Easter Brunch Menu

Here comes Peter Cottontail…

While I know the the true meaning of Easter isn’t the egg hunts or the candy-filled baskets, I have to admit I find all the cute bunny stuff a little hard to resist.

Easter MorningEaster is such a happy holiday.  And a perfect time to get together with family and friends to celebrate.  And, as much as I enjoy the holiday as an adult, I have to admit I miss the days when Easter was also the holiday when I got a brand new pair of patent leather shoes and a new hat.  Now that was reason to celebrate!

If you’re hosting the celebration this year, here is a great Easter brunch menu.  There are several things you can do a day or two ahead of time to make Easter morning more relaxed (and give you time to go look for some of those colored eggs left behind by the Easter bunny).

A day or two before Easter:

  • Do all of your grocery shopping, including buying any flowers you want to use on your table.
  • Prepare the crust for the quiche and keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make the quiche.
  • Make the topping for the layered fruit salad.
  • Prepare and slice the fruit. (If you’re using bananas, don’t slice them until you prepare the salad.)  Alternatively, give yourself a real break and buy the ready-to-go fruit at the grocery store.
  • Set the table.
  • Chill the champagne.
  • You can even make the scones the day before. They’ll keep well in an airtight container.
  • Listen to your mother’s voice in your head and clean your guest bathroom.

Easter Brunch Menu


Layered Fruit Salad

Glazed Scones

Fresh Orange Juice

Champagne (to make mimosas)

For our table, at each place setting I used Grandma’s teacups.  These teacups have a very special history in the family.  Every year, Grandma and a group of her friends would get together to celebrate each other’s birthdays.  For their birthday each year, they would receive a teacup from the group.  I’m not sure how many teacups Grandma accumulated, but I’m guessing she had over 30 of them.  We now are the proud owners of several of them, as are other grandchildren.  I was so happy to find a way to celebrate spring and honor Grandma on our Easter table.

Happy Entertaining!

Easter Teacups

Quiche  Layered Fruit Salad

Scones  Easter Place Setting

Chocolate Chick in Teacup

Easter Table Setting

Glazed Orange Cranberry Scones

If variety is the spice of life, then these scones are providing plenty of spice around here.  This is my third (or maybe fourth?) rendition of what started as a basic scone, and I haven’t been disappointed yet.  Seems like no matter what combination I throw at (or into, to be more accurate) the recipe, the results are great.

This version came about because I had leftover fresh cranberries last week.Fresh Cranberries  We’ve been sort of on a cranberry kick lately, and to provide fair warning, there are more cranberry recipes to come.  And to think that for a good part of my life, I just thought of cranberries as the berry that becomes the juice that is served with vodka.  I’m so happy to discover that the little red berries have a much richer, and tastier, purpose on this earth.

As with previous scones, I started with what is now becoming my tried and true recipe for scones, and then just added chopped cranberries to the dough.  As with the blueberry scones, when I got to the “mix just until the flour is incorporated and the ingredients all come together in a ball” stage, I added just over 1/2 cup of chopped cranberries and then gently worked them into the dough, taking care not to overwork or warm the dough.  Then I shaped, cut and baked the scones like I normally do.

I also added a little cream cheese to the glaze, just to add a little zing and enhance the flavor.

If you’re looking for a festive holiday breakfast or brunch treat, try these glazed orange cranberry scones.

Happy Entertaining!

Chopped Cranberries  Scone Dough with Cranberries

Scones Ready for the Oven  Scones Ready for Glazing

Glazed Orange Cranberry Scones

Click here to get recipe

Betty’s Pumpkin Bread

Fall.  People either love this time of year or they don’t.  I fall into the “love it” category.  Someone recently referred to it as a “transitional season,” which I think is an interesting concept.  The context in which they used the term leads me to believe that their point was that, during the fall months, we transition from a season where we spend most of our time outdoors to a pre-hibernation season and spend our time indoors.  Our habits and routines change with the shorter days and cooling temperatures.  For me, this is probably most evident in my kitchen where the oven gets called back into action after its summer vacation.


One of my annual fall traditions (habits?) is to make pumpkin bread.  Betty’s Pumpkin Bread, actually.  My good friend, Wendy, gave me this recipe years ago.  Long enough ago that it preceded the internet and e-mail and electronic communication.  The recipe was given to me on a 3 x 5″ index card that said “From the Kitchen Of” across the top, the recipe handwritten in Wendy’s beautiful script.  Betty was her Mom, and this was her recipe.  I now make this pumpkin bread every year, and I think of Wendy, and her mom (whom I never met), every time I do.  And it reminds me of the amazing ability that recipes have for bridging time and distance between people.  I love that, although Betty has been gone from this earth for a long time, something of hers lives on in my kitchen.  How great this thing called legacy is.

The only change I made to Betty’s bread is the addition of chocolate chips.  It makes me think that Betty was more practical and less indulgent than I.  Otherwise, the recipe is just as Betty made it.  This recipe will make two loaves, which is a good thing.  One loaf doesn’t last long around our house.  I made a loaf yesterday and at this rate, it won’t see the sunrise on Friday.

Happy Entertaining!

Walnuts and Chocolate Chips

Sifting Dry Ingredients  Ready for Baking

Fresh out of the Oven

Pumpkin Bread

Click here to get recipe

Glazed Lemon Blueberry Scones

It all started with a trip to one of the local farm stands a couple of weeks ago.  It was the end of blueberry season, but they still had flats of beautiful, ripe, big blueberries.  As I debated about whether or not to buy some, a woman proclaimed that they were “the best blueberries in the world.”  She had bought some the week before and had come back for more.  How could I not buy some after a ringing endorsement like that?

So, there I was, at home with a flat of blueberries.  And they were good, I’ll give her that, whatever her name was.  I was happy to freeze a good portion of my berry stash, but it seemed a shame to not also find a way to use them fresh, too.  I had been wanting to try adding fruit to our scone recipe, so this seemed like opportunity knocking.

The great thing about all of this is I was able to use the Glazed Lemon Scone recipe with just one small alteration.  I reduced the zest slightly so that the lemon flavor wouldn’t compete with the blueberries.  When I got to the “mix just until the flour is incorporated and the ingredients all come together in a ball” stage, I added about 3/4 cup of the blueberries and then gently worked them into the dough, taking care not to crush the berries or overwork and warm the dough.  Then I shaped, cut and baked the scones like I normally do.

The result was the same great texture with the added flavor (and wonderful blue dots) of the blueberries.  De-lish.  This is a good example of a time when I shouldn’t be blogging when I’m hungry.  I am now craving one of these scones.

If I make these again and use some of the berries I have in the freezer, I think I’ll add them frozen and not let them thaw.  I think thawed berries would be a little too messy.

Zesting the Lemon  Lemon Zest and Sugar

Dough with Blueberries

Scones Ready for Baking

Lemon Blueberry Scones  Lemon Blueberry Scone

We ate two scones immediately and put the rest in a Ziploc bag after they’d cooled.  Jon ate these scones every day until they were gone.  He said that, even after five days, they were still fresh and moist — the best scones he’s ever had.

Happy Entertaining!

Glazed Lemon Blueberry Scones

Click here to get recipe

Blackberry Cobbler – Some Things Are Worth Repeating

When we first launched our blog, one of our earliest posts was about blackberries.  Specifically, it was about my dread of having to help Mom pick them as a child, my new found appreciation of the “chore” as an adult, and the glorious outcome that is blackberry cobbler.  You can read that post here.

A lot has changed since that post.  Back then, the only people that visited our blog were my in-laws.  (They are still our most avid fans.)  We were just starting to navigate the unknown world of blogging and what it takes to have a blog.  Today, we think of our website as a real blog.  We must be official because we have pages on both Facebook and Pinterest.  We have a Twitter account and an Instagram account.  And, we have real followers and analytics that allow us to track how many of you visit us on a daily basis.

Over the last couple of years, some of the most common feedback we’ve gotten is that many of you appreciate detailed instructions in the recipes, and pictures — not just of the end result, but also of what it’s supposed to look like at various steps as we make it.

Blackberry HarvestBut, some things have not changed.  Like the untapped blackberry bramble in our neighborhood.  Every year, I cannot believe the bountiful harvest we get from that undiscovered thicket.  (Of course, when neighbors ask where it is, I have to admit we’re a little vague about its whereabouts.  “Oh, you know, over there in that direction.”)  And my thrill of coming home with our harvest and making blackberry cobbler has not changed either.  We know that several of you have made this cobbler, and have shared your prize-worthy efforts with us, which makes the whole thing that much grander.

Olivia Making Blackberry CobblerSo, in honor of where we are today, what we’ve learned along the way, and the blackberries that will soon become cobblers, here is an updated post complete with more pictures.  Including this adorable picture of Olivia, helping my wonderful friend Kim (Olivia’s grandmother) make the cobbler.  I don’t know which part of this I love the most:  The fact that a toddler is helping to make our blackberry cobbler recipe or that she’s standing on the counter as she does so.

And this bears repeating.  Even though I have made this cobbler now countless times, every single time I pour the sugar/water onto the cobbler, I think “This is not going to work.”  I just can’t fathom that the liquid will be absorbed and that I won’t end up with a soupy mess.  But it does work.  Amazingly well.

Happy Entertaining!

Butter and Flour  Processed Butter and Flour

Dough has Formed a Ball  Dough Ready for Rolling

Blackberries on Dough

Rolled and Ready to Slice

Adding the Sugar Water

Blackberry Cobbler in Pan

Blackberry Cobbler

Click here to get recipe

Good Tidings From The Garden

A recipe for Lemon Zucchini Bread showed up in my feed from Pinterest this morning.  Which was very timely since I had two zucchinis sitting on the counter, begging for some sort of indication that they would have a more glorious final act than aging slowly until a dishonorable discharge to the compost pile.  As you might guess, the zucchinis were gifts from our neighbors.  It’s that time of year when all the successful gardeners are walking around the neighborhood looking for good homes for their zucchinis.  Zucchinis are summer’s version of good tidings.  I am pretty sure that if Jesus had been born in the summer, the third wise man would’ve shown up at the stable bearing zucchini instead of myrrh.

The recipe sounded good and it was a nice variation from the standard zucchini bread I’ve made in the past.  Problem was, while I had plenty of zucchini, I didn’t have cake flour or canola oil, both of which the recipe called for.  I dug out my mom’s recipe for zucchini bread and it uses regular flour and vegetable oil, so I strapped on my “what the heck” attitude, greased my loaf pan, and gave my modified version of the recipe a test run.

Grated Zucchini

Juiced Lemon

What I am sharing with you today is an answer to three problems you may have.  One, you have your own abundance of zucchini (grown or adopted).  Two, you love desserts more than vegetables.  Three, the last green vegetable you ate was the peas your mom made you eat when you were 10.  If any of those apply to you, then this is the bread for you.  It isn’t actually overly sweet, and the lemon is subtle and good.  And I would challenge anyone, if they didn’t know it’s made with zucchini, to find any hint of the veggie.  The zucchini makes the bread moist and, in my book, qualifies this bread as a serving of vegetables.  Double win.  Oh, and it was easy to make.  Proverbial cherry on top.

This lemon zucchini bread would be a great thing to serve at your next Book Club meeting.

Lemon Zucchini Bread

Sliced Zucchini Bread

The loaf of bread is quickly disappearing.  We’re eating it the way people who live alone eat something like this.  Just a little slice off the end each time we walk by it, not bothering with a plate or napkin.  That means that crumbs will be all that’s left of the loaf of bread by Wednesday. I am so happy I have more zucchini requiring some attention.  Talk about a vegetable finding its rightful place in the universe!  From garden to wonderful Lemon Zucchini Bread.

Happy Entertaining!

Lemon Zucchini Bread

Click here to get recipe

Brunch – A Good Reason to Rise and Shine

I’m not what you’d call a morning person.  And by that I mean that not by any stretch of the imagination, nor by what anyone who knows me well would say, would I be considered anything remotely close to a morning person.  I find very few things as luxurious and decadent as a slow-paced morning.  Which may be the reason I don’t often host a brunch at the house.

But I gladly got out of bed and did just that last weekend.  My oldest sister and brother-in-law came up for the day, and to allow for their drive home (a few hours), a midday meal was the most accommodating.  And I may not be a morning person but I can be rather accommodating when I try.  My youngest brother and sister-in-law came, too, and it was simply a splendid reason to get up early.

Doing a little prep the day before allowed me to sleep in an extra few minutes.  (Yea!)  I made the crust for the quiche (and refrigerated it overnight) and set the table.  Jon cut the flowers and I got them arranged in a vase.

Brunch Table Setting  Lilacs and Iris

By the time I rolled out of bed Sunday morning, my to-do list was pretty manageable.  Besides making the quiche (which is my old, stand-by recipe), and washing/cutting the romaine (which we served with a lemon dressing), my morning priority was making the scones.  And I should note that, prior to Sunday morning, I had never actually made scones from scratch before.  I was a little nervous about the whole thing, especially since I didn’t have a “Plan B” if the scones were a flop.  I did my best to carefully follow the recipe and am so happy to report that the scones turned out perfectly.

Scones on Tray

When any of the siblings are together, inevitably the conversation comes around to Mom.  She passed away many years ago, but we all still miss her every day.  So it was nice to be together, using her good silver and the antique butter pats that she gave me one year for my birthday, and remembering our mom.


And then our brunch became a tribute to all moms and the upcoming day that honors them.  Biological moms, adoptive moms, mother-in-laws, step-mothers, grandmothers, women who nurture and are motherly by nature, and those who are moms of our furry friends.  We know our world is better because of you.  To all of these moms, we wish you a Happy Mother’s Day.

Brunch Menu


Orange Scones

Romaine With Lemon Dressing

Quiche  Orange Scones

Happy Entertaining!

Scones! A Glorious Way to Start the Day

My love affair with scones began at the state fair.  I don’t think I ever missed the fair and loved the years I got to go more than once.  “Fair scones” served with jam, and riding the old, rickety roller coaster were my two favorite things about the fair.

Packaged “fair” scone mix can be found in many grocery stores. I’ve made them a few times, but they were never as good as the ones at the fair.  I’ve also eaten my share of dry, tasteless and mediocre (okay, bad) scones at various bakeries and coffee stands.  So I guess I got it in my mind that, unless you knew what you were doing, it wasn’t easy to make good scones unless you worked at the fair in the scone booth and wore one of those crisp, white dresses. I found the whole concept of homemade scones intimidating and out of my realm of possibility. That is until this recipe came into my life and changed my mind.  Thank you My Baking Addiction for the great recipe.

Glazed Scones

The original recipe was for orange scones.  I made them, according to the recipe, and they were delicious.  I was practically giddy about how my scones turned out.  I wanted to make them again to ensure that successfully making great scones at home wasn’t just a one-time fluke.  I had used my last 2 oranges when I made the scones the first time but I had 2 lemons.  So, I decided to try the recipe substituting lemons for the oranges.  Again, yum-ME!

These scones have a perfect texture and flavor.  Jon says he thinks it’s the best scone he’s ever eaten.  Just a bit of a warning, though.  If you’re skittish about using your hands when preparing food, this may not be the recipe for you.  This is a roll-up-your-sleeves and get-into-the-dough kind of recipe.  But it’s well worth it.

Serve these for brunch with some raspberry jam.  And don’t expect to have any leftovers.

Lemon zest

Grate the zest onto the sugar

Zest mixed with sugar

Mix the zest and sugar

Grating the butter

Grate the butter

Mixing in grated butter

Gently mix in the butter

Adding the egg and sour cream

Add the wet mixture

Mix until clumpy

Mix until clumpy

Gently squeeze together

Gently work the dough…

Dough is ready

…until it holds together

Shape it

Shape it

Cut it

Cut it

Out of the oven

Bake until edges are golden brown


Glaze by dipping

Glazed scones

Let the glaze set

Raspberry Jam

Serve with raspberry jam

A few tips for making these scones:

  • You want your cold ingredients cold when you start and to stay cold throughout the process.  The frozen butter worked great even if it is a little challenging to grate.  I used a box grater (because that’s what the recipe said to do and that’s what I had), but I’m going to purchase a flat grater that I can place over the bowl so I can grate the butter directly onto the flour.
  • Because you want your cold ingredients to stay cold, you need to work rather quickly.  Don’t start the process and then go do something else.  Work the process, start to finish, and don’t dilly dally.
  • Don’t over-mix or over-bake.
  • The original recipe said to bake the scones about an inch apart.  But I’ve read that it’s actually better to bake the scones so they are touching each other.  It encourages them to rise rather than spread.  I may try that next time.

Happy Entertaining!

Glazed Scone

Click here to get recipe

Homemade Cinnamon Bread

When I look at my collection of recipes, I feel very fortunate to have so many from friends and family.  Those special recipes that come with some history and story.  This is not one of those recipes.  It didn’t come from some great aunt that made it for me when I visited as a child.  Rather, this recipe started out as one thing and ended up as Cinnamon Swirl Bread.

The original recipe was for a yeast coffee cake with chocolate chips that I thought sounded interesting (I couldn’t remember ever making a yeast coffee cake before) and that could be made to serve in the morning to overnight guests.  Conceptually, the recipe seemed good.  But once I started it, I realized that the recipe was actually a little awkward and I was making adjustments as I went.  The end result was sort of a clunky mess.  BUT, what did come out of it all was a dough that I actually thought of as “lovely” (which is noteworthy only because I seldom use that word, much less when discussing bread dough).

Given my clear emotional response to the dough, I decided to try the recipe with just a cinnamon and sugar filling, rather than the one that had been in the original recipe.  And here we are.  Enjoying the scrumptiousness of Cinnamon Swirl Bread.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

In the recipe, I give you two options for how to roll the dough.  The original recipe had me roll it,  bring the ends together and then twist it.  I do it this way when I make the Cinnamon Swirl Bread only because I like the random, wonky swirl I get.  But it’s a step easier to just roll it up.  You can choose to do it whichever way you prefer.

The smell of freshly baked cinnamon bread in your kitchen may be reason enough to make this bread.  But I have to tell you that this bread rises (no pun intended) to its true glory after it has been toasted and buttered.  Which means you can bake it ahead of time and then toast it in the morning for guests.  Go ahead and serve it on your good plates.  It’s worth celebrating.

Toasted Cinnamon Bread

Someday, this may be the center’s of someone’s fond memory of breakfast at your house.

Happy Entertaining!

Cool the Scalded Milk

An instant read thermometer is your friend to get the temp right

Whisk the Eggs

Whisk the eggs and sugar until light yellow and slightly thick

Add Yeast Mixture

Proofed yeast will look like this

Add Butter

Add softened butter

Knead Dough in Mixer

Use a dough hook to do the kneading

Transfer Dough to Bowl

Transfer the dough to a buttered bowl

Dough has Doubled

Dough has doubled in size

Dough Standing

Lovely dough waiting to be rolled

Rolled and Coated with Cinnamon

The good stuff: Sugar & cinnamon

Rolling the Dough

Roll the dough tightly

Dough Tightly Rolled

Pinch the edges

Bring Ends Together

Bring ends together


Twist and pinch

Ready to Bake

Let it rise in the pan until doubled

Loaf of Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Click here to get recipe

Zucchini Muffins: An Experiment in Cryogenics

What is it about zucchini.  It seems that every fall some well-meaning neighbor (the one with the big vegetable garden) brings us a gift of a home-grown zucchini.  They are always ginormous things (we have friends whose pet dogs are smaller than some of the zucchinis).  I know we have received this gift because gardens always produce more zucchinis than one person knows what to do with, so they are passed on to neighbors and become someone else’s problem to solve.

This has been going on since the beginning of time.  I remember my mom, who never grew a zucchini in her life, grating zucchini to freeze for “future baking.”  So, that’s what I do.  Grate it, freeze it and forget it’s there.  And, judging by the Ziploc baggie full of grated green that I found in the bottom of our freezer, that’s what happened this time.  It was dated September ’11.  It had just sat there in frozen limbo, for over 2 years, waiting for a purpose.

I didn’t actually see the date on the bag until after I had defrosted it.  At that point I was committed to making muffins so I just hoped that we wouldn’t die from some horrible people-killing scourge that grows in frozen zucchini after 2 years.

If it looked a little sad and dilapidated when I took it out of the freezer, it looked utterly pathetic after it thawed.

Grated Zucchini from the Freezer


Zucchini Chocolate Chip MuffinsTwo years of freezer frost created a lot of water when thawed.  So to take care of that problem, I just opened one end of the baggie about an inch and squeezed until all of the liquid was gone.

And, here we are.  Two years and two hours later enjoying a delightful zucchini chocolate chip muffin made from a homegrown zucchini. I have to admit, this isn’t a bad way to get a serving of veggies.

Happy Entertaining!

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

Click here to get recipe

Breakfast for Dinner

I read something recently that said that the new trend is having breakfast for dinner.   Boy, I never really thought of my dad as a trend setter, unless you consider his early adoption of matching a striped shirt with plaid pants as trendsetting.  But I can tell you that Dad was making breakfast for dinner 50 years ago.  Growing up, I can count on one hand the number of times my mom was too sick to get out of bed.   And when Mom was unable to perform her Mom Duties, our little household got turned on its side because the responsibility for feeding the kids fell to my dad.  The thing he knew how to make was breakfast, so breakfast is what we had for dinner. I grew up thinking that having eggs, bacon and pancakes or waffles for dinner was a royal treat.

Okay, so the eggs or bacon weren’t cooked to order.  And, there’s a good chance that a box of Bisquick was the reason we got pancakes or waffles.  But let’s not lose sight of the fact that this was a time when the kitchen was the woman’s domain, and yet Dad was actually in the kitchen, cooking.

Dad in the Cockpit

Love this picture of Dad. I think he was more comfortable in the cockpit than in the kitchen.

Breakfast for dinner is a tradition that we proudly carry on in this house, although it doesn’t take one of us to be lying ill in bed to justify it.  Unlike Dad, who really only had one meal in his culinary bag of tricks, we make breakfast for dinner by choice.  Granted, it’s usually after we look in the refrigerator and realize we only have eggs and milk.  But, still, it’s a choice that we always seem almost giddy over.  Yea!  Breakfast for dinner!

The reality is, there just never seems to be enough time in the morning to have a nice, sit down breakfast. Even when we have nothing but time, unless it’s the weekend, we just don’t seem to bother with anything more than a smoothie or a bowl of cereal for breakfast.  Yet we look forward to a “big” meal at dinner.  So, here’s the funny thing.  Even though a meal of eggs and bacon and something off the griddle seems like a pretty involved thing, it’s actually pretty quick to pull together.  Maybe this concept is gaining in popularity (“new trend”) because people miss having a big farm-style breakfast, so they’ve rescheduled it for a time of day that doesn’t require setting the alarm an extra 45 minutes early.  Wouldn’t that be just like us?  Reschedule something like breakfast to accommodate our schedules.  The result?  Breakfast for dinner!  So, whether it’s a convenience (like when we don’t have anything else in the fridge,) a means of survival (as in my dad’s case), or a trend, breakfast is a nice alternative to the traditional dinner menu.  So, go ahead.  Make breakfast for dinner and give everyone a treat.  But, if this does turn out to be a trend, I’m going to give my dad full credit for it.

Making WafflesHere’s our suggestion for a real breakfast treat.  Waffles.  We’ve long ago shifted away from waffles made from a mix.  Like homemade pancakes, waffles from scratch really don’t take much more time than those made from a box.  And they are so much better.  This recipe is for a Belgian-style waffle, which means they are a little sweet and cake-like.  They are good served with fresh berries, syrup, or, as in this case, a pureed berry sauce.  The whipping cream is optional.  Regardless of what you top them with, they are oh-so-good.  For dinner or otherwise.

Happy Entertaining!

Belgian Waffles

Click here to get recipe

Homemade Granola – A Dine and Dash Breakfast

Around this house, mornings seem to happen at one of two speeds.  We’re either relaxed and leisurely and can hang out until mid-morning in our pajamas, or rushed and hurried as we race to the mountain or get people on the road towards home.  I love when guests sleep over and we have a leisurely mornings and can enjoy and big, involved breakfast.  But when we have places to get to, a bowl of granola is a great dine and dash breakfast.

I can make this granola in the time it would take me to get dressed and drive to the grocery store.  And then it keeps well for a couple of weeks, so it’s definitely a great option for a no-fuss breakfast.

There is a great restaurant in town, Winona’s, that is a favorite with both locals and out-of-towners.  On weekends, there is usually a line out the door with people waiting for a table.  Supposedly this granola is from that restaurant.  I put air quotes around supposedly because, unless the owner actually hands me the recipe themselves, I’m never 100 percent sure that it is a secret recipe or not.  I think I got a little jaded back in the 80’s when someone had supposedly gotten their hands on Mrs. Field’s secret cookie recipe, only to find out that no one had ever actually unlocked the vault to her secrets.  But, this much I do know.  Winona’s has great food, including their granola.  And this is great granola.  So, maybe they are one in the same.

Serve with fresh berries and yogurt and you have yourself one fine, fast meal.

Granola Ingredients

Granola Mixing Bowl

Homemade Granola

Happy Entertaining!

Click here to get recipe

The Story of Our Quickie. Oops, Make That Quiche…

This is one of those times when I am super excited to share something with you.  In this case, it’s because this is one of those recipes that every host/hostess should have in their bag of tricks.  Why?  Well, the list is long.  Gather ’round and let me tell you all about it.


First, it’s good.  Or, better stated, it’s absolutely delicious.  But since I really only post recipes that I think are good, this probably isn’t the most newsworthy aspect of it.

What I really like about this quiche is you can take the basic recipe and make it work for you, as well as for those lucky folks around your table who get to share it with you.  Want to make your own crust?  Here’s the recipe.  Can’t be bothered with a homemade crust?  Then use one out of a box.  It will still be good.  Prefer more egg-to-crust ratio?  Just choose the deep dish quiche versus the one made in a tart pan.  Same recipe, just double the ingredients. Like onions with your eggs and cheese?  No problem.  Just add some onions when you brown the meat.  And, here’s the really great news.  You can use sausage or bacon, or, if you need a vegetarian option, you can use veggie sausage.

Usually when I hear things like “veggie sausage” I am reminded of when I was a kid being forced to eat things I didn’t like, and then trying to discreetly hide the skeevy food item under my mashed potatoes.  But this is different.  My sister-in-law started making this recipe with MorningStar Farms sausage, and I have to admit, it’s great.  The only adjustment I make when I use it (which is most often, actually) is that I add some oil to the pan when I brown the sausage to keep it from sticking.  I’ve had some guests (with very discerning tastes) not even realize they were eating meatless sausage.

Quiche Ingredients

Lastly, this quiche makes for a stress-free meal.  You can buy the cheese in a ready-to-use bag so you don’t even need to bother with a cheese grater.  Oops!  Forgot to thaw the spinach?  No problem.  Just microwave it and you’re back in business.  You can put it all together and let it bake while you chat with your guests.  It easily feeds 8 (if you’re using a tart pan; here’s the pan I use) or maybe even 10 if you’re using a pie dish.  Either way, it’s an easy way to feed a group, and I always like having those types of dishes available to me.  Seriously, what’s not to love?

I’ve been making this recipe, or some variation of it, for years.  Twenty-five years ago it seemed that I was hosting a bridal or baby shower about once a month, and this quiche, along with a fruit salad and some muffins, became a became the standard menu at each of them.  Since then, this quiche has made appearances at all different types of brunches and lunches.  Regardless if the occasion is fancy or casual, this dish fits right in.  Oh, I also make it just for the two of us.  More than occasionally.  If you are still thinking that real men don’t eat quiche, I am here to tell you that they do.  With gusto.

Happy Entertaining!

Dough prep part 1

Cold butter is added to the flour…

Dough prep part 2

…And processed to look like this

Dough in a ball

Add a little water until you get this

Dough on floured surface

Give the dough a light flour dusting

Dough in Ziploc

Place the dough in a Ziploc bag

Dough in pan

Fit the dough to your pan

Dough fitted into pan

Press down lightly

Trimming dough

Use the rolling pin to trim it to fit

Butter in pan

Use a spatula to spread the butter

Pouring egg mixture

Eggs complete the filling

Removing quiche from pan

Easy method to remove the quiche


Picture perfect and ready to eat!

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Christmas Morning Torment

To the casual observer, my childhood and upbringing could appear pretty idyllic.  A beautiful mother that we’re pretty sure June Cleaver was modeled after.  A handsome, airline pilot father.  The brick house made to fit a family with 5 kids thanks to an additional story added by Dad.  The large yard with fruit trees where Dad built us a treehouse.  Not to mention the adjacent pasture where (literal) ponies grazed.

But it wasn’t always rosy.  There were those moments of parental abuse that we hide deep in the closet with the other skeletons.  Like those Saturday mornings when Mom would vacuum as we were watching cartoons and we’d have to lift our feet while she pushed the Hoover past us.  It’s hard to imagine how we ever endured that mistreatment.  But the real torture occurred every Christmas morning.  While we were allowed to tear into what Santa had left us, regardless of what god-forsaken time we had gotten up, we had to wait until after breakfast before presents could be opened.  You want to know the longest period of time in a kid’s life?  It’s Christmas morning when one has to sit and wait while your mother prepares breakfast with no apparent sense of urgency.  As I said, pure torture.

Christmas Morning

Visions of Christmas Past, with unopened presents indicating that breakfast had not yet been served. Notice my “stink eye” and what appears to be the early signs of stress-induced lunacy in my little brother.

However, as I got older, I came to appreciate the enforced slow pace of those Christmas mornings.  For one thing, we were rewarded with Mom’s cinnamon rolls.  And, Christmas always lasted longer when we weren’t done with everything by 7:00 am.  Now, as an adult, I have to admit that I prefer breakfast before presents as well.

So, this Christmas, we wish you leisurely mornings full of anticipation and wonder and joy.

Happy (Holiday) Entertaining!

The End of Summer

All good things must come to an end.  Or so they say.  And lots of people are saying it around here about the end of summer.  Yes, it was a wonderful summer.  And, yes, we are seeing definite signs of fall.  But I’m not quite as melancholy about the end of the summer as others are.  Except when I think about the end of summer food. Now that does make me a little sad.

Those of you who have been reading this blog since its beginning (almost a year ago) will know I have a favorite, and apparently secret (since no one else ever seems to go there) blackberry patch where we can pick all the blackberries we can stand to eat, freeze, and cobbler-ize.  But the trip to the thicket today proved that the blackberry season has come to an end for this year.  My use of “slim pickin’s” this afternoon was probably the first time in my life I used the phrase in the proper context.

If you’ve ever had an overnight stay at our house, there’s a pretty good chance that we served you a fruit smoothie for breakfast.  Not necessarily because you requested one but rather because I make one almost every morning for us and I just assume everyone else wants one too.  For me, it seems like a whole-lotta-healthy in a glass.  And who wouldn’t want that first thing in the morning? (No need to actually answer because, as I said, I just assume everyone wants one.)

These last few weeks, since the blackberries have been ripe, my new daily gotta-have has been a mango/blackberry smoothie.  With each glass, I can just feel those wild antioxidants racing through my body wiping out free radicals as they go.  And because of the surging healthy goodness, I can pretty effectively ignore anything else that might be in there, say like a teensie dose of sugar.  We’ll just call that part of the smoothie “energy” and leave it at that.

If you’re lucky enough to have some blackberries in your freezer and you want to postpone the end-of-summer blues a little while longer, treat your guests, and yourself, to this scrumptious (and healthy!) treat.

Happy entertaining!

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And the children shall lead us

Let’s be honest here.  If it weren’t for our daughter’s refusal to eat pancakes made from Bisquick when she was a little girl, I probably wouldn’t have come up with a recipe to make them from scratch.  The ones from the box always seemed fine to me.  Leave it to the discerning tastes of a 5-year old to convince me otherwise.

In our house, the luxury of a full breakfast has always been something reserved for weekends.  Especially when we were working full-time, we just never took the time during the week to deal with the preparation, and mess, of making breakfast.  We still don’t make it everyday, but now we’ve found that when guests stay over, many times we make breakfast (or “brunch,” if we’re slow to get moving) in the morning.  Thanks to this recipe, pancakes are now one of the mainstays of our breakfast routine.  And when I realized that making them from scratch is not much more work than using the mix, it made me wonder why I didn’t do it all along.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Although Mom used to use Bisquick, which I no longer do, it is her technique for cooking pancakes that I still use.  Using the tines of a fork, she used to spread a glob of Crisco over the surface of the pan (which was usually her cast iron skillet) each time she added batter to the pan.  I’ve tried other things, like butter and oil, but nothing else provides the crispy edges quite like an ample dollop of Crisco does.

Recently, our friends were here with their two young sons.  The boys desperately wanted to try and make a pancake bigger than the one they made last year while visiting.  (And, at one point they thought they should try and beat the world’s record for largest pancake.  Thankfully, they abandoned that idea when a Google search revealed that the record-holding pancake was more than 4′ in diameter.)  Instead, they made one that was about 12″ in diameter.  It took 2 adults and several spatulas to flip that sucker, and the wall behind the stove wore some evidence of the attempt, but all in all it was successful.

Besides using Crisco, the other thing we’ve discovered when making these is that it’s better to add the blueberries (if you’re using them) to the pancake after you’ve poured a pancake’s worth of batter onto the griddle.  If you mix them into the batter, it tends to make a purple batter.  Just pour some batter and then sprinkle a few berries on top, before flipping.

Spreading the Crisco:

Spooning the batter:

Adding blueberries:

Ready to flip!

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A Craving for Orange Rolls

Sometimes it just starts with a hankering.  And many times, as in this case, I really don’t even know where the desire came from.  I just woke up one day and wanted orange rolls.  I was actually pretty sure that I had a recipe and that I had made them before.  But I couldn’t find anything in my notebook, so I had to get creative.

Since my mom’s cinnamon roll recipe makes such a good dough, I decided to start with that.  Then, I just adjusted the filling (substituted white sugar for brown and orange zest for the cinnamon).  And I tweaked the frosting, as well, to give it a taste of orange.

And, I don’t mean to brag, but holy cow these rolls are good!  The term that comes to mind is scrump-dilly-icious!  Thankfully I only made half a recipe because we managed to polish off the entire batch of rolls in just a couple of days.  And there were just two of us doing the polishing.

I have no intention of replacing cinnamon rolls in my diet.  But these zesty rolls provide a nice alternative, in case any of you are finding that a cinnamon-only diet is rather dull.


Hostess Hint:  There are many suggested ways to zest an orange. My lack of patience makes the idea of first peeling an orange and then dicing the peel into a zest, well, beyond my tolerance.  When something starts to look like a pain in the patootie, I usually bail.  So, my preferred method is to use a microplane grater.  Because of the oil, zest can be kind of sticky. I grate it onto a piece of wax paper and then sprinkle it on the dough from that. Or, if you find sprinkling the zest a bit challenging, then you can mix the butter, sugar and zest together in a bowl first and then spread the mixture over the dough.

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The Season of Entertaining

There is a season of giving.  A season of hope.  We all know about football season and the season of change.  Even Audi has its own event season.  But for us, the most marked season is the season of entertaining, which is just about to kick off in earnest.  And, as it turns out, it happens to coincides with ski season.

Last winter, over the course of 25 weeks, we entertained a total of 26 guests for an average of 3 days each.  We had several guests that stayed for a week.  Besides breakfasts and lunches, think of it as hosting 21 dinner parties in 3 months.

And, according to our calendar, this year will be no different.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  We live for this.  We invite this.  When we built this house, we envisioned this and operated under the mantra “If we build it, they will come.”  We’ve now been here long enough that we have more repeat visitors than new visitors.  They come to ski, they come to eat, they come to drink and they come just to hang out.  In many cases, it’s the adult’s turn at a slumber party.  And with each round of guests, it seems, new laughs are had and new memories are made.

Our guests often request certain meals or call for one of the many adult beverages for which Bartender is famous, which is great.  It’s flattering and frankly simplifies things from a planning perspective.  But we also try and serve different things as well, just to keep ’em guessing.  I keep an entertaining diary to keep it all straight.  What we served, what people liked, what foods people won’t or can’t eat.  I sit down at the beginning of the season and plot out menus.  Last year one of our dear friends opted to celebrate her birthday here, so we asked her wanted she wanted to eat for her celebration dinner. (Her choice was Italian, which was good news.  If she had said “sushi,” since we have no idea how to prepare it,  dinner may have looked more like fish sticks.) But most times the choices are left to us.

We have many, many recipes that we rely on to run what sometimes feels like a B&B,L,D (bed and breakfast, lunch and dinner).  As you know, we don’t post any recipes here that haven’t been road tested at least once.  And entertaining season is where recipes earn their stripes.  One of our recipes, for buttermilk pancakes, has become a standard breakfast offering when entertaining becomes more than just a dinner party.  And it’s one of the reasons I always have a container of buttermilk in the refrigerator.

Nothing Smells Like Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Before there was Cinnabon’s, there was my mom.  Growing up, we never bought cinnamon rolls at the mall.  Our cinnamon rolls started in mom’s bread bowl and ended in her oven.  She would make them on Christmas morning and my memories of her rolls are firmly planted in my consciousness.  Just the smell of the milk, butter and sugar mixture warming on the stove reminds me of her rolls.

I’ve carried on the tradition over the years.  Although I use a bread maker to mix and knead the dough, which frankly feels a teensie bit like cheating to me.  I overcome the guilt by telling myself that I am, after all, making homemade rolls.  Which in some cultures is reason for reverence, I believe.  While Mom would make the dough and shape the rolls the night before, I haven’t gotten to the point where I trust the refrigerator with my dough.  So, there have been many Christmas mornings when I’ve gotten up at 4:00 AM to start the bread machine.  In both cases, the goal is to have freshly baked rolls for Christmas morning.  And few things, I think, make a place smell better than cinnamon rolls baking in the oven.  But, as we’ve seen in the mall,  these are not just reserved for the holidays.  Few things will say “good morning” to overnight guests quite like a homemade cinnamon roll.

Mom never frosted her cinnamon rolls but I do frost mine.  Because, honestly, frosting has been robbed of its rightful place in the food pyramid as one of the major food groups.

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Blueberries are in season!

Here’s the interesting thing.   I wasn’t a fan of blueberries for a long time.  Like most of my life.  Not sure why but I just had this impression that they didn’t really have any flavor, so on my “take it or leave it” food list, they were on the “leave it” side.  I’m guessing somewhere as a kid I had some and they just didn’t taste very good.  (Unlike, say, raspberries that I couldn’t get enough of.)   Or maybe it was that creepy blueberry kid in Willy Wonka.  Whatever the reason, I just wasn’t a fan. Blueberries, like sunscreen and shoes with good arch support,  apparently required a little age and maturity before they could be fully appreciated. 

All that has changed now.  I have discovered the wonderfulness of blueberries.  So, when it’s blueberry season in the valley, our kitchen is overflowing with them.  Our kitchen towels have blueberry stains on them.  The little green cartons get piled up on the counter.   Blueberries get bagged and frozen so we can enjoy them all year round.  And blueberries get added to all sorts of food.  They’re great in smoothies. I love them in spinach salad.   And, of course, not to be forgotten or overlooked, the epitome of what blueberries stand for: The blueberry muffin.  

Almost 30 years ago I received a small cookbook, cookbook-ette really, that only contained muffin recipes.  It was a little cookbook for little foods.  I got it from my sister for Christmas, and she had bought it at one of those wonderful small bookstores in Seattle.  I know both of these things because the bookmark from the bookstore and the gift tag from the package are both tucked into the front cover of my small book.  Looking back, I think this is when my affection for muffins started.  I like them so much more than coffee cake for some reason.  Probably because, like cupcakes, they are these individual little treats.  Unless you butter them, they require no utensils.  They are like little self-contained, paper-wrapped morsels of goodness.  If you’re hosting overnight guests, they are a great way of saying “good morning” because, let’s face it, who doesn’t like to get out of bed to the smell of fresh-baked muffins?  Plus, you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to prepare them because they really are relatively quick and easy to prepare.

In the Breakfast/Brunch section I’ve posted two recipes for blueberry muffins.  One uses the classic process of creating a well in the middle of the dry ingredients where you add the wet ingredients.  It also has a hint of lemon to it, just to take the fancy factor up one notch.  The second recipe uses a mixer to blend the butter and wet ingredients and then you add the dry ingredients to it.  I think because this one uses the mixer, it seems like an easier recipe to me and I would make this one if I was in a hurry.  Although, honestly, the prep time is about the same (about 45 minutes start to finish).  But, the results are slightly different.  In a side-by-side taste test, Jon thought he preferred the muffins made the “classic” way over the second recipe.  However, both seemed to disappear at about the same rate.

Thanks to Mostly Muffins, my little cookbook-ette, for inspiring me.

Yogurt Fruit Smoothies

Recently our friends came to visit for the weekend and brought their 3 1/2 year old daughter for her first ski experience.  While she’s not a finicky eater, and is about the most adorable child in the whole entire world, getting her interested in food was the challenge.  She had never had a smoothie before, so I made these for breakfast.  They must have been a hit because this is what she requested for breakfast the next day, too.  I’m thinking that pleasing a 3-year old is about the best compliment in the world.

They are quick, easy and pack a punch of good-for-you stuff in them.

A few of notes about this recipe.  I’ve made this with many different combinations of fruits and juices.  We always seem to have Pomegranate juice on hand, so I use that.  And we keep a stash of blueberries in the freezer, so they are great for this recipe.  I’ve tried different yogurts, too, and my preference is a vanilla bean yogurt.  If you use a plain or Greek yogurt, add a tablespoon of vanilla to the recipe to add some flavor.  And, finally, I admit I use fresh-squeezed orange juice when I make these.  (Love my little juicer!)  But I’m sure it would work with any orange juice.

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Best French Toast Ever!

I learned this process of making French toast from the owner of a bed and breakfast in Portland, Oregon that I stayed in several years ago.  The trick, he taught me, is soaking the bread for several hours in the milk mixture.  As he pointed out, soaking the bread makes for moist pieces of French toast.  Otherwise, all you have is pieces of bread with a thin layer of fried egg cooked on the outside.  I’ve been making it this way ever since.

You need to start preparing this several hours before you make it.  I usually make it the night before.  Which is good, because that means most of your work will be done before it’s time to start cooking/serving.  Trust me, the recipe works.  When I first tried it, I was sure it wouldn’t work.  Friends have watched me make it, and they never think it’s going to work.  Everyone assumes the bread will just fall apart.  But it will work and it makes the moistest, best French toast.  And your whole house will smell wonderful.

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Oatmeal Worth Getting Out Of Bed For


This recipe will easily feed 4 – 5.  Leftovers can be kept for a day or two.  But be forewarned, after this sits in your refrigerator overnight, it will resemble Flubber (I’m actually old enough to remember the original Flubber movie) and has the consistency and look of paste.  Do not be discouraged!!!  Simply add a little milk (about one tablespoon per bowl), and reheat in the microwave for about 2 minutes.  (Or, on the stovetop if you’re really being true to Grandma and her oatmeal.)  Then, give it a really good stir and you’ll get it back to the right (and edible) consistency.

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