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.

The Office: Mary Ann and the Beating

Spread the love…be hospitable.

We are a small staff but we have a cast of characters—protagonists, antagonists, heroes and villains, but all are hard-working, professional, dedicated and smart. One thing we all have in common is the love of parties. That’s why celebrating birthdays is pretty important to The Office cast. We jump at the chance to come together for a break, celebrate and eat something yummy. Our treats have run the gamut—margarita cupcakes, Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, a flower arrangement made of fresh veggies, you name it. We tailor it to the honoree’s taste buds.

This is not Mary Ann, this is Ronnie, director of the Walk4Hearing. She is enjoying her birthday and Nancy’s Mary Ann Cake.

One of the most coveted birthday desserts is the Mary Ann Cake made by Nancy Macklin, director of marketing and events at the Hearing Loss Association of America. Boy, does she know how to put on an office birthday event! Her Mary Ann Cake is beautiful — and second, delicious. It’s made in a special cake pan, available from NordicWare  (fancy version), Amazon.com, and King Arthur Flour. The exact shape of the pan varies. The recipes vary and the spelling of its female namesake varies. My favorite is Nancy’s recipe—the memorable Almond Cream Mary Ann Cake, filled with mascarpone and topped with fresh berries.

Give the recipe a try. And remember, hospitality goes where you do, even to the office. Take your game on the road. Others will be glad you did. Spread the love, be hospitable!

This is not Mary Ann either, it is Nancy. Not only is she the best director of marketing and events in the world, she also makes a superb Mary Ann Cake.

Nancy’s Mary Ann Cake

The secret to this cake’s smoothness is all the beating.” — Nancy

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
1 cup of butter (two sticks), softened at room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or as Nancy suggests, 3 teaspoons almond extract)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour pan.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.

The Beating: With flat beater, beat butter on medium until smooth and creamy, one to two minutes. Reduce to low and gradually add sugar beating until blended. Increase speed to medium-high and continue beating until light and fluffy, three-to five minutes. Add eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla (or almond) extract.

Reduce beater to low and add flour mixture in three additions alternating with milk and beginning and ending with flour, beating just until blended and no lumps of flour remain.
Pour into Mary Ann pan and bake for 32 minutes.

2 cups fresh berries
4 T sugar, divided
6 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chilled heavy cream, beaten to soft peaks
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Combine berries with 2 T granulated sugar. Set aside.

Using spatula, combine mascarpone, sour cream, vanilla and 2 T granulated sugar. Fold into the whipped cream.
Fill the cake shell with mascarpone mixture. Top with fresh berries and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

A Wintertime Dessert

Please come in for a Wintertime Dessert Party.

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (Listen to this while you read…)

Snow and frigid climes are still blowing in many parts of the country. In some regions it’s just a little colder than usual. Some call these the dark days. No better time for a little end-of-winter cheer to lift our spirits as we wait for spring.

Pick a Friday night and invite people in for dessert. It doesn’t have to be as fancy or orchestrated as what I did here. You set the tone. If you’re not inclined to bake, buy a store-bought cake (cheese cakes are great), brew some decaf coffee, and open a bottle of dessert wine or champagne. For an easy and appealing cookie tray, buy Archway Dutch Cocoa Cookies from the cookie aisle, arrange them on a platter, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and punctuate with fresh strawberries.

Hint: This is a great way for you to show a little hospitality if you aren’t inclined to fuss over the prep. Just because you don’t make the food yourself or set a fancy table, doesn’t mean you can’t invite a few friends in for chat and sustenance. Who doesn’t love dessert? It’s a nice winter way to reacquaint with friends or get to know new ones.

The posting here is a re-post from last February. The idea was a hit so I thought I’d share it again.

Stay warm.

 [From February 2011, includes Creamy Apple Cheese Tart recipe]

When Rich Moss, director of admissions at The Heights where our 11-year-old son goes to school, asked me if my husband Bill and I would host the headmaster and prospective parents this month, I immediately said “Of course. I’ll do whatever you need!”

At the same time I said yes, I began to scheme. I am thinking… how many people and what does he want? You see, extending the welcome is easy for me; however, our home, a Victorian-style, is designed with small rooms and cozy nooks and crannies. It is perfect for our small family and fine for wandering/mingling parties.

However, Rich’s get-together seemed like it called for one room where everyone could eat, listen, and engage in questions and answers.

I asked Rich about the format. He suggested, “Just have some coffee, whatever you are comfortable with.”

“Coffee-Schmoffee!” No way were we just having coffee! I can’t pass up the chance to use my imagination and have some fun in the process. Thus, “A Wintertime Dessert” was born. I figured I could use the dining room table as large as possible and use the adjoining bar with seating that connects to the kitchen. It would be cozy depending on the final numbers, but it would work. Guests would have plenty of space for dessert without a lot of serving and removing plates.The acoustics were good so everyone would be able to hear and feel part of the discussion.

Low lighting set the mood with small white candles placed in crystal, shimmering holders with a low centerpiece using white roses, magnolia leaves, and ivory and pale mint-colored crystals. All this was accompanied by ivory linens, stemware in various shapes and sizes, and fine china. (The china story is another blog for another day.)

A visit to the sommelier helped me choose the dessert wines. I described my desserts and he suggested a champagne, a Bordeaux table wine (Chateau Loupiac-Gaudiet), and a port. The port was my favorite. Even though the Bordeaux came highly recommended for the desserts, it did not taste good to me…too much like cooking wine. I should have known and followed my gut when he suggested it. On the evening of the event, Bill and I exchanged covert glances when we both sipped the Bordeaux and knew to steer the guests toward the other two choices.
The menu: my own apple/cheese tart creation, strawberries, cream, and “Outrageous Chocolate Cookies” along with the wine and/or coffee and tea.
As the guests arrived, large snowflakes began to fall…a perfect backdrop for this February get-together. Everyone stayed much longer than the event was planned for. It is with great pleasure that I fuss and make it look like I didn’t. All the pre-planning is worth it and a dessert party is perfect for an occasion like this. The hosts can also relax because with the right preparation it is easy to pull off.

I should mention that I also invited the children of the parents. That made it easier for people to come rather than get babysitters. The children were treated to their own kids-type desserts in the basement family room along with an older sibling I paid to supervise them. Their parents were able to relax and really listen and ask questions without feeling rushed to get home. (Hey…three of the four families decided to attend the school after that night and subsequent meetings with the school!) I would say “A Wintertime Dessert” was a success!

A dessert party without chocolate would miss the mark. I have many chocolate recipes but I was in the market for something new, so I turned to the Internet and found just the thing. When I read the ingredients, I could taste it!  So, this cookie won the day. The recipe is from MarthaStewart.com and aptly called Outrageous Chocolate Cookies.

A dessert party —  I’m sticking with it!

Creamy Apple Cheese Tart

Creamy Apple Cheese Tart


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 5 (approx) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced

Prepare the topping first so it is ready to go when you have the rest done. Mix sugar and cinnamon together and toss with apples.


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, not melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, optional

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. Blend in flour and cinnamon. Spread the soft dough in a 9-inch spring form pan (removable bottom). I like to use one with fluted sides. Use fingers to make sure dough is evenly spread on bottom and up sides, 1/4 inch from the top.


  • 8 oz softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together cheese and sugar, add egg and vanilla. Mix and pour into the crust.

Arrange apples over filling. Bake at 450 degree for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees and bake for 25 minutes. Cool before removing outer ring from pan.

I like to serve with a dollop of whipped cream on the side with a fresh berry or two.

“I was afraid it was a fruitcake.”

Christmas Fruit Cookies

Have you ever heard those words? Fear no more. Mom made up a recipe that combined all the good parts of a fruitcake and put them into a little cookie. In her no-frills style, mom named them Christmas Fruit Cookies. We all loved them as kids but would not touch a piece of fruitcake. They are sweet and delicious with coffee or a glass of milk. In fact, that is what I had for breakfast today, coffee and a Christmas Fruit Cookie. Makes you look forward to getting up in the morning.

Hint: The great thing about this recipe is you can adapt it to your tastes. If you want more cookie and less fruit, just adjust the measurements. Or add less fruit, more nuts, whatever you like.

