Apple Dumplings


Apple dumplings are a favorite dessert during Fall. This recipe for also includes a recipe for a lemon custard sauce to serve over the dumplings. The recipe comes from a booklet published in 1945 by the Pillsbury flour company. The title of the booklet is “Bake The No-Knead Way.” None of the recipes in the book require kneading but are otherwise very traditional.

The recipe is unusual because the apples are wrapped in a yeast dough instead of a biscuit or pastry dough. The apples are peeled, cored and the cavity filled with sugar, nuts, raisins and cinnamon. They are placed on squares of the yeast dough, wrapped, sealed and baked.

The method of making apple dumplings was brought to the Americas by settlers from Europe. Fruit dumplings were made in all countries from ancient times. Apples grew well in the Americas and the housewives of the new land used the fruit to make many of the same types of dishes that had been popular in their homelands.

In the 1800s housewives used their large batches of yeast bread dough for making baked goods other than loafs of bread. They would take some of the raised dough to make pancakes, muffins, rolls, doughnuts and other fried breads, coffeecakes, dumplings to serve with stews and many other items. Recipes from that time period often say to take so much of a raised bread dough and then work in eggs, butter, sugar and other ingredients depending on what was being made.

Apple Dumplings

The recipe will serve 8. The sauce recipe makes 2 cups of sauce.

Apple Dumplings

Ingredients

  • 1 package of dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast)
  • 1/2 cup of lukewarm water (body temperature)
  • 1/3 cup of shortening, melted (butter or margarine can be used)
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of chopped nuts
  • 1/4 cup of raisins
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 8 apples, peeled and cored
  • Butter

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degree F. Grease a baking pan that is large enough to hold the apples.

Pour the lukewarm water into a mixing bowl. Add the yeast and blend. Add the shortening, sugar and salt. Blend in the egg. Add the 2 cups of flour and work in well.

Lightly flour a work surface, the ball of dough and a rolling pin. Roll the dough out about an 1/8 inch thick. Cut the rolled dough into 8 six inch squares.

Combine the brown sugar, nuts, raisins and the cinnamon in a bowl. Sit an apple in the center of each dough square. Fill the cavities of the apples with the filling mixture. Dot the top of the filling with a generous teaspoon of butter. Moisten the edges of the dough squares with water. Bring the corners of the dough together over the apples and seal all edges. Place the dough wrapped apples in a greased baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap or foil. Let rise in a warm place free of drafts for 45 minutes.

Bake the pan of apples in a 350 degree F. oven for 1 hour. Cool before serving. Serve with Lemon Custard Sauce.

Lemon Custard Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons of grated lemon rind
  • 1 egg

Directions

Beat the egg in a small bowl. Combine the other ingredients in a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens and become transparent. Blend a little (about 14 cup or so) of the hot mixture into the beaten egg to temper it. Pour the egg mixture into the mixture in the sauce pan and cook and stir another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a serving dish or a sauce pitcher.

Notes

If you add a teaspoon of lemon juice to the dough it will make it easier to roll out.

Another way to use this recipe is to peel, core and chop the apples. Stir the apple pieces together with the filling ingredients. Place the mixture on the squares of dough, moisten the edges and fold them in half to form turnovers. Seal the edges well. Rise and bake the same as the dumplings. Serve with the lemon sauce or a glaze made with powdered sugar, a bit of milk and vanilla or lemon extract. They would be nice to serve with breakfast or brunch.

The dough can be used for other items such as savory turnovers filled with meats or cheese, crust for quiche and crust for pot pies. It could be used for tarts. The dough recipe can be easily doubled.

Pears can be used for this recipe. Soft fruits could be used but they would not need to bake as long.

Use your favorite nuts in the recipe. Walnuts are traditional for apple dumplings.

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Easy Fruit Pie


Easy fruit pie takes about an hour to put together and bake. The pie dough is patted into the pan instead of rolled and it is topped with a crumb topping made of pie dough, sugar and spice instead of a traditional rolled top crust. The pie crust is filled with a can of commercial fruit pie filling.

The advantages of this type of pie dough is there is no need to roll out the dough, no need to rest the dough in the refrigerator before rolling and no need to cover most of your kitchen and yourself with clouds of flour in the process. You could use fresh fruit or berries mixed with flour or cornstarch and spices instead of canned pie filling.

I began making ‘pat in the pan’ pie crusts years ago, not long after we moved into this tiny apartment. There is no room in the closet of a kitchen here to roll out a pie crust. All attempts failed. I like crust on top of fruit pie so I had to come up with some way of getting that without the need to roll out the dough. I’m sure other cooks have done the same.

Peach Pie

The recipe makes one 9 to 10 inch pie. It will serve 6 to 8 depending on the size of the slices.

Easy Fruit Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/3 plus vegetable oil
  • Cold water
  • 1 can of commercial fruit or berry pie filling
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Other spices if desired

Directions

Heat the oven to 425 degree F. Use a 9 to 10 inch metal pie pan. If you use a glass pie pan heat the oven to 400 degree F.

Measure the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the salt, sugar and baking powder. Mix with a spoon. Slowly pour in the vegetable oil beginning with 1/3 cup. Add half that amount of oil again (I would guess it’s about 2 to 3 tablespoons). Stir while adding the oil. Drizzle in small amounts (teaspoon at a time) of cold tap water while stirring. When the dough begins to come together while still crumbly stop adding water. Form the dough into a ball. Use 2/3 of the dough for the pie crust. Reserve 1/3 for the topping.

Take the 2/3 portion of pie dough and form into a flatted ball. Put it in the bottom of the pie pan. Beginning in the center press and work the dough out to the sides of the pan. Press it thin in the bottom of the pan and begin working the dough up the sides of the pan. Keep it thin. It should reach the edge of the pan and maybe a `1/4 inch above that.

Flute the edge of the dough around the top of the pan. Pour in the canned pie filling evenly over the crust.

Chop the dough left in the mixing bowl with a spoon or with a pastry cutter. Add the sugar and cinnamon to that and mix well. It should be very crumbly. Cover the top of the pie filling with the crumb mixture.

Lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the top of the pie to keep the crust from burning. Bake the pie for 45 minutes. Remove it from the oven and remove the foil. Allow the pie to cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Notes

The same pie dough can be used for pie shells. Use 1 cup of flour, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon sugar and 3/4 teaspoon baking powder. Add water in small amounts. How much water is needed depends on the moisture content of the flour which varies.

The same method works with shortening and butter pie crust dough. Use half shortening or lard and half butter. The fat should be cold before working into the pie dough.

My mother used a Betty Crocker pie crust recipe that used oil instead of shortening. She rolled it out between sheets of wax paper. That way no extra flour was added. Her pie crusts were always good but they took a heck of a lot of time.

To make a canned fruit filling taste more like homemade stir in a teaspoon of lemon juice and add some spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or cloves. Apple pie spice can be used.

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Quick Sweet Rolls


These quick sweet rolls are great served with breakfast or beside a cup of tea or coffee later in the day. The rolls take about 30 minutes from mixing bowl to oven. The top center of each roll is filled with a spoon of jelly or jam. The rolls are drizzled with a powdered sugar glaze as soon as the4y come from the oven.

The sign of a good recipe is how well your family enjoys it. This one passed with flying colors. He who works had three in one sitting. Then he asked if I had plenty of supplies to make another batch.

Sweet rolls are traditional for breakfasts and brunches. They are often served late in the afternoon along with coffee or tea or when unexpected company calls.

This recipe will make 8 rolls each about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

Quick Sweet Roll

Quick Sweet Rolls

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cup os milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup or so of Jelly or jam
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • Vanilla

Directions

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F and lightly grease a sheet cake pan.

Measure the flour, baking powder, salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar into a mixing bowl. Mix to blend. Drop in the butter and using a pastry blender work the butter into the dry ingredients until it looks like course crumbs.

Pour the cold milk into a measuring cup and add the egg. Beat lightly with a fork and pour into the dry ingredients. Mix well with a mixing spoon and then beat by hand 20 strokes. Using a large spoon or 1/4 cup measuring cup drop portions of the dough onto the prepared pan. There should be 8 mound of dough.

Fill a small glass with water. Use the teaspoon from your measuring spoon set and dip in water then press the back side of it into the center of each mound of dough to make an indentation for the jelly. Fill each depression with a spoon of jelly or jam.

Bake the rolls at 425 degree F for 15 minutes.

While the rolls are baking prepare the glaze. Mix the 2/3 cup powdered sugar with a few drops of vanilla and the tablespoon of water. Stir until smooth. As soon as the rolls are removed from the oven drizzle the glaze over each.

Allow the rolls to cool before serving. The jelly or jam will be very hot.

Notes

If you have no butter or margarine you can use cooking oil but the texture will not be the same.

Other fillings can be used. Lemon curd, berry pie filling, nuts and spice, chocolate chip, cheese or almost anything you can think of.

Nuts can be sprinkled on top of the rolls as soon as the glaze is drizzled on so they will cling to the rolls.

Ground or chopped nuts could be mixed into the dough.

The same dough can be poured into a 13x10x2 inch baking pan and a tablespoon used to make 8 dents in the top of the dough. Fill with pie filling or stewed fruit and bake at 425 degree F if a metal pan, 400 degree F if glass, and drizzle with glaze. Cut apart into 8 squares to serve.

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Zwiebelkuchen or Onion Cake


Zwiebelkuchen is onion cake in German. It is a main dish traditionally served in late summer and early Fall along with new wine. The recipe combines a layer of homemade bread dough with a layer of onion and sausage, then cheese and it is topped with a sour cream based custard seasoned with nutmeg and caraway seeds. It is sort of like a pizza and quiche stuck together. It smells heavenly while baking and tastes even better.

This recipe is my own variation of the standard recipe. I was attempting to recreate what I had tasted over twenty years ago. Having no recipe I searched the net for ideas. The usual version calls for bacon and has no cheese. I had no bacon and I like cheese. Some recipes dice the onions and bacon and after cooking mix them in with the savory custard. People also bake the onions, bacon and custard in standard pie pastry or puff pastry instead of bread dough. The use of a spring-form pan is suggested in many recipes. Big batches are baked in roasting pans. In most recipes the bread dough is rolled out thin and always comes up the side of the pan. The bread dough in my experimental batch was a mistake but tastes so good I’m keeping it. I added cheese just because I like it and used sausage instead of bacon because that is what I had.

It is thought by food historians that the combination of bread topped with other ingredients such as meats and vegetables is as old as cooking on hot rocks around a fire. Savory custards date from the 14 th. Century so this dish probably dates from around that time period. Simpler and earlier versions spread sour cream on bread dough and added sliced onions and bacon over the cream. Sometimes mushrooms or other vegetables were added.

I believe this might be one of the dishes my great grandmother made that my father hated because of the sour cream. He would rather starve than eat any thing he thought contained it. His grandmother would often add it into something thinking he would never notice only to have him refuse to eat whatever it was. Mom would not consider making anything Dad didn’t like so she didn’t copy any of the many recipes calling for sour cream from my great aunt’s large collection. In later years the hatred Dad had for sour cream worked to Mom’s advantage. Dad never touched the container of French onion dip Mom often kept in the frig for herself.

This recipe will take approximately 2 1/2 hours to prepare. The onion cake will serve 8. Serve it with a green salad, fruit salad, any vegetable in a cheese or cream sauce or sliced tomatoes.

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Onion Cake

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 package of dry active yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup of warm water, body temperature
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking or olive oil
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of warm water
  • 1/2 cup of all purpose flour

Filling

  • 1 large onion peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 Bratwurst, skins removed and the meat crumbled (I used beer brats)

Custard

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1/4 cup of milk, scant
  • 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of caraway seeds

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degree F, and butter, grease or spray a 13X10X2 inch Pyrex baking dish.

Make the dough.

Proof the yeast by stirring 1 teaspoon of sugar into 1/4 cup of warm water in a small bowl or measuring cup. The water should be body temperature. When a drop is put on the inside of your wrist it should not be felt. After stirring the sugar into the water sprinkle on the dry yeast and stir. Sit the bowl in a warm place free of drafts for about 10 to 15 minutes or until it increases in volume and bubbles.

Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour. Pour the proofed yeast, the oil and the water into the well. Mix with a wooden spoon until well blended and smooth. It will be sticky. Scrap the dough off the spoon and from the sides of the bowl, push the dough to the center of the bowl. Cover the bowl and put it in a warm place free from drafts to rise. It should take about an hour to double in volume.

The filling.

While the yeast dough rises make the filling. Peel and cut the onion in half and then slice each half into about 1/4 inch slices. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and add the sliced onion. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Stir and cook until the onion begins to soften. Do not brown. Remove the skins from the sausages and crumble the meat into the pan with the onions. Stir and cook the onions and meat until the sausage meat is no longer pink. Sit the meat and onion mixture aside to cool.

Make the custard.

Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add the seasonings including the caraway seeds. Beat with a wire whisk. Add the sour cream and milk. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour over the top and beat until the mixture is smooth.

Assemble

Stir in about 1/2 cup of flour into the yeast dough. It will still be sticky. I used the last of the flour bag I had open and I was too sticky to get the new bag out and open it. So I didn’t add as much additional flour as I might have. I think the results were better.

Spread the dough in the pan working it well into the corners and trying to pull some dough up the sides of the pan or simply level the dough layer. Use a wet wooden spoon. In traditional recipes a thin layer of dough should come up the sides level with the top edge of the pan. Don’t bother trying to get the dough up the sides. It doesn’t matter and unless you roll out the dough it won’t work.

Spread the onions and sausage meat evenly over the yeast dough. Include the small amount of fat left in the pan, it flavors the dough. Put slices of cheddar cheese over the top of the meat and onions down the center. Pour the custard mixture evenly over all.

Sit the pan on a baking sheet in case it bubbles over. Mine didn’t but it was very full. Bake it about 40 to 50 minutes or until it tests done in the center and the top is lightly browned. I baked it for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow it to sit at least 20 minutes or longer before cutting and serving. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and then cut into squares. It can be served hot or cold.

Notes

Frozen or canned pizza dough or bread dough can be used instead of homemade dough. Homemade tastes better.

The yeast dough recipe can be used for homemade pizza. Add some garlic and use olive oil in the dough. No kneading or rolling required. Spoon the dough into a greased sheet pan. Top the dough with browned meats, sliced vegetables and canned or homemade seasoned tomato sauce. Top with cheese. Bake at 425 degrees F. until browned and the cheese is melted.

The meat can be left out of this recipe and sliced mushrooms used instead. Other possible combinations are bacon, mushroom and onion; chicken, mushroom and onion with tarragon seasoning instead of caraway seed; hamburger, onion, tomato, and cheese with Southwest seasonings.

The traditional way to make this recipe is to mix fried diced bacon and diced onions into the custard. I used the quiche method and layered the meat and onions on the crust and then covered it all with the custard.

The seasonings are essential in this recipe. I made a second batch and forgot to add the nutmeg. It was not as good. The caraway seeds add a wonderful flavor and smell. Do not leave them out or use subsitutes.

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Spicy Beef and Bean Chili


Spicy Beef and Bean Chili is another effort to create a spicy chili without using hot peppers. This recipe is the best one so far. He who works has proclaimed it excellent as he came back for a second helping. I served the chili crackers but it is equally delicious with sweet cornbread or other breads.

Chili is better the day after it is cooked and refrigerated. Some people recommend it not be served the same day. Leftover chili can be used in a number of ways. Mix it with pasta and it is chili Mac. Chili is great over baked potatoes with sour cream and cheddar cheese. Toss in some corn, some tomato juice and it becomes a soup, serve it with tortilla or corn chips. Chili can be poured over cheese fries, white rice, cornbread, burritos, hot dogs and burgers. Served over corn chips with shredded cheese and diced onion it becomes a chili pie.

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The recipe will serve 6 or more depending on the size of the servings. Serve with crackers, over wedges of sweet cornbread or along with other breads. Include a fruit salad and ice cream for dessert.

Spicy Beef and Bean Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon or less of cooking oil or bacon fat
  • 1/2 to 1 lb. of ground beef
  • 3/4 of a large onion, chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 can of stewed tomatoes, crushed
  • 1 tomato can of water
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons of Spanish paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of ketchup
  • 10 squirts of Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons of granulated chicken bouillon
  • 1 can of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup of water

Directions

Heat the cooking oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Crumble the ground beef into the hot oil and cook until it begins to brown. Add the chopped onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir well. Continue cooking and stirring until the meat is browned and the onion is tender.

Stir in the can of tomatoes, do not drain. Fill the tomato can with water and add it. Stir in the chili powder and the remaining seasonings. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cover the pot. Cook for about an hour, stirring about every 15 minutes and adding more water if needed.

Rinse the beans and drain them well. Stir the beans into the pot. Add a cup of water. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the chili to a boil. Boil a few minutes and reduce the heat to low so it simmers. Stir, cover the pot and cook the chili for another hour. Check it often and stir each time so the beans will not stick or burn. Add more water if needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving.

Serve along with small dishes of sour cream, shredded cheese, diced onion and hot peppers.

Notes

The next time I will thicken it.

Beer can be used as part of the liquid.

A tablespoon or more of good whiskey or bourbon would enhance the flavor.

The cumin seeds can be lightly toasted in a dry frying pan before adding to the chili.

Beef is the traditional meat to use in chili but other meats can be used. Venison is wonderful in chili. Venison has almost no fat so you have to add some. Mixing it with an equal amount of beef provides fat.

Some people use chicken or turkey in chili. I sure as hell don’t. Poultry is for dumplings, noodles and roasting.

Vegetarian chili can be made from the same recipe. Leave out the bacon fat and the meat Increase the amount of beans by a can. Add mushrooms, fried eggplant, squash or potatoes. Corn and other vegetables can be added. Serve with cornbread.

A large chopped green pepper can be added with the chopped onion.

A couple strips of bacon can be cooked crisp in the pan, removed and the remaining bacon fat can be used to cook the meat and onion in. The bacon can be crumbled and added back into the pot during the last hour of cooking time or crumbled and served at table.

A drained can of corn can be added with the beans. Frozen corn can be used. It does not have to be defrosted before adding to the chili.

There are various methods of thickening chili. You can add crushed tortilla chips or corn chips. A cup or so of the chili can be blended or mashed and added back into the pot. Corn starch, flour or corn flour can be used to thicken chili and stews. Mix a few tablespoons with cold water until smooth and pour into the bubbling chili while stirring. Let it boil for a few minutes or until as thick as you want.

 

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Quick Creamed Beef and Vegetables


Quick creamed beef and vegetables can be made in little more than an hour. Ground beef is cooked with onions, wine, seasoning, mixed frozen vegetables and a can of cream of mushroom with roasted garlic soup. The creamed mixture can be served on bread, toast, biscuits, potatoes (baked, mashed or boiled), boiled rice, pasta or leftover sandwich buns. The only prep involved is slicing the onion.

One pot meals of one type or another seem to have been around forever. Meat pies are an early type where a creamed mixture is put in pie dough and covered with a top crust. Variations of creamed meats, fish, poultry and game along with vegetables became very popular after soup companies advertised quick one pot measl and casserole recipes featuring canned soup as the sauce.

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The recipe will serve 4. Leftovers can be turned into a casserole the next day by mixing with leftover rice, potatoes or pasta.

Quick Creamed Beef and Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons of cooking oil
  • 1/2 lb. of ground beef
  • 1/2 of a large onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 teasp0oon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of good red wine
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 teaspoons of granulated chicken bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup of small cut frozen mixed vegetables or leftover cooked vegetables, approximate
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom with roasted garlic soup

Directions

Heat cooking oil in a wide, deep pan over medium high heat. Crumble in the meat and when it has almost browned add in the sliced onion. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir well and cook covered until the onion is tender.

Add the cup of water. Stir in the wine, the chicken bouillon, the Worcestershire sauce and the vegetables. Stir well, reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook until the vegetables are done.

Stir in the can of soup. If you want it thick do not add much additional water. Continue to simmer gently until heated through and bubbly.

Serve over almost anything. Good alone or with a light salad and dessert.

Notes

For a  vegetarian version use mushrooms or squash instead of meat.

Frozen hamburger patties can be used. Fry as per directions on the package and chop up before adding the onion.

Any variety of ground meat can be used in the recipe. Any kind of sausage can be used if the casing is removed before cooking.

Cooked leftover poultry can be used instead of the beef. Remove all fat and skin. Shred the meat or cut into small cubes. Cook the onion, then add the meat and other ingredients. The seasoning should be changed to poultry seasoning or sage. Some finely chopped celery could be added along with the onion. Corn would be a nice vegetable to use instead of the mixed ones.

Canned or leftover cooked fish or seafood could be used.

Other types of creamed canned soup could be used.

A casserole using approximately 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the creamed mixture can be made by mixing it in with cooked rice or cooked pasta. About as much rice or pasta as you have of the creamed mixture. Pour into a greased casserole dish and cover the top with buttered bread crumbs or your favorite topping. Cheese could be added to the topping. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes or until it is good and hot.

A large pot pie can be made from the mixture. There are several ways of doing this. Pour the creamed mixture into a pie dough lined pan and cover tightly with a top crust or pour the mixture into a baking pan, bake until bubbly hot and top the mixture with rounds of biscuit dough, canned or homemade. The pie should be baked at around 400 degree F until browned. The biscuit topped casserole should be baked at 425 degrees F until the tops of the biscuits are browned.

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Midnight Cheesy Pasta


The midnight cheesy pasta recipe combines beans and tomatoes with a rich cheddar cheese sauce and twisted pasta. It is extra cheesy and needs no meat. The sauce is well seasoned and has real cheddar cheese melted into it instead of the strange powdered stuff found in commercial pasta and cheese products. The flavors of the dish are intensified when it is baked in a casserole dish. Each serving can be topped with extra shredded cheese at the table.

As with all casseroles and one pot meals there are endless variations of the recipe. Some are mentioned in the notes that follow. This recipe is the quickest homemade version I know of other than using a can of cream of cheese soup for the sauce. From the earliest pioneer times to the present day American cuisine has been built around casseroles and one pot meals.

The recipe will serve 4 to 6 depending on the size of the portions. Serve with extra shredded cheese, crisp rolls or hot breads and a green salad for a complete meal. A nice dessert would be a fruit crisp or a slice of pound cake with fruit.

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Midnight Cheesy Pasta

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. dry pasta, any shape
  • 1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 1 can of stewed tomatoes, drained
  • 1/3 cup of butter (approximate)
  • 1/2 cup of all purpose flour (approximate)
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard, heaping (or horseradish or diced hot pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian smoked paprika, heaping
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
  • 2 or more teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of chicken bouillon (mix with the liquid)
  • 1/3 cup or more of sliced or shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups of water or half milk and half water
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese for the table

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a large casserole dish by lightly greasing it.

Open the can of beans. Drain and rinse well. Set the beans aside. Open and drain the can of tomatoes. Set the tomatoes aside. Slice about 6 to 8 slices of cheese from a brick of cheddar, cut each in half. Set the cheese aside to add to the sauce. Shred a 1 inch thick or larger chunk of the cheese brick to serve with the casserole.

Bring a large pan of well salted water to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water comes to a boil stir in the dry pasta. Cook the pasta until almost tender. Do not overcook. It will finish in the oven. Drain the pasta and put into a bowl with a tablespoon of butter. Stir well and set aside.

Make the sauce by melting the butter in a large deep pan over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add mustard, paprika, salt, pepper and the Worcestershire sauce. Stir into the melted butter. Sprinkle in the flour, as much as it takes to absorb the butter and stir well to form a paste. Using a whisk slowly work in the water or half water and milk (add chicken bouillon) . Stir briskly with the whisk until the sauce mixture is smooth. Have thin slices of the cheddar cheese nearby. Return the pan of sauce to the heat and stir with a wooden spoon while it comes to a simmer and begins to thicken. Drop in the slices of cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is thick.

Add the drained pasta to the hot sauce and stir well. Stir in the drained beans and the drained tomatoes. Stir well and pour into a lightly greased casserole dish.

Smooth the top of the casserole. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree F oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove and allow to sit for 5 minutes or more before serving.

Notes

You can use any seasonings you like such as oriental or TexMex.

Leftover meats or cooked fish can be added. Hotdogs can be laid on top and baked along with the casserole.

Diced or sliced onions can be added to the sauce. Cook the onion until tender in the butter then proceed as in the recipe. About 1/3 cup should be enough. Diced raw onion can be stirred in along with the other vegetables.

One large green pepper, cleaned and cut in small dice, can be added.

Fresh sliced mushrooms, about a pound, can be cooked lightly in the butter when making the sauce. Or a small can of button mushrooms can be drained and added into the casserole.

Bacon fried crisp, onion and Swiss cheese would be a good combination with the pasta. The sauce seasonings would be about the same but you could use part bacon fat in place of some of the butter for the sauce. This would be very good with mushrooms added.

The recipe was baked uncovered and there was no topping put on before putting it into the oven. However you can cover the top with buttered bread crumbs, crushed crackers or any other type of casserole topping you like. Goldfish crackers on top might appeal to kids.

Any type of bean can be used in the recipe. Either canned or leftover cooked beans.

1 inch cubes of fried eggplant or squash can be added.

I didn’t use a casserole dish. I have a Dutch oven sized multi-purpose stainless steel pan that I prepared the sauce in, added the other ingredients to and then put in the oven to finish. It saves time and dish washing. Otherwise I would have baked the casserole in a Pyrex rectangular glass baking dish. If you do that do not forget to set the oven temperature 25 degrees cooler.

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