Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Granma's Birthday Cake: "Southern Sensation Coconut Cake"

Ever since I was old enough to watch my Granma Cleva handcraft tasty delights in her kitchen, I was hooked on the tasty, light and fluffy texture of a coconut cake made by her hand. Her February birthday always brings thoughts of this cake. As I grew older, she began teaching me her from-scratch techniques for the ins-and-outs of baking a coconut cake and whipping up the accompanying frosting. As her second birthday since she passed from this life nears, so many "sweet" memories come to mind. When I grew up and would ask her what kind of birthday cake she wanted and her answer would be, "Those bakery cakes are nice, but no one makes a cake as good as yours!" So I made it, and here we are pictured with my first-ever coconut cake. She loved it, so my mission was accomplished.

I lost her in 2009. I had the honor of making her this coconut birthday cake for on so many February 27ths and today I continue that tradition to celebrate her life on this day. I hope you will make this recipe for someone you love.

"Southern Sensation Coconut Cake"
 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
 2 teaspoons baking powder
 1 1/2 cups sugar
 1/2 cup coconut oil
 4 large egg whites

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and dusting of flour. In medium bowl, add flour, baking powder and sugar; set aside. In separate large bowl, add oil and egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry flour mixture in one-thirds to the creamed mixture until all of dry mixture has been added. Pour batter evenly into baking pans. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick in center of cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Frost cooled cake, if desired, with "Southern Sensation Coconut Frosting".

"Southern Sensation Coconut Frosting"
 1/2 cup butter
 1/2 cup shortening
 4 cups powdered sugar
 1 teaspoon cream of coconut
 1/4 cup shredded coconut

 In mixing bowl, add first four ingredients. Beat with mixer 1 minute. Add coconut to mixture. Beat with mixer 5 minutes. Frost cooled cake. Use reserved ½ cup of coconut to coat top and sides of frosted cake. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Presidents' Day: Facts, a Recipe and a Giveaway

Today is Presidents' Day, the American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. My husband and I are big fans of the History Channel programming and they have some interesting facts about this holiday on their website. It was originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington and it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. Traditionally celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual day of birth—the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. While several states still have individual holidays this month honoring the birthdays of Presidents Washington and Lincoln, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.

I make these fun cherry white chocolate chip cookies to celebrate Presidents' Day. In the words attributed to young George Washington, "I cannot tell a lie" -these cherry treats are a hit with my husband and I hope you or someone you love will enjoy them, too! 

"Southern Fried Bride's White Chocolate Cherry Cookies"

1 stick butter, softened 
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheet or line with parchment paper. In large bowl, cream butter, sugar and brown sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly add to creamed mixture. Stir in dried cherries and white chocolate chips. Place by rounded tablespoonful onto baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges start to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet. Remove cookies onto wire rack to finish cooling. Enjoy!

Speaking of holidays, I recently received a wonderful surprise in the mail when a fabulous footwear company sent me their year-round holiday socks collection because they know from reading this blog that I love to celebrate holidays. Snappy Socks have snaps so when you wash them, they stay together in the washer/dryer. I loved wearing the valentine socks and I am wearing the red, white and blue socks today for Presidents' Day. :)

I recently won a giveaway prize from the wonderful toleware company Jayes Studio. I love that every piece they make is made by hand and painted one at a time. They use only lead-free paint and each item is powder coated for durability. This red, white and blue beauty is one of their fun and stylish Catch All Trays valued at $39.00 and in the spirit of today's holiday, I choose to pay it forward to one of you!  

To enter, leave a comment below and let me know your favorite U.S. president or presidents. Giveaway closes tonight at 10:30 pm EST. Winner will be announced immediately. Good luck! 

Our 2nd Valentine's Day as Mr. and Mrs.

I woke up this Valentine's Day morning to find this adorable Precious Moments little boy kneeling down on my nightstand. He will hold my engagement and wedding rings, pictured here, at bedtime. ♥

I came downstairs to find this on our dining table. Craig keeps a tradition that is one of my most precious memories from my childhood: Valentine's Day when I was in 2nd grade, my Mom picked me up from school and took me to Grandpa A.D. and Grandma Cleva's house. When I came through the back door, I saw the "Pink and Pretty" Barbie I dearly wanted on their dining table along with some chocolate chip cookies. They had gone in together and bought me the Barbie doll. Funds were tight and it wasn't easy for them to be able to do it, I see that even moreso looking back as an adult, but they always put me before their own self and that lesson made a lifelong impression on me. This is Breakfast at Tiffany's Barbie with Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly wearing one of my most favorite movie outfits EVER: the Givenchy pink cocktail dress with matching coat and a tiara. 

He sent me these flowers that arrived later in the morning, delivered to our front door by Sherwood Florist (Sher-wood Florist, ha!).

Before dinner, I came back from delivering valentine treats to our next door neighbors to find this amazing sight in our living room. My squeals of surprise and delight came first, followed by tears. Valentine gifts from my husband: Kate Spade's Wellesley "Quinn" handbag in pink, Lilly Pulitzer "Maddie" fleece jacket in pink and green (Thank you to The Pink Door, the Lilly store in Memphis for helping him pull off this surprise!). Lilly Murfee scarf in "First Base", Lilly pink and green print makeup bag from the new Estee Lauder collaboration, Valentine Marshmallow Peeps, a chocolate-covered heart Peep and a bottle of NY Finger Lakes Moscato with a pink label, pictured with "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Barbie in pink. He blew me away with these amazing surprises! 

The new bottle of Moscato wasn't displayed in my wine bottle holder long, because it was opened pretty quickly, but I did think it was a perfect "fit" in this wonderful gift from my treasured Delta Zeta sister Emily. 

Instead of eating dinner out and dealing with the crowds and, in most cases, loud restaurants, this year I'm making our dinner and we will have it in the comfort of our own home. It's a surprise dish for Craig. I am aspiring to recreate our favorite dish from our honeymoon in New Orleans (that I also enjoyed with my DZ Little Susan several times over in December): Shrimp and Grits Napoleon, a tower of fried green tomatoes and seasoned creamy southern grits surrounded by gulf shrimp drizzled with a Cajun cream sauce. I had to go to five local stores to find some of the ingredients for this Southern dish! As another fellow Oklahoman who now resides here tipped me off about, I found one Southern ingredient in the "Foreign Foods" section of a local grocery store here in New York! My husband loved my version of Shrimp and Grits Napoleon. For dessert, I made a raspberry wine pound cake and topped it with a scoop of local-made Port wine ice cream. The dinner was a hit with my husband! We enjoyed a wonderful 2nd Valentine's Day as husband and wife. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Review: "The Taste" on ABC

I'm a huge fan of TV chef Anthony Bourdain and sad when the run for his last show ended recently. I love the way he brings his matter-of-fact opinion with an edge all his own to all of his endeavours and I looked forward to what his next project would be. I was excited to find out he would be taking part in ABC's new cooking competition show "The Taste" as one of 4 culinary star judges and mentors.

The Taste pairs 16 culinary competitors who range from professional chefs to home cooks who were chosen by the panel of judges from a large field of contestants. I always love seeing the preliminary round or rounds of any competition first and I found the premiere episode presented a very good picture into the prospective contestants and those who ended up in the top 16 mixed in with feedback from the judges on each prospect's competition dish, plated in a hearty spoonful size portion for each judge to taste.

The format is 4 judges who then serve as a mentor to 4 contestants serving on their team. The judges chose contestants they hoped to be on their team and invited them at the judging table with the other 3 judges. In some cases, a contestant was requested by two judges and had to decide between the two. When the 16 contestants were divided up into teams, not all 16 ended up on the team of a judge who had hoped for that particular contestant to be on their team. It will be an interesting component to watch how those situations play out in the competition kitchen this season. I have to say that my personal favorite among the contestants is a home cook who won her slot in the top 16 with a chocolate cake.    

The premilinary competition was in the same format as the top 16 competitions, done in a blind taste testing format. I love the dimension the blind taste testing brings to the competition. It also creates the possibility that a mentor judge will end up voting off their own team member from the competition. The spoonful portion only of each dish for tasting is a fascinating component.

The first contestant competition episode aired last week and I love the intensity of this one hour cooking competition format each week as contestants are shown during the preparation process for their designated competition dishes. I recommend this show for fun cooking competition show viewing. The Taste: Tuesday at 8|7c on ABC. You can watch the most recent episode here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mardi Gras Fun Facts and Fat Tuesday Recipe: "Easy Mini King Cakes"

Happy Fat Tuesday! I love the history of the Mardi Gras celebration and I recently won a fun trivia contest with my knowledge of its history. Here are some fun facts for you about this annual event imparted to me by a number of the French Quarter's fabulous tour guides: 

*"Mardi Gras" is French for "Fat Tuesday"and it is an official holiday in the state of Louisiana since 1875.

*French explorer Sieur d'Iberville is credited with bringing the Mardi Gras tradition to America in 1699 because the festival had been celebrated as a major holiday in Paris, France since the Middle Ages.

*Some historians have said New Orleans' grand traditions began in 1827 when a group of students returned from school in Paris and donned strange costumes and danced their way through the streets during Mardi Gras after taking part in this type of revelry in Paris celebrations. Other history sources attribute early French settlers to Louisiana to the growing revelry of this literal holiday. During the years 1827-1833, the New Orleans' Mardi Gras celebrations became more elaborate, culminating in an annual Mardi Gras Ball. 

*The exact date of the first revelries cannot be determined, but  it was well-established by the middle of the Nineteenth Century. The Mystick Krewe of Comus presented its 1857 Torchlight Parade with a theme taken from "Paradise Lost" written by John Milton.

*The colors of Mardi Gras are purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power. 

I am serving up a "piece" of Mardi Gras tradition in a bite-size cake at my house today to celebrate. I am a huge fan of Nordic Ware baking pans because of their durability, non-stick coating and even baking nature. I love mini cakes for personal-size treats and this pan was perfect for my miniature King Cakes for Fat Tuesday. For their 65th anniversary, the Nordic Ware company released a special edition cake pan for mini cakes. They are called "bundtlette" cakes and I think the name is just as cute as the pan. 

Native New Orleanians and locals alike can tell you about the history behind the King Cake and here are some fun facts about this tasty treat. It is traditionally oval in shape, made from a sweet dough and covered with a poured sugar topping decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras-colored sugars of purple, green and gold, symbolizing the  Three Wise Men who visited the Christ Child. This cake tradition is believed to have begun with French settlers around 1870, who were themselves continuing a custom which dated back to Twelfth Century France, when a similar cake was used to celebrate the coming of the Magi twelve days after Christmas bearing gifts for the Christ Child. As a symbol of this Holy Day, a tiny plastic baby (symbolic of the baby Jesus) is placed inside each King Cake but other items sometimes used are coins, beans, pecans or peas. In 1871, the tradition of choosing the Queen of Mardi Gras was determined by who drew the prize within the cake. Today, finding the baby or other prize in the cake is a sign of good luck to the one who finds it. It can also mean the person who finds the prize has to host the next King Cake Party.

I make an easy mini King Cake using Pillsbury reduced fat cinnamon rolls and ready-made writing icing found in the cake decorating section of the baking aisle. It is customary to place a plastic baby inside the cake, but for times when I don't have or want to use a small plastic baby in the cake, I have found a good and fun substitute is to use a pecan instead, and the recipients had just as much fun seeing who finds the pecan in their cake. 

The glittery mask you see pictured is my new Mardi Gras mask, local made in NOLA with no rubber-band because it glues right on with eyelash glue! I am donning at multiple celebrations this year thanks to seeing fabulous Fleurty Girl maven Lauren wearing one and I was so happy to find one for purchase on her website before they sold out. 

"Easy Mini Bundt Pan King Cakes"

1 can Pillsbury reduced fat cinnamon rolls
1 shelled pecan  
1 small tube purple writing icing
1 small tube green writing icing
1 small tube yellow writing icing

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray mini bundt pan with cooking spray and dusting of flour. Remove rolls and glaze from can. Cut each roll in half to make each mini cake. In one of the pieces of dough, add the pecan and shape dough around pecan. In each mini cake mold, shape dough halves around center of bundt mold, then gently press the ends together. Bake 11-13 minutes, or until top is golden brown in color. Cool for 10 minutes and revert pan onto cooling rack or heat-safe surface and remove rolls from pan. Coat rolls with the glaze that comes with the can of rolls. I then drizzle the purple, green and yellow icings across the cakes in sections. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Now...enjoy your Fat Tuesday and as they say it in NOLA, "Laissez les bons 

temps rouler!" (let the good times roll!)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentine's Day Recipe Corner: "Cherries Jubilation Preserves"

Valentine's Week is here! I love to make a homemade valentine treat for my nearby friends and loved ones. This year, I chose to make a cherry refrigerator jam with not one, but two kinds of cherries. I love the flavor combination of red cherries and black cherries. As a special touch, I am serving it to my husband for breakfast this week with toast that I cut into a heart shape using a heart-shaped cookie cutter. This is also a fun jam recipe to celebrate the President's Day holiday later this month.

"Cherries Jubilation Refrigerator Jam"
*makes 6 half-pint jars

1 cup red cherries, pitted and chopped
1 cup black cherries, pitted and chopped  
4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 (1.75 ounce) package powdered no-sugar fruit pectin
3/4 cup water
6 half-pint canning/freezer jars

Rinse 6 clean half-pint freezer-safe canning/freezer jars with boiling water. Dry thoroughly. Wash cherries, remove pits and chop in quarters. Place in medium bowl. Do not drain cherries. If cherries have been chilled, set aside until the cherries reach room temperature. In large mixing bowl, combine room temperature cherries with sugar and lemon juice. Stir well. Set mixture aside 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes. In saucepan, combine powdered fruit pectin and water. Stir well. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Immediately add pectin mixture to cherries and stir well. Keep stirring mixture about 3 minutes until sugar is completely dissolved. Quickly pour into sterile jars to within 1/2 inch of top of jar. Wipe off top edges of jar and cover with lid. Makes 6 half-pint jars. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours to set. After jam has set, enjoy immediately or it can be frozen for up to one year. Once opened, it can be stored in refrigerator up to 3 weeks. Enjoy!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Virtual Quilt Show: Grandma Morgan's Rainbow Afghan

In my last post I shared the picture and story behind my Grandma Ollie's Sunbonnet Sue quilt for the Online Quilt Show hosted by my blogger friend Sharon at Hobbies on a Budget. Now I will share with you about my Grandma Morgan's rainbow afghan.  

I was blessed to get to have my great-grandmother Erie Diamond in my life until my senior year in college. She lived to the age of 97, passing away in spring of 1997. She outlived several of her children, including my paternal grandfather Papa Pete. It was when I lost my Papa when I was 15 that mine and Grandma Morgan's relationship went from close to very special. She lived at the time with my Great Aunt and Uncle. We began writing to one another. We wrote about our Christian faith and how it sustained the both of us through life's tragedies and uplifted us in the good times. Several of my great aunts and uncles on that side of the family have told me through the years that she didn't see them without telling them about how I visited her and remembered her with cards for every holiday and sometimes for no reason at all. She would tell them with such pride that I remembered her when I traveled and sent her a postcard everywhere I went and how she loved to receive and read them. She    dearly loved and thought the world of my mother, and the feeling was mutual. Since my parents were divorced, I think her afghan gift was a special gesture she wanted to do for me even moreso, and it means the world to me. 

When she died, my Great Uncle Bud and Great Aunt Janie came to me and told me that she wanted me to have an afghan that she had crocheted. A few days after the funeral, their son my cousin Bill proudly brought the afghan to my house. I love the intricacy of this afghan pattern. As a "Wizard of  Oz" fan, the rainbow coloring is absolutely perfect for me. This has a place of honor displayed in our Oz themed guest bedroom that houses much of my Oz collection.    

I hope you enjoyed the picture of my family heirloom and the story behind it and the maker. 

Virtual Quilt Show: Grandma Ollie's Sunbonnet Sue Quilt

I am very happy to participate in an Online Quilt Show hosted by my blogger friend Sharon at Hobbies on a Budget. I will be sharing two of my most treasured family heirlooms. I am blessed to be able to have a handmade quilt from great-grandmothers on both of my parent's sides of my family.

I never got to meet my Great-Grandmother Ollie because she died in 1971- 3 years before I was born, but I am named after her and feel a very special closeness to her. Her name was Ollie Eugenia and my middle name is Eugenia in her honor. She was born in the South in 1887 and her family would make their way from Alabama to Arkansas and then Oklahoma, where she would live the rest of her life. I think often about the hardships Grandma Ollie faced in life and it makes me appreciate even moreso the opportunities and advantages I have been given in my 38 years of life. 

She married my great-grandfather and became the beloved mother to my late maternal Grandma Cleva and her 7 siblings as well as a loving grandmother to a number of grandchildren, including my late mother Jan. She was widowed way too early in life at the age of 49 and left with 8 children to raise with the youngest being her 8-year-old daughter Cleva Mae. The oldest of her children, son Gene, was 18 and stepped up into a role as the male head of the household. He served as a father figure to the younger children and as he married and started a family, his intent to care for his younger siblings remained. His sister Cleva credited him as being the father-figure in her life after her Daddy's tragic death from pneumonia in 1936. Grandma Ollie never remarried. During her final years of life, she lived for a time until her health necessitated otherwise, with my grandparents Grandpa A.D. and Grandma Cleva as well as my mother who was a teenager in the home, until . She died in August 1971 at the age of 84. I see now as a young woman touched by grief myself why every year when the month of August came, my Grandma Cleva would have a distinct sadness that always came with the turn of the calendar. This month would again bring Grandma unthinkable loss when my mother would pass away in the month of August 2001. 

Grandma Ollie had a talent for quilt-making and made several quilts in her lifetime. This quilt was passed down to me several years ago by my Grandma Cleva. I set out to learn about the history behind the pattern of this quilt. I located a picture of this "bonnet girl" panel on the Sunbonnet Sue website and I learned this quilt pattern is widely known as "Sunbonnet Sue" and that it is one of the most widely recognized quilt block patterns. 

My husband Craig, before we became engaged, bought me a cherry wood quilt rack with a heart design etched on the sides to display Grandma Ollie's quilt. This quilt, made with love many years ago in rural Cherokee County, Oklahoma now has a place of honor in our guest bedroom in our New York home.
According to the website, you will find the block made into nursery quilts, appliqu├ęd onto clothing and decorated with ribbons and lace. The Sue figure has been depicted working, playing, and getting into mischief. Two ladies are credited with . British book editor Kate (Catherine) Greenaway was known for sweet pictures of little children and girls in bonnets. Many embroidery designs on the patches of fine Victorian crazy quilts were copies of her illustrations. That gave way to Sunbonnet Sue's first appearance in quilts. Bertha Corbett Melcher is credited as a creator of the Sunbonnet designs.  She illustrated children's Primer books in the early 1900s.  Her book, "The Sunbonnet Babies" was published in 1900. In this book, she depicted girls with their faces hidden by their bonnets.

I am honored to have this precious family heirloom and I hope you enjoyed learning both about the quilt's maker and about the pattern's history.

Thursday Favorite Things

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Crowd Pleaser Recipe: "Front Line Cajun Chicken Wings"

Super Bowl Sunday is here and I am serving up chicken wings with a Cajun flair at our house in honor of 2013 host city New Orleans. I serve these wings with plenty of ranch dipping sauce on the side. My husband and I are looking forward to a good game and fun commercials. Will you be watching the game?

Don't forget to enter my Super Bowl Giveaway in yesterday's post that ends tonight. 

"Front Line Cajun Chicken Wings"
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped 
2 tbsp. cooking oil
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (or 1/4 teaspoon each paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano and black pepper) 
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 chicken wings (about 2 lbs.) 

Saute onion in oil for 3-4 minutes. Add tomato sauce, Cajun seasoning (or spice mixture) and salt. Bring to a boil slowly, lower heat and simmer 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and cool. Place chicken wings in large plastic sandwich bag. Cover with marinade, seal bag and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, turn bag in one hour. When ready to bake wings, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken wings in oven baking bag and place in baking dish or place wings in single layer across bottom of baking dish. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the center and browned on the outside. Reserve sauce may to coat chicken wings or to use as a dip for the chicken. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Super Bowl Recipe Corner: "Pizza" with Pillsbury and a Game Day Giveaway!

I have fond memories of my family using Pillsbury products when I was a little girl and I continue that tradition in our household. I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to collaborate with them on a Super Bowl snack project. I received a fun game day gift pack with a pizza pan, pizza cutter, football-shaped wood cutting board and a coupon to try their new Artisan Pizza Crust with Whole Grain for free at my local grocery store.    

If you're a regular reader to this blog, you know that I love New Orleans and am overjoyed that the Super Bowl is being played there this year. I created a pizza recipe with a NOLA flair. 

"Southern Fried Bride's Cajun Crab and Corn Pizza" 

1 can (13.8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated Artisan Pizza Crust with Whole Grain
1/2 cup tomato sauce 
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (or a combination of oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper and black pepper) 
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese blend
1/2 cup lump crab meat
1/2 cup fresh corn or canned corn, drained
1/2 cup green peppers, chopped
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

Preheat oven to 400°F for dark or nonstick pan (425°F for all other pans). Spray 14-inch round pizza pan with cooking spray. Unroll dough; place on pan. Starting at center, press out dough to edge of pan. Bake 8 minutes, or until crust edge begins to set, and remove from oven. Add tomato sauce and cajun seasonings. Stir well. Add sauce mixture to crust and spread evenly to inside edges of crust. Sprinkle cheese over sauce mixture. Spread crab meat across crust. Top with corn, green peppers and sliced mushrooms. Bake 9-13 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. To serve, cut into 6-8 wedges. Enjoy! 
My husband and I loved the texture of this crust with the ingredients. We thought it was crisp and tasty, with the outer crust a full texture that was not too hard of a texture, just the right amount of softness that we like. 

You can download a coupon for $1.50 off one package of the new Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust with Whole Grain here.

One of you will win your own gift pack that contains a coupon for a free Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust with Whole Grain, an EZ-Baker pizza pan, football-shaped bamboo wood cutting board and a pizza cutter.

To enter, leave a comment below and tell me your favorite pizza topping, if you have one. Entries close tomorrow night, Super Bowl Sunday, at 10:00 pm EST. Winner will be announced immediately. Good luck!

Disclosure: The product, gift pack, information, and additional sample have been provided by Pillsbury
through MyBlogSpark."

Friday, February 1, 2013

Go Red For Women and a Heart-Healthy Recipe

February is here, one of my favorite months of the year. Today is National Wear Red Day®, part of the Go Red For Women movement established in 2004 by the American Heart Association along with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Each year, on the first Friday in February, millions of women and men come together to wear red, take action and commit to fighting this deadly disease. Heart disease played a role in taking the live of three of the most important people in my life: my mother and both of my maternal grandparents. I made the decision early on to be proactive about my health and have routine medical tests to keep track of my heart health.  
 According to the Go Red For Women website, they set out to dispel the myth that heart disease was "an old man's disease" by creating a passionate, emotional, social initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health as well as band together and collectively wipe out heart disease. It challenges women to know their risk for heart disease and use the tools that that Go Red For Women provides to take action to reduce their personal risk. This year marks 10 years of this important initiative and in that time, tremendous strides have been made in the fight against heart disease in women, including 21% fewer women dying from heart disease and 23% more women aware that it's their No. 1 health threat. I am happy to participate today by wearing red, spreading awareness with you through these important statistics and sharing my favorite heart-healthy "red" dessert recipe.
 This month also brings the President’s Day holiday and this is one of my favorite cherry desserts. I like the story handed down that President George Washington at age 6 was given a hatchet of his very own and went about chopping everything outside that came his way, including a cherry tree his father was very fond of. Instead of being dishonest, he told the truth to his father that he was the one who cut into the tree. His father told him that his honestly in telling the truth was more valuable than a thousand of those trees. This cherry dessert uses one of my new favorite heart-healthy ingredients: steel cut oats. It makes a great choice for a lightened-up "red" treat- and that’s the truth!


"Southern Fried Bride's Cherry Crunch Delight"

2 (21 oz.) cans no sugar added cherry pie filling 

1/2 cup all-purpose flour (whole wheat flour works great)

1/2 cup steel cut oats  

1/2 cup Splenda brown sugar

1/3 cup margarine, melted  

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray 8 x 8 baking pan with cooking spray. Pour pie filling into baking dish and spread evenly to cover entire dish. In large bowl, combine flour, oats and brown sugar. Mix in melted margarine until mixture has a crumbly consistency. Sprinkle across pie filling. If desired, sprinkle with chopped pecans. Bake 40-45 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!