DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte- when your town is too small for a Starbucks :)

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Yes, the perils of living in a small country town will at one time or another come with a few drawbacks.  While we don’t have bumper to bumper traffic, we also don’t have a Starbucks.  Well, technically there is a Starbucks in the county, but it is 20 minutes from my house.  So, while I do love coffee, I don’t “drive 40 minutes round trip” love coffee.  AND Starbucks won’t debut their PSL until later this month anyway and I want one NOW.  Which brings me to today’s recipe, DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte.

DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte by Melanie Knight

  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee (I used Eight O’clock coffee- very smooth)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp Watkins Pumpkin Spice Extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1tbl brown sugar (I used demerara- but regular brown sugar will do)
  • whip cream (from a can, not cool whip)
  • sprinkle of nutmeg

For the frothy milk:  heat the milk in a small sauce pot over medium heat.  Use an electric hand mixer to froth the milk as it heats.  It will get foamy and light.  Be careful not to let the milk burn.  Once the milk is warm and frothy, remove from heat.  Alt- you can also froth the milk with a whisk or shake in a protein shaker until frothy- be careful since the milk will be hot.

Assembly- Adjust depending on the size of your coffee cup:  Fill the cup 1/3 of the way with coffee.  Stir in the brown sugar until dissolved, then add the pumpkin spice & vanilla.  Next, pour in the frothed milk until 1/2 inch from the top of the cup.  Scoop up the froth from the frothed milk in the saucepan and spoon it on top of your latte.  Top off the latte with whip cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.


Beefy Onion Durr Burgers! Oh yeah baby, let’s eat some Fortnite food :)

I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know what a Durr Burger was until last week.  I was helping my son look up some live video streaming stuff (I’d explain further, but it was beyond my skill set) and came across sssniperwolf’s video on how to make a Durr Burger- being a foodie, of course I had to watch it.  Once I saw the super cute Durr Burger, I was in love and HAD to make one for myself.  My son also showed me some Fortnite footage and I think Durr Burger looks suspiciously like an In-N-Out Burger.  These would be perfect for a birthday party, but they made for a fun family dinner.

Beefy Onion Durr Burger Recipe by Melanie Knight (inspired by sssniperwolf)

Makes 4 Burgers

  • 1 pound hamburger (organic grass fed 85/15)
  • 1 pack dry Lipton beefy onion soup mix (get the name brand it taste amazing)
  • 1 beefy tomato- sliced into 4 thick slices
  • 4 green olives with pimento- the big ones if you can find them
  • 8 black olive slices (eyes)
  • 8 mozzarella balls (eyes)
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese
  • 4 whole wheat hamburger buns (the video game has sesame topped buns, but I opted for whole wheat since I don’t eat white bread)
  • 4 slices of turkey bacon (for the tongue)
  • 8 toothpicks to hold the eyes on
  • 4 bamboo skewers, cut down to hold the olive in place (see pic)

Mix the hamburger with the dry soup mix, then shape into 4 burger patties.  Cook in a frying pan over med high heat for a few minutes, then flip and cook on the other side until done.  I like my burgers well done, so adjust the time if you like yours medium.

At the same time, heat the turkey bacon up in another frying pan 3-4 minutes per side.  This smells amazing while it cooks, so heads up.

For the eyes, cut a small circle out of each mozzarella ball and insert the black olive slice.  Repeat 7 more times.

To assemble follow this order:  bottom bun, hamburger, cheese slice, tomato, turkey bacon (adjust so it hangs out like a tongue to the side and to the bottom of the bun), top bun, skewer with green olive (slightly tilt the skewer).  Insert a tooth pick on the left & right top with 1/2 inch sticking out, then add a mozzarella ball to each one.

Viola!  You now have 4 Durr Burgers!

Side note- I had a really hard time eating food that was looking at me.  I took a bite with the eyes on and it was difficult to enjoy my food.  Once I took the eyeballs off, that baby disappeared lickety-split 🙂


The World’s Best Lasagna, yeah it’s that good

Lasagna from the oven

It always shocks people when I give them a lasagna, then after they taste it and say “wow- that is the best lasagna I’ve ever had”, I say “Yeah, it’s the World’s Best Lasagna” at which point I can see them visibly shocked at my cockiness.   I immediately have to follow up with ” No, I’m not bragging, even though it is that good, that’s the name of the recipe.  It’s called “The World’s Best Lasagna”.  With this, they visibly relax, but I can tell they still think I’m bragging- which I totally am.

