Tag Archives: NanaBread

Peanut Butter & Co Plays Two Ways

Confession: I once jogged 5 miles for a big jar of peanut butter.
It was my junior year of high school and a friend’s dad bet he could train me to run 5 miles. My first thought was “Joke’s on you, suckah! I don’t run unless my butt’s on fire.” My second was “What’s in it for me?” His bait: a giant jar of peanut butter. This will date me, but it was 1980 and there was a nation-wide peanut butter shortage. As a PB junkie, I was game. After a few weeks of training, I ran that 5 miles and claimed my prize. Then, because I have 4 sisters, I promptly hid it under a pile of laundry in my room because a.) kids never touch laundry, b.) I didn’t care to share, and c.) see above re: peanut butter shortage.

If any sisters are reading this, I apologize. It was a dark time for peanut butter lovers and I went into “every man for himself” mode. I did what I had to.

Peanut Butter & Company recently issued a Mystery Ingredient Challenge to members of its Yum Squad. Sign up, and they would send you not only the peanut butter to play with, but a secret ingredient. Until your box arrived, you would have no idea what your mystery ingredient might be.

Here’s the peanut butter I chose to play with for this challenge:

PB&Co - White & Dark Chocolate Peanut Butters

And here’s my mystery ingredient:

PB&Co - Secret Ingredient - Espresso Powder

If you know me, you know I’m a coffee lover. I don’t function in the morning until I’ve quaffed my first cup, so this secret ingredient was perfect for me. Pinterest has been taunting me with scones lately and I found myself craving warm, flaky layers. So the first thing I made was a two-tone layered scone based on the America’s Test Kitchen cream scone recipe.

PB&Co - Two-Tone Scones2 - March 2015

NANABREAD’S TWO-TONE CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER SCONE

For the white chocolate peanut butter layer:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes & chilled
3 tablespoons White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter
1/2 to 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream, as needed

Place all ingredients except the cream in a food processor and process for 6-8 pulses. Turn the processor on and slowly add enough cream until the dough sticks together and starts to form a ball. It should be the consistency of a soft biscuit dough. Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few times, forming it into a square about 3/4″ thick.

For the dark chocolate peanut butter layer:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon Medaglia D’Oro instant espresso powder
1/2 cup semi-sweet miniature chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes & chilled
3 tablespoons Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter
1/2 to 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream, as needed

Place all ingredients except the cream in a food processor and process for 6-8 pulses. Turn the processor on and slowly add enough cream until the dough sticks together and starts to form a ball. It should be the consistency of a soft biscuit dough. Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few times, forming it into a square about 3/4″ thick.

To layer, make sure each square of dough is the same size. Brush the top of the dark chocolate dough with a little cream and place the white chocolate layer on top. Press gently and square up the sides, then set aside while you make the glaze.

For the espresso glaze:
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, chilled
1 teaspoon Medaglia D’Oro instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
2 tablespoons raw or Demerara sugar crystals, to sprinkle on top

In a small bowl, combine the cream, espresso powder and honey or agave. Whisk until smooth.

Pre-heat your oven to 425F and prepare an 8″ square baking pan by spraying it lightly with baking spray or lining it with parchment paper. Using a large kitchen knife or a bench scraper, cut the layered scone dough into equal pieces (I cut mine into 3 rows of 3 for 9 smallish scones). Place them in the baking pan so that the sides are just touching. Using a pastry brush, brush the entire surface of the scones with a thick coating of glaze, then sprinkle generously with raw sugar crystals. Bake for 14-18 minutes, or just until a toothpick comes out clean. I don’t like dry scones, so I tend to take mine out of the oven when there are still a few small crumbs sticking to that toothpick. Serve warm from the oven with a pat of butter and a hot cup of coffee. Man, I wish you could smell these.

PB&Co - Two-Tone Scones1 - March 2015

“But NanaBread… that recipe only used 3 tablespoons of each peanut butter. What else can we make with all of the ooey gooey peanut butter goodness left in those jars?” Well, I’m glad you asked, because (and I love to say this)…

BUT WAIT… THERE’S MORE!

I also made a layered peanut butter parfait using both White Chocolate Wonderful and Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter AND my beloved secret ingredient espresso powder. That’s right, folks! It’s a parfait of chocolate espresso cake layered with creamy peanut butter custard and topped with espresso whipped cream and cake crumbs. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!

PB&Co - Chocolate Espresso PB Parfaits - Trio

NANABREAD’S TWO-WAY PEANUT BUTTER ESPRESSO PARFAIT

For the cake:
1 box (15.25 ozs) Betty Crocker Triple-Chocolate cake mix
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon Medaglia D’Oro instant espresso powder

Whisk all ingredients until smooth and pour into a prepared 13″ x 9″ baking pan. Bake according to the directions on the cake mix box, just until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

For the peanut butter custard:
1 box (4.6 ozs.) Jell-O Cook & Serve vanilla custard mix
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
1 tub (8 ozs.) mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)
1/2 cup each of White Chocolate Wonderful & Dark Chocolate Dreams

In a saucepan, combine the vanilla custard powder and milk and whisk until combined. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture is thick and bubbly. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool, then transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled.

