Simple Sundays

Beautiful music for a quiet Sunday morning!  I stumbled across this piece while looking through YouTube!  Enjoy the day… well and find peace!

Cheesecake With A Twist

I’m in Autumn cooking mode these days.  I dreamed this recipe up years back and am making it again for a catering event I have tonight.  It’s a savory cheesecake, nothing sweet about it.  But it is so incredibly delicious!  This recipe is in my newly published cookbook, “Seasoning…Saucing…Savoring”, available on Amazon HERE!:…SAUCING…SAVORING+BY+MELISSA+LEE


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 tsp. Sangre de Cristo Mexican Seasoning ( available at

1 tsp. Sangre de Cristo Garlic Powder

1/2 cup chopped pecans

3/4 stick butter, melted

Mix all ingredients.  Grease a ten inch spring form pan with vegetable oil of cooking spray.  Pat the crust mixture into the bottom.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove fhe pan and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

For the filling:

3 pounds cream cheese, softened and cut into chunks

2 whole eggs, slightly beaten

1/1/2 cups chopped, roasted New Mexico chilies (I found a bag of frozen, fire roasted peppers at Trader Joe’s that I’m using this time…yum!)

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 tablespooon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped yellow onion

1/2 teaspoon Sangre de Cristo Sea Salt

1/2 teaspoon Sangre de Cristo Mexican Seasoning

In a mixing bowl, place the cream cheese and eggs, mix until smooth with an electric mixer.  Saute onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil until the onion is transparent.  Add the peppers and heat through.  Fold the pepper mixture and shredded cheese into the cream cheese, adding salt to taste.

Pour the cheese mixture into the prepared crust and place in a the spring form pan on a cookie sheet, adding 2 cups of water onto the tray to create a water bath.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/4 hours or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

This cheesecake can be made a day ahead of time and placed in the freezer for 2 hours to set completely.  Remove the cake from the freezer and place in the refrigerator overnight.  Warm in a 350 degree oven for about a half hour or until heated through.



Simple Sundays

Fall…my favorite season of all.  The colors…the smells…the comfort food…It all puts me in my happy place!  I selected today’s music by Bach because it has a calming, peaceful effect.  Embrace this beautiful day, wherever you may be!  Deep breaths…loving moments and gratitude!  Peace.

Simply Delicious!

As the weather cools off a bit I’ve got the “cooking bug” again!  I’m sharing one of my favorite menus with you for a light weekend dinner or lunch…or anytime you feel in the mood for comfort food!  I have been making this version of French Onion Soup for years and it is always a big hit!  It’s easy to make and so delicious, paired with a light salad, crusty bread and a full bodied Grenache wine.  I hope you’ll try it!

French Onion Soup

Salad of Mixed Greens with a Light Vinaigrette

Crusty French Bread

Berry Crisp


french onion soup

French Onion Soup

2 tbsp. butter
2 large yellow onion finely minced

1 large purple onion finely minced

4 shallots finely minced

2 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and cubed

8 cups beef or chicken broth (I have made this with vegetable broth as well…yum!)

¼ cup Madeira wine

1 bay leaf

1 tsp.  Sage Leaves, ground

Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste

8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated

8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)

1 French baguette, sliced and toasted
Heat butter, add onions, shallots, apples and cook over
medium low heat until caramelized, about ½ hour. Stir in
broth, Madeira wine, bay leaf and sage. Simmer for 20
minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Fill French onion soup
crocks or other deep soup bowls with soup. Top with two
baguette slices, shredded cheese and bacon. Place under
the broiler or use a small kitchen torch to melt the cheese
until bubbly.

mixed green salad

Salad of Mixed Greens with a Light Vinaigrette

1 head red leaf lettuce

1 head butter lettuce

1 head radicchio

1 head endive

Tear the greens and toss with vinaigrette and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar

Sea salt & Pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Whisk ingredients together in a bowl then toss with the salad greens.

berry crumble

Berry Crisp

1/2 cup fresh blackberries

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

1 cup sliced, fresh strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together and place in a pie pan.  Top with Crumb Topping

Crumb Topping:

6 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cups quick-cooking oats

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped almonds

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Mix together and spoon over the berry mixture.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 1/2 hour, or until browned and bubbly.

The Causeway



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This is the causeway.  It is the longest causeway in the world!  It crosses Lake Pontchartrain, The distance and expanse bothered me at first.  Then I realized it is a straight shot, you can almost put your vehicle on automatic pilot and use the time to relax, listen to good music and enjoy the views.  When first entering the causeway you cannot even see New Orleans.  It is like entering an endless highway suspended over the lake.  Even that aspect of the causeway has become a friend to me.  You have to get from one side to the other.  Yes, there are places one can turn around if need be, but to remain on course is better.


We’ve learned the hard way to check conditions before heading out for early morning appointments.  If there is fog or an accident you don’t want to take this route.  Sitting for hours while suspended over the lake is not my favorite thing.  Especially in bumper to bumper traffic!  But I’m learning that “it is what it is”.  Life has taken on a different complexion for me now.  I have a different “take” on life, if you will.  I take each moment as it comes, realizing that every day is a present.  And, speaking of fog, my brain is feeling much clearer…it just takes time.

Landsat new orleans nfl lrg.jpg

This overview will give you a sense of how things are laid out here.  The white line down the middle of the lake is the causeway.  The area in which we live is referred to as the North shore, for obvious reasons.  I like having the option of city life or country life.  The city of New Orleans is not so big that one feels overwhelmed by crowds, but a city feeling is there that I feel surpasses some of the larger cities I have visited or lived in.  I feel we have the best of both worlds here!  It’s a beautiful lifestyle.  People who love to celebrate, who parade at the drop of a hat, and care for each other in ways so rare in today’s world.  Color me happy!  I’m glad we’re here!  This feels like my forever home.

Simple Sundays

It’s Sunday!  I never know whether to think of it as the end or beginning of the week.  Does it really matter if we’re relaxing and enjoying a beautiful day?  Perhaps you’re attending worship services this morning, taking a walk on the beach or simply making a delicious breakfast and sharing time with family and friends.  Whatever you are up to here’s a delightful work by Mozart to get you going and shining your light!  Enjoy….peace!

Kung POW Chicken

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I first tasted Kung Pao chicken while living in New York City.  I loved the spicy flavors and the crunch of peanuts…..layers of deliciousness exploding on the taste buds.  I found a recipe and have made it for years but it keeps evolving.  This latest version that I came up with a couple of weeks ago is definitely the best yet!  You can adjust the heat by using less red pepper flakes or omitting them entirely.  My secret for making Asian cooking easier is to do the chopping, placing everything in small bowls beside the wok so each step of the recipe can be handled quickly and easily.  Stir frying, at a high heat, requires being prepared.  Please let me know if you try this recipe!  Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Kung Pao Chicken

2 whole, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, split and cut into half inch cubes

1  large egg white

2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder

Place the cubed chicken breast into a medium sized bowl.  Add the egg white and cornstarch or arrowroot powder and stir to coat the chicken well.  Allow to stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes.  This process is called “velveting” the chicken.

1/4 cup coconut oil

3/4 cup raw peanuts

4 scallions diced, including green ends

1 red or orange bell pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 tablespoons fresh ginger root, minced

To Stir Fry:

In a large wok, heat the coconut oil until melted.  Add the chicken, tossing in the oil.  As it begins to brown add the peanuts, scallions, bell pepper, garlic and ginger root.  Toss in the hot oil until the veggies are just tender…you want a bit of crunch.  Add the sauce and cook until heated through and sauce has thickened.  Serve over jasmine rice and enjoy an ice cold Tsing Tao beer!


1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine or sherry

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon monk fruit or coconut sweetener

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder

1 tablespoon red or green pepper jelly

Mix all ingredients, except the jelly, and pour over the chicken mixture as instructed above.  When the sauce is thickening add the pepper jelly and stir well until the jelly has melted into the sauce.

NOTE:  There are many brands of pepper jelly on the market.  The one I used was actually made by a friend using my sister-in-law’s recipe…lucky me!  I’ll see if I can get permission to share it with you!

Dufour A Massage

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This door opens into a place I find to be magical!  I am a firm believer in self care, especially after having been a caregiver for three years.  Taking time out for oneself is critically important!  If you’re not in good shape, you can’t offer the care others need.  Part of my self care routine has always been regular deep tissue massage therapy.  Since moving to Covington, LA a little over three years ago I had not found anyone to work with.  I say “with” because I believe effective massage and energy work has to involve both the therapist and the client.  Being open to receive the healing the therapist offers is a huge part of relaxing and allowing the tension and stress to melt away.

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I met Martie Dufour several months ago through a mutual friend.  She left Denver, Colorado, returned to her roots here in Louisiana, opened her massage therapy practice and contacted me to introduce herself.  I needed a massage and she offered the exact services I was looking for.  Deep tissue work…Relaxation and Stress Relief…Reiki, a natural healing method through which the therapist moves healing energy through the clients body.  In my opinion Martie is a healer…I say that with confidence since I have experienced her work.  She offers therapeutic massage as well as specialized work such as cranial sacral, accupressure, reflexology and prenatal care.


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One of Martie’s specialities is working with children who have autism, downs syndrome and other emotional issues.  Her healing touch balances their emotions, helping them to cope with life more effectively.  It is a proven fact that massage provides physical, mental and emotional benefits.  Blood pressure lowers, metabolism balances, stress and anxiety are lessened and, over time, an over all feeling of well being is experienced by the client.  I have been having massage therapy for over 30 years and Martie offers one of the best hour long treatments I have received.  She is very flexible working with individual clients and their special needs.  I love the fact that her last name “Dufour” plays such a clever part in the name of her business!  Come to think of it…It’s time for me to schedule an appointment!

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522 New Hampshire Street, Suite 7….Covington, LA 70433…985-789-5458



Simple Sundays


Image result for the beatles let it be

If you read my post on Wednesday you know I’m at Christ Episcopal Church attending the first “Beatles Mass”!  I’m in my glory surrounded by the music and magic of this day.  We are so blessed to have a church that promotes music of all kinds for the inspiration of all attending.  In keeping with the event I am sharing one of my favorite Beatles songs…”Let It Be”.  I love the message of this song since it hearkens to what I try to do in my own life…let go and let God.  I spent years pushing and trying to make things happen, NO MORE!  And the answers DO come so easily when one let’s things be.

Have a wonderful Sunday with your loved ones…even if you’re alone.  I’m finding that self love is so very important!  Peace…


A Touch Of Spice!

I’m sharing one of my favorite weekend menus with you today.  This is perfect to serve while watching college football or for a casual Sunday dinner.  Just a bit spicy but oh so yummy!  I think you’ll love it!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Guacamole with Blue Tortilla Chips

Mexican Chocolate Pie

Cold Cerveza

tortilla soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

So simple and delicious!

2 cups shredded roast chicken (perfect for leftover
rotisserie chicken)
1 onion diced
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno peeled, seeded and chopped (Don’t forget to
wash your hands well after handling these!)
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
1 can mild Rotel tomatoes or other canned tomatoes with
mild peppers
2 tsps. Sangre de Cristo Mexican Seasoning
Sangre de Cristo Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1 can hominy or posole, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp. Chiptole or Tabasco sauce
10 corn tortillas cut in strips
1 bunch scallions finely chopped
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
1 cup shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
In a small stock pot place the olive oil, onion, garlic and
jalapeno and sauté until the onion is transparent. Add the
chicken broth, tomatoes, shredded chicken and the
Mexican Seasoning. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer
for 20 minutes. Add the posole and black beans with the
Tabasco sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Just before
serving, add the tortilla strips, otherwise they will
disintegrate. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and
garnish with chopped scallions and the cheeses. Serves 6.


Guacamole with Blue Tortilla Chips

3 ripe avocadoes

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of one lime

1 teaspoon olive oil

sea salt and pepper to taste

Mash the avocado and add remaining ingredients.  Sprinkle with chopped, fresh cilantro and serve with your favorite blue tortilla chips.

mexican choc pie

Mexican Chocolate Pie

1 9 inch pie shell (I use a deep dish crust that I make from scratch, but store bought will do)
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water
4 eggs
3 1 ounce squares semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup coffee flavored liqueur, (I use Khalua)
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 teaspoon butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water in a measuring cup ; let soften about five minutes.  Separate eggs, placing two whites (refrigerate remaining whites) in small bowl of electric mixer, and place the yolks in the top of a double boiler.  Let egg whites warm to room temperature.  Beat egg yolks slightly with wooden spoon.  Stir in gelatin mixture, chocolate and 2 tablespoons sugar.  Cook over hot, not boiling, water, stirring until chocolate is melted and gelatin is dissolved – about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in coffee flavored liqueur.  Turn chocolate mixture into a medium bowl, place in large bowl of ice water.  Stir occasionally until cool and consistency of unbeaten egg white – about 15 minutes.  Toast almonds:  In skillet, melt butter.  Add almonds; stir over medium heat just until golden brown.  Cool.  In a chilled bowl, whip cream until stiff;  refrigerate.  Meanwhile, with electric beater, beat egg whites just until soft peaks form when beater is slowly raised.  Gradually beat in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating until stiff peaks form when beater is raised.  With rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold the egg whites and 1 cup whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. (Save the remaining whipped cream to garnish the finished pie.)  Turn the mixture into the shell, spreading evenly.  Refrigerate until the pis is firm – 3 hours or overnight.  Before serving chop almonds, spoon whipped cream around the edge of the pie and sprinkle with almonds.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  Makes 12 servings.