Halloween Bacon Oreo Bark

I know friends are starting to talk in amazement about Christmas decorations going up, and Black Friday Sales being advertised before Halloween has come and gone.  But I’m still stuck in wonderment that Halloween is this week- How did that happen??  Correct me if I am wrong but weren’t we enjoying a long Labor Day weekend a few days ago?? 

Obviously it’s been busy and here we are going to a Halloween party tonight- Bring your best treat.  Awesome.   When it comes to “on the fly” treats, one of the best options is the bark road.  If you have even a little bit of a sweet tooth you are likely to have a bag of chocolate in your house.  Melt that chocolate and throw in whatever looks good- candy, salty snacks, herbs, dried fruits, cereal, marshmallows, ect and you’re done in 15 minutes.  I did this in shorter time then it took Sir Wes to fill out his absentee ballot this morning.

The kiddos are able to help with making bark as well- I know my niece and nephew, Lady Corree and Sir Sully would love it! 


  • 12 ounce semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable shortening
  • 10 Halloween Oreo’s, crushed
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, rough chopped


Line a 9×13 baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.  Place pot with water on stove over medium heat, and place a metal bowl on top creating a double boiler.  Add chocolate and vegetable shortening and stir while the chocolate slowly melts.  When the chocolate is smooth add the crushed Oreo’s and bacon and mix well.  Pour onto the lined pan and spread evenly.  Pop in the refrigerator until set and then break into pieces. 

Serves 1-8 people, depending how piggy!

Here is to hoping Thanksgiving still happens and we don’t just skip to Christmas!  Because we all know- Thanksgiving is the best food holiday! 


White Chocolate Bread Pudding- Straight from DAK Catering Recipe Book

I mentioned that I started my culinary career at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (DAK) Catering department.  It was a super small team- at most 7 people.  We got to be very close, and have always remained like family.  We executed amazing events that we surprised ourselves with.  Hundreds and thousands of guests were fed out of a tiny little kitchen and with a pretty green bunch of cooks.   Luckily we had a few veterans that led us, and gave us all a great culinary foundation.  

Full of good memories and full of amazing food!  My favorite recipe that I took away from “DAK Catering” is the White Chocolate Bread Pudding.  I love this- so perfectly sweetened, lots of rum and deliciously rich.   Loved it enough that when Sir Wes and I got married (he was one of the seven that worked with me); we served it at our wedding as a nod to where we met.

After 7 years of happiness, Sir Wes and I are still celebrating with it!  Happy Anniversary to the guy, that drove me crazy every day; and who later became my best friend and partner in life.

  • 12 oz. loaf butter pound cake, few days old is perfect as it absorbs nicely
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup Myers Rum
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8- 1 oz. squares white chocolate, cut in large chunks
  • 8- 1 cup oven proof mini casserole dishes


Slice pound cake into 1 inch cubes and place evenly into mini casserole dishes.  In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, cream, milk, rum, sugar and cinnamon and blend well.  Pour even amounts into the casseroles, filling to almost the top.  Distribute the chocolate evenly around the casseroles, leaving a few pieces on the top of each dish.  Put the casseroles on a baking sheet in case they bubble over and bake for 45-50 minutes until center is set.   Best to serve right out of the oven as they soufflé up and look awesome with the rise.

Makes 8 servings. 

Putting the white chocolate on top lets it get nice and toasted- this is the best bite of the dish. 

I think to this day, we would all agree it was the best team we have worked with, and probably had the most pride in what was accomplished.  And this bread pudding is definitely the dish that has been most requested in my life. 

Cheers to a wonderful family born thru work, and a continued life time of happiness to my best friend.  Happy anniversary Sir Wes!

Caramelized Apple Upside Down Cornbread Cake

Yesterday was the first day of fall; did you know it didn’t start until 10:49 AM?  So those of you celebrating at Starbucks with your Pumpkin Lattes before…well, you cheated :).   I love the fall season and all the gifts it brings, even in Central Florida, where we seem to skip the refreshing cool, breezy days, you still see the harvest being celebrated despite the warm, sticky temperatures.

Pumpkins, apples, caramel, corn, root vegetables, and squashes are being turned out by women across the area, the same ladies that are forcing the jean and boot season to start as soon as the highs fall below 90.  I have learned after years of living in Central Florida to reluctantly join them, otherwise I’d miss the autumn season entirely. 

When I was at the College of Charleston I took a trip with friends to the mountains to see the leaves change colors.  We stopped at a road side market, where I insisted on buying some apples to make fresh apple sauce.  After the grill was going and happy hour had started I was able to coerce my friends into peeling apples; which I then chopped up and threw in a pot.  They simmered for about 8 hours, never getting to the point of apple sauce but they did become somewhat of a trip mascot.  We certainly did cheer them on!  I only pretended to know what I was doing in the kitchen when I was in college (sometimes I still do a little of that) but my love of apple baking was ignited.

This dessert is straight out of the South, right on Meeting Street, Charleston SC.   It was adapted from a recipe in The Local Palate, developed by Chef Frank Lee of SNOB and Maverick Restaurants


  • 8 ounces butter, split in ½
  • 1 & ¼ cup brown rice syrup
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered and seeded
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup self-rising flour


Preheat oven to 325.  In a heavy bottom, oven ready sauté pan over medium high heat melt 4 ounces of butter and 1 cup of brown rice syrup.  Arrange apples in the sauté pan round side down and remove from heat.  In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, buttermilk, ¼ cup of brown rice syrup.   Mix in cornmeal and salt, followed by flour.  Blend until just mixed and pour evenly over apples.   Bake for 35-40 minutes and cool for 5 minutes.

When ready to serve, place a large plate over the sauté pan (one with a deep surface as there is quite a bit of sauce) and gently flip.  Slice into wedges and garnish with whip cream and fresh apples.

Serves 8-10, depending how hungry!

A scoop of Brown Butter Ice Cream would be perfect to serve with this dessert- or even some of Chef Matt’s bacon brittle.  I am not a bacon eater, but I won’t keep you from adding it!

I told Sir Wes, that this would be a great appetizer if you replace the first butter with bacon and remove the brown rice syrup from the cornbread.  Bake it in small individual dishes and serve warm- bacon, apples and cornbread, sounds like a good combination.

Cheers to the beginning of fall, and of course the start of jeans and boot season!

Cherry Rose Hand Pies, a Homemade Childhood Favorite!

We have been taking a lot of trips to the beach lately, which for us is an all-day affair, living 1 ½ hours away from it.  So we get going early, pack a cooler and load the car and are on the road before the morning steam is finished rising.  I discovered last summer that packing chocolate really doesn’t work; it in fact just leads to a plain mess.  So this summer I went with hand pies, perfect for any picnic, lunch box or on the go treat.  I don’t want to knock Hostess or Little Debbie….but…

Cherry Rose Hand Pies

Cherries are in season, and to make these a little more special I added the rose water.  The flavors blend perfectly, giving a floral finish to the cherries.  If you are on Team Hate Rose Water, substitute vanilla extract and double the amounts.  I do know many chefs that detest rose water, but one chef I know recently told me, “Those haters just see it misused a lot”.  A little goes a long way in the case of rose water.

Hand Pies for Everyone!!


Pie Dough –

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 6 tablespoon ice water

Filling –

  • 2 ½ cup pitted cherries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon rose water
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch

Glaze –

  • 1/2 cup confectioner sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon rose water


 In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until mixed well.  Add the butter and shortening into the bowl and run until it looks like coarse meal.  Slowly add water in until the dough comes together.  Remove the dough from the bowl and knead into a ball.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour. 

While the dough rests, start the filling. In a medium sauce pan, combine the cherries, sugar, rose water, and salt. Over medium heat allow the ingredients to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring well.  As the juices from the cherries release, remove 4 tablespoons of the sauce and place in a small bowl.  Add the cornstarch into the bowl and mix well.  Stir the cornstarch slurry back into the sauce pan and continue to simmer, stirring constantly until you have the consistency of pie filling.  Remove from bowl and place in refrigerator to cool.

To make the hand pies divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll them into balls. On a floured surface, with a rolling pin, start flattening the balls into 6″-7″ circles. Place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375. Remove your dough and allow to stand about 5 minutes. In center of circle add 2 tablespoons of the filling and fold in half. Crimp the edges with a fork and poke the fork into the center of each pie to allow the steam to exit.  Place the pies back onto the parchment lined baking sheet and place in oven.  Cook for 30-35 minutes, until the crust is golden.

While the pies are baking, make the glaze by mixing all the ingredients in a small bowl, stirring until smooth.  Once the pies have been removed from the oven, allow them to cool slightly, and then spoon pour the glaze over them.  Allow the glaze to set while the pies continue to cool.

Makes 8 hand pies.  These can be refrigerated up to a week or frozen up to a month.

Lunch Box Favorite!

I love the portability of hand pies, easy and convenient.  But most of all, I love being taken back to the special days of my childhood that I would find a hostess pie in my lunch. 

Smores- Golden Graham Style!

I am not sure there is a better combination of sweets than chocolate, marshmallow and graham.  The joy isn’t just in the taste of the ooey gooey smores, but in the trip back to your childhood nights you take when you eat them.  Same can be said for Rice Krispie Treats- I feel like I am in the small desk at Woodland Elementary whenever I eat the kids treat.

