Sausage-Apple Cornbread

Here’s a recipe that I made when my children were younger.  Recently my husband recalled and requested the meal.  What a perfect suggestion for the fall!


Sausage-Apple Cornbread
Sausage, apples, and thyme top this delicious cornbread!
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Cook Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
  1. 1 small red onion, diced
  2. 2 Granny Smith apples, chopped
  3. 1.5 lbs sausages
  4. 1T olive oi
  5. 1/2t thyme
  6. 1c yellow corn meal
  7. 1/4c all-purpose flour
  8. 1T baking powder
  9. 1t salt
  10. 1 jalapeno pepper, diced {optional}
  11. 2 large eggs
  12. 8oz sour cream
  13. 8.5 oz creamed corn
  14. 1.5c grated cheddar cheese, separated
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Saute the onion in olive oil.
  3. Add the sausage, breaking up as you cook it. When cooked through, add the apples and thyme.
  4. In a bowl, whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. In another bowl whisk eggs, sour cream, creamed corn, 1 cup of the cheddar, and jalapeno.
  6. Add the dry cornmeal mixture to the wet ingredients and stir till just combined.
  7. Spread cornbread mixture into a greased 9" cast iron skillet. Top with the sausage mixture, then the remaining cup of cheddar.
  8. Bake in the middle of the oven for approximately 45 minutes.
  1. Serve with a fancy green salad.
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine ~ August '99, p.74
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine ~ August '99, p.74
The Excellent Wife

Pretzel Rolls. Finally.

Pretzel Rolls 

We have a bakery near our church that we like to frequent for one reason:  pretzel rolls.   Not quite a pretzel and not quite a roll, these soft bread-like treats are perfect for breakfast, snacks, or even as a bun for a gourmet burger.  But at nearly a dollar per roll, there had to be a better way to have these in larger quantities.  

I tried a variety of recipes – of which none came close to a real pretzel roll.  After many attempts, I came up with the one below.  Finally.

Pretzel Rolls


Pretzels/pretzel rolls 



Pretzel Rolls
Yields 16
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
For the dough
  1. 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  2. 1.5 cups very warm tap water
  3. 1 pkg yeast
  4. 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  5. 4.5 cups flour
  6. 2 teaspoons salt
  7. Pot of water
  8. 2/3 cup baking soda
For the egg wash
  1. 1 egg
  2. 2 tablespoons water
  3. Coarse salt
  1. In a mixer with dough hook attached, add the butter, water, yeast and brown sugar. Mix and let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the flour and salt to the yeast mixture. Turn on mixer and knead for 3 minutes.
  3. Remove dough from mixer,shape into a ball and put into a greased bowl. Cover and let rise 1 hour in a warm location.
  4. Boil a large pot of water with the 2/3 cups baking soda. This is the step that makes a pretzel roll pretzel-y! Remove dough to a working surface and divide into 16 small pieces,trying to shape each into a ball. With a serrated knife,cut an “X”in the top of each roll.
  5. Boil rolls a few at a time for 30 seconds. Drain with a slotted spoon to remove and place on cookie sheets lined with parchment and also sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. (Or just grease your sheets very,very well)
  6. Bake in a 425 oven for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and brush rolls with an egg wash (1 beaten egg and 2T water) and top with coarse salt. Return to oven and bake till browned nicely all over,about 6-8 minutes more.
  7. If you eat them hot they will be doughy. Self control. Wait till they are mostly cool and then dig in!
  1. Experiment with different shapes if you want!
Adapted from kevin {&} amanda
Adapted from kevin {&} amanda
The Excellent Wife

Chocolate Mug Cake with Caramel Center

Ooey, gooey chocolatey`caramely goodness.

After seeing dozens of these mug cakes on Pinterest, the children and I finally got around to making some.  The recipe was so easy for the kids to manage that they were thrilled with their chocolately creations.   My daughter cut the sugar in her mug by 1/2 and we couldn’t taste a difference.

Here’s the recipe:

In a small bowl, combine 4T flour, 4T sugar, 3T unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4t baking powder, and a pinch of salt.  Combine.  Now add 1 egg, 3T oil, 3T milk, and 1/4 t vanilla.  Mix well and pour into a regular sized mug that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Push two unwrapped caramel candies just under the surface of the batter.  Microwave for about 1 minute 30 seconds.  You might have to adjust a bit less or more depending on what results you like.  We like gooey, so 1 minute 20 seconds sufficed.



Asian Beef Salad

I have leftover grilled steak so I’m making an Asian Beef Salad. I love this meal & thought I’d share it.

Leftover London Broil












Asian Beef Salad

For the salad layer:

Chopped, fresh spinach leaves
Any combo of: snow peas, broccoli, string beans, red peppers

For the noodle layer:

Cooked thin spaghetti or rice noodles
Sesame seeds, toasted
Olive oil (or sesame)

For the dressing:

1/4c lime juice
1/4c soy sauce
1 clove minced garlic (or more!)
1/3c olive oil
1/2t sesame oil (if you have it)
1/2t minced ginger

For the beef:

Leftover sliced steak OR;
Steak marinated in lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, and cilantro, then grilled & sliced

So here’s what you do: Mix up the salad ingredients. Toss them with enough dressing to coat. Plate them. Toss the noodles with the noodle ingredients & enough oil to prevent sticking. Plate noodles on top of salad. Place the sliced steak on top of noodles. Sprinkle with more sesame seeds and/or cashews. Pass extra dressing on the side.

Thanksgiving with Children at the Table

Time consuming, but adorable {and delicious}!

Healthy lunch the Wednesday before:

Fun “kid table” ideas. Draw on the craft paper table cloth.

Source: via Alisha on Pinterest

Fringe craft paper tablecloth for Native American look:

Use for napkin holders, place cards, or just fill with candy:


Turkey stuffed with popcorn as a healthy snack:

And, finally, a little something to keep the conversation going:

It’s Fig Season!

If you own or live near a fig tree then you know that it is fig season

and likely have an abundance of these sweet gems.

Today I am dedicated to making a few different treats using the dozens & dozens of figs on my kitchen table.

Simmering on my stove top is some Fig & Honey Compote.


And also some Balsamic Fig Jam with Black Peppercorns


And soon-to-be-baking some homemade Fig Newtons

And by the time we get to these Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped,Blue Cheese & Candied Pecan Stuffed Figs, we’ll have had our fill.   {Maybe.}



What do you do with fresh figs?

Our Father’s Day Weekend


And let the wife see to it
that she respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:33

     Honor your father and mother.
Ephesians 6:2

We spent Father’s Day with my dad, affectionately known as Pop Pop to our children.  He’s an avid golfer.  So along with watching the U.S. Open and eating a delicious dinner, we also enjoyed this cute little golf cake.

Chocolate cake, vanilla butter cream. Nothing fancy, but very cute.

Our menu was very simple and not necessarily coordinated:  Colletti burgers and homemade vegetable spring rolls.  What’s that?  Never heard of a Colletti burger?  Well, it’s just the most incredible burger you’ll eat this side of heaven.  And it’s created by our famous chef cousin, Michael Colletti.  Hence the name!  You can find a recipe here.

Applewood smoked bacon, homemade smokey chipotle bbq sauce, bacon, cheddar, and onion rings top this burger served on a potato bun.

It was my first time making spring rolls, but boy were they SO easy to make!  So long as you can find spring roll wrappers you can have these tasty, yet healthy, beauties made in no time.  We found ours at our local Asian market.  The wrappers can be made of rice or flour and are usually found dried in the noodle aisle.  Fill them with whatever veggies and, if desired meats or shrimp, you have on hand. I used this recipe, with a few modifications.

Serve with dipping sauces like sweet & sour, or Thai peanut, or sesame-garlic.

Of course I am not creative enough to make up that cute cake.  You can find the recipe & instructions, where else? Pinterest:

Deliciously Rich Chocolate Pudding Recipe

You won’t believe your taste buds when you try this rich, chocolatey pudding!  If you keep baking chocolate or chocolate chips in the house then you can whip this up from your pantry in no time for unexpected guests.  And if you happen to have whipped cream or vanilla ice cream just hanging around then you’re in for an even better treat!

chocolate pudding
Here’s how to do it

Rich Chocolate Pudding

In a heavy saucepan whisk together 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, and a pinch of salt.  Chop 4-oz of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate or add 4-oz of semisweet chocolate chips to the sugar mixture.

In a bowl whisk together 1-1/2 cups of milk (any fat content) and one large egg yolk.  Gradually whisk into the sugar mixture, bringing the pudding to a slow boil.  Boil 1 minute till thickened.

Remove from heat and add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.

Put the pudding in individual serving dishes and serve warm or chill it with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to avoid a “pudding skin”.  Unless, of course, you like pudding skin.  Enjoy!


Healthier Cereal: Homemade & Store Bought

Children love cereals.  And in this home, husbands do too.  Did you ever notice that most kid-friendly cereals are more suitable for dessert than breakfast?  In fact, we sometimes have cereal for dessert around here! But that’s another post.  For now I wanted to share a quick tip on how I make store-bought cereal a bit healthier.

