Saturday, December 30, 2017


Chicken Chili
It’s cold outside!  I know, Texas is not as cold as other parts of the country right now but…  Between the cold and New Year’s – a day when no one really wants to cook but everyone always wants to eat – we are preparing a chili/soupapalooza. 

Tortilla Soup
Ranch Style Chili
It is hard to believe that 2017 is coming to a close.  In the new year, I plan to cook more (in our new house where hopefully more than 1 burner on the stove top functions and the oven doesn’t have as many hot spots).  Best wishes to each of you.  Thank you for sticking with The Baker’s Mann!  Happy cooking, healthy eating (sometimes), and making memories over good food!

What’s cooking in our house right now ready to be heated and eated: 

And because you can’t survive only on liquids:


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cole Slaw for Fish Tacos

Some women have “a thing” for shoes or purses.  I seem to have “a thing” for cole slaw (Carolina cole slaw; creamy cole slaw; and now for fish tacos).  Not sure how that happened.  I’m not a huge cabbage fan.  My mom used to make cabbage rolls and I peeled off the outer layer and ate the meatball on the inside.  I don’t even make my own cole slaw – the bagged kind is sliced very nicely and does not require me cleaning a food processor.  So how did we get to this place?

Don’t know.  Don’t care.  Because slaw tops barbecue (ask me about David and Travis standing in line for 5 hours at Franklin’s Barbecue in Austin.  And yes, it was worth it. And yes, it ended on an even higher note because they met Aaron Franklin on the way out) or fried fish.  How could that be so wrong?

  • 10 oz cole slaw (such as a bag of Fresh Express Angel Hair Cole Slaw)

  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1 ½ Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Dash of cumin (less than 1/8 tsp)
  • Dash of garlic salt (less than 1/8 tsp)
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Place shredded cole slaw in a bowl.  Mix ingredients for aioli in a separate, small bowl.  Add aioli to slaw and mix well.  Top your favorite fish tacos and enjoy.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Chicken Chilaquiles

Chicken Chilaquiles
Pop quiz.  What word(s) comes to mind when you hear “Thanksgiving”?  Turkey.  Ok.  What else?  Football.  And then?  Leftover turkey.  Fear not!  When you are out this week completing your last minute grocery shopping, pick up these ingredients and whip up an easy casserole that doesn’t include turkey and is perfect to eat while watching your favorite football team!  

Thanks to Southern Living for featuring this recipe in their magazine.  My kids gave it street cred only after Marcela Valladolid featured her favorite chilaquiles on Food TV's The Best Thing I Ever Ate.

  • 15 corn tostadas (from 1 [12.3-oz.] pkg.)
  • 2 (8-oz.) pouches green chile enchilada sauce (such as Frontera)
  • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (or any kind of cooked chicken like baked or roasted)
  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 4 ounces Manchego cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (optional), roughly chopped
  • Avocados or guacamole

Preheat oven to 375°F. Arrange 5 tostadas in the bottom of a large cast-iron skillet or dutch oven, breaking them, if needed, to cover bottom. Top with 2/3 cup of the enchilada sauce, about 1 cup of the chicken, 2/3 cup of the Monterey Jack, and 1/3 cup of the Manchego. Repeat layers twice. Bake in preheated oven until cheese is melted and bubbles form, about 25 minutes. Serve with sour cream, avocadoes or guacamole, jalapeño, and cilantro.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Israeli Couscous with Mushrooms

Israeli Couscous with Mushrooms
You have probably seen the video of Deshaun Watson giving his game check to 3 workers in the Houston Texans’ cafeteria who lost much in Hurricane Harvey.  At age 22, he is the starting QB.  His is the top-selling rookie jersey.  But he didn’t win his first trip to the college national championship.  He didn’t win the Heisman Trophy (the first time or the second time that he was nominated).  He wasn’t drafted first to the NFL.  During an interview with Brad Sham at the Dallas Habitat for Humanity Dream Builders event, he didn’t seem to care.  He was focused on the future and what he could accomplish.  He was grateful for his past – his Habitat for Humanity home, his coaches who mentored and pushed him, his mom, his college degree that he earned in 3 years.  In this world where it seems like the goal is to be first, the best, the brightest, to receive the gold star, the blue ribbon, the trophy, I appreciate the humility of a young man who takes his “losses” in stride, uses them as motivation for his next objective, demonstrates perseverance and resilience, remembers where he came from, and considers he has a larger purpose in life than just football yet positively utilizes his platform to make an impact.

Even old people like me can have “firsts.”  At this dinner, they were serving steak – a big, beautiful, juicy piece of red meat, except that I’ve stopped eating red meat for health reasons.  It’s such a bummer.  Some of my favorite recipes are beef: beef tenderloin sandwiches, prime rib and French dips, carne asada.  I asked for a vegetarian meal.  Hello?  That’s funny.  Me?  David, yes.  Me, no.  On the plate was this really good Israeli couscous with mushrooms.  I had to find a recipe and recreate it at home.  Ruth Reichl’s was my favorite.  Travis preferred this variation.  Either way, enjoy your first!

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 pound mixed mushrooms, such as porcini, morels, cremini, and stemmed shiitakes, trimmed if necessary and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-1/4 cups (12 ounces) Israeli couscous

Heat 2 tablespoons butter and oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides. Add shallots and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, soy sauce, and sugar and cook, stirring, until liquid mushrooms give off has evaporated and mushrooms begin to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook couscous in a 5-quart pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt) until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.

Add couscous to mushroom mixture, along with parsley and remaining 1 tablespoon butter, tossing to combine. Season with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

It seems as though the news is filled with nothing but negativity – anger, distrust, fear.  But I have seen kindness.  I have been the recipient of friends’ kindness – these friends who drove my kids at a moment’s notice or made a playlist of songs to remember my uncle or wrote a long, heartfelt, handwritten thank you note.  It reminds me not to allow the negativity to impact me; to make time for others; to show kindness because it does make a difference.  

Elizabeth and I had some girl time and she asked to make some pumpkin bread.  Let’s make pumpkin cake instead (because that involves frosting)!  Oooohhh wait – David and I were at a fun party the other night and the Cousins Maine Lobster food truck (yep, we watch Shark Tank and yep, it was delicious and packed full of lobster meat (although I make a pretty good lobster roll too)) was serving whoopie pies.  Since TBM has already posted a classic whoopie pie, how about we make a pumpkin whoopie pie?  She was game so the research began.  This is the one that made us say “whoopie!!”

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For pumpkin cookies:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices in a bowl.

Whisk together sugar, oil, pumpkin, egg, and vanilla in a separate large bowl until well combined, then stir in flour mixture.

Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop or a 2 tablespoons measuring spoon, drop a scoop's worth of batter onto a lined baking sheet to form 1 mound. This recipe should make at least 32 cookies (or 16 completed sandwiches).  Arrange them 2 inches apart (although they don’t spread out too much).  You should be able to make about 16 cookies per baking sheet.  If there is batter leftover, make more cookies – no one will complain.

Bake until springy to the touch, 12 to 18 minutes. Transfer cookie-cakes to rack to cool.
Form and bake remaining batter on the other parchment-lined sheet.

For filling:
While cookie-cakes are baking, beat cream cheese, butter, and salt in a bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar and bourbon and mix on low speed until smooth.

Chill filling until firm enough to hold its shape when spread, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

To assemble whoopie pies:

Spread 1 heaping tablespoon of filling each on flat side of half the cooled cookie-cakes, then top with other half of cookie-cakes. If necessary, chill whoopie pies just long enough to firm up filling again, about 30 minutes.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Raspberry Muffins

The children are fighting.  “How many have you had?”  “I’ve only had 2.”  Then they uncover the potential for the discrepancy: “Mom, how many have you had?”  This time – 3.  Usually – 0 (because they won’t share).  Who raised them??? 

This goes against everything that David is: it comes from a box.  It is the best kitchen hack for me right now.  I have tried other berry muffin recipes and I have (yet) to find a replacement to the box.  If you have one, save my marriage – send it!

  • 1 box (16.9 oz) Betty Crocker Wild Blueberry muffin and quick bread mix
  • 1 cup raspberries (note: I typically use frozen raspberries and break them into smaller pieces with the smooth side of a meat mallet/tenderizer so the smaller raspberry pieces are “everywhere” in the muffin)
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs

Follow the directions on the box, except you don’t use the can of blueberries.  Mix the muffin mix with the water, vegetable oil and eggs.  Once that it blended, pour in the cup of raspberries and fold them in gently.  Line your muffin pan with paper liners.  Scoop about ¼ cup of batter into each muffin cup. 

Bake at 425 (or 400 for dark or nonstick pans).  Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

This recipe will make 12 muffins (which means 4 per kid in our house – unless the mom sneaks one, or 3, to make it even).

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Creamy Cole Slaw

A true friend is one where you can pick up exactly where you left off and the time and space between you doesn’t seem to matter.  Sing.  Sing a song.  Sing out loud.  Sing out strong: “I’ll Be There.”  “Lean on Me.”  “That’s What Friends are For.”  “With a Little Help From My Friends.”  “Thank You for Being a Friend.” 

I’d like to be friends with Bobby Flay.  Among other things, he has this great recipe for creamy cole slaw.  (If you prefer a vinegar based cole slaw, be sure to revisit this recipe for Carolina Cole Slaw).  As a side or as a topping to David’s pulled pork from the Big Green Egg (now you're going to want to be friends with David), this dish is a great sidekick.

  • 1 head green cabbage, finely shredded (or 1 bag of Fresh Express Angel Hair Cole Slaw*)
  • 2 large carrots, finely shredded, optional
  • 3/4 cup best-quality mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp grated Spanish onion (or ½ Tbsp onion powder)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar, or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 2 tsp celery salt
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper 

*If you use a bag of cole slaw, cut the other ingredients in half.  You can always add to it if you want more creaminess.

Combine the shredded cabbage (and carrots) in a large bowl.  Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, onion, sugar, vinegar, mustard, celery salt, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, and then add to the cabbage mixture.  Mix well to combine and taste for seasoning.  Add more salt, pepper, or sugar if desired.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Pound Cake

I’m all about the slogan.  It’s the marketing genius that sticks with you.  "Betcha can’t eat just one."  Correct – the Lay’s potato chip and I are good friends.  "Everybody doesn't like something, but nobody doesn't like Sara Lee."  Enjoy a slice of their pound cake while working your way through all of those double negatives which somehow cross-cancel into a positive statement.

If you have the time, make a pound cake from scratch.  This recipe from Southern Living is titled “Classic Southern Pound Cake.”  This might be southern but not sure about “classic” as most pound cake recipes do not include cream cheese (although no one is complaining around here about the smooth, moist result).  Paula Deen and some others use shortening; Ina Garten uses buttermilk; another used sour cream; the purists are straight butter.  The Mann family taste testers do agree that the cake tastes better with a topping of fruit.

“I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.” – Alka-Seltzer

Happy Labor Day!

  • 3 C granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ C (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • ¼ C half-and-half
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 300ºF with oven rack in center of oven. Grease and flour a 10-inch (14-cup) bundt pan.

Beat sugar, butter, and cream cheese with an electric stand mixer on medium-high speed until very fluffy and pale in color, 5 to 7 minutes. Add eggs,1 at a time, beating on low speed just until yellow disappears after each addition. Add egg yolks, half-and-half, and vanilla, and beat on low speed just until blended.

Stir together flour and salt in medium bowl; gradually add to butter mixture in 3 batches, beating on low speed just until blended after each addition, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Remove bowl from stand and scrape batter. Using a spatula, stir batter once by hand, scraping sides and bottom to incorporate any unmixed batter. Spoon batter into prepared pan, and gently tap pan on counter to release any large air bubbles.

Bake in preheated oven until cake is golden and a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour and 20 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes (note: mine took closer closer to 1:40/1:45). Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove cake from pan, and cool completely on wire rack before slicing and serving, about 2 hours.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Willy's Wisdom

We said our final goodbyes to dear Uncle Willy.  He and I shared a passion for food and a belief that the dinner table is the most pure and authentic place for family and friends to gather and be.   Uncle Willy is the most prolific contributor to The Baker’s Mann and the links to his recipes are below.  I will continue to cook and share the recipes that I find in his binders. 

With much love, Uncle Willy, I also impart some pieces of your wisdom about sharing, money and investing, and visiting.  And with this, The Baker’s Mann is off hiatus and returns to sharing recipes.  I think it would make Uncle Willy proud.

Sharing: One day Uncle Willy and I were having lunch at a cute little restaurant in the Houston museum district.  On the menu was a bread pudding.  I asked him “do you want to share dessert?”  He replied “No!  Get your own dessert!”  Uncle Willy was a generous man – he shared his time, his home, his dinner table, and more, but do not ask him to share dessert.

Money and investing: When I graduated from college, Uncle Willy shared his wisdom on managing my finances.  What was the secret of this wise CPA and CFO?  He drew a tic-tac-toe board and wrote “market cap” on the x-axis and “risk” on the y-axis and then advised me to select mutual funds that fit into each of the spaces.  He was a simple and straightforward guy who sent out emails to the family congratulating himself and informing others when his Kroger or Randall’s had Blue Bell on sale AND he had a manufacturer’s coupon.

Visiting: Uncle Willy rarely traveled without some sort of gift of food (that he usually baked himself).  And his visits were always too short.  I would ask: “Why don’t you stay longer?”  He would reply: “You don’t want to overstay your welcome.  Leave on a high note so that it makes them want more.”  As always, even this last time, you got your way. 

May his memory be for a blessing.


Our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends who are in Houston, Corpus Christi, and other areas impacted by the hurricane and surviving the flood waters.