Deborah’s Peppermint Brownies

No wonder Noah can’t resist these moist, chocolaty treats with a surprise burst of mint in the middle! This recipe was originally featured as a Christmas cookie recipe, but why wait for the holidays to enjoy them?

1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), melted
3 dups sugar
1 T. vanilla extract
5 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
24 small peppermint patties (1 ½”), unwrapped

Preheat oven to 350º. Spray a 9” x 13” baking pan with nonstick coating. In a large bowl, stir together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time and stir until well blended. Stir in the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Reserve 2 cups of batter.

Spread remaining batter in the prepared pan. Arrange peppermint patties in a single layer over the batter, about ½ inch apart. Carefully spread the reserved batter over the patties. Bake 50-55 minutes, until the center is set. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cut in 4 columns of 9 rows for 36 brownies. Freezes well.

Kitchen Hint: These brownies can be served as is, or you can make a topping of ½ cup powdered sugar, 2 drops peppermint extract, and enough milk to make a liquid glaze. Drizzle over brownies when cool, before cutting.

Amish No-Bake Peanut Bars

This is a go-to recipe in many Plain households. It resembles other no-bake recipes that use crispy rice cereal, except the peanut butter makes the bars a bit looser and more crumbly—and adds some protein! This will be a hit with peanut butter lovers!

1 cup peanut butter
2 cups marshmallow cream
1 stick butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
4 cups Cheerios or other toasted oat ring cereal

Melt the peanut butter, marshmallow crème, butter, and brown sugar, stirring until well blended. Stir in the cereal and peanuts. Press into a greased/sprayed 9” x 13” pan. Cool and cut into squares.

Kitchen Hint: You can melt the sauce either on the stove or in the microwave. I don’t recommend freezing these bars (the cereal will get soggy)—not that you’ll have many left over!

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

This is a quick bread that doesn’t require yeast, so prep time is short and you don’t even need a mixer! As the bread bakes it makes its own cinnamon swirl, and your house will smell heavenly. Might as well double the recipe and make two loaves while you’re at it.

Bread Batter
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 T. butter, melted

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tsp. cream or milk (more, as needed, for drizzle)

Preheat oven to 350º and spray a 9×5” glass loaf pan. To make the batter, combine the egg, milk, vanilla, and yogurt or sour cream in a large bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar and stir everything with a spoon, just until blended. Pour into the prepared loaf pan. To make the swirl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Drop by spoonfuls across the batter and use a knife to swirl it into the bread.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the center tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove bread from pan and cool completely on the rack. Stir the glaze ingredients together and drizzle over the top of the bread.

Kitchen Hint: To save some calories and sugar, I don’t make the glaze. The bread is so moist and pretty with that cinnamon swirl that nobody misses it. Freezes well.

Hummingbird Cake with Banana Glaze

If you love dense, moist, flavorful cakes, this one’s for you! Because it’s chockfull of bananas (I used 5 large bananas, total) you can serve it with a glass of milk and call it breakfast!

3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
2 T. cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup chopped pecans
2 1/2 cups chopped bananas

Banana Glaze:
3 T. butter, softened
1/2 banana, mashed
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350º and grease/spray a 9” x 13” baking pan. In a large bowl, combine the flour, soda, salt, sugar, and cinnamon. With a fork or spoon, stir in the eggs and oil, just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in the vanilla, pineapple, pecans, and bananas. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, until center of cake is firm and a toothpick comes out clean. Gently pierce the cake surface with a fork in several places.

When cake is nearly done, combine the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and mix until smooth. (I was glad I had a hand mixer for this part.) Frost cake while hot from the oven, spreading the glaze that flows toward the edges back onto the center so it will soak in. Cool completely. Freezes well.

Kitchen Hint: When I had chopped the bananas into a measuring cup, I mashed them a bit with a fork so they would incorporate into the batter—totally mashing them would work fine, as well.

Another Hint: If a regular fork is tearing up the hot cake surface, try using a meat fork.

Lemon Shoofly Pie

I confess that shoofly pie is not my favorite—but the lemon in this recipe cuts some of the heavy sweetness of the molasses.

Crumb Topping
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening or softened butter
1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 egg
Juice and zest of 2 lemons (strain out seeds)
2 T. flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
3/4 cup boiling water

1 unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 350º. Combine ingredients for crumb topping until you have an even-textured crumb mixture, and set aside. Stir together all filling ingredients until well blended and pour into the pie shell. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the filling. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until center of pie is set.

Molasses Cookies with Lemon Frosting

These soft, spicy cookies are a hit with young and old alike! Easy to make, easy to eat, and they freeze well.

2 cups sugar
1 cup shortening (such as Crisco)
2 eggs
1 cup molasses
1 tsp. vanilla
6 cups flour
3 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 T cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup raisins

3 cups powdered sugar
4 T. butter, softened
4 T. lemon juice
6 T. milk

Preheat oven to 375º. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and shortening, then add the eggs, molasses, and vanilla and beat well. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger, and add to the sugar mixture alternately with the buttermilk until well combined. Stir in the nuts and raisins. Drop by spoonfuls on the prepared baking sheets about 2” apart. Bake about 8 minutes, until set but not browned. Allow cookies to cool for a few minutes on baking sheet before removing to a wire rack.

Mix the frosting ingredients until smooth. Spread on cooled cookies.

Kitchen Hints: No buttermilk? Place ¼ cup vinegar in the bottom of a 2-cup measuring cup and add regular milk to equal 2 cups. Stir and allow to sit about 10 minutes, until thick. For extra lemon zing, add the grated peel from one lemon to the frosting before spreading.

Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies Ever

These are fabulous cookies, you can make them on the spur of the moment—and they’re gluten free! Might as well double the batch, because these disappear fast.

1 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 cup sugar
Additional sugar

Preheat oven to 350º and prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Stir the first three ingredients with a fork until well blended. Roll dough into balls, roll in additional sugar, and place on the cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork to make a criss-cross design. Bake about 7 minutes or until firm. Makes 6-8 dozen cookies, depending on size.

Deborah’s Best Bread

Here’s a wonderful bread that stands up well to slicing, toasting, or any sort of filling you care to put into a sandwich! Amish women would mix this by hand, but using a mixer makes the dough smoother and easier to handle.

1 cup warm water (110º F)
1 cup warm milk (110º F)
1 1/2 T. yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup olive oil
5 1/2-6 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk + 1 T. water to make egg wash (optional)
1 T. butter, melted

In a large mixing bowl, mix the milk, water, sugar and yeast. Cover for about 5 minutes, allowing yeast to foam. Stir in the salt and olive oil. Using a mixer with a paddle or dough hook, add one cup of flour at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix until all flour is incorporated. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place about an hour or until doubled in size.

Punch down the dough and divide into two equal pieces. Shape into loaves and place in two greased 9 x 5” bread pans. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, or until loaves rise about an inch above the pans. Preheat oven to 350º. With a pastry brush, very carefully brush the tops of the loaves with the egg wash, if using. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from pans and with a pastry brush, lightly brush melted butter over the tops. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Kitchen Hint: I replace about half the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat flour when I make this recipe—and I increase the yeast to 2 T. Makes the bread a bit more dense, but still chewy-good and healthier!

Pizza Meat Loaf

Who wouldn’t love this tasty variation on a favorite comfort food: meat loaf with pizza seasoning and cheese!? It’s become a favorite at our house.

1 1/2 pounds ground meat (hamburger, bulk sausage, or a combination)
8 oz. tomato sauce
¼ cup chopped fresh onion (or more!)
1 egg
3/4 cup quick oats
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 T. total garlic powder, Italian seasonings, basil, oregano
Heaping cup of shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350º. Spray a loaf pan. Combine all ingredients except cheese, and press half the meat mixture into the pan. Sprinkle about 2/3 of the cheese on the meat and then cover with the remaining meat mixture. Bake uncovered for about an hour. Remove from oven and sprinkle with reserved cheese. Allow loaf to sit about 5 minutes before removing from pan to slice it.

Ruby’s Potato Loaf

I was intrigued by the loaf “format” of this potato recipe, and delighted by the results—and the fact that you make it ahead. This makes a yummy side dish for any meat!

3 T. butter
3 T. flour
1 cup half-and-half (or cream)
Salt and pepper to taste
5 medium potatoes, cooked, cooled, and cubed
1 T. parsley
1/4 cup chopped green onions (optional)
1/2 cup (or more!) shredded cheddar cheese

In a large, deep skillet melt butter and gradually stir in flour until blended. Slowly add the half-and-half and simmer until thickened, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Gently add the potatoes, parsley, and green onion, stir to coat with the sauce, and simmer 2 minutes longer. Spoon this mixture into a well-sprayed bread pan and press down firmly. Chill for several hours or overnight.

45 minutes before serving time, preheat oven to 350º. Invert the potato loaf onto an oven-proof pan or serving platter. Bake for 30 minutes, sprinkle with the cheese, and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

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