Melinda Colton’s Sugar Cookies

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Cream Together:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1-8 ounce package cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Chill dough for one hour. Roll out and cut with cookie cutters. Bake 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees.

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Toffee Dip for Apples

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This is a wonderful fall treat…I love it with apples!


1-8 oz package cream cheese
1/2 package Heath Bits (or you can chop up English Toffee bars instead)
1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar (depends on how sweet you like it)

I put everything in the bowl of my stand mixer and use the paddle attachment to combine everything. (I’m lazy like that) A great dip for sliced apples, pretzel rods or graham cracker sticks.

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Greek Panzanella

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From “Aunt” Laura–

Olive oil
1 small French bread cut into 1-inch cubes (I used La  Brea Rosemary
Bread from Costco)
Kosher salt
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and cubed
1 red bell pepper, large diced
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved  (i just threw in a handful or two)
1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds(i used like 1/4 of an onion)
1/2 pound feta cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes (i didn’t use that much,
i just got the already crumbled in a little container)
1/2 cup calamata olives, pitted

For the vinaigrette:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes
and sprinkle with salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing
frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add more olive
oil as needed.
Place the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion
in a large bowl.
For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard,
vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl. While still
whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. (i just put mine in
the blender)  Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta,
olives and bread cubes and mix together lightly. Set aside for 30
minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.

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Balsamic Barbecue Sauce

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Another yummy recipe from “Aunt” Laura…

1/2 C. balsamic vinegar
3/4 C. ketchup
1/3 C. brown sugar
1 clove garlic, either pressed or minced
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. dijon mustard
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Combine and simmer on stove 15-20 minutes until somewhat thick. Baste
and serve with chicken or steak. I’ve also used it on pork chops and
it’s great!

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Tri-color Orzo Salad

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This salad recipe is from “Aunt” Laura.

1 pound orzo pasta
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus another 1/4 cup
2 cups fresh arugula, about 3 ounces (I usually use more than that, maybe 3 or 4 cups, and I use baby spinach or even a spring mix, whatever I have or is easy to find)
3/4 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese (I use feta cheese)
1/2 cup dried cherries (I just use craisins and I always put in more than a half cup more like a whole cup)
12 fresh basil leaves, cut up small
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (I used walnuts, but I’ve used pine nuts
before too, and I usually just dump them in until I think there is
enough, so probably more than 1/4 c.)
4Tbs Fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Bring a large pot of salted (must be generously salted) water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes. Drain water. Add 2 tbs of olive oil and mix. Then spread out on a large cookie sheet to cool.

In small bowl whisk remaining olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper together.

I usually make this salad in the morning, and add the orzo, half of the lemon dressing mix, the craisins, basil, mix it all. Then I chop up the nuts, feta and spinach and put them on the top but don’t stir them in. Before serving I stir in the rest of the ingredients and add the rest of the dressing. I do it like this because the craisins kind of soak up some of the dressing and get plump and the basil kind of flavors everything but I don’t want the spinach and walnuts getting soggy.

THEN, I usually add a couple of spoonfuls of my Balsamic BBQ sauce, but if you don’t add it the salad is still good.

*** We usually have this along with BBQ Chicken or Steak that I use a Balsamic BBQ sauce on, and most of the time I put some of the sauce from the meat on the salad. The salad I brought to your house had probably 3 Tbs of this sauce on it.  I think the salad tastes better with it, but it’s really good without it too.

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Apple Pumpkin Muffins

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Fall is in the air…somedays! These sound yummy…


Muffin batter-
2 1/2 cup flour
2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice or a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cup finely chopped apples

Streusel Topping-
2 /3 cup flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Whisk the flour, sugar, soda, salt and spices together and set aside. Then combine the eggs, pumpkin and oil together. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Gently fold in the chopped apples. Using 1/4 measuring cup or scoop fill muffin cups. Mix all the streusel ingredients together until well combined and crumbly. Sprinkle the streusel on top of each muffin and light press it down so it will stick. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes and test with a toothpick.

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Red, White and Blue Potato Salad

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This past weekend we were in Washington for Megan’s wedding. After the ceremony we had a fabulous dinner! Best wedding food ever! Megan and Tyler hired a guy who has a BBQ food truck. Only it’s not really a truck, it’s a really awesome trailer. It was real Texas barbecue and the sides were the best ever. We all really liked the Red, White and Blue potato salad. I spent a little time on the internet searching for a recipe and this one sounds like it might come close.


  • 2 lbs very small red potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 package of bacon cooked to a crisp and roughly chopped
  • 5 ounces of blue cheese
  • ½ cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder


  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over medium heat.
  2. Chop the red potatoes into 1 inch cubes, place into the boiling water, add in the sea salt. Boil for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and pour the potatoes into a strainer to drain out all the water.  Allow to potatoes to cool to room temperature. Once cooled add the bacon, cheese, green onion and celery.
  4. In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, salt, and onion powder. Stir to combine. Add to the potatoes and stir until completely coated.
  5. Serve immediately and enjoy!
  6. Can be stored in refrigerator in a sealed container, you may need to add more mayonnaise mixture to the salad as it will soak into the potatoes over time.
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Ten Minute Macaroni and Cheese

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Super easy and much better than the kind from the blue box!

3 T of butter
3 T of flour
1 can of evaporated milk
1 box of macaroni
1 cup of milk
2 cups of grated cheddar cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook the macaroni according to package directions. While the macaroni is cooking, melt butter into a saucepan and once melted, add flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the can of evaporated milk and the other cup of milk. Stir occasionally until it coats the back of a spoon (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and let sit, add salt and pepper. After a minute, add grated cheddar cheese and stir until creamy. Add to drained pasta and serve.

Posted in Comfort Food, Lunch, Main Dishes, Pasta | Leave a comment

Chocolate Banana Zucchini Muffins

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I found this muffin recipe at Chef-in-Training. YUM!!!

  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • ⅓ cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1½ cups zucchini, grated and well drained
  • 1¾ cups flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine bananas, oil, egg, and zucchini.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder. Add to banana/zucchini mixture. Stir in mini chocolate chips.
  4. I used my 1/4 cup scoop to put batter into cupcake paper lined muffin tins.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. I baked for 18 minutes. My current oven runs a little hot. Just test with a toothpick to make sure they are done.


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Apple Streusel Muffins with Glaze

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IMG_5785Sally’s Baking Addiction has some great recipes.

I prepared many of the ingredients the night before I needed these. I made the crumb topping and stored it in a plastic container on the counter. I really like fresh muffins and didn’t want to bake them the night before, but needed them to come together quickly in the morning. I measured out the two sugars and left them in my Kitchen Aid overnight. I measured all the dry ingredients and combined them with a whisk. I measured out the sour cream that I used in place of the yogurt and stored in the refrigerator.



  • 1/3 cup (67g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon (15g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup (84g) all-purpose flour


  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature preferred
  • 1/2 cup (120g) yogurt1
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (220g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) milk (any kind)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups peeled, chopped apple (2 small apples)


  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream (or milk for a less creamy texture)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

The next morning I preheated the oven to 425 degrees.

First, I chopped the apples and set them aside.

Then I put the butter in my mixer with the sugars and combined them using the paddle attachment. I didn’t take time to soften the butter and usually don’t, my Kitchen Aid is the pro model and it powerfully softens butter in no time. I do think that I could leave the butter out to soften overnight except in the warmest weather.

Next I added the eggs, vanilla and yogurt/sour cream and mixed until everything was well combined. With the mixer running on the lowest speed I added the flour mixture a cupful at a time alternating with the milk. I added the flour quite quickly. I don’t want to run the mixer on too high of a speed or for too long. The gluten becomes activated and the texture of the muffins is not as good if baked goods are beaten for too long and at a high speed.

Finally, I stirred in the chopped apples by hand.

Line a muffin pan with muffin papers. Using my 1/4 cup scoop I filled each one. Then I put about 1 tablespoon of the crumb mixture on each muffin and pushed it down lightly. I had a lot of crumb mixture leftover. It’s my favorite part so next time I think I will either get the taller bakery type papers or put a little less batter in each cup so I can use 2 tablespoons of the crumb mixture per muffin.

****Bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees and then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 12-15 minutes. It all depends on your oven. I took mine out at 12 minutes. Test them with a toothpick.

I completely forgot to drizzle them with the glaze and they were still very yummy.

Crumb topping: In a medium bowl, combine both sugars, the cinnamon, and melted butter. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the flour. The crumb topping will be thick and crumbly. Set aside.

Make the glaze: whisk all of the ingredients together and drizzle over warm muffins.

Make ahead tip from Sally’s Baking Addiction: Muffins stay soft, fresh, and moist at room temperature for up to 5 days. Muffins freeze well for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat up (if desired) before enjoying.



Posted in Autumn, Muffins, Talking Food | Leave a comment