December 14, 2013

The Best French Toast Sandwich

This is the ultimate in French Toast! Banana, peanut butter, and honey...what a super combination. Then dip this sandwich into a flavored egg mixture and toast it up!

What you will need to make 2 sandwiches...
4 slices of white or wheat bread with crusts removed
one banana cut in half and then sliced into 4's
2 T. peanut butter
a drizzle of honey

Place 4 sliced of bread on cutting board. Spread peanut butter on 2 of the slices and the cut banana on the other 2 slices. Drizzle the honey over the banana and close up the sandwiches. Then whisk together...

one egg
3 T half 'n half
1 teaspoon vanilla
and if you are making the grown up version, add one T. of spiced rum

Dip the sandwiches in the egg mixture and coat well. Then place them on a hot griddle prepared with cooking spray. Grill until the bread turns a golden color. remove from heat, cut each sandwich in half and serve with maple syrup and fresh blueberries!


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December 4, 2013

Sweet and Crunchy Walnuts

I say that when you have a great recipe then you need to share it! And this my friends is one of my favorites. I have been making these walnuts for almost 20 year now, and every time they get rave reviews. Of course when I started making this recipe walnuts did not cost $6.99 a pound, so these days I will typically make them to give as gifts. The method for making this recipe is very easy, the trick is to cook the nuts on a low oven setting over the period of an hour.

To make this treat you will need...

1 lb walnut pieces
Whites from 2 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

And here's what you need to do...

Heat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit and have a 15 1/2 inch x 10 1/2inch jellyroll pan ready. Beat the egg whites with an electric hand beater in a large bowl until they form soft peaks when the beaters are lifted. Gradually add the brown sugar and continue beating until the mixture becomes glossy. Stir in the melted butter and then add the walnuts and mix until the nuts are completely coated.

 Spread them out on the jellyroll sheet and place in prepared oven. Bake for one hour or until the mixture is dry, stirring the nuts every 15 minutes with a cookie spatula.

Let them cool completely and then enjoy!

November 15, 2013

Homemade Cranberry Sauce with a Hint of Orange

Growing up we always had the jellied cranberry sauce out of the can with our Thanksgiving dinners, and of course I always loved it. But as I started to do more cooking as an adult, along with my changing taste, I wanted to make more of the canned items I liked as a kid from fresh ingredients. This recipe is unique in the way that it incorporates a little citrus tang to the flavor of the cranberries. Also instead of using all white sugar in this recipe, brown sugar is used to give the sauce a little bit of a richer flavor. Then there is the optional liquor you can add to the cranberry sauce.

1 12oz bag of fresh cranberries
3/4  cup orange juice
2/3 cup of brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
2 T. of orange liqueur (optional)

Rinse off the cranberries and place them in a pot along with the orange juice and sugars. Heat pot over medium high heat and stir. Once the mixture becomes hot you will begin to hear the cranberries pop. Let cook for 15-20 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and add your liqueur. Let mixture cool and store in the frig. The cranberry sauce will jell up as it cools down.

Shred some orange peel for garnish and enjoy!

Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving day!

God Bless!!


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October 24, 2013

A Maple and Candied Walnut Layer Cake

 What better way to celebrate the autumn than with walnuts and maple syrup. I just looooove maple syrup. So when I saw this recipe for a maple and candied walnut cake in my new issue of Taste of Home magazine I fell head over heels for it!

For the cake...

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp maple syrup
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup of buttermilk

To make the candied walnuts...

1 tsp. unsalted butter, 
1 1/2 cups of coarsely chopper walnuts
1 tsp. maple syrup
1/4 tsp. salt

For the frosting...
2 1/2 cups of butter (Salted), softened
6 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 to 1/2 cup of half-n-half
1 T maple syrup divided

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line the bottom of 3 cake pans with parchment paper cut to fit. Spray the parchment and pans with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar until blended then add the 3 eggs, beating well after each one. Then add the maple syrup.

In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then alternating the flour and the butter milk, add them to the butter mixture again beating well after each addition. Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared cake pans and bake in the oven for  13-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes our clean. Cool the cakes in their pans for about 10 minutes and then move them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

In a large heavy skillet, melt the butter for the candied walnuts. Add the walnuts to the butter and cook while stirring constantly until nuts are toasted. Add the maple syrup and salt and cook for one more minute. Remove from heat and transfer to  a heat proof bowl to let cool.

For the frosting beat the butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Begin to beat in the confectioner's sugar and the half-n-half, alternation the dry with the wet. Add enough of the liquid until you get the desired consistency for your frosting. Add the maple syrup and beat for one more minute.

Place one cake on your plate or cake dish and spread about a cup of frosting on top. Sprinkle on top of the frosting 1/2 cup of the candied walnuts, then drizzle with 1 T. of maple syrup. Repeat layers. Top with the last layer and then frost the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkling with the remaining walnuts and drizzle with the last of the maple syrup.


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October 21, 2013

A Positively Perfect Pumpkin Russian

Here's another super delicious way of celebrating Autumn with one of my favorite flavors of the season, pumpkin. Only this time it is in  liquid form. Look at that fabulous pumpkin color...don't you just want to pick up the glass and take a sip right now?

This tasty adult treat was made with both pumpkin and coffee liqueurs, plus some pumpkin vodka and light cream.

Here are the amounts you need to make a perfect Pumpkin Russians.

1 part coffee liqueur
3 parts Pumpkin liqueur
1 part vodka
1 part light cream ( I used fat free and it still tastes yummy)

I then put it in my cocktail shaker with some ice and shook my little heart out!. But you can easily mix it and then pour it over some ice...either way it is still scrumptilly-ishes!

You can even go ahead and garnish the drink with a spicy cinnamon stick!

This is definitely on my radar for a very Happy Halloween night!


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October 15, 2013

Super Easy Pumpkin Pancakes

My kids have been on a HUGE pancake kick lately, I suppose it's the cool fall weather making them want something hot in their bellies. Well anyway yesterday I got it into my head that I wanted to make pumpkin pancakes, so I did an internet search for homemade pumpkin pancake recipes. And while I did find a few, when I tried making them they came out really heavy and way too moist. I had to laugh, the first recipe I tried the pancakes were actually orange! I just couldn't get a dang good looking fluffy pumpkin pancake to come out no matter what I did. After numerous tries, almost 2 hours in the kitchen and about half a canister of flour all used up, I though maybe it's time to throw in the proverbial towel!

But hey that simply is not me, and I refused to be defeated by a pancake! So being someone who is typically willing to take a short cut if I can, especially when it comes to baking, (with the exception of always making my own pie crusts) I thought why not just use a boxed pancake mix and doctor it up, and that's what I did!

Make the pancake batter according to the box directions. 
For 6-8 pancakes add the following...

1 tsp Pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 T of pure pumpkin puree, not filling
and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract.

Then just cook the pancakes on your griddle as usual.

To make the Ginger Spiced Maple Syrup do this...

Heat 1/2 cup of maple syrup on the stove just until warm, don't boil. Then add a pinch of ground ginger and stir until dissolved. Test the flavor and add more if desired. Just make sure you add the ginger a little at a time, if too much goes in it will make the syrup way too bite-y. Let cool and store in frig in an airtight container.

A little whipped cream along with some ginger spiced maple syrup, and you have an awesome autumn breakfast!!

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October 8, 2013

Fabulous Fall Pasta and Tomato Toss

Last week when my sister Kim came up to celebrate Grace's 11th birthday, she brought with her a huge bag of tomatoes which was the last of what she grew in her garden this year. There is nothing I love more than fresh tomatoes but you have to use them up quick or you will find yourself sharing your kitchen with a whole bunch of fruit flies. Anyhow we had spaghetti and meatballs for Grace's birthday dinner and needless to say I made WAY more pasta than we could have possibly consumed, so the balance of what we didn't eat went right into the frig. NOW WHAT IS A GIRL TO DO??? I have about a pound of leftover cooked pasta with all these gorgeous tomatoes, plenty of garlic, a cupboard full of white beans which I love, and some shrimp in the freezer. So I began putting these ingredients together and came up with this pasta dish which can be served as an entree...OR and as a lovely appetizer!


3-4 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic minced
3-4 whole ripe tomatoes diced
Small white beans, I used about a cup
1/4 cup fresh parsley plus some for garnish
8-10 large white shrimp shelled and deveined ( you can also cut them in half if you prefer)
Leftover cooked spaghetti about 2 cups (whole wheat works fine...that us what I typically use)
Shredded Parmesan cheese, about 1/4 cup
Some crushed red pepper to your liking (optional)
Fresh cracked black pepper and sea salt to season

Heat olive oil in medium sized pan and add the garlic, let simmer on low to medium heat just until garlic is soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley and beans and saute for another two minutes. Add the spaghetti and heat then toss in the shrimp and heat through until they turn light pink. Remove from heat and season the crushed red pepper, black pepper and sea salt. Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. 

Serve with a crusty bread and a glass of Pinot Grigio.
Enjoy and

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October 7, 2013

Frighteningly Yummy Halloween Bark

Who doesn't love the combination of salty and sweet? This bark has salty pretzels and peanuts mixed with milk chocolate M $ M's and crumbled Oreo cookie, all nestled in a white chocolate! 

This is fun to make with the kids too!

And the method to making this tasty treat could not be more simple.

Ingredient amounts..
24 ounces of white chocolate or Almond Bark. Both can be found at you local Walmart.
1 cup coarsely chopped pretzels
10 coarsely chopped Oreo cookies
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 cup of M & M's, with the blue and green ones sorted out

In a 15 X 10 inch jelly roll pan place a sheet of aluminum foil and then coat it with cooking spray.

Place the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. If using the almond bark, make sure you have broken the squares apart for even melting. Place in the microwave and cook it on high for one minute. Check the chocolate to make sure it is getting soft. Place back in microwave and cook for 15 seconds, stir and then return to the microwave and repeat until the chocolate is completely melted. Spread chocolate evenly on the prepared jelly roll pan. Sprinkle the nuts, candy, cookie and pretzel on the top of the melted chocolate and gently press them in. 

Let set for one hour or refrigerate for about 20 minutes.  Break the bark into pieces and store in a plastic bag.


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September 30, 2013

Delicate Brussels Sprouts Salad

A few weeks ago while in New Orleans, I had the opportunity to take my beautiful niece Meghan out for a pre-birthday dinner. I told Meghan it was her choice so she selected a restaurant right in the heart of the French Quarter called Sylvain. A most excellent choice I may add!

Oh there is Meghan now...told you she was beautiful! This is a pic of her with my daughter Grace (on the right) after last year's Philadelphia marathon!

So as an appetizer Meghan suggested either a roasted beet brushetta or this ah-mazing Brussels sprout salad. Again I said it was her choice so the salad it was! And OMGosh...this salad was like one of the B E S T things I've ever put into my mouth! It was served on a plate and we split it up between the two of us, and at that point I told Meghan I could have made a meal of the salad itself.  

Since I've been home I have been searching for a Brussels sprouts salad recipe that would come close to what I had. I did find several recipes much to my surprise...even one from Jane Fonda who raved about Sylvain's B.S. salad. So finally I kind of put it together and came up with this recipe.


 (You can always play with the proportions to make it more to your liking.)

8 oz of Brussels sprouts, sliced lengthwise with hard center discarded
1/2 cup of shelled hazelnuts toasted and cut in half
1/2 cup Pecorino romano cheese broken into small pieces
Fuji apple diced

For the dressing

3 T olive oil
3 T honey
3 T white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard

Whisk together the dressing ingredients and toss with the salad ingredients. Season with a little salt.


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September 23, 2013

Rustic Cauliflower and Broccoli Tartlets

Oh my it is Monday and it is FALL! My favorite thyme (yes thyme as in the herb) of the year. And there is nothing I lo-o-o-ove more than a savory cheesy baked good. This recipe came from the blog Sylvia's Simple Life and it is a fabulous tasting delight. 

