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Texas Sheet Cake

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Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy, the Baker, that is.  Yes, this is a recipe from the Joy the Baker Cookbook.

Now, here’s the thing:  I’m not from Texas, but I am very familiar with Texas Sheet Cake, and I assumed that everybody was.  I’ve come to discover that I was wrong, which I hate, of course.  So now I’m taking a poll.  Did you grow up with this beauty?

Okay.  You’re right.  It is totally not pretty.  I’d like to blame Joy, love her as I do.  But I guess I have to claim user error on this one.  This happens to be one of the few recipes of my mom’s that I have written down, and her directions are spot on with Joy’s.  I found it odd that you frost the cake immediately.  I think I went wrong in two places:  it should have cooked a little longer and my frosting should have been a little more thin.

Eh, live and learn.  It was still light and fluffy and perfectly fudgy and chocolatey = perfect.   Joy mixes pecans into her frosting, which I obediently followed.  But my mom used to just sprinkle the top with walnuts.   I think you can’t go wrong.

In other news:  I feel a little guilty about my lack of posting.  I’m trying to figure out where my motivation has disappeared to.  I certainly can’t blame work, I’ve had a pretty easy couple of weeks.  My friend Kayla was in town this weekend and we took her out to dinner, and then coffee at Cafe Intermezzo.  Sidenote:  new favorite drink is Cafe Bach with a shot of butterscotch schnapps on the side.  That’s hardly a weeklong excuse, though.

I think what it boils down to is that General Hospital is just too good lately.  Last year when I started this adventure it was because Jake was deployed, so I had some time on my hands.  I needed something to do while I watch the soaps.  Well, now I’m down to one soap.  Insert boycott of The Chew for forever.  And GH happens to be great lately:  old characters coming back from the dead and the crossover with One Life to Live stars.   What more can you ask?If they really do bring back the nurses’ ball I will be in heaven.   I even have Jake hooked.

I’ve still been cooking away, so stay tuned; I have a few good ones in store for you.

Eat Well and Savor.



Graham Nut Clusters

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Otherwise known as Chex mix with Golden Grahams, but more about that later.

Don’t call out the National Guard.  I am back.  I had every intention of posting throughout my vacation, but I guess lounging around takes more out of me than I thought.

Last Saturday we drove the four-hour trek to Savannah.  And when I say we drove that means Jake.  I originally intended to split the drive-time with him, but after I spent all day Friday making snacks for the road that went out the window.

To me it’s just not a road trip without Chex mix.  Usually I will try to incorporate a theme.  For example, when we drove from PA to MA for Thanksgiving a few years ago I made pumpkin spice flavored.  I kind of forgot about a theme this time, but since this recipe is from Southern Living and it has pecans I like to think that it’s a southern theme for our vacation in the south.

We spent the weekend in Savannah.  If you haven’t been to the Historic District you should go.  I have been a few times, but this was a first for my husband, so we did a little less shopping and a little more historical sightseeing.  We also went to Paula Deen’s restaurant.  Frankly, I wish we hadn’t.  Sunday we went to Vic’s on the River, which I would do again, even though they neglected to mention that the shrimp and grits were spicy.

After a quick stop at Fort Pulaski — I stayed in the car — we headed off to Hilton Head.  I am a Disney Vacation Club member and proud of it, so we stayed there until Friday.   It was our first time in Hilton Head.  There’s not a lot to do there, which is a perfect excuse to go to the Heavenly Spa at the Westin.  I was there from 12 to 6 so they offered me a lunch menu.  I ordered a grilled salmon salad which consisted of tangled greens, red onion, walnuts, dry cranberries, and raspberry-walnut vinaigrette.  What I got was grilled salmon on spinach with tomatoes and edamame.  It’s okay.  The edamamae was a nice surprise.  I assume the dressing was raspberry-walnut.  Whatever it was made me want to lick the plate.  Don’t panic.   I managed to restrain.  Certainly we hit a few other great restaurants and went to a Lowcountry boil at the Disney Beach House that was all-you-can-eat — enuf said.  Anyway, I mention the spa meal because the menu was entitled Eat Well.

I didn’t really take the camera out in Savannah, but we will go back again some day and remedy that.  I’m turning into a really bad tourist.  I either take a ton of pictures but never do anything with them or I only take a handful.  This trip was the latter.

These were pretty much outside our front door but unfortunately we didn’t notice them until the last day.  Great place for reading and drinking wine at sunset.

The view from the backyard.

The view from the beach house.

Eat Well and Savor.




Chicken and Biscuit Potpie

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I know it’s only the middle of August and it’s still summer, but kids are back to school, Halloween decor is for sale, and last week I saw boots at the mall.  Face it, autumn days are right around the corner.  You realize, of course, that this is all just an excuse to make a nice hot dish on a lovely summer day.  That’s right.  I’m a rebel.  Stay tuned.  There might also be some apple pie in your future.

Another Comfort Food Fix from Ellie Krieger.

I know we’ve seen it before, but I just love the colors.

Personally, I would have preferred a few more carrots.

Good-for-you vegetables, fluffy biscuits with low-fat buttermilk and whole-wheat flour, and fresh thyme for my little collection of herbs.  What more can you ask for?  Oh, yeah, 400 calories a serving.

In other news:  in case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been around.  I was in Philly for the annual convention of the National Court Reporters Association at the Marriott downtown.  Please, hold back your jealousy.  I wish I could report that I did a lot of sightseeing and ate at some fabulous restaurants.  Alas, several events were catered by the hotel and for the other meals I was not in charge of picking the destination.  I did manage to escape a few times to the spa at the Ritz Carlton.   Of course that meant that I had to have a cocktail in the lobby bar, which happens to be 10 Arts, Eric Ripert’s new restaurant.  At  least I think it’s new.   I took a picture of the lobby, but since the same one is on the Web site, I’ll let you click away.   I would go back just to have this drink again:

The Ri-Pear Martini

…A nod to Chef Ripert’s hometown in southwest France… Grey Goose La Poire, lavender, White Cranberry

On another note, I was so not impressed with downtown Philly — sorry if you’re a Philadelphian — but it was too crowded, a little stinky, and not very friendly.

Eat Well and Savor.


Blueberry-Peach Cobbler

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Okay .  I’ll say it:  I am a firm believer in posting on a regular basis.  No matter what that basis is.   For me it is definitely every day.  If not, the days just slip by.   Of course I have perfectly legitimate reasons.

Saturday:  We went to dinner at Local Three.  At first I was a little concerned about being stuck at a crappy little two-top with an uneven base in the middle of the dining room.  I completely changed my tune when the short ribs with grits and the duck/ricotta pizza came out.  I also ordered the lobster roll as my entree.  How could I resist?  It came on a flat-side bun. You know, like they use in New England.  I am a little perplexed that they didn’t actually toast the bun, though.  I guess they didn’t get the memo that everything is better on toast.  I suppose some might think that the lobster was the star of the show.  To that I say:  Whatevs.  I also had a little bit of wine, so I was a little too tipsy for the post.

Sunday:  Well, you see, I went one day without a post, so when it came to a Sunday evening filled with the Olympics; a heated battle of Words with Friends with my favorite cousin, which I won; and having to turn in a job which consisted of four witnesses — yes, I do work sometimes — I just plain forgot.  That’s it.  I can’t fancy it up.

Monday:   I had to work 2:00 to 4:00.   I know.  It’s an outrage.  Then I went out to a long awaited dinner with Marnie at Nine Street in Roswell.  We highly recommend the tomato soup.  Of course, it was so easy not to post, because I hadn’t posted for the two days before.

Tuesday:   I had a hearing all day.  Boohoo.  You know, I left court for a reason.  Basically the point is that I haven’t cooked anything all week.

However, I  did make this lovely cobbler so that we could have dessert last weekend.

It may not look like much, but when you add a scoop of Jeni’ Splendid Ice Creams it really perks up.

First, let me tell you about this recipe.  Actually, I’m not even sure it’s really a cobbler.  I know there are all kinds of fruit desserts out there, including crisp, buckle, and something along the lines of pandowdy or the like.  I wish I had the fortitude to do the research on the options.  Alas, all I have is the recipe which I pulled out of Oprah’s magazine.  By the way, I don’t subscribe, and I don’t always buy it.  I am not a fan of putting your picture on every cover.  You can lump Rachael Ray into that criticism as well.

The reason I doubt that this is a true cobbler is because I believe that a cobbler has dough plopped on top, and this recipe calls for the dough on the bottom.  I could be wrong.  I never claimed to be an expert, you know.

The fruit does make for some beautiful pictures.

I made a few poor choices with this.  It seems so long ago now that it’s hard to remember, but I believe the recipe called for six cups of blueberries and I only had four.  It also suggested using a 3-quart dish and I only a 2.5 quart.  I thought I would make up for the missing berries by adding more peaches, but then I neglected to adjust the size of the pan.  It didn’t affect the taste, but I had some inevitable spillage.  C’est la vie.

I did say I would mention the ice cream, didn’t I?  This is Jeni’s classic recipe with a couple of drops of coriander oil from Aftelier, and a little raspberry sauce, which officially equals her recipe for Coriander Ice Cream.  I know I should have more to say, but I have grown accustomed to Jeni’s base recipe with her corn syrup and cream cheese.

Eat Well and Savor.


Spiced Pears

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I really didn’t want to make these pears.  I put it off for a long time.  I’m not entirely sure why.  It could be because there’s no chocolate involved, or a dough of any sort.  I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that this recipe originates from Pennsylvania.  In fact, it’s a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe also known as Gapickelti Beera.  Say that three times, fast.

First these simmer in a little bath of sugar water with a cinnamon stick, some cloves, and a little allspice.

Then you remove them from the pan, with the liquid, cool them to room temperature, and then cover and refrigerate for an hour.  An unlikely turn of events if you ask me.

I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but I pretty much made hard candy and had to chisel them out of there.  Oddly, the recipe says to drain before serving.

Another concern I had with these was that there was no indication that they should be topped with whipped cream or maybe some ice cream.  I know.  Clearly, I have issues.  Nonetheless, I ate one right out of the bowl and it was delicious.  I plan to have the leftovers with some toast and peanut butter.   Next time I come across a Pennsylvania recipe in Clementine Paddleford’s Great American Cookbook I swear I will not procrastinate.

In other news:  I went to Baltimore this weekend.  Did you miss me?  That’s right.  I, being the good wife, flew up Saturday morning so that I could attend Jake’s retirement from the National Guard, then flew back Sunday night.  Of course I had to eat somewhere along the way.  The plan was to go to dinner with a few friends.  Having lived in Pennsylvania, I have been to the Inner Harbor area plenty of times.  How was I to narrow down the decision of a dinner destination?  Of course I have a book for that.  I found Della Notte in Frommer’s 500 Places for Food & Wine Lovers.  Supposedly they are known for their cannolis.  I am no expert, but I had half of one that was leftover for breakfast and it was all right.   I guess I didn’t research enough because the atmosphere wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.  However, my salad was great.  It was a combination of zucchini and tomatoes, hearts of palm, grilled corn, and a few things I can’t remember.  I had the Chilean sea bass with a swiss chard and bean ragout.  It was so-so; some of the beans were a little hard.  The redeeming quality of the restaurant:  the red wine was perfectly chilled.   Of course the company was great too.

The true good time was that we stayed at the Four Seasons and when I arrived my friend Juliette was waiting for me!  We went to Wit and Wisdom located in the lobby.  Ironically, it was a very Southern-oriented menu.  We had pimento cheese dip for crying out loud.  It was also happy hour, so thanks to Jules I had a few cocktails and proceeded to spill meatballs in my lap . . . which I still ate.   Again, fun was had by all.

Eat Well and Savor.




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Graham Cracker Whoopie + Chocolate Ganache + Classic Marshmallow.

Last year for my one-year anniversary at the best court reporting firm in Atlanta I made classic whoopie pies and started a trend.  This year, again in celebration of me, I took these to the office.  This is the time of year for s’mores.

The recipe from Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell in Whoopie Pies called for graham flour.  My first thought was that it was made from graham crackers.  I can chuckle to myself about that now.  Turns out that the graham cracker and the flour are both named after Reverend Sylvester Graham, an early advocate for dietary reform.  Who says this blog doesn’t educate?

In other news:  We went to Bistro VG for dinner last night.  That place is beautiful.  I really want to just live in the bar area.  I had a martini and a couple of glasses of wine.  Of course I started with the beet salad and ordered the salmon.  By the time the meal came I couldn’t remember what the menu said came with the salmon. I ate it, but I wasn’t sure what it was.  Turns out it was fava beans.  I swear the menu didn’t mention anything about a cheesy-lemony ravioli-type thing either, but there it was and I ate it.    If you’re around, you should go.

Eat Well and Savor.



Tomato-Watermelon Salad

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I carried a watermelon.  I couldn’t help but think it when I put it in my cart.  I’m just glad I didn’t have to say that I dropped a watermelon.  The recipe from Family Circle called for 1/2 seedless watermelon (about 7 1/2 pounds).  That’s a quote.  Now I ask you:  How was I to know if that meant a 15-pound watermelon or not?  I guess the answer to that is common sense.  Turns out the directions also so said about 12 cups, which was half of my 8ish-pound baby.    I think I ate a pound or two while I was cutting it up. 

A couple of weeks ago Marnie and I went to TWO Urban Licks.   I ordered the lamb because I was tempted by the side dish of peas and swiss chard.    It literally was delivered to the table in what reminded me of a mini trough.   Marnie ordered the watermelon salad and I ate half of it, and I’ve been thinking about it since. 

Of course I didn’t love the onion, but I don’t think you can mess up watermelon.

12 cups seedless watermelon

2 yellow tomatoes

1 seedless cucumber

1 small red onion

1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeno

1/4 cup lime juice

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 tsp salt

Combine and toss well.  Perfect for the 4th.

Eat Well and Savor.