52 - Eighteen

These cookies have become a favorite at the Diner.  They are delicious and the recipe I have was written out by my dad after buying a few from a neighborhood cookie stand while out yard saling one day. 


These coconut oatmeal cookies are chewy yet crisp, buttery with lots of texture.



Daddy’s Cookies

2 cups butter – bar type (I think this means sticks of butter not a tub)

2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed

2 cups sugar

2 tps vanilla

4 eggs – Second Natural (Daddy was on a low cholesterol diet)

3 cups sifted flour

2 tps salt

2 tps baking soda

6 cups  quick cooking rolled oats

1 ½ cups flared coconut


Cream together butter, brown sugar, white sugar until fluffy; stir in vanilla, then add eggs one at a time beating after each addition.  Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, add to creamed mixture, stir in rolled oats and coconut.  Drop ty teaspoon about 2” apart.  Bake 350º, 10-15 minutes. Walnuts (options, or pecans).


Makes 14 dozen.


52 - Seventeen

These Simple Sugar Cookies are the best ever.  The unusual ingredients of olive oil and confectioners’ sugar shouldn’t dissuade you from experiencing them.  I found this recipe years ago in Martha Stewart Living.


Simple Sugar Cookies – Martha Stewart Living, December 2003

4 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

¾ tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)

1 cup olive oil

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting

1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for pressing cookies

2 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Finely grated zest of one orange


1.    Sift together flour, salt, cream of tartar, and baking soda; set aside.  Place butter, olive oil, 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, and 1 cup granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on medium until fluffy.

2.    Beat in eggs, vanilla extract, and orange zest until well combined.  Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture slowly, until fully incorporated.  Cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.

3.    Heat oven to 375º.  Form dough into balls measuring about 1 inch in diameter, and place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Press flat with a glass dipped in sugar.  Place cookies in oven, and bake until very lightly golden, 7 – 10 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.


52 - Sixteen

What would the holidays be without gingerbread!


Here are two (2) delicious options that have been tested year after year at Holly’s Diner.  I have made these with my friend Laurie and her boys for years and, thankfully, the tradition continued this year.



Gingerbread Cutouts

5 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp ground ginger

1 ½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

½ tsp salt

1 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup molasses

2 tbsp vinegar

Creamy Decorative Icing & candies (optional)


Stir together flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt.  In a large mixer bowl beat shortening for 30 seconds.  Add sugar and beat till fluffy.  Add egg, molasses, and vinegar and beat well.  Beat in flour mixture gradually, stirring in last part with a spoon till well mixed.  Divide dough into thirds (in long rolls).  Cover and chill about 3 hours or till easy to handle.


(Take one roll and split in half.  Leave half in refrigerator and with other half) roll dough 1/8” thick.  Cut with cookie cutters.  Place on a cookie sheet.  Bake in a 375º oven for 5 – 6 minutes or till done.  Cool and decorate.


Creamy Decorative Icing:

In a small mixer bowl beat 1 egg white, 2 tsp lemon juice (from a lemon fresh off of Laurie’s tree) and enough sifted powdered sugar (1 ½ - 2 cups) to make icing of piping consistency.



Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies – Martha Stewart Living 1999

7 oz best-quality semisweet chocolate (we’ve used a bag of chocolate chips and its fine)

1 ½ cups+ all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 ¼ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp freshly grated ginger (Laurie thinks we use a bit more each year, depends on how much you like ginger)

8 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature

½ cup dark-brown sugar, packed

¼ cup unsulfured molasses

¼ cup granulated sugar, for rolling cookies


1.    Line two baking sheets with Silpats* (French nonstick baking mats), and set aside.  Chop chocolate into ¼” chunks; set aside.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa; set aside.

2.    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the grated ginger and butter until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Add the brown sugar’ beat until combined.  Add the molasses; beat until combined.

3.    Add the reserved flour mixture in batches until fully incorporated.  Mix in reserved chocolate, cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more.

4.    Heat oven to 325º.  Place the granulated sugar in a pie plate.  Using a 1 ¾” gelato scoop, shape the dough into a ball.  Roll each ball of dough in sugar.  Bake until the surface cracks slightly, 13 – 15 minutes; let cool 5 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


*Note:   Silpats – I’ve been using these for a few years, the first time I experienced them was in the industrial kitchen size when SS had a Wetzel’s Pretzels business.  Silpats were the greatest thing to bake the pretzels on!  I finally got some in 2002, moving from parchment paper to Silpats, and now I would not bake without them!





52 - Fifteen

Alabama - my favorite place to bring in the fall; the colors, the change in temperature, the beginning of the holidays and most important the family.

This year SS and I visited Saw’s Juke Joint, the new add-on to Saw’s BBQ.  This was the most delicious lunch I have had in a long time, I had sweet tea, sweet tea chicken sandwich fried and we shared sweet potato fries.   SS had a fried shrimp sandwich and pointed out that there was “sweet” in everything I had for lunch, I think that’s what made it perfect!  The place is rustic and friendly with lots of character and Southern manners.

The next day, SS, Miss Audrey Rose and her grandmother took me to Alabama Biscuit Company.  It was delicious with all hand-crafted biscuits.  We had different combinations of eggs, bacon, pancetta and cheese to top off our biscuits – delish!

There were other fantastic eats from SS’s autumn salad, roasted turkey and smoked Applewood cheddar on brioche bread, Saw’s mac and cheese and her version of Julia Child’s quiche, rich coffee, and brioche French toast.  Everything was so yummy, I can’t wait for next year’s delicious visit.


52 - Fourteen

Today is HH’s first official day of retirement.  In honor of HH, today is all about Man Food. 

Man Food is fried chicken. 

Man Food is a hearty egg and bacon sandwich with a glazed chocolate bar on the side during football season. 

Man Food is chicken fried chicken with mash potatoes and gravy.

Man Food is a tuna melt on a cold evening.

Man Food is meat and potatoes, a fork and a knife, ribs and fingers.

I love my Man Food man.


52 - Thirteen

Thanksgiving will be a bit different this year, there will not be as much cooking as there usually is at Holly’s Diner.  Although there is still planning to be done.
This year will be an easy-bake version of Thanksgiving, so let’s reminisce about Thanksgivings past.
The menu list, the grocery list, the pre-Thanksgiving-prep list.  The cornbread stuffing, the brining of the turkey, the deviled eggs, the cranberry Waldorf salad, the biscuit dilemma, the mashed potatoes and gravy, the “something green,” the pies.  The timing, the leftovers, the leftovers the leftovers.
(Sigh)  This year will be different yet delicious; next year will be back to delicious and back to tradition.


52 - Twelve

A new recipe, or two.  This is Man Food!  The recipes are from the Food Network’s Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond but they are HH approved during football season.
I tried cooking baby back ribs for the first time and this recipe is all in the oven, no grill.  Along with roasted green beans.  Everything was delish!  The potatoes on the side were just a scalloped potato recipe from somewhere.
By the way, for the ribs, I used just a quarter of the ribs in the recipe and made up half the barbeque sauce.  Also, on the chipotle peppers in adobo, I just used 2 tsp of the adobo sauce since HH doesn’t like food too spicy.  The sauce was great, spice it up to your taste.  And the same with the green beans, just quartered the recipe.

Spicy Baby Back Ribs
Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond

  • 2 cans pop, such as Dr. Pepper
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • Two 5-ounce cans chipotle peppers in adobo
  • 2/3 cup brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 racks pork baby back ribs
To prepare the marinade, add the pop, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, chipotles, mustard, vinegar and garlic to a medium saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until reduced and thick, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Divide into 2 containers and refrigerate one container for later.

Brush the remaining container of the marinade all over the ribs on both sides. Wrap each strip of ribs individually in foil and refrigerate for 8 hours to marinate.

When you're ready to cook the ribs, preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Place the ribs, still covered in foil, onto baking sheets and cook for 2 hours. Increase the temperature to 300 degrees F. Open the foil packages and use the other container of marinade to brush another generous layer all over the ribs. Return the ribs to the oven with their foil packages still open and continue cooking for another 30 to 40 minutes, brushing on another layer of marinade as they cook.

Remove the ribs when they're fork-tender (keep cooking until they are). Slice and serve!


Roasted Green Beans
Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond
  • 4 pounds fresh green beans, topped and tailed
  • 16 slices thin bacon, cut into tiny pieces
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Put the beans on 1 or 2 baking sheets. Sprinkle over the bacon and onions, and add the olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss around to mix and coat everything in oil.
Bake until the bacon is sizzling and the beans are starting to brown, 18 to 20 minutes.
Recipes courtesy of Ree Drummond


52 - Eleven

HH and I recently took a trip to Oahu and visited some of the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  This visit included Hank’s Haute Dogs in Waikiki and Big Wave Shrimp/Macky’s Shrimp Truck in Haleiwa.


Hank’s Haute Dogs was in a business section of Waikiki and the restaurant was under construction – they were expanding.  HH and I got to experience the original set-up with a few stools inside at the window counter and picnic benches outside in the converted parking spaces.  HH had the Fat Boy, a dog wrapped in bacon and deep fried.  I had the Hawaiian wit Kukui Portuguese sausage, mango mustard and pineapple relish.  Both were delicious and the natural cut French fries were awesome with garlic aioli dipping sauce.



At Big Wave Shrimp/Macky’s Shrimp Truck, the set-up was a food truck in a permanent setting, HH and I experienced that a lot on Maui too.  We had crunchy coconut shrimp and garlic butter shrimp with rice and salad.  This place had quite the business going, with the tourist buses pulling up and the to-go plates already for them to grab and eat.  The shrimp was very good.


52 - Ten

Saw’s BBQ in Homewood, Alabama, I just visited this spot again.  This is at least my third visit, if not my four, since they opened in 2009.  My cousin, SS, introduced me to Saw’s on one of my visits in the past few years.  Since then, I have read about it in few different magazines, and Paula Deen even called it the best barbeque in the nation in her June 2014 issue of Paula Deen Magazine.

 Saw’s is funky, greasy, the smell is captivating and the pulled pork is perfect just as the Auburn Tigers start playing football on a Saturday afternoon.  If you are ever in Birmingham, AL, you have to stop to for some sweet tea and barbequed anything!


52 - Nine

HH and I just took a trip to Oahu and Maui, here are some of the local highlights:


Shave Ice at the base of Diamond Head, a treat after a hike to the top.  HH waiting in line.


Shave Ice at Matsumoto’s at the North Shore before watching some surfers during the off-season.  HH had ice cream at the bottom.


Banana Pancakes with Mac Nut Sauce at a local harbor restaurant, Spinners, in Makaha.  HH had the Breakfast Plate with rice, eggs and Portuguese sausage.


Everything was delicious!


52 - Eight

My new favorite neighborhood eatery, The Hills.  The Hills is an old, dark bar converted to a friendly, neighborhood pub.  The owners opened the place up with large open windows to the street, and a great patio in the back.  The Hills has lots of TV’s with every sport event to view, stadium seats and a great bar counter.

The first time HH and I stopped by, it was the first game for the US team in the World Cup.  We enjoyed great southern-style pulled pork and The Hills burger.  Our second trip, we shared the chipotle carne fries (so good and so decadent), carnitas street tacos, and a side of superfood salad that has shredded Brussels sprouts, kale, shredded parmesan, toasted almonds, craisins and tossed with a citrus avocado dressing.  The good definitely balanced the bad on this visit.  The best thing on our second visit was the discovery of the hard apple cider.  The Hills serves craft beer and wine exclusively, so when I discovered the hard appel cider on the menu – score!!

HH and I invited a friend, TT, on our most recent visit for another round of delicious pub grub – the bbq bacon cheese burger with awesome fries – and hard apple cider, of course.  HH and I will be back again and again.


52 - Seven

I found this recipe a few years ago in Fire in My Belly, a great cookbook by Kevin Gillespie.  This is Sunday Chicken Sandwich, a nod to Chick-fil-a and the fact that they are closed on Sundays to give all their employees a day off.

 This is a delicious flattened, fried chicken breast, served on a Hawaiian bread bun with lots of creamy mayonnaise.  It is even better with a side of sweet potato fries!


52 - Six

HH loves chocolate cake, and there is nothing better than his Grandma Baker’s recipe with mayo.  This cake is from scratch and there are no eggs or oil, just mayo (Best Foods, of course.)

Chocolate cake with vanilla frosting and a big glass of milk, HH will tell you there is nothing better.

My only adjustment – add a little vanilla bean paste to the vanilla frosting to give it a better flavor, and those lovely flecks of vanilla throughout.


52 - Five

THIS is my favorite time of year, the fall.  The weather starts to cool off (hopefully), I’m inspired to turn the oven back on, football season is under way (and there is still hope).  This is nesting season at the Diner.
It’s time for shorter days, cooler nights, Diner favorites, a big mess in the kitchen and HH happy that we are back to the oven on.  This time of year also means more time for family and friends, planning the holidays and trying all those recipes that have been stacking up on the counter from magazines, the newspaper’s food section and new cookbooks for the last few months.
Turn the oven on and let the cooking begin!


52 - Four

It is still a bit warm around the Diner so the oven is off limits, but the stove top is manageable.  Therefore, potato salad is the item of the day.

 So delicious – tender fingerling potatoes, creamy mayo and tangy sour cream, sea salt, fresh ground pepper and some green onions.  I’ve been making this homemade version for about five (5) years, it’s so delicious!


52 - Three

Chocolate Chip Cookies are one of HH’s favorite things.  I like the cookies a lot, who won’t when 50% more chips are added than the recipe calls for.  But my favorite thing about the baked cookies is the choice I make to add sea salt coarse crystals, so you taste a little bit of salty goodness with all that delicious sweetness.  But, honestly, the best part of homemade chocolate chip cookies – the dough.  What could be better than that brown sugar, buttery goodness!


52 - Two

Homegrown tomatoes are one of my favorite things.  The satisfaction of growing your own organic, heirloom food.  The excitement of the first tomato of the season appearing on the vine.  The anticipation of the first taste of the first tomato of the season, then the second tomato, third tomato and so on.

This season, the tomatoes production has been bit of a challenge, although I have certainly appreciated all the tomatoes the plants have produced.  As always, the tomatoes are wonderful in a salad, on a burger, as part of HH’s homemade tacos, even as the highlight of a simple tomato sandwich.


52 - One

Hi Diners!  It has been a while since my last post, but not my last meal.  Life got a bit in the way, I took up a new hobby, and honestly was having a challenge finding new things for the Diner.

But after a deep breath, a little time to rest, the need for a distraction and a new focus I’m ready to get back to Holly’s Diner.  The focus will be some of my favorite things, old and new, for 52 consecutive weeks.  Let’s get started…

Guac, short for guacamole, one of my favorites.  You have to have good chips with guac and just the right avocados.  Haas avocados are the best for guac, in my cookbook, and although I love the chips from El Indio they are not always convenient to get to.  So Albertsons know carries a close, good substitution as their chips are fresh, thick and very crunchy.

What should good guac have?  A couple of avocados, a dollop of sour cream, two tablespoons of fresh salsa and some onion to taste.  Season with sea salt, fresh ground pepper and some garlic powder.  Start with the avocados, smush with a fork to the desired texture, then add everything else.  You should always make just as much as you are going to eat at on setting, you don’t want left over guac as it can get funky.