Originally this recipe is made as a tart, which I did make this past Friday and devoured with my gal pal Peggy (or Pegs as I like to call her) while our kids and my hubster ate pizza pie. The crust of this tart is wonderful as it is seasoned with paprika and thyme which gives it a hearty flavor. Then there are the veggies and the cheese...oh yeah, I used lots of 

We girls paired the tart with white wine, sauteed spinach and some crispy sliced apple to round out our evening meal. Everything worked just perfect together!

So today I recreated the same dish only this thyme I made individual crusts and baked them in a muffin tin. 

Makes 12-14 tartlets
(Unfortunately while I was outside shooting my photos for this post I turned my back for just a minute, and in that time our neighbor's dang dog Zoey had come by and polished off 5 of the 12 tartlets! Ugh!!!) are the ingredients you will need.

1 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
1/1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried thyme (I use a little more)
pinch of salt
5 1/2 T butter, softened
3-5 T cold water

1 /12 cups of cauliflower florets
1 cup of broccoli 
1 onion cut in wedges or as I happen to have on hand, 2 leeks sliced using only the white and light green parts
2 T butter
2 T flour
1/3 cup vegetable stock
1/2 c milk
3/4 c. grater cheese ( I used Asaigio cheese)
Paprika to garnish

In large bowl mix together the first four dry ingredients. Then using a pastry blender or forks, cut into the dry ingredients with the butter. Once blended add the water and then form dough into a ball. Place the ball in it bowl in the frig for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime place all of your veggies in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain and set aside.

To make the crusts, remove the dough from the frig and roll out onto a floured surface with a rolling pin. Once the dough is flat use a glass or round cookie cutter and cut out your circles. It's OK if the shape is a little smaller that the tin's muffin cups because you can just roll out each circle to extend it's size. Place each circle of dough into a muffin cup sprayed with cooking spray. Do this by gently pushing the circle down into the cup and press it up against its sides. Pierce the dough with a fork and bake for about 15 minutes in an oven set at 375 degrees F.

In another smaller pot melt the 2 T of butter and then add your flour to make a roux. Add the vegetable stock and milk and stir until thickened, then add 1/2 cup of cheese.

Once the crusts are baked, add the cooked vegetables to each crust and then spoon the cheese mixture on top. Sprinke with remaining cheeses and bake until the top is bubbly and golden brown, about 13-15 minutes. 

Garnish with paprika if desired and enjoy!

While you are noshing on your freshly baked tartlets and enjoying it with a glass of your favorite wine, take a hop on over to Sylvia's Simple Life. Sylvia's blog is filled with beautiful images, wonderful recipes and stories. I promise you will not be disappointed!

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September 17, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake Brownies

This is a decadent little brownie which I am sure is not part of anyone's weight loss regime.  But hey you've got to splurge every once in a while right? This recipe has two parts, the cake-like bottom and a creamy top...all in chocolate hazelnut! I used 16 ounces of cream cheese along with 8 eggs and an entire jar of hazelnut spread. I then decided to add some toffee bites to the top to provide a crunchy contrast to the brownie's creaminess, and the little bit of toffee saltiness highlights the chocolate flavor.


2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of powdered cocoa like Hershey's
8 eggs
2 1/2 cups of sugar
1 13 or 14 oz jar of chocolate-hazelnut spread
1 1/3 cups of butter, melted and cooled
2 8 oz. pkg. of Neufchatel cream cheese, softened
Heath English Toffee Bites

 First preheat your oven to 325 degrees and spray coat a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan with cooking spray, then set it aside. Next in a medium mixing bowl, mix together the flour and cocoa.

In a large mixing bowl beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed...4 of the eggs with the sugar, 1/2 cup of the hazelnut spread and the melted butter until combined  Now fold in the flour mixture and beat until smooth. Pour this mixture into your prepared pan and spread it out evenly.

Wash the mixer's beaters and in another large bowl beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in 4 eggs and remaining hazelnut spread until all ingredients are combined. Then carefully pour over the batter in the pan and spread out evenly. Place in the oven and bake for 50-55 minutes until the cheese layer is set and firm. Cover and chill before serving. Sprinkle with Heath English Toffee Bites.

Just perfect with a nice cold glass of milk!

(This recipe was adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Fall Baking 2013 issue)

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