Friday, December 16, 2016

Swirly Sugar Cookies

These slice and bake cookies are so much fun!  I wanted to be sure I shared the recipe with you at Christmas-time because the color combinations are endless.  I made them in blue and gold for my daughter's hockey team - but you could do red and white, green and red, etc etc.  It is a basic sugar cookie-type dough and you can use any kind of extract to flavor them.  Our kids love almond flavor - so I used almond extract.  Plus, you can mix them up a day in advance . . .and then wrap them up and let rest in the fridge until the next day before slicing and baking.  Love that!!!!  They were a huge hit . . .I am glad I made a double batch!!

Swirly Sugar Cookies

4 adn 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour (plus extra for rolling out)
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 and 1/2 Cup Butter, room temperature
1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
2/3 Cup White Sugar
2 Eggs, Beaten
2 Teaspoons Almond Extract (or extract of your choice!)
Food Coloring as needed

Note:  because these cookies have brown sugar in them, the natural dough color is a little darker than a regular sugar cookie.  This may cause you to need a little extra food dye depending what color you are trying to achieve!

Step 1:  In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

Step 2:  In a mixing bowl, add the butter, brown sugar and white sugar.  Beat until smooth.  Add in the eggs and vanilla.  Beat again until all is well incorporated.

Step 3:  Slowly incorporate the flour mixture into the sugar/butter mixture until evenly blended.

Step 4:  Gather the dough into a ball and divide into two equal parts.  Place one half in a second bowl.  Add desired food coloring to the first bowl with dough (I used blue) and blend until well incorporated.  I used my hands and wore gloves.  Do the same with the second bowl (I used yellow dye).  Or, you don't have to dye the second one at all!

Step 5:  On a floured surface, roll out one ball of dough to a 1/4 inch thickness into a rectangular form.  Do the same with the second ball of dough and try to keep the size consistent.  I like to roll them out on wax paper (easy clean up and helps with the next step).

Step 6:  Stack the two rolled out doughs one on top of the other.  I had blue on the bottom, yellow on top for my first batch.  Beginning on the long edge of stacked doughs, roll the doughs to make a log so the two colors sprial inside each other.  Wrap the log in plastic wrap and place in fridge for 6-8 hours.  Overnight works well.

Step 7:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease baking sheets.

Step 8:  Unwrap the dough log, place on a clean, lightly floured surface.  Slice the log into 1/8 inch slices and place on the prepared cookie sheets.  

Step 9:  Bake in preheated oven for 5-6 minutes, until set. 


Friday, December 9, 2016

Tuna Hot Dish

Here is my spin on a Midwest favorite:  Tuna Hot Dish.  Egg Noodles, tuna, creamy sauce spiked with Parmesan cheese and peas.  This is a classic comfort food for most!

Tuna Hot Dish
Serves 6-8

1/2 LB Egg Noodles
1 Small Onion, Diced Fine
2 Cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 Cup Milk
3 Cans Tuna, Drained
1 LB Frozen Peas, Thawed
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
2/3 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 LB Potato Chips, Crushed

Step 1:  Prepare the egg noodles according the package.  Once cooked, drain.

Step 2:  While the noodles are cooking, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease or butter a 9x13 baking pan or casserole dish.  Set aside.

Step 3:  In a large bowl, mix together the onion, the cream of mushroom soup, milk, tuna, peas, pepper and Parmesan cheese.  Add the cooked and drained noodles to the bowl and stir together.

Step 4:  Pour the contents of the bowl into the prepared pan.  Top with crushed potato chips.  Place in oven (uncovered) and bake for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated through.  Serve hot.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Wild Rice Soup

I love wild rice soup....seriously, it's definitely one of my favorite.  Creamy, delicious and with tender bits of vegetables and chicken.  This recipe is great with leftover chicken or turkey (hint hint...Thanksgiving leftover turkey).

Wild Rice Soup
Serves 4-6

2 Cups Cooked Wild Rice
1/2 Cup Chopped Carrot
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
6 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 Cup Flour
4 Cups Chicken Broth
1-2 Cups Cooked Chicken or Turkey (Diced or Shredded)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt (or Nature's Seasoning)
1 Cup Half and Half
2 Tablespoons Dry Sherry

Step 1:  In a large soup pot, add the butter and onion.  Over medium heat, saute until the butter is melted and veggies begin to soften.  

Step 2:  Add the flour to the pot.  Stir, it may become a big lump - and that's okay.  Continue to stir and cook for 2 minutes.  

Step 3:  A little bit a time, add the broth.  Do not add all at once - if you do this, you will get flour lumps!!  Add just a little bit and stir into the flour mixture.  Once incorporated, add a bit more.  Stir until incorporated.  Repeat this until all the broth has been added.

Step 4:  Add in the wild rice and chicken or turkey and seasoning.  Let simmer for about 5-10 minutes.

Step 5:  Add in the Half and Half and Sherry.  Stir until incorporated and heated through.  

Friday, November 11, 2016

Mediterranean Baked Sole

Oh, I lose control . . .when you sever filet of sole.  If you can name that song . . .you get an A++ for the day!  Of course, if you make this recipe - you will also get an A++ for the day along with a delicious fish dish.  The credit for this dish goes all to my hubby.  He found the recipe here and made it for dinner the other night.  It is magnificent - and pretty simple to make too.

