Sunday, December 3, 2017

Elta Zahn's Ginger Cookies

(1) Grandma used Brer Rabbit molasses (yellow or green label) which I can't find, so use Grandma's Molasses (yellow).  

(2) Think the cookies roll out easier if 9 cups flour is used instead of 8.

(3)  Recipe can be cut in half as full recipe makes a huge batch (1/2 batch makes about 27 -    3" round cookies -- or less if you make gingerbread boys/girls)

(4) Don't even think about making these without an electric mixer, although apparently Grandma did.)


1 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups New Orleans molasses (see Note above)
2 large eggs, well beaten
8-9 cups all-purpose flour (directions said sift before measuring)
1 Tbsp. ground ginger (mix into the flour)
3 tsp. baking soda (mix into the flour)
2/3 cup buttermilk
Additional 1 tsp baking soda (stir into the buttermilk)
Additional granulated sugar for sprinkling on top of the cookies (think this helps keep them soft, plus this is how I remember Grandma used to do it)


(1)   In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening.
(2)  Add in the sugar and continue beating at med-high speed.
(3)  Add molasses, blending at low speed.
(4)  Add in eggs to mix well.
(5)  To the mixing bowl, slowly, and alternately, add in and mix dry ingredients (flour/ginger/baking soda mixture) and wet ingredients (buttermilk/ baking soda mixture).  Do this in about 4-5 additions, mixing and scraping bowl thoroughly between dry and wet ingredients until all is mixed in.  Dough should be stiff.
(6)  Chill at least several hours, or overnight.
(7)  Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
(8)  On a well-floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll out portions of dough to about 1/4" thick.  Cut with cookie cutter.  Gently transfer to a cookie sheet (I usually brush off extra flour on top and bottom of cookie in the process).  
(9) If round cookies, I sprinkle granulated sugar on top before baking.  If other shapes, like gingerbread boys/girls/house where they might be frosted or iced, I do not.
 (10) Bake for 8 minutes, check, then add an extra minute, if needed -- 9 minutes is usually good for round cookies.
(11)  Cool and enjoy!  Cookies can be frozen and thawed later -- remember Grandma used to keep these in the freezer and take them out when we visited!


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Beef Mushroom and Barley Soup


2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 lb. sirloin, cut into bite-size pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 oz. fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 bay leaf
4 cups (32 oz.) beef broth, plus
2 beef bouillon cubes dissolved in 4 cups (32 oz.) boiling water  
1 cup dry pearl barley 
 salt and pepper, to taste


In a large 6 -8 quart pot, on med-low heat, melt olive oil and butter.  Add chopped onions and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, until onions are soft.  Add chopped celery, carrots and mushrooms; cook for a few more minutes.  Add beef broth and beef bouillon mixture (should have 8 cups total, broth and bouillon).  Add bay leaf and stir.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for an hour.  Add a bit more water if liquid level goes down.  Add barley, stir, bring to boil again, then reduce to simmer -- cover and cook for another 1/2 hour, until barley is tender.  Adjust for salt and pepper, to taste.  Remove bay leaf and serve.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Macaroni and Cheese

Note:  Use good extra-sharp white cheddar cheese for this recipe and hand grate -- easiest straight from refrigerator (I like using a 4-sided grater for this).


1-16 oz. package elbow macaroni (like Barilla)
 4Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. salt 
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. Coleman's dry English mustard
4 level Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/2 -1 Tbsp. dry sherry, to taste
2 cups hand grated extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, plus 1 extra Tbsp. for topping below

Bread topping:

1 slice whole wheat bread, toasted, cooled, and made into crumbs.  Then add the extra 1 Tbsp. grated white cheddar cheese to the bread crumbs to mix/crumb further.   


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large (5-6 quart) pot of boiling salted (1 tsp.) water, add package of elbow macaroni and cook for 6 minutes.  Drain and set aside when done.

In small/medium (2-1/2 quart) pot, melt butter on low heat.  When melted, add salt, black and white peppers and dry mustard.  Stir to mix.  Add flour, stirring to make roux. Cook for about 1/2 -1 minute stirring.  Add milk, turning up heat to med-low/med, and stir with a whisk until mixture thickens and boils.  Add sherry and stir.  Turn off heat, then add the grated cheddar cheese, mixing to blend thoroughly.  Taste to adjust for salt.

Spray a casserole dish with baking spray.  Place cooked macaroni in the casserole, then slowly pour the creamy cheese sauce over the top, stirring to mix it into the macaroni thoroughly.  Smooth, then sprinkle the bread topping evenly over the top.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes to cool slightly.  Serves 6-8.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Buckeye Balls

(Recipe from Connie Gaspar of Malone, NY)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Blueberry Almond Flaxseed Muffins


1/2 cup whole unblanched almonds
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup blueberries, washed and dried
1/2 cup vegetable oil, preferably sunflower (or peanut oil)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed meal, mixed with 6 Tbsp. water (set aside until ready to use)
1 teaspoon vanilla


Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Using spray vegetable oil, coat a 6-muffin Texas size muffin pan and set aside. 

In bowl of food processor, coarsely chop the almonds; transfer to mixing bowl.  Add flour, wheat germ, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and blueberries to the same bowl; stir to blend thoroughly.  In bowl of food processor, add oil, brown sugar, flaxseed/water mixture and vanilla.  Process until blended.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry; stir with wooden spoon or spatula until just blended.  Spoon batter into greased muffin cups; batter will fill each cup. Bake until muffins feel firm to the touch, about 25 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes in pan.  Carefully turn out of pan. Let the muffins cool on a rack a few minutes before serving.  Serves 6.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Irish Soda Bread

From the original Good Housekeeping cookbook with a few small changes -- very good and easy. 


4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup currants
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 ½ cups buttermilk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2-quart round casserole. In large bowl with fork, mix flour and the next 4 ingredients. With pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; stir in currants. 

In small bowl with fork, beat eggs and yolk slightly; remove 1 tablespoon and reserve. Stir buttermilk into remaining egg; stir into flour mixture just until flour is moistened (dough will be sticky). 

Turn dough onto well-floured surface; knead about 10 strokes to mix thoroughly. Shape into a ball; place in casserole. In center of ball, cut 4-inch cross ¼ inch deep. Brush dough with reserved egg. 

Bake about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cool in casserole on wire rack 10 minutes; removed from casserole and cool completely on rack. 

Makes 1 loaf.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


I use the bread machine to make the dough about 3 hours ahead of time. Recipe below is to make enough dough for 2 thin crust pizzas. I use 2 pizza stones that I have from Pampered Chef -- one round and one rectangular -- and I don't heat them ahead of time, just pat and roll the dough out onto the cold stones.  Usually one pizza is plain cheese, the other is either pepperoni or vegetable.

Pizza Dough Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups +3 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2-1/2 cups bread flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/2 tsp. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
3-3/4 tsp. bread machine yeast
dusting of semolina flour, corn flour or very light coating of olive oil for pizza stones


1.  Rinse out the bread machine pan with hot water so the ingredients go in a warm pan.  

2.  Then measure the water for the dough using a Pyrex measure -- use cold water and then heat it in the microwave until warm,  but not hot (too hot kills the yeast).

3.   Place all ingredients in bread machine pan in order listed.  Select WHOLE WHEAT DOUGH cycle.

4.  Let the dough be mixed and rise until done in the bread maker (about 2-1/2 to 3 hours, timer is auto on mine depending on cycle.  It should rise to double).  Because this makes enough for 2 pizzas, you may have to push the dough down if it starts to overflow the top of the pan.  At the end I push it down again to get all the air out.

5.  When the dough is ready to use, divide the dough in half and put one ball on each pizza stone (coat stones first with a little dusting of semolina flour, corn flour or very light coating of olive oil).  Let sit for about 10 minutes to rest.

6.  During this time I set my oven to BREAD PROOF (which is 100 degrees).  Then roll out the dough on the pan -- and use your finger tips at the end to make it even and so the edges are raised a little.

7.  Put the pans in the 100 degree oven while you are getting the toppings together -- maybe 1/2 hour.  This makes the crust a little lighter and better.

Topping Ingredients:

olive oil 

red pepper flakes

pizza sauce (I usually use leftover Rao's Marinara Sauce)

8-12 oz shredded pizza cheese (combo mozzarella and provolone) -- about 1-1/2 bags

additional shredded/grated Parmesan cheese 

fresh garlic, to taste, crushed

additional toppings-- pepperoni, sliced onions, sliced peppers

additional olive oil

dried oregano

Directions on final preparation of the pizza:

1.  When you have the toppings together, remove the pizzas from the warm oven (bread proofing cycle or 100 degrees) to the counter and then preheat the oven to bake at 500 degrees. NOTE: This works best with two ovens so you can use the lowest position to bake each of the pizzas on (so the cheese does not get burned!).  Or you can use one oven and switch pizzas top to bottom halfway through, but you will have to keep your eye on the top one to make sure it does not get too brown.

2.  Put about 1 Tbsp. olive oil on each crust and spread around evenly with a spoon -- almost to the edge.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, to taste. (about 1/4 tsp)

3.  Spread pizza sauce over the top of the pizzas, to taste -- enough for a medium coating -- almost to the edge.

4.  Spread shredded pizza cheese evenly over the top of both pizzas -- almost to the edge.

5.  Sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese on top.

6.  Crush the garlic and put it on the pizzas -- 1-2 cloves per pizza.

7.  Add additional toppings, as desired -- not too thickly layered for veggies, so not watery.

8.  Finally, drizzle with a little additional olive oil and sprinkle with dried oregano, to taste.

9.  Bake in preheated 500 degree oven(s) for about 15 minutes, watching that top does not get too brown, but crust must be cooked though.  2 separate ovens are better, or cook one at a time or if you are doing two pizzas in the same oven, switch top to bottom halfway through and keep a close eye on the top pizza that it does not get too browned.  If the top is getting too browned, you can put a baking sheet between the pizza and the top heating element to help. 

10.  Remove when done, testing with a metal spatula that the crust underneath is cooked through.  Set aside to cool for a few minutes, then cut with a pizza wheel and serve!