Mother’s Day & Puffy Apple Pancake

Mom_Susie_Brenda_SailboatMother’s Day is Sunday. It’s the day when little children clamber out of bed early. They burn English muffins, spill orange juice and deliver both to mom with a big hug. If he’s worth his salt, it’s a day for dads to clean up the OJ and then take everyone out for pancakes. Lucky for my mother, it’s been several years since any of her three burned an English muffin or spilled a glass of orange juice. Okay, maybe once or twice and it was white wine not orange juice. Not nearly as messy!

Mom is well into her eighth decade. Her brood has expanded over the years. Along with my sister, brother and me, she has seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Unfortunately, longevity has not been kind to her. Now in a nursing home in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease, Mom is bedbound and barely verbal. She’s worn out but not ready to give up. When I stopped in to see her today, she smiled, chuckled softly once or twice and then hummed a little tune. Today and every day, I am grateful for all that she has given me over the years.

My mother raised a noisy bunch. I’m pretty sure that she did it on purpose. Far from reserved, she never hesitates to show her love of life and us. Get us together and before too long, we’re talking all at once. There could be some shouting but don’t worry; the laughter will be even more enthusiastic and contagious.

Under all the noise and laughter are independent thinkers. Mom loves the dialogue and rigorous discussion that comes from carefully thought out opinions. Fortunately (or not for some of the bosses who have hired us), Mrs. Nye didn’t raise no yes-man or women.

I’m not sure why or how but Mom did not pass on her neatness gene. She is a neat neater and I envy her that (and her long legs). In the scheme of things, there are neat neaters, messy neaters, neat messers and messy messers. I may be the worst but, as far as I can figure, none of her children inherited her neatness. I’ll blame it on Dad, he’s a bit of a messer himself.

Thank goodness for Mom’s generous and kind spirit. Mom has always had an uncanny knack for making people feel good about themselves, even special. I think she must have something of a Spidey sense when it comes to who might need a little extra care and attention.

Mom is not exactly an environmentalist but she doesn’t like waste. She’s green in her own, New England sort of way. We learned early that we didn’t own the electric company and didn’t live in a barn. We closed the door, turned off lights and put on a sweater if we were cold.

My mother is an unabashed optimist for herself and for others. Like the little engine that could, Mom believes in hard work and positive outcomes. Whether it is an exam, a special dinner or what to do with the rest of your life, Mom knows that everything will work out just fine in the end.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom and bon appétit!

Puffy Apple Pancake
Forget standing at the stove flipping flapjacks; make one big pancake for everyone to share on Mother’s Day. Enjoy!
Serves 6-8

1-2 tablespoons butter for the pan
1-2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin wedges
4-5 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
Maple syrup or confectioner’s sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie plate. Arrange the apple slices in the bottom of the pan.

Combine the brown sugar and spices in a small bowl. Sprinkle about half the sugar mixture evenly over the apples. Place the dish in the oven and bake the apples for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the remaining sugar mix in a blender with the eggs, flour, salt and vanilla and process to combine. Warm the milk in the microwave on high for 15-20 seconds. With the motor running, slowly add the milk to the flour and eggs and process for about 1 minute on medium speed.

Puffy_Apple_Pancake_05Slide the rack from the oven to reach the pie plate, without removing the pan, carefully pour the batter over the apples. Carefully slide the rack and pan back into the oven and continue baking until the pancake is puffed and golden, about 20 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Cut the pancake into wedges and serve immediately with a drizzle of maple syrup or a dusting of confectioner’s sugar.

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One Year Ago – Tostadas with Avocado Crema & Black Bean Salsa
Two Years Ago – Cheddar-Sage Biscuits
Three Years Ago – Lemon-Lime Squares
Four Years Ago – Tarte à l’Oignon (Onion Tart)
Five Years Ago – Honeyed Apricots with Creamy Yogurt
Six Years Ago – Black & White Brownies
Seven Years Ago – Rhubarb Muffins

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you celebrate Mother’s Day? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

‘Tis the Season for Taxes & Lavender Scones

taxes_04What can I say? The sky is the color of dirty snow. One last pile of dirty snow still clings to the edge of the driveway. Rain is not just in the forecast; it is imminent. Step outside and it feels like your thermometer is off by at least five degrees. Could it get any worse? Yes, of course, our taxes are due next Monday. (No, that’s not a typo. April 15th is a holiday in Washington so the deadline has been pushed back.)

