Friday, November 30, 2012

Thanksgiving Casualties

Missy, here. I feel like a casualty of Thanksgiving. First off, the scales tell me so. Yep, gained a pound.

But also, my carelessness led to two burns that almost match! One on each hand. Now, how much talent does it take to do that, I ask you?

After Thanksgiving, I'm sick of heavy food. Early this week, I decided I needed to lighten up. And when I went to make my regular diet iced tea, I also decided it was time to take a break from artificial sweetener and drink water.

I don't like water. Have I ever told y'all that?? (Yes, I'm weird.)

So I went back to a recipe that I've used in the past (taken from The Flat Belly Diet). In the Flat Belly Diet, they call it Sassy Water. I love the recipe from that book, but I've also adjusted according to the ingredients I have on hand.

This particular day, I didn't have lemons or cucumber. But I did have ginger and oranges.

First, I got my favorite pitcher and filled it with filtered water. (We have a Pur filter on our faucet.)

Next, I washed and sliced an orange. I squeezed the juice from a couple of the slices into the pitcher. Then I put all the slices in the pitcher. It looks so pretty!

Next, I pulled out the ginger and broke off a little piece, about an inch long. A little goes a long way!

Use a sharp knife and peel the small piece.

Then grate it right into the pitcher using a small grater.

Voila, you have fresh-tasting water that even I can drink! :) I cover with plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator. When the water is gone, I add more, making a second pitcher using the same orange slices and whatever is left of the ginger in the bottom of the pitcher.

Next time I'm a klutz and burn myself, I need to have some of this chilled to dunk my hand into!

So who else around here is like me and needs a little flavor to drink water?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Haddon Hall Gingerbread


Mia came up with the idea of equating writing stories with Gingerbread Houses and I (quick to recognize brilliance when I see it!) jumped on board....

But I don't do gingerbread houses per se... I do cake houses, and we'll blog about that sometime soon, but I do love gingerbread.

And molasses cookies.

So this old-time recipe works for me!  Here's a picture of it as it is in my 1950 Betty Crocker cookbook:

Don't you just love the pictures?????

Cookbooks should always have great pics. I'm just sayin'....

And here's a close-up:

This old-style gingerbread was made famous in the 1870's... can you believe that? And it was called the Fort Atkinson Gingerbread in the original "Gold Medal Cookbook", a precursor to our current Betty Crocker editions...

How stinkin' cool is that?

So here's the recipe courtesy of Gold Medal, Betty Crocker and my mother's old cookbook! (Mine is actually a reprint edition, I'm so glad they did that!)

Mix together thoroughly:

1/2 cup soft shortening
2 TBSP. sugar
1 egg

Blend in:

1 cup Dark Molasses
1 cup boiling water

Sift together and stir in (beating until smooth):

2 1/4 cups sifted Gold Medal flour
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon

Pour into greased and floured 9" square pan. Bake. Cut into 3" squares in pan. Keep hot and serve hot with sweetened whipped cream, applesauce, chocolate sauce or any of the toppings below. (I'm only showing you the lemon Haddon Hall version here because I'm tired... But choir practice was WONDERFUL tonight!!!)

Lemon sauce for Haddon Hall gingerbread:

Fluffy Lemon Sauce

Mix together in saucepan:
1/2 cup sugar
2 TBSP. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. nutmeg  (just a pinch!)  :)

Stir in gradually:

1 Cup boiling water

Boil one minute, stirring constantly.

Stir in:
1 Tablespoon butter
4 TBSP. lemon juice
2 tsp. grated lemon rind

Gradually mix into:

1 egg, well beaten.

Now if you've ever made lemon meringue pie, this is pretty darn close to the same recipe and structure except for the nutmeg.... You can add the rind or not, it's good either way. If I have fresh lemon I use it. Dried lemon has too much "chaw" in it and I don't like the texture in a smooth sauce like this....

Basically, you're pouring (ladeling) lemon pie filling over homemade gingerbread... so GOOD!!!

But, wait..... The original version calls for this, too!:

Soften white cream cheese (is there another color? Was there ever?????) with a little cream. Beat until fluffy. Split each serving of hot gingerbread and spread with this cheese mixture. Replace top layer and spread more cheese mixture on top layer. Then ladle lemon sauce over it.

I haven't made this in a while. Now I've got the urge to do it and I blame that Mia Ross character... if she hadn't come up with gingerbread themed Seekerville, I'd be happy with a Little Debbie snack cake.


Since they're here and the gingerbread isn't....

This will do for now!  :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Treasures and traditions in an almond cake

Hello everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back and I've got a tasty new cake to share.  It all started when Edna was thinking on the good old days.

She talked about dresses...

                                                                      And aprons...

                                                                      And pyrex...

                                                             And utensils...

Which reminded me of something I picked up but wasn't sure what to do with... Ask Edna, of course! She knew what it was right away. It was a hard cheese grater, but you could also use it for grating nuts, like almonds.

But why would I want to grate almonds?? I mean, that's the real question here, right?

Edna was scandalized I had never made an almond cake. And so we began.

I'm a lazy, modern woman and didn't want to spend 3 hours grating almonds. And I have this minor wrist issue. Typing and all that. Ouch. I watch the wrists the same way a model takes care of her face.

(Here I am chained to my desk. I know, a little facial waxing may be in order.)

It's not quite our 'locavore' lifestyle, but a can of almond filling does the trick. You can also find recipes online for making your own if you don't have wrist issues and want to do everything the hard way.

Mix 1 cup of softened butter
        1 cup sugar
        and 3 eggs.  

Wait, this sounds like cookies! Hmmmmm.....

And in the almond filling. (Ugh. Is this a dump cake? I'm still scared to Google that term. Looks pretty close to what I was picturing..)

In one bowl, mix 2 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tsp baking powder. THIS IS A COOKIE RECIPE! I knew it!

 Oh, wait. And 1/3 cup whole milk. Edna said to add them, alternating between the flour and the milk, but STARTING with the flour and ENDING with the flour. Got that? I almost rolled my eyes, but I've learned to take dear Edna at her word.

You can add a coin for good luck, or a small porcelain figure, like a tiny baby Jesus. It's tradition that the person who finds the coin or the baby has wealth and happiness... But make sure everyone searches their cake piece BEFORE eating it.

55 minutes in a greased and floured Bundt pan at 350F. My house smelled AMAZING. It was like an amaretto latte being waved under your nose.
Drizzle of basic powdered sugar icing. I wanted to dress it up but Edna said DO NOT MESS WITH THE CAKE. So I didn't. She was so pleased, immersed in happy memories.

I got out some nice china for our cake and tea. I was ready to serve the warm cake and Edna made a strange little sound.

She was staring at a plate. Not a nice one, either. It was plastic and a little chipped.
Oh, AHEM. Yes. Early art project. Mother's Day, kindergarten, specifically.

See, she's wearing a crown. :) All mamas are princesses, you know. I have no idea if she really had a striped dress like that, or if I just liked red and blue. And I'm fairly sure her hands were NEVER that size.

Edna requested her piece of cake on that old plate. I tried to talk her out of it. Old, yes, but not a nice kind of old! Not pretty vintage! Plastic and scribbled and not safe for the mircrowave kind of old.

She would not be dissuaded. She said that vintage is a matter of time, and treasure is a matter of perspective. In forty years, my grandchildren will think it's a great plate so I should stop sticking it in the microwave.

One big thumbs up from one small person. He also managed to sneak in some blue frosting. Because all food tastes better when it's BLUE.

So, as I get closer to Christmas, and am just starting Advent here at our house, I'm looking around at my treasures with fresh eyes. Old, new, and in between, wherever our treasure is, there our hearts will be, right?  So, I'm holding close to faith, family, and traditions in this season.


Until next time!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Side Dishes

There are so many of them, aren't there? And we all have our faves.

Last week was a baking (not to mention eating) frenzy around the Obenhaus' abode. I did my best to rustle up everyone's favorites dishes.

This one is my husband's and it's easy peasy. His family calls it corn pudding. I don't find it very pudding-like, more like kinda cakey, but it is all kinds of yummy.

Here's what you'll need:
  • 1 - 15.5 oz can cream style corn
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 - 4 oz. can diced green chilies
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Dump everything into a bowl and mix 'er up.

