roasted tomato soup

It’s snowing here in TN, which means leaving work early, braving the slick roads, and relaxing at home a couple of hours earlier than normal.  (I baked mini Nutella brownies-blog post soon!)

This roasted tomato soup is simply roasted tomatoes, turkey stock, and bits of  turkey lying wait in the freezer.

Roasted Tomato Soup
6 roma tomatoes, roasted and processed in the food processor (see this blog post)
16 oz turkey stock (I used stock made from the bones, etc of my Christmas turkey)
3-4 thick slices of roasted turkey/chicken, chopped into chunks

Mix all and simmer.  Serve steaming, topped with a bit of basil.

dreamy, snowy afternoon

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lavender shortbread hearts

from about.com

Lavender has long been a favorite flower and color of genteel ladies. This shade of purple suggests refinement along with grace, elegance, and something special.

Purple and its lighter lavender shades has a special, almost sacred place in nature: lavender, orchid, lilac, and violet flowers are often delicate and considered precious.

While purple is the color of royalty, lavender is the color of femininity. It’s a grown up pink.

Use the color lavender to suggest something unique or extremely special but without the deeper mystery of purple.

Shortbread, made with @KerrygoldUSA butter and lavender scented sugar:

Look closely at the cookie and you will see little blue/purple pieces of lavender.
The lavender hearts were prettier than these made last year.  After a week, the texture was unchanged and the cookies remained crisp.
Notice the cute little tile, made by My Friend A (here’s her web site.)
The recipe was adapted from here.
If you like the soft smell of lavender, you will love the subtle hint of lavender in these cookies.
Lavender Shortbread
Though not necessary, I let this sit for a week in a covered container prior to mixing and baking the cookies:
1 T. dried culinary lavender flowers
2/3 c granulated sugar
Process the lavender flowers and granulated sugar in a food processor until both are very fine in texture.
In a medium bowl, beat until light and fluffy:
16 T (8 oz) butter (use the best butter available)
granulated sugar/lavender mixture
Add:
1 1/2 t vanilla
Add:
2 c. all purpose flour
1/8 t salt
Mix in flour only until well incorporated.  Do not over mix.
Wrap cookie dough in saran and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Roll cookie dough to 1/4″ thick; cut as desired and sprinkle with sanding sugar.
Bake on parchment lined baking sheet 12-14 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
Cool on baking racks.  
Store in covered container.  (Mine were still fresh after a week stored in a tin on the kitchen counter.)
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image chosen on TasteSpotting

Gale Reeves
#114138
I submit photos on occasion to TasteSpotting; however, few are selected.
This was a nice Sunday afternoon treat to find my granola bar photo posted.  If you need food or photography inspiration, gaze upon the TasteSpotting site for a while.
My previous TasteSpotting post can be seen here.

artistic espresso

My co-worker B let me borrow his European Espresso pot.  I’ve never made nor consumed espresso…ever.
I bake with espresso, so I decided to give this a shot, no pun intended.

the espresso pot is quite small, and makes only 1 or 2 servings

 the pot is sleekly designed, and begs to be photographed

 oh, the reflections–I had to move high and low to prevent my face, body, and camera from reflecting in the pot

sleek in design

 dreaming of the aroma soon to be filling the kitchen

I’m adding a square of 70% Lindt chocolate to my little cup of espresso, along with a splash of heavy cream and a dusting of cinnamon

 steam!

chocolate is melting into the hot espresso

 artistic interpretation

 cinnamon dusting

Yes, I could learn to drink espresso…
Thanks, B, for sharing the little espresso pot.

my kitchen

…the heart of my home

espresso pot heating
  I’ll add a little square of Lindt to my espresso
    smoked turkey, roasted tomato soup simmering
      warm afternoon sunlight streaming through the windows
        reflections
          oh, and, my tripod sitting by the door
Home Sweet Home

I saw this on twitter….
“Devote today to something so daring even you can’t believe you’re doing it.” -Oprah

Viking Baby Cakes Class

Thanks to My Friend J (of Mrs. Ermel’s blog) for the gift of a Viking class.  We mixed and poured and baked…and ate.  What a great night!

We began with fondant glazed, sugar flower topped petit fours.

cut the cake into little 1″ squares or ovals…or hearts (instructor Tanya’s demo)

cute little cutters:

making the fondant:

pouring the fondant:

topping Pound Cake Petit Fours with sugar flowers

they are so cute, even if they are not completely coated
mixing strawberry jello and strawberry puree to make…

 …baby strawberry cakes in 4 oz jars

 cleaning the rims

 ready to bake Mini Mason Jar Strawberry Cakes

 class discussion

endless possibilities – but we filled the cups with lemon goodness and baked them in a pan of simmering water

 we needed lemon zest

and lemon juice

ready to bake Little Lemon Pudding Cakes
baked and cooling (I topped mine with lemon curd; these received rave reviews at work the next day)
pan smearing the bouchon mold

 bouchon (brownie) batter

baked and …

 …cooling on a wire rack

Some toast with wine glasses.  We bakers toast with strawberry cake topped with cream cheese icing!
petit fours are even prettier in the fancy fluted cups

 my great team (pardon weird facial expressions…the camera captures everything!)

