One-Serving Apple Pie Ice Cream

I genuinely enjoy cooking. But just because I like it doesn’t mean that I always have time to whip up every recipe. Especially when it comes to dessert. Plus, when cooking for one, an entire cake or a dozen cookies start to look like a lot. Still, there are nights (or afternoons) when I just want something sweet and a little special. Those nights are where recipes like this apple pie ice cream topping come in handy.

Fast, easy, and delicious, I would eat this all year long.


Half of a medium sized apple (any variety you like)

Lemon juice




Apple juice

Ice cream


Knife and cutting surface



Ice cream scoop or large spoon



Dice your apple into one-inch pieces. They don’t have to be exact, you just want small, roughly even pieces. Add lemon juice as you go to prevent oxidation.

P1130069.jpgOnce you have the apple chopped, heat up a generous amount of butter in your skillet. You want to coat the bottom thoroughly. Margarine or sunflower seed oil would probably work here in a pinch, but the butter makes it so delicious in the end. I also splashed in a touch of apple juice for a little liquid and flavor. This isn’t necessary, however.

Now add the apple pieces to the hot skillet with lots of cinnamon. No measurement needed, just keep sprinkling cinnamon until you think it looks good. Then add about one tablespoon of sugar. Again, this doesn’t have to be exact, just eyeball it. I used regular white sugar, but brown sugar is fine as well.P1130070.jpg

Cook the apples on medium heat until they start to get soft. The butter and sugar will mix with every thing and begin to form a sort of caramel-like sauce. This is a very good thing. If it starts to bubble, however, turn your heat down some.

P1130072.jpgServe the cooked apples over a scoop of ice cream. Vanilla works fine, but I opted for walnut, and it was amazing. Get creative with what flavor combos you want.

P1130075.jpgClean up note: All of that delicious caramel sauce can become a clean up nightmare. To avoid, soak your pan immediately after you are finished and clean it as soon as it is cool enough. Then you should avoid any sticky mess.

If you are pressed for time or don’t have a stove: You can put the apple chunks, butter, sugar, and cinnamon in the microwave for a minute or a minute thirty seconds. You don’t get as swell of a caramel sauce, but it is still yummy and very very fast.

Apple Pie Ice Cream


Boston Cream Pie Cookies

Every year my mother hosts a Super Bowl party. The menu is always based on the two teams in the Super Bowl. This year, for the Boston Patriots, she wanted to make Boston cream pie cookies.

We had a little help this year. Kelly, our neighbor moved to Boston a few years ago for school and was back in Texas for a visit. The winter weather up north stranded her at the airport, so she came to stay at our house. Her real-Bostonian insights helped make our cookies authentic.

Boston Cream Pie Cookies


Two tubes of refrigerated sugar cookie dough

8 oz cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

a bit of vanilla

Chocolate icing


Step one

Bake the sugar cookies according to the package directions. You’re going to make them into sandwiches later though, so slice them a little thin. cookies

Step two

Cream together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until you have a smooth mixture once the cookies have cooled, smear some cream cheese mixture on half of the cookies and make sandwiches.Cookie sandwiches

Step three

Now it is time for the chocolate icing. You can either use your favorite recipe or add a little milk to a store-bought container to get a creamier consistency. Then just spread it on top of your little cookie sandwiches and you’re all finished

I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as we did! They were delicious and a huge hit at the party! They represented the Super Bowl winning Patriots well.

John Wayne Casserole

I’ve made this casserole several times now, and it is always a hit. Named after western film star, John Wayne, it is reminiscent of chuck wagon food. It is great for groups of meat and cheese lovers. It seems every time that I make it a little differently. I have managed to stretch one pound of meat and one tomato into a decent casserole when supplies were running low. Recently, however, my mother had the idea to change the original two pounds of beef into one pound pork and one pound beef. That was the winning combo.

The trickiest part of preparing this casserole is the layers. To start with, mix your two cups of Bisquick with one cup water until dough forms. Spread that in the bottom of the pan. Don’t worry if it is thin in places or doesn’t reach the edges. Once it rises, everything will be smoothed out.biscuit doughNext, add in everything you’ve sautéed. If you mixed your meat, peppers, and onions, add them together. If, like me, you didn’t have enough room in your pan, add the meat first, then the peppers and onions.meatpeppers and onionsNow layer on your beautiful sliced tomatoes.tomatoesYou want to add the sour crème mixture now. It will make everything all creaming and delicious. Then top with shredded cheese and bake!cream mixturecheese

‘John Wayne Casserole’

Source: Adapted from Mississippi Magazine


1 pound ground beef, cooked and drained

1 pound ground pork, browned

1 (1.25-ounce) packet taco seasoning or cumin, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder

4 ounces sour cream

4 ounces mayonnaise

8 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded and divided

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cups Bisquick

1 cup of water

2 tomatoes, sliced

1 green bell pepper, chopped


  1. Heat oven to 325. Brown ground beef and pork and add taco seasoning, set aside.
  1. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, 4 ounces of cheddar cheese, and half of the onions; set aside.
  1. Stir Bisquick and water together to form soft dough. Pat dough on the bottom and one-half-inch up the sides of an 9 x 13 in greased casserole dish.
  1. Saute remaining onions and bell peppers until slightly tender.
  1. On top of biscuit mix, evenly distribute ingredients in the following order: ground beef, tomato slices, green peppers, onions, jalapeno peppers, sour cream mixture and end with remaining shredded cheese.
  1. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until edges of dough are lightly browned.

There you have it: a yummy casserole for the cowboys and girls in your life.

Southern Comfort Food: Tomato Pie

I know September marks the beginning of fall, but it sure still feels like summer around here, and over the summer I discovered an amazing new recipe for when the sun is out, but you still need some good old-fashioned comfort food. Combining the taste of fresh tomatoes, ooey-gooey cheesiness, and a piecrust, tomato pie is just what the doctor ordered on a hot September day. As an added bonus, it is super simple to make, with ingredients that you probably have on hand. Once you are finished, it serves about four as a main course along with some kind of side. I would suggest another southern vegetable, like green beans, as a good compliment. However, tomato pie is also served as an appetizer, so if you decide to cut it into smaller pieces and serve it before a meal, you could probably serve 8-10 with one pie. Either way, pull out you iced tea glasses and kick back, because you’re in for a treat.

My finished pie. So yummy.

My finished pie. So yummy.

Here’s the recipe I found at


  • 3 medium sized tomatoes
  • 6 large fresh basil leaves (if you don’t have fresh, use 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 +1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup mayo
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pie crust, baked but not browned


  1. Cut tomatoes into slices.
  2. Place in colander and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon table salt. Allow to drain for ten minutes (can skip this step if you like).
  3. Arrange 1/2 of tomato slices in baked pie crust. Top with 1/2 of kosher salt, 1/2 of pepper, 1/2 of basil, 1/2 of vinegar, and 1/2 of cheese.
  4. Repeat.
  5. Spread mayo over top of pie. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Making a Julia Child Recipe

IMG_20140714_174615After reading My Life in France, I was on a Julia Child kick. I decided that I should attempt one of her recipes. My mother owns two of her cookbooks, so I set to work scanning through each one for a recipe. Most of the recipes were pretty clearly over my head, but I found a relatively simple one for Hamburgers a la Française with Sauce Bordelaise. Clearly I still needed a side dish, so I chose White Beans with Herbs. It turns out that it takes forever to cook dry beans. I followed the instructions and boiled them for exactly two minutes and then let them soak for an hour before simmering them for almost two hours. At that point they were just barely cooked, but had enough butter and herbs in them to be pretty tasty.

My main dish didn’t take as long, but was a lot more work. To begin with, the sauce called for four inches of bone marrow. I was very concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find any bone marrow at my local grocery store, but all I had to do was ask at the meat counter. They cut me as much bone as I needed. The meat counter was not the end of the bone marrow struggle, however. My instructions were to use a cleaver to cut the bone in half and remove the marrow in one piece. bone marrow I don’t know what kind of super woman Julia Child was, but there was no way I could cut through this bone with a meat cleaver. I ended up using a spoon and an icepick to dig out all of the marrow from the center of the bone, removing any need to chop it.

I assembled the ingredients for my patties and set to work. Mixing the beef and the egg together with my hands was pretty nasty, but the mess washed off. Once my patties were done and removed to a “hot platter”, I added chopped green onions to my pan and poured in my previously boiled wine and bullion mixture with my hard-earned bone marrow. Once my liquid had reduced in my juicy, fatty pan by about half I added the cornstarch and water. I’m not sure how hot my pan was supposed to be for this, but my cornstarch stayed kind of clumpy. I was too exhausted and hungry by this point to worry too much, and it tasted fine. Finally my burgers and sauce were complete and I could serve them. It was after 8:00, so my family was a bit hungry. We ate the burgers on big iceberg lettuce leaves while the beans finished cooking. They were delicious. The spices and wine sauce mixed so well together. I was quite happy with the result. If I ever attempt to make them again, however, I am skipping the side of beans. The burgers are plenty filling and would be complemented better by a less protein rich side; maybe a mixed greens salad. That would certainly be easier than never-ending beans. In their defense, when my beans were finally cooked they tasted pretty good. All in all, it was a delicious meal, but I learned how much work that much tastiness takes.

Hamburgers a la Française with Sauce Bordelaise

Hamburgers a la Française with Sauce Bordelaise

For 6 medium-sized hamburgers

¾ cup finely minced onions, previously cooked in 2Tb butter

1 ½ lbs. lean ground beef from the neck and plate

2 Tb ground beef suet, beef marrow, or softened butter

1 ½ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. thyme

1 egg

a big mixing bowl

flour on a plate (about ½ cup)

a heavy skillet

1 Tb butter and 1 Tb oil

a hot serving platter

Place all ingredients except flour, butter, and oil in the mixing bowl and beat to blend thoroughly. Forming hamburgers into cakes. Just before cooking, dredge in flour and shake off excess. Sauté in very hot butter and oil and remove to a hot platter. Keep warm while making the following sauce- 2 to 3 minutes.

Sauce Bordelaise

A 4 inch piece of beef marrow

2 Tb minced shallots or scallions

1 tsp. cornstarch blended with 1 tsp. water

½ cup beef bullion

2/3 cup red wine

salt and pepper

2 Tb minced parsley

Stand bone on one end and split with a clever to expose marrow. Dig out marrow in one piece using a small knife. Then dipping knife in hot water for each cut, slice or dice marrow. Bring bullion and wine to the boil in a small saucepan, remove from heat, add marrow, and set aside. When meat is done, remove to hot platter and pour fat out of frying pan. Stir in shallots or scallions, drain marrow and reserve; add liquid to pan. Boil rapidly, scraping up coagulated sauté juices with wooden spoon. When reduced to about ½ a cup, remove from heat and stir in cornstarch. Simmer 1 minute; add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat, fold in marrow and parsley, and pour over meat.

White Beans with Herbs

1 lb. dry white beans

2 quarts water

1 large onion

1 herb bouquet (6 parsley sprigs, 2 cloves garlic, ¼ tsp. thyme, and 1 bay leaf tied together in washcloth)

2 tsp. salt

1 stick butter

3 or 4 cloves garlic pureed with 1 tsp. salt

5 or 6 Tb minced fresh parsley and/or basil

Bean cooking juices as needed

Salt and pepper

Pick over the beans to be sure there are no stones, wash and drain them, and place in a large kettle. Add the water, cover, and bring to the boil. Boil uncovered for exactly 2 minutes. Cover and let sit for exactly 1 hour. (This takes the place of the old-fashioned overnight soak.)As soon as the beans have had their soak, bring to simmer again, adding the herb bundle and 1-tablespoon salt. Simmer slowly, partially covered, for about 1-½ hours or until the beans are just tender. Melt the butter in a large serving casserole, stir in the garlic and let warm a moment, then fold in the beans and fresh herbs plus a little of the bean cooking juices if you feel them needed. Season carefully to taste.

King Ranch Chicken: a Cultural Experience

When I left for Germany I brought a gift with me for my host family: real Texas salsa. They were a bit confused by the jar and asked me what they were supposed to put it on. I decided then that before I left I would make them a real Texan dinner, so they could experience Texan food. My mother always makes King Ranch Chicken casserole when she wants to impress guests with Texan food, so I emailed her for the recipe. For my last night in Wittenberg my host mother and I planned a small family party. This was to be the night that I debuted my Texan dinner. Two days before I carefully converted all of the measurements to metrics, translated the ingredients, and set off for the Super Market. That was when I discovered that I was going to have to substitute a lot more than corn tortillas and Ro-Tel. It turns out that canned soups are not very popular in Germany, and cream of anything is hard to find. My recipe called for both cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soups. I picked up two bags of Champignons Sause instead. The biggest shock, however, was the complete lack of cheddar cheese. I searched in three stores to no avail. In the end I had to fall back on “pizza cheese” a mozzarella blend that I hoped would at least melt well. While I worked in the kitchen to assemble the casserole the day before (as it is supposed to sit in the fridge overnight), my German family and their guests watched me, baffled. “Are you putting the tomatoes in with the mushroom sauce?” they asked. Apparently Auflauf (casserole) is not very popular in this area of Germany, and it was seen as “very American of me” to put all of my ingredients together in one pan. But that was just the beginning of the adventure.

The next day it came time to bake my casserole. It mostly just needed warmed, as I had cooked the chicken ahead of time. The original recipe, however, called for it to be in the oven for 90 minutes. In a stroke of luck, I checked it after about 30 to find the top about to transition from brown and crispy to burnt. After a frantic Skype call to my mother, who assured me that the general less creaminess of the mushroom sauce in comparison to cream soup lead it to cook faster, I went ahead and took it out. Her other tip had been to smear the top with butter. Fortunately, it turned out fine. My host family ate all of it, and claimed to like it. They like the salsa too. It was quite the lesson in cooking in other cultures. And I used to think it was hard to find Mexican food in South Carolina! Now I know that, even though the world is becoming more globalized, not everything that is normal to me is normal to everyone. Who would have guessed that making dinner would be such a cultural awakening?

The finished product

The finished product

If you are interested, here is the recipe from Mary Alsmiller:

King Ranch Chicken

4 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (or a few cups of cooked chicken)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup (or substitute both with mushroom sauce)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes (or just canned tomatoes)
1 onion chopped
3/4 to 1 lb grated cheese (anything that will melt is fine)
12 corn tortillas (or some flour tortillas)

In large mixing bowl, combine soups, broth, tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Stir well.  Tear tortillas into 1 x 3 inch strips.  Spray a large flat 13 x 9 inch pan with vegetable cooking spray.  Spread a little of the soup mixture on the bottom on the pan.  Add a layer of tortilla strips, then a layer of chicken and a layer of the soup mixture.  Sprinkle with chopped onion and grated cheese.  Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, ending with cheese on top. (so if you run out of something, just keep going until you have only cheese left)  Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.  This helps to blend flavors so plan ahead and don’t skip this step for best flavor.  At this point, the casserole can be frozen for later baking.  Remove foil and bake in a 300 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours.

 Serves 6-10

Pimento Cheese Spread

Looking though my great-grandmother, Beatrice Howell’s, recipe box the other day, my mother and I found a really old recipe for homemade pimento cheese. Naturally, we had to try it out. My great-grandmother’s handwriting was famously illegible, as you can tell, but my mother figured it out.


We ran to the store to collect the ingredients. The first step was to melt a block of cheese. This proved harder than expected, even after we cut it up. We were thinking that melted cheddar should be gooey, but realized that the recipe needed our cheese to be liquidly.  Not until after we had added in the liquid mixture and then proceeded to try to drain it out, though. More time in the microwave seemed to fix the problem. We could have easily started with the same amount of shredded cheddar, which might have been easier to melt, but it was too late. Other than that, we just stirred the ingredients together.


When we were done it was really runny, so we let it set up in the refrigerator for a few hours. Afterwards it had the thicker texture that you expect from pimento cheese spread. It was still a bit chunky from where we hadn’t melted the cheese right, but it tasted fine. You could definitely taste the vinegar in this recipe, and we never added the extra salt, so your version might be a bit different than ours. It was great to make something straight fro my great-grandmother’s time, like a taste from the past.


Here is the recipe, exactly how my great-grandmother wrote it:

From the kitchen of Bee McMurtrey

1 lb cheese (cut in small pieces and melted) although shredded would work

1 egg

¼ cup vinegar

1 small can of evaporated milk (small can is 5 oz.)

Mix last 4 ingredients then add to melted cheese.

Then last of all stir in one small jar of pimentos, not drained.

We found this delicious, she brought recipe from Oklahoma.