Two Blondes In New York

I didn’t say real blondes, but nonetheless, we came, we saw and we left…FAT!

By the pictures we posted, everyone kept asking us if our main intent of being in New York City was to eat our way through. Why else do people come here?

We would get a text from a family member asking us if we were going to The Met. our response was…we were headed there but we got sidetracked when we walked by Angelos Pizza. A friend of my daughter’s texted her and ask her if we were going to go see a Broadway musical. We were so excited to hopefully be a part of the crowd at Times square where everyone gathers to get last minute available seats to the shows. But as we walked by this great Middle Eastern restaurant that we had heard had the best hummus and spanakopita, we didn’t make it in time to get tickets.
We can proudly say that we ate in Little Italy, Hells Kitchen (which by the way is totally different from what I use to know as Hells Kitchen, which was my moms, because she got in such a bad mood when she had to cook), Manhattan and the Theatre District. My husband has promised to take me back in 2 years so we can experience restaurants in Soho, the Bronx and Juniors’ cheesecake in Brooklyn. Because Jaden was hungry after he finished with the concert, we even got food from a street vendor. We dined at a Japanese restaurant, my first. Loved it. Had the most awesome experience of dining one evening at Del Frisco’s across the street from Radio City Hall. Do not get me started on all the food we had at The Plaza.
Not only was our waist growing by the day, but our feet were so swollen our shoes were tight. I guess when you walk as much as we did, all the food goes to your feet.
The laughter and the memories that we bought back were priceless. I remember seeing a credit card commercial of two people taking a trip and the memories which were made. That is how we felt. Each day gave us so many new memories and so much laughter.
Our reason for going was that Jaden, our 16 year old grandson plays in an orchestra which was invited to play at Carnegie Hall last Friday evening, March 30th. Jodi and I were the ones who were so blessed to be given this trip by our husbands. So we packed our suitcases and off we flew to New York. This was Jodi’s first trip, so I wanted her to be able to see as much as possible.
They say (whoever they are) that your kids don’t see us for who we are and that they don’t want to see their parents aging. This saying became very real to me when we would come to a intersection and the light would say that we had 3 seconds to get across 5th Ave. Jodi would grab my hand and say, “come on mom, we can make it” and then run across while 35 yellow taxi’s were headed straight for us. Then there was the night when, after crying, seeing Jaden up on the stage at Carnegie and all the emotions that went along with the pride and excitement, Jodi tells me, “Mom, we only have 15,000 steps on my Fitbit, it’s only 11 p.m., let’s take Jaden to the Empire state Building” Thank God the Empire State building stays open until 2:00a.m. Why what if it didn’t and we would have been forced to go back to our room by 11 and get more than 5 hours sleep? She was always so sweet to remind me that we can always sleep on the way home and that she would even let me fall asleep on her shoulder, unless she fell asleep before me, using my shoulder as her pillow.
The last morning before leaving New York, we were so excited to wake up to a snow storm that had blanketed Central Park. Of course, we had to walk to see this amazing sight. As we walked the 2 blocks to CP, guess who stepped into a slush puddle of melted snow? Of course I didn’t have boots on so the rest of the morning as we took pictures, in the 34 degree weather, my socks had frozen to my feet. Don’t feel sorry for me, with them frozen, it helped me not feel the pain of the blisters that had formed on my feet from walking 17,000 steps the day before. On a normal week, I don’t reach 17,000 steps, much less a day.
But because taxi drivers had told us that we looked more like sisters than mother/daughter (yes, I know they were just going for a good tip, but at my age you take any compliment you get) and one taxi driver told us that the ride back to our hotel was on him, (we did finally find our credit card so we could pay him) We actually never took the wrong subway anywhere, with lots of help from the locals.
We were two blondes in New York, trying to see as much of New York as possible, via the subway. Scary thought. Learning the subway at the age of 67 was a little intimating. How do they even make those subway maps so small? We did learn that train Q doesn’t run on the weekends from Brooklyn. Thank goodness, train N & R do. But our cute little subway map didn’t tell us that or if it did, it was in such small print we couldn’t see it. Next trip I will remember to take a magnifying glass with me. The laughter, the experiences, and the memories gave us so much to be thankful. It was wonderful knowing that we could spend 5 days together and still leave laughing and already planning another trip.
Yes, the bond between mother and daughter is absolutely one of the richest blessings of life….the joy and laughter, the memories, the love…are all real, even if the hair color isn’t!

Vanilla Cream Fruit Tart

Wow, this is delicious. Because I had ladies over this morning for Bible Study, it is so exciting to me to look for new things to make for them. When I ran across this Taste of Home, 2017 magazine the other day, the picture of the fruit grabbed my attention. I did vary it just a touch as I didn’t have pineapple juice in the house so just substituted orange juice. It was wonderful.

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 pkg (10-12 oz) white baking chips, melted and cooled
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 pkg (8 oz) softened cream cheese

1/2 cup pineapple (or orange) juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 tables cornstarch
1/ teas lemon juice
1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh strawberries (I didn’t have strawberries I used blackberries)
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 300. Cream butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in flour. Mixture will be crumbly. Pat unto a lightly greased 12″ pizza pan.
Bake until lightly browned, 25-28 minutes. Cool
Beat melted chips and whipping cream until smooth. Beat in cream cheese until well combined. Spread cream cheese mixture over cooled crust. Place in fridge while making the topping.
In a small saucepan, combine fruit juice (pineapple or orange), granulated sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Cool.
Arrange all berries over cream cheese layer; brush with pineapple mixture. Refrigerated at least 1 hour before serving.

The Empty Cup

This week is going by so quickly. Tomorrow I leave to go to NY to watch our grandson and his jazz group perform at Carnegie Hall. What a memory this will be. Our daughter and I will have the blessing of going to watch and listen to this amazing talented group of young people perform from a stage which few get to be. So I don’t have to tell you how excited we are to go. Sunday we will still be in NY and will be sitting in Brooklyn Tabernacle worshiping and praising our Risen Savior with complete strangers, but bonded together by His Spirit. What a wonderful weekend this will be.
Last Sunday our pastor preached on Eph 2:1-3, which is a part of scripture that reminds us of our sinful hearts. No matter how good we think we are, there is “no one good besides God” and we need to feel the conviction that leads us to repentance and humble ourselves before God asking Him to forgive us.
Each week our services end with Communion. Each week as we bow our heads in remembrance of what Jesus did in taking our place on the cross for our sins, we are not only reminded of His sacrifice, but the love that He has for us. We end our time breaking bread and drinking from the cup which signifies Jesus Blood that was shed for each and every one of us. We give thanks and praise Him for His love and grace to us.
This past Sunday was probably one of the most meaningful Communions I have ever experienced. Our pastor announced that we would have the plates passed around as normal, but this time, there would be no “bread” or juice in the cups. The cups were empty. We were instructed to take one of the empty cups and hold it as we “lamented” our sins, realizing what it would be like if there was never anything in the cup. As we were led in prayer, he reminded us what it would be like if we indeed had no hope. What if there had not been a crucifixion? What if Jesus had not died for our sins or been raised to life, which gives us our hope and our salvation? As we sat there in the quiet of the morning reading scripture describing us as a people who needs God’s forgiveness and a people who truly needs to “lament” of our sins, we left with a new awareness of what Easter really means.
Easter, a time of renewal! Easter….a time of reflection! Easter….a time to worship the one who came to give us life and give us life abundantly. Because He did die and rose again, we do have hope, we do have life eternal and we do have a Savior who loves us more than we can ever imagine.

Glory to God in the Highest! Hosanna (God Save Us) Hosanna in the Highest! To God Be the Glory, Great things He hath done, for you and for me!
May we never forget His sacrifice and love. Worship together with your family this Easter. May we bring our humble hears before Him in Worship and Gratitude!

What occupies our minds the most is what we worship. Where does your hope lie?

Matthew 28: 1-7
Early on Sunday morning as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to see the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, because an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled aside the stone and sat on it. His face shone like lightning and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him and they fell into a deep faint.
Then the angle spoke to the women, “Don’t be afraid!, he said, I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples he has ben raised from the dead and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. you will see him there, Remember, I have told you.”

Psalm 95
Come, let us give a joyous shout to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving. Let us sing him psalms of praise.
For the Lord is a great God, the great King above all gods. He owns the depths of the earth and even the mightiest mountains are his…
Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the sheep of His pasture.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Strawberry Bar Cookies

This month is flying by. We have had friends from California visiting and so much going on that I have really been in a baking mood. There is a book series by Joanne Fluke called the Hannah Swenson Mysteries. They all have desserts in the title and each book centers around the Swenson sisters who run The Cookie Jar in a small town. These little mysteries are easy reading and have recipes at the end of most chapters. The current book I am reading is the Raspberry Danish Murder.

The recipes are absolutely great. Last night I made the recipe called Sweet & Salty Strawberry Bar Cookies. I substituted Apricot jam as I didn’t have any strawberry jam in the house and didn’t want to run to the store at 8 p.m. Trust me on this, they apricot was wonderful. Am going to make the Butterscotch Marshmallow Bar Cookies next. The ladies who had them this morning at our house loved the Apricot Bar Cookies. So if you are not in the mood for a murder mystery which centers around food, here is the recipe.

The Crust & Topping

2 cups salted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teas vanilla
4 cups all purpose flour

(I actually halved this recipe for last night in case it wasn’t what I thought it would be and it turned out really good.) So will make the full version next time.

Strawberry or (Apricot) Filling

11.75 oz jar strawberry topping or preserves ( used an 11.5 oz jar of apricot preserves and it was fine)
1 cup white chocolate or vanilla chips
2 tables whipping cream
1 tesas vanilla 2 teas sea or other salt (the coast ground kind (I didn’t even use the salt)

Spray a 9×13 pan with Pam.
Using a hand electric mixer, combine the softened butter, granulated sugar and powdered sugar. Beat on medium until mixture is light and creamy. Add the vanilla. Mix it in until well combined. Add the flour inhale-cup increments, beating at Low speed after each addition. Beat until mixture is well combined.
The dough will appear soft, that is how it should be.

Remove a generous cup of this dough and wrap it in Saran Wrap and place in fridge for about 30 minutes to chill. You will use this chilled dough to crumble on top of the preserves.

Using remaining dough, place in greased baking pan and using your fingertips, evenly spread in the pan, pressing all the way to the edges. Bake this crust in preheated 325 oven for about 20 minutes.

While crust is baking, take your preserves and empty them out in a microwave safe bowl. Add the vanilla chips and whipping cream to the preserves and cook in microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir mixture and place back in microwave in 20 second intervals to melt chips. When crust comes out of oven, allow to cool about 15 minutes before pouring the preserves over it. When chips are melted, add the vanilla and stir.

Pour the preserve mixture over the crust. Next sprinkle the salt over the fruit then Crumble the chilled dough over the preserves and place back in 325 degree oven. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and crust is golden brown.

Remove from oven and place pan on wire rack to cool completely. Do not cut until they are cool as the filling will need to set. Cut in brownie size pieces.

Cornbread Stuffed Zucchini

Anything that reminds me of cornbread stuffing gets my vote. This is taken from 2017 Southern Living and I cannot wait to make it. Choose squash that are uniform in size. The best kind for this recipe are long, straight but not too skinny. (as per SL)

Serves 4

3 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread
4 zucchini
3 tables canola oil, divided
1 teas kosher salt, divided
16 oz ground chicken (I will use ground Italian seasoned turkey)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
4 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tables)
1 teas paprika
1/2 teas black pepper
6 oz white Cheddar Cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup fresh corn (I’m not a huge corn person, other than just corn on the cob, so think I will substitute fresh spinach, sautéed and drained well, before adding to mixture)
3 tables chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 375. Spread cornbread in an even layer on one end of a baking sheet. Cut zucchini in hal lengthwise. Using a serrated tomato corer or melon baller, scoop out zucchini pulp to equal 3 cups pulp, leaving a 1/2″ shell intact.
Coarsely chop 1 1/2 cups of pulp; reserve remaining pulp for another use. Brush zucchini shells with 2 tables of the canola oil. Place zucchini shells on baking sheet with cornbread and sprinkle with 1/4 teas of the salt.
Bake zucchini and cornbread at 375 until cornbread is lightly browned; 8-10 minutes. Reduce oven to 350.
Heat remaining 1 tables oil in a large skillet; cook, stirring to crumble, until browned. (about 5-6 min)
Add onion, garlic, paprika, pepper, reserved 1 1/2 cups zucchini pulp and remaining 3/4 teas salt to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally until onion is tender.
Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in cornbread, white Cheddar cheese, corn (or spinach) and parsley.
Divide chicken mixture evenly among zucchini shells. Place shells in a lightly greased baking dish. Bake at 350 until filling is lightly browned and zucchini is tender, about 25 minutes.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Blondies

Just received the new Paula Deen magazine and finally took time to sit and look through it. Am thrilled that I had Randy pick up a jar of Nutella a couple of weeks ago, for “just in case”. Well, “just in case” is here. Thanks again Paula for giving us a new way to use Nutella.

1 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teas vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teas baking powder
1 teas salt
1/3 cup Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9″ square baking pan with foil, letting excess extend over sides of pan. spray foil with Pam with flour.

In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter and sugars until smooth. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually whisk flour mixture into egg mixture just until combined. Spread batter in prepared pan.
Place Nutella in a small microwave safe bowl; cover and heat on high for 10 seconds. Stir until smooth. Drizzle Nutella in wide ribbons onto batter; swirl together with a knife, avoiding bottom and sides.
Bake until golden brown and test done by inserting wooden pick in center and comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. using excess foil as handles, remove from pan and et cool completely on wire rack. Cut into 3″ squares and store in airtight container for up to 3 days.

Banana Cupcakes

This recipe is a repost from years ago. Each time it is served everyone comments about the moistness and lightness of the bread. From time to time I make it into a 9×13 cake or cupcakes and add chocolate frosting or cream cheese frosting. Because the kids are coming over tonight, I choose chocolate and I added mini chocolate chips to the batter. A little enticement to be sure they come back often. The recipe was given to me from a neighbor when living in Corpus Christi years ago in the 70’s. She was my wonderful neighbor from New York and very Italian. So many of the recipes that are still my favorite came from Cam Parsley. She was a wonderful cook and a wonderful friend. It is also included in the recipes in Princess On The Porch which is available from the chocolate castles blog site.

2 sticks of softened butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 cups flour
1 teas baking soda
4 tables buttermilk
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 teas vanilla
1 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.
Cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs and beat for 2 minutes. This assures that the sugar is well dissolved.
Mix the flour and baking soda and stir together. Add to sugar-butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Mix well. Add mashed bananas and vanilla and mix well. If adding pecans, do so now, stirring just until blended. Pour into either 2 9″ round greased and floured cake pans, 2 greased loaf pans or into cupcake liners. Bake until bread just test done. Do not over back as you want a moist cake/bread. When cooled, either leave as just bread to use with jam and butter (yes more butter) or frost with chocolate or cream cheese frosting.


Traveling Hoarders

We have just returned from a trip to Texas where we have kids and friends who we are blessed to have. BUT….going to Texas means one thing: weight gain. In the 10 days we were there we ate Mexican food 8 times. Because it was cold and rainy every day we were there, everyone knows that our mouths begin to drool, thinking of all the Tex-Mex food we can’t get here, the minute we cross the Texas State line. The day we drive in, we make a mental list of every restaurant we just “have to” eat at. I begin to make list of every store that I miss here in Arizona, to buy things we don’t see here, Of course that means that besides all the clothes we take for 2 weeks, the presents that we take to leave to thank all the host for housing us, our snack bag (actually it is more like a snack suitcase) gifts for the grandkids, we pack so that we have room to bring back all the things we cannot buy here. So to say our car is loaded is truly an understatement. On our last day in Texas, before leaving early last Wednesday, we just “had” to go by Weirs Country Store to get boxes (yes boxes) of their popcorn and a small bottled real Dr Pepper. Randy says there is just something about those little bottled Dr Peppers. Probably because they are cheap, but don’t tell him I said that. We run by MiCocinas to buy chips and salsa for the road trip back. We have to have one last Whataburger (yes, I actually ate one for breakfast before leaving Dallas). They do have a couple of those here but they just aren’t the same. We have to always stop at Eatsi’s for their tiramisu and Italian Cream Cake. El Fenix for cheese enchiladas, Spring Creek and Rudy’s for barbecue. Nordstrom for white chocolate bread pudding with raspberry sauce. And we wonder why our car looks like a low rider!
This trip was a little more disorganized. We split our time between 3 different groups of family. If you are ever at someones house and you would like for them not to ever invite you back for a visit, there is a easy solution. We will probably never be invited to one of our kids homes anytime soon. All you have to do is start a fire in the kitchen. Yep, simple as that. Being the wonderful mother in law that I am, I told the kids that they could take the morning off and I would make breakfast. Cameron had told me they had never had homemade popovers and so I made them. As they were in the oven, I fried bacon. When I looked over at the package and decided that there wasn’t enough bacon to store, I decided to just fry up the entire package. The bacon that was already cooked was on a paper towel/plate of which I laid over on the gas stove to finish laying the rest of the bacon. Well, next thing I know fire is all over the paper towel and getting higher and higher. At first I try blowing out the fire. For petes sake, I am use to blowing out 60 some odd candles on my birthday cake; how hard can this be? Didn’t work! I scream. Cameron comes over and tries to throw the plate in the sink and the flames just kept getting higher and higher. Payton (the 3 yr old) starts to cry and finally Cam finally gets the plate in the sink and runs water over it. Charcoaled bacon isn’t all that bad. They loved the popovers and crispy bacon. The kids reminded us that they had invited us to come help them unpack boxes, not burn the new house down. I informed them that if they would have let the fire go a little longer, it would have taken care of some of the unpacked kitchen boxes. They didn’t appreciate my humor.
So back to the trip. Every time we had to pack up and leave one house to go to another, it was pouring rain and cold. We didn’t take the usual time to load the car. We began to open the back doors and just throw suitcases and clothes in. Each time, it just got junkier and unorganized, Randy looked at me and said, “I bet if people look in our windows they will think we live in our car and are hoarders.” By the 3rd house where we stayed for the last 3 nights, it was a lost cause. I couldn’t find anything. It was easier to go to Walmart to buy a pair of pants and shirt than try to find them. When we got home, we agreed that it was going to be scary to see what was under all the piles of clothes, suitcases and bags of things we had brought back. Randy brought in 2 pair of my shoes that I was never able to find the entire trip. He found them in our first snack bag that never got thrown away when the handle tore. Randy had said, we would use it for a trash bag, but I thought I remembered we had turned it into a bag for all the things that wouldn’t fit in our suitcases by day 5.

We left on the morning that there were ice warnings. What an adventure. Going home by a different route meant seeing signs we had not seen before. There was a beauty salon called, “Texas Big Hair” Salon. Randy looked at me and ask, “is that where you go”? I threw a 3 day old donut at him that I found under the seat. We passed a most impressive motel named, “It Will Do”. Not in this lifetime will it do. Randy said that if the ice got any worse that it might have to do. Fortunately, the ice road scraper was in front of us so we mossied along at 35 mph for 200 miles.

We have pinkie pinkied we won’t go back to Texas in winter ever again. As Randy gets older (I haven’t begun aging yet, but Im sure soon I might) his tummy might not let him eat mexican food 8 days in a row, and we don’t want to waste our visits in winter when all we want is Mexican food. So think we will go in summer when, oh wait guacamole always tastes so good in summer along with chile con queso. Ok, maybe the season doesn’t matter, but until our car gets rid of the smell of popcorn, chips, salsa and Whataburger, I think we might just stay home for a while. Besides, until the kids forget about the fire, we aren’t sure we are welcome.

Snazzy Senior

This morning as I was getting all dolled up for the day, (which incidentally takes a little longer each year) several things dawned on me. For years, I use to criticize all the “old” ladies who painted their eyebrows on. Why, for Pete’s sake did they do that? Why not just enhance the brows they had? This morning, as I was examining myself in the 7x magnifying mirror to see if any new wrinkles had landed on my face during the night, I seemed to have found the answer to my question. There, staring back at me was my eyebrow, with oodles of gray little hairs sticking out from above my head. So as I “enhanced” my brown with my auburn eyebrow pencil, the gray hairs that truly must have been 2″ long were so noticeable sticking out of the “enhanced” auburn brows. I sat there and just stared at my face. Not only were there new wrinkles that I know were not there yesterday, but now I had gray eyelashes and gray eyebrows. In the past, the gray eyelashes were easy to disguise. Brown mascara always did the trick and wa-la, I would look in the mirror and think to myself, “no one will ever know I’m past 60 now. But what was I going to do with these awful gray eyebrows. If I pulled them out, there would be so few eyebrows left, guess who would now look like one of the old ladies with just painted eyebrows? That was not going to happen. So I just painted a thicker layer of the eyebrows pencil, hoping that whatever was in the pencil would help hold the gray ones down.
How can I call myself a snazzy senior when I now have this to worry about? No amount of cute little capris or blingie sandals would help. Maybe if I apply a heavier line to the eyeliner it will draw peoples attention away from my brows. Nope, tried that just now and I look like a cat burglar. Or Lady GaGa wanna be.

Feeling a little down about this season of unsnazzines (is that a word), I sprayed on a little more perfume than normal, put on the biggest hoops earrings I owned and walked out with the Lady GaGa eyeliner with my capris and diamond studding (not real of course) flip flops. Randy looked at me and ask me if we were going to a costume party? or was I taking up a new profession? He then informed me that if it were the latter, I might make more money if I charged by the pound. Apparently he doesn’t remember that he will be in the car with me for 20 hours in a few days. I told him that those 20 hours are going to be the longest 20 hours he has had in quite a while.
So today I’m off to shop. Shopping and chocolate…always a pick me up for us
“no so snazzy seniors” Will be shopping for larger sunglasses to cover up the new wrinkles and the gray brows. Think I will eat dried apricots, boiled eggs, pinto beans and a cabbage salad the night before our car trip. That will make Mr. No More Mike Ditka Look Alike sorry he spoke to me like that. Ah….the joys of growing old!