Start A Tradition

Hot Chocolate Bar

If not a tradition why not create sweet memories. This is so easy and fun. Adults will enjoy it too.

My first exposure to making hot chocolate from a  chocolate candy bar came from viewing an episode of Family Affair, a 1960’s TV series. Mr. French, Uncle Bill’s butler, is snow bound in Vermont with Uncle Bill’s niece and nephew, Buffy and Jody. And the only food they have is a chocolate candy bar. Yep, Mr. French makes hot chocolate with the candy bar and water.

I hope you will enjoy this richer version of hot chocolate.

If not into hot chocolate the tips on whipped cream may be new to you.

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A Little Surprise In A Much Loved Cookie

Mexican Wedding Cakes With Chocolate Surprise

Chocolate Surprise Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies

Try this Mexican Wedding Cake Cookie with a milk chocolate kiss, my favorite! This is one of those cookies that has a long history with me. My first experience with this recipe was not really appreciated. And in fact, for the reasons this cookie is popular, subtle flavor with extraordinary richness, my parents found it difficult to enjoy. It was just not a chocolate chip, peanut butter or oatmeal cookie. But after years of making these I was asked to bake them, dozens and dozens, for a reception my mother was giving. This cookie now surpasses many other cookies in popularity for my family.

I added a chocolate kiss to the center of this cookie to surprise my very young children. It isn’t a practice now. In fact, the children prefer the Mexican Wedding Cake without alteration!

Today I decided to try dark chocolate. To my surprise the dark chocolate steals the taste of the cookie. I recommend a milk chocolate instead. And baking a few without this alteration for the purists.

This is another recipe where you are likely to have all the ingredients in your pantry most of the time!

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A Family or Company Meal

Enchilada Taco dinner and Wine

Enchilada Casserole, Taco Salad, and Wine

Pair this casual dinner with a dry or sweet Rose’, or beer or even a skinny Margarita. Sounds a bit like summer! Just a bit of fun before slipping into the icy cold of winter. No intense spiciness here. This enchilada casserole can be a welcome in cold weather too … with rice and beans. Or for a brunch!

For those intense spicy meals wines with higher alcohol content are not suggested nor are expensive reds. The expensive reds will be clouded by the spiciness. And alcohol adds fuel to the fire of spice. FYI: Dry Rose’ generally has a higher alcohol content than the sweeter variety.

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A Big Taste Casserole With A Little Bite

Tuna Chicken or Turkey Casserole

A quickie meal, Tuna Chicken or Turkey Casserole, with a rich taste and a hint of heat. In the 50’s and early 60’s we were not a casserole family at all. In fact, I don’t remember having a meal with a casserole as a main dish until I discovered them. My mother had a true prejudice for these dishes … Until she tasted my tuna casserole! I hope you will enjoy it too!

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 Apple Pie at its Best!

Apple Pie

As American as Apple Pie…. That brings about emotion, doesn’t it? And in our family we love our apple pie … not necessarily to just eat. Especially our Favorite French Apple Pie! I started baking pies as a preteen … Not surprising to my children. But what they don’t know … my father was the first to show me how to bake an apple pie. Now this was odd in any day! My father was an athlete, always golfing in his spare time. And had never shown any interest in cooking before this … other than barbecue. But his mother, my Grandmother Rose, was always in the kitchen. So, I concluded he was quietly observant as a young boy. And craving apple pie as he remembered it. His most important step was to precook the apples to assure that they would be fully cooked after baking. What my son, Stephen, likes to refer to as the applesauce pie. Stephen didn’t taste my dad’s pie and I don’t use this method. But I do like to bake my apple pie until the apples are no longer al dente. (Al dente is not used to describe fruit? Oop.) This is the applesauce bake. You can be sure when I bake this for Stephen’s birthday I strive to keep the apples a little firm. This is sometimes done by baking the pie less time, or using 3 different apple types that cook at different rates. Oh, one last trick … not cutting the apples pieces smaller than 1/8 of a large apple. But the tenderness of the cooked apples is not the only thing that comes under scrutiny. The crust … two crust versus one, versus French topping (brown sugar vs white, flour vs oatmeal), versus butter crust, vs vodka crust, vs vegetable shortening crust. You get the picture.

Apple Pie






I just love this pie!

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London Broil Recipe – Dinner Menu for Family & Friends

Economical Dinner Nice Enough for Birthdays

London Broil Recipe - Dinner Menu

Meat and Potatoes, these guys are still around! And this one is having a birthday today. This London broil meal can be fixed in a jiffy. And is so economical … not to worry about how many guests he brings! Pair it with a good tasting economical wine. This is a London Broil Complete Dinner for Four!

Good cheap wine choices are out there, and it makes good sense to pair this meal with a value wine instead of something you would serve with filet mignon. The wine … spicy Cline zinfandel. All this is a hungry man’s delight! Oh, and French apple pie for dessert!

Three recipes here … Well, four if you include the mushrooms smothering the meat … London broil with sautéed mushrooms, twice baked potatoes, and  balsamic salad dressing.

The sequence of putting the meal together could go like this.

  • Marinate the meat overnight
  • Make salad dressing up to the day ahead
  • Potatoes can be made the morning of the dinner. Baking for the last time just before serving.
  • Put the salad together the morning or afternoon on the same day. Add tomatoes and avocado, if using, as well as dressing just before serving.
  • Prepare the mushrooms at the time of the meat being broiled.
  • Uncork your value wine while the meat is broiling. Two bottles for 4 people. Just 20 bucks for two bottles of this wine.

Come join us, wine or beer or even diet cola to celebrate Stephen’s birthday!

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A Delicious Substitute Becomes a Favorite

Chocolate and Nut Toffee Bars

What do you do when the family is expecting chocolate chip cookies tonight but the chickens haven’t laid because they’ve decided it’s winter already and you have yet to install your chicken coop light to fool them? Whoa! And you don’t want to disappoint your grandchildren who have mistaken you for a gourmet cook! Chocolate & Walnut Toffee Bars!

On a twenty dollar weekly budget in the late 60’s, substitution became common place. I hate to think back to what I used for butter. I still have my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, thank you Margaret, from the same era. This cookie is inspired by the recipe on page 151, Toffee Bars. The ingredients are similar to those of a chocolate chip cookie recipe … Omit the egg, soda, and white sugar, and voila, you have Chocolate & Walnut Toffee Bars.

You can double the recipe. Our family is into hot from the oven. So, I generally opt for a smaller batch. This recipe makes 16 two inch bars if an 8″ by 8″ baking pan is used.

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A Family’s Style macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

With one of the most popular instant macaroni and cheese products changing their recipe this seemed to be the perfect time to introduce my instant, sorta, Macaroni and Cheese.

My first two children rarely experienced instant box dinners. These box mixes were not plentiful in the day. And everyone in my family was a scratch cook, including my dad … apple pie and Portuguese beans. It was hard to take the step.

When my next two children became toddlers more than ten years later the choices for these instant meals had grown into quite a selection and had a popular following. While the older children loved home cooked the younger children definitely had different food likes and dislikes. So, while i was busy working nights on the oncology floor and my husband was busy by day prosecuting a lengthy infamous trial were we serving this out of a box to the children? The younger ones, maybe. Or maybe the taste for this came along in their college days.

There is definitely a smoothness, creaminess, that is hard to achieve with some cheeses … Something that is easily achieved with a box mix. But this is just what makes scratch recipes interesting … The ability to change up texture and taste.

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