Friday, May 30, 2014

Pillsbury Recipe - Strawberry-Filled Lemon Cream Cheese Bars - May 30, 2014

I used to love to cook.  Before my 21 years of being on call day and night, I
was constantly in the kitchen, putting my five hundred cookbooks, acquired in
my world travels, to use.  I also perused magazines such as Bon Appetit and
Good Housekeeping, clipping recipes to try out on family and friends.

Once I started wearing a pager almost constantly, I knew I was taking a chance
to undertake elaborate meal preparation.  As one of my forensic nurse 
colleagues used to say, "You can make toast but you can't bake a cake".

Once my SANE position ended and I downsized and headed off to India, 
I gave away most of my cookbooks, putting a treasured few, along with two
recipe boxes into storage.  When I've been home, renting a room, I haven't
had the opportunity to do any cooking at all.  

At least, here at my son's home, I've actually cooked dinner many evenings, 
what with Laura working.  Thanks to the wealth of internet recipe sites, I've 
found a lot of my favorite recipes and have acquired several new favorites.  

I get daily recipes from Pillsbury via "Pillsbury Today's Taste" - quick, easy
dishes from main courses to desserts, requiring only a few ingredients, most
of the time, and, of course, recommending Pillsbury products.  I have always 
enjoyed their "bake off" recipes and the cookbooks from those contests and 
some of the recipes featured are from that.

This week, I tried their recipe for strawberry filled lemon cream cheese 
bars.  They were very easy to make and did not even last twenty-four hours
in our house.  Little Harper Ann, my 14-month-old granddaughter kept chanting,
 "bite, bite" if she saw us eating one!

Here's the recipe with my variation.  I added almond flavoring to both the crust
and the filling - I love the stuff!!!!  

Strawberry-Filled Lemon Cream Cheese Bars

Delicious strawberry-filled bars recipe – a delightful dessert with 
cream cheese, sugar and margarita mix!

·         prep time  30 min
·         total time  2 hr 15 min
·         ingredients  10
·         servings   32


1 box lemon or yellow cake mix
1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
           1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
***I added ½ tsp almond flavoring to this ( I LOVE ALMOND )

1 cup strawberry preserves or jelly


1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4   cup all-purpose flour
            1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup frozen concentrated margarita mix, thawed

***I added ½ tsp almond flavoring to this

·         1 - Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease 13x9-inch 
    pan. Place cake mix  in large bowl. With pastry blender or fork, cut in butter
    until crumbly. Add almonds; mix well. Reserve 1 cup mixture for topping. Press 
    remaining mixture in bottom of pan. Stir preserves until smooth; carefully spread 
    over base.
            2-  In same bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, salt and egg with electric mixer 
    at medium speed until well blended. Add margarita mix; beat at low speed until
    blended.Carefully pour filling over base. Sprinkle reserved base mixture over filling.
      3- Bake 34 to 41 minutes or until edges begin to brown and center is set. Cool 
    completely, about 1 hour. Cut into bars. Store covered in refrigerator.

I imagine these might be great with almost any kind of preserve...perhaps mango!!!
To get your own recipes, sign up at!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Look Up, Look Down Challenge - Week 41 - San Francisco Scenes - May 28, 2014

Certainly, with its hills "climbing halfway to the stars" as Tony Bennett tells us 
in song, the city of San Francisco gives us many views looking up and down.  
I have not participated in this meme before but, having chanced upon it today,

I thought I'd add a few San Francisco "looking up" pictures to take part in it.

When it was completed in 1972, the Transamerica Pyramid was the 8th 
tallest building in the world.  It no longer houses the headquarters of 
Transamerica which has since moved to Baltimore.

Houses often perch precariously on hillsides and cars park with signs with
signs warning, "Prevent runaways.  Curb your wheels".

This is a house in the Castro district of San Francisco.  Imagine carrying 
groceries up all those steps!  The residents shouldn't need a gym membership!

I am participating in the 

Add your photo/s and join in the fun!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sundays in My City - Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel, Montara, CA - May 24, 2014

For me, the word "hostel" conjures up memories of my youth and schlepping through
Europe with a few nursing buddies, carrying only what could fit in an oversized backpack,
staying with other kindred spirits, of every nationality, trying to see the world, as
economically as possible.  We slept in crowded dorms at hostels, of doubtful cleanliness, boarded crowded trains on our Eurail passes and discarded our threadbare clothes when 
we finally gave up our nomadic existence and returned to the U. S.

In the ensuing years, my travels have found me staying at increasingly luxurious 
properties and in very nice cruise ship cabins, often in the company of my group
of forensic nurse friends who crew friends dubbed "the queens."  The title has
seemed to stick.  I noticed that my hotel reservation at the Umaid Mahal Hotel,
a beautiful heritage property in Jaipur, India was made for "Queen Carmen Henesy"!

Retirement, however, and subsistence on a pension and social security have
necessitated an adjustment in my life style.  Recently, when I went to the the San
Francisco area for a short visit, I had to bypass a stay at the Ritz Carlton...or even
one of the smaller boutique hotels with their hundred dollar a day price tags ( some
with $25 parking fees in the downtown area ).  I got out my unused Hosteling 
International membership card ( only $18 annual fee for seniors over 55 ) and 
checked out availability at the six hostels convenient to me.  While many are booked
heavily during the summer months, I was lucky enough to get one night at the Point
Montara Lighthouse Hostel, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, close to my former
Pacifica home.  I booked a dorm room ( six beds ) and asked for a lower bunk
because of my senior status and frequent nocturnal bathroom excursions.  That
cost me only $27, in a picturesque setting, spotlessly clean, complete with parking,
linens, Wi-fi, and a most accommodating and helpful staff.  We even had our own 
bathroom, tub and shower.

Only four of the six bunks were taken, one by a lovely young women from Germany
and another, by a senior, almost my age who lives in, of all places, in Sacramento,
California and manages an apartment complex.  She is new to that area and knows
no one so we have already set up a date for lunch!!

I enjoyed my evening, watching the sun go down over the coast, near where I had
lived for almost 35 years.  The only negative about the entire visit was that no wine 
or alcohol is allowed on hostel properties.  It would have been so nice to sit outdoors
and sip a nice California chardonnay or cabernet and watch the sea birds soar 
and the waves crash on the rocks below.

I would love to stay at all the coastal hostels in northern California.  Even the private
rooms are so reasonable, especially if they have parking and Wi-fi available....and
some have scenery, indeed, fit for a queen.

I couldn't resist stopping off at Nick's at Rockaway Beach in Pacifica, for
their famous Dungeness crab sandwich and eggplant fries, before heading
through Devil's Slide to Montara.  It was my first time to use the new tunnel 
through Devil's Slide connecting Montara and Pacifica.  How many hair 
raising drives I've made through there, wondering if the rocks would come
falling down the hillside on top of me!!!

The lighthouse, is still maintained by the U. S. Coast Guard since 1875, as a 
fog signal station, after several ships ran aground.  Since 1980, in conjunction 
with California State Parks, the hostel has been in operation.

It is the perfect locale for a wide variety of outdoor activities from hiking to whale
watching to kayaking to horseback riding to just relaxing and enjoying the beautiful
northern California coast.

The grounds are planted with local flowers and shrubs - my favorite which has 
always been the cheerful daisy which I have associated with my first visit to San
Francisco when I was 18 - now a half a century ago!!!!  It hardly seem possible.

Hostel staff live in this house, part of the Coast Guard quarters of the original
site.  Guests are asked to vacate the premises between 11:00AM and 3:30PM
daily for cleaning and maintenance.  The grounds gates are locked at 11PM so
guests must plan to return to the facility accordingly.

This is the view of my dorm room.  The mattress were surprisingly comfortable.
Linens were provided and it was wonderful sleeping with the pounding surf

There were two completely stocked kitchens, with stoves and refrigerators,
cupboards, dishes - all immaculate.

The lounge area, complete with a stove, tended to by staff, made for a very 
comfortable spot to meet and talk to other guests - from all parts of the world and
of all ages.

There was more than adequate dining space for those who felt like cooking or
who brought back left overs from the many and varied local restaurants.

A little travel nook to plan the onward journey....very nice to have free Wi-fi!

A place to eat outdoors in warmer temperatures, complete with ocean view.

Even a weed looks pretty in this setting.

I truly have been blessed to live in this part of the world for 35 years...and to 
spend time on so many oceans of the world.

Someday, I'd like to come back and spend a week here...maybe with the other

I am participating in 

Join in the fun!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mandarin Orange Monday 93 - Rajasthani Dancers in Orange - May 12, 2014

During my first visit to Jaipur, a dear forensic nurse colleague and friend, Virginia
Lynch, and I ended our stay with dinner at a restaurant called Indiana.  It was a 
delightful evening with delicious food and an amazing show.  We had the best
table in the house, front and center, and watched mesmerized, as the women 
whirled, slowly at first, then more rapidly, as the tempo increased, balancing
various pots on their heads, including a grand finale with a metal urn set aflame.
I was dizzy just from watching.

While their dresses were a beautiful and varied array of colors, this one of orange
was perfect for today's theme.  What wonderful memories looking at these 
photographs brought back.

I am participating in

Add your orange photo to join in the fun!

Monday, May 05, 2014

Whimsical Windows, Delirious Doors! #127 - Old Town, Patiala, Punjab, India - May 5, 2014

During one of my visits to India, I had the great pleasure of accompanying
my beloved friend and forensic nurse mentor, Virginia Lynch, to Patiala, Punjab,
India where we were the guests of Dr. Rakesh Gorea and his wonderful family.
It was such a special five day visit and I felt so sad to leave.  The following year,
I took the overnight train to Chandigarh, where they had moved, for another 
visit.  The Goreas are the ultimate in Indian hospitality and made me feel like 
family.  I hope, one day, I will be able to see them again.

Patiala is in the Punjab in northern India.  It was formerly the capital of a princely 
Sikh state until it lapsed in 1948.  Patiala is famous for its turbans, Patiala pants
( salwar pants for women which are quite voluminous ), paranda ( tassels used
for braiding hair ), jutti ( footwear common in northern India, often quite elegantly
beaded, and known as mojiri in Rajasthan ) and the Patiala peg,  quite hefty 
measure of liquor, equivalent to 120 ml.

Old Town of Patiala, has some beautiful architecture, with windows and doorways,
most exotic in nature.

I am participating in 

Add your photo to join in the fun.