Pumpkin Spice Granola


Once you discover how easy it is to make your own granola — and how wonderful fresh granola tastes — you’ll never  want to settle for store-bought again.  You can add your favorite nuts, seeds, fruits and seasonings for variety or just make your own signature mix.   For an easy, yummy gift, fill a glass jar with your granola and tie a ribbon around it.

And now here’s a blend specially made for Thanksgiving — Pumpkin Spice.


2½ tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
¾ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
⅓ cup maple syrup
⅓ cup pumpkin puree
2 cups rolled oats
½ cup roughly chopped pecans
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
½ cup dried cranberries

Whisk together the olive oil, salt, pumpkin pie spice, maple syrup and pumpkin.

2.  Add the oats, pecans and sesame seeds and stir well.

3.  Spread evenly onto a baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees until nicely browned and dry, about 40 minutes.

4.  Stir in dried cranberries and let cool completely.  Store in an
airtight container for up to one week.

Yummy Mummy


Who knew a mummy could be so yummy?  These are
simple to make for breakfast or a Halloween brunch.

Use fully cooked sausages and wrap them in strips of crescent roll dough.
20151022_060234-1   20151022_060619-1

Bake 15 to 20 minutes at 375 degrees, and add dots of mustard for the eyes.  That’s it.

A couple of tips from trial and error… they look better when not too toasty dark, so check them early.  Also be sure to wrap them all the way to the bottom to make them look more like mummies than
people bundled up for the winter.

mummies 4


Ghostly Brownies


These ghostly brownies are simple, yummy and cute.  Getting the faces to look exactly as you want is a little tricky, though, but the drippy faces seemed to add to the spookiness (at least that’s what I told myself).


You can make your own brownies and icing, of course, but I go for the simple.  I bought brownie bites from the grocery store and used Betty Crocker Classic White canned frosting, and they were yummy.

  1. Put brownie bites on serving platter.
  2. Put frosting in the microwave for about 15
    seconds to make it runny.
  3. Dip a large marshmallow into the icing and set it on top of a
  4. Drizzle a spoonful of the icing over the marshmallow, allowing it to run down over the sides.
  5. Use black frosting gel to add eyes and a mouth.20151021_064756-1




Jack-o-Lantern Fruit Cups


These fruit cups were a big hit at my Halloween brunch.  The
example I found online used oranges, but they seemed a bit too big with everything else I was serving, so I used Cuties.

First slice off the top of each Cutie.  Use a sharp edge spoon to
separate the flesh from the peel and  work your way around the fruit, going a little deeper each round.  Finally, the fruit will loosen and you can slide it out as a big ball.  Rinse them (and your hands–very sticky!) and set them on a towel to dry.


It might be easier with an orange than a Cutie, but carving the face was pretty tricky.  It only took one for me to decide to just draw the faces on with a Sharpie.  If I were doing a brunch for just a few
people, I’d probably go ahead and carve them, but for 20, it was just too much work.

Once your cups are ready, load them up with fruit.  I used
blackberries, raspberries and mango, but any fruit will do.

These can easily be prepared the day ahead.  Just cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Treats


Most anything wrapped in bacon would probably be a hit, but these Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Treats are AMAZING!

If at all possible, you will want to use fresh pineapple.  The convenience of canned pineapple just isn’t worth the difference in flavor and texture.  For those of you who’ve never cut up a pineapple
before, let me reassure you… it’s very easy.  I had never done it before either.

Cutting a pineapple:
1.  Slice off the top and discard.
2.  Slice off the bottom to create a flat surface and discard
3.  Stand the pineapple upright and slice down each side, cutting off the spikes and leaving only the yellow flesh.
4.  Now slice down each side and discard the core.
5.  Cut the slices into 1″ chunks.
That’s it.

To make the Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Treats:
Wrap each pineapple chunk in one-half slice of bacon, securing with a toothpick.  Place them side by side on a rack over a foil lined baking sheet.  (You can place them directly on the foil, but they cook more evenly and drain better on a rack.)


Top each treat with a pinch of brown sugar, and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or so, until the bacon is crispy and browned nicely.  Serve immediately.

Oh so yummy!!






Toasted Coconut Almond Meringues


Toasted coconut adds a wonderful flavor and crunch to these lightly sweet cookies – Toasted Coconut Almond Meringues.

For basic meringes, simply mix 3 egg whites and 3/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form.  Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours.   That’s it.  But with a few simple additions, you can create a wide variety of flavors.  This is one of my favorites.

1.  In a dry saucepan over medium heat, toast coconut until golden brown, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
20150807_213625-2   20150807_214504-1

2. In the same way, in a dry saucepan over medium heat, toast finely chopped almonds until golden brown, about 2 to 4 minutes.
20150807_215001-1    20150807_215635-1

3.  Separate egg whites from yolks.  Here’s a helpful YouTube video for four simple ways to separate eggs.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqGTyqk0G50

4.  Add cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form.  Continue beating and add sugar one tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form.

5.  Stir in almond extract and beat 30 seconds.  Using a spatula, fold in coconut and almonds.

6.  Spoon into a pastry bag with a wide tip and pipe the meringue into 1½ inch cookies onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, one inch apart.

7.  Bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours.  Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes and then remove cookies from the pans.  Leave them to cool completely.

8.  Store in an airtight container for up to five days.  If cookies are chewy, heat in 200 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Recipe: Toasted Coconut Almond Meringues

3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup toasted finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup toasted shredded coconut

Strawberry Blondies

Recipe - Blondies - Sliced

Bar cookies are so easy to make, and these Strawberry Blondies
offer a sweet change from chocolate chip.

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking dish with foil, leaving an overhang on two edges, and butter it well.Recipe - Blondies - Buttered Foil

2.  In a microwave-safe bowl, melt butter with brown sugar, about 1 minute in the microwave.  Stir in the vanilla extract and the egg.

3.  Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl.  Stir into the butter mixture.  Stir in the butterscotch chips and walnuts.

4.  Pour batter into the foil-lined baking dish and spread evenly.  Drop dollops of jam on top and swirl with a knife.
Recipe - Blondies - Whole

5.  Bake at 350 degrees until set, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool 15 minutes on a rack, then lift out the foil and transfer the blondies to the rack to cool completely.  Remove the foil and cut into bars.

4 tablespoons of butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1½ teaspoons of vanilla
1 egg, slightly beaten
¾ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup butterscotch chips
¼ cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons strawberry jam

Print recipe:  Strawberry Blondies

Hot Bacon Crab Dip

Bacon Crab - finished 2

Bacon is always a hit, but this Hot Bacon Crab Dip vanished quickly.  Everyone raved about it.  It would probably taste just as yummy cold, but I doubt it will ever last long enough for me to find out.

Bacon Crab - ingredients

8 oz cream cheese
8 oz crab meat
1 cup crumbled cooked bacon
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 green onions, chopped
Juice of one lemon, about 3 T

Combine first 6 ingredients.  Spread in baking dish.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top.
Bacon Crab - breadcrumbs

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Serve hot.

I doubled the recipe so it filled a 9×12 baking dish.

Print recipe:  Hot Bacon Crab Dip



Ladybug Caprese Bites

Ladybug - finished

Talk about playing with your food! These ladybugs are simple to make and will delight any crowd.

As of yet I have been unsuccessful in tracking down the origin to credit the person who actually invented these.  Kudos, whoever you are!! and thanks to my friends who sent links to me because they knew I would enjoy making these.

So let’s get to the how of it.

1. Clean and separate basil leaves and display them on your serving tray with the pretty, green side up.
Ladybug - leaves

2. Slice mozzarella very thinly, and place one slice on top of each leaf. (Some versions show the leaf on top of the mozzarella, but I found it easier for guests to pick them up when the leaf was on bottom.)
Ladybug - cheese

3. Slice cherry tomatoes in half. Then slice each half about three-fourths of the way through. Lay each half tomato on a slice of mozzarella and spread to look like a ladybug’s wings.

4. Place a black olive slice on the uncut end of each tomato to form the head. The rounded ends of the olives work best.

5. Place a little balsamic glaze in a dish and use a toothpick or skewer to paint dots of the glaze on the ladybug wings.
Ladybug - glaze      Ladybug - dots

That’s it. How easy! and how cute!



Yummy guacamole.  Always a hit and actually quite simple to make.

Let’s start with a disclaimer as to the amount of each ingredient.  I just eyeball it, so my guacamole tastes a bit different every time—sometimes heavier on the garlic, sometimes more oniony, sometimes saltier.  And of course, there are hundreds of varieties of guacamole you can try using various spices and your own secret
ingredients.  But here’s generally how I make my guacamole, and it’s a big hit every time.

4 large avocados
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup mild green chilies, diced
1/4 cup tomato skins, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Lime juice, to taste (start with half a lime)
Salt, to taste (start with 1/4 teaspoon)

With guacamole you don’t want the juicy pulp of the tomato, just the skin and a little flesh.  I generally use Roma tomatoes because I like the flavor.  Slice off the ends and cut the tomato in half lengthwise.  Then using a large flat edge knife, separate the skin from the pulp of the tomato.  Pop the wonderful juicy pulp center into your mouth and enjoy as you repeat with the second half.  Then chop the skins.
Guac--chop tomatoes

I generally buy my chilies canned and diced and drain them in a small strainer.
Guac--drain chilis

When I made this batch of guacamole, I suddenly discovered I was out of fresh garlic.  What?!  After the panic subsided, I used freeze dried garlic and soaked it for a minute in a bit of the juice of the chilies.  It was okay, but I definitely prefer fresh garlic.
Guac--chopped ingredients

There are many ways to slice an avocado, but my go-to method when making guacamole is to make small slits lengthwise and then crosswise and scoop out with a large spoon.  Since I like my guacamole chunky, this makes the avocado bits the perfect size.
Guac--sliced avocados

Then I mix all the ingredients and give it a good stir until it’s creamy (but still chunky) and all the flavors are well mixed.  I taste
it—but of course!—and then add whatever I think it needs more of (salt, onion, garlic, lime).  Then I taste it again… and again… and again… until I remind myself I made it for other people, too.

The meat of an avocado turns brown when exposed to oxygen, so if you are not serving your guacamole immediately, put one or two of the pits in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap, smoothing the wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole to keep as little as possible exposed to the air.
Guac--save for later

With all the health conscious people these days, I generally offer veggie sticks for dipping in the guacamole in addition to tortilla chips.  But the tortilla chips still run out much faster.

Print-friendly version:  Guacamole Recipe