Frozen Fruit eat. – No recipe here today, just suggestions.  As the heatwave continues in the US, and definitely here on the east coast, with a heat index of 110 degrees, let’s talk fruit.  Frozen fruit– Grapes, Strawberries, Raspberries, Pitted Cherries, Oranges, Grapefruit and more!

Fresh fruit is delicious and refreshing enough, but for that extra bit of refreshment to help cool you down, freeze it!  Seedless grapes, raspberries, blueberries, pitted cherries and strawberries can be frozen whole.  Wash fruit and place on paper towels to dry.  Put the fruit in a ziplock bag and place in freezer.

For a twist, segment an orange or grapefruit to freeze.  To segment, peel the skin with a sharp knife, cutting all of the exterior off and the white “pith”.  Holding the fruit in your hand, slice through each segment on the inside of the membrane to release the slice. Place the orange or grapefruit slices on a piece of parchment (or wax) paper on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid.  When they are frozen, place in a ziplock bag to enjoy.


Use your frozen fruit in place of ice cubes in cold drinks to add flavor and color.



Chocolate Mug Cake

Have you ever been home by yourself and get a hankering for dessert?  Maybe something chocolatey?  You think “maybe some pudding, or a piece of chocolate cake?  But, no, you tell yourself you can’t make a whole dessert:  there’s all those ingredients, all the time to measure, mix and bake and whats more ~ the leftovers!

What if you could make a warm, chocolatey dessert made just for one?  Do you have a coffee mug?  Got some basic baking ingredients in the house?  Got a couple of minutes?  Then you’ve got a fudgey, chocolate mug cake!  You don’t even have to choose between cake and pudding when in less than 2 minutes, you could have both in the same hot dessert.

In 1 coffee mug, measure and whisk or stir together:
3 Tabl. Half and Half (or Whole Milk)
3 Tabl. Vegetable Oil
1 Egg
dash of Vanilla Extract
Whisk in:
4 Tabl. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Instant Coffee (optional, but it enhances the flavor of the chocolate)
Whisk in:
4 Tabl. Cake Flour
2 Tabl. Cocoa Powder
pinch of Baking Powder
pinch of Salt
Drop in:
1-2 Tabl. Chocolate Chips

Place the mug in your microwave.  Microwave on high for 1 minute*.  Remove from heat and stir from bottom up, just enough to mix up ingredients stuck on top.  Place back in microwave for 30 seconds.  Remove from microwave, cool for a few minutes and enjoy your own personal dessert!



* Microwave ovens cook differently.  Your microwave may cook faster than mine and cook in only 1 minute, or may need a few seconds longer than 1-1/2 minutes.  What is important to remember is:  you want some liquid in the bottom.  Be careful not to over-bake or you’ll have a very solid, dry cake. 

Holiday Cookies

It’s the last week before Christmas and definitely Cookie Week!  Cookies are the perfect dessert for a houseful of guests, and a beautifully wrapped tray or colorful bag of cookies makes the perfect gift for friends and neighbors.  If you get started today and bake a bit at a time, you’ll have quite a selection by Christmas day.  Here is a collection of my favorite Holiday Cookies which emphasize distinct flavors, varieties and colors to make gorgeous cookie trays!


1/2 cup Butter
1 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
Combine and add:
2  3/4 cup AP Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1  1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Chill.  Roll out to 1/2″ thick.  Cut with desired cookie cutter shapes.  Bake on cookie sheet in 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.

Place in mixing and whip at high speed:
2 cups Powdered Sugar
1 Tabl. Dry Egg White Powder (found in baking aisle of grocery store)
1/4 cup Water
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Add more water as needed to make spreading consistency.  Icing can be colored with food colors.  Ice cool cookies.  Allow the icing to dry completely.

Tip:  If you are doing more than one color on each cookie, allow to completely dry before adding the next color.


3 cups Butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Sugar
Gradually Add:
3 Egg Yolks
1-1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
3 Tabl. Milk
Add to above and mix until all is incorporated:
6 cups AP Flour

Chill the dough 30 minutes before using.  Roll out the dough and cut with cookie cutters into desired shape.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Cool completely.

Melt a good quality chocolate and dip 1/2 of cookie in melted chocolate.  Place each dipped cookie onto a parchment sheet.  Allow the chocolate to dry well before stacking and freezing.



1 cup Butter
1-1/2 Cup Confectioner’s Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Mix in:
3 Cups AP Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
6 Tabl. Cream or milk

When the dough comes together, wrap it in plastic to chill.  Take your “surprise” (I use Hershey’s Kisses) and press it into the center of a 1″ ball of dough.  Roll the dough into a ball to cover the “surprise”.

