Chocolate Peanut Clusters

Grandpa Grandma Dad

Grandma Dora, Grandpa and my Dad in the yard on their farm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Grandpa was quite a bit older than my Grandma Dora, about ten years her senior. He had probably decided he was going to be a bachelor for life before he met and fell in love with Grandma. They had grown up so differently. She, an only child, raised in town, not having to worry about where the next meal would come from. Grandpa, one of the five children, who had to be “farmed out” to family and friends to be raised after his mother died because his father couldn’t do it on his own. Their backgrounds didn’t matter though. What they had, was faithful love for each other, with God at the center of their relationship. What a wonderful example they set.

They chose the difficult life of dairy farming and while they didn’t have much, they did what they could to make holidays special. Purchasing a few things as they could, but making many things homemade. I’m sure Grandma Dora made this recipe for Chocolate Peanut Clusters for Grandpa for Valentine’s Day. I can picture her candies in a simple metal tin with a red, cloth ribbon around it.

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Chocolate Peanut Clusters

  • 1 – 3 oz package chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup salted peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine first four ingredients in heavy pan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.  Lower heat and cook slowly for three minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and quickly stir in peanuts and vanilla.  Beat until candy thickens and begins to lose its gloss.  Drop from teaspoon onto waxed paper, forming into clusters.

Candy1I began by combining the pudding mix, sugar and butter into my saucepan.

Candy2Then I added the evaporated milk.

Candy3I whisked everything together on a medium heat and brought it to a boil.  Then lowered the heat and continued to stir it for three minutes.

Candy4After the timer went off, I pulled it off of the heat and added the vanilla and salted peanuts.

Candy5It was looking delicious!  I stirred it until it started to thicken.

Candy7I dropped it by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper (I sprayed it with cooking spray, just incase.) that I had spread out before I began.

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I let them cool on the wax paper for a couple of hours.  As they cooled, they harded and I was able to peel them off of the waxed paper.

Chocolate Peanut Clusters are an easy homemade candy to make.  It tastes like fudge!  I hope you’ll enjoy making them for your loved ones, as much as I know Grandma Dora enjoyed making them for my Grandpa.

Happy Cooking and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Wendy

White Nut Bread

On Sunday afternoons, after church, we often go over to my parent’s house for lunch.  I always try to bring something to share, to help with the meal.  I found a recipe in my Grandma Dora’s recipe box for White Nut Bread.  I decided to make it because it seemed like a simple, easy recipe and something we could all enjoy with lunch.  When we got to my parent’s house on Sunday, I set the bread on the kitchen counter and began to help get the meal going and on the table.  As my dad looked at the loaf of bread I had set down, he said, “I remember that my mom used to make a nut and raisin bread that kind of looked like that.  She made it a lot and I always liked it.”  He didn’t know that I had actually found and made her recipe.  I said, “This IS your mom’s recipe!  I got it from her recipe box!  This is her recipe for White Nut Bread!”  I was so pleased that what I had made looked like and reminded him of Grandma Dora’s!  He said it was really good and tasted the way he remembered it!

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White Nut Bread

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup nuts (or more as desired)

Mix together all dry ingredients.  Add nut meats and raisins.  Mix in milk and the beaten egg.  Put batter into a greased loaf pan.  Let rise 1/2 hour.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

NB - Dry IngredientsI began by mixing together the dry ingredients.

NB - Nuts and Raisins

Then, after chopping up the nuts (I used walnuts) I added them to the dry ingredients with the raisins.  I actually used a full cup of chopped walnuts.

NB - Wet Ingredients AddedOnce the nuts and raisins were mixed in, I added and blended in the milk and beaten egg.

NB - In loaf panI poured the batter, which was very thick, into a greased loaf pan.  I covered it and let it rise for 30 minutes before putting it into my preheated oven.

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I baked the White Nut bread for about 50 minutes.  It was a beautiful golden brown loaf.  This recipe has very little sugar in it, only a half cup, so because I didn’t think the bread itself would be very sweet, I decided to add some frosting!!

NB - Frosted1I made a thick glaze of powdered sugar and milk and put it on the loaf while it was still slightly warm.

