Monthly Archives: March 2016

Lemon Ice Box Pie


This year I was in charge of the pies and rolls for Easter. My mom hosted Easter dinner and allowed me to help with these few items to help her in the kitchen.  I love baking so I was anxious  to try a few new recipes.  

I love using my grandma’s pie dish so I was pleased to make the pies. It makes me feel like she was with us this year sharing the meal and memories.



16 Lemon Flavored Oreos

3 TB unsalted butter, melted


1 (8 ounce) packet of 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature

1 can (14 oz) of sweetened skim condensed milk

1/4 cup of egg white substitute

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, plus 3 TB boiled (this will take about 3 lemons)

1 tsp lemon zest

2 tsp gelatin


1. Place the Oreos in the food processor and pulse. Slowly add the butter and incorporate.

2. Place the mixture into a standard pie dish and press into dish. Place the dish into the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least 30 minutes.

3. In the meantime prepare the filling. In stand mixer beat with paddle attachment the cream cheese, egg substitute and sweetened condensed milk.

4. Mix 3 TB of the hot lemon juice and dissolve the gelatin in the hot juice. Mix the gelatin until it dissolved. Set aside.

5. Add in the lemon juice and zest to the cream cheese mixture, then fold in the gelatin mixture.

6. Pour the filling into the pie dish, cover with saran wrap and allow to chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Keep chilled prior to serving




Eastermallow Popcorn Treat



This year my husband and I tried to make most of our Easter goodies from scratch for our family’s Easter baskets.  Let’s just say these Easter bunnies have been busy! 


14 cups of freshly popped popcorn

Salt to taste 

14 oz marshmallows fluff

1 TB unsalted butter


1. In a very large microwavable safe bowl place marshmallow fluff and butter. 

2. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Microwave for an additional 30 seconds & stir. 

3. Slowly add the popcorn and fold the popcorn into the fluff by using a spatula. Caution; the mixture will be very sticky. A helper in the kitchen is ideal for this process. Spread the popcorn onto parchment paper. 

4. Sprinkle with your choice of sprinkles. We used a whole container of large egg sprinkles. 

5. Allow the sticky popcorn to set for two to three hours. Cover with parchment paper. 

6. Place the popcorn mixture into plastic baggies or glass jars. 


Reuben Pizza

Reuben Pizza


We had some leftover corned beef last week from St. Patrick’s Day and the question was, how could I repurpose it?  I made a super easy corn-beef recipe in my pressure cooker, which I am starting to really like for it’s quick cook times. Now, I still love my crockpot but if you are pinched for time the pressure cooker is the way to go. Since St. Patrick’s day was Thursday this year, the pressure cooker had to be used since I ran to the store after work to purchase the meat and did not have time to let it go low and slow in the crock pot.

My husband loves Rueben’s and Pizza. This is a perfect combo to use the leftovers in a fun way. We generally make a pizza once a week using prepared homemade dough. I usually make 2-4 dough recipes at one time and portion them off and freeze them to last several weeks. It is so inexpensive to make your own dough and it tastes 100% better than the stuff in a can or that’s delivered. You can also buy  fresh dough at most deli’s for 1-2 $ a lb. That is if you don’t want to make the dough yourself. Or you can buy frozen dough as well, which can cost just about the same as the fresh; however, the frozen dough you can generally find a coupon in the weekly paper.

Predirections: Preheat oven to 500 degrees.


1 lb of prepared dough, if using frozen make sure it is thawed, I like to pull my out a day in advance

3-4 T Fat Free Thousand Island Dressing

6-7 slices Swiss Cheese, Sliced Thin

1/2-2/3  Cup Sauerkraut (drained very well)

6-8 1/4′ Slices of Leftover Corned Beef (You can always dice this up int small bits it you prefer)

2 tsp. Caraway Seeds


  1. Place the dough in a deep dish stoneware dish, spread the dough to the sides and form edges,
  2. Place on top of the dough the thousand island dressing. Spread the dressing to the sides leaving an 1 inch rim of the dough. Sprinkle with caraway seeds.
  3. Place evenly small amounts of sauerkraut on top of the dressing.
  4. Sporadically place the sliced meat over the sauerkraut and place the dish in the oven. Reduce the temperature to 450 degrees and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the dish from the oven and layer with cheese and return to oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
  6. Place on cutting board and divide into 6 slices. Enjoy!




Slow Cooked Black Beans Venezuelan Style

black bean


I love beans and legumes, they are superfoods, these powerful vegetables contain natural sources of antioxidants and photochemicals. The American Dietary Guidelines recommend Americans consume at least 3 1/2 cups weekly of beans, which equals out to 1/2 cup daily. This is so easy to do. I add them to my salads, quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos, pastas, puree them to make dips for my carrots and snap peas. I also puree them to add to baked goods to add creaminess and moisture. I place the hummus on the top of pizza instead of tradition tomato sauce on pizza.

Beans contain more protein per serving than any other vegetable.  They are a cheaper source of protein compared to animal products.  I love that beans are naturally sodium free and fat free.  Plus these powerful beans are high in fiber to keep us regular.

I personally am not a huge fan of canned beans unless they are a high quality bean brand like Bushes Beans.  That said canned beans contain a high amount of sodium. I specifically made these low in sodium for my grandpa, so they are heart healthy for all. If you wish and you do not follow a low sodium diet you can add more salt to these beans. If you cannot make a fresh batch, I honestly would rather have frozen.This black bean recipe is so easy and inexpensive, you will question your next canned bean purchase.

The following recipe was generously provided to me by our dear friend from Venezuela, she makes the best black beans ever. We used to live next door; however, we moved and I have been craving them! We would always trade my sweet baked goods for her Venezuelan dishes. Luckily she provided me with her recipe to have whenever I want.

This recipe yields 2 qts of beans


2 Bags of dried Black Beans, rinsed and strained (only about $0.80 to $1.00 a bag)

1/2 Yellow onion

6 cloves of garlic


16 ounces Very Low Sodium Vegetable Stock or homemade, or more water

Additional (part two of the recipe)

1 yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, optional

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 Tsp cumin

Salt to taste

Pepper, freshly cracked

4 qt slow cooker


  1. Place  1/2 of onion, whole garlic cloves, & beans in a 4 qt slow cooker. Cover with enough water to reach above the beans about an inch. Place the slow cooker on warm for 12 hours. We did this overnight.
  2. After 12 hours has elapsed turn the cooker to low. You may need to add more water and this where you need to add the vegetable stock. Allow the beans to cook for 6 to 8 more hours.
  3. After the beans are tender and to your liking, I like mine slightly firm (not mushy), remove the 1/2 piece of onion and the garlic cloves.
  4. Spray a 10 inch saute pan with cooking spray and saute up the red pepper, garlic, cumin, pepper, and onion. Cook vegetables until translucent. Add the sautéed vegetables to the beans,  stir, cover ,and allow to cook for 10 more minutes on low.
  5. Enjoy!
  6. Serve with quinoa or rice. Place beans in a salad or in enchiladas or quesadillas or my most recent post Tex Mex Lasagna. Also you could puree these beans in a high power blender to make black bean hummus dip to spread on pizza or dip your veggies into it for a snack.




Tex Mex Chicken and Black Bean Lasagna



We had some leftovers of fajita chicken from dinner the other night & my leftover slow cooked black beans in the refrigerator. I used to make a dish like this when my husband and I were first married. I am not sure why I stopped making this lasagna. I think more than likely it was because most recipes yield 12 servings or call for a 9 by 13 inch pan. I tailored this recipe to fit an 8 by 8 for smaller families and/or couples.

We always have a stack of locally made, in the strip district, handmade tortilla shells frozen. One item I try to keep in the house at all times is tortillas. They freeze very well if you place a small piece of parchment paper in between each tortilla. Tortilla shells are very versatile. You can make so many meals with them from pizzas to burritos, to chips, to enchiladas to sandwiches…. The list goes on. One of my new favorites is lasagna. I love being resourceful with leftovers and what better way then throwing everything into a lasagna.

This recipe yields 6-9 servings


1- 4 to 6 oz chicken breast grilled with fajita seasoning (which equals about 1 3/4 cup shredded or chopped)

4 – 8 inch whole wheat tortillas (plus one for corners)

1 tsp fajita seasoning

6 TB chipotle salsa (I use Trader Joe’s when I don’t have fresh on hand)

6 TB black beans ( I used my slow cooked homemade black beans for this recipe)

2 TB pickled jalapeños (chopped), optional

1 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce, plus more if you like a wet lasagna

1 1/2 cup of Mexican blend shredded cheese

1/4 cup of fat free ricotta cheese

2/3 cup fat free cottage cheese

1 TB fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

2 green onions, chopped

8 by 8 glass baking dish



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree. Take an 8 by 8 dish and cover the bottom with 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of enchilada sauce. Place one of the tortillas in the middle of the dish. If you desire cut corners of the scrap tortilla to cover the corners of the pan. This will make sure your dish goes to the edges for a nicer appearance.  Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl mix cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, and fajitas seasoning. Place half of the cottage cheese mixture onto the tortilla shell in the baking pan & spread the cheese mixture evenly. Take 3 TB of salsa & 3 TB of black beans and evenly distribute onto of the cottage cheese spread. Sprinkle with 1/2 the chicken & 1/4 cup of Mexican cheese blend. Top with 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of the enchilada sauce. Spread everything together evenly using a spatula.
  3.  Repeat previous steps by placing down another tortilla shell over the enchilada sauce and cuting corners of the scrap tortilla to cover the corners of the edges of the pan where the circle shell did not cover.  Add the remainder of the cottage cheese mixture,  & spread evenly. Add the black beans, & salsa and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle with remaining chicken and 1/4 cup of shredded Mexican Cheese. Pour 1/4-1/3 cup of enchilada sauce over the chicken and cheese, spread layer evenly, use spatula to make spread coat to  the edges.
  4. Top the enchilada sauce with one more tortilla shell, cover the corners with scraps. I like to use my kitchen sheers to cut out perfect scraps for the edges. Top with 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce and spread evenly. Cover evenly the sauce with  3/4 to 1 cup of shredded Mexican Cheese. Sprinkle with chopped jalapeños. Bake uncovered for 3o minutes at 350 degrees.
  5. Once the lasagna comes out of the oven let rest for 10 minutes prior to cutting into. This will help prevent it from falling apart. Sprinkle with chopped green onion & fresh cilantro.








Grandma Harper’s Pizzelles Recipe


Pizzelles are a beloved and versatile cookie. You can make just about any flavor you can image. Traditional flavors  are anise, vanilla, almond and lemon. There is actually a cookie shop back home that makes all different kinds of flavors from margarita to key lime, so if you are turning your nose up to these cookies reconsider a nontraditional  flavor.

As a child, I can remember my Grandma Harper always having these delectable cookies around for the holiday. I recently was able to go through some of her recipes and lucky stumbled across this classic treasure. Her recipe as you can see below calls for anise and also anisette liquor.

IMG_5165 2


My husband and I were making these last night, honestly it is a two person task as fast as these have to bake in the press. The pizzelle iron we were graciously able to use had 4 pizzelles molds, which did cut some of the time in half. My grandfather let us borrow his 1986 iron which still was packaged nicely in the orginial box for preservation. A habit I have adopted but never knew, who I inherited that from, but now do and I am thankful for. I must say items not used every day last better kept in boxes and stack easier for storage.

By using my Grandma and Grandpa’s Sears and Roebuck Counter Craft Waffle Baker-International Dessert- Pizzelle Maker, it made me feel like she was with us pressing out the cookies. Even though I do have to mention, this was my first encounter making these cookies, which caused me slight stress trying to perfect them I still felt pleasure in creating them with her recipe & iron.


This recipe yields 56 standard size pizzelles


6 Eggs

1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar

4 tsp baking powder

2 TB vanilla extract or anise

1/2 cup annisette

3 1/2 cups AP flour

1 cup of unsalted butter (grandma used margarine for everything): melted and allow to cool





Beat eggs, add sugar gradually. Beat until smooth. Add cooled melted margarine (or butter)and anise. Sift flour and baking powder, add to eggs, mix anisette. Dough will be sticky enough to drop by teaspoon onto hot iron. Follow manufacturers directions. These gems in this device took only 30 to 35 seconds. Don’t use oil substitute per grandma. 

Helpful hint: Now, Grandma’s recipe directions were never elaborate. So I did beat the eggs in a standing mixer with whisk attachment. I sifted the flour with baking powder on parchment paper, which makes it very easy to pour into the mixing bowl without a mess and you don’t have to clean another bowl (hurrah) ! Also, our batter was slightly thick so it took about 1 heaping tablespoon which make our pizzelles thicker. So we will have to thin the batter more next time.






Salted Caramel Coffee Creamer


This past weekend I made a caramel apple cheesecake with a blondie bottom crust.

 I had some leftover homemade caramel from the recipe. I don’t like things to go to waste & decided I wanted to make one of my husbands favorite flavors of coffee creamer with the leftovers. 

This recipe makes 24 ounces of coffee creamer. 

1/2 cup skim milk

1 cup fat free half and half 

1 can sweetened condensed fat free (14 oz)

1/3 cup homemade caramel sauce

1 tb pure vanilla extract 

1 tsp finely ground espresso powder

Pinch kosher salt

1. In a 2 qt sauce pan place all the ingredients except for the vanilla and turn the temperature to medium to medium high heat. Whisk the liquid mixture  every 30-60 seconds.

2. Once the mixture ever so slightly starts to boil remove from heat and place in large mason jar and add vanilla and gently shake. Cover and let cool in refrigerator. 

3. Shake well befor each use.