Friday, December 28, 2012


This is a more savory instead of the sweet cornbread that is almost like a cake.  You could add different spices to change it up also.  It was great with a bowl of chili, which is a must meal on these cold nights.  This recipe by Hugh Acheson is from his new cookbook "A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen".  I am just getting used to using cast iron, it really does a great job on so many recipes.  I'm trying to be very diligent about keeping it conditioned.


2 c  cornmeal
1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 c whole milk
3/4 c buttermilk
1 large egg
1/4 c bacon fat 

preheat oven to 425°

Mix the dry ingredients together and in another bowl mix the wet ingredients together (except the bacon fat).  Add the wet to the dry and mix well.

Heat a 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat and add bacon fat, when fat is hot add to batter and stir.  Pour batter into skillet bake for 20 minutes.  Let cool about 15 min then turn out onto plate and cut into wedges.

**I found adding a small 8 oz size can of creamed corn gives the bread a nice texture.

added halapeno's this time and baked in cake pan

It was Super Bowl in New Orleans so served it on a tray
with Mardi Gras beads and guacamole.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Whatever you call it there is something about that baked, savory bread that is a must have on every Thanksgiving table.  There might not be a more controversial item on the menu, it seems everyone has their idea of what is the best.  Regionally every where we have lived there have been different versions along with the unique family versions.  When we were in the south you had to have cornbread stuffing of course.  Pennsylvania has the Dutch influence with potato in the stuffing, they still serve both white and sweet potato at the meal.  Other additions oysters, sausage, chestnuts, raisins, apple, rice, nuts, mushroom, on and on.  Then the next decision is to stuff or not, if you don't stuff are you still allowed to call it stuffing?   Although I don't stuff I do call it stuffing most of the time.  I also make this ahead,  cover tightly and freeze it till the day before.

For me it is the very basic, if someone wants to bring another version we'll try it but I like the recipe right off the package of bread cubes.  I prefer the seasoned Pepperidge Farm whole grain seasoned cubes, with lots of onion & celery.

Holiday Stuffing

3 bags of Pepperidge Farm Seasoned bread cubes
6 C good quality turkey or chicken broth
chopped onion
chopped celery
salt & pepper

Saute onion & celery, when translucent add broth.  Empty packages of cubes into large bowl, pour broth mixture and mix well.  Spoon into casserole dish. Bake at 350° till heated through.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sweet Potato Casserole

The holiday cooking begins!  You have to love a recipe that can be made ahead, frozen, baked and served when needed.  Having some menu items ready to go takes a ton of stress off the day of cooking.  This recipe has been made by my family for years, I originally thought my dad's mother started it so when I asked her for the recipe she gave it to me but then told me she got it from my Aunt on my mom's side.  Aunt Ann originally from Arizona but a long time resident of Pennsylvania introduced this recipe to the family and it was an instant hit.  There are many versions out there, I'm sure many people have tweaked it over the years as I also have made minor changes.  You can't go wrong with anything under this topping!  This is my most requested recipe from friends.

Sweet Potato Casserole

3 c sweet potato cooked and mashed 
1/2 c sugar (I totally omit this and cannot tell the difference)
1/2 c butter
1/3 c milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Mix this all together in a large bowl with a hand mixer till just blended.  Pour into casserole dish and top with topping below.


1 c brown sugar
1/2 c flour
1/3 c butter

mix with a fork or pastry blender

stir in 1 c pecans

Top casserole dish with pecan mixture and bake at 350° for 30 min or till heated through with the topping bubbly.

If you choose to make this ahead make it completely then cover it tightly with aluminum foil or lid if your dish has one and freeze.  Take out the night before you need it to defrost in the fridge.  If you are short on fridge space put it in an ice chest in the garage so that it is cool but not freezing. 

Another tip for less stress in the kitchen during this busy cooking season is to make a little extra for your dinner when you are cooking ahead to put things in the freezer.  Roast a turkey breast or cutlets, if you've made your stuffing/dressing and sweet potato ahead you can have a mini Thanksgiving meal.  Also if I am doing a ton of cooking in one day or my fridge is full for the big day the night before is a good time to order that pizza!

