Fresh Strawberry Crisp!

It's strawberry season here in Kentucky and you just can't have enough recipes to use them while they are so good and fresh and locally grown.  This recipe is so easy, you won't believe it, but it is absolutely delicious.   A crisp is really just an easy version of a cobbler that 's just a little, well, crispier.   Here is what you need for this one:
6 cups of fresh strawberries, capped and sliced
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup quick cooking oats, not instant
1 cup butter, melted (2 sticks)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Lay the sliced strawberries in an 11"x7" dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.  
In a bowl, mix the cake mix, oats, and sugar.  sprinkle evenly over the strawberries.  Pour the melted butter evenly over the dry mixture. 
Place in the oven and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour.  The top should be browned.
This is best served slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream!  

Iron Skillet Pineapple Upside Down Cake!

Pineapple Upside Down Cake is an old southern favorite and it's really not a difficult cake to make.  I think the most intimidating part of it is turning it out when it's done.  This one is made in an iron skillet and I think the baking in the iron makes the top of it really extra good, because the iron conducts heat so well.   However, if you don't have an iron skillet, you can use any skillet with an oven proof handle or a large round baking pan.  Here is what you will need:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1  1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple slices, drained
maraschino cherries
1 pkg. pineapple cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1 (3.4 oz.) pkg. vanilla instant pudding
4 large eggs
1 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the butter in a 12 inch cast iron skillet until melted.  Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the butter.
Arrange the pineapple slices in the skillet.  Place a cherry in the middle of each pineapple slice and I added a circle around the center pineapple.
In a large mixing bowl mix combine the cake mix, dry pudding mix, eggs, oil, water and vanilla.  Beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes.  Pour over the pineapple and cherries in the skillet and spread evenly.   Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Carefully remove from the oven.  Use some heavy oven mitts, because that iron skillet will be screaming hot! 
Place a large cake plate over the skillet and then carefully flip the skillet over to release the cake!  It will release just like this! 
Slice and serve! 

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!

I get a lot of requests for a good "Strawberry Rhubarb Pie"!  According to my mother it was my grandfather's favorite pie.   He even liked just a good Rhubarb Pie without the addition of strawberries.  I do think the strawberries add something to it though.  Both strawberries and rhubarb come into season about the same time here in Kentucky so pairing them up is just natural.  The two flavors really do great things for each other!
It seems like it's hard to find good recipes for rhubarb.  This recipe is fairly easy to make. Here is what you will need:
pastry for a 2 crust 9 inch pie
3 cups fresh rhubarb, peeled and diced
1  1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
1  1/2 cups sugar
3  Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cups butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
Mix the strawberries and diced rhubarb and place in a 9 inch pie shell or crust placed in a deep dish pie plate.  Mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt and sprinkle evenly over the strawberries and rhubarb.  
Place the other pie crust over the top and crimp to seal the edges around the pie.  Trim it to fit.  Cut some slits in the top of the crust to vent the pie while baking.  Brush the top crust with the melted butter.  Sprinkle with the other 1/4 cup sugar. 
Place the pie on a baking sheet or cookie sheet in case of spillovers.  Place in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. 
Allow to cool, slice and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!  Delish!  

Strawberries and Cream Butter Cake!

This recipe is one I found in the Pillsbury 45th Annual Bake-Off Contest publication.  My husband loves strawberries and this is the time of year they are best, so I wanted to make him a really good strawberry dessert.   To be honest you can put fresh strawberries and whipped cream on those little round cakes you buy at the store (the ones they keep next to the strawberries) and he is happy as a clam.   However, I didn't think that was blog  

This cake is best served warm from the oven, either by itself or with fresh strawberries, that have been sliced and macerated, which just means sweetened and refrigerated for a couple of hours to release their juices.  I just use plain ole sugar.  I see recipes for honey and liqueurs and such though. I still use plain ole sugar. If I got all fancy with it, my husband would say 'What's wrong with the strawberries?'   Some things need to be left  Add a  dollop of whipped cream and it is wonderful!   You can serve it as a coffee cake or breakfast/ brunch cake by itself and it is also really good.

1 roll refrigerated sugar cookies
1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup strawberry jam (or jelly)
fresh strawberries and whipped cream for topping

Here is what you need:

Roll of sugar cookies, can of sweetened condensed milk, eggs, strawberry jam (or jelly), flour, butter, sugar, and fresh strawberries and whipped cream for topping.

