Pear Cornmeal Cake w  Rosemary Syrup (repost)

Cornmeal & Pear CakeThis is a great recipe to fiddle with. Try adding more pears or other succulent fruits. The sweetness is adjustable some may find that an extra ¼ in the batter works well. A light difference in texture will result with the use of xl eggs in place of large egg but no taste difference. Note: If you do not have the Buttermilk on hand, use whole milk with a tablespoon of white vinegar. At the end of the this post is the link to the original as well.


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, whisked ( I actually used 2 xl eggs and think I liked the texture better – but either seem to work)
  • 2 ripe pears, cut into 8 wedges each (I tend to use 3 pears, that I also lightly coat in a bit of gf cake flour first  before folding in)
  • 6 large sprigs rosemary
  • freshly whipped cream, for serving (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 cup of the sugar in a large bowl. Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter in a medium bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Fold in the pears.
  3. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes; transfer to a wire rack.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the rosemary, the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, and ¼ cup water in a small pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar is melted. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. Discard the rosemary sprigs.
  5. While the cake is still warm, brush the top and side with the rosemary syrup.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream, if desired.

By Charlyne Mattox , November, 2013 Courtesy of  Real Simple Magazine

My Annual Orphans Holiday Openhouse (AOHO)

Looking forward as the sun sets

Looking forward as the sun sets

Every year I host my Annual Orphans Holiday Openhouse (AOHO) ( For the origin and history about the Orphans Openhouse, visit my post here ). This year marks my 20th one and we (Paul and I ) opted for hosting it after Christmas but before New Years eve given the way the holidays fell and many of us were working that week.

When I set up planning for the AOHO I often give myself several challenges or themes and a goal that I mostly keep to myself.  This helps me keep the fun aspect in perspective and avoid hearing old voices in my head from holidays past as a kid where I would regularly hear such loving shouts like “Merry F’ing Christmas”, “I try an make it a nice event and all I ask is that you help…” etc. phrases usually partnered with the obligatory tears and emotional blackmail.

996737_10202629941527292_960219748_nSo for 2013 – the challenges included;

1. Create multiple menu items that would adapt to folks with gluten sensitivity, dairy allergies and food for those non-meat eating folks

2. The menu had to fit a working persons life. That menus I couldn’t take more than one day (the day of) off. So some items had to be “make or prep” ahead capable.

3. Plan well enough so that once served up – I could enjoy the party and not have to worry about being at the control cooking.

4. Try at least one new dish

The Goal for this year – was to invite new people to the mix to create some new dialogues exchanges between new people.

Ok – so enough serious stuff – on to food!

This year’s menu included

  • Assorted Fruit & Cheese plate
  • Bacon wrapped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar and Maple Sale Crust
  • Kale & Fennel Slaw with Citrus-honey dressing
  • Tossed Up Caprese Salad with mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes and basil.
  •  Tomato, Bean and Cilantro Salad
  • Gluten Free Bread from Miraposa Bakery
  • Sticky Honey-BBQ’s Crockpot Meatballs
  • Artichoke & Spinach Bites
  •  Dairy Free “cheesy” vegetable baked Gluten Free Pasta
  • “Working Stiffs” Turkey Cacciatore
  • and lastly the obligatory Honey Baked Spiral Baked Ham as “Papa’s Backup” dish
  • For the sweet side of things, Paul makes his “special” Trifle  – this year we did both a chocolate and a GF Butterscotch version
  • Brownies
  • Cornmeal and Pear Cake with Rosemary Syrup (GF)
  • Deconstructed” Italian style Cannoli dip with waffle cone chips

Timeline: 12/27/2013,  6:00pm

…and now on with the show! I will be posting the recipes and images over the next few days! As always – if you don’t see a recipe I’ve made – email me and Ill share it. Food is meant to be shared.. not held on a pedestal ike the holy grail and only sharing parts of it to keep your version special.

Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potato Bites


Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potato Bites

These were the “New Try Recipe” and how could it go wrong – bacon, butter, sweet potatoes, brown sugar, salt … oh and did I mention bacon? I found this recipe in Taste of Home magazine and the only adaption I did was the use of a maple enhanced salt by the devilishly creative folks at Sinful Salts. They offer some “worth sinning over” salts direct online or currently offered for sale at the Castro’s Under One Roof Store.

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I used the maple flavored salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or red repper flakes if you like the sweet, hot and salty)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 pounds large sweet potatoes (about 1-3/4, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (dark or light- I found I prefer dark)
  • 1 pound of bacon strips (halved)
  • Maple syrup (warmed)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Clean and peel, then cut potatoes into 1 inch cubes.
  3. In a large bowl or large sized resealable baggie, add in seasoning mixture (Salt, pepper, cinnamon), add butter and mix.
  4. Add potatoes and toss to coat.
  5. Place brown sugar in a shallow bowl, break apart so that it is easy to dip into. Since I used a flavored salt I also added it here as well (using less in the mix part above)
  6. Wrap one piece bacon around each sweet potato cube; secure with a toothpick.
  7. Dip each side in brown sugar. (Optional: you can also do a quick dip into a mixture of warmed maple before hitting the sugar dip for extra impact – you might want to put these on a rack to drip before placing on parchment)
  8. Place on a parchment paper-lined 15x10x1-in. baking pan. FYI – Parchment or silicone baking sheet is crucial – these get sticky and can burn
  9. Bake 40-45 minutes or until bacon is crisp and sweet potato is tender.
  10. Note: the seasonings on this can be adjusted to your taste or menu. Red pepper flakes, chopped rosemary, nutmeg, seasoned salts, etc.

Serve with maple syrup. 

Yield: about 2-1/2 dozenAdapted from Kelly Williams recipe shared in Taste of Home Magazine