pastry crust

3 cups flour
1 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (or butter), not melted
1 tsp salt
1 egg
5 Tb water
1 Tb vinegar

Combine dry ingredients first, then add shortening/butter with a fork. All this is much easier in a food processor, if you have one. Mix until it resembles coarse meal (15 seconds in the FP). Add the egg, water & vinegar until the dough holds together when pinched. If necessary add more water. Do not process more than 30 seconds.

Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather in a ball. This is enough for 3 single crusts, so you can divide into 3 balls, and wrap for later. The easiest thing to do is flatten them into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes before using. This will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour. You can also freeze them for later too.

After chilling, place on a lightly floured surface and roll into a ball. Continue lifting as you roll to prevent sticking. Roll from the center outwards. Fold the flattened crust in half and gently transfer to a 9 inch pie dish. Finish the edges as you desire!

pumpkin puree

To make your own Pumpkin Puree
Choose a nice pumpkin from your local pumpkin patch, or grow your own!! *Sugar Pie, Baby Bear or Cheese Pumpkins work the best for making fresh puree. A 5-7 pound pumpkin will make 2 pies easily. Wash your pumpkin and cut in half (lengthwise). Remove all the seeds & stringy fibers with a spoon or canning lid. Place face down on a baking sheet with a lip (add about 1/2 cup water). Bake at 350F (177C) for 45-75 minutes (depending on the size) until it can be easily pierced with a knife/fork. Remove from the oven and cool long enough so that you can scoop out the pumpkin flesh without burning yourself OR remove skin with a knife while still on the baking sheet. Blend in a blender or food processor until very smooth. We like to strain the excess liquid with a cheesecloth or collander. Freeze or can for future use, or use right away!

pumpkin pie

  • 2 cups pumpkin puree OR 1 (15 ounce) canned pumpkin
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk OR heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • OR 2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
Preheat oven to 450F. Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add pumpkin, evaporated milk, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Place unbaked pie on a large baking sheet/pan to catch any spills. Bake 15 minutes at this temperature, in the bottom 1/3 of your oven.

Reduce oven temp to 350F and continue baking 35-40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!! Top with whipped topping.

Makes one 9-inch pie!

Include a pecan & gingersnap layer in your crust!!
1/4 cup pecans, toasted
1/4 cup gingersnap cookies, crushed

Toast the pecans, and process them until finely ground. Process the cookies, and combine. Press the mixture evenly on the bottom of the pie crust before you add the pie filling. Try it sometime!


This is a recipe that I have watched my dad make for years, and he learned it from his grandma "Ma" so its been passed on for awhile now! I still think his burgers are the best!!

1 pound ground beef (you can also use turkey, etc.)
onion, chopped fine
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
mushrooms, chopped fine
1 egg
spices (rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, as desired)
bread crumbs
Optional: chopped cilantro

Makes 4-6 burgers, depending on the size of your bread/bun.
Saute the chopped onion, garlic & mushroom. Add to your ground beef in a large bowl, along with the egg. Add your mixture of spices to please your taste, and mix well. Then add bread crumbs to thicken and soak up any runny egg. Form your patties and cook to your preference. You may sear in a pan and fry, or barbecue over a fire. As great grandma Ma would say, "Nuthin' to it!"

You can also use the same mixture to make meatballs. These can be added to spaghetti, stroganoff, etc. Another option is to make a larger batch, and cover it with the sauce of your choice and bake for meatloaf.
glory to my Dad, and generations past....

chocolate cake/cupcakes

A fluffy & moist chocolate cake mix! (pictured below as cupcakes with peanut butter frosting)

2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening

To make the cake, add:

1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs

Make the cake mix by combining the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Using an electric mixer or a food processor, blend in the shortening until no lumps remain. (Using the mixer on this makes a dusty cocoa mess, so its easier if you have a food procesor!) This is the dry cake mix part, and you can store it in an air-tight container for several months. Finish making the cake by adding the water, oil, and eggs to the cake mix in a large bowl. Mix on low speed until moistened, and then beat on medium for about 2 minutes. Pour batter into greased and floured pans (one 9x13-inch pan, two 9-inch round cake pans, or about 24 cupcakes) and bake at 350 degrees.

