Welcome to our family recipe site.

This is the place to share recipes with each other. The original Hilltop Cafe Cookbook, published by Debi, was a gift to all our daughters, daughter-in-laws and nieces. This online edition will let us take advantage of modern technology to continue sharing our old favorites which may not have made it into the first edition and also allow us to share new recipes that we have. Just email your recipes to me to get them added to the site. Enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Carrot Poke Cake

shared by Dara P. (who described it as "oh my!")


1 boxed carrot cake mix, baked in a 9x13 pan according to pkg. directions & cooled
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
8 oz. Cool Whip
10.6 oz Cool Whip Cream Cheese Frosting (Vanilla can be substituted)
6 oz  of whipped cream cheese
½ cup caramel sundae sauce
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)


  1. Bake and cool the cake according to the package directions.
  2. Leave the cake in the baking dish.
  3. Using a the handle of a wooden spoon, poke about 20-25 holes in the cake making sure to evenly distribute them.
  4. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top of the cake.
  5. In a large bowl, beat together the cool whip, frosting, and the whipped cream cheese until smooth.
  6. Spread frosting over top of the cake.
  7. Pour the caramel sauce on top of the cake, and sprinkle with chopped pecans.
  8. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Dara's changes:  omitted the sweetened condensed milk because I knew the frosting would be rich !! The other difference I did was I added an extra egg to the cake mix, took out the oil and put in sour cream and instead of water I did 1%milk and I added a box of cheesecake pudding

Friday, April 3, 2015

White Chocolate Pecan Craisin Cookies

shared by Patty H.  (these have a great flavor - I couldn't eat just one!)


3 cups flour
1 tsp soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 T. vanilla
1 cup Craisins
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup pecans, chopped

1.     Preheat oven to 350 F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2.     Cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
3.     In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
4.     Slowly add the flour mixtures to the cream mixture. Stir until almost incorporated. Add the Craisins, white chocolate chips, and pecans. Mix until everything is just together.
5.     Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto baking sheet and bake at 350 F for about 12 minutes.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Crunchy Strawberry Romaine Salad

shared by Patty H. (took this to a church potluck dinner today and came home with only a smidge in the bottom of the bowl - very tasty (and pretty)!

1 package Ramen noodles
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 T. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. soy sauce
8 cups torn romaine (* note: I used spinach leaves)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

  1. Discard seasoning packet from Ramen noodles
  2. Break noodles into small pieces.
  3. In a large skillet, cook noodles and walnuts in butter over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until golden; cool
  4. For dressing, combine and whisk together the sugar, oil, vinegar and soy sauce.
  5. Just before serving, combine the romaine (spinach), onions, strawberries and noodle mixture in a large bowl.
  6. Drizzle with dressing and toss gently.
Serves 12

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Philadelphia Quick Pasta Carbonara

shared by Jennifer H. (who saw it in the paper, tried it and shared it with me; she said it was "kid-friendly" and her children ate it)

1/2 lb. fettuccine, uncooked
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 oz. (half of an 8 oz. pkg.) cream cheese, cubed
1 cup frozen peas, slightly thawed
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

  1. Cook pasta as directed on package, omitting salt.
  2. Meanwhile, cook and stir bacon in large skillet until crisp.  Remove bacon and drain on paper towels.  Discard all but 2 T. of drippings from skillet.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to reserved drippings; cook on low heat 3 to 5 minutes or until cream cheese is melted and mixture is well blended, stirring frequently.
  4. Drain pasta; place in large bowl.  Add cream cheese sauce and bacon. Mix lightly. Serve.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

shared by Patty H. (I don't know how kids would like this but John and I thought it was delicious. I used chicken broth as the liquid and the combination of flavors was great.  We really enjoyed it.)

6 bone-in pork chops (loin or shoulder), cut 3/4 inch thick
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large white onion, sliced
2 to 3 apples, cored and sliced (about 3 cups)
1 cup chicken broth, beer, white wine, or cider

1.     Trim the chops of excess fat. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
2.     Heat a 14-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat and then swirl in the olive oil. Lay in the pork chops and don't move them for a few minutes, to assure a good golden sear forms. Turn and brown well on the second side for a total of about 10 minutes. Transfer the chops to a warm plate. (I didn’t have a cast iron skillet so I just used my regular one)
3.     Swirl the butter into the pan. Add the onion and apples. Saute until the onion slices are lightly caramelized and the apples have begun to soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in the liquid. Return chops to the pan.
4.     Cook until the pork is tender, about 15 more minutes (depending on the size of the chops), turning halfway through and covering the chops with the apple mixture.
5.     If the apple mixture needs a little thickening, transfer the chops to the warm plate again and simmer the mixture on high for a few minutes to reduce.
6.     Serve the chops over rice or mashed potatoes with a large spoonful of the apple-onion mixture over the top.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Cheesy Ham and Grits Casserole

shared by Patty H. (This was a new recipe for me even though I have made "cheesy grits" before. It got a "thumbs-up" from the grandchildren and is one I will be cooking again. I followed the recipe exactly as listed below, although I wonder if a little garlic powder or dry mustard might add a little extra "zing."  I also used a mexican flavored shredded cheese. P.S.  I didn't mention the word "grits" to the kids. :)

3 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup corn grits
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
8 large eggs
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups diced ham

1.     Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish with butter or coat it with nonstick cooking spray.
2.      In a medium pot, mix milk and salt and bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, pour in grits, bring to a boil, and turn down heat. Continue stirring until grits begin to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted.
3.      In a large bowl, scramble eggs. Mix in cheese, ham, and grits. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until puffy and golden brown.
4.     Sprinkle lightly with parsley or cilantro. Serve warm.

Tips, Tricks, & Variations from the original recipe:

To prepare this casserole ahead of time, bake it, allow it to cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, bring casserole to room temperature, cover it with foil, and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes to reheat.

You may also bake this casserole, cool, cover tightly, and then freeze it for up to 1 month. Defrost casserole overnight in the refrigerator, bring it to room temperature, and then reheat it in the oven as indicated above (350°F for 15 minutes).