Category Archives: Recipes

Carrie Daly’s Sunday Dinner Rolls

Before my life became so busy, I loved baking bread. Mixing up the dough and waiting for it to rise, then enjoying the warm, yeasty aroma as it baked was very satisfying.  Now, with such a  crazy schedule and many deadlines, I have less time for the pleasures of baking. But I enjoyed it vicariously through Carrie Daly, my main character in BEAUTY FOR ASHES who is herself an accomplished baker.  Carrie bakes pies and wedding cakes, but bread is her specialty.

As I was researching this novel, I came across a recipe for  the best yeast rolls I’ve ever eaten. It’s in an old handwritten cookbook of unknown origin ( a flea market find on a trip to South Carolina, so I’m pretty sure it’s a Southern recipe).  Easy enough to make for a weekday dinner and delicious enough for company, the recipe is not time consuming at all; even I have managed to make it twice in recent weeks; it’s the waiting for the dough to rise that takes a bit of time. But then, we are all multi-taskers, aren’t  we? Plenty else to do while the dough rises.  Here’s the recipe Carrie makes for Griff at the farm. I hope you enjoy it as much as Griff did.

Carrie Daly’s Sunday Dinner Rolls

I cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 c shortening  ( I use Crisco)

1 egg, beaten

1 yeast cake

1 tsp salt

3 cups flour

Heat milk but do not boil. Pour over sugar and shortening. Add the yeast cake and the beaten egg.  Add the flour and salt and mix well.  Cover and let stand till double. Punch down and pinch off bits of dough to form 24 rolls. Let the dough rise again.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.


Hummingbird Cake…A Southern Tradition

I was disappointed this week to learn that the new owners of one of our favorite neighborhood bistros has changed the menu and done away with one of my favorite traditional Southern desserts. I first came across a recipe for Hummingbird Cake as a newlywed. Wanting to master a spectacular dessert, I gave it a try and found that it isn’t hard at all. Like Red Velvet Cake, it’s a showy cake that makes a statement and has become popular with Southern brides as a wedding cake.

Because it contains bananas, pineapple, and cinnamon, legend has it that the recipe migrated here from Jamaica. Some say the cake may have been named for the small hummingbird that is so fond of a sweet taste. Whatever its history, it’s a delicious way to end a meal. Just don’t think about the calories! Here’s the recipe:

Grease and flour three 9 inch round cake pans. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350.

For the cake:

3  cups all purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

3 eggs beaten

1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 and 1/2 cups vegetable oil

8 ounce can crushed pineapple, juice and all

2 cups chopped pecans  ( divided use)

2 cups chopped ripe bananas

Combine first five ingredients and stir till well blended. Add the eggs and oil and continue stirring till dry ingredients are moistened. Do not beat! Stir in the remaining ingredients, reserving one cup of  the chopped pecans for garnish. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely.


Combine  An  8 ounce package softened cream cheese and 1/2 cup butter. Cream till smooth. Add 1 pound confectioners sugar and beat till light and fluffy. Stir in 1 tsp vanilla. Frost the cake and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of chopped pecans on top.

Enjoy, y’all!

Making Christmas Memories–A Recipe

Last week a member of one of my e-mail loops posed a question about which book others found most memorable. My hands- down favorite in the Christmas category is Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory. It’s more than a lyrical story of an annual Christmas cake-  baking tradition he shared with his cousin;  it’s a sweet mediation on what she meant to him. I first read it when I was a young teacher. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate even more its central theme: that it’s the people with whom we share and make Christmas memories that are most precious.

Some years ago, my best friend and fellow author, Leanna Ellis handed me her recipe for peanut butter fudge. It was an instant hit at my house and making it has become an annual tradition that reminds me of her. Here’s the fast and easy  recipe:

3 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk ( I prefer Carnation)
1 cup peanut butter
1  seven ounce jar of marshmallow creme
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 tsp vanilla

Combine sugar, butter and milk in a heavy saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Stir constantly. Boil for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from  heat, add the rest of the ingredients, and beat until well blended. Pour into a greased 13 x 9 pan. Cool at room temperature. Cut into squares. Makes 3 pounds of mouth-watering fudge.

Enjoy! Maybe you’ll make a new Christmas memory, too.  I’m taking next week off in celebration of Christmas, but I’ll see you on the far side. Till then, from my house to yours, Blessings to all!

A Southern Thanksgiving

I’m a couple of weeks early, but Thanksgiving is on my mind this week after having  finished writing a Thanksgiving Day scene for EVERY PERFECT GIFT.  During my research, I found out that in the 19th century, Thanksgiving frequently comprised almost thirty different dishes–everything from the usual turkey to  pigeon pie.  Thanks, I’ll pass on that one. The day was often marked with costume parades, raffles, turkey shoots, chestnut roasts, and plenty of desserts consumed before a crackling fire.

Like most Southern families, ours has a list of traditional dishes that never varies. Cornbread dressing, homemade cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie are always  on the menu at our house along with a smoked turkey and whatever greens look good at the grocery store on shopping day. Several years ago, I came across a recipe  for sweet potato casserole from Dallas Cowboy Emmitt Smith. It was an immediate hit, and is now on the list of “must haves.”   Over the years I’ve tweaked it a bit. Recipe follows. I hope you enjoy it. And from our house to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

Dorothy’s Sweet Potato Casserole (with thanks to Emmitt for the basic recipe!)


3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes  ( I make mine from scratch because the canned ones are too sweet and overpower the dish. If you want to use canned, rinse them well to get rid of a lot of the syrup)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup evaporated milk ( I use Carnation)

1/2 cup butter, melted

Mix thoroughly and pour into a 1.5 to 2 quart casserole dish


Mix together:

1 and 1/2 cups Southern pecans, finely chopped

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1/3 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the sweet potatoes. Then drizzle with 1/3 cup melted butter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

How about you? What’s your favorite Thanksgiving recipe?