While paying taxes is no picnic, filing is even worse. I assume that there are people who embrace the process as a fascinating puzzle or mystery to unravel. Not I. Running through all those numbers is pure drudge. I suppose that if I was a clever accountant, I would appreciate the finesse and creativity it takes to master the tax code. But I’m not. I’m just an ordinary person with a mountain of forms and receipts and a not-quite-as-easy-as-advertised software package to navigate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not complaining about the software. For years I did my taxes with a calculator and pencil, this way is much, much better.

I’m not alone. None other than Albert Einstein said, “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.” If the dreaded tax season has you down, here are a few quotes to perk you up. If you like, you can use them to make refrigerator magnets. (You can sell the magnets to help pay your tax bill. Don’t forget to include your sales as miscellaneous income next year.)

Perhaps these lines will cheer you up, perhaps not. Anyway, here goes:

“No taxation without representation” was a popular slogan during the mid-1700s. The quote summarized the American colonists’ primary grievance against Mad King George. The notion of taxes without a voice in government led to the American Revolution. We have since learned that taxation with representation isn’t all that much fun either.

Benjamin Franklin shared the rather distressing truth that, “nothing is certain except death and taxes.” However, he failed to add that if you are hard pressed for time, the IRS will give you an extension. You just need to ask.

Too bad Richard Nixon didn’t heed his own words, “Make sure you pay your taxes; otherwise you can get in a lot of trouble.” The Watergate scandal, political corruption, dirty tricks and, yes, tax evasion landed Nixon in a whole heap of trouble and forced him to resign. Charges were not restricted to the president. Pleading no contest to tax evasion, Veep Spiro Agnew left office in disgrace ten months before Nixon stepped down.

Nixon and Agnew are not alone. Perhaps Leona Helmsley summed it up best, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.” That was before the Queen of Mean was sentenced to four years in prison and fined $7 million for tax fraud. Al Capone must have been similarly deluded when he said, “They can’t collect legal taxes from illegal money.”

I guess Barry Goldwater knew what he was talking about when he said, “The income tax created more criminals than any other single act of government.” Will Rogers didn’t go quite so far. His take on our annual calculations and filing was, “The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has.”

If your W-2 and myriad of other forms are signed and sent, well, good for you. If you are still busy calculating; my sympathies and best wishes.

Either way, with any luck, you’re due a refund. Bon appétit!

Lavender Scones
After your taxes are filed, clear your head of convoluted instructions and calculations with a leisurely cup of tea and a scone. Enjoy!
Makes 16 scones

3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for your work surface
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Lavender Honey Butter, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with non-stick silicon mats or parchment paper.

Put the flour, sugar, lavender, lemon zest, baking powder, salt and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer the buttery flour mixture to a bowl.

Stir the vanilla into the sour cream and then add the wet ingredients to the buttery flour mixture. Stir to combine.

tea_scones_04Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, pat together and knead for 10 or 12 turns. Pat the dough into a 10×5-inch rectangle. Cut the dough in half lengthwise and then cut each half into 4 squares. Cut each square diagonally into 2 triangles.

Arrange the scones on the baking sheets and brush the tops with cream. Bake the scones at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden. A tester inserted into the center of one of the scones should come out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes. Serve warm with honey butter.

Can be made ahead and reheated in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.

Lavender Honey Butter
2 tablespoons lavender* honey
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, softened and cut in 1-inch pieces

Put the honey, lemon zest and juice in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed to combine. Add the butter and beat on low speed to break up the butter and begin mixing. Gradually increase the speed to medium-high and beat until well combined, about 5 minutes.

Spoon the butter onto parchment paper or plastic wrap, roll into a log and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

* Don’t worry if you can’t find lavender honey. Your favorite honey should work almost as well.

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One Year Ago – Calzones with Marinara Sauce
Two Years Ago – Chocolate-Espresso Cheesecake
Three Years Ago – Runners’ Chicken with Pasta
Four Years Ago – Steamed Artichokes with Bagna Cauda or Warm Lemon-Garlic Sauce
Five Years Ago – Death by Chocolate Cake
Six Years Ago – Filet de Perche Meunière
Seven Years Ago – Chicken Provençal
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

Yippee! I finished my taxes yesterday afternoon. How are doing with your calculations? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

Easter Brunch Special

rabbitts_easterWould you rather brunch than lunch or dinner for Easter? After today’s icy rain, it’s not a bad idea to free up the afternoon for some outdoor fun. Hike, bike or work in the garden – however you choose to spend the day – I’ve got a great brunch menu for you to enjoy with family and friends.

What to serve? Traditional or not, hmmm! Well, it is Easter. You and your guests will love my Quiche Lorraine. If you prefer to play it a little fancy, you’ll want to serve my Asparagus & Goat Cheese Tart. (Asparagus is on special at my local supermarket.) If there are children coming, you might want to add a pan of my Baked French Toast.

Don’t forget to add some fresh fruit. My supermarket is also having a sale on strawberries. Pick up a quart and enjoy my Strawberries with Yogurt Cream. Or go crazy and enjoy your berries with my Creamy Lime Custard. Next add a scone, maybe two. You’ll love my Lemon Scones or Ginger Scones.

If your sweet tooth is not quite satisfied with the fruit and scones, feel free to pass a plate of absolutely wonderful, homemade Chocolate Truffles or tiny cups of Pot de Crème or both!

Have a lovely Easter and bon appétit!

What are your plans for Easter? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2016

Holiday Special – New Year’s Brunch

New_Years_EveAre you thinking about seeing in the New Year in with family and friends and a cozy brunch. Sound daunting after a week of cooking? Make it a potluck.

Here are few dishes to help you get motivated.

If it’s quiche you want, try my almost traditional Quiche. If you prefer some variation of brunch’s favorite cheese and egg pie, turn to my Spinach Ricotta Pie or Tarte à l’Oignon (Onion Tart).

For fun, why not try a different kind of pancake? How about my Tostadas with Avocado Crema & Black Bean Salsa. If you haven’t had enough smoked salmon or Gravlax, then try my Savory Blinis or Latkes with a dab of sour cream, a sliver of salmon and a bit of caviar. Then again, you can trade the pancakes for a toasted bagel with that lox.

A baked good or two is nice touch. Irish Soda Bread is quick and easy. Then add something sweet with my Cranberry Coffee Cake, Ginger Scones or Pumpkin-Ginger Muffins.

For the finishing touch, brew some coffee, whip up a batch of Mimosas or Mango Sparklers and have a lovely brunch.

Happy New Year and bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

How will you celebrate the New Year? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2015

Ho Ho Ho – Good Christmas Morning Special


When I was a kid we were up and out of bed by five o’clock on Christmas morning, Mom and Dad were fortified with multiple cups of coffee. My sister, brother and I made do with the chocolate coins and oranges in our stockings. I suppose that we eventually had breakfast but I don’t remember that part.

Would you like to serve a memorable breakfast this Christmas? Well, hmmm, I think I can come up with a few ideas.

The simply delicious continental breakfast, s my choice. Start with a big bowl of fresh fruit or something fancier like Mojito Melons, Strawberries with Yogurt Cream or Fresh Berries with Creamy Lime Custard.

apple_muffins_01Then relax with another cup of coffee, tea or Spiced Chai. Add a muffin, scone or lovely slice of coffee cake. Your family will love my moist and delicious Apple Muffins. For a very Christmas-y treat try my Very Ginger Gingerbread Muffins. Or skip the muffins and try my Applesauce Scones or Ginger Scones. Or break out the bagels and cream cheese and enjoy them with my wonderful Gravlax or smoked salmon. They are all delicious but I think I’ll go with a Cranberry Coffee Cake this year.


Perhaps you prefer a hearty morning meal. Again, start with fruit and then move on to a fabulous breakfast casserole. Baked French Toast is a favorite with kids. You can’t go wrong with a traditional Quiche if you’re having a crowd. Unless you rather have a not so traditional Spinach Ricotta Pie.
Sound like too much work? Try scrambling up a few dozen eggs and don’t forget the bacon or sausage and some toasted Irish Soda BreadIf your Christmas morning is small and intimate, make it special with a couple of Brie with Sundried Tomato Omelets.

Wishing you a joyful and delicious Christmas morning!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What are you cooking Christmas Day? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2015

Countdown to Christmas & Cranberry Coffee Cake

evergreen_basketThree days! Yes, there are only three days until Christmas. I don’t know about you but it has sort of caught me unawares. Yes, I’ve seen all the signs. The Christmas lights twinkle on Main Street. There are rows of evergreens at the farm stand. The barrage of holiday ads is relentless. The only thing missing is the cold and fluffy white stuff.

Who dreams of a green Christmas? Not me. At least for this New England girl, it’s hard to get in the spirit when it feels more like April than December. One excuse is as lame as another so I blame this year’s somewhat tenuous grasp of the holiday spirit on El Niño. I guess it is only fitting that this meteorological phenomenon arrives in the weeks leading up to Christmas. El Niño means the boy in Spanish and refers to the birth of Christ.

But what the heck; we’ve had green Christmases in the past and we’ll have them again in the future. It’s time to pull myself together. Anyway, the last few days before Christmas are really the best! With no time to spare, I’m making my final lists and checking them twice.

