Sunday 30 September 2018

Applesauce Nut Bread

There is something about this time of year that makes me want to indulge in all things apple and pumpkin . . .  and spice.  Its only natural I guess since this is the time that those things are coming into their own and are available in abundance.  One thing I like to make is applesauce, and once I have made my applesauce, then I like to make an Applesauce Nut Bread or an Applesauce Cake.

I basically make two kinds of applesauce.  One with sugar and one without sugar.  The one I make with sugar is to eat as is, and the one without is to use in baked goods, where there will be sugar added to the batter. Both freeze very well. I freeze it in one cup amounts which is perfect for either use.

Today I decided to try out a new Applesauce bread/cake recipe.  I have a cookery book entitled, Recipes Worth Sharing, recipes and stories from America's most-loved Community Cookbooks. 

This particular recipe is attributed to The Bells are Ringing: A Call To Table by the Mission San Juan Capistrano Women's Guild.  It looked good. I did make a few changes from the original, which I will detail, and of course have also converted it to British measurements for the British kitchen.

The original recipe called only for the use of cinnamon and nutmeg.  I added some cloves.  Cloves go very well with the flavour of apple and my husband loves cloves. He is always banging on about his mom's apple pie and how she used cloves, so the cloves were a love note to him.

There was also a rather abundant amount of cinnamon sugar nut sprinkle in the original recipe which was to be sprinkled on top.  I thought it was a bit much for just on top so I divided it in three and sprinkled it between two layers and only added the final third for on top, which . . .

As you can see was more than ample!

I also toasted my pecans.  I toast all of my nuts prior to baking with them. It just makes them taste nuttier and I love the smell of them toasting.  About 6 to 8 minutes in a moderate oven on a baking sheet does the trick.

The end result was a very delicious loaf.  There is no need for a drizzle or frosting on top as the brown sugar adds the perfect amount of sweetness for that purpose.

The loaf itself is not overly sweet, which I liked.  As a Diabetic, I am not supposed to eat a lot of sugar, so this isn't exactly on my list of things I can eat, but if I was tempted it is not the worst thing I could eat either.

Its not quite as moist as some applesauce breads I have made in the past, but I think that a slice of this warmed and spread with butter would be excellent with a nice hot cup of tea, herbal or otherwise.

When I was working at the Manor the Mr used to like me to toast the quick breads and butter them when I was serving them to him.  It actually really is quite nice to do that with a quick bread, and I strongly suspect that this bread will be lovely toasted as well.

I am also thinking it might make a great bread and butter pudding when it gets to being a bit stale.  If you have never tried that with a quick bread, then you don't know what you have been missing out on! 

Bread and Butter Pudding made with sliced quick bread is magnificently delicious . . . I have done it with my cinnamon loaf, banana bread  and gingerbread in the past and all versions were drool-worthy!

You don't want to do it with really crumbly quick breads, but sturdier ones like this one are perfect for that purpose!

Yield: 8 - 10

Applesauce Nut Bread

prep time: 15 minscook time: 1 hourtotal time: 1 hours and 15 mins
Tasty tasty.  Moist and delicious.  Tis the season.


For the Pecan Topping:
100g soft light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
30g chopped toasted pecans

For the loaf:
245g smooth unsweetened applesauce (1 cup)
190g sugar (1 cup)
120ml vegetable oil (1/2 cup)
2 large free range eggs
280g plain flour (2 cups)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 tsp grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
30g toasted pecans (1/4 cup)


Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Butter a large loaf
tin, or two smaller ones and then line with baking paper.  Set aside.

Mix the topping ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

 together the applesauce, sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs.  Sift together
 the flour, soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. 
Stir in the pecans.  Add all at once to the wet ingredients. Mix well
together.  Spread 1/3 of it into the prepared loaf tin (s) sprinkle with
 1/3 of the topping.  Spread another 1/3 of the batter on top. Top with
another 1/3 of the topping.  Spread on the final 1/3 of batter.  Using a
 round bladed knife swirl the topping through and then sprinkle the
remaining topping on top of the loaf.

Bake for
30 minutes. Cover loosely with foil to help prevent over-browning.  Bake
 for 15 to 30 minutes longer (depending on pan(s) used).  When the bread
 is done a toothpick inserted in the centre will come out clean.  Cool
in the pan for several minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool

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The added bonus of this lovely bread is the wonderful smell it leaves in your house while it is baking  . . .  cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves . . .  smells like Home Sweet Home to me!  Bon Appetit! 

