Pumpkin Pie

I have to post this recipe so I don't lose it. I am not a big pumpkin pie fan, but I really, really... really liked this one. My favorite part about this recipe was that it only made one pie. (Of course I ended up making two anyway after I dropped the first one...)

1 egg
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie

1.Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
2.Add the sugar gradually to the pumpkin puree. Beat well an stir in the flour, salt and spices. Stir in the corn syrup and beat well. Stir in the slightly beaten egg, then slowly add the evaporated milk, mixing until well blended. Pour the batter into the unbaked pie shell.
3.Bake at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 10 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees F) and continue baking pie for an additional hour or until a knife inserted into the mixture comes out clean.

*Tip- If you loosely place a piece of aluminum foil, in a tent shape, over the pie while it bakes at 325, the pie crust will be perfectly browned and not burned.

Chewy Caramel Brownies

A friend of mine was asking about a simple, tasty dessert and I remembered I had this recipe. My mother in law introduced me to these. They are chewy and wonderful.

1 (14 ounce) package of light caramels
1/2 cup melted margarine
1 (6 ounce) pkg of chocolate chips
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 pkg German Chocolate cake mix
1 cup of chopped nuts (optional)

Melt the caramels and 1/3 cup of evaporated milk in a microwave, stirring occasionally.
In a separate bowl, combine melted margarine, the other 1/3 cup of evaporated, and cake mix.
Separate the cake mix in to half.
Press one half in to a greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes. Spread the chocolate chips, then caramel, then optional nuts on top of the baked cake mix. Crumble the left over cake mix in to small bits and put that over the top of the caramel and nuts. The cake does bake like it falls.
Bake for 15 minutes at 350. Allow to cool.

Black Bean Soup With a Mexican Flare

I realize that there is another black bean soup on this blog, but this recipe has a completely different flavor. My sister in law gave me this recipe and I tweaked it a bit.

One large can of black refried beans
32 ounces of chicken broth
The juice of one lime
Chopped Cilantro to taste (cool people use a lot!)
One 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes with green chilies
One cup of sour cream

Put all of the above ingredients in the crock pot. I used my hand blender to blend everything together in to a smooth soup base. If you do not have a hand blender you could add some of the broth to the remaining ingredients and blend it up in a blender.

I let this cook in my crock pot on high for a couple of hours.

Add 1 cup of salsa
2 cups of prepared rice (I had leftover Mexican rice)
1 can of black beans, rinsed

Cut about 15 corn tortillas in to strips and bake at 375 for about 15-20 minutes. Turning occasionally.

Serve soup hot, topped with cheese and baked tortilla strips. MMMmmmm.

Twice Baked Butternut Squash

I usually scale this down quite a bit unless we're having company over, because while delicious, my husband and two of my three children are not squash fans.  Another Martha Stewart recipe. :)

6 butternut squash (about 9 pounds total)
1 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon  sour cream
2 teaspoons paprika
6 fresh chives, cut into 1/8-inch pieces
3 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs, lightly toasted

Heat oven to 450 degrees with the rack in center. Halve squash lengthwise, and remove seeds and fibers. Sprinkle squash halves with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Fill a roasting pan with 1/4 inch water. Place squash in pan. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake until squash is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer squash to a cool surface, and let cool enough to handle. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Use a spoon to scoop baked flesh out of each half into a large bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch border around six of the halves so they will keep their shape. To the bowl, add sour cream, paprika, chives, and remaining teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix with a handheld electric mixer or potato masher until smooth and well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Fill six squash halves with mixture (discard remaining six empty halves). Sprinkle tops with toasted breadcrumbs. Bake until golden brown and warm throughout, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve.

Wild Rice Stuffed Squash

This is a really yummy recipe that I adapted from a back issue of Everyday Food!

2 acorn squashes (1 1/2 pounds each), halved lengthwise, seeds removed
2 Tbl. butter
1 small onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 box (6 ounces) wild-rice blend (seasoning packet discarded)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecans, chopped, optional

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, arrange squash cut side down; cover sheet tightly with aluminum foil. Roast until tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat butter over medium. Add onion, garlic, and Herbes de Provence; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add rice and 1 3/4 cups water; bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until tender, without stirring, about 25 minutes.

Remove rice from heat, and stir in cranberries and pecans; season stuffing with salt and pepper. Season the inside of each squash half with salt and pepper. Dividing evenly, mound stuffing into halves, and serve.

Bavarian Cream Filling

I just made this as a filling for a cake. I am pleased. I got the original recipe off of cake central, but had to alter it a bit.

1 - 3 oz package french vanilla instant pudding
2 TBSP powdered sugar

5 TBSP very hot water
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup heavy whipping cream

In a small bowl combine the pudding, powdered sugar, and hot water. Mix thoroughly in to a paste.
In a separate bowl beat together the vanilla and whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks.
Put a heaping spoonful of the whipping cream in to the pudding mixture and fold it in. Add the pudding mixture back to the bowl of whipping cream and beat together until thoroughly mixed.

This would be great in cupcakes, donuts, cakes, or with a spoon. ;)

Elvis Milkshake

It’s a well known fact that one of Elvis Presley’s favorite foods was peanut butter and banana sandwiches. He inspired this natural, healthy treat (my twist on a treat I had at a Relief Society meeting last week).

1 frozen banana

2 tablespoons peanut butter (I used natural—just peanuts and salt)

2 cups dark chocolate almond milk

A handful of ice (optional)

Blend all together in a blender until smooth. Pour into two tall glasses. Sip and enjoy. Makes two large, protein packed, healthful and satisfying milkshakes.

A couple of hints:

  • I just peeled a bunch of browning bananas and froze them in ziploc bags. Peel them first and then you have some on hand whenever you need them. You can just toss the frozen banana in the blender and you don’t have to wait until it thaws to peel it. It also makes everything nice and cold. I didn’t think the ice was necessary doing it this way.
  • You could use chocolate soy milk or even regular chocolate milk instead of the almond milk.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Sean has made these a couple of times and they disappear pretty quickly. He likes to take them to people he visits and I get notes of thank you for the wonderful muffins. Ha!

The recipe was found on allrecipes.com and slightly adapted. Yields 24 small muffins. They are also great as mini-muffins!

1-1/2 cups brown sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners.

2.Mix sugar, oil, eggs. Add pumpkin and water. In separate bowl mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.. Add wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips.

3.Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Sparkling Autumn Punch

2 cups apple juice or apple cider

2 cups cranberry juice cocktail

1 1/2 cups orange juice

2 cups ginger ale

Mix all together just before serving. Serve over ice. If you want you can make orange juice ice cubes ahead of time so that the punch doesn’t get watered down when you chill it.

Serves about 10.

Apple Salad with Maple Vinaigrette


Red leaf lettuce (or mixed greens from the salad section of the grocery store), washed and torn into bite sized pieces

Baby spinach, washed and torn into bite sized pieces

1 to 2 large firm apples, cut up into bite sized pieces (I used a Cortland apple—one of those delicious New York cultivars)

1 to 2 ribs of celery, chopped

1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries

1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds

red or green onion to taste

crumbled goat cheese (optional)

Tear up enough greens to fill a large salad bowl with a 50/50 mix of the lettuce and spinach. Toss in the remaining ingredients except goat cheese and refrigerate until serving time. Dress the salad with Maple Vinaigrette dressing right before serving and garnish with the goat cheese.

Maple Vinaigrette:

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

2/3 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Individual Apple Tarts

These are simple and delicious. I made a few changes to the original recipe (found here).

