Sunday, December 11, 2011

dead-beat blogger

Yup. That's me. I'm a dead-beat. Never mind that I have two beautiful, smart, funny little girls that keep me on my toes most of the time. Well, in my "spare" time I like to grocery shop, do laundry, clean spills, and if I'm really lucky, go to Target. This blog thing? It's just extravagant.

So, in the theme of extravagance, I'm going to post some things that are true indulgences for me. Decorating for Christmas is one of them.

Here's our mantle all ready for Santa's stop in a few days. My sister-in-law determined that we would make these Pinterest-Craft-Stockings over Thanksgiving. I think that means I get to choose our Christmas break craft, right? Hmmmm....

Saturday, October 1, 2011

sneak peek

Here's a quick glimpse into a little something I'm working on for tomorrow. OK. The work is done, I'm just waiting for party time tomorrow. I promise there will be more pictures and details.
Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

trying new things

Hello, friends! I've been away for a while, but I've been busy. I wanted to share some photos from an event last night, including some new favorites! Enjoy...

Phyllo Wrapped Asparagus - A crowd favorite!
Twice Baked Baby New Potatoes - Little toasty potato pillows. Yumm....

Beef tenderloin sandwiches - Herb roasted tenderloin with greens and French baguette.

Espresso Panna Cotta - A sweet, creamy, Italian espresso dessert with white and dark chocolate curls.

Up close and personal. You can almost taste it...

Lemon Drop Cake - Lemon sponge cake with lemon buttercream and lemon curd filling, decorated with candied lemon peel.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

how hot is it? and sweet jalapeno cream cheese dip

It is so hot here in St. Louis, I wanted to write a little bit about more hot things...peppers!

Peppers can conjure up wonderful culinary rememberances of sweet and smoky cuisine, or it can terrorize your palate with flashbacks of runny noses, tears and an empty water glass and a waiter-in-hiding. How is it that so many things with the same name, can have such a range of flavors?

All peppers are members of the capsicum family. The amount of capsaicin in a pepper correlates with the amount of perceived hotness. A man named Wilbur Scoville developped a quantitative scale for ranking the capsaicinoid content in each pepper type. Here is the Wikipedia article regarding the Scoville scale.

Here are some common peppers, and their relative Scoville scores.

Bell peppers: 0
Pepperocinis: 100-500
Anaheim or Poblano: 500-2,500
Jalapeno and Tabasco sauce: 2,500-8,000
Serrano: 10,000-23,000
Cayenne: 30,000-50,000
Pequin: 50,000-100,000
Habanero or Scotch Bonnet: 100,000-350,000
Law Enforcement Grade Pepper Spray: 5,000,000-5,300,000 ;)

Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip - Make at least 1 week ahead.

And now for a recipe that you're sure to love. You'll need just a few things:

Jar of jalapeno slices
Brick of cream cheese
Corn chips (think Fritos, or some other kind of cracker)

Don't knock yourself out shopping for those things. You may have some of them at home already!

  • Drain the jalapenos. (If you took them out to drain, put them back in the jar.)
  • Fill the jalapeno jar with sugar. Replace the lid tightly.
  • Let the sugar liquidize. (I know there must be a technically correct term for this, but I am unaware!)
  • Fill again with sugar in a couple of hours.
  • Keep repeating this filling process until there is no more room at the top of the jar.
  • Put this in the back of your fridge for at least a week. Yes, I said a WEEK - 7 days, unless you are a British Invasion-type...then it's 8 days.
  • Place a brick of cream cheese on a plate, and pour the contents of the jalapeno/sugar jar over it.
  • Enjoy with your corn chips or crackers.
  • Mmmmmm.....

Friday, July 22, 2011

peach bombs

If you like peaches, you will not be sorry for trying this recipe. It's the time of summer when the local growers have peaches ready for us to use. So here you go...

Get 4 yummy peaches and wash them. Pat them dry.

Quarter a pre-made pie crust, and wrap each peach in one piece of the pie crust. Make sure you cover all the peach, and press the seams together.

Place the peaches into a baking pan (with sides...just in case).

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make a scrumptious little sauce to go with the peaches.

In a small mixing bowl, beat one egg until smooth.

In a small saucepan, melt one stick of butter.

Add 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar to the melted butter.

Then add 1 TBSP Almond extract and the beaten egg.

Cook until smooth, stirring constantly. Set aside.

Serve peach bomb with sauce and (optional) vanilla ice cream.

What a delicious summer treat!

I will make these soon and take pictures to add to this post!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

strawberry semifreddo

Last week on the Today Show, I saw Donatella make a wonderfully inviting summer dessert in less than a minute. You know how everything is at warp speed when people cook on TV? Wouldn't it be fantastic if we could all have someone to wash, stem and quarter all of our strawberries?!?

Well, I do not have a sous chef (unless you count children who want to eat strawberries as you are chopping them), but this recipe took only slightly longer than the minute on TV. Maybe 15. Pretty quick.  Here's the recipe from the "Donatella Cooks" segment of the Today Show.

  • 4 cups of strawberries, hulled, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Tuaca or Grand Marnier (optional)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Fresh mint, cut in thin strips, for garnish (optional)
Line an 8" or 9" x 5" x 3" loaf pan, if using, with plastic wrap and set aside.
Combine the strawberries, sugar, and Tuaca (a golden liqueur made in Tuscany. It infuses the semifreddo with the subtle flavors of orange and vanilla) in the bowl of a food processor and puree. Reserve 1 cup. Pour the remaining puree into a large bowl. Whip the cream in another bowl using an electric mixer until soft peaks form when you lift the beaters out of the bowl. Fold the cream into the puree using a rubber spatula, working from the bottom of the bowl, until there are no signs of cream. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.
Invert the semidreddo onto a serving plate. Remove the plastic wrap and, when slightly softened, smooth the top with a knife.
Cut into ¾ - 1" thick slices and garnish with the strawberries, mint, and some of the reserved puree drizzled on top.

The end result is a lot like a light strawberry ice cream. Only better! Let me know if you try it, and what you think.

and the winner is...(part 2)

The winner of the fabulous Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorator is....



Tuesday, July 12, 2011


It's too darn hot! My car thermometer read 102* this afternoon. To think that not too many generations ago, air conditioning was unheard of...I can't even imagine.

Because I am just not a fan of uber hot weather, and will NOT be turning my oven or stove on for the foreseeable future, I thought something fun and lighthearted was in order.

I am giving away a new Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorator. To enter,leave a comment about your favorite part of summer.
Here's mine...

My favorite part of summer would have to be swimming or fireworks.

Easy, right?

Click to leave your comments before Thursday (7/14) at 11:59PM, and you are entered to win!

Good luck!

Monday, July 11, 2011

in my daughter's eyes

My 4 1/2 year old was recently 'interviewed' at her pre-school as part of a Mother's Day project. The teacher, Miss Patty, recorded the children talking about their moms, and wrote a little report for each. Here is what my daughter said:
My Mommy is Special
She has dark brown hair and green eyes.
Her favorite foods are bananas and spiced stuff.
I don't know her favorite color. I think it's dark pink.
When I am at school, my mommy makes parties because she likes parties and I do too.
My mommy is prettiest when she is at the party. She probably will wear a dress. She's pretty when she wears dresses.
And here is the portrait my daughter created of me.
Yup...that's me all right. Yellow mullet, green googly eyes (sporting make up, no less), 5 very pointy fingers,
lipstick, a black dress and a pair of .... hmmm...hips?
Sotheby's might not have any interest in selling this artwork, but that's OK. They can't have it.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

garden tablescape


Today we threw a little party for a little girl, and to celebrate God's goodness. We had a family luncheon and I decorated with a garden theme. Here are a few pictures from this afternoon.
please feed the birds!

We love you!

Friday, July 8, 2011

pink lemonade dressing...follow up

So, I made the pink lemonade dressing a few weeks ago. It was yummy! Very tart, but yummy. I will be making it again soon, and I'll have a photo to share...I promise.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

my kitchen friend

It would never take many tinkering sounds from the kitchen before I would be joined by my faithful companion, my first baby, my furry girl, Pocahontas.
She always had a knack for knowing when I would be dealing with food or clean up, which meant treats for her. She would position herself in such a way that I would have to step over her about 6 times every minute. This equated to about 6 treats a minute. I teased and called her my 'speedbump'. I think this was so I wouldn't forget to give her tastes of my projects. She would even stick her head in the dishwasher to make sure there were no tastes of yumminess left on the dishes before the wash cycle started.
Pokey was kind of spoiled. OK...she was very spoiled. We treated her like a person. We took her on our family vacations, took her in the car when we went for ice cream in the summer, and bought peanut butter and carob cakes from the doggie bakery for her birthdays.
She just celebrated her 10th birthday and last week, she went to doggie heaven. We will miss her dearly. Working in the kitchen without my helper is just not the same.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

latest pictures

I have learned to always take my camera with me when I'm catering. Now, whether or not I snap any usable photos is completely up in the air. Here are some of the latest...

Raspberry Brie Tartlets

Chicken Salad on Cucumbers

Thursday, June 16, 2011

oh honey...

Last night I had some really good chocolate. Really. Good. Chocolate. The kind that makes me want to go all choco-snob with an accent from here on out.

A dear friend and I happened upon a quaint chocolatier shop during an errand running outing. We chatted up the cashier while making a purchase, and was informed that the shop had chocolate tasting parties in the evenings. Dear Friend decided she should have a chocolate tasting party in honor of her upcoming birthday. I happily attended!

Brian Pelletier, owner and chief chocolatier (sounds like a character from a Dumas novel, right?) at Kakao, was our culinary tour guide for the evening. He offered a brief overview of the origins of the art of chocolate making, and then he became my BFF. (For at least 2 hours.) He told us about how his shop takes all the calories and fat out of chocolate each Wednesday evening. And then he gave us chocolate. mmmmm.... It was not the sold-in-gas-stations-chocolate-shaped-and-lacking-flavor-type of chocolate. It was the kind of chocolate that you wanted to let melt in your mouth and then swirl around before it was gone. The kind that invites your tongue to the dance floor. We tasted cacao nibs. Think the flavor of cocoa powder, but crunchy. This will be appearing on a dessert at home very soon! This is full of antioxidants and other wonderful things for you.

We tried lavender truffles. They steep dried lavender in cream to make the insides, dip them in chocolate and oh-so-carefully, place a lavender bud on the top.

Then we tried a dark chocolate truffle with a candied lemon peel on top. Mmmmm....

...and pate de fruits. (Think the adult version of orange slices from your childhood.) And this brittle was certainly the confection with the most personality of the evening...Pecan Chipotle Brittle (a.k.a. Cowboy Brittle). It was sweet and crisp, but had a git-along-little-doggie sunset of spice at the end of each bite.

But these...these were my favorites. Sea salt caramels. If you like sweet and salty together...stop the bus. (Even if you don't, you have to at least try it sometime.) Creamy, salty, chocolatey. Did I mention creamy?

Come to mama! I purchased a package of 4 of these caramels. I shared one with my dear hubby. The other 3...let's just say they didn't make it even 12 hours at home.

I'm sure Brian and his staff would love to have you come and try some of these confections in person, or he would want you to know that he ships just about anywhere! Promise me one thing, though, if you go...bring something back for me!

Oh yes, I almost forgot to share the best news of all...since chocolate grows on trees, it would fall into the fruits/vegetables make sure you get 4 to 5 servings every day! ;)

pardon the dust

Friends, Thanks for your patience as I clean up the look of the blog site. It's made quite a bit of a digital mess, but I hope the end product will be 'easy on the eyes'!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

pink lemonade dressing...i've gotta try it!

By now you should know that I'm a pink-aholic. Well...I came across a recipe in the latest Everybody Cooks issue (from our local Dierbergs grocery store), that I absolutely must try.

Pink Lemonade Dressing

I'll give the recipe here, and after we test it out, give a review. you go:

1/4 c frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/4 c raspberry vinegar
1 T sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c olive oil

Whisk together all ingredients except oil. While whisking vigorously, add oil in a slow, steady stream until well blended. Makes about 3/4 cup.

I can't wait to try this! We will be making a trip to the grocery store tomorrow, and the ingredients are on my list!!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

a favorite of mine

I have a favorite cook book. It is my 'go-to' for recipes and inspiration. In an era where websites offer VERY helpful reviews on recipes, it's hard to go on your own to try a paper-based recipe. Here's a cook book, full of recipes I LOVE. I have tried many of the recipes in this cookbook, and have yet to be disappointed. So, in case that recommendation was not strong enough, I'll say it another way. If you get to buy one cookbook this year...BUY SASSAFRAS!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hors d'oeuvres, Dim sum, Tapas or Appetizers

Whatever you choose to call them, everyone loves a little bite...sweet or savory...for munching. The French and Italians call it like it is.
Hors d'oeuvre - apart from the main work.
Antipasto - before the meal.
Perhaps the purpose of these pre-meal morsels is to sustain guests between their arrival and being seated at the dining table. However, they are occasionally served in place of a meal, and can be served at a table or passed 'butler style'. (I don't know about you, but I think butler style hors d'oeuvres sound fancy!)
Suggested amounts per person vary between 6 and 12 (and some even up to 20, if replacing dinner) bites each hour. It's fun to offer guests a variety of tastes and textures in your appetizer selections.
Here is a menu for an appetizer reception I prepared last weekend, served in place of lunch.

  • Bacon Chicken Brochettes

  • Corn and Black Bean Salsa Cups

  • Cornmeal Blinis with Mascarpone and Strawberries

  • Crudite Shooters

  • Garlic Hummus on Cucumber

  • Pesto Turkey Sandwiches

  • Romeo and Juliets (Guava Pate and Manchego Cheese)

  • English Toffee

  • Orange Glazed Pecans

  • Swedish Raspberry Shortbread

I know you'd love to see some pictures of the service table for this event. The truth is, so would I. I had my camera, but I didn't have a spare minute to snap photos. Maybe sometime I'll have a staff photographer. ;)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

a different kind of shopping list

There's a joke Midwesterners tell each other about the weather...Don't like it? Stick around for a day or two, and it will change.

The weather this week in Missouri has been no joke. My heart and prayers go to the people who have lost and are suffering from the recent tornadoes.

Since childhood, I have been a secret admirer of storms. They're big and powerful, and remind us of how little and powerless we are. Maybe I liked storms because I'd go outside on the porch with my Dad to watch them. At one point, I wanted to be a meteorologist. I made a tornado safety public service announcement with a local newscaster through a shadow program at school.

The forecast this week has been stormy....and more of the same for next week. Thinking about the forecast and trying to be prepared, I made a list and packed of some things in an 'Emergency Bucket' for our basement...and I'd like to ask you to do the same.

Emergency Bucket Contents:
bottled water
flashlight (and extra batteries)
first aid kit (with plain band-aids, even though big sister tried to convince me we needed Tinkerbell bandages!)
work gloves

I'm sure there are obvious things I have forgotten (please let me know), but it's a start.

I have a really good reason, you see...

I know I haven't been really good about posting here recently. Ok...I've been downright lousy! But, you see, I have a really good excuse! This little gal has had me on my toes...
(photo by Terri Stoff @ Life Reflections Photographic Art)
I'll try to do better in the next few weeks, and maybe post here or there!