January 31, 2013

Strawberries and Cream...Soothing Shades of Pink

I have been a "pink girl" from the start! The bedroom I shared with  my sister growing up was pink....a very light and delicate shade of  carnation pink. We had twin beds with the most charming floral spreads which were perfect for two little girls sharing their bedroom space. Even my hairbrush was pink. I am not sure why I remember that little bit of trivia, but for some reason, I do. Do you ever associate events in your life's path with a color? My prom dress was pink and I still have the princess room. Oh that reminds you name the rooms in your house? It may seem a strange thing, but I seem to have done that. Everyone I know,  both friends and family, refer to that particular bedroom as the princess room.....that makes me smile..... the emotional qualities of the color pink, represent compassion, nurturing and love, as well as self worth, tenderness, caring, and acceptance. 
It's What I Choose To Be and What I Choose To Feel


If I had known you were coming,
I'da baked a cake, baked a cake, baked a cake for you!

12 T. unsalted butter,  room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream,  room temperature
1/2 t. grated lemon zest
1/2 t. grated orange zest
1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 t. kosher salt

For the filling for each cake:

1 cup  heavy cream, chilled
3 T. powdered sugar
1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter the bottom of two 8-inch cake pans. Then line them with parchment paper and butter and flour the lined pans.

Cream the butter and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, then the sour cream, zests, and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine just until smooth.
Pour the batter evenly into the pans, smooth the tops, and bake in the center of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then remove to wire racks and let cool to room temperature. If using 1 cake, wrap the second well and freeze.

To make the filling for one cake, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until firm. Slice one of the cakes in half with a long, sharp knife. Place the bottom slice of the cake on a serving platter, spread with 1/2 the whipped cream and scatter with sliced strawberries. Cover with the top slice of the cake and spread with the remaining cream. Decorate with strawberries.

January 30, 2013


Company's Coming!

When friends and family come to dinner, you can always serve a dessert which will be comforting, and not too filling. Most everyone loves the flavor of lemon! I always like to dress up a pound cake with a flavored sauce, fresh berries and sweetened whipped cream. Now, "That's Entertainment!"

1 cup butter
3 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. soda
3 cups flour, sifted, minus 6 T.
6 T. cornstarch
2 T. lemon extract
6 eggs, separated

Cream the butter and sugar; add egg yolks and lemon extract. Put cornstarch together with the buttermilk. Add flour, soda and salt, which have been sifted together., alternately with the buttermilk/cornstarch mixture. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes @ 350 degrees F. in two greased loaf pans. Let cool prior to removing to a serving plate. Drizzle lemon sauce over the top when ready to serve! Delicious with fresh berries and whipped cream!

1/2 Cup sugar
1 T. cornstarch
1/8 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup boiling water
1 T. butter
 1 t. lemon zest
Juice of fresh lemon or 3 T. lemon juice

In a medium sized saucepan, stir together sugar, cornstarch, salt and nutmeg. Gradually stir in the boiling water. Simmer over low heat until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in butter, zest and lemon juice.  

January 29, 2013

Shades of Gray

We can never fail to be inspired by beautiful things. I have been thinking lately of changing up the master bedroom sometime this year....perhaps for my birthday. Change can be a good thing. Our bedroom should be our sanctuary.....a place to dream, to sleep, our place to shut out the world for a time. I have been loving the shade of gray, just touches of this, paired with lots of cream! I am trying it on for size and feel...what emotions does the color gray evoke for you? Seems rather soft and dreamy.......

 Today, as we begin yet another Monday, the skies mirror these colors of mother-of-pearl gray. Mae is gazing out the window, in an attempt to catch a glimpse of our new dove family! Yet, another shade of gray! Some may look at this color and have dreary and depressing thoughts. I look at these muted gray colors and think they are lovely and soothing. I think it's time to bake that Lemon Buttermilk pound cake....hmmm...lemon there's inspiration in every thought sometimes....

January 28, 2013

Lemon Muffins

"Nature has undoubtedly mastered the art of winter gardening
and even the most experienced gardener can learn from the
unrestrained beauty around them."

~ Vincent A. Simeone

Lemon Muffins
1 fresh lemon
1 cup, plus 1 T. sugar
2 cups flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Zest the lemon and chop the lemon zest. Slice the lemon in half, crosswise, and squeeze all the juice out, discarding the seeds. Mix lemon juice wth 1 T. of sugar. In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup of sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. In  a separate bowl, mix eggs, buttermilk. Stir in butter. Add to dry ingredients and stir just until well blended. The batter will be lumpy so be careful not to overmix. Prepare your muffin pan with cooking spray. Fill the muffin cups evenly and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Brush the tops with lemon juice mixture. Serve with real butter!

January 27, 2013

Call The Midwife....Bravo PBS!

I don't know if you were able to view Call the Midwife on PBS, but I am highly recommending this series! If you are an avid Downton Abbey fan, then I think you are going to LOVE this beautifully scripted and acted series. I cannot get enough of these well produced shows from the UK! Light the fire, pour a cup of tea, sit back and enjoy the will laugh, you will cry and you too will be shouting...BRAVO!!

Call the Midwife is a moving and intimate insight into the colorful world of midwifery and family life in 1950’s East London. We are introduced to the community through the eyes of young nurse Jenny Lee as she arrives at Nonnatus House to live and work as a midwife alongside an Order of Nuns. 

As Jenny comes to terms with her new life, we meet some phenomenal people who prove that their warmth, resilience and determination are to be admired beyond measure. At the heart of this world are the Sisters of St. Raymond Nonnatus who have been active in the East End as Anglican nursing nuns since the beginning of the 20th century.

The Sisters and the midwives of Nonnatus House carry out many nursing duties across the community. However, with between 80 and 100 babies being born each month in Poplar alone, their primary work is to help bring safe childbirth to women in the area and to look after their countless newborns family who has found her way into nursing and midwifery by a circuitous route.

My favorite characters.....

Eternally good-humored and monumentally kind, Chummy is crippled by lack of self-confidence. Her tall height and physical clumsiness plays its part, but a loveless childhood spent in boarding schools has made the greater impact. 
An adept midwife, she is hampered by acute shyness and - perhaps more crucially – a complete inability to ride a bike. Chummy soon wins the hearts of her colleagues, but her struggle for self-belief will threaten to capsize her. Chummy is played by Miranda Hart

Sister Julienne is the Sister-In-Charge at Nonnatus House. Deeply religious, she is also profoundly practical and confers dignity on her patients through her sensitive, non-judgmental approach.

She is often called upon to mediate between her fellow sisters when they quarrel - this is an almost exclusively female world, and her tact and gentleness are essential to its happiness. 

Sister Julienne is played by Jenny Agutter


January 26, 2013

Still Winter....Warm Me Up

The snow keeps falling and the cold winds continue to take our breath away...

What do you do on those long winter days when the skies are gray and dull? Do you surround yourself with warm and cozy linens? Wool plaid blankets are lovely draped over the back of a sofa or chair...just grab one, and wrap yourself in warmth! Now these can just lift your spirits can't they?

Oooohhh, scents of the winter season with deep jewel-tone colors.....exotic woodland, pine, orange clove and winter mint.....certain scents can certainly bring peace of mind and a soothing atmosphere to your home!

Are there winter days when you just choose to stay in your robe? Now a soft and luxurious cashmere robe would certainly  be put to good use, wouldn't it?


I could have used these in Maine....cold wooden floors were not kind to frozen toesies....Can't you just feel the warmth and comfort?

What would a cold winter's day be without a cup of gourmet
Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea?

Who says we can't be stylish by sporting a pair of long woolen socks?

Always bring out your best winter stew and soup recipes....
a pot of hot bubbly stew, simmering on the stove will enable you to know....
There's No Place Like Home

Be kind to your soul and also to your heart...stay warm my darlings!
Be sure to keep your pets warm and cozy during winter months!

January 25, 2013

East Italian Beef Pot Roast...Planning to Garden

It's time to dream about the garden and spring planting season. Toward the end of March, I will be able to begin to prepare the flowerbeds for some beautiful blooms. I think Impatients along with raised stone wall by the pool will be first on the list. Leave it to Pinterest to provide us all the inspiration we need in times of beginning a project or new design!

Be sure to try this Italian Pot Roast. It is divine and was from the Recipe of Hall of Fame in the state of Illinois! Easy, peasy in the crockpot!!

Now this stone patio was one of the most beautiful I have seen. I love the colors of lavender and white together and the manner in which the containers vary in height and color! Wouldn't this be the perfect spot for a morning coffee or evening glass of wine?

This deck seating area reminded me very much of the Atlanta house. I love the pots of greenery on each pillar along the deck railing. Just the addition of palms, ferns and everything green seems so calming and cool on a hot summer evening. The gold tablecloth adds the right punch of color for this beautiful deck!

Smells interesting....Yes Maypole....
we will be planting our beloved Morning Glory Vines!

Easy Italian Pot Roast
1 (3-4 lb) rump roast
1 jar pepperochini peppers (juice and all)
1 can beer
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can of beef bouillon
1-2 diced carrots
2 stalks celery
1 small diced yellow onion

Combine all ingredients in a large crock pot. Cook on high heat for 30 minutes, reduce heat to love. Cook until the roast is tender for 6-8 hours. Remove meat from juices, slice thinly and return to crock pot. Let the roast rest in the juices and the crock pot heat off. Ready to serve after about 15 minutes. Delicious served over hot buttered wide noodles, sprinkled with parsley!

January 20, 2013

Creamy Artichoke Gruyère Dip

Time to prepare our menu for Superbowl Sunday!

There are versions of this dip that don’t require the flour,
but they start to separate as they get cold.
 This dip holds together long after it cools down, making it ideal for a
 Superbowl party setting!

Creamy Artichoke Gruyère Dip
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
5 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy cream
2 (14-ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When it foams, add onion and garlic, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook until onion and garlic are beginning to turn brown in color, about 6 minutes. Stir in flour and cook stirring constantly until no longer raw tasting, about 1 minute.

Sprinkle in 3/4 cup of the Parmesan, pour in cream, and stir to incorporate. Add artichoke hearts, sour cream, and 1/2 cup of the Gruyère and stir until cheese begins to melt.

Transfer dip to an 8-by-8-inch baking dish and top with remaining Parmesan and Gruyère and the panko. Bake until heated through, bubbling on the edges, and the cheese is melted, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes. Serve with crackers or pita chips.


January 19, 2013

Heartwarming Chicken and Dumplings


A winning combination.....a cat and her bear

Real food...made with love and care.
It is restorative, as much for the delicious taste, as the real caring and kindness that goes behind it.

Heartwarming Chicken and Dumplings
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil
½ tsp black pepper
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
2 cups frozen peas and carrots

2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp butter (softened)
1 cup milk

In heavy bottomed Dutch oven or large wide pot, over medium heat, add chicken broth, water, butter and all seasonings. Cover and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, cut chicken breast into bite sized pieces. Add to soup mixture. Stir to combine and cover.

In a sealable container combine flour and milk. Seal tightly and shake vigorously to combine well. You will create a smooth flour mixture for thickening your sauce called a slurry. Slowly pour the slurry into broth, stirring constantly. Add frozen vegetables. Cover.

Combine dumpling ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well with a fork. Remove cover from stew and stir well. Drop dumplings into stew one tablespoon at a time, use a 1 tablespoon scoop to make it even easier. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Ready to serve!

January 18, 2013


I'm a "happy girl" when my Papa comes home!

For some reason, ever since I cleared away the Christmas decorations and put the serving basket back on the kitchen table, Miss Mae Mobley thinks SHE is the centerpiece. Excuse me Madame, but I had planned on putting a fresh green plant in the center of the table!!

I love it when Papa scratches my pretty little head!
 I think it means he misses me!
That sure does feel good.....

This is the perfect spot for my afternoon nap!

Good things go on in this Texas kitchen! The heavenly aroma that fills the house, will just make you salivate to try a taste of this exquisite cake. I love finding new recipes using cake mixes! It's just one of those enjoyable things in life, isn't it? Your family and guests are gonna be "dazzled" on this one!

1 (18-ounce) box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup sugar
2 (3 1/2 ounces) boxes of white chocolate instant pudding mix
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 plus 1/2 cup Chambord
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix cake mix, sugar, pudding mixes, oil, eggs, vodka and 1/4 cup Chambord (raspberry liqueur) and water in a mixer and beat at medium speed for 4 minutes. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray and pour the cake mixture into your bundt pan. Bake 50-60 minutes and cool for at least 15 minutes. Turn out onto plate and cool completely. Combine the remaining Chambord with powdered sugar and pour over the cake. Cover and refrigerate. Serve with fresh whipped cream and dust with a touch more powdered sugar! This cake is so elegant and delicious! Perfect for your next dinner party!

January 17, 2013


This is a Texas Snow Day!

Rather pitiful compared to a New England snowfall, but we'll take it. It was beautiful to watch while it gently fell and there was no more than a few inches.'s gone as quickly as it came. There is an old saying about Texas....."If you're bored with the weather, don't will change tomorrow!" We are glad to be home!!

Cold winter days just beg for hearty meals. Now Miss Bobbie, my mother-in-law made the best skillet spaghetti in all of the  Mississippi Delta. This recipe is a family favorite from years ago. If you are short on time for preparing dinner, this one pot pasta dish is certain to become one of your family's frequently requested recipes!

1 pound ground beef
3 cups water
1 pint tomato juice
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 T. dried minced onion
2 t. chili powder
1 t. cayenne pepper
1 t. coarse ground black pepper
1 t dried Italian seasoning
1 t. sugar
1 t. salt
1 t. garlic powder
1 package (7 ounces) uncooked spaghetti
Grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add the water, tomato juice, tomato paste and seasonings. Bring to a MEDIUM boil, then turn heat down to simmer. Add uncooked spaghetti.

Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the spaghetti is tender, stirring frequently. Sprinkle with cheese when serving.

January 16, 2013

Sour Cherry Vanilla Muffins...Simply Irresistable!

These are the Best-Ever Muffins!

Perfect muffins are light and tender with rough, shiny, golden brown crusts. For moist muffins, stir the batter only a few strokes. If you overbeat the muffin batter, they will be tough, and have peaks on the top. Always sift the dry ingredients. Mix all the wet ingredients together and pour into the center of the dry ingredients. Mix just until moistened.

This batter is a basic muffin batter and tastes wonderful. Any type of fruit can be added, such as blueberries, raspberries or strawberries. Jelly muffins are fabulous by topping with your prefrence of jams. Try adding raisins, nuts or dates. You can also adjust the sweetness by adding more sugar if you prefer.

1 3/4 cups flour
14 cup sugar
2 1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1 well-beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 t. vanilla

Sift the dry ingredients together into a bowl. make a well in the center. Combine the egg, milk, vanilla and melted butter. Add all at once to the dry ingredients and stir gently and quickly just until moisted. Fill greased muffin pan 2/3 full. Before baking, top each muffin with 1 t. of jam.....Estelle's used Sour Cherry Jam from the Stonewall Kitchen.