Welcome to my site!

Welcome to my site!
I'm Cindy, and I love to cook! And, I love to eat... hence the size of my rear end! I come from a long line of cooks. My great great Grandmother was a cook in the original Harvey Houses. My grandmother Julia was an awesome cook, and my mom was incredible. I owe my skills to these great women. Especially my Mom who said this to me about making gravy... "Cindy Lynn, wallpaper paste is wallpaper paste & gravy is gravy. Never the two shall meet!" Shall we say my first experience at making gravy left a little bit to be desired! Thank the high heavens my cooking skills have improved since then! Enjoy!

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cake

Well, actually – it’s peanut butter and JAM, but that didn’t sound as fun.  For this I used my normal cake recipe, layered jam in between the layers, and made a creamy peanut butter frosting.  I have to say – this turned out better than I imagined it would.  The cake is super moist - layered with the sweet jam (of your choice) – and then covered in the creamy sweet peanut butter frosting…. It’s the best peanut butter and jam sandwich EVER!   I used three 8” cake pans to make a three-layer cake.  But, you could use a larger pan and make two-layers, if you prefer.


Ingredients:

Cake:

1 package yellow cake mix

1 package vanilla instant pudding

4 eggs

¾ cup vegetable oil

¾ cup water

Filling:

1 jar jam of your choice (I used huckleberry, because that’s what I had.  But, Seedless Red Raspberry is one of my favorites and what I would use the next time.  Strawberry would be delicious too.  Really, anything you like would work here.)

Frosting:

½ cup butter, softened

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 cups powdered sugar

3 Tbls. Milk, or as needed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°.  Prepare your cake pans with non-stick spray.

Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil and water in a bowl and mix until well blended.  I use a stand mixer.  Once combined, I beat for just under 2 minutes.  Divide the mix between the 3 cake pans.  Bake according to package directions for the pan size you use.

Test the cake for doneness.  Remove from oven.  Allow cake to cool before putting it together.

To make the frosting, place the butter and peanut butter into a medium bowl, and beat with an electric or stand mixer. Gradually mix in the sugar, and when it starts to get thick, incorporate milk one tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is mixed in and the frosting is thick and spreadable. Beat for at least 3 minutes for it to get good and fluffy.

Once the cake is cool and you’re ready to assemble, place a dollop of the frosting on your cake plate.  Place the first layer on the dollop.  Spread your jam on top of the cake.  I made the jam layer on the thicker side, because I knew some of it would soak into the cake.  Place the next layer of cake on top of the jam.  Spread jam on this layer, again on the thicker side.  Place the last layer of cake on top of the jam. 

Now, you’re ready to frost with the peanut butter frosting.  Enjoy!

Click here for printable recipe




Sunday, January 3, 2021

Ham & Cheese Pinwheels

These pinwheel appetizers are easy to make and a delicious treat for a cocktail party or any time, really.  The combination of the ham and melty cheese, wrapped in flakey puff pastry is fantastic.  I made these for our dinner and a movie get together several months ago with our dear friends and neighbors.  During the pandemic they are about the only people we socialized with.  We’ve staying in each other’s “bubble”, if you will.  

Note: I found this recipe on the Cooking on the Front Burner blog.  Deb has a really nice blog that is laid out in a very appealing way and it’s quite easy to navigate.  Check her out sometime.  https://www.cookingonthefrontburners.com/


Ingredients:

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed

6 slices ham, thinly sliced (deli style)

9 slices Havarti cheese, thinly sliced (deli style)

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon dried dill

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

3 tablespoons chives, chopped

Directions:

1. In a small bowl combine the mustard, dill and honey.

2. On a floured surface roll the puff pastry into a 12x12" square then brush the mustard mixture on top

3. Layer first the ham and then the cheese. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons chives over the top

4. Roll into a log going as tightly as you can and wrap in plastic wrap

5. Freeze for 15 minutes

6. Preheat your oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat

7. Slice the log into (12) 1" slices and place on sheet

8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown

9. Remove and sprinkle with the reserved chives.  Cool slightly on a rack then serve.


Click here for printable recipe.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Chicken Lasagna Soup

 This recipe is from the Pioneer Woman.  I saw her make it on her show one day and it looked wonderful.  I opted to add chicken to the soup for a heartier lunch. However, you could omit the chicken and substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth to make this vegetarian.  The soup is creamy, without being too heavy, and it's super yummyServe with a salad and warm crusty garlic bread and you’ve got a meal that will warm you on these cold winter days. 

