Toffee Bugles

Years ago, now, a friend introduced me to the joy that is Caramel Puff Corn, known by my friends as “corn crack” because they cannot resist it.

Then, I was reading a novel where one of the main characters is kinda addicted to “toffee bugles” to the point where a local small shop stocks them just for him.

Then, came the joys of COVID and supply shortages and I couldn’t find puffed corn anywhere, so I decided to try making bugles.

And, y’know what?

It is really very good!

The only thing is…

the corn puffs were labelled as gluten-free, but, at least in the US, Bugles are not considered gluten-free because of possible cross contamination in the manufacturing process from other, gluten containing snack foods and treats. Go figure.

Still and all, if you do not worry about gluten, they make for a fine substitute and a tasty treat. I bring a couple of bags to my dentist when I go to see him, and he and his admin are very happy to see me!

•2 (7-1/2 oz) bags Bugles
•2 cups brown sugar
•1 cup butter
•1/2 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup – or corn syrup
•1 tsp vanilla
•1/8 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)
•1/2 teaspoon baking soda
•Nuts (optional)

Heat your oven to 250º.

Spread the Bugles (and nuts, if using) in an even layer in a large pan – a non-stick turkey roaster works a treat here.

In a large pot (non-stick is best here, as well), melt the butter with the sugar, Lyle’s Golden Syrup (or corn syrup), vanilla, and salt – if using unsalted butter over medium heat, stirring often.

Note: if you are not using a non-stick pan, you will need to be stirring almost constantly, so, plan accordingly.

Once the butter and brown sugar have melted, bring the mixture to a boil and let simmer for five minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda. The mixture will thicken and foam up a bit, so, again, choose your pot well. I rely on my non-stick Dutch oven.

Immediately pour over the Bugles (and nuts, if using) and stir.

Note: do not worry if you cannot evenly coat all of the Bugle mixture, they will all be more or less evenly coated in the baking and stirring process.

Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes, this is where you can even out the coating.

When done, give a good stir to break things up a bit, then set aside to cool.

Once cool, transfer to a tightly lidded container, or, for giving away, zipper storage bags; I can generally get two nicely sized gallon bags out of one batch, perfect for my dentist and his admin. For more wide spread gift giving, quart bags are well received as well.

Happy munching!

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Applesauce Cake With Bourbon Raisins

Score another big hit for barefoot contessa and her cookbook, Modern Comfort Food.

My husband asked me to make this cake as an option for Thanksgiving dessert, and, yeh, this is gonna be a go-to cake for sure.

Moist, rich, delicious, and nicely spiced (full disclosure, I added allspice to mine) and  pretty easy to toss together from scratch, except…

I did not have a deep enough nine inch

cake pan, and opted to use a nine inch spring form pan instead. Worked a treat!

I did place the spring from pan on a rack in a rimmed baking sheet because, leakage happens, but all was well.

•3/4 golden raisins
•2 tbsp good bourbon
•10 tbsp (1¼ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
•3/4 cup sugar
•3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
•2 tsp vanilla extract
•2 large eggs, at room temperature
•1-3/4 cup flour
•1-1/2 tsp baking soda
•1 tsp ground cinnamon
•1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
•1/4 tsp ground cloves
•1/4 tsp ground allspice
•1 tsp kosher salt
•1-1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
•1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting:
•6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
•6 tbsp (¾ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
•1 tbsp good bourbon
•1/2 tsp vanilla extract
•2 cups + 2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar

Note: because I was using a spring form pan, I lined the bottom with parchment paper and did not worry about buttering and flouring the pan. If you do have a nine inch by two inch deep cake pan, go by this trusty formula:


Combine one tablespoon of flour together with one tablespoon of solid shortening and one tablespoon of canola oil with a fork until you have a paste. Brush this evenly over the inside of your cake pan. Your cakes will pop out of the most complicated of pans with no trouble, and there will be no white flour splotches, either. Bonus!

OK, back to our cake!

Heat your oven to 350º.

Pour two tablespoons of the bourbon over the raisins in a ‘wave-safe bowl, then microwave for 30 seconds. Remove from the ‘wave and let rest for 20 minutes or so while you make the cake.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, spices and slat together in a bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter together with the sugar and the brown sugar on medium speed in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment for three minutes, until fluffy. Then add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time.

Continue to mix until smooth.

Reduce the mixer speed to low, then slowly add the flour mixture. I added it by 1/4 cup scoops, and mixed just until it was smooth.

Fold in the bourbon soaked raisins, including any liquid from the bowl, and the chopped pecans and mix well.

Transfer the batter to your prepared cake pan of choice and bake.

Note: the contessa called for baking about 45 minutes, but my cake took 70 minutes in my spring form pan until a wooden skewer inserted in the center came out clean.

Also note: my spring form pan is 2-3/4 inches deep, and you can see how high this cake rose. Mebbe consider a cake pan deeper than two inches or wider than nine inches.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool on a rack while you make the frosting.

Beat the cream cheese, butter, bourbon, and vanilla in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth.

Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar, again, I went with 1/4 cup scoops until you have a nice, thick, smooth frosting.

Scrape down the sides and stir well with a rubber spatula.

Transfer the cake to a cake plate and frost the top with the frosting.

If you like, some additional chopped pecans on top are just the thing!

Serve at room temperature.




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Heavy Cream Louis, But Better!

Folx who know me know that I can rarely pass up a salad with Louis Dressing on it, especially if asparagus is involved. So much so that I have five different serving options and variations on this one site.

But now…

I’ve swapped out my own take on Garlic Diana Sauce for the more usual chili sauce and, wow…

I think it makes it all come together.

•1 cup mayonnaise
•1 cup heavy cream, whipped stiff*
•1 cup Garlic Barbecue Sauce
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste

*1/2 cup of heavy cream will whip into the one cup needed.

Note: if you don’t want to make or cannot buy Diana Garlic Sauce, an equal amount of good chili sauce will work a treat

Whip the cream until stiff – an immersion blender works a treat for this; just be certain to keep moving the blender up and down in the beaker to get as much air into the cream as possible.

Give it a taste.

I don’t think it needs any salt or pepper, but feel free to add some if you do.

Transfer to a one pint jar and use for all of your Louis needs.

Note: I think it is a bit better if allowed to rest in the fridge for a day or so before using.

This is pretty terrific over a salad of Blanched Asparagus, Air-Fried Halloumi, and thinly sliced red onion.

Mebbe with some air fried Shrimp on the side, for even more Louis goodness.

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Shaved Sprouts Salad

Looking for a tasty, elegant looking salad for a special occasion, but don’t really feel like fussing about it?

Have I got a salad for you!

There was a slight miscommunication between my husband and myself when planning and prepping the salad for our feast day, and this was not the Brussels sprout salad he was expecting, but he turned out loving it anyway, so no harm, no foul, and, really nice, easy salad.

Thanks to the folx at for the basic recipe, which I, of course, adapted. I would offer a link, but it is paywalled, so… here’s my version. For free.

•5 tbsp lemon juice
•5 tbsp olive oil
•1/2 tsp parsley
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Garden Salad Seasoning

•1 bag shaved Brussels sprouts
•1/2 cup Marcona almonds
•1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
•Shaved Parmesan

A note about the Parmesan: if you are making this salad for a vegetarian, Parmesan cheese is made with animal rennet, so it is not vegetarian.

Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together until well blended, then pour over the shaved Brussels sprouts and toss.

This, I thought, was the really cool thing about this salad…

you do this at least 20 minutes and up to four hours before you plan to serve!

So, there I was, finishing of the rest of our Thanksgiving foods, and the salad was, mostly, just sitting there minding its own business. All I had to do was give it a little toss when I thought about it.

Just before serving, add the pomegranate seeds, almonds, and cheese, then toss again and you are good to go.

More than enough salad for four folx or so, along with the rest of the feast.

And, kinda festive looking, too.



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Vintage Beefy Cocktail Spread

Really… doesn’t “Vintage Beefy Cocktail Spread” make a better headline than…

Liverwurst Spread?

It is ALL in the branding.

The thing is, though, this liverwurst (or, if you prefer, Braunschweiger) spread is really simple to make and really, really tasty, so why not add a mid (2oth) century twist to your appetizer offerings this holidaze season and bring on the beef?

•4 oz cream cheese, softened
•1/2 lb liverwurst
•1 tbsp crème fraîche
•1 cup chopped red onion
•1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
•1/2 tsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp prepared horseradish
•2 tsp Dijon mustard
•Black pepper
•1 tbsp brandy

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Prep is, as I noted above, dead simple.

Tumble all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and beat together with your electric mixer.


add all of the ingredients to your food processor, fitted with the plastic blade, and pulse until well and truly mixed.

Back in the day, and enterprising host would then shape this into a ball, cover it with more cream cheese and sprinkle it all with a hefty dose of chopped paprika, but I just serve it in a crock with crackers and cornichons.


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Stuffing or Dressing? No Matter, It is ALL Good!

My sister and I are in agreement that the barefoot contessa is one of our fave cook book authors.

I have never been unhappy with one of her recipes, and this stuffing (or dressing) is the one I will be serving next week at our holidaze feast table.

I happen to like using hot breakfast sausage for this, because we like a bit of spice, but feel free to use plain or sage, whichever way you go, I think you will be pleased.

•1 bag packaged sage and herb stuffing mix
•8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
•2 cups medium-diced sweet onion
•1 cup medium-diced celery
•2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and large-diced
•1 cup dried cherries
•2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
•1 tbsp Sherry peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
•1/2 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Sauce, or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1 lb spicy breakfast sausage
•2 cups unsalted chicken stock

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Heat your oven to 350º.

Melt the butter in a large saute pan, then add the sausage, onions, celery, apples, parsley, Seasoned Salt and black and Aleppo pepper.

Saute over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, breaking up the sausage, until the vegetables are softened and the sausage is cooked through, then add the stir in the dried cherries.

Stir in the Sherry Peppers and hot sauce, then add the bread cubes.

Stir the chicken stock into the mixture, then, if your pan is oven safe, bake for 30 minutes.

If your pan is not oven safe, transfer the stuffing to a baking pan, bake for 30 minutes, until the top is crispity and the stuffing is warmed through.

Note: another cool baking option would be to scoop the stuffing into a large muffin tin, then baking for 30 minutes.

Serve your stuffing warm, mebbe with a bit of gravy and some Cranberry Relish on the side, just to balance everything out.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Again With Mary’s Meatloaf


I know.

At this point in November, I should be posting something about turkey or stuffing or some such, and I will, but…

at some point, don’t we just need a simple, tasty meatloaf? Mebbe with French Peas and smashed potatoes on the side.

Of course we do.

•1-1/2 lb meatloaf mix
•1 cup bread crumbs
•1/2 cup diced onion
•1/2 cup diced celery
•1/2 cup milk
•1 egg, beaten
•2 tbsp ketchup
•1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1 tsp dried parsley
•1/2 tsp salt
•1/2 tsp dry mustard
•1/2 tsp garlic powder
•1/2 tsp black pepper

•1/4 cup ketchup
•2 tbsp brown sugar
•1 tbsp red wine vinegar

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Heat oven to 350º.

Whisk the egg together with the milk, ketchup, Worcestershire, Sherry Peppers, and hot sauces with the parsley, salt, dry mustard, garlic powder and pepper, then stir in the the bread crumbs to moisten and let rest for for ten minutes before adding the ground meat, onion, and celery and mixing by hand.

Transfer to a an 8×8 inch baking pan and pat down into an even layer.

Whisk the ketchup together with the brown sugar and vinegar, then spread evenly over the top of the meatloaf.

Note: as I posted yesterday, I used Arby’s Sauce instead of making the glaze, and it turned out wicked nice.

Totes your call, though…

Bake for 55 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let rest for ten minutes before serving.

Using the 8×8 inch pan gives you more surface area to slather that glaze (or Arby’s Sauce) over, and makes for, I think, an overall superior meatloaf.

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Arby’s Sauce – As a Glaze


this was gonna be a twofer recipe day; our current FAVORITE meatloaf method, and my current FAVE glaze for said meatloaf,


It was a snowy day, and I had physical therapy for my boo-boo shoulder, and now I am chilling and getting ready to start on tonight’s dinner, so, for tonight, “just the sauce, sir.”

•1/2 cup ketchup
•1/2 cup water
•2 tbsp Heinz 57 Steak Sauce
•2 tsp brown sugar
•2 tsp white vinegar
•1 tsp hot sauce
•1/4 tsp onion powder
•1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/8 tsp white pepper
•1/8 tsp ground allspice

To make this sauce, simply whisk the ingredients together (I use an immersion blender), then stash in the fridge in a squeeze bottle until needed.

Note: you will need this. A lot.

On burgers, on chicken, added to barbecue sauce, or…

Used as a meatloaf glaze? Tommorow…

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Julia Child’s Cranberry Relish


It is that time of year.

When even small-time food blogs like mine get 100s of hits per day, everyone looking for that one perfect recipe for the big feast.

Well, here it is, and you’re welcome.

Some folx do not care for cranberry relish, but they are wrong. In about an hour, you can eat like Julia wanted you to.

•36 oz fresh cranberries
•2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
•1-3/4 cup sugar
•1-1/2 cup orange juice
•1/4 cup lemon juice
•1/4 cup orange liqueur with brandy

Pulverized Zest:
•Zest of 2 oranges
•Zest of 1 lemon
•1/3 cup sugar

A note on the ginger: I buy mine frozen, in little one teaspoon cubes at Trader Joe’s, though I have seen them at other markets. Organic, really quite good, and they last forever in the freezer.

A note on the pulverized zest: I do not always take the time to do this, and the relish seems to always turn out fine, but if you have a mini food processor, why not bring it out and use it, then mebbe whip up a quick batch of Mayonnaise while you’re at it.

To pulverize the zest, wash the oranges and lemon, then grate the zest, the orange and yellow parts of the peel, into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.

Add the sugar and pulse until the zest and sugar have come together into this brightly colored powder.

Wash the cranberries and pick through, discarding any stems or withered berries.

Note: big cranberry seems to have their sorting system down pat, because I have not come across any little woody stems in at least a decade. Withered berries, well, that is just part of the circle of life.

Add the sorted berries to a large pot with the remaining ingredients and stir in the pulverized zest.

If you really do not want to deal with the whole pulverize thing, go ahead and just tumble your zest and the extra sugar into the pot with everything else.

It’ll all work out fine.

Bring to a rapid boil over medium high heat, stirring often, until the berries burst, about five minutes.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes or so, then, give it a taste.


I like mine just as it is, with a tart bite that will go perfectly with my holidaze feast,


if you think it a bit too tart, go ahead and stir in another 1/4 cup or so of sugar, and cook, again stirring often, for another 15 to 30 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and your relish is as you like it.

Transfer the relish to jars, then cover and stash in the fridge until needed.

This recipe will yield three pints of the good stuff, and I have found that if I make it now, it will last me through to the New Year, unless I find myself serving ravening hoards of 20-somethings, as I did last year.

Then, December is also a good time to make more relish.


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Blender Mousse

Back in the day, my mom would make pudding for dessert.

From a mix, but not instant, and she would stand over a pot at the stove stirring for what seemed like forever while the pudding gently came together.

My Aunt Buzz (my dad’s sister) did not care for cooking as much as my mom, and she did next to no stirring for her decidedly adult pudding – a rich chocolate mousse with added rum or brandy.

I’ve lost Buzz’s recipe, but da google has provided options, and this version seems to work the best.

Two important notes:

Do not double the recipe! One batch will fill most blenders, and doubling the recipe in one batch pretty mush guarantees a runny mousse that will only set up in the freezer. Not a bad option, but not the same as the silky, velvet of a true mousse. If you need more, simply make two batches.

If your mousse does not set up, as when I made a batch with these caramel sea salt chips I found at Trader Joe’s, you can still use it! You can freeze it and serve it as a kind of iced pudding, or drizzle it over your other mousse that did set up, as I did for this recent weekend gathering of friends.

•10 oz bag dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
•3 eggs
•1 cup scalded milk*
•2 tbsp rum or brandy (optional)

•Grated orange zest
•1/4 tsp instant espresso powder

To scald milk, heat over low heat on top of the stove with the orange zest and espresso powder, if using, stirring often, until blended and the milk reads 180º on a thermometer.

Or, my preferred method, add the the milk and orange zest and instant espresso powder, if using, to a ‘wave safe bowl with a wooden chopstick or skewer inserted and push the 30 Second button.

Note: the chopstick or skewer, by breaking the surface of the milk, helps to keep it from “superheating” and blasting all over your ‘wave.

While the milk is in the wave, add the chips, sugar, and eggs to your blender and pulse until well chopped and blended.

When 30 seconds is up in the ‘wave, pull the container out and give it a stir, then back into the ‘wave for another 30 seconds.

Repeat this, stirring after each 30 seconds, until an instant read thermometer reads 180º – being careful that the sensor tip does not touch the bottom of the container, about three to four minutes.

Once the milk is properly scalded, with the blender running, pour the hot milk and the rum or brandy through the feed hole in the lid and process until smooth and creamy. It will fill most of the blender jar.

Now, you have a couple of choices. Aunt Buzz would pour her mousse into individual champagne coupes, cover with plastic wrap, and stash on a shelf  in the fridge overnight  for an elegant single-serve dessert.

I tumble my whole batch into one large container and chill overnight, then scoop it into bowls and top it with whipped cream.

Both excellent options, I think.

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