Friday, September 21, 2018

Poached White Fish with Tomatoes and Onions

I would say about 7-8 years ago I would throw some fish in a skillet add a cup of water with some diced celery and onions. Simple but kind of blah. So I discovered you can poach fish in any liquid, I’m using white wine. How does that sound?


1 1/2 lbs fresh white fish; cod, sole or halibut 
1 bay leaf
4 thyme sprigs
4 slices of lemon
1/2 cup white wine 

Tomato and onion sauce:

1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered 
Salt and pepper, to taste 
1/4 cup red onion, finely minced 
3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, finely chopped 
Juice from a freshly squeezed lemon 
4 tablespoons olive oil 


In a bowl, add the quartered cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and stir well to combine. Set aside for 15 minutes.

In another bowl, add the red onions, basil, lemon juice and olive oil and whisk until blended. Pour on the tomatoes and toss well. In a saucepan add the herbs and wine then the fish. Top each fillet with a slice of lemon. Add enough water to barely cover the fish. Bring to a boil over high heat then cover and reduce to a simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. 

To serve top with the tomato and onion sauce. Yum Yum!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Ossobuco with Beef Shanks

Beauty of the braise. Low and slow. The long braise at low heat melts tough meat into tasty tender body warming deliciousness. This is taking something less than special and making it extra special. It teaches the benefits of concentrating flavors. You can use beef or pork. (My recipe is with beef) 

If you are having company use the more traditional lamb shanks. Cook it in an enamel cast iron pot. Simmer slowly on a low burner. Leave the lid cracked just a bit. See you in a few hours. Make some rice. Season a can of black beans and heat. Sound good?

Serves 4 Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes


2 lbs cross-cut beef shanks
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced fennel
1 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups beef stock
1 bay leaf


1/4 cup finely, chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Zest from 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt


 Pat the beef shanks dry with paper towel. Season the shanks with a generous amount of salt and pepper, then dust with flour. Tie kitchen twine around each of the shanks to ensure they hold together during cooking. In a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or braiser, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shanks and sear on both sides until well browned. Remove from pot and set aside.

Add carrot, fennel, onion and garlic to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until onion is translucent and soft. Stir in tomato paste, and continue cooking for 1 minute. Stir in wine, gently scraping the pot to release any browned bits clinging to the bottom.

 Nestle the reserved shanks and bay leaf into the vegetables, and pour beef stock overtop.Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for about 2 hours, or until the shanks are tender and falling off the bone. Check periodically to make sure the shanks are covered ¾ of the way up with braising liquid, topping up with water if the liquid level gets too low.

Meanwhile, prepare the gremolata by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Once shanks are ready, remove and transfer to a serving platter, leaving the braising liquid in the pot. Snip off kitchen twine from the shanks, and discard.

Increase the heat to medium-high, and bring the braising liquid to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until reduced to a thick, glossy sauce. Discard the bay leaves. Taste to check the seasoning, and adjust as needed with salt and pepper. Serve shanks with the reduced braising liquid and a sprinkling of gremolata. Yum Yum!

Easy Quick Hollandaise Sauce

Have you ever wondered if there is a better way to make Hollandaise sauce than the one where you involve a wire whisk and a lot of elbow grease?  You do need a good blender, like a Vitamix.  Here is what you have to do....

1.  Crack 8 large eggs into a bowl and set them aside. You don't have to beat them or break the yolks.

2.  Take one pound of butter and put it in a saucepan.  Heat until boiling.  This is a very important part the butter must be boiling in order for it the next step to work.

3.  When the butter is just about to temperature, drop the eggs into your blender and spin them on high. As the blender is spinning slowly pour in the hot boiling butter. Please be careful with this step as boiling butter is very hot and doesn't come off easily. It will cause a serious burn if it comes in contact with exposed skin.  This process with cook the eggs and make the sauce simultaneously. Timing is important, if you wait too long and the butter cools the sauce won't turn out properly. If you hesitate, reheat the butter back up to temperature.

4.  Add salt, pepper and freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste.

5.  Store in a thermos-type container until ready to use.

6.  This make a rather large batch. If you don't need as much reduce the eggs and butter in half. Yum Yum.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Banana Brownies

I've never heard of banana brownies before, have you?  They sound good.  Let me know if you try them. Servings: 12 Total Time: 35 minutes


1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 oz white chocolate
2 mashed bananas
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour


Preheat oven to 350F. In a large microwave bowl, melt the butter and white chocolate in 30 second bursts, stirring each time until melted.

Stir in the sugar and mashed bananas, then add the eggs, salt, vanilla and mix well.  Add in the flour until completely incorporated.

Spread batter into a 8" square pan and bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely and store covered. Yum Yum!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Cheese Covered Pork Chops with Caramelized Onions

I’m using my new Staub Cast-Iron Braiser to make this recipe. You can use any skillet that is oven-proof up to 500F. If your skillet is only recommended for up to 400F, then I would skip broiling at the end of the directions. You are only broiling to melt the cheese. The cheese will still melt at 350F, it just might take longer than 5 minutes.

I’ve been watching MasterChef and noticed that some of their pork dishes are a little pink inside. You’ve probably been warned about undercooked pork, but the USDA has changed porks cooking temperature in recent years that 145F is safe to eat from the original 165F. My recommendation on this recipe is to check the internal temperature before broiling (if you are boiling) as the pork will remain juicy if finished at a lower temperature.

Serves 8 Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 8 6 ounce center cut boneless pork chop (1 1/4" thick each) trim away excess fat
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds onions peeled and sliced to 1/2" thick
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups gouda cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Heat large pan or dutch oven to high.  Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season the pork chops generously with salt and pepper then brown the each side of the pork for 3 mins per side. Don't overcrowd the pan. Its better to do it in batches and give the pork room to brown. Remove all pork from the pan and place on a side plate and proceed to cook the onions in this pan

  2. Place 2 tablespoons olive oil in pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add onions and cook until the onions are a deep rich brown color. About 35-45 minutes total. DO NOT TURN THE HEAT TO HIGH to cook it faster, they will burn quickly.  At about 15 minutes of cooking the onions you will add the wine to the pan and continue to cook the onions.  The onions will reduce down a lot. Don't worry. Its what is supposed to happen.

  3. Once the onions are nice and browned, add garlic, thyme and flour to onions and stir vigorously to combine. Continue to cook for 3 minutes. Then add half of the broth and stir and cook for 5 minutes. Then scoop out 1/3 of the onions and place on a plate. Add the rest of the broth,  mustard and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil.The sauce should start to thicken in a few minutes.

  4. Place the pork chops back into the pan with thickened onions/broth and then divide the onions you have set aside and place them atop of each pork chop. Place into a 350° oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Then remove from the oven and turn the oven to broil. Sprinkle the grated cheese over each of pork chop topped with onions. Place pan back in the oven and broil until cheese is melted and golden brown. (about 5 minutes depending on your oven) Serve..Yum Yum

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Pumpkin French Toast Casserole

Don’t you love fall with the cooler weather, the leaves changing colors and the pumpkin recipes from coffee drinks to bread pudding. And then someone came up with this Pumpkin French Toast Casserole with a praline could something be so perfect on a cool fall morning. This would be a Sunday morning treat as this recipe takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to make and well worth it. Serves 8


French Toast:
1 16 oz loaf of French bread
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cup milk
5 large eggs
3/4 cup pumpkin purée
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

Praline topping:
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup or honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


French Toast: cut bread into 1/2” pieces and place in a 9x13 backing dish. In a medium bowl beat together the remaining French Toast ingredients until well combined. Pour over bread, press bread down so each piece soaks up egg mixture. Cover with foil and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.

Preheat oven 350F

Praline topping: melt butter in a medium bowl in the microwave. Pour the rest of the ingredients into the melted butter and stir until combined. Pour over the French Toast Casserole. Bake uncovered 50-60 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Yum Yum!

Tomato Soup in a Bread Bowl

In Food Network’s October issue the front cover has a picture of Cheesy Tomato Soup in a Bread Bowl. It got me thinking...when I go out for lunch, what is my go to soup? Well it’s Tomato Basil. Wouldn’t a tomato basil soup with cheese in a bread bowl sound delicious? I’d say..Serves 4-6 Total Time: 40 minutes


2 teaspoons olive oil or ghee
1 small sweet onion, minced 
2 small garlic cloves, minced 
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes 
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes 
4-6 teaspoons sugar 
2 cups low sodium vegetable stock 
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 
Salt and pepper, to taste 
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil 
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 
4-6 bread bowls
4-6 slices of mozzarella cheese 


Add oil to a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in onion and saute for 5-6 minutes or until translucent and tender. Add minced garlic and saute for 1 minute more. Pour in tomatoes, sugar, stock, vinegar, and salt & pepper and stir to combine. Bring the soup to a boil then turn off the heat. Stir in the fresh basil & fresh parsley.

Set your oven to broil. Ladle the tomato soup into the bread bowls, top with a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese, and broil until bubbly and golden brown. Sprinkle with more fresh basil & parsley and serve immediately. Yum Yum!

What’s your favorite soup in a bread bowl? Let me know. Thanks 😋

Friday, September 14, 2018

Instant Pot Pumpkin Cheesecake

This Instant Pot Pumpkin Cheesecake is made with pumpkin purée. I read this interesting note about Libby’s Pumpkin Purée, that they produce about 85% of the worlds canned pumpkin. But it’s not pumpkin, it’s squash. In fact, the picture on the can of a pumpkin wouldn’t be very tasty. The contents of the can are mostly Dickinson squash, a relative of the common butternut variety.

The FDA doesn’t draw a fine line between squash and pumpkin, so Libby can label their can’s ingredients as pumpkin, legally. In most cases the can’s contents are a blend of squash varieties, since the cost and availability of produce changes from year to year. Just an learn something every day.

Serves 6 Total Time: 25 minutes


1 cup crushed gingersnaps + some crumbled for topping (optional)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup pumpkin purée
1/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 tablespoon flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Caramel sauce for serving


Line the bottom of a 7” springform pan with parchment paper. Combine the gingersnaps and the butter and press into the bottom of the pan.

Beat the cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer on medium until smooth. Add in the eggs, pumpkin purée and sour cream, beat until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the flour, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla, beat until blended. Spread over crust and tap on counter to release any bubbles.

Add a cup of water to the Instant Pot and place the rack inside. Put the pan on top of the rack, lock the lid, make sure your release valve is closed and set to high pressure for 30 minutes. Use the quick release method when done to vent the steam. Remove pan carefully and refrigerate for 4 hours. To serve, loosen sides with a thin knife, remove the collar of the springform pan and place on a plate. Top with caramel and crumbled gingersnaps (optional). Yum Yum!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Crispy Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

I made this Crispy Chicken with Brussel Sprouts in cooking class. I loved making this dish in the Staub Cast-Iron  Braiser so much, I had to buy one. As you know cast-iron pans can last a lifetime and sometimes get passed from one generation to the next. Why are cast-iron pans loved by cooks?

1. It heats evenly and consistently
2. Relatively inexpensive compared to other cookware and lasts
3.  If seasoned, will be stick resistance just like high-end nonstick pans
4. They can go from induction or stovetop right to the oven
5. Practically indestructible, just don’t drop it on a very hard surface. Don’t cook with acidic foods, as the chemical reaction causes rust. (Unless it’s enameled.)
6. If the finish gets ruined, just scrub and reseason.

How to Season:

If you have a pan that has never been seasoned or in need of reseasoning, just coat it in oil, bake it upside down on a foil-lined baking sheet, in a 400F oven for an hour. Sometimes the pan just needs to be refreshed. In that case, heat the pan on the stovetop for 10 minutes on medium-low heat. While the pan is hot, carefully coat it with a thin layer of oil, using a paper towel or a  silicone basting brush. Let the pan cool. Remove any excess oil and store for a later use.

Since this Staub Cast-Iron Braiser is an enameled cast iron it is coated with a thin layer of porcelain, making it rustproof and non-reactive to acidic foods. Enameled cookware doesn’t have to be seasoned and it is durable and easy to clean and maintain.

One note: cast-iron heats up quickly and the handles get Hot! Don’t forget to use a hand towel, pot holder or silicone handle sleeves.


If I make this again, I’m going to change it up a bit, substituting the Brussel sprouts for Klondike potatoes and the thighs for some breasts with skin to keep them crispy, bone-in would be optional. I might parboil the the potatoes, because they take longer to cook than Brussel sprouts. Would you substitute anything? If so, what? Serves 4


1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
4 chicken thighs, bone-in skin-on, about 1 1/2 lbs
Sea salt and pepper, to taste 
4 ounces of pancetta, diced into 1/2” pieces 
1 medium yellow onion, diced into 1/4” pieces 
1 garlic clove, minced 
8 oz hard apple cider
1 lb Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved 
1/4 cup heavy cream 
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme 


Preheat oven to 375F

In your Staub Cast-Iron Braiser set over med/high heat, add your oil. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper. When oil is hot, add the chicken skin side down and cook until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Turn over cook an additional minute, then remove to a plate and set aside.

In the same skillet, add the pancetta and cook until the fat has rendered out and the pancetta is crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Pour out enough fat to just leave 2 tablespoons then add your Brussel sprouts and onions. DeGlaze the skillet with the hard apple cider (smells wonderful) scraping the fond (brown bits) on the bottom of the skillet. Nestle the chicken back into the skillet, skin side up. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken internal temperature reaches 165F and the Brussel sprouts are fork tender. 

Return to the stove top , add the cream and thyme. Let simmer about 5 minutes to thicken sauce. To serve: ladle sauce over chicken and sprinkle on the crispy pancetta. Yum Yum!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Savory Mushroom Tomato Parmesan Bread Pudding

Have you made a savory bread pudding instead of stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner? I never thought of it until I made this Savory Mushroom Tomato Parmesan Bread Pudding in cooking class the other day. In fact, I’ve never made a savory version, mine have always been on the sweet side, like my Pumpkin Bread Pudding I made last March.  


2 tablespoons unsalted butter + some for greasing
2 leeks, sliced thin
8 oz cremini mushrooms, remove stems and slice thin
Sea salt and pepper, to taste 
2 cups baby spinach 
6 cups sour dough bread, cubed (we used English muffins)
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese 
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese + some for the top
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups half and half
2 teaspoons fresh thyme 
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped 
2 medium ripe tomatoes, sliced and placed on a paper towel 


Preheat oven to 400F

In a 12” cast-iron skillet or a 4 qt Dutch Oven set over medium heat add the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned, about 7 minutes. Add the leek and salt and pepper cook until softened. Add in the spinach and stir until wilted, about a minute more. Remove to a bowl, set aside 

In another bowl add the bread, gruyere cheese, beaten eggs, half and half, thyme and rosemary, mix well and make sure all the bread gets absorbed. Salt and pepper, to taste. 

Wipe out the skillet and grease it with butter. Add a 1/3rd of the bread mixture, then a third of the sliced tomatoes, top with a third of the mushrooms and sprinkle 1/3rd of the parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Repeat twice ending with the last of the grated cheese. Bake until the custard sets and the top is browned, 25-30 minutes. Remove, serve hot...straight from the skillet. Yum Yum!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Savory Pecan Pumpkin Spread with Pumpkin Butter

I was in Williams Sonoma today ordering a Staub cast-iron braiser for my birthday. I’m really getting serious about this cooking thing when I want cookware instead of clothing or shoes. Anyway, they always have some food on display to try. First, I tried the pumpkin malted milk balls and then I tried the Savory Pecan Pumpkin Spread made with Pumpkin Butter....OMG soooo good! Yes, I bought both. 


4oz Muirhead pecan pumpkin butter 
8 oz of cream cheese, softened 
3 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled 
2 green onions, finely chopped 
1 cup pecans, chopped 


Mix ingredients together until well blended and serve or layer cream cheese on the bottom, topped with pumpkin butter, then sprinkled with bacon, green onions and pecans on top. Serve with crackers, pretzels or apple slices. Yum Yum!

What can you do with Pecan Pumpkin Butter besides using it in a Spread or Pie? 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Rustic Apple Tart with Almond Pastry

Cooked in a cast iron skillet this Rustic Apple Tart can be modified by using other seasonal fruits, such as pears. But every year we look forward to Apple season. If your one of those people that like to pick apples, you probably pick more than you could ever eat. That’s why today I’m focusing on a recipe to use your apples. There’s nothing quite like an apple tart where the apples are smothered in a caramel sauce and baked with an almond pastry that is delicious 😋.


Almond pastry
  1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  1/2 cup almond meal
  2 tablespoons sugar
  1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  1 stick (4oz) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2” cubes
  1 large egg yolk
  1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  2-3 tablespoons ice water

Caramel and apple filling
  1 cup sugar
  2 tablespoons water
  1 teaspoon lemon juice
  2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  3 large Granny Smith or any sweet-tart apples (about 1 1/2lbs)


Almond Pastry:  place the flour, almond meal, sugar and salt in a food processor, pulse to combine. Add in the cut butter and pulse again until the butter is the size of small peas. Add the egg yolk, the extract and the ice water pulse until large clump forms. Put some flour on your work surface. Transfer the dough onto the work surface and form a ball. Flatten the ball into a disk, cover it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375F, with the rack placed in the middle.

Caramel and apple filling: place a 10” cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the sugar and lemon juice. Mix to combine then let cook until the sugar turns a caramel color, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat then add in the butter and salt.

Peel, core and cut the apples lengthwise into 1/4” slices. When caramel is ready, arrange sliced apples in the skillet over the top of the sauce in a circular pattern, overlapping slightly to cover the sauce completely. Be careful the caramel is HOT!

Generously flour a work station and place the chilled dough on the flour. Dust the top of the dough with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll chilled dough into a circle, turning the dough each time you roll. Roll out to a 10” circle and 1/4” thick. Roll the dough around the rolling pin then transfer to the skillet. Unroll over the skillet to cover the apples and tuck the edges inside against the iron skillet. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow tart to cool 5 minutes.

Place a heatproof round serving plate over the skillet (see picture) and carefully flip the tart onto the plate. Cut into wedges and serve. Yum Yum!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Disneyland Gumbo

According to someone on Quora you are supposed to perfect certain dishes before you are 30 years old. One of the dishes is gumbo. Well I’ve never cooked gumbo, have you? Apparently, there are many ways to cook gumbo. You can use different proteins from chicken to steak and then there is the traditional seafood gumbo. The most important thing about gumbo is making the roux requires discipline and paying full attention. Once you mastered that then all you need to do is add in the meat and vegetables.

With the roux you want to brown the flour without burning it. You have to stir continuously until you get the color you desire. The darker the color means more complex flavors. A gumbo roux can be a light brown to almost a caramel color.

The Disneyland Gumbo Recipe:

Cajun Rice:
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 cup long grain or jasmine rice
2 1/2 cups water
4 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 Tbsp. vegetable base
Coarse salt to taste
1. Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and red pepper and sauté, stirring constantly for five to seven minutes or until onions are soft.
2. Add rice and stir to combine.
3. Add the water, Cajun seasoning and vegetable base in a large bowl. Adjust seasoning as needed. Add to the rice mixture and stir.
4. Reduce to medium-low heat, cover and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.
Vegetable Gumbo:
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup flour
4 tsp. minced garlic
1 medium yellow onion,cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 red pepper, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 green pepper, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. ground bay leaves
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 cup tomato paste
8 cups water
2 tsp. vegetable base*
2 cups frozen sliced okra***

1. Combine oil and flour in a 6-quart stockpot over low heat using a wooden spoon. Cook about 20 minutes, or until well browned, stirring constantly. ****
2. Add garlic, onion, celery, red pepper, green pepper, salt and pepper; stir to combine. Continue cooking for five minutes. Add cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme, bay leaves and oregano; stir, cooking for two minutes.
3. Add tomato paste, water and vegetable base; stir to combine. Increase heat to medium and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add gumbo filé and okra and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Additional notes:
* Vegetable base can be found near the bouillon cubes and stocks in the supermarket.
** Filé powder is a seasoning used in Creole cooking. It can be found in the spice section in the supermarket or on Amazon.
*** Fresh sliced okra may be used as a substitute for frozen okra.
****The more patient you are, the darker your ruox will get, and the darker your rue gets, the more flavors you’ll taste!!

And Mickey Mouse has a recipe for his own Blue Bayou Gumbo: 

Friday, September 7, 2018

Copy Cat Cracker Barrel Chicken and Dumplings

What is your go to meal at Cracker Barrel? I have two; First, I’m a sucker for their pancakes and it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, I’ll order the Grandmas Breakfast. Yes, the Grandmas Breakfast is no longer on the menu, but most waitresses remember and they will order it for you.😉

My second go to meal is their chicken and dumplings served with mashed potatoes and green beans. I order green beans trying to make the dish a little healthy and not order another starch like corn, which I’d rather have.🙁 But (according to Cracker Barrel) a plate of their chicken and dumplings is only 340 calories, in which 63 is fat. Believe me, we’ve all had worse.

Serves 6 Total Time: 30 minutes


2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup Buttermilk (no buttermilk, no problem just add 1 tablespoon white vinegar to 1 cup milk and let it sit for 5 minutes.)
8 cups (64 oz) Chicken stock
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or pieces (remember 1 chicken breast per person...just poach boneless, skinless chicken breasts and let cool.)


In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry blender until the texture is like course crumbs.
Stir in the milk, mixing with a fork until the dough forms a ball. You may not use the entire 1 cup.
Flour a work surface very well. You do not want the dough to stick to the work surface!
You’ll need a rolling pin and something to cut the dumplings with. I like to use a pizza cutter. I also like to use a small spatula to lift the dumplings off the cutting surface.
Roll the dough out thin with a floured rolling pin.
Dip your cutter in flour and cut the dumplings into 2 inch squares (approximately). It’s okay for them not to be exact.
Use the floured spatula to put them on a floured plate. Just keep flouring between the layers of dumplings.
To cook them, bring the broth to a boil.
Drop the dumplings in one at a time, stirring while you add them. The extra flour on them will help thicken the broth. Try not to add them too quickly or they try to stick together!
Cook them for about 15-20 minutes or until they are no longer doughy.
Add the cooked chicken to the pot, add pepper to taste and salt if it is needed! Sprinkle a little parsley for color if desired.
If the consistency is too thick for your taste, add more chicken stock! Yum Yum!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Bailey’s Chocolate Poke Cake

Why did I want to write about this Bailey’s Chocolate Poke Cake? One, it looks delicious and two, it brings back a few good memories.

My maiden name is Bailey and when I moved to Chicago the summer of 1981 I met and dated a liquor salesman who was promoting Bailey’s Irish Cream to all the neighborhood bars. He was a big hit in those days due to giving away the new drink, The Screaming O, (now we do know what the O stands for) that consisted of vodka, kaluha and Baileys. So much so, he was invited to be in the 1982 St. Patrick’s Day Parade to walk with the governor James Thompson and his entourage and he invited me to go along! This parade usually has about a million bystanders. Even though I’ve forgotten the name of the liquor salesman, I’ll never forget that day.

Give away pin he used to promote Bailey’s. You can see the date.

Bailey’s Irish Cream is still one of my favorite after dinner drinks either on the rocks or in my coffee. It’s my alternative to pie or cake. BUT speaking of cake...I mean my mouth is watering just looking at the picture. Makes 12-15 slices.



  • 2 cups (260g) all purpose flour
  • 2 cups (414g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (85g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) milk
  • 1 cup (240ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (240ml) Baileys Irish Cream, divided
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) boiling water
  • 1 cup (240ml) sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup (127g) semi sweet chocolate chips


  • 2 cups (480) heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 3/4 cup (86g) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup (29g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) Baileys Irish Cream, optional
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Chocolate sauce

1. Prepare a 9×13 inch cake pan by greasing the sides. Preheat oven to 300°F (148°C).
2. Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and combine.
3. Add eggs, milk, vegetable oil, 1/2 cup of Irish cream and vanilla to the dry ingredients and mix well.
4. Slowly pour the water into the batter, mixing well and being careful of splashing.
5. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
6. Remove the cake from the oven and poke holes all over. I use a knife sharpening rod, but you could also use a straw.
7. While the cake is still warm, add the chocolate chips to a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
8. Add the sweetened condensed milk and remaining 1/2 cup of Irish cream to a microwave safe measuring cup. Heat heat the milk and cream until they begin to boil, then pour over the chocolate chips.
9. Whisk the chocolate until smooth, then immediately pour over the cake, spreading it into the holes. Don’t let the mixture sit before pouring it over the cake or it’ll start to thicken and not soak in the holes as well.
10. Set the cake in the fridge to cool and soak.
11. When the cake has cooled, add the ingredients for the whipped cream topping to a large mixer bowl. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.
12. Spread the whipped cream evenly over the cake. Top the cake with mini chocolate chips and a drizzle of chocolate sauce, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Yum Yum!
Thanks life love and sugar for the recipe. 

White Chocolate Pumpkin Cookie

Pumpkin cookies are soft, moist and full of fall flavors such as; pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg while dotted with white chocolate chips. They’ll be a favorite every fall. I hope you give them a try and let me know what you think.

Makes 24 cookies. Total Time: 22 minutes


1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
15 oz can of pure pumpkin purée
1 large egg
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup white chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and pumpkin purée until well combined.

In a small bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt and ginger. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until blended. The dough should be light and fluffy. Stir in the white chocolate chips.

Use a small cookie scoop to drop the dough onto the parchment paper. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove and let cool on a rack. Yum Yum!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Flank Steak Stir-Fry

How to turn an inexpensive cut of beef into something enjoyable; like a skirt steak or flank steak.

1. Marinade it. Try a spicy marinade, then grill it and make steak tacos. You can also use the marinade as a sauce just deglaze the pan or add it to a beef stock or roux. Just remember if you marinate any raw meat be sure you bring the sauce to a boil to kill any bacteria.

Use the marinade with beef stock and add a little flour to make an Au Jus. Cut your steak in thin strips and cook them with some green bell peppers to make an alternative to a Philly steak sandwich. Oh, don’t forget the cheese.

2. Stir-Fry. The Chinese restaurants use flank steak in their beef stir-fry. They slice it thin and fry it up with some vegetables, soy sauce and sesame oil.

3. Pound it, bread it and make chicken fried steak.

This Flank Steak Stir-Fry serves 4 Total Time: 25 minutes


1 lb flank steak, trimmed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil, divided
2 bell peppers, one green one red, sliced into 1/4” strips
1/2 yellow onion, sliced thinly
12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half or one large tomato, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, optional
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil


Season steaks with salt, pepper and garlic. Place the steaks between 2 sheets if plastic wrap and pound until 1/4” thick. Let rest 10 minutes to absorb the garlic, then slice across the grain into 1/2” strips.

Sauté the onions and peppers in a skillet with just 2 tablespoons of the oil. Cook until barely tender, about 1-2 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Sauté the beef strips in the remaining oil in the skillet on high heat. Do not stir until the beef is brown on one side. Cook only a minute for medium rare. Add the peppers, onions, soy sauce, sesame oil and cilantro, if using. Stir to combine and only cook 1-2 minutes longer. Yum Yum!

PS: For an added flavor, Marinate the beef strips in 3 tablespoon soysauce, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tsp grated ginger and 3 cloves crushed garlic (up to an hour). Save the marinade and add about 2 teaspoonful of cornstarch to it and add the mixture to the pan after cooking the meat and vegetables. Bring to a quick boil, then let simmer to thicken. This makes a nice gravy to pour over the rice.

PSS: Switch out the cherry tomatoes with mushrooms for a different take on this recipe.