Thursday, October 29, 2020

Marinated Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Nothing says “good morning!” like a flat tire.  At first I thought that I was dragging something under the car – thump, thump, thump.  I jumped out of the car and looked underneath to see a very flat tire.  “Kids.  Quick.  Get into Travis’ car!” 

And nothing says “grilling weather” like 40 degrees and drizzly.  Someone (me) didn’t check the weather report before grocery shopping.  This Charlie Palmer recipe is a hit regardless of the temperature outside. 

Vote.  Let your voice be heard.  Every vote counts.  Every voice matters.  Respect one another.


  • 3 (3/4 to 1 pound) pork tenderloins
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

Combine the soy sauce, sherry, honey, vinegar, oil, and orange juice in a medium bowl, whisking until well blended. Stir in the rosemary, shallots, and ginger. Pour the mixture over the tenderloins. Allow to marinate for at least 2 hours.

Remove the pork from the marinade, shaking off any excess. Place the tenderloins on the grill and cook, turning frequently, for about 18 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 155 degrees F. Transfer to a platter and allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, place the marinade in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Slice the pork into 1/4 inch-thick slices, spoon the hot marinade over the pork.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Chicken Fried Rice


Over the years, we have accumulated a large quantity of party paper napkins.  You know how it goes – you buy a pack for a party and then there are leftovers.  We have a large drawer of mismatched napkins.  When paper napkins and paper towels were in short supply a few months ago, we made our meals festive with colorful choices.  At one point, someone setting the table gave a “special” napkin to a family member and waited to see how long it took the rest of us to notice.  Which one is not like the other?  So now it has become a joke and every so often, a special napkin is allocated.  Try it and see how long it takes to be noticed.

We have also tried lots of fried rice recipes.  Usually I take the stance of “leave it to the experts” but Andrew was insistent.  The first time I made it, David had the pizza place on speed dial and afterwards admitted “that was better than I had anticipated.”  Lovely.


  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ pounds chicken, boneless, skinless and cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, diced and blanched
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked and chilled rice, like jasmine rice – or 3 orders of steamed rice from a Chinese restaurant like Pei Wei
  • 3–4 tablespoons soy sauce, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • Optional ingredients which we did not include but which are listed in the original recipe: peas, green onions and oyster sauce

Cook or buy your rice a day in advance.  Place in the refrigerator to cool.  Supposedly cold rice works the best. 

In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Place chicken pieces in the pan, season with salt and a splash of soy sauce.  Cook through.  Remove chicken from pan and set aside. 

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat until melted. Add eggs and cook until scrambled, stirring occasionally. Transfer egg to a separate plate.

In a large saute pan (preferably with high sides) or a wide pot, heat 1 tablespoon butter until melted. Add carrots, onion, and garlic, and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the onion and carrots are soft. Increase heat to high, add in the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter, and stir until melted. Immediately add the rice and soy sauce and stir until combined. Continue sautéing for an additional 3 minutes to fry the rice, stirring occasionally.  (You can let the rice rest for a bit between stirs so that it can crisp up on the bottom.)  Then add in the eggs and chicken stir to combine. Remove from heat, and stir in the sesame oil until combined.  Taste and season with extra soy sauce, if needed.

Thursday, October 15, 2020


“For every human hand leaves its mark, an imprint like no other.”  I read these words a few weeks ago and it made me think about how each of us is unique; each of us has an opportunity to make a difference; what legacy will each of us leave behind.  And what is mine…

Susan B. has made her mark on this blog being a frequent contributor with some stellar recipes (sea bass; salted caramel cheesecake; North Carolina barbecue; monkey bread; meatballs; pancakes).  She shared this bagel recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction – twice.  Travis has made them – twice.  He was more successful – and daring – in his second go round.  He had a lot of fun trying out various toppings (not shown here – the chocolate – think chocolate iced donut but with a bagel base) – shown above: plain, cinnamon sugar, salt, cheese, and sesame.    


  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (between 100-110°F)
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast
  • 4 cups bread flour (spoon & leveled), plus more for work surface and hands
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar or packed light or dark brown sugar (or barley malt syrup)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Nonstick spray or 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup honey (or barley malt syrup)

Prepare the dough: Whisk the warm water and yeast together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Add the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Beat on low speed for 2 minutes. The dough is very stiff and will look somewhat dry.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands, knead the dough for 4-5 minutes. The dough is too heavy for the mixer to knead it.

Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel.  Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 60-90 minutes or until double in size.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Shape the bagels: When the dough is ready, punch it down to release any air bubbles. Divide the dough into 8 equal-ish pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Press your index finger through the center of each ball to make a hole about 1.5 – 2 inches in diameter.

Loosely cover the shaped bagels with kitchen towel and rest for a few minutes as you prepare the water bath.

