Cozy Kitchen

Our Favorite Recipes 

This decadent Southern dessert recipe is super easy to make. The cobbler and sauce are created in one pan. The luscious, velvety texture makes the perfect bite...after bite...after bite! Great with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Serve anytime of the year as a husband or crowd pleaser, or personal treat for sure!

Note: This is such a rich dessert that for the two of us I cut the recipe in half and make in an 8x8 inch pan. Please let us know how you like it!

PECAN COBBLER   from Nancy Jill Thames

prep 5 minutes cook 30 minutes total 35 mins
yield 8 servings

·  6 tablespoon butter (no substitutions)
·  1 cup pecans
·  1 and 1/2 cup self-rising flour
1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Adjust to 11/2c
·  1 and 1/2 cup granulated sugar
·  2/3 cup milk (more if needed)
·  1 teaspoon vanilla
·  1 and 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
·  1 and 1/2 cup hot water
1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.     Add butter to a 9x13 inch cake pan or casserole dish and melt in the oven.
3.     Once butter is melted, sprinkle the pecans over butter.
4.     In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, milk and vanilla. Stir to combine, but don't over-mix.
5.     Pour batter over butter and pecans, do not mix.
6.     Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over batter, do not stir.
7.     Carefully pour the hot water over the mixture; do not stir.
8.     Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.
1.     I recommend using real butter only
2.     I do not recommend reducing either the brown sugar or the hot water
3.     I do not recommend reducing the amount of butter

4.     I used whole milk.


By Nancy Jill Thames

1 freshly baked 9" pie shell
For the filling: 
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 c. sugar
2 T cornstarch
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
3 egg yolks, beaten (try and remove the little white parts)
2 1/2 squares (ounces) unsweetened baking chocolate 
2 T butter
2 t. vanilla 

For the topping:
1 c. heavy whipping cream 
1/4 c. sugar 
1 t. vanilla
Filling: In a 3 qt. saucepan mix together flour, sugar, cornstarch, salt, cream, milk, and chocolate. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil and remove from heat.
Beat egg yolks in small cup. Add hot filling a few tablespoons at a time until tempered, then stir into chocolate mixture cooking for another few seconds.
Add butter and vanilla, mixing in well. Pour filling into bowl, cover with plastic wrap, pressing down on the filling to prevent air from entering, and place in freezer to cool.

Beat heavy whipping cream until almost stiff. Gradually add sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Fold in small amount of whipped cream into ganache if desired then pour cooled filling into pie shell. Top with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate shavings or chocolate chips if desired. 

Cool down with this Summer Soup--By Linda Kozar

My husband made his specialty for our family yesterday. Actually, he prepared this chilled soup the day before, on Saturday so that all the flavors could meld together properly. Tomatoes, beef stock, bell peppers, onions, garlic, cucumbers and more! He served the soup with some crispy French Bread, lightly toasted in the oven--a wonderful compliment to the chill of the gazpacho. Enjoy!

Below is a recipe from Ina Garten, better known as The Barefoot Contessa, The Food Network.

1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 plum tomatoes
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
23 ounces tomato juice (3 cups)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

Gazpacho on the Food Network

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Peas, Avocado & Lemon Basil Dressing 

By Nancy Jill Thames

Spring Quinoa Salad Recipe



Buffalo Sponge Candy
A Wilde recipe derived from Watsons Chocolates
By Linda Kozar

I hope that I didn’t scare you too much, this candy is amazing! Some people call it Sea Foam, Fairy Food or Hokey Pokey; I just call it Sponge candy. Mention sponge candy to any Buffalonian and they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. Like an aerated toffee, it melts in your mouth. I always get a box of Watsons sponge candy for Easter (hint, hint Easter bunny!)

For an updated version, as well as answers to some common sponge candy questions, see my Sponge Candy FAQs Post!

¼ tsp gelatin
1 tsp water
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cups corn syrup
½ cup water
1 tbsp baking soda (sifted)

Butter a 9x9 pan then dust with flour. Tap out excess flour.

In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1 tsp water and allow to bloom.

In a medium stockpot with high sides, mix sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup water together. Heat over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Wash down any sugar crystals from the sides with a wet pastry brush. Clip on candy thermometer and heat to 310° F.  Do not stir after you have clipped the thermometer on, the sugar will self stir.

Remove from heat and let sit for two minutes, bubbling should subside. Add gelatin and whisk, be careful, the sugar syrup will bubble up. Sprinkle baking soda over syrup and whisk vigorously. Return mixture to the heat and whisk for 30 seconds. The sugar will rise up in the pot, a lot!

Quickly pour into prepared pan, it should come out in a big blob. Do not spread the mixture, just let it settle into the pan. Allow to cool completely (about 2 hours or overnight) before removing from the pan.

Either break into odd pieces or cut into squares (this is a messy process!). To cut into squares - using a serrated knife, score the candy at 1-inch intervals. Snap the candy apart at the score lines. Then score and break into squares.

Melt chocolate melts in a double boiler (or bowl sitting above a pot of boiling water). Dip sponge candies in chocolate, tap off excess. Chill in the fridge to set the chocolate shell. Enjoy!


Texas Sheet Cake
By Nancy Jill Thames

2 Cups flour
2 Cups sugar
1 t. soda
1 t. cinnamon
2 sticks butter
4 T. cocoa
1 Cup water

1/2 Cup buttermilk (or add 1/2 t. vinegar to a 1/2 Cup of milk)
2 eggs
1 T. vanilla

Sift dry ingredients together. In a glass bowl or measuring cup, microwave butter, cocoa and water. Pour over dry ingredients. Add buttermilk (or sour milk), eggs and vanilla. Beat well and pour into greased 9 X 12 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Microwave 1 stick butter, 4 T. cocoa, and 1/4 cup milk in glass bowl or measuring cup. Pour over 1 box (16 oz.) powdered sugar in bowl and beat well. Add 1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts if desired. Spread on cake while still hot.


Peanut Butter Crackle-Top Cookies!
By Linda Kozar

Today I'm going to share one of my favorite cookie recipes with you! Peanut Butter Crackle-Top Cookies! (The picture above is from the Simply Recipe site because the batches I made didn't last long enough for a photo op).

My mother used to made double batches of these cookie gems for us as kids. We were always begging her to make them. Good thing she was a cookie-making kind of mom.

Peanut Butter Crackle Top Cookies

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter

Cream together butter and sugars. Blend in egg and vanilla. Sift flour, soda and salt together. Add to mixture. Mix thoroughly. Roll into balls. Dip in sugar and arrange on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees.

Voila! Enjoy!


Fixed on a serving dish

Roasted Tenderloin and Apples 

By Deborah Malone

Place a 1 lb. to 1 1/2 lb. tenderloin in a roasting pan. Cover with a tight lid or aluminum foil. Place the pan in a 400 F oven and let cook for 30 minutes. While the roast is cooking, slice two cooking apples (such as Granny Smiths) into 1/4-inch slices. Add 2 tbsp. of fresh or frozen cranberries. In a bowl, combine 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Spoon this mixture over the fruit, coating the fruit thoroughly with the sugar and spice. Remove the tenderloin from the oven after 30 minutes and spoon the fruit mixture on and around the roast. Return the roast to the oven and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes until the roast is golden brown and reaches a 160 F internal temperature.


Baked French Toast Casserole
by Linda Kozar


  • 1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
  • Butter, for pan
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Dash salt
  • Praline Topping, recipe follows


Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch thick each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or bread crumbs). Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 45 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with Raspberry Syrup.

Praline Topping:

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. Spread over bread as directed above.


Nutella and Raspberry
Filled Crepes
by Linda Kozar
 Nutella and Raspberry Filled Crepes
Basic Crepe formula: (For 20 crepes 5-1/2 in. across)
1 cup of flour (sifted)
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup water
3 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp of melted butter

Add flour to a 2 quart bowl. Whisk in by dribbles 2/3 cup milk and 2/3 cup of water until smoothly blended. Then whisk in 3 large eggs, 1/4 tsp salt and 3 tbls melted butter.

Use a nonstick pan, preferably a special crepe pan. (You can find them in discount stores for under $10). Heat the pan until drops of water dance and sputter on it, then brush lightly with butter.

Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the center of the hot pan and tilt it in all directions. After 30 seconds or so, bottom of crepe will be browned.

Shake pan to dislodge the crepe, then turn it over with your fingers. Cook briefly on the other side, which won't cook as evenly.

Cool crepes individually on a rack before stacking. Cooked crepes will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag and they freeze well too.

Spread each crepe with Nutella (hazelnut spread)  and fill with sliced strawberries and kiwi's and bananas. Fold over. Spritz a dollop of whipped cream and drizzle with chocolate syrup.

Bon appétit!


by Nancy Jill Thames

1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes,    
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 garlic glove or (1/2 t garlic powder)
2 T chopped cilantro
2 t ground cumin
1 t taco seasoning
3/4-1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
Tortilla chips, chopped avocado, shredded cheese and lime wedges for garnish

1. Place fire-roasted tomatoes, onion, 2 cups of the chicken broth, garlic, cilantro and seasonings into a blender. Puree. Pour into a large saucepan. 
2. Add remaining 2 cups chicken broth and shredded chicken, stir together.
3. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
4. Garnish with tortilla chips, chopped avocado, shredded cheese and lime wedges.

Serves 7.




by Nancy Jill Thames 

1 6oz pkg Honey Sweet Corn Bread Mix
1 6 oz pkg Pioneer Brand Biscuit Mix
1 to 1 ½ t black pepper (optional)
2 T butter
¾ c milk
4 oz can fire-roasted diced green chilies, drained (or roast 5 ancho chilies)  
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Egg wash – 1 egg beaten with 2 t water (a splash)

Directions: Melt butter with milk. Empty cornbread mix and biscuit mix into mixing bowl. Add black pepper and stir. Add milk and butter mixture, and mix until combined. Add fire-roasted chilies and shredded cheese. Mix until combined. Turn dough onto flour covered board and knead 4-5 times. Pat gently into a round ½ inch thick. Brush dough with egg wash and cut into wedges or use a biscuit cutter and cut into rounds. Bake at 450 degrees until golden brown – about 20 minutes. Serve with butter or honey butter. Variation: Eliminate black pepper from dough and after baking, sprinkle butter with a dash of black pepper.

To fire roast chilies: Cover a cookie sheet with foil making sure there are edges. Cut chilies in half lengthwise; remove seeds and membrane. Rinse. Slice lengthwise again, brush strips with olive oil and place on foil covered cookie sheet, pressing down to flatten. Broil for 10-12 minutes until blackened. Wrap in cooking foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Peel away skins and chop.

In honor of family, historical fiction, and coziness, enjoy our family's yummiest traditional family dessert:    

Huckleberry Duff
1 cup all-purpose flour    
1 tablespoon sugar, plus 1 1/2 cups
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
1/4 cup milk
1 quart fresh huckleberries (or blueberries, blackberries, black caps, you get the picture)

 2 cups water


Sift together flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Grate cold butter into flour mixture with a cheese grater. Stir together with a fork. Add milk to form dough. Combine berries, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Drop dumplings into berry sauce by the tablespoonful. Cover pot. Turn heat down to low and cook slowly for 20 to 30 minutes. Don't open until your timer beeps! Serve with fresh cream, whipped cream, or ice cream.



by Nancy Jill Thames

1 9" unbaked pie shell
1  13 oz can evaporated milk
7 oz milk
4 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla
ground nutmeg 

Directions: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine evaporated milk and milk in a microwave safe container (such as large glass or plastic measuring cup) and microwave for 3 minutes until milk is scalded. (A film will form when it is.)

In a mixing bowl (or stand mixer if you have one) beat the eggs until lemon-colored. Gradually add sugar, mixing well. Add salt and mix in. While mixing, slowly add the scalded milk until blended. Add vanilla and mix in. 

Slowly pour mixture into unbaked pie shell and dust with nutmeg to taste. (See picture.)

Bake at 400 degrees until firm or knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. About 40 minutes. Pie should look like this:




 DINNER!  by Nancy Jill Thames                       

Simply salt and pepper the salmon, coat with the taco seasoning, spray a grill pan with Pam and grill until almost done. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice, cover with a lid and take

 off  the stove to finish cooking while you prepare the sides. (Like the Fresh Spinach with Lemon below!)                                             

by Nancy Jill Thames


1 10 oz bag fresh spinach (washed)                                                
splash of water
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1/2 fresh lemon cut into eighths
salt and pepper to taste
dash of nutmeg

Place all ingredients in a non-stick skillet, cover and cook over medium heat until spinach is wilted. Serve with grilled fresh salmon or entree of your choice.

Grilled Shrimp with Tomato Salad
Sweet shrimp cooked on the grill perfectly complements a tomato salad with citrus vinaigrette. 
by Nancy Jill Thames

Add crostini, fresh mozzarella cheese or fresh leafy greens to this refreshing dinner.
  •      Vinaigrette:
  •      1/2  cup white wine vinegar
  •      3  tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed
  •      1  tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  •      1/4  cup olive oil
  •      1  tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  •      2  garlic cloves, pressed
  •      2  teaspoons chopped cilantro
  •      1  tablespoon honey
  •      Shrimp:
  •      2  tablespoons olive oil
  •      2  garlic cloves, finely minced
  •      1/4  teaspoon red pepper flakes
  •      12  jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
  •      White pepper
  •      Tomato Salad:
  •      2  beefsteak tomatoes
  •      4  Roma tomatoes
  •      12  red grape tomatoes, cut into halves
  •      12  yellow pear tomatoes, cut into halves
  •        Freshly ground black pepper
  •      4  tablespoons basil, cut into thin ribbons
  •      Prep Time - 20 min.
  •      Cook Time - 2 min.
  1.     To prepare vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk well.
  2.     To prepare shrimp, combine olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and shrimp in a large bowl. Let stand 15 to 30 minutes. Add white pepper.  
  3.     Heat grill to medium-high. Thread shrimp on skewers; place grill rack. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until just pink. (Or grill jumbo shrimp directly on the grill.)
  4.     To prepare salad, toss grape and pear tomatoes into vinaigrette. Sprinkle with pepper. Slice beefsteak tomatoes and Roma tomatoes into 1/8-inch-thick slices and place on serving plates. Spoon grape and pear tomatoes and vinaigrette on top and garnish with basil. Serve with shrimp.
by Nancy Jill Thames

1 box of vanilla wafers
 Banana Pudding
3 egg yolks, beaten with fork                                         
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
pinch of salt
2 T butter
8 drops butter extract
8 drops banana extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 banana
8oz heavy whipping cream whipped with 1/4 cup sugar.

Line a baking dish or individual parfaits with some vanilla wafers. 

In a large saucepan, mix sugar, flour, and a pinch of salt together with a whisk. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup add beaten egg yolks to 1 cup of milk and mix well. Add egg yolk mixture to dry ingredients and whisk together. Add 1 cup half and half cream to saucepan and mix again. Cook over medium high heat until thick and mixture starts to boil. Remove from heat. Add butter, butter extract, banana extract and vanilla. Stir until butter melts. Pour mixture into a mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing film down over pudding to seal out air. Cool in freezer but don't forget about it! Swirl half of the whipped cream and sugar into the cold pudding.

Slice the banana over the vanilla wafers and then spread the cooled pudding/whipped cream over the top. Garnish with remaining whipped cream and vanilla wafers.


Nancy Jill Thames' Fourth of July Potato Salad
8 med potatoes, baked in the microwave, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup Banquet Kosher Dill Pickles, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups Helman's or Best Foods Mayonnaise
Tip: Add 1/3 cup chopped pickled jalepenos for a special treat.

In a large bowl, mix together mayonnaise, salt, pepper, celery, pickles and onion (and jalepenos if you wish). Add the chopped potatoes and stir together just until mixed.


Kevin and Amanda's Grilled Chicken Penne Pasta in a Tomato Cream Sauce
by Nancy Jill Thames
 (Click for step by step how to)

Grilled Chicken Pasta in a Tomato Cream Sauce

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Montreal Steak seasoning
1/2 pound penne pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup chicken broth
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 to 1 tsp salt & pepper (to taste)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
6-8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded

Rinse chicken breasts in cold water. Layer between sheets of wax paper and pound to even thickness. Season both sides with Montreal Steak seasoning. Preheat grill for medium high heat, lightly oil grate, and grill chicken breasts on medium high heat for 6-8 mins each side. OR heat 2 tbsp butter & 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter and olive oil is nice and hot, add chicken breasts and cook 5 mins each side. Set chicken aside to cool. In a large pot, boil water with 1 tbsp salt. Add 1/2 lb penne pasta noodles and boil according to package directions. Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is tender, but do not let the garlic turn brown (about 3-5 mins). Add the chicken broth to the pan and allow to reduce by half. Meanwhile, slice chicken. Once the broth has reduced, stir in tomato sauce. Add the heavy cream and stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat to low. Chop the parsley and basil, add to sauce and mix well. Drain pasta and add to sauce. Stir well to coat. Serve pasta on plates, top with sliced chicken.
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  1. I haven't had custard pie in years! My grandmother used to make great ones. I am an awful cook, but I may have to try making this.

    1. It's still my husband's favorite since I started making it 44 years ago. I think it was popular because the ingredients were always on hand...milk, eggs, sugar...and flour for the crust.

      Hope yours turns out delicious!

      ~Nancy Jill
      "Queen of Afternoon Tea"
      Author of The Jillian Bradley Mysteries


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