Apple Coconut Muffins

Instant favorite: A muffin recipe from the Whittier Wildcats Cookbook, this week’s 250 Cookbooks blog entry. These muffins are oh so good! They pack a full cup of coconut and a cup and a half of apples into 12 muffins. I added some cinnamon and used fresh nutmeg.

I think these are really “cupcakes”. Too rich to be called “muffins”. Maybe a little whole wheat flour will assuage my conscience.

Here is the original recipe:

Apple Coconut Muffins recipeBelow is my version:

Apple Coconut Muffins
makes 12 muffins

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (or use regular butter and skip the additional salt)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly ground if possible)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut (this weighed 3 1/2 ounces on my scale)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped, peeled apple (for me, this took 1 1/2 large apples)

Prepare 12 muffin tins in your favorite fashion.

In a mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla.

Stir together the flours, baking powder, salt, and spices.

Whisk together the eggs and milk.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the egg mixture to the creamed mixture, blending after each addition only until just combined. Stir in the coconut and apples.

Bake at 350˚ for 30 minutes or until they are light brown on top and test done with a toothpick. Cool in pan at least 15 minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack.

Apple Coconut MuffinsBe sure to let these cool before removing from the pan. I tried getting one out after only 5 minutes and – oops! It fell apart. So of course I had to taste it. And then go back for more. Addicting!

250 Cookbooks: Whittier Wildcat Cookbook

Cookbook #121: Whittier Wildcat Cookbook, Whittier School Community, 19??.

Whittier Wildcat Cookbook“I have no idea where this book came from” reads my cookbook database. Nowhere in this book is a publication date. It is a “community cookbook” –  compiled by the teachers, parents and students at an elementary school. (Here is the first community cookbook covered in this blog.) The introductory page thanks “Mary West-Smith” for typing all of the recipes on her word processor, so my guess is that it was produced in the mid-1970s.

“Whittier” at first calls to mind the city in Southern California. But no . . . “Whittier” is also an elementary school in Boulder, Colorado. A school on Pine and 20th.

Well, this all is starting to make sense. We lived in a dumpy old house on Walnut, full of character (and characters), for a couple years in the mid-1970s. We called the house “Walnetto”. What times. The Whittier school was just a couple blocks from Walnetto. Perhaps a child or parent was going door-to-door with this cookbook and I bought it from them? Quite likely.

And yes I googled this book. I found a couple references that confirm it was published in Boulder, Colorado – and the publication date is unknown. I could purchase it through for $22.90 (!).

Time to settle in and read. The recipes? Pretty good. Good homey main dishes for families (Pot Roast Breckenridge and Stayabed Stew). Salads for potlucks (7-Up Salad and Coco-Cola Salad). Breads and cakes and cookies and pies (Dump Cake and Turtle Cake and Monkey-Face Cookies). Many look so familiar they could have been in my own mother’s recipe box. Some are treasured family recipes:

WWfamfav1WWfamfav2Some are international recipes:

WWintl1And special treats! Little kids contributed some of the drawings and recipes.

WWkids1WWkids2WWkids3WWkids4WWkids5WWkids6I am going to make a Mexican chicken casserole for this blog. The cookbook has two similar recipes:

WWMexCassRec1WWMexCassRec2(I also have a recipe for this casserole in my own collection – but I decide not to look at it until I am done cooking a Wildcat one.)

Below is a combined version of the Whittier Wildcats recipes, with a couple small modifications of my own.

Note: This casserole is a good way to use up leftover cooked chicken, but if you don’t have any around, cook one large boneless chicken breast for this recipe.

Mexican Chicken Casserole 1
serves about 4

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 can green chiles (4 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup green chile salsa (optional)
  • 6 oz. grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • chopped fresh cilantro to taste

Mix the chicken with the garlic and some chopped cilantro and a little kosher salt and rub it all together. (This step is optional, but adds a good zip of flavor.)

Mix the cream of chicken soup with the chicken broth.

Put a little of the chicken in the bottom of an 8×8-inch baking pan. Layer with half of the tortillas. I cut the tortillas in half and layered them like this:

Mexican Chicken preparation(I put another piece of tortilla to fill in the hole in the middle but I wanted to illustrate my method.)

On top of the tortillas, add half of the remaining chicken, half of the onion, half of the soup-broth mixture, half of the green chiles, half of the green chile salsa, half of the cheese, and a sprinkling of cumin.

Add another layer of tortillas, then top with the remaining ingredients. Put a little cilantro on top for flavor and color (if you like cilantro).

Bake at 375˚ for 35-45 minutes, until the whole top is bubbly (check the center).

Mexican Chicken CasseroleThis was a huge success. The garlic, cumin and cilantro perked up the original recipe(s) but did not overwhelm the dish. I baked for 30 minutes, but it wasn’t hot in the center yet, so I modified cooking time to 45 minutes.

