The Wedding Cookie Table: A Pittsburgh Tradition

The Wedding Cookie Table - It's a Burgh Thing

The Wedding Cookie Table – It’s a Burgh Thing

The Wedding Cookie Table:  A Pittsburgh Tradition.

As some of my faithful friends here at The Creative Life in Between know, I’ve been baking a few cookies for the past month for my son and new daughter-in-law’s wedding.

The wedding was this weekend, so I thought I would share a couple of quick shots we captured of the finished Wedding Cookie Table since many of you asked to see as you saw the various recipes being shared.

I have to thank my other sweet daughter-in-law for helping bake several kinds of cookies (snickerdoodles, peanut butter blossoms, s’mores cookies, and chocolate dipped oreos!) as well as my friend, Tracy, for her generosity in baking the lady locks.  A special thank you to Liz’s mom and her cousin Kathy for baking an amazing variety of sweet breads with flavored butters that added just that special touch to our brunch wedding menu.  My favorite was the earl grey tea lavender bread!  Absolutely amazing!

If you would like to see the recipes for the variety of cookies I made, here is a list with links to the recipes:

  1. Jodi’s Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies
  2. Hershey Kiss Brownie Bites
  3. Pecan Tassies
  4. Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
  5. Pecan Sandies
  6. Carrot Cake Thumbprints
  7. Raspberry Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
  8. Apricot Kolaches
  9. Buckeye Balls
  10. Lemon Crinkle Cookies
  11. Red Velvet White Chocolate Cookies
  12. Oreo Cookies & Cream Cookies

A Pittsburgh Wedding Cookie Table

A Pittsburgh Wedding Cookie Table

It seems that the Wedding Cookie Table is a bit of a regional tradition to our area.  In Pittsburgh, it’s a “burgh thing” to do.  No wedding is complete without a massive buffet of favorite cookies for the guests to enjoy before, during, and after the reception.  Our wedding “favor” for the guests was an empty box to fill with their favorites from our cookie table.

We could not be happier to welcome our sweet new daughter-in-law to our family.

Cheers & Hugs,

Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread


For those of you that have been following my blog for a while, you may recall this recipe.

It is worth repeating – at least for me.

Let me share what I wrote in my post two years ago when I first shared this recipe that is one of my ALL-TIME favorites.


December 15, 2014:

One of my favorite things to bake (and eat) for the holidays is my Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread.

For me, it is like spending a little time with Grandma – even though she’s been gone for 20 years now.  The smells that fill the house… using her recipe card – complete with stains from baking episodes past… using her old tin measuring cup, snipping apricots, chopping nuts…  To me, the holidays aren’t truly here until I make Grandma’s Apricot Nut Bread and spend a little time with her through this ritual.

When I was young, I spent Christmas vacations (and every other moment I could) with Grandma.  We spent a lot of our time together in the kitchen.  While we were cooking or baking, Grandma would tell me stories about her childhood.  It was sadly a pretty short one, because she had to become Mama to her baby brothers at only 9 years old when her mom died at a devastatingly early age.  We would talk about her early married life with outhouses, coal furnaces, and washboards.  And some of my favorite stories, especially when I was young, were the ones she would tell about me when I was a baby and how she danced in the hospital hallway with the doctor after I was born and how she fed me her homemade chicken soup on my first day home.

We laughed while we worked, and I never felt so loved.

One of the things Grandma made every year was Apricot Nut Bread.  Growing up, it really wasn’t my favorite.  I much preferred the lady locks or nut horns or nut roll – even the chocolate chip cookies.  This bread is not overly sweet.  It is not overly moist.  But as an adult, it has become my absolute favorite.  A slice with a swirl of creamy salted butter or a schmear of rich cream cheese and a cup of coffee might just be my favorite way to start the day.

This weekend, I once again made my annual batch of Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread.  I can  only hope for cherished times like this to share with my granddaughter some day.


Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try.  May it bring you as much joy as it does me.

Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Apricot Nut Bread

  • Servings: 2 medium or 1 large and 1 small loaf
  • Print


  • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2-3/4 c. flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Mix together 1 cup chopped apricots and 1 cup boiling water.  Let stand until the rest of the ingredients are ready.

In larger mixer bowl, beat two eggs and gradually add 1 cup of sugar.

In a third large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder salt and baking soda.

Add the first two mixtures to the dry ingredients – alternating as you incorporate.  Fold in chopped nuts.

Bake one large loaf at 375 degrees F for approximately 40 minutes, then 350 degrees F for 20 additional minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

For smaller loaves, bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes.

P.S. I typically quadruple the recipe, and I get 8 mini loaves and 1 large loaf.  We eat the large loaf (right away!) and I give away the mini loaves.

Cheers & Holiday Baking Hugs,

Best Ever Pecan Pie


If you have it with coffee, it counts as breakfast.
Confession – I ate a slice of pecan pie for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving.

It’s out!

And O M G – was it delicious!


I made this pecan pie for Thanksgiving, and I have to admit,  I was too full of turkey and stuffing and much too busy holding my new granddaughter to even give a second thought to dessert that day.


But the next morning (while decorating for Christmas 😉  ), I decided to have my piece.

This recipe is simply divine.  If you’ve never tried making a pecan pie, you really should try this.  You won’t be sorry!  MMM MMM Good!

Best Ever Pecan Pie


Pie Crust:

  • 1 cup flour
  • Heaping 1/3 cup Crisco shortening
  • Dash of Salt
  • 1/3-1/2 cup cold water


  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups whole pecans


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare pie crust by blending flour, shortening and salt with pastry blender until fine crumbs form.  Add cold water and mix just until dough comes together and can be formed into a ball.  Do not overwork dough – this makes it tough.  Place ball on floured surface and roll out to fit into 9″ pie plate.  Fold dough in half and then in quarters.  Life and unfold in pie plate.  Pinch edges to flute.

Prepare filling by boiling brown sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan for 2-3 mins.  Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly.  Slowly pour the syrup mixture into the eggs, stirring constantly.  Stir in butter, vanilla and pecans, and pour into crust.

Bake for approximately 50-60 minutes or until set.  Cool completely.

Cheers & Hugs,




Jewish Apple Cake (Bread)


What better smell is there in Autumn than cinnamon and apples baking up in yummy cakes and pies and breads?

This recipe for Jewish Apple Cake is one I got from my BFF Jill, who doesn’t necessarily love to bake or cook, but when she does, she has some amazing recipes.  This is one of them.  The first time I tasted it, I had to have the recipe, and now I make it more than her.

In fact, she texted me yesterday morning, and I said, “Guess what I just took out of the oven?”  She mentioned she hasn’t made it in “forever.”  (That might be why she is thin, and I’m – well  – Not!)


I’m not sure why this is called “Jewish” Apple Cake, so I did a little Wiki research (and I’m going to look forward to hearing what my BFF Bubby has to say.)

Per Wikipedia:  Jewish apple cake is a kind of dense cake made with apples and sold mostly in Pennsylvania in the United States. It has limited known connections to Jewish cuisine. It is thought that this cake is actually a Pennsylvania Dutch culinary item that was erroneously attributed to Jews because it seemed “old world.”  It may also be considered Jewish because it contains no dairy, and it may therefore be eaten with meals containing meat, in accordance with Jewish laws of kashrut.


Seems most people make this in a bundt cake or springform cake pan, but Jill always made it in loaves of bread, so that is the way I do too!

Besides… when you do, you can keep one, and give two away… which is exactly what I plan on doing.


This cake/bread tastes delicious with coffee or tea for breakfast or a snack or dessert.  It is not too sweet, but cinnamony, and apply, and nutty enough to rock your world!

Hope you’ll give it a try.  Let me know if you do.

Jewish Apple Cake (Bread)


  • 4-5 pared apples, sliced thin (I used Honeycrisps)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup oil
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour 3 bread loaf pans (approx. 8″x4″).

Mix together, apples, walnuts, 1/2 cup sugar, and cinnamon.  Set aside for sugar and cinnamon to soak into the apples and nuts.

Whisk together 2 cups sugar, eggs, vanilla, orange juice, and oil.  Add baking powder and flour, and stir just until batter is incorporated.

Alternate layering:  batter, apples, batter, apples, batter.

Bake 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool  in pan 10-15 mins.  Remove from pans and cool on wire rack.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.  Store in airtight bag.  Freezes well.


Cheers & Hugs,

Hummingbird Cake

hummingbird cake 6

Have you ever heard of Hummingbird Cake?

Well – it is one of my Dad’s faves…

So I decided I was going to give it a try for his birthday.

hummingbird cake 2

This sweet, dense, banana, pineapple and pecan smothered cake is not for the faint of heart!  A thin slice goes a long way!

It reminds me of carrot cake with its thick layers of cream cheese frosting between the three layers of decadent delightfulness.

But WHY is it called Hummingbird Cake?

hummingbird cake 5

Considering the key ingredients – bananas and pineapple – this famously southern cake is thought to have been invented in Jamaica in the late 1960s.

It was originally called the “Doctor Bird Cake,” nicknamed after a Jamaican variety of hummingbird called the Red-billed Streamertail. The name came from the way the bird’s long beak probes flowers, like a doctor inspecting a patient.

But what does that have to do with a pineapple and banana cake?  According to Celebrity Chef, Jamie Oliver’s website, some say the cake was named after the bird because it was sweet enough to attract hummingbirds (who eat only nectar), while others say the yellow streaks of banana are reminiscent of the bird’s plumage.