Mediterranean Baked Sole
Serves 4-6

2 Lemons, 1 Sliced and 1 Juiced
½ Cup Olive Oil
½ Cup Butter (Unsalted), Melted
2 Shallots,Thinly Sliced
3 Teaspoons Chopped Garlic
2 Tablespoons Capers
1 Teaspoon Seasoned Salt
¾ Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1.5 Pounds Sole Fillet (about 10-12 thin fillets)
4-6 Green Onions - Tops Trimmed and Halved Length-Wise
Dill for Garnish

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly oil a large baking sheet or dish and set aside.

Step 2:  In a small bowl, whisk together juice of 1 lemon, olive oil and melted butter with a dash of seasoned salt. Stir in the shallots, chopped garlic and capers.

Step 3:  In a separate small bowl, mix together the teaspoon of seasoned salt, pepper, cumin and garlic powder. Spice fish fillets each on both sides.

Step 4:  Place the fish fillets on the baking dish. Cover the fillets with the buttery lemon mixture you prepared in Step 1. 

Step 5:  Arrange the green onion halves and lemon slices on top of the fish. 

Step 6:  Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Do not overcook.

Step 7:  Garnish with dill to serve.  

And in case you are still wondering about that song lyric . . . . . you can listen to the song here.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Seafood Bisque

Happiness in a bowl.  That should be the recipe title for this one.  Decadent, sweet and tender crab and shrimp along with a savory blend of milk, tomato and seasonings . . .excellent soup for a meal.  Serve with a salad and revel in all things delicious.

Seafood Bisque
Serves 4 

3 Tablespoons Butter
3 Green Onions or Scallions, slices thinly
1 Celery Stalk, diced fine
3 Tablespoons Flour
2 and 1/2 Cups Milk
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 Tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 Tablespoon Sea Salt
8 Ounces Crab Meat
6 Ounces Cooked Shrimp 
2 Tablespoons Sherry
Optional Garnishes:  Additional Green Onion, Chives, Parsley or a dollop of Sour Cream.

Step 1:  In a large soup pot or dutch oven, melt the butter and add the green onion, celery and tomato paste.  Saute over medium heat until the vegetables are tender and the tomato paste has been incorporated. 

Step 2:  Warm the milk in a separate saucepan or in the microwave.  This will make it easier to blend into the ingredients in the next couple steps. Do not let the milk boil.  You just want it warmed.

Step 3:  Blend the flour into the butter/veggies.  It will kinda lump up into a big ball.  Continue to stir and cook for 2 minutes.  

Step 4:  Little by little, add in the warmed milk.  Be sure to stir fully into the flour mixture a little bit at a time.  If you dump all the milk in at once, it will be lumpy.  If you add only a little milk at a time and stir in between - you should have a smooth soup.  

Step 5:  Once the milk and flour are all incorporated, add the black pepper, Old Bay seasoning and sea salt.  Stir until combined.

Step 6:  Add the shrimp, crab and heavy cream to the pot.  Stir until combined and heated through.  Serve immediately.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Edible Eyes

Halloween.  I think there are two types of people out there when it comes to Halloween:  those that love all things creepy and gross . . .and those that don't.  My hubby falls into the second category.  Me, more of the first (as long as it isn't too creepy or super scary).  And of course, what kid doesn't love Halloween?  Our teenager absolutely loves it - and for several years now, she has been making Halloween treats to hand out to all of her friends.  This year I helped her make candy eyeballs.  We'll just say the hubby wasn't so excited about them.  I brought a bowl of them to work and they were a huge hit.  And remember, take two . . .they usually come in pairs ;)

Edible Eyes
Makes Several

Candy Melts or White Chocolate

Special Tools:

Step 1:  In a microwave safe bowl, add some candy melts in the color of your choice and melt on low in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Then, stir well.  If they are not melted yet - go another 30 seconds.  After that, stir again.  Do not over cook - it will burn.  You just want them melted enough to be liquidy.  Optional:  after the candy is melted, place into a baggie or piping bag, close and snip the tip - this helps with the next step.

Step 2:  In the bottom of the round molds, place a candy eye.  Then, top with melted candy. Place the molds in the fridge or freezer for about 10-15 minutes - until the eyeballs are set.

Step 3:  Once the candy is hardened, remove from the molds.  They should pop right out by tipping them upside down and giving the cavity a tiny squeeze.  

Friday, October 21, 2016

Cookies ‘n Cream Cheesecake Mousse

This is pure decadence.  You will be tempted to eat the entire batch.  No doubt on that.  This mousse is made with cream cheese and Oreos and whipped topping and everything that makes life awesome!!!!  Okay, well . . .maybe not everything that makes life awesome.  Just almost everything.  Make this now.  Just do it.

This recipe is an original from here.  This lady is phenomenal.  She has one of my most favorite blogs.  

Cookies 'n Cream Cheesecake Mousse
Serves 6

1 - 8 Ounce Block Cream Cheese, softened
1/3 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Marshmallow Fluff
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
8 Ounces Frozen Whipped Topping, thawed
15 Oreo Cookies
Maraschino Cherries for Garnish

Step 1:  Take 6 Oreos and set them aside - they will be used for garnish.  With the remaining 9 Oreos, break them up into about four pieces each and set aside.  

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar.  Using an electric mixer, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.

Step 2:  Add in the marshmallow fluff and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.

Step 3:  Add in the broken-up Oreos and mix until combined.  

Step 4:  Add in the whipped topping and beat until creamy and smooth.

Step 5:  Distribute the mousse between 6 dessert dishes.  Garnish with a whole Oreo and a maraschino cherry.  Serve immediately.

If you wish to make ahead, do not garnish until you serve it.  Cover the mousse tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Parmesan and Chive Crusted Pork Chops

Here is a super simple recipe for pork chops.  In fact, it's so simple that I don't even measure out the ingredients!!  These always turn out delicious.

Parmesan and Chive Crusted Pork Chops
Serves:  4-6

4-6 Pork Chops (about 1.5 pounds)
Dijon Mustard
Parmesan Cheese

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray or grease a baking sheet.

Step 2:  Place pork chops on the baking sheet.  Top each pork chop with a little mustard and spread to cover the top of the chop.  Sprinkle about a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese on each chop.  Now, add about a tablespoon of chives to the top of each chop.

Step 3:  Place chops in the oven.  Bake for about 1/2 hour - until the chops are cooked through.  This may vary in time based on how thick your chops are.  Pork is done when it reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit for the internal temp.


Friday, October 7, 2016

Scalloped Potatoes

Every once in a while, I just crave a good, old-fashioned scalloped potato.  Not that kind that comes from a box.  And not the cheesy kind either.  Rather, the creamy kind . . .with chives and dill.  Although it may seem a bit daunting, it really isn't.  The hardest part is cutting the potatoes thinly - I use a mandolin for ease.  But, don't let this recipe scare you . . it is supper yummy and goes great with pork chops.

Scalloped Potatoes
Serves 4-6

2 Pounds Potatoes (standard Russett)
1/4 Cup Chives
8 Tablespoons of Butter (1 Stick)
1 Teaspoon Chopped Garlic
1/4 Cup Sour Cream
1/4 Cup Cream
1/2 Cup Milk 
Nature's Seasoning (or Salt and Pepper)

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 375°F. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/4-inch thick slices.

Step 2:  In an oven-proof skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over low heat.  Add the garlic and stir to distribute.  

Step 3:  Remove from heat and now it's time to layer the potatoes etc.  Place a single layer of potato slices in the pan.  Season with Nature's Seasoning and sprinkle with dill.  Repeat with remaining potatoes until all the potatoes are in the pan.  

Step 4:  In a saucepan, add the remaining butter, sour cream and milk.  Heat and stir until combined and hot (do not boil).  Pour over the potatoes.  The liquid should almost come to the top of the potatoes.  If it does not, add a little extra milk to bring the liquid level up to the top of the potatoes (but do not cover them in milk).  

Step 5:  Return the skillet to the stove top and bring to a simmer.  Top with the chives.  

Step 6:  Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Cauliflower-Cheddar Soup

Wow.  This is soup is sooooooooo delicious and so crazy creamy, it is hard to believe it only has 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of cheddar in it.  It's a little bit of work to make it - only because you have to puree it, but it is so amazing -you won't mind at all.   I've adapted this from the book, "Keto in 28" by Michelle Hogan.  This is a perfect fall and winter food!

Cauliflower-Cheddar Soup
Serves 4

8 Slices of Bacon, Chopped
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
2 Teaspoons Minced Garlic
4 Cups of Cauliflower Florets 
4 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Water
2 Tablespoons Corn Starch
1 Cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Chives - for garnish

Step 1:  In a large sauce pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy.  With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon bits and place into a bowl for later use.  Do not discard the bacon fat in the pan.

Step 2:  In the pan with the bacon grease, add the butter, onion and garlic.  Saute over medium until onion is almost translucent.  Then, add the cauliflower.  Continue to saute for about 5 minutes, until the the cauliflower is beginning to soften.

Step 3:  Add the chicken broth to the pot and let it come to a boil.  Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes - until the cauliflower is soft.  Stir in the cream and remove from the heat.

Step 4:  Transfer the soup to a food processor and puree until very smooth.  

Step 5"  Return the soup to the pot and place over low heat.  

Step 6:  In a small bowl, whisk together the water and cornstarch.  Stir into the the soup and also add 1/2 the cheese.  Stir until the cheese melts.

Step 7:  To serve, garnish with the remaining cheese, the reserved bacon from step 1 and chives.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Gummy Candy

Here is a completely delightful recipe for gummy candy.  I've always to try making it - but the time just never seemed right.  Until today.  I had all ingredients on hand  - and one was a fun flavor:  watermelon!  With just three simple ingredients - it was go-time.  Super simps.  Such a fun treat for the kids.

Gummy Candy
Yield:  About 1 Cup of 'gumdrop' sized candy

1 package of Jell-o, flavor of your choice
2 packets of Unflavored Gelatin
1/2 Cup Cold Water
Sugar for Dusting (optional)
Silicone Molds

Step 1:  In a small saucepan, add the 1/2 cup cold water.  Place on stove and turn burner on low.

Step 2:  Add the Jell-o and unflavored gelatin to the water.  Stir slowly and gently until all the granules dissolve.  Be sure to do this over a relatively low heat so that the gelatin can fully dissolve.

Step 3: Carefully pour into a candy or silicone mold of your choice.  I had an ice-stick mold that I used.  Fill the cavities and carefully place the filled mold into the fridge or freezer for 15-30 minutes, or until set.

Step 4:  Remove from the tray and serve.  Because I had used a stick-shaped mold, I cut mine into bite-sized pieced before dusting with sugar.

If you don't finish them all in one sitting . . .store them in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Optional:  After un-molding the gummies, you dip them in regular granulated what sugar if you please.  Or, for sour gummies, you can dip them in combo of citric acid and sugar.

