Saturday, July 28, 2018

Ah-Mazing Amish Pumpkin Bread

Amish Pumpkin Bread

Oh this bread is soooo moist!!!  It's ah-mazing!!!  This is so delicious!!!  Those were some of the glowing compliments I received when I shared this delicious pumpkin bread with co-workers.  I have to laugh because those ladies and I have one big thing in common--we do love our coffee break treats and when someone brings in something to share, it's like bees to the hive--we are all swarming to it.

I have to agree though, this was good, and it it keeps well.  The recipe makes two loaves.  The loaf I kept for myself was still fresh after three days; the one at work was gone the same day so no recommendations from that quarter, grins.

Thankfully pumpkin is available year round so whenever you get a hankering for something a little fallish, perhaps in the full glare of the summer desert sun, this might be the ticket to whisk you there.

AMISH PUMPKIN BREAD (makes 2 loaves)
Original recipe can be found here at

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs, beaten
1 1-lb can canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt (scant)
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
2/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare two 9"x5" baking pans (either spray with baking spray or use shortening and flour)

Mix sugar, oil, and eggs together.  Add pumpkin; then add the dry ingredients, and lastly add the water.  Stir until just mixed.

Divide batter evenly between two pans and bake for 1 hour (checking after 50 minutes) or until center tests clean with a toothpick.  If the outside is baking too fast, take a sheet of aluminum foil and cut a small and fold back a slit in the center of it and place the open slit over the center of the bread; drape the excess foil over the sides of the pan.  This will allow the center to continue to cook and brown but protect the outer edges from becoming too brown and overdone.

Let cool in pan for ten minutes before removing to rack to complete cooling.

COOK'S NOTES:  This business about the cutting a slit in the tin foil, you can see what I mean here
on my banana bread post.

My can of organic pumpkin was only 15 ounces but worked fine.  Does anybody make one pound cans anymore?  I wonder.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Best Chicken Fajitas Ever (Just My Humble Opinion)

Best Chicken Fajitas Ever
I think we all know by now that Mexican food is not the food of my people, but I do gleefully declare that my people love Mexican food, and we love fajitas, and these fajitas in particular. 

I've eaten a good number of fajita at chain restaurant and loved them, but it wasn't until we moved here that I figured out I could make them at home.  Now my first couple of attempts were pretty darned dismal; I kid you not.  No flavor, the vegetables and chicken were soupy or limp, just disagreeable all around.  Sometimes meals are better in restaurants.  Sigh.

But good fortune smiled on me, and I happened to be scrolling around looking at recipe reviews for ideas and I saw they had a fajita recipe that received numerous, numerous positive reviews.  Mmm, okay, I'm skeptical of any recipe calling itself "the best" because the concept of being best is subjective, but I decided to give it a whirl, and after the first bite I knew we had a winner.

I've shown you my fajita without all the fixings, and it definitely should have had a few more veggies for presentation, but regardless, this is deeee-licious.  I've served it to family members who are New Englanders, guests who are life-long Tusconians, and we all agree, these are fabulous.

There's a little marinating time involved, so plan ahead.  The wait will be worth it!  MMM mmm!

 Original recipe from is found here.

1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon season salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2lb chicken, sliced in strips as for fajita

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and marinate for at least 2 hours, stirring as necessary to ensure that the chicken is well marinated.

3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sliced onion
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 c sliced red bell pepper (or a combination of colors)

8 warmed large flour tortillas
1 sliced avocado
Sour Cream
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Quickly saute the onions and peppers in oil on high heat until lightly browned.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Using a slotted spoon, move the chicken strips to the pan and saute, about ten minutes.

Toss in the vegetables to reheat and to allow them to pick up some of the marinade flavors.

Spoon into warmed flour tortillas and top with toppings of your choice,

COOK'S NOTES:   I make the marinade as stated in the recipe but for the fajita portion of the recipe I add mixed colors of peppers, use an entire onion, and omit the green onion (scallions).  Nowadays a lot of our chicken sold in supermarkets seems to be injected with flavorings (to make it juicier they say) but unfortunately it also makes for a lot of juice in the pan when quickly sauteing it.  I dump out the extra juices exuded from the chicken and might add back a couple teaspoons of the marinade to make up for what was lost and diluted.  The idea is that the chicken should be dry (if you know what I mean) and not soupy, which I think is a gross quality in a fajita.

My fajitas were served with refried beans and Mexican rice, which you can see peeking out.  One of these days, if I can get a decent picture of either one, I'll share the recipes.  One of my new friends here, a life-long Tusconian swears I make the best refried beans she's ever eaten.  I don't know about that.  Friends sometimes can be effusive with their compliments, but I will say they are pretty good.  But as I said, that's for another day.  Something to look forward to.  Grins.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Easy Cheesecake

Easy Cheesecake

I'm a fan of easy and I'm a fan of cheesecake, and when you combine the two, you've easily have a winner in my book of life.

There are certain recipe sources that I return to again and again for no-fail recipes that rarely fail to inspire or please, and the good people at King Arthur Flour is one of those.  When I lived in New England and within easy driving distance of their store, I was an occasional shopper of their Norwich, Vermont store and just loved oogling at all their fabulous merchandise and baking supplies.  This isn't an advertisement for them, just rattling on about shopping, I guess.  There were a couple of other really super cookware shops that I frequented in Vermont; it's just this recipe happens to come from KAF, hence why I mention it.

Moving on, this is a very nice cheesecake.  Full disclosure, it's not as good as my all time favorite New York cheesecake, but if you want a simple cheesecake that is simple, simple, simple, creamy smooth, and delicious flavor, I think you won't find many better than this one.  I think it took me longer to haul out the few ingredients and my cooking tools than it did to put this together.

My boyfriend took a tentative taste test and then couldn't stay away from it.  He liked it far more than I did, and I liked it, but as I said, this is very good.

Original recipe found at King Arthur Flour here for additional details and hints.

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about one and a half packages, more or less)
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup melted butter (equivalent of 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)

2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese (at room temperature)
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping of Choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix the crust ingredients together and pour into a 9-inch pie plate.  Press the crust the ingredients up the sides and on the bottom of the pan, making the thicker bottom than the sides.

Cream together the room-temperature cream cheese and the sugar until smooth. Add the eggs and the vanilla and again mix until smooth.  Pour the filling into the waiting crust.

Place the cheesecake in the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes.  Add a crust shield or cover with a "hedge row" of tin foil so the crust won't overbrown.  Bake for an additional ten minutes.  The center will look slightly wobbly but it will be done.

Remove from the oven and let cool and set it on a rack to cool.  Make topping.  Cover pie and refrigerate.  Best after several hours to allow the flavors to meld.


12 ounce bag frozen, unsweetened raspberries (about 12 ounces) divided
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon butter

Stir together 1 1/2 cups of raspberries, sugar and water in a saucepan.  Stirring frequently heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is boiling.

Reduce the heat and stir in the vanilla.

In a small cup combine the cornstarch and water, mixing well.

While stirring the raspberry mixture, slowly add the cornstarch slurry so it doesn't clump.  Continue stirring and cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens and looses its cloudy appearance and looks clear, about 4 minutes.

Remove from heat.  Add the butter and mix until the butter has been incompletely incorporated.

Allow the mixture to cool for 15 minutes, then add the remaining berries and stir to mix.

COOK'S NOTES:  This cheesecake was definitely better the second day, so I would suggest several hours of cooling at least, or maybe overnight.  But if you're in a hurry and need dessert right away, no judgment from me if you cut into it after only a couple of hours, grins.

When I made the raspberry sauce, I totally did not see that the raspberries were divided and just dumped the whole bag into the saucepan at the beginning and cooked them.  Worked fine for me, though whole raspberries might have made a prettier presentation.  I found that the sauce was not thick enough for me, so I made another little batch of the slurry (the 2 teaspoons of water and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch) and added that.  Much more to my liking.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Cottage Pudding with Warm Lemon Sauce

Cottage Pudding with Warm Lemon Sauce

There are certain recipes that have stood the test of time and taste that reside firmly planted in my heart. Most of those foods I relate to my beloved grandmother, whose humility and simplicity and generosity of heart  left an indelible picture of how a life of gratitude should be lived.  It was she whom I wanted to model myself after. Sadly, I've missed the mark by a mile but I'm still working on it.

The one thing I can do is make some of her recipes, which I do several times a year and it gives me time to reflect on our times together, standing in the kitchen of her tiny two-room house that was filled with so much love that it should've burst open like the wild, fragrant roses she kept in her garden.  I can still see her in a tired old bib apron that she would never toss out because it "still had some life in it" and saving her other aprons for Sunday best when we'd go to her house for dinner.

One of the first desserts I ever learned to make was cottage pudding with warm lemon sauce.  My grandmother had a Rumford Baking Powder cookbook, published in the early 1900's, and I think it was one of the two or three that she ever owned in her entire life.  I have it tucked away somewhere; the pages are yellow and crumbling, and it has to be handled ever so gently but this recipe was among them.  Even as a child I loved lemon, and that warm lemon sauce over the simplest of cakes was a glimpse into heaven, I think.  This particular recipe I found on the internet but it's as good as I remember.

Not sure why this is called cottage pudding.  I would serve it in a cottage; I would serve it in a palace.


1/4 cup butter (one half stick butter)
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (I reduced to 1/4 teaspoon because I use salted butter)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk


1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt (about 1/8th teaspoon)
1 cup water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
1 tablespoon butter

Grease and flour and 8" x 8" baking pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cream butter in mixing bowl.  Gradually add sugar, mixing well.  Add egg, beat well.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add as thirds, alternating with half the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, mixing in between.  Add the vanilla, mix.

Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes or until toothpick tests clean.  Allow to cook in pan for ten minutes.  Remove from pan and allow to cool completely. Cut into 8 rectangles, 2" x 4" in size.

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan and whisk to combine ingredients. Gradually add the water and lemon juice and whisk until smooth.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, translucent.  Add butter and stir.  Use warm over cake.

COOK'S NOTES:  Cake keeps well for a couple of days and on its own it seems to be typically on the drier side; you definitely need the lemon sauce.  Lemon sauce seems to be best on the day it's made.  It will reheat but it's not really at its optimum.