Caprese Salad – Take Two

The first time I posted about caprese salad it was for a serving of one. I would pack this for lunch during the summertime. It is no longer summer, but I don’t ascribe to the notion certain foods and/ or dishes are only to be eaten according to the calendar. With this dish, I can make a generous bowl of it, eat some now, keep it in the refrigerator, & eat some later.

The cast of characters:

Preparation is easy. I diced up the tomatoes & seasoned them with salt & pepper. Chiffonade the basil. Combine the tomatoes, basil, & fresh mozzarella pearls. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve & enjoy!

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Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns

The moment the weather changes from a bright, warm sunny day to gray, cool, & overcast, you better believe I will be in the kitchen.


for the rolls:

  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed to 110 degrees
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 packet rapid rise yeast
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for handling

for the filling:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted

for the caramel sauce:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted


for the rolls:

Warm milk to 110 degrees (not more than 110 or it will kill the yeast) if taking milk out of refrigerator, heat in microwave at 30 second intervals, testing temperature each time. Whisk in the sugar & packet of yeast. Cover with plastic wrap & allow to proof, approximately 30 minutes.

Add egg yolks, one egg, cooled melted butter, kosher salt, & proofed milk/ sugar/ yeast mixture into the bowl of a stand up mixer & whisk together using the paddle attachment. Add flour, one cup at a time, stirring to incorporate after each addition. Remove the paddle attachment & add dough hook, knead for 5-7 minutes. The dough should be soft & moist, not overly sticky. Transfer the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl & cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature until doubled, approximately 2 – 2 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Toast pecan pieces for 5-7 minutes, turning at least once. Allow to cool.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, add the butter, salt, brown sugar, honey, vanilla extract, & cream. Stir until melted, remove from heat, & stir in 1 1/2 cup of the toasted pecan pieces. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Spray a 9×13 inch pan with nonstick spray. Pour the cooled caramel/ pecan sauce into the pan.

Once the dough has doubled in size, transfer to a large, lightly floured surface & roll to a rectangle that is 18 or so inches wide (the side closest to you) & 12 or so inches long with 1/4 thickness.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the softened butter over the rolled out dough. Whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, dash of nutmeg & 1/2 cup of the toasted pecan pieces. Spread evenly over buttered dough. Beginning with the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a tight, 18 inch long spiral. Very gently, using floss and/ or a string (or even a serrated knife sawing gently) cut into 1 1/2 inch sections so that you have 12 rolls. Place rolls on caramel/ pecan sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 – 45 minutes, or until thermometer inserted in middle reads 190 degrees. Remove from oven, allow to cool in pan for 20 minutes. If you have a dish long enough, invert pan so caramel/ pecan sauce is on top. I do not have one of these so when I served them I simply inverted a roll onto the plate. Whatever is not eaten the day baked, place in Tupperware container & store in refrigerator. Heat in 30 second intervals. Enjoy!

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Swiss Steak

This dish was in regular rotation while I was growing up. It’s the perfect dish to use round steak with since it simmers & the end result is a super tender piece of meat that you can cut with a fork.


  • Round steak
  • Vegetable oil
  • Flour
  • S & P
  • 1 envelope of Lipton Beefy Onion Soup mix
  • Brown or white rice


Add S&P to each side of the steak, cover each side in flour, & pound down to flatten. Using an electric skillet, heat to 275 – 300 degrees, add a thin layer of oil to brown each side of the steak, a few minutes on each side. Remove any excess oil. Add a packet of Beefy Onion Soup mix & 3-4 cups of water. Simmer for 2 hours, adding additional water as needed. Add rice 30 minutes before end of cooking time until tender & water is absorbed.

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Peach Galette

A few month ago, Chris & I were watching a food show on Netflix & one of the segments showed a woman preparing a peach galette (something I’d never heard of before) but the seed was planted, & for months now I’ve been thinking about this dessert, waiting patiently until peaches were in season. Incidentally, this is the second time I’ve made this dessert because initially I was presented with sour faces from the fam & had to listen to them groan about ‘making something we all like.’ Until, that is, they begrudgingly tasted it & decidedly agreed it was so good & I should make it again soon, like the next day.


For the crust:

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, chilled in freezer for an hour
  • 4 – 6 tbsp ice water

For the filling:

  • 4 – 5 peaches, pitted, sliced into 1/4 or 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp butter, cut into little dots

For the glaze:

  • 1 egg
  • Turbinado sugar


For the crust:

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, & salt until mixed together. Add the frozen, cubed butter & pulse 8 times until the butter is pea sized. Add the water 2 tablespoons at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the dough starts to come together.

Turn onto a clean, flat surface & use your hands to form into a disc. Don’t over knead; just work it until it comes together. Sprinkle a little flour to dust all sides of the disc, wrap with plastic, & place in the refrigerator for an hour to chill.

For the filling:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, sugars, & cinnamon in a small bowl. Slice the peaches. Add the vanilla extract to the peaches; stir gently. Add the flour mixture a few tablespoons at a time, stirring gently after each addition to coat the peaches.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 12 – 14 inch diameter. Gently lift & place on a rimmed baking sheet or round baking dish. Arrange the peach slices in an overlapping pattern in a single layer in an 8 – 9 inch circle. Dot with a little butter. Fold the remaining outer dough edges in an accordion fashion.

Whisk together the egg for the egg wash & brush the outer exposed dough. Sprinkle dough with Turbinado sugar.

Bake for 17 – 20 minutes, until dough is golden. Remove from oven & allow to cook for 15 minutes before serving.

Slightly adapted from:


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Blackberry Sangria

I’m not much of a drinker, as a result my knowledge of various types of liquor, spirits, wines, & all alcoholic beverages is seriously limited. In fact, with this recipe, I’ll need to create a new category. With that said, I do know what I like & blackberry sangria ranks high on the list. The upside of making it at home allows you to save some serious cash as well.


  • 1 1/2 liters Lambrusco red wine
  • 14 oz cranberry juice (not cranberry cocktail)
  • 14 oz blackberry wine or monin blackberry syrup
  • 6 oz tuaca Italian liquor
  • Blackberries & orange wedges for garnishment


Add all fluids to a pitcher, stir together, & place in refrigerator. Allow to sit for several hours or overnight before serving. When ready to serve, add ice to wine glass, fill with sangria, add a couple of fresh blackberries & an orange wedge. Sit back, put up your feet, & sip away.

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Leah’s “I luv cake!” Cake

When Leah turned 2, we celebrated her birthday, a small gathering of family & close friends at the house. After playing & presents it was time for cake & ice cream. Situated in her high chair, I gave her a small piece of this cake. Using her chubby fingers she delivered bits of cake hand to mouth. After only one or two bites, her eyes lit up, & she declared, “I luuuuuv cake! Chocolate cake!” We laughed & laughed until our sides hurt as she said it repeatedly. By the time she had finished her cake, there were crumbs all over the tray & smears of chocolate adorned the corners of her mouth. It’s a cherished memory.

The recipe remained in my binder for years, but for some reason, I never made it again. This past school year, Leah was going through the binder & when she found it, informed me she didn’t remember the cake or the story – of course not, she was only 2. She decided to make it for her art club & when she came home that afternoon, proceeded to tell me how the cake was so good! Nevertheless, I made it for her birthday this year & though gone are the chubby fingers & chocolate smeared cheeks, this cake remains a winner!


  • 1 German chocolate cake mix
  • 1 14oz. bag of caramels
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9×13 pan with nonstick spray; set aside. Prepare cake according to package directions. Pour half of the mix into the pan & bake for 15 minutes. While baking, combine the caramels, butter, & evaporated milk together & melt, stirring to incorporate. Pour melted mixture over cake, sprinkle chocolate chips, & pour remaining batter over mixture. Bake an additional 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle more chocolate chips on top while still warm.

Note: I’m fairly certain the original recipe included pecans as it was likely intended to be a turtle cake, but I omitted them. I think 1 cup of toasted chopped pecans would make a great addition now.

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Layered Mac’n’Cheese

This recipe has my husband’s name written all over it. In fact, he’s the sole reason I’ve made it. Aside for the servings we had for dinner, he ate all the leftovers.


  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside. Cook & drain macaroni according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground beef until done. Drain grease. Season with salt & pepper.

In saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, until bubbly. Stir in milk & cook for 5-6 minutes; stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Stir in chicken broth. Remove from heat; stir in cheese. Fold in macaroni.

Spoon 1/3 of macaroni mixture into casserole dish, top with half of beef, layer with another 1/3 of macaroni mixture, top with remaining beef, add remaining macaroni mixture & top with bread crumbs. Bake uncovered 25 – 30 minutes or until bread crumbs are golden brown.

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