Posted by: Laurie | December 15, 2012

Apple Cake (No Sugar Added and Regular Versions)



This is adapted from a recipe my mother-in-law gave me. The original is delicious, but I think it’s even better with the minor changes I made.

No Sugar Added Apple Cake:

1 Cup of natural, no sugar added applesauce
1-1/2 Cups of Splenda (or other 1:1 sugar substitute)
2 eggs

3 Cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt

1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon
1 heaping teaspoon of baking soda

1 Tablespoon of vanilla

3 Cups of apples, peeled and diced small
1 jar of cherries (I’m going to try it with fresh cherries next time!)

Optional additions:
1 Cup of pecans (I rarely add this, although I love pecans; many people I bake for don’t)
2 handfuls of raisins (I usually add this)

Combine first three ingredients until well mixed. Add in dry ingredients slowly. Add vanilla. Add apples, cherries, and optional ingredients. Pour into greased loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

*I use my stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
*My oven is a convection oven, and cooks these in about 30-35 minutes.
*I can usually get two 8″ x 3-7/8″ loaf pans out of one batch. It rises well: to the top of the loaf pan but not over.

Apple Cake:

1 Cup of natural, no sugar added applesauce
1-1/2 Cups of sugar
2 eggs

3 Cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt

1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 Tablespoon of vanilla

3 Cups of apples, peeled and diced small
1 jar of cherries (I’m going to try it with fresh cherries next time!)

Optional additions:
1 Cup of pecans (I rarely add this, although I love pecans; many people I bake for don’t)
2 handfuls of raisins (I usually add this)

Combine first three ingredients until well mixed. Add in dry ingredients slowly. Add vanilla. Add apples, cherries, and optional ingredients. Pour into greased loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

*I use my stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
*My oven is a convection oven, and cooks these in about 30-35 minutes.
*I can usually get three 8″ x 3-7/8″ loaf pans out of one batch. It rises well: to the top of the loaf pan but not over.


Posted by: Laurie | February 23, 2012

Crab Cakes

Hello neglected blog. Sorry. Life, etc.

So I made crab cakes last night from Paula Deen’s recipe. They were really good! I would make some modifications, of course. I followed the recipe to the letter (well, almost) and they were delicious. But WET. As in, even AFTER I had pressed the water out of the crab meat, I had to press the liquid out of the crab cake mixture.

Here is Paula’s recipe:
Crab Cakes

1 pound crabmeat, picked free of shells
1/3 cup crushed crackers (recommended: Ritz)
3 green onions (green and white parts), finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 egg
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
Dash cayenne pepper
Flour, for dusting
1/2 cup peanut oil
Favorite dipping sauce, for serving

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients, except for the flour and peanut oil. Shape into patties and dust with flour.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, carefully place crab cakes, in batches, in pan and fry until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip crab cakes and fry on other side until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Serve warm with preferred sauce.

This is what I did differently:
-I had 2 containers of Louisiana minced crab meat, each 14.5 oz. I used both of those. I pressed as much of the water out as I could.
-I didn’t have a fresh lemon, so I just used lemon juice from the bottle
-I didn’t have Ritz so I used Captain’s Wafer type crackers (Keebler version)
-I fried the cakes in vegetable oil, in an electric skillet

This is what I will do differently next time:
-Make sure I press more water out of the crab cakes. I thought I had done a good job, but I’m going to try harder next time
-Skip the mayonnaise; I don’t think it added anything except more liquid to the crab cakes. As a binding agent, the egg should be good enough.
-Use bread crumbs instead of crackers. We crushed the crackers up pretty small, but there were still mushy chunks in the crab cake that were not aesthetically pleasing.
-Experiment with baking the crab cakes instead of frying. No doubt the frying is delicious, but I want a healthier option.


This is my crab cake, served over a Spring mix salad, with cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.  I added some salt and pepper to the salad, drizzled olive oil over it all and it was DELICIOUS. (Sorry for the crappy picture…I took this with my Droid phone and don’t know how to edit to make it pretty.)

Posted by: Laurie | July 2, 2011

Avocado Blue Cheese Dressing

You guys. You have GOT to try this. I mean, if you like avocados and blue cheese, that is. No one else in my house will touch this with a ten foot pole.

So I don’t have any pictures but the final product. But I’m going to post the original recipe, and then my modifications.

Avocado Blue Cheese Dressing from Pinch of Yum

2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (half of an Athenos Blue Cheese package)
1 avocado
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
2 tbs. sour cream (light sour cream works fine)
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 pinch sugar
salt, pepper, and olive oil

Saute the shallot with a tsp. of olive oil until soft and fragrant. Let cool for a few minutes and transfer to a small mixing bowl.

Add all ingredients except avocado to the bowl with the shallots and mash/stir them together. It’s up to you how chunky you want it to be.

Slice the avocado and add to the mixture. Mash/stir to your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. If it’s too thick, add a drizzle of olive oil or another tbs. of milk.

My changes:
I didn’t use the sugar
I used rice wine vinegar, not white wine vinegar
I added a Tablespoon of lemon juice, even though the recipe called for that OR white wine vinegar
I added a teaspoon or so of garlic powder
I used two avocados

Oh. My. Goodness. This is so good! I don’t see how I’ll ever eat store bought dressing again.

What salad dressings have YOU tried?

Posted by: Laurie | April 9, 2011

Baked Peanut Butter Oatmeal

Mark found this recipe a few weeks ago, and we have been wanting to try it out for breakfast. Lazy Saturday mornings are PERFECT for this quick and easy meal.

We made a few adjustments, of course, but Sweet and Savory by Sarah had the right idea for the peanut butter in oatmeal!

Baked Peanut Butter Oatmeal
1 1 /2 Cups Quick Cooking Oats
1/4 Cups Packed Brown Sugar
1/4 Cups White Sugar
3/4 Cups Milk
1/4 Cup Melted Butter
1 Egg
1 tsp. Baking Powder
3/4 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter

Melt the butter in the microwave in medium-sized bowl. Once the butter is melted, add all of the remaining ingredients. Mix it all together and smooth into an 8×8 glass pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

We served this in bowls with a little milk poured in. It’s very thick without the milk (not bad, just thick) and the milk really helped to smooth it out. Plus, the warm oatmeal plus the cold milk = deliciousness!

This served the four of us, plus about two left over servings. Mark took the leftover servings, spread them out on a cookie sheet and baked it in the oven to crisp the oats and make a drier cereal. I’m sure that will be delicious with milk, too!

We added: an extra teaspoon of vanilla and 3/4 Cup of raisins. Mark used creamy peanut butter, but we think crunchy peanut butter would have been just as delicious.

What we might add next time: pecans or walnuts; an apple or two, diced very small; banana (to the top, once it’s done); cinnamon; less sugar (but not much – and only if you add the cinnamon!)…

Posted by: Laurie | March 25, 2011

Pesto Shrimp Pasta

Last night we celebrated my late grandmother’s 90th birthday with a glass of Chardonnay and a new shrimp recipe. Maw Maw died less than two years ago, and sometimes the loss of her is still fresh. Celebrating her birthday was a good way to remember and honor her.

My parents, younger sister, Mark, Anthony, Benjamin and I were all here, so this recipe is scaled to feed all of us, with leftovers (we LOVE leftovers)! I didn’t take any pictures of the process, and only got a picture of my plate from today’s lunch as proof that I did cook this! But you have GOT to try this recipe. It was SO. GOOD.

I was browsing the internet looking for something to do with the shrimp that didn’t involve frying, heavy cream, sour cream, or cream cheese. I wanted light, easy, and delicious.

I found…nothing. Oh, I’m sure there are delicious recipes out there, but in my quick scan, I found one recipe that I liked but it was just so plain. Shrimp, pesto, pasta – that’s it. It looked good, but I thought it needed more.

So I gave it more.

Pesto Shrimp Pasta
(Feeds: an army)

5 pounds of shrimp, beheaded, peeled and deveined (so for those of you who don’t get it: it was five pounds BEFORE the beheading, peeling, and deveining)
Butter, olive oil, seasoning
Pasta (enough to feed that army)
Mushrooms (an entire container), diced small
White wine (I just poured out of the bottle, but I guess it was 1/2 C)
Artichokes (one can, drained), cut into bite-size pieces
Pesto (your own recipe, or 1 jar of Classico)
Pine nuts
Feta cheese
Lemons, for juicing and zesting – I forgot this last night!

Get the water going for your pasta and set the pasta to boil until it’s done to your liking; drain.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and butter, each over medium heat. Season the shrimp as you’re tossing them into the pan to cook (I used Tony Chachere’s seasoning). Cook the shrimp on both sides, about 2-3 minutes, and then remove from the pan. Add a little more butter and the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms for about 3 minutes. Add wine and deglaze the pan. Add lemon juice (just squeeze some in) and artichokes and cook until artichokes are warm. Turn off the heat and add the pasta, shrimp and pesto. Toss all together to coat the pasta and shrimp. Taste and add some salt if you need it (I thought it did).

Serve warm with pine nuts, feta cheese and lemon zest on top.

I know I’m not a great photographer, so just trust me that this is DELICIOUS.

Posted by: Laurie | November 24, 2010

Eggnog Fudge

Mark stumbled upon this recipe last year just before our New Year’s Day party at our house. We made a double batch, and people ate it like crazy!

We have been assigned an appetizer and dessert to bring to my uncle’s house tomorrow for Thanksgiving dinner. Since my uncle was one of those people eating this up last year, I figured I’d make it again!

The eggnog in this recipe is very, very strong, so if you don’t love eggnog, I don’t suggest trying this!

Eggnog Fudge
adapted from Recipe Girl
2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C butter
3/4 cup dairy eggnog
12 oz white chocolate chips
1/2 tsp nutmeg
7 oz jar marshmallow creme
1 tsp rum extract (optional)

Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil. Butter the foil.

In a heavy, 3-quart saucepan combine sugar, butter and eggnog. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling 8 to 10 minutes (or until a candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees F), stirring constantly to avoid scorching. Remove from heat.

Using a wooden spoon, work quickly to stir in white chocolate and nutmeg until chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in marshmallow creme and rum extract. Beat until well blended and then pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle a little nutmeg over the top.

Let stand at room temperature until cooled. Refrigerate if you’d like to speed up the process. When completely cool, cut into small squares. Store in a covered container.

(Sorry…no pictures of the finished product…it’s still cooling!)

Posted by: Laurie | October 30, 2010

Gingerbread Pancakes

Dear Blog, I’m sorry I have neglected you. Life has been busy, what with two active children and grad school. I do love you.

Love, Laurie

And now, on to more important matters. Food.

These pancakes are little pieces of warm heaven. You need to try them. Today. Or soon. Let me know how you like the recipe, too! Or, if you make any changes!

Gingerbread Pancakes
(Adapted from A Cozy Kitchen.)

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon*
1 teaspoon ground ginger*
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brewed coffee, room temperature or cold
1/8 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs

*I did not measure these out; I tasted the batter and added more as needed. This is how much I think was in there at the end!

Whisk together all dry ingredients in one bowl. In another bowl, mix together all wet ingredients, making sure that the coffee and butter have cooled or they will cook the eggs.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until combined and smooth.

Cook on a non-stick griddle or on a griddle brushed lightly with cooking oil.

Pay no attention to the half-eaten pancake on top. A cook’s gotta taste her work before feeding it to the masses!

Serve HOT with pure maple syrup to eager children and husband (husband not pictured).

Posted by: Laurie | July 26, 2010

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Looking for an easy, crock pot recipe, for dinner tonight? Look no further. I promise, this is stupid simple.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches
1 pork shoulder (mine is 6.5 pounds)
1 bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce (We like Kraft Original)
1 large onion
Salt, pepper, garlic powder – to taste

Season the pork shoulder with the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place, fat-side up, in the crock pot.

Turn the crock pot on low. Slice the onion and arrange on and around the pork.

Cover with barbecue sauce. Fill empty sauce bottle halfway with water and shake to remove any extra sauce. Pour this in the pot.

Cover the pot and walk away for 6-8 hours.

IF you feel the need to check on the pork, feel free to spoon some of the sauce over the top of the pork. This is not a necessary step, but if I’m home I have a hard time NOT doing this.

When the pork pulls apart easily, grab two forks and shred the pork. Stir it all up, serve it on buns with a slice of cheese and ENJOY!

I’ll add a picture of the final product – when it’s, well, FINALLY DONE!

Posted by: Laurie | July 21, 2010

Pork Tenderloin in Garlic Sauce

Last night’s main course is a recipe from Italian Food Forever. We’ve made this pork loin once before and it was so very, very good. When thinking about what to make for dinner, Mark requested that I do this again.

I made a few changes to the recipe, but I think next time I’ll stick directly to the original.

With the pork loin, I served a sweet potato casserole (compliments to my sister on her recipe; I made very few changes) and steamed green beans (frozen, from the store, steamed in the bag).

Pork Tenderloin in Garlic Sauce
1.5 pound pork tenderloin
1 – 2 Tablespoons cracked peppercorns
3/4 Cup dry Marsala wine
6 – 7 large garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1/2 – 1 Cup whole milk (I used 1% because that’s what we have)
Olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter

Press the cracked peppercorns onto all sides of the pork loin, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate (I refrigerated it for a few hours).

To make the garlic sauce, put the whole garlic cloves into a small saucepan with 1 cup of milk. Bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for an additional 30 minutes or so, or until the garlic is very soft. If your milk evaporates too much as the garlic cooks, add a little additional milk as needed. Season with salt, and remove from the heat. Using a whisk or blender, blend the garlic and milk together. Return to the heat, and continue simmering until it is thickened.

Cut the pork into 6 pieces or medallions. Add the olive oil (a little more than one Tablespoon) to a frying pan, and cook the pork over high heat, until it is cooked with just a hint of pink remaining inside. Salt and set aside in a warmed platter.

Add the Marsala wine to the pan drippings and cook until it has reduced by more than half and has become thickened. Add the garlic sauce to the frying pan and mix well creating a blended thick sauce. Add the tablespoon of butter to this mixture, and blend well. At this point, I also added some mushrooms. I liked it, and the boys ate it (because they didn’t know!), but Mark doesn’t care for mushrooms, so I won’t add them next time – I wanted them for ME this go round!

I added more milk to this mixture, as there wasn’t enough sauce to put on top of the four medallions we ate.

Sweet Potato Casserole
4 medium sweet potatoes
7 Tablespoons of butter, room temperature
1 C brown sugar
1/2 to 1 can crushed pineapple, drained

Boil the sweet potatoes, with skins on, until they are soft. Remove from water and let cool slightly. When they are cool enough to touch, pull the skins off. Mash lightly with a fork.

Stir the butter, brown sugar and pineapple into the potatoes. And why 7 Tablespoons when a whole stick is 8 Tablespoons? Well, because I needed 1 Tablespoon of butter for the pork loin sauce, of course! Also, I only had pineapple chunks on me, so I just cut up the chunks. That’s why I’m suggesting using crushed pineapple. You REALLY don’t want to sit there cutting up pineapple chunks, do you?

Spread the potato mixture evenly into a 9×13 pan sprayed with non-stick spray (or you could butter the pan, too). Layer the marshmallows on top.

Bake at 350 degrees until the marshmallows are golden and crispy!

What a delicious and EASY meal!

Let’s see the completed meal again, shall we?

Posted by: Laurie | June 23, 2010


I love pancakes. I love them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a cold snack in the middle of the night. I can eat them hot off the griddle, or rewarmed in the microwave. I’m not picky about how I eat my pancakes. I am picky, though, about the recipe. It’s one that my sisters and I have made with our dad since we were little girls. It’s the whole reason I bought the Talk About Good II cookbook. The page has a paper clip on it so I’ll never have to search for the page, and it has all kinds of spills and stains on the page. And yes, I pull out the cook book every. single. time. I make pancakes. I don’t know why, since I have the recipe committed to memory. I think it’s just a comfort thing.

This summer, the boys and I have had pancakes at least once each week. And when I’m feeling lazy, we’ll have pancakes for dinner, too. Did I mention that I love pancakes? Don’t get me started on syrup.

OK, I’ll get started on syrup. I always thought it was funny that Mark and his brothers have different preferences on their syrup. I mean, it’s just syrup, right? Oh, how wrong I was. And believe me, they have expounded on how wrong I was. And now Anthony (my older son) has definite preferences. For a long time all we had in the house was Mrs. Butterworths. Now we have Log Cabin, too, because Anthony had it with Uncle Matt at his Nana’s house. And now he only wants Log Cabin.

Here are my observations about the syrups:
1: Mrs. Butterworths is thicker.
2: Log Cabin has no high fructose corn syrup.

The end.

So now on to this fabulous pancake recipe, and my advice on how NOT to ruin them!

1 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
¾ C milk
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add milk and beaten egg and stir until well mixed. Add butter and vanilla and stir a few more times.

Cook on an electric griddle at 350 degrees (or on a non-stick pan over medium heat). DO NOT use any grease or cooking spray. Pour the batter in medium circles and do not touch until many bubbles start to form on top of the pancakes.

(See those pancakes on the right? They’re ready to flip. The ones on the far left are not)

Flip the pancakes and cook about 1 to 2 more minutes. DO NOT touch the pancakes, or you will flatten them.

(You want them to be pretty and golden like this on both sides)

When they are nice and golden brown on each side, remove to plates. Use your favorite syrup and enjoy while hot! (Or, you know, eat them whenever and however you like)

Also, if you’re feeling fancy, you can get a ketchup squirt bottle at the dollar store and fill it with pancake batter. Then use it to squirt all kinds of cool shapes onto your griddle. My older sister, Kristen, was in town this past weekend and she made these kinds of pancakes. Anthony got a dragon and a dinosaur. Benjamin got a Mickey Mouse head (I can do that by just pouring, thank goodness) and a moose. My dad got a tomahawk and an Atlanta Braves “A”. I’m just not that good. My tomahawk would probably look like a moose and my dinosaur would probably look like a Mickey Mouse head if I tried that. She’s the artist in the family, and we like it that way.

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