Wednesday, August 6, 2014


“You’ve got to be in it to win it.”  I admit it.  Our family plays the lottery (but only when the jackpot gets big (because $4M just isn’t “enough”)).  We are not talking big sums of money spent on playing a game whose odds are worse than <almost anything else you can think of.>  As Travis turns 11, I am thinking about numbers and how David and I have won the lottery with him, Elizabeth and Andrew.  So here is a breakdown of the numbers 1 to 11:
  • You will always be our first born. 
  • There are 2 little people in this house who watch and emulate your every move. 
  • Together you are the 3 musketeers – you guys can get after it like no one else but when it’s good, it’s really, really good and it's fun to have a front row view into that bond. 
  • Why does no one tell you that the 4 year old check up is the worst ever? (This is a public service announcement to all mothers of children under 4.  You are welcome.)
  • They know the lines of most Peanuts cartoons by heart – do you?  “Lucy Van Pelt: ‘I'll give you five good reasons. One, two, three, four, FIVE!’ Linus Van Pelt: ‘Those are good reasons. Christmas is not only getting too commercial, it's getting too dangerous.’ ”
  • Do you remember the joke: Why is 6 afraid of 7?  Because 7 8 9.
  • After age 10, you have to become more creative with your finger gestures to indicate your age during the annual birthday picture.
  • Congratulations Travis!  You have survived Daddy’s and my “expert parenting” for 11 years now!  Happy Birthday!

What is better than combining pastry, ice cream and chocolate?  Well, just about nothin’… 


  1. 1 c milk
  2. ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  3. Pinch of kosher salt
  4. 1 c all-purpose flour
  5. 4 extra-large eggs
  6. ½ c heavy cream
  7. 12 ozs semisweet chocolate chips
  8. 2 T honey
  9. Vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Heat the milk, butter, and salt over medium heat until scalded. When the butter is melted, add the flour all at once and beat it with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and forms a dough. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 2 minutes. The flour will begin to coat the bottom of the pan. Dump the hot mixture into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the eggs and pulse until the eggs are incorporated into the dough and the mixture is thick.

While some recipes call for putting the dough into a pastry bag, I didn’t have one so I used an ice cream scoop and a spoon.  Spoon about 18 balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (the balls should be about 1-½ inches wide and 1 inch.  If you want, wet your hands and you can lightly shape/mold them into little balls.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned, then turn off the oven and allow them to sit for another 10 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Make a small slit in the side of each puff to allow the steam to escape. Set aside to cool.

For the chocolate sauce (and I made half of what is listed in the ingredients), place the cream and chocolate chips in a bowl set over simmering water and stir just until the chocolate melts. Add the honey and stir until smooth. Set aside.

For serving, cut each profiterole in half crosswise, fill with a small scoop of ice cream, replace the top, and drizzle with slightly warm chocolate sauce.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

What do you think of when you hear “pavlova”?  A scientist who trains dogs to salivate when they hear a bell?  A Russian tennis star?  Now when you hear “pavlova” you will start to salivate and have to play a little more tennis to work off the calories.  Or if you are playing Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy the real answer is that a pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova.  This recipe came from Nigella Lawson.

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

For the Meringue Base:
  1. 6 large egg whites
  2. 2 c sugar (calls for superfine, I used Imperial)
  3. 3 T unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  4. 1 t balsamic or red wine vinegar
  5. 2 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the Toppings:
  1. 2 c heavy cream
  2. 4 c raspberries
  3. 1 to 2 oz dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw a 9-inch-diameter circle on the paper with a pencil, tracing a round cake pan that size.  Flip the paper over so your meringue doesn't touch the pencil marks - you'll still be able to see the circle – and place it on the cookie sheet.

Make the meringue: Beat the egg whites with a mixer until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.

Add the chocolate: Sprinkle the cocoa, vinegar and then the chopped chocolate over the egg whites. Gently fold everything with a rubber spatula until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.

Shape the meringue: Secure the parchment to the baking sheet with a dab of meringue under each corner. Mound the meringue onto the parchment within the circle, smoothing the sides and the top with a spatula.

Bake the meringue: Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees and cook for one to one and a quarter hours. When it's ready, it should look crisp and dry on top, but when you prod the center you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers.

Let it cool: Turn off the oven and open the door slightly; let the chocolate meringue disk cool completely in the oven. When you're ready to serve, invert onto a big flat bottomed plate and peel off the parchment.

Decorate the Pavlova: Nigella’s instructions are included here however I cut the pavlova into individual servings then topped with whipped cream and raspberries on each plate rather than topping the cake first and then cutting into individual servings.  Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter the raspberries on top. Coarsely grate the chocolate haphazardly over the top so that you get curls of chocolate rather than rubble, as you don't want the raspberries' luscious color and form to be obscured. You want the Pavlova to look like a frosted cake.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Smoked Beef Short Ribs

Man and his love affair with fire began over 400,000 years ago (some studies indicate 1 million years ago but let’s not squabble about the minutiae, it was a long time ago.  However, to put it in perspective, the first game of golf was only over 550 years ago).  I digress.   

This Mann enjoyed both fire and golf on his Father’s Day.  After some early temperature control issues, he managed to get the Big Green Egg under control and made us some delicious beef short ribs (recipe courtesy of Kevin Rathbun). 

Whether you call him Dad, Daddy, Pop, Pa, Father, Gigi, or Sir, call him this Father’s Day and tell him how much he means to you.

Happy Father’s Day!!!

Smoked Beef Short Ribs

  1. 1 t garlic powder
  2. 1 t onion powder
  3. 1 t smoked Spanish paprika
  4. ½ t cayenne pepper
  5. ½ t dried thyme
  6. ½ t ground coriander
  7. 1 T kosher salt

Other ingredients 
  1. 4 lbs bone-in beef short ribs, cut 2-2 ½ inches thick
  2. 16 oz lager beer
  3. 2 C chicken stock
  4. 2 C white balsamic vinegar
  5. 4 T salted butter, cubed
  6. Hickory chips 

Green Egg Equipment: plate setter, porcelain coated grid, hickory chips, 9in x 13 in glass or ceramic baking dish (we used a disposable aluminum pan instead)

Preheat the Egg to 200 degrees without the grid.

Place the hickory chips in a small bowl, cover with water and let soak for at least 1 hour.  Drain and scatter over the preheated charcoal. Using barbecue mitts, place the grid on the Egg.

To make the rub, mix all of the dry ingredients together (garlic powder through salt).  Generously rub the short ribs with the spice mix.

Place the ribs on the grid and close the lid of the Egg.  Let the ribs smoke 1 ½ - 2 hours.  Once the short ribs have finished smoking, transfer the ribs to the baking dish. 

Using the grill gripper and barbecue mitts, carefully remove the grid and add the plate setter, legs up, and replace the grid.  Raise the internal temperature of the Egg to 375.

Mix the beer and the chicken broth in a large bowl and set aside.  Place the vinegar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half.  Pour the beer and chicken mixture over the ribs.

Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil; place in the preheated egg for 2 ½ hours or until the ribs are fork tender.

Warm the reduced vinegar over low heat.  Using a whisk, add the butter a little at a time, stirring constantly, until the butter is emulsified.  Do not boil.  Transfer the ribs to plates, top with the sauce and serve immediately.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Here is a replay of an 8 year old ordering his burger at Maple and Motor:

Andrew: “I would like a cheeseburger with mustard, please.”
Lady: “Do you want anything else with that: lettuce, tomatoes, pickles?”
Andrew: “A bun.” 

Ahhh… the simple things in life.  Kind of like a good chowder with quality, wholesome ingredients.  My mom’s family is from Corpus Christi so eating shrimp was always part of our visit.  With summer and sweet corn peaking, its the perfect time to combine two favorite foods and flavors.  This chowder has evaporated milk rather than half-and-half (like this corn chowder) which makes this dish (seem) a little lighter for summer.  This recipe was adapted from a Southern Living chowder recipe which included curry and sweet potatoes.

Shrimp and Corn Chowder
  1. 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  2. 2 T olive oil
  3. 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  4. 2 large Yukon gold potatoes (1 lb), peeled and diced
  5. 2 c fresh corn kernels (can vary from 3-5 ears)
  6. 1 14oz can chicken broth
  7. 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
  8. 1 t salt
  9. ¼ t pepper
  10. 1 lb peeled, large raw shrimp
Saute onion in hot oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat for 5 minutes or until tender.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 additional minute.  Add potatoes, corn, chicken broth, evaporated milk, salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring often.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender. Stir in shrimp and cook for 5 minutes or until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Season with more salt and pepper, to taste.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Arboretum’s Gardenlicious Kids Cook-off – Entries due June 8

Gardenlicious Kids Cook-off 

Have you heard it yet?  “I’m bored.”  Are they already getting on each other's nerves?  Then give them a project!  Have your 1st-8th grader find or create a recipe to submit for the Arboretum’s first Gardenlicious Kids Cook-off.  Even if you don’t submit a recipe, join in the fun at the Children’s Adventure Garden and attend the event on Sunday, June 29 from 1-3pm – tickets range from $5-$30.

Young cooks, entering grades 1-8, are invited to enter their culinary creations in this fun, inventive cook-off for children using at least one ingredient represented in the Incredible Edible Garden (i.e., corn, blueberries, carrots, beans, avocados, etc.) in the Dallas Arboretum’s new Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. Whether as a group representing their school, with a sibling or friend looking for fun or as an individual who wants to exercise his/her creativity in the kitchen, young students throughout the North Texas area are invited to find out what three local food celebrities have to say about their delicious and healthy concoctions. Then, the kids become the jury as they test and critique the offerings of the three celebrity judges. Visit the Arboretum’s website and choose Gardenlicious Kids Cook-off for a list of plants in the Incredible Edible Garden and to sign up to compete. All rules and the contest format are also included on the website. An added attraction to this fun food event on Sunday, June 29 is that guests and contestants will be treated to snacks by our celebrity judges, Kent Rathbun, Scott Gottlich and Lynae Fearing.

If you cannot make it on the 29th, make it to the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden at some point this summer.  It is a wonderful and activity-filled destination for kids of all ages to explore.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Orzo with Peas

My oh my!  Why oh why?  With the end of the school year, everyone and everything gets crammed into a very short period of time: games, tournaments, recitals, wax museums, projects, speeches, graduation, book club… shall I continue?  Do you have others to add to the list?

Orzo is quick to make and yummy to eat, especially in between all these end of school year activities.  This recipe was based on a Spring Pea Orzo in Southern Living however I omitted the green peas.  Since most recipes only use half of the box of orzo, you can make one of these next: Orzo Salad; Orzo with Arugula, Dried Cherries and Ricotta; or Roasted Shrimp with Orzo.

  1. 3 to 4 lemons (1/2 c lemon juice)  
    Orzo with Peas
  2. 8 ounces uncooked orzo pasta
  3. 1/4 cup minced shallot or red onion
  4. 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  5. 1 T Dijon mustard
  6. 1/2 t table salt
  7. 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
  8. 1 – 1 ½ cup snow peas, blanched and chopped
  9. 1 – 1 ½ cup sugar snap peas, blanched and chopped
  10. 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Cut lemons in half; squeeze juice from lemons to equal 1/2 cup.

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Whisk together shallots, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and lemon juice. Toss together pasta and shallot mixture. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill 1 to 48 hours.

Toss together pasta, snow peas, sugar snap peas, and almonds just before serving.  Add salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice to taste.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Green Bean Salad

Dear Mom,
Happy Mother’s Day! … Thank you for all of your yummy desserts!  You have been PERFECT all year! … Thank you for cooking most of our meals.  Some of them I don’t really like…  Love, Elizabeth

Now that’s gratitude for you – Elizabeth style.  I appreciate her honesty and maybe one of these days, she will like my food other than desserts.  Here’s a Jamie Deen recipe that she didn’t even try.  The rest of us enjoyed it though (which surprised me, I wasn’t anticipating that I would – it includes almost raw vegetables, you know).  I predict it will become a summer salad/picnic staple.  Hope you enjoy it too!

Green Bean Salad

  1. Kosher salt
  2. 1 pound slender green beans (i.e., French green beans), ends trimmed
  3. 1 cup feta cheese crumbles
  4. 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  5. 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  6. 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  7. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  8. 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  9. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  10. 1 large clove garlic, minced
  11. Freshly ground black pepper

Boil a large pot of salted water. Add the green beans and cook until tender crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove green beans and place in a bowl of ice water. Drain well, pat dry and place the beans in a large bowl. Combine with the feta cheese, tomatoes and red onions.

Toast the almonds in a small skillet, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, basil, garlic and some salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the green beans and sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.