Chess Pie Bars

Chess Pie Bars

Perfectly rich, custardy chess pie portioned into bars – perfect for serving just two people!

Chess Pie Bars

I am highly overdue with this post.

I took these photos weeks – nay, months – ago when I made this recipe, yet I have failed to share it with you. Perhaps I was waiting for juuuust the right moment.

You see, this recipe comes from my friend Christina’s cookbook – the aptly named Dessert For Two: Small Batch Cookies, Brownies, Pies, and CakesChristina was one of the very first “established” bloggers to befriend me when I started this site, and she remains a dear friend several years later. I was thrilled when she first told me that she had landed her first book deal – I knew that it would be positively amazing, because every recipe she cranks out is nothing short of mouthwatering.

As for my timing in telling you about this book, Christina just gave birth to her and her husband’s first little girl (joining their two babies of the four-legged variety) five days ago, so it seems only fitting that I should post this recipe now. (Make sure to pop over to Christina’s Instagram to check out some cutie-pie pictures of her newest addition – she’s a cutie for sure.)

Chess Pie from Dessert for Two Cookbook

This cookbook makes me happy because it contains all of the home-spun recipes you could want, sized down to serve just two people. I love chess pie, but that stuff is rich – there’s no way I could ingest an entire full-size pie and survive to tell the tale. So instead, I turned to Christina’s Chess Pie Bars recipe – Christina makes them in a loaf pan, with a shortbread crust like lemon bars. They’re easy to cut into 2 large or 4 smaller bars, and don’t leave the leftovers calling to you from the fridge every time you go to get a drink of water. (Don’t tell me I’m the only person who can hear her dessert taunting her from the other room.)

In short, you need to buy this cookbook. I would tell you more, but I’m too busy plotting what recipe I want to make next.

Chess Pie for Two


5.0 from 1 reviews
Chess Pie Bars
Yield: 2 large or 4 small bars
For the crust:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
  • ½ teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons water
For the filling:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
  • 1½ teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1½ teaspoons cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
Make the crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the butter, and kit it into the flour using a pastry blender or two knives until evenly incorporated. Add the vinegar and 3 tablespoons of water, and stir with a fork until a shaggy dough forms. If the dough doesn't clump together nicely and there are dry bits at the bottom of the bowl, add up to 2 more tablespoons of water.
  3. Press the crust into the bottom of an ungreased 9x5-inch loaf pan. Bake for 10 minutes and remove the pan from the oven. Then, turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees.
Make the filling:
  1. Sir together all the filling ingredients. Pour over the parbaked crust. Bake for 40 minutes. The pie bars are done when the top is nicely browned and dry.
  2. Let cool completely in the pan, and chill overnight for the prettiest slices. Serve chilled or warm, whichever you like.
While the instructions call for an ungreased baking pan, I lined my loaf pan with a "sling" of parchment paper across the bottom for easy removal of the bars once cooled.


Broccoli-Arugula Pesto

Broccoli-Arugula Pesto

Bright broccoli and arugula pesto with pine nuts and Parmesan makes for the perfect accompaniment to any dish.

This post is sponsored by Diamond of California, but all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that make this site possible. 

Broccoli-Arugula Pesto

Helloooo, friends! Greetings from the new Mrs. Predmore! <–Someone tell me when that will stop being weird to me.

I promise a full wedding post once we get our pictures back from the photographer (because visuals), but for now I say that Alex and I felt that the day was absolutely perfect. From the weather (80 degrees and sunny, which is basically a miracle for mid-April in the good ol’ Midwest) to the food to the guests, we were surrounded by beauty and love and could not have asked for more.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 8.29.07 PM

(Ok, if you want a sneak peek, you can snoop #StephieandAlex on the Instagrams. Go ahead, I’ll be right here when you get back.)

Alright, down to pesto – because I owe you guys something green and healthy. I promise, cake is on the way, but for now…we pesto.

Homemade pesto is one of our favorite things to keep on hand. It is easy, freezes like a dream (and, relatedly, thaws quickly), and makes for a healthy topping to pasta for a super simple weeknight dinner. We like to toss together some whole wheat pasta, a dollop of pesto, some seasonal veggies and some roasted shrimp or chicken for a meal full of all kinds of good-for-you things.

Broccoli and Arugula Pesto

I often reach for spinach or kale (or even both, as in my Spinach and Kale Pesto) instead of the traditional basil when making homemade pesto, but occasionally I like to really go for the nutritional gold and I throw in an entire head of broccoli instead. In this version, I added some peppery arugula, some pine nuts and some Parmesan to help round out the flavor. The best part is that this pesto doesn’t even necessarily taste like broccoli – my husband (ok, yep, still weird!) fed some to his coworker, a self-proclaimed broccoli hater, and he had no idea it had broccoli in it – he just thought it was delicious!

Make this Broccoli and Arugula Pesto immediately. The 10 minutes it takes will convince you to bypass the jarred stuff forever.

Broccoli Arugula Pesto

5.0 from 1 reviews
Broccoli-Arugula Pesto
Prep time
Total time
Bright broccoli and arugula pesto with pine nuts and Parmesan makes for the perfect accompaniment to any dish.
Yield: About 2½ cups pesto
  • 2½ cups fresh broccoli florets (about 1 small head of broccoli)
  • 2 cups arugula
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ cup Diamond of California Pine Nuts
  • 1 large or 2 small cloves garlic
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the broccoli florets and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the boiling water and immediately place in an ice bath to halt the cooking process. Once cooled, drain well.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor or a high-powered blender, place the cooked broccoli, arugula, lemon juice, pine nuts, garlic and cheese. Pulse until combined. Stream in the olive oil and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


French Breakfast Puffs

French Breakfast Puffs

These light, buttery pastries are rolled in cinnamon-sugar for the perfect breakfast treat or party sweet.

French Breakfast Puffs

Today is a very special day around here! And no, not just because I am actually posting 4 days before I get married – although, believe you me, that is pretty miraculous in and of itself. No, only a handful of things could persuade me to post this close to the wedding, and today it is because I am joining with some of my blogging friends to throw a virtual baby shower for our friend Christina from Dessert for Two!

Baby Shower Badge - Dessert for Two

Surprise, Tina! (Are you surprised? I hope you’re surprised.)

Christina was one of the very first “established” bloggers to befriend me when I started this site, and has remained a dear friend ever since. We bonded over our common understanding of southern grandmothers and remained friends because of our love of dessert. (Ok, maybe there are a few more elements to our friendship than just that…but baking is a pretty solid cornerstone.) Alex and I adore both Christina and her husband, Brian, and we could not be more excited for them as they welcome their first child – a baby girl! – into the world.

Cinnamon-Sugar Breakfast Puffs

For Christina’s big day, I dove into the family recipe files and pulled out this recipe for French Breakfast Puffs, which is a recipe my mother acquired during her junior high Home Ec class. This recipe is a cinch to make, and makes the most perfect little breakfast puffs dipped in melted butter and rolled in cinnamon-sugar.

Heaven help me.

Make these puffs for a breakfast, brunch, or even a baby shower. If the butter and cinnamon-sugar don’t automatically make you the most popular person at the party, I don’t know what will.

Make sure to check out all of the other recipes from Christina’s friends:

Fizzy Grapefruit Margaritas from Well Plated

Earl Grey Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream from Country Cleaver

Mini Bourbon and Bacon Tater Tot Casseroles from Climbing Grier Mountain

Maple-Chia Overnight Oatmeal from Feed Me Phoebe

Lemon Cake for Two from Keep It Sweet Desserts

Mini Raspberry Pavlovas from The Baker Chick

Almond Berry Cake Parfaits for Two from Edible Perspective

Peanut Butter Bourbon Blondies from The Frosted Vegan

Mixed Berry Mascarpone Scones from Bluebonnet Baker

Greek Yogurt Funfetti Cupcakes for Two from The Housewife in Training Files

Bourbon Barbeque Sliders with Bleu Cheese from Saucy Pear

Steak Fajita Tacos for Two from The Sweetphi Blog

Mango Madeleines from Stetted

Citrus Salad with Mint, Honey, and Lime from Rachel Cooks

Parfaits for Two from Order in the Kitchen

Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse with Coconut Whipped Cream from Joyful Healthy Eats

Blueberry Vanilla Cream Hand Pies from Eats Well With Others

Banana Pudding Cheesecake from The Domestic Rebel

 French Breakfast Puffs 3

PSA: When your nails match your dishes, you might have a problem. 

5.0 from 2 reviews
French Breakfast Puffs
Yield: 10 muffins
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup milk
For the topping:
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and mix until well combined.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients. Add alternately the dry ingredients with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Fill the muffin cups ⅔ full (should fill about 10 of the cups). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. While puffs bake, mix together the remaining sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl.
  5. Upon removing from the oven, immediately roll puffs in the butter, then then cinnamon-sugar mixture. Best served hot, but will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

Speaking of showers – A couple of weeks ago, some of my dear friends (Christina included!) threw me a surprise virtual bridal shower! I was so touched and adored all of the recipes, as well as everyone’s kind words. No one told me that getting married meant having all of the people say beautiful, touching things about you! Check out the posts from my friends as well – love and recipes abound!

