Vegetable Beef Soup


My mother gave me this recipe during the early years of my marriage. It remains a favorite as the weather here in New York is just as amenable to soup as it was in Wisconsin where I grew up. I believe the original recipe (before I tinkered with it) may have been a Weight Watchers one and was termed a “diet soup.” However, don’t let that deter you. This is a very flavorful and satisfying soup that just happens to be really good for you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Vegetable Beef Soup

1 lb. hamburger
3 c. water
5 cubes beef bullion
5 c. coarsely cut cabbage
2 c. sliced celery
2 tsp. dried onion flakes
5 c. V-8 Juice
2 c. frozen green beans
2 T. lemon juice
4 T. sugar
Splash of Worcestershire Sauce

Brown hamburger and drain off any fat. Add to remaining ingredients and cook until vegetables are tender.

Copyright © 2017 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved


Christmas Cranberry-Orange Upside Down Cake


I love cranberries with orange and I love upside down cake. What could be better than the combination of the two for Christmas?

I hope you have a blessed and very Merry Christmas!

Christmas Cranberry-Orange Upside Down Cake

6 T. butter
¾ c. brown sugar
2 T. fresh orange zest (if you are using dried orange zest, use 1T.)
12 oz. fresh cranberries

½ c. butter, softened
¾ c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 c. flour
2 tsps. Baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
¾ c. milk

In a small saucepan, melt 6 T. butter, combine with brown sugar and orange zest. Spread evenly on the bottom of a greased 9 inch round cake pan. Spread cranberries over the top.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients alternately with the milk to the creamed butter mixture until well incorporated. Spread evenly over the cranberry layer.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a large plate. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or cool with whipped cream.

Copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

Holiday Candy

From my sister-in-law’s blog, a few sweet treats to include for the holidays. . .

Erickson's Heirlooms

Last year I discovered a couple recipes for making candy the easy way – in the microwave. So, this year, I decided I would try to find a few more recipes.  And, since fudge is a traditional holiday treat, I thought I would try a few microwave fudge recipes. I found two different types of recipes – one using sweetened condensed milk and the other using evaporated milk and marshmallow fluff.

Peanut Butter Fudge
3 cups Peanut Butter Chipsimg_1999
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup Peanut Butter
1/2 cup finely chopped, salted peanuts
1  cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

Line a 9″ pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  In an 8 cup microwave bowl, microwave chips uncovered on medium in 1 minute increments for 3 to 4 minutes until melted and smooth, stirring well after each minute.  Stir in milk, peanut butter, and peanuts…

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Until the recent past, my Christmas cookie traditions always included making a number of Scandinavian specialties: Rosettes, Krumkake, and Sandbakkels. My husband loved them all–each of them a bit fussy in the making but well worth the effort. Normally I shy away from what I call “fussy food” as I have a patience problem with the process which “edible art” requires. However, I make an exception for these three cookies. The original recipe for these Sandbakkels comes from a small cookbook of Scandinavian Recipes by Julie Peterson Tufford given to me many decades ago by a 90+ year Norwegian woman who was a resident in a nursing home where I worked in Blackduck, Minnesota (see cover page of cookbook below).

Sandbakkels are basically a shortbread cookie pressed into small fluted molds and baked until just golden brown on the edges and the center is set. The final result is a rich buttery cookie perfect with a cup of freshly brewed coffee.


1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. flour
Yolks of 2 eggs or 1 whole egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla (or almond extract, if you prefer)

Cream butter until soft, beat in sugar, then add egg yolks and beat until creamy. Gradually stir in flour and work dough until well mixed. Take a small piece of dough and press into fluted Sand Bakkels pans, spreading dough as thin as possible. This makes a cup shaped cookie. Bake at 350 degrees about 15-20 minutes until edges are golden brown and center of cookie is set; cool and remove from pans, being very careful not to break them, as they are very fragile. This makes about 45-60 tarts, depending on the thickness of each tart. These come out of the tins much more easily if the tins are sprayed with Pam first.

Original Content Copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

Editors Note: The photo above of freshly baked Sandbakkels is courtesy of my sister-in-law, Sharon Johnson, who also makes these at Christmas. Thanks, Sharon–wish I was there to share a few with you.

Photo of the face page from the cookbook which is still available on


Spinach And Tuna Casserole


I used to make this casserole when my husband traveled for business. The reason? I love it and he hated it. Because I made it for myself, I could enjoy it over several consecutive days extending my enjoyment and reaping the benefit of not having to cook more than once while he was gone. His issues with this dish were two-fold: he didn’t like spinach and he didn’t like Parmesan cheese–but I do!

I have made this recipe with both Miracle Whip and mayonnaise. Even though the taste is the same, it seems that the Miracle Whip holds up a little better, keeping the casserole more moist.

Spinach and Tuna Casserole

2 cans tuna–drained
2 boxes frozen, chopped spinach–cooked and well drained (squeeze out the extra water otherwise the casserole gets too watery)
2 T. lemon juice
¾ c. Miracle Whip or mayonnaise
½ c. grated Parmesan cheese (the kind in the green can)

Mix together the above ingredients and place in greased 8x8x2 inch baking dish.

Top with an additional ½ c. grated Parmesan cheese (or more if you love Parmesan cheese).

Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly and the cheese has started to turn golden.

Serves 4-5.

Copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved


Chocolate Mousse Dessert


I remember the first time I tried this recipe. I figured chocolate mousse would be time consuming and difficult to make–after all, for something that tastes so divine, it must be difficult, right? Wrong! This is a very “showy” dessert. Placed in a decorative bowl, topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with additional chocolate chips, every one will think you spent all day slaving in the kitchen. No need to tell them how easy this was to make. Let them think you are a master dessert chef. The beauty of this recipe is that you can change the Amaretto to whatever flavor you happen to love with chocolate. If you don’t want to use a liqueur, make the recipe with water and add an additional teaspoon of whatever flavor extract you like–almond, orange, raspberry, cherry, pick your flavor–to the vanilla extract.

Chocolate Mousse Dessert

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 T. Amaretto (or other flavored liqueur, or water)
4 large eggs–whites and yolks separated
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. heavy whipping cream–divided
1 angel food cake–prepared and torn into bite-size pieces

In saucepan, melt chocolate chips with liqueur (or water) over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and beat in egg yolks one at a time, stirring constantly. Stir in vanilla. Pour into large bowl and set aside. In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Stir about 1/4 of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Partially fold the remaining beaten eggs whites into the chocolate mixture.

Whip 1 c. of the whipping cream until stiff. Fold that into chocolate/egg white mixture until all is well incorporated. Gently add angel food cake pieces, stirring until the cake pieces are well coated. Pour into a decorative serving dish. Poke with knife to remove any air bubbles that may remain. Cover and chill for 4 hours. Top with the remainder of the whipping cream (1 c.) that has been beaten stiff. Decorate the whipped cream with a few additional chocolate chips.

Copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

Mom J’s Rhubarb Crumble


I love rhubarb, but I am the only one in my family who does. I have fond memories of my grandmother’s rhubarb pies as a girl.  She grew rhubarb in a small garden plot in the back yard of her Milwaukee bungalow and was a master baker who could be counted on to have something delicious coming from the oven whenever we visited. The following is my mother-in-law’s recipe using rhubarb and is one of my favorites. She was blessed to have an ample supply of rhubarb from her Minnesota garden and often made this during summer’s bounty.

 Mom J’s Rhubarb Crumble


3 eggs, beaten
6 T. flour
2 c. sugar
7 c. sliced rhubarb
 (I used frozen rhubarb thawed on the kitchen counter)

Mix together beaten eggs, flour, and sugar. Add rhubarb , tossing until all the fruit is coated, and put in greased 9 x 13 inch pan.


Mix together and sprinkle over top of fruit:

2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. softened butter
1 1/2 c. flour

Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until brown and bubbly. Cool. Serve with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved


Meat And Potato Quiche


Another of my husband’s favorites, this proves that real men do eat Quiche. If you want to shred the potatoes the old-fashioned way, you may in place of the frozen hash browns. Also, you can mix and match the meat and cheese if you prefer a combination that’s a bit different from the ones suggested as long as the proportions remain the same. Having a potato crust for this Quiche makes it a bit more of a hearty meal than the standard Quiche offering.

Meat And Potato Quiche

Preheat oven to 425°

Stir together and press evenly into 9 inch pie plate:

3 T. vegetable oil
3 c. shredded frozen hash browns–thawed

Bake at 425° for 15 minutes until beginning to brown. Remove from oven.
Layer on:

1 c. grated Swiss or cheddar cheese
3/4 c. cooked diced chicken, ham, or browned sausage
1/4 c. chopped onion–sautéed

In a bowl, beat together:

1 c. evaporated milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Pour egg mixture over the other ingredients. Sprinkle with:

1 T. parsley flakes

Return to oven and bake at 425° for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned and knife inserted about 1 inch from the edge comes out clean. Allow to cool 5 minutes before cutting into wedges.

Serves 4-5

Copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved


Double Chocolate Banana Cupcakes


Double Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

Talk about delicious! This is a wonderful alternative to traditional banana bread using those bananas no one will eat because they have gotten way too ripe sitting on your kitchen counter.  Tuck one into your child’s lunch box, grab one for yourself with a quick cup of coffee, or take a plate of these along to your next potluck dinner. 

Double Chocolate Banana Cupcakes 

4 medium-large very ripe bananas
½ cup organic coconut oil, softened (room temperature)
¾ cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup Cocoa Powder (I like Penzey’s)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks (I like Trader Joe’s but use whichever you like)

Additional chocolate chunks, to garnish cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place cupcake liners into muffin tin.
Place bananas (break up into smaller pieces), coconut oil, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla into your stand mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed for 1-2 minutes until well incorporated and bananas have broken down. In a small bowl, mix together the baking soda, salt, flour, and cocoa powder. Gradually add to banana mixture on slow speed until completely incorporated. Then gently stir in the 1 cup of chocolate chunks.

Gently spoon the batter into prepared cupcake liners and evenly sprinkle with additional chocolate chunks.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Cupcakes freeze well.

I have not made this as a cake but I would think transitioning this recipe to a 9×13 inch pan would be extremely easy. Adjust baking time.


Copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

Marinated Cucumbers and Tomatoes

Marinated Tomato And Cucumber Salad

This is an excellent vegetable salad to take to a picnic. The amount of tomatoes, cucumber, and onions are deliberately left to your discretion. If you are making a huge salad to share, double the marinade ingredients so that there is plenty for all the vegetables. You could also cut the vegetables into chunks for easier managing on paper plates. The vegetable combinations for this salad are numerous if you have other vegetables you prefer over the traditional cucumbers and tomatoes.

Marinated Cucumbers and Tomatoes

Sliced or cubed tomatoes
 (or cherry tomatoes cut into halves)
Sliced or cubed (seeded if you wish) cucumbers (peeled or not–your choice)
Sliced sweet, mild onions (red onions work well) or sliced green onions


1/3 c. vegetable oil
3 T. vinegar
1/2 tsp. dill weed
 (I use dried but you could use fresh)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. pepper

Blend marinade ingredients with whisk. Pour over cucumbers, tomatoes, and thinly sliced onions.

Chill 6 hours. Before serving, gently spoon marinade over vegetables until well coated.

Copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

Lime Cake With Toasted Coconut Frosting

Lime Cake With Toasted Coconut Frosting

This recipe is an adaptation of a cake that looked absolutely scrumptious on Pinterest–I just knew I had to make it. So, as I often do, I made the cake and took it to our Home Fellowship group to try it out on a very willing group of “guinea pigs.” It was a success! The original recipe was made in two loaf pans, which would make a very pretty presentation, uncut, on a plate.  I would not recommend making this into a layer cake. The cake is dense, moist, and delicious but would likely compress the layers if made that way. I also increased the amount of toasted coconut, as we are crazy for coconut in our house. Please feel free to use less should you desire.

Lime Cake With Toasted Coconut Frosting

2 ¼ c. unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 1/3 c. sugar
6 T. softened butter
2-3 T. lime zest (takes about 2-3 limes to get this much zest)
4 T. freshly squeezed lime juice (from the limes you just zested)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 ¼ c. buttermilk
2 T. softened butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 ounces softened cream cheese
4 T.  half and half or whole milk
4 ½ c. powdered sugar (or more depending on consistency)
Toasted Coconut:
2 c. shredded sweetened coconut–toasted at 350° in the oven until golden brown, watching carefully and stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t burn!

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9×13 inch pan. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt–set aside. In another bowl, mix together at medium speed (until well combined), the sugar, butter, lime zest, and lime juice. Add eggs, one at a time–beat well after each egg. Then, alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to sugar/butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour–beating well after each addition.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Bake at 350°F  for 35-40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted comes out clean. (You can also divide the batter between two loaf pans baking about 30-35.) Cool completely.

For Frosting: Mix softened butter, vanilla, softened cream cheese and half and half (or milk) together until combined. Add powdered sugar in small batches (beating well to reduce lumps) until desired consistency. Frost cooled cake and distribute toasted coconut evenly on top.

