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.
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.
Let’s get CHEESY on Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day or anytime ooey-gooey-melty cheese is required in your household! This is my legendary grilled cheese recipe. Save and share!
Cheese is my go-to snack.
I hide my favorites in the back of the cold cut drawer so that I can sneak in to grab a wedge, a cube, or a slice when no one is looking!
I like grilled cheese, cauliflower dunked in cheese sauce, pimento cheese sandwiches, melting cheese dips, shredded cheese in the middle of my omelets, brie cheese on my panini press sandwiches…Get the picture?
In my book, At Home Entertaining, The Art of Hosting Parties with Style and Panache (PS you can still find a copy on Amazon!) I designed a party that I called Dinner for Four on the Floor.
This was based on one of the first dinner parties I ever hosted.
I was in my one bedroom apartment hosting my (soon-to-be-hubby) boyfriend and my best friend, Sherry and her hubby, Jon.
My small dining table sat two, so I improvised and threw cushions on the floor around my slightly larger coffee table. I borrowed fondue pots from friends and served fondue for dinner and dessert.
We sat on that floor for hours forming forever friendships and stuffing our faces with bread and veggies dipped in smooth, luxurious cheese.
I still LOVE fondue. Melting cheese is yummy. Bread dipped into melting cheese is about the best THING ever!
But melting cheese sandwiched in between toasted bread is a real close second. Here’s a preview from the “Cheesy Things” section of my next book. It’s a quick tutorial on how to make the BEST DAMN Grilled Cheese sandwich you’re ever going to eat.
And while you’re at it, why not pull up some pillows next to your coffee table and invite your best friends to enjoy a bread and cheese experience that their sure to enjoy!
My Legendary Grilled Cheese Sandwich
2 tablespoons butter
2 slices bread (your choice)
2 to 4 (1-ounce) slices cheese (your choice)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place the cheese in between the bread slices.
Now this is where it gets FUN. Spread the outsides of each sandwich with mayonnaise. Mayo will help to get that buttery crunch that is required for a great grilled cheese.
Place the sandwich into the pan. Wait 30 seconds and flip the sandwich to the other side. This first 30 seconds makes sure that the top side of the bread will crisp.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the bottom bread is golden, about 2 minutes more. Flip one last time and cover the sandwich with either the lid of the pan or a piece of aluminum foil. Cook until the cheese is melting, and the bottom of the bread is golden brown.
Transfer the sandwich to a plate. Keep the foil over the sandwich for 3 more minutes while the cheese settles down and then you are ready to eat!
Good old white sandwich bread and a couple of slices of American cheese are the standard for this sandwich.
While this is a great start, there are so many variations and additions for your grilled cheese sandwich, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Here are some good combos:
All American Grilled Cheese with turkey, avocado, sliced tomato, and Swiss cheese
Breakfast Grilled Cheese with thick sliced ham, scrambled eggs, and Gruyere cheese
Apple Pie Grilled Cheese with bacon, sliced apples, and cheddar cheese.
Pizza Grilled Cheese with pepperoni, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and Mozzarella cheese
Sunday Night Grilled Cheese with left-over meatloaf, caramelized onions, and Brie cheese
Philly Steak Grilled Cheese with thin slices of beef, sauteed bell peppers and onions and Provolone cheese
My Mac Grilled Cheese with a spoonful of mac ‘n cheese and layers of cheddar cheese
Buffalo Grilled Cheese with Buffalo spiced chicken, blue cheese dressing and chopped celery
I’m embarking on a new year of writing that celebrate others like me, who LIVE TO EAT! Just such a person is 28-year-old Alex Rold.
Rold takes eye popping, UNREAL, mouthwatering Instagram photos of all his foodie adventures in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s not the marketing analyst’s day job but perhaps it should be. I know his mother…yet I found my foodcentric cohort on his IG page, @roldinginthe_eats through drool of mouth. Sufficed to say, I was hardly the first one to notice Alex’s keen eye for superlative places to eat.
He was featured on Atlanta Eats a little over a year ago, when he said his nosh hobby really took hold and sent him on a photographic tour of the famed Buford Highway – a 7 mile path of restaurants, food halls and markets, that really are a dream come true for anyone with taste buds.
Buford Highway has its own China Town and massive food courts, with stalls that are like a United Nations in food: Korean, Mexican, Vietnamese, Dominican, African, you name it!
“If you’re not used to Buford, it can be overwhelming. The diversity you’ll find there, sometimes language barriers – it’s the best Asian food, best true Szechuan food, I’ve had in my life. I’m there almost every night of the week,” said Rold.
He recommended we all try the numbing peppers at Good Luck Gourmet and Masterpiece. Nam Phuong is definitely a favorite haunt for Vietnamese food.
Rold said his near daily trek down the four-lane highway, stretching from just north of Atlanta (Brookhaven) to Duluth, GA in Gwinnett County, has been the path toward more than just amazing food.
Being food oriented has also been the path toward the best friendships of his life.
“I recognize friends from Instagram on Buford Highway all the time – people I never would have met were it not for our shared love of eating,” he said.
Clicking through the IG pages of his fellow Atlanta food advocates, one can find recommendations for the best fried Korean chicken wings, dumplings, tandoori chicken, Pho, tacos, burgers and ice cream.
I, @jorjmorgancooking have followed them all and urge my own food blog subscribers to do the same. The photo below is one of Alex’a Instagrams. It reads:
The Shed Burger – @creekstone_farms grass fed angus beef on brioche topped with homemade bacon jam and smoked Gouda. Served with fries.
If you are looking for similar pics of gorgeous grub, check out his friends on these Instagram pages:
In the meantime, here’s a list of best international Buford Highway restaurants according to the Travel Channel, and my solemn vow that I will persuade Alex in the near future to join my Super Supper Book Club – because I know he likes to cook almost as much as he loves to go out. Don’t worry, Rold. I won’t breathe a word of what happened when you invented your own ice cream flavor with limited edition Captain Crunch.
Speaking of gourmet, here’s Alex’s own effort at making Japanese soufflé pancakes, which he said his New York Times Cooking subscription taught him how to make.
I may feature my own version of these fairy tale cakes sometime in February, and bring a short stack to my next Super Supper Book Club, should we decide to feed and read on a novel like Crazy Rich Asians next.
Welcome to my Super Supper Book Club where we merge a book club with a supper club for an evening with friends that combines food and thought (with a few gossipy moments interspersed!)
On the 3rd Monday of each month, I’ll give you a summary of a book I’ve read and really enjoyed. I’ll also give you a supper club menu with recipes that are built around the theme of the book. You assemble your friends, give them the book title and dole out the recipes so that everyone brings a dish to the party.
While you’re discussing and dining, snap a picture of your event. Post the pic to my Facebook/Instagram pages and enter to win a cookbook for your next dinner party. Sounds like some FUN, yes?!
Set in the fictional town of Crystal, Colorado, The Gifted School is a keenly entertaining novel that observes the drama within a community of friends and parents, as good intentions and high ambitions collide in a pile-up with long-held secrets and lies. Seen through the lens of four families who’ve been a part of one another’s lives since their kids were born over a decade ago, the story reveals not only the lengths that some adults are willing to go to get ahead, but the effect on the group’s children, sibling relationships, marriages, and careers, as simmering resentments come to a boil and long-buried, explosive secrets surface and detonate.
I loved The Gifted School’s relevance to today’s headlines. It was dark but hilarious! I urge you to listen to the podcast, Gangster Capitalism once you’ve read the book. Listening to it is sure to spark even more conversation for your book discussion.
I already cooked up some conversation starters for The Gifted School…
What is the higher education endgame when parents have to compete for quality daycare placement for their babies?
Who is in competition, the child or the parent?
What games are played in the name of educational opportunity?
My inspiration for The Gifted School Super Supper Book Club menu is school lunch. Not the school lunch of our childhood experience. You remember sliding those compartmentalized trays down the waist-high counter in the cafeteria while those sweet kitchen ladies doled out scoops of mac ‘n cheese and spoonful’s of mushed veggies, don’t you?
This menu might find its way to a gifted school dining table. Watch out for the competitive members of your club. Afterall, there is no special school placement or award for the best prepared dish…. or is there?
Super Supper Book Club Menu
A Gifted School
Kale Salad with Strawberries with Goat Cheese and a Nutty Topper
Canvas and Cuisine page 111
Veggie-Filled Meatloaf Muffins
Sunday Best Dishes page 87
Mac ‘N Cheese “n Peas
Sunday Best Dishes page 85
Favorite Fruit Crumble
Canvas and Cuisine page 340
This is an excellent side veggie that goes with most everything. For a full-on veggie meal, serve the succotash over a baked sweet potato with a drizzle of maple syrup over the top!
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium zucchini, sliced, about 2 cups
1 large red onion, peeled and diced, about 1 cup
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded, veins removed, diced, about ½ cup
1 (10-ounce) package frozen corn, thawed
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, thawed
1 (10-ounce) package frozen lima beans, thawed
1 (10-ounce) package frozen okra, thawed
1 whole marinated roasted red pepper, diced, about ½ cup
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon (or more) hot pepper sauce
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
Heat the butter and the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini, onion and jalapeno pepper and cook until soft. Stir in the remaining veggies. Pour in the tomatoes. Season with Worcestershire, Creole seasoning, hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.
I hope your holidays were as special as mine. For me, family time is a time of renewal … a rebirth of what is important. I love this stage of my life. I no longer have the responsibilities of parenting, yet I can still take pride in the family that we created.
It’s great to watch the boys careen down the street on bikes and scooters while my friends and neighbors desperately try to dodge them.
It’s wonderful to greet my Sam in the early morning and watch him mindlessly shovel cereal into his mouth before I pour my first cup of coffee.
Who knew a princess could be so jolted by the pea under her mattress that she developed a huge tangle in her flowing hair that had to be surgically removed? It definitely was the bedding… not the princess!
It’s only been a few days since the unwrapping and we’ve already returned three gifts and requested additional parts of others. And where did those receipts go?
The food was over-the top. My fridge is filled with leftovers, lasagna, steaks, sauerkraut and pork… we did it up! The wine flowed….. why wouldn’t it! The activities were active…. swimming, beaching, pickle ball, cycling, day trips and only limited screen time. None of us made it to the ball drop, and that was fine!
Yet, I am renewed. Renewed by the fact that this group of daredevils and princesses chose to spend time with us, their grandparents and parents. We created some memories, some new traditions and made a plan for our summer get together. It doesn’t get better than that – looking forward to continuing our family adventures.
Here are some pictures from our family to yours.
Wishing you a happy, healthy New Year! A little late maybe, but better late than never.
My gift to you this Christmas is a box of sugar cookies that come together faster than you can say happy holidays. But you don’t have to use mine. Perhaps you have an old holiday cookie recipe passed down from your grandmother to your mother – or you just found it in this year’s magazine.
Maybe you grabbed a tin of cookie dough at the grocery store last week. None of this matters. What matters is that these cookies are made special by making them with those you love. I sure had a blast decorating ginger and sugar cookies with my grandkids this season, and making sure we had enough on hand for Santa.
Our cookies give new meaning to “tree trimming”, and sparkle with Fancy Sprinkles.
So, this season, grab someone special, get out the cookie cutters, and share a couple laughs while you make some cookies!
Christmas Sugar Cookie Recipe
15 minute cuisine
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
For the dough
3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon whole milk
For the baked cookies
Red, green and gold sprinkles and icing
Confectioner’s sugar for work surface
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
Place the butter and sugar in a separate mixing bowl and beat by hand. You can use a mixer but it’s more fun to hand-mix!
Add the beaten egg and milk into the butter and sugar mixture until just combined, gradually adding the dry ingredients and beating until mixture resembles cookie dough.
Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Sprinkle work surface with confectioners’ sugar. Remove cookie dough from refrigerator, and sprinkle rolling pin with more of the confectioner’s sugar.
Roll out the dough to just under an inch thickness, moving it around on your work surface so it doesn’t stick.
Cut the dough into Christmas tree shapes, and place into the oven for 9 to 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool before you decorate them with the icing and sprinkles.