Berry Cakes with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

When it comes to celebrating July 4th, my first dessert thoughts jump to these yummy, mini, festive cakes out of one of my July editions of Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine. These are quick to make and can be made early in the day, along with the cinnamon whipped cream, so you can be ready for your fun festivities. The edges have the best sugary crunch and the whipped cream adds a cinnamony sparkle…..sparkler…… ha! I can’t wait for the 4th! Happy Birthday, America!

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 1 T. granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 T. plus 1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup flour
1 cup mixed fresh berries, plus more for garnish
2 T. confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and 3/4 cup granulated sugar until pale, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add 2 T. cream, the vanilla and the salt and mix until combined, scraping the bowl as necessary. Beat in the flour until incorporated. Using a spatula, gently stir in the berries.

Spoon the batter into each muffin cup, about three-quarters full. Top each cake with a few berries and sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of granulated sugar over the cakes. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few crumbs, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in the pan, then run a knife around the edges and remove.

In a small bowl, whip the remaining 1 cup cream with the confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon until soft peaks form. Serve with the cakes.

And then light the sparklers!

Chili-Stuffed Poblano Peppers

This is a new recipe that I tried out of the April/May 2017 issue of Taste of Home magazine. I really like it! It is healthy, low carb, and with the addition of chopped tomatoes and green onions, very fresh tasting for summer! I love a Chicago dog with tomatoes and serrano peppers. This almost reminds me of one with the chili in there! ….Almost! I mean nothing can really replace a Chicago dog, but when trying to be healthier and think healthier, it kind of might work. I mean kinda. Sorta. Maybe?? Whatever the thinking, this is worth trying!

1 pound lean ground turkey
1 can (15 oz.) chili without beans, I use Hormel
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
4 green onions, chopped
4 large poblano peppers
1 T. olive oil

Preheat broiler. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground turkey, crumbling the meat, until no longer pink, 5-7 minutes; drain. Add chili and salt; heat through. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese, tomato, and green onions.

Meanwhile, cut peppers lengthwise in half; remove seeds. Place on a foil-lined 15 by 10 by 1 inch baking pan, cut side down; brush with oil. Broil 4 inches from heat until skins blister, about 5 minutes.

With tongs, turn peppers. Fill with turkey mixture; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Broil until cheese is melted, 1-2 minutes longer.

I have found that these really hold up if prepared ahead of time. Just bake in a 350 degree oven until warmed through, and top with the cheese towards the end of reheating. And the microwave always works too!

Serves 4.

Best Ever Banana Bread

One bowl, one whisk, and the best banana bread ever, the name of this recipe says it all! Another super quick breakfast or snack idea, and perfect for a friend in need or to take to a new neighbor, this is the one banana bread recipe that I come back to, over and over. It is found in Barbara Fairchild’s brilliant cookbook, The Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook.

2 ripe medium bananas, mashed
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts, delicious with or without the nuts
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup plus 1 T. buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 by 5 by 3 inch metal loaf pan (mine is ceramic and it seems to work fine, plus I just spray it with Baker’s Joy for greasing the pan.)

After mashing the bananas in a large bowl, whisk banana and eggs to blend in the same bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and stir to mix well.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake bread until top is golden brown and splits slightly and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. (Be sure and check it earlier though, ovens vary and you don’t want to overcook it.)

Cool in pan on rack 20 minutes. Turn bread out onto rack and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

ONE AT A TIME – Barbara says this recipe doesn’t double well. To make two loaves, you’ll need to make two separate batches of batter.

Cinnamon Breakfast Puffs

Now that school’s out for the summer, that means that I can no longer rely on the lovely school cafeteria ladies to feed my kids twice a day…. Soooo, I am going to be finding quick and yummy ways to feed these growing love bunnies of mine, so they stay full and happy all summer! Cinnamon Breakfast Puffs from Roxie Kelley are first up and these little swirly whirls are delicious! Grab the milk!

1 (11 oz.) package refrigerated soft breadstick dough
4 T. butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 T. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin with a vegetable oil spray. Melt butter in a shallow bowl. Mix sugar and cinnamon in another shallow bowl. Open breadstick dough. The dough should separate into 8 “pinwheels”. Unroll each pinwheel, dip into melted butter, and then into cinnamon sugar mixture. Wind back up into pinwheel again. Place into greased muffin tin. Repeat with all eight pieces. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Serve while warm. (My breadstick dough made exactly one dozen.)


Asparagus Bundles

If you love asparagus and love traditional green bean bundles, then try this recipe! It is different and so very delicious. I love that the brown sugar sauce, that’s poured over these, includes soy sauce. Seems like a bit of a different flair. A nice flair. A very yummy flair…Trisha Yearwood shares this recipe in her book, Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood.

2 pounds fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
12 slices bacon
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 T. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Divide the asparagus spears into 12 bundles. Carefully wrap 1 piece of bacon around each bundle, stating about 1/2 inch from the bottom of the tips. Secure the bacon-wrapped spears with a toothpick. Lay the bundles in a low-sided casserole dish.

In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, soy sauce, garlic salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Poor the hot sugar mixture over the asparagus bundles. Transfer the dish to the oven and roast for 25 minutes, or until the spears have begun to wilt and the bacon looks fully cooked. Remove the toothpicks before serving.

Serves 6.


Mexican Stuffed Shells

Serve this delicious pasta dish with a good green salad and crusty bread and butter. And it really comes together quicker than one might think, plus, your family will love it! This recipe comes from Julie Wise of Ohio and I found it in a Gooseberry Patch cookbook called, In the Kitchen with Family and Friends.