Add caption

The handwritten recipe from my grandmother.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Zucchini Bread

 This is a combination of two recipes.  I was searching for a general Zucchini Bread recipe when I came across two that had great reviews so I took what I liked from each and came up with this.  It was so good I immediately made another batch and went for more zucchini to make even more.  Next summer when zucchini is at the peak I will be making and freezing lots of loaves!  I have some people that don't like nuts so I usually make a loaf of with & without either way it is  so good.  I originally made it with all white flour but have since added one of the cups as whole wheat slightly different texture of course but still good.  It also mixes up so quick.  After a day of cookie baking I put it in the oven to bake while I cleaned up.

Zucchini Bread


3 c all purpose flour   (I have mixed 1 c whole wheat 2 c white)
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
1 c canola oil
3/4 c white sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
3 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 c zucchini grated
1 c walnuts (optional)


preheat 325°  grease and flour 2 loaf pans

Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, almond extract,  and sugars together.

Mix dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients, mix well.

Stir in Zucchini & nuts.

Divide between two prepared pans.

Bake 40-60 min or till tester comes out clean.

Cool for 20 min before removing from pans.

Freezes well.

Light, moist recipe.

Wrap tightly in aluminum foil then
plastic ziploc bag to freeze.

Great for gift giving.
Added a special candy bar & bow.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

Please don't be scared off by homemade pizza it really isn't hard to make and this Chicago style was so easy.  You will love the taste of the crust, it is good enough to eat without the filling.  Any oil will work but after reading a number of different, often heated arguments on discussion boards I bought a small bottle of corn oil.  I have only used olive oil or canola oil for as long as I can remember.  Reading all the input it seemed to get the flavor of true Chicago pizza the corn oil would do the trick.  I will try it again with olive oil especially if I am using it other than a pizza.
I also think a cast iron pan is important to get that crusty bottom.  This crust recipe came from "stevel6" on  I doubled his measurements for one pizza, and measured out the Tablespoons of oil to be about 3/4 cup for the doubled recipe.  Having never made it or eaten it before I just went with the measurement, I think the Tablespoon measurement is so you add it as needed.  I didn't know what the dough should look like so just went with the measurement and it worked great.  Below is the doubled recipe I used and I love how it came out. From here you could use a bought sauce or your favorite sauce, but wanting to try the traditional style I found this recipe for sauce from Emeril Lagasse off of Food Network.......Love Emeril !!

That looks like a huge piece but that is an 8" plate...this is
so hearty you will be full on one piece, not saying
you won't have a second piece but you'll be full on one.
Chicago Deep Dish Pizza


12 T warm water 
2c flour
6 T oil olive, canola, corn your choice
1 1/2 tsp yeast  (I had packets so used 2)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt


I put all ingredients into food processor pulse just a couple times (don't over do it) till mixed somewhat of a ball forms quickly.  Dump it out onto lightly floured surface and knead no more than 2 minutes this is important.  The kneading of the dough longer lets the gluten get elastic like a traditional pizza, with less kneading you are getting more of a biscuit/bread type dough.  Put dough in bowl cover and let rise for 4-6 hours.  If you don't have a warm place for it turn the oven to about 200° when warm turn off oven place bowl in oven to rise. Punch dough down let rest about 15 minutes sprinkle some corn meal into bottom of pan then press into 12 inch cast iron skillet.

Assembling pizza:  Top dough with sliced or shredded mozzarella, then whatever "toppings" you would like we did peppers, onions, mushrooms, sausage.  I put toppings in quotes because they will actually be on the bottom of the pizza.  Then top with sauce then a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top.  Bake 475° for 30 minutes.  Crust edge should be golden.

****This made enough for 1 12inch pizza when I realized I needed more I made this same recipe using rapid rise yeast since I was out of time and it came out just as good, you couldn't tell a difference between them.  


For one pizza:
2 T olive oil
1 T chopped garlic
2 tsp fresh basil
1 tsp fresh oregano
1/4 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper
1 28oz can San Marzano or Plum tomato (I found Cento Brand bottom of shelf)
1 T red wine
1 tsp sugar


Saute garlic and spices about 30 seconds then add rest of ingredients and allow to simmer at least 30 minutes.  It will thicken I simmered it at least an  hour.  Using a potato masher mash tomato if they were whole.  For very little effort this produces an amazing sauce.  Allow to cool before assembling pizza.

You can tell here how wet the dough was, but
easy to work with.

Assembling--mozzarella on bottom, toppings in middle
then sauce, the topping of fresh Parmesan.

