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A Once-a-Year Dessert: Plum Crunch

9 Sep

I try to convince myself that if I could have this dessert more than once a year, it would not be as special. I’m not quite convinced yet.

Originally Posted September 14, 2012.

Reposting this recipe today, September 9, 2013, in honor of my mom’s birthday!

Happy Birthday Mom!

You know how little kids say they wish it were Christmas every day, or their birthday every day? Isn’t our answer that if it were every day, then it wouldn’t be special when we had it, that it has to be once a year or it wouldn’t mean as much?


I wish I could have Plum Crunch every day.

Well, if not every day, then at least more than the once-a-year that I do have it.

I know, then it wouldn’t be special, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah…

I get it.


Why, you ask, do we only have this once a year?

I’m sure you were asking. Somewhere, someone is asking right now.

It’s because it uses a particular kind of plum, not just any plum, an Italian Prune Plum, these little half-sized plums that are available in our stores just in the fall. Really, just in September.

As a kid, I remember having them for my school lunch snacks in the fall. They’re just so cute. Cuter than the plums you get all the rest of the time. And they make this recipe SO delicious. My mom made it every fall and she and I love it more than anyone in our family, hands down.

I actually had a little thrill when I gave my kids these plums for the first time, as it brought back memories of eating them myself as a kid. I love passing those types of memories and traditions down to my own kids as well.

Top it with ice cream….even more deliciousness…

Now I will say, I’ve never tried this Plum Crunch with any other kind of plum, but I just assume it won’t be the same because otherwise the recipe would say you could use any plums and eat it any time.

So before the window has shut for you to try this recipe I am sharing it with you today.

Quick, run out and get your plums so you can try it this weekend!


3 cups halved and pitted Italian Prune Plums (about 18 but I always buy extra in case one is bad or in case my kids want to eat some out of the dish.)

3 TBL brown sugar
3 TBL sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg


1 egg well beaten
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 to 3/4 cup oatmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup melted margarine

This recipe is so simple, we always have everything in the house to make it, except for the plums.


Spray 9×13 baking dish with no stick spray.

Put prepared plums cut side up on the bottom of the pan.

Mix the two sugars and the nutmeg together and sprinkle over fruit.

Beat the egg in a bowl, then add the dry ingredients together.

Mix til crumbly. Sprinkle over plums.

Pour melted butter over all.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 35 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream.

The Reverse Dinner Party

3 Dec
Just two years ago, we were in the midst of all this, but a great new tradition did come out of it!

Just two years ago, we were in the midst of all this, but a great new tradition did come out of it!

Some of you know that two years ago my husband had surgery on his leg. He had ruptured his achilles tendon and he had a cast on his leg for several months, and was on crutches with a boot for several more. It was a long year for him and for us, and a very humbling experience, but believe it or not, some good did come out of it.

The Reverse Dinner Party is one of those good things.
During the initial few weeks after the surgery we had lots of help from family and friends. We had people raking leaves and bringing meals and staying over, all to help us out. It was an incredible outpouring of generosity.

When things died down a little, we had some friends of ours, the Garabedian family, ask us if they could bring us dinner and hang out for the evening. We welcomed the fun and the food, and we said we’d make dessert. So they cooked at their house, we cleaned up at ours, and made dessert, and they arrived on our doorstep that evening with their two girls and our dinner.

It was their turn to cook dinner this time, and we were treated to turkey and all the fixins!

It was their turn to cook dinner this time, and we were treated to turkey and all the fixins!

With that one gesture, a new tradition was created: The Reverse Dinner Party. Our friends had brought dinner to us at our house but the next month when Don was more mobile, they asked us to come for dinner at their house. It seemed unfair to have them make dinner for us again, so we decided to treat them and we brought dinner to them at their house and this time they provided dessert.

It became a fun treat and a little bit of a break, too. If you had to clean your house for company, at least you “only” had to make dessert along with the cleaning. If you had to cook the main dish, at least you didn’t have to worry about making your house presentable for guests at the same time.

Monkey bread and pumpkin pie for dessert!

Monkey bread and pumpkin pie for dessert!

There was also an element of surprise with some of our Reverse Dinner Parties. We would try not to tell the others ahead of time, what we were going to make. We’ve had all kinds of things and so far there has never been a time where we haven’t liked what the others have made. It’s also been a fun time to try out something new.

This month, we did know that the Garabedians were bringing a turkey diner, so I planned a pumpkin pie for dessert, to go along with it. I also made a new dessert that I had on hand in my pantry: a banana chocolate chip monkey bread. Both desserts and all of the dinner courses got all thumbs up from all nine of us.

This year we agreed to do a Yankee Swap in between dinner and dessert.

This year we agreed to do a Yankee Swap in between dinner and dessert.

We’ve had our dinners in all seasons, indoors and out. We’ve had drinks and desserts over a fire, sometimes we play games, and this time around we incorporated a Yankee Swap, just in time for the holidays. The kids and the adults all had a blast, so I’m sure we’ll do it again next year.

In the end, it’s a night together with friends and it’s the sharing of a meal that really matters. It amazes me to think that we began this tradition two years ago, and I am grateful to our friends who asked simply if they could bring us dinner.

Five Thumbs Up: Apple Butter Bars

30 Nov

Caroline loves using the pastry cutter to cut the butter into recipes. This one provided a perfect opportunity to use it!

I’ve got a great new recipe for you, and it got all thumbs up from everyone in my house this week! That almost never happens!

I originally found this recipe for Apple Butter Bars on Pinterest, but it’s from the site Three Many Cooks.  I pinned it because my kids love apple butter. Overall the recipe seemed somewhat healthy: no eggs, no white sugar. Apple butter is healthy in itself, so other than the stick of butter that helps to form the crust and topping, it’s not so bad for you, I don’t think.

Caroline made these herself and it was a very easy recipe to follow. If I could change any one thing about it, I’d double it! It makes an 8×8 dish, but with five of us, it didn’t leave many leftovers to last into the next day(s).

Here is the recipe from Three Many Cooks. Enjoy!

Apple Butter-Cinnamon Bars with Oatmeal Crumble

Makes 16 bars

Relatively healthy ingredients makes for a keeper on my list!


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted
1 cup apple butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Spread the apple butter between the layers.


Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, and heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8- by 8-inch baking pan with vegetable cooking spray, then line pan bottom and up and over 2 sides with heavy-duty foil to facilitate removal of bars from pan. Coat foil with vegetable cooking spray.

Mix flour, oatmeal, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in butter with a fork until well mixed and clumps form. Spread half the oatmeal mixture over pan bottom and up the sides about 1/4 inch, pressing to form a thin crust. Mix apple butter and cinnamon in a small bowl; spread mixture over crust and then sprinkle remaining oatmeal mixture over apple mixture.

Bake until crisp and golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Set on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Use foil “handles” to remove bars from pan. (Can be double wrapped and frozen for several months.). Cut into squares and serve.

A word about re-runs

19 Oct

Yup, I’m already thinking now about my holiday baking!

Fall is here, and winter is coming. Last year I began posting daily around this time of year, in order to fit in all of my holiday-worthy and seasonal recipes.

I also featured winter crafts and children’s book recommendations to go along with each of the recipes in December.

This year I will be re-running some of those recipe posts as I see fit, in order to let my newer followers in on those yummy treats. Although I do try out new recipes once a week or so, when it comes to my holiday baking, I am steeped in tradition and I do not veer off that path very often. Therefore, I won’t have 20 new Christmas Cookie Tray recipes for you again this year, since I shared most all of my tray treats with you last year. So if you are a regular, long-time reader, you may see a few things that ring a bell as looking awfully familiar. I hope those re-runs will remind you that you always wanted to try that recipe last year and never got to, or that you loved it so much you can’t wait to make it again.

In the meantime, if you’d like to look back at my holiday treats from last year right now, you can type in Pumpkin Palooza (Thanksgiving) or Your Tray or Mine? (Christmas), or even click on November and December 2011 to take a look!

As always, if you have a recipe you’d like me to try, feel free to email it to me and I’ll add it to my list, which is super-long, of things I want to try one day! Thank you in advance for sharing your recipes with me and for being such a great, supportive blog audience!


Swedish Apple Pie

5 Oct

When September rolls around, it’s time for apple pie!

It’s my second-favorite time of year, other than summer: it’s fall in New England! There’s nothing like it, a beautiful season for all of the senses.

It’s actually already October now, really more pumpkin time than apple time, but I realized that I had never posted this recipe and I made it at least a month ago! It’s an oldie but goodie from my mom’s kitchen. The recipe card she originally wrote the recipe on states that she got it from “Good Neighbors.”

I like this recipe because it’s different than your typical two crust apple pie and because it’s fast. When I don’t have a crust on hand, I almost always have flour, sugar, butter and eggs, which is just about all you need to make this pie.

Before you whip out your pumpkin ingredients this October, try this pie while it’s still apple-picking time!

Simple ingredients mean that I almost always have them on hand!


Fill a 9″ pie plate 2/3 full with peeled Cortland or Macintosh apple slices.

Sprinkle with a mixture of:

1 TBL Cinnamon
2 TBL Sugar

Next, in a medium bowl, mix together:

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) melted butter or margarine
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup flour

Spread over apple slices and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with whipped cream, ice cream….or both!

A Great Snack for Fall: Cranberry “Brownies”

21 Sep

Alex’s favorite new snack.

Yesterday morning, as I was debating which fall dessert recipe to post for today, Alexandra came up to me and said, “Mom, when are you going to make that snack again?”

“Which snack?”

“You know…The One.  In the bag. The one you made us.”

Well, that narrows it right down, right?

Actually, the thing that clued me in was when she said, “In the bag,” because this particular snack was so yummy I cut them up and put them in baggies for the kids to take in their lunches the day after I first made them. They all loved them and I knew this new recipe was a keeper for sure.

So there it was. The snack. In the bag.

That’s what I should have called today’s post.

I tried this recipe a couple of weeks back when I was absolutely starving late one night and even though I was so starving, by the time it finished I was too tired to eat anything and I went to bed. It’s from a cookbook that Alexandra actually got for me for Christmas at last year’s Holiday Shoppe at school and it is the first recipe I’ve tried from it. The cookbook is called “Home Cookin'” and is an AT&T employee cookbook. The recipe is credited to Joan E. Dill.

Although it says “Brownies,” they are actually not chocolate based.

And yes, I still made them.

It also said in the recipe, “or Apple” so I actually did both. I used craisins and apples.

I’m going to make them again this weekend probably because Alex is having a serious craving for them, apparently.

Craisins and apples are a great match for fall.


1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 to 1 1/2 cups cranberries or cut up, peeled apple
1/4 c. water

Cream butter and sugar.
Beat in egg.
Sift flour, soda, baking powder and cinnamon together.
Add to creamed mixture with vanilla and blend well.
Add water, as needed to help, as mixture will be thick.
Mix in cranberries (and/or apples).
Spread in greased , floured 8×8 baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until center is set.