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In the 1980s-90s, my husband and I lived in a rural area called Blue Jay, located on the Ohio/Indiana border.  My husband had a huge garden and every kind of berry bush and fruit tree that does well in our area.  My favorites were the black raspberries and we got bumper crops year after year.  I used them in every conceivable way, but regret that I found this recipe after we had to leave our country home and all the wonderful berries.  It’s a quick, easy way to turn 1-½ cups of fresh raspberries into a delicious dessert with a little cake and lots of berries.

Butter is melted in the oven in a 9-inch pie plate.  Then cake batter is poured over the butter (no stirring) and berries are scattered on top along with a sprinkling of sugar.  The cake rises up over the berries to form a thin layer and is delicious warm from the oven or at room temperature.

Raspberry Mountain


¼ cup butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Dash of salt
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¾ tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp. milk
1-½ cups fresh raspberries
Additional 1-1/2 Tblsp. granulated sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and melt butter in 9-inch pie plate   Heat until butter is melted but not brown.

Meanwhile, mix flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, salt and baking powder in bowl.

Stir in milk.  Pour this batter over the melted butter – DO NOT STIR.

Drop berries over top, scattering evenly over surface.  DO NOT STIR.

Sprinkle 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar on top and bake for 30 minutes @ 350 F degrees.

The butter and batter rise to make a thin top crust that is buttery, sugary and crunchy at the edges.

Delicious plain or with a bit of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 

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I saw a recipe online for bell peppers stuffed with rice, ground chicken and an interesting blend of vegetables which sounded good, but I thought my family would like it better in casserole-form.  I used chopped bell peppers along with chicken breast rather than ground chicken and substituted orzo for rice to make a very flavorful and satisfying meal.  I used my favorite mixture of oregano and chili powder to give the dish a little kick and it was voted a winner by the family.  I assembled the dish a day ahead of time and baked it for Sunday dinner.  We had enough for everyone to have an extra serving for supper during the week.  This dish would also freeze well.

Chicken, Spinach, Artichoke and Orzo Casserole

1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
½ cup onion, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
15 oz. can of tomato sauce
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess water
15 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and coarsely chopped
1 cup orzo cooked al dente according to package directions
½ chicken breast, cooked and shredded
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Oiled 9×13 baking dish

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and cook bell pepper and onion until soft but not brown.  Add minced garlic, oregano, chili powder, salt, and black pepper.  Stir in tomato sauce, thawed spinach, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes.  Add cooked orzo and shredded chicken breast.  Spoon mixture into oiled 9×13 baking dish.  Dish can be covered and refrigerated at this point and baked later.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place covered casserole in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until mixture begins to bubble.  Remove cover and sprinkle with crumbled Feta cheese.  Bake for 10 minutes more.  Serve hot.

6-8 generous servings


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I found this recipe over 10 years ago online (sorry, I don’t remember the source) and adapted it to make a nice, light luncheon or supper dish.  I would prefer fresh peaches, but canned ones also work fine and give a little pep to this low fat, low cal meal.

Tipsy Chicken with Peaches

3 medium chicken breasts, cut into cubes
Salt/Pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
Large onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. smoked paprika
6 green onions with tops, chopped
¼ cup orange juice
2 Tblsp. Bourbon
1 cup sliced peaches
Grating of fresh nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Spray a 9 inch casserole dish

Place chicken cubes in prepared casserole and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil and cook onions over medium heat about 5 minutes.  Add paprika and chopped green onions.  Cook an additional 4 minutes.

Spread onion mixture over chicken; spoon orange juice and bourbon over the top and bake uncovered for @ 400 degrees F for 30 minutes, turning and stirring occasionally.

Remove chicken from oven and spoon peaches over the top.  Grate nutmeg lightly over peaches and return to oven to bake for 15-20 minutes more until chicken is done.

Serve over hot rice.

Diet Power:  ¼ of casserole with ½ cup rice =  278 calories, 3.7 g fat, 37.7 g carbohydrate, 1.99 g dietary fiber, 24.2 g protein. 

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This is an adaptation of a recipe I found in 2015 on a wonderful site called Natasha’s Palace.  It’s worth a visit there to see all of the great and unusual recipes she has.  The original recipe is here:

https://nataschaspalace.co/2015/05/28/pear-goat-cheese-and-cured-ham-pasta/

My daughters and I love this dish, especially if I can use some flavorful Honey Baked Ham leftovers.

