Lime, Mint and Aniseed Dressing

Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. Anais Nin

Friday was our monthly Girls Games and Giving event.  There were a few ladies who were there for the first time.  I think one of the things I love best about this group is that, at almost every meeting, I walk away having made a new friend or two (or even three!).  Our group was small and we had so much fun.  We like to play Catch Phrase and if you haven’t played, it’s hysterical.  Someone told me it’s similar to the game Taboo, but what it reminds me of is the show/game Password. Basically you have to get your team to guess a word without saying the word or giving any obvious hints (like “sounds like” or “starts with”). 

The kicker is that the game makes the most horrible loud beeping noise – it’s basically a timer.  The game itself is a round electronic widget that is about 6″ in diameter.  Your team has to guess the word and the game has to be in the next person’s hands before the timer goes off. As you’re holding the game, the beeps get closer and closer together – Beep!……Beep!…..Beep!…..Beep!…Beep!…Beep!…Beep!…BEEP!..BEEP!BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPHONK. There you sit with the game in your hands looking pathetic. When the beeping starts to get really close, the person who is next line will often delay taking the game – because even if your team has guessed the word correctly, you CANNOT be holding it when the timer goes off. The best is if you pass it to the next person and the timer goes off immediately.

The charity chosen by our hostess was ALS – or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. What an awful disease.  Essentially you end up with a body that doesn’t work and a fully functioning brain – trapped.  Two of the girls in our club are cousins and they’ve had 5 people in their family who either died or are dying from this disease. It’s always amazing to me how I can so easily feel like I don’t have enough in my life; yet hearing about a disease like this really makes it clear how blessed I really am.  The hostess showed us a before and after picture of the latest family member who has been struck with ALS – in six months she looked like she had aged 30 years. A good thing to think about when I feel like I’m somehow deprived!

I had this bright idea that I was going to can peaches this year.  This was brought on by my friend  and co-worker, Annie, who is this truly amazing woman – she can do anything.  She’s an outstanding cook, baker, quilter, sewer, accountant, just name it.  She brought in these peaches she had gotten at a local produce market.  They’re called Colorado Mountain Gold and oh my goodness – I’ve never had such a good tasting peach.  So I went to the market and bought an entire box. And before I could get them canned, we ate them all!  I have three left. And now, sadly, they’re not available anymore.  So, I’ll try again next year.  But, I did use them in some very creative ways.  Last weekend I made a salad with peaches, blueberries, and strawberries, and I topped it with a mint lime dressing that was used in a different type of fruit salad by my cousin Sue.  It was outstanding.  And even though the peaches were wonderful on their own, I also tried them alone with the dressing – yummers. And, it’s simple to make and keeps well. One thing I want to point out – I DO NOT like black licorace.  In fact, I would eat something with raisins in it before I would eat black licorace.  But don’t let the aniseeds in this recipe scare you.  The flavor is so subtle and adds so much to the final product – I promise you it will be good!

Just a few simple ingredients.  Those are the anise seeds on the bottom left. 

Mix together the sugar, finely diced mint leaves, anise seeds, lime juice and water. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.  Cool completely.

Here it is still warm from the stove.  If you’re going to make this a couple days ahead of time, you can leave the mint out when you boil it and add it in when the syrup is cool. Let it steep for a couple of days and it will have a wonderful mint flavor, and the mint pieces will stay bright green instead of losing their color (when they’re cooked they look a little like basil).

So good drizzled on fresh fruit (the last of the peaches!).  For more intense flavor, soak the fruit in the dressing for a couple of hours before serving.  So far my favorite combination is peaches, orange slices (from either mandarin or Cara Cara oranges), strawberries and blueberries.

Lime, Mint and Aniseed Dressing


  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon anise seed
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves


Combine all ingredients in a small heavy saucepan over high head, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and boil for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat, and cool completely. May be used immediately after cooling or store in the refrigerator.

Alternative: Follow directions above, but do not add mint until mixture has cooled.  Allow to steep in the refrigerator for at least one day before using. This method keeps the mint leaves a nicer green.


Raspberry Almond Coffee Cake

Wrinkles only go where the smiles have been. Jimmy Buffet (take off on a quote by Mark Twain)

Smile, kiddos, it’s good for your soul.  Have you ever noticed how people react to a big grin? It makes them feel loved, I think (I know it makes me feel loved!).

 I have well over 100 cookbooks, and probably about the same amount of those 5′ x 7′ booklets that are always calling my name when I’m checking out at the grocery store (100 Fabulous Casseroles or Slow Cooker Recipes 0r Springtime Cookies), and full access to the Internet with it’s millions of recipes.  But yet, I still find myself buying a cooking magazine on occasion (and certainly any new Ina Garten cookbooks!).  I recently bought the new Better Homes and Gardens recipe magazine, and in it was a recipe for a raspberry coffee cake.  And having a surplus of raspberries, I decided to try the recipe.  And, it was pretty good, but something was missing. So, I made a new version, but this time I used almond extract in lieu of vanilla, and almonds in lieu of pecans.  Yummy!

Somehow I deleted my picture of the ingredients.  I think it’s because I was taking pictures when I made this coffee the first time, the way the recipe was written, and then I chucked those photos!  But, I think it’s going to be okay.

First, gather together your ingredients. You’ll need fresh raspberries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, flour, baking powder (make sure it’s not out of date), cold butter and softened butter (leave a stick in the fridge), eggs, sour cream, almond extract, powdered sugar, milk and Marcona almonds (you can use regular but the Marcoa’s add so much to it).


Put the raspberries and the lemon juice, along with some water, into a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Now add the lemon juice, give it a stir, and then add some sugar and cornstarch.  Bring it back to a boil.

Keep stirring – it’ll start to thicken up.  Cook it for about 2 minutes and then take it off the heat and set it aside.

Mix together some flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the butter – cut it into 4 or 5 pieces.  Using two knives or a pastry cutter (this is my first choice), cut the butter into the flour mixture.

Keep cutting in the butter…

Until it looks like big crumbs.

Now add the egg, the sour cream, and the almond extract. Stir just until combined.  This dough is sticky and a pain in the patootie to work with (a fact lightly brushed over in the original recipe I might add).

Take about half the dough and beat it into submission spread it in a greased pan. The original recipe calls for a 9 x 13″ pan, but I halved the recipe since there are only two of us here.  This is some work, because again, the Dough. Is. Sticky.

Now take your lucious raspberry concoction and spread it on the sticky dough.  This is the easy part. Really.

Now drop the other half of your dough in little piles all over the raspberry sauce.  This part isn’t too hard either.

Now, spread the dough over the the raspberry sauce.  This is a pain and I just have to wonder – do the magazines that publish these recipes actually try them first so that they can tell you if it’s hard to do?  Somehow I doubt it – the recipe made it sound like you just spread it out no problem. Instead, what happens is that the top layer of dough and the sauce mixes all together and looks a little gross.  But not to worry – it comes out all right in the end!

Now mix up some softened butter, chopped almonds, sugar and flour.

Sprinkle this all over the top (mmm, crumble).

Cover the whole thing and pop it in the oven.

While the cake is baking, mix some milk, powdered sugar and almond extract together to make a glaze.

Drizzle this over the cake when it comes out of the oven. Let it cool completely and then cut yourself a big slice (goes great with milk!).


Here’s your recipe.  Two things – remember that I cut my recipe in half.  This recipe is for a 9 x 13″ pan. And again, try using Marcona almonds – the flavor adds much to this treat!