NB - Frosted and Sliced

Nothing makes a loaf of bread better than thick frosting!

NB - Frosted and Sliced3The bread had a nice, chewy outside and a delicious, soft inside!  The sweet raisins and frosting were a nice compliment to the nutty flavor of the walnuts.

NB - Fosted and Sliced2My family really enjoyed the White Nut Bread along with our Sunday lunch.  I was glad I had made it and that it turned out to be such a delicious recipe, one that reminded my dad of his childhood!

Happy Baking!

Wendy

Biscuits

My parents have a cherry table stored in their basement.  It belonged to my Grandpa and Grandma Dora.  It’s a beautiful, solid table, with lots of carved wood and intricate patterns. It has numerous leaves that fit into it, making it enormous in length.  I’ve always admired it and said that someday I hoped it would be mine.  My dad has told stories that during harvest time he can remember that cherry table, with all of the leaves in it, stretched out in their house with a large group of farm hands eating around it.  Farmers in the area would go together, farm to farm, helping neighbors bring in their crops, living by the adage, “Many hands make light work.”  When they would come to my grandparents farm, Grandma Dora, her mother Edith and the wives of the men in the fields would spend hours cooking and baking, trying their best to fill the men up with a hearty meal before sending them back out to the fields.

Grandpa on Hay Wagon

Grandpa on his hay wagon that was used during harvest time.

I found Grandma Dora’s recipe for homemade biscuits in her recipe box.  I’m sure she included them with the filling meals for the farm hands.  I had never made biscuits from scratch before.  Normally when I see a recipe that requires a rolling pin, I usually lose interest pretty fast.  But I had a recipe in my own recipe box for Creamed Chicken Over Biscuits that I had never made, but always intended to, so this was my chance.  I would whip this up for dinner!

Biscuit RecipeBiscuits

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • About 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 Tablespoons lard (or shortening)

Combine all dry ingredients in mixing bowl.  Add buttermilk and shortening.  Mix until soft dough is formed.  On a floured surface, knead a few times and roll out until dough is about 1/2 inch in thickness.  Cut with a floured biscuit cutter.  Place on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Biscuits dry ingI added all of the dry ingredients into my mixing bowl.

Biscuitswet combinedNext, I added the buttermilk and shortening.  (If you don’t have buttermilk and would like to make your own, we explain how in the recipe for Mrs. Magary’s Spice Cake.)

Biscuits DoughUsing the dough hook attachment on my Kitchenaid (though just a regular mixer attachment would be fine), I mixed the ingredients until a soft dough formed.

Biscuits Dough BallAfter flouring the counter, I kneaded the dough a few times until it felt like a good consistency for rolling out.

Biscuits Rolled OutI rolled out the dough until it was about 1/2 inch thick.  If you’d like a thicker biscuit, than don’t roll it quite as thin.

Biscuits CutSince I don’t have a biscuit cutter, I floured the mouth of a glass jar and used that to cut the dough.  I then placed them on an ungreased baking sheet and popped them into my preheated oven.

Biscuits BakedI baked them for about 12 minutes and pulled them out as they were starting to brown and open around the middles.

Biscuits Piled2They were beautiful!  Soft and flakey, splitting in the middle.  They even smelled delicious!

Biscuits Piled3I couldn’t wait to try them with dinner.  I covered them to keep them warm and made the Creamed Chicken, which is basically like the inside of chicken pot pie.

Biscuits ServedThe biscuits were delicious!  They were cut open and covered with heaping ladles of steaming Creamed Chicken.  It was a warm, hearty meal, one that reminded me of something that Grandma Dora must have prepared for the farm hands all those years ago.

Happy Baking!

Wendy

Aunt Dorothy’s Butter Cream Frosting

We went to Shipshewana this week.  I hadn’t been there in many years and I thought it would be fun to check out the shops and the Amish stores.  The Amish life is appealing to me for two reasons.  I like the simplicity and the sense of community the people share.

This frosting recipe has the name “Dorothy” written in the corner.  Dorothy was my father’s aunt, his dad’s sister.  She was one of the children that got split up when their mother died that I wrote about when I made Edna’s Butterscotch Cake.  I remember going to visit her home one time when we were on a family vacation.  She could have been Amish with her old fashioned clothes and furniture.  She and her husband owned a store that was connected to the side of their home.  The store itself was very anitiquated.  I remember it as similar to a “modern day” antique store.  Everything was very simple there.  I can imagine how she might have put together this simple “from scratch” frosting in her unadorned kitchen.

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Dorothy’s Butter Cream Frosting

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar (granulated) or 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cook milk and flour until very thick.  Cool.  Add to creamed sugar and shortening.  Beat until very fluffy and add 1 teaspoon vanilla.

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I combined the milk and flour in a pan and began to cook them over medium heat.

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I have never made frosting this way, so I was curious to see what would happen.  In a short time, the milk and flour got very thick, like the recipe said it would.

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While the milk and flour mixture was cooling, I creamed the sugar and shortening together (I decided to use half shortening and half butter.).  I used the powdered sugar, but I am curious to know how the granulated sugar would turn out since the recipe says you can use either one.

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I then added the milk and flour mixture into the creamed sugar and shortening mixture and beat until it was very fluffy.  I then added a teaspoon of vanilla.

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The frosting turned out very fluffy and spread easily on the cake.  It is different than other frosting.  My brother-in-law described it as similar to the filling in a twinkie.  My sister-in-law thought it reminded her of a frosting that has cool whip in it.  I thought it was similar to doughnut filling.

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I hope you have a chance to give Aunt Dorothy’s Butter Cream Frosting and the cake recipe a try.  I think you will find it a simple delight.

Happy Baking!

Amy

Baked Macaroni and Cheese – A Bonus Recipe

Do you have a “go-to” meal?  Whenever we come home and it’s already dinner time or I need to go grocery shopping, but haven’t had time, I always find myself whipping up Baked Macaroni and Cheese.  I was having one of “those” days so I decided it was time to fallback on my old “go-to” recipe.

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Baked Macaroni and Cheese

  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 8 oz elbow macaroni (about 1 3/4 cups), cooked and drained

In a saucepan, combine the first 4 ingredients, stir in milk.  Add butter while stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil and whisk for one minute.  Stir in 1 3/4 cups cheese until melted.  Add noodles.  Pour into greased casserole dish.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Mac1I started by whisking together the corn starch, salt, dry mustard and pepper.

Mac2Then I added the milk and butter and whisked continually until it began to thicken.  Once it came to a boil, I whisked it for one minute.

Mac4I added the cheese and whisked it until it was melted.

Mac5I strained the cooked noodles.  (I like to pick fun noodles.  I hate boring elbows!)

Mac7Next, I added the cheese mixture to the noodles and mixed well.

Mac8I poured the cheese mixture into my greased 9 x 13 (I had doubled the recipe.) and sprinkled on the remaining cheese.  I popped it into the oven at 375 degrees and baked it for 25 minutes until it was bubbling and beginning to brown.

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I served it up with green beans and zucchini bread.  It was delicious!  It’s an easy and filling, made from scratch meal that my whole family loves!

Happy Baking!

Wendy

 

 

 

Caramel Apple Salad – A Bonus Recipe

We had another family birthday party this past weekend.  My niece turned 12!  How can she possibly be that old?  I remember the day she was born.  We traveled 1.5 hours in the car to the hospital to see the first grandchild, my first niece, on our side of the family.  We all rode together and still to this day, tease our mom for how crazy she was.  I guess the birth of the first grandchild does something to women.  They get in a “baby zone” and can’t hear or see anything that doesn’t have to do with getting them to the hospital.  NOTHING will keep them from seeing their new grandbaby!

For my niece’s party this past weekend, I wanted to make Caramel Apple Salad.  My sister, Rebekah had passed this recipe on to me a long time ago.  It sat in my recipe box for years before I made it recently.  It’s delicious and makes a large bowl, so I always like to make it when I will be sharing with a group.  She had received it from her grandmother-in-law, Grandma Slager.

Caramel Apple Salad

  • 1 – 8 oz container Cool Whip
  • 1 – 8 oz can crushed pineapple with juice
  • 1 – 3 oz, small box butterscotch instant pudding
  • 3 cups chopped apples
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts (or any kind you choose)

Mix all together except for Cool Whip.  Fold in Cool Whip last.  Chill.

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With just a few ingredients and no baking or cooking, it was the perfect, easy side to make when all of the crazy cousins would be together!

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I simply dumped the chopped apples (you don’t even need to peel them!), nuts and crushed pineapple into a big mixing bowl. (This is when you’d add the marshmallows too, but I don’t like marshmallows in salads, so I left them out.)

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Next, I poured in the butterscotch pudding mix.

CAS4I stirred until the butterscotch pudding was incorporated.

CAS5Then, I added the whole container of Cool Whip.

CAS6I stirred that in until it was well blended.

CAS7Last, I transferred it to a serving bowl and put it in the refrigerator to chill until it was served.  (I wouldn’t suggest making this the day before as the apples will get soggy.)

That’s it!   It is SO simple and so good!  The crunch of apples, with the sweetness of pineapple and saltiness of peanuts all combined in a blanket of caramely Cool Whip!  Yum!  Take this dish to your Christmas get-to-gethers and work parties.  You won’t disappoint!

Happy Mixing!

Wendy

Mrs. Luce’s White Cookies

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The Luces were good friends of my grandparents.  My dad said he remembers that, like his own mom, Mrs. Luce was a wonderful baker.  Each year, to help with the income, she spent time baking up homemade goods and taking them to the local farmer’s market to sell.  I’m sure this is part of what made she and Grandma Dora such good friends. They shared a love for baking.  They enjoyed talking about recipes, tips and other baking secrets throughout their many years of friendship.

I actually remember as a child, going to visit Mr. and Mrs. Luce.  We drove out in the country to their home.  We ate treats, made by Mrs. Luce but, what I remember the most is that Mr. Luce gave my sisters and brother and I each a shiny half-dollar.  I treasured that half-dollar for many years.  Actually, I still have it in my drawer of special things that I collected as I grew up.

As I was looking through my Grandma Dora’s recipe box, I found a recipe, Mrs. Luce’s White Cookies.  I recognized Mrs. Luce’s name and had even met her, so it made baking the cookies even more fun.

ML White Cookies Recipe

 Mrs. Luce’s White Cookies 

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup thick sour milk
  • 1 cup lard, full and rounded above cup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 cups flour

Cream sugar, lard (shortening) and eggs.  Combine dry ingredients.  Add a little at a time to creamed mixture, alternating with the sour milk until incorporated.  Add vanilla.  Roll into balls and roll in sugar.  Bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees.

ML White Cookies Creamed2I began creaming the sugar, shortening and eggs.

ML White Cookies CreamedThen I alternated adding the dry ingredients mixture and the soured milk.  The recipe says that the soured milk should be “thick.”  So I added two tablespoons of lemon juice before I filled the measuring cup with milk.  I let it set as long as possible before I used it so it would be as “thick” as possible.  Then I added the vanilla.

ML White Cookies DoughThe recipe simply called for “flour.”  It’s always hard to judge what that means.  After putting in three cups though, it looked more like cake batter consistency.  I ended up using five cups before it looked like cookie dough!

ML White Cookies Dough BallsThis recipe also didn’t say if the cookies should be rolled out or rolled into balls.  Rolling out the dough sounded like a lot of work, so I opted for rolling the dough into balls instead.  Then I rolled the balls in a bit of sugar for a little sparkle.  For Christmas, you could roll them in green or red sugar to make them look fun and festive!

ML White Cookies5The cookies baked for 12 minutes at 350 degrees.  It seemed like just the right amount of time.  I let the cookies rest on the trays for about 1 minute before transferring them to the cooling rack.  While I didn’t frost them, I do think they would be extra good with icing!

ML White CookiesMrs. Luce’s White Cookies were very simple to make.  They reminded me of something that would be served at a tea party.  They are a light cookie, different from regular sugar cookies.  I compared them to a soft, sweetened biscuit.  Have fun making Mrs. Luce’s White Cookies, and enjoy them with a cup of hot tea this Christmas season!

Happy Baking!

Wendy