Melissa Dean.jpg

Ask what people are good at and I bet the answers will very much surprise you.

Ask me what I am good at, and the answer will not surprise you in the least.

Well, maybe some of the answers will, but one will not at all.

I am good at playing the piano.

I am a good singer.

I am a good friend.

I am a good wife.

I am a good listener.

And I am good cook, baker, and caterer.

But what I am really good at, is taking ingredients and turning them into something amazing, especially leftovers. I can take mashed potatoes and turn them into the best loaded baked potato soup you have ever tasted in your life. Just ask my friend, Shannon.

I can take left over taco meat add a few other spices to the mix and you would never know it was ever meant to be inside the cozy walls of a taco shell.

I can even take plain old potato chips, pretzels, and white chocolate chips and add them to my chocolate chip cookie recipe, and voila, my famous Hot Mess Cookies appear.

I know it sounds like I am a culinary magician. But really, I am just a girl who found a love for something and cannot let go of it.

It is kind of like when you first fall in love. You get all the butterflies in your stomach and all giggly. It sounds silly but it is the exact way I feel about food and everything related to it.

Does anyone have a passion like this?

I can name a few people. My husband, one half of the morning show at the Ranch radio station is like this. He jumps out of bed at 5:30 a.m. with a “Woohoo!” every morning and cannot wait to get work. Now he is also one of those who cannot wait to get home, either, but none the less he is deeply passionate about his job.

My brother is the same. He is a Captain for Southwest Airlines and loves what he does! He has been a pilot for over 20 years and still to this day feels the same way about an airplane as he did when we were kids and annoyed the mess out of me doing fly overs above Barbie’s Dream House.

My Mom. A teacher for CISD for more than 30 years before she retired. She sat at home for about a month before she got a job working at the Head Start Program as a teacher’s aide. She loved the kids so much she just could not stay away. Now, she is a CASA volunteer. And believe you me, she is deeply passionate about that!

I bet you know someone who has this kind of love for what they do, no matter what it is. I cannot imagine ever having another job that I dreaded getting up for in the morning. And those of you who knew me way back when, know exactly where and what I am talking about.

Even in my teaching job at the high school, I get to cook and be around food. And not just that, I get to foster a love for food and cooking in my students that I hope they will carry with them for the rest of their lives, sharing recipes with their families and friends someday.

It’s not an easy thing to find your passion, but once you do it’s something you should never ever let go of. I don’t plan on letting mine go anytime soon. I mean, I even dream about food! I had a dream that I had so many fresh tomatoes that I continuously had to come up with new recipes! Which is something I love to do, but tomatoes? Really? Couldn’t I have dreamt about chocolate or ice cream?

Oh, well, it is what it is.

Never doing stop what you love.

Never stop striving to find new things that bring you happiness.

Never stop trying new things.

You never know. You might be able to add that new thing to the “something I’m good at” list.

Here are a few recipes that I feel make me a good cook.

As always, I hope this article finds you healthy, happy, and safe. Enjoy!


Sweet M

Cherry Mustard Sauce

1 jar of organic Cherry Jam (yes, you can find this at HEB!)

1 tbsp of Spicy Brown Mustard

1 Tsp of prepared Horseradish Sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

So, I know most of you are probably going, “what in the world?” but I swear, if you serve this at your next party or get together over cream cheese, you may get an extra marriage proposal! It is delicious!

You can also substitute the Cherry jam with anything really. I have made this very same sauce with apricot, raspberry and even strawberry and grape jellies. It goes well with pork tenderloin, as well.

You just mix everything together well and spoon over a block of cream cheese. I serve this with pita chips or some kind of other sturdy cracker that will not break when you try to scoop the cream cheese. Enjoy!

Asian Avocado Dip with Veggies

2 ripe avocados, diced and mashed

1 tsp of soy sauce

1 tsp of sesame oil

Juice of ½ of a lime

1/8 tsp of wasabi paste

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Assorted veggies for dipping

I like sliced green and red bell peppers, carrots chips, and sliced mushrooms, but you can use whatever veggies you like.

Diced and mash the avocados in a clean and dry bowl. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, and wasabi paste. Mix together and taste. Squeeze in the lime juice and mix. Next, you will want to taste the mix before you add in the salt. Soy sauce is very salty already, so you may not need to add any salt at all. Most of the time, I try to purchase low sodium soy sauce, but still the level of salt can be overpowering. You will want to add in the pepper for sure. It adds a much-needed level of flavor to this delicious dip.

I have also served this with pita chips and it is always a hit and parties! Enjoy!

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