Bread and Butter Pickles

Growing up I was not much of a pickle fan, but when I met my husband’s Grandma Dale, and tried her bread and butter pickles, I was converted. They are so tasty, and so good with just about anything. It only took me 15 years, but I finally got them here on the site.

  • 4 pounds pickling cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 green (or red) bell peppers, chopped or sliced
  • 1/2 cup canning or kosher salt
  • Ice cubes

For the Pickling Liquid

  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 5 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seed

Combine cucumbers, onion, peppers in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and cover with ice cubes. Let stand for 3 hours. Rinse and drain very well. Combine all remaining ingredients for the syrup in a large pan. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Fill each sterile jar with vegetables and fill jar with syrup, leaving 1/4 inch headroom. Remove air bubbles with a plastic knife inserted around the inside of each jar. Wipe the rim with a clean cloth. Put the lids and rings on finger tight. Process the pints in boiling water for 15 minutes. Label when the jars have sealed and cooled.

Summer Strawberry Cake

I started following a food blogger named Smitten Kitchen about 6 months ago and one of the things I like about her is that she makes recipes with simple ingredients, but they have a sophistication to them that takes it to the next level. This recipe is one such example. Very simple, but very tasty. Add to that the fact that our strawberry harvest was excellent this past June and you have a winner.

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for the top
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 10″ pie pan, or 9″ deep dish pie pan. Whisk flour or flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth. Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer (though I had to overlap a few to get them all in). Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries. Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given.) Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with lightly whipped cream.

Toasted Coconut Dutch Baby

While I was visiting family in Dallas a couple of years ago I found a cookbook by the food blogger Joy the Baker. It said it was a celebration of butter and sugar and I can’t think of a better recipe to represent that than her toasted coconut Dutch baby. The Dutch baby is a cross between a pancake and a crepe and is baked in a piping hot cast iron skillet. It is so delicious it doesn’t even need syrup, although I like mine with a dollop of Cool Whip!

  • 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature*
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup butter

Place your cast iron skillet on a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Spread coconut in a thin layer in a skillet over medium heat and stir until the coconut starts to brown. Make sure to keep a close eye on this because it can go from toasted to burned in seconds! Let it cool while you gather the rest of your ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, salt and 2 tablespoons of cooled coconut. In a separate medium bowl whisk your eggs and sugar together until thick and pale. Add milk and whisk to combine. Add the milk mixture, all at once, to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Mixture will be thin. Carefully pull the rack out of your oven and put the butter in the pan to melt. As soon as the butter has melted, swirl the pan so it coats the sides and bottom. Pour the pancake batter over the melted butter and immediately return to the oven. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until browned and puffed along the sides and center of the pan. While the pancake bakes prepare any fruit you would like to serve with it, banana and pineapple go really well!. Once baked, remove from the oven and top with your choice of fruit and remaining toasted coconut. Slice into thick wedges, served with syrup of your choice.

*To speed up getting your eggs to room temperature, place them in a container of warm (not hot) water. In just a couple of minutes they will be room temp!

Smore’s Cookies

I was perusing Pinterest a couple of days ago and found a recipe for Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip cookies that looked intriguing. After reading the ingredient list and seeing the 3 cups of graham cracker crumbs I knew I needed to add in marshmallows and use chocolate chunks and make this a smores cookie. It was a super delicious cookie and knew it needed to be saved here on the website.

  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and creamy. Add vanilla and eggs to butter mixture and beat again until well combined. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, increasing speed as needed. Mix only until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and marshmallows, mixing to evenly distribute. (The cookie dough may feel drier than most other chocolate chip cookie batters, but it should hold together if you press it with your fingers.) Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, place balls of cookie dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. Fold a marshmallow on top of the cookie dough to make it look pretty. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. The edges of the cookies will be slightly golden and the centers still soft. Cool cookies on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling. (The cookies will firm up as they cool.)

Dutch Butter Squares

One of the very first cookies I made growing up was snickerdoodles, and the recipe came from a Southern Living Christmas Cookies cookbook. The other day I took it out and decided I would try a recipe from it. The very first recipe in the book was this shortbread recipe and boy is it good. I had to give it all away otherwise I would’ve eaten the whole pan. I dipped half of the batch in chocolate, but they are equally good on their own.

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Cream butter in a large mixing bowl; gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg, and beat well. Gradually stir in flour, blending well (dough will be sticky). Evenly press the dough in a lined, well-greased 9×13 pan. Place pans in a cold oven. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. (Mine took 30 minutes) Remove from oven and cut into 2″ squares while warm.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

My husband and I enjoy watching home renovation shows and one of the ones we enjoy is Home Town. A couple of episodes back they shared a recipe for pound cake that I knew I had to try. It was super delicious but make sure to cook it long enough. I pulled mine out after an hour and a half and it still wasn’t quite done in the middle. I think next time I’ll put it in loaf pans instead of a Bundt pan.

  • 3 sticks of butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups flour

Cream together the butter, sugar and cream cheese until well combined. Add in the eggs and vanilla. Mix in the flour and salt until well combined. Put in a well-greased Bundt pan or two loaf pans. Put in a cold oven and cook at 300 for at least an hour and a half or until done.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe comes out of the Joy the Baker cookbook. I know, you’re thinking, another chocolate chip cookie but the thing that intrigued me about this recipe was the addition of some more uncommon ingredients, like molasses. I made it my own by adding in nonfat milk powder like I have been doing in all my other baked goods, which just pushed it over the top. This cookie was super delicious and while it was slightly more involved than some of my chocolate chip cookies it was totally worth it.

  • 1 cup (2 sticks), plus 1 tablespoon of butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 heaping teaspoon nonfat dry milk powder, optional
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Brown 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat in a shallow sauce pan, stirring constantly. Once browned, transfer to a bowl and stick in the fridge or freezer to cool off. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the remaining 1 stick of butter with sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the vanilla extract and molasses and beat until incorporated. Once the brown butter has cooled slightly (I found it had cooled enough in the freezer that by the time I had mixed in the ingredients preceding this), add to the mixer along with the brown sugar and mix for about 2 minutes. Add in the egg and yolk and beat for 1 more minute. Add in your dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated, then add in your chocolate chips and pecans. Cover the bowl and refrigerate while your oven preheats to 375. Once the oven has preheated, line your baking sheets with parchment paper. I used my 2 tablespoon scoop and got 24 cookies. Bake for 12-14 minutes, rotating halfway, until the cookies are lightly browned on the outside, but still a little soft in the center. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then move them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

*If you are like me and are wanting to bake cookies but don’t have softened butter, just grate your butter straight out of the fridge with a cheese grater. You will almost instantly have softened butter!

Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins

I am one of those people that loves having buttermilk in the fridge, but can never seem to use all of it before it expires. Such a happenstance occurred last month and I googled the best way to use up a lot of buttermilk. This recipe popped up because it uses a whole cup of buttermilk and who doesn’t love a blueberry muffin. This recipe is a winner in so many ways, but I think my favorite part is the way these muffins bake up. Because you fill it to the top of the pan with batter, you get this beautiful looking muffin that you can’t help but want to eat.

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons nonfat dry milk powder*
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • coarse sparkling sugar to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a standard size muffin tin with parchment paper liners and spray each one with nonstick spray for baking (If the muffins are just for your family to save time just generously spray your muffin tin with baking spray). In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nonfat dry milk powder. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually mix the buttermilk into the flour mixture, stirring gently and being careful not to over-mix. Gently fold the blueberries into the batter. Use a large scoop to divide the batter evenly into each muffin well. They will be filled to the very top. Sprinkle generously with sparkling sugar! Bake for 22-26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then transfer to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

*I have started adding nonfat dry milk powder to all my baked goods and it adds just a little something something to my desserts. It is entirely optional though so if you don’t have any the muffins will still be delicious.

Hot Buttered Churro Cheerios

I am always on the lookout for new finger foods to make for my kids to snack on. I love to munch on plain Cheerios, but when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. I made the first batch yesterday and it was gone in under an hour. My youngest made it into a cereal and my teenage son and his friend just ate it by the handful. It is also incredibly versatile. This recipe calls for cinnamon sugar, but you could easily make a savory version with a ranch packet, or a pumpkin pie version with pumpkin pie spice instead of just cinnamon.

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups Cheerios
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a large skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add in the vanilla, then the Cheerios. Stir and cook for 5 minutes, or until the cereal is nicely toasted. Once toasted, pour the cereal into a large bowl and toss in the cinnamon sugar.

Bulldog Brittle

Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE baking shows. It’s one of my favorite things about Christmas time; there are so many holiday themed baking shows to enjoy. This past Christmas Food Network had a Kid’s Holiday Baking Championship special, and on it, one of the contestants made bulldog brittle. According to this girl, it’s a Georgian speciality, hence bulldog (the bulldog being University of Georgia’s mascot). It looked so simple and the judges raved about it so I knew I needed to try it. I found a couple recipes online and decided to use all butter and white sugar to make mine. Some recipes call for a stick of margarine and a stick of butter, some called for brown sugar, but I knew I didn’t want a toffee flavor in this brittle so white sugar was the winner. All in all I was really happy with this recipe. It would make a great gift for teachers or holiday goodie bags.

  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 box graham crackers

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 10×15 rimmed baking sheet with foil. Lay out your graham crackers, filling as much of the pan as possible. In a saucepan, melt your butter over medium heat. After the butter is melted, add in your sugar, stirring constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for two minutes. Take the mixture off the heat and add in the pecans. With a large spoon, spoon the mixture of the graham crackers, trying to get it as evenly distributed as possible. Bake for 10-12 minutes. When it looks caramelized and gooey, take the pan out of the oven and let it cool completely. Break into pieces and serve once completely cooled.