Thanks to the right mix of sunny days and gentle rain fall, we had a bumper crop of blueberries in North Georgia this year. That meant lots of plump sweet berries to munch on at the bushes, toss atop a bowl of cereal, whip up in a smoothie, and add to pancake batter.
The freezer is now stocked and a few jars of blueberry jam are put away. And we enjoyed a few tasty blueberry desserts along the way like a rich blueberry-peach Pavlova and healthy blueberry-banana swirl pops.
It’s always good to try something new. This year it was a blueberry skillet custard pie, a rustic dessert baked in a cast iron skillet. It was delicious and really easy to make. Just blend all ingredients except the berries in a blender and pour the batter into a buttered cast iron skillet.
I love the taste of blueberry together with lemon so I added a lemon glaze after baking, but this is optional. The blueberry skillet pie was delicious. Thanks to a bumper crop and a freezer full of blueberries, one will grace my holiday tables this year.
Blueberry Skillet Custard Pie
1 TBS unsalted butter
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions for Blueberry Skillet Custard Pie
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine and blend all ingredients except the blueberries in blender
I will have to say that it was regrettably an unfortunate incident that caused me to come up with this retro recipe for lime Bavarian salad. My mother, an octogenarian, was recently recovering from a short illness and doing quite well. My sister picked her from the hospital to go home on a chilly but sunny winter Saturday and was involved in a pretty serious car crash.
Back to the hospital they went, this time both as patients. A few cracked bones and bruises turned out to be quite devastating for my mother. My sister, although not admitted to the hospital, was quite banged up as well. So I took some time off to go and stay with Mom while Sis recovered.
Retro Salad Recipe
Stirring around in the still unfamiliar kitchen (she moved into a condo a few years ago), I happened upon her old cook book from the local women’s church group. Published in 1979, it contained all sorts of interesting recipes, all neatly typed in old typewriter pica type with the name of the Lady’s Auxiliary member submitting the recipe. They were neatly bound with plastic spirals and colorful dividers for the recipe categories.
During the 1960s and 1970s, congealed salads made with different flavors of gelatin, fruits, cheeses and other ingredients were popular. I am sharing what turned out to be one of my favorite retro recipes, a version of lime Bavarian salad.
There are several different Bavarian salad recipes from potato salads to fruit salads. This fruity jello salad incorporates crushed pineapple and lime jello with mozzarella cheese. Cool Whip and marshmallows add fluff and sweetness, while chopped pecans add crunch.
Try this retro salad for a change of pace from all those regular salads. It will compliment any meal.
1 small can pineapple, crushed and drained
2 cups water
1 small package lime jello
1 cup pecans
1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 large container Cool Whip
Lime Bavarian Salad Instructions
place marshmallow and water in pan. heat until the marshmallows melt.
add directly to the lime gelatin powder in a bowl.
mix well and chill, but not until set.
stir in pecans, cheese and pineapple.
refrigerate several hours or overnight until set .
if desired, garnish with sugared lime slice flowers with cherry centers.
Delicious, authentic Bavarian food reflects regional cooking that developed over centuries. Growing out of the rural areas, the recipes were refined by Bavarian dukes to serve to the royal court.
Trifle is said to have it’s origins in foole, a dessert of fruit puree, sugar, and whipped cream. In 1596 Thomas Dawson of England published a recipe consisting of thick cream, ginger, and rosewater. In later years a milk custard and alcohol-soaked bread were added.
Variations of trifle today include fruit, jellies or gelatin, custard, cream, and port or sherry-soaked cake. They are truly tasty and decorative as well.
Today my friend Annejie (pronounced A nee kee) shares with me her old family recipe for a delightful trifle. Annejie is originally from South Africa. She is of Dutch descent and her cooking is divine. To her family, Christmas without trifle would be an American Thanksgiving without turkey.
The British have influenced the South African culture throughout generations. They took over the Cape from the Dutch in 1795. It was returned to the Dutch seven years later and was seized by the British again in 1866. After the discovery of diamonds and gold in SA, the British fought determinedly in the Boer Wars to retain control. SA remained a Dominion of England until 1931.
