Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Polka Dot Coffeecake

 Uses a biscuit mix as a base, without apology. An oldie and a goodie.


OVEN 350

grease a 9 x 9 square pan


1 1/2 cups Bisquick baking mix

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons room temperature butter

1 large egg

3/4 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

a 6 ounce bag of mini chocolate chips, divided in half

For the coffeecake: 

Combine the Bisquick, sugar, butter, egg and sour cream and vanilla and mix on medium low speed of a mixer for two minutes, making sure all ingredients are combined. Add HALF the mini chips and stir in by hand to evenly distribute. Spread the batter into a greased 9 x 9 pan, then make the streusel topping, below. 

Streusal Topping

3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into bits

3 tablespoons flour

large pinch of salt

3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup flaked coconut

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

remaining half of the mini chocolate chips

Combine all the streusal ingredients except the mini chips and the pecans and work with a pastry blender to combine until crumbly and well mixed. Stir in the mini chips and nuts by hand, incorporating well. Sprinkle streusal on top of the coffeecake batter.  

Bake the coffeecake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs. 

Allow to cool in pan, serve cut into squares. 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Grandma Tillie's Gingerbread

So simple, so easy. It's not fancy, but it is spicy delicious, great in the Fall and Winter.


  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • butter well a 9 x 9 baking pan

In a large bowl, whisk together:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (note: reduce this amount by half if you use salted butter in the next step)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking SODA
Set aside for now.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat:
1 stick unsalted butter (if you use salted butter, reduce the salt in the flour mixture above by half)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar

Beat at medium speed until pale and fluffy.

1 egg
Blend well.

Then, slowly add in:
1/2 cup molasses (I highly recommend Brer Rabbit Molasses -- nothing else is quite the same)
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
Mix until well blended.

Scrape the bowl down.

Add the flour mixture on low speed until smooth, then add:
1/2 cup hot water
Beat for 1 minute. (mixture may look curdled, but that's ok.) 

Scrape the bowl and mix a little longer if there are unincorporated bits.

Spread in the well buttered 9 x 9 pan, then bake for 40 - 45 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack.

Cover tightly with foil when cool. Cut into large squares and serve with a dollop or so of whipped cream.

Sunday, March 14, 2021


A new birthday cake! I had to invent this one, as a search turned up nothing close to what I was hoping for.



12 CUP BUNDT PAN: Melt shortening in a cup, and brush the bundt pan with it, making sure to coat all the cracks and crevices. Dust with flour to fully coat the pan, tap out any excess. It’s critical to thoroughly coat the pan well.

● 16 tablespoons (1 cup/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
● 2 cups granulated sugar
● 5 large eggs, at room temperature
● 1 tsp. vanilla extract
● ½ tsp. Fiori de Sicilia  (get this on the King Arthur website)
3 cups (361g) All-Purpose Flour
● 1 tablespoon baking powder
● 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orange juice**   **if not enough juice from the fresh oranges, add enough commercial orange juice to make up the difference
● 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
● grated zest of 2 large oranges
● 1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the flat beater, beat the room temperature butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
2. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl occasionally. Add vanilla and the Fiori de Sicilia and blend in well.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture
alternately with the juices.
4. Stir in the orange zest, then scrape off the beaters and mix well by hand until all zest is incorporated.
5. Pour all but one healthy cup of orange cake batter into the prepared bundt pan, and set aside while making the chocolate cake batter. The reserved orange cake batter will be used to cover the chocolate batter later on.
6. Wash the electric mixer bowl and flat beater to use for the chocolate cake batter, next.\

● ½ cup brewed strong coffee
● 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, room temperature
● 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
● 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
● 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
● 1/3 teaspoon salt
● 1 cup (241g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
● 1 large egg, at room temperature
● 1/4 cup sour cream, full-fat preferred, at room temperature
In a small saucepan, place the coffee, butter, and cocoa, and warm over low heat, stirring, just until the butter melts. Remove from the heat, and whisk until smooth. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.
1. While the chocolate mixture is cooling, put the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour into the bowl of an electric mixer, and whisk the dry ingredients to combine.
2. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the mixer bowl with the dry ingredients, and blend gently until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and mix again to incorporate all.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, eggs, and sour cream until well blended. Mix into the chocolate batter, stirring until thoroughly combined and incorporated, scraping bowl sides and bottom to thoroughly blend.
4. Make a deep trench in the orange cake batter with a large spoon, then dollop the chocolate batter into the trench and cover with the reserved orange cake batter. Swirl the batters together all the way around the pan with a butter knife, then smooth the top with a spoon.
5. Bake the cake for 60 minutes, then check for doneness by inserting a toothpick deeply into the center of one side -- if crumbs adhere or if batter is still raw, bake 5 more minutes and check again with a fresh toothpick. Repeat as necessary just until no crumbs adhere to a new toothpick.
6. Make the glaze for the cake during the last 15 minutes of baking time:

¾ cup sugar
⅓ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Zest of 1 large orange
1 teaspoon lemon zest
In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, orange and lemon juices to a simmer and stir to dissolve all of the sugar over medium low heat. Remove from heat and add salt, and the zests of the orange and lemon.
7. Remove cake from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes, no longer. Loosen cake from the sides and middle of the pan with a thin bladed knife, and invert onto a wire rack. Immediately brush the top and all sides with the hot glaze, repeating the brushing until all the glaze is used.

Let the cake cool completely to room temperature, about 2.5 hours. Transfer the cake to a serving plate that can be easily covered.

4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup confectioners sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
Mix the melted butter with the cocoa, then add confectioners sugar and salt until
combined. Add orange juice and zest, a little at a time, stirring well.Scrape the bowl and
beaters, and blend well. If too thick, add a little more orange juice; if too thin, add more
confectioners sugar until icing is just thick yet pourable. Remove the beaters, and scrape down
any zest adhering to them into the icing by hand. Using a large spoon, drizzle all of the icing
over the top and sides of the cooled cake.
Store cake, covered, overnight, for best flavor before serving. Keep leftover cake covered.

10 - 12 servings

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Oh boy oh boy! Waffles

Waffles! Best breakfast treat for a wintery weekend.  This is the recipe my mom used, and I have used it as well. That's a lot of waffles over a lot years.

Oh Boy Waffles

Preheat a waffle iron.

Sift together:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking POWDER
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
Set aside.

Beat together in the bowl of an electric mixer:
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups milk
1/2 vegetable oil or corn oil
Beat eggs well, then slowly add the milk and oil until mixed. Add the sifted dry ingredients slowly to the egg mixture and stir only long enough to combine. Don't overmix.

Pour about 1/3 cup of the batter onto the waffle grid. Close the lid and bake until the steaming stops, about 2 minutes or so, or until golden brown.

Keep the finished waffles warm on plates in the oven and continue baking the remaining batter, then enjoy with you favorite toppings. Butter and maple syrup for us!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thanksgiving traditions: Applesauce, Stuffing, Green Beans

Liz called and wondered why certain dishes that are traditional to our family aren't on the blog. Honestly, those recipes are just in my head and are variable, due to the amount needed. But they need to be here so that the traditions can continue or be recalled as needed, so here goes. Adjust your quantities up or down as you like making half again as much or less, or doubling/tripling.

Gram's Applesauce

3 pounds Mackintosh, Stayman, Jonathan, Granny Smith, Winesap, Black Twig, or Pippin apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths -- you can always use more apples
large pinch of salt
1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar -- adjust to taste if using more apples
red food coloring OR a dozen red cinnamon heart candies

In a large heavy bottomed pot with a lid, cook the apples with the pinch of salt and 1/2 cup water over very low heat, covered, for 30 minutes once the apples have begun to simmer. Stir every ten minutes so they don't stick or burn. Check for doneness at 30 minutes, and add time in increments of 10 minutes, stirring and checking for doneness: apples should be very soft and mash easily.

When done, remove from heat, add the sugar and mash the apples to the desired consistency. Add a drop of red food coloring (careful! don't overdo it!) or the cinnamon hearts and stir until thoroughly blended. Pour into a bowl and cool to room temp, then cover and refrigerate at least three hours. Can be made three days ahead and kept refrigerated. Can also be frozen up to a month.  Serve in a cut glass bowl, just like Grams did.

Serves 12 as a Thanksgiving side

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Gram's Stuffing 
This was the way her mother and my grandmother, Tillie, made it, and this recipe is also used by my Aunts, sister-in-law, and cousins. It is THE BEST.

BASE BATCH: can be doubled or tripled
TIME NEEDED: 2.5 to 4 hours 

2 LARGE heavy bottomed skillets -- cast iron is ideal

2 loaves firm white bread (I use Pepperidge Farm Sandwich Bread), opened and left to dry out a bit (several hours or overnight), cut in 1"cubes and placed in large bowls
3-4 sticks butter (12-16 oz.)  --- will need more, usually
2-3 large yellow onions, peeled, chopped and rinsed; set aside 
3-4 ribs of celery (including leaves), chopped; set aside
2 cups or so chicken or turkey broth (I use Swanson, and buy 2  15 oz. cans so that I have enough for baking outside the bird)
16 oz. whole milk or half and half, or more as needed
1 tsp of salt or to taste
1 tsp of black pepper

Melt a stick of butter in each skillet over low heat, then add half the onions to each skillet, cooking at medium low heat for 10 minutes to soften initially. Add half the celery to each skillet, and stir, cooking an additional 5 to 10 minutes to completely soften the vegetables; season each skillet with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.

Over medium low heat, add half the bread to each skillet, and stir quickly to coat the bread with butter and toss the veggies. Let the bread saute and toast, lifting and turning so that all the bread becomes toasted --- stir frequently so that the bread doesn't burn. Careful: it can burn very quickly. Add more butter in tablespoons if it's needed to keep the bread and veggies from sticking to the pan.   This process is NOT fast: it takes about an hour, but it's worth the effort.  

Once all the bread is toasted (it will shrink in the pans), add 3/4 cup of milk to each pan, and toss well. The bread and vegetables should become cohesive without becoming a big blob; you should be able to tell there are bread cubes in there but still be a bit cohesive. Add butter as needed to the bottom of the skillet, a tablespoon at a time, to keep the stuffing from sticking. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth to each skillet, and saute slowly over low heat, being careful not to let the mixture burn. Add butter as needed to the bottom of the skillets to keep the stuffing from sticking, and keep stirring. Cook the stuffing for an additional 20 to 30 minutes, stirring and turning frequently. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed,  cooking a few more minutes. More time may be needed; stuffing shouldn't taste raw.  Stuffing should cohere, hold together and become massy and pale golden in color. 

Set aside to cool a couple of hours, then refrigerate at least three hours or so, covered tightly. You can also refrigerate it overnight; the flavors are much better if the stuffing is chilled overnight before using.

On the day of use:

If you are going to stuff a bird, stuffing must be cold. 
Rinse the bird well with cold water both inside and out. Drain the bird well, then pat the skin dry with paper towels, then pat the inside of the bird to remove excess moisture.  
Stuff the cavity lightly and truss the legs together with twine over the flap of skin over the opening. Don't overstuff!   Rub the skin of the dried bird well and liberally with softened butter, season with salt and pepper, and roast the bird as the label directs or the method you like. (You don't need to add extra broth to any stuffing going directly into a bird).  Place the remaining stuffing in a well buttered casserole dish and add a little more chicken broth to it, cover with foil, and proceed as below. 

If not stuffing a bird, butter a deep 2 to 3 qt. casserole dish well and spoon the stuffing into the casserole dish without packing it down too densely.  Add a little more chicken broth ( 1/2 cup or so) over the stuffing, and cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes at 350F --- or whatever temperature you are roasting the bird or other stuff in the oven. Remove foil and bake an additional 30 minutes to brown lightly. 

Base recipe will serve 4 to 6.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Aunt Debbie's Green Beans 
Another recipe that can be doubled or tripled as needed. Don't add more sugar, though, regardless of quantity

1 bag frozen french style green beans, defrosted and drained; set aside
 2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup sour cream
6 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided: 3/4 cup for the casserole and the remainder for the top
1/2 cup buttery crackers, crushed (Ritz, or Townhouse or something like that)
2 tablespoons melted butter 

Butter a 2.5 quart casserole dish and set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium low heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter; add the sugar, salt, and pepper, stirring to combine. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. add the flour and stir until smooth and combined, then cook an additional 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, and stir. Add 3/4 of the cheddar cheese and stir until combined, then stir in the french style green beans. Cook another minute to heat through.  Spoon into the buttered casserole dish, and top with the rest of the cheese.  Set aside to make crispy topping. 

Stir together 2 tablespoons of melted butter into the 1/2 cup of buttery cracker crumbs and mix well, then sprinkle over the top of the bean mixture. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes or until bubbly and golden.  

Base recipe serves 4 to 6.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Orange Nut Bread

My mom would make this bread the day before we would go down to our camp in north central Pennsylvania for a weekend. It's moist and orange-y, and the walnuts round it out perfectly.  It's better the day after it's baked and had time to develop the flavor. We would have slices with sweet butter. It was a real treat, and still is. Luckily, I found the recipe among the bits of paper in a drawer in mom's kitchen.


the juice of 1 large orange + additional fresh juice (or water) to make 1 cup total
the zest from the orange (about a tablespoon)
4 tablespoons softened butter (1/2 stick)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
Grease a loaf pan with shortening.

Bring the orange juice to a boil, then immediately turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Set aside.

Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and blend, then add the orange zest and vanilla and stir well.

Stir together the flour, salt,  baking powder, soda in another bowl -- add alternately with the orange juice to the butter/sugar mixture, and stir just until mixed well.  Add the walnuts, stir well, then scrape down the sides of the bowl and blend again. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out barely clean. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Loosen and remove from the loaf pan after it cools to room temperature. Wrap tightly in foil and allow to mellow overnight. Slice and serve with sweet butter. Great with hot tea!
Makes one loaf.

Another Family Fave: Beef Stroganoff

Another family classic, and often requested for birthday dinners is Beef Stroganoff. I use beef tenderloin for mine, and it is meltingly tender and utterly decadent. You could substitute sirloin, but be sure to simmer it longer so it becomes tender before adding the sour cream.


This will serve 6. Make early in the day for best flavor, or make without the sour cream, and refrigerate overnight. The next day, warm the mixture slowly in a large skillet until it simmers, then add the the sour cream. Serve over noodles.

1 1/2 pounds of beef tenderloin, cut across the grain into 3 inch long strips that are 1/4 inch thick or so
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt

1 smallish onion, chopped
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
6 tablespoons butter + an additional 2 tablespoons or so for browning the meat
3 cloves of garlic, smashed and mince

12 ounces beef consomme
2 to 3 tablespoons ketchup
salt and pepper to taste
1 or 2 bay leaves
1/4 cup or more of dry sherry

8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces wide egg noodles, cooked al dente

Dredge the meat in the flour/salt mixture to coat well, then shake off the excess flour and place on waxed paper. Set aside.

In a large steep sided skillet, melt the 6 tablespoons of butter, then cook the onion for 10 minutes or until soft. Push to one side, and add the mushrooms and cook until they are browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional 4 minutes. Remove the veggies with a slotted spoon to a bowl, and pour back any butter/juices back into the skillet.

Reheat the skillet and add another few tablespoons of butter to what is already in the pan, and over medium heat, add the dredged beef strips and cook in a single layer until all sides are browned. If it seems dry, add more butter so that all the beef browns evenly. Remove beef from pan.  To the pan drippings, add the beef consomme, stirring to incorporate all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, then add the ketchup, salt and pepper to taste, and the bay leaves and sherry. Stir well, bring to a boil, then return the beef to the pan and simmer on low, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes. At this point, remove from the heat and allow to stand at least an hour before resuming the recipe.

After resting (so the flavors will marry well), return the pan contents to simmer on a burner, and cook the egg noodles as it returns to simmer. Once the mixtures gently boils, reduce the heat to low and add the sour cream. Don't boil the mixture after this -- the sour cream will curdle. Just allow to simmer very gently.

Serve on a platter over egg noodles and garnish with fresh minced parsley if desired.

Coconut Cream Pie!

Of course there is an exclamation point after coconut cream pie. It's the queen of pies: a sweet, rich, delicate and creamy classic. Enjoy! And yes, you must make a pastry shell first. You'll get over it -- this is so worth it.


a 9" pastry shell, baked and cooled.

For the filling:

4 egg yolks, beaten (save the whites for the meringue)
2 cups half and half, pre-warmed

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks and half and half together. Set aside.

Stir together in a bowl:

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
pinch of salt

Add the sugar mixture to the egg/half & Half mixture and whisk to blend. Cook over medium low heat, whisking constantly, until it comes to a simmer. Cook an additional minute or so. Remove from heat, and add:

1 cup shredded coconut

Stir to blend, then add:

1 teaspoon vanilla exract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
2 tablespoons butter

Stir together until the butter melts into the mixture and all the ingredients are well incorporated.

Pour into the prepared, baked and cooled pie shell. Set aside to make the meringue.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit.

4 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy, then very gradually add the sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Add the salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla extract, and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.  Swirl the meringue over the top of the filling in the pie shell, making sure to hook some of the meringue over the edge of the pie shell, and dust the top with a little additional shredded coconut. Bake in a  325 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until coconut is toasty brown. Cool unrefrigerated for an hour, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

Memory Lane: The Inn at Manchester Brunchcakes

I have been making this recipe as my go-to pancake recipe for decades now. We stayed at the Inn at Manchester, in Manchester, VT sometime in the 1980s, and they served these yummy pancakes with locally made maple syrup. I'm not much of a fan of pancakes: they lie leaden in my stomach, and leave me with a heavy, overly cake-y feel and soak up syrup too quickly. These heavenly discs are light, slightly tangy, and definitely not cake-y or overly sweet. Best of all, maple syrup lies on top, so you get just the right amount with each bite without going into a sugar coma.

The Inn at Manchester Brunchcakes

Sift together:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Add to sifted ingredients, in the order given:

1 cup sour cream
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend until well combined. Don't overmix; batter will be slightly lumpy.

Drop by large tablespoons onto a well greased hot griddle; when bubbles form and the edge begins to look a little dry, flip and cook the other side. Place on a warm plate in a warm oven to hold while making the rest of the batter. Serve with butter, maple syrup or your favorite fruit syrup.  Serves 2 or 3 breakfasters. (When I made these for our entire family of 6 I would double the recipe.)

Appetizer Classic: Sausage Balls

These are a staple for every party, family get-together, holiday, the Super Bowl, World Series, or any other excuse you can think of to clog your arteries with cheesy, sausage-y goodness.


1 pound bulk hot sausage
3 cups Bisquik or other buttermilk baking mix you like that's comparable
1 pound of extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3/4 cup water

Cook the sausage, breaking it up into small bits as it cooks. Remove from heat, and drain off fat. Place a double layer of paper towels on a large dinner plate and move the sausage to the plate ... this gets rid of the excess greasiness.

