There is a series of books by Jana DeLeon called the Miss Fortune series. Personally, I’m on book #26, but in each book pf the series there is a comedic banana pudding race between the Catholics and the Baptists when church lets out each Sunday. I’d had banana pudding before reading the series, but hadn’t had the desire to perfect it before this recipe. Banana pudding makes my heart sing as it is a perfect dessert that speaks to just about everyone no matter the venue you’re serving it in.

Cheesecake is traditionally round like many cakes and pies, but I HATE the shape and use my square springform pan to make it easier to cut and serve.

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract

  • In a large bowl beat cream cheese until fluffy and completely smooth with NO clumps.
    Add sugar and beat until combined.
    Add heavy cream and vanilla and beat until medium-stiff peaks form. Set aside.

3.4 ounce package instant banana pudding mix
1 cup whole milk

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together pudding mix and milk.
  • Let pudding stand for 3 minutes in the fridge until thickened.
  • Fold into cheesecake mixture until combined.

1 prepared graham cracker crust
3 bananas, sliced, plus more slices for garnish
30 Nilla Wafers

  • Pour half the filling into graham cracker crust.
  • Add a single layer of thick sliced bananas.
  • Top with about 20 Nilla Wafers in a single layer.
  • Pour remaining cheesecake mixture over top and smooth top.
  • Refrigerate until cheesecake is firm, at least 6 hours and up to overnight. (If the cheesecake stills feels too soft to slice, transfer to the freezer for up to 1 hour.)

Whipped topping, for garnish (homemade or store bought)
Crushed Nilla Wafers, for garnish

  • Before serving, top with dollops of whipped topping around the border of the cheesecake.
  • Top each dollop with a banana slice and Nilla wafer.
  • Garnish the whole cheesecake with crushed Nilla Wafers.


2 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2/3 cup dried cherry pieces or crasins
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup AP flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
1 tablespoon milk

  • Preheat oven 375°.
  • Lightly grease 15 x 10 baking sheet.
  • In a large bowl toss apple slices with flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Unfold one sheet of the puff pastry, roll and stretch to fit pan.
  • Spread filling over pastry to within and inch of the edge.
  • Unfold the second sheet of puff pastry, rolling and stretching over the top.
  • Moisten the edges of the bottom sheet with the milk and gently press edges together, sealing the pastry.
  • Slit several air vents in the top crust.
  • Brush the top with the remaining milk and sprinkle with sanding sugar.
  • Bake 50-60 minutes until filling is bubbly and pastry is puffed, golden and is flaky.

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon PURE vanilla
4 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup ground walnuts, for sprinkling

  • Whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk to desired consistency for drizzling.
  • Drizzle over warm pie and then cool completely before slicing.

NOTE: substituting lemon juice for the milk in the glaze makes a nice tangy bite.


This recipe SCREAMS summer, but with the availability of watermelon year round these days we eat it ALL the time.


4 cups watermelon balls
2 cups grape or cherry tomato halves
1 1/2 cups Mozzarella balls
1 small shallot, diced
1/2 cup basil chiffonades
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1 LARGE lemon
1 tablespoon sugar
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste

  • Combine watermelon balls, tomato pieces, shallots and mozzarella balls in a large bowl.
  • Whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, sea salt and black pepper.
  • Pour marinade over watermelon mixture.
  • Fold in basil chiffonades.
  • Chill 1 hour before serving.


Whether you need a brunch or potluck dish, this streusel topped Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake is the perfect choice!


  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray a 10″ Springform pan with non-stick spray.

½ cup butter, melted
1 ½ cups AP flour
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla

  • In a medium bowl, combine melted butter, flour, sugar and vanilla until crumbly. Set aside.

¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup canola oil
1 cup granulated sugar
2 LARGE eggs
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla
1 cup vanilla bean yogurt or sour cream
Juice of 1 LARGE lemon
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh or frozen small wild blueberries (see note)

  • In a large bowl, whisk together butter, oil and sugar for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs, vanilla, yogurt, lemon juice and zest and whisk until combined.
  • Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir just until combined.
  • Stir in blueberries and set aside.

FILLING optional
8 ounces cream cheese
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 LARGE egg
zest from one lemon

  • With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and lemon zest until smooth.

GLAZE optional
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • Whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice


  • Spread ½ of the cake batter into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  • Spread cream cheese filling in the center, staying away from the edge of the pan as much as possible.

  • Top with remaining cake batter and spread to cover as much of the cream cheese filling as possible.

  • Sprinkle the crumb topping over top.

  • Bake at 350 for 60-70 minutes, or until center is set and DOES NOT jiggle when moved. You don’t want an unbaked center! and it could take up to 80 minutes.
  • Let cake cool to room temperature before drizzling the glaze over top.
  • Serve.