Annejie’s dishes often reflect English, Dutch, and Malaysian influences.
Planning The Trifle
Annejie plans her trifle in two-day sessions. On day one, she makes the cakes and prepares the Jello. The next day, she cooks her custard, whips the cream and layers the trifle when the custard has cooled.
South African Christmas Trifle
3 Loaves Sugar Cake, cut into bites, recipe below
4 Packages Lime and cherry Jello, large size
8-10 Cups Custard, favorite recipe or packaged
2-3 Cans Fruit Cocktail, tropical, drain and reserve juice
2 Cups Sherry or port wine
1-2 Cups Malted milk balls, optional
1 Quart Whipping cream, whipped
To prepare for her masterpiece Annejie will bake a “sugar cake”. The sugar cake is surprisingly easy. Annejie prefers this recipe because the cake’s texture and consistency are excellent for soaking up the fruit juices and port in the trifle.
Sugar cake recipe:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
This recipe makes one loaf. Annejie needs a large trifle. She will bake 3 loaves of sugar cake.She begins by beating the eggs and then adds the other ingredients one at a time.She explains that a good mixing machine is important for the fluffiness of the batter.
Annejie bakes the sugar cake loaves in a 350-degree oven. They turn out perfectly as she removes them from the hot pans to cool on a cooling rack.
The cakes are cooling. Annejie prepares the red and green Jello brand gelatin according to package directions. It will take awhile for the Jello to gel. Meanwhile Annejie stores the sugar cake in air-tight containers. They will be cooled off and sponge-like for the trifle building.
Annejie will next make a custard for the trifle layering. This sounds like it is going to be a bit more difficult but Annejie makes hers with ease.
In the UK custard is a medium-thick sauce and is popular for using in desserts. Many times people want to resort to packaged custard because it is easier. But for the best tasting custard Annejie recommends a homemade custard.
Like most good cooks, Annejie measures, tastes and adds as she cooks. There are many custard recipes available if more precise measuring is desired.
Annejie makes her custard with milk, sugar, vanilla and custard powder. She uses almost a gallon of milk.She purchases custard powder, available in the international foods aisle in most supermarkets. She pours almost the whole gallon of milk into a large sauce pan. She heats the milk, adds some vanilla and begins with one and a half cups of sugar. She uses the rest of the milk to stir up with about 7 serving spoons of the custard powder. (To use eggs, use 8-12 beaten egg yolks).
Over medium heat she stirs the mixture constantly until it is a medium-sauce consistency.Annejie pours her custard into casserole dishes to cool.
The fruit is going to be an important part of the trifle.The fruit juice,combined with port or sherry, helps to give the trifle it’s delicious flavor.The sugar cake will be essential to soaking up the liquids. Annejie chooses tropical fruit cocktail for her trifle.
Annejie uses a strainer to drain the fruit juice.She combines the drained fruit cocktail juice with about two cups of port wine. She sets the fruit aside to use in the layering.This trifle is sounding better and better!
Instructions For Christmas Trifle Recipe
Prepare the jello. Cut into cubes when set.
Bake sugar or pound cake in advance. Cool
Make custard using your favorite custard recipe. Cool
Drain fruit and reserve
Add fruit juice to sherry or port.
Cut cake into bite-size pieces
Layer ingredients in a large bowl. Cake, custard, Jello, fruit. Toss in a few malted milk balls if desired
Pour liquid over ingredients. Let soak a few hours.
Before serving, top with whipped cream and sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles.
The layers begin with slices of sugar cake
Cake, custard, Jello and fruit layers. Add the liquid in between. Malted milk balls add a fun surprise.Top it off with whipped creme.
Putting it All Together
All the ingredients prepared, it is time to build the layers of the trifle. Annejie chooses a large glass bowl to make sure everyone can see that it is just as pretty as it is tasty. She begins by placing layers of the sugar cake at the bottom of the bowl. Next goes on some of the custard topped with the red and green jello (which has been cubed).Then she adds some of the tropical fruit cocktail.