Dough wants to recede from edge I kept pushing it back up
as I put ingredients into crust.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Crockpot Molten Lava Cake

Rich gooey chocolate who can resist?  Lava cake an all time favorite at any restaurant made here in a crock pot.......soooo easy.  Throwing something in a crock pot gives you so much time to spend on the rest of the meal or other things.  This is so simple plus the ingredients are easy to keep on hand. Brew a pot of coffee or tea you are good to go.  There are a number of variations of this on Pinterest this was rich enough for me but some recipes added peanut butter or used brown sugar, it definitely needs that scoop of vanilla ice cream though.  I have 2 crockpots the size is no longer on them but I think the larger one is about 5-6 qts. and the smaller about 3 qts for this I used the smaller one.  If you use a larger one just watch the cooking time it may cook faster.
Crockpot Molten Lava Cake
1 c sugar
1 c flour
3 T unsweetened cocoa
2t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 c milk
2 T melted butter
1/2 t vanilla
1 c chocolate chips
1 3/4 c hot water
3 T unsweetened cocoa
3/4 c sugar

Butter or spray inside of crockpot.
Mix first 5 ingredients through salt.
Mix milk, butter & vanilla.
Combine the dry and wet ingredients.
Pour into prepared crockpot.
Top with chocolate chips.
Mix hot, water cocoa & 3/4 c sugar until sugar is dissolved.
Pour into crock pot on top of choc chips.
Cover cook on high for 2 hours, then turn
to low and cook 2 more hours.
To serve scoop out warm & with vanilla ice cream.

I thought this was best the same day, leftovers could be refrigerated 
and warmed in the microwave you but most of the liquid chocolate gets
absorbed but still moist and tasty.  

Scoop warm from crockpot.

It needs that scoop of ice cream!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

When the sun is setting the trees look as
though they are lighting up.    

The leaves are at their peak,  pumpkins, gourds, mums, corn stalks, cool evenings, warm days----what a great time of year.  Another pumpkin recipe these cookies are great to grab and go for a quick snack.  It is a large batch I hadsearched through different recipes trying to find a combination that used the whole can of pumpkin lots of oatmeal and I wanted to get some whole wheat flour in there.  They came out moist and chewy, you could add dried cranberries, dried cherries, raisins, nuts, whatever you prefer.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies


2 c sugar
2c brown sugar
2c white flour
2c whole wheat flour
2 c chocolate chips
1 c white chocolate chips
4 c oatmeal
1 tsp cinnamon
1 T pumpkin pie spice (I use my own mixture of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger see not below)
2 T vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 c unsalted butter (if using salted omit salt)
2 tsp baking soda
15 oz can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
2 eggs


Preheat oven to 350° & line baking sheet with parchment.

Beat butter, sugars till creamed.  Add eggs, vanilla, pumpkin mix well.

Add flours, baking soda, & spices, to wet ingredients and mix to just blended.

Switch to dough hook of mixer if you have one then add oatmeal mix till blended.

Stir in chips till blended.

Scoop with small ice cream scoop onto baking sheet.  Bake for 12 minutes don't over bake.

my mixture for Pumpkin Pie spice:  2tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp cloves 1/4 tsp nutmeg 1/4 tsp ginger  ---if you have someone that doesn't care for one of these spices you could easily adjust it or even leave it out.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

Fall is here in full swing, we had our first heavy frost this morning---scrape the car window kind.  I brought in the houseplants yesterday after soaking & cleaning them now on to fall recipes.  Anything pumpkin goes at this house, I can't make enough recipes using it.  These muffins didn't last long but so easy to make & you can throw it together quickly.  They are good for a quick breakfast, serve with soups, or use for dessert and they freeze well if yours make it to the freezer.

Makes 24 muffins

1 1/2  c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 c old fashioned oats
2/3 c brown sugar
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 15oz canned pumpkin
1 1/2 c milk
2/3 c oil (I use canola, veg will work as well)

pecans & chocolate chips

optional topping: 
1/4 flour
4 T butter
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 chopped nuts

Line muffin tin with papers, I also lightly spray them.
Place eggs, pumpkin, milk, oil into bowl and mix.
Add all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly but don't over mix.
I usually make 1/2 a batch then mix in the chocolate chips and nuts, depending on who is  here.  You could also mix in dried fruits or other nuts as you like.
Place an ice cream scoop size of batter into each cup, I like it 3/4 full.

If using the topping mix ingredients till crumbly and top muffins before baking.

Bake @ 400° for 15 min.