Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Season of Reflection

It is the Lenten Season in our household, one we do observe. A time of reflection and spiritual soul searching I find very calming and enriching. With this said, I will not be blogging as often or visiting during this period. I hope to be using this time for some growth as a Christian and a person. Each of you are held dear in my hearts. I will be checking in from time to time to find how you are all doing in your journey in this world. I hope to leave a comment or two from time to time.

I hope you will all understand if I'm not out and about for the next few weeks, but do know I am checking on you, praying for you, and keeping you in my heart.

Blessings to all...


Friday, February 24, 2012

Whoa Muffuletta You'll Want a Lotta

Here's the second of the recipes I prepared for the party. It's a take on the sandwich famous in New Orleans called a muffuletta. There is much discussion as to where the best 'muff' is served but Central Grocery in the French Quarter is the best known. The idea was found on Pinterest, but I changed it a bit to make it more authentic to the real deal. Here's my adaptation:

To turn the sandwich recipe into an appetizer something to bind the ingredients is necessary. I used cream cheese.

1 long narrow french bread baguette, hollowed
1/2 c of sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
1/2 c salad olives...these are green olives with pimentos, chopped
1/2 c salad giardinara, chopped (include all the ingredients in the jar...even the cauliflower)
1/4 c  kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 c black olives, chopped
1/2 c chopped pickled porcini peppers
1 - 2 cloves garlic, pressed
About 2 tblsp minced fresh Italian style parsley
8 oz salami, diced
8 oz mortadella, diced
8 oz low salt ham, diced
1/2 c provolone cheese, diced
1/2 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 oz package cream cheese, softened

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth...add in pressed garlic and blend. Add in provolone and mozzerella cheeses and blend. Add in minced fresh parsley and blend. Stir in all the remaining ingredients...if you have a heavy duty mixer give it a good blend after all the ingredients are added.

Remove both ends of baguette and hollow out the french bread baguette, removing the soft inside, leaving about a 1/2 inch crust all around. With long handled spoon start spooning the mixture in the baguette working from both ends toward the middle. Fill completely, packed tight. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, slice about 1/2 inch thick slices...a bagel knife works well or any serrated knife.

The stuffed baguettes are on the platter on the front right
I doubled the recipe as we were having a large crowd. Enjoy and Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouller...or as we say in N'awlins...Let The Good Times Roll!


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Foodies...This Ones For You

I promised to give the recipes for the appetizers from the Mardi Gras themed engagement party, and I do try to keep my promise if at all possible. Sometimes I get senioritis and forget. 

The first recipe I found on Food Network. It was one from Sunny Anderson. She calls this Bar Nut Palmiers...and this is my adaptation. 

One Box Puff Pastry
Olive oil (used for lightly coating puff pastry sheet)
One lime at room temperature, zested and juiced 
Two tablespoons of the lime juice
All of the lime zest
One teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary....don't go overboard on this as fresh is strong
1/2 cup shelled and coarse chopped walnuts
1/2 cup shelled and coarse chopped pecans
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper...stick with the one or a little over one if you like a BIG kick
scant teaspoon of salt

Defrost the box of puff pastry sheets...remove one from box while keeping the other chilled.
Lay sheet out on parchment paper and press seams together that may be cracked or loose from when you unrolled it. Brush to coat lightly the pastry sheet with olive oil.

Combine all the remaining ingredients in a food processor. With chopping blade, process the ingredients to a paste consistency for your filling. You want to see the nuts, but you want to be able to spread it. To be honest I made this in three batches and used about one and a half batches per each pastry sheet. But then I didn't want to skimp on the filling.

Spread the filling over the puffed pastry sheet to the edges. Now roll one edge of the sheet towards the middle. Next take the other edge and roll it towards the middle. You want to try and roll them as tightly as you can. You should now have two spirals on one roll.
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least four hours, or overnight. You can also freeze the pastry at this point to be defrosted for when you are ready.

When you are ready to bake preheat oven to 375 F. Slice the roll into about 3/4 inch slices and place on parchment lined baking sheets.

I used my silpat liner.
Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until a light golden brown. Repeat above directions for second puff pastry sheet. The puff pastry comes with two sheets per box. I used the Pepperidge Farm brand of puff pastry. You will have approximately 30 palmiers per box.
Serve warm. For the party I baked them ahead of time to a very light brown. I then reheated them at the party to get them to the deeper color. These are a great blend of sweet and spicy, the lime makes for a bright flavor....the cayenne sort of sneaks up at the end of the taste with a kick! I've had friends request these for several occasions.

Next posting I'll give you the recipe for the stuffed and sliced muffaletta appetizers. They are another make ahead recipe!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler

Oh Happy Mardi Gras today dear friends. It is a day when I truly miss living in my cajun roots are calling today! My daughter decided to travel to the 'City That Care Forgot' this past weekend so she could experience Mardi Gras as an adult. Her last memory of Mardi Gras was when she was twelve and there is a difference between 24 and 12 as to how you experience that holiday! She joined some of her cousins on her Dad's side of the family to celebrate with and even had the opportunity to get a parade visit in with her cousin on my side of the family!

Ummm, yes she was definitely celebrating differently from when she was tweleve! The 'crown' was a throw she caught at the Hermes parade and is representative of his winged feet. Mom's are good for something...on her return I gave her the rundown on the history of the parades she enjoyed. As a teenager I even marched in several as a flag twirler. Now there's a picture image!

She was a dear as always and returned with a large bag of 'throws' from my sister. This sister is a member of the Krewe of Muses, an all female Mardi Gras krewe. They are known and celebrated for the much sought after throw of their High Heels. I was gifted with a high heel along with tons of Muses beads and their newest prized throw...what every girl always needs in her purse...Muses bandaids! I love you Boo! Merci une soeur!

Over the weekend some friends and I gave a party to celebrate the upcoming wedding of the son of dear friends. As is it was Mardi Gras weekend, of course we went with that as the base for food and decorations! Purple, Green and Gold are the colors of Mardi Gras...enjoy!

In another post I'll show you what I made...stuffed muffalettas and bar nut palmiers. I also served the traditional Mardi Gras King Cake a sort of danish with a hidden plastic baby to represent the baby Jesus. Pralines were made by another hostess who also made shrimp remoulade. A dessert tier of miniature mousses, parfaits and ambrosias were another favorite. Pork loin with homemade cranberry compote and rolls for hearty appetites and trays of cheeses, caprese skewers, veggies and cheese straws for those wanting to just dine on the light side.

We had a lovely blend of age groups of guests and everyone was having fun celebrating the upcoming nuptials. Weddings and babies seem to be one of our very favorite occasions to celebrate! We have some babies to be celebrating in the very near future!

If you'll excuse me for now, I'm going out in my back courtyard patio and shout to the rooftops...
     "THROW ME SOMETHING MISTAH!" I'm thinking I'll only startle the pigeons...


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Everyday...I've Got A Pocketful of Sunshine

Happy Valentines Day everyone! I am so blessed with love in my life...everyday. I have a pocketful of sunshine....and a heart full of joy. Love the ones your with....and hugs to all!

Not to mention the love of my very own everyday Valentine...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Heaven Sent...Meet Our Grace

Well dear friends many of you guessed correctly. I was off visiting our newest granddaughter and her loving and rather tired parents. I am so immensely proud of all three! Erin was a wonder and a trooper making sure Grace was brought into the world safe and sound. What hard work bringing a baby into the world is! Scott, I am told (and truly would know without out being told)...was a rock and great support for Erin. Grace is so sweet. What can you say about those sweet little rosebuds of life, petals still furled tight? You know exactly how they looked before they were born by the way they hold themselves. I love newborns...sweet, vulnerable tiny bundles. Newborns just grab hold of my heart, never to let go.

We travelled first to our son Daniel's and daughter in love Laura's home...they live along the route and it's always wonderful to visit in the beautiful home they have created. Each visit brings a new surprise of their hard work and talent in decorating and renovating. Our daughter Elise had headed up earlier in the evening and met us there. Eager sister, sister in love and aunt, ya know? Early the next morning, once the sun appeared a tad over the horizon...okay, okay I'll admit it was more than a tad, a morning person I'm not...we caravanned to visit the happy home of Grace.

Grace smiles. No, really she smiles...she is very alert when she is awake and looking all around. She loves to be held and rocked. I guess all newborn miss that rocking and snuggly feeling they had before being born. I love to talk with her. I try to talk low and softly so she has to really listen to hear me. It's quite fun and she really concentrates. I have a repertoire of lullabies learned at my Mother's knee and could rock and sing to Grace forever.  As I did admit before....early riser I'm not but I do come in handy for the late night, wee hours of the morning shifts. Erin takes care of Grace's nutrition as only a mother can do. I love to give her a break and rock Grace back to sleep. I remember how tired a new mother is. It's a job no one can do but the mom and it starts with that hard job of giving birth. Then you go home low in sleep and a baby that needs your care. It is a good reason they give that job to the young.

But more on the loveliness of Grace, her hair is dark and plentiful. Erin is going to be french braiding that babies hair before we know it! Weighing in at 6 lbs. 15 ozs. at birth, a very petite package of love and beauty is our Grace. A sweet personality, I sometimes see a glimmer of her wonderful sense of fun.  Grace responds to everything around her with those curious eyes and a sweet look of love. I know she is as lovely on the inside as she is on the outside. A very important personality trait in our family's estimation.

It was so very hard to say goodbye when it was time to go. I might have stayed longer but we had pressing matters to attend to at home so with tears and sadness headed down the road to home. It's my first experience with a grandchild not living close by, not fun. I find my hands and heart getting twitchy to hold that sweet baby several times each day. We have so much going on at the homefront for the next few months I don't know when I'll be heading back. Oh dear...I'm gonna be one twitchy mess for a while I guess! So indulge a very proud Mom and Grandmother while I share some photos of our dear and beautiful....
                                                               Grace Elizabeth

Proud Pop...his smile speaks for him
Aunt Elise keeping Grace content 
Smiling for Aunt Laura...
Brin protecting the newest family member, good girl!
Whatcha doin' there, Dad?

Why Grace likes her bath!
That's really hard work, all that loving!
I TOLD you Grace smiles!
And isn't that an alert and curious baby?
Until I can hold you again my love....sweet dreams...