Saturday, 13 December 2014

5-Minute Shortbread (plus baking)

My husband was just commenting on how expensive store-bought shortbread is. Homemade is so easy and can be ready in 5 minutes.  My son has never been a sweet fan but even he looks forward to shortbread at Christmas.  My version is super quick and uses only three ingredients!  Honestly it should take more than 5 minutes to whip them together.  Makes a great gift.

Susan's 5-Minute Shortbread

1 cup of butter
2 1/2 cups of flour
3/4 cup of sugar
*sprinkles if you wish

Take a large microwaveable bowl.  Place butter and melt in microwave until liquid.  Stir in flour and sugar and make a ball.  Make sure it is well mixed.

Dough Ball

Spread out dough on greased baking sheet. Pat into a square.  Bake for 25 minutes at 325 degrees.

Patted into a Dough Square

I used red sprinkles.

Remove from oven and coat with sprinkles if using.  Cut into squares while still warm.

Let cool.  Enjoy!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Snowman Wreath

This was so easy!  I got the idea from Joss and Main.  You can see the original on my Pininterest board:

I basically took  3 wreaths that I got for $5 each.  I wired the together using my rose wire for my bushes.  I then wired in some berries and ornaments. Tied on ribbon for the scarf.  Add a old hat and voila.

Friday, 7 November 2014

10-Minute Stuffed Pork Loin

Week nights are always hectic getting dinner on the table.  In the early years we relied on things like chicken fingers, frozen pizza, and pork chops smothered in mushroom soup (my hubsand loves it, although I find it icky).  Anyway in my quest to rely less on commercial products, I came up with the quick recipe.  I usually have most of the ingredients on hand as you only need feta cheese, spinach, and roasted red peppers.

1 boneless pork loin - pre-seasoned if the have it.  Otherwise season it with Italian seasoning.
1 cube of feta cheese
1 handful of spinach 
1 roasted red pepper (I use the jarred) cut in strips

Lay pork on a cutting.  Slit it down the middle but not all the way through.  I think they call this butterflying.  Spread meat as wide as you can.  Place a layer of spinach down the middle of the meat.  Then  sprinkle with feta.  Top with strips of pepper.

Step 1 - fill with spinach, cheese and pepper
Once you have filled your pork pull both end of the meat back over.  Take your toothpicks and bind your two sizes together.
 Bake at 425 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes.
Step 2 - bind two sizes together with toothpicks
Remove from oven.  Let sit 5 minutes.  Remove toothpicks,  Slice and serve.

Step 3 - Size meat and serve

Sunday, 2 November 2014

$10,000 Kitchen Renovation - Part 1

We are about to jump on the Grey train.  But I'll get to that later.  I thought since I do all my baking in my kitchen, I would share our renovation.  We moved into our house in 1995.  It was built in the 1980's and done cheaply.  Right from the get go, I hated the kitchen.  It's only saving grace was that the cabinets were white laminate.  But newly married, money was tight and we could not afford a renovation (I don't know how all the young couples do it these days).  So, it being the 90's, I put up bright wallpaper and we lived with it for a LONG while. It had a really ugly floor when we moved in.  We did replace that with a soft green laminate.  We had a newborn and wanted something soft on the floors.  We also ripped the carpet of our the family room and put down laminate.  Back in those days you had to glue laminate which trust me that sucked.  My poor husband lost a lot of his hair that day (and it never came back  :) ) This is how it looked.  It is open to the family room.  However, it had weird walls going up the middle of the room.  Must have been a 80's thing.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Slowcooker CopyCat Habitat Pea Soup (French-Canadian)....the lazyversion

Inside the Crock Pot - just mashed
If you are Canadian you probably know about the pleasures of Habitant Pea Soup, especially on a blustery day.  This version tastes very close.  For my lazy version I use deli black forest ham because I always have it in the fridge.  However, purists can use a ham bone or ham hocks instead.  When I see them, I buy them for this soup but deli ham does just as well believe it or not.

2 cups of dried yellow peas
8 cups of water
1 onion diced
2 large carrots diced
2 stalks of celery diced (I often skip this as I never seem to have celery in the fridge)
4 slices of deli ham, or ham bone or ham hock (I have even used ham steaks)
1 tsp of marjoram
1 tsp of savory
pinch of thyme
1 tbsp of sea salt
1/2 tsp of pepper

Put peas, onion, carrots, celery and ham inside crock pot.  Pour water on top.  Sprinkle spices over water.  Stir to mix.  Cook on low for 8 hours or 4 hours on high or until peas are soft.  Using a potato masher, mash soup and squish about half the peas to give thicker consistency.  Serve hot.  Even better the next day.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Lazy One Bowl Brownies

Circulating around the internet are some really good brownie recipes. Food 52 hands down has the best recipe.  However, their version is a bit more work intensive involving melting butter over a double boiler.  I have come up with the Lazy version of the recipe.  Trust me, these are out of the world!!  Not to mention, you can whip them up in about 10 minutes plus baking time plus you only have one bowl to clean!

Modified: From dessert of Food52.

  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cold large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 2/3 cups walnut or pecan pieces (optional)
Just out of oven. 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Spray an 8 X 8 baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a medium ceramic bowl.  Place bowl in microwave and heat until butter is melted.  I use the melt setting for 1 stick of butter and then add 30 seconds.  Mix until combined.
  3. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. Add the flour and stir until it disappears then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with a wooden spoon.  It will look very glossy.  (similar to a store bought mix)  Pour into pan.
  4. Bake until a cake tester comes out mostly clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on a rack.  Cut into squares.  

Monday, 22 September 2014

10 Minute Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins (plus baking)

In our busy lives finding time to bake becomes a challenge.  Some things are worth just getting at the grocery store.  Cannoli for instance, a favorite of my husband.  Muffins on the other hand are so easy to whip up and homemade never has all the artificial stuff that store bought products add.  These muffins really can be whipped up in ten minutes and they are truly delicious.

10 Minute Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

2 cups of mashed ripe bananas.  Over ripe are even better.  I use 3 -4 bananas.
1/2 cup melted butter (I use the microwave)
1/4 cup of milk
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

In large bowl, mix melted butter and bananas.  Stir in milk and eggs until blended.  I use a mixer but you can also do it by hand.

Add one cup of flour, salt, baking power and soda.  Stir just until combined.  Add second cup.  Again stir until combined.  Don't overmix.  Gently stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon into muffin tins.  You can either grease or use liners.  Should make about 18 muffins.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until done.  

That's it.  Easy, peasy.

Just out of the oven

$6.00 Fall Glass Hurricane

Back when I got married in the 1990's and HGTV was new, home decorating crafting was huge. You name it, we probably made it.  Eucalyptus swags were everywhere and silk flowers had a heyday.  Looks like some really nice silks are making a comeback.  I even did a number of craft shows back in the day selling swags and table arrangements.  After a long hiatus I wanted to try something crafty.  My dog Patrick and I went walking the woods picking some fresh foliage.

I had a hurricane which I picked up at a church jumble sale for $5.  I added a $1 slim glass and candle from the dollar store into the middle of the hurricane.  Surrounded it with my woodland picks and voila, my $6 Glass Hurricane decorated for Fall.  Later in the year, I will try something for Christmas.  Cranberries perhaps.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Copycat McClure's Refrigerator Garlic Dill Pickle Spears Recipe

I absolutely love dill pickles.  I used to buy expensive gourmet pickles because I loved the homemade taste.  That was before I discovered how easy homemade refrigerator pickles are.  No sterilizing or boiling.  We are addicted to these.  I think these taste as good as the fabulous pickles by McClures.

Refrigerator Garlic Dill Pickle Spears - enough for 4 large canning jars


1 small basket of pickling cucumbers 
1 bunch of fresh dill
1 clove or garlic - separated
cayenne pepper to taste 
6 cups of water
5 1/4 cups of white vinegar
4 tablespoons of course salt (pickling salt)
1 table of pickling spice (optional - adds flavor, but is not necessary for great pickles)

Wash and clean cucumbers.  Slice into spears.  
Place 2 cloves of garlic at the bottom of each canning jar.  Add a generous sprig or two of dill to the bottom of jar.  Fill jars with spears.  Leave enough room for liquid.

In pot combine water, vinegar, salt and pickling spice is using.  Sprinkle a bit of cayenne to taste over water.  Bring water to boil until salt dissolves. Remove from heat.  Fill each jar with hot liquid dividing between the four jars.  Make sure to completely cover cucumbers.  Place a couple more springs of dill at top of jar.  Place lids on jar.  

Store in refrigerator  Pickles should be ready to eat in 72 hours.  

Friday, 18 July 2014

Best Ever Snickerdoodle Cookie

My son adores these cookies.  He is not a sweet eater, but he absolutely loves these.  They are soft, chewy, and taste of this world.  Of all my cookie recipes, they are the best.  So easy that you will never want store bought again!

Best Ever Snickerdoodle Cooke - makes about 2 dozen


3 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon + 1 tsp of cinnamon separate

1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup butter, softened
    2 eggs
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda

In small bowl mix together white sugar with one tbsp of cinnamon.  Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugars.  Add tsp of cinnamon and mix to combine.  Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well.  Add flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix gently until combined.  Don't overmix or you will get hard cookies.

Scoop a spoonful of mix and roll into a ball in your hand.  About the size of a tim-bit or donut hole (1 inch).  It is a little messy on the hands. but worth it.  Roll ball in sugar/cinnamon mixture. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheets and bake at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from sheets and let cool on racks.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

200 Cupcakes required....Oh My!

My son got his first "real job" this summer running special events for our local politician. Well times are tight and he requested that I donate the desserts for an upcoming community bbq.  "Just enough to feed 200, Mom.  You bake that much at Christmas" he says.  Well not quite, but I am always up for a challenge.  So I have decided to pick six - eight  favorite recipes.  At the top of my list is a delicious cupcake from Martha Stewart - Banana Cupcakes with Honey-Cinnamon Frosting.  They are moist and delicious and super easy.  Last time I made them look light the beach with brown sugar and tiny umbrellas.

Banana Cupcakes with Honey-Cinnamon Frosting - 12 - 16 cupcakes

Originally posted on Martha Stewart - Original recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 ripe bananas)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a mixing bowl, add butter, eggs, and banana.  Add dry ingredients (recipes will always tell you to mix dry ingredients separately, and then add.  Being lazy and not liking extra dishes, I never do and have never had an issue).  Mix until blended.  Don't overmix.  Spoon into muffin cups.  

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.   Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Spread tops with Honey-Cinnamon Frosting.


  • 1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix together in bowl using electric mixer until fluffy.  Spread over cupcakes.

Monday, 7 July 2014

In search of the perfect rose

Even as a little girl, I have always loved roses.  Not the tea roses but the full bloom, sweet smelling old fashioned cabbage rose.  When I first started my garden about 20 years ago, I had never tried growing roses for myself and it has not been easy.  During this time, I read an article Better Homes and Gardens about 10 easy roses to grow.  The story focused on albas, bourbons and other old fashioned roses rather than the tricky tea rose which according to the article needed a lot of skill.  Old fashioned roses apparently need little care, just water and sunlight the article lead me to believe.  Sounded like my kind of roses.

I ordered about five of the roses recommended in the article, planted them in the Fall, the best time to plant roses, and waited for spring.  And thus, my disappointment or lack of skill perhaps, with the rose began.

The first rose called Alba Maxima was beautiful for a few years before suddenly dying.  This one would be worth replanting as it was truly gorgeous accept it only bloom once.  The second Alba I put in was Blush Hip, the only rose the author would grow if she could choose one.

Blush Hip - from Pickering Nurseries site - where I buy my roses

I still grow Blush Hip but what the picture doesn't show is how small the blooms are.  The have a really nice scent but since Alba's only blooms once, most of the year I have a plain green rose vine of my trellis.  I've been meaning to add a clematis or something to liven it up.

My biggest success is the David Austen Rose- George Hamilton.
Full Blooms

George Hamilton - Full blooms - Scented

Under pine tree
Geoff as I can him, has been very consistent.  When I put him in, I didn't have a lot of room and knowing little about roses he went under a pine tree  which is quite shady but with half sun. He has flourished.  This year, after a really hard winter, I had one little branch left at the base.  Above is how it looks despite only have this one little branch in the spring.  Big roses, lovely scent, decent bloomer.

My other David Austen - Mary Rose, is also still with me as is my original bourbon - Louise Odier.  Beautiful roses that do bloom intermittently throughout the summer.

Mary Rose - David Auston rose
The rose that never stops blooming all summer which was what in my ignorance is what I thought all roses did is New Dawn.  It goes like wildfire.  We cut it back every couple of years and it still grows like gangbusters.  I grow it at the side of my porch at the front so it might like the warmth of the house.  It does not have a scent however.
New Dawn
I have a number of other roses - Pilgrim - David Auston, thre Explorer Roses - Jens Munk, John Davis and Morden Blush.  All three produce lovely roses, with Morden Blush producing the most old fashioned rose like of the three.  They are all recurrent, but much more sparsely and they are unscented.

So, my quest for the perfect rose - in my eyes, large blooms, sweet scent and actually has a  growth habit that flowers almost continuously from June to the end of September continues.  In the meantime, below are the top things I had wished I knew about roses when I first started:

1.  Websites provide guidelines. However just because the site promises continual bloom, that may not be the case in my garden.  
2.  Give lots of room to roses.  Roses despite best efforts get black spot.  I like a full garden look.  However, I didn't give the roses enough air to circulate. 
3.  Pictures are deceptive - they don't really show the size of the rose.  Also, roses in real life rarely bloom as profusely as the picture shows.
4.  Trial and Error for site.  As I said, Geoff loves under the tree.  I suspect others may not.  I moved Jens Munk from a shadier spot to full sun with better results.  Don't be afraid to move a rose.
5.  If you really don't like a rose, it is okay to scrap it and try something else.  I use to feel so guilty if I took out a plant.  However, if it is not working, it is okay to try something else.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

One Bowl Dilly Potato Salad

One bowl is a theme of mine.  The less I have to dirty the better as I hate cleaning.  Potato Salad of course is a old standby and this is my version after trying many different versions.  I find the dill flavor lends a unique flavor.  Quite yummy and tastes even better the next day.

One Bowl Dilly Potato Salad

8 red potatoes
3 hard boiled eggs
1 cup of mayo
4 mini dill pickles chopped or two large
3 tbsps of pickle juice or more to taste (right out of the jar)
1 tbsp of dijon mustard
1 small onion chopped
1 tsp of celery seed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Peel and quarter potatoes.  You can leave unpeeled if you wish. Cover with water in large pot. Boil until tender but not overly soft.  About 15 minutes.
Drain hot water and replace with cold water to help cool potatoes.
In the meantime, hard boil 3 eggs.  When done, I put eggs in same pot as potatoes to cool.  Once cool, peel eggs.

In your serving bowl, place all three eggs and with fork chop eggs. Add chopped pickle and pickle juice. Add mustard and onion, celery seed, and salt and pepper .  Mix.  Add Mayo.

Once mixed well.  Add your potatoes and mix to coat well.  Chill for at least 2 hours more if possible.  Sprinkle with paprika and serve.  My photo is a bit blurry but trust me it was gobbled up.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Perfect Eggs

I love eggs -scrambled, poached, in casseroles and my family's favorite, deviled.  Nothing is worse than trying to peel hard boiled eggs only to have them not peel cleanly for a smooth finish.  They look pockmarked.  I've read the the newer the egg the harder it is to peel. Or you want that perfect soft boiled egg only to have it come out to hard. However, I have one kitchen appliance that gives me perfect eggs every time.  It is my egg steamer.

I know it is probably cheating, but it is was worth the investment as I use it regularly.  It is so easy.  It can do up to seven eggs.  You fill the water cup depending on number of eggs and whether you want your egg soft, medium or hard boiled.  Using the other end of the cup you poke a small hole in one end of the egg.  You put the lid on and hit start.  The cooker makes perfect eggs every time.  It can even poach three eggs if you wish.  I wish it could do more, but I mostly use it for boiled eggs.

In keeping with the egg theme, below is my recipe for simple deviled eggs that are always popular and a requested recipe.  The trick to this recipe is personal taste.  As you go along adjust to taste if necessary.

Simple Deviled Eggs

Boil 8 eggs.  Cool in cold water for 10 minutes.  Peel.  Halve eggs lenghwise.  Scoop out yolk and put in mixing bowl.  

There may be a bit of yellow residue inside egg but that is okay.  The should look like this:

  Start by adding a half cup of mayo to yolks.  I often use lite.  Beat with mixer on high speed (this is one of the tricks of really good eggs).  This makes the egg filling really smooth.  Keep adding mayo by the spoonful ( one or three more) until the beaten eggs are really smooth with few lumps.  Add:

1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp of yellow mustard - dry or  regular
1 tsp of turmeric - yes turmeric- it is the secret ingredient
a couple dashes of hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste - few shakes of each

Remix until blended.  Spoon into egg halves.  I don't do the fancy piping.  Spooning works well.  Sprinkle with paprika.  

Let's it.  (I'll post pictures the next time I make them).  Everyone loves them.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Mud Pie

Simple Desserts

My Mother would make this dessert when she entertained.  I use to sneak downstairs and sneak a piece out of the freezer it was good as she entertaining guests in the living room.  This dessert is so easy but tastes so decadent.

mud pie


  • 1 8-1/2 oz. package chocolate wafers or oreo crumbs (if using oreo crumbs, no need to bake)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 ice cream, softened
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar & 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups whipping cream 
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla extract


  • 1
    Crush chocolate wafers into fine crumbs. In small saucepan over low heat, melt 1/2 cup butter. In 9" pie plate combine crumbs and butter and press mixture to bottom and side of plate. Bake at 375° F for 10 minutes. Cool crust completely on wire rack.
  • 2
    Carefully spread coffee ice cream into crust, freeze until firm, about 1-1/2 hours.
  • 3
    In large saucepan over medium heat, cook cocoa, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup of whipping cream and 3 Tbsp. butter until mixture is really smooth and boils. Remove and heat and stir in 1 tsp. vanilla. Cool mixture slightly the pour over coffee ice cream. Return pie to freezer, freezing at least one hour.
  • 1
    In small bowl and with mixer at medium speed, beat remaining whipping cream with 2 Tbsp. sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla until soft peaks form.
  • 2
    Serve pie with whipped cream.- or you can skip this step...tastes good either way

Why Start this Blog

I turn 50 next year and I don't know how many times in the past quarter century that I've said, "I wish someone had told me that".  So as I enter my next century, I thought I would pass on things I wish I had known when I first got married.  Mostly, I just want to share some of my easy recipes that make for great family dinners and easy entertaining.  No one told me that entertaining could be easy.  I always thought everything had to be fancy and "from scratch".  Not that I don't love a great menu but I have found many recipes that fit the bill of easy and affordable while making guests and family happy.

So, I want to start with my most requested appy.  Made in less than 10 minutes.  I've noticed at potlucks that many of my co-workers in their 20's and 30's don't cook or bake but bring store bought items.  Store bought is expensive and often lacks the same taste of something homemade.  They complain they don't have time for homemade.  This recipe is really quick and easy and always requested.

Best Ever Taco Dip

Take a glass pie plate.

Inside the pie plate add:

1 container of cream cheese - 8 ounces
Add 3/4cup of mayo.  Swirl together and press to cover bottom of plate.
Add  one cup of salsa to cover cheese/mayo mixture (I use Pace salsa)
Add one cup of shredded cheese and spread over plate - In a hurry use Tex-Mex mix or grate cheddar or Monterey Jack
Top with one tomato chopped into small pieces.

Serve with taco chips - Lime flavored ones are the best

I have tried over the years adding other ingredients like olives, avocado, green pepper.  You are welcome to do so but I find simple is best.  The dip get gobbled up because it appeals to almost everyone.