Mixed Berry Tart



Hello there– We had lunch with the family Sunday– And a couple special guests.  Jodi had a sweet friend and her 9 year old daughter visiting from China.  I was a little nervous–not so proficient at woking up Chinese food!  But Jodi assured me that he friend was well traveled and could eat my unfamiliar American cooking– so it was tri-tip on the grill and all the fixings.  And for desert summer berries nestled into a creamy filling over  crispy crust.

We had a wonderful visit–so good to get to know Jodi’s world a little bit better.  And the grand-girls and their visiting buddy had a fine time inaugurating the new craft closet– there were paper and feathers and wiggly eyes strewn across the room and some pretty fanciful creations immerged.  Fun day all around.  And here’s dessert:


1 cup flour
3 tab. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 egg yolk
2 tab. cold water

8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. instant vanilla pudding mix*

3 cups mixed summer berries**
1/4 cup raspberry jelly

To make the crust, mix together the flour, 3 tab. sugar and salt.  Cut the butter into smallish chunks. Then with a pastry blender (0r 2 forks) cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.  In a cup, whisk together the egg yolk and 2 tab. water.  Pour it into the flour & butter crumbs and keep cutting in until it is all blended.

Press the dough (it will be crumbly!) into a 9″ tart (or pie) pan and put it into a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until it comes out nicely browned. Set is aside to cool.

To make the filling, beat the cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until it is well blended.  Set aside.

In a different bowl, beat the whipping cream and vanilla pudding mix with an electric mixture (whisk attachment works fastest!) until it is stiff.

Then fold together the whipped cream and the cream cheese mixture until they are blended.  And scoop the filling into the cooled crust.

Mix the berries with the raspberry jelly and spoon them over the cream.  I used strawberries, cut I cut them in halves.   That’s it– cut the tart into neat slices and pass them around!


*The pudding mix stabilizes the whipped cream so it keeps it’s shape.
**I used strawberries and blueberries– but blackberries, raspberries  or even peaches & plums, would be pretty!!

Rosamund Pilcher–an old favorite

Hi reading friends–  Don’t you think some books are rather like comfort food– that’s how I feel about Rosamunde Pilcher’s series of books. I’ve read them all, but now and then I just need cozy undemanding book and I pull one of her’s off the shelf.  They’re set in Cornwall or Scotland or London– and usually center on a family, including a beloved older grandma type.  I’ve always loved her characters.  They just feel like old friends.  So for some light summer reading here’s my favorites:


The She Seekers is Pilcher’s most well known book– Penelope Keeling, in her later years, is remembering her bohemian childhood with her artist father near the Cornish coast, her service in WWII in the British military,  her love of a lifetime during those war years.  And in the present there are her three children, grasping Nancy, sophisticated Olivia and devious Noel all with their own ideas about the disposition of Penelope’s dearest treasure — the valuable painting “The Shell Seekers,” given to her by her father years ago.  There are so many likable characters, tender moments and a few surprises along the way.  It really is one of the few books I would read and reread.


51PMsim95DL._SX307_BO1,204,203,200_Love this story of good intentions gone awry. It reads like one of those tender hearted 1940’s movies.  After Flora Waring unexpectedly discovers she has a long lost twin sister Rose, she agrees to take Roses place just for a weekend with her finance’s family in Scotland.  But she falls into a fondness for the Armstrong family she is deceiving and finds some unexpected attachments.  It involves loch side walks, colorful characters and highland dancing. Flora and the family will stir your heart…

41R0x07Px5L._AC_US320_QL65_Flower in the Rain is a collection of short stories Pilcher wrote for magazines over the years.  It’s a good one to tuck in a suitcase for reading on a trip– there’s a couple who reconnect after years apart, a boy who builds a doll house for his sister when their father cannot, Cousin Dorothy-who learns to love a difficult person… People you’d like to know and places you’d enjoy spending time.  Just a gentle companionable, satisfying  summer book.  I think you might like it too.

Three Ingredient Pancakes!



Hello friends– One of the best things about being retired is morning time–no quick cup of yogurt and rush out the door to school!  So today after my early walk and email check, I indulged myself with pancakes, tea and a good book!  Lazing over breakfast– it feels like I’m on a vacation!

This recipe is super easy and makes just three pancakes in about 10 minutes.  Perfect for one quiet breakfast.  They are custardy and light and really taste like banana.  This could get to be a habit around here…

1 ripe banana
1 egg
2 tab. whole wheat flour

Smash the banana into a bowl until it forms a thick paste.  Beat in the egg until it’s well blended.  Stir in the whole wheat flour to combine well.

Heat  a griddle and spray with cooking spray.  Pour three lovely pancakes from the batter bowl and cook about 2 minutes on each side.  That’s it– so easy!


toppings: blueberries, pecans, yogurt, maple syrup– or anything!  use your imagination– granola, banana, almonds, ricotta, peanut butter, crumbled bacon, honey, peaches, strawberries…

Asian Pork Meatballs



Hello all– It’s really full on summer here– so around dinner time I’m looking for something fast, light and fun to eat.  I think this qualifies–sort of a banh mi sandwich disguised as a salad.  We ate it with a chunk of french bread (the sandwich!!) and a bottle of Sweet Chili Sauce at hand.  It was fresh and delish!


1 pound ground pork
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tab. cilantro, chopped fine
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. lime zest (about 1 lime)
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

finely shredded green cabbage
shredded carrots
thinly sliced radishes
red pepper, cut in thin strips
sprigs cilantro

1/4 cup canola oil
2 tab. lime juice
1 tsp. honey
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
And a bottle of sweet chili sauce to splash on those meatballs!

In a mixing bowl thoroughly mix the pork, ginger, garlic, cilantro, soy sauce, lime zest and breadcrumbs.  Form the mixture into 16 medium size meatballs and set them on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Pop them in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, until they are nicely browned.

Arrange the salad ingredients on 4 plates.  Shake the dressing ingredients together in a container with a tight fitting lid and drizzle it over the salad ingredients.

Add on the meatballs when they come out of the oven.  Done and delish!




Being Complete

“Look to your perfect Lord, and remember, you are complete in him.”

–Charles Spurgeon (1834 – 1892)  beloved pastor in London.

Loved reading this– it’s so true for me.  Sometimes I feel like something is missing and I can try to fill the gap with friends or busy-ness or big plans ahead.  But what I really need is to stop and rest and talk with God.  In those sweet moments, I feel complete.

Mocha Cake with Chocolate Ganache


Hi all– Our mom got the family together this weekend to celebrate a couple birthdays– my brother Mark and sis Lulu.  Mexican dinner, cake & presents in the back yard a laugh-inducing night of looking at old family slides– the crazy hair-dos, the old boyfriends…  It was a marvelous, memorable summer evening all together.

And we birthday-ed with  a rich super moist cake (thanks to all that coffee flavored syrup drenching the baked cake).  Add the deep chocolate ganache and crunchy almonds.  It serves well as a celebration cake!


1 chocolate cake mix
3 oz. box of chocolate instant pudding mix
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup Kahlua
1 cup mini chocolate chips*

2 tab. butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Kahlua
1/2 cup strong coffee

2 tab. butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz. chocolate (1 1/3 cup chocolate chips)

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds


In a mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the cake mix, instant pudding mix, chocolate syrup, eggs, water, oil and 1/2 cup Kahlua.  Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.  Then stir in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into a tube pan or bundt pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray and put it into a 325 degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until a thin knife inserted comes out clean.

While the cake is cooking make up the syrup.  In a sauce pan combine the butter, sugar and 1/3 cup Kahlua.  Bring them to a simmer and simmer on low heat for a minute until the sugar dissolves.  Stir in the 1/2 cup coffee.

When the cake comes out of the oven, leave it in the pan to cool.  Poke holes in the top of the warm cake with a fork.  Then evenly pour the syrup over the cake and let it soak in.  Leave the cake in th pan until it cools completely.

Invert the cooled cake onto a plate and make the ganache.  In a saucepan, bring the 2 tab. butter and the 1/2 cup whipping cream to a slow simmer.  Turn off the heat and immediately pour in the chocolate chips.  Beat the mixture until the chocolate is melted.  And then continue to beat it 3 or 4 minutes more to bring out the shine in the chocolate.

To candy the almonds, heat the sugar and sliced almonds over medium heat in a small pan. Keep stirring for several minutes until the sugar melts and turns to caramel to coat the almonds –be careful– if the heat’s too hot it can burn!  Then turn the nuts out onto a sheet of foil on the counter and separate them with a wooden spoon to cool.

Drizzle the ganache over the cake and sprinkle the almonds over the top.  Viola!

*Mini chocolate chips won’t sink to the bottom of the cake pan a clump like standard chocolate chips can do.


Happy Birthday Mark & Lulu!!

Parmesan Chicken with Roasted Tomatoes


Hello there– Well, my crop is in!  A friend at school gave be a mini cherry tomato plant and I slapped it in a big pot and set it outside the kitchen door where I would remember to water it every day.  And guess what!  It really took off!  Larry propped up it’s spreading branches and it’s loaded with these tiny cheery tomatoes, bright and sweet.

2 cups cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
garlic salt & freshly ground pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tab. flour
3 tab. grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp.freshly ground pepper
2 tab. olive oil
fresh basil (cut to shreds) or marjoram leaves for garnish*

Here’s my tomato crop–hardly a bountiful harvest, but I love picking those little things!!

In a mixing bowl stir together the tomatoes and 3 tab. olive oil.  Liberally sprinkle it all with garlic salt and freshly ground pepper and spread the mixture onto a baking sheet– scrape all the extra olive oil out of the bowl to cover the tomatoes.

Put them in a 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on the size of your tomatoes) until the skins burst and they are sweet and juicy.

While the tomatoes are roasting, slice the chicken breasts horizontally into 2 or 3 thin filets each.  In a shallow bowl mix the flour, parmesan, tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.  Heat the 2 tab. olive oil in a skillet.  Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture and set it into the hot skillet.  Cook 3 or 4 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through.

Set the chicken on a platter and pour over the roasted tomatoes. Sprinkle on fresh basil or marjoram leaves to garnish.  Eat it hot with a crisp summer salad and a chunk of sturdy bread.  Quick and fresh for a summer’s supper.

*I used marjoram just because it grown like a weed in our side yard–basil would be great too!

P.S. the photos are just half a recipe– enough for my Larry and me.