SUMMER OF SECRETS Recipes

Rhubarb Crumb Cake

Moist and sweet-tart, this breakfast treat could double as dessert!

1 ½ C. brown sugar
½ C. margarine, softened
1 egg
1 C. buttermilk
2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ¼ C. diced rhubarb (fresh
½ C. sugar
2 T. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350º. Cream the sugar and margarine, add the egg. Dissolve the baking soda in the buttermilk and add to the creamed mixture, then add the dry ingredients and rhubarb. Spread the batter in a greased/sprayed 9×13 pan. Sprinkle the remaining sugar and the cinnamon over the top of the cake and bake for 40 minutes or just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Do not overbake!

Skillet Baked Beans

Faster than the oven variety, and keeps your kitchen cooler, too! Same great taste.

4-5 strips bacon
1 medium onion, diced
2 20-oz. cans pork & beans
¼ C. each mustard, ketchup, brown sugar
Salt and pepper

In a large skillet, cook the bacon; remove, drain, and crumble. Cook the onion in the bacon grease (then drain the remaining grease if you wish) and pour the beans into the skillet. Stir in the condiments, season to taste, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beans are thick and most of the liquid is absorbed. Serves 10-12.

Strawberry Cream Cake

Moist and delicious. Pretty enough for a party!

1 strawberry cake mix with pudding in it
1 3 oz. box strawberry gelatin
1 10 oz. pkg. frozen strawberries, thawed but not drained
1 3 oz. box of white chocolate instant pudding
1 8 oz. tub of whipped topping

Make cake in a 9×13” pan according to directions; cool. Use a meat fork to poke holes all over it. Dissolve the gelatin in 1 C. boiling water, cool slightly, and then pour this liquid evenly over the cake.

For the topping, stir the pudding mix into the thawed berries until blended, then add the whipped topping. Spread over the cake. Store, covered, in the fridge. Freezes well, too.

Kitchen Hint: Sugar-free gelatin, pudding, and lite whipped topping work fine.

Cherry Pie Bars

You can use any flavor of canned pie filling, but cherry is the prettiest!

1 C. butter/margarine
1 ¾ C. sugar
4 eggs
3 C. flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
2 cans cherry pie filling

Preheat oven to 350º. Cream the butter/margarine and sugar, then add eggs and mix well. Mix in dry ingredients, and save out 1 C. of the dough. Spread the rest in a sprayed 11/17” pan (or two 9×13” pans), then top with pie filling, then drop remaining dough by teaspoons over the top. Bake about 30 minutes, until cookie seems firm (don’t overbake!). Cool and drizzle with frosting.

Frosting: 1 1/3 C. powdered sugar, ½ tsp. lemon flavoring, ½ tsp. almond flavoring, 2-3 T. milk.

Kitchen Hint: No-sugar pie filling works just fine here!

Italian Green Beans

Nice switch from plain green beans. If you don’t can your own fresh beans and tomatoes,
use equal-size cans from the store.

1 qt. green beans
1 qt. tomatoes
Italian seasoning and dried onion to taste
¼ C. real bacon bits
1 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ C. grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350º. Spray a 1-quart ovenproof bowl/casserole and pour in drained green beans. Add drained tomatoes and seasonings, and bacon bits, and stir. Top with cheeses, cover, and bake about 30-40 minutes, until bubbly.

Kitchen Hint: You can also add a can of sliced mushrooms, or use fresh sliced onion rather than dried.

Sausage Breakfast Pie

Practically makes itself, and the varieties are endless. Good for any meal of the day.

1 lb. bulk sausage, cooked and drained
1 C. shredded cheese (Colby, cojack or mozzarella are good)
¼ C. chopped onion
¼ C. each red and green bell pepper
½ C. Bisquick or Jiffy baking mix
1 C. milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Dill, garlic powder, parsley to taste
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 400º. Spray a 10” pie pan. Sprinkle the sausage, cheese and veggies in the pan. Stir remaining ingredients until blended and pour over the meat layer. Bake 35-40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Infinite varieties: including ham, shredded pork, cooked chicken and using mushrooms, black olives, diced fresh tomatoes, peas or whatever you’ve got left over. Works for any meal of the day.

Butterscotch Brownies

A great fix for a sweet/salty/chewy craving!

½ C. butter/margarine, melted
1 ½ C. brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ C. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 C. chopped pecans
1 bag butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350º. Mix melted butter/margarine, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla, then add flour and baking powder and mix well. Add pecans and ½ the bag of chips. Spread in a sprayed 9×13” pan and sprinkle remaining chips on top. Bake about 30 minutes, just until toothpick comes out clean—don’t overbake!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookies

These cookies set up like fudge and they won’t heat your kitchen on a summer day!

1 1/3 C. sugar
½ C. butter/margarine
½ C. milk
¼ tsp. vanilla
1 C. peanut butter
3 C. quick oats

Mix sugar, butter/margarine, milk and vanilla in a pan and bring to a boil; cook 1 minute.
Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and oatmeal. Cool and drop from by spoonfuls onto wax paper. If they stay too gooey, store them in the fridge.

Dark-On-Dark Cookies

A soft, chewy chocolate cookie that’s sinfully delicious!

1 ¼ C. butter or margarine, softened
2 C. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 C. flour
¾ C. Hershey Special Dark cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 bag Hershey Special Dark chocolate chips.

Preheat the oven to 350º. Cream the butter/margarine and sugar, then blend in the eggs and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients and mix into the dough, adding the chocolate chips last. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased/parchment papered baking sheets and bake 8-9 minutes. Cookies will be soft and puffy. Allow to cool on the sheets about a minute, until they settle around the chips, and then cool on a rack. About 5 dozen.

Lemon Pound Cake

An old favorite! Bake it in a 9×13” pan for squares or in a Bundt pan for slices.

1 lemon cake mix
1 box instant lemon pudding mix
¾ C. oil
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350º. Mix all ingredients and pour into a sprayed pan. Bake about 20-25 minutes (toothpick comes out clean) for the 9×13 version and 50-60 minutes for the Bundt.

Meanwhile, mix glaze: 2 C. powdered sugar, ½ C. lemon juice. While cake is still warm, in the pan, gently poke holes all over it with a meat fork and pour the glaze over it to soak in. If using a Bundt pan, invert after 25 minutes to cool completely and drizzle additional, thicker frosting on the top.

Oatmeal Flax Bread

Dense and chewy with whole grains, this makes awesome toast for breakfast, or a great go-along for soups and salads. Flaxseed replaces the oil and eggs used in other quick breads.

1 ½ C. whole wheat flour
1 C. all-purpose flour
2/3 C. packed brown sugar
½ C. old-fashioned oats
1/3 C. ground flaxseed or flaxseed meal
1 tsp. salt
1 2/3 C. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350º. Coat an 8×4” bread pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, oats, flaxseed and salt. Stir in the buttermilk just until mixed. Pour batter into the pan and sprinkle with 1 T. oats. Bake about 45 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan to cool on a rack. Cool completely—at least 2 hours—before slicing.

Kitchen Hint: No buttermilk? Stir 2 T. white vinegar or lemon juice into milk and let stand 5 minutes. This bread freezes well, so I always double the recipe.

Rhubarb Cream Pie

Tart and creamy-sweet. If you don’t have fresh rhubarb, frozen works well.

Crust: (makes enough for 2 double-crust pies)
3 C. flour
1 ½ C. Crisco
2 T. sugar
½ tsp. each baking powder and salt
½ C. cold water

Cut Crisco into dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or food processor until well mixed.
Add water and mix well.

Filling:
3 T. flour
2 eggs
½ tsp each nutmeg and cinnamon
1 ½. C. sugar
1 T. butter/margarine
3 ½ C. cut-up rhubarb

Preheat oven to 400º. Blend flour, eggs, sugar, spices, and butter. Add rhubarb. Fit bottom crust into a 10” pie plate and pour in the filling. Criss-cross/weave strips of dough on top. Sprinkle lightly with sugar, if desired. Bake 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350º and bake 25 more minutes.

Kitchen Hints: Placing strips of foil around the edge of the crust keeps it from getting too brown. Put the pie on a baking sheet to keep any run-over from burning on the bottom of your oven

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread

Dense and sweet, these loaves freeze well. Try a slice toasted!

2 C . sugar
3 eggs
1 C. oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 C. grated zucchini
2 C. whole wheat flour
1 C. white flour
1 T. cinnamon
¼ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 C. raisins or dried cranberries
1 C. chopped nuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 350º. In a mixing bowl, blend the sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Add zucchini and dry ingredients, mixing until just blended. Add fruit and nuts. Divide among three 8×4” sprayed bread pans and bake about an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the split in the top. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, and then cool completely on a rack.

Italian Zucchini Stew

A great way to use up zucchini when your garden explodes with it!

2 medium zucchini, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1 large can diced tomatoes with juice, OR 3-4 large fresh tomatoes, peeled and chunked
1 green or red bell pepper, seeded and diced
Italian seasoning, dill weed, salt, pepper, garlic powder, 2 bay leaves.

Place the veggies in a large skillet coated with nonstick spray; season to taste with the spices. Simmer over medium heat, covered, until veggies are soft. (You might need to add a little water or tomato juice if you use fresh tomatoes.) Remove bay leaves. Spoon into serving bowl and sprinkle generously with grated parmesan cheese. Serves 4.

Kitchen Hint: for a meal in a skillet, add a pound of browned, seasoned ground beef or Italian bulk sausage, or cooked chicken.

Orange Knots

Fragrant, light and sweet…is it time for breakfast yet?

1 T. or pkg. yeast
¼ C. warm water
1 C. warm milk

1/3 C. sugar
1/3 C. butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
¼ C. orange juice
2 T. grated fresh orange peel
5 ¼-5 ¾ C. flour

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in the water. Add milk, sugar, butter/margarine, eggs, juice, and peel along with 3 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth, then add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, then place in a greased bowl (turn the dough to grease the top). Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 2 hours, using regular yeast).

Punch dough down; roll into a 16×10” rectangle and cut 10 strips on the 10” side.

Roll and tie each in a knot. Place on a sprayed baking sheet and tuck the ends under. Cover with a towel and let rise about 30 minutes. Bake at 400º for 10 minutes or until golden. Cool and drizzle with frosting.

Frosting: 1 C. powdered sugar, 2 T. orange juice, 1 tsp. grated fresh orange peel.

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Pie

Cinnamon adds subtle richness to an everyday dessert!

2 pkgs. cook-and-serve chocolate pudding mix
1 ½ C. cold milk
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 9” graham cracker crust

Follow package directions for stovetop or microwave pudding, using only 1 ½ C. of milk. Cool pudding in the pan with wax paper or plastic pressed on the surface. Spoon into a 9” graham cracker crust and garnish with whipped topping and a shake of cinnamon.

Kitchen Hint: Sugar-free pudding mix and skim milk work just fine in this recipe.

Mamma’s Best Cinnamon Rolls

Who knew great bakery cinnamon rolls could start with a cake mix?!

2 T. or 2 pkgs. yeast
2 ½ C. warm water
1 box yellow cake mix
5-6 C. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 C. butter, melted

1/2 C. brown sugar

1 T. cinnamon

 

Dissolve yeast in the water for about 3 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, add yeast mixture to the cake mix, and one cup of the flour. Mix until bubbles appear, then slowly add the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, then place in a greased bowl, greasing the top of the dough. Cover the bowl and let dough rise until double (about an hour with regular yeast; 30 minutes with quick-rise).

Punch down, divide in two, then roll into 12×9” rectangles. Spread with melted margarine, then sprinkle all over with sugar and cinnamon. Roll the short sides like a jelly roll, pinch edges to seal, and cut each roll into 12 rounds. Place rolls in two sprayed 9×13” pans and let rise until double. Bake at 350º for 20-25 minutes.

Frosting: 2 C. powdered sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, 3T. melted margarine, 3T. milk or orange juice–enough to make it drizzly. Spread on the rolls while they’re hot.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

So moist you won’t miss the frosting. Try it as a coffeecake, too!

½ C. margarine
½ C. oil
1 ¾ C. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
½ C. buttermilk, sour cream or plain yogurt
2 ½ C. flour
¼ C. cocoa
1 tsp. each salt and soda
1 T. cinnamon
2 C. grated unpeeled zucchini
½ C. chopped nuts
1 C. chocolate chips
2 T. sugar

Preheat the oven to 325º. Cream the margarine, oil and sugar. Add eggs and then vanilla. Sift the dry ingredients together and add alternately with the buttermilk/sour cream/yogurt. Stir in the zucchini and spread in a sprayed 9×13” pan. Sprinkle with the sugar, nuts and chips. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Freezes well.

Sweet Zucchini Corn Muffins

Sweet and dense, these muffins accompany any meal–and they’re a great way to use up zucchini when your garden explodes with it.

2 ½ C. white flour
1 ½ C. yellow cornmeal
1 C. sugar*
1 T. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. each baking soda and salt
3 C. shredded/finely chopped zucchini
1/3 C. honey
1 C. oil
1 6 oz. carton lemon yogurt*
4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350º. In a large bowl, stir the dry ingredients together and then stir in the zucchini. In a small bowl, blend the honey, oil, yogurt and eggs, and then stir them into the flour mixture until well moistened. Spoon into muffin tins and bake 12-15 minutes, or just until tops are set. Leave in pans about 10 minutes and then cool muffins on a rack. Makes 2 dozen.

*Kitchen Hint: You can substitute ½ C. Splenda Baking mix for the sugar and use nonfat yogurt.

Lemon Icebox Pie

Sweet yet tart, this easy pie makes a refreshing summer dessert.

1 10” graham cracker crust
Egg white (from an egg, below), slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 325º. Brush the crust with egg white and bake 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the filling:

2 cans sweetened condensed milk
5 egg yolks
½ C. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 C. bottled lemon juice

With a whisk or fork, blend the condensed milk and egg yolks until smooth. Stir in sugar, vanilla and lemon juice until well blended. Pour into crust and bake at 300º for 20 minutes or until center is set. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate several hours or overnight. Garnish with whipped cream or whipped topping.

For key lime pie: Substitute bottled key lime juice for the lemon juice.

Kitchen Hint: Use those extra egg whites in a healthy veggie omelette to serve with Sweet Zucchini Corn Muffins.

Mamma’s Sky-High Biscuits

A little whole grain makes these healthier and very satisfying! Makes about 15, depending on the size of your cutter.

2 C. white flour
1 C. whole wheat flour
4 ½ tsp. baking powder
2 T. sugar
½ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. cream of tartar
¾ C. butter/margarine
1 egg
1 C. milk

Preheat oven to 425º. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and cut in the butter/margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg and milk , stirring quickly to blend, then knead dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll to a 1” thickness and cut with a 1-2” biscuit cutter (or use a drinking glass dipped in flour). Place on a parchment-papered cookie sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned.

Kitchen Hint: You can do all the mixing in a food processor! Faster and easier! You can freeze them, too.

Smothered Hash Browns

A meal in a pan! Add other fresh veggies like zucchini, broccoli, or chopped carrots for variety.

1 pkg. frozen hash browns, thawed, OR Simply Potatoes
Dill weed, garlic powder, salt and pepper
1 onion, sliced
1 red or green bell pepper (or combo of both), in bite-sized chunks
4-5 large fresh mushrooms (or 1 can of mushrooms)
2 C. diced ham OR 1 lb. bulk sausage, cooked and drained
1 small jar Cheez Whiz

Preheat the oven to 350º. Brown the potatoes in about 1 T. oil in a nonstick skillet, seasoning to taste.Spread in a sprayed 9×13” pan and set aside. Simmer the veggies in ¼ C. water until nearly cooked, season to taste, and stir in the meat. Spoon this mixture over the potatoes and then spoon the cheese over all, spreading it as it melts. Cover and bake about 20 minutes or until heated through. Serves 3-5.

Cherry Pie Salad

Make this in your prettiest glass bowl!

1 can cherry pie filling
1 20-oz. can crushed pineapple
2 3-oz. boxes cherry gelatin
1 C. boiling water
1 6-oz container cherry vanilla yogurt
1 C. whipped topping

Pour pie filling and undrained pineapple into serving bowl and stir. Mix the gelatin into the water until dissolved, then stir into the fruit. Chill until firm. Mix the yogurt and whipped topping and spread on the salad. Cover and chill.

Kitchen Hint: Yep, light pie filling and sugar-free gelatin are just as good in this recipe, too. Substitute other flavors of pie filling, gelatin, and yogurt, too.

Frog-Eye Fruit Salad

Acini de Pepe pasta gives this sweet, creamy salad its unusual “frog eye” texture. It’s so yummy you can serve it as a salad, or spoon it into dessert cups! Serves 15-20.

1 ¼ C. Acini de pepe pasta
1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple
1 20 oz. can pineapple tidbits
1 T. flour
2 beaten eggs
1 C. sugar
1 large or 2 small cans Mandarin oranges
1 large jar marachino cherries
2 C. whipped topping

Boil the acini de pepe in water; drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: drain the pineapple tidbits and squeeze the juice from the crushed pineapple; put fruit aside. Pour 1 ¾ C. of the pineapple juice into a medium pan, whisk in the flour, eggs and sugar and then simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick. Set this aside to cool.

Drain the oranges and cherries; halve the cherries. Put these with the pineapple and chill. Mix the sauce into the pasta in a large bowl and chill several hours/overnight. A few hours before serving, stir the fruit into the pasta mixture and fold in the whipped topping.
(Try not to eat half of it before you share it with anyone else!)

Cucumber-Onion Salad

Tangy-sweet, crunchy-fresh—and it keeps for several days in the fridge!

2-3 firm cucumbers, peeled
1 or 2 medium onions, peeled
1C. white vinegar
½ C. vegetable or canola oil
½ C. water
½ C. sugar*
1 tsp each: salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, dill

Slice the cukes and onions into a large bowl, alternating layers (a half-gallon plastic ice cream container works well, too). In a large jar with a lid, pour the vinegar, oil, water, sugar and the seasonings and shake vigorously. Pour over the veggies, stir a bit to distribute the liquid, and cover. Chill thoroughly.

*Kitchen Hint: You can use Splenda or ¼ C. Splenda Baking Mix instead of sugar.

You can also use this dressing (even what’s left over from the cukes/onions) to make Marinated Veggie Salad: slice carrots, celery, radishes, onions, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower—whatever you love!—into a bowl, pour in the liquid, and chill for several hours. Looks pretty layered in a glass bowl.

Stuffed Peppers

Feeds a hungry bunch and looks especially festive in red pepper shells—or alternate red and green peppers in the pan!

6-8 large bell peppers
2 lbs. lean ground beef
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder
1 small onion, diced
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 10-oz. can Rotel tomatoes with green chiles
1 pouch precooked, seasoned rice OR 2 C. cooked rice
1 can or jar spaghetti sauce, any variety
About 4 C. shredded cheddar cheese

Cut the peppers in half lengthwise; seed and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the beef and onions, seasoned to taste, and drain. Return this to the skillet and add the tomatoes; simmer 5 minutes. Mix in the rice. Stir in about half the spaghetti sauce.

Preheat oven to 350º. Fill the pepper halves with meat mixture, spoon some spaghetti sauce over each, and bake in a foil-covered pan about 45 minutes. Remove the foil, top each portion with cheese, and return to oven until cheese is melted.

Kitchen Hint: 6 peppers/12 halves fit nicely into a 9×13” pan but I usually have meat mixture left, so I fill another pepper or two and bake these separately to freeze for later. You can fill the peppers a day ahead and keep them covered in the fridge, too.

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