By Karin Glendenning
Community News Writer
“My mom is a from-scratch cook, and when I was growing up, it looked too hard, so I really didn’t start cooking until I was out on my own,” said Dana Jones. Now the young mother does love to cook, but she said she doesn’t make it hard on herself. “I don’t cook from scratch. If you can make it look special but don’t have to spend a lot of time, that’s what I like to do,” she said.
Mrs. Jones and her husband, Kent, an attorney, have lived in their Colonial Shores home for four years. They have a four-year-old son, Dylan, and Mrs. Jones has recently gone back to work part-time as the director of Christian Education at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.
She said she tries to make cooking exciting so Dylan will enjoy helping. Thus, she often makes foods into fun shapes and colors to entertain him. Another plus to cooking with children, Mrs. Jones said is that “they learn about math and science and the importance of cleanliness.”
“I like cooking for parties more than every-night meals. I love to do hors d’oeuvres, desserts and finger foods,” she said. She also enjoys making shaped birthday cakes and hosting theme parties.
“When you pick a theme, you should follow through with every dish,” she advised.
Mrs. Jones said her favorite recipes often come from Family Fun magazine and from the small Pillsbury cookbooks that are sold at the grocery store. She said she also gets ideas from the Food Network’s Web site. “My husband likes to read Food and Wine magazine and pick out fancy recipes. He’s a very good cook and sometimes cooks things to surprise me,” she said.
The Joneses cook almost all of their meats on the grill, even during winter. “We try a lot of marinades,” she said, adding that they also like to prepare kabobs and grilled vegetables. They recently got a smoker and are “trying to perfect smoking turkeys and ribs.”
With their busy lifestyle, Mrs. Jones said that most of her entertaining is confined to birthday parties and family holiday get-togethers. At Christmas she has her family and her husband’s family for a big celebration, most recently serving ham, layered salad, mashed potatoes, carrot casserole, and a Gingerbread Pumpkin Trifle.
Mrs. Jones admits that she doesn’t follow recipes exactly. “I tend to make them the first time like they’re written and then change them to suit our taste. What makes a recipe special is to pick out the best parts and enhance them,” she said.
The recipes she shares with readers today all have her special touches.
HOLY CANNOLI CAKE
(Mrs. Jones said this recipe was served for St. Peter’s Preschool Italian Feast that they held at the completion of their study of Italy. She suggested using dental floss to easily and evenly cut the cake.)
Prep Time: Only 10 minutes
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 package (4-serving size) instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 package (8 squares) semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped, divided
1 package (10.75 ounces) pound cake, horizontally cut into 4 slices
1 cup thawed Cool Whip
Pour milk and orange extract into large bowl. Add dry pudding mix. Beat until well blended. Stir in cream cheese. Gently stir in 1/2 of the chopped chocolate. Spread 1/3 of the pudding mixture onto bottom slice of cake. Repeat layers twice, ending with top cake slice.
Microwave remaining chocolate in small microwaveable bowl on high 45 seconds or until almost melted; stir until completely melted. Stir in Cool Whip. Spread evenly over top and sides of cake. Makes 12 servings.
RICH ALMOND BUTTER CAKE
(Mrs. Jones said this cake can easily be cut into simple shapes like a flag, star or firecracker. “Add a little red, white and blue stripes with cream cheese icing and presto you’re ready for the 4th of July,” she added.)
1 package (16 ounces) pound cake mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
2 1/2 packages cream cheese (20 ounces total), softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Combine dry cake mix, butter and 3 eggs; beat until smooth. Spread into 11 x 17 inch pan. Beat cream cheese, vanilla, almond extract, lemon zest, confectioners’ sugar and eggs. Pour over cake batter. Sprinkle with walnuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely. Store in the refrigerator. Freezes well.
CHOCOLATE-PEANUT BUTTER REFRIGERATOR CAKE
(Best if chilled at least 6 hours.)
