July 31, 2013


Summer your family and guests with
bright splashes of cool colors!

Your southern hospitality will reflect your warm spirit when you choose your favorite collections of dinnerware, plants, fresh fruits and wines,
 as you create a dining space that will transport you to a
chateau in the South of France!

Styling Tip~
Add a special touch to your dining table by making use of those
fresh summer fruits and veggies....
the colors of the garden in lemon yellows and lime greens,
 accented in light, airy plants and candles can create a space
 that looks inviting and just makes you feel good!

This recipe was given to me by our son Greg!
What a fantastic and delicious way to enjoy summer squash!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1 zucchini, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup hummus
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 lemons
1 t. smoked paprika
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Prepare one large baking dish or two smaller baking dishes with cooking spray.
Season the chicken breasts with generous pinches of salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the zucchini, squash and onion with olive oil until evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper.
If using one baking dish, place all of the vegetables on the bottom of the dish in an even layer. Lay the four chicken breasts evenly on top, then cover each chicken breast with the hummus so that the entire breast is covered. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the chicken and vegetables. Then sprinkle the pan with smoked paprika or sumac. Thinly slice the remaining lemon, and place the slices in between the chicken and vegetables.
Bake for 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Serve immediately!

July 30, 2013


You know how important it is to celebrate those special moments in life! We just love to throw little impromptu parties to celebrate a job promotion or special accomplishment of a family member! Perhaps you would like to throw a potluck party to meet a new neighbor! This delicious Mexican casserole will be perfect to serve to your family or guests. Estelle's prepares this dish, the homemade way, but it's even easier and faster, if you are short on time, to substitute packaged seasoning and cornbread mix! Men love this dish!

1 lb. ground chuck
homemade taco seasoning to taste
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can organic corn, drained
2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 easy cornbread for topping
Sour Cream

In a large skillet, brown ground chuck over medium high heat until no longer pink. Drain grease. Stir in the taco seasoning to your taste and stir in one cup of the cheddar cheese. Add the Rotel tomatoes, black beans and corn. Continue to mix together and simmer for about five minutes. Spoon into a round baking dish. Mix the cornbread and spoon onto the top of the beef/bean mixture. Top with remaining cheddar cheese and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. When ready to serve, top with sour cream and warm salsa! Ole'!!

Homemade Taco Seasoning
1 T. chili powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. onion powder
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 t. oregano
1/2 t. paprika
1 1/2 t. cumin
1 t. sea salt
1 t. coarse ground black pepper 

Easy Cornbread
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 cup milk
1/ cup vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten

Combine all dry ingredients. Stir in the oil, milk and egg. Mix just until moistened. Pour batter over the top of the bean/beef mixture.

Now, for all of you who would prefer the shortcut method, substitute a package of taco seasoning, along with 1/3 cup of water for the homemade seasoning. Substitute a package of cornbread mix, rather than making your homemade version.

July 29, 2013


Something So Absorbing That
It Transports and Consumes You.
You will not want this novel to end!

For the Kellehers, Maine is a place where children run in packs, showers are taken outdoors, and old Irish songs are sung around a piano at night. Their beachfront property, won on a barroom bet after the war, sits on three acres of sand and pine nestled between stretches of rocky coast, with one tree bearing the initials “A.H.” At the cottage, built by Kelleher hands, cocktail hour follows morning mass, nosy grandchildren snoop in drawers, and decades-old grudges simmer beneath the surface.

"She could tell by the heavy clouds that it was about to rain. In Cape Neddick, Maine, that May, you were likely to see a thunderstorm every afternoon. This didn’t bother her. She never went down to the beach anymore. After lunch she usually sat out on the screen porch for hours, reading novels that her daughter-in-law, Ann Marie, had lent her during the winter, drinking red wine, and watching the waves crash against the rocks until it was time to make supper. She never felt the urge she once did to put on a swimsuit and take a dip or muss her pedicure by walking in the sand. She preferred to watch it all from a distance, letting the scene pass through her like a ghost.".....excerpt from Maine
Then there’s the Kellehers’ fondness for Irish music, the hot toddies, the Hail Marys, and the cousins by the dozens..........

By turns wickedly funny and achingly sad, Maine unveils the sibling rivalry, alcoholism, social climbing, and Catholic guilt at the center of one family, along with the abiding, often irrational love that keeps them coming back, every summer, to Maine and to each other.  
"Just do everything we didn't do and you will be perfectly safe!"
~F. Scott Fitzgerald

July 28, 2013


Like a Sunday afternoon nap in the hammock after church,
Southern-style living just feels good.

When the aroma from all the cooking going on in your kitchen can hit the neighbor’s house two blocks down just by leaving the screen door open, you are doing it right. These dinners are not about portion control, but about the comfort and happiness you get by eating great homemade food surrounded by friends and family at your own farmhouse table.


 A typical Sunday supper in the South would include
Buttermilk southern-fried chicken
Three-cheese macaroni
Fresh collard greens with mustard seed and ham hocks
Homemade cornbread
Scalloped Pineapple casserole

Nothing ends a Southern supper better than a snifter glass of good bourbon and a slice of homemade buttermilk pie!

1 (3 to 4 pound) chicken, cut up into 10 pieces
2 T garlic powder
2 T sweet paprika
2 t cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper
1 quart buttermilk
2 T hot chili sauce
Peanut oil, for frying
1/4 bunch fresh thyme
3 big sprigs fresh rosemary
1/4 bunch fresh sage
1/2 head garlic, smashed, husk still attached
Lemon wedges, for serving

Put the chicken pieces into a large bowl. Cover the chicken with water by 1 inch; add 1 tablespoon of salt for each quart of water used. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

In a large shallow platter, mix the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne until well blended; season generously with salt and pepper. In another platter combine the buttermilk and hot sauce with a fork and season with salt and pepper.

Drain the chicken and pat it dry. Dredge the pieces, a few at a time, in the flour mixture,
then dip them into the buttermilk; dredge them again in the seasoned flour. Set aside and let the chicken rest while you prepare the oil.

Put about 3 inches of oil into a large deep pot; it should not come up more than half way. Add the thyme, rosemary, sage, and garlic to the cool oil and heat over medium-high heat until the oil registers 350 to 365 degrees F on one of those clip-on deep-fry thermometers. The herbs and garlic will perfume the oil with their flavor as the oil comes up to temperature.

Once the oil has reached 350 to 365 degrees F, working in batches, carefully add the chicken pieces 3 or 4 at a time. Fry, turning the pieces once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 12 minutes. Total cooking time should be about 30 minutes. When the chicken is done, take a big skimmer and remove the chicken pieces and herbs from the pot, shaking off as much oil as you can, and lay it on a tea towel or brown paper bag to soak up the oil. Sprinkle all over with more salt and a dusting of cracked black pepper. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces. Once all the chicken is fried, scatter the fried herbs and garlic over the top. Serve hot, with big lemon wedges.


July 26, 2013


“From morning till night, sounds drift from the kitchen,
most of them familiar and comforting....
On days when warmth is the most important need of the human heart,
the kitchen is the place you can find it;
it dries the wet sock, it cools the hot little brain.”
~E.B.White  (1899-1985)

It's good to remember the past. Summers in Mississippi where the katydids will lull you to sleep. Some of our fondest memories are of times spent around a table of home-cooked food, after a day spent tending the garden.
QUICK and EASY are words that get immediate attention, especially when referring to preparing family dinners.

3/4 Cup brown sugar
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
2 cans large Lima beans, well drained
1/2 cup ketchup
2 t. liquid smoke
1 medium diced onion
4 strips raw bacon
Combine all but bacon; mix well. Turn into a 1 1/2 quart casserole.
 Arrange bacon strips on top. Bake @ 325 degrees F. for one hour.
OOOOOOhhhh, these are SO good!

1 Cup self-rising cornmeal
1 8- ounce carton sour cream
8 1/2 ounce can cream style corn
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
Mix all ingredients together and bake in greased muffin tins at
 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes.

July 25, 2013


A southern girl is a girl who knows full and well that she can open
a door for herself but prefers for the
      gentleman to do it because it demonstrates a sense of respect.
After all, every girl wants to be treated
      like a princess.
 Mr. Wonderful holds the door open for me wherever we go and
offers his arm when we are taking a walk. 
He's just that kind of guy.  
He has old-fashioned southern manners

There was one saying Miss Helen always repeated to me growing up....."Pretty is as pretty does" she would say. I used to cringe when I heard this since I was normally in the middle of throwing a big ole hissy fit!

I think defining your "pretty space" is definitely important. Not only can it define our outer beauty, but it can also provide a space to reflect on your inner beauty. My mother always had a dressing table, as did both of my grandmothers. I grew up watching them prepare for their day by slathering on creams, powders and lipsticks and practicing their dazzling smiles in their hand mirrors! It was just what a lady did!

I love old things, especially Mr. Wonderful, and furnish my home with love and vintage finds from gentler times, most of it belonging to my mother and grandmothers.

I have a dear friend who would always say, "I will never wear SAS shoes!" "I don't care if I am 90 years old with a walker, I plan on wearing cute and sexy heels." We would get a tremendous laugh about this and agreed that comfort would not replace style. We refused to be a part of that big ole' sea of white tennis shoes we sometimes see in resort areas!
 Oy vey!

I am thankful that I was blessed with a daughter who continues to offer me beauty advice. On her recent visit to Texas, we discussed new make-up tips. I told her I thought I needed to change and update my make-up since I was turning yet another year older in this new decade of the 60's! Oy vey, again! With her advice, I have new beauty products that I adore! I refuse to go gently into the senior generation. I want to sparkle and shine for years to come, both inside and out, just like my precious and Divine Miss M!

Our attempt at defining our last day together!
She is the definition for all things graceful, beautiful and kind!


July 24, 2013


Beasties show up in your life every day ~
each one carrying a message tailor-made just for you.
The phone rang and it was my son wondering what our lunch plans were?  There was delicious chaos everywhere I looked as we began to unpack and stage each room. The boys were still loading the moving van, but had reached a point to listen more to their hunger pangs than emptying out the townhome. So after a brief conversation, we decided that they would head over to the new home and we would go to a local deli for a lunch break. Before he hung up the phone, I said, "Do you know you have an Egret in your back yard? I am watching him from your deck and he is standing on a log in your lake?" His reply was, "yes, I have seen him our there! Pretty, isn't he?"
Throughout the day, as we continued to complete the move-in, we noticed this beautiful, majestic white bird show up from time to time out at the lake. Of course, it was in the high 90's, muggy and still. Here came the dark clouds and the skies opened up for one of those welcomed summer rain storms. We took a break from unpacking and sat at their kitchen table, just resting and staring out at that beautiful backyard. There was their Egret, sitting majestically in a tree, seemingly enjoying his rain bath. After about, twenty minutes, the rain lessened and he spread those stunningly beautiful wings and soared ever so gently down to the lake.   These are the moments that stay in my mind's eye all day.  Encouraging me, like a delightful secret.  Mine all mine, for surely this was just for me today?
How ironic I thought....they love the beach, exchanged their wedding vows in Florida during an August rain and lo and behold.....they ended their home search surrounded by a private lake with their very own Egret, which is so reminiscent of the gulf.
God's gifts can show up everyday in your life.....we are all connected I think. The gift of animals teach us something.....whispered secrets that make us smile. For me, it was the gift of horses in our neighbor's field when we lived in Texas the first time, then the gift of deer in our own woodlands in Maine.....and for them, it was the Egret......
Beasties and their helpful messages will come to you wherever you are. All you need to do is tune in.
I turned to Jenn and said, "I think we should name him, don't you? Perhaps, Edith or maybe Eddie!" Jenn said, "I was thinking the same thing.....Ed! Yes, that's it! We are going to call him Ed!" And so it was....... 
 Wowza! A gift of the incredible, edible cupcake!

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2  T. freshly brewed coffee
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. kosher salt's the GOOD stuff!

The Coconut Frosting

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
4 extra-large egg yolks
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/2 t. pure almond extract
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 t. salt 

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with 14 or 15 paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In a third bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the buttermilk and flour mixtures alternately in thirds, beginning with the buttermilk and ending with the flour. Don't overmix! Fold the batter a few times with a rubber spatula to be sure it's mixed.

Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners. (I use a 2-inch ice cream scoop.) Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

The Coconut Frosting

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the evaporated milk, brown sugar, and egg yolks and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 15 minutes, until slightly thickened. If the mixture looks a bit curdled, beat it vigorously with a whisk. Off the heat, stir in the vanilla extract, almond extract, coconut, pecans, and salt. Allow to cool for about an hour. Frost the cupcakes with a knife or small metal spatula.

July 23, 2013


If we win the lottery, you can find us on the beach....I agreed that I would follow him to Florida. He intends that this will be his forever destination. He dreams of this often I think. A small beach cottage directly on the white, soft sand. You can just imagine the ocean sounds now. Long days of walking along the shoreline, fishing hours on end, a wardrobe of ragged shorts and worn out t-shirts and that faded white baseball hat. Dining on fresh shrimp and blue crab every evening.....well......wait a minute now. I agreed that I would indeed be by his side with that dream, however I think we probably differ on what our beach house is supposed to look like. Not to worry.....I think I found the perfect "forever dream home!"
Classic elegance reaches the height of refined sophistication

A most prestigious beachside enclave.

An entry gallery welcomes guests into the dramatic 2-story reception hall where black-and-beige marble floors set off the impressive grand staircase.

What a dramatic view!

This kitchen features Golden Dream marble floors, Tea Leaf Green granite counters, a teak-topped island, Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer, Miele dishwasher, Viking range, and GE Monogram ovens.

They referred to this as a charming breakfast nook...
a tad larger than a nook, don't you agree?

Such a rich looking library showcasing hand-crafted maple paneling, floor-to-ceiling built-ins, a marble-faced fireplace, and intricate ceiling moldings.

The grand master suite is ensconced in an enormous private wing occupying half the upper level and opens onto a covered terrace and sun deck overlooking the picturesque Intracoastal Waterway.

Who would not want to be pampered in this luxurious Master Bath?

Refreshing Breezes and Swaying Palm Trees

It certainly is a dream, isn't it? Why not dream big, I always say.....
if we won the lottery.......
Sold on 5/20/13 for $5,625,000

July 22, 2013


Signed, Sealed Delivered......I'm Yours!
It was a long, hard ride! The hunt for finding the perfect new home began in April for this newlywed couple. It proved to be a frustrating, disappointing, and hard-knock process!  The housing market in Texas has been hot, hot, hot; meaning homes were selling within the first 1-3 days after receiving multiple offers. There were some where buyers were standing in line in order to wait for their turn at the showing. Can you imagine being up against sometimes five other offers to purchase your first home? They came so close to just giving up even though their belongings had been packed and stored. But, this has also been a learning process to keep that positive outlook and move forward in finding your happiness! At last! They found a simply beautiful home in a beautiful location that they fell in love with. Moving day was Saturday and they are home at last....happy, happy, happy! We celebrated in style with a new Italian dining spot that instantly became a favorite! We wish them many years of  bliss at their new "Home Sweet Home!"
Bo-Bo is loving the new outlook on his world!
He was watching this summer rainstorm
just after we moved in the last of the boxes!
Greg has managed to find the best dining places for us, whether it be in Boston, Maine, Florida or Texas! I simply adored this restaurant.
You felt like you were in Old Italy and the food...simply delicioso!
1 (15 ounce) container nonfat ricotta cheese
3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
3/4 cup shredded Parmesans cheese
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup cooked chicken, chopped in small pieces
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste
14 uncooked manicotti shells
1 - 15 oz Alfredo sauce (Estelle's uses Bertolli)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook the manicotti according to the package directions.
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, spinach, chicken and egg until well combined.
Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the filling to a large ziplock bag. Seal the bag and cut a 1/2-inch snip from
the bottom corner of the bag. Push the filling down towards the opening. Twist the
bag on top and fill each manicotti shell with filling.
Pour 3/4 cup of the Alfredo sauce over the bottom of a 9"  x 13" casserole dish. Carefully
place the filled shells in the dish. Pour the rest of the sauce on top of the shells
and sprinkle the top with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes