Ridiculously Easy One-Bowl Oatmeal & Apple Cookies

My grandmother Ida’s pride and joy was her “Oatmeal Bars” which we helped her bake every summer during our visits to her Iowa farm. She was especially proud that you could make these bars using only one bowl. I decided to bake a variation of her recipe, but making cookies rather than bars. I had a very tart apple to use up and added this to the dough. The cookies turned out great. They are soft and moist yet chewy with plenty of apple and oatmeal flavor. The cookies are very simple to make. I used a large saucepan and “dumped and stirred” in the ingredients — one at a time in order. For further ease, I adjusted the ingredients so that most of them are “one” cup or “one” item. The hardest part of the recipe is peeling and chopping the apple.

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Aunt Gaye’s Fresh Blueberry Streusel Pie

Here is another absolutely delicious way to use fresh blueberries. I asked Aunt Gaye, who lives in Birmingham, Alabama, for recommendations on using blueberries since I had such a large summer crop. (Aunt Gaye is a great cook.) In a second she replied that she indeed had a favorite blueberry recipe: “Fresh Blueberry Streusel Pie.” She promised to mail me the recipe. Mail. Isn’t that great? Everybody likes to get mail. On the down side, now I had to wait several days for the recipe. Well, the recipe arrived as promised and I made the pie. Aunt Gaye showed off her cooking talents again, this is another winning recipe. The pie really highlights the fresh blueberry flavor. The crunchy streusel topping also sets the blueberries off, too.

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Let’s Make Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Floats

What is this? These are an old-fashioned ice cream floats which I have named, “Green Swamp Floats.” We are getting to the end of summer — Labor Day is coming up. Let’s celebrate by making “Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Floats.” Sipping an ice cream float in the afternoon used to be a summertime treat when I was growing up. It satisfied one’s sweet tooth and quenched the thirst on those hot summer days. And an ice cream float was so, so easy to make — really just two ingredients — coke and ice cream. When company came for an extended visit, these were sure to be on the agenda. So let’s make a traditional ice cream float using Barq’s Root Beer and also some surprises.

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Family Favorites: Old-Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes

Mrs. Grossnickle made the best recipe of “Scalloped Potatoes” that I can ever remember. The dish was probably loaded with cream and butter. Not healthy by today’s standards, but very tasty. When I was growing up, the Grossnickles lived across a cow pasture which we could see from where we lived on a small hill. “Scalloped Potatoes” was served at almost every Sunday dinner after church and especially at holidays such as Easter. I am guessing that we were invited to the Grossnickle’s home for some of these meals and this is where I ate the “best” dish of “Scalloped Potatoes.” I consider this to be an old-fashioned “comfort food” and still like the dish after all these years; although with slightly less cream. For nostalgia, I’m making this dish again on Easter Sunday.

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Meringue Nests with Fresh Fruit for Passover and Easter

I cannot remember a Passover meal without my mother-in-law’s meringue nests for dessert. These are truly a family tradition. The little meringue shells are made from egg whites and sugar with a hint of vanilla extract and are filled with fresh fruit. They are tasty and colorful and truly remind me of spring. Fill them with whatever fruit is in season — blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or strawberries. Best yet, this dessert is fat-free and healthy. It will surely impress! This is the “perfect” and elegant dessert for spring — serve it for Easter dinner, too!

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Fabulous Turkey Makeovers: Best Ever Heisey Chipotle Chili

For Thanksgiving we served “Smoked Turkey Breast with Cajun Infused Spices” which we cooked in my brand new tabletop smoker purchased at Buc-ee’s — that Texas mega-road gas station and convenience store highway stop. The turkey was delicious; but what stole the show was the “Chipotle Chili” made with some of the leftover turkey breast. The chili recipe is a creation of my brother and his college-aged daughter. They did some cooking while they were quarantined in their Boston home this past summer during the pandemic. I believe that this dish is a “throw in the pot” stew made with ingredients which they found while sorting through their kitchen cupboard. Well, they got the seasonings just right and the chili has a great “Cajun kick’ proving that Yankees can indeed cook seasoned dishes. And it is a very healthy recipe which includes carrots, black beans, tomatoes and ground turkey rather than beef. I made the chili using leftover turkey. Here’s what I did to make this very, very easy chili recipe. But first, I must tell the Texas Buc-ee’s story and brag about my smoker.

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Old-Fashioned Beef Pot Roast with Vegetable Medley

Last summer, I took a trip back to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for my high school class reunion. In addition to visiting with classmates whom I hadn’t seen in years, I made time to stop at the town’s farmers market. It is interesting that the farm vegetables which are ripe in Virginia are several months behind the ones that are ripe locally in Louisiana. Carrots, potatoes, beets and early English peas filled the stands in the market in Virginia in June. Of course, I brought back some of these vegetables. Although it is now winter again, some of these vegetables –such as carrots — are easily available all year around.

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Saucy Brussels Sprouts

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and it is time to bring out favorite and traditional family recipes. Brussels spouts is a vegetable which matures in the autumn and is often featured in Thanksgiving menus spreads of food magazines. My recipe for “Saucy Brussels Sprouts” is a family favorite which we have served for years. The recipe originated in the Parade Magazine of the Washington Post newspaper. It is very easy to prepare and includes boiled Brussels sprouts served with a creamy sauce.

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Creamed Sweet Peas and Bits of Trivia with My Stories

I really can’t remember a Sunday dinner meal when I was growing up without creamed sweet peas especially during the summer months. It was truly a farm to table dish because the peas were picked from my parent’s very large garden that morning and served at the noon meal. Fresh creamed sweet peas have a delicious flavor that can’t be described. You have to shell and cook some yourself to get the idea. When I found sweet peas at the Shenandoah Valley farmers market in June, I had to purchase some to cook.

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Beef Shish Kabobs

Beef Shish Kabobs is a great recipe for the Memorial Day Weekend. My family made these kabobs on camping trips years ago. The first time we made this recipe, we couldn’t believe how tender and flavorful was the meat. The perfect supper cooked over an open fire under the mountain skies of the Blue Ridge Parkway or at home grilled on a charcoal pit. This simple recipe is one that I’ve stored away all these years. When a friend recently served kabobs at his daughter’s graduation party, I remembered our family recipe.

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