Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cooking Club: December 2011.


My Cooking Club met in December at my friend Priscilla's house. We are just starting at new cookbook,Recipes Worth Sharing, and our first meal from it was very promising!

Thayer, Lyn and Leslie enjoy some wassail before lunch

Jill, Barenda and Ellen


Here was our menu:

Cherry-Sauced Meatballs
Buttery Biscuit Rolls
Pumpkin Soup
Dried Cherry and Toasted Pecan Salad with Maple Dressing (I brought this)
Marinated Asparagus with Cherry Tomatoes
Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole
Our Famous Bread-and-Butter Pudding

Susan serves her Pumpkin Soup

My lunch on non-Cooking Club days doesn't look like this!

Priscilla's placecards/favors were these darling bags of Hungarian paprika that she bought on her trip to Budapest this fall

Priscilla and me

Gifts awaiting our annual Kitchen Gadget Exchange

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

All aboard.


Dots and I volunteered through our NCL chapter at the Trains at NorthPark last weekend. This annual exhibit benefits our local Ronald McDonald House and is a popular attraction at the mall during Christmas. Dots and I collected admission tickets and had a great time together!



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vivian goes shopping.


Vivian's class went Christmas shopping at NorthPark, a nearby mall, last week. Vivian selected and paid for several gifts for her family, and she seemed to enjoy herself. After school I asked Vivian where she had gone shopping, and she told me, "North Pole."

Vivian's teacher sent this note along with some pictures.

Dear Parents,

We had so much fun today! We arrived at the mall a little after 9 a.m. The students were assigned buddies (staff and peer tutors), and off they went. We owe the peer tutors a huge thank you for giving up a free day to help with this trip. Their presence and assistance made the whole experience so much better for all of us. Everyone shopped a while before meeting the group in the food court for lunch. After lunch, more shopping and sight-seeing, and watching the various performers throughout the mall. At 1:00 o’clock we had the privilege, thanks to a lady who substitutes for us who knows the pianist at Nordstrom’s, to gather around the piano to watch him play. He played the theme from Charlie Brown’s Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, among others. We took pictures and sang songs and the kids just had a blast! Thank you so much for allowing us the opportunity to share this holiday experience with them.

Can you see why I am so appreciative of Vivian's wonderful teachers and school?


Sunday, December 11, 2011

My favorite sandwich: Egg & Olive.


When my sister and I were growing up, our mother often made egg and olive sandwiches for us, and we loved them. I assumed everyone grew up up eating egg and olive, but I found that most people in Texas have never even heard of such a thing; many are familiar with egg salad, but that doesn't always have olives.

I googled "egg and olive" and found an article from the "Southern Foodie" in the Birmingham paper who claims that, "You can't be a Southerner unless you at least know someone who makes themselves an egg-and-olive sandwich." So, this recipe must be an Old South creation hearkening back to our family's roots in South Georgia.

Every Monday my bridge partner, Leslie, and I play in a duplicate game at a local club. Our arrangement is that she drives and I fix our lunch. I started out making egg and olive often because it was a given that I had the ingredients on hand. After Leslie raved so about this sandwich, it became our standard Monday lunch.

As you can tell from the recipe, it is not hard and not exact! But it sure is good.


Egg and Olive

2 hard-boiled eggs, grated
scant tablespoon light mayonnaise (just enough for eggs to be a cohesive mixture)
4-5 olives, chopped finely
sprinkle of seasoned salt
2 slices of toasted bread

Stir together egg, olives and mayonnaise. Season to taste. Spread over toasted bread and serve.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mid-night Vivian.

Image 3

Last weekend the girls and I made a quick trip to Houston for my cousin Nancy Baby's wedding. While we were there Vivian and I slept in twin beds in a guest room upstairs in my parents' house.

At some point in the middle of the night, Vivian woke up and wandered downstairs to my parents' bedroom. I was sound asleep and blissfully unaware of this until my mom brought Vivian back up to our room.

My mom lay down with Vivian to try to get her back to sleep, but after a minute Vivian declared that she was thirsty and got up and walked to the bathroom to get a drink of water. When Vivian returned to our room, she looked at my mom and exclaimed, "Hey! You're in the wrong bed!"

Image 1_2
My girls and me at the wedding reception

My sister Marian and me with "the bride"

Image 2
Vivian taking a break from the reception

Image 1
Me, my dad, my mom, my brother Jonathan and Marian

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ladies lunch.


I was invited to lunch at someone's home a few weeks ago to see an old friend who was visiting from Canada. There were just four of us that day, and I don't know when I've spent a more enjoyable afternoon. Our hostess's home was a beautiful setting, and our conversation and food were delightful.

When I decided to host a lunch meeting for the National Charity League Tea committee that I'm co-chairing, I took inspiration from that afternoon's menu and served Poppy Seed Chicken Salad with Apricots, Leslie’s Tomato Soup and a slice of baguette with my perennial fall favorite Pumpkin Bars for dessert. The chicken salad was light and fresh with a lot of flavor and a nice crunch to it. The tomato soup was heavenly, and the pumpkin bars were a hit, as always. Several ladies requested the recipes.

Poppy Seed Chicken Salad with Apricots
from South of the Fork by the Junior League of Dallas

½ cup chopped almonds, toasted
½ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup salad oil
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
½ cup sliced green onion tops
½ teaspoon grated lemon peel
½ cup dried apricots, chopped
4 cups chopped cooked chicken (2 pounds)
1 red apple, diced

Combine lemon juice, oil, honey, mustard, poppy seeds, onion and lemon peel. Add apricots and let stand at least 30 minutes. Toss chicken with dressing mixture. Before serving, add almonds and apple. Salt to taste. Serves 8.

Leslie's Tomato Soup

1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 Tablespoon butter
2 cans Campbell's condensed Tomato Soup
1 can chicken broth
1 can stewed tomatoes
½ cup sour cream
fresh ground pepper to taste
crisp bacon, chopped (for garnish - optional, but delicious!)

Sauté onions in butter. Stir in soups, tomatoes and sour cream. Heat and serve topped with chopped crisp bacon.

**Eloise's note: I added some fresh basil because I wanted to use what's left in my herb garden before the cold gets it. I also puréed the soup with my immersion blender before serving; my friend Leslie prefers a chunkier texture. Either way it's delicious!

Pumpkin Bars
adapted from this recipe on

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
4 eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil

Sift together dry ingredients. Stir in pumpkin, eggs and oil. Spread batter in greased 15½ x 10½ x 1" baking sheet. Bake at 350º for 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack before frosting.

Frosting: 6 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
5 Tablespoons butter, room temperature

Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and butter together until smooth. Spread frosting over cooled cake in a thin layer. Refrigerate until cold then cut into bars (can be cut at room temperature, but it is messier). Makes 24.

Please forgive the bad pictures; the ladies I was sitting with for lunch thought I was crazy, I'm sure, for photographing my plate. I was too embarrassed to explain or take more!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dots the baker.


Dots had a Revolutionary War assignment for school that she worked on this weekend.

For her project Dots decided to bake a cake in the shape of the Liberty Bell (she also had to write a report about the Liberty Bell). She made the whole cake from scratch using this recipe from the Gourmet cookbook. Dots baked the cake in a 9x13 pan and then used a paper template she had cut out based roughly on the measurements from this website to slice the rectangle into a bell shape.

The cake after Dots had cut and assembled it

For the frosting Dots used the buttercream recipe on the box of Domino's Powdered Sugar, adding varying amounts of melted chocolate to achieve different shades of brown. She pasted facts about the Liberty Bell around the side of the box holding the cake.

Dots frosting the cake. She used a slightly lighter brown for the bell itself and darker shades for the wood holding the bell and for the details

Outlining the bell and adding finishing touches


I thought Dots' project turned out quite well and am very proud of her!


Ready to take to school tomorrow

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rangers to the World Series!

photos from the Dallas Morning News

As a lifelong baseball fan, I am SO excited that the Texas Rangers are back in the World Series! I look forward to watching each game and cheering them on.


Robert and I were able to attend Game One of the American League Championship Series with Will and his friend, Ty. Despite two hours' worth of rain delays, we had a great time.

We've been invited to Game Three of the World Series, and I can hardly wait! Go, Rangers!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Catching up on Cooking Club.

Yikes! I have not posted on my Cooking Club in a long time! So long, in fact, that we have started a new cookbook and have almost completed our rotation with it.

Our latest cookbook selection, Savor the Moment from the Junior League of Boca Raton, was recommended by a commenter on my blog. Thanks, Bridget! Our group has really enjoyed Savor the Moment.

Here are some pictures and menus from some of our gatherings over the past year (in December and April I neglected to bring my camera):

September 2011
Cooking Club September 11
We kicked off the new school year with a delicious lunch at Elizabeth's beautiful home

Alligator Eye Dip
Creamy Cucumber Soup
Sour Cream Banana Bread
Sun-dried Tomato Potato Salad
Picnic Rice with Cranberries
Chicken with Goat Cheese and Roasted Bell Peppers
Bourbon Butter-Glazed Cake

May 2011
Cooking Club May 11
We dined al fresco at Meredith's on a gorgeous spring day in Dallas. Sadly, we also bade farewell to our wonderful friend Lynne who was moving to Arkansas :(

Wild Mushroom Brie
Mesclun with Walnut-crusted Goat Cheese Rounds
Black Bottom Soup
Petite Butter Rolls (me)
Artichokes and Spinach
Grilled Rosemary Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Salsa
Frozen Lemon Mousse (notice the beautiful antique long-stemmed glasses Lynne brought to serve this in)

March 2011
Cooking Club March 11

Macadamia-Stuffed Mushrooms
Town and Country Salad
Cantaloupe Champagne Soup
Stuffed Bread
Garlic Soufflé (me - I was so proud of how this turned out!)
Baja Shrimp
Cinderella Cheesecake

I'm including this bigger picture because my friend Barenda sets the prettiest table of anyone I know! I covet her beautiful silver pheasants

February 2011
Cooking Club February 11
My friend Ellen is incredibly creative. The black and white cachepots with the white hydrangeas in the center of her table had red hots around the plants. So very cute! Ellen also made these precious placecards for each person's seat. Her favor was a pad of little food-themed page flag post-its

page flags
Chef Set Page Flags - click here to see them online

Sahara Dates
Buttermilk Chive Biscuits
Best Friends Iced Coffee Frappé
Mixed Greens with Phoenician Dressing (me)
Garden Sandwich
Parmesan Cheese-Crusted Zucchini
Sausage and Chicken Jambalaya
Cappuccino Sundaes

January 2011
Cooking Club January 11
We gathered on a cold winter's day at our friend Thayer's. She served one of our best-ever entrées

Menu: Pesto Bleu Cheese Tartlets (me)
Florida Spritzer
Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Soup
Shitake and Warm Corn Salad
Potato and Wild Mushroom Galette
Herbed Beef Tenderloin with Shallot Wine Sauce
Raspberry Cream Pie

November 2011
Cooking Club November 10
I'm hosting again next week in place of my friend Lynne. I'm afraid my table is going to look very similar as I'll probably be using the same linens!

Walnut and Gorgonzola Crostini
Carrot Soup with Dill
Baby Greens with Pears
Provolone and Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Bread with Garlic Spread
Scalloped Potatoes and Butternut Squash with Leeks
Bourbon-Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Sour Cream Sauce (me)
Fruit Tea Cranberry Cheesecake (from Peace Meals)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Vivian at school.


I was a substitute teacher at Vivian's high school last week, and during my off-period I stopped by Vivian's classroom to observe. I was so impressed with how engaged the students were and with how much Vivian's teachers were able to get her to do!

Here Vivian is reading with her teacher Ms. B. Vivian has learned quite a few sight words and is able to read them in these books

Vivian practices her writing by tracing letters with Mrs. Kemp

Vivian does a "work job" with Mr. Ripley (this one involved matching opposites)

If Vivian stays on task without melting down, she earns check marks. After three check marks, Vivian can do an activity that she chose earlier

Today's reward was listening to Arthur's Halloween

Vivian later in the cafeteria. I was amazed at how well Vivian did amongst all the noise and activity there!

Vivian at a pep rally. Vivian calls it the "pepperoni"

Yesterday Mrs. Kemp sent me this video of Vivian in her Partners PE class. I asked Vivian last night what she used to hit the ball in PE, and she told me a "hockey puck stick." Then she added, "Just like Will."