Monday, May 23, 2016


I have this theory that some foods that are so divinely tasty are the foods we get in heaven.  Obviously we probably won't need to eat there but hey if you could choose food for a buffet in heaven what would your favorites be?  Here are my top choices along with some recipes to go with them....

1. Favorite Appetizer - GUACAMOLE
I love guacamole so much that I ate it everyday for lunch during my entire freshman year of high school.  This recipe makes some seriously heavenly guacamole!

3 medium avocados, seeded peeled,and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely minced
1 medium jalapenos, deviened seeded and diced finely or 1 can green chili
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juice of
3 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper (fresh grated)
chili pepper or adobo (dash)

Mash avocados till smooth but with some chunks.  Add rest of ingredients and mix together.

I first tasted this at a little snack bar off a Mexican themed market.  It tastes exactly like you would imagine sticking a straw in a fresh melon would taste like.  It is absolutely amazing!

2 cups cold water
2 cups watermelon, rind removed, seeded and chopped into cubes
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice

In a blender or food processor, combine water, watermelon, sugar, and lime juice until smooth.
Pour mixture through a strainer into a pitcher, forcing through most of the pulp.  Chill at least 30 minutes before serving.  Serve with or without ice cubes.  As a decorative touch, add slices or chunks of watermelon

3. Favorite Soup - HOT AND SOUR SOUP
Literally every time I eat this soup it makes me so incredibly comforted and happy.  I don't know what it is about the yummy, vinegary goodness but it is definitely a cure for what ails you.

 1 1⁄4 cups water
3⁄4 cup canned bamboo shoot, drained
4 large dried shiitake mushrooms
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2 in thin strips
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
1⁄3 cup green onion, including tops, sliced
2 1⁄2 cups chicken stock
2 -3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
1 1⁄2  tablespoons cornstarch
8 ounces firm tofu, cut into 2 in thin strips
2 tablespoons rice vinegar or 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1⁄4 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce (to taste)

In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of the water to a boil. Place the bamboo shoots in a small heatproof bowl and pour 1/2 cup of the boiling water over them; let soak for 5 minutes then drain. Add the dried mushrooms to the water to the water remaining in the saucepan and let soak for 15 minutes. Drain the mushrooms through a sieve, reserving the soaking liquid. Slice the mushrooms, discarding the stems.  In a large saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the chicken and sauté for 4 minutes or until no longer pink on the outside. Add the soaked mushrooms, fresh mushrooms, green onions, stock, soy sauce, honey, and mushroom soaking liquid. Bring the sauce pan mixture to a simmer.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with the remaining 1/4 cup water. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the simmering soup and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the tofu, vinegar, and red pepper sauce. Cook until the tofu is heated through.

4. Favorite Salad - WILTED SPINACH SALAD
This is an old fashioned recipe that I can remember my grandmother making, it also has the sweet sour thing going on that my favorite soup does.  

4 slices bacon
2 eggs
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound spinach
1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Crumble and set aside. Reserve 2 tablespoons bacon fat.   Place eggs in a saucepan and cover completely with cold water. Bring water to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool, peel and cut in wedges. Return 2 tablespoons bacon fat to skillet, stir in sugar, vinegar, water and salt. Keep warm. Wash and remove stems from spinach, dry thoroughly and break into pieces in salad bowl. Pour warm dressing over and toss until coated. Top salad with mushrooms and bacon, garnish with egg.

5. Favorite Main Course - GRILLED BEEF BRISKET
I love bbq as long as it is made over charcoal.  There is something about the scent of charcoal that instantly has my mouth watering.  Here is a great recipe that Famous Daves uses for their brisket.

5 - 6 pounds beef brisket, lean flat only
1 cup Famous Dave’s Beef Marinate
2 tablespoons Famous Dave’s Steak and Burger seasoning
2 onions, peeled and cut into strips
6 whole garlic cloves
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef stock
1 bottle Famous Dave’s Texas Pit BBQ Sauce

Place brisket in a Ziploc bag. Pour Famous Dave’s Beef Marinate over top. Seal and refrigerate overnight. Pull brisket from bag and wipe off any excess marinate. Discard bag and marinate. Season both sides of brisket with Famous Dave’s Steak and Burger seasoning.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Heat heavy bottom roasting pan on medium heat with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add brisket and brown both sides until a crust forms. Remove brisket and set aside. Add onions and garlic to pan and brown, stirring frequently. Add red wine and scrape bottom of pan to reduce any yummy bits. Reduce wine by half.Add brisket back into pan placing over onions and garlic. Pour in beef stock and bring to a boil. Cover pan with lid or foil. Place in oven and roast for 2 hours.   Remove brisket from oven, and skim off any fat that has formed on top. Stir in Famous Dave’s Texas Pit BBQ Sauce and recover and place back into oven for additional 45 minutes to 1 hour or until fork tender.  Remove brisket from pan and slice across grain into 1/4 inch slices. Spoon sauce over and serve.

The name on this says it all - decadent appetizer meets comfort food creamy side dish, what's not to love?

5 red potatoes, cubed
salt to taste
1/2 cup butter, divided
5 green onions, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced, or more to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream

Place potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and transfer potatoes to a large bowl.  Melt 1/4 cup butter in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir green onions, jalapeno pepper, and garlic until soft and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Mix green onion mixture and cream cheese together in a bowl; add remaining 1/4 cup butter and stir until butter melts. Add sour cream and mix well.  Mix cream cheese mixture with the potatoes using a potato masher until most of the lumps are gone; season with salt.

If ever a cake would be called divine, then this is it!  This cake is made completely by scratch but it really isn't as hard as it sounds and the taste is eye rolling back in your head good!

2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Frosting Ingredients
3/4 cup butter (or margarine)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
5 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. This cake is known for sticking, you may want to cut out parchment circles to fit your pan, place in bottom of pan. If you use cocoa powder instead of flour, you won't get that white residue.  Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans (note that the batter will be thin, it's supposed to be - promise!).  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely. The times are approximate, it can take longer depending on the weather and your oven.  To make the frosting, use the second set of ingredients. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Stir in the cocoa and confectioners' sugar alternately with the milk and vanilla. Beat to a spreading consistency.  Split the layers of cooled cake horizontally, cover the top of each layer with frosting, then stack them onto a serving plate. Frost the outside of the cake.

Monday, February 29, 2016


Easter this year is coming early!  Easter Sunday will be March 27, 2016.  Here's a perfect spring meal that is filling and comforting.  Perfect for those who have worked up an appetite during an egg hunt!

Easter Dinner

Deviled eggs

Aretha Franklin Baked Ham

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Sweet Potatoes

Soul Food Potato Salad

Fresh Steamed Asparagus

Jiffy Corn Muffins

Flo’s Millionaire Pie

Deviled eggs are always best with a bit of spice to liven them up! 


12 eggs hard boiled & peeled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sweet relish
1/4 cup onions, finely diced
½ Tablespoon mustard
1 drop of Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon of Old Bay or Seasoning salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Slice the eggs vertically and place yolks in a large bowl.   Mash up the yolks. Stir in the mayo, relish, dill, onions, mustard, Tabasco, seasoning salt, black pepper, & garlic powder.  Pipe or spoon the yolk mixture into the eggs. Sprinkle with paprika.  Chill until cold and serve.

This is hands down the Best baked ham I have ever tried!  It certainly earns my RESPECT J


1 (12 -14 lb) fully cooked bone-in ham
whole cloves
1 (16 ounce) box light brown sugar
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 (8 ounce) jar maraschino cherries, drained
1 (12 ounce) ginger ale (golden is best if you can find it ( but pale is ok too)
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple rings
baker's coconut (to garnish) (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Using a paring knife, score the ham, creating a diamond pattern. Insert cloves into the corners of each diamond.  Place the ham on a rack set in a 12 x 15-inch roasting pan. Cover loosely with foil, and bake until ham appears juicy, about 30 minutes.  Place brown sugar and mustard in a medium bowl, and stir to combine.  Gradually add ginger ale to brown sugar mixture until a pourable consistency is achieved; you may not need the whole can.  Remove ham from oven and remove foil. Pour brown sugar mixture over ham. Make sure you coat the sides too.  Cover ham with foil, return to oven, and cook for 1 hour, basting every 20 minutes.  Remove foil for last 20 minutes.  Remove ham from oven.  Arrange pineapple rings and maraschino cherries in a docorative pattern on ham, securing them with toothpicks.  Baste the fruit.  Bake ham until fruit is heated through, 7 to 10 minutes.  Sprinkle ham with coconut garnish, if desired
I think if I ever left this dish off a holiday menu there would be a major revolt in our family!


10 ounces elbow macaroni
1 (8 ounce) packages shredded sharp cheddar cheese ( 2cups)
1 (8 ounce) packages Velveeta cheese, pasteurized processed cheese, cut up
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
3 eggs, slightly beaten
2 (10 3/4 ounce) cans condensed cheddar cheese soup
1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper ( white if you have it)
Let cheeses and butter stand at room temperature.  Cook macaroni according to package directions until almost al dente'.Drain macaroni and transfer to a large bowl.  Add 1 cup shredded cheese and Velveeta cubes to hot pasta and stir gently til cheeses start to melt.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, butter, soup, salt and pepper.  Stir this mixture into the cooked macaroni mixture.  Transfer half into a 13x9 sprayed baking dish.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.  Top with remaining macaroni mixture.  Bake covered at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.  Uncover.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.  Return to oven and bake 15 minutes more until cheese is melted and bubbly brown.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving to meld flavors.

 Sweet potatoes and ham just go together like Bert & Ernie, I can’t imagine one without the other!


1 (40 ounce) can bruce cut yams, drained
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 (16 ounce) bag miniature marshmallows

Butter 1 quart baking dish.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mash yams in a large bowl and add brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, egg, and melted butter.  Mix well.  Place 1/2 mixture in baking dish.  Top with a layer of marshmallows, then add remaining mixture.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with remaining marshmallows.  Bake for another 10 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly browned.

This potato salad is the best and easiest recipe you can find!


7 large potatoes, boiled & peeled
7 eggs, hard-boiled & peeled
2 cups mayonnaise
1 3⁄4 cups minced onions
3⁄4 cup sweet pickle relish
3 -4 celery ribs, diced
1 teaspoon celery seed(optional)
1⁄2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
fresh ground pepper

Slice potatoes into a large serving bowl.  Coarsely chop eggs with the potatoes.  In a small mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients.  Pour dressing over potatoes and eggs, stir gently to coat all.  Garnish with slices of hard boiled eggs and a dusting of paprika. Serve chilled.
This recipe was given to me by a wonderful woman I worked with that is now passed away.  She made this almost every holiday.  It is really decadent and delicious!


1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup pecans
halved maraschino cherries (drained and patted dry) (to taste)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple
1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip
2 graham cracker pie crusts

Mix all ingredients together.  Fill pie crusts.  Refrigerate 1 hour or more.


We have two holidays this year in March!  St. Patrick's Day is March 17 and Easter Sunday is March 27.  I have dueling decorations up right now for both Easter and St. Patricks Day, I did keep all the decor in a green theme so there wouldn't be too much of a war between them.  I will be posting both the St Patrick's Day dinner I have planned and the Easter Lunch.  Here is my special Luck of the Irish dinner - easy to make and perfect for your leprechauns!

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner Menu
Corned Beef & Cabbage
Potato Rolls with Butter 
Guinness Beer and green tinted 7up
Chocolate mint pie

This corned beef recipe has the inclusion of bacon and beer which adds lots of dimensions of flavor!

3 to 4 pound corned beef brisket
5 carrots
5 potatoes, cut in chunks
1 medium head cabbage, cut in wedges
1 medium onion, peeled and cut up
3 strips crumbled bacon with bacon grease
1 (12 ounce) can beer
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup water
Seasoning packet that comes with brisket
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Put brisket in the bottom of the slow cooker and add in order bacon, potatoes, carrots, onion and cabbage on top.  Mix together remaining ingredients and pour over brisket and vegetables.  Cook on low 7 or 8 hours or high about 5 hours. 