In the bowl of a mixer, place the Bisquik, sausage and cheese; stir to coat. Add the water and mix until blended. Roll 1 inch sized balls of the sausage dough out onto a parchment lined baking sheet at least 1 inch apart from each other. Bake in a preheated 400 degree Farenheit oven for 12-15 minutes.
Makes about 60.

Another Pie Edition: Fresh Strawberry Pie

A springtime favorite, when strawberries are in season. Here in Virginia, that's right around Memorial day or even sooner. I just found this recipe while digging through a bunch of old snippets. Better to save it now than wait until I lose it for good. It's such a beautiful dessert, you won't want to cut into it. But you will overcome that urge, I assure you.


a 9" baked pie shell (Yes, you must make one. Stop whining.)

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 tablespoons of strawberry jello powder ---OR--- 1 tablespoon of gelatin that's been softened in 1 cup strawberry juice and then simmered a moment to melt -- omit the above cup of water in this instance
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 quart of fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
20 or so whole strawberries, hulled (for the top)

Mix together the sugar, water, strawberry jello powder, corn starch and the quart of berries, and bring to a boil in a saucepan; lower the heat and simmer 7 minutes, stirring constantly. (Note: if you make your own gelatin from strawberry juice, see above). Taking the reserved whole berries, dip them in the mixture to coat them, then place on waxed paper and set aside. Pour the strawberry mixture into a baked 9" pie shell. Refrigerate about 30 minutes.  Place the reserved berries on top, hull side down, and then refrigerate at least 3 hours. Serve with freshly whipped cream.

Mama Mia: It's Stuffed Shells!

Sometimes you just don't feel like cooking, but everyone still expects dinner on the table. The nerve, right? This is one of those recipes that you can make ahead and freeze, and then pull out just what you need.  I happily set aside a couple of hours to make a double batch: stuff the shells, and then freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Then I place meal-sized batches in plastic freezer bags and pop them back into the freezer for future use. Meal prep then consists of pulling them out of the freezer, letting them thaw for an hour or so, then placing them in a single layer in a greased baking dish with some tomato-based pasta sauce, slathering them with shredded parmesan cheese, and popping them into the oven. Add a salad and you're good to go. Dinner is done! You can also use a single entire recipe to feed a horde up to 6 on the day you make them, too. The choice is yours.

Cheese Stuffed Shells 
this recipe will serve 6; it's also a great recipe to double for a crowd, or made ahead and freeze into smaller batches for meals; I usually double this recipe just for this reason
16 to 20 pasta super shells
12 ounces or more whole milk ricotta cheese
4 ounces or more shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic 
2 teaspoons finely minced parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese + another 1/2 cup for the top
Marinara or other tomato-based pasta sauce -- about 36 oz.

Cook the shells in 6 quarts of boiling salted water for 12 minutes. Drain, then run cold water over them to stop cooking. Drain again, and place shells on paper towels to completely drain and cool.

Mix together the ricotta, mozzarella, egg, salt, pepper, garlic, parsley and parmesan cheese until well combined. Stuff each shell with enough cheese mixture to fill it but not overfill it -- shell edges should be able to meet. 

At this point, you can freeze them on a cookie sheet for about 2 hours, or until solid. Then place enough shells for a meal (allowing 3 or 4 shells per person) in a freezer bag and freeze until needed. Or continue onward for immediate use:

If using all of the shells immediately, butter or oil a lasagna pan or 9 x 13 pan, then add 1 cup of pasta/marinara sauce to the bottom of the pan. Lay all the shells in a single layer on the sauce, then top with another two cups or so over the shells. Cover tightly with foil and bake in a preheated 350 degrees Farenheit oven for 35 minutes; uncover and top with the additional parmesan cheese and bake 10 minutes longer. 

Note: If you are making a smaller batch from your frozen stash, then use an appropriately sized baking dish for the amount of shells you are baking -- as well as a proportional amount of sauce and parmesan for the topping -- for the pan. I use a 8 x 8 inch baking dish when making 8 shells (enough for two hungry diners).

PSS: You can also add a bag/box of frozen spinach that's been of cooked and drained dry to the cheese filling for a Florentine version of Stuffed Shells.

Yum!: Cheesy Potato Casserole

How have I managed to largely ignore potatoes on the blog? We love them, they are a staple in a thousand ways, and are probably the most ubiquitous comfort food item of all. Here is a yummy (and festive) make-ahead potato casserole that is delicious with pork or ham, and is a welcome dish at potlucks, and feeds a crowd. 

Cheesy Potato Casserole
this recipe requires a bit of lead time, as the potatoes must be cooked then chilled. You can cook the potatoes a day ahead, then proceed the next day with the recipe.

6 medium to large potatoes, peeled
4 ounces (or more!) extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3/4 cup milk
2-3 tablespoons butter - more for buttering the dish, too
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 very small onion, grated
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika (not the smoked kind)
pepper to taste

Cook the whole peeled potatoes in boiling salted water about 25 minutes or until just done enough to pierce with a knife. Don't overcook. Drain, then refrigerate until chilled well; can be done a day ahead if you like, or very early on the day you make the casserole.  

Grate the potatoes and set aside. 

In a large saucepan or small dutch oven, combine cheese, milk, 2 tablespoons of butter, and cook over low heat until cheese melts, stirring often. Remove from heat, stir in sour cream, onions, salt, pepper and paprika. Fold potatoes into cheese mixture, and pour into a heavily buttered 2 quart casserole dish. Dot with additional butter, and sprinkle with paprika. Bake in a preheated 350 degree Farenheit oven, for 45 minutes or so. Serves 6.


The Pie Edition: Kentucky Derby Pie

Why in the world am I posting this in November, instead of May? Because my brother loves it and it has replaced a cake as his birthday dessert. And his birthday is coming up soon. And everyone loves this pie. And it's time to get crackin' on those special desserts for holiday parties. Who doesn't love chocolate, pecans and bourbon? Really.

Kentucky Derby Pie

1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar 
3 large eggs, well beaten
3/4 cup light corn syrup (Karo)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons of the best bourbon
9" unbaked pie shell

Make your favorite recipe for a pie shell. If you wimp out and buy one, don't tell me about it. Learn to make one -- they are so much better tasting. Anyway, have it ready and waiting for your scrumptious filling.

Cream the butter and sugar, about 5 minutes will make it nice and fluffy. Add eggs, corn syrup, salt and vanilla and blend well. Stir in the chocolate chips, pecans and bourbon by hand. Pour into the prepared pie shell, and bake in a preheated 375 degree Farenheit oven (350 degrees if using a glass pan) for 45 minutes or so ... the center should barley jiggle and it should look baked through and deep golden brown. Serve slightly warm with whipped cream. Traditionally served on Kentucky Derby Weekend in Louisville, KY ... or at my brother's annual birthday dinner. Enjoy whenever you like!

Gingerbread Men

My intrepid sister-in-law, Debbie, asked me for the Gingerbread Men recipe we have been using for eons; somehow, the shreds of paper with loved recipes always disappear. As it turns out, it was published in the December 1982 issue of Gourmet magazine. It's still the best recipe, and so the tradition of making and decorating them continues as she bakes them with her grandson (my great nephew) Colton. Have fun, Mimi and Colton!

Gingerbread Men
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temp
1 cup FIRMLY packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup molasses (I use Brer Rabbit)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

5 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Sift together the flour, spices, baking soda and salt and set aside.

Cream the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Slowly beat in the egg, molasses, and vinegar.

Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture a little at a time. Dough will be soft. Divide dough into 4 balls, dust lightly with flour, flatten each ball, then wrap each in wax paper or plastic wrap and REFRIGERATE AT LEAST 6 HOURS or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Remove a ball of dough and roll it out on a floured surface to 1/8" thickness or less. Cut with floured cookie cutters (mine are 4" tall gingerbread men). Transfer with a spatula to parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 7 - 8 minutes or until no imprint remains when touched lightly with your finger. Remove and cool the cookie sheets on racks. Pipe with sugar icing (recipe below); let them set 20 minutes or so before storing -- icing must be dry. Makes about 60 4" men, so your mileage may vary depending on the cutters you use.
Store in a tightly covered tin.

Sugar Icing:
2 egg whites*
pinch of cream of tartar
2 teaspoons water
3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and water together until frothy, then add sugar gradually until it forms stiff peaks. Use a pastry bag to pipe the cookies. 

*you can use powdered egg whites if you want, and make enough per directions for 2 egg whites -- this recipe was published long before a salmonella problem existed.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Lemon Lavender Cookies

A friend and fellow knitter, Greer, made these cookies the other night and they are so perfect for summer -- light and lemony, with notes of lavender, made with the simplest of recipes. Yum!

Lemon Lavender Cookies

1 cup flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
zest of a lemon
1/2 teaspoon lavender buds, ground or chopped finely
1/2 cup butter, (1 stick; 4 ounces) room temperature
two egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
the juice of a lemon
powdered sugar
pinch of salt

In a food processor, add the flour, sugar, lemon zest and lavender and pulse to combine.  Add the butter and mix until it resembles bread crumbs.  Add the two yolks and the vanilla and process for a minute until it comes together. Tip it onto a work surface and knead it just long enough to make a ball.  Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. 
Preheat oven to 350F.  Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch or just a bit thicker. Cut into rounds or shapes.  Place on a greased (or lined) cookie sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on size and thickness.
Glaze with the juice of the lemon, a bit of salt and enough powdered sugar to make the glaze the right consistency. 

Makes a couple of dozen cookies

Friday, May 25, 2018

Picnic Fave: Peanut Butter Pie

Nothing like an ice cream pie for warm weather festivities, though we need no excuse to whip up this yummy family favorite.


a deep dish chocolate cookie pie shell (like Oreo, or Keebler chocolate)

1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened slightly
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 cup chopped peanuts
Hershey's syrup or other chocolate sauce

Note: have your cream whipped, peanut butter measured out, and the peanuts chopped and ready before starting this recipe

Blend the ice cream with the peanut butter on medium low speed of a kitchen aid mixer just until blended. By hand, fold in the whipped cream, then the nuts. Pile into the pie shell and cover loosely with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.

On day of serving, remove from freezer 5 minutes before slicing. Place a slice of pie on an individual dessert plate and drizzle with chocolate sauce - serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8

Friday, April 6, 2018

Cold Weather Comfort: Bean Soup

My Mother always made bean soup with the hambone and leftover ham from New Year's Day dinner, and I've made it plenty of times with holiday ham leftovers in January, then frozen it in meal-sized containers to pull out when the weather is it's coldest and the wind it's blusteriest.  But we've had a weird winter this year, and also had a ham at Easter. It's April, yet tomorrow it's supposed to snow ... again. May this be the last time that happens until the next winter!

Bean Soup
2 lbs dried beans (great northern, a bean mix, or navy beans are the best ones to use)
soak the beans per the package up to 8 hours, then drain and proceed with the recipe

3 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, roughly chopped
3 ribs of celery, washed and roughly chopped
a large ham bone, most meat removed and reserved for later in the recipe
1 carrot, grated

2 chicken bullion cubes (OR Herb Ox Sodium Free Bullion packets)
2 bay leaves
In a large stockpot, melt the butter and add the onions and celery, and saute until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot and ham bone and saute a few more minutes. Add the prepared beans, and cover with water 2" above the solids, and add the 2 chicken bullion cubes. Add the bay leaves, additional ham meat, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, stir, and lower the heat to simmer slowly for at least 2 hours. Be a little scant on the salt -- about an hour into simmering the soup, taste it and adjust the seasoning to taste. 

This recipe, like many soup recipes, tastes so much better if made a day ahead and then reheated when you want it; the flavors marry with some chilling, and the flavor is much more complex and rich.

Makes about 6 quarts or so.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Retro Comfort Food: Mac and Cheese

For decades, this has been a staple comfort dish on cold days and days when you just want something homey, delicious and satisfying. This serves a crowd, too, so it's a winner for a potluck or picnic.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit

butter a 2 qt. or larger casserole/baking dish WELL
INGREDIENTS:1 quart (32 ounces) milk
6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
1 tsp.salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
16 ounces of shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

 * * * * *
more butter for dotting the top  OR 2 slices of bread, toasted completely dry++ and crumbled into 3 tblsp. butter

++ bread slices can be dried in the oven on a middle rack  for 20 minutes or more; crush the bread into crumbs.

a couple of ounces of shredded extra sharp cheddar for the top

8 ounces of elbow macaroni, cooked very al dente, and drained (about 6 mins.)

* * * * *

Cook the macaroni in several quarts of salted boiling water while making the sauce; then drain and place into the prepared casserole dish.

Warm the milk in a pitcher or large quart size measuring cup in the microwave for 4 to 5 minutes, until it simmers. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a 2 quart or larger saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, and increase heat slightly and continuously whisk until the roue turns pale golden, about 3 - 4 minutes.  Increase the heat to medium, and add the milk slowly while whisking it in, and keep on whisking to incorporate, bringing the sauce to a simmer. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne, dry mustard and worcestershire sauce, stirring. Gradually stir in the cheese and stir until all is melted and well blended together.

Immediately after the cheese is melted and mixed in well, pour over the cooked macaroni in the casserole/baking dish. Stir the sauce and macaroni gently together. Dot with butter, then sprinkle with some extra grated cheese OR the butter/crumb mixture. Bake, covered, in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove covering and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven and let stand a couple of minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings or more as a side; 6 as an entree.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

An Occupational Hazard: Claire's Beer Cheese

Claire works for a brewery, so I have become, by default, far more informed about beer than I ever dreamed. She whips up all sorts of concoctions with it, too. This is her Beer Cheese, which is totally addictive.


1 pound extra sharp cheddar - the sharper, the better - cubed
1 clove of garlic
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 ounces of lager -- Devil's Backbone Vienna Lager  or Devils Backbone Gold Leaf Lager, preferably (we're biased)

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the cheese a bit, and add half the beer. Add the spices, then add the rest of the beer and continue pulsing the mixture until it is smooth. Refrigerate an hour or so to allow the flavors to marry. Serve with pretzels (we make soft pretzels or use buttery pretzel sticks or mini pretzels), or crispy raw veggies, like celery and carrots. Yummy!! Best Super Bowl dip ever.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Best Things are Simple: Chocolate Crunch Bars

I have a bajillion cookbooks, but a few are standouts that have recipes that are made over and over, year after year. Sometimes I go a couple of years without making one of my favorites, but always return eventually. These bars, which I haven't made for a couple of years, is one of those recipes. Julia called to ask for the recipe today, and now I want to make them again. It's a recipe that's so simple, with ingredients that can be pulled from the pantry at any time and made very quickly. Thin, crispy, and full of chocolate and nutty goodness, they are a nice cookie to have with homemade ice cream in the summer, or with a pot of tea in cooler weather.

Chocolate Crunch Bars
 from The Fine Arts Cookbook II, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour a jelly roll pan

2 squares of unsweetened chocolate
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped

Combine the chocolate, cocoa and shortening together in a small heavy saucepan over low heat just until the shortening is melted, stirring well. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool slightly. Slowly add the sugar and mix well. Then, add the eggs, one at a time, blending well between each addition. Stir in the salt, vanilla and flour and blend until just combined well. Don't overmix. Spread the batter evenly and thinly in the pan, then sprinkle with the nuts. Press the nuts gently into the surface so they don't roll off. Bake in a 350F degree oven for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove and cut immediately into long rectangles. Cool a minute, then remove the thin bars to a rack to finish cooling. They will crisp as they cool. (Which is why they are cut immediately after removing from the oven -- much easier and less messy then.)

Makes 2 dozen or more

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Cheesecake Edition

Birthday Cheesecake

This will be a real surprise, as I don't make many cheesecakes. This one is special, New York style, as it has a sponge cake crust instead of the usual graham cracker one, and is light and airy, not dense and heavy.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter well the bottom and sides of an 8" springform pan. Cover the entire pan with foil all the way up the sides. Set aside.

For the sponge cake crust:

1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 extra large eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar, divided 
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 drops pure lemon extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. 

In large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks on high for 3 minutes. On low speed, add 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and beat 5 minutes, until a thick yellow ribbon forms in the bowl. Add the extracts and mix. Sift the flour mixture over the egg batter and stir it by hand until no white flecks remain. Blend in the melted butter. 

In another bowl, using clean dry beaters, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until frothy. Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form, mixture will be glossy. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the yolk batter, then the remaining whites. Gently spread batter over the bottom of  the prepared pan and bake JUST until set and pale golden edges, about 10 minutes. Touch the cake gently in the center; if it springs back, it's done. Don't let the top brown!

Place the pan on a wire rack to cool and leave the oven on and continue to prepare the cheesecake batter.

For the cheesecake batter:

3  8 ounce packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (use whole fat only), at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
zests of lemon and/or orange peel, optional

As the sponge cake crust cools, make the batter as follows:

Beat 1 package of the cream cheese together with 1/3 cup of the sugar and the corn starch on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down bowl several times. Blend in remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, beating well and scraping down after each.  

Increase mixer speed to medium and beat in remaining sugar, then the vanilla and optional zests. Scrape down bowl a couple of more times. Beat in the heavy cream on low speed JUST until completely blended. The filling will look light, airy and billowy, like clouds. Be careful not to overmix!  Gently spoon the batter over the crust. Place the foil-wrapped springform pan in a large shallow pan and add hot water to the large pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the edge is light golden brown and the top is pale golden and the center  barely jiggly, 75 to 85 minutes. Remove from the water bath and cool on a wire rack for 2 hours without disturbing it. Don't move it! Then leave the cake in the pan and cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

On serving day:

Release from the springform pan and leave the cake on the pan bottom. Place on a plate. Cut with a straight edged knife dipped in hot water between slicings. Use the cake within 2 days. Refrigerate leftover cake tightly wrapped. 

