Posted in and sauces, appetizers/snacks, Food, Toppings

Cowboy Candy

Cowboy Candy serves as a delicious condiment to slather over crackers with cream cheese, spoon over burgers or spicy sausage links, or to top a crispy baked flatbread crust. The sweet and spicy pickled combination makes this a winner every time! Watch out… It’s addictive!

Cowboy Candy

3 pounds jalapeño peppers 

6 cups sugar

2 cups apple cider vinegar 

1 Tbs garlic powder

1 tsp celery seed

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Slice jalapeños into rounds. (We use the slicing blade on our food processor.)

Combine the remaining ingredients in a pot on the stove. Bring to a hard boil over high heat. Reduce heat and keep at a low boil for five minutes.

Add jalapeños and heat through for 3-5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, ladle jalapeños into clean jars. Then top with the spicy juice to fill jars within a 1/2” from the rim.

Wipe rims. Twist on lids and store in the fridge for up to one month.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, cookies, Food

Ranger Cookies

This is a great alternative to the Cowboy Cookie recipe that I’ve made for years. The addition of coconut adds moisture and a unique flavor to the batter.

Ranger Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla or vanilla paste
2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup old fashioned oats
2 cup Rice Krispies cereal
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla; continue to mix until eggs are fully incorporated.
In a bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the mixer and blend until smooth.
Fold in oats, rice cereal, coconut, and chocolate chips. Use a round ice cream scoop to drop round mounds balls on a cookie sheet. Flatten each ball with clean, damp fingers. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
Cool slightly and move to cookie rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Cake, Desserts, Food

Apple Cider Donut Cake

Several weeks ago, a local orchard hosted a day of free apple-picking. Our family took a leisurely ride out to the farm and picked oodles of gorgeous red apples in the late summer sunshine. After it was all said and done, we had picked nearly seventy pounds of apples. Our canvas bags were overflowing as we loaded them into the car and headed to the farmhouse for a hearty lunch. As we waited for our table, I thought about all of the delicious treats I could make with our lot. I would make applesauce in the pressure cooker, several spicy applesauce quick breads, a special Bundt cake that holds an array of wonderful fall flavors, peanut butter and apple slice sandwiches, and lots of other apple flavored items.

This cake is one of our family favorites. I often bring it along to various outdoor parties hosted during the autumn months. It’s a great Thanksgiving dessert. Served up with a piping hot cup of tea or coffee, this one is a winner!

Apple Cider Donut Cake

1 box yellow cake mix

¾ cup apple cider

½ cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs, slightly beaten

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup coarsely shredded peeled tart apples (2 medium)

Cinnamon Sugar Topping

3 tablespoons butter, melted

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350°F. Generously spray a Bundt cake pan with cooking spray.

In large bowl, beat together the first 6 ingredients. Stir in apples. Pour into prepared cake pan.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven. Let stand 20 minutes; loosen Cake and remove from pan to cooling rack or large, round cake platter.

Brush top and sides of cake with 3 tablespoons melted butter. In small bowl, mix sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon until blended. Carefully and generously distribute sugar and cinnamon mixture over the top and sides of the cake. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

This recipe is adapted from a recipe found here:

A beautiful day for a drive…Beautiful red delicious apples…

Posted in Baked goods, Chocolate, Desserts, Food

Westhaven Date Cake

As I was rummaging through my hand written recipes this morning, an odd shaped piece of paper brought back memories of Aunt Nance. She was Jim’s Aunt, and a very special person. She would often bake this cake and bring it along to family gatherings. The chopped dates in the recipe are undetectable after baking but they are essential as they add great flavor and moisture to the cake.
Years ago, I asked Aunt Nance to share the recipe with me and this is the piece of paper she slipped in my hand as I was leaving the gathering.
When I finally got around to baking the cake, I noticed that mine wasn’t as dark and chocolatey as hers was. After investigating further, I realized that she had forgotten to include 2 tablespoons of cocoa in the recipe. The cake was still quite delicious so I make it both ways and it’s always a crowd pleaser.

Westhaven Date Cake

1 (8 oz.) package dates, chopped
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
chocolate chips
powdered sugar

Over chopped dates, pour 1 cup boiling water; let cool. Add baking soda and set aside. Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Pour date mixture into dry ingredients, mix well. Pour into a greased and floured tube pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, and cool cake before serving.


Posted in Baked goods, breakfast, Brunch, eggs, Food, Kids in the Kitchen, Main Dish

Scrambled Egg Squares (Strawberry Shortcake Eggs)

This is one of the first recipes M&K were able to make on their own. About 12 years ago, during a Scholastic Book Fair, M spied a Strawberry Shortcake Berry Yummy Cook Book named for her favorite cartoon character called Strawberry Shortcake. She fell in love with the book on the spot. We brought it home and she went to work trying to find the perfect first recipe to make for Saturday breakfast.


Early Saturday morning, M&K put on their aprons and began assembling the egg dish. They did a fantastic job measuring and pouring ingredients. They were delighted when we pulled the completed dish from the oven.
The original recipe was called Huckleberry Pie’s Hash Brown Bake (so cute). At the time, the recipe included hash brown potatoes but we weren’t fond of the soggy potatoes in the dish so we tweaked it a bit. We gave our adapted dish a new name; Strawberry Shortcake Eggs.
(Note: I have renamed the dish to Scrambled Egg Squares for the blog just because I didn’t want to confuse readers; I didn’t want anyone to think that strawberry shortcake was part of the recipe! 🙂

The best part about making a pan of these eggs is that they are great for feeding a crowd or a big family quickly. Just pour the beaten eggs into the pan with a few other ingredients and in 20 minutes, you’ve got lots of eggs. I often wrap the cooked squares individually in plastic wrap and freeze them. Later, I use them to make breakfast sandwiches by combining an egg square with an English muffin, a sausage patty (optional), and a slice of cheese.

Scrambled Egg Squares ( Strawberry Shortcake Eggs)

8 eggs
3/4 cup milk or half & half
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons Ready to Serve Real Bacon Bits, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13×9″ baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs with milk or half&half. Stir in shredded cheese, and bacon pieces. Pour into baking pan and bake for 17-20 minutes or until set, puffy, and lightly browned. Cool slightly before cutting into squares.


Posted in Baked goods, breakfast, Brunch, Food

Mom’s Hearty Biscuits and Gravy

When we travel, I look for hotels that have an extensive continental breakfast included in the stay price. I’m seeking fresh fruit, whole grains, lean protein…for my active crew. At a recent stay, as we made our way across the lobby for an early morning breakfast, I had to cringe when I heard my son say…”Awesome, they have biscuits and gravy!” Of all things…biscuits and gravy?
So, this past weekend, in the chiily,early morning hours, while most were fast asleep, my kids woke with the birds and headed off to the pool to get in their required morning yards. I felt like I wanted to make something special for their return home on this holiday weekend. The first thing that came to mind was biscuits and gravy. (Along with sunrise smoothies, fresh baked Irish scones, and cheese omelets.)
My mother-in-law gave me this recipe years ago. She had taken a mini-cruise that was meant to showcase the beautiful fall colors along the New England shore. The ship’s cook had shared this recipe with her. I still remember the hand written page that she shared with me over 15 years ago as I transferred the ingredients into a small notebook that I once carried around with me. I’ve only made this recipe a handful of times, but every time I make it, my son is one happy camper!
Mom’s Hearty Biscuits and Gravy

First prepare the biscuits and get them in the oven…

Beautiful Buttermilk Biscuits

1/2 cup cold margarine or butter
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Cut margarine into the flour mixture until it resembles fine crumbs. Stir in buttermilk; stir. Dough will be soft and sticky. Turn dough onto a floured surface and kneed lightly about 10-12 times (adding a bit of flour if needed) until dough is not longer sticky. Roll or pat dough to about 1/4″ thick. Use a 2 1/2″ round biscuit cutter to cut the dough. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet; about one inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 12 biscuits.

Mom’s Hearty Gravy

1 roll of pork sausage ( I always use Jimmy Dean’s Premium Pork Regular Sausage)
1/4 cup flour
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Brown sausage in a large skillet, crumble and cook over medium heat until no longer pink. Stir in flour and cook, while stirring, to completely incorporate the flour. Slowly add milk to the sausage mixture. Cook gravy 5-7 minutes more or until thick and bubbly. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over those beautiful buttermilk biscuits!