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Monthly Archives: July 2014

Two Sisters, Serial #3 and Homemade Ready Tarts

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See what a story about young sisters will do to ya? Before you know it, you’re cooking nothing but kid favorites–and loving every minute of it! Since starting the serialization of Two Sisters, we’ve had Oatmeal Cream CookieChocolate Brownie Pie, and now Homemade Ready Tarts! (We’ll let a certain unnamed mega food company keep their trademarked name.)

The funny thing is, we didn’t plan this side excursion into kid food. Must be something in the air–not only the new novel but also the time of year: summer vacation, beach and pool weather, a youthful exuberance and love of life in the long days. I suppose you could call it escapism, and I don’t think you want to check the nutrition values on our recent recipes. But sometimes we have to set all that serious and responsible adult stuff aside and tap into our inner child, to rediscover what it is to be in love with life and living in the sumptuous present. Maybe these Homemade Ready Tarts will help you do just that–we hope so.

And check out Brooke and Leah in this week’s Two Sisters, Serial #3. They’re not eating kid food but smoking a cigarette (at least one of them is) in the backyard treehouse. Not all of those kid experiences were of the pure and innocent sort, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t full of life and adventure and sharing. Brooke and Leah are on that journey. Why not join them for a little while?


Homemade Ready Tarts

1 sheet premade or homemade pie crust

1/3 cup fruit preserves, Nutella, Biscoff, peanut butter, or filling of your choice

1 egg

1 Tablespoon water

1 egg white

1-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

homemade poptarts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.

Cut the pie crust sheet into six similar sized pieces and put them on the prepared cookie sheet. Divide the filling between three pieces, making sure to spread the filling evenly while leaving about 1/2 inch border. Place the remaining three pie crust pieces on top of the filling. With a fork, make creases along the edges, ensuring that the pie crust pieces are completely sealed together.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon of water. Lightly brush the tops of each tart with the egg wash. Afterwards, use a sharp knife to cut a few slits on the top of each tart.

Place the tarts in the preheated oven and bake for 18-22 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the tarts from the oven and allow to cool completely on the cookie sheet.

While the tarts are cooling, make the glaze by beating the egg white until it is frothy. Slowly add one cup of powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat these ingredients together until a smooth glaze forms. If you want a thicker frosting, add more powdered sugar. (I used about 1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar.) Once the tarts are cool, spoon the glaze over top. Garnish with sprinkles before the glaze sets, if desired.

Makes 3 tarts.

homemade poptart

 Click below to listen to or read Serial #3 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #3, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #3, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters, Serial #2 and Chocolate Brownie Pie

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We’re one step closer to Heaven.

No, I’m not talking about Brooke and Leah, the young sisters of our new serialized novel Two Sisters. Actually, in this week’s segment, they’re having a fight, which I guess puts them a step farther from their Heaven, as they are really dependent on each other and being at odds causes them all sorts of discomfort. But then Leah escapes into her own fantasy world, which does perhaps place her closer to Heaven, if only for a little while and only within her own imagination. But I guess that’s better than nothing.

But the “closer to Heaven” I was referring to is this week’s recipe, which combines two perfect concepts–well, three if you agree that anything chocolate immediately qualifies as perfect. I love brownies, the fudgier the better. And I love pie, any kind of pie. The whole idea of a crispy pastry crust encasing a yummy filling is, well, Heaven. So a Chocolate Brownie Pie? Like I said, one step closer to Heaven. Didn’t know life could be this good!

And check out our new novel. The girls may be fighting this week, but their youthful energy and love of life, and their care and devotion to one another are pretty cool–one step closer to Heaven in its own right.

brownie pie

Chocolate Brownie Pie

1 pre-made pie crust

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

rich brownie pie

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using either a 6-inch pie plate or 5×7 inch baking dish, press about half of the pre-made pie crust into your dish. Cut off any excess crust.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cocoa powder, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, eggs, and vanilla. With an electric mixer or handheld mixer, beat the ingredients on low until they come together. Once the ingredients begin to blend together, increase the speed and beat on medium until the mixture becomes glossy.

Pour the batter into the pie crust. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the center is set. Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool completely before slicing. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

brownie pie bite

{Adapted from Cookies and Cups}

 Click below to listen to or read Serial #2 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #2, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #2, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters, Serial #1 and Giant Oatmeal Cream Cookie

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“You’ve come a long way, baby!”

Am I the only one to remember that advertising slogan from the 70s? It was a cigarette commercial, as I recall. Whatever happened to cigarette commercials anyway? Not that we need more commercials–just wondering.

Well, in the past week, Reading and Recipes has come a long way (baby!). Last week, Angels Unawares ended at a grave side. This week, Two Sisters begins with youthful abandon, literally–two young girls on a summer outing to a community pool. And our recipe selections have also come a long way, from the delicate complexity and surprise of Magic Cake to the familiar and youthful (O.K.–childish!) satisfaction of a Giant Oatmeal Cream Cookie.

So big transitions in a short period of time.

But within these changes, some things stay the same. The dessert recipes are easy and fun and designed for one or two people to make and eat in an afternoon or evening. And the stories highlight simple acts of courage and love and commitment that are the bedrock of our human interaction and sustenance but are perhaps too often ignored in our daily news and literature.

So come on with us–a long way that really isn’t that far.

up close oatmeal cream pie

 Giant Oatmeal Cream Cookie

Oatmeal Cookies:

1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 cup quick oats*

1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg 

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Filling:

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup marshmallow cream

4-5 Tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

2-3 teaspoons milk or cream

oatmeal cream pie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat, or use a nonstick cookie sheet.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, add the butter. Beat the butter with a handheld mixer on high speed until the butter is creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat into the butter. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix into the butter until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Using a spatula or spoon, slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well mixed.

Divide the dough in half, roll into balls, and place on opposite sides of the cookie sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling, make the cream filling by beating together the butter and marshmallow cream. Slowly add the powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, and two teaspoons of milk. If the cream filling is too thick, add one more teaspoon of milk. Mix all of the ingredients together until the filling is fluffy.

Once the cookies are cooled, spread the filling onto the bottom of one cookie. Top with other cookie. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Makes 1 giant cookie.

*If you only have old-fashioned oats on hand, put 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats into a food processor and pulse a few times. You want to the oats to break up into smaller pieces, about half the size of the original oat.

oatmeal cream pie bite

{Cookies adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction, cream filling adapted from Cooking to Perfection}

 Click below to listen to or read Serial #1 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #1, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #1, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Angels Unawares, Serial #28 and Magic Cake

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So what makes Magic Cake magic?

Does it make itself? Well, no (you’ve been watching too many reruns of I Dream of Jeannie). Does it frost itself? No, though we do have a self-frosting cake recipe we might pull out for later. Is it zero calories? Nice try, but no. Well then, I give up–just tell us and stop with the stupid game of twenty questions.

O.K. This Magic Cake (there may be others so named out there) is “magic” because it becomes two cakes in one as it bakes. The top and outer edges are light and airy, almost like an angel food cake. But the middle and lower half are dense and eggy, like a rich custard. And that’s what makes it “magic,” two cakes in one from very basic ingredients and a simple recipe. Dust it with a little confectioner’s sugar, serve it with some fresh fruit on the side or all by itself. It’s nice as a unique after-dinner dessert, but just as appropriate for a brunch or lunch sweet. And don’t tell anyone, but it’s mighty tasty cold (keep any leftovers in the fridge) for breakfast. So I guess it’s “magic” for its versatility as well.

Oh, and one final thing, this cake is magic (to us, anyway) as it is the companion recipe for the last chapter of Angels Unawares. Our serialized novel that began on the second day of what was then the “new” year wraps up this week with Serial #28. Give it a look, or go all the way back here to check out the beginning.

  magic cake

Magic Cake

2 eggs, separated

6 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup lukewarm milk

powdered sugar for dusting

close up

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 5×7 inch pan with cooking spray, and set aside.

Put the egg whites in a clean bowl and beat with a handheld mixer until stiff.

In a separate bowl, add the egg yolks and granulated sugar. Beat until the yolks turn light yellow. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract, and mix all of the ingredients together. Slowly mix in some of the flour, then some of the milk. Continue to alternate and add these two ingredients, beginning and ending with the flour. The batter will be very thin. Once the flour and milk have been mixed into the batter, fold in the egg whites.

Pour the batter into prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the cake is mostly set. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool completely. When ready to serve, sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Makes 4 servings.


{Adapted from Jo Cooks}

Click the cover below for a link to the entire novel.

Click the links below the cover to listen to or read Angels Unawares, Serial #28.


Angels Unawares, Serial #28, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Angels Unawares, Serial #28, text © Jeffrey Anderson



Angels Unawares, Serial #27 and No Bake Peach Cheesecakes

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Out of the strawberries–and into the peaches!

Those of y’all (guess where we’re from–then again, we could be faking our regional identity; you never know) who follow this blog regularly (must be one or two of you out there) know we recently went through a strawberry phase, as we designated strawberries the Reading and Recipes fruit of the spring and highlighted them in several recipes.

Well, springtime is over; it’s on into summer.

And while there are many fruits associated with summer, the early summer fruit of our choice is the peach. In the temperate climates, local peaches are starting to show up on fruit stands and in the farmer’s markets. And if you’re lucky, and willing to brave the heat and those rickety leaning ladders and the itchiness of peach fuzz, you may be able to find a pick-your-own peach orchard nearby where you can pick this delicious fruit at the peak of its ripeness and juiciness. A truly ripe peach doesn’t last long or transport well, so you probably won’t find one in the grocery store. They are worth the effort if you have an orchard nearby.

And once you have your peaches (from whatever source), save out a couple for these No Bake Peach Cheesecakes. As the name tells you, this is a great summertime recipe because you don’t have to heat up the oven or the kitchen. And the graham cracker crust and Greek yogurt are the perfect complement to the delicate flavor and sweetness of the peaches. What a great treat to kick-off the Season of the Peach!

Bring on the heat. We’re ready now–with these No Bake Peach Cheesecakes!

mini peach cheesecakes

No Bake Peach Cheesecakes

4 mini graham cracker crusts

2 medium ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons water, divided

2 teaspoons cornstarch

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup peach Greek yogurt

2 Tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, combine the peaches, granulated sugar, and 1 tablespoon of water. Heat this mixture over med-high heat, stirring occasionally, and bring to a boil. While you are waiting for that mixture to boil, mix together the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water. Once the peach mixture comes to a boil, stir in cornstarch. Bring the mixture to a boil again and stir constantly. Boil for 2 minutes, or until the mixture thickens, and remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, yogurt, powdered sugar, and vanilla with a handheld mixer for 3-4 minutes, or until very fluffy. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the graham cracker crusts. Top the cheesecake mixture with the peaches.

Refrigerate for at least an hour, or until ready to serve.

Makes 4 mini cheesecakes.

peach cheesecake

{Adapted from Cooking to Perfection}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #27 of “Angels Unawares”.

Angels Unawares, Serial #27, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Angels Unawares, Serial #27, text © Jeffrey Anderson