Once chilled, divide the custard equally into two bowls. Add half of the mascarpone (4 ozs.) and one type of peanut butter to each bowl. Whisk until smooth and keep refrigerated until assembly.

For the espresso whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
1 teaspoon Medaglia D’Oro instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons sugar, to taste

In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Whip with an electric mixer until it thickens and holds stiff peaks. Scrape it into a plastic bag and press all the air out, and place in the refrigerator until needed.

To assemble, cut the cooled cake into circles the size of the glass you’re serving these in. Start by placing a layer of cake, then spoon in the dark chocolate peanut butter custard. Top it with a another layer of cake, followed by the white chocolate peanut butter custard. Continue to layer until each glass is full, then snip the tip off that plastic bag and pipe a layer of espresso whipped cream on top. To finish, crumble leftover cake scraps over the top of each parfait. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

PB&Co - Chocolate Espresso PB Parfaits - Close-Up

I made these in two sizes – small 8-oz disposable cups for ‘party-size’ servings and large 20-oz iced tea glasses for ‘I’m alone watching a movie in my pj’s and no one can see me’ servings. As I’ve said before, this blog is a no judgement zone. These were so good, Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug didn’t come up for air.

Me: “Is it good? Do you like it?”
Them: Nod vigorously; keep shoveling
Verdict: The proof is literally in the pudding.

PB&Co - Chocolate Espresso PB Parfaits - Mine

Special thanks to Peanut Butter & Co for sending me a big ol’ box of fun for their Mystery Ingredient Challenge. They were kind enough to provide multiple jars of peanut butter and a jar of espresso powder at no cost to me, and I had a ball playing with it. To clarify, as a member of the Peanut Butter & Co Yum Squad, I am not compensated in any way. I just love the product and enjoy experimenting with it. To find out more about the many fabulous flavors they sell, CLICK HERE.

YumSquad-Banner-MysteryIngredient-espresso

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes, Things I Love

OXO offers pans now? YES!

We all know OXO makes a million fabulous kitchen gadgets, and I’ve made no bones about the fact that I use mine with enthusiasm. They are some of my favorites because of three key things:

1. they’re thoughtfully designed,
2. they’re well constructed & durable, and
3. they’re always affordable

When OXO launches something new, my ears perk up. When they announced they were launching a new line of pots & pans, my jaw dropped. And when they then offered members of their Blogger Outreach Program the chance to possibly test drive one, I jumped at the chance. With both feet. Receiving the e-mail that I’d been selected to receive my pan of choice was like opening presents on Christmas morning. I was giddy. Openly, gleefully giddy.

Here it is, y’all – My Precious.

OXO - 12 Inch Non-Stick Skillet - With Text

It’s sturdy. A little on the heavy side, but WOW is it solid. My first test was a simple soft fried egg. Nothing tests a new non-stick pan like a delicate egg. Result: so slippery, it sent my fried egg spinning when I swirled the pan. Also impressive was the heat distribution of the skillet due to the hard-anodized aluminum construction of the pan and that built-in heat disc in the bottom. Smart.

OXO - 12 Inch Non-Stick Skillet - Bottom

I also like the rise and slope on the sides of this skillet. The rolled edge is high enough to contain bubbly sauces and perfectly pitched to slide those early morning omelets onto a plate, even before you’ve had your coffee. It also allows sauces to be expertly poured. Again, smart design.

OXO - 12 Inch Non-Stick Skillet - Coating

My ultimate test for a new non-stick pan is caramel – hot, gooey, sticky thermonuclear caramel. To put my pan to the test, I opted for a baked caramel apple pancake. It starts on the stove and finishes in the oven, so it was a perfect way to test this pan. And since this skillet can take oven temperatures up to 430F, you can fearlessly go from stove to oven.

Baked Apple Pancake - Browned Butter & Brown Sugar

I started with butter and brown sugar and let it heat up to see if it would stick. I was surprised at how easily I could move the caramel around the pan without anything sticking. As it got hotter and hotter, I kept moving it around with a silicone spatula. As you can see from the photo, it didn’t stick at all and moved easily around the pan.

Baked Apple Pancake - Easy Caramel

While the sugar was caramelizing, I peeled and sliced 3 apples. I like firm, sweet apples like Gala, Pink Lady or SweeTangos. Cored and sliced into even pieces (about 1/4″ thick), they’re ready to roll.

Baked Apple Pancake - Apples1

Baked Apple Pancake - Apples2

Tip: remove the skillet from the heat while you add the apple slices. It takes a few minutes to get them arranged to look pretty, and removing the pan from the heat keeps your caramel from burning while you work.

Baked Apple Pancake - Apples in Caramelized Butter & Sugar

Because I prefer firm apples, I like to pop them in the oven and let them bake 5-10 minutes before adding the pancake batter. Once the caramel is bubbling and the apples are toasty, I remove the pan from the oven and pour the batter evenly over the top. It goes back into the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the pancake is just set and firm. Confession: I love bubbly edges on pancakes.

Baked Apple Pancake - Pancake Batter - Post-Bake

You know it’s done when you can gently press on the surface of the pancake and it bounces back. It’s better to take this one out a little early than to over bake it, so keep an eye on it during that last few minutes.

Now for the tricky part – flipping it out of the pan. I flipped mine immediately after I took it out of the oven and got a caramel burn on my wrist, so in retrospect, I’d wait 5-10 minutes and let it cool next time. I need to learn to be patient when pancakes are involved. To flip mine, I placed a piece of parchment over the pancake, then set a plate on top of that. Using a folded kitchen towel, I grabbed the skillet on both sides instead of the handle and gave it a quick flip.

The true moment of truth is when you lift the skillet. That’s when you see if your pan is a hero or a zero based on how many apple slices are stuck to the pan. Here’s what I got. You be the judge.

Baked Apple Pancake - Flipped & Flawless

Booyah, baby! Look at that gorgeous golden caramel apple beauty.

Want to see what the skillet looked like? I expected it to be coated in a thick, deeply entrenched layer of molten sugar but this is what I saw.

Baked Apple Pancake - Sticky Caramel Goo

This is the part where I’d usually mutter bad words and grab a scouring pad. Oh, OXO… how I test thee. Instead, I ran a little hot water in the skillet and let it sit for a minute while I grabbed plates, forks and syrup. To my surprise, the remaining crusty sugar wiped right out. No scrubbing. No sweating. No cursing. It seriously wiped right out with a paper towel. Way to go, OXO. You win again. And technically, I win too.

OXO - 12 Inch Non-Stick Skillet - Handle

Final Thoughts:
1. This is my new favorite skillet. For real.
2. The size (at 12″) is great for just about any task.
3. It is well constructed and sturdy, which I expect from OXO.
4. It browned evenly and held heat beautifully, which is a must for me.
5. OXO says this skillet is dishwasher safe, but I always hand wash non-stick pans because I’m a big ol’ chicken.
6. This skillet is on the heavy side, which may prove hard to handle for someone who’s older, younger or has problems handling heavier pots or pans. If heft isn’t an issue, you’ll love it.
7. Overall rating – two thumbs way up. I’ll be using this pan for years to come.

If you’d like to take a shot at this easy baked caramel apple pancake, here’s how you can recreate it at home.

2 cups baking mix (Bisquick or my favorite – Pioneer Buttermilk Baking Mix)
2-3 tablespoons raw (or granulated) sugar
1 pinch of salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 to 1 cup low-fat buttermilk (can sub regular milk)
2-3 large apples – peeled, cored & cut into 1/4″ slices
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the baking mix, raw or granulated sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla & buttermilk. Whisk until smooth. Batter should be a little on the thin side, like crepe batter. Set aside to rest, and start on your apples. Peel, core and slice the apples. Heat your non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, then add the butter and brown sugar. Stir until the sugar melts and the mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat and arrange your apple slices. Pop the skillet into a hot oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the caramel mixture is bubbling furiously around the edges. Remove the skillet from the oven and pour the pancake batter evenly over the top. Return to the oven and bake just until the pancake is set, approximately 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow your pancake to cool for 5-10 minutes before flipping.

To flip, invert a plate larger than the skillet over the top, place one hand firmly on top of the plate, grab the handle with a dish towel and flip quickly. If you’re not a confident or expert flipper, invert the plate over the skillet, then place a kitchen towel folded lengthwise across the skillet. Place one hand on each side of the skillet, grabbing the plate with your thumbs and using your fingers to grab the skillet. Either way, flip quickly.

Note: if you’re using an older non-stick skillet that doesn’t release as well, run a silicone spatula around the edge of the skillet to help the pancake release prior to flipping. If you’re still left cursing your old ratty non-stick, consider acquiring one of these new OXO beauties. You will not regret it.

For this apple pancake, I made a simple cinnamon cream syrup.

1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat all 3 ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking often, until the mixture comes to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and transfer to a small pouring pitcher. Serve hot.

Baked Caramel Apple Pancake - Breakfast is Served

Disclaimer: This OXO 12″ non-stick skillet was provided to me free of charge by the OXO Blogger Outreach Program so that I could play with it and share my experience. All opinions are my own, and are my honest take on it. Have you tried OXO yet? Which are your favorite OXO products? To learn more about OXO cookware, CLICK HERE.

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes, Things I Love

The times, they are a-changing.