Raspberry Almond Coffee Cake


Raspberry Sauce:

  • 3-1/2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 -1/4 cup sugar


  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 sticks of cold butter
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Crumble Topping:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup chopped Marcona almonds


  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 or 3 teaspoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract


  1. Place the raspberries and the water in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 5 minutes
  2. Add the corn starch, 1-1/4 cups of sugar and the lemon juice.
  3. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a strong simmer.  Cook and stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan and preheat the oven to 350°.
  5. Mix 3 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and 1 cup sugar together in a large bowl. 
  6. Cube 2 stick of cold butter and add to flour/sugar mixture, and cut in until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  7. Add eggs, sour cream and 1 teaspoon almond extract, and mix just until combined.
  8. Pat half of this mixture into the prepared pan.  The dough will be sticky and difficult to work with.  Using a silicone spatula is very helpful.
  9. Spread the raspberry sauce over the top of the dough.
  10. Dollop the remaining dough over the raspberry sauce, and using a spatula, spread it around.  It will mix with the raspberry sauce, this is okay.
  11. Mix together the chopped almonds, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup softened butter.  Sprinkle evenly over the top of the cake.
  12. Bake for  40 to 45 minutes until golden brown.
  13. While the cake is baking, mix together the powdered sugar, milk, and 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract.
  14. When the cake is done, place it on a wire rack to cool and immediately drizzle the glaze evenly over the cake.
  15. Enjoy!


Popover for a Popover

Give us today our daily bread. Matthew 6:11 NIV

The title of this post reminded me of a joke my husband’s family likes to tell (okay, I like to tell it too – we’re all weird together).  So one guy says to the other guy, “I got a weak back”. The other guy replies, “When’d that happen?”. The first guy says, “About a week back”.  Really it’s funny! Try it!

While my soup was cooking I realized I had no crusty bread to dip in it. I had some soft marbled rye, but, well, yuck. Not a good combination.  Kind of like putting raisins in cookies. So anyway, I thought, “Popovers!”.  I just got a new popover pan (no more using muffin tins for this kid) that I was hot to use. I don’t know how many of you have made popovers, but they are super easy if you remember just a few key points.

  • Milk, cream or half and half and eggs at room temperature.
  • Preheat the pan (either the popover pan or the muffin tin you are using).
  • If your pan is not non-stick, butter it well before you preheat it.
  • NO PEEKING while cooking for the first 30 minutes
  • As soon as they’re done, take them out of the oven and put a little slit in each one (releases the steam which keeps them from collapsing).

There are literally dozens and dozens of recipes on the Internet.  They all have the same basic ingredients.  Some call for baking powder, which I don’t like to add, but experiment! Have fun!  I put some herbs de provence in mine because I like that flavor combination  and I thought it would work well with soup.  There’s only 2 of us here, so I only make 6 at a time. They are best eaten right away but are still edible the next day.  Just make sure they’re completely cool before you store them.

If you get a hankering like I did and don’t have the ingredients at room temp, never fear.  Put the eggs in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes, and heat the milk or cream to room temp in the microwave (that’s what I did!).

See? Very simple ingredients. Okay, preheat your oven to 425°. Once it’s hot, stick your pan in the oven to pre-heat.

Whisk everything together.

Divide the batter amongst your 6 vessels. Usually you want them about half full or so. Now put ’em in the oven and bake those babies!  NO PEEKING. Seriously. No. Peeking. Of course if your oven door is nice and clean (mine isn’t ) you can peek through there.


There you go!  Make sure and stab each one to let the steam out. Then cut it open and slather with butter. Or better yet, honey butter!  Remember, you can put in whatever herbs you want, or leave them plain.

 Popovers – Makes 6


  • 1 tablespoons butter, melted, plus extra if your pan is not non-stick.
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Herbs of your choice, or none at all – I use about 1 teaspoon


  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. When the oven is hot, put your muffin pan or popover pan in the oven to preheat. If it is not a non-stick pan, butter the cups first.
  3. Mix all ingredients together.
  4. Take the pan out of the oven and pour in the popover mix – dividing evenly among the cups.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. When you take them out of the oven, pierce each to release the steam



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Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12.

Quiche (keesh): An unsweetened custard pie, usually having a savory filling. Keesh is so good!  You get some protein, some veggies, some grains (okay, I KNOW a pie crust isn’t really a grain, but, I  would also like to believe that if you drink a diet Coke with a Hershey bar, the diet pop cancels out the calories in the candy bar!).

Now I’m going to tell you a funny story.  This is why being specific on grocery lists is so very important. My sweet husband will almost always make a run to the grocery store for me. Never mind that I can accomplish in 20 minutes what takes him (seriously) 2 hours. He is really good about doing this for me with a minimum of Fred Flintstoning (you know – “Rackafrikacrubadooyicktookey” – which could be translated as “&^!??!@#*#).  Last week I asked him to go to the meat market for me and get some things, including a couple nice thick slices of ham, about a pound or so. I repeated that they should be thicker because some is for soup and some is for keesh.  He apparently only heard the “thicker” and not the “1 pound”.  I just took it out of the freezer for the quiche – and here is what I found:

I thought this was pretty cute!  I definitely have enough ham to last for a while. These babies are about 11″ x 7″ and almost an inch thick! And it smells delish!

I found this recipe on All Recipes from a gentleman named Clark Hamblen.  I’ve made some changes, but the basic recipe is all Clark.  There are a LOT of ingredients in this one – had to take more than one picture, as you can see.

One thing I want to point out here – see the piecrust in the first picture? Although I make almost everything from scratch, these pie crusts are a big exception. They are awesome.  It’s Pappy’s Pie Crust.  They have been in business for years, and it’s probably because they are as good as homemade (made with lard so they are super flaky). You have to roll them out, but it’s so easy and quick.  Don’t forget to save the scraps to makc cinnamon sugar strips.

Take out one of the pie crusts if you’re using Pappy’s.  It needs to thaw for about 20 minutes. Dice an onion – about a medium to small dice – and cook with some olive oil until translucent.

While the onions are cooking, dice up some mushrooms.

A finer dice for these – I used baby portobellos, but you can use your favorite kind.


Throw the mushrooms in with the onions and cook for a few more minutes. While the mushrooms are cooking, dice the ham.  Add it to the pan and let it cook for a few more minutes (sorry, I lost my diced ham picture!).

While the ham and mushrooms and onions are cooking, roll out the crust. I like to lay a piece of freezer paper shiny side down.  If you wipe the counter first with a slightly damp sponge, the freezer paper will stick to the counter.  Sprinkle a little flour on the paper and on the crust.

Roll it out so it’s large enough to cover a deep dish pie plate.  Then gently fold in half, then fold in half again. 

Place the crust in the pie plate with the point in the middle.

Unfold and….

…and unfold one more time! You can also do this by gently wrapping the pie crust around the rolling pin, but I always find that I have a harder time centering it and sometimes the crust will tear. It’s really just personal preference! Go ahead and turn the excess under (unless it’s a lot or really thick, in which case just trim some off before turning it under) and crimp the edges so it looks pretty.

Drain the spinach (sorry, forgot to take pics).  I do stuff like spinach and sauerkraut the same way. I put them in a fine mesh strainer, and take a couple paper towels, and push on the spinach.  This will force liquid out of the strainer and you’ll also sop some up with the paper towel  Ring the paper towel out a couple times.  Get the spinach as dry as you can.  Now mix the spinach with the ham/mushroom/onion mixture; and add in the cheese (monterey jack, cheddar and parmesan), the sour cream, and pepper to taste.  I don’t add salt because ham is pretty salty, but you sure can if you like.

Put your spinach mixture into the pie crust. Mix the eggs and cream, and pour it over the top.  Bake this on the middle rack but make sure to put it on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet in case it boils over.  Mine didn’t, but better safe than sorry.

Voila!  Scrumpdillyishus!  One thing – I did make two of these, because they are very yummy and they freeze well.  I love it when I have ready made meals in my freezer. Also, we are having heat wave and I just have to say, it’s wonderful. But, not so good for baking.  Luckily, I have a really nice counter top convection oven.  I may have mentioned that I have a tiny tiny kitchen. I would love a double oven but that would probably mean giving up my refrigerator. Tempting, but, no. Anyway, I would recommend getting a counter top oven.  I can bake cookies, cupcakes, keeshes, pizzas, pies, Au gratins, etc, just on a slightly smaller scale. And it doesn’t heat up the kitchen!  Just my two cents.

Clark’s Quiche (slightly modified)

Ingredients for two:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium sized onion, diced
  • 8 ounces of mushrooms, finely diced
  • 3 cups of diced ham
  • 8 ounces of sour cream
  • 10 ounces of spinach, thawed and well-drained
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1 cup grated or shredded parmesan
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 deep dish pie crusts


  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute the onions in the olive oil until they’re translucent.
  3. Add the mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes.
  4. Add the ham and cook until heated through.  Remove from heat.
  5. Drain excess liquid from the ham and onion mixture (don’t get too crazy, just put the lid and get some of the liquid out).
  6. In a large bowl, mix the spinach, ham/onion/mushroom mixture, sour cream, monterey jack, cheddar, parmesan, and pepper.
  7. Place mixture into the prepared pie crust.
  8. In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs and whipping cream together until well combined.
  9. Pour over spinach mixture.
  10. Place the pie plate on a cookie sheet, and bake on the middle rack for 40 minutes.
  11. Let it rest for 15 minutes before serving. You can also serve it cold if you like.  This reheats well in the microwave and also freezes well.

Candied Bacon

 You have to cook to eat. You can’t be a good cook and be a noneater. I think eating is the secret to good cookingJulia Child

Mmmmm. I love bacon. I know, that’s really not very PC, but I just can’t help it!  It smells good, it tastes good, it’s just… good. A couple of years ago at the state fair, they had something called “Bacon on a Stick”. I don’t usually go to the fair but I did that year (and seriously, it was to get the bacon on a stick!).   It was wonderful!  I did find a recipe for it, but you have to use a big, uncut chunk of bacon, not slices. We have a wonderful local butcher shop that I’m sure could accommodate, but I keep forgetting.

I’ve been researching candied bacon recipes and couldn’t find one I really liked (a lot of them call for maple syrup, but I wanted something a bit different). I thought about it for awhile and I decided to substitute a mixture of  orange juice and pineapple juice for the maple syrup, use brown sugar, and freshly ground black pepper. Yowza!  This is good.  It’s a bit of work to to make it, only because you have to mess with it every few minutes to baste it, so make a large batch – you can freeze it. And it’s definitely a treat worth fussing over.

Here’s what you need. That’s rice vinegar hiding in the back. Preheat your oven to 350°.

First, line a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) with tin foil, and put a cookie rack on it. The bacon grease will drip onto the tin foil.

Put the bacon strips on the rack – you can put them right next to each other, but don’t overlap them – they’ll stick to each other.

Bake it for about 10 minutes, take it out of the oven, flip each piece over, and bake for another 10 minutes.

While the bacon is cooking, mix together the brown sugar, vinegar, pineapple juice, orange juice, and pepper.

Baste the bacon, and bake for 5 to 7 minutes. Basta again, and bake for 5 to 7 minutes. After the third time, flip it over (you only need to do this once).

About halfway done here. Keep going!  It’s worth it!

And we’re done. But…let it rest for about 2 minutes and then put it on either parchment paper or non-stick foil.  If you let you cool on the rack, it’ll stick like crazy!  As it cools it’ll stiffen up.  We had it with pancakes (yum!). You could eat it just a snack, or use it in your favorite recipe.

Candied Bacon


  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Adjust the rack in the oven so it’s midway between the top and the middle.
  2. Preheat oven to 350º.
  3. Cover a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil, and place a rack on the pan (so the grease can drip off).
  4. Lay thick cut bacon strips on the rack, not overlapping
  5. Bake for about 10 minutes, flip, and bake another 10 minutes
  6. Baste each piece with glaze and return to the oven for 5 to 7 minutes.  Turn the bacon over the the third time you baste it (you will only need to turn it once).
  7. Continue basting every 5-7 minutes until it is cooked through (it will stiffen quite a bit as it cools).
  8. Let it rest for a couple of minutes and remove it from the rack – if you wait until it’s cool it’ll stick. Place on parchment paper or non-stick foil and cool completely.