Cooking With Love

Festive recipes by well-know locals

Looking for some kitchen inspiration this holiday season? We asked some well-known and well-loved locals to share their favorite festive recipes and, being the generous people they are, we have a fabulous roundup of fun, delicious dishes for you. Rosie Moncrief, Jean Roach, Deborah and Steve Lamb, and Neil Sperry are all incredibly busy people. But as my mom always said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” They were all gracious to let us into their homes and lives.
As you read these stories, you will surely note that the one thread running through all these lives is love. It shows in their cooking, their devotion to their families and in their commitment to our community. As Rosie Moncrief says, “Cooking food for people is one of the best ways to show them love.”
Happy holidays, dear readers!

Rosie Moncrief
It’s easy to see that when Rosie Moncrief is cooking in her kitchen, the first ingredient is love. On any given day, you might find her whipping up goodies for her local firefighters, taking one of her famous pecan pies to her floral designer, or baking treats for her grandkids.
“I love Fort Worth and all its people,” says Rosie. This is evident in all the time and devotion she has given to our city. One of her love languages is showering loved ones with homemade goodies. She created her family’s favorite, Over the Moon Banana Pudding, because “I love my family and they love banana pudding,” she says. “When my grandchildren were young, I had a book called, ‘I Love You to the Moon and Back’ that we read to them often. We still use the phrase ‘to the moon and back’ as an expression of love.” So naming this over-the-top dessert was easy. As it happens, she uses Texas Moon Gourmet Toffee as an extravagant, crunchy topping, sealing the name’s significance.

Over the Moon
Banana Pudding

Graham Crackers
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 individual package of Nabisco Graham Crackers – 9 total to package
¼ cup melted unsalted butter
Break crackers into small pieces – dime to quarter size – toss with butter in a mixing bowl. Spread onto cookie sheet and bake 10 -12 minutes until crispy brown. Divide into three equal parts and set aside.

6 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
1 ½ teaspoons Mexican vanilla
1 teaspoon unsalted butter for coating plastic wrap

1. Place egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk to combine; set aside. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring over medium heat until mixture thickens and just begins to bubble, 10 – 12 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Whisk ½ cup hot sugar mixture into reserved yolks to temper. Slowly pour warmed yolks into saucepan, stirring constantly. Cook, while continuing to stir, over medium heat until mixture just begins to bubble, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
3. Transfer the filling to a medium mixing bowl. Lightly butter a piece of plastic wrap and place it directly on top of filling to prevent a skin from forming. Transfer the filling to the refrigerator until firm and chilled, at least one hour. The filling may be made a day ahead.
*6 ounces of gourmet toffee (Rosie likes Texas Moon Gourmet Toffee)Chop into pea size or smaller pieces and set aside

Whipped Cream
1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin
¼ cup cold water
2 cups heavy whipping cream, very cold
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla
1. In a small saucepan sprinkle gelatin powder over cold water and let stand for one minute.
2. Heat water and gelatin mixture for 3 minutes on low heat while stirring continuously to dissolve gelatin. Cool to room temperature.
3. Put whipping cream in chilled bowl and gradually add gelatin mixture while beating on low speed with hand mixer to combine well. Add Mexican vanilla. Beat on medium for 5 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar and beat on high for 5 minutes until peaks form.
Place in refrigerator 
1 large banana
Slice into thin pieces and sprinkle with lemon juice – fresh or bottled- to prevent them from turning brown.

In a Trifle bowl, place 1/3 of Graham Crackers
Next, spread ½ half of custard mixture
Layer ½ of sliced banana
Sprinkle 1/3 of gourmet toffee over bananas
Sprinkle 1/3 of Graham Crackers over bananas
Spread ½ of whipped cream on top of bananas
Repeat process.
I like for my last bit of Graham Crackers to be crushed into crumbs for the very top of pudding, along with the last of the gourmet toffee.

Jean Roach
When you enter the home of gracious Jean Roach, you immediately feel the love and affection she has for her family. Fun holiday decorations are everywhere, and her warm, inviting kitchen is obviously a favorite place for her family to gather. She gives incredible time and energy to many local community efforts, but her favorite project is KinderFrogs, Tarrant County’s early-intervention program for young children with Down syndrome and other developmental delays. Jean was instrumental in starting KinderFrogs and is a main force behind its success. 
As busy as she is, Jean still cooks for her family. Here is her family-famous Holiday Morning Casserole, a brunch staple at their Fort Worth home, as well as at their Florida home where the family spends many holidays. “I truly fix this every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and many Easter mornings. I have used it for wedding brunches too.”


Holiday Morning

Yield: 8 servings
10 whole eggs
½ cup flour
½ cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
16 ounces small curd cottage cheese
1 pound box Four Mexican Cheese, grated
8 ounces canned diced green chilies, optional
1. Preheat oven to 350º. Spray an 11 x 13-inch baking dish with non-stick coating.
2. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add remaining ingredients in order listed, beating between each ingredient. When well mixed, pour into prepared baking dish. Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Let stand 5 – 10 minutes before serving.
Jean’s notes: The unbaked casserole can be covered and stored in the refrigerator the day before and baked the next morning. She adds, “You will be glad to have this tasty morning treat ready for the oven when you start a day of holiday fun. Serve with sausage patties, a baked tomato, salsa, plus biscuits or fried potatoes for a delightful start to a delightful day of celebrating. Enjoy!”

Deborah Ferguson
and Steve Lamb

Talk about a dynamic duo. This couple, in love and married 20 years, keeps our city informed on all the daily news as well as the latest in sports.
Deborah, award-winning news anchor for NBC 5 Today, is well loved in our community. And for good reason. Besides waking us up each morning with her cheery, winsome personality and warm, beautiful smile, she is very active in giving to our community. She is on the advisory council for the Young Women’s Leadership Academy, the first all-girls school in the Fort Worth ISD.
Steve, our cheeky WBAP sports anchor, is definitely Deborah’s biggest fan. His quick wit makes him a favorite with morning listeners, he runs with sports professionals, and he calls himself a “cocky sports guy.” But when it comes to his wife, he pretty much turns to mush. He counts his marriage, which he calls a partnership, as life’s biggest blessing and reward. “Having the privilege to call her my wife is one thing where I hit it out of the park,” Steve says in his blog at
Deborah claims she doesn’t cook, but when it’s go-time for company at their house, she can whip up a fabulous hors d’oeuvres, her Dynamic Duo. The beauty of this simple yet festive treat is not only its addictive deliciousness, but also the fact that opening packages of cream cheese is the trickiest part. Busy working folks can have it rustled up in minutes. “You can use any fig jam or any jam, but my favorite is from In a Pickle Foods, “ she says. Deborah uses two varieties, Orangey Fig and Apple Bourbon Cinnamon.”
With her Dynamic Duo, she also enjoys creating pretty cheese, fruit and bread platters to round out her pretty holiday table.

Deborah’s Dynamic Duo
Yield: 10 – 12 servings
2, 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1, 8-ounce jar each, Orangey Fig and Apple Bourbon Cinnamon jam from In a Pickle Foods
Open cream cheese packages and place cream cheese blocks on serving platter. Top each block with one jar of jam

Neil Sperry
Neil Sperry, our community’s foremost gardening and horticulture expert, teacher, and mentor, lives with his lovely wife, Lynn, on twelve acres of what can only be described as near-paradise. Giant oak trees and natural landscaping lend a resort atmosphere to their cozy compound.
Their sprawling home includes a lovely over-sized living/dining room, a cozy and well-equipped kitchen and a roomy family room with breathtaking views of their lush lawns. This is where Lynn and Neil enjoy their morning coffee together.
Besides hosting a weekly radio program, writing books, and making personal appearances at myriad events, Neil has a special place in his heart for local ministries, and he is especially interested in helping to raise the essential funds they need. Thus, his handcrafted, wood-turned writing pens. He gives all of the proceeds from the sale of these pens to Serenity High, our area’s only public recovery high school.
For Neil and Lynn, there is always time for grandkids. Especially during the holidays. One special treat they love to serve this time of year is Lynn’s Famous Subs. The recipe dates back to college days when Neil and Lynn were dating. A favorite sub shop made sandwiches so special that Lynn and her roommates would order them to be delivered to their dorms at night while doing homework. By hook and crook and asking a lot of questions at the sub shop, Neil and Lynn finally pieced together the recipe. After 47 years of marriage, they still make these special sandwiches, which are a favorite of their children and grandchildren. When school is out and the grandkids are over for a special holiday evening, you will probably find the Sperry clan gathered around a platter of these hot, cheesy, delicious masterpieces. 
Grandson Joseph, four years old and the youngest of seven grandchildren, loves to help his grandpa make a special fruit salad to accompany the subs. You can find this recipe at

Famous Subs

Yield: 6 servings
¼ pound hot capocollo ham, shaved
¼ pound sweet capocollo ham
½ pound Genoa salami, sliced very thin
6 medium slices Provolone cheese
6 submarine rolls, sliced
½ stick butter, melted
Garlic salt to taste
Tomatoes, sliced thin
Sliced jalapeño peppers, to taste
½ head lettuce, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 500º.
2. Layer meat and cheese in rolls. Close sandwich and place on cookie sheet. Baste top of rolls with garlic butter.
3. Bake 5 – 7 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush tops with more garlic butter. Serve with lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers to be added by each guest.