Category Archives: holiday

My Valentine post

Sweet and nutty honey muffins


I am not sappy (except when it comes to my kid). I am a no nonsense, logical, practical person (when it comes to everyone else). My own mind and heart, that’s another story for another day.  So the best I could do to come up with a Valentine recipe was something sweet with a sweet word in the title. Nothing with sprinkles, chocolate, pink or red hearts.   Nothing against any of that stuff, because I love it, and go crazy for it at Target.  But this is a brunch muffin, a “hey I really like you so why don’t you have a muffin and watch bad tv with me” treat.  Or a “hey you are a great friend, have a muffin that is a bit sweet but super awesome” muffin.  Try it, see what you think, and don’t save the sweet love stuff just for the holiday, because we all like to hear it all year round.


1 cup all purpose flour

½ tsp cinnamon

pinch of ground cloves and nutmeg

12 T room temp unsalted butter

2 T honey (I used organic, any type will do)

Zest of 2 oranges

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 ¼ cups chopped fine walnuts (or pecans)



3 T minced walnuts (I used my food processor)

½ tsp cinnamon

3 T honey

Juice of 2 oranges


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Line 12 muffin tins with muffin/cupcake liners


Sift flour, spices into a bowl

Beat butter and sugar in the mixer until fluffy, add honey and orange zest (use less if you don’t like a lot of citrus flavor)

Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each one

Fold in flour mixture, stir in chopped nuts and spoon into liners


Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean


Make topping by mixing minced walnuts and cinnamon.  Heat honey and orange juice on stove under low heat until combined, about five minutes


Let muffins cool for about 20 minutes, then using a fork poke a hole into each one, adding a drizzle of the honey orange mixture.  Sprinkle walnut mixture on top, serving immediately or at room temp, kept up to four days



sweet nutty muffins


Devil’s food cake and cocoa fudge icing

Apron’s optional for this cake, but it’s old school and delicious. It’s the kind you take to work to celebrate a birthday, or make for a party at a neighbor’s house. It will not only impress, it will be gone quickly.  Don’t let the amount of ingredients intimidate you, it’s an easy recipe and worth making homemade.*

Devil’s food cake

3 cups cake flour

3 T cocoa powder 

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda 

1 cup melted shortening

2 1/4 cups sugar 

1 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

6 oz milk (3/4 cup)

5 eggs lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 345 degrees

grease and line two 9 inch cake pans

Combine flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder/soda and shortening and beat in mixer for three minutes on low speed

Add half the milk and vanilla, mix on low for 5 minutes, stopping each minute to scrape down the sides

Add milk and eggs, mixing well for another 5 minutes on low

Pour into cake pans and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool to room temp before frosting


Cocoa fudge frosting 

4 cups sifted powdered sugar

1/2 cup sifted cocoa powder

1/8 tsp salt

2-3 T corn syrup

2 T melted butter

1/4 cup melted shortening

1/2 cup plus 1 T hot water (140 degrees)

1 tsp vanilla

Blend sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and corn syrup, beat until smooth (add more corn syrup if necessary)

Add melted shortening, melted butter, hot water and vanilla until mixed well and fluffy.  Increase mixing speed if necessary, add more water if too thick, more powdered sugar if too runny

Frost cake and enjoy

Notes-add a layer of whipped cream between cakes for added flavor (homemade just add a pint of heavy cream, a cup of powdered sugar and 2 tsp of vanilla extract, whipped until medium peak)

*if you don’t have time to make a homemade cake, use a cake mix! There is no shame in that game. Just make your own frosting, your guests/friends/family will thank you

I added crushed peppermint to the top for holiday flair.  Can add coconut, sprinkles, fruit, whatever sounds good. 

And with the leftover cake, I made little trifles.  Because I am cool like that 




Roasted pecan pie bars

After a holiday, we always seem to have leftover something.  This time it was two bags of pecans, some mashed potatoes, and rolls. So I ate two and baked with one, making roasted pecan pie bars. Always roast nuts when baking, it brings out the flavor, and really enhances anything you use them in.  These bars are quick to make, and will go fast.  Make them for an upcoming holiday function, or give them as a gift to a friend or neighbor.  Roasted pecan pie bars-because you can.


Roasted pecan pie bars


12 T unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) cold

1 1/2 cups flour

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 T cold water


2 1/2 cups chopped roasted pecans (350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, then cool and chop)

Stick of room temp unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup light corn syrup 

1/4 cup flour

Keep oven at 350 degrees after roasting pecans

Line a 9×9 square baking pan with foil or parchment, spray with cooking spray or butter

With a paddle attachment, add all ingredients for crust until it resembles small crumbs, then add 2 T cold water until dough comes together (should be fairly quickly)

Press into bottom of baking dish, bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool for ten minutes before filling


While crust is baking, mix butter, brown sugar, and salt until fluffy, 5-7 minutes.  Add flour and corn syrup.  Once mixed add pecans until just combined.  Spread into baked crust (will be thick, use a spatula to spread evenly) and bake for 35 minutes, or until bubbly and brown.  

Allow bars to cool and cut.

Can be kept at room temperature for up to four days. Wrap tightly with foil. 





From the can to the pie pan sweet potato pie

A follower requested an easy sweet potato pie recipe for the busy family. I took a couple of days to think over an easy recipe to come up with, consulted with my creative team (my co-workers, family) and I came up with this one bowl recipe. It’s quick, easy, great for a last minute holiday get together, or for the main Thanksgiving dessert, because you will be able to bake it (double it if you want) and forget about it. You can use your time to perfect those mashed potatoes, drink more wine, or just take a quick nap. 

My friend and co-worker Melanie came up with the name, so if you hate it, blame her 🙂 

Easy sweet potato pie

1 40 oz can of sweet potatoes, drained and rinsed

1 can of sweet condensed milk 

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice or a combo of 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg 

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp kosher salt

Unbaked pie crust (fresh homemade or frozen)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Add all ingredients to a big bowl and mash with a potato masher or puree with an immersion blender

whisk out any lumps and pour into the unbaked pie crust

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and cook for 30-40 minutes or a toothpick comes out clean

Let sit for 15 minutes before serving. Can serve immediately or wrap tightly, can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days. 

Garnish with ice cream or whipped cream


Dial up and sweet potato pie

I love the movie You Got Mail. I love, love it. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, sigh. It’s the cutest and the lines are hilarious. I would own a little bookstore, selling cakes and pies to take home with your books and cloth bags. This is my sweet potato pie, which I would put in a foil tin and sell by the slice/pie. Deep down I am a romantic, a lover of cute movies and short haircuts. Make this pie, smile at strangers, sharpen some pencils and welcome the changing seasons. 

This recipes makes enough filling for two pies, so keep one and share one. 

Sweet potato pie

3 medium sweet potatoes roasted and mashed (bake at 350 for 1.5 hours, peel while warm)

1 stick of unsalted butter at room temp

5 oz can evaporated milk

1 3/4 cup sugar

3 eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon 

2 unbaked pie shells

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix first four ingredients in a stand mixer or by hand until smooth

Add eggs until mixed, fold in vanilla and cinnamon

Bake pies for about 1 hour, to 1.25 hours or until middle is set

Cool and serve

Top with homemade ice cream or whipped cream

Can freeze filling for up to two months. Bring to room temp and bake

Can freeze baked pies for a month. 



Rustic red potato salad

I am usually home on the 4th of July. Mad visits her dad over the summer, so it’s usually just me. But this year I went to a few parties, and had to come up with some side dishes to bring. I have never made potato salad before, but I decided to change it up and not make the mayo based kind. This is a quick and easy side dish, great for summer parties or any night of the week with dinner. 


Rustic red potato salad (adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe)


8-10 small red potatoes sliced at least an inch thick (I purchased some fresh potatoes from the farmers market, if not available in your area a small bag of red potatoes works fine)

1/3 cup lemon juice

Zest of one lemon

1/2 cup coarsely chopped herbs (i used chives, italian parsley, and baby dill)

3 tablespoons olive oil

Steam potatoes in a steam basket until tender, about 10 minutes. Or cook until tender, but not soft in boiling, salted water

Put cooked potatoes in a medium bowl, toss with lemon juice and zest, season with salt and pepper. Cool for an hour covered in refrigerator 

Add herbs and oil to potato mixture, season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve at room temperature the same day or salad can be stored in fridge for up to 48 hours. 


Easy cranberry sauce

So it’s grilled cheese month! This makes me happy to try new and old ways to make grilled cheese. Online I saw one for grilled cheese with cranberry sauce and spinach. I always seem to have cranberries in the freezer (I put leftover fresh ones in the freezer to keep them longer) so I made up a small batch of cranberry sauce. Here is the quick simple recipe I use:

2-3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
Handful of dried cranberries if you have them
Zest and juice of one medium size orange
2-3 tablespoons sugar

Put cranberries in a medium size pot along with juice and sugar, medium high heat to start
As cranberries soften and burst, turn heat to low, stirring occasionally
Mash cranberries with wooden spoon and continue to simmer on low for 10-15 mins
Remove from heat, and transfer to a heat resistant bowl or plastic container
Let cool and use with dressing, as a side, on your delicious grilled cheese, heaped on top of ice cream, or whatever else sounds good.

*note: adjust sugar, adding more if you like your cranberry sauce less tart. Cook and mash longer if you like a less chunky consistency