The Cooking Actress – Chocolate Shoofly Pie with Pecan Whole Wheat Crust
Girl Versus Dough – Mini Meyer Lemon Coconut Scones
Sarcastic Cooking – Mini Buffalo Blue Cheese Chicken Pot Pies
The Roasted Root – Sweet Potato Rounds with Guacamole and Bacon
A Cedar Spoon – Strawberry Mint Mascarpone Crostini with Lemon Honey Drizzle
Very Culinary – White Chocolate Raspberry Parfaits
Rachel Cooks – Broccoli and Bacon Beer Cheese Dip
Bluebonnet Baker – Maple Bourbon Balls
Nutmeg Nanny – Broccoli Bacon Salad
Laura’s Mess – Spiced Apple and Buttermilk Cake
Seaweed and Sassafras – Herb and Cheese Scones
Stetted – Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie
All Day I Dream About Food – Chocolate Fudge Crumb Bars
Dessert for Two – Mini Lemon Cakes
Foodie with Family – Smoked Salmon Cucumber Pizza

Smoked Sausage and Roasted Vegetables

Smoked Sausage and Roasted Vegetables

Looking for a quick, easy and healthy dinner? Look no further than Smoked Sausage and Roasted Vegetables – a one-pan dinner wonder!

Smoked Sausage and Roasted Vegetables 2
Hi! Remember me?

I know I have fallen off the grid a little bit. I’m still hanging around on social media (so follow me on Instagram and Facebook if you want proof that I’m still alive!), but I’ve been working (a lot) and the wedding is one month from today so…things might continue to be a bit sporadic around here until after the wedding craziness dies down.

But in the meantime, I’ll give you a few life updates:

Some of my sweet friends recently threw me a pre-wedding brunch. I’m not a fan of showers (I hate games and small talk) so I’ve been refusing to call it one, but I would happily take this little gathering with this group of girls any day. Also: Wedding brunch = Best excuse to eat all the carbs.

I had my wedding dress fitting a couple of weeks ago. No, you don’t get any sneak peeks of the dress – that would be cheating! So instead I will just show you my best friend’s chubby-cheeked baby – he is my favorite little buddy. I think he could probably stand in as best man, what do you think? I’m sure Alex’s brother won’t mind.

In related news, this little nugget’s momma is officiating our ceremony and, let me tell you, interpreting Illinois marriage laws to make sure she has completed all of the necessary paperwork to do so has been an interesting adventure. Someone just promise me Alex and I will be married at the end of April 18th, ok? ‘Kthanks.

In non wedding-related news, Instagram followers will recognize this beautiful water-inspired silk scarf from the World Vision Gift Catalog that I’ve been wearing in anticipation of World Water Day this Sunday (March 22). Right now World Vision is conducting a Water Now social media campaign to bring awareness to the astounding need for clean water around the world leading up to World Water Day.  The need for clean water worldwide is great – an estimated 3.5 billion people around the world do not have access to enough safe drinking water – and it is so easy to bring awareness and add your voice. Head over to the Water Now webpage to see who is speaking out and to learn how to add your voice.

And, finally – in case you think I might have forgotten how to bake – I haven’t! I’ve been enjoying playing with recipes from Dessert for Two’s cookbook lately. I promise that the recipe in the photo above is coming soon (with “soon” being a relative term these days) – but for now, suffice it to say that I am obsessed with Christina’s first book and suggest you hightail it over to Amazon and pick yourself up a copy, too.

And now, a recipe! Glory be! This one-pan wonder is one of our go-to dinners these days. It is quick and easy, filling and good for you. To make it even quicker, cut and season everything ahead of time, and pop it in the oven when you are ready for dinner. You’re just 30 minutes away from a satisfying dinner.

Smoked Sausage and Roasted Vegetables


5.0 from 1 reviews
Smoked Sausage and Roasted Vegetables
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Yield: 4 servings
  • 1 pound smoked sausage (pork, turkey or beef - your choice)
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled
  • ⅓ to ½ head of cauliflower
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon each: Garlic powder, smoked paprika, dried oregano, dried basil, ground cumin
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Cut sausage and vegetables into relatively uniformly-sized pieces - about ½ to 1 inch. Cut harder vegetables such as potatoes and cauliflower into slightly smaller pieces, and faster-cooking vegetables into larger pieces - the goal is to have everything done at around the same time.
  3. Place all vegetables and the sausage into a large zip-top bag or a large bowl and toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper and spices to coat. Spread evenly onto the prepared baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway through, until vegetables are cooked and sausage is browned. Serve topped with fresh parmesan cheese, if desired.

*World Vision provided the lovely scarf, but I received no payment for promoting World Water Day and all opinions are 100% my own. 