Leave the roll of cookie dough out on the counter for about 30 minutes to soften.  Spray a 9"x13" baking pan well with baking spray.  Press the cookies in the bottom of the pan.

Beat together the softened butter and the sugar until it is whipped and light.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat. Using the low speed of your mixer, add in 1/3 flour, 1/3 condensed milk alternating and ending with flour.   Pour the batter over the cookie layer.
Drop the strawberry jam by teaspoonfuls over the batter and then drag a knife through it lightly to swirl.  You want it to stay on top so be gentle.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 to 50 minutes.  At 45 minutes test it with a toothpick inserted in the center, it should come out clean. All ovens vary and this is a dense cake so it could take the center a few extra minutes.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Pound Cake!

I love a good pound cake and I also love a good chocolate anything, so a "Chocolate Pound Cake" is just a wonderful thing to me!  This recipe is so moist and has just the right amount of chocolate and with the old fashioned chocolate glaze it tastes so good!   You have to try this one! 
Here is what you will need:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond flavoring
3 cups all  purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream
6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup half and half cream
1/4 cup butter
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup chopped almonds
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. 
In a separate bowl beat the butter, oil, and sugar together.   Add the eggs and then the sour cream.   Add this to the dry ingredients and mix. Add vanilla and almond flavorings.  Fold in the chocolate chips. 
Spray a 10 cup Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray or butter and flour it well.   Pour the batter evenly into the pan and place in the oven.  Bake for 75 to 90 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
Remove from the oven and allow to sit in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cake plate. 
To prepare the glaze, microwave the chocolate chips and butter until the chips are melted.  Stir in the half and half until smooth.  Heat a bit more if needed.  Stir in the confectioner's sugar, vanilla and almond flavorings until smooth.  

Pour the glaze over the cake and then sprinkle with the almonds! 

Slice and serve! 
If you are a chocolate lover, like me, this cake can be dangerous and you might need somebody to take it away from you!

Santa Fe Pasta Skillet!

This is a one skillet meal you can have on the table in no time flat!  That's just the kind of recipe I love to have when I don't have time to be in the kitchen all afternoon, but I still want to serve something homemade and tasty!   We all need several of these easy recipes that are quick on prep and cleanup these days, because everyone just seems so busy.  
 If you have a few of these type recipes, it keeps you from being so tempted to do the drive thru or ordering out thing, which has become way too frequent in most families now.  Now, don't get me wrong, I do eat out or order out myself at times, but I try to limit it and make it the exception rather than the norm.   It's not only usually a healthier option to cook at home, it's also a huge money saver!  
This recipe feeds quite a few people and if you add a salad it's a complete meal!  The teens and kids love this one also!   Here is what you will need for this:
2 cups rotini or penne pasta, uncooked
3 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut in bite size pieces
2 Tbs. vegetable or olive oil
black pepper
2 cups of your favorite salsa
1 (15 oz.) can of black beans  ( I prefer the Busch Grilling Beans in the Sweet Mesquite flavor)
10 oz. frozen corn niblets or a 15 oz. can of corn niblets, drained
8 oz. cream cheese cubed
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 cups tortilla chips, lightly crushed
sliced green onions
sour cream
sliced olives
additional salsa
Cook the pasta according to package directions, just until al dente.  Drain and set aside. 
Brown the chicken in the 2 Tbs. oil in a large nonstick skillet with a lid.   Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper before browning. 
When the chicken is done, add the salsa, corn, the black beans (undrained), cream cheese, garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder.  Cook on low, stirring occasionally, until the cream cheese has melted.   Add the drained pasta and 1 cup of the cheddar cheese.  Stir just to mix. 
Sprinkle with the other cup of the cheddar cheese.   Cover with the lid and heat on low until the cheese melts!

Right before serving sprinkle the crushed tortilla chips around the edges of the skillet!  Serve right from the skillet and allow each person to garnish as desired!

Cheesy Broccoli Bake!

This is a really good broccoli casserole that is just a bit different.  It has an egg and mayonnaise in it so the texture is  little lighter and fluffier.   We really enjoy this for a change now and then.  This is great to take to potlucks and things like that also.  It seems that folks love a good broccoli casserole!  Here is what you will need for this:
2 (10 oz.) pkgs. chopped frozen broccoli, cooked according to pkg. directions and drained well (can also use the same amount of cooked and drained fresh broccoli)
1 egg, beaten
1 small onion, grated
1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 (10 oz.) can of cream of mushroom soup
1/2 soup can of water
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed (or any buttery cracker)
4 Tbs. melted butter (1/2 stick)
In a mixing bowl, mix the egg, onion, mayonnaise, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, mushroom soup, 1/2 can of water, pepper, and seasoned salt.   Add in the broccoli that has been well drained and mix.  Pour into a 2 quart casserole dish that has been buttered or sprayed with nonstick spray.  Sprinkle the top with the other 1/2 cup cheese.   Mix the cracker crumbs with the melted butter and sprinkle evenly over the top. 
Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the top is just starting to brown and it's bubbly around the edges! 

Apple Walnut Muffins!

These muffins are delicious for breakfast or with a cup of coffee for an afternoon snack.  They also make great after school snacks for the kids with a glass of milk.   These are really easy to make.  You do need to prepare the apples the night before.   Here is what you need for these:
4 cups apples, peeled and diced
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine apples and sugar and let stand overnight in the refrigerator.  Beat eggs, oil and vanilla together.   Add to apples and sugar. 
Combine all of the dry ingredients.   Mix in the walnuts.   Mix with the wet ingredients just until all is moistened and combined.  
Fill paper lined muffin tins about 3/4 full.   Bake for about 25 minutes.  Makes 24 smaller muffins or 18 large ones.  

Spinach Apple Salad!

This "Spinach Apple Salad" has just a few ingredients, but packs a big flavor, because it has sugared curry pecans, goat cheese and a homemade Maple Cider Vinaigrette dressing.  This salad is also great for just about any occasion, whether it's a holiday dinner, special occasion meal, or a church or neighborhood potluck!   You can prepare this ahead of time and dress it right before eating also!  Here is what you will need:
Sugared Pecans
6 oz. pecan halves
2 Tbs. butter, melted
3 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salad Dressing
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbs. pure maple syrup
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2/3 cup olive oil
10 oz. pkg. baby spinach, washed well
1 Gala apple, cored and sliced thin (or any red apple)
1 small sweet onion (like Vidalia), sliced thin and separated in rings
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
To prepare the pecans, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Toss the pecans in butter.  Stir together the sugar and spices in a bowl.  Add the pecans and toss to coat.   Spread out on a baking sheet lined with foil (the nonstick variety is best)  Bake for 10 to 13 minutes.   Cool for about 20-25 minutes, separate with a fork if any stick together.  
To prepare the dressing, whisk the cider vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper together.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil until well blended.
Assemble the salad ingredients in a salad bowl by layering the spinach, apple slices, onion rings and crumbled goat cheese.   Sprinkle the top with the pecans. 

Drizzle with the amount of vinaigrette dressing desired and serve!  You can make the dressing up to three days ahead of time and the pecans up to a week in advance if stored in an airtight container! 

Apricot Nectar Cake!


This is absolutely one of the most moist cakes you will ever make.  I have been using this recipe for it for years.  I think even before I got married I was making this cake.   I originally got the recipe from Miss Daisy King.  If you are from south central Kentucky or the Nashville, Tennessee area you might be familiar with Daisy King.  She is a caterer, restaurant owner, and cook book author and expert on all thing southern, especially southern food.  
When I was growing up, in our town, the only decent TV programming and news came to us out of Nashville.  I think that is why I have always felt like part of the Nashville community as much as my own here in Kentucky.  I will always feel like Tennessee is my second state.  But back to my point, there was and still is, a noon news show called "Talk of the Town" that Daisy King made regular appearances on to showcase her recipes.  Back then, she owned a tea room, Miss Daisy's Tea Room and did a lot of catering.     Miss Daisy King was and is the epitome of a southern lady.  She always wore these cute little shirt waist dresses, starched and pressed to perfection and her pearls on the show, with not a hair out of place.   I loved her way with food and some of my most used cookbooks were written by Daisy King.    
Here is what you will need for this delicious cake:
1 box lemon or yellow cake mix (I prefer the lemon)
1 (3 oz.) box of lemon gelatin
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup apricot nectar
6 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups confectioner's sugar
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup apricot nectar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
With an electric mixer, in a large mixing bowl, mix the cake mix, gelatin, oil, and apricot nectar until blended.   Add the eggs, mixing after each addition.  Add the vanilla.  Mix for about 1-2 minutes.
Apricot Nectar can be hard to find in some areas. It's usually with the fruits or fruit juices.  Walmart carries it in our area, but you might have to ask where you shop.
This is the brand I used.  It's in a can about the size of a soda can.
Spray a 10 inch tube pan or Bundt pan generously with baking spray that contains flour.  Baker's Joy is what I use and it never fails me!    Pour the cake batter evenly in the pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
Mix the glaze ingredients.  Pour 1/2 over the cake while it's still in the pan.  Allow it to cool and then turn out onto a cake plate.   Drizzle the remaining glaze over the top of the cake.  If it's too thin, add just a little more confectioner's sugar!  This cake just becomes moister as it sits!
This cake is so good served just by itself or you can serve with fruit!

Smoked Gouda Potato Gratin!

Don't let the name of this recipe fool you or discourage you from trying it, it's really a quite simple potato dish.  It's also a really wonderfully delicious potato dish.   If you have not cooked with Gouda cheese, you should give it a try.  Gouda is just the most creamy semi hard to hard cheese there is.  I prefer the smoked Gouda for this dish, but you can also use just a good Gouda.  Be sure to buy the younger Gouda cheeses that have not been aged for a long time so it's still semi soft.  Some of it is aged for up to a year and gets hard.    Buy the Gouda that is aged for a month or two.  Here is what else you will need for this dish:
4 large baking potatoes, peeled and sliced in very thin circles
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
4 Tbs. butter
2 cups shredded smoked Gouda cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1  1/2 cups half and half cream
Spray a deep round pie plate or casserole dish with nonstick spray.  Layer half of the potato slices evenly in the dish.  Place half of the butter cut in pats over the potato slices.   Sprinkle 1 tsp. of the garlic over the butter.  Sprinkle with half of the seasoned salt and black pepper.   Sprinkle with 1 cup of the Gouda cheese and half of the Parmesan cheese over all.  
Repeat the same layers with the rest of the potatoes, butter, cheeses and seasonings.  Pour the half and half around the edges of the dish and over the top.  
 Place in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  The top should be browned, but if it starts to get too brown, just loosely cover with a piece of foil. 
These are so good with any main course and I really love them with grilled meats!

Country Ham Buttermilk Biscuit Bites!

These tasty little mini "Country Ham Buttermilk Biscuit Bites" are perfect for parties or events you will be hosting this Spring like wedding and baby showers, graduation parties, or even wedding receptions.   If you don't have country ham available in your area, use regular baked ham sliced thin. Ham and biscuits is a great appetizer we serve a lot in the South and there will never be any leftover no matter how many you make!  You can also use this recipe for the biscuits to make larger biscuits for breakfast or dinner!  
This is how my mother taught me to make biscuits when I was just a teenager and this is how I have made them ever since!   For me, there are just some basics to good biscuits...preferably White Lily self rising flour, shortening (or lard, although I do not use lard), and turning the biscuits over in the shortening in the pan before baking. 
Here is what you will need for these:
4 center cut slices of country ham, cooked
2 cups self rising flour***
1/4 cup, plus 1 Tbs. shortening, divided
3/4 cups buttermilk (can substitute whole milk)
If you do not have the availability of self rising flour, use 2 cups all purpose, 1 Tbs. baking powder, and 1 tsp. salt.  I really do prefer self rising flour for biscuits though.
Rinse the ham slices off well to get rid of the excess salt.   You can either fry them in a skillet or a good way to cook country ham when you have several pieces to cook, is to wrap it loosely in aluminum foil and lay in a baking pan.  Place it in the oven at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Carefully open the foil and turn the slices over and place back in the oven unwrapped for about 5-10 more minutes.    It will come out perfect and not dried out!
Preheat oven to 450 for the biscuits.
To prepare the biscuits, cut the shortening into the flour with a pastry blender or two knives.  It should form pea size crumbs.   Blend in just enough of the milk until the dough is wet and leaves the sides of the bowl. 
Sprinkle a sheet of wax paper or foil with flour and turn the dough out onto it.  Knead and fold over the dough just about 2 to 3 times or until the dough can be lightly rolled out.   The key to making good biscuits is not to over work the dough.  You need a light touch and DO NOT knead it too much.    With a rolling pin, roll out about a 1/2 inch thick. 
Melt the extra tablespoon of shortening in a baking dish or deep pie plate in the oven.  Using a mini biscuit cutter cut the biscuits and place in the pan, turning each on over in the shortening.   Place them with the sides touching in the dish.  This will make about 24 of the mini biscuits.    If you are making regular size biscuits, you can get about 12 out of this. 
Place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until just brown.   For larger biscuits it might take a little longer.   
Cut the ham in small pieces and place on each biscuit.  Serve hot!
If you are making several of these for a party or event, you can put them together like this beforehand and place them in a deep baking pan or aluminum catering pan.  Cover with foil and then just reheat in the oven right before serving! 

Country Ham Quiche!

Since I grew up in Kentucky and have lived here all of my life, at one time I never really realized that not everyone had access to or was familiar with country ham.   Country ham is Kentucky, maybe more than bourbon, horses and tobacco.   I have since learned that country ham is fairly regional.  When you go past the Mason Dixon line north or to the west, it sort of starts to fade away.  Really surprising is that it's also not very available in Mississippi, Louisiana and much of Alabama.   I am not completely sure why this is, but I have  a theory that it has to do with the saying ...."It's cold enough to kill hogs in here".   Have you ever heard someone say that about a cold room?  Well, it had to be really cold before you could kill hogs because the process of dressing the meat and such took some time and if it was too warm, the meat would ruin.  Maybe it wasn't cold enough in those coastal states to cure the meat?  I am not really sure. 

I am told that my grandfather was well known for wonderful country hams and smoked shoulders.  He killed five to six hogs each winter.  That might seem like a lot, but he had 11 kids to feed.  According to my aunts, his secret was using both hickory and sassafras woods and he used the roots of the sassafras tree not just the limbs.  It gave the meat a very unique flavor.   Everybody around wanted the secret to his smoking technique.    You may have heard the saying, 'they used every part of the hog, but the squeal",   according to my mother...they did. Which probably explains my excessive use of  bacon and ham in my's genetic! 

Of course, now days you can order country ham online, but I am not sure a lot of people would know what to do with it.  Somebody asked me today, what makes Kentucky cuisine so different from other areas, and I have decided that a big part of it is the country ham (and so much more).  We fry it, bake it, and use it to season everything from dried beans to green beans and just any kind of fresh greens like collards, mustard or turnip greens.   That's why any discussion of foods for a Kentucky Derby celebration, party or tea must include country ham!   You will find the usual country ham and biscuits and there is nothing wrong with that at all, but this is the use of country ham in a quiche and it really makes this quiche extra good. 

Here is what you will need:
Country ham (just the biscuit slices is enough), eggs, half and half, butter, sour cream, pie crust, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce.


1 deep dish pie crust
2 Tbs. butter
1 1/2 cups chopped country ham
4 eggs
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup Swiss cheese
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of Tabasco sauce

Melt 2 Tbs. butter in a skillet.  Wash the ham slices off.  Country ham tends to be very salty and can be a little gritty out of the package so it needs to be rinsed off.  Chop it up and saute it in the butter.  Country ham is a cured meat, but it is not fully cooked. 

Beat the eggs with a whisk, add half and half, sour cream, seasoned salt, pepper cayenne and Tabasco sauce and whisk until well blended.   Place the pie crust in a deep pie plate or you can use a frozen deep dish pie crust. 

Place the pie plate on a cookie sheet or pizza pan.  The quiche cooks more evenly like this and it's easier to move in and out of the oven.
Place the ham with the butter in the bottom of the crust.  Sprinkle both cheeses over the ham.  Pour the egg mixture over all. 
Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 50-55 minutes.  If it starts to brown on top too much and is not done in the center, place a piece of foil lightly over the top.  Usually this doesn't happen, but all ovens vary.

Let the quiche sit for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing and it will come out much easier.   For a Derby Tea these could be made in a mini muffin pan for mini quiches, just chop the ham a little finer.

Slice and serve!  I served it with fried potatoes!