Strawberry Yogurt Pie

That title is kind of loosie-goosie. Its more like cream cheese Cool Whip pie with a bit of strawberry.

It’s like the one I remember grandma making way back in the day, only last time I tried to remake it, I didn’t use any strawberries. I found an old recipe of hers that was just cream cheese pie, with Cool Whip and sour cream.

So I did some research and found recipes using strawberry jello. But I just ended up making my own version. Its’ easy enough and a great cool dessert for hot days in the desert.

Its kind of like what I put in the strawberry cream trifle of excellence.

Only instead of cream cheese pudding mix, I used a brick of cream cheese.

And no pound cake. Mores the pity.

Here ya go…

Yes, that is a store bought graham cracker crust. I was doing this the grandma way.


  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1  6-8 oz container of strawberry yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 extra T. strawberry jam
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup diced strawberries
  • 1 8oz container Cool Whip or your favorite brand or sugary-pillowy-billowing whippy stuff.
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust

Make sure the Cool Whip is thawed up a bit. The cream cheese should be soft.

I used a standing mixer. Use whatever your little heart likes. A hand mixer, a Danish whisk a fork, a wooden spoon…

Mix the cream cheese and sugar.

Add the  yogurt, sour cream and jam and  mix some more.

Add the lemon juice and diced berries.

Fold in the Cool Whip. Pour the whole kit and kabootle into the pie crust and pop into the freezer to chill. I take it out early, either put in the fridge or out on the counter to soften up. As you can tell by the pic, we dove in and ate…and ate…before I even remembered to take a pic. But hey-I REMEMBERED! Eventually, so Bo-Rah to me!

This is my second helping, hence the messiness of it all. Things are starting to warm up. Messy and creamy and chilly and sweetie! With a bit of crunch from the pie crust. Guess what mama’s having for breakfast!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Did you like them as a child?

Did they make your heart go wild?
Would you eat them in a box?

Would you eat them with a fox?

No thanks.

I didn’t like eating bell peppers in any way shape or form.

Buuuuttttt, I did like eating out the middle. My sympathetic mom would leave out bell pepper from the stuffing part and that part I would eat. With gusto.

Not much has changed. I still prefer the flavor imparted by bell peppers than eating bell pepepers themselves.

Funnily enough, just when I went searching for stuffed bell pepper recipes (because my one and only bell pepper plant in the garden has given me at least a dozen bells!), I looked on the Pioneer Womans site, which is always a good starting place. Low and behold, what did I find first thing-front page? Stuffed Bell Peppers!

Ree always has your back.

So this is largely thanks to Ree at Pioneer Woman with a little tinkering from me.

Ready to be popped into a 350 oven. In spite of it being summer…Its just cool enough tonight to get away with it. especially if we eat outside.

This recipe would easily fill 6 full size bells, but I only had 4 small and moderate size ones left to work with, thanks to salads and cashew chicken.

So the extra rice stuffing went here:




  • 1 lb of hamburger meat (Ree uses 1/2 that, 8 oz and you might want to as well or somewhere in the middle.)
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 1/2 onion diced (my scallions grew so huge that I am using them as onions now)
  • about 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 1/2 or so cups of already cooked rice
  • LOTS of cheese, about 1 1/2 cups  ( mixed cheddar with jack cheese)
  • About 1/3 cup of tomato pepper soup, or tomato soup (the box kind  already mixed and raring to go). or some tomato sauce if all else fails.
  • did I mention 6 bell peppers?

Preheat oven to  350.

Lets start with the bell peppers.

Cut off the tops and take out the seeds, making them into little bowls. Take part of the tops, removing stem and seeds, and dice them up to go into the stuffing. Set aside.

In a skillet, brown the meat, sprinkling with salt and pepper. Spoon out the finished meat and set aside in a bowl. Pour out any grease.

In the same skillet drizzle in a bit of olive or coconut oil and add diced onions and peppers. Saute a 2-3 minutes and then add diced tomatoes and garlic. Saute a minute more and add in the rice and the meat. Now add in about 1 cup shredded cheese and drizzle in the soup.

Place the peppers in a rimmed pan or baking dish. Fill with stuffing and set in pan. When done. pour in about 1/3 cup of water and cover with foil.

(My mom would put in corn, I remember now. So that is an option. So is adding diced zucchini, as Ree does in her Pioneer Woman recipe.) If you have extra rice, put it in a small baking dish with a cover.

Place the pan in the oven and bake about 30 minutes. Remove the lid or foil and heat another 15-20 minutes until soft, hot and melty.


Great make-ahead meals. Just prepare stuffing ahead of time, prep peppers and stuff right before baking.


Saucy Sweet Potatoes with Apples

I kind of like the idea of being called ‘saucy and sweet’. Better than ‘cranky and bitter’.

Well these potatoes are neither cranky n or bitter.

It is a fabulous dish to have even if its summer and too hot to bake. Hubby picked out the apple bits at the end because he said it tasted like apple pie and, being gluten free, that was something he really didn’t have any more.

It’s so easy, you don’t really need a recipe per say.


All I used were a few  sweet potatoes that I peeled, sliced and simmered in some water until tender. Drain, dice into chunks and set aside.


While they are simmering, take some apples, I happened to have granny smiths, and peel, core and slice them.

In a skillet, melt some butter or ghee and add the apples, sauteing until tender. Remove from pan and set aside in a bowl.

In the apple skillet, pour 1 cup of water, 1 handful of brown sugar (about 1/2 cup,give or take),  and some cinnamon or other fun spices. I believe I used a cinnamon plus blend from PC. Simmer this until reduced a bit. Now take 1 TBSP of cornstarch and whisk it into a small bit of cool water in a cup or prep bowl  until it is smooth, then pout it into the  sugar water, stirring until the syrup thickened.

Put the sweet potatoes and apples into the serving dish and pour the sauce over it all  and serve.

Optionally you can add toasted pecans or dried cranberries. how about some apricot jam in with the homemade syrup? There are many other things I am sure you can come up with.

Stay cool my friends!


Spinach and Chicken Waldorf

You know how it is; a friend of your aunt Sally’s has a sister who won a blue ribbon with this awesome pie recipe.

Or the airline attendants brothers wife’s sister knows someone who works at the French Laundry and can get you this awesome recipe for…

Well, here is one from Hillstone’s restaurant who gave it to Bon Appetit who put it on there website, which landed as a post in my inbox because of the subscription to their magazine from my daughter…

It’s truly awesome!

I poured a little extra dressing on top. I just couldn’t get that ‘piled high’ look to it though.

After reading their article here about the Hillstone restaurant group, look online to see if they have one near you.

And while you are at it, you can get the recipe for this salad here.

Oh, wait. It’s not a salad. Its a Waldorf. Excuuuuuussse me! You better get your fancy linens on for a Waldorf. (You can tell its fancy when docs won’t let you write the word without it being capitalized.)

For those who are too lazy to click any further, or want to read my own notes on this Waldorf salad adventure, here is my  version of this wonderful Waldorf-in-a-bowl. We will certainly be having more of this come summer weather. (which around here could be tomorrow). (Where else can I fit in the word ‘Waldorf’. It’s so fun to say. (“Fran-sis-co”))

Spinach and Chicken Waldorf

Dressing (and I recommend this for any salad)

  • 3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. horseradish mustard (who ever heard of such a thing?) or 2 Tbsp. of prepared horseradish mixed with 1 Tbsp. of Dijon mustard.
  • 41/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup walnut oil. (who’d a thunk? I actually had this in the fridge!) or more olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. crumbled bacon
  • salt and pepper

Salad and Assembly

  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (or basically 3/4 cup of your favorite nuts)
  • 4 cups chopped frisee (that lacy looking lettuce that reminds me of seaweed. I didn’t have so I used some garden greens instead)
  • 4 cups curly kale (got this coming out my ears, very easy to grow it turns out).
  • 3 cups torn or diced rotisserie chicken (hello Costco! Although in this case we rotisseried an air-chilled organic chick on our own)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled bacon (which I forgot to reserve and it all went in the dressing. But it all ends up in the same place, right?)
  • 1/4 cup raisins or craisins.
  • 3-4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 large red skinned apple, which I peeled and shredded with a grater, but now I think you should just wash and grate, skip the peeling. It would make it prettier.
  • 6 ounces sharp cheddar, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 8 cups mature spinach leaves (about 1 large bunch) (and if your husband is kind enough to pick up what you need while he is at the store, you might want to actually add in the word mature, since there is so much baby spinach out there to confuse a person. On the other hand, the baby spinach worked too. In another week or so our own spinach may be mature.)

Whisk the vinegar, mustard and sugar in a bowl until sugar is dissolved.  Whisking constantly, to get a good emulsion, gradually add the olive and walnut oil. Add bacon and season with salt and pepper. (this can be made a day ahead of time. Try not to add all the bacon you fried up and crumbled. Set some aside for later!)

preheat oven to 350. Toast all the nuts on a parchment lined baking sheet, tossing half way through, for about 10 minutes. Let cool and then chop them up. Not too tiny or you cant see them.

Toss frisee, (not to be confused with tossing a fris-bee.) kale, chicken, bacon, raisins and nuts with dressing in a very large bowl. (they are not kidding. I should have used a cooking pot for mixing.)

Now add the chopped eggs, apple, cheddar and spinach. Toss, season with salt and pepper as needed.Now, divide onto plates and try to build up the pyramids like they do at the restaurant. I failed at this. I kept piling and it kept melting down. Maybe it was the baby spinach not knowing how to do it right. Maybe it was the lack of frisee, using sissy greens instead.  But it still tasted wonderful. I added a wallop of avocado to mine.

Here is what it could look like:

This is a photo from Bon Appetit. See how piled high it is? Perhaps its the frisee holding it all together. I see red on those apples, and they are not grated, they are diced! Hold on, that walnut doesn’t looked chopped to me! I smell Waldorf sabotage!

Enjoy, my dear ones!

Caramel Cake

Apparently caramel cake is a southern thang. I had been collecting recipes for this cake for a while, always a bit wistfully, waiting for an excuse to make it.

I finally tried it out for our church bake sale, selling it by the slice. It became my new BFF and I even made it myself for my birthday last November. (I couldn’t trust anyone else to get the frosting just right, don’t ya’ know.) And if I am deadnburied, feel free to make this on my birthday and remember me with fondness, while biting in to the soft caramely goodness.

here it is with a few slices left to it. Enough for me and you.

This particular version came from Americas Test Kitchen book, “Best-Ever Recipes, special collectors edition”. This one recipe was worth the magazine itself. Hubby has a habit of picking  up any baking magazine he finds that looks promising. He will even rifle through the pages, seeing if it looks like something that would make my skirts fly up, or my boat float or whatever. He knows me that well.

I will share the recipe here with you. It is, in a nutshell, a vanilla cake with a warm, caramel icing, which  you have to keep scooping up onto the cake until it hardens enough. Or perhaps I don’t wait long enough for the icing to cool before frosting…



  • 1/2  cup buttermilk, room temp. (good chance to use your homemade stuff)
  • 4 large eggs, room temp.
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups )(11 1/4 oz) all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt (really? Can’t just round it to 1 tsp. Well, I do.)
  • 16 tbsp. butter, softened and cut into 16 pieces.


  • 2 cups (14 oz) dark brown sugar
  • 12 tbsp butter, softened and cut into 12 pieces, (divided)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups (10 0z) powdered sugar

For the cake:

  1. preheat your oven to 350. grease and line with parchment, 2 8″ or 9″ round cake pans. (calls for 9″. Mine are 8″)
  2. Whisk buttermilk, eggs and vanilla together and set aside.
  3. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Using a hand mixer, beat in the softened butter, a few tbsp. at a time until pea size pieces remain. Yes, this is an unusual practice, you are not reading this wrong.
  4. Add half the buttermilk mixture and beat about 1 minute, until light and fluffy. Slowly add the remaining buttermilk mixture and beat in for about 15 seconds, until incorporated in. Use a silicon spatula or spoon to scrape the sides down and give a final stir. Pour into the prepared pans.
  5. At this point, if you have them, pin the cake strips around the pans. I like to put the pans on a larger baking sheet and place them both in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. Mine took a little longer because I was using smaller pans. I check them with a straw thing to make sure they are done.
  6. At this point, I like to pop them into the freezer while I make the frosting for 2 reasons. First, being so cold, it firms up the icing faster. Then it is easier to frost a cold, firm cake as opposed to a softer one that tears easier and makes crumbs.I freeze them right in the pans, just covering with plastic wrap or slipping them into bags. Then when ready, I slide a knife around the perimeter, turn it upside down, tap it and out it comes!



  1. Heat the brown sugar, 8 tbsp. (1 cube) of the butter (saving the rest for later. Don’t forget and use it all like I did once), and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan, supposedly around 4-8 minutes. Mine never took longer than 4 minutes. Perhaps my medium heat is higher than theirs.
  2. Whisk in the cream and heat until the bubbles reappear, about 1 more minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  3. Transfer this hot frosting to a mixing bowl and, using a hand held mixer at low speed (really? Yours has a low speed? Mine only has fast and faster), slowly add in the powdered sugar. Beat the dickens out of it, about 5 minutes, so you better time it, until it is light brown and only just warm, not hot.
  4. NOW you can add in that last bit of butter, the 4 tbsp. that has been quietly waiting its turn. Beat it in, 1 tbsp at a time, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  5. If your cakes have been chillin’ in the freezer, get them out.
  6. Place one of the cakes on plate or platter (making sure you have removed the wax paper or parchment) and pour  3/4 cup of frosting over the top. Spread it out and top with the second cake. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Easier said than done, but stick with it. I put it on the sides with upsweeping motion and then keep going around scooping it up from the puddles it is trying to form on the platter and reapplying it to the sides.

The writer said she/he had trouble with the icing hardening before they could get it frosted, so they kept tweaking the recipe until they got it right. I have never had that problem, so I guess they did get it right. I probably should let it cool a little more before applying. Some day I may not be in such a rush to get a cake frosted and might try that idea out.

I think this will be a big hit at your next party or special occasion. (Such as “Hey, its Downton Abby night tonight, lets bake a cake!”)

caramel cake
Here is an older picture of one of my previous caramel cakes. I think my phone has more pictures of food than family, sad to say. But they come in handy sometimes, don’t they?

Cake Strips

Just a quick note for you cake maker out there, or cake makers to be.

Over 20 years ago, yes, I must have been an infant, I took a cake decorating class. I learned 2 things. One, that you really should use cake strips around your cake pans and 2, I dont like decorating cakes! I don’t like the mess of cleaning up all the random icing that gets stuck every darn where and can’t go down the sink, lest it clogs the drain. Of course, it is easier with disposable frosting bags, but still…

Cake strips, I’m not exactly sure thats what they are called, are strips of something that you soak in hot water, run between two fingers to get out some of the excess water, leaving it wet still and, using a safety pin, pin it around your cake pan.


So you dont get a huge dome for a cake.


Here we go-tops flat as a pancake. (Like most of us gals until we are 13, 14, 15 or so). If you look close, the strips are the same color as the pans. Now you can get them in cool colors. This set is very, very old. They still work great though. No domes crowning in the middle of my  cakes! Just flat plains.  This particular cake is getting ready to be made into Caramel Cake. (I will try to post this recipe for you soon. It is from a “Best of” book by Americas Test Kitchen.)

Adios amigos!

Mini Spinach Lasagne

You are going to want to run out right now and make this! Its delicious! Its easy! It’s meatless (for those meatless Friday nights, or every night for some of you.)

I have made this twice now and keep forgetting why I dont make it more often. Probably because I just plain…forget.

The only hitch is, you should be using a brownie pan. You know, those square muffin type pans used to make brownies. Like this…


They are more shallow than muffin pans and hold the square ravioili’s perfectly. I tried them in the round muffin pans and I couldn’t get them in there. You would have to use smaller ravioli’s, like some fresh ones I found at the store.

Anyway, hopefully you have one of these. If you don’t and want one, give me a call. (they are $20 bucks from Pampered Chef).

I dont have a picture of the finished product, but have a couple of the steps along the way. You can make it, take a pic and send it to me. Last night I made this for my son and his friends, then I left the house for book club. So I kind of forgot about taking a picture. They had that and the easy-cheesey-focaccia bread (without the pepperoni it was supposed to have), and a salad. Oh, and cheater cherry cobbler.

