Tailgating season is definitely here, and it’s hard to believe, but today is the last day of the State Fair of Texas. I love entering the cooking contests and seeing what I can come up with. This year I was on the road a lot, but I did manage to tweak a few recipes and enter them.
I’ve seen variations of this recipe, but I wanted to come up with something that could either be super fast and easy, or a more healthy version that might take a little more cooking skills – that’s what the Lifestylist® philosophy is all about. This one definitely worked for that – it can be easy enough for a younger child with assistance, or with dough and a marinara sauce from scratch it can be a healthier version.
Here’s the basic recipe – you can customize it to your taste and skill levels.
It’s definitely one of my new favorites, and I can’t wait to share it with my Jr Lifestylists®!
It’s mango season! I was just visiting the Volman family near Boca Raton FL and they had a mango tree in their backyard that was full of fruit. I promised I’d share this recipe with them – it’s one this Lifestylist entered in the State Fair of Texas a few years ago. I didn’t get a ribbon, but this may be the year to tweak it and try again!
If you don’t have fresh mangos try frozen or one of the frozen tropical fruit mixes you can find at the store.
Mango Coconut Cobbler
1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
1/2 Cup Butter, softened
4 Cups Fresh or frozen mango, or Tropical Fruit – cubed (mango, papaya, pineapple and strawberries)
2 Cups Water
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Coconut, flaked
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl mic cake mix with softened butter – set aside. In an oblong pan place tropical fruit, add water and sugar then stir. Crumble butter and cake mix mixture on top of fruit, then sprinkle with coconut.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
It’s watermelon season! We try and go to our local farmers market at least once a week, and this week the watermelon slices we sampled were too good to pass up.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a Lazy Cook, and what could be easier than watermelon as a dessert? We just added some mint, sliced up our watermelon and that was it! Fantastic food doesn’t have to be complicated or costly. Fresh, local and healthy is always the best choice.
Valentines Day is almost here! I love making gifts for my family, friends and clients, and this is the goodie they always ask for.
At the recent IBS Show in Orlando I had my granddaughter help me make up some cookies and candy that I brought to the NAHB staff and to my favorite clients – it was a huge success. That is one of the important parts of being a Lifestylist® to me – using my talents to bring joy to others.
I’ve been entering variations of this toffee in the State Fair of Texas for years and this is the version that everyone asks for.
The key to candy making is having a good thermometer, and when I invested in a digital one it made all of the difference in the world. As soon as the temperature gets up to around 250 degrees start watching very closely – it will get to the optimum temperature quickly and if it heats to even 5 degrees more than it should it will burn. Enjoy!
Texas Butter Pecan Toffee
1 lb Texas pecans
1 lb butter + 2 tablespoons butter for pecans
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light Karo syrup
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 lb chocolate chips
In a skillet, stir butter and pecans together – cook over a low heat until lightly toasted. Remove from heat.
In a medium saucepan combine the rest of the butter, sugar, water and Karo syrup. Stir until mixture comes to a boil, then continue to cook without stirring until mixture reaches a temperature of 290 degrees. Stir in half of the pecans to mixture and turn out onto a 12” x 18” baking sheet. Sprinkle top with chocolate chips and spread after they melt – then sprinkle rest of pecans on top and allow to cool. Break into bite sized pieces.
I just returned from a magical week in Orlando. Someone said they scatter pixie dust at the airport when you arrive, and I’m starting to believe them. Not only was I able to take part in a home that will probably be one of the the high points of my Lifestylist® career, but I was also blessed to spend some very special time with my kids and grandkids and share my Lifestylist® approach with them. Being a Lifestylist incorporates life and style, and getting creative in the kitchen is definitely part of that.
As part of the staging for The New American Home, I purchased a large amount of beautiful granny smith apples to add color and lifestyle to the kitchen. After we were finished with the shoot, I thought why not recycle them and make a pie with the grandkids? Neither of them had tried making a pie before, and with Thanksgiving being only a week away I thought this could be a great time to make their first.
Jenna may only be 8 yrs old, but she loves to cook and is really good at it. She has taken part in the Jr Chef Camp at the Gaylord Texan that Chef Joanne teaches, and was excited about trying out her culinary skills making a pie. Many adults would be daunted by this task, but Jenna dug right in. After teaching her some basic knife skills and precautions, she peeled and cored all of the apples herself. Brother Christian decided to help us make the crust, and we made a huge mess (sorry Trish!) but I’m sure it was a day that they will always remember.
I am so grateful to have the loving, supportive family I have, and the amazing clients that believe in me and what I do. Here’s to the start of a holiday season filled with hope, happiness and lots of pixie dust!
One of my favorite things to do every year is entering the State Fair of Texas cooking contests. Being a Lifestylist to me is about all of the ways you can live your life with style – not just design.Not because I want to win, but because I really enjoy sharing all of my entries with different workers at the fair afterward. These are the people who really enjoy my cooking and know it’s made with love. Officer Stevens is usually by the entrance we use every day, and after she tried my peanut parries she was hooked. I’ve never won a ribbon with these, but I keep entering because they are the favorites of Chuck and Linda at the Chili Parlor and we’ve become good friends because of them.
When I brought Officer Stevens her cookies on the last day she said that we had no idea how much our sharing meant to her – and how nice it was just to have people appreciate her. There is no ribbon that can ever top that great feeling when you know you are doing something for the joy of it, but others get to share that joy as well.
Few things are as satisfying to me as helping kids explore the culinary world. You can see how excited they get when they learn they can make and bake things themselves and the more they learn, the more they want to try. I’ve seen it time and time again where a child will eat things that they made themselves but you couldn’t force them to try it if someone else was the chef.
I just got back from spending a wonderful weekend with my grandchildren and I was able to help Jenna plan her 8th birthday. She had very specific ideas about what she wanted to do, and my job was to execute all of the things that she imagined. Her brother decided he wanted chocolate instead of a white cake, so we compromised and had chocolate cupcakes and a white birthday cake. When I went to the grocery store to get the ingredients I realized it would be much less expensive and just as easy to make the cakes from scratch. If you are looking for a recipe for a specific ingredient, check out the package or their website -the company is only going to share recipes that put their products in the best light so this is a great place to start. I didn’t have recipes with me so I checked out the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa box and there were recipes for chocolate frosting and cakes. Their grandpa has always made a wonderful butter cream icing that is a family favorite so we went with that for the birthday cake. Jenna will also never let me live down the fact that I misspelled “birthday” – that’s a story she’ll be telling for a long time!
The kids were so proud of what they were able to accomplish, and the chocolate recipes were fantastic – I think some of the best I’ve ever had. Jenna wanted a pet themed party, and that’s what she got.
Don’t underestimate the skills and interest of your culinary kids. Even when things don’t turn out exactly as planned you can still create memories and recipes that can last a lifetime.