Storage:  If you don't finish them all in one sitting . . .store them in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Note:  I made two separate batches:  one orange and one watermelon.  

Friday, August 26, 2016

Refrigerator Cucumber Pickles

Here is a very, easy delicious recipe for Refrigerator Cucumber Pickles.  Perfect for those who don't have a garden with cucumbers and for those who don't want to can or put-up pickles.  Rather, this recipe can use store-bought cucumbers and is a cinch to make.  In fact, you don't even need to peel them . . .but's it's okay if you do.  It is totally up to you!  The hardest part is actually letting them set for a day before eating them!  

Refrigerator Cucumber Pickles
Serves Several

7 Cups of Thinly Sliced Cucumbers (about 3 average-sized cukes)
1 Tablespoon Salt
2 Cups White Vinegar
2 Cups Sugar
1 Tablespoon Mustard Seeds
1 Tablespoon Celery Seeds
1 Cup Thinly Sliced White or Yellow Onion
1 Green Bell Pepper, Diced (optional)

Step 1:  Mixed the cucumbers with the 1 Tablespoon of salt.  Cover with water and let stand for 4 hours.

Step 2:  While the cucumbers are hanging out, you can make the brine.  In a sauce pan, heat the vinegar and sugar until it's dissolved.  Once dissolved, add the mustard seed, celery seed, onions and green pepper.  Stir to combine.  Set aside to let cool.  

Step 3:  After the cucumbers have sat for 4 hours, drain and rinse them.  Place back in the bowl and pour the brine over the cucumbers.  Cover tightly and keep in the fridge.  Let sit overnight or for a day before serving.

Step 3 Alternative:  After the cucumbers have sat for 4 hours, drain and rinse them.  Pack them as best you can into pint-sized mason jars (or larger).  Really be sure to pack them in, if you don't super-pack them in, you won't have enough brine!  Once the cukes are in the jars, ladle the brine into the jars - making sure to fill them to the top so that the all the cukes are covered in the brine.  Cover with the lid and store in the fridge.

These pickles usually last a couple weeks in the fridge. . . .providing you don't inhale them right away!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Baked Lemon Pepper Cod & Roasted Tomatoes

Let's just say that I love sheet-pan dinners.  Not familiar?  A sheet-pan dinner is where everything for the meal is cooked on one sheet-pan in the oven.  When it's done, you place the sheet-pan on the table and serve from it.  Super easy.  And easy clean up too.  In this particular one, you take cod fillets and season them generously and then surround them with grape tomatoes.  The fish is tender yet delicate and meaty while the tomatoes offer a sweet acidic balance to the meal.

Baked Lemon Pepper Cod & Roasted Tomatoes
Serves 4-6

1 and 1/2 Pounds Cod Fillets (boneless and thawed or fresh)
2 Pints Cherry Tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Nature's Seasoning
1-2 Tablespoons Lemon Pepper Seasoning
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
Cooking Spray

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a large baking pan with pan spray.  Set aside.

Step 2:  Prep the grape tomatoes by washing them.  You can leave them whole, but I prefer to cut them in half.  Set aside.

Step 3:  Center the fish fillets on the baking pan.  Place the tomatoes around the fillets (it's okay if they touch the fish . . .just don't put them on top of the fish).  

Step 4:  Drizzle the olive over the tomatoes and fish.  Season the tomatoes with the Nature's Seasoning.  Season the fish with the lemon pepper.  

Step 5:  Place the sheet, uncovered, into the oven and bake for roughly 15 minutes.  When the fish is done, it will flake easily with a fork.  


Friday, July 22, 2016

Coconut Almond Cake

Y'all know I can't resist baking myself a scrumptious, decadent birthday cake.  In fact, I would be personally offended if my family bought me a cake.  That's how much I love to bake cakes.  Seriously.  I'm not even joking one bit.  And the cake for this year's birthday?  Coconut Almond.  And it is absolutely fabulous.  Velvety, soft, golden cake with a slight texture from the coconut and almonds.  Excellent flavor, amazing texture.  

This recipe is adapted from Emeril Lagasse's Coconut Cream Cake recipe from his book "Emeril's TV Dinners".  (psbytheway:  I (heart) Emeril).   Something I should mention:  the original recipe calls for the cake to be baked in three 8-inch pans.  I used two 9-inch pans and adjusted the baking time.  The pans were very full, but it worked out fine.  I frosted the cake with a very silky smooth frosting made with coconut milk.  It is pretty unbelievable.  If using this frosting, I recommend storing the cake in the fridge as the frosting can get a little soft.  I also sandwiched some maraschino cherries between the cake layers.  It was a fun idea, but it really didn't add much flavor.  The cake is amazing without the cherries :)

Coconut Almond Cake
Serves 16

2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
5 Large Eggs, separated
2 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 Cup Sliced or Blanched Almonds
1 Cup Unsweetened, Flaked Coconut
1 Cup Buttermilk
1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract (optional)
1/2 Teaspoon Coconut Extract (optional)

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans (or three 8-inch pans).  Set aside.

Step 2:  In a food processor, grind the almonds and coconut.  Do not obliterate or over process.  You want them to turn into a nice crumb size.  Set aside.

Step 3:  In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and the butter together.  Next, add the oil and mix until well combined.  Now, add the yolks one at a time, making sure they are blended in before adding the next one.  Also add the extracts at this time if you are choosing to use them.

