Category Archives: Favorite Recipes

Mom’s apple cake

6 tablespoons butter
3 big apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 egg

Melt the butter in an 8×8 pan as you preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and egg in a bowl. Add the melted butter. Stir in the chopped apple and walnuts.

Return batter to pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm.


Mrs. Fountain’s pumpkin pie

4 eggs
3/4 cups sugar (half-white, half-brown, packed)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
pinch salt
15 ounces pumpkin puree (2 cups)
1 pie crust

Beat the eggs. Add sugar and beat some more. Add heavy cream.

Combine the cooked squash purée with the egg batter.

Toss the cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a bowl and then add to the pumpkin mixture. Stir some more.

Pour the filling into the pie crust. (You can partially bake crust in advance if you want.)

Bake the pie at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or more (up to about 50 minutes, but don’t over bake). When the center jiggles, it’s done.

Read more about this recipe.

Basic Bread Pudding

2 cups milk (or half & half)
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups bread, cut in cubes

In medium saucepan, over medium heat, heat milk (or half & half) and butter. Let it warm until butter is entirely melted.

Combine sugar, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla extract. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed for 1 minute. Slowly add milk mixture.

Place bread in a lightly greased 1.75- or 2-quart casserole. Pour batter on top of bread.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. Serve warm.

Pennsylvania Dutch Chocolate Pie

This is the last piece left of my friend Erica's Pennsylvania Dutch chocolate pie. I love it.

This is the last piece left of my friend Erica’s Pennsylvania Dutch chocolate pie. I love it.

In general, I try to avoid posting recipes with no pictures because, really, how do you know if you want to eat something if you can’t see it?

This raises a dilemma in regard to our recent pie party. The pies are gone. Eaten. And, I don’t have time right now to bake pies just to photograph them.

At the same time, I want to post several of these recipes before I lose them. The recipe below, for example, I accidentally deleted from my email and had to recover from the trash. Thank goodness, I could because it is delicious.

This is all my way of saying the photography won’t be great over the next few days or week. But, the recipes will.

In this case, I have one sliver of Pennsylvania Dutch chocolate pie still in my refrigerator. I am so looking forward to it. The pie is a simple kind of cake/cookie but it has a luscious layer of rich cocoa just inside the crust that is to die for.

My friend Erica inherited the recipe from her grandmother, and it reminds me of the kind of recipes I inherited from my great-grandmother, who was Pennsylvania Dutch. Those families can bake! I hadn’t encountered this specific recipe before, however, so I am very glad to have it now.

Pennsylvania Dutch Chocolate Pie (also called Funny Cake)

1 1/2 cup white sugar (split into 1/2 cup and 1 cup)

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 1/3 cup of milk (split into 1/3 cup and 1 cup)

3/4 teaspoon vanilla (split into 1/4 teaspoon and 1/2 teaspoon)

1/4 cup margarine

1 egg

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

unbaked pie shell

To make chocolate layer:

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and cocoa powder. Add 1/3 cup milk gradually and stir. Then, stir in 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and set aside.

To make top layer:

Cream together margarine, 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Add egg and blend. Then mix in alternately the flour, baking powder, salt and rest of the milk.

In unbaked pie shell, pour in chocolate layer and spread it around on the sides of shell. Then pour in the top, cake-like layer. Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes (or until knife comes out clean in the middle). Top with whipped cream and shaved chocolate, if you desire.

Chicken paprikash is one of my comfort foods


The last tomatoes in our garden left me wanting to do something special with them.

We had harvested the last of the tomatoes from our garden, and I had eaten all but a few. (Reminder: G. does not eat raw tomatoes. Ever.)

After putting up jars and jars of tomato sauce, I wanted to do something special with those last few fruit because I knew that while I was sick of canning, I would be longing for fresh tomatoes in a few months. I was kicking around recipes and then it just kind of hit me: chicken paprikash.

I love it, and it always makes me think of my longtime best friend, Tara, because the first time I ever had it was during a potluck that we went to together in college. Another potluck participant made it, and I very clearly remember Tara saying how much she liked it and that her mother, too, was Hungarian. Ever since, I can’t think of Hungary without thinking of chicken paprikash.

I’m not sure how Hungarians make it. I make it using a very simple recipe from an old Betty Crocker cookbook. As with all recipes, I’ve modified it slightly to increase the amount of tomatoes and paprika and reduce the amount of onion.

Here is my version:

Chicken Paprikash
3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup water or chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 salt (if you need it)

Heat a frying pan, add the chicken thighs and start to cook them. When partially cooked through, remove the chicken from pan and drain any excess oil. This is a good time to trim any excess fat if you have a good butcher like G. handy.

Put the onion and garlic into the pan and begin to cook it. When the onion starts to soften, add the tomato, paprika, pepper, water (or broth) and chicken back into the pan. Stir the contents so the water and paprika blend and start to form a sauce. Cook until the chicken is done, about 30 minutes. The tomato will usually cook into the sauce and disappear. Stir in the sour cream, and add the salt if you need it.

Sometimes I serve this over mashed potatoes, and sometimes with egg noodles.

My new favorite pie is maple, bourbon and pumpkin

Maple pumpkin pie

This maple bourbon pumpkin pie with a chocolate crust is my new favorite. I could eat the whole thing.

I thought I could never find a pumpkin pie better than Ms. Fountain’s. I was wrong.

The Thanksgiving issue of Bon Appetit arrived a few weeks ago, and I got all excited looking through those glossy pages. So many holiday dishes! So many things to try!

G. had been asking me for a few weeks to make a pumpkin pie, so on the day I cooked a turkey, I also made pie. Actually, I made two pies. I made Ms. Fountain’s pumpkin pie because that has been our favorite. And then I decided to try a new pie from Bon Appetit.
That’s our new favorite.

We had friends over that night (a good thing, or we’d probably each have eaten a whole pie), and everyone said the new pie was “smoother” than Ms. Fountain’s. The pie definitely has a softness in flavor that I suspect comes from exchanging sugar for maple syrup as the sweetener.

I was concerned about using 2 tablespoons of bourbon because neither G. nor I are big drinkers, but there was no heavy alcohol taste.

The kicker for G. (of course) was the chocolate crust. That man loves chocolate! I have to say, though, I loved the crust too. I had some extra dough, and I rolled it out into little circles and baked it by itself. It made a nice shortbread cookie.

The recipe below uses Bon Appetit’s crust verbatim. The filling is a mix of Ms. Fountain’s and the magazine’s. I couldn’t go exactly with the magazine’s directions because it used canned pumpkin, and I had fresh pumpkin puree, which has much more liquid. In summary, I added cornstarch, reduced the heavy cream and eliminated sour cream from Bon Appetit’s recipe.

The pie took over an hour to bake in my oven. I would start watching it at about 45 minutes and look for the center to just solidify before removing the pie from the heat.

Maple and Bourbon Pumpkin Pie with a Chocolate Crust
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar (this is equal to 3 tablespoons and 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons butter, chilled
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 cup ice water

Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, butter and shortening into food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Pour that into a bowl.

Whisk together the egg yolk, vinegar and water. Add that to the flour mixture and knead into a dough. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll it out into a pie crust.

4 eggs
15 ounces pumpkin puree, fresh not canned (2 cups)
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon mace

Beat the eggs. Add the maple syrup, heavy cream and pumpkin. Beat some more.

Add the cornstarch, salt, spices, bourbon and vanilla. Beat some more.

Pour the filling into the pie crust.

Bake the pie at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes, but don’t over bake. When the center jiggles just a bit, it’s done.

Winter squash spice muffins from one of my favorite bakers


These spiced winter squash muffins from Lisa Kivirist’s “Farmstead Chef” are the best I’ve made in a while.

Every once in a while, being a journalist is really cool. About two months ago, I got to interview Lisa Kivirist, who owns an inn in Wisconsin. She was helping lobby for legislation that would allow home cooks and farmers to sell small amounts of baked goods without jumping through the hoops to get a commercial food preparation license.

I got her name from a farm organization, started talking to her and realized that she was THE Lisa Kivirist, who invented my beloved (and G.’s beloved) zucchini cake.

Here’s how much we love that cake: I had just spent a day covering first lady Michelle Obama during her visit to Wisconsin. G. was not impressed. I told him I had talked to Lisa, and he was so excited.

“Did you tell her Jeffrey has made three of them?” he asked.

Jeffrey is G.’s nephew, and a new convert to the zucchini cake brotherhood. I failed to tell Lisa about him. I will rectify that next time.

Anyway, we got talking, and it turns out that Lisa recently published a new cookbook. I bought a copy. (Of course I did; I’m a cookbook addict.)

It took me a while to get around to sending my check, so the book only arrived recently. I dove right in and made Lisa’s winter squash spice muffins, which are one of the most popular things she serves at her bed and breakfast.

G. was in heaven! I made them right before we took off for a dance event, so we’d dance for a few hours, eat a muffin and then go back and dance more. We figured the calories don’t count that way. But even if they did, we’d still eat the muffins. A lot of them.


This is a breakfast that makes G. very happy.

Lisa Kivirist’s Winter Squash Spice Muffins
2 eggs
1 cup winter squash puree (I use fresh pumpkin.)
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Grease 12 standard muffin cups. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine eggs, squash and butter in a big bowl.

Add spices, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar and flour. Stir well.

Fold in chocolate chips.

Fill the muffin cups until they are almost full. Bake the muffins for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.