BLT Ranch Pasta Salad


I love BLT sandwiches. I thought why not turn my favorite sandwich into a salad. When I told my friend I was making a BLT Pasta Salad with romaine lettuce, he thought I was nuts. I did add a few other ingredients that don’t usually appear on my sandwich like cheese and green onions.  This salad was a big hit and it was very tasty. 

Ingredients:

8 ounces of pasta, cooked and drained I used shell pasta because that what I had, feel free to use your favorite

3/4 bag of Romaine Lettuce

4 green onions, cut into small pieces, green and white parts

Cherry tomatoes or a big heirloom tomato cut into bite size pieces

6 slices of bacon, cooked crisp, I used thick cut slices, crumbled

3/4 cheddar cheese, cubed into small pieces

Cook pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain from hot water and run cold water over your pasta in the colander to cool it off.  Pasta should not be hot. While the pasta is cooking, chop and cut up the other ingredients. Put all ingredients in your salad bowl and toss. Add your favorite ranch dressing or make my recipe posted below. Add dressing a little at a time so you do not over dress your salad. It’s better to add a little at a time and toss. Enjoy!

Homemade Ranch Dressing
Ingredients:
1 cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup Sour cream
1 Tablespoon of chopped chives, fresh is best
1 Tablespoon of parsley, I used dry
1/2 teaspoon Dill, dry
1/4 teaspoon Onion powder
1/4 teaspoon Garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon Salt 
1/8 teaspoon Pepper, cracked fresh if possible
Whisk all of the above ingredients. Refrigerate. Dressing is best if made the day before. 

Pineapple Overnight French Toast Casserole 

I love French Toast. I love easy recipes during the holiday season. This recipe is made the day ahead and baked in the morning. Just a few ingredients and your family will love this delicious recipe. Included is a recipe for pineapple syrup. 

#sharethesunshine




Ingredients for French Toast:
1 loaf (16 ounces) of crusty white bread, I used 2 day old sourdough, torn into pieces
Butter for greasing casserole dish
8 eggs
2 1/2 cups cream, I used heavy cream
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 8 ounce can of Dole Pineapple Tidbits
Powdered sugar for dusting on top


 Butter the inside of a 9 x 13  casserole dish.  Tear  1/2 loaf of bread up into pieces. Drain pineapple and reserve the juice for the syrup. Place pineapple tidbits on top of torn bread. Cover pineapple with the remaining loaf of bread, torn into pieces. 


Combine eggs, cream and vanilla and mix well. Pour this evenly over the casserole. Cover with foil and place in the refrigerator overnight. 
The next morning, take your casserole out of the refrigerator. Let it sit on the counter for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 40 – 60 minutes until custard is set. Make your syrup the day ahead or while casserole is baking with juice that was reserved. 


Pineapple Syrup:

Reserved pineapple juice from tidbits

1 Tablespoon of butter, melted

3 Tablespoons of powdered sugar


Combine melted butter with reserved pineapple juice. Whisk in powdered sugar. Pour over casserole or set aside and use on individual servings. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Churro Cheesecake

This is one of the easiest and tastiest cheesecake you will ever make. This is a pumpkin recipe that I love and I am not a big pumpkin fan. 


Ingredients:

2 cans of crescent rolls, if can find the crescent sheets, get those

3 8-ounce blocks of cream cheese, room temperature 

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 can puréed pumpkin, not pie filling

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 pan with nonstick spray.  Place one can of crescent rolls in the bottom of the pan. Spread out the crescent rolls to the edges and ends of the inside of the pan. Set aside. 

Make sure you press the seams together. 
Filling:

Whip up cream cheese. Add sugar and combine. Blend in pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon and pumpkin spice. Scrape down the sides of your bowl and make sure everything is combined. Taste the filling to see if you want to add more cinnamon or pumpkin spice. Two teaspoons of each was plenty for me. Carefully pour filling over the crescent rolls. Spread out evening. 
Spray nonstick spray on wax paper and place second can of crescent rolls on it. Place another sheet of wax paper that has been sprayed on top of the crescent dough. Roll with a rolling pin or use your hands to make this crescent dough the size of 9 x 13. Lay it on top of the pumpkin filling. 


Churro Topping:

1 stick of butter, melted

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

3/4 cups of sugar 


Mix together and brush on top of the top layer of crescent rolls. Bake for 40-50 minutes, do not over bake.  Cool a little bit and refrigerate. 
Top with whip cream if desired. This recipe can easily be cut in half by using one can of crescent rolls and making in an 8 x 8 pan. Of course you will need to cut the other ingredients in half too. Enjoy!

Homemade Thin Mint Brownies


My son and grandson love Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies. Recently, Pillsbury came out with a box mix. I knew at first bite that I could make them homemade and better. So the challenge was on, better than Pillsbury Thin Mint Brownies. Personally, I did not like the box mix. 


Ingredients:

2 sticks of butter, room temperature 

2 cups of sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

4 eggs

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup of flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

15 Keebler Grasshopper  cookies, crumbled*

2/3 cup Andes Creme de Menthe baking chips, additional for garnish if desired*


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pan with cooking spray that contains flour.  In a separate bowl, whisk flour, salt and baking powder and set aside. In your mixing bowl, combine sugar and butter until incorporated. Add vanilla. Mix in cocoa powder. Add flour mixture slowly and blend together until combined.  Stir in crushed cookies and the Andes baking chips and pour into prepared pan. If you bake these in a 9 X 9 pan, bake 45 minutes or until the cake tester comes out clean. You will have a thicker brownie. If you bake in a 13 X 9 pan, you bake time will be 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.


Frosting Ingredients:

Frosting is completely optional 
3 Tablespoons of butter, room temperature 

2 teaspoons of vanilla

3 Tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder 

3 – 4 Tablespoons of milk

3/4 cup powdered sugar
Combine butter with vanilla.  Add cocoa powder and mix. Add 3 tablespoons of milk and blend well. Add powdered sugar. If frosting is too thick, add a little more milk but not too much.  Spread on top of brownies. They can be warm, but not hot out of the oven.   Garnish with additional Andes baking chips if desired. If you made your brownies in the 13 X 9 size pan, double the frosting recipe. 

*Both of these items can be purchased at Walmart SuperCenter or your local grocery store. 

Wimbledon Strawberries And Cream Cake


Strawberries and cream is served at Wimbledon tennis tournaments and I have watched many tournaments with my Dad.  So in tribute to all of the matches I have watched with my Dear Dad, I present this delicious strawberry cake with whipped cream frosting. 
Ingredients:

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted and cooled

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon strawberry extract

Red food coloring, optional (I am not a fan of food coloring but strawberry batter is kind of gray in color. It’s up to you)

1 cup of puréed strawberries (use your blender, food processor or hand mixer to purée your strawberries)

1 cup whole milk

3 cups flour

1 1/2 baking powder

1 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray pans* with cooking spray with flour and line the bottom with parchment paper. Don’t forget to spray the parchment paper too.

In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside. 
In your mixer, blend sugar and melted butter.  Add your eggs one at a time and combine. Blend in your extracts and food coloring if you are using. Add puréed strawberries. 
Alternate flour and milk into your wet ingredients, ending with flour. Pour into your baking pans and bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting. 
*Bake this recipe in two 9 inch pans, three 8 inch pans. Just make sure to divide your batter evenly.  


Whip Cream Frosting:

First chill your bowl and attachments in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or longer. 

1 8 ounce block of cream cheese, softened

1 quart of heavy whipping cream

1/2 to 1 cup of powdered sugar, taste it to see how sweet you want your whipped cream frosting

2 teaspoons vanilla
Blend cream cheese until creamy. Add cream and start to blend. Once it has thicken some, add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat on high until stiff peaks have formed. Frost cake and decorate with additional strawberries if desired. 

Vintage Blueberry Cake


I celebrated the July 4th holiday with my friends Pat and Amy George. Several friends were there including Amy’s mother, Jean Conklin. Jean was telling me about the cake she brought over that day. It was grandmother’s recipe that had been in her family since 1890. This was the recipe of Jean’s grandmother, Ella Cole.  Ella passed this recipe down to her daughter, Helen Hardy and then Helen to her daughter Jean. This is a moist delicious cake full of blueberries. Moist, light and very flavorful.  The cake is not frosted, however if you want to frost it with a cream cheese frosting, that would be good or even add a streusel topping would also be delicious. I liked the simplicity of the cake. I don’t think it needs a thing. I hope you enjoy this tasty piece of history as much as I did. 


Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup of oil or 2 sticks of softened butter 

3 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons of vanilla

2 cups of flour

3 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries

1 cup of walnuts, chopped, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 13 x 9 pan.
Blend sugar and butter. Add eggs one at a time.  Add in vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Add in the flour but not all at once. Stir in blueberries and walnuts. Bake for 35-45 minutes until done. Check with a cake tester, mine baked almost 45 minutes. Enjoy!

Best Iced Coffee


Just in time for National Coffee Month (August), I am giving you the best iced coffee recipe on the planet. Don’t like ice coffee?  I wasn’t too fond of it myself until my friend Doreen turned me on to them. Now, I am hooked. This recipe is better than any you can order at a coffee shop or drive through window. You can even flavor it if you wish. I have some tips and suggestions in this recipe that will make it the best. 


Ingredients:

Coffee to make coffee ice cubes

Coffee creamer Dunkin Donuts Extra Creamy*

Additional coffee for your cup/glass

1/2 teaspoon vanilla, optional**

Bailey’s Irish Cream Liquour,  optional***


I use coffee in some of my recipes. When I need coffee for a recipe, I make it in a cream pitcher or gravy boat. Why?  Because it has a spout and makes pouring so much easier, especially in your ice cube tray. 


Fill your glass, mug or beverage container with the coffee ice cubes you have made. I did 60-40 ratio of cream and coffee. I knew as the ice melted, my drink would not water down.  It’s totally up to you how much cream or coffee you put in your glass. Insert straw and enjoy the deliciousness!


*I am not a paid spokesperson for Dunkin Donuts Creamer but I am telling you it’s the best to use in ice coffee. 

**No need to buy syrups for flavored vanilla coffee. I added vanilla extract and it was delicious. 

**Not a paid spokesperson for Baileys either but it sure is tasty in coffee.