Cranberry Ginger Cream Scones

Cranberry Ginger Cream Scones

Cream scones studded with dried cranberries and candied ginger are simple to make with an impressive taste.

Cranberry Ginger Cream Scones

TGIF, people!!

Did anyone else have a weird, stressful week? I am headed home this afternoon for my first wedding dress fitting this weekend and am so glad for a weekend full of things like best friends, no-chip manicures and Cranberry Ginger Cream Scones after a week like this one. Can I get an “amen”? (Hashtag: Priorities.)

Freaky Friday Blog Hop

In case you are looking for a little bit of an internet-retreat from the “real world” this weekend, I’ve got an extra surprise for you: Today I am joining several of my blogging friends for a fun “Freaky Friday” blog hop. Each of us made a recipe from another blogger in the group and are sharing that recipe on our sites today. Visit each of the blogs to learn more about all of us and snag some really great recipes!

Today’s recipe for Cranberry Ginger Cream Scones is a variation on a Cream Scones recipe from Debi over at Life Currents. Much like myself, Debi is an advocate for “getting back to real foods and methods.” Many of her recipes are healthy, but even those that are more indulgent – like these scones – are made with real ingredients. She is a big believer in home cooking, hates celery (preach, sister!), and loves using seasonal, local produce as much as possible. I’m definitely going to have to try her Smoky Cheese Chowder recipe soon (because cheese), as well as this super easy Pizza Tarts recipe (pizza.tarts, people!).

Cream Scones

So now, let’s chat about these Cranberry Ginger Cream Scones. I have shared some scone recipes with you before – Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Scones was one of the very first recipes on my site, and Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Scones are, frankly, pretty hard to beat – all of which used butter in addition to your liquid (usually buttermilk). While I will always love this method (because butter), cream scones are even easier to make, as the heavy cream provides both the fat and the liquid for the recipe. Seriously, these scones couldn’t be easier and yet the light, airy texture and indulgent taste are sure to fool your family and friends into thinking you spend hours slaving away to make them. They’re the perfect weekend brunch treat!

Head on over to Life Currents to see what recipe Debi made, and be sure to check out everyone else’s sites as well! You’ve got a lot of great recipes in your future.

A Dish Of Daily Life 
An Affair from the Heart 
Aunt Bee’s Recipes 
Big Rigs ‘n Lil Cookies 
Café Terra Blog 
Full Belly Sisters 
Honey & Birch
Life Currents
Pic Nic
Simply Sated 
The Foodie Affair 
Who Needs A Cape?

Cream Scones with Dried Cranberries

5.0 from 6 reviews
Cranberry Ginger Cream Scones
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cream scones studded with dried cranberries and candied ginger are simple to make with an impressive taste.
Yield: 8 scones
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1 heaping teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • Additional cream + turbinado sugar, for topping
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the dried cranberries, candied ginger and orange zest. Gently stir in the cream, mixing until just combined.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly 5-10 times, until the dough just comes together and loses some of its stickiness. Gently pat the dough into a circle about 8 inches wide and ¾ inch thick. Cut the circle into 8 wedges.
  4. Place wedges on the prepared baking sheet, about ½ inch apart. Brush the tops lightly with additional cream and sprinkle with a bit of turbinado sugar. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Move to a wire rack to cool or serve warm.
  5. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Granola Cookies

Granola Cookies

Stuff your healthy granola into a perfectly chewy Granola Cookie. You can thank me later.

Granola Cookies

I mean, c’mon.

Do I really need to go into a long description about these cookies? Do I need to write you paragraphs about how chewy they are? Must I tell you that the brown sugar and butter do magical things to the already-magical granola? Is it necessary to tell you that a smidgen of almond extract take these beauties over the top?

The name really says it for itself, doesn’t it?

Granola. Cookies.

If you think you like oatmeal cookies – which I do – then you simply must try making Granola Cookies. They are everything an oatmeal cookie should be, taken to the next level.

It truly is one of my greatest gifts to be able to take something perfectly healthy for you, such as last week’s Coconut Ginger Almond Granola, and turn it into something…well, significantly less healthy.

But sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do. And some days, you just need a cookie.

Granola Cookies

5.0 from 1 reviews
Granola Cookies
Yield: 18 giant cookies
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 cups granola
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together on medium speed until lightened in color and creamy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extract; beat on medium speed until well combined.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add in the granola and mix until just incorporated.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop to scoop about ¼ cup of dough at a time onto the prepared cookie sheet. These make very large cookies, so leave at least 2 inches of space between them - you will likely be able to fit no more than 6 cookies per sheet.
  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the edges are golden and the centers are set. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Store in an airtight container for up a week - if they last that long.