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I like creating good food with whatever is handy. These are recipes I created. I cook the old fashioned way, so I rarely use precise measurements. I have attempted to give a guideline for measurements, but use your judgment and combine to your particular taste.

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Avocado Salsa Verde

This makes a light, fresh, summery salsa that goes well with just about any snack or meal. Personally I don't like the taste of tomatillos, but this is a rare exception because the refreshing tart-spice flavors go together so well. In case you don't yet know the difference, tomatillos are definitely not little green paper-covered tomatoes. They have a very different taste and texture which is perfect for this recipe. I love this salsa equally well on stone ground corn chips and as a topping for grilled fish or steaks. Even in the middle of winter, one taste brings back the feeling and memory of warm summer breezes.

  • 1 jalapeno, sliced, optional reserve seeds for more spice
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 4 medium tomatillos (about 8 ounces) husked, rinsed, chopped
  • 1 Haas avocado, seeded, peeled, chopped
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt (half or less if substituting table salt)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • juice of 1 fresh lime, optional lime zest for stronger lime flavor
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Combine lime juice, half of the salt, onion, jalapeno and garlic in food processor and chop fine. Taste for spice and mix in some of the jalapeno seeds if more heat is desired. Do not add more salt at this time. Add tomatillos and avocado and pulse until evenly chopped but still chunky. Add fresh cilantro and taste for salt and spice. Depending on the freshness of the ingredients, the consistency may range from a paste to a soup. If it is too thick, add cold water as needed until the consistency of thin salsa. Serve chilled. Serves two to four depending on appetite. This recipe is easy to double, but reserve any extra salt until the very end. Keeps well in the refrigerator for several days if you can resist the temptation to eat it all at once.

Awesome Cranberry Bread Pudding

This is a great way to use up leftover cranberry sauce from your holiday dinner. Or use it as an excuse to make your own. The cranberry sauce (compote) recipe is on every bag of fresh or frozen cranberries and is very easy to make with just berries, water and sugar. Just let it cool to room temperature before you make the bread pudding.

  • 6 to 8 slices bread, day old
  • 2 cups cranberry compote (a.k.a. cranberry sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups half and half (milk works in a pinch)

Cut bread into 1 inch cubes. Place on oven rack over baking sheet and toast in 250 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until dry. Turn oven up to 350 degrees after dry bread is removed.

Whisk together eggs, sugar, melted butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, vanilla and cranberry sauce (or crushed whole berries) until completely mixed. Stir in half and half, bread cubes and pecans (if you use them). Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure liquid soaks into the bread.

Grease a 9 inch square baking pan, pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees until set in the center and a toothpick comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.

If you choose not to use the cranberry sauce you can use fresh or frozen blueberries (or other berries) just add 1/4 cup of brandy or other liquor to make up for the loss of liquid.

This is especially good with brandy sauce!

Brandy Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup Brandy (more or less as desired)

Place sugar, water and butter in a small pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally to be sure the sugar completely dissolves. Turn heat down and boil gently for about five minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, add brandy, stir and spoon sauce over warm bread pudding. Serve warm.

Baked Rice Pudding

  • 1/3 cup raw rice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • raisins to taste

Combine rice, sugar, milk in oven dish and bake at 325F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Then add cream, vanilla and raisins. Stir. Sprinkle with cinnamon and cook an additional 1/2 hour. Transfer to serving dishes and cool thou rally before serving.

Biscuits Lucille Style

My favorite Cajun restaurant in Colorado is a place called Lucille's. While all of their food is fantastic and reminds me of all the wonderful Louisiana flavors I love from past RV trips, their biscuits are over the top good. These are the sheet pan style biscuits that do not require any kneading, rolling, or cutting which is good for me because that means a whole lot less work and less mess. The down side is the lack of a natural portion size which can be small or large depending on if you have tasted this yet. This recipe is the result of many years of testing and tweaking to get something that works well at Denver altitude without leaving a baking powder flavor in my mouth. One of the major steps forward for me was discovering Trader Joe's buttermilk which makes a noticeable difference in both the flavor and texture of these biscuits.

If you don't have buttermilk use 1 cup milk and 2 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice. I feel the flavor and quality is better with real buttermilk. You can also use half shortening and half butter for a slightly different texture.

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick very cold butter cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 425F. Place rack in middle position.

In the food processor bowl with the steel blade add the dry ingredients. Pulse about six times to mix. Add cubes of very cold butter and process twelve pulses at one second each. Pour mixture into a large bowl and add buttermilk. Stir just until it comes together. Do not over mix. Put into a greased 8x8 or 7x11 inch baking pan. I use a little cooking spray to prepare the baking pan but butter works too. Brush top with melted butter.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the middle is done. A toothpick inserted near the center should come out clean.

Brown Sugar Banana Bread

This is inspired by a recipe I found in The Back in the Day Cookbook but as always I like to change things.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cup pecans toasted and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup well-mashed ripe banana (about 3-4 medium sized bananas)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar for sprinkling on top

Position rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350F. Lightly spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a large bowl mix flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and pecans until well combined.

In another bowl beat the eggs then mix in the mashed bananas, sour cream, butter and vanilla until stirring until everything is fully combined. Gently fold the banana mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Do not over mix. It will be very thick. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan, spreading it evenly to the edges with a spatula. Sprinkle brown sugar on top of loaf and bake for 45 minutes to an hour until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Variation: Use 1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate chips instead of the pecans.

Cathy's Gourmet Dog Biscuits

Even though I am a confirmed cat person, I love dogs and go out of my way to get my fair share of doggie kisses. Every Christmas season I like to do something nice in return by giving all the friendly dogs some of my home made dog treats. The happy faces and wagging tails are worth all the effort!

  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1 Tablespoon chicken bouillon
  • 1/3 cup shortening, butter flavored
  • 1/2 cup powdered milk
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large sturdy bowl mix bouillon with hot water until completely dissolved. Stir in shortening, powdered milk, salt, sugar and egg. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Knead for several minutes, adding flour if necessary to make a very stiff dough. Pat or roll to between 1/2" and 1/3" thick and cut with dog bone shaped cookie cutter. Place close together (they do not spread) on greased baking sheet. Bake 45 minutes at 325 degrees. Do not open oven door. Turn off oven and allow to completely cool for an hour or more. They should be very dry when done.

Note: this recipe is best for a dog bone shape. It should be long and narrow to cook completely. Rolling the dough thinner helps if uneven cooking is a problem, but the result can be very crumbly.

Substitutions: You can use beef bouillon instead of chicken. You can also use margarine instead of the butter flavored shortening.

Cherry Winks Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1/3 cup cherries (maraschino) cut in half
  • 2 1/2 cups Corn Flakes breakfast cereal (crushed)

Shape dough into balls (1 level Tablespoon), roll in corn flakes and top with a cherry half. Bake 375F 10-12 minutes. Remove to cooling rack immediately.

Cranberry Christmas Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/8 cup brown sugar
  • 3/8 cup white sugar
  • 1 each egg
  • 1 Tablespoon brandy
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease cookie sheets or spray with no stick cooking spray.

Cream together butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in egg and brandy. Combine flour and baking soda, stir into sugar mixture. Add the chips and cranberries. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets. (I use the small Pampered Chef cookie dipper).

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly browned. They should be slightly under done. Allow to cool for one minute on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Cranberry Christmas Salsa

  • 12 ounces raw whole cranberries
  • 2 whole oranges
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 each jalapeños, de-veined and seeded
  • 1 inch ginger root, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon green chile powder, optional

Place cranberries in food processor. Squeeze one orange onto processor bowl and add the pulp, including the rind. Peel the other orange and add it in sections (without the peel this time). Add sugar and cilantro. Pulse until well blended but still chunky. Add sliced onions, ginger root and jalapeño and process until fairly smooth but with some texture. Add green chile powder if needed for heat.

Make a day or two ahead of time, although it will get hotter as it sits. Great with blue corn chips.

Cucumber-Herb Lemonade

  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1/4 can chilled lemonade (top quality)
  • 6-10 sprigs fresh herbs

Peel and chop the cucumber. Remove the leaves from the stems of the herbs. Pour lemonade into a blender and add cucumber and herbs. Blend until liquefied and serve immediately. This is a refreshing drink on a hot day. Herbs that work especially well are mint, basil, lemon verbena and lavender. Feel free to experiment.

Decadent Peach Cobbler

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups sliced peaches
  • 1 cup sugar

Combine flour, salt and baking powder and sugar. Slowly stir in milk to make a batter.

Melt butter in 8 inch square pan. Pour batter over melted butter, don't stir. Mix the peaches with the sugar and carefully spoon over the batter. Bake for 1 hour at 350. Best served with ice cream.

Devonshire Cream

  • 1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup whipping or heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • confectioner's sugar to taste
  • selection of fresh fruit

In a small bowl, beat cheese until softened. Gradually add cream to make a smooth mixture. Add vanilla and sugar to desired degree of sweetness. Makes about 3/4 cup. About 25 calories per Tablespoon without fruits.

Serve with fresh strawberries, pineapple chunks, apple slices, orange segments, grapes, sliced bananas or any other fruit that suites your fancy.

Easiest Ever Pie Crust

This recipe was inspired by the most wonderful pie at the Route 66 Midpoint Cafe that has sadly closed. They called it an ugly crust pie, but I think it is beautiful! Especially since it is so easy and forgiving.

  • 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup shortening; butter flavored or plain
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar

Measure 1/3 cup milk into a measuring cup and add 1 Tablespoon white vinegar or white wine vinegar. Set aside while you make the rest of the dough.

Mix flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal or very small peas. It will look a little more lumpy than other pie dough. If it is too sticky you might need to add up to an additional 1/4 cup flour at this point.

Pour the milk over the dough and stir just until the dough sticks together. Knead just until the dough is smooth, adding more flour if necessary to keep it from sticking. Do not over knead to keep the crust tender. Roll out on a well floured board.

Makes two 9 inch crusts, enough for two single crust pies or one double crust pie.

This dough is very forgiving, does not need to rest and does not need to be refrigerated before you roll it out. It is very flaky and tender. When cooked it even stays flaky overnight under most pie fillings.

Grilled Cilantro Lime Shrimp

I grow a salsa garden in the summer, so I have plenty of fresh cilantro, tomatoes and chili peppers. Here is a recipe that uses some of these ingredients.

  • 1 1/2 pound large raw shrimp
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 or 3 Tablespoons key lime juice
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves

Peel and de-vein shrimp. Chop about 1/4 cup cilantro leaves (don't use the stems, they can be bitter and very strong flavored). Combine cilantro, olive oil, lime juice (regular lime juice or lemon juice can be substituted) and pressed or minced garlic clove. Mixture should be a medium thick paste so it will coat the shrimp. Add more oil or cilantro if necessary.

Marinate shrimp three hours or overnight. Grill over medium heat until shrimp is done but not overcooked.

Hummus For Two

This recipe has two uncommon ingredients not found in most western kitchens; chickpeas and tahini. The chickpeas are easy to find in most grocery stores near the canned beans because they are sometimes called garbanzo beans. Some stores also have dried chickpeas, but they take a very long time to cook. The secret ingredient to making hummus taste right is tahini which is just a fancy name for sesame seed butter. Just like natural peanut butter it keeps in the refrigerator for months. I find this most often near the nut and seed butters in middle eastern markets, health food stores, natural grocery stores and adventurous grocery stores. Get the small one and see how long it lasts for you before springing for the big one. A little goes a long way. I find tahini has a slight bitter aftertaste which means I only use it in places where it hides behind other flavors.

  • 1 can Chickpeas or Garbanzo beans, 15-16 ounces
  • 4 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • olive oil, to garnish
  • paprika, to garnish
  • parsley, to garnish
  • 2 prepared roasted peppers packed in oil or vinegar, optional

Drain the liquid from the chickpeas into a cup and set aside just in case the mixture is too thick. In a food processor add the chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, salt and cayene pepper. Mix until well combined and no large chunks of chickpeas remain. Mixture should be the consistency of prepared mustard. If it is too thick add a spoon full of olive oil and a spoon full of the chickpea juice, mix well and test again.

Optional add two roasted peppers to the mix before testing for consistency.

Run the food processor for at least one more minute to ensure everything is fully mixed and smooth. Chill covered in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

Before serving top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and optionally a little chopped parsley or very light sprinkling of paprika or cayenne pepper for color. Serve with a side selection of bread, chips or vegetable sticks for dipping.

Key Lime Bars

Ingredients Crust:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
Ingredients Filling:
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup Nellie and Joe’s brand Key Lime Juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • pinch of salt
  • additional confectioners sugar for sprinkling over the top

Mix crust ingredients (butter, flour and confectioners sugar) until smooth. A mixer really helps in this step. Press into a 9 x 12 x 2 inch pan and up the sides a little. Bake the crust at 350F for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.

Meanwhile mix the rest of the ingredients until well combined. You can do this by hand but if you already have the mixer out why not use it. Pour mixture onto hot crust and bake for 20-25 minutes until done. Sift confectioners sugar over the top while still warm. Cut into squares or bars and serve warm or cold.

If you can’t find key lime juice you can use the juice of a fresh lime, it doesn’t have to be key lime. Just be sure to use 1/4 cup. Even though I always press the crust up around the edges a little it is totally flat when I take it out, so I’m not entirely sure this is necessary.

If you take this to a pot luck it will disappear almost instantly. I did try freezing some once and they were fine. There usually aren’t enough to freeze!

Key Lime Cookies

My traditional Florida key lime pies have become holiday favorites for all of my friends, but the pies just don't last that long. A few years ago a fund raising drive for a local school sent kids out selling gourmet cookie dough in wonderfully imaginative flavors. When I saw key lime on the list, I had to get some. They turned out to be a little like white chocolate chip sugar cookies with a nice hint of key lime. We loved the taste but the ingredients list was all industrial chemicals and artificial flavorings. So with a little bit of experimenting I made my own recipe using only real ingredients. These cookies freeze very well and might even last up to a year in your cold storage - but only if you can keep everyone else from eating them. If you like key lime pie, you will love these cookies with a hint of tartness.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5 Tablespoons key lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest, grated
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg plus the extra egg yolk and beat until light and creamy. Add key lime juice, lime zest and mix well. Add flour, baking power and salt. Mix just until well incorporated. Dough will be soft. Fold in white chocolate chips so they are evenly distributed. Drop the dough by Tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheet with plenty of room for them to spread out as they cook. Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes until edges begin to brown. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely. Yields about 48 cookies.

You can use either the white morsels or real white chocolate chips. The real white chocolate chips actually have cocoa butter in them which I personally like the best. Although the white morsels turn out nice and creamy with a little extra sweetness to help turn these slightly tart cookies into more of a sugar cookie.


  • 2 2/3 cups (approximate) flaked/shredded coconut
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine coconut, milk and vanilla; mix well. Drop from teaspoon, 1 inch apart, onto well-greased baking sheets. Bake at 350F for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove at once from sheets to cool before serving. Makes 30. May be doubled.

Marshmallow Cream

This was my aunt's secret recipe that she shared with me. It has been in my family for over 80 years and is a winner in any setting and for any occasion. This is different than anything you can buy in the store not just because it only has 6 ingredients you can pronounce but because it is amazingly smooth and silky without being too sweet. If you want something extra special, try a scoop of this in your next mug of hot chocolate!

  • 1 egg white
  • 2 cups white corn syrup
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt

With a stand mixer whip 1 egg white until soft peak stage. Let it stand in the mixing bowl.

In a sauce pan add 2 cups white corn syrup, 4 cups sugar and 2/3 cup water. Bring to a rolling boil. While the mixer is running VERY SLOWLY drizzle the syrup mixture into the egg white. As the egg white comes up to temperature the mixture can be added a little faster. The egg white is cooked at this point. When all of the syrup is incorporated add the vanilla and salt then mix until well combined. Extra mixing makes a stiffer cream but be careful not to hurt your mixer - I did that once trying to make this recipe extra stiff.

Cool and store covered in the refrigerator for up to a month. Serve over ice cream, cake, hot chocolate, cookies, etc.

Pasta with Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce

This recipe is designed to use ingredients that come directly from my garden. This is why the quantities are not explicitly given. If more tomatoes are ripe today, more get added to the sauce. If you are new to cooking by taste, this is the perfect recipe to get you started.

  • Vine ripe garden tomatoes
  • Fresh basil chopped
  • Fresh Garlic (pressed or minced)
  • Olive Oil (enough to coat)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
  • Ripe olives (optional)
  • Pasta (any bite-sized shape)
  • Fresh grated or shaved Parmesan cheese

Cut the ripe tomatoes (I prefer the Roma variety) into bite sized cubes or chunks and combine with fresh chopped basil, pressed or minced garlic, just enough olive oil to coat the tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. You may also add ripe olives if you like.

Cover and let sit at room temperature for several hours. Do not refrigerate or cook - this is where the magic happens.

Cook your favorite bite sized pasta. At home I prefer to make my own. When cooked, drain the pasta but do not rinse. The remaining starch is important for the sauce. While still hot toss the pasta with the sauce. Top with freshly grated or shaved Parmesan cheese.

Serve with a fresh garden salad and warm garlic bread.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon solid vegetable shortening
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • honey or confectioners sugar for topping

In a small bowl stir flour with baking powder, salt and sugar. Add vegetable shortening and cut in with 2 knives or a pastry blender until mixture resembles corn meal. Add water and stir with a fork to make a stiff dough. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Put dough back in bowl, cover and let stand 30 minutes. Pour oil into a deep, heavy saucepan to a depth of 3 inches; heat to 375F on a deep-frying thermometer. On a lightly floured surface roll out dough to an 18x6 inch rectangle. Cut into 2x3 inch rectangles. Slide several dough rectangles into the hot oil (do not fry more than one layer at a time) and fry 1 minute on each side, until golden and puffed. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining dough. Serve warm, drizzled with honey or sprinkled with confectioners sugar. Makes about 18 which in my house is 6 to 8 servings.

Per sopaipilla: 46 calories, 1 gram protein, 2 grams fat, 5 grams carbohydrate.

Note: The cooked sopaipillas may be made up to a day ahead. Let cool; then store in a plastic bag at room temperature overnight. To reheat, place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 250F for 8 to 10 minutes.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

This moist cake is good for brunch, snacks or dessert. It is just as good the next day, assuming there is any left!

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 dash salt
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Combine butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs and salt, cream together. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add half the four mixture and half the sour cream to the mixing bowl and beat for one minute. Add the other half and beat for one more minute. Don't worry, this batter is supposed be very thick.

Mix the brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and nuts together in a small bowl. This is the topping.

Spread one half of the cake batter into a greased and floured 9 x 9 inch pan. Sprinkle with one half of the topping. Spread the other half of the batter on top and then add the rest of the topping.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Higher altitudes require may a few extra minutes. Cool before serving.

Sour Cream Peach Pie

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) soft butter
  • 1 3oz package cream cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1 #2-1/2 can (1 pound 13 ounces) sliced cling peaches well drained
  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) dairy sour cream
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon or nutmeg to taste

Cream butter and cheese with salt. Work four into butter mixture with fork or pasty blender until well blended. Form into ball and roll out on floured board or cloth to fit a 9-inch pie plate. Pat firmly into pie plate; flute edges just to the inside rim of plate; spread lightly with butter. Pat peach slices between paper towels; arrange in a circular over-lapping pattern in bottom of pastry. Combine dairy sour cream with egg, sugar and vanilla. Spoon over peaches. Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg. Bake in 425F oven for 12 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer. Serve warm.

Spicy Party Nuts

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 3 cups nuts, unsalted
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Combine salt, cumin, coriander, red pepper and 1/4 cup of the sugar.

Heat oil in a skillet on medium high. Add nuts and stir to heat. When the nuts are warm and brown, push them to the sides of the pan and add the reserved plain sugar (1/2 cup) to the middle of the pan and watch carefully until it starts to melt. Stir the nuts to coat well with the melted sugar. While still hot toss with seasoning mixture.

Spread single layer on a jelly roll pan and be sure to separate any nuts that stick together. Be careful, they will be very (lava) hot. Allow to completely cool before moving to bags or sealed container. Store at room temperature.

Yield: 3 cups.

Notes: All measurements are approximate. Add more cayenne if you like them really hot. Experiment with different spices.

Strawberry Margarita Squares

I like to bring new and different things to potluck dinners. This is one of those nearly magical treats that everybody loves. This makes a great potluck dish and is very easy to make ahead. Try not to let it sit out too long as it is best when it is still slightly frozen.

Key lime juice is available in most major grocery stores. Nellie and Joe's brand is easy to find, but if you happen to find Floribbean brand Key Lime Juice it's the best I have found.

  • 1 1/4 cups crushed pretzels
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup pureed strawberries
  • 1/2 cup key lime juice
  • 8 ounces whipped topping, thawed

Mix pretzel crumbs and butter in 13x9 pan, press mixture firmly into bottom of pan. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Mix sweetened condensed milk, strawberries and key lime juice in large bowl until well blended. Gently fold in whipped topping. Pour over crust.

Freeze at least six hours or overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before cutting into squares. Serve with garnish of sliced strawberries if desired.

Notes: If you don't want to make the pretzel crust you can use a graham cracker crust instead. It's just as good this way. Don't worry, it tends to shrink as it gets warmer.

Wasabi Mayo Dip

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons wasabi paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Whisk all ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Add more wasabi paste if more spice is desired. Refrigerate completely before serving.

You can use wasabi powder in this recipe, but first make it into a paste with water and let it sit long enough to rehydrate - at least 5 or 10 minutes.

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