Mom’s original recipes were all geared toward her oven. For example, she says to bake them at 370 to 400 degrees for 10 minutes. When have you ever heard of setting your oven to 370 degrees? I made some yesterday and set the oven to 370 degrees (in honor of mom) but it was more like 15 minutes, not ten, as she noted. Then, I tried them at 350 degrees and it was 20 minutes. As you can see, there is a lot of leeway with her recipes.

I hope you’ll try them. They’re just that good! Merry Christmas.

Make a festive garnish by brushing rosemary sprigs with warm corn syrup and sprinkling with large sugar crystals. Add cranberries to complete the look.

Christmas Fruit Cookies

By Lois “DeDe” Garneau

  • 1/2 cup butter (always use unsalted for baking)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg

Cream the above ingredients together, then add:

  • 1-1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Gradually add flour mixture to creamed mixture.

Stir in:

  • 1 lb. chopped dates — coated with flour — I buy the pre-cut dates in bags, much easier, they didn’t have these back then
  • 1/2 pound candied fruit — use red and green cherries, sometimes they are mixed with pineapple, all good
  • 1/2 pound chopped nuts — mom used walnuts, I prefer pecans

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet; drop one teaspoon dough. Bake at 370-400 degrees for ten minutes. Hint: adjust to your own oven.

What’s a Sugar-Plum?

“The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.”

Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

All these years I’ve never really known what a sugar-plum is. I always imagined they were sugar, cut-out cookies sprinkled with red and green sprinkles. As a child, that was my favorite Christmas treat that would likely dance in my head.

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I wondered about sugar-plums. I resisted the urge to Google it. I did my own research by simply asking the question: “What do you think a sugar-plum is?”

Patrick (12): “It’s a plum with sugar.”

Nancy (40+): “I think it’s like one of those baked whole apples that cave in the middle and are sweet. Maybe a baked plum like that.”

Bill (40+): “A dessert.”

Cindy (40+): “Something with dried fruits.”

Margaret: (40+): “I used to know but forgot…I think it has dates in it.”

I realize my poll is missing large demographic segments, but I had to cut off my silly research and get cooking. I still resisted the big G-search on the Internet.

When I first started doing serious grown-up cooking, I relied on Bon Appétit magazine and the Silver Palate cookbooks. I subscribed to Bon Appétit on a whim because of its visual appeal. I faithfully cooked something from it every issue. Artist Michie O’Day introduced me to the Silver Palate cookbooks when I had wonderful dishes in her home, made from the recipes. After that, I adopted anything called Silver Palate by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. For sugar-plums, I would go once again to the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. This particular book features menus for informal and elegant occasions for various holidays and all four seasons.

Right There on Page 321!

I found it in the chapter titled, “Nutcracker Sweet Open House.” Of course! The “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. How clever of the authors. That is what I love about this cookbook. And who doesn’t love the Nutcracker Suite?

Their recipe is for Cognac Sugarplums (with sugarplums as all one word). The description reads: “A spirited little gem of a cookie that goes well with rich brewed coffee and the final nightcap of a holiday evening.”

That was good enough for me. Look no more. I made them last week and served them for dessert when friends came for dinner on Friday evening. They took their place on my cookie tray (the sugarplums, not my friends) and we discovered sugarplums together…at least the Silver Palate version.

The sugarplums were easy to make, delicious, and as they were described, a spirited little gem.

After that…to all a good night! (Unless, of course, you want to tell me what you think a sugar-plum is.)

My Cognac Sugarplums, photo by Cindy Dyer

Cognac Sugarplums

  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate bits
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus additional for coating (Hint: I coated mine with clear sugar sprinkles, which gave them a real sugar-plumy sparkle.)
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup Cognac
  • 2-1/2 cups finely ground vanilla wafers (1 box, I ground them in the food processor)
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • Candied red and green cherry halves (garnish)
  1. Melt chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar, corn syrup, and Cognac. Stir in the wafer crumbs and nuts to make a paste-like mixture.
  2. Roll into one-inch balls. Roll each ball in additional sugar. Press a red or green cherry half into the center of each ball.
  3. Store in airtight container. These cookies improve with age.