  • Frozen blueberries will release more moisture as they bake, so you may want to reduce the oil to 2 tablespoons if using frozen berries.
  • Both the cheesecake filling and the glaze are optional – just depends on how much sweetness and decadence you want for the occasion.


2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup COLD butter, cut into cubes
1 LARGE egg, separated
2/3 cup COLD water
1 cup cornflakes
8 LARGE apples, peeled cored and sliced (10 cups) (see note)
Juice of 1 LARGE lemon
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons QUALITY cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon FRESH ground nutmeg

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Stir together flour and salt in a large bowl.
  • With a pastry blender cut butter into flour until coarse crumbs.
  • Beat egg white in a small bowl until frothy. Set aside.
  • Beat egg yolk in another small bowl. Add water whisking to blend.
  • Gradually add egg yolk mixture into the flour mixture until dough can be packed into a ball.
  • Divide ball into halves.
  • On a lightly floured surface roll half the dough into a 10-14 rectangle.
  • Transfer dough to a shallow 9×13 baking sheet, pressing into shape.
  • Sprinkle cornflakes evenly over crust.
  • Toss apples with lemon juice and then drain well.
  • Toss apples with sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Scatter apples evenly over cornflakes.
  • Roll remaining dough into a similar rectangle and lay over top of apples, tucking in the edges to seal.
  • Brush top with beaten egg white.
  • Bake 1 hour until golden brown and apples are tender.

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon WHOLE milk
1/2 teaspoon PURE vanilla or almond extract

  • Whisk ingredients together until smooth.
  • Brush over warm crust.
  • Cool COMPLETELY in pan on wire rack before cutting into pieces.


  • If using frozen apples, thaw and drain well. Toss with 4 tablespoons of flour before adding the cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • You can easily substitute quick cooking oats for the cornflakes.
  • You can heat each slice for a few seconds in the microwave and add a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream for a treat.


We live in blackberry country and have a blackberry festival every year. You can find recipes for all things blackberry abound this time of year. A neighbor shared these bars and recipe with me and I instantly fell in love.



2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup EXTRA FINE sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Grease a 9×13 baking pan.
  • Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.
  • Cut butter in with a pastry blender until the butter is evenly distributed and mixture is crumbly.
  • Reserve 1 1/2 cups for topping.
  • Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake 12 minutes.
  • Cool 10-15 minutes.


4 LARGE eggs
2 cups EXTRA FINE sugar
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup flour
pinch salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon PURE almond extract
32 ounces FRESH or frozen blackberries, thawed and drained well

  • Whisk eggs in a large bowl until smooth.
  • Add sugar, sour cream, flour, salt, lemon zest and almond extract, mixing until well blended.
  • Gently fold in berries and spoon the mixture evenly over the crust.
  • Crumble remaining crust mixture evenly over the berry layer.
  • Bake 45-55 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Cool COMPLETELY before cutting.


  • These are VERY thick bars and baking time may vary depending on the fruit you use.
  • These bars work wonderfully with all flavors of fruit. Cherry and peach are excellent! Cranberry is wonderful at this time of year also. I like to mix a few blueberries and strawberries into the cranberries for a little extra sweetness.
  • I HIGHLY recommend non-seeded fruits.
  • If you like THICK crusts, double your crust and topping ingredients – just sayin’ 😀


2 LARGE cans pineapple chunks, drained – save juice for a cocktail 😀
1 LARGE can crushed pineapple, also drained reserving 1/4 cup of juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 sleeve RITZ crackers, crushed
1/4 cup butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Lightly spray 2 quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl combine sugar, flour, salt, cheeses, pineapple, most of both cheeses and reserved juice until well mixed.
  • Add crushed crackers to melted butter and mix well before folding into pineapple mixture.
  • Pour into prepared baking dish.
  • Top with remaining cheese.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes until golden and bubbly.
  • Serve warm.


This is one of those go to granny recipes that every southern lady has made for eons. Always reliable and works with any fruit or fruit combination.

2 cups Bisquick baking mix
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
1 JUMBO egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 cups chopped or sliced FRESH fruit

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Grease 9 inch baking dish.
  • Whisk together the bisquick baking mix, sugar and cinnamon.
  • Add melted butter and egg, stirring JUST until incorporated.
  • Spread two-thirds of dough into baking dish.
  • Arrange fruit pieces over dough.

1/3 cup PACKED brown sugar

  • Add brown sugar to remaining dough until crumbly.
  • Crumble Over fruit.
  • Bake 30 minutes or until fruit is tender and top is crispy and golden.


This recipe has 2 choices for dressing depending on your mood 😀 One is creamy and the other more citrusy and tart.


2-3 cups rotisserie chicken pieces**
2 cups torn Napa cabbage
2-3 cups torn romaine lettuce
2 cups chopped and sliced strawberries
1 LARGE orange, peeled and chopped large

1 LARGE bunch green onions, sliced
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste

  • Place lettuce on a platter and top with the chicken pieces, strawberries, onions and orange pieces OR toss all together based on your preference.

1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons Duke’s mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon QUALITY honey
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Drizzle dressing over salad and serve immediately.

1 tablespoon unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1/2 – 3/4 cup avocado oil
3 tablespoons FRESH lemon juice (2 medium lemons)
3 tablespoons FRESH orange juice (1 LARGE orange, mandarin orange juice from above or a combination of both)
1 tablespoon QUALITY honey
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 clove garlic, FINELY minced

  • Whisk together all ingredients until well-combined and emulsified.
  • Store in the refrigerator no longer than 3 days since it contains fresh garlic.

NOTES: During the summer it’s tasty to change up the rotisserie chicken pieces for grilled chicken breast pieces.


An older gentleman from the Eagles was having a BIG birthday (85) and is of that age where he says if he can’t eat it, he doesn’t want it for gifts. I asked him what his favorite cake was and he said cherry cake like his mom and wife used to make. Well, I didn’t have a cherry cake recipe in my bag of tricks so I set out to try and replicate what he described. Let’s just say he was VERY HAPPY with this 😀

The day I made this also coincided with my cousin’s birthday. She passed away in 1998, but every year since, her sister and I have baked her a cake in tribute. We then share the pictures with each other from afar. So, this cake was also for Michelle this year!


3 LARGE eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup avocado oil
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon PURE vanilla
1 pinch sea salt
1 can COMSTOCK cherry pie filling
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon QUALITY ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°. 

  • Add eggs, sugar, oil, flour, baking powder, vanilla and salt to a large mixing bowl. Mix with hand beater 2 minutes until well blended.
  • Spread 2/3 of the batter into a greased 13×9-inch baking pan. 

  • Spread cherry pie filling on top of batter.
  • Drop the remaining batter by spoonfuls on top of the pie filling layer. 

  • Stir together the sugar and the cinnamon.
  • Sprinkle over top of cake.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes until cooked through and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  • Lightly glaze if desired.
 I used a cream cheese glaze.
  • Serve warm or cooled.



1 + 2 + 1 tablespoon butter
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
4 chicken breasts
1/4 up almond flour
1 bunch green onions, sliced
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon FRESH thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 LARGE Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and diced
Juice of 1 LARGE lemon
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter in ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat.
  • Add carrot chunks in a single layer cooking 6-8 minutes, turning as necessary until all sides are charred.
  • Transfer pan to oven and roast 30 minutes or until caramelized and tender.
  • Add 2 more tablespoons butter to pan.
  • Generously season chicken with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Add chicken to hot butter and sear 3-4 minutes on both sides.
  • Transfer chicken to carrot pan in the oven to bake 10 minutes while you prepare the vinaigrette.
  • Add remaining butter to pan.
  • When melted add green onions, chili flakes, apple pieces, sugar and thyme leaves sauteing t minutes until apples are tender.
  • Add lemon juice and vinegar, stir to coat and cooking 2-3 minutes more until most of the liquid is absorbed.
  • Plate chicken and carrots.
  • Spoon apples and sauce over carrots and chicken.


Cranberry orange bread is a go to fall favorite for us with its FRESH cranberries and sweet orange glaze. It also makes a wonderful neighbor gift during holiday times.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups sugar
Zest of 2 LARGE oranges
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup neutral oil
4 LARGE eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons FRESH orange juice
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract (see notes)
2 cups FRESH cranberries, halved
½ cup chopped walnuts (Optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray two 9×5 loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl add sugar and orange zest, stirring well to combine.
  • Add flour, salt, and baking powder, stirring to combine.  Set aside.
  • In a separate medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, orange juice, and vanilla.
  • Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined.
  • Fold in the halved cranberries and walnuts if using.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans.


  • For regular sized loaf pans, bake for 60 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Let cool completely on wire rack.
  • For mini loaves, bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and set on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides of the bread with a knife.
  • For muffins, bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Let cool completely on wire rack.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons FRESH orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
Powdered sugar, for dusting (Optional)

  • In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest.
  • Whisk until smooth.
  • Drizzle the glaze over the bread.
  • Dust with the powdered sugar if desired.


  • If your loaf starts to get too brown during cooking, place a piece of aluminum foil over the top to finish baking. 
  • I make my own vanilla so often have great complimentary flavors. This batch was made with a coconut pineapple vanilla.

STORING – Wrap in plastic wrap and store 2-3 days at room temperature.

FREEZING – This cranberry bread freezes beautifully.  Cool completely, Wrap well in plastic and ziploc bag.  Freeze for up to 3 months.  Thaw at room temperature.