16 ounce carton Cool Whip
20 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
24 ounce carton small curd cottage cheese
2, 3 ounce boxes strawberry Jello

Blend together the cottage cheese, Jello and pineapple. Gently fold in the whipped topping. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

This was Layla’s first time helping Grammy make Pink Salad. It’s one of her Daddy’s favorites. And as usual, the cook got the first taste!

Some of my best recipes are accidents that come together because I was searching my pantry for something I could quickly throw together. This usually happens when I forget to thaw something, or to adequately plan for my week. Or, when the fresh fixins’ are running low on a Friday night. This is one of those Friday night versions recipes that turned out to be really tasty.

INGREDIENTS:

16 ounces of penne pasta
4 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
4 strips thick cut bacon, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons diced jalapeno (optional)
1 15.5 ounce jar of your favorite queso dip (I used On the Border Monterey Jack Queso)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Boil the 4 quarts of water with 1 tablespoon salt. Cook the penne pasta until just al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a skillet on medium high and add the bacon. Let it begin to soften and render. Add the onion and green pepper. When the onion and green pepper start to get soft, add the garlic and jalapeno. Let the mixture cook together until the bacon has browned and the vegetables are tender. Remove from heat.

When pasta is done, drain and return the pasta to the pot. Add in the bacon and vegetable mixture. Microwave the queso dip for about 90 seconds. Add the queso dip to the pasta and toss together. Serve immediately.

Recipe note: This is an easy meatless meal. Just leave out the bacon.

Sometimes the best recipes are the result of an accident or being forced to work with only what you have on hand.

I first made this recipe when my little sister, Sue, asked for it as her birthday treat a couple of years ago. The first time I made it, I put it together, per the recipe instructions, in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. This time, I decided to use a spring form pan so that the beautiful layers were highlighted. This is a no-bake dessert from OMGChocolateDesserts.com. Takes a bit of preparation, but it’s totally worth it when the reception it gets is OMG! This is wonderful!

FOR THE OREO CRUST:
36 Golden Oreo Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE LAYER:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cup whipped cream (can use Cool Whip if desired)
1 1/3 cup diced fresh strawberries

STRAWBERRY JELLO LAYER:
3 ounce box strawberry flavored gelatin
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup strawberry Greek yogurt
4 cups whipped cream (can use Cool Whip if desired)

Topping:
2-3 cups whipped cream (can use Cool Whip if desired)
4-5 oz. white chocolate bar to make the curls (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:
To make the crust, grind whole OREO Cookies with the filling in a food processor to make fine crumbs. In a bowl, stir together 1/2 cup melted butter with the OREO crumbs until evenly moistened, then press the mixture in the bottom of 9×13 inch dish, set in the freezer to firm while making cheesecake layer.

In a bowl, cream together 1/2 cup softened butter, softened cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. Add 1 1/4 cup whipped cream and mix to combine. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in diced strawberries and spread the mixture over chilled crust. Place in the fridge.

In a large bowl, place strawberry jello, add 1/2 cup boiling water and stir to dissolve completely. Whisk in 1 cup strawberry Greek yogurt until combined. Add 4 cups whipped cream and mixe until combined. Pour the mixture over the cream cheese layer and smooth the top.

Refrigerate 2-3 hours until set. Spread 2 cups whipped cream on top.

To make the curls, carefully draw a vegetable peeler across the broad surgace of a bar of white chocolate at room temperature. Sprinkle curls on top. Refrigerate for 2 more hours before serving, or overnight.

Store in the refrigerator.


This is an impressive, yet easy dessert. Make sure you let your white chocolate get to room temp before attempting to make chocolate curls – if it’s too cold, it will more closely resemble coconut!

What’s better than the combination of blueberries and lemon when summer comes? I found this recipe on delish.com and it screamed “Bake me! Bake me!” And so I did…

INGREDIENTS FOR THE BLUEBERRY TOPPING: 

2 cups blueberries 

1 tbsp. granulated sugar

2 tbsp. lemon juice

FOR THE CAKE:

Cooking spray

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened

1 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. lightly packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp. lemon zest

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 

3/4 c.whole milk

FOR GARNISH:

1 c. cold heavy cream

2 tbsp. powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease an 9″ round cake pan with cooking spray. Make blueberry topping: In a small bowl, combine blueberries with sugar and lemon juice and toss to coat. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan and arrange into an even layer.
  2. Make cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, then add lemon zest and vanilla and beat until combined. Add half of the dry ingredients to wet ingredients, beating until just combined. Pour in milk and mix until fully incorporated. Add remaining dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  4. Pour cake batter over blueberries and smooth with a spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 1 hour. Let cool in pan 15 minutes then invert onto a cooling rack.
  5. Meanwhile, make topping: In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat heavy cream with powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Top cake with whipped cream. Garnish with blueberries and lemon slices, if desired. 

Very pretty way to highlight blueberries.

I love kitchen tools, gadgets, serveware, glassware – if it’s used in or around the kitchen, I’m a likely customer. However, no matter how many tools and gadgets I own, it still have my very favorites. In my top 5 list of must-haves, in include the following:

  • Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer
  • Kitchen Aid Hand Mixer
  • Wusthof Knives
  • OXO potato and vegetable peeler
  • Iron skillet that came from my Mom and Granny

No matter what I’m cooking, one of these items is nearly always in use. My husband and I always argue that it takes the right tool of the right quality to do the best job, no matter if it’s in the wood shop, the garage or the kitchen.

What are your favorite kitchen tools?

The right tool+the right quality=the best job

My husband, as well as many of my children and grandchildren, adore coconut cream pie. Although this one isn’t the one I grew up making, it is the recipe that I found most closely matched the pie we had at Malone’s in Lexington, KY. In fact, my husband was so taken with this pie that we made a special detour on our last trip just so we could go to Malone’s and get the pie. This recipe is from DelishCooks and it checks all the boxes for being easy to make, uses ingredients I usually have on hand, and tastes wonderful!

Ingredients:

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

3 cups half-and-half

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (9 inch) pie shell, baked

1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and bake it, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, combine the half-and-half, eggs, sugar, flour and salt and mix well. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in 3/4 cup of the toasted coconut and the vanilla extract. Reserve the remaining coconut to top the pie.

Pour the filling into the pie shell and chill until firm, about 4 hours.

Top with whipped topping and with the reserved coconut.

Easy to make, tastes fabulous and uses ingredients you usually have on hand in the pantry.

It’s Vidalia onion season and I went out looking for a recipe for something new and different to highlight these wonderful, sweet gems. Something that made onions the star (without making onion rings). I found several recipes for onion galettes and decided to give it a try. I ended up going my own direction and using up multiple things I had on hand.

4-5 medium Vidalia onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons butter
1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 pie crust (use your favorite recipe or a prepared refrigerated crust)

To make the onion filling:

On medium-low heat, melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper and thyme. Continue cooking until the onions are soft and translucent. Stir in flour and add the heavy cream. Continue cooking until the mixture thickens.

Grease a baking sheet or cover with parchment paper. Roll out the dough to about a 12 inch circle and place on the baking sheet. Place half of the mozzarella cheese and parmesan in the center of the pie crust, spreading to within about 2 inches of the edge of the crust. Spread with the onion mixture. Add the remaining mozzarella cheese and parmesan to the top. Reserve a couple of tablespoons parmesan for garnish. Fold the dough up around the edge and pleat it as you work your way around the galette. Brush the crust with egg and sprinkle with the reserved parmesan cheese.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

A great variation: cut bacon into bite size pieces and saute until crisp. Add to the onion mixture.

If you’re tired of plain old ordinary Sloppy Joe’s, try this new twist on your old favorite. Courtesy of G-Que BBQ, this recipe is simple but packs a great flavor thanks to the smoking process.

2-2 1/2 pounds ground beef
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups ketchup
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
About 1/2 cup water, or more as needed

Mix together the beef, seasonings, peppers and onion. Spread out in an aluminum foil pan, exposing as much surface of the meat as possible. Place on smoker that has been prepared with oak and hickory and is at 300 degrees. Cook the burger until it reaches an internal temp of 140 degrees. Drain the fat from the pan. Break up the meat into small pieces. Mix the ketchup, mustard and brown sugar. Add to meat mixture, add just enough water to make a moist mix. Return to smoker for 10 minutes. Stir the mixture and smoke for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve on buns.

This recipe was a “PaPa Cooks” recipe. It’s a team effort at our house.

I found this recipe on Taste of Home. It was appealing to me because it was simple, used ingredients that were always on hand and made an amount sufficient to share.

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

In a large bowl, beat the butter, oil and sugars. Beat in the eggs until well blended. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and cream of tartar; gradually add to the creamed mixture.
Drop by small teaspoonfuls on to ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees until lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.

These cookies had a very subtle vanilla flavor. I doubled it for a bigger vanilla taste.

My son, my sister and now my husband have all purchased Rec Tec Grills. And while they’re mastering the world of smoking and grilling, I explored one of the great side dishes Chef John from Rec Tec posted. Some people think that a great BBQ experience is all about the meats. And, while they’re certainly the star of the show, what’s a memorable BBQ without awesome side dishes? Here’s a salad that is sure to please even those who aren’t really into greens. And, as with most dishes, you can add, leave out or vary the amounts of most of the ingredients to suit your particular taste.

1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped
2 ears of corn, sliced from the cob
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
8-10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 can black beans, drained
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and veins removed, chopped
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 small red onion, diced
fresh cilantro, minced
Freshly made ranch dressing

Toss the ingredients together with the chilled salad ingredients just before serving.

Choosing the perfect side to go with your grilled or smoked meats can take your BBQ from good to AMAZING!