Ooey Gooey Satisfying Butter Cake

I spent the morning working outside, doing all the weeding, trimming, sweeping, raking and mowing that I’d neglected to do because of Mardi Gras. I came in cold and craving sweet but also tired and needing something easy. Here is another use for a box of yellow cake mix that isn’t a traditional cake but rather bars. My pan was slightly larger than a 9×13 and it is better to err on the side of shorter rather than longer. I ended up with a fairly thin cake this time.

cakey cake

1 (18 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 eggs
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
16 ounces powdered sugar
Mix cake mix, melted butter and one egg. Pat into 13×9 inch pan.

In a separate bowl beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the two remaining eggs to cream cheese and mix well. Add powdered sugar and beat until lumps are gone. Pour this mixture over cake in pan.

Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until topping is golden. Allow to cool somewhat to set topping (slides off when warm).



Lemon Buttermilk Pie

We still had lots of buttermilk, so I went for light and refreshing with this lemon buttermilk pie. Delicious on its own and after buttermilk brined and fried chicken!

lemon pie

1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell or 9 tartlet shells
2 cups fresh Louisiana strawberries, sliced and sprinkled with 1/4 sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour and salt. Blend well. Add eggs and egg yolks to cream into sugar mixture. Once blended, add buttermilk, vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Mix well to incorporate and dissolve sugar.

Pour into pie shell and place on a cookie sheet. Bake 50 minutes or until pie is lightly browned. Remove and cool a minimum of 30 minutes prior to serving. Top each slice with a generous portion of sugared strawberries.

with strawberries


Peach Buttermilk Ice Cream

Still with a lot of buttermilk to use (even after making buttermilk pancakes for breakfast), I went into my files for this ice cream recipe. I also had to dig deep in my freezer for some Mississippi peaches that had been sliced and frozen during their peak of ripeness over the summer. This recipe makes two batches in my ice cream maker, perfect for an easy, slightly tangy, peachy dessert during Mardi Gras or any other time of year.


2 pounds peaches (about 6 ripe medium sized peaches), peeled and sliced
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or, my preference, 1 tablespoon DeKuyper® Peachtree Schnapps)
2 cups buttermilk

Place the peeled and sliced peaches in a blender or a food processor. Add the sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, vanilla (or schnapps) and purée. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the buttermilk.

Transfer to the container of an ice machine and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. Pack the ice cream into an airtight container, cover and freeze for at least 2 hours to allow the ice cream to ripen and harden before serving.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta

For Valentine’s Day, because my sweetie prefers her desserts to not be overly sweet And the fact that we had two quarts of buttermilk, I decided to make a panna cotta.

panna cotta olive

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup blueberries, strawberries, grapes or other tart fruit
good quality sea salt
good quality olive oil

Place buttermilk in a bowl and sprinkle gelatin over it. Let it sit 5 minutes, allowing it to bloom.

While the gelatin is blooming, heat the cream and sugar in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes just to a simmer.

Remove the cream from the heat then stir in the buttermilk and gelatin mixture until it is incorporated completely.

Divide the mixture evenly into six-ounce ramekins.

Chill until the mixture is completely set, at least 3 hours.

To serve: Unmold by running a small knife around the edge of the ramekin and inverting onto a plate. Tap the bottom of the ramikin. If it does not immediately release, dip the ramekin in hot water, and invert onto plate. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with a little sea salt. Garnish with whole and halved fruit.

Sweet Potato Gratin

For Valentine’s Day we enjoyed a pork tenderloin marinated in rosemary and lemon juice. For a side dish, I went with a Sweet Potato Gratin – decadent butter and cream for me and a healthy sweet potato for her. Yes, it does look like it is swimming in butter but, out of the liquid, it is perfect.


1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup chicken broth or stock

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine potatoes, butter salt and pepper in large bowl and toss gently to coat potatoes. Coat a casserole dish with butter and layer potato mixture, pressing down on potatoes before adding next layer.

Stir together chicken broth and cream and pour over potatoes. The gratin can be made ahead up to this point, covered and refrigerated.

Bake uncovered until tender for 40-45 minutes and top is lightly crisp. Midway through baking, tip the dish and baste with accumulated liquid.

Bella Books Authors Share Real Life Romance

BellaButtonFB-150-blog-1Bella Books authors spend a lot of time thinking about love of every kind — more often than not, romantic love. Romance storytellers, after all, create women who win and keep their lady love’s heart. But is real life anything like a book?

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, Bella Books and Spinsters Ink authors are sharing real life romance in our lives.

Here is a link to my contribution:

Balloons, Roses and Cocoa Rub

Check out the blog for all the others! There are a number of great recipes with the posts!

Go to my author page to learn more about my published books and look forward to my next one, Bitter Heart, coming out later this year!

The Country Club

Krewe of ChewbacchusWe went down to the Bywater yesterday evening ahead of the parade for the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus. We went for drinks and dinner at The Country Club. This formally clothing optional hangout has gone a little upscale but still offers a pool, hot tub, bar and restaurant with a casual, warm and welcoming environment that is accepting of all.

We started in the bar as they weren’t ready to serve dinner when we arrived. The bartender was friendly and had us laughing as he served large drinks. My margarita was delicious, Wayne was able to try a seasonal beer and my sister, Kathy, had a generous glass of cabernet.

We had much of the restaurant to ourselves but that was okay as we were able to chat comfortably.

I had the buttermilk fried chicken. While it had a terrific flavor, most of the coating came off. I’m not sure if they didn’t flour first or if their oil wasn’t hot enough but it was a shame to lose all the outside flavoring. The chicken was tender and juicy, though, and the mashed potatoes were very good.

buttermilk fried chicken

My sister had the shrimp and bacon pasta carbonara. It had very large shrimp and a delicious sauce. Much better than the picture shows. She even sopped up the remainder of the sauce with some of the french fries from her husband’s plate, it was that good.

shrimp bacon pasta

Her husband had the burger and it looked darn tasty with lots of cheese, mushrooms, red onion with house made fries. He really enjoyed it.


Service was unobtrusive but quick with the refills of tea and water. The menu is eclectic with things for nearly every taste and it really is a unique place to hang out in New Orleans.

Coca-Cola Brined Baked Not Fried Chicken

IMG_20150201_180726I took a few liberties with Chef John Currence’s recipe from his book “Pigs, Pickles & Whiskey” for Coca Cola Brined Fried Chicken. First, I put in some rosemary instead of the thyme. Then, because yesterday was Superbowl Sunday and I wanted to watch the game, not stand over hot grease, I changed up his batter and baked the chicken instead.

This is one of the few times that I will actually use Panko bread crumbs for the added crunch. I brined the chicken in the morning and then coated it and put the pan in the refrigerator until game time. I pulled it out while preheating the oven and started it cooking before the first play and I had chicken for dinner at halftime that I ate off my Coca-Cola TV tray.

To kick this dish up a notch without adding many more calories, add some grated Parmesan or pecorino Romano into the bread crumbs. About 2 tablespoons should give you a rich cheesy flavor in your crust.

Coca-Cola Brine

1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
3 cups Coca-cola (two 12 oz cans), room temperature
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Louisiana hot sauce (more to taste)
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, roughly chopped

Mix all ingredients very well and brine chicken for 2 hours.

Baked Not Fried Chicken

2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place a cooling rack over pan.

Season the flour with the next 6 ingredients. Place in a pie plate or shallow dish. In another dish, scramble the eggs with the olive oil. Place the breadcrumbs in another pie plate.

Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Dredge the chicken through the flour, then the egg mixture and finally in the breadcrumbs, patting to make sure the coating has adhered. Set on rack in pan. For additional crisping, lightly spray the chicken with cooking spray.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until chicken is golden brown and cooked all the way through (165 degrees F on a meat thermometer). Serve immediately.

Chocolate Pistachio Saltine Toffee

covered in chocolate and pistachiosI’ve got a powerful chocolate and salt craving and decided to go back to my old Girl Scout recipe and kick it up a notch. Here is another version I do that uses corn syrup and doesn’t require moving a pan filled with melted butter and sugar into the oven. That recipe uses pecans but feel free to substitute slivered almonds or any other nut.


Chocolate Pistachio Saltine Toffee

About 40 saltine crackers (a sleeve and a half or whatever amount it takes to cover your baking sheet)
4 sticks (2 cups) butter
2 cups light brown sugar
12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
6 ounces roasted pistachios, chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Line 1 large baking sheet with aluminum foil (don’t skip this step, unless you want to try and get the finished product out of the pan with a chisel and a bucket of elbow grease). Arrange the saltines salt-side down in a single layer. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together and boil until it turns a caramel color, a few minutes. Remove from the heat and pour over the crackers, covering them evenly. It helps to put the pan on a pulled out oven rack so all you have to do is slide it in and not transport the delicious napalm across the kitchen.

pan in oven

Bake for 5 minutes, or until just bubbly. Remove from the oven and distribute the chocolate chips over the crackers. When the chips melt a bit, spread them over the crackers with a knife. Sprinkle the pistachios over the top.

Transfer the pan to the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until completely cold. They will form one big sheet. Break up into pieces. Store in an airtight container.