So many changes in this new year, my friends. I’ll start with an apology for not posting since before Thanksgiving. Your patience has been greatly appreciated. In fact, readership has actually increased, and for that I am truly grateful. That you choose to follow the random thoughts in my head is an endless source of amazement and joy, and I love you for it.

What’s happening? Lots. First, The Complete Package is retiring! He likes to joke that I retired years ago when our first grandchild was born. He is not wrong, although technically it was more like dropping out to play Nana than retiring. The fact that I never went back to work was just a bonus (for me). Now, at long last, he will be joining me in what I like to refer to as our “funemployed years”. What’s on tap? All kinds of things, starting with this:

WE’RE MOVING TO AUSTIN!

Austin House - Street View with Banner
We found our ultimate retirement home in the rolling hills west of Austin. It’s a beautiful 4 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath one-story home with all of the features we’ve dreamed of – an open floor plan, low maintenance, high ceilings, wood floors and sweeping hill country views. Oh, and did I mention the kitchen? I knew I was home the instant I saw it.

Austin House - New Kitchen

Austin House - Kitchen Island

Austin House - Kitchen Tile

That island! Huge is an understatement. By all estimates, I’d guess it should accommodate 40 pies, 400 cinnamon rolls (at least), and sleep 4 full-grown adults if we run out of beds. It’s insane. I also love the great windows, morning light, deep counters and that herringbone subway tile backsplash. I can hardly believe I’m going to get to live here. For real – it almost brings tears to my eyes.

I’m looking forward to baking with the kids and cooking big family dinners. The idea being close enough for regular Sunday Suppers with the family has been a dream since our daughter graduated from UT and settled in Austin. We’ll be able to take the kids for long hikes in the hills, ride bikes around the miles of paved trails, and spend quality time at the neighborhood pool & play areas. Something else I’m looking forward to – a covered porch where I can relax and enjoy a good book or a cup of coffee. Guess what? Dreams do come true, kids.

Austin House - Back Porch

Austin House - Hill Country Views

And because the new house sits on top of a hill, we have great views of our new neighborhood and the rolling hills out by Lake Travis. I can hardly wait to pick out patio furniture. Besides the new house, we are thrilled to pieces to be closer to our daughter, Jonah Bear and Lilly Bug. With her pending divorce, we’ll now be there to help out and that gives all of us greater peace of mind. The kids are already plotting weekend sleepovers and calling dibs on bedrooms. They’re not alone. The Complete Package & I are ridiculously exited, too.

Blog posts may be few and far between for a bit. We’re working to list and sell our home of 25 years in Houston and prepare for the big move to Austin. If all goes well, we’ll be moving in early April (fingers crossed). I’ll try to keep you posted on our progress, if you’re interested. My goal is to be back up to full speed by May, with as many posts as possible in between, until I’m firmly planted here:

Austin House - Kitchen Desk with Arrow

Once we’re settled, I’ll break in that kitchen, hit the back roads to explore, and bring you new content from our little corner of Austin. Oh, the places we’ll go!
If you live in the Austin area, be forewarned – I’M COMING FOR YOU!
And I could not be more excited. -jeanne

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Filed under Family Stuff, Miscellaneous Thoughts, Things I Love

#OXOTurkeyDay – Dinner For Two

OXO TurkeyDay - Title Shot

There are very few brands I love unconditionally. OXO is one of them. Their products are not only well made, but thoughtfully designed. This year, OXO is celebrating Turkey Day by sharing an array of Thanksgiving-friendly products via their Blogger Outreach Program, which I’m proud to be part of.

Tools in the #OXOTurkeyDay kit included the following:

OXO TurkeyDay - Tool Collage2
Left to Right: The most amazing twine dispenser (twine included), a non-slip butter dish with cover, a thoughtfully designed turkey baster with an angled neck & counter rest to prevent drips (and cleaning brush), and the turkey lifter that makes transferring your bird from pan to serving platter a snap.

OXO TurkeyDay - Tools Collage1
Left to Right: That twine dispenser I’m in love with (did I mention that?), a better look at the bird lifter’s design, and a fat separator only a gravy hoarder can truly appreciate. If only it worked on my thighs.

I started by tackling the bird. Since it’s just the two of us at home, The Complete Package picked out a lovely organic chicken that came in at around 4 pounds. Perfect! After the bird was properly cleaned & prepped, I broke out that twine dispenser and trussed her like 50 Shades of Prey. From there, I stuffed softened butter and fresh sage leaves under the skin, massaged more butter onto the outside, and gave her a generous sprinkle of kosher salt mixed with freshly ground black pepper and ground poultry seasoning.

OXO Turkey Day - Chicken Prep Collage

You know what I love most about preparing a turkey at Thanksgiving? Fresh sage. If you can get your hands on some, use it. Those frosted velvet leaves are so fragrant and wonderful. It’s the stuff Turkey Day dreams are made of.

