Date Cookies

The base for this recipe came from my favorite cookbook, the one my mom gave to me when she kicked me out of the house. I’ve been running through it, looking for ideas, when I came across a recipe for California Fig cookies. Sounded good to me, except I didn’t have any figs on hand. But I did have dates! So I switched it up, added some Scotch and clove. And took out the walnut or pecan halves, they were optional anyway. Now I have to say these turned out amazing! They are now one of my favorite cookies. Enjoy!

Date Cookies

  • 1 cup chopped dried dates
  • 4 tbsp. Scotch
  • 6 to 8 tbsp. water*
  • 1 cup butter, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp real vanilla
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt


Pre-heat your oven to 375° and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a small pan; cook the dates, scotch, and 6 tbsp. of water until the dates are super soft and like a paste. *You may need more water for this, it depends on how dry your dates are. Allow mixture to cool completely.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars. Once it’s light and fluffy, add in the egg and vanilla. Beat until it’s light and fluffy again, you’ll probably have to scrap down the bowl.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, clove, and salt. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the flour mixture and beat until combined. Now stir in the dates. Drop a teaspoon full of dough onto your cookie sheets, about 2″ apart.

Bake for 12 minutes. The edges should just start to turn golden brown. Allow to cool and then eat.



Cream Cheese Drop Cookies

This recipe comes from my Farmer’s Journal Country Cookbook. I didn’t do much modification to it. Add a little lemon extract and extra cream cheese, that’s about it. Enjoy!

Cream Cheese Drop Cookies

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 4 oz cream cheese, at room temp
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, divided
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice, zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp real vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 cup sifted cake flour*


On medium speed in a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Turn down to low and slowly add in 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat until smooth again. Combine the lemon juice, vanilla, and lemon extract. Slowly add it into the butter/cream cheese mixture. Once it’s smooth again, slowly add in the flour and lemon zest.

Of note here, cake flour is different from other types of flour and you can’t substitute. Cake flour has a lower protein content. You can make your own with all-purpose flour and either arrowroot or corn starch.

Once it’s all combined drop about a teaspoon of dough, roughly 2″ apart, on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes or until set. These won’t look done but they will be. You don’t want them brown. While still hot roll in the remaining powdered sugar and allow to cool.

Billionaire Bars

So this recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen. They have a recipe for millionaire’s shortbread. Why do I call mine Billionaire instead? Because I’ve bumped it up a notch and made it more decadent. I added some Bourbon to the caramel and some flake sea salt to the chocolate topping. Enjoy!

Billionaire Bars

Cookie Bottom:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 stick of unsalted butter, melted

Caramel Middle:

  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup cron syrup
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp. Bourbon

Chocolate Topping

  • 9 oz chopped chocolate
  • Flake sea salt


Pre-heat your oven to 350° and place the rack in the lower-middle position. Take a 13″ x 9″ baking pan and line it with a foil sling. Having heavy aluminum foil really helps here. Line it the long way first, then another sheet the short way. This makes getting the bars out super easy. Spray it with non-stick cooking spray, this helps getting the foil off the bars.

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and combine until all of the flour mixture is moistened. Press into the pan until you have an even layer. It helps to use a flat object, like a measuring cup, to press the dough down. Take a fork and prick the dough all over. Bake until light brown, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool until it’s barely warm.

For the filling, combine all of the ingredients except the salt in to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. I like to use my Le Creuset Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture is between 236 to 239 degrees. A candy thermometer really comes in handy here. This will take 20 or so minutes. Keep an eye on it, the bottom can scorch really quickly if you don’t stir enough. Once it reaches temperature, take it off the heat and stir in the salt. Pour, carefully as it’s molten, over the cookie bottom. Allow to cool completely (about 30-45 minutes if you put it in the refrigerator).

Once it is completely cool, put the chopped chocolate into a microwave proof bowl. Nuke for 20 seconds at a time. Stir in-between nukes and let it set for 5 minutes between. Keep nuking until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Pour ontop of the caramel and smooth out. An offset spatula really helps here. Sprinkle with flake sea salt and allow to cool complete.

Once completely cool, use the foil sling to remove it from the pan and carefully peal the foil away from the bars. Double check to make sure the foil didn’t rip and that you have pieces stuck to your bars. No one wants a bite of foil!

Carefully cut into bars, the cookie portion can be very crumbly.

Bourbon Eggnog Cake

Sometimes you come across a recipe that sounds amazing but when you go to make it, it falls short of your expectations. This is one of those recipes for me. The original had 4 layers, and nice Bourbon custard filling, and an eggnog buttercream frosting.

