Friday, December 16, 2011


Here are some of my favorite cookie recipes that I make and share with family and friends during the holidays. Instead of buying some gifts, these make perfect gifts


1 Large Package vanilla wafers
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup pecans
1 1/2 tsp cocoa
2 Tbsp white Karo syrup
1/4 cup whiskey or rum

Grind pecans and vanilla wafers. Mix all ingredients and roll into balls the size of a small marble and then roll in powdered sugar. Place balls in an airtight container. For added zest, lightly sprinkle a little more rum or whiskey on top of balls before closing. Enjoy!

CRUST: 3/4 stick butter, 3 oz Philadelphia cream cheese, 1 cup flour. Combine ingredients and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.

Pecan Mix: 1/2 stick butter, 1 egg, 1 cup pecans, 1 cup light brown sugar, 1/2 cup Karo syrup and 1 tsp vanilla. Remove crust from refrigerator and roll into individual small balls. Press into small muffin pans. Add amount of desired pecan mix. Bake at 325 degree for 30 minutes.

3 1/2 cup flour, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp allspice, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 1/2 cup sugar, 2 sticks butter, 3 eggs (beaten), 1 tsp baking soda (dissolved in 2 tsp water) 2 cups pecans (chopped and floured).

Mix together. Mixture will be thick. Drop by teaspoonfuls on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes. Makes 8 dozens.
I'd like to share one of my favorite recipes that's been a staple in my family that we make EVERY Christmas, ever since I can remember. My family's GUMBO recipe. You know the saying, we put everything in it except the kitchen sink. Well, almost everything. But the best thing about GUMBO is, there's no right or wrong ingredient, for you make GUMBO with the ingredients that's pleasing to your pallet. So you can put as many ingredients or as few as you like.
VeeJay’s Gumbo

2-3 Large Cooking Spoons of Vegetable Oil 

2-3 Large Cooking Spoons of All Purpose Flour

1 Med size Onion, chopped 
1 Small-med size Bell Pepper cut in small pieces 

1 Tbsp Parsley (fresh or flakes)

Smoked Turkey Necks (cut in chunks - for smoked flavor) (optional) 

1 Lb of your favorite Smoke Sausage cut in bite size pieces (pork, beef or turkey) 

1 Lb Andouille cut in bite size pieces 
4-6 Skinless/boneless chicken breast (cut in pieces) 

8-12 Chicken wings (split, cleaned and seasoned to taste)

2 lb Fresh shrimp (peeled, deveined and seasoned to taste)

Oysters - Fresh or Canned (optional)

4-6 Medium - Large Crabs (fresh or boiled, cleaned and split in half)

1 Pk. Dried Shrimp (optional)

1 Can Mushroom (stems and pieces (optional)

1 Tablespoon Gumbo file’

Salt and Pepper (red) to taste

Accent seasoning to taste 

Garlic Powder to taste
Using a 20 qt Stockpot, fill pot halfway with water. Add cleaned crabs and boil on medium heat for 30 minutes. **Combine 2-3 cooking spoons of oil to 2-3 cooking spoons of flour and cook on low-medium flour to make roux, stirring constantly until desired color is obtained. Add to crab stock and stir until mixed thoroughly. Fill pot ¾ full and let boil for 30 minutes. Add turkey necks, onion, bell pepper and parsley flakes to stock and continue to boil. After 30 minutes add Andouille and smoke sausage and continue to boil. After 30 minutes, add chicken pieces, dried shrimp, gumbo file’ and mushroom pieces and continue to boil for 30 minutes. Add shrimp. Bring to boil and taste before adding any more and salt and pepper to stock. Remove from heat and skim off excess oil on top. Serve hot over cooked rice.
After removing from heat, let cool, stirring occasionally to bring the temperature down evenly. Refrigerate when completely cool.
*Note - As mixture boils down, you can replenish the water, keeping the pot filled near capacity while boiling. Never cover pot completely while boiling. Use seasonings listed above to season meats before adding to stock.
**Additional Note - To cut down on the oil in the roux, you may opt to use instant roux available from your favorite grocer. I use Tony Chachere’s Instant Roux mix, although there are other brands on the market. Prepare according to canned directions.
Variations: You can add okra that has been pre-fried/or baked to remove the slime. To remove slime, cook okra on a low fire in oil )only enough to coat the bottom of the pan, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking or burning. A quicker, easier way to remove the slime is to spray a baking pan with Pam and place the cut okra in the oven on 325 - 350 degrees, stirring occasionally until the slime is gone (usually 1-2 hours depending on amount). Add to stock before you add the chicken.
You can also change this recipe according to your taste buds. You can use only seafood (shrimp, crab/crabmeat and oysters) for a Seafood Gumbo, or omit the seafood and use your favorite meats (sausage and chicken) or whatever meats your taste buds call for. Down south,some people to use Hog Chitterlings and Wild meats (deer, rabbit, coon, just to name a few). Unused gumbo may be frozen for up to 6 months.

Happy eating and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Every since I can remember the holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving, has always been my favorite time of the year. It's a time when many truly give thanks for everything and everyone in their lives, not that it's not done all year long as it should be, but it's just a special time of year when we see families get together to share in giving thanks during Thanksgiving, and also when families and friends get together for Christmas, another special time for giving thanks for everyone and everything in our lives.

But, like many, it's also a sad time for me. Sad because through the years I've lost many loved ones, my son, Jalen, my parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and many other relatives and friends.

My first book, When Death Comes a Knockin', is a self-help, inspirational book about loss and grief. I've taken a portion from the book, and further expounded on it in hopes that it might bring comfort and give strength to those who have lost loved ones and are saddened because of it, or those who are saddened for whatever struggles they are facing, particularly during this time of year. It's titled,
Dealing With Loss through the Holidays. Hopefully, by sharing small bits of my journey, it will be a source of comfort to others.

With the holidays approaching and the memories of my departed love ones never far from my thoughts, I reflect back to that first holiday season immediately following the losses of my mother and son, and remember how I dreaded the holidays as they neared.
My mother died in August and my son in September of 1994, so the first holiday without them was Thanksgiving. Prior to 1994, as a family tradition, we spend every Thanksgiving holiday, matter of fact now that I think about it, every holiday at my mother’s house. Because of that, I had no idea of what we would do now that she was gone.
As the holiday drew nearer I began to experience feelings of panic, of insecurity and fear, feelings that seemed to intensity daily. I began to wonder if I would be able to endure the pain of facing the holidays without my love ones as I was certain the pain I felt from those losses would surely increase because my love one(s) were not here to share the holiday with.
The feelings of fear, pain and insecurity began to interfere with my daily thinking process and before long I was not able to focus on one thing for any length of time. This meant that some things either went undone, they weren’t done correctly, or if they were, it took longer for me to complete them.
When Thanksgiving Day finally arrived, I opened my eyes and realized that all of the fears and insecurities that I’d experienced had already reached their peak. I discovered that I was no more fearful or felt any more pain than I’d felt the days, weeks and months preceding the holiday. I realized that all of these feelings were because of my anticipation of facing the holidays without my love ones.
I realized that everyday, whether it was a holiday or not, the pain was no more or no less than what it had already been since losing my loved one(s) holiday. I also realized I’d been living every day without my love ones since their deaths and since I had already survived those days, weeks and months, I knew I would survive Thanksgiving too.
With that realization, the feelings of fear and insecurity didn’t overcome me as the Christmas holiday neared and so too I survived Christmas as well. I’m certainly not saying that I wasn’t sad or I didn’t miss my love ones. I assure you I did. But the anticipation of the holiday didn’t add to the pain of my losses. The pain’s was already there and to some degree, I believe it will always be there.
After surviving my first holiday season without my love ones, I haven’t experienced the type of fear or anxiety over an approaching holiday, birthday, or other special day that I shared with my love ones. I have accepted the fact that my loved ones aren’t with us physically. But it doesn’t mean they can’t be with us spiritually.
I’ve learned that once I accepted that fact I can now face anything that life throws my way. But I did not get to this process of acceptance overnight. It took months of attending Grief counseling in a group setting where I learned the process of grief, and prayer.
I’ve learned to rely on my faith in God. I realize that with God’s help, I could make it through anything, to include the loss of my parents, a child and other special people that impacted my life.
Through my faith in God and in my quest for understanding His word, I feel that God was not responsible for the death of my love ones as God is the giver of life. In John 10:10, He states, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly,” so He is the one who could help me to get through the loss of my loved ones.
I credit my faith in God for being where I am today in the grief process. I truly believe I wouldn’t have been able to accept (the final stage in the grief process) the loss of my loved ones.
When I am weak and feel that the pain is too much to bear when I think of my loved ones not being here, I turn to God and ask Him for strength and courage to make it through any moment of weakness or sadness.
It is only with the passage of time that will lessen the pain associated with the loss of a love one. There’s so much truth to the saying, “Time heals all wounds.”
If you have suffered the loss of a loved one and a holiday or other special day is approaching and you feel you cannot cope, I urge you to seek some type of grief counseling. Talking with others who have gone through or are going through what you going through can help you make it through the this most difficult time.
Eventually you will be able to face any day, even the holidays knowing that your loved ones are not very far from you. Once you do, you will be able to accept what has happened. You’ll eventually realize that as long as you live with the love of your loved one(s) in your heart, they will always be with you and will live through you.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

March 6 - 12th has been designated as Read and Ebook Week. No one will ever have it to say I'm not a team player, so in honor of this special occasion, I wanted to let you know what I'm reading.
Of course, I begin by letting you know about my ebook, Sacrifices In The Name of Love by Vanessa Alexander Johnson, 4.50 · rating details · 4 ratings · 1 review

What sacrifices could you make under the guise of love? Trey Martin, a Black teenager and Tessa Phillips, a white teenager are about to find out in Sacrifices In The Name of Love. They are neighbors in a small Louisiana town where race mixing is still taboo in the 21st century. Despite the objections and beliefs of their parents, the two give in to the desires for each other. Tessa becomes pregnant and creates a web of lies to conceal the baby’s paternity because she fears the wrath of her self-professed racist father. No longer able to hide the truth, Tessa will make some tough and painfulsacrifices, all under the guise of love. Will she be able to live with those sacrifices? Journey with Tessa and Trey as they face challenges that include sex, death, lies, family secrets and forgiveness. Despite those challenges, Tessa is determined to right her wrongs. Will those challenges make or break her as she faces her demons and those of her love ones, too?(less)
Kindle Edition
Published June 3rd 2010 by Red Rose Publishing
I'm reading Looking For Trouble by Erin Kern. It's a contemporary romance, and those of you who know me know I'm a sucker for a good romance. Kern has created two very likable characters, and although I'm only like in Chapter 4, I can already tell there's gonna be some HOT, HOT, HOT stuff happening later in this story. If the rest of the story is an indication of what's to come, I highly recommend you pick up Looking For Trouble.

Here's the book info for Looking For Troubleby Erin Kern

When Noah McDermott, owner of McDermott Construction, walks out into the bright morning sunshine, the last thing he expects is to get run over by a careless woman in a yellow Mercedes. His anger quickly fades into curiosity when the driver turns out to have endless legs and bottomless brown eyes.
Avery Price, daughter of a publishing millionaire, should have followed her instinct and kept driving instead of stopping at a dot on the map. But Trouble, Wyoming is growing on her and she needs a job – fast. So what is she thinking by accepting a job from the man she knocked over with her back bumper?As the two of them work together, the sparks fly. Surely they can be professional and keep from acting on their impulses. Sometimes Noah gets the feeling Avery isn’t who she says she is. Is she just a girl looking for a change or is there more going on than she’s telling him?
Avery quickly adapts to her new life in the middle of nowhere. She has a job for the first time in her life and a boss who turns her on more than her ex-fiancé ever did. But did she make the right choice by leaving home or is she falling deeper into trouble?
Kindle Edition
Published October 12th 2010
And get this folks, the ebook is only $.99 on Amazon...that's why I love me some ebooks and my Sony Reader....

And so, what books have you written that are available as an ebook, or what book(s) are you reading that's available as an ebook.

Happy Reading.