Braided Bread

Breakfast Braided Bread

Braided Bread

Yield: 1 loaf


1 loaf frozen bread dough, unthawed

Filling of your choice

Egg glaze: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water


  1. Preheat oven to 350º Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray with non-stick spray.
  2. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12” x 15” rectangle.
  3. Place filling down center of rectangle, going the long way.
  4. Use a pastry scraper to make 1/2-inch cuts along the edge of the dough on either side of the filling.
  5. Starting at one side, criss-cross the cut strips over the filling. Pinch ends together to keep in the filling.
  6. Transfer braided dough to prepared baking sheet. Brush dough with egg glaze.
  7. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.


Sweet Fillings:

Cream cheese: 8 ounces cream cheese beaten with 1/3 cup sugar

Fruit: Solo brand fruit pastry filling (available with pie fillings at the grocery store)


Savory Fillings:

Sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and chopped basil

Pizza sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella

Ham and cheddar cheese

Salade Nicoise

Make this beautiful, yet simple salad for your family and friends. It’s so easy (uses canned tuna), healthful, and so interesting, it can also be your centerpiece. You don’t have to stick with this exact recipe – add any vegetables you like to eat raw with salad dressing, such as zucchini, asparagus, celery, or carrots.

Herb Dressing:
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 teaspoon dried mixed French or Italian herbs
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
½ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
1 ½ pounds new potatoes, boiled until tender
1 pound Roma tomatoes, quartered
½ pound fresh green beans, blanched
4 – 6 scallions, sliced
1 can whole beets, drained
1 cucumber, lightly peeled and thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, chopped or sliced
½ cup pitted Nicoise olives (or other black olives)
4 – 6 hard-cooked eggs, halved
3 – 4, 4-ounce cans oil-packed tuna, drained

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, herbs, salt, pepper, and mustard. Continue to whisk while slowly pouring in the olive oil. Store in refrigerator until time to serve salad or up to 3 weeks.
  2. Arrange all salad ingredients on a large platter. Just before serving, drizzle on Dressing. Serve extra Herb Dressing on the side.

Beer Bread

beer bread loaf

Beer Bread
Yield: 1 loaf
Your family can be enjoying a hot, crusty loaf of bread in no time with this easy recipe. Yes, beer contains natural yeast which develops from the natural fermenting process. But today, most commercial beers are pasteurized, which kills this yeast. So it is actually the beer’s carbonation that puffs up the dough and makes it rise. Your home will smell delightful and homey – just like you want!

3 cups self rising flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1, 12-ounce beer
6 tablespoons melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350º. Spray a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with non-stick coating.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and beer. Mix well. Spread into prepared loaf pan. Bake 25 minutes. Open oven door and quickly pull loaf far enough out of the oven that you can pour on the butter. Pour butter evenly over the top of the loaf. Push back into oven and bake another 15 – 20 minutes or until done in the center.

beer bread sliced

Judie’s Streuseled Sweet Potatoes

Streuseled Sweet Potatoes
Yield: 6 – 8 servings

4 medium sweet potatoes, baked until very soft and peeled
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves

Preheat oven to 350º. Butter 9 x 12-inch baking dish.

Use a mixer to blend all ingredients and pour into prepared baking dish. Bake 30 – 40 minutes. Top with Streusel and bake another 15 – 20 minutes.

Top with Streusel (recipe below).

6 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup panko crumbs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Stir together with a fork until crumbly.

Seven-Minute Icing

seven minute icing on cake photo 2

Seven-Minute Icing

Yield: Frosting for two- or three-layer cake with lots of fluff on top

4 egg whites (1/2 cup)

3 cups white sugar

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

pinch of salt

2/3 cup water

2 teaspoons vanilla

Whisk together egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, salt, and water in the top of a double boiler. (If you don’t have a double boiler, use a stainless steel bowl placed on top of a saucepan of simmering water.) Before placing egg white mixture over simmering water, use an electric mixer (a hand-held mixer is essential here) beat on high speed 1 – 1 1/2 minutes.

Place over simmering water (don’t let the water touch the bottom of pan with egg white mixture). Beat on high speed for 7 minutes, while water simmers. This will cook the egg whites and thicken the icing.

Remove pan from heat and add vanilla. Beat 2 more minutes on high speed (off the simmering water). This will thicken and cool icing.

Use an 8-inch metal, offset spatula to fill and thickly frost cake. Pile remaining frosting on top of cake.  Yes! All of it!

Fig Preserves

The beginning of my yummy Fig Preserves.
The beginning of my yummy Fig Preserves.


This batch is made from whole figs. Beautiful and jewel-like when they cook down and get transparent.
This batch is made from whole figs. Beautiful and jewel-like when they cook down and get transparent.










Fig Preserves

Yield: about 10 cups preserves

8 cups chopped figs

8 cups sugar

½ cup water or fresh lemon juice

half a lemon, thinly sliced


  1. Place figs, sugar, water, and lemon slices in a Dutch oven or other large pot and stir to combine. Place over medium heat and cook carefully until mixture begins to simmer, stirring every so often. Turn heat to low and cook, stirring very often, until figs are translucent, and syrup is thick. This will take 2 – 6 hours.* As mixture thickens, be sure to stir and scrape down the sides of the pan often to keep mixture from settling to the bottom and burning.
  2. Fill hot, sterilized jars with boiling figs and syrup to within ½ inch of the top. Wipe sealing edge clean and put on lids and rings. Tighten rings just to “finger tight” or just to snug. Process in boiling water bath for 12 minutes.


*I like to cook my fig preserves until they are very thick, up to 6 hours. You might like yours thinner. Sometimes I pick the figs, cut them up, and start the cooking process – maybe an hour or more of cooking. Then if I get busy, I take them off the fire, cover the pot, and just leave it on the counter overnight. The next morning I continue the cooking process, until they are really good and thick.

I also like to make some of my preserves “caramelized.” For this, I simply cook the fig mixture until it is dark and almost gooey. Just be very careful not to burn them – keep the fire very low and stir often.

Fig Preserves, sitting in my kitchen window.
Fig Preserves, sitting in my kitchen window.

Curried Chicken and Rice Salad

CurriedChickenandRiceSalad_aug08Curried Chicken and Rice Salad

Yield: 6 servings


3 cups cooked rice, chilled (1 cup rice cooked in 2 cups water)

4 chicken breasts, poached, chilled and diced

1 green bell pepper, slivered

1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and chopped or

1, 2-ounce jar chopped pimentos

3 – 4 green onions, finely sliced

¼  cup minced fresh parsley

¼ cup golden raisins

Curried Dressing:

½ cup red wine vinegar

Juice of 1 large lemon, about ¼ cup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

½ teaspoon pepper or to taste

¾ cup olive oil

1. In a large bowl, toss together cooked rice, chicken, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, green onions, parsley and raisins. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, ginger, sugar, curry powder, salt and pepper. While whisking, slowly add olive oil. Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss well. Serve room temperature or refrigerate until cold.

Log Cake (Bûche de Nőel)

Log cake 2

Log Cake (Bûche de Nőel)

Yield: serves up to 15 guests

Children will love decorating this festive log cake. It’s sure to become a cherished tradition in your home.

4 whole eggs

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup water or coffee

1 small package instant chocolate pudding mix

1 boxed chocolate cake mix

2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted

1 recipe Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows)

Candies or rolled fondant (available at craft stores) for decorating

Powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour 3, 1-pound coffee cans.

2. In a mixer bowl, beat together eggs, sour cream, vegetable oil, and water. Add pudding mix and cake mix and beat 1 minute, scraping the bowl as needed. With mixer running, slowly pour in melted chocolate; beat 1 minute longer.

3. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

4. Let cakes cool 30 minutes in the pans. To loosen cakes from cans, run a long thin knife between the cake and the can. Then carefully dump out the cakes. Cool cakes completely before decorating.

5. Place two of the cakes together on a platter, “glueing” the ends together with a little frosting to form a log. Cut remaining cake in half diagonally. Use frosting to “glue” each half to the sides of the log. Frost the entire cake, including the round ends. Use the tines of a fork to make bark-like markings on the sides and ends of the cake, giving it the look of a wooden log. Decorate with candies or fondant and dust with powdered sugar.


Spanish Rice

Spanish Rice

Yield: 8 servings

This is just how authentic Spanish Rice should taste! The recipe is from my friend, Chef Duane Thompson.

The “secret” ingredient is the tomato-flavored chicken bouillon. It gives the correct color and consistency to the rice. Rinsing the rice before cooking removes the sticky starch covering and keeps the rice fluffy, not gummy.


2 cups white rice

3 cups chicken stock

1 tomato-flavored bouillon cube (or you can use the granulated variety)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup chopped onion

2 – 3 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 tablespoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper


  1. Place rice in sieve and rinse well with cold water. Set aside to drain.
  2. Heat chicken stock and bouillon cube, stirring until cube is dissolved.
  3. In a large skillet with lid, heat vegetable oil; sauté onion and garlic until tender. Add rice to pan and sauté until translucent. Stir in cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and prepared chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer gently 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Uncover rice and fluff with a fork.

Apple Dumplings with Cinnamon Sauce

Apple Dumplings with Cinnamon Sauce

Yield: 6 servings

Golden, syrupy crust covers tender, cinnamony apples. More comfort food!


6 tablespoons butter, softened

2 cups white or brown sugar, divided use

½ cup chopped pecans

½ cup raisins

3 tablespoons cinnamon, divided use

Pie Crust

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, chilled

6 tablespoons ice water


6 medium baking apples, cored but not peeled

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water to form an egg glaze

½ cup water


  1. Spray 2-quart baking dish with nonstick coating. In mixing bowl, stir together butter, 1 cup of the sugar, pecans, raisins and 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. Make pastry: Whisk flour and salt together in a medium bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons water over mixture, toss with a fork to moisten, adding more water, a few drops at a time, until dough comes together. Gather dough together and press into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes.*
  3. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Divide dough into 6 pieces. Roll out one piece, large enough to cover one apple. Place apple in center of pastry and fill center of apple with one-sixth of the butter-sugar mixture. Fold up pastry to cover apple and pinch edges together to seal. Repeat with remaining pastry, apples and sugar mixture. Place apples in prepared baking dish and brush with egg glaze. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. While apples bake, make the sauce: Place remaining 1 cup sugar, remaining 1 tablespoon cinnamon and the ½ cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes. Pour sauce over baked apples just before serving.

*Freeze ahead: Form apple dumplings and place in baking dish. Wrap with 2 layers plastic wrap and one layer foil. Freeze up to 1 month. Defrost, preheat oven to 350°F. Bake as above and continue with step #3.