Sunday, November 18, 2018

Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle

I have told at least three people recently that I had made a trifle. All three said, "oh, that's the same thing as a truffle, right?" Well, not exactly.  I had to go into great detail about what a trifle was. All three were men, so I don't know if that was why or not! LOL. Anyways, to make a trifle, you kind of need a trifle "bowl." Since I didn't own one, I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond, because who doesn't get their coupons in the mail?!?!?!?! Instead of taking the usual pumpkin pie to a Thanksgiving dinner, how about taking this dessert? Your family and friends will think you took hours to make it!


13-16 ounce package gingersnap cookies
14-ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
15-ounce can packed pumpkin
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pint whipping cream
1 cup powdered sugar

In a plastic gallon size zippered plastic bag, put in the gingersnaps. Using a meat mallet, 
crush into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. In a large bowl, put the cream cheese and beat 
with an electric mixer until smooth, then add the vanilla extract, pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon
and nutmeg. Combine well until all ingredients are well incorporated. Set aside. In a small 
bowl, put the whipping cream and powdered sugar. Mix with an electric mixer on high 
speed until stiff peaks form (it will take at least five minutes). Set aside. In a trifle bowl, 
put one third of the crushed cookies, then a third of the cream cheese mixture and 
then a third of the whipped cream. Second layer - one third of the crushed cookies, 
one third of the cream cheese mixture, one third of the whipped cream. Next 
layer - one third of the cream cheese mixture, one third of the whipped cream and 
end with the crushed cookies. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Serves
at least 8!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's hard to believe that my mom has been gone almost six months already. Yesterday, for some reason, I was having trouble managing the grief. I read an article recently on that said there are many psychological benefits to baking for others - one of them is "stress management." If you are interested in reading the article, here is the link: . My mom and I spent tons of time in the kitchen and we definitely had a lot of fun!


This particular recipe card was written in my mom's handwriting, and on the back side of the card, was written "doubled from Thomas Pullen Home Economics (Patti). " Thomas Pullen was the Junior High my sister attended. "Patti" is my sister.

She lives down in Georgia and I sent her a message asking if she remembered these cookies. She said, "I still use that recipe, it's really good!" I don't remember eating these cookies, so I was really curious about how they would taste and more importantly, if Dominic would eat one. Only in the past few months has he begun to eat cookies with chocolate chips in them (I think he realized what he was missing)!!! I told him the recipe was written in "Grandma Martha's" handwriting. Well, I whipped some up yesterday afternoon and they WERE really good!! Dominic and my husband LOVED them. I made a few small changes to the recipe here and there, but nothing major was added or deleted.  I know I'll be making these again real soon!!  

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups old-fashioned oats
12-ounce bag milk chocolate chips (2 cups)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar, light brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract with a mixer or large spoon until well combined. Add the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and mix well. Stir in the oats and milk chocolate chips until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Roll into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball on the cookie sheet (12 cookies at a time). Bake for 14-16 minutes or until slightly brown. Remove from oven and let them sit on the cookie sheet for five minutes and then move to rack to continue to cool. Makes 3 1/2  dozen. Store covered at room temperature. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Martha's Own "Spanish" Rice

I have said it before and I'll say it again, I was the world's pickiest eater growing up. Recently, I was looking through one of my mom's old recipe boxes and found a recipe for Martha's Own Spanish Rice. It was written in my mom's handwriting on an index card. I know I didn't eat this growing up because of my extreme aversion to onions (I still can't eat raw onions). I asked my dad if he remembered mom making this and he said yes. Cool.  My dad was and still is kind of a picky eater.  He likes his food more plain with virtually no spices, but salt. My husband is kind of the opposite, he'll eat just about ANYTHING.  I had told my hubby earlier in the day, I was hoping to make my mom's recipe. The day ended up being really busy and it started to get towards dinner time. My husband goes, "so, are you still making your mom's recipe?" I told him that I was.  As I started to brown the meat, I perused the rest of the ingredients. My mom had written "salt and pepper," but no measurements. Hmm. I took a shot with the salt, but I think I put in a little too much.  Uh, oh. After I put in the pepper it balanced it out, but then it actually tasted kind of bland. I decided to add 1/2 teaspoon of my new favorite spice, "Thai Inspired Red Curry Powder." Yummy!!! As my husband starting digging into his dinner, I said, "so, do you think it's spicy enough?" He said, "well, it does have a bit of "kick!" When I talked to my dad later in the evening, I told him I had made mom's "Spanish" rice for dinner. I said, "dad, when mom made this, was it a little bland?" He was like, "yes!" If you are like my dad and like your food not spicy, feel free to leave out the curry powder. You can find regular curry powder at the Target or pretty much any grocery store. My "fancy" curry powder is Kroger's "specialty" line of spices. I think I originally bought it because it was on sale! Now, I'm wondering since I added the curry powder,  I've now switched continents, going from Spain to India! Should I call this Martha and Cathy's Spanish/Indian Rice? My mom has been gone almost five months now, how I wish I could have told her I made her recipe! She would have been so surprised I used curry powder!! When I was younger I didn't even know what curry powder was! I knew two spices - salt and pepper. LOL.


1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped green pepper, seeds and membrane removed
1/2 cup chopped onion
15-ounce can tomato sauce
2 cups cooked white rice
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon curry powder, if desired

In a large frying pan, start browning the meat with a large spoon together with the green pepper and onion. When the meat is finished cooking, carefully drain off the grease. Add the tomato sauce, rice, water, salt, pepper and curry powder (if you want). Stir well and then cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the green pepper and onion are soft, stirring gently every five minutes. Remove from heat and serve!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

"Supreme" Chocolate Chip Cookies

*Photo courtesy of Mary Gajda 
Capital Area Women's Lifestyle Magazine

Anyone that knows me even a little, knows that I love to BAKE! It's in my "genes" - my great-grandfather on my mom's side owned a bakery in Missouri.

One cookie that I have tried many times to make and failed just as many times are chocolate chip cookies!! That's just about one of the easiest cookies to make, right!?!?! Mine have turned out under-baked, over-baked, stuck to the cookie sheet - you name it and it's happened to me and chocolate chip cookies.  I make chocolate chip "bars" instead and follow the recipe on the Nestle Toll House Morsels bag! Well, I bit the "bullet" and made some chocolate chip cookies yesterday afternoon. I looked through cookbooks, on the Internet and in my mom's old recipe boxes. The basic recipe seemed to be the same ingredients, though a few had baking powder in addition to baking soda. I associate baking power with biscuits. A lot of the recipes just said "brown sugar." There is dark and light; butter is salted and unsalted. If you are already putting in additional salt, why would you want salted butter?!?! I like crispy cookies, so I used shortening, instead of all butter. How many of you remember back in the day, when we didn't have non-stick cooking spray and used shortening to "grease" pans?!?!?! Okay, enough about all that stuff! Semi-sweet morsels are wonderful, but I've always thought they are a little bitter. I prefer milk chocolate chips now. I had part of a bag kicking around of peanut butter chips, so I used those too! Pecans were in my freezer, so they got tossed in also. I really had to restrain myself from putting anything else in!!! I took no chances with baking on the cookie sheet, I put parchment paper covering the total cookie sheet. You are supposed to make these "drop" cookies, but I rolled them up the size of a golf ball and plopped a dozen on a sheet. I set the timer for 8 minutes and they looked raw, I added three more minutes and they were just starting to turn a little brown. I gave them yet another 3 minutes and they were perfect. After spending five minutes on the sheet, I easily removed them to a wire rack. Nothing was stuck!! Yahoo! Dominic has been branching out and trying new things lately. Anytime in the past that I have tried to give him a chocolate chip cookie, he has flat out refused. I offered him one that was slightly warm and he came over, took it and started walking back towards me. I thought he was going to give it back. Instead, he waved and walked back into the family room! He totally LOVES these cookies now. He even had two for breakfast. Yes, in our house, sometimes you eat cookies for breakfast!!!!


2 1/4 cups white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, unsalted
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk chocolate chips
2/3 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and set aside. In a large bowl, put all the ingredients in the order given, except the milk chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and the pecans. Mix with a large spoon until combined well. "Fold" in the remaining ingredients. Roll the batter into about the size of a golf ball. Place a dozen at a time on the cookie sheet and bake 11-13 minutes or until brown. Let them hang out on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to continue to cool. Makes 3 1/2 dozen. 

*If you want to get "fancy," my new favorite thing to do is "drizzle" chocolate on baked items, I did it recently on pumpkin and oatmeal scones AND for the first time, I did it on these cookies!!  You just need to wait for the cookies to completely cool first! I used the four-ounce Baker's Premium Baking Bars, they make a bunch of different flavors. So far, I have used the "German's Sweet Chocolate" and the "Semi-Sweet Chocolate." Just melt them in a bowl in the microwave and take a spoon and drizzle! There is no wrong way to do it!!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Cardamom and Lemon Cookies

I have said it before and I'll say it again, I was the world's pickiest eater growing up! Never in a million years would I have ever thought of making a cookie using cardamom. Up until a few years ago, I didn't even know what cardamom was!!!  Cardamom is a spice that I think tastes like cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg rolled into one.  This is what the spice area looks like at my local Kroger, quite a selection, huh?

Yikes, thank goodness, a large portion of it is alphabetized or else I would be at a total loss!! I have really "branched" out in the past five years or so using different spices, especially when I make chicken, beef or veggie chili. A few nights ago, when I made chicken chili,  I put in cumin, turmeric and "Thai" inspired red curry powder. I also have been known to sneak in some marjoram into chicken soup. I was so excited the first time I made these cookies that I had a bit of a "heavy hand" with the cardamom. The second go round I used less. At the store, cardamom might be a little more expensive than some of the other spices, but trust me, a little goes a long way! Take a look sometime at how much saffron is, that one is super duper pricey!


1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup pink powdered lemonade
  (I used Country Time)
1 large egg, beaten
2 1/2 cups white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
*one tablespoon sanding sugar or sprinkles, optional
   (I used the Kroger brand "coral" sanding sugar)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter, white sugar and the pink powdered lemonade together with a large spoon or electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the remaining ingredients in the order given (except the sanding sugar or sprinkles) and mix well with a large spoon. Roll batter into balls with the palms of your hands - you should be able to get 2 1/2 dozen balls if you make them a little smaller than a golf ball.  Place a dozen at a time on the lined cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes. Let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for five minutes and then remove to wire rack to cool. Store covered at room temperature. Makes 2 1/2 dozen yummy cookies!

* For a delicious and quick dessert idea, take a scoop of vanilla ice cream and put in between two cookies and squeeze gently. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Jeannette's Chocolate Covered "Grasshoppers"

In less than a week, it will be two months since my mom's passing. It has been a difficult time, but I think my dad phrased it the best - you learn to "adapt." He and my mom were married for over 55 years.

While looking through two of my mom's recipe boxes today, I came across a recipe for Chocolate Covered Grasshoppers. The name certainly sounds intriguing, doesn't it?!?!?! I always thought Chocolate Covered Grasshoppers had some form of mint in it. A quick Internet search though, brought up "real" grasshoppers covered in chocolate. Um, no, I don't think so! The recipe is from my mom's friend Jeannette, who I always remember living near Miami, Florida. She has five children, all relatively close in age. I met most, if not all of her children at one time or another. I think the youngest was my age. Anyways, I can just imagine Jeannette in her hot kitchen in Florida with her children making these. They are no-bake/drop cookies, so you don't need to heat up the oven! These cookies are really yummy!!

Thanks mom for saving this recipe and for instilling my love for baking and cooking, which I have had for a really, really long time!


6 tablespoons cocoa
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk
4 cups "quick" oats
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, put the cocoa, white sugar, butter and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a large spoon until it becomes a smooth consistency. When it hits a "rolling" boil, remove the saucepan from the heat and add the oatmeal and vanilla extract. Stir until all of the oatmeal is covered with the chocolate mixture. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper or parchment paper. I was able to get 32 "grasshoppers" making them that size, if you prefer teaspoonfuls, then it will make more! Chill in the fridge for a minimum of one hour. Store covered in the fridge. *I'm still trying to figure out why they are called "grasshoppers." They certainly don't look or taste like a "grasshopper" to me, not that I know what a grasshopper tastes like!!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Strawberry and Watermelon Popsicles

Have you ever heard of a cookbook called, "The Sneaky Chef?" It is written by a gal that likes to "sneak" healthy foods into meals. A "white puree" consists of cauliflower and zucchini and it is incorporated into things like mac and cheese and lasagna. A "purple puree" is spinach and blueberries mixed together and put into brownies, pancakes and tacos. You kind of get the idea..... I have a much easier way to get someone to eat something they are not interested in eating - put it into a blender and make it into a popsicle!!! Lauren LOVES watermelon and strawberries, so she ate these willingly. Dominic on the other hand, turned his nose up at the watermelon. He flat out refused to eat it. This "sneaky" mom put some watermelon and strawberries into the blender yesterday afternoon, poured them into the popsicle mold and they were frozen and ready to eat after dinner. Dominic had no clue that I had "snuck" the watermelon into the popsicle when he ate it last night. Sometimes a mom has to do what a mom has to do!!!

2 cups strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced
2 cups seedless watermelon, cubed

In a blender, put the strawberries and watermelon and puree until you get the consistency you want (I put a 1/2 cup of each fruit at a time into the blender). When I tried to put it ALL in the blender, it was too much and the blender clogged up! Pour into a popsicle mold (made for four)  and freeze for a minimum of eight hours.

There will be just enough leftover mixture to put into a glass and drink (the hubby was the happy recipient of that yesterday). Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Meat and Cheese Manicotti

My family loves my lasagna. I have been making it for a very LONG time. Last night, I decided to "rock" my family's world by making manicotti!!

Lauren helped me out and took Dominic to a music therapy session, so I could focus on making dinner. I stuffed about half of the manicotti shells before I realized I didn't have enough mixture to put in the shells! Good grief. I had to "un-stuff" them, add more ricotta cheese and "re-stuff."  It was what you would call a learning "curve" to make these. After dinner, I asked Lauren which she liked better, lasagna or manicotti. She just recently graduated from college and hasn't had my home cooking for a while. She told me she liked the manicotti better.  I knew she learned a lot in those four years!!


8-ounce package manicotti noodles, uncooked
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
24-ounce jar tomato and basil pasta sauce
1 large egg, beaten
15-ounce container ricotta cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese (1 cup reserved)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large pot, cook the manicotti according to the manufacturer's directions. Drain and rinse with cold water and set aside. In a medium saucepan, brown the ground chuck until it is no longer pink and then add the pasta sauce. Stir to combine thoroughly with a large spoon and set aside. In a medium bowl, put the egg, ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, salt, basil and black pepper. Stir with a large spoon. Pour half of the meat and sauce mixture evenly in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Stuff each manicotti noodle with a heaping teaspoon of the cheese mixture. Lay on top of the meat and sauce mixture. Pour the remaining half of the meat and sauce mixture on top of the stuffed manicotti and then sprinkle the other cup of mozzarella cheese on top. Bake uncovered for about 30-40 minutes until it is bubbly.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Chocolate and Peanut Butter "Icebox" Pie

*Photo courtesy of Mary Gajda - Capital Area Women's Lifestyle Magazine.

My hubby is a great cook, but with a very demanding job, I do about 90% of the meals. This past Monday, I was asking him what he wanted for dinner and he said, "I'm making my split pea and ham soup!" It was DELICOUS. Anyways, one of his VERY favorite combinations is peanut butter and chocolate. Since he made the soup for me, I made him a chocolate and peanut butter "icebox" pie. This decadent pie is quick to whip up and requires no assistance from the oven! The hardest part is waiting for it to freeze up.  My husband is a supportive and loving father to his three children, so for a surprise, I am going to make him this pie again for Father's Day!! Please don't tell him, it will be our little "secret."


6-ounce graham cracker crust (ready to eat)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chunky or smooth peanut butter
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
3.9 ounce box chocolate instant pudding and pie filling
1 cup milk
8-ounce whipped topping, slightly thawed
2/3 cup Reese's "Minis" Peanut Butter Cups, chopped
2/3 cup Reese's Pieces

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and the peanut butter together slowly, stirring constantly with a large spoon, do not boil! Remove from heat and set aside. Immediately add the powdered sugar and combine well with a large spoon until smooth. Spread evenly into the graham cracker crust. In a small bowl, put the contents of the chocolate instant pudding and pie filling and add one cup of milk. Mix well with a large spoon (it will be thick). Spread on top of the butter, peanut butter and powdered sugar mixture. Sprinkle 1/3  cup of the Reese's "Minis" Peanut Butter Cups and 1/3 cup of the Reese's Pieces. Cover with the whipped topping and then sprinkle 1/3 cup of the Reese's "Minis" Peanut Butter Cups and the 1/3 cup of the Reese's Pieces. Freeze eight hours. Serve frozen - it's delicious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Butter Pecan Biscotti

Up until a handful of years ago, I didn't even know what biscotti was.  Earlier this week, for some reason, the idea of making butter pecan biscotti popped into my head. Of course I had to act on it! When I showed Dominic what I had made, he picked one up, looked at it and said "it has walnuts." I have tried multiple times to explain to him that there are pecans, not walnuts in the biscotti. I was pretty sure Dominic would eat it, because earlier in the week he ate part of a granola bar that had peanuts and almonds in it, so I figured since he had almonds (which he has never eaten before) he would eat pecans. WRONG!!  After he fully inspected the biscotti, he put it back down on the plate. I grabbed it and ate it. Dominic is missing out, these are yummy!!!!


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups white flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Parchment paper is my new best friend - it saves time because you don't have to wash the cookie sheets so often, you just toss the parchment paper in the trash! In a large bowl, beat the butter, white sugar and brown sugar with an electric mixer or by hand with a large spoon until smooth. Next, add the eggs, vanilla extract, flour, baking powder and salt. Combine well with the large spoon and then "fold" in the pecans. Using your hands or the spoon (I like to use my hands), split the dough in half and gently form two "logs" each measuring eleven inches long and five inches wide. Put in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the logs comes out clean. You don't want soggy biscotti!! Pull out of the oven and let them hang out on the cookie sheets for five minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut each log into 12 pieces and then place cut side down back on the cookie sheets. I was able to fit the 24 slices back onto one cookie sheet. Bake for an additional 20 minutes and then remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.  If you want to make an easy glaze, in a small bowl put 3/4 cup of powdered sugar and add one tablespoon of water. Mix with fork or spoon until smooth. Drizzle evenly over all 24 biscotti. Enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea!!!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Springtime Cake

*Photo courtesy of Mary Gajda, Capital Area Women's LifeStyle Magazine

Tuesday, January 23, 2018



Sunday, January 7, 2018

Monte Crisco

One of my favorite things to eat out is a "Monte Crisco." They have always been so delicious no matter which restaurant I have been in. I thought you needed a special kind of "sandwich maker," and subsequently put off making one for YEARS!! Well, after tons of research, I came to the conclusion that I could make them in a frying pan. Okay, now that I had that finally figured out, I needed to look in the fridge to see if I had all the ingredients. I had ham (leftover from Christmas), mustard, mayo, one egg and sliced turkey breast. I was only missing some sliced Swiss cheese, so the next time I went to the store I picked some up!! Last week, I made Monte Crisco's for the hubby and myself for dinner. I have NEVER made them before, so I wasn't sure what he would think.  I shouldn't have worried, he gave them a 9.5 out of 10! Well, they did turn out great and were really yummy!!!

 Ingredients (For One Monte Crisco) 

One large egg
Two slices bread (I have used both wheat and white) 
Two slices Swiss cheese 
One slice turkey breast 
Two slices ham 
One tablespoon butter, unsalted
One teaspoon mayonnaise
One teaspoon mustard (I used stone ground)

In a medium bowl, beat the egg with a fork and set aside. To assemble the sandwich, put 1/2 teaspoon of mayonnaise and 1/2 teaspoon of mustard on each slice of bread. Next, on one of the slices of bread, put a slice of Swiss cheese, then the two pieces of ham, followed by the turkey and another slice of Swiss cheese. Place the other piece of bread on top and then dip and coat the entire sandwich in the egg. Melt the butter slowly in the frying pan and then put the sandwich in. Brown on each side until the cheese is starting to melt. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.Enjoy!

"Almost" Sugar-Free Applesauce and Walnut Bread with Cardamom

About a month ago, I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. It's partially hereditary, but I also hadn't really been watching ho...