Easiest Fruit Tart Ever

I have to tell you something. Some of my best recipes came about when I was 19 years old and college-student poor! My recipe for the Easiest Fruit Tart Ever is my favorite quick, gourmet dessert or freshly made breakfast treat! I have made it thousands of times and it never ceases to amaze me how awesome and easy it is! Try your favorite fruits. I have made this tart with good quality canned fruit pie filling, fresh fruit, and puddings. The reaction from guests is always the same – it’s DELISH! Need I say more?

Do you have a nut allergy? Use a good quality apple pie filling and dot with cinnamon brown sugar cream cheese instead of almond paste! Try layering puff pastry with pre-cooked sausage, scrambled eggs, and shredded cheese. Top with gravy! DELISH!

Categories: Breakfast, Desserts - Brulees & Pies, Snacks, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Skinny Shepherd’s Pie

I am nearly 5’11″ tall so you might not think I could have a problem managing weight, but I do, and always have. At my highest weight I was 261 pounds! My recipe for Skinny Shepherd’s Pie is proof that you can take your old, warm, and hearty family recipes and rework them to be healthy and scrumptious! No loss of taste here! You won’t even miss the high carb, high fat ingredients of your childhood in my delicious, bone-warming recipe for Skinny Shepherd’s Pie. It’s easy, all about layering flavors, uses some basic replacements, and it is honestly, quite DELISH!

So, how did I lose it? How did I go from 261 to 155 in 2 years? For me, low carb worked the best. But at the end of the day, a hard lesson for me to learn was that I HAD to change the way I ate permanently. Not for a month. Not for a year. If I didn’t change the way I ate, I gained it back, and then some. Every time. My recipe for healthier Shepherd’s Pie is a direct result of paying attention to how I ate and how to rework recipes so I wouldn’t have give up my favorite foods! The quickest way someone could get me off track was to tell me I couldn’t have a certain food. That never worked for me then, and still doesn’t. I’m not saying that if you eat low carb you will lose weight. What I’m saying is that if you know the basics and rework some of your favorite recipes, you too, can be well on your way to being healthier! If you lose weight along the way, that’s a bonus, and likely! So use my recipe for Skinny Shepherd’s Pie and rework it to suit your taste!

Here are some tips and mind tricks that helped me! I hope you can use a couple of them to help do what you want to do. Whether it’s to lose weight or to just be healthier, start with the recipe below and replace ingredients you don’t like, keeping in mind these tips:

  1. Eat the rainbow – and white isn’t in one! Lower or replace anything white in your diet. Is your plated food colorful? Find replacements for as many whites as you can. It’s not difficult. Replace potatoes with cauliflower or jicama. Replace white rice with quinoa or finely-chopped cauliflower. Replace sugar with agave. You don’t have to replace it all, but even when I cut out half, I felt a difference. After all, your body is used to eating 50% more! Every little bit helps! No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t give up powdered creamer in my coffee. So I didn’t. I couldn’t get used to salt substitutes. So I didn’t. But I made every effort possible to eliminate it or reduce it in my other foods.
  2. When replacing meat, keep texture in mind – I found that when I craved meat, it was really the texture and taste I craved, not the actual meat itself. Use chopped mushrooms or diced veggies such as zucchini or squash in place of meat. Even if you use ground turkey, you’ll be doing better if you use ground white meat.
  3. Use spices! It’s hard to believe that you can add cumin to a dish of grilled or roasted veggies and it will taste smoky and remind you of meat! Ground turkey is a perfect example of needing some spice to offset the blandness. Use cumin and red pepper flake with your salt and pepper for ground turkey.
  4. Replace butter with coconut oil – Surprisingly, coconut oil is not sweet and doesn’t taste like coconut. Cut your butter in half in recipes and replace with coconut oil.
  5. Replace sugar with agave – I love cinnamon toast! I refused to give up the taste so I take low carb bread or tortillas and smear a little agave, then sprinkle with cinnamon and bake.
  6. When a recipe calls for milk, replace with whipping cream (no carbs) or half/half and water – 50/50
  7. Replace pasta with Julienne zucchini or yellow squash

Those are just a couple of things I learned and still practice today. Sweets are my thing. Ice cream is a weakness of mine. When I did low carb and didn’t worry about fat, one of my favorite treats was blender ice cream made with heavy whipping cream, frozen strawberries (you can also use frozen raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries, but I don’t like the seeds), and a tad of agave if needed. That’s it! Add a little water if needed to loosen in the blender.

Shepherd’s Pie is one of my favorite childhood recipes. I refused to give it up so I developed a recipe that included all the textures of the traditional recipe, but cut the fat, carbs, and calories. This is one of my favorite healthier remakes. You can easily leave out the meat in this recipe and keep all else the same, and it will not change the results. So, go ahead. Remake my recipe tonight for Skinny Shepherd’s Pie. Not worried about fat, carbs, or calories? Do it your way! It will be delicious, but those of us who need to pay attention to our diets, I promise, you won’t miss a single thing!

