What Shall We Make Today

Today we’re making Savory Potato Skins!


4 large baking potatoes (about 12 ounces each)

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon paprika

Optional: Sour cream and chives


Preheat oven to 375°. Scrub potatoes; pierce several times with a fork. Place on a greased baking sheet; bake until tender, 1-1-1/4 hours. Cool slightly.

Cut each potato lengthwise in half. Scoop out pulp, leaving 1/4-in.-thick shells (save pulp for another use).

Cut each half shell lengthwise into quarters; return to baking sheet. Brush insides with butter. Mix seasonings; sprinkle over butter.

Broil 4-5 inches from heat until golden brown, 5-8 minutes. If desired, mix sour cream and chives and serve with potato skins.


What Shall We Bake Today?

I was so intrigued when I saw this picture, I just had to see the recipe!  It seemed easy enough, although I have not attempted it myself yet.  (I will update if I do by post time.)

Shamrock Pound Cake


2 packages (16 ounces each) pound cake mix

10 drops green food coloring

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract


1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

3 to 5 teaspoons 2% milk


Preheat oven according to package directions. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Prepare one package cake mix according to package directions, adding food coloring and extract before mixing batter. Transfer to prepared pan. Bake and cool as package directs.

Cut cooled cake into 1-in.-thick slices. Cut slices with a 2-1/2-in. shamrock-shaped cookie cutter (save remaining cake for another use). Stand shamrock slices at an angle in a greased 9×5-in. loaf pan.

Prepare remaining cake mix according to package directions. Pour batter around and over shamrock slices. Bake and cool as package directs.

For glaze, in a small bowl, mix confectioners’ sugar, extract and enough milk to reach desired consistency. Pour glaze over cake, allowing some to flow over sides.

What Shall We Bake Today?

Since this is March, I thought I’d bring a recipe for classic Irish Soda Bread.  I have not attempted this as of writing this open.  If I do before it posts, I’ll update it to let you know the results.


2 cups flour

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

2 large eggs, room temperature, divided use

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup raisins


Preheat oven to 375°. Whisk together first 5 ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In another bowl, whisk together 1 egg and buttermilk. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Stir in raisins.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead gently 6-8 times. Shape into a 6-1/2-in. round loaf; place on a greased baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, make a shallow cross in top of loaf. Whisk remaining egg; brush over top.

Bake until golden brown, 30-35 minutes. Remove from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm.


What Shall We Bake Today?

In our house, we hate to waste food, so when our bananas are past the good-to-eat stage, I freeze them to make banana bread at another time.  The morning I want to bake some banana bread, I take them out to thaw and drain slightly before adding to the other ingredients. This recipe is super easy and so delicious!

Banana Bread


2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 medium ripe mashed bananas

1 egg

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

¾ cup milk

1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350*.  Grease and flour 1 9 x 5 or 2 8 x4 loaf pans.  Place all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed for ½ a minute, scraping the bottom and sides constantly.  Pour into pan(s).  Bake 55-65 minutes.  Cool slightly. Remove from pan and cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!

What Shall We Bake Today?

This being February, I thought we’d bake a Red Velvet Cake.


1 ½ cups sugar

½ cup butter

2 eggs

2 ounces red food coloring

2 tablespoons cocoa

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch round pans.

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and shortening together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine red food coloring and cocoa to make a paste; add to creamed mixture.

Mix buttermilk, salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla together in a small bowl. To the creamed mixture, add flour, alternating with buttermilk mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Mix vinegar and baking soda together; gently fold into cake batter and pour into prepared pans.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a table knife around the edges to loosen. Invert carefully onto a serving plate or cooling rack. Let cool, about 30 minutes.

Frost as desired.

What Shall We Bake Today?

Today is National Carrot Cake Day, so let’s make one of those.  I have tried many recipes—some use jars of carrot baby food, some used pineapple and coconut, but this is my favorite.  I’ve included the recipe for cream cheese frosting even though I personally despise it.  (I just use my regular frosting for this cake.)


1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

2 cups Gold Medal™ All-Purpose Flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups shredded carrots (5 medium)

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 to 3 teaspoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups powdered sugar

Nutmeg, if desired


Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom and sides of one 13×9-inch pan or two 8-inch or 9-inch round pans with shortening; lightly flour. In large bowl, beat granulated sugar, oil and eggs with electric mixer on low speed about 30 seconds or until blended. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, 1 teaspoon vanilla and the salt; beat on low speed 1 minute. Stir in carrots and nuts. Pour into pan(s).

Bake 13×9-inch pan 40 to 45 minutes, round pans 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool rectangle in pan on cooling rack. Cool rounds 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla with electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, on low speed until smooth and spreadable. Frost 13×9-inch cake or fill and frost round layers with frosting. Sprinkle nutmeg on frosted cake, if desired. Store in refrigerator.


What Shall We Bake Today?

Today’s entry, in honor of Chocolate Cake Day, is German Chocolate Cake.  It’s a recipe I’ve won many awards for in high school. 

German Chocolate Cake

For the Cake:

4 oz German sweet chocolate (I use Bakers)
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites; stiffly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350*.  Line the bottom of 3-9inch round baking pans with waxed paper.  Spray sides with Baker’s Joy. 

Put chocolate in a bowl and pour boiling water over it to melt.  Set aside to cool slightly.  In another large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, add egg yolks one at a time.  Mix in vanilla, and chocolate. Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk. Fold in egg whites. Pour into 3 pans.   Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Frost tops with Coconut Pecan Frosting, leaving sides unfrosted.

Coconut Pecan Frosting

1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

Combine all except coconut and pecans in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 12 minutes. When mixture thickens, remove from heat. Stir in coconut and
pecans. Cool until spreadable.

This is extremely delicious but can be a pain in the butt to make.  I no longer use this recipe…I opt for a simpler choice:

(Pat’s TIP: Use 2 cans of frosting—it’s the BEST part!)


In 1847, a Maine ship captain invented the donut as we know it today – with a hole. On the day Lewis Hine took the photo of a waitress next to a plate of donuts (with holes), Capt. Hansen Gregory lived in the next town. He was telling his cronies how he’d gotten the great inspiration to cut a hole in a donut.

(Lewis Wickes Hine, by the way, took many photos of very young workers, which then influenced the passage of child labor laws. His caption read, “Exchange Luncheon. Delia Kane, 14 years old. 99 C Street, South Boston. A young waitress.” )

Captain Gregory, 85, lived at the Sailor’s Snug Harbor in Quincy, Mass. His fame as the inventor of the modern donut had spread, and theWashington Post interviewed him in a story published March 26, 1916

Sailor’s Snug Harbor

He told the reporter he discovered the donut hole when he worked as a 16-year-old crewman on a lime-trading schooner. “Now in them days we used to cut the doughnuts into diamond shapes, and also into long strips, bent in half, and then twisted,” he said.

“I don’t think we called them donuts then–they was just ‘fried cakes’ and ‘twisters.’ Well, sir, they used to fry all right around the edges, but when you had the edges done the insides was all raw dough. And the twisters used to sop up all the grease just where they bent, and they were tough on the digestion.”

Captain Hansen Gregory

First Donut

He asked himself if a space inside the dough would solve the difficulty – and then came the great inspiration. “I took the cover off the ship’s tin pepper box, and—I cut into the middle of that donut the first hole ever seen by mortal eyes!”

Gregory, born in 1832, would have had his insight around 1858. According to the New York Times, he rose to second mate at 19, mate at 21 and master mariner at 25. He sailed in all kinds of vessels from the lime coaster to a full-rigged ship. He modestly assessed the result. “Well, sir, them doughnuts was the finest I ever tasted. No more indigestion — no more greasy sinkers — but just well-done, fried-through doughnuts.”

But the donut made him famous. He had asked a tinsmith to fabricate a donut cutter for him, and soon, reported the Times, ‘cooks everywhere had adopted it.’ He returned to Camden, Maine, where he taught his mother the trick. She sent several plates to Rockland, Maine, where people gobbled them up. After that, the donut never looked back.

Primitive Soldered Doughnut Cutter
Antique Doughnut Cutter

A plaque in the town of Rockport, Maine, marks Captain Gregory’s birthplace, now the parsonage of the Nativity Lutheran Church. The National Baking Association nominated him for the Baking Hall of Fame, but it doesn’t appear he made the cut.

(A plaque at Nativity Lutheran Church pays homage to an iconic food. Google Maps)

More Donut History

The truth is that there were mentions of doughnuts in recipe books and even in Washington Irving’s Knickerbocker’s History of New York in 1809. But Gregory’s mother’s doughnuts became famed in her neighbour hood in Maine, particularly using the cinnamon and lemons that would have been brought in on her son’s trading ships.

There were numerous legends that sprang up about how the captain invented the doughnut, including one that he skewered his mother’s cakes on his ship’s wheel. Which is why he came forward in 1916 to give his account. By then the Maine version of the doughnut was popular across America. During World War I, the Salvation Army cooked them to raise money for the war effort and also set up canteens in town away from the front lines serving coffee and doughnuts to soldiers. The women who operated these cafes were known as “Doughnut Dollies.”

A cover of the Salvation Army publication “War Cry” from 1918 showing a “Doughnut Dolly”

Captain Gregory died in 1921 but by then Adolph Levitt, a Russian refugee in the US, had invented the automatic doughnut-making machine. This led to the creation of doughnut chain stores, which spread across the US and by the 1930s had begun to appear in Australia. Australians now eat more than 100 million doughnuts a year.

Springfield, IL

The Food History Timeline posts donut recipes before 1858, and they all advise cutting the doughouts into diamonds, squares or twists. Then in 1877 a doughnut recipe calls for cutting them into rings. The Food History Timeline also notes that after the Civil War, ‘inexpensive tin doughnut cutters with holes were manufactured commercially and sold widely.’

1950’s Aluminum Doughnut Maker

You can visit Capt. Hanson Gregory’s grave at the National Sailors’ Home Cemetery in Quincy MA.


Apricots are delicious and widely popular fruits that belong to the genus Prunus (stone fruits).

The origin of the apricot is disputed and unsettled. It was known in Armenia during ancient times, and has been cultivated there for so long that it is often thought to have originated there.

Its scientific name Prunus armeniaca (Armenian plum) derives from that assumption.

Despite the great number of varieties of apricots that are grown in Armenia today (about 50), according to the Soviet botanist Nikolai Vavilov, its center of origin would be the Chinese region, where the domestication of the apricot would have taken place.

The apricot is now cultivated on every continent except Antarctica.

Apricots are cultivated throughout the temperate regions of the world, especially in the Mediterranean.

The average lifespan of an apricot tree is 15 to 20 years.

The apricot is a small tree, 26–39 feet tall, with a trunk up to 16 inches in diameter and a dense, spreading canopy.

The leaves are ovate, 2.0–3.5 inches long and 1.6–3.1 inches wide, with a rounded base, a pointed tip and a finely serrated margin.

The flowers are 0.8–1.8 inches in diameter, with five white to pinkish petals; they are produced singly or in pairs in early spring before the leaves.

The fruit is a drupe similar to a small peach, 0.6–1.0 inch diameter (larger in some modern cultivars), from yellow to orange, often tinged red on the side most exposed to the sun; its surface can be smooth or velvety with very short hairs. The flesh is usually firm and not very juicy. Its taste can range from sweet to tart.

The single seed is enclosed in a hard, stony shell, often called a stone, with a grainy, smooth texture except for three ridges running down one side.

In a 3.5 oz amount, raw apricots supply 48 calories and are composed of 11% carbohydrates, 1% protein, less than 1% fat and 86% water.

