Football Friday Fare – Chocolate Variety

Every tailgate menu needs a little piece of chocolate, right? Today, I have included 3 chocolate options to include in your football weekend menu. The first one is my favorite!
Blitz Brownies
1 box of brownie mix, mixed according to package directions
1 pkg. fudge stick cookies (Keebler)
1 jar of marshmallow creme
1 C. peanut butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom of a 13 X 9 pan with cooking spray. Spread half of brownie mixture in the pan. Sprinkle evenly with CRUSHED fudge stick cookies. Place marshmallow creme and peanut butter in microwave for 30 seconds. Quickly, stir together until well blended and spread over cookies. Spread remaining brownie mix over the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool. Cut in squares.
Hawaiian Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 C. granulated sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. butter, softened
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 C. flaked coconut
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 C. semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 C. coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugars,butter, egg and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Add flour, coconut, baking soda and salt. Beat until a soft dough forms. Stir in chips and nuts.
Drop by heaping teaspoons 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet (I spray mine very lightly). Bake for about 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool completely.
Chocolate Caramel Balls
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened and divided
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. butter
1/4 C. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
2 C. all-purpose flour
1/4 C. unsweetened cocoa
1 t. baking powder
18 caramels, cut in half
1 1/2 C. powdered sugar
2 T. unsweetened cocoa
2 T. caramel ice cream topping
 2-3 t. milk
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine 6 oz. of the cream cheese, brown sugar, butter, granulated sugar, egg and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy! Add flour, cocoa and baking powder. Beat until soft dough forms. Shape 1 T. dough around 1 caramel to form a ball (completely cover caramel!). Repeat with remaining dough and caramels. Place balls 2 inches apart onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 – 14 minutes, or until set. Cool completely.
Mix frosting ingredients together until smooth. Spread frosting evenly onto cookies. Let dry completely before storing.
Happy Tailgating! Who are you cheering for this weekend?

Thankful Thursday – For Better for Worse

On Sunday, we celebrated a very special milestone in the life of our family – the 50th Anniversary of Barry’s parents. “For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health as long as we both shall live”… stronger statement made by a marriage that reaches such a milestone. Barry and I and our girls have been doubly blessed to see both of our parents celebrate their 50th Anniversary.
For their example, their guidance, their love and the love of family, we are most thankful!
Keith and Sue Allen
A.K.A. Nannie and Granddaddy
September 21, 2012 – 50 Years
Robert and Nell McLendon
A.K.A. Papa and Granny
June 11, 2005 – 50 Years

Lessons I Learned from My Daddy

May 22, 1931 – September 24, 2010

Two years ago, tonight, I held my Daddy’s hand as he breathed his last breath. Tonight, as I sit quietly alone, I am reflecting on the lessons learned from him, which were many. Words that quickly come to mind when I think of him are family, kindness, friend, creative, helpful, funny, love, good Samaritan, just to name a few. At the visitation, I lost count of how many men said to me that my Daddy was their best friend – friends from younger days, friends from work days, friends from the “coffee shop” (which was Hardee’s), friends from church, friends from the community. He was a great friend!…….The day of the funeral, Elle wrote a few pages of “memories of Papa” – she included, “I remember the time in Tuscaloosa that he helped 3 people he didn’t even know” – He was always helping others! ….. Every time I hear a good joke, I want to share it with him so he can tell it and tell it and tell it again – He loved to make people laugh and he loved to laugh!…….He could have been a weather man – he measured the rain, watched the clouds and in every phone conversation, he always asked, “how’s the weather up there?”……….He was born right in the middle of a very large family and each and every family member was very important to him – He loved his family and was always there for them!………My Daddy taught me how to hammer a nail, paint, glue, etc. – he was really creative at making and/or fixing all kinds of things. Even when we were having computer problems, Elle would think “Papa can fix it”. I treasure all of my “Papa Made” things. He always taught me to be patient and do things right the first time, too!……….. He taught me to be responsible – always pay my fair share, always take my turn at carpool or whatever! ………… If he said he was going to do something, he did it! He taught me alot about commitment!………. He showed me that hard work never hurt anybody and that it is OK to take a break, too!………. One of my favorite memories was dancing with him at my wedding to “My Girl” – every day, I look at the picture from my wedding on the piano and think how very blessed I am.

