April 30, 2013


Add a Shot of Bourbon? No Problem!
In the summer, we would sit on the porch shelling the black-eyed peas and the snap beans that we had just purchased at the Farmer's Market. Those purple hulls from the peas stained our fingers a smoky violet! Mother would simmer these fresh beans on the stove most of the afternoon, and I can still recall their flavor and aroma, which were mouthwatering! Her Bourbon Chicken was one of our Daddy's favorites and made the perfect accompaniment to those fresh beans. What made this meal so special was just spending the day with Mother, talking and learning the art of cooking, then ending the day with family and cold sweet tea! Now, that was growing up in Mississippi!

Bourbon Chicken
6 chicken breast halves, boneless and skinless
1 cup bourbon whiskey
1/2 cup firmly-packed dark brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken breasts, in a single layer, into an ungreased 13x9-inch baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine whiskey, sugar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper. Pour bourbon marinade over chicken breasts. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes or refrigerate to marinate longer (turning meat over several times). Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Bake chicken, which has been covered with foil for 2 hours. Turn oven to 350 degrees F. and continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes.


April 29, 2013


The South embodies Glamour and the South we begin our soirees with dainty bites and tea sandwiches...this is where we brag on being highbrow, but we can also be as down-home as offering boiled peanuts.......all our party fare requires a bit of planning and thought.......

I am in need of the romance of moonlight and magnolias, the sun-washed wholesomeness of family memories, a note or two of twisted Southern Gothic, a prideful sense of place and my grandmother's heirlooms!

 Grapefruit Margaritas

1 cup tequila
1 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup Cointreau
1-2 tsp. agave (optional)
4 salt-rimmed Margarita glasses
fresh grapefruit slices for garnish

 Rim 4 Margarita glasses with kosher salt. In a blender, combine all ingredients (adding agave to taste) with ice cubes and blend well to combine. The mixture should be slushy. Pour into salt-rimmed glasses and garnish with fresh grapefruit wedges! May it be a grand party!


April 26, 2013


I don't know about you, but after the week draws closer to Friday night, I am ready to kick back and relax! That does not mean that dinner will not be homemade however. What goes better with a glass of Pinot, then a cold pasta salad and a crusty loaf of homemade French bread? Linger in the kitchen and find out how everyone's week went? What plans do they have for the weekend? It's playtime! We could eat this until the cows come home......
1 cup Rotini noodles
Boiled mix vegetables (Peas, broccoli, carrots)
1 small chopped tomato
1 chopped purple onion
 2 T. Mayonnaise
1/2 of grated Mozzarella cheese
A few fresh springs of finely chopped Parsley
1 t. Italian Seasoning
1/4 cup sliced stuffed olives
1 t. soy sauce
1 t. lemon juice
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

    First you take the cooked Rotini noodles in widely deep bowl, blend all the ingredients such as boiled mixed vegetables, chopped onions and tomato in the bowl. Add the soy sauce, mayonnaise cheese, lemon juice and seasonings on top and mix well. Add black pepper and salt as per your taste.Sprinkle the chopped olives, finely chopped parsley and grated Mozzarella cheese on top of the salad. Keep in the refrigerator to make it chill for around 45 minutes.Once it pasta is chilled lightly. mix gently  and you are ready to serve!

April 25, 2013


What Just Happened........It's Cold.....
Light The Fire Please!

Always remember, if you are bored with the weather today, wait until least in Texas the weather changes daily. We have gone from almost summer like weather, back to freezing temperatures....Just in an afternoon! So, back to searching soup and stew recipes. We all used to have a ladies luncheon at the most wonderful , tea room over in Arlington. They would cater bridesmaid luncheons, business groups and even the ladies of The Red Hat Society. They were well known and loved for their soups and salads. They had THE most wonderful mushroom soup with a taste that was deep, rich and warming to your soul. This recipe certainly does it's best at imitating their secret is Tea Room worthy! Perfect for a cold Spring day!


Tea Room Mushroom Soup 
 2 cups fresh mushrooms - cleaned and chopped finely
(Estelle's mixes button and cremini mushrooms)
1 T. olive oil
 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. butter
1/2 T. chopped fresh thyme
 2 bay leaves
2 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup vegetable broth
1 T. flour, mixed with 1 T. water
Salt to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
Dash of freshly ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a sauce pan. Add butter and lightly sauté garlic on medium heat.
Add in mushrooms, thyme, bay leaf and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the moisture from the mushrooms disappears.
  Add in chicken broth. Stir occasionally until broth boils,
then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
 Add diluted flour in, and stir constantly (while simmering) until the mixture thickens. Season with salt and nutmeg. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Finally, add milk and heavy cream, and bring to a simmer. Turn heat off.
 Serve hot with freshly made French bread. 

April 24, 2013


Did You Really Go To All This Trouble Just For Me?

Would you like to impress your family with an elegant ending to a celebratory dinner? I love preparing tarts, rather than pie just to make something different and actually, easier! Not to mention the welcoming aroma that it creates throughout the house. My darling always comments with "oooo's and aaah's" when the fine china is brought out and this beautiful pear tart is set before him. Little secrets of success are to slice the pears, thinly, use Bosc pears and ensure they are ripe when using them in pies or tarts. Bosc Pears will be ripe when they are brown, rather than green. No one will even realize how easy this was to prepare. How elegant!
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 extra-large eggs,  room temperature
6 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons pear brandy
3 firm but ripe Bosc pears
Confectioners' sugar
Creme fraiche


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Butter a 10" x 3" x 1 1⁄2" round baking dish and sprinkle the bottom and sides with 1 tablespoon of the sugar.

Beat the eggs and 1⁄3 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. On low speed, mix in the flour, cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, and pear brandy. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel, quarter, core, and slice the pears. Arrange the slices in a single layer, slightly fanned out, in the baking dish. Pour the batter over the pears and bake until the top is golden brown and the custard is firm, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with confectioners' sugar, and creme fraiche!

April 23, 2013



    Remember romance? Those summer evenings when you just talked and talked with the one you loved? Time to spice it up.......set the mood to capture the magic! Soft lighting, a little background music playing and your perfume is scenting the up a Hot Fudge Sundae and he is putty in your hands........
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

 Bring cream, corn syrup, sugar, cocoa, salt, and half of chocolate to a boil in a 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until chocolate is melted. Reduce heat and cook at a low boil, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Add butter, vanilla, and remaining chocolate and stir until smooth. Cool sauce to warm before serving.


April 22, 2013

BLUBERRY FRENCH TOAST...Miss Helen's Specialty

Wake Up, Wake Up.....You Sleepy Head!!  
When Miss Judy and I were young, our favorite mornings were when Mother would prepare French toast for breakfast! We would wake up to the smell of butter, kissed with cinnamon, combined with the heady scent of sizzling eggs! It was a most welcome greeting as we bounded out of bed and headed to the kitchen. The tradition of preparing a special breakfast of French toast has continued as everytime the grandchildren are assembled, you can count on French toast being on the menu at Estelle's!
1 loaf French bread, sliced and cubed
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, cubed
1 cup blueberries
12 large eggs 
1/2 cup Maple syrup 
2 cups milk
 Blueberry Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 T. cornstarch
1 cup water
1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained
1 T. butter
In small saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch and water and heat over medium high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until thickened.
Add 1 cup of blueberries and simmer, stirring occasionally until most berries have burst, about 10 minutes.
Add butter and stir until melted.
Transfer to serving bowl.
 The French Toast
    Preheat oven to 350°F   Grease13" X 9" baking dish.
    Place half of the bread cubes evenly in the dish.
    Scatter cream cheese cubes on top and sprinkle with blueberries.
    Arrange remaining half of bread cubes on top.
    Combine eggs, syrup and milk and pour over bread mixture.
    Cover with foil and chill overnight.
Bake covered 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 30 more minutes until puffed and brown.
    Place French Toast on individual serving plates and top with Blueberry Syrup.

April 21, 2013


“Traveling is all very well if you can get home at night.
I would be willing to go around the world if
I came back in time to light the candles and set the table for supper.
I cannot conceivably influence the world's destiny,
but I can make my own life more worthwhile.
I can give some help to some people; that is not vital to all the world's problems and yet,
 I think if everyone did just that,
we might see quite a world in our time!”
~Gladys Tabor

This is one of my favorite quotes. With all of the past week's horrific events, I think we all need comforting.....a time to be quiet and be be say a prayer for those that were so affected by tragedy.  
8 ounces egg noodles
1 (10 1/4 ounce) can cream of celery soup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
 1 can of small peas, drained
4 ounces mushrooms, drained (optional)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 (7 ounce) can tuna, with juice

 Cook egg noodles to al dente in boiling salted water; drain well.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Mix all ingredients together in a large casserole dish, reserving 1/2 cup of cheese.
Sprinkle reserved cheese over the top.
Bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot.

April 19, 2013

Oh Cookie....You're My Everything!

Spend some time with your family this weekend. Grab the babies, head to the kitchen and bake some cookies! Take pictures, smile, hug and love!


The Everything Cookie

2 sticks salted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole oats
6 ounces sweetened coconut flakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
12 ounces Hershey’s semi sweet chocolate chips
4 ounces Heath toffee bits

In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, until creamy. Add vanilla, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add oats, coconut flakes and slowly add flour until well mixed. Slowly add chocolate chips and Heath toffee until blended.
Scoop medium-sized scoops of dough onto  cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove from oven and allow cookies to set for 5 minutes. Move to cooling rack. Cookie should be chewy!

April 18, 2013


Are you pouring over the gardening catalogs like I am? What to plant and where? Shall I add interest with an arbor or weathervane.....or how about a garden fairy? I need a few plants for shade and oh, yes, more knock-out roses. I am afraid my list is endless, but what a wonderful thing to plan and daydream about. Even the smallest space can be transformed into beauty. I placed my order for pink cannas, so I am so excited to have a gardening project lined up for the weekend!

  I spotted pink cannas last year in Atlanta and simply fell in love with them instantly. I have yellow cannas planted around the pool from last year, and thought these would be a stunning addition. Happy, happy mama.....that's me!
The Divine Miss M is sharing her easy and yummy recipe for Mexican Fried Rice. I thought perhaps we would be able to "kick it up a notch" by serving the rice in peppers, topped with cheese and an enchilada sauce. Well.......voila'......more please!!
2 teaspoons canola oil
4 large eggs
4 cups cooked brown or whole grain rice
1 can black beans, drained
1 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted
1 cup mild salsa
2 cups grated Mexican cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 28-ounce jar of enchilada sauce
3 red and green peppers, cut in half
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Stir fry the eggs for 30 seconds and remove to a plate.   Place the additional teaspoon oil in the skillet. Toss in the brown rice, beans, corn, salsa and cumin. Cook, stirringly continuously, until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the eggs and 1/2 cup of cheese to warm through and combine. Divide equally into pepper halves, sprinkle with additional cheese and pour the enchilada sauce over all in a 13" x 9" baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes. This recipe is scrumptious all by itself, if you would prefer to serve it as a main course or a side dish also.

April 17, 2013

Shrimp and Rice....Share The Love!

Time for Backyard Dinners

My mother made the best shrimp and rice casseroles! She had several that she served often and when she would pull out a hot casserole from the oven, we could barely wait until she piled our plates with one of her masterpieces! This is pure comfort food in the South and comfort food is meant to be shared with the ones you love!

2 pounds unpeeled, large fresh shrimp
1/4 cup butter
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fresh or frozen sliced okra
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of shrimp soup
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups cooked long-grain rice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 Garnishes: quartered lemon slices, fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs


Peel shrimp and devein.
Melt 1/4 cup butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and next 3 ingredients; sauté 7 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in okra, lemon juice, and salt; sauté 5 minutes. Add shrimp, and cook 3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Stir in soup and next 4 ingredients until blended. Pour into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and cheese is lightly browned. Garnish with fresh lemon slices and parsley.

April 16, 2013


Save me a Place........
Cooking and entertaining go hand in hand for me.
 I love doing both! Delicious dips are sure to keep your
 guests coming back for more.
 Small bites that are both delicious and healthy
will leave room for the rest of your meal and
give you time to enjoy the party!

¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
10 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Place the tomatoes, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend well. Add the scallions and pulse twice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Let dip come to room temperature, garnish with sliced scallions and bits of roasted pepper. Serve with toasted baguette slices, fresh vegetables, crackers, chips or all of the above.

April 15, 2013

A Magical Homemade Sweet Ending....Cookie Dough Dip!

Sweet, Sweet Gratification!
Warm spring days just beg us to come outside and play! Planning a picnic or potluck soon? Encourage your children and grandchildren to make dessert with you! There's something magical when it comes time to put all these ingredients together and end up with something homemade and this delicious!
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
½ cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup toffee bits

Cream together cream cheese and butter.Add all remaining ingredients and mix until well-combined.
Serve with graham crackers and apple wedges.

April 14, 2013


It's the Weekend....Do What You Love!

Don't you just love the two days that you have totally to yourself? Your time belongs to you and you alone....sure you have chores to do and babies to tend to, but for some reason, these are the types of things that bring you joy! Our family always enjoyed Taco night, when we could create our own versions of our individual tacos, watch a good movie or make it a family game night. Serve up fresh sour cream, crisp lettuce and tomatoes, a good homemade salsa, with limes, avocados and cilantro on the side! This recipe for preparing the beef shoulder has proven itself to be the ultimate manner in which to serve shredded beef tacos. The Divine Miss M's Mexican rice dish would be perfect with this....please send me the recipe Miss M????

2 pounds beef shoulder
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large onion, sliced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, (recommended: San Marzano)
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 bay leaves
Season all sides of the beef with a fair amount of salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, or other heavy pot that has a tight cover, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over moderately high heat. Add the garlic and the beef to the pot, browning the meat on all sides, taking the time to get a nice crust on the outside. Add the onion and allow to lightly brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, plus 1 tomato can of water, spices, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and add enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer with a lid for 3 hours until the meat is fork tender. Let meat cool in the liquid. Shred the roast with two forks and you are ready to serve!

April 13, 2013


Let's Get Away From It All.......
The world can be a crazy place, can't it?
Perhaps, less is more. Often times, when we would ride the ferry over to the islands in Maine, we would be enveloped into the quiet, slow-pace of the island residents. Limited cars, only bicycles and golf carts were allowed. Their homes were not extravagant and often "Bunkie style!" This was my first experience in the Bunkie life....and it seems rather idyllic. This weekend, Nick and Catherine will be celebrating their first year anniversary. They have chosen a small woodland Bunkie located in the Texas Hill country. They plan to relax by the lake, go canoeing, read, and have a glass of wine by the fire pit. Now wouldn't that be a luxury? Perhaps we don't need "all this stuff" and would find happiness in a Bunkie surrounded by natures beauty.....
What a perfect fresh salad this would be to serve for dinner!

3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise                                      
1/4 cup minced shallots
 3 T chopped fresh dill
 1 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 t coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
 10 strips of  bacon
 1 head Boston or bibb lettuce, leaves torn into 3-inch piece
 3 large hard-cooked eggs, quartered lengthwise and halved crosswise
  3 ounces smoked salmon, flaked with a fork into bite-size pieces
  1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch dice

Whisk buttermilk, mayonnaise, shallots, dill, lemon juice, and salt in a small bowl until well combined. Season with pepper. Cover, and refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.Arrange bacon in a single layer in a large saute pan, and cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels. When cool, crumble bacon into bite-size pieces. Arrange lettuce on a platter. Top with bacon, eggs, salmon, and avocado. Drizzle with 1/2 of the dressing. Season with pepper, and serve with remaining dressing on the side.

April 10, 2013


Virginia, Siddalee, Mrs. Mumford, Goldie Fay, Mrs. Tuttle, and oh yes.....
Mama Lady

Cat and I were talking the other day and she mentioned to me that she thinks she would like for Miss Elizabeth to add some chickens to her ranch.......I LOVE this idea! I have wanted chickens for awhile now, ever since I saw that Paula Deen had chickens in her yard and the most exquisite designer chicken coop! Seriously, have you seen the coops they make nowadays?
Darling said, "You don't know anything about raising chickens!"
"Well, I replied....I Know, but all we have to do, is build a fabulous little home for them and read a book...I already have names picked out for them. We will start with six, that seems like a good number. I think six fat and beautiful hens should get along famously!"
"Hmmmmm, he replied.....what about a rooster? Do you want a rooster too?"
"No, absolutely male in the group of females brings know that! This is strictly going to be females only and a very girly coop!"
"Think about it...we can have fresh eggs every morning!"
He was rather silent.....
"Don't you think that just sounds marvelous?
We can actually be sort of like little city farmers...
a new project to begin as we discover our
 fabulous fun-filled retirement years!"
Poor Darling! I could tell he was not too excited about the idea!
Then, thinking he had me over a barrel....he asked,
 "Don't you need a Rooster for a hen to lay an egg?"
Smiling sweetly, I replied, "Darling.....a hen will produce and release eggs without a rooster present. The only need for the rooster is to fertilize the eggs to develop into a little chick! See, I do know something about chickens! Domestic chickens lay one egg every day, pretty much, and they lay their daily egg about four or five times a week. When they are not laying their daily egg, they just kick back and relax!"
"Well, he said, that sounds like a wonderful idea, but quite a project!
How much do you suppose a chicken coop costs!"
"Well, Williams- Sonoma has one that is around $1500.00"......
I said $1500.00 very softly by the came out rather like a whisper....
Then he had the nerve to reply....
"Well sweet girl, when you decide to come out of retirement and
 earn the $1500.00, you can have your designer chicken coop!"
10 ounces dried cheese-filled tortellini                           
1 medium carrot, thinly sliced                            
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas, halved crosswise                            
1 tablespoon margarine or butter                            
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces                            
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms 
1/3 cup chicken broth                                                                 
2 1/2 Tablespoons snipped fresh oregano                            
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour                            
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt                            
1/2 teaspoon pepper                            
1 cup milk                            
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, cubed and softened                            
1 tablespoon lemon juice                            
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes                            
1 small red or green sweet pepper, coarsely chopped                            
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese                            
                    Cook tortellini in boiling salted water according to package directions, adding the carrot during the last 5 minutes of cooking and the sugar snap peas during the last 1 minute of cooking; drain. 

  Meanwhile, heat margarine or butter in a 12-inch skillet. Add chicken and mushrooms, and cook about 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from skillet.
Shake together chicken broth, oregano, flour, garlic salt, and pepper in a screw-top jar until smooth. Add to skillet along with milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; add cream cheese. Cook and stir until cream cheese is smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice. Add pasta mixture, chicken mixture, tomatoes, and sweet pepper. Toss to coat. Turn into an ungreased 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish. Bake, covered, in a 350 degrees F. oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until heated through. Stir mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.