One last decoration? Looking around the house, there might be a few spots still shouting for attention. Nothing over the top mind you, just an additional bowl (or three) filled with greens or shiny ornaments. Do I need another wreath? (If you have to ask, the answer is probably yes.) The stockings are somewhere but where. And, didn’t I already get mistletoe?

Last minute shopping. Whether it’s special ingredients for the holiday feast, stocking stuffers or that impossible-to-buy-for rellie, there is always at least one last mad dash around town. I don’t mind; it only adds to the excitement. The shops bustle with activity and everyone smiles.

Wrapping. I rarely, maybe never, wrap as I buy. A day, maybe two, before Santa climbs down the chimney, I get into gear. First, I crank up the Christmas music or tune into It’s a Wonderful Life. Then, I take an assortment of fancy paper, bags and bows and turn plain packages into presents. I confess to using gift bags whenever possible but there are always a few present that require scissors, tape and wrapping paper.

Cooking with the girlies. The twirling girlies are not so little anymore. All three are taller than their auntie. Two are away from home and living on their own. Lucky for me, they have discovered that they like to cook. Emily played sous to my chef at Thanksgiving. Kaela has signed on to help with Christmas Eve dinner. I suspect Emily will join us. A good thing, since I may want to add a coffee cake for Christmas morning to my to-do list.

Rein it in. I’ve been known to go a bit nuts in the last day or two before Christmas. One year it was pinecone wreaths and mini-trees. Another time it was scarves. (I was still knitting at midnight on Christmas Eve.) Who knows what holiday treat will try to tempt me this year. It might be difficult but, with only three days to go, I’ll do my best to resist the urge to make dozens of lavender sachets, turn tiles into coasters or bake a gingerbread village.

Have a wonderful holiday! Bon appétit!

Cranberry Coffee Cake
What could be better on Christmas morning that a sweet and tangy coffee cake? Enjoy!
Serves 8

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh or frozen (do not defrost) cranberries
Crumbly Nut Topping (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line the pan with parchment paper, butter the paper, dust with flour and tap out any excess.

Put the flour, baking powder and spices in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the orange zest and whisk again. Set aside.

Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, sour cream and vanilla and beat until smooth. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until just smooth. Do not overbeat.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle first with the cranberries and then with the Crumbly Topping.

Bake the cake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until the cake is golden and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10-15 minutes. Remove the springform collar and continue to cool. The coffee cake can be baked ahead and stored, loosely covered, at room temperature overnight.

Crumbly Nut Topping
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch allspice
3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans or walnuts

Put the flour, sugar and spices in a small food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the topping comes together in lumps. Add the pecans and pulse once or twice to distribute the nuts evenly in the topping.

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One Year Ago – Fish Stew Provençal
Two Years Ago – Twice-Baked Potatoes
Three Years Ago – Oh my gosh, my golly – we were too busy celebrating to post!
Four Years Ago – Braised Lamb with Artichokes and Mushrooms and Creamy Polenta
Five Years Ago – Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Mushroom Sauce
Six Years Ago – Potato, Leek & Kale Soup
Seven Years Ago – Salmon & Lentils

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? How do you get in the holiday spirit? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

Fall Breakfast & More Special

Autumn_Pleasant_lakeWith the official start to fall, the sun is coming up a little later every day. All the more reason to have a bit of a lazy start to the day. Sleep in and then invite a few friends over for a mid-morning feast. Enjoy some great food before you all head out for a walk around the lake, a long bike ride or a hike in the hills. It’s all good!

So, what’s for breakfast? Here are a few ideas:

Quiche or something like it, is always a good bet. You’ll be a winner with my Quiche or any one of my variations on the cheese and egg pie. Perhaps you’ll cook up my Spinach Ricotta Pie, Tarte à l’Oignon (Onion Tart) or Asparagus & Goat Cheese Tart.

Round out your breakfast something fruity. Give my Honeyed Apricots with Creamy Yogurt or Strawberries with Yogurt Cream. And by all means, you must include a batch of my Applesauce Scones or Apple Muffins!

For an after exercise pick-me-up, a steaming kettle of Roasted Tomato Soup with Fresh Corn or Roasted Butternut Squash Soup sounds perfect. Especially if you add either The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich in the History of my Kitchen or my All Grown Up Grilled Cheese to munch!

End the fun with a cookie. My Root ‘n’ Tooty Good ‘n’ Fruity Oatmeal Cookies are nothing short of wonderful.

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

What are your plans for the weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2015