Annejie continues to layer the cake, custard, Jello and fruit cocktail. She stops now and again to pour in some of the liquid(fruit juice and port mixture). Often when she makes trifle she will toss in a few malted milk balls here or there for a crunchy surprise but this is optional.
Annejie whips up a quart of real whipping cream to top her creation. Now the traditional Christmas trifle her family loves is ready to adorn the table. It is SO delicious! If you try Annejie’s delightful trifle with ribbons of red and green gelatin, you may just start a family tradition of your own for generations!
Many early childhood programs assign children days for taking turns sharing snacks for snack time by bringing them in from home. One February, we wanted to get really creative and send a snack in to commemorate American Dental Health month.
They are made by slicing red apples, spreading peanut butter on the slices and attaching mini marshmallows as teeth. But alas! We remembered that a note home earlier in the year warned that one child in the class had a peanut allergy. Darn. And it was such a cute idea. But wait! Why not substitute cream cheese for the peanut butter! Better yet we could use strawberry cream cheese to represent pink healthy gums!
The apple smiles snacks turned out great and were a big hit with students and teacher.We are sharing some ideas for good snack sharing in case your child has a classmate with peanut allergy. They are very easy to assemble and children can easily help. The only task the parent should do alone is slicing the apples.
Please read the background information on peanut allergies first.
Incidence of Nut Allergies on the Rise
There appears to be no clear reason for a dramatic increase in peanut allergies in recent years. One theory is that the rise is due to more consumption of dry roasted peanuts rather than boiled. The drying process may alter the peanut protein in some way.
Other Nut Allergies:
Botanically speaking peanuts are actually legumes like beans, however, studies indicate that children who are allergic to peanuts are at increased risk for being allergic to at least one other tree nut (pecans, walnuts almonds, chestnuts, macadamias and more). Most doctors of children with peanut allergies advise parents to eliminate all tree nuts from the home if a child has a peanut allergy.Introducing tree nuts into the home should be managed by the individual’s allergy specialist.
Symptoms and Dangers of Nut Allergies
The medical condition caused by a peanut allergy, anaphylaxis, causes cells in the body to release a massive amount of histamines. Symptoms will include itching, hives, sneezing, coughing and wheezing. Gastronomical distress may also be present. Upon constriction of airways, an extreme drop in blood pressure may occur. Without a shot of adrenaline, death is likely. There have been cases reported where a child ate cookies or other foods with “hidden” peanut products and tragically did not survive.
Parents of peanut-allergic children have real and understandable fear. A study conducted by the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) found that food allergy families suffer greater emotional distress than even those with epilepsy or asthma. This is probably due to food sharing at school, children’s parties and play dates at other’s homes.
Replacing Peanut Butter When Cooking With Kids
Peanut butter is a popular food for cooking with kids. It can be a sort of natural food glue for all those cute creations we like to make. Kids love eating foods that resemble animals or other familiar objects. This is a great motivator to encourage young children to try new foods. Due to the extreme danger of anaphylaxis, we should refrain from using peanut butter or any nut product for food sharing with other children. Try substituting cream cheese for the “food glue” properties of peanut butter in snacks!
Edible Flowers and Ants on a Log
Children can spread cream cheese on a round, whole wheat cracker and press in golden raisins for the “seeds” in the middle of the flower. Use a few thin slices of the apples to form the “petals.” Add a celery stalk “stem.” Be sure to talk about ways to use the apple scraps; eat them, make cooked apples or even use in composting.
Ants on a log are popular and healthy children’s snack. Substitute cream cheese for the usual peanut butter in ants on a log. For a really cool variation use dried cranberries for some of the ants (they can be fire ants) as well as raisins. Cranberries are an antioxidant-rich super food and they taste great with plain cream cheese.
Apple smile snacks will make everyone smile! Be sure to have an adult cut the slices. They should be about one-half to three-quarters of an inch thick. Blot the apple slices well with paper toweling. We found that if they are too moist the cream cheese doesn’t stick well. Add mini-marshmallows and enjoy!
Beautiful autumn color can inspire just about anything, even cupcakes. Celebrate the season with my autumn-inspired cupcakes. Granny Smith apples and spice give these cupcakes the flavor of the season. They smell wonderful while they’re baking and give the kitchen such a warm, homey feeling.
To frost your fall cupcakes, experiment with mixing just the right amounts of yellow, brown, red and orange food colors. (Brown food color is available in most specialty sections of department stores). You can create shades that mimic Mother Nature’s palette.
The acorns? They’re made with Nutter Butter minis, Hersey kisses and butterscotch morsels. Just hold everything together with a tad of creamy, sticky peanut butter.
Bake these and serve with spiced tea at your fall book club meetings, or any fall event. They are the perfect fall cupcake.
Ingredients for Apple Cupcakes
1/3 Cup Butter, melted
3/4 Cup Milk
2 and 1/2 Cups All purpose flour
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tps Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Cups Granny Smith apples, chopped
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Combine eggs, milk. melted butter and vanilla
Mix sugar, flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a separate bowl
Add dry mixture in the liquid ones just until moistened
Fold in the chopped apples
Bake in cupcake liners at 350 degrees for 18 minutes
Fall Leaf Peak Times in the United States
Northernmost parts of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.
Central parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Colorado
Highest elvations of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho
Highest elevations in North Carolina, West Virginia and Maine, Pennsyvania
Far North New Mexico, Cenral Colorado, Western Wyoming,
Eastern Idaho, Westernmost Montana, Northernmost Arizona and Central Utah
Western North & South Carolina, Western Virginia, Maryland & Delaware, Most of Pennsylvania, Western New York, Eastern Connecticut, Far Eastern Massachucettes and Maine,
Central & Southern Minnesota, all of Iowa, Northeastern Kansas, Southern Missouri, South and Central Wisconsin, Eastern North & South Dakota
Eastern Wyoming, Northern Arizona, Western Idaho, Central Oregon, Central Washington, North-Central California, Western Nevada
Northernmost Alabama, Mississippi & Arkansas, North Georgia, Western Virginia , Maryland & Delaware
Northeastern Oklahoma, Central Kansas, Souternmost Indiana
All but the central parts of Oregon& Washington, Lowest elevations of Northern California
Eastern Delaware, Eastern Virginia, North & South Carolina, Central & Southern Georgia & Alabama
Central & Soutern Arkansas, Central Mississippi, most of Oklahoma, Northern Texas, Western Kansas, Eastern Nebraska
Why Do Leaves Change Color?
Leaf coloration in the fall depends on leaf pigment and weather. Longer and cooler nights in the fall spark chemical processes that paint the leaves on deciduous trees brilliant colors in many part of the world. The three types of pigments that effect color are chlorophyll (green), anthocyanins (red) and caretinoids (yellow).
Chlorophyll and caretinoids exist within the leaf all through the growing season. Anthocyanins are present in the fall due to bright light and increased plant cell sugars in the leaf cells. As the length of darkness increases in the fall, the leaf stops making chlorophyll and the other pigments take over.
Leaf color also depends on tree species. Oak leaves turn red or russet. Poplar,hickory and aspen will be golden or yellowish. Sourwood trees and certain maples will be flaming crimson. Dogwoods are a pretty purplish-red.
Weather affects the fall show of colors. The most spectacular shows follow successions of warm, sunny days and nights that are cold but not freezing.
Scenario one: It is a snow day and you and the kids get the urge to make a batch of fresh, hot homemade cookies. You get out your favorite cookie recipes and decide on peanut butter cookies. But alas, you go to check on your ingredients. You are out of eggs, and you can’t get to the market anytime soon.
Scenario two: You love old-fashioned peanut butter cookies, but one of the kids has developed an egg allergy.
Scenario three: You want to make a tasty batch of homemade cookies to take to work, but some of the guys or girls are die-hard vegans.
Best Egg-Free Cookie Recipe
This peanut butter cookie recipe is totally egg-free. Cinnamon and nutmeg added to the peanut butter batter make them even tastier. And if you are looking for a vegan cookie recipe, substitute a nondairy butter substitute for the butter, such as soybean margarine.
Ingredients For Egg-Free Peanut Butter Cinnamon Cookies
1/4 Cup Peanut butter, Creamy
1/4 Cup Brown sugar
1/4 Cup White sugar
1/2 Cup Butter, Or Soy margarine
1 Tsp Vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 Cups Flour
1 Tsp Baking powder
1 Tsp Baking soda
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Nutmeg
Cream softened butter, sugars, and vanilla with mixer
Making biscuit donuts was always lots of fun for a Saturday morning with the kids. We just popped open a can of biscuits, cut out holes with a soda bottle top, and fried holes and rings in oil to a golden turn.
While they were hot, we flavored our biscuit donuts in ways only limited by our imagination. We made a traditional glaze made of powdered sugar and milk, or simply rolled then in powdered sugar or a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Sometimes we got really fancy and frosted our donuts with different flavors and sprinkles.
Healthy Snacks for Kids
With a focus on better nutrition for children, I started experimenting with other creative ways for using refrigerator biscuits. I wanted to invent tasty, nutritious snacks that would be as fun and easy as our traditional biscuit donuts. Kids get a lot of their daily calories through snacking. We need to make sure that those calories aren’t just “empty calories” like cookies and potato chips but instead contain important nutrients.
Our new refrigerator biscuit treats are:
mini biscuit quiches
double crust mini pizzas
spinach-cream cheese puffs
ham and cheese sunrise surprises
mini cinnamon buns
Healthy Snacks Using Spinach
Mini-quiches and spinach-cream cheese puffs are good ways to create snacks that kids will eat using the superfood spinach. Spinach is rich in lots of vitamins and minerals like vitamins K, A, manganese, folate and much more. In fact, it is said to be the world’s healthiest vegetable.
The biscuits are rolled out flat and filled with the ingredients.
Mini Spinach Quiches with Refrigerator Biscuits
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup onion, chopped
Beat eggs and milk.
Fold in spinach, cheese, salt and pepper
Roll biscuits out flat. Sprinkle on a little flour if sticky.
Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.
Press rolled-out biscuits into the muffin tin
Fill biscuits with spinach-egg mixture
Bake in a 375 degree preheated oven
Beat eggs and milk. Fold in other ingredients
Roll biscuits out flat
Spinach-Cream Cheese Puffs
Again, biscuits are rolled out flat for spinach-cream cheese puffs. Then they are filled with the cream cheese mixture,pinched closed and baked.
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup spinach
2 TBS. milk
Roll biscuits out flat
Spray muffin tins with cooking spray
Add biscuits, fill with cream cheese mixture
Pinch flat and bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes
Beat softened cream cheese with spinach and a little milk.
Fill biscuits with mixture; pinch closed and bake.
Ham and Cheese Sunrises
Great for a quick and healthy breakfast! Flattened biscuits are filled with ham and cheese. Fold over and pinch with a fork around the edges to make “sunrises.”
Double Crust Stuffed Pizzas
Double-crust stuffed pizzas can replace milk and cookies or a bowl of sugary cereal for an after-school snack.
Flattened biscuits are spread with tomato sauce, filled with healthy ingredients and topped with another flattened biscuit. We used chopped ham, cheddar cheese and diced Roma tomatoes.
Just as pizza toppings can be quite diverse, so can the stuffings for double-crust pizzas. Make gourmet ones with things like spinach and feta cheese or Canadian bacon and pineapple.
Healthy ingredients can be stuffed into double-crust pizzas
Place ingredients between two flattened biscuits and bake
Fun and Easy Cinnamon Bun Project
Cinnamon puffs are mini-cinnamon buns. They are fun for little hands to make. Brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with a little sugar and cinnamon, they make a sweet treat with a minimal amount of sugar. Cinnamon is good for controlling blood sugar levels.
Making aluminum foil cupcake wrappers is a fun “rainy day ” project. Use them to bake the cinnamon puffs in.
Kids can cut the biscuits into sections with a plastic or butter knife.
Help kids make foil cupcake wrappers
Don’t Forget About the Biscuit Donuts
We love our new, healthier refrigerator biscuit treats. But we will still have our biscuit donuts from time to time because everybody needs a little sweetness in their life.
With school back in session, it’s time once again to look for ways to cut time in the kitchen and still come up with a healthy, tasty dinner. Crock pot meals are great, of course, but the one-pan dinners baked in the oven are also great time savers.
I like them because the veggies retain a flavor and texture of their own.
The key to a tasty one-pan dinner is the marinade. You can whip up the marinade the night before, easily, and marinate your meat in the fridge overnight. But even if you forget to do that, the meat will still be tasty if you marinate it for a half hour or so.
Then all you have to do is chop up the veggies of your choice, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on seasoning and roast them alongside your main dish.
I used asparagus spears, red potatoes, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.
Balsamic Ginger Chicken
The ingredients in my ginger balsamic chicken recipe meld together in a delightful way. Balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, and ginger along with other spices meld together delightfully. This easy dinner can be ready in 45 minutes. 30 minutes to cook, and 10 minutes prep time.
Oh yeah, and the clean-up afterward is a snap. Hence the name one pan dinner!
Ginger Balsamic Chicken Recipe
1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 TBS honey
1 TBS Dijon mustard
1 TBS ginger
1 clove minced garlic
assorted chopped veggies
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Add the chicken
Marinate at least 30 minutes
Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray(I use the olive oil based one)
Place the marinated chicken on one side and the veggies on the other
Drizzle veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings.
Are you looking for a snazzy, quirky new side dish? Roasted cabbage wedges or cabbage “steaks” as they are sometimes called may just be it. Fresh cabbage is sliced into wedges and brushed with olive oil, rubbed with crushed garlic, and sprinkled with Kosher salt and cracked pepper. They are roasted on a cookie sheet in a medium oven.
Roasted cabbage wedges is a very versatile side dish. It will compliment any meal from beans and taters to gourmet cuisine. But the best news is, roasted cabbage wedges are nutritious, inexpensive and delicious.
Eat More Cabbage
Cabbage is a healthy cruciferous veggie like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and greens. There are three varieties: green, red, and savoy. “White” cabbage, common at the supermarket is a very light green cabbage. There are different varieties of Chinese cabbage. In the western world, Napa cabbage prevails. It is also rich in nutrients.
Tasty as roasted garlic wedges are, you get the most health benefits from steamed, sauteed, or raw cabbage. If you are interested in cabbage’s cholesterol-lowering benefits, eat some steamed cabbage at other meals. By steaming, the fiber can bind together better with the bile acids in your digestive tract. This makes it easier for the bile acids to be excreted. It is this process that lowers cholesterol.
All varieties of cabbage contain nutrients called glucosinolates, which have been shown to help prevent human diseases. Red, green, and savoy cabbages contain different patterns of glucosinolates, so for the maximum benefits eat all three. All also have significant amounts of polyphenols and serve as anti-inflammatories.
Not surprisingly, red cabbage has the most dietary benefit. Its rich, red color shows that it is rich in anthocyanin polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory.
If that’s not enough, cabbage is a good source of vitamin C,Manganese and other goodies like fiber.
Ways to Eat Cabbage
As mentioned, the healthiest way to eat cabbage is by steaming it. Raw is next. It also goes through the fiber binding process that steamed cabbage does, making it second best at lowering cholesterol.
Cabbage can be sauteed in healthy oils like olive oil. Try using it along with other veggies in a stir- fry. Then there are cabbage soups and cabbage rolls. Raw cabbage is used in tons of salad recipes, like my delicious broccoli salad recipe. And don’t forget the coleslaw and sauerkraut.
But for now, try roasted cabbage wedges with just about any dish.