Step 4:  Sift together the flour and baking soda.  Add the ground almonds and coconut.  Mix together.

Step 5:  Alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the batter, mixing well.  Set the batter aside.

Step 6:  In a clean bowl with clean mixer beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold the egg whites into the cake batter.  Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans.  Bake for 25 - 45 minutes (depending on your pan size - shorter time if using three pans, longer time if using two pans).  They will be done when the center springs back when touched and when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  

Step 7:  Remove from the oven and let cool.  Once cooled, remove from pans and frost per your discretion.

Coconut Cream Frosting
Yield:  5-6 Cups

1 (13.5 oz) Can Coconut Milk
1 Cup Butter, Room Temperature
1 and 1/2 Cups Shortening
5 Cups Powdered Sugar
Food Coloring (optional)
Extract of Choice (optional)

Step 1:  In the bowl of a large mixer, add the butter and shortening.  Beat until smooth.  

Step 2:  Add half the coconut milk to the creamed mixture and beat until smooth.  Add the remaining coconut milk and beat until smooth and well incorporated.

Step 3:  Add one cup of the powdered sugar and beat until well incorporated.  Repeat with the next cup of powdered sugar and continue to all the powdered sugar is incorporated.  Beat this for 3-4 minutes.  This will allow whip in some air to help stiffen up the frosting a bit.   If you feel it is still too smooth for you, add up to one more cup of powdered sugar.  At this time, taste and if you are happy with the flavor and texture - you are good to go.  Dye it if you please.  This is also the time to add the extract if you choose to use.

This is a very smooth and silky frosting with a slight coconut flavor.  Be sure to store in the fridge.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Salmon with Pesto & Tomatoes

I can't decide what I love the most about this dish:  the ease of it or the flavors.  Not gonna lie.  I really love this dish.  You take a slab of salmon and slather it with pre-made pesto and add tomatoes . . .easy peasy.  And, even clean up is a cinch because you bake it in a foil packet!  I served mine with some sliced avocado on the side . . .healthy was the theme!

Salmon with Pesto & Tomatoes
Serves 2

1/2 Pound of Salmon (without bones)
2 Tablespoons Pesto
8-10 Grape Tomatoes (washed and halved)

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Layout a piece of tinfoil twice the length of the salmon.  Place the salmon (skin-side down if it still has the skin) on the left-side of the foil.

Step 2:  Spread the pesto on top of the salmon and top with the grape tomatoes.

Step 3:  Fold the tinfoil over the salmon/tomatoes and close up the edges (there should only be three edges of the foil to fold/close).  Place packet on top of baking sheet.

Step 4:  Place the pan in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and carefully open the foil packet.  The fish should flake easily with a fork.  To serve, using a flat spatula, remove the fish from the foil and place on plates.  If there was skin on the fish, the skin should stick to the foil.

Friday, July 1, 2016


You don't need to go to a fancy restaurant next time you are craving a delicious popover - just make this recipe instead!  You'll save yourself a little cash instead of eating out and still be left wanting more popovers.  No lie.  You can't have just 1.  This recipe is very easy to make - the key is to way over-grease your muffin tin.  

Yield: 12

1 and 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons Melted Butter
1 and 1/2 Cups Milk
3 Large Eggs, Slightly Beaten

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Step 2:  Grease the heck out of  a muffin tin.  Grease like you've never greased before!

Step 3:  In mixing bowl, whisk together the salt and flour.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir together until just combined.

Step 4:  Disburse the batter among a 12-cup muffin tin.  Place in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour.

Step 5:  Remove from the pans and serve warm.  

Friday, June 24, 2016

Oven BBQ Pork Steaks

All the credit for this one goes to The Hubbs!   I came home from the j-o-b to find this in the oven, baking away.  It was sooooooooooooo good . . .very tender and absolutely sweet and delicious.  Best BBQ I've had in a long time.  I imagine this sauce would be good on other items too.  If you cannot find pork steaks, pork chops will be a great substitute.

Oven BBQ Pork Steaks
Serves 4

2-4 Pork Steaks
1/2 Cup Ketchup
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
Liquid Smoke - just a couple drops
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Nature's Seasoning (or Salt and Pepper)

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a baking sheet or pan with nonstick spray.

Step 2: Place the pork steaks onto the baking sheet.  Season with Nature's Seasoning.  Sprinkle with garlic powder and onion powder.

Step 3:  In a bowl, mix together the ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire and liquid smoke.  Pour over the steaks. 

Step 4:  Place in the pan into the oven and bake for 1 hour.  If making chops instead of steaks, you may need to decrease the baking time.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Cracked-Top Jello Cookies

Summertime.  We have a love-hate relationship.  I hate heat and humidity and sometimes even sunshine.  But I really do love the longer days and not wearing a coat.  As a child, I usually hid in the basement where it was cool and dark until the evening hours (my parent's house did not have air conditioning).  Then, in the cooler hours, I would go for long bike rides, hang out with friends and enjoy life.  One of the summertime staples that helped me through those long, dreaded, high humidity days - were these cookies.  They are definitely a summertime cookie - fruity, sweet and slightly tangy.  You can use any flavor Jello you want - experiment with your favorites!  I made a batch of orange ones and a batch of cherry lemonade as well.

Cracked-Top Jello Cookies
Yield: 3 - 4 dozen, depending on the size

1 Cup White Sugar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Shortening
1 Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Cups Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
2 Teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Small Package of Jello
Food Coloring (optional)

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare your cookie sheets by greasing them.

Step 2:  In the bowl of a mixer, cream the sugars and shortening.  Add the egg and mix well.

Step 3:  Add the remaining ingredients and mix until incorporated.  Please note, the food coloring is optional.

Step 4:  Roll dough into a 1-inch balls.  This cookie dough is a bit more dry than a usual cookie, so make sure you really roll them well. DO NOT FLATTEN THEM.  

Step 5:  Bake for 13-15 minutes.  Remove from oven, remove cookies from the baking sheet and place on cooling rack.  Let cool.  

Can't help being overwhelmed with emotion each time I see my mother's handwriting!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Easy Clams Linguine

Mmmmm....a delicious, garlicky bowl of pasta  that will leave you slurping up the extra sauce from the bowl.  Very easy, amazingly delicious.

Easy Clams Linguine
Serves 4

3 Cans of Minced Clams with Juice
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 Cup Onion, Finely Diced
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/4 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Oregano
1 Tablespoon Basil
1 Tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 LB Linguine, Cooked
Parsley to Serve
Parmesan Cheese to Serve

Step 1:  In a large pan, melt the butter and add the olive oil.

Step 2:  Add the garlic and onion to the pan.  Cook until the onion is soft, but not browned.

Step 3:  Add the lemon juice, crushed red pepper, oregano, basil and Old Bay.  Stir until combined.

Step 4:  Add the clams with juice.  Simmer for 5 minutes.

Step 5:  Pour the sauce over the cooked linguine.  Top with a little parsley and serve with Parmesan cheese.


Friday, June 3, 2016

Balsamic Glazed Asparagus

Delicious, tender asparagus glazed in a sweet, tangy sauce made of butter and balsamic vinegar.  What could be more tasty?  The earthy and bold flavors go perfectly with a tender, juicy steak.  You can thank me later.

Balsamic Glazed Asparagus
Serves 4

1 Pound Asparagus, cleaned and trimmed
1 Tablespoon Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  
Lay out the asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Step 2:  Place baking sheet with asparagus in the oven and roast it for 12-15 minutes or until desired consistency.

Step 3:  While the asparagus is in the oven . . . on the stove top in a small saucepan, combine the soy sauce, butter and balsamic vinegar.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, and then turn to low once the butter has melted.

Step 4:  After the asparagus has been pulled from the oven, place on or in your serving dish of choice and pour the sauce over the asparagus.  Serve!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Hot Fudge Sauce

Sometimes, you just really want hot fudge sauce....or specifically a Peanut Buster Parfait . . .which is basically all about the hot fudge sauce.  Just sayin'.  And truth be told, you are too lazy to go drive to DQ to get a PBP.   And hot fudge is kind of spendy at the store.  So instead, just make up a batch of this easy and decadent hot fudge sauce.  Pour it over ice cream while the sauce is still warm....mmmmm.  Or, eat is straight from the pan - I'm not here to judge.  Just sayin'.  

Please note that this recipe does use a little instant coffee.  It is not enough to make it coffee or mocha flavored.  Rather, it just adds a little bit of dimension to the flavor.  If you've ever worked in a restaurant that serves hot fudge, you likely may already know that it is very commonplace to thin out the fudge sauce with coffee when it gets too thick.  So, don't be afraid!  You will love it!

Hot Fudge Sauce
Yield:  1 Pint

1/2 Cup Salted Butter
1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder
1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/4 Cup Half and Half (or whatever kind of milk you have on hand)
1 Teaspoon Instant Coffee (optional)

Step 1:  In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Once melted, add the Half and Half, cocoa powder and instant coffee.  Stir until the instant coffee and cocoa powder is dissolved.  Remove from heat.

Step 2:  Add the sweetened condensed milk to the pan and stir until combined.  If it seems too thin - place back over low heat and stir until desired consistency.  Too thick?  Add a little more Half and Half if necessary.  Serve warm.  Store any leftover in the fridge.  This will keep up to a month if stored in the fridge.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Baked Potato Salad

Here is a quick and easy side dish or small meal.  All the wonderful flavors of a yummy loaded baked potato, except in salad form and served cold!  Sour cream, chives, garlic, onion, bacon . . .oh my!  I'm filing it under single-serve, but it could be two servings  . . .if you were the sharing type of person! 

Baked Potato Salad
Serves 1-2

1 Large Potato, Baked and Cooled
1/2 Small Onion, Diced Fine
1 Teaspoon Chives
1/4 Cup Sour Cream
2 Tablespoons Milk
1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Nature's Seasoning
1 Tablespoon Bacon Bits
1 Tablespoon Cheddar Cheese

Step 1:  Cut the cooled, baked potato into bite-sized pieces.  Place in a medium sized bowl.

Step 2: Add the diced onion, chives, bacon bits and cheese to the bowl.  Set aside.

Step 3:  Time to make the dressing!  In a small bowl:  combine the sour cream milk, garlic powder, and Nature's Seasoning.  Stir well.

Step 4:  Pour the dressing over potatoes etc.  Gently stir to combine.  You can serve immediately - but if you let it chill for about a half hour, it tastes even better!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Banana Bread Chocolate Chip Mug Cake

Mmmmmmm....warm banana bread with chocolate chips.  Always a favorite.  But sometimes you just don't have an hour or two to commit to baking a full loaf of banana bread!  In this mug cake - you'll find all same flavors . . .just pared down to a few ingredients.  Look at that lovely color on mine!  That comes from a farm fresh egg :)  Regardless of if your eggs are store bought or from a local farmer . . .this mug cake will make your tummy smile and leave you feeling satisfied (without the hour long wait!).

