Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 203 other subscribers

Archive for the ‘Sweets Things’ Category

postheadericon Old-fashioned Large Pearl Tapioca Pudding

My Dad was not a simple man in many respects.  As a young boy, he quit school and went to work to help support his family which included his parents, three brothers, and a sister, Pop being the youngest child in the family. He did odd jobs, including working in the local butcher shop which not only earned him some money to take home, but some things, like offal, to help feed the family.

He enlisted in the Army in WWII, saw combat with Company B, 310th Medical Battalion attached to the 338th Infantry Regiment (“Custer”) on the Fifth Army front in Italy and was the recipient of the Bronze Star for heroic achievement in action. Upon return home, he did what many men in the Coal Region did — got married and went into the mines.

A near fatal injury from falling rock in a bootleg mine in the 50s ended his days underground, but coal and the Coal Region were in his blood; he bought a tractor-trailer and hauled coal from Schuylkill County breakers to Philadelphia and New York City five days a week. When road taxes and operating expenses became too much of a burden, he sold the truck to “get away from coal”. Just months later, he fund himself once again involved with it and mining, only this time it was above-ground, driving massive Euclid trucks (“Yukes”) for a local breaker.

Although he tried at times, he was never truly able to escape the grasp Anthracite had on him. It followed him to his grave in 1989, after years of him fighting for breath as Black Lung ravaged this strong, hard-working, intelligent, loving man I am so proud to have had as a father. I know this world would be so much better off if only there were more like him.

One of Dad’s favorite things was tapioca pudding, but he only liked the large pearl tapioca. Many times in restaurants in the Coal Region, this pudding would be on the dessert menu, but he always grilled the waitress as to whether it was the “real” (pearl) tapioca or “that other stuff” (instant or quick-cook variety).  Mom often made it at home for him, and I remember helping her  measure it out and put it in a bowl to soak. To this day, I never look at this recipe without seeing Pop, sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying a big bowl of this pudding.

Dad’s birthday is May 25th, in memory of him, I am posting this recipe today. I hope you enjoy it as much as he did.

This simple homemade tapioca pudding, is creamy and rich, and filled with slightly chewy pearls of tapioca. Although simple to make, the pearl tapioca requires several hours soaking time, so plan accordingly. Don’t try to rush the soaking process or skimp on soaking time! The tapioca pearl are cooked when they become translucent with a dot of cloudy center remaining. The pudding may seem runny immediately after cooking, it thickens upon cooling. Do not use instant or quick-cook varieties of tapioca for this recipe.

 

Old-fashioned Large Pearl Tapioca Pudding

Old-fashioned Large Pearl Tapioca Pudding

Old-fashioned Pearl Tapioca Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup large pearl tapioca (not instant or quick-cook varieties)
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Place tapioca pearls in a bowl and fill with water. Swish the pearls around, drain, refill the bowl with water and allow the pearls to sit 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain the tapioca after the soak and set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan mix milk, salt, and 3/4 cup sugar. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Add the drained tapioca when the milk starts to bubble around the edges of the pan.
  4. Simmer 25 minutes or until tapioca pearls are mostly clear, stirring frequently to avoid sticking and scorching.
  5. .In a small bowl, beat eggs with remaining 3/4 cup sugar.
  6. Temper the eggs by slowly adding and stirring some (about half) of the hot mixture into them.
  7. Add the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan and stir well.
  8. Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir constantly for 2 minutes or until mixture is thick.
  9. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  10. Transfer to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap allowing it to rest directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a "skin" from forming on the top.
  11. May be served slightly warm or chilled.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/05/16/old-fashioned-large-pearl-tapioca-pudding/

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on LinkedInDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page

postheadericon Mozhee (or Moche)

Mozhee (aka Moshee, Moche, Mozhy among others; meaning molasses related), a hard molasses candy, is a Coal Region favorite often sold at bake sales and fundraisers. It always seems to sell out quickly and people often request the recipe here. Many people fondly remember their grandmother or mother making it. It can be poured in a flat pan and broken in pieces to eat once hardened or, as was popular for bake sales, poured into muffin tins making “individual” pieces that could be easily wrapped and sold. You can keep it plain or sprinkle it with chopped walnuts, peanuts, shredded coconut or a mixture of them to your liking.

Back in “the day”, folks often got their molasses at the company or general store. It would be in a large barrel; the cook would take an empty jar to the store where it would be filled with molasses from the barrel – hence “barrel molasses”. Today’s equivalent would be unsulphured baking molasses (not blackstrap molasses).

I have two Mozhee recipes and will share them both with you. One is an old recipe that lists “barrel molasses” as an ingredient which will yield a stronger flavored candy (some people find it a bit bitter), the other is from a Pa Dutch cookbook and uses table syrup (like King’s Table Syrup or Turkey Brand Table Syrup) which yields a milder tasting candy. I will include both versions in this post. The basic method of preparation is similar for either.

Mozhee needs to be cooked to what is known in the candy making world as the “hard crack” stage – 300 to 310 F degrees.  Brittles and lollipops are made from syrup heated to the hard crack stage. As a sugar syrup is cooked, water boils away, the sugar concentration increases, and the temperature rises. The highest temperature that the sugar syrup reaches tells you what the syrup will be like when it cools.  If you are not experienced at candy making (and even if you are…), I HIGHLY suggest investing in a candy thermometer and using it. It can be your best friend and help eliminate “goofs” due to incorrect cooking. To use the thermometer, stand it upright in the candy syrup so the bulb is completely immersed in the liquid. Do not let the bulb touch the bottom of the pan. Clip it in place.

If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can still make candy from sugar syrups by using the cold-water method to test the stage. During the cooking stage, remove your pan from the heat and drop a small spoonful of sugar syrup into a bowl of very cold water. Immerse your hand in the cold water, try to form the sugar into a ball, and bring it out of the water. By examining the shape and texture of the resulting candy blob, you can determine the approximate temperature of your sugar. This method takes a little practice, and is not as exact as a candy thermometer, but it will do in a pinch! For ””hard crack” stage which is what the mozhee needs to reach, the  hot syrup will form brittle threads in the cold water and will crack if you try to mold it. I had no picture of the actual mozhee and apologize, but found one that resembles the Mozhee (sorry – I did the best I could…).

Mozhee (or Moche)

Mozhee (or Moche)

Mozhee (Hard Molasses Candy)

Ingredients

    Mozhee #1
    Ingredients
  • 1 cup "barrel" molasses (today = unsulphured mild baking molasses; not blackstrap molasses)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla
  • 1/8 lb. butter
  • Walnuts, peanuts, coconut (all optional)
    Method
  • Combine first three ingredients in a heavy saucepan or No.10 cast iron frying pan, stirring until dissolved and then stirring occasionally until the mixture forms a hard "crack" stage (300 to 310F degrees on a candy thermometer). Reduce heat, add vanilla and butter. Mix thoroughly. Pour into buttered pie pans sprinkled with nuts and/or coconut if you desire. Allow to harden, break into pieces to eat.
    Mozhee #2
    Ingredients
  • 1 lb light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup King’s Syrup or Turkey Table Syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Optional – chopped English walnuts, chopped peanuts, and/or shredded coconut
    Method
  • Combine sugar, molasses, butter and water in a heavy 2 or 3 quart saucepan. Cook until a brittle thread forms in cold water, or use a candy thermometer and heat to 300 to 310. Remove from heat.
  • Add vanilla. Pour into well greased muffin tins, about ¼ inch high or into buttered pie pans sprinkled with nuts and/or coconut, if desired.
  • Makes 20 to 24 muffin sized pieces.
  • When cool, pop out of tins and wrap in waxed paper. To eat: smack candy against hard surface to crack into bite-sized pieces.

Instructions

http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/04/30/mozhee-or-moche/

 

 

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on LinkedInDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page

postheadericon Mom’s Homemade Easter Eggs

In the Coal Region, churches and organizations turn out tens of thousands of handmade candy Easter eggs, selling them to raise much needed funds.  It is tradition among many families to make their own eggs, too. Every one who makes them usually likes their recipe best and in my family, it was no different. Over the years, I have had many handmade eggs at Easter – from far and wide – but Mom’s eggs always were – and always will be – MY favorite.  Nothing said Easter was nearing in my house like seeing the makings for these eggs come into the kitchen with that week’s “store order” (grocery shopping)

Mom called these “peanut butter” eggs, but always used some fresh, finely grated coconut in them (which Dad cracked, peeled, and grated). She never varied the ingredients. She never made other filling flavors. To this day, THESE are what homemade Easter eggs are measured against in my mind.

Mom always used her hands for mixing the filling – no electric mixer for her!  She could easily tell by touch whether or not the mix needed any adjustments to bring it to a creamy consistency that rolled nicely but did not stick to your hands. Mom and I always made Easter eggs together at our kitchen table when I was a kid and I can remember finding it amusing watching her start out with “Frankenstein hands”  as the filling was super mushy at the start but came together and rolled itself off her fingers as she added the powdered sugar.

I perched on the edge of that chrome and yellow vinyl chair just waiting to get the first teeny ball Mom would roll and hand to me, her “official taste tester”.  I thought I called the shots as to whether they were firm enough or not and, to be honest, knew immediately they were just right but always “needed” a couple more tastes “to make sure”!

Once the mixture was ready, out came the wax paper-lined cookie sheets and she and I set to work pinching off lumps of filling and doing our best to form them into acceptable, two-bite-sized, egg-like shapes. My Dad had some kind of built in detector that let him know the eggs were at the point of going into the refrigerator to set overnight before dipping and he never failed to show up when we were otherwise distracted, snag a few naked eggs for snacking, and disappear again. The only evidence of his thievery was the glaring empty spaces left on the trays among the carefully placed and spaced rows of eggs.

When it came time to dip them, Mom chopped up blocks of semi-sweet baking chocolate (found in the baking aisle of the grocery) and a little bit of paraffin wax (I can close my eyes today and see the box of “Gulf” wax sitting on the kitchen counter) which kept the chocolate shiny once it hardened, and melted them together on top of a double boiler. She would take a small amount of the naked rolled eggs from the refrigerator, snag each with a toothpick, dip the egg, deposit it onto another wax paper-lined tray and take a teaspoon and drop a tiny bit of the melted chocolate on to the hole left by the toothpick to seal it. The thin, semi-sweet coating perfectly offset the sweetness of the inside of the egg. The finished eggs were always stored in the refrigerator in a covered tin, resting layer upon layer, separated by rounds of wax paper. To this day, my favorite way to eat these eggs is ice cold from the fridge, the bite into it taking me back to Easters many decades ago in that kitchen in the Coal Region.

If you make these, you might want to coat them using what many people favor today and I use – candy coating wafers which are widely available in cake and candy making supply stores and many supermarkets carry them around Easter. Using these wafers will yield a thicker chocolate coating on your egg than the semi-sweet baking chocolate method. The wafers are available in light, dark, and white along with flavors like peanut butter and also come in a rainbow of colors allowing you to get really creative with your decorating and flavor combos. I personally prefer Merckens brand. If the eggs get soft while you are dipping them, take only a few from the refrigerator at a time to dip.  I NEVER use baking chips to coat my eggs – the results for me are less than satisfactory in appearance and the quality of chips among brands varies wildly.

You can make bite-sized eggs or jumbo ones; the yield from the recipe will depend on how much filling you use for each egg.  Make sure you have sufficient powdered sugar available before starting the recipe, amounts needed can vary slightly depending on weather, peanut butter used, etc.  I use only Jif or Skippy traditional creamy peanut butter. I have found only these two give me consistent, quality results. If using bagged coconut, rather than fresh, I use unsweetened and give it a whirl in the food processor to break the shreds/flakes down into fairly fine pieces. And yes, you can skip the coconut altogether if you prefer; adjust your powdered sugar when mixing to get the right consistency.

Homemade Peanut Butter Easter Eggs

Homemade Peanut Butter Easter Eggs

Homemade Easter Eggs

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds confectioners' sugar (approximately - have extra in case needed)
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) salted butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces creamy peanut butter (Jif or Skippy)
  • 1 to 2 cups finely grated fresh coconut, to your taste (or store-bought unsweetened)
  • OR skip the coconut - you will need to adjust the amount of powdered sugar.
  • Coating wafers - the amount you need depends on how large you make the eggs; smaller eggs use up more coating chocolate. I buy a several pounds, there are lots of uses for extra if you have it..

