From the Promise Lodge Kitchen

Christmas at Promise LodgeRosetta Bender and the Kuhn sisters love to cook, and as they settle into their lives at Promise Lodge, they’ll be sharing favorite recipes the way you and I do! In this recipe section, you’ll find down-home foods Amish women feed their families, along with some dishes that I’ve concocted in my own kitchen—because you know what? Amish cooking isn’t elaborate. Plain cooks make an astounding number of suppers from whatever’s in their pantry and their freezers. They also use convenience foods like Velveeta cheese, cake mixes, and canned soups to feed their large families for less money and investment of their time.

If you don’t find a recipe you want, please email me via my website to request it—and to let me know how you liked it!


Recipes appear in alphabetical order.

Amish No-Bake Peanut Bars

This is a go-to recipe in many Plain households. It resembles other no-bake recipes that use crispy rice cereal, except the peanut butter makes the bars a bit looser and more crumbly—and adds some protein! This will be a hit with peanut butter lovers!

1 cup peanut butter
2 cups marshmallow cream
1 stick butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
4 cups Cheerios or other toasted oat ring cereal

Melt the peanut butter, marshmallow crème, butter, and brown sugar, stirring until well blended. Stir in the cereal and peanuts. Press into a greased/sprayed 9” x 13” pan. Cool and cut into squares.

Kitchen Hint: You can melt the sauce either on the stove or in the microwave. I don’t recommend freezing these bars (the cereal will get soggy)—not that you’ll have many left over!

Annie Mae’s Apple Pie

Looking for a way to perk up an old standby? What a difference it makes to use brown sugar and fresh lemon rind along with your favorite firm apple—my choice is usually Jonathan, Jonagold, or Braeburn.

6 C. tart, firm apples, cored, peeled and sliced
3/4 C. brown sugar
2 T. cinnamon
Dash of salt
4 T. all-purpose flour
Grated rind of one lemon
1 T. fresh lemon juice
3 T. butter
Pastry for a 10” double-crust pie

Preheat oven to 375º. Place apple slices in a large bowl, add brown sugar, spices, flour, the lemon rind and the juice, and mix until apples are coated. Place filling in the bottom crust and dot with butter. Slice the other crust into strips and weave for a lattice top; flute the edges. Cover the edge with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Makes 8 large slices.

Kitchen Hint: I can never get the foil to stay around my crust edge, so I use a nifty adjustable silicone pie shield instead. You can find them in kitchen gadget shops or online.

Annie Mae’s Favorite Macaroni Salad

This is a fabulous salad that serves a crowd. The difference is in the dressing . . . Amish cooks tend to add sugar to their dressings. If you’re watching your calories, you can omit the sugar and still have a tasty dish that’ll be a hit at potlucks and picnics.

3 C. uncooked elbow macaroni, shells, etc.
3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 T. dill pickle relish
2 C. creamy salad dressing (e.g. Miracle Whip)
3 T. yellow mustard
3/ 4 C. white sugar
3 tsp. white vinegar
2 tsp. celery seed
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to boil, add macaroni, and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the chopped eggs and vegetables. In a smaller bowl, blend the rest of the ingredients, then combine this dressing with the macaroni, eggs, and vegetables. Cover and chill at least 2 hours (or overnight) before serving. Serves 10-12. Keeps about 3 days in the fridge.

Kitchen Hint: I make this salad with whole wheat macaroni, which adds fiber and doesn’t change the taste a bit. I also like to mix pasta shapes, using a cup of each!

Apple Crisp

OK, I confess that I make this recipe more for the “crisp” than for the apples! So I tend to put a lot of the oatmeal-butter-sugar topping on the fruit, thinking the oatmeal—as a whole grain—and the fresh fruit qualify this as health food. You decide.

1 C. quick or old-fashioned oats
1 C. packed brown sugar
½ C. all-purpose flour
1 T. cinnamon
½ C. butter or margarine
3 or 4 large apples

Preheat oven to 350º. Combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon and then cut in the butter until well blended. Set aside. Peel, core and slice the apples to make 5-6 cups and put them in a greased/sprayed 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the oatmeal topping over the fruit, then dig down into the fruit with a spoon to mix in some of the topping. Bake about 40-45 minutes or until fruit is bubbly. Enjoy warm with cream or ice cream. Serves 4-6.

Kitchen Hint: This is also yummy using the same amount of peaches or rhubarb!

Apple Walnut Coffee Cake

Wow, is this just the yummiest use of apples there is! Call it coffee cake or call it dessert, but call folks to the table and watch it disappear.

2 C. sugar
1 C. plus 2 T. vegetable or canola oil
1/4 C. apple cider
3 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. each cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda
3 C. all-purpose flour
2 large, firm apples (Granny Smith or Jonathan work well), peeled cored and sliced (3 ½ C.)
1 1/2 C. chopped walnuts
Powdered sugar, if desired

Preheat oven to 350º. Spray a 10-inch tube pan with a removable insert. Stir sugar, oil, apple cider, eggs, vanilla, seasonings and soda in a large bowl until blended. Stir in the flour until smooth, and then stir in the apples and walnuts. Pour into the pan, and bake an hour and ten- to twenty minutes, until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Dust with powdered sugar if desired. Cool on a wire rack for an hour before removing the sides of the pan. Cool completely before lifting the cake from the pan’s bottom.

Apricot Banana Bread

Here’s a moist twist on banana bread, with chunks of sweet dried apricot and the added nutrition of bran (but no one will accuse you of serving health food!) Like a lot of quick breads, this one tastes richer after it’s been wrapped and stored for a day. I like to make breads like this ahead of the holidays and freeze them so I have special treats to serve visiting family and friends.

1/3 cup softened butter or margarine
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2-3 medium)
1/4 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. each baking soda and salt
1 cup 100% bran cereal (buds, not flakes)
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350º. Spray or grease a 9”x5” bread pan.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter or margarine and sugar. Blend in the eggs, and then the mashed bananas and buttermilk or yogurt. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and gradually mix into the batter. Stir in the bran, apricots, and walnuts. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack. Freezes well.

Kitchen Hint: You can make this (or any quick bread recipe) as muffins! Simply spoon the dough into a sprayed muffin pan, each cup about 2/3 full, and bake for about 15 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched in the center.

Apricot-Cherry Slab Pie

Here’s a way to make the equivalent of about three pies—in a convenient one-pan format! The tangy fruit filling and glaze make this a hit at potlucks, too.

3 cups flour
1 T. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups shortening (such as Crisco)
1 egg
1/2 cup water
1 T. white vinegar

Fruit Filling
1/2 cup sugar
3 T. cornstarch
1 14.5-oz. can pitted tart pie cherries, drained
2 15-oz. cans apricot halves, drained and quartered

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
5 tsp. milk (or enough to make drizzling consistency)

To make the crust, combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender. Beat the egg and mix the vinegar into it, then sprinkle small amounts of the egg mixture over the flour mixture, tossing lightly until all the particles are moistened. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill. Return to room temperature. Roll slightly more than half the dough on a floured surface and fit it into a 10.5” x 15.5 jelly roll pan/cookie sheet (with sides) so the pastry hangs over all the edges.

To make the filling, combine the filling ingredients in a medium bowl. Spoon this fruit mixture over the prepared crust. Roll out the remaining pastry and place it over the filling, then fold the bottom pastry up and over the top crust. Seal edges. Prick the top crust with a fork. Bake at 400º for about 20 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven. Stir the glaze ingredients together and drizzle over the top.

Kitchen Hint: To make apple slab pie, use 8 cups of peeled, sliced apples, ½ cup flour, 2/3 cup sugar, and 1 T. cinnamon for the filling instead of the canned fruit.

Baby Cake

I stumbled across this recipe recommended for women in labor, and was so fascinated by the healthful ingredients and the unusual blend of flavorings I had to try it. Wow, is this moist and tasty! You get the best of both cake and bread—lots of nutrition without refined sugars. Great for breakfast or dessert!

3 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
4 eggs
1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled but still liquid
zest from 2 large oranges
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup honey and/or maple syrup
1 1/2 cups peeled, grated apple (about 1 very large apple)
1/2 cup very finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 large carrot, finely grated
1/4 cup finely chopped dates or raisins

Preheat oven to 350° and grease a Bundt pan, 24 muffin tins, or two 9” × 5” loaf pans.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then blend in the pumpkin, coconut oil, orange zest, molasses, almond extract, and honey and/or maple syrup until smooth, using a whisk or a mixer.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well. Add in the grated apple, nuts, carrots and raisins. Smooth batter into prepared pan and bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. For a Bundt pan, allow 50-70 minutes, about 10-12 minutes for muffins, and about 30 minutes for loaf pans—or until the cracks in the top are no longer wet and doughy. Don’t overbake!

Kitchen Hint 1: I placed the apple, walnuts, carrot, and raisins in the food processor with the blade and processed them all at once. Quick and easy! This recipe freezes well.

Kitchen Hint 2: In a pinch, you can use canola oil instead of the coconut oil, and you can mix/match honey and maple syrup, as long as your total is 3/4 cup.

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