Gorgeous Grandma Day, Every Day

Gorgeous Grandma Day, Every Day

Feeling good starts from the inside out, from how you feel to how you eat. My gorgeous grandma inspired me, and I have shared my best tips for bringing out your best self in my book, “Gorgeous: The Sum of All Your Glorious Parts”!

My sweet grandmother had a daily tradition of getting ready for my grandfather’s return home from work.

At 4:00 she would stop cleaning, running errands, cooking, or whatever was on her agenda that day and go upstairs to her bedroom to get herself dressed.

She put on makeup, combed her hair, and changed her clothes so that she looked her best for Pop Pop.

Her entire demeanor changed when she descended the steps and went to the front porch to wait for him. She stood taller, she smiled broadly, and she had a gleam in her eye. Grammy was just gorgeous!

Because of her, I adopted the idea that gorgeous is not only how you look, but how you feel from the inside out.

In 2006, I followed up on this idea and sat down to author a book on health and wellness with a dear friend and noted plastic surgeon, Dr. Harry Moon.

We felt strongly that a woman’s beauty celebrates her uniqueness, femininity, and diversity. We authored our lifestyle enhancement guide, GORGEOUS! The Sum of All Your Glorious Parts.

Little did I know that as I was drafting a book on health and wellness, I was about to become a grandmother for the first time. The book was published right after Mallory was born!

That was almost 16 years ago.

I picked up GORGEOUS! the other day and thumbed through the chapters and do you know what?

I found it to be more relevant to me today (as a grandmother of five active, busy, fun-loving, little humans) than it was to me then.

GORGEOUS! is full of valuable information that shows us grandmas how to let our natural beauty blossom. Taking a few, small steps toward wellness can grow into healthy habits lasting for decades.

GORGEOUS! is unique because it addresses each one of our body parts from super supple skin, luscious locks, and pretty smiles to finding your beauty sleep, stressing less, and even a couple of sexy spa secrets.

Yup, it has it all.

In honor of Gorgeous Grandma’s Day, I offer every woman the secrets to a whole new gorgeous you.

It starts with a belief….a belief in yourself.

“Gorgeous: The Sum of All Your Glorious Parts”

Order your copy of GORGEOUS! The Sum of All Your Glorious Parts today from Amazon or email me and I’ll send you a personalized copy!

Delicious Lemon & Mixed Berry Bundt Cake…Invented from Leftovers!

Delicious Lemon & Mixed Berry Bundt Cake…Invented from Leftovers!

I’m all about that cake, ‘bout that cake, ‘bout that cake…..

My family came for a little day visit, and naturally it fell into evening. I love to have snacks around for the grabbing – the grandkids LOVE that! With this in mind, I shopped for the berries they adore. I bought pre-peeled/pre-sliced oranges from Whole Foods. I know, I know. I preach “do it yourself”, but they just looked so darn good. Sammy made the fruit platter and painstakingly laid out those slices, next to the pre-prepped watermelon (don’t judge…..) and a variety of berries that spelled out the word, “LOVE”. It was a gorgeous presentation. I packed up the extras, knowing I would have to use up that fruit or watch it wilt faster than a linen blouse on a hot July day!

Anyway….while at Whole Foods (and this is the entire reason I try to stay away from there), I saw the cutest individual cakes. One was in the shape of a decorated Easter egg. One was a blue bunny, and the third a yellow chick. Too cute. I bought all three for the grandkids. What I didn’t know was that Mallory, the oldest, had already prepared and decorated a bunny cake worthy of a five-star French Patisserie!

So, when the family visited, we skipped the Whole Foods cakes. But it didn’t stop there. I gave the cakes away…to a young mom with small kids. I didn’t want them to go to waste, and they found a good home. That night, after dinner, hubby came into the kitchen and asked where the cakes were. I told him what I did, and you’d think I shot an arrow into his heart. Who knew he had designs on a bunny cake! Guilt took over and right then and there, I decided to make him his very own grown-up cake.

I’m feeling springy these days, so lemon cake it was. But I upped my standard with the addition of the berries and oranges leftover from the grandkids’ fruit platter. I think my Grandmothers, who never let anything go to waste, would have been proud. I know my hubby is happy again! Because it’s all about those cakes, ‘bout those cakes…

Lemon Cake

With Sweetened Berries and Cream Cheese

Serves a crowd

30 minute cuisine plus baking

For berry filling:

1 pint mixed berries

1 orange, peeled and chopped

½ cup granulated sugar

For cream cheese filling:

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

½ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For cake batter:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 ⅓ cups milk

½ cup butter, melted, 1 stick

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Zest of 1 medium lemon, about 1 tablespoon

Juice of 1 medium lemon, about 2 tablespoons

For lemon glaze:

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Zest of 1 medium lemon, about 1 tablespoon

Juice of 1 medium lemon, about 2 tablespoons


Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray and dust with flour.

Place the berries in a deep pot with ½ cup granulated sugar and about ½ cup of water. Cook over low heat until the berries break down and look like a syrupy sauce, about 20 minutes. Use a potato masher to break down any stubborn berries. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla on a small bowl with a wooden spoon until fluffy and smooth. Set this aside while you prepare the batter.

Whisk together the flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, melted butter, 2 teaspoons vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice in another bowl. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined

Pour half of the batter into the prepared Bundt cake pan. Dollop half of the berry sauce over the batter. Do the same with half of the cream cheese. Use a knife to gently swirl the fillings into the batter. Spoon the remaining batter into the pan. Dollop the remaining filling over the top and gently swirl again.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. After the cake is cooled, gently run a knife around the edges and center of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert the cake onto a rack and cool completely.

Whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a medium bowl to create a smooth glaze. Place parchment or waxed paper under the rack with the cake. Drizzle the glaze over the cake.





Spring Break Breakfast Buffet & Entertaining Ideas

Spring Break Breakfast Buffet & Entertaining Ideas

Through Easter Sunday on April 21st, schools are closing and people (families with young kids as well as college students) are traveling for Spring Break. If you’re lucky enough to play host to your grandkids, nieces and nephews or just good friends, you’re going to need some breakfast ideas.

I say this because it’s hard to get in the car and bring home donuts, when your driveway is blocked by Aunt Edna’s SUV. You may have to lay out a buffet for those in the group with other plans – like a family member who didn’t get time off and is on their way to work. Here’s a full proof menu for everyone – especially the adults who need to be well nourished before they head to Disney, the park, or the beach.

My Maple Hazelnut scones from Canvas and Cuisine are yummy. You can make them ahead and bake them in 20 minutes, so they are warm out of the oven.  The artichoke and fennel strata (same cookbook) is a perfect brunch dish, and it goes great with SUNDAY BEST candied bacon.

You can prep the bacon the day before. Dredge it in brown sugar. Put it on the oven rack and bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes or more, depending on thickness of bacon. Make a lot!

Flatbread breakfast bar

Lay out some flour tortillas and bowls of scrambled eggs and/or chopped veggies, herbs, sour cream and guac for a flat bread breakfast bar.

I recommend Bloody Marys for the drinks! Use Charleston Bloody Mary mix and pickled okra for garnish. You can find both the drink mix and jars of okra at most grocery stores.

An Idea for Grandparents with Kids Underfoot

On an idle day, when there’s not much planned and the little ones seem restless, work on rock painting together. You can pick up a rock painting kit with as many as 7 stones inside for a pittance at places like Target or Hobby Lobby. Have the kids paint up a storm, and then leave behind one of their personalized rocks at each place you tour or visit during their vacay! When they return next year, you can always check to see if it’s still there!

Maple Frosted Hazelnut Scones

makes 12 scones

30 minute cuisine

For Scones:

½ cup old-fashioned oats

½ cup hazelnuts

2 ¾ cups pastry flour

1/3 cup natural cane sugar

2 tablespoons baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

¾ cups heavy cream

1 large egg

For Frosting:

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

¼ cup milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons maple extract

1 tablespoon brewed coffee

Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the oats and hazelnuts into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to finely chop. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into the bowl. Pulse to combine. Add 1 cup butter pieces to the bowl. Pulse to form coarse crumbs. Whisk together the milk and egg. With the machine running, pour the liquid through the feed tube. The dough will come together around the blade.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board. The dough will be sticky and that’s okay! You can add a bit more flour to make the dough easier to handle while you use your hands to form the dough into a rectangle about ¾-inch thick and about 8-inches by 9-inches. Use a knife to cut the dough into 6 rectangles. Cut each rectangle into 2 triangles. Use a spatula to transfer each triangle onto 1 large or 2 smaller parchment lined baking sheets. Bake until the scones puff up and just begin to turn golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool scones on the baking sheet.

For the frosting, whisk together confectioners’ sugar, milk, melted butter and maple extract. You want the frosting to be thick but pourable. Drizzle the frosting on the scones. Store scones in an airtight container for up to 4 days.


Artichoke and Fennel Strata

serves 6 to 8

40 minute prep, at least 2 hours to chill, about an hour to bake

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 ounces mild Italian sausage (if you buy these in links, remove the casings)

1 small fennel bulb, tops trimmed, cored and chopped, about ¾ cup

1 (16-ounce) loaf brioche bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 (14-ounce can) marinated artichoke hearts, drained, squeeze dry and chopped

8 eggs, beaten

2 cups milk

4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated, about 1 cup

2 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated, about ½ cup

4 to 5 green onions, thinly sliced, about ½ cup

1 tablespoon Dijon style mustard

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon herbes de Provence

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the sausage and fennel. Cook until the sausage is browned and crumbly and the fennel is soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat. Place half of the bread cubes into a large baking dish that has been coated with vegetable oil spray. Cover the bread with sausage and fennel. Top with artichokes. Place the remaining bread cubes over the top.

Whisk together the eggs and milk in a large bowl. Stir in the cheeses, green onion, mustard, parsley and herbes de Provence. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Pour this custard over the bread cubes. Push down the top bread so that all the ingredients are completely submerged in the liquid. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or as much as overnight; this will allow the bread to absorb all the liquid and the flavors to merge together.

When you are ready to serve, preheat the oven to 350°. Take the strata from the fridge and remove the plastic wrap. Cover the strata with aluminum foil. Bake until the strata begins to set around the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the strata is puffy and golden, about 20 to 30 minutes more. Let the strata rest for 10 minutes before serving.









King Cake Cookies for Fat Tuesday FUN!

King Cake Cookies for Fat Tuesday FUN!

It’s only Monday, and I’m looking toward the middle of the week already, like a good Catholic should. This hump day, is Ash Wednesday, signifying the official end of Mardi Gras season. It means the Easter bunny is right around the corner!

If you have not had your fill of King cake yet, here’s one last bite for you to enjoy before you lower your sugar intake for Lent! Take a gander at my King Cake cookies. They’re a bite size version of the now famous pastry; better yet, you can eat the whole dang batch without finding a plastic baby inside.

I went nuts with the sprinkles…maybe like a good Catholic should. Here’s the religious history behind the world famous dessert.

Mardi Gras season begins on January 6th, the “Twelfth Night”, known to Christians as the Epiphany. Epiphany loosely translates from the Greek word “to show”, and has to do with the Three Kings (and the world!) seeing baby Jesus for the first time. This is why King cake is decorated with the royal colors of gold for power, green for faith and purple for justice.

King cake is thought to have originated as a pastry created in France and brought to New Orleans in the late 1800s. Which reminds me of my Mardis Gras tradition. My grandmother created donut Tuesday to remind us of one last day of sweet eating before we children gave up our sweets for Lent. Those donuts were fried puffs of light and airy dough covered in powder sugar that stuck to your fingers when you popped one in your mouth.

These cookies are a bit of a reminder of those donuts, while paying tribute to King cake. They’re easy to bake and FUN to eat! Enjoy!!


King Cake Cookies

Makes 8 to 10 (4-inch) cookies

30 minute cuisine

If you don’t have a King Cake in your future, you might just give these cookies a try!

For Cookies:

1 ½ cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup milk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon lemon extract

6 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

For Glaze:

1 ½ cup confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons milk

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon lemon extract

Sugar sprinkles in yellow, purple and green

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.

Stir together milk, ½ teaspoon vanilla and ¼ teaspoon lemon extracts in a small bowl.

Use an electric mixer to combine the butter with the granulated sugar until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute. Mix in the egg. With the motor set on low speed, add half of the flour and half of the liquid. When this is combined, stir in the remaining flour ending with the liquid. Use a 1 ½ -inch ice cream scoop to drop the dough onto the baking sheets. Bake until the cookies just begin to brown on the edges, about 15 minutes. The cookies will be domed and cake-like. Cool the cookies on racks.

Use a whisk to stir together confectioners’ sugar with 3 tablespoons milk and ¼ teaspoon vanilla and ¼ teaspoon lemon extracts until smooth. Dip the cooled cookies in the glaze and set back onto a rack. Place parchment or waxed paper under the rack. Sprinkle the glaze with your favorite sprinkles making sure to use yellow, purple and green!


Valentine’s Day Par…TEA!

Valentine’s Day Par…TEA!

February 14th is around the corner. The holiday differs depending on where you are in life. If you’re raising kids, there are valentines to seal and deliver. If you’re in love, the day calls for flowers, chocolates – maybe dinner reservations if you’re okay with crowds.

In other words, the kind of stuff that makes you glad when it’s over.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It can be F-U-N! And here’s the truth from a self-described EXTREME PARTY PLANNER. In all my years of entertaining, I’ve come to see that the best thing you could do on Valentine’s Day is stay home!

But you can’t just do nothing, right? Not with an excuse like Feb 14 to have a party. So make it the easiest of parties…make it a TEA party!

The guest list is easy. Got grandkids? Invite ‘em! They will never stop talking about the time Nana hosted high tea. Just you and a significant other? Make it tea for two. Or you can just have a few friends come over and nibble crustless sandwiches, dunk macarons in Earl Gray and talk about Downton Abbey.

What you can’t make, can pretty much be bought. I’ve seen cases of macarons (in pinks and reds no less) for sale at the grocery store. It’s also kind of fun to buy crustless Pepperidge Farm bread (in white or pumpernickel) to make cucumber, chicken salad or pimento cheese sandwiches.

Cut them up small, so they fit on a 3 tier cake stand.

A roll of puff pastry dough from the frozen food aisle enables spur of the moment pastries, both savory and sweet. Idea: Make a Caesar salad and plop tablespoons into baked phyllo cups.

OR…Make my TRIO OF PICNIC Pinwheels, a SUNDAY BEST favorite. I’ve posted the recipe below.

On a tiered tray, I like to make the top level up with 4 to 6 savory items and up to 5 sweet ones on the bottom level – I’m talking desserts like mini slices of key lime pie, baby brownies, scones and lil’ cupcakes.

The middle level can have hand dipped chocolate strawberries, and ramekins full of clotted cream, butter, chutney, raspberry jam or any garnish your guests see fit.

And of course you need to have a tea pot standing by, either pre-made with a black tea blend that is a safe bet for most palates, or just hot water with array of teabags on offer. I also highly recommend offering pink and yellow lemonades – something cold and un-caffeinated.

I’ll be posting table-scape ideas and shopping lists, now through Valentine’s Day on all the social media channels. Find me @jorjmorgancooking! Be Mine always when you subscribe to the weekly blog. XOXO

Trio of Picnic Pinwheels

Smoked Salmon Pinwheels
½ pound medium fresh asparagus spears, trimmed, about 16
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
8 ounces smoked salmon
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons capers, drained
¼ small red onion, peeled
2 (10-inch) flour tortillas

Warm a grill pan over high heat. Toss the asparagus with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill the spears until crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Place the salmon, cream cheese, capers and red onion into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Lay the tortillas onto your work surface. Spread each one with salmon spread. Lay the asparagus over the top. Roll up the tortillas over the filling. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until ready to slice.

California Pinwheels
4-ounces cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup good quality mayonnaise
1 large avocado, pitted and peeled
Juice from ½ lime, about 1 tablespoon
8 slices Provolone cheese
8 slices roasted turkey
10 to 12 cornichons, chopped

Place the cream cheese, mayonnaise and avocado into the bowl of a food processor. Sprinkle with lime juice. Pulse to combine. Lay the tortillas onto your work surface. Spread each one with avocado spread. Lay the cheese and turkey slices over the top. Sprinkle the cornichons in a line over one edge of the filling. Roll up the tortillas over the cornichons and filling. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to slice.

Ruben Pinwheels

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sauerkraut
1 tablespoon prepared Thousand Island dressing, plus 1 cup for pinwheels
8 slices corned beef
8 slices Swiss cheese

Place the cream cheese, sauerkraut and 1 tablespoon Thousand Island dressing into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Lay the tortillas onto your work surface. Spread each one with sauerkraut spread. Lay the corn beef and Swiss cheese slices over the top. Spread with another layer of Thousand Island dressing. Roll up the tortillas over the filling. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to slice.


American Girl Introduces a Doll After My Own Heart

American Girl Introduces a Doll After My Own Heart

Meet Blaire Wilson, the red-headed farmer. She’s the newest addition to the American Girl Doll line. Blaire has a family-run restaurant right on the farm. The table is set with plates, food and flowers in empty bottles for the centerpiece. There’s a menu, of course, pictured below.

Blaire lives with her family on a sustainable farm with her pet pigs, goat and chickens. She bakes for her community and overcomes her shyness about her food allergy.

On New Year’s Day (American Girl Doll REVEAL day), I found myself tugging my granddaughter into the store that was brimming with Nanas and Mimis and Gigis all ogling the doll, the kitchen in the farmhouse, the garden and all the accessories. Not only is this an exquisite toy; the doll beautiful, the details intriguing (multi-colored eggs sitting next to a farm sink), the message is totally in-line with my passion.

Back when my granddaughter was enthralled with everything American Girl, I often wondered about the genius behind their marketing team. They design dolls with narratives that appeal to multi-generations while problem-solving contemporary story-lines. They don’t dumb it down. Each doll has books that take you into their make-believe lives. They deal with real issues and ask you to believe in their truths – almost like having a doll mentor.

Yes, the whole thing is expensive… that’s why there is a community of grandparents in the check-out line. But, it’s also inclusive, creating dolls from different cultures and even genders! One of the displays in the story has a boy-doll on a float in a swimming pool!! Check out this menu from the doll café!

You are probably asking what the heck this has to do with my food blog, and I’m here to tell you it has everything to do with food and family. Teaching impressionable children the importance of family (whatever that family looks like) is my passion. Blending this while instilling the value of farming, knowing where our food comes from and caring about the environment that creates this food, is a life lesson for future generations. What a way to begin 2019!

And now for the recipe! One of the farm doll’s offerings was a Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake. I haven’t created her recipe…. yet. But I can offer you my recipe for Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks from Sunday Best Dishes. I think your American Girl Doll will approve!

Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks


3 cups half and half
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon sea salt
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

Heat the half and half and vanilla in a sauce pan over medium heat until it just begins to simmer. Remove from the heat.

To make the caramel, heat the sugar and ¼ cup water in another pan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat and bring the sugar to a boil until it turns a golden amber color, about 8 minutes. Swirl the pan around to insure even coloring.

Slowly pour the warm half and half into the caramel. Be careful, it will bubble vigorously and expand up the sides of the pan.

Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl. Pour about ½ cup of the caramel into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Immediately pour back into the pan. This prevents the eggs from scrambling. Stir over medium heat until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Pour the custard into the bowl of your ice cream maker and process according to directions. Stir in the salt and chopped chocolate during the last two minutes of chilling. Serve immediately, or transfer to a container and freeze for up to 3 days. Let the ice cream sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.