Now I know what some of you lilly-livered folks north of Oklahoma are thinkin'. Eww, chilies. Eww, cayenne.

Dad blern weenies.

Well, you can skip the cayenne, IF YOU MUST (oh, go ahead, be brave and add just a dash). The green chilies really aren't hot though. Just flavorful. And we're all about flavor, right?

Now we'll just pour that mixture into a greased casserole, bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. It should be golden to slightly brown on the top and around the edges. I'd love to show you the finished product, I really would, but, well.... I forgot to take the pic. Everyone was chompin' at the bit to eat and I got so caught up in the frenzy I forgot.

I'm sorry. I won't do it again. 'Cept for that other recipe I'll share later where I forgot to capture the finished product.


So how was your turkey day? Are you still eating leftovers? I am. They're still yummy and I haven't sprouted feathers yet.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Let's Go WAY South of the Border: Brazilian Pudim

Hi everybody! Jan here, with a dessert so marvelous and easy, you'll be famous!

Giselle's Perfect Pudim
This is Pudim (pronounced "pud-jeen", with the accent on the second syllable). It's a favorite dessert in Brazil.

We call this wonderful concoction "flan", like in Mindy's post here, but there are some differences that take us from Texas to Brazil.

My friend, Giselle, who grew up in Brazil, wanted to share her recipe for Pudim with us, so she invited a group of us to her house last week to learn to make her favorite dessert, and it was so much fun, we decided to do it more often!

The secret, like most recipes, is in the method....

First, Giselle starts the caramel. She pours one cup of sugar into a pan and turns her stove on to medium heat.

"How long?" we ask.

"Until it makes caramel."

"Don't you have to stir it?" We all shift uncomfortably. We know what burned sugar smells like.

"No, you don't mess with it. If you stir it, it just sticks to the spoon. Once in awhile lift and twist the pan, but don't stir it."

Nervous laughter.

"Oh, and you don't walk away."

Sighs of relief. The sugar wouldn't be abandoned. It wouldn't suffer the ignoble death of burning.

And then Giselle walks away.

"While it's heating, you make the batter." On the other side of Giselle's spacious kitchen. Leaving sugar on the stove.

More nervous laughter.

"In your blender, put in one can of sweetened condensed milk." Giselle opens the can and poured it into her blender. "Not the evaporated milk. You need to use the sweetened condensed."

We make notes.

"Now add one and a half cans of milk."

Giselle measures whole milk into the empty condensed milk can.

"You can use skim milk and other low-fat ingredients, but I like the rich taste of the real milk."

Giselle is my kind of cook :)

"Now add four eggs, one half teaspoon vanilla, and one teaspoon cornstarch."

"Real vanilla?" someone asks.

"Oh, yes. Real vanilla."

Giselle hesitates.

"The cornstarch is not necessary. It's optional. I like to add it as insurance so the batter isn't runny. My mother says no."

(That is the first hint of Pudim culture. More later.)

Now, all the time Giselle is opening cans and measuring, we've been taking turns hovering over the sugar on the stove.

Giselle comes over to take a look.

"Oh yes," she says, not touching it, "it's beginning to melt."

Back at the blender, Giselle turns on the switch.

"Blend it for a couple minutes. Maybe three or four, until it's well blended. Then you wait for the caramel to be done."

"When will you know it's done?" we ask.

"When it is brown. Very dark brown. You can do it lighter, but I like it very dark."

Giselle lifts the pan and twists it a little, letting the dark brown liquid mix with the yet unmelted sugar.

"It has to be all liquid, though. If you don't leave it long enough, it will be separate and grainy."

She abandons the sugar again and it bubbles in protest.

Giselle reaches into her cupboard for her pan.

"When I first moved here, I couldn't find a pudim pan, so I used a bundt cake pan."

She shows us a cake pan.

"See how the middle is high enough so the pudim won't spill into it as it bakes."

Then she shows us her pudim pan.

"The pudim pan has a closed center, see? I bought this one on a trip home."

Once the caramel is completely dark brown, she pours it into the pudim pan.

"Swirl the caramel around to coat the sides of the pan."

And then Giselle pours the batter that has been resting in the blender into the pudim pan.

"Now you cook it."

There are several ways to cook the pudim, but they all share a most important step: the pudim must be covered tightly with foil to keep water vapor from getting in and spoiling the pudim.

Cooking method one: Set the covered pudim pan in a 9"x13" pan of hot water in a 350 degree oven. Bake it for one and a half hours.

Cooking method two: Find a large pot that your pudim pan can rest in like a double boiler. Put plenty of water in the bottom pan so it doesn't boil dry, and keep it boiling. This method takes thirty minutes.

Cooking method three: If you have a pan with a lid, it only takes twenty minutes on top of the stove.

I did some research on-line and found an official pudim double boiler with a lid. It's expensive enough that I think I'll stick to Giselle's method, but if you're interested, here's the link.

 How do you know if the pudim is done?

Insert a knife halfway between the edge and center of the pan. If it comes out clean, the pudim is done.

Cool the pudim in the pan. Set it on a cooling rack for about an hour, and then refrigerate it. Overnight is best.

When you're ready to serve it, run a knife along the edge of the pan and invert the pudim into a dish with sides. There will be caramel in the bottom of the pudim pan. Pour this over the top of your pudim. If it runs down the sides, that's good.

Now to some pudim culture.

Giselle's "fluffy" pudim
About half way through our cooking lesson, our friend Claudia joined us. Claudia is also from Brazil, but had never met Giselle before she and her family moved to our city.

Sadly, our little party was also something of a going-away party for Claudia. She and her family moved back to Brazil on Thursday after only six months with us :(

The family had moved here knowing no English (Portuguese and German, yes, but no English. Claudia's husband is from Germany).

Giselle serves us a pudim she had made earlier in the day. We can tell she isn't happy with it, but it tastes fabulous.

Claudia takes a bite.

"Mmm." She nods. "It's a bit...fluffy? No?"

We look at her.

"Fluffy? Is that the right word?" She says the word she means in Portuguese, and Giselle agrees with her. Fluffy is the word she means.

Then Giselle laughs. It's part of having pudim, she explains. Brazilians have it often, and everyone makes it a slightly different way. When it's served, it has to be critiqued, but in a friendly way.

And, of course, no one makes it as well as mother does. It doesn't matter whose mother.

Giselle and Claudia's children enjoying the feast
By the way, the next day Giselle told me she had made a mistake with that pudim - she had used baking powder instead of cornstarch. No wonder it was "fluffy"!

Now for the recipe:

Caramel Flan (Pudim)


1 cup sugar (for caramel)

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cans milk
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Make caramel out of the one cup sugar by cooking it on the stove.

Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the sweetened condensed milk, milk, eggs, vanilla and cornstarch. Blend for 3-4 minutes.

Pour caramel into a pudim or flan pan; swirl pan to coat bottom and sides. Pour batter into pan. Cover tightly with foil.

Set dish in a 9"x13" pan with hot water. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Or cook in a double boiler on stove for 30 minutes.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Simply Saturday Stuffed Mushrooms for the Holidays!

That title is a lie.

These are not simple.

But they're good enough to make and eat and will impress all the people you could possibly know. Right there, ADVANTAGE: YOU!

Sweet, right?

Here are the basics:

2 Lbs. Large Mushrooms
2 cups poultry stuffing (you can use your own or use Stovetop)
1 boxes heat-and-serve breakfast sausage links
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons parsley

Wash mushrooms. Peel if necessary. Remove stems. Heat sausage in microwave to thaw. Using grinder or food processor, finely chop the sausage links, poultry stuffing (If using Stovetop, prepare a half-box as directed. Or do the whole box and eat half.)  :) and mushroom stems into a mealy-texture. Add Parmesan cheese and parsley. Mix well.

Saute mushroom caps in olive oil over medium heat (about 5-7 minutes)

Remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly (for handling).  Fill each mushroom with a nicely rounded spoonful of the stuffing. Place on baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 16-20 minutes.

You will love these and you will bring them places and people will have more respect for you as a person because they are that good.


Or at least they'll invite you again!!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pumpkin Dump Cake

I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving yesterday and got to spend time with friends and family! I know you may be sick of turkey, but I wanted to offer one last pumpkin recipe this week. I can never get enough pumpkin!

Sandra LeeSmith shared this with me. She said she made several to give away. Thank you, Sandra, for sharing this recipe!

