Food and Drink

Surprise Coffee Cake




A surprise it was! I’ve always wanted to make a coffee cake but the thought of messing it up held me back. Today, I went for it.

There were many recipes but I winged it, taking suggestions for proportions in the several I read(eye rolling at some, ha ha). 


1 stick butter

1 3/4 cup granulated sugar 

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup sour cream

1 large egg

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder 

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Crumb Topping

1/2 stick butter 

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup dark brown sugar 

3/4 - 1 cup cup all purpose flour(or enough to make crumbly)


Melt 1 stick of butter, combine with 1/4 cup oil, sour cream, granulated  sugar and egg. Add this mixture to 2 1/2 cups flour and stir in salt and baking powder. Pour in to greased cake pan of choice. 

In a separate bowl, combine brown sugar with 1/2 stick melted butter, 1/4 cup oil and 3/4 cups of flour(or enough to make the mixture into a nice crumbly topping. Scatter on batter in pan, pressing just enough for topping to stick to batter.

Bake at 300 for 55 minutes, cool 30 minutes, turn out onto cutting board, cut into desired sized pieces, cover and refrigerate.





Obnoxious Cookie Bars




These are the best cookie item I’ve ever tasted! They contain an insane amount of candy bars AND cookies! Bars are SO much easier and less fussy than individual cookies and much less prone to overbrowning.

I used a 9.5” Copper Chef square pan. These pans are extremely non-stick and have greatly improved the ease and quality of my baking. 

Combine dry ingredients, 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1 cup PBFit powdered peanut butter, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt.

Combine wet ingredients separately, 2 sticks softened butter,  1/2 cup vegetable oil/canola, 1 cup dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and one beaten egg. I don’t buy vanilla extract, the cost is outrageously ridiculous but it’s not needed because of the depth of flavor in the dark brown sugar.

Mix all components in a large bowl then add 1, 10 oz. bag of dark chocolate chips, 10 lightly crushed Chips Ahoy Cookies, press dough into greased pan, top with 1 crushed king size Reese’s Nutrageous candy bar, press into dough, break 1 king size Dove dark chocolate bar into squares and also press in to the dough.

Bake for one hour in a preheated 300 degree oven. Cool one hour before cutting.

*For the cookie base I was inspired by(but tweaked)Big Em, Little Em Cookies from Emeril Lagasse’s There’s A Chef In My Soup kids cookbook.



Pumpkin Bread Deluxe



This luxurious pumpkin bread is a modified version of this recipe , I took out a few things(only because I didn’t have the certain ingredients)and added a few of my own touches.

The maple butter was something I didn’t do, I have store bought cream cheese frosting, that will be really good with this decadent breakfast/dessert bread. It’s extremely buttery on its own(even though there is no butter in it)and is absolutely perfect plain.

I left out ginger, pumpkin seeds, cloves and the sprinkling sugar. I also replaced the olive oil with canola oil and instead of all granulated sugar I did 1/2 granulated and 1 cup dark brown sugar. The addition of 1 cup shredded carrots made this pumpkin bread extremely moist and over-the-top delicious! For good measure, I threw in 1 cup of milk chocolate chips.

It took only one hour to bake at 325, which is 20-30 minutes less than the recipe states. All ovens are extremely different. 

By far, this is the best quick bread I’ve ever made! When making a yeast dough I don’t measure the dry ingredients but quick breads like this need a good base recipe, measured precisely to achieve the coffee shop quality of this bread.



Sourdough French Toast


Maintaining a jar of sourdough starter is such a fulfilling experience! After making a huge loaf of sourdough bread, French Toast was in the forefront of my mind!

For an enormous loaf of artisan bread:

2 cups whole milk 

1/2 cup sugar 

5 eggs

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

pinch ground nutmeg 

1/8 tsp. salt

Mix until well blended, soak bread for 15-30 seconds, sauté in butter until golden brown.

There are many ways to dress this dish up and it’s exceptional all by itself with a drizzle of syrup.


Triple Berry Deep Dish Pie




First, you start with this amazing crust that has never failed me in 26 years.

I double the crust recipe(I don’t usually add the sugar and did not for this pie). Reserve 1/2 cup crust crumbles to top pie before baking. 

Press crust mixture in to your deep dish pie plate and in another bowl, combine 3 cups frozen berries with 1 cup sugar and the juice of one lemon(add 2 tablespoons flour if you like, to soak up some of the juices while baking, I forgot but no biggie, pour in to raw crust. 

Top with raw crust crumbles and bake in a 350 preheated oven for 45 minutes then 325 for an additional 45 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream or cold from the can’t go wrong with berry pies!

Pineapple Cake


Such a simple dessert and one of the most scrumptious!

1 box yellow or white cake mix

3 eggs

1 can crushed pineapple 

1 container cream cheese frosting 

Mix first three ingredients together, bake at 325 or 350 until done, cool, frost cooled cake, refrigerate...but it’s also good warm! Refrigerate for storage.


Bread Bowls


It only takes 1 cup hot water, 1/2 tsp. each yeast and sugar, pinch salt, plus 1 tbsp. oil and roughly 4 cups of flour to make the crustiest, most delectable bread bowls!

I mixed, kneaded and raised the dough in a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup.

Add all purpose flour 1/3 cup at a time and you’ll get the perfect amount, which may not always be the same.  Knead until smooth and elastic then oil your bowl, in my case, extra large measuring cup. Cover with a plate or bowl and raise in a warm place as many times as you wish, punching down every so often. The more times, the more nice air bubbles.

Preheat oven to 350 for five minutes, turn down to 325 and bake for 40 minutes or until you get a light golden hollow sounding crust. This yeilds 4 good size bowls...or mini loaves of bread. 

Bread making is the single most rewarding culinary project!





Broccoli Cheddar Chowder


What a difference one ingredient makes! This soup was nowhere near the delicious end result until the final step which I had no idea about until I decided to add it. The scary beauty of recipe testing! 

The finely chopped veggies you need are:

4 small or 2 large stalks celery(leaves included)

2 cups fresh broccoli 

2 medium peeled carrots, shredded and chopped 

1 red onion

2 scallions 

2 small russet potatoes, peeled and diced

Cook veggies with 2 tbsp. butter, 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper and 2 cups chicken broth/stock until tender. Add to veggies a roux of 1/4 cup each butter and flour(melt together and cook slightly in separate sauce pan), 1/4 block cream cheese and a pinch of nutmeg. 


Slowly incorporate 6 cups whole milk and 6 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar and keep stirring until all cheese are melted. After the chowder is slightly thickened add an additional 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper and the magic ingredient...1 tbsp. Frank’s Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce. This adds a Wow! factor but very kid friendly! My youngest daughter ate it with no complaints and my oldest declared she’d never have to dine at Panera again and the only thing it needed was a bread bowl😁


Experiment Cake


I DO NOT enjoy dreary days...they make photos so sad 😭 I DO like experimenting with cake mixes!

I’ll never forget the day I was so excited to try a cupcake from a local business who had just introduced them as a new addition to their line. OMG! I was extremely horrified that the base was a standard box mix! The wimpy-ness of that pathetic, “gourmet,” cupcake will haunt me forever.

Yesterday, I took a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix and combined it with a box of Pilsbury White Cake Mix. The only thing I’d change is to double up on the amount of sour cream, it was just a bit dry, so much better than wimpy though!

Combine the mixes with 1 stick melted butter, cooled, 5 eggs, 1/2 cup whole milk, 1/4 cup sour cream(1/2 cup next time, for sure). Add a bit more milk if the batter seems too dry.

Preheat oven to 350

Pour batter into greased pan...I used a 13 x 9 CorningWare casserole dish.

Add 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips and swirl in to batter.

Turn down oven to 325 and bake for 40 minutes. It will seem to be undercooked until the very end of baking time. 

Remove from oven, cool and frost with your favorite icing and sprinkles. 

The real reason I bake things at such low temps is a tip Mrs. Fields, the 80’s cookie queen said on TV years ago. The secret to her famous cookies was a low baking temperature. I’ve never strayed from that regarding baked goods.

Have fun baking and experimenting!