Here's to good food!

I am finally putting my tried and true family recipes here. Check out my old-time favorites as well as newly discovered ones.

I hope you'll find some recipes here that you enjoy cooking, and those you cook for will find them tasty and satisfying.
Are you looking for something special? Something quick and easy? You'll find it here somewhere.
Check in often to see what's cooking in Monterey!

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti

If you are posting from this site, please give appropriate credit and notify me. Thank you.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Kay's Peppermint Cookies

Here are all the cookies: (L-R) Kay's Peppermint Cookies, Toffee Grahams,(plain and chocolate covered), Christmas Sandies, and Benne (Pecan) Wafers.

Lisa brought these cookies to us one Christmas. The recipe was from her mother-in-law, Kay.

1 C butter                             1 1/2 C flour        
1 1/2 tsp vanilla                    1/4 tsp salt
1 C powdered sugar              1 C oats
1/4 cup crushed peppermints (about 10 mini-candy canes)
additional powdered sugar

Cream butter and vanilla. Add sugar, flour, and salt. Stir in oats, and candy. Form into 1-inch balls. Roll in additional powdered sugar and press each cookie with a fork.

Bake at 325o for 15 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet. Store in a tightly covered container.

Makes about 5 dozen small cookies

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Benne Wafers from Wednesday Chef

Benne wafers made with sesame seeds

Made with toasted pecans after I used up sesame seeds.  Both absolutely DELICIOUS!

     I have read about these in the past.  Then I recently read a post about these at:  ( I was waiting for a response for permission to post this, but have not heard back, and now the response section is closed.)
It's a very lengthy article.  After you read the section just below the cookies, scroll down until you see the ingredients on a table, then start reading again. (I just made a 2nd batch, and since I had no more sesame seeds, I used finely chopped roasted pecans. I think I like these even better!)
     As you can see, mine are quite odd shaped, except for one batch that happened to be sort of round.  I was a little more careful with that batch about the size of the dough.  Little means about 1 level teaspoon or a small marble size, (makes about 2 inch cookies) which will make almost 5 dozen.   Mostly I wasn't patient enough to make them that small, and I didn't bother trying to make them too round either, which ended with ghost-shaped cookies.  I took some out of the oven too soon (because they were too big) and they were more chewy than crispy, but still very tasty. 
     They really need to be the same size on each pan.  You have to be sure to bake them until very golden brown, then wait until it cools before trying to remove them.
     Some other online recipes used more flour and suggested toasting the sesame seeds first.  I think toasting would make the cookies taste even better.  These wafers are very thin and you'd probably have to eat about a 5 to 8 to equal one 3-inch chocolate chip cookie, but these are a real treat!  Let me know what you think.

Note: Some people reported having issues with the texture of their cookies; please remember that the butter you use must not be warm or room temperature, but cool to the touch and still quite firm before you begin to cream it with the sugar. Here's an article on butter in baking for your reading pleasure.)
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cool but not cold
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and well-combined. Add the egg and beat until combined. Add the flour, salt, vanilla extract and sesame seeds. Mix until all the ingredients are combined.
3. Drop small spoons of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten the wafers with a knife dipped in ice water.
4. Bake for 6 minutes. The cookies should be a golden brown with deeper golden edges. Pull the parchment paper off the sheet pan onto a cooling rack. After about 5 to 8  minutes, gently pull the cooled cookies off the parchment. Reuse the parchment for the next batch.
5. Cool completely and store in a tin for up to 2 weeks.  They will lose their crispness if not tightly contained.

Christmas Sandies

 The original recipe coated these cookies with colored nonpareils, but that didn't appeal to me, plus I didn't have any on hand.  I have used plain sugar, which shows off the cranberries and makes it attractive. But I rather like the taste of these with the powdered sugar.  Try some of each and decide which you like best.
  • 1  cup  butter, softened
  • 1/2  cup  powdered sugar
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla
  • 2  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1  cup  finely chopped dried cranberries*
  • 2  teaspoon  finely shredded lemon peel
  •  1/2-1 cup  powdered sugar for rolling in after baking (Optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar. Beat until combined, scraping bowl. Beat in vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in cranberries, lemon peel, and any remaining flour (use your hands to work in flour, if mixture seems crumbly).
2. Shape mixture into 3/4- or 1-inch balls.( Roll dough balls in sugar now or in powdered sugar after baking). Arrange balls 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 13 minutes for 3/4-inch balls, or 15 minutes for 1-inch balls, or until bottoms of cookies are light brown. Transfer to wire racks and let cool. (Or roll in powdered sugar while still warm)

Makes about 72 3/4-inch cookies or 36 1-inch cookies.
*Tip: Place dried cranberries in a food processor. Cover and process until finely chopped. Or finely chop cranberries by hand.

Toffee Grahams (or Cracker Brittle)

I first had these when they were given as a favor at a party.  Only 4 ingredients!  Simple to assemble!  And the best part, they're very delicious!

Option: Cover with chocolate.

*Graham Crackers (about 12-15-- half a box or whatever fits your pan)
*1/2 - 1 cup sliced almonds 
*1 cup butter  (2 sticks)   Do not use margarine.
*1/2 cup sugar
*1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

  1. Line a cookie sheet (that has sides i.e. jelly roll pan) with foil.  Lay graham crackers right next to each other so they are touching.  Fold the foil up so it helps to contain the hot liquid.
  2. Heat the butter and sugar at medium heat, stirring off and on for approximately 2-3 minutes after the mixture starts to bubble.  The mixture should look thick, yellow-y and mucus-like and kind of pulls away from the sides of your pot when stirred at the edge of the pot.  (What you are doing is cooking the butter and sugar to a semi-crystallized state.)
  3. Immediately pour butter mixture over the crackers, spreading evenly with a knife.  Sprinkle with almonds now if you are NOT adding the chocolate frosting.
  4. Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Be careful not to burn the brittle. Take out the brittle when it is golden brown… the center can be a bit yellow-y.  The brittle will darken after being taken out of the oven.
  5. Turn off the oven.  If desired,  sprinkle chocolate chips on the hot toffee, then put back into the oven for 2-3 minutes.  Remove from oven and smooth over with a knife or spatula.  Sprinkle on the almonds.  Let cool, then put into refrigerator for 10 minutes for the chocolate to harden.
  6. Cool and break into pieces.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Christmas Scones

These scones are wonderful for breakfast during the holidays.  Try them with fresh cranberries when available.

These tender/crumbly, full-flavored scones feature dried cranberries and pecans. With oats in the dough, they're a tasty throwback to their Scottish origins.
These could be good with a lemon glaze fresh out of the oven. Just mix a little lemon juice with some powdered sugar instead of sprinkling sugar on it.

2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats or quick-cooking oats
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup diced pecans
1 -1¼ cup buttermilk, sour cream, or plain yogurt
          (Start with 1 cup, add more if needed)
coarse sparkling sugar for topping, or lemon glaze (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line with parchment.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix the butter into the dry ingredients until it looks unevenly crumbly. Mix in the fruit and nuts until they're evenly distributed. Stir in the buttermilk starting with 1 cup and adding a bit more as needed.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and cut it into two pieces. (Keep sprinkling on flour if you need to.) Form each into a disk, and gently pat each disk into a round about 6" in diameter. Sprinkle each disk with coarse sparkling sugar, if desired. With a bench scraper or sharp knife, cut the round into 8 wedges. Do this by cutting straight down through the dough so you shear the edges. If you saw the dough, you tend to press the edges together, which keeps the scones from rising as they bake. Don't separate the wedges.

Transfer the scones, still in their circular shape, to the prepared baking sheet. Separate the scones slightly; there should be about 1" between them at the outside edge. (Sprinkle with sugar, if desired.) Bake the scones for 20 minutes, or until they're just beginning to brown. Remove them from the oven, and serve warm. Or reheat for 10 minutes, lightly tented with foil, in a preheated 350°F oven. Serve with traditional clotted cream or Devon cream, if desired.
Yield: 16 tea scones.

From King Arthur website: Christmas Scones

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lydia’s Sweet Potato Casserole

        After Lydia introduced us to this casserole, it is now the only one we make for the holidays.  Scrumptious!  And with all the recipes that bear Lydia's name, you'd think she was a gourmet cook.  She does very well for herself, although I'm not sure she knows that.
        This seems to be almost the same recipe that Paula Deen and Ruth Chris Steakhouse have on their websites.  EXCEPT that their recipes use 3 times as much sugar.  This is pretty sweet.  I can't imagine with that much sugar. ( )

6 medium sweet potatoes
½ C (brown) sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ C butter
2 eggs
1/3 C milk

1/3 C firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 C flour
2 T butter

Cook sweet potatoes in simmering water 35-45 min. or until tender.  Let cool to touch; peel & mash.  Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, vanilla, milk & ½ C butter; mix until smooth.  Spoon into greased 12x8x2”  baking dish.  Combine brown sugar, pecans, flour & 2 T butter; sprinkle over casserole.  Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Makes ~ 8 servings

Friday, November 5, 2010

Baked Deviled Eggs

Here's a breakfast treat if you like deviled eggs.  And it's okay if the eggs don't peel perfectly.  No one will know since they'll be covered in sauce.

I like to serve this on toasted English muffins along with a fresh fruit salad.

6-8 hard boiled eggs                            
2-3 Tbsp mayo                                 
2 tsp prepared mustard                
     (Prepare deviled eggs using above ingredients.   For ease of stuffing eggs, put yolk mixture into a baggie, cut off a tiny corner of the baggie, and squeeze into whites. )  
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
4 oz canned chile

½ cup shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  Stir together soup, sour cream and canned chiles.  Place about 1/3 of the soup mixture in a 10” pie plate or 7x11” baking dish.  Add deviled egg halves in a single layer.  Pour the rest of soup mixture over eggs and sprinkle with cheese.  (Optional: Sprinkle with paprika before baking.)

Bake 20-25 minutes or until heated through.  Remove and let stand 5 minutes.

Can be prepared the night before and refrigerated.  Bake 10-15 minutes longer.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cheryl's Creamy Tomato Soup

This tastes a whole lot better than Campbell's.  It isn't that much more work.

¼ cup olive oil
1 large stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-28 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
1-14 oz can chicken broth
1 bay leaf
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
2 Tbsp butter
½ cup whipping cream

Heat oil in saucepan and add chopped veggies, garlic, butter—saute stirring occasionally for 10-20 minutes.

Add tomatoes, chicken broth, herbs, seasonings simmer 1 hour (depends on how much time I have whether it cooks for an hour or not).
Remove from heat add cream and cool enough to puree with immersion blender. (Before I had an immersion blender, we ate it with chunks which was good, too.)