Tuesdays with Dorie: Strawberry Shortcakes, Franco-American Style

Strawberry Shortcake|Frankly Entertaining

I was so excited for this week’s recipe because it gave me a chance to make something that completely intimidated me. Lady Fingers seem so delicate and seem like something that would take way more work than I’d be willing to put in, but I was wrong. This recipe actually came together fairly simply. Although the lady fingers take a few bowls to put together, they’re not hard, and they’re not especially time consuming. There was more than enough batter to make the six servings, plus I made about 8 other traditionally shaped cookies.

I was a little skeptical after the cookies baked because they weren’t as sweet as I thought I’d like, but when I added the strawberries and whipped cream, the whole thing was amazing! My kids have been snacking on the leftover cookies, but I think I prefer the whole dessert to just the cookies!

Strawberry Shortcake

I went the simple route and just made these with strawberries and sugar instead of the roasted strawberries. I think this would also be amazing with blueberries, or some strawberry with rhubarb. I think a DIY shortcake table would be the perfect thing for a 4th of July (or Canada Day) celebration! If you had various fillings on the table it would be a perfect color palette. hmm…Putting my thinking cap on!

Strawberry Shortcake|Frankly Entertaining

The Tuesdays with Dorie participants don’t publish the recipes, but you can get your own copy of Baking Chez Moi , by Dorie Greenspan, and join us! Feel free to follow along with everyone else here.

Per Se: The Best Meal Ever!

Per Se Review| Frankly Entertaining

Last year Christina and I met up in New York City for Memorial Day week end, and we had the absolute best time. It was the first time I had been o NYC since I was 16, and I tried to fit everything into 4 days. We ate way more than was healthy, and the only regret I had was leaving the I Love Doughnuts shirt that I got for my son on a bench at #MadSqEats. But, if you can get through a weekend with the only bad thing being a lost t-shirt, then I think we can call it a success!

The food highlight of the trip last year was having lunch in the Salon at Per Se. My dad had given us $150 to treat ourselves, and we used every penny at lunch! It might seem a bit extreme (my dad was a little surprised when we called to thank him for the amazing lunch), but I’m here to tell you it was worth it!

Let me start by saying, if this is something you don’t think you would appreciate, then don’t do it! Everyone has their thing, and mine is food. I wouldn’t appreciate the value in a sports car or a super fancy pre-school, but eating out can make me cry when the food is that good! I will also say that we ate at the Salon and not the main dining room. We also didn’t drink any alcohol which would have easily doubled the bill. I would love to try the dining room, but I feel like that’s something that I should save and do with Doug!

The Salon at Per Se doesn’t accept reservations, and it’s only open for lunch on weekends. We made sure we showed up ten minutes before they opened and we were seated at a table looking directly out onto Columbus Circle and Central Park.

The service is beyond amazing. I don’t know how much water I drank because my glass was never empty! And even though this is one of the best restaurants in New York City, the servers were not at all snotty. Everyone that we talked to was gracious and personable.

When we went back to NYC a couple of weeks ago we debated eating at Per Se again. I didn’t want to ruin the amazing experience that we had the first time, so it was a dilemma. In the end, Christina and I decided to go back and try dinner. I will just say it was perfect. We did not get the table with the view, but I didn’t even notice.

The portion size at Per Se is small, but it doesn’t feel small. I ordered two dishes plus dessert, and there was a smoked salmon amuse bouche (amazing!), gougères, and bread. There was also an extra dessert tray that came after the dessert that we ordered. I ordered the duck foie gras appetizer and the lobster. For dessert I had the crème brûlée. Christina had the gelato for dessert, which she declared to be the best gelato ever!

All this is to say, if you find yourself in New York City celebrating any kind of special occasion, and you appreciate  a delicious meal, Per Se is a restaurant that is well worth the hype.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Chocolate-Cherry Brownies

TWD: Chocolate Cherry Brownies | Frankly Entertaining

I’d been seeing people’s sneak peeks of their brownies all week, and so I was really excited for this recipe. I love a good brownie, and this recipe makes my favorite kind: dense, chewy and in no need of frosting. I’ve never been a huge fan of cake brownies (with the exception of the mint chocolate brownies that my nan made). I never use a hand mixer when I make brownies I because don’t want to add any more air to the batter than is absolutely necessary!

Dorie’s brownies are probably the densest I’ve ever eaten, to the point where I wondered if they were baked all the way through (29 minutes didn’t seem long enough for an 8 x 8 pan). I actually had fresh cherries on hand, but I followed the recipe and cooked the fried cherries in red wine. (side note: I can’t buy wine in the main part of the grocery store here in town, so I have to go to the separate part of the store to purchase it separately and then walk around the grocery store with a brown paper sack. I was so paranoid that I was going to run into someone I know who might think that it was a little too early, and I’m a little too mormon, for that kind of purchase!) Anyway, I’m glad I followed the recipe, because the cherries are amazing! If I had some whipped cream it would almost be like a delectable black forest bite!

Chocolate-Cherry Brownies

The other amazing thing about this recipe: they’re probably the least time consuming brownies that I’ve made from scratch (don’t judge, I sometimes use a mix!). These came together amazingly fast, and to shave off some time I melted the butter and chocolate in the microwave! I basically had the entire batter put together in the time it took to cook off two Tablespoons of wine! This is definitely a recipe that I recommend.

The Tuesdays with Dorie participants don’t publish the recipes, but you can get your own copy of Baking Chez Moi. Feel free to follow along with everyone else here.

Muesli Parfait Breakfast Bar

Muesli Parfaits | Frankly Entertaining

We’ve been in our new house for three months now, and we’re getting ready to welcome our first guests next week. We’re so excited to have visitors, and to see some friendly faces from Texas!

It’s important to me to try and be a good hostess when we have company. We do our best to get the house clean, and to make sure that we have fun ideas for all the kids, but there is one thing that gets me almost every time: breakfast! I want to be that hostess who is awake before everyone else. I want to be the hostess who’s making pancakes and bacon and fresh squeezed orange juice … I’m just not that person! More often than not I ended up staying up way too late visiting with our guests, and by the time early morning comes I’m too tired to get out of bed! I’m not sure which is more rude: going to bed before our guests, or showing them where they can find the cereal!

Nature Made Muesli

About a year ago we were visiting with good friends for the weekend, and when we got up in the morning, the hostess had laid out a granola bar to make parfaits for breakfast. It was the perfect solution for so many little mouths to feed. There were a huge variety of toppings and yogurts, so everyone was happy. In fact, when I was making the parfaits for this post, my seven year old talked about how much fun we had at our friend’s house when they made the parfaits!

Muesli Parfaits|Frankly Entertaining

I thought it would be perfect to adapt the parfait recipe using  the new Nature Valley Toasted Oats Muesli. There are lots of ways to prepare muesli. You can serve it cooked warm with milk (like oatmeal), or cold (like cereal). It can also be used in baking (you can switch it out for oatmeal in cookies and bars).

We decided to kick the flavors up a notch by toasting the Nature Valley Toasted Oats Muesli-Blueberry. Toasting heightens the flavors and adds a little more crispness. Plus, the warm muesli mixed with the cold yogurt are amazing together! The toaster oven is perfect for this job, but you can also put the muesli on a cookie sheet in a 350º oven for about 7 minutes.

Muesli Parfaits| Frankly Entertaining

I put these in pretty dessert cups, but for a seriously no stress breakfast, these could just as easily go into plastic cups, and then there wouldn’t even be any dishes! The only fruit we chopped was the strawberry. You can seriously have this on the table in under ten minutes. As a bonus, it’s healthier than granola! Another bonus, it’s perfect for picky kids: they get to have some control over what they’re eating, and you know all the ingredients that are involved! We’ll definitely be doing this again for our visitors next week (ironically, it’s the same people who introduced me to the whole idea in the first place)!

Setting up a Muesli Parfait Bar:

What you need:

  • Nature Valley Muesli, we used Blueberry and Original. (You can download a coupon here). Toasting the muesli makes an unbelievable difference. If you haven’t tried it toasted, try it with this recipe!
  •  2 or 3 varieties of yogurt
  • fruit (we used cherries, strawberries and chocolate covered raisins, but pineapples, bananas, peaches and figs would also be amazing)

Optional Add Ins:

  • Honey
  • Preserves
  • Coconut
  • Brown Sugar
  • Maple Syrup

Directions:

  1.  Set everything out on a table in separate bowls.
  2. Allow your guests to layer the Nature Valley Toasted Oats Muesli with the yogurt and whatever other toppings they like.
  3. Enjoy! (I wasn’t kidding when I said that this would be easy!)

Thanks to Nature Maid for sponsoring this post. Don’t forget to download the $1 off coupon!

 

 

Tuesdays with Dorie: Nutella Buttons

TWD: nutella buttons

That’s right, it’s Tuesday, and I’m posting! It’s some kind of Spring miracle! Speaking of Spring, the sun is shining on the Kenai Peninsula. I even planted some vegetables yesterday. I’m not sure how the garden will grow this year, but I’m considering this my learning season! Hopefully the moose doesn’t eat everything!

I didn’t actually make this recipe with the Nutella. I used cherry jam and topped them with the ganache. Doug thought the cherry and chocolate was weird together (maybe he’s never heard of Black Forest Cake!), but I thought they were tasty. They were definitely a hit with the kids. My only issue was that I ended up with two dozen of them, and we can’t eat them all! This is a birthday week at our house, so we are full of desserts! Even though I love the ganache, I think it makes it too messy to take to school with lunch.  As for flavor, the cakes themselves weren’t overly sweet, so the ganache took them from an afternoon snack to a dessert. I think I’ll be making these again and mixing it up a little with the fillings and the toppings. The white chocolate might have been the better topping with the cherry filling.

TWD: Nutella Buttons

The Tuesdays with Dorie participants don’t publish the recipes, but you can get your own copy of Baking Chez Moi. Feel free to follow along with everyone else here.

 

Tuesdays With Dorie: Limoncello Cupcakes

IMG_2342edit

Limoncello Cupcakes

I’m trying my best to get back on the Tuesdays with Dorie  bandwagon, and at some point I may actually start posting these on time (unless I continue to be foiled by my throttled internet! That’s right, bandwith on your home internet is not unlimited in Alaska. It’s what my kids ask for almost every day!) What do you do with a recipe when you don’t use the main ingredient? Improvise of course! Since I don’t drink, I knew I wouldn’t be dousing my cupcakes with lemon liqueur, I decided I would just go with a lemon simple syrup. It was the right consistency and the right flavor, so I don’t think I really missed too much.

Limoncello Cupcakes

I was a little worried about adding the cardamom, but the flavor was really subtle, and all the kids loved the cupcakes. Instead of using orange marmalade for the filling I used some Italian mandarin cream that I’ve had in the pantry waiting for a special occasion. It may not have been the best choice. The flavor was amazing, but the texture was a little off after it was baked.

Limoncello Cupcakes

All in all, I was very happy with these cupcakes. The texture with the glaze was perfect, and I loved the flavor. Another plus is that these are simple to make. No muss, no fuss, and everyone is happy that there’s dessert!

Alaska

 

In other news, it’s April 14th, and it’s snowing! For the most part, the weather since I’ve been in Alaska has been amazing. It’s not super cold, and the air is always fresh. Sometimes though, you look at pictures of friends swimming outside back in Texas, and you realize just how far away you are!

The Tuesdays with Dorie participants don’t publish the recipes, but you can get your own copy of Baking Chez Moi. Feel free to follow along with everyone else here.

Grilled Asparagus How To

Grilled Asparagus How To |Frankly Entertaining

Grilled Asparagus How To | Frankly Entertaining

‘Tis the season for asparagus, and today we’re talking how to get the most vibrant and delicious greens on your plate. I think the fear that most people have about cooking with asparagus is that it will turn out limp and mushy and like it came from a can. I’ve made one recipe with canned asparagus, and it was not a winner at my house!

I’m not going to lie, I never prepared my own asparagus until I went to a couple’s cooking class when my husband and I were first married (ah, the honeymoon stage, before date night involved a very pricey sitter and a trip to Target!). I cannot for the life of me remember the menu we prepared, ut I do remember the asparagus. I remember all the hints, and ever since, We’ve had nothing but delicious asparagus.

I don’t prepare asparagus all that often, mostly because I don’t think about it. I knew however, that asparagus would be the perfect complement to the lab dinner that I was serving for Easter. The glorious green side came together in the time it took for the lam to rest and the rolls to bake. I love it when a meal comes together!

Grilled Asparagus How To |Frankly Entertaining

Without further ado, here are the simple steps to grilled asparagus:

  1. Pick healthy looking asparagus from the market. If it’s already limp, it’s not going to firm up in the pot.
  2. Snap the stalks at the ends. You don’t need to trim the stalks with a knife. The asparagus will naturally snap at the right place when you bend it.
  3. Bring a deep skillet of salted water to a boil.
  4. Add asparagus to the boiling water, and cook for one minute.
  5. Remove asparagus and immediately place in a bowl of ice water. (Be amazed at how green they get)
  6. Drain the skillet and add butter.
  7. Melt the butter over medium high heat and add the asparagus. Cook just until hot.
  8. You can go over the top and add bacon or garlic, but the butter is all it needs.

See, I wasn’t lying. It’s simple, and it’s amazing. I dare you not to love it!

 

Cookie Swap 2014: Cranberry Lime Thumbprints

Cranberry Lime Thumbprints

The annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap has become one of my favorite traditions. This year I was inspired by some mailing tubes at the Container Store. It was completely random, but I fell in love with gold mailing tubes, and so I knew I would be making smaller cookies that would fit in the tubes!

I still had Thanksgiving on the brain when I made these, which is how I came up with the idea to use cranberry sauce instead of the traditional jelly. I also decided to add lime to the cookie. Cranberry lime sounded like a good combination, and it worked! I used lime essential oil, and it gave just the right amount of flavor.

This year I sent my cookies to Sprinkled with Jules, First Time Foods, and Celebrating Sweets. I received delicious cookies from Simply So Good (Norwegian Pepperkaker), Fleur Delicious (Vanilla Sprinkle), and My California Kitchen (Toffee Peanut Butter(scotch) Pudding).

If you’re a food blogger, you should definitely sign up for the cookie swap. You can go get on the mailing list now, and they’ll send you a reminder next year. It’s a lot of fun, you get introduced to new blogs, and you get to help fight kids cancer. It’s a win in every way!

Cranberry Lime Thumbprints

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 c. butter
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 egg yolks (reserve egg whites)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 drops lime essential oil
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 c. sweetened shredded coconut

Instructions:

  1. Cream together the butter and sugar.
  2. Add egg yolks and vanilla, beat well.
  3. Add salt and flour, mix well.
  4. Roll dough into 1/2 inch balls.
  5. Dip balls into slightly beaten egg whites and then dredge in coconut.
  6. Press down the center of each ball with your thumb, and add 1/2 tsp. of cranberry sauce to each cookie.
  7. Bake at 350º for 15 minutes.

TWD: Baking Chez Moi: Palets des Dames

Palets Des Dames: Frankly Entertaining

This is the first week of the Tuesdays with Dorie group baking out of Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook, Baking Chez Moi. I got this book in the mail a couple of weeks ago, and I’m excited to start baking along. I loved the FFWD group, and I’m hoping that the fact that this group only posting twice a month will help me keep on track! So far, so good! We’re one week in and I’m all caught up!

The first recipe was for Palets des Dames, which I had never tried before I made them. They remind me a lot of a cookie version of a Madeleine. My kids all loved them, and they seem like they’d be a perfect treat alongside a cup of hot chocolate for an afternoon snack. It’s a little chilly here today, so I’ve got hot chocolate on the brain!

I added some Autumn sprinkles to mine, because everything is better with sprinkles! These would make a great addition to  a potluck if you’re getting together with a group for Thanksgiving.

Dorie suggests using a small cookie scoop, which I did, and they turned out perfectly after 9 minutes in the oven. The only thing I didn’t pay attention to was turning the cookies upside down to frost them. I feel better now though, because I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong at first!

You can find this recipe on pages 272-274 of Baking Chez Moi. If you want to see what other bakers thought of this recipe, head to the Tuesdays with Dorie blog and click on LYL:  Palets de Dames.

Junior League Holiday Olé Market

Holiday Ole Market| Frankly Entertaining

I have attended the Junior League Holiday Olé Market every year that I have lived in San Antonio. I love the opportunity to get a lot of my Christmas shopping done while supporting small businesses and A charity that I love.

Proceeds from the event advance the Junior League of San Antonio’s mission to promote voluntarism, develop the potential of women and improve our community.  They help fund Junior League of San Antonio programs and projects, including their signature project working toward eradicating childhood obesity.

HOliday Ole Market | Frankly Entertaining

The infamous garlic press dishes!

In my mind I’m a Junior Leaguer, but in reality it’s not something I can commit to, so I love being able to support them through the holiday market (and their cookbooks!).

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this year’s market was the best one that I’ve been to. This is their second year at the Freeman Coliseum, and although I don’t like the drive, I do love how much extra space there is! I spent way too much  money this year (Visa actually thought there was something suspicious going on and put a hold on the card … it might have been for the best!).

Holiday Ole Market | Frankly Entertaining

Foil Print from Zella Press 

 

It’s horrible of me, but the market always has amazing children’s things, and I didn’t look at anything for my kids! I did however get my wedding ring polished and bought a necklace that I’ve been eyeing for a while at a very reasonable price ($25).

I also found a new shop that I’m a little bit in love with. Is it pathetic that I’m a grown woman with six kids and a husband, but that all day I’ve been thinking about the most amazing desk calendar from Zella Press? I’m not ashamed. I own my love of luxury paper products!

Holiday Ole Market | Frankly EntertainingGlass Glitter from Miss Mustard Seed

If you’re in San Antonio, The Junior League Holiday Olé Market runs from today until Sunday. Handmade Mood is doing a giveaway for four tickets on their facebook page. Head over, and plan an awesomely productive Saturday with your girlfriends!

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