Cinnamon sugar apple stuffed pancake bites

Cinnamon-sugar apple stuffed pancake bites. The Entertaining House.

Cinnamon-sugar apple stuffed pancake bites. The Entertaining House.

These fun treats are so easy to make although a bit time consuming. They're created using a simple pancake batter in a pan known as an ebelskiver pan.  (An ebelskiver is a Danish spherical treat, essentially a stuffed pancake.) The special pan has these special circular grooves in which the batter goes, then rises to form these round shaped treats. The treats can be filled with jam, fruit, even chocolate and served with syrup or a caramel sauce, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. In Denmark they are desserts. Here we tend to eat them as a traditional pancake with syrup. We decided to roll them in some melted butter and cinnamon sugar to make them donut-like. These treats are popular around the holidays and since the holidays are just around the corner we thought we'd enjoy them now, taking advantage of our fresh picked apples.
 

INGREDIENTS: for the batter

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, optional
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups milk
  • 2 tbs cooking oil
  • Cooking spray

for the topping

  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • 2 tbs ground cinnamon
  • 6 tbs sugar

for the apples

  • 3 medium apples, chopped, peeled
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1 tbs brown sugar
    2 tbs butter

PREPARATION
 

  1. In a small saucepan melt the butter, sugar and cinnamon over low heat. Add the apple pieces and coat well. Set aside.
  2. Heat ebelskiver pan over medium heat.
  3. In a bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Beat eggs into 1 1/2 cups milk. Gently stir this mixture into dry ingredients, mixing only enough to moisten flour. If batter seems thick, add a some more milk.
  4. Grease the ebelskiver pan with butter or a non-stick cooking spray. Using a spoon fill each well with about 1/3 to the top with the batter and a few pieces of the apple mixture. (a little goes a long way) so that the batter rises to about 3/4 to the top. As with regular flat pancakes, the batter will bubble and when this happens flip them over gingerly using two small spoons to cradle them. Cook for a minute or so more and remove them from the pan. I like to place them in the oven (set to 200) to keep them warm.  Repeat until all the batter has been used.
  5. Wipe out the saucepan with a paper towel.  Melt 1/4 stick of butter on low heat.
  6. In a shallow bowl add your 2 tbs ground cinnamon + 6 tbs sugar. Mix well.
  7. When the butter has melted remove the pancakes from the oven and, one at a time, roll them lightly in the melted butter, then in the sugar mixture - cover well. place them back on the warm plate. Repeat until done. Serve immediately!

 

The Most Essential Items for your cool weather pantry

The most essential items for your cool weather pantry. The Entertaining House. Image via BHG

The most essential items for your cool weather pantry. The Entertaining House. Image via BHG

As soon as the temperatures dip our bodies and minds yearn for food that is both warm and soul-nurturing. We reach for and crave hearty meals like soups, stews and roasts. When the weather cools we tend to want to ditch the salads and cool fresh fruit, seeking solace instead in foods richer in calories, textures and flavors. Ovens turn on and stove-tops simmer... our homes begin to take on the wonderful aromas of freshly baked pies and cookies, roasting hens and hams, aromatic savory spices and sweet flavors of cinnamon, maple and vanilla. These are the wonderful smells of fall and the fast approaching holiday season. These aromas welcome us home and embrace us with their warmth, making us never want to leave the nest. The next time the rains beat down, heavy, angry, cold or the winds hurl themselves at your window panes and you'd prefer not to go anywhere you'll have everything you'll need to enjoy the warmth within your home and ever leave! 

What every Fall Pantry needs. The Entertaining House. Image via Babble

What every Fall Pantry needs. The Entertaining House. Image via Babble

A Well stocked Pantry

Basic soup stocks: Beef, vegetable, chicken
Oatmeal for hot cereal, apple crisp and other warm treat
Canned tomatoes, whole and chopped, and tomato Sauce for homemade pasta sauces and soup bases. 
Really good quality pasta sauces, like Rao's, for those days you don't want to cook.
Flour, Sugar, Baking powder and baking soda, for baking
Cocoa powder
Chocolate chips and vanilla extract for Chocolate chip cookie cravings
Beans, assorted, for soups, chilis and those Mexican cravings
Pasta, assorted varieties
Rice, brown is healthier!
Couscous and quinoa
Re-stock up on your olive oils, baking oils (Canola and or corn) and vinegars
Jiffy or other non-microwaveable popcorn for movie nights!
Assorted nuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts
Crackers, plain and flavored for impromptu get togethers with friends
Dried fruit such as apricots, raisins, cranberries, dates for snacking on and baking
Peanut and assorted nut butters
Soy, Worcestershire, Sriracha
and assorted sauces and liquid seasonings
Potatoes, garlic and onions - though some keep these in the fridge
Assorted mustards, Dijon, whole grain, honey
Jarred sun-dried tomatoes
Jarred pesto
Mayonnaise
Honey
Red wine, white wine, sparkling wine... for cooking, of course! 



A well stocked spice cabinet:

Ground cinnamon
Allspice
Nutmeg
Cinnamon sticks
Star anise
Assorted salts, sea, himalayan and flavored
Pepper, fine and coarse
Red pepper flakes
Chile powder
Cumin
Oregano
Herbes de Provence
Italian Seasonings
Basil
Curry powder, red and yellow
Paprika
Bay leaves

A Well stocked fridge:

Milk
Cream, for cooking
Eggs
Butter
Assorted cheeses, for cooking and for last minute guests
Parmesan cheese, grated
Hummus
Assorted salamis
Assorted jams
Maple syrup
Bacon
Greek yogurt (for sauces, dips and in lieu of sour cream)
Flour tortilla shells
Lettuce
Soup vegetables such as:
Carrots
Parsnips
Radishes
Apples
Oranges/grapefruits
Lemons
Limes
Olives
Cornichons
Capers

A well stocked freezer:

Ice cream (Do you really need to question this?)
Good bread (such as French or Italian)
Sausages
Homemade soup stocks
Frozen berries
Frozen bananas
Frozen veggies
Chicken breasts
Ground beef
Chicken, ham, pork, etc bones for making homemade stocks




 



 

Warm up the season with Mulled Wine :: Winter's Sangria (3 recipes)

Image via Flourishing Foodie

Image via Flourishing Foodie

Mulled wine might be the cool weather equivalent of the sangria. Mulled wine traces its early origins to the early days of Egypt, then to Greece where the drink was named Hypocrace after the great Greek doctor, Hippocrates. It has many names and as many variations as Sangria. While popular through all of Europe (Glogg, Gluhwein) Mulled Wine does seem be a quintessentially British winter beverage and enjoys a level of sophistication over other warm beverages.  

I had my first mulled wine when I was 13. Yes, 13! I had gone to visit my grandparents in their beautiful new Oxfordshire home for Christmas one year. I didn't particularly want to be there. I had never been away from home for the holidays, and here I was in some foreign land. More than anything I think I was upset that my grandparents had left the South of France which had served as my summertime home for my whole life until that point. I missed everything about it. I had never spent Christmas in France. I wondered why. Because their new home was being renovated my parents and I stayed at a neighbor's, Lady Something or Other, who was out of town on holiday. Her small thatch-roofed home was dark, creaky and dreadfully cold. I remember never quite getting warm that trip - clearly my British blood had thinned as generations passed. My grandmother, though still living in their Kensington flat, decided to have a Christmas party in their Oxfordshire home and chose to have it the night the carolers were singing in town. She was a wonderful hostess and always had the grandest of parties.

When I was a young child I looked forward to the day I could join all the grownups at one of the after hours (past my bedtime) events. At 13 that time had come and although the party was in England and not in France, I was still happy to be included among the adults. Among the beverages, the champagne, wine, gin & tonics and vodka there was mulled wine. I had never had any before. Growing up in a household with European traditions, alcohol was never forbidden. I had small sips of wine with dinner, always Champagne at New Years, and the odd Rum and Coke when I was off with my friends - times have changed since then.

Among the guests was a cousin of the boys (there were 7 of them!) who lived in the renovated barn that was part of the old manor house property. A beautiful fair-skinned, blue eyed boy with dark blonde hair. He wore a tweed jacket and a tie. At 16 he was much older than I was (and I was an awkward 13 year old) and remember feeling, just then, very young in my tartan drop-waisted dress from Miss Selfridge. But this boy, whose name was Blaze, seemed to enjoy my company and while we were chatting in the corner near the fireplace he asked me if I might like some mulled wine. I said sure.

He returned with two glass mugs that smelled divine and felt incredible in my cold hands. I took a sip and the sweet, citrusy, warm and somewhat spicy beverage immediately warmed me to the core. It was delicious. And I'm sure it was especially good because the boy in tweed gave it to me. I've had a fondness for it ever since and now, over 30 years later I'm reminded of that cold English Christmas and the 16 year old boy.

Mulled wine is traditionally enjoyed during the time of year between Halloween and New Year's. It is indeed very festive. While recipes vary - some call for brandy, others for orange juice - they all call for orange zest, mulling spices and a bit of sugar. I have a couple of recipes below.

Mulled Wine, from Williams-Sonoma

Ingredients:

  • 12 whole cloves
  • 2 nutmegs, cracked into pieces with a hammer
  • 2 bottles (each 750ml) dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Stripped zest from 2 oranges and 2 lemons, plus more zest for garnish
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

     

Directions:

Tie the cloves and nutmeg pieces in a small square of cheesecloth, or put them in a large metal tea ball. 

In a large nonaluminum pot, combine the wine, sugar, orange and lemon zests, orange and lemon juices, and cinnamon sticks. Add the clove-and-nutmeg bundle. Heat over medium-low heat until steam begins to rise from the pot and the mixture is hot, about 10 minutes; do not let it boil. Remove the clove-and-nutmeg bundle. Keep the wine warm over very low heat until ready to serve. 

Ladle the wine into cups or heatproof glasses, garnish with the citrus zest and serve warm. Serves 8 to 10.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Christmas Entertaining, by Georgeanne Brennan (Simon & Schuster, 2005).


Mulled Wine, Recipe from Martha Stewart

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large orange
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 6 whole clove
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick, plus 4 for garnish (optional)
  • 1 bottle (3 cups) fruity red wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brandy

DIRECTIONS

  • With a fine grater, zest, then juice the orange.

  • With the flat side of a knife, press firmly on the cardamom pods to bruise them. In a large pot (not aluminum), combine zest, juice, cardamom, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, cinnamon, wine, sugar, and brandy. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves, 1 to 2 minutes.

  • Reduce heat to low; simmer until flavors have melded, about 30 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve; garnish with cinnamon stick, if desired. Serve immediately.

Mulled Wine, Recipe from Ina Garten

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 star anise
  • 4 oranges, peeled, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs, add an orange peel to each and serve.

2007, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved

Image via HGTV

Image via HGTV

I love this Mulled Wine kit - such a lovely hostess gift idea during the holidays. For instructions visit HGTV here. 

Apple Cider Pumpkin Bread with dried cranberries

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This seasonal treat is wonderfully light and flavorful. Enjoy it for a late morning breakfast or afternoon snack. Make several batches and freeze them. Make several batches and give them away - holiday teacher gifts or hostess gifts. You'll be adored. You'll be loved!  

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients:
3 cups of sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
16 ounces canned, unsweetened pumpkin
3 1/2 cups of flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

1 tbs pumpkin pie spice  
2/3 cup apple cider
1 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease 2 9x5 loaf pans
In the bowl of an electric mixer add the eggs and the sugar and mix well. Add the vanilla, baking soda, baking powder and spices and mix well. Add the pumpkin, cider and the flour, one cup at a a time and mix well. Fold in the cranberries. Divide the mixture into equal parts and pour into the two loaf pans. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the center of a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes prior to serving.
 

Sausages & Brussels Sprouts in Balsamic Vinegar (Bow ties optional.)

Sausages and Brussels Sprouts in Balsamic Vinegar. Image via The Entertaining House

Sausages and Brussels Sprouts in Balsamic Vinegar. Image via The Entertaining House

Most of my recipes are created out of cravings. I want something good that my children will eat, that's relatively easy to make during the week, which require little prep time, and even less at the sink. I wasn't certain what to make on Thursday evening with everyone coming home at different times. There aren't too many vegetables they will all agree on. Brussels sprouts, believe it or not, they will. Everyone likes sausages and everyone likes pasta. To put a healthy spin on the dish, I used Applewood chicken sausages. (I almost always use chicken sausages.) Anyhow, other than the fact I was satisfying a craving, there's no backstory or sentimental tale here so I will move right on to the recipe.

Ingredients:

4 Applewood brand (or similar organic) chicken sausages, sliced. Any flavor - I used Italian.
2 packages of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved. About 5-6 cups.
1/4 of a small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar - to taste
Sea salt
Pepper

Directions:

In a large saute pan add a small amount of olive oil - 1 tsp or so - to the pan. Turn heat on to medium high and when the oil is hot add the sliced sausages and saute until nicely browned - dark but not burnt. When done, set aside in a large bowl. Add 1-2 tsp of olive oil and the Brussels Sprouts, garlic and onion. If you have a smaller pan you may want to do this in 2 batches. Cook until the Brussels sprouts have a deep caramel color.  Add balsamic vinegar to taste. If they get dark but aren't fully cooked, simply turn heat down and place a lid on top ad cook for 10 minutes or so. Add salt and pepper.  When done add the sausages back to the pan and stir until the sausages and the veggies are well blended. 

Optional. In a large pot bring water to a boil and add half a package of bow-tie pasta - or any shape. And cook per directions on packaging. When done add to the sausage mixture. My children preferred it with the pasta but I quite liked it without. You may want to add more balsamic vinegar to the mixture once the pasta has been added. This would make a nice side dish, perhaps to a Thanksgiving dinner. 

Sausages and Brussels Sprouts in Balsamic Vinegar. Image via The Entertaining House

Sausages and Brussels Sprouts in Balsamic Vinegar. Image via The Entertaining House

Stir up some fun this fall with these 10 festive cocktails

Image and Recipe via

Image and Recipe via

Why should the kids have all the fun this season? Why not gather some friends around for a little fun of your own? I've thrown and attended some great fall and Halloween parties. While not particularly a fan of the gore and all things creepy, I do love a fun and creative Halloween party. You needn't go over the top... perhaps a small group will do... Serve some some easy to make and eat finger foods ad let the cocktails be the star of the show. Offer a few, or just offer one and build the evening around that one particular drink.  Halloween not really your thing? You can trade in the Poison Apple for a Pumpkin Punch, Apple Cider and Bourbon or Black Sangria that will carry you right through the Thanksgiving holiday. 

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And so, what'll it be? What's your poison?

The Weekend Baker :: Chocolate Banana Swirl Bread

The temperatures dip and the oven goes on - at least that's how it seems to work at our house. I was in the mood to bake the minute my bare feet touched down on the stone-cold wood floors as I padded my way into the kitchen this morning. We just turned off the air conditioning and now we're reaching to crank the thermostat up. As always prior to making banana bread, a couple of aging bananas have seen better days. They're no longer desirable. Except, of course, beaten and blended with eggs, sugar and flour. I have a child who's not a particular fan of this sweet type of quick bread. And so, to borrow an idea from my own childhood - in my mother's kitchen, I decided to add some chocolate to the mix. Who doesn't like chocolate? The swirl is neither organic or healthy. It's nothing but Hershey's chocolate syrup and it magically transform the pale yellow loaf into something almost magical. And it couldn't be more simple to make. A touch of cinnamon cuts the sweetness and adds a mild spiciness to the mixture making it a perfect fall snack for the Weekend Baker. The recipe was adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, another tribute to my childhood kitchen.

Recipe:
The original recipe didn't use the chocolate and included chopped walnuts. 
2 ripe bananas
2 eggs well beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups of flour
3/4 cup of sugar
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 stp baking soda
(1/2 cup chopped walnuts - optional)
3/4 chocolate syrup
3 tbs cocoa powder (unsweetened)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of a large mixer fitted with a paddle mash the two bananas. When well mashed add the eggs, sugar, yogurt, vanilla and cinnamon and mix until well blended. Add the baking soda and the flour one cup at a time. Mix well. Divide the batter in to two equal parts, keeping half in the bowl. Add the chocolate syrup and powder to the batter and mix well. 

Pour the two halves into a greased loaf pan and swirl together. Bake for 1 hour. Test with a toothpick to ensure doneness. Let cool 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Bon appetit

Above:
Purple glass plate - Juliska
Flora and fauna napkin - Anthropologie

Simple, Chic and Cooling Cocktails for Summertime and Beyond!

8 Sophisticated and Chic summer cocktails to keep you cool, summer and beyond! Image via Maaike Bergstrom Photography

8 Sophisticated and Chic summer cocktails to keep you cool, summer and beyond!
Image via Maaike Bergstrom Photography

I've been invited to guest blog at Private Newport where I have collaborated with some top tastemakers to give you some of this summer's hottest cocktails that are sure to cool you off! Click HERE to read.

Slow & Simple :: Zucchini, potato and onion frittata

Zucchini, potato and onion frittata - A healthy quiche alternative. Via The Entertaining House

Zucchini, potato and onion frittata - A healthy quiche alternative. Via The Entertaining House

It all came about with an absolutely massive zucchini that had been sitting in a large glass bowl on my kitchen counter. I had been eyeing it surreptitiously for days. What to do with it? Slice it up to saute? Toss it into a ratatouille? Grill it up? Make some zucchini "spaghetti"? Nothing really appealed to me and so the swollen green squash sat and sat and sat and sat. And then as I was perusing through my refrigerator in search of something healthy and delicious. I spied a fresh carton of local eggs and then the idea of a frittata came to me, but this frittata needed something. It needed that great big zucchini. And it needed some potato, and a little bit of onion, salt and pepper. And ta-da, after some shredding and baking I had the loveliest, healthiest breakfast. Serve it up on its own, or as a side for brunch as a lighter healthier alternative to quiche. 

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups of shredded zucchini
1 medium sized red potato, shredded (skin on)
6 eggs
Scant 2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 cup of shredded cheese - I used a combination of cheddar, jack and mozzarella

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Fit your food processor with a shredder blade (or shred manually) and shred the zucchini and potato. Place in a bowl or on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb some of the moisture. 
  3. In a large saute pan add 1 - 2 tbs of olive oil and gently saute the zucchini and potato until golden brown. You may prefer to separate into two batches for faster results.
  4. When golden brown set aside.
  5. Whisk eggs together in a very large bowl. Add the salt and pepper and add the zucchini and the potato. Mix well. 
  6. Pour into a glass pie plate and bake for about 35 minutes.
  7. Add the cheese to the top and bake for 10 minutes as it forms a deep, golden crust.
Zucchini, potato and onion frittata - A healthy quiche alternative. Via The Entertaining House

Zucchini, potato and onion frittata - A healthy quiche alternative. Via The Entertaining House

This recipe is gluten free. For a dairy and gluten free version make without the cheese.

Homemade Blueberry Jam :: Easy as pie!

Homemade blueberry jam - easy as pie! Via The Entertaining House

Homemade blueberry jam - easy as pie! Via The Entertaining House

Don't be intimidated by the jam making process. There's really nothing to be afraid of, and it's quite simple once you've done it. Last year we made our first attempt at Strawberry Jam and we were amazed at how easy it was. Although we missed strawberry season this year, the blueberries were ripe for the picking during the time my boys were with me, and home from camp. On one of the hottest days of the year (not my best planning) we hit a local farm and picked our way through 16 cups of berries! This yielded an amazing blueberry pie and blueberry quick bread. But we picked with the intention of making a batch of blueberry jam. Canning is the term that's popular these days. It was the canning process, truth be told, that I found so terrifying and yet ended up being so very simple - so simple that my 14 year decided to take over the process and while he labored over the stove sterilizing the jars and cooking the berries, I poured myself a glass of rose and er, um... supervised! The jam was spectacular and we've certainly been enjoying it!

Recipe courtesy of Ball
Makes 10 8 oz. jars

Ingredients:
6 2/3 cups of berries
2.5 ounces lemon juice (they recommend bottled)
7.5 tbs fruit pectin (Ball)
8 1/3 C Sugar 

Kitchen tools:
Tongs to grab the hot jars
8 quart of larger pot
Medium or large saucepan

Directions: 

PREPARE boiling water bath canner by filling an 8 quart or larger pot half-full with water and keep water at a simmer while covered with lid until jars are filled and placed in canner.

You don’t need to purchase a boiling water bath canner if you don’t have one at home. Most kitchens have pots that can double as boiling water bath canners. A boiling water bath canner is simply a large, deep saucepot equipped with a lid and a rack. The pot must be large enough to fully surround and immerse the jars in water by 1 to 2 inches and allow for the water to boil rapidly with the lid on.

1. Place blueberries on a cookie sheet and roll flat with a rolling pin. Combine fruit and lemon juice in a medium saucepan Gradually stir in the pectin and bring mixture to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.

2. Add the sugar (all of it!) to the berry mixture and dissolve. Return to a rolling boil and boil hard for ONE minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and if necessary, skim off foam.

3. Pack the jam into jars, one at a time - leaving 1/4 inch of headspace at the top. Wipe the rims, center the lids on the jars, apply the rims and adjust to fingertip tight.

4. Place jars into the canner filled with water, ensuring they are covered with 1 - 2 inches of water. Put the lid on the canner and bring to a gentle, steady boil. Process for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and let jars stand for 5 minutes.

5. Remove jars and let cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lids should not flex up and down when the center is pressed. Jars will keep in a cool dry place for up to one year. 

Homemade blueberry jam - easy as pie! Via The Entertaining House Jars, lids and rims in the water bath

Homemade blueberry jam - easy as pie! Via The Entertaining House
Jars, lids and rims in the water bath

Homemade blueberry jam - easy as pie! Via The Entertaining House Jam ready to be ladled into jars

Homemade blueberry jam - easy as pie! Via The Entertaining House
Jam ready to be ladled into jars

Homemade blueberry jam - easy as pie! Via The Entertaining House Jam in jars, waiting to be sealed

Homemade blueberry jam - easy as pie! Via The Entertaining House
Jam in jars, waiting to be sealed

Homemade blueberry jam - easy as pie! Via The Entertaining House Jam on fresh Farmer's Market toast (I like it this way the most!)

Homemade blueberry jam - easy as pie! Via The Entertaining House
Jam on fresh Farmer's Market toast (I like it this way the most!)

Slow + Simple :: Sunday Morning Blueberry Bread

Slow + Simple :: Sunday Morning Blueberry Quick Bread. The Entertaining House

Slow + Simple :: Sunday Morning Blueberry Quick Bread. The Entertaining House

Truthfully this sweet bread is perfect for any time of the day and any time of the week, but Sundays seem to rush on by signaling the end of the weekend and without realizing such our thoughts are focused on Monday morning and the week ahead instead of remaining in the moment. The weekend is fleeting enough, we ought to savor it and slow it down, not rush ahead.  There's nothing better than having your family wake up to the sweet smells of freshly baked goodies permeating from the oven, especially on a Sunday. I'm an early riser and so I'll have my slow Sunday morning, then while the children are still asleep, and after the warm, sweet treat has been retrieved from the oven and cooled, I take a slice and head out to work it all off ;)

Slow + Simple :: Sunday Morning Blueberry Quick Bread. The Entertaining House

Slow + Simple :: Sunday Morning Blueberry Quick Bread. The Entertaining House

Blueberry Quick Bread
Recipe:

3 C all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 C sugar
1/2 extra light olive oil
1 1/2 C skim milk (low fat will work as well)
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 C blueberries (frozen work off-season)

Sift together the flour, sugar and baking powder in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk. 
Add the oil, milk, vanilla and mix well.
Add egg and beat for about 2 minutes.
Gently stir in blueberries with a spatula or wooden spoon.
Pour into a greased loaf pan.
Place into pre-heated oven for about 75-85 minutes - checking for doneness after about 75 minutes, adjust time as needed based on firmness of the crust and by inserting a toothpick into the center. If the top is too brown, lower the temperature of the oven to 300 degrees and bake for 10 or so minutes, checking again for doneness.
When done (inserted toothpick comes out clean) let cool about 10 minutes before slicing.

Slow + Simple :: Sunday Morning Blueberry Quick Bread. The Entertaining House

Slow + Simple :: Sunday Morning Blueberry Quick Bread. The Entertaining House

A most simple a delicious blueberry pie

Simple blueberry pie. The Entertaining House. Image Jessica Gordon Ryan - taken with iPhone6

Simple blueberry pie. The Entertaining House. Image Jessica Gordon Ryan - taken with iPhone6

It's blueberry season in New England and this season's berries seem to be bigger and bluer and juicier than ever. On a hot late July afternoon (I'm not too sure what I was thinking!) I grabbed the boys and told them to get in the car. There are several farms we frequent and we vary them by berry and year... My kids seem to bore easily - even when it comes to fruit picking. We hadn't been to Jones Family Farms since the fall and the views are second to none. xxxxx And so on that hot July day we hopped on board our tractor driven caravan and were driven out to the fields where the blueberries lay. Under fields protected by green netting - to keep the berry-loving birds at bay, we gathered our baskets and picked away. Despite the heat gentle breezes greeted and cooled us. We managed to pick 16 cups of berries. Certainly enough for our pie, some jam and a few other treats as well.

My 14 year old is quite competent in the kitchen and when he puts his mind to it, he can create a masterpiece. He also loves blueberries. And pies. I was quite certain that our pie would indeed be a masterpiece. And as he set to work, requiring no hep or guidance, I poured myself a glass of wine and went into the next room where I rested my feet for a bit. 

Not long later it was ready. And it was delicious. There's nothing quite like a pie (a la mode) on made with fresh fruit on a warm summer evening!

The following recipe was adapted from Jones Family Farms, "Double Good Blueberry Pie." They key ingredient to this pie is the lemon that adds the perfect amount of tartness. 

Ingredients:
1/4 cup of sugar
3 tbs cornstarch or 6 tbs flour (We didn't have cornstarch)
1/2 C water
4 C blueberries (off season, frozen are acceptable)
1 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
Baked 9 inch shell - We used Pillsbury pre-made pie crusts.

In a medium sized saucepan mix the sugar and cornstarch, add water and 2 cups of the berries.
Cook over medium heat, stirring until mixture becomes thick, clear. Let it come to a boil then remove from heat.
Add lemon juice, stir well and let cool.
Add the remaining blueberries to the cooked pie crust and top with the cooked blueberry mixture.
Bake in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350 and bake for another 35 minutes until the crust is golden in color and the juices bubble through the vents.
Remove from oven, let cool then chill for about 20 minutes. (This last step is important. If you don't chill the pie will be delicious but very very runny!)

Simple Blueberry pie. The Entertaining House. Image Jessica Gordon Ryan

Simple Blueberry pie. The Entertaining House. Image Jessica Gordon Ryan

"Joe Cool" en route to pick some berries. Simple Blueberry pie. The Entertaining House. Jessica Gordon Ryan.

"Joe Cool" en route to pick some berries. Simple Blueberry pie. The Entertaining House. Jessica Gordon Ryan.

Down on the farm... Tractor rides are the best! Simple blueberry pie. The Entertaining House. Jessica Gordon Ryan.

Down on the farm... Tractor rides are the best! Simple blueberry pie. The Entertaining House. Jessica Gordon Ryan.

Simple blueberry pie (so simple a 14 year old made it!) The Entertaining House. Jessica Gordon Ryan

Simple blueberry pie (so simple a 14 year old made it!) The Entertaining House. Jessica Gordon Ryan

Simple Blueberry Pie. The Entertaining House. Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan

Simple Blueberry Pie. The Entertaining House. Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan

Simple Blueberry Pie. It was delicious! The Entertaining House. Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan

Simple Blueberry Pie. It was delicious! The Entertaining House. Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan

The art of the indoor picnic :: Dinner on a midsummer night

image.jpg

We're what you could call a picnicking family. We love a good picnic. But perhaps I should be more specific - we love a good indoor picnic. There are no ants, mosquitoes or bees to contend with. We needn't load up the car with blankets, beach chairs, and coolers. We needn't worry about bug repellant or sunscreen. In fact the indoor picnic couldn't possibly any simpler. You can serve up whatever dish you want and not worry about keeping it hot or cold. You can use paper plates or serve up your best china and crystal. Picnic blankets are optional but fun. You can sit on the floor if you like, but we prefer to sit on the couches. I have an oversized coffee table which houses many of my decorating books. I remove everything from the surface to create a clean canvas. Onto the canvas I place the evening's festive bites. Really anything can be served, but we tend to prefer small bites: olives, cornichons, assorted breads and crackers, various meats like prosciutto, different salamis, chicken salad, assorted cheeses, fruit, and veggie. This can be done with leftovers, or if it's too hot to cook or you're pressed for time, or simply just feeling a bit lazy, there's no harm in running to the store and picking up some delicious prepared salads, meats, shrimp cocktail, a baguette, some cheese, some pate perhaps and a nice bottle of wine, perhaps a nice sparkling beverage for the kids, something festive. We love finger foods. Mini sandwiches, cherry tomatoes, deviled eggs, cherries are also great picnic finger foods. Small bowls of chilled soup are great as well.

With the indoor picnic, as you can see, anything goes. The sky's the limit! It's more an attitude than anything else. It's supposed to be fun and easy, casual and relaxing... something you needn't put much thought or energy into and yet the result would seem as though you've slaved over it for hours! An indoor picnic is perfect in any weather, any time of year - anytime. It's the perfect way to begin the weekend. It's also the perfect way to end the weekend. And the perfect mid-week antidote!

When was the last time you had an indoor picnic?  

Food ideas for your indoor picnic:

(Be sure to take advantage of summer's bounty!)
Assorted breads and crackers
Cheeses, an assortment
Pate
Italian salamis
Olives
Cornichons
Deviled or hard boiled eggs
Sliced avocado drizzled with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper
Heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved, sprinkled with sea salt
Sliced radishes and sea salt for dipping
Cucumber salad
Mixed bean salad
Corn and Tomato salad
Pasta or quinoa salad
Potato salad
Chicken or tuna salad
Assorted sushi rolls
Mini burgers
Assorted sandwiches
Finger sandwiches
Crab, lobster or salmon cakes
Crab or lobster rolls
Oysters on the half shell
Mini lamb chops
Shrimp cocktail or grilled Shrimp
Kabobs - beef, chicken or shrimp
Summer soups in small easy to manage cups such as vichyssoise or gazpacho
Cherries
Strawberries with freshly made whipped cream to dip into
Assorted fresh fruit cut into slices
Fruit salad
Assorted cookies
Assorted brownies
Mini cupcakes
Hand pies
Whoopie pies
Iced Tea
Lemonade
Seltzer water
Wine
Sangria
Champagne
Prosecco




 

Picnic Season :: 13 sandwiches you must make this summer

Summer Sandwiches. Image via Jessica Moseley Gordon

Summer Sandwiches. Image via Jessica Moseley Gordon

There's something about a sandwich. It's satisfying, nourishing, and relatively easy to put together. These portable meals can be eaten just about anywhere and during the summertime, when the weather is warm and we want to spend our days outdoors, this perfect meal allows us to do so. Make it in advance, wrap it up well, and voila! My family happens to take sandwich making very seriously. We're not talking about a slice of meat, a piece of lettuce and some mayo and mustard in between two pieces of flimsy bread. We're talking so much more! We're selective about our bread, very! And we're selective about our ingredients. We like to switch things around and use all sorts of different condiments, all sorts of different proteins, veggies, and most importantly, all different kinds of bread. Many will say the most important ingredient is the bread - it is after all what makes a sandwich a sandwich. The bread is what gives the all important crunch and chew. The bread is what we crave. The choice of bread is what will bring your sandwich to a whole new level. So let's start with the bread.

Put away the sliced bread that comes wrapped in plastic. You won't be needing it for these. We'll be looking to our bakeries - either standalone or the one in the grocery store. We want breads with thick crusts and soft interiors. Or rolls that are brimming with flavor, such as onion rolls, ciabatta rolls, challah rolls and pretzel rolls. We love French breads, Italian breads - semolina, ciabattas, and focaccias. 

Since it's summertime do take advantage of all that wonderful fresh bounty - there's nothing better than vine ripe tomatoes, fresh lettuces, spinach and herbs in a sandwich. Why not go vegetarian and leave the meat to the side. A sandwich of fresh grown veggies on a thick crusty baguette drizzled with a fresh homemade vinaigrette is my idea of a perfect lunch whether at home, poolside or at the beach.

Substitute traditionals condiments with pestos, aiolis, homemade dressings, spreads made from goat cheese or hummus. I love sandwiches made with dressings, pestos and aiolis. Even changing up your "spread" can dramatically improve a sandwich. 

Proteins are, to many, the mother of all sandwich ingredients. Let's walk away from the deli and look to grilled chicken, salmon, even shrimp. Consider eggs, hardboiled and sliced or egg salad. Italian tuna packed in oil (not American packed in water), leftover steak or pork thinly sliced. Replace your meat with assorted cheeses like goat, manchego, havarti, camembert or blue that all go wonderfully well with the season's fresh vegetables. 

Salads make wonderful sandwiches. Hollow out a baguette wedge or the inside of a roll and stuff it with a Greek salad, chopped salad or Salade Nicoise. 

Below I'm sharing some of my favorite sandwiches created by various other bloggers to give you more inspiration! 

Alexandra Cooks creates this divine looking Croque Monsier with a poached egg. 

Alexandra Cooks creates this divine looking Croque Monsier with a poached egg. 

Food & Wine has a recipe for chicken salad sandwiches that are above and beyond the ordinary. (It's all in how you poach the chicken!)

Food & Wine has a recipe for chicken salad sandwiches that are above and beyond the ordinary. (It's all in how you poach the chicken!)

Will Cook for Friends has these wonderful looking fig and goat cheese sandwiches. Summertime is fig season.

Will Cook for Friends has these wonderful looking fig and goat cheese sandwiches. Summertime is fig season.

Not without Salt shows us how to make these wonderful slow roasted tomato BLTs for a more intense flavor. 

Not without Salt shows us how to make these wonderful slow roasted tomato BLTs for a more intense flavor. 

This vegetarian sandwich from chef Gabrielle Hamilton for House Beautiful is a perfect bite on a warm summer day.... heirloom tomatoes, onions, ricotta, lemon avocados and a hearty bread... It doesn't get more simple than that!

This vegetarian sandwich from chef Gabrielle Hamilton for House Beautiful is a perfect bite on a warm summer day.... heirloom tomatoes, onions, ricotta, lemon avocados and a hearty bread... It doesn't get more simple than that!

Grilled vegetables, cheese and bread. Simple, Satisfying, Sublime. In the summertime sometimes you don't want that heavy protein weighing you down. FoodieCrush has the recipe.

Grilled vegetables, cheese and bread. Simple, Satisfying, Sublime. In the summertime sometimes you don't want that heavy protein weighing you down. FoodieCrush has the recipe.

Summer simply isn't summer, at least here in New England, without a good lobster roll. When you get them at a restaurant they can be almost prohibitively expensive. They're not hard to make on your own. You'll simply have to decide whether you want a mayo or butter based recipe. The GIrl in the Little Red Kitchen has a mouthwatering recipe for a butter-based sandwich that promises to offer a bit of a kick! 

Summer simply isn't summer, at least here in New England, without a good lobster roll. When you get them at a restaurant they can be almost prohibitively expensive. They're not hard to make on your own. You'll simply have to decide whether you want a mayo or butter based recipe. The GIrl in the Little Red Kitchen has a mouthwatering recipe for a butter-based sandwich that promises to offer a bit of a kick! 

Bon Appetit has a chicken waffle sandwich. Perfected. I've always been intrigued by this Southern bite. Chicken, waffles, bacon, cheese and green onions. Sounds like a winner to me!

Bon Appetit has a chicken waffle sandwich. Perfected. I've always been intrigued by this Southern bite. Chicken, waffles, bacon, cheese and green onions. Sounds like a winner to me!

Food.com has the Caprese Panini perfected. Because sometimes you warm warm, runny, gooey cheese.

Food.com has the Caprese Panini perfected. Because sometimes you warm warm, runny, gooey cheese.

Smoked salmon, and a good crusty bread is never a bad thing. A dab of soft creamy cheese, some lemon and dill and I could live on this all day. There are many variations and many different breads may be used.  Image via Kwestia Smaku.

Smoked salmon, and a good crusty bread is never a bad thing. A dab of soft creamy cheese, some lemon and dill and I could live on this all day. There are many variations and many different breads may be used.  Image via Kwestia Smaku.

For those who likes sweet and savory, fresh figs and prosciutto, arugula and ricotta on a tender flaky croissant will delight and satisfy. Image via Relish Catering. 

For those who likes sweet and savory, fresh figs and prosciutto, arugula and ricotta on a tender flaky croissant will delight and satisfy. Image via Relish Catering. 

Anything tastes good in a baguette! Simply buy baguette and fill with whatever you wish! Image via Tartlette

Anything tastes good in a baguette! Simply buy baguette and fill with whatever you wish! Image via Tartlette



From the Garden to the Plate :: 15 mouthwatering recipes to help use up your summer surplus

From the Garden to the Plate :: 15 mouthwatering zucchini recipes. Image via Martha Stewart

From the Garden to the Plate :: 15 mouthwatering zucchini recipes. Image via Martha Stewart

It's that time of year. The time of year when our zucchini plants blossom and yield the most spectacular fruits. Zucchini is plentiful and inexpensive at the farmer's market and grocery store; it's in abundance. In fact, it's even more. Many gardens are being seized by these gigantic green beasts - they seem never to stop growing! Pick them before they get too large. They're much sweeter and more flavorful this way. If you can't use them all give them away. But if you want to try to use them, I've rounded up 15 recipes that will inspire and leave you hungry for more! 

I love zucchini chips. Season them with salt and pepper, or jazz them up with red pepper flakes or paprika or a small amount Parmesan. Not only are these delicious but incredibly healthy. These are easiest to make if you have a mandoline.  A Spicy Perspective has a perfect recipe for your Baked Zucchini Chips.

From the Garden to the Plate -- 15 Mouthwatering zucchini recipes. Image via Proud Italian Cook

From the Garden to the Plate -- 15 Mouthwatering zucchini recipes. Image via Proud Italian Cook

Hop on over to Proud Italian Cook for this fresh and summery take on a traditional slaw. 

From the Garden to the Plate :: 15 zucchini recipes. Image via The Healthy Family and Home

From the Garden to the Plate :: 15 zucchini recipes. Image via The Healthy Family and Home

The Healthy Family and Home offers some great ideas for zucchini boats. Even better they fall under the clean eating umbrella. Perfect for a side dish at dinner, light supper or lunch. 

From the garden to the table :: 15 zucchini recipes. Alexandra's Kitchen.

From the garden to the table :: 15 zucchini recipes. Alexandra's Kitchen.

Alexandra shows us how to create an insanely delicious grilled zucchini with mint, basil and pine nuts. Hop on over to her blog for the recipe.

From the Garden to the Plate :: 15 Zucchini recipes. Alexandra Cooks

From the Garden to the Plate :: 15 Zucchini recipes. Alexandra Cooks

Again from Alexandra Cooks. The Zucchini Anchovy. If you like anchovies, of course. I'm salivating over this one!

From Garden to Table :: 15 mouthwatering zucchini recipes

From Garden to Table :: 15 mouthwatering zucchini recipes

I do love a good fritter, the crispy outside, the tender, soft inside. A sort of decadent comfort food that's not over the top.  The Roasted Root shares this gluten free recipe that uses zucchini instead of potato. All topped with a garlic aioli. Sounds divine. 

From the garden to the plate :: 15 zucchini recipes. Bonjon Gourmet

From the garden to the plate :: 15 zucchini recipes. Bonjon Gourmet

I do adore a good soup, and it's something I do eat year round. On hotter days I do adore a nice chilled soup, otherwise a tepid soup soothes when the weather is warm and a warmer soup soothes when the weather is cool. This Creamy Thai Zucchini Corn Soup from the Bonjon Gourmet will require a couple of extra steps, but the end result promises to make it all worth your while. 

From the garden to the Plate. 15 zucchini recipes. Image Food Network

From the garden to the Plate. 15 zucchini recipes. Image Food Network

Simple. Fresh. Refreshing. And it's Alton Brown's Recipe. I need not say anymore. Hop on over to the Food Network for this recipe. 

From the garden to the plate. 15 zucchini recipes. Image via Martha Stewart

From the garden to the plate. 15 zucchini recipes. Image via Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart also has a refreshing looking shaved zucchini recipe. Her's also has zucchini blossoms, tomatoes, ricotta and thyme oil. Hop on over to her website for her version. 

From the garden to the table. 15 zucchini recipes. Image via Pinch of Yum. 

From the garden to the table. 15 zucchini recipes. Image via Pinch of Yum. 

Zucchini. Corn. Pie. Yum. This summer pie would delight your family for an intimate gathering or a large group of friends for a poolside Sunday brunch. It's the brainchild of Pinch of Yum. (Actually she credits her mother for the recipe.) Not only do I like her blog but I like her sense of humor. A winning combination! Hop on over to her site for her Sweet Corn and Zucchini Pie recipe .

If you don't have one of these zucchini spiralizing thingamajigs you should get one. They will revolutionize the way you do zucchini.  You may never want to give your excess zuc away ever again. We picked up one at Williams-Sonoma. But you can order one at Amazon and have it delivered to your door in no-time! Simply click on the image below

From the garden to the table :: 15 zucchini recipes. Image Divine Vegan Food

From the garden to the table :: 15 zucchini recipes. Image Divine Vegan Food

Don't let the fact that this is vegan scare you. This raw "pasta" with pesto couldn't be easier to make. Best, on a sultry day, you'll not have to slave over a hot stove. Hop on over to Divine Vegan Food for the how tos.

From the garden to the plate. 15 zucchini recipes. The Londoner

From the garden to the plate. 15 zucchini recipes. The Londoner

I have never met a puttanesca I didn't like, Zucchini and puttanesca a perfect carb-free marriage in heaven... The Slutty No Carb Pasta is brought to us by The Londoner.

From the garden to the plate. 15 zucchini recipes. Lexi's Clean Kitchen.

From the garden to the plate. 15 zucchini recipes. Lexi's Clean Kitchen.

Have you ever had an eggplant meatball. If you like eggplants and you like meatballs you will love these. Succulent, tender and melt in your mouth delicious, I actually prefer these meatless spheres over their protein counterparts.  This recipe is dairy free, gluten free and paleo. Until I get my hands all over it and dump Parmesan all over the top ;) This recipe does seem a little more involved, so leave a little extra time. I'd not suggest this on a week night when you're in a rush. Hop on over to Lexi's Clean Kitchen for the recipe.

From the garden to the plate. 15 zucchini recipes. Image via Princess in the Kitchen

From the garden to the plate. 15 zucchini recipes. Image via Princess in the Kitchen

And now for something sweet. I adore a good zucchini bread. The less sweet varieties are great in the morning or with afternoon tea. The sweeter ones like this decadent looking Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread from Princess in Kitchen will satisfy my sweet tooth and my chocolate craving. Truth be told, I have a killer sweet tooth. This recipe uses a lot of zucchini which must mean it's healthy, right? It also uses a lot of chocolate which means it's delicious!

From the garden to the plate. 15 zucchini recipes. Image via La Creme de La Crumb

From the garden to the plate. 15 zucchini recipes. Image via La Creme de La Crumb

For a more traditional zucchini bread La Creme de la Crumb offers this marvelous cinnamon swirl version. Hop on over to her blog for the recipe.

Watermelon Agua Fresca :: A Perfectly Refreshing Beverage for a Hot Summer Day

Cool, refreshing watermelon agua fresca is a light beverage the entire family will love. Image The Entertaining House

Cool, refreshing watermelon agua fresca is a light beverage the entire family will love.
Image The Entertaining House

Agua fresca is a refreshing, light fruit drink that is popular throughout Mexico. It couldn't be any easier to make - all you need is some fresh fruit, water, honey or agave and a little bit of lime juice. Melons are very popular as a fruit choice as they yield a lot of juice and are inherently sweet.

Ingredients:
3 cups (roughly) watermelon, cubed - There should be twice as much fruit as water.
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon of honey or agave
2 to 3 limes, juiced

Directions: 
Puree the watermelon and lime juice in a blender and when it is in juice form pour the liquid into a pitcher through a fine sieve to eliminate pulp. Using the back of a large spoon, or your hands, press excess juices through the strainer so that all that remains in the watermelon pulp. When the juice is strained and in the pitcher add the honey, mix well and chill about an hour before serving. Serve over ice and garnish with a lime wedge or sprig of mint. 

Once you've made the watermelon try some other melons or feel free to add berries or cucumber. 

Watermelon agua fresca. Image via The Entertaining House

Watermelon agua fresca. Image via The Entertaining House

Watermelon agua fresca. Image via The Entertaining House. 

Watermelon agua fresca. Image via The Entertaining House. 

Beyond Peanut Butter and Jelly :: Comfort Food Dressed Up

Peanut Butter and Jelly - Image property of Jessica Moseley Gordon 

Peanut Butter and Jelly - Image property of Jessica Moseley Gordon 

There's nothing like a good pb+j when the mood strikes. Whether you're partial to grape jelly or strawberry preserves, the combination of the sweet and the salty perfectly satisfies your cravings. This childhood favorite is comforting and nurturing. Whether you're a Welch's jelly purist or Smucker's strawberry fan, there's no right or wrong way to make or eat this classic sandwich. Best of all, it's simple and easy to make. There's no prep time involved and dishwashing is minimal. It's my go to for the children when I'm pressed for time. Lately we've been dressing this sandwich up a bit - Sometimes they become truly decadent, almost desertlike and sometimes they're packed with power - a perfect pre-workout energy source. Whatever your mood, style or preference there's something to satisfy your craving. 

Where and when the PB+J originated, nobody's quite sure. Peanut Butter was present and quite popular at the 1904 World's Fair. It was then considered to be quite an elegant food choice paired with pimento cheese, celery, and watercress, and served on crackers in Manhattan tea rooms. Skippy and Peter Pan came to us in the 1920s and 1930s during the Great Depression. Jarred peanut butter was inexpensive and was served on the newly introduces pre-sliced bread. This was hearty and nourishing and something simple that young children could even make themselves. 

Not until World War II did we see the peanut butter and jelly combination that remains so popular today. US Soldiers often ate peanut butter, jelly and bread together and when they returned home to the States they craved the food they ate during the war. 

Traditionally a PB&J consists of equal parts peanut butter and jelly  - roughly 2 tablespoons each but the ratio is negotiable, determined only by the sandwich maker. 

The Art of the Sandwich

First let's talk about bread. With these sandwiches, ordinary sandwich bread is really the best. Whether you opt to go with traditional white, whole grain/wheat or oatmeal is really up to you. Soft breads are optimal. For something a little bit fancier try substituting challah or brioche for your sandwich bread as do waffles and French toast. And we're really not going to worry about calories and such nonsense here. 

1. Peanut butter and Fluff

For many this is as commonplace as peanut butter and jelly, but this New England treat is pb+j stepped up a notch. The marshmallow is more decadent, more prohibitive and much more fun than your run-of-the-mill jelly. It's simple. It's easy. It's delicious as a snack, meal or dessert. If you have any natural peanut butter on hand - the freshly ground stuff - use it! While it seems silly, if not practically wasteful to mix it up with the Fluff, it brings the Fluffernutter to a whole new experience!

2. Peanut butter and Nutella

If you've not met Peanut Butter's European cousin then you really have no idea what you're missing. This delicious, decadent and sinful chocolate and hazelnut spread is enjoyed by children all over Europe. Now blend the two together and you're onto something insanely delicious. If you're going to worry about calories you might as well not read any further. 

3. Peanut butter, Fluff and Nutella.

Yes, you read that correctly. No there's no diet version. You'll want an appetite for this. And an elasticized waistband. Or yoga pants. Your tastebuds will feel like they've gone to heaven. Wanna go crazy? Toss some sliced banana into it.

4. Sprinkle some cinnamon on it, Peanut Butter and Cinnamon

Whether cinnamon or cinnamon sugar, this spice really enhances the peanut butter flavor. We love peanut butter with just a bit of cinnamon sprinkled on it. This is one of my personal favorites. I use crunchy peanut butter. This is perfect right before an aerobic workout, whether you're headed to the gym or out for a run. The protein and carbs will fuel you perfectly without the sugary sweetness that will send you soaring then crashing. 

5. Peanut Butter, Honey, Banana and Cinnamon

I often make this for my boys for breakfast when I'm lazy or short on time. We use local honey and sprinkle the cinnamon right onto it. Two of us prefer this with crunchy peanut butter and the other two prefer it with smooth. 

6. Peanut Butter, Banana and Granola

For those who like a little crunch, a great way to use up those "granola crumbs" at the bottom of the package is to sprinkle some onto your your peanut butter. Go ahead, why not. Add honey if you wish.

7. Peanut butter and bacon (and banana)

It sounds weird but anyone who's had this will tell you it's oddly delicious. I had peanut butter and bacon sandwiches in my lunch box as a child. For those who don't like or can't eat pork, turkey bacon works well here too. Go ahead and toss some bananas in there too. I think Elvis did.

8. Nutella and Banana

A little less decadent than the aforementioned versions. The bananas, the chocolate and hazelnuts ... Perfection. 

9. Nutella and Strawberries

It's a natural pairing. We see this combinations often in crepes. It works well on a sandwich too. Spread a thin layer of nutella on both sides of the bread, then place thinly slices pieces of strawberries on top of the Nutella. Suggestion: Because strawberries are so wet, we place our sliced strawberries onto a sheet of paper towel for a minute or so before placing them in the sandwich to absorb some of the extra moisture.

10.  Nutella, Strawberries and Banana

The same as above. But prefered by monkeys!

Make your own peanut butter chocolate spread 

Not that we're focusing on anything healthy in this post, we're really not, but this chocolate peanut butter spread is actually quite healthy and really good. In a small bowl mix 2 tablespoons of peanut butter with 1 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder and mix well. Take a tiny taste, if you want to add some more add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon. Mix well. If you're in the mood for something a bit sweeter add 1/2 teaspoon of honey and mix well.  Spread onto bread and eat immediately!

Try some of these...

Why not trade in your kids jelly for something more sophisticated. Bonne Mamman, Hero and Trapist are some European jams that are bursting with fruit and full with flavor. Try raspberry, plum, apricot ... add in some crushed nuts, granola, coconut... Raspberry-Apricot jam, peanut butter, homemade (natural) peanut butter on challah... Crunchy peanut butter, granola, coconut, cinnamon on whole grain... For those who have a penchant for anything chocolate and orange, try your hand at a Nutella and marmalade sandwich.

Serving Suggestions

There's nothing wrong with slicing that just made sandwich down the middle and eating it right away, but these sandwiches become truly extraordinary when tossed on a griddle or a panini press. Whether sandwich bread, challah, brioche, French toast or waffle, lightly coat each side of your sandwich with a little non-stick cooking spray (either butter flavored or olive oil) and cook them up to oozy toasty perfection. Dust with a touch of confectioners or cinnamon sugar et voila! 

Beyond Peanut Butter and Jelly :: Comfort Food Dressed Up

Beyond Peanut Butter and Jelly :: Comfort Food Dressed Up

Beyond Peanut Butter and Jelly :: Comfort Food Dressed Up

Beyond Peanut Butter and Jelly :: Comfort Food Dressed Up

Beyond Peanut Butter and Jelly :: Comfort Food Dressed Up

Beyond Peanut Butter and Jelly :: Comfort Food Dressed Up

Chin-Chin! National Negroni Week

Negroni Week, presented by Imbibe Magazine and Campari 

Negroni Week, presented by Imbibe Magazine and Campari 

I can't imagine a better way to begin my Birthday week - and the fact that Negroni Week begins on my Birthday is even better! Negroni is certainly an acquired taste. Made with equal parts of Campari, gin and sweet vermouth, this drink has a strong and bitter taste - some have stated that it should be stored in a medicine cabinet!

Liquor.com states that the Negroni is one of the few cocktails with a traceable history that goes all the way back to the begining of 20th century. "Its origins are documented in the book Sulle Tracce del Conte: La Vera Storia del Cocktail Negroni, which was written by Lucca Picchi, head bartender at Caffe Rivoire in Florence, Italy. The drink was created at Bar Casoni in Florence, according to Picchi, when Count Camillo Negroni ordered an Americano—sweet vermouth, Campari and club soda—with gin swapped in for the standard soda."

The Negroni is once again in favor with mixologists, .joining both the Dry Martini and the Manhattan to form the Triple Crown of classic cocktails. Many attribute this newfound popularity to the fact that the beverage is incredibly well-balanced and that it's almost impossible to make badly. 

Campari has associations. Summer-weight suits with narrow lapels, Ray-Ban Wayfarers, Vespas, brown-eyed blondes in Capri pants. La dolce vita. A violently red, bittered-up 48-proof vermouth doesn’t sound like much to build a cocktail culture on, but somehow it works. In fact, the Negroni is one of the world’s indispensable cocktails.” Esquire

This year, from June 1-7, bars around the world will mix their favorite version of the Negroni, donating a portion of proceeds from each one sold to a charity of their choice. In Fairfield County some of your favorite restaurants and bars have joined in on the the fun and will be pouring these sweet and aromatic cocktails with proceeds going to Community Plates, Fairfield County’s local food rescue organization. (If you live elsewhere check your town's restaurant to see where you can participate.)

Negroni Week, presented by Imbibe Magazine and Campari launched in 2013 as a celebration of one of the world’s great cocktails and an effort to raise money for charitable causes around the world. From 2013 to 2014, Negroni Week grew from more than 100 participating bars to more than 1,300 participating bars around the world and more than $120,000 raised for charities.

 

Negroni Week, presented by Imbibe Magazine and Campari 

Negroni Week, presented by Imbibe Magazine and Campari 

The local Restaurants that are Shaking, Stirring and Pouring:

Amore Cucina & Bar, Stamford
Brick+ Wood, Fairfield
NEAT, Westport
Rizzuto’s Oyster Bar & Restaurant, Westport
Rizzuto’s Sports Bar, Stamford
Rizzuto’s Wood-fired Pizza Kitchen, Bethel
Table 104 Osteria & Bar, Stamford
Vespa, Westport.

You can follow all of the Negroni Week action on Imbibe’s Instagram and Twitter feeds (@imbibe) and by following the #NegroniWeek hashtag. For more information and updates on participating Connecticut restaurants, check out: www.negroniweek.com

For those of you wanting to try at home... 

How to Make a Negroni 

1 1/2 ounces gin -- London dry gin
3/4 ounce Campari
3/4 ounce vermouth -- Italian vermouth
cocktail glass

Shake well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of orange peel.

 

An All-American Cookie Perfect for your Memorial Day Barbeque

A Perfectly Patriotic Hamburger Cookie is a perfect treat for your Memorial Day or 4th of July Party. Images via The Entertaining House. 

A Perfectly Patriotic Hamburger Cookie is a perfect treat for your Memorial Day or 4th of July Party. Images via The Entertaining House. 

What's more American than a good ol' juicy burger? Ok, yes, maybe apple pie. But when you think of summertime food and barbeques and parties, whether at the pool, lake, beach or home, the hamburger reigns King. When invited to parties I always offer to bring something whether a side, salad, dessert or even a signature beverage. If we are invited to family events I like to bring something that everyone - both adults and children - will enjoy. Although I made these initially with children in mind, the sight of these cookies brings a smile to everyone's face.

To make these even more Patriotic simply add an American flag toothpick to the centers. These couldn't be easier to make, but do require a little time for assembly. Pinched for time? Older children and teens can help assemble these.

Wishing everyone a happy and safe Memorial Day Weekend!

Miniature Hamburger Cookies

Makes 20-24 cookies. For more double recipe.
Ingredients:
Sesame seeds
1 box Nilla wafers 
1 Keebler Grasshopper cookies, or Girl Scout Thin Mints
1 container of frosting, or 2 cups homemade
Food coloring, red, yellow, green 
1 cup Shredded coconut

Directions
1. In a  plastic bag add about 1 cup of shredded coconut and green food coloring, shake vigorously until you get the color you desire to resemble shredded lettuce. 
2. In a small bowl add a couple of drops of red and yellow food coloring and the frosting. Stir together until you reach the color of "special sauce." The goal is to get a pastel orange like color.
3. Take one Nilla wafer, apply a small amount of frosting to the flat side to be used as glue then place the mint cookie on the Nilla wafer. Add another small amount of frosting to the top of the mint cookie and top that with "lettuce'. On top of the lettuce add a a generous amount of "special sauce." Take another Nilla Wafer and place on top, flat side down.
4. To get the sesame seeds to stick on to the bun, use an egg wash. Apply egg wash on to the Nilla wafer then add sesame seeds and voila!
To make an egg wash use egg white, and 1 tsp of water. Mix well.
Brush the egg wash on to the top Nilla wafer, then add a few sesame seeds. Let harden a few minutes. 
and brush on to surface.

Mini Hamburger cookies - Family friendly summer treats. Image via The Entertaining House

Mini Hamburger cookies - Family friendly summer treats. Image via The Entertaining House

A Most Delicious Salad Sauce :: A Colonial recipe from Old Sturbridge Village

A Most Delicious Salad Sauce - Recipe from Old Sturbridge Village. Image property of The Entertaining House/Jessica Gordon Ryan

A Most Delicious Salad Sauce - Recipe from Old Sturbridge Village. Image property of The Entertaining House/Jessica Gordon Ryan

It's easy to understand why good recipes can stand the test of time - why they're passed on from generation to generation. It's also easy to see how many modern recipes take their roots and influences from older recipes. 

When I went to participate in my Colonial Dinner at Old Sturbridge Village last week I was amazed by how how similar today's families are to those of the past. While nearly 200 years have past, traditions have remained traditions. Family meals are not all that different, and what and how we eat is uncannily similar as well. While our ancestors didn't have the modern technologies and conveniences that we have today, our lives are really not all that dissimilar. No place is this most apparent than in the kitchen at at the table. 

As we sat to eat our fabulous Colonially prepared dinner, it struck me that the only difference was not the food itself, or even the flavors, but the way in which food is prepared. Our measurements are different, but we still use heat to cook, salt and pepper and other spices to season. While we have large mixers to whip up whipped cream instead of twigs, even the absence of ice and refrigeration went largely unnoticed to me. 

As a part of our meal we were served a salad with a wonderfully flavored dressing. It reminded me of a cross between something you'd have at a steakhouse and a Caesar dressing without the cheese. I decided to try my hand at the recipe and made it for dinner last night. It tasted a bit different - perhaps I had thinned it out a bit more, but it was flavorful, aromatic and subtly piquant nonetheless. 

Recipe for A Most Delicious Salad Sauce:

(Colonial Version)
"Take the yolks of 4 hard boiled eggs, rub them through a sieve, and add them to one teaspoon of salt, mix well and then add 2 tablespoonfuls of handmade mustard, stir well up, then add by one spoonful each time 6 spoonfuls of salad oil; mix this well together until it becomes as smooth as mustard, then put in one teaspoonful of anchovy sauce and one gill of cream or new milk and stir well together; and last of all put in by degrees some good vinegar; I don't state the quantity of this, as some is much stronger than others, this must lay in your own taste. Should you make it too sharp with vinegar, add one tablespoon of fine white sugar in powder, this will soften it, and give it an excellent flavour. Bottle it for use. This will keep in any length of time, in the hottest of weather, and is excellent with any kind of salad or boiled slaw. Shake it well up before you put it on the salad." 
Robert Roberts
The Servant's Directory, 1828

My adaptation: (Feel free to create your own)

4 egg yolks, hard boiled, mashed with a fork
1 stp salt (I used sea salt)
2 tbs Dijon mustard
6 tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 tbs apple cider vinegar
Several good shakes of Worcestershire sauce - mimics the anchovy flavor
Scant 4 oz milk or less
Optional, 1 tbs white sugar
Freshly ground pepper to taste. 

In a medium sized bowl mash the egg yolk with the salt, then slowly pour in the olive oil while incorporating the egg yolk. You'll should end up with a smooth paste. Add the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and mix well. I would add half the milk, and taste before deciding to add the rest. Much depends on how tart you want your dressing to be. I added all 4 ounces of milk. The egg yolk acts as a natural emulsifier giving this dressing a nice full body. Transfer to a salad jar if desired and shake well. We used about half of the recipe for 4 people. 

For more on my visit to Old Sturbridge Village, visit here