Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Hazel’s Favorite Brownies

While I was only 6 years old when my mother passed away, I can still remember things she and I did together (thankfully).

One of those things was baking. In her kitchen, Hazel had a table and chairs similar to this (which is why, to this day, I still have a mostly red kitchen):

I had a little red polka dot apron, and she would put it on me, and stand me on a chair at the table (I was probably only 3 or 4 years old at the time), and I would get to help her mix up the brownie batter. Then I got to lick the bowl when we were finished!

And when Daddy came home from work, I was always so proud and excited to show him what I had made, as if I had done it all by myself!

While the brownies were cooling, she would set me down and put me to work on embroidering a tea towel. My first memories of sewing — doing cross-stitch (very poorly and crudely) of a cute little puppy stamped on a flour sack towel. I guess she realized if she kept me busy, I was less trouble! Haha!

My big brother, Gary, was in school, and my baby brother, Darin, must have been napping!

This is the brownie recipe we used, adapted a little from her trusty Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, and Mama always frosted them with Mocha Frosting, which made me like them much better. These brownies are more cake-like than dense, which I also prefer, since I’m not really a chocoholic.

Hazel’s Favorite Brownies

1/2 cup Crisco
2 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup walnut pieces

Melt Crisco and chocolate together over hot water. (Do not do this step in a microwave — it does not work the same!)

Beat eggs until light; then stir in sugar. Add the chocolate mixture, and blend.

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together; add this to the chocolate mixture, and mix well.

Stir in vanilla and walnuts.

Pour batter into a greased 8″ x 8″ pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Cool, then frost with Mocha Frosting.

Mocha Frosting

3 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons hot coffee
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

Combine cocoa and coffee; add butter and vanilla; beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar gradually, until frosting is of spreading consistency.

(This frosting is also great on cake! Yummy!!)

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Today I’m sharing with you a recipe that my mother’s cousin, Peggy Cerva, recently sent me.

Here’s Peggy, in the fall of 1955:


I believe this, too, is Peggy, even younger (I’ll have to ask Peggy to be 100% sure):


I can tell that Peggy and I are related, because we both seem to have trouble smiling while getting our picture taken!

Peggy says that Hazel sent her this recipe — it’s in Hazel’s own handwriting. She thought I might like to have it. Of course I would!!

It arrived in the mail earlier this week, and I tried it out right away. I didn’t change a thing, and they came out really good!

So now I’m sharing it with all of you. Here’s Hazel’s original recipe — Peggy says she’s had this piece of paper for “40 some years”, so it’s a little beat up, but oh, so precious!


And here’s the recipe, so you can try it for yourself:

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Mix together:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup shortening (I used butter)

Beat good. (Haha!)

Sift together:

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour

Add to the above mixture.

Then add:

  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 package chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups quick oats

Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cookies will not appear to be done in this length of time, but remove from oven anyway.

Peggy says chocolate chips used to come in 6-ounce bags, whereas nowadays they’re usually 12 ounces. So just use what you want. Peggy says she uses more than 6 ounces, and hey! it’s chocolate, so I did, too!

Here’s the back side of the recipe:


She’s right — they are! Enjoy!

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September 15, 1954

I did the awfulest thing this morn. I slept till 10:30. I worked on my suit jacket this aft. Made caramel dumplings for supper. Tuck is so cute. He just plays & lays on your shoulder like a baby. Wrote letters tonite.

Well! If sleeping till 10:30 is the awfulest thing she’s ever done, she’ll turn out all right!

I believe the suit jacket she’s working on is the suit she’s making for after her wedding, for traveling on their honeymoon.

I had never heard of Caramel Dumplings till now, but My Cowboy loves caramel anything, so I decided to give them a try, using Hazel’s own recipe.


I’ve updated it a little for you here to make it a little more clear. They passed the Cowboy test, so it was worth spending a little time in the kitchen today!

Caramel Dumplings

2 cups sugar
2 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon butter

Burn the sugar in a heavy non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in the butter, then add the water slowly, still stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium, and let the mixture boil for 10 minutes, stirring very frequently.

1 tablespoon butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour

Stir the baking powder into the sugar, then add the milk and butter. Mix well, and gradually add the flour to make a stiff dough.

Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto the hot caramel sauce in the skillet.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until done.

Let cool a little, and serve with whipped cream.

Here’s a few extra hints and tips I discovered while making mine:

You need to use a pan that can make the transition from stovetop to oven, to prevent having to move the sauce into another pan for baking. This is a messy dish! I used my porcelain-coated cast iron skillet, and it worked great. A heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan would probably also work.

Burning the sugar was the scariest part! First, it crystallized, then it turned slightly brown, then it liquefied, then turned into a wonderful brown sticky sauce.

Add the water gradually, because it tends to want to “flare up”, and you don’t want any cooking injuries, or nasty messes.

Here’s what my sauce looked like while it was boiling for 10 minutes:


It’s a good idea to have all the ingredients measured out ahead of time, have the boiling water already boiling, and all your needed utensils at hand when you start, because you can’t walk off and leave it, and it seems everything happens at once!

Here’s how they looked when they came out of the oven. MMmmm!


The caramel sauce gets all sticky around them, and they’re very sweet and rich. If My Cowboy likes ’em, you know they’re good!

While I had water boiling anyway, I made another batch of hummingbird food. I use 2 cups of water and 1/2 cup sugar, boil it for 1 minute, then let it cool, and fill up the feeder. My Cowboy put some red food coloring in this batch, even though we usually don’t even bother with that. It’s about time for the hummingbirds to stop coming around. The weather is starting to cool off, and the days are getting shorter.


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June 23, 1954

Worked on Moms dress & my rag rug today. I’m going to Judy’s tomorrow. Talked to her today. Me, Mom & Daddy went up to Spencer’s tonite. Made cherry dumplings for supper.

The visitation for Mrs. Spencer, back when it was held at the home.

She’s plugging right along on Hope Chest items.

I could not find a family recipe for Cherry Dumplings, but I searched online and found this one on Taste of Home: Cherry Dumplings. It sounds really good. I may have to try it!

The bad part is, My Cowboy doesn’t like cherries, so I’d have to eat it all by myself. Or is that really a bad part?

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June 7, 1954

I slept this morn till 9:00 – as usual. Ironed this aft. & baked a spice cake. Dale & I are taking Barbara, Peggy & Patti to the show tomorrow night. Its been real hot today. Bye.

She’s doing a lot of sleeping in late. I’m surprised Mildred would let her do that! Maybe she’s at work and doesn’t know.

Using another drive-in safety net by taking her cousins and Dale’s sister to the drive-in with them. If they take the kids along, then Dale won’t be trying anything!

I did not find a Spice Cake recipe in Hazel’s collection, nor did my sister find one in Mildred’s cookbook, but I have this recipe for Spice Cake, with no idea where I got it. But it made it into my “special recipe” collection, so that means it’s really good (and easy)!

Quick Spice Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt.

Add the butter, egg, and buttermilk. Beat until smooth.

Fold in the raisins and walnuts, if desired.

Spread batter evenly in a greased 8″ x 8″ baking pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Serve warm, cut into squares, with dollops of whipped cream or little scoops of vanilla ice cream. Yummy!

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May 17, 1954

Just stayed home all day. The day was so long. I made a banana cake this aft. Ruby & Roy were out this eve. & me, Mom & Ruby worked in the garden.

I’ll bet it seemed like a long day, after all the running around she’s been doing!

I don’t know if Hazel or her mother had any special recipe for Banana Cake, but if I find one, I’ll post it.

In the meantime, I will tell you that I’ve tried both of these, and they’re both fantastic!

Crazy Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Banana Bread Brownies

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March 28, 1954

Its been real pretty out today – about 70. I made cookies this morn. for the deep freeze & this aft. Buck & I fished at the pond & then me & Puz tore down hog house. Dale came tonite & we went to church & then home with his folks to look at pictures.

Ooh, what a nice spring day! And Hazel was sure busy.

The women in our family all share a recipe around called “Refrigerator Basic Cookie Recipe” — real imaginative, huh?

Anyhow, this recipe makes a basic dough, and then you can add all sorts of things to it to make different kinds of cookies. Then you roll the dough in sticks, wrap it up and put it in the freezer, and when you want cookies, you just take out a stick, slice it up, and bake what you want. That way, you can have several varieties of cookies, all on short notice — a great idea, right?

So here’s the recipe . . .

When you have some spare time, just whip up a batch for the freezer, and you’re good to go the next time you have company on short notice, or need cookies for some event or other.

Refrigerator Basic Cookie Recipe

Cream together:
2 cups butter
1 cup sugar
3 cups brown sugar
(You may also use 4 cups brown sugar and no white sugar, if you prefer)

Add and beat until smooth:
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Sift together, then stir into above mixture:
6 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Mix until dough is smooth.

This makes a fairly large batch of dough.

Now, you can leave them plain, or you can divide the batter up and add in various ingredients to make all different kinds of cookies. Some suggestions for add-ins are:

Chopped dates
Raisins or Craisins
Chocolate chips (or other flavored chips)
Melted chocolate (adding a little extra flour, if necessary)
M&Ms (or other candy bits)

Once you’ve made your additions, roll the dough into sticks about 1 1/2″ in diameter. Wrap them in wax paper. Chill or freeze.

When you’re ready for freshly-made cookies, just take out a roll, slice it, and bake them on a lightly greased cookie sheet for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

It’s wonderful to have cookies ready this quickly when you get a hankerin’ for a sweet snack!

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February 3, 1954

Stayed home tonite, pressed some things & worked around. Mom made T.V. hash. Anita is going with Damon now. Duden & Shotwell brought me home from school. Judy has a date tonite with Bob W.

I doubt the Anita-Damon relationship will last too long.

But who is Bob W.???

T.V. Hash — Mildred’s version of Chex Mix. I could never eat it, because I’d always get in trouble for just picking out the peanuts and not eating the rest of it.

Here’s the recipe card from Hazel’s recipe box.


I love the line “2 15¢ pkgs. pretzels”! At today’s prices, I don’t think there’ll be very many pretzels in your TV Hash, if you go with that amount!

Although she doesn’t give sizes on some of the ingredients, I don’t think it matters too much. TV Hash is not a real scientific mixture. Just reading the sheer amount of salt involved is making my blood pressure go up! My advice is to just use what you like . . . but here’s the recipe:

TV Hash

1 box Cheerios
1 box Rice Chex
1 box Wheat Chex
1 box Corn Puffs
2 lbs. salted peanuts
2 15¢ packages pretzels (haha)
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon onion salt
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 stick of butter, melted

Mix all together, and put in a large baking pan.
Heat in a 250-degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring often.
Store in an airtight container.

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January 12, 1954

Practiced on ‘Heart of My Heart” about 10 minutes after school. I fixed muffins with whip cream for desert tonite. Ma, Pa & Buck went to Grandma’s tonite, me & Puz stayed home.

Ten minutes isn’t very long! I daresay they’re gonna need to spend a little more time on it than that before their formal TV appearance.

Muffins with whipped cream. Simple. Plain. And probably very delicious.

I love homemade whipped cream, and it’s a lot easier than you’d think.

Here’s the recipe I use . . .

Whipped Cream

1 pint whipping cream
3 tablespoons sugar

Pour the cold cream into a chilled mixing bowl, and add the sugar.

Whip at high speed until it’s stiff and forms peaks.

It’s that easy! And I love it so much more than the pre-fab stuff in the carton.

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December 29, 1953

Dale didn’t come up tonite cause I told him to wait till Thurs. I wish I hadn’t. Barbara was here till noon. Made cookies this morn. & read in my book. I’m bout ½ through. I’m tired.

Tired from taking it easy. She still has a few days off to keep resting up before she has to go back to school.

She doesn’t say what kind of cookies she made, but here’s a couple of her recipes in case you’re in the mood to make any for yourself. Now that I mention it, it kinda does sound like a good idea. I’m gonna go see what ingredients I can rustle up!

Oatmeal Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

Aunt Ruby’s Special Sugar Cookies



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