Tuaca & Dulce de Leche

It’s New Year’s Eve! While the rest of the world celebrates the dawn of 2010, Husband & I will quietly (well, four Littles quiet) toast 12 years of marriage tonight.

New  Year’s Eve looks different for us every year.  Some years we celebrate with friends, once (maybe twice) we’ve stolen 24 hours away alone, and on at least four New Year’s Eves we’ve held a tiny newborn in our arms as we clang our champagne flutes and kissed at midnight 9:45 pm.

But there are some constants in our twelve years of celebration.  We were given gorgeous silver champagne flutes for our wedding toast and each year we use them for a special anniversary toast.  And, for at least half the decade + we’ve been married we’ve enjoyed a special spirited dessert.

Only the festive, over-the-top, decadent cocktail dessert has NO name.  So I need your help.  I’ll share our New Year’s Eve / Anniversary dessert with you, if you’ll help me come up with a name.  Deal?

I get the easy end of the deal, as there are only two ingredients to share:  Tuaca and Haagen Dazs Dulce de Leche ice cream.

Tuaca is an Italian liqueur which dates back to the Renaissance. The northern Tuscany delicacy is known for its distinct sweet flavor with hints of vanilla and orange. I’m sure the 16th century Italians who first created Tuaca would cringe at mixing it with American ice cream, but you my friends will beam ear to ear with this unique combination.

You’ll need Tuaca…

And, of course the caramel ice cream sensation….

There really is no magic to the recipe.  You just blend the softened ice cream with one or two shots of tuaca.  I serve the dessert in big stemless wine glasses with a spoon on the side.

No, the Littles will not be partaking in our annual New Year’s Eve dessert.  We have another decade until the oldest Little can join us in this tradition. I’ll be serving the Littles Whoopie Pie.

Because everyone deserves a little whoopie on New Year’s Eve!

Now, please help me name this drink! It’s so creamy, delicious, mouth watering good it’s just a shame to leave it nameless any longer.

Happy New Year!


Blogging Anniversary!

As luck would have it…

With those first words, four years ago today, The Schell Cafe was born.  I remember the night well and the first menu I blogged.

Sea Bass Sauteed with Leeks & Red Pepper


Mixed Vegetable Tian

At the time, I had only seen two blogs.  I followed one written by a family who successfully adopted two daughters from Russia.  I remember linking to their blog from an adoption forum and thinking everything about these webpage thingamajigs was just cool.  I followed the trail straight to Blogger.

My dear friend Lulu, who is way ahead of every trend, also penned pages at Blogger.  I figured why not give it a whirl?

So, with a first menu under my belt and wine in hand, I bumbled through setting up a Blogger account.  Husband dubbed me Saucymomma and the journey began with this very first post.

So much has changed since that night in 2005. Both at home and at the virtual cafe.  The most important change occurred in 2007 when Littlest was born.  It’s almost impossible to imagine life before her!  The older three Littles have all started school and Husband has renewed his passion for fishing.  We renovated the kitchen.  And less than six months later tore the entire house down and rebuilt it.

The virtual cafe has evolved over the last four years too.  I’ve changed the look of the cafe more than once, moved to wordpress, bought my own domain, and updated with widgets and tools as time and my limited technical abilities allowed.

Through it all, I’ve kept on cooking and writing.  And you, dear readers, through it all (and for some reason) have kept on reading!

So, it should really come as no surprise that, once again, I have some changes in the works!  I’m working with a web designer who is helping me renovate the cafe, so to speak.  There will be friendly features I hope you will enjoy and find useful as we continue to cook together.  In addition to the cooking features, the menu at the cafe will be expanded to include a more personal glimpse into the cafe, specifically my spiritual life.  Many of you have found my writings over at The Kitchen Mission.  Part of the new web design will be to merge these two sites.  Soon The Schell Cafe will be serving daily offerings of food and faith.

In the meantime, please know how grateful I am for each of you.

Thank you for joining me on this journey!


Kristin (aka saucymomma)

Jingle Schells

Merry Christmas

with lots of love

(and guacamole quesadillas)

from The Schell Cafe

Secret Family Recipes

Do you have a secret family recipe? You know, a tried and true dish that is such a crowd pleaser you just can’t bring yourself to share.  I have several recipes that fall into this category.

1) Corn Dip.  I have to admit the recipe for corn dip is sadly not mine to share.  We are going to have to work Mia over before I can give away this crowned jewel.  Corn dip has been our most carefully guarded family recipe for over 25 years.  Many have tried to replicate this delicious madness, but none to full success.  Corn Dip is a summer crowd pleaser, so if we start a campaign now begging Mia’s permission perhaps, just perhaps, I’ll be allowed to share our corn dip recipe with you in the future.  No promises.

2) Tres Leches.  This is my most requested cake recipe.  It should really be called cinqo leches because it calls for five kinds of milk. The moist, perfectly sweetened cake is mouth watering, pan licking good.  I make it for Easter and when someone near and dear to me requests.  But first they have to beg, bribe, and prove they love me for ME and not just my Tres Leches.

3) Hot Onion Souffle. Hands down this is the biggest crowd pleaser appetizer.  I served hot onion souffle at my little sister’s wedding a couple weeks ago and one of our guests actually requested the recipe for ‘that delicious vegetable dish’.  Trust me, this hot gooey dip does not in any way qualify as a vegetable serving, but I’m glad it was (as always) well received.

In the spirit of sharing, I am going to break into The Schell Cafe vault and give you the Hot Onion Souffle recipe today.  Because it’s Christmas.  And I love and appreciate each of you for coming back to my little blog so faithfully.

The recipe is not really mine. It comes from one of my favorite cookbooks The Dallas Dish.

This is a more recent (2005) publication of the Dallas Junior League, and I truly love it.  Maybe because I was born and raised in Dallas and these recipes seem so familiar.  Or maybe just because they are all just so darned good.  Who knows? But, if you can get your hands on this cookbook, it’s well worth it.  Or just keep coming back to the cafe for more…

See, there it is in black and white.  The coveted recipe that I’ve held secret and falsely as my own.  You’ll forgive me as soon as you take your first bite!

If you can’t (for some reason unrelated to age) see the fine print in this photo, here’s the recipe.

Hot Onion Souffle

Dallas Dish, page 57

1 (12-ounce) package frozen chopped onions, thawed

1 small onion, chopped

16 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 cups (8 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pat the frozen onions dry with a paper towel.  Combine the thawed frozen onions, 1 small chopped onion, cream cheese, parmesan and mayo in a bowl.  Mix well so there are no large clumps of cream cheese.

Spoon onion mixture into a baking dish and bake for 20-30 minutes or until heated through.  Serve with assorted party crackers.  Serves 25.

I served Hot Onion Souffle last night as an appetizer for 4 adults and 8 children.  First, it doesn’t serve 25 people.  Or at least not normal folks.  If you are serving a large crowd, this recipe doubles easy.  I always serve the dip with Carr’s Whole Wheat Crackers (which are really just thick cookies!).  But, my dear friend Mrs. Kravitz informed me last night that Carr’s crackers are too heavy for the amazing dip. She prefers tostada chips.  Husband suggested thin water crackers.  I’m not sure it really matters what you serve  with the Hot Onion Souffle.  The result will be the same: an empty bowl and full bellies.

For as many times as I’ve made and served Hot Onion Souffle, sadly I do not have any photos.  I snapped a few while I was preparing the dip yesterday, but they just don’t do the dish justice.  Here’s all I have as proof.

Two bites worth.  One for me and one for Mrs. Kravitz who will be here soon for the last bite her Littles.  We scraped the bowl last night in anticipation of the final savor today.

So what are your secret family recipes!?!?

Christmas Appetizers

One of the countless tips I’ve learned from Mia is to always have a tasty treat to offer friends who stop by for a visit.  Of Mia’s many talents, the Lord gave her the gift of Hospitality (x2!).  She is the most gracious hostess I have ever known.

Since this is clearly the season for friends to drop-in & pop-in, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite savory snacks to have on hand. These are easy appetizers to make ahead and tasty enough that you might just find your friends coming ’round more often.

Nana’s Cheese Straws

Make a double batch of these yummy cheese wafers and keep ’em in your freezer.  Ten minutes in a 410 degree oven and you’ll have a warm bite with a kick to offer friends.

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1 cup flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp red pepper (I like more for a kick!)

1 stick margarine (do not use butter)

Sift the flour, salt, and pepper.  Combine with cheese and margarine.  Form long rolls, wrap in wax paper and chill over night, or freeze.  When ready to serve, slice frozen dough into 1/2 inch thick wafers and bake for 10 minutes at 410 degrees.

Rosemary Cashews

These rosemary infused nuts are just perfect.  I make them often! If you are lucky enough to end up with a few extra, toss them in a salad for a yummy crunch.

1 lb roasted, unsalted cashews

2 Tbs minced, fresh rosemary

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp light brown sugar (I use a bit more)

1 Tbs kosher salt (I use less)

2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread the cashews out on a sheet pan. Toast in the oven until warm, 5 – 10 minutes.

Add melted butter to large bowl and stir in sugar and spices.  Toss warm cashews and stir to coat.

These nuts are great served right out of the oven, but they keep for a week in a sealed container.  Let me know if they last that long in your house!

Dried Okra

This is one of my very favorite prepared ‘tizers. I know what you are thinking.  Dried okra? No way.  Trust me they are out of this world yummy and every.single.person who has tasted them at our house has been pleasantly surprised.  I serve them in a fun tall glass, then step back to watch for the ah-ha moment to appear on happy faces.

I pick up my stash of dried okra at Central Market.  And I spied a similar version at Trader Joe’s last summer in California.  My HEB has a packaged brand, although I have not tried it.

Keep your eyes peeled and if you stumble upon dried okra, grab it! You’ll be thrilled and your friends will be too.

Spice Drop Cookies

Last year about this time, I wrote about my favorite Christmas cookie.  The Four Seasons’ Chocolate Ginger Cookies are so good I couldn’t get them off my mind.  Until I tried these Spice Drop Cookies.

A month (or more) ago, I was in Little Rock visiting my brother and his family.  While I was there, I was fortunate enough to attend a women’s retreat on Discipleship at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, where my little brother is a pastor.  If you’ve ever attended a women’s church retreat, you undoubtedly were blessed with amazing food.   Church women can cook.  It’s a fact. Actually it’s a gift, but I’m just sharing recipes here today.

As soon as I tasted this delicious cookie I knew I had to have the recipe.  After bugging asking politely, my sister-in-law’s good friend shared the ridiculously simple recipe with me.  She should have guarded it more closely as the cookie’s great flavor belies it’s simplicity.  But that’s the thing about church women.  They can cook, and they are honest.

So, how do Spice Drop Cookies compare to my favorite Chocolate Ginger Cookies? I’ll let you be the judge.  Let’s just say if easy is your thing, you won’t be disappointed in the bang for your buck with these simple and crowd pleasing cookies.

Spice Drop Cookies

1 box of Spice Cake mix

1 egg

3/4 c canola oil

1 package of butterscotch chips

Mix first three ingredients together until well combined.  Fold in butterscotch chips.

Drop by heaping teaspoon on to un-greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 9 minutes.

Seriously.  That’s the recipe.  Try ’em and let me know what you think.  Littlest helped me make the most recent batch (we’ve made them plenty!) and so we might have ended up a tad short on butterscotch chips.

No one noticed.

Enjoy the cookies!