Wednesday, August 23, 2017


For last week's treat for the Hillcrest Thrift Shop I went back to a good old standby, Miriam Miller's Authentic Amish Cooking - The Wooden Spoon Cookbook. In it I found this recipe called Cowboy Bars. I immediately thought about my mother's recipe for Cowboy Cookies. (I checked and the recipes are a little different.) I liked the idea that it would be fast to prepare and bake because it made bars instead of cookies. So without too much thought - Cowboys Bars it was.

The volunteers really liked them and there were only about 5 or 6 bars when I left. I just put them on a paper plate so I could take my container back home with me.

I didn't make any substitutions in the recipe (I know - rare for me, isn't it?) and the only change I made was cutting the recipe in half. Her recipe made 2 jelly roll pans of bars. Way more than I wanted to make and take to the Thrift Shop. Besides I only have one jelly roll pan.


1          cup brown sugar
1          cup white sugar
1          cup butter
2         eggs, beaten
1          teaspoon vanilla
1/4      cup milk
2         cups flour
1-1/2   teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1-1/2   cups oatmeal
3/4     cups shredded coconut
1          cup chocolate chips (I used a mixture of chocolate, white, and peanut butter chips.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a jelly roll pan - 10 x 15 inches. 

Combine all ingredients and mix well:

I creamed the butter with the sugars first.
Because I was cutting the recipe in half, I almost forgot the second stick of butter.
Add the beaten eggs, vanilla, and milk.
Mix well.

Mix together the dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, salt, oats, and coconut
before you add them to the butter/sugar mixture.
Last, but not least, I added the mixture of the chips I was using.

Place in a jelly roll pan.
Mixture is thick so I always drop most of the dough in dollops on pan
leaving some to use to fill in where needed. Spread evenly and press lightly.
Bake for 20 - 30 minutes. (I cooked mine the whole 30 minutes.)

Cut in bars when cool and ready to serve. (I covered mine with foil because I made it the evening before I was going to take it to Hillcrest Thrift Shop to share.

Store leftovers in airtight container.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Did you wait for it? Or did you go on and make the Chocolate Chess Pie yesterday using your own pie crust recipe or even, Heaven forbid, you used a purchased pie crust? 

Well, I told you I would give you the recipe for the flaky pie crust I used with my pie (Friend Janice is still talking about the crust - how flaky it was.) If you remember I got this cookbook (The Pie and Pastries Cookbook - Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers) at Hillcrest Thrift Shop. They were selling it for one dollar and they just happened to have their books on 50% off that day. So do the math - I only paid 50 cents for possibly the best pie cookbook I have - and I do have several. 

I bought the cookbook because it had a recipe in it for Chocolate Chess Pie. I have been looking forever for a recipe for Chocolate Chess Pie. It is so unbelievably good that I may not make another chocolate pie again. Well, that might be an exaggeration, BUT it definitely will be my "go-to" recipe when I want to make a chocolate pie. 

The recipe just called for an unbaked 9-inch pie shell. I found a really good one from the Amish that I made and shared with you, but I think I am more like my mother than I realized. I think I may have mentioned before how I have containers of recipes my mother had collected. Lots of them are cut-outs from newspapers and magazines. And lots of them are ones she wrote a little pieces of paper. I think she used whatever happened to be close by when she saw a short recipe she wanted to try. She had two favorite recipes she wrote down many times - ones for pie crust and ones for dumplings. 

I have to be honest and say I don't really remember Mother making a pie with an outstanding crust. I'm sure she did, but my memory is not what it used to be. I do remember that she made the best dumplings in the world. The funny thing about her dumplings - I don't think she had a standard, "go-to" recipe for them. Whenever they visited us, I would always tell her she had to make dumplings before they left and every time she would look through my cookbooks for a recipe for them. 

When it came to pie crusts, she often would write down a recipe entitled "never-fail". I remember one that is on a piece of an envelop that she had torn off and it was almost not big enough to write the few ingredients down. (There is one in this cookbook on the same page called, Never-Fail Pie Crusts. I wonder if it is the same. It might be similar but this one makes like four crusts. Mother didn't make that many pies at a time.)

Sara Palmer of Ft. Wayne, Indiana contributed this recipe that makes 2 pie crusts. I simply cut it in half because I only needed one pie crust. On the previous page in the cookbook, there is a chart for Proportions for Basic Rolled Pie Pastry (I will share the chart later in the post.). Sara's recipe was basically the same as the recipe in the chart for 1-crust 8 or 9-inch except for a couple of "secret" ingredients. I have to think those two ingredients transformed the basic rolled pie pastry into the flaky pastry.  I decided I would basically use Sara's recipe with a little influence from the one in the chart. (I will explain in the recipe.) I am also writing it for one pie crust. If you want to make two crusts, just double the ingredients.


1       cup flour
1/2   teaspoon salt
1/3   cup shortening
1       tablespoon butter
5      tablespoons water
1       tablespoon vinegar

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl.

Cut in shortening and butter until crumbly. I always use my fingers to do this instead of a pastry cutter.
I measure out the shortening in a measuring cup, but took it out in small (maybe 1/2 tablespoon or less - I don't really measure) portions and scraped them to the side of the bowl. I took the tablespoon of butter and sliced it in think pieces so it would work in better.
I worked the butter in first and then slowly added a portion of the shortening at a time until I had all of it "cut in". I just make sure there are no lumps left.

Then mix the water and vinegar in a cup and measure out 2 tablespoons and add to flour/shortening mixture. (I did this because I wanted to have plenty just in case 2 tablespoons were not enough - Sara apparently used all of the mixture in her doubled recipe but the basic recipe only called for 2 tablespoons water added and worked in 1 tablespoon at a time. I think I would just do 4 tablespoons at first in the doubled recipe and add more only if the dough doesn't come together in a ball. You certainly don't want the dough to be wet and have to add more flour.)

Work the mixture with my fingers and
with a fork until
it comes together and makes a ball.

With a lightly floured surface (I love to use my tempered glass cutting board for this purpose. I also sifted the flour I used on the surface.),
lightly press the ball with your fingers
into a flatter circle. (I turned the "circle" over several times as I flattened it and moved new flour into the area of the board to make sure the surface was floured.) As I flattened the ball, I also worked the edges as they broke back together smoothly, so it would roll out more rounded. (It doesn't always work out great, but I think this helps. You can also repair any broken or shortened edges with the excess you might come up with.)

Once I had the circle maybe 6 inches, I rolled it with a lightly floured rolling pin. 

When you have the crust rolled out bigger than the pie plate you are using, start rolling the crust onto the rolling pin from one edge till you have about half of it on the pin to lift and
place over the pie plate. (Sorry I don't have a picture of this.)
When I don't have enough extra crust to flute the edges, I just use my fork and imprint the edge of the crust with the fork tines. (My mother would do this.)
Then just cut off any excess and make sure you repair any places that might need it.

Your crust is ready for the pie filling.

Here is the "chart" I promised above. I also added the information if you want to use these ingredients but make the crust "flaky" below it. If you are making a 9 - inch crust and want to have a high fluted edge on the rim, I would recommend that you make the 10-1/2 - inch crust so that you will have enough dough to fold under the edge.


                                        1 - CRUST*

                      8 or 9 - Inch                      10 - Inch

Flour                    1 cup                      1-1/2 cups

Salt                   1/2 teaspoon                3/4 teaspoons

Shortening       1/3 cup                         1/2 cup

Water                  2  tablespoons             3  tablespoons

* Double ingredients if you want to make 2 crusts.

For flaky crust: Add 1 tablespoon butter for 8 or 9 - inch crust and 1-1/2 tablespoons butter for the 10 - inch crust and also mix 5 tablespoons of water with 1 tablespoon vinegar and then use measurements given in chart for a start.

Monday, August 21, 2017


I love almost anything chocolate! One thing chocolate I really, really like is the Chocolate Chess Pie that Golden Corral serves. I like when they have it in the little tarts. It is so sweet; so the little tart is more than enough sugar for me. Lately they have been having a whole pie instead. That means I enjoy more sugar than I really wanted to eat.

I have been looking for what seems like forever trying to find a recipe for it. I found one on Pinterest but I could tell from the picture it wasn't going to taste like I wanted it to; the texture was not right. I have looked in cookbooks at estate sales in the index and put them back because they didn't contain a recipe for chocolate chess pie. 

It is kinda easy to find a recipe for lemon chess pie, (and I may try it) but I wanted to find one that was chocolate. Imagine my delight when a week or so ago I picked up a cookbook at Hillcrest Thrift Shop called, "The Pies and Pastries Cookbook" - Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers and inside it was a recipe for Chocolate Chess Pie. On the same page were recipes for Old-Fashioned Chess Pie and Lemon Chess Pie, but the one I wanted was the Chocolate Chess Pie. (The teacher who shared it was Joanne Varner from Cheyenne, Wyoming.)

I generally followed the recipe except I used butter for the margarine and I removed 6 teaspoons of sugar from the 1 cup of sugar. (I have been experimenting with this after reading an article from King Arthur Flour about reducing sugar in recipes. They recommend starting with reducing each cup of sugar by 6 teaspoonfuls in recipes. If that tastes okay, then they recommend reducing it by 12 teaspoonfuls/cup the next time. ) Well, it was plenty sweet enough (for me) with the 6 teaspoonful less, but you should do as you wish.

I made my own pie crust (and trust me it was awesome). Friend Janice said she loved the pie, but she couldn't get over how delicious and flaky the pie crust was. I had planned to share the recipe for it on this post, but as I am writing this, I have decided I need to write a whole post on pie crusts. I learned a lot from this cookbook about crusts. So if you want to make this pie right now, use your favorite pie crust recipe, OR you can wait until tomorrow and make it after you read that post. (It will be worth the wait.)


1       cup sugar (less 6 teaspoonfuls)
3      tablespoons cornmeal
3      tablespoons cocoa
3      eggs, well beaten
1/2   cup (1 stick) butter
1/2   cup light corn syrup
1       teaspoon vanilla extract
1       unbaked 9 - in pie shell

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In one bowl, mix the sugar, cornmeal, and cocoa with a whisk to thoroughly mix.
(The cup of sugar with 6 teaspoonfuls removed.)
In another bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly and
then add the corn syrup, butter, and vanilla.
Stir it with a whisk to completely blend it.

Pour the egg mixture into the sugar mixture;
until smooth with the whisk.

Pour into pie shell.

Bake for 45 minutes or until set.

(I had to bake mine for 55 minutes until the center was set. I had a little hole that formed and was bubbling at 45 minutes. So I continued to bake the pie until it had stopped bubbling and the center didn't giggle.
It made the pie not look as pretty when it was done, didn't ruin the taste.

Cool completely on wire rack. (I like my Chocolate Chess Pie cold, so I covered it and put it in the refrigerator until I was ready to serve it.)

Can serve plain or
with a little whipped topping.

Friday, August 18, 2017


I am always telling my friends to take pictures and send me the recipe when they make something that is really good. A few remember and take me up on my offer. While Friend Fran does very little cooking/baking anymore, her daughter Sheila does. 

This recipe is one that Fran told me about. For once, Sheila took a few pictures along the way, which is always good since I can't seem to do any step without showing y'all pictures of it. (I know they are helpful to some people and I am a visual learner myself.)

The neat thing about this recipe is you can use all your favorites - meat, extras such as black olives, peppers, etc.

Sheila made these for a gathering they were having and I am so thankful she thought enough of my blog to share her experience with me. She states in the recipe that 1/3 less fat cream cheese works well. I bet fat free would work well also.


1        8 - ounce package of cream cheese, at room temperature (1/3 less works fine)
          salsa (use your favorite homemade or bought)
          chopped jalapeno peppers - chopped black olives , etc
          onion chopped fine
          sausage, bacon, pepperoni, etc (dice the pepperoni if you use it
1       12- count package flour tortillas - 12 inch size

Brown and drain the meat you are using.

Spread a thin layer of the cream cheese over the flour tortilla to about an inch from the edge.

Sprinkle on toppings and salsa to cover.

Roll tightly.

Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight.

Slice them the next day just before serving about1-1/2 inches wide.

Serve with additional salsa, if you like.