As a mom of 8 beautiful kids I am excited to share some of the recipes that we've enjoyed at family mealtime and the stories that go behind them. "Food is so pleasureful and powerful that it plays an essential role in creating a home that works. For your home to feel solid, meaningful, dignified and warm, you must have the means and skills to produce good, nutritious food, to dream up pleasant menus, and to set the table and serve the food in an attractive manner that is familiar and comfortable to guests. " Cheryl Mendelson Home Comforts : The Art and Science of Keeping House

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Je t'aime Valentines Party

 Je t'aime!  Ooh la la!  This has to be one of the funnest parties I have ever done!  I wanted to do a Valentine's Party, but with a twist, so I decided to do a  "Je t'aime" party!  Paris is the "Love Capital of the World  and French is the "Language of Love", so naturally this was a perfect Valentines Party combination! I had been thinking about it for a while, but decided to go for it and throw the party yesterday.    We had croque monsieur sandwiches,  french madeleine cookies,  dark chocolate creme brulee, cheesecake with raspberry sauce, macarons, chocolate dipped strawberries, red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and foccacia with oil and vinegar.  (That is because I found the cutest heart shaped oil and vinegar bowl and I had to include it!)

I recruited the help of my amazing daughters, too, which made it a family affair!   Allie designed some cute Je t'aime designs and wrote on cute wooden hearts for me and also wrote Je t'aime on some cupcake toppers.  Abby and Mandi made red velvet cupcakes, Hailey dipped strawberries and photographed for me. Then we all enjoyed the buffet afterwards!!! I couldn't have done it in such a short amount of time without the help of the girls and their sweet friends!
 Happy Valentines Day!  Je t'aime!!!

Classic Philadelphia Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce
Here are the recipes:
 "Philadelphia Classic Cheesecake"

Simple ingredients:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup butter butter
4 pkgs (8 oz) each Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs

Heat oven to 325
Mix graham crumbs, 3 Tbsp sugar and butter: press onto bottom of 9 inch springform pan

Mix graham crumbs, 3 Tbsp sugar and butter: press onto bottom of 9 inch springform pan ( I used 6 small heart shaped springform pans and divided graham cracker crust between them)
Beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended.  Add eggs 1 at a time, mixing on low speed ater each just until blended.  Pour over crust.
Bake 55 minutes or until center is almost set.  (I did 40-45 min for these smaller cheesecakes)
Raspberry sauce:
2 pints raspberries,
1/4  cup sugar
1 Tbsp Lemon juice
Combine raspberries and sugar in a saucepan.  Cook until raspberries are broken down, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Make sure the  raspberries and the cheesecake are cooled off before you add them.
Aren't these so fun!  It tasted delicious!

Dark Chocolate Creme Brulee
This is a recipe Allie had found on epicurious a few years ago and I think it tastes delicious!
2 cups whipping cream
2 cups half and half
8 oz semisweet chocolate finely chopped
8 large egg yolks
1/3 cup plus 8 Tbsp sugar
 Preheat oven to 300.  Bring cream and half and half to a boil in heavy large saucepan.  Reduce heat o low.  Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat.  Whisk yolks and 1/3 cup sugar in large bowl to blend.  Gradually whisk into hot chocolate mixture.

Divide custard among eight 3/4  custard cups.  Place cups in large baking pan.  Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of cups.

Bake until custards are set, about 50 minutes.  Remove from water; chill 2 hours.  Cover and refrigerate.
Preheat boiler.  Sprinkle each custard with 1 Tbsp sugar.  Broil until sugar turns goldern, watching closely to avoid burning, about 3 minutes.  Refrigerate until custards are set, 1 to 2 hours.

 French Madeleines:

 When we lived in California, my sweet neighbor Heloise,  was moving back to France.  As a gift before she left, she gave me a few Madeleine pans because she knew I loved her cookies when she had made them for me!  I think of her every time I make them!

2 eggs
3/4 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar for decoration

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter and flour 12 inch madeleine molds: set aside.

 Melt 1/4 cup butter and let cool at room temperature.  In a small bowl, beat eggs, vanilla and salt at high speed until light

Beating constantly, gradually add  sugar and continue beating at high speed until mixture is thick and pale and ribbons form in bowl when beaters are lifted, 5 to 10 min.

Sift flour into egg mixture 1/3 at a time, gently folding after each addition.
Add lemon zest and pour melted butter around edge of batter.  Quickly but gently fold butter into better.  spoon batter into molds; it will mound slightly above tops.
Bake 14-17 minutes or until cakes are golden and the tops spring back when gently presed with your fingertip.
 I decided to dip the bottom in chocolate and add some shredded coconut.  Mandi also drizzled some with chocolate.

Croque Monsier
 This is from Bon Appetit:

Grilled ham and cheese: nothing to scoff at. Baked ham and cheese with velvety béchamel oozing out all over the place: mind-altering.


Servings: Makes 4


  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or ¼ ground nutmeg
  • Kosher salt


  • 8 slices ½”-thick country-style bread
  • 6 oz. ham, preferably Paris ham (about 8 slices)
  • 3 oz. Gruyère, grated (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence


  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Add flour and cook, stirring, until mixture is pale and foamy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add milk, stirring until mixture is smooth. Cook, stirring, until sauce is thick and somewhat elastic, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard and nutmeg; season with salt.
  • Do Ahead: Béchamel can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool; press plastic wrap directly onto surface and chill.



  • Preheat oven to 425°. Spread bread slices with béchamel, dividing evenly and extending all the way to the edges. Place 4 slices of bread, béchamel side up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet; top with ham and half of cheese. Top with remaining slices of bread, béchamel side up, then top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with herbes de Provence. Bake until cheese is brown and bubbling, 10–15 minutes.
  • Do Ahead: Sandwiches can be made (but not baked) 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.
    These are seriously delicious!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Culinary Cooking Class with The Pros!

For anyone who knows me, you know that cooking is a passion for me!  I also love eating just as much as I love cooking or baking! I am always trying new recipes and trying to learn from the best Chefs I know! I was so happy to find a top notch Culinary Cooking Class offered locally with the amazing Chef Mary Crafts.  We had such a fun evening learning how to make great food that would impress our guests!
Mary taught us how to make Savory Bread Roll-Ups.  She chose goat cheese, caramelized onion and bacon to be the stars of this dish.  They were absolutely scrumptious! Mary was right when she said "You must make caramelized onions and include them in this recipe because they make it delicious!" They really did make these rolls burst with flavor!  I also loved Mary's "Throw any leftovers from the fridge" attitude for this dish!  I think I will try sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts with a little fresh basil and parsley added for a pop of color!

Chef Vicki and  Pastry Chef Jocelyn  taught us how to make Savory and Sweet Popcorn.   There was a Truffle Parmesan and Black Pepper Popcorn and a White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn hands on station where we got to mix and bag our own popcorn!
Chef Mary taught us how to make Pulled Pork with Pickled Red Onion Sliders and Meatball Sliders with Marinara,  Mozzarella and fresh basil! What a taste sensation!

 We were taught how to create our own Italian Sodas with either raspberry, blueberry, peach or coconut syrups!  I took Chef Vicki's advice and tried her favorite combo of peach and coconut!  Yum!
To top off the evening,  Executive Pastry Chef Jocelyn taught us how to make baked pumpkin donuts!

This was a night to be remembered!  I loved how professional the evening was from start to finish!  I'm really looking forward to my next cooking class with the Pros!

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

We have yet another tradition where we make cinnamon rolls, drink hot chocolate and watch The Polar Express after we decorate our Christmas Tree.

This is an easy and delicious recipe.  It's Sister Clayton's Roll Recipe that's was my very first blog recipe.
I turned them into cinnamon rolls and they are even better because now they have cream cheese frosting on top and who wouldn't love that!
Cinnamon Roll Recipe:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup warm water
2 pkgs dry yeast (dissolved in the warm water)
7 1/2 cups flour

Cinnamon Sugar Filling
3 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
For Rolls:
Mix sugar, salt, eggs and butter.  Add evaporated milk, water and yeast.  Add 5 cups of flour and then continue to add flour until you make a soft dough (up to 7 1/2 cups).  Knead well.  Place in a greased bowl and cover then let rise until double.

Roll out dough.
Prepare filling and spread.  Roll up...
Bake at 350 for 17-20 min or until golden brown.
Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting:
Same as on my Banana Bars:

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter softened
1 8 oz cream cheese
4 cups powdered sugar (or Icing Sugar if you're Canadian!)
2 tsp vanilla

I made over 150 Cinnamon Rolls in this batch!  We have lots of neighbors who we thought might enjoy them, too!  This is a must try!

Nutcracker Ballet Tea Party

Every Christmas I take my girls to see the Nutcracker Ballet. This year I decided to add a Nutcracker Tea Party!  I decided to pull this together a couple of hours before the ballet, so I didn't have time to make many of my own treats, but thankfully there were some yummy bakeries in town and a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory! What else do you need?

I had a blast pulling some ornaments off the tree, setting out my tea set and making the table festive for the occasion!

 Lucy sure loved the hot chocolate and treats after seeing Clara in the land of sweets!

 Can't wait until next year!