Easy, right?  We have a nice size cereal container:

So we simply mix equal parts (or whatever ratio you’d like) of a sweetened cereal with its unsweetened counterpart.  Really any two cereals will work – they don’t have to “match”.  For example, you could mix plain Cheerios with Apple Jacks if you wanted.

Now for our favorite cereal.  It’s homemade!

photo by lissa.destef {}

This breakfast item is more budget-friendly than store bought cereal.  It’s also healthier and tastier.  You’re in control of every added ingredient.  Feel free to make adjustments as you feel are necessary as you prepare this homemade treat for your family.

Homemade Granola Cereal

In a very large bowl mix 12 cups of oats, 1 cup of coconut, 1 cup of whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup of flax seed, 1/2 cup of powdered milk, and 1 teaspoon of salt.

In a smaller microwaveable bowl combine 1 cup of olive oil, 1.5 cups of honey, and 1 tablespoon of vanilla.  Heat it long enough to melt the honey.

Pour honey mixture over oats mixture and mix thoroughly.  Spread on two rimmed cookie sheets and bake at 300 for about 45 mintues, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent burning.  Remove and cool.

The best part of this super cereal is all the customizable additions.  Add chopped nuts, raisins, cranberries, dried fruits, carob chips, or whatever you’d like!  Serve with milk, yogurt, or just eat it plain.  ENJOY!

Best Ever St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

Boiled dinner.  Wikipedia describes it as follows:

New England boiled dinner is the basis of a traditional New England meal, consisting of corned beef or a smoked “picnic ham” shoulder, with cabbage and added vegetable items, often including potato, rutabaga, parsnip, carrot, white turnip and onion. When using a beef roast, this meal is often known simply as corned beef and cabbage even with the addition of other vegetables.[1] A similar Newfoundland dish is called a Jiggs dinner, named for the character in Bringing Up Father. When prepared with a ham shoulder, this meal is often referred to as smoked shoulder.

I used to be intimidated by this meal, fearing a chewy meat and mushy vegetables.  Now I have a fool proof way of preparing it & I’d love to share its simplicity.

First, I purchase 2-3 packages of corned beef from our supermarket.  We eat a lot of this stuff and leftovers make addicting, melty, gooey sandwiches piled high with sauerkraut or coleslaw, thousand island dressing, and swiss cheese.  But that’s another post.

Put the corned beef in a slow cooker with one bottle of Guiness beer.  Yup, beer.  You can use any beer here, really, but if you’re going Irish you might as well use a hefty stout like Guiness.  Let’s talk a minute about beer and cooking.  I really dislike beer.  Like really, really dislike it.  Cooking with it scared me because I didn’t want any beer flavor in my meat.  So I can testify that not only does the alcohol content cook out, but the result of this cooking process is simply a tender, never chewy, corned beef that practically falls apart when you touch it.  If you really don’t want to cook with beer, just cover with water instead.  Whichever way you go, don’t forget to add the spice packet.

To brine your own corned beef brisket, or to make your own spice packet, click HERE.

Turn your slow cooker on and simmer 6-8 hours.  About 1 hour before you’d like to eat, put a large pot of boiling water on the stove.  Add potatoes cut in large chunks, parsnips, carrots, or any vegetables you’d like to serve.  Remember to add the potatoes and larger veggies first, then add smaller veggies that take less time to cook maybe 15 minutes later.  About 5 minutes before all your vegetables are tender, add cabbage cut into large pieces.   When it’s all done, drain and keep warm.

Easy so far, right?  Dumping things in a slow cooker.  Boiling veggies.

Now you need to decide if you want to just slice your corned beef or if you want to broil a nice little crust onto it.  If you’d like the latter, smear some dijon mustard and brown sugar on the brisket and broil for a few minutes till crispy.  Keep your eye on it!  It would be a shame to burn it at this point.

Get out a platter – a big one.  Lay your sliced corned beef in the middle and surround with all of your boiled vegetables.

This is an excellent boiled dinner.  However you can make it OVER THE TOP by whipping up the cream sauce below.  Folks will rave about the meal after they slather this delightful topping all over their meat & veggies.  To time this sauce perfectly, start it right after you get the potatoes boiling.


2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, finely chopped

2 minced cloves of garlic

2 teaspoons whole grain mustard

2/3 cup dry white wine

1-1/4 cup chicken stock

1-1/4 cup light cream or half-and-half

Salt & pepper

1)  Melt the butter in a sauce pan & saute onion till soft.  Add garlic & cook one more minute.

2) Stir in mustard & wine.  Cook 2 minutes.  Add stock and reduce by half.

3) Add cream and reduce by half.  Cook till you have a creamy consistency.  Season with salt and pepper.