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed slowly in the refrigerator

4-5 Golden Delicious apples

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

6 tablespoons butter, cut into 24 cubes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (if baking immediately). Unfold sheet of puff pastry dough and roll out on a floured surface until quite thin (less than 1/8”). Use a biscuit cutter or other round cutter to cut out about one dozen 3” circles (you may have to kind of recut the shape with a knife in some places if it doesn’t cut through all the way). Place dough circles on a parchment lined cookie sheet to chill while you prepare the apples. Peel, core and slice the apples as thin as you can. A mandolin works well for this part but I just used my slicing blade on my food processor (not as pretty and even but just as tasty).

Assembly: Place a cube of butter and a little of the cinnamon sugar (about 1/2 tsp) in the center of each pastry round. Pile apple slices up in circles on the piece of dough placing largest apple pieces on the bottom and building up to about 2 or 3 inches tall. Place another cube of butter on top and sprinkle all liberally with the remaining cinnamon sugar. Now you can either freeze them to be baked later or bake them for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

*Personal notes: Make sure your oven rack is in the middle of the oven. If it is too close to the bottom the sugar burns. Also, you can bake these and then freeze them. Thaw and eat or thaw and heat if you want that warm-apple-pie-experience.

Apple Dumplings

I can't believe I forgot about this recipe.  DIVINE.  Heaven wrapped up in a pillowy crust.  The Pioneer Woman is a genius.

2 whole Granny Smith Apples (I use whatever firm apple I have on hand)
2 cans (8 oz. Cans) crescent rolls
2 sticks butter
1-½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
cinnamon, to taste
1 can (12 oz.) Mountain Dew soda

Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into 8 slices each. Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place in a 9 x 13 buttered pan.
Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir. Add vanilla, stir, and pour entire mixture over apples. Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the pan over the top.

WARNING: Prepare this dish at your own risk. It is beyond imaginable.

Apple Crisp

Autumn in NY + fresh picked apples = heaven.

6-8 c. apples, peeled and sliced
3 Tbl. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

2 c. oatmeal (I prefer old-fashioned rather than instant)
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 c. butter, melted
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving

Combine apples, 3 Tbl. sugar, and 1 tsp. of cinnamon in a bowl.  Transfer to a greased baking dish (this amount usually fits perfectly in my 7 x 11 pan).  Thoroughly combine remaining ingredients (using your hands if necessary) and crumble over the top the of the apples.  Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, or until the apples mixture starts bubbling.  Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream (or cold/reheated for breakfast the next morning :).

Grilled Chicken Breast with Roasted Tomato Onion Sauce

I got another recipe from Melissa D'Arabian. Love her! The directions seem long, but really she is just thorough. It is easy to do. My kids each had three helpings of the chicken mixed with the sauce. I paired the chicken with salt potatoes. It worked perfectly to have the salty flavor and the sweet tomatoes with the grilled chicken!

Ingredients for sauce
Roasted Tomato and Onion Dipping Sauce:

5 Roma tomatoes, halved (about 1 pound)*
1 yellow or white onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 to 2 tablespoons water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

*Cook's Note: The tomatoes do not have to be "good" tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Place the halved tomatoes, onions, and garlic cloves on a baking sheet. Drizzle with half the olive oil and sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Toss to coat well. Place the tomatoes cut-side down, and cook for 2 hours turning the tomatoes after 1 hour. After the second hour, remove the baking sheet, and set aside the unpeeled garlic. Place the rest of the vegetables and the pan juices in a food processor or blender. Add a tablespoon or two of water to the pan to scrape up any bits of flavor stuck onto the baking sheet and add to the food processor. Squeeze out the soft flesh of the roasted garlic into the food processor and add the remaining olive oil. Pulse the mixture until chunky, or puree until smooth, depending on desired consistency. Taste the sauce and season with salt, and pepper, if necessary.

For the grilled chicken;
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves


In a small bowl, mix the vegetable oil with the smashed garlic, using a fork to help release the garlic flavor into the oil. Season the garlic mixture with salt, and pepper, to taste. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prep the chicken breasts. Rinse and dry the chicken thoroughly. Find the ridge along the side of the chicken breast, and carefully pull off the tender. Take each breast and pound gently to an even thickness. Do not pound too thin; the breast will not be completely uniform. If there is a skinny little triangular tip, go ahead and cut off and discard. Prep the tenders by slicing off any jagged edges. Liberally salt and pepper the chicken and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
(I let mine marinate in the oil for about 1 hour before I cooked the chicken.)

Preheat the grill to hot.

Once the chicken has rested, brush liberally with the garlic-infused vegetable oil. Place the chicken breasts on the hot grill, with the thicker portion facing the hotter part of your grill (usually the back). Allow the chicken breasts to cook undisturbed until char marks are made, about 4 minutes. Flip the chicken, keeping the thick part of the chicken toward the hot part of the flame, and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the chicken reads 155 degrees F, about 3 more minutes. Place the chicken tenders on the grill and cook for 3 to 4 minutes total, turning halfway through. Allow the grilled chicken to rest for 5 minutes, covered, before serving.

-I dumped the sauce over the chicken and served it. YUM!

Peach Crunch

Peaches are in season. I had a Georgia peach with my lunch today. I was thinking about what to bring to a neighborhood social we are having over at the church tonight and I thought of my mother-in-law’s Peach Crunch. This is one of David’s favorite desserts and it is pretty easy to put together. I just used store bought canned peaches but everyone knows that home canned peaches are best if they are available. Tasty.

2 quarts sliced peaches

2 tsp tapioca

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

1/2 cup butter, margarine, melted or 1/2 cup salad oil

Arrange peaches in a lightly greased 9x13 glass baking dish. Sprinkle with tapioca. Combine the dry ingredients and add the eggs. Mix until until crumbly and cover the peaches and tapioca with the mixture, spreading evenly. Drizzle melted butter or oil over all. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes until golden brown on top. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. Also wonderful cold or room temperature. Good stuff!

Tahiti Salad

I almost always have all the ingredients on hand to make this salad so it’s easy to whip up. I don’t make it very often but it’s a treat when I do.

1 can pineapple tidbits, well drained

2 cans mandarin oranges, well drained

1 1/2 cups shredded coconut

2 cups mini marshmallows

1 pint sour cream (2 cups)

Mix all together thoroughly and chill for at least 5 hours before serving.

I substituted vanilla yogurt for the sour cream the last time I made it since my sour cream had gone beyond sour when I opened it. It was great with the yogurt too.

Wesley’s Best Dry Rub for Barbeque

My cousin shared this dry rub mix recipe with me. I haven’t tried it yet but he says it is the best and I trust him—he is truly a gourmet.

1 part paprika

1 part garlic powder

1 part black pepper

1/2 part sea salt

1/2 part brown sugar

Mix all together. You can make this in bulk and store in a tightly covered container.

This is how he uses it:

Cover meat (pork, chicken, beef, ribs, etc.) with olive oil (brush on) and rub with spice mixture until covered. Cook over low heat on a grill for an hour.

For ribs you can also prepare them with the oil and dry rub and wrap them in foil and refrigerate overnight. Cook low and slow—about 8 hours at 200 degrees.

I haven’t tried this yet but can’t wait to give it a shot.

Fried Green Tomatoes

My tomato plant on my patio is getting big and I have a feeling we’re going to be enjoying these some time soon. I lived in the South for a total of about 10 years before I ever had an opportunity to try this authentic Southern original. Simple fare, but a tasty way to use up some of those extra tomatoes.

4-6 medium to large green tomatoes


salt and pepper

bacon grease

Heat bacon grease (or vegetable or canola oil if you are a killjoy) in a skillet over medium heat. Cut the tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Salt and pepper the slices to taste. Dredge in the cornmeal and fry in the hot grease for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown on bottom. Gently flip the tomato slices and continue cooking on the flip side for another couple of minutes. Serve hot!

Breakfast Shake

Two of my three kids are not breakfast eaters. I am one of those die hard "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" people.
Here is what I came up with in my desperation;

2-3 TBSP of whole flax seed

I use my magic bullet and the flat grinding blade to grind that down.

1 banana
1 cup vanilla yogurt
2 TBSP peanut butter
4 TBSP chocolate milk mix
2 TBSP cocoa
2 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves (They drank these for 2 weeks without even knowing the spinach was in there!)
2 cups of skim or 1% milk

I blend that up until it is smooth and split it between my three kids. The kids love it and drink it down pretty fast. It has plenty of fiber, protein, calcium, etc.

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

cheddar bay biscuitsA friend of mine (Heather Howell for you current and former New Yorkers that know her) introduced me to this Red Lobster biscuit knock-off recipe a few years ago. They are really simple--actually more of a “semi-homemade” type item than real home cooking but still a delicious treat. We don’t have them too often but when we do they go fast! They go great with spaghetti in lieu of garlic bread or just with some fried chicken and cooked mixed vegetables like we had tonight.

3 cups Bisquick® baking mix (or other similar mix)
1 cup milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (I like sharp)
1/4 cup butter (margarine works too), melted
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Parsley flakes for garnish (optional)
Mix baking mix, milk and grated cheese with a fork until moistened--will be lumpy. Drop by spoonfuls onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until nicely browned. Generously brush tops with melted butter that has been mixed with the garlic powder (I use all the butter). Serve while hot. Good stuff. Serves about 8.

That's a Good (Breakfast) Cookie

We are having snack issues at our house. There are three certain children who think it must be bathed in sugar in order to qualify as a good snack. I found this recipe and tweaked it a whole lot. It is now snack time approved in our house.

2 cups brown sugar (I used 1 cup of Splenda/ Brown Sugar blend)

2 cups rolled oats
1 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup prune puree (you can use baby prunes for this. I soaked 5 prunes in water and then blended them up until they were a smooth consistency)
5 tablespoons water
3 eggs
1/2 cup of soaked raisins (I soaked them for about 15 minutes to keep the cookies moist and chewy)
1/2 cup craisins chopped

Mix all of the dry ingredients listed from the brown sugar to the cinnamon. In a separate bowl mix together all of the fruits and eggs. It will not be very pretty. :) Combine the dry mix and the fruit mix together. The dough will be very sticky. It has to be in order to keep the cookies from being dry. Wheat flour needs more liquid!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray cookie sheets with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper. Scoop about 2 TBSPs of dough and place in balls on the cookie sheet. Flatten them down, as they do not flatten in the oven. (Yes, I know they are sticky!) Bake for about 9 minutes. Do not overcook or the cookies will be dry. This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.
These are one of those cookies that taste the best at room temperature.
They are not the prettiest cookie you have ever eaten, but they have Sadie's approval, and that is saying something.

Grandma’s Potato Salad

Potato salad is one of those things that most people probably already have a favorite recipe for. It is also one of those things that I am particularly picky about. I really don’t like potato salad unless it is Grandma’s recipe. Not too gloppy or mayonnaisey. Simple and tasty.

6 to 7 medium potatoes with skins

6 to 7 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut into pieces

1/2 cup salad dressing (Miracle Whip)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon mustard (yellow or brown—either works)

salt and pepper


crumbled bacon, sliced green onions, parsley or other garnish as desired

Boil the whole potatoes with their skins on for about 20 to 30 minutes checking to make sure they are done with a fork or bamboo skewer. Rinse them in cold water and peel while hot. Place them in a bowl and cut them this way and that with a sharp knife into small pieces. Add the boiled eggs to the bowl. Make a dressing of the salad dressing, mayonnaise and mustard. Stir dressing into the potatoes and eggs while they are still warm. Add salt, pepper and paprika to taste. Garnish as desired and serve either warm or cold.

This is a summertime staple at our house. Every meal seems a little bit better with a side of potato salad.

Frozen Blueberry Lemonade

And one more to celebrate the weekend...

from Real Simple magazine

1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 cup lemonade
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, plus more for serving (I left these out)
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

In a blender, puree the blueberries, lemonade, mint, confectioners’ sugar, and 3 cups ice until smooth.  Garnish with mint sprigs.

Lemon-Blueberry Bundt Cake

I need to go blueberry picking.  Or to Wegmans.

from All You magazine

3  cups  all-purpose flour
2  teaspoons  baking powder
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/2  cup  lemon juice
1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
1/2  cup  buttermilk
16  tablespoons  (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2  cups  sugar
2  teaspoons  grated lemon zest
4  large eggs, at room temperature
2  cups  blueberries 

2  cups  confectioners' sugar
1  tablespoon  buttermilk
2  to 4 Tbsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan with melted butter (I use cooking spray), add a few tablespoons of flour and rotate pan to evenly coat, tapping out excess.

Sift 3 cups flour with baking powder and salt into a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, vanilla and buttermilk. In a second large bowl, beat butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add about 1/4 of flour mixture, followed by 1/4 of buttermilk mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Repeat, alternating dry and liquid ingredients, until batter is thoroughly combined. Gently fold in blueberries. Transfer batter to pan, spreading evenly.

Bake until a tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then unmold cake.

Make glaze: Mix confectioners' sugar, buttermilk and 2 Tbsp. lemon juice in a bowl, stirring until smooth. Glaze should be pourable; if it's too thick, add lemon juice, 1 tsp. at a time, until it reaches desired consistency. Pour half of glaze over warm cake. Let cool for 1 hour, then pour remaining glaze over cake and serve.

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

A little labor-intensive, but SO worth it.

Taken straight from this blog.  Have you visited them yet?

 3 c. fresh blueberries (or frozen works too)
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. water
2 c. sugar
6 oz. light cream cheese, softened*
4 egg yolks
3 c. 2% milk*
1 c. half and half*
Optional: 1 prepared graham cracker crust

*If you don't care about the calories (and you really shouldn't when making home made ice cream!) use full-fat cream cheese and substitute heavy cream for the half and half and whole milk for the 2%. It makes it soooooo good.

In a small saucepan, combine blueberries, powdered sugar, and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes and then remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
In a large saucepan, combine milk and half and half (or cream and whole milk if you're taking that route). Bring to a boil and then remove from heat.

While milk is heating, combine cream cheese, egg yolks, and sugar in a bowl and mix well.After you have removed milk mixture from heat, very slowly pour half of the milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture while the beater is running. This is called tempering the eggs, meaning that you're slowly acclimating them to heat so you can cook them without them curdling. Mix the egg mixture well and then add the tempered egg mixture back into the hot milk mixture. Over medium-low heat and stirring very often, cook to 160 degrees (use a candy thermometer; 160 degrees is considered safe for most animal products, eggs included). Remove from heat.

Place pan in ice--I actually just put the pan in my sink and then dumped a whole bunch of ice all around it; hey, it's one less dish for me to clean!
Allow to cool to a touchable temperature and then add those gorgeous blueberries and all of the liquid with them. Combine completely and put in the fridge for several hours until well chilled. Because this ice cream is a little more labor intensive that most, I make it up to this step one or even 2 days ahead of time. That way when you're ready to freeze it, it's well chilled and will be ready faster!

Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. After churning it will be like soft-serve. Place in an air-tight container in the freezer to let it set up.

If you're adding the graham cracker crust
: While the ice cream maker is working its magic, go ahead and break up the graham cracker crust. Leave some bigger chunks--the ice cream maker will break them down.

When the ice cream is very thick, add the pieces of graham cracker crust and then stop the motor as soon as the crust pieces have been mixed in. Transfer to a freezer-safe container (I just use a plastic food storage container) and freeze for at least three hours. The real beauty is that for about a week, the longer this sits in your freezer, the better it tastes. So you can make this well in advance if you're having a party.

Another reason why you want to freeze this for as long as possible is because this is pretty soft and seems to have a lower melting temperature than most commercial ice creams.

Blueberry Fool

Save the wisecracks, folks. :)

Simple and delicious -- also wonderful with other types of berries!

2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries (thaw if using frozen), reserving a few for garnish
1 - 3 Tbl. sugar (depending on how sweet your berries are)
1 1/4 c. heavy cream

Add blueberries and sugar to food processor or blender and puree until almost smooth. 
Whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Reserve some of the whipped cream for garnish and fold the puree into the rest. Spoon into bowls. Garnish with reserved cream and berries. Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to 30 minutes.

Blueberry Banana Smoothie

2 c. blueberries
1 ripe banana
6 oz. vanilla yogurt
Sugar to taste (if necessary)
Handful of ice (can be omitted if using frozen blueberries)

Blend together in a blender or food processor.

Ina Garten's Blueberry Crumb Cake

There are no words for how yummy this cake is. 

For the streusel:

1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 lb. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (I use salted butter)
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (I decreased this to 1 1/4 c.)

For the cake:

6 Tbl. unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest (I substitute a splash of lemon juice)
2/3 c. sour cream
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. fresh blueberries (I use almost 2 cups)
Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling (I don't bother with this)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.

For the streusel:
Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and then the flour. It will look strange at first, and you will wonder if I've led you astray with this recipe, but I promise it will all come together.  Mix well and set aside.

For the cake:
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries (I toss my blueberries with about a tablespoon of flour before adding -- it prevents them from sinking to the bottom of the cake) and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out with a knife. With your fingers, crumble the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely and serve sprinkled with confectioners' sugar.

Grandma Carter’s Banana Bread

There’s been a little buzz among some of my extended family (in-laws) lately about my grandma’s banana bread recipe so I thought I’d post it for those who aren’t blessed enough to have one of my mom’s prized cook books. ;)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup fruit juice (orange, grapefruit, pineapple, etc.)
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Combine all ingredients thoroughly adding the eggs last. Bake in a greased and floured loaf pan at 350 degrees for 60 minutes (mine sometimes takes a little longer—it may be an altitude thing). I usually test mine with a toothpick to make sure it’s done but don’t over bake it.

I also often sprinkle the top of the batter with a little bit of brown sugar before baking. It adds just a touch of texture and extra sweetness. Plus I just really love brown sugar. We like to enjoy our banana bread with a schmear of plain cream cheese. Yum!

Lemon Bars

Tangy, sweet and refreshing. These cookies always make me think of my mom. The recipe comes from my great Auntie Donna. I thought I’d post it in honor of the blog’s new look. :)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) butter (margarine works too but butter is oh, so much better in my opinion)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Combine above ingredients with a pastry blender or with a fork until dough forms. Pat lightly into 9x13 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking powder
Combine filling ingredients and pour over baked crust. Bake 25 minutes longer. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cool completely. Cut into bars of desired size. Enjoy!

Easy Roasted Green Beans

roasted green beans I have made this using asparagus as well (heaven!). My sister said she tried it with baby crook neck squash quartered lengthwise and they were so sweet they were almost like candy.

1 pound fresh whole green beans

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 to 1 teaspoon onion salt (or to taste)

1 teaspoon fresh herbs like lemon thyme or summer savory (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Trim the ends of green beans, rinse, pat dry and arrange in a single layer on a large cookie sheet with sides (I use a jelly roll pan). Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle all over with the onion salt. Toss to coat. Sprinkle herbs over all and roast in the pre-heated (this is important—I’ve tried it at a lower temperature oven before and the result was not the same) oven for 12-15 minutes or until a little bit of carmelization starts to appear. This is a quick an easy accompaniment to all kinds of meals. Most recently we had it with these ribs for Father’s Day and it was wonderful.

Sweet Cereal Mix

I am a sucker for any type of  "trail mix-type" food.  Even a handful of GORP (Good Ol' Raisins and Peanuts -- with a handful of chocolate chips thrown in for good measure!) makes me happy.  This is a fun twist that I hadn't tried before, but have made three times since finding the recipe.  Maybe I can get a picture next time before my family* scarfs it down.

*by "my family," I mean me.  And my two-year-old.

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 box rice or corn chex
1/3 box of wheat chex
2 cups mini pretzels
1/2 box cheerios
1/2 bag honey teddy grahams 

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Grease 2 deep 9 x 13 inch foil pans. Mix all the cereal, pretzels and teddy grahams together and divide between the two foil tins, set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and then add in the corn syrup and brown sugar. Pour the mixture over the two tins of cereal and mix to coat well. Bake for 1 hour, making sure to stir the cereal every 15 minutes or so. Spread cereal onto GREASED waxed paper to separate and cool. Eat and enjoy your party in sweet-delish style!!

Chocolate-Mint Icebox Cake

Oh Martha.  You had me at "mint."  Or maybe it was "chocolate."  If not, it was definitely "cake."

from Everyday Food magazine

1 3/4 cups heavy cream, chilled
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon mint extract
1 package (9 ounces) chocolate wafers
1 cup miniature chocolate chips
Make the mint cream: With an electric mixer, beat heavy cream, sugar, and mint extract until stiff peaks form.

Line a serving platter with two sheets of wax paper side by side. Assemble the cake: Spread each wafer with about 1/2 tablespoon mint cream, forming stacks. Lay stacks horizontally along seam of paper, pressing gently to form a log. With small spatula or knife, cover log with remaining mint cream. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.

To serve, gently remove wax paper from underneath cake (holding cake in place with a metal spatula, if necessary), and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Slice cake diagonally with a serrated knife.


I love refreshing, fruity drinks anytime of the year, but especially during the summer.  This drink is tasty and simple to make;  I found grenadine in the aisle with sparkling water/club soda/"hard" drink mixes.

from Better Homes and Gardens magazine

3 c. ginger ale
4 Tbsp. grenadine
4 Tbsp. orange juice
3 scoops orange sherbet

Blend all ingredients together and serve over ice (I didn't bother with the ice).


One of the amazing things about NY is the regional cuisine.  I had never heard of spiedies (pronounced "speedy") before Amy and Sean (a central New Yorker) introduced them to me.  You can purchase a spiedie marinade locally, but I found this one to be much more flavorful.  Traditionally, they are served on soft rolls, but I like to use this soft wrap bread.  I also top with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, along with the mayonnaise mixture.

from Cook's Country magazine

1/2 c. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbl. finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 Tbl. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp.pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 Tbl. mayonnaise
1 Tbl. red wine vinegar
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 sub rolls (or hot dog rolls)

Combine oil, garlic, basil, oregano, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes in large bowl. Transfer 2 tablespoons oil mixture to separate bowl and whisk in mayonnaise, vinegar, and lemon juice; refrigerate.

Prick chicken breasts all over with fork, cut into 1¼-inch chunks, and transfer to bowl with remaining oil mixture. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.

Remove chicken from marinade and thread onto six 12-inch metal skewers. Grill chicken over hot fire, covered and turning frequently, until lightly charred and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to sub rolls or bread, remove skewers, and drizzle with mayonnaise mixture. Serve.

Soft Wrap Bread

Love this bread with cold cuts, chicken and egg salad, grilled meats and veggies (Italian sausage with peppers and onions is amazing!), and especially these.

Recipe courtesy of King Arthur Flour
3 c. flour
1 1/4 c. boiling water
1/4 c. potato flour OR 1/2 c. potato buds or flakes
1 1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. vegetable oil
1 tsp. instant yeast

Place 2 cups of the flour into a bowl or the bucket of a bread machine. Pour the boiling water over the flour, and stir till smooth. Cover the bowl or bucket and set the mixture aside for 30 minutes.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the potato flour (or flakes or buds) and the remaining 1 cup of flour with the salt, oil and yeast. 
Add this to the cooled flour/water mixture, stir, then knead for several minutes (by hand, mixer or bread machine) to form a soft dough. Note: You can allow the dough to go through the entire kneading cycle(s) in the bread machine, but it's not necessary; about a 5-minute knead in the machine, once it gets up to full kneading speed, is fine. The dough should form a ball, but will remain somewhat sticky. Add additional flour only if necessary; if kneading by hand, keep your hands and work surface lightly oiled. 
Let the dough rise, covered, for 1 hour.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces (each about the size of a handball, around 3 ounces), cover, and let rest for 15 to 30 minutes. 
Roll each piece into a 7"- to 8"-circle, and dry-fry them (fry without oil) over medium heat for about 1 minute per side, until they're puffed and flecked with brown spots (I did three at a time on my electric griddle). Adjust the heat if they seem to be cooking either too quickly, or too slowly; cooking too quickly means they may be raw in the center, while too slowly will dry them out.
Transfer the cooked breads to a wire rack, stacking them to keep them soft. Serve immediately, or cool slightly before storing in a plastic bag.

Berry Rhubarb Pie

Sean requested a berry rhubarb pie for dessert for Father's Day this year. I was excited when I found this award winning recipe on allrecipes.com!

I omitted the pie crust part of the recipe and used Melissa D'Arabian's pie crust instead.

1 cup fresh blackberries (I think I ended up with closer to two cups of frozen blackberries
1 cup raspberries
2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I ended up using 1/3 cup of flour because of the increased fruit)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon lemon juice ( I omitted this, as I felt that the rhubarb was tart enough)
1 1/2 tablespoons half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons white sugar

To Make Filling: In a medium bowl, combine blackberries, raspberries, and rhubarb. In a separate bowl, mix together 3/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup flour. Sprinkle over fruit mixture and stir gently. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.
Mix 1 tablespoon melted butter and lemon juice into fruit filling, then spoon into pastry-lined pie pan. Roll out top crust and place over filling. Crimp edges and cut steam vents in top. Brush lightly with half and half and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes, until crust is golden brown

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Dipped Banana Pops

Chocolate.  Peanut Butter.  Bananas.  Are you kidding me? 

taken from Simple Bites.

3 bananas
1 c. chocolate chips
2 Tbl. peanut butter
chopped peanuts (optional)
wooden popsicle sticks (this makes it easier to dip, but you can get by without them)
parchment or waxed paper

Peel bananas and cut into three pieces.  Insert popsicle sticks (if using) and place on a parchment lined pan in the freezer.  Combine chocolate chips and peanut butter in microwave-safe dish and microwave on medium power for a minute or two.  Stir until smooth.

Pour melted chocolate into a tall, narrow glass or container.  Remove bananas from freezer and dip, one by one, into the chocolate, coating the banana.  Place on tray and sprinkle with nuts (if using).  Return to freezer until solid, usually about 30-60 minutes.  Remove from freezer a few minutes before serving.

Salt Potatoes

These are a great addition to any summer meal, or you can dress them up a bit (sour cream, handful of cheddar, a sprinkling of bacon) and serve with a green salad.  Here in NY, you can buy a bag of "salt potatoes,' but I figured I'd post the recipe for those of you who aren't quite as lucky!

from the June issue of Food Network magazine, but seriously, it's not brain surgery.

4 lbs. small potatoes, such as baby Yukon Gold
2 1/4 c. kosher salt (I know this seems like a crazy amount, but trust me)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Put the potatoes, 8 cups of water and salt in a large pot.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until fork-tender, about 30 minutes.  Drain the potatoes in a colander and let dry, allowing some of the salt to crystallize.  Return to pot and pour butter over the top, stirring to coat each of the potatoes,

Strawberry Lemonade

If my husband could choose one drink to have for an entire month, it would be lemonade.  If he could choose one drink for the rest of his life, it would be strawberry lemonade.  I think I'm going to switch it up a bit and try lime juice next time!

2 c. strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
2 tsp. sugar
3/4 c. sugar (more or less according to taste)
1 c. lemon juice (sometimes I add a bit more to prevent it from getting diluted when I serve it over ice)
5 c. water  (1 1/2 c. hot water, 3 1/2 c. cold)

Combine strawberries and 2 tsp. sugar in a blender or food processor until desired consistency (I like to leave it a bit chunky).  Mix remaining sugar with 1 1/2 c. hot water until dissolved;  add lemon juice and remaining water.  Stir in strawberries.  Chill and enjoy.

Chocolate Milk Ice Cream

This is really easy. It doesn’t freeze really solid in the ice cream freezer but you can always ripen it afterwards in your refrigerator’s freezer if you like it more firm.

1/2 gallon chocolate milk

1 can sweetened condensed milk

8-ounce carton Cool Whip (or other non-dairy whipped topping)

Mix all together and add to an ice cram freezer. If you have a large freezer, milk may be added up to the fill line if desired (I would use cream  or half and half instead of milk). Follow manufacturer's directions for freezing.

Chicken Turnovers

These are tasty fresh out of the oven or at room temperature.  

2 c. chicken, cooked and shredded
1/2 medium onion, diced
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 tubes of crescent rolls
1 can cream of chicken soup (or use this awesome recipe, omitting the chicken)
1/4 c. milk (omit if using the chicken gravy recipe)
1/4 c. cheddar, shredded

Combine chicken, onion, cream cheese, and pepper.  Unroll crescent dough and place a heaping tablespoon on each triangle,  Roll up dough from the widest side and place on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Combine soup, milk, and cheddar in a saucepan and heat through.  Serve over finished turnovers.

Caprese-Style Stuffed Chicken Rolls

Another Rachel Ray recipe.  I'm not a huge fan, but the recipes I've made over the past few weeks have been very well-received in my house!

4 chicken cutlets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup basil leaves
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)
2 tomatoes, cored and thinly sliced (I used a can of petite diced tomatoes)

Preheat a grill to medium. On a work surface, arrange the chicken cutlets in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Divide the basil among the cutlets in an even layer, then top each with some of the mozzarella and tomatoes. Roll up the cutlets and secure with toothpicks; brush the rolls with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the chicken rolls on the cooking grate, cover and grill, turning occasionally, until deep golden-brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes; transfer to a work surface. Let stand for 5 minutes, then remove the toothpicks and thinly slice crosswise.

BLT Salad

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 head romaine lettuce, cut into strips (6 cups)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 c. seasoned croutons
4 scallions, sliced
4 to 6 tablespoons Creamy Parmesan Dressing or bottled Caesar dressing

 In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  Serve immediately.

3 Great Dressings

In an attempt to make more things from scratch, I've been experimenting with some salad dressing recipes.  These three from Real Simple magazine are currently on rotation at my house.  Each keeps for about a week in the refrigerator.

Creamy Parmesan Dressing

1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
1/4 c. sour cream
2 Tbl. white wine vinegar (I just used regular white vinegar)
kosher salt and black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, Parmesan, sour cream, vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Balsamic-Dijon Vinaigrette

1/3 c. olive oil
3 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
kosher salt and black pepper

In a small bowl or jar, whisk or shake together the oil, vinegar, mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Lemon and Shallot Vinaigrette

1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. honey
1 shallot, finely chopped
kosher salt and black pepper

In a small bowl or jar, whisk or shake together the oil, lemon juice, honey, shallot, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.


Make.  Eat.  Enjoy.  This is sometimes called "leftover salad" because you can add pretty much anything to it.  Sometimes I'll add hard-boiled eggs, chunks of mozzarella, tuna, pepperoni, salami or garbanzo beans, depending on if  it is going to be a side or main dish.  Measurements are up to you -- whatever looks good!

Tomatoes, cut into chunks (or use grape or cherry tomatoes cut in half)
Red onion, thinly sliced
Bell pepper, thinly sliced
Cucumber, seeded and quartered
Fresh parsley, chopped
Salad dressing, approximately 1/2 c. (go with vinegar/oil-based dressing -- I love Newman's Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette)
6 c. cubed Italian bread, toasted

Combine tomatoes, onion, and dressing, and allow to sit for 20 minutes.  Add peppers, cucumber, and parsley and let stand for another 15 minutes.  Just before serving, add bread cubes and toss to blend.

Grilled Strawberry Cheesecake Towers

I am sorry in advance if you are tempted to make this. :)

from Every Day with Rachael Ray (they seriously knocked it out of the park with this issue!)

1 lb. strawberries, hulled
Two 12-ounce pound cakes, cut into twelve 1/2-inch slices
4 Tbl. butter, melted
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature (I used low-fat or American Neufchatel cheese)
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup strawberry jelly, melted (microwave for about 15 seconds)

Preheat a grill to high. Thread the strawberries onto skewers and place on the grill. Cook, turning frequently, until lightly charred, 5 to 7 minutes; transfer to a bowl (I cheated and just placed them in a foil pan on the grill for a bit longer -- they didn't char, but were still great). Lower the heat to medium. Brush the pound cake slices on both sides with the melted butter. Grill, turning once, until toasted and grill marks appear, about 8 minutes.

Coarsely chop the strawberries. In a medium bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese with the sugar until smooth. Beat in the heavy cream until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Stir in three-quarters of the chopped strawberries.

Brush the cake slices with the jelly, then spread each with 3 tablespoons of the strawberry cream. Stack them in twos, cream side up, to make 6 double-decker stacks. Dollop each with the remaining strawberry cream and chopped strawberries.

Grilled Fruit Sundaes

This time of year, I am all about the grill, and while s'mores are an oh-so-delicious and reliable treat, I love to take advantage of the bounty of fresh fruit that is available!

 from Every Day with Rachael Ray

3 peaches, nectarines or plums, cut into 8 wedges each
6 Tbl. sugar
1 pinch salt
6 waffle cups (pizzelle cookies are a terrific substitute, just serve them on the side)
French Vanilla ice cream

In a bowl, toss the fruit with the sugar; let sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cover the grates of a grill with foil and preheat to high. Arrange the fruit, skin side down, on the foil, close the grill lid and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the wedges to one of the cut sides, cover and cook for 2 minutes more. Flip the fruit to the other cut side and cook, covered, for another 1 or 2 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop. Add the fruit and any juice to a bowl and stir in the salt; let stand for 5 minutes.  Fill each waffle cup with ice cream and top with the fruit and its juices. Serve immediately.

Double-Decker Stuffed Portobello Sandwiches

Now, I could never in a million, trillion years get my best guy to eat these, but boy HOWDY are they yumm-o!

from Every Day with Rachael Ray

6 potato rolls
12 portobello mushroom caps, stems discarded
1 red onion, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices (I  made mine a bit thinner)
1/4 c. olive oil
Salt and pepper
8 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (next time I am going to try it with Boursin)

Preheat grill (or grill pan) to high.  Grill the rolls until lightly toasted.  Brush mushroom caps and onion with the olive oil;  season with salt and pepper.  Place on the grill, cover and cook, turning once, for 8 minutes.  Transfer onion to a plate.  Divide the blue cheese among 6 of the mushroom caps, stem side up, and top each with a remaining mushroom, stem side down.  Cover and grill until the cheese "melts," about 1 minute.  Place a mushroom stack on each of the roll bottoms and top with the onion and roll tops (I found it a bit easier to top the cheese with the onion and then the second mushroom).

Grilled Romaine with Blue Cheese-Bacon Vinaigrette

A Guy Fieri recipe.   Served with garlic bread this makes an awesome summer meal!

4 Tbl. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 c. chopped red onion
1/2 lb. bacon, chopped
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 heads romaine lettuce, cut in 1/2 lengthwise
1/2 c. crumbled blue cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the grill to high heat (or use the coals left after cooking).

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a saute pan over high heat. Add the onions and bacon and cook until the bacon is crispy. To the same pan add the balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.

Brush the romaine lettuce with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, place on the grill cut side down, and quickly sear.  Serve the lettuce, cut side up, and drizzle the balsamic dressing over the lettuce. Sprinkle with blue cheese and garnish with cracked black pepper.

Bacony Barley Salad

Do yourself a favor and make this today.

3 strips bacon, chopped
1 1/3 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. barley
1 lb. peeled. cooked shrimp, tails removed, coarsely chopped
1/3 c. lime juice
2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. finely diced red onion
1/2 c. chopped fresh soap leaves, I mean cilantro
2 Tbl. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 avocado, peeled and diced

Cook bacon in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until crispy, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towel; discard fat.
Add water and salt to the pan and bring to a boil. Add barley and return to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 35 minutes.
Combine shrimp and lime juice in a large bowl. Add the cooked barley; toss to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the barley to absorb some of the lime juice. Add tomatoes, onion, cilantro and the bacon; toss to coat. Add oil and pepper and toss again. Stir in avocado and serve.

Ding Dong/ Twinkie Filling

5 TBSP flour
5 TBSP sugar
1 cup milk

Cook over medium heat until thick, let cool in fridge

Combine and beat for 6 min;
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Add cooled milk mixture and beat for 5 more minutes

Grilled Island Chicken

I found the recipe here and it is definitely one of the best marinades I've tried;  I think the lime juice/steak combo would make for great fajitas!

2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (I think I might try lime juice next time!)
3 Tbl. soy sauce
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
8 chicken breasts/pork chops or 1 pork tenderloin or a flank/skirt steak

Combine all ingredients except chicken in a mixing bowl or large airtight plastic bag. Whisk or shake well until the marinade is well mixed. Add the chicken breasts to the bowl or plastic bag so that they are covered by the marinade. Cover and refrigerate up to 10 hours (I would suggest marinating for at least 3 hours).

Simple Orzo Pilaf

I found this recipe here, but made a number of changes based on her results.  It was delicious, and the perfect accompaniment to her Grilled Island Chicken!

4 1/2 c. low sodium chicken broth (I used chicken base -- more flavorful and no need to add extra salt)
12 oz. orzo/rosa marina pasta
4 green onions, sliced (I didn't use the white parts)
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan if you prefer)
¼ teaspoons black pepper
salt to taste

In a large saucepan, bring 3 1/2 cups of the broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the orzo and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the orzo and broth uncovered, stirring to prevent sticking on the bottom of the pot, about 8-10 minutes, until the orzo is tender. Add remaining broth, green onions, pepper, and salt --  remove from heat.  Let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occassionally. Top each serving with Romano cheese.

Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Found the recipe here and made a few modifications.  I think you could get really creative with your additions:  dried fruit, coconut, nuts, chocolate chips...there are tons of possibilities!  These tasted even better the next day!

4 c. dry oats (I used a combination of old-fashioned and quick
1 1/2 c. flour
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. oil (I used 1/2 c. applesauce and 1/4 c. oil)
4 eggs
1 1/2 c. raisins (I used dried cranberries)

Mix together all ingredients until just combined.
Press into a greased 13×9 casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into individual bars.


Here is another great receipe from Amy. These are so very good.

1lb canned white chicken breast chunks,
1 green and 1 red bell pepper chopped fine,
5 jalapenos minced,
1 can of corn and 1 can of black beans rinsed well,
1 small can of diced green chilies,
8 oz Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese,
2 T taco seasoning,
1 tsp cajun seasoning,
1/4 cup salsa verde,
sea salt,
3T+ of chopped fresh cilantro,
lime juice,
2 packages of 25 each eggroll wrappers,
1T cornstarch,
1/3 cup water,
( I sometimes add some "Weber Kickin Chicken")
makes up to 50 tacquitos!

Amy's Lasagna Perogies

My sweet friend Amy, (no, I am not talking in 3rd person), recently entered her very cool recipe in to the Paula Deen Philadelphia contest. She is a rockin' chef! She gave me permission to share it.
You can also watch the step by step instructions!

These are DE-licious little lasagna perogis! It's like having a bite sized lasagna that you can eat without the mess. They look fancy and fantastic on the plate too! Just a few simple ingredients that don't even require a mixer. I sure hope you try these out and cook up a little fun in your kitchen! Prep time: 35 minutes |Cook time: 5 minutes |Total time: 40 minutes |Servings: 45
•1 large egg yolk
•1 egg white
•1 cup(s) of whole milk
•3 1/4 cup(s) of all purpose flour
•4 cup(s) of herb pesto
•1/2 cup(s) of cottage cheese
•15 ounce(s) of ricotta cheese
•1 beaten egg
•15 grape tomatoes sliced into thirds
•8 ounce(s) of Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese
•1/2 cup(s) of water
•3 tbsp. of parmesean cheese
•3 tsp. of italian seasoning
•2 tbsp. of butter
1.To make the perogi wrappers, first seperate your egg yolk from your egg white and save both in separate bowls
2.Add egg yolk and water to milk and beat with a fork
3.Add all the flour to a large bowl and make a well in the center
4.Add 1/3 the milk mixture to the well and fold the flour slowly over the top of well and blend it together using your fingers like a rake
5.Create another well and add the milk mixture and blend and repeat until the milk is gone. Keep kneading the dough forms a nice ball and is smooth. If it is sticky add flour only 1tsp at a time on a floured surface
6.When the dough is elasticy and smooth transfer it to a clean ungreased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes
7.While the dough is chilling mix your cheese fillling. Add the ricotta, cottage cheese, pesto, and beaten egg together and mix.
8.Next, divide your dough into three equal balls. Roll out one ball at a time on a well foured surface to 1/16 inch thickness.
9.Using a large circle cookie or biscuit cutter cut out as many circles as you can.
10.Add a spoonful of Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese to half of the circle leaving the edges free
11.Add a spoonful of your cheese mixture and top with tomatoe slices
12.Swipe the edges with the egg white and fold one half over so the sides meet and crimp the edges to seal
13.Bring a large pot of water to boil ( at least 4qt) lightly salted and add perogis
14.Heat deep fryer until hot and add perogis as an alternative
15.Cook until perogi has popped to the surface whether deep frying or boiling
16.If boiling, remove perogi when done and finish off with a light sautee in butter in a medium heated skillet on stove
17.Sprinkle with parmesean cheese and italian seasoning and serve with spaghetti or marinara sauce

Black bean, Corn, and Quinoa Salad

Found this delicious recipe here, and made a few modifications.  Seriously yummy, light, and filling.  This was the first time I've ever used quinoa, and it was delicious!  I found it in the "hippie section" (as my daughter would call it) of the grocery store -- a.k.a the organic/natural foods section.

1 Tbl. oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (I think I'll eliminate this next time, I wasn't crazy about the bit of heat it added)
Salt and pepper
1 c. frozen sweet white corn (yellow works too, obviously :)
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed (I thought one can was plenty)
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped (I HATE cilantro, so I left it this out)

Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir in onions and garlic and saute until lightly browned.

Add quinoa and cover with broth. Stir in cumin, cayenne pepper and season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes (or until all the liquid is absorbed).

Stir in frozen corn and black beans until heated through. Remove from heat and add chopped cilantro. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.  I tried it all three ways and thought it was most delicious at room temperature.

Almond Butter Cups

I decided to try a little twist on Grandma Tomazin's Peanut Butter Cups.
My dad has switched over to Almond Butter and I was inspired to try it out in this recipe. I switched the peanut butter out and added the same amount of almond butter. I also ended up adding between 1/2 to 1 tsp of salt to the filling.
These were very rich, but oh, so very fantastic.

Manti BBQ Chicken

I don't know why this is called Manti Chicken, but it tastes really good!
Start off making your marinade;

3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 can or 12 ounces 7 up or lemon lime soda

Marinate 7-8 breasts of chicken overnight or a minimum of 6 hours.

Cook on the grill or broil until chicken is cooked through.
This is so very yummy!

Chocolate Pound Cake

This is delicious. I remember my mom making it for Easter several times growing up and I have continued the tradition on several occasions. It’s really good pretty much any time though. Don’t forget an ice cold glass of milk to go with it.

1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together the butter and shortening. Add sugar and eggs. Sift dry ingredients together and add vanilla. Add alternately with milk to creamed mixture. Bake in a 10-inch tube pan at 325 degrees for about 80 minutes.

Golden Toast

Every year for Easter, since my mother was young, she has been eating "Golden Toast". Golden Toast was the invention that came from my grandpa getting tired of the kids coloring 3 dozen eggs for Easter and then eventually throwing 2 dozen eggs away. It is basically a cheese sauce with eggs over toast, a fun and tasty tradition!

You start off with about a dozen hard boiled eggs. (They are a lot of fun if they are colored because sometimes the whites end up being fun colors.)
Peel the boiled eggs and separate the whites from the yolks.
Cut up the whites in to bite sized pieces and set aside.
Using a fork or a food processor, turn the yolks in to a crumbled consistency. Set aside.

You will now need to make a basic, medium consistency, white sauce.
Melt about 4 TBSP of butter in a medium sized saucepan.
Add about 1/4 cup of flour to melted butter and 1 tsp of mustard and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
Slowly whisk in about 2 cups of milk. Stir over medium to medium- low heat until this has reached a medium thick consistency.
Add 1 to 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, depending on your preference. I like it CHEESY!
Stir in egg white pieces.
Once everything is thoroughly heated, ladle over a piece of toast. Top with a TBSP or two of crumbled egg yolk. Enjoy.

(This makes enough for my family of 6 to each have two to three pieces of toast.)

Oatmeal Wheat Bread

Makes two loaves. 

2 cups milk
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup warm water (105-115°F)
2 Tbsp. yeast
1/3 cup honey
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter
5 cups white whole-wheat flour (I use 3 c. white flour, 2 c. whole wheat flour)
1 Tbl. salt

Heat milk in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan over low heat until hot but not boiling, then remove pan from heat and stir in butter, honey, and oats.  Let stand, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cooled to warm.  Combine remaining ingredients and knead 5-7 minutes.* Form dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl loosely with a damp kitchen towel; let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Lightly butter loaf pans. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times to remove air. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a loaf, then place 1 loaf in each buttered pan, seam side down, tucking ends gently to fit. Cover loaf pans loosely with a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Bake until bread is golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove bread from pans and transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

*I use instant yeast that does not need to be proofed (it just gets added with the dry ingredients).  If you are using regular active yeast, stir together water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon honey in a small bowl; let stand until foamy, 5 minutes or so, and then combine with milk mixture and then the remaining ingredients.

Thelda’s Cherry Cheesecake

Theldas cheescake I got this recipe from my mother-in-law who got it from her mother who got it from one of her friends named Thelda. That’s all I really know about the origins. I do know however, that this is one of my husband’s all time favorite desserts. The only thing that would make it better would be if we had home bottled cherries to put on top.

 2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Cream butter; add sugar, flour and nuts, if desired. Combine well. Spread loosely on a cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Crumble with a fork often while baking (I usually do it every 5 minutes). Remove from oven and cool slightly. Line a 9x13 baking dish with 2/3 of the crumbs.


8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
4 cups cool whip or 1 pint whipped cream
1 teaspoon vanilla.
Mix all together until well combined. Spread over crumbs in baking dish. Top with 2 cans thickened pie cherries (cherry pie filling). Sprinkle remaining crumbs over the top. Chill well.

*This dessert can also be made using 2 cups fresh strawberries and 1 package of Danish Dessert in lieu of the cherries.

Salisbury Steak

Salisbury Steak I was wanting something warm and savory for dinner and with several pounds of hamburger in my fridge this seemed like a good option.

1 lb ground beef
1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
1 large egg
1  packet dry onion soup mix
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Mix all together and form into 6 hamburger patties. Fry in a large skilled in 2 tablespoons of oil (I used canola) over medium high heat (350 degrees), three minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.

Make gravy:
1/2  to 1 large onion, thinly sliced
8 ounces sliced fresh baby Portobello mushrooms (can use white mushrooms if preferred)
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pinch cayenne pepper (to taste, optional)
1 can beef consomm√© OR 1 can Campbell’s beefy mushroom condensed soup
1 soup can full of water (you can use 2 cups beef broth instead if you don’t have the consomm√© or beefy mushroom)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Black pepper to taste

Add sliced onion and mushrooms to drippings in the skillet. Stir well making sure to scrape brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, (or until onion is soft and transparent) stirring occasionally. Stir in the flour and cook for two minutes more stirring until flour is well combined. Add the consommé and water stirring until thickened and bubbly. Turn heat down to simmer. Return hamburger patties to pan and cook uncovered for 25 minutes over low heat. Flip patties once halfway through cooking. Serve with Velvet Mashed Potatoes for a great comfort food meal.

*This is a slightly modified version of this recipe.

Velvet Mashed Potatoes

These mashed potatoes are so creamy. I made them to have with our Salisbury Steak tonight and the family could not get enough. They are pretty fattening so I don’t do it this way all the time but they are seriously delicious. We even discussed whether we wanted to just eat more potatoes instead of having dessert.

7 or 8 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
3 ounces cream cheese, cubed and softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) real butter, cut into small chunks for quicker melting
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons half and half
a little more milk to reach desired consistency

Put potatoes into a large pot and add cold water until they are just covered. Add a little salt to the water if desired. Bring to a boil and cook the potatoes for about 20 minutes or until done. Drain. Add cream cheese, butter, salt and half and half and stir gently until butter and cream cheese are kind of melty. At this point I usually use my electric beaters to mash the potatoes the rest of the way but if you are not careful the potatoes can become gluey.  The best way to mash them is with a potato ricer or potato masher (I do not own one yet, but I hope to someday own one). Serve while hot. These are wonderful even without gravy.

Green Chili Burros

This recipe was created by my Grandpa George. It is a special meal at our house. Whenever I taste it I can see Grandpa standing in his kitchen, smiling.
The problem with my Grandpa's recipes is that he never measured anything. He taught my mom to cook that way, and that is how I was taught. This recipe is too good not to share, so I will do my best.

2 1/2 lb beef roast
1 cup of water
1 medium sized onion- diced
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 to 2 TBSP cumin
1/2 -1 TBSP chili powder
3 - 7 ounce or 4 -4 ounce cans of chopped green chilies
salt to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
2 tsp of corn starch
around 10 large flour tortillas
grated cheddar cheese
shredded lettuce
diced tomato
sour cream

In a crock pot place your roast,(you do not need to brown the roast first), water, diced onion, garlic, cumin, and 2/3 of your green chilies. (2 - 7 ounce cans, or 3 - 4 ounce cans)
Cook that on high for about 6 to 7 hours, or until the meat easily shreds.
Shred your beef. Stir in the last can of green chilies. Add your salt to taste, red pepper flakes, and any additional chili powder, or cumin you feel it needs. Stir in the corn starch and incorporate it evenly.

Place about 1/2 cup of your meat mixture across the middle of one flour tortilla and roll the tortilla up. Top with cheddar cheese and microwave for 30 seconds, letting it melt. Top that with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sour cream, and salsa, if desired.
I serve this with Mexican rice, and homemade beans.

I usually split this recipe in to 2. I freeze the leftover meat and use at a later date to make chimichangas. Another yummy dinner!

Speaking of Guacamole

Here is an easy, fresh tasting guacamole that my kids inhale.

1 avocado- peeled, pitted, and mashed with a fork
1 to 2 TBSP of sour cream
1/2 to 1 TBSP of chopped fresh cilantro, or in a pinch, 1 tsp of dried cilantro
Juice from half of a lime
salt to taste

Mix that all up, let it sit for a minute, and gobble it up. It never actually makes it in to my recipes because it doesn't last that long at my house. It's a treat here!

Tortilla Black Bean Pie

I originally got this recipe from my sister who saw it in an issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine. It's simple and has fed our family on occasion when there wasn't too much in the cupboard. It's also a great vegetarian dish.
  • 4 (10-inch) flour tortillas (I have used smaller and just overlapped them to fit the pan)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn (I often use canned)
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 2 1/2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese (I usually use sharp but that's just me)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim tortillas to fit a 9-inch springform pan, using the bottom of the pan as a guide. Set aside.
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and cumin; Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add beans and water to skillet, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in corn and green onions, and remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Fit a trimmed tortilla in bottom of springform pan; layer with 1/4 of the beans and 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat three times, using 1 cup cheese on top layer. Bake until hot and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Unmold pie; sprinkle with additional green onions. To serve, slice into wedges. 

We often eat ours with sour cream and salsa. Esmiley had left a  comment on the original post that she has a guacamole and salsa variation. Sounds fantastic! 
(Recipe and photo taken from marthastewart.com with minor modifications)