A Southern Boy Who Likes to Cook

I don’t know who spoke first — Steve Davis or I. When I was at Giant at North Point Village in the checkout line buying several packages of cream cheese, he said, “Someone likes cream cheese.” His tone was friendly and non-intrusive. His line was delivered in such a way that I could ignore it or take the bait. You know me; I never back away from a friendly face and a good chat.

“Oh yes…I’m creating a cheesecake recipe and I need lots of cream cheese to do several tests.” I enjoy inventing my own recipes.”

Steve took my bait and succinctly shared a shrimp-cream-cheese recipe. Then he revealed, “I’ve been cooking since the age of five. One of my first things I made was cookies. Take one cup of peanut butter, one cup of sugar, one egg, stir it up and add chocolate chips.”

“That’s it?” I said.

“That’s it,” he replied.

We packed a lot in during the time it took him to check out my order and get it bagged. Steve has a knack for knowing how much to talk and still get the job done. It seems he got his schooling in cooking at home and from working in restaurants. (There might be more to the story, but you know, we only had a brief time in the checkout line.)

I told Steve about this blog, snapped his photo, and asked him if I could share his recipe.

“Sure,” he said, “I’m not a special feller; I’m just a plain ‘ole country boy in the city.”

The Other Night

Steve works nights, usually the time I am doing my shopping. I was in Giant late one night last week and I asked my checkout guy if he was there. He smiled wryly and said, “Everyone asks for Steve. He talks to all the customers, they love him.”

“Oh, you mean I’m not special?”

“All our customers at Giant are special,” he replied.

Recipe for Steven Davis’ Cookies
Cookies pictured above, Steve pictured here

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg

Mix the three ingredients and add about a cup of chocolate chips. Drop onto cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degree oven. Check the time as it depends on your oven.

Bowls of Comfort

When Bobby G. cooks it is nothing short of excellent. Try his Chicken Noodle Soup. It’s rich yet healthy. The secret? Cooling the soup and skimming off the fat from his homemade stock is key. You just can’t get any better than this recipe.

Recipe for Bobby G’s Chicken Noodle Soup

His recipe hit the big time when it was published in the winter issue of Celebrate Home Magazine (page 42). Download the magazine for free here.

Photo by Cindy Dyer.

Pretty as a Picture

I just love these bottles of dessert wines lined up on my bar. If you walked into our home and saw these waiting for you, wouldn’t you just want to sit down and have a little sip with a bite of dessert? I hope so, because that’s what Kelley Hospitality is all about — making you feel like we were waiting just for you to come by.


Invite a few friends over later in the evening for dessert and wine. To keep it simple serve one wine and one dessert. Serve the first wine on the left — the Moscato D’Asti — it’s light, bubbly and low in alcohol. It pairs well with a cheesecake, pound cake, apple pie, cobbler or the like. If you’re short on time, buy the dessert. If you can’t find the Moscato D’Asti, serve any Spumante. Add some decaf coffee and tea, and you have an easy get together.

For More on Dessert and Wine Pairings

If you want to get a little more elaborate, read a Wintertime Dessert Party in Celebrate Home Magazine (page 44). Photo by Cindy Dyer.


So Beautiful…and So Edible

My petite chocolate bundts are rich and gooey with a hint of something..what is it? For the recipe see the winter issue of Celebrate Home Magazine (page 50).

Photo by Cindy Dyer.



Set a Winter Table for Dessert

Gather friends for an intimate, mid-winter’s night dessert party. This is one of the easiest parties to host by keeping it small and limiting the menu.

Create the atmosphere with an imaginative tablescape. Use candles and wintry colors. Here my table is dressed with silver, gold with winter white. Barren branches dress the table with bird napkin holders and dessert plates. Dress your table to parallel your climate. If you live in warmer climates, use some greens in season from your yard. For example, in south Florida the Calamondin oranges are in bloom. Pick some branches with the small colorful fruit for your table.

For more on how to have a simple dessert party, complete with menu and wine suggestions, check out the Winter issue of Celebrate Home Magazine. Photo by Cindy Dyer.


A Cheesecake Like No Other

This cheesecake is extra creamy, much different than a New York-style cheesecake. I wanted something different than the traditional graham cracker crust so I chose vanilla cream cookies. A unique crust and a topping of fresh nectarines gives it a unique tang. 

Creamy Cheesecake with Nectarines

  • 1-1/2 cups vanilla cream cookies (Golden Oreos or Vienna Fingers)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 eight-ounce packages of cream cheese (do not use low-fat), room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon rind, grated finely
  • 5 nectarines, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of apricot Polaner All-Fruit, high fiber.

Crust: Grind cookies into a medium-crumb consistency in a food processor (similar to graham cracker crumbs). Mix crumbs with melted butter and sugar. Press mixture into a nine-inch ungreased spring form pan.

Filling: Beat together cream cheese, and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Blend in butter, vanilla and lemon rind.

Topping: Put nectarines and apricot All-Fruit in food processor and coarsely chop to spreadable consistency.

Preheat oven to 450⁰. Put creamy mixture into spring form pan. Bake 15-20 minutes until slightly browned around edges. Refrigerate overnight, at least for 12 hours.

When ready to serve, remove sides of the pan and top with nectarine topping. Garnish with a few slices of nectarine and mint.

Can also use fresh apricots when in season.

This recipe is part of the menu for A Wintertime Dessert Party in the new issue of Celebrate Home Magazine. Find out what wine pairs well with the cheesecake and other yummy desserts. Download the magazine for free here.

Photo by Cindy Dyer.

Celebrate Home Magazine — Winter Issue Live Now

Celebrate Home Magazine is now available here for free digital download.

On the Cover: Gladys Roldan de-Moras, award-winning impressionist painter from San Antonio.


Winter-inspired lovelies for you and your home.

Delicious Pops of Color
Easy on the eyes,the Hedstrom house takes advantage of light-filled views with clean lines and engaging color.

Living the Fairy Tale: To Quit or Not to Quit?
Mothers share their struggles with jobs and families.

Bowls of Comfort
Take the chill out of winter with our filling soup recipes!

A Wintertime Dessert Party
Pair wine and desserts for elegant and easy entertaining.

Green Chicken: Creating a Family Heirloom Cookbook
Create a cookbook that cherishes family recipes.

The Many Seasons of Beer
Beer aficionado Jefferson Evans explores the world of seasonal brews.

Gladys Roldan-de-Moras, Impressionist Painter
Always proud of her Colombian and Mexican roots, this artist’s passion is reflected in her colorful work.

Winter Photography Indoors
Stay indoors to photograph nature this winter.

How Much is That Doggie in the Window? Choosing the Family Pup
Think you’re ready to add a furry friend to your family? Here are some things to consider.

Every Picture Tells a Story
Discover five tips for decorating your walls with original art.

Bejeweled: Camilla Houghton’s Unique Ring Collection
What started as a gift exchange between two sisters expanded into a beloved collection of rings.

Ring Bling Box
Give your rings a new home with our easy craft project.

What Home Means to Me

Download the Celebrate Home Magazine for free.

Bill’s Big Adventure (aka Hospitality on the Rails)

Why would anyone ever travel by train? Because the destination is not the only goal, it’s how you get there and the adventure of riding the rails. Today’s guest blogger is my husband Bill. He’s a JAG in the U.S. Army Reserves and has been deployed for the past 10 months. Right now, he is in Fort Riley, Kansas, and almost done with his call of duty. Author Henry Kisor says those who love the railroads aren’t called railroad buffs, they are called railman. So my husband the railman set about on a weekend train trip on the Super Chief with great anticipation.

Without further delay, I give you Bill’s Big Adventure.

tunnel aheadAs Barbara attests, hospitality means making folks feel good — no matter where they (or you) are. So when her friend in New Mexico wrote wanting company, she sent me out to cheer her up. Since I have been homesick in Kansas, it didn’t take much coaxing to head west and visit friends. But I was not looking forward to the 14-hour drive — I would be beat and not very good company. I’m a bit of a history buff and have travelled extensively in my younger days so I was looking forward to visiting, but not the solo drive.

I’m entrapped with railroads and their contribution to America’s historical development. With a little research I Iearned that I could pick up the Southwest Chief out of Topeka (a mere 45-minute drive from Fort Riley) and take it into Albuquerque. When I checked the prices I was even more convinced. Railroading is the way to go!

The Route

The Southwest Chief, formerly called the Super Chief before Amtrak, runs along the original Santa Fe rail line. The Chief goes from Chicago to L.A. and I’m happy with my portion of the trip. Being one of the early western rails, the Chief follows much of the Santa Fe Trail.

Watching out the windows I’m fascinated with the ruts and the route it takes. Since the railroad was the second major westward conveyance, it was natural to take the route close to the old trail and before the highways came along and paved over the ruins. Today, this is still a beautiful country. A journey through the plains and mountains quickly remind you why we are so lucky to be Americans. 


Breakfast on the TrainBecause I was embarking around midnight I elected to upgrade to a sleeper. Amtrak does not disappoint. Accommodations include meals (my breakfast pictured here), climate-controlled quarters and a great staff of knowledgeable and hospitable professionals. They had my room all set up for me and made sure I got to where I was supposed to be at the right time.

The extensive network of rail lines, including these historic runs, are a great way to see the country in comfort, luxury, and at a great price. As long as you can afford the time, I strongly recommend considering rail travel for your next Great Adventure.

Destination Florida

I’m not stopping with this trip. I’m booking the Amtrak Auto Train from Washington, D.C., to Florida, with my family. Once we get there we’re going to follow MLB’s Washington Nationals around at spring training. Stay tuned….

Barbara Recommends

If you want a good read about a train ride, I recommend Zephyr:Tracking a Dream Across America by Henry Kisor.From Kisor’s website:

“Whether dashing through the Plains, creeping over the Rockies, hurtling across the Great Basin, or threading the Sierra Nevada, the California Zephyr is an earthbound cruise ship bearing as many as300 passengers, each with a story to tell. One hears tales of trysts in showers and sleepers, of charming serendipities in dining cars, of smuggling drugs and pets (including an elusive boa constrictor), and of a small child’s tragic death on the tracks. The California Zephyr remains America’s most exhilarating train, traversing breathtaking mountain scenery and retracing the route of countless westering pioneers.”

Get Your Game On!

Try this Buffalo Wing-It Dip. It’s a crowd pleaser in time for Super Bowl Sunday. To get the recipe and other game-day foods go to Celebrate Home Magazine. The Wing-It Dip is on page 36.

Download Celebrate Home Magazine for free.

Photo by Cindy Dyer.