Dear Steve Jobs: Thanks for the iMemories

I started writing this when I heard Steve Jobs was retiring from Apple, and now after I heard of his passing I thought it was time to share it. Rest in Peace Mr. Jobs – you’ve made the world a better, unforgettable place.

Dear Mr. Jobs,

Thanks to you, I have memories that wouldn’t have been possible without your vision, drive, and ability to see the world like no one else could. Because of you, the consumer got a voice in the crazy world of computers and electronics, and you also gave us a company that would listen to that voice. We stopped being looked at as consumers that were a hindrance and not smart enough to understand code, but parents who want to stay in touch with their children and grandchildren. By creating the Apple Stores I know I am never alone, and there will always be someone there to guide me through the technology tunnel.  Questions become solutions with a “genius” by my side. There is no such thing as a stupid question, and not only have I found answers, I’ve also found life long friends.

Vacation photos became more than a stack of photos – you allowed us to make beautifully presented books that chronicled our dreams, wishes and aspirations. Because of your vision a dummy like me was able to put together videos using iMovie about a new animal rescue group that stirred the heart and soul, and made people understand what Animal Rescue Corps was all about. Because of you, 1,000s of animals have now been saved. I’ve been able to watch my grandchildren grow up on my iPad using FaceTime, and have been able to experience their first time to roll over, steal home base and fall in love. it seems if there is ever something you need, “There’s and App For That”.

You have not only changed the world, you have made it a better place to be. Your passion and vision has changed all of us, and I thank you. You will be missed, and never forgotten.

Fast and Easy Mango Coconut Cobbler

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

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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.

Farm to Market

This Lifestylist® is so fortunate to be close to a great farmers market. The Dallas Farmers Market is open 365 days a year, and I love how they make sure  you know which the local farmers and produce are.

One of my favorite farmers is Lemleys which has had a stall for as long as I can remember. If you want great tomatoes and peaches, this is definitely the place. They are so nice, and Mr. Lemley is often there on weekends sharing his knowledge.

Not only does buying from farmers help support the local economy, it also is an excellent way to save money and eat healthy. Search out your local farmers market and find out what a difference it can make in your lifestyle.

Summer Sweets

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 Treats: Citrus Truffles

Are you looking for something easy and memorable to do for the special person in your life on Valentine’s Day?

These White Chocolate Citrus Truffles will be a gift to remember. I entered these in the State Fair of Texas this year and they were a huge hit.
INGREDIENTS:

3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
Zest of 1 Orange
Zest of 1 Lemon
2 lbs. White Chocolate
1 Tablespoon Shortening

Combine zests and heavy cream in a small saucepan – simmer until bubbles appear.
Remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, warm up again until bubbles appear.
Melt 1 lb. white chocolate, strain cream mixture and add to chocolate. Stir gently and allow to cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
Roll ganache into 1 inch round balls, then put in freezer to set at least 2 hours.
Melt remaining white chocolate, and stir in shortening. Dip centers into chocolate, then garnish with orange zest.

Gifts From the Heart

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
Ingredients:
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
Directions:
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.

Soup’s On!

It is FREEZING here today -last night a “northerner” blew in bringing ice, snow and frigid temperatures to Texas. Fortunately I went shopping yesterday and stocked the shelves of things this Lifestylist® loves to cook.

Vegetable soup is so easy to make from scratch – all it takes is your favorite vegetables, some chicken or vegetable stock and my secret ingredient – a few cans of Ro-Tel. I just prep all of the vegetables, put them in my slow cooker, add the stock and Ro-Tel and let it cook for 2 – 3 hours. It couldn’t be easier and healthier. I make enough to last a few days so I can be as lazy as I want to.

Finding Joy in 2011

It’s hard to believe that in a few hours it will be a new year, but I’m ready for it! 2010 was a struggle for many, and I love the fact that each year rings in with it a sense of optimism and hope.

We all make New Years resolutions that we may or may not keep, but this year I’m making one I’m going to work on every day: finding joy. I have so many blessings, and it’s important to remember that. This year I’m determined to enjoy each and every minute I get to spend with my kids and grandchildren, enjoy the journeys I get to take whether that’s to the local Mexican supermarket or to another country, and to slow down and enjoy my gardens, a spectacular sunset and my family.

I’m also going to make a commitment to help stop suffering and have compassion for all living beings – animals and people alike. We have rescued quite a few animals on our own, and the love they share with me every day makes it all worthwhile.This year I’m going to extend that effort and try to do more.

I also am so lucky to be able to love what I do and be able to make a living doing it. Helping as many people have a safe roof over their heads and a clean bed to sleep in is a purpose that I’ll continue to work on. Every day I go past my neighbors new house and know that I helped get them a safe roof over their heads makes it easier for me to sleep as well.

Having a fantastic and successful New Year isn’t just about making more money or being more successful, for me it’s about finding joy, and appreciating it when I find it.

Huffington Post Pulls Sandra Lee Kwanzaa Cake Story

I am so disappointed! I learned today that the witty post written by Denise Vivaldo about Kwanzaa Cake is no longer up on Huffington Post. This story had over 8,000 views, 1,900 shares on Facebook and 270 comments. Someone sure was enjoying reading it. If anyone has a copy I’d love one -I always wondered how that holiday miracle came to be.

But the great part of this story is that it introduced me to Denise and I was lucky enough to get a copy of her beautiful book “Food Stylists Handbook”. I’m totally motivated now to get back into the kitchen and come up some photo-worthy plates of my own. And I promise, no store bought angel food cakes, apple pie filling, “acorns” or oversized tapers will be harmed in the process.

The Lifestylist® Shares her Adventures as a Fair Foodie