Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chipper Pie

This pie got its name not only from one of its ingredients but also from the mood it will instantly put you in when you take a bite☺ If you want to cheer someone up (even yourself), make this pie - the smell as it's baking alone is aromatherapy for the soul, I promise!


1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 325°F. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars until combined.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.  Mix in flour and salt just until incorporated.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Spread evenly into unbaked pie shell. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack or serve slightly warmed. It is really good served warm with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, caramel syrup . . .

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I rarely make a single batch of these cookies to give you an indication of how much our family enjoys them☺  I slightly adapted this recipe from another food blog (see name below) and it is the first time I've seen a Snickerdoodle recipe without cream of tartar as an ingredient.  You will taste butter and cinnamon in these sugary pillows of yum!


1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon cinnamon for rolling


In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg and vanilla, mixing until well combined. Mix in flour, baking powder, and salt until dough comes together. Add the milk. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. Combine dipping sugar and cinnamon in a bowl big enough to roll dough balls. Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove dough from fridge. Scoop into 1 ½” balls (I use a medium size cookie scoop). Roll in cinnamon sugar mixture and place on baking sheet. Lightly press down on dough to flatten. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove to rack to cool.

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tastes Like A Pierogi Bake

Pierogis are a polish dumpling (similar to a ravioli) that I grew up eating a lot of in Western Pennsylvania for lenten dinners. Among other things they can be filled with sauerkraut, prunes (!!!), but we usually always had potato and cheese ones served with pan fried onions.  The smell of onions caramelizing in butter always draws me to the kitchen and when you add them to the mashed potato layer in this casserole to top off the pasta layer and take a bite, it tastes so much like an actual pierogi! This recipe may have a few steps but it takes much less time than making enough pierogis to feed a large family.


2 pounds potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 pound curly pasta (farfalle, rotelli, egg noodles)
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
4 oz. cream cheese, softened 
1/2 cup butter, divided
1 tsp. salt
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated


Preheat oven to 350 F. Peel potatoes, chop into quarters and boil until tender, about 30 minutes. While potatoes are boiling, cook pasta according to directions. When pasta is done, drain and stir in 4 tablespoons of butter. Spread in bottom of a 13" x 9" baking dish. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil until caramelized. When potatoes are done, drain and mash with 4 tablespoons of butter, cream cheese and salt. Make sure no lumps remain. Fold in onions. Scoop mashed potato mixture over top of pasta layer and spread evenly. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle cheddar cheese all over top allowing it to melt before serving.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Cinnamon Crumb Cake

I slightly adapted this crumb cake from an article in a Cooking Light Magazine in the late 90's and have always surprised people with the fact that it is reduced in fat and calories.  I particularly like the fact that it reduces both using real butter, sugar and egg.  The butter and cinnamon flavors both stand out in this family favorite morning treat.


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chilled butter, cubed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg


Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8" round cake pan and set aside. In a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. (You can also use a bowl and pastry cutter or fork to do this.) Set aside 1/2 cup flour mixture for topping.

Place remaining flour mixture in a bowl and whisk in baking powder and baking soda. Mix in the buttermilk, vanilla, and egg at medium speed of a mixer until blended. Spoon batter into cake pan. Sprinkle reserved 1/2 cup flour mixture over batter. Bake at for 20-30 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool on a wire rack. Slice into 8 pie shaped wedges.

Adapted from: Cooking Light Magazine Cinnamon Crumb Cake

Saturday, January 26, 2013


My Grandma P. made the best gingersnaps and her recipe is what I based this one on. I have made a few changes to make it more healthy using coconut oil instead of shortening, reduced the sugar a little and replaced some of the white flour with white whole wheat flour. Any health benefit to a cookie that still tastes great is a good thing, right?  So . . . have a second and a third?


2/3 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 cup white wheat flour
1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 cup sugar


In a mixing bowl, combine coconut oil, sugar, molasses and egg; beat well. Whisk remaining ingredients together in a separate bowl and add to first mixture, mixing well. Chill dough for at least 1 hour. Roll into 1" balls and roll in sugar. Place 2" apart on cookie sheets. Bake at 375°F: 8-10 minutes for soft cookies and 15 minutes for crisp cookies.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pasta and Broccoli

If you love broccoli, you'll love this recipe. If you hate broccoli, this recipe might make you like it - the pasta, garlic and parmesan really enhance the sweetness of the broccoli.  Give it a try!  If you use whole wheat pasta in this dish, you'll have a trifecta with the garlic, whole wheat and broccoli on the good for you front ☺Then you can make my Texas Sheet Layer Cake for dessert - it's all about balance, right?


1 head Broccoli
1/2 pound pasta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp. salt, kosher
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup parmesan cheese


Boil pasta per package directions. Cut broccoli into 1" pieces including stem. In the last 5 minutes of cooking time of pasta, add broccoli to water and let cook with pasta.  Drain all together into colander when pasta is done, reserving 1/2 cup of water to the side. While pasta is cooking, heat oil in frying pan and add garlic to brown and release flavor into oil.  Do NOT burn! Remove from heat as soon as garlic browns. In serving bowl, toss pasta, broccoli, oil/garlic mixture, salt and pepper. Mix and add water as needed to coat well. Add cheese and taste for seasoning. Serve with additional cheese or shaved Parmesan curls.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

T's Texas Sheet Cake - Jelly Roll Pan Size

I loved eating this cake growing up. It freezes really well also.  The recipe includes pecans as an option, but you can see by the picture I used sprinkles that add fun to any cake! (If you need to make cake for a bigger crowd then refer to my recipe for a half sheet pan.)


1 cup butter        
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup coffee  
1/4 cup cocoa powder    
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour       
1 tsp. baking soda      
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk      
1 tsp. vanilla                    
1/2 cup butter    
1/4 cup cocoa powder
6 - 8 T. milk    
1 lb. powdered sugar       
1 tsp. vanilla
Garnish: (optional)
1 cup pecans, dry-roasted or Sprinkles


CakePreheat oven to 400°F. Grease and flour a jelly roll pan (15" x 10" x 1"). In a medium saucepan, bring butter, water, coffee and cocoa powder to a boil, stirring constantly, over medium heat. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla and mix well. Add the cocoa mixture over and blend well. Spread evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 15 - 20 minutes. Prepare the frosting.

Frosting: In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the butter, cocoa powder and milk to a boil. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; mix until smooth. Spread over warm cake. If using garnish, sprinkle with pecans or sprinkles and lightly press into frosting.

Topic: Organic Food Buying

WebMD has a helpful article that evaluates the benefits and questions the necessity of buying organic food. It also gives great tips on washing produce.  The agency often quoted in articles discussing organic produce is EWG (Environmental Working Group). Their website has a buying guide of what they call the Clean 15™ and Dirty Dozen™.  Those are lists that are based on pesticide contents in foods that are then classified as either "clean" or "dirty" which then steers you toward buying choices. The site has a FAQ section as well as several videos from Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.  For me personally, it is very important to include fruits and vegetables in my family's diet.  I have had cancer twice in the past 4 years (thyroid and Non-Hodkins Lymphoma) so I now pay close attention to the additives in the foods we eat.  I have been driven to learn a lot more about diet and nutrition. Pesticides in our food is one aspect I have become more concerned with and try to exert more control over when choosing food for our family.  That is just my opinion based on my experience.  (These links are just informational and I haven't been paid for this post.)

Chilaquiles Casserole

This recipe is based on one from Mollie Katzen's cookbook Honest Pretzels.  My older sister introduced us to the recipe years ago when she came to visit us.  It's a favorite of my 3 nieces and one that kids can help make.  I've changed it slightly to suit our family's tastes.  We love to serve a spanish rice and salad along with it for a meat free meal.  Our picky 10 year licks his plate clean with this dish!


12 corn tortillas
2 cups cheddar cheese
4 eggs
1 tsp. seasoned salt
2 cups buttermilk
4 oz. can green chiles, chopped
sour cream


Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 13" x 9" baking dish. Cut or tear 6 tortillas into 1" sized pieces and distribute over bottom of pan. Spread one cup of cheese on top. Repeat layering of tortillas and cheese with other 6 tortillas and cup of cheese. Sprinkle green chiles all over top of cheese. In a small bowl mix eggs, salt and buttermilk together. Pour over the top of the tortillas/cheese. Bake for 35-40 minutes until center is set. Cut into squares and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Busy Day Banana Bread

You read that correctly - a 5 ingredient banana bread that's moist and tastes like fresh bananas. It mixes up in minutes and can bake while you are making dinner, doing laundry, reading, watching TV - just remember to watch the timer ☺ I have a beloved recipe with many more ingredients that has been my favorite for over 20 years, but this one may take its place considering how easy it is.  We have enjoyed spreading nutella and peanut butter on slices of it for breakfast  . . . and lunch . . . and afternoon snacks . . .and . . .


3/4 c. brown sugar
2 fresh eggs
2 T butter, melted or coconut oil
1 c. mashed bananas (approx. 2 medium)
2 c. Homemade Baking Mix


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour pan. In medium bowl, mix all ingredients until well combined. Pour all of the batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45 - 55 minutes or until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan then transfer to a cooling rack.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pumpkin Oatmeal

When you want a hot breakfast that smells like you've been baking, but has the ease and familiarity of your morning cereal, make this oatmeal. It will warm you with its flavors of pumpkin, brown sugar and spices. Mmmmm.


1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz.)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cups water
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
Maple syrup, Cream, Pecans for garnish


In large saucepan over high heat, combine the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, water, milk, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Bring to a boil. Add the oatmeal. Turn the heat down and cook according to your oatmeal instructions; stirring often. Garnish with syrup, cream and pecans if desired.

Adapted from Aarti Sequira's Pumpkin Oatmeal

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chocolate² Bundt Cake

This cake is  moist, chocolaty and easy to make. It is perfect to have on hand if you have a friend stop by to chat or when you just need something chocolate.  Bake and take it if you've been asked to bring a dessert (anyone remember the bundt cake scene from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"? ).  Oh, and it's one of those cakes that I think tastes even better the next day so be sure and save some so you can test my theory and see if you agree ☺ That'll make eating cake for science or something like that and maybe that makes it less calories?  Should we test that theory too? It's for science after all ☺


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 cups mini chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour bundt pan. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add water, oil, eggs and sour cream in a large bowl with the mixer at low speed until just moistened. Kick up the speed to medium and mix about 2 more minutes. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into pan and bake 40-50 minutes until cake tester inserted into center is clean when removed. Glaze with icing of choice if desired.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Giant Cinnamon Roll

Have you ever eaten a cinnamon roll that was so amazing that you wanted another one right away? And then another one? Well, if you make this giant cinnamon roll, then you can eat to your heart's content.  Actually, it's meant to serve 8 so how you choose to share is up to you ☺ It bakes up as beautifully and makes a stunning presentation on any table.  The recipe makes two so it's perfect for making one for you and sharing one with someone you like or want to have like you because this will pretty much guarantee that they will!


3/4 cup buttermilk
6 T. butter
3 large eggs
4 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 T. cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup half and half
1 tsp. vanilla extract


Warm the buttermilk for 1 minute in the microwave. Add butter and stir together to melt the butter and cool the mixture a bit. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt together. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and eggs and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes. Increase the mixer to medium speed and mix the dough until it is smooth and elastic for 2 more minutes. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size. 

Lightly grease or spray two 8" round cake pans. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together. When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter and roll it into a 18 by 14-inch rectangle. Spread the softened butter over the rectangle. Sprinkle on the brown sugar mixture. Roll into a log starting from long side up. Pinch the seam closed. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the log down the middle lengthwise. To form your first "giant roll," start to lightly coil a log with the cut side facing out.  You will have some filling fall out but just keep coiling and transfer to cake pan.  Place loosely centered in pan to allow room for rising.  Repeat with second one. Cover pans with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise for 30 - 40 minutes. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, until golden. 

To make glaze, whisk all ingredients in a small bowl. It should be thick yet pourable. Drizzle over warm rolls.

Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Kick the Can Crescents

When you bake these rolls,  the smell will draw your family into your kitchen to see what you are making.  The smell of bread baking is one of the best smells ever in my opinion.  Limiting myself to two of these is difficult especially when they are warm.  I'm embarrassed to admit that our family has been guilty on more than one occasion of eating all the rolls before they ever made it to the table ☺


1 cup milk, warmed to 120°F
¼ cup butter
3 ½ cups flour
1 envelope yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
softened butter


Warm milk and add the butter, so that it melts. Set aside to cool slightly. In a large bowl, mix together flour, yeast, sugar and salt. When the milk is the right temperature, add it to the flour mixture. Mix in the egg. Make sure the dough is well mixed, but do not knead. It will be a sticky dough. Cover and let rise until doubled in size. (The dough may also be placed in the refrigerator for up to a day at this point.) Punch the dough down, and let it rest for 5 minutes.  Turn out onto floured surface and divide into 3 equal balls. Take your first ball and roll into a thin circle. Spread a thin layer of softened butter all over the surface. Using a pizza cutter, cut the circle into 8 pieces as if cutting a pizza. Roll up each triangular piece, starting at the wide end and rolling towards the small end. Place seam-side down on a greased or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Repeat with all rolls. Cover and let rise until doubled in size. Preheat your oven to 350°F and bake the rolls for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Yield: 24 rolls
*Note: this dough can also be used in recipes to replace canned crescent roll dough.  Each third is equivalent to 1 can.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

The few minutes it takes to make these pancakes is worth it for the aroma that will fill your kitchen increasing your anticipation of taking your first bite of these tender pancakes. When your fork brings that chocolaty bite to your mouth, you will not be disappointed!


2 cups flour
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 T. baking powder
2 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups milk
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla


Whisk flour, mini chocolate chips, baking powder, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Add milk, oil, eggs and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Make pancakes in desired size in frying pan over medium heat or on an electric griddle. Serve with whipped cream, fresh fruit, more chocolate chips if desired.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Homemade Baking Mix

Occasionally I come across recipes that call for Bisquick, but that isn't a product I typically have on hand.  Several years ago I searched for a recipe to make my own version.  After trying quite a few different ones, I've settled on this one as my favorite.  I don't even know where it originally came from to credit the source for adaptation. Some of the recipes I use it in are Pumpkin Bars, Impossible Pumpkin Pie, Sausage & Cheese Appetizers and Quick Banana Bread just to name a few.  I will post them eventually ☺


2 cups flour
1 T. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cups shortening or coconut oil*


Combine all ingredients in a food processor or in a bowl with a pastry blender or fork.  Store in an airtight container.

*Coconut Oil Benefits;Dr. Oz Video on Coconut Oil

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Orange Cream Scones

These scones are the lightest ones I've ever had. They're not dry and tough. The cream does it, I'm sure, but they are SO good and fluffy with the fresh orange flavor bursting through in every bite.  They aren't overly sweet, either.  They are a perfect pair to a cup of tea or coffee for breakfast or as an afternoon treat.  I usually make them into 8 big scones, but you could easily make them smaller for a ladies' tea or little ladies' tea party.


2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup cold butter, unsalted
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. orange extract or 1/2 tsp. orange oil
zest of 1 orange (save orange to juice for glaze)
1 cup powdered sugar
juice from orange
2 T. heavy cream


Preheat oven to 375 F. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add butter and pulse until crumbs are uniform throughout.  Remove mixture to a bowl.  Add cream, extract and orange zest to flour and mix to form a dough.  It will come together and be slightly sticky.  Turn out onto parchment or silpat lined sheet pan and form into 8" flat circle.  Cut into 8 triangles and arrange on cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes until golden.  Remove to wire rack to cool.  Glaze while slightly warm. To make glaze, mix all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth (you want it on the thick side).

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cheater Caesar Dressing

This salad dressing whips up in no time and will make you feel like a fancy chef!  Squeezing a lemon and pressing a garlic clove will each take you a few seconds but the payoff in fresh taste really kicks up the flavor exponentially.  That being said, if you hate garlic, leave it out.  If you love garlic, add another clove or two (as long as all of your guests are eating the same dressing!) If you have any leftover dressing, coat some chunky bread cubes with it and bake them until golden for some tasty croutons for your next salad.


2 T. lemon juice
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated


Whisk lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, dijon, salt, pepper, garlic and mayonnaise until smooth.  Add olive oil to mixture in a steady stream while continuously whisking until well blended.  Stir in cheese.  Keep refrigerated.  Yield: 1 cup or 8 servings

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Coming Soon . . .

Giant Cinnamon Roll

Quick & Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here is the chocolate chip cookie recipe for when you want a chocolate chip cookie now! Seriously, they are ready in less than 30 minutes. That's less time than it would take to run to the store to buy some.  Preheat the oven, melt some butter, crack some eggs and put on your favorite sitcom or sit with your favorite book while you let the delicious, comforting aroma waft through your kitchen. Better get a napkin for that drool . . . and a glass of milk for when the timer dings :)


1 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 bag or 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt butter either in a saucepan or in microwave. Add to sugars in mixing bowl. Whisk until no lumps remain. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Once mixture has cooled, add the egg and vanilla and mix until blended. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix just until incorporated - it will appear almost soupy. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scoop dough onto cookie sheets, about 2" apart (I use a medium cookie scoop). Bake for 10 - 12 minutes until golden. Yield: 36