Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chocolate-Mallow Bars

Chocolate-Mallow Bars
Dorcas Annette Walker

This past week we had some very interesting company at our house in the form of British folk all the way from England, whom we had never met before. As anyone who knows me will tell you I am the chatty soul who knows no stranger, but even my husband was shaking his head in amazement over how all this came to be. It started when my niece went over to England the other year as an exchange student and made friends with a girl named, Hazel. Somewhere along the line Hazel and I got connected through facebook and began emailing back and forth. Hazel became intrigued about my descriptions of the south and the Tennessee Mountains where I live. So she and her Mum decided to take a vacation touring the west then swing by our place on their way up to New York to see the Thanksgiving parade. Hazel’s brother, wife, and young child decided to come so they all rented an RV to travel in. They definitely are braver than me as I would never consider driving in a strange country on the opposite side of the road of what I’m used to. While going through San Francisco in the middle of heavy traffic they lost a side mirror and then later damaged the muffler backing up. They made it to Oklahoma when the transmission went out so were towed back to Texas spending the night in a Wal-Mart parking lot. After spending part of a day in a garage making several phone calls to the company, who owned the RV, they at last were given another RV to continue their journey. Despite battling jet lag and coping with time changes as they traveled east, the Barrie family finally arrived at our home- only a couple days later than planned- where I had a hot supper waiting for them.

I gave a true warm Southern welcome with lots of food. We had a wonderful time during their short stay with laughter and conservation between the southern and British accents. They ate all the food I set before then with hearty appetites so I sent plenty of goodies to help see them through the rest of their journey admiring the stamina and grit of the British in their endeavors to tour the United States from coast to coast in just one month. We promised to stay in touch. Before leaving the Mum warned me that she would be asking for some of my recipes.

One of my desserts was the Chocolate-Mallow Bars. These bars have a soft bottom with a fudgy middle topped by melted marshmallows, chocolate bits, and crunchy peanuts making it a handy snack during the holiday season. Total preparation time for my Chocolate-Mallow Bars is forty-five minutes and this recipe serves twelve.

Chocolate-Mallow Bars

1 chocolate cake mix
1 egg
½ c water
1 c creamy peanut butter
¼ c milk
1 (10 oz) bag of marshmallows
1 c chocolate chips
1 c salted peanuts

Mix cake mix, egg, and water together and press into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake at 350º for fifteen minutes. Combine the peanut butter and milk and spread over the partially baked bars sprinkling the marshmallows, chocolate chips, and peanuts over top. Return to the oven and bake for twenty more minutes. Let cool and slice into bars before serving!

Weekly tip: When flouring a pan for a chocolate batter use cocoa powder instead of flour!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Spinach Quiche

Spinach Quiche
Dorcas Annette Walker

Can it be that Thanksgiving is only a couple of days away? Not that I want to put anybody into a panic mode, but time seems to fly faster every time I turn around. This year instead of having Thanksgiving at our house we will be with our daughter and her family in Nashville. I quickly discovered over the years of moving hither and yon with my husband in the ministry that it isn’t the place, festive decorations, or even a superb meal- although all those things are nice- that make a holiday truly special. A perfect celebration is when I can spend it with close friends and family members. I truly am blessed to have so many friends. One of the biggest fringe benefits in writing a cooking column- besides getting to spend time in the kitchen and experiment with food- is getting acquainted with so many folk, who tell me that they read my column faithfully every week. I’ve met fans while buying yarn for a project, in the hardware and fresh produce departments of a store, while checking out, through emails, out on the street, in the hospital, and even pumping gas into my car. It doesn’t matter what the circumstance just let two cooks get their heads together and there is an instant connection. This year as I give thanks for all my blessings you, my fans, are also at the top of my gratitude list. I hope that each of you will have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Holidays also mean lots of extra cooking. While baking why not whip up a healthy Spinach Quiche and pop it into the oven too? My Spinach Quiche is ideal for a brunch, excellent heated up in the microwave for a quick lunch, or eaten as a light supper. Some make it without the crust; add cream cheese or yogurt for a creamier texture. You could also include chopped onions, chives, or peppers to spice it up. No matter how you make a Spinach Quiche it is a delicious quick and easy meal. Preparation time for my Spinach Quiche is ten minutes (not counting baking time) and this recipe serves six.

Spinach Quiche

8 large eggs
1 c milk
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
pinch of ground nutmeg
1 c shredded Swiss cheese
1 pd frozen spinach thawed

In a medium-sized bowl beat the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until smooth. Fold in the cheese and spinach. Pour into a deep dish 9-inch pie crust. Bake at 350º for forty-five minutes until puffed and the center is firm. Serve warm!

Weekly tip: To thaw out frozen spinach, put into a colander and run under hot water. Squeeze out excess water. You can save the spinach water to make soup or use it as soup stock!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pecan Nut Pie

Pecan Nut Pie
Dorcas Annette Walker

In all my years associated with the Walker clan I have yet to make a dessert too sweet for the Walker men. The guys are known for their “sweet tooth” and to them the sweeter the dessert the better. My old Mennonite recipe of the Pecan Nut Pie during holidays was one of the fellow’s favorite, especially my husband’s old brother, Dale, who was a Vietnam vet and very patriotic. Dale spent a lot of years, until he retired, in Germany involved in several border incidents that never made the news. A family favorite tale of Dale’s army life was years ago when he was in his early twenties and wounded in Vietnam. The surgeon involved in his case decided that Dale’s leg was too badly damaged to be saved and made the decision to take it off- making the mistake to declare his intentions in Dale’s hearing. Dale pulled out a hidden pistol, pointed it at the doctor’s head, and said, “Oh no, you’re not.” When the surgeon tried to reason with Dale saying, “You are going to lose that leg anyway.” Dale replied, “I might, but not by you.” Today Dale has both legs and barely walks with a limp thanks to the Walker bulldog determination.

Unfortunately, a lot of vets aren’t as fortunate as my brother-in-law. We still have too many soldiers overseas trying to keep peace in war torn areas of the world risking their lives each day. The longer the situation drags out in Iraq with a no win solution, the more I agree with an older vet who summed up today’s overseas state of affairs by saying, “We need to pull our boys back home, let them fight it out amongst themselves, kill each other instead of our boys, and when they finally decide they want peace send in our boys to clean up the mess.” Meanwhile we salute each veteran with heartfelt thanks of gratitude for their part in ensuring that America remains the home of the free and the brave!

My Pecan Nut Pie has a crunchy nutty filling that also can be made into mini tarts by placing pie crust into mini muffin pan cups and filling for individual servings this holiday season. You can add maple syrup to the corn syrup for a different twist or substitute dark corn syrup for the light and for every chocolate lover just add one cup of chocolate chips to make a chocolate pecan pie. Preparation time for the Pecan Nut Pie is five minutes (not counting baking time) and this recipe makes one 9-inch pie.

Pecan Nut Pie

1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
3 eggs
1 c light corn syrup
1 tb self-rising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ c brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 tb melted butter
2 c pecan’s halves

In a small bowl beat together the eggs, syrup, flour, extract, sugar, and salt with a Wisk until smooth. Add the butter and pecans and pour into the unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350º for 45 minutes. Let cool before serving!

Weekly tip: For a perfect homemade pie crust think cold. Always use chilled eggs and cold water to ensure a flaky crust. Some even chill the pastry before rolling it out and chill before baking. Don’t overwork the dough as handling it too much will result in a tough crust!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pumpkin Trifle

Pumpkin Trifle
Dorcas Annette Walker

November is the month where I focus on counting my many blessings that have been bestowed upon me and my family. Despite our country’s economic and political woes there is still much to be thankful for. This year the top of our family’s appreciative list is my husband. As most of you know that read my column, Dana, suffered a heart attack and open four by-pass heart surgery the first of April. Since then my husband has been in and out of hospitals due to chronic lung problems as well as being a severe diabetic. He also has suffered mini strokes affecting his short term memory. There have been constant doctor visits, filling out stacks of paperwork, and endless phone calls to the state, social security, and disability office. Even with stressful days when Dana’s health took a nosedive, juggling our sudden drop in finances, and having to take over the leadership in our family we are very grateful to have Dana still with us. This holiday season will be extra meaningful for our family.

Like my grandmother always said there is a silver lining to every dark cloud in life and a rainbow of blessings if one will look for it. Our rainbow with Dana’s health issues has been getting to know so many caring and wonderful nurses. From the many ER nurses and cardiac staff to the cardio rehab team each one has spread a touch of brightness with individual rays of color into our lives. Knowing that they will be there day or night, week days and weekends, if needed is such a support. Our lives have been greatly enriched with their cheerful smiles and words of encouragement these past months every time we have come into contact. To each nurse that has had a part in caring for my husband we send a big hug and grateful thank you!

