When I saw the name of this recipe on the Southern Living website, I knew I had to give it a try. There is nothing so quintessentially southern as sweet tea. And in our family, we have a version of sweet tea that we refer to as Grandma Croy Tea. I decided to bake this “Sweet Tea” Bundt Cake and make my simple syrup with our own family tea recipe.



  • 3/4 cup milk, plus more if needed
  • 2 family-size iced tea bags
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Sweet Tea Syrup

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 family-size iced tea bag and 2 Constant Comment tea bags
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F, and grease a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Make the Cake: Heat milk in a small saucepan until steaming and almost boiling. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Allow to sit for 10 minutes; press milk out of tea bags and discard. Remeasure tea milk and add additional milk until you have exactly 3/4 cup. Set aside to cool completely.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar for 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add first three eggs, one at a time, waiting until each is incorporated before adding the next. Add two large spoonfuls of the flour mixture and mix to incorporate. Then add last 3 eggs one at a time.

Mix together tea mixture with vanilla extract and vegetable oil. Alternate adding flour mixture and tea mixture in 3 additions to the mixer, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing for 1 minute with each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is well combined. Pour cake batter into prepared Bundt pan and use a spatula to level the batter. Bake until a cake tester inserted comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before inverting out of pan.

Make Sweet Tea Syrup: Bring water in a medium saucepan to a boil; remove from heat and add tea bags. Allow to steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and discard. Add sugar and salt to tea; heat and stir over medium until sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Use a cake tester to prick the surface of the cake all over. Brush the syrup across the surface of the cake; continue brushing until all the syrup has been absorbed.

The outcome was good. This cake is dense and not as sweet as you might imagine. It’s especially good with a cup of coffee or a big glass of, you guessed it, sweet tea!


Here’s another great recipe that is a standard, courtesy of my little sister who is our family cookie baker. She said this one was a favorite of our Dad. He liked oatmeal cookies, but was never a fan of raisins. This one became a favorite because it had all the great taste of an oatmeal cookie, but was a lighter and crispier version.

This recipe was originally published by Taste of Home Magazine.


1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the oats, flour, baking soda, salt nutmeg and cinnamon and mix well; gradually add to creamed mixture.

Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Flatten with a fork. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

I have a granddaughter who just turned eight and she loves pecans. Layla is unique in so many ways and having a passion for pecans at such a young age is just one more thing that sets her apart. It brings joy to my heart when she asks me if I will show her how to make something. One of the things she’d wanted to learn was how to make a pecan pie.

For her birthday this week, I made these Quick Pecan Pie Bars. The recipe is one I found on AllRecipes.com and it was just right for an easy and packable gift.


3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the sides and bottom of one 15 x 10 inch pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup butter and salt and using a pastry cutter, blend the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Press firmly into the prepared pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

While crust is baking, make the filling. In a large bowl stir the eggs, corn syrup, 1 1/2 cups white sugar, melted butter and vanilla until blended. Stir in chopped pecans.

When the crust comes out of the oven, spread the filling evenly over the hot crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until set. Let cool before slicing. Store in an airtight container.

The crust resembles shortbread. When cutting, you may want to dip the knife in hot water between slices to make cleaner cuts.


This recipe came to me by way of an old friend who worked with me many years ago. Her name was Gisela and she was born and raised in Berlin. She grew up during WWII and shared many stories about her experiences during that difficult time. She eventually married a U.S. soldier and moved to Missouri. This recipe was her mother’s and is an old, traditional warm German potato salad. She brought it to work potlucks and it was a hit with everyone.

This is a really simple dish, inexpensive to make, and is perfect for church dinners, family pot lucks, work luncheons and anywhere you need to carry a Crock-Pot full of yumminess!


2 1/2 pounds red potatoes
1 medium onion, finely minced
2 tablespoons kosher salt
black pepper to taste
8 slices thin-sliced bacon
4-5 tablespoons bacon grease
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
3-4 tablespoons cornstarch


In a large pan, place potatoes (whole and with skin on) and cover with water. Cook on medium until potatoes are done, but still slightly firm. Remove from heat and drain. When cool enough to handle, peel and slice. Place slices into a large mixing bowl.

Add the onions, salt and pepper to the potatoes. Toss to mix. DO NOT STIR OR YOU WILL BREAK UP THE POTATOES AND MAKE THEM MUSHY.

Fry the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Drain bacon grease into a glass measuring cup. Make sure you have 4-5 tablespoons bacon grease. Allow any of the dark crispy bits from the pan to settle to the bottom. Return the clear drippings to the skillet over medium heat. Add the sugar, water and vinegar. Mix the cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve the cornstarch and make it pourable. Add to the mixture in the skillet, whisking to combine. When the mixture achieves a gravy consistency, remove from heat.

Place the potato mixture in a Crock-Pot. Add the sauce. Using a large spoon, gently move the potatoes away from the sides to allow the sauce to reach the bottom of the Crock-Pot. Heat on low in the Crock-Pot for 1-3 hours. Reduce to warm until ready to serve. When serving, crumble the bacon over the top. Refrigerate leftovers.

Gisela always insisted that she make her bacon in the microwave so that the fat didn’t become dark as it does in a skillet. She said having very clear bacon fat was key to having a beautiful dish of German potato salad!


I promised that my little sister, the family cookie baker, would share a few of her favorites that have become hits and traditions with our family. This is the next in the list of those treasures and one she only recently began baking. I anticipate this will be a frequently requested treat!

As the name implies, these cookies taste EXACTLY like Texas Sheet Cake in cookie form. They’re rich, decadent and will definitely satisfy your cravings.

This recipe was originally published by CookiesandCups.com.


  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsp milk
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment or silicone mat, set aside.
  3. In bowl of stand mixer beat butter and sugar together until light, scraping sides frequently.
  4. Add in egg and vanilla and continue mixing until incorporated. Mix in baking powder and salt.
  5. Turn mixer to low and slowly add in flour. Dough will be thick.
  6. In a microwave safe bowl heat chocolate chips on high in 30 second increments until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds.
  7. Mix melted chocolate directly into cookie dough until evenly mixed.
  8. Drop dough by a measured tablespoon sized mounds onto baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes until cookies just appear set. They will still be very soft on the inside. DO NOT overbake!!
  9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  10. Make the icing: In a medium saucepan combine 1/2 cup butter, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons milk over medium heat, whisking until melted together. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar. Pour icing over cookies and allow icing to set before serving.

Store these cookie, covered, for up to three days. However, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about storing them – they’ll disappear too fast!


I have been told that, technically, a Shepherd’s Pie uses ground lamb and Cottage Pie uses ground beef. However, in our family we’ve always referred to this dish as Shepherd’s Pie and it would be confusing to a great many people to change it now. So, here is one of my ultimate comfort food recipes. It’s easy, tastes great, and freezes well in case you want to make multiple small casseroles for smaller groups.

And the ultimate recommendation is that it’s one of my husband’s absolute favorites.

I change this up by alternating the types of mashed potatoes I use for the topping. I frequently make horseradish mashed potatoes or cheddar mashed potatoes – both are a great match for the beefy dish. And, it can easily be a gluten-free dish if you use gluten-free brown gravy mix.


For the filling:

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bag frozen mixed peas and carrots
2 envelopes brown gravy mix
4 cups water

For the mashed potato topping:

5-6 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium sized pieces
1/2 stick butter
1 1/2 cups milk (more or less)
2 tablespoons creamy horseradish
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


Peel potatoes and cut into medium sized uniform pieces. Add water to cover the potatoes and salt the water with about a tablespoon of kosher salt. While the potatoes are cooking, make the filling for the Shepherd’s Pie.

In a large skillet, add the ground beef and onion, salt and pepper. Cook the ground beef mixture, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. When cooked through, drain any grease from the pan and return to the burner over medium heat. Add the 2 tablespoons tomato paste and stir it into the ground beef. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the bag of frozen peas and carrots, stirring to mix. Let cook for about 5 minutes or until the vegetable are thawed and softened. In a large mixing cup or bowl, combine the contents of the brown gravy packets with the 4 cups of water, mixing with a whisk. Pour the gravy mixture into the ground beef and vegetables. Cook until the gravy thickens, stirring occasionally. When thickened, remove from heat.

When the potatoes are fork tender, remove from heat and drain. Add the potatoes to a large heat-proof mixing bowl and add the butter, salt, and horseradish. With a hand mixer or a potato masher, start mashing the potatoes. Gradually add milk until the potatoes are the consistency you prefer. (Note: The amount of milk used varies depending on the potatoes themselves and the consistency you like for the topping. I tend to like mine to be a little moister and looser to top this dish than what I would serve as a regular side dish. They will be in the oven and a little extra moisture helps them remain creamy after baking.)

If you want to serve the whole batch, use a 9 x 13 baking dish. You can also break this up into smaller casserole dishes. I typically prepare half in a smaller casserole dish and prep smaller portions in disposable aluminum loaf pans and put in the freezer for future use.

Place the filling in the bottom of the baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the filling, making sure you reach all the edges to seal. Sprinkle the top with the shredded cheddar cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven until the cheese is bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.

This is one of my husband’s very favorite things. It is the ultimate comfort food and is a perfect dish when you have drop in guests. Add a salad and some hot rolls and everyone will leave full and happy!


Let me begin by saying that Grammy’s little sister Sue also cooks. She is known as the family cookie and cupcake baker. Everyone in the family has their favorite Aunt Sue specialty and they’re not shy about making their requests. This cookie is one of my favorites, but it’s also the favorite of others in our clan.

There is a special story behind most of our family recipes, and Sue’s cookies are no exception. She shared the following about this family favorite:

“Gentle Sugar Cookies” are a basic Amish sugar cookie. I first tried the recipe when my nephew Allen was a little boy. He fell in love with them, but couldn’t remember what they were called. So, when he was ready for more, he’d ask me if I would make those “Gentle Cookies.” The name stuck, and they will forever be known as Gentle Cookies in our family.”

This recipe was originally called Country Kitchen Sugar Cookies from the Gooseberry Patch Country Baking Cookbook.


1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla


Mix sugars, butter, oil and eggs together. Add dry ingredients and vanilla. Refrigerate until firm. Roll dough in balls and flatten with a glass that has been dipped in sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 8 minutes or until edges are slightly brown. Cookies will spread while baking, so do not make dough balls too large. Cool slightly on cookie sheet and then remove to a rack to cool completely.

They say that scent memories are very strong memories. As a child growing up, the scent I most associated with my Granny Hamilton was the smell of apples. Blindfold me and cover my ears and drop me onto her back porch and I would immediately know where I was just by the smell of honeysuckle in her yard and apples in her kitchen.

This recipe is one I remember her making, using some of her own homemade applesauce. It’s a heavy and dense cake, but very flavorful. To make it perfect, you have to use the Brown Sugar Frosting. Although I never remember her making it as a layer cake, I do just for the presentation value and, of course, because it gives me the excuse to have just a little more frosting with every bite.

It’s going to vary a bit from person to person based on their choice of applesauce. Mine has a slightly pink tint which comes from using my own homemade cinnamon applesauce in the recipe.


For the cake:

2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves, ground
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups applesauce, thick and cold
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup nuts, chopped (optional)

For the Brown Sugar Frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and granulated sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time and continue beating until the mixture is pale yellow and creamy. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and spices. Add to the butter and sugar mixture, beating just until the dry ingredients begin to incorporate. Add in the applesauce and continue beating just until mixed. Do not over beat the mixture. Add in the raisins and/or nuts if using, stirring in by hand.

Grease a 9 x 13 pan or 2, 8 or 9 inch cake pans. If using round layer pans, spray the pans, add parchment and then spray the parchment with non-stick spray. Add the batter, making sure to distribute it evenly.

Bake the cake in the preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes for the layers and 40-45 minutes for a 9 x 13. Check before the max doneness time given here as ovens vary.

Remove from oven and cool completely. If using round layers, remove from pans and let cool on a wire rack before frosting.


In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, stirring to mix well. Continue cooking and stirring until the mixture comes to a boil. Add the milk and continue cooking until the mixture again comes to a boil. Cook for about 2 minutes or until it begins to thicken. Turn off heat and add vanilla. Let cool until lukewarm.