Now it’s time to look at my own version of this recipe. Turns out I have two: one pretty much like the Whittier versions, except it adds chopped green pepper and a can of “Rotel” tomatoes with chiles; one calls for the addition of garlic, cumin, chile powder, and canned red enchilada sauce.

Which recipe do we like best? I think this new version without any red sauce at all!

250 Cookbooks: Chicken Cookbook

Cookbook #120: Chicken Cookbook, The Pillsbury Company, 1993.

Chicken CookbookI can see me standing at the check-out counter, flipping through this advertising cookbook, getting  hooked by many chicken-cooking ideas. So I tossed it in my basket along with a pile of groceries (kids at home) and paid the $2.75 (along with a lot for the groceries).

Advertising cookbooks – love ’em and hate ’em. Their history I discussed in a previous post. I haven’t bought one in 15 years – probably because I go to the internet these days for new cooking ideas.

Not sure yet if I’ll keep this one. I see several interesting ideas for cooking chicken, although I don’t like all of the ingredients. Packaged crescent rolls, prepared pie crusts, frozen fruits and vegetables, canned fruits and vegetables, canned soups. I am more of a “from scratch” person. Still, I can use the ideas in this cookbook and substitute fresh ingredients as I like.

I decide to make “Plum Barbecued Chicken Kabobs” for this blog. It’s summer, time to use the grill! I like kabobs, although I am not a huge fan of the basic bell pepper and onion and potato and meat skewers. This recipe for chicken kabobs has grapes alternated between the chicken pieces: this should add moisture and some good flavor. I’ve never used grapes on skewers before – sounds interesting.

Plum BBQ Chicken Kabobs recipeI can’t find any plum preserves! I checked several stores. Instead I bring home a jar of apricot preserves and also a jar of “plum sauce“, an Asian condiment. (I need the plum sauce anyway for a different recipe I am trying this week, one for grilled pork chops from my Weber’s Real Grilling book.) I’ll taste each and decide which to use in the Plum Barbecued Chicken Kabobs.

Chicken and Grape Kabobs
makes 4 kabobs, serves 2-3

  • 1/2 cup plum or apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage, rubbed or leaves
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup (about) of large red or black seedless grapes

Combine the preserves, soy sauce, lemon juice, oil and sage in a small bowl – this is the marinade.

Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes. Combine with the marinade in a baggie and put in the refrigerator at least 1 hour.

Soak 4-5 bamboo skewers (or use metal ones). Remove the chicken from the marinade  – save the marinade for basting. Thread the chicken alternately with the grapes on the skewers.

Heat the grill to medium-high. Cook the kabobs for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is done. Turn them often and baste several times with the reserved marinade. (Toss the marinade when done.)

Serve. I set out the Asian plum sauce but neither of us used it.

Chicken Grape KabobsThese were great! Tasty and moist with a nice sweetness from the grapes and the marinade. I served them over raisins-mandarin orange-lemon couscous with Parmesan toast. Success!

250 Cookbooks: The Bread Basket

Cookbook #119: The Bread Basket, Standard Brands Incorporated, 1941.

The Bread Basket cookbook“‘Baking day’ isn’t on the American housewife’s calendar any more. For at her bakery or grocery . . . fresh every day . . . is a profusion of breads, rolls, cakes and pastries that’s one of the world’s wonders.

“How tempting they are . . . how delicious . . . how cheap . . . and what a world of work they save!

“But there are times when women like to run up a batch of rolls of their own, or try their hand at a coffee cake, just to see if they can still do it!”

So begins this delightful 1941 cookbook. I smile as I turn the pages.

The breads in this cookbook are all yeast breads, and Fleischmann’s yeast is specified in every recipe. (Standard Brands was formed in 1929 by J. P. Morgan by a merger of Fleischmann’s and four other companies. In 1981, Standard Brands merged with Nabisco to form Nabisco Brands, Inc.)

The copy right has expired on this cookbook, so I am going to share with you a few of my favorite pages. Let the book speak for itself!

page 2page 3Bagles! And yes, the recipe below is for “bagels”, as we spell it.

page 9page 12Corn Meal Muffins recipeI always google my cookbook titles. This time I find the Fresh Loaf website has reproduced a later version of The Bread Basket. The cover is the same, the layout is the same, but the content is different and refers to war rationing.

This was one of my mother’s cookbooks, but she didn’t make any notes in it, nor are their food stains. She must have got it soon after she was married.

I decide to make “Corn Meal Muffins” for this blog. The original recipe is in the picture just above. I think it might be interesting to use yeast as the leavening in corn muffins instead of baking powder! I hope they turn out.

A couple notes. The recipe calls for “scalded milk”. This is simply milk heated to just below boiling. This kills any bacteria that might interfere with the yeast and/or the taste of the bread. With today’s pasteurized milk, most (but not all) cooks consider this an unnecessary step.