For Dana’s birthday, I decided to make a Pumpkin Trifle substituting Splenda for sugar in the pumpkin bread and using sugar-free pudding and caramel. You can add nuts, raisins, or chocolate chips to the pumpkin bread and even replace the pumpkin with sweet potato. Either way the Pumpkin Trifle makes an elegant holiday dessert. Preparation time for my Pumpkin Trifle is ten minutes (not counting baking time) and this recipe serves eight.

Pumpkin Trifle

8 slices of pumpkin bread
2 (3.4 oz) boxes instant vanilla pudding
4 c cold milk
1 (8 oz) container of cool whip
caramel topping
chopped pecans or walnuts

Cut bread slices into cubes and make up the pudding as directed. In individual dessert dishes or one large glass bowl divide and layer the pudding, bread cubes, cool whip, and warmed caramel topping twice. Finishing by garnishing with chopped nuts.

Pumpkin Bread

2 c sugar
½ c cooking oil
2 eggs
2 c mashed pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 c self-rising flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg, ginger, allspice & ground cloves

In a large bowl beat together the sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla. Add the flour and spices mixing well. Divide the batter and pour into two greased loaf pans baking at 350º for 1 hr.

Weekly tip: To make homemade pumpkin cut the pumpkin in half, scrape out the seeds, and bake at 350º for one hour in the middle of the oven to soften the skin. Let cool, peel, and cut into chunks. Put into a Crockpot covering the bottom with water, cover, and cook on high for five hours then low for five hours. Let drain for a couple of hours and then freeze or can in pints!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sweet Potato Halloween Pie

Sweet Potato Halloween Pie
Dorcas Annette Walker

Every year around Halloween my mind goes back to where I first tasted a Sweet Potato Pie years ago when our family lived on a small isolated island for a couple of years off the coast of North Carolina. The only way to access Harkers Island was by a draw bridge. My father hoped that by living in a milder climate he would be able to get around easier with his arthritis caused by many internal bleeds that was slowly crippling him. Looking back I don’t know if our family or the island folk had the greatest culture shock from having a northern Pennsylvania Dutch family in their midst. Not only did the island folk have their own unique accent, but most of the islands folk were quite superstitious. They were quite astonished when my father parked our trailer in the back of the property beside a graveyard where we kids played. We discovered it was a perfect place to play hide and seek, especially after dark. Meanwhile no one would come near our trailer once the sun set. The large property we lived on not only contained a church where we attended school, but there was an old run down abandoned mansion that had weathered the fierce coastal storms throughout the years- sometimes being the only thing left standing- so was also considered an emergency building and island landmark. With its tall dark narrow halls and multiple rooms this large building that some declared haunted was the perfect place to explore. Even though with our strict upbringing we were never allowed to go trick or treating we still managed to enjoy ghostly experiences.

The church school was small and quite rigid. The principle was an ex-sergeant, who ran the school like a mini army making us come to attention every time we approached a staff member and answering “yes sir” or “no sir” while enforcing discipline like a drill sergeant. Sleeve lengths and skirt hemlines were inspected every day. I’ll never forget the day my younger sister was called out in the lineup for having too short of a skirt. Lois was having a growing spurt and my mother was hard pressed letting out hems and in some cases sewing a piece of material around the bottom and hemming it up. This came to light when my sister was told to let my mother know she was to let down her hem as her skirt was too short only for Lois to reply, “She can’t, it’s a fake hem.” “What?” roared the principle, “What do you mean by a fake hem? There is no such thing. I can see at least two inches that can be let down.” In vain did my sister protest only to get marked up for arguing. Between the island superstitions and unique church/school experiences this short span in my life still remains a vivid memory.

Sweet Potato Halloween Pie

1 9-inch deep dish pie crust
2 c mashed sweet potatoes
4 oz cream cheese
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
1 (1.55 oz) Hersey’s chocolate bar

In a large bowl beat all the ingredients, except for the pie crust, until smooth and creamy. Pour into the unbaked pie shell and bake at 350º for forty-five minutes until the center of the pie is almost firm when you jiggle it. Chill and decorate the pie by cutting the chocolate bar with a sharp knife in pieces to make a Halloween pumpkin face. Can garnish with cool whip or other Halloween candy!

Weekly tip: You can also make a sweet potato custard by eliminating the crust and adding a mashed banana or raisins if you’d like. Another idea is to make a candied sweet potato pie by slicing the sweet potatoes instead of mashing them, and pour the beaten sugar, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon over the sliced sweet potatoes along with halved pecans!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at: