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Tuesday, July 30, 2013


A friend had Lasik surgery, which she was thrilled with, and I was thrilled to help out in some small way, and take her and her family dinner - even though it gave her respite from cooking for only one night.
I settled on a Mexican theme, and hoped it was a fiesta feast they would enjoy!


1 garlic clove, minced
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup tahini
juice and grated peel of 2 lemons
1 packet (1.25 ounces) taco seasoning mix, divided
1 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles
6 flour soft tortillas or corn chips, for serving

Pulse garlic, beans, tahini, lemon juice, lemon peel, and all except 1 tablespoon of seasoning mix. Pulse several times until well combined. Pour into a bowl, fold in chiles.
Heat oven to 350F. Cut tortillas into 6 to 8 wedges, spread evenly on cookie sheet, spray with cooking spray, sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon seasoning mix.
Bake 4 minutes. Remove from oven, turn wedges over and bake 4 minutes more or until toasted and crispy. Serve with hummus.

Recipe adapted from Homemade Mexican Favorites, 2012


2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 cups beef broth
1 onion
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 green bell pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon pepper
flour tortillas, warmed
toppings: sour cream, shredded cheese

Sprinkle beef evenly with salt.
Cook beef, in batches, in hot oil in a skillet over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes or until browned on all sides. Place beef in slow cooker, add chili powder, tomato paste, beef broth, onion, tomato sauce, green bell pepper, ground cumin, and pepper. Stir to combine, cook on high 4 hours or low for 6 hours, or until beef is tender.
Serve with tortillas and desired toppings.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living


1 package yellow rice mix
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can mexican style stewed tomatoes
1 can chopped green chiles
1 cup shredded cheese

Prepare rice mix according to package directions. Heat beans, tomatoes, and chiles in a large skillet over medium heat. Add rice and cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living 


1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (10 ounce) package finely shredded cabbage
1/2 pound jicama, shredded
1 carrot, shredded
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Whisk together olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper, in a large bowl. Add shredded cabbage, jicama, carrot, jalapeño pepper and cilantro, and toss to coat.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living


4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cream
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Heat oven to 325F. Line an 8 inch pan with foil, extending foil over sides. Stir semi-sweet chocolate and butter in large saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Cool 5 minutes. Whisk in sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla. Continue to whisk until batter is smooth, about 2 minutes. Add flour and whisk just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing surface. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack.
Whisk sugar, cream and butter in small saucepan over low heat until mixture is smooth and comes to a boil. Remove from heat, mix in vanilla. Cool 10 minutes. Whisk until thick enough to spread. Spread over brownie. Sprinkle with almonds. Let stand until topping sets, about 1 hour.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, August 1996

Monday, July 29, 2013


Summer pork Fest - tenderloin, shoulder and ground!! After all, we are in Razorback country!!


1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, divided use
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, peeled minced
3/4 pound pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/4 cups chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup blackberry mustard (recipe follows)
3/4 cup fresh blackberries

Combine 1/2 teaspoon of the thyme, the black pepper, salt, allspice, cinnamon and garlic in a bowl, mix well.
Trim fat from pork, rub pork with thyme mixture. Place pork in a shallow dish, cover and chill 2 hours.
Coat a large skillet with cooking spray, add olive oil and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add pork, cook 4 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add 1/4 cup of the chicken broth and vinegar to skillet, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes, or until meat thermometer registers 160 degrees.
Remove pork from skillet, set aside and keep warm.
Add remaining cup of chicken broth and brown sugar to skillet, bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes or until broth mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup. 
Place cornstarch in a small saucepan, gradually add water, blending with a wire whisk. Stir in broth mixture and 1/4 cup blackberry mustard, bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove sauce from heat, stir in remaining teaspoon of thyme.
Serve tenderloin with sauce and garnish with fresh berries.

1/2 cup fresh blackberries, smashed
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
pinch of sugar

Process blackberries, mustard and sugar in a food processor until well blended.

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, August 2004


15 ounce package refrigerated pie crusts
3 slices of bacon, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 pound ground pork
2 apples, peeled, cored and finely diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Remove the crusts from the box and let sit at room temperature.
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and saute until tender and golden about 10 minutes.
Add the ground pork. As it cooks, break it up with a wooden spoon, cooking until no traces of pink remain, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the apples, thyme, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove from heat and cool.
Heat the oven to 400F.
Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate with one of the crusts. Add the cooked pork and apple filling, spreading it in an even layer.
Place the remaining crust on top, then pinch and crimp the edges together.Make several small slits on the top crust for venting.
Bake the pie for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling.
Recipe adapted from The Morning News, November 2008


1 garlic head, separated into cloves and peeled
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
3/4 cup loosely packed fresh oregano leaves
1/4  cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) bone in pork shoulder

Place garlic, salt, peppercorns and oregano in the bowl of a food processor. Process until garlic is chopped. Add olive oil and vinegar and process to form a thick paste. Place pork in a large roasting pan, fat side up and score the top with a sharp knife. Rub garlic mixture over meat, refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
Heat oven to 350F.
Place the pork in the oven and roast about 3 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 160F. Let the pork cool slightly and then slice.

Recipe adapted from Relish Magazine


1 pork loin, cut into small cubes
4 yellow onions
2 (10 ounce) cans petite chopped tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 (10 ounce) can rotel tomatoes
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
3 or 4 (4 ounce) cans of chopped green chilies
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon oregano
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Salt and pepper pork cubes, roll in flour, brown in oil. When browned, add to a stock pot. Saute onions until tender, add chopped garlic, cook two minutes more, stirring often. Add onions, garlic and remaining ingredients to pot.
Simmer 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Adding water and more seasoning as required.

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, October 2006

Sunday, July 28, 2013


We always serve a simple but delicious dessert at the lake, following our simple, and hopefully delicious dinner. I usually choose a recipe that can be made in advance, and it would seem so far this summer it has been pie, and every one featuring chocolate. My work is done beforehand, and I can visit with friends and relax while at the cabin. Then, after a day of fun all that needs to be done is to cut, garnish, and hand around plates full of wonderful sweetness.


7 ounces chocolate wafer cookies (about 32) coarsely broken
1/2 cup chocolate chips
6 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup sugar
1 (14 ounce) can of condensed milk
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
2 1/2 cups fresh raspberries

Place broken cookies in processor, process until finely ground.
Place chocolate chips, butter and sugar in microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high at 15 second intervals until melted, stirring occasionally.
Add chocolate mixture to processor and blend until combined. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides of 9 inch glass pie dish. Chill crust while preparing filling.
Whisk condensed milk, creme fraiche, lemon juice, and lemon peel in large bowl to blend. Add half of raspberries. Stir, pressing gently on some raspberries, until raspberries begin to break apart and filling turns pink.
Transfer filling to crust. Chill until filling is set, about 2 hours.
Scatter remaining raspberries over pie. Cut into wedges and serve.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2009‎


2 eggs
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons cocoa
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 baked pie crust
whipped cream or whipped topping

Whisk eggs in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa, and salt. Add to the eggs, mixing well. Gradually add the milk until blended.
Pour into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until mixture thickens, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Mix well.
Pour into baked crust, and cook in refrigerator two hours or overnight. Spread whipped cream on top.

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, June 2003‎


1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Heat oven to 325F.
Beat eggs in an electric stand mixer on high speed, until foamy. Beat in flour, sugar and brown sugar. Beat in butter. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon into pie shell.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until pie is set.
Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


We invited friends out to the lake cabin, and with the intention of keeping it simple, decided to serve burgers and hot dogs. I thought it would be fun to try something a little different and found these wonderful burger recipes.
I made the patties in advance at home, then following an afternoon of boating and swimming, we grilled the burgers and enjoyed them out on the deck.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced into half moons
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
hamburger buns
lettuce, tomatoes and ketchup to serve

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring, until it is softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Cover and cook, until onion is golden brown, about 20 minutes more.
Shape the beef into 12 small patties, each about 4 inches in diameter. Spread 1 teaspoon of the horseradish onto one of the patties, top that with 2 tablespoons of cheddar cheese and 1 tablespoon of the caramelized onions. Top with another meat patty and pinch the edges of the patties to seal the burger. Repeat with the remaining patties. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat grill to medium high. Cook the burgers until the cheese is melted inside, about 4 minutes for medium doneness.
Serve on buns with lettuce, tomato and ketchup as desired.

Recipe adapted from USA Weekend, May 2012‎


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 egg, beaten
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
flour for dusting

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cook over medium heat until tender but not colored. Add garlic, cumin and cayenne and cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
Put pinto beans and chickpeas into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add onion mixture, tahini and parsley, and pulse again until combine and nearly smooth. Spoon into a large bowl and add egg and cheeses.
Mix with your hands and add salt and pepper. Shape into patties and lightly dust with flour.
Heat remaining oil in a large skillet. Place burgers in pan and cook until golden on both sides.

Recipe adapted from Relish Magazine, January 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013


With the weekend languidly stretching ahead, brunch seems like a wonderful way to spend a leisurely morning and a delicious way to enjoy some of the fresh produce of the season, and a little chocolate.


3 eggs
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup milk or half and half
8 slices french bread
2 cups of fresh strawberries, hulls removed
yogurt, sour cream or whipped cream to serve

In a shallow dish, beat eggs with sugar, cinnamon and milk. Dip bread slices in batter, coating well on both sides.
Lightly coat a large frying pan with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add bread slices and cook until brown, turn and brown remaining side.
For each serving, arrange 2 pieces of French toast on a warm plate so that they slightly overlap. Arrange strawberries over toast and serve with yogurt, sour cream or whipped cream.

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, May 2004


1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons water
1 (29 ounce) can of sliced peaches, drained (you can substitute fresh ripe peaches)
12 slices of day-old french bread
4 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
ground cinnamon to taste

In a saucepan, stir together the brown sugar, butter and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Pour the brown sugar mixture into a 7 by 11 baking dish, and tilt the dish to cover the entire bottom. Place peaches in a layer over the sugar coating, then top with slices of French bread. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla. Slowly pour over the bread slices to coat evenly. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Remove the dish from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking, to come to room temperature. Heat the oven to 350F.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and the egg mixture is set.

Recipe adapted from All Recipes‎


1 loaf of day old French bread
1 cup chocolate chips
5 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Spray a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Cut the  French bread into 6 slices, each 1 1/2 inches thick. Using a small, sharp knife, cut 2 inch long slits in one side of each bread slice, cutting 3/4 of the way through the bread, to create a pocket. Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of chocolate chips into the pocket of each bread slice, press to close. Place filled slices into prepared baking pan. Whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread, carefully turn pieces over, spooning mixture in pan over top of bread.
Cover pan and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Heat oven to 400F. Bake, uncovered, 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, January 2002

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I revel in travel and one of the things I always look forward to on a long journey is having the time to read a great book. I lugged three with me on a recent trip, sadly, none of which were very captivating.
However, I did appreciate "One Good Deed", by Erin McHugh. It was a book that provided much material for contemplation, and I concluded, if we were all a little more conscious of what was going on in the moment, immediately around us, we can make a big difference with small gestures. Even my 8 year old daughter and 65 year old mother enjoyed reading it whenever I put it down.
When there is a recipe featured in a book, I am always intrigued and usually want to try it, I love the stories surrounding food. This Wine cake was baked every year for the authors birthday, originally by her mother, and now by her cousin. I could not wait to try something that celebrated, and it was truly wonderful, and worthy of the tradition.
While looking through recipes after we had returned home, I noticed the similarities between these two cake recipes, and after the deliciousness of the Wine cake, I couldn't resist also trying the Vodka cake.


1 package yellow cake mix
1 small package vanilla instant pudding
4 eggs
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup wine
1/4 cup hot water
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Heat oven to 350F. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with electric mixer on medium for about two minutes. Pour into bundt pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

Recipe adapted from One Good Deed, 2012
Erin McHugh


1 box yellow cake mix
1 large box of cook and serve chocolate pudding mix
4 eggs, room temperature, beaten
1 cup oil
1/2 cup kahlua
1/2 cup vodka
your favorite chocolate icing

Heat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
Combine in the bowl of an electric mixer, the cake mix, chocolate pudding mix, eggs, oil, kahlua and vodka. Mix until combined.
Pour into cake pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Let the cake sit in the pan for a minute or two, then flip it onto a serving plate. While still piping hot, spread the icing on the cake. It will melt into the cake.

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, May 2007

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Summer vacation is starting to wind down, and I'm left wondering where all the long, lazy days have disappeared to. I seem to have been rushing around just as much as ever.
However, when I have had the opportunity to slow down enough to relax and recharge it has been wonderful, and very much appreciated.
I had a group of girlfriends over for a light lunch, and it was glorious to sit out on the deck, sipping a cool beverage, dining on our elegant salad and just loving the company and the day.


3/4 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
1 1/4 teaspoon of lemon zest, grated
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 salmon fillet per person
olive oil or cooking spray
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups salad greens
3/4 cup basil leaves
1 ripe mango, cubed and peeled

Place dressing ingredients in a blender and process until almost smooth. Set aside.
Drizzle olive oil into a large pan, set over medium heat. Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper, and pan fry, 5 minutes on each side or until salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Place the greens and basil on individual plates. Drizzle with the dressing to taste, and divide salmon among the plates. Top with extra dressing if desired and the cubed mango.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


I love spending time out on the farm where my daughter takes horse riding lessons, beautiful and picturesque, it takes me back a little to childhood. My Uncle trained horses, and my brothers, cousins and I would spend a lot of time on his farm, and were even allowed to ride some of the older, quieter animals - although I never rode with as much grace and discipline as my daughter and her fellow class mates do, I always adored it.
A week of summer camp out on the farm concluded with a potluck, my daughter wanted me to bake carrot cupcakes, and I thought a little chocolate would round out the dessert offerings. Although I can barely sit on a horse, I do adore navigating a recipe.


1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups golden brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350F. Butter and flour an 8 by 8 inch baking pan.
Whisk flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl to blend. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a saucepan, over low heat. Remove from heat, add sugar and whisk until smooth. Cool mixture two minutes, whisk in eggs and vanilla. Using a spatula, stir in flour mixture then peanuts and chocolate chips. Spread batter in prepared pan, sprinkle with extra peanuts and chocolate chips.
Bake blondies until golden, tester inserted into center comes out clean, and edges just begin to pull away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes, cool completely in pan on rack.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2009‎


1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350F, and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the oil. Gradually beat in the sugar at medium-high speed and beat until thick, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Fold in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula, then fold in the carrots.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a tip with the cream cheese frosting. Pipe the frosting onto the carrot cupcakes and serve.


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar

In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the vanilla and confectioners sugar, then beat at high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, January 2011‎

Monday, July 22, 2013


I was delighted to share some of the fabulous new things in the area with Mum, who was visiting from New Zealand.
There is a movie lounge in Fort Smith, I have been to a couple of times, and I love that you can eat great food and have a glass of wine or cocktail in the theater while watching the movie.
We thought it would be fun for the kids to experience too - however I had read the show times wrong, and what we thought would be a kids movie, turned out to be Shakespeare. The kids complained about too much kissing on the screen, and I was grateful the drinks and food arrived quickly, a welcome distraction for them.
I had put the chicken in to marinate that morning, so we just had to cook it when we got home after our road trip, movie, lunch and tour of a national historic site. We had a wonderful afternoon, both the movie and the Guide in Judge Parkers coutroom were entertaining and enjoyable, and made the past come alive.
Thankfully the chicken kebabs were child appropriate - some compensation for the movie and all they heard about the lawlessness of the long ago Indian territory.


2 tablespoons honey
2 onions, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons salt
1 inch of ginger, peeled and sliced
6 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 pound boneless chicken, cut into 1 inch cubes
basil leaves for serving

Blend honey, onions, salt and spices into a sauce. Let chicken marinate for at least 2 hours. Heat grill, thread chicken onto skewers. Place chicken on grill and cook, turning skewers, until the chicken is cooked through.
Place on platter and sprinkle with basil leaves.

Recipe adapted from The Wall Street Journal, June 2012‎

Saturday, July 20, 2013


A friend once told me a Southern Lady never returns a dish empty, a rule to which I happily comply.
Our sweet neighbor had brought brownies to a recent gathering at our house, so once her dish was washed, dried and ready to take back, I had to make sure there was something yummy to go on it.
I baked these tiny treats, but was frustrated when it came time to make the frosting - I just couldn't get the cream to whip. After throwing out one batch and trying again - I realized I was using the paddle attachment rather than the whisk!!
Once the light and fluffy frosting was whipped up, I was able to return the plate, in good conscience filled with splendidly topped coconut cupcakes.


1/4 cup flaked coconut
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup reduced-fat coconut milk
3/4 cup dried coconut
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat oven to 350F. Fill a mini muffin pan with mini cupcake liners and set aside.
Line a baking sheet with foil, top with flaked coconut. Toast for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, or using a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined, then mix in vanilla extract. Add half the dry ingredients, mix, then add half the coconut milk. Repeat with remaining amounts and beat on high for 1 minute. Fold in dried coconut.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 3/4 of the way. Bake for 20 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in a pan, then turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Next, make the frosting. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Gradually mix in heavy cream. Beat on high until cream holds stiff peaks.
Decorate top of cupcakes with frosting and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Recipe adapted from Shape Magazine, May 2013‎

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Simple, tasty and satisfying - summer cooking at its finest. 
Although I could happily snack on either of these carrot dishes, my family requires a little more. I
paired the Spiced Carrots with lamb meatballs, couscous and a simple salad, and the Moroccan Carrot Salad with simply prepared, lightly seasoned sea bream.


2 tablespoons butter
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 small package of baby carrots
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/3 cup slivered almonds toasted

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cinnamon stick, the ground cumin seed and ground coriander, stir to combine and cook for 10 to 20 seconds.
Add the carrots and cook for about 5 minutes, until they begin to brown.
Reduce heat to medium, then add the raisins, honey, salt, orange juice and zest. Stir to incorporate and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the carrots are crisp-tender, the raisins have plumped and the spiced sauce is bubbling.
Discard the cinnamon stick. Add the toasted almonds, toss to incorporate and serve hot.

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, October 2010‎


1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 pound of carrots, grated
4 cups mixed baby greens

Whisk the cumin, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, cayenne pepper and allspice in a large bowl.
Whisk in oil, lemon juice, orange juice and mint. Add carrots and baby greens, toss to coat.
Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit‎

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


My husband and I had been invited to appear in a commercial at a local restaurant, and since we would be sampling lots of outstanding food, I made a Mexican fiesta for the kids to enjoy at home - cheese quesadillas, enchiladas and refried beans.
However, my husband called to say the shoot had been postponed due to the awful weather, we were expecting thunderstorms and tornadoes in our area. I had been to the grocery store earlier in the day, and had the ingredients to make this tasty pork tenderloin. The meal came together very quickly, and paired with a salad and outdoor dining, it was close to outstanding.
The kids swam in the pool after dinner, and 45 minutes later we were sequestered in the basement with our guinea pig, parakeets, dog, pet rats, blankets and pillows, snacks and board games, bicycle helmets and shoes. Almost as exciting as being in a commercial.


1 pound pork tenderloin
4 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
4 tablespoons brown sugar

Remove visible fat from the pork, slice.
Mix cumin, coriander, cayenne and brown sugar in a bowl. Sprinkle pork with salt, then coat pieces in the spice mixture.
Place pork in a hot pan coated with cooking spray, and cook pork until done, about 7 to 10 minutes on each side.


1/3 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 1/2 cups frozen baby lima beans
3 tablespoons jalapeno pepper jelly
3 green onions, thinly sliced

Warm stock and oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Add corn and beans and cook 5 to 10 minutes, or until beans are tender. Reduce heat to medium-high, add jelly, stirring until it melts and coats vegetables. Add green onions and salt to taste.

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, July 2012‎

Monday, July 15, 2013


Friends invited us out to their dock on the lake, for a fabulous fish fry. I was so very excited - fish caught that very morning, prepared that afternoon, right beside the water that produced them - heavenly.
Served with the perfect accompanying sides and a good measure of companionable conversation, it could not have been a better time.
I offered to bring dessert, and thought these lovely tangy bars would round out the menu nicely - even though we were beyond satiated, we managed to fit in a bite and enjoyed a sweet ending to a sweet afternoon.


2 cups gingersnap crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Heat oven to 350F.
Combine all ingredients into a 9 by 13 baking dish lined with foil that extends 2 inches beyond the short end of the pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, remove from oven, then reduce oven temperature to 325F.

1 egg
4 egg yolks
2 (15 ounce) cans of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of freshly squeezed key lime juice
1 teaspoon of freshly grated lime zest
pinch of salt

Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Pour the filling over the prepared crust. Bake until the filling is almost set, about 20 to 22 minutes. Cool the bars completely in the pan set on a wire rack. Refrigerate the bars for at least 2 hours, until chilled.

1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 ounces of white chocolate, chopped

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a gentle boil. Add the chopped chocolate and let stand for 30 seconds to melt the chocolate. Whisk the mixture until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Set the topping aside to cool to room temperature for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cool. Poor the cooled white chocolate topping over the chilled bars and spread into an even layer. Chill until topping is cold.
Garnish with toasted macadamia nuts and cut into bars.

Recipe adapted from the Food Network

Sunday, July 7, 2013


A dear friend had a yoga themed birthday party - a great yoga class out on the back deck with wonderful people, followed by lovely libations and fabulous food. A truly beautiful, heart opening day, for a beautiful lady.
I wanted to make something that was fun, elegant, flavorful and mostly healthy - to fit the theme of the day.


1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons minced chives, divided
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
3/4 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
16 1/4 inch thick baguette slices, lightly toasted
10 radishes, thinly sliced
sea salt to finish

Mix butter, 2 tablespoons chives, sesame seeds, ginger, and oil in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper. Spread butter mixture over each bread slice. Top with radishes, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with remaining chives and sea salt, if desired.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2008‎


20 cherry tomatoes
4 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
5 ounces of goat cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of chopped tarragon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cut off a very thin slice from the base of each tomato, so they will stay upright. Cut a thin slice off the top of each tomato and scoop out the pulp, leaving interior walls intact.
Place tomatoes on a tray lined with paper towels, hollow side down to drain residual liquid.
Place cream cheese, goat cheese, lemon juice and tarragon with salt and pepper into a bowl and mix together.
Spoon cream cheese mixture into a piping bag fitted with a small nozzle. Place tomatoes on their bases and pipe mixture into each tomato case. Refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight.

Recipe adapted from YW, March 2013

Saturday, July 6, 2013


This was one of those dishes that everyone loved so much, there was no time and nothing left for me to take a photo of. I had to make the ribs a couple of times before I was able to capture them, but there were definitely no complaints.
We tend to like our ribs dry in this family, so I didn't add the barbeque sauce when it was recommended in the recipe, but rather placed the bottle on the table for those who might like it a little saucy. However, the ribs were gone before the lid could be removed from the bottle - again, no complaints.


1 slab of pork ribs
1 can or bottle of your favorite beer
1 bottle of honey barbeque sauce
4 stalks of celery
1 onion
salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic

Heat oven to 400F.
Line a large pan with heavy duty foil, place cut celery, sliced onions, and garlic in pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over both sides of the ribs. Place the ribs in pan, bone side down. Pour the beer in the corner of the pan so you don't wash off the seasoning on the meat. Cover the pan with heavy duty aluminum foil very tight.
Place pan in oven, immediately turn oven down to 325 degrees for one hour, then 275 degrees for another hour.
Remove pan from the oven, remove the foil cover and let cool for one hour. Pour off all other liquid and ingredients, slather barbeque sauce on both sides of cooled ribs and return to 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, until browned and crisp.

Recipe adapted from Karen Willems, Realtor, 479-790-5996

Friday, July 5, 2013


Some people continually amaze and astonish me - in the best kind of way.
A lovely friend spontaneously stopped by the other day, to see if she could take my Mum, who is visiting from New Zealand, out for lunch. Not only is she one of the most thoughtful, kind and gracious people I know, but also consistently delightful to be around, with her enthusiasm for people and for life in general. I am also filled with admiration at her preserve making, bee keeping, hostessing and hiking skills - and I have a feeling there is still a lot I haven't yet discovered.
I was thrilled to offer her a cup of tea after lunch and to visit and gather ideas for our upcoming trip to Portugal, since she and her husband had visited there, and was so glad I had baked earlier in the day, so I could also offer this delicious Spiced Peach and Carrot Bread. It was almost as interesting, varied and surprising as my wonderful friend, and I enjoyed it every bit as much as I enjoy her company.


3/4 cup chopped pecans
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 to 2 cups of chopped fresh, ripe peaches (mine had been frozen, thawed and cooked)
1 1/2 cups of freshly grated carrots
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Heat oven to 350F.
Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan for 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring half way through. Cool 15 minutes (if you have time).
Stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add peaches, grated carrots, vegetable oil, milk and eggs. Add toasted pecans, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Spoon batter into a greased 9 by 5 inch loaf pan (I divided it in two, and it seemed there was plenty).
Bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool in a pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, July 2011‎