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My Easy Healthy Muffin

Even though I have been making a version of my easy muffin recipe for what seems like 40 years, this particular recipe is in honor of my longtime friend, Angie. She was diagnosed with diabetes some time ago, and had been searching online for a muffin recipe that was healthy for diabetics and versatile, yet tasty. When she came to me wanting a diabetic-friendly muffin recipe that could be made sweet or savory, I started with my basic easy muffin! Whether you are looking for sweet or savory, healthy or not, you cannot go wrong with my recipe for My Easy Healthy Muffin! I have made it 50 ways to Sunday, and every single time, it’s DELISH!

Angie and I have been friends for many years! Sure, we lost touch a couple of times over the years as life has interfered. Kids. Boyfriends. Husbands. Jobs. But we have always found our way back to each other. I would do anything for Angie and she is one of those rare friends who would do the same for me. We try to get together for “girls night” every couple of weeks and I look forward to those Thursday nights when it’s just the two of us. Most times, we just sit at the table and talk about life, trying to solve the world’s problems one at a time. Where most girl friends discuss life over margaritas (and sometimes we do!), we mostly end the night drinking coffee. Coffee with some type of exotic creamer or, our latest favorite since she bought herself a one-cup maker, chai latte. Chai is my personal favorite.


Angie & Savannah

Angie brings a different perspective to life than I typically do, but one of the things I love about Angie is that she always has my back, yet she isn’t afraid to disagree with me or tell me I’m screwing up. That’s a good friend. I can always count on Angie to tell me the unbiased truth. I admit that sometimes I wear rose-colored glasses, and Angie is my reasoning side. And I am that for her. We all need friends like Angie. Friends that will tell you the truth whether you want to hear it or not. Friends that will sit and listen to a story you’ve already told them 100 times. They’ll listen while you talk through a problem that has a solution to most people immediately, but to you it’s not so cut and dry. I would do anything for Angie. And I would do anything for her daughter, Savannah. Through thick and thin and the ups and downs, Angie has always been there for me. With no judgments. With no soap box. It’s for those reasons that Angie and I find each other over and over again. No matter the time in between, we always pick up where we left off. No matter what life throws our way, we can count on each other to be there when we need them – and sometimes when we don’t know we need them. That’s my friend, Angie. She may not know it. I may not tell her often enough, but she’s my sanity. Every woman needs that!

My Easy Healthy Muffin recipe is an awesome basic muffin recipe that’s a cross between a muffin and a biscuit. It’s so versatile that you can make it healthier (as the recipe below), or you can throw caution into the wind and make it as fattening as you want. No matter what your craving, this muffin is absolutely perfect made into minis. As Angie does, you can make them as minis (controls portion sizes!) on Sunday, pop them in the freezer, and take a couple out to thaw on your way to work. I’ll give you my basic healthier recipe and give you some adjustments, but if you follow my recipe below I promise you won’t miss a thing! Any way you make them, they are beyond DELISH!


Categories: Breads, Breakfast, Side Dishes, Snacks, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jacked Up Cauliflower

If you like spicy foods, but not hot, you will love my recipe for Kentucky-grown Jacked Up Cauliflower! You’ll find yourself sneaking into the fridge in the middle of the night for a spoonful – it’s that addicting! It’s easy, versatile, low carb (if you care about that!), Kentucky Proud®, and just plain old DELISH!

I have made a similar recipe with different variations over the course of my life. But it wasn’t until I started working on next year’s Kentucky Farm Fest with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Kentucky Proud® program, that I stumbled upon it again – but a simpler version. Greg and I eat a lot of steamed cauliflower and broccoli, but seeing a Plate it Up!® recipe for Cauliflower Casserole from Kentucky Proud® reminded me that I have gotten used to the simple, hum drum makings of these two ingredients, quickly thrown into the microwave. I needed to create a “jacked up” version for sure! This is just another delicious reason to shop your local farmer’s markets for the freshest local ingredients available!

According to the Kentucky Proud® program, the average meal travels 1,500 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying Kentucky Proud® products decreases this distance and ensures that you’re eating fresh and nutritious foods while supporting Kentucky’s farm families. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has done a fantastic job marketing its farmer’s markets and promoting its farmers! Oldham County, KY benefits greatly from the promotions associated with this program!


Aurora Acres Gypsy Vanner Horse Farm – Crestwood, KY

We became the “Farm Tour Capital of Kentucky” in 2012 when we started promoting 17 family farms who agreed to be open to the public for tours. It was funny, when I visited the farms individually to meet and learn from them, they were amazed at the thought of someone being interested in what they considered to be daily chores of owning a farm. Our farms are quite impressive, I must say! We raise bison, alpaca, grass-fed beef, fruits and veggies you’ve never heard of, sheep, we teach homesteading and, of course, we raise HORSES! We not only raise and train thoroughbred race horses, we raise saddlebreds, and gypsy vanners to name a few. Have you ever heard of a gypsy vanner horse? They are found on the cover of romance novels and run wild in Spain. We happen to have one of the best gypsy vanner breeders in the United States! We also have award-winning farms that have been recognized for their conservation practices.

We knew then that we wanted to use our farm tour platform to educate Kentuckians about their food, where it comes from, and to give them an opportunity to meet the farmers in-person – the ones who put the food on their dinner tables. We are very proud to be working with the Department of Agriculture through Kentucky Farm Fest, and we are proud to be working with our Kentucky farmers and artisans to make this the best educational family festival in Kentucky! Mark your calendar to visit the festival for the weekend of July 11 & 12, 2015!

Plate it Up!® is a program that promotes using Kentucky Proud® ingredients. Their goal is to put a new spin on old favorites by developing recipes using those ingredients that are grown and processed in Kentucky. I saw 2 of their recipes recently for Bourbon Braised Beef Stew and Butternut Squash Bread. Talk about interesting and creative! With the popularity of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, it’s no wonder we have so many creative bourbon recipes in Kentucky.

Speaking of bourbon, in Oldham County, we are fortunate to have Kentucky Artisan Distillery, home of Jefferson’s Reserve and Whiskey Row Bourbons, so it looks like I need to get started on that Kentucky Proud® Bourbon Beef Stew recipe! What makes Kentucky Artisan so unique from other Kentucky distillery tours is that it also produces and bottles spiced rums, vodkas, and other spirits including my personal favorite, lemoncello cream. My goal is to come up with an ice cream recipe using the lemoncello, so be on the lookout for that one!

So I hope you enjoy this Oldham County, Kentucky recipe from the “Farm Tour Capital of Kentucky!” Change the cheese to something sweeter or sharper, you can leave out the broccoli. You can switch the sour cream for plain yogurt (which I’ve done in a different recipe), or you can switch the bread crumbs to corn flakes or cracker crumbs. But buy these ingredients from your local farmer’s market if possible. Fresh and local really does make a huge difference and it supports your farmers! Any way you make it using my basic recipe will be addicting and DELISH!

Categories: Attractions, Communities, Historical Places to Visit, Side Dishes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cantaloupe Ginger Frozen Yogurt

If you love fresh cantaloupe, you will absolutely love my super easy recipe for Cantaloupe Ginger Frozen Yogurt! With only six ingredients, you can throw it together in a blender, put it in your ice cream freezer, and enjoy a delicious, healthy dessert by the time dinner is finished! This recipe was inspired by a “quick” trip to the grocery to find something easy for dinner that we didn’t have to cook.

You know how it is. Even though you like to cook, and even though you consider yourself a foodie, there are just some days, I dare say it, that prepared food sounds much better than trying to figure out what the heck to make for dinner. Do I feel like making chili since the weather is getting cool? No. Do I feel like pork chops (my personal favorite)? No, Greg made a fabulous pork roast last night with roasted veggies. After spending 3 1/2 hours in a planning meeting today for Kentucky Farm Fest, coming to Crestwood, KY July 11 & 12, 2015, I was brain-dead. When Greg asked me what I was in the mood for dinner, nothing sounded good!

While we were on the property where Kentucky Farm Fest will be held, the meeting was just about over when one of the ladies I’m working with from the State  (Amelia) asked me for directions to one of our fabulous restaurants in La Grange, Rails. Amelia and I had eaten there a couple of times when she visited Oldham County, and she really likes their farm-to-table menu. I gave directions to the guy she was with who had driven to the meeting, and as soon as I mentioned they needed to make a left at Dairy Queen up the street, I lost him! After bantering back and forth about the importance of staying away from fast food when you’re traveling so you can try mom and pop restaurants, I sent them on their way to Rails in La Grange.

I stayed behind after the meeting to talk with the man who managed the grounds of the property. After talking with him for over an hour, I looked at the clock on my phone and realized it was 2:30! I was starving to death and had four voice mails to answer from calls that had come in during the meeting. Why did nothing sound good for dinner when Greg asked me what I wanted? Well, it might have had something to do with the fact that I stopped on way back to the office from that meeting and bought two DQ Ultimates after the conversation made me crave one! Since Greg and I like them, I thought it would be early enough in the day that we would be hungry by our normal 7:30 dinner time. Neither of us were.

We went to the grocery to try to find something healthy and light that would sound good for dinner in the next couple of hours. We opted for a nice, huge salad from the salad bar, Chinese dumplings, and sushi without rice. On our way to the checkout lane, I noticed that Kroger had cantaloupes 10 for $10! When I picked them up, all were over-ripe. After thinking for a minute about what I could do with them (after all, you can’t pass up a $1 melon!), I thought about ice cream! I had made a cantaloupe sorbet before with over-ripe melons and blueberries and it was delish! Well, here’s a tip. DON’T put whole blueberries in sorbet! Yes, it was pretty with all the blue dots of color in the bright orange sorbet. But as soon as you bite into one, you’re likely to be toothless!

I came home from the grocery and went to work trying to figure out a way to make cantaloupe ice cream rather than sorbet. I wanted something healthy, refreshing, low sugar, and something unique! After an hour, this is the recipe I came up with. It’s a little different. It’s gorgeous. It’s super easy. And it’s simply DELISH!


Categories: Historical Places to Visit, Ice Cream & Sorbet, Recipes, Restaurants, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Pie

Living in the Farm Tour Capital of Kentucky, Oldham County, there really is no way I can visit a market and not take a gander at all the gorgeous, colorful, yet ugly, heirloom tomatoes! This is my Roasted Heirloom Tomato Pie recipe based on those sugar babiesThe story comes from a long list of Amish and children’s home memories, has a chef from North Carolina thrown in for good measure, and ends with my Labor Day weekend recipe that’s not only easy, it’s elegant, and quite simply DELISH! It continues to amaze me that heirloom tomatoes are grown from seeds that have been passed through the generations – for at least 100 years! Can you imagine the foodie memories attached to those tomatoes!

It was Saturday morning of Labor Day weekend and, unexpectedly, Greg woke up sick. It had been over a month since he and I had gotten to go fishing, but this weekend was supposed to be the time! We had planned it all summer. We love fishing and being outside, being on the water, and just spending time together in the serenity of woods that surround the lakes we fish in. Fishing is our way of relaxing, of clearing our mind, and coming down from the hectic ways of the week.

We had planned on heading to Rough River for Labor Day weekend until the threat of severe thunderstorms rolled in mid-week and threatened to keep us inside the whole weekend if we went. But it’s a long drive to Rough River just for a day. The trip requires at least a 2-night stay, our tent “condo” – as my niece Ashleigh calls it, packing a cooler to the brim, actual grocery shopping, and the trunk stuffed to the gills with blankets and tackle. After watching the weather all week, we decided that if the weather at Rough River was not going to cooperate with us staying in our “tent condo” without the threat of carrying us off like Dorothy and Toto, we would just stay home and go fishing at Lake Jericho in Henry County for the  day. Either way, we would fish!

After Greg woke up sick that morning, we thought we’d just try heading to Lake Jericho for a little fresh air to see if that was the cure for what ailed him! The rest of the weekend was still up in the air, but that day, we would fish! We fished for sure, but the fish didn’t start biting until it started to rain on us. Needless to say, we fished too long in the rain and got caught in a cold downpour before we made it back to the car! This was not good, and certainly didn’t help cure what ailed him.

I knew Greg would likely be sick again tomorrow since we had gotten caught in the rain. I also knew that I would have some time on my hands while he recouped. He’s a lot like me in that when he’s sick, he really just wants to lie on the couch and watch TV in hopes of sleeping on and off all day. He doesn’t want much. And with a sore throat, he surely wouldn’t be much for conversation either. Hhhmmm. What to do with myself?

I woke up the next morning with all kinds of energy! This kind of energy usually rears its head on Saturday mornings for me. There’s something about waking up early on a morning that you know you don’t have to work the next day. It’s almost as if your mind has permission to just relax and be creative. It’s OK if you have a long list of things you actually want to do that day. If you want to get some work done, that’s fine. But you’re working because you want to, not because you have to. Sound familiar?

I got up, drank almost a pot of coffee, and tried to figure out what my mood was telling me to do. WORK. That’s what it was telling me to do. I had a small work project to finish up and I needed to do my normal cleaning things. GUILT. That’s my issue. I feel guilty when there’s work to be done, so I can’t enjoy anything else until I take care of what’s pressing on my mind. That’s one reason I pick up around the living room before I leave the house. So I don’t come home, see a mess, then feel like I have to clean it up before I can sit down and relax.

So, I went ahead and finished my work project. Then I finished laundry – including the bed sheets - cleaned the bathrooms, dusted the furniture, and all those usual weekend chores. While I was loading the dishwasher, I heard a lady talking on TV about tomato pie. My ears perked up! I realized it had been a couple of years since I had made my tomato pie! I started the dishwasher, grabbed another cup of coffee, and quickly sat down on the couch in the freshly cleaned living room to watch this tomato lady!

The KET show was called,  “A Chef’s Life.” I had never seen it before, but sooooo right up my alley! Chef Vivian Howard owns a farmer’s market restaurant with her husband in North Carolina called, “Chef and The Farmer.” The lunch menu at her restaurant that day was based on the heirloom tomato. Not only did Chef Vivian strive to make the perfect tomato sandwich (complete with homemade onion bread made at the restaurant), she made a gorgeous tomato pie with a twist – she roasted some of the heirloom tomatoes. What a great idea! I watched as she visited tomato farms and taught her staff the importance of less-is-more. What a great restaurant concept and a great tourism attraction for North Carolina! Her restaurant will certainly be a stop for me the next time I’m in North Carolina! I was now inspired to be creative with my own tried-and-true tomato pie recipe!

As I thought about my recipe, I continued on with my creative day - soldering a stained glass project I had set aside, organizing my tourism office, designing a marketing piece for a friend, then the cooking bug hit me! The last time I made my tomato pie, I baked it for breakfast guests at Bluegrass Country Estate Luxury B&B in LaGrange, KY. Cheryl, the innkeeper, had asked me to stay there with her guests while she was in California with her family. The guests of the inn were from up north, so I decided to make them a true southern breakfast in an elegant way – hopefully a breakfast that would create memories of their first visit to Kentucky.

I remember asking myself, “could I make Tomato Pie elegant enough to serve in a luxury B&B?” That was my question at the time. I gambled with my usual tomato pie recipe, and they absolutely loved it! They did confess afterward that they feared trying something that made no sense to them as northerners – but only after finishing off 2 pies, fresh scones, roasted fruit on yogurt with homemade granola, and my candied peppered bacon! My recipe was an old family recipe passed on to me by my grandma, Nan, and it hadn’t failed me – again!

But after getting bit by the tomato bug and wanting to experiment, I realized that there were no local farmer’s markets open on Sundays. I opted for Earthfare. Earthfare just proves that even larger stores are listening to the public’s cry for true farmer’s market ingredients! I drove to Earthfare, purchased 2 kinds of gorgeous, colorful heirloom tomatoes, 2 kinds of cheeses, an organic pie crust, and drove home excited to get started on my new recipe! I walked in the door at home, showed Greg my fabulous finds while he was half passed out on the couch, then proceeded to the kitchen to whip up some magic of my own, while he slept and recuperated. I thought he might be up to a taste of my new masterpiece when he starts feeling better, but until then, the smell of sautéed onions and roasted tomatoes couldn’t be a bad thing for him!

It’s funny, when I started to prep my ingredients in the kitchen, dicing tomatoes, sautéing onions, and tasting at every turn, I remembered my days as a kid in the children’s home. I remembered planting, growing, and picking tomatoes from our garden. I remember thinking how there was always something I would rather be doing than working in that damn garden. I remember thinking how ugly those tomatoes were and how unappetizing they looked all covered with dirt and dried-on leaves from the heat. I remembered the Amish family I grew up knowing down the street.

Sometimes we kids would go to the Amish family’s home to help clean up when the river behind our property would flood. I remembered the time we were there helping, and the women of their family were making all kinds of racket in another room. When I looked into the kitchen, they were all gathered around a table full of tomatoes of every color. They were slicing, steaming, peeling, cooking, canning, laughing, and having a good time. The older ladies were teaching the younger ones to taste as they went along. I was watching traditions that had been passed on to them by their moms and all the moms before them. More than 100 years of heirloom memories and stories went into every sterilized jar of tomatoes.

I’m sure when they’re using those tomatoes throughout the year, they relive their foodie memories – created together in that kitchen. Even though I never saw them make a pie from those tomatoes, and they never saw me watching them with their tomatoes, I would venture to guess that they had no idea they are part of my childhood foodie memories created that day. Childhood memories that are colorful, “home” grown, juicy, sometimes ugly, but always DELISH!

Categories: Bed & Breakfasts (Kentucky), Breakfast, Communities, Main Dish, Restaurants, Side Dishes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dish Behind the Dish – Orange Fig Creme Brulee

Click here for my Orange Fig Crème Brulee recipe using yogurt instead of heavy cream!

You will absolutely love this Dish Behind the Dish – Orange Fig Crème Brulee made with yogurt instead of heavy cream! It’s easy, healthy, decadent, and sinfully DELISH! The love story isn’t bad either! Read on for the story…

In order for you to “Come Taste the Memories,” for this fabulous dessert, I must go all the way back to May 17, 2013. In all actuality, it started about 3 weeks before that. But for the sake of sparing you a novel (well, it might still be a novel), I’ll tell you the good parts!

First off, I admit it. I fell victim to online dating AGAIN last year. It wasn’t my first time. I had tried my hand at Match.com back in 2005 after my divorce. In my small community where our schools are number one in the state and families move here because of it, you can imagine how difficult it is to find single people in Oldham County. Don’t get me wrong, I had a ton of friends and was well-respected professionally, but all my friends were married, and I would never date someone I crossed paths with at work! Luckily, I was taught early on to never mix the two. Needless to say, while Match.com was a great way to meet other singles outside my community, it proved to NOT be the best way to meet singles for me. It only took me 2 years to figure out dating had drastically changed since I was single at 25! Talk about a crash course in what and what-not to do! Unfortunately, it took a long, 4-year Match relationship for me to get the message. And I got it, loud and clear!

After being single for 3 years after that relationship, and swearing off men for good, a close friend of mine suggested I try online dating again. But this time, EHarmony.com. She and her husband had met on EHarmony and she assured me that I would be more interested in their psychological matching than the more search-a-profile-for-a-cutie-based matching. I was skeptical, but decided to give it a try for only 3 months in hopes of attracting a different type of guy. 3 months was the minimum time I could sign up, so I thought I’d give it a try with a new attitude! I made the conscious decision to be myself when answering the profile questions, no matter how long, how deep, how intellectual, how shallow, or how seemingly off-the-cuff I would be. As you can tell by now, I have never been called shy or reserved, and I was tired of compromising and dumbing myself down! Certainly, introvert has never been uttered in my presence, so I chose to ramble if I wanted to ramble! I decided I wouldn’t worry about talking too much, talking too intelligently, or talking too deep! I was going to be myself and see if there was a guy out there who could appreciate it!

After 2 months on EHarmony, numerous shallow conversations that left me wanting more, and a couple lousy dates, I got a message from a guy named, Greg. Greg lived in Frankfort, well outside my dating distance parameters. But there was something about Greg I couldn’t put my finger on. I’m not sure what it was, but there was something that drew me to answer all his questions and laugh out loud at his comments. But he did all the no-nos, sort of.

He didn’t fill out his profile at all and he only had 2 pictures posted (one of which was too blurry to see anything, the other was a side view of his face)! But there was still something that kept me interested enough in his responses to flag him in my computer so I would know when they came in. For all I knew he could have been 5’0″ to my 5’10″. He could have been missing his teeth, for God’s sake! Don’t laugh, it happened on Match!

Our very in-depth, honest conversations continued by email for the next 3 weeks! We didn’t even talk on the phone. We didn’t do live chat. We just emailed and shared thoughts til the wee hours of the night. As long-winded as we wanted. As raw and heartfelt as we wanted. As elementary and silly as we wanted. At the end of those 3 weeks and hours of conversations, I knew I loved him. I loved him for his thoughts, his intelligence, and above all, his heart. I loved him as a man, a father, a businessman, and a friend.

After 3 weeks, we decided to meet in person on a whim. We met at a no-pressure Rafferty’s for lunch. In my mind, if it were even possible to not end well, I had 2 events to go to that afternoon and evening so I had an out! In his mind, if it didn’t end well for him, we would be awesome friends! Both silently hoping for a physical attraction to back up the intellectual attraction we had already established in a million emailed novels, he drove from Frankfort and I drove from Crestwood to Rafferty’s. I was a nervous wreck! What if he chewed with his mouth open? What if he was short? What if he was a Catfish and was really 16, or a girl? And, good Lord, what if he was toothless?

When I parked the car at Rafferty’s, he was already there. Standing outside in all his glorious 6’4″-ness! Tall, check. Dressed nice, check. Nice shoes, check. A mouthful of teeth, CHECK! We hugged tightly like old friends who hadn’t seen each other forever. Smells good, check. What a pleasant surprise!

We walked into Rafferty’s and held hands through most of lunch, except when we actually had to use our hands to eat! At the end of our lunch, neither of us wanted to leave the other, so together, we went to my first event of the two, Yew Dell Botanical Gardens’ Sculpture Show reception. It was at the reception, walking through the gardens, that we both realized what we had was worth continuing in person, and as often as possible.

Me and Greg at Yew Dell Botanical Gardens

Greg and me at Yew Dell Botanical Gardens

My second event of the day started at 6pm that evening and was a private ticketed dinner. Greg suggested we meet downtown after the dinner and we would continue our first date. I left the gardens and drove to the military recognition dinner at the Galt House in downtown Louisville. Needless to say, it was the longest dinner of my life! All that ran through my mind during the dinner was getting back together with Greg to see what else we had in common!

After the dinner, Greg was downstairs at the front door of the hotel in his car to pick me up for a stroll through Waterfront Park. We drove down to the Ohio River at 9:30pm. I changed out of my dinner dress in the car while he waited outside for me to appear in something different from the dress he had seen me in all day. I stepped out in jeans and a casual long sleeve top. We walked from one end of the park to the other end, and back again, holding hands the entire time like we had known each other forever. We were together until 4am in the park, just walking, talking, and laughing until our faces hurt! He took me back to my car at the Galt House parking garage before he drove back to Frankfort to sleep for a couple of hours before his son’s graduation, and I drove back home to Crestwood, with a Cheshire cat grin from ear to ear. I knew I had found something different this time.

We met again the next day for our second date that lasted another 15 or 16 hours, then the next day for another all-day date. All in all over the last year, we’ve been inseparable, except for a couple of weeks when life interrupted. It has been an awesome year of spending time with someone who is so much like me, it’s scary! There are some differences, but good ones. Just enough to make us respect the other and compliment each other’s differences. Two of the things that we absolutely love to do together are fishing and anything having to do with food! He is a huge foodie, too! He is a master griller and has a way of knowing what ingredients work well together. You really never know what he’ll come up with in the kitchen, but it’s always good!

For our year anniversary, he took me to a new restaurant called, Brasserie Provence in Louisville. Brasserie Provence is a true hidden gem that dishes up authentic French food, and surprisingly, it’s located in a shopping center! You would never know how awesome this restaurant is by looking at it from the road. But when you walk in the front door, you feel like you’ve stepped off a tour bus in France! The décor was so charming and transported you immediately to cobble-stoned streets and vine-covered iron gates in the backyard of a French grandmother! After getting help from the waiter to read the menu written in French, it was here that we tasted 3 new dishes together, Licorice Escargot, Honey Lavender Pork Chops, and Fig Crème Brulee.


Greg and me at a fabulous dinner!

The crème brulee was to die for!! Even though I had ordered my own dessert, Greg had ordered the crème brulee for himself (after I convinced him that he wanted dessert). After he broke through the sugar crust on top, he dug down to the bottom of the dish and discovered a layer of figs lining the bottom of the ramekin. I am a sucker for food with a surprise inside, so when he spooned out a taste for me, topped with a bite of fig, I just about needed a moment alone! It was sinfully delicious and decadent!

So, to commemorate our 1-year anniversary French dinner at Brasserie Provence, and our year together making memories with food, I came up with this recipe for Orange Fig Crème Brulee. As usual though, I use my foodie memories to make my own recipes that I can pass down to my niece, Ashleigh! I absolutely love orange and cinnamon, especially with figs! I decided to come up with a recipe for crème brulee with yogurt since I didn’t have heavy cream in the fridge. This is a healthier version of crème brulee that doesn’t even require cooking cream ahead of time, but still gives you that creaminess and texture we all love!

Orange Fig Crème Brulee Made with Yogurt Rather than Heavy Cream

Orange Fig Crème Brulee Made with Yogurt Rather than Heavy Cream

My hope for you is that you find someone who ignites your passion and creativity! Someone, like Greg, who urges you to make time for those things you’re passionate about, whether it be cooking or a hobby like stained glass. Someone who eats your desserts when he’d rather have something salty. Someone who knows what makes you happy and tries to make sure you are. My hope for you is that you find someone like Greg who is loving, thoughtful, supportive, patient, and quite simply DELISH!

Click here for the recipe!

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Orange Fig Creme Brulee Recipe

For the story behind this fabulous recipe, read “Dish Behind the Dish – Orange Fig Crème Brulee


Poaching Liquid

7 oz. dried black mission figs (I used Sun-maid California Mission Figs)

1 cup water

1 long strip orange peel

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract


2 cups plain yogurt (any kind is fine)

4 egg yolks, beaten

1 tablespoon orange zest

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

3 tablespoons water, optional

4 or 5  4oz – 6oz ramekins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, combine 1 cup water, orange peel, and 1/4 cup sugar. Boil for 10 minutes. While poaching liquid is boiling, cut stems off dried figs (reserve 3 figs for garnish if you want). Cut remaining figs in half. When poaching liquid has boiled for 10 minutes, add figs to liquid. Cook for 10 more minutes or until the water has turned to syrup. When syrupy, remove from heat and remove orange peel. Add honey and vanilla to warm figs and stir. Let stand to cool at room temperature while you make the custard.

In a medium bowl, mix yogurt, cinnamon, and orange zest. Using a wire beater, stir until completely mixed. Add beaten egg yolks to the mixture.

Next, pour figs and their syrup into a blender. Add just enough custard to the blender to help blend the figs. Add the optional 3 tablespoons of water to thin if you need to. Blend mixture until as smooth as possible. Next, put a fine mesh sieve over your remaining custard in the bowl and pour the fig mixture into the sieve. Work the fig mixture through the sieve, pushing it through. The sieve will take out any large pieces of fig and remove the seeds so your custard remains creamy.

After the fig mixture is worked through the sieve, fold the smooth fig mixture into the custard evenly and discard the seeds left in the sieve. Pour mixed custard into a measuring cup for easy pouring! *Tip: use the 3 figs you reserved, sliced thinly, and line the sides of each ramekin in a pattern, pushing them up against the side of the cup or on the bottom to secure them. They will stay in place as you pour in the custard!

Place 4-6 ramekins in a 9×13 glass baking dish that has paper towels on the bottom (the paper towels will keep the ramekins from sliding around). Fill each ramekin 3/4 of the way with custard. Next, fill the baking dish with hot water until it’s 1/2 way up the sides of the ramekins, being careful not to get water in the ramekins. Carefully, place the baking dish with ramekins in the oven and bake 25-30 minutes, or until the custard has set like jiggly Jello. When finished baking, remove from oven, take out the ramekins,  and discard the water from the baking dish. Let custards sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before putting them in the fridge to chill for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, remove from fridge and sprinkle tops with granulated sugar. Using a torch, gently brulee the sugar. If you don’t have a torch, put it in the oven set to “broil”. Be sure to watch closely, it happens fast! Be sure to check that your ramekins are oven-safe before broiling. Enjoy!

Categories: Desserts - Brulees & Pies, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Candy Orange Slice Cake Recipe

Candy Orange Slice Cake

Candy Orange Slice Cake

 Candy Orange Slice Cake

The Dish Behind the Dish – My Foodie Memory

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, softened

4 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup buttermilk

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 lb. dates, chopped

1 lb. orange slice candies, chopped

1-1/3 cups shredded sweetened coconut

2 cups pecans, chopped

1 cup orange juice

2 cups confectioners sugar


Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a Bundt pan. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and granulated sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each one. Dissolve baking soda in the buttermilk and add to the creamed mixture.

Place flour in a large bowl and add dates, orange slices, and nuts and stir to coat each piece (this will keep them from falling to the bottom of your cake when you bake it). Add flour mixture and coconut to the creamed mixture. *The dough will be very stiff so you might have to use a wooden spoon.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 2.5 – 3 hours. As soon as you take it out of the oven, combine orange juice and confectioners sugar then pour over hot cake. Let the cake sit in the pan overnight to soak up orange juice mixture. The next day, turn the cake out and serve. DELISH!!



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Candy Orange Slice Cake – Dish Behind the Dish

Candy Orange Slice Cake

Nan’s Candy Orange Slice Cake

The Dish Behind The Dish – My Story

“My Grandma Nan”

Click here for the Recipe

You know as well as I do that there is always a person in your childhood that has a hand in shaping you. More often than not I find, that person is not related to you by blood, but they love and care for you like they are. There was a special person in my life when I was a little “Peanut” who shaped my love of cooking, not to mention the fact that she got and understood my primary love language…quality time. There was nothing better as a kid than spending that quality time with the woman I called my Grandma. But her real name was Nan. This recipe for Candy Orange Slice Cake came from her upbringing. I’m glad she was my dad’s neighbor when he was growing up next door. I’m glad I knew her and I’m glad she loved me. This childhood recipe, like my Grandma Nan, was warm, sweet, cherished, loved, and simply DELISH!

Before I went to live in a Children’s Home when I was 10, my Grandma Nan was my best friend. I think she was in her 60′s then. There was no place I would have rather been than Nan’s house. I didn’t realize it until much later in my life, but Nan had the cutest white dog, Buffy, that looked like a snow ball. Buffy, I would find out later, was a Bichon Frise. Nan would sit on the couch with me and sing while she played an instrument that looked like a cross between a very small harp and a tiny piano. She laid it on her lap and strummed it while she pressed what looked like piano keys. I didn’t know what it was called, but I remember lying on the couch with Buffy just listening to Nan to play and sing for hours. I’d always fall asleep listening and she’d wake me up from the couch and guide me around the floor furnace to her feather bed. Buffy would follow and jump on the bed to lay on top of my head on the pillow. I loved that dog! I later got my own beloved Bichon, St. Vincent La Fleur – or “Vinnie” for short. :)

On Saturday mornings, Nan would make me breakfast as normal Grandmas would. But my Grandma would make me Pineapple Fritters. That was my favorite breakfast food at the time, like only she could make. She showed me how to make them one morning and let me whip up a batch and she taught me how to make our coffee. As it turns out, the recipe for these pineapple fritters called for 1 cup of self-rising flour, one cup of sugar, 1 cup of milk (a little more if you need it, she’d say), and a small can of drained crushed pineapple. You just mix it all up and drop it by the spoonful into hot oil until they are done in the middle and brown. She’d then drop them into a bag of powdered sugar while they were still warm. As a kid, I called them Pineapple Hush Puppies. I remember many mornings of being covered in powdered sugar when she forgot to save a brown bag for our breakfast!

Another fond memory of Nan was after every Thanksgiving. Starting the Saturday night after Thanksgiving, Nan would make sure to get the huge Sears Wish Book catalog! Remember those? They were about 3 inches thick and full of everything you could possibly imagine! She would sit me down at the kitchen table with my very own, fresh-out-of-the-package legal pad and a brand new pen with an eraser on it. Nan and I would just talk like grown-ups and listen to her old-time radio for hours and hours as I went through that catalog page by page writing down every single thing I wanted from it – mostly home furnishings and decorations for the house “I would have when I was big”.

After I made my massive list – complete with page numbers and prices – she would have me add it all up on a calculator to see the damage. She would always say, “Peanut, you’ve certainly been that good to get everything on your list, but there are a lot of people we know who can’t afford one thing on that list – what should we do about that?” Of course I would always just circle 2 or 3 things on my list for myself and then start a new list of people we knew who were less fortunate and who could use the things that I had picked out from the catalog. Who of our less fortunate friends would appreciate the massive KitchenAid Mixer from my list? LOL!! Even though we couldn’t buy all those things for all those people, it was a great time with my Grandma trying to figure out who would love each thing on my list. It’s such an awesome memory for me at Christmas! I think about my Grandma a lot to this day. She was the most independent woman I have ever met in my life!

When I was about 24, my Grandma had a stroke and was placed in a nursing home. Her memory would come and go and she couldn’t speak, no matter how hard she tried. Every time I would visit her there, she would have a doll that she played with. I would sit with her and pretend to have tea and feed “her baby”. Nan would have me brush her long, gray hair and put a new diaper on her baby before I left. I know her memory was not the best, but she cried every time she saw me and every time I left. I know she recognized me. I couldn’t help but remember the times she had brushed my hair and told me stories about my dad living next door to her. Nan always wanted us to spend more time with dad when we were younger. She would do her best to tell me funny tales about him as a kid. I know now that it was to keep some kind of connection between us. She’d say, “Peanut, sometimes people just have to find their own way.” I remember those words to this day, although I seem to forget them when I need to remember them most.

When I was 30, after having grown up in a Children’s Home, my dad and I decided to do something together for the first time in my life. We built my house in Oldham County TOGETHER. We made a pact to talk and to connect after all those years. We would do as much of the house as we could without hiring contractors, with the goal being to spend as much time together as possible. For 3 months, that’s what we did. We talked about Nan many of those times sitting on the concrete slab that would later become my covered front porch when we were finished.

As dad and I were finishing my house, we were talking about Nan’s Candy Orange Slice Cake and all his memories attached to it. The odd thing was, Nan passed away while we were building my house. I guess her job here was done. Dad and I started to patch our relationship and it continues to this day. I had finally finished the house I had always talked about while sitting at her kitchen table picking out furnishings from the Sears Wish Book catalog. My mom gave me a folder with Nan’s recipes about 5 years ago and I’ve been making this recipe ever since. There’s nothing like the memories of people you love who have passed away. For me, there’s nothing like making my Grandma Nan’s Candy Orange Slice Cake for the holidays for those people I love who are still around me.

I hope you, too, can create a magical family memory with Nan’s recipe. This one comes from the heart and soul of who I am – it comes from my Grandma Nan, and this memory is way beyond DELISH!

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