In 1968, the Jamaican tourist board decided to try attracting tourists by sending out press kits to the US. In the packs were a few recipes from the island, including one for the Doctor Bird Cake. Shortly thereafter, similar recipes started to crop up in local papers and community cookbooks across the South.

Most food historians agree the first printed recipe for Hummingbird cake was by Mrs. L. H. Wiggin. She supplied the recipe to Southern Living magazine in February 1978.  Even before then, however, there were countless references to the cake in county fair reports and baking competitions across Southern America.

hummingbird cake 3

This is a really lovely special occasion cake for that someone special in your life.

hummingbird cake 4

And it freezes well to save individual servings for just when you need that something special for a guest or yourself.

hummingbird cake 1

I sure enjoyed sharing a slice with Dad and Mom II and hubby yesterday – and then leaving the rest with them, so I am not tempted to eat more!

I’d love to hear if you are familiar with this cake or if you make it and how it differs from the recipe I found that is the “Most requested recipe in Southern Living Magazine history.”

Hummingbird Cake

Ingredients:hummingbird cake 3

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups chopped ripe bananas
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
    • 2 (8-ounce) pkgs cream cheese, softened
    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • 1 (32-ounce) bag powdered sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup pecans, and bananas.

Pour batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

While cake is cooling, prepare cream cheese frosting by combining softened cream cheese and butter with electric mixer until creamy.  Slowly add powdered sugar until incorporated and desired consistency.  Stir in vanilla until combined.

Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped pecans on top. Store in refrigerator.

Enjoy this special cake!

Cheers & Hugs,


Making Homemade Polish Pierogies

pierogi homemade polish pittsburgh

We revived another one of Grandma’s Christmas traditions this year.  We made her homemade Polish pierogi recipe.

I don’t know how Grandma did all this work herself every year for our holiday meal.  She never asked anyone else to bring anything.  She did all the cooking, all the baking, hosted, and did all the clean up.  Occasionally I was asked to dry dishes….  and I complained!  UGH!  How could I have?!  If only we had the wisdom of experience and could turn back time to show our gratitude and appreciation…

I am fortunate enough to have my hubby, Marty, help with these little buggers.  There are not a lot of ingredients, but there are a few tedious steps, and the dough is a bit “tight” to roll out.  pierogi 1

In fact, you would laugh if you would have seen me climbing on a chair and kneeling on the kitchen counter to roll it out easier!  Much less strain on the back that way! 🙂

pierogi 2

We made the filling the day before and refrigerated overnight so it was easy to roll into little balls for the filling.

pierogi 3

It is really important to seal them completely so the filling doesn’t seep out when boiling.

pierogi 4

I use a little bit of water on my fingers to help seal, then pinch with tines of a fork.

pierogi 5

Boiling only takes a few minutes, and they are done when they float to the top.

pierogi 6

When ready to serve, fry the pierogies in a skillet with butter until golden brown.

pierogi 7

Then the really yummy part comes when you caramelize sweet onions in butter and layer in between your pile or bowlful or pan full of these wonderful little pasta pockets of cheesy potato goodness.

pierogi 8

Pierogies are a Polish tradition and a Pittsburgh tradition.  There are even several stores/restaurants that strictly sell and serve pierogies.  They can be made with a variety of fillings.  Our favorite is potatoes and cheese, but we also love them filled with homemade saurkraut sauteed in pork.  Others fill them with a cottage cheese or prune filling.  Grandma always pronounced them ‘pee dough gee‘.  Some people spell them ‘pieroghi’.

Whatever way you pronounce it or spell or fill it, pierogies are a wonderful treat and another fond memory of my dear Grandma, my Stella star.

pierogi homemade polish pittsburgh

Here is Grandma’s Polish Pierogi Recipe:

4 cups flour
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 pint sour cream
2 Tbsp melted butter

Potato & Cheese Filling:

2 lbs. potatoes (I like to use Yukon Gold) Peeled, Boiled and Mashed
1/2 lb Shredded Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese (do not use pre-shredded)
Salt to taste
2 Tbsp butter

For Filling: Mash potatoes, add rest of ingredients, and blend well. Chill until ready to use.

Assembling the Pierogies:
Mix all dough ingredients together and knead until dough is smooth.
Roll out to approximately 1/4″ thickness and cut into 2-3″ circles with a drinking glass.
Add about a tablespoonful of filling to center, then fold over, seal, and crimp.
Place pierogies in boiling water and boil until they rise to the top, then remove.
When ready to serve, fry in butter in a skillet until golden brown.
Sauteed onions – the more the better are excellent served with pierogies.
We also love a dollop of sour cream on top.

Cheers & Hugs,