Good morning! I hope you are having a great week so far. If you live in the Tampa area then you know that Gasparilla is right around the corner and these brownies happen to be from the Gasparilla cookbook!

It is a super easy recipe and they are quite delicious. Perfect for your pirate festivities or a casual ladies night in! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 1 ounce chocolate squares unsweetened
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 well beaten eggs
  • 1 cup sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt the chocolate and margarine over hot water and blend. Gradually add sugar then eggs and beat well. Add flour gradually, mixing just until it disappears. Add nuts and vanilla. Pour into two 8 x 8 2 inch pans which have been greased and paper lined. Cook 25 to 30 minutes at 350. Cut each pan into 16 squares. Let stand for 5 minutes before turning out to cool. Makes 32.


Chocolate Drop Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate Drop Oatmeal Cookies – Gasparilla Cookbook pg. 272

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups uncooked oatmeal

1/2  cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4  cup all purpose flour

This recipe was pretty straight forward and easy to follow. I substituted butter for shortening because I like the flavoring of it better. I started by combining the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. I then creamed the butter, granulated  sugar and brown sugar in a separate bowl. I added the egg and vanilla to the butter mixture until it was well incorporated.

I then added the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Lastly, I added the oatmeal and chocolate chips. I used a cookie scooper to scoop out the dough and placed the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet. I baked them at a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

They were a hit with everyone who tried them. This is a great quick recipe to have on hand when you are craving something sweet. I will definitely be making these again!



Cream Cheese Cookies


The Gasparilla Cookbook

Cream Cheese Cookies

I signed up to make these thinking all cookies are easy to make. Boy was I wrong. You definitely need something more advanced than a hand mixer and don’t try to pull a short cut (like I did) by not going out a buying a pastry cloth. Honestly, I had never heard of a pastry cloth until I read this recipe and I had no idea how important of a step that was going to be. They tasted great, but they weren’t the prettiest cookies I’ve ever made (haha).

½ pound butter or margarine

6 ounces cream cheese

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

Thick jam

Powdered sugar

Cream butter and cheese until light. Add flour, baking powder and sugar. Mix until smooth. Roll out about ¼ inch thick onto a floured pastry cloth and cut with 1 ½ – inch cookie cutter. Make a slight depression in the center and fill it with ½ teaspoon of jam. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and sift powdered sugar over the cookies. Makes about 60 cookies.


Pumpkin Pie!

By Jaime Brewer

I have always loved the smell of pumpkin…especially around Thanksgiving time.  The ironic thing is, I haven’t always necessarily liked the taste of pumpkin.  It’s like when people tell me they love the smell of coffee, but don’t like the taste.  Personally, I don’t understand those people since I live on coffee!  But, I get their point.  I used to love to cook and bake and then things happened (husband, dog, children- in that order) and cooking and baking became something I did for my family to survive and not necessarily as therapy like it used to be.  That’s why I tend to steer towards recipes that aren’t overly complicated and include a smaller amount of ingredients.  So, when I was asked to bake something for the Junior League Cookbook blog, I jumped at this recipe of only 9 ingredients.

The first thing I did was gather my ingredients and the necessary utensils.

1 pie shell, unbaked

¾ cups canned pumpkin

1/3 cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

2 eggs

1 cup milk (small can evaporated milk plus enough plain milk to make 1 cup)

½ cup white corn syrup

Then, I went to work simmering the pumpkin over low heat, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Ten minutes later, I removed the saucepan from the stove and stirred in the next 4 ingredients (sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger). Next, I beat the eggs – first by hand before I realized it would take me an hour to get the mixture frothy, like the recipe called for, then with an electric mixer.  Definitely use an electric mixer and beat until frothy!

Once the eggs were frothy, I added the milk and corn syrup and mixed together. Then I added the egg mixture to the pumpkin mixture and beat together until they were well combined.

Next, I poured the mixture into the pie shell. Once thing I would have liked to have known beforehand was that the recipe actually made more mixture than would fit in the 9-inch pie shell. Had I known, I would have also purchased some of the smaller tart shells and made a few child sized pies as well!

Then it was off to a 450 degrees oven for 15 minutes and then to a 300 degrees oven for another 40 minutes.

I have to say I’m pretty proud of my very first pumpkin pie.  Not only did my house smell delicious for an entire day, but I was ready for friends who unexpectedly showed up for a play date!  FYI, if you make this for Thanksgiving or any other fall day, have some whip cream on hand!  Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy!

Swedish Meatballs

By Lisl Unterholzner

One of the great things about The Gasparilla Cookbook is that it pulls together the best recipes from the various cultures that collide in our area, mainly Cuban, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Southern and more. You may be wondering if and how Swedish Meatballs have anything to do with Florida’s West Coast. Well, I don’t know the background of Mrs. D. A. Kafka, who submitted this recipe. I can tell you that part of my own ancestry is Swedish, and that my great-great-grandfather was one of five brothers from Sweden who came to the Tampa Bay area in the late 1880’s.

Today, the easiest way to enjoy Swedish meatballs is to stop by IKEA, and I’m definitely a fan. But the recipe from The Gasparilla Cookbook is a great place to start if you have the time and the inclination to cook from scratch. For one thing, the texture of these meatballs is phenomenal- super light and fluffy. Plus, the Almond Noodles that accompany them are seriously addictive.

There are a few things I would tweak. For one, the recipe calls for you to sauté 2 tablespoons of minced onion in ¼ cup of butter. You can easily knock that down to 1 tablespoon. The texture of your meatballs will also be affected by the bread you use to make bread crumbs. I used some white bread from the Publix bakery, maybe the Italian Sandwich bread, tearing the slices into pieces and giving them a whirl in the food processor to make pretty fine crumbs.

Don’t use canned bread crumbs- the key is to make sure your bread is not too hard or to dry. Finally, I drained my meatballs on paper towels after browning, then wiped out the pan to remove the excess oil. If you have some browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, you could loosen them with a bit of chicken broth, then return the meatballs to the pan and add the cream.

This recipe did not make a ton of sauce, so don’t expect it to be a make-at-home version of IKEA’s. I see it as a wonderful recipe for a birthday meal or a dinner party. Most of the work for the meatballs is done in advance, and the noodles can be put into a casserole or serving dish and covered with aluminum foil to stand for at least 30 minutes. I served this to some very picky pre-schoolers, and they gobbled up the meatballs. They were less fond of the noodles, which was fine because I was happy to heat them up for lunch (along with a few – not many!- leftover meatballs) the next day.

So, enjoy your meal, or as they say in Swedish, Smaklig måltid!


2 cups soft bread crumbs, firmly packed

3/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons minced onion

1/4 cup butter

1 lb ground beef

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 egg, slightly beaten

2 tablespoons flour

Fat or salad oil

1/2 cup light cream

Combine bread crumbs and milk; let stand 10 minutes. Saute onion in butter over low heat until soft but not brown. Combine beef, nutmeg, salt, paprika and egg. Add to bread crumb and onion mixture. Shape in small balls, about 1-inch in diameter. Chill at least 1 hour. Roll meatballs in flour; cook in a little hot fat or salad oil, turning to brown on all sides. Add cream, cover and cook 5 minutes. Serve at once with Almond Noodles. Makes 6 servings.


1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 8-ounch package egg noodles, cooked

Melt half the butter; add almonds and cook until golden brown. Add remaining butter, paprika and poppy seeds. To hot cooked noodles, add this mixture, tossing with a fork until thoroughly mixed. Makes 6 servings.

The Gasparilla Cookbook 50th Anniversary Edition Has Arrived!

The highly anticipated anniversary edition of our award-winning cookbook was unveiled at the Junior League of Tampa Cookbook Chair Brunch on August 6th at JLT headquarters for all past Cookbook Committee Chairs. The Brunch featured presentations by JLT President Allison Burden, Past Cookbook Chair Lisl Unterholzner and Current Cookbook Chairs Aspen Kahl and Denise Schultz. “It was amazing to have 50 years of past cookbook chairs together celebrating our flagship publication,” said Aspen Kahl. “It exemplifies their commitment to the League and the legacy of The Gasparilla Cookbook that we continue to build today.”

A classic menu of recipes from The Gasparilla Cookbook 50th Anniversary Edition was served, including: Banana Bread (muffins), Garden Salad with Zesty Salad Dressing, Five-Cup Fruit Salad and Chicken Salad De Luxe Croissant Sandwiches.

Brunch attendees had the first opportunity to purchase The Gasparilla Cookbook 50th Anniversary Edition and received an appreciation discount on the purchase of five or more books at the event. “It’s beautiful and I will delight in giving them as gifts,” said Sue Isbell, Past Cookbook Committee Chair.

“We sold 103 copies of The Gasparilla Cookbook 50th Anniversary Edition,” said Denise Schultz. “The brunch was a great success and properly celebrated this special commemorative edition.”

The launch of The Gasparilla Cookbook 50th Anniversary Edition also included several events at Datz Delicatessen. JLT members were invited to attend a series of “Lunch Box” events and a cocktail party featuring recipes from our timeless cookbook. For each of these events, Datz made a donation back to the League to support our community projects.

