A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over....

Friday, April 22, 2011

Peanut Butter & Jelly Optional Waffles

Since we make a lot of pancakes and waffles around here, I am always open to new recipes. I previously avoided the following Peanut Butter and Jelly Waffles from Taste of Home just because there is an extra step of separating the eggs and beating the whites into stiff peaks. The difference it makes in the final product makes the extra work so worthwhile, I expect I'll use the basic recipe for all future waffle endeavors. The addition of Reese's Peanut Butter Chips takes the recipe over the top where they can stand alone without the jelly and just a sprinkling of powdered sugar (or not) for good luck. Sorry there are no pictures, but trust me, you want to make these waffles.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Optional Waffles
adapted from Taste of Home
1 1/4 cups A/P Flour
3 TBLS sugar
1 TBLS baking powder
1/4 teas baking soda
1/4 teas cinnamon
2 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup peanut butter
3 TBLS butter, melted
2/3 to 1 cup peanut butter chips

Jelly, jelly syrup, powdered sugar, or topping of choice.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a large bowl. Mix well. In another bowl, whisk egg yolks, milk, peanut butter and butter until well combined. Stir into dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold in peanut butter chips. Beat egg whites till stiff peaks form and fold into batter. Cook as required by waffle iron. Top with jelly syrup (below), jelly or powdered sugar. Oh yeah, ice cream is a great topper, too!
Jelly Syrup: Heat 2/3 cup of jelly of choice in a small saucepan with two TBLS butter or margarine. Stir until well melted and whisk smooth. Pour over warm waffles.
OR if you're without peanut butter chips, make it peanut butter and chocolate: add one cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Monday, February 28, 2011


Greetings! I've been loving shortbread lately since it takes so few ingredients, is quick to whip up and makes such a light, sweet treat, but wanted to experiment with flavor combinations. Curious as to how brown sugar would work and loving maple and brown sugar, Brown Sugar Shortbread was born.

The texture is crunchier than using powdered sugar, but with a slightly chewy texture. My daughter said they were like eating a block of brown sugar and to that I say, what's your point?

Maple Brown Sugar Shortbread
2 sticks unsalted* butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups A/P flour
3/4 teas salt
1/2 teas maple extract
*If using salted butter, decrease salt to 1/2 teas.
Preheat oven to 325d. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or cover with parchment paper. Sift flour and salt together and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy, add sugar and continue to beat until well mixed and and fluffy. Beat in Maple flavoring. Scrap down sides as needed throughout process. Add flour mixture and beat on low until flour is incorporated and dough sticks together when squeezed.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls. If desired, roll in graham crumbs. Cover and refrigerate 20 minutes. Bake 20 minutes until cookies are just starting to color (bottoms will be lightly browned). Cool on wire rack. When completely cool, dip tops into Maple Glaze, twirling slightly and let glaze dry. Store air tight. Makes about 30-40cookies.

Crunchy Coating: This is purely optional. I just happened to have some left from a previous recipe and decided to try it with this shortbread. Any leftovers can be used for oatmeal, ice cream or muffin topping, or in a desperate situation, eating with a spoon. It also worked as a coating for sliced bananas, dipped in butter, coated, than baked.

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (if you don't have the boxed crumbs, pulse six whole graham crackers in a food processor (or in a baggy with a hammer) until finely crushed.)
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 TBLS butter or margarine, melted
Mix cracker crumbs, brown sugar and melted butter in a bowl until well combined and crumbly. Store air tight in cool place.

Maple Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teas. Maple flavoring
3-4 TBLS milk
Add flavoring and milk to powdered sugar and whisk until well combined. Add additional milk as needed for glaze consistency.

Please sir, I'd like some more....
With only one stick of butter left, I thought it would be the perfect time to really experiment so when I came across several peppermint candy discs, Peppermint Shortbread seemed the perfect solution. I cut the recipe in half to accommodate the one stick of butter, but if you have lots of butter, plenty of peppermint candies, and know you love peppermint in anything, just double the ingredients for the full recipe.

