Spinach Guilt

Spinach balls ready to pop in the oven.

Spinach balls ready to pop in the oven.

Margaret and I regularly exchange emails comparing menu items for holidays throughout the year— especially at Christmas. Her list of menu items often read, “Your Mother’s Spinach Balls.” Sometimes, she writes, “I’ve made your mom’s Spinach balls and they’re in the freezer.”

For the past several years (maybe two decades), I haven’t included mom’s spinach balls on my menu. But each time Margaret reminds me they are a mainstay at her holiday dinners, I get a pang of sentimental guilt. I love that she always makes them and how she calls them, but I almost feel I should be in solidarity and make mom’s spinach balls too.

So, Christmas 2013…enough Margaret! I finally made the spinach balls! I forgot how delicious and pretty they are (especially when you add some red pomegranates to the serving platter). Make them for New Year’s. They’re easy and good.

Spinach Balls

  • 2 packages frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and thoroughly drained
  • 2 cups stuffing mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Using hands, roll mixture into small balls, Freeze on cookie sheet for one hour. Place in plastic bags and store in freezer or refrigerator until ready to bake.

Bake in 375⁰ oven on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Read Margaret Barker’s article “Green Chicken — Creating a Family Heirloom Cookbook” from the Winter 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine.

Setting the Holiday Table — New Year’s Eve Sparkle

Set a festive table for New Year’s Eve by using what you have on hand. Look indoors and out for potential bling for your festive table.

Pick Your Colors and Theme

I have a gold tablecloth so decided on a red and gold color palette. I then found a tall candlestick in bronzy-brown and a brown table runner, so I decided to go with an earthy theme. Once I had these items in hand, my search was narrowed down.

Now, off to the outdoors where I cut some huge Magnolia tree leaves and Holly tree branches. I went indoors to the basement where I keep my floral picks and trims and found red, gold and sparkly things and fruit. I decided the setting needed more candle light, so I added various unmatched votive candle holders. (Always use unscented candles on the dinner table.) I whimsically placed it all together and a tablescape was born!

Whether it’s a buffet table, a formal table, or an open table for people to sit once they get their food, create a centerpiece from what you have on hand — including your imagination.

Happy 2014!

Ding, Ding, Ding…Ladies and Gentlemen We Have a Winner!

You all answered the challenge of December 9 when I asked you to send me your cookie recipes. The deal: If I choose your recipe to feature on this blog, you win a prize from Kelley Hospitality (that’s me!).

I never said the recipe had to be an original, just a favorite and a good one. Melanie submitted Cranberry Coins by Martha Stewart. They passed my test-kitchen rigors. I made the ones in the photo with dried Montmorency cherries. Why? Because I had the cherries and didn’t have cranberries so I thought, why not? Make a batch with cranberries or cherries. Everyone will be glad you did.

Congratulations Melanie. Your prize is in the mail – four issues of Celebrate Home Magazine in print. Thanks for tuning in.

Cranberry Coins
From Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies 


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries

Beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla with a mixer until smooth.  Add flour and salt; beat just until combined.  Stir in dried cranberries.  Divide dough into quarters.

On parchment or waxed paper, shape each portion into a log about 1 ½ inches in diameter and 4 inches long.  Wrap logs tightly in parchment or waxed paper. Chill 30 minutes or up to one day. (Dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic and frozen up to one month.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. With a sharp knife, slice dough into one-quarter-inch thick rounds. Rotate log as you cut to keep it from flattening.  Place rounds on parchment-lined baking sheets, one inch apart.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges just begin to turn golden, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to two weeks.

Creative Christmas Cookie Exchange

Dani is one of those gals who can do anything. But if you ask her what she likes to do most, it’s work out, run, stretch, do crunches and planks, mulch her yard, plant shrubs, and basically do anything that keeps her lean physique on the move. But she obviously has a clever domestic side because for a Christmas cookie exchange she made mini lemon tea breads. What a great idea to add some sweet variety to the cookie offerings…and all decorated up for the occasion! Dani shares her recipe here. Hey…I think I just saw her jog by my house!

Lemon Tea Bread


  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure lemon extract (do not use artificial)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons grated fresh lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan (or use the Wilton mini six-loaf pan); set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, and lemon extract until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until the mixture “throws ribbons” (translation: is light and feathery).

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Pour 1/3 of the flour mixture into the egg mixture, stir, then add 1/3 of the milk.  Stir until blended.  Continue to add the flour/milk mixture alternately until blended.  Do not over mix.

Fold in lemon peel and pecans.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake 1 hour for large loaf pan (about 25-30 min for the mini loaf pan) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

While the loaf is baking, prepare lemony glaze:  mix together the fresh lemon juice and 1/2 cup sugar, let stand until loaf is baked.  Remove bread from oven and immediately pour the well blended lemony glaze over the top.  Let stand 15 to 20 minutes.  Turn onto rack and let cool.

Dani's lemon tea breads all dressed up for a Christmas cookie exchange.

Dani’s lemon tea bread all dressed up for a Christmas cookie exchange.

To serve, slice into thin pieces; serve with butter.

Christmas Bling!

This festive little garnish is so easy and adds holiday bling to any dish, platter or cake.

Hollyberry Bling

  • Rosemary sprigs
  • Cranberries
  • Corn syrup
  • Decorative sugar, large crystals (available in grocery or craft stores)

Brush rosemary sprigs and berries with corn syrup. Sprinkle with sugar. That’s it folks! Have fun.

Send Me Your Christmas Cookie Recipe and Win a Prize

I would love to add some Christmas cookie recipes to my repertoire. If I choose your recipe to feature on this blog, you will receive a gift which will include four issues of Celebrate Home Magazine.

Send me your holiday best by December 15, 2013. Recipes can be cookies, candy or another sweet treat. Send recipes to my email here. May the best cookie win!

Cranberry Biscotti
Pictured above is one of my favorites — easy and a festive addition to your cookie platters. Et tu biscotti!


  • 1 package Pillsbury Cranberry Flavored Quick Bread Mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup white baking chips
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cups white baking chips, melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine quick bread mix, butter and eggs in large bowl. Stir 50 to 75 strokes with spoon until mix is moistened (dough will be stick). Stir in 1/2 cup white baking chips.

Turn dough out onto lightly-floured work surface. Shape into ball, adding flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Divide dough in half; place on prepared baking sheet. Shape each half into 9 x 3-inch loaf, placing four inches apart. Flatten tops slightly.

Bake 24-28 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 15 minutes. Cut each loaf into 3/4” slices. Place slices upright on the same baking sheet. Bake an additional 13-16 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 10 minutes. Drizzle with melted white chocolate chips. Freezes well.

How the Sneeze Guard Changed the Hospitality Industry…Forever!

The sneeze guard at Johnny Garneau's Smorgaboard, 1958, Monroeville, PA

The sneeze guard at Johnny Garneau’s Smorgasboard, 1958, Monroeville, PA

I’m sure you’ve seen it – a sneeze guard is that Plexiglass cover required by law to be over salad bars and buffets. My dad, Johnny Garneau, who died this past May at age 90, invented it.

Smithsonian Magazine was so fascinated with the genesis of the sneeze guard that reporter K. Annabelle Smith went digging even as far as contacting the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. An Internet search led her to me, the self-proclaimed Sneeze Guard Heiress.

Johnny Garneau was a dreamer, entrepreneur and entertainer, but most of all, a restaurant man. After the war (the big one, WWII), he sat on the bumper of his ’46 Chevy, slapped his hand on his knee and told my mom, “I’m going to start a restaurant!” And, by golly, he did! He opened The Beanery – with curb service and menu of hot dogs, burgers, fries and shakes in 36 flavors. That was only the beginning.

Fast forward to late 1950s when the sneeze guard was born. A lot of the things we see and use daily were invented by someone who had the dream and the guts to take an idea to fruition. Read the article here from Smithsonian Magazine. Enjoy the story of the inventor and the images of one of our country’s greatest inventions.

Johnny Garneau with KDKA-TV's Jean Connelly, Pittsburgh,1961

Johnny Garneau with KDKA-TV’s Jean Connelly, Pittsburgh,1961

The Christmas Balls Went Viral

It’s a dream come true! Something I wrote went viral. Ding, ding, pin, pin, says my iPhone all day/all night long. It seems folks across the land are pinning and re-pinning my mom’s Christmas cookie recipe I posted last year. Why? The photo? The no-bake aspect?

Whatever the attraction, keep spreading the love of these delicious cookies.

Post from last year at this time:

My mom always made these cookies at Christmas. I have no idea where the recipe came from, I only know it as hers. They are easy to make and require no baking. The result is a rich coconut-date-nut ball that everyone loves. You can make them ahead and freeze them. I hope you enjoy them as much as my family does. (My son still thinks there is chocolate in them!)

No-Bake Coconut-Date-Nut Balls

  • 1-1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • ½ cup butter or margarine

Cook the above ingredients in a large saucepan on medium heat until thick…about 10 minutes after the butter melts and all is bubbly. Stir to prevent sticking and burning.


  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1 cup nuts

Form into balls and roll in coconut. Chill. Freezes well.