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.