Friday, February 27, 2015


Now tell me, doesn't this look like it is just going to be divine?  I am here to tell you, IT IS!!

I was cleaning out a room the other day, getting ready for some remodeling, so I just had Pioneer Woman playing on the television.  I looked up when she started talking about this little treat.  She had me intrigued because she was just gushing over this Greek Yogurt (that is an anomaly to me...not a fan).  She said her Mom taught her how to make it and she described it as "the best thing she has ever put in her mouth"!

I have been battling a sinus infection and on antibiotics, for what seems forever.  I was just thinking that I needed to be eating some yogurt to get some of that balance back in my gut, so she had me there too.  I watched her make it and it was simple enough, but what she did to the yogurt is where she got me hooked into trying it.

She started off with a container of Greek Yogurt but then she added heavy cream, brown sugar, and vanilla, and then finished it by layering it with fresh assorted berries.  I went to the store the next day and made it this morning.

I could not put my spoon down, it was just that good.  I know it has sugar and heavy cream but surely the yogurt and fresh berries cancels out any bad that could do....please tell me that is the truth!!  What a perfect little dish for serving to your family for breakfast, your girlfriends for brunch, or just for anytime you want a snack or light dessert....I so think this could be considered dessert : )

It took me less than 5 minutes to mix up...20 minutes in the fridge...3 minutes to assemble....what could be easier or less trouble.  I think I can safely say that this would make a Greek Yogurt lover out of any hater!  Try it and let me know!


(1) 17.5 ounce container Greek Yogurt (I used Fage)
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 cup Brown Sugar (I used half light and half brown sugar, but it could be either and be great)
1 teaspoon Vanilla
Assorted Berries
Almonds, Walnuts, Granola
Extra Brown Sugar

Spoon the container of yogurt into a medium size bowl.

Add 1/2 cup heavy cream and teaspoon of vanilla to the yogurt.  Using a whisk, combine until well incorporated and creamy.

Sprinkle the 1/2 cup of brown sugar over the top of the yogurt mixture but 

Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

In a parfait glass, or a small bowl, put a handful of berries.

DO NOT stir the brown sugar into the yogurt, but rather just dip your spoon all the way to the bottom and back up again grabbing some of the yogurt with the brown sugar, and dollop onto the fruit.  Repeat.

Top with a little bit of brown sugar, granola, nuts, if you like.


Friday, February 20, 2015

SUSIE'S SUGAR COOKIE FRUIT TART (formerly and affectionately known as Fruit Pizza)

If you add fruit to a dessert, it makes it healthy....right?  Makes sense to me and so that is how it shall be...bippity, boppity, boo!

My daughter just turned 27 years old last week and we celebrated with a shopping trip and overnight stay in Houston. 

One of my favorite pictures from that birthday trip!

I always cook for my babies, (my kids no matter their age), for their birthdays so we kept the celebration going and ended it last night with this delightful little piece of dessert heaven. This would be such a fun dessert to make with little ones.  They could mash the cookie dough into the pan, spread the frosting and place their fruit in any design they would like!  How fun for them and it lets them be creative.  My grandson was more into running and dropping my tomatoes on the floor. LoL!!  I stopped and got a picture because he is only going to be little once and I love seeing him happy!  Actually, in all fairness, I think that at the time of decorating the cookie, he was totally immersed in the show Rio and this boy gets in a zone when a beloved movie like Horton Hears A Who or Madagascar or Toy Story is on the big screen! Ha!

Do not underestimate my ability to find a way to share a pic or 2 or 3 of my grandbaby! LoL!

The name, Fruit Pizza, just does not do this dish justice.  I mean it has a sugar cookie crust, so already that is a pretty awesome dessert, then you add a cream cheese frosting, topped with lots of fresh, lovely fruit, and, at last, drizzled with a fruit juice glaze and to me that is more than it's name implies.  What would be a good name....large fruit tart...mmm no...or fruit about Sugar Cookie Fruit Tart....and let's name it after the sweet lady I got the recipe from...Susie.  Susie's Sugar Cookie Fruit Tart...I think that sounds so much better!  (excuse me while I go and change the name!)

