Caramel Popcorn with Pecans

It’s Christmas Eve and Walter and I are making caramel popcorn with pecans while watching It’s a Wonderful Life. We decided to stay home this year and not go anywhere. I always have to be making something so this sounded like fun. We’re going to take some with us tomorrow when we go to the movies to see Sherlock Holmes.

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Christmas Cut Out Cookies

Christmas Cut Out Cookies

It doesn’t seem like Christmas to me unless I make sugar cut out cookies. I love to collect cookie cutters. Some are whimsical, like my dancing elf, some are fun like the leaping reindeer and some are pretty like the many snowflake cutters that I have. When I’m in a hurry I just use colored sugars to decorate them. When I have lots of time I like to paint the designs on with royal icing. I have too much going on lately, so this is a quickie batch just to show you the basics.

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Swiss meringue buttercream is the perfect frosting when you want a satiny smooth frosting that isn’t over sweet. There is enough chocolate in the cupcake to really make your taste buds happy.The two together make for a super yummy cupcake. I’m making some for Valentine’s Day this year.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream1

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Master Muffin Recipe

I love that this recipe makes exactly 12 muffins. And that you can add just about anything you want to them. I hate having to search for a specific type of muffin recipe.This recipe lets you create whatever tickles your fancy. Plus you can make the batter in just a few minutes. 

I saw some nice looking Granny Smith apples so I decided to make apple walnut muffins. They bake up light and tasty! Plus you can add a struesel topping.

Master Muffin Recipe

  • Preheat oven to 365 degrees  (midway between 350 and 375)
  • Line muffin tin with paper muffin cups
  • Make streusel :
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Combine all ingredients and set aside to cool.
  • I put mine in the refrigerator
  • When cool use fingers to crumble
  • Prepare 1-1/2 cups of fruit and/or nuts and set aside.
  • (Any combination that makes up 1-1/2 cups)
  • Use peaches, apple, banana, walnuts, pecans – whatever you like.
  • Peel the apple(s) and dice into small pieces.
  • I used 1-1/4 cups diced apple and 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • In a medium bowl combine:
  • 1-1/4 sticks unsalted butter, melted (and cooled to barely warm)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk, room temperature (carefully heat a little in the microwave if its too cold, should be tepid)Whisk first and combine 1 egg, room temp
  • (I fill a small bowl with warm water and add the egg to bring it to room temperature)
  • Whisk together and set aside:
  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Make a well in the flour mixture
  • Pour in the butter mixture
  • Add the apple and walnuts (or other combination)
  • Fold to combine
  • No more than 10 strokes
    Master Muffin Recipe1 
  • Spoon into muffin cups
  • Add streusel (optional) Recipe follows
  • Tip for adding streusel. Make a paper collar
  • Take  piece of parchment paper or wax paper
  • and cut to 8-1/2″ by 5″. Roll up and tape so you have a tube shape.
  • This collar will prevent the streusel from going all over the place.
  • Hold over each muffin before baking and spoon 2 Tablespoon of streusel.

    Master Muffin Recipe3


  • Bake 17 minutes
  • Check to see if they are done with a tooth pick, it should come out clean when inserted into the middle of a muffin.
  • If not bake 1-2 more minutes
    Master Muffin Recipe
    Master Muffin Recipe


  • If you just want to drizzle a little glaze over the top instead of adding the streusel here’s the recipe for a lemon icing.
  • Lemon Muffin Icing
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Combine and stir together
  • Drizzle over the cooled muffins

Walter’s Salad

Walter's Salad
Walter’s Salad

This salad is named after my husband who twenty one years ago asked me to make a salad with a spicy peanut dressing. Little did I know then that I was creating a Thai type of dressing. This was back in 1989. There were no Thai cookbooks available. I love making all kinds of sauces and dressings. So I set to work. I was a little worried about putting this on the menu at the cafe. If I had called it Thai chicken salad nobody would have had a clue as to what it was. So I held my breath and waited for the reaction. It quickly became our most popular lunch item. Everyone loved the rice sticks and the spicy peanut sauce as most people referred to the dressing.

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Granola Bars with Dried Cherries, Pecans and Almonds

Granola Bars with Dried Cherries, Pecans and Almonds
Granola Bars with Dried Cherries, Pecans and Almonds

Granola Bars with Dried Cherries, Pecans and Almonds 

I made so much of this granola when we had our cafe. It’s a quick grab and go breakfast. It’s easy to make your own granola bars. Use whatever combination of nuts and dried fruit you want. It may look like this is a really sweet granola with the amount of honey and brown sugar used but it is barely sweet. I love the taste of dried cherries so I had to add them.

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Salted Peanut and White Chocolate Rice Krispy Treat Bunnies

Salted Peanut and White Chocolate Rice Krispy Treat Bunnies
Salted Peanut and White Chocolate Rice Krispy Treat Bunnies

This is my favorite version of Rice Krispy Treats. With the addition of salted peanuts and peanut butter chips it’s the perfect combo of sweet to salty. Be warned! These are addicting. I like to cut Rice Krispy Treats out with cookie cutters. These are easy and fast to make. You can leave them plain or spoon melted white chocolate over them.

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Blackberry Streusel Muffins with Blackberry Syrup

Blackberry Muffins
Blackberry Muffins

I just love berries! But sometimes you have too many or the berries aren’t sweet or they can be hard. That’s when I make muffins and syrup. This muffin recipe makes a batter that is on the stiff side so it won’t spread out of the muffin cup during baking. You’ll have nice big muffins with lots of berries inside. I like to make a blackberry syrup to serve with the muffins. 

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