In lieu of flowers, we requested memorial donations to be given to Salem Baptist Church and Sprayberry Education Center – two places that were very special to him. At Salem Baptist Church, he accepted the Lord and was baptized. He was very dedicated to serving the Lord there. One more thing about him – he loved children and children loved him, especially his two beautiful granddaughters, Elle and Annie, so we found it fitting to dedicate the memorial money to the renovation of the nursery and toddler area which was recently accomplished.



Sprayberry Education Center is Annie’s school. It is the special education facility for the Tuscaloosa County School System. In October of 2010, the library was dedicated in “recognition and appreciation of his love of Elle and Annie and the Sprayberry Center.”
 Every time I walk by “The Giving Tree” outside the library and see the dedication plaque and article, I am reminded of how Daddy’s legacy lives on in the lives of these precious children served by Sprayberry, Annie and her friends.

Bro. Bobby described him perfectly when he wrote that poem to share with family and friends at his funeral. If I could have just one more conversation with him, I would surely thank him for everything I learned from him, tell him all about the girls and tell him that the weather is beautiful – it hasn’t rained a drop and I love you!

Friday Football Fare

Alabama-Arkansas Tailgate Menu
Clockwise from Top: Football Brownies, Cheese “Foot”Ball, Buffalo Chicken Bites, and BLT Wraps and Chocolate Covered “Football” Strawberries (Below)
Just melted semi-sweet chocolate chips, dipped the strawberries, let them harden and then piped white icing (from Pinterest!)
Kick Off “Game Day” with some Paula Deen Brownies from her Lady and Sons Cookbook
Lady Brownies
2 C. sugar
1 C. vegetable oil
4 eggs
6 T. cocoa
1 t. vanilla
 1 1/2 C. self rising flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Blend together the sugar, oil, eggs, cocoa and vanilla. Add flour; mix. Spread into a greased 13 X 9 inch baking dish. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
I cut into football shapes with a sharp knife and piped the strings!
Cheese “Foot”Ball
1 pkg. cream cheese, softened
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 C. mayonnaise
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. onion flakes
Chopped Pecans
2 T. pimento strips
Meat first 6 ingredients with mixer until blended; Refrigerate for a few hours. Shape into a football. Cover in chopped pecans. Add pimentos for lacing. Serve with your favorite crackers. I used Triscuits and Club Crackers.
The “Make and Take” Version – place on paper plate surrounded by crackers. Cover with cellophane and tie with ribbon in your team colors!

Buffalo Chicken Bites
1 C. finely diced cooked chicken breast
1/2 C. crumbled blue cheese
2 T. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 C. hot sauce (I used Frank’s)
4 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 1/4 t. rapid rise dry yeast
2 T. brown sugar
1 C. warm milk
2 1/2 C. of flour
To make the chicken mixure, combine the chicken, blue cheese, cheddar cheese, melted butter and hot sauce; set aside. Heat the milk and then add the 2 T. brown sugar; stir into warm milk until dissolved. Place in the bowl of the mixer. Add 2 1/2 C. flour and the yeast to the mixture and mix on low speed until soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead until you form a smooth ball. Place dough in a bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at room temperature until doubled – about 2 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust your hands with flour. Roll each piece of dough into a 12 X 4 inch rectangle. Place 1/4 of chicken mixture in the lower 3rd of each rectangle (long side facing you). Leave a 1/2 inch edge. Stretch bottom edge of dough up over filling and press tighly to seal, then roll up as tightly as possible. Cut each “rope” into 12 pieces and transfer to baking sheet. Let rest at room temperature, uncovered, 30 minutes for dough to rise slightly. Bake buffalo chicken bites in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.
When I first saw this recipe, I was thinking that it was way too complicated but decided to try it anything – it was easy – just have to plan for time for the dough to rise!
BLT Wrap
1 C. mayonnaise
1/2 C, sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
8 (10 inch) tortillas
1 large head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 medium onion, thinly sliced (optional)
16 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
Combine mayonnaise and tomatoes. Spread evenly over 1 side of each tortilla, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Layer lettuce, onions and bacon evenly over tortillas; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roll up tortillas; cut in half diagonally, and secure with wooden pick.
This was my favorite recipe of the day!
Crimson Cooler
1 C. apple juice (chilled)
2 C. cranberry juice (chilled)
1 liter lemon-lime beverage chilled
Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher or punch bowl. May serve cold, with or without ice.
My “Crimson Cooler” did not make the photos – it looked pink. Lesson learned: do not make with diet cranberry juice which is lighter in color than the regular. Also, my lemon-lime drink was flat but I know this is good with all the right ingredients!
One quick story: I should have shared this before the game last week! Be careful at a game like Alabama-Arkansas where each team has similar colors and they both has the same letter. Several years ago, at a game in Little Rock, when the entire stadium was “calling the hogs”, I said to the lady behind me wearing the off white suit, red scarf and gold “A” pin – “this is so obnoxious” to which she emphatically replied, “I am a Hog!” Oops!
Enjoy your games this weekend and may you have your best tailgate party ever!

Thankful Thursday – It’s Fall Y’all!

There is a time for everything, and a season for
every activity under heaven.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1


So thankful today for the beautiful fall weather! Without a doubt fall is my favorite time of the year!
Fall brings on new beginnings – a new school year! The weather gets cooler – sweatshirt weather! Football games and tailgating! All things pumpkin – Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks!
Halloween for Fun and Thanksgiving for counting our many blessings!

Changing seasons are a blessing – as we get tired of one, here comes another! And I am so thankful today that it is my favorite!! Happy Fall to You! Enjoy the season!



What’s in the Cookie Jar? Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 C. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 C. unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 C. creamy peanut butter
1/2 C. granulated sugar
1/3 C. light brown sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 C. rolled oats
1 C. semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. (I have never used parchment paper for baking cookies but may never bake without it again – no sticking and evenly browned). Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. Cream together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat to combine. On low speed, gradually add the flour until just combined. Stir in the oats, and then the chocolate chips. Using a cookie scoop, drop onto prepared baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden. Cool completely and store in airtight container.
These might be my favorite chocolate chip cookies ever!

"Tailgating with the Stars"

When our sweet Annie turned 3, she became eligible for school services. We are zoned for the Tuscaloosa County School System – Sprayberry Education Center is the special education facility. She started to school at Sprayberry just one week after her 3rd birthday. Obviously, with a 3 year old starting to school full time, we were a bit apprehensive. From Day 1, my fears were relieved by such a wonderful, caring and compassionate staff of teachers, paraeducators, and therapists who love my child! From immobility to mobility (she cruises and climbs!) –  from eating soft foods to eating every french fry and chicken nugget in sight – from no communication to learning to use an IPad – from sitting only to standing tall! – she had made so much progress developmentally in the time she has spent at Sprayberry! I know without a doubt that she is loved and she is very, very happy!
That’s why we support Sprayberry! And you can, too!
If you like sports, if you like the local band “Undercover, if you like some awesome BBQ by Robertson’s, if you like some great sports memorabilia or other silent auction items, if you like hanging out with some fun mascots or you like to support some special children,
or all of the above, you will enjoy this event!
Annie says “Thanks for Your Support”!

Friday Football Fare

One of the most fun things about Game Day to me is deciding what to make, making it and serving it! Whether at home or at the game, we always try to make it festive!
Pepperoni Rolls
1 pkg. crescent rolls
Pepperoni slices
Cubed Cheese
Preheat oven to temperature on the package of crescent rolls. Seperate each crescent roll and add about 4 pieces of pepperoni and 4 pieces of cheese to each section. Don’t think this is too much – it’s not! Press all the edges closed so that you can’t see what is inside. Place on a baking sheet and bake according to package directions. These may be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to bake. Another option is to use cheese with diced vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms, onions and a little spaghetti sauce.
Note: This recipe was contributed to “Game Day Specialties” * (a fundraising cookbook for Sprayberry Education Center, Annie’s school) by Karen Alles, wife of Todd Alles, former Director of Football Operations at the University of Alabama.

Fruit Salad with Honey Dressing

  2/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. vinegar
1/3 c. honey
1 c. salad oil
1 1/2 tsp. celery seeds
1 tsp. paprika
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated onion
Place first 5 ingredients into small mixer bowl; mix. Add
oil, drop by drop; beat until dressing has thickened. Stir
next 4 ingredients together; add to honey mixture by
spoonfuls. Beat well until thickened. Store in glass jar;
use for any fruit salad.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip
1 C. mayonnaise
1/2 jar roasted red peppers
1 t. dried basil
1/2 C.sour cream
Blend mayonnaise, red peppers, and basil in a food processor until smooth. Stir in sour cream, chill and serve with tortilla chips! 
Butterfinger Pie
6 crushed Butterfinger candy bars
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 12 oz. carton Cook Whip
1 graham cracker crust
Mix first 3 ingredients together. Put in pie crust. Chill before serving. You might want to put an additional crushed Butterfinger on top!

 Pineapple Lemonade Punch
1/2 cup powdered lemonade drink mix
1 can large can pineapple juice
2 cans Sprite
2 cups water
Mix all ingredients. Chill and serve or serve over ice!
Note: My punch has more of a red/orange look because I used pink lemonade mix that I had on hand. Very refreshing and tasty drink! My girls loved it!

My cheerleaders and I enjoyed this “stay at home” tailgate spread
 while Daddy was working a game for ESPN!
 We love Game Day!

* “Game Day Specialties” was published in 2008, featuring recipes from “First Ladies of Football” on the high school and college level. It includes recipes from Terry Saban, Sue Paterno, Jerri Spurrier, Shelley Myer and more! There are still some available for purchase. Coaches come and go but recipes last forever! To get your copy of “Game Day Specialties”, send a check payable to Sprayberry Education Center for $10 (free shipping outside of Tuscaloosa) to Sprayberry Education Center, 1324 Rice Mine Road, Northport, AL 35476……Be sure to include your shipping information!


Thankful Thursday – Welcome Home Andrew!

For the past few weeks, I have been following the story of Andrew, a precious first grader who became ill with meningitis and encephalitis during the first week of the school year. Andrew’s Mom and I worked together at the hospital several years ago. Long story short – 3 weeks ago tonight, Andrew was in critical condition and today he is home! He celebrated his 7th birthday this week and has already been discharged from one therapy! Whoo Hoo!

Throughout these 3 weeks, I followed Andrew through Facebook and Caring Bridge and I can say, without a doubt, that is has been a most inspiring experience to see the community rally around Andrew at a prayer meeting at his school, to read of Ashley and Daniel’s amazing faith, to read SO many posts of encouragement to this family, to read the scripture that Ashley so consistently shared, to read Ashley’s very honest accounts of all that Andrew was going through and feeling the power of prayer, to see the love of family and friends and to see the healing power of our Lord!

I would like to share an excerpt from Caring Bridge posted by Ashley on the day before they were discharged from Children’s Hospital.

