RECIPES: Autumn means more time in kitchen for Palmyra cook

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Oct. 11, 2017 12:01 am
Deborah Thornburg

PALMYRA, Mo. -- It's easy to find signs of fall in Deborah Thornburg's kitchen.

"It seems like in summertime, we get in so late I don't really have time to make a meal," the Palmyra woman said. In the fall and winter, "I cook more. I like to make a lot of soups. I like appetizers. I really like to cook everything and try different things."

But she relies on family favorites like garden vegetable soup.

"My mom has been making this for as long as I can remember, and when she starts making it, we know fall is here," Thornburg said. "It does not look pretty at all, but it's really, really good."

Thornburg's parents opt for using for spicy Rotel, but Thornburg uses original and often adds more noodles when feeding her family -- her husband Tanner and their children Emma, 5, and Wesley, 3 -- but she doesn't skimp on the vegetables. "It's about the only way to get anybody in my family to eat peas," she said.

Thornburg also combines two favorites into pumpkin snickerdoodles, perfect for fall, and rice pudding was a specialty of one grandmother who would make it in the wintertime and set it outside in the snow to cool because Thornburg likes the pudding cold rather than hot. The other grandmother relied on her garden to make rhubarb dessert, a delicious and easy favorite.

"You can do it with other things, but personally, I think rhubarb is best," Thornburg said.

Both grandmas inspired Thornburg's primarily from-scratch cooking -- and her love of raising chickens for fresh eggs. Those eggs often turn into angel food cake with Champagne buttercream for friends or special events for the Hannibal Regional Hospital Auxiliary.

"I love homemade angel food cake. It's totally different from the box stuff in my opinion, and I make it a lot," Thornburg said. "The champagne in the frosting kind of gives it a little tart kick. It's really good."

Chocolate cake with caramel icing is a favorite of her father, while French toast casserole turns one of her kids' breakfast favorites into an easy-to-make treat.

Versatile ham and cheese braid can be adapted for many uses. "The bread recipe is great, and it's easy. Use it for breadsticks and anything else," she said. "You can fill it with anything. We put ham and Swiss cheese in there because that's what my kids like, but I've made it with pizza sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella. You could put beef, green peppers and cheese to make a Philly steak."

Her husband leaves most of the cooking to Thornburg except for grilling, and both husband and wife like to experiment. "I tend to throw things in as I go along. I might use a recipe as a base," she said.

"I like making things that make people happy. I think you have to have someone in your life that you want to try to make something nice for," she said. "It takes some imagination. If all you do is follow the recipe, it can get kind of boring."

French Toast Casserole

1 large baguette French bread

18 beaten eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cut bread into chunks, and spread in a 9-by-13-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Let sit out overnight to become dry and stale.

Combine eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes or until eggs are set. Remove from oven, and top with maple syrup to taste. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

NOTE: Add raisins or nuts if desired. Just stir into the egg mixture.

Garden Vegetable Soup

2 pounds ground beef

1 large yellow onion

1 box cheeseburger helper

5 cups water

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 14.5-ounce cans petite diced tomatoes

1 can original Rotel

1 can sweet corn, drained

1 can green beans, drained

6 ounces frozen green peas

Brown the ground beef and onion until cooked through. Drain grease from meat/onion mixture, and return to pot. Stir cheeseburger macaroni sauce mix into ground beef, and add water. Stir in basil, salt, pepper, tomatoes and Rotel. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the macaroni, corn, green beans and peas. Cover, and cook 10 minutes until pasta is tender.

Ham and Cheese Braid

3 cups flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 packages rapid rise yeast

1 cup water

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 1/2 pounds deli ham

1 pound Swiss cheese

Combine dry ingredients, including yeast, and set aside. Bring water and butter to roughly 110 to 120 F. Combine dry ingredients and water/butter to form a soft dough. Roll out on floured surface into a rectangle.

Layer ham, cheese and mustard down the center of the dough. Cut strips on either side, and then braid the bread by taking one piece on either side and crossing it over the ham and cheese.

Coat with an egg white wash, and bake at 375 F for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

Angel Food Cake with Champagne Buttercream

12 egg whites

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup cake flour

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

1 cup sugar

Bring egg whites to room temperature. Add the cream of tartar and vanilla; beat until peaks form. Slowly add the sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form. Sift together powdered sugar and cake flour. Be sure to sift it three times. Slowly fold in the powdered sugar and cake flour into the egg white mixture. Pour into an angel food cake pan, and bake at 350 F on the lowest oven rack for 45 minutes. When done, immediately invert the cake. (Find something to stick in the middle of the cake pan, and flip the cake upside down. It won't fall out.) Once the cake has cooled completely, at least an hour, remove it from cake pan.

Champagne Buttercream

2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

12 cups powdered sugar

4 teaspoons pure vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup champagne

Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add salt and vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar and champagne, alternating between the two. Makes roughly eight cups frosting.

Chocolate Cake with Caramel Icing

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter

4 tablespoons regular cocoa

1 cup water

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Combine dry ingredients, and set aside. Boil water, cocoa and butter in a saucepan. Once boiling, add to dry ingredients, and stir just until combined. Add buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Mix well, and pour into a greased sheet cake pan. Bake at 350 F for 15 to 20 minutes.

Caramel Icing

3/4 cup butter

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2/3 cup milk

3 cups sifted powdered sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Put butter and brown sugar in a saucepan, and bring to a slow boil. Boil for two minutes. Add milk, stir and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat. Add sifted powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth, and pour over warm (not hot) cake.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup pure pumpkin

1 egg

2 teaspoons pure vanilla

3 1/2 cups flour

1 1 /2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon allspice

Cream together the butter, sugar and brown sugar. Stir in pumpkin, egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice). Form into balls, and roll in a mixture of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Bake at 350 F for 10 to 12 minutes.

Rhubarb Dessert

4-5 cups cut rhubarb

1 cup sugar

1 box sugar-free strawberry gelatin

1 box yellow cake mix

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup water

Put rhubarb in a 9-by-13-inch pan. Top with sugar and gelatin, then sprinkle over cake mix. Pour water over cake mix. Pour melted butter over top. Bake at 350 F for 45 to 50 minutes.

Rice Pudding

1 package long grain white rice

9-plus cups water


2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

Cook rice in water until soft. Add milk to get the desired consistency, roughly 2 cups, sugar, butter, vanilla and salt. Let cook until it thickens. Serve hot or cold, and top with cinnamon and raisins if desired.

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