First Tuesday Recipes for December

The only reason I use the photo above is because it’s one of my favorites–not because it’s snowing here or even acting like winter is on its way. In fact, today I’m sitting at my desk in a short-sleeved shirt and capri pants, wondering when the temperatures are going to dip.

To me, the holidays don’t seem like the holidays without cold and maybe even some snow. But since it’s the first Tuesday in December and I have a job to do, I’m going to share a few recipes with you today that are great for this time of year for a few different reasons. The first one is quick and easy, great for those nights when you might have shopping, wrapping, play practice, crew practice, basketball practice, etc. to check off your list.

The second is good for rainy or snowy days when you just want to stay indoors. It’s time-consuming, yet relaxing and almost meditative. And it makes a wonderful gift!

The third is just plain delicious, and perfect for cookie exchanges or to just sneak for yourself.

And finally, there’s a dog treat recipe for anyone who may have missed it a couple weeks ago, courtesy of Heather Weidner!

Q’s Chicken

6 T. soy sauce

2 t. brown sugar

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

3 T. mustard

1 1/2 t. cornstarch


salt and pepper

Combine soy sauce and brown sugar. Marinate chicken in mixture for 15 minutes.

Cook chicken in a skillet with a little bit of canola or vegetable oil and all the soy sauce mixture. Cover and cook until juices run clear. In a saucepan, mix mustard, cornstarch, enough milk to make it liquidy, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat through.

Pour mustard mixture on plate and place piece of chicken on top.

Serve with rice.


German Christmas Stöllen

For this one, I’m sending you to another page. Even if you don’t like Stöllen or don’t know what it is or don’t feel like making it, I suggest you take a look at the link because it tells a great story of the history of this special bread. If you do make the recipe, have fun with it. I even made my own candied citrus as the post suggests because I was having a bad day and candied citrus makes everything better.


Christmas Crack

If you’ve never heard of this, try it and you’ll agree that the name fits. I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t love it. The first time I made it the entire tray ended up in the dishwater–it was a Christmas tragedy.

2 sleeves Saltine crackers (I’ve also seen this made with Ritz crackers or graham crackers)

2 sticks butter, melted

1 c. light brown sugar, packed

2 c. (1 package) semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 c. chopped almonds (or nut of your choice)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a jelly roll pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Place the crackers in a single layer on the pan. You’ll probably use about 40 crackers and you may have a little bit of pan not covered by crackers–feel free to break the crackers in half to make them fit the entire pan.

Place the butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Boil for three minutes–no more, no less.

Being VERY CAREFUL, pour the sugar syrup/caramel over the crackers. Using an offset spatula, spread the caramel to cover the crackers.

Place the pan in the oven and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until bubbling.

Remove pan from oven; sprinkle chocolate chips over the caramel, trying to cover as much of the crackers as possible. Place pan in oven for 2-3 more minutes.

Remove pan from oven. Again using an offset spatula, spread melted chocolate over the layer of caramel.

Sprinkle top with chopped nuts and allow to cool. Once it’s completely cool, t’s easier to break the crack into pieces than to cut it, so do whatever works for you!


Jocelyn’s Peanut Butter Dog Treats

1/4 c. smooth peanut butter

2/3 c. pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)

2 lg. eggs

3 c. flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat the peanut butter, pumpkin puree, and eggs with an electric mixer on medium/medium-high speed. Mix ingredients well.

Add flour and mix well.

Knead dough on a lightly-floured surface and pat it to approximately 1/4-1/2 inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Bake until brown (checking often for burning).


Enjoy! Share your favorite holiday treats in the comments. You don’t have to provide the recipe–just tell me what you love to eat during the holiday season.

Until  next time,



First Tuesday Recipes for November

It’s November already! You know what that means…comfort food, whether it’s a casserole or a meal in frequent rotation, or a dish your family has always enjoyed for Thanksgiving.

This month I’ve got three great recipes for you–one is a casserole my family loves. It’s easy to throw together and has a great mix of flavors and textures. One is a breakfast treat that we make about once a year (and yes, we made it this past weekend). It makes a lot, so it’s great to have when you’re entertaining holiday guests. The third is a recipe for potatoes that are to die for. A friend gave me the recipe years ago.

One of these days I’ll do some light recipes, but like I said, these are comfort foods. Comfort food is usually a little heavier and more calorie-laden than light dishes.

Curry Chicken Casserole

2 cans green beans, drained

2 cans cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1 8-oz. can water chestnuts, chopped

3/4 c. mayonnaise

1/2 t. curry powder

4 chicken breast, cooked and diced

1 t. lemon juice

2 c. grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place beans on bottom of 13×9″ baking dish. Mix remaining ingredients, except cheese. Spread mixture over beans. Top with cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes.


Monkey Bread

Two 1-pound loaves frozen white bread dough

1 1/4 c. sugar, divided

1/4 c. packed brown sugar

1/4 c. milk (not skim)

1 T. butter

1 3/4 t. cinnamon, divided

cooking spray

Thaw bread dough in fridge for 12 hours or follow quick-thaw instructions on back of package.

Combine 1 c. sugar, brown sugar, milk, butter, and 1 1/4 t. cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to boil and cook for 1 minute, allowing mixture to boil the entire time. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

In a shallow bowl, combine 1/4 c. sugar and 1/2 t. cinnamon; stir well.

Coat Bundt pan with cooking spray.

Cut each loaf of bread into 24 equal portions. Roll each piece between palms to form a ball and roll ball in sugar mixture. Layer the dough balls in the Bundt pan.

Pour warm sugar syrup over the dough. Cover pan and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, for 35 minutes or until doubled in bulk. I preheat the oven on to 200 degrees while I prepare the dough, then I turn the oven off and place the pan in the oven for the rising time. Works very well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Uncover and bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately loosen edges of bread with a knife or thin spatula. Place a plate upside-down on top of the Bundt pan and invert the bread onto the plate. Drizzle remaining syrup over the bread.


Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

3 lbs. red potatoes, unpeeled

1 T. plus 2 t. salt

1 1/2 c. half-and-half

1 stick butter

1/2 c. sour cream

1/2 c. freshly-grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 t. pepper

Place potatoes and 1 T. salt in a large saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, for 25-35 minutes, until potatoes are completely tender. Drain.

In a small saucepan, heat the butter and half-and-half.

Put the potatoes in a large bowl and use a hand mixer on low speed for a few seconds to break them up.

Slowly add the butter-cream mixture to the potatoes, mixing on the lowest speed. The last quarter of the butter mixture should be folded in by hand.

Fold in the sour cream, Parmesan cheese, remaining salt, and pepper. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.

If the potatoes are too thick, add more hot cream and butter.

To reheat, place smashed potatoes in a baking dish and sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until top is lightly browned and potatoes are heated through.

Enjoy! And as always, if you’ve got a great recipe to share, please email me at and I’d love to include your contribution!

Until next time,


First Tuesday Recipes for October

October is my favorite month.

There. I’ve said it. Where I live, most people love summer, but I can’t wait for it to end.

I love fall and everything about it: the cooler weather (but not too cold), the dip in humidity (hear the angels singing?), and the food! It doesn’t get much better than in-season fall ingredients. I’ve got a great fall recipe in today’s selections, plus a couple other creations that are just plain delicious.

First up, the fall recipe. My father gave me this recipe and I keep it in the “Casseroles” section of one of my cookbooks. I use it as a dessert, but it would make a great side dish to turkey or pork.

* * *

Apple-Cranberry Casserole

3 c. peeled, chopped apples, any variety

2 c. fresh whole cranberries

1 1/4 c. sugar


1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. butter, melted

1 1/2 c. rolled oats

1/3 c. flour

1/4 t. salt

1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish, mix apples, cranberries, and sugar. Mix all topping ingredients, except nuts, until crumbly. Spread over apple mixture.

Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Add chopped nuts to the top and bake 15 minutes longer.

* * *

The next recipe was given to me by my mother-in-law before my wedding. My husband’s family is Swedish, and this is delicious.

Swedish Meatballs

1 c. breadcrumbs

3/4 c. milk

3 T. diced onion

2 T. butter

1/4 t. nutmeg

1 1/2 t. salt

1/8 t. pepper

1 lb. ground beef

1 egg, slightly beaten

10 1/2 oz. (1 can) beef consumme

1 1/2 T. cornstarch

1 1/2 T. cold water

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Soften the breadcrumbs in the milk. Saute onions in the butter until light brown. Add this to the breadcrumbs. Add the nutmeg, salt, pepper, ground beef, and egg. Mix lightly with your hands. Form mixture into balls about 1 inch in size.

Place meatballs on greased cookie sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes, until browned. Do not turn them over.

Blend consumme, cornstarch, and water until smooth and thickened. Pour over the meatballs.

* * *

And the last recipe comes from a good friend, Sue Murphy. She tells me the original recipe is from Willow Bird Baking–you can find the recipe here. This is my eldest daughter’s favorite!!

Ice Box Cookie Trifle

3 c. heavy cream

1/4 c. almond liqueur (optional–I used 1/2 t. almond extract instead)

3 T. sugar

2 t. vanilla extract

2-3 packages chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreos work well, as do Famous Chocolate Wafers. If you use Famous, use three packages)

Using a mixer, beat heavy cream, almond liqueur, sugar, and vanilla in a chilled bowl until soft peaks form. In a trifle dish, arrange a single layer of cookies in a circle and put one or two cookies in the middle. Carefully spread about 1/2 c. whipped cream mixture over the cookies. Repeat layers of cookies and whipped cream, ending with a layer of whipped cream on the top. Crumble a few leftover cookies on the top. Cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.

* * *


Until next time,



Cover Reveal…Followed by First Tuesday Recipes for September!

It’s here! First my street team saw it, then my newsletter subscribers, and now it’s time to show the rest of the world. The cover of The Worst Noel is here and I love it! Are you ready?

The Worst Noel is available to pre-order as an ebook through all the major online retailers and, through some glitch that is no doubt my fault, as a paperback from Amazon. Other retailers will have the paperback in November.

Want to order a paperback copy? Click here.

Want to order an ebook from Amazon? Click here.

Want to order an ebook from another retailer? Click here.

If you’ve already ordered, THANK YOU! As we get closer to the ebook release date, I’ll be posting more about The Worst Noel, so stay tuned. And feel free to use the share buttons below!

And now for The First Tuesday Recipes for September. If you get my newsletter, you already have the recipe for Muddy Buddies. Here on the blog this month we’ve got a summery salsa, a dessert, and a fabulous side dish that’ll go with almost anything.

First, thanks to Maggie King for submitting her recipe:

Cucumber and Avocado Salsa

1/4 c. diced and seeded cucumber

1 lg. avocado, peeled, seeded, and chopped

1 sm. Roma tomato, diced

1 1/2 T. red onion, minced

2 t. Serrano chile, minced

1 t. fresh cilantro, minced

3/4 t. salt

2 T. fresh lime juice

Carefully fold all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, guacamole-style. If doubling, don’t double the lime juice.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Thanks to my mother for this side dish recipe:

German Potato Salad

6 medium potatoes

6 slices bacon

1/2 c. chopped onion

2 T. flour

2 T. sugar

1 t. salt

1 t. celery seed

dash pepper

1 c. water

1/2 c. (you may like a little less) white vinegar

2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

Cook potatoes until tender, then drain well, peel, and slice. Cook bacon until crisp; drain, reserving 1/4 c. drippings. Crumble the bacon and set aside. Cook the onion in the reserved drippings until tender (and a little browned). Stir in flour, sugar, salt, celery seed, and pepper. Add water and vinegar; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1-2 minutes more. Stir in bacon and potato slices. Heat through, tossing lightly. Add egg slices; toss gently just to mix.

And last, but certainly not least, thanks to Sharon Aguanno for contributing this dessert recipe she found here on

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Foil Packets

1 1/2 T. brown sugar

1 T unsalted butter

1 pineapple ring

1 maraschino cherry

1 shortcake dessert shell

Vanilla ice cream for serving (optional, but why wouldn’t you include it??)

Preheat grill to medium-high or an oven to 450 degrees.

Tear off a 12′ x 12′ square of aluminum foil.

Mound the brown sugar and butter in the center, then top them with the pineapple slice and the cherry.

Top with the dessert shell, flat side up.

Fold in the sides of the foil and seal to form the packet. Grill each packet for 12-13 minutes.

To serve, flip the cakes over. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.


Thanks to everyone who contributed! And thanks for being part of my cover reveal for The Worst Noel. If you haven’t subscribed to my mostly-once-a-month newsletter, click this link.

Until next time,


First Tuesday Recipes for August

This year is flying by! Summer is half over and before we know it the weather will start to turn cooler (woo hoo!) and the days will get noticeably shorter.

But let’s not rush Mother Nature…it’s still August, and for this month I’ve got a few summery recipes to share with you.

First up is one of Sharon Aguanno’s favorites: Hawaiian Smoked Sausage. She adapted the recipe from one she found here.

Hawaiian Smoked Sausage

3 T. canola oil

1 medium green pepper, cut into 1″ pieces

1 medium yellow pepper, cut into 1″ pieces

3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 lb. fully-cooked smoked sausage, sliced into 1/2″ pieces

1 T. cornstarch

1 T. ground ginger

1 T. vinegar

1 T. soy sauce

1/2 c. apricot preserves

2 c. fresh pineapple chunks (drained if canned)

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add peppers, tomatoes, and sausage. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften and sausage is heated through.

Combine all other ingredients except pineapple in a small bowl and stir to combine. Add to sausage mixture; stir until mixture is bubbly and begins to thicken.

Add pineapple to skillet. Reduce heat to low; stir until pineapple is heated through.

Delicious over rice!


The next one goes great with anything on the grill (and is good if you have someone in your family who loves corn but doesn’t eat corn on the cob):

Shoepeg Corn Casserole

2 cans (11 oz. each) shoepeg or white  corn, drained

1 can condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted

1 c. sour cream

1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 c. chopped onion

1/2 c. chopped celery

1/4 c. chopped green pepper

3/4 c. Ritz or other butter-flavored crackers (about 18), crushed

2 T. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer to a greased 2-quart casserole dish.

In a small bowl, combine crackers and melted butter; sprinkle over casserole.

Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.


And what would August be without dessert?? My family loves this recipe:

Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

2 T. cold water

1 c. heavy cream

1/3 c. sugar

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out

One lg. container (about 2 cups) whole milk plain Greek yogurt

Place cold water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water (do not stir) and let sit for 5 minutes. The gelatin will be slightly softened.

While the gelatin sits, in a small saucepan mix together cream, sugar, vanilla bean, and vanilla seeds. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until melted.

In a medium bowl, whisk yogurt by itself until smooth. Remove vanilla bean from cream mixture and whisk cream mixture into yogurt.

Divide mixture among 6 (1/2-cup) ramekins and refrigerate until chilled, 3-4 hours.

Once chilled, run a knife around the inside of each ramekin and invert panna cotta onto a small plate. Drizzle with your favorite fruit compote or homemade syrup.


Until next time,


First Tuesday Recipes for July

photo courtesy of Pexels/pixabay

It’s summertime and, according to song, the living is easy. Actually, I don’t think it’s all that easy because I don’t love the heat and humidity. Give me cooler temperatures any day.

But this is the season for al fresco parties and get-togethers, so I’ve got a few recipes today that should make entertaining a little bit easier.

The first one was submitted by Sharon Aguanno–thanks, Sharon!!–and it sounds really good. She adapted it from a recipe she found online. You can read it here.

Crabmeat Dip


11 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 small onion, finely chopped
5 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 (6 ounce) cans crabmeat, drained and flaked (packaged or fresh will work just as well)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
For additional flavor, try a little Old Bay Seasoning; for a kick, try a little cayenne pepper.
1 (1 pound) loaf round, crusty Italian bread


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, onion, mayonnaise, crabmeat, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add Old Bay and cayenne if using. Spread mixture into a 1 quart baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes. While the dip is baking, cut a circle in the top of the bread, and scoop out the inside to create a bread bowl. Tear the removed bread into pieces for dipping.

Remove baked crab dip from the oven; stir well. Spoon the mixture into the hollowed out loaf. Place bread bowl and chunks of bread on a medium baking sheet, and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot.


I have a recipe to share this month that came from my grandmother. I don’t know if I’ve shared it before in my newsletter, but it I have, consider this a sign from the universe that you really need to try it.

Lemon Jell-O Cake

1 small box lemon Jell-O

1 package lemon cake mix

3/4 c. vegetable oil

3/4 c. cold water

4 eggs


2 c. powdered sugar

1/4 lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350 F.

Using an electric mixer, beat Jell-O, cake mix, oil, and cold water for 5 minutes. Beat the eggs and add to batter; beat again until well-blended. Pour mixture into an ungreased 13 x 9 baking dish.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until cake tests done. In the last few minutes of baking, mix together the icing ingredients.

While the cake is still hot, prick the top of it all over with the tines of a fork. Spread icing over the top and return to the oven for 2-3 minutes.


This next one comes from an old friend.

Tropical Fruit Salad

1 cantaloupe, cut into bite-sized chunks

1 small papaya, cut into bite-sized chunks

2 mangoes, cut into bite-sized chunks

2 kiwi, cut into bite-sized chunks

1 small can crushed pineapple, drained well


2 T. lime juice

1 T. honey

1/4 t. salt


Mix fruit in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine sauce ingredients. Pour sauce over fruit and toss gently to coat.

If desired, sprinkle some grated coconut over the top. Serves 6.


And last but certainly not least, is one I got from my mother. This gets rave reviews wherever I take it, and with good reason.

Ramen Noodle Salad

1 pkg. beef-flavored ramen noodles

1 bag coleslaw mix

1/2 c. slivered almonds

1/2 c. sunflower seeds

3 T. sesame seeds


flavor packet from ramen noodles

1/2 c. olive oil

3 T. rice vinegar

2 t. sugar


Break noodles into small chunks while they’re still in the package. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Combine dressing ingredients and whisk well. Keep salad and dressing separate until time to serve, then toss salad with dressing.


Happy Fourth of July to all my American friends!

Until next time,



First Tuesday Recipes for June

The unofficial start of summer may have been over Memorial Day weekend, but according to Mother Nature’s calendar, summer officially starts this month.

In the spirit of lazy summer days, I have three recipes for you this month that are a combination of easy and cool.  Serve them if you have people over, but make sure they’re people you like–because I guarantee they’ll be back after they taste these offerings.


Sharon’s Potato Salad

I tried this recipe just a couple days after Sharon sent it to me and it’s my new favorite potato salad. I have one child who hates potato salad and she asked for seconds. It’s that good. A quick note: I only had half an onion, so I used that instead of a whole onion. I also grated it instead of chopping it.

8 Small/medium potatoes

4 hard-boiled eggs, 1 for the top if you want to make it pretty

1 medium onion (optional), chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup milk

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoons prepared mustard

2 or 3 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper


1 In a large pot, cook potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain and cool. (I like to refrigerate for at least an hour to keep potatoes firm.) Peel potatoes; cut into bite size pieces. Chop eggs, saving one for the top, and add to the potatoes. Add chopped onion.

2 Dressing: combine mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour over potatoes; toss well. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Spoon into a serving bowl. Garnish with egg slices and paprika. Chill until serving. Yield: approximately 8 servings.


Orange Slush: for adults only!

9 c. water, divided

2 c. sugar

2 teabags, your choice of flavor

1 12-oz. container frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

1 12-oz. container frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed

1 qt. vodka

In a medium saucepan, boil 7 c. water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.

Heat remaining 2 c. water and add the 2 teabags. Set aside while tea steeps, then discard teabags.

In a 13×9″ baking dish, mix the orange juice concentrate, lemonade concentrate, and vodka. Add sugar water and tea, stir to combine well, and place in freezer. Allow mixture to become slushy, stirring occasionally.

To serve, fill glass 2/3 full with slush, then top with ginger ale or lemon-lime soda.


Four-Layer Dessert


I stick butter, melted

1 c. flour

1/4 c. chopped walnuts

Filling #1:

1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened

2/3 c. powdered sugar

1/2 large container Cool Whip

Filling #2:

2 3-oz. packages instant pudding (either chocolate or pistachio are best, in my opinion)

3 c. milk


remaining Cool Whip

To make:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine topping ingredients until crumbly. Press into 13×9″ dish. Bake for 15 minutes, then allow to cool completely.

In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, mix ingredients for Filling #1 until fluffy. Spread on cooled crust.

In another medium bowl using an electric mixer or whisk, mix ingredients for Filling #2. Spread over first filling layer.

Cover entire dessert with the remaining Cool Whip and chill until ready to serve.


I hope you enjoy this month’s selection of recipes. I’m always looking for new stuff, so if you have anything to share, please let me know! I’d love to feature your recipes in upcoming posts.

Until next time,