First, there was no way it could ever make 4 layers. I barely got 3 out of the original recipe. The custard came out so thick I had a hard time spreading it on the cake without tearing the layers to pieces. And I’m not a fan of buttercream so I went with a cream cheese frosting instead. So I turned to Google, looked up a couple of other eggnog cake recipes, and cobbled this one together. Had to make it a couple of times until it came out the way I wanted. Enjoy!


Bourbon Eggnog Cake

Bourbon Custard:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 4 large egg yolks (keep the whites)
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. Bourbon

Bourbon Eggnog Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1 tsp real vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 6 egg whites (4 from the custard)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup eggnog
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp. Bourbon
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Eggnog Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 lbs cream cheese (16 oz), at room temp
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 3 tbsp. eggnog
  • 3 tbsp. bourbon
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar


In a medium pot, I like to use my Le Creuset Dutch oven, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add in the half-and-half and egg yokes. Whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat (whisking constantly) until it starts to bubble, about 7 or 8 minutes. Cook for another minute or two. It will get thick but keep cooking until it seem impossibly thick. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, 1 tbsp. at a time until melted and smooth. Whisk in the Bourbon. Transfer to a medium bowl and place plastic wrap directly on top of the custard. This will prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 350°. Spray 3 round cake pans with non-stick spray, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and spray the parchment paper with the non-stick spray as well.*

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add in the sour cream and beat until light and fluffy again.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt.

Combine the eggnog, milk, Bourbon, and vanilla in a measuring cup.

On medium-low, add in the egg whites one at a time. Beat until combined and the batter is smooth. Add in half of the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Add in half the eggnog mixture and beat until just combined. Repeat.

Divide the batter evenly between the 3 cake pans. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Allow to cool completely.

In a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Turn down the mixer to low and slowly add in the eggnog and bourbon, beat until well combined. Add in the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beat until smooth and all of the powdered sugar is well incorporated. Then turn up to high and beat until smooth and fluffy. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Assemble the cake. Take 1 cake and put it on a cake plate. Evenly smear the top with 1/2 the Bourbon custard. This is easier if you take it out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before had to allow it to warm up slightly. Place the 2nd cake on top and smear it with the rest of the custard. Now frost it with the cream cheese frosting. I grated some fresh nutmeg on top of mine to make it look nice. Eat it.

*I have always had issues with my cakes being domed, meaning the middle of the cake was always higher than the sides. A total pain when frosting as the top was never even. Then it came to my attention that you can actually prevent this by using bake-even strips. They’re basically oven proof strips of material that you soak in water before using and then they wrap around the outside of the cake pan. Works like a charm! You can find them on Amazon, of course: Wilton Bake-Even cake strips.

Red Velvet Peanut Butter Kisses

I can’t remember where I came across the recipe that these cookies are based on but they sure are delicious. I only made a few minor modifications to the original recipe. And they’re perfect for the holidays. I did experiment with the types of kisses I used and baking the cookies with the kisses already on them vs putting them on after they’re done. I found that the milk chocolate kisses worked best vs the dark chocolate ones. They melted better. Also if you bake the cookies with the kisses already on them they don’t melt and the cookies don’t puff up. Enjoy!


Red Velvet Peanut Butter Kisses

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp red food coloring
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Dutch processed)
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup sanding sugar or sugar sprinkles
  • 1 bag Hershey’s kisses


Pre-heat your oven to 375° and line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Beat the butter, peanut butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. I use my stand mixer for this with the paddle attachment. Turn to low and add in the egg, milk, vanilla, and food coloring. When it’s combined turn up the mixer to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy again.

Sift together the cocoa, flour, baking soda, and salt. Turn the mixer back down to low and add in the flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Take a tablespoon or so of the dough and roll into a ball. Put the sanding sugar into a shallow dish or bowl, dip the tops of the cookie balls into the sugar and then place them on your cookie sheet with the sugar side up. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes.

Once the cookies are done press a kiss into the center of each one while still hot from the oven. The cookie will “crack” around the edges, which is what you want. Allow to cool slightly before chowing down.

Lemon Chicken Soup

So I was talking to a friend and for some reason Greek food came up. He mentioned this recipe and I was intrigued. So I turned to my friend Google and looked up several versions before deciding on this one. I’d say the only change I made was to up the garlic and ditch the spinach. Don’t get me wrong, I love spinach, but not in my soup. And I almost always have shredded chicken in the freezer, left over from rotisserie chicken usually. Really the only thing I had to go out and buy was the orzo pasta.  It turned out delicious and was super easy to make. Enjoy!

Lemon Chicken Soup

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 5-8 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 8 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • 2-3 cups of shredded chicken
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 lemons, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 package of fresh dill, finely chopped


I used my Instant Pot for this but if you don’t have one you can just a regular soup pot. On medium heat, or the sauté mode for the Instant Pot, cook the carrots, onion, and garlic in the olive oil with about half the salt for about 10 minutes or until softened. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Once softened, add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add in the orzo and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add in the chicken (if it’s frozen even better).

Now beat together the eggs and lemon juice. Add a ladle full of the chicken stock mixture at a time, beating it into the egg lemon mixture. The idea here is to slowly bring the egg mixture up to temperature before adding it into the soup. This will prevent the eggs from scrambling and you’ll have a silky, creamy soup base. Once you’ve incorporated 4-5 ladle full pour it into the soup while slowly stirring. Add salt & pepper to taste. Add in the dill and cook for another 10 minutes or until the orzo is completely cooked.

This soup reheats very well but you may need to add a little more stock or water as the orzo can soak up a lot of moisture.

Lemon Garlic Halibut

Like a lot of people, I am trying to include more fish in my diet. I came across this recipe on the internet and it looked good. The original called for Cod but I prefer Halibut instead. I upped the garlic and ditched the parsley. It turned out pretty tasty but next time I’ll increase the amount of spice as it wasn’t as favorable as I had hoped it would be. But then it’s hard to compete with the garlic and lemon. Enjoy!

Lemon Garlic Halibut

  • 2-4 8oz Halibut fillets
  • 5-8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


Preheat your oven to 400°.

Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, and melted butter in a shallow bowl.

Mix the flour, spices, and salt in another shallow bowl.

In a frying pan that is oven proof, heat the vegetable oil on medium-high heat. Pat dry the fish fillets. Dip them in the lemon oil mixture and then into the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour. Add the fish to the skillet and brown on each side, about a minute per side.

Add the minced garlic to the remaining lemon mixture and drizzle over the fish. Put in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve with rice or couscous.

Cucumber Gorgonzola Dip

It’s party season. And while desserts and sweets are my specialty, it’s nice to mix it up once in a while. Plus lots of people will take cookies, pies, etc. to a party but not many will bring savory dishes. This recipe is based off of a Giada De Laurentis recipe. I find that it’s best if you refrigerate it for at least 24 hours. This allows all of the flavors to come out and meld together. Enjoy!


Cucumber Gorgonzola Dip

  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 4oz container of gorgonzola crumbles
  • 1/2 English cucumber, pealed and diced small
  • 1 .66oz container of fresh dill, finely minced
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt


Mix all of the ingredients together. Store in an air-tight container until ready to use.

Gingerbread Cookies

Tis the season and this last weekend I got the hankering for some good old fashion gingerbread cookies. So I turned to my favorite cookbook and it didn’t disappoint me. I did modify this recipe just a tad, added some ground cloves and used butter instead of shortening. They turned out pretty darn good! Warning, this recipe makes A LOT of cookies. Enjoy!


Gingerbread Cookies

  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup butter, at room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup dark molasses, I use blackstrap
  • 1/2 cup espresso
  • powdered sugar for dusting (optional)


Preheat your oven to 400°. Line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.

In a stand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add in the molasses and coffee. Add in the flour and beat until mixed well. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

On a lightly floured board, roll out the dough until about 1/4″ thick. Cut out the cookies with a cookies cutter. I used a 2″ round but you can use whatever you like. Bake for 8 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and eat.

As this recipe makes a lot of cookies, make sure to put the dough back in the refrigerator between batched to keep it chilled.

Smokey Bacon Onion Dip

This recipe is based off of one from Giada De Laurentis. As the holiday season is upon us, having a good dip to take to parties is essential.  I switched it up a little bit, added some garlic and liquid smoke. Turned out pretty good according to my coworkers. Enjoy!


Smokey Bacon Onion Dip

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz bacon, diced small
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced small
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1 package chives (usually .66 oz), finely diced.
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, minced finely
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke


In a medium sized skillet on medium heat, sauté the bacon with olive oil until brown and crispy. About 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and put it on a plate lined with paper towels to catch the excess oil.

Add the onions to the skillet with the salt and sauté in the oil/bacon fat. About 15 minutes or until soft and caramelized. Don’t leave it unattended as it can burn. You’ll want to stir it occasionally.  About 1/2 through add in the garlic. Allow the bacon and onion mixture to cool. Combine in a medium bowl with the yogurt, chives, and liquid smoke. Put in a container and allow to chill for at least 1 hour, longer is better. Serve with crackers, chips or vegies.