Add the brown sugar mixture to the powdered sugar and beat until creamy. This frosting sets up pretty quickly, so if you’re making a layer cake, you’ll need to work fast to get it frosted before the frosting stiffens.

Decorate the top with whole or chopped pecans, if desired. Cover when storing.

This is a heavy, dense and very sweet treat. I highly recommend serving it in small slices with a cup of hot coffee!


The first recipe post of 2021 has to include the traditional black-eyed pea. According to the internet (and I did have to go look it up to be certain), although eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s is a southern tradition to ensure prosperity for the coming year, this has been considered good luck by various groups for at least 1,500 years. So, who am I to buck tradition? What I can do, however, is try to make my black-eyed peas a little more interesting than usual.

This recipe came about, as many of mine do, by accident. I had planned to make my Spicy Bean Soup and found that I didn’t have any Navy beans. I substituted black-eyed peas and my husband informed me that he actually like those better. My head started spinning with ideas and, voila, Creole Black-Eyed Pea Soup was born.

Note in the photos that I’m using a couple of treasured Christmas gifts to serve my New Year’s Day soup. My beautiful pottery bowl comes from the talented hands of the artisans at Stone-Penland Pottery. (I highly recommend their products!) The cutting board was a gift from my husband and came from Hailey Home.


1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 small green bell pepper, finely diced
2 small red bell pepper, finely diced
4 stalks celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons creole seasoning (I used Tony Chachere, but use your favorite)
12 ounces turkey smoked sausage, cut into bite size pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cans black-eyed peas
1 can Rotel tomatoes


Place a dutch oven or heavy bottom soup pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil. When oil is heated, add the onion, green and red bell pepper and celery. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes. be careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the turkey sausage and continue to cook until the vegetables are soft and the sausage has heated. Add the cans of black-eyes peas, the Rotel tomatoes and the creole seasoning.

Continue to simmer for about 30 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Taste and add more creole seasoning if you wish.

You can use other types of sausage in this dish. I use turkey smoked sausage because I’m trying to be a little healthier. You can use Andouille, beef smoked sausage or other varieties according to your personal taste. Remember that the type of sausage you use may mean you’ll need to adjust the seasoning to get the best results.


The last decadent recipe of 2020. This is a new one I found on Food Network’s website when I was looking for a special, festive and new dessert to serve for Christmas Eve. This one is definitely worthy of a special event and was well received by everyone. It’s important to note that it’s not something you can throw together at the last minute. This recipe is one that needs to be prepared early enough to allow the cheesecake ample time to cool completely and then chill in the refrigerator. But, it’s worth the wait!


For the crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I actually used the gluten free crumbs to make this GF friendly)
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

For the filling:

4 ounces white chocolate, chopped (I used Ghiardelli white chocolate chips for convenience)
4, 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened and room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

For the topping:

1, 1 pound bag fresh cranberries (if you use frozen, thaw and drain them)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoons water (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set racks in the lower third and middle of oven.

Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. Add the melted butter and mix with hands or a fork until combined. Press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Put in the freezer until ready to fill and bake.

To make the filling, beat the cream cheese, sour cream and sugar together in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 7 minutes). Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the cornstarch and beat an additional 2 minutes. Beat in the melted white chocolate, vanilla and salt until combined.

Fill a roasting pan about halfway with water and set on the lower oven rack. Pour the filling into your prepared graham cracker crust and smooth the top. Set on the middle oven rack and bake until the edge is set but the center still jiggles slightly, 1 hour and 10 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to sit in the oven for an additional 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Then cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

To make the topping, combine the cranberries, sugar, orange zest and juice and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring the mixture, and then reduce the heat to a medium low and simmer until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. The cranberries will begin to “pop.” If you want the sauce to be thicker, you can add some cornstarch dissolved in water to thicken the liquid. Transfer the topping to a bowl and refrigerate until completely cool.

To serve, run a hot knife around the edge of the cheesecake, then remove from the springform ring. Top with the cranberry mixture and white chocolate shavings if desired.

To remove the cheesecake from the bottom of the springform pan to a cake plate/stand, run a warm offset spatula underneath the cheesecake to loosen it. Using the offset spatula, carefully tilt and slide the cheesecake onto the plate.