2 1/2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1 bag (10 ounces) peanut butter chips
18 whole chocolate graham crackers
Heat 2/3 cup cream in large bowl until steaming. Add peanut butter chips; whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk in remaining cream. Chill 15 minutes. Beat with mixer until soft peaks form. Arrange 3 graham crackers, side by side, long edges touching, on serving plate. Spread evenly with 1/2 cup cream cheese mixture. Repeat 4 more layers; add 1 more layer graham crackers. Chill 1 hour. Also chill remaining cream. Spread top and sides of cake with cream. Chill 4 hours or up to 2 days. When ready to serve, slice with a serrated knife using a sawing motion, while still cool.
PEANUT BUTTER PIE
1 chocolate graham cracker crust
1 cup heavy cream
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup crushed peanuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate. Blend cream cheese and both sugars until smooth. Add peanut butter and vanilla. Beat until light colored. Fold in chilled whipped cream until no streaks remain. Spread into crust. Sprinkle chopped nuts on top. Melt chocolate chips on high 1 minute, stirring halfway through. Drizzle over top. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
(You have to watch over this for 6 – 7 hours, but the result is well worth it, Mrs. Jones said.)
2 (14-ounce) cans Eagle Brand milk
1 (9-inch) graham cracker crust
1 (8 ounce) container whipped topping, thawed
Garnish Options: crushed Heath candy bar, chocolate chips, nuts, or toffee bits
Pour both cans condensed milk into a 1-quart slow cooker. Cook, covered, 6 to 7 hours or until mixture is the color of peanut butter, stirring with wire whisk every 30 minutes. Pour into pie crust; cool. Spread whipped topping over and garnish.
KOOKY COOKIES WITH KIDS
(Mrs. Jones said that kids love to make these as much as they love eating them.)
1 package devil’s food chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup oil
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup raspberry chocolate chunks
15–20 popsicle sticks
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients together. Drop on ungreased cookie sheet. A small to medium scoop makes this super simple, or you can use a teaspoon if you don’t have a scoop. Insert popsicle stick and bake 10–12 minutes. Leave some without a stick so you can eat them while they’re still warm.
CHOCOLATE CARAMEL POKE CAKE
(“So simple and so scrumptious” is how Mrs. Jones describes this dessert.)
1 chocolate cake mix plus ingredients to make according to package directions
1 can Eagle Brand Milk
1 container caramel ice cream topping
1 large container Cool Whip
Crushed Heath Bar or toffee bits for garnish
Bake cake as directed in a 9- by 13-inch pan. Leave cake in pan. Punch holes all over cake top. Pour Eagle Brand Milk over top. Once it has soaked in, Pour caramel ice cream topping over top. Cool completely. Top with Cool Whip and decorate with garnishes.
(Mrs. Jones said about this recipe that “The kids will definitely eat their carrots today.”)
2 cups mashed cooked carrots (about 1 pound when raw)
1 cup sugar (or Splenda)
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick margarine
3 eggs, well beaten
Cinnamon for garnish
Using food processor, grate carrots; then cook and mash. Mix all ingredients well. Pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on top. Bake covered at 400 for 15 minutes; then remove cover and cook at 350 until firm, approximately 45 minutes. Toothpick inserted in middle will come out clean.
HASH BROWN CASSEROLE
4 cups frozen hash brown potato squares
4 cups frozen O’Brien hash browns (with chopped peppers and onions)
1 can cream of chicken soup
16 ounces Velvetta cheese, melted
8 ounces sour cream
2 cups Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing Mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
Mix both kinds of frozen potatoes together and place in a 9- by 13-inch pan. Combine soup, melted Velvetta and sour cream. Pour over potatoes. Mix melted butter with stuffing mix and press on top of casserole. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
1 package crescent rolls
1 pound cooked sausage, drained well
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk
2 slices bacon
Press crescent rolls in 9- by 13-inch non-greased pan, sealing all seams. Cover crescent rolls with sausage. Top sausage with cheese. Mix milk and eggs and pour over cheese. Bake 5 minutes at 425 degrees. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 15 minutes.
(This is great served with rice as a side dish, Mrs. Ones said.)
4 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into pieces
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped water chestnuts
1/2 package Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing Mix
1 stick margarine, melted
Mix first 5 ingredients and place in buttered casserole dish. Mix butter and stuffing mix together and press on top chicken mixture. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
E-mail Karin Glendenning at firstname.lastname@example.org