Datz featured a series of “Lunch Box” events from September 19th through the 23rd. Each event featured recipe selections from The Gasparilla Cookbook, presented at a three-course seated tasting and cooking demonstration. JLT Guest Chefs included Lynette Russell, Stephanie Wiendel, Lisl Unterholzner, Danielle Post, Suzy Mendelson, Andrea Layne, Denise Shultz, and Casey Carefoot.

Chicken Shortcake Natchez

By Lisl Unterholzner

With a 50 year old cookbook, you have to expect that some recipes have stood the test of time better than others. This recipe was the main dish at the cooking demonstration I attended at Datz during The Gasparilla Cookbook’s week-long invasion of that foodie mecca, and I was curious to see how Chef Heather would approach it. What’s the concern? Well, if you can get past the MSG and the yellow food color in the sauce, it’s still a recipe for a style of dish that’s not as popular today as it once was. It’s kind of a chicken a la king over cornbread. Perfect for the ladies who lunched at The Wedgewood Inn in St. Petersburg back in the day, but I discovered it’s also surprisingly good if you’re looking for some easy comfort food and not counting calories.

One thing I have to mention up front, DO NOT follow the directions as written or you will end up with a gluey mess. The directions for the cream sauce call for an unreasonable amount of flour. I don’t know if it’s just a mistake, but I was very happy to watch Chef Heather prepare the roux for the cream sauce before I tried it at home.

The good thing about this recipe is it can be made in stages, and you can make it the long way, or use shortcuts as you see fit. The long way would be making your own chicken stock, cooking your own chicken, making your own cornbread and sautéing fresh mushrooms instead of using the canned ones called for in the recipe. Fine if you’ve got the inclination, but not a big deal if time is of the essence.

I decided to use my own cornbread, made in a skillet using the Corn Sticks recipe on page 26 of The Gasparilla Cookbook. But I’ve got a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin mix sitting in my cabinet that just might be called into service in the near future.

Here’s how I interpreted Chicken Shortcake Natchez:

First, I made the corn bread. Actually, first I made bacon to get the bacon fat for the cornbread, because I wanted to follow the recipe as much as possible, and no one in my house minds an excuse to make bacon. I really liked the suggestion at the end of the recipe to add crumbled bacon to the cornbread, but I held off this time. Just using the fat gives it a strong bacon-y flavor. Yum! By the way, the recipe for the shortbread calls for the cornbread to be made without sugar, but there is so little in this version that I left it in for balance. This is a pretty grainy style of cornbread, so if you like it softer you may want to try a different recipe.

My cornbread is cooling in the background. Now, I’m ready to start the cream sauce. That bowl of flour is WAY too much, despite what the recipe says. I actually used about 6 or 7 tablespoons. Chef Heather said to add it a little bit at a time, and stir constantly. The mixture remained loose and liquid. The recipe doesn’t really say how long you should cook it. I wanted to cook off the raw flour taste, but not allow the roux to begin to turn brown. I probably cooked it about 6 or 7 minutes before beginning to add the chicken stock. That, too, should be done a little at a time, and a whisk is handy to break up the lumps that form.

I substituted 2% milk for the evaporated milk, and left out the MSG and food coloring, but I did use the canned mushrooms for convenience. They have distinctive flavor, but in the sauce they aren’t too strong and mostly add some depth of flavor. Another suggestion by Chef Heather was to add a bit more depth to the sauce with a dash of Worcestershire sauce, which I did and liked the result. For the cooked chicken, I took the meat off a rotisserie chicken, and that worked well. The whole thing comes together very quickly, and then it’s time to dig in.

Here it is – decidedly retro, but delicious nonetheless. This would be fun for a themed dinner party, but it’s not too hard for a weeknight. Enjoy!


        • 4 cups cooked white meat of chicken (cut in medium-size pieces)
        • 2 cups canned mushrooms
        • 4 cups cream sauce

Blend  chicken, mushroom and cream sauce. Slice squares of southern style cornbread (no sugar) through the center. Ladle chicken mixture on half the cornbread, top with another slice of cornbread and put more chicken mixture over this, shortcake fashion. Sprinkle with paprika. Serves 6.


        •  3 cups rich chicken stock
        • 1 1/2 cups flour
        • 1/4 pound margarine
        • 5 ounces evaporated milk
        • 1/4 teaspoon salt
        • 1/4 teaspoon monosodium glutamate
        • 1 or 2 drops yellow food coloring

Strain stock. Add flour to melted margarine, stirring constantly. When smooth add the stock gradually. Then add milk, salt, monosodium glutamate and food coloring. Stir well, and cook until thickened.