Apricots have many health benefits such as ability to treat indigestion, constipation, earaches, fevers, skin diseases, cancer and anemia. Furthermore, apricots have the ability to improve heart health, reduce cholesterol levels, prevent the deterioration of vision, help you to lose weight, treat respiratory conditions, boost bone strength, and maintain electrolyte balance in the body. It is also believed that apricot is good for skin care, especially for women. This is why you find it added in various cosmetics.

The impressive health benefits of apricots are due to the content of vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, and niacin in significant amounts, as well as a number of other essential vitamins in trace amounts (less than 5% of daily requirement), as well as their mineral content, which includes potassium, copper manganese, magnesium, and phosphorous. Apricots are also a very good source of dietary fiber, like most fruits.

Apricots are widely eaten fresh as a dessert fruit.

The fruit is also widely made into jam.

Apricots may also be used in desserts, in juices, and for flavoring.

Dried apricots are a type of traditional dried fruit. Dried apricots have an intense sweet-sour flavor. They are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin E, potassium, iron and are high in fiber. Dried apricots can be high in sulfur dioxide, which is commonly used in small quantities to prevent mold developing on the fruit. Many organic dried apricots are brown because they are sun-dried: sunlight oxidizes their flesh, which acts as a natural preservative.

Nutritionally, apricot seeds are similar to other nuts — they’re rich in healthful fats and provide some fiber and iron. Seeds or kernels of the apricot grown in central Asia and around the Mediterranean are so sweet that they’re sometimes substituted for almonds. The Italian liqueur amaretto, and amaretto biscotti, is flavored with extract of apricot seeds as well as almonds; plus, oil pressed from these cultivars has been used as cooking oil.

Apricot seeds contain a toxic chemical known as amygdalin, which is also referred to as laetrile. Some companies call this compound vitamin B17 in order to label and market the product as an essential substance. In the body, this chemical is converted to cyanide, which is poisonous and can cause serious harm. While your body can detoxify a small amount of cyanide, eating too many apricot seeds or kernels may be hazardous to your health.

During the 17th-century, apricot oil was used to treat tumors, ulcers, and swellings. In 2011, a systematic review deduced that claims that amygdalin and laetrile found in high concentration in apricots have a medicinal benefit to cancer patients were true.

In Europe, apricots were used as an aphrodisiac.

Egyptians usually dry apricots, add sweetener, and then use them to make a drink called amar al-dīn.

In the 17th century, English settlers brought the apricot to the English colonies in the New World. Most of modern American production of apricots comes from the seedlings carried to the west coast by Spanish missionaries. Almost all U.S. commercial production is in California, with some in Washington and Utah.

In 2016, the top five producers of apricots were Turkey, Iran, Uzbekistan, Algeria and Italy.

The apricot is a member of the rose family and is a close relative of almonds.

Apricot derives from praecocia (praecoquus) as cooked or ripened beforehand [in this case meaning early ripening], and from Greek πραικόκιον (praikókion) as “apricot”. The English name first appeared in the 16th century as abrecock from the Middle French aubercot or later abricot, from Catalan a(l)bercoc.

Seeds of the apricot have been discovered during archaelogic excavations of the Garni Temple and Shengavit settlement, having a history of 6,000 years.

Source: JustFunFacts

What Shall We Bake Today?

Last month, I included a recipe GA/FL posted in an open about turtle cookies.  I have since made the recipe and it has become a FAVORITE!!! It deserves its own open!  The recipe was not clear on how big to make the cookie logs, and I was unsure if the cookies would expand in the oven.  I made 4 smaller logs and got a ton of cookies!  I also experimented with cutting the slices thinner and thicker to see if we would like them softer or crispier—we liked them EITHER WAY! This is just a delicious tasting cookie!  Thank you GA/FL for bringing it!!!

Mama Smith’s Pecan Refrigerator Cookies

Beat together:

1-1/2 cups butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

Whisk together:

4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp salt

Mix sugar/egg and flour mixtures together.

Add 2 cups chopped pecans.

Roll into logs, wrap with plastic wrap or waxed paper, refrigerate for a couple of hours or store in freezer until needed.

Slice and bake at 350* until lightly browned—mine took 7-10 minutes.