Somehow, instructor Macrae is not in any of the photos (check out her blog here.)
Thanks, Viking Cooking School staff, for another fun filled, informative night in the kitchen.
iPhone photos

espresso granola hearts

heart and angel wings…

Sometimes, it’s just pure luck.  This photo is actually from the end of the photo session.  Two of the three stacked, heart-shaped granola bars fell backwards.  It happened in slow motion, and I decided this session was over.  But, ahhhhh, look…..angel wings…and angel wings with hearts inside.

I love the light; I look for it, all day, every day.  It’s not really a conscious effort; it just happens.

These are THE best granola bars I have made.  They are no-bake (other than toasting nuts and coconut), and they are speckled with ground espresso beans.  You can enjoy your morning coffee and oats in one bite.

Look closely – the little dark spots are tiny bits of “let’s get this day started!”
Go ahead – click on the picture to enlarge the image; you need to see the espresso.

The ground espresso beans give these granola hearts a depth of flavor that compliments the other ingredients in the bar. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I kept going back to the storage tin to have ‘just one more’ of these bars.

Recipe adapted from Carter of ‘the kitchenette’  here.

If you want thin bars, use a 9″ x 9″ pan; thicker bars-use an 8″x8″pan; cute bars-use a heart shaped pan

Espresso Granola Hearts


Toast in 350 degree oven about 10 minutes; watch closely-coconut burns quickly
1 c. pecans (chopped after toasting)
1 c. slivered almonds
2/3 c. sweetened coconut

Let the toasted mixture cool while combining in a pan:
1/2 c. golden syrup (I used a mixture of mostly golden syrup and a little honey)
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 T ground espresso beans (I used Lavazza Qualita Oro Espresso Ground Coffee)
1 t. vanilla
Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until sugar dissolves.

Combine in a large bowl:
Toasted pecans/almonds/coconut
1 1/4 c. oats (not instant)
1 1/2 c. rice krispies
4 T. ground flax seed

Pour liquid over dry ingredients in bowl.  Stir until all dry ingredients are well coated.  Spread mixture into parchment lined (or buttered) pan.  Press firmly on the mixture to compact the ingredients.  Let cool for about 2 hours.  Slice and enjoy.  I wrapped the bars in parchment and stored them in a tin; they were fresh and crisp one week later.

Enjoy
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walnut orange blondies from "Fat Witch Brownies" cookbook

This recipe is adapted from the “Fat Witch Brownies” cookbook, written by the New York City bakery owner.

The orange zest and orange juice leave these blondies bursting with a fresh, fruity flavor.

Orange Blondies
Melt over low heat and cool slightly:
1 stick butter
1 3/4 c light brown sugar

Add:
2 eggs
2 T fresh orange juice
1 t vanilla

Sift into bowl, then add dry mixture to butter/egg mixture:
1 3/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

Stir in:
1 T grated orange zest
1/2 c. toasted walnuts, chopped

Bake in parchment lined 9×9 pan at 350 degrees about 30 minutes until toothpick tests clean. Cool at least 1 hour before cutting….or not…

The top of the brownies will form a paper-thin crispy layer.

enjoy

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granola bars

Bulk Whole Foods oats make a star appearance in these chewy granola bars.  Loaded with nuts, seeds, and flax, the bars will quench your hunger for hours.

The recipe is adapted from here.

The bars are soft and chewy.  I keep them well wrapped and frozen; the texture is unaffected by freezing.

Granola Bars
Into large bowl, mix:
3 c. oats
1/4 c. flour
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground cardamon
4 T ground flax

Add to above mixture:
1 c. toasted walnuts, chopped
1/2 c dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 c chocolate chips
1/2 c pumpkin seeds
1/2 c coconut
1/4 c sesame seeds

In a food processor, mix:
1/2 c. dried apricots (I used dates)
1/2 c butter
1/2 c honey

Pour the wet over the dry ingredients and mix well.  (I used my best tools – my hands.)
Firmly press into parchment lined 9×13 pan; bake 30 minutes at 325 degrees.

The bars will cut easier if they are completely cooled.

ice cream

February…..there will be hearts in my posts…just because….
(pictured above – ice cream base cooling)
The basic ice cream recipe I used was adapted from Williams-Sonoma “Ice Cream.”

vanilla beans are one of my favorite kitchen ingredients

Combine in heavy saucepan and heat about 5 minutes, until bubbles form around the edge of the pan:
1 1/2 c whole milk
1 c heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split (you can use vanilla flavoring if you don’t have beans)

In a bowl, whisk to combine
6 large egg yolks
1/2 c + 2T granulated sugar
1/2 c heavy cream

Slowly add the warm milk to the egg yolk mixture, then return all to saucepan.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon; (I cooked mine to about 185 degrees) don’t let the mixture boil
Strain the mixture into a bowl and cool in an ice bath.
Cover with plastic warp and refrigerate overnight.
Freeze in an ice cream maker.

After freezing, I added a few crumbled pink French Macaron shells from here.  And, I added a few bourbon soaked pecans left over from here.

bourbon pecan, pink macaron swirl through the center of the ice cream

look closely…

Perhaps you have bits and pieces of something lurking in your freezer that would be delicious in the middle of a quart of home made ice cream.
frosty from the freezer
dreamy flavors