This part is food for the soul! My friend and I were leaving the Wurst Haus in Lake Jackson where we had dinner. When we walked out, we were in for a musical surprise. A band was playing!

There is nothing unusual about that, but for us it was. And it was because they were playing a big band type of music with a Glenn Miller sound, or at least it sounded like Glenn Miller to me ... my favorite big band!

So we found a seat and enjoyed the band. The band’s name is Brazosport Big Band. They play the last Sunday of each month through October. Be sure to highlight this date on your calendar. And another highlight was a woman named Tricia Lamp, who is a vocalist for the band.

Was she good? She was wonderful! I swear if you closed your eyes and are of a certain age you would swear you were in a ballroom with this band and this very talented Tricia Lamp. She sang “Natural Woman” — and when I say she sang, she knocked it out of the ballpark. She sang another one also, and of course, knocked it out of the park. I wish we had gotten there earlier to hear the beginning and more vocals.

I’m just old enough that when I was a very young girl in elementary school I saw the movie “The Glenn Miller Story” and was taken by his music. Even if you love rap, you will love to sit outside and enjoy this band with Tricia, the other vocalist and the soloist who plays in this wonderful band. I loved it! Please make an effort to hear this very talented lot of musicians. You will walk away with a song in your heart, I promise.

n n n

OK, here is the last recipe served by the retired teachers luncheon I went to a couple of weeks ago. This next recipe should come with a warning; it is rich, delicious and addictive.

Turtle Cheesecake Brownie

Ingredients

Brownies

1 cup unsalted, butter

1 1/4 cup cocoa powder

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour.

Cheesecake

1 (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup sour cream

2 eggs.

Topping

1/3 cup caramel sauce

1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup salted pecans, chopped.

Directions

Brownies

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Add melted butter, cocoa and sugar to a mixing bowl and stir until well-blended. Add salt and eggs, stirring after each addition. Add flour and stir until well combined. Pour batter evenly into a greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Set aside.

Cheesecake

In a mixing bowl beat together cream cheese, sugar and sour cream until creamy and smooth. Add eggs and beat well. Pour evenly over brownie layer. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cheesecake is set. Do not overbake. Let cool at room temperature before topping.

Topping

Drizzle caramel over brownie cheesecake (you might need to microwave for 20 seconds first so it’s thin enough to drizzle). Immediately sprinkle on chocolate chips and pecans. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours before cutting and serving.

White Pizza Casserole

Ingredients

4 cups dry penne pasta cook based on package directions

2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

6-ounce pepperonis.

Sauce

1/4cup unsalted butter

1 medium onion, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 cups heavy cream, warm

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, diced

1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped leaves only

1/2 cup Parmesan grated, salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet or saucepan over low heat, add butter once almost melted and diced onion and cook until transparent, about five minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the flour and stir to distribute flour. Increase heat up to medium and cook for a minute or two, stirring continuously.

Slowly stir in warmed cream in a slow drizzle and stir constantly to avoid lumps. Bring cream mixture to a very slight simmer and cook until it thickens slightly.

When the sauce is the consistency of a gravy, season it with fresh thyme, oregano and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Remove it from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese. Cook penne pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside.

Add cooked pasta, 3/4 of the pepperoni’s, 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and the white pizza sauce to a large bowl and gently toss to combine.

Pour mixture into a greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese on top (you can use more or less cheese), top with remaining pepperoni pieces.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbling. For a golden brown top, broil for the last minutes of baking.

That was one good dish! For me, I would not want it brown. Instead, I would sprinkle it with more Parmesan cheese. Too much is never enough.

Next week we will finish up with the recipes from this luncheon with a chewy brown sugar cookie recipe. I love sugar cookies.

If you have recipes or tips to share, or a request, send to Conversations with Gin, P.O. Box 334, Clute TX 77531 or email ginscolumn@hotmail.com.

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