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil

16 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms  

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves  

1 teaspoon kosher salt  

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning  

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour  

6 cups chicken broth  (or vegetable broth, if preferred)

1 cup heavy cream  

8 ounces no-boil lasagna noodles, broken into roughly 2-inch pieces **

4 cups (one 5-ounce container) baby spinach  

1 lb. chicken tenders, cut into bite sized pieces

Ricotta cheese, for serving  

Pesto sauce, for serving

** I used regular lasagna noodles and cooked them in boiling water until al dente.  Then, I cut them into 2” pieces and added to the soup and continued cooking a few extra minutes.

Directions:

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms, thyme and salt, then stir. Cook until the liquid is released and the mushrooms are browned, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the Italian seasoning and garlic, stir and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle with the flour, stirring until the flour has coated all the mushrooms. Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer; simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.

Add the heavy cream and chicken tenders; return to a simmer. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the spinach and cook just until the spinach wilts, about 1 minute.

Turn the heat off and ladle into bowls. Garnish with a few dollops of ricotta cheese and a few drizzles of pesto.


Click here for printable recipe.

 

Friday, May 15, 2020

Really Good Banana Bread


When it comes to baking, I am not nearly as confident in my kitchen skills as when cooking.  I know that baking is a sort of science and I’m afraid to stray very far from the recipe as written.  Therefore, when the baking bug strikes, I turn to the internet and cookbooks and follow the recipes VERY closely.

During this time of “stay home, stay safe” the baking bug has been strong.  We had some bananas that were well past their prime, so I decided I wanted to bake some banana bread.  Enter Google – and I found this great recipe here: https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/banana_bread/

It was pretty easy, the prep time didn’t take very long and the banana bread was spectacular.  Super delicious with strong banana flavor and I felt it was on the healthier side because the whole loaf had only ½ cup of sugar.  Try it – you’ll like it!

Ingredients:

2 to 3 very ripe bananas, peeled (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups mashed)
1/3 cup melted butter, unsalted or salted
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar (1/2 cup if you would like it less sweet, 1 cup if more sweet)
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

Directions:

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C), and butter a 4x8-inch loaf pan.

2 In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until completely smooth. Stir the melted butter into the mashed bananas.

3 Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla extract. Mix in the flour.

4 Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour at 350°F (175°C), or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

5 Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for a few minutes. Then remove the banana bread from the pan and let cool completely before serving. Slice and serve. (A bread knife helps to make slices that aren't crumbly.)


Friday, April 3, 2020

Dark and White Chocolate Mini Scones


 I found this recipe on a super fun blog here: https://sugarspunrun.com/the-best-scone-recipe/

I’m posting the recipe exactly as the original, but I made a couple of alterations.  First, I halved the recipe because we didn’t need 32 mini scones.  I mean, they’re delicious – and it’s not like we COULDN’T eat that many scones – but let’s just say we didn’t NEED to eat that many.  Also, I made these during the “shelter in place” order so I had to make a couple off substitutions to avoid having to go to the store again.  I’ll list the substitutions after the ingredients.  Who knew you could substitute milk & butter for heavy cream??  I can’t say enough good things about these scones.  They are delectable, and really fairly easy to make!

Ingredients:

Scones:
4 cups all-purpose flour (465g)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (100g)
4 teaspoon baking powder (18g)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup very cold unsalted butter frozen is better (226g)
1 cup heavy cream (237ml)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Glaze:
1-1.5 cups powdered sugar (110g+)
2 Tablespoon milk (30ml)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract optional

Substitutions:
To reiterate, I halved the recipe above, which yielded 16 mini scones. 

I didn’t have cream, so I found that you can use milk and butter as a replacement.  I used 2 tablespoons of butter and 6 tablespoons of milk.  Melt the butter in the microwave. Whisk in the milk and warm in the microwave again if necessary to melt any little clumps of butter.

I didn’t have chocolate chips, but did have Baker’s Chocolate Bars – in both semi-sweet and white chocolate.  I used 2 ounces of each and chopped it with a knife.  Turned out fantastic!  I rather liked the chunks of chocolate opposed to the chocolate chips.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 F (190C) and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. (I used my stand mixer)

Thoroughly cut in butter (I prefer to freeze the butter, grate it using a box grater, and then cut it in that way. This method yields the flakiest scones, but is not mandatory -- you can use cold butter cut in with a pastry cutter).  Those are the notes on the original recipe.  I used the grated butter method – and mixed it in with my stand mixer.

Measure out heavy cream in measuring cup and add vanilla extract. Stir gently.

Carefully stir heavy cream/vanilla mixture into flour mixture. You do not want to over-mix, but due to the amount of dry ingredients it may be tricky to well incorporate the liquid and the dry mixes. You may briefly use a KitchenAid or electric mixer on a low setting to help coax the dough to cling together.

Once dough is beginning to cling together, add chocolate chips, stir briefly, and then transfer to a very lightly floured surface.  Lightly knead the dough and chocolate chips together until you are able to form a ball.

Break the dough into 4 even pieces and round each one out into a disk about 5" wide.

Cut each into 8 wedges and transfer to cookie sheet.


Bake on 375F (190C) for 14-16 minutes.

While the scones cool, prepare your glaze by whisking together milk, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. Start with 1 cup powdered sugar, and if it still seems too runny you may increase the sugar amount.  Once scones are cooled, dip, drizzle or spoon the glaze lightly over the top of each scone. Allow it to sit and harden before serving.


Sunday, July 28, 2019

Lemon Bread Pudding with Blueberries



Rae Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, made Lemon Bread Pudding on her show.  It looked and sounded wonderful.  But, I had to wonder – could you add blueberries to it?  The answer is YES – yes, you can!  And, it turned out fantastically.  The blueberries were a wonderful addition.  And, of course I’m a sucker for any dessert made with lemons. (If you don't like blueberries, you can leave them out.) This bread pudding is sweet, light and refreshing.  I made this for 4th of July to rave reviews.  Serve with fresh whipped cream and you’ve got an easy, delicious dessert for any time!

Ingredients:

Zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 lemons
4 eggs
2 cups half & half
1 cup sugar
Loaf of Brioche, French bread or Challah
Pint of fresh blueberries, or slightly more if desired

Directions:

Cut the bread into cubes and spread onto a sheet pan to dry out a bit.

Zest the lemons into a mixing bowl.   Juice the lemons and add to the zest.  Add the eggs and half & half; whisk all together.  Add the sugar and mix together.

Butter or spray the baking dish.  Add the cubed bread.  Sprinkle the blueberries in with the bread ensuring they are evenly distributed throughout.  Pour the custard over the bread.  Allow to sit for a while to let the bread soak up the custard.

Preheat oven to 325°.  Bake for 50 minutes.

Serve with fresh whipped cream and enjoy!


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Poblano Chicken Chili


This is another dish inspired by a Weight Watchers recipe. The spices and chilies are so warming.  This is a “stick to your ribs” chili that is so scrumptious, especially with the various toppings.  You can use different types of beans, if you prefer.  You could also substitute beef or turkey for the chicken.  This is a fairly quick meal to make.  Serve with a side salad and some crusty bread and your taste buds will be very happy!

Ingredients:

3 Poblano Chilies, seeded & chopped
8 green onions
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, ground (See Note Below)
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 15 oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
4 Tlbs Chili Powder
2 Tlbs Cumin
¼ cup water
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Garnish: Green Onions, Cheddar Cheese, Sour Cream or Non-fat Yogurt, Lime

Directions:

Heat your cooking pot and drizzle some olive oil into it.  Add the chilies, green onions and garlic.  Saute until the peppers are charred; about 5 minutes.

Add the ground chicken breast and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through.

Stir in the Chili Powder, Cumin, Salt & Pepper.  Combine well.  Add the tomatoes, beans and water; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 1 hour.

Serve with garnishes of your choice.

Note:  My food processor has a graduated tiered blade, rather than just the blade at the bottom.  So, rather than purchasing already ground chicken, I’ve been grinding my own using the food processor.  I cut two breasts into chunks and then place in the freezer for about 1 hour.  Having them be partially frozen makes them easier to grind.  I find that doing this myself is more economical – and I get only the breast and not a lot of added fat.  It’s a win-win!  You could also substitute turkey for the chicken, if you prefer.


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Chocolate Cherry Martini


I saw Trisha Yearwood make this cocktail on her FoodNetwork show.  It looked and sounded wonderful.  And, guess what… it IS wonderful.  Definitely a sweeter drink, but very tasty and enjoyable.  Hubby and I each had one on Valentine’s Day.  Yum!  (this recipe makes 3 cocktails)

Ingredients:

Cherry Vodka – 3 oz
Chocolate Liquor – 3 oz
Cherry Juice – 3 oz
Juice of ½ a Lemon

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake well.  Serve with Cherry Garnish.

Note: I’ve also substituted Cherry Whipped Vodka for plain cherry vodka – and I’ve swapped out 1 oz of Chocolate Whipped Vodka for 1 oz of the chocolate liquor.  Equally delicious!!


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Mini Berry Lemon Cheesecake Tarts


I found this recipe from the Weight Watchers site.  It is SO good.  You’ll have no idea that these are “dietetic”.  At only 1 smart point each, you can treat yourself with zero guilt.  When I made these for my husband and myself, I only baked and filled 8 shells at a time, 4 for each of us.  I kept the filling in the plastic bag and was able to have these over several evenings.  What a delightful indulgence!

Ingredients:

Phyllo shells, mini – thawed, if frozen (30 of them)
8 oz. light cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup Greek plain yogurt – fat free
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Assorted berries for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bake phyllo shells on a baking sheet for about 5 minutes, until they’re lightly toasted.  Allow to cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together softened cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla.  Make sure the mixture is completely smooth.  Spoon this mixture into a plastic zip-lock bag.  Snip off a corner and evenly pipe the mixture into the phyllo shells.  (Or you can fill using a spoon)

Garnish each filled shell with a berry.  Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.  If you leave them filled for too long before serving, the shells will get soggy.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Spicy Vegetarian Chili

I found this recipe on the Weight Watchers site.  I’ve adjusted it slightly, but haven’t affected the point value.  (If you’re interested, this serves 6.  One serving is approximately 1.5 cups, for only 1 Smart Point!)  This is super delicious.  We do love our beef and chicken - but I don't miss the meat in this fantastically flavorful chili.

Ingredients:

29 oz canned diced tomatoes, fire-roasted with garlic
3 Tbsp canned tomato paste
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chili powder, regular-variety
1⁄2 tsp chili powder, chipotle-variety
1 tsp ground cumin
2 large uncooked zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch dice (about 4 cups)
2 cup(s)frozen corn kernels
15 oz canned black beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium poblano chile, seeded and diced (about 1 3/4 cups)
3⁄4 cup(s) cilantro, fresh, chopped

1⁄2 cup water, or up to 1 cup if needed
3⁄4 tsp table salt, or to taste

Garnish: Green Onions, Cheddar Cheese, Sour Cream or Non-Fat Yogurt

Instructions:

In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, combine tomatoes, tomato paste, oil, both types of chili powder and cumin. Add zucchini, corn, both types of beans and poblanos; stir to mix well.

Cover and cook on LOW setting until vegetables are tender, about 6 hours.

Stir in cilantro and enough water to desired consistency; season with salt. Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving.

Garnish and serve!

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