Mini Spinach Lasagna Squares

  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 oz parmesan, grated
  • 1 pkg chopped frozen spinach, 10 oz, thawed and drained. (I used slivered fresh)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 3/4 cup marinara sauce, divided
  • 24 small frozen cheese ravioli’s. (about 1 1/2″x2″)
  1. heat the oven to 350.
  2. mix 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, parmesan and spinach. Use a garlic press on the garlic and add to this. Mix with a wooden spoon or a mix n scraper.
  3. Measure out 1 tbsp. of the marinara into each well of the brownie pan. Place a frozen ravioli over it.
  4. Put a small scoop of the spinach/cheese mixture over the ravioli’s and then another ravioli on top of that. Now another spoonful of marinara.
  5. top it off with the leftover mozzarella.
  6. I put the pan on a parchment lined baking sheet, in case of spillage. Put into the oven and bake 20-22 minutes.



Look at those pretty colors!


For now you will just have to imagine them all cooked down, gooey, hot, and tender. Actually, now that I think of it, this could be a very versatile recipe, couldn’t it? How about seafood ravioli’s with a garlic cream sauce? (Like Alfredo) with maybe some chopped up bacon in between the layers. Ah ha! I think I’m on to something!


Anyway, thank you to the Pampered Chef for this great and snappy recipe. You can find it here… And it will have a picture of the done deal.


Homemade Buttermilk

If you have a heating pad lying around the house, I am about to tell you a new and useful way to use it. And it has nothing to do with buttermilk.

Because you don’t need it to make buttermilk. Making buttermilk is even easier than making yogurt. Of course, not everyone has a ‘thing’ for buttermilk like I have. And I don’t even drink it straight. I just love baking with it. Buttermilk makes bread products moister and more flavorful. It makes wonderful ranch or blue cheese dressing. How about buttermilk doughnuts? Yes, the crowd goes wild!

Well I usually just buy the yellow carton of Knudsons buttermilk at any ol’ store. (cheapest at Smart and Final). But I was at Sprouts and decided to get the Organic Valley pasture raised cows buttermilk, which cost an extra buck maybe. It was labeled ‘cultured buttermilk’ like all the other brands.

Then as hubby and I were walking around in the store, who should I run into but my neighbor-down-the-street, the totally organic lady with the veggie garden in her front yard and is the one who always updates me when Whole Foods has their chicken on sale. She saw the buttermilk and asked if I had heard of this other kind, the name escapes her, but it is around $7 a little bottle and tastes fabulous! Well, no, I had not heard of it and I would not pay $7 a bottle for ANY buttermilk. But she buys it by the case, because she loves to drink it, and gets a case discount!

That afternoon she came knocking on my door with a bottle of this…


Kalona SUPERNATURAL Buttermilk. (please disregard the chopped veggies waiting to me omelet-ted)

“Try it” she kept saying. Really? Drink it? I usually just bake with you ya’ know. But I buckled under the pressure and poured a little bit of my Organic Valley buttermilk and a little of the Supernatural one. With only minor nose wrinkling, I tasted them both and no, I still do not drink buttermilk. But I have to say, my buttermilk tasted very much like just tart buttermilk, kind of sour. But her tasted like…a cross between buttermilk and yogurt. Not as tart, very interesting flavor. I could definitely tell a difference in quality here.

The ingredient label actually listed the cultures used to make this, kind of like when you buy yogurt. So, if it has culture like yogurt, why cant you make it yourself, like you can yogurt? Neighbor Barb got very excited at that idea and so I went to work.

I researched. It should be easy. Just mix up a good quality milk with a good buttermilk at a ratio of 3/1. So I took a mason jar, put 1 cup of this buttermilk in it and added 3 cups of milk to it, put a lid on and shook it up a bit. Then I loosened the lid, set it aside and THAT’S IT!

If I’m going through the effort of making yogurt myself (effort, what effort? Its easier than going to the store.) I am going to make it organic.
Ready to be tucked away for brewage! brewing? Incubating?

12 to 18 hours later you have buttermilk! It tastes like it, smells like it, looks like it.

Except one thing. The first time I made it, I set it on the heating pad, like I do my yogurt now and waited the full 18 hours.

this heating pad on the table is great for brewing yogurt, (which is what is pictures here) keeping it warm while it ferments for 24 hours. It also helps sprout my little baby lettuce plants much much faster! 3-4 days instead of 10! I tried the buttermilk this way too at first.

It became something altogether different. Smelled and tasted like  a cross between yogurt and buttermilk , as I expected but with the consistency of European yogurt, thickish but still a bit pourable. Or maybe I made creme fresh. Or a little like sour cream. I just dont know. But I used it in my recipes to make buttermilk pancakes and biscuits. It still worked fabulous. I just thinned it out with a little milk. Next time I would culture it less.

Or would I? I decided yesterday to make another batch. I mixed it up in under 2 minuets and set it aside, this time on the counter. Only it was 9 am. Which means it might be ready by 9 tonight or as late as 3 am. Yikes! I had better check it at 9. I am not sure if it was thick last time because of the extra heat or the 18 hours, but I would check it at 12 hours this time.

Only thing is, I went to my book club last night. Then when I got home, my sons had friends over and, with hubby out of town, had kind of taken over the house, so I retired to my room, already tired at 930. Buttermilk? What buttermilk? I didn’t remember the buttermilk until I woke up at 2:30 am. Then I remembered it oh-boy! I went leaping out of bed and dashed to the kitchen. There is was, still brewing in its little corner. I opened the lid. Smells great. I tipped it. Sheesh, thick again!

Sigh. So I have yet to make it at its proper consistency. But that is such a small problem. A non-problem really. And I need to find out if I can get the same good results with other buttermilks. And how many generations of buttermilk culture can I get out of that first bottle? I used the last of it to make this new batch. I will make a new batch off this homemade culture. Will it still work? How about another batch after that? How long before it stops working? Usually with yogurt, you need to freshen the culture after 3 or 4 batches.

So, if you would like to get 4 times the buttermilk out of your carton of buttermilk, now you know that you can make it yourself, easier than falling off a log. And much less painful!

PS, I found out that by putting my homemade yogurt to incubate on the heating pad for 24 hours, it comes out perfect! Tart, thick-yes, thick, without adding gelatin or anything to it. See this post on making yogurt yourself.

French Kings Cake (Galette des Rois)

Epiphany. The Magi. Feasting. Cakes with little plastic babies in them. Or not.

We were invited to a friends home for a lovely Epiphany party a few days after Epiphany and I was in charge with bringing the kings cake.Which is fine and I looked up recipes. I just needed to make a sweet dough, use an almond filling, roll it up, etc.


Not even close. Nope.

What was required was a FRENCH kings cake made with puff pastry.

And so I did more research and came up with several recipes and it was fun to make. I also learned new things working with this kind of pastry.

Such as, when you do not crimp the edges, you get lots of puff, as in this…

What starts like this…
Turns into this! Mon Dieu!

While, if you crimp the edges, say with a fork, sealing the edges together, you go from this…(notice all the crimping marks on edges)


To this…


Not nearly as puffed.

It tasted the same, just looked a little different.

I did not have any baby Jesus to put in the cake, nor any fava beans, which is tradition. (Whoever gets the slice with the bean or baby in it is king/queen for the party…or has to bring the Kings cake next year, whichever tradition you like best).

I wrapped a dime in foil and inserted that into the round cake. Thats what I learned from the Greek New Years cake I made. These other countries have these great old traditions I just love, especially if it involves desserts.

Here is the recipe for kings cake. It makes 2.

Galette des Rois

  • 2 pkgs or puff pastry sheets, thawed, but cold
  • 1 cup of soft butter
  • 1 cup of ground almonds (you can grind yourself if you have them)
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp of almond extract
  • pinch of salt
  • powdered sugar for dusting
  • egg yolk mixed with water for an egg wash (I use a whole egg mixed with a tbsp of water or so)


preheat oven to 450 degrees.

with an electric mixer (I used hand mixer as opposed to my kitchen aid), mix the first 7 ingredients together. That was pretty easy, oui?

On a lightly floured cold surface (I had a marble cutting board just for this kind of thing) roll out one of the pastry sheets to about 9-10″. Now you can either cut it into a large circle and make a round cake or just make a large rectangular cake. If making a round, for instance, you will cut a round circle out of the second pastry. Each box of pastry comes with 2 sheets.

Put one of the pastry sheets on a baking pan that is lined with parchment paper. Brush the edges with the egg wash. Spread half the frangipane cream (yes, that’s what you made earlier) over the pastry dough. AT this point you might want to hide your baby/bean/coin thingy somewhere on it.

Now place the second pastry over it, either round or square or rectangle or moon shape or stars, whatever you ended up using. Press the edges together to the filling wont ooze out. I sealed the round one with a more decorative touch, which did not seal as well. Some filling oozed out, but not much. Some leaked out of the other too, so you just never know.

Now make the second one.

With the sharp edge of a small knife, I decorated just the top of the pastry puffs, not to poke through, just to barely slice a thin layer of the top.  Mine was a feather type design I saw on the web. I then brushed the egg wash over it and put them in the oven.

Bake the galette for 15 minutes, rotating the pans if baking 2. After that, reduce the oven temp to 350 and bake another 30 minutes. During the last 5, take it out, dust with powdered sugar and put back in the oven.

“Serve warm with a gold paper crown on top”.

Oh sure, I did that-NOT. Brought it to the party, sliced it up and had 2 servings. Next time I might add some apricot jam as a bottom layer under the frangipane.

Close up of the design I scratched into it.

Enjoy! Happy Epiphany, a little late…

Dear friend, always opening up your home to gobs of people, feeding them delicious and organic foods. God bless you!

Cranberry Chicken in the deep south

Sweet home Alabama! It was my annual trek to visit my aunt in the good old town of Alexander City where she currently is innkeeper for the beautiful belle of the south, the Mistletoe Bough bed and breakfast.


With the beautiful winter camellias…


and fluffer kitties.


And dapper doggies


I got to visit with Mrs. Clause…


who frequents the Inn every winter, when she is not needed at Mr. Clauses side. She is there every year for the Christmas parade, in the sleigh with Santa.


Let us pause between photos so I can give you one of my aunts super secret recipes that only she and about a million other southerns know about. I am importing it home here, already did actually and everyone loved it. So much so that I did not even get a photo. But Aunt Jo Ann makes this a lot for her luncheons at the Inn.


  • either a whole chicken cut up or selected pieces of your choosing.
  • 1 can whole cranberry sauce
  • 1 envelope of onion soup mix
  • 1 bottle of French of Catalina salad dressing

Thats it. Just mix the last 3 things together in a mixing bowl and pour over the chicken in a baking pan and bake in a 350 degree oven until done, about an hour for a whole chicken. While I did not do so this time, you have the option of browning in a skillet first, then putting in the pan, saucing it up and baking. My aunt baked chicken breasts and they did not need browning, just baking.

Another option is to thicken up the sauce when you are done and serve it on the side. Its pretty finger licken’ wonderful!



The house is all set for Christmas. This is the biggest of the trees. There are lots of them there, upstairs and down. Even little ones in the kitchen.



See that mistltoe hanging from the knob there? That came home with me (hee-hee). Ok, she actually did know about it. I came home with 3 sets of christmas salt and pepper shakers as well.


Even garlands, lights and ornaments in the kitchen! This innkeeper doesn’t miss a trick.


She did make 2 of the best darn cheesecakes I have ever, EVER had! And get this, it didn’t need a water bath!! It was not so much the kind of cheesecake. I believe they came from 2 different recipes. One was a turtle cheesecake with chopped up candy bars and I think the other was a pumpkin cheesecake. It was the cooking method that made the difference, made it the creamiest, dreamiest cheesecake ever! I will share with you, because I love you…

The bite near the point of the piece of cake is almost like a pudding, so silky. It firms up as you eat your way to the crust. Ugg, I want a piece right now!

Here is the basic cheesecake recipe. You can use your own recipe using the baking technique here too. Or play around with this recipe, add cookie dough or chocolate chips or chopped candy bars, etc.


  • 3 8oz bricks of cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 3 eggs
  • prepare a graham cracker crust in a 9″ springform pan

preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

With a hand mixer, blend the cheese, sugar, sour cream and vanilla.

1 Tbsp. at a time add the flour, mixing well, then the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well. Pour into the prepared crust and put right in the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes. Without opening the oven door, reduce heat to 250 degrees and bake another 30 minutes.

After that, turn the oven off, but leave the cheesecake in the oven another 30 minutes. Remember, do not open the oven door. It will let valuable heat escape.

This makes a cheesecake with the best texture, smooth and crack free.

For other posts from Alabama see Taco Soup here, and quiche here, and my 2012 visit with baptist pound cake,   coconut pie, and amazing caramel apple upside down pie. Here is a visit to Montgomery AL. An article here about my aunts breakfast cassarole and a post there with my apple walnut bread recipe.

Enjoy all that reading and all those recipes.  I had fun looking through them again and reliving the trip. I think its time to make Taco soup here again, yes ma’am! And coconut pie. And…