Place on parchment lined or greased cookie sheets.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned.

When completely cool, ice with royal icing and colorful sprinkles or dip in melted chocolate.


1-1/2 cups Butter, room temp.
1-1/2 cups Brown Sugar
1-1/2 cups Molasses
Gradually add to above, one at a time:
3 Eggs
Add to above:
7-1/2 cups AP Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1-1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
2 Tabl. Ground Ginger
2 Tabl. Cinnamon
2 Tabl. Ground Cloves

Chill the dough.  Roll out and cut with gingerbread men/women (whatever) cutters. Before baking, you can add red hot cinnamon candies and press into the dough if you wish.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.  Cool completely.  Ice with Royal Icing.


2 cups Butter, softened
3/4 cup Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Almond Extract

Stir in:
3 cups AP Flour
2-1/2 cups Almond Flour*
1 tsp. salt

Chill the dough for at least one hour.  Scoop out 1-1/2″ balls.  Roll the dough into a cylinder and shape with fingers.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 15-17 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Cool completely.  I keep mine in the freezer and shake them in a bag with powdered sugar before I serve.

*Almond Flour used to be only accessible at specialty baking stores, but now, you can find it in regular grocery stores in the baking aisle.  If you can’t find it in your store, finely grind the almonds with 3 Tabl. of Flour in a food processor – and you have almond flour!


1 cup Butter
2 Cups Sugar  
2 Eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Sift Together:
5-1/4 Cups AP Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg  
Mix alternately with flour:
1 Cup Sour Cream

Chill the dough for a few hours or overnight.  Roll out on floured surface to 1/4″ thick.  Cutout with your favorite cookie cutters and place on parchment lined cookie sheets.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Ice with Royal Icing – Decorate as desired!



Melt in a pan over low heat:
1/2 cup Butter
2 cups Peanut Butter
Combine in a large bowl:
5 cups Rice Cereal
1 cup Powdered Sugar

Pour the melted butters over the dry mixture.  Stir to coat evenly.  Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.  Form the peanut butter mixture into small balls, pressing firmly together and shaping with your hands.   Place on parchment lined baking sheets.  Melt 1 package of your favorite Chocolate.  Dip COLD balls into the chocolate and place on parchment to set the chocolate. These freeze very well – not that you’ll be able to keep them there.  Enjoy!



2 cups Butter, soft
2 cups Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
4 cups Flour
Stir in:
2 cups cocktail peanuts

Press firmly into the bottom of 1″ sided cookie sheet.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 25-30 min.  Cool for 15 minutes before cutting.  Allow to completely cool before serving/freezing.


8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
8 oz.  Butter, softened
1-1/4 cups AP Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt

Place the dough onto plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Divide the dough in half.  Shape each half into a rectangle and roll out with rolling pin until fairly thin.  *For my cinnamon nut, I spread soft butter over the dough, drizzle honey on top of the butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and chopped walnuts. Now, roll the rectangle up, starting from the long side, forming a long roll, approx. 1-1/2″ in diameter.  Wrap that roll in plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator.

When you are ready to bake, cut 1-1/2″ pieces with a sharp knife. Brush each piece with milk and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake in HOT (pre-heated) oven at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned.  These freeze very well.

*Experiment with fillings, spread apricot jam and roll, or use raspberry jam and mini choc.chips, use you imagination!



Melt in microwave (low heat and gradual):
5 squares of Baking Chocolate
1/2 cup Butter
In mixing bowl, place:
2 cups Sugar
Add melted chocolate to the sugar and mix.
Beat in one at a time:
3 Eggs, large
Add and mix:
2-1/2 cups AP Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup Walnuts (optional)

Refrigerate the dough overnight or at least 6 hours.  Roll COLD dough into balls.  Roll each ball in confectioner’s sugar and place on parchment lined cookie sheets.  Bake in a 300 degree oven for 12-14 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before removing from pan.

Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn is one of those indulgences that seems justified on a cold fall or winter evening.  There are many different types of  Caramel Corn and just as many recipes.  This recipe comes from the folks at Land ‘O Lakes and is the best I’ve ever made.  I used to make it in huge batches, bag it and sell it at the bakery.   If I’m making it for my family, I stir in about 2 cups of roasted and salted peanuts, but these can be omitted.

