Auntie Lei’s Caramel Apple Dip

This caramel dip is one of the easiest, tastiest fall recipes I have. It’s super impressive tasting and there are never leftovers. It is best eaten with apples, pretzels, nuts, graham crackers, cardboard, fingers (or if you’re more civilized, a spoon). So, I would advise doubling this. Or tripling it…

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
apples (I like tart apples)

Place butter and brown sugar in microwave dish.  Cook on high for 2-3 minutes.
Beat cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add butter and brown sugar mixture and combine till smooth.
Add in vanilla.


Caramel Apples

After buying a caramel apple at the Evergreen Fair for my younger sister, we were determined to make our own. The attempt actually worked and here is the basic recipe we used. Mom got these cute little apples that were about half the size of regular apples.

12 medium apples 
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup half and half or evaporated milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
coconut, nuts, chocolate
Wash and dry apples.  Remove stems and insert skewers. 
In a heavy saucepan over medium low heat, bring the sugars, corn syrup, butter, half and half and salt to a boil, stirring until sugars dissolve and mixture begins to boil. Cook gently to firm ball stage (246 degrees). Stir in vanilla. 
Remove from heat. Cool until the mixture thickens slightly. Hold each apple by the wooden skewer and quickly twirl in caramel. Roll in desired toppings or in sugar. Place on parchment paper to harden. 

Turkish Delight

While rereading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, for the millionth time, I was curious: was Turkish Delight really good enough to betray your brothers and sisters? I am rereading this book aloud to a group of kids once a week and this is one of the treats we had together.

1 1/2 cups water
3 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup orange juice (I used the juice of one lemon plus enough orange juice to reach 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 tablespoons lemon zest
3 (.25 ounce) envelopes unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla, `
confectioner’s sugar

Bring 1 1/2 cups water, sugar and corn syrup to a boil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Cook, stirring frequently until temperature reaches 240 degrees. Set aside and keep hot.
Stir together orange juice and zests. Sprinkle with gelatin and set aside. Dissolve cornstarch with 1/2 cup water. Stir into hot syrup. Place over medium heat and simmer until very thick.
Remove syrup from heat, stir in orange juice mixture, vanilla and nuts (if using).
Spray and generously sprinkle 9×9″ pan with powdered sugar. Pour mixture into pan. Let cool in a cool, dry place (not the fridge) until set, 3-4 hours (I just left mine overnight on the counter)
Cut and coat with powdered sugar. Smaller pieces the better.


To be honest, I’ve never made these, but they are delicious! My sister Anna enjoys making them and we all enjoy devouring them! The more you beat it the more air will be caught inside to give it better texture. Never ever cut one of these open with a knife. The correct way is to use the tines of a fork to split it in half.

3 cups flour
1 pkg (1/4 oz) yeast
1 1/2 cups water, at 110 degrees F
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

In a large bowl, combine flour and yeast.  Add water and mix well, forming a sticky dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for one hour or until batter has doubled in bulk and is puffy.  Dissolve baking soda and salt in milk and add to batter.  Beat with an electric mixer until well mixed and batter is runny, to help form holes.  Preheat a griddle or electric skillet to medium heat.  Grease very lightly; also grease metal rings and set on griddle to warm up.  Pour about 2 T. batter into each ring.  Reduce heat to low and cook gently about 7 minutes or until underside is browned and top is covered with bubbles.  Carefully remove rings.  Turn and cook crumpets 2 – 3 minutes or just until lightly browned.  Grease rings again and repeat with another batch.  Cool crumpets completely.  To serve, reheat by toasting both sides under a broiler.  Serve warm with butter and jam.  Makes one dozen crumpets.

Roasted Vegetables

This is a recipe we make in huge batches and have in the fridge for days on end. It takes me over an hour to prepare all my vegetables, so it’s a pretty time consuming dish. It is delicious served with cottage cheese or thrown in with scrambled eggs. I also tried freezing the vegetables raw after preparing them (I sucked most of the air from the bag) and that worked really well.

This is before cooking. 

2 heads cauliflower
3 -5  yams
1 pound red potatoes
Brussels sprout
shallots (or onions)
Other root type vegetables
fresh oregano
fresh thyme
salt and pepper
seasoning salt (like Johnny’s)
Kielbasa sausage , sliced, If wanted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease full size hotel pans or sheet pans.
Prepare vegetables to bite size pieces. I usually judge this by cutting my potatoes in
eighths and matching the other to that size.
Toss lightly with oil, fresh herbs, salt and pepper and seasoning salt. Add sausage is wanted.
Pan the vegetables in a single layer (ish) per pan.

Bake until vegetable are cooked

Layered Salad

This is one of the few head lettuce salads I like. I think it has way too much sauce to lettuce, so I usually double the lettuce or half the sauce.

1 head lettuce, broken into pieces
1 cup celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 hard cooked eggs, crumbled
10 pieces bacon, fried and crumbled
10 ounces frozen peas, still frozen
2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pound cheese, grated

Layer first six ingredients in order in a 9″ X 13″ pan or a large salad bowl.
Mix mayo and sugar and put on salad like frosting.
Sprinkle cheese over.
Keep covered in fridge.  Lasts well.

Gingerbread Biscotti

This biscotti wasn’t sweet enough for my liking, but with a maple glaze over the top, it is delicious.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup molasses
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon orange zest

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a sheet pan.
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and molasses.
Stir together dry ingredients and orange zest. Add dry ingredient mix to wet ingredients. Add more flour if necessary to form a stiff dough.
Form into two logs 3/4″ thick and about 10-12″ long.
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and set. Cool briefly.
Slice into 3/4″ slices and bake again until crispy.

Cinnamon Swirl Biscotti

This biscotti has a delicious cinnamon flavor and tastes wonderful with tea, milk and coffee!

6 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup cinnamon chips
large crystal sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a sheet pan. 
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. 
Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add to butter mixture. Add in cinnamon chips. 
Form into two even logs and flatten to 3/4″ thick. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. 
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and set. Cool briefly and slice into 3/4″ slices. 
Bake again till crispy- 5-10 minutes.

Cinnamon Chips

Instead of spending time and money to get Hersey’s Cinnamon Chips for a recipe. I found a recipe online. The only difference between the original recipe is that I used vegetable oil instead of shortening (same difference though, really).

2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons corn syrup

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line sheet pan with parchment or Silpat.
Combine all ingredients till well mixed. Pour on sheet pan and spread till thin, 1/4-1/8″
Bake for 30 minutes or until ingredients melt together.
Cool completely. Chop into pieces.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Spinach Pie (or Spanakopita)

This delicious recipe makes me drool just thinking about it. Layering several sheets of pastry and then doing the “Flag fold” around the filling makes little pockets which are great as appetizers.

2 cups onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 10 oz packages frozen spinach, thawed, rinsed and squeezed
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon oil
6 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese (the real stuff, not the powdery stuff), grated
3/8 cup seasoned bread crumbs, best if made from croutons (if regular bread crumbs are used, add salt and pepper)
1 pound feta cheese (can try other cheeses as well or use a blend of different cheeses), crumbled
1/4 cup walnuts, pecans or pine nuts, chopped in medium pieces, optional
1/2 cup butter
1/2 or more package phyllo dough, thawed, opened, laid flat, covered with a damp towel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Warm a skillet.  Add 1 teaspoon butter and oil.  When melted, add onions and garlic and cook them till slightly browned.  Remove from heat.
Put eggs in a large bowl.  Stir in spinach.  Add feta, Parmesan, nuts, nutmeg and bread crumbs.  Add onions and garlic.  Mix well.
Brush each sheet of phyllo with melted butter as you layer them on the bottom of pie plate.   Use six sheets of phyllo, leaving some overlapping edge and shifting each piece to overlap a different section of the pie plate.
Put spinach mixture in the dish and mound it evenly.
Layer six more sheets of phyllo on, buttering, layering and shifting  each as you go.  Roll the overlapped edges in to form a crust.  Brush edges with butter.
Bake for about  55 minutes or until the inside is set.
Let set 15-20 minutes before cutting.