Archive for Recipes

When Life Gives You Lemons….

Whenever I mention lemon bars, my husband tells me that he had the best lemon bar as a kid. My husband told me that before trying them, he always thought that lemon bars sounded like a weird combination of candy and pastry, and the thought of eating them sounded VERY unappealing.  That was all until he just so happened to try a really good one, that happened to be left in the fridge after a party.   He claims that no other lemon bar has ever been as good as that lemon bar.  My husband said that the bar was cold, tart and refreshing, and has not had one as good since, so I decided to try to recreate this lemon bar.

I found a great recipe in my Taste of Home magazine. It seemed simple, and I had all of the ingredients here at home (score!).  Plus, this hot Houston weather was calling for a cool, tart treat. Not only was this a super easy recipe that took no time at all to get together, but I also had the world’s cutest helper in the kitchen.  Maxwell loved helping mama pour in the flour and sugar.  It was so sweet to see him looking up over the mixer to see what was going on in that silver bowl.  Now, this would have been a beautiful picture, did Mama take one? UGH! Nope! For sure next time I WILL be taking pictures of my little man helping me bake.


After they baked and sat for a minute, we were unable to resist these cute lemon bars, we had to try them right away before they were even cold, and they were delicious.  We decided to try them cold too, and popped them into the freezer to chill.  They were amazing! The lemon layer was so refreshing and silky, and the crust was slightly sweet.  The crust made the perfect partner for the tart lemon layer. These are the perfect summer day treat!

*My husband LOVED the lemon bars.  His only request was next time to double the lemon layer, because it tasted so darn good.  :)


Bake-Sale Lemon Bars-Taste of Home (June/July2013)

¾ cup butter softened

2/3 cup confectioners; sugar

1 ½ cups plus 3 Tbps, all purpose flour-divided

3 eggs lightly beaten

1 ½ cups sugar

¼ cup lemon juice

Additional confectioners’ sugar

  • Preheat the oven 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar until blended.  Gradually beat 1 ½ cups of flour.  Press onto the bottom of a greased 13×9-in. baking pan.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, lemon juice and remaining flour until frothy; pour over hot crust.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes longer or until topping is set and lightly browned.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  Dust with additional confectioners’ sugar.  Cut into bars.  Refrigerate leftovers.  (If you have any left!)

Crunchy Cake Batter

Everyone knows that one of the best parts about baking is being able to lick the leftover batter off of the beater.  As a little girl, I remember helping my Mom bake in the kitchen and loved that fact that my sister Allie and I each got a beater to lick.  Of course my Mom would always try to take off as much batter as possible, but she still left plenty on it for each of us to have a little treat.  As an adult, I know that I am not alone I still look forward to the leftover batter on the beater.  So when my sister told me about Funfetti Cake Batter Chex, I didn’t waste any time.


In addition to this treat being completely delicious, it is super simple to make.  It only contains 5 ingredients, and I am sure, like myself, you have most of these items in your pantry.  It takes no time at all to whip up a batch of Cake Batter Chex.  It is the perfect treat to take to a party, and believe me you will NOT have any leftovers to take home.  Honestly, when you eat this snack, you will not believe how much it tastes like you are eating cake batter settled in the nooks and crannies of the Chex cereal.  It’s a sweet and crunchy snack that will not disappoint!

Here is the super simple recipe according to the blog: Six Sisters’ Stuff  that I found on Pintrest.

Let your Funfetti Cake Batter Chex addiction begin!


Funfetti Cake Batter Chex


5 cups Chex cereal (I used Rice Chex, but Corn Chex would work great!)

10 oz (5 squares) vanilla flavored Almond Bark

1 1/2 cups Funfetti cake mix (any kind of cake mix would work)

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vegetable shortening



1. Melt Almond Bark according to the package directions, adding vegetable shortening to thin (I heard that you can make it without the shortening, but it worked great for me to use it).

2. Pour the cereal into a large bowl and drizzle the melted Almond Bark over the cereal. Mix gently with a large spoon or spatula.

3. Dump the cake mix and powdered sugar onto the cereal and mix gently with large spoon until all the cereal is evenly coated.

4. Enjoy!! It’s so good!



Sweet, Caramel, Gooey Puffcorn

Grandmas are some of the best bakers in the world.  They seem to know how to make everything, and no matter how hard you try, nothing you make tastes exactly the way grandma makes it.  My grandmothers are two of the best bakers known to mankind.  My Grandma Bernice makes one of my all time favorite snacks, caramel puffcorn. It is a delicious layer of caramel draped over puffcorn, which turns it into a sweet and gooey snack.   Carmel puffcorn is a treat she makes whenever the whole gang is at her house.  My husband loves it so much that she even shipped some to us last fall! J   As a child, I remember Grandma Bernice always having a huge white metal bowl sitting on her counter holding this delicious treat.  It is so addicting that every time you walk past this bowl, you have to snag a handful of it.  Grandma Bernice also has a massive batch of this sitting on the table at what she calls lunch, the “snack time” after dinner, before you leave for home.  A person will never leave her house hungry.


While in Iowa this summer I saw puffcorn in the store and I had to buy a bag to take home with me to Texas.  Believe it or not, in the 6 years I have been in Houston, I have NEVER seen a bag of puffcom in any store here.  If you know where I can buy it here, please share the wealth!

Caramel Puffcorn

1 package puffcorn (I used Old Dutch)

1 cup butter

1 ¼ cups brown sugar

2/3 cup light corn syrup

1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Combine butter, brown sugar, and light corn syrup in a 2 qt sauce pan, cook on medium heat until mixture has melted.  Once mixture has melted, add the baking soda.  The baking soda will cause the mixture to foam and rise up in your pan.

Pour puffcorn into large roaster pan.  Pour caramel mixture over the puffcorn and stir until mixed.

Place in oven at 250 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring at least every 10-15 minutes.

Remove from oven, pour on wax paper and break apart. Let cool and enjoy!

** I lined my roasting pan with parchment paper.  This made for a super easy clean up.

Berry Delicious

My mom and Grandma Mary love to garden. Whether it is flowers, veggies, or fruit, they both have green thumbs. We happened to arrive in Iowa at the perfect time…raspberry time! Mom and grandma’s raspberry bushes were bursting with sweet, red, plump, fresh raspberries. I absolutely love those berries, fresh off the vine, in jam on toast, over ice cream, and in desserts. raspberries on the vine


bowl of berries

While we were in Iowa a few years ago, my mom made a raspberry buckle using the raspberries she froze from her garden, and we all really enjoyed it. After seeing her huge crop of raspberries, I knew I had to make this recipe using her garden fresh berries.

pan of berries

Raspberry Buckle

• 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)

• 1 cup of granulated sugar

• 1 cup of flour (spooned and leveled)

• ½ teaspoon salt

• ½ teaspoon baking powder

• 2 ¾ cups of raspberries (2 containers ½ pint each)

• Confectioner’s sugar for dusting (optional)

• Whipped cream (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2 quart oval or square baking dish. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar, until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition to combine. In another bowl whisk together your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder). With mixer on gradually add the flour mixture until well incorporated.

Spread batter in pan. Scatter the raspberries on top. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown.


Let me tell you, this dessert is amazing! You have the sweetness of the cake and the tartness of the raspberries, it is incredibly delicious. Mom says her favorite way to enjoy it is right out of the oven with some whipped cream on top. I completely agree, however it is still very tasty eaten out of the pan the next morning!

 I would have to say that this Raspberry is off the charts and it is my #1 summer dessert. 

 What is your favorite summer dessert?

Ring the Bells

While on vacation in Iowa, we decided to head up north to the Twin Cities, to check out my sister’s new house. Her house is so perfect for her and it is super cute. One of my favorite parts is her screened inpeppers porch, where we spent most of our time, chatting, eating, and playing games. Allie has the perfect house for a grill out, and a mean game of bags.

After visiting the farmers market Saturday morning and naps that followed of course, we started to prepare the food for our grill out. Mom made an awesome marinade for the meat, Allie cut up the veggies we bought at the farmers market, and I got started on the slaw. This is not your ordinary cole slaw. It is a delicious, crunchy, and tangy bell pepper slaw. This was a wonderful side dish to the brats, steaks, and the ice cold beers we hadslaw

Bell Pepper Slaw

(Food Network Magazine)

• 3 Tablespoons sugar

• Kosher salt

• ½ cup apple cider vinegar

• 1 ½ teaspoons celery seeds                             pepper slaw

• 1 ½ teaspoons mustard seeds

• Freshly ground pepper

• 6 bell peppers ( I used red, orange, and green) cut into thin strips

• 2 stalks celery, chopped

• 4 scallions, chopped

• ½ head green cabbage thinly sliced and roughly chopped

• 3 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard

• ½ cup mayonnaise

Whisk the sugar and 2 teaspoons salt with the vinegar in a large bowl, until dissolved. Add celery seeds and mustard seeds, ½ teaspoon pepper, the bell peppers, celery, scallions, and cabbage. Toss to combine. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow flavors to develop.bell slaw

Add mustard and mayo to the slaw and toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve. The longer it sets in the refrigerator, the tastier it is!

The salad was a hit, not only is it refreshing and tasty, it is also very colorful and beautiful. This is definitely a recipe work trying for your next BBQ.

Garden Fresh Rhubarb

This year we decided to take a vacation to my home state of Iowa, to visit the family, relax, and hopefully enjoy the cooler weather. We went up to The Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) to visit my sister and went to an amazing farmers market. We ate locally grown sweet corn, veggies and fruit from my mom’s and Grandma Mary’s garden, caramel puff corn from Grandma Bernice and extra squeaky cheese curds from Wisconsin. After more than 3,000 miles, and at least a 34 hour drive (it is about 17 hours one way), I think I am all rested up.

rhubarb stalks

chopped rhubarb

One of the great parts of visiting Iowa,  is that I get to eat and make some of my favorite family recipes.  One of my favorite summer foods is tangy, tart, rhubarb.  Rhubarb is something my mom and Grandma Mary both grow in their gardens. Fresh rhubarb is always a staple in our desserts and jams in the summer. For one of our many family meals, I decided to make my Grandma Mary’s quick rhubarb dessert. This is by far one of the easiest recipes ever! My mom and Grandma Mary have been making this dessert every summer for as long as I can remember. My favorite way to eat this quick rhubarb dessert is warm with vanilla ice cream.



Quick Rhubarb Dessert

• 3 ½ – 4 cups of chopped rhubarb

• 1 cup of sugar

• 1 box of a 2 layer white cake mix –dry (make sure you get the no pudding added mix)

• 1/3 cup melted butter

• 3 oz box of dry strawberry Jello

• 1 cup of hot water


Layer all of the ingredients in order given, in an 11 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.


There you have it, a no muss, no fuss Quick Rhubarb Dessert. Enjoy!



Quest for the Perfect Brownie

I am on a mission to find the perfect brownie recipe. My husband is a brownie fanatic. He loves fudgy, extra chewy brownies,cocoa brownies and his favorite ones come from a local bakery. Here’s the thing, I want to make him the perfect homemade brownie. So at midnight last night, I started my quest. Before I start, I must admit my sad secret……I have never in my life made brownies from scratch. Crazy, I know, coming from a girl who loves to bake.

Having recently discovered Rose Levy Beranbaum, I decided to try out her Cocoa Brownie recipe. (I am an avid visitor of her blog and website.) I followed her recipe to the T, even whisking the batter by hand and not using my trusty KitchenAid mixer. The only thing omitted was the pecans, because I did not have any in the house and I was not about to head out and get some at midnight. cocoa brownies with carmelTo add my own little flare, I added some Carmel Bits to half of the pan of brownies.

These brownies turned out wonderfully. They were very fudgy, cakey and moist. The brownies were not overly sweet or rich. Were they the exact match to my husband’s perfect brownie? No, but he still ate his fair share. These Cocoa Brownies are wonderful and will definitely fill your chocolate craving. However, I am still on the mission in finding the perfect chewy brownie.

Cocoa Brownies

(Rose Levy Beranbaum, Rose’s Christmas Cookies)

1 ½ cups-coarsely chopped pecans

14 tablespoons-unsalted butter

½ cup + 2 teaspoons –unsweetened cocoa (preferably Dutch-processed)

1 cup + 3 tablespoons-sugar

3-large eggs

2 teaspoons- pure vanilla extract

½ cup- bleached all-purpose flour

Pinch of saltCocoa brownies with c bits

Equipment: 8 x 8 x2 inch baking pan, preferably metal (if using a glass pan, lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees F.), bottom lined with parchment or wax paper, sprayed with nonstick vegetable spray or butter.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

-Place pecans on a cookie sheet and toast them, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

-In a medium saucepan or in a microwave-proof bowl, melt the butter. Remove from the heat source and whisk in the cocoa. Whisk in the sugar, then the eggs and vanilla extract. Add the flour, salt, and nuts and stir into the mixture using a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon.

-Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

-Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. A wooden pick inserted in the center should come out with moist crumbs still clinging to it. Do not over bake.

-Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely. Use a small metal spatula to loosen the brownie from the sides of the pan and invert onto the back of a cookie sheet. Peel off the liner and reinvert the brownie onto a cutting surface. Use a serrated knife to cut 2 inch squares.

3 cocoa brownines

God Bless You Mrs. Garten

While enjoying our first week of summer vacation, we decided to venture out to the good ol’ public library. Of course I managed to make my way to the cooking section. Completely surrounded by cooking books, I could barely contain myself! :) Immediately I started looking for my favorite food goddess: Ina Garten. Her recipes are to die for! I would give my right arm to be invited to her house in the Hamptons for any meal! (Ok, maybe giving up my arm is a little much, but seriously have you seen her show?!?) I nestled myself in a comfy chair, and was completely hypnotized by her amazing food ideas and pictures. So many recipes to choose from…

Having made homemade strawberry jam with my Mama over spring break, I have been trying to find a unique way to bake with it. I still had a couple jars of it taking up space on the kitchen counter. homemade strawberry jamWhile flipping through the pages of Ina’s cookbook, and trying not to drool, one stood out….Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars. This is a very simple and delicious recipe. They turned out much better than I thought they would. Imagine a ribbon of sweet jam sandwiched between moist peanut butter cookies, topped off with crunchy chopped peanuts. If you love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, you will ADORE these bars! The only thing I will change for next time is to add a little more jam, as per my husband’s request.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

(Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home)pbjbars

Makes 24 bars

½ pound –unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan

1 ½ cups –sugar

1 teaspoon- pure vanilla extract

2-extra large eggs

2 cups- creamy peanut butter

3 cups- all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan

1 teaspoon-baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons –kosher saltpbjbars2

1 ½ cups jam

2/3 salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 X 13 X 2 inch baking pan.

-In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until well combined.

-In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.

-Spread two thirds of the dough in the prepared pan, using a knife topbjbar4 spread it evenly. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don’t worry if all the jam isn’t covered; the dough will spread when it bakes. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into small squares.