No Yeast Cinnamon Rolls

I don’t know about you but I really don’t enjoy messing around with yeast. For some reason every package of yeast that I buy doesn’t work. It’s not the yeast…it’s me. So when Hubby asked for some cinnamon rolls I had to come up with a recipe that was quick and easy and required no yeast. Done!


Cinnamon Rolls


2 cups flour

2 T sugar

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

3 T butter

3/4 cup milk


6 T butter, divided

1 1/4 cup brown sugar, divided

4 tsp cinnamon, divided


1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup milk



1. In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in softened butter. Use your hands if you need to. Stir in milk to form a soft dough.

2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick.

3. To make the filling, combine 4 T of the softened butter with 1 cup of the brown sugar and 3 tsp of cinnamon to make a crumbly mixture. This will be spread out on the rolled out dough.

4. Take the remaining ingredients for the filler (2 T butter,1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1 tsp cinnamon), melt the butter and stir with the sugar and cinnamon. Pour into bottom of a square 8×8 or 9×9 pan, and spread out to cover bottom.

5. Roll up the dough carefully, and using a sharp knife, slice into rolls. Depending on how think or how many you want, you can cut 9, 12, or even more rolls. I made 9 fat rolls :)

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400*.

7. For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Or you could use some leftover *cinnamon cream cheese frosting like I did. Yum!

8. Once the rolls are baked, drizzle the glaze over the tops and serve warm.


Pumpkin Cheesecake

Can you believe I’ve never made a cheesecake before? Well, now I can say that I have and let me tell you it’s really not that hard. In fact, this was downright easy and it turned out pretty good for my first time. If you want to make a special dessert for your family, or if you are entertaining guests, this cheesecake is the way to go. Perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas.


Pumpkin Cheesecake

4 pkgs (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1 can (15 oz) pumpkin

1 T pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp vanilla

4 eggs

Gingersnap Crust

38 gingersnaps, finely crushed (about 1 1/2 cups)

1/4 cup peanuts, finely chopped

1/4 cup butter, melted

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Heat oven to 325*.

Mix gingersnap crumbs with peanuts and butter; press into bottom  and 1 inch up side of 9-inch springform pan.

Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until blended. Add pumpkin, spice and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low-speed after each just until blended. Pour into crust.

Bake 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, or until center is almost set. Loosen cake from rim of pan; cool before removing rim.Refrigerate cheesecake 4 hours.

Garnish and Toppings:

Pecan halves


Drizzle caramel sauce over top

Whipped Cream


Chicken Salad with Grapes and Pecans

This is one of my favorite chicken salads. I like pretty much all chicken salads- but this one has a little something extra that makes it perfect for entertaining  guests.

I used to work at a popular restaurant back in hubby’s hometown where their chicken salad sold by the buckets. It basically used pulled chicken, mayo, and sweet relish, along with salt & pepper and what have you. It’s an awesome chicken salad and the most common recipe found in restaurants that offer chicken salad plates and sandwiches.

But this chicken salad recipe I have for you today is found more often in Greek or other ethnic restaurants. Here’s how I make it:


Chicken Salad with Grapes & Pecans

3 cups cooked *chicken, chopped

1 cup mayo (plus more if needed for consistency)

1 stalk celery, thinly sliced

1/2 lb. red grapes, sliced in half length-wise

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 tsp. white pepper

1 tsp salt (or to taste)

I have to admit I eyeball a lot when I’m cooking, so you may end up using more mayo. I also use all of the meat from the chicken, white and dark, because you can’t really tell which is which when it’s all covered in mayo and seasonings and dark meat is always so much more flavorful than white. Usually when I’m making something like this I just throw a whole chicken into the crock pot and let it cook for a few hours. When it’s done and cooled, I hand-pick all the meat off and discard the carcass (the remains are not suitable for making stock).

Just combine all the ingredients and chill in the refrigerator so the flavors can combine and you won’t have that mayonnaise-y taste. If it’s still too dry then just add more mayo. Salt & pepper to taste (I love white pepper but you can use black). Serve with lettuce, tomato, crackers, etc.

Buche de Noel

I am not French, nor do I pretend to be on TV, but Number One does take French in school and since Christmas break is upon us, it seems as though every school celebrates by having class parties. Hence the French dessert, which I thought was a little much for a teacher to ask of a parent (with only two days to prepare, mind you), and then I realized that Number One volunteered his Foodie Blogger Mom because “None of the other moms could do it.”

Thanks, kid.

This was actually pretty easy. As you can see I did not do the little meringue mushrooms and other embellishments, I simply sifted some powdered sugar over it all to make it look like snow. It is what it is, peeps. I think the hardest thing for me is not knowing how it tasted before I sent it out to  be consumed by strangers. But then again, it is a bunch of teenagers eating it. They like everything. Oh, and one persnickity French teacher. Oh well. This is what you get, Mister.


On a side note: I did not make the buttercream frosting. I’m sorry but the recipe called for 3 cups of butter!  (That’s like 6 sticks of butter?!!) I am including the entire recipe here for you, but just so you know, cheating with store-bought frosting is perfectly acceptable (especially since I’m not serving this to my family anyway.)

Buche de Noel: Genoise Cake Batter

4 eggs, room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1 T Grand Marnier (substitute with 2 T orange juice)

2 tsp orange zest

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup *cake flour

Preheat oven to 400*. Butter a 10×15-inch jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with 1-inch sides) and line it with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper or spray it with cooking spray. Set the pan aside.

Beat the eggs for 5 minutes (hope you have an electric mixer!) until thick and foamy. Add the sugar, OJ, zest, vanilla, and salt to the eggs and continue beating for 2 minutes.

Fold in the flour. *If you do not have cake flour on hand you can use this trick. Remove 2 T of all-purpose flour from the measuring cup and replace it with corn starch. Then sift the flour and corn starch together about 5 times to ensure they are combined and the flour is aerated.

Fold flour into the egg mixture slowly by spoonfuls, allowing each addition to incorporate. Do not overmix or the cake with bake up into a tough texture.

Gently spread the batter into the prepared pan. There will be peaks of batter; gently smooth them, but do not press the batter down. Bake for 10 minutes, until the cake is just set. Invert the cake onto a clean dish towel and peel off the parchment paper. Wait 3 minutes and then gently roll the cake, still in the towel (this means the towel is rolled up inside the cake), starting at the 10-inch end. Allow cake to cook completely.

 Chocolate *Buttercream:

7 egg whites

1 1/3 cup sugar

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

1 tsp instant espresso powder

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups plus 3 T butter, softened

In a clean, completely dry bowl, beat the egg whites on high until soft peaks form. Set aside for a moment.

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and 2/3 cup of water to a boil. Allow it to boil until it has reduced into a slightly thickened syrup. Begin beating the egg whites on high-speed again and pour the hot sugar syrup into the eggs in a slow, steady stream. Pour in the melted chocolate, espresso powder, and vanilla into the egg whites and continue beating them until the meringue has cooled completely, about 5 minutes.

Add the softened butter to the meringue. 2 T at a time, while beating on high-speed, until all of the butter is incorporated into the frosting. If the buttercream becomes runny at any time during this process, refrigerate the meringue until it has chilled through and continue the process of beating the butter into the meringue.


*Now for an excellent cheat! I don’t know about you but that frosting recipe seems a little, oh, what’s the word I’m looking for?….a little bit much? Seriously. Use this cheat.

Go to the store and buy at least 2 containers of whipped buttercream frosting. If you can’t find chocolate, just get the regular and beat some cocoa powder or melted chocolate into it. Viola!

Assemble the Buche de Noel:

Unroll the cake and set aside the towel. evenly spread 2 cups (or desired amount) of the chocolate buttercream on the inside of the cake, and following its natural curve, gently roll it back up. Cut off the ends of the cake roll and reattach them in the center of the cake with a bit of buttercream to fashion a “branch” coming off the main Yule log. (I only cut off one end).

Spread the exterior of the buche de noel with enough chocolate buttercream to cover it and gently pull a butter knife through the frosting to give the appearance of rough tree bark.

Add meringue mushrooms if you are feeling especially crafty.

Chill before serving.

While this recipe appears complicated, truthfully the cake part is a snap, and if you choose to go the buttercream cheat way, you can have a Buche de Noel for your table in no time.

This recipe came from

Christmas Day ~ 2012


Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
    And wild and sweet
    The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
    Had rolled along
    The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
    A voice, a chime,
    A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
    And with the sound
    The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
    And made forlorn
    The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
    “For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Black Bean Soup

Back on the island there is a favorite restaurant where Hubby and I enjoyed going to for lunch often. They had a great black bean soup which they served with crispy, salty tortilla chips and a homemade salsa. This recipe is pretty darn close, but what I love about it is being able to play with the flavors and add different toppings according to my mood.


Black Bean Soup

3 cups dried black beans

4 bullion cubes (or 4 tsp bullion base)

16 cups water

1 carton (32 oz) chicken or vegetable broth

1 green pepper, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

2 T cumin

2 T oregano

1 tsp garlic powder

1 1/2 T sugar

1 -2 T salt, divided

Put the dry beans in a large pot, add water and bullion. Bring to a boil then turn down to medium heat. Let simmer for 2 hours. Add pinches of salt periodically.

Take the chopped veggies and blend together in food processor or blender for just a minute; just until combined and slightly puree’d. Stir in cumin, garlic powder, oregano, and about 1 tsp of the salt.

Drain the beans from its mucky water and replace into the pot. Add in the broth and the vegetable mixture. Add the sugar and more salt to taste.

Simmer until heated through.


Serve with suggested toppings:

chopped red onion

shredded cheddar cheese

diced avocado

diced tomato


sour cream

tortilla chips


Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls

This recipe has become a Christmas standard in this house. Each year I think I will not make these, and each year one of the boys will say, “When are you making those peanut butter balls?” It’s one of their favorites. So alas, I make them each and every year.

This recipe is pretty big. It’ll make approximately 4.5 dozen 1-inch balls. So this year I cut the recipe in half, because with all the other sweets and goodies going on in this house I really don’t need an extra 30 peanut butter balls tempting me or my thighs! I’ve put the full recipe here for you.


Peanut Butter Balls

1 1/2 cups peanut butter (I use crunchy)

2 sticks butter

1 can coconut

2 cups chopped nuts

1 box 10x powdered sugar

2 1/2 cups graham crackers, crushed

2 pkgs chocolate bark

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In large pot melt butter. Add in peanut butter and incorporate over low heat. Mix in powdered sugar and make sure everything is combined well and sugar has melted in. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients (except the chocolate bark). Using your hands or a 1-inch baller make balls and set on a waxed paper lined baking sheet.

I like to put the baking sheet into the freezer for about 20 or 30 minutes to help them retain their shape. You can go straight into dipping but you’ll find that sometimes the warm balls lose their shape and can get messy (I’m already messy enough in the kitchen. Don’t need any help in that department).

Melt chocolate over low heat in pot, or using a double boiler, or in a microwave-safe dish (my prefer method). Using tongs, dip each ball into the chocolate, turning gently to cover, and then lift out slowly, allowing excess chocolate to drain off. Place on waxed paper.

It’ll take about 20 minutes for the chocolate to harden, at which point you can eat and enjoy. If the chocolate in the bowl starts to thicken simply pop back into the microwave for 15-30 seconds, stir and continue dipping. I also recommend melting one package of bark to start, and then adding as you need it. Generally one recipe of peanut butter balls uses about 1 1/2 packages of bark.


Mini Crab Cakes with Aioli

You will not believe how easy this recipe is. If you love crab cakes but are not sure if you can make them- look no further.


These are more like little pies than traditional crab cakes, but your taste buds won’t know the difference, and the best part is these are baked, not fried. Whip up a little aioli on the side and you’ve got something pretty special.


Mini Crab Cakes

2 (6 oz) cans crabmeat, drained and flaked

1/2 tsp seafood seasoning

1/2 cup onion

1/2 cup red bell pepper

1/2 cup green bell pepper

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Bisquick

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs


(combine the following ingredients)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 tsp seafood seasoning

1 T lemon juice

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In food processor, chop up onion and bell peppers. If you aren’t using a food processor, chop up vegetables finely and do a quick sweat in 1 T EVOO in skillet over medium-high heat; about 4 minutes.

In large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

Spray muffin tins (or use liners- super easy!) and spoon mixture into each cup. *Makes 12 crab cakes.

Bake at 375* (preheated) for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove pies from pan and cool on wire rack.

Prepare the aioli while the crab cakes are baking and store in refrigerator.

*This recipe is a sinch to double. Use foil cupcake liners for easy clean up.


Peppermint Cupcakes

These are soooooo yummy! You will want these cupcakes for your dessert table, I promise! How can you go wrong with chocolate, cream cheese frosting, and peppermint, I ask? You can’t!!

I used cupcakes that I made from my Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake batter, but any cupcake recipe will do. For the frosting I used my cream cheese frosting recipe but I added some peppermint extract :)


Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

2 blocks (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

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In a mixer, combine cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add in the powdered sugar and mix until well blended. Add in extracts and mix a few minutes longer. Place frosting into a bag and snip a corner with a pair of scissors- about 1/4 inch wide. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes and sprinkle crushed candy canes over top.

This frosting recipe will frost 2 dozen cupcakes.  Place about a dozen mini candy canes into a small zip baggie and crush with wooden mallet. Sprinkle over the frosting for a festive look.

Too easy!