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‘Familiar Tastes’

These recipes come from Abby McAllister’s cookbook, “Familiar Tastes in a Foreign Place,” a fundraiser to help cover her family’s adoption costs. The Valleyford wife and mother of three boys is hoping to adopt siblings from the Dominican Republic, where she’s been living and teaching for more than three years.

Mango Cobbler

This dessert requires relatively few ingredients and can easily be doubled and baked in a 9-by-13-inch pan if you’re feeding a large group. Peaches can be substituted for mangoes if the tropical fruit isn’t in season or isn’t readily available. The gooey, crusty bottom of the pan is not to be missed.

1 cup of rolled oats

1 cup of brown sugar

1/2 cup of flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted

3 to 4 large mangos, flesh cut off and cubed

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Pour the melted butter over the dry ingredients and mix well, until entire mixture is no longer dry. Spread half of this mixture over the bottom of a round pie pan or an 8-by-8-inch pan. Pour the cut mango over the bottom layer. Sprinkle the rest of the crunch mixture over the top of the mango. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until bubbly and edges begin to thicken. Serve hot or eat cold.

Yield: 6 servings

Gooey Butter Cake

This isn’t an original creation, but Abby McAllister said she can’t remember where she got it. It is an unusual use of a boxed cake mix; she said it is always a winner.


1 package plain yellow cake mix

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 egg


8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup butter, melted

3 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted to remove any clumps, plus more for garnish

Preheat oven to 350.

For the crust, in a large mixing bowl, combine all the crust ingredients with a wooden spoon until moist. Transfer to an ungreased 9-by-13-inch baking dish and spread evenly over bottom, flattening.

For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla and melted butter and continue to beat with mixer. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until all sugar is mixed in. If this becomes too difficult for your hand mixer, switch over to your hand and a spoon. Pour filling over the crust and spread out evenly.

Bake cake for 40 to 45 minutes until it is slightly browned but the center still jiggles when the pan is shaken. Cool for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar, slice and serve.

Taco Braid

This has been a McAllister family favorite for years. Now it is a favorite of their friends in the Dominican Republic, too. It comes from the August/September 2001 issue of Taste of Home magazine and can be found at Taco-Braid.


1 teaspoon active dry yeast

2 tablespoons sugar, divided

3/4 cup warm water, divided

2 tablespoons butter, softened

2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder

1 egg lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour


1 pound ground beef

1/4 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

18-ounce can of tomato sauce

2 tablespoons taco seasoning

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup sliced ripe olives

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1/2 cup water; let stand for five minutes. Add the butter, milk powder, egg, salt, remaining sugar and water, and 1 ½ cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about one hour.

In a large skillet, cook beef and mushrooms over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in tomato sauce and taco seasoning. Set aside 1 tablespoon beaten egg. Stir remaining egg into beef mixture. Cool completely.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; roll into a 15-by-12-inch rectangle. Place on a greased baking sheet. Spread filling lengthwise down center third of rectangle. Sprinkle with cheese and olives.

On each long side, cut 1-inch-wide strips about 2 ½ inches into center. Starting at one end, fold alternating strips at an angle across filling. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

Brush with reserved egg. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.

Yield: 6 servings