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!

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Pineapple Angel Food Mini Cakes...aka Mojito Cakes

 Easy to make...light and delicious...great summer dessert!

     1 box angel food cake mix
     1 15 oz. can crushed pineapple in pineapple juice

Combine the DRY cake mix with the crushed pineapple. Divide the batter into your cake molds. I used the Demarle at Home square savarin flexipan and the European Donut flexipan...If using the Demarle flexipans, do not use any butter, spray or oils in the molds.  (You can see how easily the cakes can be removed from the pans...then just a quick soap and water wash, and the pans are clean!) 
There was enough batter to fill all the molds...24 in total.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Let cool at least 5 minutes, then remove the cakes from the molds. Place on a rack to completely cool.

     1 8 oz. container of Cool Whip
     a few tablespoons of Limeade concentrate 

Mix the defrosted Cool Whip and limeade concentrate, to taste. When ready to individual cakes on serving plates. Spoon dollops of flavored Cool Whip on top of each cake. Garnish with a sprig of mint. (I often add a thin slice of lime and some toasted coconut.)

This dessert is very low in calories! And it's refreshingly tasty!


Visit Foodie Friday for more wonderful recipes...

Friday, June 14, 2013

WONTON WRAPS...a Love Affair

I don't know about you...but I am totally into WONTON WRAPPERS.

This little guys are so versatile...and they're LOW IN CALORIES!
I regularly use them in my cooking classes...they make the perfect "holder" for so many foods. Probably, the most popular appetizer I make with these little guys is my 
Mango Chutney/Cream Cheese Bites...a twist on the classic southern appetizer.

To make a really great "holder", I use a fluted cookie cutter to cut each wrapper. Then I place it in either a tartlette pan or a mini-muffin pan (I use the Flexipans by Demarle at Home.). These are baked for about 6 minutes at 350 degrees, then popped out of the pans and cooled. When cooled, I fill them, then top with a garnish of coconut, green onion or chives, and chopped peanuts. I often make the wontons a day or so ahead and store them in an airtight container until I am ready to use them.

Here are a few more dishes I have made with 
Wonton Wrappers...

Chili Lime Shrimp appetizers
(pinterest recipe...FABULOUS!)

Wonton cups with "Sheryl's Dip"
(Mix a little mayo with sharp cheddar, black olives and green onion. Sheryl puts it on Triscuit crackers. Yum!)

Parmesan Crisps/Crackers
(Cut each wonton in half. Place on a Silpat (or conventinal baking tray, lined with parchment paper). Brush a little olive oil on each wonton and sprinkle with sea salt, pepper (tiny bit!) and shredded Parmesan cheese. Bake for 6-7 min. at 350 degrees)

I also make these crisps using a little canola oil and cinnamon sugar. These goodies are wonderful when paired with a fruit salsa...or even by themselves.

Southwestern Egg Rolls
(The "rolls" are a Pinterest recipe. I liked it even better in the wonton cups (made in a Demarle Mini Muffin Flexipan or conventional mini muffin pan)! Great filling...and it makes a lot! Spicy!)

Give them a try...and please share YOUR recipes using Wonton Wrappers!!!

Happy cooking!

I am linking up with Foodie

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


 I went away for a week and look what happened in my yard...

It all began with one bulb from my uncle's garden...about 5 years ago.

Each year, there are a few more blooms...
 You never know when they are going to pop up. In the beginning, they bloomed in the middle of May. Last year, they bloomed at the end of June.

We left for a week and returned to this... 22 blooms, so far!

It's our own FIREWORKS display...

I am linking with Outdoor Wednesday...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Because of our schedules, breakfast at our house is usually "fix your own". 

MacDaddy is an early riser. He loves to get going in the morning...watching his business shows, catching up with the world...reading the WSJ.  I love to stay up distractions...and paint into the wee hours. Then I sleep late. With this kind of "schedule", breakfast is a "make your own" affair.

But sometimes, I wake up early with the urge to make something different...something special. And that was the case this morning.

I found an interesting recipe on Pinterest...and

Mini German Pancakes. 

The recipe is quite basic, but the photo drew my attention. So this morning....I prepared them. And I am so glad I did. They're delicious!

The batter is rather "eggy"...just as it should be. And they all puffed up just like they perfectly!  I made them in the Demarle at Home Muffin Flexipan...No oils, butter, or sprays are needed in these pans. (The new Popover Flexipan would work with this recipe, too.)

To serve...I made a fresh berry compote, using fresh blueberries and strawberries...and no sugar!

Here's the recipe:

Mini German Pancakes

1 cup milk
6 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. grated orange zest (this is optional, but it tastes great!)
1/4 cup melted butter

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a blender, combing milk, eggs, flour, salt, vanilla and orange zest. (Make sure there are no flour clumps!)

2.  Blend in butter, a little at a time.

3.  Fill the Demarle at Home muffin cups a little less than half full. (If using conventional muffin pans, grease them!) You should get 18-24 cups.

4.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until the pancakes are puffy and golden on top (edges should be slightly browned).

5. Serve with your favorite toppings.

Fresh Berry Compote

2 cups fresh blueberries and strawberries. (I mixed a pint of        blueberries with 3 large, chopped strawberries)
2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. cornstarch
(If desired, you can add 2 Tbsp sugar. I did not.)

While the pancakes are baking:
In a medium saucepan, place all ingredients and bring to a boil for about 3 minutes. Stir occasionally, to keep from burning and sticking. Simmer 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened. Spoon into the wells of the pancake. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.


Friday, May 17, 2013

PICADILLO...Cuban Comfort Food

Picadillo translates to ground meat or hash.  It's a dish that just about every culture has in it's culinary libraries. While searching for some recipe suggestions, I found this dish made with everything from ground beef and/or pork, to mangoes and plantains. It is usually served with rice...better yet, ON rice. (My sister-in-law adds raw rice to the dish while it's cooking and tops it with sharp cheddar cheese. She calls her dish "Ranch Style Hash".)

I always thought my grandmother's and my mother's Picadillo recipes were pretty good...until I tasted my high school Spanish teacher's version. She invited the class to her home and taught us to prepare Picadillo. Oh....I was in heaven! Her version of this delicious dish included lots of green olives and RAISINS. The piquant and sweet tastes, blending with the onions, garlic, and tomatoes set off rockets on my taste buds...and in my soul!!! Senora Perrado, if you by chance read this blog...My family thanks you!

As I have said many times before...I do not measure most ingredients, so I am guessing as I go along. You can adjust the dish to your taste. Just remember, the longer the dish simmers, the better it tastes!

serves 3-4

1 pound ground chuck
1 large can diced tomatoes (I like to use the boxed tomatoes by Pomi)
1 small onion, diced
garlic cloves (I use 3-5), smashed
olive oil
1/2 cup green olives w/ pimento 
1/2 cup raisins (I use more)
Cumin or Crushed Red Pepper (if desired)

* Please note, most recipes for Picadillo are made with "sofrito"...the Hispanic "holy trinity" of onion, garlic and green pepper. I don't use green pepper...It doesn't like me.

In a skillet (I use my electric skillet), saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil. Add the ground beef and brown it until no longer red.  Drain off the excess oils...if desired. Add tomatoes and simmer. Add green olives and many as you wish (I like a lot!). You can use the whole olive or slice them. Be sure to use the pimento, too! Season to taste, using salt, pepper and cumin or crushed red pepper (if desired). Simmer at least 30 minutes...better if it cooks if it sits in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Serve over rice. I prefer white or brown rice with this dish. (Many of the local Spanish restaurants use yellow rice.)

*You may wish to add more tomatoes or some tomato sauce to the recipe.

To complete your meal, add a salad and some crusty bread (Cuban, if you can get it). I often like to serve plantains with this dish...

If you have leftovers, try the Picadillo on a pizza crust, topped with sharp cheddar cheese. Or make an empanada pastry, cut into squares and place in a couple of spoonfuls of the picadillo on the dough. Fold into a triangle and seal the edges. Bake these on a Silpat or prepared baking pan until golden brown. 

Muy delicioso!

Check out Foodie Friday for more recipes.

Friday, May 10, 2013

BLUEBERRIES! (and a recipe)

I have teen thinking about blueberries...

Yesterday, I found the first Florida blueberries in the store. They're still a bit pricey, but I just had to have them. There's no fruit I love more than blueberries!!! 

And then my sister called to say that her local blueberry farm is ready for picking...and the lady who makes the most fabulous fresh blueberry pies, made a quart of the filling for my use in little tarts for her party tonight. My mouth is watering, just thinking about these tarts.... to Pinterest, I went...searching for recipes with blueberries. Some were new to me, and others are old friends. 

And then I remembered the most refreshing cake I ever made...and it had blueberries. This is one of the easiest cakes I have ever made, too!

Starting with a WHITE cake mix... using milk in place of the water (It makes a richer cake!) It's perfect for a Memorial Day dessert (or July 4th or Labor Day!). I call it the "Fruited Plains" cake. (I posted this a year or so ago,'s THAT tasty!)


1 white cake mix
vegetable oil
eggs or egg whites (I used whole eggs)
Heavy Cream
Powdered sugar (about 1/8 cup)

Prepare the cake mix according to the directions on the box, but substitute MILK for the water. Pour into two, greased and floured, 8 inch round pans. Bake according to the directions on the box. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto cooling racks.
(I baked mine, for 35-40 minutes, in a large round Demarle at Home oils, sprays, butter, flour needed!)

When the cake is completely cool, place the first layer on a cake plate. Whip the heavy cream until peaks form. Fold in the powdered sugar. Spread whipped cream on the first layer. Top with sliced strawberries. Top this with the remaining layer of cake. Spread with whipped cream and tip with blueberries.(I cut the Demarle layer in half...spreading the cream between the layers). If desired, add a large dollop of whipped cream in the middle of the top layer, then gently press a large strawberry on top...maybe partially sliced and fanned out.

Place the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve. It truly is much better when chilled.

And happy Mother's Day to all you moms...


I am linking up with Foodie Friday...Check out all the delicious recipes this week...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Today, I came across this quote:

“Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting.” ~ Unknown 

I'm not sure if this quote is talking about the "frosted" hair...or all the wonderful things that grandmothers can get away with, when it comes to their grandchildren.  My boys would probably say this is talking about their grandmother allowing them to eat huge servings of chocolate cake for breakfast during one of their childhood visits. made me think about grandparents...grandmothers, in particular.

I hardly knew my grandmothers...

Photo taken in the late 1950s to early 1960s

  My birth was a late in life one for my mom. And she was the youngest of 10. So my maternal grandmother was quite old during my early childhood. What I do remember was the smell of her home...The scent of olive oil warming on the stove. To this day, that smell brings her to mind. Sadly, this grandmother...the one with whom I had slight relationship...spoke very little English, and I was not yet fluent in Spanish.  Grandma DelValle was an immigrant...coming over to the US at the young age of 8. If she knew English, she had forgotten most of it during our time together. So...I really did not know her. And I was only 1 of tons of grandchildren. The eldest grandchild was already an "old man" when I came along....


My paternal grandmother was a tall, stern woman. I have only a few memories of her...and no photos. (She and my mother disliked each other, immensely.) The most vivid memory is of her telling me to get out of the drainage ditch water...because I might get worms. I was under 5 years when this took place. But I hear wonderful stories of Bama, from my sister. Sis talks about white gloves and pearls, hats and tea. How I wish I had those memories...

My boys did not really know their grandmothers, either. Other than the 1-2 visits a year, during their early years, my mom (94) did not see the guys, and she never talked with them on the phone. (Skype was not available then...but Mom would probably not have used it.) By the time we relocated to Florida...and lived less than 20 miles from Mom, she and Dad had retired and spent most of the years traveling or staying in the mountain house. While I don't fault them for enjoying their retirement, I am sad that my boys never got to see the crazy, fun side of my mother...of the lady who used to be the instigator of all things mischief, according to her siblings...of the lady who could warm your heart when she smiled. Today, although she is still living, dementia has taken such a strong hold on her mind. She tries, but does not remember the boys...or me.

My husband's mother saw the boys even less frequently than my mom... Gmac visited us once, when we lived in PA...after that trip, she was confined to the home due to her husband's health (MS). After his death, she refused to come visit...even with the offer of one of us accompanying her on the plane or driving her down to FL. She maintained that it took her 45 years to get out of FL, and that she would never return. So she even missed the weddings of two of our boys, and she has not seen her great-granddaughter. We've visited as much as possible, but the strong relationships were never there...And now, with her health concerns, it's difficult for her to be with "strangers".

Now, I am a grandmother....and I fully intend to be a part of the life of my granddaughter...and any future grandchildren I might have. I plan to learn from the mistakes of my parents and grandparents...and in-laws. I want to KNOW my sons, their wives, and their children. (so far, only one)

After all...who could resist this little munchkin...

I want to be the "FROSTING"

Here's some more quotes and wise sayings about Grandmothers...

"Grandmother-grandchild relationships are simple. Grandmas are short on criticism and long on love."  ~Anonymous

 "Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do.  Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children."  ~Alex Haley

"We should all have one person who knows how to bless us despite the evidence, Grandmother was that person to me."  ~Phyllis Theroux

"Becoming a grandmother is wonderful. One moment you're just a mother. The next you are all-wise and prehistoric."  ~Pam Brown

"Grandmas don't just say "that's nice" -- they reel back and roll their eyes and throw up their hands and smile. You get your money's worth out of grandmas."  

Grandma always made you feel she had been waiting to see just you all day and now the day was complete.
- Marcy DeMaree

Grandmothers are the people who take delight in hearing babies breathing into the telephone.
- Author Unknown

A grandmother is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend.
- Author Unknown
If nothing is going well, call your grandmother.
- Italian Proverb

Celebrate your Gorgeous Grandma (and Grandpa) today!

Monday, May 6, 2013



This poster was on facebook today. It's a good basic reminder.  As the poster says...It's time to save your skin!

Around the country, many dermatologists offer free or discounted screenings during the month of May. Check out your local doctors and see if there is someplace near you...It truly can save your life. You can also check here:

AND...Use sunscreen!!! It's recommended that you use a good product that is at least an SPF 30. 

To remind you what the SPF's Skin Protection Factor. Factor means that you multiply. (See...those math lessons are useful, after all!)  I'll use my skin (fair) as an example...If I am in the sun without protection, my skin begins to turn pink within 10 minutes of exposure. So...if I used an SPF 30 product, I would get 300 minutes (30 x 10 min) of protection (about 5 hours). Even when the sun product says 8 hours of protection... And that protection is also dependent on water/sweat/etc. factors.

I use a COMPLETE Suncare from UVA 1 and 2  and UVB rays...every day. If I am in the water, I use one specifically for that purpose. And, yes, I still get a tan...a healthy golden glow. (Don't forget to protect your hands, ears, and head!) can get sunburned in your car...whichever side you are on,your hands, your arm, face, and neck are exposed. That's why you need to wear a sun product most of the time...even on cloudy days. 

PROTECT YOUR SKIN! It's your body's largest organ. (And you will look YOUNGER if you do!)


SLIP on a Shirt
SLAP on a Hat
SLIDE on some Sunglasses
SLOP on Sunscreen

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Wild Thing...

She makes my heart sing...

Can't believe how quickly she is growing....

Don't you just love the skull and crossbones hat???

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Finally...the weather is perfect for spending time at the beach!
The water is still a bit cool, but it feels so good to stick my toes in it...

I love the shades of blue in the water...

And I love to watch the birds...

This one became my buddy...he seemed to follow me wherever I went.

End of the day...

If only I could capture these colors on a canvas...

I love how the sun appears to be sinking into the gulf...

No green flash tonight...
But the reflection of the moon was gorgeous!

All these photos were taken at Sand Key...just across the bridge from Clearwater Beach, home.