Ham, Pear and Goat Cheese Pasta

¾ cup bowtie pasta
1 Tblsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 Tblsp. garlic, minced
2 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced
One cup chopped cooked ham
1 tsp. oregano
Salt/Pepper to taste
1 Tblsp. butter
4 oz. goat cheese

Cook pasta in boiling, salted water to al dente, drain

In a saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion slices, sprinkle with salt/pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes until onions are translucent but not brown.

Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Add pear slices and ham and cook until heated.  Stir in oregano and salt/pepper to taste.  Stir in butter and drained pasta.  Add goat cheese in small lumps and stir gently until cheese has melted.

Serve hot.

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I adapted this recipe from one on epicurious.com several years ago and it has become a family favorite.  The shortbread would be great just by itself, but teamed with a layer of apricot and walnut filling plus a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar, it is simply delicious.  It’s easy to make with no mixer required.

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Shortbread and Apricot Bars

  • Servings: 8 to 12 bars
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Shortbread
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
½ cup chilled butter cut into small cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a 9×9 inch baking pan, place the flour, sugar and salt, stirring with a fork to mix.  Add the butter and with your finger press the butter into the dry ingredients and then spread the dough in the pan, pressing down to flatten and smooth it out.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes until top is light brown.  Remove from oven and set on rack.

Make Filling
2/3 cup dried apricot halves (about 4 oz.) coarsely chopped  – place in small pan, cover with water and boil until soft – about 4 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

2 large eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp vanilla
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup chopped walnuts

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs, whisk in the brown sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla.  Stir in the flour, walnuts and apricots.  Pour this mixture on top of the baked shortbread.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 35 minutes until top is puffy and dark brown.  Cool on a rack for 10 minutes.  Cut into portions and lift onto a rack that has been placed on top of a baking sheet.  Allow to cool thoroughly.  Note:  I cut mine into 8 portions which turned out to be large servings of a rich dessert.  Cutting the shortbread into 12 squares might be better.

Topping
¼ to ½ cup confectioners’ sugar

After cookies are cool, spoon confectioners’ sugar into a fine strainer and lightly sift over the bars.
Makes 8 large bars or 12 squares 

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I started making these breadsticks in 1992, adapted from a recipe in my favorite bread cookbook, Clayton’s Book of Breads.  Be sure to use a good sharp, full-flavored cheese.

Italian Cheese Breadsticks

  • Servings: One to two dozen, depending on size
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2 Tblsp. Fast acting yeast
2 tsp salt
2 Tblsp. granulated sugar
4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1-1/2 cups water, heated to 130 degrees F
¼ cup canola oil
1-1/2 cups good flavored cheese, grated

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, place yeast, salt, sugar and 2 cups of flour.

Heat water to 130 degrees F, add cheese and stir to melt, reheat mixture to 130 degrees F.

Pour water/cheese mixture into bowl with flour mixture, add oil.  Beat on medium speed with a paddle beater for 3 minutes.  Remove the paddle beater and insert a dough hook.  Continue to beat at medium speed, adding flour gradually for 6-½ minutes.  You may not need all of the flour.

Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Punch down dough and using ¼ cup of dough, form into a cigar-shaped roll 5 inches long.  Place on a greased baking pan 3 inches apart.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake breadsticks for approximately 12 minutes until they are golden brown.  Remove to a rack to cool.

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At Christmas time, I found  Hershey’s Sea Salt Caramel Chips which were new to me and put them aside while I was baking my standard Christmas favorites.  My daughter and I were going to attend an Appalachian “Ringin’ in the New Year” event and something was needed for potluck dinner.  There never seem to be enough cookies for children at these dinners, so I thought I would try out the new chips.

chips

There was a recipe on the package which may be very good but it was for a chocolate cookie and I wanted a vanilla cookie that would be easy to pick up, not crumbly and that would not spread out too much.  I adapted the recipe to meet these requirements and thought the cookies were delicious.  My younger daughter is not given to lavish praise and when she rated them “fabulous”, I figured I had a winner.  They went very fast at the dinner.

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Salted Caramel Chip Cookies

  • Servings: Approx. 40 cookies
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½ cup (one stick) butter or margarine, softened
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-2/3 cups (10 oz. pkg.) Sea Salt Caramel Baking Chips (Hershey)

In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter/margarine, brown sugar and granulated sugar.  Beat in the vanilla, soda, salt and egg.

Gradually add and mix in the flour and chips.

Drop by tablespoon onto parchment covered baking sheets and flatten cookies very slightly.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 9 minutes until cookie is set.  Do not overbake.

Cool slightly, remove to wire rack to cool.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies. 

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