While it is a bit time-consuming, you’ll be making time in your busy schedule to make it again and again.  7 quarts of Caramel Corn sounds like a lot, and you can, of course, cut the recipe in half BUT…you’ll be glad you made it all!

Start with 7 Quarts (28 dry cups) of air-popped popcorn.  Sort through and remove any un-popped kernels.   Place the popcorn in a very large bowl, one which leaves enough room to stir.

Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees.

In a large saucepan, combine:
2 cups Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Corn Syrup
1 tsp Salt
1 cup Butter

Bring to a boil.  Stirring constantly, boil the ingredients until a candy thermometer reaches 248 degrees.

Remove from heat and stir in:
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1-1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Immediately stir into the popcorn (BE CAREFUL as it is VERY HOT!).  Coat the popcorn well.  Pour the popcorn out onto lightly greased baking sheets.  Bake in the oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  After the hour, line the counter or table with parchment or wax paper and dump the pans of popcorn out onto the paper.  Allow to cool completely.  Break apart the pieces and bag or store in an airtight container.


Oatmeal Scotchie Cookies

I love butterscotch – almost more than chocolate.  You might remember your grandmother making these traditional cookies.  Of course I know that butterscotch chips are artificially flavored, and you might think that would deter me from enjoying them.   The problem is, these cookies are more than the sum of their parts ~ they are “portable memories”.  They transport me to grandma’s house and I’m 11 years old waiting for them to cool enough to eat.  When you’re over 50 years old, transporting back to 11 is “a good thing”!

This recipe makes 4 dozen cookies.
In a mixer bowl, cream:
1 cup Butter, room temp.
1 cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup Sugar
Add to creamed mixture:
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Add to above:
1-1/4 cups AP Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
Stir in:
3 cups Old-Fashioned Quaker Oats
1 (11 ounce) package Nestle Toll House Butterscotch-flavored morsels
Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes or more.  Roll the chilled dough into 1″ balls and place on parchment lined or lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. 

Peanut(ty) Butter Cookies

Otherwise know as “Whole Jar” Peanut Butter Cookies, this recipe is my very favorite.  Having had a “peanut free” bakery, I often found myself craving peanut butter.  Occasionally on my day off the car would lead me to a nearby bakery, aptly named “Happiness Is..” for their delicious peanut butter cookie, which I believe to be this recipe.  I’m guessing the original recipe came from one of the peanut butter companies, because of the “whole jar” of peanut butter called for.

As an aside, who didn’t grow up eating peanut butter??!!  Really, we practically lived on peanut butter sandwiches as did every other kid in my school.  For what I believe must be environmental, many children find themselves allergic, so Perfect Endings Bakery was a peanut-free bakery.

If you are fortunate enough to not have a loved one with a peanut allergy, do enjoy these cookies, as you won’t get any more peanut butter flavor than this.

In a mixer bowl, cream:
1 cup Butter, room temp.
Add to the butter and cream well:
1 cup Sugar
1 cup packed Brown Sugar
Add to above and mix well:
2 Eggs, whole
1 Egg Yolk
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 whole jar (18 ounce) Peanut Butter, creamy
Combine dry ingredients in another bowl and then add to above:
2 cups AP Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
Stir in:
1 cup Peanuts, coarse chopped
Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.  Roll into 1-1/2″ balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheets, leaving room for spread.   Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 9-12 minutes, or until lightly browned, but still soft in the center.  When removed from the oven, immediately press down the cookie with a flat spatula.  As with most cookies, these freeze well. 

Thanksgiving Meal “to-do” List for Today!

Like many of my readers, today will be my prep day for tomorrows feast, because, like you, I’d like to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family and not be stuck in the kitchen all day.  The key to enjoying tomorrow is preparing today.

My years as baker for retail bakeries have taught me to plan ahead.  My mantra: “Prepare everything possible today to bake off fresh tomorrow”.  There are major parts of the meal that can be completed today to make tomorrow easy.  Most of these dishes are the “messiest”, so completing them today frees your kitchen from the mess tomorrow.

What to do today:

Mashed Potatoes – Peel, wash and cut potatoes.  Boil until soft and mash.  Stir in a couple of Tabl. Butter, a little cream cheese and a dollop of sour cream and season with salt and pepper.  Place the mashed potatoes in a buttered casserole dish to be warmed tomorrow – sprinkle with a bit of paprika for color.  Bake in oven approx. 1 hour to heat through tomorrow.

Corn Bread – make the batter, spread in the pan, refrigerate and bake off tomorrow.

Make Turkey Stock – Remove the giblets and neck from your turkey (seal turkey back up and place back in the refrigerator).  Brown the giblets and neck on medium high heat on top of stove in a saucepan.  Brown all sides.  Stir in 2 Qts. water and add a couple stalks of celery, an onion, and poultry seasoning.  Simmer for 2 hours to develop the flavor.  Cool completely in a sink filled with COLD water.  When completely cool, place in the refrigerator to use for for stuffing and gravy. When you are ready to use the stock, strain first.  This stock will add more flavor to stuffing/dressing and the extra stock stirred into the browned roast turkey bits makes the best gravy when thickened with a bit of flour and cold water.

Saute’ celery and onions, cool and then refrigerate today to be added to the stuffing tomorrow.

Cranberry Salad – either cooked or raw this can be prepped today.

Trim and wash any Vegetables such as squash, beans

Desserts:  Bake the pumpkin roll, fill and ice,  Prepare pie/tart crusts and fillings, so tomorrow a.m., you can fill and bake and have fresh, warm pie!  If you won’t have enough oven space, bake today.

I hope this guide will be helpful to you today and help you to have a wonderful, peaceful and enjoyable Thanksgiving tomorrow!

Advance Preparation for a Thanksgiving Meal

It has been said that  “the Thanksgiving meal takes an average of 18 hours to complete and 18 minutes to eat.”  I encourage you to start today prepping your meal, each day make or prep something for your dinner.  This way, you’ll be able to sit and enjoy your family and guests instead of spending the entire day in the kitchen.

Based on the following Thanksgiving Menu (yours may differ):
Roasted Turkey
Mashed Potatoes and/or Sweet Potatoes
Rolls and/or Cornbread
Dessert: Pies, Tarts and/or Cakes

Here is a list to get you kick-started:

If you have a frozen turkey, get it out of the freezer today!  Turkeys take a couple of days to thaw out.  Thaw your bird safely in the refrigerator.

Make pie dough:  Follow the pie dough recipe and instructions under the recipes index.  Roll your dough, place into pans, placing a piece of parchment or wax paper between the shells and wrap well with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate.  If you are going to make double crust pies, roll some dough out and freeze on a sheet pan separated by the parchment or wax paper. 
Tarts can be fully baked now and frozen.  I have some wonderful tart recipes you’ll find in the index – all of which are easy and delicious!  Bake them today, cool and freeze until  Thanksgiving day.  (They thaw within a 1/2 hour or so)  I would not bake today and keep until Thursday, not that the tart will be bad, but not as fresh.  If you want to skip the freezing step, bake your tarts or pies on Wednesday.
This is a great day to wash, cut and prep all your vegetables.  I always bag my chopped onions and celery for stuffing, and prep out all of my other vegetables, bagging them too.
Cornbread can be baked to be used for stuffing or cut bread slices into cubes for stuffing.
Make Turkey Stock – Remove the giblet packet and neck from the turkey cavity.  Place in a saucepan and brown on all sides.  Add to browned turkey, celery, an onion (or two), pepper, salt, sage and 2 quarts of water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours on low heat.  Cool and refrigerate.  This will be the stock you can use for stuffing and gravy tomorrow. (instead of canned broth or water).
Mashed Potatoes –  You can either peel, wash, cut and place in a pan with water and refrigerate for tomorrow OR go ahead and boil today until tender, mash, add cream cheese and/or sour cream, butter, salt and pepper and place in a casserole dish to be warmed through tomorrow.
Sweet Potatoes – Peel, wash and roast or boil.  When the potatoes are tender, drain and cut into cubes or mash, whichever you prefer.  Stir in the ingredients you use and place in a casserole dish to be warmed up tomorrow.  (I use butter, honey, toasted pecans and a dash of cinnamon)
Stuffing/Dressing – Onions and Celery – as many as you like I usually make a couple of cups.  Saute until translucent, cool and then refrigerate (I put mine in a bag to be added to the stuffing tomorrow)
If you are using bread, cut into cubes and then place cubes back in the bread bag for tomorrow.
Dessert – Make your pies/tarts today if you haven’t done so previously in the week.  Most tarts and pies do not need refrigeration.  Creamy pies NEED REFRIGERATION.  Follow recipe instructions. 
Thanksgiving Day:
Turkey – Pat dry your turkey, and season as desired.  (I make a compound butter with sage, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper and rub under and over the skin of the turkey.  I also place celery and sage leaves, onions and salt and pepper in the cavity of the bird to flavor from the inside.)  Place your bird on a rack in a roasting pan.  Roast covered in a 325 degree oven for approximately: (I usually uncover to brown mine during the last hour.)
4 to 8 pounds (breast) — 1½ to 3¼ hours
8 to 12 pounds — 2¾ to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds — 3 to 3¾ hours
14 to 18 pounds — 3¾ to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds — 4¼ to 4½ hours
20 to 24 pounds — 4½ to 5 hours
Test with meat thermometer in thickest portion of the bird, which is the thigh.  Temp. should be 180 degrees.
Stuffing/Dressing – Add the sauteed celery and onions to the bread cubes or cornbread – add 2 eggs and Poultry Seasoning and enough turkey stock to make it moist but not soaking wet.  Mix lightly with your hands and place in a greased foil bag or casserole dish (It is not recommended to stuff the bird).  Bake in 350 degree oven for approx. 1-1-1/2 hours.
1 hour before your bird is done – place the casserole dishes of potatoes in the oven or begin to boil potatoes.
1/2 hour before the bird is done – begin to prepare rolls and vegetables.
Gravy –  When your bird reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees, lift the rack and remove the bird to a cutting board.  Cover loosely with tin foil and allow to rest approx. 15-20 minutes.  Meanwhile, place the roasting pan on the stove top on medium heat.  Whisk up all the bits from bottom of the pan.  Add any remaining turkey stock to the pan juices.  In a small bowl, whisk together 3 Tabl. Flour and 1/4 cup cold water.  Whisk the flour mixture into the turkey juices.  The flour will thicken as it heats.  Bring to a boil and thicken more if needed, or add a bit of stock or water if it is too thick).  Keep the gravy warm while carving the bird.

Pumpkin Roll with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Perfect for any fall or Thanksgiving meal, the pumpkin roll appeals to all. Rather than serve a pumpkin pie, or maybe in addition to a pumpkin pie, this cake is soft and slightly spicy and has a creamy cream cheese filling.  The maple extract really compliments the pumpkin, but if you don’t like maple, just use the vanilla extract.

Traditionally, the recipe says to dump the cake out on to a towel while it is hot from the oven and then roll the cake lengthwise.  Did you know there is an easier way?  Use parchment on the bottom of the sheet pan.  Then allow to cool before removing – It works great and there’s no chance of getting burned on a hot pan.




In a mixer bowl, whip until light colored and fluffy and doubled in volume:      
3 Eggs, whole
1 cup Sugar
2/3 cup Pumpkin
Sift and fold into above ingredients:
¾ cup Cake Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie spice or ½ tsp. Cinnamon and ¼ tsp. Ground Cloves and 1/4 tsp. Ginger

Spread the mixture into a parchment lined 1” sided cookie sheet.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 12 minutes or until it springs back when touched.

Allow the cake to cool completely, remove cake from the pan by pulling the parchment off on to the counter.  Flip over the cold cake and remove the parchment.

Maple Cream Cheese Filling:
Cream until smooth:
8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
2 Tabl. Butter, softened
½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
½ tsp. Maple Extract
Add and beat until smooth:
1 cup powdered Sugar

Spread the filling onto the cooled cake.  Roll the cake lengthwise, rolling it tight.  Dust with powdered sugar.  Place on serving tray and cut into 1″ slices to serve.

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

One of the recipes floating around the internet, which is by Abigail Dodge, that I’ve wanted to try is a “skillet” cookie.  Called so, because it is made, mixed, baked in and served from, a cast iron skillet.  The picture on the right pretty much sums up how much your family and guests will enjoy this quick dessert.  My two and a half year old grandson, Joey, was so excited he kept exclaiming “giant cookie!!” and decided to lick his plate clean (NOT something I’ve seen him do ever before)!

Within a half hour, you can whip up this dessert because it truly mixes up in less than 5 minutes and is baked for 18-20 minutes.  Serve warm with scoops of vanilla ice cream.

I made this in a 12″ cast iron pan and it served 10.  If you have a smaller skillet, cut the recipe in half.


In a 12″ cast iron skillet, melt:
1- 1/2 sticks Butter
Stir into the butter and allow to melt:
3/4 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract


Remove from heat, cool 5 minutes and then stir in:
2 Eggs
Add and stir:
2-1/4 cups AP Flour
3/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt


Stir in:
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Pecans (optional)

Pat the dough down to evenly cover the bottom of the pan.  Place the pan in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 18-20 minutes.  Cool briefly before serving.


%d bloggers like this: