Rise Up Ye Sons and Daughters…Mom Loves Dessert!

In my salad days, when I was in denial about being addicted to sweets, our hostess asked us if we would like a piece of her homemade cheesecake with a hint of Bailey’s Irish Cream. I said, ‘Yes, but only a sliver.’

She gave me a sliver.

I said, ‘I really didn’t mean it!’

Lesson learned: if someone asks for a sliver, give her a generous slice.

Mom really does love dessert. So make your mom something she loves. Here’s one of my favorite cheesecake recipes. I came up with this version when I was publishing Celebrate Home Magazine.

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

Mother’s Day Cheesecake with Nectarines

This cheesecake is extra creamy much different than a New York-style cheesecake. A unique crust and a topping of fresh nectarines gives it a unique tang. Can also use apricots when in season.

  • 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.

Photo by Cindy Dyer Photography.

Savoring Thanksgiving

Pretty as a Picture Pecan Pie

Cranberry Crazed

Holiday Pumpkin Cookies

Thanksgiving Tablescape (aka-Setting the Table)

Candied Apple Cookies

You-Picked-a-Fine-Time-to-Leave-Me-Lucille Pumpkin Roll

Emily the Dietician Chef on How to Eat Healthy During the Holidays



Paying Da Bills

My friend Margaret preserved her family legends of hospitality and food in her own family heirloom cookbook. With each recipe she told a story to go with it. She recalls the following story about her grandmother’s cakes.

My parents were born in 1924. When I asked them questions about food and their childhood, their memories were vivid and clearly influenced by the Depression. My favorite story was about my maternal grandmother’s cakes. My grandmother, her sister-and-law and a friend sold cakes, pies, cookies and fresh fruit at a little stand my grandfather built near his brother’s farm. They set up on Fridays and Saturday mornings. My grandmother also paid the family’s doctor bills with angel food cakes. For years, she baked an angel food cake each week and took it to the family physician as payment.

I wonder if our kids will be talking about memories of food? Hope so!

Esther’s Spice Cake

This was one of the cakes Margaret’s grandmother sold at her cake stand during the Depression. The mocha icing probably made it a best seller. Cindy Dyer photographed the cake I baked from Esther’s recipe with the Depression-era milk glass cake stand.

  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup molasses

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two eight-inch round cake pans.

Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, mace, and cloves. Sift together and set aside.

Put the butter, sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Cream the butter, sugar and eggs until smooth and well blended.

Stir the milk and molasses together in a smaller bowl.

Add the milk-molasses mixture into the creamed butter mixture in two stages alternately with the flour mixture.

Beat until the batter is well blended and smooth after each addition.

Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean.

Cool for 5 minutes. Turn out the cakes from the pans onto a cooling rack. Cool completely.

Photo by Cindy Dyer.

Read more about Margaret Barkers family cookbook in the Winter 2013 Celebrate Home Magazine, page 54, “Green Chicken: Creating a Family Heirloom Cookbook.”

Sweet Flavors of Fall

I can hardly pass through the grocery store without picking up a bag of Kraft caramels (the one with the sticks in the bag). Then, I choose some Granny Smith apples and I really believe I will make candy apples. Before you know it, we’ve gobbled up the caramels, the apples go into school lunches, and the sticks gather dust in the drawer.

But not this year…caramel and apple unite! Here is my rendition of a thumbprint cookie using caramels and apples. No sticks needed.

Candied Apple Cookies

My recipe was originally published in Celebrate Home Magazine, Fall 2012.  

  • 1-1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 eggs whites plus 1 whole egg, combined and slightly beaten
  • 2 cups finely-chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 sugar plus 2 tablespoons cinnamon combined (for the walnuts)
  • 35 soft caramel candies, unwrapped
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cinnamon (for apples)

In a mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add flour, sugar, egg yolks and almond extract. Combine thoroughly. Cover and chill dough for about an hour.

Mix walnuts with cinnamon-sugar mix and set aside.

Chop apples and mix with cinnamon-sugar mix and set aside.

Shape chilled dough into two-inch balls with a cookie ball scoop. Roll in beaten egg whites/egg mixture and then roll in chopped walnuts. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Press your thumb in the center of cookie. Bake in 350⁰ oven for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and place a caramel square in the middle of each cookie. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar chunks on top of cookie.

Bake another 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on cookie sheet.

Yield: 35 cookies

Photo by Cindy Dyer


2013 — A Year of Hospitality

I’ve collected some favorite photos from my 2013 blog postings. Kelley Hospitality is about heartwarming stories of people, food, family and home, and making others feel good about themselves.

Please join me in remembering 2013 and looking forward to another year of making the ordinary extraordinary.


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.

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.