Roasting and Toasting with S’mores a Hot Toddy and the Space Station


Everything tastes better in the great outdoors…especially s’mores!

This fall, our family started a Sunday night tradition of roasting marshmallows and looking for the Space Station. So far, we’ve been lucky to have clear Texas night skies and being able to spot the Space Station…even if it’s only for a few minutes.

My son asks, “Can they see us? Who’s in it? And then shouts at the top of his lungs, “HI RUSSIANS!!”


The kids hunt for skinny branches while my husband and I sip a hot toddy then we sit in front of our fire pit toasting our marshmallows and staring at the night sky and watching for the Space Station. We will have sticky fingers and cheeks and our clothes will smell like smoke but it’s all worth the sweet memories being made.

S’mores remind me of my fourth grade Girl Scout camp. Amazingly, the first appearance of a recipe in print was in a 1927 Girl Scout handbook.

This dessert can’t get much simpler…a roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of graham crackers. Those Girl Scouts knew what they were doing!

The ideal nighttime snack deserves an equally cozy drink…the Hot Toddy! A classic cold weather drink that was invented in Scotland in the 1700’s. It’s the drink the cold weather beckons you to enjoy at home…or in your backyard by a fire pit and bundled up in several sweaters and a blanket.

A hot toddy with s’mores is the perfect marriage…especially now that the weather has turned cold. Happy roasting, toasting and watching the Space Station approaching!


Related posts:

Classic Movies and Recipes for an Extended Evening

The Taste of Memory Soup

Classic Mad Men Cocktails


Cocktails have been an essential element of Mad Men from season one. Mad Men has made classic cocktails come back in fashion.

Entertaining in the 60’s often featured cocktails, not wine. When Julia Child published “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in 1961, that was about the time Americans became interested in wine. There weren’t too many popular wineries in America. Betty was ahead of her time serving wine at her dinner parties because cocktails were still all the rage in the 60’s.

I feel nostalgic for that era and I’m a child of the 70’s! The music (when Don Draper takes his daughter to a Beatles concert), the fashion (Betty Draper looks like Grace Kelly with her full skirts and perfect hair) AND the cocktails of the 60’s!! I like the idea of opening an archive to the past. Those historical views make me think of my parents and that makes me smile.

Season seven won’t begin until April 13th. Until then, here are some cocktails to help get you ready for the final season.


The Stolen Negroni

Combine 1 oz gin, 1 oz cynar and 1 oz of aperol in an ice-filled cocktail glass.  Stir well. Strain into a cocktail coupe and serve with an orange twist garnish.

The fruity and flowery flavor of the Aperol gives it just the right amount of sweetness. It’s a perfect apéritif and the color is so beautiful. I imagine Betty enjoying this cocktail in Italy when she went to Rome with Don. 

If you like the Stolen Negroni, then try the Negroni Flip too!

Brandy Alexander

First, moisten the rim of a cocktail glass and glide the rim along a plate of ground nutmeg to coat the edges.

Combine 2 ounces brandy, a 1/2 ounce white crème de cacao, and a 1/2 ounce of heavy cream in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into the cocktail glass and grate nutmeg over top, to taste.

The Brandy Alexander is perfect for fall evenings. Who needs desert when you can drink this! Peggy Olson ordered this cocktail to show off her sophistication and get her through an unsuccessful date.

The Old-Fashioned

To start, place a sugar cube in a rocks glass. Sprinkle with 2 or 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and a splash of water or club soda. Add a citrus wheel and cherry. Muddle the sugar cube and rotate the glass so that the sugar grains, bitters line the bottom and to release fruit juices. Add a large ice cube and 2 ounces of rye whiskey.

One of my favorite Mad Men scenes was when Don Draper makes an Old-Fashioned for Conrad Hilton when the there was no barman around. This is Don Draper’s signature cocktail. He even has his daughter make it for him at home. 


“You need three ingredients for a cocktail. Vodka and Mountain Dew is an emergency.” ~Peggy Olson

“You don’t know how to drink. Your whole generation, you drink for the wrong reasons. My generation, we drink because it’s good, because it feels better than unbuttoning your collar, because we deserve it. We drink because it’s what men do.” ~Roger Sterling

Have a drink, It’ll make me look younger.” ~Roger Sterling


More Mad Men…

25 Things You Didn’t Know About Mad Men

The 7 Best Musical Moments of Mad Men

Don Drapers Guide to America


Juliet & Romeo: a cocktail with kisses for Juliet’s birthday

juliet and romeo

Letters to Juliet

September in Verona, Italy is when the town celebrates Juliet Capulet’s birthday. Hundreds of years ago, Shakespeare made Verona famous with his play, Romeo and Juliet that was based on the life of two real young lovers who both died for each other and lived in Verona in 1303.

People go to Verona to gaze at the “Wall of Letters” written by romantics all around the world. By the 1900’s, Verona was receiving so many letters for Juliet that they created an office…The Juliet Club.


Juliet’s balcony in Verona, Italy

Playwright and poet, William Shakespeare was an expert on the subject of love and romance. Here are five favorite quotes from Romeo and Juliet:

Don’t waste your love on somebody, who doesn’t value it.

For never was a story of more woe that this of Juliet and her Romeo.

When he shall die, Take him and cut him out in little stars, And he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night And pay no worship to the garish sun.

My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep; the more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite.

Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow.


Juliet & Romeo cocktail

The Juliet & Romeo is a beautiful and delicious cocktail. You don’t have to be a lover of gin to enjoy it but being a romantic is essential… kissed with rose water it will warm your heart. It’s the kind of cocktail that I imagine Hemingway would have sipped on a September afternoon in Paris.

Juliet & Romeo

2 oz gin (Beefeater)

3/4 oz fresh lime juice

3/4 oz simple syrup

3 drops rose water

3 drops Angostura bitters

3 slices cucumber

3 sprigs mint

1 pinch salt

Muddle cucumber, mint and pinch of salt. Add rest of ingredients. Let sit for a moment. Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with 1 floating mint leaf and additional rose water drops.

Cin cin and buon compleanno, Juliet! xx

Meatloaf You Want Your Mother To Make

When my daughter was about six months old, I remember making meatloaf on a cold day. When I fed her a tender bite, I felt cozy on the inside…as if I had just taken that first bite.

Fall is in the air and I’m craving comfort foods like Julia Child’s beef bourguignon, chicken pot pie and meatloaf. Let it be Sunday…kids playing outside, Cowboys are on tv and meatloaf is in the oven.

There is an art to making a really good meatloaf. It should be moist but firm and have a swirl of savory flavors that accentuate the meat.

My mom has always said, “Never eat anyone’s meatloaf but your mother’s.” I think it’s because she has anticipated a really good meatloaf only to be disappointed…too many times.

I promise that THIS meatloaf will be the one you want your mother to make from now on.

meatloaf6 meatloaf5 meatloaf4

meatloaf2 meatloaf1

Meatloaf You Want Your Mother To Make

3 torn slices of white bread

1 C whole milk

3 eggs

1 large onion, finely chopped

8-10 roma tomatoes, pureed (reserve 1/2 of puree for sauce)

2 stalks of celery, finely chopped

1-2 garlic, finely chopped

1/4 C parsley, finely chopped

2 T Worcestershire sauce

1 T salt and pepper

2 lb ground chuck

1 ground pork

Top with BBQ 

4 oz pancetta, diced

1/2 C onion,  chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

pour in the reserve tomato puree

1/4 C yellow mustard

3 T red wine vinegar

3 T brown sugar

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 and prepare three disposable aluminum loaf pans (cutting slits in the corners) on a foil-lined baking sheet with a cooling rack set on the top.

Combine bread, milk and eggs in a large mixing bowl and soak about 25 minutes.

Saute onion, half of tomato puree, celery, and garlic in olive oil for about 4 minutes then cool.

Add Worcestershire, parsley, salt and pepper and the tomato mixture to the bread mixture.

Fold in ground beef and pork using two forks.

Saute pancetta in the same skillet. Add onion, red bell pepper and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer for 3 additional minutes then top over meatloaves before baking.

Leftover meatloaf also makes the perfect sandwich.



View Life Through Rosé-Colored Glasses


A cool rosé goes so well with hazy summer nights. The wines are refreshingly light and one of the most delightful sips of the season. A chilled glass garnished with a summer fruit, like a strawberry or grapefruit, can be the perfect accompaniment to a variety of dinners .

I have an obsession with pink wine. Most rosés are made from red grapes and get their color from short contact with the skins.

Everything about it makes me happy. ..the color pink, how the name makes me think of roses, but especially the delicate taste. When you sip rosé, you can’t help but view life through rose-colored glasses.

This charming wine is also one of the most versatile with food. It can go with fish, Tex-Mex, steak, BBQ or pizza. My favorite rosés are creamy and sparkle your insides with fruity, peppery pinot tastes. They can be elegant or casual.

I do think rosé is typically a summer drink…from the months of May through September. But, rosés aren’t just for summer. Now is the time to stock up for fall before your favorite rosé is in short supply. Think about how good it would taste with turkey at Thanksgiving. Yes, rosés should be enjoyed year-round.

The most famous rosés are from southern France but you can find enjoyable rosés from other countries too…think Spain, Italy, South Africa and Portugal.


It’s time to stock up and keep sipping into the fall. Here are a few bouquet of rosés:

2011 Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rosé, France

2012 Las Rocas de San Alejandro Rosé, Spain 

Lillet Rosé, France

Batasiolo Moscato Rosé, Italy 

2013 Miraval Rosé, France

Three Happy Cows: Back And Better Than Ever!


Yogurt has always been a staple in our house. We favor Greek yogurt to have with breakfast, lunch and dinner…it’s the perfect food for any time of the day.

Three Happy Cows has a huge Texas following and is back after a fire destroyed their plant, forcing them to stop production for several months. The company is named Three Happy Cows because cows produce the best tasting yogurt when they’re happy and healthy.

Their new flavor, vanilla bean, will have you hiding yogurt in secret pockets of the refrigerator because it’s coveted by the whole family. I like to pack lunches for my children with Three Happy Cows drinkable yogurts (mango is my son’s favorite).

The vanilla bean is so rich and delicious and the caramel so naturally sweet that it’s hard to pick a favorite. My fruit loving children often request strawberry and blueberry. I’ll admit to being nearly hooked on mere anticipation of the soon to be introduced honey flavor but truly every flavor has a fork-worthy texture that will make you say, “This is the BEST yogurt I have EVER tasted!” 

I love the fact that Three Happy Cows is made in Dallas, Texas with fresh milk from happy cows. It’s a wholesome super food that you can feel good about feeding to your family.

These happy cows help keep us mooooving!

You can find Three Happy Cows at Central Market, Sprouts, Market Street and several others. Happy eating!

You might also enjoy this post:
Homemade Yogurt: Bring on the Pleasure

Anne Burrell: Valentine’s Day recipe and upcoming premier

“Reprinted from Own Your Kitchen. Copyright (c) 2013 by Anne Burrell. Photographs copyright (c) 2013 by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House LLC.”

I’ve been a fan of Anne Burrell ever sense I watched her as Mario Batali’s sous chef cracking eggs one-handed at lightening speed on Iron Chef…I want to crack eggs like Anne! It’s easy to relate to her love of Italian food (especially pasta)! Her simple approach to pure and rustic food just makes sense.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day! Enjoy this Cappuccino Panna Cotta recipe, courtesy of Anne Burrell on behalf of Food Network’s series, Worst Cooks in America.

Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay are back to transform kitchen disasters into skilled cooks in the fifth season of Worst Cooks in America.  Premiering on Monday, February 17th at 9pm ET/PT, the seven-episode season pits formerly undefeated series champ Anne against last season’s winner Bobby, each leading a team of disastrous cooks in an intense culinary boot camp designed to turn them into confident kitchen heroes.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Happy Cooking! Happy Premier for two of my favorite chefs, Anne and Bobby! xx

cappuccino panna cotta with chocolate sauce

Serves 4

Time: About 30 minutes active and at least 2 hours to chill

Mise en Place

For the panna cotta
4 sheets of gelatin
3 cups heavy cream
3⁄4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1⁄2 vanilla bean
1⁄2 cup chocolate-covered espresso beans, for garnish

For the chocolate sauce
4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1⁄4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

For the panna cotta:
In a small bowl of cool water, submerge the gelatin sheets to soften. They will go from stiff to soft, kind of like the texture of a giant contact lens. Feel one—it’s SO cool!
In a small saucepan, combine the cream, sugar, and espresso powder. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise down one side, open it up, and scrape out the seeds with a paring knife. Add the seeds and the hull to the pan. Whisk to combine everything.
Bring the cream mixture to a boil and then immediately turn off the heat. Remove the softened gelatin sheets from the water and squeeze out the excess water. Add the gelatin sheets to the pan and whisk to combine.
Immediately ladle the cream mixture into four 6-ounce ramekins and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours or overnight.

For the chocolate sauce:
Fill a small saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring it to a boil.
In a medium heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate chips, heavy cream, butter, and corn syrup. Place the bowl on top of the pan of water (this is a double-boiler setup). Reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir until the chocolate has melted and all the ingredients are combined. Remove and use immediately or store in a warm place until ready to use.

To unmold the panna cotta:
Fill a small saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Run a paring knife around the outside edge of the panna cotta to loosen it. Set each ramekin in the saucepan for 10 seconds. Place a small serving plate on top of each ramekin and flip it over to unmold the panna cotta. If it doesn’t release, put the ramekin in the water for a few seconds more and try again.
To serve, ladle a couple tablespoons of the chocolate sauce around the panna cotta and sprinkle with a few chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Note: If you can’t find gelatin sheets, you can substitute powdered gelatin, but first you need to “bloom” it in water—which just means dissolving it in a little bit of water until it looks sort of like jelly. It takes only a few minutes. Then you need to dissolve it with your hot liquid—it’s easy, but sheets are a lot more fun. To use powdered gelatin in this recipe, first bloom one 1⁄4- ounce envelope in 2 tablespoons water, then add it to the mix, and you’re back to business as usual.



For Valentine’s Day dinner, we almost always eat pasta. Usually, we make our Italian favorite, spaghetti and clams. This year we’re experimenting with beet ravioli. It’s a Valentine’s color, delicious and the ultimate interactive fun to have with your kids. Food tastes better when you’ve made it together.

Pasta is a food that makes everybody happy. It’s perfect for kids because kids love to make a mess and they can get really creative in the kitchen.

For Valentine’s Day Beet Ravioli:

basic pasta dough:
3 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup semolina flour
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons water, if needed
2-3 small beets

for the filling:
11 oz of goat cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 T chopped chives
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Roast beets at 400 for about an hour. Let them cool then quarter the beets and place in a food processor.  Add the eggs and flours.  Pulse until a ball of dough forms.  Add a little more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until a dough forms that is not dry, but still a little bit sticky. Take the dough out, knead a little on the counter and place on a sheet of floured plastic wrap and wrap. Let rest on the counter for at least 20 minutes.  Cut the dough in quarters and roll out for ravioli. Follow pasta machine instructions for rolling out the dough. We started on a number one and gradually went to a number five which was perfect for our ravioli.

Flour the ravioli mold. Lay a sheet of pasta over the mold and scoop a small spoonful in each little groove. Cover the ravioli with the remaining overlapping sheet. Run a little rolling pin over the top and gently press down. This allows for the ravioli to come out clean. Repeat with the other three quarters.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook half the raviolis (we froze the other half) and cook for about four minutes. Scoop raviolis out of the boiling water and place into a pan of butter and olive oil. Toss gently and serve with a Parmesan (you can also top with hazelnuts, pinenuts, chives, raisins…)

We also made some fettuccine (same recipe without the beets).

This Valentine’s Day, stay home and make pasta.

Also see this pasta inspired post:
Our Daily Pasta

Pumpkin Brulee Cheesecake from

The angels start to sing when people get together over Thanksgiving pie…at least I imagine them singing “hallelujah.” Especially when this season’s pies are the homiest, and most satisfying, somewhat like that rush of good feeling that comes from being warmed by a crackling fire on a cold day. There’s always room for dessert.

This past week, my children and I had a pie baking marathon with my mom and best friend. has the most delectable dessert recipes for Thanksgiving. We gave several pies a try but the one everyone gave an “hallelujah” to was the Pumpkin Brulee Cheesecake.

My husband’s favorite dessert is cheesecake. When I told him that his daughter helped make a Pumpkin Brulee Cheesecake, he sounded as excited as a little boy. Thanksgiving pies do that to us…make us feel like kids hovering over the dessert table just waiting for a slice.

My daughter’s smile says it all. She was just dying to stick her finger into the warm, gooey pie. My favorite pies are the smooth and creamy ones that you add whip cream too. The Pumpkin Brulee Cheesecake was just that…heavenly “hallelujah” good.

We had a grand time making our marathon pies! It’s beginning to feel a lot like Thanksgiving. See our pie making in action here.

Wishing you fun in the kitchen baking with your family…maybe you’ll say “hallelujah” to a pie too!

Happy Thanksgiving! xx

Posts you may have missed:

Not so tricky treats from

My little goblins gobbled up Halloween treats from so fast it was spooky! Little helping hands in the kitchen make the meal taste that much better…especially when the Halloween menu consists of ghostinishot dog mummies and vampire blood tomato soup.   

At our house, we try to celebrate Halloween the whole month of October. The best parts are when the kids can participate and love what they’re making. You can’t go wrong with tomato soup, but when it becomes vampire tomato soup, it just has more of a bite!

These ghostinis couldn’t have been easier for my daughter to make. Plus, cookie cutters make everything taste better.

My little boy loved this spooky version of one of his favorite snacks, pigs in a blanket. When I told him he was making hot dog mummies he was ready to wrap up the dogs and couldn’t wait to eat them.

The spirit of Halloween can be felt in our tummies. These recipes for kids helped to set the mood and brought many smiles with each bite.  

 The Halloween season is alive with color and some not so tricky treats to be enjoyed by the whole family. 

Wishing you a very happy Halloween full of good things to eat. Find more ideas from in their Halloween Section.   

Food Network posts you may have missed: