Tag Archives: recipe

Yum, Yum Cake a.k.a. Tres Leches Cake



This weekend I am at a friend’s home, affectionately called “The Farm,” in western Minnesota. Once a year six to eight women leave their homes, families, and good sense behind to come together to giggle, eat (copious amounts of food), play games, and relax in the light-filled hearthroom overlooking the amazing snow-covered lake. It is bliss.

Tres Leches Cake to ShareThis year my contributions to the 48-hour feast were Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip Scones and Tres Leches Cake. These are two of my most used recipes. They are always a big hit. And both are way easier to make than they look (double bonus!). I thought publishing the easier of the two recipes would be a good idea and maybe get this group of ladies to read my blog! This is a yummy dessert that is easy to throw together but by no means a gourmet recipe.

For the cake, I use a mix if I have it and make it from scratch when I don’t. White. Yellow. Purple. Whatever vanilla flavored cake you have will be just fine. WARNING: This is not a cake to make unless you have several people to help eat it. Otherwise you will need drawstring pants for a few days!

20130223_144516Easy Tres Leches Cake

1 vanilla flavored cake baked according to directions in a 9 x 13 pan (one with a lid is best)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 (or so) cup milk (whatever you have in the fridge)
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
whipped cream (homemade or from a tub or can)
1 1/2 cup coconut (toasted)

Bake and cool cake. Toast coconut in a pan on medium heat, stirring frequently (it burns easily). Cool coconut and store in sealed container.

Using a fork, poke holes all over cooled cake. Pour condensed milk into a bowl. Add heavy cream to empty can and add other milk until the can is full. Add to bowl, add coconut extract, and whisk until well mixed. Carefully pour milk mixture over cake using the back of a spoon to push milk into all the holes. Refrigerate cake (or set it on the back porch if you live in MN).

To serve, place a piece of cake on a plate, top with whipped cream and sprinkle with coconut. Yum, Yum.


Pistachio Cardamom Cookies


These are some of the best cookies I’ve ever had. They will be made in mass quantities for Christmas. But I have to admit that it is not my recipe. I found it on Baked by Joanna. Since I didn’t have time to cook much this week and definitely didn’t have time for photos, I thought it was time to share one of my favorites from another blog. They are delightfully light, divine shortbread-like cookies. Try them. You’ll fall in love.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange zest
1 1/2 cups pistachios (or almonds)

Coarsely chop 3/4 cup of the pistachios and bake in the oven for approximately 5 minutes until the nuts are fragrant. Remove the pistachios from the oven and transfer to a bowl to cool.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cardamom together. Set aside.

Combine the butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy, approximately 2 minutes on medium speed. Add the sugar, vanilla and orange zest and beat for an additional minute. Reduce the speed to low and begin adding the flour mixture until just combined. Remove the bowl and fold in the cooled pistachios.

Using plastic wrap, form your cookie dough into an 8-inch log. Refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours, overnight is best.

When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Finely chop the remaining 3/4 cup of pistachios. Unwrap the cookie dough and roll in the chopped pistachios making sure to coat the entire log. Using a knife, slice the cookies into approximately 1/4″ thick rounds. Place the sliced cookies on a parchment covered baking sheet about half an inch apart.

Bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes, until the edges are slightly golden brown. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the cookies rest on the sheet for a minute or two. Then, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.

I dip the cookies in white chocolate for added yumminess. Melt 1 cup white chocolate chips (I microwave them in a small bowl in 15 minute intervals, stirring well until melted. Or use a double boiler.) Dip one edge of the cookie into the chocolate until 1/3 to 1/2 of the cookie is covered. Place on waxed paper until chocolate hardens. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen

Fish Tacos


Don’t be intimidated by this recipe. It may have several ingredients, but you basically just throw them altogether in a bowl, throw a couple of pieces of fish in a pan, and you’re done. It can all be put together in half an hour and the results will make you glad you went for fresh. Even my non-fish eaters like these. Bonus: Nutritionally sound and low calories.

Caramelized Onions and Green Peppers
1 green or red pepper, julienne
1 small yellow onion, sliced thin
salt and pepper
spray oil

Spray a non-stick skillet with oil. Sprinkle veggies with salt. Cook peppers and onions on medium heat until caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan and use hot skillet for fish. While veggies are cooking, make sauces.

Chimichurri Sauce
1 ½  cup fresh Italian parsley
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup vinegar
¼ cup cilantro (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. crushed red pepper
½ tsp. cumin
½ sea salt
¼ lime, juice only

Process all ingredients in a blend/food processor until finely chopped.

Avocado Sauce
½ avocado mashed with a fork
¼ cup sour cream
¼ light mayonnaise
¼ cup buttermilk
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ lemon, juice only
¼ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. salt
1 green onion, sliced fine
3-4 shakes of green Tabasco
¼ cup cilantro, minced (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

1 ½  cup green cabbage chopped fine
1 ½ cup red cabbage chopped fine
1 TBS. sugar
1 TBS. cider vinegar
¼ to ½ cup Avocado Sauce

Combine cabbage in bowl. Sprinkle with vinegar and sugar. Toss with Avocado Sauce. (You can speed this up by buying a bag of slaw from the market.)

1 lb. Tilapia fillets
Salt and Pepper
Spray oil

Heat non-stick skillet on medium heat. Salt and pepper each fillet. When skillet is hot, spray with oil. Cook fillets about 3 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Fish should flake easily and be moist. Remove from heat. Using a fork, gently cut fillets into large chunks.

Sliced avocado, sliced tomatoes, lemon or lime wedges, cilantro.

Fill each tortilla with 1/8 of fish. Top with about 1/3 cup slaw, sauces, and garnishes. Two tacos with slaw and 1 TBS of each sauce have about 400 calories. Serves 4 people, 2 tacos each.

Chocolate Bottom Macaroons

This is the recipe most requested from friends. The macaroon recipe is from The Barefoot Contessa. The chocolate addition comes from being married to a chocoholic for 28 years! Enjoy.
1 (14 oz.) bag flaked coconut
1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla (I use clear vanilla)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large egg whites
4 to 6 oz. Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips
Pre-heat oven to 325. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (this is an important step as they stick to the pan otherwise and will tear).Mix coconut, vanilla, and condensed milk in a bowl. In another bowl whip egg whites and salt to stiff peaks. Fold egg whites into coconut mixture until well mixed. Using a large melon baller, scoop dough into equal mounds on baking sheet. Cookies don’t change shape or size, so you can put them fairly close together.Bake for 25 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.Line a cookie sheet or tray with waxed paper. In a small bowl, microwave chocolate chips for 30 seconds. Stir. Heat again at 15 second intervals until melted and smooth (be careful not to over cook). Dip the bottoms of the cookies into chocolate and put on wax paper. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or until chocolate is set.

Store in an airtight container.

Grandma Dunn’s Chicken & Dumplins


One of the happy places I go in my mind when I’m feeling sad or overwhelmed is my Grandma Dunn’s kitchen. When I was little we lived just down the holler from her and I was in her kitchen, in her way, daily. She was always in the kitchen and always had something cooking…a pot of beans, a pan of cornbread, a pineapple upside down cake, a kettle of chicken and dumplins. And there were always sides. Lots and lots of sides…fresh tomato slices, crocks of apple butter, fresh green beans, fried potatoes, cole slaw.

Grandma lived on a farm that had been self-sufficient for years. All she needed as an occasional visit from the Watkins man. There was a time every year when we killed her chickens and cleaned them in her kitchen. I hated plucking the chickens. But I did it without too much whining because I knew we would take one of those big fat hens and boil it up for dumplins. I still remember the spewy sound of her pressure cooker ticking away on the stove. The sound of love.

When I was old enough, she would let me help her with the dumplin’ making. We would roll the dough out very thin and cut it into strips.

Then we would drop the dumplins in the broth and let them simmer while it thickened. I don’t remember sitting down to eat them. But I have vivid memories of making them.

All these years later I’m still making Grandma’s dumplins. The recipe has changed a little over the years. But they are still basically her recipe.


1 whole chicken, cut up (don’t use all breast, dark meat makes better broth)
12 cups water
1 tsp sage
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp salt
3 carrots cleaned and cut into one inch chunks
1 small onion

Put all ingredients into a large pot and bring to a boil. Skim foam off the top. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for an hour or two. Strain broth. Remove chicken to cool. Set aside one cup of broth to cool. Return remaining broth to pan. Add water if necessary to make 10 cups of broth. Pull chicken from bones and shred or chop into bite-size pieces. Set aside. To broth, add

1 packet of Swanson’s Flavor Boost (Chicken flavor).

Turn down heat to a very low simmer. Make dumplins.

1 cup broth from pot
2 eggs
2.5 cups of self-rising flour (extra for board)

When broth is cool, add eggs and mix thoroughly. Stir in flour. It will be sticky but should hold together. Turn out onto a floured surface. I use my trusty Tupperware rolling mat. Knead a few times, adding in flour to make a soft disk. Roll dough out to a 24 by 24 inch square (I use the whole area with measuring marks on the mat). With a knife or pizza cutter cut into two-inch strips. Then cut strips into one inch rectangles. I use a pastry scraper to cut them and scoop them into the broth a few at a time. Stir gently as you drop them into the broth. Stir half of the chicken back into the pot (save the rest for another recipe). Simmer for 10 minutes. Serves 8.

Ham & Cheese Pretzel Bites


These are so yummy! They take a while to make, however, so don’t be thinking you will just whip up a batch while watching Dancing with the Stars. But they are sooooo worth it. I promise. And with a little here, a little there, you can make them in the afternoon and enjoy the little yummies with your family or girlfriends at night. I served mine with homemade tomato soup and it was an amazing combo. I always double the recipe, but I have seven people in my house. ❤

1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast (or instant yeast)
2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees F)
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour
3/4 cup finely chopped ham
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1-2 Tablespoons coarse salt

Combine the yeast, 1 tsp brown sugar, and warm water in a large bowl. Set aside until foamy, 5-8 minutes. In another bowl, stir together the remaining 2 Tbsp brown sugar and warm milk until dissolved.

Add 2 1/2 cups flour, salt, and milk mixture to the yeast. Stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Add the remaining flour as needed. (Or add all the ingredients to a stand mixer and mix with paddle attachment until well combined. Then switch to hook and knead for about a minute, adding flour as needed until dough pulls away from the sides). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times, forming a smooth ball.

Brush the inside of a large clean bowl with oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap (I put mine in my unusually large Tupperware bowl and seal the lid). Allow to rise in a warm, draft free area until dough has doubled in size and bubbles appear on the surface (an hour or two).

Mix ham and cheddar together until well combined. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust your hands and rolling-pin with flour. Roll one of the four sections into a 12×4-inch rectangle. With the long side facing you, gently press 1/4 of the ham and cheese into the bottom third of the dough, and roll as tightly as possible, starting with the end that has the filling. Cut into 12 1-inch pieces and transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining 3 portions of the dough.

Let rest, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 400 F.

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the baking soda and reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Boil pretzels in batches of 8 to 10, cooking about 20 seconds each, turning once. They should be slightly puffed. Use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer them back to the baking sheets.

Bake until puffed and golden-brown, about 15 minutes.

Brush warm pretzel bites with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 8 if you only eat 6. Serves 4 at my house.

Meatloaf Cupcakes


So I wasn’t sure about putting recipes on my blog, but then I had someone tell me that I really shine in the kitchen. Then it clicked. Cooking is one of the ways I show love to friends, family, and church. It is how I let my light shine!

I have been getting requests for this recipe. I didn’t take many photos, but at least you can see how it ended up. I saw a photo of meatloaf cupcakes on Pinterest and thought it was a great idea for getting meatloaf on the table much faster. I made extra side potatoes for my potato lovers. But next time I think I’ll pipe on more potatoes, sprinkle with extra Parmesan and pop them back in the oven to let that melt. These were very good. We served with broccoli and fresh bread.


2 lbs. ground chuck or ground beef
1 can tomato paste
1 onion, chopped fine
1 pkg. ranch dressing/dip mix
2 large, dense slices of bread (or 3 pieces sandwich bread)
1/2 c. milk (I used 2%)
1 tsp. chopped garlic
2 eggs
salt and pepper

Mashed Potato Frosting
5 potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 tbs. salted butter
1  c. whipping cream
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons salt, sea or kosher
1 tablespoon black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Either tear or process bread into small pieces. Put into bowl with milk. Push bread  into milk and let soak for five minutes. Mix all of the ingredients in large bowl, just until mixed. Over mixing makes for tough meatloaf. Spray muffin pan with spray oil. Fill pans with meat, rounding tops like a dome. There should be enough for 12 muffins. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let set. Use knife to loosen.

While meat is baking, boil potatoes in a large pot until soft, approximately 20 minutes. Drain. Add milk and butter to pot and heat until butter is melted. Add potatoes, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper to pot. Mash until smooth. Put potatoes into a pastry bag or freezer bag with tip cut off.

Carefully remove cupcakes from pan. Pipe potatoes onto meatloaf cupcakes. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.