Fresh Apple Crisp

By | Recipes | No Comments

A few weeks ago, I went apple picking with a friend.  It was my first time.  As a lover of fall and all things fall related, what had I been waiting for?  The weather was ideal as it was a crisp sunny morning.  We found an orchard in Biglerville where you can pick your own apples and we practically had the orchard to ourselves.

We both picked a basket of apples in no time at all, a mix of golden delicious and jonagold apples.  They were delicious.  But maybe I was biased since I picked them myself.  And the best part is that I don’t have to remove any sticker before eating.

First, I made a batch of homemade applesauce.

But still, I had more apples than we could eat.

Apple crisp to the rescue.  I love apple crisp.  In this recipe, the apples are generously coated with cinnamon and brown sugar.  The topping crisps nicely and compliments the warm apple filling.  Sound good?

This crisp calls for 8 apples and will serve a lot of people.  (I actually divided it between 3 baking dishes instead of one 9 x 13.)

Obviously, it’s also best served warm with a dollop of ice cream.

Fresh Apple Crisp


  • 1 lemon, juiced (or about 2 Tablespoons)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1  1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch (for thickening)
  • 1/4 cup fresh apple juice or water
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg (optional)


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil or olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Peel apples, quarter, remove cores, and use a paring knife to thinly slice lengthwise.  I used an apple peeler, corer, slicer and got all my apples sliced very quickly.
  3. Add to a large mixing bowl and top with remaining filling ingredients. Toss to combine. Add to a “greased” 9×13 baking dish.  Or divide between several smaller baking dishes.
  4. Rinse and wipe out your mixing bowl and add all topping ingredients. (This technically makes it a one dish wonder.)  Stir to combine, then use fingers to break down any clumps of brown sugar. Pour or spoon over apples in an even layer.
  5. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour (uncovered) or until the filling is bubbly, the apples are very fork tender (especially in the center of the dish), and the topping is deep golden brown.
  6. Let rest at least 30 minutes before serving.
  7. Best when fresh, though leftovers keep covered in the refrigerator up to 3 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month.
*To the best of my ability, I have tried to indicate all ingredients, products and equipment that are available at Johnnies in Bold Print. 
Recipe found and adapted from


By | Recipes | No Comments

Is it summer, is it fall?!  Who knows!  One day the mornings are crisp and cool.  The next, the house is cooking and I need to turn on the air.  I love this time of the year…..once Mother Nature makes up her mind.

I am trying to salvage the last bits from our garden.  There are some lingering tomatoes, of all shapes, colors and sizes, and my basil is thriving again since I cut it back last month.  What better way to incorporate the remaining fruits of our labor but to whip up some fresh bruschetta.  First off, it’s so easy and quick to make.  And, it’s absolutely tasty.  I know it’s commonly served as an appetizer, but I’m starting to see it pop up as a main dish, primarily paired with chicken.  Because who doesn’t need new ideas for dinner?!

I know this recipe “suggests” Roma tomatoes, personally I used what I had on hand.  (or should I say on the vine?…)

Bruschetta Chicken

(2) 6 oz. Chicken Breasts

1 Tablespoon Butter

1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese

1/4 cup Breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning

1 Lemon

1 Roma Tomato

1/2 oz. Fresh Basil

Salt and Pepper

Olive Oil



Adjust oven rack to top position and preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in a microwave safe bowl until melted, about 1 minute.  Stir in mozzarella, breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

Lightly oil a baking sheet.  Pat chicken breast dry with paper towels.  Season with salt and pepper, place on one side of prepared baking sheet.  Mound mozzarella mixture onto tops of chicken, pressing firmly to adhere.  Roast until crust is lightly browned and chicken is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.  For a deeply golden crust, broil chicken for the last 2-3 minutes.


Zest and quarter lemon.  Finely dice tomato.  Pick basil leaves from stems, discard stems and thinly slice leaves.  In a small bowl, combine tomato, basil, juice from 2 lemon wedges and a drizzle of olive oil.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Top each chicken breast with bruschetta.  Serve with remaining lemon wedges.


*To the best of my ability, I have tried to indicate all ingredients, products and equipment that are available at Johnnies in Bold Print. 
Recipe provided

What’s for Dinner this week…..

By | Recipes | No Comments

There are signs that summer is nearing an end.  The mornings are cooler, the leaves are beginning to change color and we are no longer permitted to wear white.  I love fall.  I love the return to a routine.  Part of that routine, is cooking and eating more meals at home.

I’ve come to find out that most people don’t mind cooking, they just don’t know what to make…..which is why I try to meal plan each week.  Actually, I’ve been successfully meal planning since 2012.  I started a blog back in the day and I would create a 28 day meal plan every month.  My brain thrives on routine and organization.  It’s comfortable with predictability.  Meal planning has increased my efficiency and eliminated excessive trips to the grocery store.

I should be getting a pay increase sometime soon.

But seriously, it makes “cooking” so much easier if you plan ahead.

Here is my rule of thumb each week, for what it’s worth:

1 Chicken/Poultry Meal per week

1 Beef Meal (ground or something “fancier” like steak or brisket)

1 Fish or Seafood Meal

1 Soup Night, Pasta Meal or Meatless Entree

1 Pork Meal

This is my formula and it works for our family.

I plan out our meals before going to the grocery store.  Then I can make sure that I have all of the necessary ingredients on hand.

I realize not everyone has the time or the interest to cook complex meals from scratch.  I have included several ready made options that you can find at Johnnies.  It’s a mix of homemade and ready made meals so that hopefully some or all of the meals will fit into your schedule too.

I still haven’t figured out how to eliminate or reduce all of the dirty dishes that come with home cooked meals.  Send suggestions my way.


Week One.

Monday. Fully Cooked Beef Brisket: Just heat and serve.  It’s perfect everytime.

Tuesday. Chicken in Basil Cream

Wednesday. Mushroom Pork Tenderloin

Thursday. Cajun Blackened Fish Taco Bowls

Friday. Soup Night: Johnnies has more than 30 varieties of frozen fully prepared soups.  Just add water and heat.  My personal favorite, the Italian Wedding Soup or the Shrimp and Roasted Corn Chowder.

Side: Colossal Fries.  Oven baked and crispy every time.


Week Two.

Monday. Fully Cooked BBQ Pulled Pork

Tuesday. Seabest Butterfly Breaded Shrimp.  

Wednesday. Soft Beef Tacos

Thursday. Pizza:  Here is my favorite homemade (but very quick and easy) pizza dough.

Friday. Wing Night.  Johnnies offers both regular wings and boneless.  Precooked and raw.  Everyone loves wing night, especially during football season.



Dessert: Pellman’s Cheesecake.  Johnnies stocks several flavors and even offers a box of assorted flavors.  The raspberry and chocolate chip are still one of my favorites.


*To the best of my ability, I have tried to indicate all ingredients, products and equipment that are available at Johnnies in Bold Print.  

Cheesy Company Potatoes

By | Recipes | No Comments
Company Potatoes.
This is a great dish to make when heading to a potluck, or serving a crowd or having “company” over for dinner.
Company Potatoes.
When we host large scale holiday parties or family gatherings, I ask my mother-in-law to make these potatoes.  My mother-in-law is a great cook.  She owned a restaurant for over 20 years so she knows how to feed the masses and she does so very well.  Everyone loves this cheesy hash brown dish.  And why not?  It’s full of carbs and calories.  Hash browns swimming in cheese, sour cream and melted butter.  Hash browns topped with crispy corn flakes.  Are you hungry yet?
It’s also really quick and easy to put together and you probably have most of the ingredients already in your house.
What are you waiting for…..invite some company for dinner already!!
Company Potatoes
1/2 cup butter, melted
(2) cans of condensed cream of chicken soup
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup chopped onion
1  1/2 cups shredded cheese
32 oz. bag of shredded potatoes, thawed slightly
3 cups of corn flakes, slightly crushed
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven 350 degrees.
Pour 1/2 cup melted butter in a baking pan.
Mix together in a bowl: cream of chicken soup,  sour cream, chopped onion and shredded cheese.
Add 32 oz. Bag of shredded potatoes and put in baking pan.
Mix corn flakes with melted butter and spread on top of potato mixture.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
*To the best of my ability, I have tried to indicate all ingredients, products and equipment that are available at Johnnies in Bold Print. 
Recipe provided by my mother-in-law, Becky.

Homemade Pimento Cheese Spread

By | Recipes | No Comments

For as long as I can remember, my mom has been buying pimento cheese spread from a local grocery store.  Pimento Cheese Spread is such a “southern thing”, commonly referred to as the Pate of the South or Carolina Caviar.  It’s as southern as fried green tomatoes, boiled peanuts or sweet tea.  Fun fact: about 80% of all pimento cheese spreads are sold in the Southeast.

My mom always made Pimento Cheese spread sandwiches, on a Martin’s Potato Roll of course.  But I prefer to use it as a dip for chips, crackers or pretzels.

What I didn’t know about pimento cheese spread is how easy it is to make.  And, the ingredients themselves are usually stocked in my pantry.  Except for the pimentos.  I actually didn’t know that pimentos were peppers?! Pimento peppers have a sweet flavor and a very mild heat and are also known as cherry peppers because of their red color and round shape.  I love green olives stuffed with pimentos more than anyone else in the world.  As a kid, I even drank the juice straight from the bottle, and now my mouth is watering just thinking about green olives.  What I’m trying to say is that I have been eating pimentos all my life, how did I now know they were peppers?!

In a side by side comparison, this dips tastes nearly identical to the store bought spread.  It’s much cheaper if I make it myself and it’s perfect for parties.

A magical mix of tangy and sweet.

I used a milder Colby cheese for this particular recipe, but you could kick it up a notch with a sharp cheddar or toss in some feta.  It’s good as a sandwich spread or grilled cheese filling and equally as good served with crackers of fresh veggies.

Pimento Cheese Spread

1/2 cup mayonnaise

4 oz. jar of pimentos, drained and diced

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded Colby cheese

a sprinkle of onion powder

Mix mayonnaise, 1/2 of diced pimentos, onion powder, cheddar cheese and Colby cheese together.  I blended my spread for a few seconds in a food processor to thoroughly mix and to break down the cheese.  You don’t have to if you like it more chunky.  After blending, add in the remaining pimentos and serve.

This is perfect as a stand alone dip but equally delicious served on a grilled burger!

*To the best of my ability, I have tried to indicate all ingredients, products and equipment that are available at Johnnies in Bold Print.  

Fresh Blueberry Cobbler

By | Recipes | No Comments

I only have to walk about 50 feet out my back door to pick as many fresh blueberries as I can eat.  When we moved into our house, almost 15 years ago, we planted a few blueberry bushes.  I don’t always have a green thumb, but this time I did something right.  I try to pick the blueberries first thing in the morning, before it gets too hot because every year even more of the most delicious, fresh, organic blueberries.

The only real “maintenance” is trying to keep the birds from eating them too.  I guess they know a good thing when they see it.

I eat them by the handful and I freeze quite a few, but there’s usually enough leftover to make a fresh dessert or baked good of some kind.  This year I found a recipe for a blueberry cobbler.  It’s simple and, topped with ice cream, it is delicious.  (Probably because there’s a whole cup of sugar in the mix.). And if you’re not into blueberries, I see no reason why you couldn’t swap out the blueberries for raspberries or black berries.  

This would be a festive Fourth of July dessert!  Add in some raspberries and it’s a patriotic red, white and blue treat!

Fresh Blueberry Cobbler


For the dough:
    • 1  1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 1  1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 6 tablespoons chilled butter, grated
    • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sour cream
For the blueberry mixture:
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 cups blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Vanilla ice cream or Whipped Cream for serving


(For the dough)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add grated butter; using your fingertips, mixing until only small lumps remain. Gently mix in sour cream and knead until a biscuit-like dough forms.

(For the blueberry mixture)

Combine the flour, sugar, berries and lemon juice in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Pour into a medium sized skillet. Tear the biscuit dough into pieces and scatter over berries.  Don’t cover the blueberries entirely. Transfer the cobbler into the oven and bake until juices are thick and bubbling and topping is cooked through and golden brown, about 45-50 minutes. Let cool for at least 1 hour. Scoop ice cream or whipped cream on top and serve.  

*To the best of my ability, I have tried to indicate all ingredients, products and equipment that are available at Johnnies in Bold Print.  

Recipe found and adapted from


Grilled Romaine with a Homemade Honey Mustard Poppyseed Dressing

By | Recipes | No Comments

If you haven’t fired up your grill yet this season, get ready.

Stock the propane.  Buy some more charcoal.

But don’t be tricked.  We’re not cooking juicy steaks or burgers.  We’re not making sticky bbq ribs or Johnnie’s black Angus hot dogs.

We’re grilling up some romaine lettuce.

One of my favorite downtown restaurants features a grilled romaine salad.  The toppings may vary from season to season, but the base remains the same.  A warm, slightly charred head of romaine lettuce.

The process of grilling the romaine gives it a smoky flavor.  It is so unique and so delicious, especially when topped with this homemade dressing.

I hope we can agree on the fact that homemade salad dressing is unbelievably better than store bought bottled dressing.  (If not, how can we be friends?!)  Homemade dressings are usually pretty easy to throw together too.  So elevate your next picnic or bbq with something homemade.  A simple, homemade dressing can elevate the simplest (most boring) salad. (Another one of our family favorites, my honey mustard ranch dressing.  I swear I make a batch of this every week.)

Top your grilled romaine with the fruit of the season, strawberries!  And when the blueberries ripen, give them a try.  The sweetness of the berries will compliment the tangy dressing very well.  For good measure, I also added bacon and feta cheese.

Grilled Romaine with a Homemade Honey Mustard Poppyseed Dressing


  • 1 Head of Romaine, sliced in half lengthwise
  • olive oil
  • Canadian Style Steak Seasoning 
  • 3/4 cup olive oil (I used a mix of extra light tasting olive oil and extra virgin olive oil) or canola oil
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • feta cheese, bacon, strawberries……


  1. Preheat grill for medium heat. Drizzle olive oil over romaine lettuce and season with steak seasoning.  I used Canadian Style Steak Seasoning.
  2. Place lettuce cut side-down on preheated grill. Cook until lettuce is slightly wilted and charred, about 4 minutes. Watch it carefully, we want it slightly charred, not burned.  During the 4 minutes, I turned the lettuce and even flipped it over to ensure it was warm and evenly charred.
  3. Prepare dressing.  Place olive oil, vinegar, honey, salt, onion powder, and mustard in a blender; blend until well mixed. Stir poppy seeds into olive oil mixture.  I do think you need to mix this in a blender.  (I tried shaking it vigourously in a covered container first, but the ingredients didn’t mix together well.  They will separate after sitting.)
  4. Plate the grilled romaine.  Drizzle the dressing over the romaine and top with feta cheese, sliced strawberries and toasted walnuts.


*To the best of my ability, I have tried to indicate all ingredients, products and equipment that are available at Johnnies in Bold Print.  

Recipe found and adapted from

Chocolate Chip Cookies

By | Recipes | No Comments

School’s out for summer.  The kids have been set loose to play, to explore and to wreck havoc.  I make almost daily trips to the grocery store since there are more hungry mouths to feed.  If you have kids, or grandkids, around this summer.  They are going to be constantly hungry.  Always looking for a snack.  Believe me, they’re not reaching for the cut veggies or fresh fruit.  Not willingly anyway.  If you’re looking for a fool proof treat to bribe them into submission or chores, look no further.
My mom is the queen of chocolate chip cookies.  She has a great recipe, she’s been using it since I was in high school.  My friends love it, my kid’s friends love it.  I have the recipe.  I have tried, unsuccessfully, many times to make chocolate chip cookies per her recipe.  I just doesn’t work.  Hers are fluffy and soft.  Mine are flat and chewy.  Others have met the same fate.  Going so far as to use the exact brand of butter and flour that she uses.  But, it just doesn’t work.
So, I gave up.
The only kind of chocolate chip cookies that I will attempt to make is slice and bake.  (I can make delicious oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies, just not chocolate chip.  Even my husband can make better chocolate chip cookies from scratch than I can.)
As I am a glutton for punishment, sometimes I find a recipe and try again.  I came pretty close with Ina Garten’s once.  And then, I came across a recipe from the Joanna Gaines cookbook.  Chip and Joanna can do almost anything and they do it very well.  Everything they touch, turns to gold.
On the first try, these cookies turned out!
They were soft, chewy and picture perfect. Maybe it is because they recipes calls for less butter than most recipes or that it uses brown sugar instead of white.  Whatever the reason, I’m going to keep making them.
I must confess, they’re still not my mothers.  They are like an enigma, mysterious, puzzling and difficult to understand.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Yields approximately 40 cookies)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
heaping teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups packed light brown sugar
large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 to 1  1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer), beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the eggs and beat until blended. Add the vanilla and beat until blended.
Turn the mixer off and add the flour mixture to the bowl. Mix on medium just until the flour is mixed in, then turn the mixer to high speed for a few seconds to pull the dough together; it will be chunky. Add the chocolate chips and beat on high for about 5 seconds to thoroughly and quickly mix in the chips.
At this point, you could stop.  Eat the dough, by the spoonful.  Never telling anyone that you started to make chocolate chip cookies.  I know that you’re not supposed to eat the raw dough, but sometimes it’s so hard to resist!!
Drop by large spoonfuls (about a Tablespoon) on the lined baking sheet; don’t flatten them.  Even though I had a few bites of dough, I still ended up with 40 cookies.
Bake until lightly browned on top, 10 to 11 minutes.
Cool on the pan on a rack for 1 minute, then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

*To the best of my ability, I have tried to indicate all ingredients, products and equipment that are available at Johnnies in Bold Print.  

Recipe found and adapted from Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines cookbook.

The Perfect Porterhouse

By | Recipes | No Comments
Up until March of 2019, I don’t think that I’d ever had a porterhouse steak. I guess that I just missed it’s existence as I’m sure it’s been on a menu somewhere, sometime.  
I would have skipped right over it and picked one of my favorites, a tender filet or a seared New York strip.  
For some reason, I found a porterhouse steak in my freezer.  I didn’t know what to do with it.  So, I did what was natural in 2019, and turned to Pinterest for help.  There, I learned a little bit about the porterhouse.
The porterhouse is a large cut of beef that contains both the (New York) strip and the filet mignon cut (tenderloin), separated by a bone.  Duh, one steak containing both of my favorite types of steak.  How had I missed this before.
I found a recipe that started on the stovetop and finished in the oven.  My husband insisted I was making a mistake and wanted me to toss it on the grill.  But I stuck to my guns.  
I think it was the most perfect steak that I have ever made.  It was tender and juicy and yes, it was also dripping in garlic butter. Suddenly I was asking everyone if they’d had a porterhouse steak before.  (why did everyone I ask already know about this magical cut?).
And now, I share with you the perfect recipe for the perfect steak.
The Perfect Porterhouse 
  • 1 pound (16 ounce) porterhouse steak, roughly 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 12 sprigs, fresh rosemary (or dried rosemary or a seasoning of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil for searing 
  • kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 415° F. Remove porterhouse from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking, this is to bring the steak to room temperature and ensure your cooking times are more accurate. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper.
Add the oil to a cast iron skillet and turn up high, allow the skillet to become VERY hot. Place the porterhouse in the skillet and sear undisturbed for 2 minutes. Flip the porterhouse and sear the other side for an additional 2 minutes. This should give your porterhouse a nice crispy edge. Add butter, garlic, and rosemary (or seasoning of your choice) to the skillet and transfer directly to the oven.
For rare, bake 4-5 minutes. Medium rare, 5-6 minutes (until internal temp reaches 120° F). Medium 6-7 minutes. Remember, depending on the thickness of the steak, the more or less time it will take.  Remove steak from the skillet let rest on a cutting board for 5-10 minutes before serving. This is important to bring your steak to its final serving temperature. Baste with the garlic and rosemary butter from the skillet and serve.
Both times when I have prepared the porterhouse in this way, the filet has been so tender, like butter!  It truly is an easy way to prepare the steak and so, so good.  
Let me know if you give it a try!

*To the best of my ability, I have tried to indicate all ingredients, products and equipment that are available at Johnnies in Bold Print.  

Recipe found and adapted from

DIY Basting Oil with Herbs

By | Recipes | No Comments

Have you ever been to Wegman’s? Wegmans is much more than your average grocery store.  They have a bakery, a deli and a butcher.  But they also have a sushi counter, a cheese shop with up to 300 different types of specialty cheeses, a pizzeria, a coffee shop, an on site florist, a sit down restaurant, olive bar and a DIY nut butter section!  I love Wegmans.  

They have a lot of exclusive Wegman brand items and ingredients.  For instance,  one of my favorite things to stock up on each time I visit is their Basting Oil.  It’s an olive oil based “marinade” infused with dried (or fresh) herbs and garlic.  It’s great for so many things. But since the closet Wegman’s almost 60 miles away, here is a pretty decent dupe for you to DIY instead. Use it for marinating both meat and vegetables.  Use it as a dipping sauce for bread or brushetta.  Drizzle it on your pizza crust before adding all of the other toppings.  Mine disappears so fast because there’s just so many good reasons to use it.  Which is probably why you should double the recipe for this stuff!



Copycat Wegman’s Basting Oil 

1 cup Olive Oil (or sunflower oil)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1 teaspoon dried thyme

salt and pepper

Combine all of the ingredients and blend well.  I used fresh garlic.  If doing so, I recommend storing the oil in the refrigerator.  Shake well before each use. 


Drizzle it over vegetables before roasting or grilling…..

I think my cat wants some too!

Spread it on your pizza dough before topping with sauce and other ingredients…’s a link to my favorite, never fail, pizza dough.

Marinate your Johnnies’ chicken, steaks and/or seafood……shrimp, shrimp, shrimp, shrimp, shrimp…..

Toss it with pasta or noodles…… or use it as a dipping sauce for bread……

As you can see, it’s extremely versatile and can be used for so many things.  


*To the best of my ability, I have tried to indicate all ingredients, products and equipment that are available at Johnnies in Bold Print.  

Recipe found and adapted from