Cold Water White Cake

Here’s the recipe Miriam baked for Annie Mae and Adam’s wedding cake. As with most Amish recipes, it’s made with simple everyday ingredients, and the beaten egg whites produce a cake that’s lighter than a cake from a box mix. Using two 9” pans will make a standard two-layer cake, but this amount of batter also fills a 9 x 13” pan or a 2” deep 10” round pan. Don’t wait until someone gets married to try it!

4 egg whites
2 T. baking powder
2 C. sugar
½ C. shortening (Crisco, for instance)
1 C. cold water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 ½ C. flour

Preheat oven to 350º. Cut wax paper to fit the bottoms of two 9” round cake pans. With the paper circles in place, spray the insides of the pans with nonstick coating.

Beat the egg whites with the baking powder until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, cream the sugar with the shortening, then add the cold water, vanilla, flour, and a pinch of salt. Fold in the egg whites.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until cake springs back when touched in the center. Cool the cake layers for 15 minutes in the pans before turning them out onto wire racks. Carefully remove the paper and cool completely before frosting with your favorite frosting (or see the recipe for Buttercream Frosting)

Kitchen Hint: Cupcakes are so popular right now, and this recipe works well for those! Spray a muffin pan, or use cupcake papers. Check for doneness after about 10-12 minutes. This recipe makes a sweet, moist cake that freezes well, whatever form you bake it in.

Peppermint Stick Ice Cream

This refreshing ice cream has to be one of my favorites! For a more colorful dessert, use both red and green starlight mints.

3 C. cold heavy/whipping cream
1 C. cold whole milk
1 C. sugar
¾ C. crushed peppermint candy
1 ½ tsp. peppermint extract

In a large bowl, whisk the cream, milk, and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in the candy and the extract. Pour into the frozen bowl of an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer instructions until mixture is soft-set, about 20 minutes. Pour mixture into a container (a glass bread pan works well), cover, and freeze 2-3 hours until nearly solid.

Kitchen Hint: You can also add a few drops of pink or green food coloring for extra color.

Five-Grain Quick Bread

This has become my favorite go-to recipe for bread that requires no rising. The mix of grains produces a dense, satisfying loaf with a touch of sweetness that complements soups or tastes great toasted for breakfast. Try it with peanut butter and jelly, or spread on some goat cheese or cream cheese!

1 C. 5-grain rolled whole grain cereal (or old fashioned oats)
2 C. whole wheat flour
1 C. all-purpose flour
1/3 C. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
¼ C. firm butter or margarine, chopped
¾ C. golden raisins and/or dried cranberries
1 egg
1 ½ C. buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 375º. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Reserve 1 T. of the cereal. In a large bowl, mix the remaining cereal, the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender (or rub in with tines of a fork) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in dried fruit.

In a small bowl, beat egg and buttermilk with whisk or fork until blended—reserve 1 T. of this mixture. Stir remaining liquids into the dry ingredients until just moistened. On a floured surface, knead dough 5 or 6 times until it holds together. Shape the dough into a 7” disk, place on the cookie sheet, and cut a large X across the top, ¼” deep. Brush the top with the reserved buttermilk mixture, and then sprinkle loaf with the reserved cereal. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool before serving.

Kitchen Hint: I use Bob’s Red Mill Five Grain Rolled Hot Cereal, but using old-fashioned oats won’t change the flavor/texture of the bread a lot. To save some time, I also use my food processor to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.

Another Hint: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can put 3 T. of lemon juice or vinegar into the measuring cup and then add regular milk to the 1 ½ C. mark. Let this thicken
while you’re mixing the dough

Whole-Grain Pancake Mix

Finally, my quest for a really good whole grain pancake mix has ended! The secret to this mix is putting the oats through the food processor so they become like flour, which produces a smooth, silky pancake that’s a lot fresher and tastier than you get from a box mix. Warning: the bulk recipe below makes a LOT of pancake mix. I made half this recipe and got enough mix to fill a gallon zipper bag and make about six of the recipes, below. Once you try this, you’ll understand why Miriam was so tickled to get Nora’s food processor!

Bulk Mix
6 C. old fashioned rolled oats
¾ C. wheat germ
¾ C. brown sugar
9 C. whole wheat flour
3 C. instant skim milk powder
½ C. baking powder
3 tsp. baking soda
4 tsp. salt

With the food processor running, pour in the oats, wheat germ, and brown sugar. Turn off the processor and add the flour, skim milk powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pulse just until blended. Place mixture in a sealed container or zipper-style plastic bag and store in the fridge or freezer.

Whole-Grain Pancakes
2 eggs
2 T. vegetable oil
1 C. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ C. whole-grain pancake mix

Beat the eggs in a medium bowl with oil, milk and vanilla. Stir in 3/4 cup of pancake mix. Let stand 5 minutes. Heat the skillet or griddle on a medium setting, wipe with oil, and use about ¼ C. of the batter for each pancake. Cook until bubbles form on the top, then flip to finish baking. Adjust burner heat to keep cakes from scorching. Keep cakes warm in a 200º oven covered with foil, until all the batter is used up. Makes 9 or 10 five-inch pancakes.

Carrot Ginger Soup

This is truly a soup for all seasons, as you can either serve it as a hot side dish or first course, or chilled as a refreshing light meal on a summer day. Even kids like carrots, so this is a great way to get more servings of healthy veggies into your family’s meals.

2 T. butter
1 small onion, diced
12 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
4 C. vegetable or chicken broth
1 T. or more grated fresh ginger or powdered ginger
1 C. orange juice
Salt, pepper and/or lemon pepper, and dill to taste

In a large pan or Dutch oven, melt butter and sauté the onion and ginger for about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, and sauté for a few minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, and simmer carrots until tender, about 30 minutes. Transfer soup to a blender or food processor in batches, and puree until smooth. Add orange juice and seasonings. Reheat and serve.

Kitchen Hint: this soup keeps well in the fridge for several days, or you can freeze it.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Here’s the perfect dish for entertaining, when you want real mashed potatoes without the last-minute hassle. I love to make these on Saturday so we can enjoy mashed potatoes after we get home from church, usually to go with a roast I’ve put into the Crock Pot.

2 ½ pounds red or Yukon gold potatoes
2 T. butter
¼ C. milk
3 oz. creamed cheese
¾ C. sour cream
Salt, pepper, garlic powder and other seasonings, to taste

Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks. Boil them in salted water until tender and drain. Beat in the remaining ingredients until well mashed, and place this mixture into a sprayed microwavable dish or a 2-qt. casserole. Cool, cover, and refrigerate.

To reheat, cover with a microwave-safe cover and heat on medium setting for about 8 minutes, until steaming hot. Stir and heat a bit longer, if needed. OR, cover the casserole with a lid or foil and reheat in the oven at 350º for about 45 minutes. Serves 6-8.

Kitchen Hint: You can use margarine instead of butter, and you can also replace the sour cream with plain Greek yogurt.

Cheesy Baked Onions

This was a recipe I found stuck in Mom’s cookbook. Part of the enjoyment in making this dish comes from recalling how she loved onions, and part of it is following the recipe written in her distinctive, back-slanted handwriting. Sweet, creamy, and decadently rich, this makes a wonderful side dish for any sort of meat. You can make it the day before and reheat it.

6 medium or 4 large yellow onions
¼ butter or margarine
½ C. beef or chicken broth
½ C. whipping cream
2 T. flour
½ C. grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 C. shredded Swiss cheese

Peel the onions and slice them thick. Sauté them in the butter or margarine until tender, adding water if necessary. Place in a sprayed baking dish. In a separate bowl, stir together the broth, cream, flour, Parmesan cheese, and seasonings until blended. Pour this mixture over the onions and top with the Swiss cheese. Bake uncovered at 350º for about 45 minutes, until the mixture is bubbly. Serves 6-8.

Cornbread Casserole

Here’s the ultimate comfort food, made from ingredients you can keep on your shelf to whip together at a moment’s notice. When I serve this or take it to a potluck, I rarely get any because the bowl’s empty by the time I get it!

1 15 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained
1 15 oz. can creamed corn
1 box (8 oz.) Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 C. sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
½ C. butter, melted
1 egg
Salt, pepper, dill weed to taste
1 ½ C. shredded cheese of your choice, divided

Preheat oven to 350º and spray a 9×9” baking pan or a quart-size baking dish. Mix all ingredients, saving back ½ C. of the cheese. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 45 minutes or until the center is set. Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.

Kitchen Hint: Feeling decadent? Stir crumbled bacon or ham chunks—up to a cup—into the batter.

Pineapple Bread Pudding

We love bread pudding and we love baked pineapple, so when I decided to try blending the two, it was outrageously good, moist and creamy and sweet without a lot of added sugar. It’s great for breakfast, and it’s also a yummy dessert.

5 C. cubed stale bread
2 C. milk, scalded
¼ C. butter or margarine
1 20-oz. can crushed pineapple, undrained
3 T. cornstarch
3 eggs
½ C. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350º and spray/grease a 2-qt. casserole dish. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl. Heat the milk until it’s steamy, melt the butter in it, and then pour this mixture over the bread cubes. Stir. Pour in the pineapple, cornstarch, eggs, sugar, and vanilla and stir until the eggs and sugar are well-blended with the bread mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the center is loosely set. Serves 6.

Kitchen Hint: You can scald the milk in the microwave—takes about a minute, depending upon the wattage of your microwave. You can also reheat leftovers in the microwave by covering them loosely with a wet paper towel to preserve the creaminess.

Sausage, Sweet Peppers, and Onions

Zesty and chockfull of vegetables, this makes a hearty sauce to serve over your favorite pasta, spaghetti squash, or rice. If you use fresh tomatoes, as Miriam does, first dip them in boiling water and peel them, then core, cut them into chunks, and smash them in the pan. Add canned tomato juice if needed, so the other vegetables will have enough liquid as they cook.

1 lb. Italian sausage, links or bulk
2 28-oz. cans of diced tomatoes with juice OR 6-8 large, very ripe fresh tomatoes
1 or 2 large onions, cut into chunks
2 green bell peppers, cut into chunks
Several fresh mushrooms, cleaned and halved
24-oz. can of spaghetti sauce
Liberal amounts of basil, garlic powder, lemon pepper, dill
2-3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
6-oz. can of tomato paste

If you use bulk sausage, brown it in a Dutch oven and drain the excess grease. If you prefer Italian links, boil them in a Dutch oven until nearly done, cool slightly, and then cut them into bite-size chunks. Set meat aside.

Pour the tomatoes, with juice, into this same Dutch oven and add the onion and green peppers. Cover and cook over medium heat until vegetables soften, stirring so the tomatoes don’t scorch. Add the mushrooms and the meat, stirring well. Pour in the spaghetti sauce, then add the bay leaves and the other seasonings—be generous! Lower the heat and simmer, covered, at least a half an hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaves and stir in the tomato paste to thicken the sauce. Serve bubbly hot.

Kitchen Hint: Add any other veggies (chunked zucchini, summer squash, cooked Italian/Roma beans, cooked carrots) and increase the tomatoes and sauce to accommodate them. This recipe also works well in a crockery cooker if you sauté the vegetables before you add them. Like any good sauce, this one tastes best if it’s allowed to sit for several hours (or overnight in the fridge) to allow flavors to blend. Freezes well.

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