July 13, 2011

Bastille Day

last years Bastille Day invite and a few of the menu items below

Did you know that tomorrow is Bastille Day? We celebrate every year and people always ask why and what is it- I usually reply it's kind of like the French 4th of July. When I needed to take a foreign language class in school, instead of opting for the useful and practical Spanish, my mom encouraged me to try French, as it was taught by the most amazing teacher, Monsieur Duhon. He taught with such enthusiasm and precision- learning French was a joy. My French teacher in High School, Madame Hull, was so fun and put up with so much from us crazy girls. She would make the most wonderful crepes with Nutella and fruit. I still covet a crepe maker like hers, or even maybe the higher end model? I'm sure she had the nice one. 

Since today is Wednesday this is certainly Wednesday Want appropriate- I'll tell you that if you love crepes and can operate a blender (or whisk well), you should get one of these and make your own! They're easy and delicious. Maybe I'll finally get a crepe maker by Bastille Day 2012 (but let's be honest, where would I put it even if I did?) For now I just use a nonstick pan and this wonderful recipe and it works just fine. I love France, their food, culture, learning about their history, and look forward to our French dinner party all year.

Every year we get a few more traditions and a few more items on the menu, too. It's a 'Frenchies' only dinner and last year we implemented the 'sans enfants' (no babies) rule. We don't do very many of those and it's wonderful to sit around and enjoy the food and the company without any sippy cups!

Last year I made boeuf bourguignon for the first time for dinner. Making something new for a dinner party is about the quickest way to raise my stress level, what was I thinking? Fortunately, dinner turned out yummy thanks to the lovely Barefoot Contessa and her fool proof recipes!

This year we are celebrating late and I'm still uncertain of the menu thanks to a whole new set of French recipes from the lovely Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. I've always used Barefoot in Paris for the food and Baking for the desserts but I'm going to have way too many options this year! Do you have a French favorite? Help me decide please!

I hope you make something French in honor of Bastille Day this week! I know it's a silly tradition but it's so fun to try something new, to gather with friends and enjoy each others company. See more French food here. It's not at all as difficult as you might think, I promise!

July 12, 2011

TWD- Chocolate Chip Scones

Can you believe I actually made this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe on time? I had a marathon baking session at my mom's last week and got a lot accomplished after my mom kindly pointed out that I was a total slacker and asked if anyone was still reading my blog. Thanks for reading, by the way. Anyways, these scones were a cinch to throw together and to satisfy my best customers I added mini chocolate chips. I halved the recipe and these were eaten up in no time. Even my mom, who doesn't like scones, said, "These are actually good, well, for scones." Another simple and delicious success thanks to Dorie. See the recipe at Lynne's beautiful site. Thanks for the great choice!

July 6, 2011

Chocolate Chip Muffins

What is the difference between a cupcake and a muffin? I'm sure it's something to do with the mixing method and the ratio of ingredients, but when I ate one of these this morning I felt like I was eating chocolate cake without the frosting for breakfast. In fairness, I did up the chocolatey flavor by included extra chocolate chips throughout the batter and on top and by using half Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder along with the regular stuff.This week's Tuesdays with Dorie choice worked out perfectly. The only problem I had with the recipe was photographing these little guys (every time I left them alone I ended up with at least one less muffin!) I'm sure my kids didn't mind the chocolate for breakfast dilemma.

Since today is a Wednesday Want day, I thought I would show some of my favorite tools for making muffins and what I actually used to make these last night. It didn't take many dishes or any out of the ordinary ingredients (for me, that means sour cream... I'm always borrowing it from the neighbors!) You don't even need a beloved KitchenAid for muffins!

1}. Medium Mixing Bowl (mine is similar to this set from Trudeau, via Sam's Club a few years ago)

2}. Microwave Safe Bowl (to melt the chocolate and butter together- I used my basic Corelle)

3}. Liquid Measuring Cup- I have a 1, 2, and 4 cup and at least one is always in the dishwasher. For this recipe, I skipped the buttermilk and just soured some milk with a teaspoon or so of vinegar in my measuring cup. Then I mixed in the rest of the liquid ingredients and poured it right over the dry to save a separate dish.

4}. Measuring Spoons (mine are from Target but I prefer the long skinny ones from Williams Sonoma- they would fit in any spice jar)

5}. Measuring Cups

6}. Large Silicone Spatula to gently mix it all together- I used to be in love with the KitchenAid ones (they're really affordable at Target, Ross, or TJ Maxx and come in a million colors to match your mixer) but prefer this Le Creuset Super Spatula I got from CSN Stores.

7}. Cookie Scoop- perfectly portioned batter every time. And I never use these for ice cream, though I know they are intended for that...

8}. In classic "do as I say, not as I do" fashion, I'd recommend sifting any time a recipe calls for cocoas powder. The final product will be smoother and the cocoa will be much better distributed.

I guess it turns out to a decent list, but I think most of you have a lot of this stuff already. With these tools and a light hand, quick and delicious muffins are in anyone's grasp. See the recipe for Dorie's Chocolate Muffins on Bridget's Blog here- they look gorgeous with the white chocolate chunks and colored muffin liners!

July 1, 2011

Happy Fourth!

Fresh Berry Pie (add Blueberry this time around)

Dorie Greenspan's Apple Pie (with a to die for crust)

I hope you're having a great start to the holiday weekend! We are going to have a little 'staycation' ourselves and I'm super excited. Strawberries are $0.77/pound again at Sprouts and the Fourth of the July is the perfect excuse to make any of these bright and festive desserts. We don't have any big traditions besides seeing a movie and going swimming, but I'm thinking I should get working on that (and strawberries should really be involved, or peaches, or maybe watermelon? I love that part of summer!) Do you have any awesome Fourth of July traditions? Speak up!