Friday, November 27, 2015

Memories from Recipes

As I was anticipating this year's Thanksgiving feast, I pulled out the cookbook to find our favorite recipes so I could make sure all of the ingredients were on my shopping list. Most of my recipes are on full page typed and printed pages, but then there are a few of our very favorite recipes that are handwritten on random pieces of paper or recipe cards, stuffed in plastic sheet protectors, that I refuse to get rid of because of the memories they invoke each time I use them. Here are just three of our very favorites...

Sweet Potato Casserole ... this recipe is from one of my best Arizona friends, Joan Jansen. Each time I make this recipe, I think of the many years we spent together on early morning walks, working together at Weight Watchers, watching our kids grow together, and laughing and crying together through good times and bad ... Memories that I will treasure forever. 

Imitation Black Bottom Pie (our family members actually all agree that this should really be called "black middle pie" instead since that's where the "black" portion of the pie is located) ... this recipe is from my dear departed sister-in-law Vickie. She was a very sweet, yet opinionated woman, who I was proud to call my sister. She was not always respected by the people she loved the most, and was taken much too early by the ugly disease of Cancer. Our family was honored to be able to care for her during her last days, and we will always be grateful for those special memories that we made.  

And finally, Grandma Leavitt's Peanut Butter Balls (normally a recipe that we make at Christmas time, but has been known to surface during other special occasions during the year) ... this is a handwritten little slip of paper from my husband's grandma, sent to me at my request. I have such fond memories of this special lady that lived a good long life, many of those years spent as a widow. She was full of wisdom, laughter, and love, and I cherish the times we spent together. 

Sweet Potato Casserole
This has become a staple at our Thanksgiving table. The thing that makes this really speacial is the streusel topping... yum!

4 large sweet potatoes, canned or fresh (I prefer fresh)
(1) 5 oz. can evaporated milk
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon extract or juice (I prefer juice)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Dash of salt
Dash of cinnamon
Streusel Topping
1 cup chopped nuts ( I prefer pecans) with small amount of flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mash sweet potatoes until smooth. If using fresh potatoes, peel and cut in pieces and cook until tender. Drain and mash. Add milk, butter, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and flavorings. Combine well and spread in casserole dish.  (Tip-to make this easy, combine all ingredients in bowl of stand mixer and mix with flat beater until smooth.) Combine streusel topping ingredients until crumbly and spread on top of potato mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly around edges. The casserole can be made ahead of time, put in the refrigerator and baked just before serving. Add about 10 extra minutes. 

Imitation Black Bottom Pie
A traditonal family pie for Thanksgiving and other other special occasions. 

1 cup flour
1 stick ( 1/2 cup) butter

Combine to make a smooth dough and mold/press into greased pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees until barely brown (about 15 min.) Cool.

Bottom layer
(1) 8 oz. package cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
(1) 8 oz. tub of Cool Whip

Cream together cream cheese and sugar. Add Cool Whip and mix until thoroughly combined. Spread over cooled crust.

Middle layer
(2) small packages of instant pudding mix, chocolate or fudge
3 cups milk

Beat together until thickened and smooth. Spread over cream cheese layer.

Top layer
(1) 8 oz. tub of Cool Whip
Chocolate pieces or mini chocolate chips

Spread or pipe on top of pudding layer. Decorate with chocolate pieces or chips. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Grandson Blake, after finishing off his Thanksgiving pie.

Peanut Butter Balls
In our family, we are all peanut butter and chocolate fans. So whenever homemade candies are made, this is the first request. A favorite Christmas treat, but also made for other occasions during the year. These can be made as dipped balls, or as a filling for molded chocolates.

2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 lb. (approx. 4 cups) powdered sugar
3 cups Rice Krispies

Combine together well to make a dough. Form into balls and chill. Dip in chocolate or chocolate candy coating. 

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