ball.
On a lightly floured surface, flatten dough with hands. Roll dough from center to edge, forming a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Wrap pastry abound rolling pin and lift to and unroll in 9-inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pie plate, being careful to avoid stretching pastry. Trim pastry to ½ inch beyond edge of pie plate. Flute edge or finish as desired.


½ c. white sugar
2 T. all purpose flour
1 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
1 tsp. cinnamon
8 c. peeled and thinly sliced apples.

In a large bowl stir together the first four ingredients of filling. Add apple slices and toss with mixture to coat. Place apples in the prepared piecrust.


½. c. all purpose flour
½ c. white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. mace
¼ c. margarine, softened

In a small bowl, combine the first five ingredients of the topping. Cut in the margarine until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over apple slices.

To prevent over browning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake for 30 minutes more or until topping is golden. Serves 8.

This recipe did win Third Place in the Crisco "My Favorite Pie" competition at the Kentucky State Fair in 2005. One of the judges,a chef at Morton's Steak House in Louisville, told me he thought it was better than their apple pastry dessert! This is also a good recipe for Apple Crisp. Just place apple mixture in a buttered pie plate, top with crumb topping and bake for about an hour at 350 degrees. (In other words, skip the pie crust.)

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Thanksgiving is such a special time of year. I can remember years when Mom and Dad would host Thanksgiving at our house. There would be the 6 of us, my Grandma King, my Uncle Jim and Aunt Betty and their 6 daughters, all in the family room - the ping pong table would be called into service for us all to sit around. Then there was the year I was in 10th grade and I asked and Mom allowed me to prepare the entire Thanksgiving dinner, that was an experience. Luckily she was right beside me to give me pointers on getting everything ready to serve at one time and help in general.

Later years after my brothers had both married and Mom told them both to celebrate Thanksgiving with their wives' families on Turkey day and come over on the weekend to celebrate with us. I can still hear her reply to my oldest brother's wife the first Thanksgiving after they were married, when she asked, "Mrs. Plue, what time do you like to serve Thanksgiving dinner? My mom likes to have it at 1:00 ." Mom replied, "Why don't you just plan to be at her house on Thursday, and you and Rob come to our house this weekend? That will just make it easier on you and anyway, I know you love me even if you're not here on Thursday." She just didn't see the point in rushing from one home to another and eating two huge meals in one day. I vowed to be like that when I had married kids!

After both my older brothers had married and their own households, Dad and Mom started a new trend. The week of Thanksgiving Mom would roast a small turkey, make a pan of dressing, gravy and the big 3 of pies for us: apple, pumpkin, and mincemeat (using Nonesuch Mincemeat in the box). Then we would go out to eat on Thanksgiving Day, usually at the Hot Shoppes Cafeteria. But because of Mom's preparation, we would have the "good" leftovers!

Now for several years, Elizabeth and Toby have hosted Thanksgiving, having a house that is more suitable for a big get-together. Today I'll share the recipes for what Elizabeth has asked me to bring to her house for Thanksgiving dinner. (Apple Crumb Pie, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Icing, and Sweet Potato Rounds) Hope all who are reading this recognize and praise God for all the blessings in their lives. This quote from Matthew Henry was in my morning devotions this week, "Thanksgiving is good, thanks-living is better." I could not agree more! Again, enjoy all. I have decided to make them separate postings, so they'll be easier to find in case you want a particular one.

Blessings to one and all! Can you count yours or have you discovered there are too many to count like I have?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Potato Broccoli Cheese Soup

6 c. Chicken Broth (49 1/2 oz. can)
1 onion, chopped
1 (10 oz - 16 oz) pkg frozen chopped broccoli
6-7 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
12 - 14 oz. Lite Velveeta cheese, cut in 1/2 cubes

Cook first 4 ingredients together until potatoes are tender (about 15 minutes for 1 inch chunks). Coarsely mash in pan. Add Velveeta; heat until melted. DO NOT BOIL, stir constantly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (I use about 1 tsp. of Kosher salt and several grinds of black pepper.) Good with some crusty bread and fruit salad.

I like this recipe because it is quick (especially if you have someone else who will peel your potatoes for you like my Gary will). My friend, Ann Weaver, who was my Core Group leader at Community Bible Study several years ago, shared this when our group lunched at her house one Thursday after Bible study. Hope you enjoy it, too!

Quick Coffee Cake

2 c. sifted all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
6 T. shortening
(OR 2 c. biscuit mix, such as Bisquick can be substituted for the above)
½ c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. mace
½ c. milk
1 egg, well beaten
1/2 c. raisins or currents (optional)

1½ T. butter, melted
¼ c. sugar
1 T. all purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 450º. Mix dry ingredients. Cut in shortening, if not using biscuit mix. Combine milk and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring until mixture is blended. Spread evenly (dough is thick) into greased 9 inch round pan. Brush top with melted butter. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over dough. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Cut into wedges while still in pan and serve.

I'm pretty sure my mom got this recipe in one of the many church cookbooks she had in her collection. We all considered this coffee cake a Sunday morning treat and loved it when we woke up to the wonderful cinnamon aroma! As kids, none of us wanted Mom to put in the raisins/currents but as an adult I have come to appreciate the flavor they add. I remember I would often turn my piece of cake over and eat most of the cake part, leaving just a little cake attached to the cinnamon/sugar crusty topping, savoring that last. I think I liked to do this also because the pan Mom used to bake this in left a slight swirly design in the bottom of the cake that I thought was too pretty to ignore. Guess I was really into food even back then! (maybe age 4 or 5?)

Friday, November 6, 2009



¾ c. cider vinegar
½ c. canola or vegetable oil
¼ c. water
3 T. sugar
1 T. salt
2 – 3 tsp. Tabasco Sauce
A few dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
Pinch of dry mustard

Mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Brush on chicken as you place on grill with medium hot coals. Every 5 minutes, brush with sauce, turn and brush again. Do this until chicken is done.
Depending on size and type of pieces you are grilling, cooking time may have to be adjusted. If you leave the skin on, watch carefully as they will burn fairly easily. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts usually take about 20 – 25 minutes, and I usually start these still frozen.
Note: I cut this recipe in half for the amount of chicken I usually grill – 6-8 boneless breasts. You can make up the full recipe; pour half into a storage container to store half in the refrigerator for a week or so, until ready to grill chicken again. (Do not save the sauce that you have been dipping brush into while cooking chicken.)

This is what I grew up believing "Barbecued Chicken" is. The recipe came from a Kraft Foods little cooking pamphlet that Mom had picked up somewhere. My Dad was the Grill Meister at our house and I was his assistant, although I did not touch the grill, of course. One of my fondest memories is being out at the grill with Dad while he cooked. No matter what he was grilling, we always had "Nibbles," which were a hot dog or two that he would grill (when with chicken they would also be basted with the above sauce), break into pieces with his tongs and then after they cooled a bit, he would ask for my opinion on how they tasted. They always tasted delicious and I believe that was probably because they were grilled with love for his "assistant."

Another memory attached to this "Barbecued Chicken" is that when I went to work one day with Dad (he worked for the VA in DC), we went to Scholl's Cafeteria for lunch. This was a special treat, we did not eat out often in those days (mid 60's). I saw on the board one of the offerings was "Barbecued Chicken." "Yum!" I thought. (My mistake was looking at the listed offerings rather than at the steam trays with the actual food in them) Can you imagine my utmost disappointment when I was handed a plate with some chicken with a thick, gooey tomatoey sauce on it instead of the golden brown bird I was used to? Dad was so nice about it-did not make me eat it, even though that was certainly wasted money and it was what I ordered.

Hope this becomes a favorite of yours.

Gary reminded me of his first memory of this recipe. We grew up together in College Park; our parents were great friends. His dad wanted to try his hand at grilling chicken like my dad. Gary recalls the chicken his dad took off the grill should have been called "Charcoal Chicken." It was black and charred. (That's why I warned you to be careful if you leave the skin on!)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Seasoned Oyster Crackers

1/2 c. canola oil

1 pkg. (about 2 T.) dry Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 - 3/4 tsp. lemon pepper

1 tsp. dill weed

2 - 12 oz. pkg. Oyster Crackers

Mix first 5 ingredients together. Pour over oystser crackers and mix well, but gently, with spatula or wooden spoon. Cover tightly and let set at least one hour. Enjoy!

I often get requests to bring these to get-togethers. I try not to have these around the house because I find them rather addictive and would eat them until they are gone. Luckily, if there are some to bring home I can always take any leftovers to my dear friend, Becka. I can't remember who gave me the recipe to begin with, but I ask God to bless them for me.

You can make a quick little gift packet for people. Mix the dry ingredients together (Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix through dill weed in small zip lock bags. (You can get these at the Flea Market and Hobby Lobby, the 3x4 inch ones work well.) I attach a small tag to the bags with instructions: " Blend the contents of packet with 1/2 c. vegetable or canola oil. Pour over 2 - 12 oz. pkg. oyster crackers and mix well. Cover and let set at least one hour. Serve and enjoy!

Food Follows Me

This blog was the brainchild of my own Brain Child, my daughter Elizabeth, and I decided to give it a try. I love to cook and "play with food." Often I am involved in activities that involve food, hence my motto, "Food Follows Me." A few of those activities include Kitchen Team Leader for several Emmaus Walks, the leader of our church's Wednesday night dinners for 5 years, entering the Kentucky State Fair culinary contests (and winning a few ribbons), and one of my favorites - planning and organizing the preparation of the food for Elizabeth and Toby's wedding reception. I have been cooking since I could pull a chair up to the counter and help my mom or Grandma stir whatever kind of batter they happened to be mixing. (Perhaps we should not go into the time I decided to add more water to the pancake batter Mom had made. Luckily, she caught me before I had stirred it in and could just pour the water back off the thick batter! Pancakes were saved!) The recipes I share will not always be new ones, or even original ones, but will be ones I have made. I hope to also share some memories that the recipes call to mind. Tonight, I'll share a quick recipe, one of my quick go-to recipes when I need to take something to a party.