One of my favorite summer treats is juicy red ripe watermelon and sweet navel oranges drizzled with a thick and sweet balsamic glaze with a bit of Cotija cheese (Mexican Parmesan) sprinkled on top.  You can use ANY balsamic vinegar, but I like to use flavor infused (pear or coconut pineapple are my favorites) for a bit of extra flavor.

1 3/4 cups QUALITY balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar

  • In a small saucepan bring balsamic vinegar and apple cider vinegar to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, whisking often,  until reduced by half.
  • Whisk in sugar and bring back to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes, whisking often, until glaze coats the back of a spoon.
  • Cool before pouring into squeeze bottle or cruet. Will keep in refrigerator 2 months or so.


4 cups diced watermelon
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 SMALL jalapeno, seeded and minced
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 cup small diced red onion
1+ teaspoon sea salt, to taste

  • Combine everything but the watermelon and toss to mix well.
  • Gently fold in watermelon.
  • Chill and enjoy!



1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
the zest of one lemon
1 cup FRESH small wild blueberries or defrosted frozen berries

  • Combine  sugar, and salt in bowl.
  • Stir in melted butter, lemon zest, and vanilla extract.
  • Fold in blueberries.
  • Set aside while you prepare the dough.

1 1/4 cup whole milk, divided
4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar; divided
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon poppyseeds
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

  • Butter a cast iron baker or basking dish.
  • In a small heat proof bowl heat ¼ cup of the milk in the microwave until 110 degrees (about 15 to 20 seconds).
  • Stir in yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar and let sit until bubbly.
  • Mix together flour, baking powder, salt, poppy seeds and remaining 5 teaspoons of sugar together in large bowl.
  • Stir in 2 tablespoons butter, yeast mixture, and remaining 1 cup of milk until dough forms.
  • Transfer dough to a floured counter and knead until smooth ball forms, about 2 minutes.
  • Roll dough into a 12 by 9 inch rectangle, with long side parallel to counter edge.
  • Brush dough all over with 2 tablespoons melted butter, leaving ½-inch border on far edge.
  • Sprinkle dough evenly with filling, then press filling firmly into dough.
  • Loosen dough from counter and roll away from you into a tight log and pinch seam to seal.
  • Roll log seam side down and cut into 8 equal pieces.
  • Stand buns on end and gently re-form ends that were pinched during cutting.
  • Place 1 bun in center of prepared pan and others around perimeter of pan, seam sides facing in.
  • Brush the tops of the buns with remaining 2 tablespoons butter.
  • Cover buns loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • After rising, bake buns until edges are well browned, 23 to 25 minutes.

Loosen buns from sides of pan with paring knife and let cool for 5 minutes.

2 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons butter, softened
Juice of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
*More lemon zest for topping

  • Mix together softened cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  • Add lemon juice, confectioners sugar, vanilla, and salt and mix until combine.
  • Pour glaze evenly over tops of buns, spreading with spatula to cover.


This is an oldie, but goodie right out of the grandma archive of recipes. I bet most of you have the ingredients right in your pantry.  The pineapple cooks up through the cracker crumbs and bonds with the cheese creating a ‘stuffing’ like texture.

2 large cans crushed pineapple DO NOT DRAIN
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups Ritz cracker crumbs* (see note)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • In a small saucepan combine pineapple, juice and sugar, whisking until sugar is dissolved and pineapple is heated through. Remove from heat. Set aside.
  • In a small mixing bowl use a fork to combine cracker crumbs and melted butter until well combined. Set aside.
  • In baking dish or individual ramekins evenly layer the pineapple mixture.
  • Top that with an even layer of the cracker crumb mixture.
  • Evenly top with shredded cheese.
  • Top with nuts, if using.
  • Bake uncovered 20 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.

*NOTE: Keebler club crackers can be substituted, but it does alter the flavor a bit. You do need a cracker with a bit of a buttery flavor to them.


8-10 whole carrots or 5 large Granny Smith apples*(see note)
3/4 cup golden raisins
1 large can crushed pineapple, drained WELL
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons pineapple juice

  • Shred carrots into large mixing bowl. If using apples, peel, core and small chop.
  • Whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar and pineapple juice.
  • Fold in mayonnaise mixture, pineapple and raisins until well coated.
  • Chill several hours until ready to serve.


  • If using apples alone, be sure and toss them with lemon juice to prevent browning.
  • This also makes a good combination to use both carrots AND apples.


This was a Bobby Flay French toast recipe, but with a few changes, it’s now a cake!  You could still call it French toast and serve it for Brunch, but it’s yummy enough for dessert too!

APPLE PIE CAKE majorly altered and formerly known as APPLE CRISP FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE ala Bobby Flay

1 loaf day-old sourdough bread, crust removed, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • Preheat the oven to 275 °.
  • Spread the bread cubes on a large baking sheet and bake 20 minutes.
  • Let cool.
  • Adjust the oven to 350°.

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider, plus more for syrup if needed
Juice of 1 lemon
4 LARGE Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 tablespoons Coconut Rum
1/2 cup golden raisins

  • Combine the sugar, apple cider, lemon juice and coconut rum in a large saute pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Stir in the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and caramelized, about 15 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to a bowl (you don’t want the apples to be too wet) and let cool 10 minutes.
  • Reserve the apple cooking liquid for serving.
  • Fold in the golden raisins.

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup crushed walnut pieces

  • While the apples cool mix together the butter, salt and sugar in a large bowl until smooth.
  • Add the flour, oats. crushed nuts and cinnamon and mix until well combined.
  • Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Softened butter for greasing the baking dish
3 LARGE eggs
2 LARGE egg yolks
1 teaspoon  PURE vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons PURE maple syrup, for apple syrup
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces for syrup

  • Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with some softened butter.
  • Whisk the eggs, yolks, vanilla and cinnamon in a large bowl until smooth.
  • Whisk in the half-and-half, then fold in the cooled apples.
  • Add the bread and stir to coat, pressing down to make sure bread is totally submerged.
  • Let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the apple-bread mixture to the buttered 9×13 baking dish, pressing down to make sure the top is an even layer.
  • Scatter the streusel evenly over the top.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Uncover and continue baking until set, slightly puffed and lightly golden brown, another 30 minutes or so.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  • Reheat the reserved apple cooking liquid. (If very thin, simmer briefly over medium heat until reduced to a syrup; if there isn’t much, add some apple cider and simmer briefly.)
  • Turn the heat to low and whisk in the maple syrup and cold butter, piece by piece, until emulsified.
  • Pour syrup over each piece as you serve it.


I LOVE THIS RECIPE! It’s quick, easy and SUPER versatile using simple ingredients and ready in no time at all!

scant 1 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
1 cup small WILD blueberries**
5 cups FRESH Peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into large chop**

  • In a large saucepan whisk together the water, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch and cook 5-10 minutes over medium-high heat until mixture becomes thick.
 Stir constantly to prevent lumps in your mixture.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add vanilla and cinnamon whisking until smooth.
  • Allow to cool 5 minutes.
  • Fold in peach pieces and blueberries.
  • Allow the filling to cool down completely before filling the pie shell.


  • **You can use canned or frozen fruit though I really don’t recommend it, but if you do use it make sure they are thawed and drained REALLY WELL!
  • Other terrific flavor combinations are:
    Plum and Cherry
    Apricot blueberry
    Peach and Raspberry


This is another scrap of paper I found recently. I’m not even sure how old the recipe is LOL 😀 BUT, it was so flavorful and yummy!

1 cup flour
½ cups almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
¾ cup milk
½ cup QUALITY honey
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla
½ cup butter, divided, softened
1 cup PACKED brown sugar
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced in thick rings
¹⁄³ cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
2 eggs, room temperature

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and salt.
  • In another bowl whisk together the milk, honey and vanilla.
  • Place ¼ cup butter in 9×9 baking dish. Place pan in oven until butter melts.
  • Sprinkle ½ cup of the brown sugar over the butter.
  • Sprinkle the walnuts evenly over the sugar.
  • Lay apple slices over the walnuts just slightly overlapping the edges.
  • In a large bowl beat remaining butter until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  • Add remaining brown sugar, beating until smooth.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each.
  • Alternately add milk and flour mixture until combined.
  • Spread batter evenly over apples.
  • Bake 35-40 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool in pan 5 minutes on wire rack.
  • Use a knife to loosen the edges around the pan.
  • Invert onto plate. Let stand 15 minutes before serving, but serve warm for BEST flavor.


2 pounds carrots, baby or 2 large carrots cut into 1 inch pieces
6 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/4 cup QUALITY honey
1 tablespoon Whiskey
1 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Sprinkle of paprika

  • Spray crock pot insert with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Layer carrots on bottom of crock pot.
  • Add apple slices over carrots.
  • Sprinkle with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Whisk together the honey, whiskey and molasses.
  • Drizzle honey mixture over top.
  • Randomly place butter chunks.
  • Cover and cook on low 3-3 1/2 hours or until carrots are fork tender.


This recipe stems from my grandmother’s ancient file.  It was not a well written recipe so I’ve “interpreted” it into what I like 😀

2 LARGE (15 ½ ounce) cans crushed pineapple, drained WELL juice reserved**
¼ cup sugar
1 LARGE egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons WONDRA flour
pinch of salt
1 cup mini marshmallows, halved
½ cut chopped nuts
1 LARGE banana, diced

  • In a large saucepan whisk together the sugar, egg, flour and salt, until well blended.
  • Add  reserved juice (2 cups), cooking on medium low heat until thick.
  • Fold in fruit pieces, banana pieces, marshmallow and nuts.
  • Chill until cold.
  • Keep refrigerated.


  • I sometimes substitute a LARGE can of mandarin oranges for one of the cans of pineapple.  When I do, I cut the orange segments into 2-3 pieces each.
  • I’ve seen this made with a few Maraschino cherries during the holidays to add color.


This is one of the simplest and most flavorful ways to use end of the season garden tomatoes!

2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or other flavor of your choice)
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1-2 tablespoons sugar

  • Sprinkle tomatoes with sugar and toss.
  • Sprinkle again with FRESH ground salt and pepper and toss to mix.
  • Pour vinegar over and toss to mix.
  • Chill.


BLUEBERRY-ORANGE JAM yields about 12 half-pints
8 cups crushed blueberries
2 large oranges, zested – 1 juiced and 1 chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup orange juice
1-2 tablespoons orange zest
8 cups sugar
1 pouch liquid pectin
1 tablespoon butter

  • Heat large dutch oven with berries, chopped oranges, orange juice and sugar, stirring until sugar is completely absorbed.
  • Simmer 10 minutes until sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Add orange zest and bring to a ROLLING boil.
  • Add pectin and boil 5 minutes more.
  • Add butter and stir down boil and froth.
  • Ladle into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
  • Clean tops and add seal.
  • Screw rings down over seals as tight as you can.
  • Water bath in boiling water 15 minutes.
  • Invert jars onto a towel and allow to cool.