“Fast forward 2 weeks until this exact moment. All the events in the middle have still led us to this point-it’s the same plan that it would’ve been. With all our prayers and the prayers of our friends, family, and community we have glorified the Lords name We are going home tomorrow! Andrew is coming with us! He’s excited, we are excited and apprehensive at the same time. But the point is, is that we are to thank God for the victory. We need to praise his name that our time here on Earth with His child Andrew is not over yet. We need to praise him for the victory that throughout all of this, someone has grown closer to the Lord, someone’s faith has grown stronger, someone has felt the Holy Spirit move them, families have grown and friendships have been made. God has works his ways in everyone of us. How can anyone NOT have experienced something in some way or another through this experience?”
So true! As I reflect on this passage from Ashley’s heart, I am so thankful for the family and friends who have surrounded me and my family during difficult times; I am thankful that my child was one of those who got to come home from Children’s Hospital after 2 months and a day, back in 2003; I am thankful for the power of prayer;  I am thankful for means of communication that we have to use to show support for family and friends and I am very thankful that Andrew is back at home and that he is doing so well!

A Hall of Fame Friend

Some time in the mid-80’s, not long after I moved to Tuscaloosa, I became friends with a wonderful couple! Jane Eure and I worked together at DCH, me as an Occupational Therapist and Jane as a Social Worker in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. We don’t actually remember how we became such good friends but one common bond was our love for Alabama Football. We’ve been everywhere from New Orleans to Oxford to Fayetteville to Columbia, SC, and many more places to cheer on the Crimson Tide. One day, while having beignets and some very strong coffee, at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans, “her husband” asked me a question.  “What do you call me?” he said, to which I answered “nothing”. He was actually Dr. Eure which was much too formal. Mr. Eure also seemed formal and maybe too impersonal and Jerry just didn’t work for this southern girl to call a man who was close to my parents age. So I just didn’t call him anything at all! We have laughed about this for years! Football wasn’t our only travel – the Eure’s and I have been to London, Paris, and Los Angeles together. We have visited Beverly Hills, Buckingham Palace, The Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, Windsor Castle and the Arc de Triomphe (when the elevator wasn’t working, Jerry and I climbed the steps to the top!) Good times!
On Friday, Jerry will be inducted into the 2012 Alabama Social Work Hall of Fame!
2012 Inductee Alabama Social Worker Hall of Fame

Dr. Gerald Eure, Associate Professor Emeritus,
The University of Alabama School of Social Work

Dr. Eure received his MSW from Tulane University in 1959. He worked in child welfare and family counseling for several years before joining the faculty at the University of Alabama in 1968. He received the EdD from the University in 1975. During his tenure with the School of Social Work, he served as director of field education and BSW program chair. He retired in 1996. Dr. Eure devoted his career to the practice of social work and the quality education of future social workers.

Founded by the Social Work Society at The University of Alabama School of Social Work, the state of Alabama Social Work Hall of Fame honors the accomplishments of some of the state’s most distinguished leaders in the field of social work.

Inductees into the Hall of Fame are acclaimed by their peers and colleagues for their professional status and exemplary leadership. They are also recognized for their creativity and contributions to the knowledge base and practice of social work. All inductees have influenced communities throughout the state.

Social work

Adapted fromWikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Social Work (Insert Dr. Gerald Eure)  a professional and academic discipline that seeks to improve the quality of life and well being of an individual, group, or community by intervening through research, policy, community organizing, direct practice, and teaching on behalf of those afflicted with poverty or any real or perceived social injustices and violations of their human rights.

Jerry Eure is the epitome of this definition of a social worker – he may have retired from teaching but he has never retired from “improving the quality of life” of any individual, group or community with which he is associated. Jerry and Jane have “been there” for me more times than I can count – in good times and bad – loving and caring for me and my family.

I may not have known exactly what to call Jerry in those early years of our friendship but one thing is for sure – now I can call him my “Hall of Fame” Friend because if there was a “Hall of Fame” for Friends, he would be there, too!

Congratulations, Dr. Eure! (This time it just seems right!)