9x13-inch pan: 35-38 minutes
9-inch cake pans: 30-33 minutes
cupcakes: 19-22 minutes


2 cups white sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 tsp vanilla extract

Make frosting by combining frosting ingredients in a sauce pan and heating over medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring mixture to a boil and then boil and stir for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Using an electric mixer, beat frosting on high until it starts to thicken to a frosting consistency. The frosting will continue to thicken as it cools, so don't beat it too long. Once it is spreadable, spread half of the frosting over the first layer of the cooled cake, working quickly. Place the second piece of cake on top and insert a few toothpicks if desired, to keep the cake layers from shifting. Finish frosting the cake. If your frosting is too thick, add milk.

jiaozi OR guotie = potstickers

I can't say enough good things about these delicious nuggets. They are perfect. Thanks to Shu dajie (big sister) for teaching us how to make this famous Chinese dish! You can obviously change the amounts, meat/veggies, and even substitute anything you may not care for. There are many kinds of Jiaozi in the world yet to be created! ....but plan on spending 3-4 hours with some friends!

Main Ingredients:
6 chicken* breasts, ground or chopped fine
green onions, 1 bunch
spinach, 1 med bunch
cilantro, 1 bunch
6-8 large white mushrooms
1 small eggplant, peeled
baby cabbage*, 1/2 bunch
garlic, to taste (1-2 cloves minced)
1-2 T fresh ginger, minced

3/4 cup oil (1/2 cup vegetable, 1/4 cup sesame oil)
2 T salt
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/2 T Hua jiao fen* (spicy peppercorn powder)
1/5 tsp chicken bullion powder

Extra Items Needed:
200+ round Jiaozi wraps*
oil for frying
large wok with lid
basting brush
soy sauce for dipping

Preparation (1.5 hours)
Chop all your main ingredients finely (see pict above), and mix together in a large mixing bowl. Add flavorings, and continue to mix well. You can cut back on oil if you desire. This mixture should smell really great. Put a small dab of stuffing into the center of the wrap, and pinch the top together. There are many ways to close the wraps, so watch this funny video if you want to see some action and great demonstration., or you can watch us "in action" too. Lay your Jiaozi on a large board before you fly/steam.

Frying (1.5 hours)
Heat small amount of oil in the bottom of your wok until hot. Place Jiaozi (about 15) neatly in the wok, on one side. Fry for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. Flip each Jiaozi, and splash with water from a basting brush 10-15 times. Cover immediately, and steam for 4+ minutes until done. The water keeps them from getting too dried out. Serve warm with soy sauce for dipping.

Steaming (1+ hours)

You will need a large steamer, with 1-2 levels of steaming layers. Steam Jiaozi for 12-15 minutes, depending on the type of meat you use.

Happy wrapping & devouring!

*if you use beef, lamb or pork - you will need to cook the Jiaozi longer to make sure the meat is cooked thru.
glory to Shu dajie, a wonderful woman & joyful friend

dumplings over soup/stew

2 cups flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 T butter
1 cup milk

Mix flour, salt & baking powder in a bowl. Bring butter & milk to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add milk mixture to your dry ingredients and stir with a fork or knead by hand 2-3 times until mixture comes together. Divide dough into 14-16 puffy dumplings, and roll into a rough ball. Gently lay the formed dumplings on the surface of your stew or soup. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. They are rich & fluffy when done! Serve immediately.

chicken salad

Simple chicken salad - perfect for sandwiches, picnics, etc.

1 cup mayonnaise (or more if you like it creamier)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 T lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon celery salt

2-3 chicken breasts, diced/shredded (boiled 20 min or use leftovers)
2 celery stalks, sliced small
1/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup cashews or almonds, chopped
1 tsp dill seed or tarragon
1-2 T fresh parsley, chopped
green onion, chopped fine
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Whisk together first 6 ingredients until combined. Then add chicken, celery, onion and other ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the mayonnaise mixture over the chicken mixture and stir until evenly combined. Refrigerate until chilled. Serve as sandwiches with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, etc.

veggie stir fry

olive/vegetable oil to taste (1/3 cup?)
1/2 onion, sliced or diced
4-6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 carrot (peeled, cut into thin strips)
1 head broccoli, cut into small flowerets
1 squash, sliced into bite-sized chunks
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 head cabbage
soy sauce - a few splashes to taste (3-6 T maybe?)
(other veggies ideas: zucchini, cauliflower, green beans, green peas, snow peas, water chestnuts, cashews, tomatoes, green/red bell pepper, baby corn, etc. The ideas are endless!)

Heat oil in large wok until hot. Add onions & garlic - stir until cooked well*. Add carrots and stir continuously, for about 5-10 minutes (until almost cooked thru). Add broccoli & squash, stirring well. Splash with soy sauce & mix again. Add water and stir some more. This is called a STIR fry, so it includes lots of stirring! Cover with lid and steam 1-2 minutes. Add cabbage towards the end, with 1 minute to spare. We like our veggies cooked but still firm (not soggy). You can steam (& stir) longer if you like. Serve over rice!

*If you must add meat to this concoction - you can insert here. Chicken, shrimp, and even beef will compliment this dish nicely. I think grilled salmon would be a-mazing with this dish! Maybe a teriyaki salmon fillet. Yum!!

play dough

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup salt
1 T oil
2 tsp cream of tartar
food coloring
scented peppermint oil or koolaid drink packet (makes it smell great!)

Mix the above items in a pan, then heat on the stove over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture becomes thick and forms a gooey ball. Cool on waxed paper. Knead desired food coloring into the dough when cool enough to handle. Store in a seal-able bag. Dough will remain elastic for a few weeks if stored well. This is a great 4-year old afternoon activity. Add cookie cutters, slicing-ma-jiggers for pure fun.
glory to Sonlight Pre-K Curriculum, and the amazing ideas within!

spicy* chicken & squash sautee

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 T salt (or more to taste)
2 chicken breasts, cubed
6-10 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 onion, chopped or sliced
2 tomatoes, diced small
2 large squash, sliced thin
1/2 cup+ boiling water
*Optional: 1 green pepper, chopped (remove seeds, unless you like the extra spicy kick)

Heat oil in a large wok until very hot. Add salt before adding diced chicken. Sautee chicken until cooked thru, then add garlic & onions. Cook on med-high heat 5 min. Add diced tomatoes and simmer until cooked down into a tomato sauce. Add water (and some salt) if you want more sauce. Taste the broth to get the right saltiness, before you finally add squash & green peppers to simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until tender. We sometimes let the chicken simmer longer to make it tender. This is easy to prepare quickly - and can be altered for spiciness, and stretched for visitors! We serve it over white rice.
glory to Zoram - who whipped this up with the random stuff in my fridge.

EZ pizza dough

Makes enough for two med sized pizzas. Double it if you want extra dough!

3 cups flour
2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
seasonings: black pepper, sage, basil, etc (to taste)

Stir dry ingredients, including yeast. Add water and olive oil and combine well. Knead everything into a ball. Lightly oil the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise 1-2 hours. It should double in size. Later dump onto a floured counter, and divide into balls for your pizzas. Roll out to your desired thickness and place on a baking sheet that is sprinkled with cornmeal. Add toppings and bake for about 10-15 minutes until crisp & blistered.


2 cups flour
2 T sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
1.5 c milk
1/4 cup oil/melted shortening

Optional: cinnamon, dash of lemon juice, chocolate chips, banana chunks, blueberries, raisins!

Combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Beat eggs, and add milk & oil in separate bowl. Combine and mix well. If more milk is needed - add some more until you get the right consistency. We usually add 1/4-1/2 cup more! Do no beat, but just stir until combined well. Cook on a hot griddle, flipping when bubbly. Makes about 15 3-inch pancakes. If you can perfect this recipe, you might earn the title of "Pancake King" like Justin holds in our home. :)

You can easily morph this recipe into waffles by separating the egg yolks/whites - keeping the yolks with the milk mixture. Beat the egg whites and fold in at the end. :)
glory to Wyc International Cookbook, and a few tips from Poppa Joe!

cinnamon graham squares - whole wheat!

Sweetened with honey & brown sugar and packed with whole wheat flour, these squares are a healthy & filling snack. They are also quite inexpensive to make, and great for kids. You can also add chocolate or banana's to them if you want to change it up.

6 c whole wheat flour (you can substitute also)
1 1/2 c oatmeal
1 c brown sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
3 T cinnamon
3/4 c honey
1 1/2 c oil
1 cup cold water
This recipe is large, so you can half it if you want.
Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Combine honey, oil, and water in a separate bowl. Mix well, then add to dry ingredients and stir until mixture forms a thick, crumbly dough. Grease two 9x9 baking pans and let your kids "mash" the mixture into each pan. You can't really go wrong as you press the dough flat. Using a butter knife, pre-cut your squares. Bake for 13-15 min at 400 degrees F - until lightly browned. Cool (if you can even wait!), re-slice, and store in an air-tight container. You can also freeze for later.

Yuanxiao Dumplings

No Lantern Festival (元宵节 Yuánxiāo Jié) is complete without some sweet, stuffed dumplings made with "sticky" rice flour (汤圆 tāng yuán). Here is an easy recipe using very few ingredients. You can find all these items in any Asian market, OR you can just buy Yuanxiao there. If you enjoy cooking though - give this a try!

There are so many versions of this treat - and can be filled with countless fillings. Sweet fillings = black sesame paste, tangerine peel, walnuts, black jasmine, white jasmine, peanuts+sugar, & fruity fillings. Savory fillings = meat, vegetables, fish, & red beans.,

Prep time = 15 min, Cook time = 30+ min.
4.5 cups (500 g) sticky rice flour
Water, as needed (4 cups on average?)

7 oz (200 g) butter
7 oz (200 g) black sesame powder*
8 oz (250 g) sugar
1 tsp wine

Put 4 (?) cups water into the sticky rice flour and mix by hand to make the sticky-rice-dough. Shape the dough of the sticky rice into half balls, with a depression for the filling.

Make the filling by heating butter with sesame powder, sugar, and wine. When cooled - make small dime-sized balls and drop into the sticky-rice depressions!! Close the half-ball to form a full round ball. Smooth it out by rolling between your hands. Place in boiling water and cook until they begin to float on the surface. Cook (med heat) for about 30-40 minutes in boiling water. You can serve as a soup (in the water you boiled) or alone. I have also seen them rolled in powdered sugar afterwards.

*If you can't find the black sesame powder, just grind black sesame seeds in a food processor. If you buy fresh black sesame seeds - you can put them on a cookie sheet in the oven on 375 F. Stir a few times while cooking - about 20 min. Then grind until smooth in a blender or food processor.

I have yet to find a Chinese person with a cookbook! Recipes are not really written down, but passed along from mother to daughter, from sister to brother and from friend to friend. They teach each other recipes by cooking the meal together.

honey oatmeal bread

7.5 oz water, 80 degrees
3 T honey
2 c bread flour
1 c oats, quick or old fashioned
1.5 T dry milk
1.25 tsp salt
1.5 T butter, cut into four pieces
2 tsp active dry yeast

Get out yer handy dandy bread machine. Add water & honey. Add dry ingredients. Tap to settle ingredients, make a small well in the middle for your yeast, with no water poking thru. Place one piece of butter in each corner, and put the yeast in the middle. Set machine for basic. Watch while kneading - if it is crumbly, add water 1 T at a time. If it is sticking to the sides after 5 minutes of kneading, add flour 1 Tbs at a time. Enjoy!!

wheat bread

A slightly sweet, healthy half-whole-wheat bread

1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 T milk
2 T oil
2 T honey
2 T brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp dry yeast

*Combine first 6 ingredients in a large mixing bowl; stir. Add flours and yeast, and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10-15 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover with a clean towel and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes. Punch dough down; knead for a few minutes until smooth and then form into a loaf. Place in greased loaf pan and cover. Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. If loaf starts browning too soon, lightly lay a piece of foil on top of the loaf to prevent too much darkening. Remove bread from oven and allow to rest in pan for a few minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cover with a cloth. Slice and enjoy while still warm! Leftover bread can be stored in an airtight bag or frozen until needed.

*OR - add all ingredients (in this order) into a breadmaker.

chicken Cordon Bleu

6 chicken breasts pounded
1 cube butter (softened)
1/2 tsp. each: garlic powder, oregano, parsley & sage
Monterey jack cheese
Thinly sliced ham (optional) We use beef bacon!
Bread crumbs & Parmesan cheese

Pound chicken with a meat cleaver. Cut cheese into finger size sticks. Mix softened butter with herbs, and spread onto chicken breasts. Top with ham (beef bacon?) and cheese. Roll breasts, tuck in sides (use toothpicks if desired). Refrigerate 4 hours or over night. When ready to bake, roll chicken breasts in melted butter and then in bread crumbs & parmesan cheese. Bake at 400F for 15 min.

Sauce: Mix together over med heat.
1 cup jack cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 green onions
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. sage
1/2 cup wine

Spoon white sauce around chicken rolls and bake 15 more min, or until done.
glory to Geri B - a whiz in the kitchen!