So Many To Choose From … Cheese Straws, Cheese Wafers … How About Trying These Parmesan and Pecan Shortbread!


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If you’re like me, you probably have Aunt Suzie’s recipe for Cheese Straws, and Grandma Ida’s recipe for Cheese Wafers, all made very similar with cheddar cheese, butter and red pepper flakes.  Don’t get me wrong, they are all wonderful family recipes and should have a special place in your recipe box.

But let’s break out of that recipe box and try something different.  These Parmesan and Pecan Shortbread think they are “cookies” but I like to think of them as just darn good and mouth-watering delicious.  Call them cookies, shortbread or wafers, but just call them to your kitchen for your next gathering of friends.


When I try a new recipe, I make it exactly the way it was written, and then the next time around I make any changes that fit my palate.  I absolutely love the flavor combinations of this shortbread, but I would make them just a bit smaller than the recipe states.  The dough is so flaky that it crumbles when you bite into them.  I think these need to be a “one-bite” cookie.  Also, I like the addition of pecans but next time I think I may try to chop them fine and sprinkle on top instead of using a pecan half.  Not sure if the chopped pecans will stick, so I may have to use a dab of milk on each one before adding the chopped nuts.

You can absolutely make this recipe the way it is and they will be delicious with just the right about of heat … notice the recipe calls for black pepper and ground red pepper (cayenne).  Just be aware they are a bit crumbly, which is better than being too dry.

These are perfect as an appetizer or with your favorite soup or salad.  I will definitely make these again but with a few tweaks.

For recipe, click here:  Parmesan and Pecan Shortbread

Hope you’ll give them a try.  If you “tweak” your recipe and are happy with the outcome, be sure to drop me a note here on my blog.

Happy Baking … you can always find me in the kitchen. ~ Barbara

Blueberry Ale … In Cupcakes? But of Course!


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My sister goes grocery shopping and comes home with a bottle of Blueberry Ale.  “What can you bake with this?” she asks of me.  “Hmmm, let me see”, I say.

How about incorporating the ale into a cupcake recipe?  We have fresh blueberries and lemons, always a good combination and I have my “go to” recipe for cupcakes. “Sounds good to me” says Sis.  Let’s start baking!

DSC_5209_crop_logo_webThe recipe (see link below) is my “go to” recipe for cupcakes with changes made for different flavor profiles. This cupcake recipe goes together quickly and makes 12 tasty cupcakes.  The alcohol will cook out, but the flavor remains.  Frost with your favorite frosting.  My favorite frosting is Betty Crocker’s Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting.  There is no need to make your own frosting when there are many excellent frostings in your grocery store. But don’t tell anyone that I don’t make my own frosting.

Click here for recipe:  Blueberry Ale Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

Blueberry Ale is not just a refreshing libation on a hot summer’s day, it also adds flavor and moistness to these delectable cupcakes.

Have a swig on me! See ya in the kitchen ~ Barbara

Scones Are Not Just For High Tea … Spicy Pepper Jack with Sausage Scones are Perfect for Breakfast


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Many years ago my aunt and I worked side-by-side to bring afternoon teas together for her family and friends.  Scones, tea breads, cold soups, sandwiches, and small dessert bites were always on the menu, not to mention the tea-pot shaped cake. What better way to spend the afternoon than sharing a cup of tea and light bites.

Scones were always a big part of these teas. One of my favorite things to do is try new flavor combinations, whether it be with cookies, tea breads or scones.  I finally developed a good “base” recipe for scones and now the fun begins with new flavor profiles.  The scone featured here is perfect for breakfast or brunch.  It mixes together very quickly and bakes in about 15 minutes.


This recipe uses Pepper Jack cheese, breakfast sausage and fresh jalapenos.  I waited until my fresh jalapeno peppers turned red and added them to these scones.  Since I remove all the seeds and ribs, they did not add any additional heat, but some nice color.  The level of heat is up to you.

For our breakfast I added an over easy egg and fresh fruit. If I were making these for an afternoon tea, I would make them half the size of what the recipe states as they are very filling, or just bake them for a brunch with family and friends.


For recipe, click here:  Spicy Pepper Jack and Sausage Scones

Don’t forget to add a pot of tea, some flowers for your table and pretty cups.  It’s all about the experience.  Tea and scones anyone? ~ Barbara

Say It Isn’t So … Football Season Already? Okay Then, Get Out The Popcorn!


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Carolina Panthers Alert!  Pre-Season starts Thursday, August 11 at 7:30pm (ET) at Baltimore.  Go Panthers!

I like my snacks salty, don’t you?   So why have I gone rogue? It’s all thanks to my “Sweet Aunt from Pomona.”  Well, technically she wasn’t my aunt, she was my second cousin on my mother’s side, but when you’re just a tot, it was more of a courtesy to refer to her as Aunt.  And, yes, she lived in Pomona, California.  My family would spend many weekends visiting Aunt Helen and Uncle Jack and she would always bake or cook something new and delicious.  Don’t even get me started on her homemade beef jerky with red pepper flakes! In fact, I just found that recipe the other night.  Another blog post??


Homemade Caramel Corn

Okay, enough on Sweet Aunt Helen, now on to the Caramel Corn.  She would make this every time we visited and she didn’t mind sharing her recipes.  The difference in this caramel corn is its creaminess and subtle flavors.  I used microwave popcorn, just plain butter is fine.  Follow the directions about cooking the butter, sugar and corn syrup but then be careful when you add the baking soda and vanilla as the volume increases substantially and becomes nice and foamy.  To me, that is the key to the success of this caramel corn.  I added chopped cashews, but they are optional. You could also try pecans or macadamia nuts, whatever you fancy.

Make a batch of this caramel corn, grab the remote and tune in to your favorite show, movie, or, yes, FOOTBALL game!

For the recipe, click here: Homemade Caramel Corn

Go Panthers, go Tennessee Titans, go Oakland Raiders, go Pittsburgh Steelers … okay, that covers it for all of my family.  See ya around the popcorn popper. ~ Barbara

Streusel Figgy Scones … Don’t Call The Scone Police On Me!


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I know, I know … who ever heard of a streusel topping for scones!!  I am asserting my creative rights into this recipe, much like I do with my photography … because I can.  And I have to say, it works!


I still had a small container of fresh figs given to me by my neighbor, so what better way to use them than in scones.  The fresh figs add moistness to the scones that are already very light, so be careful when adding the half and half.  It won’t take much more than the 3/4 cup called for in the recipe.  Your mixture should be a little crumbly, not too wet.

After a short baking time, you’re ready to add a bit of cream cheese and orange fig jam for even more “figgy” flavors. These scones remind me of my mother’s all-time favorite Sour Cream Coffee Cake which I’m sure most of you have had, at one time or another.  The only difference is the streusel for the coffee cake was in the middle of the cake, not on top.  But the flavor profiles are very similar and a fond reminder.

For recipe, click here:  Streusel Figgy Scones

I hope you will assert your creativity, not only in your baking, but to whatever you do … because you can.

Hope to see you ya the kitchen ~Barbara

Fresh Figs – Summertime Jewels


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What do you do when neighbors and friends bring you fresh figs?  Say “thank you” and get cooking.  You know how much I love to try something new, so I checked out my refrig and found a small container of mascarpone cheese and half of jar of Divina Orange Fig Spread.  Perfect, I said to myself, just the right combination for this simple, but tasty, appetizer.


I knew I wanted to add a bit of sweetness to the mascarpone cheese and also to the fresh figs, but since my sister does not like honey, the Orange Fig Spread would add the perfect balance to both.  You can use any type of bread as long as you toast both sides before spreading on the cheese mixture and figs.  The chopped pistachios add a nice crunch, but are not necessary.  A quick and simple appetizer that is sure to please all the fig lovers … and who isn’t a fig lover??

For the recipe, click here: Caramelized Fig and Mascarpone Crostini

To learn more about the Divina Orange and Fig Spread, click here: Orange and Fig Spread

Fig Jam

If you are in the Southport, North Carolina area, be sure to stop by the Southport Cheese Shoppe where you can find this Orange Fig Spread, along with many other jams, jellies, olives and cheeses. Owners, Lisa and Eric Stettner, will be happy to help you with your selections. The Southport Cheese Shoppe is located at 417 B North Howe Street, Southport, NC 28461.  Phone: 910-477-6387.
Click here for their website:  Southport Cheese Shoppe
Click here to visit their Facebook page:  Southport Cheese Shoppe

Hope to see ya in the kitchen as I try another new recipe with figs. ~Barbara

You Don’t Have To Be British To Enjoy Scones … Give These A Go!


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I have many, many recipes for scones and they are all delicious, but I think this new recipe takes the cake … or should I say, scone!

But what is a scone? British scones do not use a lot of butter, or fat, in their dough and very rarely do they have fancy add-ins, although they might have currants or raisins.  American scones have a higher ratio of fat to flour, plus many variations on flavor combinations.  For example, take a look at my latest Spinach-Feta Scones.


I am all about bold flavors and unique combinations in my baking.  The bold flavor in the scones comes from the salty Feta cheese which pairs nicely with fresh spinach and red pimentos for a splash of color.  Fresh from the oven, just add a bit of butter. If you make them in time for breakfast, just add a crispy over-easy egg and a couple of slices of bacon or breakfast sausage.  These scones also pair nicely with any hearty soup or fresh garden salad for a tasty lunch meal.


This recipe makes 8 good-sized scones and is the perfect “base” recipe for other flavor profiles.  You might try substituting pepper jack cheese for the feta and adding a bit of cooked and crumbled breakfast sausage and fresh jalapeno peppers.  That sounds like a winning combination to me!

For recipe, click here:  Spinach-Feta Scones

Use your imagination to come up with your own winning combination.  Oh, and don’t forget to have a cup of tea.  See you in the kitchen ~Barbara

Summertime and Fresh Blueberries … the Perfect Combination for this Coffee Cake


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When I was living in Tennessee with my mother, we would travel to the local farms and pick blueberries, enough to last us all winter. I would freeze them, make tea breads and scones or just eat them fresh.  I don’t remember eating blueberries while growing up, so I’m making up for lost time.

Blueberry Coffee Cake

Blueberry Coffee Cake

Of all my recipes for blueberries, this coffee cake is one of my favorites as it goes together quickly and can be baked while your family or guests are still sleeping.  They will be in for a real treat when they sit down to the table for breakfast.  Scramble some eggs, add bacon or sausage, pour the hot coffee (or tea) and enjoy.

The benefits of blueberries are many, low in calories, notable health benefiting plant-nutrients such as soluble dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and pigment anti-oxidants that contribute immensely towards optimum health and wellness, plus, blueberries are among the highest anti-oxidant value fruits.  Eat them often, I know I do.

For recipe, click here:  Blueberry Coffee Cake

Be sure to take time and sit down with family and friends, enjoy good food and enjoy good conversation.  See ya around the farm table ~ Barbara

Delicate Shortbread Cookies “Kissed” with Orange Zest and Dried Figs … Perfect for Afternoon Tea


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Growing up in Southern California, Fig Newtons were a staple for our afternoon snacks.  Who can resist the sweet taste of figs, the crunchy sound of the seeds, and the delicate cookie that embraced the fig filling?  And they were good for us, too!

Have you ever tried to make your own fig cookies?  I have, but with not much success, and they were too time consuming.

But now I will do one better … Dried Fig and Orange Shortbread Cookies.


I have made a lot of shortbread cookies in my time, but this new recipe is now my all-time favorite.  A few ingredients are all you need to bring together this delicate shortbread cookie that is “kissed” with orange zest and orange extract and speckled with bits of dried figs. The key is to chill the dough and then after the cookies are cut into shape, chill again to keep them from spreading too thin.

And how pretty they would look all wrapped up to share with family and friends!

If you don’t like figs (heaven forbid), you can substitute dried cranberries as they pair well with orange.  Or experiment with dried blueberries, lemon zest, lemon extract and a hint of nutmeg. Now that’s a winning combination.  This is a great basic shortbread cookie that will lend itself well to varying flavor combinations.

Click here for recipe:  Dried Fig and Orange Shortbread Cookies

Hope you’ll give them a try.  See ya in the kitchen. ~ Barbara


Fresh Peaches, Peach Wheat Ale and Cream Cheese – A Good Combination for ….


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You got it … Peach Ale Peaches and Cream Baked Donuts!  I purchased several different ales at our new Loews Foods store a little while back as I had dreams of incorporating them in some new dishes this summer.

Yesterday, while we were working our set-up at the Oak Island Farmers Market, I purchased South Carolina peaches from one of the produce vendors.  I only thought of eating them fresh, but then my sister says, “Wait a minute, you’ve got some RJ Rockers Peach Wheat Ale in the refrig”.  “What can you make with Peach Ale and fresh peaches?”  Here is what I made, Peach Ale Peaches and Cream Baked Donuts (and if you ask me, I think the donuts already look a bit tipsy!!)


No matter what anyone says, you can find just about anything on the Internet. I typed in “recipe for peach baked doughnuts with peach ale” and up popped several listings, but this blog post from “Beer Girl Cooks” caught my eye. So instead of me trying to create my own recipe, I followed her recipe to the letter. I don’t think I’ve ever seen vanilla paste so I just used vanilla in the dough and then I used some of the leftover peach ale in the glaze.

I used two medium fresh peaches, diced them fine and incorporated them in the wet ingredients instead of layering them on top of the dough and it worked great.  The donuts are moist with pockets of cream cheese sprinkled throughout and the ale glaze is the perfect topping.  Who needs fried donuts when you can get practically the same result with baked donuts?  This recipe is definitely a keeper, so thanks very much to “Beer Girl Cooks.”

Click here to read her blog post and the recipe for these donuts:  Beer Girl Cooks

I know what I’m having for breakfast in the morning … and yes, it’s never too early for a swig of beer.  I hope you give these a try.

See ya in the kitchen ~ Barbara


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