LEWISTON – Kimberly Beaudin knows that it can be easy to fall into a rut when it comes to deciding what’s for dinner each night.

Beaudin’s solution to this common problem is simple: “Make a menu if you have a hard time thinking of things to cook for meals. Make a menu. I list all of the meals that I like to cook on a sheet of paper and, before I do groceries, I look at my list and decide what I am going to cook for the week. This saves time and money. I plan based on our family schedule for the week and buy what I am going to need.”

“Be prepared” is her motto, especially when it comes to baking. It’s rare that she has to make a last-minute run to the store when she’s making cookies, squares or pies.

“My family and friends laugh at me. I never run out of baking needs. I buy flour by the 50-pound bag, and I have at least 25 pounds of sugar on hand at all times. I can always whip something up. Also, use what is fresh and in season when you can, especially fruits. I bake so many apple dishes in the fall. It is best to try new recipes when the fruit is at its best. I buy 20 pounds of blueberries when they are ready. I pick strawberries in July, and I bake zucchini recipes late summer. I buy a bushel of apples in the fall. Take advantage of what we have here in Maine.”

Beaudin, who says cooking is a family tradition, is passing on her skills to the next generation. “Growing up we had a sit-down dinner every night. My mother could cook for a crowd, but she wasn’t a baker. I started baking from a box mix: “Big Batch” was the brand of chocolate chip cookies. It made a lot, and my brothers and sisters loved it. Seeing the great response is what I guess encouraged me to try more things. We had plenty of cookbooks and family recipes, so I started looking for recipes and started trying things.

“Now I am teaching my girls how to cook, and they love it. Many Sunday afternoons, you can find either one or both of them in the kitchen right next to me. I find it relaxing. I could, and do, spend hours in my kitchen cooking.”

Beaudin was born and raised in the Lewiston-Auburn area.

She and her husband, Dean, who’ve been married 13 years, live in Lewiston. They have two daughters, Sadie, 9, and Eliza, 4. For 10 years, Beaudin has worked at Crestline, a division of Geiger, where she was recently promoted to product manager. In her spare time, she loves to walk with her friends and to work on scrapbooks.

Apple pie bars
Crust ingredients
2/3 cup of milk, approximately (see method)

1 egg yolk, reserve the egg white

2½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened
Filling ingredients
1 cup crushed corn flake cereal

6 cups of peeled, cored and sliced apples (about 8 to 10 of medium size)

¾ cup sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 reserved egg white

1 tablespoon sugar
Glaze ingredients
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons milk

½ teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

For crust, add enough milk to egg yolk to measure 2/3 cup and set aside. In medium bowl, combine flour and salt, then cut in butter until crumbly. With fork stir in milk mixture until dough forms a ball, and divide it into halves. Roll out half on floured surface into a 15-by-10-inch rectangle. Place on bottom of ungreased 15-by-10-by-1-inch jellyroll pan.

For filling, sprinkle cereal on rolled-out crust, layer sliced apples over cereal. In a small bowl, combine ¾ cup sugar, 1½ teaspoons cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sprinkle over apples. Roll remaining half of dough into 15-by-10-inch rectangle, place over apples. In a small bowl, beat egg white until foamy; brush over top of crust. In another bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of sugar and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon; sprinkle over crust. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes. Watch for it to be lightly brown.

For glaze, in a small bowl, stir all glaze ingredients. Drizzle over warm bars, cut when cool. Yields three dozen.

Kimberly’s note: I like to double the glaze.

Sour cream banana bars
1½ cups granulated sugar

1 cup sour cream

½ cup butter or margarine, softened

2 eggs

1½ cups mashed bananas, about 3 large bananas

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ cup chopped nuts

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour 15-by-10-by-1-inch jellyroll pan. Mix sugar, sour cream, butter and eggs in medium-size bowl; beat 1 minute on low; scrape bowl. Add the bananas and vanilla, and beat for 30 seconds. Beat in flour, salt and baking soda on medium speed for 1 minute. Stir in nuts. Spread batter evenly in the pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until light brown. Cool on wire rack. Frost with browned butter frosting. Yields four dozen bars

Browned butter frosting
4 tablespoons butter

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons milk

Heat butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat until it turns delicate brown. Remove from heat and beat in confectioners’ sugar. Add vanilla and milk. Continue to beat until smooth. Spread over cooled bars.

Kimberly’s note: When bananas get brown and you are not ready to use them, put them in the freezer; they keep for a month. It will make your recipes a little darker but keep the same great flavor.

Tawny pumpkin pie
1¼ cup pumpkin

¾ cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon flour

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup evaporated milk

2 tablespoons water

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 9-inch pie crust

Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, spices and flour; add eggs and mix well. Add milk, water and vanilla. Pour into pie crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 35 minutes longer or until filling is set.

Kimberly’s notes: I make my own crust, you can use store-bought. I made a pie once with a store-bought crust and my 9-year-old asked what I had done to the pie. I told her that I used a store-bought crust; she told me never to do that again and refused to eat any more of the pie. I learned my lesson. You would not think that a 9-year-old could tell the difference.

For the pumpkin, I cook down a pie pumpkin, but you can use canned pumpkin.

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