Friday, February 3, 2023


I had to add this post because up here in New England, we are having one heck of a chill this weekend. So my mind is on cooking, not genealogy for the next few days.  

Amazing Italian Grape-nut Pudding 

Although Grapenuts was first produced in the late 19th century, within the next couple of years, these little grains were used as a crispy topping for baked custard. Here in New England, Grape-nut Pudding was at its culinary pinnacle in the 1920s and has stayed popular for almost 100 years. I created this recipe because my children dislike custard. So if I could reproduce the flavor of this classic Yankee dessert, without the overpowering flavor of eggs, than I could keep this dish alive, hopefully for another century. And this did the trick. Creamy and smooth, the flavor and crunch of Grape-nuts isn't lost, but that eggy flavor is. Don't be dismayed however, the creaminess and a sweet crust forms all throughout and around this classic, making it even better!

Nonstick cooking spray

1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese

4 eggs

3/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup Grape-nuts cereal *

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg

Grease an 8-inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Blend all ingredients in a bowl with an electric mixer until as smooth as possible, on low speed. Pour into prepared pan and bake 34-36 minutes, or until firm to the touch in the center. Remove from oven to cool before covering to refrigerate completely.

*If you don't want to spend the money for an entire box of this cereal, your favorite granola makes a fantastic substitution.

Apple Pie Fritter Bread
On a day like this, I don't need to tell you how good this would taste sitting at home. 

Apple mixture:
2 apples
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Spice Mix:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup oil(I used canola)
2 eggs
2/3 cup brown sugar
1(6-oz.)container vanilla or plain yogurt or use milk
1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice, optional
2 tablespoons butter or margarine

Grease a loaf pan; set aside. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Peel, core and dice apples very small and mix with sugar and cinnamon; set aside. in a small bowl, blend brown sugar and cinnamon; set aside. In a large bowl, beat oil, brown sugar,
eggs, yogurt and extract until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Continue beating until well incorporated. It does not have to be lump free. Pour half the batter in prepared pan. then half the apple mixture evenly over the top, then half the spice mix evenly over the apples. Repeat , this time pressing the apples just slightly into batter. Dot with the butter and bake 75 minutes, or until the middle bounces back when pressed. Remove from oven to cool before glazing with a mixture of 1/2 cup powdered sugar with 3 tablespoons milk or water.

Crispy Cheesy Potatoes au Gratin, Two Ways
Who doesn't like that crispy edge often found around a great mac and cheese? Now take that a step further and give this recipe a try. Not only is it far easier to prepare(and foolproof I might add), but you get that same cheesy crispness in every single bite!

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
11 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 large Spanish onion, peeled, halved and sliced thin
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon minced garlic in oil
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon both salt and black pepper
1/2 cup(2 ounces)shredded milk Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup(2 ounces)Gruyere cheese, shredded

Begin by slicing potatoes 1/2-inch thick. Place in a large saucepan, cover with water and boil until just fork tender, about 8 minutes. Carefully pour into a strainer allowing to drain and dry while making Caramelized Onions and cheese sauce. 
Prepare Caramelized Onions first by placing 2 tablespoons butter with olive oil and maple syrup in a large skillet over medium high heat. When butter has melted, add onions and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring often, or until browned. Remove from heat and immediately transfer to 9-inch square baking pan, or equivalent; set aside to cool. It may harden, which is perfect.
Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter and mix with panko crumbs evenly; set aside.
Melt remainder of butter, with garlic, in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook 3 minutes. Whisk in flour until smooth. While still on heat, add milk, salt and pepper, blending well. Continue cooking and whisking until milk has thickened. Add both cheeses and remove from heat. Sir until cheese has melted.
To assemble, layer cooked potatoes over the onions. Pour cheese sauce over the top evenly and sprinkle panko crumbles over the top. Cook 20-25 minutes, or until bubbling and lightly browned. Remove to serve hot. 

NOTE: If you don't care for the Caramelized Onion layer, simply omit the entire process and follow directions for the rest of the recipe.

Bacon Cheeseburger Soup

This is probably one of my best soups for winter. And I hate to even call it a soup, more like a cheeseburger chowdah to be honest. Creamy, cheesy, thick and delicious. Many will make it a Deluxe or even a Royal with the addition of diced tomatoes and/or onions. By all means double it if you are cooking for more than two. After all, what soup isn't tastier the second day?

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons flour
4 ounces ground beef
4-6 ounces yellow American cheese, thinly sliced
4 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk the melted butter and flour in a small bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, add ground beef over medium heat, breaking apart with a spatula or large spoon. Cook, continuing to break apart, until cooked through. Carefully drain grease and return to stove. Add bacon, milk, yolks and pepper, stirring well. Bring to scalding, stirring frequently and add cheese, bacon and butter mixture(roux). Stir well and continue cooking and stirring until thick, creamy and cheese has completely melted. Serve hot.

If you decide to make this either a Deluxe or Royal version, simple add diced tomatoes at the very end or cook a quarter cup diced onion with burger.

Blueberry Coffee Cake

With the wind gusting and the temperature already in the minus category, I have absolutely no issue starting up the oven and keeping it going all day long. I remember my father saying that HIS father used to repeat "Maine has 2 seasons. Winter and August". It is almost true. So sitting down to a great tasting New England coffee cake is a feel good snack or dessert. Even a husband can make this delightful cake.

1/3 c. brown sugar
3 T. flour
1/2 t. cinnamon
2 T. butter or margarine, melted
Nonstick cooking spray
2 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/4 c. butter or margarine, melted
3/4 c. milk
2 eggs
1 T. lemon juice
1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Grease an 8-9-inch square baking pan or cake pan liberally with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
In a small bowl, blend together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add melted butter and stir until flour mixture is entirely moist; set aside.

In a large bowl, place all cake ingredients at once, except blueberries, and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Fold in blueberries. Pour batter in prepared pan and evenly sprinkle crumb topping over the top. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until the topping is crisp and the cake bounces back when touched in the middle. Use a toothpick if needed to make sure it comes out clean. Remove from oven to cool slightly before cutting to serve.

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