Making Coffee or Tea for a Crowd?

Are you making coffee of tea for a crowd this season?

These posts have plenty of tips to help you make your coffee and tea for your gathering a success.

Buying Guide for Coffee and Tea for a Crowd

Tips for Making Coffee for a Crowd

I hope these tips help you and you have a fabulous get together!

Recipe: Bananas Foster No-Bake Cream Cheese Pie

I was experimenting again with my no-bake cream cheese pie recipe and decided to try making a Bananas Foster version…. it turned out delicious!... I mean how can you possibly go wrong when you top a banana cream cheese pie with bananas smothered in sauce made with butter, brown sugar, vanilla, rum and a touch of cinnamon… the answer is.. you can’t go wrong.


Instead of topping the pie itself… I topped each slice… it made it easier to serve and the presentation prettier.

You can substitute rum extract instead of the rum in the recipe… use 1 ½ teaspoon rum extract.

I hope you enjoy this wonderful pie!

Recipe: Bananas Foster No-Bake Cream Cheese Pie

All you need:

1 pkg. (8 ounce) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
3 very ripe bananas, pureed
1 Ready Crust Graham Cracker pie shell (larger size)

For the Topping:

1 large banana, sliced
¼ cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons rum
½ teaspoon cinnamon

All you need to do:

In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Using the paddle attachment of the mixer, beat the softened cream cheese in a mixing bowl until creamy.

Add the sugar and vanilla, and beat until well mixed, scraping the bowl and paddle periodically.

Add the sour cream and the pureed banana. Beat on low speed until well mixed.

Remove the paddle attachment and add the whipped cream, folding it until well incorporated.

Scoop the cream cheese mixture out of the bowl and into the pie shell.

Refrigerate for 4 hours.

Before serving make the topping:

In a small saucepan, melt the butter.

Add the brown sugar, vanilla, rum and cinnamon. Cook over low heat until the sugar has melted.

Remove from the heat and cool slighty.

Slice the bananas and place some on top of each slice… drizzle sauce over bananas and serve.

Recipe: French Toast

In honor of National French Toast Day…. (who thinks these things up???)... I decided to post my French Toast recipe… it’s quick.. it’s easy.. and it’s delicious!


I like to use a bread from the bakery… Challah is one I like to use most often.. or if I can find an unsliced white bread…. I like to slice it myself… nice thick slices…
For the French Toast I made today… I sliced the bread about an inch thick… who says French Toast isn’t a manly man’s breakfast?

This recipe will make 4 very large slices of French Toast.

Recipe: French Toast

All you need:

4 very thick slices of bread
3 eggs
1 cup half and half
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Butter flavored cooking oil spray for the grill pan

All you need to do:

Place the slices of bread in a 13x 9 baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.

Pour the custard mixture over the bread and allow the bread to soak for about 3 minutes. then flip them over and allow them to soak up the remaining custard.

Spray the grill pan with the cooking oil.

Heat the pan over medium high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium and place the soaked bread slices on the hot grill. You don’t want the grill pan too hot.. because you want the inside of the bread to cook while the outside browns.

Grill until golden brown then flip them over and grill the other side.

If your grill is too hot and you think the bread maybe still soggy… place them on an oven proof baking dish and bake for about 5-7 minutes at 350 degrees. (Mine did not require any additional baking… I cooked mine on a medium setting on the stove).

Serve immediately.

Recipe: Grilled Mascarpone Apple and Dulche de Leche Sandwich

This recipe for a Grilled Mascarpone Apple and Dulche de Leche Sandwich came about as I was experimenting making a new breakfast sandwich… I had apples … lots of apples to use… and had a new batch of Dulche de Leche… and decided to see what I could put together… I must say… it turned out better than I had even hoped for.

I know Mascarpone is expensive.. but … in my opinion worth it… you can also use cream cheese for this.. and in fact.. might work better with cream cheese if you’re making this for kids.


I make a batch of Dulche de Leche periodically… it goes so well with so many things… it really is perfect for this recipe… you can use caramel sauce in its place… but use as thick a caramel sauce as you can find otherwise it can get runny.

If you do substitute caramel sauce for the Dulche de Leche… I would suggest you add it after you remove the bottom part of the sandwich from the grill pan.

I used some candied pecans with this.. toasted pecans work well also… or you can omit them.

If you need directions on How to Toast Pecans… click the link for easy instructions.

For an easy recipe to make Dulche de Leche, click the link.

The ingredients list cinnamon raisin bread … but if you want to substitute another bread .. you can.. but cinnamon raison bread works best.

This is definitely a knife and fork sandwich… a little effort to eat it.. but the flavors work so well together.. truly a special treat.

Recipe: Grilled Mascarpone Apple and Dulche de Leche Sandwich

All you need:

Cinnamon raisin bread
Softened butter or margarine
Apple jelly
Mascarpone cheese
Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
Dulche de Leche
Toasted or candied pecans (optional)

All you need to do:

Using two slices of bread per sandwich… spread butter or margarine on one side of each slice of bread.

Flip the slices over, and spread a thin layer of apple jelly on the bread. Set one slice aside.

On the other slice, spread a thick amount of mascarpone on top of the jelly.

Lay apple slices on the cheese.

Place about a tablespoon of Dulche de Leche on the apples.

Place the slices of bread, butter side down, on a hot grill (medium heat).

Grill until golden brown (you will need to peek at the bottom to check on it… it turns golden fairly quickly).

Remove the bread with the cheese and apple layers to a plate. Sprinkle with pecans, if using them.

Flip the other grilled slice of bread jelly side down on top of the other.

Press down gently.

Place a bit more of Dulche de Leche on top of the sandwich and sprinkle with pecans.

Serve immediately.

Recipe: Beef and Portobello Mushrooms

Another great crock pot meal... Beef and Portobello Mushrooms ...

I’m always looking for a slightly different version of beef stew… oh don’t get me wrong… I love a good beef stew… but I like to change it up a bit… just to keep things interesting.

I had a pound of baby Portobello mushrooms to use.. and thought the earthy flavor would be good in a stew… so I went searching for ideas… the picture is what caught my eye… savory beef.. lots of mushrooms a few carrots.. very simple… served over wide egg noodles… looked darn good.. so Beef and Portobello Mushrooms it was… a good choice.. I might add.

The recipe is adapted from a Campbell’s recipe. I added lots more mushrooms and decided to slow cook it so the meat would be melt in your mouth tender. The slow cook method was also a big convenience, it cooked while I worked… and supper time came.. and dinner was done!


This can be started on the stove and finished in a crock pot.. which is what I did… a variation from the original recipe. You can cook it all on top of the stove if you prefer, you will need to stir it occasionally. Bring to a steady simmer and cook until the meat is tender and the carrots are cooked but still firm, about 45 minutes to an hour.

The gravy will naturally thicken as it cooks because the meat was dredged in flour at the beginning.

Although I never serve my beef stew over noodles, I decided to this time since there were no potatoes in the stew.. it was a really nice change… I highly recommend it.

If adding alcohol to your food is a problem, just omit it.. admittedly it will change the flavor a bit, but it will still be delicious.

This will make 4 servings.

Recipe: Beef and Portobello Mushrooms

All you need:

1 pound sirloin beef chunks (usually labeled for stew)
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Sprinkling of salt and pepper
About 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, finely diced
1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves, crushed
1 bay leaf
2 cups Swanson beef broth or stock
½ cup Cabernet Sauvignon
2 cups fresh baby carrots

All you need to do:

In a wide bowl, mix the flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Dredge the meat in the flour mixture.

In a large skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.

Add the meat and brown on all sides. Add a little more olive oil as needed.

Remove the beef with a slotted spoon and place in a crock pot.

Add the sliced mushrooms and garlic.

Drizzle a little olive oil over the mushrooms and stir well to very lightly coat the mushrooms.

Cook and stir frequently until mushrooms are soft. Do not allow the garlic to scorch, reduce heat slightly if needed.

Remove the mushrooms and garlic and any mushroom liquid and pour into the crock pot.

Add all the remaining ingredients. Stir well.

Set the crock pot on high until stew begins to simmer, about 30 minutes.

Reduce the crock pot to low and cook for about 5-6 hours until meat is tender and carrots are cooked but still firm.

Discard the bay leaf.

Serve over cooked wide egg noodles.

Recipe: Cranberry Mayo

Add a little extra flavor to your mayo this weekend when making all those sandwiches with left-over turkey… make Cranberry Mayo. Of course this recipe is also perfect with deli turkey anytime.

This is absolutely delicious as a condiment for croquettes, mashed potato or turkey croquettes.


I like to make this with jellied cranberry sauce, but you can also make it with whole berry cranberry sauce.

I used a wire whisk to mix this … but you can also mix it in a mini chopper if you want to get it really smooth. I liked the bits of cranberry sauce throughout but whirling it in the mini chopper will make it a very pretty color.

I always use Hellman’s Mayonnaise, you can use any brand you prefer, however, I would not recommend using Miracle Whip.

Recipe: Cranberry Mayo

All you need:

¼ cup cranberry sauce
3 tablespoons mayo

All you need to do:

In a small bowl, mix the cranberry sauce and mayo well.

Refrigerate until using.

Fabulous Last Minute Thanksgiving Desserts

It's always crunch time in our house the day before holidays... I always want to make something different... an alternative to the ordinary pies... and every year I add a few more to my recipe box... these are great additions to the menu!

Here are a few suggestions...

Southern Apple Crumble with Vanilla Ice cream or Whipped Cream - this really easy dessert uses an ingenious short cut ... a fool proof recipe for sure!

Pumpkin Flan - another really easy recipe.. and I promise you it is fool proof... looks really elegant - a wonderful alternative to pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake - a wonderful pumpkin cake recipe that is so delicious you will certainly wow your guests!

The Beaumont Inn’s Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce -

This luscious dessert is always a hit, a true southern treat!

Perfect Peach Cobbler - another simple recipe that's foolproof - don't want to use peaches? - Substitute another favorite fruit! Serve this with vanilla ice cream or homemade Chantilly Cream - It's sure to please!

Recipe: Corn Casserole

This recipe is so easy and versatile... perfect for any holiday... Thanksgiving especially ... a perfect time to repost this!

This dish goes together in minutes... fool proof for sure. I'm sure the corn lovers in your family will love this dish.

The recipe is from Paula Deen of the Food Network… just a terrific recipe…

Recipe: Corn Casserole

All you need:

1 (15 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14 ¾ oz) can cream-style corn
1 (8oz) package corn muffin mix (I use Jiffy)
1 cup sour cream
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

All you need to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream and melted butter.

Pour the mixture into the baking dish.

Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and top with the Cheddar cheese.

Return the dish to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Recipe: Pumpkin Flan

Pumpkins and Fall just go together… and pumpkin baked in pies, breads and muffins …just well go naturally with this time of year.

As Thanksgiving approaches … I thought why not try something a bit different … so I set about adapting my Flan recipe. Pumpkin.. custard…a little caramel.. and some sugar roasted pecans for garnish… all I can say is yummm.

Adapting my flan recipe may sound easy but it really wasn’t… too much pumpkin and it will taste like a crustless pumpkin pie.. while not necessarily a bad thing.. it wasn’t what I was aiming for.. too little pumpkin and … well .. it wouldn’t taste enough like pumpkin.

So like a Goldilocks in the kitchen.. I searched for the just right amount of pumpkin. I thought this recipe hit it right on the nose… I hope you feel the same way.


Make sure you use a large bowl so it doesn’t splash out when you whisk… whisking the ingredients while adding them one by one is key to getting a good mix.

Make sure mix the cinnamon with the sugar… and whisk it in...all the whisking will mix it well.. otherwise it clumps up and its a royal pain to unclump.

I used 8 (6 oz.) custard cups and 3 (10 oz.) custard cups….. it used the custard up exactly… so you can figure the size you want to use. The 6 oz. cups took 45-55 minutes and the 10 oz. cups took about 1 hour and 15 minutes.... I always test it by inserting a knife in the center of the custard... it's done when it comes out clean.

Many recipes have instructions for melting sugar until it caramelizes…. which can burn if you don’t catch it exactly…. and hardens quickly… instead I used Smucker’s Caramel Sundae Syrup… it worked like a charm. The syrup runs easily over the custard when unmolded.

I used two glass 13x9 casserole dishes for the water bath to set the custard cups in… I put 4 in each (when making the small ones)…. I waited until they were done then I made the larger ones… I just refrigerated the mixture until I made the last batch.

You may also want to read my Custard and Flan Water Bath Tip.

Try this delicious pumpkin dessert!

Recipe: Pumpkin Flan

All you need:

1 cup pumpkin puree
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
7 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Smucker’s Caramel Syrup
Sugar coated pecans (for garnish)

All you have to do:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs until completely blended.

Whisk in the evaporated milk as you pour it into the eggs.

Whisk in the sweetened condensed milk as your pour it in.

Whisk in the pumpkin puree.

Whisk as you slowly pour the sugar into the mixture.

Whisk in the vanilla.

Line up your custard cups and squeeze into the bottom of each the Smucker’s Caramel Syrup. Put a good coating on the bottom.

Pour the custard mixture into the custard cups.

Place the filled custard cups into the glass baking dish (see notes above).

Place dish into oven.

Carefully pour hot water (about an inch deep) into the glass dish.

Bake 55 minutes for 6 oz. custard cups and about 1 hour 20 minutes for 10 oz. custard cups... or until a knife inserted in the center of the custard comes out clean.

Remove and cool.

Refrigerate at least an hour.

When ready to serve, run a knife around the sides of the custard cup and invert onto a plate. If the custard doesn’t slip out when inverted…. (mine didn’t)…. simply run your knife around it again and invert again.

You can drizzle more caramel syrup on the plate for presentation. Sprinkle sugar coated pecans.

Recipe: Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

We used to go to a steakhouse that served the largest sweet potatoes I have ever seen… you could make a meal out of the sweet potato alone.. it was baked and stuffed with lots of brown sugar and cinnamon … and butter… lots of butter and mini marshmallows… it was truly orgasmic.

It really is so easy to make… and well worth trying it.. it would make a great dish for the holidays.


The larger the potato the better.. believe me..

Use cold butter to cut it into the sugar and cinnamon… you want tiny little pebble-like pieces…

I broke the recipe down… so all you have to do is multiply it out for how ever many potatoes you want to make…. the recipe below makes two large sweet potatoes, so divide it in half and you have what you need for each potato.

Use as many marshmallows as it takes to cover the top of the potato.

I hope you enjoy this super simple recipe!

Recipe: Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

All you need:

2 large sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut in small pieces
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of salt
Mini marshmallows
Chopped pecans (optional)

All you have to do:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Wash and pierce the potatoes all over with a fork.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife easily pierces through the potato.

Slice a slit down the middle of the top of the potato and open it up. Allow to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl mix the sugar, cinnamon, flour and salt.

Drop the little pieces of butter into the bowl and using a pastry cutter or fork.. cut the butter into the sugar mixture until it is crumbly.

Spoon the topping on top of the open potato… reserving a little for on top of the marshmallows.

Sprinkle with chopped pecans if using them.

Top with mini marshmallows.

Sprinkle with the reserved chopped pecans.

Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Recipe: Crock Pot Apple Butter

Living in upstate New York for so many years… Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. Cool crisp days… fabulous colors on the trees.. the rustle of leaves… the smell of those first fires in the fireplace… and apples…. apples galore. Apple pies, applesauce, apple crisp and apple butter.. the list goes on and on.

Living so close to the Vermont border, every Fall my son and I would make a day trip to Vermont. We’d stop at farm stands… there were pumpkins, and apples… apple cider … and we’d always get apple butter. I never knew just how easy it was to make apple butter… and the house smells fabulous while it cooks.

Apple Butter has a really misleading name… it’s not butter as we know it.. it doesn’t contain butter… in fact it is a fat free food… it’s wonderful on biscuits or toast!

Okay.. back to the easy part.. it really is easy.. not quick.. in fact it takes a long time.. but… it practically makes it by itself… now you can’t beat that!


The dilemma is always which apples to use… and as with so many other things.. the answer is personal taste. Some like apples crisp and tart… others like them juicy and sweet.

I like to use Golden Delicious apples for this.. they are extremely juicy and tend to be sweet. If you want to balance the sweetness a bit.. use a few Granny Smith apples too… I didn’t but certainly you can experiment. You can also use any other variety of apple you like, Empires are also good for cooking with.

I used 8 large Golden Delicious.. the yield is what you see in the picture. I didn’t want to fool with canning… and there is just two of us.. so this was more than enough. It was easy enough to do again, when we run out. If you want more, just double the recipe.

Peel, core and chop the apples finely… it will help cook them down faster.

I listed ground cloves as optional… I leave it out… Warren doesn’t care for cloves… it adds a bit of spice if you do add it in.

I highly recommend you start out on high .. and then reduce it to low and cook until it cooks down to a really thick applesauce consistency. Since I was home when I made this… I stirred it periodically.

Try this really easy way to make apple butter!

Recipe: Crock Pot Apple Butter

All you need:

8 large Golden Delicious Apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ ground cloves (optional)
Dash of salt

All you need to do:

Put all the ingredients into a crock pot. Mix well.

Cook on high for about 3 hours then reduced it to low for about 8 hours … stir periodically.

Use an immersion blender to blend it. You can mash it manually with a masher.

Then turned it back up to high with the lid off for the last hour… or until it’s the consistency you want.

Put into a clean jar or covered dish and refrigerate.

Recipe: Steak and Herb Roasted Potato Salad

This recipe for Steak and Herb Roasted Potato Salad was inspired by a menu item at Applebee’s. We recently had London Broil and instead of serving a side salad.. I decided to combine it with the main meal… it worked perfectly.


I made a Spicy Brown Mustard Vinaigrette for the dressing … a great complement to the steak.

Use any variety potato you like.

The potatoes are easy to prepare… wash them, leave the skins on, cut them into small pieces… click here for a quick and easy recipe for Herb Roasted Potatoes. If you need less than the recipe calls for.. simply cut it in half.

If you need pointers for making a London Broil… click here.

I used my recipe for a Cajun Spicy Mustard Marinade for the London Broil. Use whatever marinade you prefer.. but try and stick to one with mustard in it… the flavor in the beef will be light but will complement the dish as a whole.

I used jarred roasted red pepper strips, about 1 tablespoon per salad.

This salad was delicious.. and while you could serve the salad, steak and potato separately.. putting it all together makes for a terrific combination.

Recipe: Steak and Herb Roasted Potato Salad

All you need:

Grilled or Broiled beef (London Broil)
Herb Roasted Potatoes
Salad greens
Sliced red onion
Roasted red peppers
Sliced radishes
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Spicy Brown Mustard Vinaigrette

All you have to do:

Prepare the beef, oven roast the potatoes and make the salad dressing.

Layer all ingredients on top of a bed of salad greens. Serve with the Mustard Vinaigrette.

Recipe: Spicy Brown Mustard Vinaigrette

I love mustard… on sandwiches, in dressings and sauces… it just adds a really pleasant dimension to food.

There are many Mustard Vinaigrette recipes out there… some even have rave reviews… I’ve tried my share… I think most overdo the oil or the vinegar isn’t just right… this recipe is a basic mustard vinaigrette… nothing fancy or difficult.. no exotic ingredients…it worked perfectly with my Steak and Herb Roasted Potato Salad.


Use a good spicy brown mustard.. this is not the place to cheap out… likewise with the olive oil.

This quick and easy recipe goes together quickly … just refrigerate until well chilled.

Recipe: Spicy Brown Mustard Vinaigrette

All you need:

1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¾ cup olive oil
Pinch of salt
2 turns on the pepper mill

All you have to do:

In a bowl, whisk the mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Whisk in the oil.

Refrigerate until well chilled.

Recipe: Grilled Gouda Smoked Ham and Pear Sandwich

I love pairing fruit and cheese.. so why not in a sandwich?… In this Grilled Gouda Smoked Ham and Pear Sandwich…. the pear complements the gouda and the smoked ham so perfectly… a dab of Dijon mustard and … viola!.. you have one terrific sandwich!


Sargento makes a sliced Gouda that is both delicious and convenient… it works perfectly with this.

I used a whole wheat bread.. you can use any bread you prefer.

Use the Dijon mustard sparingly.. you just need a little.

Don’t pile on the smoked ham otherwise the flavor will overpower the rest.

I hope you try this!

Recipe: Grilled Gouda Smoked Ham and Pear Sandwich

All you need:

2 Slices of bread
Sliced Gouda cheese
Thinly sliced smoked deli ham
Pear slices
Dijon mustard
Butter or margarine softened

All you have to do:

Generously spread the softened butter or margarine on 1 side of each slice of bread.

Sparingly spread some Dijon mustard on the other side of the bread slices.

Place 1 of the slices, margarine side down, layer the Gouda, then ham, then pear slices and more Gouda.

Place 1 of the slices, margarine side up, on top of the cheese.

Place on a hot griddle.

When the bottom is golden in color, carefully flip it over and press it gently with a spatula.

Cook until the bottom is golden and cheese has melted… remove it from the griddle and allow it to set for 1-2 minutes. Cut it in half and serve.

Recipe: Southern Sweet Potato Pancakes

Yummmm… even the name sounds yummy… Southern Sweet Potato Pancakes… and they are too!

The taste of the sweet potatoes is light.. the pancakes are sweet.. a true treat!


I bake my sweet potato ahead of time… and allow to cool… then store it in the fridge until I’m ready to make the pancakes… I just nuke it quick in the microwave wrapped in a paper two to just warm it again.

I used my mini chopper to puree the sweet potato.

This makes about 8-10 small pancakes… they are filling.. I figure 3-4 pancakes per person… so this recipe is enough for 2-3 people… double the recipe if you need to feed more.

I used whole milk.. I think it works best for this recipe.

Whisk the eggs and milk first.. then add the butter then add the butter and the sweet potato puree.. it mixes best in this order.

Use a ¼ cup measure to scoop out the batter to the hot grill… I personally think smaller pancakes cook better than larger ones.. the center is dense on larger ones and does seem to cook properly.

Flip the pancakes only once.. otherwise they get tough.

Serve this with Pecan Butter… and drizzle maple syrup… yummmm!

Recipe: Southern Sweet Potato Pancakes

All you need:

1 small sweet potato, baked
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
Pinch of salt
Pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup flour
Butter flavor cooking oil spray

All you have to do:

Scoop out the inside of the baked sweet potato and puree it.

In a large bowl slightly beat an egg.

Whisk in the whole milk.

Add the sweet potato puree and the melted butter, whisk until smooth.

Add the salt, vanilla, nutmeg, brown sugar, cinnamon and baking powder. Whisk until fully incorporated.

Add the flour and mix until smooth.

Spray a griddle with butter flavored cooking oil and heat it over medium high heat.

Using a ¼ cup scoop, scoop batter onto the hot griddle. Cook until the bottom side is golden, and the top is covered in small bubbles… if the bottom gets too dark turn down the heat slightly. Flip over and cook until the bottom is golden.

Serve immediately.

Recipe: Pecan Butter

Pecan Butter is another flavored butter that’s terrific on pancakes or toast… it’s easy to make and adds so much to foods… the finishing touch!

I’ve always used flavored butters.. and am always on the lookout for more ideas. This idea came from the Food Network… I tried their version and decided it needed more … just about more of everything… so here is my recipe for Pecan Butter.


I always use unsalted butter… if you want salt .. you can always add it.

You need to get your butter softened… do not microwave it.. the ends will melt and the center will still be hard… just set it out and let it soften naturally.

Most flavored butters can be put into a ramekin and served like that… I prefer to make it into a small log and slice it… the easiest way to do that is to… after you’ve mixed the ingredients… dump it onto a piece of plastic wrap… use the plastic wrap to roll it into shape.. then twist the ends of the plastic wrap closed and finish shaping it.. don’t handle it too much or it will melt.

Toast your pecans before chopping…. For instructions How to Toast Pecans… see my post..

I used my mini chopper to chop the pecans.. you want them chopped finely.

Try this… it’s delicious!

Recipe: Pecan Butter

All you need:

1 stick of butter, softened
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons toasted finely chopped pecans

All you have to do:

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.

Scrape the pecan butter onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap the butter and shape it into a log. Freeze until firm then refrigerate until ready to use.

Recipe: Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Lece… oh how I love thee… let me count the ways…. Dulce de Leche … I've read it's considered a national treat in Argentina.... I’m not surprised… it’s fabulous!

So just what is Dulce de Leche?... it’s a thick caramel-like sauce or spread made from milk. Many countries have their version of this… from Latin America, most notably Argentina and Chile to Portugal to Russia to Norway.. the list goes on and on.. and with good reason.. it’s just delicious.

This fabulous sweet is used as a spread on bread or cookies… used as a filling for cake.. or warmed to a delightful sauce for puddings, flans, custards and ice cream. If you like caramel.. you have found the perfect treat!

Are you a caramel lover?… well … I definitely am… always have been.. when I was a little girl.. my Dad used to buy packages of those cubes of caramel wrapped in clear plastic… we used to sit and eat them together while watching TV… I've been addicted ever since.


There are a number of methods to making this… one of which is boiling then simmering the sweetened condensed milk in the can submerged in a large pot of water… aside from it being a completely scary thought… images of the fire department coming in with big hoses or having the can fly out of the pot like a cannon ball through a wall… run through my mind… it’s just not a good idea… in a word… don’t do it… actually that’s three words.

Speaking of sweetened condensed milk… take note.. it’s sweetened condensed milk you need not evaporated milk which does not container the sugar… you know the little can.. from the folks at Eagle Brand… that’s the one you need.

Back to cooking methods… this has a long cook time… and if you were to make it on the stove top or the microwave it would require your attention and lots of stirring… so being a basically lazy person… I whole heartedly endorse the oven method… no stirring… just check on it periodically to make sure you add more hot water to the water bath as the water will evaporate in the oven…

This keeps in a sealed container or jar in the refrigerator for a week… yeah right… a week.. surely you jest… you’re lucky if you have anything left the next day… let alone a week.

This makes are a great last minute gift for a food lover such as yourself… buy some nice jars… make a label.. maybe a bit of pretty fabric over the closed lid cinched with a thin piece of ribbon or twine… so pretty and something that someone can enjoy.. maybe place it in a small basket with some homemade muffins or croissants from a bakery…

While this recipe is not quick.. it is easy and simple… truly simple and well worth making… costs a lot less to make then to buy it already made… the only problem is… once it’s done…the tasting…. after all… you have to taste it…you dip your spoon into it.. and close your eyes and then slowly lick that spoon… okay.. so what’s one more spoonful?... and another … and another… and another…

A truly addicting and intoxicating treat…. you know you have to try it…


Recipe: Dulce de Leche

All you need:

1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk

All you need to do:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a glass pie plate. Cover tightly with foil.

Place the covered pie plate in a roasting pan. Place in the pie plate into the oven on the middle rack.

Add enough hot water to the roasting pan so the water comes up about half way up the side of the pie plate.

TIP: Check on the pan after about 30 minutes… add a little hot water to compensate for the water that has evaporated… check again after another 30 minutes.

You will need to bake this at 425 degrees for a total of 1 ¼ hours or until golden in color. Mine has always taken exactly 1 ¼ hours.

Remove from the oven. Carefully remove the pie plate from the pan and remove the foil.

Place the thickened sauce into a bowl and whisk until smooth. Allow to cool then place in a clean jar and refrigerate until use.

To Use:

It will become thick and spread-like… perfect to spread on toast or breads. To use as a sauce.. allow to warm slightly in the microwave or place the jar into a bowl of warm water.

Recipe: Mushroom Ragu

Hmmm… mushrooms.. I do love mushrooms… I honestly could eat them almost every day.. I can think of hundreds of ways to eat them.. and I probably have hundreds of recipes that have mushrooms in them. It may not be everybody’s thing.. but it definitely is mine.

I wanted to make a Mushroom Ragu and found a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis… admittedly I only scanned the recipe before deciding to make it.. quite honestly it had the right main ingredient.. mushrooms. It wasn’t until I started gathering all the ingredients.. did I realize.. this recipe is basically a Marsala .. without the chicken or veal…. and if you like Marsala … and like mushrooms.. then you will like this.

When I made this I ended up making a few changes… so read on…


Use a drinkable quality Marsala wine.. it’s not expensive.. in fact.. it ends up cheaper to buy then one of those “cooking wine” bottles.

The recipe calls for mixed mushrooms… they can be hard to find in places outside large cities… you can substitute any mushrooms you can get… I know some mushrooms like oyster and shitake mushrooms are more expensive.. but they do give the dish an earthy flavor.. I also used some sliced baby bella mushrooms… that also adds flavor.

The recipe calls for heavy cream… my local store was out of heavy cream (can you believe that???) so I grabbed a container of half and half… when I got home I saw it was fat free half and half… well I wasn’t about to go back… so I used it.. and it worked out fine… I added about 2 teaspoons of cornstarch to the half and half before I added it into the dish… the consistency of the half and half was close to heavy cream and thickened the ragu perfectly… so if you want to substitute.. feel free.

If you want to go totally vegetarian… use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

I cut the oil way back.. her recipe calls for ¼ cup olive oil… you don’t need that much. I also used some butter in place of some of the olive oil.. I like to add the flavor of butter in my Marsala. Start with 1 tablespoon of each and add a bit more if needed… I only added a quick drizzle of more olive oil when I put the mushrooms in.

And finally … I used dried basil instead of fresh.

This was delicious over gnocchi… noodles, pasta or rice would all be good too!

Recipe: Mushroom Ragu

All you need:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound mixed mushrooms (cremini, oyster, shitake), chopped (see TIPS)
½ cup Marsala
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup heavy cream (see TIPS)
1 teaspoon dried basil
¼ cup flat leafed Italian parsley, chopped
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

All you need to do:

In a large skillet heat the butter and oil over medium low heat.

Add the onions and garlic, stirring to coat with the butter and oil. Cook until onions are soft.

Add the mushrooms, stir to coat with the butter and oil. Turn the heat to medium high and cook until mushrooms are soft and all the liquid has evaporated.

Remove the skillet from the heat and add the wine. Return the skillet to the heat and allow the wine to cook for about 3 minutes.

Add the dried basil and stir well.

Add the chicken broth and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by half.

Add the heavy cream and mix well.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the chopped parsley.

Add the Parmesan cheese and stir well.

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Yummmm…. Whoever came up with Chocolate Chip Pancakes was a genius… what better way to get a kid to dive into breakfast than with Chocolate Chip Pancakes… and truth be told… adult chocolate lovers love them too!

I admit when my son was growing up I wouldn’t think of making Chocolate Chip Pancakes… after all… you serves chocolate for breakfast??…. or even a supper?? …. guess I wasn’t always the coolest Mother… which was absolutely silly… it would have been fine now and then.

The old Bill Cosby stand-up bit about him serving chocolate cake to his kids for breakfast when his wife was away.. comes to mind…. as he so correctly pointed out…. it has milk (the glass you drink with the cake)and flour and eggs… makes perfect sense… I always wanted my Father to think like that… but alas he never did… and as an adult …. I have more than once eaten cake for supper or even breakfast.. and thought… well… it has eggs in it… and I’m an adult now …. I can do that…

Okay.. back to Chocolate Chip Pancakes…. so maybe a treat now and then … a breakfast with chocolate will definitely start the day off with a smile!


Most of the tips are the same as my Light and Fluffy Pancakes… I’ll re-list them here to make it easy for you..

The recipe calls for a significant amount of baking powder… 3 ½ teaspoons… which as most bakers and cooks know.. that is a lot.. you need it…. furthermore …. make sure your baking powder is not expired… I can’t impress on you enough the importance of fresh baking powder..

I sift the dry ingredients twice… it takes just a few extra seconds and is well worth the effort.

I put the milk in the microwave just long enough to take the chill off it…
Mix the batter lightly.. don’t whisk it… just stir it until it’s fairly smooth … mine has tiny lumps left but nothing too sizeable… don’t over mix it.. but don’t under mix it either.

I use vanilla sugar… adds a little flavor without overpowering it.. see my post about vanilla sugar for information about it… you can use regular sugar also.
I add a teaspoon of vanilla… again.. it adds flavor without making it obvious… it’s optional. You think about leaving the vanilla out because of the chocolate chips… put it in .. it balances out the chocolate perfectly.

I add about ¾ of a cup of chocolate chips… minis are great to use.. but regular sized ones are fine too… add more or less to your taste.

I use a ¼ cup dry measure to scoop the batter… I fill it to about 1/8 inch from the top.. it makes 3 ½ inch pancakes…. you can make them larger but… this is a good size.

Flip the pancake only once.. any more and you toughen it.

This recipe makes about 14-16 pancakes… figure at least 3 per person…

The leftovers keep well in an airtight container.. just put them on a plate with a piece of waxed paper over them and give them a quick nuke in the microwave to reheat them… great for quick breakfasts during the week.

So indulge a little… a little chocolate once in a while in the morning.. makes it special!

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Pancakes

All you need:

1 ½ cups flour
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar or white sugar * see Tips
Pinch of salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 ¼ cup warm milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
¾ cup chocolate chips (or to taste)
Butter flavored cooking spray

All you need to do:

Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt… then sift it again into a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and milk… then add the melted butter and vanilla, whisk until mixed well.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing with a spoon. Mix until fairly smooth with tiny lumps.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Let the batter rest for 20 minutes.

Spray a griddle pan with butter flavored cooking spray.

Heat the griddle over medium high heat. Scoop scant ¼ cup measure of batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Check the bottoms of the pancake periodically so they don’t get to dark.. adjust the heat if necessary…. when the top has lots of bubble.. flip them over and cook until light golden on the bottom.

Recipe: Grilled Cheese Caprese

Another wonderful grilled cheese recipe…. Grilled Cheese Caprese… thick sliced Tuscan bread…. thick slices of fresh mozzarella… beefsteak tomato slices… and fresh basil leaves… all grilled to perfection… not your ordinary grilled cheese sandwich…


Use fresh mozzarella.. not the packaged stuff you find in the dairy aisle… fresh mozzarella is soft in texture and has a wonderful mild flavor.. once you’ve tasted it .. you will know there is no substitute for fresh when eating it with fresh tomatoes and basil.

Use a loaf of bread that is hearty … slice it yourself.. and fairly thick.

Try this with a nice glass of Chianti and you’ll think you’re in Italy!

Recipe: Grilled Cheese Caprese

All you need:

Large tomatoes
Fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil leaves
Olive oil
Butter or margarine

All you need to do:

Spread margarine on 1 side of each slice of bread.

Place 1 of the slices, margarine side down, layer the mozzarella slice, tomato and basil leaves on the dry side. Drizzle a little olive oil on top.

Place 1 of the slices, margarine side up, on top layers.

Place on a hot griddle.

When the bottom is golden in color, carefully flip it over and press it gently with a spatula.

Cook until the bottom is golden and cheese has melted… remove it from the griddle and allow it to set for 1-2 minutes. Cut it in half and serve.

London Broil

I really like London Broil… I had never had it until my husband made it when I was first married.... it’s been a family favorite ever since. What many people don’t realize that London Broil is not a cut of meat.. it’s a cooking method.

It is traditionally marinated for anywhere from 6 hours to 24 hours… a number of marinades are popular…

As for the cuts of meat that lend themselves well to this… I use a beef round (top round steak)… most butchers label it “for London Broil”…. I like it about 2 inches thick.

I have some tips …


Turn the meat at least once …preferably a few times while it’s marinating.

Marinate at least 6 hours… overnight is best.

You can make this on the grill or under the broiler… figure about 5-7 minutes a side for rare meat… use a meat thermometer to best test if it is cooked to the desired doneness.

Slice it across the grain in to thin strips.

Leftovers make great sandwiches…

Marinade suggestions:

Balsamic Vinegar Marinade for London Broil

Spicy Brown Mustard Marinade for London Broil

Marsala Wine Marinade for London Broil

Serve with rice or potatoes and a vegetable or salad… a truly easy to make meal!

Recipe: Cajun Spicy Mustard Marinade for London Broil

This recipe for Cajun Spicy Mustard Marinade has a bit of kick to it… although the spicy flavor really is muted when the beef is cooked… it does adds a little flavor… and goes well with a variety of side dishes.


I have a recipe that I use for Cajun Seasoning… it’s easy and economical to make.. I add it to many things.. this is one of them.. I keep it in a small glass jar… handy and ready to use when I need it… you can get the recipe here. You can use another Cajun seasoning if you prefer.

I use a Pinot Noir for the dry red wine.

Use a good quality spicy brown mustard… it can make all the difference.

I hope you try this!

Recipe: Cajun Spicy Mustard Marinade for London Broil

All you need:

¼ cup dry red wine
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
2 teaspoons Cajun Seasoning
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

All you need to do:

Sprinkle both sides of the beef with salt and pepper and lay it in a glass dish.

Poke the beef with a fork a few times over both sides.

In a small bowl combine the marinade ingredients and pour over the beef. Turn the beef over and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 6 hours… overnight is best. Turn again at least once more.

Recipe: Marsala Wine Marinade for London Broil

This recipe was one from my husband… this was the first marinade he used on London Broil when he made it for me…. I’ve loved it ever since.


Make sure you use a “drinkable” Marsala wine… Marsala is not expensive and easily found. Don’t use those so-called cooking wines… they have terrible flavor and way too much salt in them.

Try this delicious marinade … serve it with a light Fettucine Alfredo and a salad… just delicious!

Recipe: Marsala Wine Marinade for London Broil

All you need:

1 cup Marsala wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper

All you need to do:

Sprinkle both sides of the beef with salt and pepper and lay it in a glass dish.

Poke the beef with a fork a few times over both sides.

In a small bowl combine the marinade ingredients and pour over the beef. Turn the beef over and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 6 hours… overnight is best. Turn again at least once more.

Looking for More Recipes?

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Chicken Noodle Soup