Lemon Ripple Cheesecake Bars

Lemon?  Cheesecake?  This is lemon squares kicked up a notch!

These bars are the ultimate!  The recipe for this irresistible dessert belongs to Elinor Klivan and was in The Chicago Tribune last November.  And we owe it all to Christopher Columbia as he is the man who carried lemon seeds with him to the Americas in 1493.  Lemons were mainly used as medicine and ornaments back then and did not appear in cooking until the 1700’s when lemon trees were increasingly grown in Florida and California

These luscious bars are a bit out of the ordinary because of the way the filling is prepared.   Lemon zest is added to the rich dough and pressed into a baking pan after which, the creamy cheesecake layer is spread over the top of the dough.  Then the ripple affect takes hold when a lemon curd mixture is swirled through the batter.  

When serving, these incredibly yummy bars are not cut into traditional cheesecake slices but into squares instead. The end result is a delicious, decadent bar that looks pretty impressive also! 

Lemon Ripple Cheesecake Bars

1 cup flour
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, chilled

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
½ cup cold water
2 large eggs
1 ¾ cups sugar
¼ pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
Fresh berries, optional


For crust:
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Butter a 9” square nonstick baking pan.
Pulse the flour, sugar, lemon zest and salt in a food processor.
Add butter; pulse until a soft, crumbly dough forms.
Press dough evenly over bottom and ½” up the sides of the pan.
Bake until golden, about 20 minutes.

For filling:
Dissolve cornstarch in cold water in small bow.
Whisk yolks with ¾ cup of the sugar and the lemon juice in medium saucepan.
Whisk in the cornstarch mixture.
Cook over medium heat, whisking until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot, about 4 minutes.
Raise heat to medium-high; heat to a boil, whisking constantly.
Cook until mixture is thick and glossy, 1 minute.
Strain into a heatproof bowl.
Stir in lemon zest.
Let cool.

Beat cream cheese with remaining 1 cup sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer until smooth. 
Beat in the flour until blended.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions.
Add sour cream and vanilla, beat until batter is smooth.
Pour cream cheese batter over the crust.
Smooth with a spatula.
Place lemon mixture in dollops on cheesecake batter.
Carefully swirl it into the batter using the tip of a knife or skewer.

Bake until golden around edges and just set, 40-45 minutes.
Run a knife around edges to loosen the cheesecake.
Cool on wire rack 1 hour.
Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Cut into bars and garnish with berries, if desired.
16 bars

Note:  When slicing bars, run a knife under hot water, slice bars, wiping blade after making each cut.

Give it a try, you’ll love them!

Round Steak, Grandma’s and Mom’s Way

I am a beef lover, my favorite meat!

While growing up on the farm, beef was the best, and there was never a shortage of it.  Mom even canned it for making mince meat pies and so forth.  

My mother and grandmother prepared round steak this way so I carry on the tradition and do it the same way. 

Since round steak is not the tenderest of cuts, I learned from Mom that the easy way of helping it out is to have the butcher tenderize first before cooking it.  Or, do it the old fashioned way with a mallet.  

Actually, I have used a saucer edge to tenderize it many times, just like Grandma did, and that works just fine.  Then a coating of flour, followed by searing the meat in the skillet, finishing in the oven.

I love this dish and it reeks of comfort food to me.  The round steak is so tender you won’t need a knife.  

Serve it with buttery, creamy mashed potatoes and a vegetable for a delectable dinner!

Round Steak in Gravy


2 pounds round steak
¼ cup flour, or more
2 or 3 tablespoons shortening
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Tenderize round steak.
Cut into serving size portions.
Dredge both sides of meat in flour.
Melt shortening in large skillet.
Brown beef over medium heat, a few slices at a time, turning once.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Arrange all of meat in skillet, cover with water and lid.
Place skillet in oven and bake for 1 to 1½ hours until tender, adding a little  water if too thick.
Place meat on serving platter.
Heat remaining gravy to boiling, adding a little flour if needed, stirring constantly.
Pour gravy over meat or in a gravy boat.

It cuts like butter and is sooooo meaty delicious! 


Stuffed Eggplant (Aubergine)

Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables.  Unfortunately, it is not for anyone else in the family! May I digress for a moment?   Aubergine is also one of my favorite colors and the color of my dress for Matt and Kathy’s wedding next month!

When I was a teenager, I was delighted to have dinner at Old Stone Inn, in Simpsonville, KY with my parents and others.  This building has quite a history, going back to the early 1800’s, the time of the building’s completion.  It has served as a stage coach stop, tavern, residence, inn and since the 1920’s, a restaurant.  Its list of historical visitors includes former president Andrew Jackson and General Lafayette. 

Old Stone Inn is constructed of quarried limestone, gathered from a nearby quarry.  Upon passing through another owner’s hands in the 1920’s, the building served as a tearoom known as “Ye Olde Stone Inn.”  It is a beautiful old building filled with a plethora of antiques and at the time we were there, patrons were encouraged to go upstairs and view even more fabulous antiques. 

I don’t see stuffed eggplant on the menu now but, back then it was one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes.  It had a savory excellent taste that was hard to resist.  Mom found this recipe, supposedly just like theirs.  It is easy to make and a great way to acquaint yourself with this vegetable if you have not eaten it.

I have also prepared sliced eggplant with an egg wash, coating it in cornmeal seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder, and then frying it in a little olive oil.  It is delicious also; tender with a distinct flavor, having a crunchy crust!

Stuffed Eggplant (Aubergine)


1 eggplant
¼ cup onions, chopped
Ritz crackers, broken
1 can cream of mushroom soup
¼ cup parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 or 4 tablespoons butter, melted


Cut eggplant in half lengthwise, leaving ¼” pulp and remove stems.
Scoop out meat and chop into pieces. 
Sprinkle salt and pepper in shells and set aside.
Place chopped eggplant in saucepan and cook with onions for a few minutes just until tender.  Drain well.
Take about 20 broken Ritz crackers, soup, parsley and garlic and add to eggplant. 
Combine ingredients well.
Stuff mixture into eggplant shells.
Crumble about 10 Ritz crackers and sprinkle over top of eggplant.
Drizzle with butter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until hot and nicely browned.

This recipe is a winner that I hope you will try!

Baked Beans, My Way

Bubba, 1971, almost 3 years old

I haven’t met a bean I didn’t like!  Baked beans is everyday food for every man, woman and child and depending upon where you are from, there are probably as many versions as there are people. 

Way down Texas way, they are “cowboy beans” with ground beef and plenty of ketchup.  In the Boston area, they are sweetened with molasses, while in New England they are loaded with maple syrup.  Down south, pork is the star in a baked bean dish, out Washington way:  they add bacon and apples to their baked beans.  I have no idea where my mine fit in, maybe a little of all; I just know they are delicious and so does Bubba (Bill, Jr.!)  They are his favorite and mine also. 

This baked bean dish is filled with lots of crumbled bacon, and a sauce of brown sugar, molasses and vinegar with a little dry mustard for a tang.  They are not spicy and not overly sweet, they just have a pleasant taste.  I used to make baked beans with a recipe that required soaking the beans over-night.  It was good but, this is so much easier using the canned beans; no one would know the difference!  They are delicious!

Mom's old bean pot

Baked Beans


½ pound bacon, fried and crumbled
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ cup molasses
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 medium onion, chopped
4 (16-oounce) cans pork and beans


Fry bacon and reserve 2 tablespoons drippings
Pour beans into a large bowl.
Add ½ of the crumbled bacon and the bacon drippings.
Add the remaining ingredients, one by one, stirring well after each addition.
Pour into a bean pot or casserole dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 3 hours or until done.  It will be thickened and bubbly.


Now, tell me!  What do you think makes the perfect baked bean dish?  How do you or someone in your family, or a friend make them?  I would love to hear!

Bubble and Squeak

No, this isn’t what happens when you’ve imbibed too much!  It is the name of a dish whose origin is unclear; however, it is definitely British.  There are so many theories about the name, but it probably has to do with the noises emitted while the cabbage is bubbling in the water and then squeaks in the skillet with the sausage.  Bubble and squeak was popular during World War II as it was a good way to use leftovers during the time when most food was rationed.

It is really one of the earliest forms of recycling; a traditional British dish that took leftovers from Sunday dinner and re-invented them into a tasty meal for Monday.  I love the combination of the 3 ingredients wrapped up in one dish.  Potatoes and cabbage absolutely is a perfect pair and the sausage just spices things up for more flavors. 

With the addition of eggs, the Brits eat bubble and squeak for breakfast as well as dinner.  It sounds great to me and a meal perfect for any time.  Bubble and squeak does not take a lot of effort, and it's high on goodness!

Bubble and Squeak:


4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 small head cabbage
1 pound pork sausage links
Salt and pepper


About 45 minutes to an hour before serving:
Place potatoes and cabbage in pan of water, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook 20-25 minutes, until cooked and tender, drain well.
Meanwhile in large skillet over medium heat, cover and cook sausage links in 3 tablespoons of water for 5 minutes. 
Remove cover and brown sausage well on all sides, around 15 minutes.
Add cooked potatoes, cabbage, salt and pepper to sausage and cook 5 minutes, until vegetables are well heated, occasionally turning all with a spatula. 
Place on platter and serve.

Pam’s note:  I place the potatoes and cabbage on the bottom of the skillet to get a bit of a crust from the sausage. 

This will absolutely fill your tummy up and make you bubble and squeak with delight when you eat it, even if you aren’t British!

Pizza Love/Aunt Beck

Aunt Beck was great not only because she was my aunt but because she was the one who introduced me to pizza!

Aunt Beck, 1991

She was my mother’s youngest sister.  After Aunt Beck and Uncle Dick got married, they lived for a short while in a trailer in the 3-corner lot across the road from our farm in Pickerington.  I was really young and Mom did not allow me to cross the road and walk over there by myself but, I always wanted to!  A few years later, they had a daughter and lived in Columbus

Let me go back to around 1955 when I was 10 years old!  (Ok, so now you know how old I am!)  Aunt Beck, Uncle Dick and their toddler, Vicki, were visiting us one day when Aunt Beck asked if I’d like to go home with them for the night.  I loved to go to their home when I was a kid, so my pajamas and toothbrush were packed fast!  But, there was one thing I didn’t love and that was applesauce! Aunt Beck did love it and served it sometimes at meal time.  I really didn’t like apple sauce and always tried to get out of eating it!

As we neared the Whitehall area Aunt Beck asked me if I had ever eaten pizza.  I told her, “No, I’ve never heard of it.  What is it?”  She explained, “It’s a baked round of dough with tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni on it.”  Then I’m sure I badgered her with a lot of questions like, “What is pepperoni?”  I could not imagine this thing called pizza and didn’t think too much of it by the sound of it because it seemed so different from anything I had ever eaten.  But, I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be served with apple sauce!

Anyway, after a while, Uncle Dick pulled into the parking lot at Massey’s Pizza (interesting history.)  We were met with an explosion of the weirdest aroma I had ever smelled in my life when the door to the pizza parlor opened.  I thought, “Yuck, what is that smell?”  I wondered how I was going to get out of this!  Soon enough this huge circle of pizza was delivered to the table and Aunt Beck put a slice of it on my plate.  I took a little bite and didn’t know what to think.  Then I tried another bite with mozzarella oozing and by the time I neared the end of my first slice, my love affair with pizza had begun ~ thank you, Aunt Beck!

My Homemade Pizza


4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup oil
1-1/3 cups warm water

Pizza sauce:
Combine the following ingredients well:

2-8 ounce cans tomato sauce
1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper


1 pound Italian sausage, cooked and drained
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1-3.25 ounce package sliced pepperoni


In a large bowl, add yeast to lukewarm water, about 100 degrees. Stir well until yeast is dissolved and let it rest for 5 minutes.
Add flour, sugar, yeast and salt.  Mix well.
Stir mixture with a wooden spoon; then use your hands to bring it together into a ball.
Knead for about 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.
Place ball of dough in a bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil. 
Turn the dough around in the bowl so that it gets evenly coated with oil.
Cover with plastic wrap.
Let sit in a warm place for 20 minutes.
After the dough has rested, divide it into 2 balls to press on pizza pans.
Press the dough out on the pans up over the edge a little.
PRE-BAKE the crust before filling is added at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until they puff up and the surface looks slightly dry.
Remove the pre-baked crusts from the oven.
Spread with thin layer of tomato sauce and toppings.
Bake at 425 degrees until cheese is hot and bubbly, about 15 minutes.
Let cool slightly.
Slice and enjoy!

Ummm, mmm pizza!

Cardamom Braid

Cardamom was a new spice to me when my MIL added it to her coffee cake batter --- it was the incredible aroma that got my attention.  She was a first generation Swede so she came by using cardamom as naturally as her mother and Aunt Ida.
Cardamom pods

Cardamom seeds

Ground cardamom
India is cardamom’s native country with the green pod being used extensively in cooking there instead of ground cardamom.  It has a unique savory, slightly sweet spicy flavor and approximately 8 to 16 seeds are encased in a pod.  Cardamom loses its natural oils quickly, so only ground what you need for the recipe.  Next to saffron, it is one of the most expensive spices; therefore, you do not want to buy ground cardamom and let it set in the cabinet.   

Buy whole green cardamom pods or seeds and grind your own for the freshest taste.  If you purchase the pods, smash them on a cutting board to crack them open.  Gather the seeds and grind them in a spice grinder.  You won't believe the the slightly pungent aroma after a couple of seconds grinding!

The seeds can also be crushed between two spoons.  A tablespoon of pods yields about 2 teaspoons of ground cardamom.

Cardamom Braid


1 tablespoon active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
½  cup sugar
¾ cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon salt
½ to 1 teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds or ground cardamom
4 ½ cups bread flour
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 beaten egg for glaze
Coarse sugar or 1 teaspoon granulated sugar for sprinkling (optional)


Mix yeast, warm water and 1/2 teaspoon sugar until yeast dissolves. Set aside.

Heat milk in a saucepan over low heat until small bubbles appear along the edges. Cool to about 120F. Add beaten eggs, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, salt, cardamom and 3 cups flour. Beat well. Add butter; beat well. Add yeast mixture. Add remaining 11/2 cups flour in three additions, mixing well after each addition, until dough has a soft to medium consistency.

Knead on a lightly floured surface or with a mixer fitted with dough hooks until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding as little additional flour as possible.

Place dough in an oiled bowl, turning to coat top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, 1 to 2 hours. Punch down dough and let rise again until almost doubled, about 1 hour. 

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and divide into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope. Braid 3 ropes together to form a loaf. Repeat with remaining 3 ropes. Place loaves on a greased baking sheet or in greased 81/2 x 41/2-inch loaf pans. Cover with a cloth and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Brush loaves with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Bake 25 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom. Invert from pan and cool on wire rack.
Makes 2 loaves

Wonderful!  Fragrant and yummy!

Miniature Cheesecakes

“Life is short ~ eat dessert first” is the motto of many people, I’m sure.  I don’t know who said it but, he was a wise person indeed!  Why fill up on dinner and then have no room left for dessert? 

If you have cheesecake lovers in your house, they will not be able to resist these little morsels!  They are small, just a couple of bites and that is what is so good about them.  You won’t feel so guilty about eating them as you would a large slice of cheesecake.  The cheese mixture sits on a vanilla wafer and then luscious cherries are spooned over it.  

They are so easy to make and would be a hit with a crowd.  They will work just as well with a blueberry or apple topping and most others.  Whatever your choice, they are worth making.  

Contestant Lynn Strickler Waiting for a Proper Pan
at the Pillsbury Bake Off Contest
 Photo credit:  Lisa Larsen 

Miniature Cheesecakes


24 cupcake liners
24 vanilla wafers
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 can cherry pie filling


Preheat over 375 degrees.
Line cupcake pans with liners.
Place vanilla wafer in bottom of each liner.
In small bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs, lemon juice and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Fill liners ¾ full with cheese batter.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until set.
Top each with a spoonful of filling.
Makes 24

Yum!!!  These bite-size goodies are love filled in a cupcake liner! 

Aunt Lucy’s Mexican Corn Pudding

Aunt Lucy, 1978

Aunt Lucy was Dad’s sister.  They were born on the same day, March 20th, 5 years apart; she in 1906 and Dad in 1911.  She had a daughter, Polly, who died from a disease when a toddler.  Incidentally, in 30 days, on March 20th, our younger son, Matt, will be getting married to Kathy!

Here's one of my many memories of her:  Without fail, at a young age, when I jumped into her car, she insisted that I scoot over to sit right beside her while she drove.  I was told in no uncertain terms, to not touch the car door, much less lean against it as we very slowly cruised the roads.  While driving, she would check the mirror countless times to make sure her lipstick was still bright red and not escaping the lines of her mouth and that every hair was in place.

That was just Aunt Lucy!  She was truly great!  We had many good times together!  She instilled her love of music (and Dad also with music!), genealogy and reading in me.  I loved her dearly and she doted on me. 

Darwin, her husband was the founder of the electric cooperative in their area of Ohio, bringing electricity into the areas homes in the late 1930's.  She had the great distinction of demonstrating to homemakers, in her kitchen, the art of cooking on an electric range.

This Mexican Corn Pudding is one of the very few recipes of hers that I have.  It is really very good and is a perfect comfort food.  Give it a try!

Aunt Lucy’s Mexican Corn Pudding

1 cup yellow corn meal
½ cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 small can green chilies
2 cans creamed corn
1 medium onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
½ cup Parmesan cheese


Mix all ingredients together, except for the peppers and cheese.
Pour one-half of the mixture into a greased 2 quart baking dish.
Sprinkle half of cheese and peppers over top.
Add rest of corn mixture.
Spread remaining cheese and peppers over top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until knife a inserted in the center comes out clean.

¡Mexican corn pudding es delicioso! 

Here’s to you, Aunt Lucy!

Homemade Summer Sausage

German Sausage Shop
 John Dominis

Do you like summer sausage?  Have you ever considered making it yourself?

 It is so easy to make and I love it. I was amazed when Alice, my mother-in-law, made it.  I had no idea what to expect when she said she was going to make it but, I was blown away by how savory good it tasted and what a great texture it had!

The vital ingredient is the Morton Tender Quick Cure salt.  Do not substitute regular table salt for it; it is not the same thing!  The ground beef is combined and kneaded with spices, refrigerated and mixed each day.  On the fifth day, the meat is shaped into logs and baked.  This is a bit spicy but, if you like it with a little heat, add 1 or 2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper.  After being baked, they are even better if left to set for a couple of days in the refrigerator. 

Wow!  It is so delicious and so easy to make.  If you have never made homemade sausage, I hope you try it.  You will be pleasantly surprised with the results and you just might have to hide a log of it for yourself when you see how fast it disappears!

See updated version here
Homemade Summer Sausage


5 pounds ground beef
4 tablespoons Morton’s Tender Quick Cure
2 ½ teaspoons mustard seed
2 ½ teaspoons liquid smoke
1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder


Mix all ingredients well.
Cover and refrigerate.

For the next 4 days, knead for 10 minutes each day.
On day 5, shape into 5 salami shaped rolls. 
Place on rack, being sure rolls don’t touch.
Place rack on cookie sheet with sides to catch the drippings.
Bake for 8 hours at 150 degrees.

It is totally awesome!  Try it!!!

You know,

nobody can ever

cook as good as

your Mama.

~ Paula Deen

You know, nobody can ever cook as good as your mama. Paula Deen
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/paula_deen_431843?src=t_cook
You know, nobody can ever cook as good as your mama. Paula Deen
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/paula_deen_431843?src=t_cook


Jules-Alexandre Grun

ᴡᴏᴏ ʜᴏᴏ!!!

ᴡᴏᴏ ʜᴏᴏ!!!



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