#OXOTurkey Day - Fresh Sage

Next up was my mother-in-law’s easy cornbread dressing recipe. We make it every year without fail – come hell or high water. Some people insist on green bean casserole. Some go nuts without their beloved yams or cranberry sauce.
For us, it’s not Thanksgiving without Louise’s cornbread dressing.

#OXOTurkeyDay - Dressing Collage

The Complete Package has certain ideas about Thanksgiving dinner that are set in stone. His mother’s dressing is one. Mashed potatoes with gravy is another. I use thin-skinned white potatoes and leave the skins on. I like the rustic, vitamin-rich goodness of potatoes with the skins on. My secret is to add 2-3 tablespoons of Fage 0% fat-free Greek yogurt, real butter and a dash of milk. Perfect. Every. Time. My tool of choice is an old-fashioned hand masher. I also tried out the new OXO butter dish. It’s made with a sturdy non-slip metal base and has a clear acrylic cover that keeps funky fridge odors at bay. If you have fridge funk, that is. I’m not judging. This is a judgement-free blog. No judging here.

OXO Turkey Day - Mashed Potato Collage

In our house, every drop of bird broth is reserved for the most coveted of condiments – gravy. I looked forward to testing out the OXO fat separator, and it didn’t disappoint. Once the bird was baked, we poured the drippings & broth through the removable strainer and the separator did the rest. The red silicone stopper prevents spills and pops out easily when you’re ready to pour. Like all OXO products, the measurement markings are A+ here. I love that OXO uses bold, colorful markings for aging far-sighted Nanas like me.

OXO TurkeyDay - Gravy Collage

My last side dish was bacon-wrapped green bean bundles. These are so easy! Just blanch fresh green beans for 3-5 minutes in boiling salted water, then plunge them in ice, pat dry with paper towels, and wrap with bacon. I used a thick-sliced hickory smoked bacon. I also sprinkled half of the bundles with a coarsely ground black pepper to add so zing, because bacon & black pepper are BFFs. For real.

OXO TurkeyDay - Green Bean Bundle Collage

We also grabbed a few cornmeal rolls from the freezer (thank you Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic) and a jar of my homemade cherry, pear & apple cranberry sauce. The Complete Package needs gravy. I need my cranberries.
For me, it’s just not Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce.

OXO TurkeyDay - Finished Dinner

Start to finish, I had dinner on the table in 3 hours. Not bad for a table for two of all our Thanksgiving favorites with leftovers. You HAVE to have leftovers for the sandwiches alone. Am I right? Yes? Don’t leave me hanging, people.

OXO TurkeyDay - Finished Dinner2

My deepest thanks to the fine folks at OXO for providing all the tools we needed for our holiday feast. Now here’s a quick rundown of the recipes shown above.

Louise’s Easy Cornbread Dressing:
1 envelope (6 ozs.) Pioneer yellow cornbread mix
1 envelope (6 ozs.) Pioneer buttermilk biscuit mix
milk, eggs & oil – as directed on the above packages
Pam cooking spray to coat the baking pan
1 cup minced celery
1/2 cup minced white or yellow onion
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 can (10 ozs.) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 box (32 ozs.) low-sodium chicken broth (see below)
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
salt & pepper to taste

Dump the cornbread and biscuit mixes into a large mixing bowl and add the eggs, milk & oil listed on the package instructions for both mixes. Whisk until smooth and pour into a lightly sprayed 8″ x 8″ baking pan. Bake at 375F until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is lightly browned. Remove from the oven & allow to cool to room temperature. Using a knife, score the cornbread into 1″ pieces and dump them into a large mixing bowl.

In a small skillet or pan, saute the celery and onion in 2 tablespoons of butter until lightly browned and translucent. Pour over the cornbread cubes and add the undiluted chicken soup and seasonings. Add enough chicken broth to create a moist but not soggy cornbread mixture (approx. 1 to 1 1/2 cups, then save the rest for gravy). Spoon into a lightly sprayed baking pan and bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes, or until the top starts to brown lightly. Serve hot.

NanaBread’s Simple Mashed Potatoes:
6-8 small white potatoes, scrubbed
2-3 tablespoons Fage 0% fat-free Greek yogurt
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
a splash of milk, if needed
salt & pepper to taste

Place washed whole potatoes into a saucepan and cover with water. Cook over medium heat until you can pierce the potatoes with a paring knife, and the knife goes easily through the cooked potatoes. Drain & return to the pan. Add the yogurt, butter and salt & pepper and mash with a potato masher or heavy fork until mostly smooth. If they are a little dry, add a splash of milk. Keep warm until everything else is ready.

Easy Poultry Gravy:
3 tablespoons butter or canola oil
3-4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2-3 cups broth from your baked bird, or boxed broth from above
salt & pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon poultry seasoning

In a saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and flour, whisking until smooth and slightly browned (3-5 minutes). Slowly whisk in the chicken/turkey broth and whisk until smooth. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking often to prevent lumps. Season with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning and keep warm until all else is ready.

Bacon-Wrapped Green Bean Bundles:
1 pound of fresh green beans
12 slices of hickory smoked thick-cut bacon
1 teaspoon salt
coarsely ground black pepper, optional

In a saucepan, add enough water to fill the pan half-full. Add one teaspoon of salt and bring the water to a boil. Snap the stem ends off the green beans, then blanch them for 3-5 minutes in the boiling salt water. Remove from the boiling water and plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and pat dry on paper towels, then divide them into four piles. Gather each pile into a bundle and wrap with 3 slices of bacon. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil, and arrange your bundles in the pan. Sprinkle with black pepper, if desired. Bake at 425F on the middle rack until the bacon is throughly cooked and starts to brown. If needed, fold the foil over the exposed green beans to keep them from overcooking. Once the bacon is done, remove from the oven and keep warm.

NanaBread’s Sage & Butter-Basted Bird:
1 whole chicken (mine was 4 pounds)
1/2 stick of butter, softened to room temperature
8-10 fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon McCormick poultry seasoning
1 to 2 cups chicken broth, for the roasting pan
string to truss the bird

Begin by removing the chicken from the package and rinsing it thoroughly under lukewarm water. Pat dry with paper towels and place on a cutting board. Using cotton twine, tie the wingtips under the bird and tie the drumsticks together at the ankles. Run your fingers under the skin of the bird to loosen it, then rub at least half the softened butter under the skin, covering as much ground as you can. Gently place the whole sage leaves under the skin, then massage the bird with the remaining butter. Mix the salt, pepper & poultry seasoning and sprinkle it all over the bird. Place in a roasting pan and add the chicken broth. Cover and bake at 375F for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 20-30 minutes until nicely brown and the bird reaches 165F with an instant read meat thermometer. Baste once or twice when the bird is uncovered, and she’ll come out gorgeous.

For Kirsten’s Cornmeal Buns, click here. She made them as burger buns, but they are also fabulous as knotted dinner rolls. They’re my favorite.

So now you know our Thanksgiving favorites. What are yours? Do you have traditional dishes you prepare each year, or do you like to wing it (turkey pun) and try new things? Share here! You never know when your old family favorite might become someone else’s new family favorite. If you’ve posted them on your own blog, be sure to leave a link in your comment so we can all click over.

Happy #OXOTurkeyDay to one and all,
Jeanne

23 Comments

Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes

Simple Apple, Pear & Cranberry Pie

Hello, Fall. I’ve missed you terribly. You didn’t write. You didn’t call.

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie - Inside NanaBread's Head

I love fall fruits, especially apples and pears. Earlier this week, a blogger tweeted that she’d just tried her first SweeTango apple and it blew her mind. She mentioned her favorite apple had always been the honeycrisp, and that’s what caught my attention. Honeycrisps are my favorite apple, too. So my next visit to the grocery store, guess what I looked for? You got it. And was she right? You betcha. Crisp, super sweet and beautifully colored, I’m afraid these are going to become my new apple obsession. They are spectacular. Pie worthy, in fact.

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie - The Fruit

For this pie, I sliced my apples thin and my pears even thinner. I usually like a big chunky apple pie, but for this one, I wanted thin slices piled high and dotted with dried cranberries. The heart wants what the heart wants.

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie - Sliced Fruit

Here’s food for thought… I watched an episode of Cook’s Illustrated on PBS and they used fruit pectin powder to thicken a peach pie. Say what? Now I’ve used pectin for years when canning fruit, but it never occurred to me to bake with it. Makes sense, if you think about it, so I decided to try it with this one. And since I used instant tapioca granules to thicken my peach pie this summer, I wondered what would happen if I did both. For science. Why not, right?

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie Thickeners

Combining apple juice, sugar, instant tapioca, pectin & vanilla extract, I made a slightly thick, gently sweetened, vanilla-kissed filling that paired perfectly with the apples and pears and created a nice balance for the tart cranberries. Once the mixture was thickened, I just poured it over the fruit and tossed it to coat. So quick and simple. The tapioca still looks a little cloudy here, but don’t worry – it’s clear and unrecognizable once it’s baked.

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie - Fruit & Thickeners

After that, it’s just dough, butter, blah blah PIE! Man, how I love pie. But seriously, there’s only one pie dough recipe for me, and it’s Kirsten’s ‘No Excuses Pie Dough’ from ComfortablyDomestic.com. Once you make this one, nothing less will do. I make it in batches, wrap it in plastic, seal it into heavy bags and pop it in the freezer so I can produce pies on a whim. And that’s another reason I love this recipe – Kirsten’s dough freezes beautifully.

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie - Kirsten's Pie Dough

Just thaw, roll on a floured surface, and pop it in a pie tin. And then concentrate on stuffing every last bit of that filling into that shell. Top with a fat, rustic lattice, crimp the edges, brush with melted butter and sprinkle generously with raw sugar crystals. Easy, right?

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie - Ready for Baking

It really is easy. The only hard part is the waiting – for it to come out of the oven when it smells so amazing, for it to thicken and cool, for dinner to end so you can cut it. It’s always the waiting part that gets me.

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie - Warm from the Oven

NanaBread’s Apple, Pear & Cranberry Pie:
1 recipe for Kirsten’s ‘No Excuses’ pie dough
1 1/2 pounds (3 large) SweeTango apples
1 1/2 pounds (3 large) Star Krimson red pears
1/2 to 2/3 cup Craisins dried cranberries (to taste)
1 cup apple juice or apple cider
3 tablespoons quick-cook tapioca granules
1 tablespoon powdered fruit pectin
1/2 to 2/3 cup granulated sugar (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons raw sugar granules

Start by making the pie dough and chilling it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or the freezer for 30 minutes. While your dough is chilling, prep your fruit and filling.

Peel, core and thinly slice the apples and pears. I sliced my pears a little thinner than the apples since they take a little longer to bake. Place in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle in the dried cranberries.

In a small saucepan, combine the apple juice or cider, tapioca granules, pectin and sugar. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking often, until the sugar is melted and the mixture begins to bubble. Turn off the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.

Remove the pie dough from the fridge and roll out a bottom crust, placing it gently into the pie tin. Roll a top crust and cut into wide strips (1 1/2″) so you can form a rustic lattice top.

Pour the filling over the fruit and toss to thoroughly coat all the fruit. Spoon it into the pie shell, pressing it gently into the crust to compact the fruit. Lattice the pie dough strips onto the top of the pie, then roll the lower crust edges around the edge of the pie tin and crimp all around.

In a small bowl, melt the butter and brush the entire crust. If there is melted butter left, simply pour it over the top of the pie. Sprinkle the entire pie with the raw sugar granules.

Bake in a pre-heated oven (375F) for 45-60 minutes, turning every 20 minutes, until light golden brown. Watch it once it starts to brown. Everyone’s oven is different, and yours may take more or less time depending on how hot it runs. Once golden brown, remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool completely before serving (4-6 hours).

Apple Pear Cranberry Pie - Cut Pie - Inside NanaBread's Head

This pie was so good! It’s going on my ‘must make’ list for the holidays now. I might even rank it above all former apple pie recipes as my new favorite. Maybe even above most other pies in general. It’s definitely invited for Christmas.

Sorry, Pumpkin Pie. I’m breaking up with you.

It’s not you. It’s me.

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Filed under Food & Recipes, Things I Love

Sew Busy: Embroidered Tote Bags

Sometimes when I start on a craft project, I have a hard time stopping. Pacing is not really my thing. A few weeks ago, Big Sis came down for a weekend and I dragged out a handful of embroidery ideas I’d found on Pinterest, along with a few fabrics to pair them to. Once we gathered the supplies to pull it all together, I became obsessed. Like nine bags in a week obsessed. Intervention, anyone?

Now I’m not crazy. There is a story behind my stitching. These lined shopping totes are intended for our annual Hoegarden Weekend, that magical time when the females in our family gather to shop, antique, play board games, cook, snack and break out the croquet mallets. Here’s a peek at what I’ve been up to, and who’s already claimed what.

The “How I Roll” Camper Bag
Camper Bag

Camper Bag close-up

Sister #3 has already laid claim to this one, sight unseen. She has a thing for campers and as soon as she heard it was in the works, she called dibs. I love the colors – so whimsical and fun.

The “Runs With Scissors” Bag
Runs With Scissors Bag

Runs With Scissors Bag Detail

I made this one with Mom in mind. As a life-long quilter and seamstress, it suits her to a T. She has spent a lifetime teaching the five of us every type of craft – from knitting to sewing to embroidery to, well you name it. Red is her color, and this fun bag will be perfect for transporting supplies back & forth to her Cozy Quilters meetings each Wednesday. Hope she likes it!

The “Make A Wish” Dandelion Bag
Dandelion Bag

Dandelion Bag close-up

This one is mine. I love the color & patterns in the print, but most of all I love the simplicity of it. I’m not letting this one go, no matter how hard they wish.

The “Nerdy Hooter” Tote
Owl Bag

Owl Close-Up

I didn’t name this one, my daughter did when she laid claim to this bag. She fell in love with this cute, sassy owl. The bag is lined in a cute owl print, as well. As a first grade teacher, her class will love it. And it’s large, which makes it perfect for bringing her work home each night.

The “Sleep Under the Stars” Bag
Camping Under the Stars Bag

Camping Under the Stars close-up

I made this one with our Baby Sister in mind. She’s always loved camping, and with her son in Boy Scouts, they get the chance to practice their camping skills often. I especially love the animal print. Check out their cute chevron tails! If The Baby wants this one, she’d better mark her territory quickly.

The “French Knot Flowers” Bag
French Knot Flowers Bag

French Knot Flowers Detail

So…many…knots! But I love how the flowers turned out. I like to think of them as firework flowers. As a button enthusiast, this one makes me happy. The bright colors of the bag and lining are so cheerful.

The “Bee Happy” Bag
Bee Happy Bag

Bee Happy Detail

Speaking of happy…this cute bee was one of the first bags I tackled. To make the wings stand out, I painted a thin layer of iridescent opal fabric paint before stitching on the details. Extra layers of thread on the bee body make it slightly 3-dimensional and the colorful floral print seemed a natural choice.

The “Don’t Bug Me” Bag
Chevron Bug Bag

Chevron Bug Bag close-up

Bees don’t have all the fun. This little chevron cutie is paired with a vine & flower print and was inspired by the tiny bugs in the print. The eyes are vintage gemstone buttons scored at an estate sale this summer. Too cute.

The “Let’s Get Swept Away” Bag
Swept Away Bag

Swept Away Close-Up

And last, but certainly not least, this adorable ‘swept away’ bag was made with my niece (K) in mind. Big Sis thought her baby would love it. There’s so much promise in the design, and so many opportunities in life to get swept up in. It’s not just a bag, it’s a motto. No pressure, K. You can choose another bag if it speaks to you (even though she’s blonde & adorable like you).

Swept Away Detail

I got totally swept up in this project, and I’m not quite done yet. Big Sis is working on her own embroidered front panel featuring a vintage bicycle, and once she’s done she’ll send it back so I can finish it to match the others. There are also plans to make small bags for our two littlest girls (both 5 years old). Four generations of crafty females in our family make me so proud to be a part of it.

What was the last craft project you got swept up in? -jeanne

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Filed under Craft Projects, Family Stuff

The Uncommon Goods-ness of Gnomes

Uncommon Goods - Gnome Onesie & Blanket Duo - cutest baby gift

When opportunity knocks, sometimes super cute things await. Such was the case when Uncommon Goods asked if I’d be interested in sampling goods from their baby gift collection. Since my friend Madelyn announced she is expecting her first baby in January, the timing was perfect. I couldn’t resist, and chose these gnomes. I knew they’d be cute, but I had no idea they’d be so well-made.

Uncommon Goods - Gnome Onesie & Hat Close-Up

Both the onesie/hat set and the blanket are made of recycled fibers. If you think recycled implies a lesser quality, you would be mistaken. These were flawless in every way. The fibers are super soft and snuggly, the colors are vibrant, and the gnomes scored a solid 10 on the cuteness meter.

Uncommon Goods - Gnome Onsie & Hat - it's just too cute!

Here’s what I learned (and what I love) about Uncommon Goods:

1. Founded in 1999, they are headquartered in New York City in the old Brooklyn Army Terminal. I know where I’m going the next time I visit NYC.

2. They are committed to supporting artists & designers; half of what they sell is handmade and most of their products are created right here in the USA. As a home crafter, I appreciate this more than I can express.

3. Approximately one-third of their products are made from recycled and/or upcycled materials. As an avid recycler, I love and support this.

4. They have B Corp status, which means they use the power of business to solve social and environmental issues. That B seal also means they meet rigorous standards on issues like wage levels, environmental impact, and giving back to the community. A company with a heart? You betcha.

Even if you don’t buy into the mission, you would be a fool to miss out on the quality and variety of products offered. Even The Complete Package, my beloved husband, gasped aloud “Wow…that blanket feels amazing. It’s so NICE!” Who says men don’t notice such things? He’s all mine, ladies.

Uncommon Goods - Recycled Cotton Fibers

Uncommon Goods - Recycled Fiber Label - Green 3 Apparel

What I love most is how they pulled it all together – great design, recycled materials, handmade products with a high level of craftsmanship, and made in America. Seriously amazing. All of it.

Somewhere in southern California is a wee baby who will someday be swaddled and soothed by these sweet, cuddly gnomes. And somewhere in Houston is a blogger who is appreciative of the folks at Uncommon Goods and their commitment to quality, creativity, and community and who, just for a second or three, contemplated keeping that snuggly blanket for herself. (Hint: it’s me.)

Uncommon Goods - Gnome Blanket

Disclaimer: Uncommon Goods offered to ship products from their selection of Baby Gifts and/or Personalized Gifts. I chose the gnome items from the baby collection, which were sent at no cost to me. I was not compensated for this post, and all opinions are my own. Readers know I only share items I love and feel strongly about, and these sweet gifts certainly fit that bill. -jeanne

Uncommon Goods Info

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Filed under Family Stuff, Miscellaneous Thoughts