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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Two New Delightful Spring Cookbooks


I am totally thrilled - like mouth-watering-thrilled,
to be able to share two new cookbooks with you
this spring.  

As you know, I am a lover of cookbooks - 
well, cookbooks with great pictures!!  I have to
have great pictures to get me inspired to try a recipe,
and both of these new cookbooks from 
Harper Collins Publishing
had me at first glance.  Literally, my mouth was
watering and I was grabbing anything I could
to mark recipes that I wanted to try.  

I love to read cookbooks like a novel, but when I
am marking the recipes I want to make, you know
I am really excited.  

As I literally just got back from London and Paris,
(Hardly have had a chance to unpack yet!)
I decided to try this chocolate packed croissant
bread pudding.

Of course, every day in Paris (and London)
saw us having croissants and chocolate.  I have
to admit that the absolute best croissant we had
was in London, at one of the train stations, and
it was split open and filled with Nutella.  So
this recipe caught my eye, and let me tell you,
it doesn't disappoint.


I felt like I was somewhere in Europe, having 
the perfect breakfast!!

I am sure, this is meant more as a dessert, but
I think bread pudding with croissants, chocolate
and more chocolate is perfect for breakfast.


This recipe comes from The Quick Six Fix
by
Stuart O'Keefe.

Stuart grew up in Ireland and his new cookbook,
which makes you want to head to the kitchen,
is based on six minutes of prep work,
six minutes of cleanup, and six key ingredients.

I don't know about the six minutes of cleanup,
I will leave that for hubby to take care of,
but the recipe went together really easily.


The only thing I had to go to the store for,
was the package of croissants, (and I checked to make
sure they were made with real butter - not some fake
nasty stuff!)

I raided the pantry for chocolate that I had on hand,
so I combined some Godiva and Amano and
chopped it up for the chocolate.

Chunk heaven!!!

It was worth using good chocolate in this.

Black and White Croissant Bread Pudding Recipe

1 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 medium eggs, plus 3 additional yolks
1 C heavy cream
1 C. whole milk
1/2 C. plus 1 T. light brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
5 one-day-old croissants
(I bought little ones and used 12 of them)
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips (70% cacao)
5 oz. white chocolate chips
1 C. creme fraiche or whipped cream (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter the bottom of a
9x5x3 inch baking dish.  (I opted for spraying with Pam.)

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks, cream and milk,
and the brown sugar and vanilla.

Tear up the croissants and mix with the egg mixture
until well combined.

Spoon half of the egg croissant mix into the baking dish,
sprinkle with half of the dark and white chocolate.  Top
with the remaining croissant mix and sprinkle the
remaining dark and white chocolate on top.  Finish
by sprinkling the remaining 1 T. brown sugar
on the top.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes (I did 20)
or until firm to the touch.  

Remove from oven.  Serve with a dollop of cream.


This was amazing!  I still have a few pounds to take
off from two weeks in Europe, and shouldn't have
been indulging, but I couldn't stop eating this.  Wow!

I highly recommend this cookbook.  I want
to make a lot more of the recipes like:
Thirteen Spice Chicken with Creme Fraiche
Pork Curry in a Hurry
Stuart's Irish Yankee Mac and Cheese
Angel Hair with Lemon, Kale and Pecans
and
Jumbo Shrimp Roll with Spicy Chile Butter


(Picture from cookbook)

Can you see why I am excited about this book?
The recipes not only sound fabulous, there are
gorgeous photos that make you have to try them.

Now on to the cookbook that I need to focus on
while I take those few pounds off!

The second cookbook Harper Collins sent
me to review is,
Lose Weight by Eating,
by
Audrey Johns.

Audrey has a blog by the same name, and
now has a cookbook showing you how you can
be successful at losing weight by eating delicious
foods.  

She says in her introduction, "This book is all
about making the naughty nice."

Let me tell you, her pictures and recipes were 
just as mouth-watering, and I was marking just
as many recipes to try in her book.


We ate at a wonderful Italian restaurant while we
were in Paris, so I was craving Italian when I 
came home.  I decided to try these Meatball Sliders,
featured in Lose Weight by Eating for part of an
Italian feast for our Sunday dinner.  

Of course, being a good cook, I had to have one ahead
of time.  Fantastic!!  So of course, hubby had to try
one before the kids came.  Hands down, this was a hit
and they were the first dish to disappear.

I hadn't cooked with ground turkey in a long time.
and it was delicious, and made such a moist, tasty
meatball.  I can't wait to try more of Audrey's 
recipes.  She gives you menu ideas and includes
the calories, fat, fiber, protein and carb information.

I also had never cooked my meatballs in the sauce before
and I loved the ease of that, especially using low fat turkey.
They were so moist and delicious.


These were amazing, and a huge hit with all ages!

Audrey will motivate you to make great food
while you lose weight with recipes like:
Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup,
Rosemary Olive Oil Wheat Crackers,
Pear, Rosemary and Goat Cheese Pizza
Jalapeno Poppers with Cool Dip
Citrus Boost Water
and
Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes.


(Picture from cookbook.)

I have already picked up the ingredients for these
Jalapeno Cheddar Scones, that I want to try.

I am thrilled with both cookbooks, and I
know you will be too.  Both can be found
on Amazon for around $15-16.

A thank you to Harper Collins Publishing
for sending me these beautiful cookbooks
filled with mouth-watering pictures of
recipes that I think you will love.










Monday, May 16, 2016

Baked Brie with Bruleed Pears and Candied Pecans



Have you ever had an experience when someone asks you
to make a recipe that they think you have made before, and
you don't have that recipe in your arsenal?  

Well, that just happened to me.  My friend asked me to make
my Brie with sugared pears, and I asked if she meant my
that I serve with sugared pears, and she said that wasn't
the one.  I think she must have remembered something
that someone else had made, but maybe I could come
up with something to please her for her luncheon.


I decided that I wanted to use my torch to brulee the pears
rather than broil or bake them, or pan fry them.  


I have actually had my little kitchen torch for a long time,
but I couldn't get it to fill.  My son in law was over, and I
knew that he could figure it out, and he did!  Hooray!!!
Wish I would have asked ages ago, and I do mean ages!




With the soft textures of the warm cheese, and the bruleed pears,
I wanted a little crunch, so I added sugared pecans - so, so easy,
and the perfect touch.


Start by removing the top rind, and poking holes
with a fork.


Cover the top of the Brie with brown sugar,


then bake until the Brie is soft and runny. 
 See how that sugar has melted
and run down into the holes?  Wow!!


Then ripe Bartlett pears are dipped in sugar and placed
in a fan shape on top of the baked brie.


The pears are now caramelized and lightly cooked from
the torch.  The finishing touch is topping it with sugared pecans.

To tell the truth, I was tempted to just do my Brie en Croute,
but when she had said that wasn't the one, I was glad I played
around and came up with a new idea.  Everyone wanted to just
eat the appetizer and never move on to the main dish (although
that was fantastic too!)  Four of us ate the whole thing!  I am
making it again for Mother's Day dinner.  It is so simple, yet
fabulous.

Baked Brie with Bruleed Pears and Candied Pecans

6 inch wheel of Brie
1-2 T. brown sugar
2 ripe Bartlett Pears
1/4 C. white sugar

2 C. pecans
1/2 C. white sugar
1/4 C. water

1 baguette, cut, and toasted

Heat oven to 350.

With a sharp knife, remove the top of the Brie.  Poke the
Brie with a fork, and spread the brown sugar on the top of
the cheese.  Place the cheese in an ovenproof dish.  (I put
a piece of parchment paper under it, which you can see
in the picture, but I wouldn't do that again.  It made it
hard to cut the cheese into wedges.)

Bake for 15 minutes.  The cheese should be soft and melted.

While cheese is baking, place the 1/2 C. white sugar in a frying
pan with the 1/4 C. water.  Bring it to a boil and add the pecans.
Stir constantly.  The syrup will boil and get thick and all of
a sudden the moisture will all boil out, and it will turn sugary.
Pull it off the heat, and pour onto a piece of tinfoil.  Break
the clumps apart while they are hot.

When the cheese is melted, remove from the oven and 
top with sliced pears that have been dipped into the 1/4 C.
white sugar.  Use a kitchen torch to brulee the sugar on
the pears. 

Top with the pecans, and serve warm with toasted baguette.

You can also serve with additional sugared pears.

Mix 1 T. powdered egg white with 2 T. cool water.  Whisk
until smooth.  Paint the egg white on a clean, ripe pear.  Sprinkle
white sugar over the surface.  Set aside until the egg white dries.




This one will wow everyone, and it is so super simple.
We all fell in love with it!




Monday, May 9, 2016

Best Tea in London - On A Vintage Bus


Welcome to afternoon tea in London!  This had to be
the best food I have ever had at high tea, and the
most fun I have ever had (and I have been to some fun teas!)


Our tea takes place on a vintage double decker bus,
boarding right off Trafalgar Square.  


Imagine how enchanted we were as this 1960's bus
rolled around the corner to pick us up.  Talk about
making you excited that you had picked this excursion.
It was tea plus a bus tour of the major attractions in London.


And as we walked on the bus, our table was
all set and ready to go.



The inside of the bus has been redone with classic vinyl seats,


and funky, girly tables and decor.



Our places were set with hot pink napkins and silver flatware
with vintage plates.  The lemon meringue tarts were on each
plate as we sat down.



 Each individual had a different vintage
china plate.



A darling book was at each table of two or four
to tell you about all of the sites we were going to see.





The table was filled with the most scrumptious
sandwiches and pastries.  They are all made by
BB Bakery, so every bite was fantastic.


Of course we had traditional cucumber sandwiches, but
made with their homemade bread.


with quiche and smoked salmon and cucumber blinis, 



along
with a tomato bread and a chicken sandwich that was 
everyone's favorite.



This was not a skimpy tea like some!
We couldn't finish all of the food,
and they had orange juice in cup holders
on the table, they took your order for tea - I chose
peppermint, and they also offered us water.



Each of the delectable sweets were made with real
cream and were fantastic.


 A few days later, we ran across BB Bakery.
It was just as charming.



Look at their gorgeous florals in the windows,
and notice the little creamer filled with
French Macarons at the bottom.



This is another floral, made of pastries with
a couple of tea cups tucked in!

Simply darling.


I would highly recommend this tea experience,
or just stopping at BB Bakery!  We all felt like
it was one of the highlights of our London experience.

I will be posting this with

Monday, May 2, 2016

Happy Mother's Day in London and Paris


Happy Mother's Day!
We are celebrating a week early as we will be
in London, and then off to Paris, so when I 
saw this cake on Pinterest, I had to have my
friend Annie make me one for our Mother's Day
dinner.  


This table is all pretty, feminine and French
to celebrate three generations of mothers,
and another generation coming up.


My daughter and I made French macrons in
the colors of the cake, and I found enough of these
adorable mini cupcake pedestals for the whole
table at Stein Mart.



 The cake starts with a scooter parked by
a lamp post, with a pink striped hat, purse, fresh
flower bundle and a tiny macaron.  More fresh flowers
are ready to take home to my Paris apartment, on  the
front of the scooter.


Surrounding the cake are famous Parisian icons.






The table is set up in the living room with
18 chiavari chairs.  The table is covered with
a cream pinch pleated tablecloth and 
French script runners.  The chairs are
tied with netting and topped with pink peonies and roses.





My white crown plates are layered under the new
cupcake pedestals.


I let some beautiful roses dry naturally, and they
fill little creamers on the table.

The other new item on the table is one of
my Mother's Day gifts, rose gold flatware.



Lucious Pink Brazilian Fruit Punch drinks
line up down the table.


The French Macarons are filled with
Amaretto, Princess Cookie, and Nutella Cream.




We are seated on The Great Hall again, and all of the
goblets are from Dollar Tree, so that the grandkids can
freely drink from them.


Everyone has a handmade cookie on their pedestal.



I also got an edible printer for Mother's Day and these are the first ones
that I have tried.  It worked beautifully.


The images were free from
A Night Owl.  It worked like a dream.  I
will blog about it when I get back.


The edges were dusted with disco dust.


Setting the table, and having my bags packed,
has got me all excited.  I am also wondering
if having Mother's Day one week early isn't
a great idea, when there are so many mothers'
homes to go to.


The hit will be the cake Annie made for me!


I lost my mother 26 years ago to cancer, when I was a young
mother.  It was a very hard thing, but I think she would love
being invited to sit down to this table to celebrate the
love we share for mothers everywhere.

One of my best "mothers" wasn't even a mother herself,
my aunt, but she mothered all 17 of us nieces and nephews
and let us have opportunities that our parents couldn't give
us.  I honor her on Mother's Day too!


Share the love this Mother's Day.

 I will be posting this with

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