Category Archives: Recipes

Super Easy (but Zesty) Eggs Benedict

Do you like Eggs Benedict? It’s something I used to order out often, but I liked them so well that it seemed a waste not to learn how to make them at home. So, I started  practicing. Although my goal is to improve the flavor of whatever recipe I’m developing, I also have a penchant for efficiency and not wasting anything, so I changed up the standard Hollandaise sauce (the crowning touch for an A+ egg benedict) to incorporate both the egg yolks and the egg whites, and if you don’t own an egg poacher, I’ve included an easy tip for how to make poached eggs in any saucepan:

Rich, Easy, Zesty Eggs Benedict
(makes enough sauce to cover 6 eggs)

Hollandaise Sauce:

Add together on the top of a double boiler (with the water already boiling underneath):
1/2 stick butter
2 eggs
1/2 fresh-squeezed lemon
Whisk all these ingredients together constantly until it thickens.
Turn the heat to low, and then add (while continuing to whisk briskly):
1/3 cup half’n’half or light cream
Salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, heat your Canadian bacon in a skillet, then cover to keep it warm.

Poached Eggs without an Egg Poacher

If you don’t have an egg poacher, or you can poach eggs on the stove top like this:
Boil together:
1 cup water per egg
1/4 teaspoon vinegar per egg (apple cider or red wine)
When the water is boiling, carefully crack open and gently lower each egg into the pan separately. Let them simmer for two minutes, or until your sliced English muffin has toasted (in a toaster). Butter each half of the muffin and add a slice of fried Canadian bacon. You can also add cheese, spinach, tomato or avocado slices at this point, depending on your taste.   Carefully scoop out each egg and set it gently on top of a half a muffin with bacon on top. Crown with Hollandaise Sauce. Serve immediately!

Since “Benedict” literally means “Good speech,” I thought it might be the perfect time to end my post with this “benediction” from the New Testament: Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Boston Cream Pie in a Pan and Boston Cream Pie Sundaes

One of Alan’s long-time favorite desserts for his birthday has been Boston Cream Pie, and over the years I’ve made a lot of them. However, I love the custard filling and tend to overfill the layers, so often the cake looks great until the first cut, and then the whole top layer starts to slide off and ends up looking like Sleeping Beauty’s birthday cake before it was baked. To compensate, I’ve developed a recipe that fits snugly in a 9X13″ baking pan and can’t really come apart at the seams!  Here’s how:  Bake a white cake (any you like, from scratch or mix, according to the directions), only pour the batter equally into two 9X13″ baking pans. If you have one pan that’s slightly smaller, so much the better…the smaller one can become your top layer.

Most cakes take 30-35 minutes to bake at 350,°  but test your cakes after 12 minutes. One of mine was done before the other, so I ended up baking one for 12 and the other for 15 minutes. They’re done when the middle springs back after a slight touch.

While the cake is baking, make the filling.Vanilla Custard filling:

Combine in a  two-quart sauce pan:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn starch.

Mix together thoroughly  until there are no lumps left, then add
3 eggs (both white and yokes) until the batter is smooth and completely mixed.
Next, add:
4 cups whole milk, stirring thoroughly with a whisk after each cup
1/8 teaspoon salt

Cook over low heat, stirring often and then constantly until it starts to bubble and thickens. Use the whisk to keep it smooth, but if you scrape the bottom and sides with a spatula every minute or so, it will keep the bottom and sides from browning. When it’s thickened, turn off the heat and add:
1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whisk together thoroughly again and set aside to cool.  Once the cake is done, take it out and cool it (still in the pans) for about 10 minutes, or  until you can loosen the sides of the smaller of the two layers. Pour the warm custard over the bottom layer of cake. Carefully loosen all the edges of the second layer with a metal spatula, and when you can tell that even the bottom is loose, either flip the entire cake over on top of the bottom layer (which has been covered with custard) to make a second layer of cake, or flip the pan over on your hand and then flip your hand over the pan so that the second layer lands upright over the first layer.  If you can do this, you have a slightly rounded top to your cake, which is attractive, but if you miss, the cake might break into pieces. If the cake breaks up…not to worry! You can arrange the pieces on top, and after it’s all covered with frosting, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference, although you might want to add another 1/4+ cup milk to your frosting so that you can almost pour it on top rather than frosting it the traditional way. I haven’t tried this, but you might also be able to take the top layer out 1/2 at a time to make the switch easier.

How ever you do it, after you have the top layer securely in place over the bottom layer and the custard filling, let the whole thing cool while you make the frosting.

Whipped Chocolate-Chip Frosting

Microwave for 2 minutes:
2 cups chocolate chips in a bowl (can be milk, semi-sweet, or dark)

Meanwhile: in a mixing bowl, add:
1 stick (or 1/2 cup) soft butter
4 cups powdered sugar
Sprinkling of salt (about 1/16 teaspoon)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Whip everything together in your mixer until it becomes a soft, fluffy frosting. Then, gently add the melted chocolate chips. If you want, you can stir the chocolate chips after they’ve been melted until they are smooth, or if you like the chocolate-chip-bit look, just add them in as they are. Some will be melted and some will still be a little chunky.

Ladle out the frosting and spread it carefully and evenly over the entire pan. It’s best served fresh and still slightly warm, but if you make it early (like the day before), it can also be stored in the refrigerator, although it must be room temperature when it’s eaten for full flavor. After the first serving, I store it in the refrigerator but bring it out 2-3 hours before serving it again. Hope you enjoy!P.S.—With the last six servings, I put them in sundae dishes with hot fudge sauce, a scoop of ice cream, and some whipped cream on top.        This is possibly a little decadent, but it was quite delicious that way!!

Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.” (Psalm 47:6)

Grilled Brats for Summer Served with Memorable Sides

Summer time is the perfect time to grill brats, but you may get tired of serving them with baked beans, chips and pickles, even though that’s standard picnic fare and always yummy. My daughter-in-law, Linda, sometimes mentions that it’s hard for her to think up sides for some of the more common dishes, so I thought that might be true for you too. If you’re looking for something different, how about trying a few of these options for sides?   *Chopped and added to sauteed red and green bell peppers
*Sauerkraut stewed with caraway seeds, apple chunks, bacon, and onions
*Fresh orange slices
*Pierogies stuffed with cheese or spinach*Grilled zucchini and summer squash
*Grilled egg plant
*Deviled eggs (recipe found here: )
If it’s cool out and you’re looking for warmth, here are a few sides that taste great:
*Spinach sauteed with bacon and onions
*Cold slaw (recipe here: )Of course, they’re always great plain, or wrapped in a bun with mustard and onions. When we were in Cape Town, South Africa, we saw a shop where you could get hot dogs with 30 different types of condiments, so I think it’s fair to let your imagination run wild and make brats especially festive by offering all sorts of options! Who says brats can’t be gourmet party food? Well, it might not be a top choice for your first anniversary or hosting your boss, but there are few things any more savory than a hot brat and a cold lemonade on a balmy summer day! Happy summering!  🙂

But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.” (Psalm 5:11)

Refreshing Virgin Pina Colada Smoothies

Those of you who know me well know that I don’t drink anything alcoholic. In fact, I’ve never had an alcoholic drink in my life and don’t intend ever to have one unless Jesus  himself offers me one when I get to heaven (which I’m doubting will happen). However, I love fruit flavors, variety, and pretty stemware, so I love experimenting with various non-alcoholic drinks, and here’s one that’s perfect for a warm day when you feel like celebrating!

Refreshing Pina Colada Smoothies
(makes four 8-0z. servings, although only three are pictured here)

In a juicer or blender that can handle ice, add:
2 cups ice
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup crushed pineapple
1/2 cup cooled coconut syrup (recipe here if you need it: )

I was serving it for dinner so didn’t add yogurt, but if you want a healthy breakfast drink with some protein, add 1 cup of plain Greek (or regular) yogurt. With yogurt added, it will serve 5. If you add another cup of ice, you can serve six, and it still tastes plenty strong and sweet.

For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (Philemon 1:7, ESV. May we be a source of refreshment and joy to those who visit our homes this summer!)

Chocolatey-Chippy, Sure-to-Get-Eaten Banana Bread

Probably everybody makes banana bread when you’ve got some extra ripe bananas that need using up, but my son Joel’s turns out so well that I asked if I could share his recipe. “But Mom!” he protested, “I just use your recipe, except I use half the sugar and add a package of chocolate chips.” Okay! We can do that. Here it is:

Chocolatey-Chippy Banana Bread

Cream together:
1 stick of softened butter
1/2 cup sugar

Then add:
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-4 bananas (whatever you have left over; the more bananas, the longer you’ll need to bake it)

Beat until smooth, then add:
1   12-oz. package chocolate chips for sure, and if you want
1 cup walnuts or pecans (totally optional)

Pour into a loaf pan and bake at 350°F. for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown on top and somewhat firm to the touch (starting to form a crust). We usually make banana bread for dinner (since it takes so long to bake) but serve the rest with breakfast the following morning. You can also make this recipe into muffins or glaze the tops with cream cheese frosting to make them into cupcakes, but then they’re undeniably a dessert rather than any semblance of a “bread” or morning “pastry!”  🙂

Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel
” (Proverbs 27:9).

Spaghetti and Meatballs: Classic Favorite with an Attitude

On our first anniversary, I told Alan I’d make anything he wanted for dinner, assuming it would be something we couldn’t usually afford, like lobster or steak. Do you know what he wanted? Spaghetti and meatballs! It was then I realized he might be Scottish by heritage, but he has an Italian stomach! So, for the next forty-five years, if I really want to spoil him, I roll out that ever-lovin’ classic, spaghetti and meatballs! It’s so simple that you probably don’t think it’s even worth discussing, but I have found a few ways to add taste points that make it more memorable, and I’ll include those at the end. Meanwhile, here’s the basic:

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs
(serves 6± depending on how much you eat!!)

Add together in a large mixing bowl:
1 pound hamburger (or ground chuck, ground round, or whatever you like)
1 cup bread crumbs (make your own by toasting old bread and crushing the slices in a paper bag with a rolling pin, or buy some already made)
1 egg
1 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning (or your favorite)
1 tablespoon crushed garlic (fresh is best, but you can use commercially prepared or even crushed, dried garlic)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder (or 1 finely chopped onion if you’re an onion lover)
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper   Mix thoroughly (may as well get your hands dirty; it takes less time) and form into golf-ball-sized balls (or smaller, depending on your taste). Fry in a large skillet until well browned and cooked through, turning carefully just once or twice so they don’t burn. . . or fall apart on you.

Meanwhile, prepare your Pasta Sauce:

In a very large saucepan, saute with 2 tablespoons of butter:
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large pepper, chopped (any color you choose; green works fine and provides good color contrast, but other colors are sweeter)
8 oz. chopped mushrooms (any edible variety you like!)
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (I like Lawry’s, but use whatever you like)
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon crushed garlic (There’s an old saying that families should eat their pasta together, and I’m quite sure it’s because good pasta is loaded with garlic, which tastes great going down but is sure to displease your friends if it’s on your breath but not theirs!)

Once the veggies are tender, add:
1 large can of stewed, diced Italian tomatoes
1 jar pasta sauce (your favorite; I use Prego flavored with meat, but there are a lot of good brands and varieties out there)   Simmer until all the ingredients are hot and well mixed, then add the meatballs  gently into the pot with the veggies and let it all simmer away for at least another half an hour (can be longer). If you’ve used hamburger, and there’s a lot of grease floating on top, spoon off as much as you can and throw it away. Grease=flavor, but it also=calories, so a little goes a long way.


While your meatballs are simmering in the sauce, cook the pasta. You can suit yourself as to the type you want to use, and just follow the directions on the side of the box. . .or make your own if you’re really a pasta aficionado! Theoretically, I’ve heard that Italians like their pasta “al dente,” which means “to the tooth” and refers to pasta that is neither too crunchy nor too soft, so that it appeals to your teeth when they bite into it! I don’t mind my pasta pretty well done, but the advantage of starting out al dente is that if you accidentally have any left over (which happens!), then if you rewarm it, the pasta doesn’t become too mushy to be good. But, it’s totally personal preference! My husband definitely wants his al dente!

Add any (but not all) of these to create memorable taste points:

*An extra pound of grilled and chopped Italian sausage
*A small jar of capers
*4-8 oz. of diced, sun-dried tomatoes
*1 cup chopped olives (black, green, or whatever you have on hand!)
* A small jar of smoked egg plants, diced
* “Primavera” refers to “in the style of spring” and usually means pasta served with a mixture of fresh vegetables, such as peas, broccoli, or zucchini. However, you can also add any of of a number of veggies to the basic sauce to increase the nutritive value and add color and texture. Just make sure you don’t overcook the veggies so that they become discolored and mushy. Add them in the last 5-10 minutes before you serve them.   Serve your pasta hot, and if you have any, have some grated cheese and crushed pepper available for people to add as they please.  The traditional meal includes a side salad, garlic bread, and grape juice. Okay, so maybe in Italy it’s wine, but at my house it’s grape juice! 🙂  Hope you enjoy!

Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:9, ESV).


There’s Nothing Quite Like the Full English

When Alan and I were on the Norwegian Star‘s Central American cruise through the Panama Canal earlier this year, we had many delightful breakfasts, but one of the best was our perennial favorite abroad, “The Full English,” so I’ve decided to write about it today. However, I’m not really going to publish any particular recipes, as I usually do, because all the foods are standard, it’s just that the combination of “the perfect seven” ingredients makes for a memorable breakfast that can keep you fueled for a seven-hour hike across the moors of England…or a big day of exploring Asia, Central America, or anywhere else in the world!  Our first experience with “The Full English” was at a hostel under the shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London many years ago. We affectionately dubbed this hostel “Mel’s East,” because it reminded us of the rescue mission where we often volunteered in Grand Rapids. Despite the humble and somewhat unkempt condition their dormitory-style facility (and people up all night chattering in foreign languages as they called their families in other parts of the universe), Mel’s East served us an incredibly hearty and surprisingly tasty breakfast, and from that day to this,  we have a soft spot in our hearts for “The Full English.”  Since then, we’ve enjoyed it at such classic venues as The Royal Highland Hotel in Inverness, Scotland (where the “Full Scottish” included haggis), the Cappabhaile House in Ballyvaughan, Ireland (in Ireland it’s called “The Full Irish” and may include soda bread), and historic places like the Talbot Inn and Buckingham Hotel in England (where “black pudding” [aka/ “blood pudding”] are popular additions). But, the “Full” breakfast is not just a favorite in the U.K. We’ve eaten the Full English around the world, even in remote areas of Africa and India! So, no matter who you are or where you live, the “Full English” will be a memorable feast for you and yours!

The Full English
(serves one or the world!)

The perfect seven ingredients include:
1. Fried eggs (can also be poached)
2. Fried bacon (English bacon is more like American ham)
3. Grilled tomatoes
4. Grilled mushrooms
5. Baked beans
6. Grilled sausages
7. Toast. We’ve had amazing toast grilled in butter and served hot, but normallyit has been toasted, buttered, and preferable cooled in a toast cooler (such as the one above) and served with an assortment of toppings, such as orange marmalade, marmite (for those who can stand it; I can’t), and fruit preserves. (Leave the nutella for the Italians, the cheeses for the French, and the meats for the Germans. We are not on the Continent now…)At the most wonderful B’n’B’s and fancy hotels, all this follows a first course of cold cereals, pastries, stewed fruits and juices. If you’re going to be truly English, this feast is served with a steaming pot of black tea with lots of milk (not cream) and sugar. Many places make accommodations for coffee lovers, however, and I’ve even been offered some great hot chocolates at times. There are also many delicious possibilities for extras, like friend potatoes, Tattie scones, or classic scones, but these are not part of the gold standard. Also, just FYI, this is not what the Brits eat every day for breakfast. This is what they eat for special occasions or serve to special guests, and it’s sometimes served late morning instead, like a brunch.            Ready to try? I guarantee, it’s even better than green eggs and ham!  🙂

My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.” (Proverbs 24:13-14)