Dec 22, 2016

Turtle Cookies

My Aunt Fae made these terrific cookies as a Christmas gift this year. She knows the way to my heart in combining chocolate, caramel, and pecans. So good! Thanks for the share, Fae! The original recipe comes from

1 cup all-purpose flour
cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened
cup sugar
1 large egg, separated, plus 1 additional egg white
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ cups pecans, finely chopped

Caramel Filling:
14 soft caramel candies
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Chocolate Drizzle (optional):
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 teaspoon shortening

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa, and salt. Set aside. On high speed in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat together butter and sugar for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla. Mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. Whisk egg white in a bowl until frothy. Roll cookie dough into one inch balls. Dip the cookie balls into the egg white and roll in the chopped pecans until outside is coated. Place the balls 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. With a teaspoon make a small indentation in each ball. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes or until set. 

While they are baking. prepare the caramel filling. Melt the caramel and heavy cream in the microwave stirring every 30 seconds until it is fully melted. Once the cookies are baked, make the indentation again and using a teaspoon fill each indentation with the caramel. If drizzling with chocolate, melt the chocolate and shortening in the microwave, and scoop into a ziplock bag. Barely snip the corner and drizzle over the cookies. Yield 24 cookies

Dec 9, 2016

Honey Lime Fruit Salad

This fruit salad is colorful, easy, and delicious! What more could one ask for? And you can substitute a variety of fresh fruits, depending on what you prefer and what is in season. The recipe is slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

1 (20­-ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained well, or about 1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped fresh
1 (15-­ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained well
1 cup blueberries
1 cup green grapes, halved
1 cup strawberries, quartered
Zest from one lime, about 1/2 tablespoon
1 to 2 tablespoons honey
1/2 to 1 teaspoon poppy seeds (optional)

Combine the fruit in a serving bowl. Add the lime zest and toss. Drizzle the honey over the fruit and gently mix until the fruit is evenly coated. Sprinkle the poppy seeds on top and toss to combine. Serve immediately or within an hour because some fruits may bleed and color the rest of the salad, making it less visually appealing, though it won't affect the taste. Serves 6. 

Dec 4, 2016

Skillet Chicken Pot Pie

This Chicken Pot Pie recipe from the Six Sisters' Stuff blog is very easy to put together, and it's good comfort food

2 tablespoons butter
2-3 celery stalks, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
2 red potatoes, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 package (8 ounce) cream cheese
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup peas
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely minced
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add celery, carrots, onion, and potatoes. Saute for 8-10 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Add garlic and season with salt and pepper. Mix in flour, chicken broth, and cream cheese. Let cook for 5 more minutes, stirring constantly. Fold in chicken and peas. Pour mixture into a 12-inch oven safe skillet. Roll out a sheet of puff pastry and place on top of skillet. Use a sharp knife to cut off any excess dough hanging over the sides. Whisk egg in a small bowl and brush over the top of the pot pie. Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Nov 23, 2016

Cornbread-Sausage Stuffing with Apples

Confession: for most of my family Thanksgivings, we've mainly used commercial stuffing with a few extra things added to it (water chestnuts, sausage, etc.). And I further admit that I've even thought I liked stuffing. But after trying this homemade stuffing from a recipe given to me by my friend Rachel, I can never go back. I couldn't even wait for the Thanksgiving meal to try this because it looked so good. It is heavenly! I'm thrilled that this recipe makes a large batch so that we have leftovers for multiple days.

12 tablespoons butter
2 ½ cups finely chopped yellow onion
3 tart apples (Jonathans are good), cored and chunked, do not peel
1 pound lightly seasoned bulk breakfast sausage (sage is best)
3 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread (homemade is best)
3 cups coarsely crumbled whole wheat bread
3 cups coarsely crumbled white bread (French or homemade preferred)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup chopped Italian parsley
1 ½ cups shelled pecan halves

Melt half of the butter in a skillet. Add chopped onion and cook over medium heat, partially covered, until tender and lightly colored, about 25 minutes. Transfer onions and butter to a large mixing bowl.

Melt remaining butter in the same skillet. Add apple chunks and cook over high heat until lightly colored but not mushy. Transfer apples and butter to the mixing bowl.

Crumble the sausage into the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring until lightly browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to the mixing bowl and reserve the rendered fat.

Add the remaining ingredients to the ingredients in the mixing bowl and combine gently. Cool completely before stuffing the bird; refrigerate if not used promptly.

If you do not wish to stuff the bird, spoon the stuffing mixture into a casserole. Cover casserole and bake for about 45 minutes at 325 degrees. Baste occasionally with the drippings from the bird or with the reserved sausage fat, if necessary. Leave the stuffing uncovered for the last 15 minutes of the baking time.

Note: The breads should not be dried out as in many stuffing recipes.

Enough stuffing for a 20-pound turkey, to make 12 to 14 servings.

Nov 6, 2016

Grilled Honey and Ginger Marinated Flank Steak

And another great recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, one of my favorite food blogs. I don't cook steak very often, but when it is this easy and tasty, it's tempting to do so a lot more frequently. This is a terrific main dish on its own or you can add some slices of the steak to make a fabulous salad. Also, per a note from the original Mel's Kitchen Cafe posting, you can keep "a few of these marinating flank steaks in the freezer to thaw and grill as needed. Put the marinade and steak in a freezer bag, press out the air and freeze. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then grill. Also, if you are using flank steak a few ounces either direction from the 2 pounds listed in the recipe, you should be fine without having to increase or decrease the marinade ingredients--otherwise adjust accordingly to the size of meat you are using."

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup low­ sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds (more or less) flank steak (see note above)

Whisk together all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place the flank steak in a shallow
dish (like a 9" x 13­" pan) and pour the marinade over the steak. Cover and let marinade for 8­
10 hours, flipping the steak once or twice during the marinade time. Grill the flank steak over medium heat for about 7­ to 8 minutes per side, depending on how well done you like your steak. Let the steak rest for about 10 minutes before slicing very thinly against the grain and serving.

Tomato Shrimp Cocktail Drink

This beverage was once a fairly regular feature of the Clark family Christmas season, but we got away from it at some point and the drink was temporarily lost to history. Well, I'm bringing it back now. And not just for Christmas. In fact, I have a pitcher of this chilling in my fridge right now. It's a bit like shrimp cocktail in drink form. Or a deluxe tomato juice, if you will. With the crumbled shrimp and chopped celery, there is some texture to it, but it's delicious!

2 large (46 ounce) cans of tomato juice
2 cans of small shrimp, crumbled
2 small stalks of celery, chopped finely
2 tablespoons horseradish
1 bottle (12 ounce) Cross & Blackwell cocktail sauce
1/2 bottle (10 ounce) ketchup
Salt and pepper to taste

Oct 15, 2016

Hoot Owl Cookies

3/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ squares baking chocolate (melted over low heat)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar. Blend in egg and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking powder, and salt. Separate out about1/3 of the dough and to this smaller portion of dough, add the melted chocolate and baking soda. Blend well. Chill the chocolate and vanilla dough for about 1 hour.

Once they have chilled, roll the vanilla dough into 2 strips–10”x4". Shape chocolate dough into two rolls--10" each. Mold a strip of vanilla dough around a chocolate roll. Repeat. Wrap rolls of dough in foil and chill for at least 2 hours. Cut rolls into 1/4" slices. Place 2 slices together on a greased cookie sheet to resemble owl face. Pinch each slice at the top to form ears. Place chocolate chips for eyes and press a whole cashew nut in between the slices for the beak. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes. Remove at once. Handle carefully.

Jun 5, 2016

Double Chocolate Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you like chocolate cookies, you'll like these. Another great recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup (7 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups (6.25 ounces) all-­purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (3.5 ounces) old­ fashioned oats
1 cup (3.5 ounces) quick oats
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets (11 x 17 ­inches or so) with
parchment paper. In a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and
fluffy, 1 to ­2 minutes. Add the vanilla and eggs and beat until creamy and light in color, 2­ to 3
minutes. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking
soda, salt, and both kinds of oats. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until a few dry streaks remain. Add the chocolate chips and mix until everything is just combined. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoon-­sized scoops about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to ­11 minutes until the edges are just set but the middles are still soft. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Note: When I baked the first batch of these cookies, they weren't as flat as I liked, so after dropping the dough on the cookie sheet, I flattened each ball using the bottom of a glass cup. The shape was much nicer that way.

May 25, 2016

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce

My kind of recipe. The New York Times has this to say about it: "This is perhaps the most famous recipe created by Marcella Hazan, the cookbook author who changed how Americans cook Italian food. It also may be her easiest. Use your favorite canned tomatoes for this and don’t be scared off by the butter. It gives the sauce an unparalleled velvety richness."

2 cups tomatoes, in addition to their juices (for example, a 28-ounce can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes)
5 tablespoons butter
1 onion, peeled and cut in half

Combine the tomatoes, their juices, the butter and the onion halves in a saucepan. Add a pinch or two of salt.
Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, mashing any large pieces of tomato with a spoon. Add salt as needed. Discard the onion before tossing the sauce with pasta. This recipe makes enough sauce for a pound of pasta.

Apr 17, 2016

Ham and Swiss Sliders

These yummy sliders would work well as an appetizer, a snack, or a main dish. Very easy to whip these up for a Super Bowl party or a quick meal. This dish is adapted slightly from a recipe found here.

