Applelicious Cupcakes

Applelicious Cupcakes

Channeling June Cleaver

Channeling June Cleaver

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Springtime Lemon Pasta with Prosciutto and Asparagus

Springtime cooking for me always includes foods with asparagus and lemons. Add pasta, prosciutto and cream for an easy deliciously simple meal. My passion for good food leads me to create easy meals that are fresh and flavorful with simple ingredients. Eating food for nourishment doesn't mean that we need to sacrifice on taste. Food is meant to be savored, enjoyed with family and friends not to be rushed eating standing up or walking down the street. Make an easy beautiful meal, invite family and friends to relax while you all create lasting memories to cherish.    


        1 pound spaghetti or linguine
        Kosher salt
        3 tablespoons olive oil
        1 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 2 large)
        4 ounces Prosciutto, cut into thin strips
        1 cup asparagus, lightly steamed
        1 cup heavy cream
        1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from about 1 large lemon)
        2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving
        Freshly ground black pepper
        Freshly grated Parmesan (for serving)
        1/2 lemon thinly slice for garnish


        Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain, reserving 2 Tbsp. pasta cooking liquid.
        Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add shallots and 1/2 tsp. salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes (do not brown). Add Prosciutto , asparagus, and cream. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in lemon zest, 2 Tbsp. parsley, and 1/2 tsp. pepper.
        Return pasta to pot. Toss with sauce and reserved pasta cooking liquid; season with salt and pepper. Place pasta on plate then top with parsley, Parmesan seasoning with more pepper. Garnish with lemon slices.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Baked Stuffed Quiona Artichokes



    4 large artichokes
    2 quarts of water
    1 lemon, halved
    2 bay leaves
    2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
    1/8 cup salt
    1/2  cup Quinoa cooked according to package instructions.  I like Earthly Choice
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    2 tablespoons assorted fresh chopped herbs (such as parsley, basil and oregano)
    2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, toasted
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    Salt and black pepper


    Cut off the stem, trim the tips from the leaves and cut off the top quarter of the artichoke. In a large pot bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and add artichokes. Squeeze juice from the lemon halves into water, then add the bay leaves, garlic cloves and salt. Cover, reduce heat to simmering and cook until artichokes are tender, and base can be pierce with a knife,  about 25 minutes. Drain artichokes. Placing the artichokes on their base, spread apart the outer leaves and carefully remove and discard the center section and fuzzy choke, leaving outer leaves intact.
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine Quinoa, cheese, herbs and oil; season to taste with salt and pepper. Carefully spread apart leaves of artichoke, leaving them attached. Pack Quinoa  mixture into all available spaces. Place on a baking dish and bake 25 minutes or until golden.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Panko Baked Scallops for two

I love the french recipe Coques St. Jacques which I bake and serve in beautiful scallop shells. The traditional recipe has many steps and requires time to make. Loving Scallops cooked in a casserole but not always have the time to prepare I created this easy baked scallops for a delicious weekday meal.  Prepare the casserole in the morning to bake at night having a wonderful fresh dinner in 20 minutes.


1/2 lb sea scallops
1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup Italian Panko bread crumbs, I used Roland
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoon butter

Preheat over to 375F. Place scallops in a bowl. Squeeze lemon over scallops. Add olive oil, garlic, pepper and salt tossing to combine. Place scallops in over proof baking dish. Combine bread crumbs and cheese. Place bread crumbs on top of scallops. Dot butter over break crumbs. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until topping is brown. Serve over pasta tossed with butter and cheese or rice. 


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Blueberry Poppy Seed Scones

In my world of 24/7 where warp speed isn't fast enough, where quantity not quality is the norm, how luxuriating enjoying a cup of tea with all the accompaniments, so Downton Abbey -  tea hold a special place in my life.  Slowing time, if just a little, Afternoon Tea is a wonderful pleasure I thank the British for cultivating. My spirit fills with joy sipping a cup of tea from a beautifully crafted English china tea cup while eating dainty little tea sandwiches along with freshly baked Scones topped with a dollop of clotted cream. Over time I’ve amassed an extensive collection of English tea china and accoutrements to host my own teas which have marked special moments in my life. Christmas mother/daughter teas with my daughter’s friends and their mothers, Mother’s Day Teas to celebrate the women in my life and a Bridal Shower Tea for my daughter - afternoon tea shares many cherished memories throughout my life. When traveling I am not only on the hunt for an additions to my collection but for new venues to enjoy afternoon tea. I enviable find a uniquely special new place to enjoy afternoon tea; an elegant stately hotel , an Alice in Wonderland-Mad Hatter room, a Tea Houses among the roses, all sharing impeccable British style service, aromatic teas and delectable treats. Life doesn't get any better than this I’m reminded as I slowly savor life's pleasures one sip at a time!

Blueberry Poppy Scones:

    2 cups all-purpose flour - I use King Arthur Flour
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1 tablespoon poppy seeds
    5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
    1 cup fresh blueberries
    1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones

    Clotted Cream- Devon Cream Company
    Strawberry Preserves - Bonne Maman

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sift together the dry ingredients; the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and poppy seeds. Using 2 forks or a pastry blender, cut in the butter to coat the pieces with the flour. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Take care not to mash or bruise the blueberries because their strong color will bleed into the dough. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough.

Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 by 3 by 1 1/4 inches. Cut the rectangle in 1/2 then cut the pieces in 1/2 again, giving you 4 (3-inch) squares. Cut the squares in 1/2 on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle shape. Place the scones on a parchment lined cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown. Serve with Clotted Cream and Strawberry Preserves.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Roasted Cauliflower with Italian Tuna over Pasta

I love to create easy weekday meals that just burst with flavor. Being of Italian heritage I learned at an early age from my mother that you should only consume food that taste delicious. Meticulous preparation was so important to my mother who enjoyed the art of cooking instilling in me that food is love that your share with family and friends. I have continued her tradition preparing meals with the focus on flavor and taste. All you need to add as my mother is fond of saying is a pinch or this, a dash of that, just doctor it up! Still at ninety five she knows how to make food sing with flavor.

Roasted Cauliflower with Italian Tuna over Pasta

1 head cauliflower, chopped
six skin-on garlic cloves
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 salt
1/4 black pepper
1/4 red pepper flakes
1 cup Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoon butter
two tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup breadcrumbs, toasted
Italian yellow fin tuna in olive oil
1 tablespoon capers

1 pound pasta or spaghetti

On a sheet pan, drizzle a head of chopped cauliflower and six skin-on garlic cloves with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Roast at 425°, tossing occasionally, until the cauliflower is caramelized and crisp, about 30 minutes. Once cool, peel the roasted garlic cloves and chop.

In a large bowl, combine a cup of grated Parmesan, three tablespoons of butter, a pinch of salt, two tablespoons of toasted pine nuts, and a quarter-cup of toasted breadcrumbs. (Toast stale bread until lightly golden, then use a food processor to pulse into crumbs.)

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook a pound of short pasta (like cavatelli) or thin spaghetti. Drain the pasta, reserving about a cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the hot pasta with the cauliflower, garlic cloves, Parmesan butter mixture, and enough pasta water to mix it all together. Add flaked tuna and mix. Garnish with capers.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Christmas Morning Breakfast Casseroles

Christmas morning I find myself returning to memories of my Christmas mornings as a child where we would wake before the moon was tucked away for the day. So excited to see what Santa had left under the tree we would rush into our living room eyes filled with delight holding my breath as we got our first peek at our tree and gifts. Christmas still holds that child wonderment for me even now all these years later. After exchanging gifts our tradition includes a large Christmas morning breakfast before we ready for our company to arrive for Christmas dinner. I love to make these easy breakfast casseroles which conveniently can be readied the night before just baking in the morning for an easy, delicious Christmas morning.

