Saturday, February 1, 2014


Chicken...Bacon...Brown Sugar...Spice
The PERFECT combination!
Just in time for Super Bowl Sunday...


This is so easy to make! Simply cut 4 boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds) into 1 inch cubes. Using 1 pound bacon, cut each strip into 3 pieces. Wrap 1 piece of bacon around 1 cube of chicken and secure with a wooden toothpick. (You may need to stretch the bacon piece a little.) Set aside.

In a bowl, combine 2/3  cup brown sugar, 2 tbsp. chili powder, 1/2 -1 tsp. cayenne pepper. (Adjust to your taste)  Dredge each piece of chicken in the sugar/chili powder/pepper mixture. Be sure you cover all sides.

To bake*...spray a broiler pan/rack with nonstick cooking spray. Place chicken on the rack/tray. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until bacon is a bit crispy. Do not overbake! This recipe makes about 15 appetizer servings. Careful, they are addictive!!!
(What you see on the Deep Flexipan is 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces. It made about 30 pieces.) 

*I baked this on a deep flexipat/perforated baking tray by Demarle at Home. No oils, butter or nonstick sprays are needed. The chicken came out perfectly...AND as it cools, the sugar/spice/bacon drippings my son says, "Dessert!"  It peels right off the pan! The flexipat was easily cleaned with just soap and water. I LOVE DEMARLE PRODUCTS!!!
(This is all that's left...just some bacon fat and a little chicken drippings. Let it cool. While cooling, fit a piece of aluminum foil into a glass or mug. Pour the drippings into the aluminum foil, and let cool. When cooled...and thickened...wrap the foil up and toss into the trash.)

These are delicious hot, warm, or room temperature...


(adapted from Paula Deen's "Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps" recipe)

Please note...if you make prepare the chicken ahead of time, the sugar/mixture may "melt". No problem...just sprinkle the chicken with a little more brown sugar/spice and bake as directed.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


 These are my mom's parents. My grandfather's family was from Spain...and were exiled to Cuba. It was there (Cuba) that my grandfather was born. As a young man, he and his family emigrated to in the Ybor City area of Tampa, FL.  My grandmother came to America as a young child. She and her brother traveled by ship, from Cicily. Eventually, she moved to the Ybor City area of Tampa. As the story goes, my grandparents met, fell in love and married. The families frowned on the marriage...a Spanish guy and Italian girl. It just wasn't "done", in those days. But the marriage was successful...and produced 10 children.

This is the location of my grandparnet's first (?) home. It was right on the shores of Tampa Bay, by, what is now, Desoto Park. The hurricane of 1921 wiped out this whole area. My mom was a baby...but remembers the storm and being evacuated in a boat, pulled by a horse. Later, this was the spot Mom and her siblings would go "skluking" (the parking spot for dates). This was something she shared just a couple of months ago...(Dementia has robbed her of the present, but stories from the past keep surfacing. And it's fascinating!)
My grandfather borrowed $3000 dollars and built this house. It is several blocks away from the coastline, and still standing! It's 90+ years old! Can you believe that 10 children were raised in this home??? In the backyard, my grandfather built another structure...from Mom's description, a dormatory-like building...for the 5 sons. 
Over the years, this area has truly's called Palmetto Beach. And just across the street from the house is DeSoto Park...the location of the beginnings of the "Tin Can Tourists" (I wrote a post about this a couple of years ago.)

During Tampa's heyday, party houses were built in the bay..There are still a few remaining...mostly in ruin.


This was the cigar factory where my grandfather worked. Not only did he roll cigars, he was a reader. He read the Spanish newspapers to the other rollers, as they worked. The factory was a couple of blocks from the family home. In the evenings, when work was done, my mom, her siblings, and the other neighborhood kids would often walk to the factory to meet my grandfather. They would escort him home, singing and hoping for a penny or two to buy "peedalees" from the "peedalee man"...the guy who carried a huge stick filled with coneshaped lollipops. My mom always referred to him as the "peedalee man" because he had a flute which he would blow when he was walking...the sound was pee-da-lee. 

Mom celebrated her 95th birthday this past weekend. She was surrounded by all of her children and their spouses. After feasting on her favorite BBQ and chocolate cake, we all gathered around the piano and sang Mom's favorite songs. It was a fun way to celebrate this wonderful woman.

Monday, January 13, 2014


Yep...I have graduated! After 4 months of 3x a week treatment, I no longer have to visit my chiropracter...except for a monthly maintenance...and I can start physical therapy and exercising. This really excites me!!!

My advice to all of you...strengthen your core! Keep exercising! Be healthy!!! From everything I have learned from this ordeal, I would have avoided much of this pain...and it would have ended sooner...if I had a stronger body. 

So...this morning, I started my new routine and walked...well hobbled might be a better description. Yes, it was difficult. But as a fitness instructor/friend once told me, "the first step is the get moving!" I made it almost the whole way around the neighborhood...about 3/4 mile. And I'm feeling great!

And now that I can sit for a longer amount of time, I will be catching up with all of you. (And I'll begin painting, too!!!)

So here's to a healthy 2014!!!


Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas...and WAR EAGLE!

As my family celebrates the Auburn win over Alabama...then the SEC Championship...

We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

Friday, October 11, 2013


Have you ever attended a "Pinterest Party"?

Abby and her friends have been hosting these parties for the past few months...and I finally had the opportunity to join in the fun.

What is a Pinterest Party, you say?  

Each hostess chooses a SIMPLE craft or (two, or three) from Pinterest. She gathers the needed materials and has them ready, with instructions, for all who attend. 

Each guest brings an appetizer, dessert, etc. made from recipes found on Pinterest....

Here's some of the foods brought to this Pinterest Party:

Cinnamon Wonton Crisps
(Cut each wonton wrapper in half and place on a Silpat/Perforated Baking Tray...or on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Spritz each crisp with canola oil and top with cinnamon/sugar mixture. Bake for 6-7 minutes at 350 degrees. Place on a cooling rack. When cool, store in an airtight container. ***Watch the crisps when baking.They cook quite fast... Serve with fruit salsa.)

Fruit Salsa (my personal recipe) to go with the Cinnamon Wonton Crackers
(Mix diced and peeled apples, chopped strawberries and chopped bananas - or any combination of fruit - a little lime juice, a sprinkling of sugar or sweetner, and a couple of dashes of ground cinnamon. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, to allow the flavors to blend.)
Delicious Trifle

Chocolate Chip/Peanut Butter Cup Brownies (in a mini muffin pan)
Using a brownie mix, spoon batter into a mini muffin baking tray (I use the Demarle at Home mini muffin flexipan and the Perforated Baking Tray). Top with a miniature Reese's Peanut butter cup. Bake according to the directions on the mix box. The batter encloses the PBC for bites of deliciousness!

Strawberries dipped in White Chocolate, drizzled with blue 
Cheesy Artichoke Bread
Oh this was sooo good! (and I don't like artichoke!)
Wrapping Pool Noodles with torn denim jeans...Hot glue and persistence. 
(And a few burned fingers!)
Done! Now to add decorations...
Bow-making 101
Wrapping is "dangerous" work...that glue is HOT!

One of the finished wreaths...
We also made cool flip card holders...rice candles...and more. Mostly, we laughed and ate and just enjoyed being together...

This is a fun evening to share with your girlfriends. 
Give it a try.....

Thursday, October 10, 2013


How is it that every time I entertain, I am never done in the kitchen before my guests arrive? Is it because I am truly disorganized? Or is it something GREATER???

All the cleaning is done...all the tools are put away. I am dressed and ready to greet guests. But then,there's still bread to slice, lemons to slice...appetizers to place on platters...even silverware to shine and place on the table (oops! I forgot that!!!) 

(Tip - Wipe silverware with a soft cloth and Evian, or any sparkling water. This removes any spots and gives a beautiful shine to flatware.

But my guests...really good friends...come in and after hugs are exchanged, they always ask,
"What can we do to help?"  Sometimes I am not sure if this is pure willingness to help, or that they just expect me to be behind... Then again, my friends are always asking how I do to make this or that dish...and by working at my side, they learn new techniques and recipes. (And they even teach me some new tricks!) And you know, we really have a good time in the kitchen! So I choose to believe that is the true reason...

How about you...are you always ready when your guests arrive? Or are you like me..."slightly" disorganized?

Happy cooking!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


She takes after her grammy...

Painting on paper and on the high chair was cool...but then she discovered that she could paint herself...

Fingerpaints are sooooo much fun!