As fall rolls around each year, you are likely to find me in my kitchen making gingerbread. My mom discovered this recipe when she stayed at the romantic B&B called Inn on the Creek in Salado, Texas. I believe, with all my heart, that it is the best gingerbread recipe on the planet!

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 pound dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground nutmeg (this is what makes it awesome!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add eggs to buttermilk. Blend and set aside.
  3. Combine brown sugar and flour. Cut in butter. Reserve 1 cup of mixture for later use. To remainder of sugar mixture add baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in buttermilk mixture just until all ingredients are moist.
  4. Pour batter into 9 by 13-inch greased and floured metal baking pan. Sprinkle reserved cup of sugar mixture over top of batter.
  5. Bake 35-45 minutes.

Serve with mounds of freshly whipped cream.

Note: Whole Nutmeg looks like this:

whole nutmeg

Use a grater to get fresh nutmeg. I know, it seems like extra work…but once you taste it, you will never want your nutmeg any other way than fresh!

My mom will be turning 80 this month. My aunt and I are cookin’ up some great plans to make her birthday as special as she is. I’ve arranged to have a hot air balloon ride on the morning of her birthday. And my awesome aunt is flying in from California to help us celebrate mom’s day.

I’m contemplating what we should do for the birthday cake. Should I get a fancy cake made at the magical bakery…or should we whip up something made with love at home in our own kitchen? I’m leaning towards making a cake mom used to make for special occasions called the Forty-Niner Chocolate Roll. It is light, fluffy oh so very delicious and holds so many fond memories of celebrations past.

Forty-Niner Chocolate Roll

Cake Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup ghiradelli ground chocolate
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup sifted cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Filling Ingredients

  • 1/2 pint whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 can (15 1/4 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained
  • 3 tablespoons rum


  1. Beat egg yolks with vanilla.
  2. Blend ground chocolate with water; beat into egg yolk mixture.
  3. Sift flour with baking powder.
  4. Gradually add dry ingredients, mixing until smooth.
  5. Beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form.
  6. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff peaks.
  7. Using metal spatula, fold egg whites into chocolate mixture.
  8. Pour batter into greased and floured waxed paper-lined 10 by 15-inch jelly roll pan.
  9. Bake at 325°F for 15 minutes.
  10. Run knife around edge.
  11. Turn hot cake onto cloth heavily dusted with powdered sugar.
  12. Remove waxed paper, and starting from narrow end, roll up cake with cloth; cool.


  1. Whip cream with powdered sugar until stiff.
  2. Stir in pineapple and rum.
  3. Unroll cake and spread with filling; reroll cake with filling.
  4. Chill until firm.

Cut into slices. Makes 10-12 servings.

I recently went to see my dear friends, Rhonda & Lindsey, play in a softball tournament with the Son’s of Pitches. It was seriously the most entertaining softball tournament I’ve ever been to in my life. While I was there, I got to try Vodka Gummy Bears for the very first time. It will probably come as no surprise to you…I loved them. So…before I ate too many, I begged for the recipe.


  • 1 pound of Haribo Gummy Bears (do not substite with off-brand)
  • Bottle of Vodka (I used a 750 ML bottle of Grey Goose Vodka)
  • 12 oz can of Minute Maid Premium Fruit Punch (defrosted)


  1. Making Vodka Gummy Bears takes patience, like 5-7 days worth of patience.
  2. Put Gummy Bears in a large glass bowl (the largest bowl if you have a set of 3 nesting bowls).
  3. Pour Vodka over the Gummy Bears until they are completely submerged.
  4. Put plastic wrap over the top of the bowl and put the bowl in the refrigerator.
  5. Stir Gummy Bears a couple of times a day for 3-5 days. (First day, they were quite challenging to stir. I had to wash my hands and “stir”/separate with my hands. I kept adding vodka to keep them submerged.)
  6. When Gummy Bears are nice and plump, drain vodka off. (note: liquid will be gummy bear color and thick with sugar. you can drink it if you dare.)
  7. Add the 12 oz can of defrosted fruit punch and 1 1/2 cans of water to the bowl.
  8. Stir Gummy Bears a couple of times a day for another 2 days (or so).
  9. Taste test a Gummy Bear to see if they have achieved maximum plumpness and are soft in the center.
  10. Drain off excess liquid and put Gummy Bears in shot glasses. (I used plastic shot glasses. And since I made so many, I put the filled shot glasses in a large rectangular tupperware container.)

Important! Keep Vodka Gummy Bears cool. They dissolve if they get warm.

Who knew candy could be this much fun!

Easter (and New Year’s) wouldn’t be complete in the Sims household without ham, black-eyes, corn bread, cheese grits and apple sauce. The “recipe” for cheese grits comes from my mother-in-law, Jonell Sims. And like all good family recipes, it is more of a guideline than anything else (you know, very few specific measurements). What makes Jonell’s Cheese Grits so famous? They are extra spicy and super fluffy. Wanna know the secret? Okay…here goes:


  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 cup of Quaker Quick Grits
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
  • onion salt
  • season salt
  • cayenne pepper
  • tabasco pepper
  • worcestershire sauce
  • 3 eggs (separate the yolk and whites)


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Pour 4 cups of water in a medium or large pot. Bring to a boil. Add 1 cup of quick grits. Cover and reduce heat to low/medium. Cook for 5 minutes (until quick grits are done).
  3. Add butter, cheese, spices (to taste) and egg yolks to grits. Stir until blended.
  4. Grease 9″ x 13″ pyrex dish.
  5. Pour cheese grits mixture into pyrex dish.
  6. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  7. Gently fold egg whites into cheese grits.
  8. Bake 45 minutes to an hour at 325 degrees.


Cayenne pepper and tabasco sauce are both made from very hot peppers. If you can take the heat…use as you dare. Jonell’s cheese grits are known to be addictive.

Glenda (at age 6) in her racing dress with her daddy's porsche

I grew up on a steady diet of hot cars and hot sauce. My Dad (Robert Gelles) was very active in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and the Porsche Club of America (PCA). Dad was often the Chief Steward (top official) of any given SCCA race weekend at Texas World Speedway. His nickname was “God” and I was “God’s shadow”.

One of my best friends at the track was Mel Godbold, an EMT on the San Jac Rescue Team. Mel was wicked smart, dangerously funny and downright heroic in his ability to keep racecar drivers safe. I would often sit with Mel and the rest of the Rescue Team (in their emergency vehicles) during the races. We’d tell stories, play jokes on each other and wait for the last checkered flag to go down so we could tap the keg. And as if Mel’s tall tales weren’t spicy enough, he would always have his homemade hot sauce and a bag of corn chips to share with the crew.

In the heat of the summer, surrounded by smokin’ hot cars and concrete, there was nothing better than hot sauce, chips and an ice cold coke (or beer, if the last race was done). After much pleading and begging, Mel finally shared his hot sauce recipe with me.

Mel Godbold’s Picante Sauce

  • 1 large can of whole tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 3 jalapenos (chopped fine)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tbs ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbs black pepper
  • fresh cilantro

Throw all the ingredients in the blender. Blend for about 5-10 seconds. Don’t over blend, because it is best when it is still chunky.

Adjust to suit your own taste. My favorite ingredients are the cumin and the fresh cilantro.

Thanks to David Miller for asking for the recipe today. I’ve since tracked down Mel Godbold on Facebook. Gotta love the internet.

7 pumpkins on mantle with welcome painted in silver (one letter per pumpkin)
I love fall. Even though you can hardly tell it is fall in Texas by the weather, October is full of autumn reminders. Football, pumpkin carving, halloween, hot apple cider and cool crisp mornings. Without fail, this season coaxes me into the kitchen to whip up a few of my favorite recipes. (free drink to the first to guess the font used on the pumpkins)

I wish I could just invite you all over for a cup of hot cider and a slice of my brandy pumpkin bread…but it seems the best I can do is share a new recipe with you.

Carmel Apple Cider


  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup water

Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar


  1. Bring cream and brown sugar to a boil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Stir in cider and water and raise heat to medium high.
  3. Heat just until cider begins to steam, about 4 minutes.
  4. Divide among 4 mugs, top each with 2 tablespoons of Whipped Cream

Whipped Cream

  1. In a small chilled bowl, whip cream with brown sugar until soft peaks form.

Now, I’ll just turn on the air conditioner so it is cold enough inside to drink the hot cider! Mmmmm, Troy, I’m still dreamin’ about the incredible gingerbread you made for me on Wednesday.