Friday, December 18, 2009

Old School Friday: Mahalia Jackson

My mother used to listen to gospel and spirituals on Saturday mornings as we cleaned our home. We listened to many artists, some that I can no longer remember. We even listened to "static-ky" cassette tapes made from live worship services. (Any one else remember folks doing that in the seventies?)

I do remember a few artists and groups: The Blind Boys from Alabama, Aretha Franklin, Shirley Caesar,Chicago Mass Choir,Reverend James Cleveland, our local Walker Ford Singers and of course, Mahalia Jackson. Here she is singing Silent Night. Enjoy.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Back in the Groove

Lately, life has been a bit more overwhelming, adventurous, frightening, busy and stressful. It has been a roller coaster of new experiences, destinations, crises and opportunities.I'll spare you the details, gory and glorious... and just say this: I think I'm finally back in the groove. A sense of normalcy is slowly returning.

It slowly dawned on me as I sat with my sister yesterday in Starbucks. We were enjoying our customary Sister Saturday. As we sat planning the menu for our family to enjoy for Sunday dinner, we chatted about a variety of topics that floated in and out of our imaginations. As the rain fell outside, all was right in our little world of steaming coffee and delightful sweets. (The cranberry orange scone was to. die. for.)

Tomorrow my youngest child will celebrate his eighteen birthday. In his honor, tonight's Sunday dinner menu included his favorites. We enjoyed Asian Chicken Wings and Asian Noodle Salad. We rounded out the meal with pot stickers and egg rolls. He was quite happy. This is my little plate. Sadly, I only ate one wing and the noodles. The rest will go with me to work for lunch tomorrow.

Normally the birthday young man asks for the same cake for his birthday:Dark chocolate with Cream Cheese Frosting. He surprised me by asking for a whole different type of dessert.

Behold: Turtle Cheesecake!

I had fun making it. I used my standard cheesecake batter and added a caramel layer, glazed pecans and my signature chocolate ganache. For some reason the caramel layer set up a bit too hard, but none of us minded much. The taste was out of this world.

So yeah.... I think I'm back in the groove. Living my life full of family, friends and food... Things are looking up.

Happy holidays everyone!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Old School Friday: Gone But Not Forgotten

While whiling away time on Facebook, one of my online friends linked to a meme he is participating in on his blog.

It got me interested... as I'm all about MUSIC.

So, with no further ado... with both feet, I jump into Old School Friday.


See what other bloggers are putting out there for Old School Friday.

Friday, September 11, 2009

For Tonja: Pound Cake!

I was looking for a recipe for a pound cake that did not require sour cream. Turns out that I didn't have any sour cream or buttermilk or even yogurt in the fridge.

What??? Yup. Out of all three.

All of my "go to" recipes for pound cakes require one or more of the missing ingredients. And I personally don't like "souring milk" with vinegar as a substitute for buttermilk...but I digress.

The problem remained: I needed to present a homemade pound cake to my Saturday all day class in my advanced BA program. (yeah, me: I went back to school!)

So... I looked around at all of my bookmarked recipes and found one that I wanted to try. Uh, with a few variations. My changes will be italicized.

Lemon Lime Cream Cheese Pound Cake

(Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy)

Makes two 5 x 9 loaf cakes or one 12-cup bundt cake


1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
Zest from 2 lemons (I used limes)
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
Juice of both zested limes
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder


Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly butter and flour two 5 x 9 loaf pans. I used a 12-cup bundt pan.

Mix the sugar and the lemon zest in a small bowl and rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers. The warmth from your fingers will release the oils from the zest and flavor the sugar. Set aside.

Place the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar, increase the speed to high, and beat until light and airy, about five minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the lime juice, vanilla and lemon extracts. Then, add the flour, baking powder and salt all at once. Mix just until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and shake lightly to even out the top. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours. (my bundt cake took 80 minutes)

Cool the cake(s) on a rack for 20 minutes. Remove the cake(s) from the pan(s) and let cool completely.

Serve at room temperature.


Sorry no pictures. I will see if I can get pictures from happy classmates tomorrow.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Triple Berry Pie: Summer in each mouthful!

I love fresh berries. You name the berry, and it is a friend of mine. Raspberry, blackberry, loganberry, strawberry, blueberry, huckleberry, mulberry.... I could go on and on.

With my love of berries in mind, imagine how thrilled I was to spot beautiful, plump berries on sale at my local WalMart! They were so beautiful! They looked like edible jewels. I bought two large cartons of blueberries, one small carton of raspberries, two small cartons of blackberries and a huge double carton of strawberries. (I also bought plums and cherries...but that will be a different post.)

As you may remember, our family does Sunday Dinner in a big way every week. With the bounty of berries, I knew I had to make the quintessential summer pie: Triple Berry Pie. It is my stab at cloning Marie Callender's Razzleberry Pie.

The truth be told.... I think mine is better.

Fresh from the oven, the pie looked and smelled heavenly.

I was glad that I had to foresight to bake it on a quarter sheet, as it bubbled over a bit. I'm always nervous cutting the first pie. Will it be set? Will it serve nicely?

You be the judge.

The family loved it. Once again, I was the hero. Add a little homemade vanilla icecream... and *swoon*.

Oh, so good!

I know that this pie will make an encore performance before the end of berry season. It was just. that. good.

Triple Berry Pie

1 Pint Blueberries
1 Pint Blackberries
1/2 Pint Raspberries
1 c. Sugar
1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tsp. Real Vanilla Extract
1/4 c. Kraft Minute Tapioca
1 tbsp. Corn starch
1/4 c. water or orange juice
1/4 butter in small pieces

Enough Pie crust for double pie.

Mix all ingredients, except pie dough and butter in a large bowl. Allow to stand at room temperature for thirty minutes, stirring once or twice.

Line pie pan with one half of pie dough. Fill with berry mixture. Dot with butter.

Cover with top crust and seal.

Bake in preheated oven (400 degrees) for 45 to 55 minutes. (Bake first 25 minutes on lower rack, then move to upper rack for remainder of baking)

Cool COMPLETELY before serving.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lunch On Campus

Lots of folks might complain about having to eat lunch on a college campus.

Not too much complaining happens at my job. *smile*

Lunch outside at the lake today: Ham & Cheese on a croissant, veggies and chips. (I promise I only ate a few chips)

Okay........ I gotta get back inside.......

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Those in my life close to me know about my quirky sense of humor. I've been accused of being a tad corny with my jokes. What can I say? I'm guilty of all that.

No one was complaining tonight, though. Tonight's menu in honor of Cinco de Mayo:

Chicken Enchiladas
Mexican Rice
Sour Cream


Sopapillas for dessert!

I mean, come on...........who doesn't like fried dough? Funnel cakes, donuts, zeppole, sopapillas. They are all good.

Light and airy! Dusted in cinnamon sugar........little pillows of yumminess!

I found the recipe at

Click on the entry title for the link to the recipe. Easy-peasy...........light and breezy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Best of Her Love!

The bond between sisters is special, and if you're blessed...especially sweet. Every time I think of the family that God saw fit to place me in, I want to weep with gratitude. From parents that loved with firmness, laughter, reverence to God and siblings that love without condition- I am blessed.

I can remember dancing and lipsynching in the den on Laurel Valley with my sisters. We would perform for our own amusement and for our parents. Sometimes we used records. Sometimes we performed an impromptu accompaniment to American Bandstand. Good times!

Yesterday was a particularly stressful day at work. As I left the parking lot, I called my oldest sister to tell her that I was finally on the way home. (Our homes are next to each other) Jokingly, I asked if she had any alcohol in the house. *giggle* She assured me that she did, and that she was planning to give me a fabulous dinner.

Boy oh, boy.......did she deliver!

To round out that FABULOUS salad, she provided comfort food: Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizza with sausage and mushrooms! We gilded the lily with a few of their Wingstreet Wings.

Oh, and that innocuous looking drink? It packed a whallop! LOL!!

While there are no recordings of us three sisters in our many performances to share, I did find this jewel at Youtube. I hope you enjoy it. It brings back wonderful memories of growing up in the house filled with joy on Laurel Valley.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Taste From Childhood

I grew up in a family of six: Daddy and Mommie, older brother and two older sisters. (We got two more brothers after Mommie passed away, and Daddy married Nana.)

Mommie was a working woman. She taught Special Education at Loma Linda Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas. But our family still had home cooked meals almost every day. In fact, going out to eat was reserved for special occassions. As we girls got older, we shared the dinner cooking duties. For this, I am eternally grateful. All of us know our way around a kitchen!

Mommie made up many recipes. She used whatever was on sale, in the kitchen cabinets or in the backyard garden. All of her creations were tasty. One thing that I remember about childhood was that homemade desserts were rare. Oh sure, we had the occassional cake made from a mix. Even more rarely, we had a homemade Sweet Potato Pie or Pound Cake. But we all knew we'd hit the jackpot when Mommie made Raisin Dumplings!

I know, I know.... you are all wondering, "What the heck are Raisin Dumplings?" So, to answer your question,


Made from humble ingredients, these tender and tasty morsels made us feel loved. (And we WERE loved!)For some strange reason, I am the only daughter that actually knows how to make these. I think that they are actually quite easy to make. (I do cheat with refrigerated pie crust dough for the dumplings, though)

My Daddy and brother in law prefer them warm and served with vanilla icecream. My oldest brother and sister prefer them after cooled and chilled in the fridge. As for me.... I like them any way I can get them. Although, I admit that I rarely eat more than a spoonful as they are very rich and delightfully sweet.

I made these for Daddy and Nana last week during their visit. They were happy. So was my brother in law. He's hooked, too.

I hope you will try this recipe. Let me know what you think!

Raisin Dumplings (adapted from Dorothy's Raisin Dumplings)


1 15 oz. Box Raisins
4-6 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/3 c. white sugar
1 stick butter (no margarine)
1 pkg. refrigerator pie crusts, in pieces
1/4 c. heavy cream


Measure first 8 ingredients into a heavy bottomed sauce pan, using enough water to cover the raisins by two inches.

Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occassionally until raisins are plump and tender.

Return mixture to a gentle boil. Drop crust pieces in slowly, stirring gently. Cook until mushiness leaves dough, and mixture thickens.

Remove from heat. Stir in heavy cream. (Mixture will continue to thicken as it cools)

Allow to cool until just warm. Serve in bowls with a good vanilla icecream.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Risotto Who Loved Me

I don't know about most of you. But as for me, I am at times intimidated by "frou-frou" foods. I worry if I will master the technique. I worry that even if I master the technique, the family won't like the food. I worry that I will waste money on fancy-schmancy ingredients, for a let down.

In spite of my many reservations, I kept hearing a sensual whisper in my ear. "Risotto" Every time I turned on Food Network some one was making "Risotto". And each time I watched them stir the thick, creamy and steaming hot "Risotto", my mouth watered. I love rice. I love rice pudding. And "Risotto" looked like a hip, savory and oh-so-worldly cousin of rice pudding.

Today was the day that I faced my ambivalence. Today was the day that I became intimate with "Risotto".

To accompany our dinner of roasted chicken, glazed carrots and steamed brocoli, I made "Mushroom Risotto." Oh. My. Word.

This dish didn't just call my name. It called me "Baby".

Mushroom Risotto

Prep Time: About thirty minutes

2-3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 pound of mixed fresh mushrooms (I used portabellas,white,shitake,& oyster)
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Bay Leaf
1 lb. Arborio Rice (I used Bellino)
1/2 c. medium dry white wine (I used Mondavi Chardonnay)
2 Cartons Low Sodium Chicken Stock (not broth.. I used Swanson 26 oz.)
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
4 Tbsp. Butter (no substitutions!)
1/3 cup. shredded Parmesan Cheese (no substitutions! I used Frigo)


Pour all stock into a pot. Warm till just below the boil on a back burner of the stove. Keep at this temperature for the whole process.

In another large, heavy bottomed sauce pan warm oil until fragrant. Add half of the mushrooms finely chopped and cook until golden brown on edges. Add the minced shallots and garlic and bay leaf. Stirring, cook until vegetables are translucent.

Add all of the rice. Stir to coat every grain with oil. Cook for about three minutes. Stirring constantly.

Add white wine and stir until absorbed.

Add one cup of stock and stir until absorbed.(A ladle is very helpful) When all liquid has been absorbed, add more stock. Continue until the half of the stock has been used. Continue stirring.

Add remaining larger pieces of mushrooms with an addition of stock. Cook until liquid is absorbed. Continue until all of the stock has been used. Remember to stir attentively.

Once all of the liquid has been added and absorbed, turn off the heat. Taste for salt, add pepper to taste.

Stir in butter and cheese.

Remove bay leaf and serve.

*Recipe serves 9 normal people or a famished family of 5.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Great Fake Out Salad

I didn't want to cook last night.

I know... me.


I. did. not. want. to. cook.

So......... I decided we would have salad. Well, let's just say the family was "underwhelmed" when they heard we were having salad for dinner.

So, I pulled a fast one on them. *smile*

Check out the salad I pulled together from items in the fridge. And yeah..... I thought the salad was fabulous enough to warrant a night off from washing dishes, too! Paper plates, baby!

I added some warm, hearty bread on the side and dinner was served!

The Great Fake Out Salad

Mixed Greens (I used a bag)
Baby Spinach (I used a bag)
Bell Peppers, sliced
Cherry Tomatoes
Cucumbers, peeled and sliced
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Roasted Cashews
Avocado Slices
Chunked Roasted Chicken Breast
Boiled Eggs
Mandarin Orange segments

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Dream Cheese Cake

This year for the holidays I decided to focus on comforting flavors that are simple and satisfying. Cheese cake is always a welcome dessert in my family. But I wanted to make it special.

Growing up, I spent summers listening for the icecream truck. When I ran out with my dollar clutched in my fist, only one thing was on my mind: Dreamsicle!!!!

This cheesecake evokes that familiar and comforting flavor combo of vanilla and orange. The orange is a soft caress and aroma that lingers.