Category Archives: Junior League Cookbook Blog

A Toast For the TaTa’s

Wrote this for the Junior League Cookbook Blog….

October is National Breast Cancer awareness month, and those of us over here with the Junior League Cookbook blog couldn’t let this pass by without raising our glasses to those strong, brave, and incredibly special women who have been touched by this in one way or another.  We lift our glasses and say, “Bravo girls!  We are here for you and we support you….all 1800+ of us!”

According to the American Cancer Society, September 2012, 1 in 8 women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime.  The chance that breast cancer will be responsible for a women’s death is 1 in 36.  Year after year these numbers are declining and that is believed to be the result of earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment.  So ladies get those TaTa’s checked regularly, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

In addition to screenings, another way you can help protect your body from cancer is by eating foods that are rich in cancer fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals.  The National Cancer Institute estimates that roughly one-third of all cancer deaths may be diet related. What you eat can hurt you, but it can also help you.  Foods to explore are those that have the ability to help stave off cancer and some can even help inhibit cancer cell growth or reduce tumor size, such as:  avocados, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, chili peppers and jalapenos, cruciferous vegetables, fig, flax, garlic, grapefruit, red grapes, yellow and green leafy vegetables, kale, licorice root, mushrooms, nuts, oranges and lemons, papaya, raspberries, red wine, rosemary, seaweed, soy products, sweet potatoes, teas: green and black, tapioca, tomatoes, turmeric, turnips, and more.  So when you are planning your next meal, think about these foods and how you can slip them in for your loved ones.  Here are some recipes to get you started…

Fresh Carrot Salad – Everyday Feasts

Mushroom Frittata – Savor the Seasons

Berry Crumb Cake – The Life of the Party

Florida Avocado Salsa – Capture the Coast

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk is scheduled here in Tampa Bay on October 25-27.  Grab a lawn chair and head out to cheer on our fellow sisters; I’m certain they would love to see you.  If you are looking for more resources on education or just on how you can support the cause, hop on over to for more information…Bon appétit!   Kathryn Zahn


Pink Grapefruit Margarita

  • 1 1/3 cups pink grapefruit juice
  • 2/3 cup tequila
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/3 cup sugar or to taste
  • Crushed ice
  • Lime slices or grapefruit slices
  • Coarse salt (optional)

Combine the grapefruit juice, tequila, Grand Marnier, lime juice and sugar in a pitcher and stir until the sugar is dissolved (I used Simple Syrup instead).  Add crushed ice to fill the pitcher.  Strain the margarita into the prepared glass and garnish with a slice of lime or pink grapefruit.  Process the mixture with ice in a blender for a frozen drink.  You may moisten the rim of the glass and dip in the salt before filling with the margarita if desired.


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Ham Jambalaya

This article was written for the JLT Cookbook Blog…

When I first found out that I was going to be tasting and writing about the recipe Ham Jambalaya I was so excited because what immediately came to my mind was one-pot dinner. After working all day, picking up two kids from different schools, and trying to have dinner on the table for them and my husband by six, an easy recipe for dinner is always what I am looking for.

When I think of southern or Cajun jambalaya I think: chicken, shrimp, sausage, ham, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, celery…you know hearty and full of meats, vegetables, and rice; and as I jotted down the recipe at the end of the day before I ran into Publix, I knew with a sinking feeling that the dinner that I had planned on was not going to be enough food for them.

My intention is not to give this recipe a bad review, it is more for us to sit back and say, “Yeah, sometimes the recipes we pick don’t go as planned or taste like we would want them too…but that’s ok.” We learn through trial and error and they can’t all be perfect, right?

What this dish really consists of is 2 cooking onions, 2 cups of canned tomatoes, 1 cup of rice, and 1 cup of ham. Now if you do the math that is just a little over 4 cups. I put a scoop onto each of my kid’s plate and what you see in the bowl is all that was left for my husband and me. I ended up having to make each of them a salad, threw in some buttered bread, a big glass of milk, and then dessert. My husband ate what I served him and then proceeded to dig around in the refrigerator for more food.

The overwhelming ingredient in this dish is the canned tomatoes. If you love canned tomatoes, then you’ll love this dish. If you don’t, then most likely you won’t. We prefer fresh in our house. Canned tomatoes just have this distinct taste and it doesn’t matter how long you sauté them or what you sauté them in, they have a tendency to overpower the other flavors of the dish. Aside from this, my husband and I probably would have liked it more if more bacon was called for. In addition to using the grease, crumbling and adding the bacon to the dish would also add a little extra flavor to it. I also didn’t see the need to bake the dish for 30-40 minutes. If you simmered down the tomatoes, most of the liquid should be gone, so I am not sure what the extra time was needed for. I tasted it before and after the baking and to me it was exactly the same.

My kids loved this dish. If you have children and they eat rice, it was easy to make and I am certain that they will love it too.

It says 4-6 servings, and as a side dish then yes, I would agree to that. I don’t really have any recommendations as where to serve this dish; maybe at a potluck get together where there are a lot of different dishes to sample and taste. As for a dinner, we like to focus around protein and vegetables. The little bit of ham that it calls for was not enough for us, so it needs a complimentary meat as well as another vegetable or salad.

Keep in mind after reading this that not every recipe is for everyone. If you love these ingredients, then by all means cook away…you won’t be disappointed. As for us…I’ll be waiting for my next assignment… Bon Appétit!

Ham Jambalaya (The Gasparilla Cookbook, p. 111)

  • 2 slices of bacon
  • ½ clove garlic
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 cup chopped or ground ham, ground preferred

Fry bacon until crisp. Remove from skillet and drain. Saute garlic and onion in bacon drippings. Add tomatoes and parsley. Season with salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer 15 minutes. Add rice and ham and mix well. Bake in casserole in 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Serves 4-6.

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JLT Blog – Annie Laurie’s Potato Salad

I recently wrote this for the Junior League Cookbook Blog …..

If you have lived in the Tampa Bay area for any amount of time, then you have most likely ventured over to Tarpon Springs for some local authentic Greek food or wandered into any of the Louis Pappas’ Market Café restaurants throughout town and ordered a Greek Salad.  Have you ever asked yourself, “What is it about this salad that is soooo good and who decided to put the potato salad at the bottom?”

Louis M. Pappamichalopoulos served in France as an army chef in General Pershing’s “Wildcat Division” during World War I. It was there that he created his own version of a Greek salad by adding potato salad to sustain the troops during hard times. Louis Pappas arrived from Greece in 1905 to find opportunity in America.  He and his wife Flora eventually settled in Tarpon Springs in 1925, and established the original Louis Pappas “Riverside Café”. With a handful of employees on sawdust floors, they opened their humble café, specializing in fine Greek-American cuisine and the Louis Pappas Famous Greek Salad. Potato salad at the bottom of a Greek salad soon became commonplace and the salad itself became internationally known. The success of the Louis Pappas Greek Salad has lasted for almost a century where it remains the most popular dish at our Louis Pappas Market Café fast casual restaurants in the Tampa Bay area.

Annie Laurie’s potato salad was recently one of the featured dishes during Gasparilla week at Datz deli.  I am sure for those of you who love the Greek salad that after one bite you were smiling from ear to ear.  I have never given much thought as to what the secret ingredient might be for this ever so delicious potato salad, and was completely surprised to realize that it is the wine vinegar.  Now, this makes complete sense considering that it is also an ingredient in the Louis Pappas Greek Salad dressing.

If you choose to make this potato salad for loved one, friends, or guests…be prepared to be asked to make it again.  It is delicious and a  great compliment to almost any dish…but most especially the Greek Salad.  Thank you grandfather Louis Pappas! Bon Appétit!

Annie Laurie’s Potato Salad for Greek Salad

  • 2 pounds medium Idaho potatoes
  • 1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise

Boil unpeeled potatoes in unsalted water.  While potatoes are cooking soak chopped onion in the vinegar.  When potatoes are done, cool slightly and peel, then cut in slices and cut the slices in half.  Add onion and vinegar mixture to still-warm potatoes.  Sprinkle in the salt and mix in the mayonnaise.

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Herb Dip

I recently wrote this for the Junior League Cookbook Blog…

With football season officially in full swing, I can’t think of a more opportune time for each of you to grab The Gasparilla Cookbook and seek out a perfect dip on which to snack.  It doesn’t matter if you are watching a game by yourself or having a large group of people over…there is something here for everyone.  The dips can be found on pages 8-13 and there are 15 different recipes from which to choose.

The Herb Dip recipe was provided by Mrs. Glen Evins and is just delicious.  This recipe is versatile in that it can be used at just about any function, party, or get together.  Just think about the endless opportunities:  a fall table, a spring table, 4th of July picnic, a baby shower, a football game, it doesn’t matter…it’s perfect.

Most of these ingredients you’ll probably find in your kitchen, but if not they are easily accessible at the grocery store.  Who knows…if you love the dip as much as we do, you may just decide to start your own herb garden!  Enjoy…and Bon Appétit!

Herb Dip

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon each minced onion, tarragon, dill, soy, and curry powder
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash Tabasco
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Enough cream to soften dip

Combine all ingredients and blend well.

JLT Cookbook Blog – Herb Dip


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Key Lime Pie with Gingersnap Crust

Junior League Cookbook Blog Article: Key Lime Pie with Gingersnap Crust

“A Tampa native shared this incredible, decades-old recipe for this iconic Florida dessert.  No trip to the Sunshine State is complete without a slice.”

You’ll find this caption printed with the recipe in the new cookbook Capture the Coast, and it got me wondering: 1. Who invented the Key Lime Pie and 2. How long ago?  So like anyone with a curious mind I searched the internet and found this on

“As to who made the first key lime pie, no one really knows for sure as it has never been documented. The most likely story is that William Curry (1821-1896), a ship salvager and Florida’s first self-made millionaire (commonly referred to as rich Bill), had a cook that was simply know as Aunt Sally. It was Aunt Sally who created the pie in the late 1800s.  Some historians think that Aunt Sally didn’t create the Key Lime Pie, but probably perfected a delicacy that was the creation of area fishermen. William Curry built a lavish mansion for his family in 1855 that still is being used today as the Curry Mansion Inn.

It was not until the 1930s that the first recipes were written down. Until then everyone just knew how to make the pie. No fresh milk, no refrigeration, and no ice was available in the Keys until the arrival of tank trucks with the opening of the Overseas Highway in 1930. Because of this lack of milk, local cooks had to rely on canned sweetened condensed milk, which was invented in 1856 by Gail Borden. Key lime may be the star ingredient of the key lime pie, but it is the sweetened condensed milk that makes it so smooth and delicious.

The key lime tree, which is native to Malaysia, probably first arrived in the Florida Keys in the 1500s with the Spanish. Key limes look like confused lemons, as they are smaller than a golf ball with yellow-green skin that is sometimes splotched with brown. They are also known as Mexican or West Indian limes. When a hurricane in 1926 wiped out the key lime plantations in South Florida, growers replanted with Persian limes, which are easier to pick and to transport. Today the key lime is almost a phantom and any remaining trees are only found in back yards and their fruit never leave the Florida Keys. Key limes are also grown for commercial use in the Miami area.

In 1994, the State Legislature officially recognized Key lime pie as an important symbol of Florida. The road to becoming the official state pie, was not an easy one. Since the 1980s, North Florida lawmakers have debated that a pie made of pecans, grown in Florida, would better reflect the
state’s history. House Bill 453 and Senate Bill 676 of the Florida Legislature’s Regular 2006 Session made the Key Lime Pie the official Florida
state pie as of July 1, 2006.”

I hope that you learned something new with this post…I sure did!  Next time you make this delicious pie you’ll be able to give your friends and family a little bit of history or trivia!  Enjoy and Bon Appétit!

Florida Key Lime
Pie with Gingersnap Crust

  • 1 ½ cups crumbled gingersnap cookies
  • ¾ cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup Key lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 4 egg yolks
  • Whipped cream
  • Toasted sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pulse the cookies in a food processor until finely ground.  Add ¾ cup coconut and pulse to mix.  Add the butter and pulse to mix.  Press over the bottom and up the side of a 9-inch pie plate.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.  Maintain the oven temperature.  For a nuttier flavor, toast the coconut.

Combine the condensed milk, lime juice, lime zest and egg yolks in a bowl and beat well.  Pour into the cooled crust.  Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until set.  Let stand until cool.  Top each slice with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with toasted coconut.  The pie also may be made using a graham cracker crust.

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Blueberry Crumble Cheesecake Bars

Junior League Cookbook Blog Article: Blueberry Crumble Cheesecake Bars

It was 8 o’clock in the morning and my next door neighbor Kelly and I were looking at our rambunctious children, brainstorming ideas for a  fun outdoor activity when it dawned on us… “Let’s go blueberry picking!”  The children all squealed with delight, we loaded up in the car, and headed over to our local “You pick blueberry farm.”

Prices range from farm to farm, but we always tend to end up at Church Lake Farm off of Racetrack Rd. in Westchase, where the blueberries are currently $3.00 a pound.

There are an abundance of farms to pick fruits and vegetables in the Tampa Bay area and one of the best websites that I have seen to help you find a place near your home is  Keep in mind that blueberries are officially in season here in Florida and blackberries are not too far behind…so the trick each weekend is to make sure you plan ahead and get out early, otherwise the best ones are picked over and gone before you get there.

Now, if you are like my mother you may be asking, ”What did you do with three pounds of blueberries?”  And the answer is: we ate them fresh, we made pancakes and muffins, tossed them into a salad, and made Blueberry Crumb Cheesecake Bars!  Yum Yum!!!  This delicious recipe comes from Capture the Coast and delights anyone who tries it!.

Recipe can be found on the 52 Week Challenge…

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Strawberry Citrus Sangria

Here’s my latest post for the Tampa Junior League Cookbook blog…

JLT Cookbook Blog – Strawberry Citrus Sangria

Do you remember back years ago the Kool-aid pitcher?  You know the one that was frosted and looked as if someone had drawn a smiley face on it…well, that was our juice pitcher and imagine the surprise at age eight when we reached into the refrigerator, pulled out this giant pitcher of red juice, poured ourselves a glass, and took a big gulp only to realize that this was definitely not the fruit punch we were expecting.  My best friends mother had used our Kool-aid pitcher for Sangria and she thought that our reactions were hysterical.  Needless to say, my first experience tasting Sangria was not a good one. 
As I am now years older and wiser, I have caught on to the lure of the delicious flavors of Sangria and it has officially become my adult beverage of choice.  So imagine my delight when I spotted the recipe Strawberry-Citrus Sangria on page 32 of the new cookbook Capture the Coast. My next door neighbor and I immediately made ourselves a pitcher and found it to be so delicious that I served it just a few weeks later at a baby shower for fellow Junior League member Karen Nalywajko… Yum!
Strawberry season has officially begun and oranges can be found here year round. This refreshing beverage is the perfect compliment to a bridal or baby shower, dinner with family and friends, or a relaxing afternoon sitting by the pool or watching a game of golf.  I have also found this beverage to be perfect for our Northern relatives; it doesn’t get much better than sitting outside in 70 degree weather and drinking a tall glass of Sangria.  Enjoy…and Bon Appetit!

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Layered Shrimp Dip

This coastal twist on a layered dip is so versatile, you’ll love it year-round. For blogger Kathy Zahn, it’s the perfect addition to a game-watching party.

I’ve been in the Junior League long enough now to know that there are a lot of members who feel very strongly about certain sports teams…you know who you are…so when I saw this recipe I thought, “This one will be perfect for this fall.”  Now don’t get me wrong, this dip is fabulous for any occasion…but with football games every weekend and lots of other reasons to get together, here’s a great addition to any sports buffet.

This recipe comes from our new cookbook Capture the Coast. There is never a shortage here of Florida Gulf Shrimp, and when you combine them with cream cheese you know that it is going to be delicious.

If you are running short on time, here are a few shortcuts to keep in mind:  you can buy the shrimp precooked, the bell pepper pre-chopped, the olives already sliced, and the garlic minced in a jar.  If you are looking for the chili sauce, the kind you want is made by Heinz and you’ll find it next to the ketchup.

My husband walked in the door from work tonight, saw the dip and asked, “Is this for me?”  As I left the kitchen, I heard his hand dive into the chip bag, followed by a brief silence and then, “Yum…Wife, this is good!”  I am certain that all of you who make this delicious dip will experience the same type of reaction…  Bon Appétit!

Oh, and “Go Bulls!”

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Blast From the Past: Taco Salad

For those of you who haven’t heard, I will be testing recipes for the Tampa Junior League’s Cookbook Blog throughout the launch of the new cookbook Capture the Coast.  I am honored that I was chosen and am excited for the upcoming recipes that I will be preparing for my family and friend…  All recipes that I test will be written up and posted on the JLT Cookbooks blog, as well as here…

Old cookbooks are always a hoot. Some recipes must have appealed to the original audience (Horseradish Mold, anyone?) but aren’t as likely to find fans today. Kathy Zahn, JLT member and blogger, was kind enough to try out one of the more timeless recipes from A Taste of Tampa, a versatile and family-friendly Taco Salad.

Have you ever found a recipe that you love, looked at the ingredients, and thought to yourself…”Hum, how can I make it better and how can I make it mine?”  Well, that is how my mind works most of the time and even my husband years ago caught on to this way of thinking and began asking, “What’s the love sauce tonight?” …which brings me to this recipe…

This Taco Salad recipe comes from the Taste of Tampa cookbook.  True to the theme it is “quick and easy” and all items if not already in your kitchen, are easy-to-find at the super market.  I am sure that most of you at one time or another has made a Taco Salad, but this one is a little different.  The donator of this recipe gave it some “love sauce”.  In addition to the Taco seasoning you had a half a packet of dried onion soup mix and the flavor is immediately kicked up another notch.  I would love to run into her on the street and ask her “what made you think of this” because even my husband commented on the subtle change and said that the salad was delicious.

Another great thing about this salad is that you can cut the vegetables any way you like.  The recipe calls for slices, but if you are short on time you can always run into the supermarket and buy most of the ingredients pre-chopped and ready to go.  The total cost of this dinner salad for the family runs around $10…but if you are like us you won’t want to forget the salsa and sour cream!  Bon Appétit…

 JLT Cookbooks – Taco Salad

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Wk 12 – Red Pepper Rice

 JLT – Tampa Treasures, pg 66

I was looking for a side dish to go with some chicken and buttered cuban toast tonight, when I remembered that the Tampa Treasures cookbook is full of them.

I picked this recipe because I had all of the ingredients, except for one…but I don’t think you’ll mind because the recipe is called Red Pepper Rice…  I did not have a green bell pepper, instead I used a red one…




Red Pepper Rice

  • 5 slices lean bacon
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes, chopped, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper
  • dash of Tabasco

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook bacon in skillet until crisp; drain on paper towels; reserve drippings in skillet.  Crumble bacon; set aside.  Saute onion, celery and green pepper in skillet, until vegetables are tender.  Stir in rice, tomatoes, 1/2 cup water, salt, pepper, red pepper and Tabasco.  Spoon into lightly greased 1 1/2 quart baking dish.  Cover; bake until rice is tender about 25 minutes.  After 15 minutes, stir rice and add 1/2 cup more water, if needed.

Also, would like to note that the recipe calls for us to crumble the bacon and then it doesn’t mention what to do with it from there…so of course I tossed it in.  Can’t let good bacon go to waste…

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