Serves 8.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

It's Almost Time: Potato Leek Soup

The first whiff of Fall is in the air, and it won't be long until the first really crisp and cool day descends on us. That's always the day we make our first batch of Potato Leek soup of the Fall and Winter seasons. It's hearty, satisfying, and I typically serve it with a good bread or cheese biscuits, and, after supper, a pot of tea and some sort of spicy or homey cookie, like homemade ginger or peanut butter cookies. I think we just like all the rich, warm aromas that emanate from the kitchen! On that first cold night, nothing beats Potato Leek Soup.  But I digress. Here is the soup that we all love:


I use a 12 quart lidded stockpot

* * * * * * * * * *

1 pound of thick cut smokey bacon, cut into 1" pieces

1 or 2 large yellow onions, roughly chopped

1 stalk celery, roughly diced into approx. 1/2" pieces

6 leeks, washed well to remove the sand inevitably stuck down near the root end, then roughly sliced into 1/2" slices

1/2 small head of cabbage, cored and coarsely shredded

8 to 10 large russet or yukon gold potatos, peeled, halved, then quarter the halves

12 cups (96 ounces) of chicken broth -- have another 2 to 3 cups on hand if needed

1 or 2 bay leaves

salt to taste

fresh ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon Penzey's Bavarian Seasoning

1 large carrot, shredded

1/4 tsp. caraway seed (optional)

1/2 pint of heavy cream -- or get a pint if you plan to have the soup again within the week

4 to 6 ounces of gruyere cheese, shredded (this is easier if the cheese has been frozen first) - you will need more cheese for subsequent meals

In a large stockpot, cook the bacon until browned and almost crisp, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the pot. Remove bacon, chop roughly; place in a paper towel lined bowl and set aside. If there seems to be more than 3  or 4 tablespoons of bacon fat left in the stockpot, drain some of it off.

To the bacon fat in the stockpot, immediately add the onions and celery, scraping up the brown bits and stirring to cook just until the onions begin to brown. Add the leeks and cook over medium low heat until wilted. Add the potatoes, stir, and cook a few minutes longer. Add the chicken stock, coarsely shredded cabbage, Penzey's Bavarian Seasoning, bay leaf, carrot and thyme. Add salt if needed: Remember there is already some salt in the bacon drippings and chicken broth, so add small amounts and repeatedly taste to get it to your liking. Turn up the burner to medium, and when the stock begins to boil, add half of the bacon pieces, then turn down the heat so that the stock just simmers gently, cooking until the potatoes are tender, about 40 minutes or so, stirring occasionally with the lid ajar a bit.

Using an immersion blender, pulse through the soup to break up the potatoes to the consistency you desire; we like some small potato chunks in the soup, but you may want it smoother. If you like a smoother soup but still a like a little texture, press the potatoes through a ricer instead of using an immersion blender, then return the potatoes to the stockpot.  If the soup seems a bit too thick at this point, (or you just like it a bit thinner), add additional chicken stock and heat until simmering. Add the caraway seed, parsley, and freshly ground pepper to taste.

In individual soup bowls or soup plates which have been pre-warmed, add a tablespoon or two of the heavy cream, and microwave it for 15 seconds or so to take the chill off. Ladle in the soup and stir. Add a drizzle of heavy cream to the top, followed by a 2 tablespoons or so of the gruyere, and top with some of the remaining bacon bits. Serve with nice crusty bread and a salad.

NOTE: I don't add heavy cream to the stockpot for these reasons: 1) the entire pot will be ruined if the cream boils, and 2) there will be lots of soup left for more meals, and soup with cream does not freeze well. The soup freezes wonderfully without the cream and can be used up to four months later. Freeze leftover soup in multiple serving batches.  Defrost a batch when needed, and slowly reheat in a covered heavy bottomed pot until simmering. Make up the soup bowls as above and serve.

Also: The soup is better when allowed to cool and is then chilled overnight and reheated. That never happens, though! We have absolutely no willpower. But if you can make this in advance, it is actually better reheated and served the next day. First day soup is very good; second day soup is GREAT. :-) Hence the big batch. 

Makes 8 to 10   2 cup servings

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

THOSE Toffee Bars

My Mom would make Scotch Toffee Bars when we were kids, and I remember seeing the recipe on a Quaker Oats container ... and she wrote it onto a piece of paper, which became pretty dogeared over the years.

Fast forward 45 years, and when going through the recipe drawer as we were sorting out her estate, the recipe was nowhere to be found. That is just crazy! We know it was there, somewhere.

The internet has saved us once again! I did a search for the bars, and eventually recognized the recipe that someone had claimed as their own under a different name. Here it is, in all it's original (And SIMPLE!) glory.

Quaker Oats Scotch Toffee Bars

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Farenheit
Line a METAL 7 x 11 or 8 x 8 pan with heavy duty foil that is very well buttered -- be sure to have 2" or so of excess foil beyond the rims of the pan

1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups Old Fashioned Oats (rolled oats, not quick oats)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, add the butter to the oats and stir well. Add the salt and brown sugar and mix well. Add the dark corn syrup and stir until thoroughly combined. Press into the foil lined pan, and bake for 11 or 12 minutes on the middle rack of a 450 degree oven. Remove from the oven, and immediately sprinkle with 6 ounces of semisweet or milk chocolate chips. Allow to melt for 10 minutes, then spread to swirl across the top of the bars. Allow to cool 30 minutes longer, then lift the bars from the pan by the excess foil 'ears' ... and cut into bars ASAP with a VERY SHARP KNIFE.  Don't wait to cut them any longer than 30 minutes or they are very difficult to cut.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pretty cheesy! Cheese Biscuits

We (as in our family) have a long standing love affair with cheese. Good cheese, not grotty american processed cheese products or wimpy flavorless varieties. Cheeses with character and backbone, cheeses with personality and gumption. And to that end, we love recipes that use cheeses of that ilk.

So no surprise that this cheese biscuit recipe is a favorite: It incorporates a heady cheddar and a pungent parmesan for a wonderful treat of a biscuit. I snack on them often instead of the same-old-same-old tired fare of chips, etc.

They are wonderful as the starch part of a meal instead of rice, potatoes, or pasta. They are, in a word, yummy.


2 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking POWDER
1/2 teaspoon baking SODA
3/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into smallish cubes
2cups (packed!) shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese (about 4-5 ounces)
1cup (about 2-3 ounces) grated or shredded parmesan cheese
1 1/3 cups buttermilk

Oven 400 degrees

Fit a baking sheet with a width of parchment paper OR grease lightly

Whisk dry ingredients together, then cut in butter and blend wit ha pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cheeses all at once and toss to coat well. Gradually add buttermilk, and stir only until mixed together.  Round up the dough, and drop by large spoonfuls (a scant 1/4 cup) and drop onto baking sheet about 2" apart. Bake 16 - 20 minutes; be sure to check them right at the 16 minute mark for doneness. Don't overbake. Serve at room temperature for best flavor.
Makes 16 biscuits.

Can be doubled, which is usually what I do .... since they make excellent snacks, too.

Friday, January 9, 2015

A tribute to Mom: Sour Milk Biscuits

This recipe is a tribute to my Mom, who passed away on January 3. Chicken and biscuits were her favorite meal. I make Sour Milk Biscuits as my go-to biscuit. This is my standard biscuit base for that meal, and it also makes a wonderful breakfast biscuit slathered with butter and raspberry jam. Here's to you, Mom: may you have heavenly chicken and biscuits every day in the hereafter.

Sour Milk Biscuits

3 cups flour
½ cup shortening
pinch of baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups sour milk*
melted butter (optional)

*Make sour milk by mixing 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar OR fresh lemon juice with enough milk to measure 1 ½ cups at least 15 minutes before starting to make this recipe.

Sift all dry ingredients together. Cut in the shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in sour milk with a large spoon, by hand. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for a minute or so. Roll out at least ½" thick and cut with a biscuit cutter or the top of a small drinking glass. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with melted butter if desired. Bake at 450 degrees for 12 -15 minutes.

Makes about 2 dozen small biscuits (2" diameter) or 15 large ones

Thursday, April 17, 2014

An Easter Tradition: Bunny Rolls

When the kids were little, I stumbled on a recipe for making bunny-shaped rolls in Gourmet magazine. Since then, I've made Honey Glazed Bunny Rolls every Easter we celebrate. Try them; they are wonderful.

Honey-Glazed Bunny Rolls
Gourmet  | April 1995
 Makes 12 Rolls

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • a 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 12 dried currants, halved
In a small saucepan, heat milk with honey, stirring, over low heat just until lukewarm and remove pan from heat. Stir in yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add butter and yolks, whisking until combined well.
Transfer milk mixture to bowl of a standing electric mixer (or to a large bowl, if kneading by hand). Add flour and salt gradually to milk mixture, stirring until incorporated. With dough hook, knead dough until smooth, about 2 minutes. (Alternatively, dough may be kneaded by hand on a lightly floured surface until smooth, 10 to 15 minutes.)
Transfer dough to a lightly oiled large bowl and turn to coat with oil. Let dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in refrigerator overnight, or until doubled in bulk. (Alternatively, dough may be allowed to rise in a warm place about 2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.)
Grease 2 baking sheets. Punch down dough and divide into 12 pieces. Form each piece into an egg shape and transfer pieces to prepared baking sheets. Form a bunny tail on each piece by holding scissors, points down, perpendicular to baking sheet and making a 1/2-inch-long snip at base of wide end. Form 2 bunny ears on each piece by making a narrow 2-inch-long snip on each side, starting near wide end and cutting toward narrow end. Form eyes on each piece by making 2 holes in narrow end with a wooden pick and pressing a currant half firmly into each hole with pick.
Brush half of warm glaze on rolls and let rise, covered loosely with plastic wrap, in a warm place 45 minutes or less, or until doubled, in bulk (rising will take longer if dough is cold).
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Heat remaining glaze over low heat just until warm and brush rolls. Bake rolls in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets in oven halfway through baking, 20 minutes, or until golden, and transfer to racks to cool.
Serve rolls warm or at room temperature.
In a small saucepan, heat glaze ingredients over low heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted. Remove pan from heat and keep glaze warm, covered.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Yummy Winter Breakfast: Baked Pumpkin Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Claire, forever on the hunt for flavorful recipes and food ideas, hit on a new winner: Baked Pumpkin Steel-Cut Oatmeal. I've never been a fan of oatmeal as a stand-alone menu item, but this piqued my interest. As she read the list of ingredients, I could already smell it wafting from the oven. We tend to love sweet spices and most things pumpkin, so this was a 'must try'. 

So try we did. In two words, it's absolutely delicious.

We are having a prolonged cold spell (read: long visit from the Artic Express), and this is the perfect antidote to short days, long winter nights, and icy cold windy weather. Try it. You'll love it. Guaranteed to keep you feeling warm and full of goodness.

Baked Pumpkin Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

1 tblsp. butter
1 1/2 cups steel cut oats

1 tblsp. butter
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. mace
2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. salt

Optional nut topping:
1 tblsp. butter
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup pecan halves
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of ginger

In a dutch oven, melt 1 tablespoon of butter at medium heat; add 1 1/2 cups steel cut oats (we used Bob's Red Mill) and saute the oats about 3 minutes or until toasted. 

Push the oats to one side of the pot and add another tablespoon of butter to melt. Add the pumpkin and saute it, stirring after a minute. Add the brown sugar and spices. Saute for 3 to 4 more minutes. Add the milk, water, vanilla and salt and whisk everything together to combine. Place a lid on the dutch oven and bake for 35 minutes at 375 degrees. 

Drizzle with cream or maple syrup. (We used both: A little maple syrup and then a little cream.) Top with a couple of tablespoons of the nut topping, if desired.

While the oatmeal bakes, prepare the nut topping: 
In a saute pan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the almonds and pecans, stirring frequently. After a minute, reduce the heat to low, keep stirring, and allow the almonds to turn a very pale golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the cayenne and ginger and toss well. Serve over individual servings of the oatmeal.

Serves 4 - 5 generously.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Traditional Italian Christmas Cookie: Pizzelles

I just want to say that I love pizzelles. There are many, many recipes for them, and I have tried a good many myself. But I keep coming back to one that I was introduced to decades ago: a traditional recipe, made with butter instead of oil (as many modern variations seem to do) and anise seed instead of anise extract or oil. The resulting pizzelle is tender and subtly flavored, perfect with tea, coffee, or a glass of dessert wine. 

Tender Traditional Italian Pizzelles

6 eggs, room temperature 
1 1/2 cups cup sugar
1 cup butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
2 tsp. anise seed
3 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat your pizzelle iron/maker and follow the mfrs. directions for preparing the grids.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar. Add the cooled butter,
vanilla, and anise seed. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and add to the egg mixture, mixing until very thick and smooth. (Batter will be slightly glossy.)

The batter should be stiff enough to be dropped by a scant tablespoon into the center of a preheated pizzelle iron/maker. Close and clamp the lid; bake until steaming abates, about 30 to 45 seconds. Cookies should be very pale golden or barely browned at all.  Remove carefully to a wire rack; cool completely before storing. 

This cookie is somewhat fragile, so handle with care. Store in a tightly covered tin with waxed paper between layers. The flavor improves overnight. An excellent make-ahead cookie that keeps well for a week to ten days.

NOTE: The batter can be covered tightly and refrigerated to be used up to 24 hrs. later, if desired. 

Makes about six dozen.