Friday, August 31, 2012

Early Autumn Luncheon

My first and biggest collection is my Franciscan Ware Apple dishes. I loved the graphic apple design in deep green and red and they're perfect for an early fall celebration.
Today I hosted a luncheon for some of the lay leaders and volunteers that I work with.  Inspired by this Stone Gable pear themed table, I carried out the apple theme with my centerpiece, an old dough bowl that bears remnants of red paint on the outside, filled with a variety of apples and other naturals.
Bronze wire napkin rings from Crate and Barrel reminded me of coiled branches; napkins from Pier One; runner from Pottery Barn
Swirled Goblets in green and gold from Pier One
Forest green juice glasses held cushion mums and coleus. It was a fun luncheon and my chance to give back to some wonderful women who give so much of their time to help improve the lives of others.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Home Again

Michigan and back in three days. I could have easily spent a week meandering home and visiting towns, quilt shops and antique stores on the way!
Grand Rapids was hopping Tuesday night. We arrived late but still had to wait to get a table at this restaurant. Half price sushi!
Meijers (like a super Target or Walmart) is a must stop for stocking the apartment fridge. This part of Michigan has a large Dutch population.
All too soon, it was time to say good bye. I kept telling myself we were lucky to have him home for the summer, but it's still hard on a mom.

The trip home was much more leisurely and I took the time to meander off the interstate.
Crown Point, Indiana

Amazing Flower Baskets in Momence, Illinois
Best Home Cooking in Gilman, Illinois

Just before dusk, I came upon this beautiful garden in Champaign, Illinois. Things are so brown and dry at home so I really enjoyed the lush greenery and floral combinations.
Love the Combination of Silver-Green and Magenta
Cannas--Love Those Leaves

My longest stop was in charming Hannibal, Missouri.
Mark Twain's Boyhood Home-Not a Vintage Trash Can :-)
Becky Thatcher's House.
Adorable, Friendly Quilt Shop
Antiques and Gifts Galore in Hannibal
My final stop of the trip was at Old Mill Stitchery and American Whatever in Liberty, Mo.
The Shop Cat Guards the Inventory
Lots of Inspiration
A Sign of Fall--Fresh Cut Bittersweet!
I've been a bit of a slacker blogger this summer, but hope to get back on track and catch up with all my blogging friends.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to College

Where has the summer gone? I love the cooler temperatures that we're having, but so sad to see our young guy return to college. We'll be making the long trek tomorrow, so I wanted to send him off with a special dessert. My guys love almonds, so when I came across this cookie recipe from Chef Nick Malgieri I thought it would be something he'd enjoy and that would travel well.

Almond Pie Cookie Bars

For the Base:

2 cups AP flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 10 pieces
2 large eggs

Prepare a 9x13x2 inch pan by lining with greased parchment paper.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in work bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times to mix.

Add the butter and pulse repeatedly at 1 second intervals until mixture looks crumbly. (Can also cut the butter in by hand with a pastry blender.)

Add the eggs and pulse again until the dough forms a ball. Invert the dough to a floured work surface and gently knead it until it is pliable and slightly softened.  Form the dough into a rectangle and flour the work surface again.  Roll the dough out to a rectangle slightly larger than the pan size.

Fold the dough into quarters and place in pan, pressing slightly up sides of the pan and into the corners. Chill.

For the Topping:

10 T (1 1/4 sticks) butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 T light corn syrup (can also use dark)
1/8 tsp sale
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3 1/2 cups slivered almonds, lightly toasted (toast until lightly browned--they'll brown more as they cook)

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the sugar, brown sugar and corn syrup one at a time, stirring to combine between additions.  Add the sale and bring the mixture to a fill boil, stirring occasionally.  At the boil, add the cream a little at a time (the mixture bubbles up quite a bit every time this is added).  Continue cooking for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Stir in the almonds and scrape the mixture into a buttered bowl to cool slightly.  

Set a rack in the lower third of the over. Deposit large spoonfuls of topping on the chilled crust. Spread almonds into a fairly even layer of topping. 

Bake for 25-35 minutes until dough is baked through and topping is gently bubbling.  Cool on a wire rack at least 1 hour.

Unmold and cut into bars.

Despite the number of steps, these were pretty easy to make and yummy, though definitely not low fat! I'm sharing these on Mix it Up Monday.

Last week was filled with back to school preparations but we also had fun helping deliver the school supplies donated by church members to help inner city schools. If you're wondering about all the copy paper, we collect that for the teachers because their supply budgets are so limited. Some of the other things we collect for teachers are hand sanitizer, paper towels, construction paper and dry erase markers.
Yesterday we did some home town sightseeing and went to the Nelson Atkins Art Museum.  
Beautiful grounds!
One of the Famous Shuttlecocks
Classy Way to Get Around the Grounds
And tomorrow I'll be taking him back to Michigan for his senior year! Excited for him, dreading the long, lonely drive home.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back to School

Today is the first day of school for many local school districts and soon my college age son will be heading back as well. But while he's here I can keep the cookie jar stocked with homemade treats. This recipe whips up quickly with just a few ingredients. I had some cherry preserves in the pantry and substituted that for the raspberry called for in the original recipe.

Chocolate-Cherry Bars

2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup cold butter
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semisweet chocolate pieces (I used chunks)
2/3 cup cherry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For crust, place flour, brown sugar, salt and cold butter in a food processor. Cover and process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 1 1/2 cups crumb mixture for topping.  Press remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of a greased 13x9x2 inch baking pan.  Bake for 14 minutes.

Meanwhile, for filling, heat condensed milk and 1 cup of the chocolate pieces in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts.  Pour chocolate mixture over baked crust, using spatula to spread evenly.  Sprinkle with reserved crumb topping.  Drop teaspoons of the preserves 1 1/2 inches apart over top.  Sprinkle with remaining chocolate pieces.

Return pan to oven and bake for 30 minutes more or until filling is set.  Cool completely. Cut into bars. Makes 32 bars. 
I'm Sharing this Recipe on Flour Me With Love
I finally understand the lure and appeal of Pinterest. I joined the site about a year ago, but finally organized my boards and started pinning and pinning and pinning. Some might say I've become a bit addicted. So this quote, even though it's a bit sexist, really appealed to me: