Spin the Bottle Meets Polite Dinner Conversation


We just invented a new party game that should keep dinner conversation flowing. We call it Repartray, and it’s exactly like the picture–a spinning tray with an arrow that points at dinner guests. Simply follow the order of the questions along the edge as you spin it around the table and watch the laughter, tension and fun erupt! “More Cake” can easily be shifted to “More Wine” or whatever suits your mood. “Dishes!” can be whatever miserable or silly task the guests settle on.

Break out Repartray at your next dinner party and I guarantee nobody at the table will have ever heard of it. We literally invented this a week ago! Let us know what you think.

Buy Repartray here!

Pick the winning cake slice!

Turn your delicious cake into a fun game with our Cake Roulette spinning cake platter. Let your guest (or child) know that if they pick the slice with the four leaf clover they win a prize. (What that prize is can be up to you–an extra slice, the cherry on top, or perhaps the privilege of doing the dishes.) Adds an extra element of fun to your cake eating!

Or you could just use a recipe binder….


I understand that every time someone asked for her recipe, she said “over my dead body!”

It’s a bit of a ghoulish post, I know, but it is Halloween!


Tidy Caramel Apples

Makes 24 slices
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cool time: 20 minutes

• 3 large Granny Smith apples (or any apple of your choice)
• 1 large lemon
• 2 cups caramel squares, unwrapped
• 2 tablespoons corn syrup
• 1/4 cup chopped pecans
• Chocolate sauce (optional)

Cut your apples in half and use a melon baller to scoop out the insides, leaving the walls intact at about 1/2 to 1/4 inch thickness.

Squeeze the juice from the lemon onto the apples and allow to set. (This will keep them from turning brown right away.)

To make the caramel sauce, melt the caramel squares in a sauce pan over low heat, with the corn syrup. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes.

Using a paper towel, wipe your apples down, removing the lemon juice as much as possible. If the inside of your apple is too wet, the caramel wont stick.

Pour the caramel into the hollowed out apples until just below the top. Sprinkle with pecans.

Chill in the refrigerator until the caramel has set, about 20 minutes. Cut into slices and drizzle with chocolate sauce, if desired.


Octodog: A simple, yet questionable, addition to your recipe box

I’ve lived in America for many years, I’m a US citizen now with American children, and I’ve sold many recipe binders and recipe boxes with my little company to many lovely fellow Americans. But sometimes there’s this little doubt that creeps into my British mind that perhaps some things I’ll just never understand about this country.
This…is one of those times.

A Bowl of Popcorn

One of my favorite foods is a bowl of popcorn. I’ll admit it publicly. Popcorn with salt and a buttery flavor is divine in my book.  I’ve been known to eat a bowl of popcorn for dinner without any additional nutrients.Continue reading

Stinky Tale of Hazmat in the House

The sequence of events and facts in the following story are absolutely true. The names have been changed to protect the, well, you’ll figure it out.


While I was visiting my dear friend, Ruth, and enjoying tea at her kitchen table, I noticed a rather large gap along the baseboard of her kitchen cupboard.  “My, that’s big enough for something to live in,” I remarked.  Ruth replied, “Oh, yes, I know. I need to fix it one of these days.”Continue reading

“5ab” Range Mode

A few days ago we had a giant power surge in our neighborhood and a simultaneous viral attack of our website (and if you noticed, all of the 2010 entries into yours truly’s blog are missing).

The gap in power caused the clock on my gas range to blink, begging to be reset. My gas range has one of those touch pad cooking panels and sometimes the clock takes a bit of patience to reset. There was no hurry to run around the house re-establishing temporal sanity, so I left everything a-blinking whilst I did other chores around the house.

However, my husband decided to fix my gas range’s clock. I kept hearing the distinctive high-pitched beep beep beep sound and was puzzled by it, but didn’t pay any mind. Soon enough, the sound subsided and my ears went back to their regular routine enjoying the silence.

A few hours later, I’m in the kitchen and notice the clock on my gas range has some cryptic error code: 5ab. What the heck? I push the keypads, and nothing happens. turning off the circuit to my gas range from the electrical panel?Zilch. They are frozen. I cannot press broil, bake, or even see in the oven because the light won’t come on. Except for the gas burners, the rest of my gas range is dead.

Oh, drat! The power surge fried the circuits in my gas range, I thought. Maybe my gas range needs to be unplugged a few seconds to reset the touch pad memory. That’s what I usually do when my printer goes haywire. I just turn it off, wait 10 seconds, and turn it back on. That usually does the trick. Except in this case, several hundred pounds of appliance are in the way of the plug. My gas range will have to be moved out…a precarious proposition at best for scratching floors or chipping countertops. How about How about turning off the circuit to my gas range from the electrical panel?

Sounded like a plan. So, my husband, humbled by the idea that his attempt to reset the clock had caused the malfunction on my gas range, trotted off to find the circuit that would free the electronic buttons from their frozen state.

It didn’t work.

Several hours later, I realized my cooking routine was going to be interrupted since I couldn’t even press the “Bake” control button to heat the oven. Just before calling the lonely repairman, I pulled out the operator’s manual and learned about some very clever programming that my gas range and most other modern ranges have these days.

The “5ab” I was seeing on the clock on my gas range was not an error code at all. It was an indicator that the Sabbath mode was activated! According to the manual, “This is a mode of operation based on Jewish requirements for holidays and Sabbaths. On Sabbaths, devout Jews cannot operate any machinery, including appliances, because this is considered work, which is prohibited on the Sabbath Day. To accommodate this, the range can be placed into Sabbath mode where only the bake and timed bake modes are functional.”

My “5ab” was really “Sab” (the “5″ is used to represent an “S”) and only the bake and timed bake functions work om “5ab” mode!

One mystery solved. However, look as I might, nowhere in the owner’s manual are there instructions on how to get out of the “5ab” mode on my gas range. So I Googled “brand gas range problems” and found a marvelous website: http://fixitnow.com/ that gives quick advice on how to fix or troubleshoot problems with appliances.

Their advice was to hold the “Clock” button down for three seconds. Even though there was none of the normal “give” to the touchpad button, it worked! The clock went back to its pre-power surge time, and the oven light resumed. “5ab” was gone on my gas range.

What a relief that we didn’t have to go through the expense of replacing the gas range’s brain or wiring, like we assumed would have to happen. All is right with the world now. And our Jewish friends no doubt will have a laughing fit at our “5ab” adventure.

Happy Cookbooking,


10 Cooking Class Tips with a Splash

Cooking school

Went to a cooking show last night and it was so much fun. The cooking demonstrator onstage created 10 different recipes over two hours, including appetizers, entrees and desserts:

Fall Harvest Salad
Smoked Salmon & Chives Cheesecake (also great as a party food)Continue reading

How to Burn a Boiled Egg

1. Put 2 dozen eggs on the stove to boil.
2. Make sure the pot is full of water.
3. Turn on medium heat.
4. Forget to put on timer.
5. Talk to best friend on the phone for over an hour.
6. Go investigate strange popping noises from the kitchen.
7. Remember the eggs!
8. Turn off burner.
9. Turn on exhaust fan to remove smell similar to burnt popcorn.
10. Remove eggs from burning pan with tongs. Let cool.
11. When eggs are cool enough to handle, see what damage has been done.
12. When pan is cool enough to handle, add soapy water and scrub.
13. Make smoked egg salad (or throw away).
14. LOL

(P.S. This is not a recipe I would recommend for the family cookbook!)

Happy cookbooking anyway,


Death of a Chocolate Banana Split Cake

Chocolate banana split cake

Chocolate banana split cake

Two of my favorite flavors are chocolate and banana. I don’t usually eat them together, but one day last week I had a desire for a nice slice of chocolate cake. There were two bananas on the counter (sorry, banana trees are for monkeys), so I thought why not make that Chocolate Banana Split Cake my cousin, Jean Brown Craft Batts, raved about a few years ago.

It just so happened that the local ladies club was having a dessert social that day and had invited members to bring a favorite sweet to share. Thank goodness! I really didn’t want to have to eat the whole Chocolate Banana Split Cake by myself.Continue reading

Make My Day: Iced Coffee Drinks Can Give A Different Kind of Morning Wake Up

We all have our moments, and today I had one that’s too good not to share. This morning I was thirstier than usual, and really wasn’t in the mood for a cup of decaf or green tea after my workout. So I thought, instead of just water, how about one of those cold, fancy frappe-type iced coffee drinks instead?

I’ve had these iced coffee drinks at the coffee bars. I’m a cookbook software entrepreneur, and I’ve been around long enough to be able to figure out how to do this simple iced coffee beverage and not have to run out to get one for around $40 dollars a gallon (and we think gas prices are high).Continue reading

Grandmas, Chippendales and Bad Salsa

Picture Red Hat Party

“Honey, you don’t want to get feathers in the salsa,” I shouted to Ruth over the song “It’s Raining Men.”

It was a Red Hat party, and Ruth was drinking a daiquiri. It was virgin, but the grandmother of seven still seemed a little dizzy. Maybe it was the Chippendale dancer beefcake strutting on the stage in front of her. She pulled her red feather boa away from the dip. “It could only improve it,” she giggled. “Honestly, Sharon makes a much better salsa. Her trick is to use fresh pineapple.”

This wasn’t exactly a Red Hat party, to be honest. There were only ten of us. The real Red Hat party was in three weeks. We were supposed to be the Red Hat Party Planning Committee, but as is often the case we were easily distracted.

Sharon set a folded dollar bill on the stage and smiled smugly. I think it was about the salsa compliment, but it might have had something to do with the blond hunk with the rock hard abs who’d just wiggled in front of her. She was the one who convinced us “The Official Red Hat Party” Organizing Party of the Red Hat Party Planning Committee had to happen in front of male strippers.

“You know,” she said, “we ought to use Matilda’s software to make a cookbook for the upcoming party.”

I was stunned. I hadn’t thought we’d actually get around to talking about the “real” party. But I was also ready. “Well,” I said, “I’ve got a template designed with lots of red hats in it. Nice and red and purple. It’s not officially endorsed by The Red Hat Society or anything–”

“Neither is Butch over there!” Ruth blurted, her eyes fixed on a very uncomfortable-looking thong.

“–but,” I continued, “I think it’d be perfect. We’ll ask everybody to email each other their favorite recipes, and we can vote on which ones we’ll put in our Unofficial Completely Unauthorized Underground Illegal Red Hat Party Cookbook at the party. I’ll take the recipes we decide on there and get a cookbook done in a week or two.”

Ruth looked at me for the first time in an hour. She mumbled something I couldn’t quite hear about pineapple and feathers. I mouthed “What?”, and the music cut suddenly as she shouted, “I want that man dipped in salsa!”

Needless to say, the business portion of “The Official Red Hat Party” Organizing Party of the Red Hat Party Planning Committee adjourned in shrieks of grandmotherly cackles.

If your Red Hat group is interested in making it’s own Unofficial Completely Unauthorized Underground Illegal Red Hat Party Cookbook, click here for the template.