Lasagna hot slice

Come on people!  It’s lasagna, which is food for the gods.  This is a meal that should be savored.  It is decadently delicious and my family begs for it.  I post a paper menu on the fridge every week, and they count down the days until we are having lasagna.  It gives them something to look forward to- and that’s the basic definition of happiness isn’t it?


Lasagna pre bake

World’s Best Lasagna by John Chandler Allrecipes revised by Melanie Knight


  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (6.5 oz) cans canned tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbls white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds



Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Brown sausage, then ground beef in a frying pan over medium high heat.  Remove from heat.  Next sauté onions and garlic over medium heat. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, water and add the sausage and beef back in. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered while the noodles are boiling- maybe 10 minutes max.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water.

In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese (or cottage) with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

To assemble, spread 2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce.  Spread with one half of the cottage cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese. Spoon 2cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  If think you’ll have leftover sauce- you can add another layer.

Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes.  Cool for 15 minutes before serving.   Top each slice with shredded parmesan.  Serve and enjoy.  You can thank me later.

Ham & Swiss on Hawaiian Rolls

Party Ham & Swiss www.theluckywife.lifeI saw ham & Swiss biscuits on Ree Drummond’s Instagram feed last weekend and they looked so tasty.  She didn’t share the recipe, so I found this one on Pinterest instead.  This heartwarming sandwich is typically reserved for a party- so here’s to my very merry un-birthday party of 1 on the patio.  It was quite a delicious affair.

Baked Ham and Cheese Party Sandwiches by

  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 24 mini sandwich rolls (I bought Hawaiian Rolls)
  • 1 pound thinly sliced cooked deli ham (I bought Hillshire Farms Black Forest ham
  • 1 pound thinly sliced Swiss cheese  (I bought sliced baby Swiss)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.  In a bowl, mix together butter, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, poppy seeds, and dried onion. Separate the tops from bottoms of the rolls, and place the bottom pieces into the prepared baking dish. Layer about half the ham onto the rolls ( I used 2 slices of ham per roll). Arrange the Swiss cheese over the ham ( I used 1 slice of cheese per roll, cut into 4 pieces and layered on top of ham). Place the tops of the rolls onto the sandwiches. Pour the mustard mixture evenly over the rolls.

Bake in the preheated oven until the rolls are lightly browned and the cheese has melted, about 20 minutes.  Serve while warm- these make me feel all safe and warm inside.


Down-Home Fish Fry

Peferct Fish Fry www.theluckywife.lifeFish Fry Ingredients www.theluckywife.lifeFish Frying

My father always used a beer batter to fry fish.  I was not raised on a lot of seafood, really just canned tuna, salmon patties & fresh caught fresh water fish.  I have no idea what kind of fish- as a kid, I just knew we were having “fish”.  When my father was stationed in Panama, he would take us fishing on Gatun Lake and we would catch a ton of fish.  I took my family back to this same lake almost 3 decades later- and we also caught a ton of fish (that story is for another post- memory lane is a beautiful place, but I can get lost there for hours).  On to the fish fry recipe-

It wasn’t until I met my father-in-law that I was introduced to light & crispy fried tilapia.  Tilapia is my favorite for this because it never tastes “fishy”- yes that is a technical term.

We have blazing hot sultry summers here in South Carolina that for some odd reason make you crave fried fish.  I personally think it’s related to heat stroke, but it really hit both me & my husband this week.  I don’t fry fish (or eggrolls- the only 2 things I do fry) in house, so luckily the sun had sunk a little in the sky before I fired up the hot oil on my concrete sun drenched patio.

Typically, this meal is served with sides like cole slaw and baked beans, but we’ve learned over time that everyone just wants their fill of this spicy crunchy flaky white fish and we don’t know what to do with all the leftover beans and slaw so we save ourselves the trouble and skip them.  Enjoy!

Recipe:  Fried Tilapia- Melanie Knight


  • Louisiana New Orleans Fish Fry Breading Mix
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 Tilapia filets per person (I always ask how many each person would like up front, so everyone knows how many they’ll get up front)
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Frank’s Hot Sauce on the side


Heat the oil in an electric frying pan.  I use olive oil, which has a low burning point.  I set my pan on 350 degrees.  While the oil is heating up, set up your assembly line by pouring the milk into a wide bowl and your dry breading mix into a separate pie plate.  Now, dip a fish filet completely into the milk, let the excess drip off, then dredge in the dry breading mix on both sides until well covered.

Once the oil is ready, lay your fish filet into the oil, careful not to get hot oil splashed onto you.  I don’t time the frying, I fry until each side is a golden brown+ since we like our fish crispy.  Once done to your liking, remove to a plate lined with paper towels.

Serve with hot sauce and enjoy!  No need for plates or utensils- we eat family style off the main plate.  Something about this intimate dining experience really brings us together.    We ate this last week, and now I’d love to have it again for dinner tonight, but alas, I ration my fried foods to 1x a month so I can truly savor them.


Nearly Impossible Meatloaf

Meatloaf 1

I love a good old fashioned meatloaf!  This one by is a good recipe.  Anything this good is ALWAYS better the next day, which is what makes it nearly impossible to complete.  Why you ask?  Because it smells so good when its cooking in the oven, it takes real will power to NOT eat it the 1st night and wait a day to fry up a couple of thick slices in a frying pan.  The wait is well worth it, but takes an amazing amount of will power.

Momma’s Best Meatloaf tweaked by Melanie Knight
 Ingredients: (I double this recipe)
  • 1 pound ground beef (80/20 works good)- use grass fed beef
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 slices of bread, torn up into small pieces- I used whole grain
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tablespoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dry ground mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon hot sauce (or slightly more, to taste)- use Frank’s
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ cup ketchup- or more

Heat oven to 350F degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl (except ketchup.) Don’t be afraid to get in there with your hands – they work best.

Spread mixture into an ungreased loaf pan.  Cook for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes (or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees). Let stand for 5 minutes and serve.

Melanie Day 1- let cool and sit overnight in the fridge.  Day 2- slice thickly and fry over med-high heat until crispy.  Serve with lots of ketchup!  I challenge you to make it to day 2!

Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits by Melanie Knight, inspired by Emeril Lagasse

  • 2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 tsp creole seasoning
  • Salt
  • 8 ounces country ham-diced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, or canned, low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbl finely chopped green onions
  • 2 tbl minced parsley
  • Grits- see recipe below

Season the shrimp with 1 teaspoon creole seasoning and salt. Heat a large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat and sear the country ham, cooking for about 3 minutes. Remove the ham to a plate, and add the shrimp to the pan, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan, and heat the oil. Add the onion and bell peppers and cook until soft, 3 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons creole to the pan, stirring well, then add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the chicken broth to the pan and cook until reduced slightly, 5 minutes.

Stir the cream, green onions and parsley into the sauce and return the ham and shrimp to the pan. Return sauce to a simmer and continue to cook until reduced slightly. Stir well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over grits.
Makes 4-6 servings

Tyler Florence

  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup stone-ground grits
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the grits, place a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. When the grits begin to bubble, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Allow to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from heat and stir in the cream and butter, season with salt and pepper.
Makes 6-8 servings

Easy Tuna Casserole

Tuna Casserole

This is my easy tuna casserole recipe.  Don’t let the simple ingredients fool you, this makes a delicious and satisfying meal on a rainy day.   Watch the video for a step by step guide.

Easy Tuna Casserole- Melanie Knight


  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 tbl butter
  • 2 cans of tuna- drained
  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water (follow rice cooker directions)
  • 2-3 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cook the rice in the rice cooker according to rice cooker directions- mine takes @ 30 minutes.  Sautee the diced onions over medium high heat.

Once the rice is done, combine the rice, onions, tuna and 1 cup of the cheese.  Scoop into a casserole dish – I spay mine with olive oil.  Smooth the mixture down.  Top with cheese- we love lots of cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through and the cheese on top is melted.  Let cool 10 minutes before serving.  I made this the other week and typing this up now has me jonesing for it again!