12 oz. jar picante sauce, I used a mild Herdez brand
15 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 pound ground beef, browned
4 oz. chopped green chilies
2 cups Cheddar or Colby Jack cheese, shredded and divided
2.8 oz. can French-fried onions, divided
12 lg. pasta shells, cooked and drained

In a small bowl, mix picante sauce, tomato sauce and water. Stir half of the sauce into the ground beef. Add chilies, one cup cheese, and half of the onions; mix well. Spread half of the remaining sauce on the bottom of a 9 by 13 baking dish. Stuff cooked shells with meat mixture. Arrange shells in pan and top with sauce. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Top with remaining onions and cheese. Bake uncovered 5 minutes.


Chunky Vegetable Beef Soup

Sometimes, nothing satisfies like a big pot of healthy soup simmering away on the stove! This recipe is delicious and comes together quickly, plus it makes enough for a small army. You can feed the army right away, and then eat on it for a few days, or freeze it up to 3 months. This is a Southern Living recipe from their Make Ahead Meals Special Collector’s Edition magazine. This is a big batch, so grab your biggest pots!

2 lbs. ground chuck
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp. table salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 (14 oz.) cans reduced-sodium beef broth, I just use regular beef broth
3 (29 oz.) cans mixed vegetables with potatoes, drained and rinsed
3 (14 1/2 oz.) cans diced new potatoes, drained and rinsed (from the pic, you can tell I missed the diced part. lol)
1 (15 oz.) can peas
2 (26 oz.) jars tomato, herbs, and spices pasta sauce
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can diced tomatoes wit sweet onion

Brown ground chuck and onion, in batches, in a large Dutch oven over medium-high, stirring 5-8 minutes or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain well, and return to Dutch oven. Stir in salt, black pepper, and beef broth; bring to a boil.

Stir in mixed vegetables and next 4 ingredients. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer at least 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Garnish with a mix of shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses and chopped fresh basil.

Serves 8.

Roast Chicken and Vegetables

This is definitely one of my family’s favorite meals! It is easy, comforting, and just makes the house smell like home while it’s cooking. Another good reminder to me, that sometimes the best things, are the simplest things.

3 carrots, cut into thirds
6 small red new potatoes, quartered if large
1 medium yellow onion, cut into 6 wedges
3 T. unsalted butter, melted, or olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
1 lemon, quartered
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Put the carrots, potatoes, and onion in a 9 by 13 glass baking dish. Toss the vegetables with 1 T. of the butter. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Spread the vegetables to the edges of the baking dish, making room for the chicken.

Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity of the chicken and discard. Rinse the bird under cold running water and pat dry. Put the chicken breast-side up, in the center of the baking dish. Brush the chicken with the remaining 2 T. butter. Season the cavity and skin generously with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Put the lemon quarters and rosemary sprigs inside the cavity. Put the garlic cloves user the chicken to prevent them from burning.

Roast for 45 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven. Using tongs, tilt the chicken, pouring the juices from the cavity onto the vegetables, and shake to coat. Baste the chicken with the pan juices. If the bird is browning too quickly, cover with aluminum foil. Continue roasting until the chicken is a deep golden brown and the juices run clear when the tip of a knife is inserted into the thigh joint, or until and instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh, away from the bone, registers 170 to 175 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes more.

Transfer the chicken to a platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before carving. Using the back of a spoon, mash the garlic and squeeze some lemon into the pan juices. Toss the juices with the vegetables. Carve the chicken and serve the vegetables alongside. Drizzle any remaining juices over the chicken.

NOTE: My favorite way to serve the roast chicken, as recommended by the authors, is to carve all the meat from the bones after the meat has rested and chop into bite-sized pieces. Then return the meat to the garlicky, lemony pan juices, re-season it with more salt and pepper, and toss with the vegetables. This way, every last bit of the chicken is well seasoned and moist throughout.

Serves 2


Crispy Fried Tacos

One of my favorite recipes, this will be perfect for Cinco de Mayo! I love these authentic tacos and the salsa is so very yummy! This a Taste of Home recipe from Catherine Gibbs of Maryland. The girl knows her Mexican Food!


1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (4 oz.) sliced jalapeño peppers, undrained
1 small onion quartered
1 tsp. garlic salt


1 pound ground beef
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
12 (6 inch) corn tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 cups shredded lettuce

In a blender or food processor, combine the salsa ingredients; cover and pulse until salsa reaches desired consistency. Transfer to a bowl; cover and refrigerate.

In a skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Sprinkle with salt.

In another skillet, heat oil. Fry tortillas just until softened; drain on paper towels. Fill tortillas with beef; sprinkle with cheese. Fold in half. In an ungreased skillet, fry tortillas on both sides until crisp. Serve with lettuce and salsa.
Yield: 12 tacos.

Mom’s Every Night Cucumber Salad

This recipe comes from Gaby Dalkin’s What’s Gaby Cooking cookbook. I have really enjoyed this simple salad, out of her new book, this spring. Living on the same block, I grew up eating at my friend Lucky’s house quite a bit, and her Memaw would always have fresh cucumbers in vinegar, seasoned with Lawry’s salt. We loved those cucumbers, and when I typed the title of this recipe, all of those wonderful memories came flooding back. Not long after we were through with supper at Lucky’s, my dad would whistle down the alley and that was my cue to high-tail it back home! What fun we used to have!

3 T. olive oil
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
4 Persian cucumbers, sliced

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Add the avocado and cucumbers to the bowl and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.