Monday, December 22, 2014

Have a Merry Bon Bon!

 Need a festive looking candy to add to your
holiday cookie tray?
 
 I first saw this recipe for Grandmama's Bon Bons in the cookbook
Southern Plate by Christy Jordan.
  

This was a recipe her "Grandmama" made and these
bon bons were kept in an empty coffee tin in the frig.

I made these that same year I bought her cookbook
and they were a hit with my family.  I even gave out 
the recipe a time or two and made them a few more times.


The original recipe calls for the bon bons to be dipped in
 the chocolate candy coating called Almond Bark.

This year I gave them a different twist.


These bon bons begin with traditional candy ingredients:
Powdered Sugar, Pecans, Coconut, Butter, and Sweetened Condensed Milk.

It is mixed together with your hands, then rolled into balls.
I made both large balls and small balls.

They are then placed in the fridge to firm up and
then dipped into the melted candy coating. 
they candy coating can be melted in the microwave
but I prefer to melt them on a double boiler over the stove.

  

 Here are the larger balls on their tray, cooled, and ready to be 
dipped into the melted chocolate candy coating.  
They only need to be dipped once.

HOWEVER, I dipped the smaller balls into the
white candy coating and noticed, as they were drying,
that they were "see-through" and needed a second dipping.
Before dipping a second time, I let them chill for a bit
so that when I dipped a second time, it didn't melt off the 
first dipping.  Does this make sense?

   
 As a result, the white dipped bon bons have more candy
coating to bite through before you get to the
coconut deliciousness inside.

I finished both chocolate and white bon bons by melting 
some red candy coating and, using a piping bag with a 
Wilton Size 3 tip, piping a drizzle over top for a more 
festive look.

If you are asking yourself, "Why don't I just color
the white candy coating red?" Experience
tells me its just going to be a glob and a mess.
Actually, the gel and liquid coloring will cause the
candy coating to seize much like melting chocolate
chips in the microwave too long.

The result is a rich, sweet, and delicious bite.

These are great kept in the fridge year-round for a treat
 or great during this time of the year for gift giving - in a tin!


Coconut Pecan Bon Bons
Adapted from Southern Plate

2 pounds powdered sugar
1 2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
2 cups chopped pecans
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 package chocolate almond bark, for coating
1 package white almond bark, for coating
Large handful of red candy coating, for drizzling.

In a large bowl, with your hands or with a large spoon, mix all ingredients except almond barks. (A mixer works too.)  Form dough into balls any size you want.  Place on a sheet pan and cover. Refrigerate for at least one hour to get really cold and firm.

Melt chocolate almond bark over a double boiler. Taking half of the dough balls, dip each dough ball into the melted chocolate and place onto parchment paper to harden.  Place back into the fridge.

Take the remaining dough balls and dip each dough ball into the melted white almond bark and place onto parchment paper. Place back into the frig to get nice and chilled - at least 30 minutes. Take them out and dip them a second time into the melted white almond bark, placing them back onto parchment paper to harden.  Place back into the fridge while you prepare the red almond bark.

Place a large handful of red almond bark into a two-cup glass liquid measuring cup and heat in the microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth and creamy.  Pour into a small clear piping bag fitted with a Wilton size 3 tip. (You can also pour into a small ziploc bag and snip a very small hole at one of the corners.)

Take the dipped dough balls out of the fridge and, using the prepared piping bag with melted red candy coating, drizzle over tops of the dipped dough balls.

Store in refrigerator.

Wishing all of you a Very Merry Christmas!

Fondly,
~Karen



Monday, November 24, 2014

Run for the Brandy Beans!

If you are lucky to have a Trader Joe's near you,
go NOW for their Brandy Beans.


Brandy Beans are brandy filled chocolates
and look like, well, beans!

Sometimes you just need a little something
for somewhere so you don't show up empty handed.

At $3.99, they make a great little hostess gift
or even stocking stuffer for that adult
over the age of 21 years of age.
(They are alcoholic folks!)

Trader Joe's are known to run out of these
so I wouldn't put off getting them if you are going to.

So, GO... RUN... NOW for the Brandy Beans!

Fondly,
~Karen
 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!


Wishing all of you a
Happy Halloween!

Fondly,
~Karen

Whats for Dinner? One Pot Pasta

 What is One Pot Pasta?
Pasta and veggies all in a pot and cooking at the same time.
 A great dish to use leftover veggies with. 