Sausage, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Casserole


Nonstick cooking spray
1 pound chicken sausage links
6 slices soft hearty white bread
One 8-ounce package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
8 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13- by 9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat, until browned, about 10 minutes; drain well on paper towels. Slice into 1/2 inch pieces.

Cut and discard the crusts from the bread. Cut the slices in half, and arrange in a single layer in the prepared baking dish, cutting pieces to fit as necessary to cover the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with the sausage and cheese.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard, seasoned salt and pepper; carefully pour the mixture over the cheese.

Bake casserole until set and golden, about 40 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Cheese Grits and Sausage Casserole


  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups uncooked grits
  • 1/2 cup butter, divided
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 pound chicken sausage links
  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking dish.
  2. Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan, and stir in grits. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 5 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed. Mix in 1/2 the butter and 2 cups cheese until melted.
  3. In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage until evenly browned. Drain and slice into 1 inch slices. Mix into the grits. Beat together the eggs and milk in a bowl,  then mix into the grits.
  4. Pour the grits mixture into the prepared baking dish. Dot with remaining butter, and top with remaining cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned. 

Christmas Morning French Toast

1 loaf Italian bread ( 16 ounces)
8 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
crumb topping
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
Maple Syrup ( if desired, I don't think it is needed as the topping takes the place of maple syrup)

Slice Italian bread into 20 1-inch slices.  Arrange slices on a 9 x13 baking dish( spray with cooking spray)  in two rows, overlapping the slices.  In a large bowl combine eggs, half and half, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and beat with a mixer or whisk until blended. Pour egg mixture over the bread, slowly, making sure to evenly cover all the bread.   Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Crumb Topping:
1/4 cup of butter( 1 sick)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.

The next day preheat oven 350 F.  Spread topping over bread. (It will not cover all the bread)  Top with cranberries.  Bake covered for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.  Serve with maple syrup if desired.


Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Chocolate, caramel and sea salt, a perfect combination for a Christmas cookie. Each year I make copious quantities of Christmas cookies to give to friends and family. Sharing my creations with those I love is my personal way to celebrate the season. This cookie has become one of my family's favorite since they all love chocolate and caramel dusted with sea salt then drizzled with chocolate glaze!


    1 cup flour
    Generous 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    1 large egg yolk
    1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 cup fine granulated sugar

    CARAMEL Filling
   1/2 package caramels, unwrapped
   2 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
   1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus about 1/2 tsp. for sprinkling
   2 oz semi-sweet chocolate bar
   1 teaspoon shortening 


1. Make cookies: Preheat oven to 350°. Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl. In another bowl with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add egg yolk, cream, and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture.

2. Scoop dough into rounded 1-tsp. portions and roll into balls, then roll balls in sparkling or powdered sugar to coat. Place 2 in. apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. With end of a thick-handled wooden spoon, gently press an indentation into center of each cookie. Bake until cookies are just set, about 10 minutes. (The depressions tend to fill in a bit as they bake, so as soon as they're out of the oven, give them another press with the spoon if necessary.) Slide parchment with cookies onto cooling racks and let cool.

3. Make caramel: Place caramels in small heavy sauce pan with cream. Heat to boiling lower heat stirring until caramels are melted.

4. Assemble cookies: Spoon about 1/4 tsp. caramel into each cookie, then sprinkle with a few grains of sea salt.

5. Microwave chocolate and shortening on high for 30 seconds. Stir until chocolate is smooth. Drizzle over cookies.


The Ultimate Cheesecake

My mother passed this recipe to me many years ago.  It is the richest cheesecake that you can make.  I save it for special occasions when I want to share a show stopping dessert that tops off a dinner or a party.  I have included a recipe for a pineapple glaze, or you can thickly spread sour cream on top. Or if you want to make this for Christmas as I did this year I put candied cranberries on top. Ether way this  cheesecake is the star of the show!

1 cup sifted flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup butter, softened

5 pkg(8-oz) cream cheese softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoon flour
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 1/2 grated orange peel
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
5 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream

Pineapple Glaze:
2 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cans(8 1/4-oz) crushed pineapple in heavy syrup, undrained
2 tablespoon lemon juice
Sugared cranberries
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup water 

Preheat over to 400F.  Grease the inside of 9-inch springform pan(3 inches high). Remove side.  Make crust:  In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, lemon, peel, vanilla.  Make well in center; with fork, blend in yolk and butter.  Mix with fingertips until smooth. Form half of dough into a ball and place on bottom of springform pan. Place wax paper on top; roll pastry to edge of pan.  Remove paper. Bake 6 to ;8 minutes or until golden.  Cool.  Meanwhile divide rest of dough into three parts.  Between waxed paper roll each part 2 1/4 inch wide and 9 inch long. Assemble springform pan with the crust on the bottom. Line sides fo the pan with pastry strips, over lapping ends. Remove waxed paper.  Preheat oven 450F.

Filling: In large mixer bowl, blend cheese, sugar, flour, peels and vanilla at high speed.  Beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time: beat until smooth, occasionally scraping bowl with spatula.  Beat in cream.  Pour into pan.  Bake 10 minutes. Lower oven to 250F. Bake 1 hour longer.  Remove pan to rack to cool, 2 hours. Make glaze.

Glaze: In small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in remaining ingredients. Over medium heat, bring to boiling, stirring; boil 1 minute, or until thickened and translucent.  Cool.
Spread surface of cheese cake with glaze; refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.

Sugared Cranberries: Bring 1 cup sugar and water to a simmer in a saucepan. Simmer until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour simple syrup into a heatproof bowl and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Add cranberries and stir to coat. Refrigerate cranberries in syrup overnight, stirred a couple times to coat with syrup. 

Remove cranberries from syrup and roll in remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. You'll need to roll them a few times to get a couple layers of sugar on them.

Set cranberries aside to dry for a hour or so.

To serve: Loosen pastry fro side of pan with spatula.  Remove sides of springform pan.  Top with either Pineapple glaze or sugared cranberries. Serves 16

Salted Caramel Chocolate Bars


Who doesn't love caramel and chocolate. These bars have both and are very easy to make. Cookies generally require time although worth all the effort to make homemade cookies. If you love cookies but thought you didn't have the patients or time to make try a bar cookie. So easy to make without having to roll out or decorate. And so delicious, need I say more. Once you master the bar cookie you will always find time to whip up a batch.


  • 1 cup butter, soften 
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 14-oz package vanilla caramels, unwrapped
  • 1 14 ounce can (1 1/4 cups) sweetened condensed milk or low-fat sweetened condensed milk 
  •  1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate pieces
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or fine sea salt 


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the butter. In a large mixing bowl beat the remaining butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar and baking soda. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Stir in the rolled oats.
  2. For filling, in a medium saucepan combine the reserved 2 tablespoons butter, caramels and sweetened condensed milk. Cook over low heat until chocolate melts, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir 2 teaspoons vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.
  3. Press two-thirds (about 3-1/3 cups) of the rolled oats mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 15X10X1-inch baking pan. Spread caramel filling evenly over the oats mixture. Sprinkle chocolate chips.Dot remaining rolled oats mixture on filling.
  4. Bake for about 25 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Cool pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 60 bars.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Beautiful Surroundings Soothing to the Soul!

Seeking beauty in surroundings seems frivolous,wasting time, energy, money, especially when measured against ‘real’ world issues. A throw back to a time that has long passed, is not relevant and doesn’t exist. I for one beg to differ for filling my life with beauty effortless elevates my soul. The beauty that makes me happy changes from moment to moment presenting unlimited opportunities to enjoy. From a beautiful bouquet of fresh picked flowers simply arranged in a white pitcher to aromatic soup gracing an artfully designed bowel, all add an element of joy to normal surroundings. Style, grace, elegance, manners, all old fashion ideas, words belonging not to our face paced technology driven world, extinct, irrelevant to life as we live today. I challenge that tenant; for living with simple beauty in all aspects of life colors the world with a unique hue of infectious positivity.

Filling my life with beauty, man made or natural invites repose, beckoning me to stop, slow down, even if only for a second, to see, feel, partake with awe all that I normally ignore in my hectic life: Needed nourishment for a thriving like as much as food is needed for a healthy body. Of late I have become acutely aware that that ugliness in all forms, even words, depresses not only the mind but the physical body as well. Through the mind body connection our thoughts, moods, travel on pathways reaching all areas of our body creating either positive or negative results. By simply increasing awareness of beauty impacts all aspects of life.

Adding beauty each day, a single flower in a vase, a good book with engaging writing, a walk in the park, a breathtaking photo, a few examples of my ideas, is easy. The old adage “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” means the definition of beauty is wide range, uniquely individual, a bare canvas open for personal interpretation. Finding beauty, soaking in the feeling,  embracing the joy into one’s soul elevates even the downiest of days freeing you to be a light illuminating the world. Be the beacon for all sharing the rays of hope moving from darkness to light. Beauty lights up the bleakest moment allowing a smoother transition to the next. Fill each day with your personal definition of beauty  comforting  your path on life’s glorious journey.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Beef Bourguignon over Pasta

Beef Bourguignon over Pasta

2 tablespoon olive oil
2.5 lb boneless beef chuck, cut in 1.5 inch cubes
3 tablespoons brandy
1/2 lb. small white onions, peeled (about 12)
12 whole cloves
8 ounces whole or sliced mushrooms
2.5 tablespoons flour
2.5 teaspoons meat-extract paste (not liquid)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups red wine
3/4 cup dry sherry
3/4 cup ruby port
1 1/2 cup beef stock
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
1 pound of pasta

Recipe Instructions

Slowly heat 4 quart Dutch oven with tight-fitting lid. olive oil; heat, but do not burn.
In hot oil, over high heat, brown beef cubes well, using a fourth at a time, or just enough to cover bottom of Dutch oven.
Remove beef as it browns. Continue until beef is browned, adding more oil as needed. Return beef to Dutch oven.
In a small saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons brandy just until vapor rises. Ignite, pour over beef. As flame dies, remove beef.
Add 2 olive oil to Dutch Oven; heat slightly. Stud each onion with a clove. Add onions; cook over low heat, covered, until onions brown slightly. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in flour, meat-extract paste and tomato paste until well blended. Stir in wine, sherry, port and stock.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring wine mixture just to boiling, stirring. Remove from heat. Add beef, pepper, and bay leaf; mix well.
Bake, covered, stirring occasionally, 1.5 hours, or until beef is tender, adding remaining brandy, remove bay leaf.  Can be served along, over rice or pasta.

Serves 6
Taste better if made day ahead. Store in refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Can be reheated microwave or on stove top.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Snowy Winter White Chocolate Cranberry Cake

 Snowy Winter White Chocolate Cranberry Cake

Looking at this cake makes me think of glistering fresh new snow illuminated by a bright lite full moon! Not only is this cake a beautiful show stopper it also taste wonderful. I love this tender white cake filled a heavenly white chocolate ganache. Sugared cranberries finish this storybook cake to perfection to be a glorious finish to any holiday meal or party!

Sugared cranberries
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup water 

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups all purposed flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups cranberries

White Chocolate Icing

12 oz white chocolate chips

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
8-9 cups powdered sugar

Sugared Cranberries:

1. Bring 1 cup sugar and water to a simmer in a saucepan. Simmer until sugar is completely dissolved.
2. Pour simple syrup into a heatproof bowl and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
3. Add cranberries and stir to coat.
4. Refrigerate cranberries in syrup overnight, stirred a couple times to coat with syrup.
5. Remove cranberries from syrup and roll in remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. You'll need to roll them a few times to get a couple layers of sugar on them.
6. Set cranberries aside to dry for a hour or so. 
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 9" round cake pans. 
2. To make the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth
4.Gradually add the sugar and beat until fluffy. 
5.Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
6.Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and beat for 1 more minute. Add cranberries by hand.*
7.Divide the dough among the prepared pans. If you're using a scale, put 1 1/2 pounds of batter in each pan. 
8.Bake the cakes for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Turn the cakes out of the pans and cool completely on a rack. 
White Chocolate Icing
1. Place white chocolate chips in a metal bowl.
2. Microwave heavy cream until it starts to boil. Remove from microwave and pour over chocolate chips.
3. Cover bowl with saran wrap for 5-7 minutes.
4. Whisk chocolate and cream until smooth.
5. Allow ganache to sit until mostly cool. It should be thick.
6. Beat the ganache with a mixer for about 2-3 minutes, until smooth and fluffy.
7. Add butter and beat until it is fully combined.
8. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until it is fluffy and the right consistency. Add more cream if needed.

To assemble cake:

1. Remove cake domes from cakes with a large serrated knife.
2. Place first layer of cake on cake plate. Spread about icing on top in an even layer.
3. Add second layer of cake and add more icing on top in an even layer.
4. Add final layer of cake on top and ice the outside of the cake.
5. Top the cake with sparkling cranberries and add some around the edge, if desired. 
*Tip: Dust cranberries  with flour before adding to the batter to prevent their sinking to the bottom of the cake layers.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Cheese Grits and Sausage Casserole

Cheese Grits and Sausage Casserole


  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups uncooked grits
  • 1/2 cup butter, divided
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 pound chicken sausage links
  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking dish.
  2. Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan, and stir in grits. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 5 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed. Mix in 1/2 the butter and 2 cups cheese until melted.
  3. In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage until evenly browned. Drain and slice into 1 inch slices. Mix into the grits. Beat together the eggs and milk in a bowl,  then mix into the grits.
  4. Pour the grits mixture into the prepared baking dish. Dot with remaining butter, and top with remaining cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned.

Shout out to Southern Living Magazine

Only by chance many years ago on a vacation in the South did I discover Southern Living Magazine. Originally from Pennsylvania now living in Massachusetts this publication was not available in my area. Drawn to a beautiful picture of a sky high layer cake on the cover my interest was so thoroughly peeked prompting  me to take the magazine off the rack to peek inside. Skimming through the pages I was so drawn to the magazine I bought my first issue on our summer vacation. Initially drawn to the cake on the cover as I read the articles I felt immediately a kinship with the classic decorating featured in the publication. Classic but not unapproachable, I could feel comfortable incorporating the decorating ideas into my home. I looked forward to the arrival of each the new month eager for more decorating inspiration along with recipes add to my growing favorites from Southern Living,  Increasingly I looked to this inspirational magazine for recipes that were beautifully presented that I could easily duplicate for my family and friends. Along with inspiration I developed a kinship to the gracious southern lifestyle shared in the magazine, genuine hospitality at it's finest which spoke to my soul.

All these years later Southern Living never fails me with the ever changing selection of fail proof recipes. Although I am an experienced cook creating  my own recipes with a blog, I still turn to Southern Living Magazine each month for inspiration combined with new recipes that I look forward to cooking for my family. I continue to subscribe to other magazines but I find that lately their recipes are not in tune with not only everyday cooking but even with entertaining for company and celebrating holidays.  Southern Living's recipes are not intimidating, using hard to find ingredients along with tools not found outside a professional chef's kitchen. I recommend Southern Living to everyone who wants to learn as well as improve their cooking skills without having to goggle all the ingredients or purchase expensive kitchen tools that might never be used again. Why intimidate a new cook before they even have a change to make their first meal. Even for a cook such as myself I've learned that difficult doesn't always translate to good or exceptional. Cooking for me is a zen like experience that flows freely, never feeling strained or forced. Not to mention pretentious or snotty. I've learned that I don't want to feel that I've expended more energy in the preparation of  a meal than in the actual enjoying, savoring with family and friends. 

Thank you Southern Living for never failing to enthrall, to engage, me each and every month, twelve times a year! Check out December 2016 Southern Living's, I was not disappointed in this outstanding beautiful Holiday Issue!