Posted in The Party's in the Kitchen

Going Home

I went home this week.  Well, not exactly my home but the one that belonged to my mom until she up and moved to heaven. It had been nearly two years since her death and this would be the first time I would be back in a place that had always included her presence. I wasn’t really sure what feelings would be stirred up within me.

Stepping through the door, I realized things had not changed in her absence. My sister now takes Mom’s place in the kitchen where so many celebration meals have been prepared. From the look of the counter, the tradition carried on.  It was covered with good things to eat.  Luscious flatbreads, pans of lasagna and that green pudding with its bits of pineapple and pistachios were all present as they had been in the past. Additional yumminess arrived. Aunt Sarah’s Cheesy Potatoes, Breaded Morel Mushrooms, compliments of my brothers, and my own cake slathered with Browned Butter Frosting rounded out the already abundant selection.

Daughter, Genevieve and sister, Jeannie.
Daughter, Genevieve and sister, Jeannie.

We filled our plates and ate and talked and talked and talked. It was all very comforting to sit around the table and enjoy each other’s company. For the moment, it all felt very normal as if no one was missing from the circle. I guess in a way everyone was accounted for.  Even though Mom was not physically with us, her heart had stayed behind. The spirit of the day made that evident. It was exactly as she would have planned it. I will hold the memory close as one of the best.

Where we love is home–home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Enjoying the beautiful afternoon.
Enjoying the beautiful afternoon chatting and laughing.

I asked my sister, Jeannie, to send me the recipes she cooked up for our visit. I left them in the form they were sent. I like that it is less formal and more like the way we would tell someone how to prepare the dish.

The following are the recipes for the bread, green pudding and the peanut butter cookies. The lasagna is just your basic recipe but she says she always uses Prego.

Bread Machine Flat Bread
The bread is easy. In the bread maker I put in one cup of water and one packet of dry yeast. Wait ten minutes for yeast to bloom and add three tbsp sugar, three cups of flour, two tsp salt and one third cup oil. Set bread maker to dough sitting and start. When the dough has risen I spray a little Pam on a larger pizza pan, dump the dough on it, sprinkle a little flour over the top and spread it out by pressing it with my hands, as large as it will stretch without making holes in it. I let in rise in a warm place and brush with about three tbsp melted butter, sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 until brown and lovely.
Green Pudding
Green stuff is two pkgs of instant pistachio pudding, two cups milk and one small can of drained crushed pineapple . Mix the pudding according to pkg directions, then add the well drained crushed pineapple.
Gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies
Mix one cup peanut butter, one cup sugar, one egg and half tsp vanilla. Scoop onto a parchment covered cookie sheet. Press with fork. Bake at 350 until golden brown.
Posted in doing life with friends, Matters of the Heart, Warm the Soul

Blend Well

A loud ruckus could be heard  in Maria’s dining room. This was the first time the gals on the hospitality team that I am part of had met together outside of our regular Thursday mornings. Friendship was evident through the teasing and laughter that was happening around the table. We have gotten to know each other through working together every week. A friendship has grown while serving brunch and cleaning up after in the church kitchen.

Women's Small Group Hospitality Team

Today, however, was our turn to relax. Maria prepared a wonderful meal and the beautiful table settings made everyone feel special. Each of us took a turn to share a little bit of our stories with the others. This proved to create an even stronger bond between us. Our lives became richer through hearing personal challenges each could connect with. I came away from the morning thinking how lucky I was to know and serve with these women.  This group is a special blend of backgrounds, experiences and seasons that makes my life much more delicious.

The greatest sweetener of human life is friendship. ~Joseph Addison


One thing that Maria served our group was a luscious Lemon Poppy Seed Cake. It was a grain free recipe and was oh, so yummy.

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

prep: 20 minutes     Cooking: 40 minutes    Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients:

CAKE

  • 1/3 cup grass-fed butter (Kerrygold), plus more for greasing pan*
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour, plus 1 teaspoon for dusting pan
  • 1/2 cup raw honey**
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

GLAZE

  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons finely ground raw cashews
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 2 teaspoons honey, melted
  • 1 tablespoon coconut milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F.Make the cake.
  2. Grease a Bundt pan very well with butter, then dust with 1 teaspoon coconut flour, carefully checking that every crack and surface is covered.  This makes sure your cake will easily come out of the Bundt pan after baking.
  3. Place the first 9 ingredients in a food processor or high-speed blender and process for 15 seconds, until smooth.
  4. Add 1 egg at a time, blending in-between, until all the eggs have been incorporated.
  5. Gently stir in the poppy seeds and lemon zest by hand.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, place in oven, and bake for 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack, then invert it onto the rack to cool completely.  If necessary, use a rubber spatula to gently release the cake from the pan.  A small chunk broke off on mine as I flipped it over, but it didn’t mess up the taste at all!
  8. Make the glaze.  Grind the cashews in a food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse until combined and smooth.  Drizzle over cooled cake before serving.

Enjoy!

  •  If you like this post, perhaps you would reading another blog I write.  Girl on Adventure is a collection of lessons God is teaching me as I travel along life’s road.
Posted in Baked Perfection, Coffee Time, Involving the Heart

No To-Go Cup, Please

Along in the afternoon, my thoughts turn to a cup of tea and a little something sweet. It is certainly a very nice respite for a busy day. While visiting Germany, I found this to be the common practice. Whether we were out and about or happened by a friend’s house (Yes, people actually do that there.), coffee or tea was brewed and a cookie was offered without fail. And it was all enjoyed while sitting and visiting.

Coffee Time at a little bakery found on the square of Radeberg, Germany.
Coffee Time at a little bakery found on the square of Radeberg, Germany.

In our grab and go culture we miss this simple pleasure of refreshment around some small talk. If we actually took time to sit and enjoy each other’s company, we might find our lives a little less hectic and a little more meaningful.  You see, the refreshment does not come from the snack like we think.  You’ve seen in the old movies when they ask, “Would you take some refreshment?” Food was certainly was offered but I believe it was far more than that. Refreshment comes not from the eating of treats rather the time spent in sweet fellowship. And time is a key component to making it all work.  Friendship is not fast food. It a sit down occasion to be savored.

Life is better shared with friends. It’s just a fact. So take a break from the hectic and find refreshment.

“To be with old friends is very warm and comforting.”

~ Ian Ziering


My daughter gifted me Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman Cooks Food: From My Frontier cookbook a few years back.  I have used many of the recipes and all of them have been pretty delicious. It is my go-to reference when I want to take something to a potluck or share with a friend.  The following is a cookie recipe I used recently for a Bridal Shower.  I think they would also be the perfect thing to serve your friends while you sip tea and invest time in each other.

Citrus Butter Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (4 Sticks) Salted Butter, Softened
  • 1-1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 whole Large Eggs, Separated
  • 4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons Orange, Lemon, And Lime Zest (approx 1 Tablespoon Each)
  • 2 Tablespoons Orange, Lemon, And/or Lime Juice (2 Tablespoons Total)
  • Icing
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Whole Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Orange, Lemon, And Lime Zest
  • Juice Of 1/2 Lime
  • Juice Of 1/2 Lemon
  • Dash Of Salt
  • Extra Zest, For Decorating

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Cream butter and sugar until combined. Add egg yolks and mix until combined (set whites aside for the icing.) Add the zest and the flour and mix until just combined, then add juice and mix until combined.

    Scoop out heaping teaspoons of dough, then roll them into balls between your hands. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 13 minutes. Remove from the oven and keep on the cookie sheet for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the pan with a spatula and allow to cool completely before icing.

    To make the icing, combine 1 egg white with the rest of the icing ingredients. Whisk thoroughly until combined, adding either more powdered sugar or more juice until it reaches a pourable but still thick consistency.

    Drizzle the icing across the cookies in several lines, then do it again in the other direction. Sprinkle with extra zest before the icing sets.

    *Check out her site for beautiful pictures of the step-by-step instructions.

    ENJOY!

    Table set for tea at a friend's home in Germany. It was a beautiful time of sharing our lives.  This created a memory that will stay with me for a long time.
    Table set for tea at a friend’s home in Germany. Beautiful.

    If you enjoyed reading this blog, take a look at another blog I write. Girl on Adventure is a collection of lessons God is showing me as I move through life.  I hope you enjoy it.

Posted in Baked Perfection

It’s the Icing on the Cake

I am known for my cakes.  If there is a gathering, it can be heard, “Let Patty bring the cake!”  In fact when my youngest daughter married a few years back, it was voted that we have a cake bar because no one could decide which cake to offer, so we offered a variety.  This just caused a frenzy among friends.  Now, what to choose?! “Choose them all,” I say. Life’s too short to pass on the sweet parts.

Isn’t that what cakes represent–the sweet moments of relationship?  Be it a wedding, a birthday, or a new baby, cakes seem to be involved. Cake shows up to funeral dinners to comfort and at doorsteps of a sick neighbors to encourage. Cake brings community together, not for the sake of cake, but for the pleasure of doing life side-by-side in good times or bad.  That is the icing of life–the sweet fellowship of friends.

c1_20120623_0329
Cake bar at my daughter’s wedding. Cakes were created by a wonderful baker friend, Julia, and myself. Pictures above the table are family wedding pictures.

This is one of my most requested cake frostings. I first discovered it in Better Homes and Gardens years ago. It is called a Candy Bar Cake. It had a homemade cake to go with it but I quickly ditched it for a boxed mix.  The frosting is the star anyway.  The original recipe called for chopped candy bars to be sprinkled on the top. On occasion, we still include them but it takes it to an extreme level of richness. I use this recipe on yellow or carrot cake but please do try it on your favorite and let me know how you like it.  This is my version. It is slightly different from the original.

Browned Butter Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 pounds powered sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions

  1. Melt butter over medium low heat.  Continue to cook, keep a close watch,  until butter becomes golden in color. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  2. In mixer, beat cream cheese until creamy.
  3. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
  4. Pour in melted butter.  Beat until smooth.
  5. Continue mixing, adding powered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beating briefly after each addition. Add a little milk to keep frosting at a mixable consistency.
  6. Add vanilla beating until incorporated.
  7. Get in on the cake before you eat it all with a spoon.
  8. Enjoy!

Cakes are special. Every birthday, every celebration,

ends with something sweet, a cake and people remember.

It’s all about the memories.

~Bubby Valastro

If you enjoyed this, head on over to another blog I write.

Girlonadventure.com