Homemade Kettle Corn

This kettle corn tastes so good that you will want to make this treat for your family often.  It only takes about 10 minutes to prepare, so it's a quick treat and so much healthier than the bagged varities for the microwave that contain hydrogenated oils.

1/2 cup white popcorn
1/4 cup oil
1-2 tablespoons sugar

Place oil in large heavy kettle with lid and add three kernels of popcorn.  When you hear the first pop, add all popcorn in a single layer on the bottom of the kettle.  Then quickly sprinkle sugar it over the top of the popcorn kernels and replace the lid.

Begin to shake the pan back and forth over the burner until the popping has slowed down to long gaps between pops.  Remove from heat and allow the kernels to continue to pop until the last pop.

Pour popcorn into bowls and enjoy!  Recipe makes enough popcorn for two large bowls or four people.

Czech Bread and Butter Sweet Pickles 

3 lbs of cucumbers
2 cups red or white onions

1 sweet red pepper

10 tablespoons Chopped Garlic Cloves

1/2 cup pickling salt
6 cups water
3 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
3 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon turneric
4 whole cloves
1 teaspoon celery seed

Begin by slicing all vegetables super thin using a mandolin. As you slice the veggies, layer them in a non-reactive bowl (I use my porcelain sink) and sprinkle with salt and ice as you slice. When all vegetables are sliced add water and let soak for 2 hours.

Drain the water using a plastic colander and rinse well for 5 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

Add vegetables to a large pan on the stove. Then add the vinegars, garlic, celery seed, turmeric and sugar to the pan and stir together.

Place 1/2 of the mustard seeds and all of the cloves in cheese cloth and tie with a string. Add the bag to the pot. Add the other of the mustard seeds to the pot. Stir to blend.

Bring the contents of the pot to a near boil and then remove from heat.

Add your lids to a pan of hot water on the stovetop and bring to a boil to sterlize.

Start a large pot of water to boil for the jars once they are filled with pickles.

Fill the jars with pickles and add liquid from the pot as needed to cover pickles in the jar. Leave 1/2 inch of space from the top of the jars.

Take a clean wet cotton towel and wipe the rims of the jars and then dry the rim with a clean dry cloth.

Remove the lids from the pan on the stove and dry with clean dry cotton cloth. Place on jars and screw on rings to the point of resistance.

Once all jars are filled with pickles and the water is boiling add jars to pot for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes remove from pot and let cool on a towel. You will hear the jars pop as they seal. Check after one hour that all jars have sealed by pressing on the top of the lids. If they move up and down they have not sealed. You will need to move these jars to the refrigerator and consume within 2-3 weeks.

Coconut Cream Pie
 - Emerl Lagasse


1 blind-baked 9-inch pastry shell
2 1/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup for the egg whites
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups toasted coconut
1 tablespoon butter


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a saucepan, whisk the 2 cups of the milk and 3/4 cup sugar together. Place the pan over medium heat and bring the liquid up to a simmer. Whisk the egg yolks together. Temper the hot milk into the egg yolks. Whisk the egg mixture into the hot milk mixture.

In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining milk, making a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the hot milk mixture. Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the filling is thick, about 4 to 6 minutes. Fold in the vanilla, coconut, and butter. Mix well.

Pour the filling into the prepared pan and cool the pie completely. Using an electric mixer with a whip attachment, whip the egg white to soft peaks. Add the remaining sugar and whip the egg white to stiff peaks. Spread the egg whites over the top of the pie. Place the pie in the oven for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the meringue is golden brown. Enjoy.

Strawberry French Toast

Strawberry French Toast from Cafe Amandine in Los Angeles

This is what I want for breakfast tomorrow morning, but alas I live in's just not going to happen.  So....we do what we can do in the Midwest and that is try to make our own version of this decadent breakfast from Los Angeles' Number One Bakery.


3 eggs
1 1/4 cups nonfat milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
8 slices of whole-wheat sandwich bread, crusts removed
1 (8-ounce) container strawberries, hulled and sliced
4 teaspoons bittersweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar


In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla. Set aside.

Place 1 tablespoon of ricotta in the center of 4 of the pieces of bread and spread around slightly. Top with about 6 slices of strawberries and a teaspoon of chocolate chips. Cover each with another piece of bread to make a "sandwich".

Spray a large nonstick skillet or griddle with cooking spray and preheat. Carefully dip each of the "sandwiches" into the egg mixture until completely moistened. Then place on the skillet and cook over a medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until the outside is golden brown and the center is warm and chocolate is melted.

Transfer to serving places. Top with remaining strawberries and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

If you feel like a splurge, forego the skim, non fat, whole wheat options.  Use whole milk or half and half, creamy ricotta and french bread.

It's not Cafe Amandine's Strawberry French Toast, the award winning bakery on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles...but, it's the best we can do in the Midwest.  sigh.

Cranberry and Apple Cake

Cranberry added to apples and pears brightens the flavor giving the cake a unique and delicious flavor.  This is one of my favorites by Ina Garten.

12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
1 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
2 extra large eggs
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes.  With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined.  On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.

Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate.  Pour the batter over the fruit, covering in completely.  Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Add in a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream to put this desert over the top!

Lemon Chicken Breasts

One of my favorite standby recipes that is quick and easy from Ina Garten's book, "Barefoot Contessa - How Easy It That?"  Add a salad or braised green beans, some crusty bread and dinner is ready in a flash.  The cooked lemons are delicious be sure to add them when serving.

1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
1/3 Cup dry white wine
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1 1/2 Teaspoon dried oregano
1 Teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on (6 - 8 ounces each)
1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-love heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don't allow the garlic to turn brown or it will become bitter.  Turn off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9x12-inch baking dish.

Pat the chicken dry and place them skin side up over the sauce.  Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper.  Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned.  If the chicken isn't browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes.  This is a great way to brown anything before serving.  Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with pan juices.

Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad

My Dad made this delicious salad recently and it is crisp, crunchy, and slightly sweet with lots of flavor. I always think of this type of salad for summer meals but, it was especially good during the last days of Winter. A promise of warm weather to come.

6 cups broccoli florets
6 cups cauliflowerets
3 medium red onions, halved and sliced
2 cups mayo
1 cup (8oz) sour cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon worchestershire
3 teaspoons dill weed
2 teaspoons salt
Dash hot sauce

In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, cauliflower and onions. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Pour over vegetables and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.

Chocolate Oatmeal Yogurt Muffins

1 c. organic whole wheat all purpose flour
2 c. organic rolled oats
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. honey
1 c. low fat plain unsweetened yogurt
2 large eggs
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 c. raisins
1/2 c. butter
3 tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream together butter, honey and eggs.

Add rest of ingredients, leaving baking powder until last.

Mix well.

Lightly grease muffin tins.

Pour batter into tins.

Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean after piercing center of muffin.

Allow to cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Erin's Magic Bars

In celebration of my birthday, Erin made Magic Bars and they were so good that it would be magic if you don't eat the entire pan of bars in 24 hours. Chocolate, coconut, and almonds in a graham cracker crust. You have to try a batch of these bars.


1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter melted
1 can (14 oz.) condensed milk
2 cups (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup toasted slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (325 degrees for glass dish).

In small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press crumb mixture firmly on bottom of 13x9 inch baking dish.

Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumbs. Layer evenly with remaining ingredients press down firmly with fork.

Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Chill if desired. Cut into bars. Store covered at room temperature.

101 Cookbooks

Black bean Brownies - yes, my friends there are black beans in these delicious looking brownies. Recently, my friend Sarah recommended this website to me that features healthy vegetarian recipes...

101 Cookbooks

Hummus en Fuego

The photography is exception, the recipes are easy to follow and best of all - they are good for you.

Heirloom Tomato Tart in a Parmesan Crust Recipe
These are just a few of my favorites.....yummy!