Monday, November 30, 2009

holiday treat plates

Need a plate of sweet treats for hostess gifts or entertaining drop-in guests? Allow me to hand-make and beautifully wrap your selection of goodies. Call or email me to place your order by December 18.

petite plate of one dozen treats ~ $25
popular plate of two dozen treats ~ $45
plentiful plate of three dozen treats ~ $60


  • Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Chewy Double Chocolate Chip Cookies (Chocolate Cookie with Chocolate Chips)
  • Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
  • Dark Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies
  • Chewy Lemon Drop Cookies

Brownies and Bars:

  • Ree's Espresso Layer Brownies
  • Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Brownies
  • Gooey Butter Cake Bars
  • Double Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake Bars
  • Really Big Rice Krispy Treats

Gourmet Pretzel Treats:

  • Dark Chocolate and Peppermint Dipped Pretzels
  • Peanut Butter Dipped Pretzels
  • Peanut Butter Pretzel Pillows Drizzled with Dark and White Chocolates

Monday, November 23, 2009

julie and julia

This weekend, a friend asked if I had anything chocolate back at my house. 'No...but there's a chocolate cake I've been wanting to make.' And off we went to make Pioneer Woman's Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever. I always thought it was called 'Texas Sheet Cake,' but I guess a rancher from Oklahoma would probably rather I didn't.

I promise not to make this a Julie and Julia blog site, but if you're in the mood for a chocolate sheet cake, try it. It's yummy!
Lucky for you, PW takes lots of pictures.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

toffee apple dip

We are getting to the time of year when it's common to be asked to bring something. Here's one of my favorite 'bring-able' treats.Allow 8oz. cream cheese to soften. Then place in a bowl and stir. (If you want to use lower fat or no fat cream cheese you can, but you may have some lumps.) Add 1/2 cup packed brown sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Stir again. Add 1 teaspoon (or more!) of the best vanilla you can put your hands on. Stir again. Now the pièce de résistance...
Unless, for some strange reason, you don't like chocolate, make sure you get a package that looks like this one. Heath makes a product very similar to these Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits, but is without the chocolate. (I know, why bother at all, right?!?) Make sure your package is labeled 'Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits'...or it won't have the chocolate.
Now, open the bag and dump the WHOLE thing into your bowl. (The one with the sugars, vanilla and cream cheese already in it.) I say whole thing so that you are not tempted to try the toffee bits by themselves. (wink, wink) Stir again, and voilà is your toffee apple dip.

Serve with sliced apples or pretzel sticks, and you will be the hit of the party!
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 package Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits

Stir ingredients one at a time, until all are combined. Chill before serving.

Friday, November 20, 2009

garlic and bananas

I love to use fresh ingredients. Produce that does not require refrigeration gets put on a certain platter in my kitchen. Today, what I have on my platter is garlic and bananas. That can only mean one thing for dinner...

We're going out!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

pioneer woman

Any of you follow Ree Drummond, also known as the Pioneer Woman? My interest in this lady began a few months ago when I started chronicling my adventures in the catering kitchen. I wanted some tips on taking good photographs of food. Take a look at her cooking section. Each entry is filled with beautiful photos...demonstrating the different steps in each recipe.

Anywho...between my husband and myself, we became intrigued by her stories and tutorials, and found out that she would be visiting our fair city. So we made plans to attend her book signing and purchase her new cook book. Apparently, so did several hundred other people. And although it's always good to add to the fun quotient, we probably should have found alternate care for our toddler-daughter. The line for getting your book signed was not going to be any shorter than one hour, and the evening was already getting late for us.

Well, one of Ree's sons was roaming the rows of seating, offering to write his name near one of his photos in the book. Since it was a book signing, I asked if he would sign my book... ...and that's the only name that got signed in my book tonight. But that is OK.

Friday, November 13, 2009

try something new

Last evening our family tried a new restaurant, Oishi, in Chesterfield. I say new because it is new to it turns out, it has been there for several years. I wanted to order the vegetarian hibachi meal, but I hesitated because it included tofu. So I thought I'd order it, and say something silly like, 'hold the tofu, please'. Then I realized my almost-three-year-old daughter was watching...imagining what she might order following my lead: 'chicken nuggets, please'. (EEEEK! In her defense, we had to pass by Chick-Fil-A to get to this new restaurant, and the place is so well lit that every toddler notices and tells their parents, 'I want to go THERE!') So, I decided against making my order complicated, and just ordered the vegetarian meal. The hibachi chef came to our table and cooked our meal, tossing knives, eggs, chicken pieces and spice containers into the air. It was quite entertaining. But then I tasted my tofu. It was so yummy, I made my husband eat a piece of it. I'm so glad I tried it! Maybe next time I'll really go out on a limb and try sushi. (Maybe.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

how to chop an onion

First, take off any papery or blemished outer layers, so you're left with a pearly outer layer.

Then, cut off the non-stem/root end. (Cut off the end toward the right in the picture above.)
Next, you will want to bisect the onion from end to tip, through the root section. The onion will lay nicely on your cutting board because you've made a flat bottom for it in the previous cut.Take one of the halves and slice almost all the way from root to tip again, this time making radiating cuts out from the center. Another view.Finally, rotate the onion half 90 degrees, and make small vertical slices from the tip toward the root. Stop slicing when you are somewhat near the root end, and you don't have much for your fingers to grasp. Please use caution as you are chopping, so as not to injure yourself with the knife.
As you can see, you have a beautiful finely chopped onion. If you want to be technically correct about terminology, what you see pictured above is a minced onion. A diced onion would be more medium sized cuts, and chopped onions are the largest cut at about 1/4" chunks.

Some believe that keeping the root end of the onion mostly intact will reduce the amount of irritation to the eyes. Others say you must wear goggles. Others chew spearmint gum while chopping. Some chop their onions under running water. Other ideas: use a fan to blow the irritants away from the cutter, use a very sharp knife blade, chill onions before cutting, get some other guy to do it. Really, some people try to pawn it off on some other poor soul. Try each method, and see what works best for you.

Here are a few interesting tid-bits of onion trivia.

By the way, my model onion above was used to make black bean enchiladas tonight, somewhat as described here. ¡Buen provecho!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

waiting in line at the spice store

Yes, you read that right. I had to wait in line at the spice store. Fortunately for me and my toddler-daughter, they were prepared for us with a coloring station for little ones. Meanwhile, I was free to roam the displays of herbs, spices and salts...and to smell all of the different vanillas. My purpose for going into the store was to purchase vanilla. But which one to choose: regular, Mexican, or double strength Mexican? hmmm.... Or do I get the vanilla bean sugar? Or just a bottle of vanilla bean? Well, since my most pressing baking project was chocolate chip cookies, I settled on the single strength Mexican vanilla. So I took my selection to the rear of the store to pay, and to my surprise discovered no less than eight other customers waiting to do likewise...on a sunny Friday afternoon in early November. But then again, it was Penzeys, and soooooo worth the wait!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

wednesday family night out dinners - winter 09/10

As always, please call or email Ellen ( by the end of the business day on Monday to make your reservation for Wednesday evenings.

December 2 - Breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs, biscuits, gravy, fruit salad
December 9 - Pizza, salad, dessert
December 16 - Christmas chicken casserole, market vegetable, salad, dessert
December 23 - No meal due to Christmas break.
December 30 - No meal due to Christmas break.
January 6 - Homemade pot pies, salad, dessert
January 13 - Baked potato and salad bar, dessert
January 20 - Pot roast, mashed potatoes, market vegetable, dessert
January 27 - Pasta primavera, garlic bread, salad, dessert
February 3 - Chicken and cheese enchiladas, beans, rice, dessert
February 10 - Baked rosemary chicken, au gratin potatoes, market vegetable, dessert
February 17 - Fettucine Alfredo, steamed broccoli, garlic bread, salad, dessert
February 24 - Orange chicken, vegetable fried rice, egg rolls, dessert