Grazing at HOK

We share the dinner prep here at HOK (House of Kelley). When it’s my turn I have a problem waiting for everyone to get home. I can barely stave off hunger while chopping, slicing and sautéing. I’m a grazer.

Here’s my new hold-me-off-until-dinner graze plate:

Zero fat.
Only 35 measly calories in five of them.

What am I describing?  Peppadews of course!

Prepare yourself a little plate – Peppadews, cucumbers, Feta, and some Peppadew brine lightly sprinkled on top, punctuated with cracked pepper. This also makes a tasty and light appetizer. Keep the ingredients on hand. Maybe pour a glass of wine while you graze and cook? (Just a thought…)


The Relentlessly Groovy Cultural Enrichment Society

The leader of the Relentlessly Groovy Cultural Society invited me and few of the girls over to bake bread, drink wine and watch Under the Tuscan Sun. Laura Hacker-Brown knows about hospitality and rolling out the welcome mat. She’s the colonel’s wife and she’s had to move multiple times with her husband and twin boys during the course of her husband’s career. So, she wastes no time in getting settled in a neighborhood and making friends.

It was a Friday night and I had kids to drive here and there and things I should be doing, but Laura’s nudging was too tempting for me to resist. I just knew it was what I needed at the end of a long week.
Her concept: bring some girls together (no matter our age, we will always be “girls”), pour some wine, and get to know each other over mixing, kneading and baking French bread. By using the quick method in the recipe below, we even got to enjoy the bread with some French Onion Soup Laura whipped up before our eyes. Perfect fare for a chilly night.

We never got to the movie. No need. We were sated with bread, food, wine and Laura’s warm hospitality. Thank you, Laura, you are trés groovy!

French Bread
Bake this in a perforated French bread pan. Laura placed fresh rosemary sprigs on the dough before baking. Recipe from Bread by Beth Hensperger

The author says, “The elements of the pain ordinaire, or everyday bread, are flour, water, salt and yeast and are basically the same as they were 8,000 years ago. French bread should have a crackly crust, a chewy texture, lost of uneven holes, a long side crack from expansion in the oven, and a grainy taste. It’s best eaten hot, straight out of the over, for as it cools, it begins to go stale.”


  • 1-1/2 packages (1-1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups warm water (105⁰ to 115⁰)
  • 3 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Egg glaze (lightly beat an egg white with one tablespoon of water)


  1. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over water in a large bowl. Stir until combined. Let stand until dissolved and foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add 2 cups bread flour and salt. Beat hard with a whisk for 3 minutes, or until smooth. Add remaining bread and unbleached flour one-half cup at a time with a wooden spoon. The dough will form a shaggy mass and clear sides of the bowl.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead, adding flour 1 tablespoon at a time as necessary, until dough becomes soft, silky and resilient, about 5 minutes. It will not be sticky.
  4. Place dough in a greased bowl and turn once to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a cool area of the kitchen until tripled in bulk, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. If you have time punch dough down and allow it to rise again, about 1 hour. The dough may also rise in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. Gently deflate dough, turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into two portions for the baguette pan. Knead in more flour now, if necessary.
  6. Press each portion of the dough into half of the French bread pan. Slash tops diagonally with a serrated knife sprayed with oil and brush with egg glaze. Place in a cold oven on the middle or lower rack.
  7. Turn on over to 400⁰ and bake for 35-40 minutes until crusty. Eat immediately.

Throwing a Party in an Ugly Backyard

Pesto Table 3This is such a funny title but it was the one assigned to me by the producers of the eHow™ videos. I figured they decide on their titles with a little help from Google who clues them in on what people search for.

Pesto Table 2So, I took it on. This was an easy one to create because it doesn’t matter what you have or don’t have, it’s hospitality and your warm welcome that matter most. Watch the video and you’ll see what I mean.

Pesto Table 4

(Note: the captioned version is on YouTube here.)

“It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” (not so original, but an oldie-goldie)

To borrow an old line from the Jimmy Buffet song, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” so pour something tall and strong. In this case, it’s the Cranberry Lime Refresher and it’s easy to make.

Hospitality starts on your back porch. Add some veggies, dip, and some salted nuts. Then say “hey!”

Cranberry Lime Refresher


  • Ice
  • 2 ounces vodka, or to taste
  • 1 ounce cranberry juice, or to taste
  • Rosé wine
  • Slice of fresh lime, for garnish


Fill a serving glass with ice. Add vodka and cranberry juice and stir. Fill with rosé wine. Garnish with lime slice and serve.

Yield: 1

Recipe by Karen Covey, author of The Coastal Cookbook. Photo by Cassandra Birocco (copyright 2013). More of Karen’s summer sips are featured in the summer issue of Celebrate Home Magazine. (Download it for free.)

I’m Moving Out

…Outside that is. It’s time to move outside to the deck, yard, or porch. I needed a quick appetizer last night and it doesn’t get any easier or fresher than this.


  • 1 loaf French baguette
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • Fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • Fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Slice French bread into thin slices and arrange on platter. Assemble by putting a slice of mozzarella cheese, then tomato, then salt and pepper to taste, then top with basil leaf.

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.