Oh, Hello… and yes, it’s been a while

It’s crazy that I just ‘Celebrated’ 6 years of blogging. I use the term ‘blogging,’ loosely as I’m more of an instant blogger. Whether it’s Tweeting out political jabs at the current administration, or filming Snapchat stories devoted to dinner. I instagram and then share to Facebook, and still call myself a ‘blogger.’ It’s actual total bullshit. 

In truth, and speaking candidly, I love to live life and live it well. Yes, not much has changed. I still love to bake, cook, and garden. I still love trying new things in and around the home, and I look forward to giving you all more ideas to try and enrich our lives; For you, your friends, and your family. 

In the past few years, while I wasn’t busy trying to derail America from fucking itself (which it did anyway,) I’ve discovered a love for modern wellness. Some say it’s hope in a jar, but I truly believe, and have preached for years that you are what you eat and what you do! Quality is key in everything we do. I strive to source the best-for-you ingredients, and recipes that will give us a dinner that’s quick and easy and most of all, fun! 

On a personal note, which is what blogs are… I fell in love this past year with the most amazing man! We’re ridiculously cute, and you’ll be insanely jealous. It’s totally cool! ๐Ÿ˜œ 

Also huge life change, I’m moving to Dallas, Texas later this Summer!! This small town guy from PA is going to be a Dallasite, and I’m so effing excited, y’all! 

I can’t promise I’ll blog regularly, and I can’t promise that I won’t blog all the time. With the move, and the new set of challenges that brings… I’m looking forward to blogging about everything I have before AKA “Domesticated bliss,” as well as some thoughts I have in passing, on absolutely whatever. It may be political or something physical, and it may be about some amazing place I stayed at on vacation. That may turn you off from the blog and me altogether, but that’s really unfortunate and sort of impossible because I have pretty amazing skin. (It’s the monk fruit I add to everything! We’ll talk about that later!) 

All my best,

B

Advertisements

The Coven Party

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! The air is getting crispier, the leaves are rustling, and not so far off in the distance you can hear a witch cackle after she sips her brew!

I’ve always wanted to have a witch-themed party. My favorite Wizard of Oz character was the wicked witch of the west. I loved Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic growing up. I may have (or still) dabble in a little harmless trickery now and then… ๐Ÿ˜‰

So I decided, in July, that this years theme would be “A Coven Party.” I only wanted to invite the women in my family to the event. 13, to be exact.

A ‘Coven’ is defined as a group or gathering of witches who meet regularly. (Thanks Google)

This was the perfect unifying theme for my Halloween party. An evening full of mysticism, great food, and laughter. We scheduled the evening to transpire during the Blood Moon in October.

What a magical night! We were faced with some challenges like heavy rains and wind, but after a spell (okay, and a few prayers) the rain cleared and our party was all set to take center stage.

The menu for the evening consisted of an autumn harvest theme starting with a Caramelized Shallot Soup with sautรฉed chestnuts and Gruyere cheese. We then served roasted fall vegetables and wild rice with balsamic mushrooms. The main course was a roasted pork loin with roasted persimmons and mustard greens. Everyone loved it!

The decorations were planned and made for weeks leading up to the party! The living room was our tribute to the witch of folk tales with spiders on the walls and ceiling. Ghastly curtains and upholstery covered the windows and furniture.

The dining room was centered as our practicing witch tribute. The dining room table served as an alter with straw, snakes, green eggs, and frogs. Also served as the place where all of our appetizers and desserts would be served. Witch sugar cookies, pumpkin breads, apples, and pumpkin Whoopie pies were all enjoyed after the feast while devilish eggs, cheeses, hummus, and assorted toasts were served prior to the meal.

Since we did the meal outside by our pool, we wanted to make a whimsical and magical environment for the evening, but keeping safety in check so no one fell in the pool. We took the prunings from our trees and bushes and placed them in large planters. We then took holiday lights and wrapped them around the clippings.

The centerpiece of our dinner table were two L Brackets drilled to a plywood base and then two somewhat large pruned branches were drilled into the L bracket to stand on their own. We put faux birds in the tree and laid pumpkins on the base, green of course. Glittered bugs, snakes, and spiders were all over the table with lots of Spanish moss.

The tablescape, the decor, and the food all made this night a smashing success! I hope you all find some inspiring ideas on here to go out and create your own Halloween party!

IMG_1451.JPG

IMG_1450.JPG

IMG_1452.JPG

IMG_1449.JPG

IMG_1453.JPG

IMG_1448.JPG

IMG_1433.JPG

IMG_1444.JPG

IMG_1428.JPG

IMG_1430.JPG

IMG_1432.JPG

IMG_1427.JPG

IMG_1441.JPG

IMG_1497.JPG

IMG_1437.JPG

IMG_1425.JPG

IMG_1418.JPG

IMG_1387.JPG

IMG_1381.JPG

IMG_1378.JPG

IMG_1421.JPG

IMG_1356.JPG

IMG_1335.JPG

IMG_1324.JPG

I hope you enjoyed our Coven festivities! Happy Halloween!!

GIANT Secrets: Cookies

The quest to find the perfect cookie is never ending. I argue there is no “Perfect” cookie, but finding high quality recipes that are tested and true is definitely a possibility!

I made these huge chocolate chip cookies last week for a bake sale and they were the nearest thing to perfection I’ve ever attempted. The recipe was on marthastewart.com, but belongs to Jacques Torres.

Here are a few substantial differences between recipes that I think make a huge difference.

Jacques uses half bread flour and half pastry flour. Baking is an exact science, and if you’re a nerd like me you’d know things like the differences between the four flour gods. The main difference is the protein content. Bread flour yields the highest protein content (14%) while pastry flour yields a smaller amount (9%.) The combination of the two together really create a harmonious blend for a cookie. If you can’t find pastry flour, you can attempt to make your own by adding cornstarch to All purpose flour 2Tbsp cornstarch/cup of flour, or alternatively use cake flour which has the least amount of protein (7.5%) and is close to pastry flour. I don’t like adding cornstarch, as it’s now technically an additive that serves no purpose in your cookie, and is likely GMO if you’re shopping at places that don’t carry pastry flour.

Other variances include using chocolate chunks instead of chocolate chips. It makes a huge difference. You can find pre cut chunks or make your own. You could even do half chunks and half chips.

Use an ice cream scoop with a release. This looks like a cookie scoop, but has about 4x the capacity in volume. I use my ice cream scoop for more baking purposes than ice cream uses. I also use my ice cream scoop for cupcakes. It’s the perfect amount of batter per liner and creates even “looking” cupcakes when baked by the dozens!

Baking soda vs Baking Powder? Here’s the easiest breakdown. They’re leavening agents in baking. Baking soda requires an acidic product of some sort for it to produce carbon dioxide in your batters. This causes the cookie/cake/cupcake to rise. Baking powder already contains the acidic ingredient (cream of tartar.) this recipe calls for both, notice the intense amount of chocolate in the recipe… Chocolate is an acidic ingredient.

You learn something new everyday. Here are some shots of the cookies! 20140614-092324-33804189.jpg

20140614-092322-33802550.jpg

20140614-092323-33803516.jpg

20140614-092323-33803111.jpg

Kitchen Bread

20140601-113525-41725683.jpg

The pantry is the food industry’s way at making us buy bulk spices, pastas, and grains we’ll never use, and just about anything else that will take months if not years to use!

However, we need a pantry! It’s our go to place for our baking essentials, condiments for our sandwiches, and oils for our cooking!

Many years ago I tried baking a kitchen sink cookie, which is pretty much an oatmeal-esque style cookie with odds and ends from the pantry (nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruits.) It was pretty good, a melange of ingredients that on their own stand out, but mixed together create a harmonious blend that makes a perfect cookie.

Considering that, I looked around my kitchen this morning and saw 2 overripe bananas, a Granny Smith apple, the remnants of a bag of dried cranberries, an almost empty box of golden raisins, and a half a small package of slivered amonds.

I guess you could call it “Nutty Banana Cran-Apple Raisin bread,” but I liked, “Kitchen Bread” better.

I didn’t even want to use the kitchen aid. This is a one bowl recipe! Give those triceps a workout!

Very easy. Preheat the oven to 350.

Butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan (full size)

Mash 2 overripe bananas together. Add 1/3 cup organic sugar and 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 4Tbsp very softened unsalted butter, and 2 eggs. Mix all of that together with a wired whisk. If it looks like vomit, you’re on the right track! ๐Ÿ˜‰

20140601-112547-41147634.jpg

Then add to that, 1 1/2 cups of organic whole wheat flour (or gluten free AP flour.) Whisk to combine, and now it looks like the bread/cake batter it should! Add 3/4tsp kosher salt,1/2tsp baking powder 1/4tsp Baking Soda, and 3/4 tsp cinnamon. Give it another whisk!

20140601-112956-41396625.jpg

Now add your left over goodies, I did 1/3cup cranberries, 1/3cup golden raisins, a skinned Granny Smith apple chopped, and about a 1/3 cup of slivered almonds. You could add shredded coconut, chocolate chips, nuts, dried cherries or apricots, the possibilities are endless!

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, insert a bamboo skewer to see if it’s done. Let cool for 10 minutes. Invert, let cool on a wired rack and immediately give it away to a friend, neighbor, or loved one before you eat the entire thing!

20140601-113747-41867590.jpg

Soft and Crunchy

20140601-063053-23453513.jpg

Chocolate Chip cookies are the most commonly baked cookie in America.

Just like a famous potato salad, slaw, or cookie (in this case), everyone seems to have their take on this classic.

My mother adds peanut butter chips to hers and the shape of them are bulky and chewy. They’re to die for!

I like a Cakey cookie, with a crunchy exterior. I roll my cookies in sparkling sanding sugar, and it really does make a difference. They glisten and are pretty to look at, but they also taste amazing and lend a crunchy initial bite before you get to a soft center!

Give it a try!

20140601-063528-23728212.jpg

Heirloom Apple Pie

Ingredients

Serves 8 to 10
Pate Brisee
3 1/2 pounds (about 8) heirloom apples, such as Arkansas Black, Calville Blanc, Carpentin, Jonathan, Knobbed Russet, or Northern Spy
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod reserved for another use
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons sanding sugar

Directions

On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 disk of pate brisee to 1/8-inch thickness. Fit into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Trim edges, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Roll remaining disk of dough into a 12-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and freeze until cold and firm, about 15 minutes.
Peel and core apples, then cut them into 1/2- to 1-inch chunks and place in a medium bowl. Add flour, granulated sugar, lemon juice, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla seeds, and toss.
Place apple mixture in prepared pie dish, and dot with butter. Center dough round over apples, and tuck overhang under edge of bottom dough. Using your fingers, gently pinch dough along edge to seal. Using a paring knife, cut eight 2 1/2-inch vents in dough to let steam escape. Freeze pie until firm, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix yolk and cream in a small bowl, and gently brush over dough. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees, and bake until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling, 60 to 75 minutes. Transfer pie to a wire rack, and let cool.

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

Ingredients

Makes about 6 dozen

  • FOR THE COOKIES
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (14 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • FOR THE ICING
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon evaporated milk,
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Make cookies: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low. Add pumpkin, evaporated milk, and vanilla; mix until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture; mix until combined.
  3. Transfer 1 1/2 cups batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip (such as Ateco #806). Pipe 1 1/2-inch rounds onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until tops spring back, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely.
  4. Make icing: Put confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl; set aside. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Immediately add butter to confectioners’ sugar, scraping any browned bits from sides and bottom of pan. Add evaporated milk and vanilla; stir until smooth. Spread about 1 teaspoon icing onto each cookie. If icing stiffens, stir in more evaporated milk, a little at a time. Cookies can be stored in single layers in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

Read more at Marthastewart.com:ย Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing – Martha Stewart Recipes