My current issue of “O” magazine (May, 2010) is their tenth anniversary issue and so it contains a lot of lists of ten (You can find the ten best recipes as per O on the http://www.oprah.com website as well, if you are curious and not a subscriber.

But here’s the thing – out of the ten recipes, there was only one I was remotely interested in and that was Maya Angelou’s recipe for banana pudding. I printed that recipe and THEN realized it contains eight eggs. I don’t even make my own angel food cake because it takes too many eggs (and an angel food cake mix does a very good job, thank you very much). One of the recipes I couldn’t even pronounced (Pappardelle with peas and parmesan-ok, I got the peas and parmesan part. I have never heard of PAPPARDELLE. (Neither has my spell check). Finally figured out it is a kind of pasta.

For those of you who want to know these things, here is a list of the 10 best recipes of the decade, per “O” magazine:

1.Hudson Valley Club Sandwich (it looks good but I would never actually make it)
2.Cornmeal Crust Pizza with greens and ricotta (no one in my household would eat it)
3.Maya Angelou’s Banana Pudding (looks good – but eight eggs?—on the other hand, it only contains 3 tbsp butter)
4.Pappardelle with peas and parmesan (No one in my household would eat this either)
5.Maine Crab, Green Apple and Avocado Salad with Parmesan Tuiles. (Never heard of Tuiles and apparently, neither has my spell check. I would order this in a restaurant if it were on the menu—but would never make it)
6.Red Pepper & Fennel Soup (Fennel? I don’t think so. For the same reason as #2 and #4)
7.Bolognese Sauce (is that anything like Ragu?)
8.Grilled Lamb Chops and Zucchini with mint (ok on the lamb chops and zucchini. Not ok with the mint. Same reasons as #2, #4, and #6.
9.Sausage Rolls with Worcestershire Sauce (uh. No.)
10.Mushroom Quesadillas on whole wheat tortillas (sounds ok to me but no one in the family would touch a quesadilla that wasn’t a CHEESE quesadilla, or a cheese and chicken).
11.Bonus Egg Salad with Tarragon Mustard (ok for the egg salad but not tarragon mustard, for the same reason as #2, #4, #6.

No offense to Oprah and her editorial staff but obviously we don’t move around in the same circles. I am your typical now-retired housewife/mother/grandmother who is involved in my children’s and grandchildren’s lives. When I was still working, I took brownies and cookies to the office all the time. I also brought in bagels, cream cheese and guacamole once a week.

My youngest son and his family have dinner with us twice a week, because his wife is taking night classes to get her teaching degree. I take my granddaughter to school twice a week. We’re more of a Tupperware party, Saturday mornings at the park watching children play softball, baking cookies or cupcakes almost every week kind of household. As a matter of fact, three or four times a year my grandchildren and my sister’s children come over for a cookie and craft project to get Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Halloween officially under way. When my daughter in law takes my cookies to work to share, her coworkers want to know “Did GRAMMY make these?” and they quickly devour all of them.

So I am going to provide MY best ten recipes for the decade and if you have others you prefer, feel free to drop me a line and give me YOUR favorites. And, incidentally, MY ten favorites for the past decade are probably the same choices I would provide for the decade BEFORE that as well. (I have a huge recipe collection-but these are still the most outstanding favorites):


1. Beef Burgundy with either noodles or rice
2. Pepper Steak, also over noodles or rice
3. Aunt Annie’s Chicken Paprika
4. Linda’s Chicken & White Wine
5. Aunt Sandy’s California Style Chili
6. Crisp Little Lemon Cookies
7. Sandy’s Fudgy Wudgy Brownies
8. The Original Toll House Chocolate Chip cookies
9. Bob’s Favorite Caramel Corn Popcorn
10.Spinach Delight

Well, I could easily double or triple this list because there are so many family favorites but these are probably the crème de la crème—or–the recipes most often requested. Aunt Annie’s Chicken Paprika was selected by Gooseberry Patch and appears in their recently published cookbook “Dinner on a Dime”. Some of these recipes may have already appeared on my Blog—but I don’t want to make life difficult for any of you, so I am going to provide all ten recipes!


1-2 lbs top sirloin
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 8-oz can Burgundy wine
½ lb sliced raw mushrooms
salt, pepper, dash of oregano and marjoram
Rice or Noodles

Slice meat very thin (it will slice better if it’s partially frozen). Brown in a small amount of butter or oil, along with the onion. Add tomato sauce, wine, and seasonings. Cover and simmer 1 hr. 15 minutes before finishing, add mushrooms. Serve over rice or noodles and sprinkle with parsley, if you like.

1 ½ lbs beef round steak or London Broil, cut ½” thick
¼ cup Crisco solid shortening
1 8-oz can tomatoes
1 ¼ cups water
½ cup chopped onion
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 TBSP brown roux (see following recipe)
2 large green bell peppers*

Partially freeze meat and cut meat in strips 3” long and ¼” wide. In large skillet, brown meat in hot Crisco; drain off excess fat. Drain tomatoes, reserving liquid. Add reserved liquid, water, onion, garlic, salt and pepper to meat in skillet. Cover and simmer 50-60 minutes or until the meat is tender. Uncover and stir in the Worcestershire sauce and brown roux. Cut the green peppers in 2” long strips and add to meat along with the drained tomatoes, which have been cut up. Simmer 5 minutes more. Serve over hot cooked rice or noodles. Serves 6.

*If red, yellow, orange peppers are in season and not terribly expensive – they make a great looking presentation to this dish, instead of ordinary green bell peppers. Sometimes I add fresh sliced mushrooms as well.

To make Brown Roux:

Blend 1 cup of flour and 1 cup Crisco solid shortening until smooth. Stir in 2 TBSP Kitchen Bouquet. Refrigerate in a covered glass container and use as needed.


1 ROASTING chicken (about 4 lbs, cut up)
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
3 large onions, sliced
2 TBSP Hungarian paprika
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 cups water
3 chicken bouillon cubes
6 young carrots, peeled and sliced

Mix flour, salt and pepper in a paper bag. Coat chicken pieces two at a time in the bag. Brown a few pieces of chicken at a time in a Dutch oven or large pot. Remove pieces as they brown. When all chicken is browned, sauté 3 large sliced onions in the oil. (If oil is too dark, discard & start with 2 TBSP of fresh cooking oil. Add 2 TBSP paprika, the chopped garlic, 2 cups of water, 3 chicken bouillon cubes, and sliced carrots. Bring to a boil; add chicken. Simmer 1 hr. Serve with noodles.

4 boneless chicken breasts
4 slices Swiss cheese
1 stick butter or margarine
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
¼ cup white wine (Asti Spumonti)
1 box Garden Herb Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix
¼ cup water

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Clean chicken breasts and put in baking dish. Cover chicken with cheese. Mix undiluted soup mix with water and wine and pour over chicken. Melt butter and stir in stuffing mix; spread over chicken and soup mix. Bake 1 hour.
5. Aunt Sandy’s California Style Chili

3-4 pounds ground beef (or ground turkey, or ground chicken)
3-4 Bermuda onions, finely chopped
2 quarts whole canned tomatoes
2 large cans kidney beans
1 large can tomato sauce
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cans diced Ortega chiles
1 pkg Lawry’s chili mix, or chili powder to taste
1 pkg (or less) Cincinnati chili powder mix, if you have it
Salt and pepper
Chopped garlic or garlic powder

Brown the meat; drain off any excess fat, and add remaining ingredients. Our pots of chili tend to grow and grow until I have enough to feed an army. Cook several hours. Should be served over cooked, drained spaghetti and topped off with grated cheese, chopped onion and oyster crackers. This is how Cincinnati chili is served at chili parlors in Cincinnati. Mine is a combination of California and Cincinnati.
Leftover chili freezes well.

1 box (18.5 oz) box pudding-included lemon cake mix
1 cup rice krispies cereal
½ cup butter, melted (1 stick)
1 egg, slightly beaten

In large bowl combine all ingredients. Mix well. Shape into 1” balls, pressing firmly. Place 2” apart on ungreased baking sheet (I like mine lined with parchment paper) and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven 9-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown around the edges. Cool 1 minute then transfer to wire racks to cool. Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies. Nice to drizzle a little lemon glaze over them for an extra touch! I also like to grate some lemon rind into the cookie dough.

7. Sandy’s Fudgy Wudgy Brownies

1 cup butter or solid stick margarine (don’t use soft spreads)
4 oz unsweetened chocolate squares
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 cup all purpose flour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease & flour a 9” square baking pan. Melt butter and chocolate over very low heat in a saucepan. Remove from heat, let cool a bit, then add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix. Stir in flour. Add nuts last. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 40-50 minutes. Cool completely before cutting. Can be frosted with any kind of chocolate frosting – or – before they cool, sprinkle on some chocolate chips and let them melt, then spread over the brownies. Can top with more chopped nuts.
8. Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12 oz) Nestle Toll House semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven 375 degrees

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, granulate sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts.
Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

*Ok, I bake them at 350 degrees about 10 minutes and don’t add nuts. And I use parchment paper on my cookie sheets all the time.

9. Bob’s Favorite Caramel Corn

14 CUPS POPPED CORN (about 3 packages of regular size microwave popcorn)

Removed any unpopped kernels and put corn in buttered metal container (I use a large roasting pan and just spray it with Pam) – keep warm in a 200 degree oven. Mix sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a heavy pot. Bring to a boil, stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add baking soda. Stir well. Pour over popped corn and mix well with buttered forks or tongs – to distribute evenly. Bake in oven for 1 hr at 200 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely and break into clusters. Makes 3 ½ quarts

I use 3 packages of microwave popcorn and skip adding more salt. I figure the microwave popcorn is already salted enough. This makes a very big batch. Oh, I add salted peanuts to the popcorn when I am putting it into the oven to stay warm.
Maybe about a cup or so? So it’s more like cracker jacks.)

10. Spinach Delight

2 packages frozen chopped spinach
½ lb cheddar cheese, diced or shredded
½ cup butter, diced
6 eggs
2 cups cottage cheese
¼ cup flour
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook the spinach and drain thoroughly. Combine with remaining ingredients, adding flour a little at a time. Stir until just mixed. Pour into a buttered 2-quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Serves 8-10.

We served this at countless holiday parties – back in the day when I was having big Christmas parties. People who claimed not to like spinach…liked this.

Those are my Top Ten for the Decade.
Feel free to share your favorite ten with me!

Happy Cooking!



  1. Love the articles, the poems and the way in which everything is put together. Thanks Sandy!

  2. Pingback: Tupperware 4-Ounce Snack Container Set, Orange

  3. First off I want to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing. I have had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out there. I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips? Many thanks!

    • Hello Millard,
      Well, first thank you for your comment and I will try to give you a little advice. Well, if you are having trouble clearing your head, it means you have too much you are thinking about and its hard to focus on one thing–when I sit down to WRITE, I focus on just that one thing I am working on. It helps to have a space where you can
      work undisturbed and leave your materials all around you, waiting for you to come back. I only mention this because years ago when I was a stumbling novice writer raising
      four sons, I would type on a porttable typewriter on the dining room table at night and have to clear things away constantly. It was a challenge. I was also married for 26 years to a man who thought it was a waste of time and had nothing but criticism for my efforts. Well, the sons grew up and the husband is now an ex, so I just have
      2 dogs who interrupt now and then (and sleep at my feet most of the time). It also helps to have drafts of whatever you are working on. I have a very large collection of books about food history, writing, – and a big cookbook collection to fall back on. I think when you are copying some piece of information you will find yourself focused to make sure you arent missing anything. since the first 10 or 15 minutes are your most challenging, may I suggest you leave something on your desk or computer the night before, something you want to look at first the next day. Perhaps reading something pertinent to whatever you are writing – for 15 minutes before you start typing – will help. I hope these suggestions are useful to you. Good luck! Sandy

  4. My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find the majority
    of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for.

    can you offer guest writers to write content to suit your needs?
    I wouldn’t mind writing a post or elaborating on a lot of the subjects you write related to here. Again, awesome weblog!

    • Thank you for writing–I just dont know how I could even go about having a guest written article. I am pretty computer-challenged. A friend set up my blog and I just ran with it. May I suggest you try to set up your own blog on wordpress? It doesnt cost anything to get started on one of these. – Sandy

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