Preheat oven to 425.

Water bath: Fill a large, wide pot with 2 quarts of water. Whisk in the honey. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high. Drop bagels in, 2-4 at a time, making sure they have enough room to float around. Cook the bagels for 1 minute on each side.  Remove from the water bath. 

Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash on top and around the sides of each bagel. Place 4 bagels onto each lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. You want the bagels to be a dark golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow bagels to cool on the baking sheets for 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cover leftover bagels tightly and store at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week (but they won’t last that long).


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Croissant Bread Pudding

Be a Marty.  In the days following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Vogue published an article “May Every Woman Find Her Marty Ginsburg.”  It focuses on respect, sacrifice, self-confidence, support, equality, and love.  Every woman who dares to make a difference deserves a Marty.  Every man who has a goal deserves a Marty.  Every child with a dream deserves a Marty.  Yes, we should all aspire to be RBG – to have passions and beliefs and a never-ending drive to impact change and correct injustices.  And yes, we should all be a Marty and give that unselfish support and pride to the RBG’s in our life.

Say it.  Do it.   Be a Marty.

Inspired by Ina and similar to a family favorite (also by Ina), raspberry French toast casserole, croissants + bread pudding = delicious for dessert or breakfast. 


  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 croissants, preferably stale
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or raspberries or raisins or your preferred combo

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl or blender, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla. Set the custard mixture aside. Slice the croissants in half horizontally. In a 2 quart baking dish, distribute the bottoms of the sliced croissants, then add the chocolate chips / raspberries / raisins on top of the croissant bottoms, then top with the croissant tops (brown side up). Pour the custard over the croissants and allow to soak for 10 minutes, pressing down gently.

Place the pan in a larger one filled with 1-inch of hot water. Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so it doesn't touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature. 


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Chicken Alfredo Baked Ziti

One of my favorite albums to listen (and sing) to while on walks is Hamilton.  In One Last Time, George Washington references Micah 4:4 and says “Everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree. And no one shall make them afraid.”  It just strikes me as poignant, meaningful, hopeful and needed these days.  In the very next song, the transition of leadership of President of the US is addressed by  King George, "they will tear each other into pieces."  Certainly humanity and decency will prevail. 

Speaking of Hamilton, Aaron Burr (aka, Leslie Odom, Jr.) is the guest speaker at Austin Street Center’s virtual luncheon this Friday, September 25.  Join me online and support a great cause! 

Since we will be luncheoning together like ladies of leisure, plan on serving this dish for dinner.  It is fast and easy; simple and comforting.  My friend, Debbie K., recommended Gimme Some Oven and I found this gem.


For the Alfredo Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the Chicken Baked Ziti:

  • 12 ounces uncooked ziti (or any pasta shape)
  • 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (about 2 small chicken breasts)
  • 1 batch alfredo sauce (see above)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • Toppings and mix-ins, optional: freshly-grated Parmesan cheese; sauteed mushrooms; blanched asparagus.

For the Alfredo Sauce:

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for one minute, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine. Saute for an additional minute to cook the flour, stirring occasionally.

Slowly add chicken broth, whisking to combine until smooth. Whisk in milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Let cook for an additional minute until thickened, then stir in Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until the cheese melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the Chicken Baked Ziti:

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook the pasta al dente in a large stockpot of well-salted boiling according to package instructions. Drain. Return pasta to the stockpot and add chicken and alfredo sauce. Gently toss to combine until the pasta is evenly coated.

Pour half of the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of mozzarella. Layer the remaining half of the pasta evenly on top. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and just barely starts to turn golden. Remove and serve immediately, sprinkled with additional toppings if desired.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Toffee Crunch Cookies


I went on a walk the other morning.  A couple walking their dog passed me.  They stopped to talk with a friend who was also walking her dog and thus I passed by them.  A few minutes later, the couple passed me again.  Embarrassed, I removed my ear piece and said, “wow – you guys have lapped me twice now.  You have a great stride.”  And the woman replied to me, “I like your singing.”  Now that’s embarrassing.  Usually, I am walking towards people and can stop singing when I am within earshot.  I rarely am passed from behind.  I’m a power walker, you know, and obviously a Broadway or The Voice wannabe (without any qualifications).

My cousin’s “evil” husband, Chris, introduced me to Tate’s Butter Crunch cookies.  They have helped me through the pandemic (thus the need for power walking).  So crispy and buttery and sweet with a hint of salt.  A little cross-pollination of a Toll House cookie with some Heath toffee bits and voila, I will sing these cookies praises from the mountain top.


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 bag (8 oz) Heath toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in toffee chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Chipotle-style Black Beans in the Instant Pot


Elizabeth says that Facebook is so “middle-aged mom.”  Well thank you.  It’s my best news source because I keep up with my friends and what is going on in their lives (however sometimes TMI though, people).  My friend, Joan, posted this Oscar Wilde quote today with her own addition at the end.  “When it rains, look for rainbows; When it’s dark, look for stars”; When it’s sunny, always smile bright.  Can TikTok deliver that kind of optimism?  Can an Insta make you think? 

There might be a theme in our house with the recreation of Chipotle products.  Partner the beans and rice with some grilled chicken and tortilla and you have got yourself a tasty meal.  The boys will even skip the tortilla (why would you ever do that!?) and make themselves a bowl.  Snap that, E!


  • 1 lb dried black beans
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 6 cups water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

Pour beans into a colander, rinse and sort beans. Transfer to a 6-qt. electric pressure cooker. Add one teaspoon salt and 3 1/2 cups water. Lock lid; make sure pressure-release valve is closed. Adjust to high pressure-cook on high for 2 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for 20 minutes; quick release any remaining pressure. Press cancel.

Drain the beans and discard liquid. Return beans to pressure-cooker. Add 2 ½ cups water and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Add in the chopped onion and minced garlic. Add in all of the spices: bay leaf, salt, chili powder, cumin, pepper, oregano, lemon juice and lime juice.  Stir to mix. 

Lock lid; close pressure-release valve.  Adjust to high pressure and cook on high for 25 minutes.  Allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes and then quick-release any remaining pressure.  Press cancel.  Remove lid; do not drain; remove bay leaf and enjoy!! 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Chipotle-style Cilantro Lime Rice

“Hello good people!”  I work with a guy who starts his emails and his Zoom calls with that refrain.  I appreciate the optimism, the assumption, the expectation, the positivity, and the consistency that everyone receives (and deserves) the same welcome.  We need more of that these days.  I look forward to his greeting and the feeling that it creates.  

Travis has approached cooking this summer with that same optimism.  He has tried numerous recipes – some achieved his expectations, others not so much.  This is one that should receive a “hello good recipe!” refrain. 


  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced

Put water, rice, salt, olive oil and bay leaf in a medium-sized pot and then stir.  Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer for 12-15 minutes until the water is absorbed.

Transfer cooked rice to a mixing bowl.  Stir in the chopped cilantro and lime juice.  Stir and enjoy, good people!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake

Happy summer everyone! 

For Mother’s Day (yep that was a few weeks ago – does it feel like it?), Travis made me a card which read “Mothers of teens know why some animals eat their young” and attributed it to “Albert Einstein or someone like that”.  There has been a lot of togetherness over the past few months.  It has been a gift to slow down and not rush from one activity to the next and it’s been a test of patience – on everyone’s part – to “appreciate” all of this glorious opportunity.  This cake is something your family will appreciate and you do have to make it the day before so the filling softens the crisp cookies so what a great opportunity to practice your honed skills to the max.

When the temps heat up, the last thing you want to do it heat up your oven.  How about this icebox cake from Barefoot Contessa?  We made some modifications given a lack of interest in espresso powder and kahlua but either way, it’s a winner!

  • 2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 12 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages Tate’s Bake Shop chocolate chip cookies

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Mix on low speed to combine and then slowly raise the speed, until it forms firm peaks.

To assemble the cake, arrange chocolate chip cookies flat in an 8-inch springform pan, covering the bottom as much as possible. It should be 8 cookies per layer (count how many are in each package – multiple by 3 – divide by 5 and that’s how many should be in each layer).  You should have a few extra so you can break some cookies to fill in the spaces. Spread a fifth of the mocha whipped cream evenly over the cookies. Place another layer of cookies on top, lying flat and touching, followed by another fifth of the cream. Continue layering cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, ending with a layer of cream. Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. If you are feeling fancy, sprinkle the top with shaved semi-sweet chocolate, cut in wedges, and serve cold.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Taco Seasoning

One hour before our weekly grocery pick-up and the dreaded text comes through “We were unable to fulfill fresh iceberg lettuce.”  No!!!  A quick call to the curbside department and an explanation of my first-world problem: “It’s taco salad night.  How can I serve taco salad without lettuce? Is there anything – organic, bagged…”  Tyler understood and said that he’d look into it.  When Andrew and I returned home and started unpacking our bags, Tyler somehow managed to come through.  Thank you Central Market.

Time to cook.  I head into the pantry for the taco seasoning.  Who didn’t check for the taco seasoning?  David.  Just kidding – that’d be me.  Improvise – web search and this recipe by Bill Echols solved my second first-world problem of the day.


  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together.  Seasoning can be stored in an air tight container.