I first tasted this dessert at my friend Kelly's house.  Her mother-in-law had made it.  It was so delicious, and I asked her for the recipe.  She was very kind to share it with me.  She passed away a few years ago, but I always think of her when I make this dish, so it's like a part of her still lives in my heart.  I feel like that with several dishes that I make.  I have my Sock It To Me Cake that  reminds me of my grandmother who passed when I was 10 years old and my Aunt Telle. Both of those amazing ladies were a big part of my younger years and they gave me many good memories of that time in my life.  My favorite Potato Salad reminds me of my sweet friend, Dot, who left us on Thanksgiving Day last year. Her laugh and how she made you feel were the things that made her so special. The recipe for Cream of Potato-Broccoli soup reminds me of Glen, who was a neighbor and like a grandfather to my son Christopher.  He actually passed away at the ballpark while he was attending his grandchildren's ballgame.  So sad, but he left behind a wonderful legacy to all he knew. Those are just a few recipes, and I have many like that. I will blog them soon because I have been surrounded by wonderful cooks and bakers who have left a little piece of them behind in the recipes they have shared with me.

I want you to know that it is perfectly fine to use store bought, refrigerated cookie dough.  You may have to let it warm a little bit to be able to press it down in the pan, but it will be delicious and a time saver!

Because this recipe has fresh fruit, it should be assembled the day you are planning on serving it. However, the cookie crust can be made a day or two in advance.  I tossed around ideas of what shape and/or size to make.  I thought it would be really cute to make large individual cookies, but I was short on time and decorating each cookie was a little more time consuming.  I tossed around the idea of a round pizza baking stone, a round cake pan, and finally decided upon a 15 X 10 rectangular jelly roll pan.  Before you put the sugar cookie dough in the pan, spray it with Baker's Joy and dust it with a little granulated sugar, then gently press the dough to the outer edges.  It will feel very thin but it will rise in the oven and not be overly thick, which is how you want it to be. 

When it comes to fruit, you can use any fruit you like.  It's best to use fruit that you can slice through such as blueberries, raspberries and not crispier ones like apples or cantaloupe.  Also, you need the canned fruit for their juice(I used pineapple and mandarin oranges).  Make sure they are well drained and save the juice for the drizzle.  You do not want the juices to sit on top of the cream cheese or the cookie crust and make it soggy.  The original recipe even called for Kiwi fruit, which are really good and pretty on this,  but there weren't any that looked good at my store where I shop.

Oh and I doubled the cream cheese mixture...because, in my little world, you can never have enough cream cheese mixed with pure sugar :

I let my daughter do her own creating and decorating!  (Well I might have made a few suggestions...ha!)  Looks so pretty!

SUSIE'S SUGAR COOKIE FRUIT TART (formerly and affectionately known as Fruit Pizza)

1/2 cup Salted Butter, room temperature
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1egg, room temperature (I place an egg in hot water to bring it to room temp)
1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1-1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
(1) 8 ounce package Cream Cheese
1/2 cup of Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 pint Blueberries
1 pint Raspberries
1 quart Strawberries
3-4 Bananas
(1) 16-ounce can Mandarin Oranges (save the juice)
(1) 8-ounce can Pineapple Tidbits (save the juice)
(4) Kiwi Fruit can be substituted in place of any of the berries or bananas
2 tablespoons Cornstarch
1-2 tablespoons Granulated Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the salt and the egg and beat until well incorporated.  Sprinkle the cream of tartar over the mixture and then add half of the flour.  Mix until it is well incorporated and then add the remaining flour. 

Grease your baking pan or pizza pan and sprinkle with enough sugar to cover.  Shake off excess sugar.

Place cookie dough on pan and using your fingers, press until the cookie dough covers the pan from end to end, corner to corner.

Place in a 350 degree oven for 9-11 minutes.  I watch this very carefully.  I take it out when the corners and edges are golden brown.

Let it cool.

In a medium bowl, blend the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth.

Spread on top of the sugar cookie bottom.  I leave just a little rim around the edge without frosting.

Slice your fruit and use a circular design for a round pan or really any design you would like.  This is the fun creative! 

Combine the pineapple and mandarin orange juices with the 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a small microwave safe bowl.   Microwave on high for 3 minutes, stopping to stir after 1 minute and then each one minute after.  Spoon on top of fruit to seal.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015


If you ever need a dish that feeds several people and makes a pretty presentation, well then this is the recipe for you.  It tastes so delightful too!  It is easy to make, it just takes a little bit of time.

As with most of the recipes I get from cookbooks, I changed this one up.  I got the base recipe from Giada's Family Dinners and then made it my own.  The recipe called for prosciutto but I wanted it to be more substantial and meaty like a lasagna so I used ground sirloin mixed with Italian sausage.  Also, I used my own spaghetti sauce recipe.  It makes a lot so I was able to make the sauce, use it for this recipe and freeze 2 large containers for later.

When I am having company over and I want to make a recipe I have never made before I usually do a run through.  I make it ahead of time to see if it is good and what changes, if any, that I would like to make to it.  When I made it the first time, it was really good but as I was eating it, I thought, I know what would make the flavors in this pop.....Melted Garlic Butter drizzled over the lasagna!  I got almost giddy thinking about weird, I know!  I even made myself a note so I wouldn't forget to do it.  I was right too!!  Next time I am adding even more!   That butter and garlic added to the meat and cheese mixture just before I rolled up the lasagna noodles took this recipe from being great to awesome.  I mean, warm melted butter with fresh minced just doesn't get much better!  It's an easy recipe to double and I did that, but one lasagna roll was enough for me, along with a salad and garlic bread and then dessert.  A man might eat two and I would probably plan on two if you are serving men, but I think most women would only eat one especially if you are fixing other things to go along with it.

This is a great recipe to play around with.  My friend Babette made them this past weekend and she changed up the ingredients.  I will say that my husband was not fond of the spinach and ricotta, so next time I may just make them like regular lasagna.  One day I want to make veggie lasagna but I may have to give him some space before I break that out on him. Haha!

I am so glad my friend, Babette, took this picture of this step so you can see what they look like before they are rolled.

You really cannot mess up this recipe.  It is one of those that even if you make a mistake, no one will ever know!  Love those kind of recipes!! 

You have got to try this dish....just remember the Garlic Butter!!  Is your mouth-watering yet?

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees

Bechemel Sauce

3 tablespoons Butter
4 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
1-1/4 cups Whole Milk
1 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Freshly Ground Nutmeg

1 (15 ounce container Whole-Milk Ricotta Cheese
1 (10-ounce Box Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 pound Ground Sirloin
1/2 pound Ground Italian Sausage
1 large Egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon Salt, plus more for pasta
1/2 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
12 dried Lasagna Noodles
1/4 cup Salt
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1 stick Butter
6 cloves Garlic
2-3 Cups Spaghetti Sauce (my recipe or jar spaghetti sauce)
1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Melt the butter in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the flour and cook for 3 minutes, whisking continuously.  Whisk in the milk.  Increase the heat to medium-high.  Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes.  Whisk in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

In a skillet over medium to high heat, brown the sirloin and the Italian sausage until it is cooked thoroughly.

In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, spinach, and 1 cup of the Parmesan  cheese, meat and sausage mixture, egg, the salt and the pepper, until well blended.

Melt butter and add minced garlic, mix well and set aside.

Bring a very large pot of water to a boil over high heat and add your salt and olive oil.   Add the lasagna noodles and cook until just tender, but still firm to the bite, stirring frequently to prevent the noodles from sticking together.  Keep an eye on these noodles so they do not get overdone because they will continue to cook in the oven.  Drain.  Arrange the noodles in a single layer on baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.  I actually just laid out some wax paper and placed the noodles on them. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Butter a 13 X 9 X 2 baking glass baking dish.  Spread the cream sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish.

Lay out a lasagna noodle on a flat work surface, then spread about 3 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle.  Drizzle about 1-2 teaspoons of the garlic butter over the ricotta mixture. I didn't measure when I did mine and I think I used about 1 teaspoon.  I felt like it could of used more so next time I will use 2 teaspoons but I love garlic. Roll up the noodles and arrange the rolls, seam side down and not touching one another atop the cream sauce.  Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture.  Spoon 1 cup of the spaghetti sauce over the lasagna rolls, sprinkle with a light amount of salt, then sprinkle with the mozzarella and remaining  2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. 

Cover the dish tightly with foil.  Bake until the rolls are heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake until the cheese on top is golden, about 15 minutes longer.  Let stand for 10 minutes.

Heat the remaining spaghetti sauce in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat until hot. 

Transfer sauce to a sauceboat and serve alongside.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015


I have never been a really big fan of cheesecake.  But, the other day I saw a picture on the front of a magazine, and it looked so good that I found myself craving a slice. 
I have never made a cheesecake...because it seemed like a monumental task and, like I said, it has never been my favorite.  I do make some little cheesecake tarts, which I really like and have actually blogged...I know that doesn't make sense, soooo welcome to my world.  What I really like is CHOCOLATE!  Because it is Valentine's Day in just a few days, I decided this would be the perfect dessert for our Valentine's Bunco! 
I had a group of friends coming over to my house to play Bunco.  I've played in this group for close to 2 decades (that makes it sound like a really long time)!  We started playing when our children were very young.  I can remember all our girls always wanting to play.  I think our group has gone from being about the game to being about the food and the chatting.  Here are a few of the girls...some are missing so I will have to catch them later.
Stephanie, Tricia, Julie
Terri and Rebecca

Debbie and Tricia

 Two days and three cheesecakes later, I have decided that making a cheesecake is not that difficult but there are some things that you must do or must not do to ensure a cheesecake that is creamy and does not crack on the top.  I learned something with each one and the final one turned out perfect.  Here are some of the things I learned...

1.  Low and Slow is the name of the game when it comes to baking cheesecakes.  If you are in a rush, then you just need to wait or make something else.

2.  A water bath is a cheesecakes best friend.  The first recipe I tried said to just cover the cheesecake for the first hour and that would provide enough moisture but it ended up with a crack the size of the grand canyon.  The second one said to just place a pan of water in the oven.  But the third time, I placed it in a water bath and voila...creamy and no cracks.

3.  Bake and then turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven for an hour.  Going from one extreme temperature to another may cause cracks in the surface.  I was so paranoid that after an hour, I just opened my oven door and didn't take it out for another 30 minutes.  Probably unnecessary but I was just about tired of baking a cheesecake that look perfect only to have it crack at the end.

4.  Do not overbake.  When the cheesecake looks dry or firm on the sides but jiggles in the middle, turn off your oven.

5.  Make sure you scrape down the sides when beating the cream cheese and also, when incorporating the chocolate mixtures into the cream cheese. Also, check the bottom of the bowl to make sure there is no cream cheese lingering there.  You do not want any little cheesecake flecks showing up in your batter.  When I poured my cheesecake into my pan,  I used a spatula to urge it out of the mixing bowl but I did so very gently. 

I know this sounds like a lot of steps, but I am just telling you all the things I learned with three tries so that you will only need one try.  And it helps me remember the next time I make a cheesecake, since it will probably be a while.  I can't stop eating it and that isn't good when you are trying to lose some weight!

The best thing about this cheesecake is that you can make this ahead a day or two before you need it.  In fact, you should make it, at the very least, a day ahead because it needs 8-24 hours to chill and set.  Also, because it is so rich, you can serve 12 people smaller slices, and still have a slice or two left over. I had asked my sister-in-law to play bunco with us that night, but she was packing up to go and visit her grandbabies.  She loves Chocolate Cheesecake so I ran her and my brother in law a slice down to their house at around 9:30 p.m and before I left, it was gone, gone, gone!  Haha! 

If you have time, drizzle the chocolate over the cheesecake before serving.  Because the cheesecake will be cold, the chocolate drizzle will harden immediately.  Make those little chocolate curls on top, ahead of time, store in a bag in the freezer, and add to the cheesecake just before serving.  I had so much fun.  It was like magic, the way they curled up on their own.  The directions follow the recipe below.

So there it is, everything I learned about making a cheesecake.  I hope you try this recipe for the chocolate lover(s) you know...they will love you for it! 




16 Oreos
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
(2) 3.3 ounce Dove Milk Chocolate Candy Bars
1/3 cup Heavy Cream
4 tablespoons Sweetened Condensed Milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
(3) 8-ounce packages Cream Cheese, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons Vanilla

1.  Place oven rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. 

2.  Spray a 9-inch spring form pan with Baker's Joy and place on a 13 X 9 baking sheet.

3.  Break up oreos into smaller pieces and place in a food processor.  Add 2 tablespoons sugar.  Process for about 30 seconds.  Add butter.  Pulse 6 times.

4.  Pour oreo mixture into pan and tamp down with a measuring cup.

5.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

6.  Take out of oven and off of baking sheet and place on cooling rack until cooled.

7.  Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

8.  Break up the dove chocolate bar into small pieces and place in a medium size, glass, microwave safe bowl.  Add the whipping cream and the condensed milk.  Place in the microwave at 50 percent power for 60 seconds, stopping to stir every 15 seconds until melted.

9.  Set aside to cool.

10.  In a small bowl, mix cocoa, salt, and 3/4 cup sugar until well incorporated. 

11. Place the cream cheese in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

12.  In a small bowl, mix cocoa, salt, and 3/4 cup sugar until well incorporated. 

13. Add the cocoa mixture to the cream cheese, and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape bowl as needed.

14. Add the melted chocolate mixture and mix on medium-low until incorporated.  Make sure that all of the cream cheese is completely blended with the chocolate mixture.

15. Add one egg at a time on low until well incorporated.  Add the vanilla with the last egg.

16. Cover the bottom and up the sides with aluminum foil making sure to bring the aluminum foil up around the sides.  I used a couple of sheets going opposite directions.  The first sheet should be come up on all sides at least 1 inch so that the water will not get into the pan.

17. Pour cheese mixture on top of the cooled crust...DO NOT SCRAPE SIDES.  Any cream cheese bits could cause the cheesecake to split on the top when baking.

18. Drop the pan lightly on a hard surface a few times to cause the air bubbles to rise to the top and burst.

19. Place spring-form pan in a large baking pan and place in oven.

20. Pour boiling water into the pan to just about 1/2 inch up the sides. 

21. Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes rotating once halfway through the baking time.

22. Turn off oven but do not open the oven door.  Leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 more hour.

23. Take out of oven, but leave in the spring form pan.  I actually opened the oven door and let it stay in there for about 30 more minutes. I don't think you have to do this but after making 2 cheesecakes that split right down the middle at the end of the cooking time, I wasn't taking any chances.

24. Run a knife around the inside edge to make sure the cheesecake does not stick.

25. Let cool completely.

26. Remove the outer pan from the bottom.  Slide a spatula under the cake and slide onto a cake plate or stand.  Cover with wax paper, then plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8-24 hours before serving. 

27.  Before serving or after cheesecake has been in the refrigerator and is chilled, drizzle with the chocolate and top with chocolate curls.  Serve with raspberries and fresh whipped cream.

CHOCOLATE CURLS: I melted 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels and 1 tablespoon of shortening in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until melted.  Pour out on the back of a baking sheet and smooth with a spatula. 

Place in the freezer for about 2 minutes.  Take out and touch the top with your finger.

  If it leaves a fingerprint, it needs about another minute in the freezer.  You want it to be just cold enough to not leave a fingerprint but not too cold or it will not roll properly.

Take a metal spatula and flip it over and scrape the chocolate slowly.  It should curl.  If it just crumbles, it is too cold.  Just give it a minute and try again.

CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE:  Melt 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels with 1 tablespoon shortening and melt in microwave in a small microwave safe bowl for about 30 seconds or until melted. 

Pour into a Ziploc bag.  Slice the smallest piece off of one corner. 

NOTE:  Make sure your cheesecake is cold so the chocolate will harden immediately when it hits the cheesecake.  That is important so that there no running together, just straight and perfect lines.  Hold it about 8 inches above the cheesecake and working quickly in a back and forth motion.  Turn the cheesecake 180 degrees and repeat the motion.  You can use as much or as little as you want. 


Monday, February 2, 2015


I think I got this recipe from my sister-in-law, Judy.  I found it in a bag of torn-out and copied recipes that I keep and add to from time to time.    I am so glad I found it because my little grandson loves Pumpkin Bread and I wanted to make him some.

This little munchkin came over today and he scarfed down a slice of that bread!

I think the ingredients in this recipe set it apart from other pumpkin bread recipes.  First of all, it has half the oil of most recipes because it incorporates ricotta cheese in its place.  Also, it calls for either milk or orange juice and I thought orange juice would pump up the flavor a bit.  Equal parts of brown sugar and white sugar are what sweetens this recipe and I used the dark brown sugar because I wanted more of that deep molasses flavor. 
Something I like to do is to grease my loaf pan by spraying it with Baker's Joy.  I then cut a piece of parchment paper that fits at the widest part of the pans and hangs out of both sides.  This step will keep the bread from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Also, when the bread is done you just simply grab both ends of the paper that is hanging out and lift it out of the pan to cook on a rack.

This recipe makes two large loaf pans so it is perfect to keep one loaf of bread for you and freeze one or share it with a friend.  So simple to put together, and it will make your kitchen smell like a spiced fall candle!  Now that is reason enough to try this recipe : )  
He loves his pumpkin bread!

Preheat oven to 325 Degrees
3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1-1/2 teaspoon Salt
1-1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1-1/2 cup Light or Dark Brown Sugar (I used dark)
1 can (15 ounce) Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin
4 Large Eggs
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup Orange Juice or Milk (I used Orange Juice but I might try Milk next time)
1 teaspoon Vanilla
NOTE:  You can add 1 cup of Walnuts or Dried Cranberries, if you like
Place all of the dry ingredients in bowl and mix until well blended.
Place all liquid ingredients in blender until well blended.
Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and mix just until well blended.  Do NOT over mix as it will develop the gluten in the flour.
Divide batter between two large loaf pans.
Bake in a 325 degree oven for approximately 60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean.