Erica’s Apple Baked Brie

A friend of mine made this, so I feel at ease to boast and say, “Look at this gorgeous presentation!” I am a long-time fan of baked brie. If you are not familiar with the cheese, it is a soft French cow’s milk cheese, most often encased in an edible covering of white mold. Depending on the process it can range from very mild to a strong musky flavor. (I am not one to shy away from a pungent cheese). Usually I do mine wrapped in a puff pastry, but I love that Erica used a croissant pastry dough! It made for such a lovely crust! Of course the rustically sliced apples were beautiful too… and then the taste! Sweet apples and brown sugar with warm creamy brie on slices of fresh bread, grainy crackers, and ripe fruit. La vie en rose!

1 – 16 oz round Brie

2 cans Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

1 apple (plus 1/2 for decoration, optional)

4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) Butter

2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

1 Egg


Preheat oven to 350°.

Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Thinly slice or dice (your preference) the apple and sauté it in the butter. Add the brown sugar to the butter and apple mixture, and gently stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture has slightly thickened. Place the beautiful apple syrup on top of the Brie and wrap it in the crescent rolls. Whisk the egg and brush it top of the dough. Optionally, cut a few slices of apple for decoration and position them on top in a circular pattern. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until crust is golden brown and cheese is warmed through. Allow to set for a few minutes before serving. You want the cheese to be warm and spreadable, but not to ooze. Serve with slice rounds of bread, apple slices, and or crackers.


Bobby Flay’s Parker House Rolls

Ok, so before my blogging friends get excited for me that I have broken through my bread making barrier, let me come clean and say the chef (aka my sister) made these rolls. But I ate them, and they are perfect. So if your looking for a dinner roll to accompany your holiday dinner (or any meal) and you haven’t committed to the traditional Easter “hot cross buns,” then here is a winner! They are soft and just impeccably dense, flawless served warm with a pat of butter… it’s as if Bobby Flay knows what he is talking about.


As organic as possible: (my contribution)

1 1/2 cups milk
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for brushing
1/2 cup sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 cups all-purpose flour

Place milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and sugar and let cool. Dissolve yeast in warm water and let sit until foamy. Combine milk mixture, eggs, yeast, salt, and 1/2 of the flour in a mixer with the dough attachment and mix until smooth. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and stir until a smooth ball forms.

Remove from the bowl and knead by hand on a floured surface for about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 60 to 70 minutes. On a floured surface, punch down the dough and shape into desired shapes. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover again and let rise until doubled, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven 350 degrees F.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter before serving.

Click Parker House Roll  for original recipe from Bobby Flay and Food Network. And they also have a link to a video if you’d like further instruction!



Chocolate Chip-Cinnamon Muffins

It’s a well publicized fact (on my personal blog) that I am a breakfast person. I am also a coffee person, a baked good person, a chocolate person… I really enjoy a freshly baked muffin in the morning with my cup of joe. This hits the mark on a number of levels. And it’s so easy to whip up- to appease the craving. Please note: it’s very satisfying eating this warm, while the chocolate is still soft… The cinnamon adding just another little hint of depth. (It’s really like eating a cupcake. But don’t tell anyone.) So sit back and relax. You have my permission to take in the moment.

As organic as possible:

1/2 cup Butter, melted

3/4 cup Milk

2 Eggs, beaten

1 Tbsp Vanilla

2 cups Flour

3/4 cup Sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

11.5 oz Milk Chocolate Chips


Preheat the oven to 350°. Using non-stick spray or butter, grease a 12 cup muffin pan. (Or line with pretty papers)

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Remove about 3 tablespoons of the dry mixture and in a small bowl toss with the chocolate chips. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the butter, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly add the dry flour mixture and stir until combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pan, filling to the brim. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before indulgence.

Pour yourself a cup of coffee (or tea, or milk… or whatever you like to drink) and serve. Enjoy!


Fried Ravioli

Little soft pillows of creamy cheese… coated in a blend of bread crumbs, Parmesan, and Italian herbs… fried into crispy golden perfection… A little warm marinara for dipping on the side… It’s a good day… dolce vita.

As organic as possible:

2o oz. frozen Cheese Ravioli

3/4 cup Flour

5 eggs

8 oz Parmesan & Italian Herb Bread Crumbs

2 tsp salt

3-4 cups of frying oil (give or take depending on the size of your skillet) such as Canola or Peanut

Freshly grated Parmesan for serving


This is a perfect example of how prepping your work area first makes the job a lot easier. In 3 separate shallow baking dishes (brownie pans, small casserole dishes, etc.) place the flour, whisk the eggs, and toss the Parmesan & Herbed bread crumbs with the salt. Heat your oil on the high end of medium. The oil is ready when you sprinkle a small amount of flour in it and it starts to sizzle. You only need a couple inches of depth.

While you’re waiting for your oil to get hot, take the frozen ravioli and dip it in the egg, coating it completely. Dip the egg covered ravioli in the flour, covering it, and lightly shaking off the extra. Then put the ravioli back into the whisked eggs, covering it again, and lastly into the bread crumb mixture. Make sure to get every area of the cheesy pouch coated with the delicious salty herbed bread crumbs. Repeat. Make sure you have a a few ready to go before you start to fry.

When the oil is ready, fry the raviolis in batches of about 4 or 5 at a time (to not lower the temperature oil too much). After about a minute, flip the ravioli and let it cook another half to whole minute. Using a slotted spoon or something similar remove the raviolis to a paper towel-lined plate. When raviolis are fried, transfer to serving dish of your choice and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan, (maybe even freshly chopped parsley if you’re into that sort of thing) accompanied by some warmed marinara sauce for dipping. Buon Appetito!




The Richmond Avenue’s Black Bean Brownies

I love how Jasmine at The Richmond Avenue can take something that usually holds very little nutritional value and turn it into health food. (That’s what I call it, with complete justification.) In this case incorporating the black beans added protein and fiber. I can honestly say the brownies were moist and tasted like chocolate. So much so that my chocolate lover approved of them, and I felt guilt-free saying he could have them for an after school snack.

As organic as possible (from me as usual)

1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp instant coffee
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup coconut or olive oil
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 semi-sweet chocolate chips
Optional toppings: Chocolate Chips, Walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all ingredients (except for toppings and chocolate chips) in a food processor and blend until smooth. Mix in chocolate chips. Pour batter into greased baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

*Jasmine left this “1/4” chocolate chips up to personal interpretation and some might have opted for a 1/4 cup, but I knew it meant a 1/4 of the bag 😉

*As you can see I used walnuts on half, for the non-nut loving members of my family

The Pioneer Woman’s Sherried Tomato Soup

Sometimes you just can’t improve upon perfection. I keep wanting to change this… but I can’t, because I love it, just like this, every time. It’s creamy and rich, warm and soothing. I want to eat it on cold days, windy days, sad days, happy days, light days, each day… It’s brilliant for having company, because it makes the kind of statement that I want to send; “Thank you for coming. Here, have something lovely. Please come again.” It feels slightly elevated because of the sherry, all grown up- you know. But it captures the essence of childhood comfort food. It’s completely foolproof.

As organic as possible: (My spin)

1 medium white or yellow Onion, diced

6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) Butter

2 – 14.5 oz cans diced Tomatoes

1 – 46 oz bottle or can Tomato juice

3 to 6 Tbsp Sugar (She and I like 6)

1 or 2 Tbsp Chicken base or 3 Chicken bouillon cubes (I’ve used Beef in a pinch, and it was good too)

Freshly ground Black pepper

1 cup Sherry (optional) (but encouraged)

1 1/2 cups heavy Cream

1/4 cup flat-leaf Parsley*, chopped

1/4 chopped Basil*, chiffonade (or chopped)


Melt the butter in a large pot or dutch oven. Throw in the onion and cook until translucent.  Now dump in the diced tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the tomato juice. Next, add the sugar (it combats the acidity). Then add the chicken base and plenty of black pepper. Stir. Heat almost to a boil, then turn off the heat.

This part is completely ad-libbed; but, if I am making this ahead I like to make it to this point and keep it on low. Or if eating right away… continue.

Now it’s time for the sherry (and this I do play with depending on my crowd). Pour in the cream, stir. Add the herbs, more black pepper, give it a whirl and serve.

*Side note: I make this even without having fresh herbs at times, and it’s delicious.

Your guests are going to love you- you are going to love you.

The Pioneer Woman’s Sherried Tomato Soup


  • 1 medium white or yellow Onion, diced
  • 6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) Butter
  • 2 - 14.5 oz cans diced Tomatoes
  • 1 - 46 oz bottle or can Tomato juice
  • 3 to 6 Tbsp Sugar (She and I like 6)
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp Chicken base or 3 Chicken bouillon cubes (I've used Beef in a pinch, and it was good too)
  • Freshly ground Black pepper
  • 1 cup Sherry (optional) (but encouraged)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy Cream
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf Parsley*, chopped
  • 1/4 chopped Basil*, chiffonade (or chopped)


  1. Melt the butter in a large pot or dutch oven. Throw in the onion and cook until translucent.
  2. Now dump in the diced tomatoes and stir to combine.
  3. Add the tomato juice. Next, add the sugar (it combats the acidity).
  4. Then add the chicken base and plenty of black pepper.
  5. Stir. Heat almost to a boil, then turn off the heat.
  6. Now it's time for the sherry (and this I do play with depending on my crowd).
  7. Pour in the cream, stir. Add the herbs, more black pepper, give it a whirl and serve.


A Valentine’s Day Gift – Almost Nigella Lawson’s Everyday Brownies

It’s Valentine’s Day! Which is practically synonymous with chocolate and love. And I can’t think of a better way to highlight both than to make a batch of homemade brownies. As Nigella says in her book, “It’s not as if I were short of a brownie recipe or two.” I understand that the brownie (chocolatey, gooey, warm…) is highly subjective to personal taste. But I’m going to come right out and say it: This is the best from scratch brownie I’ve ever had.

Makes 16

1 1/4 sticks (10 Tbsp) unsalted Butter

1 3/4 cups (packed) light Brown Sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened Cocoa powder, sifted

1 cup all-purpose Flour

1 tsp Baking Soda

1/4 tsp Salt

4 Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla extract

Confectioner’s sugar, to dust (optional)

1 x aluminum foil-lined baking pan approx 13x9x2 (I used parchment paper)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Melt the butter over a gentle heat in a medium-sized saucepan.

When it’s melted, add the sugar, stirring with a wooden spoon (still over a low heat) to help it blend with the melted butter.

Whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt, and then stir into the pan; when mixed (this will be a very dry mixture, and not wholly blended at this stage), remove from the heat.

In a bowl or pitcher, whisk the eggs with the vanilla extract and then mix into the brownie mixture in the pan.

Quickly pour and scrape mixture into a foil-lined baking pan or disposable foil pan, spreading the mixture with a spatula, and cook in the preheated oven for approx. 20-25 minutes. It will look set, dark and dry on top, but when you feel the surface, you will sense it is still wibbly underneath and a cake tester will come out gungy. This is desirable.

Transfer the pan to a rack to cool a little before cutting into 16 pieces and dusting with confectioner’s sugar. I love these gorgeously warm. But then again, I love them cold, too. Actually, when cold they are properly speaking more brownie-like; gooily tender within and chewy on top.

I agree with Nigella completely about the texture… mine were perfectly done in 20 minutes. If you’d like, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter before dusting with powdered sugar and serving. Have a great day full of love (and chocolate)!


No-Bake Cookies

I know, I know- everyone has a no-bake cookie recipe. But I don’t think I could have a food blog without mentioning my family’s go-to cookie. In fact, this is my second published no-bake cookie recipe. My kids and I make these often, and like to play around with ingredients, chocolates, etc.. But this is the original tried and true recipe. I got it from a book, a gift- from a collection of recipes from the Trinity Wesleyan Church in Jackson, MI… but I know it by heart.

As organic as possible:

1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter (I like salted for this recipe) *And sometimes I add a pinch of salt anyway

2 cups Sugar

1/2 cup Milk

1/2 cup Cocoa Powder

1 tsp Vanilla

1/2 cup Peanut Butter (rounded)

3 cups Oats

In a large heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat butter, sugar, milk, and cocoa powder stirring often. Bring to boil and let it bubble for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla. When it’s all melted and mixed well, add the oats and stir until all of them are coated with chocolatey goodness. Use a spoon to drop little mounds onto sheets of waxed paper. Allow to cool and harden slightly before eating.

Happy Eating!

Marsh-bani Fruit Dip & Fruit Salad

It doesn’t get easier or tastier than this. Honestly it’s just delicious. The fruit dip is sweet and a little tangy, ridiculous when you think about how easy it is. Did I mention it is fat-free? Your taste buds will never know. The yogurt goodness coats the fruit nicely as a dip, but why stop there? The next thought was, oh my goodness, this needs to be in a fruit salad. And can I just tell you, it was stellar. As in: this is what fruit salad needs to taste like for the rest of my life. If you are having a party this weekend, it’s great to serve dip style or in individual cups. So because I really can’t decide which way I like more, I’m sharing both. Lastly, let me just add that if you have any left over, you should throw it into a morning smoothie, because it is awesome… and so are you.

1 cup Marshmallow Creme

1/2 cup Chobani Fat Free Vanilla Greek Yogurt

1 pint blueberries, rinsed and drained

2 pints strawberries, rinsed and drained

2 large bananas (or 3 medium), I leave mine in the peel and third or quarter

2 apples, cut into wedges (with a couple center slices reserved for garnish)

Dipping fruit of your choice

Garnish with apple slices and fresh mint (optional)

That’s it! Two parts marshmallow creme to 1 part Chobani Vanilla Greek yogurt. Brilliant! I used a hand held mixer (with a whisk attachment) to blend the marshmallow and yogurt in a medium sized bowl. If you are blending by hand, just mix until they are incorporated. Place the mixture into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (or until party time), and the marshmallow and yogurt blend will continue to infuse.


Now if you want to turn it into fruit salad…

Hull and half (or quarter depending on size) your strawberries, peel your bananas and cut them along with the apples into bite size pieces. Place the fruit into a bowl, drizzle with the Marsh-bani Fruit Dip and gently toss. I take the extra step of tossing the fruit salad in a separate bowl from the one I am serving in, especially for a party… but that’s up to you. The dip can be made a day in advance, but I would not dress and toss the salad until ready to serve. Present in a bowl with a serving spoon or in individual serving dishes for guests to help themselves. Indulge yourself in this sweet treat!




Life Bellissima’s Peanut Butter Fudge

I’ve only attempted fudge a few times in my life- and not very successfully. It seems like it should just be something in one’s repertoire. Like every homemaker makes fudge, at least in my mind. Once I even tried making a sugar-free fudge for my diabetic grandmother, which was a disaster. I live hours away from Mackinac Island, where they produce world famous and delicious fudge. It’s just like one of those things that has been a part of my life all of my life. Making good fudge is important! Is it a Michigan thing? Is any of this making sense?

Then came Anna of Life Bellissima. She shared a Peanut Butter Fudge recipe that was special to her, because it’s the same recipe her dad used to make. And I thought to myself, “I’m going to try again.” And I can now feel comfortable saying that I do make fudge- good fudge, successfully (at least one kind of it). I have my own family recipe! My husband and kids loved it, and my kids had fun helping me make it.

My favorite tip was that Anna said to pour it onto a plate! My first reaction was no way, it’s going to go everywhere and make a hot mess! But, mind you, I’ve never been successful at fudge making. And I thought about the times I’ve tried to dig it out of a baking dish… or try to prep a dish with wax paper. And I trust Anna, and if she said that’s how she does it, then by golly that’s how I’ll do it! I dumped that hot peanut butter fudge right onto a large (buttered) dinner plate, and it worked!

Without further ado, straight from Life Bellissima:

Sue’s Easy 15-Minute Peanut Butter Fudge

*I prefer to use organic ingredients

-In medium saucepan, combine:

1 cup raw cane sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

-Stir with a wooden spoon until mixture begins to softly boil. Cook to 240 degrees. (For some reason, mine tends to heat fairly quickly, and I take it off of the burner at 230 degrees.)

-Remove from heat, and add:

1 cup mini marshmallows (or homemade marshmallow recipe here)

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

-Mix with a wooden spoon for several minutes. Candy will become creamy, thicken and start to lose it’s gloss.

-Spread onto a buttered dish (Dad and I always used a large dinner plate.)

-This recipe can easily be doubled.

Thank you Anna for a great new recipe!

And I’ve had a request for Life Bellissima’s Homemade Marshmallow recipe too. Which she got from, who got the no-fail recipe from her mother-in-law, Mabel’s cookbook. Don’t you just love modern conveniences? She includes some great step-by-step photos too. (Just click on the website above!)