These potato rolls are relatively easy to make since the recipe just calls for potato flakes (instant mashed potatoes).

3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package (1/4 ounce) quick-rise yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup warm water (120° to 130°)
1/2 cup warm milk (120° to 130°)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup mashed potato flakes
2 eggs
In a bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar,yeast and salt; set aside. In another bowl, combine water, milk and butter; stir in potato flakes. Let stand for 1 minute. Add to dry ingredients. Add one egg; beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 4-6 minutes. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Divide dough into 12 pieces; shape each into a ball. Place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Place a large shallow pan on the counter; fill half full with boiling water. Place baking pan containing rolls over the water-filled pan. Cover and let rise for 15 minutes. Lightly beat remaining egg; brush over rolls. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack. Yield: 1 dozen

This mint chocolate pie is the perfect cool green dessert for this occasion, guaranteed to keep all Irish eyes smiling!

2 cups crushed chocolate-covered mint cookies
3 to 4 tablespoons hot water
1 graham cracker crust (9 inches)
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
6 to 10 drops green food coloring, optional

Set aside 2 tablespoons cookie crumbs for garnish. In a small bowl, combine remaining crumbs with enough hot water to make crumbs spreadable. Spread over the graham cracker crust; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in the sugar, milk and extract until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.  If food coloring is desired, divide mixture in half and add coloring to one half. Alternately spoon mounds of plain and colored mixture into crust; swirl with a knife. Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


The Christmas Eve's I remember as a child were always filled with a certain magic.  I don't remember much of the menus other than my mom always served "fancy food" and would open the tins of cookies that she had baked the previous week.  I like to recreate that special magical feeling now with my own family every Christmas Eve.  Our menus have changed over the years but the spirit of the meal hasn't.  We still have my best dinnerware out, candlelight, cocktails and soft Christmas music playing.  I normally make my rendition of "fancy food" just as my mom did.  My company gives me a wonderful boneless ham and a sausage/cheese gift box every year so I am baking the ham and serving it with rolls for finger sandwiches, setting out a cheese plate, and making some dips and appetizers along with cookies for a fun festive Christmas party feeling.  Our favorite signature Christmas cocktail has for years been Emeril's Poinsettia Cocktail - nothing beats it, the perfect holiday drink!  Here is our menu for this year.....


Baked ham served with a basket of Hawaiian rolls

My son Max's favorite appetizer - Bacon cheese rollups

My sister Heidi's husband's family tradition - Hashbrown Casserole

Vegetable platter with classic dill dip

Retro clam dip with ruffles potato chips

Cold shrimp platter with cocktail sauce

Rotel Christmas salsa with tortilla chips

Cheese platter 

Cookie and candy platter

Poinsettia cocktails and sparkling cider 

Recipes -


1/4 cup vodka
1/4 cup Champagne
1/2 cup cranberry juice
Crushed ice
2 strips orange zest, each about 1/4-inch wide and 2 inches long

Combine the vodka, Champagne and juice in a large-stemmed red wine glass. Add crushed ice and stir until the mixture is well chilled. Twist the orange strips over the glass, drop them in, and serve.


1 can chopped clams
1 package cream cheese
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 dash garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper
1 dash Tabasco sauce 

Mix all ingredients together in blender.  Serve with ruffle potato chips.


1 (14 ounce) can Rotel Tomatoes
1 large tomato, chopped
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 lime, juice of
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients.  To increase heat, add canned or fresh jalapenos to taste.  Serve with tortilla chips.


1 cup catsup
1 -2 tablespoon horseradish ( to your taste)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 dash pepper

Mix all ingredients and chill. Serve with chilled cooked shrimp and lemon rounds.


1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
1 (1 1/2 ounce) package Knorr vegetable soup mix
3⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 green onions, chopped fine
1 teaspoon fresh dill weed, chopped fine
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped fine

Add all ingredients together.  Mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours for flavors to meld.  Serve.


15 lbs whole bone-in ham ( I prefer Cooks SuperTrim brand)
1 lb brown sugar
1/2 cup yellow mustard
aluminum foil

In a medium size mixing bowl, mix yellow mustard and brown sugar until you have a thick"paste".  Take all wrappers off of ham and trim away excess fat.  Line baking pan (I spray with Pam in case some of the brown sugar mixture escapes, clean up is easier) with Aluminum foil.  Place ham on foil and spread brown sugar/mustard paste on top.  Fold and seal foil.  Do not open again until ham is done.  Bake at 350° for 4 hours.  Let set for about 1 hr then carve.


1 (10 ounce) cans undiluted cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper ( or to taste)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
2 cups grated cheddar cheese ( more to top after baking if desired)
1 small onion, chopped
1 (2 lb) bags frozen hash browns, thawed

Set oven to 350°F.  Butter a 13x9-inch casserole dish.  In a large bowl stir together the undiluted soup, milk, sour cream, melted butter, seasoned salt, black pepper, garlic powder and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese; whisk or mix until well combined.  Mix in the cheddar cheese, onions and hash browns.  Spread into prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with about 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.  Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.


1 cup butter, softened
3⁄4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons cream or 2 tablespoons milk
1⁄2 tsp.vanilla extract
3 cups flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Mix in the egg, milk and vanilla.  Now blend in the dry ingredients flour, baking powder and salt until dough is formed. If desired you can chill for an hour for easier handling. I've never done this and the dough always rolled out fine for me.  Divide the dough in thirds. On a lightly floured board roll out the dough to about 1/8th inch thickness. Using cookie cutters cut into shapes and place on a cookie sheet.  Bake in oven for about 5 to 8 minutes until lightly golden brown. Cool on a rack.


2 1/2 cups vanilla wafers, crushed 
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 1/4 cups powder sugar
1/2 cup rum or bourbon
2 tablespoons white corn syrup ( one brand is Karo)
1 cup pecans or 1 cup walnuts, broken

Sift the cocoa with 1 cup sugar.  Stir in the spiced rum mixed with the syrup.  Add crushed vanilla wafers and nuts.  Mix thoroughly.  Shape mixture into walnut sizes balls and dredge with remaining sugar or leave them plain.  Store in a tin.


1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon water
7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until just combined, and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.  Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale, they should each weigh 1-ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve


1⁄2 cup butter
30 large marshmallows
1⁄4 teaspoon green food coloring
4 1⁄2 cups corn flakes (I use gluten-free)
red cinnamon candies

Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepot.  Add marshmallows and stir until melted.
Remove from heat and add green food coloring; stir well.  Add cereal; stir until evely coated.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper.  Top each with three red hots (Do this quickly and they'll adhere better).  Let sit for one hour (if you can).  Store in covered container laying clusters between sheets of waxed paper.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


We have a tradition of having a special breakfast as a family every Christmas morning.  Since I hit upon this french toast recipe years ago, it is now the most requested breakfast and hence our special Christmas morning breakfast.  I make it special with bacon wrapped sausages and fruit and whipped creme offered as toppings as well as a special Christmas cup of coffee.  It is the perfect amount, not too much but special enough for such a holiday.


Denny's style french toast served with berry sauce, syrup and whipped creme

Bacon wrapped sausages

Christmas spiced coffee with brandied whip cream

Simply Orange brand orange juice

Recipes -

Berry Sauce for French Toast
4 cups of blackberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp corn starch
**1 tbsp water if using fresh berries**
Combine blackberries and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir as sugar mixes with blackberry juice and melts, about 2-3 minutes.  In a small bowl combine lemon juice and corn starch.  Stir in the lemon mixture into the blackberries.  Bring to a boil and allow to cook for another 2 minutes as the sauce thickens.

Christmas Coffee with Brandied Whipped Cream
1/4 cup chilled whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon brandy
1 cup freshly ground coffee (preferably a mild roast such s Colombian)
5 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
7 cups water
Place ground coffee, cardamom, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in coffee filter. Using spoon, mix gently. Add water to coffee maker and brew according to manufacturer's instructions.  Divide coffee among 8 cups. Garnish each with a dollop of whipped cream and serve immediately.

Denny’s Style French Toast
4 eggs
⅔ cup whole milk
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 slices thick bread (such as Texas toast)
3 tablespoons butter
powdered sugar

Whisk together eggs, milk, flour, sugar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.   Heat a large cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium/low heat. When the pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon of butter. If butter smokes, your pan is too hot, turn down the heat.   Drop each bread slice into the batter for about 30 seconds per side. Let some of the batter drip off then drop the bread into the buttered pan. Cook each battered bread slice for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Add more butter to the pan as needed to cook all the french toast.   Serve three slices of french toast per plate. Dust each serving with a little powdered sugar.

Bacon Wrapped Lil Smokies
1 (12 -16 ounce) packages bacon ( not thick sliced, thinner bacon works better, inexpensive is fine)
1 (16 ounce) packages lit'l smokies sausages
brown sugar
cinnamon sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Open the packages of bacon and cut the whole slab into thirds across the bacon pieces. I usually cut them straight out of the refrigerator while they're cold, then allow them to warm a bit before wrapping the Smokies - the bacon is more pliable when not very cold, and makes it easier to work with awkwardly-shaped pieces.  To make assembly even easier, line up pieces of bacon on your cutting board or a clean counter. Wrap each Lit'l Smokie in a 1/3-cut piece of bacon, then secure with a toothpick.  Lay wrapped Smokies on a sheet pan. Tilting the toothpick downward makes lining them up a bit easier. (If you are making a double or triple batch with a Costco-sized 3-pound package of Smokies, continue wrapping until you run of room on your sheet pan, and then - just to make the overall assembly easier - can continue wrapping until you run out of the Smokies and simply put them in a bowl until you can lay them out on another sheet pan later or when your first one is out of the oven. If you run out of bacon before Smokies, you can cut some strips of bacon lengthwise to make additional slices so that you'll have enough.).  Sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon of brown sugar on each Smokie - I simply sprinkle by hand.  Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 45 minutes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Thanksgiving is family, togetherness, thankfulness and all of those good things but if you are doing the cooking it can also be a lot of work!  This year to make it easier on the cook (namely me!) we are doing a traditional meal with slight twists to make it more flavorful and best of all not too much work!

Menu -

Old fashioned relish tray with veggies, olives, pickles, cheese, sausage, chilled shrimp

Brined and herb roasted turkey with
Homemade gravy & cheaters stuffing

side dishes
Jalapeno popper mashed potatoes
Deborah's famous collard greens
Easy to make yeast rolls
Fresh cranberry relish

Double layer pumpkin pie

Sparkling cider


Note - our relish tray will contain celery, radishes, black & green olives, green onions,  cubed cheese and summer sausage and chilled cooked shrimp with cocktail sauce


1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco

Stir all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Taste and season with more pepper as needed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.


1 1/2 cups kosher salt 
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 teaspoons peppercorns
2 oranges, quartered
3 teaspoons dried thyme
3 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 gallons water

Combine all ingredients in a stock pot, bring mixture to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minute Allow brine to cool completely.  Rinse turkey under cook running water, inside and out (remove giblets from cavity). pat turkey dry with paper towels, then immerse turkey in cooled brine. Turkey should be completely submerged in liquid. Cover the pot and refrigerate for 8-10 hours or up to 24 hours. Remove turkey, rinse, pat dry and roast as usual.


1 turkey
2 tablespoons soul seasoning (I swear by Sylvia's Secret Seasoning)
2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 stick butter
1 cup turkey broth

Butter turkey all over with butter stick and then place butter stick in cavity of turkey.  Blend all spices and rub into turkey – you may need to double this formulation depending on the size of your turkey. Place broth into turkey roasting pan, cover and bake at 350 until done.


1/2 cup butter (can use hard margarine)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (more is better, I use freshly ground pepper)
4 cups pan drippings (or see options below the recipe)

Drain the pan drippings for the roasted turkey through a fine strainer.  Let sit and then remove any fat from the top of the drippings.  Add in chicken broth or water to make 4 cups if necessary.  In a medium saucepan, melt margarine or butter.  Add in lots of black pepper.  Add in 1/2 cup flour plus 3 tablespoons; constantly whisk for about 3 minutes over low heat.  Slowly add in the 4 cups turkey broth/drippings; whisk constantly over medium-low heat until bubbly and thickened (about 3 minutes).  Use right away or keep warm over lowest heat setting, whisk again before serving.


2 medium onions, minced
2 -3 stalks celery, chopped fine
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning ( I use Bell's)
2 cups chicken broth or 2 cups turkey broth or 2 cups vegetable broth
hot water
2 (6 ounce) packages stove top-style seasoned stuffing mix

Saute onions and celery in butter.  Sprinkle with poultry seasoning.  Set aside to cool slightly.
Toss this mixture into your favorite dry stuffing mix.  Heat broth and set aside.  Read directions on your favorite stuffing mix box.  Add enough hot water to the broth to make up the required liquid needed.
(Omit butter the recipe calls for as it was already used to saute vegetables.)  Pour over stuffing/vegetables mixture and mix well.  Stuff your chicken or turkey. For a side dish place stuffing in a baking dish; cover and bake for 15 to 25 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.


5 red potatoes, cubed
salt to taste
1/2 cup butter, divided
5 green onions, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced, or more to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream

Place potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and transfer potatoes to a large bowl.  Melt 1/4 cup butter in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir green onions, jalapeno pepper, and garlic until soft and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Mix green onion mixture and cream cheese together in a bowl; add remaining 1/4 cup butter and stir until butter melts. Add sour cream and mix well.  Mix cream cheese mixture with the potatoes using a potato masher until most of the lumps are gone; season with salt.


2 (10.75 ounce) cans beef stock
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced fully cooked ham
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
6 bunches collard greens

Place beef stock, diced tomatoes with green chiles, onion, ham, vinegar, sugar, garlic powder, seasoned salt, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf in a slow cooker. Add collard greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens in order listed to slow cooker.  Cook on Low until greens are very tender, 4 to 6 hours.


12-ounce bag cranberries
1 diced peeled Granny Smith apple
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Grand Marnier
1/2 cup water 
1/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and cloves
1 lemon & 1 orange (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the berries start to pop, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the grated zest of 1 each lemon and orange (optional); chill.


1 cup warm water 
1 and 1/2 tablespoons active-dry yeast (or 2 packages) + 1 teaspoon sugar 
1/2 cup melted butter 
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
3 eggs 
1 teaspoon table salt
 4 cups all-purpose flour 

 In a large bowl combine warm water with yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar. Set aside for 5-10 minutes. Using your mixer with the dough hook attached, combine butter, sugar, eggs and salt. Add in the yeast mixture and mix to combine. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing between each cup. When the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, you’ve added enough flour. You should need about 4 cups total, give or take a little. Place the dough on a lightly floured clean working surface and knead for a minute or two. Divide the dough into 24 each pieces, then roll each piece into a smooth round ball. Prepare a 13 x 9 inch baking dish by lightly greasing it. Place the dough balls into the pan, leaving equal space between each round ball. Cover the rolls and let them rise for about 60-90 minutes, or until doubled. Preheat your oven to 375F. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown.


1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. milk, divided
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
1 ready-to-use graham cracker crumb crust (6 oz.)
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
2 pkg. (3.4 oz. each) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Beat cream cheese, 1 Tbsp. milk and sugar in large bowl with whisk until blended. Stir in half the COOL WHIP.  Spread onto bottom of crust.  Whisk remaining milk, pumpkin, dry pudding mixes and
spices 2 min. (Mixture will be thick.) Spread over cream cheese layer.  Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm. Serve topped with  remaining COOL WHIP.