It Might Be Your Grandmother’s Gooey Dessert, But It’s NOT Your Grandmother’s Hearing Loss

Hearing loss isn’t just for grandparents. You might not be an elder statesmen, but you could be losing a little hearing. Join the crowd – one in ten people have a hearing loss in the U.S.

  • Do you often think,  “I can hear but I can’t understand.”
  • Do you have trouble hearing on the phone?
  • Do you turn up the volume on the TV?
  • Do you say to yourself, “I’ll just stay in the kitchen and cook so I won’t have to talk to anyone!”

I hope I am not making you uncomfortable by asking these questions. (Quick, skip to the recipe!)

I write about the food that brings us together, but when someone is left out of the party, the family dinner, or the conversation because he or she can’t hear, that’s NOT hospitality. If you haven’t already, do something about your hearing loss today. The holidays are coming so don’t stay home or leave the party early! I love you and that’s why I am writing about this.

The Number One charitable organization in the world for people with hearing loss is HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America). I normally don’t ask for donations for charitable organizations on this blog, but this organization is a winner. Revlon has chosen HLAA for the LOVE IS ON 2016 MILLION DOLLAR CHALLENGE.

You have about 24 hours to make a tax-deductible contribution. Read more about HLAA and the Revlon Challenge. I’ve donated. If you think you have a hearing loss or know someone who does, you might want to as well. Click here and scroll to my photo. The LOVE IS ON! If you aren’t inclined to give (no amount is too small), just enjoy this easy recipe and peruse the blog. Thanks for reading.

Spread-the-Love Space Cake

(This is my grandmother’s gooey peanut-butter chocolate cake. Mabel Varner Space did not have a hearing loss that she admitted to, but her husband, my grandpa, sure did, as do the younger branches on the family tree!)


  • 1 box graham crackers
  • Bananas, about 3-5 depending on the size of the dish
  • Chocolate frosting, about 1-2 cups
  • Peanut butter, about 1 to 2 cups


Layer graham crackers in a baking pan. Slice bananas lengthwise and layer on top of graham crackers. Repeat the layers at least twice until you end with graham crackers. Frost the top with your favorite chocolate frosting mixed with peanut butter (about half and half). Cover tightly and let cake sit for at least 24 hours before eating it. It gets better with age and will hold in the refrigerator a few days after that.

[Photo by Cindy Dyer.]

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.

Be the Snow House

Photo by Cindy Dyer, January 23, Blizzard 2016.

Be the house where the kids come during the snowstorm. Welcome your kids’ friends for a cup of hot chocolate while you throw their wet duds in the dryer. They’ll have voracious appetites after sledding all day and breakfast at 3 p.m. might hit the spot (and is easy to make).

Hospitality is about creating memories. They’ll always remember the snow house where they could go, get dry and recharge for more winter fun. You’ll remember it too. These days are going fast with our children, so hang on tight when you can.

I hope you find a little time to open your home and heart and be the snow house.

Wait! Don’t Eat the Leftover Halloween Candy…Yet

Don’t know what to do with that leftover Halloween candy (besides scarf it down?). I have a quick weekend breakfast pastry made with three ingredients—refrigerated crescent rolls in the pop-open can, raspberry preserves, and a Milky Way® bar. This makes a gooey and hot breakfast surprise for the family or overnight guests. But, if you have other candy leftover, why not try it with Twix® or Kit Kat bars? Maybe even a Snickers to add a peanuty crunch.


  • Pop open the crescent rolls and separate according to the package directions. Spread each triangle of dough out on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Spread each triangle with a teaspoon or so of raspberry preserves. Coarsely chop the Milky Way® bar (or Twix® or Kit Kat®) and put about a teaspoon on top of preserves.
  • Roll the triangles into a crescent roll according to package directions.
  • Brush each croissant with lightly beaten egg white to give it a nice glazed and browned look.
  • Bake for 20 minutes in a 375⁰ oven. Serve hot.

Yield: 8 croissants.

Photo of Barbara’s easy breakfast pastry by Cindy Dyer .

Make a Commitment to the Queen of Hearts

Simple jam tarts are an old-fashioned treat and I’m bringing them back this St. Valentine’s Day with a new twist using preserves and fresh fruit. The easy crust is spread into a springform pan like sugar cookie dough. The heart-shaped tart just makes it more lovable.

Making a tart is a commitment and they’ll love your for it. So make one this year for those you love.


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature, not melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup blueberry preserves for tart filling
  • 1/2 cup blueberry preserves for glaze
  • 2 teaspoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • 2 cups (approximately) fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried


Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla with a mixer. Blend in flour until combined. Spread the soft dough in a 9-inch springform pan (one with a removable bottom). The dough will resemble cookie dough, will spread thinly, but it will cover the pan. Use fingers to make sure dough is evenly spread on bottom and up sides, about 1/4 inch from the top. Bake in preheated 375⁰ oven on middle rack for 5 minutes and remove from oven.


Spread 3/4 cup of blueberry preserves on the partially-baked crust. Return it to the oven and bake for about 15 more minutes or until crust is brown. Let cool completely and top with the fresh blueberries.

Glaze: Heat 3/4 cup blueberry jam in microwave and press through a strainer to retain the juice (discard any remaining berries). Stir in 2 teaspoons Grand Marnier into the glaze. Use a pastry brush to brush on the glaze on top of the blueberries. Store at room temperature.

The crust with baked preserves can be made a day ahead and top with berries and glazed when ready to serve.

Serves about 8.

Blueberry tart photo by Cindy Dyer.



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


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.