You will want to begin by prepping all your ingredients:
chopping asparagus, slicing mushrooms, slivering garlic cloves,
and pinching off a sprig or two of fresh thyme.  
Shredded Parmesan will be added at the end along with some cream.
Tonight I have decided to serve along side hot and buttery french bread.


This buttery and baked hot bread by The Pioneer Woman which
she calls The Bread is French bread slathered on both sides 
with lots of butter then baked and finished under the broiler 
until dark brown and begins to burn.  That's right, 
she actually says, "... begins to burn." 

Once prepped and ready to go,


add all the veggies along with the dried pasta and water
to a stockpot along with salt and pepper.
 Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, until pasta is cooked
and vegies are tender.  Give the pasta a stir frequently so it does not
stick to itself. The liquid will actually reduce on its own.

 

  Parmesan is stirred in at the end, along with cream,
and Voila! it is done. Serve immediately with
some extra shredded Parmesan on the top
and that delicious hot bread!

Here is the recipe:

One Pot Pasta

1 lb. dried spaghetti
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb. asparagus, cut diagonally in apx. 1" pieces
2 cloves garlic, cut into thin slivers
1 or 2 sprigs of thyme
4 1/2 cups water
Kosher salt and ground pepper, to taste
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream

In a large stockpot, add the dried spaghetti, mushrooms, asparagus, garlic, thyme sprigs, and water.  Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and let cook, uncovered, until pasta is cooked through and liquid has reduced, apx. 20  minutes.  Stir in Parmesan cheese and heavy cream. Serve immediately.

Adapted from recipe by Damn Delicious.

Enjoy!

I will be linking up with





Thanks for visiting!

Fondly,
~Karen

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Autumn But for the Dogs

Autumn decorating this year will be kept to a minimum 
because of these guys.

Just look at these cute little 4 1/2-month-old faces!
These brothers like to chew and play with anything
that half-way tempts them. That means anything
within their reach!  (See the corner of the mat?)

They really are good little boys and they are learning...

What they haven't learned yet is staying out of the
dirty small pond which they were in before the above pic.
They don't get to come inside when they've been in that pond.
They haven't figured that out yet either.

Thanks for visiting.

Tomorrow is the first day of October and
with it brings the official color of Orange.
Are we ready?

Fondly,
~Karen

Beginnings of Autumn

This Autumn, after a 28-hour and three-day drive,
I have relocated myself to Kansas.

Although I have been to Kansas many times,
this will be my first time experiencing a beautiful
changing of the season that I hear so much about.

Driving through the countryside, I am seeing signs
of Summer fading and Autumn approaching.

The hay has been baled and sits drying in fields.

 The fields of sunflowers are fading as their
beautiful faces no longer look to the sun but begin to 
face downward as they turn to seed.

The soybeans are turning yellow as their seed pods
on their tops turn brown.  I think I heard soybeans
are grown in the Midwest for fuel.

Even the corn has turned brown as I peek
through the roadside wildflowers.

What I am truly looking forward to are the leaves
changing on the trees and foliage.
As you can see, on this last day of September,
I am seeing just glimpses of what I am told
will be spectacular and I can't wait!

Thank you for visiting!

Fondly,
~Karen

 
 
 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lemon and Pistachio Cake with White Chocolate Sour Cream Icing


This cake is simple to make and delicious.
 


I recently made it as the dessert for an outdoor dinner.
You can see more of that dinner HERE.


 The cake is made with cake flour and ground pistachios along
with yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest. The icing
 is to die for! As simple as melting a bar of white chocolate 
and combining it (once it has cooled a little bit!) with sour cream.

 I want to give due credit to the source of this recipe 
(at least where I found it) which can be found HERE but
 beware, there are some measurements listed in metric
that can be easily converted by searching on your iPhone.

This is a keeper recipe!

Thank you for stopping by!

I will be joining the following blog party:

Rattlebridge Farm's Foodie Friday

 Fondly,
~Karen

Friday, August 29, 2014

End of Summer Grilled Beef Skewers and Pineapple Salsa

 Here is a recipe that would be great for this Labor Day weekend.
It is made with Five-Spice powder. If you aren't familiar with
Five-Spice, it is used often in Chinese cuisine and consists of,
you guessed it, five spices: Star Anise, Cloves, Chinese Cinnamon,
Black pepper, and Fennel seeds. It can be purchased in the
spice aisle along with all the other spices.

I wanted to marinate beef in a Five-Spice marinade,
then skewer and grill the beef for dinner.  I was at Costco 
looking for flank steak or skirt steak that I could thinly slice 
for the skewers. I didn't have luck finding one of those two 
and had to settle on Flap Steak. 