Wrapping it Up: Do-Ahead Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving Day brought family together in our home—Kelley’s, Garneau’s and McKinney’s—for feast and fun. The best part for me was the relaxing time to visit with everyone and enjoy the day.

Why? Because I prepared everything ahead of the actual day.

Here’s the menu and the plan.  Bookmark this page for next year or adapt it for Christmas. You, too, can serve up your best and enjoy both your holidays and your guests. You might say, “How can a person who works full time accomplish all this?” I say, this method is really great for the working gal or guy or busy stay-at-home mom—you shop and cook when you can—in the evenings, weekends, or early mornings. You chip away at your assignments and it becomes fun not a chore.

 Create Your Table

Photo by Cindy Dyer

Three days or so ahead, whenever you can, prepare your table. This gives you time for creative editing.

Afternoon Snacks

Simple and light munchies were served outdoors by the smoker, the fire pit, and football on the outdoor screen. Luckily, the weather was about 70 degrees and folks worked up an appetite by throwing the football in the yard.

  • Popped corn with seasonings popped over the fire pit
  • Cheeses and crackers—Stilton with cranberries and Gouda

Dinner Menu

Smoked Turkey—The perfect brine included a recipe of pungent spices called Bonedust. The turkey is washed and brined a day ahead. Even if you roast it in the oven, wash and brine the turkey a day ahead so all you have to do is season it (and stuff it if you wish) right before you put it in the oven.

Traditional Bread Stuffing—Dry the breadcrumbs one week ahead and save them in the refrigerator. Cook the onions, celery, apples, spices and herbs in butter two days before Thanksgiving and refrigerate. Reheat the butter mixture in the microwave the day before Thanksgiving and mix with bread crumbs. Put the stuffing in a buttered casserole dish. Note: Safety never takes a holiday! If you plan to stuff the turkey, please don’t stuff the turkey ahead of time. It must be stuffed just before roasting erstwhile you get food poisoning. I didn’t stuff the turkey because it was smoked.

Gravy by Bobby G.—Root vegetables, herbs, turkey neck and giblets made this gravy tasty. Guest Chef Bobby G. made the gravy while the turkey smoked outdoors. He stirred it a lot! (But I think he just likes to do that.). You could make your stock ahead of time when you clean the turkey. Refrigerate and continue cooking when the turkey is roasting.

Mashed Potato Casserole—Make a week or two ahead and freeze. Thaw well ahead of baking. Recipe below.

Sweet Potatoes—Make a week or two ahead and freeze. Same as above. Recipe below.

Baked Cranberry-Orange Sauce—Make up to four days ahead. Put in serving bowl, cover with wrap. Can be served hot or cold.

Photo by Cindy Dyer.

Sauté of Haricots Verts and Pearl Tomatoes—Wash green beans and tomatoes the day before and cook about 20 minutes before the meal is served. Sauté some shallots in olive oil. Add the green beans and steam until tenderly crunchy. Add tomatoes. When warm, season to taste with salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar.

Rolls and Butter—I purchased some yeast rolls from the bakery the day before and heated them. Or make your own a week ahead and freeze them.


Photo by Cindy Dyer.

Bill’s Pecan-Bourbon Pie with a Touch of White Chocolate Bill made this scrumptious pie a week ahead and froze it. Take out of freezer on Thanksgiving morning.

Lucille’s Pumpkin Roll —Make it several days ahead and freeze. Put in the refrigerator to thaw.

Key Lime Pie—Make the graham cracker crust a week or two ahead and freeze it. Make the Key Lime filling the morning of Thanksgiving and top with fresh whipped cream. This takes no time at all! The filling is a “piece of cake”…well, I mean pie.

The Wine

Thanks to our friends in Spain, Javier and Cristina, we had some of the finest wine of Rioja region, delivered from Spain to our door via a vintner in McLean, Virginia. We enjoyed Vino Cabillo (2005) from Bodegas Lopez de Heredia winery, better known as Tondonia or simply Heredia.

“The reason that Tondonia deserves a position of prominence on the Rioja podium is the sheer quality and seductiveness of its wines, across virtually the entire portfolio….Maria Jose Lopez and her sister, Mercedes, protect the proud reputation of the family firm. “ (From The Finest Wines of Rioja and Northwest Spain.)

I don’t know if this varietal was the best choice for turkey. However, we loved it and its boldness stood up to all the various foods. Plus, we toasted our friends with their wonderful gift. Thank you to our Spanish friends!

Potato Recipes Mentioned Above

For the other recipes, click on the live links.

Mashed Potato Casserole

A Kentucky gal, Nova Jean Monroe, gave me this recipe years ago and it is a mainstay at holiday meals. Go University of Kentucky Wildcats!

  • 8 cups (2-1/2 lbs., peeled, quartered potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes or comparable
  • ½ cup Miracle Whip salad dressing
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 T minced fresh onion (or1 teaspoon onion powder)
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt season to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper or season to taste
  • paprika

Cook potatoes in water, 25-30 minutes, until tender. Drain well. Mash potatoes gradually adding salad dressing, cream cheese, onion, salt and pepper.

Spoon into 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

This freezes well. Do not bake and cover tightly and freeze. To serve, thaw casserole. Heat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 1 to 1-1/4 hours or until thoroughly heated.

Serves 10-12, can easily be doubled for a crowd

 Sweet Potatoes

I first enjoyed this at Thanksgiving 1997 at Bobby G’s house in Raleigh.

  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup sugar (you can cut this back a little)
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Combine the above ingredients and top with topping


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Bake in a casserole dish at 350 degrees for one hour.  Freezes beautifully. Thaw completely before baking.

Hint: Mark all your do-ahead items in foil and write with a permanent marker on the foil its name and cooking instructions, including how long to thaw, and/or what time to thaw or bake. This avoids having to backtrack and find recipes at the last-minute.

Last, since all your cooking is done well ahead of time, you can tidy up the kitchen, clean up your prep mess, start with a clean sink and an empty dishwasher, and you’re good to go!

(Photos by Barbara Kelley unless specified otherwise.)

“You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille…”

I served Lucille’s Pumpkin Roll for Thanksgiving and may do so again for Christmas (using holly greens instead of the strawberries.)

Lucille’s Pumpkin Roll is about the best thing I have ever tasted. I met Lucille Nestler in 1988 when I started my career at the Hearing Loss Association of America. Lucille was a weekly volunteer. Some might call her a “little old lady.” Little, yes. Old, hardly. She would be considered a senior, but she was not a little old lady. Lucille wore hearing aids and missed a lot of what you said, but she would beam a disarming smile and kindly ask you to repeat.

Lucille was sprightly and positive. Her husband died when their only son was young and she decided that she would raise her son doing things her husband would have done with him. She taught him to fish, hike, and how to catch pollywogs. She knew she couldn’t fill the shoes of a dad, but she would do her best so he wouldn’t miss out on certain things. The result was an enduring and close relationship with her son, his wife and her grandchildren.

She also loved to bake. Her regular treats brought to the office were crispy peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, applesauce cake and, on special occasions, her pumpkin roll. She never installed air-conditioning in her Washington, D.C., area home where the temps soar and the humidity swealters. Yet, she continued to bake and bring goodies to the office weekly, year round. She would apologize when she didn’t have time to do so.

This year I ran across her neatly-typed recipe she gave me for her pumpkin roll. It would be part of this year’s feast. But one thing I needed to know…could I make it ahead of time and freeze it? I had to know because the dessert had to cooperate with this year’s “Do-Ahead Thanksgiving” which I will write about when I wrap up all the short entries.

I don’t know where Lucille is, but she must be around 90. I wanted so much to be able to call her and ask her advice about freezing her pumpkin roll and catch up. Fond memories flooded my thoughts. As the song goes, you picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille.

Lucille’s Pumpkin Roll

  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground cloves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet. (1” sides, 10 x 15) and cover with wax paper. Grease again. Mix all of the above ingredients and pour into pan. Bake 10-15 minutes until center springs back. Lay a tea towel (not terry) on table and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Flip cake on towel and peel off paper. Roll pumpkin in the towel and let it cool for several hours.

Spread cream cheese filling onto baked pumpkin cake and roll up.

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine ingredients. Unroll pumpkin loaf and spread with filling. Roll up again. Wrap in wax paper and then in foil. Refrigerate. Slice when ready to serve.

Note: I took a leap of faith and froze the Lucille’s Pumpkin Roll. It freezes beautifully.

There’s Still Time…Baked Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Baked Cranberry-Orange Sauce (Photo by Cindy Dyer)

This dish takes no time at all. You can give the traditional cranberry sauce a new twist with a jar of orange marmalade. I made mine a few days ahead. You can serve it cold or warm. The prep is so easy and fast there is still time to make it for today’s Thanksgiving dinner.

  • 4 cups fresh cranberries (one bag)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (13-oz jar orange marmalade)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)

Wash cranberries and drain. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl; add cranberries, stirring well. Place cranberry mixture in a 9-inch square pan. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Add marmalade, walnuts and lemon juice; stir well. Cool.

Credit for this recipe goes to Southern Living.

No Two Pecan Pies Are Ever Alike

My husband Bill makes the pecan pie. Period. I don’t go there. Why should I when I have someone who specializes in pecan pies? He won’t give me the recipe for the blog, well, uh, because there really isn’t one. You should see him — he gets a big mixing bowl and in goes butter, plenty of eggs, light Karo syrup, a little molasses, maybe some dark Karo syrup, splash of vanilla extract, and maybe almond extract. As he says: “It depends on the guest list, any combination of the above depending on my mood, what’s in the pantry and the liquor cabinet, and what the guests might like.

This year’s pie is a “Pecan-Bourbon Pie with a Touch of White Chocolate.” (Yes, that’s the title of the pie.) We’ve had peanut and chocolate pecan pies, pecan-chocolate, walnut-pecan, straight pecan, rum-pecan, you name it.

It’s always good. You either love pecan pie or you say it’s too rich and you don’t eat it. Trust me, everyone samples Bill’s pies. Sorry folks. No recipe available. The best I can do to advise you is to read the recipe on the Karo Syrup bottle, then improvise.

Have fun!

Burywood Boyz Second Annual Fantasy Football Draft (and it was Fan-Tasty!)

Stadium food, sort of...

It’s fall and it’s football season and a few of the boys in our neighborhood have a fantasy league. They hear about fantasy football everywhere, but these leagues can be a tad complicated and all-consuming for the little guys. Our league is composed of boys ages 12 to 15, plus three dads, and one mom (me!). We welcome girls too; we just haven’t found any yet.

Early in the morning, before anyone else is up, the commissioner is working on the Burywood Boyz Fantasy Football Draft.

The draft happens on Labor Day, two days after the final NFL team rosters are released, and three days before the first NFL game. It’s also the last day before school starts when we know the kids won’t have any homework. Our draft, paired with Labor Day, signifies the official last day of summer.

Thanks to the co-commissioners of the Burywood Boyz League (my husband Bill and our son Patrick), they keep the draft simple. Everyone drafts 11 offensive players and one team defense. The commissioners run the draft and keep it moving and organized with a white board. This year, each “coach” starts with the team he drafted last year. He then has the chance to release players and draft new ones. In the end, the boys felt they got their best picks. (For more explanation see Fantasy Football 101.)

The draft picks are displayed on a white board.

Each week during the regular football season, the teams submit to the commissioner their six-man roster which includes: one quarterback, one running back, two wide receivers (or tight end), one kicker, and one team defense. At the end of the football week (after Monday Night Football) the scores are tallied and whoever has the most points wins the week. At the end of the season, we have a playoff.

What’s in it for the Boys?

  • Fathers spending time with their sons on something they are both interested in.
  • Friendly competition.
  • Being a “coach” and researching players to draft.
  • Doing meaningful work by studying the stats each week in the sports section and deciding who plays the following week.
  • Learning how to manage an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Practicing math skills with scoring and stats.
  • Having fun!

What’s in it for Me?

I get to throw the party! Of course the food is secondary, but what would a football draft be without stadium food? And, since it is the last hoorah of summer, it could possibly be the last official picnic of the year. So the entire family attends the draft.

The Menu

  • Hot Maryland Cab Dip for appetizer
  • Spiced Burgers with Melted Colby Cheddar Cheese
  • Hot Dogs (I recommend Ballpark all-beef brand or Hebrew National, both taste-tested by me and both win!)
  • All the condiments: pickles, sliced sweet onions, tomatoes, lettuce, mustards, ketchup
  • Bagkelley’s Summer Veggies 
  • Chips
  • Desserts: food the kids can pick up and eat easily while they are drafting players. For today, Pale Summer Cookies. Live it up; it’s the last hurrah of summer.
  • Extras: Marion brought watermelon and Melanie brought a homemade peach-blueberry crisp with fresh whipped cream. “It’s healthy, it has oatmeal in the crisp part,” she says apologetically. (I say who cares, it’s delicious!)

The Table Settings

Keep it simple. It’s the day before school starts and you don’t need a lot of clean up. Use sturdy plastic and paper ware. Bring out all the football dishes you have. If you have time, get some team napkins. Decorate or not.

Everyone goes for the Hot Maryland Crab Dip

Main thing: the food should be good and everyone should have fun.


I play because they needed an eighth team so the teams could be paired for an end-of season playoff game. The name of my team? “Reed’s Rowdy Gurlz” named for Washington Redskins Safety Reed Doughty —  the Kelley’s favorite player on our favorite team. Yes, Reed’s wife, Katie, knows about the name. She grinned (or grimaced, I couldn’t tell) when I told her.

Guess who won the Burywood Boyz Fantasy Football League playoffs last year? Who else? — Reed’s Rowdy Gurlz! Just because I’m throwing a party doesn’t mean I can’t draft a playoff contender team!

One of the Burywood Boyz and his sister, deliver their mother's Peach-Blueberry Crisp, still warm...

Recipes from the Burywood Boyz Second Annual Fantasy Football Draft

 Hot Maryland Crab Dip

Mix together:

  • 1 pound of cream cheese
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon of sherry
  • 1 tablespoon of confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard – use any kind, grainy or not, even spicy brown will work (whatever’s in the fridge)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ cup sweet onion like Vidalia, minced fine, or use scallions, again, whatever you have
  • ½ pound of crabmeat – I prefer a local Baltimore brand, Phillips ™ (Maryland Blue Crab)
  • Mix well. Spray a pretty baking dish with oil, bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Serve hot with crackers. This also freezes nicely if you want to make it ahead.

Spiced Burgers

This time I used Williams-Sonoma burger seasoning mix with the ground beef, but you can easily season your own. (Use some garlic salt, Worcester sauce, pepper, cumin, whatever you like.)

TIP: The trick to a good burger is to use meat with a liberal amount of fat in it (like an 80-20 mix. Season it with some good spices and mince some onion in the meat (the kids will never know the onion is in there that way). The trick to grilling is to be patient. Don’t over-flip, in fact, flip only once when one side is done, and don’t flatten with the spatula and release the juices. Keep the grill lid open or the grease drippings could cause a fire.

Warm peach-blueberry crisp

Melanie’s Peach-Blueberry Crisp

Melanie says, “Personalize it, baby!”

  • 4 or 5 large peaches
  • 1- 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla or almond extract


  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ c. flour (Melanie uses whole wheat pastry flour)
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • grated fresh nutmeg to taste
  • ¼ c. butter, cold

Preheat oven to 350. Peel and thinly slice peaches into a two-qt. baking dish. Add blueberries; mix gently.  Sprinkle 2. T. flour and 2 T. sugar over fruit and mix gently. Sprinkle vanilla or almond extract over the top.

Prepare topping: combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cut in the butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. You can either do this with two knives, or with a food processor. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the fruit.

Bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes, until the topping is browned and crispy.  Let cool somewhat before serving.  Best served warm with vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Of course, you could make this with all peaches, or use any other fruit such as nectarines, apples, other berries, etc.  Personalize it, baby!

My Pale Summer Cookies get around...this time on a football platter.