Monday, December 21, 2009

Biscotti for my Santa

My mother's recipe for biscotti is the best!

Mother's Biscotti

2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. anise seed
3 eggs
2 Tbsp. orange-flavored liquer OR 2 Tbsp. water + 1 tsp. orange extract OR 2 tsp. oil of anise OR lemon extract - I only use the anise seed since for me it is strong enough)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. slivered almonds, toasted lightly

Stir together flour and baking powder. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add anise seed, eggs and liquid; beat thoroughly. Blend in flour mixture. Stir in almonds. Chill dough until firm, about 1 1/2 hours. Divide dough in half; shape each half on lightly floured surface to flat loaf about 2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Place loaves 6 inches apart on 15 X 18 inch greased baking sheet. Bake 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes. Cut loaves diagonally into slices 1/2 inch thick. Place slices, cut side down, close together on baking sheet. Return to oven and bake 12 - 15 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Cool on wire rack. Store in airtight container. About 3 doz.
I make several batches of this recipe and use dried cranberries in some of them. Really good.

Biscotti is great in coffee or hot tea, but try it in red wine. Delish!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pappadeaux’s Sweet Potato – Pecan Pie

                      Pappadeaux’s Sweet Potato – Pecan Pie with Bourbon Sauce

Sweet potato filling:
1 ¼ c. cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (2 medium potatoes)
¼ c. each: packed brown sugar and granulated sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ c. whipping cream
¼ tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
¾ tsp each: ground cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg
3 Tbsp. softened butter (1 ½ oz.)
1 unbaked pie crust for a single crust 10” pie (can use deep dish crust)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine sweet potatoes, sugars, egg, cream, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and butter in electric mixer bowl and beat at medium-low speed until smooth. Do not over mix.

To assemble pie, spoon sweet potato filling into pastry-lined pan. Fill shell evenly to the top with Pecan Pie filling. Bake 1 ½ hours or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Store at room temperature 24 hours. Serve slices with Bourbon Sauce on top or on the side. Makes 8 – 10 servings.

Pecan Pie Filling:
1 ¼ cups each: sugar and dark corn syrup
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp. Unsalted butter, softened
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 ¼ c. chopped pecans

Combine sugar, syrup, eggs, butter, vanilla, salt and cinnamon in electric mixer bowl and beat on low speed until syrup is opaque, about 4 – 5 minutes. Stir in pecans, mixing well.

Bourbon Sauce: (enough for 2 pies)
1 ½ c. whipping cream
1 c. milk
1 (4 serving size) pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
3 Tbs. Bourbon, brandy or rum
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine cream and milk in a large mixing bowl. Slowly whip in pudding mix. Add bourbon and continue whipping. Add vanilla and whip until mixture is blended to sauce consistency (should not be as firm as pudding but not runny). Sauce should be made 1 hour before use; it will thicken as it sits.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I could say that my husband is a "snoop"!

Ever since my husband was a little boy he has "snooped" into his Christmas presents. His parents had to send the Christmas gifts to the neighbor's house in an effort to keep him out of the packages. He didn't consider that a problem at all. He just waited until the neighbors were gone and then he "snooped"!  (No one locked their house doors in the old days... remember?) He remembers getting up in the middle of the night and unwrapping everyone's presents and wrapping them back up. I've asked him time and again, "Didn't that spoil the surprise for you?" He always answers with a laugh, a twinkle in his eye and a resounding, "NO!" I just think is so odd. I would never want to spoil a surprise for myself, but, as my aunt says, "That's what makes horse racing!"

(I am just now figuring out why my husband does such a good job wrapping presents when I request help. He's had lots of practice.)

Do you have a snooper... that you know of??

Friday, December 18, 2009

My First Christmas Cloche

My First Christmas Cloche

This is not as fancy as some I have seen, but it was a tricky one to do and I'm pleased. Wish this picture would show the glow from the glass balls. They are very, very heavy. I bought them in Tlaquepaque, Mexico, a "suburb" of Guadalajara. I had to hold my breath when I turned the glass cloche over with those heavy balls. I was worried the dome would crack. They are placed on a Mexican pewter cake stand.

Are you having a hard time calling it "quits" on the decorating and cooking? I keep seeing one more thing I could do. I have to stop that!

It's an unusual holiday time for us. My husband is at our business in Mexico right now and will hopefully be home on Wednesday. Just one of those things! I am definitely getting more done than if he was here, but I sure do miss him. Lucky man though... he is attending our granddaughter's Christmas program in Mexico, where our son and his family live. Hopefully I will have a picture to post at some point.

Santa - this one is enough to scare anyone!!

Santa - 1954

It's a wonder we were all tramatized by this Santa. When we would spend Christmas with my maternal grandparents, "Jean" and "Gumpy", we would be treated by a visit from Santa himself. This Santa suit dated back to the 1920's. The mask was incredibly bizarre! I remember getting so caught up in the moment of his arrival that it was perfectly okay with me that Santa either wore my grandfather's Aggie ring or my uncle's Tulane ring. What a cooincidence! In later years one of my brothers would dress in the same costume and entertain my oldest son and youngest brother. Great memories!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas 1954

Christmas 1954

My mother and sister (left) and I all had matching "dusters" that my grandmother had made for us. That was such fun for us all to be dressed alike. You can barely tell but this is the Christmas that I had the mumps!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Feliz Navidad from Carmen and David

Merry Christmas from Mexico!
Carmen and David - 2009

My grandchildren live in Mexico... too far for a quick drive to Abuela and Pop's home. Thank goodness for iPhones and being able to send pictures back and forth. This Christmas tree is in Carmen's bedroom. I think it's beautiful!

Monday, December 14, 2009

How to make English Dainties and Mother B's Fruitcake

English Dainties

First step:

1/4 lb. butter
1 1/4 c. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking powder

Mix well and press into a buttered 8"x8" square pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until light tan color. (I doubled this recipe)

Second step:

1 egg
1/4 c. coconut
1 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1 c. finely chopped pecans
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix and spread over first part and bake slowly (325 degees) until moisture is all gone, about 15 - 20 minutes. Cool and ice with:

Final step:


1/8 lb. butter
Juice of 1 lemon
Enough powdered sugar to make a spread

When spread, allow to dry well and then cut into squares.

Mother B's Fruitcake
makes 2 loaves

2 lbs. candied fruit
1 package shredded coconut
1 lbs. or less of chopped pecans
2 cans of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk

Mix thoroughly fruit, coconut and nuts. Add milk and mix again. Grease (or use Pam) loaf pans and then line with wax paper. (I spray with Pam again.) Press mixture into the pans and baake at 250 degrees for 3 hours for a dark cake or
1 1/2 hours for a lighter cake.

English Danties and Mother B's Fruitcake

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yes, Virginia... there ARE people who like fruitcake!

English Dainties and Fruitcake

I just love our English Dainty recipe story. My grandfather was managing the large hotel in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The chef working there would make this wonderful recipe called English Dainties. My grandmother (Mother "B" who has been featured in my postings in the past) wanted the recipe for the bar cookies with the slightly tangy frosting. The chef would not give her the recipe... so my grandmother bought it! For $100 (and mind you this was back in the early 1940's) the chef sold the recipe to her. It's just not Christmas without it.

Now as for the fruitcake. Yummo! And if you are on a fairly strict gluten-free diet, this recipe qualifies. It's just candied fruit, sweetened condensed milk, coconut and nuts. I suppose fruitcake can be one of those "acquired" cravings. I never much cared for it as a child, but love it now.

I remember that when we would receive a fruitcake in the mail and as often times would happen... it would go stale before being eaten. My mother would pour a little bourbon over it, wrap it in cheese cloth and store it in the freezer for next year. Next Christmas she would thaw the fruitcake, slice it, dredge it in powdered sugar and serve it that way. All of the adults would rave over it!

Tune in tomorrow if you are interested in recipes.

Ruby Opal Heath Boykin - "Mother 'B'"
1907 - Rochelle, Texas

Monday, December 7, 2009

Helloooo, Santa!

This picture of my youngest brother was taken in 1961. I just love it! He sure was curious about "Santa"!

I am out of town right now and it is difficult for me to post much, but I'll be back home late Friday. Everyone have a great week!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

We have a "head" now, Houston!

Here is the BIG bow almost everyone suggested. My sweet, talented niece came by today and added the bow with the tree topper. Didn't she do a great job? Thanks, DeAnnie!

I loved the bird nest idea and think I will try that next year. Maybe I'll find a real nest somewhere. (I can hear my mother now.. "Watch out for those mites!"  ;-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Please help! I have a headless Christmas tree.

I've worked and worked today to get my Christmas tree decorated (including an emergency trip to Hobby Lobby for garlands for my mantel) and I simply cannot figure out what to put on top of the tree that is big enough. My two tree toppers are too small. I've used a bow in the past but I've never been real happy with that... mainly because I don't know how to tie a pretty bow. Any suggestions??? "Easy" is the by-word.

Oh, you want to see my mantel? Well, mind you we have just finished our "redo" and I have not bought a new fireplace grill yet. Those are a little tough to find in deep South Texas. But I actually saw one at Target that might... might work.

Oh, you want to see my mantel? Where here it is, photographed with my iPhone... so not too clear. It is much brighter than it looks. But thanks to Hobby Lobby, I have a new look for the fireplace this year. (I'm think about a broad gold ribbon woven through it might look nice.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Turkey Pot Pie and Turkey/Dressing Scrapple

Turkey Pot Pie

After the men got the Christmas tree put together I let them know that the turkey pot pie was ready to eat. Wow! I guess they were really hungry because it looks like they're on their way to polishing it off. True confession: I use the Pillsbury ready-made pie crusts because I think they are wonderful and far, far better than I could ever make. I even use the recipe inside the box for turkey pot pie. yummmm! (That's my son digging in!)

After coming in from the ranch where my husband hunted and we enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with friends/fellow hunters out there, I hit it hard with the washing and making a few creations with all the leftovers.


Have you ever heard of scrapple? Well, I know you Easterners have, but I'm referring to turkey scrapple that is just part of our after-Thanksgiving menu. This was a concoction made by my father's mother, Ruby Opal Heath Boykin, absolutely one of THE best Texas cooks I've ever known. Mother "B" is what we called her in our adult years, "Bum "B"', in our younger years. This is how you make Scrapple - Mother "B"'s style:
  • Pick the leftover turkey meat from the bones and cut into smaller than bite-size pieces and place in a Dutch oven
  • Add leftover dressing (I wouldn't add the nuts, if there are any in the dressing) and add about an equal amount to the turkey
  • Pour some leftover gravy so that it sort of becomes a dry mush (Isn't this sounding delicious?)
  • Cook a big pot of grits and add it to the turkey mixture. I keep enough out to pour about 1/4" in the bottom of a "Pam'd" loaf pan. The point is to make the grits your binder. If there is too much dressing then the mixture will crumble after chilling.
  • Pour the turkey, dressing, gravy, grits mixture into the loaf pan(s)
  • Cover with foil and chill overnight or all day.
  • When chilled, turn out onto a cutting board and cut into thick slices (an inch or a little more).
  • Dredge in flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper, dip in beaten egg, dredge in flour again.
  • Fry in oil in a frying pan until crisp. (I love using a cast iron skillet for this)
  • Serve for breakfast or a quick lunch.
I know that this probably looks like just a homemade, thought-up recipe... and it probably is because I have never found anyone who has a recipe that even slightly resembles this. But I promise you... it is fantastic with fried eggs, fried bacon, fried sausage, biscuits, toast, butter, homemade plum preserves (my grandmother's of course with two pits left in to make it tart!) or honey, milk, coffee, juice. For sure I know what we're eating for breakfast tomorrow!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My "Thankful Bowl"

My "Thankful Bowl"

This is probably the most unattractive bowl in my possession. Yes, it is Tupperware. I cannot remember when I bought it, but it was a long, long time ago. Notice the old almost  harvest gold color? I have even managed to save the lid.... somewhere.

This bowl has mixed many delicious foods for my family as well as serviced our kitchen needs to a "T".
I love this bowl... and let me give you a list why:

1. For all the bowls of popcorn that I prepared for our family of three boys... men now! I am thankful for the fun times our family had... watching sports on television or enjoying a movie. Nowadays, I am thankful for the bowls of popcorn my husband and I share, sitting shoulder to shoulder on the couch watching just about the same events on TV.
2. For the fact it has held together for surely 20+ years with nary a major scratch or scar. It teaches me to put my best foot forward, ready to serve others and to look joyful... and BE joyful. I am thankful for the opportunities.
3. It has fit perfectly in my kitchen sink from Rio Grande City, Texas to Mission, Texas to Guadalajara, Mexico, Tecoman, Mexico and then back to Mission. I am thankful that this bowl never gave up on me and was a friendly and familiar "pal", helping me to wash dishes for my family... often far, far from home. There is nothing much more to be thankful for than a plate of food. My mother-in-law taught me never to tire of washing dishes. Be thankful for the food we had to serve it on. Yes!

So, have a thankful and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! And hopefully you have a "thankful bowl" too.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Redo Is Complete!

The remodeling is complete. Now I have to start redecorating. The colors are so different. I know, I know... the little hankies on the shelves are crooked but I had a little extra help today and you just can't complain when people are helping out. I have had so many people wanting to know if my project was complete I had to go ahead an post a few pictures.

This is a brief reminder of what things looked like about three weeks ago. The new wood floors had already been put in, but now I have granite counter tops, stone back splash, induction cook stove, new dishwasher, sink, faucet, green wallpaper gone and walls painted. My double ovens have not arrived yet... probably the week of December 1st. The glass front cabinets are going to be reorganized.
So there we have our project almost finished. I guess you're never really done, right?
Shhh... please, don't tell my husband that, okay?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Texas A&M University - Bonfire Rememberance

A bonfire about 12 years ago at Texas A&M University

At approximately 2:30 a.m. on November 18, 1999, the 40-foot (12 m) high stack, consisting of about 5000 logs, collapsed during construction. Of the 58 students and former students working on the stack, 12 were killed and 27 were injured. Within minutes of the collapse, members of Texas Task Force 1, the state's elite emergency response team, arrived to begin the rescue efforts. Rescue operations took over 24 hours; the pace was hampered by the fact that many of the logs were removed by hand for fear that using heavy equipment to remove them would cause further collapses, resulting in further injuries to those still trapped. Students, including the entire Texas A&M football team and many members of the university's Corps of Cadets, rushed to the site to assist rescue workers with manually removing the logs. The Texas A&M civil engineering department was also called on to examine the site and help the workers decide the order in which the logs could be safely removed, and, at the request of the Texas Forest Service, Steely Lumber Company in Huntsville, Texas sent log-moving equipment and operators.  Bonfire survivor John Comstock was the last living person to be removed from the stack. He spent months in the hospital following amputation of his left leg and partial paralysis of his right side. Comstock returned to A&M in 2001 to finish his degree.
Our middle son (following in the tradition of his father) worked on building the bonfire. He had worked on the previous shift and was spared this horrific tragedy as far as bodily injury. However, he lost friends and some friends were injured. Our son called us about 5 a.m. just to say, "Dad, I'm okay. There's been an accident on the bonfire. Turn on your TV." That was all we heard from him for hours.

Tuesday night we will attend a memorial service to remember the students who lost their lives, those injured and those who will never forget this terrible tragedy.

Sister Schubert's Breakfast Rolls

A Friend's Sister Schubert Breakfast Rolls

1 pkg. Sister Schubert's Parker House Rolls
2 c. diced ham
8 oz. bag of shredded cheese
1/2 stick butter
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1/2 Tbsp. dry mustard
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp. poppy seed
1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire


Partially thaw the rolls and slice the entire pan of rolls in half. Spread about 2 c. of diced ham over the rolls. Cover the ham with shredded cheese. Cover with top layer of rolls.

Mix the remaining ingredients with the melted butter. Drizzle the topping over the top of the rolls and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Check to be sure the bottom of the tolls are brown. To serve, cut into the roll shapes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunset at Las Islas Ranch

As soon as the painters left on Friday (many of you know that I am having quite a "redo" on first floor of our home) my husband and I took off for the deer lease which is about an hour and fiften minutes from our home. We own half of a duplex at Las Islas Ranch which is located in deep south Texas. We desperately needed a weekend of R&R.. the a.c. was on, cable television and all the appliances were working! Ahhhhh!!  A beautiful sunset greeted us as we pulled into our little place. A pleasant weekend of visiting with friends was all we needed to face another hectic week in this torn up home. We do think though that this will be the final week. The backsplash needs installing in the kitchen along with crown molding in the kitchen and breakfast nook. The new double ovens, induction cooktop and dishwasher should complete the job! We shall see... stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Who said, "Let's texture and paint?"

This has been an incredible challenge, however, we are hanging in there. Tomorrow the painting will begin.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

God bless our Veterans!

My father, Cal Boykin, Jr. was a veteran of WW II. In this picture he is the young man on the top of this armored car. He was a gunner. This picture was discovered many years after the war and was actually the cover of a magazine. The picture was found by my uncle!

To the right is a close-up of my dad. He had just finished his freshman year at Texas A&M University when it became obvious that most young men were about to be called up for duty. He went ahead and enlisted and soon found himself at Ft. Hood in Kileen, Texas for his basic training. Later he was involved in many battles, paticipating in the surge that was part of the Battle of the Bulge.
Yes... I am so very proud of my father who served his country. He passed away October 23, 2008.

My husband, David, served in the U.S. Air Force and was a Munitions Officer during the Vietnam war. He spent four years in the Air Force and then went to work for the family farming business.
These are two veterans that I truly am proud of!
God bless America
God bless our men and women who serve our country

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Mess!

My husband, son and I, left behind the craziness of the home "redo" for a weekend at the deer lease in deep south Texas. No hunting this weekend, just some much needed R&R.

But this is what we had to face this Monday morning!

There just doesn't seem to be any way to deal with this mess unless you hire a moving company to come in and pack you up for the duration. I told my husband that if we had been in high cotton this year, that is exactly what we would have done! Actually I am learning that this is a lesson in endurance.

The painters will be back tomorrow, so will the electrician and also the carpenter. Also the backsplash will be put in and hopefully the dishwasher. The cooktop was returned because of some defective spots and a scratch.  A new one is on its way. The BIG deal tomorrow will be staining the kitchen island... something black with copper undertones. We shall see....

Thanks to my sweet neighbor, Laura, who came down and settled my nerves and helped get me on the right track with the paint.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

No Pictures

There are no pictures tonight, friends. The mess is so incredible I cannot bear to record it. The project is growing... painting and a little fix here and a little fix there. I am moving "stuff" from one room to the next, trying to stay ahead of the workmen. When will this be finished?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The latest on the granite

This evening I we had a dinner meeting to attend and when I walked into my kitchen I just could not get over the difference this "redo" is making.

We had our first glitch today. The stove top has a scratch in it. I should have opened to box when I signed for it. How foolish of me! Anyhow, it is getting worked out.

The project is going to take longer than we had planned (they had said five working days) and that is only because I keep adding to the things I want done. I am sure that is typical. Well, if you have the workmen there... might as well get some painting done and a few light fixtures replaced... ya-da, ya-da, ya-da.

Off to bed!!


We have granite!!
Listening to these three men was almost painful. They were moaning and groaning as they carried this piece of granite in. It must have weighed about 400 pounds, they said.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Today's progress with the kitchen redo

The sink is gone, the old back splash has been ripped out, the place where the stove top will be installed has been cut. Tomorrow the granite will be here. The small sample at the bottom of the picture is what it is going to look like. I wish the picture was brighter but part of the electricity was turned off, so I am unable to turn all of the kitchen lights on. Looking forward to tomorrow!

Our oldest son and his family

Our son, Lance, and his little family in Mexico where they live. We had such a good time with them last Sunday.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Look, Maw! No stove!!

Look, Maw! No stove!! Yes. Had to go out to eat tonight. I do think my husband will want me to make up for lost time once the appliances are installed. I found out today that the double ovens won't be in until the 15th of this month. At least it wasn't the cooktop. The other appliances will be delivered tomorrow morning.

Very strange when the carpenter and my husband pulled out the old cooktop. I felt a little sad. It had served us well. 26 years to be exact. How nice to know that retirement can be in your future.

Looking forward to tomorrow!

Time out to show pictures from the Halloween party in Mexico

Carmen is on the right. She was a black cat!

David was a ghost. We had bought a ghost costume for him but he was afraid of it. Oh well... he's not even two yet.

We had a "fishing booth" for the kids to fish for toys. That is so new to them. Some of the children bobbed for apples. This little pirate had such a great time with this.

My son and his wife (in blue) and their friends were part of the party. My daughter-in-law (sans wig) read a "scary" story (that I write) to the children. Even the parents really get into the spirit of things and we have a good time. We served pizza and snacks.

Lovely mess!

I hear the electric saw and the dust is flying but it's all going to be worth it... right???

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bye-bye Old Kitchen

Tomorrow around 9 A.M. I will say "adios" to my 26 year old kitchen. Yes... the Formica that was only supposed to be in this kitchen for a couple of years until I  would have tile put in is going to be replaced by granite. I still like tile but I'm so lazy about upkeep I would probably not do right by it. So, the bar is going to be lowered to be level with the counter tops... thus, allowing for more space for buffet serving. I have picked out a dark sink and faucets that I drooled over. The double ovens are being replaced as well as a new cooktop. With all that came a free dishwasher... the only thing I did not need. But ya can't say "no"... so, I said "yes"! I'll try to document the progress. The man in charge of this project has promised speed and little mess. We'll see...
(Yes, that is me in the picture... fresh off the plane from Mexico... my excuse for looking a little weary!)