Flap Steak is a thin cut of meat that comes from a bottom sirloin
butt cut of beef. It differs from Flank Steak because it comes from a more 
rear portion of the beef.  Likewise, Skirt Steak is even more forward then
then Flank Steak.  Flap Steak is sometimes confused with Hanger Steak
but it is not.  Both Hanger Steak and Skirt Steak are cut from the
diaphragm of the beef.  I think Flap Steak gets a bad wrap but I
have to admit it usually isn't my first choice either.
 
BUT as a thin piece of meat, it works beautifully
for skewers. It marinates nicely, and grills quickly.
The finished dish shows how thin the meat is.
I only cut it width-wise for the skewers.

The original five-spice marinade recipe came from 
 Better Homes and Gardens and the recipe I used as
modified can be found on BHG Delish Dish.
On this site, it is served with a yogurt sauce,
but I wanted to go even lighter and chose a pineapple salsa.
 
I, unfortunately, don't recall where this recipe for the pineapple 
salsa originated.  You can use these amounts listed in the recipe
below and at the end, give it a taste and make adjustments to
to your liking. The flavor improves as it sits in the refrigerator. 

This pineapple salsa is delicious and is also great as a side dish
for chicken or just served with tortilla chips (and a margarita!).
It's also great with these Five-Spice beef skewers.

Enjoy!

Pineapple Salsa
Source: Unknown
 
Serves 6

1 fresh pineapple, cored and diced
3 green onions, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantry
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Combine. Cover and chill. 

Please join me as I link up with

Rattlebridge Farm's Foodie Fridays
 
 
Thank you for visiting my blog!

Fondly,
~Karen







Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Bird's Nest Napkin Fold and Dinner!





 Lucky me! 
Continued outdoor dining at my daughter's!
Previously, I enjoyed a lovely dinner on her balcony.
If you missed that post, you can check it out HERE
 

Tonight, dinner was originally for four but dwindled down to two.
That's okay. It happens... and it means more leftovers!




I like to include one or more wow-factors when entertaining
and often a napkin fold does just that.  I found this fun napkin 
fold in the shape of a bird's nest on You Tube HERE demonstrated
 by Denise Vivaldo. She has authored a book named 
"Top 100 step-by-step Napkin Folds." 

I decided to go with a bird theme and thought it coordinated
 well with this Morning Glories tablecloth and matching 
cloth napkins from Target.

My dinner for two began with an easy appetizer.





On a skewer, I added a cube of cantaloupe melon, a small fresh mozzarella
ball, and thinly sliced prosciutto.  I placed two each in margarita glasses,
drizzled each glass with a balsamic reduction sauce and chopped parsley.

The sweet melon goes beautifully with the Italian dry-cured ham
and the mozzarella ball has great texture and adds to the overall flavor.
They are pretty and were very nice to nosh on with a glass of wine.









For the entree, I made an Artichoke Chicken and Spinach Lasagna and served it
Basil Pesto Dressing that was really good.



Instead of a garlic bread traditionally served with lasagna, 
I tested a bread made with pizza dough stuffed with a soft herb
cheese, sprinkled with parmesan and topped with sliced zucchini 
and red onion.  You can find that recipe HERE.


Dessert was a wonderfully simple Lemon and Pistachio 
one-layer cake. Check back and I'll share the recipe with you.

I will be linking up with these following blog parties:

The Tablescaper's Seasonal Sundays
Between Naps on the Porch's Tablescape Thursdays 
Rattlebridge Farm's Foodie Fridays
 
 As always, thanks for visiting me!
 
Fondly,
~Karen







Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Watermelon Slicer - A Favorite Foodie Gadget

How many times have we struggled to cut a watermelon?
It's size makes it clumsy and awkward to cut.

Have you seen one of these? 


Now, believe it or not, I really don't run out and buy the 
latest cooking gadget.  I actually tend to be a traditionalist
and have very few gadgets.  But this got my attention.  
I love using my similar, and much smaller, apple slicer for apples, 
so why not one for watermelons?

It says it slices up to a 25 lb. melon, including other
melons and pineapple.  I was expecting this slicer to be large.
It's size made me laugh when I took it out of the box.
It's HUGE and it works like a charm!



 It's blades are made of stainless steel and it's plastic hand grips make it comfortable
 to press down.  I was VERY pleased to see it includes a much-needed safety cap
for when not in use.  It would be scary to store it without it.


As you can see, its recommended to cut off each side first.  This enables
the melon to sit on the board without rocking on its end and ensures
a safe and even cut.  The blades are sharp, but it does take a little bit of
muscle.  I lightly pound the grips to get it through the largest part.
And, what do you think about that middle piece?
I call that a "Chef's Snack" and I might even fight for that piece 
from the heart of the watermelon.


I am left with 12 uniform slices after mere seconds.
Just think how quickly one can cut-up watermelons for a crowd?

I found my melon slicer on Amazon.com here.

Now I just need to find a place to store it... 

I will be sharing this post on


Thank you for visiting!!

Fondly,
~Karen 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Summer Balcony Dining and Fresh Strawberry Salad


 One of my favorite things to do is to eat outdoors.
On a recent summer evening, I enjoyed a lovely dinner at 
my daughter's on her balcony.  The weather was a beautiful 70-something.
Perfect for outdoor dining with a friend and family.


I made a centerpiece using store-bought flowers, combining 
them with sliced limes inside a square glass vase. You can see
I placed some of the discarded flower stems on the bottom of the
vase to help wedge in the limes (to avoid their tendency to float)
and to act as a floral frog to anchor in the flowers.
 
Our food picture taking was a little scarce, but I did want 
to share with you this delicious Fresh Strawberry Salad.

This fresh baby spinach salad included bleu cheese crumbles, 
thickly-sliced fresh strawberries, sliced red onion, and blanched 
slivered almonds. I dressed it with a White Balsamic Apple Vinaigrette.
I don't use a recipe, but a very similar one is this copy-cat
version of Panera Bread's White Balsamic Fuji Apple Vinaigrette.

 What a relaxing way to spend the evening... outside.

Where do you like to eat during the summer?

Thank you for visiting.

I will be linking up with these talented ladies' linky parties:






Fondly,
~Karen

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Birthday America!

Today, America turns 238!
I feel truly blessed to be an American.  

Wishing everyone an enjoyable Independence Day.
 
Let's wave our flags proudly today and everyday!

Fondly,
~Karen


Monday, June 30, 2014

A Patriotic Red, White and Blue Berry Tart


Why not celebrate Independence Day
with a festive berry tart? 

The original recipe came from here and calls for using
a tube of pre-made sugar cookie dough for the shell and
star cut-outs. Sounds easy, but I can foresee the cookie dough
only expanding and puffing in the oven (even after chilling 
awhile) and the stars not looking like stars once baked.  
So, I opted to use a trusted Pate Sucree 
(fancy French for a sweet crust).  If you
want an easy, good, all around Pate Sucree recipe,
Martha Stewart has a great one here.
I blind baked the crust first and baked the cut-out stars 
on another baking sheet.  I also made the 
filling ahead of time and left it in a bowl in the frig 
until I was ready to finish assembling
the tart before taking the picture and serving it.


The just-out-of-the-frig filling makes this finished tart cool and
refreshing, besides being delicious and patriotic!
Here is my recipe:

Red, White, and Blue Tart
Adapted from Recipe.com

Ingredients:

1 recipe Pate Sucree
Sugar for sprinkling
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 cups mixed fresh red raspberries and fresh strawberry halves

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

For crust and cookies:
On a lightly floured surface roll out pate sucree to about 1/8" and at least 13 1/2".  Using this rolled out pastry, cut one 10 1/2" x 13 1/2" rectangle and fit into an 8" x 11" tart pan with a removable bottom. With lightly floured hands, gently push the pastry up the sides of the tart pan (being careful not to stretch the pastry). Place the rolling pin on the top edge of the tart pan and gently roll, cutting off the pastry flush with the top of the tart pan.  Using a star cookie cutter, use the remaining pastry to cut out stars. Place the stars on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar.  Freeze both the tart and stars for 15 minutes.  Prior to baking, place pie weights (or beans/rice) on top of parchment in the tart pan. Bake until sides look like they are beginning to get golden brown, about 12 minutes. Take off parchment and weights and continue to bake until bottom is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Bake the cookies until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

For filling:
In a mixing bowl, combine condensed milk, sour cream, lemon peel, and juice. Stir about 3 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Cover and chill until ready to assemble tart.

To assemble:
Loosen and remove sides of pan from crust. Transfer crust to a platter, leaving bottom of pan under crust. Before serving, spread filling onto crust. Top with berries and cookies. Cut into squares. Makes 12 servings.

 What are you planning to eat for Independence Day?

Thank you for visiting.

This week I will be joining:
Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday

Fondly,
~Karen

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