A cranberry query

A couple weeks ago, sister Margaret sent me this text message:

“Didn’t mom make a cranberry cake with a rum or vanilla sauce? But it isn’t in the cookbook?”

Hmmmm. Back in the deep recesses of my mind, I had a vague recollection of such a dessert, but had no idea where Margaret would find such a recipe if it wasn’t in the IMG_7444 (1)“Mixing & Musing Cookbook.” I’m sure DotMom published it in her column and likely made it for a holiday bridge gathering when I was a young girl or teen, but back in those days cranberries weren’t on my approved eating list. (Yes, I was a bit pickier in my younger years!)

But as soon as Margaret conjured up an image of that cake now, I started to imagine how it would taste. So when she found a cranberry cake recipe that she was sure was THE ONE, I insisted that she send me the recipe. Margaret not only did that, but she sent photos of the finished product, along with rave reviews from the guest to whom she had served it.

Those reviews were so good, in fact, that she is whipping up another one for a Thanksgiving gathering tomorrow. It might be too late to make for your Thanksgiving get-together, but this is a dessert appropriate for the entire upcoming holiday season. It will certainly be on our table at some point, as I am salivating just looking at Margaret’s pictures.

Cranberry Cake with Butter-Rum Sauce

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted

For the sauce:
½ cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon rum flavoring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray; set aside

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the cranberries, milk and melted butter; mix well. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan; add the sugar and cream. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the rum flavoring.

To serve, cut cake into squares and spoon the warm sauce over the top.

Makes 9 servings.



The feast is on


Thanksgiving is just a week away, so once again it’s time for my annual campaign to simplify the Big Feast by sharing my two favorite Thanksgiving recipes: Slow Cooker Stuffing and Refrigerator Mashed Potatoes. In the course of this long-running effort, I have convinced a number of you to give these a try with positive results. But my job will not be done until many more of you have seen the light.

The beauty of both of these dishes is that they can be made in advance. I always mix up the stuffing the day before, put in the slow cooker crock and stash it in the refrigerator. The potatoes can be made several days in advance and just need to be heated up on the big day.

The stuffing frees up oven space since it’s made in the slow cooker (and for that matter, the potatoes could also be heated up in one). And it’s much safer to NOT stuff the turkey with the bread mixture. Food safety experts have warned against stuffing the bird for years, as it can harbor harmful bacteria if not brought up to a proper temperature.

And finally, the final product is superior in both cases. The stuffing doesn’t dry out like it might if cooked in the oven, and the potatoes retain their heat much longer than traditional mashed ones.

So if you’re looking for a way to simplify your Thanksgiving effort in a delicious fashion, I urge you to give these recipes serious consideration.

Slow Cooker Stuffing

In 1 cup butter, saute 1 cup chopped onion and 2 cups chopped celery. Remove mixture from stove and stir in 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning and 2 teaspoons dried sage.

In a large bowl, combine 12 cups dried bread pieces with the butter-vegetable mixture.
Beat 2 eggs and combine with 3 to 4 cups chicken broth; pour over bread and stir well to combine.

Place mixture in slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours. (I turn it up to high for about 1 hour in order to get the crispy stuff around the edges.)

Refrigerator Mashed Potatoes

Peel 5 pounds (10 large) potatoes and cook in boiling salted water until tender; drain. Mash until smooth (no lumps).

Add 6 ounces cream cheese (or lower fat Neufchatel), 1 cup dairy sour cream (I prefer the light version or Greek yogurt), 2 teaspoons onion salt, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Beat until light and fluffy. Cool. Cover and place in refrigerator.

May be used anytime within 10 days. Place desired amount in a greased casserole, dot with butter and bake in 350 degree oven until heated through, 30 to 60 minutes, depending on size of dish.


Food, fellowship, friendship

FullSizeRender (37).jpg

When I arrived home from work yesterday, a box waited on the front porch.

“What could it be?” I thought, quickly considering any mail-order purchases made recently, but my mind turned up a blank.

Then I saw the label on the box, and a grin spread across my face. It was our annual supply of pecans, courtesy of our amazing friends, Annette and Erwin “Junior” Rath of Cuero, Texas. Annette and I were on our town’s respective Turkey Race teams for the Great Gobbler Gallop 19 years ago — the start of an amazing friendship that we cherish (and not because of the pecans, although that is a side benefit).

The Raths own and operate several businesses in Cuero, which is our city of Worthington’s rival for the title of Turkey Capital of the World. The outcome of the aforementioned turkey race determines who gets to make that claim for the coming year. If you were unaware such a contest exists, visit www.turkeyfest.org or www.kingturkeyday.net for more information.

But back to the pecans.

One of Annette and Jr.’s businesses is the Cuero Pecan House, which not only markets Texas’ favorite nut, but also a plethora of specialty food items. So along with the basic pecans, there were some other goodies, and then, beneath the pecans — A COOKBOOK!

I had known about this book, a compilation of favorite recipes compiled to recognize Turkeyfest’s 45th anniversary, because Annette had contacted me about it earlier this year as she sought recipe contributions. But once I’d sent off my own submissions, I promptly forgot about it. Now it’s in my hands, and I couldn’t be more delighted. I’ve been perusing it every since.

I’ve been told the book will be available in the coming days at the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce. In the meantime, I wanted to provide a sample of what “Cooking with Ruby: Celebrating 45 Years of Cuero Turkeyfest” has to offer. Many recipes caught my eye as possibilities for sharing here,  but one in particular seemed to capture the essence of what the relationships forged through this Turkey Town rivalry mean to so many who have been involved in the cities’ celebrations.

Chili is an iconic dish in Texas, and it’s definitely different than what we Minnesotans are used to consuming. First and foremost, it doesn’t have beans! — definitely a selling point for me, and it’s probably a bit spicier than Minnesota versions. But then, this particular chili was the first place winner at Worthington’s 2017 Winterfest Chili Cook Off. How did that come to be? Here’s the blurb on the recipe.

“January 2017 — Jimmy and Brenda Martin drove 1,200 miles for the Winterfest Deep Freeze Dip and participated in the Winterfest Chili Cook Off in Worthington MN. Their “Texas Chili” took first place with a price of two $100 local grocer gift cards. After receiving their prize, Brenda and Jimmy donated the gift cards back to a family in Worthington who lost their home in a fire on Christmas Eve.”

So here it is, Jimmy and Brenda’s prize-winning chili recipe that resulted in a wonderful gesture that illustrates the bond of friendship between the two towns.

Minnesota-Winning Texas Chili

3 pounds coarse ground chili meat

1 pound pan sausage

1 large yellow sweet onion, chopped

One 28-ounce can Rotel tomatoes with chiles, drained

Two 8-ounce cans tomato sauce

2 cups chicken broth

¼ cup ketchup

2 jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons pepper

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

6 to 8 tablespoons chili powder

Brown meat in large pot with onion and dry ingredients, then drain. Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, Rotel, ketchup and jalapenos. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Stir frequently.

Best served with shredded cheese and cornbread.


Deep. Dark. Decadent. Delicious.

brownie bundt cake

A thick coating of ganache covers the dense chocolate goodness of this brownie-cake mashup.

Every time I make a bundt cake, I think of a scene from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” If you’ve seen the movie, you know the one, in which Toula’s very Greek parents and Ian’s very non-Greek parents meet for the first time.

Ian’s mother, Harriet, has brought a cake to this boisterous Greek family get-together. She presents the food offering to Toula’s mother, Maria, who is puzzled by the odd-looking dessert.

“It’s a bundt,” says Harriet.

“A boooont?” replies Maria.

And the two women go back and forth about the cake’s name for a while, with neither understanding the other’s confusion. Eventually, Maria sticks some flowers in the hole on the middle of the cake, and it gets passed around by the Greeks as a culinary oddity.

So invariably, as I make a bundt, I say “boooont” a few times and laugh to myself.

But the cake pictured here is no laughing matter. It is downright decadent, a densely rich chocolate creation that is seriously sinful. I’ve made it twice now, and it’s been quickly gobbled down.

The cake itself — the melding of two mixes — is a cross between a brownie and a cake. No, it is not light, but it is moist, and it comes out of the pan with a beautiful outer texture.

And then there’s the frosting. Oh, ganache, where have you been all my life? I never knew it was so simple to make a frosting that was so creamy and — here’s that word again — decadent. I don’t know how else to describe it.

Dark Chocolate Brownie  “Boooont” Cake

1 box chocolate fudge cake mix
1 box dark chocolate fudge brownie mix
4 eggs
1¼ cups water
1 cup oil

For the ganache:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
12-ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare bundt pan by spraying with cooking spray, then dusting it with a combination of cocoa powder and flour. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the cake mix, brownie, mix, eggs, water and oil. Stir until all the lumps are gone.

Pour batter into the bundt pan and bake for 50-55 minutes. Do not overbake, but make sure it is set. Allow cake to cool in pan for five minutes. Turn out onto cake platter and cool for 30 minutes more.