“1 cake of yeast” probably means a 2 ounce cake of wet, compressed yeast. Although caked yeast is supposedly still available, I haven’t seen it in years, so I will use my usual active dry yeast. According to the Red Star website, 1/3 of a 2 ounce yeast cake is equal to 2 1/4 teaspoons of dry yeast. I am making a half recipe, so I should use 3 3/8 teaspoons of dry yeast. (I actually used 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast but would use more next time.)

Yeast Corn Muffins
makes 10

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 7/8 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (note added later: too yeasty, so 1 1/2 teaspoons is my suggestion)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cup flour

Scald the milk, then stir in the butter until it melts, then stir in the cornmeal. Add the brown sugar and salt. Let cool to lukewarm, then stir in the yeast, egg, and flour.

Grease a muffin pan (you will only need 10 of the muffin cups). Fill each muffin cup half full. Let rise one hour, until light.

Bake at 375˚ for 22 minutes (or until they test done).


These turned out great! Unlike baking powder muffins, these did not crumble and fall apart a lot as we ate them. They were rough and chewy! The flavor was perfect. I think these might also be good with some cooked corn off-the-cob stirred into the batter. (Maybe with green chiles and chopped red bell pepper too.)

Here are the muffins just after I put the batter into the muffin pan:

just into panHere they are after an hours’ rise. They look a little lighter or higher:

risenAnd here they are baked:

bakedThese weren’t really tall muffins, but this might be my mistake. I made a slight calculation error and only used 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast instead of 2 1/4 teaspoons. Next time they might turn out higher – but they were dang good as is! I liked them split and toasted and spread with cream cheese and jam:

muffin with jam

250 Cookbooks: Baker’s Best Chocolate Recipes

Cookbook #118: Baker’s Best Chocolate Recipes, General Foods Corporation, 1932.

Baker'a Chocolate CookbookThis small cook book had me totally fooled. Piled in a messy stack of booklets, I thought it was just another manufacturer’s cookbook from the sixties or seventies. The cover is missing. The recipes read “modern”, not dated. I find my mother’s notes on a few of the cake recipes, so it wasn’t mine. Finally I think to ask: “when was this published?” OMG, it’s from 1932! It should have been shelved with the vintage cookbooks.

I have found another treasure, albeit a little one.

Here is a photo of the cover that I got on the internet:

cover of bakers 1932 CBIn a previous on the Mexican Cookbook, I wrote about the South American origins of chocolate. “The Spaniard ships that returned to Europe were laden with seeds and cuttings, which flourished in various climates.” By 1932, chocolate had been a part of American cuisine for four hundred years. Here’s a quote from the introduction of Baker’s Best Chocolate Recipes:

“Four hundred years of popularity. Few flavors have ever had the widespread popularity of chocolate. Rich . . . smooth . . . fragrant . . .  its delightful flavor has appealed to everyone wherever and however it has been served.”

And about chocolate milk:

“Foamy, creamy-rich cocoa is a wonderful food with which to woo finicky child-appetites – an easy and delicious way of helping to include the daily quart of milk in their meals. Grown-ups welcome cocoa, too, as a way of building up run-down systems. And in this day of slimmer waists, cocoa is popular because it provides nourishment that is satisfying but not fattening.”

According to this book, the first chocolate mill in the US was built on the banks of the Neponset river in Dorchester, Massachusetts. In 1780 it became the establishment of Walter Baker and Company. We can still buy Baker’s chocolate today, although it is currently owned by Kraft Foods.

This excerpt from the book gives the story behind the logo:

chocolate storychocolate storyI will definitely keep this cookbook. Not only because it is old, but because it has good basic chocolate recipes, like for a cocoa syrup if I run out of the bottled kind, and cakes and chiffon pie and eclairs and on and on. I decide to make the brownies for this blog. Sure, I have dozens of recipes for brownies, but this one is from 1932! I think one of my older cookbooks has the original brownie recipe, but that will be the subject of a later blog post.

Here is a scan of the brownies page and the facing page, just to show you the condition of this book:

brownies recipeHere is a larger version of the recipe:

brownies recipeThat’s my mother’s “good” on the recipe. The photo of these brownies is on another page:

browniesI made these just like the recipe, except I cooked them a little less. I even used Baker’s chocolate:

Baker's baking chocolateBrownies, 1932 Baker’s version

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 ounces Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Stir together the flour and baking powder.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan and let cool a bit.

Beat the eggs, then add the sugar and beat it in. Add the chocolate mixture, beating thoroughly, then add the flour mixture, the vanilla, and the nuts.

Bake in a greased 8-inch square pan for 30-35 minutes, until they test done with a toothpick.

browniesPerfect brownies!