Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks...

Happy Thanksgiving Friends! I like to maintain a heart of gratitude always but there is no denying the feeling of thankfulness that surrounds this time of year. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Mine is a family rooted in tradition (by that I mean, my family cringes and gets resentful when presented with any form of change). We eat at my parents house, my mother and father cook the exact same meal, every year, I bring exactly the same appetizers and desserts, every year, we gather at the same time and watch the same movie, every year (National Lampoons Christmas Vacation). After we are stuffed, napped and happy, we pour over "the ad's". Look out! We are girls who hit Black Friday with a vengeance (and coffees and smiles and excitement)... 5am-10pm, every year. We go shopping, all day, just the girls (men and children stay home to have "movie day" and veg all day, eating leftovers and watching as many movies as possible in the time we are gone). The upcoming 2 days are 2 of my happiest all year! I adore Thanksgiving! I love cooking, I love eating, I love recognizing where our blessings come from, I love my family, I love Chevy Chase, I love shopping for people I love, I love life! I love this blog and I wish you all a wonderful holiday weekend... thanks for spending time with me. I make a chocolate dessert every Thanksgiving (yes, I try a new one each year... but it's still chocolate). This is the one this year:

Chocolate Hazelnut Pie~

10 ounces room temp butter

1 1/2C powdered sugar
1/2C ground almonds
1/2t salt
1/2t vanilla
2 eggs
3 1/2C flour

Cream butter and add sugar and ground almonds. Mix in salt, vanilla and eggs. Add flour. Roll in plastic wrap and chill 4 hours. Roll out, weight and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool completely and cover bottom with 2/3C Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread).

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 1/2C butter (I KNOW!!! crazy!)
1 egg
3 egg yolks

4T sugar

Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl, over a pan of simmering water and cool to room temperature. Melt butter and set aside. Stir egg into chocolate then gently add yolks. Stir in the melted butter, then sugar. Pour over Nutella and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Cool completely.

Serve with a dollop of fresh cream.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cinnamon-Cocoa Macarons

So you joined MacTweets... now what? Well, you have to make macarons and actually post them (good, bad, ugly or footless). Let's start off with this: I am excited to be a part of this group. I attempted macarons once before and they were a joke... a pathetic joke. I wrote them off and swore to never try again. Enter Jamie (Lifes a Feast) and Deeba (Passionate About Baking ). They make lovely, dainty macs and they decided to share the love and knowledge with us... us sad mac-wishers who are alone and afraid out here. They generously gave tips and detailed explanations of mac making, they even enticed us all with a club. The idea is to join, learn, decide on a flavor and make your own macarons, then post about your experience, link to the mactweets site and share with others. I joined. I really want to get this mac thang down :) Was today a success? Was today a failure? I am going to sit, comfortably, in the middle... today was a so-so mac attempt and I will try again!

I decided to use the basic shell recipe and add cocoa. I filled the center with a cinnamon butter cream and snapped a few photos. Please be brutally honest and tell me what you think!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pioneer Woman visits SLC

Last week (Wednesday November 4) I had the privilege of attending a book signing for The Pioneer Woman's new cookbook 'The Pioneer Woman Cooks-Recipes From An Accidental Country Girl' at The Kings English Bookstore right here in Salt Lake City. It was quite an evening! Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) was speaking at The 15th Street Gallery at 7PM and signing books immediately following. Several of us Utah food bloggers made plans to show up early (we knew it was going to get crazy), get a spot in line, have some dinner and enjoy the evening. We met at 4pm and ended up being the first group in line! We decided to get take out from Mazza and had a picnic style dinner, together, on a blanket right in line (by the way... thank you Mazza for great service and excellent food!). Our dinner party consisted of Cristie from TheTableRunner (she's front right bottom corner in the green sweater) Maria from TwoPeasAndTheirPod (she's front left bottom corner in the black jacket and green shirt) Barbara from BarbaraBakes (she's upper left corner in the black coat) and myself (I'm upper right corner in the black sweater). We just noshed on a little appetizer sampler and sandwich while we waited happily in line and chatted with other girls anxiously awaiting Ree.
It started to get chilly! We were finally let into the gallery at 6:50PM and thrilled to be in the front row! The gallery was packed and busting at it's seams. Wall to wall women (with a few men sprinkled throughout) squeezing in as tightly as they could to hear this "accidental country girl" talk. Ree arrived and that room came alive! Women were whistling and screaming like mad! It was kind of funny but I am sure Ree is honored to have such a warm response from her readers. She spoke about 25 minutes, answered questions, told jokes, did impressions and entertained the crowd beautifully. She is a real jewel. She is sweet and confident but not in a self righteous, proud way... she is humble and gracious. I am in love with her cookbook (which made #1 on the New York Times Best seller's List! Woo-Hoo!... well deserved), I think she is a smart woman, a loving wife, a caring mother and a very down to earth fun person! I thoroughly enjoyed everything about her that night.

After she spoke, she made her way to the bookstore to sign books. We were all given tickets, while waiting in line so our group was allowed in first ("A" tickets). We all got our books signed, chatted with Ree and Missy a bit, snapped photos and had a nice time.
We were told that we would not be allowed to snap any photos with Ree, that there were too many people and there wasn't time. Ree took the time to stop, chat, sign books and take a photo with each and every person who had a camera. I thought that was very kind and speaks volumes for her character. She really is a sweetie!

After the signing, Barbara and I met Becky from Vintage Mixer at Gourmandise (The Bakery) for dessert. We had a nice late visit and treats. I feel very blessed to know the women I have mentioned in this post. I had the opportunity to have dinner with them, as well as a few other great gals, last week and attend a food photography class and we are planning other get-togethers as well. They all have great blogs as well as great personalities. They are all unique, beautiful women with wonderful food knowledge and skills and I am loving sharing these experiences with them.

If you do not yet have the cookbook... go get it! I made the Chicken Spaghetti for dinner tonight and it is delicious! The pictures are gorgeous, the stories are fun and the food is to die for! A+ for the book, A+ for the book signing!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Apple Butter

I posted a while back on jam. My first attempt, in fact. It was a lemon-blackberry and it was tasty, easy and I might be hooked. I decided to try pumpkin butter last month... a winner again! I opted not to post as pumpkin butter seems to be pretty standard. Today I made apple butter... this is a recipe I made up and it is wonderful! I recommend you make it this month. It is such a delicious fall spread and would make a lovely hostess gift for Thanksgiving. I added cherries to avoid the butter tasting too applesauce-like. Use your creativity!

Start with 7-10 fresh apples of your choice.
Peel and finely dice your apples and place into a deep pan.
Add additional fruit of your choice, water, sugar,cinnamon, and any additional flavoring you may be using and bring to a boil.

Once your mixture is boiling, turn your heat down and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the liquid to reduce by about half.You want the apples to drain of their white color and crispness. At that point, add vanilla and simmer another 3 minutes. Transfer everything to a food processor and pulse several times to mash your fruit up really well into the consistency you desire.

Transfer your butter into canning jars (I love the Ball Elite series... they are so cute) and turn upside down to seal. Allow to cool on your counter and then refrigerate.

Apple Butter Recipe

7-10 apples (peeled and finely diced)
1C cherries (or fruit of your choice)
2T cinnamon syrup
1/3C sugar
1/4C water
1/2t cinnamon
2t vanilla