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Month: October 2016

Happy Halloween!!

Happy Halloween!!

Yup, that’s me with Dagwood Bumstead!!!

We really did make popcorn balls for Halloween!  When my three sons were little boys, we regularly had play dates with my friends Jan & Lisa and their children.  We made fabulous lunches for ourselves (not the usual kid-friendly food we ate with our kids but delicious salads and more!) and caught up on each other’s lives.  Of course we made desserts too!   Such fond memories!

Halloween seems like the perfect time for popcorn balls.  We no longer give homemade treats to trick-or-treaters but WE can enjoy them!

They are easy to make:

8 cups popped popcorn

1 bag (10 ounce) mini-marshmallows

3 Tablespoons butter

Place the popped popcorn in a large buttered (or spray with Pam) bowl.  Melt the marshmallows and butter in the microwave (stir after 30 second increments).  Combine popcorn and marshmallow mixture and roll into balls!  That’s it!

You may want to spray your hands with Pam to roll the mixture into balls as it’s pretty sticky.  I added fall M&Ms to this batch.  YUM!!

Happy Halloween!!

Happy Halloween!
Happy Halloween!
Your Favorite Flatbread – It’s Easy!

Your Favorite Flatbread – It’s Easy!

Appetizers are fun. . . . but even appetizers get boring if you don’t switch it up.   My latest favorite is FLATBREAD!  This is the flatbread that started it all:

Joseph's flatbread
Joseph’s flatbread

This whole-grain flatbread is only 100 calories and tastes great!  You can customize each flatbread with your favorite toppings!  No more giving up mushrooms because your husband hates them. . .   I mean, if that’s your situation. . . . . !

I sautéed a small package of mushrooms in a little butter and garlic and then placed the mushrooms on the flatbread and sprinkled some shredded mozzarella cheese on top.  I happened to have some crumbled bacon in my freezer (SO handy to have in your freezer!) so that went on next.  Then I added a little chopped parsley and drizzled some of that delicious white truffle oil that I recently purchased for my lobster mac and cheese.  A little goes a long way with that – drizzle sparingly.  I used 1/4 teaspoon.  Then I baked it in a preheated oven set at 425 degrees until the cheese started to brown – only about 8 minutes.  Keep an eye on it as it doesn’t need to be in the oven very long.  I like to use my pan that has a rack in it so the flatbread gets crispy.  You could also balance it on the oven rack and use a large spatula.  You can heat it on foil or in a flat pan too – it just won’t be as crispy.

Mushroom Bacon Flatbread
Mushroom Bacon Flatbread

Doesn’t it look delicious?  It really was tasty and I got to have my favorite toppings.  The options are endless. . . . . sausage, pepperoni, veggies, tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and basil. . . . Yum!

Make it as an appetizer or a meal and make it all about your favorite toppings!

White Truffle Lobster Mac & Cheese

White Truffle Lobster Mac & Cheese

I bought a fabulous cookbook!  If you love the restaurants and the food in the Florida Keys, you will love this cookbook!  There are recipes from some of the most loved restaurants throughout the Keys.  Tonight I made the White Truffle Lobster Mac & Cheese, as prepared by Ziggie & Mad Dog’s here in Islamorada and it’s delicious!

Secret Ingredients!
Secret Ingredients!
Fabulous Cookbook!

Some of the other restaurants including recipes are:  The Fish House; Snook’s Bayside, M.E.A.T., Lazy Days, Green Turtle Inn, Kaiyo Grill, Morada Bay Beach Cafe, The Dining Room at Little Palm Island, Better Than Sex, A Dessert Restaurant, and many more!  There are even drink recipes from your favorite spots like Hog’s Breath Saloon and Sloppy Joe’s.

I’m including my affiliate link for Amazon in case you are interested in the cookbook.   I don’t buy many cookbooks these days, instead choosing to surf the net for recipes or just invade my own collection.  But this one is worth it!  If you have someone in your life who loves to cook, it’s also an amazing gift.  Wish I could give you a bite of my White Truffle Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese.

Frosted Rolled Sugar Cookies – Pumpkins!

Frosted Rolled Sugar Cookies – Pumpkins!

This is the only recipe I will repost occasionally – and always with an updated cookie pic! I have a collection of cookie cutters for almost any occasion and holiday!  My all-time favorite cookie!

I love, love, love frosted sugar cookies. Anyone who has been around me knows that I love to make them, I love to give them to friends & family and I love to eat them! My grandmother gave me a baking set when I was very young and got me started with cakes and cookies. The set included four tiered round cake pans – perhaps the most elegant thing I had ever seen – and several metal cookie cutters, which I still have. I have added to my collection over the years and have a very large box of cookie cutters for all occasions now. I have hosted cookie parties (think women, wine and lots of laughing!), sent care packages and made cookies for every occasion you can think of, including numbered jerseys for my son’s football team. You can see that I’m not an artist. In fact, I’m not even very creative. But I do find pictures to copy, friends to imitate and I have long-time favorites that I keep repeating. I’m not trying for the picture-perfect cookies that bakeries make (here comes the cookie snob in me) but these are absolutely homemade, from the heart and delicious!

I have used the recipe, from The Joy of Cooking Cookbook, for at least 32 years! I got this cookbook as a wedding gift. This is the best rolled sugar cookie recipe EVER:

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Early in the day or the day before:

Measure all ingredients into a large bowl – use a mixer if you’d like but I just mix thoroughly with a spoon or spatula. Then I use my hands to finish mixing and shape dough into a ball. Put it in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours so it’s easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. For best results, use freezer paper on your cookie sheets, but if you don’t have freezer paper, make sure you lightly grease the cookie sheets. (If you haven’t tried baking cookies on freezer paper you are missing out – I went through years of doing it the hard way before my friend Jennifer wised me up!)

Roll half or a third of the dough at a time, keeping the rest of the dough refrigerated. If you like your sugar cookies crisp, roll your dough very thin. I like my cookies a little softer so I roll about 1/4″ thick. Make sure to flour your rolling-pin AND your cookie cutters as you roll and cut. Roll your trimmings until all your dough has turned into cookies!

Place your cookies about 1/2″ apart on your cookie sheet and bake 8 minutes or until the edges are very lightly brown. I use a special little cookie turner to remove cookies to racks. Cool and decorate. I use a powdered sugar frosting that starts out with:

3 cups of powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons of softened butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Add milk until the frosting is the consistency desired. Add powdered sugar if it becomes too thin. I like the frosting a little thicker so it holds the decorating designs.

My sons used to help me decorate when they were younger and one day I will make these with my grandchildren. My friend Lisa tells me she makes these cookies with her daughters every Christmas. I hope you have traditions – food or otherwise that you love. If you need a new one, I’d be thrilled to have you make these cookies! Wait until you see the Valentine’s Day version!

Isn’t life fun!

Berry Mess

Berry Mess

My family named this dessert “Berry Mess“.  Creative, aren’t they? They aren’t good about combining a lot of foods – they would never eat something called a casserole.  There are some exceptions, but they would have never made it in the casserole-toting Midwestern farmhouse that I grew up in.  Casseroles and jello salads ruled!  We eat very few of either.

Berry Mess was originally called a fruit cobbler and was on who gave credit to USA Weekend.  I keep frozen blackberries, blueberries and raspberries in my freezer so this is an easy go-to dessert to make without having to go to the store to buy ingredients.  (You DO keep ice cream in the freezer, right?) You would have a hard time finder a simpler dessert and everyone loves the way it tastes warm out of the oven topped with ice cream.  You can throw this together in 5-10 minutes and have it baking in the oven while you prepare the rest of dinner.  I have used various juicy fruits:  peaches, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries.  You can use frozen or fresh.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in an 8-inch square or 9-inch round pan and set it in the oven to melt.  When it has melted, remove pan from oven.

Whisk 3/4 cup flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl.  Add 3/4 cup milk and whisk to form a smooth batter.  Pour batter into pan over melted butter and scatter 3 cups of mixed fruit over the batter.  Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Bake 50-60 minutes in preheated oven.  The batter will brown and the fruit will bubble.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.  This serves four.


Shrimp ‘n Grits

Shrimp ‘n Grits

I married a sixth generation Floridian whose parents are much more Southern than many of today’s Floridians.  One year we all gathered in Atlanta for Christmas at my son’s apartment.   As I was making shrimp and grits for our Christmas Eve dinner, I realized, much to my dismay, that I had purchased instant grits by mistake.  I voiced my dismay only to have Grandmom reach for her bag and respond, “no problem, I have grits in my bag”.  She then produced a container of grits – just what I needed for this recipe.  No one suspected that she was packing grits and we still tease our sweet Southern Matriarch about pulling grits out of her bag on a moment’s notice!

Our household wouldn’t be complete without a good recipe for shrimp and grits.  This recipe comes from my friend Jennifer.  It’s a keeper – casual night or company.  You’ve got a great meal when you add a salad and a green vegetable.  Mini corn muffins would go well with this too.  And don’t forget to add a Key Lime Pie for dessert!


1/2 cup melted butter

1 cup Heinz Ketchup

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

2 Tablespoons Old Bay seasoning

1 teaspoon pepper

3 lb uncooked, peeled, deveined shrimp

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a 9 x 12 baking dish with foil. And place shrimp in pan.  Stir together first five ingredients and pour over shrimp.  Bake for 25 minutes or until shrimp turn pink, stirring every ten minutes.


1  1/2 cup water

1  1/2 cup milk

1 cup old-fashioned grits

8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded

4 Tablespoons butter

salt & pepper to season

Bring water and milk to a boil.  Cook according to package direction and add cheese and butter near end of cook time.  Serve shrimp over grits immediately.



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