Saturday 29 September 2018

Easy Jam Hearts

If you are looking for a lovely cookie to bake for your loved ones this weekend, you can't get much nicer than Easy Jam Hearts.  These lovely jam filled butter cookies are simple to make and quite delicious! 

They are so easy to make that the children will want to get in on but business of helping you with them. Children do so love to help out with baking don't they!  I sure wish I lived closer to my grandchildren . . .  

You don't need to be rolling out or cutting out these cookies.  They are pretty much faff free.  You simply pinch off pieces of dough and roll it into 1 inch balls with your hands. These get placed onto the baking sheets, lightly smashing two together next to each other, and then you pinch them out into a heart shape, leaving two rounded bits at the top.  Flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand and then use your thumb to make a heart shaped depression in each, which you fill with jam.  

Take care not to overfill them or the jam will overflow the cookies when they are baking.  A little bit goes a long way when you are cooking with jam.  Also, if you are working with children, make sure they don't touch the baked cookies until they are cooled.  Hot jam can easily little fingers and lips!

You bake these in a moderate oven for 10 to 12 minutes and then let them cool right on the baking sheet. Once they are completely cold you ice them with a lemon drizzle icing.

Do be sure to use fresh lemon juice in the icing.  I have used lemon flavouring before, and it is just not the same.  It lends an almost perfume-like taste to the icing, which I didn't care for.  Fresh lemon juice is the only way to go.

Today I used Raspberry jam, because that is what I had in the refrigerator.  Run a fork through your jam to loosen it up nicely.  Seedless jam is best, but any jam will work really.  I think the red jams look the nicest.

Lemon curd is also very nice in these, in which case you might like to add a pinch of ground ginger to the flour.  Lemon and ginger are a marriage made in heaven! 

These are just so, so, SO pretty! 

Why not invite them to your next tea or children's party???

They look so fancy, and yet  . . .  they are not . . .  fancy that is . . .  just a simple butter cookie, hand shaped . . .

filled, baked and  . . .  drizzled, with love . . .

The child in me wishes so much that I could indulge  . . .  sigh  . . .

Alas all the sins of my misspent youth are coming back to haunt me and all I can do is look and dream . . .  never mind, the Toddster enjoys them, and that is what counts!

Yield: Makes approximately 24

Easy Jam Hearts

prep time: 15 minscook time: 12 minstotal time: 27 mins
No cookie cutter needed for these sweet jam filled heart shaped butter cookies. If you can roll dough into a ball, you can make these.


250g butter (1 cup + 2 tsp)
140g sugar (3/4 cup)
2 tsp vanilla extract
300g plain flour (2 cups + 2 1/2 TBS)
1/4 tsp salt
your favourite red fruit jam


Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Line a couple of large baking sheets with baking paper.  Set aside.

 the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.  Beat in the
sugar.  Stir in the salt and flour to make a dough. Pinch off pieces of
the dough and roll into 1/2 inch balls.Squash two balls together on the
baking sheets, leaving rounded ends a the top and tapering bottoms to a
point. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.  Leave plenty of
space in between. Using your finger, make a heart shape indentation in
the centre of each. Fill with some jam, making sure that you don't
over-fill it.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Leave to cool on baking sheets. 

 together 130 g/1 cup of sifted icing sugar and enough lemon juice to make a drizzle
icing.   Drizzle decoratively over the cookies and leave to set.  Store
in an airtight container with wax paper in between the layers.
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Note, it is perfectly possible to divide the recipe in half if you wish. I did so today with perfect results.  Happy weekend and Bon Appetit! 

Friday 28 September 2018

Green Bean & Potato Casserole

This side dish I am sharing today, is one from out of my Big Blue Binder that I was given by a Mennonite friend many years ago.  I will tell you one thing about  the Mennonites, they sure know how to cook delicious food!  

My Big Blue Binder is filled to overflowing with little gems like this recipe. Tried and trues, family favourites, shared with me by friends and family over the span of the last 45 or so years. (Yes, I am that old!)

My big blue binder is an old binder that I have been lugging around with me all through my life since I was about 9 or 10 years old.  I have been collecting recipes in it from friends, and magazines and library books, etc. for all of that time. 

It is old now, and falling apart, but it is a treasure to me.  Filled to over-flowing with love. I did write a book about it a few years back, which you can buy on Lulu, which only a small sampling of what is actually in the Binder. Maybe I need to do a second volume.

In the original recipe my friend used home canned green beans.  I don't can my own green beans (I don't expect many do these days) so I use well drained tinned from the shops. 

I like to buy the mixed yellow and green beans if I can get them.  Yellow beans, or waxed beans as my mother called them are very hard to find over here. You could also cook an equivalent in fresh beans to use in their place if you wanted to. 

Along with the beans there is a quantity of cooked potatoes, cubed.  I confess I have also used tinned new potatoes in the past with great success.  Just drain well, rinse them off and then cube them.  They work great. 

I also am a person who, when I am boiling potatoes for one reason or another, always boils more than I know I am going to use on the day. Leftover boiled potatoes always come in handy for one thing or another. We absolutely love pan fried leftover potatoes in this house!

These are combined with a homemade cheese sauce.  My friend always used undiluted evaporated milk, but I just use regular whole milk (whole fat) which works perfectly.  

I am sure skim milk would also work, although you might not have quite as rich a sauce. A bit of extra fat always adds a special flavour to things.   Admittedly it also adds to your hips and girth, but we won't go there!

There is a quanitity of sauteed onion and celery in the sauce and some seasoning.  When you are sauting your vegetables don't let them brown if possible. Keep an eye on them. 

You mix the vegetables and the sauce together until well combined.  This mixture then gets poured  into a nicely buttered casserole dish. I favour a somewhat shallow one myself.

I like to top it with crushed cracker crumbs and crumbled cooked streaky bacon.  You could butter the cracker crumbs and leave out the bacon if you wanted to.  

I am from the school however with the motto that everything tastes better with bacon. You could even also mix the cracker crumbs with some additional grated cheese.In for a penny, in for a pound.

I like to use a whole wheat buttery crumbly cracker for this.  More fibre and GI friendly.  Whole wheat ingredients are much better for you if you can possibly use them instead of others. 

I choose to use whole wheat breads, crackers and pasta these days over white things.  They are filled with fibre and are a lot more nutritious and are much easier for your body to metabolise.

I think you could also add some cubes of cooked meat to this if you wanted to.  Leftover cooked ham, or pork, chicken/turkey would work very well, as would leftover roast been or browned ground meat. 

It realy is quite an adaptable dish which works well with many flavours.

It is one of those dishes that you can play with a bit and turn into  your own, without a lot of extra effort.  Its also a great way to use up some of the leftovers in your refrigerator after Sunday lunch.

Its not much to look at  . . .  ie. not the most attractive crayon in the box, but I can promise you that what it lacks in appearance it more than makes up for in taste.

I really love these fabulous old recipes.  They are thrifty and delicious.  They use simple ingredients. There is nothing fancy here.  

They are solid, trustworthy and reliable, which were pretty much the values that people lived by in days gone past.  Oh, I sometimes long for simpler times, don't you?

I really hope you will make this and that, if you do,  you will enjoy it.  Come back and let me know how you get on!  Lets share!   

Oh I do so love to share and I really love it when you make what I have shared with you and enjoy it also. I also really love it when you take the time to come back and let me know.

Yield: 6

Green Bean & Potato Casserole

prep time: 15 minscook time: 35 minstotal time: 50 mins
This is a delicious side dish will have your family clamouring for seconds.


1 (400g) tin of cooked green beans, drained well (14 oz tin)
(1 1/2 cups cooked beans)
2 medium potatoes, cooked and cubed (1 cup)
1 stalk celery diced (1/2 cup)
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
4 slices streaky bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 TBS butter
1 1/2 TBS flour
240ml whole milk (1 cup)
120g grated strong cheddar cheese (1 cup)
salt and black pepper to taste
10  buttery crackers


Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F./gas mark 4.  Butter a 1 litre/1 Qt casserole dish and set aside.

 the potatoes and beans into a bowl.  Melt the butter over medium heat.
 Add the onion and celery and cook for several minutes until softened
without browning.  Stir in the flour and cook for a further minute. 
Slowly stir in the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until bubbling and
 thickened.  Stir in the cheese to melt.  Season to taste with salt and
black pepper.  Pour over the potatoes and beans.  Mix to combine well
and pour into the prepared casserole dish.  Crumble the crackers over
top.  Crumble the bacon over the crackers.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until well heated through, bubbly and golden brown.  Serve hot.
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