Pour heavy whipping cream into a medium microwave-safe bowl and heat for about 2 minutes, just until boiling. Carefully pour the chocolate chips into the cream, making sure they are all submerged in the liquid. Let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk the chocolate-cream mixture until it is shiny and smooth. Stir in the vanilla.

Pour ganache over the cooled cake. Let set a few minutes before serving.


Something old, something new …

FullSizeRender (33)

Something old, something new, something borrowed — but not something blue!

Maybe that phrase came to mind this evening because my niece got engaged this week, and we were talking possible wedding plans.

But the reality is it’s fitting for today’s recipes. With apple season still in full swing (I was at the orchard today and was told they would be open until Nov. 11) — and the threat of that four-letter word — SNOW! — on the horizon yet this week, I dug into the files for another oldie-but-goodie from DotMom and an apple dessert that I haven’t shared before. The first comes from one of my favorite former Worthington High School home ec teachers, Jan Perry, who now lives in Moorhead. The caramel and apple combination is a classic.

The second one, I must admit I haven’t tried, but it is from another reputable source, a compilation of hometown recipes of which my mom was also a part. It’s a new take on apple pie that I “borrowed” to share with you. Since I can’t think of anything blue that will work with apples, that will have to do.

Jan’s Apple Caramel Dessert

2 cups granulated sugar

½ cup butter

2 eggs

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup chopped nuts
3 cups finely chopped raw apples

For sauce:

¼ cup butter

1¼ cups brown sugar

1 cup white syrup

1 cup heavy cream

½ teaspoon vanilla

Cream granulated sugar and ½ cup butter. Mix in eggs, flour,soda, salt, spices and nuts. Last fold in the apples. Bake in a 9- by 13-inch pan at 300 degrees for 1 hour.

For sauce, combine the ¼ cup butter, brown sugar and syrup. Boil 5 minutes. Add cream and return to a boil. Add vanilla. Pour sauce over each piece just before serving and top with a dab of whipped cream.

Upside Down Pecan Apple Pie

½ stick butter, softened

1 cup pecan halves

⅔ cup brown sugar, packed

One two-count box refrigerated pie crusts

6 cups apples, sliced

½ cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Smooth the butter around the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Stick pecan halves into the butter and then press the brown sugar evenly over top of pecans. Top with one of the pie crusts, extending about 1 inch beyond the edge of the pan.

Mix the granulated sugar with the cinnamon and nutmeg and sprinkle over top of the apples. Put apple mixture on top of the first pie crust, then top with the second. Flute the edges of the two crusts together. Prick top with a fork.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until golden brown. Flip upside down to serve.


Clean and crisp (apple crisp, that is)


A self-cleaning house needs to be a thing.

I’ve come to that conclusion having resolved to dedicate a good chunk of this long MEA weekend to getting our house in order. So far today that has involved scrubbing floors in the kitchen and both bathrooms as well as a number of smaller jobs that were part of the “snowball effect” of house cleaning.

For instance, I spent a good half hour just pulling the hair off the brushes in the battery-operated sweeper necessary to prepare the floors for the scrubbing. And then there were another 45 minutes or so sitting on the floor of the bathroom, applying a toothbrush to the scum deposits that accumulate around the bottom of the shower — spied during the floor-cleaning process. One job always turns into 20 more.

A thorough vacuuming and dusting is still on the agenda, and who knows what that will lead to.

But I also intend to fit in a trip to the apple orchard for another big bag of succulent fruit. And I am grateful that at least one person responded to my request for some “best” apple recipes. I am indebted to Barb Atchison for her quick posting of this recipe.

“Yes, I have a favorite apple crisp recipe,” writes Barb. “Found it years ago. My wrinkled and butter-stained copy shows I found it in 2004. Best Apple Crisp recipe ever! The link ios still on the Internet. Recipe was submitted by former governor of West Virginia, Governor Gaston Caperton. Enjoy!”

With apple season still in full swing, I would encourage you other readers to follow Barb’s lead and share your favorite apple specialties from your personal recipe files. You can email me at bnamanny@gmail.com or comment on this blog.

Gov. Gaston Caperton’s Apple Crisp

4 cups apples, sliced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/3 cup flour

½ cup brown sugar

1 cup oatmeal

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼  cup melted margarine or butter

Put apples in shallow 8-inch pan. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Combine all dry ingredients with butter and mix until crumbly. Sprinkle all this over apples and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Love affair with food


Yesterday was my parents’ 70th wedding anniversary, they having tied the knot on Oct. 11, 1947. Of course, they weren’t around to celebrate it, DadDon having departed this earth 21 years ago, and DotMom 12 years ago.

But still, the occasion of their platinum anniversary has conjured up some memories of their life together. The photo here was taken many years before I came along — I would guess at some point during their courtship, and likely at my grandparents’ (Dad’s parents, Harry and Alice) summer home at Lake Okoboji, judging by their somewhat-scandalous-for-the-time swimwear apparel.

Since this blog is largely focused on food, I will contain my remarks to Dot and Don’s culinary  relationship. They both had a passion for food, and the relationship was symbiotic.

Mom cooked.

Dad ate.

Dad never met a meal he didn’t like and was a more-than-willing guinea pig for Mom’s culinary experiments for her Daily Globe food column. She dubbed him Sir Lunch-a-Lot for those writings, and the nickname was appropriate. Dad devoured whatever she put in front of him. If he balked, we knew the dish in question was really, really bad.

But that was an anomaly. It was more frequent that one of their pickier-eater children turned up our noses at what was put in front of us. And if such was the case, Dad was waiting to swoop in and finish up whatever was left on our plates. “Watch Daddy Eat Time” was a real daily ritual at our house. We would sit and watch as our father licked clean whatever leftovers lingered at the end of the meal.

And that was before dessert. There was, more often than not, dessert, too.

Yes, that’s a segue into what was supposed to be the topic for this week’s blog. It’s apple season, so apple desserts are the topic du jour. I’m hoping that some of you readers might be inclined to share your favorite apple recipes.

What’s the very best apple pie recipe?

Did your mom make an apple cake that your dad just loved?

Or is there another apple dessert that you have to make each year at this time?

Please share by emailing bnamanny@gmail.com!

That go-to apple dessert for my parents was Apple Cuplets. Mom just had a way with this simply decadent dessert. In her “Mixing & Musing Cookbook,” Mom declared that “This is No. 1 at apple time at the Rickers abode.”

No. 1 Apple Cuplets

¼ cup sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

6 baking apples


⅔ cup flour

⅔ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon baking powder

⅛ teaspoon salt

1 slightly beaten egg

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the ¼ cup sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Peel and core the apples. Roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Put apples in buttered custard cups, spooning the remaining cinnamon in centers of apples.

Combine flour, ⅔ cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Combine beaten egg, melted butter and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients. Beat well. Place about 2 tablespoonfuls of batter over each apple.

Bake at 375 degrees about 40 minutes. Serve warm (important) with lots of cream (doubly important).


Recipe requests welcomed

FullSizeRender (24)

Since I’ve used up all the seasonal recipes I wanted to get in before harvest season ends, it’s time to fulfill a recipe request. (By the way, the photo here is of the hops plant in my garden. It’s a bit past its prime now, but I figured many people might not know what hops look like.)

As I mentioned previously, I am currently working as a paraprofessional for first-graders at Worthington’s Prairie Elementary School. As I took my kiddos through the lunch line recently, one of the school’s “lunch ladies,” Carolyn Landberg, caught my attention and requested a reprint of an overnight caramel roll recipe I had shared in my previous culinary writings for the Daily Globe. “I lost my copy of the recipe,” lamented Carolyn.

I was happy to oblige her request, as I knew just where the recipe was in my file and it’s one of my favorites, something I’ve often toted to breakfast potluck events or made when we’ve had overnight guests.

If there’s any recipe you readers would like to see printed in this blog — perhaps something from my mother’s “Mixing & Musing” column or cookbook, or something using a particular ingredients — I would love to try to help you out.

So here’s that recipe Carolyn. Now I think you owe me a recipe from your file!

Night Before Caramel Rolls

½ cup butter, melted

2 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons cinnamon (divided use)

¼ cup granulated sugar

One 3.5-ounce box cook-and-serve (not instant) vanilla pudding mix

One 3.5-ounce box cook-and-serve (not instant) butterscotch pudding mix

1 cup brown sugar

2 loaves frozen bread dough, thawed.

1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

In a shallow bowl, combine 1 teaspoon cinnamon with the ¼ cup sugar; set aside.

Combine the melted butter, milk, remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon, pudding mixes and brown sugar.

Butter a 9- by 13-inch pan. (I use a disposable foil pan for ease of cleanup.) If using nuts, sprinkle evenly in the bottom of the pan.

Cut 1 loaf of the bread dough into chunks and roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place in bottom of the pan. Pour two-thirds of the pudding-caramel mixture over top. Cut second loaf of dough into chunks and put on top of the caramel. Cover with remaining pudding mixture.

Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until rolls are golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately invert onto serving tray covered with foil.

Tomato season lingers (as do the gnats)


A pizza paddle is a handy tool for placing the tortillas on the grill and removing when done.

Late September weather is good for two things: A bumper crop of gnats — the biting kind to which my body reacts adversely; and a plethora of locally grown tomatoes. Oh, and I guess there are also a few allergens in the air, ragweed and such, which are also unpleasant for my sinuses.

But still, I revel in these lingering nice days, and most especially the produce that continues to flow through the local farmers markets. Last weekend, I realized that tomato season has been here for a while and I had yet to make up a batch of my world famous tomato tortilla appetizers. OK, maybe not world famous, but they are darn good.

So I assembled a quick batch for a Sunday afternoon gathering, and I paid attention to the exact ingredients so I could pass the recipe along to you. Fresh tomatoes and basil are the key to this appetizer, so make it while tomato season is still in full swing.

Tomato-Basil Tortilla Appetizer

4 flour tortillas

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large tomato

¼ cup finely chopped onion

1 garlic clove

¼ cup fresh basil leaves

¼ teaspoon seasoned salt

½ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese


The finished appetizer is cut into wedges with a pizza cutter.

Dice and seed the tomato. Place tomato on paper toweling to absorb excess moisture and set aside.

Mince the garlic clove and finely chop the fresh basil. Combine the garlic and basil with the finely chopped onion and seasoned salt.

Using a pastry brush, apply a thin coat of the olive oil to both sides of the tortillas. Divide the onion-garlic-basil mixture between the tops of the four tortillas. Top with the well-drained tomato and lastly the Parmesan.

Prepare the gas grill for indirect cooking over medium-high heat. Place the tortillas on the grill and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom and crisp. (Watch closely! They will burn quickly.) Cut each tortilla into four wedges with a pizza cutter. Makes 16 appetizers.


It’s only fair to share

This blog is named after the “Mixing & Musing” column my late mother, Dorthy Rickers, wrote for the Daily Globe newspaper in Worthington, Minnesota, for almost 50-some years. I’d have to look back through the archives (big bound volumes of her columns that are now housed down at the Nobles County Historical Society) to look for the date when she actually started those writings, but I believe the column is actually older than I am. If not, it was started when I was but a toddler.

But the longevity of the endeavor is not important, except that DotMom’s column chronicled the social happenings of our community and the recipes that accompanied such gatherings for many years. “Mixing and Musing” was not a compilation of her own recipes, but of those that were largely offered up by others. DotMom would either attend an event and hunt down the recipes, or she would hear about a delicious dish or the recipe and sleuth it out.

Times have changed. The ladies’ luncheons, bridge foursomes, coffee parties and study clubs aren’t as prevalent as they were during my mom’s tenure as a recipe gatherer. Nowadays, people depend on social media or glean new recipes from televised cooking shows.

But I still love the idea of shared recipes, and my ears perk up when I hear somebody talk about some dish they made or enjoyed. Like my mother, I am quick to say, “Oooh, can I have the recipe?”


Chipotle Chicken is served over rigatoni pasta (photo by Tom Ahlberg).

Such was the case when friend and home-brewing buddy waxed poetic about a dish he concocted for girlfriend Lona Smith. “Chipotle Chicken?” I queried. “How do you make that?”

A couple of months later, when Tom was again dishing up the same entree, I finally got him to write down the ingredients and instructions. And to go one better, when he went home, he took a picture of the concoction as he was plating it up for serving.

But before I offer up the recipe for Chipotle Chicken, I would enco

urage you readers to share your  favorite dishes. Did you try one of those many-shared Facebook recipes and it turned out particularly fine? D

o you have a specialty for which you are always fielding recipe requests? Did your mama make the world’s best meatloaf or pecan pie?

Share, please!

I would love to continue my own mama’s legacy by providing a forum for the sharing of menus and recipes. Any such offerings can be emailed to bnamanny@gmail.com.

Chipotle Chicken

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon chipotle seasoning

1 jar alfredo sauce with roasted garlic

2 heads garlic, separated

2 to 3 dried chipotle peppers, cut into strips

Cooked pasta of choice (linguine, rigatoni, etc.)

Parmesan cheese

Season the chicken breasts with the chipotle seasoning and grill 15 to 20 minutes, until cooked through. Set aside.

Meanwhile, place the garlic on foil, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of each clove and mix with the jarred alfredo sauce in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the chipotle pepper and cooked chicken and simmer until the sauce is heated through.

Serve over pasta, topped with grated Parmesan cheese.