Thursday, February 26, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Gift Basket

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This is a picture of my oldest grandson from last year.  We do St. Patrick's Day big around here!  This year we have another little one to join in the fun.  

I love to give them little gifts baskets with treats in them.  

Here is a video tutorial on how to make a little gift basket that is sure to make your little leprechauns happy!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Crock Pot Blueberry French Toast with Fresh Blueberry Syrup

Crock Pot Blueberry French Toast

I found this recipe on Pinterest.  I added some extra cream cheese, using 2 full bricks, and I put cinnamon sugar on the top.  I think those changes really made this just that much better!  I also served some cinnamon sugar on the side as an additional topping.  

Here are the recipes as I made them:

8 eggs
½ cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 loaf French bread, cubed
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 bricks of cream cheese cubed
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Gradually whisk in milk and maple syrup until blended. 
Place half of the cubed bread in a greased 5 to 6 quart slow cooker, layer with half of the blueberries, half of the egg mixture and half of the cream cheese.  Repeat layering.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove from fridge about 30 minutes before cooking.  
Cover and cook on low 3 to 4 hours or until a knife inserted in to French toast comes out clean.  Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on top before serving.
Serves 6 to 8.

Warm Blueberry Syrup

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup cold water
¾ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
In a small sauce pan, combine sugar and corn starch; stir in water and sugar until smooth.  Add ¼ blueberries.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir until the berries pop, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice, butter and remaining berries.  Serve warm with French toast!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Making A Poster

This is one of my favorite photos of my daughter and my oldest grandson.

I used Picmonkey to create this "poster" and then I had it printed at Staples in a 24 by 36 inch size.

I ordered the poster size frame online.

I absolutely love it!!!

So, go through your family photos.  Find something you love and crop it so that it's just focused on the people in the photo and maybe make it black and white and see what you think.  You just might have something you would want to make a poster.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Lamp Makeover

Breathing New Life Into An Old Lamp

I needed a lamp for our new shore condo.  I have done a ton of shopping and I am just about out of money with buying all new furniture for the condo.  So spending another $50 to $75 for a lamp was just not sitting well with me and I wasn't finding anything I liked for less than that.  But I had the lamp above sitting around doing nothing.

That lamp was a thrift shop purchase that I got for staging our previous home for putting it on the market.  It is a sort of gold-y, bronze-y color glass and the shade (while pretty) has seen better days. 

I got this Rustoleum primer and paint at the hardware store.  I think it was $8 for both cans of paint.  I also bought a cute burlap covered lamp shade for about $15 and then added a little twine to it.

After a coat of primer and two coats of paint, I love how this came out!!!

A much more casual lamp that will fit right in with our beach-y condo!

Here is the lamp in the condo.

It really fits just perfectly.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Valentine's Day Chocolate Dessert Roundup

 The Ultimate Guide to Valentine's Day Dessert

Easy to make yet very impressive!

Decadent and rich!  This one is made in minutes.

Definitely the most complicated for the recipes, but it is so worth it!  This has a very delicate flavor.  The pears end up very tender and sweet.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Crab Cakes Over Polenta Cakes with Garlic Basil Aioli

I just finished taking my Culinary Boot Camp.  I learned some things, but it wasn't hands on, AT ALL!!!  So I was left to do a lot of cooking at home.  My husband was happy.  

He was especially happy with this dish.  I combined three of the recipes that we were given.  I made crab cakes and served them over polenta cakes (my husband thought he didn't like polenta as did I) and I topped it all with a garlic basil aioli.

It was really good!!!  The asparagus recipe I will post at a later time.

Crab Cakes on Polenta with Garlic Basil Aioli

2 cups whole milk
2 cups chicken broth
1 small onion diced
1 bay leaf
1 cup polenta – coarse corn meal
¼ stick butter
1 large egg yolk
Juice of half a lemon
½ tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
½ tsp. Garlic powder
3 fresh Garlic grated
2 tablespoons water
½ cup corn oil or vegetable oil
2 tablespoon fresh basil chopped
Crab Cakes:
1 large egg
2 ½ tablespoons mayonnaise
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
¼ cup finely diced celery, from one stalk
¼ cup finely diced onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1 lb. lump crab meat
½ cup panko
Spray a 13xx1 inch baking dish with cooking spray
Saute the onion in a pot large enough to accommodate all of the liquids, add the milk, stock and the bay leaf to the sauted onion and simmer in the heavy sauce pan.  
Remove sauce pan from heat. Discard the bay leaf.  Bring liquid to a boil. 
Gradually add polenta, whisking constantly until smooth. 
Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until polenta is very thick, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer polenta to 13x9x1 inch backing sheet.  Using wet hands, press polenta evenly over the sheet to the edges.  
Chill until firm, at least 3 hours.   Remove from oven and fry on both sides for about1 minute on each side.  Use the oil that the crab cakes have been cooked in to fry the polenta after the crab cakes are done.
In a metal mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolk, 2 tablespoons water, garlic cloves, and a pinch of salt until blended.  Whisking constantly, slowly drip in the oil, 1 teaspoonful at a time, until sauce is thickened and emulsified.
Whisking constantly, add in garlic powder, additional salt, black pepper, basil and lemon juice. 
Crab Cakes:
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Combine the egg, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, Old Bay, salt, pepper, onion, celery, and basil in a large bowl and mix well.  Add the crab meat (be sure to check the meat for any hard and sharp cartilage) and panko; gently fold mixture together until just combined, being careful not to shred the crab meat.  Shape into 6 crab cakes (about 1/3 cup each) and place on prepared baking sheet.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 
Preheat a large non-stick pan to medium heat and coat with vegetable oil. When oil is hot, place crab cakes in pan and cook until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes per side.  Be careful as oil may splatter.
Keep crab cakes warm in an oven on low while you fry up the polenta.

Stack crab cakes on top of polenta and spoon aioli on top.  Serves 4 to 6.