Falling for Dessert

I have a strict rule around here . . .

No baking in July or August!

Well, ok, I’m exaggerating . . . but I do avoid using the oven during the hottest months of summer. Honestly, I think that makes it all the more fun to return to baking once the chill of autumn is in the air!

And what did I choose as my first baked item for fall 2012? Biscotti! The recipe came from dear friend and frequent commenter, Paulette. She featured it on her blog a little while ago and I immediately jotted “Paulette’s Biscotti” at the top of my list of “recipes to try”. She doubles the recipe, but I didn’t. I confess I am a bit of a chicken on that score. When I’m making something for the first time, I usually consider it a test and faithfully follow the recipe. Oven temperatures can vary or the baking powder may be close to it’s expiration date. I figure if all heck breaks loose – at least it’s only a single batch wasted.


The biscotti dough mixes up fairly quickly and then you form it into loaves. Here are mine just before I popped them into the oven . . .


Is there anything better than dessert cooling in the kitchen? Baked to a nice golden color, as per Paulette’s instructions! 🙂


Sir Beads and I have been enjoying a couple of these, every evening, along with a cup of tea. They’re almost gone now (Loud sob, here!) Why oh why didn’t I listen to Paulette and make a double recipe??? They’re soooo GOOD!!!


Wish I could hand you one – right through the screen!

But, you can make your own if you like! 🙂

Just stop by Paulette’s for the recipe.



A is for Apple

As Clenna reminded us last week with her photos from the orchard – it’s apple season! 😀

I’d like to share a recipe that was my grandmother’s. She’s gone now, but she’ll always be with me in spirit. She was the original organized homemaker, but then that’s really all that girls of her generation had to strive for. She was delightfully funny (witty, actually!), rather shy (but a great story-teller), very generous, and had a way of letting you know she loved you . . . without a lot of words. I still miss her, but I know she’d be tickled that I’m sharing this recipe with you. It’s delicious and so easy to make!

Helen’s Apple Squares


1 cup flour

2 tbs baking powder

1 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs

3/4c chopped walnuts

3 large apples (diced)

brown sugar to sprinkle on top


Mix together first 8 ingredients and

Pour into a greased 9″x13″ pan.

Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Cool and cut into squares.




The Secret Ingredient

Is it just me? 😉

Or, have you ever noticed that food made for you by a friend or family member often tastes better than if you made it yourself.

And it doesn’t have to be a complicated recipe either!

For many years, we used to drive 800 miles to the Midwest to visit hubby’s family. His Mom would prepare sandwiches for us to have on the long journey home. There was nothing out of the ordinary about them – as far as ingredients go – but I’m telling you they were always the BEST sandwiches we’d have all year.

Also . . . Have you ever tried to duplicate a favorite family recipe? It’s awfully hard to do, in my opinion.

I like to make . . .

My Mother’s Spice Cake

My Grandmother’s Irish Bread

My Mom-in-Law’s Cheese Potatoes

And they all come out fine . . . but they NEVER taste as good as when they were made for me.

Maybe you’re thinking – “Crystal, the fact that you don’t have to prepare the meal makes it taste better!”

That can’t be the reason, though. When I have a meal at a restaurant, I’m not cooking… and I don’t usually feel that the restaurant has made a particular dish better than I can make it at home.

I’ve decided the secret ingredient in food prepared by family and friends must be LOVE!

What do you think? 😀



Friday Favorites – Easy Recipe

Some of my favorite recipes are the ones that are easy to make… and call for ingredients that I already have on hand.

For many years, hubby’s family lived in the midwest, and every summer we would drive 800 miles (from the east coast) to spend a couple of weeks with them.

My mother-in-law was a wonderful cook. She truly made every meal special during our visits. Here’s her recipe for coffee cake, which she loved to serve as a special addition to breakfast.


Maybe you’ll surprise your family or friends by making it before the summer heat sets in!

As soon as it cools, slice it into small pieces, and put it on your prettiest serving dish. They’ll think they’re at a fancy bed and breakfast! 😉

Sir Beads’ Mom’s Coffee Cake

2-1/3 c. flour
3-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/8 c. butter, melted
1 c. milk
2 eggs, beaten slightly

Mix all dry ingredients together.
Mix all wet ingredients and add to the dry ingredients.
Pour mixture into a greased 10” by 6” baking pan or a 10” pie pan.

Sprinkle over the top:
¼ c. sugar
¾ tsp. cinnamon

Bake @375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

Well, Kids, this has been a great week! Thank you for your terrific comments – I enjoyed them so much!!!

Please be careful this holiday weekend. I hope you’re planning a little bit of fun and lots of relaxation.

Since Monday’s a holiday, let’s all meet back here on Tuesday, ok? 😉


This One’s for Grace

ladycooksMy godmother liked to cook. . .

She’s been gone for a few years now, but she always loved to “talk recipes” with me. She enjoyed sharing them and she’d patiently go over her favorites – step by step – as I wrote them down for my own collection.

Grace enjoyed those complicated dishes that many of us shy away from, but she also liked things that were quick and easy.

I want to share one of the easy ones today – an appetizer. We brought this to our family Christmas gathering this year, and I have a feeling she was smiling down on us when she “saw” it! 🙂

Auntie Grace’s Cheese Spread


2 Large Packages Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 8-oz. Can Crushed Pineapple in heavy syrup – well drained.
1 Large Green Pepper – Use about half of the pepper, chopped finely.
1 Small Scallion, chopped well (all of the white part and about 1-inch of the green part).
Salt and Pepper – to taste
Pecan Halves

Open the cream cheese a little ahead of time. Place it in a bowl to soften and use a fork to make it creamy.

Add all other ingredients to the cream cheese and blend well.

Mound on a serving plate and cover/decorate with the pecan halves. Start on top in the center and work down and around in rows.

Surround with crackers and serve!