American Flag Cupcakes

Show your true colors with this sweet treat!

American Flag Cupcakes

This patriotic dessert is easy to make and the kids can help decorate!  Yes- the blueberries qualify this dessert as “good for you”- it’s the healthy halo effect.  Just run around with sparklers a few times and we’ll call it even.


American Flag Cupcakes
Decoration inspired by Peggy Trowbridge Filippone,

  • 1 package butter recipe cake mix
  •  3 eggs
  •  2/3 cup water
  •  1 stick butter- room temperature
  • Frosting Option 1-delicious:  homemade buttercream frosting (see below)
  • Frosting Option 2 -easy:  1-2 cans coconut supreme pre-made frosting (any white icing will work)
  • 1 cup small fresh blueberries, washed and dried
  • 1 roll red-colored fruit snack or fruit leather (Fruit Roll-Ups) cut into 1/8 inch strips by 2 inches .

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-size muffin tin with paper muffin cups. Combine softened butter, eggs, water and cake mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase to medium speed and beat another 2 minutes.  Divide batter evenly into 24 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned.

Cool to room temperature on wire racks before proceeding or cool quickly 10-15 minutes in the freezer (my favorite).

Option 1 buttercream frosting Food Network recipe by Gale Gand

  •  3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 -2 tbl whipping cream (can substitute milk)

Directions:  In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

Spread frosting on tops of cooled cupcakes. Use blueberries to stud cupcakes in rows (for stars) over the upper left quarter of the cupcake. Place red fruit strips across the remainder of the cupcake surface in rows (for stripes) over frosting. Trim fruit strips where they hang over edges. Makes 24 cupcakes.

Grilled lobster- A feast for a king

When you want to impress his royal highness

Grilled lobster grill www.theluckywife.lifeLobster skewered www.theluckywife.lifeCutting lobster shells www.theluckywife.lifeGrilled lobster grill2 www.theluckywife.lifeGrilled lobster

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday, lucky for me since I adore older men 😉  We had a low key celebration at home since we’ll really celebrate in Key West.  Grilling for us is a year round sport, and we play it very well.  Last night’s feast was grilled filets (marinated in soy sauce & garlic) and grilled lobster tails with garlic butter sauce.  To top it off, we had a Biltmore Vanilla Bean Cheesecake- 2nd only to a real New York cheesecake – which I do not have access to since I live in LA (and by LA I mean Lancaster, SC- yes its a local thing).

Seafood for me is an acquired taste, I didn’t start eating shrimp, lobster, crab legs or scallops until I was an adult.  Now I crave them every time I think of the beach- which is a lot since I was born on the equator between 2 oceans.  I seriously think I am a mermaid.  Little trip down memory lane, when my kids were little, they used to think when we said “lobster”, we were either saying “monster” or  “mobster”, both of which were hilarious as we’d enter restaurants with lobster tanks on display- “Mama- look at the monsters!”

This is the easiest grilled lobster recipe I’ve found and they turn out perfect every time.  Hope you enjoy it just as much as I do.  I drool every time I scroll through my phone and see grilled lobster pics from celebrations gone by.

  • Grilled Lobster- Snap Guide Grilled Lobster Tails by Tommy Pavlika
  • 4 lobster tails (6-8oz)
  • 1/4 stick butter
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 4 tsp lemon
  • pinch Himalayan sea salt
  • pinch cracked black pepper


  1. Heat your grill to medium heat.
  2. Use kitchen scissors to cut through each lobster shell.  Slightly open each cut.
  3. Skewer each tail and set aside.  This prevents the tails from curling up
  4. Melt butter, garlic, salt & pepper, lemon on stove or in the microwave- set aside.
  5. Grill on medium heat upside down for 7-8 minutes . DO NOT put tails over direct heat. Cook with lid closed.
  6. After flipping, baste the tails with lemon butter sauce. Be sure to get a lot of butter and garlic inside the open portion!
  7. Cook for 3-5 minutes with lid closed and be cautious of flame flare-ups. When the meat is opaque it is done.
  8. Remove tails from grill, baste one more time and cover with foil for 5-10 minutes before eating. ENJOY!