Potluck MVP! Stuffed Artichoke Casserole

My first visit to New Orleans was in the fall of 1998.  I studied for my undergrad degree at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. Go Badgers!!


My freshman year roommate brought me to her hometown of Metairie, Louisiana. There I tried my first ever stuffed artichoke, we spent at least an hour peeling off its leaves and scraping the artichoke meat and breading off. Amazing!

stuffed artichoke

I’ve tried to bake my own stuffed artichokes over the years but it takes so much time and effort.  This week I tried a recipe that gives all the flavor without all the cleanup!  It makes a great addition to a holiday meal, it may even replace green bean casserole at my family dinner. The recipe can be found on the local Nola site, re-posting here:

Stuffed Artichoke Casserole

Makes 8-12 servings

3 (16.8 ounce) cans French-cut green beans, drained

2 (14 ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained

2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs

8 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

3-4 pods garlic, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain the artichoke hearts and chop into pieces.

Pour the green beans, artichoke hearts, bread crumbs, cheeses, chopped onion and garlic, Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese into a 9- by-13-inch baking dish that has been coated with nonstick spray. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to blend everything thoroughly. Drizzle olive oil over the top and cover the dish with aluminum foil.

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes.

Note: I’d squeeze some fresh lemon juice on the casserole just before serving.

IMG_1979Try it, you’ll love it!



Win that Cookie Swap! Ginger Cookie Recipe

This past weekend was a whirlwind of to-do lists and fun events.  I started off Friday by posting my first ever youtube video!

Then it was off to Virginia Beach to celebrate a friends birthday.  It was 78 degrees at the beach on Saturday.


The only hint that it was December was the Santa surfer.


Finished off with a sold out show in downtown Norfolk.  If you haven’t heard this song, it is so much fun to sing at the top of your lungs!

By Sunday it was time to drive back home and bake up a storm for my cousin’s 13th annual cookie swap.  If you have never attended a cookie swap, everyone brings 6-7 dozen of their favorite homemade holiday cookie. Then you swap your cookies with everyone there so you get a huge variety of cookies without all the headache.

For the swap we had 21 different types of cookies!


It was a tableful of calories, and a full time job to keep the kids in attendance from pigging out.


Once the swap begins, everyone works their way around the table grabbing 6 of each type of cookie.  After the first round you can go back and get 4 cookies. Everyone keeps going around until the cookies are done!


At this cookie swap we also vote on best Rookie cookie, most festive, most difficult to make, and best overall cookie.  And guess who won best overall cookie? This girl!! Shared with my favorite cookie tester.


So here is the award winning recipe:

Ginger Cookie Sandwiches with Caramel Buttercream
Soft and chewy molasses ginger cookies are sandwiched together with caramel buttercream frosting!

Recipe type: Cookies
Serves: 18 sandwich cookies

For Ginger Cookies:
1 c. sugar
¾ c. shortening (Crisco)
1 egg
¼ c. molasses
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cloves
1/4 c. chopped crystallized ginger
⅓ c. sugar, for rolling

For Caramel Buttercream:
½ c. butter, softened
½ c. prepared caramel sauce
1½ tsp. caramel extract (I find this easily at Walmart with the other
3 ­ 4 c. powdered sugar

For cookies:
1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together sugar and shortening.
2. Add in egg and molasses. Mix until well­ combined.
3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, ginger, and spices until well blended.
4. Add flour mixture to mixing bowl, beating until well­ combined.
5. Roll dough into 1­inch balls and roll the balls in granulated sugar.
6. Place them 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-­10 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

For frosting:
1. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and caramel sauce til blended.
2. Add caramel extract.
3. Add enough powdered sugar that the frosting is thick and fluffy, but spreadable. Beat until fluffy.
4. Form cookie sandwiches by spreading the bottom of one ginger cookie with buttercream, and topping it with another cookie.


You must measure the molasses accurately. Too much, and the cookies will get sticky and goopy.


Apple Cinnamon Macaron Recipe

It’s been a couple months since I baked some french macarons, so it was time to experiment with some fall flavors.

This is my spin on apple cinnamon macarons with brown sugar cinnamon frosting. The macarons turned out as one of my most flavorful recipes and my taste testers finished them off within a day.


Some notes on my baking process, I use both Trader Joe’s almond flour and freeze dried apples.


The apple slices give a great authentic apple flavor to the cookies.


I also use a baking mat specifically designed for macarons, you can find many options on Amazon.



Apple Cinnamon Macarons (adapted form Sur La Table macaron recipe)

Yield: 35 sandwich cookies

7 ounces powdered sugar, divided

4 ounces almond flour or meal

1/3 cup of crushed dried apples

4 large (4 ounces) egg whites, room temperature

Pinch of cream of tartar

3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp  ground cinnamon

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees (for my specific oven I prefer 315-320). Line the baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.

Pulse 1/3 of the confectioners’ sugar, crushed apples and all the almond flour in a food processor to form a fine powder. Using a fine sieve, sift the mixture 2 times, then sift the remaining powdered sugar 2 times. Combine almond flour mixture with remaining powdered sugar. Set aside.

To make the meringue: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a wire whip attachment, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add granulated sugar. Once all sugar is incorporated, scrape down sides of bowl, add extract and cinnamon, and increase speed to high, whisking until stiff, firm, glossy peaks form.

To complete the macaronnage step: Sift the almond flour mixture one-third at a time over the egg white mixture and fold using a large spatula until mixture is smooth and shiny. Once all the almond flour mixture is incorporated, check for the correct consistency, as the batter should be nicely firm and drip slowly from the spatula.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain round tip (#12) and pipe 1 1/3 inch rounds on parchment-line baking sheets. Gently tap the bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. (The more humid the air, the longer they should sit) Check for a slight crust to form. The macarons should not stick to finger when lightly touched.

Bake one sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 10-15 minutes. If the macarons are still soft inside, lower oven to 300 degrees F, cover with aluminum foil and bake for a few more minutes.

Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling with buttercream (recipe below). Store in air tight container in fridge or freezer.

Cinnamon Sugar Buttercream

  • 1 stick softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cimmanon
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

Directions: To prepare buttercream, beat softened butter and powdered sugar until creamy and smooth. Add cinnamon and brown sugar to the frosting, beating until combined. Place buttercream into a medium pastry bag with a large round tip attached and pipe a dollop of frosting on the center of a macaron and top with a second macaron. Serve room temperature. Store any remaining macarons in the refrigerator.

Enjoy these flavorfull treats!!


Oatmeal Fruit Crisp

This recipe has been my go-to for fresh summer fruit and will now transition to my favorite fall fruit – apples!

I’ve used this same recipe to make an all rhubarb, all strawberry, and a peach/blueberry combo. Have 3.5 – 4 cups of fruit no matter what you choose.

fruit crisp

Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Crisp

2 tbsp. cornstarch
½ cup (4 ounces/125 grams) sugar
6 medium stalks rhubarb, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 cups (8 ounces/250 grams) strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise

1 cup (5 ounces/155 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup (1.5 ounces/45 grams) all-purpose flour
⅓ cup (3 ounces/90 grams) sugar
⅓ cup (2.5 ounces/75 grams) firmly packed golden brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1.Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F. Have ready a 2.5 quart ceramic or glass pie dish or baking dish.

2. For the Filling: In a large bowl, stir together the rhubarb, strawberries, cornstarch and sugar until well mixed. Pour into the baking dish, and set aside.

3. For the Topping: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, rolled oats, sugars, cinnamon and salt until well blended. Stir in the melted butter until evenly moistened crumbs form. Spoon the crumb mixture over the filling.

4. Bake the crisp until the rhubarb is tender when tested with a toothpick, the juices are bubbling, and the topping is golden brown. Add chopped nuts to topping last 10-15 minutes of baking, total bake time 35-40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Note: The crisp can be cooled, covered with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days. Rewarm in a 250-degree F oven for 15 minutes before serving. Preferably with a substantial scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Obsessed: GBBS

I’m in prime tv watching mode, between the crummy winter weather and the urge to carb load, a baking show is the perfect fix.


The Great British Bake-off (or Baking Show here in the U.S.) finally jumped the pond and was picked up by PBS.  They started screening season 5 in early January.


Why bother with this show when we have so many reality cooking shows already running? For one, this one is actually cheerful and funny.  If I hadn’t seen this article on Buzzfeed, I probably would have ignored it. After watching an hour of Gordon Ramsay I want to yell at someone.

I also love seeing the unique British phrases and slang that are thrown around.

It’s fascinating to see all the different types of dessert they treasure that didn’t really make it over with so many of the British immigrants to early America.

It’s also led me to try my hand at baking.  Might as well, too darn cold to go anywhere!  So I’ve whipped up some batches of macaroons in the hopes of perfecting my baking skills.

Earl Grey macaroon with lavender buttercream


Pistachio macaroon with rose white chocolate ganache


I’m also stalking the interwebs and pinterest for the shows recipes to replicate later. Feel free to checkout my Pinterest board.

If you want to catch up with this season before the finale next week, Season 5 is on the pbs website for streaming as well as youtube.  Seasons 1-4 can also be found online, as well as two seasons of the Great Irish Bake Off.  Fair warning – you’ll need subtitles for that one.