1/2 cup melted butter (the original recipe called for 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar (I used a little more sugar because I wasn't using King's Hawaiian rolls.)
1 tablesppon poppy seeds
2 teaspoon dried minced onion
12 King's Hawaiian dinner rolls (I used regular Parkerhouse rolls from a local bakery.)
9 ounces thin sliced deli ham
8 ounces thin sliced Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Combine butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, poppy seeds, and dried onion. Slice the rolls in half to make sandwiches. Remove tops and set aside. Place the bottom pieces into the prepared baking dish. Layer the ham onto the rolls. Top the ham with the Swiss cheese. Place the tops of the rolls onto the sandwiches. Brush or pour the liquid mixture evenly over the rolls. Bake 20 minutes, or until the rolls are lightly browned and cheese has melted. Separate into individual sandwiches to serve.

Apr 1, 2016

Honey Mustard Chicken

My Uncle Brent and Aunt Fae recommended this recipe from FoodieCrush. It's a keeper. I will definitely be making this again. Simple and flavorful. My kind of cooking. I did make some very minor adjustments to the recipe.

1/4 cup grainy mustard
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dried tarragon leaves (The recipe called for 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves; I used dried and half the amount.)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced finely (I used about a teaspoon of powdered ginger instead.)
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 10 or so)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Trim any excess fat or skin from the chicken thighs, rinse them with cold water and pat dry with paper towels, then set aside. Combine the grainy mustard, Dijon mustard, honey, soy sauce, tarragon and ginger in a large bowl. Add the chicken thighs and toss to coat. Place the thighs and sauce in a roasting dish, spooning sauce over the thighs. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the thighs register 175 degrees and the juices run clear. Spoon sauce over the thighs and serve.

Mar 5, 2016

French Toast Casserole

I made this for a birthday brunch for my dad today and was thrilled with the result. Since I assembled the casserole the night before, all I needed to do was bake and serve it this morning. So I could spend the time relaxing with family. Anyway, I loved the texture, the sweet richness, and the ease of preparation. By the way, this casserole is plenty sweet without any syrup, but you could sprinkle with powdered sugar or use maple or buttermilk syrup (see recipe on this blog) if you prefer additional sweetness. This recipe is adapted from

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 loaf crusty French bread, cut into bite-size pieces (the original recipe calls for an eight-ounce loaf, which seems way too small to me. I used nearly a full 32-ounce loaf and I thought that was perfect)
2 cups milk (I used half and half or light cream instead because it I had it on hand, and it added to the richness)
6 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pinch ground cinnamon, or to taste
3 tablespoons brown sugar (this is at least double what the original recipe called for)

Spray a 9 x 12-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Stir 1 cup brown sugar and butter together in a saucepan over medium-low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves into butter, about 2 to 4 minutes. Pour into prepared baking dish and spread bread pieces over the top. Beat milk, eggs, and vanilla extract together in a bowl; pour milk mixture over bread into the baking dish and ensure all bread is absorbing liquid. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate, 8 hours to overnight. The next day, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove plastic wrap from baking dish and sprinkle remaining brown sugar over the top of the bread mixture. Bake in the preheated oven until browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Feb 14, 2016

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

This delectable chocolate fudge frosting is adapted from a recipe on

1/2 cup butter
4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
1 pound confectioners' sugar (about 4 cups)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 1/2 cup milk
Pinch of salt

Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave, or in the top of a double boiler. In a large bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, salt, vanilla, and milk. Blend in the melted chocolate mixture. Let stand until spreadable (frosting will thicken as it cools).

Feb 6, 2016

Spring Salad Dressing

This delicious and very simple salad dressing comes from my sister Emily. Although the list of ingredients is short, this is very flavorful. I can't believe how good this is.

1 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (white or apple cider works too)
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used prepared chopped garlic)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine above ingredients and serve. This dressing works well with baby spinach or other greens; fruit such as chopped apple, mandarin oranges, red grapefruit, or seasonal berries; avacado, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, and sugared pecans. For sugared pecans, combine 1 cup nuts and 1 cup sugar with 1-2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium/low heat; cook until sugar melts (watch carefully!)

Jan 19, 2016

Cornbread and Honey Butter

From one of my favorite food blogs, Mel’s Kitchen CafĂ©.

1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cup milk

For the cornbread, add dry ingredients, make a well and add oil, butter, eggs, and milk into the center. Stir until just mixed (batter will be runny – don’t be alarmed!). Bake in an 8” square pan at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. This doubles perfectly for a 9 x 13-inch pan.

Honey Butter
2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (This is a modification. You could also add a little cinnamon.)

For the honey butter, whip all together with an electric mixer and serve at room temperature (can be refrigerated and softened).