Tag Archives: brown sugar

Best Baked Beans! – Show 101

Best Baked Beans! – Show 101

Every time there’s a get together in my neighborhood the first thing that comes to mind, “I hope Linda brings her baked beans!” That’s how good these baked beans are! My friend and neighbor, Linda, graciously offered up her recipe so that I may share it with all of you. Linda titles the recipe “Sue’s Baked Beans” because she got the recipe from her sister Sue who got the recipe from their mom! No matter what the title it’s one great family recipe.

Just the thought of bacon, sauteéd onions and creamy beans and you’ve got my attention. These are a few of the ingredients that go into this Best Baked Beans recipe. Other key ingredients are brown sugar, honey mustard, garlic granules, and to balance out the whole dish  apple cider vinegar, of course.

It’s really fairly simple especially since the recipe calls for canned beans. Shhhh …no one has to know that, lol! These beans, in my opinion, taste like they are made from scratch. Our time is very valuable and if you can make baked beans that taste like this you’re one step ahead of the game. These best beaked beans are creamy, flavorful, and a wonderful balance between sweet and tangy making a great addition to grilled fish, chicken, pulled pork or sausages. These will become your go to baked bean recipe once you taste them!

For some other fun BBQ ideas, Homemade BBQ Sauce, Grilled-Marinated Steak on Skewers, Seared Sea Scallops or Stout Braised Pulled Beef Short Ribs and don’t forget to end the meal with some Homemade Hersheys Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake topped with GHOST Peeps!






























  • Bush Beans – Vegetarian (large can undrained)
  • Black beans- 15 oz. can (drained and rinsed)
  • Kidney beans – 15 oz. can (drained and rinsed)
  • Butter beans – 15 oz. can (drained and rinsed)
  • Cannelloni beans – 15 oz. can (drained and rinsed)
  • Bacon – 8 slices Boars Head
  • 2 to 3 onions (chopped)
  • ½ cup cider vinegar (add more if you like tangy vs. sweet)
  • 2 to 3 tbls. honey mustard
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • Ground pepper to taste


  1. Add the 5 cans of beans to a large mixing bowl
  2. Cook bacon in skillet until crisp, drain on paper towels and then crumble into small pieces–save 2 tbls grease
  3. In the same skillet cook chopped onions in the 2 tbls bacon grease until soft
  4. Then add in the crumbled bacon, cider vinegar, brown sugar, honey mustard, garlic powder, and ground pepper and simmer for 10-15 minutes
  5. Pour this mixture over beans and mix well.
  6. Pour into baking crock or dish and bake at 350 degrees for one hour….delicious!




Drunk Blondies & Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Drunk Blondies & Bourbon Caramel Sauce

IMG_6622Drunk blondies are a dessert that will have you and your guest’s reminiscing for days! These drunk blondies are a buttery, chewy cookie bar made with bourbon, butter, toasted coconut, pecans and semi-sweet chocolate chips…could it get any better then that! They get even more decadent when you serve them with vanilla ice cream, homemade bourbon caramel sauce, whipped cream and extra toasted coconut to top it off. In fact, I wouldn’t serve them any other way. You will feel like you are in dessert ecstasy!

The recipe for these mouth watering cookie bars actually originates from the Back in the Day Bakery CookBook by Cheryl and Griffith Day. I Found this recipe on a fellow food blogger, Adam Robert’s website, called Amateur Gourmet. I haven’t had a chance myself to buy this cookbook but it’s high on my list! Adam serves up these drunk blondies with a bourbon caramel sauce from Food and Wine but I have my own which I love that I share below.

The Drunk Blondie bars couldn’t get any easier to make. You don’t even need a kitchen aid or electric mixer to make these just a large bowl and spatula or wooden spoon! It literally take’s all of a few minutes to combine the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, bourbon, toasted coconut, pecans, chocolate chips and flour mixture. Then off into a baking dish lined with parchment for easy removal.

This is a great dessert if you entertain a lot because is it’s a total make ahead project. You can make the drunk blondies up to 3 days ahead and the bourbon caramel sauce up to a week ahead. The toasted coconut you want to make the same day or night before. You may burn the toasted coconut on your first try because that cooks faster then you think and you only have 6 minutes of toasting time. Don’t worry, just toss out the first round and throw in a second batch. You will be that much more knowledgeable and ready for the toasty quickness in the next round! Be sure to toast up extra coconut too, because it makes for an incredible addition at the end to sprinkle on top of your drunk blondie sundae’s!

As for my bourbon caramel sauce I have you heat up the heavy cream. This is a necessary step that some recipes don’t even mention.  It’s important to do this because adding cold cream into a boiling sugar mixture will most likely seize up and get temporarily lumpy.  There’s no worries here though. If this does happen just put the pan back on the stove, keep whisking and it will become a smooth caramel sauce in a matter of seconds!

Hope you enjoy the amazing drunk blondie sundae’s with ice cream, bourbon caramel sauce and toasted coconut. If you are putting together a whole meal you could start with an appetizer like crab cakes, spanakopita triangles, my famous Caesar salad, salmon BLT sliders, or move right to a main course like my bolognese sauce right from Urbino, Italy made with homemade spaghetti!









Ingredients for Drunk Blondies – Makes 12 – 24 bars 

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter – melted
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs room temp
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons Bourbon
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup (1/2 cup is for sprinkling over the dessert at the end) sweetened flaked coconut, toasted in a 350º oven on a cookie sheet until fragrant and golden brown – about 5 minutesNOTE: you need to stir every 2 minutes with a spatula and then shake the tray to distribute evenly ….watch it carefully- it burns easily
  • 1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

 Directions – Pre-Heat Oven to 350º:

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Grease a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan and line with parchment, allowing the ends of the paper to hang over two opposite edges of the pan
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside
  4. Put the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and stir with a spoon until smooth
  5. Add the eggs, vanilla, and bourbon, and mix until thoroughly combined
  6. Stir in the flour mixture, followed by the pecans, coconut, and chocolate chips
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden brown
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack
  9. Cut the blondies into bars
  10. The blondies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Tip: The easiest way to toast coconut is in the oven. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350º. Spread the coconut on a baking tray and bake for 6 minutes, tossing every couple of minutes. Keep a close eye on the coconut, because it can burn easily.







Ingredients for Bourbon Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream HEATED – If you don’t warm up the cream the temperature change will temporarily seize up the boiling water-sugar mixture…BUT don’t fret because all you need to do if this happens is put the pan back on the stove while whisking CONTINUOUSLY and it will all come back to a nice smooth sauce!

Directions for Bourbon Caramel Sauce:

    1. In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, water and corn syrup to a boil over high heat
    2. You can stir the sugar-water mixture at first just to combine then DO NOT STIR after
    3. Cook until the sugar is dissolved washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush…just once
    4. Continue cooking without stirring until an amber caramel forms – from 5-8 minutes
    5. When it turns the pretty light amber color add in the butter and keep whisking
    6. BE CAREFUL NOT TO GET BURNED HERE because the mixture will rise up a little here at the butter/cream stages
    7. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in 1/2 the cream while STILL WHISKING – it will foam up here quite a bit so whisk it down slightly, then add in the rest of the cream and butter
    8. if it seizes up NO WORRIES all you need to do if this happens is put the pan back on the stove while whisking CONTINUOUSLY and it will all come back to a nice smooth sauce!
    9. Let cool for 1 minute and then stir in the bourbon
    10. Put the pan back on the stove and TURN DOWN the heat to medium and simmer any where from 3-15 minutes…how ever thick you like the sauce (it won’t get any darker at this point either just thicker)
    11. Let the caramel sauce cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature
    12. NOTE: as the sauce cools it will thicken anyways
    13. The caramel sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Homemade Applesauce

Homemade Applesauce

Playing at my childhood friend Karen’s house growing up and smelling her mom’s homemade applesauce simmering on the stove with aromas of apple and cinnamon in the fall air are one of those nostalgic memories that will stay with me my whole life. That’s where the inspiration for this show and recipe came from. I contacted my friend Karen about her mom’s recipe and she was happy to share.

Karen’s mom, Pat, used a food mill to pass the apples through smoothing out the consistency and removing the peels . For those of you who don’t have a food mill I am simplifying that process having you peel the apples prior to simmering. Even though the peel does offer a little extra flavor we will take the middle of the road for convenience purposes. For that smooth texture that I like I put the simmered apples in my food processor in small batches. You can skip this step completely by using a potato masher, whisk or even a fork to work out the lumps to your desired texture.

The only addition to Pat’s recipe is that I add in a couple of tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice for a subtle brightness to the sauce balancing out the sweetness. Actually, I add the fresh lemon juice while I peel, core and slice the apples into eighths so they don’t turn brown. I want those cinnamon-apple aromas to permeate the house as soon as possible so I add her spices in the beginning of the simmering. Some recipes even add in orange or lemon peel when simmering the apples but I think that’s a matter of preference and you can get as creative as you want.

Making homemade applesauce is really easy to make filling your kitchen with so many wonderful seasonal aromas you may wonder why you don’t do it more often. You may find your self starting a crackling fire to get the full effect while your apples are simmering on the stove. Be careful if a window is open you may just find a neighbor or two dropping in to “borrow” a cup of sugar.

Fall is the perfect time to make this homemade applesauce with apples in abundance at the stores and local orchards. A wonderful thing about making applesauce is it stays well for months in your freezer. One of my favorite ways to have applesauce is with grilled pork chops, caramelized onions and a little crumbled Gorgonzola. For a simple, gluten-free dessert that’s out of this world you can top vanilla ice cream with this warm homemade applesauce, whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce and a sprinkle of toasted apple crisp topping made with oats! This just may be my new favorite dessert! I buy our local Ashley’s vanilla ice cream and their caramel sauce when I make this incredible Applesauce-Caramel Sundae. So get into the holiday spirit and create those nostalgic memories for your kids, family and friends filling the house with simmering apples and cinnamon, a similar aroma to hot apple cider, that will stay with them forever. Hope you enjoy the show 🙂
























  • 4 lbs. (10 apples) – an assortment of apples for well rounded flavors
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • dash of cloves (optional)
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

FOR Applesauce-Caramel Sundae:

  • Your favorite “apple crisp topping” recipe made with oats toasted up in the oven on 400º in a bake dish until golden
  • 1 Quart of your favorite local Ice creamery Vanilla and 1/2 pint of their caramel sauce
  • Whipped cream (1 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 tbsp confectioners sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, bourbon or whiskey)
  • Toasted apple crisp topping with oats


  1. Peel, core and slice apples into 8ths and place into large pan
  2. Squeeze lemon juice on them slices as you go to prevent them from turning brown
  3. Mix the brown and white sugar together
  4. Sprinkle 1/2 the sugar on the apples
  5. Add all of the cinnamon, nutmeg, (cloves -optional) salt and the water
  6. Mix with a spoon and put on the stove over med/high bringing to a boil
  7. Turn down and keep simmering for 20-25 minutes until softened
  8. Taste and check sugar content, add the remaining sugar if you want sweeter
  9. If you add the rest of the sugar simmer for a few more minutes til it melts
  10. Remove from stove and let cool 5 minutes
  11. Mash the apples with a potato masher, fork, whisk or add to food processor til you get the texture that you want – If you are using a food processor only fill 1/2 way then puree
  12. Serve with a big grilled pork chop, topped with caramelized onions, and crumbled Gorgonzola or do up dessert with the Applesauce-Caramel Sundae…enjoy! 🙂

Grilled-Marinated Steak on Skewers

Grilled-Marinated Steak on Skewers

These grilled marinated steak strips on skewers are bursting with flavor. You can marinate them for 15 minutes and still get an amazing taste or all day for a deeper, richer taste. These little “steaks on a stick”…what my kids call them, get caramelized on the edges from the brown sugar addition in the marinade. They happen to be one of my kids favorite things to have for dinner!

I first saw this recipe on a grilling special with Paula Deen and Bobby Flay. I did add scallions and a bit more brown sugar and garlic to the recipe as always I need to tweak it to my own perfection. This recipe is unbelievably easy and so delicious once you try it you will have it as a go to marinade especially now that summer BBQ’s are here! You won’t even want to dip with these grilled-marinated steak on skewers into a sauce of sorts because you’ll love them just as they are.









































  • 1 1/2 lbs. of Sirloin Tips or ribeye
  • 1/4 cup Tamari Sauce (it’s a darker, slightly more concentrated and thicker then soy) OR 1/2 cup of Kikkoman reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 green onion scallions – 1/4″ slices
  • pkg of wooden skewers
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • OPTIONAL: 1 recipe Green goddess sauce 


  1. Put wooden skewers in a dish of water to soak (so they are less likely to burn on the grill)
  2. Slice Sirloin tips or ribeye into strips length wise so they are about 1 1/2″ wide, 1/4-1/2 thick and 3.0″ long pieces
  3. Cut a 15″ x 16″ piece of parchment OR you can use a large Ziploc baggie
  4. Place 4 steak strips in between the layers at a time
  5. Pound out steak strips to 1/8″ thickness…they will almost dbl in size to .125″(1/8″) x 2.25″ x 5.0″
  6. In a medium/large bowl add tamari sauce, brown sugar, water, garlic, and scallions and steak strips
  7. Cover and marinate from 15 minutes to all day
  8. Take the marinated steak pieces out and dry them off on Bounty paper towels (you don’t want t paper towels to fall about and stick to the steak strips…so use Bounty)
  9. Take the skewers and pat those dry
  10. Begin to thread each piece of meat with the skewer right down the middle
  11. You will get about 20 skewered steak strips
  12. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt on each side
  13. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to lightly coat
  14. Add the skewered steak to a hot grill lining up the skewers so that the wooden ends overlap over another piece of meat…see photo above for line up
  15. Sear for 3 minutes on each side til caramelized on the edges
  16. Mangia!

You can add some yummy veggies to this meal like:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Cold Asparagus Salad

Cold Asparagus Salad

Perfectly Mashed Potatoes and Red Onion

Perfectly Mashed Potatoes and Red Onion

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

These bacon wrapped water chestnuts are sweet and savory. You have that slightly smokey and salty flavor from the bacon, a sweet candy-like carmelization from the brown sugar, a little kick from the dry mustard and a lovely crunch from the water chestnut. All those amazing flavors packaged up in one little morsel!

Nut or vegetable?  Well I will tell you – a water chestnut is actually an equatic vegetable grown in marshes. Didn’t you always want to know that?   This water chestnut recipe came about from a Trader Vic’s recipe called Rumaki . Except this original recipe was done with chicken livers and water chestnuts wrapped in bacon with a wet marinade.  Now don’t get scared away . Even though I do love chicken livers sautéed with lots of chopped garlic and a crusty baguette this recipe is made without the liver or wet marinade for that matter.

It is some what comical too because your guests will think they are bacon wrapped scallops at first glance.  These homemade gourmet little morsels are a must try for the holidays. Your guest’s will love them. In fact, you better grab one before the tray goes out because it’s coming back empty!

IMG_4416If you are on an appetizer roll you ought to try my Crab Cakes with Homemade Thousand Island Dressing, or Baked Spinach & Feta Spankopita Triangles with Metaxa Mojito’s are to die for, Homemade Salmon Gravlax are one of my all time favorites and so easy to make with fresh dill sprigs and vodka or eau de vie! My “Steakhouse” Cream Spinach is a huge crowd pleaser. For dessert, a Best Blueberry Pie with My 5 Minute Pie Crust always calls out to me! ENJOY! 🙂









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  • 2 cans whole water chestnuts ( Geisha – approx 18 per can)
  • 1 lb. Boar’s Head bacon (sliced into 3″ strips)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp  Colemans dry mustard – (if you like it less spicy only use 1 tbsp)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375º
  2. Whisk brown sugar and dry mustard together in a medium size bowl
  3. Slice up the bacon into 3″ pieces
  4. Wrap each water chestnut on the bacon strip and roll-up,
  5. Then roll it around in the brown sugar mixture, you will need to press down a little to help the mixture adhere
  6. Place the appetizer’s seem side down on a cookie sheet
  7. You can use a silicone baking mat or Silpat to bake the bacon wrapped water chestnuts on, DO NOT USE FOIL because it will be stuck to the waterchestnut!
  8. Bake for approx. 15 minutes
  9. Do not flip them over
  10. The bottoms will be more caramelized then the tops so flip them over when you plate them to see the carmelization
  11. Be sure to let them cool a pinch before eating because the chestnuts get pretty hot along with the sugar
  12. These are a great party item because you can prep a day ahead, BUT DO NOT DREDGE them into the brown sugar mixture until right before you put them into the oven or they will get watery
  13. Just wrap chestnuts in bacon, place onto a cookie tray and pop them into the frig until you are ready for them