Au Gratin Potatoes

Au Gratin Potatoes are so delicious and really easy to make. Au Gratin can be made as a side for steak, chicken, or ribs. The potatoes are soft and the cheese is crusty and bubbly. 


3 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour
4 nice size potatoes slice thinly (I used a Mandolin)
1 cup of milk
1 cup of heavy cream
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of pepper
2 cups of shredded sharp cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 cup rectangular baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter. In a nonreactive saucepan, over medium heat, melt the remaining butter. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.


Whisk in the milk and heavy cream, cook until the liquid is slightly thick and coats the back of a spoon, about 4 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat. In a mixing bowl, toss the sliced potatoes with salt and pepper.

Fold in the cream sauce and pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top of the potatoes with the grated cheese.

Place the pan in the oven and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for a couple of minutes before serving.


BBQ Sauces: Spicy and Sweet

One of the best things of summer is barbecuing.  My husband and I usually BBQ all year long, but during the summer we really enjoy being outside by the pool and cooking some good food.  Today I made two BBQ is spicy and the other one sweet and tangy.

I found this recipe in the Food Network Magazine, and I thought why not give it a try.

Almost Famous BBQ Sauce-Spicy and a little darker in color


2 tbsp Vegetable oil
3 gloves of garlic smashed
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 3/4 cups apple cider vinegar
1/4 water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp mustard powder
2 tsp Instant espresso powder
3/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup ketchup
1 cup pineapple preserves
1/2 tsp liquid smoke

Heat vegetable oil in medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden about 1 minute.  Stir in tomato paste and chilli powder until incorporated, about 1 minute.  Whisk in the vinegar, water, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, honey, mustard powder, espresso black pepper and cayenne..bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Whisk in the ketchup and pineapple preserves. Simmer and cook for 45 or until thickened.  Whisk in the liquid smoke and let sauce sit until cool to room temperature.  take out the garlic.  Can refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.  You can use it on ribs and chicken.  Enjoy!!

Texas Style BBQ sauce– Sweet and Spicy


1 tbsp butter
1 small onion chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup of ketchup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 lemon juice
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chilli powder

In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium heat, add the onions and cook for 3 minutes add garlic, cook for 1 minute.  then stir in remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and the reduce to simmer. cook for 15-20 minutes to allow flavors to blend.  Enjoy with your ribs or chicken!!

Coconut Custard Pie

One of my favorite things to eat is coconut.  In my family we all love to eat anything that has coconut in it..from cakes to pies and even candy bars.  This recipe is one of my favorites.


4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup coconut — shredded
1 9-inch pie crust — baked

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat eggs slightly. Add sugar, salt, nutmeg, And vanilla. Mix well. Gently whisk in whole milk, evaporated milk, And cream. Fold in coconut. Pour mixture into baked pie shell.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tip for Smelly Onion or Garlic Hands.

People that come to my house usually ask me “Johanna what is this for?”  and when I tell them they are usually surprised.  Well, this is a Steel Soap and is used to get rid off the smells of onions and garlic from your hands.  When you chop onions or garlic the smell stays on your hands all day. Stainless Steel gets rid of the smell by running your hands under water with the steel soap, washing your hands like you would with a real soap.  Not sure why this works, but it does. So the next time you have smelly hands grab a spoon and try this, you are going to be amazed.

Pineapple Icee

There is nothing better than a nice Icee during these hot days.  Making Pineapple Icee is really easy..and is made from the peels of a pineapple..something that people usually just discard of.


Here is my recipe:

Take the peel from a pineapple and boil in a pot for about 15 minutes on medium heat in 4 cups of water, then simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes.  After the pineapple peels have cooked down, drain thru a strainer.  Now, take a couple of pineapple pieces and put thru the blender and puree.  Add this to the liquid.  Add about 3/4 cups of sugar or more depending on how sweet you want it.

Ice cream maker:

Once the liquid has cool down put it in the freezer for about an hour, to make sure the liquid gets really cold.  Then pour in your ice cream machine just as you would ice cream. Let it get nice and slushy.  If you don’t have an ice cream machine then pour into individual cups and freeze..Enjoy!!

Thirsty Thursday: Pina Colada

Thursday is the day where you start winding down from a hard week of work, and what a better way to help you slow down than with a nice drink. I really enjoy drinking Pina Coladas and I enjoy making them from scratch.  I personally like a virgin Pina Colada.  But for those that enjoy a little bit of rum here is the recipe. Add as much rum as you like..perhaps about 1/2 a cup or maybe more.


1 can of Coco Lopez
1/2 can of Pineapple Chunks
2 cups of Pineapple Juice
Ice about 3 cups
Rum (to your taste)
Maraschino Cherries

In a blender add the Coco Lopez, pineapple chunks, pineapple juice, rum and ice..mix well, pour into a nice glass add a couple of cherries and Enjoy!! Makes about 4 drinks. 

Traditional Pizza

Today, I’m going to teach you how to make a Traditional Pizza.  Starting with the dough and then the sauce.  I’ve been making pizza now for about 10 years, and is worth taking the time to make it.  Pizza is so easy to make, you are going to be surprised. With this pizza dough you can also make calzones.

With just one recipe you can make two 12-inch pizzas. I usually make two, with one I’ll make a regular pizza and a deep dish,  and I save the other one in the freezer to make calzones. Some of my favorite toppings are sausage (I buy it ground and cook it in a pan), pepperoni, and then I chop onions and peppers, and mozzarella cheese.  You can add any topping you want..make it your own. Make sure you have a pizza pan and a cutter.

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Get to know your Basil, Rosemary, Flat Parsley, Curly Parsley and Cilantro.  I decided to plant an herb box because I love cooking with fresh herbs.  I went out to my local home depot and purchased a medium size barrel planter big enough for my herbs.

Basil is commonly used fresh in cooked recipes usually at the last minute to maintain flavor.  Basil is one of the main ingredients in Pesto.

Rosemary can be used fresh or dried. It has a strong flavor so a little bit goes a long way.  Use sprigs for roasting, grilling or barbecuing meats.

Flat Leaf Parsley  (Italian) with flat leaves.  In general, flat-leaf parsley has a more robust flavor, while the Curly Leaf Parsley variety is associated with decoration.  Parsley is one of the main in ingredients in Chimichurri a South American condiment like pesto, that is made with parsley, garlic, oil and vinegar, which is terrific with steak.

Cilantro (coriander) leaves has been used in preparation of many popular dishes in Asian and east European cuisine since ancient times. When added in combination with other household herbs and spices, it enhances flavor and taste of vegetable, chicken, fish and meat dishes.

This is my herb garden.

Grilled Chicken with a Greek Salad

One of my favorite things to cook when I’m trying to watch my weight is chicken along with a healthy salad.  Tonight I made grilled chicken and a Greek Salad.  I start by putting the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them.

Pound the chicken breasts with a flat meat mallet, until they are about 1/2-inch thick.  Season with your favorite seasoning.  I like to season my chicken with salt, pepper, Penzeys Spices like Bangkok, Northwoods, and Barbecue.  This spices are not only great with chicken but also with fish.  Then I add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and grill for about 5 to 6 minutes on each side.


Flan is a dessert that I like to make during holidays.  It is creamy and delicious and the caramel is just perfect.  Flan is one of those desserts that don’t last long in my house.