Marble Loaf

This is a simple, tasty snack which can be jazzed up by adding some ice cream on the side.  I like it with a cup of hot tea or strong coffee. My sister sifts confectioners sugar and cocoa powder over her slice.

Make the chocolate syrup first:
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil (NOT olive oil)

Now make the batter:
1-1/3 cups sugar
3/4 cup (12 Tbsp.) softened, unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a loaf pan. Take out all the ingredients and set on the counter to come to room temperature for about 20-30 minutes while your oven preheats.

Into a medium sized bowl, whisk together the syrup ingredients and set aside.

Into a large bowl, using a blender or you can even use a food processor, cream the sugar and butter for about 1 minute, add the eggs and vanilla, then add the dry ingredients and blend for about 1 minutes. Add the milk and blend well. Scoop out 1 cup of this batter and whisk into the chocolate batter, then spread the rest of this yellow batter into the loaf pan. Now plop the chocolate batter on top. Using a butter knife inserted into the batter, swirl the knife around.

Place in the oven for 30 minutes; reduce temp to 325 and bake 30-40 minutes more, or until a knife inserted near the middle comes out with a few crumbs – keep an eye on it. Cool for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges and unmold it onto a plate.


Cheesecake is so easy to make and this is a basic, plain cheesecake that doesn’t have a crust because they become moist the next day. Also, it needs at least a 12 hour fridge set so plan on making this a day in advance; it’s well worth the wait. Sprinkling the graham cracker crumbs on top of each individual piece is a crust alternative.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a springform pan. Wrap the springform pan in a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil – you will be baking the cake in a water bath (no cracks) and this will prevent spillages. Place the wrapped springform pan inside a larger pan with high sides (such as a roasting pan).

Take the cream cheese, eggs & sour cream out of the fridge and place them on the counter while the oven preheats. This will take at least 30 minutes.

2 8 oz. pkgs. Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese (NOT lite, NOT low fat)
1 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 large eggs
3 Tbsp. lemon juice (fresh is best)
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (not imitation, please)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 cups sour cream

In a large mixing bowl (a heavy duty mixer works well here) beat the cream cheese and sugar until they are very smooth – this takes about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the cornstarch, then add the eggs 1 at a time and beat for the slow count of 10 after each one – scraping down the mixing bowl as needed. Now add the lemon juice, vanilla and salt and beat these just until they are incorporated. Beat in the sour cream just until it is blended. Don’t over beat – this will create air bubbles.
Pour the batter into the pan. Slowly and gently fill the larger pan with hot water until it comes about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Place the whole thing into the oven and bake for 45 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN. After 45 minutes, turn off the oven and let the cake sit in the closed oven for 1 hour.

Remove springform pan to a rack so it can cool – takes about 2-3 hours. Then cover (remove the foil and place springform on a plate, then place another plate on top of the pan; I used to cover with plastic, but moisture droplets formed and plopped on top of the cheesecake, so I improvised) and place in the fridge at least overnight so it can set.

Taste of Heaven

If Heaven were made of chocolate, then you could eat this whenever you wanted. It’s so versatile that it will become your own Taste of Heaven. It’s easy and pleasing for company or outdoor eating.

1 box fudge brownie mix – baked & cooled (or make my brownies)
1 box any flavor prepared and cooled instant pudding mix (or make my microwave pudding)
1 container tub of Cool-Whip (or whip up a batch of fresh from heavy cream)
Heath bar bits, or any choice of toppings, sprinkles, mini-chips, peanuts, etc. you wish

Into a trifle dish or large decorative bowl (preferably clear glass for the visual) break up 1/3 of the brownies, plop on 1/3 of the pudding, plop on 1/3 of the Cool-Whip, then layer these 2 more times, ending with Cool-Whip. Sprinkle on topping choice, refrigerate for just about 10 minutes before you place in decorative serving dishes. Kick off your shoes and enjoy!

Easy Chocolate Cake

img_0249.jpgI do take shortcuts whenever I can, and this cake is one of them. It’s a tweaked cake box mix recipe that’s fast and great tasting. If you don’t care for white chocolate drizzled over top, you can substitute confectioners’ sugar sprinkled on through a sifter. Whatever works for you is what you should do. Of course some ice cream on the side would also work. Hmmm.

1 packaged box cake mix – I used Betty Crocker Super Moist Devil’s Food
1 box (3.9 oz.) Jell-O Instant Chocolate Pudding
4 large eggs
3/4 cup black coffee – (cool to cold, not hot)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream (Not the lite variety)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a Bundt pan.

Into a large mixer bowl, place everything up to the white chips; with an electric mixer beat at high speed for two full minutes. Pour batter into pan and bake for about 40 minutes – or until a toothpick comes out clean. Place pan on rack to cool for 10 minutes, then invert cake onto cooling rack to cool completely.

Once cooled, combine the white chips and milk in a small bowl; microwave on high for about 1 minute, whisk, and you may need to do this for 25-second intervals one to two more times. Whisk until smooth then drizzle/pour onto cake. Let set 30 minutes.

Apple Crisp

How homespun can you get? This stuff is great all year round.

10 good-sized tart apples – granny smith are best
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg – optional

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 2 quart casserole and place on top of a cookie sheet (for spillage). Peel and cut the apples into chunks and place into casserole.

In a medium bowl, add butter, flour and sugars. Using your hands, crumble and mix up until crumbly. Plop all over the apples in pan. Sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg, if using, on top. Place in oven for about 45 minutes or until bubbly.

Ice Cream Cookie Shake

This makes 2 delicious cookie shakes.

3 cups vanilla ice cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
7-8 Oreo cookies

Mix the ice cream and milk in your blender on low speed until smooth. If you need to, stir it to incorporate.Break up the cookies over the blender while adding them. Cover and mix on low speed for about 5 – 10 seconds; there should still be little chunks of cookies in there; stir with a long spoon to help combine but still leave some chunks. Pour into glasses and serve.

Note: If you’d prefer to, use any flavor ice cream you want. I chose vanilla for simplicity, but if you like mint, or chocolate – which will make it killer good – use whatever you want. Enjoy your choice!

Carrot Cake

Everyone must have one of these in their recipe collection.  Here is my simplified version – it uses jars of baby food instead of shredded carrots and applesauce instead of all that oil.  The topping is swirled in, then baked.

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (canola)
4 oz. applesauce
4 of the 4 oz. jars baby food (OR 2 8 oz. jars)
4 eggs
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder

12 oz. room temperature cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. flour
1-2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan.  Into a large bowl, place the sugar, oil, applesauce, baby food, eggs, lemon juice and vanilla, blending/mixing well.  Add all the dry ingredients and blend in well.  Pour into the pan then begin making the topping.

Place all the topping ingredients into a bowl and with an electric mixer, cream them all together.  Gently place “plops” of this on top of the batter, then sprinkle with some cinnamon then gently swirl it all in.  Bake for about 40-50 minutes – you gotta check with a knife inserted near the middle to make sure it’s done – then cool on a rack for about 2 hours, then place in the fridge for at least 2 more hours until you cut and serve.

Brownie Ice Cream Cake

Why buy when you can make your own? This is very rich and tastes like a brownie, candy bar, ice cream cake. Use any flavor ice cream you wish – for the picture I used vanilla.

2 measuring cups of semi-sweet morsels
12 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. prepared, black coffee (optional – this will give it a mocha flavor)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 extra large eggs
1cup flour
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 pint of ice cream – your choice
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp. butter

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a springform pan. Take eggs out and set on counter while oven preheats. Meanwhile in a small saucepan melt the butter and 1 cup of morsels over low heat until melted; remove from heat and empty melted chocolate into a medium bowl and cool off for 5 minutes.

With a wooden spoon, mix in coffee and vanilla just till the count of 10; add eggs one at a time and mix with wooden spoon for the count of 10 after each – you want to mix only till combined. Add the flour and salt only till combined. Empty into the springform pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until just set – top will have the browinie crackling-look. Set aside to cool completely.

Soften the ice cream and spread it carefully over the brownie layer then freeze for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile melt the other 1 cup of morsels, whipping cream, 2 Tbsp. butter and the other 2 Tbsp. coffee until smooth. Set it aside to cool, then gently pour over the ice cream and carefully swirl it around. Freeze for 2-3 hours before slicing. When ready to eat let it set on the counter for about 10 minutes then unmold and enjoy.

Creamy Ricotta & Mixed Fruit

Simple and luscious. Quite an ending to a BBQ get together.

2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese (I use Polly-O)
4 oz. regular (NOT lite or low fat) cream cheese – room temperature
2 + 2 Tbsp. white sugar
3 Tbsp. honey
3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. lemon juice (fresh is best)
4 cups mixed fruit – berries, kiwi, melons, etc. – peeled & chunked
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (fresh is best)

Place the ricotta, cream cheese, 2 Tbsp. sugar, honey and vanilla into a food processor until smooth. Scrape into a bowl and place into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Mix all the berries and/or fruit with the remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar into a large bowl. Toss this all together to coat well and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature. Divide the creamy ricotta mixture into 4-6 nice serving glasses or bowls and top with the fruit mixture. Serve.

Apricot Sherbet

This is so refreshing in the warmer months or after almost any hot meal. I served it after a meal of lasagna, bean salad, and fresh bread. You’ll need a food processor or blender, plus the patience for at least a twelve-hour freeze time. This is my bow to cookbook author Ellen Wright – which you must read, she is wonderful. This recipe doubles beautifully.

2 15 oz. can pitted apricots – do not drain
2 15 oz. jars apricot preserves
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Cold heavy cream

A plastic container with a lid that is freezer safe

First of all, I cannot stress enough to buy a couple of fresh lemons for the juice – please don’t use the little plastic lemons or the stuff in a container; the flavor is too bitter and harsh for this dessert.

With that being said, place the preserves and the lemon juice in a medium saucepan and on med-high, heat until warmed through. Remove from heat; strain and press down to release all the good juices – toss out the extra in the strainer, set the strained stuff aside.

Empty one can of un-drainded apricots into the food processor and blitz until smooth; empty contents into a bowl then blitz the other can, leaving it in the processor bowl. In intervals, add some of the apricot/lemon mixture to the processor bowl and pulse to combine. As you do this, empty the contents into the plastic container. When all finished, put the lid on tight and place in the freezer for at least twelve hours; twenty-four hours would be even better.

Using an ice cream scoop, place two scoops in a decorative serving dish or cup and pour a little bit of the heavy cream onto each – at least a couple tablespoons.

Oh! This is heaven!