Better than Grandma’s Pie Crust

Recipe yields enough dough for two flaky buttery pie crusts. I usually double recipe, which yields enough dough for one pie and a 9″ x 13″ pan. This crust is great for pies, cobblers, dumplings, etc. Although I’m posting photos … Continue reading

Super Lemony Lemon Coconut Cake

Lemon Coconut

This is a fairly easy recipe for a great Spring time dessert. I created this recipe Easter 2014 because every lemon cake recipe I’ve ever used was never lemony enough. Trust me, if you like that tart lemony bite, this cake has it. How? I use lemon oil!! Lemon oil is approximately $10 for 0.5 ounce and goes rancid rather quickly, so it is best to refrigerate it upon opening. This is a great recipe for cupcakes too. I simply sliced the tops off horizontally, topped with curd, replaced the top and frosted. Makes 24 standard sized cupcakes, 1 3 layer 9 in round cake, or 1/2 sheet cake. By the way, this cake recipe is amazingly moist!! Simply remove the lemon ingredients and you have a great yellow cake recipe. 

Lemon Coconut Cupcakes, Triple Chocolate Sheet Cake (recipe coming soon), hot crossed buns, homemade peanut butter eggs, etc.

Lemon Coconut Cupcakes, Triple Chocolate Sheet Cake (recipe coming soon), hot crossed buns with cinnamon butter, homemade peanut butter eggs, etc.

Ingredients for Basic Moist (Lemon) Yellow Cake*

2 1/4 cups cake flour

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup milk in a 2 cup measuring cup, add enough vegetable oil to bring milk level to 1 1/3 cups

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter softened

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs room temperature

1/2 teaspoon lemon oil (use an eye dropper)

2 teaspoons lemon powder

2 teaspoons ground lemon zest

2 drops lemon food coloring

*Simply omit the lemon oil, lemon powder, ground lemon zest, AND yellow food coloring  for a very moist basic yellow cake

Lemon Oil, Ground Lemon Zest, and Lemon Powder

Lemon Oil, Ground Lemon Zest, and Lemon Powder

Ingredients for Lemon Curd Filling

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon lemon zest OR 1 tablespoon ground lemon zest

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

4 teaspoons corn starch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon salted butter

Ingredients for Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

2 tablespoons ground lemon zest/finely shredded lemon zest

8 ounces softened cream cheese

1/2 cup softened salted butter

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon powder

1/2 teaspoon lemon oil

5 cups confectionery sugar

Ingredients for Coconut  Coating

3 cups shredded sweetened coconut

Optional- 3 drops food coloring of your choice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Prepare three (3) 9 x 1.5-inch round pans OR 1/2 sheet pan by either spraying with cooking spray or cutting wax paper to fit bottom of pans (spray pans with cooking spray, place the wax paper in the pans and spray the paper)

In large mixing bowl combine cake flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix until well incorporated.

Add the milk/oil mixture and butter to dry ingredients. Beat on medium-high for 2 minutes. While beating add vanilla (and lemon oil, lemon powder, and ground lemon zest if making a lemon cake).

Add eggs one at a time and continue beating on medium an additional 2-3 minutes.

Pour batter into prepared pan(s). Cut wax paper to fit the bottom of (3) 9 x 1 1/2-inch round pans. Spray the pans with cooking spray, place the wax paper in the pans and spray the paper. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean.

          While cake is baking make lemon curd. In a medium sauce pan over medium low heat add water, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice,corn starch, and salt. Whisk ingredients until well incorporated. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes. Reduce temperature to low and remove pan from heat. Stir in butter and cool. Refrigerate until ready to use. FYI the curd will be a pale yellow color. If you desire a more intense yellow color then add a drop or two of yellow food coloring.

Cool cake on wire rack for 15-20 minutes or until cool.

For frosting, mix cream cheese and butter on medium speed. Once well blended add confectionery sugar one cup at a time, adding next cup once the previous cup is completely incorporated. Add lemon zest, powder, and oil. Mix/blend an additional minute. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

When ready to assemble, place curd between cake layers. Frost cake. Immediately, mix coconut and food coloring. Pat coconut evenly over cake while icing is still wet. Cover/store cake appropriately.

Shredded Sweetened Coconut

Colored Coconut

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash soup. The perfect first course to your Thanksgiving meal.

Butternut squash soup. The perfect first course for your Thanksgiving meal. The soup tureen is a staple in my kitchen. Great for serving soups and stews directly from the table.



I serve this soup as my first course every Thanksgiving. It is a simple soup with lots of flavor. For an added treat, I usually top it with duck confit (duck thighs that have been browned in duck fat and shredded) or browned diced ham and a little creme fraiche. Once you try this, you too will make it a staple on your Thanksgiving table.

Serves 10-12 cups OR 6-8 large bowls. 


3 lbs butternut or any seasonal squash peeled, seeds removed, and cut into large pieces (for easy skin removal, cut in half, remove seeds, cover in plastic wrap and microwave until slightly soft— Please note, many grocery chains now sell squash already peeled and cut up. This is a great time saver when preparing for large groups.)

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and cut into quarters

4 carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces

2 granny smith apples (although any apples that you happen to have on hand will work too), peeled and cut into quarters

1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil + 1/2 tablespoon salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter

2 quarts chicken stock

3 sprigs each: fresh thyme, and fresh sage

2 dried bay leaves

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1/2 tablespoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with foil.

Toss onions, apples, carrots, and squash with olive oil in large bowl. Place in even layer on sheet pan and sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 15- 20 minutes. Then cover with foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.  Vegetables should be soft.

Roasted squash, apple, onion, and carrot

Roasted squash, apple, onion, and carrot

Remove vegetables from oven and set pan aside.

In large heavy pot add 1 1/2 quarts of chicken stock. Reserve half of one quart for later use.

Heat on medium and add fresh thyme and sage. Reduce temperature and allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place roasted vegetables into blender 1-2 cups at a time. Add some of the reserved chicken stock to each batch for easy blending, Blend on low until smooth velvety consistency. If using an immersion stick/blender, simply add all vegetables and remaining stock to pot with chicken stock and blend.

Pour blended vegetables into chicken stock. Add butter, ginger, nutmeg, salt, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves. Stir. Allow soup to simmer on low for an additional 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves, thyme stems, and whole sage leaves.

Remove soup from heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Slowly whisk in heavy cream (optional).

Return to pot to lowest stove setting. Soup is ready to serve.

Peach BBQ Sauce

Peach BBQ Sauce shown atop grilled Baby-Back pork ribs

Peach BBQ Sauce shown atop grilled Baby-Back pork ribs


This is a great homemade bbq sauce. You can alter the flavor using your favorite fruit nectars and jams. I often combine flavors, making a tamarind peach sauce or a passion fruit guava sauce. Use as you would your store bought bbq sauces… but as you’ll see, this is much much MUCH tastier! You’re welcome to reduce the sugar content by decreasing the amount of brown sugar and jam, and adding sugar free ketchup or sugar free tomato sauce.



2 tablespoons butter

1 onion diced

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

8 ounces peach nectar

2 teaspoons ground mustard

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

1 jar (18 ounces) peach preserves


In a medium saucepan, melt butter and saute onion over low heat until soft/translucent. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat, covered, for 15 minutes until thick uniform sauce. Yields about 3 cups.

Clean Salad Dressing and Marinade

I use this recipe to top my green salads and even to marinate meat. These simple 4 ingredients make a fresh accompaniment!


1 lemon
1 tablespoon creole/ course mustard
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon clover honey

In small bowl whisk vinegar, mustard, and honey. Squeeze whole lemon into mixture, careful not to include lemon seeds. Whisk again and chill until ready for use. Whisk each time you want to use, for ingredients will settle at bottom of bowl.