This ain’t no easy bake oven coffee cake

I was in a bit of a panic (ok, I won’t lie…a major panic) a few months ago. My favorite coffee cake mix was no where…I mean no where … be found at the grocery store. What mix, you ask?  Well, Aunt Jemima’s Easy Mix Coffee Cake, that’s what.

Aunt Jemima Easy Mix Coffee Cake

I use to make this with my mom when I was a little girl.  It comes with a clear disposable bag that already has the baking/flour mixture in it. You just add an egg and milk and then squeeze it all up…get your groove thing on! My sisters and I use to fight over who got to do the squeezing when we were pipsqueaks….”no, you did it last time, it’s my turn now, MOM!!!!!” Ah, bless my mom’s sweet soul for putting up with us heathen little girls. We use to play this game called “mommy can’t see us”….master-minded by my older sister, of course. We would “sneak” into the kitchen when mom wasn’t looking and move stuff around on her, for example, take a spoon she was using….she’d turn around to go grab the spoon and it would be gone…or in another spot….or would magically re-appear on a different day. We thought the game was so much fun. Our mom, on the other hand, thought we either had a ghost in the house or she was losing her marbles!  You could just see the RELIEF on her face when we told her about the game years later (as adults).

Alright, I got off subject (not uncommon). Once you get the mix all squeezed up, you then pour it into a little cardboard tray. Yep, that’s right…I said a cardboard tray……but don’t let that fool you, this ain’t no “easy bake oven” coffee cake people! It’s the best coffee cake ever! You then top it with the cinnamon crumb mixture and bake it. Simple, easy, and oh-so-delicious.

I carried the Aunt Jemima coffee cake-makin’ tradition on with my daughters.  They are now teenagers…but they still love their Aunt Jemima coffee cake and plan to carry the tradition on with their kids (hopefully not in the too near future). Which is why, I was in a complete panic when I didn’t see it in its normal spot at the grocery store…AAGGGGHHHHH!

But never fear, there is this amazing place called….. AMAZON….where I found you can purchase it by the case (12 boxes for only $31)!!! Holy crap…I am in heaven.

I also found another great website (Hometown Favorites-check it out, very cool) where you can purchase it individually for $2.49 each:

<SIGH> Tragedy prevented.

At this point, I will apologize if you are reading this expecting some awesome from-scratch coffee cake recipe….because, well, you aren’t getting it! Until next time….


Feelin’ hot hot hot (honey jalapeno wings hot)

I just succumbed and finally turned the air condition on for the first time this year. Don’t ask me why, but every year I TRY to make it until June 1 with no air condition. Insane, complete torture for someone (aka me) who absolutely despises heat and humidity. I just couldn’t take it any longer. I was sitting here feeling as if I could pinch someone’s head off…and decided enough is enough.  It’s only been a few minutes but I already feel better, happier, a smile has returned to my face. Life is good.

I’m not much of a summer person (more of a Fall/Spring type of gal). I mean I don’t mind heat if I’m floating on a raft in a pool, or laying on a beach, or sailing on Lake Michigan with Captain Kelley (aka my brother-in-law)….but other than that, I just feel very uncomfortable when it gets above 80 degrees. So, yes, one can safely assume that this chickadee will not be retiring to Florida. Never in a million years!

Speaking of feeling  HOT, this brings me to my Honey Jalapeno Wings recipe.  I won the Cook On, Columbus contest with this baby…..the one and only contest I have ever entered! My good friend Paula sent me the information about the contest and told me “I must” enter a recipe.  This was mere weeks before the grand opening of my business and I was in crazy, chaotic, super busy mode and this contest was not at the top of my list of things to do….needless to say, there I was, about a half hour before the contest deadline…perched in front of my laptop, thinking hmmmm? What recipe should I enter? The clock kept ticking and with only minutes to spare, I said the heck with it, and entered my honey jalapeno wings recipe. I NEVER thought I had a chance of winning with chicken wings! I received a phone call a few weeks later. …Surprise! You won the Cook On, Columbus contest! I was speechless.

A little history on the recipe…I created this a few years ago while visiting my sister…we were planning our game day feast ….our beloved Ohio State Buckeyes were playing in the national championship with LSU. Unfortunately, the game didn’t turn out so well….but my wings, they rocked and are in demand at many a football parties!


Servings: 6


24 chicken wings, separated at joints, tips discarded

1 (18 ounce) honey barbecue sauce (preferably Sweet Baby Ray’s or another thick, dark bbq sauce)

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

3  jalapeno peppers, chopped  (do not discard seeds-unless you are a spice wuss) 

4 dashes liquid smoke flavoring

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (or 1 tsp ground ginger)

3 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

3 tablespoons horseradish


1. Place chopped jalapenos and worcestershire sauce in a food processor or blender and puree them together. Note: if you don’t have a food processor or blender, you can finely chop the jalapenos (make sure to use gloves)!

2. In  a medium sauce pan, mix together the jalapeno/worcestershire sauce mixture, bbq sauce, honey, liquid smoke, ginger, garlic, pepper, and horseradish.  Simmer 1 hour over low heat, stirring occasionally.

3. Place chicken wings in a large bowl and coat with 1/2 of the sauce (refrigerate remaining sauce).  Cover and refrigerate wings for 4-6 hours.

4. Preheat the grill for low heat.

5. Lightly oil the grate. Discard marinade. Place chicken wings on the grill. Cook on low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning occasionally, until juices run clear. Place cooked wings in a large bowl or pan and coat with remaining sauce. Note: you can also place in a crockpot on low setting if serving at a party.

Note: To fry or bake the wings, just skip step 3. Fry or bake and then coat with sauce.

This recipe is also great on chicken breasts, ribs, pork chops. You can reduce the spice-factor by reducing the number of jalapenos and seeding them. You can also up the spice-factor by adding more jalapenos…if you’re real brave, you can also try to add a habanero or two! Enjoy!

Honey Jalapeno Wings

Hello world/Eggplant Parmesan

Hello! Welcome to my first blog!!! So exciting!

My first recipe post:  Eggplant Parmesan Bake

Eggplant (aka the big purple monsters)
 I find it funny that my first recipe is a vegetarian dish…because I am the ultimate steak lover! However, I do have quite a few vegetarian recipes that I love….and one of those is Eggplant Parmesan. I love eggplant! I love it’s dark purple color! I love the song Purple Rain by Prince! !  Ok, see what I mean, that was random !If you haven’t had eggplant before, you have to try it. I know the big purple monsters are intimidating! I mean seriously…to look at them, it’s like, what the heck do I do with this thing!? Therefore, it doesn’t really surprise me to find out how many people have never tried eggplant. When I was checking out at the grocery store this evening, the cashier asked me “is eggplant good?”…turns out she is a vegetarian who has never tried eggplant. So I told her all about it…Retro Dinner Diva convert No. 1. Yeah!
So, back to eggplant. One thing you will often hear about eggplant is that you need to “salt”  or “sweat” it prior to cooking in order to remove the bitterness. I’ll be honest with you, I never do this…maybe because I am a super impatient person or maybe because it seems to taste fine to me without that whole process, but my taste buds may be screwed up, who knows?! I will include the salting process in my recipe and leave it up to you as to whether or not to skip the step! 
Recipe: Easy Eggplant Parmesan Bake
1 eggplant, cut into 3/4 inch slices (note: you can also cut the eggplant “lengthwise” depending on the size of your baking dish)
1-1/2 tablespoons, salt (or sea salt)
4 tablespoons, olive oil
1 teaspoon, minced garlic
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups, italian-seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup, shredded parmesan cheese (split)
2 cups, mozzarella cheese
26 oz., spaghetti/marinara sauce of your choice (or homemade marinara sauce, recipe below)
Layering the eggplant parmesan bake
1. Sprinkle both sides of the eggplant with salt and place slices in a colander. Place a dish underneath the colander in order to capture the liquid that will “sweat” out of the eggplant. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
 2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine bread crumbs and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (set aside remaining 1/2 cup). In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Set aside.
3. Rinse the eggplant in cold water until all salt is removed.
4. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and minced garlic over medium heat.
5. Dip eggplant slices in eggs, then bread crumb mixture and place in skillet. Brown on each side. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices and add more olive oil if necessary.
6. In a small baking dish, evenly spread 3/4 cup of spaghetti sauce. Arrange a single layer of eggplant on top of sauce. Top with 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, 3/4 cup sauce, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Repeat 2 more times ending with remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.
7. Bake 45 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and eggplant is tender.
Yummmmm, baked bubbly goodness…..
Eggplant Parmesan Bake
If you have some spare time, here is a phenomenal recipe for a homemade marinara sauce courtesy of I love If you don’t have time, just use your favorite spaghetti sauce or marinara sauce…I prefer Prego’s Three Cheese spaghetti sauce for those busy nights.
Recipe: Best Marinara Sauce Yet
Servings: 3-4
1 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
3 ounce, tomato paste
2 tablespoons, fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon, minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon, dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon, salt
1/8 teaspoon, pepper
3 tablespoons, olive oil
1/4 onion, finely diced
1/4 cup, white wine
 1. In a food processor, place tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, minced garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the onions with olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the blended tomato sauce and white wine.
3. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
I hope you enjoy! Eggplant parmesan rocks!