After browning a pound of ground beef, drain the meat.  Return the meat to the skillet and add 2 tablespoons of the taco seasoning and 2/3 cup of water.  Stir and simmer for 5 minutes.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Potatoes au Gratin

I have been dreaming a lot recently.  For a few nights, I dreamt about how to cut the boys’ hair.  On the second night, I cut a little too close to Travis’ scalp.  The very next day on television, Anderson Cooper admitted and displayed his hair cutting snafu (and it was eerily similar to my dream).  I also dreamt that I was in a job interview at Microsoft.  It was a panel of 3 interviewers.  They said “we are looking for someone who is organized, detailed, and can keep us on track to meet deadlines.”  To which I replied “that’s me!  I’m the perfect nag – just ask my kids.”  Crickets.  Blank stares.  The silence was deafening.  So I filled the silence by explaining my attempt at a joke.  I could pay a lot of money trying to figure out what any of these mean.

This week’s food delivery included another 15 pound bag of potatoes from Costco and no Tate’s cookies from Tom Thumb so TBM will feature a Ree Drummond au gratin recipe and not an icebox cake.  

  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 3 large russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar

Preheat the oven to 400. Butter a mid-sized baking dish (e.g., 2.2 qt or 7x11) with the butter.  

Scrub and peel the potatoes.  Cut the potatoes into a small dice/cubes.  Par boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes to soften the potatoes.  Drain the water.

Combine the cream and milk in a bowl. Add the flour, salt and some pepper. Whisk it together well so that the flour is incorporated into the milk/cream mixture. Add the diced potatoes to the prepared baking dish and pour the creamy mixture all over the top.  

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 15 to 20 minutes more. Just before serving, sprinkle on the grated cheese and return it to the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly, 3 to 5 minutes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bites

Who ate the cookie?  Last night we made chocolate chip cookies – 2 per person.  For some odd reason, David ate half of each of his cookies and left the other 2 halves on the cookie sheet.  The half cookies were still sitting there in the morning.  Then sometime after breakfast, only 1 cookie half remained.  But no one would admit to eating the cookie.  The Great Inquisition began.  David interrogated everyone before, during and after dinner.  No one would admit to eating the cookie.  He threatened to withhold cookies after dinner.  4 against 1 – cookies were consumed.  There are so many oddities in this story and still the unknown.

(Some) readers have suggested that I post healthier recipes.  Fine.  My parents actually sent this one to me.  The recipe comes from Dr. Jaclyn Albin, M.D., Director of the Culinary Medicine Program at UT Southwestern.  Elizabeth and I made them – three times now.  These bites are quite addictive (unless you are Andrew and don’t like peanut butter) or perhaps he’s just full from eating the cookie half. 


  • ¾ cup peanut butter
  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats (old fashioned or quick cooking)
  • 4 tablespoons honey or maple syrup 
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
Pour the oats in a bowl and add in the peanut butter.  Pour in the honey (or syrup) and vanilla). Mix well.  Pour the chocolate chips and stir together.

Place the mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before forming them into balls.  Using a 1 inch (or 1 tablespoon) spoon, scoop out the mixture, press down to compact, and then pop out into a storage container.  You can store in the refrigerator for up to a week or at room temperature for a few days.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

French Toast "Omelet" Sandwich

Brené Brown.  Sort of heard of her.  Selected as the keynote speaker for the University of Texas at Austin’s commencement address.  Watched her Netflix documentary: The Call to Courage.  Am now obsessed with her message about courage, vulnerability, fear, shame, empathy, and leadership.  “Having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome.”  “Just do the joyful thing.”  “Practice gratitude.”  "Show up, be seen, answer the call to courage... 'cause you're worth it. You're worth being brave." She incorporates a lot of life stories to deliver her message.  My favorite story of this documentary is the last one about swimming.

“Sometimes winning is not coming in first. Sometimes winning is doing the really brave thing. Maybe winning for you, is just coming off the block and getting wet.”  Give yourself a gift and allocate 75 minutes to watching her presentation.  Her TED talks are next on my list.  

All of the kids have been courageous and trying new foods and recipes recently.  Sometimes it feels like an episode of Chopped – what can you make from the ingredients in the refrigerator.  Andrew did some research and found a recipe from “I made only egg recipes for a day.”  It has been declared a winner in our house.


  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ tablespoon milk
  • Pat of butter
  • 2 slices of brioche bread
  • Add-ins like chopped bacon, cheddar cheese, avocado slices, salsa, mushrooms, chives... whatever you like in an egg sandwich or on an omelet

In a 10” skillet, melt a pat of butter.  Beat the eggs and mix in a half tablespoon of milk.  Pour the eggs into the skillet.  Place the brioche slices in the eggs to coat one side (like french toast) and then turn the bread over and leave it there to cook.  When the eggs are cooked part way, like an omelet, run a spatula under the egg “disk” and flip it over (make sure your spatula picks up both slices of bread).  On top of the eggs which are cooked on top of one of the slices of bread, place your choice of toppings.  