Keep refrigerated.

Adapted from She Wears Many Hats:

Copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

Sweet Corn Pudding

Corn Pudding-2-Photobucket

The recipe has been a favorite at our holiday table when ever I make it. Not just for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners, it also goes well with Easter’s ham. Another of my famous “clip” recipes, I unfortunately do not remember where I clipped it from. Either way, I hope that you enjoy this lovely corn pudding.

Sweet Corn Pudding

4 c. frozen corn kernels (about 19 oz.)–thawed
4 large eggs
1 c. whipping cream
1/2 c. whole milk
6 T. sugar
1/4 c. butter at room temperature
2 T. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter 8x8x2 inch glass baking pan. Blend all ingredients in food processor until almost smooth. Pour into dish and bake until brown and center is just set–about 45-60 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Can be doubled but will increase the baking time somewhat.

Serves 8

Copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved


Gingerbread Scones

Gingerbread Scones-Photobucket

This is a great “make-ahead” recipe. Having the dry ingredients mixed and ready for the addition of egg, milk, and molasses, makes this an easy addition to a weekend breakfast or brunch. Served with Devonshire cream or lemon curd, you could almost believe you are sitting at a small café in the English countryside sipping a cup of tea and enjoying the scenery.

 Gingerbread Scones 

Dry ingredients/Make Ahead Mix:

3 ¾ c. flour
½ c. packed brown sugar
2 T. baking powder
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¾ c. shortening
2 T. milk
1 T. molasses
1 egg, beaten

½ c. raisins or currents (optional)

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse crumbs. Store in airtight container—up to 6 weeks at room temperature or 6 months in freezer. Can also fill 3 Ziplock bags with 1 ¾ cups mixture each—enough for one recipe.

Place gingerbread mix (1 ¾ cups) in medium bowl. Make a well in center. Combine 2 T.  milk, 1 T. molasses, and 1 beaten egg; add to dry mixture. Stir until just moistened. Turn out on to lightly floured surface. Knead gently 10-12 times, or until dough is nearly smooth. Pat or roll lightly into a 6” circle and cut into 6 wedges. Place wedges about 1” apart on baking sheet. Brush with a little milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes until bottoms are browned. Drizzle with your favorite white icing when cool. Serve with Devonshire cream or lemon curd.

Copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved


East-West BBQ Chicken


I clipped this recipe out of a magazine twenty to thirty plus years ago. If I remember right, it was Bon Appetite, but can’t be sure. Either way, this is a delicious twist on traditional barbecue chicken. A bit of international flair will add interest to your next evening meal.

East-West BBQ Chicken

4 chicken breasts
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ c. orange juice
1 T. olive oil
¼ tsp. dried red pepper flakes
¼ c. chili sauce
¼ c. hoisin sauce

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Whisk together mustard, orange juice, olive oil, and red pepper flakes. Pour over chicken, turning to coat evenly. Let chicken marinate 2-4 hours.

Bake chicken at 350° for 45 minutes. Mix chili sauce and hoisin sauce together. Brush chicken with sauce and bake an additional 20-25 minutes.

Serves 4

Original Content Copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

Chicken Curry Pasta Salad

Chicken Curry Pasta Salad

Another of my husband’s favorite summer salads, we often had this as our main meal during the hot summer months in Houston. The great advantage to this salad is that if I plan it right, we can have it on two consecutive nights, giving me a night off from cooking. This salad is a great way to use up left-over chicken. I generally pick up a Rotisserie chicken for dinner one night and use whatever we don’t eat to make this salad the next. You will notice that the curry powder amount listed in the recipe gives you some latitude as to degree of heat. We tend to like our curry flavor on the bold side as a contrast to the sweetness of the apples and raisins.

Chicken Curry Pasta Salad

2 c. uncooked pasta–cook in salted water according to package directions; drain well (use whatever shape you like)
2 c. cooked diced chicken
2 apples peeled and chopped (I like Gala or Fuji, but your choice here)
¾-1 c. raisins (depending on how much you like raisins)


¾ to 1 c. mayonnaise (depending on how moist you want your salad)
1-3 T. curry powder (depending on how much curry flavor you prefer)

Mix together the salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix the mayonnaise and curry powder. Fold the dressing into the salad ingredients until well incorporated. Makes a large salad. Keep refrigerated.

Copyright © 2016 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved