What’s Cookin’ at the Sweet Seasons Bakery Café?

The Christmas CraddleI love to cook as much as Miriam does, and I love to share recipes for the food that’s served in my stories! The cold, snowy holidays inspire us to make special treats and dishes, and I’ve included some favorite quick breads and cookies Lena bakes in THE CHRISTMAS CRADLE. Some of these recipes come from Amish and Mennonite sources, and some have been longtime favorites in my family.

I’ve also posted these recipes on my website. If you don’t see the recipe you want, please email me via my website to request it—you can ask for bookmarks, too, and you can sign up for my newsletter at the bottom of my home page.

Want more how-to about roasting whole hogs and the type of grilling Josiah does in this story? You’ll find great tips at www.porkbeinspired.com or in other books dedicated to grilling. The details of preparing the cookers, rubs, etc. take up more room than I can spare here!

P.S.: You also find on this page recipes for some of the dishes they’ve served up in the other novels of the Seasons of the Heart series.


Recipes appear in alphabetical order.

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.

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