Peppermint Shortbread
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup A/P flour
1/4 teas. salt
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teas. Peppermint extract
6 or more peppermint candy discs (or sticks), crushed
Preheat oven to 325d. Lightly grease cookie sheet or cover with parchment paper. Sift flour and salt together, set aside. Cream butter until light and fluffy, add sugar and continuing beating until light in color and fluffy. Beat in extract. Add flour and beat until flour is incorporated and dough sticks together when squeezed.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and roll in crushed peppermint candies. Cover and refrigerate 20 minutes. Bake 18-20 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to color. Cool on wire rack. Dip top of cookie into glaze and twirl slightly. Sprinkle tops with additional crushed peppermint candies (do this as soon as you dip, glaze dries fast). Store air tight. Makes 20 cookies.

Chocolate Peppermint Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, melted
1/4 teas. Peppermint extract
3 TBLS. milk, warmed
Melt chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl at 10-15 second intervals until melted. Stir well. Warm milk in microwave, approximately 6-10 seconds. Add chocolate, extract and warmed milk to sugar and whisk until glaze consistency, adding more warmed milk as needed. Use immediately.

Any exciting combos you've tried lately?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Feet Are the Scars of the Soul and Other Blogging Nightmares

Dreams are funny things, aren't they? I've never been too interested in dream intrepretation, but I've had a couple recently that might be worth the effort. A couple of nights ago, I had a rather bizzare dream that included my daughter and her best-friend-since-childhood who is now married with children of her own. I'm so glad they are still BFF's even though the job of parenting keeps them apart a lot. As children, there were a lot of nights spent together at their respective homes, and they joined forces on many creative endeavors that still make my heart warm with the memory. Okay, back to the dream: we were all together just chatting away and this sweet young woman looks at me and says, very dramatically and with a straight face, "Feet are the scars of the soul." I do remember I was very impressed and immediately asked her if I could "use that" (somewhere in my dream mind thinking of the blog). Feet are the scars of the soul.....I guess it could take on some deep philosophical meaning if you thought about it long enough.

And a few nights later: my high school senior class needed to raise money and decided to do so by making a porno film. While in the light of day, the thought is cringe-worthy, in my dream, everyone was very cool about it and didn't seem the least concerned. We were matched up with our partners and with no rehearsing (thank goodness), no script (do porno films use scripts?), everyone went on their merry way to meet back later. Now, I started out as a high school student, but when it came time to meet everyone at the appointed place, it came to mind that I was no longer that young nubile student but more my current age with all the gravity-defying parts that go with it. I also realized as I looked around at the beautifully coufed, made up girls, I was the only one who didn't use the time to have her hair and nails done!! (Like that was the worst of my worries). I also recall the location of "my" shoot was to be in the pool which is really scary since I do not swim and whenever I have attempted to try, sink like a rock. High anxiety was starting to kick in so I was very grateful my granddaughter did a sleeping back flip and kicked me in the throat, waking me up. Close call and one dream I DO NOT want to know the ending. The intrepretation here would be very interesting, I'm sure, sort of like the dream people have of standing naked at the podium to give a speech. I just can't help but wonder what we were raising money for and what happened to car washes and Krispy Kreme doughnuts! (Hmmm, hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts - now that's something to get excited about!)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Greetings! I have had the glorious experience recently of cooking for my two-year-old granddaughter, lovingly nicknamed "Toot" and not because she likes trains (although that is the reason we'll give her when she's older). It can be somewhat frustrating how quickly yesterday's favorite is now today's "NO!" but it definitely keeps me on my toes, or at the stove, as the case may be.

One thing she hasn't lost her passion for is anything pasta, but especially spaghetti, the messier the better. Truly, is there any more pleasing compliment to a cook than wearing the meal over such a smile?


1lb ground beef

1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1 teas. minced garlic

1 jar favorite tomato pasta sauce

Dried basil, oregano, salt/pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese to taste

Spaghetti noodles, cooked and drained

In a medium large pot, brown ground beef with onions and garlic until beef is no longer pink and onions/garlic are soft. Drain grease from beef and return to pot. Add tomato sauce. Add water to jar (approximately 1/3 cup), replace cap and shake to mix; add to pot and stir well. Add additional dried basil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. (Or no extra if you're happy with the flavor of the sauce). While sauce simmers and thickens (about 15-20 mins), cook spaghetti per package directions and drain. Add spaghetti to sauce and stir to combine. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and stir briefly to melt cheese. Let cool slightly for tiny mouths and serve - no fork needed! (We usually plan spaghetti night on bath night.)

What does your toddler love best?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Round the Kitchen Table...

Happy 2011 everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday and the New Year has started out safe and warm and happy.

When I think of a "vintage" kitchen, it's not just food that comes to mind. I remember my grandmother sitting at her kitchen table the better part of the day starting everyday at 5:30 a.m. to prepare my grandfather's breakfast before he went off to work first shift at the mill. Breakfast done and he was out the door before 6:30 and once breakfast was cleared away, my grandmother began the daily ritual of preparing lunch/dinner. Grandad came home for lunch, which was always a full meal with plenty left to warm over for dinner.

As a young woman, my grandmother was hit by a car and ultimately had to have both kneecaps removed. I remember thinking of her and my grandad as Jack Spratt and his wife because my grandad was tall and slender and my grandmother was petite and as years of physical inactivity accumulated, somewhat wide. I can still see her walking around the kitchen table, holding onto the edge of the table from sink to stove and back again, doing what was necessary to prepare the family meals. Moving from room to room required crutches and later, a walker.

While she couldn't do much else, her handicap didn't stop her from preparing delicious southern meals daily. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, fried pork chops, gravy and rice (face it, folks, "FAT" is a bonafide food group in the South!) but always with fresh vegetables and homemade biscuits and something yummy for dessert.

The kitchen was her domain and friends, neighbors and family members spent precious time there, discussing life over a meal or a cup of coffee fresh and hot from the percolator.

When she wasn't at the table, she was in her favorite chair in the "den," the room right next to the kitchen, where she watched "her" shows. She did not miss General Hospital, for one, and she loved Wild, Wild, West. She called Jim West "Tight Pants," and coming from my soft spoken, white-haired grandmother, this was hysterical to us kids. Her bedroom was next to the den so while they lived in a two story house built in the 1900's, with a total of 11 rooms, she seldom went beyond those three connecting rooms. She didn't leave the house often, maybe twice I can remember, but she made the two-hour trip to see me married. A strong Christian, my grandmother was always a champion for the underdog and the one who taught me unconditional love. I still miss her.

So in honor of my grandmother, in addition to recipes new and old, sometimes we'll just sit around the kitchen table and talk, over a cup of coffee. Anything you'd like to dish about? Any relatives that made an unforgettable impact on your life?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Oh, La, La, Lavender

Years ago when I came across the following recipe in the August/Sept 2008 Taste of Home magazine, I was intrigued about the prospect of cooking with lavender. My daughter's first baby shower was coming up and this recipe sounded perfect. After checking locally for edible grade lavender and finding none, I tried the vendor suggested in the recipe, Penzeys Spices, which turned out to be another exciting find!

Penzeys Spices has a wide selection of top grade spices and once on their mailing list, send a colorful catalog which not only displays and educates about their spices but also includes delicious recipes from their readers. When I called to place the order, the rep was very pleasant and helpful and a very reasonable $4.95 later brought a 4oz bag of edible grade lavender right to my door! Four ounces may not sound like a lot, but trust me, it is a lot of lavender but keeping it double-bagged in a cool, dry place, it is as fragrant and fresh as when purchased over two years ago.

We tried this delicious moist and flavorful cake again recently and with holiday gift giving in mind, I decided to try baking it in miniature loaf pans. It is just as delicious made in the bread pans and well worth the effort to locate the lavender.

Almond Lavender Cake
Lillian Julow, Gainesville, FL Taste of Home Magazine Aug/Sept 2008

2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 TBLS plus 1 teas dried lavender flowers, divided
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
2 teas vanilla extract
1 8oz cup sour cream
1/4 cup half and half cream
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
4 teas boiling water
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
Additional dried lavender flowers, optional

Grease a 10-inch fluted tube pan and sprinkle with sugar, set aside. Place 1/2 cup sugar, the almonds and 1 TBLS lavender in a food processor, cover and process until finely ground.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy; beat in almond mixture until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
In a small bowl, combine sour cream and half and half. (In another bowl) Combine flour, baking soda and salt, add to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beating well after each addition.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 10 mins before removing from pan to wire rack to cool completely.
For drizzle, combine boiling water and remaining lavender in a small bowl. Steep for 5 mins. Strain, discarding lavender. In another small bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and enough infused water to achieve desired consistency; drizzle over cake. Garnish with additional lavender, if desired. 12 servings.

Almond Lavender Mini Cakes

Follow the basic recipe above except grease and sugar 4 mini bread pans and one full size bread pan (or 6 mini pans). Divide the batter among pans, filling small pans first, about 3/4's full and spoon remaining batter into large pan. Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 mins, remove to wire rack and cool completely before adding glaze. Garnish with additional lavender, if desired, but do so quickly and press down gently. Glaze dries very fast! If not eating or giving away immediately, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then foil and store in freezer. Let thaw and come to room temperature before serving.

Now, what to do with all that left over lavender.....how about some

Lavender Shortbread Cookies
adapted from Martha Stewart Living

1 cup unsalted butter,* room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teas salt
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teas almond extract

Almond Crunch Topping
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup sugar
2 teas lavender

Lavender Glaze
1/3 cup boiling water
1 cup confectioner's
2 teas lavender
*If using salted butter, lower salt to 1/2 teas.

Preheat oven to 325. Butter or lightly spray (wipe off excess) 2 cookies or baking pans.
In a food processor, combine almonds, sugar and lavender and process until finely ground. Transfer to small bowl and set aside.

Sift together flour and salt in a small bowl, set aside. In large bowl, cream butter until fluffy, about 4 mins. Add sugar and continue to beat, 2 to 3 mins, until fluffy and light in color, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Beat in almond extract. Add flour mixture and beat on low until flour is incorporated and dough sticks together. Roll into 1-inch balls, then roll in almond mixture. Set aside remaining almond mixture. Refrigerate 20 mins. Bake until cookies are firm and just beginning to brown. Cool on pan 5 mins, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare glaze, add lavender to a tea strainer and set inside small bowl, pour boiling water over, cover tightly and steep for 5-8 minutes (water should be light lavender in color and fragrant). Add by teaspoons to sugar (about 3 to 4) and mix until smooth. Dip tops of cookies in glaze and then in remaining almond crunch mixture. Set aside to dry. Store covered at room temperature. Makes approximately 40 cookies.

These cookies are very flaky and melt-in-your-mouth. If you prefer a crunchy shortbread, substitute granulated sugar for the confectioners'.

So have any of you tried cooking/baking with anything unusual and out of the norm? Would love to hear about anything new and different!

Happy Baking!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Snack Mix, Anyone?

Amazing that it has been almost a year since my last post! Life has a way of doing that, though, doesn't it, changing things when you least expect it, turning itself upside down. It all comes out in the wash, as they say, just gotta roll with it and trust God to see you through. Sometimes the most heart-breaking events take you just where you need to be.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and now ready to jump into the Christmas season. This one will be extra special for me since I will spend it with my maaavelous daughter and son-in-law and that ever-incredible full-speed-ahead 2-year-old granddaughter, Toot.

As you may have noticed from previous recipe blogs, I am a big snack mix fan and love coming up with new flavor combinations. I would like to make a confession to any who may think this is such a feat: with the basic syrup recipe, you are only limited by the flavors of cereal and Jell-O you can find, available dried fruit and your own imagination. The real fun is coming up with your own favorites. I would love to hear of any concoctions you've come up with....
Here's the latest for your consideration:


9 Cups* Chex Cereal, corn or rice or combination
2 cups Frosted Cheerios

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

3 TBLS corn syrup

6 TBLS butter, cubed

1 bag dried cranberries or Cranraisins
1 cup dried banana chips
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup whole cashews (optional)

2 3oz boxes Cranberry Jell-O

1 large roasting bag

Combine cereals (and nuts) in a large microwavable bowl and set aside. Combine cubed butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in microwavable measuring cup or small bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute, stir well and microwave at 30 second intervals until melted. Mix well. Pour approximately one-half of syrup over cereal and fold gently to coat. Microwave 2 minutes, folding well after each minute.

Add banana chips, fruit and remaining syrup. Fold well to coat and return to microwave for one to two minutes, folding well after each minute. Set aside to cool briefly while you pour one box of Jell-O into the roasting bag. Add cereal mixture and pour second box of Jell-O onto top. Close securely and shake well to coat all pieces. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store airtight.

*9 cups is one box of cereal*

This one has moved to the top of the favorite stack.

Island Pineapple Melody

9 cups Chex cereal
2 cups Frosted Cheerios
1 7oz bag Sunmaid Tropical Trio (pineapple, mango, papaya)
1 cup banana chips
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup whole cashews (optional)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 TBLS corn syrup
6 TBLS butter, cubed
2 3oz boxes Island Pineapple Jello
1 large roasting bag

Follow directions for cranberry crunch above and enjoy!

Happy Snacking!