Update: Hmmmm, something is definitely up with the buttons not showing on the left side of the blog. Hopefully that little glitch will be fixed soon!
Sweet and salty is an amazing combination. And white chocolate dipped pretzels? Trader Joe’s was on to something when they started selling those mini coated pretzels by the bag full.
I have always thought that the shape of pretzel rods would make for an excellent party something… and then it occurred to me that they would make deliciously tasting stir sticks to serve with tea or coffee!
Liv and I whipped up a dozen or so before a book club meeting to serve with tea.
One double boiler full of white chocolate chips, a half of a container of silver sugar (found in my pantry but originally from Michaels) and a canister of pretzel rods later and we had a super yummy snack (and probably ate half of the finished stir sticks before the ladies even arrived).
The toughest part was figuring out how to let them cool after being freshly coated in warm chocolate. I tried standing them upright in a cup (but as predicted they dripped downward), and the best solution ended up being a cookie rack sprayed with a non stick cooking spray and lined with wax paper underneath. The pretzel sticks did have little indentations along the bottom after the chocolate had hardened, but it wasn’t terribly noticeable.
These would be great for a shower (cover them in blue or pink sugar/sprinkles), a coffee bar (with swirled milk chocolate on top), packaged as thank you gifts for teachers or friends, or even perhaps made as favors with a little bow for a wedding or party.
We covered a few in rainbow sprinkles just for Liv. I know… not the healthiest snack, but I can think of worse .
Happy, happy weekend!!
PS more good eats recipes sorted right here.
Tags: Baby Shower, Birthday, Bridal Shower, Desserts, DIY, Kids Party, Parties & Entertaining, Recipes, Tutorial, white
Posted in Handmade Gifts, Recipes | 4 Comments »
I thought I’d share a little project with you today that I recently hung up in our kitchen, but that I actually created about six months ago. We lost my Grandma just before our big trip to Europe and it was devestating. She was the local Grandma in my life that I was very close to – the one that taught me to bake, gave me sage advice on finding ‘the one’ (which subsequently confirmed my yes to Kevin) and who picked blackberries with me every summer when we visited Washington together. It was a very heartfelt loss and there were no words to describe it. To add salt to the wound it was in a matter of weeks that we were celebrating the passing of my other special Grandma, whom we had lost the year before.
But, I took what meant most to our relationship and created a piece of art that I thought my family would enjoy.
Grandma and I baked together at every opportunity we had – she was an incredible baker!
We couldn’t attend her funeral because of travel and that was a second blow to my heart. There was nothing to be done regardless of how hard I tried to change flights and so on… so instead of being there in person, I was there in spirit (while in the Ireland countryside, her heritage) and I wanted to leave something for the guests that were present to celebrate her life.
My first thought was to create a memorable piece of Recipe Art for everyone to take home and I was on the hunt to find an Etsy artist to help me out! But because of short notice (as these things often go, funerals that is) no one could fit my short timeline. Sooo, I opened Adobe Illustrator up and created the art myself.
I made about 50 copies for the funeral, packaged them up and sent them to my Dad to leave out for family. And now, finally, one of my prints hangs in our kitchen.
Lemon bars (hence the bright, happy color) is one of the BEST recipes we have from my Grandma, though I’m working on an entire cookie book inspired by Grandma’s delicious creations. She was a baker – a real conossieur of the trade. She taught me everything I know and it runs in my blood because of her. I hope to pass that on to my girls.
About a week prior to her death, I was visiting her home in my hometown of Santa Cruz and I sat down next to her bed with a tablet and began recording. I knew that I didn’t have much time and Grandma was happy to share her secrets (the ones that I had heard before, the ones that I was just learning for the first time) of baking with me. We went through hundreds of recipes together from her shelves and hand written books and boxes of torn out magazine clippings, and picked out about 30 that were her favorites. The legacy she will leave us is the love that she shared, the stories of her inspiring life, and her recipes.
Grandma’s memory lives in the heart of my home now, and she will be with me every time I bake.
Love you, Grandma! I know you are watching over us with the angels now.
PS I shared the actual recipe here when we made lemon bars for Liv’s baptism. Delicious.
PPS If you are an Illustrator wiz, I’d be happy to share the original file with you so that you can edit it with your own favorite recipe. I can’t link it here because it’s not compatible, but feel free to email me at: morgan at pepperdesignblog.com
Tags: Art, Decorating, DIY Art, Kitchen, Paper Crafts, Recipes, Yellow
Posted in DIY, Downloadables, Family & Friends, Our Kitchen Remodel, Recipes, Renovating Adventures | 5 Comments »
PS I have 25+ colorful felt bowties/bows leftover from this party that we have no more use for and that I’m happy to drop in the mail to the first reader who shoots me an email: morgan at pepperdesignblog dot com. Update: reserved!
Sometimes there’s nothing quite like a rich homemade soup to end your day with. I’m such a soup girl, I could eat soup for lunch or dinner every day and be as content as a bee. Love me some soup.
We recently had a box of something like 20lbs of tomatoes left over from an event and as they say there in our kitchen day upon day (getting older and older), I was beginning to fret over perfectly good food that was slowly wasting away. Sure, we poked into the big cardboard box to grab two for a lunch salad or a few to throw in with eggs in the morning, but our meals were not making an impact on the pile.
Picture this box but full to the brim. This is an after-soup shot.
And then the idea of a big stock pot full of homemade tomato soup came to mind. Yum. We could enjoy with grilled cheese during these cloudier days, pass out to friends or freeze a few containers for the future.
Into the pot went five big red onions, near my entire box of tomatoes and a healthy dose of fresh rosemary from the garden.
Homemade Garden Fresh Tomato Soup
Ingredients for ~6 servings: 4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, 1 onion, 1 clove garlic, 1 cup stock (veggie or chicken), 1/2 cup cream, ~1/4 cup butter, ~2 T flour, bit of olive oil, 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, salt and pepper, additional spices to your liking (ideas include: bay leaf, celery root, white pepper, cloves)
I’ll call this soup a ‘garden fresh’ variety because I didn’t use canned or stewed tomatoes like most recipes call for. There’s always that alternative available though.
I used what I had in the kitchen and ended up with enough tomato soup to feed a small army (where are the 7 brothers/brother-in-laws when you need ‘em?), but if I were to break it on down to a more manageable recipe size-wise, it would be the above. Keep in mind I’m a huge fan of ‘a pinch of this’ and a ‘dash of that’ so not all of my measurements are super, super accurate. Plus, soup is one of those grand dishes that you can adjust and change as you go. Have extra celery? Throw it in! Want to use up a can of tomato paste? Why not. Too many potatoes in the veggie bin? Any soup will love potatoes.
First up is sautéing the garlic and onions until they are tender, brown and full of aroma.
The trick I’ve learned with sautéing garlic and onions is to apply in this order: heat up empty stock pot (or sauté pan if you’re using this trick for any everyday dinner recipe) until you can hold your open palm about five inches from surface for just five seconds (and then it becomes to hot to keep hovering), add olive oil (enough to glaze the entire top of the pan just barely) and allow to heat up again (you can follow the five second rule here, too), add onions and allow to brown for a few minutes on their own without stirring, add chopped garlic and give the pan a toss, coating everything in the pan again in olive oil. Now let brown for a few minutes and toss again. Repeat until the room smells just delicious.
Next up for this particular soup is to add the chopped tomatoes, broth, rosemary, salt & pepper, and any other favorite herbs. Allow to stew uncovered for as long as you can (1-2 hours should do the trick, though I let mine simmer all day long. The longer your flavors have a chance to ‘get to know each other’ the better).
I kept the soup uncovered because fresh tomatoes will add a lot of water to your dish. Allowing the steam to evaporate will help to thicken up the soup as it simmers, you might decide to cover up canned and drained tomatoes to keep the water from leaving the pot though depending on how she’s cooking.
I also employ a simple roux trick to assist in creating a decently thick soup too. It goes something like this: add 3 parts ish butter to a sauce pan and let heat up until completely melted, add 1 part ish flour and stir continuously over heat until mixture is completely disintegrated with no lumps (add more or less butter/flour here depending on consistency, you’re going for a smooth chowder look and feel), add milk and turn off heat. Stir to combine.
A roux is simply a thickening agent and a great one to have in your back pocket for any recipe. I prefer flour over corn starch (based on taste) any day and melted butter over water.
Back to our soup. Add roux to simmering soup just as it’s finishing its time on the stove. Additional cream can go into the pot if you’re wanting a slightly creamier texture as well.
Finally, emulsify your soup with an immersion/hand blender or let cool and use your everyday smoothie blender (you’ll have to pour the soup back into the pot and heat it up again if you go this route). I love, love this immersion blender for soups because the lower portion of the hand blender simply pops off and goes into the sink for washing. Christmas present last year and it’s a favorite.
Update: Just saw on Hautelook that they are offering the same Cuisinart hand mixer at 50% off right now!
Done! (Some people love their tomato soup super thin and strained, you could emulsify more than I did below until the consistency is similar to a liquid and then strain out larger herbs.)
For dinner, I served this guy up with an apple, mozzarella and blue cheese grilled sandwich. Chop up some of that sandwich to make ‘grilled cheese croutons’ as an alternative – delicious! If you have an olive oil of excellent quality (perhaps a Christmas gift or something from a little tasting shop that you’re not quite sure what to do with), swirl a bit on top for added flavor.
PS this makes a great base for tomato sauces as an alternative use, it is also really yummy served cold (learned that trick in Spain) and is a good base for veggie or noodle soups if you don’t emulsify (instead add roasted veggies or pasta to your chunky tomato base).
PSS all recipes featured on the blog are linked right here. Happy eating!
Posted in Recipes | 4 Comments »