Our Favorite Pound Cake


This recipe is from Cook’s Country, called Cream Cheese Pound Cake.  The cream cheese does not do anything other than make it delicious.  You would never guess it is in there.  We like this in the winter and spring, served with berries and whipped cream.

We always bake pound cake recipes in small Bundt pans.  They are 6 cups each, instead of the standard 12 cup large Bundt.  One to keep, one to share.  A small slice holds up well in lunch boxes.DSC02442.jpg


You will need:

12 ounces of cake flour (3 cups, but better to weigh it)

1 t. salt

4 eggs and 2 extra yolk at room temperature

1/4 cup milk

2 t. vanilla extract

3 cups sugar

3 sticks of unsalted butter, softened

6 ounces cream cheese, softened

  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees.  Liberally spray 2 small Bundt pans with cooking spray.
  2. Mix salt and flour in one bowl.  Mix eggs, milk, and vanilla in another.
  3. Cream butter, sugar, and cream cheese on medium high until light and fluffy.  Slowly add egg mixture on low until just blended.  Add flour mixture one cup at a time until just blended.  Scrape down sides and mix a few seconds more.
  4. Scrape into prepared pans and bake about 60 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.  Remove from pans after about 5 minutes, or else they will stick.  Cool completely on wire racks.  Will keep well wrapped in plastic wrap a few days.



The Best Chicken Tenders (Buffalo if you want)

I see a lot of recipes for things that picky kids are supposed to like and I laugh, because my kids would never eat them in a million years.  When I think of picky eater recipes, I think of this.  All children, and all adults, will love them.  I promise.

This is our most frequently made dinner.  We eat it almost once a week, on either Saturday or Sunday, and have not tired of it for five years.  I highly recommend a deep fryer.  We have one that filters and stores the oil and it has paid for itself many times over in oil costs, convenience, and how much it has improved the quality of our food.  We use it for this recipe as well as frozen appetizers, egg rolls, homemade General Tso’s chicken, fried shrimp, and other things.

You will need:

8 chicken breast cutlets (Perdue frozen ones from Costco are our favorite)

2 cups of all purpose flour

2 cups of panko bread crumbs

2 eggs

1/2 cup of milk

1/2 t. of seasoned salt

1/4 t. of black pepper

Peanut or vegetable oil for frying

A deep fryer OR a candy thermometer

  1.  Cut your chicken into the size strips or tenders you want.  
  2. In one medium sized bowl, combine the eggs and milk
  3. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients
  4. Start heating your oil, either in a large Dutch oven or your fryer, to 360 degrees.
  5. Dip the chicken pieces into the the milk and egg mixture and then the flour/ panko mixture.  Do this one by one.  
  6. Fry until golden brown and dry on paper towels
  7. Serve plain with dipping sauce, OR toss in buffalo sauce (half melted butter and half Franks red hot).

This makes about 30 tenders, which don’t go as far as you might think! Any leftover chicken is great plain or on top of salads.

I serve these with homemade fries, which are easy peasy with a French fry cutter.  You simply cut russet potatoes using the fry cutter, soak them in ice water in the fridge for at least 2 hours, and fry them in the deep fryer.  They are fried twice.  First at 320 degrees for about 8 minutes, until lightly golden, then drained, and fried again at 375 for about 3 minutes until they are crispy as you would like.  Typically I do the first fry, set them aside, heat the oil to do the chicken, then do the second fry last.

The chicken can be breaded in the morning and stay in the fridge until dinner, along with the potatoes in their ice water bath.  Then all you have to do at dinner time is fry them.  Serve with a raw veggie to make life easy.



Honey Mustard Chicken with Bacon and Cheese

This is a meal we eat quite often because everyone likes it and the ingredients are always on hand.  I adapted it from my favorite cookbook, Taste of Home, Best Loved Recipes.  It is out of print and none of the other Taste of Home cookbooks are quite as good.


You will need:

For the marinade:

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon lemon juice

To assemble:

4 chicken breast cutlets

6 slices of bacon

1/2 cup cheddar or Mexican blend cheese

Salt, pepper, and paprika

  1.  Mix up the marinade ingredients and divide the marinade in half. Marinate the chicken in half of the marinade, in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, for 2-4 hours (not too long because of the lemon juice).  Reserve the rest of the marinade.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375. Bring chicken to room temperature for about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large cast iron skillet until partially cooked.  Drain bacon on paper towels
  3. Drain the the chicken.  Generously season with salt, pepper, and paprika.  Brown chicken in the same skillet, using bacon grease, on medium high, three minutes or so per side, until browned but not cooked through.
  4. Arrange chicken in single layer in a 9×13 baking dish.  Pour reserved marinade on top.  Layer cheese and bacon on top.
  5. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, until bacon is crispy and chicken is cooked through.

I served this with a Caesar salad and roasted potatoes for a simple weeknight meal.  I always leave one cutlet without cheese and bacon for the kids to share.




Banana Muffins with Caramel Icing


Maddie turned six this week, and instead of a party she wanted a day at Busch Gardens.  So she just had a special dinner of Chinese food and ice cream cake, two big purple and pink bouquets of flowers from the garden, and a beautifully decorated dining room designed by her cousin.


She didn’t ask for anything except a fidget spinner, which her dad refuses to buy because they are ridiculous.  But she was happy with her surprises: books, a Moana lego set, and two new puzzles.


(The fireplace hearth turned out to be the perfect spot; they fit fully assembled and can stay out a few days to be admired.)


A good big sister, and mom to her own baby in the corner.


(Don’t a few dahlias make every garden bouquet that much more special?)

She does not love sweets, and will eat very few treats that I bake.  She is the only person on earth who does not like chocolate chip cookies.  But this is one sweet she is always excited for, so I made it for her breakfast.  They are sweet, delicious, and quick.  They are good without the icing, but it is so simple that it is worth the effort, even in the morning.


Banana Muffins with Caramel Icing:

For the muffins:

1/4 cup shortening

1 cup white sugar

1 t. vanilla

1 t. baking soda

1 egg

3 large, very ripe bananas, mashed

1 1/2 cups of  flour

1/4 t. salt

For the icing:

2 T. butter

1 T. milk

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

  1.  Cream shortening and sugar in electric mixer until fluffy.  Beat in egg, bananas, and vanilla.  Combine flour, baking soda, and salt, adding to creamed mixture until just moistened.
  2. Fill paper lined muffin cups 3/4 full (should fill 12).  Bake at 350 for 22 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to cool on wire rack.
  3. To make icing, melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add brown sugar and milk, bring to a boil.  Cool slightly.   Whisk in confectioners sugar.  Drizzle over muffins.

Heath Bar Chocolate Chip Blondies


Almost two months of summer left, and it already feels like it is ending.  Today is one of those low humidity, not too hot, rare for Virginia perfect summer days.  More like how our fall weather is, but without school and early sunsets.  Most of our 53 windows are open and a breeze is blowing through every room.


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The garden is moving into late summer, as the more fall colored sunflowers start to bloom, like Autumn Beauty, Chianti, and the second planting of Jua Maya

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The first batch of Silver Queen corn is getting cut down this afternoon, with fall sugar snap peas, scallions, spinach, and cilantro going in its place. We had a cool and rainy day yesterday, which seemed to remind everyone summer won’t be here forever.







We baked this yummy treat together last week.  It will be a good one for lunch boxes and cooler days:

Toffee Chip Blondies

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-1 cup butter, melted

-1 3/4 cups light brown sugar

-2 eggs

-2 t. vanilla

-2 cups flour

–1/2 t. salt

-1 package of chocolate chips (12 oz)

-1 cup Heath bits

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line 9 x 13 casserole pan with foil, heavy duty if you have it, with enough overhang to make little foil handles.  Butter the foil.
  2. Using electric mixer, combine melted butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla, beat until well combined.  Add flour and salt, beat for just a few seconds until flour is incorporated.  Gently stir in chocolate chips and Heath bits.
  3. Pour batter into pan, bake for 25 minutes.  The bars will cool to doneness and will look underbaked at first.  Allow to cool in the pan, removing with foil handles when completely cooled and ready to cut.

Marble Cake







Our awful heat wave finally broke and we have been able to go outside again.  Windows open in the morning, time reading on the porch, garden work without feeling like you might actually die.  It is so nice.

This recipe is from Taste of Home, called Marvelous Marble Cake.  It was a lot of work (done 99% by my niece, INCLUDING THE DISHES!) and is VERY sweet.  I wouldn’t make it again but it will certainly get eaten.


Easy Shrimp Scampi

The only seafood anyone else in the family will eat is shrimp, and maybe a crab cake or crab dip once a year.  This is one of our favorite ways to eat it, and we always serve it with bread, salad, and fresh fruit for a fresh and easy meal.

Make sure the pasta starts cooking before you start the shrimp as it comes together very quickly.  Have your sides ready too.  The wine can be left out if you won’t drink the rest of the bottle.  It’s not worth opening one for the small amount that goes in the sauce.


Shrimp Scampi Over Linguine

3 T. butter

3 T. olive oil

5 cloves of garlic

1/2 t. lemon zest

Juice of 1 lemon

Splash of dry white wine

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 t. salt

half a pint of cherry tomatoes (I used sungold)

ground pepper to taste

fresh or dried parsley, a few tablespoons fresh or teaspoon dried

pound of shrimp, peeled (previously frozen is fine)

box of linguine or other pasta

  1. Start cooking the pasta to al dente
  2. Melt the butter and olive oil together over low and sauce the garlic until no longer raw, about a minute or two
  3. Add the shrimp, whole cherry tomatoes, and salt, stirring until shrimp are almost cooked, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the black pepper, red pepper, lemon juice and zest, and white wine, and cook for three minutes more. Add fresh or dried parsley, just for color.
  5. Remove from heat and toss with pasta




Simple Sunday Roast Chicken

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It has been a quiet summer so far, relaxing at home, swimming in our water trough “pool”, taking out of focus pictures, etc.  My niece is visiting for six weeks and has been a great help around the house keeping the older girls entertained.

I have been trying to be careful to serve simple food since I know she is a little picky.  I already have three other picky eaters so adding another is a challenge.  I serve everything family style on big platters so she can take or leave whatever she would like.  This was a meal that pleased everyone and was easy for Sunday.   No last minute rushing, no sweating over the cooktop.



First the chicken is rinsed, brought to room temp, and patted dry.  Then it is rubbed with kosher salt.  I make a mix of softened butter, onion powder, parsley, pepper, and thyme, and rub that on the skin.  It is baked at 350 on the convection roast setting for an hour and a half.  Easy as can be, no real recipe needed.  Whatever herbs and spices you have and your family likes will be fine.  If you don’t have a roasting pan, use a 9X13 casserole dish.  If you don’t have a convection oven, just keep checking the internal temp until it is 160 and the skin is browned.

I served it with a BLT salad (just a chopped salad with romaine, diced tomato, crumbled bacon, and ranch),  corn on the cob from the garden, and French rolls since Matt will only eat roast chicken as a chicken sandwich.



The roll recipe comes from Bread Machine Magic.  The recipe is called “Authentic French Bread”, divided into rolls and baked for only 12 minutes.

It was a nice meal that could be prepared earlier in the day.  All that had to be done at the last minute was the corn, which is just steamed for four minutes in hot water, and to toss the salad with ranch.  Roast chicken is one of those things that looks impressive, but is a million times less work than a casserole or pasta dish.  Perfect for a Sunday.

Almost Summer, and Bread Machine Coffee Cake




This recipe has a lot of steps, but not too much hands on time.  There are separate sets of ingredients for the dough, the cinnamon topping, and the glaze.

Moravian Sugar Cake Recipe, From Bread Machine Magic

The dough:

Instant Potato Flakes 1/3 cup

Water 5/8 cup

Butter 1/3 cup

Sugar 1/3 cup

Salt 1/2 teaspoon

Vanilla 1/2 teaspoon

AP flour, 2 cups

Yeast 2 teaspoons

Add all ingredients to bread machine on dough cycle.  When cycle is complete, stretch and press the dough into a greased 9×13 pan.

Allow the dough to proof in a warm oven until doubled (about 45 minutes).

Meanwhile, make the topping.


2/3 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Once the dough has proofed, gently punch indentations in it with your finger, and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar topping on.

Then, drizzle on 1/3 cup melted butter

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool in pan.

For the icing:

Combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 3 teaspoons milk.

Drizzle over cooled cake.  Serve out of the pan.











These are what the name implies.  They come together very quickly, use ingredients I’m sure you have on hand, and are a nice crowd pleaser.  I only do cut out decorated sugar cookies four times a year at most.  They are just too much work and too much cleaning up to do regularly.

These cookies, however, are perfect for a treat for the family.  Cutouts cannot be served only to family, as it is a complete waste of effort.  You won’t feel martyred if you serve these up to your kids and husband and no one admires your hard work. Roll them in a seasonally colored sugar if you want to go crazy.

They use half butter and half shortening.  You could use just butter if you want, but the Crisco keeps them softer and milder tasting.  I have done them with just shortening, but the recipe is best as is.

Soft and Simple Sugar Cookies

-1/2 cup butter, softened

-1/2 cup shortening such as Crisco

-1 cup granulated sugar

-1 egg

-1 teaspoon vanilla

-2 1/4 cups AP flour

-1/2 teaspoon baking powder

-1/2 teaspoon baking soda

coarse/ colored sugar for rolling

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Cream fats and sugar in stand mixer for about 3 minutes, until creamy and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla.
  2. Combine dry ingredients.  On low speed, add slowly to butter mixture until combined.
  3. Roll in to tablespoon sized balls, roll in sparkling sugar, and place on parchment lined baking sheets.  Gently flatten with a glass.  They will spread a little.
  4. Bake 13 minutes, or until set.  Makes about 30-36 cookies.




Soft and Simple Sugar Cookies