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter (margarine) and cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  3. Add the coconut and mix well.
  4. Add the powdered sugar, starting with a couple cups, mix and continue to add powdered sugar as needed to get a soft filling that is not sticky and can be rolled into egg shapes using your palms.
  5. Form egg shaped balls in desired size and place on lined cookie sheet(s).
  6. Cover and refrigerate several hours.
    To coat
  1. Melt coating wafers in top of double boiler; take care not to get any steam or water in chocolate or it will seize up.. Re-warm as needed.Stir the coating occasionally. Use fork to dip egg, tap off excess chocolate on rim of pan, drop egg onto lined pan to set.
  2. Store in refrigerator.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/04/16/moms-homemade-easter-eggs/

 

 

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on LinkedInDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page

postheadericon Italian Easter Rice Pie (Pastiera di Riso)

Every cook has their own version of this popular pie that appears on many tables in Italian-American homes in the Coal Region where large numbers of Italians settled as immigrants to America. Of the twenty-three million people who emigrated from foreign countries to live in the United States by the start of World War I, nearly five million were from Italy. (Lackawanna County in NE Pa. boasts one of the nation’s largest and most diverse Italian American populations.) Easter pie (pastiera) is found all over Italy, but its origins are Neapolitan where these pies with a tender, cookie-like crust filled with fresh ricotta cheese and rice and sweetened with sugar, were made in batches, wrapped in clear cellophane, and given away as Easter gifts.  Today, some cooks add chopped candied orange peel, citron, mixed fruits and/or chocolate chips to their pie, some do not. There is no “right” or “wrong” recipe – you should make it to suit your family’s tastes – every version is delicious!

Italian Easter Rice Pie

Yield: 2 pies

Italian Easter Rice Pie

Easter Rice Pie

Ingredients

    Pastry
  • 2-1/2 pounds flour (about 6 cups, as needed)
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup Cold Water
    Filling
  • 1/2 pound Long Grain or Arborio Rice
  • 2 cups Cold Water
  • 1 qt whole Milk, heated just to scalding
  • 1 - 1/2 cups Sugar
  • 1 pound Ricotta Cheese, well drained
  • 6 Large Eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Finely Chopped Candied Citron
  • Grated zest from 1/2 of a Large Orange

Instructions

    Pastry
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour and sugar, then cut in the butter until it looks like coarse corn meal.
  2. Add the water, a little at a time, just until it just forms a ball; you may not need to use all the water.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and quickly knead it once or twice, into a slightly flattened ball, but don't overwork dough.
  4. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill the dough, about an hour.
  5. Divide the chilled dough in two, and roll out each piece to fit a 9 inch, deep dish pie pan.
  6. If there is any dough leftover, roll and cut it into strips for a lattice top.
    Filling
  1. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 400F degrees.
  2. In a large saucepan, bring the water and rice to a boil, then gently boil on medium heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Drain the rice and return it to the saucepan with the heated milk. Cook on medium low heat for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add the sugar and ricotta, stirring well.
  5. Add the beaten egg, cinnamon, citron and orange peel. Mix well and pour into 2 prepared deep dish pie pans.
  6. Decorate the top with any extra dough strips to make a lattice top and flute the edge.
  7. Place the pies in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350 F degrees.
  8. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. It may be necessary to cover the edge with some foil if it is browning too quickly.
  9. Cool, chill, and cut into wedges to serve.

Notes

To chop the citron place it in food processor with some of the sugar for the filling. Process it until there are no large chunks, it should be fairly fine.

http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/04/14/italian-easter-rice-pie-pastiera-di-riso/

 

 

 

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on LinkedInDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page

postheadericon No Bake Krispy Date Balls

My Mom was a  homemaker/home health aid with clients in the Schuylkill County area. Many were elderly and looked forward to her visits far more for the companionship than the health care and homemaking services she provided. Some of the clients came and went quickly due to severe health issues, but some were long term. It is usually inevitable that people thankful for assistance and companionship grow close to their caregivers. My Mom experienced just that. She often chatted with clients and many times, their favorite recipes came up in conversation. Sometimes the particular food was the topic of discussion because it was on the counter or in the refrigerator at the client’s home at that time. Many of these folks were culinary treasurers from the previous generation and turned out some of the tastiest Coal Region comfort food around.

One day, Mom’s client had a little saucer of these snacks wrapped and ready for Mom to bring home for my Dad and I to try. One bite and I fell in love. I had just passed my test for my driver’s license and asked to take the car to the store so I could get the ingredients to make more. I used to make them so often, I knew the recipe from memory. As I thumb through my recipe file and see cards in my Mom’s handwriting, I realize I have only made these once since she passed away nearly 30 years ago. It is time to make them once again, I believe. Thinking about her carrying them home to us that day with the little bow on top no longer brings tears of grief from my eyes over losing her but brings a smile. That is always something to celebrate – and these sweet, chewy little gems are just the ticket to celebrate with!

Fast and easy to make with no baking (only a few minutes of stove top cooking required), you will find yourself turning to them when you want an easy snack or need a contribution to a potluck or bake sale.

No Bake Krispy Date Balls

No Bake Krispy Date Balls

Krispy Date Balls

Ingredients

  • 1 stick salted butter (1/4 pound)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 (8 oz.) package pitted chopped dates
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds
  • 2 cups crispy rice cereal (like Rice Krispies)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Shredded or finely grated coconut for rolling

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, melt butter and sugar over low heat.
  2. Add dates and boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Add nuts, crispy rice cereal, and vanilla.
  4. When cool enough to handle, form into bite-sized balls and roll in coconut.
  5. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/04/04/no-bake-krispy-date-balls/

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on LinkedInDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page

postheadericon Do Nothing Cake

My Mom always had some favorite “go-to” recipes that found themselves on the table at many family get-togethers or community events. She concentrated on foods that were easily transported, pleased a variety of palates, were budget friendly, and were not labor intensive. When called upon to provide a dessert, this cake was at the top of her list.  My Mom made this a gazillion times (ok, a LOT…) for many different occasions throughout the 60s and 70s.  I would hang out with her at our yellow vinyl and chrome kitchen table set not necessarily paying much attention to the creation of the cake but counting down the minutes until I could scrape the bowl and lick the spoon.  Mom would always intentionally leave some batter in the bowl rather than meticulously scrape it all into the baking pan “just because” I was “such a good helper”.

Although this cake was taken to many events, there is one that stands out in my 58 year old mind as if it were yesterday. Mom was a member of the local hosey’s (volunteer fire company) Ladies’ Auxiliary (back in the era when women could join the auxiliary of the organization and provide “support” and building and equipment fundraising help, but not be a member of the Fire Company itself…). The auxiliary met monthly at the hosey to discuss business (and keep up to date on neighborhood events and “happenings”) and each month it was the responsibility of that month’s “refreshment committee” to serve coffee and snacks at the official close of the meeting. I would often go with my Mom to the meeting and sit quietly at the bar doing homework or snacking on a piece of hot bologna, a 5 cent bag of Marsden’s potato chips, and a Coca Cola served in one of those little green glass bottles. When the meeting was over and refreshment time rolled around, I proudly took my place next to Mom at one of the long banquet tables while seated on a gunmetal gray folding chair that had the initials of the hosey stenciled on the rear of the backrest and told the ladies in attendance how “I helped bake the cake” Mom was serving. God love them; they smiled and nodded and made happy noises…and made my day. Of course, my chosen cake that evening out of the couple contributions available was always this one! Oh, Mom – how I miss my “baking buddy” and wish I could get you back, if even just for one minute.

This cake is very moist and makes an elegant treat for dinner guests, your family, or a potluck.  Make sure to poke plenty of holes in the cake top so the topping flows into the cake nicely. If transporting it, bake it in a disposable foil pan to safe the work of having to retrieve your cake pan later.

Do Nothing Cake

Ingredients

    Cake
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • 1 - 20 ounce crushed pineapple, un-drained
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    Topping
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine or butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan.
  3. Mix all cake ingredients in large bowl until just combined.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until cake just tests done (do not over-bake).
  5. Make topping while cake is baking.
    Topping
  1. In sauce pan, place margarine or butter, sugar, and evaporated milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until it bubbles, then cook 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut and nuts until blended.
  3. Poke holes across entire top of cake with skewer or a long-tine fork.
  4. Pour the warm topping over the still warm cake (the topping will ooze down through the holes you made.)
  5. Spread the topping to cover the entire top of cake.
  6. May be served slightly warm or completely cooled.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/03/30/do-nothing-cake/

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on LinkedInDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page

postheadericon Ambrosia (Salad)

A staple on many tables in Pennsylvania Dutch country and found at church events, pot lucks, and holiday dinners, Ambrosia was on the menu for my family’s Easter dinner; both my Mom and I adored it. Ambrosia literally means “food of the gods” but technically, it also means a dessert made with oranges and shredded pineapple.  And mini marshmallows.  Got to have the mini marshmallows!

Often found in the ready made salad sections of grocery store delis in the Pa Dutch/Coal Region, Mom and I would occasionally indulge ourselves by purchasing a container, but nothing tasted as good as the bowl of Ambrosia that we prepared together on Good Friday afternoon intended to be an accompaniment to our family’s Easter feast.

Even though Mom always used fresh coconut (cleaned and grated by my Dad) for a cake for Easter dinner dessert, she always bought a can of Baker’s sweetened shredded coconut for use in her Ambrosia recipe. Mom also always bought a larger jar of maraschino cherries than needed for the Ambrosia and set some aside in a little dish for my Dad to divert him away from snacking on the cherries draining in the colander that were destined for the salad.  Without fail, Dad would stride into the kitchen and spy the draining cherries, Mom would hand him the little dish to divert his attention and give me a look and grin that said, “There.  That’ll keep him busy!”

As big a fan as my Mom and I were of Ambrosia, the rest of our family had a “take it or leave it” attitude.  And that was a good thing, because as the time passed between the making of the bowl of Ambrosia and dinner after church on Easter Sunday, the level of Ambrosia in the bowl dropped dramatically. Apparently, both my Mom and I had the habit of sneaking a spoonful of Ambrosia out of the fridge periodically when we believed no one was looking. Once the level became dangerously low and it appeared the Ambrosia was in jeopardy of never making it to Easter dinner, Mom would dutifully put aside a little bowl she tucked in the back of the fridge so she and I could have a taste on Easter Sunday with our dinner.  Years later, Mom and I had many a laugh reminiscing about our stealth attacks on the Easter Ambrosia!

As the Easter season approaches, I think I will add this to the dinner menu in memory of my wonderful Mom.  I would move Heaven and earth to have one more minute with her again if I could.  Love you, Mom. And miss you like crazy.

NOTE: Nothing is carved in stone regarding the ingredients – feel free to leave out something you are not fond of and add something you are, if you desire. Toasting the coconut before adding it to the salad  raises this to another level as does toasting the nuts if using. Make sure the pineapple, mandarin oranges, and maraschino cherries are thoroughly drained to keep the light and fluffy texture from becoming watery. Add the mandarin slices last and fold in gently to minimize the segments breaking apart. An overnight chill in the fridge before serving allows the marshmallows to become soft. The addition of sour cream in Mom’s version of Ambrosia keeps the salad from being overly sweet due to the high fruit content.

Ambrosia (Salad)

Ambrosia (Salad)

Mom's Ambrosia

Ingredients

  • 1 - 8 ounce tub of whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 - 20 ounce can pineapple in its own juice, tidbits or crushed, drained well
  • 1 - 15 ounce can mandarin orange segments, drained well
  • 1 cup red or green seedless grapes, sliced in half
  • 1 - 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes (toasted if desired)
  • 1 - 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 - 10 ounce jar of maraschino cherry halves, drained well
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine whipped topping and sour cream.
  2. Add in coconut flakes and marshmallows.
  3. Fold in pineapple, grapes, and maraschino cherries and nuts (if using).
  4. Gently fold in mandarin oranges.
  5. Cover bowl and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight before serving.
  6. Keeps up to 3 days in refrigerator.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/02/26/ambrosia-salad/

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on LinkedInDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page

postheadericon Cool and Creamy Jello Pie

I love this pie and the recipe is a classic that has been around for a long time. It is so quick and easy you will find yourself wanting to experiment with other gelatin flavors; lemon, lime, orange, raspberry, peach – use your imagination. You can top it with additional whipped topping and garnish with fruit or serve it as is. You can choose to add fruit to the filling or not, it is up to you. If adding fruit, use a cup of small fruits or chopped pieces; make sure it is dry (fresh blueberries) or well drained (chopped canned peaches). This is a very family friendly recipe, quick to make, and kids love it.  This is a 3 or 4 ingredient dessert that is a welcomed light ending to any meal and is especially refreshing as the weather warms here in the Coal Region as spring approaches. Try it frozen in the hot summer months.

Cool and Creamy Jello Pie

Cool and Creamy Jello Pie

Jello Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, divided
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 pkg. (3 oz.) JELL-O Strawberry Flavor Gelatin
  • ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip Topping, thawed
  • 1 ready-to-use reduced-fat graham cracker or shortbread crust (6 oz.)

Instructions

  1. Slice 1 cup strawberries; refrigerate for later use. Chop remaining strawberries; set aside.
  2. Add boiling water to gelatin mix; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved.
  3. Add enough ice to cold water to measure 1 cup. Add to gelatin; stir until slightly thickened. Remove any unmelted ice.
  4. Whisk in COOL WHIP. Stir in chopped strawberries. Refrigerate 20 to 30 min. or until mixture is very thick and will mound. Spoon into crust.
  5. Refrigerate 6 hours or until firm. Top with sliced berries just before serving.

Notes

You may use any flavor gelatin and add appropriate fruit to the filling.

http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/02/24/cool-and-creamy-jello-pie/

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on LinkedInDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page

postheadericon Coconut Dusted Cake with Cooked Frosting

When I was a kid in the 60s and 70s, every holiday had its ritual in my family. Easter was no exception. Every year, without fail, Mom and I went shopping for an Easter outfit for me, complete with requisite frilly hat and often, given the penchant for the Coal Region to spew forth unseasonably cool weather around Easter, a coat (lookout Sears, Robert Hall, and Town and Country, here we come!). An order was placed with our church for a potted lily which would join dozens of other pots lined up on the altar Easter morning with cards attached to a lilac bow inscribed with the names of deceased loved ones the flowers honored. Two dozen eggs were bought and stored in the refrigerator early (because eggs that are not ultra fresh peel easier when hard-boiled, don’tcha know…) awaiting their bath in Paas egg dye which magically produced lovely bowls of color in which to dip those eggs by dropping a little tablet of fizz into a bowl of combined vinegar and water.  My favorite Easter basket came out of the attic along with the colorful cardboard bunny and egg cutout decorations that were taped to the inside surface of the picture window in the front “parlor” of our house. Evidence of tape from previous years were always clearly visible on those poor, overused decorations, but I loved them. Local hoseys (volunteer fire companies or “hose companies”), clubs, and organizations planned and held Easter egg hunts for children in their towns. It was no holds barred when the signal was given to “Go!” and dozens of kids, running in all different directions, turned over every leaf and looked under every shrub, hoping to find not only an egg, but a numbered egg which denoted a prize.  Oh, to be the lucky one in your age group to uncover and snag the egg marked with a “1”. More often than not, that number corresponded to a ginormous chocolate bunny that was coveted by every kid in attendance.  Numbers “2” and “3” also brought prizes, but oh how they paled in comparison to “1”! During the shopping trip to the local A & P for the supplies for our family’s Easter feast, my Mom would place a fresh coconut in the cart which would come home to be used for her favorite cake which she made every year for Easter dinner without fail. Once home, I would plant myself on a chair at the kitchen table and watch my Dad set to work on the coconut. Mom always told Dad she left the prep work of them to him because he was so proficient at it, but I think she preferred to get through the experience with unscathed knuckles. Dad stood at the sink, a coconut sitting on a tea towel in his left hand, a hammer in his right. With a confident swing of the hammer, and a resounding “thwaaack” the coconut split open and the water from inside poured into the sink.  Dad then separated the meat from the hard shell,  picked up the peeler and removed the brown “skin” from the creamy white coconut meat. Out came the box grater and he grated every bit of that coconut by hand, somehow managing not to scrape his knuckles even as each piece became smaller and smaller as he worked.  Perfect! Even though my child’s mind was convinced otherwise  there was nothing magical about the freshly grated coconut and, over the years, I have made this cake using store bought shredded coconut and it was delicious. I now realize the memories, the traditions, and the love in our family is what made those coconuts and the cake lovingly created with them so special.  If you can get fresh coconut to use, go for it. If not, flaked or grated commercially prepared will work just as well.  If you are not a fan of coconut, leave it off, the cake and frosting are delicious on their own. This icing is not overly sweet and is light and smooth. This recipe is in my files in my Mom’s handwriting and has been around longer that I have been.

Coconut Dusted Cake with Cooked Frosting

Coconut Dusted Cake with Cooked Frosting

Coconut Dusted Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup softened butter and shortening (about half and half)
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
    Icing
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

    Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Grease and flour 2 - 9 inch layer cake pans.
  3. In bowl, cream sugar and butter/shortening until light and creamy.
  4. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well blended.
  5. Stir together flour and baking powder in small bowl.
  6. Add the milk and flour mixture, alternating, ending with the flour mixture. Beat until well blended and smooth.
  7. Divide cake mix evenly in pans, bake on center oven rack until top springs back when pressed or cake tester comes out clean. (Mom never wrote down the baking time, and I am embarrassed to say I never did either. I check by sight and cake tester. I would start watching them at 20 minutes or so.)
  8. Cool in pans 15 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool completely.
  9. Once cool. place one layer on plate, frost top, place second layer on top, frost top and sides.
  10. Sprinkle coconut on top and/or sides.
    Icing
  1. Place Flour in small saucepan and whisk in milk until smooth.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
  4. In mixing bowl, place the butter, shortening, sugar and salt and beat with mixer until light, beat in the vanilla, then add the cooled milk/flour mixture and beat until smooth and fluffy.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/02/18/coconut-dusted-cake-with-cooked-frosting/

 

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on LinkedInDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page

postheadericon Baked Paczki (Polish Doughnuts)

As the Easter season approaches, many of us in the Coal Region look to tradition for our final indulgences in foods that were often abstained from during the Lenten season.  The day before the start of Lent, known as “Fat Tuesday” (or Shrove Tuesday) in many regions is often referred to as “Donut Day” or “Fasnacht Day” in the Pa Dutch and Coal Regions. Due to our heavy influence of Eastern European cultures and immigrants, it is also known as “Paczki Day” in many Polish households. As with other cultures in our region, the making of paczki is traditionally a way to use up all of the fat, sugar, and fruit in the house–things that are forbidden during the strict Polish Lenten season. In Poland, Paczki Day, the day when all of the last paczki are consumed, is the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. In the USA, Paczki Day is the day before Ash Wednesday. The difference between these and a basic doughnut is that paczki are made with a very rich, sweet yeast dough consisting of eggs, butter and milk. Sort of like a brioche doughnut. Traditionally, paczki are fried in hot fat, but many people either do not have the kitchen equipment to deep fry, or they prefer not to do so due to health or safety concerns. This is a recipe for BAKED paczki that are just as delicious as their fried counterparts and baking them gives you a great kid-friendly recipe and opportunity to involve the younger members of the household in the process to introduce them to family traditions! Paczki can be filled with a variety of fruit jams or cremes, but the most traditional filling is a stewed plum jam or rose hip jam. The easiest way to fill these is to use a pastry bag fitted with a Bismarck Tip. If you do not have a bag/tip, you can cut a slit in the side of the baked dough and spoon in some jam. Fill with your favorite fruit preserve or even lemon curd or custard. Baked paczki last longer than fried, but are still best consumed the day they are made.

Baked Paczki (Polish Doughnuts)

Baked Paczki (Polish Doughnuts)

Baked Paczki (Polish Donuts)

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups warm milk (105 to 110 degrees F)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) room-temperature butter
  • 1 large room-temperature egg
  • 3 large room-temperature egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon brandy (or rum)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4-1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • Optional: Granulated sugar, Confectioners' sugar, and fruit paste or jam for filling

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl or measuring cup, add yeast to warm milk, stir to dissolve and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in egg, egg yolks, brandy or rum and salt until well incorporated.
  3. Still using the paddle attachment, add 4-1/2 cups flour alternately with the milk-yeast mixture and beat for five or more minutes by machine and longer by hand until smooth. The dough will be very slack. If very soft or runny, add up to the remaining 1/2 cup flour.
  4. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk approximately 1-1/2 to 2 -1/2 hours. Punch down, cover and let rise again.
  5. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Pat or roll to 1/2 to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut rounds with 3-inch cutter. Remove scraps, and re-roll and re-cut. Transfer rounds to parchment-lined baking sheets, cover and let rounds rise until doubled in bulk, 30 minutes or longer.
  6. Heat oven to 375F degrees.
  7. Place pączki in the oven on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until toothpick tests clean when inserted into center.
  8. Remove from oven and roll in granulated sugar while still hot or confectioners' sugar when cool.
  9. To fill the pączki, let them cool completely then pipe or spoon in filling.
  10. Baked pączki are best eaten the day they are made.
http://www.acoalcrackerinthekitchen.com/2019/02/14/baked-paczki-polish-doughnuts/

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on LinkedInDigg thisEmail this to someonePrint this page