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Elaine’s Pumpkin Cookies

Nov 22, 2013 | Posted in: , , , , | 1 Comments

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1 cup sugar, 1 cup canned pumpkin, 1/2 cup shortening (CRISCO) solid   (MIX TOGETHER)

2 cups all-purpose* or whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder*
1 teaspoon baking soda*
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt*
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup nuts  (optional)

Heat oven to 375,  Mix sugar, pumpkin, shortening.  Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Stir in raisins and nuts.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake until light brown 8 to 10 min.  Immediately remove from cookie sheet, cool.  Spread w/Light Brown Glaze.  About 4 dozen cookies

*If using self-rising flour, omit baking powder, baking soda and salt.


1/4 cup margarine or butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

Heat margarine in 1-1/2 quart saucepan over medium heat until delicate brown.  Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla.  Stir in milk until smooth.

Pumpkin Cookie Post #2 – The Cookie That Never Was

Nov 21, 2013 | Posted in: , , , , | 0 Comments

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To close out our Pumpkin Cookie narrative for our Pie-Tacular, we traveled to Moatsville, West Virginia for (full disclosure) one of my best friend’s weddings. Elaine McMillion, the bride-to-be had mentioned in her submission that this family recipe (Pumpkin Cookies), a Thanksgiving staple, would be made for and served at the wedding, but as it turned out, it was not to be. This bride, who spent the week before the wedding in about three different states, bought the ingredients but never had time to actually get them ready.

I had so much fun (unofficially) photographing this wedding, and the epic dessert table, which included contributions of family and favorite recipes from friends and family alike, that this could hardly be called a loss. It was really touching to see all these people contribute their own little sweet to the dessert table, as a little gift to the bride and groom for guests to enjoy. I toted my own family oatmeal choc – chip walnut cookies from Boston, because I remembered they travel well (my grandmother used to mail them to me in a box when I was in college) and although I make them a bit differently, the result of a delicious, well-traveled cookie, I am happy to report, is the same.

Pumpkin cookies are still a family recipe that is part of the narrative of this now (expanding) family – the sentiment of their presence existed at this wedding even where the cookies themselves did not.

Stay tuned for a video about a traditional apple pie and much more in the coming days! Thanksgiving is almost here!

Grauel/Herec Family Oatmeal Choc-Chip Walnut Cookies

2 sticks butter

1 1/2 c. brown sugar

2 c. flour

2 c. quick cooking oats

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. baking soda

large pinch of salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup choc chips (chunks are better)

1 cup chopped walnuts

-Preheat oven to 350

-Cream butter and sugar together

-Add in vanilla, egg

-Combine dry ingredients in a bowl (except choc chips and walnuts)

-Mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients

-Stir in chips and walnuts

-Drop by rounded teaspoons on cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes

Pie-Tacular Post #1 Pumpkin Cookies

Nov 12, 2013 | Posted in: , , , , | 0 Comments

For part one of our first Pie-tacular post, we visit the incomparable Ms. Elaine McMillion in Elkview, WV on what is nearly the eve of her wedding! Elaine’s family recipe is an Appalachian classic – Pumpkin Cookies. She had this to say about the recipe

To make this “pumpkin” cookie recipe you need a little bit of pumpkin and a lot of lard and love.

I don’t really know if this cookie has “ethnic” roots but you can find it in some bakeries scattered in Appalachia. It probably came out of a cookbook during wartime.

However, it’s special to me because this is the cookie my family makes every year around Halloween and Thanksgiving. It’s one of those cookies that you end up eating too much of while baking!

The cookie is very moist and thick. Less like a cookie and more like cake. And the icing is thick and super sweet. The icing requires patience to get it to the right consistency without burning the milk.

This has always been a cookie we have made as a family together or have made as a gift to others. When I was little, I would take a whole bag of them to school and share with my classmates. Now on November 17, I will be taking them to my own wedding and sharing them with friends and family there!”

Expect post number two (including the recipe deets) on this history-making family recipe next week, after we’ve hopefully had the opportunity to sample this one in person!

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Red White and Blueberry Pie

Jul 4, 2013 | Posted in: , , , | 0 Comments

Happy Fourth of July everyone!!! Today we’re reprising what has become a family favorite: Red White and Blueberry Pie. This is an improvised dessert for a hot day that draws inspiration from my own travels across the US. A simple and unrefined treat, it embodies everything a summer dessert should be. The filling is a recipe I heard at a Fourth of July barbecue in Tampa Florida about four years ago when I was having the most exquisite fruit dip I’d ever had in my life. As the conversation turned to engagements, something I had yet to experience, my mind began to wander to how this amazing fruit dip was made. It was then that I overheard the lady that brought it telling some of her friends the recipe. It was so simple I was able to remember it. After some experimentation at home I discovered that it made a delicious and easy pie filling, light enough for a hot day. Although this isn’t technically a family favorite yet, it is so easy and delicious that it is hard to imagine that it would disappear anytime soon.


Red White and Blueberry Pie



Lady fingers or butter pound cake


1 container of whipped topping (coolwhip or store brand)

1 tub of whipped cream cheese

1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Half pint of raspberries

Half pint of blueberries


Press lady fingers or pound cake into the bottom of a pie dish, covering the entire surface.

Fold in the cream cheese to the whipped topping, and then blend with a hand mixer until there are few lumps.

Spread topping into “crust” with a spatula, arrange berries on top as desired.




Monkey Bread: A Christmas Breakfast Favorite

Dec 11, 2012 | Posted in: , , , | 1 Comments

If I could travel back in time and place my childhood Christmas memories on a china plate, I’d ask my child self, “Tell me, what do your memories taste like?” I’d reply in between bites with a full mouth, “Like butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon.”

Of all the good food I enjoyed over the holidays growing up in Northeast Arkansas, I’d have to say the one dish that I looked forward to more than anything else was Christmas morning Monkey Bread. The recipe demanded a half pound of butter, two types of sugar (brown and white), and soft Parker House rolls.

I made this for the first time today (yes, Christmas arrived early for me), and I almost devoured the entire pan of Monkey Bread by myself. Can you blame me?

Christmas Breakfast Monkey Bread

By Debbie Hodge, mother of Rob Hodge

Recipe appeared in the Paragould, Arkansas Baldwin Elementary School cookbook, Baldwin Bear’s Own Great Batch of Recipes in 1991. The recipe was called, “Quick Cinnamon Rolls” in the cookbook, but my family always referred to it as “Monkey Bread.” Maybe it isn’t “real” monkey bread, but who cares? It’s incredible.

I’ve made a few edits for clarification in the recipe below.


  • 24 frozen, small Parker House rolls (or 12 frozen, regular-sized Parker House rolls)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter

For the cinnamon glaze

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 stick unsalted butter


  • 1 bunt pan, lightly greased


To prepare the bunt pan

Over medium high heat, melt 1 stick unsalted butter in sauce pan. Add brown sugar.  Stir the butter/brown sugar mixture together until you have a caramel consistency. This will take about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour the mixture into a bunt pan.

To coat the rolls in cinnamon glaze

Melt 1 stick unsalted butter and set aside.  In another dish, mix white sugar and cinnamon together. Roll frozen rolls in butter, then roll them in the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Place in bunt pan. Do not layer. Add remaining butter and sugar. Cover with a towel and let set out on kitchen counter overnight.

The next morning

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before turning out on plate. (My note: refrain from eating all the rolls yourself. Remember, this is Christmas—don’t forgot to share.)