Monthly Archives: June 2014

Cherry Jam and Cherry Pudding

Cherry Jam and Cherry Pudding

The weekend was a continuation of cherry jubilation. With the help of my assistant daughters I made cherry jam and an old family favorite, Cherry Pudding.

I had never made jam or jelly before. I know my parents had made some jellies when I was young, but I don’t recall being a part of it. The Hubs made apricot and cherry jam last summer. The apricot was amazing, but the cherry did not set, or jell. I have used it as a glaze or marinade for pork all year!

The girls pitted the remainder of the cherries we had picked last weekend. I measured out the 4 cups of cherries called for in the jam recipe and was astonished at how many cherries were left! In fact, after making the jam and the pudding and sharing a cup of cherries with my mother to make her own pudding, I still have quite a large amount of cherries.

Since I had never made jam before I used a recipe from the Sure-Jell pectin website. I’m glad I did. It turned out great! The only adaptation I made to the recipe was I decreased the amount of sugar it called for by 1 cup. It is plenty sweet.

Fresh Cherry Jam

  • 4 cups fresh pitted cherries
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 box Sure-Jell Fruit pectin
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract, optional

Bring boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour water not quite but just prior to boiling over flat lids in a saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain jars well before filling. Chop washed, stemmed, and pitted cherries. (I used my food processor and chopped some fine and some a little more coarse) Measure exactly 4 cups of the prepared cherries into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot. Stir in lemon juice.Stir pectin into fruit mixture in saucepot. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar and extract. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat; skim off any foam with metal spoon.Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

The other success of my first jam making experience is that it was also my first ‘canning’ experience without assistance of a more experienced person. I’m thrilled to announce that all four pints of my jam sealed.

This recipe is one that my mother has been making as long as I can remember. I didn’t check the copyright date in the little book that it came from, but I did snap a pic of the cover. It’s called “The Way to a Man’s Heart” it and it was put out by the Gas Service Company. Oh!Gas Service Cookbook

As I was putting this together with my assistants I had to explain that this was not the type of pudding they were used to. I reminded them about the pudding we had tried on our trip to Ireland, which was nothing like the puddings they were used to, and then quickly explained that this was not Black or White pudding and there was NO blood in this pudding. Except cherry blood. After I pulled the finished product out of the oven it was all I could do to keep their little fingers out of it. I didn’t want them to burn their fingers in the molten hot cherry goodness! We let it cool and then served with some vanilla bean ice cream. I think they were glad they waited! I had to keep their fingers out of it the rest of the day.

Cherry Pudding

  • 2 cups liquid (cherry juice and water)
  • 1 cup canned cherries (I used fresh)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons butter

Combine ingredients and cook 10-15 minutes. (I should have cooked a little longer than 15, since my cherries were fresh.)

Pudding Foundation

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a casserole dish. Cream butter and add sugar gradually and mix until creamy. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together 3 times and add alternately with milk. Pour Pudding Foundation into greased pan and pour cherry syrup mixture over the top. Bake 30-35 minutes, until top is golden brown and set.

Cherry Pudding

As I said, this recipe was as big of a hit with my girls as it has always been with me. Daughter Number Two even liked it, and she is not a fan of cherries.

Stay tuned to see what other great things we make with the remainder of our fresh cherries during this summer’s Cherry Jubilation!


Posted by on June 30, 2014 in recipe


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Fresh Cherry Pie

Fresh Cherry Pie

After making the brown sugar cakes from the first picking of cherries this year I did a second picking and we froze a couple of freezer bags full of pitted cherries.

I also wanted to make a cherry pie. The cherry tree is my dad’s and he had not had the tree long enough to get cherries when he had his stroke. This is the second summer of harvestable cherries. That’s just some backstory to why I wanted to make a cherry pie. Cherry pie is my dad’s favorite. I wanted to take some into the facility he lives in so he could eat it.

My mother didn’t have ‘a recipe’ for cherry pie that she always used so I went to the ‘net. I found a cherry pie filling that seemed easy and got to it. The recipe below is from

Cherry Pie

  • 4 cups fresh tart cherries
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Pie Dough for a 2 crust pie
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons butter, to dot
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar, to sprinkle

Place cherries in medium saucepan and place over heat. Cover. After the cherries lose considerable juice, which may take a few minutes, remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch together. Pour this mixture into the hot cherries and mix well. Add the almond extract, if desired, and mix. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool. If the filling is too thick, add a little water, too thin, add a little more cornstarch. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use your favorite pie dough recipe. Prepare your crust. Divide in half. Roll out each piece large enough to fit into an 8 to 9-inch pan. Pour cooled cherry mixture into the crust. Dot with butter. Moisten edge of bottom crust. Place top crust on and flute the edge of the pie. Make a slit in the middle of the crust for steam to escape. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.

I had, of course, enlisted the help of my daughters (and attempted to enlist a nephew) in the picking and pitting process. They were less enthusiastic about helping me make the filling after all of the pitting, so I did the rest mostly on my own.

The results were outstanding! I could have just eaten the pie filling without the crust it was wonderful. I do think I will cut the sugar by a little bit the next time, as the 1 ½ cups seemed a little too sweet. The daughters loved the pie, my co-workers loved the pie (and one of them doesn’t like pie), and most importantly my dad loved the pie. He ate every bit of the extra large slice I took him. That’s what it was all about it, seeing him enjoy the cherries from the tree he had planted and knowing that this was his favorite! I’m also delighted that no one judged my pie by its cover. Not the prettiest crust I’ve ever made.

This recipe is definitely a keeper for next summer when it’s time to pick cherries! If you have some cherries that you want to find whip into a pie, this is a great way to use them.


Posted by on June 27, 2014 in recipe


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There’s a Leek on my Plate!

There’s a Leek on my Plate!

As a mother of four, I can tell you that I know a thing or two about leaks. I know about leaky diapers. I know about leaky bladders. I know about leaky plumbing in my house. I even know about leaky roofs. However, I did not know about leeky leeks.

I was the lucky recipient of some leeks after Brother Number One took a trip to the Farmer’s Market a couple of weekends ago. He offered me some leeks and being curious, I took them. When I told Daughter Number One about them, she said the only thing she knew about leeks she learned from Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Two. Apparently there is a scene where someone announces “There’s a leek in the boat”. It was much funnier after I explained to her what a leek is.

I sat down and learned as much about leeks as I could from the piece of paper that my brother had picked up from the vendor, and online. I learned that leeks are dirty and need to be thoroughly washed. I learned that the darker parts are not to be eaten, but can be used to make stock. I learned that there is a specific way to cut them to clean and cook. Armed with that information I set out to use my leeks.

The first thing I did with some of the leeks was to use them on homemade pizza. The Hubs wanted to grill some, but not all of the pizzas I made for Father’s Day dinner. I’m so glad he did, because the first one we made was cream cheese, hamburger and leek. He got the first slice. He was thrilled to announce that it tasted like a Burger King Whopper. I had to try a bite myself. Sure enough the pizza did taste like a Whopper. I had it my way! I used the leeks on a number of other flavor combinations that evening, including a cream cheese, crab, and leek pizza. Wowza. That was another winner. I baked that one in the oven. I wasn’t sure I would like the grilled taste on the crab.

The next night I made meatloaf for dinner with baked potatoes. Isn’t that the standard? I wanted to use the leeks in a way that they were the centerpiece of a dish. I found a Steamed Leek with Vinaigrette recipe that sounded good to me. I whipped up the recipe, plated the dinner, and waited for reactions to the leek dish. Daughter Number Four said she just loved it! She finished her entire serving. Daughters Two and Three opted out. Flat. The Hubs asked how he should cut and eat his, so I showed him by example. He cut a little bite and put it in his mouth expectantly. The look on his face was not nearly as happy as the one I had seen moments earlier on D4’s. “This is an onion!” he exclaimed with his mouth still full of half chewed leek. I tried to explain that it was in the onion family, but not an onion. He removed the rest of the leek from his mouth. Apparently he was expecting a fresher, brighter flavor and certainly not expecting it to taste like an onion. He got an even bigger surprise when he discovered that the capers I had used in the vinaigrette were not (as he believed) shriveled up peas. The girls and I laughed and laughed as he drank water and mumbled something about peas and onions. He finished the meatloaf and potato and slid the rest of his leeks onto D4’s plate.

I loved the leeks in vinaigrette and definitely plan on making them again. This time The Hubs will know what it is, so he won’t be surprised (or put any on his plate).

Steamed Leeks with Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons capers, drained
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 8 Leeks, white and light green part only, washed and trimmed

Bring 2 quarts water to boil over medium-high heat in stock pot or large pan with a steamer basket insert. In a small bowl, mix together vinegar, salt, mustard, and oil with a small whisk or fork until combined well. Gently stir in capers. Set aside. When water is at a rolling boil add leeks to steamer pan and steam for about 10 minutes until tender. Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and lay on a platter or serving plate and cover with vinaigrette while hot. Serve warm.

Again, I thought this was a great leek dish and will definitely make it again. If you have not tried leeks before you might want to start with something not quite as ‘leeky’! Use them in a soup, in a casserole or other dish, or on a pizza or tart.

I’m looking forward to getting leeky more frequently now.

Leek Preparation Information:

Wash under water to remove visible dirt. Cut off the roots of the leeks. Slice leeks lengthwise. The white and light green parts are the mildest, the darker green parts are stronger and slightly bitter. The darker parts are best used in making stock. Make crosswise cuts along the leek that you intend to use. Place the chopped leeks in a bowl filled with cold water. Using your hands, agitate the leeks to dislodge dirt or sand. Use a slotted spoon to remove the leeks. Discard the water and repeat until the leeks are clean.


Posted by on June 24, 2014 in recipe


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Brown Sugar Cakes with Cherries

Brown Sugar Cakes with Cherries

It’s cherry season again. Daughter Number One came home for a few days visit. She was so excited when I told her that my parents’ cherry tree was loaded that we went right down and started picking cherries. We got a nice first little picking. We took the cherries from my parents’ house back to mine and got to pitting. In all of our excitement we hadn’t even thought about what we were going to make. I I perused the web and found a recipe that sounded simple and delicious! It was a huge hit with everyone! We will definitely be making these again!


Brown Sugar Cakes with Cherries (adapted from Martha Stewart)

  • ½ cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons dry milk reconstituted in 2 Tablespoons water
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 60 cherries
  • 2 Tablespoons Turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin. In a small bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. With a mixer cream the shortening and brown sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Scrape sides of bowl. Beat in milk and vanilla, then flour mixture. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling cups about 1/3 full. Place 5 cherries on top of each cake and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar. Bake until cakes are golden brown and a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Let cook 5 minutes in tin. Use a rubber spatula to run around the edge of each cake to loosen. Release cakes onto a wire rack, cherry side up. Cool slightly and serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

If you have a few fresh cherries, this is such a great way to use them! These orts are going to make it back onto our table very soon! I think Daughter Number One will make some at her house very soon, too. She took some fresh cherries home when she left!



Posted by on June 22, 2014 in recipe


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Espresso Cream Cheese Cake (Tiramisu Cake)

Espresso Cream Cheese Cake (Tiramisu Cake)

Friday or Saturday of last week I asked The Hubs what he wanted me to make him to eat for Father’s Day. His reply was short and sweet “Tiramisu”.

That sounds simple enough. In theory, it is simple. In reality – I live in a rural Kansas town of 1100 people and one little local grocery store which carries neither Lady Fingers nor Mascarpone.  I drove into the nearest ‘big town’ to look for the ingredients. This is not the first time I have hunted for the ingredients. I could not find them on this journey. Now what? Punt.

I decided that I would make a cake that would mimic the flavors of Tiramisu. I spent hours searching recipes until I found several recipes that I thought would work. I decided to make an Espresso flavored chiffon cake, cream cheese filling, and Espresso Buttercream Frosting. The end result was nothing short of rich and delicious. Wowza!

Here are the recipes that I used to create this decadent dessert for my dear husband for Father’s Day 2014.

Espresso Chiffon Cake

  • 1/4 cup canola oil 6 eggs, separated
  • 6 tablespoons freshly brewed espresso, room temperature (or instant, reconstituted)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 round cake pans.

In a medium bowl, combine the oil, egg yolks, espresso and vanilla; whisk lightly to blend. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, 1 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, and salt. Set the dry ingredients aside.

In a large mixer bowl with an electric mixture, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium-low speed until frothy. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and gradually add the remaining half cup of sugar. Continue to beat until soft peaks form; do not whip until stiff or the cake will shirk excessively upon cooling.

Add the espresso-egg yolk mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together just enough to combine. Add one-fourth of the beaten egg whites and fold them in to lighten the batter. Fold in the remainder of the whites just until no streaks remain. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans. To ensure that my cakes were even, I poured the batter into a large measuring cup and poured into the pans.

Bake the cakes for about 18 minutes each, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the pans. When cooled, run a blunt knife or rubber spatula around the edge of the pans to release the cakes. Invert onto wire racks.

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add sugar until incorporated and smooth. Add vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Espresso Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoon instant Espresso powder

Mix the Espresso powder into the vanilla until dissolved. Set aside. Using an electric mixer cream the butter on medium high for about 5 minutes, until creamy. Reduce the speed of the mixer and add in the sugar, gradually, mixing well between additions. Once the powdered sugar has been added and thoroughly incorporated into the butter increase the speed to medium high and beat for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla – espresso mixture and continue beating at medium high until blended. Scrape the bowl as necessary.

To assemble, lay one layer of the cake on cake plate. Spread one half of the cream cheese filling evenly over the cake, almost to the edges. If your cakes are slightly uneven the filling can be spread more thickly or thinly to even out the appearance of the cakes. Lay the second cake on the filling, and spread the remaining cream cheese filling over the cake. Lay the third cake on top of the filling and frost the top and sides of the cake with the Espresso Buttercream.

This recipe made extra frosting, so we were able to frost an entire batch of cupcakes, too!

This was a fun cake to make and the whole family loved it! This is a great cake and filling recipe if you have never baked layer cakes or used filling (as opposed to frosting) between layers.


Posted by on June 17, 2014 in recipe


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National Donut Day 2014 ~ and a Happy Birthday!

National Donut Day 2014 ~ and a Happy Birthday!

Today is a double good day! First, it is Daughter Number 2’s 19th birthday! Happy Birthday! Second, it is National Donut Day. She texted me the other day, “Coincidence? I think not.”

Morgan Donut Day

She had wanted to go on a ‘donut run’ at 12:01, but anyone who knows me knows that I am always asleep well before midnight! I don’t like disappointing my girls, but know my limitations.

I did get up this morning and MAKE donuts. I had thought about making risen donuts or filled donuts. In the interest of time and health I decided to make cake donuts. They were mixed, baked, and glazed in about 30 minutes!  I had some extra batter after filling my donut pan, so used my mini muffin pan to make ‘donut holes’. All of the mornings baking adventures were a big success!

baked donuts

Baked Cake Donuts

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup nonfat powdered milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon honey, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a donut pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a 2 cup measuring combine dry milk, water, and vinegar. Let sit. Whisk eggs in a small bowl. Add milk mixture to the egg mixture and combine. Add the butter to the 2 cup measuring cup and heat slowly in the microwave until soft. Add honey and microwave for a few seconds until the butter and honey are liquid. Add to the egg, milk mixture and combine. Add vanilla and stir to combine. Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture and stir gently until just combined. Using a measuring cup or spoon, fill the wells of the donut pan about 2/3 full. Tap the pan gently on the counter to get rid of bubbles. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, or until donuts spring back when touched. Remove pan to wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes. Turn donuts out to cool for a few more minutes, and then dip in glaze, if desired.


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 -4 Tablespoons Evaporated Milk

Combine milk and sugar slowly, whisking until smooth. If you desire a thicker glaze use less milk. For a thinner glaze use more milk.

Place a baking sheet under the cooling rack. Dip the donuts in the glaze and let the glaze drip off.

donut holes

For the donut holes, I baked them in the muffin pan, rolled them in the glaze, and then rolled them in a mixture of cinnamon/sugar. Oh, these were sooooo good!

If you are craving donuts I definitely recommend these. They are good and oh, so fast!

Happy National Donut Day!



Posted by on June 6, 2014 in recipe


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Guest Blogger – Egglplant Parmesan

Guest Blogger – Egglplant Parmesan

When I received the phone call from Daughter Number One that you will read about below, I did give one small condition: she would have to write about her experience. She came through with glowing colors. I hope you enjoy one of HER experiences with cooking as much as I did…


Last Thursday, after a great morning workout, I decided to head to the grocery store to stock my refrigerator with healthy foods. While walking through the produce department I saw the eggplant and remembered a delicious meal my mom made often when I lived at home, eggplant parmesan. I immediately called mom and asked her for the recipe. She explained that the original recipe was meant to be fried and that isn’t exactly healthy, so she adjusted the recipe to be healthier. It was a quick and easy meal to make. Not knowing if The Boyfriend was keen on eggplant, I decided to keep dinner a secret. He didn’t ask me a single question during the meal and finally I broke down and told him it was eggplant. His reply was that he already knew because he had snuck a peek into the fridge earlier and that he loves eggplant. Surprise! He also said it was a meal to make again soon!

Eggplant Parmesan

  • 1 eggplant, sliced
  • 4 egg whites, beaten
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese

Heat your oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Separate the eggs into a small bowl, and whisk the whites. Discard the yolks. In a medium bowl combine bread crumbs and Italian. In a separate bowl, pour both cans of tomato sauce and mix in garlic powder and set aside. Slice the eggplant into fairly thin slices, you don’t want them too thick or they won’t bake properly. Dip each slice in the egg whites, then into the bread crumbs. Make sure to get both sides of the slices coated thoroughly in the bread crumb mixture. After breading the eggplant, place each slice onto the baking sheet in neat rows. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at for 10 minutes, turn and then place them back in the oven for about 5 minutes longer. When the eggplant is crisp, remove it from the oven. Sprinkle each eggplant slice with mozzarella cheese and cover with a spoonful of the tomato sauce mixture. Sprinkle a small amount of parmesan cheese over the top of the sauce. Return the baking sheet into the oven for about 3 minutes to melt the cheese. Cool for about 5 minutes and serve.

I served the eggplant parmesan with a side of tortellini and used the remainder of the red sauce mixture over the top.

It was great to have a break from the writing this past week, and I love that Daughter Number One is starting to cook more, and that she is trying to make it healthy!



Posted by on June 4, 2014 in recipe