Friday, December 23, 2011

Blessed Beyond Measure

Sometimes I really do sit and ask myself, how lucky am I to have Belinda and Kimber as my best friends.  They are both so talented and NICE!!  I mean, they are both the definition of grace and kindness, as for me, I am just happy that they allow me to stumble along in their wake.  I am also quite blessed that they put up with me!

Wednesday was our annual Christmas get together, we met for lunch at Mimi's.  Luckily they seated us in a corner booth, as we were loaded down with bags and ready to settle in and homestead awhile.  By the way, I had an awesome bleu cheese burger and sweet potato fries, and order the dessert trio, its so bad, so bad for your diet!

After we finished nomming down on dessert, we started opening our gifts.  We started with Kimber's presents.  Kimber is an extremely talented free lance writer, she writes quite a bit for Meredith, Better Homes and Garden, and you will also see her in Victoria magazine.  She edits quite a few quilting books, and a new magazine, Primitive Quilts and Projects.  She is a very busy busy lady!!  But she has extremely good taste, when we go antique shopping with her, we follow her wherever she goes because she finds all the cool stuff!  That's probably why she is always asked to style the shoots in the books she edits. Anyway, not long ago, she found an adorable vintage wooden grocery list, and I lusted after it mightily, I was so pleased to find one of my own in my present.  She also gave me a wonderful community cookbook, because she knows I collect them, what she didn't realize this time was, I was born in Virginia, in the Portsmouth area, and this cookbook is from the Muscarelle Museum of Art, from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA.  This cookbook is so very near and dear to my heart!  She also gave me an adorable set of mini halloween cookie cutters, some vintage thread spools, which both Belinda and I drooled over, a cute set of Christmas trims,  my mind was already thinking of ways to use them along with the kitchen stamp.  I am anxious to read this cute book, Knit Knacks, Much Ado About Knitting, its full of humorous stories and is illustrated in vintage 1940-1950 pictures, which I love!   Also included was an adorable little handmade Christmas book, perfect for recording my Christmas memories, starting with this one!  Lastly, on one of her travels, she picked up this cute primitive bird pincushion, perfect for setting by my chair to hold my scissors and pins, so my husband doesn't keep finding them with his feet.  My little bird came complete with vintage rick rack, I tell you, Kimber finds the most awesome things!!  After opening all her wonderful gifts, my heart was quite full of happiness, and my mind was full of projects and ideas!

Next I opened Belinda's gifts.  Belinda is a very talented needlework artist and designer.  She is also an extremely good teacher, much in demand on the cross stitch retreat circuit.  Ladies, she sets the bar of what you should expect from your teachers, both with her kits, teaching materials, and attention and technique that you should receive from a needlework instructor.  If you ever have the chance to attend a retreat with her, take it!  You won't regret it!

Since Belinda teaches at all these retreats, she gets to go to really nifty needlework shops, like Elegant Stitch,  and  ABC Stitch Therapy, and she picks up the neatest gifts for us wherever she goes!  One cool thing was a Just Nan stick pin.  Just Nan only makes a limited number of these, and at market for the needlework shops, they go fast!  I never ever had a chance to get any for my shop because by the time I could fight my way in the door, they were snapped up!  So it was quite a coup that Belinda gave me one!  She made me a wonderful, awesome and so very needed knitting needle roll.  I really do love this, I have needed one, its perfect!  See, I already filled it!
It also has a zippered pocket which is perfect for my stitch markers, cable needles and all the small little whatnots that tend to get misplaced.  In the same fabric line, Madeira from Black Bird Designs, she also made a nifty lined gathered bag, which is perfect for toting my knitting projects to and from my knitting group.  A neat pair of scissors and 3 inch ruler,(because if you are a stitcher, three inch rulers are pretty handy), a cute primitive notebook, because she knows I like that!  When she was teaching at Elegant Stitch this fall, she found in their shop a French General Scissor case, which is also a pretty awesome coup!  I love French General fabrics, and their accessories, although adorable, are so hard to find, they are always sold out, even on their website!  And we decided I could use this case for my circular needles.  (I think she wants me to keep my knitting organized to I can knit her more socks!)  A little bag of Hershey mint kisses, and lastly this gorgeous cookbook (do my friends know me or what!) Bon Appetit Fast, Easy French.  I have been slowly going through this book, and my mind is overloaded with recipes I want to try. 

Everyone should have such kind, talented and generous friends, and I count myself very lucky that I do.  I don't know what I did to deserve them, I suspect that I don't, but God has blessed me in spite of myself.

If you want to see what I made them, go to their blog posts, Belinda and Kimber

I hope all of you have very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Shrinky Dink Pins

Remember Shrinky Dinks?  Remember how bad you wanted some but your parents were not going to waste money on something like that?  Well, you are a grown up now, go to Michael's and get a pack, cause this is fun stuff!

I needed bee pins for some presents I made.  I looked for bee buttons and beads, but nothing seemed to be quite right.  Either the looks was off, or too big or small, nothing seemed hand made or quirky enough to go with my beehive tape measures. 

I had tried to make some shrinky dink pins before, but my ink was too thick and it took forever to dry, so it had gotten abandoned.  I decided to resurrect that project and apply some thought.  I used a different ink pad, but of course, didn't have the right bee stamp.  I love Ebay, I find most of my hard to find items on Ebay, and this stamp was just right.

So to begin, get your sheet of shrinky dink plastic, I chose to use the frosted, as opposed to clear, and black ink.  Stamp carefully, my ink was still a bit thick, so be careful you don't smudge.

I let it dry a bit, then cut out my bee, and didn't worry about cutting perfectly on the lines, as it shrinks ALOT.  I hammered in my pins, making sure that the pin head was against the shiny side of the plastic.

Heat your oven or toaster oven to 325 degrees.  Place your pins on a piece of brown paper bag, I used a piece of lunch bag, and place in the oven.  It only takes about 1 minute and some change for these to be finished, so keep an eye on them.  I love using the toaster oven, way easier that way.  When shrunken, and flattened out, remove, let cool a bit, then admire the heck out of these little cuties!

You can use an alcohol based ink pad,  and alcohol markers to color these in before baking.  Even though the pigment pads are thicker and take longer to dry, if you use a light hand when inking your stamp, I do like the color intensity better.  But experiement and see what you like better.

Homemade Butterfinger Bites

This recipe is all over the internet, and it is easy to make and surprisingly, does taste somewhat like a Butterfinger candy bar.  You can cover it with chocolate any way you choose, dipping each piece, or just covering it while inside a candy cup, which is what I did.  Its not pretty, but it was simple, and a sprinkle of crumbs ( of which you will have alot) covered up a few really ugly ones. 

Homemade Butterfinger Bites

1 lb candy corn
1 16 oz jar peanut butter (I used Smuckers Natural)
Chocolate candy coating

Melt the candy corn in the microwave, for 1 minute, then in 30 second intervals after that, stirring after each one.  When completely melted, stir in peanut butter.  I had to knead it with my hands, but wait until its cool enough to handle.  Be sure to incorporate the ingredients well, its important to the texture of the final product.  Press into an 8 x 8 or 11 x 7 parchment paper lined pan, and chill completely.

Lift out of pan, and slice into bars, then slice as big or small as you would like.  This will have lots of crumbs, to use a delicate hand when cutting, and just expect it to crumble.

Melt your candy coating, then dip or cover with chocolate as you choose.  If they are less than perfect, sprinkle a few crumbs on top and call it a day.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Have you ever...

just worked over and over in your mind, how to bring a concept to life?  You know it can be done, you've seen variations of it, but you wonder, can "I" do it?

I have finally finished one set of gifts for my friends.  It is a needle felted beehive pincushion.  I have seen something like these done, but I didn't really care for what I had seen, and couldn't find any instructions on them anyway.  So, DIY it was!  I didn't know how to needle felt, but I can pretty much teach myself anything, so I jumped in with both feet and vowed not to stop until I completed something to my satisfaction.  I will have you know I did several months of "mind construction" before I ever laid a hand to felt or wool, sometimes that's good, sometimes its just an excuse not to start.

But the funny part?  Once you start needle felting something with details, its hard to put it down.  Everytime you look at it, there is another place to smooth down, or fix etc.  I wasn't very happy with how it looked at the very beginning, basically it looked like a pile of yellow dog poop on top of a pincushion.  But after I needled it, and stitched a bit on it, then agonized half a day over the pull tab, voila! 

My picture is crappy, but I like to tell myself its much cuter in person.

I made the pins with Shrinky Dink plastic and a rubber stamp, very fun stuff that is!  I keep looking over my stamps and wondering if they would look good shrinky-dinked!  The pull-tab is two Just Another Button Company Buttons.  I know many of you are thinking, why didn't I just make a little bee?  I did, several iterations of bees, none of them looked right.  So after taking my irritation out on the dog and husband, I went prowling through my work room and decided that the buttons would do.

Its not perfect, but I like it, and I think my buddies will find it amusing.  I decided  it was safe to post this one as my friends might not be able to guess who this one is for.  As for the other gifts, well, they will be way too easy to guess!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I have been terrible!!  I haven't updated in quite a while, and there is a reason for that.  I am working on Christmas gifts, and all the recipients read my blog!!  The gifts would not be a surprise because they would all know EXACTLY who was getting what!  So, I promise, after I deliver these gifts, I will have quite a few posts detailing them, as most, if not all my gifts this year are hand-made.

So, Travis, here you go, an update!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles

I checked out Debbie Macombers Christmas Cookbook from the library.  Just out of curiosity, just to see if maybe there were some good Christmas recipes, cakes, breads etc.  Boy, was I surprised!  I found a recipe for Sesame Peanut Noodles, that is not only super easy, but quite tasty and quick, what a great easy dinner for when you just need something hot quick and delicious.

I am giving you the picture of ingredients, because, well, the actual sauce looks, well, like peanut butter sauce, I didn't have any peanuts or scallions to garnish, so I decided to omit the finished product picture.  Debbie Macomber's book didn't even have a picture!  If you don't have all the ingredient, just omit or improvise, taste and adjust.  It is a bit of a list, but substitue, make it your own!

Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles

Sauce ingredients:

1/2 c peanut butter
1/4 c soy sauce
2 tbsp warm water
1 tbsp peeled, chopped, ginger (I cheated and used jarred ginger)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp honey or brown sugar
1/4 - 1/2 tsp chili paste

1/2 lb vermicelli, linguine, or asian noodles of your choice
2 green onions, chopped
chopped peanuts, if desired

Cook pasta, rinse and drain, and place in bowl.  In a food processor or blender, process the first eight ingredients, until smooth.  If too thick, add a little more warm water.  Pour over noodles, sprinkle with onions and peanuts if desired.

I only used half the sauce, and I still have some leftover to use on a salad tomorrow!  Or, I have some chicken potstickers in mind that may taste really good with this poured over it.

I am so pleased to have found this recipe, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Gorgonzola and Caramelized Onion Pizza

There is a fabulous pizza joint my friend and Amy and I frequent.  Well, we frequent it only about once a month, but that's frequent for us!!  Anyway, Michaels Pizza has this wonderful menu item:  Sweet and Salty Pizza.  Its gorgonzola and pear or peaches, with just a little prosciutto, and is it fabulous!  I am pretty embarrassing to sit with when I eat it, quite often moans of gustatory pleasure sneak out, sounds that should never be heard outside of the bedroom, this pizza is that good.

Well, I had some gorgonzola in my fridge, some sweet red onions, and since it was pizza night, I decided to make myself a pizza that I liked.  I hoped it would turn out at least edible, I was very surprised that it was extremely tasty!  Yes, I will be making this pizza again!  I did choose to use convenience foods with this, but, feel free to use your homemade crust or sauce.  A fruity red wine went great with this pizza also!

Gorgonzola and Caramelized Onion Pizza

1 thin premade pizza shell (Boboli etc)
Gorgonzola cheese (amount is left to your discretion)
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp sugar
pizza sauce
mozzarella cheese

First caramelize the onion, in a small skillet, heat a little oil on med, add the onions.  When transparent and starting to brown, reduce to medium and sprinkle the sugar.  Stir often so they don't burn, keep an eye on them!  When brown and nearly done, turn heat to low and pour just a drizzle of honey over the onion.  Stir until the honey heats up and coats the onion.  Take off heat.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on your shell, add a light sprinkling of mozzarella, then evenly distribute your onions all over your pizza.  Pull chunks of gorgonzola off with your fingers and dot it all over the top of your pizza, add as much or as little as you like.  I baked mine in a 450 oven for about 7 or 8 minutes, until everything was melted and bubbly.  Remove from oven, let rest a few minutes, then enjoy!!

linked to:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Smoked Hog Jowls

Hog jowls, pre-cure, raw

So I had this wild hair about smoking my own hog jowls after seeing that Crooked Gap Farm had some available, and also, I found a package at my local grocery store and of course thought to myself, I can do that!  I have smoked porked bellies, and this was basically the same.

I purchased about 5 lbs of jowls, I had assumed that they would be in one whole half moonish piece, well, they were not.  Imagine my surprise when I opened the packages and realized I had a large pile of jowl pieces.  But, too late, already thawed them and had to do something, so in the usual Merry method, I just plowed on, damn the torpedoes! yadda yadda yadda...

My cure mix per pound was thus:

1 Tbsp Morton's Quick cure
1 tsp maple sugar (or use brown sugar)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 black pepper
1 tsp sea salt

After mixing the cure ingredients together and thoroughly coating each piece, I divided the lot and placed them in two gallon ziplocks and placed them flat in the fridge.  Since it was pieces, the curing would not take as long.  So everyday, for about 4 days, I turned each bag over, and well, I did massage them a little.

After 4 days, I rinsed them, fried up a little piece, and decided I needed to soak them in water a little to get rid of some of the saltiness.   After soaking a few hours, I drained them, blotted them with a paper towel, and left them out to surface dry while I got my smoker ready.  I chose not to let them dry overnight, and I thought it turned out fine.

My smoker is just the standard bullet style hot smoker, I started my fire, let it burn down, then added applewood chips to my smoke pan, I chose to dry smoke, as I didn't want to so much cook, basically to render down a bit and absorb the smoke.  I started with applewood chips, added applewood sticks to my coals whenever my heat started to fade, and chose to finish up with a little handful of hickory in the smoke pan, since these weren't going to smoke for a long long time.

It only took about 2-3 hours to smoke them to my satisfaction.  I did have to turn them frequently as the pieces are thin, and I didn't want them to cook, just to dry out and absorb some smoke flavor.

After smoking

After smoking, I placed them on a cookie sheet, not touching each other, and froze them so I could just pull out one piece at a time instead of having to thaw out and commit myself to using a whole bag.

So, how will I use these?  Well, some of the pieces are very much like pieces of ham, so I could fry those up for breakfast, but as I was smoking these, I thought a great way to use them would be for flavoring pieces.  Throw a piece in a pot of pinto beans or greens, or even a small piece in green beans as they are cooking.  Diced up small, and sauteed with an onion would be a great addition to your baked beans. 

But, by far, the best way I have used these was as a salad topping.  I prepared a green salad, adding a chopped up apple, and I made a simple honey mustard vinegrette.  I took one piece of frozen smoked hog jowl, chopped it up small, fried it, let it cool slightly and topped my salad.  Beats the heck out of that imitation bottle of bacon bits I can tell you!

Actually, any way that you use bacon as a flavoring agent, would be a good way to use these, and a bit more tasty as the pieces are thicker and have a more robust flavor than that piece of wimpy grocery store bacon.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Apple Butter Bread

So sorry for the absence!  I was getting ready for, then going on, a super-sized quilt shop hop.  We went to 12 shops in 6 states in 3 days, talk about power shopping!  But it was fun, and as an added gift with purchase, I also caught the bus trip crud, and spent the next week or so hacking and coughing.  But all is better now and I plan to post a bit more regularly!

I ran across this recipe at some point in the last week, and kept telling myself to give it a try, as I had a rather large jar of pumpkin apple butter that I needed to use, so today was the day.  I really enjoyed this quick bread made with my homemade pumpkin apple butter, but I think it would be equally delicious made with apple butter, or really any fruit butter you have on hand.  This is so tweaked about from the original recipe that it is now my own, so I won't even give you the original.

Apple Butter Bread

2 cups flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 stick butter, melted
3/4-1 cup apple butter
3/4 c buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients, then mix in wet ingredients.  Pour into a greased loaf pan, I had enough to also make a little mini loaf pan, bake for 1 hour 5 minutes, but check it near the end, as your oven may vary.  Cool in pan 10 minutes, then tip out and cool.

This would be a lovely tea bread, as it is not too sweet, and would be wonderful spread with a little of that cultured butter I know you all made!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cultured Butter

I have the most awesome, creative and inspiring friends!  This time it was Amy's fault for my current project.  She gifted me recently with a little tub of homemade cultured butter.  It was so so good!  I had stopped putting butter on my toast, and was using it judiciously for cooking, but not anymore.  This butter was butter on steroids, if you are using butter purely for its taste, like on toast and potatoes, use cultured butter!

Actually, making cultured butter is quite easy, albeit a bit messy, but no more so than regular butter and the flavor return is tremendous.

To begin, take two quarts of the best heavy cream you can find, but not ultra-pasturized.  Luckily I have a few very good local dairies and chose to use Sheeder Cloverleaf Dairy  because my favorite local grocery store carries it. By the way, their skim milk is divine, its like NOT drinking skim milk its so good! 

Mix your good heavy cream with a small container of yogurt, I chose to use a good greek yogurt, its the only one I could find for small plain unflavored yogurt.  Mix well, cover, and let sit overnight in a warm place.  I just put mine on my counter, it sat out about 12 hours or so.

After letting it sit out overnight, mix vigorously.  Amy said it won't take much mixing, but I have weak little arms and let my KitchenAid mixer and paddle attachment do the work.  Soon you will hear a sloshing and voila!  A large lump of butter will be sitting in buttermilk!  It didn't take much time at all!

Drain off the buttermilk, but keep it!  You can use it in biscuits, pancakes, and cornbread.  From 2 quarts of cream I was able to reap 1 quart of buttermilk, pretty good return!  Now put the butter in the refrigerator to let it firm up a bit and be easier to work.

After chilling for a bit, rinse and knead, then rinse and knead some more.  Your goal is to have your final rinse water very clear without a trace of cloudiness.  All the buttermilk needs to be rinsed out so your butter won't sour and taste bad.  I just kneaded it with my hands, and now my hands are literally buttery soft.

After kneading and rinsing very very well, you will now press out the water.  Using a rubber spatula, press and smooth the butter against the sides of the bowl and pour out any water that "weeps" out the butter.  Keep pressing and draining until no more water remains.  At this point, your butter is finished, or you can salt it using pickling salt or sea salt.  I chose to salt it.  Salting also may help the butter firm up a bit.

Years ago, I found a great carnival glass cow butter mold, on ebay.  I have had great luck finding good vintage items at reasonable prices on ebay, but I was probably just lucky and looking in the right place at the right time, but that's part of the charm of vintage, right?  I set the mold in one of the cream bottles to hold it while I filled it, then turned it over and set in on a saucer to firm up in the refrigerator.

The rest of the butter I put in little containers to give away.  This was really so simple, I may put into the regular rotation of kitchen chores along with canning, bacon curing and bread baking.

I do hope you will give this a try, I used 2 quarts of cream and made alot, and I'm sure it will keep well in the freezer.

Hearth & Soul Hop   

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Liver Love....

I haven't posted in weeks and all you get is a liver post?  Well for you non liver people, there's no picture!

I love liver and onions, unfortunately, my husband did not.  I didn't make this dish very often, but would try to order it whenever it appeared on a menu.

Until tonight.  This is my weekend to celebrate 47 years on earth and I decided I was going to have one of my favorite dishes.  This dish turned out so good my husband even asked if we could have it again sometime.

The liver was purchased from Ebersole Cattle Company, they are in my food coop and have some of the best beef I've ever had.  Plus Shanen is just a cool lady, she's petite, like me!

To prepare the liver, I rinsed it very well, trimmed any tough pieces(saved them for the dog), sliced it thin then soaked for a little bit in milk.  I let the liver soak while I prepared the onions and the rice.

1 lb beef liver
2 Vidalia onions
2 tsp sugar
salt (I used Sylvia's Soulful Seasoning)
1/2 c flour
lard or cooking oil
1/3 c water

Rinse, trim and slice the liver, soak in milk while you prepare the onions.

Slice the onions in half, then into very thin slices.  Melt a few tablespoons of butter in a pan and add onions.  When onions are limp, sprinkle with sugar and cook until they caramelize.

Drain liver well, salt and pepper, then toss liberally with flour until each piece is coated.  Remove onions when caramelized, and in same pan,  melt a few more tablespoons of butter and a tablespoon or two of lard, or use cooking oil over med heat.  When oil butter mixture is hot, add liver, cook until browned on one side then turn,  only turn once.  Return onions to pan with liver, when liver is just cooked, add water and let cook and bubble until a gravy forms.

Serve over steamed rice.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Birthday Macarons

Orange Flower Water with Vanilla Bean Buttercream filling
Lavender Vanilla Rose with Vanilla Bean Buttercream filling

Tomorrow I will meet my friend Kimber at our monthly Prairie Women's Sewing Circle and will begin celebrating her birthday early, she reads my blog so she won't be totally surprised, but of course, I will be bringing more than just macarons!

I decided to try some different flavors this time, orange flower water, or orange blossom and an extract I made of lavender, vanilla and rose.  I used a light hand with these flavorings, as too much floral flavor makes them taste like soap, or so my husband says.  The filling is a simple vanilla bean butter cream, so as not to distract or overpower the gentle macaron shell.

Macarons are not difficult, this is only the second time I've made them, and as you can see, they turned out pretty good.  As with anything, you only get better with practice.  Luckily for me I have several friends that love macarons and are more than happy to test!

Here are a few tips that have helped:

1.  Aged egg whites -  3 days prior, I cracked my egg whites into a little bowl, covered it, and kept it in the refrigerator until baking day. 

2.  Room temperature egg whites - several hours before baking, I took out the egg whites to allow to come up to room temp.

3.  Sifting the processed almonds and powdered sugar and discarding the 1/2 tsp or so of coarse almonds.

4.  Mixing everything correctly - Fold gently until the batter falls in a thick, smooth, satiny ribbon from your rubber spatula.  I have read everywhere to be careful not to overmix; only mix 30 strokes, etc etc.  Well, hrmph!  The lavender ones weren't lavender enough so I added a little more color after I supposedly mixed it correctly and had to mix it a whole bunch more.  Guess what?  They turned out just fine.  I think you can undermix more than you can overmix, but don't get all OCD about it, use your good cook's judgement.

5.  Letting them sit for at least 30 minutes before baking - this dries out the surface and helps that ruffley foot form, the sign of well made macaron, and that is our goal.  You should be able to touch the surface of one without anything sticking to your finger.  They can sit out longer than 30 minutes, but it doesn't help them anymore to leave out over an hour.

6.  Letting the filled macarons mature - Put your filled macarons in the refrigerator and let them age for 24-36 hours.  This allows the macaron to balance itself, and correct the texure.  I don't know all the scientific technical explanations, but its part of what helps your macaron taste like it was made by a professional :)

Floral Macarons

3/4 c finely ground almonds or almond flour
1 c powdered sugar
2 egg whites
1/4 c bakers sugar (very fine sugar, finer than table sugar but not powdered or confectioner's sugar)
1 tsp floral flavoring (orange flower water or lavender extract)
food color (1 drop each red, yellow for the pale peach) (2 drops each blue, red for the lavender)

Process together the ground almonds and powdered sugar to a very fine powder, sift into a bowl, then set aside.

Whip egg whites, add baker's sugar slowly,  add floral flavor, then add food color.  Start with one drop of each color and keep adding drop by drop until you are happy with the color. Whip to firm glossy peaks.  If you are using a Kitchenaid, this won't take long.
Add 1/3 of almond mixture and with a rubber spatula, fold into the meringue, add next third after fully incorporating, then the last third.  Keep folding gently until the mixture falls in a thick, satiny ribbon from your spatula.

Use a large round tip in your pastry bag and fill with meringue mixture.  Pipe small circles onto a   flat, parchment lined cookie sheet, leaving one inch space between each one.  Tap gently on the counter to flatten any bubbles, and let sit for at least 30 minutes, meanwhile, heat your oven to 325 degrees.

Bake one sheet at a time for 9 - 12 minutes.  Around the 9 minute mark, check them, they should have formed a foot, touch the top,  if they are firm and not wiggley, cook one more minute, then remove sheet from oven, let cool.  Do not brown, but only you know your oven, so check them often at the 9 minute mark.  When baking the second sheet, keep a close eye on them as the second sheet might cook a little faster and you may have to remove them a minute sooner.

Let them cool on the parchment paper, then gently remove, use an offset spatula if necessary.  Let them cool completely before filling.  The unfilled shells can be frozen!  Then you can magically produce macarons anytime to the amazement of your family and friends.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Filling

1 vanilla bean's worth of scraped vanilla seeds
1 stick butter, softened, room temp
powdered sugar
vanilla extra if desired
pinch of salt

Split and scrape down the length of a vanilla bean, put the seeds in mixing bowl.  Add butter and pinch salt and cream together, slowly add powdered sugar, and whip until fluffy.  Taste and add vanilla extract, this just smooths and rounds out the flavor.  Keep adding sugar until the filling is to the consistency you like.  Spoon into a pastry bag, and pipe onto wrong side of macaron shell, top with another shell.

Let your filled macarons mature in the refrigerator.  I usually allow the filling to set, then put them in whatever container I am gifting them in, and stow in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

Allow chilled macarons to come up to room tempurature before eating.  Or not, if you can't wait :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Vintage Tea Pot Basket

I was looking through one of my cookbooks, and it had a chapter on picnics.  One of the picnics was a fall picnic and it had these neat basket that nestled and insulated a tea pot!  I thought how cool!  I didn't know what it was called, didn't know how to search for it.  So time passed and I forgot about it.  Then one day on Ebay, I accidently came across the basket, how I do not know!  Some baskets offered were antique, some vintage, some in good shape and a few in bad.  I finally came across one that was in good shape and affordable, and now its mine.  I just love this precious basket, tea pot and cups. 

Isn't the lining pretty, and everything just nestles so neat and sweet?

I am envisioning meeting my friends in the park on a pretty fall day, stitching, knitting and drinking tea in the autumn sunshine.  Wouldn't that be fun?  Hmmmmm, maybe I should start planning a fall picnic tea party with Kimber and Belinda!

Jam in Vintage Canning Jars

I scored some great vintage jelly jars on Ebay, and took for granted that I would be able to find lids to fit.  I had read online where the large mouth lids fit just right, so I thought I would take a chance.  Of course, I had the jars where the large mouth lids DID NOT fit.  Then I thought some other kind of lids would fit, no dice.  How could I use these?  Where would I find some lids?  So I did a little research about these jars, and what lids were originally used.  These are vintage Kerr jelly jars with the tin lids.  Originally used with paraffin, then topped with the tin lids.  Well, well, well, where would I find tin lids?  And isn't paraffin sealing greatly frowned upon in the canning community?  Holy cow!  I have 16 jars!  I can alot, and just couldn't stand to have these adorable jars not perform their original purpose.

So, I decided that I would make refrigerator jam, no need to water bath, but again how to lid these things?  I gave in and decided to use paraffin.  Vintage jars, vintage sealing technique, and we will just let it go at that.  These jams will be stored in the refrigerator and eaten fairly quickly, so I won't be breaking any canning laws.

I used my raspberry-rhubarb jello recipe for these.  I received very good reviews from friends so I figured they would not mind having some again.  This recipe is so very easy, its almost idiot proof.  If you are new to canning, and don't want to invest alot of money and time, this is the perfect recipe to try, especially if you have some rhubarb hanging around in the freezer.  You don't have to use paraffin to seal them if you don't choose, just use lids and rings, since these are going in the fridge to keep, it really doesn't matter how you top them.

Raspberry Rhubarb Refrigerator Jam

5 c chopped rhubarb
1 - 1 1/2 c raspberries
3 c sugar
1 large box raspberry jello
2 blocks paraffin (Gulf Wax)

Mix together rhubarb and sugar and let sit overnight out on the counter.

Next day, before cooking jam, place a pyrex measuring cup in a pan of water, just so the bottom touches the surface of the water, put two blocks of paraffin in the cup, and bring water to boiling.  These should be melted by the time your jam is ready to put into the jars.

Cook rhubarb and sugar and bring to boil, add raspberries and let boil 12 minutes stirring constantly.  Take off heat and pour into clean hot jars.

When paraffin has melted, pour on top of jam in jars, pour slowly, the wax is hot!  Put about an 1/8 of an inch layer on top jam, ensuring it reaches the edges.  Let sit until it has cooled and turns white.  Then pour another very thin layer on top again, making sure it reaches all the way to the edge.  Let cool until white, and store in refrigerator.

To use, just push on one side of the wax disc, and it should pop up. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Its so chard....Swiss Chard!

You will need:

1 small  potatoes, diced small

1/4 small cippolini onion, diced small

2-3 or more leaves Swiss Chard, sliced thin
2 eggs

2 slices bacon, diced

1 clove garlic, finely diced (optional)

1 large La Tortilla Factory Wheat Tortilla (10 grams of fiber, you need this!)
Shredded Gouda, Cheddar or Goat Cheese crumbles - a few tablespoons

Cook the bacon about halfway, until it starts to let loose its lardy goodness, then toss in the onions and potatoes. Stir and let this cook until the potatoes soften and begin to brown. Toss in the garlic and swiss chard, stir and cook until the swiss chard is as soft as you like and the potatoes are browned. Crack in the two eggs. For sunny side up, cover pan and turn off heat, let sit until eggs are to your liking. For scrambled, make a well in the middle if the pan, crack in the eggs, stir and scramble until you are satisfied.

Place the tortilla on a plate, sprinkle on the cheese then place the potatoe mixture on the cheese. Roll, or eat open face and enjoy!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Summer Jams

Blueberry, Strawberry, Peach, Apricot Jalapeno and Strawberry Jalapeno

I do most of my jam making in the summer, as most people do, when fresh fruit is at it prime.  But, the above jams were made with fruit that I had frozen, and even some peppers that I had frozen from my garden last year, and no, time did not dull their sting!

I wanted to try to make an apricot jam using dried apricots, since, in my opinion, we do not get good apricots or peaches here in Iowa.  I may be mistaken, but I have yet to find a native grown apricot or peach that tastes good here, and the grocery store fruits?  Forget it, waste of time and money!
So I gave this apricot jalapeno jam a try.  I definitely used too much jalapenos, plus I left the seeds in, so my batch is burning hot, but real chile heads might really appreciate the flaming heat. 

Apricot Jalapeno Jam

1/2 c finely chopped jalapenos (use more or less, leave seeds in for more heat)
2 c chopped dried apricots
2 c cider vinegar
6 c sugar
3 oz liquid pectin

Combine peppers, apricots, sugar and vinegar in a large non-reactive pan, bring to boil, skim foam, cook until apricots are tender.

Allow to cool 2 minutes, mix in pectin, stir well, pour into jars, seal and water bath process 10 minutes.

For the strawberry jalapeno jam, I wanted to use that flex batch pectin, the one where you only use the amount you need for the amount of fruit you have.

Strawberry Jalapeno Jam

4 cups total of crushed strawberries and jalapeno peppers (1/2 c peppers is very hot!)
7 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp cider vinegar (because I ran out of lemon juice!)
5 c sugar
4 1/2 tbsp flex batch classic pectin

Combine berries, peppers, lemon juice, vinegar and pectin, mix well and cook on high to a rolling boil, add sugar and once again cook to a rolling boil, boil hard for 1 minute and take of heat.  Skim foam.  Pour into jars, seal and water bath process for 10 minutes.

The rest of the jams are just classic powdered pectin recipes for blueberry, strawberry and peach.  The blueberries were picked at a local berry farm, and the peaches are from Georgia, ordered for me by that same berry farm, and they were the juiciest, sweetest, biggest peaches I ever had the privilege to have.   Happily, all my jars jelled and sealed!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cutie Pies

How cute are these little pies in mason jars?  I have seen these little pies everywhere and I had to try it.  I love the little lattice tops, so cute!!  These are blueberry pies, I made them to give to a friend.  I will freeze them so she can enjoy them whenever she has the inclination.   You can bake them straight from the freezer or thaw overnight in the fridge.   What a wonderful to have pie without committing to the whole thing at once!  I made these in the 1/2 pint wide mouth jars, but I had a little filling leftover and made a 1/2 c regular mouth jar pie too, its really little and cute!!  But what a great way to portion control, no cheating, no going back for one more sliver, no cutting a huge slice and telling yourself its a normal portion size!!
There is nothing special about these, use your usual crust recipe, you don't even have to roll out the inside of the jar part of the dough, it works better if you just press chunks of it all over the sides and bottom.  Roll out the top and make a lattice, or using the jar ring as your guide, cut out a solid top, and use a mini cookie cutter to make a vent hole.  The first lattice I made, I wove it right on the jar.  The second lattice I wove on the flat lid, then slipped it onto the jar, much much easier that way.  Use your favorite fruit filling recipe, and you could also do the streusal crumb topping if you would like, these truly can be as personal as you want!   How sweet would these be for a picnic or brunch, you could even make them into quiches!  Now that would be the perfect brunch picnic!

Friday, July 1, 2011

I'm Freezing!!!

Since acquiring a deep freeze and a toaster oven, I've fallen in love with stockpiling a variety of small quick treats to warm, bake or toast up in my cute new toaster oven.
So I did a test run on homemade hotpockets, biscuits, mini lasagne, cinnamon rolls and petite apple pies.   I took the opportunity every time my husband opened his mouth, to stuff it full of one of these treats.  He approved! 

For the hotpockets and cinnamon rolls, I decided to use my wheat bread dough recipe.  Its just sweet enough for the cinnamon rolls, but not so sweet that it would be distracting in the hotpockets.  I doubled my recipe  and was able to get 3 pans of cinnamon rolls (5-6 each pan), and 8 hotpockets.  For the hotpocket filling, I just decided to go with what I know he likes, I sliced up polish sausage and added cheddar cheese and a slice of american cheese.  I know I know, terrible nutrition  but I did use a reduced fat cheddar cheese.  I also made a ham, brocolli and cheese batch, at least it has a green veggie in it!  The hotpockets were baked at 350 until browned, about 30 minutes, cooled completely before freezing.  These heated up fantastic in the toaster oven.

Hot Pockets -
Dough ingredients: (for one batch/loaf, just double it for two)
1 1/2 cups white wheat flour
1 1/4 cup white flour
1 c warm water
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp oil
3 tbsp dough enhancer (optional)
2 tsp instant yeast

With the warm water already in your mixing bowl, add the salt, oil, honey and dough enhancer, mix well.  Sprinkle yeast on top of mixture, saturating yeast well, let bubble and foam, then add flour and mix until forms a ball.  Knead with dough hook 8 minutes, or knead by hand for about 15 minutes.
Let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, punch down and roll out to approx. 19  x 13 rectangle (cause thats how big my dough board is) and cut into 8 squares.  Place your fillings in the center of each square, I may have used a generous 1/3 cup of filling per pocket.  Fold the corners of the square to the center, then start mushing the folds together to enclose the filling completely.  Then gently start elongating the package into the approximate shape of a commercial hot pocket.  Put seam side down on a greased baking sheet, repeat for rest of dough.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned.  Cool completely, package in freezer bags, I was able to get two per quart size bag.  Don't forget to label the bag of the pocket's filling.  I have not tried to reheat these from frozen, but in the thawed state, 15 minutes at 400 in the toaster oven did just fine.  Watch the last 5 minutes to keep from getting two brown.

Merry Cinnamon Rolls
Use the above dough recipe
Filling ingredients:
1 stick butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 cardamon

Mix above filling ingredients together.

After dough has risen in a warm place for one hour, punch down and roll out to approx 19 x 13 rectangle, and spread butter on rectangle, and sprinkle combined filling ingredients evenly over buttered dough.  Starting on the long end, roll as compactly as you can, enclosing filling.  Cut into even rounds, and place them in greased pans, you decide how big or how many to fit into your pans.  Let rise until double, then bake 350 for about 30 minutes, check on them in the last 5 minutes.  Or let rise then freeze.  Thaw overnight in fridge then bake 350 for 30 minutes approximately.

For the icing, I just mixed together powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and enough milk to make it loose and spreadable.  Some people ice their rolls hot, some wait until they cool.  Personally, I believe you should do both.  Put a nice coating on while hot, let it melt into the rolls, then when they cool, give them another coat.  But thats just me.  My husband would like them iced twice with a bowl of additional icing to dip each bite into.  I also think these would taste good with a maple icing, just switch out the vanilla for maple flavoring.  I suppose you could make the icing ahead of time and tape it to the frozen rolls, thawing both out at the same
time, that would be the best time saver.

Mini Apple Pies
The apple pies were pretty easy to do also, I made a batch and a half of pie dough.  I just estimated the half part, I didn't get scientific about it.  I had a dozen shallow 4 inch tart pans, and just lined them with pie dough and used my standard recipe for apple pie filling, chopping the apples into a small dice.  For the top of the pie, I used a cookie cutter and cut out the top,  and used a smaller cutter to cut a hole in the middle.  I did not overfill these, as I didn't want a mess in my toaster oven when I baked them later. Next time I may do a lattice top, cause those are so cute!   These were frozen unbaked, before topping, I did put a small pat of butter on top of the filling.

Pie Crust
1 stick butter, cold in pieces
3/4 c lard, cold in pieces
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp approx ice cold water

6 apples, mix of granny smith, golden delicious, pink lady etc., peeled, sliced, cored and diced small
1 c sugar
1/2 c honey
1/4 c cornstarch
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom
pinch salt

 1stick butter,  sliced into 12 pieces

Place flour, salt, butter and lard in food processor.  Process in pulses until the fats are incorporated into the flour.  Add the water 1 tbsp at at time, giving a short pulse after each addition, process until the flour just pulls together and forms a ball.  Divide the dough in half, wrapping each with wax paper or plastic wrap.  Flatten each out into a disk, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Mix together all the filling ingredients, except the butter.

Roll out one disk of dough, using your tart pan as a guide, cut out a circle of dough and place it in pan.  Do this for each tart pan.  Tidy up the edges of dough in the tart pans, then fill with apple filling mixture, top each with a pat of butter.

Roll out the second disk of dough, incorporate any scraps from first disk.  Using a cookie cutter, cut out the tops for the tarts, in the center of each top, cut out another hole, this will keep the filling from bubbling out.  Place tops on tarts, ontop of butter pat.  Place these on a cookie sheet, and freeze.  After tarts are frozen, I put these in a large freezer container, separating each layer with wax paper.

You can bake these from a frozen state, or thaw in fridge first.  These took about 30 minutes at 400 in a toaster oven.  If thawed, then the bake time will be less.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fairy Cookies

I wish I had come across this recipe last week before my girlfriends and I had our tea, these would have been perfect! If you are looking for a slightly sweet, delicate cookie, a very girlie girl cookie, then you must try these fairy cookies.

I had never heard of them before, but after doing a search online, discovered there are many iterations, and this is but one of them. I am using the Lemon Fairy Cookie recipe from Kristin's Domestic Diva School, with my own variation on the buttercream frosting. I thought raspberry would be a nice flavor to pair up with these, but I didn't have any raspberry flavoring, so I used the next best thing, raspberry-rhubarb jam that I made that was in the fridge. I made sure I blended it very well so any junks of berry and rhubarb were indistinguishable and it was smooth enough to flow through a 22 tip. I also used a homemade extract of lavender and vanilla, with rosewater, so there is a very subtle floral undertone, but plain vanilla would be just fine, or none at all, let your taste and jam variation be your guide. Also, you don't have to pipe these or use a cookie gun, you can just roll them into a ball and dent the middle before baking, but I thought using a large star tip made them girlier.

Merry Fairy Cookies

1 c butter, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon extract
3/4 c cornstarch
1 c flour

Cream the butter and powdered sugar together until fluffy, blend in the zest and lemon extract. With mixer on low, add the the cornstarch and then the flour, mixing until well blended.

Put into piping bag, or cookie press, and pipe onto parchment covered baking sheet. Bake 9-11 minutes in preheated 375 oven. Cookies should barely be golden around edges. Let cool completely on sheet before removing, these cookies are delicate! When completely cooled, move to serving plate, and pipe with frosting.

Raspberry Buttercream

1/4 c softened butter
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp lavender-vanilla-rosewater extract (or vanilla)
1-2 tbsp jam

Cream butter and sugar, add extract, then jam. Blend on high until fluffy and well blended. Pipe onto cooled cookies with a #22 tip.

Come over and visit the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Swiss Chard Gouda Quiche

This post is linked to

I love making a dish with whatever I have on hand. If it calls for spinach but all I have is swiss chard, guess what I use? Same with cheese, gouda instead of cheddar or swiss? Why not? Go for it!!

Swiss Chard Gouda Quiche

Pastry for a single-crust 9-10 inch deep dish pie
1 bunch onion, chopped
1 bunch swiss chard, stems removed and chopped
1 1/2 cup shredded Gouda cheese
8 bacon strips, diced
5 eggs
2 cups half-and-half cream, or 1 can condensed milk (I've even been successful using Land O'Lakes Fat Free half and half)
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Saute bacon in pan until crisp, remove and drain. Add onions, red pepper flakes and chard to skillet and saute until cooked.
Whisk together eggs, cream or milk and seasonings. Sprinkle cheese and bacon in pie plate and add egg/milk mixture.
Bake for 45 - 55 minutes, until center is set. If sides begin to brown to much, cover crusts with ring of foil. Let rest a few minutes before cutting.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Homemade Frozen Pizza

In the interest of helping my husband and myself eat healthier, but not get bored or bogged down in the chore of it, I decided to start making homemade frozen pizza. Not a new idea for anyone, but we certainly like my pizza alot better than any other frozen brand or even delivery, and I'm certain its more healthy.

The Dough:
1 1/2 c warm water (100-110 degrees)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp dough enhancer recipe (or omit, your choice)
4 1/2 tsp yeast
2 1/2 c white flour
2 c white wheat flour (King Arthur brand)
olive oil
garlic salt

Mix the water, oil, honey, salt, dough enhancer, and yeast together until yeast is thoroughly moistened and foamy.

Add to the flours and stir until shaggy and forms a ball. Using a dough hook, knead for 12 minutes.

Let rise in a greased bowl in a warm place one hour, or until doubled.

Punch down and divide dough into four portions. Spread dough into a 9" x 13" tin foil pan, spread evenly and up the sides. This recipe will make 4 pans, 9 x 13 size. Spread oil on the outside crusts only and sprinkle with garlic salt.

Bake for 5 minutes in a 450 degree oven. Remove, let cool before adding sauce and cheese.

After adding sauce and cheese, double wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.

To bake, thaw overnight in refrigerator and bake at 450 for 13 minutes, if frozen, bake time will be longer, but bake until cheese is melted and bubbling in the center of pizza.

Sauce Recipe
1 lb ground turkey
large pizza sauce, spagetti sauce or tomato sauce and sloppy joe seasoning
8 slices bacon, chopped and sauteed
1/2 lb shredded part skim lowfat mozzarella cheese

Saute turkey until cooked, add pizza sauce, or use tomato sauce and sloppy joe seasoning or a can of Manwich.

Let cool before spreading on par-baked pizza crust. After spreading on crust, scatter bacon over pizzas (4 pizzas).

Scatter cheese over 4 pizzas. Bake in 450 degree oven for 13 minutes, or double wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for later.

Linked to Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, come over!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rose and Lemon Creme Macarons - French Style!

This week I had the wonderful opportunity to make french style macarons for my dear friend Kimber. She really does love them, and I hoped my paltry attempt would be at the least, edible. Well it was! Not nearly as hard as I had thought they would be, so it goes to show, don't believe the hype, ignorance is bliss, just go for it!

Rose and Lemon Creme Macarons
For macarons:
3/4 c ground almonds
1 c powdered sugar
2 large egg whites
1/4 c superfine or bakers sugar
1/2 tsp rosewater
1/8 tsp rose paste*(found in asian food stores)
red food color if necessary

Place ground almonds and powdered sugar in food processor and process until very very fine. Sift into bowl. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Place the egg whites in large bowl and whip until holding soft peaks, gradually add in superfine sugar to make firm, glossy meringue, beat in rose paste and rose water, add food coloring if necessary to reach YOUR ideal shade of pink.

Using a mixing spatula, fold the almond mixture in a third at a time. When all dry ingredients are thoroughly combined, continue to cut and fold the mix until it forms a shiny batter with a thick ribbon like consistency. This is very important, under mix and it won't have that smooth top and frilly foot when baked. Over mix and it won't hold its shape at all.

Pour batter into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" round plain tip. Pipe 32 small circles onto the prepared cookie sheets. TIP: trace with pencil a small circle 1 1/4 inch on the parchment paper, turn paper over and you have your guidelines for your circles.

Bang the sheets firmly on the counter to remove air bubbles. Let the macarons stand at room temperature 30-45 minutes, to let them dry out a bit, until the surface no longer sticks to your finger when touched. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Bake one sheet at a time in preheated oven for 10-13 minutes, cool 10 minutes. Carefully peel off parchment paper and let cool completely.

Rose Creme Filling
1/2 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
juice from one lemon
pinch salt

Cream butter and powdered sugar until fluffy, gradually at lemon juice and zest and salt. Put in piping bag and fill cooled macarons.

Unfilled macarons can be stored for a few days at room temperature or for a month in the freezer. Filled macarons should be stored in the fridge, allow to come to room temperature before serving.

As always, add flavorings and colors to your taste and desire, but always start out with a little, then taste and add more if necessary.

These were not hard, go for it, if it doesn't work, figure out where you went wrong and try again. Really, these were much much easier than people let on.

This is part of the Feed Me Tweet Me Follow Me Home Friday blog hop

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A perfect tea.....

Yesterday, my friends Kimber, Belinda and I, had our first annual Spring Tea. The theme seemed to be pink, which is one of our favorite colors. I love these friends, we can get together and be girly girl, and then go right to gardening, and then the nitty gritty side of their business.
Kimber had a beautiful table set for us, she has quite a collection of vintage and antique tableware, and she doesn't mind using it, my kind of lady! We chatted and visited, and ate lots and lots, in between all of that, we opened our gifts. We always bring each other little things, usually in keeping with the theme of whatever gathering we are having, or sometimes just because we want to!!
Kimber, the consumate hostess, she really is, made these lovely little party favors filled with vintage rick rack and laces and buttons, and gave each of us, a lovely vintage tea pot, in memory of our day together. Kimber also gave us one of the latest books she edited, one that Belinda had been drooling over for some time, Some Kind of Wonderful. This book is full of sewing and hand embroidery projects, lots of ideas for gifts. She really is most generous!!

Belinda made a wonderful button bag, using pretty button patterned fabric, and filled with buttons, all kinds! She just whipped it up, no pattern just her own amazing creativity.

Kimber provided the prettiest tea food, petit fours, pink sugar cookies, red velvet cake, pastel nonpareils, I was all over the cucumber watercress sandwiches - I was not lady like in my consumption of them! Of course, we had a wonderful selection of teas to choose from too!

I offered to make the main course, a gouda spinach quiche, fresh wheat bread loaf. Belinda made the best fruit salad I have ever eaten. She is the best at choosing the freshest fruits!!

Kimber loves macarons, french macarons. I had never made them before, so of course I considered this my next culinary challenge. I decided to make rose and lemon buttercream macarons, and happily they turned out very well!

The day was perfect, good friends and good food! I hope you all get a chance to experience your own wonderful tea with friends, so my challenge to you, get together with a few friends, make good food and spoil each other rotten with friendship!!