250 Cookbooks: A Treasury of Bake Off Favorites

Cookbook #54: A Treasury of Bake Off Favorites. The Pillsbury Company, 1969.

Treasury of Bake Off FavoritesThis is another of my mother’s Bake-Off Cookbooks. So far I’ve done three Bake-off years: 1964 (Cookbook #4), 1959 (Cookbook #10), and 1963 (Cookbook #27). I refer you to the 1964 blog post for a more thorough discussion of these cookbooks/pamphlets.

This pamphlet cost 98¢ (the 1959 one cost 25¢). Inside the front cover, “Ann Pillsbury” writes:

“In eighteen years of Pillsbury Bake Offs certain recipes have stood out as being all time “favorites”, as judged by our own staff and by the requests we get from homemakers everywhere. We have chosen ninety-five of these ‘favorites’ for this collection.”

So, some of these recipes are repeats from earlier Bake-Off collections. To me, the most famous cookie in this particular Bake-Off Cookbook is “Peanut Blossoms”. Yup, the peanut butter-sugar cookie topped with a chocolate kiss. My mother made these, I made these – and I already entered them into this blog. My mother also tried and liked the Jim Dandies, Hoosier Peanut Bars, Chocolate Macaroon Cake, and Dilly Casserole Bread. She liked the cookie recipes best! This cookbook also includes main dish recipes. They are “okay” but not my kind of cooking. Too “fifties”.

My choice to try is a cookie recipe called “Spicicles”. As usual, I am looking for something a little healthy. While this recipe includes a lot of butter, it is relatively low in sugar, and it includes raisins, walnuts, dates, and candied pineapple. The preface to this recipe suggests these as holiday cookies, and they are reminiscent of Snowballs, those buttery-nutty cookies baked in formed balls and then rolled in powdered sugar while warm. We always made them at Christmas. (The recipe that I have used for years for a snowball-cookie is Dainty Nut Balls, exactly like this online version.)

My thought for Spicicles is that I can use them like energy bars for mid-day boosts on exercise days.

Spicicles Recipe originalNow, candied pineapple: I think the recipe means the candied pineapple sold around Christmas time for fruit cakes. My idea is to use dried pineapple, one of our favorite ingredients in trail mix. It’s sold in most stores, with other dried fruits like raisins.

Then I hit the jackpot. I decided to check the bulk bins at Whole Foods. And I found these thick rings of pineapple, dried and coated with sugar, for only $3.99/pound. I filled a bag partway, then took a tiny taste while still in the store. Yum! I topped off the bag – this stuff is great. I can hardly wait to try this pineapple in the cookies. Heck, I can hardly wait to leave the store and munch on a few pineapple rings on the way to the car!

I made these pretty much as called for, except I used more pineapple, fewer raisins, and more spices (and fresher spices!). Below is my version.

Spicicles PLF
makes about 60 small cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (“confectioners’ sugar”)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup raisins (sultans might be nice)
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped dried pineapple

In mixer, beat the butter with the egg until well blended. Add the flour, powdered sugar, salt and spices and blend well. Stir or mix in the raisins, nuts, dates and dried pineapple.

Form into balls, using a teaspoon to scoop up the dough. Bake on ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets at 350˚ for 12-15 minutes. The bottoms will brown, but the tops of the cookies will remain kind of pale. Don’t worry, they will be done!

Transfer the cookies to a wire rack, and when they are just cool enough to handle, roll in powdered sugar.

Here is the wonderful dried pineapple alongside the walnuts, dates, and raisins:

Spicicles IngredientsI searched my spice cabinet for cardamom, and found an old jar of ground cardamom. Sniffed it – seems to be missing its punch. But I had a jar of cardamom seeds, so I ground some in the coffee grinder that I reserve for spices. Perfect! Below are the cardamom seeds and a half-grated nutmeg:

nutmeg and cardamomThe cookie dough is pretty thick and rather dry, but it does hold together. I ended up making 61 cookies – pretty close to 60!

Spicicles doughHere are the baked Spicicles PLF (PLF? that’s my “tag”):

SpiciclesThese were a hit! I took them for mid-day energy snacks and always . . . wanted another one! I didn’t think my husband would like them a lot, but when I suggested a frozen (lite) ice cream bar for dessert, he looked at me and said “I really like those cookies, I’ll have them instead!”

It was pretty easy to go through those 61 cookies. I will make them again!



My Banana Muffins

I made up this recipe because I couldn’t find one that was exactly what I wanted. I wanted banana bread – but as muffins. I wanted cinnamon and nutmeg and nuts in the muffins. I wanted them to taste good and sweet and be a little healthy, but not overly so. I also wanted to use up 2 bananas.

I like big muffins, so I made only 10 muffins in my 12-muffin pan. Make 12, if you like, just shorten the baking time a few minutes.

My Banana Muffins
makes 10 or 12

  • 1 3/4 cup flour (can use part all-purpose and part whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal (quick cooking)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup total volume of a mixture of plain yogurt and milk (it’s your choice as to how much of each you want to use)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 bananas

Preheat oven to 375˚. Get your muffin pan ready. (Line with cupcake papers, or spray with non-stick spray, or do neither, depending on your pan.)

Combine the dry ingredients and the nuts and set aside. (Do not consider the brown sugar a dry ingredient; according to Alton Brown, sugar is a “wet” ingredient.)

Combine the yogurt/milk mixture, egg, brown sugar, oil, and bananas. Mix well with a mixer or an immersion blender, until the bananas are mashed and mixed well with the other wet ingredients

Quickly combine the dry and wet ingredients. Do not over mix! Fill muffin cups (12 for sedate and small muffins, 10 if you like them over the top).

Bake for 18-22 minutes, until golden brown. My Banana MuffinsThese are my over the top muffins.

250 Cookbooks: Knudsen Recipes

Cookbook #53: Knudsen Recipes for greater food value. Knudsen, Knudsen Creamery Co. of California, 1953.

Knudsen RecipesKnudsen is a California dairy product company. Currently it is owned by Kraft Foods. When I grew up in our Southern California home in the 1950s, our milk, cottage cheese, sour cream and other dairy products were usually the Knudsen brand. My mother acquired three pamphlet-cookbooks from Knudsen; this 1953 one is the oldest of the three.

This is the first cookbook I’ve come to in which I can’t find a single recipe to try. A coffee cake using prepared biscuit mix and no spices; cream cheese cookies with a lot of butter and watercress; codfish and cottage cheese casserole; casserole a la tuna; chipped beef rarebit; summer soup with chopped cucumbers and cooked beets in a cold mixture of buttermilk and sour cream: I say yuck just reading the titles. Oddly, a recipe for fried bananas is in the main dishes category. Who could trust a book like that? Many recipes are overly laden with butter and sour cream.

The cookbook stresses the health benefits of dairy products, especially yogurt, hoop cheese, and buttermilk, and includes a calorie chart that’s a whole two and a half pages long.

My mother tried the raisin pie and marked it “pretty good”. That’s the only recipe she tried from this book. One more than I’ll try!

Here is the recipe I consider about the worst in this book – Wiener Cheese Floats:

Wiener Cheese FloatsTo satisfy my obsession with cooking a recipe from every cookbook that I cover in this blog, I will share a couple of my own long-time breakfast recipes that are variations on two recipes in this book: Cheese Blintzes and Cottage Cheese Omelet.

Cheese BlintzesWhen I have leftover crepes, I often make something very similar to these blintzes for breakfast. I call them Cottage Cheese Crepes. This is a one-person recipe:

  • 2 crepes
  • 1/4-1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • cinnamon to taste

Heat a non-stick pan, then wipe it with a small amount of oil or spray with non-stick spray. Spoon cottage cheese down the center of each crepe and sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll them up and cook in the pan until lightly browned on both sides and the cottage cheese is melting. Sprinkle with more cinnamon if you like. (Note that I skip the sour cream and butter in the Knudsen recipe, lessening calories.) I drizzle my cooked crepes with a little lite syrup.

Cottage Cheese CrepesThe Cottage Cheese Omelet calls for separating the eggs, combining the yolks and cottage cheese, then beating the whites and folding in the yolks/cottage cheese.

Cottage Cheese OmeletI make something a whole lot simpler using the same ingredients. I take an egg and mix it with 1/4 cup cottage cheese and cook the mixture like scrambled eggs. I have these about once a week, and have for years. I’ll call them Cottage Cheese Scrambled Eggs.

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • green onions, chopped (optional)

Heat a non-stick pan; brush with a little oil and wipe clean. Break the egg into a bowl and add the cottage cheese (and onions if you wish). Mix with a fork, then pour into the heated pan and cook until the egg mixture sets.

I like to serve these with a muffin and some orange juice. Sorry the photo is kind of crummy. It was very early, and pre-coffee, and I wanted to EAT! No time to play around with camera settings.

Cottage Cheese Scrambled EggsAnd the muffin? That’s my own recipe for banana muffins.

250 Cookbooks: Vegetarian Planet

Cookbook #52: Vegetarian Planet. Didi Emmons, The Harvard Common Press, Boston, Massachusetts, 1997. Vegetarian PlanetThis is the second of my five vegetarian cookbooks. (The other one I covered in this blog is 1000 Vegetarian Recipes.)

I do like this cookbook! Great presentation and illustrations, personal notes, and recipes I’d like to try. Since I first bought this cookbook, I have been exposed to Thai and Mediterranean cuisines, so that many of the recipes I might have passed over in 1997 are now very interesting to me. The author claims a fondness for cheese, so it is not a vegan cookbook (a plus!).

This vegetarian cookbook is not bossily telling readers to give up meat. Instead, the author talks about how the flavors of herbs and spices come through clearer in meatless dishes. At the time of publication (1997), the author notes how US markets are seeing an influx of new food items from other countries. Many foreign cuisines use less meat and more grains, vegetables, and spices. That’s exactly what we found to be true on our recent travels to Turkey and to West Africa. Viva les légumes!

I am looking forward to trying some of the slaws, small bites, and dumpling recipes in this cookbook. A recipe for black rice cakes – now I can cook that “forbidden rice” I bought awhile ago but didn’t know how to cook. I want to try the recipe for Korean vegetable pancakes, and snappy snap-pea salad with sumac. (Can I find sumac in one of my favorite local stores? That might be an adventure.) There are over 500 pages of recipes in this book. What fun. And if I want more, I can go to Didi Emmons’ web site for more.

Unfortunately, the recipe I chose to try for this blog was not a hit. My mind was still foggy from our recent African travels, and I chose a recipe that I should have known my dining partner would not like. I enjoyed it, but probably will not make it again.

Garlic SoupGarlic SoupI loved the garlic flavor in this soup. It was both well-seasoned and filling. The piece of bread in the bottom was fun. But my dining partner took one taste, said “yuck”, and that was that.

Garlic Soup with Bread