Denise Swanson - New York Times Best-Selling Author
 (Photo by David Stybr)
   Back     Next   
Chili Chili Bang Bang
Bibliography and Reading Group Guides
On the Lam
Skye Writing
Home Cookin'
Links and
Press Kit
Schedule an

Home Cookin'

Skye's the Limit!

Recipes: click to select
  1: May's Thumbprint Cookies  
  2: Double Fudge Chocolate Brownies  
  3: Sleeping Beauty Cookies  
  4: Elephant Ears  
  5: Barbie's Dream Fudge  
  6: Bunny's Pink Elephant Ears  
  7: In-Your-Face Pineapple Crush Pie  
  8: Bad Boy Brownies  
  9: Ditzy Blonde Dessert  
  10: Buried Cherry Cookies  
  11: A Royal Tea Party  
  12: Italian Wedding Cookies  
  13: Butter Pecan Cake with Penuche Icing  
  14: Crêpes Suzettes  
  15: Devereaux's Dime Store Valentine Muffins  
  16: Chocolate Peppermint Bliss Layered Dessert  
  17: Birdie Sinclair's Hummingbird Cake  
  18: Easy Zuppa Inglese  
  19: Uncle Tony Del Vecchio's Missouri Chili  
  20: Hot Spiced Rum Cider  
  21: Chocolate Almond Cherry Biscotti  
  22: Lavender and Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting  
  23: Red, White, and Blue Parfait  
  24: May's Lemon Bars  
  25: Tiger Cookies  
  26: Cyclone Cookies  
  27: Grandma Swanson's Chocolate Delight  
  28: Carmel and Apple Cider Cookies  
  29: Magic Charm Cupcakes  
  30: Fruit Cocktail Pudding  
  31: Dani's Lemon Blueberry Crumb Cake Waffles  
  32: Birdie's Black Walnut Carmel Tart  
  33: Tale and Treat's Blueberry Lemon Muffins  
  34: Survival Bread  
  35: Magic French Toast  
  36: Chili Chili Bang Bang  

Music: Wedding Belles by David Stybr (1 minute, © 2010)

Recipe No. 36: Chili Chili Bang Bang (September 2023) * Return to Top

Happy fall! After a long hot summer here in rural Illinois, I’m looking forward to some cooler weather. Although, I love a lot of the foods associated with autumn — pumpkin and apple and cinnamon — one of my favorites is a good chili.

In my new Chef-to-Go book, Chili Chili Bang Bang, Dani is involved in a Chili Challenge. She won’t share her recipe, but this is my favorite chili recipe.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 10 oz. cans diced tomato and chopped green chilies
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 6 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans unsalted kidney beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano


Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and next 3 ingredients (through ground turkey); sauté 4 minutes. Add tomato and next 5 ingredients (through red pepper). Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced by half (about 1 minute). Stir in stock. Combine 2 cans cannellini beans and 1 can kidney beans in a medium bowl; mash with a potato masher. Add bean mixture and remaining beans to pan. Bring to a simmer; cook 5 minutes. Add kale; cover and simmer 2-3 hours. Sprinkle with oregano.

Recipe No. 35: Magic French Toast (September 2022) * Return to Top

Happy fall! I'm looking forward to the cool crisp weather and fall foods. I love pumpkin and apple and cinnamon!

Growing up, Mom always made French toast for Sunday breakfast and told me that if I was a good girl, magic would make it puff up. When I got married and started cooking, I tweaked it a little. I increased the cinnamon and added vanilla.


  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1½ teaspoons Sugar
  • 1½ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Egg beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • Vegetable Oil
  • 8 slices of white bread


Preheat a generous amount of oil until 375°F.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Blend egg, vanilla and milk, then add to dry ingredients. Beat until smooth.

Dip bread slices into batter, turning to coat evenly.

Fry in oil for about 2 minutes per side until golden brown and puffy.

Recipe No. 34: Survival Bread (December 2021) * Return to Top

I was a little stumped on what recipe to include for my book Resurrection since my characters are too busy trying to survive to bake fancy desserts but then I thought of Survival Bread.

This bread is easy to make, doesn't require any kneading. My grandmother made this in the 1930's during the Depression.


  • 3 cups of warm water
  • 2 tbs. of sugar
  • 1 tbs. of active dry yeast
  • 1½ tsp. of salt
  • 3 cups of wheat flour
  • 2½ cups of all-purpose flour


Mix the water, yeast, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the salt and then the wheat flour one cup at a time. Once it becomes hard to stir, use your hands and add the all-purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time. Stop adding flour when your dough has formed a ball. It might still be a bit sticky. Leave the dough in the bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let rise until about doubled in size.

After the dough has risen, oil a covered Dutch oven and put inside your oven, then allow both to preheat 450°F. Place the dough into the hot Dutch oven and cover. Bake for 30 minutes. The finished loaf should be golden brown on top. For a crunchier crust, remove the lid and leave in the oven for a few additional minutes.

Recipe No. 33: Tale and Treat's Blueberry Lemon Muffins (July 2021) * Return to Top

  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries


Preheat the oven to 375° and line 6 large muffin cups with paper liners. (Hint: I spray the inside of the liners with Pam so they peel off the muffins more cleanly)

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a second bowl, beat together sugar, egg, yogurt, oil, milk, vanilla and lemon zest

Mix the wet and dry ingredients until combined, then gently fold in the blueberries. (don't worry about lumps)

Bake for 35-45 minutes on an upper-middle rack in your oven, until a knife inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Let cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing.

Recipe No. 32: Birdie's Black Walnut Carmel Tart (April 2021) * Return to Top

  • ¾ cup butter, at room temperature (divided)
  • ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt (divided)
  • 2 ¾ cups black walnut halves (divided)
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • ½ cup whipping cream


Preheat oven to 350°. Beat 1/2 cup butter and the brown sugar until smooth. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. Add flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt and beat until mixture forms a ball. Press dough over bottom and up sides to rim of a 9-inch tart pan. Freeze until firm, 15 minutes.

While crust is hardening, spread the walnuts on a baking pan and toast until lightly golden under skins, about 8 minutes. When walnuts are cool enough to handle, chop 2 cups.

Bake tart shell until golden, 16 to 18 minutes.

While crust cools, combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a 4-quart pan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then increase heat to high and boil, swirling mixture occasionally, until mixture is a deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in whipping cream, remaining 1/4 cup butter, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt (mixture will foam). Stir until smooth.

Spread chopped walnuts in tart shell, then pour in hot caramel.

Garnish edge of tart with reserved walnut halves. Let tart cool until caramel is firm enough to slice, at least 4 hours, or chill up to 2 days.

Recipe No. 31: Dani's Lemon Blueberry Crumb Cake Waffles (September 2020) * Return to Top

  • 12 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1¼ cups milk
  • 3¾ cups flour
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
Streusel topping:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter


All ingredients should be brought to room temperature.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, salt, sugars, baking powder, and vanilla until well combined and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream or yogurt and milk till well combined. You don't need to whisk out all the lumps.

Add the flour to the butter mixture alternately with the milk/sour cream mixture, beating gently to combine. Add blueberries.

Allow batter to rest while waffle iron preheats. Spray iron with nonstick cooking spray. Add batter to waffle iron and spread out a little with a spatula. Cook until waffle iron tells you they are done.

Streusel topping:

Whisk together the sugar, salt, flour, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter, stirring until well combined. Toast the topping on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle topping over waffle and drizzle with maple syrup.

Recipe No. 30: May's Fruit Cocktail Pudding (December 2019) * Return to Top

  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • ¾ cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 can Fruit Cocktail including syrup
  • 1/3 cup packed Brown Sugar
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix beaten egg and granulated sugar, then add vanilla, and fruit cocktail. Pour into a 2-quart casserole.

Stir in dry ingredients. Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts. Sprinkle on top of pudding.

Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Serve warm with whipped cream.

Recipe No. 29: Magic Charm Cupcakes (September 2019) * Return to Top

  • 1¾ cup Flour
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • ¾ cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 cup Brewed Green Mountain Dark Magic Coffee, Cooled
  • ½ cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Buttermilk


Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix eggs, coffee, oil, vanilla and buttermilk, then add to dry ingredients. Beat for 1 minute.

Pour into 12 paper lined jumbo or 24 regular cupcake cups. Fill each about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool and frost with your favorite vanilla or chocolate frosting. Decorate with a Dove Dark Chocolate Square.

Recipe No. 28: Carmel and Apple Cider Cookies (March 2019) * Return to Top

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 7.4 oz. of Spiced Apple Cider Drink Mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 14-oz. bag caramel squares


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl and set aside.

In a second large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, and apple cider mix until fluffy. Three to four minutes.

Beat eggs into butter mixture one at a time, and then add the vanilla.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture in three portions, mixing each just until incorporated.

Refrigerate for about an hour.

While your dough is chilling unwrap the caramel squares.

When dough is ready roll about 1½ tablespoons into a ball, then flatten slightly in your hand.

Press the caramel square into the center of your dough and seal the dough around it, covering it completely. Place two inches apart on parchment-covered cookie sheets.

Bake 12-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges. You need to really keep an eye on them and remove them as soon as you notice the cookies are starting to lightly brown.

Once the cookies are done, slide the parchment off the baking sheet right onto the counter. Allow cookies to partially cool on the parchment. When cookies are cool enough to be firm but still slightly warm, carefully twist them off the parchment and allow finishing cooling upside down.

Recipe No. 27: Grandma Swanson's Chocolate Delight (April 2018) * Return to Top

  • 1¼ stick of butter (melted)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese (softened)
  • 3 cups of milk
  • 16 ounces of Cool Whip (divided)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 8 ounces instant chocolate pudding mix

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Combine butter, nuts, and flour. Press mixture into a 9 X 13 - inch pan. Bake for 30 minutes, then cool. Meanwhile combine cream cheese, sugar, and 8 ounces of Cool Whip. Spread on cooled nut layer. Mix pudding with milk and spread on cream cheese layer. Top with remaining Cool Whip.

Recipe No. 26: Cyclone Cookies (September 2017) * Return to Top

  • 1/3 cup butterscotch, 1/3 chocolate, and 1/3 cup toffee chips
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup peanuts
  • 2 cups chow mein noodles

Set your microwave to 50% power. Melt the chips and peanut butter (3-5 minutes) in a two-quart microwave safe dish. Add peanuts and chow mein noodles mixing well. Drop generous tablespoons of mixture on wax paper.

Recipe No. 25: Tiger Cookies (March 2017) * Return to Top

  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups crushed sugar-frosted corn flake cereal
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; mix until fluffy. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into butter mixture. Stir in the crushed cereal. Melt chocolate chips. Swirl melted chocolate gently into dough. Melt butterscotch chips and swirl through dough. Drop cookies by heaping teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9 to 13 minutes.

Recipe No. 24: May's Lemon Bars (September 2016) * Return to Top

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1½ cups white sugar
  • ¼ cup + 1 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, blend together softened butter, 2 cups flour, and ½ cup sugar. Press into the bottom of an ungreased 8 X 11 inch pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm and golden. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 1½ cups sugar and ¼ cup flour. Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice. Pour over the baked crust.

Bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven. The bars will firm up as they cool. Dust with powdered sugar. Cool and cut into squares.

Recipe No. 23: Red, White, and Blue Parfait (July 2016) * Return to Top

  • Package of instant vanilla pudding
  • Package of cherry or strawberry instant gelatin
  • 40 blueberries

Prepare pudding as directed. Make sure it is fully set before next step. Chill 4 8-oz. glasses. Make gelatin. Keep at room temperature.

Assemble parfaits:

Pour ¼ cup gelatin into each glass. Chill until firm — about an hour. Spoon in ¼ cup pudding, smooth tops and freeze until firm — about an hour. Slowly pour ¼ cup gelatin over pudding in each cup. Chill until firm — about an hour. Top with final layer of pudding. Divide blueberries among parfaits and serve.

Recipe No. 22: Lavender and Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting (March 2016) * Return to Top

  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp. dried edible lavender
  • 11/3 cups cake flour
  • 1¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup + 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
Vanilla Frosting:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°F. In a food processor combine milk and lavender and pulse about 1 - 1½ minutes until lavender is well processed. Set aside and allow to rest.

Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. Whip butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Blend in honey. Add eggs one at a time and mix just until combined after each addition. Stir in lemon extract. Working in 3 separate batches beginning and ending with flour mixture, add dry ingredients alternating with milk mixture, mixing just until combined after each addition. Fill paper lined muffin cups 2/3 full and bake in preheated oven 19 - 21 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Allow to cool several minutes in muffin tin before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely before frosting.

For the Vanilla Frosting:

Whip butter on medium-high speed until nearly white and very fluffy. Add in powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract and mix on low speed until blended, then increase speed to medium and beat until very light and fluffy.

Recipe No. 21: Chocolate Almond Cherry Biscotti (November 2015) * Return to Top
Cuddle up to winter with a hot drink, tasty cookie, and a good mystery or a spicy romance —

  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup dried cherries, chopped

Heat oven to 325° F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the butter, eggs, and vanilla until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture just until combined (do not overmix). Gently fold in the almonds and cherries.

Shape the dough into two 12-by-3-inch logs. Place the logs on a large greased baking sheet and bake until just golden around the edges and firm to the touch, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes.

With a serrated knife, cut each loaf into ½-inch-thick slices. Place in a single layer on 2 baking sheets and bake until dry and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer the biscotti to a rack to cool completely.

Recipe No. 20: Hot Spiced Rum Cider (October 2015) * Return to Top
A spicy autumn drink, to enjoy while you read a spicy romance.

  • 2 lb. bag dark brown sugar
  • 2½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

Whisk spices together and add to brown sugar. Whisk until combined. Keep in a tightly covered container in refrigerator.

  • Heat 1 cup cider with 1 tablespoon of mix. Steep for 5 minutes.
  • 2½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • Add a shot of rum.
  • Garnish with cinnamon sticks, orange/lemon slices, or whipped cream.

Recipe No. 19: Uncle Tony Del Vecchio's Missouri Chili (March 2014) * Return to Top
Best eaten while watching reruns of Bonanza.

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 green peppers, chopped
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 clove garlic, minced

  • 6 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 - 16 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 - 15 oz. can Italian seasoned tomato sauce
  • 3 - 16 oz. cans of red kidney beans
  • 1 - tsp. vinegar

Sauté onions, pepper and garlic in olive oil. Add meat and brown. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder and cumin. Simmer for 90 minutes. After about 1 hour, add kidney beans and vinegar.

Recipe No. 18: Easy Zuppa Inglese (September 2013) * Return to Top


  • 10 ounce jar maraschino cherries
  • 1 teaspoon rum flavored extract
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 2 packages ladyfinger cookies
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 2 ounces slivered almonds

Prepare vanilla and chocolate puddings in separate bowls, according to package directions, then allow to set up for 5 minutes.

Place a layer of cookies on the bottom of a 9 X 13 inch baking dish. In a small bowl, drain cherry juice and add rum. Sprinkle one-third of the cherry juice mix over the cookie layer. Spread the vanilla pudding over the cookies. Repeat steps with cookies, cherry juice and chocolate pudding. Make final layer with cookies and remaining juice.

Whip cream and sugar together until soft peaks form. Top dessert with whipped cream, sprinkle with almonds. Refrigerate for 2 hours or more before serving.

Recipe No. 17: Birdie Sinclair's Hummingbird Cake (March 2013) * Return to Top

Cake Ingredients:
  • 1 package (21.6 ounces) yellow cake mix
  • 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple (do not drain)
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with Pam and dust them with flour. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pineapple and its juice, bananas, water, oil, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon. Beat on low for 30 seconds, then on medium 1½ minutes longer, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Pour into pans and place on the middle rack in the oven. Bake 28 to 32 minutes. The cake should be golden brown and the top should spring back when lightly pressed with a finger. Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges, and gently shake the layers to loosen the cake. Cool right-side up for 30 minutes before frosting.

For the frosting, place the cream cheese and butter in a medium-size bowl and beat on low for 30 seconds. Add the sugar, a little at a time, beating on low. Add the vanilla and cinnamon, then beat on medium for 1 minute. Frosting should be fluffy.

After the cake is assembled, sprinkle with finely chopped pecans.

Recipe No. 16: Chocolate Peppermint Bliss Layered Dessert (September 2012) * Return to Top

  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup sugar substitute
  • 6 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 16 oz. softened reduced fat cream cheese
  • 3 cups + 2 Tbsp. cold fat-free milk
  • 2 packages sugar-free instant
       chocolate pudding mix
  • 8 oz. frozen reduced-fat whipped
  • ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract

Combine graham cracker crumbs, ¼ cup sugar substitute and melted butter. Press into a 13x9-inch pan that has been coated with cooking spray. Place in freezer for 30 minutes.

Beat softened cream cheese, ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. milk and ¼ cup sugar substitute until smooth. Spread over crust.

Whisk 2 ¾ cup milk into the pudding mix for 2 minutes. Allow to set for 2 minutes in fridge. Spread over cream cheese layer.

Mix peppermint extract into thawed whipped topping. Spread over the pudding layer.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Recipe No. 15: Devereaux's Dime Store Valentine Muffins (March 2012) * Return to Top

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup softened butter
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1½ cups macerated fresh strawberries
  • 12 slices of fresh strawberry
       (should look like hearts)
  • Red granulated sugar

Preheat an oven to 350°F and place paper liners in cupcake pans. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and set aside.

Cream together the butter and 1½ cups sugar in a large bowl. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add the lemon extract. Stir buttermilk. Fold in strawberries. Stir the butter mixture into the flour mixture until dry ingredients are just moistened. Pour about ¼ cup of batter into prepared muffin. Place a strawberry slice on top of each muffin and sprinkle with red sugar. Bake 25 to 30 minutes — until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Makes 2 dozen.

Recipe No. 14: Crêpes Suzettes (October 2011) * Return to Top

Crêpe ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour (whole wheat flour is fine)
  • 2½ cups milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
Sift together flour and salt. Crack eggs into the center. Stir together. Pour in milk while stirring. When batter forms small bubbles on the surface stir in butter. Batter should be the consistency of cream. If thicker add a few drops of milk.

Heat crêpe pan, then use a paper towel wipe the interior with vegetable oil (you may have to repeat between crêpes). Pour a small amount of batter into pan and swirl the pan so the batter spreads evenly. Cook one minute then flip and cook for thirty seconds.
Heat ¼ cup butter, ¼ cup Grand Marnier, and 2 Tbsp. Cognac until bubbling, then add 2 cups orange marmalade. Stir until mixture returns to bubbling. Add one crêpe and allow topping to cover both sides. Fold into quarters and push to the side of the pan. Repeat until all your crêpes are coated and folded.
Recipe No. 13: Butter Pecan Cake with Penuche Icing (March 2011) * Return to Top

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2/3 cup softened butter
  • 11/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1½ teaspoon vanilla
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter and stir in pecans. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Cool.

Cream 2/3 cup butter; gradually add sugar and beat until sugar is dissolved and light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt, and add to creamed mixture alternating with milk, but beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in vanilla and pecans.

Pour batter into 2 greased and floured 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Watch carefully as this cake over-bakes easily. Cool layers in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely before frosting.
Penuche Frosting:
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
In a 2-quart saucepan melt butter, then add brown sugar. Bring to boil, stirring constantly, and boil for 2 minutes. Stir in milk. Bring back to boil, stirring constantly. Cool for 20 minutes. By hand, beat in powdered sugar, a little at a time. Add vanilla. Frost cake immediately.

Recipe No. 12: Italian Wedding Cookies (January 2010) * Return to Top

  • 1½ cups butter
  • ¾ cup confectioners' sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups finely ground almonds
  • 2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for coating

Preheat oven to 325°F

Cream butter in a bowl, gradually add confectioners' sugar and salt. Beat until light and fluffy. Add ground almonds, vanilla, and almond extract. Blend in flour gradually and mix well.

Shape into small balls (use a 1 oz. cookie scoop). Place on ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Do not brown. Cool slightly, then coat with confectioners' sugar.

Recipe No. 11: A Royal Tea Party (April 2009) * Return to Top

Skye's favorite tea is Earl Grey.

Fill a kettle with eight cups of fresh cold water and bring the water to a boil.

Pour a little of the hot water into the teapot, slosh it around to warm the pot, then pour it out.

Put nine teaspoons of Earl Grey tea leaves in a tea ball, and put the tea ball in the teapot.

Fill the pot with boiling water and let steep for three to five minutes.

Royal Tea Cake

  • 2½ cups flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup finely-chopped pecans
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 12 oz. of Rollos
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F

Sift dry ingredients together and set aside. Cream butter with sugar and beat in eggs one at a time. Add dry mixture, alternately with the buttermilk, to the creamed butter/sugar.

Melt Rollos and butter together, then add it and vanilla to above mixture.

Pour into greased Bundt pan and bake at 350°F for an hour.

Recipe No. 10: Buried Cherry Cookies (January 2008) * Return to Top
  • 10 oz. jar Maraschino Cherries
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1½ cup flour
  • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Drain cherries, but reserve the juice. Beat sugar and butter at high speed until fluffy. Add baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and beat until well mixed. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add cocoa powder and flour; beat until smooth. Shape dough into small balls and place two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press a cherry into the center of the ball.

Combine semisweet chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in saucepan. Over low heat, stir until chips are melted. Stir in 4 teaspoons of cherry juice. Spoon 1 teaspoon of chocolate mixture over each cherry. (Thin with additional cherry juice if necessary.)

Bake 10 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet, then transfer to wire rack and continue to cool.

Recipe No. 9: Ditzy Blonde Dessert (Lemon Fluff) (July 2007) * Return to Top
  • one 13-oz. can evaporated milk
    — placed in freezer for 1 hour
  • one 3-oz. package lemon Jell-O
  • 1¼ cups boiling water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 package Lorna Doone Cookies
    (or any plain shortbread cookie)
Dissolve Jell-O in hot water. Add sugar, salt, lemon juice. After it thickens slightly, whip until fluffy. Set aside. Whip partially frozen evaporated milk until thick. Mix in the vanilla. Add Jell-O mixture. Make cookies into crumbs and press 2/3 into bottom of a 9 X 13-inch pan. Spread lemon fluff mixture evenly on top of crust, and sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.

Recipe No. 8: Bad Boy Brownies (January 2006) * Return to Top

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup cold butter
Combine flour and sugar, then cut in butter until crumbly. Press firmly into a 13 X 9-inch pan. Bake 15 minutes in a preheated 350°F oven.
Brownie mixture:
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 14 oz. Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup Kahlua Liqueur
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ cup chopped nuts
Combine brownie mixture ingredients, adding nuts last. Spread over baked crust. Bake 20 minutes or until center is set.
  • ¼ cup butter (softened)
  • ¼ cup solid shortening (i.e. Crisco)
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 1 TBSP milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Combine ingredients, beat until smooth.

Recipe No. 7: In-Your-Face Pineapple Crush Pie (July 2005) * Return to Top

When Faith Easton, host of Faith's Finds, tells May her crusts aren't flaky and her daughter is too fat, Skye's mother nails the TV star with an In-Your-Face Pineapple Crush Pie. Pick up Murder of a Smart Cookie to see what happens next.

Mix milk, pineapple (do not drain) and lemon juice. Fold into Cool Whip. Smooth into crust and refrigerate overnight.
Recipe No. 6: Bunny's Pink Elephant Ears (July 2004) * Return to Top
Hi, I'm Sonny Boy's mother Bunny. After a really hard day I love to get gussied up and go have a drink in a real nice-looking cocktail lounge. Here's one of my favorite cocktails.
  • 1 pint vodka
  • 2 cans pink lemonade concentrate
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 4 trays of ice
Mix pink lemonade per instructions on can. Add vodka, slices of lime, and ice. Mix well.

Recipe No. 5: Barbie's Dream Fudge (November 2003) * Return to Top

  • 2½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 4 oz. evaporated milk
  • 1 oz. International Delight French Vanilla creamer
  • 1 jar (7½ oz.) marshmallow crème
  • ¾ tsp salt

  • ¾ tsp vanilla
  • 12 oz. semisweet chocolate pieces
  • 1 cup pecan pieces
Combine first six ingredients and stir over low heat until blended. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring constantly. Boil 5 minutes or until candy thermometer reads 240°F. Remove from heat and add vanilla, chocolate and nuts. Stir until well blended. Pour into a buttered 9 X 13-inch pan, place pan on rack, and allow to cool. Store in airtight container in dark, cool spot (do not refrigerate).

Recipe No. 4: Elephant Ears (April 2003) * Return to Top

Hi, May Denison here. In honor of Scumble River's bicentennial, here is my recipe for Elephant Ears.

Heat together (but do not boil) the following ingredients:

  • 1½ cups milk
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 tbs shortening

Cool to lukewarm.


  • 2 packages of dry yeast
  • 4 cups of flour — beat until smooth after each cup is added.

Put the dough into a greased bowl, cover with greased Saran wrap, and let stand until it has risen and doubled in size — usually about 30 minutes.

Pour an inch of cooking oil into a large, heavy skillet (cast iron is best). Heat the oil to 350°F. Dust your hands with flour, and tear off a piece of golf-ball-size dough. Stretch it into a thin 6-8-inch circle, and drop it into the hot oil. Let it fry until it rises to the surface, then turn it and fry other side until lightly browned.

Drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.

Recipe No. 3: Sleeping Beauty Cookies (April 2002) * Return to Top

  • 2¾ cups sifted flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup finely chopped pecans


  • ½ pound vanilla caramels
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¾ cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together flour and baking powder. In medium mixing bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, and egg yolks — beat with electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Using a wooden spoon, stir in vanilla, ½ cups nuts, and flour mixture. Form into teaspoon-size balls. Place an inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 15-18 minutes until golden brown. Remove and cool completely on rack. In a double boiler combine caramels and ¼ cup of water. Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Dip cookie halfway into the caramel and then into the nuts. Store covered in fridge. Makes about 6 dozen.

Recipe No. 2: Double Fudge Chocolate Brownies (October 2000) * Return to Top

Mix together and set aside:

  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup cocoa
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¾ cup nuts
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips

In a large bowl, cream ¾ cup softened butter. Then add 3 eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg. Add the dry ingredients and beat until smooth.

Spread in a greased 8 X 10-inch pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 325°F for 40 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Recipe No. 1: May's Thumbprint Cookies (May 2000) * Return to Top

Hi, you all know me. I'm May Denison, Skye and Vince's mom. When I heard Skye was writing a column on parenting, something no one needs instructions for, I marched right up to the newspaper owner and told him what his paper needed was a good recipe column. He said go ahead. Here's my best cookie recipe. Don't mess it up.

  • ¼ cup butter-flavored Crisco®
  • ¼ cup hard-packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • buttercream frosting

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix first five ingredients until smooth. Mix flour and salt, and add to butter mixture. Dough should hold together. Shape dough into 1-inch balls.

Beat egg white slightly. Dip each ball into egg white, and then roll in nuts. Place balls about an inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press thumb in center. Bake about 10 minutes. They should be tan, rather than brown.

Cool completely on rack. Fill with frosting. Frosting can be tinted to match occasion.

Makes 24-30 cookies. Recipe can be doubled.

  Back     Next     Home     Top  

Created 25 December 1999 * Updated 13 September 2023
© 2023 Denise Swanson * Der Webmeister: David Stybr

This web site is purely for entertainment and information purposes. We hope that you enjoy our simple yet informative format.