Navigation Menu

Recipe for a killer hot toddy



Posted by on Oct 27, 2012 | 1 comment

31-Days-of-Travel-in-Europe-PENSIEVEWhy not a recipe for 31 Days?  This one is perfect with winter on the way!  In words and pictures, a drink that'll warm you from the inside out.


Until today, I never knew a hot toddy was anything other than any ol' generic hot drink on a cold day.  And I also didn't know Germans were well acquainted with the Southern gent, Jack Daniels.

Sometimes it's good to be ignorant.

Here, in my Mayberryesque Bavarian hometown, I ride my bike to get places; most are within 10 minutes or so, but Margarete lives a little further out.  Invited over for an afternoon cake date, and because the weather has taken a fast turn towards winter, I wanted to drive.  But my son had other ideas; joining us for a bite of dessert, he and Margarete's son were meeting a group for soccer after.  He wanted to ride bikes, and because this was actually a going-away party for him, it was pointless for me to argue.  Once again, I was shamed into two wheels from the child I carried for nine months on two legs.  

I shoulda reminded him of that.

When the sun sets, the temperatures drop quickly.  It was about this time Margarete's husband arrived home from work, and he knew I'd be leaving shortly.  "It's freezing out there!" he declared, and he asked if I'd like a hot toddy to warm me up before heading home.  

Not wanting to create work for him when he had just left work, and because I wasn't yet cold, I graciously declined the offer. But he was insistent and persuasive and I can only say no so many times before it borders on rude.  Right?


I had as much fun watching him at work as I did sipping this curiously affecting libation, a mixture of sweet and spice and citrus and fire, and though my pictures aren't the best, I'd like to jot down the recipe before I forget.  Why keep a good thing to myself when it's so easy to share?


Killer Hot Toddy

Photo 1
1.  Slice lemons 1/4" thin and pierce through with five cloves.

Photo 3

2.  Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar in the bottom of your favorite mug and drop the cloved lemon on top.


Photo 3
3.  Pour a shot of Jack Daniels over the lemon and sugar.  This is where my friend says, "Experiement!  Try different whiskeys!  Use more alcohol. Use less alcohol.  Play with it to see what you like best."  I'm thinkin' it's all good.


Photo 5
4.  Slowly pour boiling water over the mixture.  Add a splash of cold to cool it down for immediate consumption.  That last tip is important if you're eager to try it NOW.

That's it–simple and quick. The hot water quickly melds all those flavors together into a memorable, spicy, sweet concoction.  And it warms you from the back of your throat to the tips of your toes.

Let's just say during my bike ride home I barely noticed the sub-Arctic tundra my wicked son forced me to endure.

Hot toddy for the win!


More Recent Posts

Chicken Noodle Soup: so much more than comfort in a bowl



Posted by on Jan 31, 2012 | 3 comments

January is National Soup Month–am I the last one to know?  It makes perfect sense since we're right in the middle of Cold and Flu season, but I had no idea it was official.  Except I can't find who actually made it official, but Goggle it and you'll see an awful lot of people are proclaiming it to be.

Working with Vicks VapoRub the past several months has given me reason to think about the things that make me feel better when I'm sick.   Pepsi over crushed ice is the first thing that comes to mind; that was a wonder drug for me as a child (and stirs precious memories of my mom).  It's still the thing I want most when I'm feeling lousy.   

And though I rarely lose my appetite when I've got a cold (or when it's cold), the comfort food I CRAVE is soup.  Is there anything better than a steaming bowl of {your favorite soup} when you're feeling lousy or the temperatures drop?  My mother-in-law's Chicken Soup is a simple recipe you might want to try; it contains the basics and it's an easy one for new or experienced cooks:


  • Whole chicken (cut up is fine)
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 chicken boullion cubes
  • 8-oz linguine noodles
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken in stock pot and cover with water; add salt.  Bring to a boil, then lower temperature and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.  Remove chicken, debone and cut or pull into bite sizes.*

Add chopped celery, carrots and onions.  Bring back to a boil and then add boullion cubes.  Lower back to a simmer and cover for about 20 minutes, then add linguine noodles and simmer for an addition 9-10 minutes. 

Serve with your favorite crackers or cornbread and, I promise, you'll feel better!

Your turn:

1)  Check out Vicks® Nature Fusion™ You Tube channel for wonderful recipes and ideas by Chef Curtis Stone.  You'll be pleasantly surprised with his healthy choices and delicious options.  Plus, he's easy on the eyes… ;).

2)  Please share your favorite "feel good" cold & cold weather recipes.  I'm always looking for the next best recipe in the world!



More Recent Posts

The BEST Potato Soup in the World!!



Posted by on Dec 28, 2011 | 5 comments

Sauteeing diced potatoes, celery & onionsMy failing as a food blogger may be my forgetfulness to photographically document the process, but s w e e t mercy, when I do share a recipe?  It's money.  Tried and true with plenty of proof in the puddin' (or cake or pie or veggie or mac and chesse or …!), I'll stack my favorite recipes against Paula Deen, Martha Stewart, Pioneer Woman, Southern Living or Rachael Ray any day of the week.

My friend Isabel hosted a soup dinner before Christmas; and I'm not too proud to admit I wanted to lick the bowl after trying her version of Potato Soup.  Out goes my old recipe, in with hers.  And the secret ingredient?  A method that was new to me but probably familiar to many. 

Isabel's Best Potato Soup in the World


  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced*
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup butter (mmmm, an entire stick!!)
  • 5 cups milk**
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Dash of cayenne pepper


  • Combine potatoes, onion, celery and butter in large saucepan.Cook over low heat 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently.  
  • Do not brown.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients; bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Remove bay leaf; put 1/2 of the mixture in a blender and purée.  (Ah ha!  The secret method!!  This is the best way to thicken a soup, using ingredients instead of cornstarch or flour!  Her soup:  creamy, velvety delicousness!)
  • Combine blended mixture with remaining soup. 
  • Serve with shredded cheddar, chopped scallions and bacon.
  • Enjoy ~  Mug of potato soup with bacon & cheese



* I used six potatoes; next time I'll use eight.  I like chunky soups :).

** Isabel used 2 cups of skim and 3 cups of fat free half and half; I used 2% and it was still delicious.

More Recent Posts

The easiest, best, sinfully-deliciousest cake in the world



Posted by on Dec 8, 2011 | 12 comments

It might not look like much, but I assure you, do NOT judge this scrumptious, moist, life-altering book (cake) by it’s cover (my pictures).


If you want to win friends and influence others, make this cake.

If you’ve dreamed of a world at peace, make this cake and give it to international leaders.

If you’d like to check “I ate an entire cake by myself in one sitting” off your bucket list, make this cake.

It’s possible I’m exaggerating, but only a little.

My friend Sally introduced me to this cake a few weeks ago, for which I shall be forever indebted.  The biggest shock came when I learned it starts with a boxed mix; the biggest delight was when she shared its secret (it’s in the sauce).  If you’re ever in need of an easy go-to cake, keep these ingredients on hand.  You’ll be everyone’s BFF at the next potluck dinner.

DSC_0493Look closely–you can see how moist it is! 


Sally’s Sinfully-Delicious White Wine Cake

  • 1 box yellow cake mix*
  • 1 (3-oz) pkg vanilla instant pudding mix
  • ½ cup water
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup white wine*
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

Grease tube or Bundt pan*.  Sprinkle pecans on bottom of pan.  Mix together remaining ingredients and pour evenly in pan.  Bake in a pre-heated 325°oven 1 hour.


  • 1 stick butter (yuck on margarine)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ white wine

After you put cake in oven, bring butter, sugar and water to a boil for 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add wine.  Set glaze aside until cake is done.  Once you remove cake from oven, using a toothpick poke holes in cake while still hot and in the pan.  Pour 2/3 of the glaze over cake.  Let cool before inverting onto a cake plate (15 minutes-ish).  Drizzle remaining glaze over the top.

6474987923_108a977333MOST IMPORTANT:  Grab a knife.  Slice a piece.  Experience a Tonguegasm of Epic Proportion.  Write me a thank you note.

(You’re welcome in advance.)


Baker’s notes:

  • * Sally used Duncan Hines Deluxe II; I used Duncan Hines Classic Yellow.  I don’t think it really matters but I’d choose a reliable brand.
  • When I made it, I used Pam spray only; it stuck to the pan a little so next time I will use Crisco and flour (never Pam and flour) to prep the pan.
  • * Regarding wine choice:  I used a Sauvignon Blanc; I think Sally used a Chardonnay.  I’d never, never, never use a “cooking” wine or White Zinfandel.  Ick.

(and for those who’ve emailed, this is the Bundt pan I use.)

More Recent Posts

A marriage made in heaven



Posted by on Oct 21, 2011 | 4 comments

For all things magically delicious, please
subscribe to PENSIEVE in a reader or by email! Thank you!


Bacon + Chocolate = ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!


Dedicated to Lisa-Jo, Deidra, Alli, Tsh
and bacon-n-chocolate lovers everywhere! 

I found the recipe (and photo) on Yumsugar who originally discovered it on Partysugar.  Which suddenly makes me wanna rename my blog Dancesugar except that just sounds wrong. 

Go.  Make.  Eat.  Enjoy. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Homemade Chocolate-covered Bacon

  • 6-8 slices thick cut, best-quality bacon
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, melted (optional for garnish(


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Place the bacon on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in the oven, until bacon is cooked to your liking. 15 minutes for soft bacon, 20 minutes for crispy bacon.
  • Let bacon cool on the parchment paper for 5 minutes then transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
  • Meanwhile set up a double boiler. Heat a large saucepan filled with water over high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Set a heat-proof bowl over the simmering water. Add the chocolate chips and stir with a fork until smooth and completely melted.
  • Cover another baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Using tongs, carefully dip the bacon into the melted chocolate turning to coat all sides in chocolate. Transfer to the clean sheet of waiting parchment paper. Repeat with remaining slices of bacon.
  • Drizzle with the white chocolate, if desired.
  • Refrigerate until chocolate is hard.
More Recent Posts

I need a little help from my friends
(and if I win, Y’ALL win…!)



Posted by on Oct 9, 2011 | 17 comments

M&Ms-Get-Corny-Sunshine in a Glass! You might not know this about me, but I'm competitive. 


When I play, I play to win, no matter what the prize.  Bragging rights, trophies, or dollars and cents, I'll use every resource at my disposal to win; or what's the point, right? 

So…because I've entered Sunshine in a Glass in the M&M's Candy Corn White Chocolate Favorite Recipe Contest, I really wanna win.  I mean, if I win, sure, there's a prize but then I'll get to reign as the M&M's Candy Corn White Chocolate Princess, which *might* involve a tiara AND a princess dress, and we all know I happen to think evey girl needs a princess dress and reason to wear it.

Not that the M&M's people know anything beyond awarding a prize by popular vote. 

Which is why I'm asking if you'll please take 15 seconds to vote for me by clicking the badge above; no registration is required but they do ask for a name and email (but I'm pretty sure that's to make sure contestants don't stuff the ballot box with our own votes…not that a n y of us would do that…!). You can vote once a day (which I don't expect but certainly hope for :) ).

Everyone who votes and lets me know in a comment to this post will be entered to win a bag of M&M Candy Corn White Chocolates, compliments of ME!  And if you go one step further and

  1. Stumble my recipe post;
  2. Pin my recipe post on Pinterest;
  3. Tweet this post;
  4. Facebook Share and/or Like this post

and then let me know it via a separate comment, you'll gain additional entries. 

IF I win BECAUSE Y'ALL ARE SO AWESOME, I'll donate $25 to one of my commentor's favorite charities (so mention that with your comment) and I'll award bags of M&M's Candy Corn White Chocolates to THREE of you!

Cause winning a prize and sharing it with my friends and a few strangers is funner than winning it all by myself :). 

  M&Ms Candy Corn White Chocolate candies

{Thank you!!}

More Recent Posts