Continue cooking the eggs and the bread, which is now skillet side down to a nice golden brown.  To create a nice and neat, square sandwich, fold over the edges of the egg “disk”.  With your spatula, flip one slice of bread on top of the other to make a sandwich.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

This is definitely not how I expected the day to go.  I mean, when have you not paid taxes on April 15 (or the day closest to 4/15 when it fell on a Saturday or Sunday)?  

In honor of this day, I will list my top 50 favorite things - - or let’s go with 29 (forever!), that’s all you need to know…

  1. Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens (I must admit that I’m not the biggest fan of cats, except for you, JoJo)
  2. Brown paper packages tied up with string (I’m mastering the art of online shopping)
  3. Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes (I feel like my childhood was incomplete without a dress like this)
  4. When one door closes, another one opens.  
  5. Lobster Rolls
  6. “You could cook and shell your own lobsters, but why?” – Ina Garten
  7. Holiday cards
  8. Challah French Toast
  9. Raspberry French Toast Casserole
  10. Chocolate Sheath Cake
  11. Mini-Cheesecakes
  12. Salted Caramel Cheesecake
  13. Baskin Robbins
  14. “Be Silly, Be Honest, Be Kind.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  15. Lattes
  16. Banana Bread
  17. Coffee Cake
  18. Bruschetta
  19. “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” – Albert Einstein
  20. Camp Longhorn
  21. Hydrangeas
  22. HGTV and Food Network
  23. “I'm just someone who likes cooking and for whom sharing food is a form of expression.” – Maya Angelou  
  24. New York City
  25. Hamilton 
  26. Billy Joel and Elton John
  27. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
  28. “There’s no place like home.”  – L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
    Moving and rental homes
  29. David, Travis, Elizabeth, and Andrew
Be safe and stay well.  Thanks for being on this journey of life with me!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Twice Baked Potatoes

It was a nerve racking day.  My shipment from Target was supposed to arrive.  The tracking email said that it had arrived yet there was no package on the front porch as it had indicated.  I walked to the neighbors’ homes on both sides – no errant package on their porches.  Do you know how long the wait time is for Target’s customer service?  Did you know that phone numbers to local post offices are not listed any more?  When all hope was lost, David (aka, the worst searcher in the whole wide world) walks by the front door “hey, there’s a package on the front porch” and takes all the credit for “finding it.”  Ok, kudos to you.  Bring that inside – there’s brown sugar in that box (and have you tried to find brown sugar at the grocery store recently?)!!

To use up the 15 pounds of potatoes from Costco, we have made these twice baked potatoes twice – so does that make them quattro baked????

  • 3 medium/large russet potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ c sour cream
  • 1 c cheddar cheese, preferably sharp
  • Salt, pepper, garlic salt
  • Optional: cooked and chopped bacon, chives
Preheat oven to 375.  Scrub potatoes.  Bake in the oven (unwrapped but on a piece of aluminum foil to catch any drips) for 1 ½-2 hours until the inside is soft.  Remove from the oven and cool.

Once cool, slice the potato in half.  Remove the inside of the potato with a spoon and place in a bowl.  Do your best not to puncture or tear the potato skin shell.

In the bowl, add the butter, sour cream, cheese, and a pinch of salt, pepper and garlic salt to the potato.  Use a potato masher or a fork to incorporate all of the ingredients together.  Once combined, spoon the mixture back into the potato skin shell and press down with the spoon to fill in the gaps.

Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and reheat in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes until heated through.  Top with chopped pieces of cooked bacon, chives and/or more cheese.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Potato, Potahto

When you order potatoes from Costco and a 15 pound bag arrives at your door, what do you do (after trying to pawn them off on friends and neighbors)?

Thursday, April 2, 2020

A Bounty with Bread

No joke.  Shopping these days is stressful.  Costco – item is sold out.  Central Market – no available pick up or delivery dates for the coming week.  Tom Thumb – random assortment of options.  Target – item is out of stock.  So, when I find a loaf of bread, is it weird that I feel like I have won the lottery?  (Imagine the feelings if I actually found some Clorox Clean Up, 409 or Wet Ones!)  Back to food.  Now that you have that loaf of bread, you start to strategize about how to use every slice of bread.  Thank goodness there is a freezer and after 20 seconds on defrost in the microwave, those frozen slices of bread will be brought back to life.  

If you are lucky enough to score a loaf of bread, here are some tasty recipes to make with and maximize your prized possession:

Challah or Brioche

French Bread



Hot Dog Buns

Monday, March 30, 2020

Cook Once, Make Multiple Meals

Cook.  Clean.  Cook.  Clean.  At times it feels like my current life is the movie “Groundhog Day” or a hamster wheel or the back of shampoo bottle: lather, rinse, repeat.  I found it challenging in my “previous” life to come up with creative meals on a given week.  Now I have to be creative AND plan a week in advance to minimize the number of times I am at the grocery store or if you are ordering for delivery, most grocery stores are a scheduling a week out.

Chicken may not be a creative ingredient but you can cook a bunch of it and use it for so many recipes so cook once, make multiple meals and jump off the hamster wheel just for a little bit.  Bake, roast, boil or buy a rotisserie chicken.

You can roast/bake a full chicken or just a chicken breast: roast chicken.  Or boil chicken in water and make a chicken broth (and/or chicken soup).  With the chicken cooked from either method above, you have started the base for any of the recipes below.  

Now with all of your free time, do a load of laundry.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Making the Most Out of What You Have

Well this is different.  Different can be good and inspiring or unnerving and out of control.  "Adversity does not build character, it reveals it." - James Lane Allen  

I am trying to practice social distancing but my family keeps emerging at meal times and wants to be fed. 

Our lives are usually so busy running from school to sports to everything else, I try to plan meals and have ingredients in the refrigerator.  Now I have to plan out meals to minimize the number of times we go to the grocery store and to maximize what we have in the refrigerator and/or pantry.

Here are some recipes that might help you use canned or frozen foods that are in your house already  - - or perhaps it will help you build a grocery list for your next trip and which will last for a while if you don’t want to eat it right away.  

Whatever your intent or plan, stay safe – be well – reach out to a friend.

  • Ranch Style Chili – Ranch Style beans + canned tomatoes + ground beef or turkey (which can be frozen and thawed when you are ready to cook)
  • Black Bean, Corn and Feta Dip – canned black beans and corn + feta – any chip will do Tostitos Scoops, Frito Scoops, pita chips
  • Chicken Pot Pie – try it with frozen vegetables plus you might have a 2nd pie crust leftover for raspberry mini pies
  • Corn Chowder – frozen corn works well + a russet potato
  • Raspberry Muffins – dig into your stash of frozen raspberries and a boxed muffin mix
  • Blackberry Cobbler – use some frozen blackberries + flour, sugar, eggs and butter
  • Banana Bread – don’t let those bananas go bad – make some bread or freeze the bananas and add to a smoothie
  • Smoothie 1 or Smoothie 2 – create your own blend using your favorite frozen fruits like strawberries, raspberries, mango, pineapple, bananas + yogurt + juice
  • Pumpkin Bread - grab a can of pumpkin and make your house smell like fall and winter

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Raspberry Mini-Pies

It’s Pi day – March 14 or 3.14 – so let’s make and eat pie (I can come up with lots of excuses).  Best part is, this is the same filling as the raspberry turnovers!  Super easy and super transferrable – pick your dough.  

We have featured some great pies over the years.  Check these out for pie alternatives:


  • 1 box of pie crust
  • 2 cups of raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, optional
  • 1 large egg, beaten, + 1 tablespoon water
  • Sugar for sprinkling (regular or coarse)

Combine the raspberries, sugar, the dissolved cornstarch, and vanilla.  In a small pot, heat over medium heat until the berries begin to breakdown.  The sauce will thicken quickly after about 4-6 minutes over the heat.  When thick, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll one of the pie doughs out on a lightly floured surface until about 1/8 inch thick (truthfully, who can measure that thin?)  Use a 5 inch round cookie cutter (or the lid to my blender was 5”) to cut out as many rounds as you can.  Repeat with the remaining dough round,, gather the dough scrap and reroll as necessary to get 8 rounds.

Here's a decision: do you make pure, raspberry-only pies?  Or do you add a little twist via a teaspoon of cream cheese + raspberry filling?  Our taste test team liked both!  You can either put 1-2 tablespoons of raspberry filling in each dough round OR put about a teaspoon of cream cheese + 1 tablespoon of raspberry filling in each dough round.  Fold the dough over into a crescent and crimp the edge with a fork.  Repeat with remaining pie dough rounds.  Place on lined baking sheets.  Brush the filled pies with the egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and then cut small vents into the pies.  Bake pies for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Raspberry Turnover

In a moment of weakness (and hunger), I succumbed to the temptation at the checkout stand: a Mrs. Baird’s cherry pie.  I ate it on the car ride home and stealthily disposed of the wrapper.  All the while I could imagine David’s lecture (and until now, he doesn’t know about my secret, but he will when he gets around to reading this post.  Let’s see how long it takes.)  I started researching pie recipes that didn’t include using pie filling from a can.  We worked our way through various recipes including cherry and blackberry.  Raspberry was the clear winner, although I will continue the research because I think a few tweaks will create some tasty alternative fillings.

So the next time you are at the store (stocking up on toilet paper and wondering if the supply of Wet Ones has been replenished), purchase these items and keep them in your freezer.  You might need an activity one day if you are quarantined.


  • 1 box of frozen puff pastry 
  • 2 cups of raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg, beaten, or 2 teaspoons milk
  • Sugar for sprinkling (regular or coarse)

Thaw the puff pastry.  Combine the raspberries, sugar, the dissolved cornstarch, and vanilla.  In a small pot, heat over medium heat until the berries begin to breakdown.  The sauce will thicken after about 4-6 minutes over the heat.  When thick, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Unroll the pastry sheet, roll it out a bit, and cut into 9 squares (like a tic tac toe board) (or if you want larger turnovers, cut into 4 squares).  Place 1-1 ½ tablespoons of filling (if you are making the smaller turnovers; 2-3 tablespoons for the larger size) in the middle of the square.  Fold the puff pastry over to create a triangle and then seal the edges with a fork.  Brush the tops with an egg + water wash (or you can use a milk wash) and sprinkle with sugar.  Cut a few slits in the top of each turnover.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Cool on a rack.  Pat yourself on the back and refer to yourself as Mrs. Baird Jr.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Black Forest Cake - Swiss Pastry Shop Style

I like to win.  I am a competitive person.  I am probably even more competitive than you (see what I just did there?)  At a basketball game recently, Andrew was in the middle of shooting a free throw and someone yelled “your shoe is untied.”  I looked around to see if Spike Lee or Drake, well-known sideline hecklers for the NBA, were attending, but no, it was just a dad of a player from the other team.  So that makes me mad and David has to remind me to keep my retaliation commentaries in check.  Is this a healthy, necessary level of competitiveness for an 8th grade basketball game?  Is this what we need to be competitive about?  It is highly unlikely that my kid is going into the NBA and I am ok with that.  My self worth isn’t diminished by that fact.  Let’s push our kids to find the cure for cancer or teenage anxiety and depression or hunger or inequality.  Or heck, let’s just push our kids to be decent human beings who balance their own drive to be the best with the wisdom of building up a team around them.  "Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships." --Michael Jordan

My brother and I are competitive with each other.  You know, who is mom and dad’s favorite?  This is one of his favorite cakes – it’s the “uncake” with no flour and it’s oh-so-good.  Is this cake my attempt to get in his good graces as the favorite child?  Or is it a consolation prize?  You decide.



  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whipped Cream

  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate bar, grated
  • 1.75oz (or similar) container of chocolate sprinkles 

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using an 8-inch cake pan and a pencil, outline the cake pan to form circles on each piece of paper. Turn the paper face-down on the baking sheets.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a large pinch of salt on medium speed until frothy. Add 1 cup of the sugar and raise the speed to high until the egg whites form very stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla. Carefully fold the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar into the meringue. Transfer the meringue into a gallon sized plastic bag (insert the bag into a sturdy container, like a quart size measuring cup and fold the edges of the plastic bag over the container.  After you fill and seal the plastic bag, snip off a corner so you can pipe the meringue.  Pipe a disc of meringue inside each circle.

Bake the 3 meringue layers at 200 degrees for 2 hours until meringues, or until they are dry and crisp but not brown. Turn off the heat and leave meringues in the oven for 4 hours or overnight. 

To make the whipped cream “icing”, beat 3 cups of whipping cream with 6 tablespoons confectioner's sugar.  As it thickens, add in 1/3 cup of sugar.

When the meringue is cooled, peel it off the parchment paper.  Carefully spread some of the whipped cream on top of the first meringue layer and then sprinkle with grated chocolate.  Repeat 2 more layers.  Spread whipped cream on the top and on the sides.  Sprinkle the top with the grated chocolate bar and pour the chocolate sprinkles on the sides.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Ultimate Oatmeal Cookie

Make your own mark.  What a wonderful world it would be if everyone focused on making their own mark rather than acting cool because your mom/dad is successful or living vicariously through your child’s accomplishments in sports, the classroom or whatever stage it might be (and let me be clear, I am not saying that every kid with a successful parent or every parent with a prodigy child falls into this category!).  Drew Brees’ wife, Brittany, said in an ESPN interview that there is one thing that decides whether a person is truly famous or not: “only if you make this world a better place.”   Take a moment to reflect – what did you do today to make the world a better place?  What kind of mark are you making?

It's cookie season.  If you don’t have a cute little cousin selling Girl Scout cookies, call me or make your own.  Betty Crocker made her mark with quality, basic recipes.  Elizabeth made these with her friend, Zoe, and raved about how great they are (and people, Elizabeth doesn’t even like oatmeal!)


  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening (or substitute another ½ cup, aka 1 stick, butter)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (or 1 cup raisins), optional
Preheat oven to 375.

Mix all ingredients except oats, flour and chocolate chips in a large bowl.  Then stir in the oats, flour and chocolate chips.  

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.  Bake 9-11 minutes or until light brown.  Remove parchment paper with cookies still on top and place on baking rack to cool.  Once cool, remove cookies from parchment paper.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Double Chocolate Pancakes

It should have been a glorious occasion – having your braces removed after 2+ years.  Instead, he walks out with a frown.  “What’s the matter?” my wide eyes say.  “Let me see,” I cheerily encourage. And he opens his mouth (with perfectly straight, white teeth – I had forgotten what they looked like) and declares “I have a retainer.”  Yep, that’s kind of typical – darn that orthodontist for protecting our investment of time and money. Then he continues “there is a wire – on the front of my teeth.”  Apparently “no one” has this.  He is the only person without either a clear retainer or one that is permanently affixed on the back side of your teeth (so you can’t see it).  The countdown has begun for when he can stop wearing the retainers (which are ruining his life, mind you) full time.  87 days, in case you were wondering.

For the new year, I decided to subscribe to New York Times Cooking.  For about a year now, they would send me an email with all of these tempting recipes and unless you are a subscriber, you can’t access them.  Psych!  This recipe caught my eye, of course: 1) Bobby Flay, 2) chocolate.  As we were eating them (and receiving rave reviews from Elizabeth and David, my toughest critics), we were discussing whether you would serve this for breakfast or as a dessert.  We decided: both! (and kept eating).  

For traditional and homemade pancakes, check out these recipes.


  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (I opted out of this ingredient)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (I used Kosher)
  • 3 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (or mini semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  • Salted Caramel Sauce, warm, recipe follows
  • Confectioner's sugar, optional
  • Raspberries, optional

Salted Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or other coarse sea salt

Whisk together the eggs, both kinds of sugar, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the egg mixture and whisk until just combined. Fold in the chocolate, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes. 

If you want to make the entire batch of pancakes and serve all at once, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.  

Heat nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Brush with butter and continue heating until the butter begins to foam. Drop about a 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan. Bake until bubbles start to form and burst, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook to set the other side, another 1 to 2 minutes. As the pancakes are ready, put them in a single layer on the baking sheet and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.  

Stack the pancakes on plates, drizzle with the warm caramel sauce, and top with a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar and some raspberries, if desired.

Salted Caramel Sauce:
Combine the sugar and 1/4 cup cold water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cook, without stirring or touching, until the sugar turns a deep amber color, 8 to 10 minutes (watch it carefully – it turns golden and then burns very quickly).  

Meanwhile, warm the cream in a small saucepan or in the microwave.  When the caramel is ready, slowly whisk in the cream and continue simmering until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and salt until combined.  Serve warm.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Captain Rodney's Cheese Bake

Time to break that new year’s resolution around eating healthy – all for the sake of football!  There are some big games coming up.  What are you going to serve?  A hot, gooey cheese dip – your family and guests can’t go hungry – all for the sake of football!

Amy and Frank introduced us to this addictive dip.  A couple of notes – if you don’t have a Sample House nearby with the Captain Rodney’s Boucan Glaze or you don’t want to order 2 bottles from Amazon or we don’t live close and/or you feel strange asking for a half cup of mine, do not fret – rename the dip “Charleston Cheese Dip” and you’ll be fine because it’s essentially the same thing.

May your team win!!  


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 6 butter crackers, like Ritz, crushed
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup Captain Rodney’s Boucan Glaze 
  • Chips, crackers, or pita chips to dip – my pref: Frito Scoops

Mix first 4 ingredients, then spread into a square casserole dish.  Sprinkle crackers on top.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle bacon on top and drizzle with Boucan glaze.  Serve with your favorite chips, crackers, pita chips, etc.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Lemon Chess Pie

Happy New Year!  Have you made your resolution(s) yet?  During a dinner conversation a few nights ago, Todd commented “we have all been humbled.”  How honest and true – whether it is personally or professionally or a little bit of both, we have all been humbled in life – so the question is, how do you handle the not-Facebook or Instagram-worthy posts?  How do you respond?  What do you resolve to do differently?  In the new year, I hope to be more action and less talk to make myself, my family, my friends, my community, my country, and my world a little bit better.

Thank you, Mimi, for another great recipe.  If I hear Andrew tell me one more time just how good this pie is… and thus a blog worthy recipe is shared.

Happy birthday, Jen!!


  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup minus 3 tablespoons milk, warm
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 pie shell, unbaked
Cream 6 tablespoons of butter, ¼ tsp salt, 2 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon flour until smooth.  Add 4 eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each. Add 2/3 cups minus 3 tablespoons warm milk and 4 tablespoons lemon juice. Mix well.

Pour into unbaked 9-10 inch pie shell  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Decrease oven temp to 300 degrees and bake for another 45-50 minutes.