Banana Bread Chocolate Chip Mug Cake
Serves 1 (Generously!!!)

1 Medium Ripe Banana, Mashed
1 Tablespoon Applesauce
1 Egg
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 Tablespoon Milk
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
3 Tablespoons Flour
1 Tablespoon Chocolate Chips

Step 1:  In a large mug, combine the mashed banana, applesauce, egg, milk and honey.  Stir well with a fork to combine.

Step 2:  To the mug, add the flour, baking powder and chocolate chips.  Stir with the fork until well combined.

Step 3:  Place in microwave and cook for 1 minute.  If the center is firm (not jiggly) - it is done.  If it still appears jiggly - cook another 30 seconds.  Repeat in 30 second intervals until the center is no longer jiggly.  Mine took 2 minutes.

Step 4:  Let cool for 5 minutes.  Enjoy!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Jalapeno Popper Toast

Okay, so this one isn't so much a recipe  . . .but more of just 'my favorite breakfast' or 'super-yummy snack'.  This could easily fall into that category of 'fancy toasts' that so seem to be all the rage lately.  I've been eating this forever.   Trust me.  Delish.

Jalapeno Popper Toast
Serves 1

1 Slice Bread 
1 - 2 Tablespoons Cream Cheese
1 Teaspoon Jam of Choice
Sliced, Pickled Jalapenos
Bacon (optional)

Step 1:  Toast your bread.

Step 2:  Slather your bread with cream cheese.  Top with a bit of jelly or jam.  I used grape today - but raspberry is actually my favorite.

Step 3:  Top with sliced, pickled jalapenos.

Step 4 (optional):  Top with a few slices of bacon.  I did not have any today :(  Bacon makes everything better!

Step 5:  Enjoy!!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Almond Shortbread Bars

These rich and tasty little treats are so good that you will find yourself looking for reasons to walk into the kitchen and sneak one when no one is looking.  And don't even think that no one saw you.  Because, as soon you exit the kitchen - one of your kids will be standing there...looking at you...and asking what you are eating and if they can have some.  And then you say "noooooooooooo . . .mama was just drinking a glass of water...."  Seriously.  These are so buttery and melt in your mouth - perfect with a cup of coffee or tea - or even by themselves.  They are deliciously yummy and completely melt in your mouth with each buttery-almond bite.  It's hard to eat just one because they are just that good!  

Almond Shortbread Bars
Yield:  16

1 and 1/2 Cups Flour
3/4 Cup Butter, softened
1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar 
12.5 oz. Can of Almond Filling

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Step 2:  In the bowl of a mixer, add the butter, flour and powdered sugar.  Mix until very well blended and crumbly.

Step 3:  Reserve about 1/3 of the dough from Step 2 and set aside.  With the remianing 2/3s of dough - press it into a 9x9 square baking pan.  Try to make the layer as even as possible, but it certainly does not need to be perfect!

Step 4:  Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven.  Let cool slightly for about 5 minutes.  Make sure to leave the oven on during this time.

Step 5: It's now time to spread the Almond Filling onto the shortbread crust.  I found that the easiest method to do so was to scoop dollops of the filling from the can and place onto the crust.  Then, with an offset spatula - gently, very gently, spread the filling across the shortbread crust.  The crust is very delicate - so be gentle.  It will so be worth it!

Step 6:  Once the filling has been spread on the crust, take the remaining dough and crumble it on top of the almond filling.  Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 25 minutes.  

Step 7:  Remove from the oven and let cool completely before cutting and eating.  

Friday, March 25, 2016

Oatmeal & Raisin Bran Muffins

This is truly a decadent muffin.  If you aren't watching your calories . . .this one is for you.  Each muffin is about 200 calories. . . .but man, oh man . . .delicious!!

Oatmeal and Raisin Bran Muffins
Yield:  12 Muffins

3 Cups Bran Flake Cereal
1 and 1/2 Cups Buttermilk
1 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Oatmeal
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Egg, Beaten
2 Tablespoons Oil
1/2 Cup Honey
1/2 Cup Raisins

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line muffin tin with paper muffin liners.

Step 2:  In a large bowl, add the bran flake cereal and the buttermilk.  Stir.  Add in the oil, egg and honey.  Stir to combine.

Step 3:  In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients:  flour, oatmeal, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and raisins.

Step 4:  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Mix to combine.

Step 5:  Disperse the batter among the muffin tin.  They will be full!  

Step 6:  Place the muffin tin into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.   

Friday, March 18, 2016

Oriental Slaw

This is one of my all-time favorite salads and is always potluck favorite.  Shredded cabbage, oriental flavors, onion, almonds and crunchy ramen noodles.  There are many versions of this salad - here is mine.  What makes it better than the other recipes?  I toast my almonds.  I use Nature's Seasoning + the seasoning packet from the ramen.  Those are just the first few differences.  Give it whirl - you will love it!

Oriental Slaw
Serves Several

1 Pkg Cabbage, Pre-Cut
1 Pkg Oriental Ramen Noodles
1/2 Sliced Almonds, Toasted
1/2 Cup Sesame Oil
1/4 Cup Vinegar
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Bunch (5-6) Green Onion, cleaned and sliced
2 Teaspoons Nature's Seasoning

Step 1:  In a large bowl, combine the seasoning packet from the ramen noodles along with the vinegar, oil, sugar and Nature's Seasoning.  Mix well.

Step 2:  Add to the bowl the cabbage, toasted almonds and green onion.  Stir well to combine and incorporate the dressing.

Step 3:  Crunch up the ramen noodles.  Add to the salad and stir.  Serve immediately.  OR, if you prefer to make ahead - prepare everything except this last step.  Reserve the noodles and add them to the salad right before serving it (unless you prefer soggy noodles . . .which are okay too).

Friday, March 11, 2016

Incredible Edible Sweet Potatoes

Love sweet potato fries?  Then you will love these!  Less fuss, same effect.  Delicious.  Sweet, creamy texture in the center and slightly crispy on the outside.  Buy extra when shopping for sweet potatoes - this recipe always disappears fast!  All you do is dice up the sweet potatoes and roast . . .and shebam!  Before you know it . . .happy family.  The hardest issue is just waiting for them to roast (approximately 1 hour baking time)!  These go great with pork chops, just sayin'.

Incredible Edible Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4-8 

1-2 Pounds of Sweet Potatoes
1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare a large baking sheet by spraying with non-stick pan spray.  Set aside.

Step 2:  Wash the sweet potatoes.  Once washed - leave the skins on.  No need to peel!!  Cube them into approximately 1/2 inch cubes.  Place on the cookie sheet in a single layer.  Use two cookie sheets if you run out of room on the first cookie sheet!

Step 3: Once all potatoes are cubed, drizzle olive oil over the potatoes and then give them a quick toss with your hands.  No need to fully coat them in oil.  You just want the oil to get disbursed.

Step 4:  Time to roast up these babies!  Place in the oven for 30 minutes.  Then, stir them around/flip them.  Return to the oven and bake for another 30  minutes - until they are soft when pierced with a fork and slightly beginning to brown around the edges.  

Friday, March 4, 2016

Cream Cheese Candies

These Cream Cheese Candies are the perfect confection to place in a candy dish or use as little favors for events.  They are easy to make, use only a few ingredients and are completely delightful.  They are sweet, melt in your mouth and highly addictive.  Some people refer to them as 'mints' . . .but they really aren't mints unless you flavor them with mint.  Regardless of the flavors you use, they will be a huge hit! And just think of the gift/favor possibilities . . .Valentine's Day, Easter, Christmas . . .place them a cute mason jar with some ribbon and viola!  

In the picture below, I feature two flavors:  Saskatoon Berry (pink) and Almond (yellow).

Cream Cheese Candies
Serves Many

8 oz Cream Cheese
5 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 Teaspoon Flavored Extract of Your Choice (Example:  Almond, Mint, Strawberry, or Cinnamon etc)
A few drops of Food Coloring (to coordinate with the flavor)
Waxed Paper or Parchment Paper
Granulated Sugar (optional)

Step 1:  In a large bowl, add the cream cheese and beat with a mixer until smooth.  This is an occasion where you may want to use your big mixer (like a Kitchenaid stand mixer).

Step 2:  Add the extract, food coloring and half of the powdered sugar to the bowl.  Beat again until well combined.  

Step 3:  Add the remaining powdered sugar and beat until well combined. Taste a small bit and adjust flavor and food dye as needed.

Step 4:  Line two large cookie pans or sheet pans with waxed paper or parchment paper.  Use your hands to take pinch off a small bit and shape into your desired shape.  A few ideas:

  • Roll into a small ball and then flatten with a fork (as pictured below).
  • Use a rubber/silicone candy mold - sprinkle the mold with a bit of granulated sugar first and then press the dough into the mold.  Remove the excess and pop the candy out onto the waxed paper.  I used a star mold for some that I made (see picture above)
  • Roll some dough into a long, rope.  Make it about the circumference of your pinkie finger.  Then, with a knife - cut into 1/2 inch pieces.  Separate the pieces. These will look like tiny little pillows (not pictured).
As you are creating the shapes, place them onto the lined trays into a single layer to air dry.  You will want to let them dry for several hours (overnight on the counter works great!).  Or, you can expedite the drying process by placing them in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours.  

Step 5:  To serve, place them in a candy dish and let guests help themselves :)  These are perfectly fine sitting out in the air for about 24 hours.  Or, package them up for gifts.    

For long-term storage - place them in an airtight container in the fridge and they will last about 2-3 weeks.  As well, they can also be frozen for later use (if doing so, place in container single layered, with waxed paper between the layers of candies before freezing).  

Friday, February 26, 2016

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

Yep, here I am again with oats.  You are likely thinking that my alias is The Crazy Oatmeal Lady.  Seriously, I love oats.  It's my preferred grain.  I just love the flavor! Anyhow, here is a low-sugar oatmeal raisin muffin - made with honey and no oil.  Not crazy about raisins?  Substitute chocolate chips or craisins etc.  These are perfect for brunch, a snack or a breakfast on the go!  Light and fluffy, you will be sure to enjoy.

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins
Serves 12

1 Cup Old-Fashioned Oats
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Raisins
1/3 Cup Applesauce
1/4 Cup Honey
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Egg
1 Cup Milk

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare your muffin tin by spraying really well with oil or by lining it with paper muffin cups.

Step 2:  In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients:  oats, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and raisins.  Mix well.  Set aside.

Step 3:  In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients: applesauce, honey, vanilla, egg and milk.  Stir until well combined.  

Step 4:  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  

Step 5:  Disperse the batter evenly among the muffin tin.  Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.