Oops. I asked Sandra to share a photo of one of her cakes. But apparently after she mentioned the cake in Seekerville post comments on Monday, this was all that was left! We must've had some hungry Seekervillians!

Pumpkin Dump Cake

From Sandra LeeSmith

1 large (29 oz) can pumpkin
1 yellow cake mix  (use dry out of box about 1/2 of it for topping)
1 stick real butter (4 oz)
3 eggs
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
1 1/4 cups sugar  (can use 1 cup if want less sweet)

Preheat oven to 425
Mix pumpkin, eggs, milk and sugar and pour in 9 x 13 inch cake pan
Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.Then lower one to 350 and bake 40 minutes.
Cool at least 30 minutes
Crumble on top 1/2 box of dry yellow cake mix.
Cut up butter stick in small pieces and put on top of cake mix
Sprinkle pecans on top
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes to melt topping   (you can put on broil for 2-3 minutes if want brown top)

Enjoy warm with whip cream or cool whip.  

This is yummy,  attractive and easy.


P.S. from Missy:
Don't forget about Sandra's new book from Montlake Publishing! Current of Love will be out in December and is available for pre-order now!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving, Peeps!!!!

May God bless and keep you.
May he strengthen you daily.
Comfort you nightly.
Bring you sunshine...
And rain.

Light... and shadow.

May you feel his presence in everything you do and...

May that presence shine as Christ's light through your eyes, your smile and the work of your hands.

Happy Thanksgiving!

And thank you for making us a regular part of your busy day.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Butternut squash cake with maple whipped topping

Hello everybody!! The Fresh Pioneer is back and I have a sweet little something for your Thanksgiving week.

For once, an actual picture of the food I will be cooking and cyber serving. (See, I'm so smart I always post the first pic of something really pretty because that shows up on the link. Crazy like a fox, I am. If I posted a picture of the actual food no one would ever click.)

 So, first you need 4 cups of butternut squash, cooked and blended. (I'll pause while you get that done... *taps toes impatiently* Wait, you can buy them in little packages that go in the mircowave?? Huh.)

 Preheat the oven to 325F. Rub tummy and say , "This is going to be delicious!" Positive thinking matters.

Blend one cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of butter, 3 eggs, 3 tbs lemon juice and the 4 c of cooked squash together with ONE CUP of flour. Edna went to town with this. Squash was flying everywhere! But she was happy so I let her go...


 (Mmmmm. Edna says that butternut squash is VERY GOOD FOR US! Lots of Vitamin A and C and fiber. Of course, I think she meant it's really good before we put all that butter and sugar in, but we'll just pretend it's still going to make us super healthy!)

Next add in a small bowl ONE MORE CUP of flour plus :

2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 allspice

Mix well and add into the main mixture. Pour into small ramekins (I love those things!) or a shallow baking dish.

Place the ramekins in one inch of water and bake for about 30 minutes. They seemed to take a long time to cook. Maybe I was hungry. Maybe it was all the small people clinging to my legs and pleading with their big, googly baby eyes for SQUASH CAKES.
So, finally they're done (the tops are cracked, which is what one recipe said, but even then they were coming out goopy when poked, so I gave them more time).

So, the original recipe said the topping was sabayon flavored with Jack Daniels, which had been left alone for three weeks with two vanilla beans 'infusing the flavor'.

Got all that???
So, I went to my local supermarket, paid $15 for two whole beans, bought some whiskey, plopped in the beans, and left it in the laundry room for three weeks...

(Stephen Colbert giving me the skeptical face.)

 Fine, I did no such thing. Honestly, I think that part of the recipe was a test to see who was paying attention.

So, heavy cream whipped by a strong man, while the bowl is held by a small boy. (How's that for specific??)

Add 2TBS sugar, 1TSP vanilla and 2 TPS maple flavoring.  One dash of cinnamon for pretty.

Here's Edna all cleaned up and enjoying her serving of squash cake. She asked for just a few bites because she's watching the sugar.
I think this was one of the best things to ever have emerged from my oven. The smell was amazing and the taste was perfectly light, not too gooey or heavy, and definitely not just pumpkin flavor. Even without the Jack Daniels-vanilla bean pod- sabayon, it was delicious.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!