Childhood Ooey Gooey Goodness

Inspired from childhood, my friend Alex and Macaroni and Cheesecake


  • 6 cups mini marshmallows, 1- 10 ounce bag
  • 1 12 ounce package semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 5 tablespoon butter
  • 6 cups Golden Graham Cereal
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

    All the flavor and no need to build the fire!


Place package of chocolate chips and 1 cup of marshmallows in the freezer to chill. Coat a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray.

In medium sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat.   Add in 5 cups of marshmallows and stir until completely melted.  Drop in the salt and vanilla and stir.  Once combined remove from heat and pour into your largest mixing bowl (I used my large tossed salad bowl).  Add the cereal into the mixing bowl and stir until well coated before throwing in the frozen chips and marshmallows.  When all is mixed well spread into the baking pan, pressing to evenly fill the pan.  Allow to set, storing in the refrigerator. 

Makes about 2 dozen squares.

Perfect Camping Treat

Added bonus – Pretty sure you can get the kiddos to do the dirty work to get these smores!

Peach and Tarragon Peach Mason Jar Pie

Happy Independence Day to all!  Sir Wes LOVES the 4th of July, I secretly think he has the goal to participate in Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest, which just thinking about makes me a little sick.  Most years we stick with a batch of Sangria, a cookout and a trip down to Celebration to see the fireworks instead.  Yesterday I made a dessert that would be perfect to pack on any picnic, park, beach, or backyard.

Peach and Tarragon Mason Jar Pies

I can’t resist the scent that comes from the piles of peaches at the market, the smell is so strong you can taste it.  I love this quote of a Farmer describing his peaches on NPR, “Drips off your elbows, drips off your chin, drips off your face, drips onto your shirt, onto your pants, onto your shoes … We just want the consumer to know out there, that this is an awesome fruit and it’s a great time of year.”

Easy Travel Peach Pie!

Fresh peaches and a leftover pie dough sheet in the fridge, perfect for this all American holiday!  I had a bit of fresh tarragon staring at me from the refrigerator shelf , so I added that into the filling.  I love adding herbs to fruit, they just add a different, refreshing twist.

  • 4 peaches, pitted and diced
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoon chopped tarragon (basil or cilantro will work here too)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 pie dough sheet, use your favorite recipe, or purchase one
  • 4 ½ pint mason jars

To prepare the filling:

Place all the peaches, sugar, tarragon and water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Allow to gently simmer, pulling out the juices of the peach, with the sugars thickening the juice.  After 15 minutes remove from heat and cool in refrigerator.

To assemble Mason Jars:

Roll out dough to a standard pie thickness, cut out 8 circles of dough by using the top of the mason jar.  In each jar place a cutout on the bottom and scoop the peach filling into the jars.  Top with the remaining dough. 

Place mason jars on baking sheet and cook in oven for 30 minutes at 425°.

The smell of peachs makes my mouth water!

Happy Independence Day, may we all appreciate the freedom we have, thanks to the service men and women who have provided it so courageously!

My Father’s Specialty- Doughboys!

Growing up my Mom was the one in the kitchen most days making dinner for the family, but my Father did have a few specialties.  Some good, and some just fun to remember!  He made great burritos, I still make them the same exact way at home for my family.  He also made great pancakes and held his own as the grillmaster.  He did make spaghetti one time, and I’ll just say it was only once, and Sir Ryan and I are still talking about it.  There are a few other traditional things my Dad makes during the holiday season, Nut Bread and Mincemeat Pie.   Now- the nut bread always disappeared within the same afternoon, but the mincemeat pie lasted a bit longer, it wasn’t our favorite.  

But with the mincemeat pie came something we loved…Doughboys, made out of the pie shell scraps.  A little cinnamon and sugar sprinkled and then baked, brought us to the kitchen like little dogs, begging for scraps.  Gone in minutes. 

My Dad was the only one that made them right!

With all the pies being baked in the kitchen over holidays, I think the Doughboys were the saving grace, from having one of us sneak a slice before dessert was served.

Dough Boys

  • 1 pie dough
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • flour
  • 1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped fine ( These are optional, and any nut could be used)

Roll the pie dough on floured surface a little bit thinner then you would a regular pie shell. Combine the sugar and the cinnamon, mixing well. Sprinkle the mixture over the pie dough and spread the nuts evenly. Cut the dough into thin triangles and roll into small croissants. I took half of the dough and rolled in a tube, threw it in the freezer for 10 minutes and then sliced it to make wheels. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in an oven, set at 425 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool and hide one for yourself before they are all gone.

Scooby Snacks

Of all the meals and treats my Dad ever made, this was my favorite, this was something that only came around once or twice a year but they were heavenly.

My Dad’s Famous Doughboys!

He has many talents, a couple of them in the kitchen, a few on the golf course, a lot in the business world but what he is best at, is being a Dad!

Filled with Good Memories!

Thanks Dad for being a loving Father and a trusted compass!