Category Archives: Recipes

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!


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.


Coffee Cake Muffins

If you want a quick to “whip up” breakfast muffin or after-school snack this one fits the bill!  It tastes like a cinnamon coffee cake but takes a fraction of the time to make.  This muffin is light and airy and the cinnamon streusel begs to be both a filling and a topping.  And why not?  Put the streusel in the middle so there’s an extra surprise of cinnamon deliciousness.


This recipe makes 8 muffins.  Freeze any leftovers in a plastic Ziplock bag.  Place in a microwave to “re-fresh” for approx. 20 seconds.


In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients:
1-1/2 cups AP Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
In another bowl mix together the wet ingredients:
3/4 cup Whole Milk
1 Egg, whole
1/4 cup Melted Butter
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry.  Do not over-mix.  Place one spoonful into each of 8 paper liners.  Sprinkle with topping.  Divide the remaining streusel to top all the muffins.

Mix all ingredients together to form crumbs:
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 Tabl. Flour
1/4 cup Butter, room temp.
1-1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

Bake in 350 degree oven 25 minutes or until tests done with toothpick.*  Enjoy warm!


* Toothpick test for doneness – insert toothpick int he center of a muffin and pull out.  Toothpick should be clean and not wet.

Butterscotch Pudding

Many people don’t bother to make homemade pudding any more, what with instant pudding and cook and serve puddings readily available on the market shelves.  The thing is, pudding is one of those things which can be just as easily made “from scratch” as with a mix.  With Butterscotch Pudding, you’ll notice a difference in color with homemade, as the store-bought mixes have the additions of artificial colors to make it more pleasing to the eye.

Chef and dessert cookbook author, David Lebovitz has an AMAZING recipe for Butterscotch Pudding and I just had to try it.  If the addition of the whiskey is offensive to you, eliminate it, but I will tell you it adds greatly to the taste.  I will say, the only “issue” I have with this pudding is the texture, which is a bit grainy, even after repeated attempts to make it.  But, the texture wasn’t enough to stop me from saying this is a “must try”.

This pudding is very easy and quick to make and is absolutely delicious, especially served warm!  Serves 6.

In a medium sized pan, melt:
4 Tabl. Butter (brown slightly for richer flavor)
Whisk into the melted butter:
1 cup packed Dark Brown Sugar
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Whisk into the pan:
2 cups whole Milk
Combine in small bowl:
1/2 cup Whole Milk
2 large Eggs
3 Tabl. Cornstarch

When the milk is hot, stir a small amount into the egg mixture, whisking so it does not curdle.  Add the egg mixture back into the pan (this is called tempering and helps to adjust the eggs to the heat so they won’t curdle).  Continue to cook until the pudding comes to a boil and thickens.  Continue to cook for 2 minutes after the boil.



Remove the pan from the heat and stir in:
2 tsp. Whiskey
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Pour the pudding into 6 small serving bowls, or one larger bowl.  If you like the “skin” that forms on top allow to cool as it, but if you don’t, press a piece of plastic wrap down on top of the pudding.  Allow to cool on the counter for a bit, then place in the refrigerator. 

Baked Apples with Apple Caramel

On a cool, fall day, nothing beats the aroma of cinnamon and apples baking.  In fact, sometimes I just place some apple peels, a cinnamon stick and some lemon on the stove in a bit of water to simmer – just so the house smells wonderful (fewer calories that way too)!  After a trip to a local farm, I decided to make baked apples for the family.  Baked apples are easy to make and healthier than apple pie.  these are so delicious, you won’t even miss the rich pastry of a pie.

Not quite a “recipe” but more a method, this makes 4 servings.


4 Apples, washed and cored, hollowed out – but not cut all the way through. 
In a small bowl, mix together:
4 Tabl. Brown Sugar
3/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
2 Tabl. Raisins or Currents
2 Tabl. Pecans or Walnuts (optional)

Place the apples in a 8″ X 8″ pan.  Divide the sugar and spice mixture between the four apples, stuffing it down in the hollow.  Place 1 tsp. cold butter on top of each apple.  Pour 1/2 cup of Apple Cider in the pan.  Without covering, place the apple sin a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 40 – 45 minutes or until tender.



Remove the warm apples from the pan and plate.  Empty the remaining cider into a small pan and on medium temperature, reduce the cider by half.  Whisk in 2 Tabl. cold butter to form the caramel.  Spoon the caramel over the apples and serve.

Pumpkin Spice Scones

October typically rushes in fall: brightly colored leaves, cool crisp weather, fireplaces and pumpkins.  Our October started out with weather in the 70’s and even 80’s, so I put the pumpkin to the back burner for a bit.  Now, just in time for a cool October morning, comes the pumpkin scone.

This scone is “cakey” not biscuit-y”, but is full of pumpkin and spice flavor ~ perfect with a cup of morning coffee or tea.  This recipe makes 6-8 scones, depending on how you cut them.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients:
2 cups AP Flour
1 Tabl. Baking Powder
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 Tabl. Pumpkin Pie Spice
Mix into the dry ingredients with fingers:
5 Tabl. Butter, cut into small cubes
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the liquid ingredients:
1/2 cup Pumpkin, solid (not pie mix)
1/3 cup Half and Half
1 Egg, whole

Slowly pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and stir to form a dough.  Empty the bowl onto the counter and press into a ball and then down into a disk, approx. 1″ high by 8″ round.


Transfer this disk to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Use a sharp knife to cut through the dough into 6 or 8 wedges.  Brush the top with half and half and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until tests done with a toothpick.  Serve warm.

Pumpkin Praline Dessert

Betty Crocker has a recipe which, while delicious, is confusing because its not quite a cake, a bar, or a pie.  Using canned pumpkin and a cake mix (I know ~ shocking!), it’s actually a combination of those and frankly, I find it better served upside down so that the soft, creamy filling is on top and the praline is on the bottom.  You can serve it any way you’d like, but you will definitely be serving this to your family and guests, preferably with a side of whipped cream!  This recipe serves 12.

For the bottom layer, combine in a bowl and whisk:
15 oz. can Pumpkin, solid (not pie mix)
12 oz. can Evaporated Milk
3 Eggs, whole
3/4 cup Sugar
1 Tabl. Pumpkin Pie Spice (or make your own mix with 1 tsp. each of Cinnamon, cloves and ginger)

Pour this mixture in the bottom of a greased glass 9″ X 13″ pan.  Spread 1 whole box of Yellow Cake Mix (dry) on top of this filling.

3/4 cup Butter

Pour melted butter over the top of the dry cake mix.  Sprinkle the top with 1 cup of Pecans, chopped.  Bake in 325 degree oven for 45-55 minutes.  Cool completely before serving.


Peach Cobbler

It’s peach season!!  The peaches this year are juicy and delicious – not like some of the dry, no-taste peaches of years past.  When it comes to peach cobbler there are two basic types:  one with juicy peaches and a drier, biscuit-like topping and, my preference, the one with juicy peaches and a moist, cake-like topping.

This recipe makes a 9″ X 11″ pan.  You can easily 1/2 or double the recipe. Also, if you have the grill on, regulate the heat to 350 degrees and bake on the grill to keep the heat out of the house.

In a bowl, combine:
8 cups of Peaches, peeled, sliced
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon, ground
4 Tabl. Brown Sugar
In the bottom of your pan, pour:
1 cup of Butter, melted
In a bowl, mix:
2-1/2 cups AP Flour
2 cups Sugar
2 Tabl. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
Stir in to dry ingredients:
2 cups Milk, whole
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Pour this batter over the butter in pan, without stirring.  Spread the peaches out on top of the batter.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown and tests done.  Serve warm.


Mocha Fudgesicles

Is it HOT where you live?  We actually have a slight reprieve from the heat this week, but it is August, and that means more oppressive heat is on the way.  Not to worry, I’ve got a cold, smooth Mocha recipe for adults and if you leave out the coffee, kids will love these “fudgesicles”.

Most fudgesicle recipes call for  sweetened condensed milk or instant pudding.  I wanted to make a slightly healthier, less sweet version.  My experimenting led me to make these which turned out, oh so creamy and yummy.  This recipe made 6 Zoku popsicles – feel free to double or triple the batch.


In a 2 cup measuring cup place:
1/2 cup Yogurt, (I used plain, but you could use chocolate)
1/2 cup Evaporated Milk
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 Tabl. Instant Coffee granules
1/4 cup Chocolate Syrup

Whisk the above ingredients well.  Pour into your popsicle molds and freeze until firm.  Since I have the Zoku Popsicle maker I didn’t have to wait long.


Fresh Strawberry Pie

Often found in diners and family restaurants, this fresh strawberry pie is quick and easy to make.  Calling for a pre-baked pie shell, you can make your own crust or purchase one, it’s the only baking required.  On these hot days, bake your shell early in the morning, while it is still cool.

Ten short minutes standing over the stove and you’ll be putting this baby in the refrigerator to serve up on a hot summer night. Serve a slice of pie with fresh whipped cream, and enjoy!

This recipe is based on Sarah’s from “Short Stop”.

1 pre-baked pie crust
2 Qts. Fresh Strawberries, washed, hulled, divided in half
In a food processor, pulse 1 Qt. of Strawberries to small chunks
Place the processed berries in a pan and add:
3/4 cup sugar 
3 Tabl. Cornstarch
1/2 tsp. Salt
Stir to incorporate and add:
1/2 Lemon, squeezed


Cook for approx. 10 minutes until it is very thick.  You’ll notice that initially the berry mixture is whitish.  Once the cornstarch has cooked, the mixture will turn red and glossy.


Remove the sauce from the heat and cool for 20 minutes.  Stir in the remaining berries, sliced.  Place  the filling in the baked pie shell and smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 4 hours before serving.


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