Caramel Pecan Turtle Bars

This recipe was actually found among the coupons in our Sunday paper. Oh goodness, are they ever fantastic.

Prep time 25 minutes Bake time 22-26 minutes Chill time 2 hours
Makes 32 bars

Crust ingredients
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
4 TBSP Corn starch
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup pecans, finely chopped

Filling Ingredients
14 ounces of caramels, unwrapped
4 TBSP butter or margarine
4 TBSP heavy cream
4 TBSP light or dark corn syrup
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Line an 9x13 inch pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; let foil overhang edge of pan by 2 inches.
Blend flour, brown sugar, and corn starch in a large bowl. Cut in butter with two forks or pastry blender until crumbly.
Stir in pecans. Press into prepared pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 11 to 13 minutes or until crust in lightly browned.
Remove from oven.

Heat unwrapped caramels , butter, cream and corn syrup in a large microwave safe bowl on high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture is smooth. Carefully spread over baked crust. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until caramel is just starting to bubble. Remove from oven.

Sprinkle bars with chocolate chips and let rest for 5 minutes until chocolate is melted. Carefully spread chocolate over the caramel using the back of a spoon for a swirl effect, leaving portions of caramel exposed.

Refrigerate for 2 hours or until chocolate is set. Remove by lifting opposite ends of foil. Place on cutting board and peel away before cutting.

Peppermint Bark Shortbread Bars

I have already made 4 batches of this during this year's holiday season. It comes together so very quickly, not much by way of ingredients, and people gobble them up! Land 'o' lakes butter company put out this recipe;

2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of softened butter
1/3 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp of peppermint extract

12 ounces of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
About 1/3 cup of coursely chopped candy canes

Heat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, extending foil over edges; set aside.

Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips and candies in large bowl. Beat at low speed until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 19 to 21 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. DO NOT OVERBAKE.
Immediately sprinkle crust evenly with chocolate chips; return pan to oven for 1 minute to melt chocolate. Spread chocolate evenly over crust; immediately sprinkle with chopped peppermint candies. Cool completely.
Remove bars from pan using foil ends. Cut bars into 28 squares; cut each square in half diagonally. Makes 56 cookies!

Colonial Apple Cider Cake

I was asked to make this for Joel's class for the Colonial Week Celebration that the fifth grade has every year. It was amazing. I had trouble getting it out of the pans. I think maybe the apples kind of caramelize in the baking and make it stickier. Just generously grease and flour your pans and allow adequate time for cooling and you shouldn't have the same issues that I did.

4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I used golden delicious)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 pound butter, melted (2 sticks)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups flour
1 cup chopped pecans

1⁄2 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons apple jelly
2 teaspoons cinnamon (I reduced this and only used 1 teaspoon. Two seemed like too much to me.)
powdered sugar, for dusting
Place apples in large bowl. Pour sugar over apples and let stand for 10 minutes to extract
moisture from the apples. Add eggs and butter; scrape bowl. Add all but glaze
ingredients; mix well. Pour batter into greased and floured bundt pan or two 9-inch
cake pans. Bake at 350°F for 60 to 75 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes
out clean. Allow cake to cool. 
Dissolve the apple jelly with the cider by warming them together. Mix in one teaspoon cinnamon. Brush this mixture over cake with a pastry brush. Continue brushing until all the glaze is gone. Dust liberally with powdered sugar.

Easy Pumpkin Pancakes

These were lovely on a rainy fall morning! They are a slightly altered version of a recipe found on

2 1/2 cups of pancake mix. (I used a wheat mix.)
3 TBSP Brown Sugar
2 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 egg
1 3/4 cup milk
2 TBSP Vegetable Oil ( I subbed about 1/2 cup applesauce)
2 TBSP Vinegar
1 cup Pumpkin Puree

I used a 1/4 cup to scoop up the batter onto my griddle. I made 18 pancakes with this recipe.
My kids ate them with a little bit of syrup. I thought they were fantastic on their own.

Best Oven Fries Ever

Okay, are you ready? These are seriously the best oven fries I have ever had. They are crispy-crunchy on the outside and fluffy baked potato inside. The ingredients aren't anything special; it's all in the method. Maybe you all knew this already, but I did not. My oven fries up until this point have been okay--kind of soggy really. Nothing to write home about. But tonight my life was changed (at least in the realm of oven fries).

3 large russet potatoes with peels,scrubbed
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided (you could use canola, peanut or whatever but I personally love olive oil)
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Scrub your potatoes and cut each potato into 8 wedges. Rinse them off and set aside in a large bowl of hot water for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oven to 475 degrees. 
  3. Spread 4 tablespoons of the oil on a large heavy baking sheet (like a jelly roll pan). 
  4. Sprinkle the salt and pepper on the oil. Set aside. 
  5. Now drain your potatoes. Dry them well using paper towels or a kitchen towel. 
  6. Dry out the bowl they were in and put them back in along with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Toss to coat.
  7. Spread potato wedges in a single layer on your sheet pan. 
  8. Cover tightly with aluminum foil (this is important!). 
  9. Bake the potatoes in the preheated oven for 5 minutes and then remove the foil. 
  10. Continue baking for another 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until the bottoms of them are becoming golden brown. 
  11. Now remove the potatoes from the oven and using either tongs or a spatula flip them all over so the up sides are down. 
  12. Return to the oven and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes depending on desired doneness. 
  13. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper if desired. 

I doubled the recipe and my family of six took care of them without any problem.
These would also be awesome with fry sauce or ketchup.

*Recipe found on Pinterest and adapted from HERE.

Yummy Autumn Salad

Okay, so this isn't really a recipe as much as it is a list of ingredients.  Also, you may eat it at any time of the year.  Adapted from a not so yummy salad from Bruegger's.

Salad greens (I like a mix of baby spinach and field greens)
Apple, peeled and chopped
Pecans (toasting them makes them yummier)
Feta cheese
Cooked chicken breast
Balsamic vinaigrette (I love Newman's Own light balsamic)

Toss ingredients together and enjoy!

Grandma Lois' Pumpkin Cheesecake

This recipe is from my Grandma. I guess it was a tradition to make it for Thanksgiving. My Grandpa was in charge of the turkey and fixings, and she would handle dessert. Apparently, our family missed out, because my mom was too busy making the turkey and fixings herself!

This is not a dense cheesecake. The beaten egg whites make it light and fluffy.

1 1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers
3 TBSP sugar
3 TBSP butter

Press in to the bottom and two inches up the sides of a springform pan. Bake at 325 for 5 minutes.

Large bowl combine 2- 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup half and half or light cream
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cups of sugar
4 egg yolks
3 TBSP flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Beat until smooth.

Fold in 4 stiff beaten egg whites.

Put in prepared crust. Bake at 325 for 1 hour.

1 cup sour cream
2 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
blend, and spread over cheesecake and bake 5 more minutes

Chill thoroughly before serving.

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Another yummy Pinterest find.  While the directions call for it to be made in a slow cooker, I had no trouble adapting it to the stove top.  Perfect for a rainy autumn day!

4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used leftover rotisserie chicken, shredded)
1 package of Rice-a-Roni long grain and wild rice
1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
2 cups half and half (I used half milk and half half and half, low-fat :)
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery

Combine broth, water, carrots, celery, chicken and rice (along with seasoning packet) in a large slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Take out chicken and shred with two forks and then add back into slow cooker. In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, and flour. In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour mixture by tablespoon to form a roux. Whisk in cream, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Stir cream mixture into slow cooker and then let cook on low for 15 more minutes. 

Lasagna Soup

Wednesday nights are usually "Italian Night" at our house, but not feeling like the usual, I whipped this up after seeing it on Pinterest.  So delicious!

2 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 lbs. Italian sausage
3 c. chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 c. chicken stock
8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves (I used dried)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

8 oz. ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy. Stir in basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

To serve, place a dollop of the ricotta mixture in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

Cherry-Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

The best oatmeal cookies I have ever eaten.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 1/3 cups dried cherries (I chopped mine up a bit)

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a cookie sheet with parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars until creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, then the vanilla, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Stir in the oats, pecans and cherries.  Using a large cookie scoop (6 tbsp.), drop about 6 balls of dough 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheet. Bake until golden around the edges, about 15 minutes. Let sit on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool. Repeat for 2 more batches.

Jewel Roasted Vegetables

The last time I had Brussels sprouts was probably in 4th grade.  I'm pretty sure that my mom either steamed or boiled them, and I remember my brother getting in trouble when he tried to be sneaky and flush his serving down the toilet.  

Needless to say, mom didn't try serving them again.

I have become a big fan of roasting vegetables, and when I saw this recipe, thought that maybe I'd give the humble sprout another go.  And guess what?  They were fantastic.

I shared this revelation with my brother who is a professional chef and culinary arts instructor.  I got the equivalent of a shoulder shrug over the phone.

Apparently, he's been eating them this way for over a decade.

  • 4 medium beets
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds carrots
  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 8 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme leaves (I used Herbes de Provence)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Put the beets into a small baking dish and rub them with 1 tablespoon of oil. Cover the dish with foil and put into the oven for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, peel and cut the carrots into 1-inch pieces, trim the Brussels sprouts and halve them lengthwise, and peel the garlic cloves. Put the carrots, Brussels sprouts and garlic cloves into a large baking dish and toss with the remainder of the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
After the beets have been cooking for 30 minutes add the large pan of vegetables to the oven and cook everything for 1 hour more, stirring the vegetable mixture once or twice.
Remove the beets from the oven and transfer them to a cutting board to cool. Stir the thyme into the carrot and Brussels sprouts mixture and let it continue to cook for another 10 minutes while the beets are cooled and cut. When the beets are cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes, peel them and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Remove the other vegetables from the oven, toss with the beets, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

Key Lime Pie

Tart and tangy. Cool and creamy. I love Key Lime Pie. After recently paying about $5.50 for one slice at a restaurant I decided that was highway robbery and I there isn’t any reason why I shouldn’t make my own more often. It is so easy and so delicious. And it doesn’t even cost $5.50 to make an entire pie all your own.

5 egg yolks, beaten
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the egg yoks, sweetened condensed milk and lime juice. Mix well. Pour into unbaked graham cracker shell. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Top with freshly whipped cream and garnish with lime slices, if desired.

Easy Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

I am attracted to recipes with the word “easy” in the title, not because I don’t enjoy cooking, but sometimes life just calls for easy. I have had this one sitting in my recipe box for ages. You can make it as written or add your favorite flavorings. If you want to add fresh fruit, just reduce the half-and-half to one cup and add in 1 cup of pureed fruit of your choice—blueberries, peaches and cherries all sound good to me.

2 cups half-and-half
2 cups whipping cream
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well. Freeze in an ice cream maker by following the manufacturer’s directions. Before eating, allow ice cream to “ripen” in your refrigerator’s freezer, if desired. Freeze any leftovers.

Try it with this cake if you are feeling adventurous.

Dutch Oven Cherry Chocolate Surprise Cake

Summer is Dutch oven season at our house. In honor of my husband I am posting this recipe that he has made a couple of times with great results. Bon appétit!

1 chocolate cake mix; prepared as directed
1 (20 oz) can cherry pie filling
1 (8 oz) brick of cream cheese
1 egg
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Pour prepared cake batter into a greased 12 inch Dutch oven. Spoon cherry pie filling into clumps over cake batter. In a small mixing bowl cream together cream cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Drop by tablespoons over the top of the cake.
Place lid on oven. Bake using 8-10 briquettes bottom and 14-16 briquettes top for 1 hour or until top center of cake springs back when touched.
Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Bean Burritos

Feed your family a tasty and easy meal for cheap! It’s a win/win!


1 clove garlic

1 chopped onion

in 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Stir in:

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup sour cream

1/8 tsp cumin

salt and pepper

1 can green chilies, optional

Fill 4 to 8 flour tortillas with bean mixture. Place in a 9x13 baking dish. Cover with 3/4 cup salsa or 1/2 can enchilada sauce. Cover with grated cheese. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until heated through.

Salsa Fresca (Fresh Summer Salsa)

This is a delicious and refreshing way to use up some of those tomatoes you probably have starting to get ripe in your garden.

2 very large tomatoes

4 or 5 green onions

1 Tbsp of Anaheim green chili OR 2 dashes cayenne pepper (use gloves when handling hot peppers)

2-4 Tbsp fresh cilantro (more or less—you know me, I go with less.)

1/4 to 1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp minced garlic (like the kind in a jar) or 1 clove fresh garlic, minced

salt (to taste)

Finely chop the tomatoes, onions, chili and cilantro. Stir in the garlic and cumin. Season to taste with about one teaspoon of salt. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips or use as a condiment for tacos, taquitos or Amy’s Chicken Mexican Casserole. :)

*For a winter substitute, replace the tomatoes with whole canned tomatoes (whirled in a blender or food processor), the green onion with white onion and the chili with a small can of Ortega canned chiles. Puree equal amounts of tomato and chiles and add chopped onion and other spices to taste. This can be bottled for a longer shelf life if desired.

Italian Hoagies

This is one of those super easy crock pot meals that is great for a hot summer day. Of course it's nice for a cold winter day as well.

3 pounds chuck roast (I have used venison many times with great results)
2 packets dry Italian dressing mix
2 cups water

Put the meat, contents of seasoning packets and water in a crock pot and cook on low for eight hours. Shred the beef. I usually do this with two forks. Serve on toasted hoagie rolls (I spread mine with garlic butter before toasting) and top with Swiss cheese and any condiments that you wish. Mayonnaise, tomatoes and lettuce are my toppings of choice. Delicious with a side of cold watermelon.

Silky Peanut Butter Frosting

peanut butter frosting

Posted by request. I found this recipe from Ina Garten online and made it for Joel’s birthday cake. It is silky, velvety, satiny smooth and oh so peanut buttery. David made a dark chocolate cake that we frosted with this and It was a huge hit with our family. It is reminiscent of Amy’s Peanut Butter Mousse but I thought it was different enough to warrant its own post and it makes just enough to generously frost one two-layer cake.

1 cup confectioners' sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup heavy cream

With an electric mixer, mix together first five ingredients until creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the heavy cream and mix on high until light and smooth.

I went kind of easy on the filling between the two layers because I was unsure of how much frosting the cake would need but I could have added a more. No matter, what was left over was quickly devoured by my children so not a bit of it was wasted. This is going to be a new family favorite.

Lemonade JELL-O Ring

I was recently wondering why you just don’t see molded JELL-O salads as often as you did in the 80s. Whatever the reason, I think a JELL-O salad can be a nice addition to the menu. Summer is already on its way here in the South and this recipe sounds like a nice, refreshing accompaniment to a light summer meal. One note: I personally don’t own a JELL-O mold, but I used a Bundt cake pan recently to great effect.

1 (3 ounce) package lemon JELL-O

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup boiling water

1/2 to 1 (6 ounce) can undiluted frozen lemonade concentrate (depending on the level of tartness you want to achieve)

1/2 pint whipping cream, whipped until peaks form

Dissolve the lemon JELL-O, sugar and salt in one cup boiling water. Stir for at least three minutes to ensure that the gelatin is all the way dissolved. Stir in the frozen lemonade concentrate until well combined. Gently fold the whipped cream into the gelatin. Pour mixture into a ring mold or Bundt cake pan. Refrigerate until well set (probably about 4 hours, but maybe a bit longer.) To unmold the salad, dip the mold or pan into a sink full of hot water for 10 to 15 seconds (Not too long! You don’t want to melt the JELL-O).  Carefully invert onto a serving plate. Garnish with an array of fresh berries—strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc. (Serve with more sweetened whipped cream to help cut the tartness, if desired) Serve immediately or re-chill in the refrigerator until serving time.

I got this recipe from my mom. I haven’t actually tried it yet but it looks delicious. I’ll try it soon and let you know, but for now I’m posting the recipe here for safe keeping.

Classic Cream Scones

It’s Royal Wedding time (sorry Danielle). I’m not as into the whole thing as some people, but I have to say that it is an historic occasion and I think it’s a fun opportunity to celebrate a bit and maybe brew some herbal tea and make some tea sandwiches. And what would an English tea party be without scones? Here’s an easy recipe.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together:

2 cups flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

Cut in 1/2 cup unsalted butter—cut into 1/2” cubes and chilled—with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs

In a separate small bowl, mix:

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Stir liquid mixture into dry mixture just until blended. Turn onto a lightly floured board and pat or roll dough into a 1/2” thick disk. Using a biscuit cutter, cut dough into circles and place onto a lightly buttered cookie sheet (or use a Silpat mat). Brush unbaked scones with one egg whisked together with 1 teaspoon water, if desired. Bake for 13-15 minutes at 425 degrees or until golden brown.

1/2 cup currants may be added into the dough before cutting out and baking if desired.

Serve with Mock Devonshire Clotted Cream (recipe follows) and lemon curd or fruit preserves.

Mock Devonshire Clotted Cream

3 oz. cream cheese

1 teaspoon powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Mix all together in a food processor until quite thick. Will store well in a refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

Fudge Walnut Waffles

I have fond memories of having friends over for these delicious chocolate waffles on Sunday afternoons during my growing up years. This recipe comes from my Grandma Cassidy and my mother.

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 1/2 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup baking cocoa

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (I actually used pecans because I like them better. You could also just leave out the nuts if you prefer.)

Sift dry ingredients together into a large bowl leaving a hollow in the center. Pour milk in well, drop in unbeaten eggs and pour melted butter on top; stir from center out until mixture is smooth. Add nuts and vanilla. Spread on hot waffle iron, cooking at a lower temperature than with plain waffles*. Watch carefully. They burn easily because of all the sugar in them. Serve warm dusted with confectioner’s sugar and spread with whipped cream.

*We have a waffle iron that has only one setting. I just didn’t cook them as long—between 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per batch (two waffles). Make sure to spray your waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray even if it is Teflon coated so that the waffles don’t stick. I learned that the hard way on the first batch.

Other topping options:

  • vanilla ice cream
  • sliced bananas
  • cherry pie filling
  • any fresh fruit
  • marshmallow fluff
  • peanut butter
  • plain old traditional butter and maple syrup

Italian Cream Cake

A friend sent me this scratch recipe and asked me to make it for her birthday. It's a fantastic recipe, and I wanted to have it transferred from the hand written form I have it in now. Sean has requested this for his birthday cake twice now!

1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup oil
2 cups sugar
7 ounces of coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Combine the oil, butter, and sugar. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time. Dissolve the baking soda in to the buttermilk, allow it to sit for a few minutes and grow in size. Alternately add flour and buttermilk mixture in your mixer.
In a seperate bowl, beat the egg whites until they are frothy, not stiff. Fold egg whites in to batter with a spoon or spatula, (not mixer). Fold in 3/4 of the coconut and nuts.

Pour into 2 greased -9 inch pans and bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes, depending on your oven.
Prepare the icing.

After ten minutes out of the oven, allow your cake to cool, wrapped in cellophane for 5-8 hours before icing.

Cream Cheese Icing
1 stick or 1/2 cup of butter
8 ounces of cream cheese
1 lb of powdered sugar
milk to add for consistency

Mix these ingredients until smooth. The milk will need to be added if it is a dry day. You don't want your icing to be too stiff.

Ice cake and cover with remaining coconut and nuts.


Amy mentioned serving naan with the Honey Curry Chicken she posted yesterday.  After refusing to pay $3 for 2 pieces at the grocery store a few months ago, I came across this recipe and it is fantastic.  Eat it plain, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with garlic salt, or drizzle honey on it for a sweet treat!

1/2 cup warm water
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 large egg
melted butter or oil, for frying

In a large bowl, stir together the water, yeast and sugar and let stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.

Stir in the flour, salt, oil, yogurt and egg and stir, then knead until you have a soft, pliable dough. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to double in size (about 1 hour).

Divide the dough into 6-8 pieces and on a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece into a thin circle or oval.

Cook each naan in a nice hot skillet drizzled with oil (I use our griddle and brush it with melted butter -- that way I can make a few at a time) until blistered and cooked, flipping as necessary (when the surface has big blisters and is golden on the bottom, flip it over and cook until golden on the other side).

Honey Curry Chicken

My friend recently shared this recipe on facebook. Sean and I have a new-found addiction to Indian food, so I was excited to find a recipe that my kids would like. It's pretty mild as far as Indian food goes.

6 chicken thighs
4 chicken breasts ( I used all boneless breasts, but you have to be careful about the cooking time so that the chicken does not become dry.)
1 cup of honey
1/4 cup of dijon mustard
2 tsp of curry powder

Mix the last three ingredients to make your sauce. Put the chicken in a 9x13 and pour sauce over the top. over and bake at 375 for 45 minutes, turning the chicken over after 30 minutes.

I did make this in a crock pot on low heat, but again, you have to be very careful with the boneless chicken so it does not become dry.
For extra spice, add a TBSP from of a jar of curry paste. You can find all different varieties in the ethnic food section of your grocery store.
I served this over basmati rice with a side veggies and naan bread. MMMmmmm!

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Hands down the best oatmeal raisin cookie I have ever had -- chopping and soaking the raisins makes all the difference.

2 c. raisins, chopped
2 c. boiling water
1/2 c. shortening
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. old-fashioned oats
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. chopped walnuts

Place raisins in a small bowl.  Cover with boiling water;  let stand for 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream shortening, butter, and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs.  Combine the flour, oats, baking soda and salt;  gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.  Stir in walnuts and raisins.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets.  Flatten with a glass dipped lightly in flour.  Bake at 325 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until bottoms are browned.  Wait 5 minutes and remove to cooling racks. 

Golden Clam Chowder

I have a love-hate relationship with clam chowder.  I love the taste, but have a hard time finding one that is a good consistency -- thick and hearty, but not terribly pasty and heavy.  This recipe is a winner.

from Taste of Home magazine

2 celery ribs, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 tsp. butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cans (6 1/2 oz. each) minced clams, undrained
1 bottle (8 oz.) clam juice
1 c. plus 1 Tbsp. water, divided
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

In a Dutch oven, saute vegetables in butter until tender.  Add garlic;  cook 1 minute longer.  Stir in the potatoes, clams, clam juice, 1 c. water, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat;  cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Gradually stir in milk; heat through.  Combine cornstarch and remaining water until smooth;  stir into chowder.  Bring to a boil;  cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Stir in bacon and serve.

Cauliflower Gratin

Another recipe for when the standard sides get a bit boring.

from Everyday Food

1 large head of cauliflower
1 c. heavy cream (I use 3/4 c. low-fat milk)
1 Tbl. flour
1 c. grated Parmesan/Pecorino Romano
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1/2 c. breadcrumbs (I love using Panko breadcrumbs with this)

Preheat oven to 400.  In a large bowl, combine cauliflower, cored and cut into florets, cream or milk, flour, and 3/4 c of cheese.  Season with salt and pepper, tossing to combine.  Transfer mixture to a 2-quart baking dish , cover tightly with foil, and bake 30 minutes.  In a small bowl, combine 1/4 c. cheese and breadcrumbs.  Sprinkle over cauliflower.  Dot with 1 Tbl. butter, cut into small pieces, and bake, uncovered, until topping is golden brown and cauliflower is tender when pierced with a knife, 10 - 15 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

My family would probably choose broccoli for their vegetable at every meal, and while I can't complain about that, steaming it in the microwave does get a little old.  I adapted this from a Barefoot Contessa recipe and it is delicious!

A few bunches of fresh broccoli, washed and trimmed into florets
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper (freshly ground is best)
1-2 Tbl. lemon juice
1/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan (or...wait for it...Pecorino Romano, my personal favorite)

Heat oven to 425.  "Blanch" broccoli (I usually put it in a covered dish with a bit of water and microwave it for a couple of minutes -- you don't want it completely cooked) and then toss with a few tablespoons of olive oil, sliced garlic, salt, and pepper.  Place on a half-sheet pan or cookie sheet in a single layer and roast for 10-15 minutes, just until the tips start to brown.  Immediately toss with lemon juice and Parmesan and serve.

Lemon Twisted Cheesecake

yummy cheesecake I had a can of lemon pie filling sitting in my cupboard for-ev-er. I’ve been trying to use up stuff I have on hand so when I saw this recipe for cheesecake on the back of the can I thought “Bingo!” So, I made this for Valentine’s day. It was easy and delicious. It made two pies so we have another one to eat tonight.

2 graham cracker pie crusts (you can make your own but I often just buy the cheap store brand ones)


3 8oz packages cream cheese (I used Neufchatel), softened

1 cup sugar

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1 21oz can lemon cream pie filling (I used Lucky Leaf Lemon Creme)

1 tsp lemon extract (I left this out—you could also substitute lemon juice and lemon zest)

Cream together cream cheese and sugar. Slowly add eggs to creamed mixture while mixer is running. Mix for two minutes or until smooth. Add pie filling and extract and mix thoroughly. Pour into two graham cracker crusts and bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes. Cool completely and then chill. (Center will not set until cooled). Serve chilled with a spoonful of cherry pie filling and a dollop of sweetened whipped cream if desired. Fantastic!

Marsha’s Caramels

My mother-in-law is famous for these little confections. She was good enough to share the recipe with me and after losing it once I don’t want to chance it again so I am posting it here for safe keeping.
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
Combine all and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils (approximately 45 minutes). Turn down heat. Continue cooking until candy reaches soft ball stage (235° F–240° F if using a candy thermometer), pour into a well greased 9x13 pan. Cool, cut and wrap in waxed paper. Scrumptious!

Nicole’s Three Day, Triple Layer, $40 Chocolate Cake


Also known as “Three Layer Chocolate Cake with Blackout Filling” (slightly adapted from When we were in Utah for Christmas, my brother’s girlfriend, Nicole made this divine chocolate cake for the family. Nicole used Valrhona cocoa powder and baking chocolate anywhere the recipe called for it. Valrhona is a French chocolate specifically formulated for baking and can be purchased at Williams-Sonoma and many other baking specialty stores or online (google “buy Valrhona chocolate and you will get tons of sites). We figured the cost of the ingredients using the expensive chocolate is around $40 so we started calling it the $40 chocolate cake. It tastes like a million bucks though. In case you don’t have $40 to shell out for a cake (who does, really?) I’m sure it would still be fantastic with run of the mill chocolate and I plan to try it that way soon. Wouldn’t it be fantastic for Valentine’s Day?


  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder , sifted  
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 13 tablespoons (1 stick plus 5 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces 60% semisweet chocolate (Nicole used Valrhona)
  • 3 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Nicole used Valrhona)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 5 large eggs


  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter , softened
  • 3 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder , sifted (Nicole used Valrhona)
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water


To make filling: In a small saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, cocoa powder, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to prevent scorching. Meanwhile, in a separate small bowl, combine cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water. Remove boiling cocoa mixture from heat; whisk in cornstarch mixture.
Return saucepan to heat, and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil about 1 minute, until cornstarch is cooked and mixture is very thick.
Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into a shallow, heat-resistant bowl; immediately cover surface with plastic wrap to prevent film from forming. Cool completely, and refrigerate until firm, or overnight.
To make frosting: In a large glass bowl, combine butter and chocolates; heat in microwave (or on stovetop in a double boiler) until melted. Stir until thoroughly combined.
In a separate bowl, combine sugar and salt. In a medium saucepan, thoroughly whisk eggs; whisk in sugar mixture, combining thoroughly. Whisk in a scant 1/2 cup water, combining thoroughly; place over medium heat and bring to 160° on a candy thermometer, whisking constantly to prevent sticking, but creating as little foam as possible.
Strain mixture through fine sieve into heat-resistant container. Whisk into chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined. Cool completely, then refrigerate until stiff enough to spread, or overnight.
To make cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans with butter; line bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the paper.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar on medium speed, about 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine eggs and vanilla; add to brown sugar mixture in two batches, mixing on medium speed until incorporated. Scrape bowl thoroughly; beat 1 minute on high speed.
Sift together cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; add to brown sugar mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.
Sift flour. Add 1 cup to batter and beat on low speed until just combined. Add 3/4 cup sour cream to batter; beat on low speed until just combined. Alternate adding flour and sour cream to batter until there's none left. With mixer still running on low, slowly add hot water, beating until just combined.
Scrape bowl thoroughly; beat batter on low speed about 20 seconds. Scrape bowl thoroughly once more, then divide batter evenly among the three pans, about 3 cups per pan. Bake 30 to 33 minutes, or until cake pulls away from sides of pan. Remove from oven. Cool layers in pans about 30 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate up to one night before assembling.
To assemble, level cake layers by slicing off their tops. Place bottom layer on a serving platter cut side up. Spread 1/2 cup filling on top. Place middle layer cut side down on top of bottom layer. Spread remaining filling on top. Place top layer cut side down on top of middle layer. Spread top and sides of cake with frosting.

Using More Quinoa

I really like the nutritional value of Quinoa. My family has been uncertain about the texture or how it looks when it is cooked. I was able to get 4 lbs of it at Costco for $8 and I started sneaking it in to the recipes that we already eat. They all seem to be on board now and even prefer the texture to regular rice.

I prepare it with 2 cups of rice, 1 cup quinoa and five cups of liquid. I usually just use water, but adding a cup of broth makes it really yummy.

Follow the directions for cooking the rice.